So, yeah, it's article exchange time with Blue-Gray Sky. I have a post on the Michigan-ND rivalry from the Wolverine perspective over there (includes me nearly beating children up!). They've got this over here. Enjoy but, uh, forgive them their somewhat humorous opinions re: national splendor. It's been a tough 12 years...
Dear Michigan fans,
That time of year is upon us once again, when the two titans of midwest football clash in what's shaping up to be yet another epic battle. There's something extremely powerful surrounding this mostly-annual grudge match; we fight over local and national dominance, we fight over the top spot spot in all-time winning percentage, we fight over recruits. ND-Michigan has featured some of the best games in college football over the years, with legendary names like Hamilton and Oliver, Ismail and Howard, Carter and Brooks and Mirer and Gillette spilling across the headlines. Interestingly enough, despite the proximity -- Ann Arbor is just a scant 175 miles from South Bend -- Notre Dame and Michigan aren't really the dominant rivals in each other's worldview. Notre Dame has its traditional, and longer-running rivalry with Southern Cal, and Michigan's stalking horse has always been Ohio State. That's not to say ND-Michigan is taken any more lightly by its fans; on the contrary, the emotions run just as high. But the matchup is special: I would say that Michigan and Notre Dame are less rivals and more Enemies. Bitter, bitter enemies.
ND-Michigan more often than not features a battle of nationally-ranked opponents, and often goes right down to the wire. And unlike other grudge matches that often serve as a capstone to a team's season, the Notre Dame-Michigan affair is always right up front, usually kicking off the season. A win can catapult the victor to an undefeated season; a loss can sink a team's hopes right out of the gates. Off the field, we pit our rich traditions against each other in a never-ending argument over who's got the best academics, the best colors, the best uniforms, the best marching band, and the best fight song.
In a way, Notre Dame owes Michigan a debt of gratitude. It was a group of Wolverine players who first taught the game to a Notre Dame club way back in 1887. From those humble beginnings, both programs rose to national fame and fortune. So, we give thanks to Michigan for passing down the game that has defined us so, and we are grateful.
But we owe Michigan more than our gratitude. We owe UM our scorn, for they have earned it.
A quick look at the history books reminds us why the Skunkbears have a wing unto themselves in our Hall of Shame. Shortly after the halcyon days of 1887, when players shared the game in a collegial competition, you tried to kill us. Once Notre Dame beat Fielding Yost's "point-a-minute" champions (after 8 consecutive losses to the Wolverines), Yost took the fledgling Irish program off Michigan's schedule. The humiliation ran deep; as if simply dropping the Irish wasn't enough, Yost fought tooth and nail to keep the burgeoning ND program out of the powerful Western Conference, worried that the upstart immigrant school would damage the reputation of what is now the Big Ten. Yost blackballed us, and encouraged others to do the same; for 34 years, his cowardice was enshrined in UM's schedule for all to see. Like a deranged, Munchausen-by-proxy mother (look it up), you tried to smother us in the crib when our program was in its infancy. Fear of Notre Dame was a powerful talisman, institutionalized by Yost, and the cowardice and consternation towards Notre Dame oozes out of Ann Arbor even to this day.
Yost was but the first in a litany of men of low character to hold the reins at UM. Fritz Crisler's "bias" (ahem) toward ND is well-known, and, like his predecessor, again dropped the Irish from his schedule for thirty years after a loss. Bo Schembechler sat idly by, for years, as three different Irish coaches won National Championships, while he was busy losing Rose Bowls; Bo was driven crazy with the notion that ND might enter the Big 10 and end his biannual trips to Pasadena. Gary Moeller was frustrated that he couldn't pick Notre Dame up, drink it, and then drive into a ditch. These also-rans were over-shadowed by true coaching legends just down the road from them: legends like Rockne, Leahy, Parseghian, and Holtz, who racked up championship upon championship as Ann Arbor stewed.
In the end, perhaps we do owe the Skunkbears a few more tokens of thanks. If Yost hadn't taken his ball and gone home, perhaps we would now be in the Big Ten, and our idea of football excellence would entail two or three losses per year and a trip to the Rose Bowl twice a decade. But instead, you blackballed us, and tried to choke us out of existence. You should have finished the job. We survived, and because too many teams were under Michigan's villainous spell in the Midwest, we were forced to look elsewhere to find quality opponents. And we did. We scheduled and played the nationwide champions of the day: Army, Southern Cal, Georgia Tech, Stanford, and many others. We criss-crossed the country, we were Rockne's Ramblers, taking on all comers, what tho' the odds. In doing so, we won national acclaim, respect, and the hearts of countless Americans. It was Michigan's attempt to stamp out a budding rival that created the nation's most popular and successful football program, the University of Notre Dame's Fighting Irish.
This is why we don't approach the Michigan game with the same tradition-laden respect, the pomp and circumstance, or the "contest of equals" honor reserved for the Southern Cal game. Rather, like Inigo Montoya closing in on the six-fingered man, we come with a singular focus. We are Notre Dame Football. You tried to kill us. Prepare to die.
[Editor's note: This is how I envision the way Notre Dame fans perceive time: 1887-1993 â€“ Ten Billion Years; 1993-Present â€“ What are you talking about, it's still 1948.]
Er... moving on. Yeah. Fell off the wagon yesterday. Haters Anonymous here I come.
Sorry, Tim. But I think the Massaquoi Heisman run will have to wait a year.
Maybe that Woodley guy is okay. Bruce Feldman($) points out this article on NIU LT Doug Free, who spent last Saturday battling Lamarr Woodley. Free is apparently a candidate to go in the first round next year (though, disturbingly, the only source cited is CFN).
The stat sheet implies that Free had good day against Woodley but by my count Woodley made 7-8 nice plays to 2 negative ones despite only getting the one tackle. If Free's really all the article makes him out to be he'll probably be the best tackle Woodley goes up against this year; his production should increase from here on out.
Michigan alum and big-baller journalist Jon Chait will be guest posting sometime next week about the disturbing decline of the Michigan defense, but he checks in now with a rebuttal to a strange assertion from the Blue-Gray Sky:
[Mike from] Blue-Gray Sky previews Michigan from a Notre Dame perspective. He professes from the beginning that he's going to offer up reasons "hopefully less obvious than Michigan's much discussed difficulties on defense" why Notre Dame will win.
Among the reasons:
Scot Loeffler's presence provides Irish fans some comfort when faced with an older, wiser Chad Henne. Granted, Henne will benefit from having a year's more experience than he did the last time he faced Notre Dame. However, Loeffler has also had that same amount of time to screw up Henne's mechanics. As Michigan's season progressed last year, Henne appeared to show signs of developing the patented Loeffler Low Release Point(tm). Recall that this was the technique that led to 6' 6" John Navarre rifling passes into the shoulder pads of opposing defensive linemen with amazing frequency.
Well, that certainly IS less obvious than the fact that Michigan's defense has become consistently horrible. In fact, it's a non-obvious factor in the same sense that "Michigan may win because Charlie Weis is prone to die of malnutrition during the game" is a non-obvious factor.
Set aside the fact that Michigan fans and insiders -- including those who want to see assistants like Jim Herrmann dismembered by a wood chipper and felt the same way about previous assistants like Mike DeBord -- agree that Loeffler is immensely effective. Set aside also the fact that QB recruits rave about his ability to give them coaching tips during summer camp that produce massive and immediate improvement, or that Tom Brady has credited Loeffler, then a graduate asistant, with doing more than anybody else to promote his development. Let's focus on John Navarre.
Before Loeffler could ruin him with his crazy passing technique, Navarre was a slow, inaccurate, low-rated recruit who was not offered at quarterback by his home state Wisconsin. After Wisconsin offerd him at defensive end, he committed to Northwestern. Only after Michigan was spurned by its top-tier QB recruits did it go after Navarre, who decommitted in the wake of Gary Barnett's defection. Here is Navarre's completion percentage by year:
Here is Navarre's yardage by year:
If Loeffler causes Chad Henne to regress the same way he caused Navarre to regress, Irish fans better be plenty worried. (Amen! -ed)
My friend Kit, once mentioned that he loved the occasional blog flamewars that popped up--the Nancy Clark thing, GSBBS05, etc--so, Kit: this Bud's for you. I guess I shouldn't be surprised that that CYA Guide thing started a vast and far ranging comment flamewar. I should know better than to start this stuff--it's like scheduling Eastern Michigan--but stuff been started. Sorry kids, I had a vision thrust upon me after reading these ripostes from HP:
Well, ny1995, I have been linked three times by Feldman. Want to know why? Because he reads my blog. He links to me because I have a different point of view on things, not because I am rubber stamping what he has to say. And there are a lot of things that he writes that have originated from me that he doesn't link or reference me on. Same goes with several other writers.
Ot's irrelevant what he said about me. The point is he cared enough about what I said to point others in my direction to read it. Why do you think he doesn't link to MGO Blog? Because his readers--people who care about college football--would not be interested.
Look man, there are plenty of things that Feldman has written that come from me. I'm not going to divulge them because I respect him. Let's put it this way: I never said that all the things he gets from me is stuff that is written on my blog.
Okay, we get it: you are a low-level USC Sports Information Department flunky. Reporters call you. This is how I envision those conversations going:
(a phone rings.)
HP: Hello, you've reached the very lowest echelon of the USC athletic department. How may I be of service?
BRUCE FELDMAN: (aside) Goddammit, not this guy again. Hi. It's Bruce Feldman. I was looking to set up an inter--
HP: BRUCE! MY MAN!
HP: I have got the greatest idea for you. Something that really sets the parameters of debate, you know, something that really pushes the envelope...
HP: You're supposed to say "hit me with it."
BF: Really, I just need an intervie--
HP: Hit me with it.
BF: I mean, seriously, I work for ESP--
HP: HIT ME WITH IT!
BF: (aside) I swear to God... Hit me with it.
HP: I need a little more than that. It's a really great idea. I need to feel it, Brucey.
BF: (aside) I'm asking Shapiro for a raise. Hit me with it!
HP: Okay, okay, okay. This is fantastic: did you know that USC Reggie Bush's last name is "Bush"?
BF: Uh... yeah.
HP: Okay, yeah, you know what's going on. You're hip to the grindstone, man. But... did you know that the President's last name is ALSO "Bush"?
BF: Uh... yeah.
HP: Okay, yeah, I suppose you're a journalist, good to know, President's name and all that. But did you know that people around here call Reggie Bush "The President"? You can keep that one. Use it, man, I won't tell people you got it from me.
BF: Great. Can I talk to someone else?
HP: Who? Matt Leinart? I talked to him once. He's dreamy.
BF: I don't care who. Who's next to you?
HP: Eduardo the janitor. He's from El Salvador.
BF: He's great. Put him on. Real human interest there.
HP: He doesn't speak English.
BF: That's okay, trust me. The impact of college athletics on an El Salvadorean everyman. I can see it on the cover of ESPN the Magazine right now.
EDUARDO: Hola? Quien es eso?
BF: Ay de mi! Quien es el hombre muy estupido?
EDUARDO: No se.
BF: Puedo hablar con Matt Leinart?
EDUARDO: Si, un momento.
Hello, friends. We all have websites--we're Americans, after all, and therefore everything we've ever thought or said is worthy of worldwide publicity. But sometimes websites are started by people of below average intelligence, a group that comprises an axiomatically-surprising 90% of the population. If you have a website you're probably in this group, and you're probably a narcissist. This is fine if you cover things like how gross dogs are (OMG SOOOO GROSS!), but if you've entered a field where actual events can sometimes impinge on your gloriously intelligent correctitude, you're going to need a guide to covering your ass when you, being significantly less intelligent than the public at large, screw up in a fashion unbefitting a self-proclaimed "pundit" or "super genius" or "verbal internet hero".
Luckily for you, someone has led the way.
Step 1: Quickly Admit Wrongness.
This is regrettably necessary, since not doing so clearly marks you as insane instead of just lamentably misinformed about your place in the world. So do it in about two sentences at the start of your meandering post. It hurts, I know, but you'll spend the next 3,000 words reaffirming your status as Super Blog Genius.
Step 2: Gloss Over The Details Of Your Error.
Sure, you might have spent months yammering on about how your pet theory implies that the field of your choice is going to undergo a "revolution" or "competitive colonoscopy" because of the deep, dark, foul secrets you have uncovered like the super genius you are. You may have set aside entire sections of your website to revel in the glories of a select set of entities that embody the theory you espouse.
But that's not really all that important... when you took five seconds to blather about some other topic that, like a monkey picking stocks, you managed to get correct! Why, it doesn't matter that all your time and (relative) mental energy was poured into this other, stunningly wrong thing, when you vaguely suggested that something else could possibly occur. Maybe.
Step 3: Use blindingly obvious statements condescendingly.
Remember that a good substitute for actually being smart is accusing everyone else of being dumb. People will mentally filter themselves out from such an accusation to protect their egos and, since you're basically correct that everyone else is dumb, people will agree with you. By taking blindly obvious things and phrasing them as if they are revelations of stunning magnitude, you will invite the reader to join you in the Club of Obvious Genius:
If you watched any games at all this weekend, there were plenty of examples of scheme and style of play.
Indeed! What an astute point, that if you watched "any games at all" this weekend you would have seen examples of "scheme"! Also! Also there would have been "styles of play." A valuable lesson has been learned: football teams attempt to do things in an organized fashion. All hail the master tactician! This amazing point is followed up:
The talk of scheme and style of play will continue here. Too many other games and teams give great evidence to its existence and power, and will certainly be elaborated upon further on here and HP.
Indeed. The two giants of blogging have decided to discuss what football teams do. Alas, if only I could understand the basic concepts of football!
Step 4: Confuse People With Utter Nonsense.
If you attempt to make sense, you'll probably fail, again because of the intelligence thing. Instead, confuse your reader by making completely ridiculous sentences that make them question their own sanity, their own ability to parse sentences into meaningful concepts:
Echoing HP's discussion in his Mea Culpa, Boise State was so far behind from the first whistle in this game, they really never had a chance to implement their scheme, some of the scripted plays, and the overall technical advantage they possess. ... Their magnificent offense was scrapped in order to play catch-up. Obviously Boise doesn't do catch-up all that well.
A wide-open spread offense designed to score in bunches and quickly... bad at catch up? Has the whole world gone insane? Or maybe... it's me!
Step 5: Point out things that entirely disprove your point and claim them as your own. CFR is the master:
To cite just one example, Wisconsin's perfected rushing attack was too much for a great Bowling Green offensive attack. But Bowling Green also did things to Wisconsin's defense, headed by an elite defensive coordinator, that has never been achieved by Big Ten opponents. Using vastly inferior talent. That's kind of the point. These low talent teams are, at times, able to play on the same stage as super talented teams. Its not luck, but design.
Of course the entire argument proposed here was that superawesome spread offenses that combine the run and the pass had created a elite group of six teams that were basically invincible to anyone outside of the group, so the Neanderthal pounding that Wisconsin executed (10 passes all day) should have completely failed to beat the BG spread awesomeness.
Note a further excellent use of Step 4 here, the claim that the Bowling Green offense, sporting stone-cold first-round lock Omar Jacobs and a splendid array of skill position players has "vastly inferior talent" to a Wisconsin defense that's lost seven starters and has no obvious NFL players on it, let alone first round locks.
Step 6: Remind everyone that you didn't ascend to this throne of blogging genius by mistake.
Not everyone can blog, after all. It's a hardy elite that can register a domain name, set up a default installation of WordPress, and claim their "dynamic new look" totally kicks ass. The thing costs literally dollars a month, and where are you going to get dollars? The barn raising? The harvest dance?
You can rightly criticize me for missing the boat with Boise State, but to dismiss that this stuff even exists or is not incredibly powerful, means you're completely missing the boat when it comes to football.
Ai! Alone, alone, all alone on a pier with a boat that left 45 minutes ago, staring into the moody sea, contemplating the best way to commit suicide, I am. I am I am.
Step 7: Insult People Who Were Really, Really Right
A false air of bravado lends your posts an air of legitimacy. After all, who wants to read the writings of someone "reasonable"? Nobody. Reason is for pussies. Anyone who is correct and is therefore reasonable is therefore a pussy and should be insulted:
The Georgia pimps will say it was all Georgia's defense, but I can assure you most savvy fans were shocked at some of the gross incompetence on display by Jared Zabransky
Lordy, no, I must not be savvy because I expected Jared Zabransky to suck. In this fashion you can frame the events that have taken place as totally unexpected and shocking to the knowledgeable fan and leave the pathetic concept of having a vague idea of what's going on to the plebians.
Step 8: Remove All Evidence Of Your Apology A Couple Days Later.
Go ahead. Check the HP archives for his "apology" post. Ain't there.
Step 9: Continue Jackassery.
You don't really have any other choice, do you?
Okay, I've finally reached my rumor tipping point on a possible injury.
It's very likely that Tim Massaquoi is out for Notre Dame and possibly a long while afterward... like the season. Possibly a wrist injury. Michigan internets are also in some hardcore panic (yo) about the possibility of both Hart and Kolodziej also being out, but my read on the situation is that those rumors are probably false.
If Massaquoi is inded hurt Tyler Ecker will step forward and promising freshman Mike Massey will start getting more extensive playing time. Though Ecker is certainly capable, a Massaquoi loss will affect the offense as there were quite a few two tight ends sets being run against NIU. We may see more FB or three WR sets from here on out unless Massey really asserts himself.
Robocop is certainly taking some hits.
(Voters left behind, get them in by EOD and I'll re-run the poll-gram). UPDATE: Caught the stragglers; voting is closed.
Hurray, that's the poll hurray. If you're interested, you can see all the individual ballots here.
The BlogPoll again mirrors the other polls by moving Michigan up to third and punishing Tennessee for a squeaker win over UAB. Somewhat disappointed that the poll didn't take into account the widespread trepidation of Michi-bloggers, which will come into stark relief in mere moments.
Now on to the extracurriculars. First up are the teams which spur the most and least disagreement between voters as measured by standard deviation. Note that the standard deviation charts halt at #25 when looking for the lowest, otherwise teams that everyone agreed were terrible (say, Eastern Michigan) would all be at the top.
Ballot math: First up are "Mr. Bold" and "Mr. Numb Existence." The former goes to the voter with the ballot most divergent from the poll at large. The number you see is the average difference between a person's opinion of a team and the poll's opinion.
Heismanpundit, pissed off that he couldn't vote Boise in the top ten, sat this week out, so Mr. Bold will find a new home. Last week's second place Mr. Bold, TrojanWire, revamped his ballot extensively and has come more in line with the poll as a whole, so seriously space-cadet ballots are absent this week. Fresno blogger MDG is this week's Mr. Bold. Why? Well, Texas #6, Alabama #11, Louisville #24, and a lot of disagreement towards the bottom of his ballot. MDG: your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to convince us about 'Bama and Louisville.
Update: Wack ballots flow in late! EDSBS steals the Mr. Bold crown at the last second by going completely flapjack nuts about early winners GT (#8), TCU (#13), Clemson (#17) and Wisconsin(#18) and seriously downgrading anyone who blinked the first week (Tennessee, Michigan, Louisville, Florida, both halves of the Miami/FSU monstrosity). One question, though... what did Purdue do to deserve a henious drop from #18 to #25 on their off week?
Mr. Numb Existence is My Opinion On Sports, who didn't like Ron New Mexico's performance against NC State, dropping the Hokies from #2 to #6. Tough week for MOOS. An Oklahoma fan, he had to find a place to put OU after the TCU game and came up with #19.
Next we have the Coulter/Krugman Award and the Straight Bangin' Award, which are again different sides of the same coin. The CKA and SBA go to the blogs with the highest and lowest bias rating, respectively. Bias rating is calculated by subtracting the blogger's vote for his own team from the poll-wide average. A high number indicates you are shameless homer. A low number indicates that you suffer from an abusive relationship with your football team.
The second winner of The CK Awards is poll newbie Buffs.tv for placing Colorado at #19, which isn't too nuts, but the ceremonial "your team" spot is traditionally #25. Of greater interest is Buffs.tv's stubborn Bronco-love: Boise State checks in at #20. Leading theory is that it's a tribute to John Elway.
Update: Unsurprisingly, The Enlightened Spartan maintained his death grip on this thing. Spartans (absent from the poll at large) at #15.
Unsurprisingly, the winner of the Straight Bangin' Award is Straight Bangin'... again! We named it after him for a reason, but this week the pessimism is shared--to a lesser extent, natch--by three additional Michigan bloggers down on the team after the uninspiring defensive performance against Northern Illinois. The heavy Wolverine tilt to the poll seems to be keeping the man down, as it were.
"Swing" ratings coming when, uh, they work. Update:Which is now! Swing is essentially the total change in each ballot from last week to this week (obviously voters who didn't submit a ballot last week are not included). A high number means you are easily distracted by shiny things. A low number means that you're damn sure you're right no matter what reality says.
No snarky comments, just trying to get this up: