Stewart Mandel answered questions about Rich Rodriguez and U of M in his College Football Mailbag on CNNSI.com (August 26 Edition):
On why U of M went 3-9 last season: “It’s not the system that’s the problem — it’s the players. The three national championship coaches .. Lloyd Carr didn’t necessarily leave Rodriguez with an empty cupboard, but there’s no question Michigan’s recruiting fell off in his last couple of years.”
“So why would anyone predict the Wolverines will improve by four wins this fall? Simple: confidence in Rodriguez. For one thing, big second-year improvements have occurred everywhere he’s been before (Tulane went from 7-4 to 12-0, Clemson from 6-6 to 9-3, West Virginia from 3-8 to 9-4). And because Rodriguez’s offense is fairly simple — long story short: create mismatches in open space — it’s easier for a true freshman quarterback like Tate Forcier or Denard Robinson .. to step in and run it. It also makes it more plausible freshman skill players like standout running back Vincent Smith can make an immediate impact.”
One big obstacle to Rich Rodriguez showing his second year turnaround this season is simply that at all three of the previous stops year two for Rich Rodriguez was also year two for his quarterbacks at the same time. Shaun King at Tulane, Woody Dantzler at Clemson; Rasheed Marshall at West Virginia. Why nobody mentions this is beyond me.
When will U of M return to the Top 25: “Obviously, Michigan needs at least one more solid recruiting class to return to its customary talent level, but breaking .500 seems like a reasonable goal for this year. A year ago this time, SI predicted the Wolverines to go 5-7, causing my in-box to fill with angry missives from Maize and Blue faithful unaccustomed to such pessimistic forecasts. A year later, apparently we’re being too optimistic.”
One warning I need to tell the fans is not to get hung up on whether recruits are three stars or four stars. Rich Rodriguez recruiting three and two stars at West Virginia and beat Oklahoma and Georgia.