"It's not about last year or who's here or who's isn't here," says your head coach. "It's about getting out here and competing and seeing who is here, and that's where we're gonna go."
This feature highlights some of the more famous personalities here at MGoBlog and beyond. Without pulling back the infamous veil of blog anonymity, we’ll get to know some of your favorite posters better and possibly shed some light on their definition of why it’s so darn Great, To Be, A Michigan Wolverine.
CLICK HERE TO VIEW PREVIOUS EDITIONS OF MGOPROFILE
(Scroll down to the MGoProfile section of the User-Curated HOF).
(Note: Posted early because of Friday availability. Regular schedule should resume next time.)
SIX QUESTIONS WITH PROFITGOBLUE
If you’ve been here for more than 3 months, the man probably needs no introduction: profitgoblue. A long time mod, and a longer time member, he’s been in the trenches, been here for the Rich Rod ups and downs, the coaching search, the schism, and witnessed every battle. So much that he might have gotten a little shellshock, and isn’t around as much. But like Superman, or the Lone Ranger, after they’ve rode into the sunset, when you need him, he’ll be there. So find out what we’ve been missing: profitgoblue.
1. You were a long time mod...without getting into why you're an "ex-mod" again, what don't we know about the experience of being a mod after hearing from all the others that we should really know?
I’m not sure if any of the others mentioned it or if it was just me, but I always felt a pretty good amount of pressure to perform. Not pressure from Brian or Seth, per se, but my own internalized sense of duty to this site that I love and take more from than I give. And to be honest, I was always a bit self-conscious about whether my performance was what those two were looking for out of a moderator. I think people sometimes forget that this is Brian’s creation, his body of work, in addition to being his source of income. In a way, moderators are almost like babysitters of Brian’s first-born child. And I didn’t want to ever draw Brian’s attention as someone who was not taking good care of his child.
My number one priority as a moderator was to make sure people were civil to each other. (I think this came from my experience as a poster during the Rich Rodriguez MGoFiascoTM, but more on that below.) I may have been a bit too harsh in some threads and a bit too hasty to delete comments or levy fines but I like to think that my actions made many people feel more comfortable contributing to the Board. Unfortunately, my approach also resulted in the creation of a few MGoEnemiesTM or at least posters that did not appreciate what I was doing. In fact, I found that my actions were questioned much more often than my colleagues and I really regret that to be the case. It was always my intention to be fair but, looking back at some of my old posts, I now see why some people reacted that way. Having stepped down, some of my moderator posts read as though I was preaching rather than being matter-of-fact, which is interesting given my background. To my defense, I made it a point to try to reconcile with people whenever possible – it was never my intention to create enemies or step on toes. Maybe that came with the territory or my approach but it was never my intention.
Nonetheless, I enjoyed my time as a moderator, if only because I felt like I was giving more than just donations to the site and serving as an asset to Brian. It was a pretty good feeling and, believe it or not, I think I learned more in the past two years about public communication then I ever did in my 7 years of higher education. I would happily accept the job if I had to do it all over again.
Everyone wants a cop when they need them, but no one wants to get a ticket. Now that you're not on here as much what are you doing with all your extra time? Working more? Spending time with the kids? Or is it all video game time? (What ARE you playing right now?)
Public Service Announcement: Anyone who says that having a second child is easier than the first is an asshole. They are evil sorcerers trying to get you to procreate so they next generation is able to siphon every last drop from this generation (to make up for the shortfall in their Social Security benefits?). You will find that once you have your first child people will incessantly ask about your plans for a second child, as if it was unfathomable to only have one child. Ignore them! Run for your lives! And make sure you bring your more susceptible spouse with you! (Disclaimer: I love my second born.)
Anyway, since the birth of my second last year I tell people that I am operating at about 99.9% percent capacity. I think (?) I’m a bit different than many fathers in that I’m very hands-on. I spend all of my time with the kids that I can possibly afford. To be honest, would LOVE to be a stay-at-home father. (Unfortunately, those two sets of law school loans aren’t going to pay for themselves.)
Any and all of my free time comes after everyone is in bed and the house is quiet. I finally embraced the fact that I’m a video gaming nerd so most of that time is taken up playing Battlefield 3 on PS3. I’m excited about the release of Grand Theft Auto 5 - it looks amazing! - but am going to be moving to PC in the next month or two as I am building my own gaming PC. (For anyone interested, building a PC is exciting and stressful but not as difficult as it might seem.) Once on PC I’m definitely going to be playing Battlefield 3 and Battlefield 4, plus DayZ, ArmA III, probably some SimCity, and maybe even some Euro Truck Simulator and Train Simulator. Whew!
Other than gaming in my free time, I watch as many Barcelona soccer games I can find on TV, watch all Michigan football and basketball games (obviously), go fishing whenever possible, tend to our vegetable garden with my oldest, try to find time to write new chapters in my novel, and still find a way to sneak 4-5 hours of sleep in there as well. I was not born to work – I have too damn many extracurricular interests!
I guess that answers the “What do you do for fun?” standard. A videogame inspired your probably best known avatar. How many different avatars have you had, anyway? Did you have a favorite?
You know, that’s a great question. I’m not sure why but I changed it several times over the years . . .
I didn’t know what to start with when I first signed up to be an MGoMember so I chose:
Maximus (Russell Crowe) from "Gladiator." I like the movie but not really enough to choose it as an avatar. I quickly changed it after someone on the Board made fun of me (I told you I was self conscious, especially as a noob!). My next choice was:
Claire Forlani (from the movie "Meet Joe Black"...terrible movie, pretty lady). I quickly realized that was pretty lame so I went with the safe and obviously appropriate:
Desmond Howard in the famous "Heisman pose." But that one felt a little generic and non-expressive so I went with:
The Futbol Club Barcelona crest. I stayed with this one for a long time because I love watching Barca and Lionel Messi play (the style of play is both mesmerizing and explosive) and the avatar was kind of unique (until I noticed that use Swan Flu has the same one). My last one was:
The Battlefield 3 jacket cover for reasons you now know. Now that I'm on MGoEmeritus status and I got rid of an avatar altogether.
I saw that CooperLily21 is using that same avatar, the unoriginal plagiarizing bastard, but he seems like a decent kid who might be able to carry on the BF3 tradition in my stead. Of course, I reserve the moderator power to relieve him of the honor and reward you with a My Pretty Pony avatar if he bad-mouths me on the Board again.
2. Ah, yes. Once a mod, always a mod. (You are on notice CooperLily21!) And frankly, as often as I’ve been on and had to stare at your posts, I would have very much rather been staring at Claire. (I have an urge for Scotch right now.)
As someone who's been intimately involved with it for a while, how have you see MGoBlog and its constituents evolve over the different eras (of the site and Michigan Football)? And having experienced all that you have experienced, do you still have the same joy for it when you had started for Michigan Football/Athletics, or has it been tempered by everything that has gone on? As someone who I think is in the median range of MGoBlog readers/commentators, not still in college, not really "old" yet, do you think fandom evolves over time? Has it for you?
I still love Michigan Football as much as I ever have, but it is definitely a different kind of love. One that has been tested, that’s for sure. Kind of like your first true love that calls you up in the middle of the night, drunk and high, laying in another man’s bed, explaining that she won’t be able to make it to breakfast tomorrow because “her friend needed to talk through some things.”
Wait, what? Did you ask me something? Oh, yeah. Nevermind what I just said. Its nothing like that.
Anyway, I’ve been watching and attending games for as long as I can remember (as far back as the early 80s) and until 2008 never knew a losing season. That’s pretty damn unbelievable, if you think about it. An entire existence of watching a team that wins significantly more than it loses! But, for some reason, the winning was starting to feel too familiar, almost to the point that it was getting dare I say boring. I was in school in during the 1997 championship run and it gave me a taste of true greatness. After that, other than the near-championship caliber team in 2006, each season ended with a feeling of disappointment. We were watching amazing players and great plays but never really reaching the pinnacle of the college football world.
Enter Rich Rodriguez and his spread option attack and it felt like a breath of fresh air. Of course, there were a lot of people that were not too excited. Vocal ones. And that pissed me off. Not because they did not feel the same as me, but because they wouldn’t shut up about their displeasure. I am someone who believes people are entitled to their views and opinions but I take offense to those that try to impress their views and opinions on others in unkind ways. That is what happened in the “Coaching Change” discussions and it really upset me. It made me realize that Michigan fans are not really all that different from fans of any other school and that was a pretty hard realization for me. I guess that was the “coming of age” event in my Michigan Football fan life. And I don’t think I handled it all that well (see, e.g., http://mgoblog.com/mgoboard/ot-prohibition-coaching-change-posts-act-2010), or at least not in a very mature way. That and the losing sucked. Watching the offense was amazing from my standpoint, but the defense was so hurtful that the end result was pain and suffering.
Since that experience I have become a different type of fan, I guess. With children that are still too young to watch a full game, I have to DVR games and watch them at night. That definitely changes the gameday experience as I have to spend all Saturday avoiding college football like the plague so as not to see the final score. But it’s not all bad. It may be that I’m just getting older and being a lunatic fanatic is no longer my style. Of course, I still yell like a college kid when I attend games (my father and I try to go back to Ann Arbor once a year). And it’s definitely a lot more fun being a Michigan fan now than it was a few years ago, what with basketball being great and Brady Hoke changing the football tide (of both the rivalry – heck, he’s selling jerseys in Ohio, something I never thought was possible! – and the sentiment of fans in general).
3. What do you do for a living now?
I am an corporate lawyer for a Fortune 500 company. I do mostly commercial finance (secured finance) work but also still work on a lot of bankruptcy matters (creditors rights these days).
Public Service Announcement: Do not go to law school. That is all.
4. And you have time for all that other stuff?? (Family, games, football) Describe the perfect meal.
Ahhh, that’s an easy one: Chick-fil-A #1 on wheat bun with no pickles, large fries, and a large Coke with Chick-fil-A sauce on the side. I’m convinced they put cocaine in their chicken! My “Chick-Fil-A Fridays” are my favorite days.
5. You know, if we’re going to a bowl game anywhere other than Pasadena, I have to find me one of those. Can you explain why you are a Michigan fan?
I couldn’t imagine being otherwise. I’m from Michigan originally (though I haven’t lived there since the late 80s) and my grandfather, father, and 3 cousins all attended Michigan. My father took me to games for as long as I can remember and I got to see all the greats. After that upbringing, my only dream as I got older was to attend the University of Michigan for college. It was awesome but once I fulfilled my dream and got further along I realized that I had no idea what to do with my life from there.
6. Well, the second child gives you two chances to get it right as a parent and send the next generation to Michigan. Who’s your all-time favorite Wolverine?
It’s a toss up between Desmond Howard, Charles Woodson, and Denard. I had the great pleasure of getting to watch each of them in person and they were all exciting. Each of them were players that electrified the stadium whenever they walked onto the field. I guess if forced to choose I would pick Charles Woodson because I was in school when he was there. On the basketball side, I will always love the Fab Five. I attended every basketball game during my 4 years in Ann Arbor and I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything. (Yes, I’m selfish - I left school before the penalties were levied.)
6.5 So, this isn't actually quite riding off into the sunset, but will we see you on and around much? Are there any last thoughts you've had about your time here?
I plan on lurking like so many former moderators (except BiSB who just can’t seem to stay away). If Brian and Seth will allow me, I’ll jump in and moderate if I see catch any glaring transgressions to help out the crew. But I’m definitely enjoying being a lurker and not having to bite my lip – it’s much more fun being able to be a bit more smart-assed in my comments. The Board has definitely changed since I first started participating in the discourse but that will never change my love of the content. I will continue to read every front page article, that’s for sure!
Sometimes controversial, sometimes maddening, sometimes the white knight bringing down the banhammer and keeping the peace, but ALWAYS interesting, profitgoblue. I think for all the complaining people like to do that we want guys like profitgoblue on that wall, we NEED them on that wall, and they protect MGoBlog and make it a safe place to be (Rather than one that makes you want to gouge your eyes out reading the comments). And like so many you don’t really appreciate what you have until it’s gone. But they come and they go, Hobbs, they come and they go. Much like this feature, who will come back highlighting another member of MGoBlog, same Bat-Time, same Bat-Channel!
What amazes me about this site is the amount of content posted during the dead of summer, when people should be, you know, outside and not worrying about the nickelback (NTN)* on passing downs. Mind you, I say this with 100% absolute love and appreciation, as it really makes those bathroom br…er, interminable time between seasons a bit more bearable. The only problem, if you’d call it that, is that with such great, consistent diarists like Mathlete, Six Zero, Seth, CRex, and LSAClassOf2000 (and I’m sure to be missing others, so my apologies in advance), it makes it tough for people without advanced knowledge of mathematics, drawing skills, or hilarious fish-out-of-water tales to think of anything useful to post. Luckily, I’m here to post random thoughts on football without any of those messy facts, charts, or thoughtful analysis that bogs down everyone else. But I will definitely make consistent references to late 80’s/early 90’s pop culture, because nothing draws eyeballs like Battletoads puns.
And let it be known that I have yet to receive my copy of HTTV (available now for ordering if you are a horrible person who didn’t love Brian enough to sponsor his Kickstarter because you spent all of your money on funding a Deathstar), so if anything happens to overlap that is purely coincidental. So no need for a spoiler alert, but perhaps a didn’t-mean-to-tap-into-the-hivemind-alert. Also, this is not exhaustive – I don’t have the knowledge of football that other writers here possess, so me saying “Lewan is really good and Mattison knows how to coach” isn’t going to be ground-breaking; I’m going for a “key points” approach here. So without further ado, I bring you a preseason Best and Worst for Michigan (and college in general) football in 2013.
* I’m not a fan of all Nickelback songs, but that is one awesome movie tie-in song!
Best: Finally the focus is on actual football
While it is undeniable that college sports drive a multi-billion-dollar industry (but don’t tell EA that), the actual seasons for football and basketball are about 4 months each, with only a bit of overlap. So after the first week of January and/or the first week of April, the “official” engine driving the gravy train for network and cable television, websites, merchandisers, etc. shuts down for about 8 months. Unfortunately, there are still 24 hours a day that need to be filled with something, whether it be talking heads arguing over “issues” and obscure hypotheticals, former athletes pontificating on the need to have “played the game” to really understand why throwing on 3rd-and-12 is the right call, or scanning the police blotter in every college town to see if the Ven diagram of college kids getting drunk and/or fighting and college football/basketball players intersects.
So when the football season ends, the focus immediately turns to NSD, wherein a bunch of grown men’s and women’s emotions wax and wane according to the whims of high-schoolers participating in very weird hat dances.
|One of these is awesome, one is insanely awesome, and one is Denard rocking a great look.|
March is dominated by commercials for Southwest Airlines and Capital One credit cards with a dusting of basketball sprinkled in, and just when that madness ends, we get inundated with draft combine reports and the respective NBA and NFL drafts. And as the weather gets warmer, you finally think “self, what else can they report about? Kids are not even in school; at most they will be some puff pieces about charity work and new coaches getting used to a particular school.” But no, you are instead bombarded with stories about kids slacking off, whether or not a former coach is somehow partially responsible for a suspected murderer because the Program actually happens IRL, and old men talking about “big changes” that will only make things more convoluted and disjointed as sports go full Voltron with super-conferences and paychecks.
I guess my point is that in a few short weeks, fans of college football will actually be able to celebrate the sport itself, even if the depressing accoutrement isn’t going anywhere. Those recruits will now be in the lineup (or at least at practice), the returning players will be settling into their roles, and all of the coach-speak/playbook prognostications/expectations will manifest themselves in an actual product on the field. The silly season is over; bring on the games.
Worst: Addition + Subtraction != Reality
One of the common refrains I’ve read recently about the upcoming season is the old “addition by subtraction” on offense as Gardner takes over for Robinson at QB. As the thinking goes, the loss of Robinson and his career 10,776 yards of offense will be mitigated by Devin’s superior throwing ability and a more balanced, Al Borges-friendly offensive system.
This phrase has always driven me crazy, if for no other reason than football doesn’t work like math. A football team is comprised of innumerable players, coaches, opponents, etc.; we’re talking thousands of meaningful variables. Change one and you might have a major effect on the system, but the far more likely outcome is that nothing demonstrably happens or, worse, the output is worse. And it’s this last scenario that really scares me about losing Denard and installing Devin at QB full-time.
Just because you’ll be able to shove a slightly less misshapen peg into an ever-changing hole doesn’t mean the entire enterprise, or even a component like the offense, will function better a year later. Other than Jeremy Gallon’s mountain goat imitation and The Threat keeping the chains moving, the passing attack is long on potential and short on real results (I believe Funchess will have a solid year catching the ball, but when you can’t block at UM you aren’t going to be on the field much). Fitz’s recovery sounds promising but will he be the guy who ran for 5.6 ypc in 2011 or struggled to break 4 in 2012? I don’t know, and while there is guru-approved talent in the backfield (Green and Smith) and is a position where young talent can flourish, nobody with shoelaces has been able to consistently gain yardage on the ground for years now. And while in years past defenses had to respect the ability of UM’s QB/RB/WR/braided decoy to bust a massive run, Devin isn’t that type of player and defenses will treat him (and by extension this offense) accordingly.
Of course, Devin isn’t the perfect Al Borges QB either, but in theory he’ll be better able to throw downfield accurately and COMPLETELY IGNORE ANY TYPE OF SCREEN PASSES, amongst other things. Call me skeptical, but I still see this offense living and dying with the line giving whoever lines up at RB the time and space necessary to get into the second level. Protecting Devin will definitely help as well, but he’s enough of an athlete to buy himself some time on obvious passing downs if necessary; limiting the number of times he lines needing 8+ yards for a first because they tried this twice would be great.
|Unleashing the dragon is not officially endorsed by Al Borges, but he’s not officially against it either.|
Best: The Flying V
One of my favorite movies growing up was D2: The Mighty Ducks, the sequel to, I don’t know, the Joshua Jackson vehicle The Mighty Ducks. It’s 100% crap if you watch it critically; rampant product placement, jingoism and mindless flag-waving up the wazoo, and the most lax enforcement of international junior hockey rules known to man (seriously, the team adds players to the squad midway through the tournament by signing them up after a street hockey game). But by gawd, 13-year-old me loved this movie so much, and mostly because the creators pulled the comic book staple of expanding the Might Ducks universe by introducing new characters with exactly one “secret/mutant” power/character trait. Now you had the super-tough guy Dean to team up with Fulton (himself mostly known for his rocket shot) to make the Bash Brothers. Julie “The Cat”, with her lightning-quick reflexes, could even defend the previously-unstoppable triple deke. Luis Mendoza was the fastest guy the ice had ever seen, but couldn’t stop to save his life. And I guess to fill out the roster they added a cowboy (Dwayne) and the aforementioned street hockey star Russ (more on him later).
So why does this matter? Well, for a couple of years now, the RB situation at UM always left like a cut-rate casting of the Ducks, with guys trying to fill in the “power”, “speed”, “every down”, etc. roles but with limited success. They played hard and, at times, could fill in their roles admirably, but it should trouble people that even with Fitz’s decent 2011 season and barely playing his first year, Denard accounted for 42% of the team’s total rushing yards during his career. In virtually every circumstance, he was the best/only real option to move the ball on the ground, whether it be in short-yardage, designed first-down runs, even catching out of the backfield toward the end of last season.
This year, it feels like the situation will be improved if for no other reason than the talent in the backfield is significantly better than in years past. Even coming back from injury I expect Toussaint to be better than he was last season, and if he can’t line up full-time in the backfield is still a great change-of-pace back with (I hope) the elusiveness and phone-booth shiftiness everyone saw a couple of years ago. Green and Smith were some of the top RB recruits in the nation last year, and both look capable of running the ball 20-25 times a game if needed. Shallman and Kerridge should be able to provide some power in short yardage (I guess Rawls could improve here as well but who knows) and, in Shallman’s case, maybe a bit more in the open field. Guys like Hayes and Johnson look like situational backs who could move into the slot in certain formations and cause issues against LBs and Safeties. And to both make Brian happy as well as wedge in the reference that drove me to shoehorn the RB situation into this horrible analogy, Norfleet is the ultimate Knuckle-puck and a player I expect will help immensely in the return game if nothing else.
Getting yards on the ground still relies immensely on the guards and center blocking FAR better than they did last year, but it finally feels like the backfield could whip out a flying V of talent.
Worst: Where’d the “Gimmick” Go?
With Denard gone and Devin and co. clearly moving toward a more “classic” offense philosophy, I’m having to come to grips with the fact that the atypical elements of this team are rapidly disappearing. It always drove me crazy when people would call the spread option a “gimmick” offense, because last time I checked the goal was to score points as frequently as possible by maximizing your strengths and exploiting the weaknesses of your opponent. It wasn’t THAT long ago that people viewed the forward pass as (at best) a fad and (at worst) an affront to the game that killed 18 people and injured 100s, and even the multiple-receiving TE craze of recent years was scoffed at when it was first introduced. It’s an offense that clearly works in college, and the flexibility it gave in terms of play-calling helped make UM stand out a bit compared to the Big Ten-ness of offenses at outfits like Iowa, Wisconsin, and MSU.
While Al Borges’s offense looks to move the ball far better than other teams in the conference and should feature a fair number of wrinkles, the designed QB runs, unpredictable formations, and Worst Waldo Ever are probably relics of the past.
Worst: Stupid Elephant
Even though UM won’t be seeing Purdue until 2017 doesn’t mean that the Boilermakers couldn’t dramatically affect UM’s season as they unleashed Perry, clumsiness elephant in the world upon Jake Ryan and his precious ligaments. Though it sounds like he’ll be back in time for most of the conference slate, he’ll likely just be getting his conditioning and game-speed bearings when the meat of the schedule (@MSU, Nebraska, @NW, @Iowa, OSU) kicks in. Mattison Uber Alles and all that, but its going to be interesting to see how this defense responds without their leading tackler (88 total tackles) and pressure generator (team-leading 4.5 sacks). Let’s hope the hype around Clark, Ojemudia, and Washington is for real, because that line is going to have to generate a significantly better pass rush. You can only blitz so many times before good offenses figure out how to exploit those holes, and UM’s corners simply aren’t experienced/good enough right now to play on islands (though I do think they’ll be good).
And an aside: having recently had a birthday and solidly entering my early 30’s, I am definitely feeling my age when it comes to minor injuries. Whereas in years past running a couple extra miles or tweaking a muscle lifting took all of a day to recover from, now I’m limping around like I’ve got shrapnel in my ankle if I don’t stretch 10 minutes before jogging. So perhaps it shouldn’t surprise me that 20-something-year-olds can bounce back from these injuries in record-breaking time. It just blows my mind that Ryan will see the field 7 months after this injury. Heck, when Timmy’s Dad came back from his ACL injury and was a reasonable approximation of the player he was before, people thought it was a miracle.
You Decide: The (Near) End of an Era
I apologize to the mother of the equine that is about to be bludgeoned again, but we are rapidly nearing the end of the Rodriguez regime’s influence on Michigan football. While RR coached his last game on the UM sideline on January 1, 2011, the long tail from recruiting, player development, and (minor) cultural impact is still affecting Hoke’s regime years later. That’s the thing about coaching changes; the head guy may leave his office in a single day, but the fallout from his time at the helm literally remains for years. And we all know how it feels when a guy just lingers.
(* Full Disclosure: I remain a staunch believer that RR’s tenure at UM could have turned out quite differently if a handful of about eleventy billion things had gone differently. Your mileage with him will likely vary, but the guy who recruited Lewan, Denard, Gardner, Fitz, Ryan, etc. and obliterated a number of school records – admittedly both good and bad – could have worked in Ann Arbor.)
While we have seen some players from his regime leave in the past, the transition from last year’s squad to this year really feels like the first natural “purge” of RR’s most prominent players. The kids who left in 2013 were the first full RR class to matriculate, the kids who signed up after the 3-9 season and survived immense negative karma that welcomed them to campus, Stretchgate, the losing seasons, the Process, and, finally, some redemption.
The two names that I suspect stick out for most MGoBloggers are Denard and Kovacs; the Alpha and Omega that embodied the dichotomy and extreme variance that was a hallmark of the Rodriguez years.* Denard was the scintillating maestro of an offense that could be maddening for fans and opponents alike. At his peak, Denard was the most exciting player Michigan had fielded in a generation; his two transcendent games against ND rank up there with Biakabutuka against OSU, Braylon’s new Math, Chris Perry’s marathon versus MSU, Mercury Hayes leading the comeback against UVa, and a slew of performances by Woodson, Wheatley, and Hart. His flaws were well-documented (mediocre passer, injured, the sometimes-victim of being the best option on every play), but when he was on he gave fans the feeling of having the “ringer” in a game; of having the guy who was so much better than everyone else that it didn’t seem fair.
If Denard was the quintessential spread QB recruit, Jordan Kovacs epitomized the other mythos of Rich Rodriguez: gritty walk-on makes good. Sure, if you read his Wikipedia page the story feels incredibly predictable, but at the time I doubt anyone expected the kid with a single preferred walk-on offer at Toledo (yes, that Toledo) would become a team MVP and leave this program as one of the better safeties in its history. He just made plays, and I’ll admit that my testicles will probably retract a bit the first time someone goes deep on Michigan this year. I suspect Gordon will slide in adequately enough, but you don’t replace a mult-time conference award winner easily, regardless of the story told in getting him on the field.
This season will only accelerate the exodus of The Last Guy’s recruits, and while I am exceedingly happy about The Current Guy’s performance, it is still a bit sad to see some of the standard-bearers of this important era in Michigan’s history move on.
* You could also make a case for BWC, the biggest “can’t miss” prospect that flamed out under RR and only recovered under the steady hand of Hoke and Co. Because if there was a third defining element to the RR era, it was big-name prospects (Tate, Cullen, Cissoko, etc.) failing to live up to expectations.
Best: The Gap is Shortening
Of all the systemic and natural advantages certain programs have – coaching stability, location, tradition, money, SEC-ness – probably the most important to sustained success is player development & talent replenishment. The reason programs like Alabama, LSU, Stanford, Oregon, OSU, etc. have been successful recently is that the depth charts usually remain pretty flush with talent year over year. Sure, you’ll see holes pop up here and there as recruits flame out or unexpected attrition occur, but for the most part good teams stay that way because when you graduate one all-conference performer there’s usually a guy or two behind him to fill in those shoes.
If you take a look at the unofficial depth chart, you’ll notice there’s this massive wall of players for 2016 and 2017 crumbling to a handful of 2013 starters and regular contributors. This drop is less precarious on the defensive side than the offense, which makes sense given the coaching staff’s composition and their early focus when they took over, but it highlights the “blue-bloods”/“first-world problems” meme you see thrown around with consistently-great teams that, once upon a time, included UM.
A common refrain you hear from programs like Texas, OSU, UM, Alabama, OU, Oregon, etc. is that if they aren’t winning the conference and playing for the MNC/major bowl game, the season is a “disappointment” even if they win 9+ games. This inevitably drives other, less consistently successful teams crazy because it reeks of entitlement and a sense of superiority. While that is probably a part of it, the bigger reason is that these teams know they are so superior in talent compared to most of their competition that the band of variance for their season is relatively narrow; they’ll rarely lose more than 2-3 games a season because they probably only play 3-4 teams with comparable talent a year. Even with the odd upset, they’re not worried about making a bowl game or having a winning record unless something cataclysmic happens. Because they have depth, the natural ebb and flow from injuries and departures year-to-year is muted; the whole “we don’t rebuild, we just reload” refrain. That was never true under RR (I get into the lasting influence of his tenure below), and the later Carr years had their fair share of talent gaps that culminated in the Horror and the aftermath.
Hoke is obviously doing a great job replenishing the cupboard with top-notch talent, and I suspect that in a year or two the expectations for UM will return to their lofty heights. But if anyone thinks that there won’t be quite a few true/RS freshmen playing meaningful minutes this year, you’re going to be surprised. 8-5 is just as likely as 11-2 despite the seeming upward trajectory of the team in recent years.
Best: And in a Hurry!
This is a late addition given the events of the BBQ, but by gawd Hoke is doing work when it comes to skill position players, which was the last “real” concern people had regarding his recruiting acumen. In hindsight, his early focus on linemen and depth makes sense since a Denard-led offense should be able to score a reasonable number of points to hide many deficiencies on that side of the ball. But having already picked up some of the best RBs and WRs in last year’s class, he wasted no time grabbing some of the best WR, RB, and DB players early on for 2015. This won’t totally mitigate that gap between upperclassmen and the rest of the depth chart, but Hoke and co. are going to do their best to eradicate that issue with overwhelming force.
Best: We want people to pass?
After living through the weekly carpet-bombing by 5x Heisman Trophy winners like Ben Chappell, Scott Tolzien, and Chris Relf, the last thing I’d thought I’d be saying a couple years later is that the secondary looks like, if not a strength, at least an adequate part of the defense this year and one of the strengths of the team going forward. Taylor impressed me as the chief replacement for Countess after his own ACL injury (damn you Perry!), and veterans like Avery and camp surprise Hollowell should help fill in the gaps and limit the reliance on the younger talent. There definitely isn’t a Woodson, Hall, or Jackson in the backfield, but the corners should be able to stick with enough receivers on the schedule that teams will have to at least earn those long completions.
Best/Worst: Come On B1G
It has been discussed on this board many times before, but looking around the conference I’m not seeing any teams poised to make the leap up in competition. On one hand this should make UM fans happy; the Big 2, Little 10 situation pumps up the win totals. At the same time, when the third best team is either an in-transition Wiscy, a sanctioned PSU, or a meh MSU, it doesn’t speak highly of the strength of the conference and how it will be perceived when bowl selection and rankings roll around. I expect MSU’s defense to be one of the stronger units in the nation and for Wiscy and NW to continue to exceed their talent level, but you’d hope that “better than expected” wouldn’t be the ceiling for over half the teams in the conference.
So that’s it. Comment away below if you got this far, and tell me where I screwed up. I’m sure I did somewhere. John Navarre’s still the QB, right? Go Blue!
This feature highlights some of the more famous personalities here at MGoBlog and beyond. Without pulling back the infamous veil of blog anonymity, we’ll get to know some of your favorite posters better and possibly shed some light on their definition of why it’s so darn Great, To Be, A Michigan Wolverine.
CLICK HERE TO VIEW PREVIOUS EDITIONS OF MGOPROFILE
(Scroll down to the MGoProfile section of the User-Curated HOF).
SIX QUESTIONS WITH PURPLESTUFF
I like to think of him as MGoBlog’s own international man of mystery. He comes in, comes, hard, and then is out. He’s been here for many regimes, and been able to argue for all of them. Personal story, he was one of my first knockdown, drag out MGoFights. But quickly realized we have a hell of a lot more in common than any differences. I like to think he’s one of the most unique characters on the boards. And no one really knows who he really is. But now we can find out. Without further ado, PurpleStuff:
1. OK, I already have mods that think with me interviewing you, this is going to be the first MGoProfile to be censored, as it will obviously be the dirtiest. Let's not disappoint. What's the latest you've heard on the sexual tiger that is Les Miles?
Sadly, I think ole' Les is just about tuckered out. He's been around the block, and from his "lost years" living at the Mansion with Jimmy Caan to his legendary orgies on the set of "Golden Girls", he's seen it all (Little known fact: the first recorded use of the term MILF was by Les Miles in reference to Estelle Getty). I figure once all the Fanning girls and the cast of "Modern Family" reach the age of consent, he'll hang up his spurs and just concentrate on coaching football. At that time expect LSU to win five or six national titles in a row.
(EDITED FOR CONTENT INAPPROPIATE FOR BRIAN’S MOM)
Where do you think that sense of humor comes from, where the boundaries of good taste is a line tightly walked? And how do you walk it on MGoBlog? Because I don't think people realize how often you probably hold back and say...hmmm...maybe too much. (Or maybe that's just me).
I'm certainly dirtier in real life than I am on the Internet, so your instincts are sound. Really, I'm just trying to bring joy into the lives of strangers, much like this good Samaritan:
And to round it out- "PurpleStuff"....so is that as dirty as it sounds? Or is it just me? Or just you? What IS this purple-like substance?
Can't take credit for this one, I just hate Sunny D:
2. You seem to have taken a unique stance (at least at an earlier point than a lot of people) as a hardline defender of Rich Rod who even in the beginning never let that cloud your feelings against or for Hoke. At least coaching wise, you've been a strong defender of each. Without opening up the whys and hows and the who got screwed's, how did you balance the positives, the fresh take on each and not holding any resentments about one towards the other? I think most people have come around to that by now, but I think you were one of the first who were in die hard support of the last guy, but able to look at the new guy and see positives (not better or worse, just good in his own right).
First off, Coach Hoke is a loveable Teddy Bear. I don't think it is possible not to like him. As far as positives go, bringing along Al Borges was a big one for me (I remember his UCLA teams vividly and the guy knows how to coach a big play offense when the parts are in place). Obviously it is super early to evaluate the direction of the program, but the impact guys like Frank Clark and Raymon Taylor have made already is encouraging. Folks have freaked out a bit about some of our recent recruits, and I wouldn't be surprised to see them mistaken (Willie Henry > Ondre Pipkins, there I said it), but if Coach Hoke is at worst Lloyd Carr with a more inviting personality and an unlimited budget, then the program is on very solid ground. And jumping to the next question, it sucks balls having Rich Rodriguez in the same division as USC.
Hey, no peeking ahead! Alright. You also seem to have a team #2 in USC. I'm pretty sure you live out there...did you go to that school for a degree too (in addition to Michigan)? And how does that work in the Rose Bowl? Some people with cross degrees root for one or the other, some root for both...give us some insight into being a part of two schools that don't particularly like each other (athletically), because I'm sure you're not alone in that arena. How does being a Michigan fan work with your USC friends?
You're right, I went to law school at USC. Love both schools immensely. Michigan is always #1 when the two meet though, and I've had a couple sad rides home from the Rose Bowl as a result. Never had a problem with my Trojan friends, though that could certainly change if we ever beat them. I do make my annual Vegas March Madness trip with a group of SC buddies, and they did seem a tad alarmed this year by my repeated pelvic thrusts whenever Mitch McGary threw one down against mediocre mid-major competition. But they were quite pleased when Trey Burke dashed the dreams of the chubby girls from Kansas who refused to have an "Eyes Wide Shut" style orgy with us.
I've never really understood the hate some UM folks show towards SC (or vice versa), especially considering how rarely we play them. Obviously losing sucks, but the schools have way more in common than they have differences.
So a law degree….guess that leads into the “What do you do for a living now?” question…
3. What do you like to do for fun?
I could say gourmet meals, fine wine, and great works of literature, but all that shit is just a distraction between football games.
4. I’m sure that’s a position that’s completely relatable on MGoBlog. Describe the perfect meal.
Seared NY strip steak with a nicely charred crust and a beautiful medium rare interior. Washed down with a nice Malbec or Chateaunuf-du-Pape.
5. I think you’ve just classed up the next “What are you drinking?” thread. Can you explain why you are a Michigan fan?
I think once you move into the dorms and hear the band practicing The Victors out your window it is impossible not to be hooked.
6. Who’s your all-time favorite Wolverine?
He's not quite there yet, but I'm pretty sure it is going to be Nik Stauskas by the time he graduates. One game remotely like the one he had against Florida and I'll fall in love forever.
So if nothing else, I’m pretty sure you didn’t know Purplestuff likes dreamy Canadians. (But then, really, who doesn’t?) But that’s PurpleStuff, a unique vision on the Blog. Much like the fine wines he drinks, it’s an acquired taste that gets richer over time. And I certainly don’t think he disappointed with his original take on how to answer the questions here. But we have a lot of unique characters, and so little time before the season starts. So keep your eyes on this spot for more coming soon; same Bat-Time, same Bat-Channel!
A number of times I have had questions about who coached what position at Michigan, and I have seen others on here with similar questions. Because of that, I have put together the beginnings of a spreadsheet giving a year by year look at who coached various position groups. I say beginnings because there are a number of blank spots, and I haven't even attempted to figure out who coached what before 1969. My hope is that this can be improved on by others and potentially, even added to the site (e.g. similar to the editable depth chart) if the format works, and it's deemed worthy. Here is a link to the google doc:
I have gathered this information from MGoBlue.com, Wikipedia, Rivals, various coaches' profile pages, and old media guides. There is also this somewhat helpful resource on MGoBlue that lists the coaches year by year, but fails to finish the job by including their respective positions.
A Note on Formatting
This process got a little dicey when it came to the offensive line, defensive line, and linebackers. Often the coaching responsibilities for the various parts of these positions are divided. In some cases, I found two coaches listed for the same position, but no indication of who coached what portion of that position. Because more information is needed, I listed both coaches at both positions with a "/" between them. For example, in 1991 both Offensive Tackles and Interior Offensive Line are listed with Les Miles/Jerry Hanlon.
In other cases, I found evidence that a coach was only in charge of one aspect of a position. For example, Bob Chmiel coached the Inside Linebackers from 1981-84, but I never found anything about who coached the Outside Linebackers from that time.
Finally, if a coach was listed as the "linebackers coach" I put his name in both categories.
The Special Teams coach can get really confusing. For 2006, I found evidence that the position was handled by at least three different coaches. Until there is better information, I have elected to leave that blank. However, this might be more common than I realize, and maybe that position should also be broken up into more distinct categories.
I was hoping for a few anecdotes to add here, but everything I came across was pretty straight forward. The most interesting thing I found was how in years gone by it seemed more common for coaches to switch from one side of the ball to the other. Gary Moeller is a prime example.
He came with Bo in 1969 and coached the defensive ends. He then moved up to defensive coordinator in 1973 before becoming the head coach at Illinois. He came back to Michigan in 1980 as the quarterbacks coach, and then again became the defensive coordinator in 1982. After five seasons in that position, he moved back to the offensive side of the ball as coordinator for three seasons, and from what I understand, retained that position even after he became head coach in 1990.
I think like players, coaches have become more specialized over the years. We would probably all be shocked if Mattison retired, and Borges was named the new defensive coordinator. I suspect that the further back you go, coaches stuck to one side of the ball less often, and the lines become more blurred between who coached what position.
I welcome all updates, additions, or corrections to this file.
This feature highlights some of the more famous personalities here at MGoBlogand beyond. Without pulling back the infamous veil of blog anonymity, we’ll get to know some of your favorite posters better and possibly shed some light on their definition of why it’s so darn Great, To Be, A Michigan Wolverine.
CLICK HERE TO VIEW PREVIOUS EDITIONS OF MGOPROFILE
(Scroll down to the MGoProfile section of the User-Curated HOF).
SIX QUESTIONS WITH CHUNKUMS
If for some reason you don’t know him (and really, you should), you certainly know him by his work. If there’s any animated gif you loved, or that has become legendary on MGoBlog, there’s a really good chance Chunkums did it. (And it’s a perfect way to pay tribute for you to post your fav in the comments below…and Chunkums was nice enough to even give you a link without me prompting him so you can find them easily: http://s1190.photobucket.com/user/chunkums/library/?sort=3&page=1). In fact, no less than your humble correspondent owes his “face” to Chunkums, because my avatar was his design too. Almost a throwaway. But his throwaways are better than a lot of people’s greatness. I actually had to double check to make sure this profile hadn’t already been done; it surprised me that he had slipped by. But no more – for your pleasure, I present Chunkums:
1. Let's not ignore the pooping Hoke in the room.....where do you come up with these ideas for the gifs, both regular and animated? Does inspiration just strike you, or is it something you work on?
The gifs really started with the Carlos Brown Pokemon one. I was watching the 2009 Illinois game at a sports bar, and after they sent out Carlos I was just kind of scratching my head. The first time they bashed him into the line I thought, well that wasn’t very effective. Then they did it again and surprise, it wasn’t effective again…and then again. At that point, I joked about it with my family, and the Pokemon thing just popped into my head. When this happened, I had GIMP but wasn’t really sure how to make a gif, so I spent a really long time figuring it out. Regarding the inspiration for other ones, I guess I just have a weird mind. Maybe the teacher in me sees the symbolism or something. I’m not really sure about that. I do know that I get much more inspired to gif away when I have papers to grade. I call it productive procrastination.
Some of them come up at an astounding rate after the meme starts (though sometimes with improvements as time goes on); are you really computer savvy in real life, or are these things really simple to do and the rest of us are stupid and uncreative?
I’m pretty computer savvy, and spend a good amount of my free time online. With that said, I am no programmer or anything like that. When I first started making gifs they took hours to complete because I didn’t really know the process. Like I said, that Pokemon gif took a good deal of time, but I could probably make something like that in about 10-15 minutes now. A great deal of that has been my comfort with GIMP, and some of it has been the technology that’s come out as well. The video game ones are easy because of the low frame rate that’s required to make them. Ones that are based on actual video, however, are still a bit of a doozy. First, there’s the screen capture portion that has to take place, where I convert the video into a gif. I used to do that with GOMplayer, but have recently discovered gifcam. And of course, when someone like Ace makes the gifs, that takes a step out. After capturing the gifs comes the part where I edit the individual frames. I’ve gotten much better at doing this over the years, but editing a complex gif is time consuming. I guess what I’m saying is that LSUfreak puts in a LOT of time on his artwork. Some of his stuff must involve editing hundreds of frames.
So we’re too lazy AND stupid. Got it. Do you have a favorite of all your creations, or are they like your babies, and you love them all? (Even a couple that stand out).
A favorite? Oh man, I don’t know about that. I really like them when I make them, but looking back at the old ones, some of them are just… bad. The Final Fantasy one, which was probably my most well-known gif, was just poorly edited in retrospect. To add to that, some of the most time consuming ones either didn’t turn out well or just didn’t get received well. For example, I spent a lot of time on Hoke drinking Dantonio’s milkshake, but that one just got buried. The Incredible Hokewas similar in that regard. Here are some of my other children who got buried: Here Here Here
2. So...."Chunkums"....what is that all about? Is there some inside reference no one would get, or is it secretly your masterpiece?
Chunkumsis just kind of a dumb little thing I thought up when I was playing Perfect Dark with my friends in my freshman year of high school. I’m not particularly attached to it, and was actually going to change it. Once the gifs started getting popular, I just figured it would be weird to change at that point.
3. True, then you end up with some guy with an Asian symbol getting credit for all of the MGoVideos (RIP). You seem to have a pretty hard-line stance against endless complaining about all things Michigan. Without starting a huge battle on such a joyous occasion, what's your view on the state of Michigan Athletics right now?
I guess I just don’t get caught up in all of what I think as the minutiae of Michigan football culture. For instance, I just do not care about uniformz at all. I think if the boys walked out in pink tank tops with gumballs for shoulder pads and long grass for pants, I would still see it as Michigan football, and would still enjoy the game. At the end of the day, I like the sports, and I hope the kids enjoy playing the sports. All the things like piped in music, uniformz, etc don’t bother me. Frankly, if they get the students and/or the athletes more involved and excited, I’m all for them. After all, college is for them in my opinion. Regarding the state of Michigan athletics, I’m pretty happy right now. Michigan seems to have a great football coach with strong values, and a basketball coach who has similarly great values, and who just led the team to the national championship. I hope all the other sports excel, and I support their continued existence, but I would be lying if I said I knew anything about them. Regarding Brandon, I think he’s been a revelation. He hired Hoke, has supported Belein, and seems to want Michigan to do great things. I don’t really see an issue with his desire to accrue money for the department. Then again, I don’t see alternate uniforms as a bastardization of what Michigan stands for. My degree still says Michigan on it.
4. I tend to agree, but if they come out this fall in pink tank tops with gumballs for shoulderpads, we’re both in trouble. So you recently finished a stint as a Marine. I always like to give some credit to our men (and women) in service, so what exactly did you do there?
I went to boot camp the day after I graduated high school, and got back three days before classes started at Michigan. After that, I served my time in the reserves, somehow never deploying during college. In 2009, however, I did get called up, serving a tour in Iraq as a squad leader in a combat engineer platoon. We mostly did construction, but did quite a bit of reconnaissance as well, measuring roadways and bridges. We went on many, many convoys, cruising around a decent chunk of Iraq, so the IED threat was always there. Fortunately, by the time I got to Iraq most of the violence (aimed at us at least) had slowed down significantly.
Sounds scary enough. Thanks for your service. What do you do for a living now?
Right now I teach high school, and I love it. I haven’t been on MgoBlog as much in the last year because I was bumped up to full time, and because I’ve been very involved with coaching, among other things. With that said, as I mentioned earlier, a decent amount of my gifs come into creation when I am swamped with essays. It’s a nice little form of procrastination. For the sake of my anonymity, I’ll leave it at that though. I’m sure I have students who read this blog.
What do you like to do for fun?
I’m a very big fitness nut, and I would say that’s probably my primary source of entertainment. I’m very into Crossfit, and while it’s torturous at first, I’ve really gotten hooked. I just ran the Tough Mudder a couple weeks ago, and enjoyed that quite a bit. Aside from fitness, I’ve been known to occasionally play my Xbox360, and I consider myself a bit of a beer connoisseur. Honestly though, during the school year finding time for outside entertainment is a rare thing.
5. Describe the perfect meal.
To me, the perfect meal is medium rare prime rib with garlic mashed potatoes, and a Founders Backwoods Bastard to drink. It doesn’t get too much better than that. Do I get an appetizer too? If so, some sort of loaded potato thing with copious amounts of cheese and bacon.
6. Mmmmm, that sounds pretty good to me. Can you explain why you are a Michigan fan?
I grew up a Michigan fan because my dad went there for law school, but I was never really much of a football fan until I was actually at the school. I was doing what a lot of freshmen do, and mostly going home on weekends at the start of the semester; but that changed with the 2004 MSU game. That game essentially transformed me into a rabid football fan, and made my trips home much less frequent.
Who’s your all-time favorite Wolverine?
I know it’s cliché and recent, but Denard for sure. He was just so much fun to watch. Also, with my limited amount of time that I’ve been paying attention, the pool of choices is small. Denard’s personality helps, but ultimately it was the “DID YOU JUST SEE WHAT HE DID!?” factor that makes me pick him.
So Chunkums, everybody. I hope next time you upvote one of his genius creation to 5, you think about the guy behind it and not just think of the various substances coming out of butts. Because I can say with great confidence there’s a lot more to Chunkums than butts. (Uh, you know what I mean). Thanks to him for participating, and letting us get to know another MGoBlog staple a little more closely. Not sure what we would do without him. Laugh a whole lot less, for sure. This entry was a little light on graphics, because I now expect YOU to provide them. Keep your eyes on this spot for more coming soon; same Bat-Time, same Bat-Channel!
(And yes, I know that’s not six questions, but I’m keeping his style so it’ll always be a tip of the hat to SIX Zero)