"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
The highs dispensed of, we can focus on the real Michigan specialty: lows. This is an attempt to document the absolute worst players inflicted upon Michigan fans during Lloyd Carr's tenure as head coach. This is sort of a mean thing to do, since even the worst Michigan players are amongst the top 1% of football players anywhere. It's kind of like making fun of Darko, even though Darko's richer than you and way, way better at basketball than you.
Anyway, this is also a season-by-season evaluation, with special emphasis given to extended presence in the lineup. Tyrece Butler wasn't very good but he was the fourth wide receiver at best and thus did not impact Michigan's fate as much as Pat Massey did in 2005.
In sum: we're trying to find the guys at each position that make you think "how did that guy spend that much time on the field?" This is less laser-focused on years; some career aspects are taken into account.
Pat Massey 2005. Massey is one of four unholy locks that cannot be disagreed upon. (The others: Todd Howard, Ryan Mundy, and John Navarre.) A 6'8" defensive tackle instructed to eat a lot of pizza by cutting-edge S&C coach Mike Gittleson, Massey spent 2005 moonwalking downfield against single blocking. At no point did he ever threaten to enter the opponent's backfield. He spent more time on his back than former Notre Dame AD Kevin White at a meeting with NBC (zing!). He probably thought the line of scrimmage started somewhere around the safeties.
Choice bits on Massey from the blog's past follow. 2005's OSU UFR:
Massey(-1) is crushed off the snap ... Massey also gets crushed by single blocking. ... Running right at Massey again, who crumples backwards under the force of two blockers ... Clear evidence of Massey(-1) being a part of the opponent gameplan here. He's blown off the ball a couple yards by one blocker. The center doesn't even chip anyone and immediately plows into Harris.
If only Massey played as purty as he talked. He's 6'8", and there's a reason you've never heard of a 6'8" DT before: every play someone gets under this hypothetical giant's pads and drives him five yards backwards. Massey's only contribution this year was pursuing on screens.
Moving from defensive end in the 3-4 to a 4-3 defensive tackle was a disaster for Massey, who may as well have been named "Crumpled" by the end of the year. We should have seen it coming--when was the last time you saw a 6'8", 285-pound defensive tackle? When is the next time? I'm guessing "never" and "never again."
A review of the defensive losses after the 2005 season:
This is probably the most effective summary of his career: though he started for three years he finished with exactly four TFLs that were not sacks. All four came as a sophomore, two against Houston and two against Indiana. As a senior he had 29 tackles, one for loss. That was a sack against Michigan State where Woodley crushed two blockers, forcing Stanton to scramble back into a trailing Massey. Whoever replaces him would have to try very hard indeed to do less.
You get the idea. By all accounts he was a great guy Carr loved like a son, but... yeah. Crumplestiltskin.
Shawn Lazarus, 2001. I admit I'm guessing on this one, my memory of mediocre defensive tackles being sketchy. However, Michigan's had a parade of fringe-or-better NFL players at the position and Lazarus was one of the few to miss out. I do have lingering memories of him as the least productive of the Caucasian pride parade that was Michigan's line from about 1999 to 2002. The stats back me up:
|Career Defense for Shawn Lazarus|
2000 was a year mostly spent as a backup, but in 2001 Lazarus had 12 starts and turned in 16 tackles. Stats aren't the be-all and end-all for defensive tackles, but even so... that's not good production, and he was one of the few non-Massey defensive tackles at Michigan to be completely overlooked by all-conference teams and the NFL. (Lazarus turned in a better senior year, FWIW, with 30 tackles and 6 TFLs.)
Sidenote: Lazarus is now a motivational speaker of the Scared Straight variety:
"Where Can You Find Shawn Lazarus?"
Youth can either listen to me now or in the Juvenile Court System.
Honorable(?) Mention: The other guy considered for the second spot was -- gulp -- Will Johnson, who had a pretty meh 2007 and was partially responsible for the weak run defense last year.
Dan Rumishek, 2000. This could have been any defensive end on the 2000 team, which featured Rumishek starting ten games on the strongside and four players, all of whom were basically terrible, on the weakside: Evan Coleman, a freshman Larry Stevens, Alain Kashama, and Shantee Orr. Orr was the only one who would go on to the NFL, and he only had two starts. (Injury?)
At the time, Rumishek was a sophomore, and it showed. He finished the year with 24 tackles and one lonely sack. When that's your best defensive end... well.
Larry Stevens, 2003. This may not be entirely fair, but if the point of this team is to identify guys who had inexplicably vast amounts of playing time, Stevens has got to be up there. He arrived at Michigan a high school safety and was immediately placed on the defensive line, seeing a couple starts at DE as a freshman -- more evidence the 2000 season was not a banner year for the position.
Steven's junior year was mediocre at best, but it's Stevens' senior season that comes in for scruity here: 27 tackles, 4 sacks in 13 games. Three of those sacks came against Houston and the first Notre Dame team to get housed 38-0. (Towards the end, the student section chanted "Houston's better" at the beleagured Irish.) Against the rest of the schedule Stevens notched one sack, that versus Purdue.
Surprisingly, Stevens collected 16 tackles over a couple years with the Bengals.
Honorable(?) Mention: Larry Harrison's one year as a starter was as a 3-4 defensive end. He was okay at it, but spent his offseason showing his bits to anyone who didn't want to see them, which was everyone. Can we put David Bowens' junior and senior years in this category? They were spent at Western Illinois, after all, and just after Bowens broke Michigan's single-season sack record.
The Worldwide Leader in Eeeeeeeee. ESPN dumped a massive amount of Barwis hype on the internet yesterday. Bruce Feldman:
Barwis is a 190-pound Philly area native with the kind of presence that scares grown men. Football players, many outweighing Barwis by 100 pounds, speak in awe of the guy like he's some sort of Chuck Norris figure. His reputation, which quickly turned him into an internet star among Wolverine fans, is indeed larger than life. "I think he had a freakin' pet wolf at home," says [former WVU RB Kay-Jay] Harris. "Now, c'mon, who has a pet wolf?"
Cobourne, the veteran of the workout group, says he's noticed a dramatic difference in the athletes, using Foote, an established NFL guy, as his prime example.
"I saw Foote come in at the beginning, and he'd try and lollygag a little," says Cobourne. "And Mike's like 'Look, that ain't how we do it here.' Foote wasn't used to it. But now he's going right through it. These guys see what they're getting from it, 'Man, I was never explosive like this before. Wow this is really working for me.'"
Who has stood out to you so far in the program?
MB: They're all progressing to great magnitudes. If you're looking for an example, at 287 pounds, Brandon Graham did 315 pounds on the bench press. We cut him all the way down to 250 and then brought him back up to 269. At 269 today, he did 475 for two (repetitions) on the bench. That's pretty good. Everybody's increasing across the board. They've come a tremendously long way from learning exercises in the winter as freshmen, to being incredibly strong and functional with those exercises by the time the summer ends.
1) I can't believe Brandon Graham was nearly 300 pounds last year. 2) Schwing. 3) Three is also "schwing."
Four is probably "schwing," too. There's an article in Hail To The Victors 2008 that's all about defensive coordinator Scott Shafer and his propensity to blitz from sun up to sun down. This is nothing unique: every new defensive coordinator since the dawn of time has been accompanied by a retinue of articles proclaiming the New Era of Aggressive Aggression GRRR AGGRESSION. But in Shafer's case, well...
The defense will have four goals.
1) Stop the Run.
2) Get to the Quarterback, and then hit him in the mouth.
3) Get to the back-up Quarterback.
4. Intercept the football/create turnovers and score if possible.
In Shafer's final year at Western Michigan, the Broncos led the nation in sacks; in year one at Stanford the Cardinal went from 111th to 11th. GBMW's coachBT also says Michigan will deploy a lot of press coverage. It's everybody's defensive coordinator wet dream... hopefully it works.
I'm going down in a fields of glory. This thing is on Hulu. It's a little schlocky, but it's easy to embed.
Um? I linked the Blue Ribbon preview of Notre Dame on mgolicious a couple days ago, but would like to bring it to your attention again so I can highlight this sentence:
The schedule is unusually tame, with only a home game against Michigan and road encounter at USC to end the season standing out as nearly impossible wins.
If only that was true.
Sidenote: this doesn't quite live up to last year's Blue Ribbon ND preview, which was put together by crackheads.
Etc.: The Comcast-BTN deal has been reported as "long term", but how long? Ten years. Meanwhile: commenter Blake theorizes that Michigan was so successful against Penn State because it was playing an older, crankier version of itself; JokishTacopants analyzes the OL with an assist from Phil Steele. Did you know we're 118th in returning OL starts? Probably not. Were you happier before you knew that? Probably.
(BTW, a suggestion to diarists: Use bold somewhat liberally and take advantage of the bulleting options available in the text editor; it'll make your posts easier to read.)
There was some confusion about blogpoll membership, so a clarifying post. First: if you're in and you're not on the list below, there's no need to email me. Your place is secure.
The following blogs have been cut for various reasons:
THEY NO LONGER EXIST
- M Zone (Michigan)
- Dump Dorrell (UCLA)
- JournoRock (Alabama)
- Pitch Right (Navy)
- Ramblin' Racket (Georgia Tech)
NO ONE'S POSTED SINCE LIKE JANUARY
- 82 Sluggo Win (USC)
- House Rock Built (Notre Dame)
- Bemusement Park (Iowa)
- Off Tackle (A&M)
- Ron Bellamy's Underachieving All Stars (Michigan)
THEY DIDN'T VOTE
- Deep South Sports (Mississippi)
- SportsBiz (Northwestern)
- Georgia Sports Blog (Georgia)
- Fresno State Football (Fresno State)
- Section Six (NC State)
- Wisconsin Badger Sports (Wisconsin)
THEY'RE NOT SPORTS BLOGS
- Boi From Troy (USC)
- Straight Bangin' (Michigan)
If you see your name on this list and still wish to participate in the poll, please send me an email and the admission committee will give your re-application due consideration. There are a couple of other blogs that I don't know what to do with and will be emailing to see what's up.
NOTE: With the departure of three Michigan blogs I can now lower the cap on voters per team to four, and have done so.
I try to keep up on the hotness as far as college football blogs go and have standing invitations for the following sites that either 1) have an annoying contact form on their site (boo) or 2) have no contact information whatsoever (BOO):
- Barking Carnival (Texas)
- The National Championship Issue (?)
- Washington Husky Sports
- Bama Sports Report
- Scalp 'Em (FSU)
- Georgia Tech Sports
- Bears Necessity (Cal)
- Excuse Me For My Voice (Cal)
- allCanes.com (Miami)
- Mississippi State Sports Blog
If you write one of these blogs, email me for signup instructions. A number of other blogs that have contact information somewhere on their site have also been invited.
IF YOU DIDN'T GET THE EMAIL, by no means are you unworthy of consideration; I'm just one guy and am not omniscient. If you've already emailed me and didn't get the email, that doesn't mean you've been passed over. That's just going out to blogs that meet the criteria who may not be aware of the poll's existence and support under-represented teams or conferences.
It might suck, though. Michigan Sports Center has been scouring Internet message boards for information on NCAA 09 and reports back with some problems:
To incorporate "wide open gameplay," the defenses in NCAA 09 reportedly have been incredibly dumbed down. By this, I mean that it is far too hard to play defense when lining up against the computer. When you are on defense, most people have reported that the opposing computer quarterback are way too accurate. The norm is only five or so incompletions a game according to some, and that is only because of dropped passes. On top of that, the computer's offensive line supposedly is way too dominant, even against the best teams in the game. With an extremely accurate QB and barely any pass rush, the results aren't good.
There are also widespread difficulties with editing the rosters (which I couldn't care less about, especially since you can download a whole roster for free from inside the EA Locker). Bill Abner's continued to post impressions at his blog and remains pleased -- "if I had to return the game and then decide whether or not to buy it, I'd be in line just like the rest of you, forking over my $60 and change" -- despite some annoyances; I trust him over some of the inveterate whiners that populate video game message boards. (Not that they don't have a point, but sometimes it's a bit much.) Abner does futz with the sliders excessively, so the issues above may be real on All American with default sliders but obviated if you're willing to tweak.
Law and Toomer. In the Thursday post rebutting Michael Rosenberg's column on Rich Rodriguez, I made passing reference to the distance between former Michigan stars Ty Law and Amani Toomer and Lloyd Carr. A couple folks have asked for background. Law left for the NFL after his junior year when his family filed for bankruptcy, and Carr did not take it well:
"He didn't care for me leaving, and I wasn't welcomed back for a while," said Law of Carr, who was Michigan's defensive coordinator but replaced Gary Moeller as head coach for what would have been Law's senior season.
Law says Carr "actually told me -- and that's what I feed on until this day -- that I would never see the third round. And that kind of hurt me. I know I thought I was one of the better players here on the team."
The animosity lingers; see the sidebar of that Page 2 article for further detail.
Toomer's issues with Carr are vaguer but just as real:
Did you hear from any of your former U-M teammates or Lloyd Carr after the win? No. The last time I heard a word from Lloyd was when I was playing in a (Michigan) game; it was my last play of my senior year. I caught a touchdown from Brian Griese, and I was walking off the field and Lloyd looks at me, looks at Griese, looks at me again, and goes, "Good throw, Brian." And that's the last thing he ever said in my direction.
Did you have a good relationship with Carr while at U-M? I thought we did, but I guess we didn't. So I don't know. I wasn't too upset to see the whole regime change.
Le Dominator is French for The Dominator. Pacioretty hype from Montreal's prospect camp continues to come fast and furious:
While Trevor Timmins, the Canadiens' director of recruitment, was reluctant to talk about individual players, he did venture the opinion that Pacioretty is "head and shoulders" above his peers.
... et chaque ...
Take this to the bank, people: Max Pacioretty will be with the big club when the 2009-'10 season begins. And he's going to be a good one.
But where will he be playing this fall? Probably Yost:
Pacioretty has played one season at the University of Michigan. It's unlikely he'll stay there for a full four years, but he is expected to return in September.
Knock on wood and all that. If he does return, plan on it being a Jack-Johnson-like victory lap, hopefully one just as freakin' awesome as JMFJ's senior year.
Cross is boss. Wolverine Historian has compiled the 2001 Illinois game, a comprehensive beating applied with some panache. I had totally forgotten what I think were back-to-back trick plays that got Michigan its first touchdown, and Todd Howard is subject to the most spectacular facemask penalty I've ever seen. In full:
Another day, another jab. The Ann Arbor News takes the opportunity presented by the "Rodriquez" settlement to launch another broadside at the athletic department. This was my favorite part:
Michigan used to be unique amid a national trend that's seen programs at other schools become less about student athletes and much more about the money that marquee sports can generate.
This isn't just orthogonally wrong, it's the exact opposite of right. The first sentence in Don Canham's Wikipedia article is "he became nationally-renowned for his ability to market and sell products bearing the name or logo of the school." Canham himself:
The only thing I did know was that were going to draw a hell of a lot more people than we ever did. Up until then, schools did not advertise. I almost got fired when I flew a helicopter advertising Michigan football over the World Series (in Detroit) in 1968. That was considered undignified. We ran ads in magazines and all the Detroit suburban newspapers. Our big gimmick was that we mailed ticket applications - that first year we mailed 400,000 ticket applications and sold coffee cups and things like that. We paid for the ads with the coffee cups. The premiums we came up with paid for it all.
The only thing unique about Michigan's place in the college football money grab was its status as first-mover. The rest of it is a complaint seemingly from another universe: Michigan's athletic department leadership has "little if any accountability or openness." The dastardly bastards in charge finished third in the Director's Cup, saw all their teams easily clear the NCAA's APR hurdles, and ran a massive surplus doing it. They must be held accountable!
By any reasonable standard the Michigan athletic department is one of the best in the country. It supports a massive number of student-athletes, does extraordinarily well in sports across the board, and does so without draining a dime from the university's general fund. Since the Ed Martin affair over a decade ago there hasn't been even the barest hint of NCAA problems. For this it gets harsher coverage from its local media than any program in the country.* I'm not asking for mindless homerism, but how about a shred of perspective?
The Ann Arbor News lists the phone numbers and email addresses for Martin, Coleman, and the Regents, exhorting you to "send a message." I suggest you send a different message to an organization that evidently has no interest in covering Michigan fairly by calling 734-994-6989. That message: "cancel my subscription."
*(I assume. No one else has been the target of a week-long investigative series that turned up virtually nothing, right? Washington might have a case given the Seattle Times' recent exhumation of the Neuheisel era at UW, but that actually seemed targeted at UCLA. If the Columbus Dispatch tried this they'd be under seige. Probably literally.)
Etc.: The NYT preview of Michigan approvingly references MGoBlog but contains some glaring errors ("Michigan did not land one quarterback recruit in the 2008 class"); Jim Brandstatter snaps back at Rosenberg; Michigan favored by seven against Utah.
It comes down to this.
Creator: Jason Minor
Round One: 90% of the vote
Round Two: 91% of the vote
Round Three: 80% of the vote
Note that we've got a new banner from Jason Minor.
Round One: 95% of the vote
Round Two: 81% of the vote
Round Three: 68% of the vote
I'm not as horrified as most probably will be, as I quite like the numbering and don't mind the shoulder piping, but I can't imagine the little side stripe as anything but ugly. Full gallery here.
Update: The official site has the jerseys up and the side striping seems a lot less prominent, FWIW.