2009 M Football- The year in photos…

Here are a selection of photos from the 2009 football season.

#1

When freshman phenom Tate Forcier suited up for spring practice I wondered if he’d be able to take the pounding of an entire season.  Tate’s progress was accelerated when returning starter Nick Sheridan was injured early in spring practice. From that point on Tate was the focal point at QB for the Wolverines.

#2
LB Obi Ezeh and DB Donovan Warren rest prior to media day.  Donovan would declare for the NFL draft after the season and Obi would lose his starting job.
#3
Players posing for a group shot during media day.  The good feelings would disappear during a disastrous game versus Illinois.
#4
The Wolverine drill.  One of the few times where media gets to see players go all out against each other.
#5
RB Michael Cox showed that he has the speed to be force for the Wolverines next season.
#6
Players rehabbing from injuries.  They insisted on having the photo taken,

$$PAGE$$

#7

The Wolverines take the field undet the coveted M Club banner.  Some traditions never change.

#8
Brandon Graham was a beast on defense.
#9
Craig Roh was a pleasant surprise on defense.  Just a little bit of holding…
#10
When Denard Robinson was in the game there was always the potential for an electryfying run.  Whenever he broke free it would cause complete mayhem for opposing defenses.
#11
Freshman QB Tate Forcier was a force of nature during the Wolverines’ 4-0 start.
#12
The Wolverines last second victory and endzone celebration.  Photo taken with an iPhone.

$$PAGE$$

#13
DB Donavan Warren seals the victory over Indiana with a great interception.
#14
The Wolverines put a gang tackle on the Eagles.  We didn’t see enough of this…
#15
RB Brandon Minor was a beast when healthy…
#16
The only way for teams to contain Brandon Graham was to double team him…and hold.
#17
RB Brandon Minor bulls through the Penn State defense.
#18
Next season the renovation of Michigan Stadion will be complete and the press box will be history…

2009 Michigan Football- Upon Further Review…5 Things RichRod needs to do

It’s been a rough ride for Michigan fans.  Coach Rodriguez came to Michigan with high expectations, but his first season ended in bitter disappointment.

Many fans expected a much better second season, and certainly a 4-0 start seemed to show that things were heading in the right direction but the Wolverines were stung by a disastrous second half at Illinois and slid to a 5-7 finish making it two consecutive seasons without a bowl appearance.

The faith that many fans had that Rodriguez could turn things around has been shaken.
What can he do to turn the tide?
Winning will heal many wounds but that will have to wait for next season.
Here are some suggestions for Coach Rodriguez to start mending fences with the Wolverine faithful.
1.  Stop referring to Michigan as “…one of the top fifteen or twenty programs in America.”
Seriously, do you know how this sounds?  Every time you make a comment like this you’re flipping Wolverine fans the bird.  I’m not sure you mean to but that’s how it comes across.  We believe that Michigan is THE top program in America.
We expect you to act as though you believe that this is THE best job in America.
Start drinking the kool-aid or begin packing.  You need to sell yourself to the fans not the other way around.
2.  Learn your history
We’re not expecting you to recite chapter and verse of Michigan football history (we have John Bacon for that) but you need to a better job of embracing the tradition.
During Ohio State week, when reporters questioned whether you “understand the rivalry” you can’t pause when someone asks you about your favorite UM/OSU memories.
There are those who would say that this isn’t important.
Those people are wrong.
How can you hope to change a culture without understanding an organization’s history?  How do you know what to embrace and what to change?  The UM/OSU rivalry is baked into the DNA of every Wolverine fan.
Somebody handing you a “Beat OSU” button does not make you an expert on the rivalry.
I used to work with a former VP of Ford Motor Company who was concerned when Alan Mulally was named President & CEO.  He was worried that Mulally, being from Boeing, might not appreciate the heritage and tradition that set Ford apart from its rivals.  He wrote a letter congratulating Mulally and voiced his concerns.  Within a week Mulally sent back a handwritten note, thanking him and making it clear that he had done his homework to understand Ford’s history.
Mulally had a huge job ahead of him, but he took time learn about Ford’s heritage before he began re-tooling the company.
Coach Rodriguez might not give a rip about what happened before he came here, but your fans do.
Get with the program.
RichRod can do a better job of showing that he appreciates the great Michigan tradition.
3. Lower the drawbridge at Fort Schembechler
For the first half of the season, Coach Rodriguez allowed media to attend practice a few times a week. It gave people a chance to gauge the mood of the team and see backup players get work.  Then the Michigan Daily printed a detailed description about plays that Michigan was practicing and all of the media was banned for the rest of the season.
As the losses piled there was nothing else for the media to talk about but the poor play during games.
The lack of access contributed to rumors and speculation.  Press conferences became more confrontational.
In the context of the Detroit Free Press allegations of practice time violations, Coach Rodriguez should have opened up more practices not less.
When spring practice rolls around he needs to open things up again.
4. Reach out to fans
In small informal settings Coach Rodriguez does very well.  Unfortunately, his laid back demeanor doesn’t aways translate to press conferences or formal speaking events.  During the off season he should make an effort to get out in the community as much as possible.
Grab lunch at the Union, check out some of the concerts and other events on campus.  Sit in on some classes, make a few unadvertised visits to community events.
He still has the opportunity to win people over here.  He has the personality to do it, he just needs to make the decision to make it a priority.
He also needs to start using social networking to interact with fans who don’t live in the Ann Arbor area.
5. Take responsibility
Coach needs to man up.  Sometimes he implies that the team’s poor performance is the fault of the previous coach  not recruiting and/or the current players not getting the job done.
Coach Rodriguez is responsible for the team’s performance.
He needs to forcefully take responsibility and convince us that (1) there is a plan to fix this mess and that (2) he’s responsible for making sure it gets done.
No excuses.
And stop moping through post game press conferences.  It’s pathetic.
Go Blue!

M Football 2009- Thieves in the Temple

Growing up as a fan of Michigan football the following quote was ingrained in my consciousness:
Football is religion and Saturday is the holy day of obligation- Bob Ufer
One of the great privileges of covering Michigan football is the opportunity to pass through the Michigan Stadium tunnel.  You can imagine the great Wolverine teams of the past heading down onto to the field.  Harmon, Howard, Woodson, Brady- they all made that same walk down to the hole that Yost dug, Canham carpeted, and Schembechler filled.
So imagine my chagrin to hear the Purdue players whooping and hollering in the Michigan Stadium tunnel following their 38-36 victory over the Wolverines.
The tunnel is holy ground for Michigan football.  And all too often rather than lambs to the slaughter, opposing teams have been all too happy when passing through the tunnel.
Appalachian State, Toledo, and Purdue- not exactly a roll call of gridiron glory- have all shocked the Wolverines in recent seasons.
Mystique = an aura of mystery, power, and awe that surrounds a person or thing
It used to be said that the Michigan helmet was worth 10 points.  But the Michigan mystique is evaporating.  Right now teams are still excited about beating the Wolverines.  But the hammer and nails aren’t rivals- and the Wolverines are looking a lot more like nails lately than hammers.  No amount of Stadium expansions or new practice buildings will matter unless the Wolverines starting winning on the field.
Right now Coach Rodriguez and his staff are at the pivot point here at Michigan.  Prior to the Penn State game it appeared that the program was on the upswing.  But blowout losses to Penn State and Illinois have shaken the belief of many fans.  The latest loss to Purdue adds to the misery of the Michigan faithful.
Can the Wolverines bounce back from three straight disheartening Big Ten losses?
Coach Rodriguez’s tenure may depend on it.
You can be sure that Michigan’s next Athletic Director, whomever it may be, is watching…

2009 M Football- Lloyd Carr gets Rick rolled

Lloyd Carr retired two seasons ago but his shadow still looms large over the Michigan football program.

Just ask former Wolverine QB Rick Leach, who this week blasted the former coach on local sports radio.

Leach, who has been a vocal supporter of Carr’s successor Rich Rodriguez, accused Carr of high treason for attending the Michigan/Iowa game and having “…the audacity, the unmitigated gall…” to not sit with the Michigan contingent.

It’s an ironic turn of events for two men who are both so closely identified with Michigan football.  Leach for his outstanding college career and Carr for leading the Wolverines to the 1997 National Championship.

Leach, who is revered by many Wolverine fans, seems to represent a vocal minority of Wolverines fans who were critical of Coach Carr and pushed for his departure.  What’s puzzling is why nearly two years after Carr’s retirement that the attacks continue.

My impression is that Leach wasn’t exactly one of the Lloyd’s favorite people.  When Rodriguez become coach Leach got a new lease on life as a program insider.  Since then Leach has been front and center in defending Rodriguez while continuing to take shots at Carr.

But Leach’s campaign against Carr will do nothing to stop the Detroit Free Press’ inquisition of current Coach Rich Rodriguez.

His radio tirade only exposes a fissure between two legends of the Michigan football program.

In times like this I wonder what Bo what would say about the situation.

My guess is he’d chide Lloyd for his choice of seating at the Iowa/Michigan football game.

But it wouldn’t anything compared to the ass chewing that he’d give Leach.

Go Blue!

2009 M Football- The education of Rich Rodriguez

Dear Rich,

Just wanted to take a few minutes to share some thoughts on the recent flap with the Detroit Free Press and give a few recommendations and how to move forward.

First let me say that I’m a big fan.  After your messy departure from West Virginia I wasn’t sure what to make of you.  But after meeting you a few times and seeing how you run practice a few things are clear:

1.  Your offense will soom be tearing up the Big Ten like Jim Brandstatter tearing through a complimentary buffet.

2.  QBs are an endangered species in your offense- you better stock up…

And now on to some things you can work on.

Great idea banning media from practice.

You can’t trust them!

Well, except for me.

Next up press conferences.

Rich 99% of the time you rock in press conferences.  Seriously, you’re funny self depracating, and knowledgeable.

It’s that other 1% we need to work on.

Trouble began when you announced the dismissal of Justin Feagan.  You obviously wanted to move on to another subject but that pesky media just kept hammering you until you sheepishy asked if it was alright move on and keep the day positive.

Now I don’t know how things rolled for you at West Virginia but whenever you ask the media here to move on from something a strange transformation happens.  Their eyes glaze over and they start having visions of Pulitzer prizes and movie deals.  All kinds of crazy ideas  ideas of linking Michigan football to the wall .

Go Blue!