Some people said some things after the NCAA basketball tournament that I wanted to address, that can also be extrapolated to the NC game today. A great number of people, especially from that Rural College Up North, began calling Michigan fans “Fair-weather fans,” because the basketball games have not been very high in attendance in recent memory. While some might agree, I have serious issue with this.
I will be honest, I have never enjoyed basketball as a sport. I was raised in an area where football reigned supreme, and everything else was secondary. Coming to Michigan back in 2005, especially with how basketball was back then during the Amaker era, reaffirmed those conceptions. Football was King. I’m not ripping on basketball; this is just a statement of fact.
During the most recent basketball season, I kept up with the team, but did not watch many of the games. My work schedule did not grant me many evenings or weekends to enjoy them. But when they were selected for the tournament, I was ecstatic. I ducked out of work to watch the Tennesse game, and was absolutely devastated by the Duke loss. Now the lay may call me a “fair-weather fan”, but I have a dissenting opinion.
While I do not go out of my way to watch basketball, I live for all things Michigan. Since I was a kid it was my dream to attend UM, and when I was accepted I could not have been more excited. I have a block “M” tattoo on my back, and I wear it with pride and honor. I am a fan of the University. I am a fan of every Wolverine out there, and will root for them to succeed in everything they do (barring the obvious, like This Guy). Rooting for the basketball team was not “becoming a fair-weather fan” but rather rooting for my alma mater, my peers, and friends. .
Even if you have never watched a hockey game in your life, I want everyone to root with all their might for this team. Root for the University of Michigan, its glory, tradition, history and future. Wear your colors proudly, and scream until you can’t scream anymore. Then scream some more. If you’re going to the game, scream louder.
These boys will be giving it their all in under 15 hours and every Michigan fan needs to do the same. Cheer, scream, celebrate, and if necessary, though I hope it won’t be, cry. Even if you don’t like hockey, remember you are cheering for something bigger than the sport, bigger than the University—you are cheering for history. Student athletes give so much effort and time and heart to the University of Michigan, and we owe them the same.
Go Blue, and let’s celebrate a National Championship tonight!
“Okay, boys. We have a one score lead. I want you to run up the middle three times and punt. We’ll play solid prevent, and then we’ll do it again, and again.”
As fans, we remember this as the most irritating trait of Coach Carr. His endless focus on reducing variance and stalling his way to wins was infuriating. We recall the many games against Tressel and our bowl opponents that this strategy cost us. We remember punting from the 40 on 3rd and 2. We remember that fourth quarter field goal when M was up only 3 that we just knew would come back to bite us.
What we forget is that in the years Lloyd had a satisfactory defense, it worked. It worked to the tune of an 88% winning percentage. It worked to the tune of 5 Big Ten titles and a National Championship. And it didn’t work because Lloyd was lucky. It worked because he knew exactly what he was doing. I mean, seriously, I assume that nobody who knows anything about college football would ever question whether Lloyd Carr had a plan. At times, certain coaches seem to be winging it, throwing things out there just to try to find a magic formula. Not Lloyd Carr. Even during losses, he was always in control.
Last night, the ghost of his coaching career possessed Red Berensen. Shawn Hunwick stopped 40 shots, and Michigan spent the final two periods of the game playing prevent. Defensemen flew all over the ice, clogging lanes and disrupting flow. When Michigan did obtain the puck, we made three rushes up the middle and punted, clearing the puck from about center ice and setting up the defense again and again.
“Make that lead hold up, boys! Drive them crazy!”
Just like a Lloyd coached game, UND had chances, and plenty of them. But what they got very little of was the break away, one on that makes goalies around the world wet themselves. Most of their good chances erupted from a pile of bodies, more of which were Maize and Blue than Green and White. But it was always in a pile of chaos that’s hard to take advantage of.
“We’re gonna out-execute them. No mistakes. Do it right every time.”
As fans, like so many Lloyd coached games we watched, a lead felt an awful lot like a deficit until a kid named Scooter buried an empty netter with 35 second to play. We spent most of the night screaming at the TV, “Cmon! Get it going on O! Get some shots! Generate some pressure!”
Red knew though, as Lloyd did, better than us. UND was, and is, an offensive juggernaut that will make you pay for your mistakes. But discipline, quality play and the refusal to make any of those mistakes will drive your opponent crazy. They continue to push, waiting for that moment when you dedicate four to their end and they can put out a two on one break. Don’t give it to them.
Does it always work? No. Can you do it with just anybody? No. You need a star, too; someone to make a play when variance does overwhelm discipline. It’s important to recognize those stars. They’re the guys that make Lloyd and Red’s brilliance work. Lloyd had Charles Woodson. Red has Shawn Hunwick.
But that’s all part of the plan. Play clean. Play smart. Execute. Get your stars in position to pick up the slack and win the big ones. Stymie everyone. Be solid. Be stoic. Be brave. Be Michigan, and you will be a champion.
We Salute You, Coach.
Chris Barnett was a big pickup for Michigan in the 2011 class, but Brady Hoke would like to add more depth at the tight end position this year. Evan Baylis (6'5", 225 lbs) is one of the prospects the Wolverines are going after for 2012. The Colorado native talked about his visit to Michigan this past week and how he feels about the Wolverines in general. Here's a look at his film and his thoughts.
TOM: Tell me where you're at right now with the process. What trips have you taken so far?
EVAN: I took some trips over spring break. I went out to Michigan last week [March 28th & 29th], Oregon, and also Stanford. I was thinking about revisiting some places, but I have lacrosse right now so I'm just trying to figure out some time.
TOM: When you were at Michigan what all did you do and see?
EVAN: I was there for two days and got some good time with the coaches. We missed practice, but we got to see everything else. We met with all the coaches, saw campus, and talked to the academic advisors. The next day we went on some more tours and more personal meetings with the coaches. I got to talk to Coach Ferrigno about how they'd use me in the offense. We also talked to one of the professors in the engineering department.
TOM: Is engineering what you want to go into?
EVAN: I'm not quite sure yet. I think I either want to go into engineering or business; I'm kind of up in the air about that.
TOM: So it sounds like academics are really a priority for you then?
EVAN: Yeah, academics is really important because I want to make sure that I'm all set after football. I want to have a good degree and everything.
TOM: Backing up to the coaches meetings, when you talked to Coach Hoke what was he talking to you guys about?
EVAN: Coach Hoke was more general about the program and what do as a football team. He was telling me how they felt about me and that Michigan would be a great place for tight ends. They're coming in with a winning mentality, which I like.
TOM: After you talked to the coaches you said you got a tour, did that include the Big House?
EVAN: Yeah, we saw the locker room, the weight room, and the Big House. That was my first time in the Big House and it was shocking. On a good day we have maybe 2 or 3 thousand people, so it was shocking. It's nothing compared to what we see.
TOM: A lot of the schools that you have offers from and that you've mentioned are closer to the west coast. What made you initially interested in Michigan?
EVAN: I have relatives in Michigan, and my grandparents used to live out there. I've been out to Michigan a lot, and I like how they're switching to a pro style offense. I really liked talking to the coaches too, I think I got along with them really well.
TOM: For anyone that doesn't know a lot about you, how would you describe yourself as a tight end?
EVAN: I'm kind of intense, and I really like to get after it. I play hard for pretty much the entire game. I think I have good footwork and good speed. I like getting passed to a lot, but I also like blocking a lot too.
TOM: And where are you at right now with the process? Do you have a top group yet?
EVAN: I'm kind of narrowing down my schools right now. I'm not too far into it yet, but I want to make my final decision by the beginning of the summer. I haven't been everywhere that I'm considering so I don't really have a ranking right now. I have a general idea, but I'm trying to figure out which schools would work best.
TOM: To go back to the west coast thing. Is distance going to factor into this for you?
EVAN: Being far away from home doesn't have too big of an impact for me. I have relatives in Michigan, which would make it feel somewhat like home. That wouldn't be a problem.
TOM: When do you want to make your final decision then?
EVAN: I want to make it by the beginning of the summer and just get it out of the way.
We’re a couple weeks away from the massive void that is playoff hockey and basketball. What is close at hand before then are exciting M events: Lion Kim at the Masters, the Frozen Four and the Spring ‘Game’. Sure, we have our other Winter and Spring sports at UofM to cheer, but it’s the latter of this year's ‘April Three’ that likely stirs us most. Without the winged helmets, not much else matters. Or does it?
As has been well documented here, this year’s last football practice has been dubbed the Mott Spring Game. And to boot, there’s a post today regarding the matching commitment from the Beam family – an unbelievable commitment at that.
C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital is a blessing to those in southeastern Michigan. It is the best insurance you can have if you have children – insurance being something you’re willing to pay for but hope to never use. As I’m sure many of you are aware, Brian Griese, Steve Hutchinson and Charles Woodson have made significant contributions to that insurance tab with donations to Mott and have collectively made it their personal missions to make a difference with the construction of the new Mott hospital.
Being ‘all in’ has become a consistent theme of late. Hopefully, we can all agree that being ‘All In for Mott’ is a great thing. And beyond the Spring game contributions and other fund raisers around Ann Arbor, there’s amazing events through Griese/Hutchinson/Woodson Champions for Children campaign. The fund raising events for Mott (http://champsforchildren.org/) include tailgates at multiple locations around the country and an annual event in Ann Arbor.
Personally, I have been fortunate enough to never need Mott. Neighbors of mine have needed the services of Mott for 2 of their children, as has our AD. I appreciate that we’re all in different positions to give and subsequently, we all can’t attend events like those in the Champions for Children campaign, but given how important Mott is to kids, and to our legacy as a Michigan community, I hope you’ll spare a few bucks at the Mott Spring Game.
We're already a few weeks away from the spring game and recruiting is in full swing. With two commitments under their belt the coaches are expecting a few more to come in before or during the spring game. Here's a look at a few visit reactions, upcoming visits, and general notes.
6'5", 228 lbs.
North Canton, Ohio
Appleby has been making his rounds across the country for unofficial visits. He took a trip out to Florida to see the Gators and then made his way up to Ann Arbor.
I wasn't offered on this trip, but we sat down with the coaches and they told me what they want out of me to get that offer. They said they want to see me at their camp and based off of that we'll talk about an offer. They told me that they've seen my film and that they really like me but they want me to camp before they offer.
Normally when you hear that from a prospect it's not good news. However, Appleby has the talent to eventually get an offer depending on what happens with Zeke Pike and Maty Mauk. The fact that Michigan hasn't offered isn't discouraging him.
With Coach Hoke we were just building the relationship and he told me they definitely think I'm a D1 quarterback. It's a challenge to me because I have all the confidence in myself and I'm excited to prove what I know I can do.
Austin got the full treatment from the coaches and felt that he got a good idea of who the new Michigan coaches are.
We met with the coaches and Coach Singletary. We went straight to practice and the players were popping around. They look like a whole new team, I definitely think they're on the right track. The overall enthusiasm and attitude was great. Everything they do is about beating Ohio State. I think the coaches were great, they were honest and genuine. It's hard to compare visits, but I'm definitely interested in Michigan.
I think Michigan would be in good position with Appleby if they were to offer. We'll see if that happens.
6'3", 220 lbs.
I brought up Antonio as a name to keep an eye on a few weeks ago. He hasn't been offered yet, but is planning on taking a trip to Ann Arbor this Saturday.
I'm really interested in Michigan. That was my favorite team growing up. I talked to Coach Hecklinski and they haven't offered yet, but they really like me.
Morrison is hoping for an offer this weekend, and if Michigan does offer they could vault into his top group.
I know the coaches from San Diego State, but I don't know too much about them. I have about ten offers right now but the schools I talk to the most are Minnesota, Illinois, and Indiana. [Michigan] would definitely be in my top three schools if they offered. I don't really have a leader yet, but if Michigan were to offer they might be at the top.
There are already a good amount of linebacker prospects with offers that Michigan is in good position with. We'll see if Antonio does get offered this weekend, but I wouldn't be shocked if he wasn't.
6'4", 295 lbs.
Battle Creek, Michigan
Latta is a big prospect that hasn't started to pick up steam with his recruitment yet. He currently has offers from Wisconsin and Western. Some schools prefer him on the offensive line and some prefer defensive line. Michigan has shown interest in Kelby, and the new coaching staff has made that feeling mutual.
I like the kind of mentality the new coaches are bringing and starting to get. I like the style of ball they're playing, and I just want to see what kind of coaches they are and how we get a long.
Kelby hasn't picked up many offers yet so he isn't anywhere near making his final decision. He does have an idea of how it will play out though.
I want to have it down to three schools by the time football season comes around. I know Wisconsin will be in there and the other two spots are open. Michigan has a chance to be in there. I'll probably make my final decision at the end of the season. I'm really just looking for the style of play, if they can win, the coaches, the class I'd be coming in with, and the education.
Wisconsin is the leader for now, but Kelby has interest in finding out more about Michigan. Latta says that the Michigan coaches have told him they prefer him on the offensive line. They have quite a few offers out already to offensive linemen with around 4 committable spots left.
- If you missed it you can take a look at what QB Zeke Pike thought of his visit to Michigan here. Pike just took in Arkansas this past weekend, but Michigan has done a good job of getting in the conversation. Zeke plans on making his decision within the next few months and as of now Michigan has a great chance.
- Visit reactions from Minnesota OL Jonah Pirsig and Ohio TE AJ Williams are here.
- East Detroit TE Ron Thompson told me he will be making his decision within the next few weeks. He doesn't have a set date, just whenever he feels ready. Michigan is in good position.
- Ohio LB Kaleb Ringer will be announcing his decision on April 15th at 6pm EST. Michigan is in good position here as well.
- Michigan offered Texas fullback EJ Fatu (5'10", 235 lbs). His late father was Eddie Fatu, the WWE wrestler and his cousin is The Rock.