Monday, November 29, 2010

In Defense of A Coach

There has been a ton of discussion about the status of Rich Rodriguez as the Michigan head coach lately. It is a debate that has the Michigan faithful split down the middle. And with good reason. Both sides want to win. Having success usually never is the issue, it's just the, "how you do it" that is often debated.

So many keystrokes have been made and shouting matches have occurred about the topic. For example, I live in Vegas. And surprisingly have found more Michigan fans here than I would have expected. I found one such fan at the dog park were I spend my Saturday and Sunday mornings. Well just last weekend we had a pretty heated debate about whether Rich Rod should be fired or not. He in the "Can his ass, this is unacceptable" camp and me in the "Come on! Freshman, injuries, attrition, dilithium, give him one more year" camp. Thankfully we both want the same and remain friends.

Needless to say the Michigan internets have blown up on the subject. One such flare up has occurred over at Genuinely Sarcastic. As Brian explains it was a piece that was written by someone at Rivals but posted to gain visibility. And really it is a very level-headed and informed piece and I encourage you all to read it.

After reading it, despite being a Rich Rod supporter, it did make me think twice about our situation. Because it makes sense. Football is about the little things, right. Remember the Any Given Sunday speech? And I do agree with most of what the author wrote. But if you'll allow me a few points of refute.

First the attention to detail.

The author claims that because of Rich Rod's lack of attention to detail is the reason for the consistent fumblitis. He specifically calls out our TRUE SOPHOMORE QB (yes I am sticking to youth as a defense) and his affinity to lay the ball on the ground. This is one of the list of failures commonly tied to Rich Rod failures. So if that is true than it should show at WVU, right. Chart!

TO Margin
2007 9 1
2006 25 0.54
2005 7 1.17
2004 46 0.25
2003 4 1.23
2002 4 1.46
2001 98 -0.43

Those are the Turnover margins of Rich Rodriguez's teams at West Virginia. All except his first year he was in the black in turn overs. I wouldn't say it's an issue for the man. Granted the three years at Michigan have been dreadful.

TO Margin for Mich
2010 110 -0.75
2009 115 -1
2008 105 -0.83

But things at West Virginia haven't dramatically increased upon his departure either.


2010 50 0.09
2009 71 -0.15
2008 16 0.92

The author also points out penalties. And going back and looking at the numbers I will say Rich Rod's teams have been bad in that department.

2007 49 52.8
2006 114 66.7
2005 64 58.8
2004 116 84
2003 101 71.8
2002 84 64.6
2001 102 71.2

But it's not like Michigan under Rich Rod has been some sort of penalty-ridden mess


2010 39 46.4
2009 17 43.1
2008 22 41.7


There is no denying that Harbaugh has done a great job at every stop. And I agree, had the Michigan coaching search been done this year (or last) he likely would've gotten the gig. I also like that he debunked the "Harbaugh is an evil villain" meme. Nobody wants their son to be hateful. But I think to be fair we should note that Harbaugh has had four years at Stanford. He also notes the strength of schedule per Sagarin. I use that metric as well, but I think we should look at what that means in wins and losses.

Harbaugh vs winners vs non winners
2007 2-4 2-4
2008 2-5 3-2
2009 3-4 5-1
2010 3-1 7-0

So he's shown progress. And hell in his fourth year with 7 wins over non winning teams, that's impressive. To be fair lets look at Rich Rod at Michigan:

Rodrigez  vs winner vs non winner
2008 2-6 1-3
2009 0-4 4-3
2010 3-5 3-0

Looks rather similar does it not? Who knows what's going to happen in year four (if there is a four year) but all indications is that it will be good. Oh, and the likelihood of playing 7 teams with losing records against FBS teams is highly unlikely, but I still think we'll see a marked improvement.

Look, like I said at the beginning of this, I think this is a very logical and even-keeled piece. But I think if you're going to present an argument, you should be fair about the points you bring forth.


Anonymous said...

If we're going to compare RR's and JH's first 3 years, then it's important to make a contextual note: 1) the record of the same team the year prior to taking over the team (big difference); and 2) that JH took over Stanford and RR took over UM.

Productive Sweatpants said...

Fair enough, Harbaugh inherited a bad team, but he also wasn't instituting a wholesale system change.

I think it's fair to say the situations where the similar, regardless of the previous year's record.

Anonymous said...

It is fair to say the situations were similar??????? Stanford is and always will be an elite institution for academics and athletics. Michigan is college football royality and Stanford takes a back seat to Michigan in that catagory. I think the point many "disgruntled" Michigan fans are trying to get out is that Michigan's past is not represented in the current program at all. It is a complete departure. Look how Michigan has fallen in recruiting. Standford is bringing in a great class while Michigan continues to be out of the top 25. Michigan State has stepped into Michigan's role now and playing it quite well. Michigan's defense has continually regressed in three years. I do not know the stats, but I believe this years defense is the worst in Michigan history.
A wholesale system change as you call it is the cause of all of this. I think that is also part of the point to the "Attention to Detail" article. A wholesale change was not needed, but once Lloyd Carr called it quits and there were no "Jim Harbaugh's" to take over the program Bill Martin was left to make a crucial choice with no viable option to continue the "Michigan way of life". Many of us Michigan fans want to get back those days. I think we will. I will always support The University of Michigan whoever is the coach because it is always about the team, but there needs to be change again.