So while reading ESPN at work today, the theme of the day seems to be hate. Some really good and interesting stuff. One team that seems to be Number 1 on everyone's hit list is Ohio State. At first, I thought this was kind of funny, but then I got to thinking if that's really fair. Sure, there are some good reasons and all, but as a die hard Michigan fan, I wouldn't put Ohio State at the top of that list. (Just for reference, in the ESPN article, Notre Dame is third, while Michigan is sixth).
One of the funnier quotes was "Michigan fans think Ohio State fans are classless. Ohio State fans think Michigan fans are arrogant," (Technically, this quote is from an article that talks about the biggest rivalries in the Big 10, but I still feel it fits well)
Anyways, I am going to compile a list of teams that I think I hate personally, as a Michigan fan and obviously, this is meant to spark some debate and probably everyone won't agree with me - that's fine. That's what's great about having freedom of speech.
** This is not meant as me spewing hatred and I'm trying to be objective as possible. The key word here, of course, is trying. **
1. Notre Dame: discounting the Ivy League schools, if anyone is more arrogant about their school, it's Notre Dame. The history of this school cannot be undermined, although Charlie Weis is doing a fine job of trying. I still think they are the number one most hated school, period, because of how many people jumped on the "Ha Ha - Look at ND" band wagon last year when they fell so far from grace. It's amazing that Weis can still draw in the talent that he is drawing and still not perform up to expectations. Yes, they are all young, but if there isn't vast improvement this year (let's say .500), Weiss is going to find that seat starting to heat up. Side note: Weis got booed out of Wrigley Field this weekend in Chicago. That's pretty telling, I think.
Side note: why is Jimmy Clausen on the O' Brien Watch List?
2. Michigan State: ah yes, the other school in Michigan. I hate all their "just wait 'til next year talk" and the fact that they try to rile us with "Appalachian" chants. We beat you. At your place. After you had a 10 point lead. Please don't bring up how "classless" Michigan is. Using an example from Brian, Jehuu talks about us being classless and yet it's him planting the Spartan flag at ND. At least, I'm pretty sure that's him.
3. Tennessee: I don't know why, I just dislike Philip Fulmer and Rocky Top. Probably because he "allegedly" voted us fourth in the rankings and caused us to have a split NC with Nebraska instead of having it outright (pardon me if I'm incorrect here, as 1997 was the first year I really started following college football and even then, I was still a kid, so this is all running on memory). Oh well, at least Woodson won the Heisman. Sorry, Peyton. At least you still have your Sprint commercials.
4. USC: I HATE USC's fight song. It's like the only thing they can play - no variations. I know people hate Michigan's fight song, but at least our marching band can play other songs as well. I also hate USC from taking two potential game changing recruits from Michigan - Ronald Johnson and Nick Perry, although from what I heard, Perry hasn't qualified. Ronald Johnson, however, would have been a game changer on either side of the ball. Can you imagine if we had him and Donovan Warren as a cornerback tandem? Absolute studs.
5. Ohio State: should they be this low? Shouldn't they automatically be the first on this list for any "true" Michigan fan? Probably, and in all likelihood, yes. I just don't know why - my gut tells me otherwise. It's weird - I want them to go 11-0 every year and then lose to us - 2006 was THE dream match up with us as the top two teams in the nation. I would take that every year in a heart beat. I can't remember who said it, but someone (a player) said that the Michigan - OSU game is the best game of the year because it's the cleanest game (really?) of the year. Both teams have such a respect and healthy hatred of one another, that they don't want to do anything to tarnish the reputation of this rivalry. Fans, on the other hand, will say differently. Yes, there are some chidings that go both ways and yes, both schools have those fans that cross that boundary, but for the most part, most fans, when you talk to them one on one, you see the love of the game. I'm not trying to paint a pretty picture here - there is mad animosity between the fan bases, but overall, I just don't hate them as much as the four above them.
Yes, I'm probably a hyprocrite. Oh well.
Oregon: First of, I will say this - I LOVE Oregon's jerseys and I'm probably the only person outside of Eugene that will openly admit that. However, we are 0-2 against them and while this past year's thrashing hurt (especially with that Oregon dude who took a sledgehammer to the Michigan logo), the one that pains me more is the one at Autzen after we had demolished ND at home 38-0 the first time. I thought after we returned that blocked FG for a touchdown after Oregon had drove the ball on us that we were good and boy was I wrong. That game was a harbinger of our doom as a not-as-unmobile as you might think Kellen Clemens danced all over our defense and would soon show how much trouble we would have with a mobile quarterback. I think it's awesome that Phil Knight loves Oregon and they get all this crazy cool gear, but I'd really wish we schedule another home and home against them or meet them in the Rose Bowl sometime for some payback.
That's it for now - please comment away. I'd love to hear what people think.
I just posted up a pretty detailed breakdown of Pat White and Justin Feagin over on my site. Don't worry, I'm not deranged, and I'm not saying Feagin will be the next White. However, there are some interesting similarities that I'm sure you all are aware of. With a summer of Barwis and some extra time in the film room, Feagin could definitely have a bigger impact next year than people are giving him credit for.
So, it's been accepted as fact that Rodriguez, Barwis, and the rest of the staff "do less with more" than most other coaches. People generally point to WVU's sterling records and lofty rankings, combined with a seeming slew of two and three star talent coming in the door. We've talked about the amazingness of Mike Barwis, and assume that WVU was transforming these 2 and 3 star recruits into 5-star performers. Finally, as we have been signing a few 3-stars it's been a running meme that Barwis and the staff turned out amazing results with players like this, so we shouldn't worry.
All this, I'm afraid, ignores the context in which WVU's success came. In the past 7 years (an arbitrary number, but all it's all the available date in Rivals), the Big East has, as whole, recruited as follows:
2008 - 0 teams in Top 25 recruiting classes
2007 - 1 team in top 25 (WVU)
2006 - 1 team in top 25 (Pitt)
2005 - 0 teams
2004 - 0 teams
2003 - 0 teams
2002 -0 tea,s
By contrast, in the past 7 years, the Big Ten has produced 23 classes ranked in the Top 25. The SEC, absurdly, has produced 48. Shockingly, Mississippi State has produced more Top 25 classes in this time frame than the Big East as a conference (they've gone to a single bowl game in 7 years, by the way). So, it is possible - almost likely - that WVU succeeded with two and three star players because it wasn't an absurd handicap - the conference in which they played was stocked with them.
Looking at other successful Big East teams we find:
UCONN - 1 four star player recruited in the past 7 years.
Cincinatti - 0 four-stars, 0 five-stars
Lousiville - 16 4-stars, 1 five-star
Pitt - 20 4-stars, 1 five-star
WVU had: 14 4-stars, 2 five-stars
So, WVU's talent level was, at least, comparable to the top teams in the conference. This wasn't a team that succeeded with comparatively poor talent - it was a team that had, for the conference, superior talent.
None of this means that I believe the staff will be unsuccessful. What it DOES mean is that WVU wasn't doing "more with less" than the rest of the Big East - they were doing what they should have with more talent. Luckily, Michigan generally has excellent talent levels. If that is maintained - and it appears that's not a problem - then we should have continued success.
None of this should be taken as an indictment of recruiting three-star talent. Every successful team recruits a large portion of their class at this level, and I have no expectation of Michigan being different. Just, we should likely not have an expectation of the staff and Barwis turning all this three-star talent into five-star performance, as the three-star talent at WVU was, actually, superior to much of the Big East.
With four games down, the Wolverines come back to the Big House for a showdown with the Zooker, Juice, Arrelious, and plenty of other fun names. Let me also say again, that I'm not trying to prognosticate here, just putting together some reasons why Michigan can prevail in each game. So save your "you're delusional" comments for the ND board. Actually, I don't really care, so just go post some "you're delusional" comments on the ND board!
Illinois -- Oct. 4, 3:30 PM
Oh, what to think of the Illini? They have the firepower to be a top team in the Big Ten, but have shown they are prone to their middle of the pack ways as well. Mendenhall is gone, but Juice and Benn are back and will bring a dangerous offense into the Big House.
A big issue in terms of atmosphere in the Big House at this point in the season will be Michigan's record. Are the Wolverines riding high off a win at Madison to go 4-0? Are they 2-2? 3-1? Pretty much any scenario that puts their record at 3-1 makes this an intimidating crowd; anything worse and it's one of those crowds waiting for things to go horribly wrong. Illinois will be fresh off a game in Happy Valley, so their mindset could well turn on that result.
So just how good is the Illinois offense? And what chance does Michigan's defense have of stopping it? Well, I'm glad I asked.
- Talk of this offense typically begins with Juice Williams. He has a sweet name, has been hyped as the savior since the four-star showed up on campus, and has delivered with some huge wins since taking the field. He is obviously very fast and elusive, but also has a great arm, and now has two years of experience inside that helmet.
- Arrelious Benn is forrealious. The Zookster showed he knew how to get the ball to his most talented players last season, as Benn grabbed 54 passes and ran 32 more times. Look for more of that this year, as Benn will also make up for the loss of their star running back.
- Speaking of sweet names, the Illini also have a tight end by the name of Michael...wait for it...Hoomanawanui. Not sure how good he is, but that's awesome.
There is no doubt that this offense is the biggest concern against Illinois, but Michigan is more than capable of shutting it down, or at least containing it. There are a couple main reasons Michigan's defense will succeed.
- Juice is the new Morelli. It's true. Sure, Juice looks a lot less rodent-ish, but don't let all the running around fool you. He is a guy with a good arm that couldn't hit Charlie Weis from ten yards. His completion percentage is embarrassing for a spread quarterback and he has a tendency to throw the ball to guys wearing different color uniforms than himself. These things could obviously improve as he matures, but it's not a given. Michigan got into his head last season when the deck was stacked in his favor (at home, took the early lead), what's going to happen on the road?
- Benn is just one receiver. Yeah, he is going to make some plays. But if Michigan can keep him in front of them, and make Illinois march the ball down the field, the Illini won't score over 25 points. There is some talent at that running back spot, but it will be on Juice to win the game, and he just can't do it.
Great, so our defense can deal with Illinois' offense. But how are we going to score without the deadly Arrington to Manningham assault? Illinois has some serious talent returning on their defense as well. Blue chipper Martez Wilson moves into a much more prominent role at linebacker this year, and corner Vontae Davis could be one of the best in the Big Ten. The Illini return a handful of defensive lineman that will provide talent and depth to the position. The defense will be fast and capable of making big plays. No worries though, it's not like I'm going to say Michigan will fail...
- While many "studs" return, the man with his picture next to that word in the dictionary is gone: J Leman.
- The Illini also lose both starting safeties.
- Leman's partner (not like that obviously), Antonio Steele, is also gone, leaving it up to the youngsters to hold down the linebacker spot.
Michigan can take advantage of the mostly inexperienced back seven the same way the Wolverines did last season. Anytime Henne wanted (except for when his shoulder, you know, fell off) he could hit Manningham or Arrington up the seam. Sloppy linebacker and safety play will turn those 25 yard gains into much bigger plays this time around. I'm sure Wilson and whatever other Zook recruit steps into the linebacker spot will be good athletes, but it's going to take discipline and intelligence to stop Rodriguez's offense this season, and something tells me they will racka da disciprine.
And it's not like Michigan had much trouble on the ground either. Minor and Brown moved the ball well on Illinois last season and will do the same this year.
Again, the kicking advantage goes to Michigan as Illinois will be going with a freshman walk-on at kicker and the same punter that was booming 13-yarders against Michigan last season. Zoltan laughs at you. In his mind.
Michigan wins in a modest-scoring affair.
CORRUPT BIG TEN ATHLETIC DEPARTMENTS
Ohio State, (Pending a necissary Terelle Pryor Investigation)
Penn State, CHECK
Notable Quoteable: "I don't know how to even send a text message. I don't even have a computer." -Joe Paterno
(I misposted this as part of a thread, greatly diminishing my credibility for classifying The Fort posters as idiots. Oh well.)
Well, I have been away a long time. I still read here daily, but had not bothered to figure out the new format, which I used to yell at Brian to implement. I spent some of that commenting energy over in The Fort at Rivals, but that experience has dragged my IQ dozens of points (which I can't spare) and I ran screaming from that forum over the weekend.
What makes that forum so bad?
There is this juvenile allocation of status by number of posts with 20,000+ guys strutting around the forum as if we are unaware that posting "nm" 30 times a day doesn't represent either expertise or authority. In fact, the opposite. Anyone who posts more than an average of twice a day should be regarded with suspicion as they likely lack a life.
Whenever one posts something longer than two sentences, it sits on the board like a lump of undigested meat, clearly too cerebral for a crowd that specializes in updating their signature with the latest hot chicks.
So, I am back. Dex will be unhappy, but at least he can string together two cogent, if depraved, paragraphs.