This has been a very tough week for me.
I had to straighten out guys who wanted to change the entire Michigan offense because of the team's overall record.
They want new QBs, RBs, receivers, cocktail waitresses, golf club-carrying wives, etc....
All I had done was make one simple suggestion: Instead of changing the players, should we change the coach's philosophy?
Next thing you know, I'm singing the lyrics to Slipknot's "Wait and Bleed."
"Everything I'd said was blasphemy / Then I'd asked myself how the hell did I get here..."
Look, I only cited one game that pretty much defined this past season's legacy: MICHIGAN VS IOWA!
In that "big game" we saw "R2D2's" famous offense fail, fail, and fail again.
Then, there was a moment of clarity. He, for one moment, decided to play regular, I-formation, smashmouth football.
This style of offense threw the Iowa defense across the field like a rag doll, and it looked like Michigan was going to win.
But then it occurred to R2D2, "This is not my offense."
He'd switched back to the spread/option, and the rest was history.
To make matters worse, instead of taking responsibility for his bad decision, he'd chosen to take it out on his freshman QB Tate Forcier.
With his confidence crushed, Forcier could no longer run the offense, and the rest of the season had pretty much went down the drain.
Listen to me when I say this: As a coach, you are playing the role of parent, whether you like it or not!
Your players will look to you in the same manner as they would look at their own parents.
So when they make a mistake that makes you mad, you must understand that you're still talking to a impressionable young child who's looking to you for advice as if you were their own parents.
All great coaches understand five principles:
1. They are mentors. They want your sons/daughters to succeed in life after their days as a player are done. You want a coach who will build your child up, not tear him/her down.
2. They try to keep things simple. Keeping things simple makes it easier for their players to learn the system faster.
3. They don't panic; an interception return for a TD, on the first play of the game, is still 7-0! Always believe that with time, patience, and faith in their players, they're going to win the game.
4. They are "lions" in practice, but they are "lambs" at the game.
Once game time approaches, what's done is done.
There's no last-second coaching. If you didn't correct your problems with your team in practice, it probably won't correct itself during the game.
So, if you're going to yell, yell during practice; but during the game, you want your players to be calm and collected.
5. Take ultimate responsibility for any loss.
The media will always give credit to the players for the win, and they'll always blame you for the loss.
SUCK IT UP!
You signed up for this job, therefore, you know the risks and rewards that go with it.
Your job is to prepare your team to win, therefore, you are ultimately responsible for the loss.
By taking this position, you are protecting your players from being discouraged by the suggestion that it was all their fault—when we know that's BS.
So, you now know what's the difference between a good coach, a bad coach, and a coach that's just plain ugly.
So how do you define second-year Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez, or, for that matter, any coach you support?
Food for thought.