Back in November, The Blue-Gray Sky made a post evaluating Charlie Weis, whether he had reached his ceiling, etc. While not particularly interesting to the non-ND fan on the whole, there was an interesting idea contained within, and that is giving a coach grades in several key categories. Those chosen by Jeff were Offensive Mind, Defensive Mind, Recruiting, Fundamentals, and Motivation. Their comparison was between Charlie Weis and Lou Holtz, which ended up looking like this:
|Category||Lou Holtz||Charlie Weis|
This is a pretty good representation (though Weis’ offensive mind is clearly overrated – see games against Boston College, Syracuse, San Diego State, USC, etc. – all in his fourth year and with his own recruits). However, I’m obviously not here to talk about Notre Dame coaches, I’m here to apply this concept to Rich Rodriguez.
Offensive Mind – A-
Of course, Rich came to Michigan as an offensive genius, the father of the zone-read offense, engineer of the West Virginia Spread n’ Shred, etc. So how do I not give the man at least an ‘A,’ if not an ‘A+?’ Rich is a very good offensive mind, but he’s very much married to his offensive system, and while he can adapt it somewhat, I don’t see in him the creativity that someone like Chip Kelly brought to Oregon’s (very similar) offense. Maybe down the road, when he gets the personnel he needs, he’ll be a little more creative. however, I’m not sure there was tons of evidence for that in his time at West Virginia, and it remains to be seen if there are many tricks up his sleeve.
Defensive Mind – D+
Rich has never really worried much about defense. He’s put his focus into offense, and hired a defensive coordinator he trusts (or doesn’t trust and fires after one year) to be the “head coach” of the defense. This can be construed as a negative if it doesn’t work out, or a strong positive if it does. Coach Rod does have a reputation for being loyal to his friends from West Virginia, rather than surrounding himself with the best assistants available, so it is something of a weakness.
Recruiting – A-
When you take into account all the media-fueled “turmoil” around the Michigan program, and the negative recruiting that has stemmed from it, Rich has had a great pair of recruiting classes. He’s been able to pull down a pair of top-10 efforts with all the uncertainty around Michigan and the headhunting in the press. Just that alone is worthy of a grade in the A-range. If he’s able to start pulling in annual top-5 or top-3 classes once Michigan starts winning, this grade certainly has upward potential.
Fundamentals – B-
The coaching staff stresses fundamentals, and from everything we know about Rich’s past, he’s very very into teaching fundamentals. However, with Michigan’s play on the field last year, how can he get any better a grade than this? The offensive line in particular improved over the course of the year (and indeed, Greg Frey has the biggest “fundamentals guy” reputation among the coaches), so maybe as the system is installed more, and as the coaches settle in, the fundamental focus will improve.
Motivation – A
You’ve seen the Barwis video. I’ve seen the Barwis video. Barwis may not be Rodriguez, but the two are definitely an inseparable unit, and the motivation that Barwis brings is amazing. Rodriguez himself isn’t such a bad motivator (though, from the sounds of things, he was a little too focused on the stick, and not the carrot at times last spring), and the tandem is amazing motivationally.
When broken into units, it’s easy to see why coach Rodriguez is considered one of the top football leaders in the country. As long as he has a good defensive coordinator to take care of that side of the ball, he should be able to build any team and any program to success in due time.
Anything you don’t agree with? Debate in the comments.