landing spot. will be interesting to see how he does.
Tom Harmon would be proud. In 1943, Tom Harmon's plane went down in a tropical storm over South America. Four days and fifty miles later, a half-dead Harmon stumbled into a clearing in French Guina, swearing eternal revenge against tornadoes, hurricanes, tropical depressions, cyclones, tsunamis, and those little swirling eddies you get on fall days. Anything that was wind moving in a vaguely circular direction was in for it.
Though Harmon pwned the Amazon, sired models, and singlehandedly defeated Tojo, he never defeated his nemesis. But you, the anonymous mass of Michigan internet people, did, raising over seven thousand dollars in three days, completely defeating severe weather events forever.
These are your just rewards:
I commend you. Some guy forwarded along his $500 confirmation letter to me and asked if that was worth an MGoWish: yes, it is. Anyone else with a similarly large heart can forward along their confirmation email and gently influence this blog's direction over the summer.
Michigan's total was
- over a third of the total amount,
- nearly three times that of runner-up Ohio State, and
- more than the next six teams combined.
Jesus. Orson's moral is "never get in a fundraising war with Michigan"; mine is "I really should be asking for more donations."
Excuse fatwa! Boiled Sports took the recent Weis yammering and dug up some more of Charlie's greatest hits. Of the listed, my favorite:
"What happened came as a surprise," Weis said. "But I'm not going to use it as an excuse and say our team was distracted."
No, clearly you're not going to say that. We've pointed this out before, but this is like saying, "Your sister's low-cut top and huge tits came as a surprise to me, but I'm not going to insult you and call her a whore."
Weis is inordinately fond of saying that he's not going to use this obviously valid thing he just said as an excuse. He just letting you know that despite the fact he's got an emu at quarterback and five narcoleptics on the offensive line, he's not using that as an excuse.
Ugh. Fanhouse post up on the percentage of BCS opponents each conference takes on, and guess what? The Big Ten is dead last at 29%. Seven of the thirteen games against BCS competition are versus Notre Dame (3), Syracuse (2), Iowa State, and Duke, teams that were a combined 9-39 last year. The entire slate of decent nonconference opposition:
- Missouri vs Illinois (neutral site game in St. Louis)
- Iowa @ Pitt
- MSU @ Cal
- OSU @ USC
- Oregon State @ PSU
- Oregon @ Purdue
It's probably not fair to completely dismiss the Notre Dame games since those are all long-standing rivalries scheduled with the idea Notre Dame won't be coming off the second-worst offensive performance of the millennium, but even if you count them that's nine games across eleven teams.
Minnesota, Northwestern, and Indiana didn't sign up anyone even slightly worthwhile, but Minnesota lost to North Dakota State and Northwestern to Duke so they had the choice between competitive games against Wofford or getting housed, I guess. Indiana is Indiana. Wisconsin, however, has no excuses for yet another nonconference schedule with zero BCS teams.
In a word: weak.
Landing places. There was a thread on Rivals asking where everyone from Carr's staff landed which was interesting enough to appropriate for use here:
- Ron English went from Michigan DC to Louisville DC.
- Vance Bedford went from secondary coach at Michigan to CBs coach at Florida.
- Steve Szabo went from Michigan LBs coach to DC at I-AA Colgate.
- Scot Loeffler went from Michigan QB coach to the Lions QB coach. (This would normally count as a step up, but it's the Lions.)
- Erik Campbell went from Michigan WR coach to Iowa WR coach.
- Fred Jackson is still at Michigan as the RBs coach.
All these folk landed on their feet. Even if Louisville and Iowa are steps down from Michigan, finding a comparable assistant position at a good BCS school a few months after you lose your job in a coaching changeover is tough. English and Campbell were amongst the top targets on the market. Bedford may have been, though his connection with Florida co-DC Greg Mattison helps. Lions jokes aside, Loeffler got a promotion and will probably be a college OC somewhere within five years. Szabo's an interesting case: is being DC at a I-AA program equal to being a position coach at Michigan? Probably not, but it's not far off and Colgate's pretty decent from appearances.
Uh, not so much.
- Andy Moeller went from OL coach at Michigan to assistant (to the) Ravens' OL coach.
- Mike Debord went from OC at Michigan to assistant (to the) Seahawks' OL coach.
- Steve Stripling appears to be unemployed.
Michigan guaranteed its coaches their 2008 salaries before the changeover, so it's possible Stripling is just waiting for the right opportunity or spending the year bathed in pudding or something.
Moeller and Debord, well... even Terry Malone got to be the Saints' tight ends coach, not assistant (to the) tight ends coach. Jim Herrmann is the Jets' linebackers coach. The only Michigan coach to meet a grislier fate was grad assistant Jim Boccher, who guided Michigan's special teams to devastating implosions against Oregon and Iowa in 2003 and immediately went into real estate or something.
All told, the landing spots roughly match up with fan opinion of the coaches, don't they? Debord and Moeller are poison, Loeffler is the best, the rest of the staff is solid but unspectacular with the possible exception of Ron English's untapped upside.
Yes! Yes! Yes! Brandon at Garnet and Black Attack must not read this blog, but I don't care, he can be Leibnitz:
PROPOSED: That college football fans support a six-team playoff format.
Why six teams? Because it maintains a good deal of the drama of the regular season. There would still be a lot on the line: Lose one game, and you might not get a first-week bye (see the bracket below). Lose two games, and you might not even make the tournament.
His BCS conference-champs only version will never fly -- not that my version would -- since the little guys and Notre Dame will block it, and I don't like it because sometimes it's clear two of the top six teams are in the same conference.
There were some protests lodged against the proposed system that I'll get to in whenever I do a mailbag, but I wanted to address this MOTSAG post:
Brian's MGoPlayoff system (which, btw, was
written right after OSU knocked UM out of contention for the 2006 title) is very typical of most playoff ideas, in that it doesn't require nor ask for any changes to the poll system to be made. They're largely just variations of the same flawed idea.
E. By committee. A dedicated team of people who do this year-round and are geographically distributed.
Polls are sucky, conflict-of-interest-laden things to determine a playoff field. The only way to do it is to get a half-dozen very serious people to pore over the records and statistics and opponent records and opponent's opponent's records and etc etc etc. I do appreciate MOTSAG's suggestion to actually use the Blogpoll to determine end-of-season things, except... wait. No I don't. People would kill me.
"Scheme is overrated, I've always believed that," Shafer said. "What's not overrated is getting your kids to play with great effort, great attitude and great enthusiasm. Those are things we can control on a daily basis, and that will be my primary goal. ... The philosophy of our defense is attack-oriented, attack and react. We want to be a defense this is multiple, that is always putting pressure and forcing the hand of the offense. We want to be a penetrating defense.
"If you're going to (ask) what our objectives are? The one thing we want to do is stop the run, force them to throw the ball on first down, create negative plays on first down ... and get ourselves in position to force them to throw the ball. Get them one-dimensional. We don't want to be a defense that sits back. We want to be a defense that creates turnovers and scores touchdowns. Lead the conference in sacks, interceptions and defensive scores. That's how it's always been everywhere I've coached and how it will be at Michigan."
Hey... this guy is going to run an aggressive, in-your-face defense, just like every defensive coordinator ever. I suppose there is a difference here in that Shafer has the numbers to back it up: always better against the run, tons of sacks, strong evidence his corners should wear asbestos pads.
Scott Shafer, late of Stanford, is the new defensive coordinator. Coaching assignments on the D-side of the ball as follows:
Rodriguez has designated defensive coaching assignments as follows: Scott Shafer (defensive coordinator), Tony Gibson (assistant head coach/secondary), Jay Hopson (linebackers) and Bruce Tall (defensive line).
Informative update coming.
Update: Shafer's name didn't ring a bell until I saw Western Michigan on his bio. Then I was like "heyyyy... I know that guy!" Check it:
[New Stanford coach Jim] Harbaugh had never spoken to Scott Shafer when he pulled up last year's NCAA statistics on the Web. But he knew what he was looking for. Harbaugh wanted to lure a coordinator from one of the top-rated defenses.
There, at No. 11, was Harbaugh's man.
Last year, Shafer's defense at Western Michigan was ranked 11th overall, sixth against the run and first in sacks and interceptions.
When Shafer arrived two years earlier, the Mid-American Conference school was much like Stanford is now - coming off a one-win season and ranked at the bottom of nearly all defensive statistics.
"Every program he has been involved with has been a rebuild," Harbaugh said. "I just felt like you don't have to know a guy to hire him. You spend 365 days with him, you're going to be best friends after a year."
Shafer's the guy Harbaugh hired on eHarmony! I wonder if Rodriguez has met him. Presumably the answer is yes.
Anyway, Shafer's got an extensive track record as a DC. Prior to his hiring at Stanford he was Western's DC in '05 and '06, Illinois' DB coach in '04 (yikes!), and Northern Illinois' defensive coordinator from '00 to '03, and spent four years as NIU's DBs coach before that.
Statistics and whatnot:
(Caveats: the "previously" column is not available for NIU, as the NCAA's online statistics only go back to 2000. Sacks were not tracked before 2006. Also please note that Schafer's 2005 was skewed by a 5 OT game against Ball State. (Not to excuse said D for sucking pretty hard.) Also keep in mind that MAC teams usually play at least a couple games against way more talented foes and rarely end up particularly high in the rankings.)
Amongst a sea of rather modest returns one thing stands out: holy crap does this guy like to blitz. A year after leading WMU to the most sacks in the country, he took Stanford from 111th to 11th. Other trends: the rush defense is usually better than the pass defense, sometimes significantly, and the defenses usually improve as he stays on. I guess. It's hard to tell. While his first years at Western and Stanford were abysmal, you can't blame him given the even more abysmal results his predecessor left him, and Western's turnaround in year two is impressive.
The NIU record may tell us more, as the Huskies were decent (5-6) the year before his ascension and remained decent after. His results there are decent to good given the talent level available and NIU's regularly murderous non-conference schedule: BCS teams most of the time with a rare gimme in the days before you could get away with a I-AA team every freakin' year. It's worth noting that Shafer's final year at NIU was their apex, the 10-2 season where they beat Maryland and Alabama to open the year. Maryland would finish 10-3 and sport the #27 scoring offense (#28 in yardage); NIU held them to 13 points. Alabama was much crappier at 4-9 but NIU held them to 16 points, fewer than any team save LSU and Oklahoma. Those two would meet in the (sorta) national championship game at year's end.
Yeah, NIU got shredded in losses to Toledo (with Bruce Gradkowski, so understandable) and Bowling Green (with Josh Harris and Urban Meyer -- this was the year the MAC was really freakin' good), but those teams would finish #19 and #3, respectively, in total offense.
So... I dunno. kind of a flier on a guy who put in an impressive reclamation job at Western and had a decent run at NIU, but not exactly Jon Tenuta. Bonuses: he's from Ohio, has a ton of experience in the Midwest, and he's almost unbelievably young (41) for a guy who's been DC at three different schools. Also, one of his kids is named "Wolfgang." Also also, as you can see above, he kind of looks like a Bond villain. Also also also, Jim Harbaugh's gotta be pissed.
CSTV has a name for the open DC spot:
...head coach Rich Rodriguez is interested in possibly hiring Jon Hoke as his defensive coordinator. Hoke currently is the defensive backs coach with the Houston Texans. He previously served as the defensive coordinator at
from 1999-2001, taking over for Bob Stoops. Florida
The NCAA's archive only goes back to 2000, but the two years encompassed there are pretty good:
After the 2001 season, Spurrier left for the NFL and Ron Zook came in; Hoke took a job as the Texans' defensive backs coach. He's held that position since, surviving a coaching change along the way. Before his tenure at Florida he was the defensive backs coach at Missouri, Kent State, San Diego State, and Bowling Green. (There was year of defensive coordination at Kent State, too.)
He's also a little nuts:
"He might be the most nervous person I've seen in my life," cornerback DeMarcus Faggins said. "He's walking up and down. He takes energy drinks and he might take way more than he needs for the game. I think he starts shaking."Cornerback Dunta Robinson has his own strategy."He's one of those guys you don't want to talk to before the game or during the game," Robinson said. "I try to stay away from him as much as I can on Sundays. A lot of times it gets heated. We might go back and forth, but as soon as we get off the field it gets back to normal."
And, yes, he's Brady Hoke's brother.
Seems like a pretty good choice with some experience as a college DC and an excellent reputation in the NFL. One issue: if Tall and Gibson and Hoke and Hopson are the defensive assistants, that's four guys who coached the secondary last year. As discussed, Tall has some experience with the DL and a lot of experience with linebackers, but everyone else in that scenario is a DB lifer.
Update: Yes, an update even before I post the damn thing. Chengelis:
Hoke, I am told, is not at all interested in the position and will not be interviewing for the job -- he is very happy with the Texans and the NFL. Another name I've heard regarding potential defensive coordinators is Stanford DC Scott Shafer. Shafer just finished his first season as defensive coordinator with the Cardinal. He was the DC at Western Michigan for two years and has coached in the Big Ten at Indiana and Illinois.
Rats. Not that I was particularly invested in Hoke, but that was a waste of a half hour.
This is pretty weird, but bear with me: WVU appears to have hired Florida assistant Doc Holliday. Holliday is (was?) Florida's defensive backs coach and has a reputation as an outstanding recruiter. (Question: is there anyone who doesn't have a reputation as a great recruiter?) He's also a West Virginia native who played and coached at WVU for a 25-year span before leaving in 2000.
BFD, right? West Virginia's assistant coaches are their own affair. Well...
With Stan Drayton gone to Tennessee and the ever-looming possibility that assistant head coach Doc Holliday will be taking a five-year contract worth $2.5 million to become the defensive coordinator and assistant head coaching position [sic] at West Virginia, several names have popped up as potential replacements on the Florida coaching staff.
Florida premium sites are reporting the "possibility" as a done deal as of a few hours ago; this is not a drill. This Gatorsports article also mentions the possibility of Holliday coming in as assistant (to the) head coach but doesn't mention anything about defensive coordinator.
In one way, this makes sense, as moving from Florida to West Virginia to be a position coach is not even a lateral move, no offense to West Virginia. But in another this does not, as one of only two West Virginia coaches new HC Bill Stewart was able to hang on to was Jeff Casteel, who's kinda sorta already the defensive coordinator.
Would Casteel take a demotion when Rodriguez is sitting there with a defensive coordinator spot for the taking? Seems doubtful. Is WVU going to hire Holliday, name him assistant head coach, and not put him in charge of the defense? Also seems doubtful. Might want to keep an eye on this over the next couple of days.
Update: The Charleston Gazette says that Holliday is the "associate head coach in charge of tight ends and fullbacks" and recruiting coordinator. No dice here, evidently.
Fellow new hire Steve Dunlap is "assistant head coach in charge of safeties." Can I be vice regional head coach in charge of toothbrushes?
Right... UFR. Uh. Well, it's like this: without the obvious deadline of next week's game it turns out it's a lot easier to procrastinate on these things. I'm working on it but it's gonna be a bit late.
Happy Trails, Pt II. Rodriguez went to the Indiana game last night -- soon you will wise to the ways of hockey, RR -- and spoke briefly to reporters there. The bluntness from the Rome interview was not, er, blunted. On Mallett:
"He's not playing for Michigan," Rodriguez said . "I'm concerned with whose [sic] playing for Michigan. That's my concern."
Rodriguez also said that Arrington's departure is official and that Manningham didn't attend today's introductory team meeting; he's also unlikely to return. Terrelle Pryor, come on down. Also plz some other people.
Shooting Blue perused the audio available on Rivals and notes a few other newsbits: Hopson has officially been hired, but not necessarily as the defensive coordinator. Rodriguez still has to hire one more guy on that side of the ball, and that guy could be the DC. Michigan expects to field a full class of 25; some of the attrition will be medical. And Michigan will be looking for wideouts and quarterbacks in quantity.
Happy Trails? Terrance Taylor is also considering the NFL:
Muskegon coach Tony Annese said Monday that he had spoken with Taylor the previous evening and that the player had not received a report from the NFL advisory committee about his possible draft position. Annese said Taylor would not reach a decision until after he heard from the NFL.
Hopefully said report is unsatisfactory. No offense, Terrance.
Right. An official release from Michigan has the following persons in the following places:
Name â€¢ Position
Calvin Magee â€¢ Associate Head Coach/Offensive Coordinator
Tony Dews â€¢ Wide Receivers
Greg Frey â€¢ Offensive Line
Tony Gibson â€¢ Secondary
Jay Hopson â€¢ TBA; Defensive Assistant
Fred Jackson â€¢ Running Backs
Rod Smith â€¢ Quarterbacks
Bruce Tall â€¢ TBA; Defensive Assistant
Tall and Hopson are TBA with one more defensive assistant to come; though Tall did safeties for the past few years at WVU before that he did the defensive line for a couple seasons at WMU and was a DC/LB coach for nine years at Harvard and Northeastern. He could well end up the LB coach. Heck, he might have been an LB coach at WVU: the official release says he was WVU's "spur and bandit" safeties coach; those two guys are the LB/DB hybrids that often stick their nose in the box.
We should know who the final piece of the puzzle is by the weekend, according to Rodriguez. Also note that Gibson's been relieved of his duties as recruiting coordinator. Michigan has a standalone recruiting coordinator in Chris Singletary, who was retained along with most of the administrative staff. WVU's refusal to provide this sort of administrative support was one of the cited factors in Rodriguez' departure.
Word. Jim Carty's piece on Jay Bilas' obsession with Michigan is worth a read. I probably would have gone more ad hominem on Bilas, whose latest petulant outburst about the Michigan program is the second-stupidest one yet (#1 remains the suggestion that Martin should be fired for getting rid of Tommy Amaker after a mere six years), but it's rare to see a newspaper columnist bring it hard against another member of the media. This blog, on the other hand, does it all the time. So this means more coming from the Ann Arbor News:
Given that, it's probably time for someone at ESPN to suggest to Bilas that - after calling for athletic director Bill Martin's firing and now ripping a first-year coach who's in the midst of a rebuilding job - its time to leave the Wolverines alone for a while.
And time for Michigan fans to turn somewhere else for serious analysis of their basketball program.
As mentioned, word. Bilas' breathtaking lack of professionalism about this Amaker situation has permanently killed his credibility with anyone who watched Amaker's teams flail about, turn the ball over 20 times a game, and never make the NCAA tournament. Bilas -- so eager to jump all over Beilein half a year into his tenure -- apparently expected Michigan's Methuselan patience with Amaker to extend a full decade, because there's no freakin' way this team was going to the NCAA even if John Wooden was coaching them. It was fire him now or waste a year and fire him then. Or, I guess, never fire him ever because Jay Bilas once spooned with him after a Final Four game.
Heavens to Betsy. The Chicago Tribune has the most shocking news of the year:
Big Ten Network President Mark Silverman said Monday he was "cautiously optimistic" an agreement could be reached with Comcast, the largest cable distributor in the area. The parties began having "productive conversations" in December, Silverman said.
Sure, the year is only nine days old, but... !!!
The standoff here was more about tiers than cost according to the BTN, though when I talked to a Comcast VP this summer I managed to get an approximate "We would pay X to have the BTN on expanded basic" figure out of him: a quarter. That, like the BTN's widely cited (and apparently either fictional or outdated) $1.10 asking price, was likely a negotiating position and not a realistic assessment of what they would pay to get it on the basic tier. Assuming the final numbers become public here, it'll be interesting to see what the final negotiated price is. Also interesting: actually getting the BTN.
Etc.: Lloyd's cousin reflects on his career.