[ED: been slightly crazy around here recently, so UFR delayed. Look for both halves tomorrow. Not that they'll tell you anything you didn't already know.]
continuing this week's theme
The response. Brandon on the emails:
"I don't read blogs so I think it's nonsense. … I'm here to get an award tonight, so I appreciate you showing up, but that's not why I'm here."
Would you describe this award as… major?
Also, from former CSG president Mike Proppe:
I've had multiple conversations with Dave Brandon. He has talked about @mgoblog before. So...yeah.
— Michael Proppe (@mikeproppe) October 29, 2014
Doesn't seem to be working. You know it's bad when the Alumni association publishes a piece titled "Alumni React to Lower Football Student Ticket Prices" and this is the nicest thing in it:
"If the students are not part of the Athletic tradition, then it becomes just a business and commercial venture."
It's nice because it says "if." Other choice excerpts:
"I come to Ann Arbor to remember the days that I lived there, that I went to games with friends, that I remembered cheering for MY team. If I wanted a corporate culture, I'd just go to an NFL game."
"The athletic department procedures have emptied the cupboard of alumni support over the last several years and it will take a significant change within the department to bolster the level of support and fervor that existed then."
"It's appalling that the students are the ones being seen as just one more "market" to be considered...without student support of the University, you will eventually lose alumni support."
The comments are another continual carpet-bombing, including this comment left by Steve Strinko:
Our 1974 Football team is being honored at Homecoming and we did get 1 complimentary ticket, however, I am bringing the allotted three guests at a cost of $75 per ticket. Seem crazy to pay $225 for my family to join me at this event. Oh well, the state of Michigan Athletics, or at least football.
Strinko was the starting MLB on the 1974 team.
This is from the alumni association! When you've lost the alumni association, who do you have left?
This was made a month ago. Sometimes marketing does help, because how did no one see this until 11W?
Ripped from the headlines.
— Ben Fidelman (@TMDFidelman) October 29, 2014
— Ben Fidelman (@TMDFidelman) October 29, 2014
Hope Brandon's taking this pass/fail.
It could have been much worse. In general, football games that feel like Michigan's latest outing aren't close. They are even less close than 35-11. Bill Connelly:
In the end, even with State's late touchdown, the final score of Michigan State 35, Michigan 11 was kind to the losing team. The Spartans doubled the Wolverines on a per-play basis (6.6 yards to 3.3) and more than doubled them up in total yardage (446 to 186). And the game was played at a snail's pace, too (125 total plays) -- even an average pace would have resulted in a Spartan win of 30-plus points.
Finally, a justification for being the slowest team in the country.
I… I can say nothing. Here is an Indiana blog talking about football, and landing body blows.
I, an Indiana football fan, feel bad for you.
Welcome to the Big Ten Underworld, Wolverine fans. The days are long, the nights are filled with six-touchdown losses to Ohio State, and one in every 5-7 seasons ends in a post-Christmas bowl in Detroit. Your program is now on a comparable level to a partly-incapacitated Indiana.
Well, at least I…
By my count, Diamont only kept it on a zone read one other time. Given the state of the quarterback position, I imagine Diamont was under fairly strict instructions to hand the ball off to Coleman early and often. Probably for the same reason, we also didn’t see Diamont running any speed option or QB draw. He looked mobile on a few rollouts and he did a decent job of running for his life when Sparty put him under pressure.
To sum it up, as we discussed last week, expecting anything out of Diamont in this game was unrealistic. If we define “expecting nothing” as expecting Diamont to account for zero yards rushing or passing, well…somehow Zander failed to meet expectations. In non-garbage time, Diamont threw for -2 yards and ran for –12. While the numbers are troubling, I was more concerned with the way he missed a number of somewhat simple throws. He missed all four of the 5-7-yard hitches/outs he attempted, and three of the four weren’t close. His two attempts to get the ball downfield to Wynn missed badly.
Punt John Punt, it's called. Never say I didn't do anything for you, Jamie.
THE SMOKING GUNNNNNN. I feel confident in asserting this gentleman has a beard, on his neck.
Something nice. Basketball will hold an open practice on Wednesday from 6 to 7. Not today. Next Wednesday.
A blast from the past. A USCHO poster has unearthed and scanned in a program from the 1983 Michigan Tech-Michigan series—the last time M traveled to Houghton.
Quite an artifact.
[HT: SBN CH]
You may not be doing this right. I've seen a few different message board threads stating that Doug Karsch said that he's talked to two sources in the Brandon camp who are "bracing for a change"—same language in multiple places, so I thought it was pretty legit. So I wander over to 97.1's podcasts page and find that the only item posted today is…
John Gasaway on offensive rebounding and how you shouldn't totally ignore it in favor of transition D. Michigan is classified as a team that "de-emphasizes" OREBs, FWIW, and is not exhorted to crash the glass. Northwestern is.
Tevin Coleman is terrifying. Indiana's quarterback situation sans injured starter Nate Sudfeld is, too, but for the Hoosiers, not opposing defenses.
I guess you can read on, but add in "they go fast" and there's your scouting report in a nutshell.
Personnel. The diagram, via Seth [click to embiggen]:
Quarterback Nate Sudfeld injured his shoulder early in the second quarter of the Iowa game; he's out for the year, and after true freshman Chris Covington struggled mightily in his stead—3/12, 31 yards, 2 INTs against the Hawkeyes—they lifted a redshirt off two-star true freshman Zander Diamont. Diamont couldn't do a thing the next week against Michigan State—5/15, 11 yards—but he's coming off a bye week and should be more prepared to at least provide a vague threat of the pass this weekend.
Spread, Pro-Style, or Hybrid? Very spread. I charted the first half of the Iowa game; the only Hoosier snap from under center came when they hurried to the line for a 4th-and-1 QB sneak.
Basketball on Grass or MANBALL? IU mostly runs zone blocking concepts, letting Tevin Coleman pick a gap and go hard upfield.
Hurry it up or grind it out? Ludicrous speed, though that might slow down a bit with a true freshman taking the snaps.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the breakdown.]
[ED: Hey guys! Ace is looking for a few good questions for a basketball season preview mailbag. Hit him up at [email protected].]
Meta-response about yesterday's post.
[ED: I normally hack out praise from these emails in an effort to be as concise as possible but it was not possible to do so here without making bronx sound like a jerk.]
I've been trying to think of a better way to ask this, but I can't so I'll just come out with it:
What is/was your goal with reporting about the Brandon emails?
Man, yeah, that comes across as condescending. Let me try to explain.
I'm not saying they shouldn't be given their due. and I respect the hell out of you and Ace putting in the effort to figure out their veracity; count me in the camp of people who doubted WD's initial post due to the inconsistencies in his story. Following through on the story and backing it up with multiple sources is the type of reporting you don't expect to see from a "fan" site, and yet you guys did better work than I've seen in a long time from more established media members in the community. Heck, it's basically you guys and the Daily kicking ass in that department.
But once the dust settles, how do you see this information positively or negatively affecting the program going forward? I've made my feelings known about Brandon and how, frankly, this really shouldn't accelerate his removal (I mean, if his handling of Gibbons, Morris, ticket prices, attendance, stadium experience, alumni relations, coaching snafus, losing, etc. doesn't do him in but bitchy emails do I'll be a bit disappointed in the administration for needing something so trivial to move them to action), but I honestly want to know your take. Do you think the fan's role in the turmoil surrounding the program, now being given a wider public forum by your site than in the past, will ultimately hurt its recovery going forward?
For example, you mentioned in your podcast that fans' habits can be broken quickly and it can take a generation to get them back. You and Ace seem to think that Brandon and Hoke coming back would lead to an exodus, but are you worried that the level of vitriol displayed by the fans already shows the pivot point already happened, and that everything from this point on is just piling on and driving even more fans away? Personally, I'm less and less excited to follow this team even this year because it is just a clown show made worse by the negative tone so many fans seem to hold toward it. My Facebook feed is full of people linking to articles calling for Hoke an co. to be booted (many to mgoblog), and lots of them were moderately-sane fans before the last couple of years. I'm not saying you and the site are to blame for any of it; you are just reporting and commenting on the shit show being trotted out every week. But do you think we'll look back in a couple of years and wonder if too much gas was thrown on the fire?
And again, I'm conflicted even asking this, because you guys have a duty to ferret out these idiots and bring them to the public's eye, and you do a great job at capturing the Michigan zeitgeist effectively. But there's just such a toxic culture around the program, and I wonder even if they get some homerun hires (which I'm a bit dubious about), if some of this damage will linger.
Anyway, feel free to respond however you want; if part of this makes its way into a mailbag or something then by all means out me and respond how you wish. I'm fine with it. I honestly just want to know.
I made a decision to let the original Have A Happy Life email stand—in fact I made a decision to re-instate it after one of the mods pulled it 200 comments deep—and from there things proceeded inexorably to yesterday's post.
I let it stand because I thought it was true.
[After THE JUMP: a full run-down of the decision to run with this story and evaluation about whether this was in error.]
You're going to see plenty on these pages about guys we think might coach at Michigan next year, since it's pretty much a sure thing at this point that Hoke will not. I thought it would be as good a time as any to build some sort of consensus of what we're looking for and how much of it we want relative to other factors. Other than, you know. "Jim Harbaugh."
Last week one of the diarists put together a matrix for evaluating the coaching candidates. I didn't like how he weighted the things, so at the time I put together a draft version of a more detailed "what we're looking for" system. I have since overhauled and updated it to be a more accurate reflection of my feelingsball:
The last five Michigan hires are given at the time of their selection to establish a baseline. Some things may seem wonky, like Bo being rather low, but remember his resume was that of an assistant (not coordinator) who'd been successful in the MAC. Some candidates in short:
|Category:||Jim Harbaugh||Dan Mullen||Gary P'son||Les Miles||Mike Gundy||Tom Herman||Bob Stitt||Pat Narduzzi|
|Success (25 max)||43*||24||23||42*||28*||12||12||12|
* I calculated success but maxed it out at 25, at which point the guy's proven he can coach.
We can change things around but I figured one matrix would be useful for our discussions going forward. At least it passes the eye exam. Kinda. I don't know how to make it stop rating Les Miles so high unless I need to raise the importance of long-term success.
Why the matrix?
Usefulness is in discussing the particular pros and cons of these guys in context, because things like "is he a culture fit" otherwise tend to outweigh "can he coach football." A brief explanation of my scoring system after the jump.
IT HAS BEGUN. Oh hell yes, we're already on FlightAware. Various people have pointed out that this plane went to a place two hours away from San Francisco and has done this several times over the last few months. Also they point out that Mississippi is not Tennessee. To them I say your petty "logic" and seeming "sanity" cannot stand in the way of an internet full of ludicrous hope.
God save this country if it ever can. FlightAware: love it or leave it. We have a song.
[Even though I'm pretty sure 95% of people who got on the Flight Aware bandwagon were joking: this particular flight has been thoroughly debunked by Sam Webb, who points out that's an alum's plane and he's got auto dealerships in the cities he flies to. This did not stop it from being on Around The Horn, because they got yammerin' to do.
Coaching search plane is not going to have a block M on it, I bet.]
ON HARBAUGH, AGAIN. Previous chatter here was an opinion from someone in the 49ers organization that Harbaugh was coming to the conclusion he might fit better in college long-term. I have a couple more infobits.
One is from the Michigan/AA side of things and indicates that he would be open to a return in the event of an AD change.
The second is intel from guys who work for another NFL franchise: it's well-known in the league that Harbaugh and the 49ers GM don't get along and that Harbaugh's relentless intensity wears on NFL players who expect to be treated like adults. This is not something you haven't heard from a half-dozen NFL reporters already.
These guys think Harbaugh will end up at Michigan, though, so that's interesting.
ON THE AD CHANGE. Support for Brandon at the regent level breaks down along party lines. I can't believe that would really matter—and of course in my opinion the only problem there is that anyone would support a man so toxic that he can cut student ticket prices 40% and still get bombarded with calls for his firing this weekend.
There are yet further suggestions that Brandon is fighting a rearguard action he's not likely to win.
Ross's about-face on Brandon is meaningful because Stephen Ross can always say nothing; if he doesn't return a phone call there is no article.
I can say that there are people in the department who think it's done, Brandon's out, and that this could become official by mid-November. Current chatter holds that one of the obvious Michigan-connected guys will be the pick as replacement, but I'd expect that would be the case until a serious search committee is formed and either includes or does not include potentially interesting non-M options.
ON HEELS AND THE DIGGING IN THEREOF. Brandon is going to go down swinging. They called another meeting, this one a mandatory one for all head coaches, about a week ago. A second-hand report from that meeting says after an apology about how it's not all about him, the upshot was the criticism was all "politically driven" and that the Board of Regents was after him because he's a Republican and there are upcoming elections. After that everything would die down.
Further, expect another letter of support organized by the department for the benefit of said regents. The email circulated to get this going indicates the level of organization here:
We wanted to keep this grassroots -- as it feels important to do so with the message of the letter. We did have a member of the leadership team and media relations take a look just to make sure there were no red flags.
You keep using that word, "grassroots." In any case, "employee publicly supports employer who hired them at high salary" is not news.
That should come out today or in the near future.
UT Rivals board as of late yesterday.
ON BUTCH JONES. The Tennessee rivals board blew up yesterday with speculation after one of their moderators confirmed that the ever-nebulous "representatives" had been in contact with Jones. That can mean anything at all, obviously.
Tennessee folks on twitter got the requisite denial-ish substance…
Butch Jones via @GoVols247: "I may have been born in Michigan, but I am from Tennessee. When you're a Vol you're a Vol For Life"
— Teran Johnson (@TeranJ_WUTK) October 28, 2014
"It's not even worth discussing," Jones said of the rumors. "No validity to it.
"I'm not going to waste your time or my time commenting on that."
I wouldn't put it at 0.00%, but things would have to go in some funny directions for Michigan to hire Jones after two years trying to rebuild the cratered Tennessee program without much to show for it.
I'd keep him on peripheral radar only.
Sources close to Miles indicate that given the Tigers talent level that they don't "think" Miles would entertain a return to his alma mater at this time.
Not much to go on there. I don't expect Michigan pursues Miles for a number of reasons, but impossible to say anything certain until we know which guy is running the search.
OTHER FOLKS' CHATTER. Steve Lorenz has a post up in which he suggests it's Boston College's Brad Bates who has his nose ahead($) in the still-hypothetical race to be the next AD, amongst various other interesting things. His read on the Harbaugh thing seem to be in harmony with my take: don't rule it out, don't assume it's happening.
An old-timey insider popped up on Rivals after a long, long hiatus when people cried out for his wisdom($). Verily, GFunk did descend from the mountain and say unto them that wheels were turning, there was probably a change in AD coming, and that if he had to guess at this point it would be Bates and Harbaugh.
Sam Webb posted a freebie with some encouraging items about Michigan moving up its timeline:
…there are high ranking donors that have voiced their feelings to Schlissel during meetings over the last few months. Now comes word that some donors are planning to speak with their checkbooks.
“(Schlissel) has been told that not another penny will be given until this is resolved,” a source told GoBlueWolverine on the condition of anonymity.
Exactly how many donors have delivered that message is unclear, but any impact outside of athletics will clearly be magnified. Especially since Michigan is in the midst of its “Victors for Michigan campaign” to raise 4 billion dollars to finance "student support, engaged learning, and bold ideas.” …
Before this latest barrage of negative feedback about Brandon the odds of the evaluation process lasting at least a month longer appeared pretty high. Now, especially with Ross’ announcement that he won’t serve as Brandon’s buffer, the opportunity for the timeline to be expedited is apparent.
Sam also adds a non-Michigan name to the pile of guys for next AD: Arizona AD Greg Byrne. Yes, the man who hired Rich Rodriguez. Byrne also hired Dan Mullen during his tenure as Mississippi State's AD from 2008-10.
Jack Miller, Yukon Cornelius, Amara Darboh
Jack, the offense didn’t score a whole lot but some people noticed the difference between last year against Michigan State and this year in terms of the offensive line holding its own. Was progress made there or does the frustration about not scoring that many points overwhelm that?
JM: “A little bit of both probably. There was some progress, especially when you compare it to the season before against Michigan State. We did a much better job picking up some of their blitzes, those type of things, and were able to move the line of scrimmage a little bit more than we did last year. Obviously the way it turned out kind of put a damper on it.”
With a record of 3-5 and just four games left to play how do the goals shift? How does the focus remain on just one game at a time? Also just kind of talk about the coaches message at this juncture in the season.
JM: “Being 3-5 it almost becomes easier to just take it one game at a time. When you’re winning you’re thinking of the big picture probably a little more. You’re thinking of what’s to come. When things aren’t going your way necessarily you buckle down and all you can really do is focus on the next game. That’s where we’re at. That’s the coaches’ message. That’s kind of been our approach throughout the season.”
BB: “Yeah, I’d agree with that. All of our focus has shifted to what’s in front of us: Indiana. The next game, that’s what we’re focused on.”
AD: “Yeah, both of those guys said it best. Just focused on Indiana right now and focused on practicing and trying to get better.”
Brennen, the way Michigan State was able to run the football…does that give an incentive to control an Indiana team that runs the ball also very well?
BB: “Yeah, they have a great back back there, their leading rusher. We definitely- we watched the State film and we’re going to have to learn from our mistakes. Definitely bring it in practice this week and be ready for that run.”
[More after THE JUMP]