Who Can We Reasonably Expect to Replace Gerg Next Year?

Submitted by Clarence Beeks on November 1st, 2010 at 1:34 PM

This is obviously putting the cart before the horse, since Gerg still has a job, but I'm interested in seeing a discussion of who might be a legitimate and reasonable option to replace him come season's end.  I know that there is some discussion of this in other threads, but I thought it would be good to try to consolidate the discussion in one place so that it doesn't get lost and/or repeated.

Edit - This thread is based upon the (obvious) premise that Rodriguez returns next year.



November 1st, 2010 at 3:20 PM ^

I don't get it.  Is GERG not entitled to the same excuses that RichRod is?  If the defense is bad because (as we've heard endlessly) they're young, inexperienced, injured, transferred, etc...why blame that on GERG?  

Frankly, I'm just arguing for a little logical consistency here.  If RR gets those excuses, so should GERG.  If GERG isn't entitled to them, then both RR and GERG deserve to be fired (barring a miraculous resurgence at the end of this season).

I'll also drop this little gem about RR's first DC who has turned around GERG's shitty defense at Syracuse:  http://apps.detnews.com/apps/blogs/bigtenblog/index.php?blogid=2500


November 1st, 2010 at 4:21 PM ^

is #4 in the country... GERG's defense is not.  If you are under the delusion that GERG's defense will be #4 or better overall in his 3rd year, I am sad to say you're wrong.  I understand this is under the assumption that RR is solely responsible for the offense and GERG solely for the defense.


November 1st, 2010 at 4:39 PM ^

That's not at all my point.  RR has an OC (McGee) and a DC (GERG).  While his preference is offense, RR is the coach of the entire team.  So, RR's offense is #4 and RR's defense is #117 (or something comparably shitty) and his special teams kinda suck as well.  I don't expect big improvement on the defense next year.

People excuse the defense due to youth, inexperience and whatnot.  So, my question was merely why excuse RR but not GERG if you buy that excuse (which I do not).  If RR can use the excuse, so should GERG.  Since few people want GERG to stay, I just wonder why they aren't more consistent...is it only because being logically consistent means RR gets the boot?


November 1st, 2010 at 5:46 PM ^

Sure RR deserves blame for hiring GERG, but I think most people see that we do have 1/2 of a BCS quality team (special teams aside). If we give up RR then we start from scratch. If we give up GERG at this point what do we lose? Absolutely nothing. So the question is do we trust RR to have another go at finding a DC or just cut our losses now? Wouldn't want to be Dave Brandon.


November 1st, 2010 at 6:46 PM ^

So if you discount our poor special teams, then we have 1/2 of a quality team?  That's not exactly high praise.   I'm guessing from your comment that you don't buy the "youth/inexperience" argument...which is understandable.

To answer your question (do we trust RR to find another DC or do we cut our losses)...I maintain that we need to wait for the season to play out before making that call (unless our team is woefully unprepared to play Illinois).  My leaning at this point, however, is to say no.  No, I don't trust RR to hire a third DC in 4 years.  It's much more likely that the problem is the head coach.  

I don't buy the "starting from scratch" concern should be fire RR.  Even a pro-style coach like Harbaugh has too many common recruits with our current squad for that to be an issue.  Even if that weren't the case, keeping RR for fear of getting worse (especially given that he's the worst coach in the history of the program) is the wrong way to go about making that decision.


November 1st, 2010 at 7:40 PM ^

Bring in a reasonable kicker and we'll be fine at special teams. Sure I buy that we are young and inexperienced, it's painfully obvious. But I don't think it has to translate in one of the very worst defenses in all of college football. Bottom of the B10 and below national average I could swallow but not this.

I also agree you can't keep RR soley on the basis of preventing another coaching transition, but likewise firing RR without considering if we can get a better replacement makes little sense. I still think firing GERG we lose nothing, firing RR we do lose something.


November 1st, 2010 at 8:17 PM ^

Again, we have a highly regarded kicker.  We also have a garbage special teams coach.  Maybe if we replace the coach, we'll see improvement in FG kicking, kickoffs, returns and attention to detail.  

Of course we don't fire RR without considering if we can get a better replacement.  Who said that???  I just don't believe you'd need to search very far to find someone better than the worst ever.

Yinka Double Dare

November 1st, 2010 at 8:00 PM ^

Special teams is more like 1/6 of a team (at least if you believe Football Outsiders), and the punting part of our special teams has become pretty solid, Hagerup is the real deal.  Returns are marginal, and the field goal kicking is obviously terrible.  But I'm not really sure what the hell the coaches can do about that outside of finding another kicker in recruiting. 


November 1st, 2010 at 3:27 PM ^

fire all you want it will do no good. We need the young guys to get experience and RR to keep recruiting quality players for D.  Think about this, if we had an average defense we would be undeafeated!

Blue Blue Blue

November 1st, 2010 at 4:36 PM ^

lets face it, the man knows the personnel, has personally analyzed every snap of the last few years.   He will create much cooler terminology and he can tap into us when he needs schematic assistance.

My name ... is Tim

November 1st, 2010 at 5:43 PM ^

Why is it that we would want RichRod to hire a defensive coordinator who has experience in the 3-3-5? Why wouldn't our ideal be that RichRod move to a 4-3, taking a DB off the field and installing a smashmouth defense with a coordinator who can run a smashmouth defense? Can we talk about taking up a collection for that?

Sorry, but Jeff Casteel isn't going to come in and magically turn our current defensive backfield into the days of Charles, Marlin, and Leon. He did run the 3-3-5 successfully at times with RichRod, but in 2006 WVU had the 109th ranked pass defense in the country. 

He's not a miracle worker. We need a schematic change as well as a coaching change on the defensive side of the ball, that much is very clear. I'm not even saying the 3-3-5 is inherently bad, I just think it's inherently bad in a system where you have a disgraced former head coach with little to no experience with the 3-3-5 pulling the strings on a defense that is woefully untalented in the defensive backfield. 


November 1st, 2010 at 7:08 PM ^

look at Nick Holt @ washington.  Great at USC.. At washington not so much..There are Dc's that can coach good players into great players..there are DC's that can coach up players into good players.  we need the latter.


November 1st, 2010 at 9:27 PM ^

My thought was to have DB step up and make a statement. If I were DB I'd put together a small commity and go find the biggest whale dc money can buy. I'd tell this dc that he can hire in who ever he wants and will have full control of the defense and will get 3 year deal reguardless of what happens with RR. I would then turn to RR and say I'm going to sign you for another two years on the basis that you have minimal input into the defense.

  With the idea you keep the sweet offense and make for a stable head coach situtation. You give the d the best chance at turning things around and you get the dc out from under RRs thumb.

[email protected]

November 5th, 2010 at 3:49 AM ^

I am reluctant to believe that changing just defensive coordinators will magically transform underclassmen athletes into a honed defensive squad.  There are some fundamental issues:

1)  Many people blame it entirely on GERG, because lack of leadership, which may partially true, but if anything he may be just too fancy for his subordinate coaches and underclassmen players.

2) GERG never had a chance to pick his own defensive coaches, and most of them came with Rich Rodriguez from WVU.  There seems to be constant lack of development in the defensive squad.  If anything, they seem to cobble together some fundamentals, and try to throw together a squad for games that seem to lack any cohesion or confidence.  Hence, the defense fails to wrap up tackles in space, and cannot provide tight coverage in either man-to-man or zone configurations.  

3) Progress will first begin with developing the younger players against the offenses they will see, not Rodriguez's spread offense.  The Rodriguez spread offense perhaps has been Michigan's worst enemy for developing a good defense, because it is so variable and explosive.  Defenders can't get any confidence or sense of achievement.  At best, the defenders just try to avoid screwing up badly.

As a result, if GERG leaves or does not leave, it is time for many of the defensive and Special teams coaches, who came from WVU, to leave.  I would talk to Ron English at EMU, and see if he would be interested in a trial at DC, and who he would like to bring with him in terms of coaching staff.  His record at EMU has not been great, but he was effective while he was at Michigan.  More importantly, he would bring a fresh squad of defensive coaches.  I am afraid the WVU-bred D-coaches are not developing the fundamentals in the young players, and allow too many bad habits to fester, e.g. the wandering Obi Ezeh.  This Michigan defensive squad had some confidence earlier in this season, but crumbles too easily, not to mention injuries.  

Whoever leads the defensive coaches must be a good recruiter, and can be respected by Rich Rod to lead the defensive squad.  We will lose a few seniors, but there is still a lot of defensive recruiting needed.  Now that we are out form under the spectre of the NCAA investigation, and assuming Brandon does not release Rodriguez at the end of this year, we will need at least two years to build a solid defense, but anything would be an improvement over the last two years.

Perhaps, Rich Rod should consider an offensive scout team that is specifically coached to research opposing team offenses and train the defense against them, instead of trying to run down Denard or Tate.  It will let build confidence and focus them on what will matter on Saturdays, instead of being cannon fodder for our offense.

Release the special teams coach - they just have not developed the placekickers or return specialists. Both groups are walking on eggshells, hoping they will not screw up, instead of focusing on nailing the next challenge.  Avoid tantrums and give the team a set of progressive goals and challenges that will bring them up to a respectable level.  Give me placekicker, who can hit 80-90% at up to 40-45 yards, and it changes the equation on offense.  Touchdowns are great, but field goals after grinding out 6-8 minutes of a drive extend leads and maintain momentum.  Along with the spread, a good offense and scoring will help our defense.  

I am reluctant to feel that Jim Harbaugh will solve all our problems on defense overnight, rather it may delay development, if there too many departures during a transition.  


November 5th, 2010 at 10:18 AM ^

Do you remember the first game of 2007?  Or perhaps that stretch of years where we were perpetually unable to respond to modern offense schemes that did anything other than keep their QB on a leash in the pocket?  I spent enough time as a student praying for a replacement for Ron English that I find a suggestion of his return personally offensive.