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GERG'ED: The Spin

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Ok, so I'm not about to go all "Rittenberg" on you and claim that this hire is an excellent, fail-proof strategy.  There are, quite simply, too many mitigating factors going into this to claim that GERG is fail proof.  Witness a 10-37 record as head coach of the Syracuse Orange.  And the defense from his reign?

Syracuse Defense National Rank 2008 2007 2006 2005
Scoring 102nd 104th 72nd 67th
Total 102nd 111th 107th 57th

I can't believe I used the words "mitigating factors" to describe this because, quite frankly, this is awful.  For a guy who was hired on his successes as a defensive coordinator both in the NFL and in the NCAA, this is...well...awful.  Indeed, his running of the Syracuse Orange sucked on a huge level; three of the four years of his tenure saw double-digit losses.  As you can plainly see, going "Rittenberg" and peppering you with puppies and flowers is probably not going to turn the tide of negative sentiment that is currently rushing into Ann Arbor.

But what the hell, let's try anyways.

Greg Robinson was hired to be our defensive coordinator.  Not our Head Coach.  The numbers referenced above reflect his utter incompetence at the head coaching level.  Not the coordinator level.  And, since we didn't hire him to become our Head Coach, then those numbers above don't really reflect adaquately on what we can expect from him as a coordinator. Orson at EDSBS referred to a principal when he he wrote his own "GERG" post called The Peter Principle.  It states, simply, that in any organizational hierarchy, a person will rise up the ladder of responsibility to the point where they can no longer perform the job.  At that point, the person as reached his ceiling within that structure, and will no longer be promoted.  Wikipedia yo:

The employee's incompetence is not necessarily exposed as a result of the higher-ranking position being more difficult — simply, that job is different from the job in which the employee previously excelled, and thus requires different work skills, which the employee usually does not possess. For example, a factory worker's excellence in his job can earn him promotion to manager, at which point the skills that earned him his promotion no longer apply to his job.

Robinson, as it turns out, was a damn fine factory worker.  However, when he was promoted to that managerial spot the set of skills required to be successful were different, and thus he failed.  Robinson, quite simply, rose to the level of his incompetence, and now is back down on the factory floor as a coordinator where his excellence was noticed enough to get him a shot at the Head Position in the first place - Dig?  See, Robinson didn't get the job at Syracuse for sucking as a defensive coordinator.  He got the job at Syracuse because he was really awesome at defensive coordinator, and the Orange apparently thought that he would be really awesome at being a head coach too.  Their mistake, to be sure, but the fact remains that we are getting a guy at defensive coordinator who was recognized as being a really awesome defensive coordinator.

Just how awesome was he?  

New York Jets Total Defense Scoring Defense
1994 22nd 14th

His one year with the Jets was middle-of-the-pack worthy.  Keep in mind that, at the time, there were only 28 teams in the league.  He then took over as the Broncos Defensive Coordinator:

Denver Broncos Total Defense Scoring Defense
1994 28th 25th
1995 15th 17th
1996 (expands to 30 teams) 4th 7th
1997 (SB Champs) 5th 6th
1998 (SB Champs) 11th 8th
1999 7th 11th
2000 24th 23rd

In 1994, the year before Robinson took over as defensive coordinator, the Broncos had arguably the worst defense in the league.  They were dead last in total, and floundering at 25th in scoring.  It took Robinson one year of mediocrity to start cranking out perennial top-10 units from 1996 to 1999, a span of time that included two Super Bowl rings.  Sure, the wheels fell off in 2000, but for the majority of the time that he was with the team, the defenses were eons above average.

He moved on to Kansas City where the results were not as impressive:

Kansas City Chiefs Total Defense Scoring Defense
2000 18th 19th
2001 23rd 23rd
2002 32nd 28th
2003 29th 19th

So, erm, his KC stint didn't quite go so well.  However, his 2003 team was good enough to win 13 games and the division, only to see his defense get torched by Peyton Manning and a Colts team that flat out didn't punt for the entire game.  Yikes.  There are lots of excuses one could use for his KC failure (My personal favorite is lack of personnel.  What's yours?), but the fact remains that this was a failure, and should be added into the "mitigating factors" mentioned above.

Finally, he ends up at Texas, coordinating a Longhorn's defense that was actually really good, 23rd in total defense and 19th in scoring defense.  That team, if you recall, beat Michigan in the Rose Bowl because we couldn't stop Vince Young.  Of course, they couldn't stop Breaston on kick returns or Edwards on offense (catching?).  Oh to move Shazor's arm just 2 inches to the right...I digress.

Either way, GERG wasn't, and isn't a bad defensive coordinator.  My guess is that if we were hiring this guy right from Texas without the Syracuse nonsense, then we'd be pretty excited to have him.  He is currently being held accountable for his failures as a head coach which, to reiterate, he was not hired at Michigan to be.  The majority (not all, however) of his stats as a defensive coordinator, both in the NFL and at the NCAA level suggest that he will be just fine as the Michigan Defensive Coordinator.

How's that for puppies and flowers?


**All NCAA stats from

**All NFL stats from