Michigan Man? Why The Wolverines Should Have Given Rich Rodriguez One More Shot
I'm not a Michigan fan. I'm not even a fan of the Big Ten. So why would I care at all about the decisions that the administration Michigan makes about their football team?
Because I'm a fan of a fair shot, the fair shot that Rich Rodriguez never got. If you asked him, I'm sure he would agree with me. From day one he never had the full support of the athletic staff and boosters.
Throw in a couple of NCAA rules violations, loosing seasons, and an 0-3 record against Ohio State and lets face it, the man had no chance.
But when you really look at the job that Rodriguez was trying to do, he was on the right track, he just needed more time.
When Michigan hired Rodriguez, it was no surprise that the days of running a smash mouth, pro-style, typical Big Ten offense were over.
Rodriguez is a guru of the spread offense. He was one of its innovators, and he has had success with it everywhere he has gone. There is a catch to running his offense though, he has to have the right players for the system.
And lets face it, in 2008 there weren't too many Denard Robinson's walking around Ann Arbor. Instead there was Ryan Mallet, a great quarterback, just not the type of player Rodriguez needed.
The quarterback isn't the only key to having success in the spread. Each position has completely different needs in a spread system than in a pro-style attack. Gone were the days of crushing defenses between the tackles.
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So those huge offensive lineman who could pick up a truck were useless if they couldn't move around. There was also no need to have an every down back that could hit the hole hard and drag a linebacker.
The spread that Rodriguez runs. calls for smaller, quicker tailbacks who can find even the smallest of holes and dart through them. His offense also called for more than one or two receivers who could make an impact.
Normally when a new coach takes over, he can rely on the left over talent to get him through the first couple of years. This wasn't the case for Rodriguez at Michigan, he was almost working from scratch.
The first year was going to be tough, everyone expected that. Most people could even understand struggling in season two. But by season three, Wolverine fans were looking for a break-out year, and I'd say their hopes were a year too early.
The Michigan offense was potent behind behind Robinson, and they could really put some points on the board. The defense was the Achilles heel for Rodriguez, he never field a squad that could contain the pass.
But if I'm Rodriguez, I would have to say things were going to be good in 2011. When I'm a head coach with all of my starters coming back, including the previous Big Ten Player of the Year in Denard Robinson, I have good reason to believe that things are looking up.
Michigan didn't feel that way. They brought in their true "Michigan Man" in Brady Hoke a the replacement for Rodriguez. Hoke has seen success coaching, but he hasn't sniffed the success of his predecessor.
And now, Hoke is going to find himself in a similar boat to the one Rodriguez found himself in three years ago. Hoke doesn't run the spread, remember, he's a "Michigan Man."
He is going to bring them back to the pro-style, smash mouth days of old, that is if he can run that offense with players who were hand picked to run the spread. I doubt it.
Michigan wanted to start fresh. They needed a new face for their program. Maybe that's true. But lets be real...they want instant gratification.
They want to win and they want to win now, and its probably not going to happen. Hoke will have to rebuild the Wolverines to fit his offense, and getting the job so close to signing day didn't help him get a jump on that.
But who knows, maybe Denard Robinson will turn into Peyton Manning? Also highly unlikely. So Hoke will struggle this year, like Rodriguez did in his first. Michigan is just trading coaches, they won't be trading results just yet.
The only reason the results will change is because Hoke has one thing that Rodriguez never did. Support, because he is a "Michigan Man."
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