Sorry if this is already widely known, but I hadn't seen it.
The BTN has posted its coverage map for this week's games: http://www.bigtennetwork.com/gamefinder/index.asp
(The map shows you which will be the "featured game" in your area. The other games will be available to you either on overflow channels or not at all.)
The most interesting feature is that you can type in your zip code and cable system, and it will tell you whether your system is showing games on overflow channels and whether they'll be in SD or HD.
For example, if you are living in Atlanta (zip code 30301) and subscribe to Comcast, at noon on Saturday you only see OSU vs. Youngstown State, and not in HD. So you will be deprived of watching the glory of Penn State vs. Coastal Carolina in HD on your plasma screen.
On the other hand, if you're living in DC (zip code 20006) and subscribe to Comcast, you get all five noon games on overflow channels, albeit only in SD. (I remember someone was concerned about whether Comcast would show overflow games in DC, so hopefully this is some reassurance.)
This may not seem that important right now because Michigan isn't on the BTN this week, but if you're a cable subscriber outside the Big Ten footprint, it's worth looking into. Presumably, the cable companies that have overflow channels this week will do the same in the future.
Michigan is a big national draw and will often be BTN's featured game, the way OSU vs. YSU is this week. But it's very possible that at some point this season, Michigan will be on BTN as a non-featured game. You'll want to know if you'll get that game at home and whether it's in HD, or whether you need to switch to DirecTV or Dish Network.
This is part of a speech that Bob Ufer gave at Chrysler arena in 1976 at a rally for President Gerald Ford.
"There run's through the core of all Michigan activities both on and off this campus, a certain intangible thing. We call it "The Michigan Spirit". Maybe you can relate to it. It's the atmosphere that permeates that stadium every Saturday afternoon in the fall where over a hundred thousand fans patiently wait to see whether Bo Schembechler is going to continue his winning ways. You know what I mean! You can feel the tension, the excitement, the charisma that surrounds that stadium every Saturday afternoon. Especially ten to fourteen minutes before kickoff. When a hush settles over that stadium and we all anxiously wait for that simple 4 word command to eminate out of the P.A. system. I can hear it now! "Band take the field!" and out of that eastern tunnel pour 215 well drilled, well disciplined Michigan bandsmen. They pour over the Eastern sideline and they form the big block M and they play the greatest college fight song ever written! The Michigan Victors!! That's when the chills go up and down your spine! You get goose pimples all over, your blood turns maize and blue and everyone out there becomes part of the winningest tradition in the history of Big Ten football as well as the winningest tradition in the history of Big Ten athletics. Folks lets join in and sing the song that the late and great John Phillip Sousa claimed was the greatest college fight song ever written. The Michigan Victors!!!"
If only Bob Ufer were with us this Saturday to see the dawn of a new era of Michigan football. I'm sure some of you out there are Bob Ufer fans and also talented writers. Maybe someone can come up with an example of what Ufer would say this Saturday in Ann Arbor if he were in the announcers booth broadcasting on the Michigan Football Network.
Go Blue!! God bless your cotton pickin' maize and blue hearts!!
I'm sure we all have our favorite M football experiences. Here's one of mine:
Last September I got a call from Scott Draper asking if I would be willing to do a prayer for the team before the Illinois game (I'm now a pastor in Illinois just west of Champaigne, although I was an EECS guy at UM a while back). Apparently Lloyd was aware that players wouldn't get to go to church typically on Sundays after road trips, so they brought in a priest, a Protestant minister (me in this case), and perhaps someone else depending on demand, to hold a little service for the team before games. My instructions were: a one-minute prayer, an eight-minute, spiritually-based motivational talk, and a one minute closing prayer. It was a late game in Champaigne, so I got to the hotel around 1:00 that afternoon. The players were all in their matching sweats. They ate first, which took NO time, I couldn't believe how fast they ate, and then if any of them wanted to they could go to a worship service. I'm embarrassed to say I didn't know enough of the players without their numbers to know who I was speaking to. About 35-40 of them came to my room, along with a few assistant coaches (not Lloyd, he arrived late and was still eating. I don't know if he would have come otherwise). Chad Henne was one I did recognize, and he was in the middle of the front row. They all filed in and completely filled up the front rows while the coaches sat in the back. I did my thing, and after the closing prayer, every player came up (Chad was the first) and shook my hand with their bear-paw sized right hand and thanked me. They were unbelievably classy, not just in thanking me like they were obviously taught to do, but also in their attentive listening -- to a man, complete with nodding at the right times and smiling at the right times and the whole bit. I couldn't have been more impressed. Nor more nervous. I could easily speak in front of Congress after speaking in front of those guys, even if they are just kids, practically. Any other team would have been no big deal, of course, just Michigan. I hope that level of class continues with the new regime. Maybe all teams are like that in D-1, though. I guess I wouldn't know.
Afterward I asked "Soup" Campbell, who was my escort during the process, if what I did was alright. I had no idea what I was supposed to say, really. I graduated seminary with Frank Reich, who qb'd for Maryland and then the Bills, and I emailed him asking for suggestions, but he didn't get back with me until after the fact. Soup said, "That was perfect. We'll have to tell Lloyd to ask you back next time." But I doubt Lloyd will get rehired, so I won't start planning what to say any time soon. And I have no idea if all schools offer such services or if Coach Rodriguez will continue the practice.
It was cool that Chad Henne then went out and gave one of the gutsiest performances ever. All because of my two prayers and eight minutes of Christian motivation. Yes, I know I had zero to do with the team's win and Chad's performance, but it's infinitely cool to have been part of what the team did that day.
As I got more and more psyched about the reality that the Rich Rodriguez Era really is upon us and that the Wolverines will actually be rolling out on Saturday I wanted to find some X’s and O’s stuff on the spread as a way to brush up and get ready for what we will be seeing on Saturday. I came across a couple of very good articles in the archives of ESPN written by Bob Davie
breaking down various aspects of the spread, bubble screens and a piece that tried to explain the things that made Rodriguez’s version of the spread better than everyone else’s.
What got me pumped about what Davie had to say was not so much about Coach Rodriguez’s unique X’s and O’s packages, but the way in which he ran his program at West Virginia. Here’s what he had to say:
"Just about every offense in the country has incorporated some element of the spread in its package. As a result, defenses are now more comfortable defending the scheme. However, Rich Rodriguez has done a great job of staying one step ahead of the defenses.
What's different about West Virginia?
In watching WVU over the past several years, several things set it apart. Everyone wants to know about the X's and O's first, but some other important factors stand out.
The Mountaineers are physical, intense and play hard. WVU operates a lot of new-school concepts in the spread, but the team plays with old-school principles. Everyone coaches playing hard and with great effort, but WVU constantly demands it. Rodriguez talks about playing with a hard edge -- and the Mountaineers practice that way. The two worst words you can be labeled with in their program are soft and lazy. [empasis mine]
2. Team building
West Virginia does a great job with team building. The Mountaineers' staff does some different things to develop unity. WVU's team building ideas include some simple rules:
• No cell phones in the football building
The staff wants players talking to each other, not girlfriends or friends, during football time.
• Name game
Every player must know the name of every person involved with the program, including cooks, janitors, managers, trainers, secretaries, etc. That sounds simple, but when you have over 200 people involved in a program, it is not. Rodriguez hands out pictures to help the players identify the staff, and then tests the players.
In the offseason, Rodriguez divides his team into eight different groups consisting of players from a variety of positions. Then he sets up a point system under which the groups are rewarded or punished based on individuals' academics, offseason program and off-field issues. This makes players accountable to each other in the offseason.
3. Tweak scheme to fit personnel
With 15 years in the system, the foundation is not going to change, but Rodriguez does a great job of tweaking the system based on individual personnel. Every fall, he will do one or two significant things to highlight that team's talent. For example, with Pat White returning to direct the offense, quarterback runs and the option are major parts of the scheme heading into the 2006 season."
I love hearing that about “soft and lazy.” And from everything that we have been hearing out of camp, he has carried the practice hard doctrine to Michigan as well. And if he does some of these other things, I would be even more impressed. I especially like the “learn everyone’s name” mandate. It is definitely a way to instill character. And I am really encouraged that Davie feels that Rodriguez is able to tweek the spread and what he is doing to keep himself one step ahead of everyone.
You ARE and from here on A MICHIGAN MAN !
I took the time last night to watch the Lloyd Carr coahing legends on the BTN. It it me again on the pride of Our University, Coaches and Players. From Yost-Crisler-Bo-Carr, and all the greats in between, the instilled the Michigan Man pride in each player that has strapped up for them. Michigan is about winning, but more importantly Michigan is about, CLASS ! RESPECT ! PRIDE !
So this Saturday August 30th, Coach Rod, When your first Michigan team takes the field, keep ALL of these in your mind. Winning is GREAT ! But I carry with me each day the PRIDE of knowing that my University plays with respect for their opponent, and their respect for the game.
The LOVE that Coach Carr has for his Players , this University, and this fan base will always remain with me, but after an offseason like the last one it reminds me that this is still Michigan and we are all still MICHIGAN MEN. Coach Rod, as you touch the banner on Saturday, this fan base is clueless as to what we will see. Its all new to us, the high powered offense, the speed everywhere, the excitment of what might be. Keep in mind one thing as you go about shredding defenses. What would a Michigan Man do. Coach with the class that THIS university knows you can. Recruit everyday with the Pride, that a Michigan Man STAYS TO BE A CHAMPION !
We all know what you can do as for as an offense and a Head coach, but what can you do as a Michigan Man? Carr said perfect in that interview. The beginning of last season could have sent this University into a downward spiral. But Carr kept his ways, kept giving his players their do, never pointed a finger at anyone, but himself, and righted the ship to a good year and one Hell of beatdown of Florida. He rode off in the sunset, in his mind, a Champion ! All those players stayed throughout the year, noone quit, they all stayed, and minus the crystal football, Were ALL CHAMPION THAT STAYED.
So ill let you get back to game planing for Utah, because these Michigan fans are gameplaning ourselves. Though our thoughts on the offense or defense will more times than not see eye to eye. There is one thing that You, your players, and the great fans of this University will see eye to eye.
MICHIGAN MEN THAT STAY WILL BE CHAMPIONS!!!!!!!!!!
Good Luck Coach Rod and the 08 Wolverines, we ALL have your back and look forward to the success, but more importantly, look forward to the CLASS, RESPECT, and PRIDE that we know you will represent EVERYDAY as................
TRUE MICHIGAN MEN !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Its become a trendy thing for college football pundits to produce bowl projections during the preseason. So, with only hours to go before the preseason melts into the real season, I figured I would join the crowd and offer my own projections, at least for the Big 10. Feel free to rake these guesses over the coals as much as you want. I welcome the discussion. I will be updating these throughout the year, but those will be projections based on how the season is actually playing out. These are my own predictions, but they will appear next to future projections in order to create some comparison fodder as the season progresses. We'll see how it stacks up. So without further adieu, here we go:
The first task of these bowl projections is determing if the Big 10 will received multiple BCS Bowl bids. Even as everyone pans the league, its still a pretty good bet the conference will notch two spots in the big money bowls. The Big 10 has earned two BCS bids in three straight seasons, five of the last six and in seven on the first ten years of the BCS existence. The league does not need to send a team into the title game for this to happen either. Check out 1998, 1999, 2003 and 2005 seasons as examples of this. This fact is pertinent to the following predictions as I dont feel a Big 10 team will be playing for all the mythical marbles come January.
Rose Bowl: Ohio State. Any regular idiot can slate the Bucks into the National Title Game, but I am no regular idiot. The Bucks fall twice this year, likely at USC and at Wisconsin, and a relieved nation can breathe easy knowing OSU will be out of the national title picture. The Big 10, however, will pay for it as the Bucks, with the pressure off, demolish everyone in their path over the second half of their schedule including a, gulp, fifth straight win over arc----nope, I just cant finish typing that sentence. Pasadena has not seen the Bucks in over a decade and never with the Sweater Vest leading the troops. They'll be there on New Year's Day. They'll square off with Oklahoma and get off their BCS Bowl losing streak, while continuing the Sooners.
Sugar: Penn State. While I hardly think the Nittany Lions are world beaters, I think its an easy road map to follow as far as them landing in this plush bowl. The slate is pretty easy early on, and PSU should be 6-0 heading into their showdown in Madison. They'll lose that game and at Ohio State later in October, but as long as they can end the Happy Valley nightmare that is the Michigan losing streak, they'll still be in strong contention for a BCS bid heading into November. They close with at Iowa, Indiana and MSU. They'll sweep those--the MSU game will be an amazing contest in possibly Joe Pa's final home game. Sugar Bowl officials wont pass up the chance of hosting Paterno at the site where he's had some of his more historic moments. That allure will be so strong that they'll get tabbed over a more deserving Badger squad, despite its head to head win over PSU. No worries, their Bourbon Street foe, Georgia will make them pay.
Capital One: Wisconsin. They should get a BCS bid, save for the politicking described above. This team is good enough to earn a split in September road games at Fresno and at Michigan. I'm calling their upset at home versus OSU. Will they have enough in the tank to beat PSU the next week? Honestly that could go either way. I see trouble in November in East Lansing, a result that will keep them from both the Big 10 title and a BCS bid. Despite being double digit underdogs, the Badgers will be leading LSU into the fourth quarter before succombing to a series a fourth down conversions by the Man in the Hat.
Outback: Michigan. I dont need to explain it dammit. Lets just put down 9-3, and have another swig of this Ufer-tastic Maize and Blue Kool Aid. Bring on Auburn. War Eagle this muthafucka! Michigan cruise to another win over the SEC in postseason play. And, yes, I have a whole keg of Kool Aid.
Alamo: Michigan State. I really like the Spartans this year. Think they do the league proud and spring the upset Saturday night in Berkeley. Heck, lets give them a 6-0 start (although the home team in the ND-MSU series has lost seven in row, so L'il Bro might want to consider protecting the 50-yard line from a Leprechaun flag planting). It's a whole new era in East Lansing, right? Ah, no. The team comes out 'Oh No Sparty' flat and drop a game at Northwestern as well as losing to OSU and UM (natch). But it is a new era at MSU and Dantonio gets them to rally and upset Wisconsin. They'll fall to 7-4 with the PSU loss and square off with Texas in the Alamo Bowl. It will be a Burnt Orange win, but closer than the experts think.
Champs Sports: Illinois. Seems like a low projection for a team that many have rated highly heading into the season. But, I dont like Illinois schedule. They could be better this year than last year, but their schedule will work against them. An uphill climb in the opener against Missouri, road games at UM, Wisconsin and Penn State and, oh yeah, good luck trying to beat Tressel two years in a row. This team could not avoid the upset bug last year losing an ugly 10-6 game to Iowa, so there's no reason to think that wont happen again somewhere along the line. It would not be a surprise to see this team 4-4 going into November. But, they would be the best .500 team in country. A win over Northwestern in the finale will give them a 7-5 record and this trip to Orlando. Juice Williams will be their MVP in a win over Miami that will give the Illini a lot of momentum as they gear up for a run at the 2009 league title when the schedule is set up a lot better for them.
Insight: Minnesota. The Gophers finished winless in league play last year. Obviously this is a risky pick. But, if they can get through the first four weeks undefeated (next week's game at Bowling Green will be an early swing game for this projection), Minnesota will be 6-5 heading into their finale at home against Iowa. The Gophers will have too much offense for the Hawkeyes and their 7-5 record puts them in the same bowl that Indiana, last year's dormant to bowl team story of the season, played in. In one of the more entertaining bowl games of the season, the Gophers will fall to Colorado in a shoot out.
Motor City: Northwestern. The Wildcats have the look of their 2005 bowl team. I project a 4-0 out of conference record. Combined with a duplication of their 3-5 league mark last year, that gives them a 7-5 record and a trip to Detroit to play Central Michigan. The Chips will leave one step away from being the Buffalo Bills of the Motor City Bowl, losing their third straight in this contest. Bacher will sling pass for pass with LaFleur, but Tyrell Sutton in his final collegiate game will go for over 200 yards in the win.
Iowa, Purdue and Indiana will not go bowling. Iowa just lacks consistency and are no longer an untouchable team at home. Their loss to Minnesota in the closer drops them to 6-6 and out of the post season. Purdue cant beat good teams. While most figure them to be an easy entrant into the bowl season, I see a team that is just 3-15 against bowl teams the last three years. Two of those wins came last year, against Central Michigan. They wont have four wins at the end of October. They'll prevent a losing season by winning their rivalry game at home with Indiana, but all that will do is close the Tiller era with a 6-6, bowlless season. As for Indiana, they will be doing well to equal last year's 3-5 league mark. Even if they do that, however, I dont think they'll go 4-0 in non conference play as I smell a CMU upset on the first of November. Optimistically the Hoosiers can be 6-3 after nine games, but a three game losing streak (Wisconsin, at PSU, and at Purdue) will knock them back to ,500 and out of a bowl.