So distracted with the offensive shortcomings of our favorite team, it's easy to forget about just how awful of a sesaon Rich Rodriguez is churning out in Ann Arbor.
Gone with that one trick play were Michigan's national-best streaks of 40 winning seasons and 33 bowl appearances. The seven losses already tie the 1962 and 1934 teams for most in a season and the Wolverines must go to Minnesota this weekend, catch Northwestern at home next week and finish in Columbus to end the season. Not once in the proud 128-year history of Michigan football has a team suffered eight defeats in a single season and Team Rod 1.0 has a really good shot of getting to nine.
Had they not pulled a miracle out against Wisconsin, this could easily be a one-win team, with that lone victory a three-point win over a 2-6 Miami. But they did. So two wins it is.
Wolverine fan anger is directed at defensive coordinator Scott Schafer:
"The defense switched to a 3-3-5 stack for this game and that only made things worse. It's pretty clear that Scott Shafer has lost control of Michigan's defense based on the switch to a 3-3-5 alone."
Giving up 48 to Purdue -- and 25 or more to every non-MAC opponent -- seems to indicate that MSC has a point, but the problems on this team go straight to the top. From telling recruits about his resignation ahead of his team, to shredding documents and lawsuits. Whether it be players transferring to rivals and decrying the lack of "family values" to the steady stream of de-commits in his first full recruiting class, Rich Rodriguez has been a disaster of Weis-ian proportions.
Though some of the faithful can already see this, others aren't quite willing to go that far just yet. Somehow a team that went 11-2 and 9-4 (banged-up) the previous two seasons had left the cupboards bare... or it's his pattern of having rough first seasons before bouncing back with a strong year two... or his system takes 745 days to learn. Whatever. Great coaches do not flop this bad their first season on the job. Consider the following table:
First Season on the Job
|Woody Hayes||1951||Ohio State||4-3-2||6-3, Wes Fesler||-2|
|Bear Bryant||1958||Alabama||5-4-1||2-7, Jennings B. Whitworth||+3|
|Joe Paterno||1966||Penn State||5-5||5-5, Rip Engle||0|
|Gene Stallings||1990||Alabama||7-5||10-2, Bill Curry||-3|
|Mack Brown||1998||Texas||9-3||4-7, John Mackovic||+5|
|Bob Stoops||1999||Oklahoma||7-5||5-6, John Blake||+2|
|Pete Carroll||2001||USC||6-6||5-7, Paul Hackett||+1|
|Jim Tressel||2001||Ohio State||7-5||8-4, John Cooper||-1|
|Les Miles||2005||LSU||11-2||9-3, Nick Saban||+2|
|Urban Meyer||2005||Florida||9-3||7-5, Ron Zook||+2|
|Mark Dantonio||2007||Michigan State||7-6||4-8, John L. Smith||+3|
|Nick Saban||2007||Alabama||7-6||6-7, Mike Shula||+1|
|Rich Rodriguez||2008||Michigan||2-7||9-4, Lloyd Carr||-7|
Granted, there are many factors that contribute to the success of a coach in his first season on the job, but every single one of the coaches in the above table finished .500 or better year one. And a good number of them actually improved upon the win total of their predecessor. Rich, not so much. Best case scenario, he wins two of his last three and finishes -5. More realistic case: he wins one of his last three and is still looking at -6.
Early odds he doesn't make it through is first contract?