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Posted on Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 7:05 a.m.

Rich Rodriguez's biggest regret, Michigan football team's defensive woes and more Gator Bowl thoughts

By Pete Bigelow

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The numbers look like football’s equivalent of a grisly accident scene.

The Michigan football team’s defense allowed 458 points and 5,860 yards this season, both the worst marks in the school’s esteemed history. Opponents averaged 35.2 points and 450.7 yards per game.

Astounding numbers.

None worse than the yardage total. In 2009, the Wolverines defense gave up a then-record 4,720 yards. This year, they smashed the record by 1,140 yards.

Five thousand, eight hundred and sixty yards. It’s a longer distance than a 5K. There are plenty of reasons for that figure - even ones beyond the eight true freshmen Rich Rodriguez likes to talk about so much.

But the root cause of all the defensive problems, and really, the undoing of Rich Rodriguez, can be traced back to one day. December 16, 2008.

That’s the day Rodriguez fired defensive coordinator Scott Shafer after one year in Ann Arbor. It was a panic decision. The Wolverines finished 3-9 and needed someone to blame.

The outsider, the member of the first-year staff with no prior connection to Rodriguez, working with position coaches he did not hire, took the fall. That year, his defense allowed 347 points and 4,403 yards.

Numbers like that would be cherished today.

Today, Shafer is Syracuse’s defensive coordinator. He has his defense ranked 13th in the country in points allowed (18.1 per game) and fifth in yards per game (295.0). Of all the mistakes Rodriguez made in the past three years, the one that hurt him most on the field may have been the quick hook of Scott Shafer.


Not suggesting Greg Robinson should be up for Coach of the Year honors right now, but with the current defensive coordinator, Rodriguez repeated and exacerbated some of the same mistakes he made with Shafer.

Like Shafer, Robinson did not hire any of his position coaches. Then he was asked to coach the 3-3-5 defense, a scheme with which he had no prior experience, using upperclassmen he did not recruit.

What the Michigan defense really needs is consistency.

In a five-year span, the Wolverines will have employed five different schemes under four different coaches. They’ve gone from Ron English to Shafer to Robinson’s 3-4 to Robinson’s 3-3-5 to whatever and whoever come next.

No matter what happens, Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon should not only make a multi-year contract a perk of the defensive coordinator job. He should make it a mandate.


On Saturday, Mississippi State converted 5 of 5 fourth-down attempts. Michigan converted 0 of 5. No other statistic summarized the game - or the season, for that matter - so neatly.

The Bulldogs went for it because they were unafraid. The Wolverines went for it because they had no other choice.

Michigan’s run defense just couldn’t stop an opponent when it counted. On a 4th and 1 near midfield in the second quarter, MSU’s Vick Ballard ran for six yards. On a 4th and 2 shortly after, he ran for five more.

None of the Bulldogs’ conversions were more heart-breaking for the Wolverines than Ballard’s 1-yard touchdown run on 4th and goal. Michigan defenders met him at the line of scrimmage. They just got overpowered, and fell behind 38-14.

None were worse than Mississippi State going for it on 4th and 10 at the Michigan 31-yard line in the fourth quarter. Quarterback Chris Relf hit Michael Carr for a 31-yard TD that made it 52-14.

For Michigan, many of the fourth-down attempts stemmed from a well-reasoned fear of field-goal attempts.

On a 4th and 10 at the Mississippi State 32-yard line early, Denard Robinson threw an incomplete pass toward Junior Hemingway. He threw another incompletion to Hemingway on 4th and goal at the Mississippi State 12-yard line.

In the fourth quarter, the same tandem couldn’t convert a 4th and 7 in their own territory, followed by a 4th and 4 incompletion from Robinson intended for Roy Roundtree at the Mississippi State 16-yard line.

Roundtree later dropped a 4th and 4 pass for good measure.

Counting Brendan Gibbons’ errant 35-yard field-goal attempt in the third quarter with the other fourth-down misses, and Michigan made four trips inside the Bulldogs’ red zone that resulted in zero points.

All contributed to the worst bowl loss in school history. The previous was a 45-17 loss to Tennessee in the 2002 Citrus Bowl.

Pete Bigelow covers Michigan football for He can be reached at (734) 623-2556, via email at and followed on Twitter @PeterCBigelow.



Tue, Jan 4, 2011 : 10:15 a.m.

Blu n Tpa and 3 n Out, Then RR would be the "cyanide" to those rr kool aid drinkers.


Tue, Jan 4, 2011 : 9:49 a.m.

Pope Theo CCXII, What kind of plans does your King (RR) has in store for you? A) Continuous dusting off the barren crystal trophy cases B) Googling the net for more "teary" Groban songs for the King. C) Relocating to a remote and uninhabited island to be Friday to RR's Robinson Crusoe. D) All of the above. GO BLUE!


Tue, Jan 4, 2011 : 9:44 a.m.

Mike B wow that face is truly creepy dude..


Tue, Jan 4, 2011 : 12:03 a.m.

Aw, Edward: You know that it a fluke that they took apart that VT team, the team that is 1-19 against top 5 teams. You gotta love Beamer (almost feel sorry for him with his futility against the top teams), but you see what happens when you have a COACH in there.


Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 9:56 p.m.

@NC: Mike Hart was small in size, but he blocked like a linebacker. He was a tough tough back. Comparing any of our current small backs to him is like comparing high school and pro football. Both same species, but very different make up. Hart made people miss, he played with heart, blocked like a demon, and willed his team to victory. I am still waiting for Shaw as a senior now and Smith now a junior to show 1/100000th the heart of Hart. I believe they are both serviceable, can probably get 400 yards or so over a season, but neither of them will lead a team to victory nor make defenders wince.

NC Wolverine 20

Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 8:54 p.m.

Like JH, I was in CA in the early 80s and in A2 in the mid-80s and spend most of the time since then in temperate climates (although Jim did work in Chicago and Indy for a few years). While I desperately want to believe that he will now move to A2 from Palo Alto, I have my doubts. Three months a year w/o ever seeing the sun can induce serious cabin fever. On another topic, I am amused by the people who criticize RR for bringing in too many small RBs. Who was UM's last great RB? Mike Hart - #20. Not exactly Jarrod Bunch.


Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 8:18 p.m.

THE most important decision to be made right now is to fire RR. That is step 1 regardless of who the next coach is. The coaching list, in order of priority, imo, is Harbaugh, Miles, then Hoke. All of them would do a fine job here. And the fact that UM is Hoke's dream job is a huge plus, as opposed to RR who ditched his alma mater for the $$$ of Michigan. I'd take any of those three coaches over RR any day.


Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 7:46 p.m.

I hope Jim Harbaugh becomes the new U-M coach. However, there are reasons why he might not want the job, such as unrealistic expectations of some of the fan base resulting in unneeded extra pressure that he wouldn't have elsewhere (Example: He's the savior who's going to take us back to the promised land attitude), the lack of in-state talent to work with in Michigan compared to states like California and not as much money as a pro job would bring in. With that said, I still hope he is offered the job and comes to U-M but there are valid reasons why he might not want to do it and I wouldn't consider him a traitor if he didn't take it.


Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 7:43 p.m.

Every man has a limit to how high their abilities will take him. Rodriguez would be a very good offensive coordinator for most schools. Not all, but most. Rodriguez might even be a pretty good head coach at some schools. Not most and certainly not all. But some. Head coaching requires a special mix of football, executive and leadership skills. Rodriguez does not have that for the pressures and scrutiny imposed on the head coach at Michigan. But then again, few coaches do. There's a handful of schools where the expectations on the head football coach are simply grueling. Michigan is one and Ohio State is another. Florida and Alabama are pressure cookers. Texas is another. When a man finds he's in over his head, he either faces that fact and allows better men to step up, or he figures out what he needs to do, owns up to his limitations and gets better. Sadly, Rodriguez has seen fit to do neither. And it shows. And it's sad. And it's why his tenure at Michigan is soon over.


Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 7:43 p.m.

Miss. St. was a very good team believe that I was there. Our Wolverines are not very good, that really helped contribute to the loss. To ask Miss. St. to take it easy on us is like asking a race car driver to not go fast. I can tell you the Miss. State cowbells are still ringing in my ear! their fans really knew their team was very good, and they were, as they were 8-4 with those losses being close; we were a really bad 7-5, with our losses being mostly blowouts. Reality hurts! we need a savior, as our football team is really bad. I have never seen a Michigan team this bad.


Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 7:27 p.m.

RichRod will be back next year and will take UM to 13-0. Just watch.


Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 7:27 p.m.

Chelsea Bob wrote "Seriously folks.... Harbs played for Bo. Loved Bo. Now he can follow Bo and restore the program." More than that. His dad was an assistant coach for Bo. He used to play catch along the sidelines. When Bo offered him a chance to play (Palo Alto High, at that point), he accepted. Then, had to call back because he forgot to ask if Bo meant he had a scholarship, too. I think he'd really like to be HC here...I know I'd really like that. The biggest areas where RR got in trouble here (IMHO) were: (1) embarrassing the school and the program (2) showing regression on defense year-to-year (most people, I feel, would have been patient IF things were moving in the right direction, even if slowly, but they were going backwards) (3) NEVER, not even once, coming out in the second half with any of the first half problems fixed (4) not being able to make best use of available talent (my way or the highway, regardless of results) (5) talking much more about himself than the team or the seniors (6) not understanding traditional rivalries (we don't expect Toledo to be a major test for you -- if that isn't a gimme, you need to re-evaluate what you're doing and quickly -- we want a good showing against OSU and MSU) If the above items are met, we are patient. If not, we have the wrong HC. We definitely have the wrong HC today.


Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 6:46 p.m.

Seriously folks.... Harbs played for Bo. Loved Bo. Now he can follow Bo and restore the program. It doesn't get better than that. PS Raising kids in Michigan versus left coast is a bonus.

3 And Out

Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 6:28 p.m.

Blu-in-Tpa made a good explanation of Drinking The Koolaid. I would also like to throw out another slightly interesting take on the Koolaid Drinking that I like to think about, particularly when it comes in to play in this RR situation: Mindless chugging of an overtly sweet-on-the-surface, but ultimately totally void of substance (aka a doctrine, POV, regime, propaganda, etc) that actually/ultimately hurts/kills your foundation due to the mass consumption of sugar and falsities. The mirage of thirst-quenching from a substance that by its own inherant nature is impossible to quench any thirst. From Wiki: "Drinking the Kool-Aid" is a phrase and metaphor, used in the United States, that means to become a firm believer in something, to accept an argument or philosophy wholeheartedly or blindly without critical examination. The term originated with the November 1978 Jonestown Massacre,[1][2] where members of the Peoples Temple were said to have committed suicide by drinking Kool-Aid laced with cyanide.[3] Evidence gathered at the Jonestown site after the incident indicated that rather than Kool-Aid, Flavor Aid, a similar powdered drink, was used in the massacre. Some survivors of the incident object to the link between blind faith and the People's Temple implied by the phrase, since some victims were murdered rather than being convinced or forced to commit suicide.[4] Objections notwithstanding, the phrase is commonly used in a variety of contexts to describe blind, uncritical acceptance or following, generally in a derogatory sense.


Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 6:16 p.m.

Ben "I find the whole media-coach-fan relationship to be pretty amusing. When a coach is losing, it's the media's job to ask what went wrong. The coach has two options. He can avoid the questions with "football speak," or he can try to give actual reasons for the failure." You left out 2 other types of responses: * I'll let you guess who fits into this type. The coach continually is pointing the finger at others as the reason for the failure (ie- "the players didn't execute", "our guys just need to tackle better", or "I'm not making excuses but...". He does this habitually, and does it so much that it causes fans to dislike him even more. * There are more honorable men & coaches who the first thing they do is to take responsibility for the failure, as the leader of the team, and would never deflect any of the blame to others, especially his players. Bo Pelini and Mike Singletary are good recent examples of this. When Mike S. was fired from SF he called it "a personal failure" and he took full responsibility for not getting them to the playoffs. Bo Pelini, after a terrible loss to Washington last week, said that he was responsible for not getting his team ready to play, and also that "it starts with me". Some guys just handle this aspect of the job much better than others.


Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 6:09 p.m.

Biggest mistake Rod made was coming to Ann Arbor in the first place Second biggest was the whole defense especially the 3-3-5 Third was not MANNING UP and resigning after the bowl game


Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 5:38 p.m.

The Rev. Jim Jones at the People Temple in Jonestown B.G. had almost 900 people kill themselves drinking cyanide lace flavored water. They did it on his command and it included men, women and children. It's the worst case of people acting like lemmings and blindly following a master, even past the point of self preservation, in recent history. (circa 1980) It's the passing of your free will to another, over your own better judgement. Destructive blind faith.

The Ben

Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 5:29 p.m.

Not defending RichRod here. Just an observation. I find the whole media-coach-fan relationship to be pretty amusing. When a coach is losing, it's the media's job to ask what went wrong. The coach has two options. He can avoid the questions with "football speak," or he can try to give actual reasons for the failure. Fans obviously want to win, so it's a lose-lose situation every time. If the coach doesn't give reasons, he will get the Rod Marinelli "pound the rock" reputation (why can't he answer the freaking question?!?!?). If he tries to come up with reasons for the loss, he will be labeled an excuse-maker (blah, blah, blah, this guy is full of excuses!!). So, in conclusion... fans generally don't accept losing, any response to losing, or any reasons for doing so. The end.


Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 5:29 p.m.

"This team scores against 2nd team Defenses and poor football teams and thats about it!" I agree.

The Ben

Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 5:26 p.m.

Not defending RichRod here. Just an observation. I find the whole media-coach-fan relationship to be pretty amusing. When a coach is losing, it's the media's job to ask what went wrong. The coach has two options. He can avoid the questions with "football speak," or he can try to give actual reasons for the failure. Fans obviously want to win, so it's a lose-lose situation every time. If the coach doesn't give reasons, he will get the Rod Marinelli "pound the rock" reputation (why can't he answer the freaking question?!?!?). If he tries to come up with reasons for the loss, he will be labeled an excuse-maker (blah, blah, blah, this guy is full of excuses!!). So, in conclusion... fans generally don't accept losing, any response to losing, or any reasons for doing so. The end.

The Fan

Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 5:14 p.m.

What's up with the Koolaid references? Ya know I happen to like Kool-aid and believe it or not but I live in the town were Kool-aid was invented. That's the only thing this little town is known for here in Nebraska.

3 And Out

Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 4:16 p.m. only thoughts on Marvin Lewis is yes he is a defensive type coach, but that never really showed itself much at Cincy...also he doesnt have college experience and may not be able to recruit..and finally Cincy had a history of problems with player character and brushes with the law while he was there, which brings to mind that he may not be the best judge of character and that is not what we or any other program needs...

3 And Out

Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 4:06 p.m.

Blu-n-Tpa - Your post is almost a perfect description of Rich Rod's narcissistic-ignorant mixed with fear and a dose of sociopathic personality...all of which have and do affect his coaching decisions and philosphy. That is the biggest indictment of the man himself, and is the major reason why he would never be able to turn things around here at Michigan...situations that he himself caused, he himself will not take the blame for...he himself who does not understand the magnititude of nor has any real clue how to fix...he himself who is quick to point the finger at others and other factors as a result of this. On Sat's broadcast on ESPN, he was interviewed and even blamed his salary for people being upset... its like 'wow' what can I blame next for my own failures? His other/typical comments after the game which ALWAYS start with the disclaimer "Hey y'all im not making excuses..BUT... (INSERT EXCUSES HERE)..." This is almost comical in how predictable it has become. One thing we will NOT see from Harbaugh, if he chooses to come here...are these excuses. They simply are not a part of the man's makeup. Anyone doubting that, check out the Stanford channel on youtube and watch how Harbs handles himself in the press conferences. It is very impressive and indicative of a man who refuses to lose, but when he does, he wants to know why it happened and what he can do to fix it. Now.


Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 3:44 p.m.

We are all saying the DB has a very tough decision as to who he WILL hire to REPLACE RR, but can you imagine how much pressure JH is underas well? Based on what I have read, he really wants a shot at the NFL, and it looks like he has his pick of 2 pretty doggone good NFL franchises. Then you add the fact that his alma mater is asking him to come fix this broken program that he cares for so very much!! Oh, and there is this minor detail of a huge bowl game tonight against VT. I'm still thinking that JH is heading to A2, but after watching the replay of the Rose Bowl, Gary Patterson at TCU just might be a good fit in A2 if we lose JH. He runs the same type of offense as RR, and he actully UNDERSTANDS that defense and special teams ARE intergal parts of a football TEAM!! I'm just sayin. Go Blue!!!


Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 3:44 p.m.

I'll bet that right now - while I'm typing this - that Coach Rodriquez is in his office unpacking his brand new XL9000 28-page-per-minute paper shredder. If you recall, the biggest problem he had at WVA was using the XL1000 6-page-per-minute shredder from Big Lots.


Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 3:44 p.m.

I'll bet that right now - while I'm typing this - that Coach Rodriquez is in his office unpacking his brand new XL9000 28-page-per-minute paper shredder. If you recall, the biggest problem he had at WVA was using the XL1000 6-page-per-minute shredder from Big Lots.


Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 3:36 p.m.

My perspective for what it's worth is that Rich Rod destroyed what was here to build what he wanted, versus trying to work with what he was given and grow into what he wanted. He has never taken responsibility. He says "we failed" all time, not "I failed". Not knowing that your students are failing, not knowing that a recruit doesn't met minimal standards and not recruiting anyone that can kick the ball - that's HIS FAULT. The shame of this all is that it impacts students that SHOULD be here to play football AND get an education, yet it increasingly seems like they're here for football only. Tate verbalized that pretty well. I'd like to see Michigan adopt Stanford's academic standards for sports. Rich Rod needs to go because he doesn't accept responsiblity for blowing up the football program and not successfully putting it back together. The former AD needs to also take a fair share of the blame for hiring him and letting him do what he did.


Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 3 p.m.

I love M football and have been a fan for over 40 years. I shook RR's and his wifes hands at the team meet and greet right after he was hired and welcomed him to Michigan. Part of me would like to think that with the injured players from defense that didnt play this year along with recruits coming in will help improve them for next year. After watching the bowl game and see them do the same thing that got them blistered in the regular season shows me there is definitely something very wrong with coaching. On the other hand, RR is in his third year and starting 6 or 8 freshmen on D that gets progressively worse each year. The turning point for me was the two weeks they had to prepare for a down Penn State team starting a walk on, 3rd string QB that blistered M for record yards. Some argue the O is tops in the nation and B10, but I argue that its against MAC or other inferior competition. While I liked the idea of changing up the 1 yard and a cloud of dust type of conservative offense, the change was too drastic and not very well planned out. He didnt coach up any players and continued to blame a young defense, while ignoring special teams and kicking. He just doesnt seem to be the complete package HC that any team should have. I doubt the offensive genius some have titled him. Its a one dimensional O. if DR gets hurt, it changes dramatically. When I heard Forcier did not even make the trip to the bowl due to academics, who would go in if DR went down? Ttheyd be looking at a fourth stringer since they are tring to get Gardner a medical red shirt (correct me if I'm wrong). While I see USC, Texas and other big time schools experiencing a down year, the past three have just been plain embarrassing to a very proud M fan base. I live in S/Se Mi where there are plenty of bucknut fans. This not to mention Ms recruiting classes used to be top 10 but have dropped out of the top 25. It should be interesting to see what Stanford does tonight and what may transpire with Harbaugh. While I think hes destined for the NFL, either Denver or SF (he has kids from a divorce in the Bay area I hear), his heart is at M as his dad is quoted as stating. I do think there are now 1.5 million more reasons to can RR (after 1/1, coupled with the numerous records set in the wrong direction. I just have to have faith in the new AD that hell make the best decision. Either way, I'm an M fan and will live with the decision. GO BLUE!!


Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 2:49 p.m.

Rich Rodriguez's biggest regret probably is not spending enough time on recruiting defensive players. Theo, your king is about to be dethroned. He may find success elsewhere but he is to Michigan what Bill Callahan was to Nebraska and what John L Smith was to MSU.


Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 2:41 p.m.

HA! Great point Theo - WMU plays a full MAC schedule so your King will no doubt get a shot at WMU every year. Maybe Bowling Green will make RR an offer since he hung 65 on them. Or perhaps Eastern Michigan will make him an offer since the bar is so low there (and you wouldn't have very far to move to follow him). They could use a little of RR's offense to generate some discussion about football in Ypsilanti. Nothing gets the blood pressure up like 5 turnovers a game! Anyway - good luck following RR wherever he goes.


Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 2:41 p.m.

The edge that U-M has in the Harbaugh sweepstakes is that Brandon and Harbaugh were teammates at U-M and are friends. Still, that's not enough to seal the deal to get him to Ann Arbor but I think it gives U-M a slight advantage over the 49ers unless it's purely money that he is after.


Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 2:16 p.m.

I think this 49er talk is a a bit inflated thus far. How can Harbaugh make an informed decision yet when the Niners don't even have a GM in place? That is not to say they won't talk about the Niners HC position, but I think these reports about Harbaugh having to choose between U-M and the Niners are a tad premature until a GM is in place. Also - how much control would the new GM give to Harbaugh? Very important questions.....


Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 2:07 p.m.

@tulsatom: Since RR became coach, adjustments were never made. If other team was in striking distance at half (or in the lead), you can mark it down as a loss. There are so many reasons to dislike RR as coach, it is ridiculous but basics are basics and he just fails. They should have never hired him, and then they should have gotten rid of him after year I. It was predictable. I'll bet M is in the lower half of the Big Ten in offense if you look only at Big Ten games and/or against teams with winning records.


Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 1:59 p.m.

"Beep, beep, beep, beep". To the guy who's always wrong, what is that "beeping" sound? That's the moving truck backing up to RR's office before heading to his house.


Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 1:54 p.m.

A sign of a well-coached team is its ability to make adjustments as the game goes along. I saw other teams do this to U-M on a regular basis but rarely did I see U-M do likewise. Also, U-M typically scored the majority of their points either during the first quarter or when the game was no longer in doubt, which I have a hard time understanding. For example, against Miss State they had a good first quarter against MSU but acted like an army that had fired all their big guns and ran out of ammo for the rest fo the game.


Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 1:29 p.m.

TrueBluefan: "The B10 desperately needs Michigan to be good again." You got that right!!!


Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 1:25 p.m.

RR biggest REGRET is leaving WVU - no, the grass is not greener on the other side.. and look at all the former WVU coaches and staff that followed the piper to big ten country, and too... look to getting the boot as well!! rita has the house packed up, just waiting for the movers to show up...


Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 1:21 p.m.

Wow! Rumors are running rampant I see. I'm not sure where all the news is coming from that Harbaugh is either in or out. Until we hear from DB and JH themselves, we'll just have to wait and see. I'm not convinced Harbaugh will be the next coach, but as of 8AM this morning Shefter was on ESPN radio saying he thought it was likely. I don't know if you can trust that at all either, so who knows. One thing I think we can say, this will be DB's biggest decision as AD, probably during his entire tenure in that role. I think he realizes that himself. How he handles this situation will tell all of us alot about this guy. Do we have another Canham or another Martin? We'll know by the end the of the week.


Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 1:08 p.m.

Staff, why was my response deleted? Where did I attack someone?


Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 1:02 p.m.

Who said that RR is gone? as I see it, RR has a job for at least one more year.


Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 12:59 p.m.

What is this comment about coordinators must be given multi-year contracts??? If a new coach is hired let that person control "their" program. If they make bad decisions as least they made them and were not tied to conditions some else set down. Otherwise why call the coach "head coach"


Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 12:58 p.m.

over on it appears espn's nfl insider adam schefter has done a u-turn, and is now reporting that jim harbaugh will most likely be coaching in the nfl next year. schefter had reported jh to michigan was virtually a done deal last week? GO BLUE...


Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 12:38 p.m.

Rich Rod to U Conn, Harbaugh to the 49ers, Brady Hoke to Michigan. I just don't see JH leaving the west coast, his three kids, his family, and a dream NFL situation where the team is going to give him EVERYTHING he wants. The only thing Michigan has that the Niners don't is the roots. If you really take a close look at Harbaugh and his ambitions, the roots will not be enough to bring him back. So what about Marvin Lewis? He's a defensive guy who is about to be unemployed, and is not likely to get another HC job because of the labor situation. I like him. On a side note: Rich Rod poached Scott Schafer from....Stanford. If we get Harbaugh, Schafer may not be far behind. He would come back if JH was here.


Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 12:26 p.m.

I forgot Rich Rods biggest regret was leaving W Va


Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 12:25 p.m.

Lets be real honest here. Mich has no real talent except at QB If Tate or Denard would have been at the top 4 Big 10 schools MY GOD You think you recruited high caliber players in the last few years but you haven't. I wish we would have gotten shoelace with our defense and our offense. You need a team and you need to admit the glory days are gone. There is entirely to much competition out there now. 5-6 years ago you never heard of TCU, Stanford, Boise State etc. Its an entirely new era in College Football. You ruled for a while and had the winningest program in College Football but that record will be passed and you need to admit it. Never thought you'd see a black president or $4.00 a gallon gas either did ya. SURPRISE GO BUCKS


Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 12:21 p.m.

Did you know that the B10 is now 2-5 in their bowls. If you count Nebraska, we are 2-6. And the B10 is only a pick six (Iowa over Mizzou) away from being 1-7. I would be surprised if OSU beat Arkansas. It is very important that Michigan makes the correct hire this team. The B10 desperately needs Michigan to be good again.

Macabre Sunset

Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 12:13 p.m.

It's not running up the score when you go for it in that area of the field and the defense is so completely inept it can't make the stop. Generally, teams don't go for it on fourth down nearly enough. It took Rodriguez the embarrassment of not having a kicking game to figure that out himself. There are other reasons, too.


Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 11:57 a.m.

Same one who says that RR is a good coach says that Miss State ran up the score. Need we say more?


Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 11:49 a.m.

Miss. St. didn't run up the score on UM. They came to play in the bowl game and they did. No need for UM fans to complain about the opponent "running up" the score. Had RR's team had an adequate defense, MSU would not have scored as often as they did. Time for RR to stuff his DR into a suitcase and wander off the Big Ten stage.


Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 11:41 a.m.

RR should not get credit for anything in his past. He was not the head coach of most of the teams you all keep giving him credit for. He was, however, HC of WVU, gained famed in a conference where most of the talent had departed, and where he had amazing talent in more than one player which could make his "scheme" look better than what it was. The point that seems to be constantly missed is that a good HC manages his team in all aspects. He makes sure the O, D, and special teams are taken care of before he decides to take upon himself the coaching of any individual part of the whole game. In RR's case, nothing was really managed very well, and in the end, it showed. He was no more than a good OC at WVU and you have to assume that it was the rest of his staff that really made the WVU team what it was. Now you can argue that most of his UM staff was the same as his WVU staff, but here's where the diffence in a B10 conference and a depleted Big East conference comes into play. I find it odd as well that DB wants to give RR the benefit of coaching the bowl game for no other reason than money. RR felt no problem in leaving WVU stranded with a bowl game to be played. What goes around, comes around and shame on UM for accepting the new coach before the season ended at WVU. The WVU team won any way and started on their journey with what became their new head coach. This gave them a game's advantage for the next season. I believe DB could have fired RR with no penalty due to RR's NCAA violations, but chose not to do so. If seems DB has a plan, much like RR did, and he's not going to veer from it, as did RR. Hopefully, whatever he has in mind is mostly agreed upon with whomever he's hoping to sign. If not, DB might get bit in the behind for waiting so long. If UM signs a quality coach, he'll make the most of what he's left with from the RR disaster, and next year, the fan base at UM will only remember the bad taste left in their mouths from all the new records RR set while at UM. In a year or two, you won't even remember what the initials RR stands for.

Macabre Sunset

Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 11:14 a.m.

The offense only worked against bottom-tier opponents. The defense didn't work against anybody. The special teams were consistently bad. I don't see any hope for the future. Every year that passes with Rodriguez in charge adds exponentially to the damage because he's also a terrible recruiter.


Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 11:11 a.m.

i sure hope the weight room people stay.


Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 11:02 a.m.

@J. Dean: RR was not COACH at Tulane and Clemson. He was offensive coordinator. Using your logic, you can't say he had any affect at michigan and that Calvin Magee should get the credit for whatever offensive turnaround you think happened. By any objective measure, RR has been a failure. Not about a scheme, which I don't care about. But about results. Signed, "the fool"


Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 10:58 a.m.

Now i hope the new coach knows how to make talent out of 3 star player. like b kelly


Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 10:45 a.m.

@NoBowl: RR still thinks he's offensive coordinator. It makes me wonder how Calvin Magee must feel. And nobody is talking about Braithwaite who RR placed onto the defensive staff this year. He is a young RR crony who came over from WVU, and has limited if any experience as a D-coach, and was one of those staff guys who helped get us into trouble. I think that is yet another indictment of RR's poor judgment and cronyism. (Though I think LC also had cronyism which kept him down, especially with his loyalty to Moeller the offensive line coach and Debord)


Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 10:36 a.m.

Rich Rod aka crybaby never gave defense a thought until it was too late and now it's too late for him. The repair will take at least a couple of years


Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 10:32 a.m.

@chiro19 -- In retrospect, how smart of a decision was it (how easy of a decision is it now to fire RR) to wait for mich. to play in the bowl game?! One more time -- had Michigan fired Rodriguez after the Ohio State game, the speculation hounds would have descended on Harbaugh without mercy. We would have seen the same thing play out as before: Harbaugh forced to commit one way or another prior to game Stanford plays tonight. The tumblers turn first thing tomorrow AM... after Harbaugh finishes up the Stanford season.

Pete S.

Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 10:26 a.m.

To me this sums up the entire season perfectly: "On Saturday, Mississippi State converted 5 of 5 fourth-down attempts. Michigan converted 0 of 5. No other statistic summarized the game - or the season, for that matter - so neatly. The Bulldogs went for it because they were unafraid. The Wolverines went for it because they had no other choice." The offense played with so much pressure on it every single game due to the poor defense and special teams. Imagine going out every single series and basically having 100,000 people expecting you to score a TD.


Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 10:13 a.m.

In retrospect, how smart of a decision was it (how easy of a decision is it now to fire RR) to wait for mich. to play in the bowl game?! Being in a high pressure situation really tells you what someone is made of and who they are. With RR you see some major character flaws that in the world most of us live in are not a big deal. When you have the spot light on you like RR has had for the last 3 years those flaws start to really show through and you get serious problems with a company, institution, or program because of them! If RR is retained imagine how eager teams from the SEC or Big 12 are to schedule michigan. It is a huge payday and a very easy win! I put a post up 1 week ago talking about the ability for RR to show he has what it takes by making adjustments during his month and a half to prepare. If the team was prepared and stayed in the game he would be praised and probably retained. I predicted the team would look worse and they did! It is hard to imagine what exactly is going on during practices. J. Dean i disagree that he knows how to coach an offense! His offense is a huge problem and liability to the Defense. The T.O.P. puts your D on the field a majority of the game and that is how you lose. As well against top 25 teams michigan scored 23% of their points. Most of those points where in the 3rd or 4th quarter after michigan was down by a substantial amount (typically more than 3 touchdowns) approximately 67%. This team scores against 2nd team Defenses and poor football teams and thats about it! It is one of the easiest styles of offense to stop for good athletic Defense (iowa, michigan state, miss. st., wisc., osu, penn state), that is why no one else runs this kind of offense (plays are based off of the option read)! You need a special QB that can throw as well as he runs and they are so rare that it is tough to run a offense like this in a good conference like the Big 10, SEC, or Big 12! And no comparisons to the option because they are completely different and based on different philosophy of ball posession! You stop this style of offense simply by making someone like Drob do one of two things- hand it off, or throw!


Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 10:09 a.m.

@J. Dean: I am a fool, according to you. RR is a HORRIBLE coach. He does not make adjustments during the game. He was 0-6 this year when trailing at the half. He thinks he knows more than anyone. And his track record at Tulane and Clemson mean nothing. He was not head coach at those schools. He was OC, which does not make him a great head coach. I love how all you people keep bringing up the remote past to prove that he was a good coach. I counter by the following: 6-18; 15-21; 0-9. If you need to look what those mean, or need help, by all means ask. But those are real numbers against Big 10 competition in 3 years. Good coach, indeed.


Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 9:50 a.m.

I don't blame MSU for going for it on 4th and 10. They were trying to do the right thing by not tacking on more points with a field goal. They were basically saying go ahead and stop us here and Michigan couldn't do it. Instead Michigan gave up a 20+ yard touchdown run on 4th and 10. It was horrendous just like the defense was playing all game long. And the offense that was supposedly so great couldn't come up with points in a big game again. I have been behind RR this year because I want UM to be good but it has just gotten worse every week. I don't see how he could keep his job. In regards to M State, it is hard to take any kind of solace given the way are team has played this year.


Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 9:45 a.m.

The whole mind set of teams being 'classless' for running up the score is silly. At this level if you can't compete, don't play. Each team lined up the same 11 guys with the schemes they prepared for the game. If one team has bigger, tougher players and is better coached, whose fault is that? That is at the feet of the coach who has had three years to build a program. We still have defenders that don't even know how to line up, coaches still bickering at each other on the sidelines, special teams meltdowns, and general confusion. Frankly any team that comes into the 13th game of his THIRD season with those issues deserves a beatdown. Small. slow, and confused does not get it done on the national stage. Interesting article:


Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 9:05 a.m.

@ JDean Not sure how much of your post was directed to me. I don't care about MSU (MI) or their game. Buyer beware means exactly that, look closely at the history and the person before you offer to sign on the dotted line. RR's past success was up and down as shown by his record. Most of his success, nationally, was at WV with Pat White and Steve Slayton. He played vs teams that didn't have the depth of BT teams at all defensive positions and in a conference that didn't have the talent the BT has.(This weekend noted) He could do the same thing every game vs those teams while at WV and still win. Can't at UM vs the top half of the conference or vs teams from other quality conferences. My opinion is now that other teams have shown how to beat RR's offensive schemes and that he is slow to adjust to changes during a game, a season, or over his years at UM may be a warning. Add pending law suits, NCAA problems at two schools, and multi-year meltdowns on special teams and defense and you would have to be cautious. Hence, "Buyer Beware"! You don't want teams "running it up"? STOP THEM!


Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 8:51 a.m.

Agree with the buyer beware statement based on Blue's personality assessment not based on past records. Toss in NCAA violations at UM and soon-to-be WVU. It's not so much the violations, it's the "i didn't know" excuses. Also not gonna dog Miss. for scoring, we made it too easy, what else could they do, stop the game?

J. Dean

Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 8:38 a.m.

@Blu-n-Tpa, But look at RichRod's previous three coaching positions. All of them were successful. To say Rich Rod is a bad coach with a "buyer beware" label is a bit broad-brushed. The man has proven that he's a good coach at other schools; had he been a bad coach, Michigan wouldn't have hired him. I think the problem lies with the fact that Rich Rod is a good coach, but not a good Big 10 coach. He couldn't get past the mindset of using smaller, faster defense schemes and persons. Now, sometimes, this works (Look at TCU against Wisconsin), but it didn't for him. I think in some ways he thought that he was still dealing with the Big East instead of Big 10. Still think he'll go to Pitt, btw. Oh, one other thing: Michigan State doing worse offensively than we did was a small consolation for the weekend :D


Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 8:33 a.m.

Maybe we can all agree that the ball is in Mr Brandon's corner now.


Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 8:32 a.m.

RWP You don't have to read it. Doing things correctly takes a little longer, sorry about that. Getting behind the curve last time was a direct cause to what we have today; a bad football program with an ineffective HC with a superiority complex. It's been this long because there's no other choice if you want to get it right THIS TIME. A change is coming and whatever it is it will be an improvement over the current situation. DB knows this will be his "signature" move for the athletic department for the next 4-5 years, if not longer, so he wants to get it right. So do I. If you can't handle the wait, go volunteer to work in a homeless shelter or visit a Unicef website and make a donation. Check back at the end of the week and you will be fine.


Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 8:16 a.m.

Firing Shafer surely is one of the forks in the road where RR went in the wrong direction. It's my opinion that was a major indicator of RR's aversion to taking responsibility. Besides the inability to adjust to Michigan with it's traditions, RR has two rather striking personality defects: one is facing mistakes. He cant/wont admit to himself, and to others, that they were mistakes, which leads to him not learning from them or correcting them. The second one is stubbornness/pride. Taken by itself, pride can be an important asset, especially for coaches. That's because players and other coaches tend to feed off of a HC who has confidence, is proud of himself. But RR carries his like a suit of armour. Once he decides to do something, he sticks with in regardless of the reality of how it's working. This is especially true with putting players in positions which are not the best position for the team or the player. Tie this with the first one and you're frozen in place. You can't change because that would be tacit acceptance of making an error so you stay with it regardless of the harsh reality of it NOT working. The result of all this is you finally force the person appointed over you to make the choice you wouldn't or couldn't make. And, there is always going to be that someone. In this case it's DB. He is handling this his way and that is his right and his job. RR didn't like it but he also didn't do the one thing he could have done and that is show he can coach Michigan to a bowl game win. It was a copy of the season and RR's tenure at UM and no one should have expected anything different. Keeping Shafer, or anyone else for that matter, wouldn't have mattered because the HC is who he is. RR may get another job right away but "buyer beware".


Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 8:14 a.m.

I agree that Dave Brandon should mandate multi-year contracts for coordinators. With so many firings over the last few years, it would stabilize the program. I just wonder, will the university be willing to dig deep into its pocket book and pay the coordinators and coaches like they do in the SEC? I found this articles linked below about the salaries of coaches. (From the second article) "The list of assistants earning $250,000 or more in the NCAA's top-tier Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) is up from at least 106 a year ago to 132 this season. Fifty-one are in the SEC. Twenty-six assistants are pulling down $400,000 or more, double the number making that much in 2009. Thirteen are in the SEC, topped by four defensive coordinators making $700,000 or better." Greg Robinson, a coordinator, is paid about $270000/yr, about what 51 assistant coaches are being paid in the SEC. Although I hate to see college football become more and more about money, it is what it is. The best coaches are going to the money (SEC), proved thoroughly by what happened on Saturday. Mississippi State just raised Dan Mullen's salary to $2.65 million in a commitment just to be in the Top-25, which is pretty close to what Rodriguez was making. (From the article) "I didn't have any doubts we would get it done," Stricklin said. "We've been to bowl games before and we've been in the Top 25 before but our goal is to build a program that does it consistently. Dan and I share a lot of the same visions and ideas about ways to go about achieving that success. I feel really good about his leadership and am glad we were able to structure this in a way where he has security and he knows we are supportive from a standpoint of facilities, fan support and administrative support. This contract is another example of that commitment." Michigan's head coaching job pay is just outside of the top ten highest paid, while their coordinators and assistant are underpaid compared to their SEC counterparts. From viewpoint of salaries, UofM is committed to MAYBE being a top-25 school. If Michigan wants to be a top-five school again, they'll have to start paying like a top-five school.


Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 7:45 a.m.

It must be pretty sad that with all the unhappiness in the world, hunger, war, unemployment, etc, all we read about is Rich Rodriguez. What is the matter Ann Arbor, what is the matter, Michigan? Do something and get over it. You are becoming the laughing stock of the country. I love Michigan and will always love this team, but enough is enough. Michigan is not the only problem team in the country, try Texas, try Tennessee, try Southern California, try UCLA, try Washington, the list goes on and on. Now Ohio State has problems, move on, make a decision and get this program back to where it belongs. People should not be leaving this team. The defense stinks we all know that, so where is the problem, the coach or the players or both. The players should be so embarassed, week after week, they make the same mistakes, bench a few of them and see how they like it. Congratulate the offense and give them their due. Now onto 2011! Go Blue, not Go Red!


Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 7:38 a.m.

My feeling during the game, and the others watching it at our house, was anger. Anger at the coaching staff for having a the team so poorly prepared. I have long been a supporter of Coach Rodriquez's, primarily due to the offensive capabilities he has demonstrated. Those capabilities were missing on Saturday. I don't want anyone to think I am taking anything away from Mississippi State, a good, but not great team. They had a good game plan and they stuck to it. I felt they ran up the score unnecessarily and it was classless on their part but we also could not stop them. Michigan's game plan on both offense and defense were not visible and the lack of adjustments, the errors, the inability to adjust were the worst I have ever seen from a UM team. I have seen UM lose games before and be over-matched (Tennessee, Oklahoma in the 1976 Orange Bowl) but on Saturday they looked as if they did not belong on the field. I felt bad for the players that the coaching staff let them down so badly.

J. Dean

Mon, Jan 3, 2011 : 7:32 a.m.

Yeah, Miss. State going for it on 4th and 10 in the 4th quarter was outright tacky. There was no reason for that, other than simply running up the score. On another note, I'm sorry to see Rich go in one sense; I really believed he could produce something good, but the fact that he let this bowl game get out of hand tells me that he may need to move on. This doesn't change the fact that Rich Rod is a good coach-only a fool would say otherwise. Look at Tulane, Clemson, and West Va: all winning schools under RichRod. The man knows how to coach an offense, but he really needs to re-evaluate his defensive schemes. Best to you, Coach Rod. Maybe Pitt will pick you up and you'll have a shot to rekindle the Pitt-WVa rivalry from the other side. I really do hope you do well in your future endeavors. But Michigan's not the right fit for you.