Michigan Tidbits: Part I


Michigan Tidbits (Part I):

We’ve been getting a lot of e-mails asking why we hate Coach Rod so much, or why we seem to have an agenda against him.

We want to clear the air and get past this — once and for all — because it’s getting tiring having people calling us “haters”, a “Strawman”, “not real Michigan fans”, and “go root for another team” or saying that we’re “fence-sitters,” changing our opinions back and forth.

We have no agenda, just honest opinions and if you do not like it do not read it. This past season was obviously ripe for criticism, regardless of who the coach is, or whether or not we love or hate him. If Coach Carr had been in charge this past year, people would have wanted him hung up to dry, then driven out of town. We like Coach Rod sincerely wish, and believe in, his ultimate success at Michigan. Having said this, Coach Rod does not walks on water. It is not disloyal to Michigan to hold him accountable for this past season, despite what so many Michigan fans believe.

Some people just do not get that you can question some of the things that happened, some of the decisions made, yet still whole-heartedly support the program and the new regime.

Are we happy with Coach Rod and everything he has done the past year … Nope.

Are we happy with that Coach Rod is at Michigan and do we believe he can turn the program around … Yep.

To recap: last spring, we saw some problems and tried to tell people about them, but most people didn’t want to hear what our observations were telling them, preferring instead to close their ears — and minds — and label us naysayers with an agenda.

We tried to tell people that the defense was going to struggle for several reasons: We said the defense had to be like the Ohio State 2002 defense, but concluded that it was not likely to happen. The offense would put the defense in a spot too tough to overcome. Several times, we reported that, in one stretch, the offense ran 35 plays (20 minutes) and never got a first down. This in a game that was about a half or longer. We told people that the defensive side of the ball was not very strong and the depth was terrible. We also said that Michigan needed to get on defensive recruiting right away. We were bashed about these comments when we made them last spring, but as the season progressed, more and more people begans saying the same things.

We believe last season’s team (2008 season) should have won more games. We have watched many practices over the years, and this team had more talent than the 3-9 Michigan team that everybody saw, especially considering the very weak Big Ten conference.

People keep bringing up how much we hate Coach Rod and then continue to talk about how bad the Big Ten conference was this year. We agree the Big Ten was weak, but that only emphasizes how bad Michigan played this year. As bad as it is being 3-9 in a weak Big Ten, at least showing improvement will be a lot easier than it would be in, say, the SEC.

We’re not cheerleaders. We’re not doomsayers. We just call it like we see it. And like always, we’ve got some good news and some bad news.


Coach Rod’s first year has revealed several areas that we feel need improvement:

1) The need to be more proactive — instead reactive — with public relations. This led to some self-inflicted wounds and ammunition for opponents to negative recruit. Some of this stuff is not in Coach Rod’s job description per se, but as head football coach at Michigan he bears the responsiblity for the missteps. He needs people willing to pay attention to important details, so the coaches do not have to worry them. There were too many little negative distractions this past year which felt like a “death of a thousand cuts.”

2) The thoroughly unprofessional manner in which the defensive coordinator situation was handled: from the debacle of the Purdue game situation where the defensive coordinator had no control of the defense, to how he was not even invited to defensive meetings with the head coach, offensive coordinator and the safety coach.

3) The lack of emphasis on defense this year. The defense almost seemed like an afterthought at practices and scrimmages that we attended. The defense was there to get the offense ready and that was it. The only time the defense got attention was either when they were hitting the quarterback too hard or when they were not hitting the running backs hard enough. If we remember the phrases correctly “you @#$% *&%$# are hitting like %$@#$ pillows and you’er playing soft like &%$#@# pillows.” (We could print these words, but we don’t want to make any sailors reading this blog to blush.)

4) After neglecting the defense, calling out only the defense in press conferences and leaving the defensive coordinator hanging out to dry when he took the blame for being out schemed that day.

5) The lack of a vertical passing game.

6) Not utilizing a tight end in the offense this past year, especially with a player like Kevin Koger who has the potential to be special tight end at Michigan, who could have created many mismatches going against opposing safeties and linebackers.

(Check back for “THE GOOD NEWS” in “Michigan Tidbits (Part II):” Tomorrow. Come back today for TV listings and also highlights.