America number one. Weird experience last night: watched a sporting event and had the team I wanted to win the game actually, you know, win it. This was the Orange Bowl, where Iowa beat Georgia Tech to give the league four wins over top 15 opponents, two BCS wins, and a winning bowl record. This will reduce the number of offseason Clay Travis columns that erroneously cite the SEC's big pile of money—the Big Ten's pile is essentially equivalent—as the reason they're fielding teams full of Terminators against the rest of college football's Hello Kitty dolls. There are now 26 scheduled instead of 180.
So thanks for that, Iowa. I'm glad that when From The Rumble Seat asked me for my best Iowa-related smack talk I demurred because the only thing I hate about Iowa is the fact that they lose to Iowa State more than they should. I hate Iowa State with a passion unknown to man.
Also, Ricky Stanzi takes up the banner J Leman first gloriously thrust upon the shores of the blogosphere:
America. #1. Big Ten. Love it or leave it. Photoshop wizards: can a brother get a Leman/Stanzi 2012 poster around here?
So… you're wise. Michigan legend and extremely old guy Red Simmons turned 100 a couple days ago, which means he's seen a considerable amount of things in his day. I wonder if he feels like Windle Poons, who was a 133 year-old magician in a couple of Discworld novels*. Poons felt like he had been old for the vast majority of his life, and that seemed unfair. This random biographical tidbit, even moreso than competing against Jesse Owens or helping Joe Louis get in shape, best sums up just how long Simmons has been around:
When his grades slipped, Simmons was given a second chance after track coach Lloyd Olds and dean of men James "Bingo" Brown - who was also the state boxing commissioner - asked the university's president to give Simmons a second chance.
During the meeting, Bingo—the dean of men!—chewed on a stogie and crankily took a phone call about some Italian kid with a bruised brain. In keeping with the traditions of the time, Bingo—man dean!—suggested the kid be sold for his meat.
There's also transcripts for the video-averse. Other Red, you are on notice:
On men’s hockey Coach Red Berenson’s recent birthday: Well, he’s just 70 or so, what the hell is that? [laughs] I always say, ‘Oh, to be 80 again!’
Braylongate II. So, yeah, Braylon Edwards did this on the Sunday Night Football introductions:
Everyone on the planet immediately interpreted this as a shot at Rich Rodriguez, including yrs truly. But Braylon says it isn't so:
"Last night during my pre-taped introduction, as a way of paying tribute to Coach Carr, I indentified myself as being from 'Lloyd Carr's University of Michigan,'" Edwards said. "I had no intention of showing any disrespect to Coach Rich Rodriguez.
"I love the University of Michigan and will always be loyal to its coaching staff past, present and future."
I believe him; when I had my usual segment on WTKA on Monday Ira Weintraub came in and mentioned that Stan Edwards had called the station up wishing to clarify that. A number of other players, including Tom Brady, have made comments far less ambiguous ("ugly") about the current state of the program and have not rushed to make sure people didn't misinterpret their comments.
Not that any of this matters at all. Rodriguez will either win or he won't. That's basically what Dhani Jones said on Jim Rome…
“Up to this point it really hasn’t been that good of a job at all,” Jones said. “But then you have to look at the perspective of how long it takes for a class to change over to be his class. There’s a lot of different things, but as a Michigan man you expect things to be changed in an instant. Sometimes you have to have a little bit more patience.
“Two years, my patience is running a bit thin. So next year it’s going to be really a qualifying or disqualifying year for his ability as a coach to get the program in the right direction. And I don’t think many people will stand for it if he doesn’t do a good job next year.”
That's one version of everyone's take, isn't it? Everyone basically says real improvement, yardage parity-ish, and something like eight wins from a 13 game schedule, give or take one based on context. He'll either do that or he won't. The rest is noise.
I really, really don't care about whether Rich Rodriguez should be fired or not. Short of a bomb from the NCAA, he'll get a shot to turn things around. So all this stuff about factions and statements from former players and everyone's opinion on the program is the verbal equivalent of Badger Badger Badger. It's mildly diverting noise containing zero information that's turned annoying from overexposure.
A light at the end of the ridiculous tunnel. This has sat in a tab for almost a month now but no one else has taken up this incredibly critical issue so here goes: when Michigan switched over to Coke something horrible happened. All the fountains at Yost and Crisler were replaced by little refrigerators with 20-ounce bottles in them that sell for four dollars each*. The list of things that I would do before paying four dollars for a bottle of Diet Coke includes "cut off own toes" and "attempt to survive ten minutes in a cage with Brandon Graham."
I'll happily pay the same amount for a fountain drink, though. As a result I spend most of one intermission at Yost fighting through the crowds to the one place that will sell me one. This makes no sense but approximately 20% of the population is nodding fervently right now, which is distressing for the people who aren't reading this post and think they're having a stroke.
Anyway, the current regime might get thrust to one side in favor of a different corporation with an equally silly name:
…University of Michigan officials are selecting a concessionaire for that facility, plus Michigan Stadium, Crisler Arena and venues for baseball, softball, soccer and track.
Incumbent V/Gladieux Enterprises of Toledo, Ohio, is competing for a long-term contract against Aramark, Sodexo and Boston Culinary Group, which submitted a bid before it announced its merger with Centerplate in November. …
Michigan expects to select a food provider by February, Winters said.
I emailed Bruce Madej if this meant a return of fountain drinks—this is life and death, people—and his reply was vague and noncommittal. I thought I detected a playful wink-wink nudge-nudge we'll-get-it-fixed but that could be wishful thinking on The Issue of Our Time.
BONUS! The main section of that article is about Notre Dame's new hockey rink and how the design is modeled after Yost.
*(I think they've unplugged it now but for the first few games they did this literally feet from the regular old Yost vending machine that offered the same product for $1.50.)
Increase the pain. At The Sporting Blog I make a case that the NCAA should shoot down USC's proposed basketball sanctions in favor of a tourney ban starting two years from now, a removal of transfer penalties for current players, and long-term scholarship reductions. (Mea culpa: the post exaggerates how bad Michigan was in their tourney-ban year.) Delaying penalties like that would be less harsh on players who did nothing wrong and harsher on the adults that lost control of the program, and who doesn't like that idea?
Etc.: GS riffs on the house divided meme in the aftermath of Braylongate II. There is a book that actually offers up "Five Very Good Reasons To Punch A Dolphin In The Mouth" that I assume BOX will immediately buy many copies of. Crisler is going to get some boring-sounding but necessary renovations before a (currently hypothetical but probable) second round of stuff you can actually perceive.
Tim sat in on the call this morning and scribbled a bunch of notes that I turned into something more readable; what follows is a paraphrase faithful on intent but probably somewhat heavy on sentences that start with "I". That is an artifact of our amateur process and not a reflection of megalomania.
Brandon right; some guy from Findlay winning a "gold Frannie" left.
Why leave Dominos?
I loved my job there, and the company is doing great. It takes a special opportunity to leave 11-year job. I would only leave for a couple jobs in the world, this is one of them. I love Michigan, loved it as student-athete and have been connected ever since. I was a member of regents for 8 years, which was a labor of love. I know the place
Athletics plays an important role in Michigan's profile. It creates excitement, loyalty, connection. I got an e-mail from someone in Istanbul today. Within an hour of release, people in Turkey are talking about the athletic director at Michigan.
How does your background as a CEO work for your new job?
I'm more than a pizza man, I'm a CEO. I've been in the business world 35 years, a university regent for eight years, and been in involved in other governing bodies. I've been a been a student-athlete, donor, and fundraiser at Michigan. I know the talents of athletic department from my connections. I haven't lived a career in athletics specifically, but I bring set of qualifications, interests, and experiences that will help him succeed. I 'm Fortunate to be the one chosen.
What did you learn from Bo?
My second degree from Michigan was from the Bo School of Leadership. One advantage of not playing is that you can observe and learn. Learned how to select talent from Bo. His assistants went on to be head coaches. He was surrounded with terrific people, recruited athletes on skills and ability, but also character and integrity. Bo taught how to set high expectations/goals. He taught preparation, competing at highest level, intensity. Those lessons translated to my career as a business leader and will come with me as athletic director.
Why are you forgoing public office? Is it on the backburner?
I'm the athletic director at the university of Michigan. I committed for a minimum of 5 years, and hope to get that extended. It's flattering that people think I can serve the public good. I care about positively impacting lives.
I can do that in public office, but I know I can do it as Michigan's athletic director as well. Athletics changed my life, and athletes at Michigan are experiencing that now. I have three Big Ten champioinship rings and wear them proudly. I appreciate people think I can do other things, but this is what I want to do.
What is your feeling on Rich Rodriguez's job security?
He's the coach at UM. He has an awesome responsibility, a proven track record. I have great respect for Rich. I hope to know him better and get a chance to work with him.
Can you comment on the NCAA investigation?
I can't comment on an ongoing investigation, and wouldn't if I could. I'll get briefings when the university knows more about it. Doesn't mind being put in the middle, he'll worry about doing the right thing, like Michigan always does. If we'd made mistakes, we'll correct them. We'll deal as we need to.
How is your relationship with Rich Rodriguez?
We've spent a little time together, had dinner a couple times. We're acquainted in social way. We've chatted briefly on sidelines and at one practice a couple years ago. Though we haven't had time together, I hope to get to know Rich better. He looks forward to turning the program around and being where we all want to be.
Do you have any plans for changes in the department?
I'll listen and learn first. I don't have a a prearranged agenda. I'll meet and assess the team and organizational design. Why are we doing things this way? I'll come in with a new set of eyes and without hard-fixed ideas. I can come in, ask questions, and challenge status quo, come up with some unique things.
Listen, learn, asses, then change things when we're prepared. Is the right talent in place in the right spots? We'll make goals at that time.
How are you relationships with the Regents?
Unique, because I served with some as a colleague. I worked with some for eight years. Mary Sue Coleman contacted them last night, and some got in touch with me after. I am most appreciative that I got the opportunity. I still know the ones I didn't serve with due to my role as a regent emeritus. I knows what their job is about because I've done it.
What are your plans for Crisler?
Big plans underway to put expansion and practice facilities in place. Long overdue. Other considerations underway for doing things in arena, updating and making more competitive. Team and fans deserve that consideration.
Do you have Don Canham's vision?
I was just 18 when i met him. He was bold, innovative, willing to take measured risks. I admired his skills, I'll emulate some. I'm not him or Bo, I'll do me. I'll work hard to achieve what I can as AD.
How is your relationship with Mary Sue Coleman?
She approached and gauged interest, I said yes. I was in pool of candidates, vetted carefully. I'm the one she selected and I'm appreciative of that.
[Now starts a series of questions about factions that
What's your take on factions in the athletic department? Will you seek to remove conflict?
Yes. I'm a team sport guy. Brought up that way, and believes in it. Factions are counterproductive. Needs to be fixed immediately, won't be tolerated.
How do you cure factions, reel in anti-Rodriguez guys?
I'm leaving a job in which I had to get 1200 franchisees on the same page, and accept the plans I initiated. If I can pull that off, I can pull together 275 [athletic department employees] using some of the same techniques. It takes vision. You need to surround yourself with people who share that and your values. You hold people accountable. Every business I've led has been #1 in its industry. I don't know any other way. I want the athletic department to be number 1 in the nation. Talent, accomplishment, all the ways success can be measured. You surround yourself with people who will bring work ethic to achieve that.
Will playing under Bo brings factions together?
I was proud to play for Bo, but my initial recruiting was under Bump, and I would have been proud to play for him. I was proud to have Mo as a position coach, would have been as a head coach. I would be proud under Carr, under Rodriguez. Anyone who wears that winged helmet, or runs through that tunnel, I support.
Are you a quintessential Michigan Man?
Not quintessential anything, but I understand what it means to be Michigan Man. I understand traditions and role in the community, and that will be an asset in the job.
How important is it coming back to M?
It's huge. It's huge.
What was the hiring timetable?
I was contacted several weeks ago by search firm hired by Coleman and asked whether he'd be interested in interviewing. I said yes and submitted a letter of interest. I made it very clear that the process had to remain confidential, as sitting CEO of a public company. I was interested in pursuing opportunity, but had to maintain interests in Dominos. The private process culminated in meeting with Coleman and the search committee for several hours. I told my story and explained why I was going to be the right choice for the job.
What will you do in terms of branding?
I understand brand management. Brands, promotion, and marketing has been my background. I understand innovation and how to build a brand, how to bring innovation and freshness to a brand. But being inconsistent with brand can undermine it.
[Editor's note: I choose to interpret this as a desire to put Special K, piped-in music droid, in a catapult calibrated to provide him a soft landing in a war-torn former Soviet republic.]
As a football observer what is your level of concern with the program?
I am as concerned as everybody. The program likes and needs to win. We sing about being champions, the leaders and best. We want that to be true. Nobody wants that more than Rodriguez.
What are the business ramifications? How does the departure impact Dominos?
I am proud of many things at Dominos, including succession planning. My role includes active involvement at the board level. My successor at Dominos has been there longer than me, has gone through every unit of the company, president for past 3 years, completes the loop and is prepared to succeed me seamlessly. Interest of shareholders will be protected. I'm an investor, will continue to serve on board of directors.
How can the athletic department affect the university?
There are so many components. It has a 90 million dollar budget. It has a huge impact on the Michigan brand. It's somewhat of a selling organization for the entire university. When we won the NC, admissions to school were up 22%. The athletic department propagates what the university is all about. The university competes at the highest level in all aspects.
As suggested by this and every other site that ventured to offer an opinion about who Michigan's next athletic director would be, the new head man is current (and soon to be former) Domino's CEO Dave Brandon. Angelique Chengelis has the scoop:
Dave Brandon, the chairman and CEO of Domino's Pizza and a former Michigan football player and university Regent, has agreed to a five-year contract to become Michigan's new athletic director and is expected to be introduced to the department staff Tuesday morning, according to two sources with knowledge of the situation.
Brandon, 57, has deep ties to the university and also to Michigan business and politics and has long been considered the front-runner to replace athletic director Bill Martin.
Ladies and gentlemen, the new guy:
It's late so no full analysis right now other than "nice hair." Between Brandon and Greg Robinson, we've got a regular Just For Men commercial going on over here. Daddy, you should really start dating again.
Something to address the foremost question in your mind—"what does this mean for Rich Rodriguez?"—is appropriate, however. When a couple of tipsters indicated that Brandon was a more likely candidate than I suggested in my first stab at the candidate list I related the tipster's take on Brandon's opinion of the head coach:
The tinfoil-hat wing of the internet that's suggested Brandon is a part of the shadowy anti-RR cabal hypothetically headed by Lloyd Carr could not be more wrong. Brandon was a key supporter of Rodriguez's candidacy. He and RR have dinner regularly. 3-9 engenders some frustration, but one of the items cited was Rodriguez getting "too friendly with the media".
This is not someone who has anything but the program's best interests in mind.
At the point I posted that no one else was suggesting that Brandon was a clear front-runner and most assumed, as I had, that Brandon's other desires would preclude a serious run at the job: the likelihood the above is quality information is very high. Brandon will give Rodriguez a fair shake at turning things around.
A quick take: Brandon is a default, safe choice. That probably sounds like damning with faint praise to an outsider, but Michigan fans will take the safe choice 100 times out of 100 at the moment. He was a regent. He's worked with Bill Martin and Mary Sue Coleman on the stadium renovations. He's a serious business-type person who should continue Bill Martin's legacy of financial stability, and he was a walk-on on the football team so he could better about the stadium atmosphere issues—in all revenue sports—I've expressed some discontent about.
There are some differences between running a major corporation and a major athletic department but there are just as many differences between running Oregon State or Arkansas and running Michigan; I'm perfectly content with the hire. This won't be another Goss. The only downside I can see is that Brandon's familiarity with the people in the department might make him loathe to clean out a bunch of people who have committed error after error—Marcus Witherspoon, practice log fiascoes, compliance issues, possibly Adrian Witty—in the last couple years.
So Brendan Morrison and some friends are starting up a website that's particularly relevant right now since most of you are probably carrying a bunch of resolutions ("stop fumbling," "go to bowl game," "stop making everyone very sad indeed") around this January. They'd like MGoBlog readers to be pilot members of the site and politely asked for a little time. Here it is:
I have a good friend who graduated from UM with me in 1997. He had been climbing the corporate ladder since then but at some point decided he’d had enough. He started a project to improve the areas of his life that he saw going haywire – not having the time or energy to stay fit, or to contribute anything meaningful in his work life, to the community or the environment. Essentially he wanted to find balance and increase his effort in these areas.
Since he's also kind of a tracking freak he started working on a way to quantify progress in all these areas and that's what the website is. He's working on the assumption that there are people in a similar position who'd be interested in benefiting from the tracking tools on the website. He also sees the “empowurment” you get from recording and measuring your effort as a way of tackling a lot of the bigger problems America faces – getting in shape, helping the planet, and just finding more of a work/life balance in general.
Net, the goal of the website is to make the world a better place, but in an entirely non-commercial (it's free), non L. Ron Hubbard kind of way. My take is that it's like crossfit for your entire life, not just the physical fitness part of it.
I’ve been following the project since the beginning and have been a test user for a while now. I believe in the concept and wanted to do something to help. We’ve gotten to a point where the site needs more e-pinions and thought it would be cool to tap the mgoblog community for input.
As far as what kind of test users he’s looking for (his words):
Those looking to increase their effort levels.
Those wanting to “get better” and/or find more balance in their lives.
Those searching for more happiness and less emo.
People who aren't about smugness.
Tracking types who enjoy tracking things.
Anyway, the site is sure to have plenty of bugs, issues and functional flaws which should be good target fodder for the more critical segment of the mgo readership – all the better. The website can be found at www.empowur.com.
- Brendan Morrison
Less emo sounds excellent. Empowur is the site.
The last couple items I covered before heading out into the holiday season hell for leather were Jay Hopson's departure and some happy vibes going down in the recruitment of CA S Sean Parker. I popped by head back up to post a UV last week. Other than that, I've been silent.
So. Things! That are wringing the life out of me!
Hockey is killing me. I was in Chicago for the opening night of the GLI and the thing wasn't on TV and that turned out to be a fantastic thing for yrs truly because Michigan outshot RPI 46-13(!!!) and lost 4-3. If I had actually seen that transpire I would have died. My spleen would have burst out of my stomach and ran for Mexico trailing intestine and whatnot behind it, and I would have looked down in horror at what was going down only to find it considerably more pleasant than the on-ice action. This apparently happened:
With Michigan trailing by only one goal, Hogan looked like he had a routine save to his glove side that most likely would have left the Wolverines down just one heading into the final period.
But when the puck slipped off of Hogan’s glove and into the net, Berenson made the only decision he could to save his team’s chance at a third-straight GLI Championship.
Michigan managed to rebound the next night and beat an atrocious Michigan Tech team to split the weekend but the RPI loss is the just about the last dagger in Michigan's at-large tourney hopes. Losing to a bleah ECAC team is bad enough—it will kill Michigan's record against common opponents, a Pairwise* factor, against good ECAC teams like Yale that play limited nonconference schedules—but as a special bonus Michigan missed the opportunity to play a good Michigan State team and instead got Tech, #49 of 58 in RPI and 3-16 on the season.
Michigan is now 29th in RPI, down a spot from before the GLI. Sioux Sports shows that if Michigan wins 14 of its remaining 17 games they'd end up somewhere around 10th to 13th in RPI. Upshot: if they managed to do that they'd likely be on the good side of the bubble when conference tournaments rolled around and would have a fighting chance at picking up an at-large bid if they make the Joe and split there.
So… no problem. Just win at an 82% clip when you're at 50% on the season, can't score no matter how many shots you take, and just saw your goalie pulled for a smurfy walk-on who gave up a soft game-losing goal in the four shots he faced.
A more realistic goal is to scrape into fourth place in the CCHA to get a first-round bye in the CCHA playoffs and hope to win them. Short of a time machine that drops sophomore year Al Montoya, Mike Comrie, and Jack Johnson onto the roster, Michigan can't get to the tournament in any other way.
*(The way the hockey tournament is selected is something else called the Pairwise. It compares the top 25 teams in RPI against each other in various categories—RPI, record against common opponents, record against teams under consideration, and head to head. At this point the PWR is so heavily based on RPI that with a few exceptions teams will be within one or two spots of their RPI rank at season's end.)
Basketball: also killing me. So they actually beat Ohio State the other day in a testament to the power of home court in the Big Ten, but AnnArbor.com theorizes that "a confident Michigan basketball team inspires expectations again" and I think they're nuts.
I might have this conversation on WTKA again this afternoon, but a week in which you split against meh Big Ten teams—and Ohio State is meh without Evan Turner—is not making progress towards your goals. Unlike last year, when a strong nonconference run put M in a spot where all they had to do was hold serve, this team has to cut a fiery swath through the Big Ten if they want a bid. Losing to the second-worst team in the Big Ten according to Kenpom is not exactly doing that.
It is nice to win something against Ohio State, though. Or anyone at all, in anything.
Ekpe Udoh: yes, killing me. Udoh is the Ryan Mallett of Michigan basketball. He's 7th in the nation in blocks and Baylor's most-used player (82% of available minutes) on an 11-1 team that's beaten Xavier, Arizona State, and South Carolina. He transferred because a new coach came in and he didn't like his style, leaving Michigan utterly deficient at something important (passing, interior defense) and being touted as a potential first-round pick.
Assistant coach search: not killing me. Stealth mode. I haven't heard or read one word about who Michigan is looking at to replace the departed Hopson, whether it's in the newspaper or a premium message board or my inbox. Michigan might be busy recruiting or, you know, having a "holiday" with the weird people who live with the coaches and insist that something other than football is an "activity" that can be "undertaken." It'll be interesting to see who gets picked up, and it looks like the announcement is going to be of the variety where Some Guy gets picked up and I scramble to google him to find out who he is.
Michigan 73, Ohio State 64. Michigan 7-6 (1-1 Big Ten)
Michigan's schizophrenic season took yet another turn tonight as the Wolverines knocked off the #15 Ohio State Buckeyes in Crisler Arena. The Buckeyes' Jon Diebler started the game hot, and it seemed like we were doomed to watch yet another opponent shoot out the lights. However, it was Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims who stole the show. Michigan's big two scored 52 of their team's 73 points, with Manny adding 5 assists and Peedi pulling down 9 boards. Freshman shooting guard Matt Vogrich also led the team in offensive rebounding(!) and had a key block in the paint(!!).
Michigan isn't in any position to look at this as just another win, but perhaps the upset isn't as big as it seems. Despite Michigan's early-season woes and Ohio State's lofty ranking, the Buckeyes were actually an underdog according to Vegas. Michigan's inconsistencies from game to game have obscured how good the Wolverines actually are, and the low points will have to be smoothed out if there's to be any expectation of a postseason visit.
For now, it's nice to be able to bask in the glow of victory for a change, especially when that victory comes over the Buckeyes.
- Man, Crisler was rocking in the second half. That's easily the loudest I've heard it since the Duke game last year. Me likey. The sound system was busted, however.
- LLP was very quiet. I guess it doesn't matter since Manny and DeShawn were basically all the offense the team needed for a win, but to continue winning games, Laval needs to contribute.
- No sign of Jordan Morgan or Blake McLimans. I guess they'll continue on a redshirt track, despite the losses of Eric Puls and Ben Cronin.
- Manny was much more authoritative on his drives today. He was willing to go to his left, which he hasn't done much this year. He also had a thunderous dunk that brought the house down.
- Vogrich moved positions, he's now backing up Manny Harris at the 3 guard spot.
- To slow down Diebler during his hot start, Beilein had Stu Douglass guard him. I wouldn't have thought of Stu as a big defensive stopper, but that just goes to show what I know.
- Maybe Michigan was hesitant to start their New Year Run before the calendar changed...
"It only takes one game to start your momentum rolling." DeShawn Sims.
"It was just an overall good effort by the whole team. I was the recipient of a lot of passes from a lot of people today, and that's pretty much what got us ahead today." DeShawn Sims, on his offensive output.
"I don't know what it is, we're just getting down to the basics a little bit." Stu Douglas, on the team's overall effort.
"I was just trying to be a spark... It's Ohio State, so it's hard not to bring energy in this game... Everybody probably thinks I'm 7-foot if they just look at my stats in this game." Matt Vogrich, on his surprising performance.
"Coach has really been stressing that to me... that defense is gonna win games. Right now, that's what my focus is." Darius Morris.
"It's Michigan-Ohio State. That's one of the reasons you come to Michigan, to play Ohio State." Zack Novak.
"I wish we'd shown some of that patience at Indiana and Kansas." John Beilein, on the team running its offense.
"Both are terrific basketball players... We weren't able to them at the times that we needed to." Ohio State coach Thad Matta, on Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims.
"It's Big Ten play. You've got 9 at home, and you've gotta take care of your home court." Thad Matta.