Burning Devin Gardner’s Redshirt a Bad Idea

Burning Devin Gardner’s Redshirt a Bad Idea


September 5, 2010


In the middle of the third quarter, during a 30-10 Michigan victory over UConn, quarterback Denard Robinson took off up the middle on one of his 29 carries. As he stretched for a first down, a defender put his helmet on Robinson’s left hip, Shoelace flew up in the air and landed on his left hip, and then a large Husky landed on Robinson’s right hip, driving his left hip harder into the ground. As Robinson squirmed in pain on the ground, Michigan fans’ hearts leapt to their throats.

Now imagine if you didn’t see the game or read the internet yesterday. If you were Coach Rich Rodriguez and forced to sub for Robinson, would you insert . . .

a) a sophomore who has 12 games of starting experience, 5 career victories as a starter, and 2,000+ yards passing to go along with 16 career touchdowns?

b) a freshman who has 0 games of starting experience, 0 career victories as a starter, no stats, and an opportunity to redshirt in order to preserve eligibility through 2014?

An objective reader would clearly choose letter “A.” Not Rodriguez, though. Despite surely knowing that Robinson’s injury was only minor and that he would probably be able to return to the game soon, Rodriguez left option “A” on the bench and told “B” to warm up.

Earlier in the week, Rodriguez told the media that Gardner probably wouldn’t redshirt in 2010. He had apparently soaked up the playbook and shown excellent leadership since his arrival on campus in January 2010. Meanwhile, Forcier’s leadership had been questioned repeatedly, most notably by Rodriguez and his coaching staff, who chose to force Tate to “earn his wings” at the beginning of fall practice; several student-athletes who hadn’t worked very hard in the offseason were given plain blue helmets and told they had to work to get them back.

Leaving Forcier on the bench was apparently the punishment levied for poor offseason habits. He was essentially suspended for the game. And while Forcier had been standing on the sidelines with his teammates up to that point, afterward the television cameras caught him sitting alone on the bench with towels wrapped around his face, clearly unhappy with the situation. It was not a mature moment from Forcier (why sulk away from your teammates during a 30-10 opening day victory?), but the cameras and broadcasters focused on him for entirely too long. I can’t say that I blame Forcier for being upset. I was, too. He shouldn’t have wandered off by himself and covered his head during a win, but he’s just barely 20 years old; expecting a 20-year-old to be great at hiding his emotions is asking a lot.

However, the choice by Rodriguez was questionable, perhaps even irresponsible and narrow-minded. For such a minor injury, it bordered on the ridiculous to send Gardner onto the field. An All-Everything recruit, he will now be unable to play in 2014, even if Michigan needs him. The only Michigan quarterback scheduled to be on the roster by then is Kevin Sousa . . . who is currently playing his senior year of high school and won’t sign a Letter of Intent until February 2011. And now Michigan has three excellent quarterback recruits spread over only two classes of eligibility. If everything remains as scheduled, Forcier and Robinson will continue the quarterback battle/drama through 2012, then Gardner will be the unquestioned starter in 2013, and who knows after that? Furthmore, it’s not so much the fact that Gardner burned his redshirt that frustrates me. It’s the way it was burned, for a mere two snaps, neither of which was critical.

And while coaches repeat the mantras “There’s no I in team” and “No one person is bigger than the program,” Rodriguez seemed to make this statement: “Doing things my way is bigger than the program.” It was punishment enough for 12-game starter Forcier that he didn’t start and was relegated to relief duty on Saturday. Plugging in Gardner for a mere two plays (a handoff and an awkward -4 yard keeper) was a virtual slap in the face. It said, “I’d rather sacrifice having a potential All-American quarterback in 2014 than put you in the game for two snaps.”

After the game the only quote Forcier permitted was “All you need to know is I’m out.” Family members quickly asserted that, No no no, he was just saying that he was leaving the stadium! Yeah, right. If those were the actual words that came out Forcier’s mouth, he’s either a very poor communicator or he had at least momentarily decided to transfer. Just like putting the towels on his head in front of camera feeds being broadcast nationally – and 113,000 fans – Forcier almost surely knew what message he was sending. It may have been an emotional reaction in the heat of the moment, but it was his reaction nonetheless. Whether Forcier actually departs remains to be seen, but it’s growing increasingly obvious that something has to give. Robinson is the starter but could play other positions. Gardner is apparently the #2, but he’s only a year behind Robinson. Forcier seems to be the odd man out and doesn’t have the ability to play another position, but he’s got the best resume so far. For one of the three, a change of positions or a transfer seems more likely today than it did prior to yesterday’s game.

The story/rumors of Forcier’s impending transfer highlighted what seems to be one of Rodriguez’s faults. Several Lloyd Carr-recruited players transferred away from Michigan after Rodriguez arrived, as well as several players who were recruited to Michigan by Rodriguez himself. Two players (Austin White and Justin Turner) have already transferred during fall camp. Forcier was a Rodriguez-only recruit. Hopefully he can manage Forcier’s personality and mold him into a good teammate and leader. But if these attitude issues continue and/or Forcier transfers, Rodriguez’s ability to recruit and judge character comes into question. Michigan can’t afford to lose too many more players, or else they run the risk of facing sanctions for not graduating enough players. Rich Rodriguez needs to recruit players that he can keep around for years, and he needs to manage the personalities of those he recruits. His my-way-or-the-highway attitude is fine, but only if he recruits players who can handle it.

53 comments

  1. Comments: 21388
    Sep 05, 2010 at 2:34 PM

    Seriously? I don't see any reasonable basis from yesterdays game to attribute: ": "Doing things my way is bigger than the program."" to RR

    I too question the DG decision, but its way too early in the season to pass judgment on this. While its obviously not the right decision to maximize the eligibility of the current roster, we can't look at it so simply. If DG really deserves to beat out TF (my faith in the staff's decisions remains shaky after Sheridan over Threet, but thats beside the point) isn't it only fair to give him the backup job. What kind of a message would it send to demote the better player after you always talk about competition. Maybe part of DG's recruitment was a promise to let him play in 2010. Maybe RR simply wants to reward DG for all his reported offseason activities.

    IMO, its legit to ask some questions at this stage, but making the kind of accusations being casually thrown around here is unfair to RR and the staff.

  2. Comments: 21388
    Sep 05, 2010 at 2:36 PM

    there should be "Its WAY TOO EARLY to say" option on the quiz.

    Its also completely ridiculous to say he burned the RS for "just two plays against uconn", that is unless you have some information that season is over.

    In which case……..wooo undefeated season

  3. Comments: 21388
    Anonymous
    Sep 05, 2010 at 2:36 PM

    I agree this is one of the most idiotic decisions that Rodriguez has made here, also it could have huge ramifications on the programs future as you point out. One question though, isn't a freshman allowed a handful of plays in the first game with the ability to still redshirt, not that it means he won't play again later.

  4. Comments: 21388
    Anonymous
    Sep 05, 2010 at 2:45 PM

    @ Anonymous

    I posted this in the game review comments but:

    From the NCAA's official website:

    You should know that NCAA rules indicate that any competition, regardless of time, during a season counts as one of your seasons of competition in that sport. It does not matter how long you were involved in a particular competition (for example, one play in a football game, one point in a volleyball match); you will be charged with one season of competition.

  5. Comments: 21388
    Anonymous
    Sep 05, 2010 at 2:51 PM

    This is making a whole lot about nothing and being extremely presumptuous. Gardner worked hard, so he gets to play. Rodriguez said it would happen, and it did. What is the problem with losing his redshirt now, when it's guaranteed he's going to lose it later anyway? Taking a few snaps like he did just helps him get his feet wet for the inevitable. If you are more worried about QB eligibility concerns in 2014 than you are for the first game in 2010, it's obvious that you're out of touch with reality and making drama where you can't find anything legitimate. You're embarrassing yourself with this tripe, and you should drop it.

  6. Comments: 21388
    Sep 05, 2010 at 2:53 PM

    Complaining about Vinopal and Dileo is just silly. Unlike DG, these arent 4 or 5 star players that you go out of your way to keep in the program as long as possible. Some people just aren't worth using a scholarship season on to keep around. You might as well complain about burning Teric Jones' red-shirt.

    Its worth remembering that Michigan has a fixed number of scholarships. Its a limited resource. When you use scholarships on people who don't play you're wasting a scarce resource. Yeah, sometimes it worth it to "invest" that scholarship for future returns. Other times, you have to get contributions where you can. If a slight and moderately talented freshman is the best guy for a specialized job, theres no reason to gripe about it. This isn't a Burgess or Harrison situation.

    DG…thats another story, but there too we don't know the full story.

  7. Comments: 21388
    Sep 05, 2010 at 3:00 PM

    I agree with you in that I didn't want to see Gardner burn a potential Red Shirt over this. I was hoping he would Red Shirt the year. I would have put in Tate, but when he didn't it said to me [fwiw] that there was something else going on here that the public isn't aware of. Maybe Tate is being disciplined. If that is the case it would be nice for everyone to know that but again that is a coaching decision.

    However, one thing came to mind with this move, and that is Coach Rod is playing all of his cards this year. He is not banking on Gardner not having field experience if he ever needed him later in the season which is possible if Tate leaves. RR needs to win "this year" and he may not be interested in saving Gardner for another head coach to use if he is fired. So he may be saying in essence, "I'll deal with 2014 when it comes, and if I'm here."

    I am also under the impression that Tate is very immature and needs to grow up. He needs to be under a coach that will help him to do that. Maybe that is why his dad is making him stay at Michigan. Anyone who plays for a high level D-1 team as you know, will have to compete with other atheletes that are as good if not better than you are. If you want a guaranteed starting position then transfer to Chittlen-Switch State College of Basketweaving & Hog Breeding. Sometimes having to fight for time on the field will make you grow up faster than you normally would have.

    Last point, Denard was just as competative last year and was a great team mate when Tate was starting and playing most of the games. Now that Denard has started his first game, it doesn't bode well for Tate to be sulking on the bench alone and saying, "I'm out" when the coach has him on the bench. He need to suck it up and support his team mates. He reminded me of Boo Boo when he did that. I hope he doesn't do the same foolish things.

  8. Comments: 21388
    Anonymous
    Sep 05, 2010 at 3:31 PM

    I also believe that there is a lot more to the story than meets the eye. Coach Rod is far from an idiot and he knew exactly what he was doing when he put Devin in instead of Tate. I assume that Tate did something behind closed doors that has caused this riff between the former starter and the coaching staff to grow. I do not think that it is based solely on him missing some off season workouts.

    It might be best for Tate to transfer because what ever he did or said to his coach has caused him to fall completely out of grace and he might not see the field all year.

  9. Comments: 21388
    Anonymous
    Sep 05, 2010 at 3:59 PM

    Dude, Magnus, how about feeling good after a big win for the program? 2014 is….wait for it…4 years from now! That situation will take care of it's self if we can get our program back on track. Right now, we need to throw the kitchen sink at our opponents and D.G. certainly has a skill set that Tate does not, which obviously is more to the coaches liking. I love your blog, man, but try to post something more "feel good" after a long offseason.

  10. Comments: 21388
    Blue in South Bend
    Sep 05, 2010 at 4:26 PM

    If DG only plays 10-12 non-garbage-time snaps this year, I will completely agree with you. But if the coaches think he will be able to play real, meaningful football, and he was going to play this year anyway, then why does it matter that he burned his redshirt with two plays in the opener?

    Bottom line; the decision to burn the redshirt can only really be accurately judged as the season unfolds.

  11. Comments: 21388
    Michael S
    Sep 05, 2010 at 5:51 PM

    I think we should give the coach the benefit of the doubt. He's been at practice, you haven't. It's the same thing I said to parents when they complained about playing time.

  12. Comments: 21388
    Anonymous
    Sep 05, 2010 at 6:53 PM

    I agree with you. Looks like a huge waste of a redshirt year for a guy who is not going to be a pro prospect anyways. If Robinson gets hurt and Gardner is the second string, then that means this will be the fourth year in a row where a freshman gets significant playing time at QB. Gardner is not going to help us win this year. Especially if all he does when he comes in is throw an ugly shotput interception, hand the ball off, or get tackled behind the line of scrimmage.

  13. Comments: 21388
    Anonymous
    Sep 05, 2010 at 7:14 PM

    it shouldnt matter if DG is worlds better than forcier. obviously RRod should have known it was a minor injury. u still need DG to redshirt his freshman year so he can be the man for 2 years instead of 1. at this point its fairly obvious that drob isnt going to lose his starting job to DG any time soon. on top of that you arent getting him any significant "pt" because hes ur #2 guy and incase of injury u want him to get PT(garret gilbert for texas last year). tate is good enuf to start at most colleges so why not put him in and save an additional YEAR for gardner. wat can gardner do that drob cant? is my question at this point. i would say tate is a better passer than gardner and drob is faster than gardner. gardners the mix of the two. hes not the compliment to drob. tate would b a much better compliment. i jsut dont see the point

    -horn

  14. Comments: 21388
    Anonymous
    Sep 05, 2010 at 7:51 PM

    Devin was told if he was good enough with the offense, he will get to play. He won the number 2 job, he worked his ass off, and he's being rewarded by getting to play this season rather that ride the bench.

  15. Comments: 21388
    Anonymous
    Sep 05, 2010 at 9:03 PM

    Between this post and you thinking that Tate was going to a better qb than Denard for this team, I have to say, I'm glad RR is our coach. You think Tate should've shown more class than to sulk on the bench after a 30-10 win? maybe you should show more class than second guessing the coach after a 30-10 win.

  16. Comments: 21388
    Anonymous
    Sep 05, 2010 at 9:07 PM

    Do you seriously think we are not going to get any other good qb's between now and 2014? It's college, you don't have to keep guys around forever. What if DG goes pro early? There are too many variables. You play with what you have and you expect to recruit great players. Do you SERIOUSLY think that after the performance that Denard had yesterday, and the stats he will accumulate at the position that we wont have dual threat qb's lined up to play for Rod? Don't overestimate Devin's importance too soon.

  17. Comments: 21388
    Anonymous
    Sep 05, 2010 at 9:29 PM

    Two points/questions for the 'blog owner:

    * I suppose Dileo was holding because he's used to having objects (like footballs) coming at him from all angles. Is it possibly that simple? I'd think you'd want someone with large (and, of course, good) hands at that position.

    * Is it not true that, in four weeks, the staff could discover some exotic DG injury and still redshirt him? Isn't there a limit of some sort that he hasn't yet passed?

  18. Comments: 21388
    Painter Smurf
    Sep 06, 2010 at 12:26 AM

    A couple points:

    1. Gardner came in a semester early. I'm sure the coaches encouraged it and told him he had a legit shot at starting or backing up. For a guy with Gardner's skills to come in early and still redshirt seems pointless.

    2. If Gardner has truly outworked Forcier during spring, summer, and fall camp, the coaches can't deny him the 2nd spot. This would send the completely wrong message and probably lead to morale issues and club house snickering. If the dude works his tail off and has lit it up, let him play.

    3. UM will need at least two QB's this year, or maybe three. It looks like the coaches will be riding Denard hard this year and it will require huge luck for him to remain injury free.

  19. Comments: 21388
    Sep 06, 2010 at 3:14 AM

    @ Lankownia 10:36 a.m.

    I'm not saying that Gardner will only play two plays the entire season. I'm saying he burned his redshirt for only two plays in this game. Jack Kennedy could have gone in, handed off the ball, lost four yards on the next play, and then turned it over to the punter. Hell, I could have done that, too. What was the point of putting in Gardner if Robinson wasn't seriously hurt?

  20. Comments: 21388
    Sep 06, 2010 at 3:17 AM

    @ Anonymous 10:51 a.m.

    I'm definitely more worried about 2014 eligibility than the first game of 2010, because the first game of 2010 was already mostly out of reach by the time Gardner went in. It wasn't a situation where Gardner's skills were needed to help win the game.

  21. Comments: 21388
    Sep 06, 2010 at 3:21 AM

    @ Lankownia 10:53 a.m.

    Wouldn't you rather have a fifth year senior in 2014 named Ray Vinopal or Drew Dileo than some random freshman with no experience? If you have other guys who can fill those roles (and Michigan should) this year, then there's no point in playing them. Even if they redshirt in 2010 but aren't to a level where they can contribute by the end of 2013, the coaches can decide not to give them a fifth year of eligibility. It's not like redshirting these kids this year locks them into a 5-year commitment.

  22. Comments: 21388
    Sep 06, 2010 at 3:27 AM

    @ Blue in South Bend 12:26 p.m.

    My issue isn't with Gardner redshirting/not redshirting. My issue is with the WAY in which his redshirt was burned. If he's going to play real, meaningful football, that's fine. Put him in for those real, meaningful moments.

    In the meantime, he shouldn't be inserted just to hand off the ball once and then lose four yards, only to hand the reins back over to Denard Robinson. Now if Denard is able to play every snap from now until the end of the season (unlikely, I know), the coaches won't even have the option to redshirt Gardner.

    It's like pulling the tags off a new pair of jeans just to look at yourself in the mirror. Even if the jeans don't fit or look ugly, it's too late to get your money back.

  23. Comments: 21388
    Sep 06, 2010 at 3:33 AM

    @ Anonymous 5:07 p.m.

    I don't know if we'll get any good quarterbacks between now and 2014. That's why I want to have the option of keeping a good QB around for as long as possible.

    Chad Henne was able to play as a true freshman in 2004 because of an injury to Matt Gutierrez. Let's say Henne was able to redshirt that year, though. Then he would have had the option of sticking around for the 2008 season. Now, he might not have stayed for 2008 due to the coaching change, but do you think Michigan was better off in 2008 with Sheridan/Threet, or would the team have been better with a fifth year senior in Henne? The answer is obvious.

  24. Comments: 21388
    Matt
    Sep 06, 2010 at 4:03 AM

    You're dead wrong here. Gardner came in and competed and earned the right to play. How can you sit there and act like you know what's best for the team? More so than the coaches (and players for that matter who all appear to support Denard and Devin over Tate)? Isn't getting experience for Devin now worthwhile in case of a major injury to Denard? You need to get over your love of Tate. While he's shown glimpse's of ability, it's a bit misleading to bring up his 2,000+ yards and 16 touchdowns and then leaving out his interception total. And don't bring up wanting Devin in 2014. It's 2010 we're in now. Did you notice any big name dual threat recruits interested in us this year? No, because we had those three on board. And if Devin redshirts, who's going to want to sign on next year? With the system RR is getting going, he'll have the pick of the dual threat litter every couple of years, therefore there's no reason to "save" a 5th year for Devin.

    Anyway, this post was stupid. I've been reading this site for the player countdown until kickoff and I think I'm done after this.

  25. Comments: 21388
    Sep 06, 2010 at 4:11 AM

    @ Matt 12:03 a.m.

    lol I like how you say that I'm "dead wrong here" for acting like I know what's best for the team…and then go on to pretend that YOU know what's best for the team.

    Ultimately, it's all opinion, isn't it? We're just on opposite ends of the spectrum. You think this was best for the team, and I don't.

    Regardless, I don't care that "it's 2010 we're in now." If getting two snaps against UConn is the difference between success and failure in 2010, then sure, it's important for Gardner to get those snaps.

    But do you honestly believe that him getting those two snaps will make much of a difference in 2010? I doubt it. Meanwhile, I'd rather have the option of playing a fifth year senior Devin Gardner in 2014 than, say, some sophomore or junior in 2014.

  26. Comments: 21388
    Oregon_Alum
    Sep 06, 2010 at 4:55 AM

    I wuould love to have DG as a RS. But the best have got to play. D-Hart and Chris Wormley are at this game. Every player who has spoken – has talked about DRob and DG doing the work. It speaks to the team.

    If RR intends to use DG going forward. Taking a real game snap in the Big House…you don't get too many freebies. This will take an edge off against ND if that is called for. Let this play out before passing judgment.

  27. Comments: 21388
    Anonymous
    Sep 06, 2010 at 5:03 AM

    The positives to playing Gardner for two not-so-meaningful snaps:
    1) Burning Devin's redshirt right away signals to Tate that he really won't be in the 2-deep by default, hopefully spurring harder work on Tate's part.
    2) Signals to team that nobody is above being bumped down the depth chart for transgressions.
    3) Signals to top-flight recruits that RR is very serious about letting you compete for a job early.
    4) Allows Devin to take real (if not all that critical) snaps in front of 110,000 still-hyped people, hopefully easing nerves for likely more important action later in year.
    5) Possibly fulfills a conditional promise that RR may have made to Gardner (i.e. work hard and show improvement and you'll be in the mix from the start).

    I'm a bit more ambivalent about how RR might be managing his relationship with Tate (though of course I have no idea what the internal dynamics are), but I have no problem with Devin's redshirt coming off now, given the above and the strong likelihood that he would have seen action later in the year anyway.

  28. Comments: 21388
    Sep 06, 2010 at 5:15 AM

    @ Anonymous 1:03 a.m.

    1) By all accounts, Tate had received the message prior to Saturday. Players, as well as insiders, had intimated that Forcier had stepped up in the past couple weeks of practice.

    2) That message should have been driven home by the fact that last year's 12-game starter was benched in favor of Robinson.

    3) If Rodriguez is playing kids just to send messages to future recruits, his priorities are out of whack.

    4) The effect on Gardner of getting two snaps is probably negligible, although not completely irrelevant.

    5) Just because Gardner's "in the mix" doesn't mean he has to take two snaps.

    Like I said, I don't have a huge problem with the fact that Gardner burned his redshirt. The thing that concerns me more is that if it's going to be burned, then Gardner should have been given more time. Up by 20 and trying to get some experience for a freshman, why not put him in for the final one or two drives?

  29. Comments: 21388
    Andrew
    Sep 06, 2010 at 5:53 AM

    Magus, you say, "I don't know if we'll get any good quarterbacks between now and 2014." I bet we will — but only if we succeed in 2010. That is why we must exhaust all of our resources THIS season. Michigan Football is at a fragile state; the program is not in a position to "save for the future."

  30. Comments: 21388
    Anonymous
    Sep 06, 2010 at 7:09 AM

    RR should have used Tate or even Jack Kennedy for those two plays. He basically USED Gardner as a tool just to show Tate that his "poor offseason habit" were not up to snuff to whatever RR wanted. Offseason is called offseason for a reason. So basically the message that I have gotten is that RR needed to use Tate as a bridge from the poor 2008 season to the 2009 season and once RR got what he wanted out of Tate, he now can discard him.

  31. Comments: 21388
    Anonymous
    Sep 06, 2010 at 7:09 AM

    Magnus is spot on with his commentary about this situation

  32. Comments: 21388
    Sep 06, 2010 at 10:34 AM

    @ Andrew 1:53 a.m.

    Michigan's success in 2010 has NOTHING TO DO WITH GARDNER PLAYING TWO SNAPS. That was not the difference in the game. We could have put in Jack Kennedy or Jeremy Gallon at QB for those two plays and still come away with a comfortable victory.

    This wasn't about success in 2010. It was about teaching Tate Forcier a lesson.

  33. Comments: 21388
    Gorgonzola
    Sep 06, 2010 at 12:19 PM

    RR has shown that he can get a QB ready to run his system in short order. He has 3 recruiting classes left to plug the void when Gardner leaves. How do we know that Gardner will even stay four years? Also, with a pack of wolves nipping at his heals, you can't blame RR for using all the rounds in his chamber.

  34. Comments: 21388
    Blue in South Bend
    Sep 06, 2010 at 12:46 PM

    I suppose my point was that if the coaches had already decided he was going to play this year (which seems pretty clear), they can essentially treat him like a kid without a redshirt. So it doesn't much matter that his first snaps were somewhat of a 'waste.' To use your analogy, it's like taking the tags off the jeans to put them in the drawer once you get home. Sure, you can no longer return them, but you've already decided to keep them, so what does it matter when you blow the ability to return them?

    And frankly, if you're looking to ease a kid into game action, why not have him run a couple of zone reads at the end of a quarter, with a big lead and the starter ready to come back?

  35. Comments: 21388
    Blue in South Bend
    Sep 06, 2010 at 12:52 PM

    Though I should clarify, if this turns out to be the only action Gardner sees, and he burned the redshirt just to "teach Tate a lesson" or something like that, then I'll lead the trip down to Ann Arbor Torch and Pitchfork.

  36. Comments: 21388
    Anonymous
    Sep 06, 2010 at 1:23 PM

    I think it was a piss poor way to manage Tate, and we are going to need him this year.
    Tom C

  37. Comments: 21388
    Gorgonzola
    Sep 06, 2010 at 1:31 PM

    If RR found the cure for cancer his critics would say he's putting morticians out of business.

  38. Comments: 21388
    Sep 06, 2010 at 3:41 PM

    "I'm not saying that Gardner will only play two plays the entire season. I'm saying he burned his redshirt for only two plays in this game."

    I find these two statements to be incongrous. Gardner is "burning his redshirt" for the totality of his 2010 performance, not for the single game in which his status was officially determined.

    " I could have done that, too. What was the point of putting in Gardner if Robinson wasn't seriously hurt? "

    When your starter is hurt you bring in your backup. End of story. RR had already made the decision re: DG's redshirt. He's going to play. RR said so last week. Why hold him out against UConn if he's going to play against ND, UMass, etc.

  39. Comments: 21388
    Sep 06, 2010 at 3:51 PM

    "If you have other guys who can fill those roles (and Michigan should) this year, then there's no point in playing them."

    I disagree. If you're playing your best guys you have a better chance to win, even if you assume the improvement is marginal. I trust the coaches to play the best guys.

    "Wouldn't you rather have a fifth year senior in 2014 named Ray Vinopal or Drew Dileo than some random freshman with no experience?"

    Probably not. I don't want to miss out on better recruits. There's an opportunity cost to using scholarships on marginal players. I'd rather have Carvin Johnson than John Ferrera. I'd rather have Devin Gardner than Nick Sheridan. I'd rather have Cullen Christian than the 2012 version of Teric Jones.

    Put yourself in RR's shoes when thinking about 2014.

    Scenario A: Win in 2010 and 2011 and pick whatever 4 and 5 stars you want in 2013 and 2014.

    Scenario B: Lose in 2010 and 2011 and save your redshirts for….oh wait, you'll already be fired.

    When you're "on the hotseat" you can't fuss too much about 4 years down the road. Too much can happen between now and then.

    "the coaches can decide not to give them a fifth year of eligibility. It's not like redshirting these kids this year locks them into a 5-year commitment. "

    An excellent point. The flexibility is valuable. That said, nothing prevents DG from being redshirted in 2011 or 2012 (when DR and TF are both seniors). Clearly, RR thinks DG is the 2nd best QB on the roster right now. That may change in the future.

  40. Comments: 21388
    Sep 06, 2010 at 4:03 PM

    Everyone agrees its better to have a 5th year senior stud than not, but there are other factors to consider. The issue with this post is that it uses faulty logic (that these two plays were the only two that determined the RS decision), ignoring both past information (RR said the decision had already been made in advance)and future events (the rest of the season). If we knew for a fact that DG wouldn't play another down your take would be appropriate. Obviously, we don't know that. A backup will almost certainly be needed and the coaches think their 2nd best QB is DG.

    The bigger issue I have is that you take this flawed argument and run with it to make some nasty allegations about RR. Thunder, as a fan of your site I say this with all due respect… this is beneath you.

  41. Comments: 21388
    Anonymous
    Sep 06, 2010 at 8:13 PM

    Thunder…

    Yeah Threet and and Sheridan weren't great options at qb but lets remember what happened. We had Ryan Mallett…and had their not been a coaching change he would've been our qb. That's not a great example for your argument.

  42. Comments: 21388
    Sep 06, 2010 at 8:21 PM

    @ Lankownia

    It's not faulty logic. The logic is sound: If you're going to burn a stud freshman's redshirt, do it when he actually has a chance to get better.

    That's all I'm saying. Burning it against UConn was fine if Rodriguez wanted to get him experience . . . just put him in for the final drive or two as well. Don't just play him for two plays.

    Gardner is NOT the second-best QB. Not at this point in his career. He's just not. Forcier is better right now. This decision was based almost entirely on teaching Forcier a lesson, which I think went too far.

  43. Comments: 21388
    Sep 06, 2010 at 8:24 PM

    @ Anonymous 4:13 p.m.

    Many reports indicate that Mallett was gone to Arkansas whether Carr returned or not.

    Regardless, what's your point? A fifth year senior in Chad Henne would have been ahead of a sophomore Mallett on the depth chart, anyway.

  44. Comments: 21388
    Anonymous
    Sep 06, 2010 at 8:39 PM

    Sorry Magnus, I don't follow the logic of your last statement. If RR truly wanted to teach Tate a lesson he would have brought in Kennedy (or Gallon) for those two snaps. Then there would have been no doubt Tate was being punished rather than simply passed up on the depth chart.

  45. Comments: 21388
    Anonymous
    Sep 06, 2010 at 8:42 PM

    "This decision was based almost entirely on teaching Forcier a lesson, which I think went too far." – was your statement I reffered to.

  46. Comments: 21388
    Anonymous
    Sep 06, 2010 at 9:45 PM

    Magnus- can we acknowledge that one of two scenarios occurred?

    Either 1) RR made the decision to discipline Tate prior to the game and leave him on the bench no matter what happened (something which Tate's father alludes to) or 2) DG is simply the #2 quarterback on the depth chart (which I know you have stated is impossible in your view but ToB's blog paints a slightly different picture). In either case, I cannot see how RR cannot be said to have made the correct decision. As a football coach yourself, I am sure you understand the importance of discipline and team morale and establishing and enforcing structure. To not adhere to planned disciplinary action would be counterproductive for everyone on the team. In addition, assuming Tate was being disciplined, Kennedy should not have been inserted since it is important for DG to get as many reps as possible, as it appears that DG is expected to contribute this year (something I trust the coaches' judgment on). I guarantee that DG will have taken more than 2 snaps by the end of the season. As for your argument that DG should then have been given one or two series, unfortunately Denard still needs as many reps as he can get, especially at this point in the season going into the ND game. Remember just a few days ago we would have doubted that such a performance by Denard was ever possible and believe me, there will be ups and downs this season with Denard. Therefore, this was not the game to provide DG with reps other than as required by injury. Those games will come- likely against UMass to start with.

    Let's give the coaches some credit for operating and executing in an extremely challenging environment and delivering. Let's assume they have a plan.

  47. Comments: 21388
    Anonymous
    Sep 06, 2010 at 10:07 PM

    Magnus, you said: "It's not faulty logic. The logic is sound: If you're going to burn a stud freshman's redshirt, do it when he actually has a chance to get better."

    That's all I'm saying. Burning it against UConn was fine if Rodriguez wanted to get him experience . . . just put him in for the final drive or two as well. Don't just play him for two plays."

    This is absolutely faulty logic. Your statements make it sound as if because RichRod put Gardner in for two plays of the UConn game – thereby burning his redshirt – he can no longer put him in during situations this season "when he actually has a chance to get better." Rich Rod certainly can do that, and presumably will, against lesser opponents against whom the game is well in control in the 4th quarter. And if Rich Rod is going to do that later in the season – and there is every indication that he will – then who cares whether the FIRST time he put Gardner in was for two snaps against UConn? As for giving Gardner MORE plays against UConn, despite the score, the game was still in doubt in the 4th quarter, and when the starting QB was available, he had to play.

    Your problem appears to be that Rich Rod burned Garnder's redshirt at all. I actually agree with you, but what happened on Saturday wasn't really surprising. When Gardner came in in the Spring Rich Rod told everyone that he would compete for the starting job, and that he hadn't been recruited to redshirt. Rich Rod reiterated during fall practice that Gardner wouldn't redshirt, and there were reports on Saturday morning that Gardner was the backup QB, with Tate as the third string. So I don't get why the "two plays" against UConn is causing all of this caterwauling. We knew this was coming.

    As for these statements: "Gardner is NOT the second-best QB. Not at this point in his career. He's just not," you just don't know that. That is your opinion, and I certainly understand upon what that opinion is based, the Michigan coaching staff is in a far better position than you are to make that determination, and frankly, has far more at stake in getting that call right. And while Tate was great last year, the fact of the matter was that his two best games were his first two games of the season, when he had the exact same amount of practice/college experience as Gardner has now. He didn't get appreciably better as the season progressed (and I understand he was injured, but still), and so I don't see why it's totally out of the realm of possibility that Gardner – who came in with a higher recruiting profile than Tate, and a skill set more tailored to what Rich Rod wants to do – might in fact be the better QB right now.

  48. Comments: 21388
    Sep 07, 2010 at 1:51 AM

    @ Anonymous 6:07 p.m.

    You're not understanding what I'm saying. Those two snaps against UConn had little to no effect on Gardner's development. Yes, he will have more chances to play/get better later in the season. But what if Forcier steps it up this week and passes Gardner on the depth chart? If Robinson and Forcier can handle all the snaps for the remainder of the season, then Gardner has still burned his redshirt.

    The Michigan coaching staff IS in a better position to make that determination. You are correct. However, that doesn't mean they're right. They were in a better position to determine the starting QB between Threet and Sheridan, and they originally went with Sheridan, didn't they?

    Gardner and Forcier had similar recruiting profiles. Gardner was ranked higher, and he certainly has more athletic ability. But both were high 4-star types.

    You mention that Gardner has the same amount of experience as Forcier did in 2009, but that situation was less than ideal. As a rule, freshman quarterbacks are NOT GOOD. And Gardner has not looked great in the public scrimmages, as he's made several bad decisions. So while Gardner has been in the program for 8 full months and makes silly mistakes, Forcier has been in the system for 20 months and played 12 games in his career.

    I am very confident in my statement that Forcier is a better quarterback RIGHT NOW than Gardner. Again, I think Gardner has a higher ceiling and will be great, but not yet.

  49. Comments: 21388
    Sep 07, 2010 at 2:01 PM

    "But what if Forcier steps it up this week and passes Gardner"

    But what if Gardner steps it up this week and passes Robinson.

    You're making major assumptions about events that will happen in the future. The bottom line is you can't just assume the worst case scenario (or best case for your argument's sake) and ignore all other scenarios.

    You're mad about HOW the redshirt was burned without knowing how it was burned.

  50. Comments: 21388
    Mike
    Sep 07, 2010 at 2:25 PM

    I initially agreed that burning DG's redshirt was a poor decision. However, perhaps RR knows that Tate is going to transfer and he wants DG to get game experience this year in preparation for next year. In 2011, UM will have 4 QBs. DRob, Tate, DG and Sousa. My guess before the season was that if Tate won the job, DRob would switch to WR in 2011. If DRob won the job, which he clearly has, Tate would transfer in 2011. I actually think it would be in his best interest to transfer after this year. He's going to be pushed back on the depth chart next year. He could start somewhere else, being older and wiser, and less dramatic.

    2011: Tate transfers, DRob is the starter and DG is the backup with a few games of experience.

  51. Comments: 21388
    Sep 07, 2010 at 2:41 PM

    @ Lankownia

    "But what if Gardner steps it up this week and passes Robinson."

    That's fine. That's great. If Gardner plays well enough in practice to pass Robinson and be the starter, then he should be the starter.

    In the meantime, he shouldn't have been given two snaps while Robinson went to the sideline due to a bruised hip.

  52. Comments: 21388
    Anonymous
    Sep 07, 2010 at 9:14 PM

    It is this simple. He earned the right to play and the decision was made weeks ago that he was not going to redshirt. What is so difficult to understand? We will see more of him this season so it doesn't matter that he took two irrelevant plays on this game. Some people just try to find the bad in everything. I pitty you.

  53. Comments: 21388
    Anonymous
    Sep 12, 2010 at 4:55 AM

    Rich Rod is a vindictive idiot. He screwed Gardner to spite Forcier.

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