Abbreviated. A few site notes:
- The offensive UFR for Wisconsin is basically done and will go up tomorrow.
- Blog will be off Thursday and Friday for Thanksgiving; Wednesday will be light.
- I've said I'd do last-game UFRs before and not come through so this isn't a promise, but I do intend to UFR this Ohio State game and I have a vague idea to go back and do the Citrus Bowl against Florida; last year's OSU game can get screwed.
- This UV is abbreviated because I'll be on WTKA from 4-6. Please call in and be sane. 734 998-1050.
So happy together. Misopogon, who you may remember from such
Russian novels diaries as "The Decimated Defense," "The Decimated Defense Part II," and "I Make Crazy Hennecharts" would like to trade in some his accumulated MGoGoodwill for material reward. Because he's a nice guy, he'd like that material reward to go to homeless families in Detroit. There's a diary post up about it; right now the donation system is pretty clunky—you call this nice lady—but I am hectoring them to set up a paypal account so the donations can be easy.
People: this is Mitch Albom's charity. I have a dream that Mitch shows up to this thing and he says "where did all this stuff come from" and Misopogon says "MGoBlog" and Mitch has this Christmas Carol-style conversion where he runs from blog to blog liberally spreading comments and goodwill. Do it for your country.
The Victors on an unusual object that makes noise. The thing on the left is a pipa, and it's pretty cool:
Marching band needs more pipa. Go comment flamewar!
Yeesh. I twittered about this but it bears repeating on the main site: holy mother of God, if Les Miles had done what he did against Ole Miss in a Michigan game blood would be spouting from my eyes and I would be groping my way to Ann Arbor Torch & Pitchfork only to find the shelves picked bare.
For those who missed it: LSU recovers an onside kick and drives to the Ole Miss 31 with around a minute left. Miles doesn't make the classic mistake a lot of coaches do and settle for a near 50-yard field goal from your college kicker, as Randy Edsall did earlier in the day, but wild blitzing from Ole Miss confuses the LSU QB and sacks and whatnot ensue. Before fourth and twenty-two there are 27 seconds left on the clock; there are 9 left when LSU uses its last timeout. LSU completes a bomb and then spikes the ball despite snapping it with one second left; in the aftermath Miles says he doesn't know who called for the spike.
New Les Miles theory: he makes a lot of correct decisions for the wrong reasons. Reasons like "my brain has a vas deferens."
The spike's not even the worst part, the worst part is the inexplicable timeout fiasco. Miles on that:
"Timeouts were being called verbally, but I didn't relate to the official apparently, and that was a mistake. We didn't know [the timeout] hadn't been called."
Has anyone ever seen this late in a game? Sometimes you'll see a coach not get the attention of an official in time—Like (sigh) Jim Tressel on Saturday—but when there's 30 seconds left the official has got to be expecting the TO call and waiting for it. Given the statement about the spike I'm a little leery of that explanation.
Of course, Rodriguez keeps pulling Forcier for Denard Robinson. That was basically waving the white flag on Saturday, but Forcier had coughed up four turnovers at that point. So… yeah, more understandable than whatever that was from Miles.
Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez survived Bill Martin and Ohio State. He has survived President Mary Sue Coleman. But there could be one more hurdle.
Can he survive disgruntled big time boosters if they decide to withhold cash?
This story is not over. Despite claims otherwise I expect a few more cards to be played before the bowl season begins. The money men and women are not happy with Michigan's two-year record of 8-14. They are not thrilled to see Michigan finish last in a very mediocre Big Ten.
…in unrelated news, newspaper advertising has fallen almost $8 billion this year. There is literally nothing anyone can say that will stop uninformed speculation by Official Journalists about Rich Rodriguez getting fired.
Meanwhile, AnnArbor.com has a positive article on the fans' opinion of Rich Rodriguez. Freaky. Their highly unscientific, 683-vote poll currently has Rodriguez support running 2-to-1 in favor.
Wha happened? Jon Chait has an article on the Wolverine about what happened to the defense that's worth your time, though I disagree that the defensive line was a major problem except in certain situations where Craig Roh was overwhelmed by Wisconsin and a couple other teams. Probably 80% of the team's weakness against the run can be laid at the feet of the linebackers and safeties, as the frequent rotation at the end of the year indicated. No one was pulling Ryan Van Bergen off the field in favor of a walk-on.
Etc.: Jim Leavitt is a weird dude. Eye on Sports Media does a two-parter on Michigan opening up the press box to certain bloggers, including this site. BONUS: part one's title is piratey. Boring details on the AD search.
11/21/2009 – Michigan 10, Ohio State 21 – 5-7, 1-7 Big Ten
Well… that could have gone worse.
Unlike last year, it is possible to construct an alternate universe in which Michigan wins the game. This universe contains 80% fewer crippling Forcier errors; not much else is different. Like last week's admission of crippling ennui after game 11, this is progress of a sort. The sort is still "not very fun progress at all," but it's progress.
Better than the slight competitiveness: now it's over and we don't have to watch the team/roadkill grind its jaw away any more. The focus turns to getting some cornerbacks and other assorted defenders, reviewing what happened, and waiting for what will be a telling 2010.
There should be no more stupid rumors that Rodriguez is getting fired. Bill Martin immediately announced that Rodriguez would be the coach in 2010, which like duh. CRACK REPORTERS then attempted to detect weaselly out words in the Martin statement and got a flat denial. There will be no more stomach-churning on-field events or stupid rumors that Forcier and Robinson are transferring. Maybe that latter is optimistic given the flimsy justifications for transfer rumors to date, but since Forcier and, oddly, Vincent Smith, have clearly denied any transfer intentions recently there's little that could convince them to leave other than Devin Gardner showing up in fall—not even spring—and proving himself God. Which isn't likely to happen.
There will be some sort of NCAA announcement that has a 1% chance of crushing Rodriguez, a 10% chance of actually increasing the heat he is under with the people who decide his fate, and an 89% chance of being either nothing or minor enough that it won't make a difference in a year or two when the wins and losses are likely to make the decision.
And then this two-year period of misery and flailing about will be over. Even if you are a tinfoil hat who wants Rodriguez fired yesterday and thinks the team will be just as bad next year, at least that won't be as bad, because the last half of the season will be talking about the next coach. More likely than that is that a non-freshman, non-walk-on quarterback and 16-19 returning starters and some consistency at defensive coordinator and progress everywhere and roster not operating 14 scholarships short see Michigan get off the mat.
The long dark of the offseason is merciful now and steadily builds to a yes or no answer in 2010. Or, more likely, a "maybe" answer leading to a surely definitive 2011. Either way, this unpleasant limbo existence has ended. Patience is a virtue because it is incredibly frustrating and painful, and we don't have to be patient any more.
- Big post-game news is that Donovan Warren has tentatively announced his return. There is some wiggle in as long as Warren is going to put his name in for an evaluation, but unless that evaluation comes back more positive than he's been told it will he should return for his senior year. That's obviously huge, and may allow Woolfolk or Justin Turner to slide to safety next year.
- In other corner news, Adrian Witty is qualified($) and will be on campus in January. Nice to see Michigan stick with the kid, and hopefully he can contribute. He was just a two-star but Michigan liked him a lot.
- You will not believe this but I will say it anyway: Michigan's corner depth chart might be a little crowded next year. Young, but crowded. Both starters return, Justin Turner will get in on the action, and then you have Witty, Avery, and Talbott coming in with potential/probable commits from Cullen Christian and Tony Grimes coming up. That's suddenly five-deep in scholarship players (Floyd and Teric Jones also exist). Some of those guys will get bumped to safety, surely.
- Many people are talking about the Ohio State fans who showed up en masse. I didn't think it was much worse than 2007, especially not in my immediate proximity. Two years ago there was this pack of Git-r-dones a few rows behind me that would literally say "ain't nothing wrong with that" after every four yard Wells run; this year there were scattered OSU fans but nothing as concentrated and annoying.
But it was worse, and this has caused a lot of muttering about season ticket holders who gave up their seats. I don't think that's the case thanks to an excellent diary on the situation:
…the Athletic Department has been "banking" all of the non-renewed season tickets. With those "banked" seats, the Athletic Department plans to be able to do the aforementioned aisleway widening, handrail additions and (hooray) widened seat-numbering, with a minimum of inconvenience and movement to existing season ticket seat holders. … In the meantime, it means that the Athletic Department has larger numbers of individual and/or package tickets to sell.
If you had wanted to conduct an experiment at the time of the OSU game, all you had to do was ask to see the tickets of any of those OSU fans; I have every presumption that in most cases, the tickets held by Buckeye fans would surely have been small and white, not the larger color photo-background tickets that go to season ticket holders.
This problem will be less and less of an issue in the future, as season-ticket assignments within the bowl get settled after renovations are completed.
… And, for people in Columbus, the Michigan game is the biggest day of the year. They smelled blood in the water this year, and many of them made the effort, got the tickets, and came north. Do not for a moment think that ticket brokers missed an opportunity to purchase a package of tickets that included Eastern and Delaware State, simply to get ahold of OSU tickets, and sell them in Columbus. Those tickets, the package tickets, are quite likely part of the "bank" of tickets that the Athletic Department is holding only until 2010 or 2011, for the completion of the stadium renovations.
This is definitely what happened: brokers snapped up the publicly available tickets and when game time rolled around the double-digit favorites are naturally more inclined to pay the premium to get into the stadium. There were some traitorous bastards who need to be hung by their figgins, but most of it was just Michigan fans not buying available tickets. Which means everyone complaining about how the stadium looked on TV has scarlet and gray on their hands.
Vincent Smith is your tentative 2010 starter after averaging 4 YPC on eight carries to Michael Shaw's 1 on 7. Smith also had three catches and Michigan's only touchdown on a sweet juke after Forcier scrambled himself into and out of trouble and threw back across his body…
…which was awesome but it's pretty easy to draw a straight line from that to Forcier's endzone interception, which was a slow-motion "nooooooooooooooo" moment if I've ever experienced one. The instant Forcier looked to the left side of the field I felt a disturbance in the force, and my main concern was that the guy not score a defensive touchdown.
Forcier in toto: is it crazy for me to suggest that I thought that was sort of an encouraging game? Five turnovers are horrendous and he made some terrible throws into coverage but he also made a number of outstanding plays; if he has the usual leap from freshman to sophomore and cuts down on the errors there's so much playmaking potential there that he could be crazy outstanding. There is also the possibility that he never calms down and he just makes killer mistakes, but most guys get a lot better as they age, especially folks who played crappy high school ball, as Forcier did.
Why the hell doesn't Michigan have That God Damned Counter Draw in its arsenal? Michigan is now a shotgun team that uses a metric ton of rolling pockets and in my experience TGDCD is 80% touchdown, 20% fail. Ohio State didn't even mean to call it and they scored on it.
Anyone talking about "class" re: Mike Shaw's pre-game run-in with some Ohio State player should probably look on his own rhetoric about how hating Michigan because some crazy dead bastard hated Michigan is part of his soul, man, and consider the logical twists and turns taken to arrive at the conclusion that bumping into mortal enemy and then woofing represents a character flaw.
Every time Terrelle Pryor morphed from arm-punter into terrifying tank on the edge, I thought to myself "Jim Tressel is an idiot." He isn't. He is self-evidently a fantastic football coach. He has gotten six straight wins over Michigan—though it's not like Michigan's made it hard the last three tries. But virtually every criticism leveled at Tressel about his neolithic Pryor offense is true. OSU's scoring offense is the zone read, and Tressel didn't even bother hauling it out except on like two drives, one of which was the quick first-half touchdown. The risky scoring offense is running your tank of a QB on the edge, and instead Tressel spent large chunks of the game in the I neutralizing Pryor's legs. What a waste.
MVictors was on the field and got some shots, including one of Brandon Graham walking for senior day. Senior day side note: much better logistically this year than before, with the seniors walking under the banner. Previously they had them along one endzone, which was weird.
FL CB Tony Grimes and his teammate, FL DE Clarence Murphy, were amongst ten official visitors for the Ohio State game. Tom VanHaaren caught up with Grimes after he got back home and caught him for a brief, encouraging interview.
TOM: How was the trip, was it everything you expected?
TONY: It was my second trip up there, and I already knew I liked Michigan, so it met my expectations. It was pretty cool.
TOM: What was the best part about the game?
TONY: The atmosphere was crazy. Walking out of that tunnel and seeing the fans was pretty cool. None of the other games I've been to have compared to this.
TOM: So this sounds like a really good visit, what made the trip for you? What was so good about it?
TONY: It just felt like home. It really felt like home for me and Clarence. Clarence feels the same way I do about everything. The interaction with the coaches and players was great. There's a couple guys from Florida, so they knew what we were about, and what we were thinking.
TOM: What about seeing the defense in person. Did that give you a good look at how you'd be used?
TONY: Yeah, coach Gibson drew up some plays and schemes for me and Clarence, so we got a real good look at how they would use us.
TOM: Are you still going to be a package deal, and when will you announce your decision?
TONY: We're still a package deal, yes. We're probably going to take a couple more visits, not sure where yet. We're both going to announce on signing day, though.
TOM: One out of ten, how was this trip?
TONY: It was an eleven.
Grimes is a four-star to Scout (#10 CB) and ESPN(#16) and a three-star to Rivals(#36). Murphy is a three star all around.
A University of Michigan football player was arrested this morning after a female student reported he sexually assaulted her.
The man has been questioned and is scheduled to be released shortly as detectives continue to investigate the 2 a.m incident in the 600 block of South State Street, Ann Arbor police Det. Dave Monroe said.
Police would not release the name of the player today.
A tipster has given me the name of this player but I'm not sure if there's some sort of legal thing that would get me pwned if I relate it. The player in question did not see the field this year but is/was expected to start next year. (No, not Justin Turner.)
Update: don't comment about the name.
Update II: I probably should have done this before I put the post up, but I eliminated the comments after they veered off into long discussions about false accusations that got ugly and political.
As always, please read the Live Blog Chaos Mitigation Post before participating.
A quick tour around heartfelt pre-OSU posts in the Wolverine blogosphere before they all expire:
Like many things in life that end broken, this started with good intentions all around.
Rich Rodriguez watched from the sidelines while Michigan avenged Carr and desecrated the Tebow Temple. Chad Henne dropped redemption from the sky into the waiting hands of Adrian Arrington and Mario Manningham. Mike Hart fumbled and laughed and Michigan were The Victors.
I dreamed of spread offenses and 70 point thrashings, a wild new Michigan built for the Mayan Apocalypse, slaughtering the Big Ten with lightning from the Yost Ages, standing atop the Big Ten as the world ended.
It was spitting down rain all morning, and it only picked up for gametime. I took one last lap around the stadium I'd always known.
If there was any justice in the world, they'd have won last year, so I didn't have high expectations. Not with Mike Hart hobbled and Chad Henne barely able to lift his arm and guys not named David Harris at linebacker. And so we yelled and screamed and Beanie Wells had 172 carries and Mario Manningham dropped 18 passes or something and Ohio State won an excruciating 14-3 game.
It wasn’t until 2004, my freshman year, that I really paid close attention to the Michigan football team (i.e., emotional investment). Before every game that season, I signed on to AIM and left an away message up: “Chad Henne, lead us to victory.” And though it worked a few times that year, it never did for the one that counted.
And for the last five years of my life, the week before Thanksgiving has been one of cautious anxiety. 2006 was devastating.
These are family values: wagons circled, debris, numb to the great outrage, taped ankles and a fuck you if you're not with us; look me in the eye and know that eventually this will all pass. They'll remember this day when they're old and sit on dusty sofas dozing in and out of consciousness. You lost a lot but not your dignity. And you realize that it wasn't just about winning but about patience and faith that it would get better.