I'VE HAD JUST ABOUT ENOUGH OF YOU SONNY
Post 'em here.
Well, that's certainly a way to put it. Check out this disgraceful "unbiased" AP article on the Cal-Illinois game. Though the thing is littered with stuff that screams OMG I WRITE FOR THE CAL DAILY BEAR OR WHATEVER, the passage that is most divorced from reality and clearly from the pen of an addled Cal undergrad:
Cal already lost starting quarterback Nate Longshore to a broken leg in the season opener, but the injured players' replacements have been uniformly impressive. That's gratifying to Tedford, who has spent four years building a roster with depth comparable to rival USC and the nation's best teams.
Er. Joseph "Booya" Ayoob completed a whopping eight passes against Illinois after going hilariously 0-11 against Sacramento State. Cal trailed this thing in the fourth quarter. At this point in the season, how can you claim that the Tedheads are anything approaching good?
Joey on the ball. Straight Bangin' has links to the halftime show if you missed it and are inclined to fix that issue. It's Monty Python, so some sort of dorks-only disclaimer should be issued. But you're reading a blog; I figure you knew that already. Blue Cats and Red Sox goes into extensive detail as well. Photos included. Yes, way too much emphasis on the halftime show, but it was Eastern Michigan, and this halftime show was even better than that one years ago when they did the Titanic music and then various bits of the band formed into a large, clearly boat-shaped object and other members formed into a large, clearly iceberg-shaped object and rammed into the boat, causing it to split and crumble. Which was also cool. But not as cool as a Bridge of Death re-enactment with Sparty forced to answer the question "HOW do you lose a seventeen point lead in six minutes?"
Roundtable Roundup #7 can be found over at Eagle In Atlanta; a fine job all around. I heartily agree with EDSBS about Brad Nessler, by the way. With Keith Jackson on a long, painful decline he's clearly the best play by play guy in college football. He's not Keith at his peak, but no one is. It helps that his partners, Bob Griese and Lynn Swann, are also amongst the best at their jobs, Swann in particular, who is actually a useful, intelligent sideline reporter and not some faux "babe" for middle-aged married guys to fantasize about when they're going about their monthly wife Xing. Now that Adrian Karsten is strangely and tragically departed from this mortal coil, there's not even a second place.
At least we aren't... Pitt. Man, the Wannstache honeymoon was cancelled due to suck, wasn't it? Pitt Sports Blather tries to cope by wallowing in the misery of others, and I have to admit that when I saw this:
1. That A Few, Brilliant Michigan State Spartans took post-game celebrations to a whole new level: More than anything else, watching Michigan State upset Notre Dame at home (thus beating the Irish five times in a row in South Bend) helped pick up my spirits again after the Pitt-Nebraska debacle (especially given the Domer a-hole who sat behind us in Heinz Field two weeks ago). But even that was nearly topped by the post-game celebration, during which a few Spartans took the Michigan State flag from their cheerleaders (green with a white block "S"), ran out on to the field, and planted the sucker on the fifty yard line while thousands of Notre Dame fans booed and howled. Call me sophomoric (and I am), but I thought it was laughing-till-my-sides-ached hilarious. Why hasn't anybody ever thought of planting a flag on an opponent's field before? It clearly beats jumping around on his logo. And of all places to invent the practice. Almost immediately, Lou Still-A-Domer Holtz was nearly jumping out of his seat on ESPN demanding that MSU "show some class" and "act like you've been there before." Admit it, Lou. It was funny. Especially because they did it to your Irish.
I heartily agreed in amazingly hypocritical fashion, and it's even funnier because they did that same thing two years ago. Sort of a painful funny given that we can't beat Notre Dame and manage to look like
UC-Davis Stanford whenever we play them, but funny nonetheless. The fact that a lot of Domers who came on here and flamed about me being a "whiner", etc., immediately got a foot in the ass from Providence Itself, had a touchdown stolen by bad refereeing (and questionable review), and then immediately started complaining about how MSU lacked class? Maybe there is a God after all. A God that enjoys playing cruel tricks on everyone, but a God nonetheless.
Also newly on the God-believing platform: Orson of EDSBS, who continues to write stuff that I read despite not particularly giving a damn about the events that produce the contents. 16-7, ugly to neutral observers and Pac-10 sophistication fetishists, but beautiful, beautiful, beautiful to the jean-shorts aficionados of the CFB blogosphere. There's something to be said for these grinding, bloody games which feature teams that "would punch the other team in the throat until one of them died in the effort," as Orson pithily summarizes. That 10-7 Miami-Florida State game was another example of an objectively terrible game that by the end was terrifically, mindbendingly tense, closer to a soccer game than a football game, every first down a precious diamond to hoard. You can keep your 38-35 shootouts. I'll take the streetfight every time.
The difference between dull (Pitt-Nebraska) and brutal but strangely attractive (UF-UT, Grace Jones) has everything to do with the stakes, the screaming insanity at the swamp, the lumbering moose presence of Phil Fulmer on the sidelines, and the fervrent hopes of a fanbase coming off a Zook hangover it would like to forget. The game's better because people care more, which is why no one really gives a damn about the Pac-10: 50k for UCLA-OU, USC still scraping to sell out, etc. If you can't convince your own locals you matter, how do you expect to convince anyone else?
More on the game can be found at Fanblogs. Mr. Donahue reasonably suggests that the Urban offense didn't exactly set fire to everything. This garnered a hilarious riposte from CFR: "At this point some are trying to justify their fears by piling on early." Wow. That's a spicy meatball of projection.
My pregame routine involves illegally parking a place I will not disclose because it has garnered my friend and I one ticket in four years, and thus is precious. Walking ensues, a winding path that takes us by the lumber yard, Elbel field, and the east side of the stadium, past all the tailgaters with enough coin to purchase a primo parking spot and enough ancient white person bling-equivalent (which turns out to be not much different from your urban bling: ginormous SUVs, though the AWPBE generally lacks spinny rims, unfortunately) to make said coin worthwhile. When I stroll through, the place is invariably packed with every variety of upper-middle-class late-middle-age your mind can muster, which is probably just one. That's fine, there is only one.
The point of all this verbal and literal meandering is as follows: when my wander reached the tailgate zone this Saturday, large swaths of it were empty. Say, 60%. While I'm sure this has happened before, I found the partially empty lot disquieting. The stadium was not much better; whoever had the two seats directly next to mine elected not to show. The final ominous note of discontent was an unprecedented smattering of boos when the pregame introductions got to Lloyd Carr.
Clearly, last week's improbable unvictory against Notre Dame broke some camel backs. There's a growing discontent with Carr directly traceable to the numbers "1" and "3": 1-3 against ND the last four games, 1-3 against OSU the last four games, 1-3 in the last four bowl games. I won't try to characterize the arguments against Carr. You can find two examples of the genre at Straight Bangin' and BenKepple.com. In its most succinct form, Joey presents the Litany Against Carr:
People like me are tired of Carr. We're tired of the predictable letdowns against seemingly inferior teams when relying on criteria like past recruiting hauls, perceived athletic strengths, and previous exploits to establish the relative strengths; we're tired of the scared mentality that governs preparation and game plans for road games; we're tired of the predictable schemes and inflexible formations; we're tired of the persistent inattentiveness given to areas of the game like special teams; we're tired of the program's inability to fully develop defensive talent. In short, we're tired of Michigan being less than what most seem to think it can be.
I am undecided. I think that all the reasons Joey spells out basically come down to "we lose too much," which is fine. I think we lose too much, too, but I am not so hasty to put all the blame on Carr.
There's an unstated assumption here: coaches are entirely responsible for their results. So when Michigan loses, people ask "how is this Carr's fault?" without asking the preliminary "is this Carr's fault?" It's the same thing everyone does when they ask "what is the meaning of life?" without considering whether there is one at all. (Yes, I just compared football to the fundamental question of human existence, providing definitive proof of what I believe the answer to be.) I submit that [swearing coming up] Shit Happens. And I know that's incredibly hard to believe given 1-3, 1-3, 1-3, but is the fact that Michigan State owns Notre Dame at home explainable? No. Is the fact that Ohio State can't beat Wisconsin explainable? No. Are there reasons behind these things? Probably not. Announcers grasp for meaning everywhere, so they spout off about being inside someone's head or having a team's number, implying that there is something intangible that's common across the years which explains the surprising dominance of one team over the other when no such thing exists. It's just probability.
It's akin to the old Mutual Fund Genius game. Take 32 mutual fund managers and then eliminate the ones who don't outperform the average of their brethren. After a year, you have 16 left. After two, 8, etc, until you get one guy who's beaten the average for five straight years. Is there a reason? No. In general your results will be normally distributed. The guy at the top is just lucky. There's no reason to expect his results to repeat (Hi, Tyrone Willingham!).
This picture is here because of ineffable math!
Carr is somewhat culpable for 9-3, 9-3, 9-3, 9-3, etc, etc, etc. The way he coaches leads to a lot of close games and reduces his team's theoretical talent advantage. But it's hard to do any better over the long run; check Michigan's record versus everyone else's over the last ten years or so. If Carr had gone 6-6, 8-4, 10-2, 12-0 over a four year span instead of 9-3, 9-3, 9-3, 9-3 everyone would declare Carr to be TEH OMG GENIUS (Hi, Jim Tressel!) but because he hasn't piled up wins in one particular year he gets Litanied against by frustrated fans.
I'm just as frustrated as all of you, but instead of blaming Carr I blame math, or God, or just the general bloody-mindedness of the universe. And I know exactly zero people who read this are going to buy it, but my mind is full of angles and statistics and distribution curves. It thinks in a fundamentally different fashion than your Aaron Taylor meathead contingent, and it's resigned me to football fatalism. Each game is Schrodinger's Cat with a slightly altered halflife based on talent and coaching, and the cat's been eating it on a regular basis lately.
By the way, if you're wondering whether or not this resigned, rational viewpoint is somehow freeing and relaxing, the answer is no. It does involve a lot of shaking my fist at the sky, screaming "why do you taunt me so? Just smite me fully and get it over with!" So I've got that going for me.
Whoops! Late. Sorry, slipped my mind.
Remember: no flaming, please.
Best. Halftime. Ever.
- Both Brandon Logan and Antonio Bass saw their first action of the season. Bass was expected, but Logan? Redshirt burning for a guy like Logan?
- Notable absences: Lentz, Van Alstyne, Mundy, and Dutch. Stenavich also came up hobbled late in the second (I think) and was replaced by Mitchell.
- The offensive line was patchwork. In Lentz' absence Mitchell and Bihl split series, Mitchell at LG and Bihl at C with Kraus occupying the other spot. Riley was flagged for holding and was beaten a couple other times in pass protection... against Eastern! Apprehension level++ re: RT. When Stenavich went out, Mitchell became the LT and Bihl was in at center. Jeremy Cuilla came off the bench next and appears to be the guy after Mitchell.
- Even though Will Johnson was listed as a starter, the starting DTs were Massey and Branch, who played most of the first half. Watson was again used sparingly. Biggs and Woodley were the first team DEs. Late in the game Crable came in (and almost had a couple sacks), as did Woods. Jamison also saw his first action of the season and had a badass sack.
- McClintock played zero snaps until garbage time.
- Michigan spent large portions of time in a nickel type set with Jamar Adams playing the part of "extra linebacker placed over slot reciever".
- Obviously, Max Martin got the bulk of the first team carries.
General offensive impressions:
- A lot of really nice rushing plays that probably don't mean anything in the grand scheme of things. Martin was extremely effective at finding the correct cutback lanes in the toss sweep plays he was running, but Michigan was crushing the EMU front so utterly it's hard to tell how effective he will be against tougher competition.
- Henne wasn't asked to do a whole lot and had a couple passes he shortarmed, one to Avant, another a screen to Breaston. He also launched a ball into space attempting to hit Avant in the end zone. I'm in paranoia mode re: Henne now.
- Where was Dutch?
General defensive impressions:
- Well, it's good to know that there are some running quarterbacks on the planet who don't torch us. Aside from a couple passes between levels in the zone (one of which was a fluketastic off-your-back-foot thing) EMU did nothing all day.
- OMG we got good coverage in short zones. Harris had at least two instances of excellent coverages that were followed up with plays on the ball.
- Branch was excellent again, as was Crable, though Crable missed a couple opportunities to make sacks. He has to rein it in a little bit.
How bad is Louisiana-Lafayette, who lost to EMU 31-10 last week?
PS: The color guy in the OSU game was just discussing the Hamby hate-mail and just said "were out of control with our talk radio, we're out of control with our blogs," which is total garbage since I know of three OSU blogs and precisely zero of them said anything negative about Hamby, let alone hateful or threatening. Way to verify that voracity.
Crank Yanker Dan Connor has been reinstated by Penn State. He'll probably miss this weekend's game against [RANDOM DIRECTIONAL SCHOOL] but can practice and I'm betting... one million dollars that he will play in the Lions' Big Ten opener.
Dear Angelique Chengelis: In response to your headlined query "Could early loss be a blessing?" I would like act as proxy for the entire Michigan fanbase and respond:
JESUS GOD NO WHAT COULD POSSIBLY BE WRONG WITH YOU ARE YOU DYING I BET YOU'RE DYING I'M SO SORRY
The Largest Set of Alumni on the Planet, Plus All Those Downriver Mullet Guys
Blogs will rescue us from our persistent depressive state. The Georgia Sports Blog waxes on about the proverbial "meteor game":
This Saturday, fathers will be helping impressionable minds grasp the notion that when watching Tennessee play Florida, you don't root for either team to win; you root for an enormous asteroid to make the journey from its natural habitat in a belt between Mars and Jupiter to an orange and blue den of iniquity in Gainesville, Florida, picking up horrific speed along the way.
I think they're a little overeager, though:
Son: "So, I think I get it. But how big a meteor are we rooting for, Daddy?"
Father: "Son, we're rooting for the kind of meteor you hire Aerosmith to write a song about."
Um... don't we want sort of a tactical meteor hit? Like something the size of five or six buses strapped together? An Aerosmith-level meteor required Ben Affleck to screw Liv Tyler and thereby save the world from Total Destruction(!), and, while said item would indeed wipe out the Florida and Tennessee football teams, it would pretty much wipe everything else out too--incidental damage when you live in the south, I guess. I keed, I keed. We've got a meteor game this weekend: Michigan State versus Notre Dame, though I don't think the problematic MSU basketball team will be in attendance, unfortunately. Nor will Ryan Miller.
Boom! is the Madden catchphrase and is also what IBFC has lowered on the purveyor of things you already know. This brings up something I've desperately wanted to see for a long time: Frank Caliendo televising football. I know Dennis Miller flamed out, but Caliendo does a Madden impression that would be A) no dumber than the regular Madden, B) hilarious, and C) somewhat likely to clown-down the Big Useless.
Save me Gloria Estefan!
Evidence of difference? You are invited to extrapolate the hell out of the differences between this recent Gator-to-Gator interface and the Michigan version, which was much more dour. Carr ruminations have been popping up on a regular basis over the past week, and by "ruminations" I mean "futile suggestions that INS deport the man." It's a tough question, not that resolving it is useful. Even if I came to the conclusion that Carr needed to go, I'm just a guy with a blog. No, to effect real change in a university administration, you need a message board.