Will RR win enough to be brought back after 2010?

Submitted by cjpops on November 30th, 2009 at 1:58 PM

Lots of bad press out there for Rich Rod. Calls for him to be fired, large factions of Michigan supporters who are negative about him, et al. There are even comparisons being drawn between RR and John L. Smith (!!!!).

The prevailing idea is that UM must be better in order for him to keep his job. My question is: how much better?

Given that the preseason predictions (before the 4-0 start blew all rational thought and expectations out of the water for many/most) for the 2009 squad were in the neighborhood of 5-7, 6-6 and 7-5 and the team basically met those (overall record-wise, anyway), where does the team need to finish, record-wise, for Rich Rod to come back another year?

Here's the scenario:

Date Opponent Location My Prediction
9/11 Notre Dame A L
9/18 UMASS H W
9/25 Bowling Green H W
10/2 Indiana A W
10/9 MSU H W
10/16 Iowa H L
10/30 Penn State A L
11/6 Illinois H W
11/13 Purdue A W
11/20 Wisconsin H L
11/27 OSU A L

Total: 6-6

IMO, this isn't enough for the powers that be. I think, in order for RR to keep his job, Michigan has to beat MSU and get that 7th win somewhere. I feel like an upset over UCONN, Iowa or ND is the best chance for that. If they go 7-5 with a win over MSU he stays. If not, he goes. The x-factor situation is a 6-6 or 5-7 season with a win over OSU at the end. That would be a HUGE shock (especially in Columbus) and might be enough to get him through to one more year.

That said, I am a supporter of RR and he should stay until the end of his contract as I believe the team to be on the right track. All indications are that the defense will be troubling again next year, but, if they can get through 2010, the future will be bright. Unfortunately, I just don't see it playing out that way.

DISCLAIMER: These predictions do not factor in any attrition other than graduation from all teams. Clearly, this is not reality, but it's fun to speculate anyway. :)



Clair Voyant

November 30th, 2009 at 9:01 PM ^

Best of luck but Paper Tigers don't win shit. Golly if we would of only had 2 true freshman ( 1 qualified and redshirted, the other academically inelgible and hurt his senior year), and a strugglin sophomore we coulda been a contendah. This mi amigo stretches credulity to the breaking point.


November 30th, 2009 at 5:06 PM ^

"Had Cissoko, Turner and Witty been available this whole year, the team would not have finished 5-7. That's simply the truth."

I suppose you're right, with Cissoko they could've been 4-8 or worse! ;) Cissoko was essentially replaced by a frosh/walk on (which was it?) this year before flaking out. I don't see how having him "available" helps that much. I'll wait and see on Turner and Witty.

"Turner, Witty and Christian are available to add to (if Warren returns) the whole returning secondary. That alone is worth 2 more wins."

I'm not sure that the "whole returning secondary" is that much to get excited about. I hope you are right though, I just don't see where UM (besides experience factor) gets that much better/faster/tougher on defense next year.

Thanks for commenting. :)


November 30th, 2009 at 7:04 PM ^

No. Cissoko was replaced by JT Floyd when he was benched. You'll remember Floyd from the 10 yard cushions in the Michigan State game. After that game, Woolfolk was moved to CB, and Kovacs then started at safety.

Cissoko got burned, yes, but he at least played the press coverage GERG needs his CBs to play to be effective.

Why bother watching if you're not going to be excited about the team? If Warren comes back, every defensive back could be at least a four star recruit, a speedster, or a returning starter (Warren, JT, Emilien and Woolfolk). And, one of the first off the bench will be this year's #3 CB. I don't know why you wouldn't find that exciting.

The downfall of this year's secondary was the safety position where there was inadequate speed. Up until the Iowa game, the secondary was good enough to win. Once Woolfolk switched, the defense became porous. If Kovacs is moved to LB and Emilien, or Christian, or Turner, or Williams, or M-Robinson (who will play Free safety according to his own words) can pan out, those bomb plays which caused losses to Iowa and Purdue are cut out.

And there are at least 2 wins.


December 1st, 2009 at 2:06 AM ^

-Please. I'm always excited about Michigan football. Just not excited about watching them get lit up on the defense again. :)

-What's the difference between getting burned on press coverage (Cissoko) or 10 yard cushions (Floyd)? I don't believe that the defense was only 2 players (1 of which was benched for lack of production) away from being all that much better.

-Moving Kovacs to LB. I'm not sure that's the cure for the poor LB play from this year.

-No matter what, the defense will be faster and theoretically more talented (both good things) as well as (still) young and vulnerable to big plays due to inexperience (not so good) next year. The best college defenses are made up of experienced, upper-classmen with younger players as back ups.

-I have no doubt that you are correct in that Michigan should be faster next year and have all kinds of 4-star players all over the defensive backfield, but, the only way to be vastly better defensively than this year is to have 4-star talent WITH experience. Having only 1 part of that equation (although, that is an improvement) spells marginal improvement next year. I think the UM defense has a chance to be good in 2011 and special in 2012. Next year, I'm afraid we'll see progress, but only slightly. Question is, will it be enough progress to keep RR's job?


November 30th, 2009 at 2:49 PM ^

This is an interesting topic and one that I haven't seen anyone discuss before. It should be some interesting fodder for the clever minds here on hte interwebs.


November 30th, 2009 at 3:13 PM ^

Maybe being overly optimistic here but if this team improves their turnover margin even by a little bit, I think they should win at least 8 games next season.

Sorry, but I don't buy UCONN begin a loss at home. We will be favored in that matchup. I also don't see ND being a loss unless Clausen and Tate return. I just don't see any way that they keep up with our offense without those two.

As far as the Big Ten goes, Indiana, MSU, Illinois, and Purdue are Ws. Iowa and Wisconsin are at home, and I see no reason we will not be competitive in those games. Penn State will be beatable, but on the road it will be tough. Same thing goes with OSU.

IMHO, as long as we don't regress on defense (seems unlikely unless Warren leaves) and our offense reduces the turnovers (2nd year QB, more experience all around), I think 8 wins has to be the goal, with 10 being the ceiling and 6 being the floor.



November 30th, 2009 at 3:41 PM ^

That might be a bit of a stretch to say that. UConn actually has a losing record in the Big Least and a typical year for them is 6-6 with a 3-4 conference record. They are probably on par with ND and not as good as the Wisky team that we somehow manged to beat last year. As a whole, I would say the program is about on par with Purdue or Minnesota at best.

Although next year will probably be an "up" year for them as this was supposed to be a rebuilding year having lost Donald Brown and Tyler Lorenzen.

Fuzzy Dunlop

November 30th, 2009 at 3:50 PM ^

First, we have to can the "Big Least" talk for a while. The Big 10 is not currently a conference that can look down on others.

Second, five of UConn's six losses this year have come against ranked teams. The sixth loss was the result of a last minute lengthy touchdown against a Rutgers team that was ranked as recently as two weeks ago, and came on the heels of the death of UConn's star cornerback (who most likely would have prevented said lengthy touchdown, which, ironically and sadly, was scored by one of his closest friends).

Third, UConn is returning their QB and all of their WRs. Just as we are counting on improving next year, UConn is a young team that will be much-improved as well. They are NOT a weak opponent.

[Edited - on first quick reading, I didn't notice that you had acknowledged that next year would be an "up" year for UConn. My apologies]


November 30th, 2009 at 4:03 PM ^

The Big Ten can still look down on the Big East. Even when the Big Ten is down. That conference is crap. It goes without saying, I don't agree with the "Cincinnati is the best team in Ohio" silliness. From what I have seen of their defense, it is not good.

UConn is 6-5. Michigan would probably be 6-5 with their schedule. Their wins have come against Syracuse, Rhode Island, Ohio, Baylor, Louisville, and Notre Dame. They got outyarded by ND just like we did and they were fortunate to win, just like we were. They may have gotten almost 500 yards against Cincy, but they gave up a staggering 711 yards in that game.

But I agree they won't be a weak opponent for us. They will probably be 7-5 or 8-4 next year. If we are favored, I'd take UConn and the points.


November 30th, 2009 at 3:51 PM ^

It's tough to get out of the mindset, and I'm definitely guilty of it myself, but I don't think the Big East is a joke conference anymore. A 6-6 team there might equate to an Indiana/ Illinois in our Big-10 blinders minds eye but I'd put that on par with our Northwestern/ MSU/ Wisconsin calibers (give or take a particular good or bad season).

See for yourself. The Big East comes in 4th in the latest Sagarin computer conference rankings:


1 SOUTHEASTERN (A) = 80.84
2 PAC-10 (A) = 79.40
3 ATLANTIC COAST (A) = 76.39
4 BIG EAST (A) = 76.30
5 BIG 12 (A) = 74.88
6 BIG TEN (A) = 72.32
7 I-A INDEPENDENTS (A) = 70.00
8 MOUNTAIN WEST (A) = 68.58
10 CONFERENCE USA (A) = 64.92
11 MID-AMERICAN (A) = 60.99

Magnum P.I.

November 30th, 2009 at 7:12 PM ^

in your opinion, what would RR have to do to justify a firing? This is interesting to me: clearly a lot of fans don't want him to go because they fear the uncertainty of starting over again with a new coach, but at some point, you have to cut and run, right? I'd honestly like to know what you think. If he gets a free pass next year, too, regardless of record or signs of improvement, then where would you draw the line if you were AD? At what point would you say, "okay it's time to move on?" If he doesn't make a bowl game in his fourth year? Doesn't finish in the top half of the Big Ten in his fifth year?


December 1st, 2009 at 2:14 AM ^

"If he doesn't make a bowl game in his fourth year? Doesn't finish in the top half of the Big Ten in his fifth year?"

I would definitely say these are clear reasons for him to be fired. If these scenarios happen (and I don't expect them to) then he should definitely be gone.

I wouldn't say he gets a free pass next year, either. The team needs to show improvement in all of the following areas.

1) Defense (they won't be world beaters, but, they need to make progress)

2) Offense execution. Being the highest scoring offense in the Big 10 doesn't mean much if they can't score in the red zone. I expect this to happen here as well with the development of the QB's.

3) Special teams/turnovers. I'm not sure how much of this is coaching, but, UM has a REALLY big problem with TO's (obviously). Somehow, that needs to be fixed.

If there is progress in these areas, the team has a chance to not only go 7-5, but, to win a bowl game. If the team struggles/regresses in more than 1 of these areas, then the record will likely be 5-7 or worse and a firing is justified.

In summary, I would hope that RR is judged by careful consideration of team progress, not simply by overall record. W-L records are misleading. Just imagine if UM had started 0-4 this year, but, finished 5-7. I think the perception of the team and RR would be much different.


November 30th, 2009 at 3:20 PM ^

My speculation...

RichRod needs to win 7 games. It doesn't matter how he does it. 7-5 regular season or 6-6 regular season + shitty bowl win gets the job done.

Despite the complaints that firing Rodriguez after three years is horribly unfair, winning seven games at Michigan only one time in three years is an incredibly low and forgiving standard. Even Indiana managed 7 wins in the third year after Dinardo got fired and Ron Zook managed to win 9 games one time. If a bozo like Zook can pull a nine win season out of his ass at a place like Illinois (which was in far far worse shape when he took over than Michigan when Rodriguez took over) then Rodriguez should be able to reach seven wins in year 3. Next year, the excuses will be gone.

My prediction...

He's not going to do it, and he will get fired.

los barcos

November 30th, 2009 at 4:23 PM ^

with harbaughs rise through the college coaching ranks, rr's seat is going to be much much hotter.

i also agree the excuses will be gone, which is what im looking forward to the most. no more "this was lloyds fault" next year, its year 3 in the system. put up or shut up time.


November 30th, 2009 at 4:29 PM ^

That's a good point about Harbaugh. 2010 will probably be a great year to hire a new coach. 2007 was kind of a lousy one although we appeared to get really lucky when Rodriguez fell into our lap. Remember the stress over the search? There was a dearth of good candidates. Next year, there might be tons, depending upon what happens to some guys this offseason.

Magnum P.I.

November 30th, 2009 at 7:40 PM ^

This is a great point and a great post: the bottom line is, you should not have a losing season three years in a row at U-M. And I agree that this is an incredibly low standard (two years ago, I would have laughed in your face if you'd asked me if a U-M coach deserved another chance after two consecutive losing season). I'm definitely sympathetic to the Misopogon thesis, but if U-M has three losing seasons in a row, that's an indication that something is fundamentally wrong with the way things are being structured.

In this decade only three teams in the Big Ten have strung together three losing season: Indiana (2000-06), Illinois (2002-06), Michigan State (2000-02; 2004-06 TWICE!). If U-M enters that company, the decision makers in the program should change.


November 30th, 2009 at 3:19 PM ^

with huge defensive breakdowns, special teams fiascos, several decommits from this recruting class, shuffling QB's etc., and yes he will be gone. 6-6 with several heartbreaking defeats, an improving offense and competent defense, solid incoming class, he will stay. The decision as to the future after next year will be based on more than record. If he was going to be fired for his record alone it would take place this off-season. Just my take, could be wrong.


November 30th, 2009 at 4:03 PM ^

but, what the hell.
Depending on who he beats, different records will produce different results.

7-5, beating ND, MSU, OSU (STAYS)
7-5, losing to MSU and OSU (Most likely GONE)
8-4, Stays (Although beating OSU is getting paramount)
9-3 or better STAYS
6-6 or worse GONE (Most likely 6-6 means not beating OSU or other rivals)

Much of this would also depend on who is available if season goes badly. UM wouldn't take an "outside the family risk" again. They'd go back to their comfort zone.


November 30th, 2009 at 4:24 PM ^

I think that RichRod can go 7-6, lose all three rivalry games, and still barely hang on ala Charlie Weis in '08. Ultimately he needs to show steady improvement. I don't think those rivalry games take on importance for his job security until 2011 and beyond.

How long he gets without beating Ohio State is an interesting issue. Unlike John Cooper, that's a problem that Rodriguez definitely inherited. That ugly baby is Lloyd's. Even if Rodriguez had done a terrific coaching job the last two years (I don't think he has), Michigan still would have been big underdogs against the Buckeyes. That's why I don't think Rodriguez will get heat over losing to the Buckeyes until at least loss #5 (2012) if he is still around.


November 30th, 2009 at 5:12 PM ^

I think he already has "heat" about losing to OSU. You are one of the only people I've heard describe that "ugly baby as Lloyd's" and I'm thankful! I'm tired of hearing how UM has lost 6 times in a row to OSU. Lloyd's teams lost 4 of those, RR lost with a frosh/injured QB (Tate) and NO QB (sorry Sheridan). Less (un)timely turnovers from the QB position this year and UM might have finished the season on a high note.

I agree with you overall. It doesn't look that good for UM and RR. The Weis in '08 analogy is a good one.


November 30th, 2009 at 4:29 PM ^

is if he 'lost' the team, i.e. like finishing with a 3-9 record, or a 8 game losing streak, might indicate. It would have to be a catastrophic meltdown, one which would necessitate change for the good of the team. I don't believe Michigan-and I'm talking about the administration- has a trigger happy, desperate for a win, kind of mentality. I believe they will take a mature approach and give the man time to develop his program past 2010.


November 30th, 2009 at 8:24 PM ^

I don't really believe there is a magic number of wins or combination of teams he needs to beat in order to keep his job. I think a winning record and steady improvement throughout the year should probably be enough for RR to be retained for 2011. A difficult call would be what to do if the offense ends up being spectacular and the defense remains terrible. Another factor will be what the 2011 recruiting class is like towards the end of the season. Who knows, but I hope for the best.