to play football, not to play trumpet
So You're Saying...
As expected, four-star Detroit King WR Donnie Corley made his way to campus on Wednesday with his parents, and he told 247's Steve Wiltfong the visit helped Michigan's cause ($):
While Michigan State, Ohio State, Tennessee and West Virginia have been regularly mentioned as top contenders, Corley tells 247Sports that he wasn’t really feeling Michigan under the old staff, but Jim Harbaugh and the new group are quickly turning that around.
“My mindset was not really Michigan, even when they hired the new staff, but going up there it seems like a great place to be,” Corley said.
Corley will be back in Ann Arbor for the BBQ at the Big House on Sunday. While there's a lot of ground to cover against Michigan State and a recently surging Ohio State, Michigan looks to have at least an outside shot now, which is a far better position than they'd been in previously. With M also getting more involved in Lavert Hill's recruitment, it appears the program's relationship with Detroit King is on the mend.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
IT'S THAT TIME OF YEAR AGAIN, EVERYBODY. They've let Tim Beckman out of his tiny pool, gently removed the arm floaties, and put him in front of reporters. Let's see how that's going!
DID YOU THROW THE BALL OR NOT AHHHHH
Illinois kept this person because he led their football program to a better than average performance for them, which is usually why you keep a football coach. Funny ol' world.
OKAY BUT SERIOUSLY. Whenever I see Tim Beckman put in a low-pressure situation and asked softball questions he looks like a dog that doesn't know whether you're going to throw the stick or beat him with it. How does this person get past a job interview, let alone a Head Football Coach job interview?
That is a high pressure situation in which questions like "why on Earth would we pick a guy with one good season in the MAC with an outlying turnover ratio to coach our team?" get asked. Was the answer Illinois sought "uh, team performance leads to excellence in all our endeavors"? Did they not notice when he repeated that when they asked him what he wanted for lunch?
Help me understand. I do not understand.
Also at Big Ten Media Days. Harbaugh finna get himself shivved bae*:
— Sean Churchill (@SeanChurchy) July 31, 2015
Also, and always, Beckman.
*[I think? I may have just said "Harbaugh I fart on myself" in teentwitterese.]
Also also at Big Ten Media days. Never let it be said this is not journalism.
"Saade is a self-taught taxidermist and says that the job can actually be quite lucrative." Got a lot of dead chipmunks around the house. Dunno why. Mother keeps saying something about mah sleepwalking. Mother says she don't wanna say when I ask why such a thing would happen. Mother says waste not want not. Mother don't remember which team won that crazy overtime game from a few years back on account of her blackout. Mother is pretty sure though. Mother is always right.
Mother says this is how it's always been and how it always will be, mother and the chipmunks and the always recovering on-side kicks and never ever havin nobody named Braylon she knows about, no nothin. That ain't even a name she says. Who ever heard of a name like that. Who ever heard of that.
Sometimes I think I ain't sleep-murderin no chipmunks but I know better than to say so.
You know, for a turkey that's on the lam there seem to be a lot of photos of it in the same place. God, I wish this had happened when I was in college.
If I could fight a turkey on my way to discrete math I would be so happy.
"Do not try to approach the turkey," she said. "We've gotten calls from people who have been trapped and unable to move because he's cornered them."
The symptom. It's hard to blame Devin Funchess for his occasional lackadaisical play last year. If I was suffused with ennui it's hard to imagine what he was going through. But that's the thing about coaching: it is your job to get people to play to the best of their ability. Brady Hoke did not do this, and Funchess was the best example last year.
Here is confirmation of that from what's annually the best thing to come out of Big Ten Media Days, Mike Spath's article where he offers anonymity in exchange for real talk:
"They had a guy that on paper was just a nightmare because he was so tall, and big - he was supposed to be a tight end but they played him at wide receiver [Devin Funchess] - and man all week our coaches just kept saying, 'We've got no one that can match up with him. No one that can stop this kid.'
"It was motivating and I was foaming at the mouth, but I built him up into this goliath that was going to take my best effort, and he took a lot less than that. He didn't seem to care at all about helping his quarterback out.
"Everything about him was half-speed. It was sort of like what they used to say about Randy Moss - when he knew the ball wasn't coming his way on a play, it was like he wasn't even out there."
Randy Moss made it work, and Funchess ended up a second-round pick. But you read that and it's just like… I knew that. And I knew that it didn't come from Funchess, it came from the program.
Ferentz finally under the gun. Matt Hinton surveys the situation at Iowa, which is still technically part of the same conference Michigan is:
“It’s been five years now of unremarkable football, is probably the best way to put it,” says Marc Morehouse, who took over the Hawkeyes beat at the Cedar Rapids Gazette in 1999, the same year Ferentz arrived in Iowa City, and who has seen more than his fair share of unremarkable football. “I’ve covered Ferentz since he’s been here, and the ‘hot seat’ concept has come up in the past, but I’ve never taken it seriously. … I’ve never bought into it, but this year, even in November, even in January after [the bowl game], I’m buying into it. OK, this is a real hot seat now. This is a hot seat year, no question about it.”
Ferentz has doubled down here by letting his starting quarterback depart for a team technically in the same conference. If Rudock does well and Iowa remains Iowa-esque, Ferentz will go from "can't afford to fire" to "can't afford to keep" in a flash.
All of this makes for a fascinating alternate history in which Michigan goes with the coach Lloyd Carr recommended if they were making an external hire. Things probably go better for a while. Does Ferentz take better advantage of Michigan's ability to recruit? Are they again that kind of 8-4, 9-3 team that Michigan was for big chunks of the 90s?
The end of civilization. Not with a bang but with a pun.
— Adam Jacobi (@Adam_Jacobi) July 31, 2015
Etc.: They promise to actually pay attention to the illegal men downfield rule this year. Now I like it when the Onion writes something about Michigan! A whopping 37% of top-100 players who aren't one-and-done transfer. Kellen Jones has been to Michigan Oklahoma Clemson Wisconsin Tampa Panama Mattawa La Paloma Bangor Baltimore Salvador Amarillo...
file [Bryan Fuller]
ONE OF US
Harbaugh: "As excited as I've ever been for the start of football season." Why? "I say that every year."
— Max Cohen (@MaxACohen) July 31, 2015
Q. I think it's always interesting how Ohio State and Michigan refer to one another. Brady used to call Ohio State "Ohio" and Urban calls them "the team up north" or "the rival." Do you have a special adjective for your opponent, your rival?
COACH HARBAUGH: No. Ohio State in particular? Just Ohio State. But great to see everybody this morning. Glad everybody could be here. Wonderful turnout.
Q. How much have you learned from Paul Chryst and Mike Riley over the years?
COACH HARBAUGH: So much. That's one of the exciting things about coaching in the Big Ten and knowing so many of the coaches. As you mentioned, Mike Riley, head coach at the Chargers when I was there, also Paul Chryst was a coach there and the staff. And some other connections. Jerry Kill who -- a lot of competition with my dad. My dad has always said that Jerry Kill is one of the best coaches that he's ever coached against. Pat Fitzgerald, had a chance to spend some good time with him in Ann Arbor this summer. Really appreciated. Came over and was keynote speaker at our football camp. So a lot of friends in the Big Ten Conference.
Q. I wanted to obviously focus, there's been a huge impact on your life in the days of Schembechler. Will you kind of incorporate those things that you will definitely keep in your system and maybe some of those aspects no way, I'm not going to do it the way that Bo Schembechler did it?
COACH HARBAUGH: Pretty much -- if we could do it the way Bo did it that would be something to aspire to. Not a day goes by really where I don't think about Coach Schembechler from the time I leave my house to go to the office -- I live about five houses away from where Bo lived. And no matter which way I take to work, whether it's Devonshire or Geddes or Stadium, I'll often think well Bo probably took this right on to Washtenaw or took this left onto Hill. I know he took this left onto State Street and parked my car and walked by his statue. Daily. I go to my office. I've got a picture of Bo -- there's a picture of Bo and myself when we were at the Rose Bowl in '87. And, yeah, so it's to have his work ethic, to run the program like he ran it, yeah, those are things to aspire to.
[After THE JUMP: Harbaugh was far more detailed about where he lives than his team.]
Hello! We've been fortunate enough to have John Kryk, the Toronto Sun's NFL columnist, write for HTTV these last few years. Kryk is an invaluable resource when it comes to the early days of college football and has applied that expertise to a book about the intense rivalry between Fielding Yost and Amos Alonzo Stagg around the turn of the 20th century.
What follows is an excerpt from that book detailing Willie Heston's seventh-year-senior season, and the fights it set off.
Willie Heston (right) returned for a fourth and final season as a Wolverine in 1904. After graduating from the University of Michigan with a law degree in the (then) requisite three years, he studied literature in a tag-on semester.
Amos Alonzo Stagg -- the University of Chicago’s head football coach, athletic director, faculty head of physical education and self-appointed cleanser of Midwestern college sport -- disapproved. Although Stagg had had players at UC who similarly squeezed out every drop of eligibility, and he himself had played sports for six years at Yale (and even suited up for the Maroons in their inaugural 1892 season), he couldn’t resist slamming Michigan and Heston in the Chicago Evening Post on September 27: “The maroon coach cited the case of a rival institution that had a graduate return to take a post-season law course [sic] so that his great value could be utilized in the football eleven this fall.”
Stagg’s hypocrisy aside, this was after all Heston’s seventh season of college football, after three previous at a California teachers college now known as San Jose State University. But that experience at San Jose Normal never counted against Heston’s four years, presumably because of the conference rule that discounted any experience a student might gain at a college whose academics, or even just its football, were of a particularly low order. The conference arbiter, Clarence Waldo, in these years tabulated the Big Nine’s official list of colleges that did make the academic or football grade, and evidently San Jose Normal did not qualify.
Despite being injured in an elevator in St. Louis that summer, Heston probably was healthier in his senior season than he’d been since 1901. As Michigan’s opponents lamented.
In Michigan’s third game, a 95-0 obliteration of vastly overmatched Kalamazoo College in just 40 minutes of play, Heston might have rushed for more single-game yards than any running back before or since, at any level of college football. “As usual, Willie Heston’s performance was the headliner of the matinee,” the Michigan Daily reported. “A review of the game shows that the captain advanced the ball during the afternoon 515 yards — considerably more than a quarter mile.” Heston continually broke away on long gains and scored six of Michigan’s 16 touchdowns, four on runs of 65, 70, 85 and 65 yards.
How fast was Heston? The fastest man in the world in 1904 just happened to be a fellow UM student — Archie Hahn. At the Summer Games in St. Louis that year, the “Milwaukee Meteor” became the first man to win the Olympic sprint double: gold medals in both the 100 and 200 meters. Back then there was a 60-meter dash too, and Hahn won a third gold in that race. Two years later, Hahn won the Olympic 100 metres again. In 1901 he had tied the world record in the 100-yard dash (9 4/5ths seconds) and set a world record of 21.6 seconds in 200-meter straightaway dash, a race long since discontinued.
Michigan’s nationally respected track and field coach, Keene Fitzpatrick, doubled as the Wolverine football trainer. He marvelled at Heston’s breakaway speed and had this idea to help Hahn with his: pit the two men against one another in 100-yard match races on campus. Fitz did so some 200 times. Heston led Hahn at 30 to 40 yards every time. “At that point,” Heston recalled, “I could hear him go by.” Heston occasionally pressed Hahn to the finish but never beat him.
By 1904 Heston had refined his abilities as a running back that would have made him a standout in any era. His stiff-arms were viciously effective, with either arm. At 5-foot-8 and 180 pounds, he was stout enough to be an effective inside power runner. Perhaps best of all, and to a “remarkable degree” as a Michigan sports historian wrote in 1948, Heston was able to “maintain his feet” upon being hit, or leaping, or spinning, or making a harsh cut. “Willie Heston always ran low, with a wide-spread, pumping knee action. He had a cat-like ability to land on his feet, no matter how hard he was hit, his legs still driving forward.” He was unafraid to hurdle sprawled players, or low-charging tacklers — such as Eckersall in the 1903 UM-UC game. Heston first coined the phrase that became a mantra for running backs in the first half of the 20th century: “Use your searchlights and jump the dead ones.”
By 1904 Yost had tired of defending Heston’s strong play on the other side of the ball. Asked by a reporter in October if Heston was as good on defense as he was on offense, Yost “without thinking” quipped: “Why, really, I don’t know. None of my backs has made a tackle this year.”
[After THE JUMP: "a long ton of meat and bone and the thing moved with an average velocity of about eight yards a second"]
SUMMER OF HARBAUGH PLUS FIVE MINUTE KLINSMANN RANT
Top five best Harbaugh things of the summer. Partial consensus. I give myself exactly five minutes to thunk my head about the Gold Cup, and I tell you when they start so you can fast forward if you're so mad
Vincent talks Team Gardens and fall camp and tells Fred Jackson stories.
We have our first-ever sponsor so what do we do? We have her on for a segment that starts out ridiculous and goes down/uphill from there.
If you're around Ann Arbor you have a 50/50 chance of knowing Liz (E.T.) Crowe (t: @beerwencha2) personally, but for the other half and people not from around these parts, Liz is a best-selling, (usually sports-themed, not exactly censored) fiction author, Ann Arbor real estate agent, craft brew consultant and blogger, and mom times three. She will be backing the Podcast this year so we can keep making it, and we had her on for a special entire segment in this one as an introduction. During the season we'll have briefer bits with her.
Where Michigan stands and where they may go.
"Across 110th Street"
"Sad Penance Raps," Open Mike Eagle
"Playing Your Game, Baby", Barry White
"I'm Not Part Of Me," Cloud Nothings
THE USUAL LINKS
Fuller – MGoBlog
For the second time in three years, John Beilein scrambled to fill some scholarships late in the recruiting cycle due to unexpected early draft entrees. The first time, he landed Caris LeVert – who’s since blossomed into perhaps the best NBA prospect Michigan’s had in years – and Spike Albrecht, already a cult hero among Michigan fans. The next duo to commit late in the process was Aubrey Dawkins and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman: the two weren’t ready early in the year, but were thrust into big roles after key season-ending injuries to two starters. Abdur-Rahkman hardly played before Derrick Walton injured his foot; he was nearly indispensible afterwards:
Partially because Michigan was down to just two scholarship guards, Abdur-Rahkman’s minutes on the bench (usually due to first-half foul trouble) usually meant that Michigan would struggle to stay afloat in that time – Dakich and Lonergan weren’t ever meant to play many (if any) high-leverage Big Ten minutes, but they did. For example, consider Abdur-Rahkman’s best game, an efficient 18-point performance in a loss against MSU. When Rahk picked up his second foul with about ten minutes left in the first half, Michigan led by seven; when he returned to the court after halftime, Michigan was down five. They lost in OT.
To appreciate Rahk’s value – which doesn’t show up in his traditional or advanced metrics (low ORtg, TO rate > Assist rate, 29% from three, etc.) – consider the rotation guards Beilein’s had at Michigan. Of those, there are precious few plus defenders: Rahkman is likely on his way to becoming one, but Michigan hasn’t had a nominal stopper since Stu Douglass graduated. After so many offense-first guards and swingmen, having a guy who you can really trust on defense is another arrow in Beilein’s strategic quiver. Judging defensive value is always somewhat of a crapshoot, but it’s rather clear that – outside of a healthy Walton, perhaps – Abdur-Rahkman could very well be the best defender on the team.* If he improves his three-point shooting, he’ll be a strong candidate to retain his role, even with Michigan’s increased depth across the board.
*Caris LeVert’s defensive value is speculative at best, though he does have the most potential on that end of the floor for the next level. Besides, very few offensive focal points have enough energy to be similarly impactful on defense, especially in college.
[Hit the JUMP for more Rahkman talk]