Monday, October 10, 2011

Michigan Monday: 3 and Out 1-100

I'm not a big novel guy.  I don't read fiction, it really doesn't interest me at all.  My parents growing up tried to get me to read novels but I just wasn't interested.   If I was going to read something it was going to be the sports page in the newspaper.   I found it much more entertaining watching a movie then ever reading a book.  

All my life I have been watching the most intriguing movie ever written, called Michigan Football.  From the days of Anthony Carter beating Indiana to now watching the electric Denard Robinson.  I still get that nervous feeling on game days and can't imagine a better Saturday afternoon then watching football at the Big House or on TV with the family. 

Like most Michigan fans, I have been eagerly waiting for John Bacon's book called 3 and Out regarding the behind the scenes soap opera which has been the last 3 years of Michigan football.   I have been looking for the answers to all my questions:

  • How could have Bill Martin not been prepared to replace Lloyd Carr?
  • Why was the coaching search such a train wreck?
  • Why did the Freep have it out for RR?
  • How did RR not see how bad the defense was?
  • Where was all this negative information about RR coming from?
  • Where the hell was Lloyd Carr?
  • Was Tate just lazy and didn't want to go to class?
The past 3 years has had more questions then answers for Michigan fans and I hope John's book will give us the answers we deserve being life long fans.  

IBooks has the first 100 pages available to download with the release of the book due out in a couple of weeks.   I sat down and read them in what seemed like a few minutes last night.   The first 100 basically starts to paint the story of John getting behind the scenes access through a common connection with RR.  The goal was write a success story similar to Fielding H. Yost who grew up in West Virgina and became a Michigan legend.   As we know, that story never played out and Rich's story became an Ann Arbor tragedy.

John does a good job telling the history of Michigan football and Rich's early coaching experience.  None of what I read really surprised me, except one thing.   John talks about how Michigan Football changed the day Bo died.  I never really thought of it that way, but boy was he right.  Even when Bo wasn't the AD or Head Coach he still controlled the program.  The day he died the Maize and Blue world changed and it wasn't a change for the better.   Michigan lost 4 straight games after Bo died and we all know the stories of those on the field losses.   

What I didn't realize until reading this book was that Lloyd Carr wasn't really the head coach, Bo was.  Even if he was President of Tigers or sitting at home. He controlled Michigan Football, sure Lloyd and his coaches recruited and called the plays but Bo still had his finger on the button.   I personally never felt Lloyd wanted to be the head coach of Michigan.  To me that never seemed to be his goal.  He got thrust into the job after Gary Moeller had a very bad night in Southfield and he sort of felt it was his duty to continue Bo legacy's or mission.   I didn't know what type of leader Lloyd was or if he really could coach.  His situation always reminded me of Steve Fisher, both of them found themselves head coaches of a powerful Michigan program overnight and they both had a National Championship to their credit.

I was very critical of Lloyd in his last year as coach.  He had one of the most talented teams in the country and one that was clearly not prepared to start the 2007 season.  I wasn't sure what his issues were but he clearly no longer wanted to be the head coach of Michigan.  His retirement came as a relief for me and a chance for Michigan to get some new blood in place and a chance to turn this battleship into something special again.  A team that could beat any team in the country on any given Saturday.

Love or hate RR, it really doesn't mater.   We all can agree that his time was up after the Gator Bowl and we seem to be back on the right track sitting here with Hoke, Mattison and Borgus at 6-0.   But back 3 years ago, when Bill Martin pretty much messed up the coaching search in every way possible, he tripped over and landed one of the hottest coaches out there.   A guy that had just turned down Alabama; a guy that could run an offense and knew about getting teams to BCS Bowls.  What he really didn't know was the mess that was going on behind the curtain at Michigan.  There is an old saying in coaching; "you don't want to be the guy that replaces the legend, you want to be the guy that replaces the guy that replaced the legend".  I always thought at Michigan the guy that replaced Bo was Gary Moeller, it turns out that it really was Rich Rodriguez. 

We all know the story on the field, I hope the rest of John's book will lets us connect the dots off the field.    The first 100 pages really makes you think, I am betting the rest of the book with shine a light on how the program was in decline even before RR got there and what he did and didn't do to try to right the ship.   We know now that RR wasn't the savior that I had hoped he was but was he cannon fodder?  Use Alabama as an example - how many coaches did they go through after Bear Bryant retired and before Saban came to town and turned the program around?  (The answer is 6, if you don't count Mike Price who never coached a game at Bama before getting fired)   Maybe Michigan should feel lucky if Hoke is our guy and that it only took 3 years to find him*

It's clearly a must read.

*Common Michigan Disclaimer: I know Hoke is only 6 games into his Michigan career and even though he seems like the guy that lets his coordinators coach and goes for it on 4th and 1 in the first half, it still might be a little pre-mature to crown him the next Bo Schembechler.


Voice of Reason said...

Thanks Bob, good heads up. I've always wondered what type of influence Bo was having on the program, with all of the reverence that everyone gave him he didn't have to be the coach or the AD in order to be a big mover or shaker with that football team. When big games were coming up, he was the one being interviewed. Too bad he died before the RR hiring.

uncle ron said...

Bo's influence was not just in Football. Bo had something to say to every head coach at Michigan.
I witnessed that first hand with the Baseball program. Bo wanted every head coach to run their programs as he ran his, in other words they should be telling the Big 10 coaches what to do and what not to do. Bo had a answer for every teams issues....and he was usually right.