this may be of some local interest
Born in 1927, Johnny Orr grew up during the Great Depression(1929-WWII). His father was a coal miner. As a senior in high school, Orr would lead the Taylorville Tornadoes to the first undefeated season in the history of Illinois high school basketball.
Taylorville's #43 Johnny Orr
He played basketball, football, and baseball for the University of Illinois before joining the Navy for the tail end of WWII. Orr played a short stint for the pre-NBA(BAA) St. Louis Bombers and Waterloo Hawks before he started working his way up through the high school coaching and assistant coaching ranks. In 1963 Orr was selected as head coach at UMass(ytUMass) whom Orr led to a 39-33 record over 3 years. Shortly thereafter he was hired as an assistant by very sussessful University of Michigan head coach Dave Strack. In 1968 Strack’s attention turned towards the business end of basketball(he resigned as head coach), and Orr was named head coach.
That's Orr to the right of President Ford
In his twelve years as head coach at the University of Michigan, Orr amassed two Big Ten Championships,
Two Big Ten Coach of the Year Awards,
one Championship appearance (they lost to an undefeated Indiana team in ’76,
but the appearance earned Orr National Coach of the Year honors) and Michigan finished first in AP and UPI rankings the following year. Orr remains Michigan’s “winningest” coach with 209 wins and 113 losses(65%).
Then after the ’79 season, Orr got a call from Iowa State’s athletic director. The Cyclones had hit a tough patch(a very long one), and Iowa State’s beautiful 15,000 seat Hilton Coliseum
sat largely empty. They wanted to hire Orr’s assistant, Bill Frieder to lead them out of their 35 year tournament drought, and they were willing to break the bank to get him.
Orr and Frieder
Remember, son of a coal miner, grew up during the Great Depression. When Orr saw that they were going to pay Frieder $45,000 a year base salary(Orr was making $33k at Michigan) he decided to take the job himself. With radio and television shows and a basketball camp, Orr became the “highest paid college basketball coach in America”.
Orr turned a miserable Iowa State program into a respectable one, earning 6 NCAA Tournament births and 218 wins in his 14 years as Iowa State head coach. He coached several NBA players, namely Jeff Hornacek(of the Phoenix Suns and Utah Jazz)
as well as Iowa State’s current coach, Fred Hoiberg.
Mostly, Orr brought excitement(and crowds) back to Ames, Iowa and the Hilton Colliseum. They have earned a reputation as giant killers on their own court(namely #3 Missouri in ’89,
a 39 game home winning streak ending in 02, and a 22 gamer ending last year) inspiring the term “Hilton Magic”. It’s widely considered to be one of the country’s toughest venues to win in.
Michigan will play in front of 15,000 at that very location taking on the Iowa State Cyclones on November 17. This will be Michigan’s first road game, and one monster test for Derrick Walton and the Michigan Wolverines as they move past the Trey Burke era.
When last we met: Two years ago Jordan Morgan exploded for 16 points on 7-10 shooting to defeat the cyclones 76-66 in Crisler Arena.
Hardaway had 19 points, Burke had 13, and Zack Novak pulled down 11 rebounds. Royce White(formally Houston Rockets and now Philadelphia 76’ers) went for 22 and 13, and Chris Allen(former Spartan) scored 11 points and dropped 5 dimes. Just for nostalgia’s sake, Evan Smotrycz had 8 points and 7 boards in 22 Minutes.
You are missed Evan.
Last year Iowa State defeated Notre Dame to advance to the 3’rd round of the NCAA tournament, losing by a last second Aaron Craft 3 pointer to Ohio State.
The Cyclones went 23-12(11-7 Big 12) beating #13 Oklahoma State and #11 Kansas State(both at home).
Exactly two of the players Michigan faced in 2011 are still on the team. 6-6 Forward Melvin Ejim played 19 Minutes against the maize and blue and went 0-5 with two turnovers.
Last year as a junior he nearly averaged a double double with 11 points and 9 rebounds.
6-1 Guard Bubu Palo played 14 minutes against Michigan and scored 4 points with 2 turnovers.
This was likely the high point of his career. He missed most of his redshirt sophomore year with a broken wrist, and most of his redshirt junior year while he was fighting sexual abuse charges(which were dropped).
All four of Iowa State’s guards(4 of their 6 core players) ran out of eligibility in the offseason. MSU castoff point guard Korie Lucious
They made Payne and Appling CAPTAINS…what could he possibly have done to get kicked off the team?
took his 10 points(6 of them from deep at 37%) and 6 assists to…Yeah, I don’t care either. How do all these guys end up at Iowa State anyway? At any rate, he gone. 6-7 guard Will Clyburn
(15pts 7rebounds). He gone. 6-2 sharp shooter Tyus McGee
(13 points, 9 of them from downtown at a ridiculous 46%). Gone. 6-5 lock down defender Chris Babb
(9pts, 6 of them from deep at 35%) You guessed it. Gone.
Aside from Mel Ejim, their only real returning contributor is 6-7 super sophomore forward
Georges Niang who kicked in 12 points and 5 boards as a rookie.
So how do they replace all that production? They start by robbing the mid-majors blind. Former Marshall star DeAndre Kane brings his 15 points and seven assists over from the Thundering Herd. Cyclone fans are hoping his shot selection has improved for his year of graduate school eligibility.
They also recruited a great four star 6-3 shooting guard named Matt Thomas.
He’s regarded as one of the best pure shooters in his class, and much like our own Nik he’s “not just a shooter”. Reportedly he has a good handle and passing skills too. They also brought in a couple of familiar faces. Four star 6-2 pure passing point guard Monte Morris
Why do I hear Sam Webb's voice every time I see his name?
out of Flint brings his great handle and iffy jumper to Ames. Three Star Detroit Pershing Doughboy(miss you Deshawn) 6-4 athlete Sherron Dorsey-Walker
comes off his redshirt season. Cyclone fans hope he is ready to drive and defend.
Michigan will obviously be breaking in some new players themselves. And Iowa State returns a lot of their rebounding from a squad that outperformed their opponents by 4 boards a game last year. But for Iowa State to defeat the Wolverines this year Matt Thomas is going to have to have the game of his life. Maybe they’ve had some shooters hiding on the bench these last few years, but from what I can tell they may have a hard time spreading the floor. With McGary, GRIII, Morgan, Horford and even Bielfeldt
this is the deepest, most talented and dynamic Michigan frontcourt we’ve seen since Chris and Juwan. I don’t know that the Cyclones will have an advantage at any position on the court. However, Iowa State remains a division 1 team with some young talent playing at home in one of the toughest venues in America so…
Prediction based on some notes I scribbled on a napkin:
Michigan 74, Iowa State 70
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 BLOCKM
Not every MGoBlogger is “that guy.” You know what I’m talking about….the “charts guy” or the “coaches guy” or the “band guy” or the “I played for Bo guy” and so on. A lot of us are just guys. Guys who know and love Michigan football and other sports. Some went to school, others were just smart enough to realize there really isn’t anything better than Michigan. One of the most prominent for many years has been the guy with the big caterpillar with the block M as an avatar. Fittingly enough, BlockM. But here’s what you didn’t know about him:
1. Long time member, tons of points, been through all the eras; what do you see your role on MGoBlog to be?
My role has evolved quite a bit over time. Most of my points were accrued during my first two or three years of posting by making jokes, and hopefully I'm still capable of making someone laugh every once in a while yet. I was hooked from the moment I posted a picture of a beached whale with the caption, "Hey guys, I found Charlie Weis" or something like that and it earned me 100 mgopoints. My obsession with climbing the leaderboard probably led to a huge number of failed attempts at humor, and I apologize to everyone for that.
Now that I've graduated from that phase (online at least...), I try to be a voice of reason than anything else. I don't post as often, mostly because I don't have any football or sports insight to provide considering my crowning athletic achievement was winning our area middle school basketball championship. Full disclosure: I was the only third stringer on a team of 11 players, and we had an eventual Michigan Mr. Basketball taking the ball up the court, so I didn't do much. Often I'll chime in if I feel like comments are excessive in their vitriol, especially if it's aimed at a player on either team.
2. Hey, The Team, The Team, The Team, amiright? One of my pet interests, you have a readily distinctive avatar...I don't think we need to explain what it is, but what made you pick it?
I wish there was some awesome story behind it but what it really comes down to is that a roommate and I were bored on a weeknight, had a couple drinks, and watched Monsters vs. Aliens. For some reason, the noise this creature makes throughout the whole movie was the funniest thing we'd ever heard. I happened to be clicking through MGoBlog while watching and the rest is history. Don't drink and internet kids, this is what happens. I've thought about changing it, but every once in a while someone will comment on how they got a kick out of it, and I don't have any better ideas, so it's probably here to stay.
3. Well, people can judge for themselves. I have people asking - Ultra-MGoBoard, where does it currently stand? (And going in the way back machine....anything still going on with that UFR database?)
The UFR database, at least as far as my attempt at it is concerned, is dead. I'm a smidge OCD when it comes to having complete datasets, so the fact that Brian is unable to stomach UFRing losses to OSU and bowl games at times made it hard for me to keep interest. I knew that even if I did everything perfectly, it would still have those massive holes, so it couldn't actually answer any of the questions like "How many times did we run an inside zone last year?" Also, each season the format of the UFRs changed a bit, so a whole new parsing script was required. The fact that I was interning at NASA in Mountain View that summer didn't really make me want to sit inside and write Python code either...
While I haven't touched Ultra-MGoBoard in a couple of years, I'd be more than happy to spend some time working on it if there are requests for improvement. It was really just something I put out there because I found it useful. I think I built it during the Rich Rod/Brady Hoke transition, and it was mainly to allow me to completely hide posts I didn't feel like seeing. I also love the fact that I can have posts by people that have identified themselves as fans of other teams come up in their team's colors, or posts by women come up in a different color, because it allows you to immediately understand a bit more about their perspective (and use appropriate pronouns). I've actually brought up that project in a couple of interviews, so it was worthwhile regardless of whether or not anyone finds it useful.
I’m not sure I understood anything you said. You seem to have a lot of technical knowledge, whether programming, computers, etc....is it your passion, your professional, or all of the above?
A bit of both. I try to explain my feelings on the subject by saying that I don't love to code, I love what coding allows you me do. I'm not a brilliant programmer, but I get excited by the challenge of having a goal and bending code to my purposes whether I'm using it correctly or not. I went to Calvin College, and eventually U-M for engineering/computer science, so I've had most of the formal training, but a large portion of the code I "write" comes straight off of Google. I'm constantly thinking, "I have this goal, and I know for a fact that someone else has solved this problem before and put it on the internet for me to use for free, so I'm going to do that instead of trying to recall syntax." I'm an applications engineer at the moment, so someone decided that my skills were good enough to pay me for them, but I get the most excitement out of talking to the end users, finding out what they want, and showing them that the technology we have is capable of giving them what they asked for and more. Coding is just my method of getting there.
4. What do you do for a living now?
I work in IT at Steelcase as an applications engineer. I'm on the manufacturing systems team, and we manage all of the back-end data from the time an order is entered to when it ships. Most of my time is spent building web services, web applications, and mobile applications that allow users to view and access that data.
A couple cool story bros of note:
· Our CEO, Jim Hackett, actually played center for Bo in the mid-70s. He's got photos and books about Michigan football in his office here at the global headquarters. There's also a gigantic press break machine out in one of our plants that's painted blue with the winged helmet pattern on each of its columns along with his number, 53. I have a photo of it somewhere, but I can't find it at the moment.
· I was able to head down to Chicago for the contract furniture industry's big expo called NeoCon this year, and while I was leaving the Steelcase showroom I noticed that Dave Brandon was being shown around by some of our executives. I know U-M has a lot of Steelcase furniture scattered across campus, including the athletic department, so it's cool to see them checking out our new products.
I can’t say I remember watching him play, but I have heard of Hackett. So yes, a real CSB. What do you like to do for fun?
I spend some time helping out with the middle school youth group at my church, which is always a blast. A few of the kids love Michigan sports, and their perspectives are always fantastic, usually something along the lines of, "DID YOU SEE WHAT TREY BURKE DID LAST NIIIIIGHT?!"
Beyond that, I live with friend that runs a local golf-oriented non-profit that can get me on the course for free occasionally, so I take advantage of that. I love getting out and doing a 20 mile loop on my bike on a Saturday morning, and I'll go for a run if I'm feeling particularly ambitious. I also tend to binge watch TV shows when I find one I really like. Between Arrested Development, Dexter, House of Cards, and Game of Thrones I've been spoiled lately, and I'm already shaking with excitement for the final season of Breaking Bad.
5. Describe the perfect meal.
My answer might have been different before I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes a couple of years ago. Unfortunately since I've had to start keeping track of my carb intake "cake and more cake and ice cream" doesn't work as a meal anymore unless I want to put myself in the hospital.
At the moment, my perfect meal is a tray of tacos from a tiny, dirty looking spot in Grand Rapids called La Taqueria San Jose. If you like tacos and you're ever in the area, check it out. It doesn't look like much from the outside, but their chorizo or al pastor tacos are to die for, come with onions, cilantro, and a few different house salsas on two perfectly fried corn tortillas. I'll usually order four, be completely full, and still wish I had another four to try to cram in. In a perfect world, I'd have a beer from any of the number of phenomenal breweries around town in my hand, but I haven't had the opportunity to combine those two pleasures yet.
6. Ann Arbor is finally getting some decent taco joints, but the finer Mexican restaurants are still hit and miss.
Can you explain why you are a Michigan fan?
My dad. That's the short answer and the long answer. I'm blessed to have been raised by the human being I respect most in this world and he loves Michigan, so I do too. Some of my favorite moments from my childhood are from watching games on the couch in our basement with him and seeing this normally calm and even-keeled person just explode out of his seat during a long touchdown run screaming, "GO! GO! GO! YESSSSSSSSSS!" I've only been to a few games with him, but I think the first was against Rice. I'm sure the score was lopsided, but it didn't matter.
I was able to get him a ticket in the student section for the last OSU home game, and being able to celebrate with him and my brother after breaking that streak of losses will always be one of my most cherished memories. Thankfully we took a moment to capture the emotion, and my two wonderfully artistic younger sisters surprised me with this at Christmas, which includes all of my home tickets (all wins, obviously) from the season:
A picture of the picture doesn't come close to doing it justice, but I think it gets the point across.
As good a reason as we’ll find. Who’s your all-time favorite Wolverine?
I'm sure someday twenty years from now there will be an MGoProfile where Denard Robinson isn't mentioned here, but it won't be today. Even with his flaws on the football field, I've never had as much fun watching someone do what they love as Denard. Say what you want about his passing skills or lack of ability to hear me screaming "TUCK IT AND RUN!" from my couch, but if you told me we'd go between 8-4 and 10-2 every year, but we'd have a guy that was so easy to root for and could plant his foot and disappear in a cloud of turf pellets like Denard, I'd take it in a heartbeat as long as we're beating OSU and MSU.
BlockM, ladies and gents. It’s guys (and the occasional gal) like this who make MGoBlog what it is, and so great to come here over and over. And really, what makes it great to be a Michigan fan. If everyone on the Internet was a BlockM, we’d be doing alllllriggghhttt (best Freddie J. drawl). Only a few more weeks till the season starts, so this might be a wrap for this off-season of MGoProfiles. If a couple of things percolating come to a boil, there might be one more, but I hope you've enjoyed this run of Profiles. Thanks to Six Zero, for coming up with this great way to put some "faces" out there from behind the avatars; the profilees (is that a word?) who really do all the work, and make this interesting, and the readers who take the time to read this and get to know each other better, and respond to it. There could be a hundred weeks in the off season, and I still don't think we would get through all the interesting characters on MGoBlog. So don't fret, keep posting, because you may be next! Go Blue!
DOWNS AND SUCCESS: THE MICRO-LEVEL VIEW
NOTE: The scales on charts will vary - apologies in advance.
Inspired partially by a suggestion made in the last Dear Diary, I’ve decided to extend this series one more entry. This time, I am going with the micro-level view, using in-game differentials and tracking these with point differentials from game to game. The sample I chose, just to see if there is anything going on within the numbers, is Michigan’s in-game stats from 2005-2012.
The method for calculating that differential was the same as in the previous entry – the offensive conversion rate minus the defensive (opponent’s success) rate. The point differential would then be simply Michigan’s total points minus the opponent. The idea was to see if they tracked together and, if so, how close is the relationship.
As it turns out, it is reasonably close – for the sample, the R-value came out to be 0.728, so there is a decided correlation between the two variables. It was at this point that I decided to embark on a smaller side comparison of first down differential (Michigan’s total 1stdowns minus opponent first downs) and also compare these to point differentials. I only did this for three seasons, but for that small sample, the R-value was 0.653, so although it is a weaker relationship, there is still a relationship here.
A LITTLE SUMMARY DATA:
First, here are the average differentials for each season studied and the average point differential:
AVG. 3RD DOWN DIFFERENTIAL
AVG. POINT DIFFERENTIAL
For the entire sample of 101 games, the overall average differential for Michigan was 5.62% and the average point differential was 5.69. The standard deviations were 22.45% and 20.16 points respectively. Interestingly, the median value is 2.82% for the 3rddown differential and the median point differential is actually 4.00.
Second, here is a table which shows how many games in each of the eight seasons had a negative differential versus how many had a negative point differential. Actually, I left that in the table header because it is perhaps an excellent jargon term for a loss.
“We didn’t lose, but merely achieved a negative point differential.”
If only I had thought about this in 2008. Anyway, here’s the table:
GAMES WITH NEGATIVE 3rd DOWN DIFF.
GAMES WITH NEGATIVE POINT DIFF. (LOSSES)
The 2011 and 2012 numbers stood out to me, and in the last diary, someone pointed out the strange decoupling of differential and win percentage in this period for Michigan actually. In these tables, you can see just what that looked like. The average 3rddown differential went up from the previous year, but the average point differential fell. We only lost the battle of 3rddowns three times but lost five games. Indeed, in the 2011 season, we lost the battle of 3rddowns five times but only lost two games.
THIRD DOWN DIFFERENTIAL / POINT DIFFERENTIAL CHARTS:
FOR GIGGLES - FIRST DOWN DIFFERENTIAL / POINT DIFFERENTIAL (only for 2010-2012):
Essentially, this is testing the usefulness / limitations of this particular metric as a predictive tool, but doing so at the level of the games in the season and not just season averages. I like to think that it is reasonably useful if not always accurate.
Welcome to the 2013 Michigan Football season! For the past several years now, I have written the lyrics to a Song for the Season, beginning in the RR era, when it was especially meaningful and poignant to have something to liven up the approaching unknown.
Now, though? Now everything is just way too much fun to be too meaningful and poignant. So, I present to you this year's Song for the Season, 2013.
Michigan's Back (To the Tune of Sir Mix-A-Lot's "Baby Got Back)
I like deep threats and I cannot lie
Al Gorgeous Borges can't deny
When a reciever runs in a deep ball race
with a Touchdown in his face
He has fun! Wanna make the o-line tough
So the runners don't get stuffed, deep in the offense backfield
Make that defense bend and then yield.
You know he wants to run through ya,
Got D. Green, Boo-yah!
Those boxes, the defense will stack up
Got Gardner to make 'em back up!
Ooh, six foot five tight ends
You say, "When will it end?"
Well Run up, Run up,
Cause Borges don't like to sum up.
See OSU sweatin'
See Lil' Brother forgettin'
Got it goin' like a turbo 'Vette
I'm tired of ESPN
Sayin' SEC is the beginning and end.
Take the average Michigan Man and ask him that
We gotta have a bull-rush back.
So Fan Base? (Yeah!) Said Fan Base? (Yeah!)
Has your offense got deep threats? (Hell Yeah!)
Tell 'em to run it! Throw deep!
Light up that scoreboard now!
I like that D-Line Big!
Those offenses feel like they 'been rigged!
Mattison can't help himself, bustin' with the swag.
Recrutin hard gettin jet lag.
Gotta get 'em to the house
And yeah, sign em up, yeah yeah,
I ain't talkin about recruting tips
Cause they do decommits in Minneapolis
We want 'em thick n' 5-starred
He'll find 'em starred and hyped.
If they're Purdues he'll get 'em swiped.
Ain't got no practice music piped.
I'm lookin' at M-Drill Videos,
Got O-Line and D-Line setup in rows.
Big Uglies keepin their pads low,
Pipkins and Kalis we stole from 'O".
A word to the LB's, Mattison will bring you the Bling-Bling,
Like Ray Lewis but without the Killing.
But I gotta be straight when he says you gonna hurt,
Gonna break you all the way down make you work.
Might think he's a jerk.
A lotta teams won't like this song
Cause them punks get hit, just quit.
Michigan Men rather stay and play
Cause they Michigan Strong
So Band take the field, go get on!
So Ladies? (Yeah!) Ladies? (yeah!)
Is your defense mad like rabies? (Hell Yeah!)
Then push 'em back! Hold the line!
Give 'em a place to stand!
Michigan's Back! When it comes to football, them Buckeyes ain't got nothin' over on Michigan. 3 Arrests in one Weekend? Ha-Ha! Only in Columbus!
Little Brother wants to know where's the threat,
Oh oh oh, how soon they forget.
The threat gotta five-star, rocket-armed jet.
Our defense don't wanna hear it,
without Bell, you'e lucky to run three and clear it.
You can come from Ames or Madison,
You ain't gonna win in Ann Arbor, son.
Some haterz can't face reality.
Tell you want you see ain't what you really see.
They whine and cry about Roundtree.
Darboh's got more there, you'll see.
Well DiNardo says we're young.
We ain't down with that, son.
Cause our QB says we a champion squad.
Gonna party in the quad,
When we bury Braxton Miller in the game.
Hello, Heisman? Ain't that a shame.
Give us MMB, and touch the banner.
Want another shot at Yellow Hammer.
Some Spartan whined and moaned.
Cause we got Bunyun, you got boned.
Night game? Friggin juggalos!
Buy some goddamn decent clothes!
So folks if your tailgate's set.
They're runnin up the fieldgoal net.
Pasadena, ready to recieve 'em.
Roses, oh baby we need 'em.
So, we are in the stadium, home of the Atlanta Falcons, with 75,000 other fans. I look for my Atlanta friend, but the seats she was in Saturday are empty. I text her, still outside fighting the crowd to get in.
Now we find our seats, in the upper deck, corner, about halfway up.
However, the view through the binoculars is perfect, taking in the whole court. A friend who was there Saturday had told me the sight lines were better than the United Center, where the Bulls play.
I look to my daughter and say I can't believe we made the title game. She says: “I can't believe I'm here!” with a big, parent satisfying grin.
And it is all over twitter that Webber is at the game. Just to continue to make it all about him, though, he does not sit with his four teammates. As my daughter says, whatever.
It seems there are more Louisville fans in the crowd, judging by wearing apparel. Not all of our fans wear maize, of course, but it seems that more than half the throng is wearing red.
The Louisville end zone is in front of us; ours at the opposite end. Our students act as they did at home games, standing througout, crowding to the court, so that the last few rows of seats were empty during the first half.
I am told the half-time performing bands used them for the second half.
Our noise making leads the elderly Kansas fans next to us to note that Michigan fans are really serious.
My great fear, the zebras, appears to materialize as Burke picks up two quick fouls, the second yet to be seen by anyone else. I feel impending doom. Disaster. A Louisville blowout.
Bad calls are made on both teams. When you can see a mid-court foul from my seat, without binoculars, it is impossible to conclude that the officials all missed it. That one would have been on Hardaway.
A friend texts that he does not think that the referees are in good enough shape to keep up with the players, so that they can be in position to actually see the game they are calling.
You could not disprove that theory by what I am seeing.
So, Burke sits. Spike shoots. And scores. And shoots and scores and shoots and scores and, you saw the game.
I raise my hands to the heavens like Ecstasy Guy. Yes, it is our destiny, clearly, nothing can stop us!
The half winds down. I figure we need to be ahead by at least ten.
Woops. The entire lead evaporates in a rain of Louisville threes. We just barely get back on top as the half ends.
The vibes are bad again. I remember leading Indiana in the 76 game at the half, still tied with ten minutes left, and, the end, losing by double digits.
I find my friend at halftime, take a picture, have a short visit. Her son is sitting in a different spot. I am sorry to miss him, a 16 year old survivor of Ewing's sarcoma, a virulent form of cancer.
The second half begins.
It is a battle of two heavyweights, exhanging blows, no quarter asked, none given.
I keep thinking Louisville will pull away, but they do not.
Then the play of the year, the Burke block at the far end of the court. Looked good to me live. Looked better on the replay.
The advantage of attending sporting events live is that you can look where you want. You are not bound by the director mandating shots of players' parents in the crowd.
I watch Burke, wander alone to the corner, looking away from the court.
He is pissed, I tell my daughter.
And rightly so. But he composes himself, and plays out the game, to the best of his ability.
As did all the players, on both teams. And the coaches.
I cannot remember another championship game like this, in any sport. No one ever seized the momentum and ran with it. Neither team was able to work its will on the other.
Disappointing result? Of course. It was meant to be. That is how I handle such things after decades of the ups and, more frequent, downs, cheering on the Maize and Blue.
Bad officiating? Blatantly, but that does not mean a perfectly called game would have mandated a different result.
With 3.9 seconds on the clock, my daughter and I look at each other and get up to leave. She has to punch in at the barn in Lexington in less than 8 hours, and it is 6 hours driving time.
The parking spot works to a charm; we seem to be in the first 15 vehicles leaving the stadium. And the road leads right to the freeway.
Erin is still up front next to me in the passenger seat. I call my friend who texted me to get his impressions from watching on TV.
A magnificent spectacle, he agrees.
The adrenaline is still going, for a while.
I stop for gas and a cappuccino and she takes up residence on the sleeping bags and pillows in the back of the mini-van.
Hmmmm. Maybe I should have pounded some 5 hour energy drinks.
Out of Georgia and back into the curving mountain roads of Tennessee. Which I do not remember. Oh, yeah, I was napping during this part of the trip down.
No lights on these roads either. Usually a semi truck or two is in sight.
Somewhere around 3:30 a.m., I pull off for a power nap.
Erin wakes me up about half an hour later, and off we go again.
After the next gas stop, I have her drive the last hour and a half or so. We are on schedule, and she is fully awake.
I am in the passenger seat and we chat about the hoop programs our our respective alma maters, Kentucky and Michigan.
She says the only player to graduate during Calipari's tenure was a holdover, who had promised his grandmother he would get a degree. He talks at post-game conferences about how some of his guys are not coachable. Well, why the hell should they be? They are just on a one year layover before they go pro. She is familiar with player attendance at classes, and not impressed.
The contrast with our coaching staff could not be more stark.
The team, the team, the team. Michigan Man values. Exposure to these beliefs is the benefit of having taken my girls to UM games since before they could talk.
Sports imitates life. You win some, you lose some. But how do you play the game?
As a parent, how do you get quality time with your kids?
I heartily recommend long road trips to Michigan sporting events.
Having exhausted the topic of basketball, she goes on to tell me her relationship with her bosses, the owners of the huge horse farm, the ladder to advancement, what she wants to do, and how she plans to get there.
This is the reason for my trip. To have that time, to check in on her life, to see how she is really doing.
Her sister lives in Detroit and I am blessed with frequent contact with that wonderful person.
I have not seen Erin since this trip. She will be up here this weekend, August 16.
She pulls in front of her house about 6:15 a.m. I go in to use the bathroom, but my dog allergies drive me back to the van for some sleep. I hear her “Thank you!” as she gets in her car to drive to work.
After some sleep, I drive home, arriving about 3:30 p.m., meaning that, except for 6 hours in Atlanta and pit stops, I have been in the mini-van for about 33 hours.
I would do it again in a heartbeat.
Now that college football season is nearly upon us, and wildly inspired by Cracked.com’s Sunday article, “The 5 Most Creative Acts of Insanity by Modern Dictators”, I couldn’t help but wonder if I could get my creative, historical snark on and write up a tome on similarly bat-shit college football coaches. After all, this a world where Bo Pellini, Les Miles and Wil Muschamp prowl the sidelines.
The amazing thing I learned in writing this diary is that a coach need not be named “GERG” to engage in motivational hilarity, and that our former Defensive Coordinator’s pep talk with a fur-covered hand puppet didn’t even make my Top 5 (though it might have been #6 since we were all left asking “What. The.F-ck?”). Neither did Rich Rodriguez’s use of YouTube and ten gallon hats and Josh Groban.
Google “insane college football coaches”, and you’ll get nearly 2.8 million hits, and not one of them will mention so much as a sock monkey (go ahead and check – I’ll wait).
#5 Brian Kelly Tries to Recreate That Scene from “Scanners”
You know the one I mean. Against a mediocre South Florida team in 2011, Notre Dame head coach, Brian Kelly, went all Bobby Knight after his team coughed up its third turn-over of the game. Now, I imagine that he was just reacting as most ND fans did at that moment, what with the Irish deep in Bulls territory and threatening to score, and all.
Still, Coach Kelly managed to put the “A” in “apoplectic”, nearly having a stroke on the sidelines that was captured and replayed by media talking heads far and wide for the next week and on opposing fan sites long after. There are MGoUsers who actually have the photo of the key moment as their avatars, and they’re probably not the only ones.
#4 Lane Kiffin Holds a Press Conference for the Recruit That Never Was
Back in World War II, the British made Mincemeat of the Nazis by staging an elaborate ruse that involved a real dead man, a fake identity, a submarine and a clown car (I’m finding the last bit difficult to confirm) in an effort to make the Germans believe the forthcoming Allied landings in Sicily were going to be anywhere but Sicily. Everyone who has ever head-faked their dog by pretend-throwing a Frisbee knows how the trick works. The Allies were delighted to find that Hitler was a lot more trusting than a retriever, who sent his army chasing a stick out near Malta while the Allies were invading Sicily.
Evidently taking a page from British history (or not, Lane Kiffin doesn’t strike me as the type to open a lot of books) the coach decided to stage a fake press conference for nine recruits to Tennessee in 2009. Unfortunately for him, that’s an NCAA violation.
But Coach Kiffin didn’t stop there.
Continuing with the “World War II” theme, the coach channeled Humphrey Bogart and the end of Casablanca by installing a fog machine to simulate a “game environment” for those same recruits, which is also an NCAA violation. No word on whether he was also thinking about adding a disco ball and the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack.
#3 Marshall Strength Coaches Think Kevin Bacon is a Pussy
Taking the term “hot seat” into uncharted territory, not only was the Omega house initiation apparently used as a how-to guide for motivating the Thundering Herd, but Marshall’s former staff upped the ante by lighting the paddles on fire.
With their breath.
Fortunately for Matthew McConaughey, none of the players on the business end seemed to enjoy lunches of double bean burritos and egg salad sandwiches. He’s done that movie once and his agent has probably insisted that he’s not interested in filming a We Are Marshall sequel, no matter how hot he is for January Jones.
#2 Woody Hayes Forgets That Size Does Matter
Speaking of wood, this story comes to us courtesy of Urbz himself, who claims he witnessed the event. I don’t normally speak ill of the dead but I’m making an exception in this case because Ohio State.
For those of you too creeped out to watch Urban Meyer (and who isn't?), I'll give you the gist of it. Evidently, Woody had advanced to that age where he no longer had a useful purpose for Little Woody, or at least one of the two that Nature most intended. So, just like in that heart-tugging ending from Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree, the old coach said “F- You!” to PETA, dug deep and pulled one out (of his pants).
After a humbling bowl loss, then-Buckeye head coach, Earle Bruce, asked Woody to come in and give a pep talk to the coaches on toughness. Immediately after berating the current staff on its lack of meddle, Hayes opened a box to reveal a snapping turtle, whipped his (apparently seldom used) baby maker out of his trousers, and demonstrated for Earle’s staff what a real man is capable of doing that they aren’t.
In case it’s not readily apparent what he did, I’ll let you use your imaginations or read the story yourselves. It hurts below my waistline to even write about it.
I feel awful for the turtle. Reptile or not, no species of plant or animal should have to do that for a Buckeye. And it got a poke in the eye for its troubles.
Thank God Bo didn’t bring every one of Woody’s lasting lesson with him to Ann Arbor.
#1 John L. Smith Tries to Get the Voices in His Head to Stop
What? You thought I wouldn’t remember this one?
In the raw vote (which I conducted solely inside my head) this episode of The Ball Coach Be Crazy Yo’ only finished second. But since this happened while he was still in the process of earning the Sparty No! Lifetime Achievement Award, and it was caught on camera by everyone, and it’s been replayed eleventy billion times, and he later went on to become some kind of Bat Shit Superhero at Arkansas, he’s earned the outright top spot in my list.
In doing the research for this story, I realized I could have written it as “Top 5 Reasons JLS is Insane”, but that would have been too easy. And it’s probably already been done.
As always, your mileage may vary.