Tuesday, November 30, 2010

How about Jesus for Michigan's next head coach?

The blogoshpere and Michigan media in general have been polluted with specualtion about the head football coaching position at the University of Michigan. Peering deep into the crystal ball, I have finally come up with the perfect candidate: Jesus.

Michigan fans expect a miracle-worker: one who can turn this team into National Champions immediately. Jesus can do that. A quick look at how he would handle issues related to the team right now:

1. Personnel is undersized due to age.

No problem. With a wave of his hand, Jesus would instantly add twenty pounds of muscle to every player on the team.

2. Injuries.

This one is easy. Anyone who can heal the dead is more than capable of fixing an ankle, knee, or shoulder.

3. Getting everyone on the same page.

This one is a no-brainer. The main reason people still even remember Jesus is because he was able to get everyone on the same page: his page.

4. Confidence against better teams.

Once again, Jesus was the master of making people believe: both in him and themselves. Confidence would be no problem if the team knew Jesus was on their side.

5. Bad bounces.

Really? There is no such thing as a bad bounce when Jesus is in charge. Even if a bounce appears to be bad, it is later proven to be "God's will." and therefore good.

6. Bad calls.

Is any referee in the country going to disagree with Jesus?

7. Why not Harbaugh?

Because I have never seen a "what would Harbaugh do" sign, bracelet, t-shirt, or bumper sticker.

It is for these reasons that, if he is stupid enough to fire RR, I would implore DB to seriously consider Jesus for the head coaching position. I only see one negative aspect to hiring him:

The media would probably crucify him.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

To all of the "Fire RR" people...

Now that the regular season is finally over, MSM outlets are falling over each other trying to be the first to "break" the "RR fired" story. Many of the media people want him fired so badly that they keep changing the "straw that broke the camel's back" point. And a lot of "Michigan fans" are acting like anything but. A few of the "firing points:"

1. "If the NCAA finds RR guilty of 'failure to provide an atmosphere of compliance,' RR is gone for sure."

Of course, the NCAA accepted Michigan's self-imposed punishment and gave them the extra year that Michigan left room for so that the NCAA could look like they were "doing their job." RR was not personally found guilty of the aforementioned violation.

2. "If the team doesn't show progress, RR will be fired."

The team has showed progress. Michigan has one of the best offenses in the Big Ten, even though they are still young and played a first-year sophomore starter. They won two more games than last year, even though as many as seven freshmen or redshirt freshmen played on defense some games. The secondary, in particular, was too young and inexperienced to play against top-ten ranked teams, let alone start.

3. "If the team isn't headed in the right direction, RR will definitely be fired after this season."

Michigan has won 3, 5, and 7 regular season games in the last three years. The offense is looking like it could turn into one very similar to that of Oregon or Auburn, both of which are indirectly using a lot of RR's playbook. They have played hard until the end of every game, even while getting beaten pretty badly the last two. Players are talking about "the team," and praising their coach for keeping them positive and focused. They are handling both victory and defeat with grace and humility. And something like 19 of 22 starters will be back next year.

There is absolutely no way anyone could say that the team isn't headed in the right direction unless they have already made up their minds that they want RR fired. In other words, this team is definitely headed in the right direction.

4. "If Michigan isn't bowl eligible, RR will be fired."

Obviously, Michigan is indeed bowl eligible.

5. "If Michigan gets blown out by OSU, RR will be fired and Harbaugh will be hired."

Finally, on the fifth try, the OMGFRDKRODNOWPLS people got what they were wishing for. OSU beat Michigan 37-7. This is actually quite similar to the 31-7 score by which FSU beat all-everything coach Urban Meyer three hours later. And Meyer has had five years to build his team.

Anyway, after making the parameter more ridiculous five times, the maggots, leeches, and parasites finally got what they were looking for. So now, they use the loss to OSU as "justification" for an irrational decision that some of them had already made almost three years ago.

As for Harbaugh, he won 4, 5, and 7 games in the years preceding this year, and he took over a team with better personnel. So, this begs a question:

Why are people willing to accept Harbaugh's nearly-identical pattern of growth and hail him as the second coming while simultaneously vilifying RR's pattern, that actually shows even more growth because he lost one more game his first year?

Obviously, the "prodigal son returns home" story would be a great one. And, if he ever does, I will support him fully and be happy for him. But the timing is not right.

Fans are pissed because the team isn't winning. They conveniently forget that the first four losses of the OSU streak were courtesy of Lloyd Carr. They refuse to look at the players Carr left for RR and realize that RR took over a team with personnel more on the level of a MAC team than a Big Ten one. But it still comes down to winning.

So, if the whiners get their way, and Michigan does indeed fire RR and replace him with a pro set guy like Harbaugh, it will mean at least one more year and possibly two more years of losing. Does anyone who is the least bit rational want to risk firing a coach who could get ten or eleven wins out of this team next year for someone who is going to retool again and finish around .500?

The rebuilding job isn't complete yet, but it is close. Michigan will have something like 19 starters with experience next year. The offense is close to becoming one of the best in the history of the Big Ten. The defense is laying the foundation for finally breaking through and being able to stop elite competition.

All that is needed is more time and more experience. Both will happen on their own. Firing RR and changing systems again would be one of the most stupid moves DB could make. Firing RR and replacing him with someone who runs RR's offense wouldn't be a pathetically bad move, but it would be rather pointless.

If DB has as much integrity as a Michigan Man should, RR will at least get to work the length of his contract. It would totally suck for RR if he rebuilt the team, was vilified for the down years during the rebuilding, and then had to watch as someone else won with the program he rebuilt and took credit for his work. It would also suck if RR was fired and came back to win National Championships with another team.

In other words, it would suck if RR was fired before he is given the opportunity to finish what he has started at Michigan. Hopefully, DB ignores the media and the naysayers and realizes what a great coach he has working for him right now.

If he does, and RR wins a National Championship or two at Michigan, his present critics will all be saying "I told you so" and bragging about how they had his back from the start. I could handle that.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

What a week

Various thoughts about the week that was:

1. The Freep was officially wrong.

The NCAA agreed with Michigan's appeal of the charge of "Failure to maintain an atmosphere of compliance," lowering the charge to "Failure to monitor." This was the big one as far as Rich Rodriguez is concerned. Speaking of atmosphere, the one around the program suddenly "did a 180." Finally, after all of the negativity involving the program, they got positive news from the NCAA.

Of course, the Freep didn't see it that way, but pretty much everyone else in the media did. That constitutes a major victory, not only for the school, but for RR. Many hold his job security in question, but I don't, and I think the decision handed down this week "iced" it for RR being able to stay and finish what he has started at Michigan.

More on RR later, but the best part of the whole thing was when Dave Brandon spoke of the need for an apology from the Freep. He may not have named them, but it was obvious who he was talking about. Brandon knows that the Freep fabricated much of their "evidence," and that Rosenpuke's hatchet job was just that: a hatchet job.

2. A Big Win at the Big House.

If there was ever a time for Michigan to pull off a big win, it was this week. Fresh off of the good news from the NCAA, the team won a wild one against Illinois in a game that had a higher score than each of the last three basketball games between the two schools. This game had everything that ESPN Classic likes: lots of points, lead changes, big plays, and a thrilling OT finish. We may see this game on ESPN-C for a long time if we are lucky (and Illinois isn't).

This was a game of vindication. The team proved that it wasn't going to have the same record as last year. Tate Forcier came off the bench to lead his team to victory against a team that trounced him last year. Most of all, the defense came up with a big stop when it really, really needed one. And it "only" allowed 14 points to Illinois in the last half of regulation: seven of them resulting from a Tate Forcier turnover deep in his own territory.

If the school gave game balls to everyone who deserved one, the Freep would probably call it a major NCAA violation.

3. RR does the right thing: again.

Last year against Iowa, RR pulled quarterback Tate Forcier in the fourth quarter. There was no information available during the game, but RR was roundly criticized for it after the game. It turned out that Forcier had sustained a concussion, but some so-called "fans" still ragged about it for the rest of the year.

Fast forward to yesterday: RR pulled quarterback Denard Robinson from the game in the fourth quarter. There was no information available during the game. Unlike last year, Michigan pulled this game out, and RR won't be criticized for it. But the reason was the same: Robinson was exhibiting concussion symptoms, and RR held him out for his own safety.

RR has been a lightning rod for criticism since he arrived in Ann Arbor. One of the most common criticisms both the media and the fanbase like to level at him is that he is a "win at all costs coach." For them, I have one question:

Is there any other coach in America who would have made the same decision in crucial games where his job status could be on the line not once, but twice?

AFAIC, most coaches would have found a way to get the star QB back into the game with some bogus question to "prove" that he was OK.

Other coaches talk about family atmosphere, and how the health and safety of their players is paramount, but RR walks the talk. RR wants to win as much as anyone on the planet, but he won't compromise the well-being of his players to do so. I can only hope that the same "fans" and media that have trashed him for almost three years will finally give him credit for being the kind of man and coach that he is.

4. About that job status...

I think it can be safely said that the "RR hot seat" rumors can officially be put to rest. Michigan has shown improvement this year despite the woeful lack of age and experience on defense. He has built the offense into a potential video game, and has rebuilt the team in his own image, laying the foundation for Michigan to truly arrive in the currrent millenium.

Hopefully, the so-called "fans" who have been bitching and whining about RR ever since it became evident that he couldn't snap his fingers and turn Threet or Sheridan into bona fide D-1 QB's in 2008 will finally give it a rest and stop their chronic complaining. RR is here to stay, and the school will be much better off for it, possibly as early as next season.

5. What: me defense?

Defense is a question that will be answered during the off-season. GERG's days at Michigan may be numbered, or he may get a pass for having to play so many new players this year. At any rate, they played a lot better when they were allowed to be more aggressive yesterday. The play that saved the game was the old "jailbreak" (at least that's what they call it at MSU) blitz. Almost everyone rushed the QB, and someone got to him before he could hit a wide-open reciever in the end zone.

While most fans, even the most loyal and learned, seem to think that GERG's dismissal is a fait accompli, I am not so sure yet. The defense does have four games left to improve enough to justify keeping him. "Only" allowing Illinois fourteen points in the second half and making the key stop in OT indicate some improvement to me. We will see how it plays out.

6. David Brandon is THE MAN.

During the season, and especially this week, David Brandon has shown the strong leadership skills that got him the AD job at Michigan. He has come out with strong statements regarding RR, the NCAA investigation, and the Freep this week. I have no idea what he is going to do in the offseason, but I do trust that he will make the right decision. It seems like the athletic department is finally in good hands again.

It is about time.