this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
Hi. I would have packed this into yesterday's UV but internet problems + rehab equaled no. So here's the other stuff.
Local news, 1986. Wolverine Historian digs up a gem:
Five dollar parking and the hair, man. The hair. Check out the defector at around 2 minutes. We need a clip of that guy.
Position clarity and dang. In an interview with Touch the Banner, James Ross says he'll start off at the weakside linebacker spot. With Bolden ticketed for the center, I'm guessing Royce Jenkins-Stone is eventually slid to SAM. Where Kaleb Ringer goes is also probably in the middle.
I played hockey for a long time, and just being in that fast-paced environment helped, being able to see things. Hockey is really fast; you have to be able to move, and I think that really translates well to the football field.
Ross is 6'1", 225, and fast. If he could skate at all he would have been a crunching bodycheck factory had he stuck with the hockey. Video at TTB suggests he could not skate much as of early high school, but leave me to my lethal bodycheck fantasies.
More playoff stuff. I can't find this [freep] anywhere else, nor does this have a direct quote, but um… as far as reason not to have campus playoffs go this is even better than Bill Hancock's:
[Dave] Brandon understands the advantage a Big Ten team would gain from a playoff game on its campus but also realizes it’s not fair for schools across the country to play in the cold weather. Brandon also said he polled U-M players, who said they like to go to warm-weather bowl sites.
It's not fair. My brain stopped working. This is where I say something snarky or something about how this is not a good argument. I can't. Logic has been suspended. Get The Picture:
And just to show you how absurd this gets, rather than stand his ground on the more fan-friendly on-campus sites, Michigan State’s athletic director hopes instead that the NCAA will help families pay for the travel expense of going to an additional postseason game.
I give up. The rest of this column will be written by my wife's cat.
THE LARGE HAIRY ONE SAYS THIS NEXT. You're probably expecting this to be in hilarious broken English lolcatese. Typical. I quit.
I do say this is next. Cats: cannot get them to do anything. Anyway, blogosphere old timers may remember Vijay, who ran one of the ur-blogs back in the day. He still hangs out on some message boards and put together a picture of the distance traveled by fans to get to bowl sites last year:
Avg distance traveled for the bowl
Big 10: 1261
Pac 10: 775
Big XII: 701
Big 10 travels MUCH further than anyone else. SEC travels much less. No surprise.
Avg miles differential (how far a team had to travel, compared to their opponent: + = traveling further)
Big 10: +812
Big XII: -137
Pac 10: -470
Big 10 is the only major conference that is generally playing further from home than their opponents.
# of games within 500 miles of home
Big 10: 1/10
Big XII: 3/8
Pac 10: 3/7
EVERY SINGLE SEC TEAM played within 500 miles of home.
Guess which SEC team was the only one to travel further for their bowl than their opponent. Answer below.
Meanwhile, every single Big 10 team traveled further than their opponent. Even Purdue, which got to play in Michigan, ended up playing Western Michigan.
Trivia answer: Alabama, who played LSU in New Orleans.
Use of the word fair in relation to this makes me want to wear around a horse. I'll say "I'm actually a slide rule, call me the King of Albania." I'll wear a sock on my hand I call Prince Knight who speaks only in riddles. His only riddle is "how are these people in charge?"
The cat does not find this amusing. I'm going to shake him until he does.
HELP I'M STUCK IN BLADERUNNER
ALSO BONUS BONUS BONUS BONUS. Uniform hijinks are going to be an annual thing now From the above-linked article.
He discussed the heightened attention on U-M's jerseys, particularly in football. He said the school might have done too much with changing them last season and plans to quiet the speculation this fall by having a single rollout of all the game jerseys they’ll wear throughout the season. He said coaches, players and recruits enjoy variety.
"School" should be read as "Dave Brandon" and "speculation" should be read as "lack of speculation."
So at least there won't be any horrible, horrible surprises this year, and five different outfits seems off the table. Regular alternate whatnots are here to stay. Embrace it. I want wings on the pants. And the jerseys. I want a uniform that's just one giant wing. Like, when the offense lines up the unit should look like one winged helmet. With claws!
A note on something that happened last week. You know that child-porn-havin' OSU-recruit-creepin' twitter guy from last week? One: if you asked me to draw a composite of all OSU fans it would be him. Two: when you are in photos, keep your head straight.
WHY DOESN'T YOUR NECK WORK, MEDIAN OF ALL OHIO STATE FANS EMBODIED?
Seriously, you should get that checked out or something. Also, thank you for existing.
Better at being in photos than OSU median guy. Jehu Chesson on the track:
Head: straight up and down.
Chesson won the 300 M hurdles at a regionals meet and is working on his 110M skills.
it is pretty nice.
Read between the lines on other athletic directors' remarkably malleable opinions to find out where the wind is blowing on the idea of playing home games in the first round of the playoffs:
Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis told the Lansing State-Journal that a plan to hold the coming four-team playoff semifinals on campus sites -- one most prominently supported by none other than Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany -- was no longer on the BCS negotiating table. He said that maintaining the value of the Rose Bowl, however, was "critical."
Those sentiments were echoed by Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith, who said that his opinion had "shifted" on the idea of playing the semifinals at bowl venues rather than on-campus sites, with the Rose Bowl presumably one of those two semifinal hosts. He added that the rest of the league's A.D.'s had been similarly convinced.
Likewise, Nebraska's Tom Osborne left no doubt as to where his opinions stood:
Neb's Osborne: If you play semis outside bowls, "it would pretty much destroy the bowl system." [ED: And?]
Three athletic directors saying that home games were a bad idea within minutes of each other means the idea is dead and the public relations people are getting in some horse-beatin' time to save face. Who knows whether the three guys above really believe what they're saying about how critical the Rose Bowl is? Not us. Maybe not even them. Damn you, Don Draper.
End result: the Rose Bowl will be better-preserved than it has been recently—almost entirely preserved. If you'd like to see your team try to win a national title you're going to have a ton of frequent flier miles, with which you can go… see more games thousands of miles from you. It's a win-win. Also think of the economy.
It's just a flesh wound
No, really, it's just a flesh wound.
It may be time to shoot the Rose Bowl in the head, and by "shoot it in the head" I mean "barely do anything to it at all." A four-team playoff would not have seriously affected the attractiveness of the Rose Bowl in the past decade relative to the current system.
The following bullets look at the results if the playoff expanded to four and you either took the top four teams in the BCS standings or used the top-six champs-autobid structure:
- 2011: Wisconsin-Oregon is unchanged (or becomes Wisconsin-Stanford if a hypothetical committee reasonably picks the Ducks over Stanford).
- 2010: Wisconsin-TCU turns into… hard to tell. If conference champs get priority and Wisconsin gets sucked into the playoff, you get OSU-Stanford, a #4-#6 matchup. If Stanford gets in as the #4 team in the BCS standings, you get Wisconsin and 8-5 USC, if USC wasn't banned. So either very little damage or a ton of damage; Rose Bowl might pivot and pick some other team instead of going deep down the rabbit hole.
- 2009: OSU-Oregon is unchanged.
- 2008: USC-Penn State unchanged.
- 2007: USC-Illinois unchanged.
- 2006: Michigan either gets into the playoff or gets booted by the conference champs rule by USC(#5) and Louisville(#6)—fume city, baby! If they're in, Rose Bowl is USC-Wisconsin. UW was 11-1 that year. If they're out, it's Michigan-Cal (9-3). Damage: there, but not huge.
- 2005: Rose Bowl was famous USC-Texas NC game. PSU and OSU were #3 and #4, So either OSU gets booted for SEC champ Georgia (#7. so no) or gets in. If they get in, next option is 9-3 Wisconsin. 10-2 Oregon gets the Pac-10 bid.
- 2004: Michigan-Texas becomes either Michigan-Utah (Utah was 11-0 and #6, but not playing in the Pac-10) or Michigan-Cal. Cal was 10-1 with only a loss to rampant USC.
- 2003: Michigan and USC get in the playoff. Rose becomes #5 OSU vs 9-3 WSU. This one is pretty bad.
- 2002: WSU-Oklahoma turns into what it always should have been: WSU-Iowa. This was the year Iowa ended up in the Orange Bowl because of dumb BCS selection procedures.
In those ten years you have six where there is no change, an insignificant one (2011, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2004, 2002), or an improvement. We've created a Rose Bowl from nothing for 2005, one which is a little lame. 2006 is either little damage or moderate. 2010 is either a push or very, very bad. Bad to the point where you'd have to have some provision to prevent an 8-5 team from playing in the Rose Bowl. 2003 is admittedly a major downgrade.
So there is damage. I'm not sure how the powers that be perceive a Rose Bowl in which #2 OSU plays #3 Georgia in a national semi. Is that damage? It is not the hallowed Big Ten-Pac 12 matchup.
Let's say that's not damage and the Rose Bowl will be a series of traditional matchups with the occasional weird-but-very-good interloper. Is the above damage something that would cause you to reject the concept of on-campus semifinals? The Rose Bowl would become a consolation prize. Rather, it would stay a consolation prize, which is what it's been for almost every year of the BCS's existence. Has that hurt it? A bit. Much? No.
I find it hard to believe the Big Ten power brokers would look at the above and come back white as a sheet at the prospects of the future. Dan Wetzel annihilated the thought process that results in the quotes above in his column…
[The Rose Bowl is so] critical that they're willing to make business decisions based on emotion, willing to give up on competitive advantages, logistical ease and monetary benefits.
Possible home-field advantage for Big Ten teams? We love the Rose Bowl.
Making the elements, which Big Ten teams are presumably better equipped to handle, a factor in the playoffs? We love the Rose Bowl.
Showcasing the incredible game-day environment of Camp Randall, Happy Valley or the Big House? We love the Rose Bowl.
Not requiring fans, students and players' families to continue to make lengthy postseason trips? We love the Rose Bowl.
Creating economic impact in the league's hometowns? We love the Rose Bowl.
Not taking discretionary spending out of the region and into California or Florida? We love the Rose Bowl.
…and he's right. Here's another opportunity to point at the Big Ten's lack of will to power relative to the SEC, Texas, and, increasingly, the Pac-12. That or they just got outvoted and are trying to make it look good.
Either way, an argument about the bowl system has featured arguments hastily assembled to pretend something that makes no sense in fact does. Tradition!
Hey, kids! Death to Comcast! No internet until just now today and my backup plan wasn't working. Apologies. Anyway:
Maybe you can do it after all? Luke Winn is my favorite college basketball writer for pieces like the one he just published on three-point defense. Inspired by Ken Pomeroy's repeated assertions that three-point defense is random* and that you should therefore try to reduce the number of threes opponents get off, Winn looks at the problem in more detail, finding a couple of notable exceptions:
After writing a story on the Pack-Line Defense -- a packed-in, help-oriented man-to-man that Dick Bennett first used at Wisconsin-Green Bay in the mid-1990s -- I couldn't help but notice that three teams running pure Pack-Line this season were among the leaders in three-point field-goal D: Arizona, which ranked third nationally at 28.5 percent; Virginia, which was sixth at 28.9 percent; and Xavier, which was 22nd at 30.5 percent. Meanwhile, two teams that seemed to encourage opponents to take threes, Florida State and Syracuse, also managed to rank in the top 50 in defensive three-point percentage and were top-20 overall defenses in efficiency.
Syracuse in particular demonstrates that three-point defense probably exists in a meaningful way. In the ten years Kenpom has data for Syracuse has finished 8th (out of about 350), 6th, 63rd, 129th, 63rd, 185th, 8th, 22nd, 29th, and 47th in defending three pointers. That's one or two mediocre years, three good years, and five outstanding years. Clearly there's a lot more variance in three pointers**, but you can defend them. There may be a price (Syracuse, unbelievably, was 341 of 345 in defensive rebounding while being 33rd in offensive rebounding), but you can do it.
Also, this is why you are right to pull out your hair at Tim Hardaway long twos:
If you don't think the long twos-vs.-threes argument is important, consider this: While Wisconsin held its opponents to just 0.807 points per possession on three-point attempts -- an amazingly efficient rate -- it allowed just 0.628 PPP on long twos. There's a reason Ryan charts and cherishes the two-point jumpers UW forces outside the paint. The odds on getting beat from that area are miniscule.
Long twos are the worst shot in basketball, and you can get them with 25 seconds on the shot clock because teams don't care if you take them. If there's ten seconds left, sure, go for it. Eschewing the offense in favor of The Worst Shot In Basketball makes Brian crazy.
*[If you look at shooting percentages from the first half to the second half of a season, there is almost no correlation. I think this might be a sample size issue.]
**[Variance for the statistically disinclined: imagine the difference in variability in 50-point 30-foot Rock 'n' Jock baskets versus dunks.]
Feel the love for the system. The Insight Bowl is no longer going to be named after some sort of computer company I think or an abstract concept. They made the mistake of asking the twitter what the twitter thought they might rename it to. If this feels like a softball covered in butter, yeah:
The Tempe Municipal Government Cheddar's Casual Cafe' Quality Food & Service Bowl, at Sun Devil Stadium #NameTheGame
i want a bowl game called the Horrybowl. someone ask Robert Horry if he's interested in starting a liability-only car insurance company.
Jason Kirk's list of suggestions has some excellent candidates:
Molybdenum Ore Bowl
Insane Maricopa County Sheriff Bowl
P.F. Chang's Rock 'n' Roll Arizona Marathon & 1/2 Marathon Bowl
Erosion of public support due to shameless profit-seeking, etc etc etc. This is definitely a meaningful indicator of bowls' public face and not just the internet snarking on stuff.
Basically. Via Ira at WTKA, former Alaska-Anchorage player Justin Bourne responds to a piece on the superiority of the major junior route:
As someone quickly approaching their 30th birthday thinking about what I’d do if I were a young player now deciding between the two, I can’t help but think: I’d have to be awfully damn good to choose major junior hockey over college. It’s not taking anything away from those who choose to go the CHL route, it’s just that one way seems a little more all-or-nothing than the other. Both seem like flying down the highway on a motorcycle, but one affords you a helmet. …
Nobody can say for certain what’s the best route – each player has a different set of developmental needs, and each league fulfills those differently.
But for those who could use a little more time to develop and miiiigghht just want to hedge their bets on the future with an education, college hockey is the way to go.
That's about right. If you're not going to be in the top two rounds, junior is a gamble on a longshot when there's a less risky route that doesn't require you to give up the gamble, or even seem to hurt your chances much. Given the NHL hit rate of secound-rounders, you could argue that even those folks would be making a better decision to go to college.
Unless you just don't want even the tenuous amount of schooling you have to go through to be in college these days, the best argument in favor of the CHL is usually "they offered me money." If so, fair enough.
I would like to see the man behind the curtain, because there is only one. Michigan is investing a cool half-million into a giant curtain they can put in Crisler when it hosts women's basketball and gymnastics events so that the place feels less abandoned. Michigan averaged about 1700 fans per game at basketball last year.
It's probably the right thing to do, but putting up a curtain so attendance at certain sports is less embarrassing is… well, it kind of sums up the whole NCAA thing. The football players make a bunch of money, which is then spent on the strangest things.
Demar lands somewhere nice. Demar Dorsey will play his college ball at Hawaii, so at least he got an adventure out of everything. No, he's not coming here. I just told you he's going to play at Hawaii. No, still not coming. I am beginning to think you have the brain damage.
Etc.: Big Ten hockey hires Steve Piotrowski as its head of officials, which is a good move. Better move would be to clone him and put him on the ice for all games. Piotrowski #1 would be a super Piotrowksi. Dennis Norfleet gets really excited when he blocks a shot, understandably. SBN is making the case for relegation.
NO DEMAR DORSEY IS NOT COMING TO MICHIGAN
The Big Ten meetings are currently underway in Chicago, and the big story is the Big Ten
bowing to their SEC overlords respecting the sanctity of the Rose Bowl by abandoning the desire for on-campus playoff semifinals. Of course, the stated reason for such a stance can't be "we're hopelessly in the pockets of the bowl system, so we'll sacrifice a competitive advantage for the sake of preserving some bastardized ideal of tradition," so this is now about... fairness?
DB: Admitted playing northern sites outside simply isn't fair even though Big Ten could have competitive advantage...
— Freep Wolverines (@freepwolverines) May 16, 2012
Sure, USC or UCLA playing in the Rose Bowl, LSU playing in the Sugar Bowl, Florida or Miami in the Orange Bowl, that's all fine. God forbid Big Ten fans actually get to drive to a postseason game while their SEC counterparts don coats (gasp!) and get on an airplane for what amounts to a road game! No, this can't happen because the kids want a nice trip and their bowl swag:
DB: Many UM FB players in favor of traveling to warm weather sites for bowl experience but could be tough in multiple weeks w B10 title game
— Freep Wolverines (@freepwolverines) May 16, 2012
Fair enough, I guess. I'm assuming, if the question was framed differently, the players would be in support of hosting a semifinal—and evening the playing field—instead of playing a "home" semi in Pasadena before a warm neutral-site final, though I could be wrong. Escaping Michigan in January is always high on my list of things to do in Michigan in January. This, however, is not my ideal destination:
Delany said he will "have conversations" about adding Big Ten bowl tie-in to New York City.
— Kyle Meinke (@kmeinke) May 16, 2012
Just so everyone has this straight: B1G concerned about cold weather for playoff, but would like to play bowl games in NYC in January.
— Kyle Meinke (@kmeinke) May 16, 2012
I present Yankee Stadium, home of the Pinstripe Bowl, one day before the 2010 game:
What's really remarkable is that the Big Ten is so brazen in its hypocricy that these ideas are presented within mere minutes of each other. The sooner the bowl system dies a fiery (icy?) death, at least when it comes to determining a national champion, the better.
Bob Lipson, the most interesting man on a blue planet
Through various iterations of music players I have had a Game Day mix that I play on the drive from metro-Detroit to Ann Arbor. It's organized in a specific order to mimic the Michigan experience, beginning with a track imploring that the band take the field, and the whole pre-game concert, plus a bunch of Victors trios, Let's Go Blues, a halftime show, the hospital's string instrumental, and Temptation/Hawaiian WC. It concludes as any rightful Michigan weekend must, with Across 110th Street.
Michigan Replay ran from 1975 through 2008, beginning on Channel 7, moving to 4, and then back to 7 before ending up at Fox. The Sunday show spanned three coaches, two hosts, and six athletic directors. In some ways it was the spiritual predecessor to MGoBlog, in that its calling card was picking apart the plays from a wide angle, and using the latest available medium—television—to bring fans closer to the program than they'd ever been before.
Many people made the show what it was—from the coaches who finished their game days with after-midnight taping sessions an hour's drive away from their wives and beds, to the humble Jim Brandstatter, to the camera guys and crew like Pierre Woods and MGoReader Mike Berens.
But if you narrow Michigan Replay down to one guy, that guy is producer Bob Lipson. I recently had the great pleasure to sit down with Bob and ask him to tell the story of the show that for 33 years became part of the fabric of Michigan football. What follows are Bob's recollections of three wonderful decades, as recreated from notes written by a poor blogger trying to scribble while listening to one of the most fascinating stories in Michigan football, much of it not at all the way you imagined it happened. I know some people will remember things differently. What I have tried to present is the tale as Bob told it to me.
Live from WXYZ Channel 7: 1975-1979
In 1975 there were basically three networks. Michigan was as big as any team but still had its games broadcast about four times a year—when it was the ABC Game of the Week. At this time Bo was doing a Sunday TV show on Channel 4 that the people at Michigan weren't very happy with. Bob Lipson was working for Channel 7, under a general manager who was also head of Michigan State's alumni association (Bob refers to them only as "Sparty").
Lipson, a Michigan fan though not an alum—he's a Wayne State grad—had an idea to take over the program with a better format, and got the principals, including Bo and, somewhat reluctantly, athletic director Don Canham, to agree (Lipson spoke with great respect of Canham, even though they butted heads, and later listed him along with Jerry Hanlon and Elvis Grbac as the three people who left the strongest impression on him of all his years with the show). As payment Bo got whatever sponsorships they could sell in the credits scroll. The first host was Larry Adderley, another Sparty, who got the gig by nature of being WXYZ's main sports broadcaster (Larry later became the Tigers' play-by-play man).
The theme from a Blaxploitation flick and its now iconic percussion/horn funk melody was chosen mostly by happenstance: "I was frantic to find a theme song right up to the last minute of the first show back in '75," Bob recalled. "I just stumbled upon it while trying everything in the channel 7 library and settled on it the night before the first show."
The first episode aired after the first game of the '75 season, at snackycake Wisconsin (two traditions we all miss: early season conference games, and Wisconsin being a pushover). From the start it was a ratings success; it helped that Michigan was No. 2 in the country. The myriad Sparties around the network—specifically Jim Osborn who was president of the MSU Alumni Association—wanted, and created, their own show to run after Michigan Replay, however Sparty wasn't much to look at in the '70s so the network was essentially taking a loss to make sure everything stayed square.
Doing the show live had its funky moments. Back then Bob would pick out cuts directly from the coaches' (all-22) film on Saturday nights and have them ready to go for the Sunday filming. One time a crew member put the double-perf (meaning it has holes on both sides, people born after 1990) film into the machine backwards while playing it back during the taping, with the effect that everything was flipped horizontally. As Adderley professionally acted as if nothing was amiss, while breaking down a play Bo decided to point out that despite appearances, quarterback Rick Leach is indeed left-handed.
Here I'd like to mention that Bob shares our distaste for EXTREME CLOSE-UP footage whose analytic value is limited to ENT doctors.
Bob's Show, Bo, Budweiser, and Brandy: The 1980s
What's a Valhalla?
After five years of producing the show for WXYZ, Lipson knew he had a success and wanted to leave Channel 7 and own the show himself. He found a new home at Channel 4, the NBC affiliate. Since Adderley was Channel 7's guy Bob got a new host from Channel 4, that station's number 2 sports guy behind Al Ackerman (and a former player for Bo) Jim Brandstatter. Brandy got the call that he'd be coming on board for Michigan Replay while he was on his honeymoon, and canceled the trip to come back immediately. As you can see above from the early Brandy episodes, the rapport with Bo was an instant fit, as Jim, more so even than Adderley, had the humility to let the coach and the game be the story each week.
Former Eastern Michigan athletic director, Alex Agase, who holds the interesting distinction of being an All-American at two Big Ten schools (Illinois, then Purdue while training for WWII), was by this time a volunteer assistant for Bo. Among his duties were driving the head coach of Michigan to Detroit and back to do the shows. In true Schembechlerian fashion, after spending all day Saturday coaching football, and the hours after each game on Saturday night breaking down football film with his coaches, and the half hour talking about football on TV, what Bo wanted to talk about most on those hour-long rides was, of course, football.
The sponsors that Lipson drew were mostly clients from (I'm going to spell this wrong) PR firm Darcy, McManus, & Bowles, who, as was standard practice in advertising for the day, got a few Michigan perks (like Bob's seats) with their deals. In return Bob got three main sponsors: Pontiac, Cadillac, and Budweiser. Bo didn't mind the cars; he hated Bud. Hated it. Hated the very idea of alcohol mixing with his clean-cut Michigan show. Finally Lipson jokingly promised Bo if he could get the Michigan Milk Producers to come on board he'd drop Bud.
In 1984, Lipson moved again, this time back to Channel 7 but with the ability to reach a far greater audience through their network affiliates. Meanwhile the network was pressuring Channel 4 to get rid of Brandstatter, who didn't fit the hip '80s ideal of a program host. It was unrelated but perfect timing that when NBC pulled the plug on Brandstatter, Lipson was packing for Channel 7, and could thus bring his host with him.
Michigan Replay already reached homes across the state and into Toledo (and trebled Sparty's show's viewership in East Lansing) but this got Bob's little show all over the region, perhaps an understated part of how Michigan became one of the first truly national collegiate brands. People were tuning in every Sunday as far away as Tennessee to have Bo break down the latest game. The show was now an integral part of the Michigan football experience, a weekly tradition for more people in the state even than going to the football game, a perfect match for its era. But then came 1989.
End of Part I. Sorry to break this up, but Hail to the Victors is shipping at the end of this week and I have to get back to it. Coming up next week: how Fox changed everything and nothing, tapings at 2 a.m., Mo, Lloyd, the studio in Crisler, what do you do with 10,000 square yards of used stadium turf, and what really happened in 2008.
Good lord, this was brutal. Hockey had a pretty clear cutoff that sat nicely at five, and getting to five in basketball was a stretch. I left Steve Breaston, Leon Hall, Allan Branch, and Zoltan Mesko out here. Jebus.
PROS: Tough-talking no-neck was a four year starter at center perfectly suited for Michigan's zone running game; won the Rimington as a senior. Hilarious interview with absolutely no regard for cliché. High fantangibles rating. At times seemed to be the difference between doom and success in the Michigan ground game. Broke something serious in his foot in the Sugar Bowl, watched Rocko Khoury make some panic snaps on Michigan's first series, and played the rest of the game seriously damaged.
Experienced both coaching changes and was one of the seniors Who Stayed™. A huge factor in the locker room uniting behind Hoke.
CONS: Had some injury problems. Inexplicably had his snap count jumped against MSU and only MSU for like three straight years.
PROS: Four-year contributor and three-year starter who always teetered on the edge of being great. Finally accelerated down the senior-year stretch into a dominant nose tackle. During this period forced a pitch on a Nebraska speed option.
This is about all you need to know. You could not block him. Michigan's insanely good third/fourth and short defense started with him (and ended with Kovacs).
But wait, there's more: with Michigan's already-thin defensive line depth shattered by injury before the Sugar Bowl, Martin and Van Bergen faced off with future first-round pick David Wilson in a game where getting a stop meant you got four snaps before you were back on the field. They singlehandedly kept Michigan in the game despite dying halfway through the second quarter. A performance that should pass into legend the same way Hunwick's North Dakota game will.
Also a member of Those Who Stayed™. Along with Molk and Van Bergen, Martin got the Full Andy Dufresne from his time at Michigan.
CONS: Seemingly endorses "In The Big House." Not as highly regarded by the NFL as a few other guys on this list.
Ryan Van Bergen
PROS: Third and final member of Those Who Stayed™ on the list. Also a four-year contributor and longtime starter, underrated because of his lack of playmaking but still the TFL leader on last year's team. The other guy holding Michigan's defensive line together through sheer force of will in the Sugar Bowl. Virtually impossible to knock down. Screwed up a check in the 2009 Indiana game, leading to an 85-yard touchdown, then singlehandedly annihilated the next IU drive, giving Michigan a chance to pull it out.
CONS: Probably the least-great player on this list. Here as a tribute to Michigan's phoenix act in 2011. Not enticing to NFL. Still… look at that. This is not a list of the best players ever, so…
PROS: The best player on an awful Michigan defense and awful Michigan teams. Did not get the Full Andy Dufresne since his career ended halfway through the sewage tube. Still bore all of this with a Denard-like beatific smile. Just killed people, all the time.
NFL did really like him, drafting him in the top half of the first round.
CONS: Unfortunately his impact was limited because the team around him was terrible.
PROS: Sideline-to-sideline missile was cerebral to the point of near-genius. Always there. Always. Made a habit out of juking(!) offensive linemen in zone schemes, making them think the play was going one way, then exploding into the ballcarrier when this was not the case. Junior year was tremendously underrated thanks to chaos around him; was major lynchpin and possibly the best player on Michigan's monster 2006 defense. Yes, I mean that seriously.
Early and still prime example of the usefulness of UFRing makes him near to my heart; not sure if you care. Validated all praise from Michigan fans by instantly becoming NFL tackling machine upon entry to the league.
Kind of looks like Worf.
CONS: Lacks iconic wow play. Others started longer than he did.
PROS: Emphatically does not have David Harris's problem since he was the target on two of the most iconic plays of the aughts: Oh, Wide Open and Lloyd Carr's Last Second. An electric playmaker the rest of the time, a guy who wasn't the biggest but was the fastest and hardest to keep track of. Had that brilliant slow-up-to-stall-the-DB-then-extend-for-the-TD move down pat. More of a technician than given credit for. Whenever I think of Manningham, I think of that Citrus Bowl when DeBord said "screw it, spread time" and Holly Rowe reporting that Florida deathbacker Brandon Spikes was chasing Manningham all over the field on his incessant end-arounds, saying "damn, boy, you good."
Did the worm after the 2007 Penn State win.
CONS: Got suspended for the weed, something that took some doing in the mid-aughts. Widely regarded as kind of maybe not the nicest guy to ever make it through the program.
PROS: Amongst the nicest guys to ever make it through the program. Skillet-sized hands are made of industrial-strength adhesive. An elite-level possession receiver who was everyone's safety blanket. Targeted all the time and made all the catches. Probably the most common ex-player to be referenced in "You May Remember Me From Such Players As," to the point where I actively try to avoid it now.
That about sums it up.
CONS: Did drop that one pass once, you know, that one. Never a huge deep threat.
PROS: Four year starter with great backstory and running style burned into your brain. No speed at all but capable of juking in a phone booth and grinding out two, three, four yards after contact. Got a standing ovation for a particular eight yard run against Penn State once. Came out of a tiny school in upstate New York with outlandish rushing stats and a youtube clip in which he jukes every player on the opposing team twice.
Never, ever fumbled except twice inside the five against Florida in his last game. Pretty much the only thing standing between Michigan and a yards per carry under three during his time at Michigan.
CONS: Injury prone. Started this incredibly annoying "little brother" business. Spice added by mouth often backfired; went 0-fer against OSU.
PROS: Kills people. Brandon Graham was Woodley 2.0, a devastating defensive end who could not be blocked one-on-one. Has enormous Wolverine tattoo on arm. Finished off the Oh Wide Open game with the Yakety-sax-capping scoop and score. Fighting with David Harris and Allan Branch for title of best player on 2006 defense.
CONS: OSU 0-fer does not quite apply but really kind of does since he did not contribute much in 2003. That's about it. Kind of think maybe Graham was better since he had way less help and still produced.
PROS: Is he a man or a block-long wall? Only his mother knows, and these days she's not even sure. Four-year starter who rolled off the NFL left tackle prototype line and let exactly zero guys not roid-raging get to the quarterback when he was on the field. The first overall pick his draft year, all-American everywhere, etc, etc, etc, you get the idea.
CONS: Fantangibles low. Another Michigan great who had to suffer through the indignity of 0-fer OSU. Hurt most of the 2005 season. Not sure what I'd write about him.