“The player development is the main thing I like (about Michigan),” Williams said. “You can see that they develop their players. They get them in the gym and they work them hard. And their hard work pays off.”
It never occurred to me to think the opening music of Michigan Replay strange. By the time I understood things like music and the 70s*, the Michigan Replay theme was so familiar I couldn't possibly evaluate it as anything other than what it was. It existed outside of time and context. I suppose I assumed that it had come from some discarded CD somewhere, its licensing fee a pittance to some obscure artist probably related to a member of the athletic department.
So it came as a shock to me when helpful reader Daniel Young -- now enshrined in the Reader Hall of Fame next to Penn State Guy Who Hates Me Guy and Guy Who Patiently Explains How To Spell "LeSueur" Whenever I Screw It Up Which Is Always Guy -- tracked down the entire, unedited song and emailed it to me. Strip away the state-of-the-art video highlight montage and listen to the blaring horns by their lonesome and like whoah. Cognitive dissonance, man. The Michigan Replay theme is funky. Not like white-boy funky. The kind of funk that alerts Orson to the presence of knee-buckling badonkadonk. Pam Grier funky.
Now that I've heard the thing in its natural habitat and arrived at the inescapable conclusion that it's more appropriate for "Blackula" or "Black Frankenstein" or, I dunno, "Black To The Future" than a couple of stodgy old crackers muttering about the latest football game, I can never go back. The incongruity is too much. Forever and anon the opening credits of Michigan Replay will cause girlish giggles unless we lose, in which case they will provoke nothing until my emotions re-engage sometime around Tuesday.
Here it is; the bits you might recognize kick in after about 35 seconds.
(You can download the file here; right click & "save as")
The reason the song is reminiscent of something Shaft could saunter to is simple: it's from an honest-to-god blaxploitation flick. As Mr. Young writes:
I've scoured the end credits on many occasions, but have yet to find any reference as to where the theme music comes from. Fortunately, I have a friend who's big into old school funk ... he was able to unearth the source of the Michigan Replay theme. It's a cut off the soundtrack to the 1972 blaxploitation flick Across 110th Street called (appropriately) "Across 110th Street Instrumental" by JJ Johnson & His Orchestra. How it ended up as the uncredited theme to Michigan Replay is anybody's guess (maybe Bo was big into funk back in the day).
I'm not sure if the instrumental is the same music as the identically-named title track that, according to Pop Matters, is part of the film's enduring cachet...
Like its cinematic compatriots, Shaft (1971), Trouble Man (1972), and Car Wash (1976), Across 110th Street owes much of its notoriety to a memorable theme song. Written by Bobby Womack and J.J. Johnson and performed by Womack, "Across 110th Street" is a majestic soul-funk classic in its radio incarnation -- perhaps appropriately, the film itself presents a more downbeat version over its opening credits -- and one of the best of that era's numerous musical chronicles of inner-city pain. (Womack's single has since received further exposure from its somewhat incongruous use in Quentin Tarantino's 1997 L.A. noir, Jackie Brown.)
...but I damn well hope so, because when you think "majestic soul-funk," you think Michigan Football.
I personally owe Mr. Young even a bit more, because listening to the MP3 over and over -- and over -- triggered that pulse-quickening realization that was late in coming this year: football. FOOTBALL.
Let's git it aawwwwwn.
*(As much as anyone can possibly understand an era when lime-green corduroys seemed like a good idea.)
Maybe in-state recruiting isn't going quite as bad as all that. Scout's updated instate rankings have DE Ryan VanBergen at #3, ahead of Dionte Allen, and WR/TE Martell Webb #5. Vince Helmuth is #13, James Rogers #20. Allen to FSU still stings, but if Ronald Johnson does indeed commit Michigan will have pulled three of the top five players instate according to Scout.
Woodley is honest. From an AP article on the senior defensive end:
Three years later, Woodley conceded it's fair to call his career good - not great.
"I came here with a lot of expectations and I think I've gotten a little better each year, but I haven't done all I want to do," he said. "I was really slowed down by a cracked bone on my right forearm last year, but my strength is back and I'm ready to go."
That's harsh, since Woodley was by far the defense's best player last year. Equally honest noise is made by English:
"We need LaMarr Woodley to be a dominant player. I don't think you should sugarcoat that," English said. "He has to make big plays, be consistent and healthy for us to be successful. The LaMarr Woodley that you saw against Texas is the player we need all the time."
Message board denizens have noted Woodley's ominous quote along the lines of "I'm in pretty good shape, not great shape" and taken it as a sign of stagnation in his game. Even if Woodley doesn't take the leap from pretty good to great he's a lock to be All Big Ten if he remains healthy -- a full 12 game season from him would have seen 9 or 10 sacks and something like 20 TFL. All American would be nice, especially with three other players on the line who range from almost as good to frighteningly potential-laden.
We're #6 in terms of successful NFL alumni according to the Wall Street Journal. OSU is #5 and the rest of the schools are ACC/SEC teams. Most pissed off by the list: North Carolina fans, who have had nothing approximating the success their #10 spot implies.
More voting! Bloggers are going ballot crazy. I and a dozen or so others will be participating in a weekly not-Heisman poll:
A player of the year award, voted on by bloggers, that will highlight players who might not play quarter- or tailback for a BCS school in the national title hunt. Stalwart offensive linemen. Doppelganger-like defensive backs. Sure-handed wide receivers. All of those positions shunned by the Heisman will be embraced by the Maxwell Pundit, the first player of the year award voted on by those in the college football blogosphere.
But what about punters, goddammit? Projected first ballot:
- ZOLTAN THE INCONCEIVABLE
- I dunno, some loser
- See above
- See above
- Gary Sheffield
Etc.: FO's totally rad Strategy Minicamp articles continue with a look at defensive "stemming," or realigning before the snap; A couple previews from the Cheese State; WCH looks at the potentially bleak Michigan blueline next year.
It is official official roundtable time; the first one is up at House Rock Built for your edification.
1. What's the biggest ripoff in this preseason poll? Either pick a team that's offensively over or underrated, or you can rag on a particular voter's bad pick (hey, we're all adults here, we can handle it).
Well, I've already made my positions on OSU and ND clear, but I can at least see what the attractions of those teams are. I was hoping the poll be would virtually flat for the first eight or so spots and that OSU and ND would be somewhere in there.
One team stands out as particularly mindboggling: Miami. #9? This is a team with all of two scholarship quarterbacks that has question marks at running back and wide receiver and must replace four-fifths of its offensive line. Longtime OL coach Art Kehoe is gone along with most of the staff on that side of the ball. One hesitates to mock a Miami defense that will probably reload as per usual, but the cornerback situation looks pretty dodgy -- three sophomores and a junior who's missed the last two years with knee injures -- and Orien Harris is gone. This is partially my fault for dumping them in the low teens for no other reason than "it's Miami." No it isn't, not anymore.
2. What shold a preseason poll measure? Specifically, should it be a predictor of end-of-season standing (meaning that a team's schedule should be taken into account when determining a ranking), or should it merely be a barometer of talent/hype/expectations?
Ideally the answer to this question is "yes." In a platonically perfect poll these are the same thing -- minus "hype" -- but the information in college football is so incomplete that schedule strength inevitably distorts the poll.
Given harsh reality, I choose door number B: barometer of talent. This is a sort of schedule projection, too, but one that takes into account that even an undefeated West Virginia team is closer to Utah than USC. And if you're going to do that, where's Boise State in your top five? The Whitlocks of the world who place the Mountaineers #1 but don't have the projected WAC, Mountain West, and MAC champs in the top ten have created ballots with no internal consistency. Their ballots are all "ooh, shiny record" for certain teams that are hyped up but ignore it for other mid-majors because they didn't have a nice game last year. They're easy: show a man one nice game against Georgia and he'll give it up for you.
3. What is your biggest stretch in your preseason ballot? That is to say, which team has the best chance of making you look like an idiot for overrating them?
Nebraska. I mean, obviously. Even if Iowa flops I can still point to Tate and Ferentz and say "can you blame me?" If Nebraska does not justify its preseason placement at #10 on my ballot I have to tell the world that I put faith in Bill Callahan a year after his team set football back 80 years with that 6-3 game against Pittsburgh in which a victor is still undetermined because anyone who attempts to watch the game dies. It's The Ring of college football games.
4. What do you see as the biggest flaw in the polling system (both wire service and blogpolling)? Is polling an integral part of the great game of college football, or is it an outdated system that needs to be replaced? If you say the latter, enlighten us with your new plan.
They are myriad.
- As SMQB has noted, the artificial ranking of teams from 1-25 forces the voter to opine things he probably doesn't believe. I've proposed relaxing the restrictions by giving voters a set number of points with which to distribute amongst 25 teams however they please, allowing voters to express their opinions more accurately. Technical limitations ("I can't figure out a good interface") prevented its implementation this year but it's still on the table for future seasons.
- Polls have multiple personality disorder as they progress through a season. Clearly, preseason polls are all projection. Without any games to evaluate, they're (often hilariously inaccurate) guesses at the way the season will turn out. They remain excercises in projection as the season progresses -- otherwise a top ten team who had the misfortune of losing early would drop out of the poll entirely -- but take on an element of a season grade. By the end of the year, they still maintain a mix of both, which renders them somewhat incoherent.
The best example of this from last year was the Penn State and Ohio State. I, and probably most others, thought that Ohio State was the better team but ranked Penn State higher because of the niggling issue of that 17-10 PSU win early in the season. A number of voters went ahead and ranked OSU #3 anyway, September be damned, and I couldn't argue against it because... what exactly were we supposed to be voting for anyway, the best team or the best season? I'm the dictator of this here poll and even I couldn't tell you.
- Polls have their own momentum. Ideally, previous weeks and years would be totally irrelevant to voters entering a fresh one. Anyone who's seen West Virginia knows this is not the case.
- People, and by extension polls, tend to assume that the winner of a game deserved to win because of ineffable heart. As Statistically Speaking noted:
I still don't think voters understand just how much influence random chance has ove individual games. Because Team A beats Team B on a last second field goal, doesn't necessarily mean Team A is the superior squad. There is a lot of 'noise' that goes in to deterining who wins and loses a football game. I think its important to look at other factors besides the final score, such as yardage, penalties, location, previous schedule, turnover differential, etc. to determine if the game was accurate portrayal of both teams. I realize each of these aspects is highly subjective, but I think sometimes we put too much stock in the end result (final score) without considering the means with which that end was acheived.
This goes back to that season grade/best team dichotomy. If we're grading the season harsh drops for unfortunate losses are all right; if we're trying to figure who's the best team they aren't. Polls seem to be caught in the middle.
5. You're Scott Bakula, and you have the opportunity to "Quantum Leap" back in time and change any single moment in your team's history. It can be a play on the field, a hiring decision, or your school's founders deciding to build the campus in Northern Indiana, of all godforsaken places. What do you do?
There were multiple missed national championship opportunities in the 80s, but I was not yet maniacally invested in the Wolverines so an alteration there would only serve as ammunition in inane message board conversations I no longer participate in. (Much.)
So there are two candidates, one of which would only require Scott to move a body part two or three inches.
Scott, as either Prescott Burgess or Ernest Shazor, blocks Dusty Mangum's field goal in the Rose Bowl. A win in that game would have made the '04 season a satisfying one, the first for Michigan since the Orange Bowl win in Tom Brady's final season. Some of Michigan's lost luster would still be around if they had won that amazing game.
Scott, as John Navarre, throws a touchdown on the last play of the '02 Ohio State game. As detailed earlier, I ventured into the heart of darkness for tha
t game and experienced the carnage firsthand. Had Navarre thrown the ball to the other side of the field instead of a triple-covered Braylon Edwards he would have found a relatively open person who was either Jason Avant or Ron Bellamy, who would have reached up one hand to stop the ball's momentum before snatching it to his chest mere feet from my seat. The team would have rushed over to the tiny Michigan student section at the cusp of the endzone, told me that I was their inspiration, and everything outside of that stadium would have been well worth it.
A 13 play, 81-yard drive from the '89 Ohio State game in which the wide receivers are meaningless decoration:
Hah! I speet on your forward pass. In home country, passing done by little frilly girls in their lace vorodny.
(via The MZone.)
Terry Hoeppner cares for you personally. Deeply. A commenter points out this beauty from the Indy Star:
Hoeppner said McClurg has been a surprise. So much so, that in spring practice, Hoeppner looked out one day and saw No. 51 playing particularly well, and he wasn't sure who it was.
"I had to go to the media guide just to see who he was,'' Hoeppner said. "I thought to myself, 'Who's 51? That guy's playing pretty good.' I told him that later. I said, 'Good job, whatever your name is.'"
To be fair, I can't name any Indiana defenders either.
Bloggers interested in joining the Blogpoll are advised to not say this should I politely decline your application...
Why does the MGO blog suck?
First, It's about Michigan therefore it must automatically be placed in the "Suck" category. The Wolverines will be lucky to break .500 in the Big Ten and I'll be laughing my ass of when they shit the bed against Central Michigan. Second, is there fascination with something they call "Man Fun", which they described as "an innocent expression of childhood glee". Sounds pretty gay and I can assure you that we did not have this "Man Fun" where I went to school.
Thirdly, and this is the main reason, is their stupid Blogpoll. It is the most retarded concept I have every seen and I am embarrassed that I even applied to be a part of it.
...because it probably won't help. Although the picture of Osama in Michigan gear is cute.
Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore but we might as well be. While USC's celebrity publicity stunts are low-rent, at least they're pulling the Snoop Doggs and Lavar Burtons of the world. At Nebraska beggars can't be choosers:
Indeed, the Huskers hope to Git R Done this year. Personally I hope the entire state floats off into the ocean after the Alamo Bowl, though the chances of that are admittedly remote.
(Finch article via The Diag)
Etc.: Szzzzzabo article.
You may remember MGoBlog throwing in the towel on Maurice Clarett and hilarity after the whole four-loaded-guns-and-a-hatchet incident. Yea, Clarett had crossed the line from amusing failure that continually tainted OSU's reputation to depressing failure that continually tainted OSU's reputation.
Well, happy days are here again:
Clarett was bankrolled by an alleged member of an Israeli crime organization after leaving Ohio State, ESPN reported. His attorney reportedly told ESPN on Thursday that Clarett, who was arrested by police last week when he refused to pull over after a traffic violation, may have been in possession of firearms to protect himself from mob activity.
The Israeli crime organization? "The Jerusalem Group." Have we stumbled into an episode of South Park? And then there's this gem of a sentence:
Wakine [sic] would later provide Clarett with cash, a BMW, bodyguards, drivers and beachfront lodging in Malibu, ESPN reported, with the understanding that Clarett would reimburse Waknine and also be paid 60 percent of Clarett's rookie contract.
What a fine, enlightening, and wonderful sentence indeed. So Clarett's genius negotiation skills, which you may remember got him a contract that paid him almost no money unless he was league MVP or Secretary-General of the UN, had him promise almost two-thirds of his rookie contract to an Israeli gangster. He then proceeded to sign the aforementioned contract and get cut the moment he showed up at camp, thus turning 60% of something into 60% of zero. Way to not piss off Hasids with guns.
I have a solution for all of this: we need a Clarett reality show. Pay him enough to not get whacked by Israeli gangsters, get him out there on the street and follow him around. Waknine is happy. Clarett is happy. Viewers are happy. Bill Simmons sees the first step towards ESPN 8 taken and is happy.
Call it Mo' Problems.