When the Under the Lights jersey design was released earlier this year, the hullabaloo, brouhaha, and hubbub was palpable and furious from one end of MGoBlog to the other. It even was quite MGoChic for a time to line up in rank and file on board post after board post as a running attendance of those that "Get It," vehemently opposing any alteration to the sacred home uniform. Granted, not everyone fell into this category. Yours truly and several other courageous souls braved this onslaught by staring straight down the barrel of banishment and mockery from the community simply to throw our voices into the fray- not for the smallest hope of prevailing glory or rationality- but rather because it was right. It was at this time too, friends, that the arrows of rebuke aimed at our Commander in Chief, David Brandon, began to reach a fever pitch with skepticism and paranoia reaching levels that had not been seen since Joseph McCarthy had been pacing the halls of this nations capital. The, well, mutiny of sorts, saw its escalation with endorsements from this blogs highest ranking officials including most notably, Brian (peace be upon him), while trickling down from there and eventually into the masses where it became a fundamental ideological principle and core tenet of those fighting to preserve the dignity and tradition of Michigan Football while halting the erosion of our identity by ravenous exploitationists that are literally scheming the corporatization of our very souls as we speak.
The outlook was dire, indeed, in those days. Our great general, Coach Hoke, had not yet led his troops into our hallowed battlefield where the ghosts of legends dwell and the smell of victory floats confidently in the air. We were reeling from 3 long years of famine and were anxiously awaiting our Michigan Moses to free us from bondage and lead us into Canaan. The Michigan we grew up knowing and loving was evaporating before our very eyes, and those dastardly jerseys (and night games to some) were the face of our eroding ideals and traditions.
Nevermind that Michigan has gone through dozens of uniforms in it's distinguished history, those damn jerseys with the ugly stripes and that phony looking old block M is taking it just too far dammit! My lawn. Get off it.
On September 10th 2011, at approximately 8 o'clock PM, our good old boys with their cotton' pickin' maize and blue hearts screamed out of that tunnel as they have so many times before, touched the banner, and prepared for battle all the while wearing that ghastly abomination in place of the sacred home uniforms. I don't need to bore you with the details here because you know what transpired. Michigan was pummeled by Notre Dame 50-0 and immediately released a statement after the game stating emphatically that from hence forth we, Michigan, shalt not wear legacy jerseys or participate in night games forever because it's always been better with out them and this was a huge mistake and we're sorry k thx bye.
The End. Things go back to normal and the Michigan of old is the Michigan of new again. Right?
Here friends, is where I humbly pose a question: What if?
What if our leadership isn't set on destroying us from the inside out?
What if they want to see the best for Michigan, even if that means making changes to Michigan?
What if they do actually care how we, the fans, students, and alumni, feel?
What if it was possible to respect traditions while also modernizing?
What if every change that's made wasn't contextualized as going to the heart of what it means to be Michigan? And isn't that a terribly confined view of what Michigan even is?
What if in being ambitious and thinking progressively we could still create moments that 50 years from now would be remembered as some of the greatest that ever happened?
And what if it looked something like this?: ***
Now, what if you never forget what happened on September 10, 2011? Was it worth it? Is Michigan any less Michigan-y now that we've played a night game with legacy jerseys?
OR what if in doing something like this, from the jerseys and the atmosphere to the actual play and coaching on the field, we saw an even truer picture of what Michigan is?
What I saw was that Michigan is unafraid to be the best. Michigan is unafraid to make history. Michigan sets the bar. Michigan isnt defined by it's past- but rather Michigan is defined by it's gall in conquering the present and it's aspiration to the future. Michigan might not always win, but Michigan doesn't back down to a challenge.
Friends, in my humble opinion that game could not have been more perfect. From the pageantry to the stadium renovations, to the uniforms, to unforgettable moments and to ripping out Notre Dame's heart yet again. Michigan put on one hell of a show and I'm damn proud to be a Michigan Wolverine today.
BUT: What if it never happened?
What if your no doubt cherished memories from that game were replaced with memories form a typical ND- UM game with an afternoon kickoff?
Would you be any worse off? Probably not. You wouldn't know any better and UM beats Notre Dame in alternate universes as well- but I do know this, you wouldn't be better for it. You wouldn't have the once in a lifetime experience and the memories to take. You wouldn't be able to tell everyone about it until the day you die. You wouldn't have been a part of this unique moment in history- a moment where history is made. Is that worth it? I guess that's up to you.
Finally: What if we do it again?
What if Michigan makes bold decisions in the future?
What if they're controversial and go against what you've come to know as your beloved Michigan?
Will you approach them with negativity and skepticism or will you look at them with eyes to see the possible good that may come from them? Will you reevaluate your rigid constructs of what Michigan is to you and realize that Michigan is bigger than you can comprehend and means different things to different people around the world and that no attempt to quantify or define it can be successful? I think you should and I hope you do. To keep Michigan the best sometimes means thinking outside the box and moving forward with thought and sense. Last night proved that it can be done well and it can be done right.
*** These moments brought to you by Dave Brandon pissing on Michigan tradition.
It was late and I was in a bar surrounded by new friends. My old friends couldn’t meet up with me. They were all sick or they had something else they needed to do – one excuse or another – and so there I was by myself in Chicago, sitting in a little bar packed full of blue.
I hugged a man I didn’t know, shook hands with his friend and hugged his girlfriend and then I high fived another man and his wife. I didn’t know them before. I didn't give a damn. None of us did. We were all out of our minds. We shouted until we had all lost our voices. We jumped and cheered and freaked out together, convulsing with the physical manifestations of so many strange emotions. I was in a daze. In the course of thirty seconds the world as I knew it had gone from abject despair to pure, unadulterated, unashamed euphoria. And that was only in Chicago. I can’t fathom what it must have been like in the House.
My hand is bruised this morning from pounding on the bar. I can’t think of anything I could do in thirty seconds that can turn the world upside down like that. Not like that. I mean God, I don’t know if I can brush my teeth in thirty seconds.
But there, in that House I loved so much, a bunch of kids wearing my colors had just pulled off something that not even a quarter and a half ago would have been inconceivable. They had denied the stats, the completion percentages, the yards given up by their defense; it mattered only so far as it set us all up for one of the best endings we’ve ever seen. Denard needed eleven completed passes, and that’s exactly what he got.
After that game, I wandered my neighborhood like a roving lunatic. I laughed and shook my head and couldn’t believe what I had just seen. I collected ‘good game’ comments from so many random people on the street; even State fans. I ended up at a hotdog place, a little hole in the wall run by a guy whose dad used to play for Irish. A sign that read ‘Play Like a Champion’ hangs on the wall there. He was cleaning the glass door as I walked up, took a look at me, opened the door and said, “Holy shit.”
That’s about all I could say back. ‘Holy shit.’
I went in and we talked about football and the things we had just seen. It was that kind of game; where a Michigan man and the Irish fan can both respect the fact that they had just witnessed something purely amazing.
And to think, eleven years ago I was a kid who didn’t like sports, didn’t particularly like football, didn’t care one way or the other about how many people fit in a stadium. Sports were the opiate of the masses, or some other nonsense I have since learned to recognize at nonsense. At the time, though, I was ‘too smart’ for that.
But when my application for student season tickets came in the mail, my father sat me down and told me I was getting them. There would be no discussion. I could sell the tickets. I could sell the tickets to him if I wanted, but I was getting them. And I’m so happy I did.
Because, a little over a decade later, I was hugging grown people I had never met before, celebrating fleet footed miracles with my new friends and fellow fans.
How about you, blog friends? Tell us where you were.
Like about everybody else here, I'm still basking in the afterglow of the win over ND, but I still wanted to get this done before the next batch of Picture Pages comes out. In other news, I finally figured out how to slow down video, which some people have asked for.
Setup: (Brian's original post is http://mgoblog.com/content/picture-pages-how-not-defend-power-part-ii) In Part I (http://mgoblog.com/content/picture-pages-how-not-defend-power-part-i), we see that Brennen Beyer overran a counter play Western ran to the left, losing contain and opening the door to a 25-yard gain (to be fair, he just opened the door; bad linebacker play exacerbated the lack of contain and escorted the Western RB through it). He was undoubtedly coached about said overpursuit afterwards (without, I am assuming, the use of stuffed animals) and returned determined to not repeat that mistake.
Wha'hoppon: Naturally, Beyer made the opposite mistake this time by engaging the pulling guard inside, proving there's more than one way to lose outside contain. A cut block on the MLB took out both him and the backside LB, and Herron steps up into the pile instead of out to force the play back inside, completing the loss of contain. Once again, Kovacs comes across from his deep safety position to make the tackle far downfield.
Non-embedded version at http://youtu.be/9asASKuFZ-I?hd=1
Regression to the Mean
What do you get when you have a game between two crappy conferences, one which comes into the game posting an 8-0 record and the top CPR among all conferences, and another that comes in as the only conference not to log a non-conference win over the opening weekend?
Yaaay, law of averages.
The Big East lost their clean sheet on Friday night, as Louisville fell to the mighty Golden Panthers of Florida International. To the Panthers' credit they have started the season 2-0, even though the Sun Belt had yet to win an interconference game. Their opening game was against conference foe, North Texas - the Texas team which is least likely to start talking about how pretty it is.
The last conference to post a perfect resume for 2011 fell only hours later. The Big 12 fought hard for their perfect record, with Arizona State needing overtime to beat Mizzou and break the streak of 11-0. This is not a big deal for the Big 12, though, as it is not like they're going to disintegrate the conference because of the loss...
|Conf.||Wk 1||Wk 2||Season||CPR||+ / -|
From the Top
The red-headed stepchild of the BCS. The ACC comes in below both the MWC and CUSA in this weeks table. Talks of the ACC poaching from the Big East should cease, as the Big East actually looks like a stronger conference.
What happens to your CPR when you go 7-5? Nothing, apparently. The B1G stays at number 3 even after developing a subpar record this week. I was tempted to give them +1,000,000 for Michigan's efforts, but that would skew my numbers a bit. Instead, the Big 10 stays at three and watches the top two conferences put some distance between themselves and the pack.
Well, this is kinda akward. The Big 12 this year is like a boyfriend who saw the light a little too late. Yes, they are on their best behavior, but she's totally over you, Big 12. The B12 is leading our CPR at this point, but they're still going to come home at some point and find all their shit on the lawn.
The Big East took a nosedive this week, after leading the FBS in the CPR last week. They drop four spots to number 5 due to a 'meh' 4-4 effort which saw losses to teams such as Vanderbilt and FIU.
CUSA can lay claim to the title 'Best of the Rest'. Their 8-9 record is good enough as 11 of their 17 OOC games have been against BCS conferences. They have posted three wins in those games, with two more coming to other FBS schools.
Don't look now, but EMU is 2-0! Largely due to the Hart influence, no doubt. A heartbreaker in Columbus was very nearly the biggest win the MAC has seen in years. Northern Illinois also lost a close game to Kansas while CMU kept it close throughout most of their game against Kentucky, only to lose 27-13.
A lukewarm 3-2 record which included two wins against FCS schools saw the MWC drop a spot. Their lone win was a 3 point SDSU win over Army.
The Pac 12 rebounded nicely from a disasterous opening week to climb six points in the CPR. They did so with a 6-2 week that saw them become the only conference which has beaten the Big 12.
Undefeated. 8-0. The AFC Southwest. God's gift to ESPN. God's gift to God. The reason I couldn't watch the opening kickoff of the greatest game in the history of the word 'game'. The SEC shot up as the only potential challenger for the CPR crown. At this point, it appears to be a two horse race with the Big 12 narrowly beating the SEC.
The Sun Belt didn't wait until Saturday to post their first win, with FIU beating Louisville on Friday night. The Sun Belt went 4-4 with wins over the MAC, CUSA, Mountain West, and an FCS school. For their part, the Sun Belt has beaten up the fewest cupcakes (sounds like innuendo?), having only played one FCS school.
The WAC has brought up the rear among FBS conferences for the second week in a row. That's what happens when you post a 5-10 record, with only two of those wins over other FBS schools.
Navy posted the only vistory this week as they rolled over Western Kentucky. BYU gave Texas a run, but came up short by a point. Notre Dame was apparently involved in some sort of 'night game' thing.
The FCS was picked on less this week, as they only played 20 games against FBS schools, compared to 36 the week before. They posted as many wins this week as Notre Dame.
[Ed: You know, I was going through my VOAV stuff today and ran across this from Boyz in the Pahokee, which is everything I was going to post, so here's the bump. Still looking for Denard's post-game Sportscenter interview.]
Al Lesar's lede from his column in this morning's South Bend Tribune:
ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Retro jerseys obviously didn’t fit well. Collars were too tight.
So I made an "Inside the Box Score" post last Sunday and it was reasonably well received, so let's do this again.
First, the link thingy:
Last week, I mentioned that I was going to be paying attention to the 2nd quarter this year, as we routinely lost the 2nd quarter last season. Jamiemac picked up the theme by making the 2nd quarter score one of his prop bets. A quick glance at the box score shows we won the 2nd quarter 7-3, and after the rough first quarter, that was huge in keeping us in the game. Look a little deeper, though, and you'll see that we ended the 1st quarter with Denard's first interception, giving the Irish a short field to start the 2nd quarter. This was a recipe for disaster last year. Instead, with the Irish starting at OUR 39 yard line (you almost don't need a 1st down to get in FG range) our defense stiffened and forced them into a 3 and out. Three plays, 2 yards, after getting 140 yards on 17 plays in the 1st quarter. That stopped their momentum enough to keep us in the game.
Other items of interest:
* Net yards per kickoff: ND 49.3, UofM 45.3. This was much improved over last week when WMU had a 15 yard per kickoff advantage over us. I did go back and watch our first kickoff last week, and it appeared that Woolfolk was playing the deep safety on the kickoff. The guy who is supposed to run down the returner if said returner gets through the first line. If Woolfolk has the best combination of speed and tackling on the team, I can't fault them for playing him there. It really shouldn't be that much of an injury-risk, but this is football, and those things happen. The kickoff disparity COULD HAVE been huge at the end as the Irish started their last drive on their 39, while we started at the 20. I thought it was going to take a miracle to go 80 yards in 23 seconds (after the first incompletion) and that is exactly what Denard and Gallon produced on the 64 yard play. It called to mind the AC play against Indiana. Instead of going Hail Mary, you throw a 20 yarder and get YAC.
* Gallon and Smith, two players who receive more than their fair share of criticism, combined for 4 receptions, 104 yards receiving, and 2 TDs. And they handled the punt and kick returns flawlessly.
* We had 22 players show up on the defensive statistics section, similar to last week. Although a lot of last night's seemed to be special teams or from our turnovers. It was nice to see our leading tackler be a LB, but the next two were safeties. BWC didn't record a tackle, but he showed up in the box score for recovering a fumble, and he showed up in the box score indirectly by forcing an ND holding penalty. Which leads me to this:
* Penalties: ND 9 for 75, UofM 9 for 82. After a 1 penalty game last week, and a good start to last night's game, we started racking up the defensive penalties, some of which were actually earned. I think those refs throwback hats were a size too small, but I'm not one to complain about officials.
* First downs: ND 28, UofM 16. How the F did we win that game? Oh yeah,
* Turnovers: ND 5, UofM 3. Gotta win the TO battle. Apparently, UofM's stat sheet is crediting the Irish with a fumbled kick return on the last play. And,
* Yards per play: ND 7.1, UofM 9.0. I guess you don't need many first downs when you are averaging 30.7 yards per completion. ND was playing break-but-don't-bend. They stuffed our run (except for Denard) and matched up one-on-one with Hemingway, Gallon, and Roundtree. We played a mixture of defenses, sometimes blitzing (ouch on the upcoming RPS numbers) sometimes doubling Floyd, but generally giving different looks. I couldn't keep track of how many times the play clock got down to 1 second for ND. At one point, I screamed at the TV, "Hey REES, you are not Peyton Manning, snap the damn ball." They ended up using a lot of timeouts and I think that helped us out.
* Attendance: 114,804 (yes, they put the attendance in the box score.) I believe that's a record of some sort. While I was watching out here in Southern California, my brother and his wife were rocking with the students in section 29. He reports that the pom-poms sucked, and I'm generally not a fan of the pom-pom, but I think they looked good last night.
* The referee's name (what don't they put in the boxscore?) was T. Tomczyk, the same as my uncle before his last name was Americanized. After last night, I think we can agree, Notre Dame has been Denardized, AGAIN!