Press Conference Themes

Rich Rodriguez uses his press conferences much like a politician does. He takes the attention, especially on big days, and uses it to shape the message and control the commentary. There were 3 major themes that he came back to and stressed throughout the press conference. It seems like a lot of his responses were directed to local columnists who, for some reason or another, seem hellbent on proving he’s a current or future failure.  This was put together from my recollection and the tweets I banged out during the conference. Statements in quotation marks are actual quotes. The full press conference can be viewed on MGoBlue.com.

Recruiting the State of Michigan

Coach Rodriguez came back to this point 4 or 5 times during the press conference, which seemed fairly telling. A lot of the local papers have accused the new coaching staff of forsaking the state of Michigan in favor of Florida and other southern states in which the coaches had connections during their tenure at WVU (or, for many of them, South Florida).  On first look, that may  appear to be valid, since there are only 4 players in the class from Michigan, and MSU snagged the better half of the state’s top 10 recruits.

Rodriguez addressed this bluntly a few times. At one point he said “people who say we don’t recruit the state of Michigan are way off-base,” and  “it’s the first place we look.” He mentioned that Michigan is the place where the first targets on the board come from.  He also said that he’s not going to take a Michigan kid just because he’s from Michigan. They’re going after guys who fit their system, and they’ll look in Michigan first, and go national if they can’t find what they need in the home state.

One reason for the lack of commitments from kids in Michigan is that the coaching staff hasn’t had the time to develop the relationships with the high school coaches. Coach Rodriguez’s coaches clinics have a good reputation, so this should turn around quickly. Expect Michigan to push hard after the big name in state prospects (Devin Gardner, William Gholston, et al).

Effects of a 3-9 Season/Negative Recruiting

This was another recurring theme during the press conference.  He said that some of the recruits had some questions about the season and the issues that the team faced. The struggles made some people a little wary, but Rodriguez also said that because of some of the weaknesses on the team, he was able to promise every recruit the opportunity to come in and immediately compete and make an impact.

He also said that negative recruiting often comes back and bites the person spreading the rumors. One example he gave was southern schools trying to scare kids by talking about the weather in Michigan. A lot of kids from Florida were braced for an Arctic expedition only to find it wasn’t as bad as they thought.

Obviously Rodriguez didn’t name any specific coaches, but at the beginning of his statement he made a statement to the effect of “there was a lot of negative recruiting out there we had to fight through.” He kind of pulled back a little bit and said that, in general, most coaches don’t do any negative recruiting. Usually it’s a young, over-ambitious assistant trying to reach.

Rodriguez, predictably, stated in no uncertain terms that neither he, nor anyone on his staff recruit negatively. He said, “if you got a good enough program to sell, why bash someone else’s?” Also, as previously mentioned, there is a real chance of backlash when recruiting goes negative.


This got brought up more than once, a lot of times by the reporters asking questions. Rodriguez said he “wasn’t surprised by anything on Signing Day.” This may be spin, but it was apparent that he had a pretty good idea of what was going down, especially with the two defensive tackles. He basically conceded that a commitment from a kid who is still taking visits doesn’t really mean anything; you still have to recruit him hard, since the commitment basically doesn’t exist.

He also said 2 or 3 time that “sometimes you want people to decommit, sometimes you don’t.”  I’m pretty sure he didn’t want both DTs to decommit, but it makes sense in the case of Jordan Barnes, DeWayne Peace, and their ilk. The offer still stands, but the communication and constant salesmanship flags until eventually the recruit realizes he is no longer wanted, and chooses someone else.  Seems a bit ethically dubious, but better than the alternative of over-signing. Recruiting is, in essence, seamy, so it’s all shades of gray to a certain extent.

If you have any specific questions about Rich Rodriguez’s portion of the press conference, feel free to leave them in the comments.

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6 Comments so far

  1. J. Lichty says...

    To me the most aggravating new msm meme is taht Dantonio owns the state now because RR is ignoring it.

    While I think that is untrue, these are the same a-hole that if the team were made up of predominantly in-state guys and was losing over half their games would be screaming for them to upgrade their talent.

    Texas is one of the few schools taht is almost all in state guys. Even Florida had about half its class from out of state.

    In short, the only thing that will shut up the chattering class is sustained success on the field, free of scandal. Even then, it seems they will push some anti-RR theme that he is winning the wrong way.

    Dantonio is the new darling and the detroit media are going to make sure that as they spiral to irrelvance, that their boy gets elevated over the evil wizard with the snake oil.

  2. Griffin Fraley says...

    I guess my question would be this. I know RR stated in his presser that certain guys would start off at certain positions. Could you review this a little for guys on the fences such as Cam Gordon, ect.

  3. Paul says...

    That will probably be tomorrow. I kind of wanted to hit the big things in this post as I found them pretty interesting. You can really see what messages RRod wants to get out during his pressers.

    I can go through who will play what and who he tagged with “immediate impact.”

  4. CDubbs says...

    Really? Without the proper citations and references I cannot believe a thing Paul writes. This would never pass a peer review process.

  5. Paul says...

    Journalism isn’t peer-reviewed and blogging certainly isn’t. I’m not cocky enough to cite myself. I was there; all quotes were said by Coach Rodriguez; everything can be corroborated by the video of the press conference on MGoBlue.com. Really?

  6. Griffin Fraley says...

    I really hope that CDubbs was joking, because if he wasn’t…wow, just…wow. That would be a whole other level of dumb. Anyways, I’m patient enough to wait for your review on the players with positions and immediate impact and such. Thanks!

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