Steve Fox 
Member since Nov 24, 2011


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Re: “Editor's Note

As a lifelong Michigan fan, graduate, and season ticket holder for 20 years, I am in the odd position of stepping up to defend RichRod even though I wanted him gone from Ann Arbor. Despite that, I hope and I believe Rodriguez will succeed at Arizona.

At Michigan, many wanted Rodriguez fired. There were many legitimate reasons. The biggest reason was the abysmal defensive performances of his teams. Rodriguez intitially hired a capable defensive coordinator from Western Michigan -- Scott Schaefer. The defensive assitants he brought with him from West Virginia (who were clearly incompentent) ended up clashing with Schaefer. Rather than hand the reigns to Schaefer, the assistants and Rdriguez dictated the defense.

It didn't help that RR's offense makes the job of a defense harder than it should be. There is no such thing as clock managment or time of possession with Rodriguez. It's all about pace. Identical to Oregon. Without a strong defense, this is a killer against good teams who can possess the ball for long periods of time -- which is what happened to Michigan against B1G opponents far more often than not.

Nor did Rodriguez understand how important physical play is the Big 10. He failed to recruit to the defense his first year, instead stocking up on short fast players on offense.

The biggest failure of Rodriguez on the field was his inability or unwillingness to adapt to the players who were on the team when he arrived: Ryan Mallet, Steven Threet, Adrian Arrington, etc. Had he been willing to adapt his style to fit the skills positions on the team that first year, he would likely have taken the team to a bowl game, and might still be the coach today at Michigan.

Off the field, Rodiguez is not a typical Michigan coach. He is not particularly sophisticated or worldly. He was, in many respects, the antitheses of Lloyd Carr off the field. Rodriguez too often didn't say the "right" things about the Michigan tradition. He should have been more up to speed on his arrival. He shouldn't have proclaimed Michigan had 3 rivals -- we have one. This is a big deal at Michigan. I don't blame this entirely on Rodriguez though, he could have used some instruction before being cast into the public eye.

Rodriguez is a simple, and sympathetic character (he never quoted authors, rather referred to the Lion King movie) He wears his heart on his sleeve (heck he played a Josh Groban song at his last football gathering at UM and told UM he wanted to be a Michigan Man). These are attributes that some will find endearing. At Michigan, with the microscope that our football team brings, it did not serve him well.

The Free Press allegations against Michigan (practicegate) were VASTLY over done. I believe Rodriguez genuinely thought he was following the rules. If you read the conclusions of the NCAA, you would understand his belief. It is an archaic, difficult to enforce rule that the NCAA had to deal with given the publicity. While Rodriguez was responsible as the head football coach, it is hardly a character or cheating issue as the author above would have you believe.

Despite these misgivings, I can emphatically say that Rodriguez treats his players well, he cares about them. They His players liked him. He has many loyal fans, still today, at Michigan, and you can see some of that in these comments.

Importantly to Arizona, most of the issues Rodriguez could not overcome at Michigan aren't going to be a problem in Ariona. Rodriguez can have success at Arizona and I'm betting on it.

First, from where I sit, Rodriguez will be able to recruit southern california well to fit his offensive style: we often called them "ninja slot midgets", but basically, super fast, waterbug type guys that can go the distance in open field. I think southern california will fit this style nicely, and provide ample recruiting ground. Second, Arizona's expectations are relatively low. He's not expected to win the PAC every other year -- though he could after three years if he can the defense sorted out. Third, the competition in Arizona's division works to his advantage. Utah, Colorado, UCLA, ASU are all the type of teams RR faced in the Big East -- I expect Arizona to fare well against these opponents under Rodriguez. That leaves, SC, which is much more physical than the others, much more like a traditional OSU, Michigan type of team. Arizona will have problems with SC, but that's true now. To my understanding, Arizona also has a genuine dual threat qb now who will fit his offense -- if so, his "system" will fit now, and won't require him to adapt to pro-style talent. This is probably the biggest reason to expect a good marriage. The short terms results will likely be better than at Michigan, while the expectations at the same time are far less.

Ultimately, if RR has learned some things during the last three years, if he hires a good defensive coordinator and lets him do his work without interference, if he would not be quite so ready to answer every dumb reporter's question like it really mattered, Arizona and RR do well together, and there's no reason that after a few years, 'Zona can't compete for the PAC division title regularly.

I wish him luck, as do so many here in Michigan.

2 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by Steve Fox on 11/24/2011 at 10:42 AM

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