The nutty Michigan coverage isn't so much about Harbaugh as it is a signal to the Big Ten that Fox wants to party.
Spartan secondary scalded by sprain! Er. It's a break, actually, and one at a position the Michigan State is already desperately thin at: corner. Projected nickelback Ross Weaver is out for the year. Two true freshmen now back up shaky starters Demond Williams and Greg Cooper. Spartan blogger Rob Visconti -- who's sane, a first for Internet Spartans -- is resigned:
Begin placing your bets as to which current Spartan running back and/or wide receiver will be converted to cornerback and vault into the lead for the "Jaren Hayes Memorial What the Hell am I Doing in the Secondary?" award now.
I've got five bucks on Terry Love.
The aforementioned article also has updates on other Spartan bits. The offense, as expected, is tearing through the defense like Charlie Weis through a six-foot slab of pork; freshman kicker Todd Swenson is 10 of 10 after two scrimmages and has won the starting job.
This Mark Mitera article is wonderful until the last sentence:
"As of right now, I committed to going back to school next year. Down the road, you know, we'll see how the cards fall and what's going to happen."
I would not expect Jack-like tenacity next offseason. Hopefully we can get him back for one more year, but that's a nasty quote.
Jarrod Bunch was on Entourage but I don't get HBO so I must refer you to Awful Announcing, which is apparently run by the world's biggest Jarrod Bunch fan. I mean, he watched the Westbrook-Bunch fight.
Rotoworld put together a few NFL teams composed of players from one college, which is a thought exercise everyone goes through at least once per offseason. (Just me? Oh.) There are two separate bricks, one for offense and one for defense.
The articles are a curious mix of accurate NFL evaluations and evidence the author spends Saturdays wastefully. Ignore the comments like "Mike Hart is a poor man's Chris Perry" (er... ok) and "We hear Roger Allison is a potential NFL draftee" (we hear that he's been out of football for over a year) and stick to the NFL stuff.
When you do, you will not be surprised. Team strengths are quarterback, offensive line, and linebacker (Michigan is said to be second in the running for LBU, behind only Miami). Team weaknesses are defensive line and safety (Ernest Shazor starts!).
Michigan finishes fifth in the Tuscaloosa News' rankings of the top football programs. Their system is an amalgam of history and what happened last year. Obviously, last year hurt Michigan badly. Keith Jackson quote:
"There is no doubt this is my favorite place, to see four generations rise up and appreciate it, for the pageantry, the ambiance," said announcer Keith Jackson, who came up with the term "The Big House" for Michigan Stadium. "Michigan has such grandiosity. It has all those All-Americans. You can't go anywhere without finding a Michigan graduate."
So. I would like to introduce you to the wonderfulness that is MGoStore. It currently contains a smattering of t-shirts, some maize, some blue, with snappy sayings that will totally wicked impress all your friends. Click on any of the images to be taken to the store.
(Note: apparently a few shirts, particularly the Hart one, aren't coming up in the popup. The main store url has everything.)
Anyone wishing to confuse students in Honors calculus will want to get their mitts on a "New Math" shirt; those in heart with Hart will want to express that feeling graphically:
And... well, I think I may have gone a little overboard with the Zoltan shirts.
...but that's not overboard. This could possibly be construed as overboard:
"Space Emperor of what" you ask? Of Space. Zoltan is Space Emperor of Space. But wait! There's one more:
Incensed comments from NDNation denizens in 3... 2... 1...
And this one is perfect for those of you with friends who are in MSU frats. You know the kind of meathead who doesn't even know that Ann Arbor isn't even a person, right?
If that's a little harsh for you or your grandmother there is an equivalent shirt, only totally classy:
And finally, let it never be said that I didn't take Lloyd Carr's tastes into account when designing the shop:
All proceeds go to a good cause: your local blogger.
After I had uncovered Web sites advocating the dismissals of John L. Smith at Michigan State, Houston Nutt at Arkansas, Urban Meyer at Florida, Brooks and others, I did research on coaches who should be untouchable -- such as Brown, whose team dispatched Southern California in the Rose Bowl last January.
Or silly Longhorns fans. You decide. My search took me to a site named www.burntorangenation.com, where a fan delivered this rant:
"Even though he was behind the national title last year, I find myself not fully believing in Mack Brown? With Number 10 (quarterback Vince Young) gone, I find it difficult to believe that Texas will slip back into its very good, but not championship-level, rate of 10 wins a season."
Throw the bum out. Immediately. Maybe Fred Akers or John Mackovic is available to return to Austin.
Does that passage qualify as a rant? It seems like concern expressed reasonably. There must be a special dictionary for newspapers that defines rant like so:
- An impassioned, often harsh speech or essay characterized by anger.
- Anything written on the Internet.
Curious definitions aside, Bozich would be making a good point... if someone from Burnt Orange Nation had written that. BON did no such thing. The cited passage comes from Notre Dame/Halloween candy blog Rakes of Mallow and found its way to BON specifically to be rebutted:
I just don't understand what people want from Mack Brown. He did very well with the Texas players he inherited, he's done damn well with the players he's recruited, and he won a national title with his 2002 #1 recruiting class - many of whom are still on this year's team. I guess I just fail to see how you can have a six year stretch like Mack Brown has had and still have people saying, "Yeah, but..."
... He's one of the best coaches in America, and there's no penalty for winning a national title "just because of" your elite talent. That's exactly what's supposed to happen. And it did.
Add in Bozich missing the subtle sarcasm of CanCharlie.com and the score is Internet Ranters 2, Bozich 0.
*(Several people have theorized that the only thing in the English language that actually "ensues" is a kickoff. Note that "hilarity" is also a member of this privileged group of nouns.)
Captains are Woodley and Long. Mutter mutter should have made Mike Hart a supercaptain or something mutter.
Alex Mitchell is penciled in at right guard. That, of course, means that the oft-dreaded spectre of Rueben Riley, tackle, is all but official.
Weakside linebacker: advantage Burgess.
David Harris has had a good camp and Prescott Burgess has worked -- he and Chris Graham of course are competing for a linebacker position. Burgess came on strong at the end of last week so we'll just have to see how this week goes.
Job still up in the air; whoever loses will be the first OLB off the bench in case of an injury.
Jamar Adams is (probably) your strong safety. Free safety is being battled out between Brandent Engelmon and Ryan Mundy:
At safety, Jamar Adams has had an excellent fall and (Brandent) Engelman and Ryan Mundy are battling hard at the other position.
Brandon Graham is a defensive end and may play this year.
Skill position redshirts are to be scoffed at. Not only is Carlos Brown going to play but Carr says that Greg Mathews and Brandon Minor will see time in an effort to get their talents out of the program as irritatingly fast as possible. I suppose that's good since it indicates that both Mathews and Minor are talented players, but it's wasteful to hurl them out on the field as freshmen for a few meaningless plays. An argument can be made for getting players like Edwards or Avant time as true freshmen when they're going to be counted on to contribute as a sophomore, but Michigan graduates one wide receiver -- Breaston -- and no running backs this year. Their services will not be critical in '07.
Minor and Brown are the most puzzling. At best they're going to be third string. With Mister Simpson, Jerome Jackson, and Alijah Bradley around Michigan certainly has sufficient numbers to do without the freshmen. At least one should redshirt, especially since Mister Simpson did last year. If both play Michigan will have a knot of three running backs with the same eligibility. In summary: bleah.
Zoltan! Is pushing for starting duties:
"He's punted the ball really, really well and it'll be interesting. But he's really made a push."
Grady is better. Hopefully he won't cut away from the hole this year:
"Kevin has had a very good fall. I think he's in the best shape of his life. He's worked hard and obviously he's had a year under his belt where he got significant playing time. He's made a real investment and has had a really good training camp."
Breaston and Manningham sound like the nominal starters at WR; Adrian Arrington is the #3.
Carr's diplomatic answer to the following doesn't say much unless you read between the lines:
Chemistry with you and defensive meeting...I heard you haven't been there as much. Is that different this year? Are you leaving them alone a little bit? ... "I think I have, and have always had, great confidence in the guys that have coached here for me and I have always believed that you give a guy a job, you give him a responsibility and you can't be looking over his shoulder. You've got to allow him to do the job if you are going to make him accountable. That's what I try to do."
It doesn't say much even if you do read between the lines, on second thought, but he didn't deny it. Hurray seeking confirmation of what I desperately want to be true despite scant evidence suggesting such!
This was said about Henne:
"All the areas, before the ball is snapped, I think he's completely comfortable with. He's got a lot of responsibility before the ball snaps and he's had enough experience and I think he does a great job with those issues. I think he's developing everyday as a leader. Physically, he's in the best shape of his life. I think he's quicker than he was a year ago, because he's more mature. And I think he's throwing the ball very well, so I think he's much improved over the year."
Hopefully it is true.
The captains also spoke to the media.
It never occurred to me to think the opening music of Michigan Replay strange. By the time I understood things like music and the 70s*, the Michigan Replay theme was so familiar I couldn't possibly evaluate it as anything other than what it was. It existed outside of time and context. I suppose I assumed that it had come from some discarded CD somewhere, its licensing fee a pittance to some obscure artist probably related to a member of the athletic department.
So it came as a shock to me when helpful reader Daniel Young -- now enshrined in the Reader Hall of Fame next to Penn State Guy Who Hates Me Guy and Guy Who Patiently Explains How To Spell "LeSueur" Whenever I Screw It Up Which Is Always Guy -- tracked down the entire, unedited song and emailed it to me. Strip away the state-of-the-art video highlight montage and listen to the blaring horns by their lonesome and like whoah. Cognitive dissonance, man. The Michigan Replay theme is funky. Not like white-boy funky. The kind of funk that alerts Orson to the presence of knee-buckling badonkadonk. Pam Grier funky.
Now that I've heard the thing in its natural habitat and arrived at the inescapable conclusion that it's more appropriate for "Blackula" or "Black Frankenstein" or, I dunno, "Black To The Future" than a couple of stodgy old crackers muttering about the latest football game, I can never go back. The incongruity is too much. Forever and anon the opening credits of Michigan Replay will cause girlish giggles unless we lose, in which case they will provoke nothing until my emotions re-engage sometime around Tuesday.
Here it is; the bits you might recognize kick in after about 35 seconds.
(You can download the file here; right click & "save as")
The reason the song is reminiscent of something Shaft could saunter to is simple: it's from an honest-to-god blaxploitation flick. As Mr. Young writes:
I've scoured the end credits on many occasions, but have yet to find any reference as to where the theme music comes from. Fortunately, I have a friend who's big into old school funk ... he was able to unearth the source of the Michigan Replay theme. It's a cut off the soundtrack to the 1972 blaxploitation flick Across 110th Street called (appropriately) "Across 110th Street Instrumental" by JJ Johnson & His Orchestra. How it ended up as the uncredited theme to Michigan Replay is anybody's guess (maybe Bo was big into funk back in the day).
I'm not sure if the instrumental is the same music as the identically-named title track that, according to Pop Matters, is part of the film's enduring cachet...
Like its cinematic compatriots, Shaft (1971), Trouble Man (1972), and Car Wash (1976), Across 110th Street owes much of its notoriety to a memorable theme song. Written by Bobby Womack and J.J. Johnson and performed by Womack, "Across 110th Street" is a majestic soul-funk classic in its radio incarnation -- perhaps appropriately, the film itself presents a more downbeat version over its opening credits -- and one of the best of that era's numerous musical chronicles of inner-city pain. (Womack's single has since received further exposure from its somewhat incongruous use in Quentin Tarantino's 1997 L.A. noir, Jackie Brown.)
...but I damn well hope so, because when you think "majestic soul-funk," you think Michigan Football.
I personally owe Mr. Young even a bit more, because listening to the MP3 over and over -- and over -- triggered that pulse-quickening realization that was late in coming this year: football. FOOTBALL.
Let's git it aawwwwwn.
*(As much as anyone can possibly understand an era when lime-green corduroys seemed like a good idea.)