3rd Greatest Season Opener – ‘84 vs. Miami (FL)

Counting Down Michigan’s Greatest Season Openers

1984 for the most part was not a memorable season for Michigan. Schembechler’s squad would finish 6-6 after an injury to QB Jim Harbaugh sent the season into a spiral. But it did begin with a bang, as the Wolverines took out the number one ranked Hurricanes propelling the Wolverines to a temporary third place ranking. 1984 was also Jimmy Johnson’s first at the helm for Miami. He would finish the season 8-5 with three consecutive losses, including the historic Hail Flutie Game. An odd tidbit, Miami entered the game 2-0, while it was Michigan’s season opener.

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No Man Is More Important Than The Team

Let me preface this article by saying at the outset that this piece is not about rehashing or re-prosecuting Rich Rodriguez. No one wants to move forward and concentrate on the present and future more than I do. With that said, it is critical to take a look at the past in order to provide perspective on the current situation and what to expect in the future.

Several of the comments made by Brady Hoke (watch video) during last week’s Big 10 Media Days highlight an issue that has received little attention. While much has been made over the issues that led Dave Brandon’s decision to remove Rich Rodriguez, one factor has largely gone unmentioned by the mainstream media. While the sub .500 record, annual losses to Ohio State and Michigan State, and embarrassingly bad defense all played a major role, the single biggest factor was likely Rodriguez putting himself and his coaches ahead of the football program. This is not to suggest that Rodriguez did not care for his players. Contrary to popular opinion Rodriguez is not an uncaring individual or an evil person. Throughout his 3 years at Michigan, Rodriguez displayed a high degree of concern for both his players and their families. The attention and support given to Brock Mealer by the football program is just one illustration of who Rich Rodriguez is as a person. Going above and beyond for several of the families at Motts Children’s Hospital provides yet another example. Juxtaposed to the selfless Rich Rodriguez is the football coach who was as interested in selling himself and his system as anything else. Rodriguez’s approach in public appearances and recruiting was grounded in self promotion. From the pep rally designed to garner support for the coach instead of the team, to public events and fund raisers with fans and alumni where Rodriguez sold what he, his system, and his coaches could do for them and the football program. A similar approach was used in recruiting where kids, especially on the offensive side, were primarily sold on the advantages of playing for a “master of the spread.” While academic prowess, personal development, and the University as a whole was used a recruiting tool, those attributes served as tertiary pitches to recruits. Kids were sold less on the University and what a Michigan experience could do for their lives going forward and more on the ability and personal profile of Rodriguez and his staff.

The way Rodriguez approached his job is something that must have weighed heavily on the mind of Dave Brandon when it came time to make a decision. Above annarbor.comeverything else Rich Rodriguez was in it for himself, ahead of the University and ahead of his players. Having a coach who put the players and the University above everything else was something that likely influenced both Brandon’s decision to remove Rodriguez, and who Brandon decided to pick as the next coach. While Jim Harbaugh and Les Miles were both contacted by Brandon, neither coach ended up taking the job. Like Rodriguez, both coaches project the image of a coach bigger than the program at their respective schools. Neither coach showed a willingness to put Michigan above themselves or their careers. Harbaugh’s interest in the NFL was well known even before Michigan made contact. Miles showed only a passing interest in the job, taking the interview with Dave Brandon on advice from his agent. This is not to suggest that either coach was unworthy of the job or unable to succeed at Michigan. There are many coaches who have succeeded while running their program on a cult of personality. Coaches like Steve Spurrier and Bobby Petrino have always put themselves out in front of their programs and each has enjoyed a high level of success. The critical thing to understand is the thought process the guided Brandon’s decision and what he was looking for in his next coach.

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Denard Robinson; An NFL Scout’s Perspective

An NFL Scout On Denard Robinson

Denard Robinson’s future is certainly in doubt now that the writing is on the wall concerning Rich Rodriguez’s status as the head coach at Michigan. Robinson responded to questions regarding his future if Rich Rodriguez got fired by saying "no response." He did say that Rich Rodriguez was "his coach" and "the coach that recruited me." However, what is Robinson going to do when RodriguDenard Robinson - OSUez does get fired?  UMGoBlog spoke to a NFL scout, Taylor McGurk, regarding the future of Denard Robinson with Rich Rodriguez vs. his potential future with Jim Harbaugh. 

Before we start talking about Denard Robinson as an overall quarterback, credit must be given to Rich Rodriguez and Rod Smith. They have done a tremendous job with the development of Denard Robinson. As a freshman, Robinson was an explosive runner who showed speed, quickness, agility and even power. He did at times show off his arm strength, but everyone saw the lack of accuracy, decision making and awareness in his passing game. This season as a sophomore, Robinson improved immensely and that can be credited to his hard work ethic, coachability and the teaching by Coach Rodriguez and Coach Smith. With that said, can Denard Robinson be an NFL quarterback under this current staff?

First, we’ll talk about what scouts think about Denard Robinson currently. At this point McGurk says scouts in the NFL do not even consider Denard Robinson at quarterback. The scouts do acknowledge his arm strength and are very impressed with the combination of arm strength and athletic ability that Robinson possesses. However these scouts are extremely concerned about the amount of hits he has been and will be taking under Rich Rodriguez. Certain scouts have gone as far as saying "under Rich Rodriguez, Denard Robinson has no shot at being a quarterback in the NFL." They also are also extremely concerned about Robinson’s future as an NFL player regardless of position with the amount of hits he is taking. As a quarterback, these hits will wear him down and destroy his strength in his core and lower body. Some well respected U-M bloggers and analysts out there have acknowledged that Robinson’s accuracy was hurt this season as he continued to get hit, stating, "Denard has lost his legs for the season." Under Rich Rodriguez, the overall consensus is that Denard is an athlete playing quarterback and will never be in a situation where he’ll be ready to move onto the NFL as a QB. The simplistic rout combinations and lack of reading defenses will prohibit the growth of Robinson as an overall quarterback. The scouts are also concerned with a possible bad injury that could potentially ruin Robinson’s career at the next level.

Now we’ll talk about Denard Robinson under Jim Harbaugh. First, Harbaugh will have to accept the U-M job and will then have to do a heck of a job of recruiting Denard Robinson to stay at Michigan. Regardless of who becomes coach at Michigan, expect to hear about Denard Robinson putting in a transfer request. This would be smart for Denard as he can explore his options, however when it is all said and done, it is hopeful that Robinson would stick it out with Harbaugh, if he is indeed hired. In conversation with McGurk he says, “most believe that Andrew Luck is the best coached quarterback in the draft,” and “many have said that Harbaugh is one of, if not the best, quarterback coaches in the country.” It is widely known that Harbaugh respects and loves the game of Michael Vick. When asked if Harbaugh could turn an athlete such as Denard Robinson into a Michael Vick type of quarterback, scouts responded unanimously "YES!" One may ask “what exactly is a Michael Vick type of quarterback?” This is a type of quarterback who can read defenses and be able to make quick accurate throws while having the ability to stretch the field vertically with his arm strength. Also a quarterback like Vick has the ability to make things happen with his legs when plays break down. Instead of being a running back at the quarterback position, Robinson would only take the hits when necessary. Most believe that Denard Robinson is indeed quicker and faster than Michael Vick. The one player that has played with both agrees. During the past training camp Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham said, “Both of them are pretty fast, I just think Vick’s older; he’s not really that fast like how Shoelace is. I think Shoelace is quicker than Vick, but Vick, he gets away; he’s pretty fast still. And I think Shoelace might have him by a couple steps.” Of course the age of Vick and his absences from football do make a big difference, but with that said, Vick is having an MVP type of season for the Eagles. Scouts also agree that they have comparable arm strength. The only thing missing in the development of Denard Robinson as a quarterback is elite coaching and an NFL favorable system. He’ll receive both of these if Michigan hires of Jim Harbaugh and Robinson decides to stay in Ann Arbor.

Of course another factor is the development of Devin Gardner. While Gardner has better size then Robinson, he is not as explosive and lacks the experience. With that said Gardner’s potential would also get maxed out under a Harbaugh staff. The last question is who has more potential despite the one year of experience Robinson has over Gardner. It could be that Devin Gardner is simply ahead of Denard as an overall passer and could leap him as the starter under Jim Harbaugh. Although that scenario is doubtful, it could happen and cause Robinson to go ahead and transfer. At this point, only time can tell what will happen. However it is widely known throughout the NFL circuits that under Jim Harbaugh, Denard Robinson can turn into a lethal quarterback both in college and in the NFL.

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Long Cold Winter

The following is by UMGoBlue.com Forum Member GoBlue75

Dear Fellow Michigan Fans,

Like most of you, I bleed Maize and Blue so it is excruciatingly painful to watch the current state of UM football (and basketball, but that’s another thread) after enjoying nearly 40 years of enviable success. However it must Schembechler Hallbe realized that this current situation is the result of years of poor decision-making around Schembechler Hall and cannot be remedied overnight – it will take years to undo the damage and return Michigan football to past levels of success. A combination of arrogance and over-confidence in the traditional Michigan brand of football gradually eroded the solid foundation that Bo produced in the 1970’s and ’80’s – and now we are seeing the harsh result of these sins.

For too long, Michigan assumed the best talent would flock to Ann Arbor solely because of the traditions of the Big House while ignoring the fact that other teams were playing a more exciting brand of ball and youngsters were being exposed to more teams via tv, while Michigan was losing to USC and other passing teams with alarming regularity, and suddenly its the 21st Century and Lloyd Carr doesn’t seem like the coolest guy on earth to go play football for … especially with all these fast exciting offensive teams around on the West Coast and elsewhere. Suddenly, playing in the Big House, in the cold, for Lloyd, does not look like the best option to most kids – this is when Michigan football began to decline, way before Rich Rod got here. We are just now seeing the result of what began 8-9 years ago… before most Michigan fans were even aware there was a problem brewing.

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Football Banquet; Coaching Speculation Carousel

2010 Michigan Football Banquet, Coaching Speculation

2010 Football Bust

By: UMGoBlue.com Senior Writer Andy Andersen

The 90th Annual University of Michigan Greater Detroit Alumni Club Football Bust was held on the evening of December 2 in Livonia at the Laurel Manor.

The purpose of the event is to view highlights from the 2010 season, observe the presentation of the coveted M rings to the seniors, and to honor players for outstanding academic and athletic achievements.

Besides a great meal, fans can get a look at the players, put a face and personality with the number, get to know them a little, and say thank you. Although at times I have thought the proceedings a little lengthy, it is a fine opportunity for a Wolverine fan to show his/her appreciation.

This year’s event, by circumstance not design, recalled the 1985 team, which manhandled Nebraska in the 1986 Fiesta Bowl. Those Number 2 ranked Wolverines laid defensive hit after hit, causing turn over after turn over, in as fine a Bowl defensive performance as produced by any Bo Schembechler team.  They embarrassed the Huskers. Offensively they were potent under the guidance of QB Jim Harbaugh, the hands and elusiveness of John Kolesar, and with the wheels of Jamie Morris. Gerald White attended, but Jim Harbaugh did not.

A ton of speculation before the event swirled abound whether Harbaugh would be there. ESPN reported he was considering the trip up until last Saturday, but scheduled a Stanford practice which prevented attendance.  His attendance would have entertained the media. among others.

To the surprise of no one this side of Timbuktu, Denard Robinson won the Bo Schembechler MVP award, and well earned and deserved it was. His accomplishments are worth listing again in these pages.

That Robinson is the nation’s top dual threat QB has been proved. Also recently named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, he set the NCAA season rushing record for QBs with 245 carries for 1,643-yards and 14 TDs this season. He is the first QB to run and pass for plus 1,500-yards in NCAA history in a single season. He was 155/253 passing for 2,316-yards for16 TDs. He also set a UM mark for total offense by amassing 3,858-yards and accounting for 30 TDs.

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