Friday, November 13, 2009

Rich Rodriguez: We Are Family

Who will be fired first” Charlie Weis or Rich Rodriguez?

Good Time Charlie, because President Mary Sue Coleman of Michigan said in a Wall Street Journal interview a week ago “I don’t think it’s fair to coaches to bring them in and say, ‘We’re going to give you three years.’”

President Coleman is thereby giving Coach RichRod a two year vote of confidence, which coincides with the length of his 4 year contract.

Don’t bet on it; the alumni lack that patience.

We understood that last year would be a challenge, but we expected signs of improvement this year.

Any transition to a new coach with a new system will be risky, but when you lack the personnel for the system, it’s suicide.

He likes small, quick, agile linemen for his spread offense. The reality is that large, quick, agile, athletic linemen will beat small, quick, agile athletic linemen on both the offensive and defensive lines. Michigan is being pushed around. This Saturday’s game is a prime example. Wisconsin’s OL weighs on the average 55 more pounds than Michigan’s DL.

Opposing QB’s have so much time to throw that Michigan’s defensive secondary is toast, and the QB’s look like All-Americans.

Alas, the team is reverting to all the bad habits of last year: fumbles, interceptions, missed blocks, missed tackles, missed assignments, and general confusion.

The coach has broken many records at Michigan:

40 successive non-losing seasons;

33 successive bowl games

Michigan had never lost a game to a MAC team, but RichRod lost to a
scandal ridden, 3-9 Toledo.

Rodriguez has only one record left to break at Michigan: 122 successive games with attendance of 100,000 or more. He might make it next year.

Michigan’s lead in all-time victories and winning percentage is dropping fast.

Rich Rod is making $2.5 million per year for 4 years; the largest salary any coach has ever earned at Michigan.

His salary equals $625,000 per victory. Greg Robinson, the defensive coordinator, recently fired as head coach at Syracuse after 4 miserable years, earns $270,000 this year.

I should have entered coaching rather than the law.

Rodriguez is asserting that the cupboard was bare when he assumed charge of the all-time winning football program in America.

We know weaknesses existed in recruiting in Lloyd Carr’s final years, especially on the lines and secondary.

The problems persist in the defensive secondary and the offensive line. Depth is sometimes short.

However, these problems were blown up by RichRod running off 25 players in less than 2 years. 2 starting quarterbacks, a backup QB, a starting running back, three offensive linemen, one starting safety, four receivers, the list goes on.

The sanctimonious coach stated that “Players and coaches are my family.” What about the 25 who left?

Rodriguez wanted to prove at Michigan he could win his way. It’s Rich’s way, or the highway. The losses mount.

Some transferred, some didn’t even suit up for their first game, some did not return for their fifth year, some quit the team, some turned pro, some of our scholar athletes had academic problems, a few were arrested , and others were kicked off. 25 players took the highway.

Some left even before his first season, with the promising offensive lineman, Justin Boren, transferring to Ohio State. Ryan Mallett, the first quarterback, is having an outstanding year at Arkansas. Sam McGuffie, an outstanding running back suffered three concussions in just a few games because of poor blocking. He left for Rice.

Football programs are allowed 86 scholarships. Bill martin, the Athletic Director and a consumate bean counter, should be elated. Rodriguez only has 71 players on scholarship.

And the losses go on.

When Justin Boren decamped last year for Ohio State, he attributed his leaving to a decline in family values by Rodriguez, who countered: “I think we have as close a family unit – coaches, staff members and team – as anyone in the country. Always has been, always will be.”

Soundslike a dysfunctional family to me with 25 leaving, and probably more to follow.

One of the 25 family members who left accused the program of forcing the players to participate in conditioning programs that violated NCAA rules. The charge probably won’t stick, but Michigan is subject to an NCAA investigation of its football program, something that never happened during the Bo Era.

A great coach shapes his coaching to the abilities of the players. For example, John Wooden won 10 national titles at UCLA, changing the style each time. He first won with quick guards, a full court press and no centers, and then with strong centers, and alternated with strong forwards but no center. John Wooden had flexibility – not a rigid system. You play the players you’re dealt.

Each home game is worth about $6 million in revenues to Michigan if the game sells out. President Coleman has to understand that with football attendance dropping, the economic loss will be catastrophic and the wrath of the alumni irresistible.

The highly promising basketball season is underway. John Beilein, who also came from West Virginia, has produced a winner. Michigan is proud.

UCLA is basketball, as are Kansas, Kentucky, and North Carolina. Michigan is football, as President Coleman surely understands.

Coach Rodriguez has asked for patience. Michigan has lost 6 straight times to Ohio State. It's been 2,192 days since Michigan beat Ohio State. The Michigan alumni have no more patience than Ohio State’s alumni with Earle Bruce and John Cooper regularly losing to Michigan.

An alumni base, spoiled by success, lacks patience. Ask Miami, Nebraska, Florida Notre Dame, Oklahoma, and Alabama.

RichRod’s biggest supporter is Bill Martin, who is retiring as AD next September 4, after a few problems. He lacked the proper ID at the Notre Dame and then 3 weeks later at the Delaware State game. Student security guards properly denied him admission to the Regents Guest Area. He pushed the guards aside, thereby displaying either arrogance or the influence of alcohol. Martin is regrettably too small to play even on Michigan’s lines.

The State of Michigan needs a winner. So does the University.

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