This is the worst week I can remember for Michigan football. My mom, a Michigan grad, sent me a text this morning saying she's ashamed of Michigan and sad about the program's state of affairs. The world does and should expect more of Michigan, she says. My mom follows the team perhaps more than the average mother, but I do not usually receive texts from her on Tuesday mornings about the program. That by itself means something's very wrong.
I share her sentiments, and I think Michigan should unquestionably do better than it did. But I also can't help but see a contradiction between being outraged by what Michigan did and also being a part of tackle football – even as a fan.
To explain my reasoning, I ask that you indulge me in a brief journey backward: I grew up playing pick-up football. I loved it. I was also either knocked unconscious or made woozy, stumbling around seeing stars, multiple times. The same happened when I played organized ball. Those few of you who usually read my posts may not be surprised.
I bring up my own unremarkable experience playing football because I believe my experience was entirely typical. And the important point here is that football and concussions go together like dating and awkward moments. Football is a concussion-producing machine.
Does everyone remember the 2012 OSU v. MSU game? William Golson was knocked out for a good minute, and he still finished the game. MSU later claimed he had the wind knocked out of him. You can see that he was unconscious here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3AZsok00Pio
If you don’t remember that 2012 contest, how about 2009 Iowa v. Michigan? Tate Forcier was slammed to the turf by Adrien Clayborne and kicked in the head by another Hawkeye (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_VrBNPEVFuM) He played another series before being pulled by Coach Rodriguez for performance-related reasons. Coach Rod wouldn’t learn he had a mild concussion until after the game. http://www.annarbor.com/sports/tate-forcier-suffered-a-concussion-vs-iowa-still-michigans-starting-quarterback/
And what about 2010 Notre Dame v. Michigan? Brian Kelly put Dayne Crist back into the game after Crist took a hit to the head that caused him to lose vision in his right eye. http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/news/story?id=5576505
A final clip: one of the many absolutely brutal hits 49ers great Steve Young took during his career, which was cut short by concussions. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hkm2TzGPX8Y
These are, needless to say, not isolated incidents. The Center for Disease Control estimates that teenagers suffer two million brain injuries per year while playing football. http://grantland.com/features/jonah-lehrer-concussions-adolescents-future-football/
Also needless to say, brain injuries are bad. Former NFL players age 30-49 are 19 times more likely to have dementia than men in that age group from the general population. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/30/sports/football/30dementia.html?_r=3&hp&
Grantland, meanwhile, reported the following regarding research into concussions in youth players:
"In 2002, a team of neurologists surveying several hundred high school football players concluded that athletes who had suffered three or more concussions were nearly ten times more likely to exhibit multiple “abnormal” responses to head injury, including loss of consciousness and persistent amnesia. A 2004 study, meanwhile, revealed that football players with multiple concussions were 7.7 times more likely to experience a “major drop in memory performance” and that three months after a concussion they continued to experience “persistent deficits in processing complex visual stimuli.” What’s most disturbing, perhaps, is that these cognitive deficits have a real-world impact: When compared with similar students without a history of concussions, athletes with two or more brain injuries demonstrate statistically significant lower grade-point averages."
Additionally, teens with a history of concussions suffer from depression at three times the rate of teens who have not had a single concussion.
Jeffrey Max, M.D., studies the psychiatric outcomes of traumatic brain injury in young people at the University of California, San Diego. He stated the following this year:
"In the clinic, we've certainly seen cases where within hours [of sustaining a concussion], a kid who's never had depression before is suddenly depressed and suicidal. One of our studies found that the brain images in children with traumatic brain injury and depression were actually quite similar to those seen in adults who develop depression as a result of traumatic brain injury."
I don't post any of this to absolve anyone involved in the game this Saturday. But I do post it to put the game in context.
Given that context, I caution any football fan away from being too high-and-mighty with regard to the Morris incident. You're drawing some awfully convenient conclusions if you think you are clean with regard to the issues described above.
Remember when we all loved this picture?
You're fooling yourself if you think PSU's Anthony Morelli wasn't concussed on that play. Despite this, we - myself included - reveled in that moment. And that was only eight years ago, though we've admittedly learned a lot about football and concussions since then.
Standards change, and that's often good. A series of bad acts also don't justify another bad act. But with football, we are all contributing to possible bad acts against young people all the time. You can minimize risk, something Michigan failed at on Saturday, but you also cannot have football without this:
Michigan and all schools should be better about watching out for possible concussions. But everyone involved in football should take time to think about the nature of the game and its inevitable outcomes. We can lessen the game's risks, but all fans and participants of football live in a glass house when it comes to player safety. We should be mindful of that.
It made me feel better, if nothing else. Even though my identity isn't too hard to find on this site, I redacted some stuff because it makes me feel better.
CC: Board of Regents
I would like to begin this letter by describing my connection(s) to the University of Michigan. In XXXX, I matriculated into LSA as a member of the Honors College; I graduated with distinction and high honors in XXXX, and subsequently completed an MSE degree in the College of Engineering in XXXX. Aside from my personal enrollment in the University, I have numerous family ties to U of M: my father (an alumnus of blah), my mother (an alumna of blah blah blah), my brother (an alumnus of the college of blah), my wife (an alumna blah). I have been passionate about the University in no small part because of the success of the football program, learning the fight song before I knew the national anthem, cheering for the maize and blue on autumn days before I knew how to read a scoreboard, and understanding the excellence that the University prides itself in (in all manners) long before I understood the sterling academic and professional reputation of the University and its graduates. I would be surprised if my personal experience in this manner is singular.
You are no doubt aware that the University of Michigan football program has not performed well of late. Indeed, any number of national sports pundits has been quick to note this. This, in itself, reflects curiously on a University that prides itself in being “the Leaders and Best” in all things. However, competitive sport must have winners and losers and seasons of feast and famine; I do not take professional issue with the performance of the football program, but merely experience the pain of a passionate observer and fanatic, and hope that Michigan football will return to its prominence as a national powerhouse program.
I do, however, find recent events deplorable in which the athletic department has demonstrated a lack of loyalty to fans, an interest in profit margins over fan experience, endangerment of its student athletes, and a general black eye to the University and danger to the professional value of my Michigan education. For instance, my father (every bit as rabid a fan as I) was recently unwilling and unable to purchase season tickets to Michigan football games, due to their continuously increasing costs (no small feat, to out-price a dentist). This price gouging extends to the students, who are yearly asked to pony up more cash for tickets to see the likes of Appalachian State, Miami of Ohio, and University of Massachusetts play in the Big House. As an activity integral to the connection of alumni, students, and prospective students/employees with the University, this unholy pursuit of profit (from a non-profit institution) is beginning to act quite counter to its purpose, and is becoming noted by the media at large. Further, even when students purchase season tickets months ahead of schedule, the University has been recently dumping unsold tickets (to the tune of a ticket for a Big Ten football game with a bottle of Coke) while students and alumni remain holding unfairly expensive tickets.
Even this would be bearable, were the athletic department acting as a general boon to publicity for the University. However, recent events demonstrate this to be untrue. For instance, last year the athletic department paid for a plane to skywrite “GO BLUE” over Spartan Stadium. I don’t need to spell out for you in further detail what a sophomoric act this was. Estimates of the cost (which were never released) were on the order of $3000, a great use of the aforementioned inflated ticket proceeds. Last year, the athletic department also decided it would be a fabulous idea to put a giant Kraft macaroni noodle outside, in order to increase marketing cash flow; you can Google the results to see the public outcry over the ridiculous corporatization of one of the most beautiful stadiums in the world. Most egregiously, the football program has recently been in national news over its handling of the safety and health of its student athletes. I need not expand in further detail on this, as you could simply turn on your television to learn more.
What is truly impressive, however, is the ability of the athletic department to obscure, obfuscate, and deny culpability in the above, always diffusing blame and rejecting alleged wrongdoing:
On ticket prices: "We raised the ticket prices, but we wanted to make sure the ticket price increase was not at all perceived to be an opportunity for us to make more money off of the students.” – David Brandon (athletic director), as Michigan students pay among the most in the country to watch football; how else are price increases to be perceived?
On the “two Cokes, two tickets” promo:"Due to a miscommunication in the approval process, this promotion should not have run as is.” – Michigan spokesman… which raises the question, what exactly was the promotion going to be?
On the noodle: "This is the classic deal: somebody goes by and takes a picture of it and puts it on the Internet, and then they think this is the new hood ornament for Michigan Stadium." – Dave Brandon. A continual thread throughout these statements, that every issue raised is a matter of perception on the part of the fans/alumni/media.
On the skywriting over East Lansing:"There were no locations targeted." – Dave Ablauf (spokesman for AD), in stark contrast to the stated target of East Lansing by the pilot who did the skywriting.
On the endangerment of student athletes:I could copy and paste the entire press statement from David Brandon, but let me highlight the use of ambiguous, non-culpable language: “confusing”, “lack of communication”, “circumstance that was not in the best interest of our student-athletes”, “unique and complex situation” (despite the fact this happens every game-day Saturday), training staff “did not see the hit” (despite everyone else in the stadium immediately understanding what was happening), et cetera.
This is not the Michigan that I grew up with, nor is it the Michigan that I wish to be associated with. Mistakes happen, of that we can be sure; the measure of a man, program, and institution is how we deal with mistakes. It is not difficult (unless, apparently, you’re a member of the athletic department) to come forward and admit wrongdoing instead of deflecting and parrying. Any one of these events and subsequent evasions may be forgivable; in sum, they overwhelmingly demonstrate casual disregard for the truth, disrespect for the intelligence of fans and alumni of the University of Michigan, disinterest in the safety of students, and a deaf ear to the complaints and desires of those associated with Michigan. This athletic department and administration is rapidly destroying the goodwill and esteem of one of the proudest, most revered universities in the world. Never have I been embarrassed to declare my alma mater in a professional setting, as I am today. A losing football program is acceptable, when run with dignity and grace. An athletic department that tarnishes the value of my professional association with the University of Michigan is not.
I urge you to take whatever actions you deem necessary to reverse this course.
[Current professional credentials]
I've been looking at quite a few candidates for 2015 HC the past few weeks as it had become increasingly clear the Hoke is not the answer; something I think the masses have finally agreed upon after Saturday. I will post a few profiles this week in diaries on what I have found on candidates outside the normal cabal regurgitated over and over. Some candidates I have done a ton of work on - some I have done less on. All are current head coaches as I don't believe we can take a chance on someone who does not have HC experience at the NCAA level unless their name is John Harbaugh.
Normal caveats apply:
- I am not an AD nor do I have a full time staff to focus on one of of the most important decisions over the next decade. These are superficial reports based on raw data. If I were an AD I'd be doing a lot of on the ground work on each of these people's backgrounds starting from their playing days on forward to every coaching stop.
- Past results do not guarantee a damn thing. But that is all we can go on.
- These are not necessarily my top candidates (read: Jim Harbaugh) but people we could get and are interesting and not "Sumlin, Shaw, Gundy redux"
- I believe an elite level coach gets results within 2-3 years, by results I don't mean 11-2 but improving a bad program or maintaining a good program
- W/L record is not the be all and end all - what Gary Barnett did for Northwestern is more impressive than what a lot of coaches have done at USC or Bama or Texas over the years. Spurrier went and won at Duke for example early in his career. Or just see John Beilein.
- Adjust everything for conference, level of competition, and ability to get recruits
- I don't care about systems - a good coach will coach up players. It's about the Jimmy and Joes not the X's and O's.
Next candidate.... Dan Mullen, age: 42
Summary: Dan Mullen is the head football coach of Mississippi State. He has been for 5+ years now. Dan Mullen has a wholly unremarkable record at Miss State. He also is in a no win situation in the toughest division in college football. Dan Mullen has somehow gone from a coach large portions of his fan base wanted gone after 2013's 4-6 start to a man Michigan fans are clamoring for and afraid of losing to Florida if/when they extinguish their current coach. I can only imagine the confusion in Starkville.
I have no idea what Dan Mullen is. I see a team that beats up 3-4 baby seals every year. I see a team that finishes either 4th or 5th every year in its division; one that was only 6 teams deep until Texas A&M joined the SEC. I see a team that beats up on the bottom tier SEC teams - the ones that finish in 6th in the West and 6th/7th in the East division, to get to their annual 7 or 8 wins. They then proceed to get blased out of the water most of the time when facing the top tier SEC teams. There is no shame in that. But there is no great coaching greatness in that either. In fact, if Mullen's counterpart in Mississippi was not so dirty (allegedly!) I'd consider Hugh Freeze to be a way more interesting candidate.
Dan Mullen may be the greatest coach on Earth or average or ho hum. It is almost impossible to figure it out in his situation. But since he is so well received in our community I thought I'd do a write up for him.
Recent (10 years) coaching background
- 2005-2008: OC/QB at Florida
- 2009-2014: HC at Miss ST
Analysis: Well he doesn't hop around. Before 2005 he was with Urban Meyer at Utah as a QB coach. He then came with Urban to Florida after Zook was kicked to the curb. This was the era of Mullen as OC and Charlie Strong/Mattison as co-DC. He was hired at Miss St and took over in 2009. Pretty simple.
Many claim Mullen has "Midwest roots" so UM should be all over him, but where you are born has little to do with where your connections are. Mullen has been in the south for nearly a decade. His only Midwest jobs outside of a graduate assistant were 2 years at Bowling Green with ... well Urban Meyer. So if 2 years at Bowling Green 12 years ago and being born in Pennsylvania is your idea of a guy who is going to come into Ohio and Illinois and PA and kick behind on recruiting, then Mullen is your man.
Caveat for results ----> (a) nothing exists in a vacuum (b) as a coordinator you can benefit or be penalized if your HC is good or bad or average (c) injuries or graduation can change your results dramatically in any 1 year. This is the type of stuff you'd research as an AD staff on every potential candidate.
I will break down his results at 2 time frames - OC at Florida, HC at Miss St.
(1) OC at Florida
It is always tough with a VERY successful head coach to determine how much impact the coordinators are having. Alex Smith was at Utah and did very well - was that due to Meyer or Mullen? Chris Leak and Tebow were at UF - was that due to Meyer and Mullen? I can't tell you how many coaches Brett Favre made rich when they said "I developed Brett Favre!" I always go in favor of the HC in these cases especially if said HC has had success with multiple coordinators. But below you see the last year of Zook (2004) and then Mullen's 4 years with first Chris Leak and then Tim Tebow.
|W/L||Tot Off||Tot Def|
Zook actually had a pretty darn good offense down there at Florida but obviously Urban's spread was a different animal and there were struggles during one transition year. But then they got back to a top 20 type offense the last 3 years of Mullen's reign with 2 decorated QBs.
This was enough for Miss St to come calling with an offer
(2) HC at Miss State
Miss St is in the SEC West, at the time a 6 team division where Arkansas is up and down, Ole Miss is mediocre, Miss State is mediocre, LSU is generally good to great (once Saban arrived), and Auburn and Alabama (along with LSU) took turns being champions - at least over the last 20 years. Then A&M was added a few years back.
Mullen came in for Sylvestor Croom who actually did some good things with Miss State but fell badly in his last season and exited stage right. Here is Mullen's record and offensive and defensive rankings versus Croom's last year.
|W/L||Tot Off||Tot Def|
Croom had a horrible offense his last year at Miss St, which Mullen came in and imroved to average/meh level. From there, we see mixed results. Despite his "offensive guru" status Miss State's offense had 2 quite bad years down in the 80 range. And topped out in the 40s.
Defensively, Croom left a good defense. Mullen has basically continued that - please adjust for some very good SEC offenses which makes the results a bit better than just the raw data.
My concern here is most elite coaches will be very good on one side of the ball or the other. See MSU which focuses on defense, see Oregon which focuses on offense. Miss State is not "top end" on either - its decent to average on both offense and defense.
In terms of recruiting Miss State recruits on average rank 33 over the past 5 years. That is similar to say Michigan State/Wisconsin level. Ole Miss has beaten them soundly on the recruiting trail the past 3-4 years almost always finishing 10-20 spots better. Again with Hugh Freeze caveats.
Analysis of wins and losses
I am adding this section specifically for Mullen because of his propensity to beat baby seals and bad SEC teams and lose to good SEC teams. So basically Miss State "does what it is supposed to do". Compare that to say Harbaugh who had a doormat in Stanford but by year 3 of his era, despite a 8-5 record, rose up to kick the teeth in of some very good teams (I see you USC). I'd be more excited about Mullen if he did that - even if his record was 8-5 or 9-4 one of those wins every year was a beatdown of a top 3 SEC team. That doesn't happen. Usually when he beats a "brand name" team it is in a down year for said team.
Everyone is excited about this win vs LSU last week but LSU lost EVERY skill position player to the NFL draft last year on offense. In the first half v Wisconsin the LSU offense was a complete joke - and until Wisconsin began losing its DL, LSU was comatose. Let's see how the season turns out but I have a feeling this is more like a 8-5 LSU team then a 11-2 LSU team.
List of wins year by year
- 2009: Jackson State, (2-10) Vanderbilt, Middle Tenn State, (7-6) Kentucky, (9-4) #20 Miss State.
- 2010: Memphis, (6-7) Georgia, Alcorn State, Houston, (8-5) Florida, UAB, Kentucky, (4-8) Ole Miss, Michigan
- 2011: Memphis, LA Tech, UAB, Kentucky, Tennessee-Martin, (2-10) Ole Miss
- 2012: Jackson State (3-9) Auburn, Troy, South Alabama, Kentucky, (5-7) Tennessee, Middle Tennessee, (4-8) Arkansas
- 2013: Alcorn State, Troy, Bowling Green, Kentucky, (3-9) Arkansas, (8-5) Ole Miss, (10-4) Rice
List of losses year by year
- 2009: Auburn, LSU, Georgia Tech, Houston, Florida, Alabama, Arkansas
- 2010: Auburn, LSU, Alabama, Arkansas
- 2011: Auburn, LSU, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas
- 2012: Alabama, Texas A&M, LSU, Ole Miss, Northwestern
- 2013: Oklahoma State, Auburn, LSU, South Carolina, Texas A&M, Alabama
So let's review the data since it is important. In 5 years his most impressive wins were (year 1) 9-4 Ole Miss (year 2) 8-5 Florida which was 4-4 in the SEC, and (year 5) 8-5 Ole Miss and 10-4 Rice. Those are his 4 major wins in 5 years. Add this year's LSU if you'd like - we have no idea what that LSU is yet.
10.5 months ago many in the Miss St fan base wanted him out - he was 4-6 with his 4 wins: Alcorn State, Bowling Green, Troy, and 2-10 Kentucky.
Again I don't expect Miss State to beat Alabam more than once every 5 years but ... do it once. Beat an Auburn team in any year it is not 3-9. He is now 1-5 vs LSU. Even some average Houston Nutt Arkansas teams seemed to give him trouble.
This is a guy we are going to get to beat OSU and MSU? And eventually take us to the playoffs to beat - err Alabama, Auburn, A&M, LSU?
For all I know in 10 years we will look back and see Dan Mullen is the next Nick Saban. But right now I don't see a shred of evidence to support that. He has 2 wins over a good not great Ole Miss, an average Florida, and Rice as his trademark wins in 5 years. He does recruit in a hotbed area of the country and certainly he does not get the pick of the litter but his buddy at Ole Miss is recruiting circles around him. (fairly or otherwise)
He is young, makes $3.2M annually and apparently has "Midwest roots", so somehow has a "Big 10 footprint" associated with him for those 2 years at Bowling Green.
If this is a man both Florida and Michigan are going to be fighting hand and tooth over... a coach many Miss State fans wanted out of the program 11 months ago....I guess I just have a very weird way to analyze elite level success. I don't see it here.
OK, so who the hell is this guy?
Indeed 46 years later, "Beau Who?" might be once again an appropriate headline for the 2015 head football coach of the University of Michigan. At least I think so.
I submit to you that any new head football coach search for Michigan must include youth, energy and proven record of success. Beau Baldwin is one of the most successful college football coaches in the country right now.
Title: Head Coach
Team: Eastern Washington
Conference: Big Sky
Record: 56-22 at EWU, 66-25 career
Played QB at Central Washington 1991-1993
1994–2002 Central Washington (QB Coach)
2003–2006 Eastern Washington (OC & QB Coach)
2007 Central Washington (HC)
2008–present Eastern Washington (HC)
Influencers: John Zamberlin, Paul Wulff, Greg Olson (OC for Oakland Raiders & QB coach of Drew Brees while at Purdue)
QBs Coached: Jon Kitna, Mike Reilly, Bo Levi Mitchell, Erik Meyer (Walter Payton Award winner), Vernon Adams
Defeated No. 25 Oregon State (Mike Riley) in Corvallis, August 2013 (EWU as FCS school).
Scared the shit out of Washington 52-59 in Seattle, September 6, 2014.
“The idea is to tempo people and to get on people and to stay on people. But the whole philosophy of that no-huddle is to keep the defense off balance. And from there it’s nice to be able to spread people out and that’s always been my philosophy,” he added. “But you have to be balanced. You have to have the threat of both and I think that goes for any sport. To be a championship-caliber offense, you have to be balanced.”
-No Mid-West ties
-No FBS head coaching experience, just NCAA division II and FCS/Division I.
-Unfamiliar with the B1G
-Too west-centric. Completely unknown in the mid-west
- He doesn't have a wandering eye. Loves EWU. Loves the brand of football at the division II/I level. Says he's very happy where he's at.
- Strong, proven quarterback coaching skills and experience. High performance, numerous accolades won by QB players.
- Creative offensive coordinator, seasoned
- Strong HC performance over 7 years: 66 wins, 5 tournament appearances, 1 championship game. Never had a losing season. 3 time Big Sky coach of the year.
- Players love him.
- Strong confidence, determination, drive to make EWU nationally relevant program
Those who have watched the coach say he always seems so confident, so calm and so sure Eastern will slay any Goliath who gets in its way. Despite their No. 4 ranking in the FCS poll, that’s really what the Eagles were that evening in Corvallis, Ore. — a David with a coach named Beau Baldwin who calmly stalks sidelines with a disguised fearlessness he infuses into every coach and player he surrounds himself with.
“I think they just buy into that mindset, that attitude,” Baldwin said. “You have to live it, that’s what I’ll say. It’s one thing to say it in a team meeting, but as long as they see that you truly believe it then there’s no reason not to believe it. That’s when great things happen.”
Added Mario Brown, a fifth-year running back Baldwin recruited from Oakland, Calif., “It definitely carries over to the team. We’re a representation of who he is.”
|Central Washington Wildcats (Great Northwest Athletic Conference) (2007)|
|2007||Central Washington||10–3||6–2||3rd||L NCAA Division II Quarterfinal|
|Eastern Washington Eagles (Big Sky Conference) (2008–present)|
|2009||Eastern Washington||8–4||6–2||T–2nd||L NCAA Division I First Round|
|2010||Eastern Washington||13–2||7–1||T–1st||W NCAA Division I Championship|
|2012||Eastern Washington||11–3||7–1||T–1st||L NCAA Division I Semifinal|
|2013||Eastern Washington||12–3||8–0||1st||L NCAA Division I Semifinal|
Okay, here is my contribution...
Dan Quinn is currently the defensive coordinator for Pete Carroll and the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks. He’s known for being flexible with scheme and looking for ways to feature the talents of his best players. Interestingly, in a 2013 article on NFL.com, Quinn and two other NFL assistants (Mel Tucker and Greg Roman) were named by anonymous NFL executives as being the most likely NFL assistants to make great college coaches.
PROBLEM IS... Quinn is one of the most highly-regarded assistants in the NFL right now, and was apparently a top candidate for the Cleveland Browns job last off-season (but the Browns hired a different coach while the Seahawks were still playing en route to the Super Bowl). He was also a finalist for the Minnesota Vikings job and reportedly considered for other NFL vacancies as well.
From: Morristown, N.J.
College: Salisbury Steak, er, State (1993)
William & Mary (DL)
Other coaches he has worked for/with include:
· Kyle Flood (with Hoftsra)
· Nick Saban (with Miami Dolphins)
· Pete Carroll (with Seattle Seahawks)
· Will Muschamp (with Florida Gators)
· Recent major college experience as DC with Florida
· Super Bowl ring
· Flexible and acquainted with modern schemes
· May be difficult to sign (or keep for long), given demand from NFL teams
· No HC experience at any level