it's a major award
In less than a week, Michigan will run under the banner a team directed by Rich Rodriguez and the Bo Schembechler era will finally, permanently belong to the past.
It’s a change that most Michigan fans feel was too long coming after the tribulations in recent years: losses to Ohio State, Rose Bowls that end the wrong way, national embarrassment and the infamous picture that will stand as one half of the Carr era denouement:
It lived in the past and now it is of the past and it can stay there, to be memorialized in song and commemorative DVD. Amen.
But this is the other half of the Carr era denouement.
This picture makes me happy.
Over the past three years on this blog I’ve chronicled my endless frustration with Michigan football; I’ve also chronicled just how important it is to me. Carr is at least partially responsible for both these things. It has been a deeply schizophrenic existence, and the Citrus Bowl was everything about that existence wrapped into one three-hour summary.
You can check the UFR after most games for an explanation of the first. The second has something to do with Carr’s tireless scorn for those who deserved it, primarily the money-changers cramming into the temple of the game, his obvious devotion to his players, his desire to read things more stimulating than a playbook.
This latter item about reading is weird and useless—who cares if the football coach knows who Keats is?—but it’s also indisputably true. Former Daily sportswriter J Brady McCullough indirectly touches on it in his excellent article on the changeover:
“I’m studying up on it,” Rodriguez says. “Reading books. I got 500 books sent to me. I got four or five of the same book, ‘Bo’s Lasting Lessons,’ and it gave me some perspective on things.”
Rodriguez has realized Michigan is unique. Fans and former players who want their football coach to spend his time reading?
Yes. When I was editing Hail to the Victors 2008, space requirements forced me to cut down Craig Ross’s article about his experience at a Scot Loeffler quarterbacks meeting, and when I had to cut a small but telling paragraph about Lloyd Carr it lingered with me. This is it:
After a few minutes Carr appeared. He was relaxed and fresh, even though it was mid-evening and he had worked for the entire day. We chatted for a few moments about a book, The Long Walk, the story of a WWII prisoner of war who escaped from a Gulag and then trekked across Siberia, through the Gobi desert and then through the Himalayas to India.
I didn’t want to cut it but it was either that or something directly relevant to Ross’s odyssey so out it went. I wanted people to see it, to get the little glimpse into how odd Lloyd Carr—football coach, friend of Russell Crowe, strident Democrat—is. He reads books! About things! This is important.
There is something to the sometimes annoying “Michigan Man” thing. There is a mindset, an attitude, some characteristics that are shared by enough people that they characterize a program and a fanbase. (The annoying part is when people pretend all these things are positive.) Carr was of this and in more than a decade came to define some of it. Kipling and Into Thin Air and The Long Walk were part of the fabric of the program.
Few outside of Michigan fandom understood this or anything about Carr. How could they? Opposing fans took the opportunity provided by Carr’s cantankerousness at press conferences and one inopportune photo after a loss against Oregon to label him classless. Neutrals just thought he was a crab, because they experienced him as a crab. A month after the Bo memorial service at which Carr spoke, I found myself in a conversation with Orson Swindle of EDSBS fame. At some point I forwarded the video (part one; part two) of Carr’s speech to him. The response: “It's enthralling, actually. Lloyd is downright eloquent.”
The surprise was evident.
It was November when they memorialized Bo but it was nice enough out, I thought, and I thought the thing to wear was a suit so I did but I left the coat at home and this was fine for a while. But when the sun started setting the warmth leached out of the air and people kept talking and it was cold. And I wrapped my arms around myself as Bo’s son talked and kept talking and God bless him, I know he just lost his father but it’s cold and I’ve been here for hours. And he kept going.
So I’m cold and in a suit and my mind is wandering back to what Carr said to wrap up his speech. I recorded it with my MP3 player but old obscure-brand MP3 players being what they are and having no external mic the recording was nigh useless and when I discovered this later I was a little shattered but still posted the nigh useless thing on the blog.
Carr said this: “Bo will be remembered as the Michigan Man.”
No, not quite, I don’t think. Not “the.”
I’m happy that the empire of the fallen has finished its long slide into the sea. I’m happy it’s been replaced with something young and vivacious and very likely successful. But on Saturday something that lived for forty years sees the last shovelful of dirt on its grave, and I wish it hadn’t come to this.
People wish for a lot of things, though, and entropy always tells them to go to hell.
They are coming. If you ordered a Bo shirt and are wondering where the hell it is, 1) sorry about the delay—Rich Robots recently switched print shops—and 2) the shirts should start shipping either today or early next week, so you should have them shortly.
Sweet. The new hockey jerseys are pretty cool:
The Hoover Street Rag points out that the white home jersey is a virtual replica of Michigan’s uniforms when Red Berenson was skating for the team instead of coaching it. Michigan Hockey Net confirms that Michigan plans to have small numbers under the school name, much like Red.
Lame. Awful Announcing has your ABC/ESPN coverage teams for 2008. One bleah development:
- Jesse Palmer is in the booth instead of Doug Flutie on Thursday nights along with Chris Fowler, Craig James and Erin Andrews.
- Flutie will still be on the ABC Studio show with John Saunders and James.
Flutie was really good last year. I don’t think The Bachelor will live up to that high standard. Everything else is basically the same as it was last year—Paul Maguire continues to pollute the Nessler-Griese duo.
One potential change: did Ron Franklin get swanky games last year? He’s doing prime-time ABC games this year.
Also lame but in a more literal sense. The exact words that came from Rodriguez’s mouth about Zirbel:
“It is a knee injury. It is pretty significant. We are not even hopeful that he will be able to return this year. We are just waiting to see how he responds to surgery and when they get in there and do an arthroscopic surgery, then we will have more answers on that.”
And hey, John Ferrara could start!
“I think it is a good move and he is going to be battling for a starting job at guard by maybe by the first game.”
What does Ferrara think about that?
The move caught Ferrara a bit by surprise because he had no offensive line background aside from playing a bit of tight end in high school.
"I'm getting used to it now and working on my technique," said the 6-foot-4, 280-pound Ferrara. "I'm just trying to memorize everything I can. The one thing I think is I'm very coachable."
Carty suggests there is “panic in the streets” because of this; I suggest that if the panic is only in the streets gazebos, playgrounds, and all variety of enclosed spaces have a lot of catching up to do; the WLA notes previous unlikely triumphs of the will.
Some guys are back. Brown and Minor resumed practicing; Donovan Warren was held out of practice but that was only precautionary, and Marcus Witherspoon should be back on campus shortly:
The Courier-Post Defensive Player of the Year, Witherspoon confirmed Thursday afternoon that he did return home to Atlantic City and missed a week of workouts. The freshman linebacker was scheduled to return to the Ann Arbor campus today and continue with football-related activities, also stating that his leave was excused by the Michigan football staff.
Oddly, Witherspoon says not to believe the “rumors” his departure was related to academics. Source of those rumors: Rich Rodriguez directly stating Witherspoon had a Clearinghouse issue.
As far as a potential redshirt:
"There's no harm in redshirting," Witherspoon said. "It would just give me an extra year and I really don't mind."
So there you go.
The children! Notre Dame’s Jon Tenuta is unsparing with the swearing:
I await 400 newspaper columns decrying this. (Via EDSBS.)
Etc.: Matt Hinton, nee Sunday Morning Quarterback, has been redubbed “Dr. Saturday” and unleashed on the unsuspecting public by Yahoo; if you have Time Warner cable OSU’s AD suggests you flee screaming.
1. In his "visiting lecturers" series posted on Every Day Should Be Saturday over the past few months, Orson Swindle asked each participant to explain which country, during which historical period, their team most resembles. Let's bring everything up to the present day and ponder: Which current sovereign nation is your team? Or to look at it another way, how does your team fit into the "world" of college football?
Like Georgia, Michigan has flung off the shackles of a backwards, stagnant system and now looks to modernize with the help of a controversial leader. However, there are problems, mostly in the form of red-clad douchebags who are either in tanks or just plain tank-sized.
Throw in some whiny breakaway republics trying to defect to the red-clad douchebags and a war that looks like it’s going to go very poorly over the next few months and voila.
2. Every preseason roundup has to have some discussion of who's overrated, but let's go beyond that. Which team do you think is poised to crap the bed in the biggest way this season relative to high expectations, and which game do you think will begin their slide into ignominy?
Even though I overrated them, the answer here is obviously Clemson, because it’s always Clemson. 50-50 they roll into Wake at midseason 5-0 and implode spectacularly.
The other answer is West Virginia, now under the direction of Super Friendly Smiling Special Teams Coach “Stew,” who reminds everyone of super nice player coaches and utter failure Bobby Williams, similarly promoted from position coach to head coach after an emotional bowl win despite the fact he was tabbed the interim coach specifically because there was no chance anyone would even think about hiring him in a spasm of sentiment and hope.
Also, many people are focusing exclusively on White and Devine and ignore West Virginia’s secretly excellent defense—7th in yardage last year. Unfortunately for WVU, they lose seven starters off that defense. Also also, the nonconference schedule steps up considerably with games against Colorado and Auburn. Also also also, Mike Barwis doesn’t live here anymore.
In the context of this question, the prediction is that the Auburn game starts a slide which sees WVU drop from A-list national title contender to Gator bowl participant.
3. On the flip side of that coin, which team do you think is going to burst out of nowhere to become 2008's biggest overachiever -- this year's version of Kansas '07, as it were -- and what's going to be the big upset that makes us all finally sit up and take notice of them?
Always look for a team with an awful schedule for this question. Also look for a team on the upswing in talent level… so… Pitt? Wannstedt has recruited very well and finally has a star in LeSean McCoy. The noncon is actually pretty decent, with two tomato cans, Navy, Iowa, and Notre Dame, but all of those are winnable. Then it’s the Big East.
4. Here's an "I'll hang up and listen" question. I put Ohio State and Oklahoma #1 and #2, respectively, despite their recent high-profile BCS face-plants. Where did you rank those two teams, and did those BCS issues have anything to do with it?
Ohio State was #1 on my ballot, so obviously the face plants didn’t dissuade me. People forget that last year Ohio State was supposed to be rebuilding. Okay, they lost to a veteran, talent-laden LSU team. BFD. They return virtually their entire two deep.
I ranked Oklahoma high up, too, because it’s just one game, and that against the geniuses now running Michigan’s offense schwing.
5. Last season was a statistical outlier in countless ways, not the least of which was the fact that we ended up with a two-loss team as national champion. Do you think anyone plays a strong enough schedule to get MNC consideration as a two-loss team this year? Conversely, do you see anybody managing to sail into the national-championship game undefeated?
Maybe Georgia, since their schedule has been hyped up so much in the preseason and they’ve got an actual nonconference road game against an opponent that has some cachet (Arizona State), but they’d have to smoke ASU like LSU smoked Virginia Tech, and then pray. LSU wasn’t picked over any reasonable one-loss teams despite the schedule and the OT losses.
If Ohio State beats USC they’ve got an excellent shot of going undefeated.
Bumped from the diaries; I'm a sucker for footnotes.
In my opinion, from reading the few articles I could find on stadium noise, the lack of noise in Michigan Stadium is because of the fans.
First of all, from scanning the internet, many articles claim noise levels, but do not describe how they were measured. The best I could find on other stadiums was quotes of "the ESPN Crew measured noise levels of XdB. But at least for the Big House, the Michigan Engineering department stepped in for something scientific.
First the bottom line is that the noise measured 100 dB. Which changes to the stadium they estimate an improvement to 110 dB. Unfortunately this is still far behind the Oregon claim of 127.2 dB. Now to the best of my memory, 3dB is a doubling of noise level. so with Autzen (Ducks) Stadium at 27dB higher, that's 9 Doublings of noise level!! Or 2 to the 9th power for the computer engineers. Looking at the pictures of Autzen stadium I can't see how the shape can possibly be responsible for all that, although admittedly I'm not a sound engineer, and don't have any experience making these measurements in different shaped enclosures.
But check out the images at that page yourself. Here's the quote from the section on crowd noise. Notice that when anyone wants a measuring stick to prove how "awesome" they are, it is frequently Michigan that serves as that stick.
"Autzen is known for its crowd noise. On October 27, 2007, during a 24-17 defeat of the USC Trojans, a record crowd of 59,277 fans was recorded at 127.2 decibels. A similarly-loud 31-27 upset of third-ranked Michigan in 2003 prompted a Michigan Daily columnist to write
|“||Autzen's 59,000 strong make the Big House sound like a pathetic whimper. It's louder than ... The Swamp at Florida, The Shoe in Columbus, and Death Valley at Louisiana State. Autzen Stadium is where great teams go to die.||”|
Autzen Stadium seats just under 60,000 fans.
And here's the quote from the Daily article when the Professor measured the Big House.
"Crowd participation was almost entirely located in the student section. If all 109,840 individuals had yelled at the same intensity, Navvab said the measurement would have increased to 102 or 103 decibels - a significant sound increase."
In conclusion, I think the Big House will definitely look more impressive when the construction is completed, but I don't think it's going to come close to sounding imtimidating.
So finally here is a link to Top 15 Stadiums that provides good pictures of the "conventional wisdom" on most intimidating stadium.
A reminder for MGoBlog aficionados in New York: on Tuesday I’m going to be in your neck of the woods having a talk about the 2008 season. Festivities begin at 7 PM. Details here, online registration here; if you’re planning on coming please register so the event organizers have happy feelings.
It’s free if you’re part of the alumni association, a measly five bucks otherwise.
Not a great day to be out of pocket, as Rich Rodriguez’s brief media-talking time at the Brock Mealer charity bowling thing was unpleasantly newsy:
- Cory Zirbel’s knee injury is severe and he may miss the season.
- Terrence Robinson “tweaked” his knee and will be out “several weeks.”
As mentioned before, Zirbel’s injury strips the interior line of its one reasonable backup, as David Molk steps into the starting lineup. The next guy off the bench will be either a true freshman—probably Rocko Khoury—or a guy who was a defensive tackle until Zirbel went down. There’s zero margin for error here.
Robinson’s injury isn’t as bad with Martavious Odoms, Sam McGuffie, and Michael Shaw all impressing. It is still not fun times.