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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

MZone Mythbusters (plus I'm a f@#king psychic)

As previously noted, I'm disappointed by the reaction of some in the Maize and Blue community who have greeted Brady Hoke's hire with all the excitement of a cholera outbreak.  In spouting their pessimistic opinion regarding Michigan's Hoke-led future, some justify the initial negativity by claiming the oft-repeated assertion that Rich Rod got the same "welcome" from the moment he was hired.

But is that true? 

To find out, as least as far as the MZone is concerned, I went back into the archives to unearth what I wrote about Rich Rod in December, 2007.  On Monday, December 17th, in a post entitled "The Rodrigeuz Era Begins," I wrote the following (bolded text added to original):

What a weekend.

From the depths of despair for many Michigan fans as the Wolverine coaching searched dragged on almost four whole weeks (which is equivalent to 8.3 years in today's Internet-fueled sports world) to the heights of ecstasy as U-M landed a coach who apparently believes the quarterback is allowed to stray outside the pocket by more than 4 feet (and not just to take a sack).

So, is it a great hire?

It's too early to tell. Just as it would have been impossible 48 hours after the fact to tell if the hiring of Mike DeBord would have been the first sign of the Football Apocalypse. We won't know how good this hire is until about three years down the road.

'Bama fans nearly wept with joy after their school lured Nick Saban to Tuscaloosa. But after a 6-6 season, including a loss to Louisiana-Monroe, now they might just be weeping, period. Pete Carroll was USC's 38th choice when he was hired to coach the Trojans. Southern Cal fans wanted the AD run out of town for picking some failed NFL coach to lead them. The end was near - the end of being average as Carroll returned the team to new found glory. And after Bo Schembechler was hired way back when, the headline of the Detroit Free Press screamed, "Bo Who?" Gee, I didn't know Drew Sharpe was that old.

So while we can be excited, whether or not it was great is yet to be determined.

I will say that our offense is going to be like nothing you've ever seen in A2 before (unless you're talking about Oregon, Syracuse, Appalachian State or any of the other spread offenses that have shredded the Wolverines in recent years). The only problem is, do we have the personnel to run it next season? If Rodriguez tries to reinvent the wheel too soon, well, talk to Husker fans about that one.

I will say that I like the hire better than Miles
(who, hopefully, will stop holding press conferences now). From all I've heard, he's a great guy and a good coach. My one nagging concern is his record in big games, which is the main issue many folks had with Carr the last couple of years. West Virginia usually played a non-conference schedule that would make the K-State non-con cupcakes from the Bill Snyder era look like murder's row. Then they duked it out in the still-a-bball-league Big East. Yet they still managed to struggle in key or big games.

This season, the best team from a ranking standpoint they played was 18th ranked South Florida. They lost. They only had to beat 28 point dog Pitt - coached by Dave "Has he EVER had a winning record?" Wannstedt - at home to reach the BCS title game. They lost. Yeah, I know Pat White was hurt. But they were playing 28 point dog Pitt at home - a team coached by Dave Wannstedt! WVU's big wins this season were over Cinci and UConn (yes, in football).

And there are some nagging questions about his defenses. While known for his offenses, stout defense, a Michigan staple (except against teams coached by guys running offenses like Rodriquez), weren't his forte.

So, while I'm optimistic, I'm also realistic. Coach Rod, as he is known, has my full support (except for his nickname. He sounds like a porn star). I sincerely hope this is the genius hire the "sky is falling" crowd thinks it is (who apprently thought Michigan AD Bill Martin was going to pick a name out of a hat containing only Pop Warner youth league coaches once Les Miles didn't work out). Whatever happens, it's going to be fun as hell to watch.

Now only time will tell if that fun translates into something much, much bigger.

Okay, besides the fact that I really should trade in my blogging keyboard for a sign out front advertising my services as a psychic, I'd say that's a pretty fair, accurate and positive piece.  Compare that with what's been written about Hoke by those who hate the hire. 

Two days later, I had this to say after Rich Rod's introductory press conference in a post entitled, "First Impressions: I Like Him:"

Watched Rich Rodriguez's introduction/press conference in A2 yesterday and was very impressed with what I saw. Yes, he might need a little lesson about M history, but he's an engaging guy and his football record reflects that of an outstanding coach.

Basically, if we're going by Gut Feeling 101 - I liked him. A lot. How could you not after watching that?

Welcome to A2, Coach. Best of luck. I'll be cheering my ass off for you next season.

There you go.  Our first two posts on the Rich Rod Era.

So who were these blogs, news outlets or sports writers - outside of Drew "Annoyance Journalism" Sharp - against Rich Rod from day one?  Do they exist?  Or is this simply something that has been repeated with such frequency, sheer volume has folks mistaking it for fact?  In an admittedly cursory check, I couldn't find the anti-RR stuff in the wake of hire.  

Granted, as Rich Rod's messy divorce from WVU dragged on (and on) and more players left A2 for a variety of reasons (even transferring to Tosu!), folks admittedly got nervous very quickly, including yours truly.  Then when the 3-9 debacle hit, it grew.  But aren't such concerns reasonable when given actual reason for said concern?  

Thus, if some "sky is falling" folks want to treat Hoke the same way Rodriguez got treated when he got here, fine:  Give him your full support and get ready to cheer your ass off for him and his squad come fall.  And if actual events of his doing - on or off the field - demand a re-evaluation, that's fair.  But not until then.


Crabapple Buck said...

I remember the irrational exuberance of 3 years ago (thanks Alan Greenspan!). Things have panned out like I thought they would, so now the rebuild begins. I will say that UM made a good hire with Brady Hoke. Not just because he is from my hometown, but that he emphasized in his PC what needed to be done.

I was suspicious when we hired John Cooper because he never seemed to grasp what tOSU-UM meant. 13 years later, I knew Jim Tressel knew what it meant. Brady Hoke gets what being at Michigan means. Because of the RR debacle, it may take 4-5 years to get to full speed Michigan football, the way that God and Fielding Yost intended it to be played. But he'll get it back to where you will compete in every game and win more than your share. At least Hoke seems to be the kind of coach that will play a system that suits his talent instead of the RR-my way or else.

wingedhelmet said...

Even though I didn't like the RR hire from day one. I supported him until it was clear to me that he had abandonded his promise to "work with what talent was here". And then early in season number one the excuse making started, which included throwing his own players under the bus, the lousy fundamental football, inability to adjust at halftime, the sideline confusion each game and coach Rod lost me.
And then the "it is all LC's fault BS started" and I couldn't wait for RR to be out of Ann Arbor.
I think any CEO job is "big boy" territory. Rich never put his big boy panties on and dealt with it IMHO.

But history shows that Rich Rod had plenty of vocal support. The current revisionist version amuses me; the same guys that were all in for Rich Rod "because if you are a fan you support the coach 100%" are having a great bit of difficulty applying their mantra to Brady Hoke.

Well I can tell you I don't need a great deal of statistical analysis to conclude that the program is better today than it was prior to January 6th.


surrounded in columbus said...

i think you are looking at this backwards.

we just hired a 47-50 fat guy from Dayton to be head coach. of course there's a ton of negative reaction.

what is surprising is just how much positive reaction there is. reading your post from 3 years ago, i had to wonder if we had hired this guy then? what would have the reaction been?

the real shock here isn't that you have a lotta boo birds, or people, like me, who are simply "meh" about the whole thing. the shock is that there are so many people who are actually out front on supporting this guy- something that wouldn't have happened 3 years ago.

Yost said...


That 47-50 record but is a bit of a Rorschach Test in that I look at as a guy who went to two crap programs and turned them into winners. Had he taken over at Texas and 'Bama, then yeah, 47-50 sucks. But taking over Ball St and SDSU and turning BOTH into winners is impressive.

Furthermore, I just had the guy with the sexy stats. Rich Rod was the Jim Harbaugh 3 years ago - the coach everybody wanted. That didn't turn out so well.

And Gary Moeller had a losing record as a head coach (Ill) before he took over for Bo.

So I'm just going to wait and see what the man does on the field. Until then, he has my support. Can't be worse than 3-9.