Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Buyer's remorse

It has been just over a month since Michigan announced the hiring of Rich Rodriguez as the 18th Head Football Coach in Michigan history. In the past month, Coach Rod fired the entire coaching staff save one (Fred Jackson); Coach Rod became embroiled in a very bitter and public spat with his former school WVU over his $4 million buy-out clause and allegations of "shredded files"; players with eligibility have left the program in droves including Ryan Mallett, Mario Manningham, Adrian Arrington and Alex Mitchell; and Coach Rod's recruiting season has been uneven thus far. Uh, is it too late to return Coach Rod to West Virginia University? I think I must have my receipt around here somewhere.

The coaching search was a debacle from the moment A.D. Bill Martin botched the courtship of LSU's Les Miles. Personally, I did not want Miles to be the next coach but I did not like how Miles' candidacy was (mis)handled. The coaching "search" only went downhill from there. It was nothing short of a disaster. Michigan was a laughingstock. President Mary Sue Coleman had to step in and assist A.D. Martin in landing a big name (i.e., Rodriguez) to staunch the bleeding as Michigan was getting killed. The problem is that in the rush to bring in a hot, young coach (Rodriguez is only 44 years old), Michigan sacrificed bringing in the right guy for the program. Michigan was so desperate to "stop the bleeding" it was willing to overpay for a coach (any coach) who was considered a young, hot commodity. In bringing in Rodriguez, we got a young, innovative coach. We also have a person of questionable integrity and character now leading the football program. It did not have to be this way.

Michigan had the perfect internal candidate in Ron English. Young (39 years old) and highly respected, Coach English had been with the program for five years serving as the Defensive Coordinator for the past two seasons. Coach "E" is a man of great integrity and high character as he demonstrated during his tenure at Michigan. Coach English would have made changes but likely would have kept many of the prior members of the Michigan coaching staff. Coach English would have blended the old with the new. He would have been able to move the football program forward while building on the strength of the traditions of the past. The wholesale changes made by Coach Rodriguez means things will be very different next year but it does not mean they will be better. In fact, they will likely be worse. However, under Coach English, the program would be in better shape now and in the future. A.D. Bill Martin did a great disservice by creating an environment where the hiring of an internal candidate would be viewed as "settling" and not in the best interests of the program. In fact, staying inside (as it turns out) would have been far preferable to the outside hire that was made. It's all water under the bridge but sometimes as I watch Coach Rod's soap opera I wistfully wonder what might have been if Michigan had hired Coach English instead. Go Blue!

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At 11:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ron English isn't even close to being as qualified as Rich Rodriguez. It'll take a couple years to get things going in the right direction, but in the long term RR >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> RE.

Turn in your "M" card, dude.

At 1:16 AM, Blogger Brandon said...

With all due respect, it's a bit early to call Rodriguez a debacle, wait until he goes 6-6 for that. Recruiting's going fine, the class isn't ranked quite as high as most classes have been but it's still a top 20 class, with the potential of reaching top 10 with a strong finish. Don't forget, UM is one of two finalists for the top QB who wasn't even considering us before Rodriguez was hired.

Manningham was gone, only a bowl game injury would have kept him from leaving; Arrington's stock will never be higher after his outstanding performance in the bowl; and Mitchell is going to go down as one of the most disappointing players to play for Michigan in this decade. While I would have loved to see MM & AA come back for their senior years, it probably wasn't going to happen no matter who the head coach is.

I really like English, but I would've wanted at least one more year with him as DC before I would've considered him a serious candidate for the job.

At 7:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, that clinches it. I can delete my bookmark to your blog. Anyone who would suggest English as a Head Coach clearly doesn't know jack about football. Buh-bye.

At 11:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can't we play a season before deciding this was a complete failure?
RRod is a proven winner, English is not. RRod was unfairly smeared by the entire state of WV; whether he was involved in any actual wrongdoing remains to be seen.

Talk about jumping to conclusions...

At 2:22 PM, Anonymous Dan2004 said...

But there are hundreds, if not millions, of West Virginia University fans.
But you would have to look for an eternity to find one who would take Rich Rodriguez back now.
The Michigan fiasco has taught us, too,about his total lack of integrity and character. We didn't know that until he went shopping for a second time to come up with a list of demands to blackmail WVU for the second straight year.
The other fact not revealed here is that the University of Alabama lucked out a year ago. They settled for Nick Saban, a creature of the same culture and county in West Viginia as Rodriguez.

At 9:35 PM, Anonymous What? said...

Are you talking about Ron English the architect of the defense that couldn't stop App State? WTF how soon we forget. You should at least give credit to chicken little for this post.

At 1:46 AM, Blogger mzgoblue said...

Rich Rod is a proven winner as a Head Coach. He has also demonstrated that he is not a man of unquestionable integrity. At the very least, the man is constantly in the middle of drama. I want stability and integrity in a Head Coach not a main character in a soap opera. Our previous coaches (Bo-Mo-Lloyd) were all cut from the same cloth. Man of unquestionable charachter. Rich Rod is a buffoon who is cut from the same cloth as Nick Saban. Rich Rod is not a worthy successor to the Bo-Mo-Lloyd coaching legacy. Ron English would have been a quality choice. Yes, he does not have the head coaching experience. However, remember that Michigan was Lloyd's first (and only) college head coaching position. Lloyd went from Def. Coordinator to Head Coach and English could have taken the same route. Hiring English would have been taking a calculated risk but it was a risk worth taking. The alternative (hiring Rodriguez) is likely to hurt the program in the long run. Rodriguez is not the right guy for the program. For 39 years Michigan has had been led by Head Coaches who were beyond reproach. Rodriguez is a walking circus. He may, in fact, deliver wins at some point. Winning is obviously nothing new for the Michigan program. Being led by a buffoon, however, will be a new experience. English should have been the hire and there would have been a more orderly transfer of regimes. Instead, all I read about everyday is a new article about how the new staff is fighting with their old school. Rich Rod is not worth it. Michigan should have made the internal hire.

At 10:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

im sorry but this sounds like the typical michigan fan who was complaining last season when our playcalling was stagnant and uneffective in big games, and now that we go and get an great offensive mind to change things up and we suddenly want the old regime back.

I think its completely unfair to call the man a bafoon when the only questionable thing his done thus far was letting pryor in on the fact he was leaving.

I like english as a man, and I think he has great character but i dont believe he was ready to lead this team. You make the comparison between him and Lloyd but remember Carr was an assistant for 15 YEARS, not 5 like english was.

RR turned a west virginia program that was basically a joke when he got there into a national powerhouse. I think we owe him at least a few years before we start calling for his job.

I loved what Bo did here and I understand you wanting more of an old school type guy but im just not sure thats what we need anymore.

At 11:18 AM, Anonymous what? said...

By calling Coach Rod a buffoon and comparing him to Saban makes me think that you have been reading the WVU side of things too much. Remember there are two sides to every story. Sure we all wish this was an easier transition but it is what it is. If your whole argument that English should have gotten the job because it would be safer reputation (I haven't seen any statements football/strategy wise to think any differently) remember soap operas can come with internal hires as well. It seems you forgot the whole Moeller episode. Or do you think a public drunken tirade to be something a "man of unquestionable character" does.

At 1:38 PM, Blogger Tim said...

Martin didn't want Miles from the start. That much has been made very clear. The only people who were ever actually offered were Schiano and Rodriguez (was Ferentz actually offered?)

At 5:34 PM, Blogger mzgoblue said...

I must have touched a nerve with this post because I don't think I've ever had this many comments in a thread in the 1 3/4 years I've been doing this blog. A couple of quick responses. First, to Tim. Ferentz (Iowa) was never offered and actually Schiano (Rutgers) was not either. With Schiano the job was his if he wanted it (he did not) but it was not technically offered. The only actual known offer was made to (and of course accepted by) Rodriguez. Now to address some other points that have been raised. First, I think it is an excellent point that Coach Carr was an asst. coach at Michigan for 15 years while English had only been with the Wolverines for 5 years. Nevertheless, I feel that English is qualified to make the leap to the head coaching ranks when you view the totality of the circumstances (his accomplishments, experience, dynamic personality, age, background, etc.). As for the Bo-Mo-Lloyd triumvurate, I knew I was leaving myself wide open to the "Moeller drunken arrest does not equal high character argument". My response is that Moeller immediately stepped down when it was deemed he was not fit to lead. Michigan has always had men of character leading the program. Rich Rod is not in that same mold. He is not a man of character. He is nothing but a mercenary. As for football strategy, Rich Rod is revolutionizing the Michigan playbook. It is indisputable that he is an innovator of the spread offense. Yet, does Michigan really need to revolutionize its offense? Michigan's pro-style offense has been quite effective over the years. Sure, people have been critical of the conservative play calling (especially in big games) but that could be changed with a new offensive coordinator. The philosphy under Coach Carr was "protect". Protect the ball, protect the lead. It was a conservative offensive style. A new head coach with a more aggressive style (say Ron English) could employ the same pro-style offense but play less conservatively than Coach Carr-era teams. Rich Rod is throwing out the baby with the bath water. Michigan's traditional offense does not need an overhaul. Just more aggressive playcalling. (Personally, I never had a problem with Coach Carr's philosophy but I think I was in the minority.) Furthermore, defense wins championships. Defense has been a hallmark at Michigan. Rich Rod's defenses at WVU have been above average. However, Ron English KNOWS defense. English would have been the better fit as Head Coach. Erik Campbell, Scot Loeffler or Fred Jackson could have been the Offensive Coordinator. Or English could have gone outside and hired Norm Chow who ended up at UCLA. Instead we have the WVU crew overhauling the Michigan system and the Wolverines lost Ryan Mallett in the process. When Rich Rod and assistants came from WVU, the circus came to town. Bo set a high standard and Rich Rod is failing to live up to it. Go Blue!

At 6:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with many of the other posters here. English would have been great to keep on staff but isn't quite ready to be a head coach yet. Rich Rod is going to get the job done but we are about to go through some growing pains to get Blue back on the map as a powerhouse. Were going to have to update the way we play and the way we look at our program. That makes some of the Michigan fans of yesteryear uncomfortable (like you). A change is needed for us to stay on track with the OSUs, LSUs, UFs and UGAs of the college football world. Its almost like were at a crossroads for our program. Which side are you the maker of this site on? Do you cling tightly to the past or are you ready for UM to move on? I cried when BO died too, we all did but let's be honest with our program, Lloyd wasn't getting it done, he was beginning to become a dinosaur. We beat the Gators because Lloyd decided to dust off the old playbook and throw some curve balls in there. It was a great game, it was fun, it was exciting, we stood in the living room and laughed out loud when Jake Long lined up at TE and almost caught a screen pass from Chad Henne. We have the right guy for the job to transition our guys into the next generation of college football elite. Rich Rod is known for taking limited talent and making the offense taylored to what he has. He's going to win, simple as that. Like others have said, lets give the guy a shot.

At 7:31 PM, Anonymous what? said...

You say English is qualified because he knows defense. He didn't know enough defense to stop App State or Oregon and UM will be running the same offense as them.

Yes the offense UM ran has been and could be successfull with more agressive playcalling but that is not what RR has built his success with. I think that it would be hard to argue that UM has done as well as RR (WVU) and they had superior talent. But if you were satisfied with Carr's strategy there is no sense in arguing this with you because you wouldn't think any risk of outside the box thinking is worth it.

So outside your desire of watching Michigan "throw rock" (sorry Brian) your main problem with RR is that he is a "mercenary". After looking at the coaching stops of Yost, Bo, and RR could you tell me why you think he is any more a mercenary than those two Michigan legends. The only thing I can figure is that you don't think Michigan is a step up from WVU because both Bo and RR left their Alma Mater to coach at Michigan.

Fielding Yost:

1897 Ohio Wesleyan
1898 Nebraska
1899 Kansas
1900 Stanford
1901-23, 1925-26 Michigan

Bo Schembechler:

1952 Ohio State assistant
1954 Presbyterian assistant
1955 Bowling Green assistant
1956-1957 Northwestern assistant
1958-1962 Ohio State assistant
1963-1968 Miami University
1969-1989 Michigan

Rich Rodriquez

1988 Salem (lst Job - School dropped football)
1990-1996 Glenville State
1997-1998 Tulane (OC)
1999-2000 Clemson (OC)
2001-2007 West Virginia
2008-present Michigan

At 8:17 PM, Blogger mzgoblue said...

I really like the last two comments as I think they both bring up a lot of good points. I'll try and address a few of them. First, I thought the reference to me as a "Michigan fan of yesteryear" as hilarious. I do acknowledge that Michigan needs to move forward. There is the old saying that if you stand still you are falling behind. The question is who do we want to lead the program forward? Do we want someone who has been part of the program (Ron English) or someone who has no ties to the tradition (Rich Rod) who will throw out the good with the bad in revolutionizing the program. As for being a "mercenary", another commenter brought up the excellent point that Bo and Yost were not "Michigan Men" until they started coaching at Michigan. That is an outstanding point and one I've acknowledged many times in many posts on this site (at least as to Bo). However, Rich Rod's dramatic break-up with WVU that continues to receive daily news coverage has revealed that Coach Rod is not in the same class as Coach Schembechler (or Coach Carr) when it comes to how a person comports himself. Rich Rod's behavior does not project loyalty. If Rodriguez was willing to walk out on the school where he both played and served as Head Coach then he certainly will be willing to walk away from the Wolverines if a better job offer (NFL) comes along. Michigan has made a bowl every year since 1975 and has not had a losing season since 1967. My fear has always been that those two streaks would come to an end when the coaching change was made. I don't want to suffer through a period like other traditional top programs have (i.e., Nebraska, Notre Dame, USC-pre-Pete Carroll). The Wolverines have been winning since Bo took over in 1969 (21 Big Ten Titles in 39 years) and an internal hire would- in my opinion-have kept things going. Instead, we have Rich Rod and we have to see if his break from tradition will result in a break from the tradition of winning. Let's hope not. Go Blue!

At 12:18 PM, Blogger Tim said...

mzgoblue, I don't disagree with the fact that English should have been a viable candidate (I wrote a post advocating for him myself), merely that Miles never was considered a viable candidate. Schiano wasn't "officially offered" only in the sense that there wouldn't be an "official offer" to anyone without Martin knowing with 100% certainty it would be accepted.

At 1:31 PM, Blogger mzgoblue said...

Tim: I'm in complete agreement with your above comment as to Schiano. As for Miles, I had a hard time getting a read whether Martin ever considered him a viable candidate. Apparently no offer was ever made due to circumstances but I'm not sure how much Miles was ever in the mix to be offered the job. Go Blue!

At 8:46 AM, Blogger A Reformed Family Man said...

I cannot image hiring someone like English that has been very inconsistent in his two seasons as DC. We needed a proven winner. The Bo era is over, and its time to move on. College football changes, its not the I formation run between the tackles anymore. That game has shown it can't win anymore.

Lets give it a roll and see what we get.

At 2:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry but we have a "No Returns" policy here at WVU. So don’t bother looking for that receipt. Enjoy RR and your 2 and 9 season. He was defiantly the wrong man for a storied job. Enjoy your purchase we will do just fine. Thank you,
The true West Virginia Fans.


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