So I went over to the Columbus’ 97.1 The Fan website to find the audio of Rich Rodriguez’s call today, and stumbled on this.  Jamie Morris, Michigan football legend, WTKA Sunday radio host and most importantly an official within the U-M athletic department spoke to the Columbus host (Bruce Hooley…Chris Spielman was away) about the upcoming Ohio State game, but also answered a few questions about Rodriguez and Jim Harbaugh.

My frustration with Morris on WTKA is that he’s been such a company man towing the company line on WTKA, that it’s prevented him from offering actual opinions.  But give this is listen as Morris gets candid.

I don’t know if this is just Jamie measuring his words, but he didn’t exactly serve up a wild endorsement of Rodriguez and admitted that Harbaugh would be welcomed back to U-M if he were the Michigan football coach at some point beyond RR’s tenure.  It’s not so much what he said, but that Morris never says anything remotely beyond the company line.

Give this a listen, it gets interesting about 3 minutes in:

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Notes/Quotes:

  • For starters, he referred to Harbaugh as “Jimmy” instead of “traitor”.
  • Hooley asked for a general sense of the radio caller support for Rodriguez.  Morris: “I think we’re at a 50/50 split now…”
  • When asked about whether he’d support anybody as coach (as a Michigan man), and whether he supports this Michigan coach.   Morris pauses and says, “I believe in Michigan.”  He added, “I’m in favor of him.  I believe in Rich Rodriguez and I believe in Michigan.  So I’m lining up behind him and I’m going to go with him and I’m going to believe in him and I’m looking for a big Michigan victory.”
  • Morris is asked about whether the former players support Rodriguez.  Morris: “You know what? The guys respect the position.  A lot of guys that I played with, the guys I talk to..they played for Bo Schembechler so they respect that position.”
  • Then there was this:

Hooley: “Do you think if Michigan loses the game Saturday, do you see any way Rich is not there next year?” 

Morris: “[long pause] You know that’s tough.  You know what?  I think what people want is Michigan football.  They want hard fought plays.  They want a team that goes out there and that performs at the highest level and give everything they got, win or lose.  And then you just let the chips fall where they may.”

Hooley: “Do you think that’s what they’re getting now?”

Morris: “Well…[pause]…not all the time Bruce.  I don’t think so but I’ll tell you what..”

Hooley: “It’s hard to say that when they are 1-6 in the Big Ten I’m sure.”

Morris: “Right.  It’s tough.  But you know what?  Are they getting better?  Yes.  Do I see them getting better?  Yes.  But I’m not your typical fan.  I’m not the guy that’s going to be watching for the long plays and everything.  I’m watching the guys up front; I’m seeing what they’re doing.   I know what we have and I know what these guys are capable of doing.”

Morris:  “Jim Harbaugh is the head football coach for Stanford.  If we were to go a different direction and Jim Harbaugh becomes the Michigan coach, he’d be a welcome addition.  But right now, it’s Rich Rodriguez.  It’s Rich Rodriguez right now and that’s who we’re behind.  So, if you want to talk about Jim Harbaugh, I think Jim Harbaugh’s doing a wonderful job at Stanford and like you say, he’s beat USC two out of the three years he’s been there, which is great.  Makes great for the resume.  But until Rich Rodriguez is fired, or he resigns or whatever, I’m not going to talk about Jim Harbaugh being in the Michigan family as the head football coach, but he was a great quarterback here.”

Hooley:  “If Rich was fired, would Harbaugh be a popular choice?”

Morris: “Oh, without a doubt.  Sure.  He’d be dynamic, he’d do the things like you said…Jim’s a go-getter.  But like I said, Jim Harbaugh’s worried about making it to the Rose Bowl from the Pac 10 side.”

Interesting comments from J-Mo.  The biggest thing that got me, maybe shocked me, was hesitation and in the end, non-response when asked about the possibility of RR not returning.  If nothing else, it looks his feud with Harbaugh (Morris in 2007 “He used to have a contact here at the Athletic Department, but obviously he doesn’t anymore.”) is over.

13 Comments

  1. I’m not sayin’, I’m just sayin’…kinda weird man.

  2. Right on Biggie…

    also, Ricky Leach has been awfully quiet lately.

  3. All I can say is “What’s your deal!?..what’s your deal!?”

  4. Yeaaaahh Baby.! Lets bring it on…get back to Michigan Football: Hard Nosed and Disciplined.

  5. i’d be surprised if RR wasn’t back for next season considering MSC and BM have both said that he’s not going anywhere.

  6. Jamie had to be careful in what he said. As the Harbaugh example (sadly) highlights: “family” at Michigan can be a fickle thing. I mean of course that J. H. was just being outspoken as always and MAY even have been thinking his comment about Michigan athletic / academics would be seen as a signal that he’d be interested in coming back as head coach – one who would uphold academic standards. But noooo, the reaction was entirely hostile. So much for accepting criticism from within the Michigan family.

    As for Coach Rod: I think everyone’s wavering now – after the loss to Illinois, especially so. But that’s kinda crazy: since it looks like everyone has forgotten that this team is 80% freshmen, the “youngest” team in the Big Ten. You don’t get “senior results” from guys who are pushed into starting positions in college while they’re still eighteen. It’s not gonna happen. Forget it.

    Just look at the history of HCs at Mich. – When Bo came, he was coming from an Ohio school and had been Woody’s assistant. ONLY his upset over OSU in ’69 prevented him being targeted as Coach Rod is today. Then Mo got fired – and Lloyd Carr got appointed. Wow – that was the first time I saw “mob psychology” at work in Ann Arbor: people were shooting pellet guns as the Athletic Dept. windows. And the criticism was muted but never stopped even tho L.C. gave Michigan its first national championship in fifty years.

    So Michigan isn’t as united as they like to pretend and they have their faction of hothead, tin-foil hat wearers always waiting for a chance to start sniping. It’s that group (or type) which is responsible for this feeding frenzy of attacks on Coach Rod. Go over to the comments on AnnArbor.com:you’ll see these people taking RR’s clear statements and turning them around to “prove” their points. Everything RR says or does is misrepresented by these “critics.”

    Sometimes though, it makes ya want to giggle: seeing these so-called adults throwing tantrums like they were three years old. But I hate to think that they ever get through to the players: it could possibly end up with some leaving or in later years saying they were sorry they ever went to Michigan.

    Last but not least: It’s not within rational possibility that Michigan could benefit by firing Coach Rod this season or next. There is NO alternative but to stay on course and let RR do his thing through 2010. No other coach is going to want to enter the snake pit we’re seeing right now at Michigan and it’s very improbable that any coach could “turn around” the program in less than an additional two years. All those freshmen will be juniors before they’ll perform at the level that’s expected, anyway.

    I’m not a Michigan alum, but my wife got her masters here and our daughter started her first class at U of M while still a high school senior back in ’94. Ann Arbor and the U of M have been very good for us, and that is all that counts when it comes to deciding which side I’m on.

    • Tru- Well said, I agree that it doesn’t make sense to remove Rodriguez this year or maybe even next. I’ve said this many times, but barring a major NCAA violation it doesn’t make sense.

  7. TruBlu:
    Bo’s team lost to MSU that first year–he said it taught him the importance of that game, and he never lost to them twice in a row–but otherwise, they had steady improvement, toughness, and character. I was 1 year old so I base it on what I have read.

    But it is in sharp contrast to RR. Bo came in stressing fundamentals, not a system which did not fit the players (i.e. blocking, no turnovers, linemen in correct stance, etc). RR came in and imposed a system on players he could not have possibly recruited given the change, and it is obviously tough to learn, tough to supply personnel for, and the results have shown. These players need to be coached up on how to play football–not how to play some gimmicky system.

    So, I disagree that Bo needed that 69 win else he would have been ridden out of town. As it is, he was guaranteed the Rose Bowl before the OSU game, regardless of outcome. What is the current team doing–hoping to get to the Little Caesar’s Bowl? Yikes.

  8. @wildeyedWolvie

    Right on!!! You coach PLAYERS… not a SYSTEM.

  9. In regards to fundamentals on defense, mainly tackling, weren’t we having major issues with this prior to Rich Rod’s arrival? I remember watching DBs and safeties getting torched with players who weren’t all that bad talent-wise. And back then, weren’t you alloted more practice time so you could focus on fundamentals while practicing for an opponent (this isn’t a rhetorical question, I’m just wondering if this was the case)? I think the momentum of the defense’s deteriorating execution started with Lloyd and carried over into Rich Rod’s regime. For me, Rich Rod’s “crime” is that he hasn’t been able to fix what has been broken for awhile. That doesn’t excuse him; it’s just one reason I’m willing to give him another season or two.

    • always enjoy your comments. I’ll add, the funny thing to me, I actually think we’ve improved our tackling over the past few years. We’re still missing tackles, sometimes it’s horrifying, but I actually think fundamentally we’re a tad better.

      What’s gotten worse is that we don’t have guys anywhere near the receiver or at times, the ball carrier. At the point of impact we’ve been ok, especially in the open field. Pursuit angles are horrible and they don’t seem to understand the concept of keeping contain on the outside on D or in special teams.

  10. Everybody knows true freshman (Henne, A-Train) can never excel and Lloyd left nothing in the cupboard (Graham, Donovan, Mesko) for RR to build on.

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  14. @BIll45

    Wow, three players (one a punter). That’s a loaded cupboard, all right!