Thy Rod And His Staff, They Comfort Me

David VriesmanContributor IDecember 31, 2010

ANN ARBOR, MI - NOVEMBER 20:  Defensive Cordinator Greg Robinson of the Michigan Wolverines reats with Head coach Rich Rodriguez looking on while playing the Wisconsin Badgers at Michigan Stadium on November 20, 2010 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Wisconsin won the game 48-28.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Investments can be frustrating things. Words like risk, reward, affluence, convenience, chance, prosperity, fortune, bankruptcy, and luck are prevalent whenever the topic of our precious pile of property rears its head.

Do we play it safe?

Or do we spin the wheel of fortune and put our future in jeopardy? David Brandon has to deal with this question not only about his portfolio, but also with the head football coach at the University of Michigan. He sits in his dark office in the long hours of the night scheming his next move. But what he should be doing is enjoying his cable TV, plush couches, beautiful women, small giraffes and saying, “Opulence…. I has it.”

David Brandon already has the next great coach of the University, now he just has to realize Rodriguez is already in the fold. This is the gamble worth the risk and worth waiting for the proverbial payout. Intelligent investors know that, historically, new businesses and investments take two to three years to mature and become financial boons to those who stood by the product and saw it grow. Rich Rodriguez’s product at the University of Michigan is on the precipice of becoming a consistent national power who will vie for titles for years to come under the authority of the current coach.

The main argument made by the detractors of Coach Rodriguez is that he doesn’t care about defense, and that Michigan will never have a respectable one while he resides in Schembechler Hall.

This is completely ignorant.

Yes, the surface facts point blatantly that Michigan’s defense has gotten worse each year under Rich, and that this past season was the worst statistical defense Michigan has ever seen. These are easy things to point to without having to do much research, but a closer look reveals that a vast majority of the defensive flaws do not rest solely on the shoulders of a coach that has been here for three years and only two recruiting classes. Believing that a spread offense automatically equals a bad defense is not logical. Obviously with a quick strike offense the opponents will have more possessions which lead to generally higher scores on your defense, but it doesn’t mean the talent level has to be poor.

Which it wasn’t at Michigan until the secondary imploded.

It was supposed to include Donovan Warren, Troy Woolfolk, JT Floyd, Justin Turner, and a hotshot freshman named Demar Dorsey. Donovan Warren took really, incredibly, terribly bad advice and turned pro unexpectedly. He did not get drafted, and should have been a key piece in the Wolverine’s defense. Troy Woolfolk was the other starter at cornerback, and was lost for the season due to injury before it started. Justin Turner was a five star recruit that was supposed to be the top backup corner for this program in 2010, but spent more time at the buffet line than in the gym in the offseason. He is now out of division one football. JT Floyd was considered the fourth option at corner this year, but was forced into a starting role. He was injured halfway through the season. Demar Dorsey was denied by Michigan’s admissions department even though he passed all the NCAA requirements. He was a sure fire contributor and possible starter at safety.

Tiger Woods thinks the Michigan secondary had a bad year. Even George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg thought it was a perfect storm of misfortune.

Obviously every program in the nation has injuries, defections, and other similar issues. But losing five players on the two deep for your secondary is unheard of. No program in the country could absorb the types of losses Rich had to deal with in the secondary and been considered a good defense. Think about it. Whatever football program you are a fan of, take out the two starting corners, the two backups, and your newest hotshot five star and what would you have left? Freshman, perhaps? Sound familiar?

Let's continue. Rodriguez had six players from Lloyd's 2007 class worth a damn as redshirt juniors/true seniors this year. One of them plays for Arkansas by the name of Ryan Mallett, and one of them is now a fourth string cornerback for the Jets named Donovan Warren. Junior Hemingway, David Molk, Ryan Van Bergen, and Troy Woolfolk are the others. That's the extent of the contributors from Lloyd's last full class who are currently Michigan's four year players worth their scholarships. Unfortunately, Carr also recruited most of Rodriguez's junior class. Darryl Stonum, Kevin Koger, Mike Martin, and Kenny Demens are the only players of the seventeen recruited by Lloyd that have proven themselves to be even average players for a division one football team, with Mike Martin being the one player who will be drafted into the NFL. Six of the eight players that Rodriguez recruited in two short months are successes. That list includes JT Floyd, Michael Shaw, Martavious Odoms, Roy Roundtree, Patrick Omameh, and Ricky Barnum. Five of them are starters when healthy, and Barnum is a probable two year starter on the offensive line. Also, Rodriguez's recruiting classes in 2009 and 2010 have leaned heavily towards the defensive side of the football because of the voids left by the ineptitude of Lloyd Carr's final classes and Rodriguez's need to retool the offense.

With the talent that’s already on the roster, the total lack of graduating contributors on both sides of the ball, and the young defenders Rich is bringing in bode well for next year and beyond. People say there is no hope for next years defense, but the Wolverines gain back two immediate starters in JT Floyd and Troy Woolfolk for next year’s secondary. Their black hole of gaping sorrow, known as their pass defense, can become a land of mediocrity. This is technically a huge upgrade if one were to look up the words “hell on earth” and “kind of capable most of the time.” This upgrade at the corner spots, coupled with Rich’s continued labor of increasing the talent pool of the defense through recruiting offer proof of an improving defense to go with an explosive offense.

While the offense needs no defending, it’s time to stop defending the defense and go on the offensive about the offense. The offense was the ninth best offense in yards but twenty first in scoring. The Wolverines have a first year starting quarterback in Denard Robinson that destroyed almost every Michigan record, and is considered someone to watch closely for future Heisman consideration. The fact that the copious amounts of yards didn’t turn into as many points as it should have is mostly from Denard’s timing. As a first year starter he was late to throw on many routes that were wide open, and most of his interceptions were a result of not reacting in time. The rule of thumb on starting quarterbacks is the biggest jump is from year one to year two as a starter. It’s scary to think of what Denard could accomplish next year. Actually I'm getting warm fuzzies right now. This isn't scary at all. 

The return on the Rich Rodriguez investment is about to be realized. To cut bait when the returns are so close would be a travesty. 1927 was the last year a Michigan coach wasn’t given five years to prove his worth. To be able to coach his own juniors and seniors. To install his system. Why should that change now? Especially when Rich has arguably the biggest overhaul to achieve. If you do not trust what is written in this article, then trust Jim Schwartz. When asked why the Lions have been so bad over the last decade, his answer was that there were too many different philosophies, too many coaches, and too many different trains of thought to be successful. He went on to say that stability and believing in what you are doing is the key to success. Stay the course Mr. Brandon, or I’ll be forced to switch to Mr. Illitch’s pizza out of spite.