I'VE HAD JUST ABOUT ENOUGH OF YOU SONNY
When my DVRed episode of South Park finished and returned to live TV yesterday, I found myself staring down the unholy maw of ESPN Hollywood. The very beast! It was everything you expected. OMG FUNKY CAMERA ANGLES(!), your standard "we're ripping off Entertainment Tonight" music, and a fluff rating so high cotton candy wouldn't be caught dead with it. I actually found it somewhat funny--though in the same sense I found Henne's self-sacking on the final play of the Wisconsing game funny--that anyone thought ESPN Hollywood was a good idea. Hell, even Pure Evil Marketing People (PEMP? Sounds like a new official acronym... the PEMP juice possibilities are multitude) think ESPN Hollywood is freakin' stupid.
And that's not even the most hilariously strange idea ESPN's had recently. No, that crown goes to "Classic NOW, " which is a "fast-paced, news- and dialogue-driven primetime series [that] will look at current sports events, examining their relevance and putting them in historic perspective." Because that's exactly what ESPN Classic needs: a news show.
(HT: Off Wing Opinion)
I wish I had written... "The Unfortunate Geometry of Chance" over at DC United blog the DCenters. United just had a 3-1 aggregate lead at the forty minute mark of the second leg of an important cup match against a heavily favored South American team. Since the first leg ended 1-1 and DC had scored twice away already, they would win the away-goals first tiebreaker. The only way they could lose would be to concede three in the second half, an epic collapse for any soccer team.
This happened. The DCenters is not pleased, and he wrapped all my thoughts on cursed (accent that e, bitches!) randomness into a lovely post anyone who buys my thinking at all should read.
You're paying for that. Official mgoblog whipping boy Terry Foster has broken my irony meter:
Why Do We Listen to Beno Cook?
Sorry guys. I don't get why Beno Cook matters any more.
He bumbles and stumbles and makes predictions that never come true. Yet ESPN and everybody else parades him around as if he matters.
I say enough of Beno. He's had his moment in the sun.
Hey, at least I get Foster's name right.
I can't get enough of this stuff that DaveSez and his collaborator post on a semi-regular basis. This one's about zone blocking and is totally rad.
Ballots and comments re: ballots go here.
I didn't want to say it because I love the guy, but since Jason Avant said it himself, I'll talk about it:
"I lost the game on third-and-(8)," Avant said after Michigan's 23-20 loss to Wisconsin on Saturday night in its Big Ten opener. "I dropped the ball. ... That was the biggest play of the game, and I dropped it."
He's at least partially right. The three-and-out followed by the long UW field goal drive was a key turning point in the game. But it wasn't all on Avant. Vijay's pointed out something that I think is very enlightening: the way Carr coaches leaves no room for error. The 1st and 10, 2nd and 6, 3rd and 3 (or eight) style means that you have to execute 10, 12, 15 plays successfully to score. When Carr's forced out of that and has to score relatively quickly, it often happens. The margin for the offense in this game was even more razor-thin because of Henne's inaccuracy and the inability of the line to push the UW DL off the ball on short yardage. Thus no points in the second half except off the flea-flicker. Thus 260+ yards of offense in the first half and only 13 points to show for it. Thus kittens with high-powered sniper rifles.
IBFC weighs in with some stuff a little more off the cuff than his usual "this is the final word on the subject and I win because I am awesome" posts, so I can disagree some without being obviously wrong. Read his first and then return to this response, point by point.
- Forget whether he misses Braylon Edwards or not, he is just simply playing significantly worse football than last year. Yes, amen. The receivers are open and Henne just isn't hitting them. There is the occasional dropped ball, but there was the occasional dropped ball with Braylon, too.
- I suspect that we grossly overrated our offensive line. And that's what Tom thought, too. He appears to be right. We've got two 5th year senior guards and a fifth year senior tackle who have crushed the MAC opponents on their schedule but have only been sporadically effective in the run game. I was astounded to find that Martin had like 91 yards on 18 carries, because it certainly didn't seem like that.
- The return of a favorite Michigan script. Okay, agreement here. Where's the beef?
- ...we are learning what a complete and total fraud the entire off-season Terry Malone hype campaign was. Okay. I haven't gone over the tape for Wisconsin yet, but I don't think this is necessarily the truth. People are always complaining about the playcalling in every loss and usually the wins that don't include 30+ points, but at some point you just have to step back and say that perhaps Malone is doing the best he can with a limited set of tools. Down Mike Hart and Jake Long and with an erratic-at-best Henne, all Malone can do is call something and pray. When Avant drops a key third down pass... well, what can you say? He was open, the throw was there, and the man with the most reliable hands in the universe drops the ball. That seems like the summary of the year to me: a good script ruined by Joel Schumacher (OMG BAT NIPPLES). Eventually that's on the coaches, but I'm still in Malone's corner for the moment.
- someone watch our punt returns and explain to me what Hood and Stewart are doing? Hell if I know. It's ridiculous. We never double the gunners and we don't attempt to block punts. We set up neither the block nor the return, and unless the punter launches a 55 yard bomb, Breaston is catching the ball with someone in his face instantaneously. It's inexplicable and maddening.
This is what we call "zeitgeist": No longer are people finding the site by searching for "SHIREEN SASKI NUDE"; no, now it's "lloyd carr michigan football fire." I miss the days of lustful college hockey fans.
Press conference contains news, film at eleven:
- On Jeremy Van Alstyne and Mike Kolodziej's injuries: "I don't expect either one of them back this week. I want to make this clear. Jeremy, the reason he didn't play ... is he's fought a hamstring injury all fall. It had nothing to do with his effort. That wasn't part of his deal. Mike Kolodziej, there are some tests being taken, and we just have to wait and hope things will work out so he can come back."
- On Doug Dutch's health: "He's back and ready to go."
- On whether he expects Zoltan Mesko to redshirt: "Yes."
- On Jake Long's status: "Day to day. He's more than day to day, but he's working at it." [I've actually got a source on this one: he's still on crutches, so I wouldn't expect him any time soon. He's not "day to day." Also the source reports that Long and Kolodziej are A) very large, B) sweet and deferential, and C) Have strange athletic department people drop by every day to make sure they're in class. -ed]
I love the new Harris poll because it makes the BlogPoll look really good in comparison. The inaugural edition features votes for Illinois (who lost to MSU by like 80 billion), Bowling Green (who lost to Boise State by like 80 billion), Syracuse (Syracuse?) and Idaho (IDAHO?!?!?!) MDG has all your indignation needs met over at his blog:
Who ever voted for Idaho, should have his dick removed.
Another indication of failure: Michigan is still in it, at #25. The AP had the good sense to boot us.
Dear SI On Campus "Link Master": Love the page. It's wonderful, etc. One thing: your "THREE BLOGS YOU MUST READ(!!!)" links are not permalinks. Since you're just linking to the front page of a blog, often people click it and get whatever the latest bullshit about kittens is instead of what you actually linked to. Just a helpful critique.
In BlogPoll News... We've added a pair of bloggers that cover teams previously unrepresented: Around The Oval is a tOSU blog and Golden Tornado is a Georgia Tech blog. Welcome, gentlemen, just don't vote for Idaho.
Also! Congratulations are in order for the fine lads of Football Outsiders, who have been hired by FOX to work their statistical mojination in the big time. Aye, 'tis well deserved. (HYYYAARRR!)
Henceforth and herewith, let it be known that this is no longer a Michigan sportsblog. It's a happy kitten love blog!
OMG SOOOO CUTE!!!
OMG ON A PIANO! Can't you feel your disappointment and hatred just melting away?
OMG. O. M. G.
No kitten! Bad kitt--... good kitten. Good kitten KILL THEM ALL KITT--
This wasn't the way it was supposed to go. It was supposed to be something like what happened to Big Ten Wonk: start a blog, operate it with verve and panache, and the team nearest and dearest to your heart will repay your affection and devotion with a remarkable season, going something like 37-2 or whatever.
Check and check.
Well, Michigan's got the -2 part done already, but the 35- bit looks like it will take them the better part of eight to ten seasons to reach. Let it be declared that this is the low ebb of Michigan athletics in my cognitive memory, which dates to the late 80s. Nothing good has happened since the end of the Northwestern game last year. Michigan was humiliated by an average-at-best Ohio State team, then blew a 10 point fourth quarter lead against Texas. The basketball team either beat up women or broke critical portions of their bodies or both and limped through another year of miserable failure. The hockey team blew a 3-0 lead in the second round of the NCAA tournament and then lost its best player to the NHL at the last moment, blindsiding teammates, coaches, and fans... again. This football season has two scintillating victories over MAC teams and then two other events which are strangely absent from my memory.
All told, you have a football team that's lost its last four games against non-MAC competition, a hockey team whose mythical aura of tournament-crushing was punctured in a major way and now limps into this season sizably reduced in stature, and a basketball team whose persistently hilarious incompetence is a source of black humor, scorn, and little else. The soccer world has a term for that one magical year when everything comes together and championships and cups flow like Guinness in Dublin: annus mirabilis. Michigan is currently undergoing the theoretical opposite of that--annus terriblus, maleficus, Stephen A Smithicus, whatever--and it is Not A Good Time. It is Too Little Fun. If Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer is to be believed, all across Michigan men are testosterone-depressed weenies--the birth rates in the state will plummet nine months from now.
I'm not one to panic. This has happened before; Michigan's 2003 team lost to Oregon and Iowa early in the year and then didn't lose again until the Rose Bowl. The key difference between that team and this one, however, appears to be that the 2003 team was good. Both losses were due to a horrendous special teams meltdown that was largely fluky. The 2005 team appears to be bad. What appeared to be an unrepeated offensive meltdown against Notre Dame has revealed itself to be no such thing. Chad Henne has gone backwards (and unless you think Braylon was 11 feet tall and/or Stretch Armstrong, he wouldn't be much help). The interior of the offensive line completely failed to push back the 200 pound 10th graders Wisconsin ran out there to play on the DL. Steve Breaston can be found on the proverbial milk carton. Our running backs are fumblers.
This is usually the point in the year during which Carr does his best Wayne Fontes impression and pulls Michigan's ass out of the fire, but... yeah. Not so much. Unless a miraculous turnaround arrives right freakin' now, MSU is going to beat us, and since we haven't held any running back that's opposed us under 100 yards you have to figure the Minnesota game will be a dogfight at the very least. At this point the Alamo Bowl looks like an appealing proposition.
So, rather than list all the things I was completely and totally wrong about, I'll save you all some time and just list all the things I was right about:
- Drew Stanton is the best QB in the Big Ten.
- Indiana is bad.
- The Gang of Six is a crappy idea.
Safe to say that the only people in the blogosphere who have managed to be wronger than me have been the "Gang of Six, er, Two... er... Probably Just USC" (BTW: USF 45-14 Louisville? QED, MFer) but I would trade that--even though the OMG BLOGGERZ set would be intolerable--for a football team that wasn't squandering every advantage it ever had.
The proposition that Lloyd Carr is somehow responsible for Max Martin's fumble or Henne's slide to "maybe better than Michael Robinson" still has a faint patina of ridiculousness, but 0-7 is incrementally harder to justify than 0-6, especially since the script seems so similar: domination of the first half but no reflection of such on the scoreboard, turnovers, conservative offensive playcalling (questionable in this game--did you really want Henne's Random Pass Generator hurling the ball downfield), and a late defensive collaspse == uptick in knife sales across the Wolverine diaspora. Remember kids, cut down the artery, not across.
There will be no "Fire Carr?" ponderings here since it's a moot point: he's not going anywhere until he chooses to do so. You can't fire someone with his track record unless you can get someone like Bill Callahan, and, my friends, The Great One is busy beating Pitt 7-6. But I'm tired of this, like everyone is, and at this point I'd probably greet Carr's retirement with renewed optimism towards the program. At least, I will if this damn pill bottle's lid won't come off.
Trackbacks and comments about the action this weekend go here. How about that Army-ISU game?