It's been a couple months. Time for another off-season lacrosse update, right?
The Wolverines played in a pair of Fall Ball scrimmages this year, one against MCLA D2 squad Grand Valley State, and one against NCAA D3 Denison. The Wolverines beat GVSU 16-10 in the first scrimmage (pictured at right, with your humble blogger lurking in the background). They jumped out to a 5-0 lead before Grand Valley got on the board, and led by as many as seven goals in the contest. Coach Paul was not pleased:
“You go into a fall-ball scrimmage just wanting to get a clear sense of where you really stand on things and I think we got that tonight. We’re in a horrible place right now, but that’s a combination of a lot of things.
One of the bigger stories from the game was Grand Valley's Cam Holding, who scored 5 goals and assisted on 3 more. It's unclear whether he'll be eligible to play for the Lakers in the spring, but if so, MCLA's second division had better watch out.
In the second scrimmage, against varsity D3 squad Denison, the Wolverines fell by a 15-7 count in six informal quarters. Coach Paul's post-game comments seem to indicate that the Wolverines are lacking in chemistry with the departures from last year's squad:
“I think we’re behind where we’ve been in the past couple of years, but I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that we’re playing so many different guys this year, especially at midfield. We’ve switched coaching spots, and we’re having the guys do a lot of different stuff in terms of technique, so I think it’s just a matter of time. Right now, we just don’t have that sort of chemistry yet.
It's a much younger team than it has been the past couple years, but hopefully they'll be able to iron everything out by the time the regular season kicks off in February.
In the final action of the fall, the West squad prevailed over the East 11-10 as junior Austin Swaney tallied the winning goal with no time left on the clock. Alas, I was unable to attend the game, so I can't provide any analysis of the result.
The team will return to practice after New Year's, and kick off the season with a scrimmage against Bellarmine on January 29th.
The Varsity Push
Michigan Athletic Director Dave Brandon was recently interviewed in Crain's Detroit Business, talking about what he plans to do in his time as the leader of the AD. This snippet in particular doesn't sound very encouraging:
He has no plans to add sports or new facilities... but instead will look at things such as value-added ticketing and improved concessions.
No means no, right? Well something else happened to catch my eye:
Branding is just one aspect of Brandon's overhaul of the $105 million athletics program that has 749 student-athletes in 27 sports and about 250 employees.
I could have sworn that Michigan currently only offers 25 varsity sports... and a rudimentary check of MGoBlue.com seems to confirm that. So what does it mean? Well...
Director of Operations Joe Hennessey and Coach Paul have started podcasting, and the first two episodes are available on Lacrosse-Radio.com. Podcast 1 talks at length about the ongoing varsity push from the program. Relevant portion 1:
Our other goal this year is to put us in position to be the next varsity team at Michigan. And we're really excited that we think we have a pretty strong opportunity to make that happen, and this is kind of the pivotal year right now. Our Athletic Director has made clear that he's in support of that agenda and wants to see this team do certain things that he's asked them to do.
When Hennessey asks Coach Paul if going varsity has always been the goal for the program, the answer has another interesting snippet:
I think it's always been in the back of our minds, we just had to have the perfect storm of things come together. And you know knock wood, we think those things are coming together right now. We hope they are.
MgoReader seniorbearcat reports that Brandon said D-1 lacrosse is on the way for men and women, which seems to confirm all the circumstantial evidence. Inside Lacrosse even picked up the post, and Brandon gave a bunch of non-commital quotes, including that he's "very interested" in adding lacrosse. He also says the AD is in "investigation mode," but the numbers were crunched by the time a formal proposal was presented to him, so that sounds like a delay tactic.
Altogether, it sounds like varsity lacrosse is on the way. As far as timeline, I would guess a spring/summer announcement is most likely, with the squad first suiting up for the 2013 season in a couple years. I don't want to spend too much time on one section of the update, so I'll end here, but there's a lot more to talk about if true, so I'll devote a post to it in the near future. Feel free to discuss in the comments, of course.
MCLAMag.com released their All-Decade team, and one former Wolverine made the cut, along with a current member of the team. Brekan Kohlitz (pictured at right), Michigan's faceoff specialist from 2005-08 and the first-ever MCLA player to be drafted by Major League Lacrosse, was one of the honored players. He'll play for the National Lacrosse League's Washington Stealth this winter.
The other honoree hasn't even finished his career in maize-and-blue yet, as Harrison Freid's 3 All-American seasons were enough to land him on the All-Decade squad. The team captain will look to earn his third-straight First-Team All-American honor this spring, after being a third-teamer as a freshman.
Elsewhere in honors, All-MCLA preseason teams haven't come out yet (that I'm aware of), but expect them to be littered with Wolverines. Freid and attackman Trevor Yealy were first-team All-American postseason selections last year, with long-stick midfielder Matt Asperheim and goalie Mark Stone getting third-team and honorable mention distinction, respectively. Expect even more guys on the All-Conference teams, as the postseason list last year was even more heavily Michigan-focused.
The official site breaks down the 2011 schedule in slightly more depth than I have so far. A more comprehensive preview forthcoming in this space as the season approaches, of course.
Podcast 2 breaks down the current roster with Coach Paul, and is required listening for anyone who wants to be primed for what they should be watching for once the team hits the field again. The third edition features defensive coordinator Ken Broschart (formerly the offensive coordinator) discussing the personnel under his charge.
First-year Wolverine Pat Stansik (a transfer who played Division-1 lacrosse at Bucknell for a couple years) blogs for Inside Lacrosse, and also let me know he has been posting Michigan Lacrosse video blogs on his Youtube channel:
This will be the home of the list of visitors for the Big Chill this weekend. As always, it will grow and shrink as I confirm some names. Here's who I have so far.
- IL OL Chris Bryant - Likely won't make a decision on this trip, although it's not out of the question. He has a few concerns with the coaching situation, and isn't sure when he wants to make his final decision.
- MI DE Anthony Zettel - He will wait to make his decision likely until after Michigan makes theirs about the coaching situation.
- MI LB Desmond Morgan - This may be his final visit before he decides. He has interest in Northwestern too, so they could get another visit. I wouldn't be surprised to see him make his decision shortly after this visit.
- Commit OH OL Jack Miller
- Commit MI OL Jake Fisher
- Commit OH DL Chris Rock
- 2012 MI DT Danny O'Brien
- 2012 MI DL Matt Godin
Names have been moving on and off this list, so I'll keep updating as I hear more. If you have heard any names you would like me to confirm go ahead and throw them out there. I will try to confirm or deny them as fast as I can. This should be a pretty cool event for the recruits to attend, and I know they're all excited for it.
Sorry, no pics yet.
My plan is to watch all the games available in order and put up a post with notes on each game, and then do a big picture pages summary of their offensive and defensive systems.
So this post will just be some random notes from the game as I think of them. But since this is the first diary on them, I'll also include some general first impressions.
- #14 Relf is the starter at QB and looks like a DE. Doesn't quite have the running skill of Cam Newton, but he has the same size and a pretty decent arm. Not the strongest arm, but he puts good touch on mid range seams. He likes to roll to his right and will hold the ball longer than he should. Can run the option.
- #17 Russell. QB More of a pocket passer, much smaller, but he "looks like a QB". Excellent at throwing PA post.
- #27 Perkins RB Likes to bounce it outside. Good acceleration, not world class top end speed.
- #28 Ballard RB, More of a straight ahead runner. Looked real good on iso and dive plays.
- #50 MLB. White, Not the most athletic guy but looks smart in the middle.
- #15 DB, got a nice interception on an agressive cut on the comeback route. Might be susceptible to double moves.
- Mostly ran 3 down linemen on D.
- Linebackers like to fake blitz on passing downs by aligning between the DL and bailing out.
- Ran out to a 21-0 halftime lead that coulda been 35-0 if not for first game miscues, but Memphis was 1-11 so take it with a grain of salt.
- I previously said that their offense looks like ours, but actually they run a much more diverse variety of formations and personell. They like to go 5 wide in long passing downs, can run basic I formation and have a whole series of plays from that. Most of the game was in shotgun, but I've seen them run some single wing (can't remember if it was this game or another).
- The cowbells are loud and obnoxious and definitely do not stop at the snap of the ball. memphis was really affected by the noise. Think vuvuzela loud.
- #1 Bumphis is their speed threat, but I heard he's not playing in the bowl game.
- ESPN U coverage sucked and Tony Dungy might have been a great coach but he's not much of an announcer.
- Isn't the Georgia mascot a bulldog? hurrah for original mascots. /sarcasm.
- Oh, didn't know that Mullen was florida's OC with Tim (I touch filipino boys' penises) Tebow. That explains a lot, like the shotgun power QB iso on the goaline.
- #93, DL looks like a good wide body guy. looks like he's got some talent in short yardage situations.
- 49-0 with 11 minutes to go and the backups are coming in. But Memphis got blown out by any team with a pulse. Like 56-0 against Louisville and 50-14 to Tennessee, both those teams finished 6-6.
- Now I know why I think Gerg should be fired. He's just not young and firey. D-coordinators at the college level usually have a lot of fire and brimstone. Miss. State's DC has the look of a guy on the rise. I think Gerg is a liability in recruiting just because of his age and personality. JMHO.
- One thing that I think a lot of people miss is that when the scrubs come in, you really get to see what the "Base" plays are. Simply because they're not very good or don't know the entire playbook. Although sometimes they run stuff they picked up from being the scout team for the week.
- #10 Looks a bit thin for an OLB but looks like a solid tackler.
CALLING ALL MGOCITIZENS:
Donate and Sustain MGoBlog
(Disclaimer: This thread was invented and created by profitgoblue alone, with no prompting from Brian, Tim, Tom, or any other "officer" of MGoBlog. I post this thread as a concerned member of the MGoCommunity, one MGoPerson wanting to preserve the content that I hold so dear. Again, no one "put" me up to posting this thread and I am not affiliated in any way with Brian and/or Tim, other than being a faithful follower of his work product.)
Imagine a blustery winter night, deep in an evergreen wood somewhere in Northern Michigan. The wind is whipping through the trees, blowing snow against the walls of a small log cabin. The temperature dropped well below freezing hours ago, yet a dim light emanates from one of the small cabin windows.
Inside, an unkempt (no offense!) young man sits in a far corner of the one-room cabin. The only light comes from a small kerosene lamp hanging from a rafter and the glow from the monitor of an outdated laptop computer. The man's wife twitters around the room in her worn slippers, tidying up and preparing for sleep while the man types and types on his laptop until his fingers can type no more.
It didn't used to be like this. The young man once lived in a nice apartment with his then-fiancée. He was the talk of the blogosphere and adored by thousands of Michigan fans. But alas, just as all good things come to an end, so too did this existence. The man, unable to sustain his trade without outside help, was forced to cut back and cut back until there was nothing left to cut. Defaults on rent payments, credit card obligations, student loans, and utility bills forced him into seclusion and a life of solitude, removed from society. On the brink of complete collapse, the man is moments away from agreeing to sign his one last prize away . . . The man is about to sell the rights to his website to the Detroit Media Partnership - the agency that oversees the operations of the Detroit Free Press - in order to avoid losing his log cabin and the rest of his life as he knows it . . . NO!!
IT DOES NOT HAVE TO END LIKE THIS!
JOIN ME IN THE FIGHT TO PREVENT THIS OUTCOME!
How many of you have thought to yourselves, "self, if I ever meet Brian or Tim or Tom, I'm going to buy them a drink"? How many of you have decided that if you ever run into either you'll buy them two drinks? Three drinks? A keg? That thought has crossed my mind several times recently, most often while reading UFRs and learning something new about the Denard-led spread offense. But, alas, I resigned myself to accepting that I will likely never be in their physical presence. But that does not mean I cannot have a personal impact on Brian, Tim, Tom, and MGoBlog!
Yesterday, while sitting here at my desk, avoiding work to the best of my abilities, I had an epiphany in the form of a post by VideoTom. See http://mgoblog.com/mgoboard/tomvh-quick-chris-bryant-update#comment-821293). And I said to myself, "EUREKA! That's it! I'll buy Brian, Tim, Tom, and MGoBlog.com a virtual drink and donate to the MGoHumanFund!"
One click on the "Beveled Guilt - Make a Donation" button (located in the upper right of MGoBlog.com) . . .
a few more clicks in PayPal . . .
and it was done. Imagine my immense feeling of satisfaction? It can be yours too!
Join me in the good fight to keep our beloved Brian, Tim, and Tom in our employ for the foreseeable future! Below is a guide for those who might not be sure how to proceed:
- High schoolers: You're too young to drink. (Damn kids.)
- Undergrad students: Buy Brian/Tim one drink ($5).
- Graduate students: Buy Brian/Tim two drinks ($10).
- Young members of the workforce: Buy Brian/Tim three drinks ($15).
- Tenured members of the workforce: Buy Brian/Tim four drinks ($20).
- Investment bankers and hedge fund managers: Buy Brian/Tim an entire bar ($100,000). (You can't fool me. I know your bonus this year will cover it!)
Because, really, how can you say no to a needy face like this???
Fear and Loathing in Ann Arbor Volume II
The 2010 Regular Season
Disclaimer: The following diary is a combination of a narrative for the 2010 Michigan football season excluding the Gator Bowl and a collection of work from author Hunter S. Thompson. I made minor changes to his work such as places, names, coaches, players, etc to make it relevant to our 2010 season. The work in this diary was lifted from the pages of Dr. Thompson’s work in “Hey Rube”. If you wonder what lines were his and which were mine, thank you for the compliment and then get the book. Enjoy the second installment of Fear in Loathing in Ann Arbor...or don't!
They were all laughing at me. I grabbed some whiskey off my leather-covered icebox and went outside to be alone with my thoughts and humiliation. My worst fears came true. I was a public Dupe, soon to be jailed for crimes of cruelty to myself for investing so much damn emotion and confidence into a game that ended with me stone drunk and stone naked on my porch. How had it happened? Had I finally loved Michigan too much?
October 16th, 2010. Iowa. I made it to the television set to watch the game. After the MSU debacle, I thought for sure a wormhole would open me up, swallow me whole, and deposit my carcass on the streets of Columbus with nothing but a Michigan themed unicorn tattoo on the small of my back for everyone to aim at. This wasn’t the case. I had to take a step back and realize that the defensive problems were voiced before the season started. The season must go on, we were 5-1, still ranked, and heading into Iowa with a level head and a hope that last years close call will turn in our favor because of our lethal yet friendly QB, Shoelace D Robinson.
Iowa has seemed to be a team that could beat anyone on any day, especially when you play in Iowa City at night time. Many teams have come out of the visitor’s locker room that resembles a clean vulva only to run into an Iowa team that spreads high concentrate sucrose syrup on their field while they bowl you over with their heated Nike Vaseline IIIs. One would think they would be a perennial powerhouse if this was the case. Not so. Kirk Ferentz has a fine eye for two and three star recruits that become valuable assets to his team. The progression of his players has something to do with their first year training. Most freshman are redshirted at the bottom of his family’s corn silos and will only see the lights of Kinnick Stadium by eating themselves out and sprinting to the field twenty miles down the road. The Hawkeyes may be losers individually, but as a team they are a reliable bet, most of the time. Let’s say a 77.8% of the time, which is not a bad clotting average for Iowan hearts.
The much anticipated rebound game to prove we aren’t Michigan 2009, never came. At one point the Hawkeyes were pulverizing us by three TDs. We had four turnovers, Denard looked human and injured, and we lost. The only bright spot was Tater Nutz coming in and exacting his revenge on the Iowa secondary in a way that made it seem like they brutally shit stomped his pet dog the night after Christmas the year before. The loss was not as bad until the immediate thought that popped into everyone’s head a second later. The thought of shitting the bed with no change of sheets hit us like a high-speed collision. Everything else in your world disappeared into a bright yellow flash. No pain because the thought rendered you frozen and unconscious like a dead fish. No noise, feeling, or sight could distract us from it. We were “on our way out” as Doctors like to say. The thought? We were now one step closer to reliving a nightmare that would even scare Charles Manson, the nightmare of repeating 2009. Shoelace D Robinson’s injury was unknown, and we felt like we lost to someone we should have beaten like an ugly stepchild. Oh God! This can’t be happening, again! At least we had a bye week and thought of it as an incubator bringing Denard back to life as well as our team against a struggling Penn State team and their freshman QB. I would be in attendance to see the resurrection of the team in one of my personal most hated teams to walk on the face of this planet besides that gang of toothless junkies in Ohio.
October 30th, 2010. Penn State. Hot damn, it was Halloween again. I was ready to get weird in public. What better place that State College, Pennsyltucky? If there is any place to get weird it would be here where those freaks should all be put to sleep. I arrived at my tailgating position and set up Weird Camp. I was clearly not welcome, but no shit was given. The freaks that worship a man older than god had the audacity to send a meek and unwanted guest to my camp asking for beer as if I owed the bastard even one hair from my scrotum. After I held my tongue and respectfully declined his request for an alcoholic beverage he began berating me for being alive and wasting my body on the colors of maize and blue. The man-child didn’t know he was dealing with the king of weird that was about a 5th of the way through two bottles of rum. I unkindly explained he was another jackass looking for attention that he didn’t receive from his parents at a young age. After he didn’t take to that too well, I conveyed that I would give his lame ass a severe beating if I ever caught the sleazy little freak sneaking around my camp again. In my way of thought, I was sure my team was thinking the same thing about the Penn State Geriatrics.
As soon as I arrived to my seat, an ominous tone that has been spoken of before raised its ugly head once again. I got the pleasure of getting to sit amongst my Michigan brethren for the first time at Beaver Stadium, but I noticed a Michigan sister paler than the white pom poms the jackwads in PSU’s student section were holding. As soon as I noticed her complexion, she tossed her Coors Light in a warm puddle all over the bleacher in front of her and next to me. I could tell she hadn’t had any food at her camp from the insides that laid next to me. Her friends quickly rushed her out of the stadium after I did a quick clean up job with her scarf. To sooth my nerves and uptick my buzz from the legal and illegal substances I engrossed myself in at the Weird Camp, I drank their unopened 24 oz. Coors Light can they left behind and lit up a cigarette at my cold lonely seat. They came back eventually, but either did not notice or care that I drank their beer that they so ever carefully smuggled into the game.
After my Turkish tobacco stick, I realized our good chances of beating this team. Their freshman QB had suffered a concussion the week before and now they were forced to play a walk on sophomore that named rhymed with McGroin. Life was good. I felt I was floating. Couldn’t tell if it was a predictive feeling or the buzz I had. As the game reached halftime, I was looking for my parachute cord to no avail. I instantly wanted to find the poor girl who vomited to use her soothsaying powers for the second half. Michigan was down 28-10 at half time and I could only imagine my ex girlfriend sitting somewhere in the student section snickering until she collapsed due to affixation. Well, I bought the ticket; I might as well take the ride. Maybe the second half would bring the supreme comeback of the year. I found out that that was the joint thinking. Michigan performed valiantly, but ended up on the short end of a 41-31 stick. The weirdest thing about this game in the freak kingdom was that Michigan was outgained in total yardage by a team with a first time starting walk on QB. Maybe this was not an anomaly, but the ineptitude of an ever growing liable defense. Michigan could not stop PSU on a third down even if GERG threatened to pluck out his beautiful locks of hair and sacrifice them to the Bull God. The positive note? Shoelace D Robinson returned to his usual form passing for 190 yards and rushing for 191 with 4 TDs. He was 19 yards away from being the only player with three 200/200 yard games in a season. The next game on the schedule was Illinois, the land of my birth. Also the land that shit stomped PSU 33-13 and held the number 15th defense in the nation. I thought we were doomed, lost like pigs in the wilderness- a gang of squabbling losers with no pride, shame, and no hope for the next 20 years. Guaranteed fear and loathing. Abandon all hope. Prepare for weirdness again. Get familiar with cannibalism.
November 6th, 2010. Illinois. In years past, Illinois was a notch above a bye week. The starters would only play half the game and the Illinois cheerleaders would be passed out from a combination bender of booze and hashish. Not this year. Since Monday (Sunday was a blur of a hangover and Dido songs), I was in the grip of agony. Things went downhill in a hurry since the Michigan State game. Besides the impending slip into football abyss on my mind, my dentist botched my root canal, and I slipped on a balcony ledge and sustained a nasty subdural hematoma that almost ended my life. After getting past a heavy week I thought to myself that not long ago I looked forward to Saturdays in the fall with a certain giddy expectation, like a vacation coming up. No longer, not after these past three seasons of continual pain in my stomach equivalent to blue balls. For the past three years we were beaten and disgraced. I did not assume it would change against an upcoming average offense and a stout defense that crushed the opponent that de-pants us the week before. I had my blotter sheet and razor blades ready for the inevitable. I was at least leaving this world in a ball of fury and excessiveness.
The first quarter ended 7-6 in favor of the good guys. The defense looked surprisingly better. Could this last? The answer was no. At this point I would have covered my tongue with some tiny leprechaun stamps on my coffee table however Illinois’ defense seemed to catch the same disease we have been ailing from the whole year. At halftime the score was a dead heat at 31 all. This is why I don’t gamble. If given an over/under I would have most likely picked under. The offensive explosion that unraveled before my eyes could have shocked Larry King so much that his pacemaker would have exploded on air even if his interviewee was Ted Koppel explaining the electoral votes of Wyoming in the 1916 election. After halftime the horserace continued. It was like watching two speed junkies racing the wrong way on a one way street in order to score a fix that’s end would not only be dangerous, but leave the defenses disgraced. Thankfully most football games end after sixty minutes. Not this game. Not this day. The rocket race to win the 2nd worst defense award ended after three electrifying overtimes. The game was so intense and gripping that I didn’t notice my dog gyrating all over the place and trying to stab the cat with its damn dewclaws. I did notice that my blotter sheet was missing. Anywhoo, to get back on track from that train wreck of a situation, I was blown away when the play to finally end the game was a defensive stand by the Michigan defense. This told me something. They may be rag-tag division II backups, but they were my rag-tag division II backups and they lived up to the wolverine namesake. Frequently outsized and out popularized by other four legged beasts, they were willing to break their own neck to make that single play to seal the deal and protect the bounty that their offense was hoarding on frequent kills.
One thing was for sure on the well lit streets of Ann Arbor that night. That Saturday night even fools could cut loose and take risks that would be out of the question on any other night: get drunk, shoot guns, dance naked in the streets, and hack into the Pentagon database. If Sunday is the Lords day, then Saturday night belonged to the Devil. It was the only night of the week he gave out free passes to the Late Show at the Too Much Fun Club.
November 13th, 2010. Purdue. 13 has always been a quasi mark of the beast, at least a mark when he unleashes his demon spirits upon the world. The poor number 13 has been stigmatized for decades. This day was no different. I attended the Michigan-Purdue game the year before in Ann Arbor when it was uncharacteristically 65 degrees and sunny. The weather gods fooled me. Michigan jumped up to a 24-10 lead and looked well on their way to a bowl eligible year only to come out and get chewed up and spit out to lose. I was incensed. I burned my ticket and drank the rest of my Miller High Life cammo cans as my ex-girlfriend sneakily giggled inside at the loss of my sanity. Not only did Purdue beat them, but their slime sucker of a coach made it a point to get full embarrassment out of it by having a player suspended for not following the rules assist him in finding mid-field to blame Rich Rodriguez for the situation. After burning my ticket was complete, I raved, babbled, and threatened to piss down their spines to consummate my feelings for them. I claimed that this year Michigan would beat them. They were a puffball team with no soul and we would beat them like the sick rats that they were. It was really stupid, vengeful stuff. It was ugly and wrong. It sounded like something you would hear out of a sleazy drunken sot, which I was at the time. I still did not hide how much I wanted to destroy them this year.
It was monsoon season in central Indiana. I couldn’t imagine anyone wanting to see it in person as much as someone that goes out to sea for eight days and nights on the ocean with no engine and no radio. It would be madness by any nautical wisdom. Only a fool or desperate man would even think about it. The risks were too high and our chances of escaping unharmed or dead seemed to be 1-44. Denard would be slowed down by the lakes on the field and our turnover bug would rear its ugly head again.
Purdue let that little shyster coach take over the once respectable program that enjoyed his slimy role as a pimp and prostitute all at once by playing clearly injured players to beat his new boogeyman, Rich Rodriguez. It was by no means a pretty ugly game with ten turnovers combined. If this were a healthy Purdue team, there would have been cause for concern, but a crippled team will never beat a healthy team. You couldn’t help but feel sorry for Hope’s players. I still rooted against them vehemently because Hope was a backstabbing punk with the soul of a rat and the heart of a filthy virus. The NCAA should have had him committed to a state mental hospital and locked down with restraints until he gets his entire body dyed bright maize, which will stay on his skin forever. At halftime we were up 14-10. Only leading by four points left me with a queasy feeling in my stomach. Why was I all of a sudden plagued by memories of false hubris and total collapse again? Am I fool? Thankfully Michigan escaped with a victory, albeit an ugly victory. I could still celebrate though. The victory against them was a moment to slip the dagger between Hope’s rib cage and twist. The true Hope haters out there loved the fleecing, whipping, cruelty, and stabbing feeling that Hope must have felt. When you can physically feel their pain, that is what makes winning so fun, it is wonderful. The feeling in Ann Arbor was that this was an ugly win. Winning can be ugly but it is another universal language along with simple mathematics, cold beer, and wild sex with Jimsonweed. Any traveler conversant in these tongues and football too would find friends that night in Ann Arbor. Take my word for it.
Impending doom lurked ahead. A two headed pig monster in Wisconsin and Ohio State lay ahead. It was definitely going to be a tough road ahead, but at least the feelings of not going to a bowl were put to rest and we gained a little momentum going into these fights with overgrown swine.
November 20th, 2010. Wisconsin. Those just checking out of the hospital bed from pneumonia thanks to the deluge in West Lafayette and checking into their own bed to catch the late night sports news may have had a heart condition to revisit a hospital for. During the everlasting water balloon fight at Purdue, Wisconsin was drubbing Indiana as a world power would in a war with Tajikistan. They were like your neighborhood bully that spent weeks training in his basement with rabid pit bulls, a Bo-Flex, and lead weights just to beat your ass. The upsetting part about Wisconsin this year was that their meathead coach was more unlikable than usual. I don’t know what his deal was/is this year. Most likely he found out he was a crossbreed love child of Kenneth the Page from 30 Rock and a hormone injected T-bone steak that set him off on a point rampage the second half of the season. He came to Ann Arbor with his band of cheese heads that wouldn’t know the difference between a carrot from a poison meat whistle.
Wisconsin had a QB by the name of Scott Tolzien, who has a bitching arm and a nice habit of lulling a defense asleep with normal stuff and suddenly breaking their backs with long weird strikes to the heart. Right down the middle-so fast that it catches you flat footed, two steps behind and stupid. If we were going to win this one, it was going to be a shootout. In order for us to participate in a shootout, our offense made one big mistake at least in the first half. They forgot to score points. It was ugly. I was left at halftime smoking half a pack of my cigarettes trying to catch cancer as soon as possible. The game was over at halftime, but after two halves the score ended 48-28. It wasn’t 83, but it might as well have been. The Wolverines were ripped to shreds. They were utterly demoralized. It was painful. They were like helpless bums being chewed up and spit out, right in front of our eyes. They withered and turned to jelly. I felt sorry for the poor souls. The players seemed to be suffering the whole game from a severe dose of ether. You lose all functions of your body but your head still knows what is going on. Until the same is done to Bielema and his meatheads, I fear I will have recurring nightmares about it, causing me to wake up sweating and screaming like some kind of pig being eaten my meat bats.
Next week wasn’t going to get any better. Our brutalized Wolverines were going into the dumbest and most dangerous city in America for anyone with an IQ over 23, Columbus. If you haven’t started with cannibalism, you better start. The Detroit Free Press was arms and legs ahead of anyone.
November 26th, 2010. Ohio State. Hatred is a funny thing. It is usually viewed as a negative attribute of someone’s character. Those that think this have obviously never been stabbed, beaten, or walked out their front door in their lives. That or they are lying. There of course is the feeling of intense anger. That is what everyone knows about hatred. What most don’t know, or won’t admit is that hatred is also balls to walls pleasurable. If we didn’t have hate, what motivation would we have had in creating fast food, the second amendment, and the death penalty? Motivation was in huge order for our boys. They were just humiliated by Wisconsin and faced an opponent unabashed to show hatred for them and intellect. The hate didn’t only come from their players and coaches, but also their fans. The Buckeye nation is beyond doubt the sleaziest, rudest, and most sinister mob of thugs and wackos ever assembled under a single “roof” so to speak, anywhere in the English speaking world. They are a profoundly disagreeable cult that meets every Saturday from August to January.
Days before the game, the Buckeyes release images of the jerseys they would wear for The Game. I was expecting them to sport numbers no higher than three on a vest with nipple holes cut out of the chest. It was worse. We would be playing bloody tampons honoring the smartest class that ever graduated that godforsaken college, the 1942 Ohio State Buckeyes. Over 12% of them graduated that year. All I could think is how any of us could need this public lewdness in such a time of fear and depression. I believe we were 18 point underdogs. I am surprised Vegas just didn’t take us off the board coming off a lackluster performance against Wisconsin. I was hoping for anything to give us an advantage before the game, maybe with luck Jim Tressell was caught in the act of fondling a foreign flag on his vest while prancing around the streets of Columbus in black tuxedo thong. This however never came to fruition. We were going into this game as heavy underdogs. There are many things in life that suck waking up to. Ague fever, shin splints, chicken pox, projectile vomit, rickets, and even black hairy tongue disease, which is highly contagious, are all better than waking up knowing you lost to Ohio State the day before.
High noon. The Game begins. The first quarter blew my mind away. We looked as if we were controlling The Game. A 0-0 tie at the end of it. I would settle for that score because it would piss them off more than us. End the game oh god; end it now with a good old fashion dust storm. As proved true the whole season, the gods were not with us. After competing at a high level for most of the half in a 10-7 ballgame, things immediately went south. After kicking the ball off to the Buckeyes, they returned it all the way to make it 17-7. I knew then things would unravel for our uncannily young and hobbled team. The score at halftime was 24-7. We were flogged, flummoxed, and humiliated on worldwide TV. By halftime I felt stupid and wrong in every way. It was like dying and going to hell. We lost the game as expected, 37-7. Losing to Ohio State was bad. Luckily or unluckily my friend hid every sharp object in my house. This loss was worse though, it was seven in a row. I longed for the nostalgia of the days of that poor sap John Cooper. Hanging with Mr. Cooper was fun because we owned him.
We lost two in a row in disgraceful fashion. A spiral that goes straight down at unholy speed is called a vortex, I think, and a spiral that whirls straight up is called a tornado. The only sure difference between being sucked down a bottomless sinkhole and getting sucked up in the air while strapped into your car and then dropped like a bomb on a schoolhouse 12 miles away is that your scrambled remains will be easily identified if you fall from the sky on a schoolhouse. Your family will be disgraced and their auto insurance will be canceled for unexplained reasons. Winning becomes a habit and losing does in the same way. When failure starts to feel normal in your life, work, or even your darkest vices, you won’t have to go looking for trouble, because trouble will find you. Count on it.
November 27th, 2010. End of regular season. The autumn season is coming to a close. In comes Old Man Winter whose breath reeks of death and uncertainty. Some say this season was a joke. To which others viscously disagree, to which I say there are no jokes. The truth is the funniest joke of them all. Actually I didn’t say that, Muhammad Ali did. The harshest lesson one can learn when being an avid and rabid sports fan like I, is that there is a difference in having fun and being smart. It is the only thing that keeps me sane. Most “experts”, including myself expected a seven win season, eight at best. After seeing the possibilities on this team I could lose what’s left of my mind in trying to live for just fun. The smart in me is telling me that this season was just reality, case closed. We are now in a limbo period of slow football news. Every injury update, word, tweet, and tidbit of news drives us to be rats in heat clawing amongst each other. It doesn’t help that the inflammatory so called journalists hailing out of Detroit are making things worse. The dumbness of Detroit sportswriters is a subject long thought to be settled and exhausted, but let’s hit on it one more time, just for fun….Many, or maybe just I have described them as “a rude and brainless subculture of fascist drunks” and “more disgusting by nature than maggots oozing out of the carcass of a dead animal….” But they keep coming back for more like pimps and real estate agents, and this season my patience is running out with them. They are hell bent on destroying our program from outside and within by printing lies and shit a dog wouldn’t even eat out of a catbox. It has been quite painful to sit and watch as everyone involved in the program twist in the wind until those swine are put in their place and the truth is brought to the light.
Of all the shocks and pain that the past three football seasons brought, the worst of all is the ending of it. Fortunately this season bucks the trend. We were invited to the Gator Bowl to play the Bulldogs of Mississippi State. All I know about Mississippi is Brett Favre, Eli Manning, and disturbing scenes from the movie Deliverance. None of which are very popular right now. However the chance of redemption whirls in the wind. That wind takes us to Jacksonville, Florida. It is no accident that this viscous mess has come to a head in Florida. I have known great happiness in Florida and I still have a certain love for it. But I also know it to be the most corrupt and profoundly degenerate state in the Union besides Ohio. More murders and rapes go unreported in Florida each year than in Corsica and Sicily combined. The state has no income tax and essentially no laws. Its cities are ruled by depraved sots and its universities are snake pits of cheating and random sex in public. To redeem our season, we must dive deep within the cesspool filled with said snakes and grab victory from the jaws of a team of overweight bulldogs. Good news is rare these days, and every glittering ounce of it should be cherished, hoarded, worshipped, and fondled like a diamond necklace around a beautiful Amsterdam hooker.
I will root one more time this football season for my beloved Wolverines with everything I have left inside me from this rollercoaster of a ride they call a sport. I am more than just a serious Wolverine fan. I am a lifelong addict. I was addicted from a young age, in fact, because I lived in Michigan and I learned, early on, that habitual dominance was a natural way of life. The first time I managed to suit up for football practice, I knew I was destined to lead the University of Michigan to another Big Ten and national championship. Even now, so many years later, I still believe Michigan will go undefeated and win everything when August and Autumn roll around again.
That is it for now folks. There is no more until after the Gator Bowl. Hail to the Victors.
With a turnover margin (TOM) of –9 for the year and a national ranking of #110, the only conclusion that could be drawn is that TOM was a significant factor that caused Michigan to lose more games this year. That conclusion is absolutely WRONG. In reality, positive TOMs helped Michigan win as many games this year as negative TOMs contributed to M losing games!
Situational Analysis of Turnovers: At the end of the 2009 season, my youngest son and I were talking about the effect of turnovers (TOs) on college football games. We both agreed that looking at the total TOs for an entire season was stupid and irrational (sorry, Phil Steele). Intuitively, we also concluded that, even on a game by game basis, merely looking at the end-of-game turnover margin (TOM) without considering the situation that existed at the time each TO took place was lazy analysis with the potential for invalid conclusions. We both thought there would be a significant number of turnovers that would be meaningless (e.g. interceptions of a hail mary pass at the end of the half/game, turnovers during garbage time, etc.) Hence, was born the weekly situational analysis of TOs.
Sample Size: One team for one year is about the most minute sample size available. It is what it is. Most of the conclusions stated below are based on only the 2010 season for Michigan. However, IMHO many of the conclusions are valid across all of college football.
Conclusion #1: TOs Affect Virtually All Games. I do have game-by-game TO data for M for the past 5 years (60 games). Only twice (PSU this year and Minnesota in 2006) were there no TOs by either team. Thus, over 98% of all games are affected to some degree by TOs. Over the past 5 years, M had no TOs in 11 games and the opponents had no TOs in 11 games. A team can expect that it will give away the ball at least once in 80% of the games but can also expect to take away the ball at least once from the opponent in 80% of the games. There were 15 games with a TOM of –0-. About 75% of all games will end with a TOM of at least 1 while 25% of games will end with a TOM of –0-.
Conclusion #2: Almost All TOs Are Situationally Important. This was one of the surprises (at least to me). There were a total of 45 TOs in Michigan games this year. Of these, only 8 were basically meaningless (4 because an M interception was followed on the same play by an M fumble and 4 because the game was in garbage time). Thus, 80 % of all TOs occurred at a time when the outcome of the game was still in doubt. This is probably understated since the probability that an interception will be followed by a fumble on the same play has to be very small (even though it did happen twice this year). Without these 4 TOs, approximately 90% of all TO were situationally important.
Conclusion #3: Overall Turnover Margin for the Year Tells Us Very Little. Here is the TO summary for the year.
Without knowing when TOs occurred during the 12 game regular season, this means virtually nothing. It does not tell us how many games ended with a positive or negative TOM for Michigan. It does not tell us if TOs were significant in any games. It does not tell us if TOs helped win some games, lose some games, or had no impact at all.
Conclusion #4: Positive TOMs Helped Michigan Win As Many Games This Year As Negative TOMs Contributed To M Losing Games. M had 2 games with a positive TOM and the TOs helped win both games (UConn & ND). Michigan had 6 games with a TOM of –0- and won 4 of those games (UMass, BGSU, Indiana, Purdue) while losing 2 (Penn State, Wisconsin). M had 4 games with a negative TOM and actually won one of those (Illinois with a TOM of –4). Of the other 3, TOs were a primary factor in 2 losses (MSU and Iowa) but in one (osu) it is doubtful TOs were a significant factor in the loss. Therefore, if all games had ended with a TOM of –0-, it is likely M would still be 7-5 but with losses to UConn & ND and wins against MSU and Iowa. (And, yeah, that would be a lot better.)
Looking at the game by game analysis, if M had been able to eliminate the TOs in the MSU and Iowa games, an overall record of 9-3 would have been possible even though the overall TOM for the year would still have been –2.
Game By Game Detailed Analysis:
This is an excellent example of the importance of situational analysis of TOs. Based on the final score of 30-10 and a TOM of just +1, the initial conclusion would be that TOs were NOT significant in this game. However, the TO occurred at 2:29 of the third quarter with M ahead 21-10 and UConn going for a 4th and 1 at the M7. UConn had gotten the first down when Floyd forced a fumble at the M3 that was recovered by Ezeh. Without this TO it is likely that UConn would have scored a TD bringing the game to 21-17 with the momentum shifting to UConn. The TO was a significant factor in the Michigan win. This is also the game that M blocked a UConn FG attempt (blocked FGs are not counted as a TO).
This game is fairly obvious. Without the 3 TOs, M would likely lose the game. The first TO was an interception by Mouton at the ND40 and returned to the ND31. M scored on the next play to tie the game at 7-7. The second interception by Floyd at the M37 stopped an ND possession with the score 14-7 Michigan. The third by Kovacs was at the ND 35 and returned to the ND25. M did not score but punted to the ND4.
These 5 games ended with TOM of –0-. The UMass game had the first meaningless TOs – the M interception followed by a lost fumble on the same play. The other 2 TOs in the UMass game basically offset one another. The BGSU game was really never competitive and I considered all 4 TOs as meaningless (this is the other game that had an interception followed by a lost fumble on the same play). The Indiana game had 2 huge TOs (M fumble at the goal line and Indiana intercepted in the end zone) but they did offset one another. There were no TOs in the Penn State game.
Although the Wisconsin game had a TOM of –0-, M missed a FG and also failed to recover 2 onside Kickoffs that were very recoverable.
The Purdue game had the next meaningless TO (M interception of a hail mary pass at the end of the half). Therefore, this game really had a TOM of –1 for M. I was fracking nervous for the entire game. There were so many TOs that the game could have gone either way with 2 TOs retuned for TDs, a fumbled punt leading to a TD, and an interception leading to a FG. All this pretty much ended with the TOs not impacting which team won the game. My gut feel is that the game was closer than it should have been because of all the TOs.
I have no doubt that both the MSU and Iowa games were decided by TOs. Two interceptions in the endzone when the receivers were open and a third interception with 12:23 left in the fourth quarter with M trailing by 14 points (31-17) were the primary reasons for the loss. The Iowa game had a meaningless TO at 1:54 left in the fourth quarter and M trailing by 10 points. The other 3 TOs and another blocked FG were key reasons for the loss.
Michigan defied the odds in the Illinois game by winning with a TOM of –4.
The final score in the osu game makes it difficult to conclude that TOs had an impact. Michigan needed a well played game plus a positive TOM to make this game competitive. Neither happened.