Friday, February 06, 2009

Download #2 Complete

Transitioning a football program from a pro-style offense to a spread offense is tough enough regardless of the situation. When that transition takes place in the face of a relentless media storm at an elite program that has historically fought change, the job becomes a nightmare. Rich Rodriguez clearly enjoys being at Michigan. I know this because despite the heaping pile of garbage that he has had to deal with from bitter old men with deadlines to dimwitted fans, he keeps showing up with a smile on his face. He has received more criticism in the last year than most coaches receive in a lifetime. It has gotten so petty that most of it has taken on a life of its own. Here’s a recap of just some of the misconceptions and why you’re a tool if you believe them…

1). Rodriguez ruined Michigan’s season because he “put all his eggs” in the Terrell Pryor-basket.

That would be true, I suppose, if it were “Opposite Day.” Rodriguez didn’t get to hit the recruiting trail until the beginning of January—only one month before signing day. Most quarterbacks had long been signed by other programs. He told anyone who would listen that he was trying to sign two quarterbacks. He strongly pursued, B.J. Daniels and Chris Harper before being forced to go with Justin Feagin. Rumors at various internet-locations suggest Rodriguez stopped recruiting Daniels when he asked for money. The Pryor-saga went on for more than two months after signing day. By that time, Michigan had already come up empty in its quest to find a QB. Going after Pryor at that point was a no-brainer. Had Rodriguez not pursued Pryor, he would’ve been criticized for that, too. It must be great to be Rodriguez.

2). Rodriguez doesn’t care about tradition because he didn’t know that Michigan gives its #1 jersey to a wide receiver.

So, yeah. He cares so little about tradition that when he found out about the #1 jersey he apologized and rectified the situation. I’ve even heard the “tradition” angle used in conjunction with Rodriguez’s preference to name captains after the season rather than before. Yeah, that’s right. Michigan hired Rich Rodriguez to implement an entirely new system but be totally unoriginal in doing so. Since when are coaches criticized for how they select captains? The fact that people can say this with a straight face is concerning.

3). Rodriguez is a money-hungry, job-hopper for leaving WVU.

This is easily the most egregious of the misconceptions because it sounds the worst. Ready to hear how much of a money-chaser Rodriguez is? He was so concerned about money that he ditched West Virginia for a measly $750,000 per year raise. That’s a lot of money to you and me but it’s not enough to put him among the top ten paid coaches in college football. He makes $4 million less than Bob Stoops per year. He makes $500,000 less than Kirk Ferentz in his own conference. The “job-hopper” part would be compelling if virtually every coach in college football hasn’t left a job while under contract. Remember the outrage when—just four months after signing a contract extension with Cincinnati through 2010—Mark Dantonio left Cincinnati to go to Michigan St.? Oh, wait...there wasn’t any.

4). Rodriguez broke an unwritten “code” among Big Ten coaches by signing an in-conference decommitment.

Mark Dantonio broke the sacred “code” twice this year. Joe Paterno did it twice to Michigan this year. In fact, six of the eleven Big Ten teams did it this year alone. One who didn’t? Rich Rodriguez. You won’t hear that from the media, though. “Coaches doing normal things” doesn’t sell newspapers unless its Rodriguez doing them.

5). Rodriguez is a weasel for trying to duck the buy-out clause in his WVU contract.

Yep, it’s big, bad Rich Rodriguez’s fault because the Michigan Athletic Department—you know, the party responsible for paying the majority of RR’s buyout—wanted to negotiate to save itself some money. You might remember the exact same scenario sans the criticism when Michigan hired John Beilein from the same institution just a year earlier. The only difference was that without the bogus “outrage”, the Michigan Athletic Department was able to reduce the buyout in Beilein’s contract. Ripping the 'M' AD for trying to reduce a buyout doesn't sell. That's why it got pinned on Rodriguez.

6). Rodriguez ruined his first season at Michigan because he drove off Ryan Mallett.

I hear new ones all the time. This is one I heard recently. Yep, it was Rodriguez who drove Mallett off and not the other way around. Naturally, Mallett—a slow, 6’9, pro-style quarterback—was just dying to run the spread offense until mean, old Rich Rodriguez told him to get lost. Plus, Mallett was so good the year before—extreme sarcasm intended—that he certainly would’ve led Michigan to a bowl game despite being a Steve Threet-clone. You either have a dual-threat QB or you don't. Michigan didn't and won three games. Rodriguez didn't have one in his first year at WVU and also won three games. It's not rocket science.

Here’s an idea that someone can make money off of. Instead of picking and choosing what to blame RR for, let’s just blame him for everything. South Park made the phrase “Blame Canada” famous. Someone needs to make a shirt that reads, “Blame Rodriguez.” A guy who’s responsible for pretty much all of the ills in the universe at least deserves a shirt, wouldn’t you say?

Implementing the spread at a stubborn college football institution is hard enough. Doing it while undergoing one of the most misguided character assassinations in sports history ramps up the degree of difficulty just above a Bear Grylls journey to Patagonia and just below ripping a Krispy Kreme doughnut from Charlie Weiss’ hands. Rodriguez is smart enough to know the worst is likely over. That’s why you saw him grinning with glee on network after network discussing his latest recruiting class on signing day. The critics get uncharacteristically quiet when they are forced to look at the facts.

RR’s second recruiting class—and first full class—represents a symbolic move forward. The local media—the most unaccommodating media perhaps in America—couldn’t negatively spin RR’s second consecutive top-ten recruiting class even if it tried—and believe me it tried. The addition of Tate Forcier and Denard Robinson—two of the top dual threat QBs in the country—gives all of the bashers a very short window to get in last minute jabs. As long as Steven Threet and Nick Sheridan were RR’s only QBs, people were lining up to lob criticism. The Sparty-heavy local media—you know the one that ran the erroneous headline claiming that Michigan St. might have a better recruiting class than ‘M’ for the first time in 20 years—knows that those days are going to be over sooner than later. Mark Dantonio—whether he admits it or not—knows that beatdowns are coming his way. This isn’t the first time I’ve said this but the equation for success in college football is simply “elite talent plus elite coaching.” It is incredibly rare—in fact, I can’t think of a single instance of this unless you want to call Charlie Weiss an elite coach—for a football program to have an elite coach and elite football players and not be a powerhouse. Before Rodriguez turned heel and hated babies, he was universally considered among the top coaches in college football. It’s tough to argue that Michigan isn’t working its way to having one of the most talented groups of players in college football considering consecutive top ten recruiting classes and another one on the way next season. Barring an unforeseen tragedy, Michigan’s future under RR is inevitable. It is amazing to me that there are people out there who don’t realize this.

Before I dig into Michigan’s class, let’s get the ridiculous Michigan St.-comparison out of the way. If you think Michigan St. beat Michigan in recruiting this year, then your name is either Tom Lemming, Mark Dantonio, or you’re in your 8th year of undergrad at MSU. Although the discrepancy between the two classes was bigger in Scout’s rankings, I prefer Rivals so I will use Rivals to make the comparison. Another of the seemingly million examples of the media’s distortion of RR, is the claim that Michigan St. dominated Michigan on the in-state recruiting scene. That argument only works if everyone pretends that Rodriguez actually focused on the players Michigan St. signed. William Campbell was, by far, the #1 player in the state. In fact, the difference between Campbell and the #2 in-state prospect could be the greatest discrepancy between #1 and #2 in Michigan recruiting history. Rodriguez wanted Campbell and he got Campbell. After that, he largely ignored the state’s underwhelming 2009-talent. The 2010 in-state crop is considerably more talented and RR has responded with a bevy of offers. People usually look at what they own before they brag about owning it. Of the top 250 players in the country according to Rivals, Michigan scored 13. The #1 Rivals recruiting class in the country—Alabama—also came away with 13. Michigan St. came away with four. Woo hoo! MSU owns a brand new P.T. Cruiser. Brag away! Michigan came away with a Benz and boy are they jealous of State's pimpin' wheels. Why do I get the feeling that the spinsters are seriously considering the “opposite day” angle?

RR’s first full class at Michigan could be the best class the program has had since at least 2002 which is as far back as the Rivals database goes. Nobody is going to confuse this class with the 1998 haul that was possibly the greatest ‘M’ class of all-time. It’s pretty damn good, though--good enough to be ranked the 7th best class in the country by Rivals. Considering it was put together in the face of a 3-9 season and negative recruiting thaLinkt would make Coach Pete Bell proud, I think it’s safe to say that Rodriguez is entering the elite realm of recruiters. Over the last two years, Rodriguez has signed 31 four-star (including one five-star) recruits. That’s impressive for any school. Among the positions that were strengthened significantly by this recruiting class are offensive line, defensive line, and quarterback. Michigan signed three four-star linemen. With six true freshmen linemen redshirting last season, Michigan will have nine freshmen linemen entering 2009. The defensive line was probably the most impressive position group with the addition of Campbell, Craig Roh, and Anthony LaLota. Roh is a fierce pass-rusher who garnered considerable praise at the Under Armour AA game. Then, to the chagrin of Jim Tressell, Michigan landed Justin Turner who was the #1 player in the state of Ohio. Of the 22 signees, 10 played in either the Under Armour or U.S. Army High School All-American Game.

Michigan Stadium is undergoing a major facelift with an ETA of Fall 2010. If you drive back and forth across the intersection of Stadium and Main a few times, it is unlikely that you will find people ridiculing the scaffolding and construction equipment as eye soars and the workers for not being finished yet. That would look incredibly silly and would quite likely result in being admitted to the psychiatric ward of the University of Michigan Hospital. The Michigan football program is under construction. The only difference is that the ETA is unknown. So, laugh and ridicule at your own peril. Oh, and by the way, I thought about adding in advance “Rodriguez has no class because he runs up the score” to the misconception list above but that won't be a misconception. RR’s rebuttal is going to be fun.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Another fine post. The point I try to expand upon when faced with RR bashers is the "under construction" analogy. I can't for the life of me see how anyone could have coached a team without a D-1 level QB, LB or S on the entire roster* to more than three wins in the Big Ten.

When the basher gets ornery with me I reveal my secret font of knowledge: though raised in A2 and therefore a lifelong UM fan, I'm a Northwestern grad and fan as well, and this was the first year I've felt that NU fielded an all around superior team.**

The 08 cupboard was bare, and that should have been obvious to anyone who bothered to check a depth chart in 07. RR bashers don't know football.


*OK, Threet, Ezeh and Mouton could develop into real D-1 talent, but they were far from it this past year.

**Don't get me wrong, there's more NFL talent on UM, but NU's 2008 squad were damn good, and without a fatal weakness at any one position.



-the guy who wrote in about salary caps and whatnot w/r/t the lions being the worst franchise ever

Brian said...

Malett was leaving Michigan even if Lloyd came back. Just an FYI to further back up your point about RR not driving him off the team.

redhog1 said...

Great post. It is truly amazing to me the culture of negativity built around Michigan football. I've been attending games since the early 1980s and I graduated there in '92. I can remember the crowds booing Bo when he would run on third down. Man we became a spoiled bunch. I bleed Blue through and through, but all the in-fighting and self-destruction sure is disheartening. I loved Rich Rod a few games before he took down Georgia and I loved him when he said "no" to 'Bama and I loved him through the ugliest year in history at Ann Arbor. Many Michigan fans, and the too high-on-life trolls in the comments of freep.com from THE and MSU, simply don't understand the construction process and the obvious significant milestones that Rich Rod is completing. Michigan football will be incredible, and probably sooner than most realize. NOTE: I use "THE" for The Ohio State University. This helps me differentiate from a team from Oklahoma that doesn't lose all its prominent games in January.

Kyle said...

First I hope you don't honestly believe that the Detroit media is slanted towards MSU when it comes to football. It may be when it comes to hoops but that is only because of how bad Michigan has been. The media here has a huge Michigan slant that was even more evident this year as they threw Michigan losses on the front page and buried MSU wins back on page 5 of the sports. I would challenge you to actually read the article you referenced and then look at the actual rivals rankings, it is pretty easy to see how someone could spin the numbers into that article. The overall star ranking is very close and that is a journalists job to make people read the story. That being said Michigan clearly won based strictly on Rivals star rankings, but that is where it ends.

You cannot truly compare these classes because they recruited completely different players. State got a very good OL class, two top notch RB and an elite 11 QB. All of those players fit the MSU system and do not fit the Michigan system. Where as a number of the Michigan players do not fit the type of system Dantonio is trying to run and are more suited to the spread offense.

I think it is very clear that you put a lot of stock in rivals rankings and I would guess it would be safe to assume that you think they translate into wins. Yet why is it then that Rich Rod had such a terrible defense last year.

In an effort to compare apples to apples I am only referencing Rivals rankings for my counter points. Based on the previous rankings last years, Defense (not including any 5th year seniors like Morgan Trent) should have had 6 - 4 star DB's, 7 - 4 star LB's and 6 - 4 start D-lineman. How do you not win with that talent. The cupboard was not bare it was just horrible coached. Do I blame the actual Def play calling on Rich Rod NO, but he is responsible for hiring the guy that does the play calling. How can a team that consists of the following ranked recruiting classes loss 2004 - 5th, 2005 - 6th, 2006 - 13th and 2007 - 12th, 2008 - 10th only win 3 games. That is an elite collection of talent and wouldn't you expect a great coach find a way to adapt his system so he could at least remain bowl eligible. The offense and his new system were not the major problem it was the talent laden defense that was atrocious.

The key to this argument is the fact that the rankings mean very little. What truly matters is the coaching and whether or not he can make his system work in the Big Ten. He has never had this kind of talent or more importantly this kind of competition. Can Rich rod make the jump to the next level? Can he make his defense competitive or at least competent?

In comparison Dantonio won at State with the following classes 2004 - 16th, 2005 - 35th, 2006 - 33, 2007 - 42 and 2008 - 47th. It is clear there was a ton more talent at Michigan, yet State won the game . I think last season shows that State has a very good coach on there hands and now that he is getting some higher level recruits we can actually compete year in and year out with Michigan and OSU. I guess I would advise you to hold off on the whole "he -knows the beatdowns are coming his way" line. Until he shows something different on the field his biggest memory will be chocking away a shot at the National Championship game by losing to a 5-7 Pitt team that coincidentally lost to MSU.

Jake said...

Kyle,

The local media has absolutely clobbered ‘M’ since Rodriguez came on board. Like I mentioned in my post, virtually none of it has been accurate. Even Michael Rosenberg—a Michigan alum—has been transparent in trying to rile up readers by perpetuating half-truths about Rodriguez and Michigan. If you don’t think that is huge for Michigan State, then you’re mistaken. Michigan is on the front page because it sells papers. It has been and always will be bigger than Michigan St. in terms of interest in this area. Good or bad, it will be on the front page. However, maybe you’ve missed what the actual front page articles have been about. For nine months—before the season even started—it was negative article after negative article. Meanwhile, the Michigan State articles have been uber-positive. No negative comments about Dantonio signing in-conference decommits or Dantonio leaving his old school just four months after signing an extension. No comments about MSU getting killed in recruiting. Don’t confuse being put on the front page with “positive slant”. They are clearly not part and parcel. Michigan getting trashed on the front page and MSU getting praised on the 5th page is something that the MSU AD would pay for if it could.

As for the article that I referenced—the one that you suggested that I read—I’m confused why you’re talking about Rivals. Michigan’s superiority over Michigan St. in recruiting this year was near-unanimous. Rivals, Scout, and ESPN all had Michigan winning by a large margin. Prep Football Report (aka Tom Lemming) is the only recruiting service that went the other way. Who did the Detroit News use as its source in the recruiting story I linked about MSU beating Michigan in recruiting? Yep, Tom Lemming. Scour the internets to find out how credible Lemming is. Hint: not very. Nobody anywhere has tried to use any other service to suggest MSU had the better class because it would be silly.

You say, I think it is very clear that you put a lot of stock in rivals rankings and I would guess it would be safe to assume that you think they translate into wins.” I put stock into all rankings. Scout had Michigan ranked 13th and Michigan St. ranked 37th! ESPN had Michigan ranked 10th and Michigan St. out of the top 25! If the rankings were close and a legitimate argument could be made one way or another, then I wouldn’t even be talking about this. The News used the only source it could find—the only one that even exists—to say that MSU was better.

Kyle, I love how you make the argument that it’s not fair to compare Michigan and Michigan State’s recruiting classes because each school is looking for different types of players to fit their system. Then, you go on to bash Rodriguez—“horrible coached”—because he didn’t win with highly ranked players from previous classes that clearly did not fit his system. How would Michigan St. have done this year with Steve Threet and Nick Sheridan at QB?

Your parting shot about Rodriguez getting upset by Pitt—I’m sure your remember his starting QB was injured in that game—is lame. You do realize that when Rodriguez was in the Big East, West Virginia was the conference’s version of Michigan and Cincinnati was its version of MSU. You also realize that Rodriguez coached WVU and Dantonio coached Cincinnati, right? They met twice. Rodriguez beat Dantonio by a combined score of 80-24. I’ll be the first to tell you that their previous two games against each other might not mean a thing. But I’ll also be the first to tell you that what I just cited is about a million times more credible than citing RR’s loss to Pittsburgh when his Heisman Trophy candidate was out with a dislocated thumb. It was one game!

Recruiting rankings do not mean very little. People at schools like MSU—schools that likely won’t ever enter the elite realm of recruiting—think that because it’s too demoralizing not to. If Michigan smokes Michigan State in recruiting when Michigan is 3-9 and State plays on New Year’s Day, what does that say about the future? There isn’t a sane coach in the world who would choose Michigan State’s recruiting class over Michigan’s. When we’re talking about teams that are ranked #7 and #8 in recruiting, the difference is so negligible that the rankings don’t mean anything. When we’re talking about a school that is rated more than 15 spots ahead of another school in the three major recruiting services, then it means a lot. Highly rated recruits fizzle out in college every year. Lowly rated recruits turn into college superstars every year. However, if you look at the whole of college football and recruiting, teams with fairly significant advantages in recruiting win the majority of the time.

I’m not sure what you’re talking about with respect to “can he make the jump to the next level”. How do you beat Georgia and Oklahoma in bowl games with vastly inferior talent and not already be at the next level? How do you get within one game and one healthy QB of playing for the National Championship with an average recruiting class in the 30s and not be at the next level? Being an elite program is about having an elite coach and elite players. Rodriguez invented the spread and has been an elite coach with it for more than a decade. His recruiting at Michigan has been phenomenal and it will only get better with wins. It’s only a matter of time.

Kyle said...

Jake,
First of all when it comes to the press you are correct Michigan sells papers mainly due to the abundance of Michigan fans (too many of which where pleather jackets). That means positive and negative stories about Michigan will sell. It sounds like some sour grapes when you complain about 9 months of negative attention when you've received mostly positive stories for the last 20+ years. Has it been unfair coverage yes, but it has always been unfair coverage except this time it has a negative slant. The easiest way to stop that slant would have been to at least win 6 games.

You again reference Steven Threet and Sheridan as if they are the reason Michigan didn't at least finish .500. You know that is not entirely true, they are definitely the reason why Michigan was not a very good team overall, but the defense that is filled with 4-star rivals players was the reason the team didn't go at least .500. Maybe try stopping Nick Moore from catching 20 passes, or possibly holding a Purdue team to less then 40 points. There is no excuse for a defense with that kind of talent to be that bad. I can say without a doubt as a State fan I would kill for that kind of talent on my defense.

Lets also not try and compare one game bowl wins like Georgia and Oklahoma to the grind that it takes to win the Big Ten. You and I both know that bowl games are not an accurate indicator of coaching ability because teams come into those games with completely different motivations and some time little to no motivation at all.

In regards to the recruiting comparisons I only used rivals because that is what you chose and the rankings are very close. I also never said that it wasn't "fair" to compare classes, I could not care less about whether something is fair I just don't feel that it is accurate to compare classes due to how different the systems are. Just the fact that each team recruited different style players means that for once there were few battles where you could have a winner between UM and MSU on a particular player. The Detroit News article was intended to create discussions like this one and for the first time in many years without taking to big of a leap in logic you could actually have a legitimate discussion comparing the classes. I am amazed that you seem so offended by the fact that someone would even bring up the topic. Lets not forget that rankings are based upon opinion and that when you factor in how a player will fit into a specific system that leaves more room for discussion.

Lets take a few players within these classes as perfect examples. Edwin Baker #6 RB, Andrew Maxwell #9 pro-style QB, Dave Barrent #9 OT (plus two top 10 centers) and Dion Sims #5 TE are all perfect fits for MSU and if you believe in Dantonio's style of play (which has proven success in the Big Ten) should give any State fan a lot of hope.

Now look at Michigan, Tate Forcier #5 dual-qb and Fitzgerald Toussaint #8 APB both are perfect fits for Michigan and likely will be better players at Michigan then they would be at MSU.

These players are perfect examples of how an argument can be made that one class is better then the other only in relation to how they fit on there specific teams.

I also have to question you on your Will Campbell point that the discrepancy between him and the next best in state recruit Edwin Baker is the largest in Michigan recruiting history, that is absolutely laughable. Based on Rivals top 100 rankings alone the difference between Ronald Johnson ans Dionte Allen in 2007 is actually larger and that does not even factor in the precieved difference between a top 10 player and a 40th ranked guy. Even if I give you that year as an even comparison lets just look at 2006 when Brandon Graham was a top 15 overall player and the next closest player was Eric Gordon who was outside of the top 100. That is a considerably larger gap in rankings let alone ability.

In closing regarding the WV/Pitt game even with Pat Whites injury Rich Rod should not have lost that game. Your chance at a NC is on the line and you still have the two best players on the field in Slaton and Devine. You must win that game and there is no excuse for losing. Winning in the Big East is not on the same level as winning in the Big Ten. To top it off he was brought to Michigan to win NC not just Big Ten titles. You and I both know that getting through the Big Ten and actually winning NC is a completely different level then competing for a chance at one in the Big East.

Jake said...

Kyle, I have to disagree with pretty much everything you’re saying but I’m going to try to make this as short as possible.

1). 20 years of positive coverage (I would say it’s much, much more than that) has nothing to do with anything. The beatdown that the media put on Rodriguez this year was ridiculous and no amount of positive press in the past makes it OK. Michigan has been better than State and has had more fans since before you and I have been alive. Being better gets you positive coverage. That wasn’t some kind of “gift” that the media gave Michigan. Michigan earned it. The negative coverage this year was not earned. It was a disgrace. Yes, the press needs to write “negative” articles about Michigan playing poorly but the crap they put out in RR’s first nine months was certainly not earned.

2). Kyle, man. Nick Sheridan is/was the worst starting QB I’ve ever seen in college. There may have been worse, but I have not seen one. Threet was so bad that Sheridan actually beat him out! They are absolutely the reason Michigan didn’t finish .500. Any attempt to suggest otherwise is ridiculous. You do realize that with a solid QB—not even great, just a decent spread QB—that Michigan would’ve likely beaten Utah, Toledo, Purdue, and Northwestern, right? Michigan was not a good team in 2008. In fact, “M” wasn’t even an average team. It made too many mistakes and had too much inexperience. Having said that, this team was competitive in virtually every game it played. It’s pretty easy to just look at wins and losses but you and I know that going 3-9 and getting smoked by everyone is different than going 3-9 and nearly winning four additional games. If you have a QB that can’t do any of the elements that the spread requires, then the spread is dead. Michigan had many weaknesses but it went 3-9 because of the QBs.

3). The Detroit News article was intended to make State look good by a State writer. I’ve already gone over the substantial difference in rankings at the major services. The fact that the Detroit News cited the only person on the planet who claimed in print that State’s class was better is a joke. This has nothing to do with how the players end up performing in college or how accurate recruiting rankings are. Recruiting rankings are just opinions but so are mock drafts. ESPN doesn’t bring on a Michigan State lackey to tell everyone that Brian Hoyer is going #1 in the draft. That’s an opinion, too. Just because it’s an opinion doesn’t mean that it’s worth printing in a paper. Lemming is a Notre Dame ham. He is a “neutral recruiting guru” who encourages kids to go to Notre Dame. He has no credibility. The article was a piece of garbage. Like I said before, if the classes were close in most services, then that’s fine. They aren’t close and I don’t think it’s reasonable to say they are.

4). Kyle, in 2007, Scout had Ronald Johnson rated #24 and Joseph Barksdale rated #38. This year, Scout had Campbell #48 and Chris Norman rated #114. You might want to get rid of that example. As for the Brandon Graham-year, yes, that difference was substantial and it was bigger than this year. That’s why I used “could be” instead of the “is” that you wrongly attributed to me. So, I’ll change “could be the biggest” to “is one of the biggest” so you don’t have to laugh anymore.

5). You are giving the recruiting prowess of West Virginia way too much credit. When you’re dealing with recruiting classes that are ranked in the 30s and 40s, you don’t have “backup Heisman Trophy candidates”. When Pat White dislocates his thumb, your backup is a QB that nobody wanted. Heck, White was a QB that nobody wanted. He wasn’t even a QB. He was a WR coming out of high school. Slaton and Devine were running backs. A spread offense without a competent QB is worthless. Where have I heard that before? That was one game during a three-year stretch in which Rodriguez went 33-5 with three bowl wins over Georgia, Oklahoma, and Georgia Tech. Bringing up one game with a backup QB against an arch-rival is absurd. Yeah, he lost that game. Let’s talk about Dantonio at Cincinnati and the fact that Brian Kelly came in and started winning at record-levels immediately. But, I suppose Dantonio set it up for him. How could Dantonio possibly take State to the next level when he lost to Army (!!!) in 2004? I don’t actually think that matters but that’s how ridiculous it is to use Rodriguez’s lost to Pitt as a reason he won’t succeed.

I understand the situation you’re in as a State fan: It hasn’t happened yet so maybe it’ll never happen. We’ll just have to see.

Kyle said...

Jake,
I'll respond point by point because I think you gloss over a number of important facts.

1) As you have stated Michigan sells papers and when things are going bad, you will not sell many papers by trying to convince people everything is all right. Was it deserved no, but should the same level of coverage as in previous years been expected yes. Personally I think a lot of the journalists in Detroit are hacks, but what else were they supposed to write about.

2) You keep ignoring the defense point that I bring up. That defense had talent on it and some how sucked. If that defense had played up to its preseason expectations then even Nick Sheridan or Steven Threet could have lead that team to 6 wins. Yes those guys are bums, but the def routinely put them in positions where failure was almost inevitable. At least address the defense and its effect on the offense. Even with Forcier (who mind you will be a freshman qb) if that defense does not improve it will likely be a struggle to win more then 7-8 games next year. In the Big Ten you have to play some defense to win.

3) How can Lemming be both a State guy and a Notre Dame guy. You may call him anti Michigan but just because he tries to downgrade Michigan does not automatically me he is propping up State. You are also talking out of both sides of your mouth here. Why is it you can talk about someones opinions (i.e class rankings from Rivals and Scout) yet a guy can't give his opinion on it. If you are willing to say that recruiting rankings should not be printed in the paper because in your own words they are opinion then I guess I would concede that the article commenting on said rankings should also not be printed.

4) The Johnson to Allen or Barksdale comparison was based upon the Rivals rankings. I usually try to keep a consistent source when I am referencing opinion so that everyone can stay on the same page. I would also consider the Graham to Gordon comparison night and day different from the Campbell to Baker comparison. Graham to Gordon showed a complete lack of depth within the State that year. This year that is not the case at least not based on most recruiting experts. Baker, Maxwell and Sims are all very highly rated players at there positions nationally. Baker was a Army All-American and Maxwell was an elite 11 QB so the state of Michigan's 2009 Class may not be extremely deep but there is definitely some perceived talent at the top.

5) I am in no way over estimating WV recruiting prowess, but when you have the two best players on the field you should still win that game. I think our main point of disagreement here is that I do not value the Big East that highly and I feel the Big Ten (with the exception of this past year) is a step up. If you do not believe that then just say so and that ends that discussion. Do I think Rich Rod can do it offensively yes I do, but the defense is the question.

If you want to continue this please feel free to get my email from Gav.

Jake said...

Kyle,

I did not say Lemming was a State guy and a Notre Dame guy. Lemming is a Notre Dame guy. The guy who wrote the article is a State guy.

The defense was atrocious. Yes, Michigan lost games in large part because of the defense. However, there isn't one single position on the defense that cost 'M' four games. The whole unit sucked. The same cannot be said for the offense. This team was one position away from winning seven games. That position was QB. I don't know what the deal was with the D. WVU had decent defenses. RR handed it over to Shafer. Maybe the players are overrated. Maybe Shafer was horrible. The point is that one position--QB--was the difference between three wins and seven despite how horrible the D was. Threet and Sheridan wouldn't have won anywhere in the country. They couldn't even hit open receivers. That's the minimum standard for being a college QB. Rodriguez had a horrible first year but if you don't adjust for how bad the QB play was, then you're going to be in for a shocker when he finallY gets a QB.

The press is supposed to give an accurate depiction of reality. Opinions should represent that reality as close as possible. There is nothing wrong with citing opinions but taking the one opinion that differs from everyone else and saying, "OMG, State beats Michigan in recruiting!" is ridiculous. If you don't see it that way, then there's nothing else I can say.

As far as the difference between #1 and #2 in state, you went off topic by attacking a point that I made that was a legit point. The difference is substantial. Just look at the offers that went out to William Campbell and the offers that went out to Chris Norman etc. The gap is big. Could it be the biggest? Who knows. We'll find out I guess. You took "could be" and turned it into me saying "it was." There was one elite player in the state this year and Michigan got him. That's the point. There's nothing else to talk about there.

Per your last point, the Big Ten sucks. Winning in the Big Ten is overrated. Is it better than the Big East? Yes. Have any Big Ten teams beaten two teams the caliber of Georgia and Oklahoma in Bowl games over the last few years? Not even close. The same crap was thrown at Urban Meyer and Paul Johnson.

Like I said, I'm good with letting this play out. Barring a scandal or tragedy or something unexpected like that, Michigan is going to play its best football since the 70s in the next few years and that's not good for the rest of the teams in the Big Ten.

Detroit Sports Guru said...

Jake,
Great post, No better yet excellent post! You literally hit it out of the park, for every single topic! I always try to preach this to my friends that cant stand Rich Rod. It is nice to see that someone out there realize that Michigan will be back soon! And realize that Rich is a great coach. GO BLUE!!!

Jake said...

Thanks DSG! I can deal with fans of opposing teams not understanding but we need all 'M' fans on board. The transition has been hard enough. The last thing RR needs is for half the fanbase calling for his head after every loss.

redhog1 said...

I enjoyed the Kyle and Jake discussion. One thing to add about Mich's defense....it was, no doubt, tested way too much because Mich's O, led by the two underqualified QBs, led the nation in 3 and outs. Also, the fumbling turnovers on special teams and O was terrible. Mich's D usually was strong until the second half -- that's when the minutes on the field took its toll on the players. That same defense would have been above average in the big ten had the offense been average.

 

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