Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A House Divided

"Braylon Edwards, Lloyd Carr's University of Michigan."

About 20 seconds after those words were uttered by Braylon on Sunday Night Football, I posted a topic on The Wolverine's premium message board, simply saying, "This place is about to explode."

And, well...yeah. The Michigan internets exploded in minutes. "OMG Braylon isn't all-in", "What a jackass thing to say", "He's just supporting his former coach", "He's right, RR sucks", etc...The Wolverine, Go Blue Wolverine, UMGoBlue, MGoBlog...as per usual nowadays, the slightest spark ignited a firestorm for Michigan fans, as everyone tried to analyze and develop theories about Braylon's comment. My opinion? It's pretty obvious he was taking a shot at Rodriguez. He didn't declare himself to be from Lloyd Carr's University of Michigan when he first arrived in the NFL, or immediately following Carr's retirement, or even after the 3-9 nightmare of 2008. But at 8-16, discontent with Rodriguez is at an all-time high. Now it doesn't necessarily mean that Braylon hates Rodriguez and wants him to be tarred and feathered and driven from Ann Arbor at once. It could just mean he's pissed off and frustrated about the current state of things - just like we all are.

The difference is, a comment like Braylon's doesn't help anybody. It isn't productive, and it's actually the last thing Rodriguez or anyone else associated with Michigan needs right now. There's enough bad press out there about RR and Michigan already. Having a prominent former player make a comment to imply discourse is just another log on the fire. There is so much ammunition for Ohio State and Michigan State and Notre Dame and everybody else to use against Michigan on the recruiting trail, this sort of thing just makes me shake my head. I have no doubt that Braylon Edwards loves Michigan with all of his heart, just as I have no doubt that the people screaming for Rodriguez to be fired immediately love Michigan with all their hearts. The problem is, these people (and Edwards, apparently) don't realize that by taking shots at our coach in the open like this, veiled or otherwise, you are damaging the entire product. It has been said multiple times already that recruits read message boards. I don't know if people assume recruits don't use computers or have internet access, or what. But they're human, just like you and me. They aren't shutoff from what the fans are saying. It's bad enough when the fanbase freaks out about a "3-star" commitment with few or no elite offers and some feel the need to attack the recruit, saying he sucks and is undeserving or whatever. That's bushleague as it is. But it might be even worse when people are screaming on the message boards for RR to be fired, and these faux insiders say that they heard from a friend of a friend whose brother lives next door to the mailman of the second cousin twice removed of someone powerful in Ann Arbor that Rodriguez is a dead man walking. Recruits read this, and they pause. 99% of the time, it's unfounded bullshit. But 99% isn't 100%. One percent is enough to plant the seeds of doubt in a recruit's mind about whether Michigan is the right place for him or not.

We're in pieces right now, both as a fanbase and as a football program. There are fans who still support RR, there are fans who hate him. Inside the program, there are people loyal to RR, people loyal to Lloyd Carr, loyal to Les Miles, and god knows what else. There is no unified front. It's a house divided, and with each passing day, each lapse in recruiting, each comment from a former player, each log in the fire...we inch closer and closer to becoming Michigan State, circa 1990s. Look at MSU right now. Regardless of what anybody thinks of Mark Dantonio and their football program, there can be no doubt that there is a united front in East Lansing. They believe they have the right man to lead their football team, and they are operating as one mind, with nary a whisper of dissent. There is stability where chaos once reigned.

The point being: There is no "Lloyd Carr's University of Michigan." There is no Rich Rodriguez's University of Michigan. There isn't even a Bo Schembechler's University of Michigan. It's just the UofM. And while it is bigger than any one man, damage to one man still damages the whole. It's time that everyone starts to recognize and acknowledge that. In a year, things will be much clearer. There's a new sheriff in town (Dave Brandon), and while he will give Rodriguez a fair shake, he will expect results as well. 2010 must be a positive year, and everyone knows that.

Now, onto my second point...

I've said this before, but I'll say it again: I have been one of Rich Rodriguez's biggest supporters. I spend an unhealthy amount of time shooting down anti-RR arguments across the internet. You'd think eventually I'd learn, but whatever. I remain very solid in the pro-Rodriguez camp, even though the meltdown in the second half of 2009 drove me a bit insane. But very quietly, perhaps even subconsciously, I am slowly starting to prepare for the possibility that 2010 will be Rodriguez's last year here before we part ways and start over again. Why? Because I just can't help but look at everything working against him and wonder: Who the hell could accomplish anything under these conditions? Now before anybody sneers and accuses me of making all sorts of excuses for Rodriguez's crappy record, shut up and read this: the foundation of RR's problems is 8-16. And with each passing day, the opportunity to lay this at Lloyd Carr's feet becomes increasingly smaller in the rear view mirror.

But since Rodriguez arrived, he has had the following to deal with:
  • Mass defections to the NFL and transfer, leaving almost nothing in terms of offensive talent, and even less in terms of spread offense talent.
  • His own stubbornness and inability to keep his hands off the defense, which has wilted epically in both seasons.
  • Justin Boren, whose words still leave a stigma even after almost two years removed.
  • The Michigan State propoganda machine about how they are taking the state over and Mark Dantonio is morally superior.
  • A local media that is absolutely gunning for his head, whether it's because he's not Les Miles or his accent is funny or because Michael Rosenberg's diapers need to be changed.
  • Accusations of NCAA violations trumped up by that same slanted media.
  • A former assistant at Michigan that he let go when he arrived who decided to play snitch and help that same slanted media get in touch with some bitter ex-players.
  • Dissent and infighting inside the athletic department of the university that employs him.
  • Having to withstand constant little nonsense like Braylon Edwards' comment.
  • High school coaches within our own borders steering players away from Michigan.
And that's just off the top of my head. And I'm going to expound on that last one.

In the picture I opened this post with, the large fellow on the far right is Johnathan Hankins, defensive tackle for Southeastern High School in Detroit. Hankins grew up cheering for Michigan along with his parents. In a perfect world, this would be a no brainer. School offers scholarship to prospect who grew up a fan of that school, prospect commits to school and signs with school on Signing Day. But in the real world, there are always complications, and the complications in this case have turned a relatively ordinary prospect (Hankins is a middling 3-star recruit on Rivals, Scout, and ESPN) into one of the most contentiously debated topics in Michigan recruiting circles this year.

The saga unfolds like this: Hankins, remember, a lifelong Michigan fan, attended Michigan's camp in June with the hope that he would earn a scholarship offer, which he would jump on and commit to. Things did not go as planned. Hankins showed up with an injured ankle, and more importantly, he was out of shape and could not stay in for all the drills Michigan's coaches were running. We all remember Gabe Watson, and Alan Branch, and even Terrance Taylor. All very, very talented defensive tackles who had weight and conditioning issues that prevented them from reaching their full potential. Under the watch of Rodriguez and Barwis, there is no place for the super-hefty, out of shape space eaters who can't go more than two or three plays without huffing and puffing and coming to the sideline. More importantly, those types of players simply couldn't last under Barwis's strength and conditioning regimen. So they couldn't offer Hankins a scholarship then. They told them they would watch his film after his senior year and see what happens then.

Well, lo and behold, Hankins got himself into shape during his senior year, to the point where Michigan's coaches were impressed enough to offer him a scholarship in early December. There was some hesitation in the Hankins camp about why Michigan waited so long to offer. These issues were put to rest when Hankins visited UM a month ago. At the same time this was going on, Ohio State began to ratchet up its recruitment of Hankins. They had offered him a "noncommittable offer" back in the summer around the time of Michigan's camp. One of those "we really like you and we'd love to have you, but we wanna see how things play out down the road, but don't lose our phone number, we'll be in touch" type of offers. Now pay attention to this part:

***Michigan was not in the position to make this kind of offer. Hankins did not grow up a fan of Ohio State. He grew up a fan of MICHIGAN. If Michigan had extended ANY kind of offer, Hankins would've tried to commit, and Rodriguez would have to pull back the reins, because he was not ready to accept a commitment from Hankins then. Think about that for a second, how do you think that would've played out in the Detroit Free Press? "Rodriguez shuns lifelong Michigan fan with fake scholarship offer"***

Simply put, Ohio State, being the out of state, non-childhood favorite, had the luxury of "offering" Hankins while not really offering him. They wouldn't have taken him back in June, either. But fast forward back to December, Ohio State is back in the fold, and it's a real, legitimate offer this time, just like Michigan's - except the Hankins camp remembers Ohio State "offering" back in the summer, so they feel obliged to be more receptive to OSU. Michigan tried like hell to accelerate Hankins' recruitment, to get him to cancel his Ohio State visit and commit to Michigan, wrapping up the storybook ending of the recruit committing to his boyhood dream school. Well, it didn't happen that way. The visit to Ohio State happened, and Hankins emerged from it saying OSU led for his services. But he still didn't commit, and as things dragged out toward Christmas time, whispers on the inside suggested that the afterglow of the OSU visit would wear off and Michigan would be at the top.

And then Archie Collins stepped in.

In the picture at the top of this post, in the middle, in between Braylon and John Hankins - that's Fred Smith. Fred Smith was a wide receiver for Detroit Southeastern whose senior year was 2007. He was a pretty big prospect, a 4-star, top 250 player on Rivals, and Michigan and Michigan State were both after him hard. Keep in mind this is pre-Rodriguez, Lloyd still in charge. This is pre-App. State, even. Anyway, Fred Smith also grew up a huge Michigan fan, along with the rest of his family. His parents spoke glowingly about Michigan and how they would love to see their son play for the Maize and Blue. His recruitment started to wind down in July of 2007, with an early August decision planned. His final two schools were Michigan and Michigan State, and all signs pointed to him joining Michigan's class. Even SpartanMag, MSU's Rivals site, predicted on August 2 that Smith would commit to Michigan.

Three days later, Smith committed to Michigan State in a press conference at his school, and his brother, just as diehard a UM fan as Fred was, left the room in tears.

What happened?

Archie Collins happened.

Archie Collins is the defensive coordinator for Southeastern High. He played safety for Michigan State University in the late 90s under head coach Nick Saban and defensive backs coach Mark Dantonio. As you might expect with that background, he has a deep, unrelenting hatred for Michigan. And, of course, being that everything is against Michigan in this universe now, Collins controls the recruitment of every Southeastern prospect. This is not a situation I have indepth details about or understanding of. I certainly understand how a football player would be close to his coach, view him as a father figure, listen closely to his advice, etc...but this goes beyond that, and I don't know how. What I do know is that sometime after the SpartanMag article on August 2, 2007 that predicted Fred Smith would commit to Michigan, during that weekend, Smith was suddenly out of contact. His family didn't know where he was, nobody did. As it turns out, he was with Archie Collins, being whisked away to East Lansing for the weekend before his commitment press conference on Sunday the 5th. During the weekend, Collins had Smith meet with Mark Dantonio and Tom Izzo, and they sold Smith on the ultimate dream of playing both football and basketball for Michigan State. They won the kid over, and he committed to MSU in a stunner.

In his two years at MSU, Fred Smith has one catch for seven yards, has never set foot on the Breslin Center floor in an MSU basketball jersey, and was part of the attack on the fraternity that resulted in suspension and an arrest for conspiracy and assault.

Since then, a nice little pattern has developed with regards to Southeastern and Michigan. William Gholston, the best defensive player in the state this year and a perfect fit for Michigan's defense under Greg Robinson - he lives with Archie Collins, and was never, ever coming to Michigan. Everytime Gholston visited Michigan (which was rare, because there were always practices being scheduled that interfered with those plans...), Archie Collins was attached to his hip. You wonder why Gholston would "settle" for Michigan State when he could go to Alabama or USC or Ohio State? He lives with a diehard Spartan who loves Dantonio and has already steered one of his players to MSU. Gholston isn't going anywhere besides East Lansing.

And then there's Hankins. Just like Fred Smith, he grew up a big Michigan fan. And after the late scholarship offer came through, it looked like he would get to live out his dream after all...or not. It's pretty amusing how things have progressed. Or at least it would be, if it wasn't so transparent and frustrating. For a while, Hankins talked about visiting Alabama. Huh. You mean the team coached by Nick Saban, who coached Archie Collins at MSU...Oh but wait, there are a ton of rumors going around about Gholston being on the verge of decommitting from MSU and going to Alabama! And suddenly...the talk of Hankins visiting there dies down. So - no committable offer from Florida, and it's too far anyway. No visit to Alabama because that could rattle Gholston's MSU commitment...oh look, there's one school left at the table, and it just happens to be Michigan's archrival, Ohio State. Pretty convenient that Michigan's coaches were scheduled to have an inhome visit with Hankins tonight (January 5th), and all of a sudden Hankins is tired of the process and has set a press conference to announce a commitment tonight, so he obviously won't be seeing UM's coaches.

What's the moral of this whole story? It's this. As Michigan fans, we try to measure up our team and program against Ohio State's. That makes sense. Historically, we are both equals, and we always try to one-up each other and we measure our success against the other. But in this case, this is one situation that Ohio State could never experience. A high school coach inside our own borders deliberately steering recruits away from Michigan. Has this ever happened in the state of Ohio, ever? Is there one single high school coach in Ohio that doesn't bow at the Temple of Tressel and dream of sending his players to play in Columbus?

Michigan's always recruited nationally, that's another difference between us and Ohio State. The state of Michigan doesn't produce enough high-level talent to sustain the type of program we aspire to be. We have to go elsewhere to stock up. But at the same time, I do subscribe to the thought that you cannot recruit poorly at home and be successful. And while UM is still doing okay, we are currently locked out of two of the more consistent talent producing high schools in the state. As long as Archie Collins is at Southeastern, we'll never land a prospect from there, because he will run interference and steer the kid elsewhere no matter what. And, regrettably, as long as Rodriguez is here, we will more than likely be shut out of Detroit Renaissance too. I've already mentioned the issues that exist between Michigan and Renaissance, and it's going to bite us badly next year. UM missed out on Chris Norman last year, who is a fine linebacker. UM missed out on Mylan Hicks this year, which hurts because he's really good, but Michigan's doing fine recruiting corners. But next year, Lawrence Thomas is the slamdunk #1 prospect in the state, and could contend for 5-star honors. And he's the beast linebacker Michigan fans have lusted for for so long, he grew up a Michigan fan (heh)...and he goes to a school that is not friendly toward Michigan and has established a pipeline to Michigan State.

Eventually, the losses are going to add up. The hits just keep on coming, and I have serious concerns about if this is an environment that Rodriguez can succeed in. I'm not excusing him, because he is responsible for much of it...but it's a shitty situation, and I just don't know if he's going to make it.


Huss said...

I would say I loved the article, but it's filled with so many possible, sobering truths that I refuse to believe until it happens.

Win 8 games and some 2nd-tier bowl and were fine and dandy. But I see these problems with schools like SEeastern and Ren. festering for the forseeable future. Thomas committing would be so, so, so huge.

Keep it up, Other B. Love your takes on these recruiting sagas.

Anonymous said...

i'm disappointed in your Blog. Not because of the content, but because of the frequency of content. i have it bookmarked on my computer and it keeps slipping down the list due to lack of fresh material.

but this article is why it is bookmarked. the insight is superb.
i just wish it weren't true.

nobody said this would be an easy transition from the bo-mo-lloyd plowhorse to the rich rod race horse. but i certainly hoped it be smoother and quicker.

the bottom line is your observation that "the foundation of RR's problems is 8-16". period.

my take is that rich will always have to jump hurdles. the archie collins hurdle can be jumped just like the others. i just wish it wasn't there.

Here is one solution Rich may consider. This archie collins sounds like he may be a fine candidate for a D1 linebacker coach, if you know what i mean.

if you can't beat 'em, have them join you. OSU is the common enemy after all.

just a thought.

Anonymous said...

Which assistant hooked up the paper with the departing players?

obes said...

shit not only did fred smith grow up a die-hard michigan fan, he had already committed to Michigan when archie took him to see dantonio and izzo. that's the part that really stings in this whole thing. well anyways, here's hoping that the det. ren. coach and RR can bury the hatchet

Anonymous said...

Good stuff, but I'd point out that OSU has had this happen to them (not recently, though); Gerry Faust is the perfect example. This kind of stuff happens - recruiting is a dark, dirty place and nobody really wants to look too closely.

Anonymous said...

Excellent, substantive analysis.

Curious: did Tony Annessee try to do some Collins-like things in Michigan's favor during the recruitment of RoJo?

Tim Waymen said...

If the recruits genuinely like the other schools over Michigan, then that's the reality we have to face. But you make the case that Collins is actively and aggressively interfering with Michigan's recruiting.

I probably know next to nothing about NCAA recruiting guidelines, but perhaps a complaint can be made to the NCAA? One problem is probably that you're just a fan and nothing more (forgive me if I'm wrong). The biggest problem is that Collins might not be breaking any rules unless he is accepting favors or money from MSU and OSU, but that is highly unlikely. The thing that does catch my attention, however, is that he is scheduling practices in order to prevent visits to Michigan; there might be a rule about that, but evidence would be really hard to come by. I wonder if just an official complaint about a school employee interfering with recruitment would do something though. Worst comes to worst, persuade Phil Fulmer with a box of donuts to call the NCAA about cheating at MSU and OSU.

Anonymous said...

To the poster above, I don't know that OSU is the common enemy between us and MSU (if that's what you're referring to, if not I apologize) as Dantonio has OSU ties and sometimes seems to root for them more than his own team. I would think MSU would like as many "allies" in it's battle against UM as possible. So it's more of a "Anywhere but UM" type of philosophy.

Just to play Devil's Advocate, as I found some of your post a little whiny: What about UM friendly schools such as Cass Tech? Wouldn't a school like MSU have a similar beef about not getting a fair shot at kids out of there. Wouldn't they surmise coaches are steering kids towards UM and away from MSU? I'm sure there are plenty of high-school coaches who are pro-UM in the state, so what's the difference? You win some, you lose some. It's part of the recruiting game. It's also why no one should get too worked up over recruits until the LOI is signed, sealed, and delivered.

Anonymous said...

I know a lot of ppl might already know the answer to this but I do not so please forgive me, but what is the problem between Detroit Ren and Rodriguez? What did he do to tick them off? Thanks in advance.

Brian said...

Some responses:

1. It was Ron English that snitched. He was bitter that a) he was never a serious candidate for the UM job, and b) RR didn't consider keeping him. He hooked up several ex-players with the Freep.

2. Tony Annesse tried to step in on Michigan's behalf during the Rojo saga, but not to the meddling extent Collins does with SE kids. Annesse didn't restrict access or drive the kid out of town without his parents knowing, he just tried to set up a meeting between Rojo and UM's coaches at Muskegon High when he saw how things were getting out of control.

3. In response to Cass Tech - while there is no doubt Wilcher is a UM guy and would prefer to see his kids go to UM over MSU, he has never steered his players to Michigan. Vernon Gholston and Joe Barksdale could've come to Michigan, but they didn't, and Wilcher didn't try to push them here. Cissoko was nearly flipped elsewhere during the coaching search. The major reason Campbell re-committed was his family, not his coach. Dior Mathis could go to MSU if he wanted without any problem, he just likes Oregon better.

4. I provided a link in this post to an older post of mine detailing the problems between the Renaissance head coach and RR.

Markus said...

Great post. I like the subject of recruiting. The inferences made from the F. Smith, Gholston and Hankins examples are compelling and disturbing.

I would like to make 4 comments:

1. As for Archie Collins' clandestine guidance tactics, they work well at times with kids that happen to have a weak family structure, or lacking a good father figure, for example. But if Archie Collins is intentionally driving kids away from Michigan, then it is only a matter of time before this tactic backfires and bites him in the ass in serious ways that could undermine his reputation in public. There are going to be a good number of kids that are more strong willed, and/or who have parents who simply won't tolerate this kind of bullshit. When I was in H.S. my parents hated the football coaches AND the guidance counselors and they didn't trust anybody guiding their sons' future. I don't believe kids and parents today are buying everything that coaches are telling them and their kids. And so it will be with other young kids at Southweastern and Rennaissance in the future. The University of Michigan is so much bigger than one dumbass guidance counselor/assistant coach. Collins is simply not going to achieve his objective every time, because the UofM community is massively more important and compelling than anything he could possible dream of saying or selling.

2. I'm in the camp that says it's unwise to underestimate Rodriguez, even when the chips are down and losses are mounting. The mountain he's climbing at Michigan is freaking Everest compared to anything he witnessed at WVU, even after the 2001 3-8 debacle. But no college coach works harder than RR does. The massive UM player attrition apocalypse of 2005-2006-2007-2008 is not being fairly considered by anyone. It's not an excuse. It's a fact, and equivalent to starting a program from scratch. I think people in the state of Michigan would be surprised to know that there are a lot of people who respect Rodriguez, mainly because of his incredible track record at WVU and believe "it's only a matter of time" before asses are kicked. Reasonable and rational people understand that he needs more time.

3. I believe the anti-RR firestorm will die down by the end of next year. Michigan returns 16 starters on O and D, and should get to a bowl game, including both quarterbacks. The defense will suck, but the offensive improvement should compensate just enough.

4. So far Michigan is spanking the crap out of both Mich. State and Ohio State (No.1 class last year) on the recruiting this year by fairly wide margins. It's possible UM could have a Top 10 class by signing day.

In closing, I can imagine a scenario where RR fields very successful Michigan football teams without perennial recruiting dominance in the state of Michigan.
I think it's hard for Bo, Mo and Lloyd acolytes to even conceive of this scenario because they still believe the world is flat and that Bo always ran a pro-set offense or something.

Actually, the world is round and Bo loved run option football.

Anonymous said...

This is just sad as I read these blogs I"m floored on the comments, statements,references, and false beliefs. >>> Bullshit!! lets remember the GAME it's FOOTBALL. These kids have fun and lets face it its a passion. As I read these comments it sounds selfish and irresponsible on the behalf of the adults POSTING!! Whats your true concern; is it for the benefit of the child or the school. Ask yourself that question as you judge each school, coach, child and his family. Not all these kids are blinded by there coaches, or misfortunate kids and definetly not VOICELESS!!! SO again lets love the game and give each kid his choice as his own and LET's PLAY SOME FOOTBALL!!!

Anonymous said...

Blah Blah Blah! say what you want but these kids are going to make there own decisions!! In one outlook they are filtered and in others they are predetermined. In references to coach Collins(Southeastern)thats a filtered decision. These kids have all picked strong academic schools (ie). OSU needs D tackles and MSU needs DE's. They both look like they made wise decisions to play early and succeed at these colleges. I wouldnt picked UM simply because RR wont be there after next year. Have you looked at ALA with all there DE and Linebacker commits. I think they made the right choice!! Thats RESEARCH!! Usually done by coaches to help make a good/FILTERED decisions! Way to GO Coach!!

jamie mac said...

Hey, OB. You are a good writer and I appreciate your efforts and your valuable place in the Michigan blogosphere community.

But, you're going to need to source some of this stuff out, especially your unsubstantiated accusation about Ron English.

Seems like you are turning rumor into truth. Who exactly was your source for that and how come you dont attribute that source when saying English was bitter and that he snitched and set the Freep up with players. Thats a bold accuation to make without a single source to back that up. Borderline libelous. And, I dont consider parroting stuff from the depths of message boards as proper sources. Or just repeating what somebody told you without backing it up with other confirmations.

I think you can do better. Until then, this is really just fanciful and paranoid.

Anonymous said...

All these conspiracy theories... ugh. First of all, every coach deals with something along these lines. Secondly, who cares? If you can't overcome one high school assistant coach meddling??? Fact of the matter is... excuses aren't going to keep anyone's job. RR can cry foul all day long, it isn't going to save his job. My advice: worry more about the product you're putting on the field and less about how all the bad guys are out to get you.

Anonymous said...

Good stuff Brian. Quick question, though. What is your feeling on Brandon & TT's relationship? The rumors are all over the map. Some say Brandon is reallt tight with RRR, while others claim that this is not the case and the heat will be turned up on RR considerably come March once he takes over for Martin. Interesting tidbit I heard from a former Michigan player yesterday: The rumor that Brandon doesn't like Harbaugh is, apparently, bs. This former player told me he knows for a fact that Brandon & Harbaugh are on friendly terms. Who knows...

For RR's sake and the sake of the program, i hope we can win 8 games next year and make a New Year's Day Bowl. It would be a clear sign that we are headed in the right direction.

mgrad said...

Great composition of facts and thoughts, as always, TOB. The manner in which you started the post resonates. I am a Michigan grad and the support of the school supercedes any individual.

I think RR is going to get it done and bring the program back to BCS prominence. I think, realistically, results will be quite obvious after one more season of rebuilding. But, even if I were to have doubts, I recognize that support of the program needs to be consistent. At this point, my biggest concern is that the university might succumb to pressure from the factions and disrupt the program if next season were 8 wins or less. That would be a bad move driven by all the wrong reasons, in my opinion.

Regarding recruiting, I have been frustrated by the fact that some of the most prominent NFL stars are Michigan men, yet they don't use their celebrity to vocally support the program and current staff.

As for the recruiting side of things, yes, it's uglier in our home state than it should be. The best way to fix that is to win. Some of the undermining forces will lose their posturing legs and argument if Michigan simply wins once again.

On another note, with Clarence Murphy apparently going elsewhere, it appears that Michigan is going to have to work extra hard to recover ground on some of the recruits that were (ironically) Hopson-led. I am not shedding any tears on Murphy, but the other part of that alleged "package" is obviously the prize. Let's hope Michigan gets a star recruiter in place who can fundamentally lead the development of the linebackers soon, and that the coaching staff doesn't find itself stretched too think to close out this class with a bang.

Anonymous said...

Break out the tinfoil hats!

Evil people are steering kids AWAY from Michigan, but NO ONE would ever steer kids to Michigan.

Your accusations are founded in conjecture and delusion. Have fun with that.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I think that your big picture take on RR is dead on. The biggest problem that I see is that RR tried to jam the spread onto a team that didn't have the personnel for the offense. He forces Mallet out and ends up starting untested QB's 2 (maybe 3) years in a row.

I can't see how the defense will be better with the loss of Graham who was more dominant than a lot of people realize and a pro caliber player in Warren. Simply stated, I think that this year will look a lot like the last 2 in terms of W/L with more points scored and less defense and RR will likely be fired.

The problem is that it is very likely that the next coach will run a different offense and the problem starts all over again.

The best solution is probably to keep the faith and realize that this is not going to be a very good year but that 2011 offers the likely turning point as the talent and maturity matches the coach's philosophy and the expectations created for a talented coach approach realization. Tough to ride such a long term turnaround but it is the product of RR and his transition.

Brian said...

"I think that your big picture take on RR is dead on. The biggest problem that I see is that RR tried to jam the spread onto a team that didn't have the personnel for the offense. He forces Mallet out and ends up starting untested QB's 2 (maybe 3) years in a row."

This is almost completely off-base. RR did not force Mallett out whatsoever. He called him twice when he took the job - Mallett never called him back. There was no point in continuing that effortless charade; Mallett's mind was made up, he was gone.

As for forcing the spread on a team ill-equipped to run it, this too has been debated extensively, and pretty thoroughly debunked. No system was going to make Steven Threet an accurate passer. No system was going to make Nick Sheridan competent at all. No system was going to make the OL block better, not after the losses they suffered there. RR had nothing to work with in terms of offensive talent in 2008. There simply wasn't anything to work with.