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02/04/2011 - 3:55pm The M&B column is flawed in

The M&B column is flawed in several ways, but I think he makes some good points.

The way I see it is, criticisms of "The Process" are two-fold:

1) DB knew he was going to fire RR at the end of the Big Ten season but he waited until after the bowl game for reasons unknown.  Therefore, he is clearly an idiot who doesn't understand football or college athletics or basic arithmetic.

2) Either (a) DB knew from the outset that he wanted Hoke without having ever met him, and "The Process" was just a sham meant to appease the fan base; or (b) DB is so incompetent that he just went with a guy whom he knew would take the job, even though said guy has never seen a football before and doesn't know how to coach.

 

Regarding #1: Perhaps I'm "misremembering" things here, but wasn't Brian still on board-- though wavering-- with Rodriguez getting another year after the OSU game, but after the bowl game he essentially wrote that keeping Rodriguez could no longer be justified?  Is it so hard to believe DB felt the same way?  Some will say that it should have been obvious that RR needed to go after the OSU game.  That's a fair opinion, but I don't think it's unreasonable for someone to have felt otherwise.  Things weren't where they needed to be, obviously, but there had been some positives and I'm sure at that point DB would have preferred to ride it out with RR rather than put the program through another coaching transition if at all possible.  That possiblity pretty much desolved by mid-way through the third quarter of the Gator Bowl.

Regarding #2a: It's possible, I suppose, but I don't think it's plausible.  If Brandon's plan was to broom RR and bring in Hoke from the beginning, he could have easily done so after the OSU game (as many say he should have); the fact that he didn't do this, give that it would have been preferable to what actually happened, belies the assumption that this was his intent.  If you accept that DB was willing to stick it out with RR until the Gator Bowl debacle, but you assume that immediately thereafter he knew Hoke was his one and only, then what you are assuming is that DB had his heart absolutely set on a mid-level head coach with a mediocre record without having ever met him, even at the exclusion (at that time) of Jim Harbaugh.  Again, I don't think that's plausible.  Here you may object that DB himself was told all sorts of glowing things about Hoke by others before he had actually spoken with him; true, but isn't that part of "The Process?"  And if he settled on Hoke in large part because of what his peers said about him, doesn't that belie the charge that "The Process" was a sham?

Regarding #2b: This is probably the most common charge brought against Dave Brandon: he's a moron who couldn't hire a good coach so he hired a crappy one.  But this argument relies on the premise that Hoke is not a good coach, or at least not as good as some other coaches Brandon could have gotten.  There are reasonable arguments to be made here-- perhaps Hoke will fail miserably here, or perhaps he will have marginal success where someone else could have been the next Fielding Yost-- but keep in mind that this, in itself, is not an indictment of "The Process;" it is a criticism of the final outcome.

And I think that's pretty much where most DB critics are at; they don't like the fact that Platonic-Form-of-Football-Coach is not at the helm of their Michigan Wolverines following three disastrous seasons, and someone must be held accountable.  In this, the buck stops with Dave Brandon.  Similarly, Brian made has made it clear for the past three years that he doesn't think Brady Hoke has any business being discussed as a serious candidate for the Michigan job, let alone being the guy they hire.  If we accept that Hoke was not even close to the best choice of all feasible choices, and yet we are faced with the reality that Brady Hoke has been chosen, then we must find some explanation-- hence we get all of these critical theories about how flawed "The Process" was and how incompetent Dave Brandon is.  As much as I love Brian Cook and mgoblog (and seriously, I think Brian is a breath of fresh air in the sports media world, and I am a total mgoaddict), I find the rigidity in his thinking here rather uncharacteristic: Never is there any doubt that he has been 100% dead-on bullseye right in his evaluation of Brady Hoke as a football coach.  Neither is there doubt that the other options he has considered superior on the basis of record and age alone either weren't as feasibly hired as he assumed or simply weren't actually superior when evaluating coaches on a Gestalt basis using several varied criteria.  In other words, Brian assumes he knows more about coaches he has never met, nor whose personal and professional references he has never heard, than a man who has met them and heard those references, or Brian assumes he knows more about what it takes to be a successful head coach than Dave Brandon does.  Heck, maybe he does know more about what it takes to be a successful head coach than DB does, but I think to assume that DB is an incompetent boob at this point is more than a little unfair, and to continue to take petty jabs at him and at Hoke like this is rather immature.  As flawed as the M&B column was, I think that's where it hit the nail on the head-- Stop with the sniping and the moaning already and move on.

 

02/04/2011 - 2:19pm Perhaps they just like real

Perhaps they just like real diversity, not the fashionable ivory tower "diversity" which is defined as seperate groups of superficially similar people who purportedly think the same way.

02/02/2011 - 7:06pm Dude, is that really

Dude, is that really necessary?  I've met several ass pirates and they're actually really nice guys.

01/29/2011 - 11:53am Having spent the last three

Having spent the last three years in Baltimore, I think the snow may be a positive-- Cooper will see what it looks like when the local government actually has half a clue about how to handle snow removal.

01/20/2011 - 5:37pm Well, that offensive unit was

Well, that offensive unit was certainly more talented/experienced than this year's defense, but overall it really was a relatively poor squad by Michigan standards.  They couldn't run the ball that well (wasn't B.J. Askew our leading rusher that year?), and they couldn't really pass the ball.  Basically Marquise Walker was our entire offense.  The defense was pretty solid, if I remember correctly, though the secondary was pretty underwhelming aside from a Freshman Marlin Jackson (remember "The Suspects"?).  To this day I don't know how Lloyd Carr squeezed eight wins out of that team (even if it was a down year for the Big 10), and I've long maintained that 2001 was his finest coaching job, even if it was a season we all wanted to forget.  Despite all their woes that team only lost three regular season games, all by less than a touchdown (and one of those due to a cheating clock worker in East Lansing).  Of course, they went on to get curb stomped by Tennessee in the bowl game.... but I think that only accents what an amazing job Carr and his staff did that season.

Anyway, I appreciate the point made by the OP.  I think it's one that Brian has touched on in the past as well.  With as many freshmen and reshirt freshmen forced into starting roles as there were on our defense, there was simply no way it was ever going to be a good unit.  That said, though, I think GERG did very little to help; the picture on the front page of Roh at NT on first and goal pretty much sums up that point.  If, as a defensive coordinator, one's primary job is to put one's players in the best position to have success, then Greg Robinson failed spectacularly (though RR deserves some responsibility for asking him to run a defense he didn't know well).  For that reason, I think excitement over replacing a horrible defensive coordinator with a very good defensive coordinator is entirely understandable.

01/18/2011 - 3:06pm I hate to say it, because I

  Dave Brandon was spinning.  That's what happens at press conferences.  Do you think it would have been preferable had DB said, "Well, he wasn't our first choice... really, not even our second or third choice, but I think Hoke is a fine coach and Michigan will do well with him."  No, of course not.  Brandon knows that one of the most important determinents of success going forward will be the degree to which everyone is united and on the same page (especially after the last three years).  He HAD to come out in full-throated support of his new coach; he HAD to do his best to squash any rumblings about how Michigan had to "settle" or how Hoke wasn't a great hire.

Of course, Brian knows this.  I think the real problem here is that Brian doesn't like the hire of Brady Hoke.  He has made it abundantly clear for the past several years that he doesn't think Brady Hoke should have ever even received consideration for the job.  If Brandon had hired Gary Patterson or been able to snag Harbaugh, I doubt Brian would be complaining about Brandon's spin job in the aftermath.

Of course, criticisms about the timing are valid, but I tend to think it's not quite as disasterous as others seem to.

01/10/2011 - 1:40pm If Hoke coaches this team to

If Hoke coaches this team to 10 wins next year there will be those who complain the team had the talent to win 12.

I can't say that Hoke is one of the best coaches in the country, but I think Michigan could certainly do a lot worse.  He's a good coach.  Maybe not a GREAT coach, but truly great coaches don't grow on trees.  More than that, he'd be a good fit for the program-- which, as we've all learned over the past three years, is more important than one might think.

There was only one "perfect" candidate for this job, and he's now with the 49ers.  The rest all have their question marks.  It's up to DB to decide who's pros outweigh their cons.

01/09/2011 - 3:20pm My fiancee and I were just

My fiancee and I were just looking at a football couch for our TV room..

01/09/2011 - 2:56pm This doesn't even make

This doesn't even make sense.  If Les Miles was enemy #1 three years ago, why is he apparently now a viable option?  Because he aligned himself with the Lloyds?  The Lloyds so despised Rodriguez that they made a Faustian bargain with public enemy #1?  And do we forget that Dave Brandon himself would be a "Schembechler" in this dramatis personae? 

If this account is true, it belies the "LM slept with Moeller's wife" rumor, doesn't it?  I mean, that rumor implies that Carr hates Miles because he wronged Moeller, who was undoubtedly a Schembechler guy.  And for that matter, Carr himself coached under Schembechler for a decade.  Does anyone really believe this is all about Carr's ego and his desire to elevate himself above Schembechler?  I think it's more likely that Carr didn't want Miles because Miles is a sleazy, unscrupulous guy (whether it's because the Moeller's wife thing is true, or just the negative recruiting stuff), and stuff that has transpired in the three years since then certainly seems to corroborate that characterization.  I find it hard to believe that Miles was able to heal this rift simply by "aligning himself" with the "Lloyds" in backroom efforts to sabotage Rodriguez (which, like, how on earth could he do this from Baton Rouge?), especially if Rodriguez's original sin was not being a Lloyd guy himself.  If Carr still has the clout in Ann Arbor to keep Harbaugh from getting a sniff, why wouldn't he also have the clout to do the same to Miles (like he did three years ago)?  And if he has that kind of clout with MSC, how did he get shown the door last Summer by a Schembechler guy?

01/08/2011 - 7:47pm Yes, I understood his point

Yes, I understood his point from a risk/reward perspective.  I concede the Brady anology was not apt, but the Favre anology isn't bad (the Pack gave up a first round pick for him and he hadn't shown anything in his year at Atlanta). 

Regardless, I disagree with your poker anology for the same reason I agree with statement to which my post was directed.  A deck of cards is a known quantity.  We can accurately calculate probabilities with the confidence that we know those quantities.  You are assuming that "coaching resume," (defined as wins/losses, championships, perceived success as an assistant, etc.) represents the total quantity from which the probability of success at Michigan can be estimated.  My point is that you can't simply quantify what makes a successful coach (or what will make one successful at a given coaching position) with such ease and confidence.  People are not cards in a deck.

I will stipulate that Hoke's resume is not as gilded as some other potential candidates.  From there, though, you conclude that if he is hired and succeeds, Brandon must therefore have simply gotten lucky.  I would conclude that Brandon likely knew something that we didn't, or at any rate used more factors in estimating the probability of success than you did.  You say that Rich Rodriguez, despite all that has happened, was still a smart hire-- because you assume that your criteria for determining the quality of a candidate is accurate and complete.  But perhaps if other things besides "coaching resume" are taken into account (like "program fit," or regional knowledge/recruiting ties, or ability to handle recruiting for a more academicaly demanding school, for instance), the hire doesn't look quite as smart and his failure here can be more logically explained instead of resorting to an assumption of "bad luck."  By the same token, perhaps there are other factors not as easily taken into account that may make Hoke a better candidate than some others with apparently better resumes.  If we don't take as our premise that Dave Brandon is an incompetent moron who doesn't know the first thing about football, then it may make more sense (given a Brady Hoke success) to conclude that Brandon understood those factors and took them into account when making his decision.

01/08/2011 - 6:20pm The man was brought here

Double post. sorry

01/08/2011 - 6:17pm The man was brought here

The man was brought here to do a complete overhaul which takes time.

A complete overhaul of the offensive scheme was expected, and if that was the problem with the team on the field, I think people would understand a little more.  But the offensive transition is pretty much complete at this point; the offense is the only phase of the team at which the team looks remotely competent.  A complete overhaul of the defense and special teams was neither expected nor required, nor was it really attempted in my opinion-- but RichRod (whom I like, by the way) presided over the worst defensive and special teams units in the history of the school.  That is why he lost so many games so spectacularly, and that is why he was fired.

01/08/2011 - 3:18pm My prediction is that the

My prediction is that the tide of the rivalry will change and most likely when the NCAA sanctions OSU.  It where there is smoke there is fire.  This will happen and it will be sooner than most people think.

Well, sometimes where there's smoke there's a Free Press reporter rubbing two sticks together.....

01/08/2011 - 12:52pm I feel like people are

I feel like people are missing out on an important point here: even if Brady Hoke ends up being a massive success it is still a bad hire.

Um..... What?!  Isn't that a little like saying Tom Brady was a bad draft pick?  Or perhaps that Antonio Gates was a bad signing for the Chargers?  Or that trading for Brett Favre was a bad move by the Packers? 

The proof of the pudding is in the tasting.  If DB hires Hoke and he ends up returning Michigan to the college football elite in short order... Given all the skepticism and negativity thrown around about how Hoke has never seen a football before I think massive success would pretty much make it a brilliant hire.

I'm not saying Hoke will do that, but I do think the hate people have for him here is a little irrational.  I don't know if he's the best hire for Michigan, but it's pretty clear the guy can coach.

12/12/2010 - 12:57pm Actually, Michigan ran a lot

Actually, Michigan ran a lot of option and misdirection and-- yes-- ran quite a bit out of the T-formation back then.  The OP seems to consider a "traditional Big Ten Offense" to be an offense that tends to run out of formations one typically sees on Sundays.  I can kind of understand using that distinction in this context, as I think the concern is whether or not the 3-3-5 can stop run plays using lots of really big, strong dudes in the middle of the field, but there is a difference between the 2010 Wisconsin offense, which was primarily a power run game out of the I-set, and the Mike Hart Michigan offenses, which constantly ran the zone stretch with a single back.

12/01/2010 - 6:25pm Irrelevant

Regardless of why Rodriguez was hired (whether it was explicitly to revolutionize the program, out of desperation, or simply because he was considered a damn good coach), the fact remains that he was hired with the knowledge that it would in fact result in a revamping of the program. 

I was not among those who thought Michigan needed to be "dragged into the 21st century," and in fact I was never a big fan of the various spread offense incarnations.  I was not big on the Rodriguez hire when it happened.  But when it happened, I understoond that such a drastic shift in philosophy would require a painful readjustment period.  Again, this remains true regardless of whether or not such a shift in philosophy was the reason for the hire; desired or not, the shift was there, and indeed this understanding was a reason some opposed the hire in the first place.

This is also irrelevant because at this point that shift is essentially complete.  Regardless of whether or not he was brought in specifically to revamp our offense into something flashy and cutting edge, the fact is he has pretty much already done that.  If that transition was the whole story, we probably would have challenged for a conference title this year and the posts prohibited on this forum by PGB would simply not be happening.  As it happens, however, while the offense has emerged from a painful transition as something good and potentially phenomenal, the other two phases of the game have undergone an historic and incomprehensible collapse.  A defensive/special teams transition was not really anticipated, and probably unnecessary; the depths to which they have sunk, even allowing for all the excuses (legitimate or not), is simply unacceptible.  And I say that as someone who has supported Rodriguez since he was hired, even though I didn't like the hire, because I was "all in."

EDIT: And I also say this as someone who is not opposed to keeping Rodriguez on.  What he's done with the offense is amazing, and it's not unthinkable to assume the defense will get to at least a level of "good enough" as they continue to grow and gain experience.  I'm just rebutting the idea that the "wanted/didn't want a revolution" split is the reason for the divided fanbase at this current juncture, aside from those who simply didn't want Rodriguez to begin with and won't like him no matter what.

10/07/2010 - 12:58am Or he could be saying
Or he could be saying that

Or he could be saying that Denard is so good he is not only the front-runner but also the runner-up. What a creative imagination.

Perhaps he's saying that the runner-up for the Heisman is actually Denard's invisible twin brother, Tacolace....

09/26/2010 - 1:52am I wholeheartedly agree. Why

I wholeheartedly agree. Why Neuheisel isn't amongst the list of hot seat coaches is beyond me.

 

You have to wait until the NCAA is about to put your program on probation before you can fire Rick Neuheisel.

09/22/2010 - 8:27pm "I thought Mouton biffed on,

"I thought Mouton biffed on, when in reality he met his assignment and forced the play back to Ezeh's imaginary not-out-of-position twin."

And his name would be what?  BurritoHelmet?

11/22/2009 - 8:57pm Both names are germanic in

Both names are germanic in origin. "Weiss" is german for "white." Just like "Schwartz," a not uncommon name, is german for "black." It has nothing to do with being Jewish or not, it's just that many Jewish immigrants came from german-speaking countries.

11/14/2009 - 10:40pm Get him on the court and he's

Get him on the court and he's trouble.

10/24/2009 - 12:29am My girlfriend is great. Not

My girlfriend is great. Not only does she LOVE Michigan football, but she reads mgoblog. Like, she reads it more than I do. And she posts more than I do on the forum. She also loves basketball (Michigan and the Pistons), and she plays and watches golf. Unfortunately, she doesn't like hockey or baseball, but she does enjoy going to Yost and Comerica (if only for the hotdogs). She's also willing to watch the Wings with me if it's a playoff game, even though she doesn't particularly enjoy it; she's just that good. The one thing that hurts is that she doesn't like pro football, and it's pretty difficult to get disinterested people to enjoy watching the Lions. Maybe they'll be good some day... In the meantime, I'm satisfied that I have the best sports girlfriend in the world.

10/02/2009 - 11:46am Perhaps a little more than

Perhaps a little more than usual, but not much. Moving the QB under center eliminates the zone-read, which is our bread and butter. I don't think the rain will have that deletarious an impact on shotgun staps anyway, or at least not terribly disproportionate to snaps from under center. (knock on wood)

09/29/2009 - 4:16pm I concede there's some merit

I concede there's some merit to this. It would be interesting to know whether or not (and to what degree) the statistics bear this observation out. Regardless, while it's not the same thing (as you say), I'm tempted to say it's a distinction with little difference. Regardless of our tendencies on first down, more often then not it was the pass (or at least the threat thereof) that opened up the run, not the other way around, and this flies in the face of our received wisdom of Carr practicing "Bo ball."

It's probably safe to say that Lloyd would have preferred to run every down if he could get away with it, but I think Rodriguez probably feels the same way. The difference is, Rodriguez's offenses have been able to actually do so to a greater degree than Lloyd's could.

09/29/2009 - 12:44pm Correct. And I said that

Correct. And I said that your post was nostalgia and sweeping generalizations masquerading as detailed analysis: your co-worker's nostalgia, your sweeping generalizations. To be fair, many parts of my post were directed as much or more to some of the other commenters here, not specifically to your OP.

Please don't get me wrong. I do genuinely appreciate the effort. But as far as you stats are concerned, without doing much more than eye-balling, I have some questions about possible restriction of range and statistical significance. More importantly, though, I think your conclusions about a fundamental difference between Bo and Rodriguez are misguided, as I suggested in my original reply.

All the best, and Go Blue!

09/29/2009 - 11:22am Nostalgia masquerading as statistical analysis.

No offense, but this is nostalgia and sweeping generalization masquerading as a detailed analysis. Thinking back on it now, we have this image in our head of "Bo ball," as three yards and a cloud of dust, but like most heuristics it's only true to an extent, and in the end is an oversimplification that just doesn't tell us that much.

Some years Bo ran the option. Some years Bo ran the power I. In later years Bo utilized the vertical passing game much more. You could do the same for the Moeller or Carr eras. Some years Carr dinked and dunked more, some years Carr used a dynamic vertical passing game, some years Carr used a power run game, some years he used a zone running game. With the exception of Mike Hart's prolific years (and perhaps Perry's senior season), I think it's safe to say that over the course of Carr's tenure Michigan gradually became a pass-first team. People will disagree with that because Carr preferred to run and we have this idealized "Bo ball" type image in our mind, but if you think back to the Brady era and beyond, most years we were forced to pass to set up the run more than the other way around (2001, during which we could do neither, notwithstanding). Now, some would argue that's because we had great quarterbacks like Brady and Henson and Henne, but that does nothing to diminish this point.

Moreover, because college football has been dominated by pro-style offenses for so long, and perhaps because of Nebraska's panicked eschewing of the option after a blowout to a more talented Miami team and their precipitous decline thereafter, we seem to think Rodriguez's offense is something completely new. That's not entirely the case. Rodriguez has been innovative in some ways, but I think even he would admit that the basic concepts he's using have been around for a long time. Even the "spread" has been around since the pre-war era-- it was just forgotten. And as with many things in life, what is old becomes new again. Look at Paul Johnson's success at Georgia Tech. Do you think he's doing something new? Probably not, but it's new to today's defenses. The concepts he uses are essentially the same ones Rodriguez employs; recently Johnson said as much, noting that because it looks more spread out when Rodriguez does it people say "give it time" when it doesn't work, whereas when Johnson's offense doesn't work people say "it will never work!" Why do I bring this up? Watch this video. Watch the offense Michigan runs on the first drive. What does it look like you? Does it look familier, but maybe a little scrunched together?

Not the spread, no. No zone read, certainly. But can you honestly look at that and tell me Rodriguez and a young Bo are like night and day? Really? Watch that second play from scrimmage. Doesn't it remind you just a little of Tate Forcier hitting a quick out while rolling out with the line shifting playside?

Regarding this business about average margin of victory in wins and losses: To look at that and say that Bo's victories were by three touchdowns while his losses were by a touchdown or less is to misunderstand what the mean tells you. The mean tells you what the "average" is, certainly, but it doesn't tell you how you got there. Any statistician will tell you that the mean is susceptible to outliers, and that if you just know the mean then you don't know much. What is the range? What is the standard deviation? What are the medians and modes? What are the interquartile ranges? If you win one game by 3 points, two games by 10 points, one game by 17 points, and one game by 70 points, what is the average margin of victory? 22 points. Did you win every game by three touchdowns? Hardly. Is it possible that in your three point victory you didn't play that well? You tell me.

Finally, if you don't think every coach aims to execute their plays to perfection, and is caused endless consternation when they aren't, then you don't understand big time coaches. What do you think Bill Walsh was all about? What do you think he meant by, "There's no defense for a perfectly thrown ball"? The "west coast offense" was as much about how Walsh had his teams practice and prepare as it was about X's and O's. Was Walsh not innovative?

What happened to Rodriguez's team last year when they didn't execute? Did they win? Did RichRod's un-Bo-like scheming and innovation carry his squad to victory despite piss-poor execution?

09/29/2009 - 10:17am You say that you "recall App

You say that you "recall App State's players saying they knew what Michigan was going to do every down, that our players were slow and out of shape," then say " the 'we will out-execute you even if you know what's coming' didn't quite cut it that game, even though we supposedly had better players." Aren't these statements contradictory? Didn't the "out-execute you even if you know what's coming" not work because they didn't out-execute their opponent? Isn't it contradictory to say that we had better players and yet that our players played slow and were out of shape? We lost that game because we didn't start to execute until the very end of the game, and by that point it was too late.

09/26/2009 - 3:46pm Listening to Pam Ward talk is

Listening to Pam Ward talk is like cleaning out my ear canal with a sandpaper Q-tip. I understand she's a woman working in a man's world, but does she have to affect the most masculine voice possible? She sounds like she's about to start talking about how much she puts up on the bench press.

09/24/2009 - 8:59pm Brian, it's also worth noting

Brian, it's also worth noting that the reason this play is successful is because Michigan has EMU outnumbered at the point of attack. The line leave the backside end unblocked (as they always do on the zone read, of course), but as you explain he is forced to take himself out of the play to contain the QB; in this way, as you've mentioned, he is "blocked" by the QB. But the other side of this coin is equally important to mention: this (along with the trips left pulling the Will/dime out wide in his alignment) leaves Michigan with five blockers on four defenders in the box, since the strong safety (who appears to be dropping back into deep coverage) is a good 13 yards from scrimmage and hugging the numbers when Brown gets the ball. It's this numbers advantage that makes this play work even though the defensive line was slanting toward the direction of the play.

I'm surprised you didn't mention this given the video of RichRod himself explaining this play that's currently posted on SmartFootball.

Love the blog. This is my first post, but I've been reading for years. Keep up the good work.