Mason NEEDS this, Pistons, after all you've put him through
I suppose it's inevitable with a list like the most memorable sports moments of your life there is going to be a slapping of the head and a "dammit, I can't believe I forgot that" afterwards. And I've got a doozy that demands attention, plus some comments on objections lodged in what turned into a great comment thread.
This stuff is all based on my memories and recollections, so some things that are omitted are due to ignorance, like the famous victory over North Dakota in 1998, which everyone tells me was no-contest louder than the Denver game. In 1998 I knew nothing of college hockey and thus missed that particular game, something for which I am forever regretful. Please stop telling me about it, as the fact that I missed it brings me pain. The first Michigan hockey game I would ever watch would be the semifinal against New Hampshire the next week. I am too young for Wangler to Carter.
The overtime Penn State game was indeed a great game but didn't contain one signature moment (unless you are a paranoid PSU fan, in which case the debatable Bryant Johnson incompletion qualifies). Maybe Marlin Jackson ripping a sure touchdown away from Johnson, but I don't think it's top ten material.
The Minnesota comeback certainly did have a signature moment, when John Navarre (of all people) thundered his way into the endzone flanked by about 1500 pounds of offensive line manbeef in the slowest 57-yard touchdown run of all time. A friend immediately called me to exclaim "did you just see that?" So that's a pretty good one. But it didn't dramatically shift the fortunes of Michigan. At that point it was just faint hope. Anyway. Three additions that cannot be denied, to follow.
Not one person thought that Brabbs would make it. There were approximately 110,001 people watching Michigan play Washington, and not one person thought Brabbs would make it. Except maybe his mother. His dad may have told his mother "he'll make it," but if so that was a courteous lie.
At least it wasn't a 59-yarder. It was a slightly more plausible 44-yarder that Brabbs would obviously miss after Rick Neuheisel had sent 12 men out to defend 11 on the second-to-last play of the game--after a timeout. And at least there was an attempt at all after a questionable fourth-down conversion that was sort-of-caught and then fumbled and then recovered. All for naught, though, because after a comedy of errors throughout the day, there was no way that he would make it.
There was a snap. There was a kick that was not blocked. My eyes pivoted towards the fans in the north endzone, the approximate place where the kick would land after going wide by eight to twelve feet. They looked strangely happy. I looked down at the referees perched under the goalposts. They raised their arms in the air; I was confused; Brabbs ended his Michigan career as the anti-Hayden Epstein--he made no field goals except the one that really, really mattered.
6 (tie) Hello, Heisman #2
Can't reasonably distinguish this from Desmond, now can I?
2.5 Go on, Keano
I spent the summer of 2002 in verdant Galway, Ireland. The plan was to go there, find a menial job of some sort, and have a good time. Unfortunately, when I applied for said menial jobs they said "Do you have any experience?" and I said "At picking things up and putting them down? Do you need experience for that?" and that was that. The working holiday transformed itself into a doing nothing at all holiday. This was quite pleasing to me but annoyed my mother greatly.
My idleness allowed me to watch just about every game of that year's World Cup, including the titanic day when both the USA and Ireland were in action against world heavyweights Portugal and Germany, respectively. I settled in to the couch, torn over whether I should make the approximately 20 minute trek into town to drink by myself and watch soccer at nine in the morning. I decided against it, partially because I anticipated that the day's results would be depressing. Both the USA and Ireland were heavy underdogs. Each team was missing midfielders thought to be critical to the entire enterprise. The USA was absent both Claudio Reyna and Chris Armas to injury while Ireland was without the services of talismanic midfielder Roy Keane after he had a decidedly un-Irish spat with manager Mick McCarthy (<-- MOST IRISH NAME EVER). Portugal had one of those guys who just go by one name, Figo. Germany had the brutally effective goaltending of Oliver Kahn, a name that US soccer fans would come to know far too well in a couple weeks. Prospects for joyous carousing seemed dim. Prospects for swearing sufficiently to end up deported seemed high. Home was best.
Three minutes in to the USA-Portugal game, however, American striker Brian McBride (everything you ever need to know about McBride: US soccer fans call him simply "McHead") got on the end of a corner kick and fired a blistering header at the Portugese goal, which was blocked. The rebound fell serendipitously to midfielder John O'Brien, who, as the lovely Irish announcers said, made no mistake. The USA was ahead a mere three minutes in. In the 28th minute a deflected Landon Donovan cross would make it 2-0. In the 36th minute McHead would score on a gorgeous diving header. Even though Portugal clawed one back before halftime, home had entirely lost its appeal. I force-marched myself into downtown Galway and a pub that was getting packed in anticipation of the Ireland-Germany match. I arrived just in time to see US defender score a beautiful goal... into his own net. The US held on to win 3-2, though, and my plan was half complete.
The Ireland game did not start as swimmingly. Miroslav Klose (<-- not Irish) scored in the 18th minute; afterwards the Germans sat back and played cynically, hardly advancing out of their half of the field and suffocating Irish attacks, content to kill 70 minutes of gametime. The Germans played so to stereotype that I began to formulate a new theory of soccer: teams reflect their national character. Thus the ruthless efficiency of the Germans. Thus the magical skill of Brazilian soccer--they play the game like it is Carnivale. Thus the thuggish undertone of teams like Ecuador, teams composed of players who grew up with a knife in their back pocket.
Ireland's situation grew increasingly desperate. They needed a draw to avert the possibility of Cameroon and Germany knowing that a lifeless nil-nil draw would advance both teams. Such a match would certainly play out if Ireland lost here, leaving the boys in green with almost no hope of advancement. A draw would almost guarantee advancement, as anything except a rather high-scoring tie in the Cameroon-Germany game would put Ireland through to the second round as long as the Irish took care of group minnows Saudi Arabia, who had lost to Germany 8-0. All they needed was a tiny sliver of light.
Germany was not forthcoming with that sliver. Time and again Ireland would pressure, and Oliver Kahn would bail them out. Damien Duff--a soccer version of Mike Hart, slippery, somewhat magical, incredibly short--would advance and cross. Someone would get a shot on. Kahn would snuff the chance out, sometimes incredibly. Ireland began making the flailing offensive substitutions a trailing team makes in a soccer game, hopeful moves that seldom amount to anything. Niall Quinn, a creaky 34-year-old target forward in his last international tournament, came in. (The role of the 'target forward' is to play McHead, basically. They get on the end of crosses to fire headers at goal or knock down balls booted from far upfield to their shifty waterbug cousins, something that is called a 'flick on' in the wonderfully expressive language of soccer.)
Ireland's substitutions availed to nothing, though. Deep into the second
half, two minutes into the three minutes of stoppage time, Ireland was dead in the water. Any moment the referee's whistle would blow and Ireland's World Cup would be functionally over. Some anonymous defender lofted one last desperate long ball to the top of the 18-yard box.
Quinn rose up, holding off his defender. His head met the ball. A flick on.
Suddenly Robbie Keane was in space, the ball was heading right for him, and Kahn was rushing out. Someone in the pub cried out "Go on, Keano!" The Germans had cracked the door the slightest of inches and somehow Quinn had put the ball in the only place that he could and Keane had made the only run that he could, chested the ball down, and there it was: the titanic Kahn oncoming, the ball dropping softly to the turf, and Keane lashing out at it. Keane had no time to direct the ball; he just had to get rid of it lest Kahn come right on him and gather the ball up. Ball met foot, and then ball met goalie. That bastard Kahn had gotten a piece of it! The shot glanced off of his hand, deflecting slightly, turning our hope into a cruel mockery of same.
Then, joyously, impossibly, the shot hit the crossbar, rolled along the top of the net for a tantalizing fraction of a second, and nestled safely home. The pub--and, I am quite sure, the nation--exploded. I hugged a confused looking Indian man and several Irish lads of the tough-lip, short-haired persuasion. A second roar went up when the final whistle blew mere seconds after the restart. Ireland had escaped.
After the game, I wandered out into downtown Galway. Seemingly everyone had decided to screw work and sit outside, drinking and laughing on the banks of the Corrib. I did so, sitting by the river, watching the waves roll by, and thinking that the beautiful game was beautiful indeed.
Just one more fantasy-laden post about a college football playoff, and only because excellent input was received. After this I'll put it away, secure in the knowledge that this particular dead horse won't be messing with mgoblog in time soon.
To recap: mgoblog advocates an eight-team playoff selected by a bouncyball-like committee. The first two rounds are on campus at the higher-seeded team's stadium. Champions from the top five conferences (Pac 10, Big 10, ACC, SEC, Big 12) are automatically qualified. The committee then selects one team that is either an independent or a smaller conference champion. Two at-large bids are dispensed. The committee places an emphasis on quality non-conference opponents.
IBFC responded wisely per usual with an eight-team playoff of his own with a couple pertinent differences:
- No at-large bids. Only the top eight conference champions get in.
- Two different scheduling items, both of which have slightly less home-field advantage.
I think excluding any at-large bids at all might encourage better matchups in non-conference games but it would remove much of their importance. NC games would be less important since they could only impact playoff seedings, not who gets in. Minor differences, though. I'd be 95% happy with his proposal... though I get the feeling he wouldn't be, since he's posted before that he would prefer a return to ante-bellum CFB and a de-emphasis on national championships. IBFC also floats a great idea for seeding: let the top four seeds choose their opponents from the bottom four. Heaps of intrigue added, plus the disrespect factor provides juicy motivation for the newly-ordained #8.
ParadigmBlog also chimed in with something I still find tres icky: 12 teams all culled from the five or six power conferences. I did managed to back him down from 16, so I guess some progress was made, and a system with byes does place a heavy emphasis on making it to the top four, but mgoblog still thinks that's too many. A matter of taste, I guess.
Some commenters preferred a four-team playoff that works within the BCS system, perhaps with a couple games in December before the bowls. I'd be 95% fine with that, too, though I think eight teams would open up nonconference schedules more.
One thing is clear: the BCS is close to the worst of all possible worlds. It is a half-solution to a problem that the BCS itself created. It's forced college football into a no-man's land where non-conference schedules are weak, the end of the season is more often than not unsatisfying, and the traditions of the game are damaged. We hates it.
I would be happy with almost anything that doesn't let more than a couple teams that did not win their conferences in. Four, six, eight, fine. I'd prefer flagrantly unfair homefield advantage. I'd like the Rose Bowl to be the last game of the season. I know Bo will probably die if anything like this is implemented, and I know I'll miss some of the traditions from the past. I think it's worth it.
IBFC made an excellent, harrowing point, though:
To me, the structure is less important than the selection process. I'm firmly anti-playoff, but the biggest fear stems from a firm belief that "they" will get it wrong. I mean, you can't get wronger than the BCS, and we've had that for almost a decade.
Blue-Gray Sky: it's time to head to the grotto and start praying.
Right, right. Shutting up on this, too. The "mgoblog forces itself to shut up" list now reads:
- Terry Foster
- Great Sissy Boy Blogger Slapfest
- College Football Playoff
- NBA refereeing
Hopefully soon to be added: The Incredible Awesomeitude of Steve Breaston.
Editorial Opinion: Recruiting news has slowed to a crawl in recent days after a flood surrounding Michigan's camp. Ricker was supposed to be very interested in Michigan but never ended up getting offered, despite being a Top 100 guy to Rivals. More fuel for the "Cone, eh, probably doesn't suck" fire. Also you can see at right that some Buckeye fans are already cowering in fear of young Mr. Cone. Strange respect for Michigan in that thread at BP. Usually they're the sort to go OMG U SUX0R.
Programming Note: Playoff and the Top Ten meme both generated much interesting discussion in the comments thread and, occasionally, at other blogs. I'll respond to both today or tomorrow. I think the Top Ten is going to have to expand, because I know of at least one flagrant omission that I have to correct. Memes are meant to spread, so anyone considering 'stealing' it and posting one's own version is highly encouraged to do so.
I have succumbed to memery. I apologize to all those who thought better of me. Your faith was totally unjustified. This one that's floating around is the ten "Most Unforgettable" moments you've seen live, either in person or via the wondrousness of TV. Batten the hatches. Discovered this via The Bemusement Park's iteration of same.
10. That LSU Hail Mary Against Kentucky
Probably the most surreal end to a football game I've ever seen. After Kentucky scored late to take the lead, some fans actually started storming the field before the game ended and had to be cleared off, but just barely. You could see a teeming mass of humanity at the edges of the field, just waiting to be released. And then you could see them crestfallen after a ridiculous bomb found an LSU receiver, who scampered into the endzone. And thus ended the Wildcats' brief flirtation with college football relevance.
9. Mariano's blooper.
I don't really follow much baseball, but I do like watching the Yankees lose. I made a point of watching Game 7 of the 2001 World Series, which ended when Luis Gonzalez stared down the greatest closer in the game at his very peak and hit a mighty, towering, shattered-bat bloop single to win the game only moments after Tim McCarver had said "left handed batters hit a lot of bloop singles off of Rivera's cut fastball."
8. You Don't Have A Goddamn Timeout.
7. Both posts.
The second Michigan hockey game I ever watched was the overtime national championship game in 1998 against Boston College that ended when freshman Josh Langfeld slipped a puck under the BC goalie's pads. That was memorable, but the game would never have gotten that far if not for a shot geometrically proven to be the closest a shot can be to a goal without actually being one. The shot skidded along the ice past goalie Marty Turco and hit the right goalpost, then slid straight across the goal-line, hit the other post, and bounced out.
Twenty seconds later, I remembered to breathe.
6. "Hello, Heisman."
Keith Jackson + Triumphant Michigan Football Moment = Brian Happy.
5. Carnival of Braylon.
The greatest comeback in Michigan history.
4. Intended for Row Four.
1997. Michigan vs. Michigan State in East Lansing. Spartan QB Bill Burke rolls out to his left, can't find anyone open, and throws the ball away in what appears to be routine fashion. Except for one Charles Woodson, who leaps into the air and makes a magnificent one handed grab at the absolute apex of his jump. Unfortunately, he landed several feet out of--what? That was in-bounds? OMG CHARLES WOODSON!!!!
O. M. G. Charles. Woodson.
When Jeff Smoker idiotically scrambled to the one yard line with the clock ticking down on the Michigan-Michigan State game in 2001, the game was over. The Spartans scrambled to the line and downed the ball as fast as they could, but only a crooked, partisan Spartan clock operator kept the clock from reading 0:00 at the end of the play. Michigan State, aided by the referees ignoring a flagrant case of holding, scored on the phantom down to win 26-24. Bobby Williams cried. I vowed to Keyser Soze him and his entire family. Part 1 of my plan is going swimmingly.
Definitely the angriest I've ever been about a game.
The four games Michigan played at Yost Ice Arena in the regional playoffs of the NCAA tournament in 2001 and 2002 are, as a unit, the finest live sporting events I have ever attended in my life, and it will take some doing to top them. The trademark moment, the loudest one I've ever experienced, came with under two minutes remaining in Michigan's 4-3 victory over Denver, the #1 team in the country.
The second intermission had heavily featured me staring at the 15:00 countdown on the Yost scoreboard, trying not to think. A few minutes into the third Eric Werner tied the game up by plunging into the slot like the swashbuckling buccanneer he was, and the roof nearly lifted off the building. The game went back and forth, each shot ratcheting the tension level up a notch until Denver turned the puck over in the neutral zone. Jed Ortmeyer came away with the puck and started a two on two rush into the zone. He found freshman Eric Nystrom.
Eric passed it back. Ortmeyer slid the puck two inches past the outstretched glove of Wade Dubielewicz, and I lost my mind. You can see it here, courtesy Michigan Hockey Net. The video does not do the crowd justice.
1. Go, John.
I spent a sizeable chunk of my youth in Colorado--a pre-Avs, pre-Rockies Colorado that was completely, utterly, and entirely obsessed with the Denver Broncos and their Super Bowl-losin' ways. My mother and I were both amongst the great teeming mass of Broncos fanatics. In fact, my entire school was under the orange-and-blue spell: we named our fake town "Ameagleton" instead of just "Eagleton" in tribute to the Bronco wide receiving corps, who had been nicknamed "the Three Amigos" for some reason that no one ever figured out. My mom would sit in front of the TV when the Broncos played and cry out to John Elway as if they were old friends. "Go, John!" when he made an excellent play. "Oh, John..." when he made an error. "Come on, John!" during the tense, tight moments that Bronco games often featured due to the stubborn refusal of Dan Reeves to take advantage of Elway's magnificence.
Super Bowls came and were lost. Mediocrity came and was lamented. Then Mike Shanahan and Terrell Davis showed up and there was a Super Bowl again against Brett Favre and the Packers. I went home to watch the game with my mom.
Late in the third quarter, the score tied at 14, the Broncos faced third-and-six at the Packer 12. Elway dropped back to pass and found no one open. He scrambled, directing his creaky, 37-year-old body to the first down marker. He wasn't going to make it. He wasn't going to make it. Two Packers bore down on him. Elway leapt into the air just as the first made impact. The second Packer hit a split-second later. Elway spun 360 degrees and hit the turf with a thud.
He made it.
I looked over at my mom. She said nothing; she just gripped a pillow, knuckles white, too petrified to speak.
Missed The Cut
Mike Camalleri's diving, twisting, impossible goal against Michigan State scored from his knees; A lot of equally ridiculous stuff Mike Comrie pulled; Charles Woodson's Heisman-clinching punt return; The Music City Miracle; The Longest Yard; The Drive; Tom Brady driving for the win against the Rams with John Madden saying it's a terrible idea and mgoblog screaming "Did you watch the Orange Bowl? Did you watch the Penn State game?"; the time during that same Superbowl where Pat Summerall said "this game has turned into Shockdome 36," sending Raffi and myself into hysterics for a good five minutes; Mercury Hayes catching the game winner against UVA in the early 90s; 313 for Timmy Biakabutuka against OSU; Paul Martin blocking Jason Ryznar's open net shot in the 2003 Frozen Four; Milan Gajic finding the stick of Curtis MacElhinney instead of the back of the net in the 2005 NCAA hockey tournament; Chauncey B
illups banking home a half-court three-pointer to take a 2004 playoff game against the Nets into overtime; Goddamn Robert Horry; Tim Duncan making an impossible shot followed by Derek Fisher making an even more impossibler shot in the 2004 playoffs; Desmond Howard laying out on fourth down against Notre Dame; Desmond Howard getting tripped against Michigan State; Desmond Howard and Rocket Ismail on College Gameday providing the most painful three minutes of television ever; Lance Armstrong miraculously avoiding Joseba Beloki and going cross-country for fifty feet after Beloki splattered himself across the pavement on a descent; Kordell Stewart blah blah blah; Clint Stoener's fumble vs. Tennessee; any number of Wide Rights; Nebraska's kicked ball against Missouri in '97; Marquise Walker's catch against Iowa; Jason Avant's catch against Northwestern; Steve Breaston's punt return against Illinois.
Things I Missed
Tayshaun Prince's block on Reggie Miller in last year's playoffs (was attending indie rock concert; am idiot), Miracle on Ice (was one), Anthony Thomas' fumble against Northwestern (had to leave home before game's end to go to UM-MSU hockey game(no, wouldn't have left for any other opponent)).
Scout.com is on the rampage after the Bruce Feldman ESPN article discussed previously. The 'publisher' of Scout's Nebraska site fires a broadside at ESPN titled "God doesn't like us," which is unclear. Does that refer to ESPN disliking the Scout network or God himself hating the state of Nebraska? (The latter goes without saying, I suppose. As a former denizen of the adjacent, worthwhile state of Colorado, I can say that Nebraska is very flat and very boring and that a ditch should be dug around the pestiferous state and it should be floated out to sea.) The article is hilariously ironic--every attempted parry by the author confirms and enhances Feldman's points. For example, the article ends with a bit of attempted sarcasm like so:
But, at least they know where to put a comma.
Oh Lord. Sides ache laugh hard owie cry.
Those interested in the business side of recruiting should examine this article from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer (for mgoblog's money, "Intelligencer" is the best newspaper moniker ever).
Spanish has a useful distinction between "nuevo auto" (a new car) and "auto nuevo" (a car that is 'new to you,' like a used car you just purchased). The Bemusement Park is a bloggo nuevo that introduced itself to me via Every Day Should Be Saturday and is now a proud BlogPoll voter. He drops a Big Ten preview light on the heavy and heavy on the fake awards. Michigan picks up the
the Col. Sanders Bucket for Outstanding Achievement in Chickenousness for not playing a non-conference road game this season. In fact, their only real road test will be a trip to Kinnick Stadium on October 22nd. (Stifle it, Badger fans . . . you know I'm right.)
TBP is also the first Iowa voter in the poll. Good on yer. Meanwhile, frequent mgoblog hockey reference Packer487 has jumped aboard the blogwagon with a nuevo bloggo nattily named The Blog That Yost Built. Hopefully he will alleviate my guilt at shamelessly shorting hockey coverage during football season.
Speaking of the BlogPoll Paul Westerdawg is already preparing to whore out his vote, which BlogPoll Central initially frowned upon until the secret council of war determined that it could probably do the same and net anywhere from two to four cans of creamed corn, which is nothing to sniff at. And EDSBS has finally stopped slack-jawing, yokelling, and posting pictures of mustaches long enough to post the Roundtable #2 Roundup. (Note that even the Roundtable Roundup has a picture of a mustache!)
Terry Bowden's article came in for a thorough buffetting at State Fans Nation, who makes the excellent point that there is going to be an awful lot of lag in head coaching opportunities for black guys, because head coaches are old and in the past racism was worse than it is now. mgoblog would like to further declare that the same things that make one a kickass athlete (run fast, jump high) have exactly no correlation with the things that make one a kickass coach (maniacal dedication, sophistication, desire to punt from opponent's 30) and that expecting 50% black athletes to translate into 50% black head coaches is ridiculous. mgoblog thinks that if the NCAA isn't represented proportionally (ie, about 12%) in 10-15 years, that's a serious problem. Yammering now is a good way to get your INDIGNANT JUSTIFIED PRINCIPLED OUTRAGE!!! out there so you can look like a sweet progressive activist and get crunchy tail. It doesn't impress me, though. To get mgoblog tail, you better bring detailed statistical charts.