The New World

It seems like it's been years since we last wrote about Rich Rod, GERG, the vaunted 3-3-5, sideline teddy bears and of course, those pesky Michigan factions.

It's amazing what six months of an off-season will do for you. Six months of trying to move on and forget...rationalize that everything really does happen for a reason.

Since Brady Hoke stepped on campus on January 11th, the Michigan football program has undergone a drastic surgical procedure to remake the program into something completely different for the second time in three years.

I will say that if you're going to compare the first six months of Brady's career at Michigan to the first six months of Rich's, the differences are striking. For so many reasons.

When we last spoke of Rich Rodriguez, it was to wish him well as he embarks on his first football season not as a coach in some capacity, for the first time in some twenty-odd years. If you think he's not at least a little bitter about that, you don't know Rich Rodriguez. I don't claim to be an expert, but having seen the man up-close and personal after both triumphs and defeats, no one takes hardship more seriously than Rich does. He will spend the 2011 season as an in-studio analyst for CBS's college football broadcasts (Hellooooo SEC). Where he ends up after that, no one knows? But he's young-ish, driven and experienced. Call me crazy, but he's Jon Gruden-esque in so many ways, minus a Super Bowl ring.
Give him and his tarnished reputation a year to cool off. His name will be mentioned for every high-profile job opening next year...guaranteed.

I have a lot of respect for Rich Rodriguez. He was never given the shot he deserved at Michigan. If given a few beers and the assurance that he was completely off the record, I bet he would agree with that. Michigan was never ready for Rich Rod. And vice-versa. We all tried, some of us harder than others. But it was not to be. He will coach again somewhere. It will be at the highest level, at a place where he can be what he was at West Virginia. And he will achieve success again.

I have a suspicion that Michigan will face Rich Rodriguez at some point. It may be after the bulk of his talent has left Ann Arbor, but it probably will happen.

I am completely dumbfounded by Brady Hoke. I don't understand how he is doing what he is doing. He is uniting factions in such a way that you probably couldn't tell that they had ever existed. He did fifty percent of the heavy lifting in that regard on the day he was hired. His hoarse voice sounding like every tough-nosed football coach that has ever existed, immediately won over the factions of Michigan fans who never got on board with Rich's "We're gonna be fun to watch, I can tell you that." in that West Virginia backwoods drawl.

Brady's sense of Michigan pride and appreciation for tradition has reignited the Michigan football family base. Former players and coaches are now visibly involved in the program again. They, as do many fans, feel that Hoke just "gets it". I've said on a few occasions that I don't even know that "it" is, but I definitely see it, and I agree with the people saying it. It's not that Rich didn't try, but maybe it was just the fact that at a place like Michigan, we shouldn't have to expect a coach to have to try, it should just come natural. I'm getting off-topic here a little bit...this might be a little too conceptual for me to explain.

Another twenty percent of Brady's rebuilding process took place when Greg Mattison signed on to be the defensive coordinator. That hire was an absolute home-run in every sense of the term. You want to rebuild a defense and immediately insert a sense of toughness, you go out and pay the most qualified possible candidate what he's worth, and get his ass on a plane to Ann Arbor. Mattison said he would only ever consider leaving the Ravens for one man. Guess who?

The final thirty percent of Hoke's faction unification process (FUP!) has occurred over the last 3 months. A successful spring camp by all accounts, minimal attrition (especially Denard, which you can thank Al Borges for as well), accompanied by an immediate assemblage of one of the nations top recruiting classes for 2012. Those indicators have signaled to the Big Ten, the country, and more importantly the Michigan fan base that the Rich Rod experiment is over. Michigan is on it's way back.

To fully grasp the pure insanity of what is transpiring in Columbus currently and over the last 6 months, look no further than Jim Tressel's driveway. A few weeks ago, after one of the most successful coaches in the country was forced to resign for breaking NCAA rules, and then lying about it...a group of 200 or so Buckeye fans marched to Jim Tressel's house to offer support and show their appreciation for their fallen hero.
This guy not only broke the rules, but lied about it on multiple occasions. Jim's tarnished legacy could go back as far as Youngstown State. But Ohio State fans don't care to hear that. They know that deep down Jim Tressel broke those rules in the name of winning football the name of beating Michigan. He did it for the good of Ohio. That's his legacy, anyway.

He never, in his mind, thought he would get caught. Who could ever topple the great empire he's presided over? Ohio State football is king in the state of all Ohio sports. Jim Tressel obviously felt invincible. And for so many years, he was.

For Buckeye fans, wins over Michigan are considered currency in Columbus. Jim Tressel was and is the richest man in town. They love him for it. To hell with everything else.

Terrelle Pryor? Well, that's a different story. He also beat Michigan, but he did it ugly. He won without class and with no style. Terrelle is not a son of Ohio. He's from Pennsylvania. And he's being treated as such.
Life in general is going to start getting much tougher for TPeezy2, as he heads out into a world that doesn't love him and worship him despite all of his faults and ineptitude.

Buckeye nation has already moved on. Terrelle Pryor will be the goat, so Jim Tressel can be the hero. Luke Fickell is simply just keeping the throne warm for the next king of Ohio.
Today...That is Ohio State football.

So the script for the 2011 season is going to be drastically different than 2010. No one knows to what extent the NCAA is going to punish Ohio State for their transgressions. This blogger thinks the punishment is going to be brutal at best. Ohio State is going to be set back a few years. The treasure-trove of high school talent that OSU has had a firm grasp on for so many years is now suddenly up for grabs.

Brady Hoke and Greg Mattison seem to have quickly realized that fact, and are cashing in immediately. As is Michigan State. As will Penn State, Notre Dame and the rest of the league.

Parity is alive and well in the Big Ten. With so much talent peppered throughout the league, you have a recipe for not only great TV viewing, but unbelievable competition.
I suspect the glory days of Michigan in the 80's and 90's and Ohio State in the 00's are going to come to an end. With Nebraska entering the conference, the addition of the B1G title game in December and the two divisions, it's going to be unbelievably difficult to sustain a dominant hold on the conference year-in and year-out. The league will remain top-heavy, as most conferences are, but the Big Ten championship is more attainable than ever right now.

For Michigan and Ohio State, I predict a "righting of the ship" so to speak. 2011 is going to be the year where the two Big Ten powerhouses pass each other on the way up, and on the way down. The proverbial reset button has been pressed on this series. And whether it's good or bad for the rivalry, I will contend that anything that makes one team remarkably more dominant than the other is bad for everyone involved. If success over your biggest rival is the goal for every season, then what goals can you make when you get to experience that success so frequently?

Parity is good for business. It is good for Michigan, it is healthy for the league, and it will eventually be good for Ohio State. And anyone who thinks continued dominance is a good thing, just wait and see what happens to Ohio State when the NCAA hammer falls in Columbus sometime this fall. Ask USC how it feels. With great success often comes arrogance and entitlement. And with those, eventually...collapse. Not everywhere, but it is a rampant illness among college football's elite programs.

This is a much more complex subject that will become more and more of a problem as coaches and players continue to bend/break the rules while schools look the other way...all for the sake of winning and self-entitlement. How much of this we are subject to is up to the NCAA and how firmly they intend to enforce the rules. They've done a pretty lackluster job so far. I would argue they have an unique opportunity to set the precedent right now with Ohio State.

I am about to begin my fifth season blogging about Michigan football. Never in my wildest dreams would I have ever imagined that my humble site would be read by anyone other than me and my family. I started this blog on the premise that I would probably do it for a little while and inevitably get bored and move on to something else. But what surprised me about doing this, is how much I really love sharing my thoughts about Michigan, college football and Its the interaction that I receive from you guys that make this whole deal worthwhile to me. Its the comments and the emails, both positive and negative, that keep me coming back to this keyboard.

Close to a thousand posts later, I have no plans on stopping anytime soon. So I just want to take this small opportunity to thank you for reading. And if you think the words on this blog are worth passing on, I hope you would do so.

Go Blue.


  1. Good post overall, Brad. But here are a couple remarks:

    Rodriguez was never given the shot he deserved at Michigan? Really? Then what exactly were the last three years?

    Wow, Brad. You will defend this man until the end.

    Michigan was still uncompetitive under Rodriguez in his third year. Not his first, not his second, his THIRD. You can't be uncompetitive after three years at Michigan. You just can't.

    I suspect that you, like Brian on mgoblog, didn't think Hoke was the right hire. You've been pretty mum on Brady Hoke so far. Now he's essentially proving you wrong, and I'm loving it. You really should give him a chance. All he has left is to prove himself on the field. He'll get a fair shake, at least three years, just like Rodriguez did. Or he'll be out.

    I hope Ohio State gets fucked. They certainly deserve it.

    Go Blue!

  2. First off great article, honestly probably the best thing you've written on your blog. as for rodriguez i supported his whole tenure and i do agree that he never received the proper support that a coach should when coming into a new job.

    that said he still never produced on the field results and he really has no one to blame but himself for that. he was never able to recruit a true running threat to help balance the offense. denard was amazing but with a good rb, you could have cut denards rushes down to 12-15 times a game and it would have opened even more space for him rushing, and it would have opened the passing game more as well.

    the defense is a whole other story, yes there weren't many great players left over from carr's tenure but his insistence on using his 3-3-5 or stack hybrid defense (wasn't always a 3-3-5) was a mistake. not because it won't work in the big ten or any of that nonsense because he just didn't have the personnel to run or coach it properly. when he hired gerg robinson he should have relented and used the 4-3 that he knew how to coach.

    also the amount of attrition during rich-rod's tenure was not out of the ordinary but he payed a heavy price for it. also on the recruiting trail he had a few key failures in regards to kids not qualifying. then there was the ever present injury bug that plagued the defense. the turnovers were also tragic during his tenure, not so much the interceptions because for all three years he had a qb who was starting for the first time and first year starters tend to make those mistakes. the fumbles though were systemic through the whole rb core, i can understand one guy being prone to fumbles or fumbles happening in situations where it was hard to be prevented but just the sheer amount that happened points to there being a lack of fundamentals and some poor coaching.

    so all in all rich rod didn't get the support he needed but his own stubbornness and mismanagement of elements of the team eventually cost him his job. i think he will be successful again and learn from his time at michigan, and i wish him all the best. i'm excited for the hoke era to begin and i hope he can return michigan to it's years of previous successes. you have a great blog and i look forward to being in your pick-em league again this fall.