TONIGHT! See you there, now with free food (enough for 50 people).
The MGoBlog equivalent of college football is the Diaries. Nobody there has been drafted to write what they're told. Nobody there gets paid to do it. You'll find legends like MCalibur and ST3 and Enjoy Life and Six Zero and bronxblue frequenting the same threads you do. This is a place where TRADITION means something, man. For those who are new to the extra content I'll use this week to introduce some of the regular things you find there:
The Six, by Mathlete: Okay sometimes we pay these guys under the table—what, you prefer we lose this guy to the SEC? Michigan's 7.0 points per red zone trip is ridiculous. Stray thought: if Michigan has the most effective guy ever at scoring from three yards out, does that change the math of going for two? Mathlete also had a LOT of dumb punts of the week to pick from (including two by MSU). Enos cowardly kicking a field goal after their false start didn't make the cut because it wasn't a punt.
Turnover Analysis, by Enjoy Life: This one is always short and important; he breaks down the turnovers for and against by situation so you can see how much they're really affecting the game, e.g. the arm-punt doesn't hurt as much as giving the opponent the ball inside your five yard line.
Cloud of Dustdate, by Daniel: The newest weekly will help us sort out the running backs. Charting the runs is a really nice touch. Maybe make 3rd and short and inside the 5 yard line runs red in the charts so we know when it's bulldozer time.
Trying a new series on the blog this year, kinda like picture pages but more focused on base concepts in Michigan's offense and defense, and how the skill level and talent of our players and our opponents' interact with that. If you're like "yeah, that's Picture Pages" well, yeah, sometimes, except usually PP is about showing you something specific while I'm really trying to show how all of these mad football skillz we talk about in recruiting translate into plays with a big outcome on the game. Since I'm still pretty new at this stuff I strongly appreciate criticism and comments. Anyway this week's play:
A very slow-developing play-action where Gardner is either very lazily getting into his drop or else doing a very good acting job of a lazy quarterback who handed it off already and is just going through the motions. Because Michigan was up 38-6 and Central's front seven were getting so pwned the safeties were being forced to sell out against the run, a play-action deep pass was so set up you can hear the announcers literally wondering aloud at the snap when it would come. Or should have been. Was it? On the fourth play of the drive (following a waggle, an Iso and a zone stretch), it comes.
[After the Jump]
Why is this thing back on top? First: logistics. Those in town tomorrow (Friday) evening are welcome to join us at MGoPatio, 312 Berkley Ave, Ann Arbor, MI for the first-ever MGoTailgate. All the MGoStaff (except Coach Brown) will be there, as well as Marlin Jackson and some other former Wolverines you remember. There is free beer from Wolverine State Brewing; they're bringing the Amber Lager. Festivities begin at 7pm, Marlin arriving at 8pm.
Parking is available on the SOUTH side of the street (opposite the house). Note that the street will be closed the following day for the game so don't leave your car there expecting a Jedi parking spot on Saturday.
Second, there will be a Raffle at this thing. Tickets are $5 and giveaways are a signed Lamar Woodley Steelers Throwback jersey, a mini Colts helmet with "Hart" and "Marlin" written on it by Marlin and Hart, plus some t-shirts and Adidas backpacks. And I think Marlin is bringing something else to hand out.
Second-Second: Expecting between 50-80 people. If it's more than 80 we'll have to start grilling people on Michigan trivia and turning away those who don't have the roster memorized. Don't think it'll be a problem given turnout in the past but just putting that out there.
Third-Second, the bolded guy has an announcement.
Dude I got you food.
You're going to ask if it's leftovers or something...
C'mon you act casual them I blow you away with the TRUTH. That's how this works.
I know but I am expecting big things now. What do you got?
And it is...
You're no fun. It's HOLIDAY'S!
That's...wait seriously? I LOVE THAT PLACE!!! Tell me you got the Tat-o-Skins.
I got the Tat-o-Skins!
Also the BBQ sliders and Quesadillas.
Dude, you are the best imaginary rhetorical narrative mechanism since the bolded subconscious that Plato was always arguing with.
I'll take that as a compliment.
[Details to be found in the original post after the...
That's MY JOB!
[Details after the Jump]
Back in the day, Brian Stouffer—yes, one of the puppet geniuses—and I had an annual GChat conversation that invariably took bizarre turns towards luchadores and sea mammals that incidentally discussed the looming game of the century of the week. I'm happy to report that we have resurrected this tradition, possibly made it even weirder.
Well, I guess we should start with the looming subplot everyone's been talking about all week: Jameis Winston.
Let's just talk the whole time about him.
I think we should also talk about how Mack Brown did not recruit him. I certainly hope Michigan's coaches check with each and every QB prospect they recruit about this.
"Son, does Mack Brown have any idea who you are?"
"We would like to offer you a scholarship, son."
"I have never played football."
I think I am literally the only human being alive who both did not get a scholarship offer from Mack Brown and did not become a megasuccessful quarterback.
Johnny Unitas, Vince Young, Barry Sanders, and John Flansburgh are amongst the many incredibly successful quarterbacks Mack Brown ignored.
I was in fact offered two scholarships to play quarterback at Texas.
That makes sense, since I saw you separate your shoulder throwing a ping pong ball at a tailgate a few years ago.
Right. Anyway. This is going to be over soon. How are you feeling about this?
This game or this chat?
I don't think we've got enough content for the chat yet.
I dunno, Courier New, 14 point, 2 inch margins. Let's turn it in and hit happy hour.
We can watch my DVD of the classic 1973 ND-Michigan game. Mark May said it was the best of the whole series.
The internet doesn't have margins. We'll have to soldier on, even if I want to fire up the 1968 classic in which Kirk Gibson hits a walk-off home run to send the game to a shootout.
Rob Ufert's call of Kork Gorbson's game-tying walk-off digeridomer was perhaps the best Michigan Manment of all time. Of all time!
Man I love imaginary games. Although I think we can all agree that the best one was the Christmas Day Notre Dame-USC game that the security guard at Nakatomi Plaza was watching.
All of our games are about to be imaginary. We'll have to hop on Google Chat in 2015 and say "I killed your quarterback" / "nuh-uh, he's got a force field" / "my defense has a force field disruptor" / "Well, my defense oversigns"—RECORD SCRATTTTTCH
"Well I'll be, your downfield throwing field-adjusted VORP is higher than ours. I concede you have the superior side. And nobody had to get hurt in the process!"
But hey isn't it better that we work out our differences with words instead of violence and tackling?
I think you know the answer to that is "hell no."
[AFTER THE JUMP: things cease being strange. lol jk]
FORMATION NOTES: Michigan played this one vanilla, opting for either their traditional 4-3 under…
…or a 4-2-5 nickel package…
Furman is offscreen on the right hash.
…with the occasional insertion of a 3-3-5 on passing downs. There was no okie stuff with seven guys at the line of scrimmage, and it was very rare to see a safety walk down. With the line ripping through Central's pass protection there was little need to do anything else. If Michigan could manage that against a tough opponent that would be nice.
SUBSTITUTION NOTES: ALL OF THE SUBSTITUTIONS
Right. Seth has already covered this in exacting detail. In brief: the secondary was consistent, with Furman and Wilson at safety and Taylor and Countess the starting corners. When Michigan went to the nickel, Stribling and Hollowell were about even, with Stribling getting the first at-bats.
Inside linebacker was split almost evenly between Morgan, Ross, and Bolden, with Gedeon getting some reps later and RJS right at the end. SAM was about 50/50 Beyer/Gordon, except that a lot of that was at DE in nickel packages.
Okay. The line. Okay. Your nominal starters were Heitzman, Washington, Black, and Clark, except there was so much nickel that the nose was lifted half the time. Wormley, Pipkins, Glasgow, and Ojemudia got a large amount of time backing up the starters. Godin, Ash, Henry, and Charlton got in later. Godin actually split snaps almost equally with the other two SDEs; at the other three spots the third guy was definitively third.
[After THE JUMP: rotation, rotation, rotation. Pass rush! Safety assessments!]
Hey kids. John's answered your questions in an extensive post below. I know his points hit close to home as we approach the last time Michigan Stadium will host Notre Dame for the foreseeable future. The book is Fourth and Long, and it's available now.
Is there a way of putting the genie back in the bottle, or have the aggressive, business-oriented strategies of highlighted in the book (and there are MANY instances therein) put Michigan on an irreversible, faulty trajectory?
[My question is in his estimation, where is that "tipping point" for Michigan, and what happens when we reach it?]
Great question, and one I’ve examined from as many angles as possible for this book. Really, for Michigan fans – and fans of college football generally – it is the central question.
Michigan happens to make a great case study, on two fronts: the loyalty of its fans, and the department’s profitably, both of which are virtually unequaled in college football.
First, the good news, from the book:
“Brandon’s style might not please everyone he deals with, but he delivers what he promises. Under Brandon, the department increased its operating surplus to $15.3 million in fiscal year 2012, 72 percent higher than the previous fiscal year. In 2012, the Michigan football team alone generated $61.6 million in profits, second only to the University of Texas, which has the considerable advantage of its exclusive twenty-year, $300 million TV deal with ESPN.
Brandon has delivered more than dollars, too. After hiring Brady Hoke in 2011, the Michigan football team beat Notre Dame on the last play of the Big House’s first night game, defeated Ohio State for the first time since 2003, and won a thrilling overtime game over eleventh-ranked Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl, Michigan’s first BCS bowl victory since a young man named Tom Brady beat Alabama in the January 1, 2000, Orange Bowl.
In the 2011–12 school year, the hockey team earned a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament; the men’s basketball team won a share of its first Big Ten title since 1986; and the following fall, Michigan’s other twenty-nine sports combined to run a close second behind Stanford, and ahead of such perennial all-sport powers as Texas and UCLA, in the Directors’ Cup, which Michigan has never won.
If the Michigan athletic department had issued a 2012 annual report to its shareholders, it would have been the shiniest publication in college sports, packed with enough good news to make the competition envious. By those measures, its creator could be considered an all-American athletic director.
The Wolverines are not alone in spending millions, of course, engaged as they are in an arms race with the Buckeyes and the Southeastern Conference that shows no signs of slowing down. In Brandon’s speeches to alumni clubs, service groups, and the press, he has been unabashed in laying out a simple equation: if you want titles, this is what it takes.
But it can come with some unexpected prices.”
One of them, of course, was the initial decision to leave the Marching Band in Ann Arbor for the Alabama game in Dallas – about which former band director Scott Boerma was willing to clarify several misconceptions in our interviews.
But the bigger price might be the disaffection of thousands of loyal fans, some of whom have dropped their tickets. At Michigan, as of this writing, those numbers don’t seem to be too great, and the Big House still attracts over 100,000 passionate fans each game. But just down the road at Penn State, whose fans are every bit as rabid as Michigan’s, driving an average of four hours to see their team play in State College, you can see the effects of squeezing your supporters too hard.
The scoreboard scroller at Penn State’s third game, against Navy, announced the game’s attendance at ninety-eight thousand. As I write: “This would have brought heartbreak to the Michigan crowd, which had never dipped below one hundred thousand since 1975. But the Lions’ six-year streak had already been broken at the opening game of the 2011 season, months before Sandusky was arrested, thanks to the overpricing of tickets through a misguided and ill-timed seat-license plan called the “Step Program.” This had caused attendance to drop by about three thousand a game in 2010, when the program was introduced, again in 2011, and would again in 2012.”
My sources tell me the trend is likely to continue in 2013, and this brings us to a central issue for meccas like Beaver Stadium, the Horseshoe and the Big House: faith. From the book:
College football fandom depends on the same force that buoys our nation’s currency: faith. Since the United States left the gold standard, the US dollar has value only because billions of people around the world think it does. When a critical mass of people stop thinking that, our dollars will be worth no more than Confederate scrip—without the eBay memorabilia value.
College football isn’t nearly as important, of course, nor as serious. But the ecosystem works the same way. Going to a football game at Michigan, Ohio State, or Penn State is great largely because over one hundred thousand people at each stadium think it is. If the sellouts stop and the empty seats increase, the fans start questioning why they’re paying such incredible fees for a “wow experience” that cannot attract a sellout.
One friend calculated that taking her husband and two kids to the games—without dinners or hotel rooms—costs about $500 per Saturday, more than a day at Disney World. And Mickey never loses or snows on you.
“Just because you can charge them more,” Bill Martin told me, “doesn’t mean you should. You’re not there to ring up the cash to the nth degree. It’s a nonprofit model!
“Look into how much is spent on marketing, then look at how effective it is,” he said. “Look at the increase in men’s basketball attendance this year,” he added. Michigan’s top-10 men’s team played twenty games at home, attracting capacity crowds of 12,693 for fifteen of those games, with only two under 10,000. “That would happen if you didn’t spend one penny on marketing. You don’t have to do marketing at Michigan. We have the fans. We have the support. We have a great reputation. All you have to do is win. If you win, they will come. You just need to make it as affordable as possible for your fans.”
For all these reasons, my friends—who developed what they thought were lifelong habits of attendance as kids—have found themselves in the last few years rarely going to the stadium anymore.
The straw man of the hour was Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon. Brandon talks a lot about “brand loyalty,” but that combines two words that, to a college football fan, aren’t related. College football fans are fiercely loyal, but their loyalty is to something they most definitely do not see as a brand, rather something much deeper. If Michigan football ever lost loyal fans like my friends in the living room, who were raised on Michigan football, could it win them back?
Clearly, Brandon was betting that the endless branding would keep them in the fold. And perhaps if not, other fans could replace them.”
Both those questions, I believe, will be answered in the near future. And they will be answered by you, the loyal fans, who will vote with your feet, and your credit card.
[After THE JUMP: is college football worth saving? Does Bill O'Brien want to strangle Tim Beckman? What does the U stand for?]