Mike Lantry, 1972
“We had two practices last weekend on Friday and Sunday. We’ll have seven practices starting tonight. Trying to juggle the times around finals and all those academic issues that guys have to work through, being a student athlete, so our hours are off the charts a little bit, but we’ll go tonight and we’ll go tomorrow morning, then we’ll go Monday night, Tuesday night, Wednesday night, Thursday, then Friday morning the guys will practice and then have a short break. We’ll meet down on the 28th in New Orleans. We’ll practice shortly after we arrive and get used to the facilities, the sites as far as practice-wise and start really game-planning full throttle on Monday, because coaches have been out. They’ve been running, lifting, doing all those things to try and stay in as much football shape as you can. I think last week the two practices had high energy, high tempo. Got to do a couple things with the young guys in scrimmage situations, do some tackling and blocking and those things.”
Any of the young guys catch your attention that you maybe haven’t talked about yet?
“You know, I think Chris Bryant is becoming a better guard, blocking and some of the power pulls and those kind of things. You know, those guys have been going on cards all year, so it’s a very scaled down defense and offense, so hopefully their reactions take over and their fundamentals and techniques that they’ve got take over.”
How physical is practice in terms of pads?
“It will be pretty physical Monday and Tuesday. Probably back it down a little down on Wednesday. We’ll be physical. We’ll be in pads of some sort either just shoulder pads and helmets or full pads. We’ll go shoulder pads and helmets tonight, full pads tomorrow, and then on Monday will be full. Tuesday will be full, and then Wednesday we’ll start backing it down. When we get into New Orleans, we’ll [have a] quick practice on whatever day it is, the 28th. We’ll go about 10 good periods and just really get them familiar with the locker room and the practice facilities and do some conditioning and run them a little bit, do some skelly, do a couple switch periods so we can refresh their memories on some of the things in the game plan.”
(more after the jump)
SUNDAY SUNDAY SUNDAY
SATURDAY SATURDAY SATURDAY
HANGING OUT AND TALKING ABOUT STUFF!
WITH JOHN BACON! WHO WILL BE SIGNING AND TALKING ABOUT STUFF!
RODRIGUEZ MAY BE DISCUSSED IF YOU INSIST UPON IT!
Two notable developments in the world of NCAA committee flerbydoo. One: schools without money say schools with money shouldn't give a small slice of that to their athletes.
The NCAA's plan to give athletes a $2,000 stipend may be in trouble.
The legislation, passed in October, now faces an override challenge at January's annual NCAA convention, a decision that could create an unusual discrepancy between recruits who have already signed national letters-of-intent and those who have not. …
Berst said 97 schools have signed onto the override measure, more than the 75 needed for the NCAA board to reconsider the stipend. If that number hits 125 by Dec. 26, the legislation would be suspended.
Two: schools without money say schools with money should give fewer scholarships out.
The NCAA's Resource Allocation Working Group, an offshoot of the summit conducted by NCAA president Mark Emmert last August, finalized a list of proposals that are designed to cut costs and to free up money for other areas within athletic departments.
The proposals include trimming the maximum number of scholarships for Football Bowl Subdivision programs from 85 to 80, for Football Championship Subdivision programs from 63 to 60, and women's basketball programs from 15 to 13.
What does Todd Graham think of this?
He likes it almost as much as he likes private jets, leaving schools after one year, and making his wife wear oriental rugs as blouses*.
Say what you want about the vast and overarching corruption of the NCAA and its conspiracy to alienate workers from the fruits of their labors, but at least the big schools, cognizant of that hypocrisy, tried to bridge a portion of the gap this year. The NJITs of the world are shooting it down despite the change being completely voluntary:
The board approved a measure allowing conferences to vote on providing up to $2,000 in spending money, or what the NCAA calls the full cost-of-attendance.
The legislation poses no financial burden on anyone who doesn't have the money. If that creates an unbalanced playing field, 1) no it doesn't since your training table is already rice and beans and 2) it damn well should.
Only someone as blinkered as USA Today's Christine Brennan—whose collected works should be entitled "TITLE IX TITLE IX TITLE IX"—could think voluntarily closing a gap between living expenses and scholarships is "unfair" because it doesn't let womens' athletics set more money on fire.
Title IX makes sense at institutions where no one is actually making money for the school. It ceases to do so at places where college athletics becomes a massive transfer scheme from statistically poor basketball and football players to statistically wealthy (and, in the case of women, increasingly overrepresented) non-revenue athletes who can afford tennis lessons and whatnot.
It is incoherent to have these two groups under one roof. There's a fundamental divide between schools that are unprofitable by choice and those that are inherently so, a fundamental divide between schools where mens' basketball and football players have economic value only the schools are realizing and those where every athlete is a net expense. Before you condemn the big ones, realize that it's the small ones and their futile attempt to maintain a "level playing field" that is preventing larger schools from making even token moves towards a fairer system.
It's probably time for another split, or at least serious saber-rattling from the schools that drive the revenue the NCAA subsists on. The remoras at the bottom of the D-I pool need to be reminded who the sharks are.
*[Congratulations, Arizona State. You've hired a guy who just displaced Bobby Petrino as the go-to-reference for skeezy mercenary coaches. I know you can't pass up a guy who took Pitt from 7-5 to 6-6 that quickly, but… actually, maybe you can.]
Ugh what's that on the right? Is that…real? Is that blue pants? Is that the international nautical sign for the letter J on our sleeves? Naw, it's a reply by Ghost of Bo in a Diary of the Week by the same Ghost of Bo, a scathing, front-paged parody of Dave Brandon's quest to create the future. Apparently the future means M's and internet memes on everything. Like Taylor Lewan down the path of the Jake Long Experience, Michigan is still 100% on track for the future envisioned two years ago by The Shredder.
The future does not stop at scoreboards, boxes, burro-bashing left tackles, and uniforms; it goes all the way to the upper lips of every fan. This as well began in the way back of 2009, when an enterprising young man named Pat, on advice from a group of fans dedicated to putting cookie dusters back upon the labia sebucula* of all Michigan men, flipped on a video camera and filmed M fans tailgating. Thus began the legend of Pre-Game Pat. Some (I'm guessing MGoreader) interviewed him for English class and Pat posted the text of the interview as a diary.
*I spent '09 trying to get [Mets 3rd baseman] David Wright to grow a mustache, hence the expansive vocabulary for lip whiskers, soup strainers, crumb catchers, lady ticklers, nose bugs, pushbrooms, mobile tea strainers, and the "Tiller Toothbrush."
In the Etc. section, MiS is keeping the candle burning on Upset Watch through these dark December weeks by previewing the bowl games. Ohio is playing Utah State in Boise, which didn't Ohio get in trouble for scamming the NCAA or something? Oh wait, that's the Ohio with nine wins this year. Oooh sorry. AceUofMer is back to covering Michigan wrestling. MGoBlog Mcrecruiting analyst Ace McAnbender interviewed WR/DB Marcus McWilson, another 2013 recruit with kind of a funny name. Nothing Mc about his game though. The #8 Wolverines faced unranked Wisconsin and avoided the upset only because the bottom of the order stepped up. And finally Section 1 is mad that Bacon had his speaking engagement canceled with U-M Club Detroit, presumably because..oh hell you know why and Bacon knows why; what we don't know is why all the superfluous equine flagellation? Don't answer that.
Best of the Board (Much Better Than the Diaries This Week Anyway)
PHOTOBOMBING, or PHOTOBROPPING, or HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE THE BROMB
So at the hockey game a few weeks ago some dude went to go get his picture taken with this year's edition of FSD's official attractive females of the species and got, well, another member of the species. Then you did this. In answer to Papa Kass, that was posted noon Friday and I write DDs on Thursday nights so the Photobomb counts as this week.
VOTE FOR ME, I'M CRAIG JAMES BIATCH!
I once took a business trip to Dallas during election season. This is how I learned that in Texas wearing a cowboy hat means you are running for office. If you're really serious you'll have a ranch or a slaughterhouse in the background. So guess who's gettin' his cowboy hat on!
On this here blog we have a strict policy of No Politics. So if the good people of Texas do the right thing, this may be the last time we ever have to talk about Craig James. That means never again having to debunk those nasty and completely false rumors about how Craig James killed five hookers while at SMU.
CAN YOU NAME THAT GAME?
I like this new challenge, posted by Yost Ghost earlier this week. The answer's in the thread but it's more fun to try to figure it out for yourself. If that one's too hard, here's some in-stadium shots from a recent home game that's a bit easier to identify.
PROJECTING CURRENT M PLAYERS IN THE NFL
SalvatoreQuattro asks who's the best pro prospect on the team? I bet every blog has this thread pop up a few times a year, and like those threads we think our guys are all about two rounds better than the NFL probably will. Ours however comes with snide asides about the owner of that NFL team with the terrible name.
"If Dan Snyder had a nickel for each time he got challenged to a karate match, he'd be... well... even more of a rich asshole."
NEWSFLASH: OHIO STATE SAYS OHIO STATE ISN'T IN TROUBLE AT ALL
Some folks this week were a little surprised when soon-to-be-Buckeye-again Bri'onte Dunn tweeted that Urban assured him there's no more sanctions coming down the line.
Could it be true? Is it possible that the NCAA is so arbitrary/blind/stupid/incompetent that the stonewalling tactics of Ohio State actually worked? Is it even within the realm of possibility that the net result of practicegate ends up tangibly twice as damaging as 10 years of blatant violations involving everyone up to the president because Michigan made the spectacularly bad decision to fully cooperate and accept responsibility? Did the league really throw up its hands the minute their best witness got in whatever car Gee's buddy was currently lending him and drove it straight to the NFL?
Does Urban know something we don't? Well where do you think Meyer's getting it from? He's getting it from Smith, who thinks this whole thing should have been a two-game suspension for Tress. Or he's getting it from Gee, who is sure Ohio State has done nothing wrong because he didn't know, understand?
This is a way better defense than “We own the mistakes we have made,” or "We're sorry we accidentally practiced too much because nobody knows what counts as stretching; here's an exhaustive report on everything ever along with our recommendation for tangible, practical punishments that double in damages the benefits over our competition that we didn't receive." This response netted Michigan three years of probation (NCAA tacked on the third under its "always add something to show we're hard asses" policy) and 130 hours of lost practice time, not to mention a lifetime of having to explain NCAA's definition of "major violations" to stupid people.
Now watch a pro work:
People: Mr. Gee, if everything was the fault of Jim Tressell and firing him was your sole act of contrition, why was he invited back to talk to (i.e. coach) the team before the Michigan game?
Gee: It's cool guy, because, see, I didn't know about it. It was the players who wanted it (thanks uncle of UMxWolverines!).
Now look at the results. Gee deserves a raise. Oh wait, he just got one.
NEWSFLASH: MICHIGAN STADIUM HAS LOTS OF FANS IN IT
The 2011 attendance figures are out and this time we are very happy they don't count the 4th quarter of the WMU game. Unsurprisingly Michigan Stadium can fit a lot of people; we led the nation with 112,000 in attendance per. That's 102% capacity. TCU had 112% capacity. Considering a stadium at 102% capacity feels a lot like an elevator at 200% capacity, I'm kind of glad I'm not a Horned Frog right now. It's not even a frog; it's a lizard.
FERGODSAKES T-SHIRTS SELLING LIKE HOT CAKES NORTH OF OHIO
We had a question from one JeremyB about why he can't get him some "Michigan Fergodsakes" t-shirts. Good news Jeremy, you can get these babies in the MGoStore, minus the "MICHIGAN" part because copyright and what what. I was looking on the store this morning (it's just a few clicks away) and sales of shirts like these have gone way up recently. I think it's because Hoke has changed the tide on the rivalry. Hell people in Ohio are starting to order these shirts. Never in a million years I would have thought that. Selling Fergodsakes jerseys is a good start.
LET'S TAKE A THREAD TO APPRECIATE HEININGER
BACK THE F OFF OUR GUYS MEYER/MUSCHAMP
Florida fans imagine they can poach Borges. Ohio State fans imagine they can poach Kalis. The proper response is to laugh in the face of such people until their eyes fill with the sudden realization of the utter lack of value in their existence, then angrily insist they remove their worthless subhuman forms from your presence, preferably following that with an act that is anatomically impossible. I do not know if that's how it went down, but you should know Urban isn't recruiting Kalis anymore and Borges isn't going anywhere. Would that we could say the same to people (probably Sparties) who want to move The Game to October.
SOMETHING FUNNY THIS WAY COMES
Six Zero posted the logo…and that's it. The new MGoComic strip starts Jan. 1. You're a tease, Six. A total tease.
HOW DO WE SAY HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM HOKE, DENARD, BORGES, MATTISON, AND LLOYD BRADY?
Like ah This:
With apologies to Black Heart Gold Pants. And all of you.
This space has remarked on how deeply uncomfortable linebackers coach Mark Smith appears in all photos before. In this he is the opposite of Tim Hardaway's photogenic appeal.
This here is a Mark Smith keeper from Michigan's latest trip to Colerain:
Unfrozen Caveman Position Coach is confused and frightened by this camera business
Colerain is LB commit Joe Bolden's school, FWIW. I like to think his recruitment went like this:
Ladies and gentlemen of the Bolden family, I'm just a caveman. I don't know much about this modern world of yours, but I do know how to hunt and eat wild game. As your position coach I will teach you to hunt and eat the king of game: man. Did you know man is the sweetest of all mea—
Well… what Mark's trying to say is that Michigan's unmatched tradition and the superior technique coaching you will receive make Ann Arbor the best place for you. He is not talking about killing and eating your opposition, except—and I want to make this explicitly clear—in a metaphorical sense.
I am 100% sincere about eating the still-beating hearts of opposing running backs.
[two hours later, just outside of Dayton.]
Two pretty much unrelated things in one post. I blame everything.
Vince Young; Garrett Gilbert
A Braves and Birds post on the recent downfalls of Texas and Florida spurred responses from Blutarsky and Smart Football about the role of various schemes as your talent level waxes and wanes. The B&B theory:
…we can criticize [Texas] for not learning the lesson of the Vince Young era. Apparently, the lesson that Brown took was “recruit five-star quarterbacks from Texas,” when he should have concluded “recruit quarterbacks who can run.” In short, Texas was seduced by the prospect of a local five-star pocket passer and shifted their offense away from what worked for them when they were upsetting USC in the game of the decade.*
One can look at Florida and see the same mistake. Urban Meyer has always won with mobile quarterbacks. … Nevertheless, Meyer was seduced by the same siren that causes Mack Brown to jump off the deck of his ship and swim to his doom. He had a five-star pocket passer – John Brantley – living one hour from campus, so Meyer committed his post-Tebow Gators to Brantley. Meanwhile, Meyer did not offer Denard Robinson a chance to play quarterback in Gainesville.
Brantley and Gilbert imploded, the team went with them, and the guys coordinating them left. Michael goes on to say this is a "cautionary tale" for Brady Hoke, whose most successful prior year was with Nate Davis. Davis is claimed to be mobile.
I'm not in agreement with his police work there. Hoke's offensive coordinator at Ball State was Stan Parrish, not Al Borges, and dubbing Nate Davis "mobile" is stretching the term. Davis averaged 3.7 non-sack carries per game in 2008, i.e. he had some scrambles and QB draws. For his part, Borges had great success with statue Ryan Lindley* (-57 rushing yards this year) at SDSU, Davis-ish scrambler Cade McNown (a couple hundred yards per year) at UCLA, and only-secretly-athletic Jason Campbell (30 rushing yards in 2004) at Auburn.
Michigan's long-term trajectory on offense should not expose them to the same problems Texas and Florida experienced. Hoke is a defensive guy who famously goes sans headset and Borges's successes have come with throwers at QB. That some of the throwers have been able to move a little doesn't make a difference. The offense is still not predicated on the QB's legs; instead the legs are a bonus that keeps some plays alive and gets you some yards on scrambles. In Michigan's case they are moving towards their OC's expertise, not away from it. (At least insofar as Greg Davis had any expertise. He and GERG should start a cover band.)
Variance: super teams hate it.
After passing through Get The Picture's digestive system the above post spurred Smart Football to offer some thoughts on the difference between a pro-style offense that is intent on putting up points and one that's intent on not blowing it:
For the truly elite-level recruiting teams, I think the agnosticism of pro-style treats them well because they basically recruit incredible players and then figure out the system and scheme later. Moreover, spread offenses, option offenses, and really any pass-first offense (including West Coast attacks of which I’d put Georgia in the category) require very good quarterback play. Alabama and LSU are basically designed to win in spite of their quarterbacks; Nick Saban does not want to return an all world defense with a bunch of five-star playmakers and lose because his QB was a junior and had some “growing pains”, which absolutely happens at every level. …
For everyone else having an identity and being somewhat contrarian helps a lot because it allows you to focus your recruiting on guys that can help you, and in many cases it means you don’t have to compete with some other teams for those guys. … Moreover, because you have a system with specific skills required, you can develop those skills. There are many examples, but think about how those Texas Tech teams under Leach always had four guys who could contribute and were open, even against the best Big 12 teams, because they’d worked on those skills every day for two years before they got in the game and had countless reps.
The former is what Ohio State did for years under Tressel, managing games with Krenzel and Boeckman and Zwick and Belissari and even most of the time with Troy Smith and Terrelle Pryor. They massaged enough safe points out of their offense to let the reliably crushing D win games. Sometimes—usually against Michigan—they went full-throttle. This happened when they feared the opponent more than variance.
The latter is why hiring Paul Johnson was a good idea for Georgia Tech but would be a bad one for Georgia, why Leach is a great hire at Washington State, and how Rodriguez made West Virginia into a power with rag-tag recruiting classes and some duct tape.
Michigan was in the former camp, but after Bo they accomplished their goals less successfully than OSU. This goes back to the Mo era, when Michigan would show up for the game with three or four losses and inexplicably beat—often thump—John Cooper's national title contenders. To me, Michigan-OSU in the 90s will forever be a fourth quarter exchange between some ranting Buckeye fan and a snot-nosed teen version of yrs truly:
MAN ADVERTISING BEER ON HAT: You have four losses! We're ranked in the top five! We're a national title contender!
FUTURE BLOGGER: You were.
That was fun as far as it went but playing spoiler ain't no way to live. For Michigan to not be a second banana in the league they either had to
- recruit and execute better
- get an identity that allowed them to perform better than their recruiting rankings
Rodriguez was an attempt to do the latter. Hoke is an attempt to do the former, or at least he seems like it. Borges is a wildcard. Maybe he's content to ramp his offense down into Tressel/Lloydball territory once the defense is truly locked in, but maybe Michigan will morph into a team with an identity on offense, even if that identity is the Boise State and Stanford have used lately.
When to put the toys in the box
There is a point at which it makes sense to trundle through games as safely as possible. That point is when you have the LSU/Alabama/OSU massive talent advantage over all comers. If Hoke's recruiting continues at the level it has, Michigan may achieve that. More realistically, a lack of oversigning and/or culture of rampant barely-punished extra benefits will leave them short of that, leave them in the same 8-10 range they usually inhabited under Carr.
That will mean they'll have to have something to rely on on offense other than don't-screw-it-up-ball if they're going to be nationally relevant more often than they have been in the past 20 years.
The early returns here are inconclusive since Borges is biding his time with Denard while recruiting Shane Morris. But they are encouraging, both when it comes to Hoke's game theory aggression and Borges's tendency to keep the pedal depressed when it makes sense to. Buried deep in his own territory up 17 against a Nebraska team that has struggled to move the ball, he'll run-run-punt; staked to a three point lead against Ohio State second down is for moving chains.
*[Lindley's implosion this year—he's now 80th in passer rating—suggests Borges is a plus playcaller/schemer. SDSU returned much of their offensive line and has Ronnie Hillman; while their WR situation was bound to drag the numbers down it shouldn't have been that severe.]