Saturday, January 01, 2011

Open letter to Dave Brandon, Univ. of Michigan athletic director

Dear Sir,
I sincerely hope the extra revenue your school’s bank account received from agreeing to appear in the 2011 Gator Bowl – on New Year’s Day (merely because the game was played on Jan. 1) was worth the complete dismantling and embarrassment the Wolverines received in Jacksonville.
I hope the players enjoyed the festivities and pageantry that accompanied the contest; I hope the ban performed smartly at halftime and in any parade. I hope you’re happy about what transpired PRIOR to the actual kickoff because what followed perhaps set a new modern-day low for Michigan athletics.
Dave, we looked MORE than pathetic – we looked disorganized, ill-prepared (despite the extra practices) and, at the end, simply disinterested. We didn’t seem to be concerned when we couldn’t score inside the red zone on two occasions in the fourth quarter. Why? Because the game was over LONG before those drives ever began.
And with that lackluster, uninspired performance, you, as Michigan athletic director, should have no difficulty telling the head football coach to clean out his desk and take most of the coaches with him (as if the majority would be worthy of hiring elsewhere). And on Tuesday (unless the deal is already in place), you should hire either Jim Harbaugh away from Stanford or Brady Hoke away from San Diego State.
IF you fail to pull the trigger on those two moves, perhaps you need to return to the world of coupon clipping or pizza making. Rich Rodriguez need not have another day at the head football coach at what USED to be a prestigious program; he has helped dump it in to the crapper in just three years’ time.
Against a good Mississippi State team (playing without two of its top receivers), Michigan’s porous, stupidly-conceived defensive scheme allowed 42 unanswered points as it should its complete inability to tackle ANYONE all afternoon. Of course, it has neither enough talent, enough size nor sufficient coaching to do otherwise. But you, and every other school in the Big 10, have known that from Day One.
Despite Michigan’s opening drive, the average fan, blinded by the Florida sun, could tell the Wolverines were in deep doo-doo by the same, old tackling woes on the Bulldogs’ first drive. UM never stopped MSU offensively all game long – except for the first series of the third quarter.
At which point, Rodriguez sealed his fate to coach another season. Hell, Dave, you should have marched out of the press box and escorted him off the field at that moment.
It came at the 11:46 mark of the third quarter, after the lone defensive stand and a 33-yard punt return by Junior Hemingway; Michigan, horrible in the game inside the red zone (1 for 4), faced a fourth down decision and a 17-point deficit. At that moment of clarity, Rodriguez sent out a player who had not kicked a field goal in five months to try a miserable 36-yard boot … instead of trying to continue a potential scoring drive and regain a slight smidgen of momentum.
Of course, the attempt sailed way wide left; it’s been the story of Michigan kicking all season long so why did RichRod expect a different outcome? Even Einstein knew that type of thinking to define insanity.
At that exact moment, the 2011 Gator Bowl was “officially” over; the only question was the final (embarrassing) score. I think many of the Maize and Blue supporters understood it, too, because there began a noticeable collection of empty seats around Raymond James Stadium.
I didn’t see any fire or enthusiasm coming from Rodriguez throughout the contest; I saw entirely too much hand-slapping by UM defenders when they weren’t participating in plays; and I saw nothing improve whatsoever between the lackluster Ohio State loss and this debacle. Michigan has NO running game (backs not named Robinson carried the ball 14 times for 27 yards), NO defense (the game announcers rarely called the name of any defensive lineman for making a single tackle), NO kicking game (the only punt attempt was blocked) and NO future (if you were a top-flight recruit, would join this mess?).
Sorry, I lay some of the blame in your office. Rodriguez was a monumental mistake made by your predecessor (Bill Martin), but there seems to have been a greater push for all things monetary instead of stopping the slide downwards and making the proper adjustments (coaching-wise). Yet he was permitted, after some tears and Josh Groban theatrics, to coach Michigan in this final game. So how did that exactly go for you?
And because of contractual obligations you’ve decided to make, Michigan has been set up to be embarrassed against to start the 2012 season in my backyard – Arlington, Texas – when Alabama will play (and probably destroy) UM … because you have sniffed for the money more than what is good for this program.
This was a national shellacking (to use a word popular in November) and no one should be spared from the final verdict. Except for some blood-thirsty maniacs here in Texas, no one enjoys witnessing an execution … but that is exactly what it was on that field. And Mississippi State has a victory over a “name” school (in name-only at the moment).
The ball (whether fumbled by running backs too small to play, intercepted by quarterbacks forced to throw too much in a ball-control offense or blocked because the UM kicking game is the absolutely laughing stock in Division 1) is in YOUR court.
Stanford plays Monday night; an announcement needs to be made Tuesday afternoon (I’m considering the time zone differential). Otherwise, kiss off the next half-decade and cancel that Alabama contract. Time to make the RIGHT decisions … and fast!!!
Chuck Bloom
Class of ’74 (just like you, Dave)

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