Michigan Defensive Coordinator – Syracuse’s former head football coach, who was fired Nov. 16, was hired Tuesday afternoon as Michigan’s defensive coordinator, quickly putting Robinson back on the sidelines after four years leading the Orange. The move completes a Syracuse-Michigan defensive coordinator swap. Scott Shafer, who SU hired as its new D-coordinator on Jan. 2, held the same title with the Wolverines last season.
Robinson last served as a defensive coordinator in 2004 with Texas and coached the defensive line at UCLA from 1982-1988. He also spent 14 years in the NFL, 10 of which as defensive coordinator for the Kansas City Chiefs (2001-2003), Denver Broncos (1995-2000) and New York Jets (1994). He also served as the Jets’ defensive line coach in 1993.
“Greg brings a wealth of experience as a defensive coordinator, both at the collegiate and professional level,” said Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez, who coached against Robinson in the Big East with West Virginia from 2005-2007, in a press release. “We are excited to have Greg, Laura and their entire family join our Michigan family. I know that Greg will work well with our defensive staff, entire football staff and players.”
Though Robinson enjoyed little success as a head coach, compiling a 10-37 record with the Orange, he has fared better as a defensive coordinator. He led the Broncos’ defense when they won consecutive Super Bowls in the 1996-1997 and 1997-1998 seasons.
Robinson takes over a Michigan defense that was ranked No. 67 in the country last season, allowing 366.9 yards per game. Shafer resigned on Dec. 16 after coordinating a defense that allowed 347 points in 2008 – the most in school history. The Wolverines finished 3-9.
Now, about two months after being fired by Syracuse, Robinson has a job again. At his final SU press conference on Dec. 2, a reporter asked Robinson if he expected to coach next season. Robinson laughed and ensured that he would. Apparently, he was right.
“Oh yeah. I’m going to coach. I’m going to coach football,” Robinson said at the press conference. “Are you kidding me?”
Cardwell speaks about de-commitment
Raheem Cardwell never was really sold on Syracuse. Although he committed to the Orange over the summer, he made it clear, essentially from the outset, that it was really more of a soft verbal.
Two weeks ago, about six months after originally giving his word to Syracuse, Cardwell de-committed. Reached by telephone Sunday evening, Cardwell explained why he put himself back on the market.
The main reason? Cardwell said former head coach Greg Robinson, who targeted him heavily from the beginning, had a much different sales pitch from new coach Doug Marrone – one that didn’t sit too well with him.
“With the new coach in and stuff, I wasn’t really familiar with him and didn’t really like the new defensive program,” said Cardwell, a two-star linebacker from Hyattsville, Md., according to Scout.com. “That didn’t work out too well.”
It appears Robinson and Marrone had different plans for how they intended to use Cardwell if he eventually joined the Orange. Cardwell said Robinson ensured him he would have a chance to play outside linebacker – the position he prefers. Marrone suggested he would be relegated to the inside.
“It wasn’t fitting for me. It didn’t fit with what I like. I wasn’t really feeling the program,” Cardwell said. “Coach Marrone said I would be a one-position linebacker. I would be an inside linebacker. I am more used to outside, and I like coming off the edge.”
Playing time was another important factor. Cardwell said he originally committed to Syracuse because Robinson stressed he would have a chance to play – or even start – as a freshman. Marrone didn’t outright refute that claim, but Cardwell said Marrone “implied” he would have to wait a year or two before seeing the field.
“Coming in as a freshman and being a starter, that was one of the things I was really looking for,” Cardwell said. “I wasn’t given that opportunity with coach Marrone. He didn’t say specifically I wouldn’t get to play right away, but it was basically what he was getting at.”
Cardwell first expressed concern about Syracuse in a story that appeared in The Daily Orange on Sept. 17, when he said the Orange’s recent struggles had him unsure about his commitment. On Nov. 16, the day Robinson was fired, Cardwell told The D.O. he was even more unsure, because of his loyalty to Robinson. When Marrone was hired, Cardwell said he wanted to meet the new coach before making a final decision.
Cardwell said he and Marrone met on Jan. 6 in Maryland. He de-committed later that day.
Cardwell said Toledo, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh have expressed interest, but he has not committed anywhere else yet.
“I think coach Robinson had other plans for me,” Cardwell said. “Coach Marrone liked me, but it wasn’t as much as coach Robinson. I didn’t feel as part of the plan. Football is football, that’s the way it is. Some coaches will like you, some not. That’s life.”