"It's a lot easier being a drug dealer than an AAU coach" - this guy. Tell me something I don't know. I mean, don't think but have never tried either.
100% pure colombian awesome
Coming back to U of M and Big Ten country in general truly made me realize how great we have it here. Anyway, I am now in my last semester here at U of M forever, as I can see it, and sit in the student section, and am trying to get a "Lloyd Carr" chant going at the beginning of the second quarter on Saturday. Say what you want about Lloyd, but he is a class act and has been a great representative of our University.
Lloyd has heard plenty of boos over the years, and I, for one, would like to see my fellow fans show some appreciation for Lloyd. Thanks a lot, and keep up the good work.
I'm not sure how a "Lloyd Carr" chant works in terms of syllables, but some sort of crowd acknowledgment of Carr's career is called for. I know I've spent a large part of this year pointing out the flaws in the program that drive me crazy, but in 13 years at Michigan Carr has brought home a national title, is .500 against OSU, and has a winning record against Notre Dame. He's also dominated Michigan State and Penn State. The Wolverines were the 9th best program in terms of winning percentage over his tenure going into the year and are likely to pass Miami and Nebraska for 7th by year's end. And he's done this without a whiff of scandal. By any standard, he's been a success, and his accomplishments should be acknowledged. Hopefully the team sends him out in style Saturday.
Another Mike asks about Mallett:
I have noticed and the TV folks have mentioned for at least the past 2 games that Ryan does not "play well with others". It seems he does not get along well with his receivers, perhaps running backs too. What's the truth here? Are we in danger of losing the Junior stars to the NFL early because of this lack of chemistry?
The prevailing opinion on Manningham is that he's gone, gone, gone and was at the beginning of the year, so his sideline tiff with Mallett doesn't mean anything. Arrington will probably make his decision based on what the NFL says when he requests an evaluation. If he thinks he can significantly improve his spot by being the go-to guy as a senior, he'll come back. Otherwise, he's probably out. Mallett's errant throws to date might have a slight impact on his thought processes, but in the end it will be about the Benjamins.
Well if there was one bright spot in the game yesterday it was the Herculean effort by Tacopants. Literally willing himself back into the Heisman race. 15 receptions for 586 yards and 7 TD's. Thank God he has no eligibility constraints.
Made of dreams, remember.
Hi, I'm Sean Tompkins, I'm a freshmen at U of M and a loyal fan of you blog. I'm also on MSA's Campus Improvement Commission and I am very excited to announce that MSA along with Student Athlete Advisory Council, Athletic Department, Alumni Association, Domino's Pizza, and many others that there will be a big BEAT OSU rally on the Diag November 16th, 2007 from 3pm-6pm. The event features several notable speakers including MIKE HART and JAKE LONG as well as performances from student groups such as the Men's Glee Club, the Marching Band, and others. It even includes a Greek Life pizza eating contest in to start the festivities off.
Youth Governor of Illinois
Yes, if you claim to be Youth Governor Of Illinois you get in the mailbag. Period. Also, a rally. With Hart.
Serendipitously, this comes from AA-based indiezine Found Magazine; frighteningly, it comes from Oklahoma and could be the frenetic id of Les Miles surfacing. Beware!
Blood Battle. Brian Talpos writes:
For the past twenty-six years, University of Michigan's Chapter of Alpha Phi Omega (co-ed national service fraternity) has partnered with the American Red Cross to host the largest blood drive in the Midwest, the Blood Battle. Taking place over the two weeks prior to the Michigan vs. Ohio State football game, more than 25 blood drives are held on the U of M campus, collecting over 2000 pints of blood, and potentially saving over 6000 lives. Last year, the University of Michigan collected 1,954 pints, while Ohio State collected 2,044. Michigan's campus accounted for more than 12.5% of the total blood collection in Washtenaw County for the entire year, providing local hospitals with the blood they needed to serve patients in our community. As always, our goal is to beat the Buckeyes by collecting as many pints of blood as we can.
To sign up, go to givelife.org and use the sponsor code "goblue."
Bow Down Part VI:
Die Radford, die. Basketball season starts Friday; Michigan opens against Radford, which is either a university or a way to elegantly prepare kumquat. Big Ten Wonk, now known as John Gasaway, has an overview of the league at Basketball Prospectus that's worth reading en toto. A vote of confidence in Beilein:
Lastly, predicting that an achingly young--qualitatively as much as quantitatively--Michigan team will flirt with .500 should be seen solely for what it is: an expectant vote of confidence in the ability of John Beilein. That confidence is based on what he accomplished with an achingly young West Virginia team last year.
8-10 is the shot in the dark; who knows? At this point I am so NDNation about Beilein I believe the Final Four is possible... last year! Soon, Michigan will have retroactively won ten national championships.
The Daily has an interview with former Fab-Fiver (and soon-to-be BTN analyst) Jimmy King on Beilein.
I hope they sing. This is the most important thing you will ever read on this blog.
It's that important.
Important enough to write like a newspaper columnist.
Chad Henne, Will Johnson, Jake Long, and Jamar Adams are going to be in a play. Yes. A play. It's about Job. And it's at the Power Center. If you live within 1500 miles of Ann Arbor you are thinking "OMG TICKETS HOW". Tickets how.
The price is surprisingly steep for a university production -- 24 and 18 dollars -- which is good and bad. It means that 1) the play is probably something professional and will be worth your time, but 2) our noble warrior-thespians will probably be Plant #1, Plant #2, Interesting Looking Bucket, and Extremely Large Deaf-Mute. Whatever. I'm going. I hope Chad's only line is "Excellence is good." And that Will Johnson's only line is "I'm 21, how can I be going bald?" which, if you think about it, might be plausible in a play about Job.
Miles! Miles! Miles! Astute (== not in coma) readers may have noticed a long hiatus in the "Profiles In Heroism" series; this is mostly because further explorations of the coaching pool seem utterly pointless given the sustained buzz about Miles to Michigan. Thus weekly evaluations of LSU.
Anyway, And The Valley Shook mentions something I asked about Monday. Did Saban's teams commit a ton of penalties? Is it just an LSU thing? Quasi-response in a rant about "outcoaching":
Honestly curious: did Saban DO anything, or is the entire world making a judgment based on Les Miles' team having had one subpar outing? (Yes, I know we lead the SEC in penalties; don't ANYONE try to argue that our Saban teams didn't commit loads of dumb penalties at times.)
In the comments of that post "GeauxTigers" -- if Miles shows up I'm totally ganking "Geaux Blue" -- provides a helpful link to Yahoo's stat repository, which -- unlike the NCAA's -- has penalty data. Unfortunately, the results only go back to 2003, Saban's second year at LSU. Also unfortunately, Yahoo doesn't bother to, like, provide numbers, so anyone in the middle of a particular statistical category can only be called "approximately average" without actually counting stuff out. The numbers to date:
|#||Yards||Per Game||Approx Rank||Michigan|
|2005||100||875||71.4||Bad, not that bad||30.3|
|2004 (@ OkSt)||47||380||34.5||Outstanding||43.6|
|2003 (@ OkSt)||82||764||63.6||Average||42.2|
More fuel for the "all right! a penalty!" fire: Michigan was the least penalized team in 2005... their worst season in 20 years .
Note that in 2005 LSU had an SEC championship game to play, so their raw numbers are higher than most schools. If you drop 1/12th of their penalty yards they finish like 20th or 25th or something.
The only truly conclusive thing in these tables is a remarkable lack of penalties on Michigan. Year-in and year-out Michigan is near the bottom of these lists. Miles looks about average here, alternating flag-filled years with sedate ones.
Also, did you know dude had a brain cyst? In 2001...
A regular exerciser, Les Miles took a jog one morning that mid-December. He returned home with a tremendous headache and feeling nauseated. When the headache did not go away, he saw a doctor in Stillwater, Okla.
Then he saw a doctor in Oklahoma City for an MRI. He was told there was a cyst on his brain causing intracranial pressure and a buildup of fluid. Surgery was needed to remove part of the cyst.
"Well, first of all, you deny it," Miles, in his third season as LSU coach, said recently. "I mean they told me that, and I shrugged my shoulders. 'OK, so what? Let me go.' And I went recruiting. I mean, I left the hospital, and I went recruiting."
The pain came back, though, and Miles had his moment of clarity. He stopped
Dude? Dude! It's totally deranged to find out you have a brain cyst and go recruiting, but if there's one quality I'm looking for in a coach it's totally deranged workaholism.
Braves & Birds takes a look at LSUs "luck" through their brutal Kentucky-laden SEC schedule, concluding it's not actually about luck. A point from the comments that no one seems to make:
Yards per play gained and allowed are as much a function of coaching as anything else. If LSU were a talented, but poorly coached team, then it would not move the b
all well on offense (like, say, Florida State) and/or it would not stop its opponents (like, say, Nebraska). A well-coached team doesn't simply avoid turnovers and penalties; it also does well at the basic functions of the game.
Anyone who's watched Notre Dame play this year knows that turning high school kids into slavering beasts is no mere accident. Three years in, LSU's players might be Saban's recruits, but they're Miles' players; their "immense talent" is partly coaching.
Remember the memories. Yeah... Wisconsin is retiring Ron Dayne's number this weekend. You may remember Dayne from such stellar Michigan performances as "58 total yards" and "0 second half yards"; couldn't Wisconsin have retired Dayne's number against a team he actually performed against? Was Temple unavailable?
Site note: There appears to be a pattern and cause for the intermittent site issues for some viewers. The browser affected appears to be Firefox on a Mac. The cause is excessive youtube embedding. I'll cut back on the Wolverine Historian embeds and try to keep the flash down in the future. Also, sorry about the late and flimsy content. I am way behind this week and have to spend the day in intensive UFR mode to get them up tomorrow.
Thought you might find this interesting. I'm enjoying the ND losses so much I decided to plot the cumulative winning percentage of Michigan and Notre Dame over time.
Pretty sure it's accurate as I've compared my database with Stassen's at various times.
That margin looks small, but I believe it's at 6.5 games after this weekend's results. You can see the Bo bump in the early 70s and then a very slight upward trend since; Notre Dame has been in decline since the 60s with brief bursts of competence.
Many of yesterday's comments echoed this:
I read your blog daily and most of the time thoroughly enjoy it. Your in-depth coverage is entertaining and informative. However...
Your constant nit-picking and general negativity is wearing a little thin on me. A win is a win, and therewere extenuating circumstances that I believe make this a great, repeat, great Michigan victory. In a season filled with ridiculous results, I think it's time you opened your eyes a little and drank a bottle of perspective. You still seem hell-bent on writing off this season after the early losses. They lost two games. Get over it already and move on.
I however, am truly enjoying each and every game. Football is not a science. And it's not life or death. Relax a little and enjoy being a fan of Michigan football.
I admit being surprised at two things: the generally uncritical reaction to the shoddy nature of the win and the often extremely critical reaction to the game post yesterday, which I thought would be uncontroversial.
First: I am capable of independent thought even in the presence of other people with opinions, and if you are theorizing that the person adjacent to me poisoned my view of an excellent road win you must consider the possibility that Brent Musberger, a mobile hagiography, may have distorted your view of an ugly win against an incompetent team coached by a guy who many consider a dolt.
Second: Of course I am hung up on the first two games of the year. I would remind you that we went from national championship contenders to national laughingstocks in two quick weeks in the senior years of Jake Long, Chad Henne, and Mike Hart largely because the team was woefully ill-prepared to stop a I-AA team that could not throw. The horrendous coaching breakdowns that led to the parade of mistakes do continue to color my opinion of the team and the year and will do so until the sun expands and consumes the earth. Given Carr's well-established track record it would be silly to do otherwise.
Third: Was it really that negative? I mean:
This was slightly annoying. I, of course, still had my arms above my head, signaling touchdown, and Person Accompanying Me was busy criticizing impending victory moments after an audaciously successful trick play. She was basically right -- Illinois handed us the game, but only after we had attempted to hand it to them and then they had attempted to hand it back and then we had attempted to hand it back back -- but, like, come on now. Sure, this had all the beauty of the Soviet Bloc interior of Memorial Stadium, about which more later, but victory was likely ours. Eventually that counts for something.
After the thing had finally come to its disjointed end, a sense of relief filtered in. Michigan survived a potential minefield. It was ugly and sordid and dirty but it was a win, and now Michigan is going to play Ohio State for the Rose Bowl unless the roof caves in against both State and Wisconsin. This is a long way from 0-2 and being a national laughingstock; Carr has once again picked his charges up off the mat and driven them towards respectability. We can wish this peculiar talent of Carr's was less firmly established, but we should be thankful for it at the same time.
Let's try again: November 17th for all the marbles, at least in Bo's world, and a chance at a happy ending for Carr and Henne and Hart and Long and us.
In a nutshell: this is that Wisconsin game where a punt bounced off Brett Bell, it was ugly and let's get out of Dodge, I'm happy we won, let's go beat Ohio State. I am looking for the part where I lose touch with reality and turn into a crabby old man demanding cranberry juice and hating life.
Four: Please keep in mind that I was in the endzone and everything looked one missed tackle away from a touchdown. I reserve the right to change my mind in UFR.
Five: I withdraw the bullet about the Henne substitution. I was not aware of the situation. Also...
As for Hart, who traveled to Illinois and was on the sideline in sweat clothes, it appears it could be a game-time decision whether he can play.
Now to something we can all agree on:
"People better enjoy it now," he said, shortly after his team's latest new low, a 38-0 home loss to previously staggering USC. "Have their fun now."--Chuckles
Is this guy serious? They are now 1-9 over their last 10 losing by an average of 24pts and this is what he has to say? I know you get heat sometimes for talking about ND too much, but this has gotten out of control. I can't imagine ever having to go through that. Losing to App State does not come anywhere close to comparing to what is going on down there. And then this fat bastard has the stones to say that we all need to have our fun now, because they are going to become some juggernaut. Anyway, I can't get enough of seeing him flame out and seeing their program hit such a low level and was hoping these new quotes from CW would turn into an anti-ND post sometime soon.
I wish; during the season the day-to-day column-tuesday-UFR-UFR-preview thing really cuts down on available time to be mean. And I've said it all before. So little bashing except what hits a UV now and then.
The picture of J Leman is sweet and all, but have you checked out his profile on Illinois' site? Scroll down and check out the sidebar:
The Apostle Paul? Awesome!
J Leman is 100% pure Colombian awesome. That is all.
You know who I'm talking about. [Email titled "James Laurinitius (sp)" -ed] I know you have previously taken the position that he was simply the beneficiary of the over-hype machine. Yes he had big turnover in big games, but his overall play was average at best to those of us who actually watched the games. I always felt the "sock puppets" simply wanted to anoint the next Big Kat, Hawk, Carpenter, etc. I haven't had the chance to watch much Ohio St. this season because their competition has been a joke so far. I've been reading a couple of mock drafts a
nd some mid-season all-American lists, and he is a constant. What am I missing? Has he really become a can't miss, above average linebacker?
This is not quite the position espoused here. Laurinaitis was on the All Big Ten team I put together last year, albeit on the second team, and in the Ohio State preview I recounted the Litany Against Laurinaitis, then made an allowance:
Depending on how much he improves he could warrant the breathless Musbergerisms he receives; I still would like to see it before believing it. My theory on Laurinaitis is that he's great in space but easy to block and my theory on the OSU DTs is adequacy at best -- no double-teams demanded here -- so I am compelled to predict a significant step backwards in Ohio State's run defense. Like... not awful or anything, but thorough averageness is a possibility.
It appears he has made this leap, though I haven't seen much of OSU yet and couldn't tell you for sure. The assertions about a potentially questionable OSU run defense appear to be wrong -- currently #2 nationally -- and he has something to do with that. Complaints about Laurinaitis being overrated belong to last year; I have no position on him yet this year.
Visual evidence. Baxter Allen -- winner of the ill-fated banner contest -- sends along an artists rendition of yesterday's "M as dinosaur" flight of fancy:
It is I. Interviewed at The Big Picture, if you have interest in that sort of thing.
Hockey approacheth. Yost Built has the first inklings of a great season preview with profiles of defensemen Steve Kampfer and Chris Summers. One crab: I disagree on Kampfer's importance level, which he pegs a 7 out of 10. To me, Kampfer is the biggest swing guy on the team. Yost Built rightly notes Kampfer's extremely generous defending last year and his measly +3 plus-minus are at odds with his mid-rounds NHL draft selection, something noted here as far out, man, when it first became apparent Kampfer was something other than an undrafted free agent. If he can play up to his draft position we're likely to have two solid pairings (I assume at least one of the freshmen will show up ready to play, probably 2006 third-round pick Kevin Quick). If he dishes out enough turnovers to satisfy Charlie Weis, we're in trouble.
Also: Josh Blackburn, last seen yielding a goal on an unscreened slap shot from just inside the blueline, has been "hired" as a volunteer assistant coach to help out Billy Sauer's mental game. This is the exact equivalent of hiring Ron Powlus to coach Jimmah(!).
Maybe this is why the suck? NKOTB Shooting Blue takes a look at the 2004 recruiting class -- now juniors and redshirt sophomores -- and finds a total dearth of defensive contributors. These are the guys who are contributing in any way:
- starting DT Terrance Taylor
- Nickelback Brandon Harrison.
Yuck. (If you want to count Marques Slocum in this class, it's likely he contributes something eventually, but not now.) The rest of the defenders:
- OLB Chris McLaurin: moved to TE.
- DE Eugene Germany: knucklehead. Off team.
- DE James McKinney: transfer to Louisville after undisclosed medical issue.
- CB Chris Richards: booted in aftermath of St Patrick's Day Nerd Massacre.
- CB Johnny Sears: booted for
never covering anyonefailing a drug test.
Mmm, that's ugly.
Pile on. Even Buckeyes are getting into the Notre Dame hate. Ramzy at Bucknuts has a column that proves it's not just Michigan fans that love the Nation:
NDNation, the greatest form of online amusement that doesn't offer any nudity or cash prizes, was shut down to the unregistered public for the entire Michigan game. This was probably done preemptively to keep the millions of Irish haters from polluting their otherwise bat-feces crazy discourse with ironic jest like, "Your an idiot". Since the game ended, the board has been non-stop jack-knifed semi-truck on the edge of a cliff entertainment.
Bon mots and zingers abound.
MAD MONEY. Not Jim Cramer, but equally bats is this guy who attempts to link Michigan's crappy start to... Michigan's crappy economy. No. Seriously:
-Lack of Innovation
A wonderful memory of mine is the 1972 Rose Bowl, when underdog Stanford kicked a last-second field goal to beat top-ranked Michigan 13-12. What made the upset delicious was the complaint of Michigan fans that Stanford didn't play "real football"--i.e., Stanford passed the ball. The Michigan economy is locked into an old-world combination of union labor and high taxes--and pays the price.
The sucky part is that even though this man is obviously insane he has a point.
Brains imbue humor! JoePa's Michigan press conference is kind of awesome:
A lot has been made of the losing streak to Michigan, now at eight. When the players are asked a question, obviously they can't go back that far. You obviously have been there for all eight. Is there something about Michigan that just makes Penn State tighten up?
Well, the first time I coached against Fielding Yost (1901-23, '25-26), it was tough (laughter).
Every year's a little different one. We've had some good luck and bad luck. No, Michigan's a good, solid football team. Playing at Michigan is a lot of fun. It's a great crowd, and I think you ought to enjoy it. I don't look at it the way maybe some other people do.
Lloyd Carr said that Chad Henne may come back this week. How do you prepare for two quarterbacks, especially with the kid, Ryan Mallett, who has made one start and is 250 pounds?
[WTF does Mallett weight have to do with anything? lolmsm. -ed] I don't think you do that. I think you've got to realize what kind of a football team Michigan has. Mike Hart, the wideouts we just talked about, a very, very fine offensive line, are the things that you worry about. Henne at quarterback, has experience and everything else and has played well against us, and is a good quarterback.
Now, whether he's not playing or the other kid's going to play, I think you got to be careful about that. For all I know, they could put Hart as quarterback. Put him in an empty backfield, shotgun, like everybody else is in the country is doing these days. All of a sudden you have a whole different ballgame on your hands.
This is the first Michigan game that you've played since Bp Schembechler died. What was his legacy and how did he improve Michigan football and help the Big Ten?
I never coached against Bo. I can tell a story about Bo calling me up after we were in (invited to join) the Big Ten. He said, "You sneaky little son of a..."
I said, "What are you talking about, Bo? He said, "you sneaked in there and the athletic directors and coaches never had a vote because it was all presidents."
I said, "Bo, nobody sneaked in. " He started screaming and ranting. I started screaming and ranting at him. I liked Bo. Bo is the kind of guy you had to like. You know where he's coming from, no hypocritical statements. He never pontificated, said some things. I always had a lot of fun with him.
ver coached against him. I think you have to figure that he and Woody Hayes, at a stage of the Big Ten, probably dominated a lot of things. I've said this before, you guys get tired of hearing me say it, I think when Joe Tiller came into the league with a little different type of offense, that people say he can't do that here. I never forget the quote Joe Tiller made when they said about throwing the football. He said, "Don't you think it snows in Wyoming?"
I think then it started to change. This league's got a lot of great young coaches. The kid at Wisconsin (Bret Bielema). Ron Zook is going to make Illinois really good. Kirk Ferentz...I could go down the list.
I think Bo and Woody dominated the thing for a while. I think right now there's so many darn good young coaches. I think the league's got a little different personality than it did when maybe Bo and Woody were running the show. I'm not sure, because I wasn't in the league when they were running it.
Actual newsbits: projected starting DT Abe Koroma is still out. Jon Shaw will miss the game and true freshman Steven Wisnewski will take his spot. Wisnewski was a moderately shirtless recruit that Michigan also went after. Austin Scott has already fumbled four times and will split time with kick returner Rodney Kinlaw. And PSU plans on going full bore "eff you, try to stop this, oops you did let's punt" mode:
You mentioned Clark earlier. With the problems Michigan has had with mobile quarterbacks this season, is there any plan for potentially any place for him to try to take advantage of his mobility?
Michigan had a little problem with the mobile quarterback at Oregon, but that wasn't their big problem. Their problem was they spread them out so much, they couldn't do some things they like to do defensively because the kid could throw the ball.
No, we're going to play our game. We're going out to Ann Arbor and find out just how good are we. We're going to play them our game. I'm sure Lloyd will be in the same way with his guys. They're going to play their game and let's see what happens.
So bully for that.
Are we done? Now? How about now? Now? Now?.... no. We are not done piling on Notre Dame. Vijay has awakened from long slumber in recent weeks and has put together a Charlie Weis fact sheet analagous to the Ty Willingham Fact Sheet NDNation put together in their quest to
keep the black man down return to glory. It is glorious. Selected excerpts:
Notre Dame is currently on a 5 game losing streak, their first since late 1985, early 1986.
The whole thing is highly recommended.
Etc.: South Bend Tribune article on Scott Driesbach; Pickin' On The Big Ten; the MZone checks out the latest Russell Crowe movie; BTN review; the Cal student newspaper so knows they're losing Tedford at year's end and is lashing out at anyone they can find.
9/17/2007 - Michigan 38-0 Notre Dame - 1-2
"They're going to have to learn about us, OK? Let them try to stop a pro-style offense, which has multiple personnel groups and multiple formations. Let's see how they are going to do. They've had their advantage because I've come into recruiting late. Well, now it's Xs and Os time. Let's see who has the advantage now."
This post isn't really about Michigan, because that game provided no more information about Michigan than the upcoming Eastern Michigan game will. When not blocked, they can sack; when not shed, they can run.
And thus the House of Weis comes crashing down. Notre Dame, in year three of the Weis regime, is 119th -- last -- in rushing, total offense, and scoring offense. The pass offense, Notre Dame's bright spot, is 115th. Notre Dame has been blown out by more than twenty points for the past five games. NDNation begins to turn in on itself, and even Stewart Mandel -- generally the last person to realize anything -- has caught on to the sleight of hand Weis parlayed into a ten year, 40 million dollar contract. Losing to Appalachian State seems like small potatoes in comparison.
Notre Dame partisans will tell you all about this year's senior class, they of the four contributors who are all marginal players at best, and point a finger at Ty Willingham's recruiting. They are not without reason here. Willingham's 2004 class was a dire melange of two-stars and guys overrated late because they decided to go to Notre Dame. It is dragging the program down. But this far? Notre Dame has a number of contributors left over from the 2003 class: four-year starting center John Sullivan, three-year starter Trevor Laws, probable NFL first-rounder John Carlson. All told there are fifteen seniors on the Notre Dame two-deep and all of them will be departing after this year. (I think a couple may be walkons, but there are at least 12 on scholarship.)
Dire numbers, these... or not. Michigan has nine scholarship seniors. Ohio State, terrifyingly, lists all of five seniors on their entire two-deep and will graduate three starters after this year. Three of the five seniors are fullbacks. Clearly, both of these teams are much better than Notre Dame -- as are your local Pop Warner runners-up -- despite not having a massive edge in experience. Youth cannot explain away Notre Dame's start.
What can? There is a compelling case to be made that Charlie Weis sucks at life and, by extension, football. This is the Notre Dame offensive line that has given up 23 sacks:
- C John Sullivan. Redshirt senior. A four-year starter; given four stars and ranked the #3 center in 2003.
- LT Paul Duncan. True junior. Three-star, #26 OT of 2005. Other finalists: UCLA, Oklahoma, LSU.
- LG Mike Turkovich. True junior. Three-star, #30 OT of 2005. Other finalists: Wisconsin, BC, LSU.
- RT Sam Young. True sophomore. Five-star all-everything recruit; returning starter.
- RG Dan Wenger. Redshirt freshman. Four-star Rivals 250 member; #3 center of 2006.
Syracuse is second-to-last with 18 sacks allowed; no one else in the country has allowed more than 13. Not even Temple. Is this the picture of a line pretty obviously the worst in the country? Consider that Michigan is currently rocking a true sophomore and a redshirt freshman itself. Sam Young has the recruiting rankings than Schilling does and a year of starting experience; last year Schilling sat on the sidelines with mono, then injured his shoulder in the spring. Dan Wenger was rated slightly lower than Justin Boren and redshirted himself. Taken together these guys are a wash. John Sullivan is a four-year starter and redshirt senior who was a four-star his recruiting year: this is equivalent to Jake Long in terms of rating and experience. (Perhaps this is not quite fair, but we did give a wash to the kids on the line when Young has started for a season and neither Michigan player has.) Where Michigan has an advantage is in junior Alex Mitchell and senior Adam Kraus, who have one and two years experience on true juniors Paul Duncan and Mike Turkovich, respectively, plus a star edge in recruiting rankings. This is not an enormous gap. Michigan's line should be better than Notre Dame's, but not 295 rushing yards better.
Meanwhile, erstwhile starting quarterback Demetrius Jones -- lauded as a great guy and one of the keys to Notre Dame's impressive 2008 recruiting class -- got benched and immediately bolted for Northern Illinois... or didn't, instead enrolling at NIU on September 4th but continuing to practice with the Irish until it was time to board the bus for Ann Arbor, at which point he moved out of the dorm without telling anyone. It's hard to think of a more vindictive way to leave a football team that doesn't involve kneecapping the starting quarterback on the way out.
In a vacuum, this could be considered the petulant act of a 19-year-old kid angry at losing his spot. But last year starting defensive end Ronald Talley left Notre Dame for I-AA Delaware for no apparent reason. And running back Darius Walker bolted for the NFL draft... at least in theory. He was passed over and everyone got in their mocking, but he looks like a genius now. This was a non-screwup of a kid leaving early for NFL prospects everyone knew were dim. (Zach Frazer's transfer was a clear "you're never playing here, kid" sort of thing that happens to most programs, but it's also faulty roster management that leaves ND with two scholarship quarterbacks.)
Anyone who's read this blog for more than a nanosecond knows what the upcoming explanation is going to be: Weis is a colossal asshole. Heck, anyone who's read one of his many ridiculously arrogant press conference quotes (the grand mother of them begins this post) or saw the embarassing 60 Minutes puff piece -- wherein Weis came off as a bully and a jackass -- when Notre Dame was returning to glory for the umpteenth time knows this. The only wonder is that the media spent the better part of 2.5 years pumping him up as Weis E. Coyote, Certified Super Genius, largely because Weis spent every available moment telling the media that he and his ACME catalog of incredibly sophisticated devices were worth a foolproof touchdown every game. Somehow I doubt even Tyrone Willingham would have Notre Dame scoring -7 points per game.
Erickson driving a golf cart into a volcano, I can have this.
The result of all these fantastic toys? Literally nothing. No touchdowns. No rushing yards. No hope. This implosion has to be laid at Weis' feet. Jeff Carroll of the South Bend Tribune brings forth an excellent point:
Weis sabotaged this season when he installed that gimmick offense for the opener. What that did, beyond chasing unloved Demetrius Jones to DeKalb, Ill., was rob valuable learning time from new starters who should have been absorbing the fundamentals of running Notre Dame's real offense.
He essentially flushed preseason practices down the drain, never to be recovered. Since then, the inexperienced offense has been scrambling to get up to speed, and it may never, at least not this season. But, again, that's a symptom, not the underlying problem. The main malady is that Weis thinks that because he can process complex schemes, his players can do the same in 20 hours a week.
Weis either half-assed a spread offense and wasted some of his preseason prep time or really went for it, wasted all of his player's time, and junked it 30 minutes into the season. Either way it's a huge miscalculation borne of hubris, the one thing Weis has more of than lipids.*
Thus an odd situation to find oneself in: I kind of wish Notre Dame was better. Obliterating Notre Dame for the second consecutive year was a pick-me up, but it can only be so meaningful when Notre Dame is intent on snapping it to Tacopants and generally soiling itself whenever Michigan
- does something clever like run left, or
- does something clever like rush the passer.
As it is, a 38-0 whitewashing of Notre Dame means almost nothing in the somewhat grander (ie: Big Ten) scheme of things. Michigan will play no worse team this year. Eastern Michigan is likely to rack up positive rushing yards. Minnesota will probably manage the shotgun snap just fine. Both are strong possibilities to score; even if they do not they will probably have more than one meaningful snap on Michigan's side of the field. If Notre Dame did not suck so very badly, our prospects for Penn State would be cheerier. But they are not and so 38-0 is just a pleasant nothing of a game, enjoyable in and of itself but no solace in the face of teams that will do more than swing purses at onrushing players.
So there is always this, even when you've just lost to Appalachian State: Notre Dame sucks and has sucked for 14 years. This offseason we will search the country high and low for a proven collegiate winner; Notre Dame is saddled with a maladjusted hunchback who they have given a ten-year contract for losing to USC.
*(it's a fat joke, sure, but it's a science-y fat joke.)
- But oh boy do I still have some problems with our coaching staff. Unless Henne is for-sure playing this week, Michigan's decision to spend the entire second half grinding away on the ground was ludicrous. We have a true freshman quarterback who may or may not be starting against Justin King and Penn State next week; we should have been throwing on every down as soon as the game hit 38-0. It might have drawn fire for being "classless," but this isn't Chad Henne out there. Every rep the kid can get against actual competition helps.
- I really hope Carlos Brown's problem is cast-related, but I don't know... visions of Max Martin dance in my head, minus all the bad-apple stuff.
- Johnny Sears gone, drugs, bye.
- What is the deal with James Rogers and Renaldo Sagesse getting playing time? And Zion Babb? Have we learned nothing from Prescott Burgess?
- On first glance the linebackers were vastly improved, especially Thompson, but I think much of that was never having to deal with blockers.
- I think we might be able to grind Penn State pretty good; last year we had a decently effective ground game and now they have a very young defensive line. Stats are good so far, but against FIU, Notre Dame, and Buffalo. (Note that even before this year, Penn State looked to have a horrible nonconference schedule with those three teams and Temple. The three non-ND teams were ranked #117, #118, and #119 among D-I football programs by ESPN; with the Irish collapse Penn State may have the worst nonconference schedule of all time.)
- Mallett: meh performance, but I love his enthusiasm:
- There is a season to have if Penn State is defeated. That's the nice bit of being in a conference.
- No shirking from BGS' Dylan, who steps up to the plate and takes it like a man with... uh... two sentences:
You are what your record says you are, and right now you're an 0-3 football team, and that's not good enough.
Not by a damn sight.
Good game, mister. Glass houses.
Stripe versus Swoosh. Fight! Yesterday the university announced that, effective next year, the primary athletics sponsor was switching from Nike to Adidas. This is not something I particularly care about, at least not to the extent that it matters more than $7.5 million per year, nearly double the previous deal. If Adidas put in the best bid, I'm perfectly happy to dump Nike. There's an undercurrent of discontent with the move out there I find odd after the introduction of the controversial Bibby McPiping jerseys that were universally panned and then immediately forgotten about.
Well, the piping's still there and it still irritates. Unfortunately I can't find the exact quote, but something Uni Watch's Paul Lukas said about that one horrible weekend when Florida, Virginia Tech, and a few other teams wore asymmetrical Nike eyesores featuring one neon sleeve stuck with me: the truly grating thing (other than, you know, the uniforms) was that Nike seemed to regard itself as the show, not the teams they sponsor.
What bothered me about the piping was not the piping itself but the fact that Miami had identical piping-bib-woo jerseys done in different colors, as, I'm sure, do several other teams. Nike tries to play this off as a structural necessity required to prevent their space age jerseys from accidentally sending players to the moon or something, but I've seen a lot of shirts in my time -- people just love wearing the things -- and I call bull. Universally identical piping was a Nike branding technique subtle enough to rope Michigan in. I'd rather be Michigan than a Nike school that happens to wear maize and blue. So, insofar as I care for reasons other than "the athletic department gets money they can rule the world with," I support the devil we don't know here.
Internal UPDATE! The Free Press with more delicious details:
There is a "most favored nation" clause in the contract that will keep Michigan as Adidas' top college deal.
Nice! NDNation is throwing a hissy fit; they signed a ten year, $60 million contract in 2005 (Michigan's is the same money over eight years) and are upset about the MFN status and the fact that Michigan is getting "33%" more than ND did. That's what you get when your engineering school sucks ass.
McGuffdate. USAToday w/ Rivals content:
McGuffie still undecided
Sam McGuffie, the nation's top all-purpose back, took a visit to Michigan last week. The 6-foot, 188-pounder has yet to make his college decision, but said he's getting close.
"The recruiting process is getting very overwhelming, but there will be a decision in the next few weeks," McGuffie said. "Michigan has been my favorite for a while, followed by USC, Texas A&M, Oklahoma State and Florida (in no particular order).
"I want to enjoy this process and not make it so pressure-packed."
That Sunday-next decision referenced in Monday Recruitin' appears to be off. It's encouraging that "Michigan has been [his] favorite for a while," but A&M folk are suddenly confident and the public opinion of the internet is rapidly switching. So... yeah. I kind of have to back off earlier confidence. I wouldn't call it unconfident -- I still think he ends up at Michigan -- but this reversal is pretty frickin' weird and I don't know what to do with it. FWIW.
It appears two sorts of people read this blog: students and lawyers. This is for the latter:
Coach Carr has only 116 spots available on his team and he wants you to be part of it. The 2nd Annual Michigan Men's Fantasy Football Experience will be held on August 2-3, 2007. Proceeds will benefit the "Men of Michigan" Prostate Cancer Research Fund at the University of Michigan. Our goal is to advance awareness, research and treatment of the most diagnosed cancer in American men.
We will conduct two-a-days practice installing offensive and defensive schemes coached by the Michigan coaching staff. Participants will attend a typical team meeting in Schembechler Hall, review actual practice film, and suit up in the Michigan Stadium team locker room. You will have your own locker at the Big House and receive an authentic Nike game jersey.
The cost for the two day experience is $2,500 per person and includes meals and overnight accommodations at the Campus Inn Hotel where the team stays prior to every home football game. We have an outstanding event planned and we hope you will join us for a memorable experience. You can reserve your spot on Coach Carr's team or receive additional information by contacting FootballExperience@umich.edu
As noted, all proceeds benefit charity. Last year Jon Chait went and reported back with a fascinating look inside the camp and the program. Anyone who decides to go this year is encouraged to offer up their own impressions. There is a guest post waiting for you.
Did we know this? The Chicago Tribune has an article on Alice Cooper's new golf book -- anyone who's surprised hasn't seen Wayne's World. In it, a potentially awesome addition to Mini-Me amongst the B-level Celebrity Michigan fan parade:
Cooper was born Vincent Damon Furnier in East Detroit in 1948 to a family with French Huguenot roots mixed with Sioux Indian "and a lot of Irish." (He changed his name legally to Alice Cooper in the '70s.)
The Furniers had three vital rules: "You had to be a Democrat; you had to be a Tigers fan; and you had to be a [Michigan] Wolverines fan," Cooper remembers.
(Thanks, Chicago Tribune, for specifying that. It's not like we're the Wildcats.) We can't compete with USC, obviously, but I think Mini-Me and Alice Cooper is a hell of a Celebrity Fan Deathmatch tag team.
Hey... great. A helpful commenter points out this chilling quote from BTN president Mark Silverman in a brief AP article that seems rephrased from a press release:
"We're well on our way toward ensuring that roughly half the subscribers to smaller cable systems across the Midwest have better access to their favorite Big Ten schools and teams than anytime in history," Big Ten Network president Mark Silverman said in a statement.
Yikes. Way to lower expectations. Hopefully that's just an awkward, easily misinterpreted public statement and not a reflection of revised ambition.