Julius Caesar, a new general with a tattered and tired army, knew he had to march on Rome, which no legion was permitted to do. Marcus Lucanus left us a chronicle of what happened:
It can't happen
Drew from the city for the surgeon knife
Which shore the cancerous limbs cut in too deep,
And shed the life stream from still healthy veins.
True that the guilty fell, but not before
None of the odds are in their favor
All else had perished. Hatred had free course
And anger reigned unbridled by the law
The victor's voice spake once ; but each man struck
Just as he wished or willed. The fatal steel
A team too young and meek against an adversary too powerful
Urged by the servant laid the master low.
Sons dripped with gore of sires ; and brothers fought
For the foul trophy of a father slain,
Or slew each other for the price of blood.
They have every reason and every excuse
Men sought the tombs and, mingliijg with the dead,
Hoped for escape ; the wild beasts' dens were full.
One strangled died ; another from the height
Fell headlong down upon the unpitying earth,
But excuses wear thin when nothing seems right, and nothing right seems to happen
And from the encrimsoned victor snatched his death
One built his funeral pyre and oped his veins,
And scaled the furnace ere his blood was gone.
But the truth is that nothing is what it used to be
Borne through the trembling town the leaders' heads
Were piled in middle forum : hence men knew
Of murders else unpublished. Not on gates
Of Diomedes,' tyrant king of Thrace,
Injuries, defections, suspensions
' Nor of Antseus, Libya's giant brood,
' Were hung such horrors ; nor in Pisa's hall
Were seen and wept for when the suitors died.
Decay had touched the features of the slain
When round the mouldering heap, with trembling steps
The grief-struck parents sought and stole their dead.
Boys are not expected to stand up to men
Fea, the body of my brother slain
Thought to remove, a victim to the peace
In headlong torrents ran a tide of blood,
Which furrowing its path through town and field
In an era where everyone is against them and everything wrong seems to happen
No longer held him, and the dead were thrown
Back on the fields above. With labour huge
At length he struggled to his goal and stretched
In crimson streak across the Tuscan Sea.
Sides have been chosen, with those against trying to hamper everything they are trying to build.
Took flight from earth, now finds its only home,
Outcast to all besides, but safe with thee :
Vouchsafe thy counsel to my wavering soul
And make my weakness strength.
The odds are too long; we know it can't happen
While Caesar some, Pompeius others, follow in the fight,
Cato is Brutus' guide. Art thou for peace,
Holdiug thy footsteps in a tottering world
Unshaken ? Or wilt thou with the leaders' crimes
But it did happen once, in similar circumstance, against larger odds
And with the people's fury take thy part,
Where further do you march? At last he speaks,
Oh Thunderer, surveying Rome's walls from the Tarpeian Rock.
Oh Phrygian house gods of Iulus, Oh Rome, equal to the highest deity
A man outside the program, defied the odds, shocked the world and began a legacy
Favor my plans! Not with impious weapons do I pursue you.
Here am I, your own soldier, everywhere, now too, if I am permitted.
The man who makes me your enemy, it is he who be the guilty one.
Here I abandoned peace and desecrated law; fortune it is you I follow.
We all know it cannot happen
Farewell to treaties. From now on war is our judge!
But we cannot lose hope either
Hail Caesar! We who are about to die salute you!
Week 11 analysis and prediction can be found here: http://mgoblog.com/diaries/post-week-11-yardage-analysis-and-predictions...
I'm not going to go into a review of the Wisconsin game because, honestly, I've forgotten about it already, and I'd rather just keep it forgotten. I will say this... UMs offense had their third worst game of the season in a game in which they needed their best to win.
An interesting stat to note that I heard from Ira on WTKA is that UM is 1-4 when they score less than 21 points in the first half and 6-0 when they do score 21 or more. Let's hope for a fast start against OSU.
Let's move on to the charts shall we.....
As you can see from this chart, UMs defense gave up more than their season average and the offense gained less than their season average. UM has an even tougher contest tomorrow against the Buckeyes. Let's hope they can pull out a ridiculous performance; one that will stand the test of time. Unfortunately, that's exactly what they'll need if they want any chance tomorrow.
As you can see, UM has yet to play an offense as good as Ohio States, nor a defense as good as Ohio States. And OSU's defensive stats aren't even close to the next Big Ten team. They are 70 yards per game better than the next defense, Iowa. One bit of hope is that UM torched Iowa's defense for 522 yards. They'll need this performance tomorrow.
The predictor was pretty close for the Wisconsin game.
Now on to the predictor....
UM does have a chance to outgain the Buckeyes, but they'll need a ridiculous performance out of both their offense and defense. Even then, OSUs defense is giving up a touchdown every 121 yards they give up while UMs defense is giving up a TD every 93 yards. If OSU score 42 points on the day, UMs offense is going to have to gain almost 730 yards of offense just to keep pace.
I guess I'm not even sure what else I can say/type to convey that UM has a very slim chance of winning this game. The game has a better chance of becoming a blowout win for OSU than a UM win. I'm not even going to make a prediction on this because my heart can't take it anymore. Please, God, have mercy on UM football tomorrow.
As a rabid Michigan and Texas A&M fan, it seems to me that these two programs are on a similar path. However, the comparison I want to make is 2009 TAMU and 2010 Michigan.
Both have proven coaches (Rich Rod, Mike Sherman). Both have very talented offenses. Both have young players on defenses. Both have terrible defenses.
|2009 Rank||2010 Rank|
2009-10 A&M finished 6-7.
2010-11 A&M is currently 9-3.
What happened? A&M got a new defensive coordinator (Tim DeRuyter). Despite installing a new formation (3-4), there was a dramatic turnaround. By retaining his offense, and getting a new defensive coordinator, Sherman kept his job.
So, what does this mean for UM? Well, if Rich Rod can bring in a proven defensive coordinator (like DeRuyter) who runs a scheme suited to our strengths, we might see a similar turnaround. A conservative outlook might show a top-30 scoring defense to pair with a top-15 scoring offense. Given that 2010 Michigan has been handicapped with even more youth in the secondary than 2009 A&M, Michigan should show a larger benefit of an extra year of experience. (Additionally, Michigan's 2011 scoring offense should crack the top-10 as a result of the larger number of returners and a better defense).
Really, the turnaround hinges on who RR brings in to run the defense. Hopefully Brandon realizes that it would be premature to pull the plug on RR and uses all available resources to bring in an accomplished defensive coordinator.
2010 Texas A&M returned 9 starters on defense.
2011 Michigan returns 9 starters on defense.
2009 Texas A&M had 3 sophomores and 1 seniors starting in the secondary.
2010 Michigan has 3 freshmen and 1 senior starting in the secondary.
I normally enjoy reading Bob Wojnowski's articles - especially when he reports secret conversations from lockerooms - but his latest article is nothing more than his opinion clothed in conjecture and made-up facts. Coach-talk normally doesn't interest me - especially during OSU week - and I recognize there are legitimate arguments supporting the various opinions on Michigan's head coach. But I couldn't leave Mr. Wojnowski's article without comment. It can be found here:
He starts with this:
Anytime I hear "quick" and "fix" in the same sentence regarding a car, house, or football program, I get a little suspicious.
Conveniently, Mr. Wojnowski uses Mr. Harbaugh's entire coaching career and best season when describing his "track record". (Wikipedia says that Mr. Rodriguez is 120-81-2 as a head coach, if that matters.)
This may be one of the most misleading statements written about Michigan this year.
First, switching from Mr. Rodriguez to Mr. Harbaugh "could" be "tricky"? How about - to quote him from earlier - will absolutely be messy? Michigan has tiny men who are unnaturally quick. A standard Wisconsin running back makes the offensive line look small. The players have spent the last couple years learning a system that is not "traditional power football", meaning they would have to start over learning a new system. And he is willing only to say that such a transition would be tricky? As if the only thing Mr. Harbaugh would need to do to be 10-2 his first year is tread carefully? Another 3-9, 5-7, 7-5 sequence is more likely.
Mr. Wojnowski does not elaborate on how Mr. Harbaugh would work with Mr. Robinson. Does he mean in some kind of business they start after he is graduated? Will Mr. Robinson maybe be some kind of assistant coach? Because I know Mr. Wojnowski cannot mean that Mr. Harbaugh would consider a relatively short and relatively light player as a quarterback in a "traditional power football" scheme. Maybe he could return punts and kicks - that would be lots of fun to see. Mr. Robinson - if I remember correctly - wasn't heavily recruited as a quarterback, and for good reason: he doesn't fit as a quarterback in very many systems. Mr. Wojnowski recognizes how ridiculous it would be to say that he would be the quarterback in a "traditional power football" system, so he leaves it at the vague and misleading, "[Mr. Harbaugh] could work with Robinson."
Why does it have to be "job-saving progress"? Why can't it just be progress? As I mentioned at the beginning, "we" are not looking for signs or signature moments: we're looking for wins. And we're getting them. As fast as we would like? Of course not. But how do we know what would have happened if someone else would have taken over in 2008 - for example, Mr. Miles? Would he have gone 3-9 the first year and have 7 wins his third year? Maybe no one could have done much better than 15 wins over these last three years. We don't know. But regardless, Mr. Wojnowski knows it's not enough: he hasn't achieved what may have been impossible.
Again, Mr. Wojnowski resorts to cursory references to give a certain impression not reflecting reality. "NCAA violations" standing by itself sounds exactly as Mr. Wojnowski wants it to sound: ominous and serious. Anyone who read the most abbreviated summary of the actual events and findings knows otherwise. Perhaps Mr. Wojnowski is hoping some of his readers aren't familiar with the facts and findings.
This is a reason to pursue Mr. Harbaugh? That he's interested in the NFL? Why would his interest wane at Michigan? We've seen what happens if you don't win the Big Ten three years after arrival. He may not be as loyal as we want to believe. His comments in a previous year suggest as much. Say what you want about Mr. Miles, but he wouldn't leave Michigan if once hired, nor would he disparage Michigan just because it suited his present interests. Quite the opposite, based on the coaching search a couple years ago. He went out of his way to speak well of Michigan. Mr. Harbaugh went out of his way to speak ill of Michigan. If it suited his purposes, he may be as quick to coach in the NFL as Mr. Wojnowski is to hire him. Look what happened at Notre Dame when they hired a quick fix whom everyone thought would run off to the NFL: they gave him an enormous salary to convince him to stay at Notre Dame so they could fire him a few years later.
Mr. Wojnowski then goes on to explain why, really, it would be better for everyone, including Mr. Rodriguez, if Michigan got a new head coach.
This is where Mr. Wojnowski most obviously conflates his fanciful lockeroom conversations and actual reporting. My job has nothing to do with sports or Michigan, yet even I know why Mr. Rodriguez left West Virginia. Mr. Wojnowski's job is sports in Michigan, yet he apparently doesn't know something that was reported repeatedly in something with which Mr. Wojnowksi should be familiar: newspapers. I can't be bothered to go back and look at the quotes, but I remember Mr. Rodriguez had serious disagreements with the administration at WVU and even a politician or two. Apparently Mr. Wojnowski also can't be bothered to go back and look at the quotes.
Also, I don't remember any great longing that Mr. Rodriguez had to prove himself in the "big, bold Big Ten". (Is it a new drink someone is promoting or a conference?) I do remember something about the year before coming to Michigan, Mr. Rodriguez almost went to a different school; Alabama, I think. Again, neither Mr. Wojnowksi nor I can be bothered to take a minute to search on the internet for this information. The difference is that I remember the facts to a certain extent, whereas he forgets the facts and makes something else up instead. And gets paid for it. While I sit here typing in my cave.
Since I am clearly using my time poorly, I end this here. Again, this is not meant to be a proof that Mr. Rodriguez should get another year or another ten years or whatever, nor does it prove that Mr. Harbaugh would fail or ultimately be a poor choice as head coach. It's just evidence that Mr. Wojnowksi should not be consulted on the matter and that, when discussing anything, really, people like to come to conclusions first and then make up things which support those conclusions.
Preface: Opinions are like @$$holes; everyone has one, they all stink, and once it is a part of you, it requires surgery to remove. I will be the first to acknowledge that this includes the following piece. This is my opinion and many will disagree. That said, perhaps it will also bring forth the passion I feel for the University as a whole. I did not attend it, but hope to at some point for my Master's degree.
To the mods: This being my first diary, I have no idea if this is where this is supposed to go, or if something like this should be relegated to MGoBoard instead. I will leave this up to your discretion and am open to any insight you might have regarding this.
I became physically sick watching all this unfold. No matter how many relevant facts or figures you bring out of your arsenal, it has become, in essence, a religious or political argument. It has degenerated into blind insults among friends and family, "pundits" with a national outlet spouting whatever will get them the best ratings, a fan base that eats it up, witch hunts, mob mentality, and 2 sides that think the other one has their head firmly planted up their @$$es.
First, let me get this out there. Harbaugh, or anyone in his mold, will mean another 3-5 year crater/nuclear winter in the program (which is about 2 years longer than some of our fans have been willing to wait as it is). That's almost a guarantee because of the system he runs in relation to the one in place. That seems to get lost or just doesn't matter to those that can't see the looming forest for the trees a foot in front of their face. To me this represents who want Rodriguez gone because "he's not a Michigan man". Here's what I don't understand about that argument. Bo didn’t start as a Michigan man either. Bo was an Ohio State/Miami man. Crisler didn’t start as a Michigan man. He was a Minnesota and Princeton man. Yost didn’t start as a Michigan man. He was a Stanford, Kansas, Ohio Wesleyan, Nebraska, San Jose State man. They became Michigan men because they were allowed to implement the changes they wanted. They were allowed to implement changes that often flew in the face of whatever had come before them. And they did this without an entire section of a fan base crawling up their proverbial @$$es at every turn because "that's not the way it was done before".
Fear of change is paralyzing. However, just because something worked in the past does not indicate future success. This is a well known and regularly proven fact that manifests itself in many different areas of life on a daily basis. In fact, a lack of change often means the death knell for organizations that once thought themselves invincible and impervious to entropy over any lengthy period of time.
If, as a loyal follower of this institution, you truly believe Michigan is the leader and best, that also means the existence of an inherent willingness to take risks and chances where others don't have the stomach or intestinal fortitude to see it through. You do it in the face of adversity, criticism, and anything else the opposition can throw at you. In the case of this team, you do it in spite of a portion of your team's fans.
We sit at our computers and challenge a coach from a distance behind anonymity because we don't like him, and he isn't what we're used to, and insert reason here we can come up with and then point to and cling to the past like an overused security blanket that's disintegrating in our hands. Or we hold true to our new coach because we see improvement and signs of life and something we find fun to watch for a change. We stick up for him when he is attacked, fairly or not, because we see something worth defending when all is said and done. And we want to succeed by exhibiting patience because we feel we're better than that as a fan base. Or perhaps we just don't want to be the next Notre Dame, a program wallowing in insecurity and fading into irrelevance because they try to please everyone instead of just taking someone's vision and sticking with it until it has run its course. As a side note, I believe Notre Dame's coaches have been as guilty of this as their administration has.
I am willing to take the small risk of alienating some of you right here. But allow me this statement that may seem obvious, but for the sake of this piece is important to mention. The Bo era is dead just like Crisler's and Yost's. It was wonderful, but it is over and gone. Not only that, I believe it should stay over and gone. As much good as it brought us, by the end, products of the Bo era brought us The Horror and embarrassing losses to "new fangled" offenses that we, more often than not, were unable stop, even with All-American talent on the team. It had run its course and was becoming an inbred mess that could not possibly continue to be sustained without program-destroying ramifications. Change was on the horizon whether we wanted it or not. It was a matter of "when", and no longer an "if".
Frankly, the best coaches at Michigan have been the ones that realized the old system was slightly (or very) outdated. They were ahead of the curve in offense or defense and brought the other side of the ball along for the ride until they could match the production of the aspect of the game they knew best. They saw the inherent growing weaknesses of the previous systems and said, "I can do this better."
[EDIT: Warning. What I am about to say will be considered by most to at first be some sort of blasphemy. If you follow the logic to the end, I hope you will see I am in no way making a comparison based on current record, but on attitude and future potential]
Keeping that in mind, I posit this. Rich Rodriguez IS Bo Schembechler. He IS Fritz Crisler. He IS Fielding Yost. He has proven that he can win with great regularity when he's given time, resources, and support. And he's done this in multiple locations that weren't historical powers in college football. He is an innovator in a sport that doesn't have too many of them left, just like all of those great coaches we've looked so fondly upon for over a century. He is a representative of the next big change in college football.
Using that parallel as the premise then, what would Bo think of Rodriguez? If he was half the coach we all thought him to be (and I believe he was that and then some), it is my opinion that he would see the innovation and promise the future held and be excited by it. He would see a marketing cash cow in the making that would profit the University he devoted a large part of his life to. He would see new interest in attendance for a university with the proudest in academic tradition. He would look at all of you tearing at the foundations of the love of his life and probably tell you to go to hell if you aren't willing to stick it out with us. Why? Because Bo understood something few will ever grasp. He understood change was not only inevitable, but that those who adapt first are in prime position for continued success. He understood sacrificing in the short term for the sake of long term dividends. He understood myopia and constant gazing into the past leads to walking off the edge of so many cliffs we might encounter along the way. And he understood that if the fan base clung to him instead of the University, it would mean the end of it all when he was gone. That was why Bo was great. He understood that the good of the University was always the most important thing and he put that mantra into everything he did.
I want the "next thing" not because it's shiny and new. I want it because I want the continued success it has been proven to bring. I want teams to fear us again. As some of you know, I live in Columbus, and people are actually beginning to be frightened of Michigan's offense. Even here, they understand that when this offense gets a defense that's even mediocre, Michigan will be a name they fear every year, and that when the defense becomes good again, this rivalry may become as one sided as it currently is but in our favor. Around here, they have almost no faith that "The Vest" can stop our offense with anything resembling consistency. That is the right direction. I want the next thing, and to me, the next thing is Rodriguez, slowly and surely, improving in the face of scrutiny and adversity. I want the team I see every Saturday, growing up on the field, as my team.
My team that hasn't fractured in spite of the fan base that has. My team whose dilithium-based offense calls the worst defense, statistically speaking, in the history of our program the best defense they've faced all year. My team that says it convincingly enough that I have no choice but to believe it, regardless of what I've seen with my own eyes. My team whose backup didn't transfer because he knew he would be needed in a big way and became the biggest cheerleader on the sideline every week. My team who rallied behind one of their own and his brother who is going to walk again despite what science and medicine have told him. My team whose coach cares more about the health of his players than his own job. My team with fun fingerstaches, Donald Duck impressions, polo shirt/tie/nerd glasses ensembles at pressers, and a genuine sense of love that emanates from them and is infectious.
You want "the team, the team, the team"? Sit down with a pen and some paper and take notes, because the embodiment of that principle Bo instilled in all of us has played football every Saturday this fall wearing Maize pants, Blue jerseys, and wing-tipped helmets. And the coach that has made that happen is no longer Bo, or anyone in his coaching tree. To say that Rodriguez doesn’t understand Michigan tradition is preposterous. He's recreated the very best Michigan tradition there is, and he's done it in the worst possible surrounding circumstances. And he's done it despite those who have been too busy looking for ways to get rid of him to notice it.
Most of all, I believe wholeheartedly that this fan base NEEDS the next thing, because just like the Motor City itself, holding on to the past turns you into a dinosaur that can't keep up anymore. And watching this possibly die at the hands of those who just can't let go of the past is painful. Take a drive 45 minutes east from Ann Arbor and see the remains of what was once a great empire that thought itself invincible if you need proof. Clinging to the past doesn't honor a great coach. Clinging to the past in spite of all the evidence that an overhaul is needed is nothing but fear of the unknown. It slowly and brutally takes everything he loved and built through years of hard work and crumbles it to dust.
Turkey and football are two pillars of the American Thanksgiving tradition, so I've combined the two into one disgusting image that I sincerely hope does not spoil your Thanksgiving appetite.
On my list of things that are worthy of giving thanks, there are many things that come before Michigan football. But not that many things. After two losing seasons, and in the midst of infighting amongst fans, it's easy to overlook the positives and forget about what we love about Michigan football. Now, I won't find seven or eight wins acceptable in any future season, but this is one example of something that is worth being thankful for given the current state of the program: a winning season. Here's the rest of my 2010 Michigan Football Thanksgiving list of thankful giving of thanks:
An explosive offense.
Cease & desist letters for fake action figures that are not followed by lawsuits.
Tiny recievers who block like linemen.
Huge recievers who turn 50-50 jump balls into touchdowns.
Roy Roundtree's dependability.
My daugter's winged helmet beanie.
A 'scrappy' backup quarterback (with wings on his helmet and everything).
Having not one, but two Michigan games to look forward to after Thanksgiving.
Watching Michigan vs Ohio State with friends and family.
The ability, time and venue to share my art with fellow fans.
The image below is a preview only. You can get the widescreen, 4:3, iPad and mobile wallpapers at The Art. The Art. The Art!.
How it was made
I've captured the creation of this special edition Thanksgiving wallpaper artwork and sped up the footage to condense a little over 2 hours of design time into just under 2 minutes of video. Watching this video is a little like watching Martha Stewart prepare a meal, but without Martha Stewart, without the food and without a purpose.