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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Brian –

I need some positive encouragement from the you about the football team in 2008. While I think Rodriguez is a GREAT coach and can do amazing things for Michigan, my concern with his hiring was always the transition. While I’m excited about the new era of Michigan football, I need someone to convince me that we’re not going to go 6-6 next year. My big fear is a John Beilein-like transition period. Here’s the parallel:

1. New coach comes in with a radically different philosophy
2. A large and talented senior class leaves the roster inexperienced (Hart, Henne, Long, Kraus, Crable, Adams, Englemon) vs. (Sims, Petway, Harris, Abram)
3. A collection of other experienced contributors leaves by choice or otherwise (Manningham, Arrington, Mallet….others?) vs. (Baker, Morris, Price, Smith)
4. The team is now composed of talented but inexperienced players who are not a great fit for the type of scheme the coach wants
5. The coach somewhat writes off the season while he pushes his system in place

Now, I certainly realize that the basketball team was not in great shape regardless of the transition and that losing 8 contributors from basketball is far more drastic than losing 10 from football. However, the similarities are starting to worry me. Everyone will now assume that we’re getting Pryor - but what if we don’t? Tell me why we can win 8 or 9 games….or can we?

-Adam R Cole
Uh, well... next year looks pretty rough to me and your basketball analogy is terrifying. I hate your analogy so much.

The upside: even with the departures of Manningham and Arrington, that's only eleven contributors departing. Michigan was pretty young this year and returns its entire defensive line plus its top three corners.

The downside: Freshman quarterback of some variety, entirely new offensive system, one returning WR with appreciable experience, and wholly new safeties. Ugly kicker: More attrition is on its way, as Rodriguez has repeatedly stated he expects to sign a full class of 25 players. Ugly kicker x2: road games against Penn State and Ohio State and, uh, I guess Notre Dame. Who will still probably be bad, but... yeah. So will we, in all likelihood.

I'm not expecting anything great.
so, we know that coach rodriguez (i cannot do coach rod sounds like a bad porn moniker) wants a full recruiting class of 25, but i am curious as to what you are hearing vis a vis antonio bass.

the kid will likely never play again, but he has worked his ass off (from the little i read) and stayed in school. is there any chance that the road to 25 recruits will come on the back of guys like bass?

i think coach is a good honorable man, and denying a 'ship to someone like that would have profound affects, not mainly upon his psyche, but his life options as right now the UM degree, along with his perseverance, are two things that can greatly aid his future. it would also seemingly send the wrong message to players. no?

thought you might look into/weigh in on this.
Players who cannot continue because of medical hardship can be removed from the team but keep their scholarship without occupying one of the 85 slots. When Zia Combs was forced to retire because of a neck injury, he remained on scholarship. If Bass does not return, and despite hopeful noises from his father whenever they ask him about it that seems exceedingly likely, he will still be able to get his degree.
brain, [WORD -ed]

i was reading "West Fin'Jihad: Day II" today and i finally reached the
tipping point:

doesn't it seem like WVU must have some good reasons to be *this* pissed at
RR? i mean, coaches leave schools all the time and very rarely is the venom
this poisonous...and in this case from the university itself, not just the

now, i know one might say, "yeah WVU has 4 million reasons to be mad at RR"
but this seems over the top.

put that together with the comments from the crazy NC State player who used
to go to WVU about RR.

point is, are you at all worried that RR might be, well, someone who we will
be cursing in 4 years with adjectives like dirty, selfish, slimy, etc.?

(Nick refers to this post from Scout's message boards by one Sean Berton, late of WVU and NC State.) I don't lend Berton's post much credence, since he transferred immediately upon Rodriguez's arrival and has no personal knowledge of the guy except a couple meetings, during which he found Rodriguez to be the worst person ever... possibly because Berton was not wanted by the new staff. Berton compares and contrasts Rodriguez to Nehlen, painting the latter a saint and the former a devil, without mentioning that Nehlen was and is one of Rodriguez's biggest supporters. Sour grapes from a guy in no position to make credible accusations.

As to your larger point: there is obviously extreme animosity between Rodriguez and the WVU athletic department that goes both ways. WVU is bitter, suing Rodriguez pre-emptively and releasing this likely-spurious shredding garbage. Today WVU papers are filled with the shocking revelation that Rodriguez called Michigan recruits after being announced as Michigan's head coach. Rodriguez has made some relatively mild public comments about being disappointed in the reaction of his home state and made a dark comment about stuff "coming out" that was tinged with bitterness; he's also either enlisted WVU booster Ken Kendrick to tell his side of the story or, at the very least, not politely asked him to shut up. His quotes in the Blade today are the topper.

This is an ugly public spat on both sides. He and Ed Pastilong hate each others' guts, and their uneasy truce finally blew up in the aftermath of the Pitt loss. That's the only way, IMO, that Rodriguez was ever going to leave WVU: if he found the working environment intolerable. Now each has found their nemesis in the other.

What does this say about Rodriguez? Well, not everyone gets along with him. He can probably be a bit of a dick from time to time. And Ed Pastilong is his antipode. It doesn't mean much else. For all the talk about Rodriguez's horrible ethics, WVU hasn't had a hint of scandal in his tenure there. His major sin appears to be making do with a cast of dodgy characters like Pacman Jones, et cetera, because of the limitations imposed on him by West Virginia's status as a state entirely devoid of football talent.

Though Jones and Chris Henry have proven themselves to be world-class jackasses, many other people in the WVU program have not. Pat White's a legendarily nice guy. Owen Schmitt is 250 pounds of awesome. WVU didn't score at all in the 2006 Fulmer Cup and had but 9 points in 2007, six less than Michigan. (I wonder if EDSBS ever anticipated the day when the Fulmer Cup would be used in a serious discussion of disciplinary issues. ) Nine points in the last two years is well within the bounds of reason.

Rich Rodriguez has a bad reputation, but for what?

One thing that might cause Michigan to regret the hiring of Rodriguez might be wild success followed by a big-bucks NFL departure. (I'll believe Michigan is not a terminal college job when I see it.) Personally, this would be okay with me since Rodriguez's name is built entirely around his NFL-unfriendly offense. Teams would be leery until he had a Spurrier-like run of ownage, and if Rodriguez does that... uh... okay.

Would such a departure be "selfish"? I guess in a technical sense, yes. He would be doing something he wanted to do. But not really.

More in this vein:
For a guy who likes to come off like a real hard driving, critical blogger you either are displaying some incredible naivete or are just wearing maize-and-blue glasses regarding the destruction of records.

Rodriguez did do something in his office to some materials. Even the most venomous West Virginia, Rodriguez-hating fan can't make up all the details that have been provided.

At the very least what Rodriguez is accused of doing is petty and vindicative. Why in the world would he want to destroy player records? Was there something to hide? Or was he just pissed off at the nasty response to his leaving W. Va.?

At the very most Rodriguez performed a criminal act, ridding himself of personnel records, all of which are confidential and none of which he had a right to destroy. He works at a public university and I very seriously doubt that a UM coach, who if he/she had done the same thing would feel a nasty outcry.

I was a Rodriguez fan long before that eventful Friday afternoon when The Sporting News reported that Martin and Campbell were interviewing Rodriguez for the job.

His hiring sent me into an orgasmic ecstacy. I guess all orgasms are ecstatic.
This one was particularly powerful.

The fact is that at least some of the accusations will turn up to be true. Depending on how much is proven perhaps Fred Jackson will have "interim head coach" added to his resume.

Marvin and I are operating with different assumptions. His assumption is that there is enough smoke to assume Rodriguez did something wrong. My assumption is that Rodriguez has pissed off a group of people like no coach ever did before and they're out for blood. In clear terms: nothing the West Virginia athletic department claims can be trusted. Everyone from the governor on down is pissed and trying to nail Rodriguez on anything they possibly can. Witness the Rodriguez-phones-M-recruits thing from today.

If you're inclined to think Rodriguez is equally unreliable on this matter, fine. That leaves this situation at a he-said-they-said stalemate. Of the two scenarios -- Sacred Single Hard Copy and Insane Rednecks -- which seems more plausible? I know which one I've got.