It was 1969, a year Iggy Pop would immortalize in song. A year in which many a body bag got filled in ‘Nam. Some guy called “Bo” came up from Ohio to replace some guy named “Bump”. The whole freaking world was changing at a rate hard to measure without an electron stopwatch. Hippies were promoting free love and revolution and drugs. The White Panthers and the Rainbow People’s Party had houses on Hill Street. Black people were demanding to be treated like actual human beings; not asking, demanding. Walter Cronkite was still cool, but so was Joe Namath.
Me and Allan, my best bud, walked from Melrose Street to the stadium. No tickets. Didn’t have a nickel between us, but we were going to the Game. Our friends would be there, like always, in the south end zone about sixty or seventy rows up.
With our best pathetic faces, we stood at the corner of Stadium and Main begging for tickets--for all of about twenty seconds. Some drunk rich guy staggers up to us. “Here ya go, boys!”, he says. “Have a good time!” Allan looks over the tickets. 45 yard line, fifty rows up, west side. WTF! Ten minutes later we’d sold them for ten bucks apiece, had climbed under the fence by Crisler Arena and after a quick stop at the hot dog stand, were on our way to our rightful spots amongst the Tappan Junior High congregation. Life was good.
Some idiot, I don’t remember who, was handing out free apples. Jim Lampley, then a budding cub reporter, was standing on a riser in the southwest corner of the playing field doing some advance work for the TV. Well, he was making an attempt. Suddenly a hail of apples descended upon him like cluster bombs out of a Tomahawk Missile. I must admit that I did in fact aim for his head, but was pleased with the chest shot that connected—along with several other young apple snipers. Jim Lampley relocated. We laughed and taunted.
Back then they had no end zone nets. They had the hated Yellow Jackets—the guys responsible for retrieving footballs out of the crowd after extra points and field goals. We hated them. They hated us. We both knew the battles this day would be fierce. Our resolve was strong that day at the start, but after the Wolverines started chewing up some Buckeye ass—well, we would have stomped little old ladies into the ground to secure that pigskin manna falling to us from the heavens. And yes, we liberated more than one trophy that day.
Few people around today are witness to the thundering roar heard for miles that used to crack the atmosphere Saturday afternoons—that is, the stomping of feet on the steel bowl girding the concrete pit of Michigan Stadium. It sounded like a nuclear bomb attempting to extinguish an F5 Tornado hovering over a burning fireworks factory. Opposing teams used to experience anal pucker level 10 the first time they were beseeched by this auditory and vibratory assault. Wolverines used to jack up like crack heads air lifted into Peru. (Key Play? We would have kilt you and ate your young!) I’m telling you, the Wolverine Army could have taken Moscow that day and still had enough left to bum rush Peking.
As the human wave crashed the field after the boom of the final gun, and assaulted the goal posts at the north end, it was evident all intelligence had evaporated in a radioactive cloud of fanatic lust that remains lurking even today. We brought down the goal posts. Toppling over the shared gravitational pull of the goal post brought with it every fan whose muscle, sinew and brainwaves had propelled them into history. A mere two feet from my face, as I was crashed to the turf by the tidal wave of screaming fans, the corner of the goal post dug a good 9 inches deep. It was truly a miracle no one was kilt.
As Allan and I watched the frat boys carry those goal posts out of the stadium that day the sun was slipping behind some clouds and a grayness befell the Earth as if to say, you will never again witness such a contest. Be grateful. Though I had been to many Michigan games before then, that day, I felt truly baptized. I knew then, the Wolverines—win, lose or draw—would be my team forever.
Well it looks like i missed an interesting night last night. Overheard some people in the WLA say that I was the topic of a nice little post. Apparently I have made such an impression on people that there is a need around here to call me out personally for answering questions and giving my insights. I do not want to start another thread of attack, but I do want to answer some questions.
1. I liked Shafer at Michigan because i run a lot of Shafers schemes. I liked the idea of being able to follow the WOlverines over the next several years, knowing the terminology being used, the direction and the focus of the Defense, and such. I was supprised when he got the job, and was excited to tell people about what to expect over the years. Im sad to see him go, becasue i believed that if given time, he would have had michigans defense rolling, and i was excited about seeing someone at michigan who was going to emphasis technique and fundamentals.
2. I was a Michigan fan long before Shafer came around, and I was very excited to be apart of a blog community interested in knowing more about football, and offer another perspective. If by offering my perspective I offended people i appologize, as obviously it was not my intent. Still think that over the past couple of years I have been on the receiving in of many more attacks, then i have given out. But i appologize for any attack i have made, as one is too many.
3. Shafer not being at Michigan does ABSOLUTELY nothing to shake my confidence in my ability to break down a football play, to talk football, or to coach football. It has never been about proving myself on here. In fact its all been about talking Michigan football.
4. I like this Blog, i like Brian, and I like the WLA.. So im not going anywhere.... sorry to dissapoint some of you...
5. I like to talk about Skull cracking, Butt-kicking, weight-lifting, football stuff, becasue that is a big part of my life. In all reality i am exactly like i am in here, a nice guy with a pretty big heart, but kinda crazy. Im new to the world of internet tough guys, and bullying, so i am not very good at it, and most of the people that have a problem with me are much better at writing then I am, so be it. If anyone REALLY has a problem with me, im not too hard to find...
I've read here and elsewhere that going to the 3-3-5 will hurt recruiting, especially D-Line. The reasons given vary, but center on the assumption that D-Line players won't want to play the 3-3-5 since they are not "showcased" (or words to that effect). I decided to take a look at the one program I know runs the 3-3-5 consistently (WVU) and see if their defensive recruiting (and especially D-Line recruiting) is consistent with this claim.
**NOTE: ALL rankings according to Scout**
Last year, their defensive line recruiting was pretty good (2 3-star DTs, a 4-star DE and a 3-star DE to go along with two more 2-star linemen). That is a pretty good haul for WVU. For comparison, they only pulled in 6 3-star or above players on offense, compared to 4 on the D-Line alone (along with 8 more LBs or secondary players).
In 2007, they got a 4-star DT, a 3-star DE and one additional 2-star DT. Defensive recruiting again was a bit better than offensive, with only 2 of 16 defensive recruits below 3-star status (compared with 2 out of 11 on the offensive side).
In 2006 they had a crappy class in general, but note that 4 of their 5 3-star or higher rated players are on the defensive side of the ball.
In summary, while the recruiting classes at WVU are generally lower quality than UM classes, within those classes, RR doesn't seem to have had a problem recruiting for the 3-3-5, especially the D-Line. If fact, it seems he had an easier time recruiting defensive players than offensive players.
Side note: It does appear true that the supers WVU (rarely) got tended to be on the offensive side of the ball--Devine, Gwaltney, Jenkins--but those were few and far between.
The recent happenings at Auburn have left a few of their commits looking for possible new homes. Louisiana receiver Travante Stallworth is still committed to Auburn, but will be taking visits to both Michigan and South Carolina. He's 5' 10" 180 pounds, and runs a 4.4 40. He's a dual threat quarterback for his high school, and has been recruited as a wide receiver by every school but one. Take a look at which school that is after Stallworth's highlight video:
TOM: So are you still committed to Auburn, since you’re now looking at other schools?
TRAVANTE: Yes sir, I’m still committed to Auburn.
TOM: When did you decide you wanted to start looking around?
TRAVANTE: I decided last weekend to take visits, when I found out who the new coach was. I just wanted to look at new schools, and make sure I was still in the best place.
TOM: Was that the main reason, or was there anything else?
TRAVANTE: Well, they fired the staff too, and I was real close to the TE/WR coach. I haven’t talked to anybody from Auburn since. My recruiting coordinator got fired, but he called me yesterday. That’s the only person I’ve talked to.
TOM: So what schools are you most interested in right now?
TRAVANTE: I’m highly interested in Michigan, I’m real interested in South Carolina, and I’m kind of interested in TCU.
TOM: Tell me what it is about those schools that stand out to you.
TRAVANTE: With Michigan there’s so much history. My coach called me two weeks ago and said Michigan is interested, and my eyes got big, because not everyone gets that opportunity. I already know what kind of offense they run, and it’s the same offense we run in high school. With South Carolina it’s still in the south, and kind of close to home. They also said I’ll get a chance to play early. Steve Spurrier is a great coach, and his son is the offensive coordinator. In their offense, they throw the ball a lot, so I like that.
TOM: What position are you being recruited at?
TRAVANTE: Everyone is recruiting me as a wide receiver, and Michigan said I can try quarterback if I want.
TOM: Are you going to make an announcement if you decide to choose schools?
TRAVANTE: I’m just trying to wait and see how everything goes, I’ll probably just wait until signing date to see where I’m going to go.
TOM: What if you go to one of these visits, and it blows you away, do you think you’ll make a decision on the spot?
TRAVANTE: Yea, if it blows me away, then yea I’ll make a decision right there. My mom is coming with me on the visits, so she’ll be there to help.
TOM: I’ve seen your highlight tape, and you look good, what do you think the reason some schools are coming onto you late?
TRAVANTE: I don’t know why they came on late. Michigan is just looking for more athletes. A lot of schools don’t have a lot of time to talk during the season, so I understand. I think my commitment had something to do with it too.
TOM: What were the reasons that you originally committed to Auburn?
TRAVANTE: I chose Auburn because it was close to home, my dad is in the military and stationed 30 minutes away. I also have family in Florida, and the last thing was the offense they were running.
TOM: You’ve mentioned a couple times about distance, and the south. Will that play into your decision?
TRAVANTE: No, distance won’t play in to it. I’m a military kid, so I’ve been moving a lot. My other relatives can watch me if I choose Michigan because they’re always on TV.
TOM: What do you say to coaches when they ask you what you bring to the table?
TRAVANTE: I’m a great kid, and I don’t get in trouble. I focus on my school work. I’m not going to be out worked on the field. My coach always tells us not to get out worked. I just want to be the best that I can be, and learn as much as I can.
TOM: What other teammates do you have that are going through the recruiting process as well?
TRAVANTE: Our running back, Michael Ford, he’s committed to LSU. Our safety is committed to Louisiana Tech. We have a LB/DL going to Grambling, and we’re trying to get another wide receiver and corner back to go somewhere. I introduce all the coaches to most of the people I play with, we’re all close so it would be nice to have someone come with me where ever I go.
TOM: When is your Michigan visit, and what are you looking for on these trips?
TRAVANTE: January 9th is the date to Michigan. I’m real high on facilities, and I already know Michigan has great facilities. I want a great degree in case football doesn’t work out. Just how the fan base is, and the people there. I want to play early too, so that will factor in as well.
TOM: A question I’ve been asking a lot of recruits is about Michigan’s losing season. How did that affect you?
TRAVANTE: The losing doesn’t affect me, because Coach Rodriguez is a great coach, and I know how fast he can turn things around. They’re trying to get their players real quick, and once he does they’re going to be real good.
Midweek update. Because no games of interest happen Thursday night this week. So, I’m posting this right now. I will admit this one is pretty similar to Monday’s.
So, so far, week’s gone well for us. There have only been four games of interest, and #25/#25 Clemson beat North Florida, #23/#21 Memphis beat Arkansas-Little Rock, and #19/#22 Michigan State beat the Citadel. Whatever.
The biggie, however, is that #24/#23 Marquette lost to #16/#19 Tennessee. This is great! This means Marquette should fall out of the polls. If we can beat Oakland, we WILL enter at least one. Which is sweet.
So, lemme plan your weekend, what to watch, where to watch it:
Well, actually, there are more priority games than non-priority games this week. But, you know, lots of important games.
Michigan v. Oakland: We win, we’re ranked. Its that simple. Also, LLP shows up. Which is cool. This one’s at the neutral Palace of Auburn Hills at 4:00pm, you can find it on FSN.
#19/#22 Michigan State at unanimous #5 Texas: Well, even though a loss by the Spartans could take them out of the polls opening another spot and further guaranteeing our entering and being ranked not too low our first week in, it’d be better for us to have Texas lose this one, because, well, we play MSU (at Crisler on February 10th. I think I’m going.), and what’s good for the Big T1e1n is good for us (for now). Should be a good game no matter how you root, catch it at 2:00pm on CBS.
#22/#20 Davidson at #13/#18 Purdue: GO BIG TEN! I’ll root for Purdue pretty hard here, because, well, the Big Ten winning is good, and, a solid Davidson loss could allow us to pass them in the polls, which would be hella tight. 4:00, CBS, just switch back and forth between this and the UofM game.
BYU at #20/#17 Arizona State: Alright, BYU is between us and a ranking in the coaches’ poll, so, them losing means they have no chance of getting the spot if only one spot opens, so, I’m pushing hard for a loss. This game is at 4:30pm, but, you’re not going to find it in Detroit. It’s on FSN, but, they’re showing the Michigan game here. Oh well.
#23/#21 Memphis at unanimous #11 Syracuse: Just another possible loss by a low-ranked team, which can help us get ranked, and not be ranked #25. 6:00pm, ESPN, also, if you’re computer-bound, ESPN360.com.
#25/#25 Clemson at Miami (FL): This one’s interesting. Either way this game goes, its good for us. Clemson loses, they fall out of the polls and there’s another spot available. Miami loses, well, they’re between us and a rank in the Coaches’ poll, and if that loss can be combined with a BYU loss, we get any open spots in that poll. So, uh, just, flip a coin or something. 7:45, FSN (even in Detroit).
Games that I care less about because the team that should win probably will:
#23/#24 Marquette v. Western Carolina, 8:30, Sports 32
#21/#24 Baylor v. Texas-Arlington, 9:30, Online
So, that’s that. With a big win and some luck, I think we could be looking at #23 or #22 next week. With a win at all, we’re looking at at least #25. Cool.
Also, #11 Colorado College plays Sacred Heart in hockey Friday and Saturday. No TV of any kind. Whatever.
Good night, Go Blue.
The Scout Top 100 list for 2010 is up, and one of the new five star recruits is Christian Lombard. He’s an offensive line recruit from Illinois, and has a hefty list of offers already. “I don’t really have a top list yet, I want to do some more research on all of them. The ones that I’ve visited will all be on my list though,” Lombard said. Christian has seen Michigan, Notre Dame, and Iowa. He is now going to start focusing more on recruiting as he goes into his senior year, and said that, “academics is number one, without an education there’s no football, next is the football team in general, and the training program, and third is the campus and everything outside of football.” The training program was one aspect that stuck out to him when he spoke with Mike Barwis. He said, “Coach Barwis is real high energy, I’ve met him a couple times. It was cool, when we were there, Braylon Edwards and Mike Hart were working out. It was cool to see some NFL players with him.” Lombard has a lot of offers from Midwest schools, but told me, “I’m not sure if distance is a factor yet, I’ve talked to the coaches at North Carolina, so we’ll just see how it plays out.” Christian came to Michigan on an unofficial visit, and got to watch the Michigan, Michigan State rivalry first hand. “It was definitely powerful. It was exciting, Michigan State had as many fans there as Michigan. That rivalry is huge, and the tradition there is pretty neat.” His footwork, knowledge of the game, and his strength are what he prides himself on, and uses to his advantage. His high school runs a variety of offensive schemes, and he told me, “We run pretty much everything, primarily a spread. I don’t really prefer a style, but I can run in a spread.” His coach has been helping him with the recruiting process, and it seems like he’ll let us know where he decides when he knows. “I’m just going to see what happens, when I find the school I think I fit into I’ll probably make my decision, why wait?”