he grew a beard
Not that Emu. Highlights from the BTN:
More Penn State victorizing. This WolverineHistorian guy over at Youtube seems to be cataloging Michigan's win streak over Penn State one clip reel at at time. The current installment is 2000:
There is also a compilation of Michigan game-winning touchdowns over the years:
Miles, availability, etc. The occasional grumpy commenter who would like us all to prepare for the Brian Kelly era (which doesn't seem that bad an alternative) will drop in and assert that Les Miles will get a boatload of money dropped on him and will stay at LSU should he win -- or even just reach -- the national championship game. This NYT article that came out Friday implies otherwise heavily; this NYT blog post with fuller quotes from the principles of that article slathers it on even thicker. Former Oklahoma State player Sam Mayes:
He was never an Oklahoma State Cowboy, and I don't think that he's an L.S.U. Tiger right now. I think he's always going to be a Michigan man. I don't think he'll be content until he gets to that point. The way he would talk about Michigan and bring it up, 'When I was at Michigan.' Michigan this and that. It was like this golden fleece for him. I love my school, but with him it was something different. You had to see it. He'd say Michigan and get down on one knee. It was just crazy. People around here are joking that Les Miles has got Michigan colors on under his L.S.U. colors.
I'm sure some deranged Corn Nuts magnate can offer Miles his own effing Saban money, but I assume Michigan can and will make a competitive offer, and then we're into the whole "how many gold toilets do you need?" issue. Ben Wallace's answer was "all of them kthxbye"; Miles will probably say "just one, as long as it's Bo's."
Here's Miles' full quote about the Michigan job:
I don't want you to take the fast, hard line. I want you to hear me out.
I am indebted to that school and those people. Not Lloyd or the president there. But the tremendous memory of Bo Schembechler, and the quality that I was exposed to both academically and in football at the school. So I cannot in any way change that view. That's an honesty. I can't tell you my appreciation. My wife, my first born, my entire life is marked by my time at Michigan. Yet, I'm in a wonderful place here. I've got a great team. If I lose or have any distraction to that fact, that I would spend fun time, my time on something else like the view of that, would be a mistake. It would be a mistake and I really can't.
When I was a young coach, I had a school call me. It was so distracting. I did everything that I was supposed to do, but it affected me. Things like this really have no day-to-day change in the way I do things. I woke up at 4 a.m. today and I'm daydreaming, I'm not thinking about anything else but how to make this football team better. That to me is the right feel. I have great confidence in Michigan and they have a great staff there and they're going to do great things this year. I have no designs and nor has it ever been displayed to me that I'm the next guy, by anybody. I have given little or no thought to things that are not imminent. I really don't want to spend any more time talking about another program.
Lloyd Carr won a national championship and that staff is as quality as there is. I fully support what they're doing there.
Read from that what you will, but I have received multiple emails on this from people I trust: if Miles is offered the job he will take it.
Ashutosh has some thoughts on the Miles candidacy at What The Deuce:
Even with what Miles' has going for him, I still feel "eh" about him. I want to feel like Homer Simpson looking at a plate of bacon when the new hire is made/announced.
Mmmm baconcoach. That post went up Saturday... wonder if the needle has moved at all after the Florida game?
USA Today takes a look at said game and the fourth-down conversions therein. It slipped my mind in Sunday's post that one of the fourth-down attempts was a fake field goal; don't know if that changes the decision calculus any. It (obviously) worked, though.
Hot dog man. Missed this Daily article on the tube-meat-slinging cult hero of the student section:
As Michigan was beginning its comeback in Evanston, Ill. against Northwestern on Saturday, College of Engineering senior Jay Trzcinski walked to the front corner of the Michigan student section with an armful of hot dogs. At first, the crowd didn't recognize him, but soon murmurs began. Then the crowd started chanting "Hot Dog Man."
The rest of it is a depressing rehash of Michigan's attitude towards the stadium atmosphere ("anything fun is prohibited") compared to Northwestern's ("we are not crotchety"). Upshot:
He said he doesn't plan on throwing a hot dog anytime soon because he doesn't want a criminal charge and wants to be able to cheer on Michigan during the big games at the end of the season.
Hot Dog Man has been told his season tickets will be revoked if he throws any more tubed meats, which is preposterous. Maybe the administration's leeriness would have some merit if the hot dog tossing took place when the students were precariously perched on the seats, but at halftime everyone's sitting down. Les Miles would let the kid th
row hot dogs.
Wontario, defeated. Michigan opened up its 2007-2008 hockey season with a 5-1 exhibition win over Western Ontario that was somewhat dispiriting as these things go. Usually the final score of the exhibition is something like 8-2 and Michigan puts up like 60 shots to the opponent's 15; this game was 1-0 until a few minutes into the third when the floodgates opened. The Wolverine's Bob Miller has some impressions. Upshot:
This is going to be a very fun season for those who love developmental hockey. This Michigan team will have a solid core of players who should (no guarantees, of course) be four-year players and will be able develop naturally over time. No doubt, there will be some very frustrating games, but I can already see significant progress in most of the freshman from the first practice I attended 12 days ago. Very encouraging progress, in many cases. For those who demand lots of wins to enjoy the experience...well... you may have to decide if you can be patient through the inevitable growing pains.
Yikes. Some player-by-player breakdown follows. Personal opinions:
- Steve Kampfer still looks like the guy who got benched early last year. Lots of turnovers, occasionally turned inside out by Wontarians, still smallish. It remains a mystery how or why NHL teams thought he was worth drafting at all, let alone in the third round. Hopefully he comes around; I'm not seeing it.
- No offense to Scooter Vaughn, but God it's depressing to see #3 out there, think JMFJ(!!!) and then have it turn out to be anyone else. Similarly, the new #7, Chad Langlais, is exactly the same build as TJ except he plays defense. This is going to be a source of cognitive dissonance all year. They really shouldn't have issued thoes numbers until an appropriate mourning period had passed.
- Side note: Scooter Vaughn is a black guy from California named, obviously, "Scooter" who plays on the hockey team. Most unlikely Michigan athlete ever?
- None of the freshman jumped out like JMFJ or Hensick did when they were freshmen, but several of them showed flashes of talent. Matt Rust was compared to Andrew Ebbett by Miller, but the comparison in my head was Dwight Helminen. He has Helminen's wheels, faceoff ability, and backchecking prowess with a dash of offensive flair. Doubt he has Helminen's wicked snap shot, but his assist on Michigan's third goal -- a one-two-three tic-tac-toe job that was pure class -- was a beauty.
- Other guys I liked: Ben Winnett, a good combination of size and skill, Carl Hagelin, who probably didn't deserve a hat trick but was all over the ice, and Max Pacioretty.
- We're about to find out if Kevin Porter, top five scorer, was entirely a creation of TJ Hensick. Survey says: hell yes. He's still probably the team's best player, but is uninspiring as those go.
- One freshman defender I liked: the aforementioned Langlais. He's tiny and old (20 or 21 already, IIRC) but has some stickhandling and passing chops. Will be a fixture on the power play; reminds me of swashbuckling Eric Werner, who I loved.
- Sauer faced like one scoring chance. Goal was at the other end of the ice and I didn't get a good look, but it seemed like a goal-line scrum that ended up with him getting bumped by someone and then there was pointing and a red light. Not egregious. For that, see the Blue-White game.
10/6/2007 - LSU 28, Florida 24 - LSU all #1 and stuff.
Five times, LSU found itself facing fourth and short against the Gators. Five times, they went for it. Five times, they got it, and that's the primary reason LSU is #1 today. What does it take to sell real estate?
It takes brass balls.
Brass balls alone lead into the land of Weis E. Coyote and leads to things like running a Brady Quinn option on second and short against USC. This was more than that. David Romer, the patron saint of coach-strategery-questioning, would have approved of each call. A listing:
- With fourth and goal from the one, Ryan Perriloux cuts an option up for a touchdown, bringing LSU to within 3.
- On fourth and five from the twenty five, Matt Flynn scrambles for a first down. LSU goes on to score a touchdown. (At this point LSU K Colt David has already missed a 43-yarder; Miles is passing up on a 42 yard attempt.)
- On fourth and three from the Florida four, Matt Flynn rolls out, fakes a run, then pulls up to hit Demetrius Byrd in the endzone for a touchdown.
- LSU converts twice on the final, game-winning drive, once on fourth and one from their own 49, again on fourth and inches from the Florida five. Both times Jacob Hester bulls his way to first down yardage.
Three decisions to go were on fourth and short deep in Florida territory, and each turned a field goal attempt with a shaky kicker (David isn't very good and would finish the night 0-2, with one of the misses from 36) into a vital touchdown. One kept David from attempting a 42-yarder and eventually turned into another LSU touchdown; the last was the fourth and short on LSU's side of the field. Taken together they are a breathtaking tribute to offensive efficiency: four of LSU's nine drives against the Gators ended in the endzone. A further two ended in makable field goal attempts. There is a difference between this and mindless aggression.
The final call is the least debatable. Kicking a field goal is not automatic (LSU's kicker had already missed a 36-yarder) and gives Florida the ball back with about 2:30 on the clock to drive for the win. Going, on the other hand, either leads to Florida with the ball on their own six, needing a first down to kill the game, or what actually happened: first and goal, eventual touchdown, harried Florida drive that needs to go the length of the field to win the game. Anyone with a passing familiarity of the probabilities involved here should understand that going for it is the far superior choice, but how many coaches would pass up the temptation of a chip-shot field goal there? Certainly not our current set, and probably very few across the country.
Anyone protesting that had one of these attempts failed the consensus here would be "Les Miles is an idiot" has not lingered long over these passages or has forgotten certain things if they have. If ever I was going to turn my back on the Gospel of Expectation, it would have been after the Wisconsin game during the Year of Infinite Pain, when Carr decided to go for it on fourth and goal from the one. Matt Lentz tripped, Kevin Grady got stoned, and Michigan would go on to lose by a field goal. That game's UFR (a truly embryonic edition... the feature has come a long way in two years) makes one brief mention of it:
Still the right call.
So there you go. Miles made the right call five times and turned a loss into a victory.
Meanwhile, even the best coaches occasionally succumb to brainlock in the heat of the moment. Everyone's -- and this blog includes itself in this everyone -- prodigal coaching genius Urban Meyer blew 20 seconds after Hester's conversion before calling timeout, then failed to call another timeout after Florida's opening play on their final drive ended up in-bounds short of the sticks. When the Gators managed to cross midfield they had twelve seconds and had to settle for one harried play and a Hail Mary. If Meyer had used his timeouts appropriately by immediately calling timeout after every LSU or Florida play that ran the clock after Hester's conversion, Florida would have had a minute and a half to play with and an excellent shot at a game-winning touchdown of its own. That was coaching malpractice on a staggering scale.
There's a post about this on the Fanhouse, but I will repeat myself here: that game should forever dispel the notion that Les Miles is just an empty hat along for the ride with an epic amount of talent. Said talent bumper-crop doesn't appear to be materializing, at least not on offense. Matt Flynn threw horribly behind his receivers several times, finished with 144 yards passing, and threw an ugly interception. Primary Flynn target Early Doucet missed the game. Jacob Hester, who is From Nebraska even if he's actually from Louisiana, was admirably effective at battering his way forward and is now a local hero for all time but will make the NFL at the same time I do. The LSU offense replaces three first-round picks, returns (I believe) only five starters, and is breaking in a quarterback with only moderate talent and one career start. This is not a team that should put up 28 points (with two missed field goals) against the #9 team in the country on just nine drives.
The reason they reached that number is that Les Miles took stock of the options he had and let 'er rip. Average coaching loses that game. Good coaching loses that game. Miles and his staff were brilliant in one of the marquee games of the season, and LSU is #1.
I am sold. I will sign on the line that is dotted. Get some coffee, Les.
- Harbaugh? No. A group of friends and I watched the afternoon and late games together and everyone watching the USC-Stanford game started out conflicted save our resident Auburn guy, but when an impossible fourth and twenty turned into a first and goal, everyone whooped, and when that kid with a 1570 SAT stabbed his foot down for the winning points, everyone whooped again, and for a moment all that crap over the summer was forgiven. But it's just one game. The parallels between grabbing Harbaugh after that and Notre Dame dumping a ten-year extension on Weis are too eerie. He hasn't proven anything yet, and while I think there's plenty of evidence he'll be very good he's too much of a risk when Miles is out there, even leaving aside the garbage over the summer.
- Did we play a game? I guess we did. And of course this is the game that DeBord decides to open with something other than zone left and balance his run-pass ratio against a weaker opponent. He even threw the ball with Savoy in the game. Does he just do these things to spite me? Hey, Debord, I really hate it when we put up 50 points. Loathe it.
- An unwelcome addition to the playbook: an unbalanced line with two wide receivers in a twins look with a tight end to their side. The tight end is covered up in this look and is an ineligible man if he goes downfield. Michigan was 100% run out of this, IIRC. It worked well, albeit against Eastern Michigan, and clearly seems like a Debord Trickery special.
- Final special teams tally: one KO return inside our twenty, another instance of our punt gunners failing to do
wn a Zoltan hanger before it rolled into the endzone, two onside kicks recovered (to be fair, the second was about as perfect as onside kicks get), one instance of a punt returner failing to pick up a bouncing ball at the nine and getting Michigan pinned at the one, and one blocked extra point run back for a conversion. Michigan puts the 'special' in special teams.
- Blaming our special teams failings on our lack of a special teams coach is a shallow reading of things. I don't think many teams have a dedicated special teams coach, but they manage to do without. I do think it's indicative of a larger pattern: this team is not well coached. From the blocked field goals to the extra-point where Mike Hart ran on the field to be an eleventh guy, special teams has been a clusterf*** all year... just like our defense against even the wussiest spread option teams. Also, there were an epic number of off-field incidents in the offseason; this has lasted into the year. Manningham, Minor, and Babb all missed this game. Warren was also held out of the first series for a disciplinary matter. The overall picture painted is of a team rapidly spiraling into disarray.
- Michigan's learned nothing from redshirts blown in the past. It's mind-bogglingly frustrating to see Martell Webb, James Rogers, Troy Woolfolk, and Zion Babb on the field. Not one of these players is going to do anything this year to help the team, and whatever tiny experience they pick up this year is absolutely not worth blowing a potential starter's fifth year. Two words: Prescott Burgess.
- The mind boggles even further when Michigan's refusal to run their actual offense in garbage time is considered. If they think that getting Ryan Mallett reps in garbage time is not a useful way to increase his readiness, why the hell are so many scrubs not redshirting this year?
- Carlos Brown showed nothing in extensive time, and Brandon Minor hasn't been very impressive this year either. Both seem like very fast guys who can run straight ahead into a major hole but provide no YAC and can't make anyone miss. McGuffie has a wide open shot at the job. (Also, he's healthy again: 272 yards on 18 carries, 6 TDs. Schwing!)
- No Graham or Thompson this week, and no Mouton until very late. After the first play he was in on, Mouton started limping around, so maybe his ankle injury was pretty severe and is still lingering? I certainly hope so; if that's not the case he's really unlikely to be a contributor down the road.
- One bright spot: the corner play, IMO, has been pretty good for a few weeks now.
- Slocum finally played. Woo.
Not that Emu.
|Head Coach, LSU|
|Head Coach @ Okie State||2001-2004|
|TE Coach w/ Dallas||1998-2000|
|Offensive Coordinator @ Okie State||1995-1997|
|Assistant @ Michigan||1987-1994|
|Assistant @ Colorado||1982-1986|
|Grad Assistant @ Michigan||1980-1981|
|Two-year letterman at Michigan|
If you've spent the last two months somewhere other than Pluto, you might be familiar with the background of Les Miles. A former offensive lineman under Bo, Miles gave up his job to work for 8k per year as a grad assistant in the early 80s, joined Colorado's staff when McCartney was hired there. He returned to Michigan in the late 80s, leaving for the offensive coordinator position at Oklahoma State. (I can't find out what Miles' exact role was at Colorado or Michigan during his years as an assistant; I assume given his background that he was an OL coach with some TE sprinkled in.) After a successful three-year stint, he spent three years in Dallas as a position coach before being named Oklahoma State's head coach. At Oklahoma State, he took over a program that had gone 5-6, 5-6, and 3-8 in the three years after Miles' term as offensive coordinator. Accomplishments at Oklahoma State:
2001: OSU upsets Oklahoma 16-13 in the final game of Miles' debut season.
2002: The Cowboys are 2-4 midway through 2002 but turn the season around with their first win over Nebraska in 41 years.
2002: OSU defeats Texas A&M the week after the Nebraska win. It's the Pokes' first win over A&M since the conference was formed.
2002: Miles is the only coach in the nation to defeat OU coach Bob Stoops twice when the Cowboys roll past the Sooners 38-28 in the 2002 regular-season finale. With his second consecutive Bedlam win, Miles becomes the first OSU coach to defeat Nebraska and Oklahoma in the same season.
2002: Miles is named Big 12 Coach of the Year.
2002: The Cowboys win their first bowl game since 1988 with a 33-23 win over Southern Mississippi in the Houston Bowl.
2003: OSU defeats Kansas State, the eventual Big 12 champion, to end a nine- game losing streak against the Wildcats.
2003: The Cowboys post only their second win over Texas Tech since the Barry Sanders era.
2004: OSU plays in the Cotton Bowl, the Cowboys' first January bowl game in 55 years. OSU loses 31-28 to Ole Miss.
2004: The Cowboys open the season with a road win over UCLA, OSU's first season-opening win in the Miles era.
2004: OSU plays in its third consecutive bowl for only the second time in school history.
After a 4-7 first year, Miles was 24-14 at a school that had experienced very little success... ever. Stassen comparables for the span from 1990-2000:
Oklahoma State's 9-4 2004 was their best year since back to back 10-2 years in 1987 and 1988 driven by Thurman Thomas and Barry Sanders.
On the strength of this excellent performance at Big 12 Kentucky, he was hired to replace Nick Saban at LSU. In about two and a half years at LSU, he's lost four games. The Tigers are #1 in the blogpoll and face Florida this weekend; win and a trip to the national championship game is likely. It's not often you can pick off a coach coming off a national championship run.
Xs and Os Proficiency: This is the great unknown with Miles. His three years as Oklahoma State's offensive coordinator came before 2000, the point at which comprehensive statistics are available online via the NCAA, so we're left with only season totals from James Howell's database:
That appears to be a nice upward trajectory, but even the 8-4 '97 season featured a couple stinkers: a 27-3 loss to Texas Tech, 21 points in a season opening win over 1-10 Iowa State, 20 points against Purdue in a bowl loss (though this might have been a year when Purdue had a surprisingly stingy defense).
The numbers at right are those of LSU and Oklahoma State w
ith Miles as head coach, provided on the assumption that as a former offensive assistant and coordinator he has something to do with them. They're good but not Tedford-good; the interesting thing is that there seems to be a clear disconnect between Miles' scoring offense and total offense. Each Miles team is significantly better at the latter than the former (save last year, when it would have been hard to be better), occasionally by remarkable margins. Is this luck? Turnover margin? (In the case of 2005, yes, as OSU was second in the country. Other than that, no.) Excellent special teams? A refusal to punt from inside the opponent's 40? I don't know. It does seem like an indicator that Miles is doing something subtle right that most coaches are not.
That's nice, but the most appealing thing about Miles is that this section might be something of a moot point. Miles, like Mark Richt and Bobby Bowden, has positioned himself as a CEO sort that does not get into the nitty-gritty details of coordinating. Instead, he goes out and hires the best available guys to coach his offense and defense, then replaces them with the best available guys when they get poached. Witness defensive coordinator Bo Pelini and offensive coordinators Jimbo Fisher/Gary Crowton. No hiring your buddies despite some clear evidence they aren't Michigan-caliber tactically.
Recruiting: It would be nice if Miles had a stop somewhere between recruiting purgatory and recruiting Nirvana to evaluate, but he does not. At LSU, things have been outstanding. Miles signed the #4 class last year, the #7 class the year before, and the #22 class in 2005 despite only having 13 scholarships to give.
Is this entirely an artifact of LSU's status as the lone major football school in the nation's most talent-dense state? Let's break it down:
|2006||26||13||3||1||2||7 (3 GA, 1 FL, 1 AL, 2 MS)|
|2007||26||11||5||--||--||10 (1 MI, 2 AL, 2 FL, 1 GA, 2 MS, 1 NC, 1 TN)|
Survey says... sort of. Anytime you can load up on 11-13 instate kids and have 8 or so of them be four or five stars, you are starting ahead of the pack. But Miles' most recent class has 15 out of state recruits, every one of them four stars or better save two(?!) kickers and a three-star tight end out of Texas. This includes potentially huge flake Joseph Barksdale from Cass Tech, a guy the Michigan coaches either screwed up with or passed on because of the potentially huge flake thing. You can spin this as a Miles negative if you want, but LSU doesn't seem to have more problems than most teams with bad apples. They were a nonfactor in the Fulmer Cup -- Michigan finished like fifth -- and don't appear beset by internal strife like the current Michigan team is rumored to be.
One other note: Miles' distinct lack of JUCO/prep guys is a positive. The prep guy, Keiland Williams, went to Hargrave Military for a year; the two JUCOs were offensive linemen to plug a hole. Michigan went to the prep route for Marques Slocum and took a JUCO last year; Miles might take the occasional guy from these sources and that will probably be fine.
Potential Catches: There are many. One: the maelstrom of rumor and innuendo suggesting that Miles is a nefarious win-at-all-costs type who will tie Michigan's virtue to the train tracks and skitter off into the night. This can be uncleverly dubbed the "Loose Morals" issue. Said maelstrom has its genesis in the current coaching staff and the insiders attached to them. This is a group of people with every motivation to tar potential external candidates who are likely to clean house, so chances are things are exaggerated or really old -- the last time Miles was around the program was 15 years ago -- but that isn't. Even if the accusations levied turn out to be false or piddling, they serve as an indication that the entrenched regime would prefer a dead gopher to Miles. And I don't mean Glen Mason.
There are some indicators Miles might not be the best fit that have better documentation, though. From a post this summer titled "Les Miles Isn't A Candidate For Anything":
When Mike Gundy replaced Les Miles as coach he instituted, um, something other than anarchy:
"Several players said the day [new OK State Coach] Gundy replaced Les Miles as head coach he established guidelines that players attend class, be on time for team meetings, adhere to workout routines, represent the program well and play hard."
Nine kids thought these were ridiculous guidelines and left the team.
Um... not good. Maybe this is sycophantic reporting that chooses to phrase things in a way maximally flattering to Gundy and maximally insulting to Miles, but when a new coach comes in and has to clear out 10% of the team that's not a good sign. Then there were the dual outbursts of this summer:
First of all, the guy has a verbal diarrhea that fits in at Michigan about as well as John L Smith controlled his emotions. This very week Miles said a bunch of intemperate things about the Pac 10 on a radio show that stand in marked contrast to Carr's reticence to do anything that could be construed as campaigning during the Michigan-Florida election window last December. A few months ago he told an alumni gathering that LSU has "a new rival in fucking Alabama," which is not only a sentence that can change directions radically based on punctuation ("we have a new rival in fucking: Alabama!") but the sort of public utterance that would cause the Michigan establishment to get woozy and collapse, Southern Belle style, into Mary Sue Coleman's arms.
I don't care if Miles opens every press conference with more profanity than "It Hits The Fan" as long as he never punts from inside his opponent's 40, but I am not the man with the plan here. Others may see this as a major hurdle.
I dunno... do you want your head coach to sound like this? (Not a rhetorical question; I don't know if I do or not.)
(Miles, not Godzilla.) This is after getting thrashed by Oklahoma 52-9. He seems pissed, which is a change, but all in all he holds it together in what must be a difficult moment.
Relative Compensation: As of November, Miles made $1.5 million, which is approximately equal to Lloyd Carr's current salary. Michigan will have to up this significantly. There is also the hurdle of $1.25 million buyout should he take the Michigan job. Miles would be expensive-ish. Probably less so than Tedford and Ferentz but not Brian Kelly cheap; this should not be a concern for an athletic department seeking to maintain its cash cow.
One potential hitch: Miles' success seems more tied than most to his ability to locate (and pay) high profile assistants, so the true cost of hiring him might be higher than just his salary. Dollars to donuts Michig
an lays out more for an OC under Miles than they would under Tedford.
Would He Take The Job? Yes. Local columnist Scott Rabalais:
Since Michigan's 39-7 embarrassment Saturday against Oregon, just about everyone I've spoken to in and around the LSU program (except Athletic Director Skip Bertman) believes Miles would take the Michigan job if offered should Lloyd Carr retire or resign.
I personally think Les absolutely leaves LSU for Michigan (assuming the season unfolds such that they still want him by the end of it), and I wouldn't blame him at all. Michigan is his alma mater. He's a Bo Schembechler guy, and who WOULDN'T take the opportunity to pay tribute to his hero by following in his footsteps?
Former teammate and close friend John Wangler:
"When and if the opportunity comes up, I think Les will consider it strongly," said John Wangler, a former Michigan quarterback and a close friend of Miles. "I don't think there's reason to tap dance around it. He'd have to look at it seriously."
This is such a slam dunk that all coaches clearly less attractive than Miles need no consideration, assuming institutional hurdles don't eliminate him... and after Appalachian State I think the chances of that are slim.
Overall Attractiveness: I don't know. Obviously what he's done at LSU has been impressive, but pockmarked by things like this:
That is not encouraging. On the other hand, I don't care that Okie State lost this game 52-9...
...the idea of a Michigan head coach saying, let alone meaning "let 'er rip" gives the tingly bits some tingle.
Accusations that he's living off Saban's players ring hollow. This is his third year, and while the guys playing may have been recruited by Saban they have largely been coached by Miles. Tyrone Willingham is not responsible for Notre Dame being 0-8 and Nick Saban is not responsible for LSU being #1. Maybe he's not a super genius like Weis E. Coyote, but he's forged a gorilla with a chainsaw for a penis out of an acknowledgment of his own limitations, a willingness to defer to those more expert than him, and general good management of players and coaches. There is a skill in that generally gets you paid lots of money, be it on a football field or in a boardroom, and it should not be dismissed.
Meanwhile, Miles has proven in the past couple years that his recruiting is not solely because of LSU's status as the flagship program of Louisiana. He can recruit monster classes to a school with a lot of built-in advantages. Michigan is one of these programs. There is unlikely to be a huge dropoff if Miles should leave; will they accuse the next coach of winning with Miles' players?
Improprieties proven are insufficient to disqualify him from the job, and those rumored are just that: rumored. Miles has never been in trouble with the NCAA; he played and coached at Michigan for a total of 15 years; he knows what the program and the school are about. Unless there is some proof he he cutting corners, the insiders should be ignored and Miles should be a strong candidate for the job. Just hire someone (me!) to call timeouts.
Eastern! Respected intra-county rival! How we respect you and your respectable program which is worth respecting!
Run Offense vs. EMU
Pittsburgh, last seen losing by ND-like margins to UConn and Virginia, is the best team Eastern has played this year, and they're still 83rd in rush defense. But things, while uneven, haven't been totally humiliating. Vandy put up 173 yards but needed 44 carries to do it. Ball State's RBs combined for 35 carries at 3.4 YPC. It hasn't been a total slaughter.
Those numbers came against Howard, which isn't a guy (or a duck) but a I-AA HBC. While Michigan is no stranger to giving up mind-bending numbers of rushing yards to I-AA schools, neither is it in the practice of having the equivalent of a I-AA rushing attack. Though there were significant struggles against Northwestern, apparently John Gill is one of Northwestern's anomalous badasses; no one on Eastern will come close to matching that performance. If this is not a steady grind reminiscent of the first three games, it will bode very unwell for future contests.
One note: there are well-sourced rumors flying around that Brandon Minor is going to miss this game. Carlos Brown might get extensive time, assuming we don't trail at the half.
Key Matchup: Interior OL versus DT penetration. Mike Hart has had to deal with DTs in his grill for two straight weeks, breaking 100 yards only via repetition and, well, that's it: repetition. Also his ineffable greatness, but mostly just getting pounded into the line 30 or 44 times. If Eastern Michigan DTs cross the LOS just cancel the season. Again.
Pass Offense vs. EMU
Henne is back as Michigan's full-time starter, so the training wheels can come off the offense and we can risk things like simple outs against terrified three-deep coverage. Like the rush defense, EMU's pass defense has been erratic. They held NIU's QB to 128 passing yards in a win and intercepted Vandy's Chris Nickson four times but also gave up 308 yards and four touchdowns to Ball State's Nate Davis and allowed Pitt's Bill Stull to have an efficient 14 for 20, 177 yard, 1 TD day. I am confident in saying that Henne is better than Davis or Stull and whatever grab bag of wideouts and tight ends we have still includes a few guys who Eastern is going to cower before.
One item to look for: who replaces Massey? Tight end depth was a major issue in the spring when Carson Butler was off the team and Massey was dinged up. The spring game featured Chris McLaurin, a converted linebacker, and Andre Criswell, a converted fullback, conclusively proving McLaurin couldn't block, and Criswell couldn't run, and neither could catch. We could just go with a three-wide set and force opponents to respect it by, like, passing out of it. We could more heavily feature Mark Moundros, though he's been uninspiring and with Moudros comes the dread fullback shuffle. More likely we'll try to sort through the wreckage at TE to find an acceptable alternative. McLaurin saw Massey's time against Northwestern.
Key Matchup: Mike Debord versus throwing only when we have to.
Run Defense vs. EMU
Eastern ran for 37 yards against Pitt and 62 yards against Vandy. Only one anomalous 68 yard romp against NIU is keeping their 100th-ranked rushing offense from levels of epic suck matched only by Notre Dame. They run a spread unless they've vastly changed their offense from last year, so there's always the chance Michigan implodes and Eastern puts up like 300 yards, but... uh... no.
Key Matchup: Ron English versus Getting Too Cute. Stunting all over creation has gotten Michigan in trouble against both Appalachian State and Northwestern; simply driving EMU's crappy OL back should be sufficient.
Pass Defense vs. EMU
EMU QB Andy Schmitt against Vandy:
Yikes. Eastern's passing attack is thus far even worse than their run game, 110th in the country largely because Schmitt went nuts against Howard.
Meanwhile, Michigan's secondary turned in an excellent day versus Northwestern a week after leaving a lot of Penn State receivers open but getting away with it due to a fierce pass rush and the tao of Morelli. Things are on the upswing after the worst performance ever by a Michigan secondary against Oregon -- probably not even exaggeration, that -- and Eastern seems more likely to threaten themselves instead of Michigan.
Key Matchup: Safeties versus enormous screwups that cost Michigan touchdowns. We had another against Northwestern; these must halt.
...will not be relevant, and if they are you probably don't want to know about it.
Key Matchup: KC Lopata, please don't suck..
Vast spreads against MAC teams do not warrant kitten talismans.
- Eastern runs for anything at all.
- Eastern throws for anything at all.
- We can't run. Worry lots if that.
Cackle with knowing glee if...
- Mallett plays the second half...
- ...with Carlos Brown.
- Uh... we kick off? It's EMU.
Fear/Paranoia Level: 2 out of 10. (Baseline 5; -1 for MAC Opponent, -1 for MAC Opponent From Michigan, -1 for ...That Doesn't Have Brian Kelly, -1 for MAC Opponent From Washtenaw County, +1 for The Horror).
Desperate need to win level: 10 out of 10. (B
aseline 5; +1 for We Must Maintain In-County Bragging Rights, +1 for If This Happens Twice In One Season My Brain Might Melt, +1 for It's EMU, +1 for Seriously, +1 for SERIOUSLY.)
Loss will cause me to... iiiiiiiiit's kitten time!
Win will cause me to... shrug, watch OSU-Purdue with great interest.
The strictures and conventions of sportswriting compel me to predict:
Eastern Michigan is the worst team Michigan will play all year and should roll over and die. Yeah, there's a chance things implode but... no.
Finally, three opportunities for me to look stupid Sunday:
- Mike Hart sets the record at the end of the first quarter.
- 6 sacks.
- 42-17, Michigan.