Michigan's Performance in Gator Bowl Leaves More Questions Than Answers

Big House BobSenior Analyst IIJanuary 2, 2011

JACKSONVILLE, FL - JANUARY 01:  Head Coach Rich Rodriguez of the University of Michigan Wolverines during the Gator Bowl at EverBank Field on January 1, 2011 in Jacksonville, Florida  (Photo by Rick Dole/Getty Images)
Rick Dole/Getty Images

So Michigan and Rich Rodriguez had a bad day on Saturday.  I happened to be at the game and didn't have a very good day either.  I got a call before the game that my sump pump and backup pump had both failed and that my basement was full of water.  Yes, it's a finished basement.  Then Michigan goes out and gets embarrassed by an average or below-average SEC team.  I drove back all night and now back home.  Fun Times.

Not much to recap in that beat down on Saturday.  Michigan started fast on offense in the first quarter and then didn't score again.  Michigan got a punt blocked and RR tried a field goal for some reason.  The defense couldn't have stopped MSU if they played with 12 players all day.  It was a complete disaster, in every aspect of the game.  Hey, at least Devin didn't blow his medical redshirt!

Denard and RR both spoke after the game.  Denard is a humble young man that was clearly upset on how he and his team played in his home state.  Rich looked like a dead man walking.  The press who usually doesn't hold back in press conferences, had a hard time even asking him questions.  He looked like a defeated man with out answers. 

So now what?  I have been a long time supporter of Rich on this blog.  My takes have been that he is a good coach who has had some bad luck and two poor hiring decisions at defensive coordinator.  I still think he is a good coach, but now I'm resigned to the fact that he is not going to be successful at Michigan.  

This week I got to spend some time with parents of the kids on the team, and most talk very highly of the Michigan coaching staff.  They say they truly are a family and that Rich and staff are the perfect mix of knowing when to break a kid down and then build him back up.  I think Rich could be very successful at Pitt, Clemson or Maryland or some other place that doesn't have the expectations that Michigan does.

The reason I have left the RR Express is due to a couple of things.  No. 1, this team is not getting better, they are getting worse as time goes by.  Michigan had six weeks to prepare for a one-dimensional offense and couldn't stop the run when everyone knew they were going to run.  

No. 2, the offensive game plan was terrible and this high-flying offense didn't execute outside the first quarter.  Every team that plays Denard is going to stop the run, if you can't have an effective passing game to counter that, you are not going to score too many points.  There is no excuse for the state of Michigan's special teams, none. 

Yesterday was a complete embarrassment for the entire university and I think most of us are tired of being embarrassed.  It started with Appalachian State and continues with 0-3 records to MSU and OSU and now the Gator Bowl.

I still think RR is has a great offensive mind but his downfall at Michigan will be his decisions at defensive coordinator.  He has always looked for a defensive "head coach" so he could focus on developing his young offensive players.  He is 0-2 in that strategy and I believe it will now cost him his job.  

If RR is out, who is in?  That is the big question.  It's either Jim or RR stays another year with a complete overall of the defensive coaching staff.  I would buy an RR and say a Marvin Lewis or Randy Shannon at DC.  Both of those guys would come with a decent pay check but I think we are that point if we don't land Harbaugh.  Illinois had some success doing a 100 percent overall of their assistant coaching staff this year.   

The rumor mill is that everybody and their brother are interested in Harbaugh.  Denver Broncos, 49ers, Carolina and Michigan.  He is the clearly the No. 1 candidate out there and some NFL teams are going to throw big dollars at him.  It will be interesting to see how David Brandon plays this one out. 

I'm willing to bet a $1 he won't fire RR without having Jimmy locked up.  The press box at the Gator Bowl was full of rumors that Maryland might be interested in RR and now maybe even Pitt.  Could a former WVU player and head coach be the head coach at Pitt?  Would that be like Harbaugh coaching at Ohio State?

Is Brady Hoke an option?  I think he might be more of an option then at this time on Friday.  I still think Brady is a bit of a stretch for this job.  I know Bo was from Miami of Ohio and Miami of Florida just hired a guy from Temple, but does a couple good seasons at Ball State and San Diego State make you ready for the Michigan job?  I'm leaning toward probably not.

What about Denard?  During the press conference, Denard gave the "no comment" to whether he would stay at Michigan if Rich were no longer the coach.  That isn't a ringing endorsement for a new coach.  If I'm Harbaugh and I come to Michigan, I run an offense that caters to Denard's skill set. 

My biggest concern at Michigan right now are the kids on the team and this recruiting class.  RR will be fine with a $2.5M check and probably a new job within a week.  Denard is a special young man that has time to sign every autograph and takes blame for every loss.  He is a hard worker and kid you want representing Michigan.  I worry about him and others like him on the team. 

I'm less concerned about former backup QBs who think they are the big man on campus and don't even need to show up for class.  I don't have anything official but I'm expecting that he has flunked out of Michigan by not going to class.

The man with the plan and the answers seems to be David Brandon.  I'm guessing he won't be going on any sailboat trips this week. 

Side note: Herbie, if you have a "scoop" on Michigan's next head coach, please keep it to yourself or give it to Joe Schad.

*Dee Hart has decommitted from Michigan again and has committed to Alabama.  Too bad he was at Alabama's practice all week which is a violation and could make him ineligible to play for the Crimson Tide.  The hits just keep coming!


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