this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
As the season comes to a close this Saturday I thought about the last three months and started thinking of some questions.
I thought about how it may have turned out differently if one, two or an untold number of things would have fallen into place or turned out in a different way.
Of course, this serves no practical application other than the pure sport of conjecture and debate, but still, if you're bored at work or just desperate for something else to comment on, have at it.
1. What happens if Terrelle Pryor signs with Michigan? He obviously starts, but how much better does Michigan do?
2. If Lloyd Carr had not retired, what would our record be this year? Would Michigan be better or, given the departures last year, about the same?
3. If Michigan played Utah again at this point in the season, would we win or has Utah progressed that much more throughout the season?
4. If Threet starts from the opener and stays healthy throughout the season, does it get us another win or two?
5. What happens next year?
So, yea, just some things to think about.
This post is, by no means, a declaration of anger about what has transpired this season. I just like to think about how things may have worked out under different circumstances.
I live in California, and have been an avid Michigan fan for about the past 2 years...especially now since my brother is a Grad student (he was also an undergrad, but I had yet to see the true value of being a Michigan Fan :).
Out here most people live and breath Cal or USC football, and wearing my Michigan jersey will bring shouts of "Michigan Sucks" even from those fabulous 49ers fans...yes the same team whose record closely resembles our beloved Wolverines.
Needless to say, hearing all the anti-RR banter, and reading the absolute garbage that comes from the media and many bloggers has made me resent many of those who call themselves "fans" of the Maize and Blue. Every Saturday I wake up to watch our boys take the field, and in fact the Minnesota game will forever hold a small place in my heart, as later that same day I married the love of my life...it couldn't have been a more perfect day.
I am excited to have RichRod as our coach...just as excited as I was last year on the day I found out we had him and one of my close friends, an MSU grad, just moaned. While she got her wish this year with a win from her "little brother"...she knew, deep down inside, she knew...Michigan will be a force in the coming years under RichRod.
This post was not designed to elicit responses...and if you see fit to poke fun or rip on what I am saying, so be it, you are not a true fan, and your words are wasted, as I really don't care what you write. BUT, if you feel like responding and it's positive, please write it, so others can see, we are not alone...we are Michigan.
Don't get me wrong, you are allowed to be frustrated, in fact if you aren't frustrated, I would question your devotion to this program...but please don't attack me, this is not my fault, only my opinion.
But before you comment, please read the following quote from Teddy Roosevelt, as I feel it encompasses many of the things we, and RichRod, are going through this year.
"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat."
Keep your chins up, this week we take the field as part of the greatest rivalry in all of college football, and we are alive to see it. Maybe you feel that it isn't the same as years past but GOD DAMMIT THIS IS MICHIGAN FOOTBALL, cheer for our boys, cheer for Rich Rod, cheer for all of those who have participated in this wonderful event, and most importantly cheer for Michigan, we are only as strong as our weakest fan...GO BLUE!!!!
The media has decided to crucify Rodriguez because they think he doesn't understand why Michigan football is the life of us fanatics and why his very salary depends on it. What I think RichRod doesn't understand is why we fanatics have to live our Michigan football lives like irrational blithering idiots who make despicable comments about his family and his players (possibly one in the same) on a regular basis and expect him to take every last inch of the criticism in stride. I too don't understand this, so let's compare Michigan football life to actual life, or rather identify this one over-arching similarity: neither can be explained. From the very start humans have been pondering the meaning of life itself. There are endless ways to pose this question, and people have been doing it for thousands of years, but there has not yet been an answer, and there most likely never will be. There is no explanation for life-consuming fanaticism either. We are just fans, we bleed Maize and Blue, and live and die with this team. We just do. We were put on this Earth for some inexplicable reason, and we were made fans for some inexplicable reason, but that is where the lack of rationality ends, because we humans are rational beings. We often treat each other in despicable ways, do atrocious things to each other, but we also possess the capacity for great thinking, great accomplishment, and great good. We love our family and our friends, and detest our enemies, and the best of us atleast have respect for those hated ones. We fight with those we love too. We have disagreements. But we often make up because we have the brain power and rationality to consider our actions in the grand scheme of things and do what we believe is right. All of the things I just mentioned are broad ideas that I think we can all agree happen in real human life. So lets apply them to the part of our lives consumed by Michigan football. Lets act like rational men and women. Leaving cowardly and disgusting slurs of RichRod's family and team on messageboards is a sign that our Michigan football lives have descended into chaos. If this is the case, we need to do what Rodriguez would merely like to suggest: to get a life, or rather to restore some common sense and dignity to our fandom lives that have fallen into the depths of hateful insanity. Just because we can't rationally explain why we are fans doesn't mean we have to act irrationally as fans. It means we have to except that we are fans because we are, that Rich Rodriguez is paid a lot of money to coach the team we (him included) love and is doing everything in his power and then some to satisfy our (his included) expectations, and that we are human beings and experience adversity every day, every week, and every year, some more than others. It is how we respond to adversity that defines our lives, and some of us fans have not responded admirably and have proven their weakness and insanity by saying simply nasty, unfounded things. I expect RichRod to also respond a little better to criticism, but I am willing to forgive him, and our fanbase, because we are humans, and we have the capacity to make mistakes, learn, and move forward.
I will now get off my pulpit. Sorry if I have sounded vague and preachy and condescending, I just had to get that off my chest. Go Blue. I will see you all in Columbus.
I've pretty much already posted this once, but not nearly enough people responded to it, so here goes again. Also, this was going to be forum, but as usual, it got long, so go diary!
It seems to always come up, and I just don't know why:
"RR is no Lloyd Carr when it comes to integrity."
Listen, I sometimes miss Carr and his literature-referencing ways, but RR really has not done anything to indicate he is some sort of two timing backstabber.
This article has already been posted, but everyone really needs to read what they are writing about RR in Columbus.
Lloyd Carr always seemed to be a nice guy who represented Michigan with dignity, HOWEVA
>> LC used to love ot punish players by taking away their status as a starter if it was a non-MAC game (he might bench 'em for a MAC game). You'd see MM/AA on the field literally a few plays into the first drive after their various run ins with the law.
>> RR benched Stonum, Butler, and Grady for major minutes due to various problems.
>> I keep reading that Babb got kicked off, for violating rules, more than quit.
>> Remember Carty's article about MM's lack of responsibility when he got drafted? It was a little high horsin' for me, but I think the point that MM is still a kid who knows nothing about responsibility is semi-valid.
>> RR kept ADAM FRICKIN PACMAN FRICKIN JONES in line for his entire college career!
>> Brandon Harrison seems to think RR did the dignified thing, and even the Columbus dispatch described their bond as the kind "only Michigan men can feel" for one another.
Every time I get upset (each Saturday, that is) I feel like RR comes out and directly addresses every worry of mine in his PC. Sure, he speaks like a West Virginian. But man, he speaks like a West Virginian, you know? On some level, don't you appreciate the way he speaks to us? I guess I can't pretend to know him as a man from his press conferences, but let's look at some evidence:
>> Desmond Howard and many other alumni have mentioned how personable he is, and to me that seems apparent in his PCs.
>> His program is run as tight as a ship can be run. Curfews, strict punishments, etc. The men might hate him, but they will love him when they look back (most not all, of course). I really believe the way he seems to be running his program is the best way to prepare these kids for post college responsibilities.
>> The buyout/lawsuit business appears to be as much a financial decision of th University as anything. I highly doubt RR had any input, since it was largely not his money anyway.
>> RR is like any other competitor. He wants to win, and wants the resources to put him in a position to win. Michigan offered unlimited opportnity, West Virginia offered him nothing, and had plenty of chanes to keep him in the fold.
>> The Carson Butler case study is interesting as well. He was in and out of Lloyd's doghouse his whole career. He gets in trouble by RR, gets benched, and now has fought his way back to playing time through the defense. Carson Butler had nothing to play for. His starting spot had been given to some freshman, yet "Mr. Bad Attitude" decides to suck it up, try harder, and learn something new. RR seems to be able to motivate someone who we previously thought "unmotivate-able" to claw his way into the lineup through a position change. I believe this is the sign of a great teacher/motivator/coach.
Anyway, give the guy some slack, I believe he will be a tremendous (that was for you, Lloyd) winner at UM, but I also believe he will just as likely go down as a "typical, classy, Michigan man" in the end.
Sorry, I put the over/under on "tl;dr" comments at 5.
Michigan has lost 5 of its last 6, but it has held a 2nd half lead in every game. I think this is both remarkable and telling.
It is not that our players and schemes are not good enough, or even as simple as us lacking consistency (if that was the case we would think we'd sometimes be down 20 at the half and then lose by 7). While our talent has some notable holes and our youth makes us up and down, there is something else going on, perhaps also having to do with youth.
We fade when the momentum swings big quickly. This happened at Penn State; it happened with Michigan State and with Illinois. We came out strong, looked better, gave up some big plays and then slinked away. I don't think that our guys quit or stop playing hard, necessarily, but the discouragement does seem to make them tight. It seems to make them doubt that they were really supposed to win. Minnesota is the standout game, we continued to play well because that huge swing never happened. It looked like it might until the Trent interception, but it never did. We pitched a perfect game. Unfortunately, we may be so fragile right now that that is what it takes.
It would be hard for anyone to like Kirk Herbstreit less than I do, but I think he was right when he predicted that Notre Dame would be defining for this team. That game was a perfect storm of bad luck, bad calls, and bad weather that magnified early mistakes and blunted a valiant response. In that game we did not pack it in even after a rapid three touchdown deficit. We clawed back and made some progress.
But in hindsight the ND game seemed to fatally scar our psyche. When Illinois started landing big-punches on us it was like the bad dreams came back. Long passes, missed tackles; here we go again. And since that Illinois collapse it has become a recurring theme. When we give up the huge plays we wither. This is generally true of college teams, but I have never seen it be more true than with 2008 Michigan. We are too young and unconvinced to weather the discouragement and embarrassment of the big plays. It cues a whole host of already-experienced moments that haunt this team. They keep fighting, but they lose their nerve. We throw to the other team, give up the next big play, etc. It is truly heartbreaking to watch.
But I think this is a reason to be slightly more hopeful regarding the future. This is not a typical 3 win team that is down 1 touchdown after the first quarter, down 17 points at the half, and never really challenges. We're close. Call me crazy, but I think that if the 2008 team had never acquired this wounded psychology it could have won at least 7 games--even with the deficiencies at QB and safety.
We are a team of haunted freshman. But a good start out of the gate next season and we will be watching swaggering sophomores. That is what I am looking to. Not sure what else to ponder...
All this talk recently about people leaving and the OMG Panic post reminded me of Bo's quote "Those who stay will be champions." In this case, however, it may take a little longer than we are used to. If McGuffie and Babb and Chambers don't want to stay, let them leave. And please, give Rich Rod a chance. He may not be Lloyd Carr in terms of integrity according to the media but what when your put in his situation with your family being threatened, what do you expect? (insert a-splode pic here) The guy knows how to win. He has proven that everywhere And in the winningest program in college football, shouldnn't that count for something, evne if it does take a little while? My message to everyone that has been preached by Brian over and over again, be patient. It is the guys first season and if you look at his track record this has happened everywhere he has gone. Just because we are Michigan means we should be able to walk over everyone? No. We have to work just like everyone else and I believe partially that sense of entitlement has gotten us here. I like what RR is doing with family values, especially the story with Brandon Harrison. Everyone that is buying into his system is becoming closer and closer together. Becoming a true team is the first step he is taking to bringing us back to the promise land. And remember, "Those who stay will be champions"...they just may have to wait 2 or 3 years.