Tag: Michigan Wolverines
The University of Michigan must fire Rich Rodriguez. NOW!
According to ESPN:
In its notice of allegations — which Michigan received Monday — the NCAA said Rodriguez “failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance within the football program” and tracked neither what his staff was doing nor whether his players were following NCAA rules. It also said the athletics department failed to make sure its football program was complying with NCAA regulations.
The Detroit Free Press is reporting that these are five major NCAA violations.
This isn’t just a case of an idiot assistant calling a player during a dead period. The NCAA might not have said it but I will – INSTITUTIONAL LACK OF CONTROL.
I don’t hate or love Michigan football. I admire the program largely because it’s taken good care of the occasional Western PA kid who has matriculated to Ann Arbor – Ty Law, Marlin Jackson and Steve Breaston come to mind – and because I hate Ohio State. But I also realize those guys played for Lloyd Carr, a true Michigan man.
Michigan tries to set itself up as a program of great integrity and character. A program that engenders great loyalty in its players. A program that tries to do right (though no program is perfect anymore, if ever). It’s an admirable goal whether you cheer for them or not.
I’ve been screaming for 2 years now that Rich Rodriguez, whether he would win or not, is not a Michigan Man. For all his real coaching talent, he is slime. He was slime at WVU (in contrast to Bill Stewart who seems to be a genuinely good man). He’s slime now.
Ultimately, a combination of not winning enough and NCAA violations will be his undoing. And deservedly so. He’s 8-16 in two years and the bar has been re-set so low that an 8-win season might be considered a success for the Wolverines. That is unacceptable. College football is better off when a program like Michigan is strong.
Go after Charlie Strong or Jim Harbaugh, Randy Edsall or Turner Gill. Get a man who can at least be mistaken for having a soul (unlike a guy such as Bobby Petrino) and get back to being the Victors of the West. And fraking beat Ohio State!!
One of my main interests in college football is watching the rise and fall of programs that don’t belong to the normal big dawgs’ club. Occasionally one of the top tier programs will fall on hard times but you can’t keep a Texas or an Oklahoma or a PennState or a Southern Cal down for too long. You can see the downturn today at Notre Dame and Michigan but don’t count those programs out for long. (If you’re short-sighted enough to point out that ND hasn’t been factor since the early 90′s, please keep in mind that college football has been played for over a hundred years. A decade is a blip on the radar).
The pursuit of consistent excellence at schools below the high historical threshold is a fascinatingly excruciating exercise. What combination of coaching, recruiting, facilities and plain old luck would it take to engender year-in, year-out contention. Can these schools really dare to dream of being consistent top-10 programs.
The big dawgs have institutional advantages that continually pull down their lesser cousins. Michigan steals Rich Rodriguez from West Virginia, his own alma mater. Alabama lures Nick Saban from the pro’s after a short trip thru the wilderness of coaching mediocrity. Once upon a time, Johnny Majors left Pitt after winning a National Title in order to go home to Tennessee.
Other times, it is the lure of extended history that lays waste to a school’s attempts to climb up the ladder. On signing day 2003, Pitt lost the jewels of a top-25 class when its top QB recruit de-committed to sign with Pennstate and its top RB recruit de-committed to sign with Miami instead. That neither player lived up to his reputation is not the point. The recruiting losses so gravely affected Walt Harris’ faith in his own program that his agent publicly downplayed Pitt’s absolute ability to ever rise to the top. One year later, Harris was pushed out after leading Pitt to the Fiesta Bowl.
You can almost hear the nervous chattering at Cincinnati, a school with less history than Pitt or Cal or Wisconsin. Here you have a program newly arrived on the big stage with a dynamic young coach, Brian Kelly, who could very well give Ohio recruits a second legitimate in-state destination. But like Mark Dantonio before him, most pundits feel it’s only a matter of time before Kelly jumps to a “big” program, leaving the Bearcats to hope they can strike gold with a third coaching hire. Yeah sure. Tell that to Louisville which weathered the departure of John L. Smith by hiring Bobby Petrino but have so far failed with Petrino’s replacement, Steve Kragthorpe.
Sometimes, geographical disadvantages contribute to a program’s uneven performance. Clemson and South Carolina come to mind. Both have had or presently have fine coaches. Neither have really sniffed extended 1st-tier success. The biggest and best of the Palmetto State probably aren’t numerous enough to construct a powerhouse program given that two large programs exist in the state and many of the top prep stars may long to play at Rocky Top or Between the Hedges instead of Death Valley or Williams-Bryce stadium. Is it too much of a coincidence to note that Cal’s rise and Oregon’s steady success has coincided with Washington’s fall from grace?
The upshot of all these considerations is not to excuse Pitt or Louisville or South Carolina from failing to consistently reach the big time. In the end, these programs have only themselves to blame. If a shizzle hole like Norman, OK can become a destination for the best prep stars, the Steel City or even Corvallis shouldn’t be too far behind.
Photo Credit: Sports Illustrated
Detroit, Michigan is NOT Hockeytown!! I’m so tired of this self-appointed title. Although its sports fans support the Red Wings well and the franchise is currently the gold standard for NHL teams, it isn’t Hockeytown.
That title is and likely always will belong in Montreal. Plan and simple – 23 Stanley Cup titles for the Canadiens to go along with an outrageously passionate fan base. Detroit has 11 Stanley Cup titles. I worked in Detroit for close to a year and let me tell you that the fanbase there is not nearly as rabid as anything I’ve read about Montreal’s.
Detroit is possibly the most well-rounded sports city in the North America. It has strong pro franchises in basketball, baseball and of course, hockey. It pulls weight in college sports with nearby Michigan State basketball and UMich football. So I think it’s understandable that its denizens get pulled in multiple directions at once. This blessing is simple not conducive to building the same over-the-top passion as Montreal or even Toronto.
The Red Wings (and a couple other teams) have passed the Canadiens in terms of performance but that doesn’t mean that those cities can match Montreal’s fervor or passion for this one sport. Montreal is Hockeytown.
Don’t let all the Super Tuesday primary headlines fool you. February 6th – National Signing Day is one of the most anticipated days on the collegiate calendar. The masses quiver as they read the write-ups on some 17-18yr old who faxed a Letter of Intent to their favorite team. There are no Red or Blue states for us. There is only Maize & Blue, Scarlet & Grey, Burnt Orange or whatever ridiculous color scheme Oregon chooses this year.
While recruiting rankings are not but so much detritus, they’re still fun. So let’s dive in.
The big surprise this year has to be Clemson. The Tigers made huge waves in recruiting, ranking #2 overall according to ESPN and #12 according to SI/Rivals. Despite being wooed by the likes of Georgia, Florida State and Virginia Tech, Clemson managed to keep homegrown superstar DaQuan Bowers (DE; #1 ESPN150, #12 SI/Takkle) from leaving the Palmetto State.
Alabama came on strong with a class of 32 commits are ranked #3 by ESPN and #1 by SI/Rivals. Landing Julio Jones (WR; #2 ESPN150, #1 SI/Takkle) was huge. Miami (#1 ESPN, #4 SI/Rivals), also pulled in a stellar class for Randy Shannon. Nick Saban is a proven big-time recruiter and Randy Shannon will not let south Florida fall to the Gators without a fight. Expect fortunes in Tuscaloosa and Coral Gables to rise in the next couple years.
The usual suspects also appear near the top of the rankings as well. Florida, Georgia, Texas, USC, Oklahoma and Notre Dame all locked down top-10 classes. Wait, Notre Dame? The same Notre Dame team that lost to Navy and finished 3-9? It’s a simple truth that the University of College Football in America (self-named) will always be a major player. The Genius Charlie Weis pulled in the #9 class according to ESPN and #2 according to SI/Rivals, addressing much needed team speed.
Every year some player is viewed as the next coming of Vince Young or Dan Marino or Fred Biletnikoff. He generates loads of accolades, awards drama and HYPE. This year, the soap opera comes to us from tiny Jeannette, PA where all-everything recruit Terrelle Pryor (QB/ATH; #4 ESPN150, #16 SI/Takkle) is holding hostage such coaching lumninaries as Joe Paterno, Mike Bellotti, Jim Tressel and Rich Rodriguez. This kid (yes folks, they’re still KIDS) has been tearing up southwestern PA defenses for 4 years and has generated serious discussion whether he might be the best ever high school player to come out of the southwestern PA. That’s no small feat for a region that has produced the likes of LeVar Arrington, Joe Montana, Danny Marino, Major Harris and Tony Dorsett. I remember Arrington’s days as a RB/LB for North Hills high school. Pryor deserves to be part of the conversation.
All in all though recruiting isn’t an exact science. Antonio Bryant was rated a 1-star player coming out of high school. Leon Washington was once viewed as a can’t-miss prospect for Florida State. Not only do some players never develop but some coaches may ruin potential star careers through position switches. Jim Kelly grew up dreaming of playing QB for Penn State. Joe Paterno wanted to switch him to linebacker. Kelly went to Miami to play QB and the rest is history.
Photo Credit: Pittsburgh Post-Gazzette
(Originally written for Deepslant.com)
There is a constantly raging debate in college football about haves/have nots. Central to this discussion is the plight of previous national powers fallen trying to rejoin the elite and programs with maybe one or two brief past glory periods trying to do the same.
As to the former, you have programs such as Nebraska, Notre Dame, Florida State and Miami-FL. It has been claimed that Nebraska stands little of being mentioned in the same breath as USC again because players have greater choice and why should any one now need to go to Lincoln, NE. Such a position neglects the resurgence of a program that fell on hard times in the 1990s – the Oklahoma Sooners. Why on earth would anyone want to go to Norman, OK?!
In Notre Dame’s case, academics and recruits’ ignorance of ND’s past cachet has been their undoing. However, ND’s academics have always been stringent. For FSU & Miami-FL, the ever-increasing attention placed on recruiting Florida has certainly hurt these programs’ talent bases. Recruits no longer need to sit as the 3rd string WR at UM when you can be a star (and get TV exposure) at Rutgers or South Florida. However, the rise of South Florida itself and continued excellence at the University of Florida is testament to the depth of the Sunshine State.
In the second case, you have lesser programs such as Clemson, Ole Miss and unfortunately, my alma mater, Pitt. These are programs that experienced meteoric success in short periods in the past. They have never been consistent national title contenders decade after decade like UMich, Ohio State & USC. Yet fans of these schools still look on their teams as still being one snap short, one player short of returning to the glory years. They go from coach to coach, AD to AD, in search of that elusive peak.
In order to divine whether these two types of programs indeed have a lessened or non-existence shot at resurging, we must look more closely at the Have’s in college football. Actually, we should say the Current-Have’s. OU is once again a national power while Nebraska flounders. USC is a contender while Notre Dame languishes. Virginia Tech wins while Pitt languishes. Rutgers rise from (beyond) the ashes while Syracuse bottoms out.
My contention is that coaching is the biggest factor. Programs such as Clemson, Ole Miss, Pitt, Michigan State, Nebraska, Notre Dame all have the support of their Administrations. They have great or improving facilities. They all have some sort of tradition and a past of winning and producing great pro players. But they don’t or may not have the right coaching anymore.
Look at USC post-John Robinson/pre-Pete Carroll, OU after Switzer but before Stoops, Notre Dame since Lou Holtz’s departure. Consider Nebraska after Tom Osbourne, Florida State without Bowden’s great offensive coordinators. Now look at USC with Pete Carroll, OU with Stoops, LSU since Nick Saban and now with Les Miles.
It is not a chicken or egg issue. Great coaches can turn around a badly-constructed institution. A bad coach cannot turn win at a well-built administration. Certainly a bad coach can humble a great program. If that was not the case, Paul Hackett would still be at USC, Bob Davie would be winning titles at Notre Dame and Bill Callahan would not have one foot in the grave at Nebraska.
Because they exert greater control over their players and programs, college coaches have much more of an impact than professional coaches. Nick Saban awakened LSU; Greg Schiano is doing the near-impossible at Rutgers; Frank Beamer has built a colossus at his alma mater, Virginia Tech. Soon – Butch Davis at UNC, Dennis Erickson at Arizona State. H*ll, Steve Spurrier won at Duke two decades ago. South Carolina is/will be a picnic compared to Durham. And for my sake, let us hope – Dave Wannstedt at Pitt… or maybe the next guy.