...says Denzel Valentine of Big Ten Tourney favorite MSU, which is 5-7 in its last 12 games. Cumong, man.
This season stinks. No question about it. However, let's put things into a little perspective. This type of season is not unprecedented among the so-called "elite" of college football (a highly subjective list of my own choosing). Many "brand names" have faltered badly, some worse than our own beloved Wolverines this season. Frankly, it does make me feel a little less bad about the season. Combine that with the fact that RR has had an excellent track record wherever he has been and I have what I feel is justified optimism for the future of Michigan football.
Michigan: projected record of 4-8 (beat NU, lose to osu). First losing season since 1965.
Alabama: 5 losing seasons since 1993, including 1-12 (1993), 3-8 (2000), 4-9 (2003). Edit: it's been pointed out to me that 'Bama forfeited a lot of games in 1993, hence the crappy record. Point still stands, however, given 2000 and 2003.
Florida: Ok, really have to reach back for this one. They haven't had a losing season since 1979, but it was a doozy (0-10-1). They've actually been no worse than mediocre since, with the real upswing in the Spurrier era.
Florida State: After losing 19 games in 14 seasons (1987-2000), they've lost 17 in the past 3 (not counting 2008). Not quite the massive fall from grace witnessed elsewhere, but consecutive 7-6 seasons had a lot of people grumbling.
Georgia: After a national championship in 1980, they suffered 3 losing seasons in 7 years (1990-1996). A couple of beatdowns by top-ranked teams in 2008, but still ranked and miles ahead of the Goff/Donnan years.
LSU: We think of them as upper-echelon now, but there was a time from 1989-1999 where they had more losing seasons (8, including 2-9 and 3-8 campaigns) than winning seasons (3).
Nebraska: Thanks, Mr Bill. Nebraska has had 2 losing seasons in the past 4. Still have work to do in Lincoln.
Notre Dame: I won't dwell, but they've had 4 losing seasons since Michigan won the national championship. Michigan is having a bad season, but at least it's not MULTIPLE crappy seasons. There, I feel better now.
ohio state: Their most recent losing season was 1988 (and yes, Michigan eked out the win, thankfully), the first of the Cooper era. They've been decent since then (bastards), but there was a point where they sucked.
Oklahoma: They're great now, but there was a 4 year stretch from 1995-1998 where they never had more than 5 wins (3 losing seasons, including 3-8 one year).
Penn State: Again, won't dwell, but they've had 4 losing seasons since 2000 (in a 5 year span, I might add). They're all cocky and uppity now, but the 2000-2004 PSU fan would not have bragged so much.
Tennessee: Losing season in 2005. Plus, they're also 3-7 so far this season.
Texas: They've passed their doldrums, having had 6 losing seasons from 1987-1996. But those were some serious doldrums.
USC: Since 1983, only 3 losing seasons. BUT, they've also sprinkled in four .500 seasons and two 6-5 seasons. Number of 10-win seasons from 1980-2001? One. Michigan over that same timespan? Eight.
Losing still sucks, but don't you feel better now? Michigan football can (and, I believe, WILL) be back, as RR put it.
I just got back from a couple of nights in New Orleans and the LSU - Alabama game. Here are my observations from some classic football tourism:
Short of Austin where you can party in town one night, then take a cab to the game the next morning, the New Orleans / LSU game may be one of the great college tourism set ups.
It is about 80 miles from New Orleans from Baton Rouge. The Louisiana drivers are probably the only people that drive faster than Michigan drivers. The do it at about 90 MPH in big ass F250 and F350 Pickups and aren't afraid to tailgate (not the football kind).
We made the trip in no time then got off the freeway when it started to back up. We made it fast to about 3 miles from the stadium when traffic just locked up. This was two hours before game time and we could have walked faster from this point. Traffic and parking sucked - you would think LSU had never seen a crowd. We got to about 400 yards to the stadium then got sent back down another road away from the stadium. People were parking on the shoulder of the road, in the medians and literally in the left turn lanes (those folks got tickets) It was insane and totally f'd up. We drove through some ghetto apartment complexes and ended up on a road by the Mississippi River. We literally parked on the side of the road by the levee - had to walk two miles past cow pastures (with cows in the pasture!) then through the 'official' parking areas. We - my wife and I - did meet a nice LSU couple (more on them later) and we followed them on the trek to the stadium.
Three miles of travel, two hours before gametime and a two mile hike - we ended up with zero LSU tailgating experience - we met my friend with our tickets and got into the game with 3 minutes to spare before kickoff.
Pre-Kickoff - this was the absolutely loudest pre kick off I've ever experienced. The place was rocking - then they decided to launch fireworks before the LSU team came out. It was totally out of control and I was thinking this place is as loud as everyone says it is.
Our seats - we were with friends from Bama and we were Bama fans for the day. My wife had a Bama shirt on (from a trip to Tuscaloosa last year). I had a yellow Michigan T Shirt and a yellow M hat. We were in the south end zone - row 24 at the back of the Bama section - Tiger fans hard on our tail - about ten rows of them on our level and another tier above
The stadium - I was glad to be in the good Bama seats - endzone - vs the last row of the upper deck, those seats must have sucked. It was loud but not constantly loud and other than the start of the game and when the field goal was blocked at the end of regulation not as loud as you'd think from the stories you hear. This could be because it was not a 7PM game and people couldn't get to their pregame tailgates because of the F'in traffic! The stadium inside is a bit of a pit. We decided they actually have narrower aisles the Michigan Stadium and they paint the seat #s closer together. We stood up the whole game (no "down in front"). We also decided the Louisianans have a general lack of cleanliness. There is crap all over campus and all over the stadium. My wife saw two used tampons on the floor in the woman's bathroom.......
The game - one of the great ones. Alabama tried to lose it in the first half but still exited that half tied at 14. LSU's quarterback, had he been accurate, could have won the game. He wasn't and they didn't. We thought it was game LSU when they blocked the field goal but then there was that last INT in overtime.... The LSU fans may have been more subdued than normal due to the final score.
Football Tourism - like Brian at Auburn, I got a lot of "you are at the wrong game", "the big house is 1500 miles from here" etc. My standard response was that after our season, I needed to come see some football the way the SEC does it. Given that my shirt was yellow I also had a number of Tide fans think I was on the LSU side. Once I explained the football tourism I think most people got - all were cordial
The LSU fans - we were a bit apprehensive wearing Alabama colors (my buddy had a Bama shirt for me but that didn't work because of the f'in traffic!!!) and we heard stories that had them ranking up there with Buckeye fans. I was also expecting crap to rain down on us from up above. Nothing bad happened. Every LSU fan we met was at least ambivalent while most where down right friendly. I think the LSU fans are some of the best in college football.
LSU Tailgating - the LSU website talks about their great tailgating tradition - I have to say we did not see it. I thought the traffic was going to be a function of tons of folks hanging out and partying (not going to the game) we didn't see much of that. As I said we missed the pregame tailgating so I was looking forward to the post game tailgate (that and we knew there was no way to get out of town....) It wasn't very impressive. We ended up in the equivalent of the Victors club lot where our Alabama friends were tailgating with some LSU friends. In the smallest of small worlds - the LSU couple we hiked in with were at the tailgate that we ended up at. The LSU fans were great but there was very, very little tailgating post game - ten times less than I've seen in the lot by Crisler Arena - I don't care that this was an LSU loss, nobody was going anywhere fast anyway.
The Campus - we stopped by the next morning on our way back to the New Orleans airport. What a dirty place! they had the convicts - Dixon Correctional Institute - cleaning up the place. At least they were putting their tax dollars to use but maybe if they had trash cans and taught the local how to use them?!?. We wondered why Ms. Miles would want to live in Baton Rouge vs. Ann Arbor - I mean how much are your millions worth if you have to live in a $h!t H@#*?
All in all a great trip. Awesome game and the LSU fans are some of the best. Great stadium, mediocre tailgating, horrendous traffic and parking.
Michigan fans suck. We're annoying and we don't care. All of our fans are old and stupid. We are all frontrunning, fairweather fans who know nothing about the game. The Big House is the quietest stadium on God's lovely earth.
I was reading the Maize N Brew recap (http://www.maizenbrew.com/2008/11/9/657410/a-trip-to-austin-puts-mich) of a Texas game and it reminded me about Michigan fans' depressive nature regarding our own game experiences. Time and time again, I've heard Michigan fans complain about, well, Michigan fans. And, honestly, I used to be the same way, constantly bitching about Big House noise.
But then, I started to get around the Big Ten (and a couple of bowl games, as well), started paying attention to teams from other parts of the country, started meeting other fans, and came to a very, very odd conclusion: compared to just about everyone else, Michigan fans are good. Seriously, we're all so self-conscious about it, but we're not that bad. Sure, some old people suck and god knows the "Fire RichRod" contigency annoys the bejesus out of me, but really, every fan base has a group of spoiled, annoying old people that never get up (see: Brian's Auburn post).
Now, before you start hyperventilating, I think we can all recognize that Michigan is a big time college football program, and, as such, will have a superior game day atmosphere and fan base excitement level than most teams right off the bat. Anyone that has been to Northwestern's high school stadium or Indiana's We're at 50% Capacity?! That's a New Record! Field, can say that Michigan is automatically in the top 25 of all college footballdom in terms of game day hype and fanbase loyalty/excitement/etc.
So of that 10 percent, which fanbase would you classify as superior to ours? Rank it how you'd like (go ahead and do it in the comments section right now!). You can emphasize crowd noise, stadium wow-factor, tailgating experience, general nuttiness, tradition, fan friendliness/intimidating meanness, etc.
As far as DEFINITELY 100% better than us, my list is probably this, give or take (in no order):
-Oregon (they are SO loud)
-Tennessee (?? Maybe?)
Not all of those are home runs. Oregon seriously lacks tradition. Bama fans are delusional. VT's tailgating is supposedly decentralized and lacking. I couldn't think of a reason to keep Tenn. off the list, yet, I kind of feel like they shouldn't be on there. But I think combining everything, those schools have a case to be better than us.
You may notice that Wisconsin is not on there. That is because Wisconsin fans don't show up until halfway through the game in both hockey and football. West Virginia? A little too Middle-of-nowhere-kind-of-irrelevant-program-y. I really thought about putting Oklahoma/Nebraska on there... but... I dunno, didn't feel right. Also, Notre Dame? I've heard they are exceedingly friendly to a creepy fault... plus... the whole paranoid attention whore thing...
So that puts us about 10th. If you really wanna be negative about it, how about 15th? That puts us ahead of 114 other schools in D-IA alone. Trips to Penn State and Ohio State (as well as interacting with Gator fans last year) showed me that other fans are just as easily taken out of the game as we are (I know it's not the best thing to watch, but check the #1-#2 OSU game and hear how quickly the crowd lost its edge during our first drive... this happened every time we started moving the ball until the very end of the game). Penn State seemed louder than us, but I have a friend on the cheerleading squad who swears on his life that Penn State was not louder than we were during, say, Wisconsin earlier this year. And that's with a stadium built straight up into the sky.
During this season that I have nicknamed "Michigan Hate 2008," let everyone else hate on us. Don't start hating yourself: we have an amazing tradition, a passionate/if somewhat crazed fan base, we're friendly to all non-OSU/non-MSU fans (and intimidatingly awful to those two), we have no creepy redneck racist undertones (see: Penn State), our stadium is impressive, in short, we're really not that bad. Well, at least our fans aren't.
Would love a little help from the Mgoblog cyberspace on the QB situation in 2009 and beyond. My best guess would be the following depth chart :
1) Threet 3 years of eligibility
2) Sheridan 2 years left
3) Forcier 4 years left
4) Beaver 4 years left
5) Feagin 3 years left
6) Cone 2 years left
I would think we would red shirt one of the 2 freshman and likely shift Feagin back to slot receiver or DB. One of the 2 freshman would provide the change of pace/limited offense QB in a 2 QB offense (the role Feagin played, quite well I might add, this week). We may pull a Buckeye, and mid-way through the season go with the dual threat QB.
Would we then put recruiting a QB on the backburner for the 2010 (no need to stockpile so many QBs). How many QBs do we really want at the same time? Can we have so many scholarships tied up in QBs (I guess we can not provide a 5th year to Cone/Sheridan in 2010 and Threet in 2011). Can we do that, not give a 5th year to a QB, how does that work? It seems like the spread can create a few more injuries (even though a previous article argued there were fewer hits..), so I think having 3 QBs who can play each year is good (including 1 change of pace guy or a younger QB who is fast but needs to learn the offense). Does anyone think we will have a transfer this year?
On an unrelated note, am I allowed to think big on 2009 as we get both PSU and OSU at home!!!?
So we won. Wasn't the prettiest victory, but we won. In a year like this, I'll gladly take it. But one thing became painfully obvious during yesterday's game-- the hardest thing to deal with this year is not that the streak is over. It's not that the 8th loss is looming like that 'men's health exam' I'll soon be needing for the first time in my life. It's not that on New Year's Day I'll have to be sitting at some family member's house wishing it was ME yelling at my team for sucking it up in beautiful weather. It's not even Stevie Brown. Clearly, the worst part about this 2-7, and now 3-7 season is...
Pam Ward. Or as I'll refer to hereafter as PAM FREAKIN' WARD.
Yes, the worst part about being this bad is that PAM FREAKIN' WARD calls your game. I'm not positive here,
but from what I can remember not since 2005 have we had to endure the
utter pain and humiliation of having this CLUELESS talking zombie
rattle off for approximately four quarters. She is SOOO bad it makes
me want to write Paul Maguire a letter and invite him back to the Big
House!! It's like they took some homeless guy off the street in downtown Cairo, gave him a microphone and a bad photocopy of the 1996 Sega Madden instruction book and put him on national TV! You can say what you want about breaking down gender barriers, but for the love of American football, I can throw my grandmother in front of the TV and she'll at least have something to say for the next three hours! Pam Ward is like third rate dental work-- when you can't get anything else you're forced to take her or suffer. And dammit we love our Wolverines, so we swallowed our pride and took what ESPN forced upon us. I mean really, where do we start?
1. How many times does the average
TV viewer need to be told WHAT COLORS THE TEAMS ARE WEARING??? If, by
the fourth quarter you don't realize that the Wolverines are wearing
white and the Gophers are wearing maroon, then you probably want to
look into specialized TV broadcasting for the visually impaired.....
How many times did we need to hear about the 'HOOK and LATERAL' play
that Purdue used to ice the game last week? Well, the first six or
seven would have been fine for me, but PAM FREAKIN' WARD made sure to point it out at least 45 to 48 times depending on whether or not you had turned down the TV volume to single digit levels by the fourth quarter.
3. It's a shame Eric Decker couldn't play (hats off to Trent, of course) after paid her so much money to SAY THE GUY'S NAME EVERY SIX SECONDS for THREE HOURS. I think there were more overall shots of Decker's sunflower seed exploits than actual field-of-play coverage, and I'm sure the camera men were just following the lead of PAM FREAKIN' WARD.
4. You would think that if someone were going to put you in front of a national TV audience, you'd at least be willing to do a little homework on the teams so you don't come off like a total insult to the game. Especially if you're trying to justify the whole gender barrier/bias thing. PAM FREAKIN' WARD must have been too busy on Friday watching Days of Our Lives or the WNBA to actually take a glance at our roster. I think I heard her call Calvin Bell's name a few times here and there. Tackle by David Harris. Touchdown run by Marquise Walker. Of course I'm just making these up, but she deserves it. Try announcing Martavious... try learning that McGuffie is white and on the sideline. Sheesh.
5. Please, could you spend a little more time describing the action ON THE FIELD than READING THE SCOREBOARD?? If I wanted to hear the score every 2nd down, I'd just look up to the top of the screen. All she really does is rattle off stats and numbers that are ALREADY AVAILABLE to the viewer. And why??? Because she obviously, and regrettably, has NOTHING TO ADD. NOTHING TO OFFER. Nothing about when she was quarterback at Purdue in 1961. Nothing about when she was coach at Jersey City State. Nothing even remotely to offer other than what the above-average football watching American can gather on his or her own. Nothing.
So we're stuck with this... at least until we start winning big and Brad Nessler and the rest start getting sent back to Ann Arbor. Hell, I'll even be satisfied with CHRIS FREAKIN' SPIELMAN at this point. One thing I kept thinking about on Saturday-- could you imagine what it's like to be stuck with this poop all the time??? How utterly toxic it must be for Northwestern fans to be told that their team is wearing purple 376 times a week?? How maniacally unfair it must be for Hoosier fans to be told it is 3rd and 11 because the line of scrimmage is eleven yards up the field?? Damn, at that point bring on the Big 10 network!
Long story short-- let's hope our boys turn it around next year, if only for more adequate playcalling!!!! I mean REALLY, ESPN--
AMERICA DESERVES BETTER THAN PAM FREAKIN' WARD.
That is all. God Bless America. GO BLUE.
Justin Feagin, change-up QB. From all indications, Feagin isn't ready to be a full time quarterback in the FBS. He has some issues with mechanics that can be seen on high school game film and college practice film. He also seems to lack some arm strength, and Rich Rodriguez has hinted that he also lacks the ability to make the right reads in the passing game. That being said, Feagin obviously held some potential to play quarterback in college. High school film indicates that he has the ability to make some plays with his arm, which means he can be a threat to throw the ball. This threat seemed to be enough to keep Minnesota's defense off balance when Feagin played QB. Even though he never threw the ball, you could tell that Minnesota's defense was just a little bit hesitant to come up in run support when he had the ball. This could serve the team well as this season - and, potentially, future seasons - goes on. I liked the way that the coaching staff sprinkled Feagin throughout the game. They didn't give him a series or two. They put him in for a play or two at a time. No matter who the starter is in future weeks - Threet or Sheridan - Feagin should continue to see occasional action at QB.
OFFENSIVE PLAYER WHO SHOULD LOSE HIS JOB
DEFENSIVE PLAYER WHO SHOULD KEEP HIS JOB
Brandon Harrison, SS/LB. At least for now, Rodriguez and Scott Shafer decided to do away with the 3-3-5. After the Purdue nightmare, they decided to go back to a four-man front. They should never have veered from that set, but that's neither here nor there. For much of Saturday's game, Michigan employed a 4-2-5 against Minnesota's spread offense. The Wolverines limited Minnesota to six points (two field goals) and 188 total yards. Brandon Harrison played closer to the line than usual and came up with some key plays, especially a sack of Minnesota QB Adam Weber. This should continue for Northwestern and possibly Ohio State. Thompson is a decent run stopper, but he's ineffective on pass plays, whether he's covering or blitzing. If the team wanted to stick to a 4-3 this year, they should have kept Thompson at MIKE and moved Ezeh to SAM. But they didn't. Now Thompson has been effectively benched against spread teams (presumably, unless things change this week). Harrison is adept at run support and also has excellent speed to chase plays down from behind. Unless Michigan encounters power run formations in which Thompson would hold up better than the 205-pound Harrison, the SS should stay near the line and Michael Williams or Charles Stewart should play deep. This was a nice adjustment by Shafer.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER WHO SHOULD LOSE HIS JOB
This was the best defensive game of the season. The entire team tackled well and maintained their responsibilities.