this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
Illogical, but okay. A 2-5 team lost to a 6-2 team; it's not logical to be outraged or to expect to win. Our team did about what it usually does; the only (somewhat) unusual problem that really came up were Threet's bad decisions, and he has been set up to fail all season with his injuries and inexperienced supporting cast.
But, it's still fine to be mad. You're probably mad because you saw the game, saw Michigan gain the lead with less than half of the game remaining (no pun intended), and saw Michigan hold its own for awhile. The team isn't as good as you hoped, and that sucks. But you can only be mad because you feel like this team has a chance. Teams like Washington are ghosts, appearing to exist but not really affecting anything real and just hoping for the end of the season. No one really cares about them. What's worst than anger is apathy. When people give up on their team, that's when it's over.
Vent because you have to, regret the mistakes and flaws throughout the game, and then keep watching until the (probably) bitter end. (Don't get all ad hominem on people though; calling Stevie Brown's job as a safety crappy is okay; calling Stevie Brown's mom a crackhead is racist and only proves that you're an idiot.) As long as you keep supporting the team, they'll have a chance to become the team you wanted. Probably not this year, but before too long, Michigan football will be back. And when it is, you'll want to be there watching.
Many of you know me - some of you don't. I am an occassional moderator of your Saturday gameday chats on this site. Today, I moderated the Michigan State chat, along with a colleague.
A brief sampling of comments I received towards the end of the chat:
"Steve Threet should have his scholarship revoked."
"I wish John Thompson was hit by a truck."
"I wish Stevie Brown's crackhead mom never had him."
This is a harsh, but somewhat representative sample of the bile submitted as "commentary" at the end of the game. Roughly 80% of the comments received towards the end were ad hominem attacks on players and coaches. I declined to post them at the time, but thought better - those who participated in this shit should be embarrassed.
I am completely sick of people calling out our players as "sucking", or anything. Threet is a redshirt Freshman in his 4th offense in 3 years. If not for extraordinary circumstances, he would not be relied on at this point. He has an injured elbow. DESPITE this, he continues to play, continues to throw, refuses to slide, drops his shoulder for additional yards, and FINISHES his fucking runs.
Stevie Brown scrapes his ass off the field, with the screams of thousands screaming how shitty he is, and forces AND recovers a fucking fumble - gift-wrapping 7 points for Michigan. Despite all the negativity, the kid kept his head, and executed at his next opportunity.
They suit up, in the Maize and Blue, and, like their teammates, bust their asses 7 days a week to perform as well as they possibly can on the field. You think this shit is disappointing for you? It's disappointing to you, sitting in the stands with a coke in your hands? Or on your couch with a beer and a laptop? How fucking disappointing do you think it is for the kids who bust their ass, 7 days a week, on the fucking field?
This is INFINITELY easier for us, as spectators than it is for them, as players. Reasonable criticism is one thing, ad hominem insults are another.
There are many that will greet the following with "thank god!" or "good riddance!" - and I won't say it's completely unwarranted - I've been a dick at times on these pages. But, I'll never moderate a chat again - it degrades my opinion of my fellow alumni and fans.
We like to say we're "The Leaders and Best". Maybe we should fucking act like it.
I get it, you're mad. That's fine, so am I. I don't like losing to
Michigan State, Toledo, Utah, Anyone. It's not fun, but it's what we
signed up for when we made the change. You want to win every year and
go to a bowl every year? So do I. So does everyone. Only one team
has done it for 30+ years.
This is what we have to deal with.
2-6 is unthinkable, I know, but while most of us didn't expect it to be
this bad, we knew it would be pretty bad. The offense has had turnover
problems to an extent none of us would have thought, the defense is way
behind where we thought it was. It's not all coaching. Could the
coaching be better? Yes. But the success at WVU, which we all saw
Thursday night, is in the system.
You need the players to run
the system, to understand the system and to, as we've been hearing all
year, "execute" the system. As much as we all want these players to be
the ones to do it, they aren't built for the spread. They're Michigan
Men to be certain; they haven't given up and have stayed despite the
fact Bo's famous promise won't come true.
This year is going to
be rough. It has been rough. I think we'll win a few more games, but we all know this team
had the talent to go to a bowl. It's too bad, but I beg you to keep
faith that this will be the change we need to win another national
Like I said, this year could have been better than
what it is. However, we knew it would be bad, we just need to keep the
faith that it will improve.
Be critical of the play-calling,
the defense, the "execution", but please don't say this hire is a failure
before we get the players to run Rod's offense. Because I want to
celebrate with you when it all comes together. Go Blue!
To continually do the same things, in the same manner and expects different results has to be the definition of insanity. That is what our defense has become to me; an exercise in insanity. We have been cocnsistently awful in 3rd and long situations were we almost concede first down yardage through this awful soft zone that we have not been able to execute all year, but yet we still go to it every time we've got 3rd and forever and it seldom works. How many times are we going to reach for that hot pot handle before we learn that it burns our hand? The next time I see a safety covering a slot receiver in any situation, I'm gonna loose my mind.
I don't like criticizing student athletes as I understand how difficult it is to play football at this level and how demanding it is, but I have to question the coaches at this point because if these guys are still not able to excute the defense by the 8th game of the year, irregardless of any transitions, then there is a major problem with the installation of the defense. For the kids to play fast, they need to be able to read and react almost without having to think and this is not happening, nor is it getting better. If you do not have the personel to run certain schemes then you don't shove the square peg into the round hole. You evaluate your players and put them in a position to be succesful. If the kids don't know where there are supposed to be our have any doubts as to what their assignments are, that causes hesitation and hesitation causes breakdowns in the defense.
Admittedly, I am old school and I love to question GSimmons about his love of the 3 man front, but there is nothing wrong with playing simple fundamentally sound defense. You don't have to disguise everything and get all fancy with your blitz packages, especially if the kids cannot execute them properly. One of my favorite stories from Bo was the one about the coach out of california that thought he had this new fangled way to be innovative in his playcalling and he goes through this big presentation with diagrams and slides, but while he's talking Bo notices that his defense was giving up like 400 yards a game. When the coach finishes his presentation, Bo raised his hand and asked the coach about the opposition's 400 yards per game and the guy responds with something about having problems tackling. The moral of that story is that no matter how fancy or innovative or diverse your schemes or your playcalling may be, if you do not execute the basic fundamentals of football, such as tackling, all the rest of it doesn't matter and it won't work. I believe that is what we are seeing now. We are seeing the fundamentals go by the wayside and the results are ugly.
If the players we have now cannot execute the defense, then how are new players or freshman going to have success in the defense? Every week these message board idiots call out the DBs, especially Brown, and rake them over the coals for making the same mistakes, but as genuine as their anger may be, why aren't they asking why our safety continues to take bad angles and use poor fundamentals 8 games into the year? These are correctable issues and there are two ways to correct it. You can either drill them to death and coach them to be fundamentally sound or you can replace them with someone who can execute the fundamentals consistently. Not that I advocate benching players, but before you can install any offense or defense you need to have the fundamentals installed and drilled. I know of this site, the idea of "out executing" the opponet gets a lot of flack, but there is something to be said for being more fundamentally sound than your opponent. This will continue to show up on the field if not corrected.
It killed me to see Dumb-tonio with that shit-eaters grin on the sideline towards the final moments of the game as if he'd really accomplished something great in beating and 2-5 team that lost to Toledo at home. But we let that game get away as we continued to give up big plays and play that ridiculous defense with the safety over the slot on 3rd and long and we go into a soft zone on the snap. A mediocre QB like Hoyer looked like Tom Brady today because of our playcalling and even when we had the right defense on the field we couldn't get guys on the ground or we lost people in our zones due to poor read and reaction, IMO. I am not someone who calls for the coaches job or starts websites about firing coaches, but I am not encouraged by what I've seen so far. My suggestion for the rest of this year would be to simplfy the defense, trash the 3 man front and play 3 Corners on 3 receiver sets and 4 corners on 4 receiver sets, and to start getting the new guys some snaps as we'll need them next year to have some experience. Otherwise, we'll be talking about this next year. Shafer may very well be a good coach and he's got two other guys on the staff with coordinator experience, so it's not like they don't have more knowledge that the entirety of the message board idiots combined, but sometimes it's good to dumb it down and do it well before you build it bigger as no house built on a bad foundation has ever stood for long.
Lastly, I just want to single out Brandon Graham as being the best player on this team on any side of the ball and claims that he takes plays off are completely ridiculous as some plays are designed for him to contain and spy and not rush the passer or blow up the backfield. For the past two years, BG has consistently provided game changing plays and today he was the lone bright spot on this defense.
This is a story that has come to mind recently.
From Bo's Lasting Lesson's:
“The following season, 1956, I left Doyt and Bowling Green-with his blessings-to become an assistant for Ara Parseghian at Northwestern University. I had made it to the Big Ten! I knew that's where I wanted to be, and I was working for a great coach. Of course, everyone remembers Ara when he led Notre Dame to a couple national titles, but a lot of people don't realize he led the Wildcats to some of their best seasons before that.
Ara was not big ego guy, he was great with players, he was a wonderful motivator, and he understood the game so well he COULD COME UP WITH THINGS NO ONE ELSE HAD THOUGHT OF. He was probably the most imaginative coach I'd ever seen, always adapting his plays to his players instead of the other way around like most coaches do. Heck, we used to call his practice field "The Laboratory," because that's where he'd try every trick in the book on Mondays, testing this and experimenting with that, just to see what might work that Saturday.
Before Ara arrived, Northwestern hadn't had a winning season in five years, but in his first year Northwestern went 4-4-1, and everyone was encouraged. But in Ara's second season, 1957, everything went to hell. We lost nine games - every single game we played! For a coach, that’s just about the most difficult situation you have to face.
We could keep our opponents down to one or two touchdowns, but we couldn't score for our lives. And I was working with the offense!
Losing creates all kinds of other problems too-poor morale, nagging injuries, and lackluster effort. The players were spending more time in the PR office than in the weight room. It was just a mess. I never experienced anything like that in all my years of coaching -and thank God for that.
I learned an awful lot from Ara in my first year at Northwestern. I learned a heckuva lot more from him that second season, when we lost 'em all. And what I learned was how a real leader leads when things aren't going his way.
Ara treated that staff as though we were winning every game. He never gave the slightest indication that we were the problem. He not once blamed any assistant or any player for any loss we suffered that year. NOT ONCE.
"Stick with it guys, and we’ll get through this," he'd tell us. "We're going to be okay." We all kept busting our butts for Ara, working past midnight, doing everything we could to get that guy a victory.
And that's why that losing season didn't break Ara's back: BECAUSE HE'S A CONFIDENT GUY, AND HE KNEW HE COULD COACH. HIS STAFF REMAINED DEDICATED TO HIM AND HIS PROGRAM THE ENTIRE SEASON.
You'd think my two years at Northwestern would have been a horrible experience, but it wasn't. It was a experience, because Ara had put together a stellar staff - they're all still good friends of mine, especially Alex Agase - but mostly, it was because was there.
The result? Pt this down: Ara Parseghian lost every game that year, but the next year his team went 5-4 - Northwestern's first winning season in eight years.
When Ara took the Notre Dame job fiver years later, in 1963, he left Evanston as one of the only three coaches in the last of Northwestern football to post a winning record. And of course, from there he won two national titles and Coach of the Year at Notre Dame. Don't tell me he didn't deserve it.
But that 0-9 year? He didn't get any awards for that, but let me tell you: THAT was the most impressive year of his coaching career."
Hopefully I didn't break any laws by quoting that much of the book, but that story really stood out to me after I read BO's LASTING Lessons. When you hear about RR talking about staying the course, it is because he is confident that the course will lead to success. Even the greatest coaches have down years, especially when they are working with very young kids. But more importantly, what are you going to do when things are going against you? Are you going to start questioning a coach that is a proven winner and has produced fundamentally sound teams? Are you going to give up when things don't look like they are going your way? Well maybe you will because you're not putting the time into becoming a champion, but I will tell you one thing. Those freshman, sophomores, and juniors will NOT throw in the towel for anybody. They are busting their ass right now to turn things around at the end of this season and next season. It’s easy for somebody to sit in their office chair, sip their coffee and bitch about coaching. When you are waking up at 6 am busting your ass to win a championship, there is no time for bitching. When your losing 10 pounds in a week of two-a-day practice, there is no time for bitching. There is only time for buying in and executing what you've been taught. Maybe it’s the Knob Creek that I've been drinking since the first MSU TD, but I still believe this staff will do great things at UM. I believe this because MICHIGAN WILL NEVER GIVE UP, BECAUSE WOLVERINES ALWAYS FIGHT!!
I have heard some feedback from the visitors at today's game, and it's mostly good. There is some frustration and dissapointment, but over all it seems that everyone had a good time, and enjoyed being on the sidelines. Christian Lombard said, "It's a good time, we're all having fun" during the game. He's a Junior OL, and seems to becoming good friends with Jeremy Jackson. Willie Haulstead is a WR that, for now, is committed to Florida State, and was on the sidelines today. There was talk that Marvin Robinson was going to make an announcement today, and I have not heard any news yet. Lo Wood was also hoping to receive an offer today as well. There's been some talk of him waivering on that commitment, so I'll keep an eye out, and try to find out more. Here's a list of all the recruits in attendance at the MSU game.
Anthony LaLota DE
Shavodrick Beaver QB
Willie Haulstead WR
Dewayne Peace WR
Travis Bond OL
Vlad Emilien S
Vincent Smith RB
Josh Robinson DB
Jeremy Gainer LB
Chris Freeman OL
Tristan Mims WR
Nader Furrha QB
Kevin Muma K
Will Schwarz LB
Devin Gardner QB
Nick Hill RB
Christian Lombard OL
Tremondae Branch DT
Ricardo Miller WR
Tyler Blandin CB
Jeremy Jackson WR
Marvin Robinson S
Lo Wood CB
Dionte Savage OL
Austin White RB
Demtrius Hart RB
Dwight Trammer LB