Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Keep Me in Your Heart

Warren Zevon - Keep Me In Your Heart .mp3

Found at bee mp3 search engine

More often than not, sports always end up blurring our thoughts, distorting our most basic of human emotions. We refer to simple games as wars, to mere players as soldiers, warriors, etc, often without giving thought to what we're doing. But in no instance is this disconnect more evident than when the topic of termination of employment comes up. We're all guilty of it. We never consider the man, we always consider the coach. I suppose that's our obligation as sports fans. It's our job to look at the results, not the family or the person. We don't consider the ramifications beyond our own self-interests.

It was an easy decision to make, and one that had to be made regardless of "process" and who is or is not coming to do the job next. Firing Rich Rodriguez was the only logical conclusion after three years of seeing Michigan sink into a well of misery so deep that the prevailing emotion in the face of a 38-point bowl loss to a 5th-place SEC team was apathy. By every reasonable measure, Rich failed and failed historically as Michigan's head coach. The promise and overly confident optimism he brought 36 and a half months ago was long extinguished, replaced by anger from those within and laughter - or worse, pity - from those on the outside.

But the fact that this was the only reasonable endgame doesn't make me feel better. It doesn't take away the cold knot in my stomach, or the weight on my heart. The randomness of the universe is something that has haunted me for years. This ongoing process called life, where good, decent people can be struck down by the cruel hand of forces sometimes larger than themselves angers me, because it's never about what you deserve. I'm not talking about Rich Rodriguez the coach. I'm talking about Rich Rodriguez the man. He came here as a stranger in a strange land, in many ways the worst possible candidate in retrospect. Generally, being a simple person who just wants to succeed in your walk of life would be considered an admirable quality. Rich had no interest - and worse, no real capability - in navigating the minefields of politics at Michigan. He didn't want to hand-hold the people who couldn't cope with the outsider from West Virginia. He wasn't interested in providing counsel and leniency to those who had trouble adjusting. All he wanted to do was do things his way, install what he knows, and coach football. On the surface, that would be, and should have been, fine. But at Michigan, you can't just be a football coach. For better or worse, it's a unique place that requires a unique mind. And it saddens me that it had to play out this way, because I know that Rich Rodriguez genuinely loved Michigan. He felt blessed and honored to be the head coach at such a special and hallowed place. He knew the opportunity that was presented to himself, and he embraced it as best he could.

Unfortunately, as fate would have it, the best he could fell well short of even the most modest of expectations, and on a personal level, that saddens me most of all, and it produces a sort of repulsion in my gut that I find myself on the same side of the fence as people like Michael Rosenberg, Drew Sharp, Mark Snyder, and so many others who passed judgment not just on the coach, but on the man. The fact that these people are celebrating today brings me angst that is beyond words. They feel like they landed their prized scalp. They have Rodriguez's head on the plate they started polishing off three years ago. That special spot they picked out on their walls to mount Rich's head on is now ready, and they take delight in it, and it sickens me. That's another thing that really pisses me off, when the end result agrees with people whose process was beyond flawed, because it makes them feel vindicated in what they've done. Mike Rosenberg will sleep well tonight. He shouldn't.

My faith in this experiment was dealt a punch to the throat in early October when Michigan State bulldozed Michigan. My last shred of belief was dealt away when Penn State's backup walkon quarterback did whatever he pleased against our tremendously flawed defense. The Penn State game was the last straw for a lot of us, I think. Even during the subsequent wins over Illinois and Purdue, the feeling that this was nearing its end never left my mind. That didn't stop me from yelling and screaming at the TV during the Illinois game. It didn't stop me from enduring a six hour car ride to Purdue to stand in a driving rainstorm for three hours with the girl I love, because if there's one thing that approaches the love I have for her, it's the love I have for that team that takes the field in the winged helmets, and that's the solace I will take from this sordid tale. No matter the coach, my support for Michigan football will never die.

On December 17, 2007, I got up earlier than usual to turn on the TV and watch the ushering in of what we all believed to be a new, prosperous era. 1115 days later, we bid farewell to that era, in some ways weaker, and in some ways wiser.


withering fire said...

Yes to this.


James said...

Agree completely. Even though I think this is the right move for the program, it's sad that it had to happen.

mtzlblk said...

I hear you. I don't happen to think it is the right move for the program, beyond just keeping RR. I think caving to media jihads and a rabidly classist, snobby fanbase has moved us away from a program with character and toward one that is just a big business that only cares about W's. That is not the Michigan my parents went to and loved, not the Michigan I grew up with, it is not the Michigan I went to and it is not the Michigan I want my 5 year old son to love.

I am relieved we didn't bring in Harbaugh, because despite the fact he played at Michigan I don't think he has 1% of the character or class that RR has. If it ends up being Brady hoke, that is a smoking crater of fail on so many levels and would make Brandon look like a fool in firing RR to trade down to one of his friends.

Whoever is in next, 3 years, no excuses...

Pat said...

mtzlblk...agree 100%
B has set the bar. 3 years, no excuses. And if anyone out there can name one coach who will REALISTICALLY, in 3 years after this fiasco, win more than 7 game with the personnel who we have, and will lose, then step up and commit it to paper. Even Harbaugh is not that idiotic. Next coach will be out in 3 and the cycle continues. Thanks DB.....for nothing.

Jim15032 said...

"I think caving to media jihads and a rabidly classist, snobby fanbase has moved us away from a program with character and toward one that is just a big business that only cares about W's. That is not the Michigan my parents went to and loved, not the Michigan I grew up with, it is not the Michigan I went to and it is not the Michigan I want my 5 year old son to love."

Where were similar sentiments to defend Lloyd Carr? Instead the RR fans weren't satisfied to be happy about the new; they felt a need to denigrate the old. As for "only cares about Ws," how many RR supporters spoke of only one NC in fifty years being "unacceptable?"

Rich Rodriguez didn't lose his job for wearing blue jeans. Ivan Maisel is a fool for having said that. If he had beaten tOSU and State he could have run around in bib overalls, a straw sombrero, and a wisp of hay between his teeth. He is gone because he couldn't sell Brandon on the notion that he was taking the program in a direction that would result within a reasonable time in a program the University would be proud of.

Bo started out with a slogan: "Those who stay will be champions." And the kids believed it and they did what Bo said and they became champions. It is disingenuous to say Bo had a lot of talent at his disposal; a lot of those kids became good football players because of the coaches. Who is going to argue that Randy Logan came to Ann Arbor already a great DB? Or Rich Strenger or Mark Donahue as all conference offensive linemen? Or later, that Jay Riemersma came as an NFL caliber tight end? Or Ian Gold (one of Lloyd's) as an NFL caliber LB? If you want more examples, I'll be glad to find them for you.

Rich Rodriguez was brought in to take Michigan to the next level. He thought that required a complete teardown and rebuild. Perhaps it did. In a sense it reminds me of Michaelangelo and the Sistine Chapel, to tear down what was routine, to throw it out, and to spend years to create one of the true splendors of the world. Pope Julius II waited for the result and was happy, and the world still looks with awe upon what Buonarotti wrought. Maybe St. Richard, Missionary and Martyr, was on the way to that achievement; but Brandon didn't have the patience of the warrior pope. And Rodriguez didn't have Buonarotti's ability to sell the majesty of what was to come.

I'd like to know the truth about why Rich Rodriguez failed so spectacularly. I am pretty sure there are more reasons than that he wasn't wholeheartedly accepted at Michigan. Maybe he would have done well to ask Lloyd Carr and Jerry Hanlon and Gary Moeller for help; who can see any of them refusing it?

Both Bo and Lloyd Carr had rough beginnings (Bo's admittedly a short one: the Missouri debacle and the loss to MSU) and came to have long careers. Rodriguez might have done, too.

Was the fault in the stars or in himself?

James said...

mtzlblk, why do you assume this decision was made in response to external pressure? Brandon's made it clear all along that this was his decision.