Wednesday, January 12, 2011

They’ve Gone and Done It Again

Well, Michigan finally has a new football coach.

And in my view, they probably just made it worse.

Sure Rich Rodriguez held hands and sang Josh Groban at a football dinner. And there was that embarrassment in the bowl game. And there were some practice violations.

And then there were loudmouth fans (most of whom never coached a sport a day in their life assuming that yelling at their TV set doesn’t qualify as coaching).

They were complaining that no progress was being made under RichRod.

I am going to go out on a limb and suggest that it’s a sad testimony to the state of thinking among Ann Arborites when going from three wins to five wins to seven wins isn’t considered progress. I’ll admit to not being a genius, but I think more wins is better than fewer wins. Even Michigan State people know that’s progress.

Sure they didn’t beat MSU, OSU, or win any other big games. They struggled a lot. The defense was pathetic, if it could even be called a defense. The offense was schizophrenic.

But RichRod had a tall order. He had to come into a starched shirt environment of “old money” types and break the mold.

You see, I think Lloyd Carr left in 2007 for a reason. The handwriting was on the wall for him. The UM program was stagnant at best, and probably could be accurately described as declining. People were whining big time about him and his play calling. He was getting some relatively good recruiting classes and not bringing home the bacon with them.

On top of that, the “Big 10 football” he was coaching (the three yards and a cloud of dust) was not winning nationally. If you doubt that, just take a look at the Big 10 bowl record. It isn’t particularly pretty. And if that isn’t enough, look at the schools that are winning. They don’t play “Big 10 football.” But they know how to beat “Big 10 football.”

So UM hired RichRod. He was at least their second choice, and perhaps their third. It was bungled from the very beginning. And it brought a different personality and a different style of playing. But it was one that had worked wherever he had gone.

He had the big job of taking a declining program playing a subpar style of football and turning it into something that could compete nationally.

And that takes time.

Sure he made mistakes. Lots of them. He seemed out of touch at times.

And recruiting was subpar, though I imagine it’s hard to recruit someone who isn’t convinced your going to be their coach in two years because the style that he coaches and the style you want to play is not popular where he is trying to get you to come and play.

But the luster seems gone from Michigan, at least for a time.

For evidence, see how hard it has been for UM to find a coach. UM alum Harbaugh stiffed them for the NFL and Les Miles decided to stay at LSU. Petersen, Pinckel, and others wouldn’t even talk to them.


Only they know. But apparently even Boise State, and who knows where else, is considered better than UM these days.

My guess is that this didn’t make it any better.

How will Brady Hoke do? Who knows. He has had success at schools with a different level of competition. And let’s face it, winning against the competition at Ball State or SDSU isn’t the same as winning against OSU, MSU, PSU, Wisconsin, or Nebraska.

My guess is that they were closer to winning under RichRod than many thought, and they were closer to winning under RichRod than they are now. This probably set them back two to three years while they go after a different style of player.

And when the “old money” gets tired of another rebuilding program, they will have to start again.

On the upside, perhaps the coach from Ann Arbor Pioneer will be available then, because he might be the only one left who will take it.


Anonymous said...

[[chuckle]] on the Ann Arbor Pioneer remark...
Sam Hendrickson

DMD said...

I'd land just about opposite of you on this one.

Do you remember the whipping that the last Carr team put on Florida in between their championships? Ryan Mallett was going to be the next MI QB and he seems to be a pretty decent player. Carr may have been too slow to adjust to the up-tempo pace that was making its way into the game, but moving in half steps worked a lot better than what we got.

The problem with hypotheses about the process used to hire the new coach is that until Dave Brandon says what process was used it is all speculation driven by news media people who were working hard to have the scoop. It seems like the governing premise is that Brandon was going to offer the job to whomever he talked to, but what if he was doing what most employers usually do (i.e., conduct interviews and then make a decision)?
That he contacted anybody else and/or sat down with anybody else really only means that he contacted and sat down with them, not that he wanted to offer the job to them. Think about it from the other angle, if he didn't make these contacts and have these talks then he'd be accused of not doing due diligence. Honestly, that guy couldn't win during the process part. Hopefully he'll win based on the selection part, but we won't know for a while.

I really like the fact that Brandon made clear that he wants a coach who will coach the players they have, not keep forcing a system regardless of what we have. If Hoke is a good coach, he'll be able to take the guys that won seven games and get at least that next year. If he is a very good coach, then he might pick off one of the big guys too.

Larry said...

I agree with you about the process. Brandon couldn't win that one no matter what, but at least no one can say he didn't give Miles or Harbaugh a chance (which I think was the real reason he talked to them).

But speaking as someone who is pretty apathetic about Michigan athletics, I didn't care whether they kept RR or not. I think if they kept him, things would have kept improving and it would be sort of "stick in the eye" for some of the whiners. Now it's back to "wait and see." Hoke might be good