Why else would people keep leaving the Micigan (sucks!) program?
I'm enjoying the tears with an Allagash White. Join us, wont you?
I was going to update the recruiting board but a computer crash ate it. So: #$*((#$. Delay.
Tickets. Have received several emails about the best ticket strategy for the Frozen Four, so: I'm not an expert since I've only gone to one, that in Buffalo in 2003, but that experience leads me to believe that tickets will be available in abundance. In Buffalo you couldn't throw a rock without hitting someone hawking 4 tickets; some guys were carrying around enormous packets.
We ended up buying lower-bowl seats right behind the net where Jason Ryznar's goal was waved off (woo!) for face value; when the immense depression of that game's OT loss combined with the lethal carnie strip of "attractions" on the Canadian side of the Niagara Falls border to force us home ASAP we left our (stupidly, arrogantly purchased) tickets for the final with my brother, who ended up selling them for just over half of face.
With both Colorado schools bombing out in the regionals (thanks, MSU and Wisconsin!) the situation in Denver is likely to be similar. BC is half a continent away and Notre Dame fans barely know they have a hockey program. The other ND and Michigan figure to bring large contingents, but Buffalo was much closer to participating programs and the aforementioned scenario played out.
So given all that, I'm pretty comfortable with the idea of heading out there with the intention of buying tickets on the street. Unfortunately, this year the second semi ends within an hour of the first one and there is a single ticket for both. In previous years there had been separate tickets. This scuttles the post-semi dump wherein fans of the losing team sell tickets to the second semi.
We're going to print out a Pepsi center seating chart and go for the gusto. IIRC, the athletic department tickets were lower-bowl but in the corners in Buffalo.
What? Notre Dame is selling your standard a "woo frozen four shirt" on their official site. But apparently they got theirs from a mirror universe:
This seemed like an easy opportunity to make fun, but on closer inspection it's just weird. Michigan goes out in the first round to Northeastern, which didn't even make the tournament. Northeastern then plays Wisconsin, which beat UMass -- also not in the tournament. In fact, every first-round game is wrong and the only thing the shirt got right was a second-round matchup between ND and State going to ND. So that's... bizarre. It's as if they said "hey, no one's going to believe ND is in the Frozen Four anyway, let's just go all the way with this."
Movin' on up. I previously speculated that Brandon Minor might be headed elsewhere because of the shift in offensive philosophy; initial returns on that are as good as "Porter is a creation of Hensick":
Junior running back Brandon Minor and senior cornerback Morgan Trent have become early vocal leaders of the team, Rodriguez said.
That's a week or two old. This is new:
Defensive standouts: Rodriguez listed fifth-year senior John Thompson, redshirt sophomore Obi Ezeh and junior Stevie Brown as the defensive players who have stood out in the spring.
Thompson is trying to take the starting middle linebacker job from Ezeh, who was a Freshman All-American last year. Redshirt sophomore Jonas Mouton and sophomore Marell Evans appear to be leading the way at the outside spots. Rodriguez said the linebacker corps was one of the deepest units on the team.
How are these items related? Evans and Minor both attended Varina High in Virginia. Minor was generally well regarded -- a mid four-star, IIRC, though some sites rated him as fullback -- while Evans was virtually ignored. How ignored? He's the first two-star Michigan prospect (kickers excluded) since Andre Criswell two years before, and Criswell was a last-second edition. Michigan can get a commit from the most obscure Estonian and Rivals will give Argpan Ekerbajain a third star if given a couple weeks to re-evaluate him. Evans, not so much. Michigan recruited Evans specifically because Brandon Minor told them he outworked Brandon Minor; I probably should have given him more credit.
I find the leaders at linebacker interesting for these reasons:
Varsity Blue has some video from spring practice. Remember that year in NCAA when 1) John Navarre was Michigan's quarterback and 2) the option was unstoppable anyway? Yeah, watching David Cone run a triple option brings back the memories:
There's another set of clips at VB. I watched them, for what little value that provided. Main impression: holy God, Jason Kates still blocks out the sun.
I usually don't go in for the predictable photoshopped baby in the aftermath of someone bailing or complaining or something, but good freakin' lord this is creepy:
Mmm, that's good nightmare fuel. Image you'll see in your sleep tonight prompted by this Matt Hayes article in which he checks out Michigan practice and finds a distinct lack of blood orgies.
Etc.: MVictors actually cased Saline High's football field in an effort to scout out spots from which you, the fre
nzied, BTN-less Michigan nut, can espy Michigan's spring game. The internet at its best.
Since every email I've gotten in the last few days is titled "Boren" or "Justin Boren"...
Not really. Well, maybe. I don't know, really. But certain things become clear as Borens continue to talk to people in the paper. One: dad isn't that bright.
"We wanted to have this go away quietly..."
This is best accomplished by publicly bemoaning the erosion of family values in the program. (Insiders indicate that Rodriguez had an odd policy where a player could not practice unless he brought a used, preferably fur-covered condom to Oosterban.)
Two: they're looking out for number one.
"...but we didn't want people to think he's a quitter or couldn't handle the system."
So there you go. Sell out the program because you're worried about the public perception. Congratulations. The public perception has changed from "that's weird and disturbing" to "oh, they're just assholes." (Perception, mind you. I have no evidence to suggest that Justin Boren is an asshole except for the fact that he's enormous and plays football. His dad, on the other hand... I think it's clear that all the stuff in the media is the product of the supposed adult; Justin probably just wants to go somewhere and play.)
It sucks that Boren hated the new staff so much he wanted to transfer, and that's his prerogative. A multi-day campaign of offense against the University when the only statement it issued on the matter was a factual "Boren has left the program" is grounds for excommunication. Stone the witches!
The difference. This, from a Notre Dame blog, is too perfect:
Clearly, Rich Rodriguez is an Unmitigated Jerk
Why else would people keep leaving the Micigan (sucks!) program?
I'm enjoying the tears with an Allagash White. Join us, wont you?
In three brief lines they've encapsulated everything about internet Notre Dame fandom that is hilarious and deranged. You've got the juvenile name alteration, the "I am drinking, this is what I am drinking, I am so cool" name drop, and, of course, the walleyed inability to perceive anything wrong with a 3-9 program. Clearly, one player who bothered to stay for spring practice deciding he's going to leave is unshakable evidence. It's way better evidence than, say, four midseason transfers of kids you recruited during your third year with the program. Keep on reachin' for the stars.
There is one point incidentally made here that troubles: the looming specter of Weis-like incompetence hovers over the departure, blotting out the sun. True sophomore starting guards do not generally transfer away from what one presumes is a short jaunt to the NFL.
What Rodriguez has that Weis does not is a track record of head coaching excellence spanning seven years at West Virginia in which his used, preferably furry condom policy turned a bunch of overlooked recruits into a two-BCS-bowl winning juggernaut of confusion, speed, and knives. Until such time as Rodriguez has failed to reproduce that success at Michigan he has scoreboard against all critics that predict his failure.
There is obviously a chance that Michigan has chosen... poorly and that Rodriguez will see his coaching career end in a brief, damp squeak. This is a nonzero risk, especially with the culture shock he is bringing to the program. There is always a nonzero risk. Michigan has minimized that as much as possible by acquiring a wildly successful college coach.
Ohio State, 2001. This was Jim Tressel's first year, during which they went 7-5, and only got to 7-5 because John Navarre turned in the worst half of football by a Michigan quarterback since... uh... probably 1984 or something. Since them, Tressel has had some modicum of success.
Something good. Brief excerpts from a few different "Boren" titled emails:
Please tell me things are going to get better for UM football.
Can you please write a post about some good news?
Needless to say, I'm terrified. What if Michigan only wins like 3 games next year, a la Weis-e-coyote? The horror (as you would say).
A reader to the rescue:
I just wanted to say something about the whole Justin Boren situation. Now I understand that a lot of "Michigan Men" are freaking out about this, or have turned bitter towards this kid, but let me explain how getting rid of these kids that aren't committed to the "new" Michigan regime will benefit us in the long run.
From 2004-2007 I worked for the BYU football team. Gary Crowton was the head coach at BYU when I started working there. Gary Crowton is a really nice guy and a pretty good offensive coach, but he wasn't a very good head coach. His problem was that he was too much of a "player's coach" meaning that he let the kids run the team. The offense loafed around during practice and didn't work hard. Crowton's DC was a young guy named Bronco Mendenhal who believe that you can compensate for lesser talent by working harder than your opponent. So the team was split, the offensive players were lazy, while the defense was hard working and intense. Not only did the defense work harder, they cared a lot more about the game and team.
After the season ended Gary Crowton was fired and BYU hired Bronco Mendenhal as the new head coach. Within a week of announcing Mendenhal as head coach, a handful of players decided to transfer because they didn't like Bronco's "style". Bronco worked his players harder in the offseason than they had ever worked before. When spring practices began 15 players had either transfered or quit the team...15!!!!! Once again they didn't like how Bronco was working them too hard. Bronco's intent was to get rid of all the players that didn't want to be there. He needed and wanted players who would commit 100% to the program and the system. Once he got rid of those players, the team quickly came together and fought for each other. They all knew that everyone was working just as hard as everyone else.
Now I do understant that there is a huge talent disparity between BYU and Michigan, but the results for BYU has been better than expecte. They have gone 11-2 each of the past two years. I attribute their success to Bronco's hard nosed no-nonsense approach with his players. He did not lose any sleep crying over the transfer of the #1 QB prospect in America Ben Olson (UCLA), but focused on his team and prepared his team no matter who was playing. I see RR doing the exact same thing. Michigan needs players who are going to work hard and be 100% committed to his system and work ethic. This transition has been relatively smooth compaired to other coaching changes around the country. We must remember that Michigan hasn't gone through this process for almost 40 years and we all know how that turned out. Go Blue!!
Carr, for all his positives, had started checking out the past few years. You could tell. More of the burden of leadership fell to the coordinators, one of whom had already proven he can take an above average MAC program and turn it into a zombie gerbil apocalypse. The results were obvious on the field, and off of it. 2008 is going to be a detox year, but things will improve.
Data. Data. Data. Data.
Data: This is a scam. There are a great number of things detailed in the Ann Arbor News article that are questionable and few that are anything more, but this is a scam:
Hagen set up independent study courses for two Michigan football players with just more than a month remaining in a semester. Rueben Riley and Gabe Watson dropped other classes and enrolled in an independent study course with Hagen on March 18, 2005.
Sucking a kid into an independent study with a month to go in the semester and then lobbing four B+ credits at Gabe Watson for writing a single twelve page paper that probably says "FEED ME SO HUNGRY WANT PORK CHOP" on at least six of those pages is something close to academic fraud. The university protests "this isn't Auburn" at one juncture in the article, but on the academic integrity continuum that extends from Vanderbilt on one end to Auburn on the other, that's a lot closer to Auburn.
Michigan is systematically funneling kids at risk of losing their eligibility into independent study courses of questionable content, and will in extreme cases fob some credits at players for four weeks of work in a 15 week semester. The Ann Arbor News establishes that.
Data: Mr. Bancroft, one of my history teachers in high school, was an odd bird, an elderly bald man with wild eyes and tattered ideals prone to grandiose pronouncements and strong opinions. A small but hopefully telling indicator: most people just called him "Bancroft," even his students. Though he was naturally drawn to athletes, when the Quiz Bowl team â€“ yrs truly a member, natch â€“ needed a damn fool to drive us to Washington DC and be our chaperon so we could go about .500, eke into the single-elimination rounds, and get crushed by that goddamn Virginia magnet school, he volunteered. He was a nice guy.
When you are in a van for ten hours you naturally get to talking about various topics, and the subject of Theron Wilson came up during various debates. I don't remember why. But I do remember what Mr. Bancroft said.
Theron was a black kid from Detroit that Bancroft somehow had stumbled across â€“ how was never explained â€“ and kinda sorta taken in for a couple years. Theron was six foot eight. He was also a prop 48, ineligible to play as a freshman. He was the center on the inexplicably great Eastern Michigan teams featuring Earl Boykins. When the Eagles beat Duke in 1996, he had five blocks. A few months later he was selected in the draft, but the wrong draft: Theron was the La Crosse Bobcats' third round selection in the 1996 CBA draft.
A year later, we drove to Washington DC to play the white and Asian kids of Thomas Jefferson, that damn Virginia magnet school, and Theron Smith was driving a UPS truck. "I don't know," said Bancroft. "He's just hanging on."
Data: Michael Oher, star of Michael Lewis' The Blind Side. For the purposes of our conversation, the heart of the book has to do with Michael Oher's schooling, or lack thereof. For a variety of tragic (and probably sadly common) reasons, Oher mostly attends school when he feels like taking advantage of the free lunches provided. From ten to fifteen, Oher lives a virtually feral existence in a little slice of Somalia mysteriously transported into downtown Memphis. He decides he will be Michael Jordan, and he does not go to school, ever. After a quasi-year at a downtown Memphis quasi-high school, Oher is taken out to Briarcrest Academy, a Christian school in the white section of Memphis by a guy named "Big Tony"; Briarcrest hems and haws and decides that the Christian thing to do is have an enormous black guy play on the basketball team.
Oher eventually falls in with a Briarcrest supporter named Sean Tuohy, a former Ole Miss point guard turned rich white guy. The Tuohy family ends up adopting him, and Oher ends up commiting to Ole Miss February of his senior year of high school. Despite three years of nonstop private tutoring, Oher needs a telescope to see the grade point and test score combination the NCAA requires.
At this point, Tuohy spends a lot of money and time tracking down ways to fraud â€“ there's really no other way to put, it â€“ Michael Oher into Ole Miss, striking upon two separate gold mines: a friendly psychiatric clinic that gets Oher declared "learning disabled" mostly because he has an average IQ but hasn't learned anything yet, which allows Oher unlimited, guided, untimed attempts at standardized tests, and a series of "courses" BYU should be ashamed they offer: ten-day remote equivalency courses during which he has to read about famous personages and answer five questions about them. Each set of five questions cleared allows Oher to replace a semester of F with one of A.
Oher qualifies, and starts his freshman year at Ole Miss.
Michael Oher is a very large learning disabled man with approximately three years of actual schooling and a fraudulent academic transcript and Michael Lewis writes this about him in his afterword:
IN THE SEASON AFTER this book's publication Michael Oher started every game as Ole Miss's left tackle. The Ole miss football team was so consistently inept it was hard to believe anyone on it could be any good, but Michael's play landed him on the All-SEC second team, while his grade point average (3.75) landed him, for a semester, on the University of Mississippi Dean's list. (He was honored at halftime during one Ole Miss basketball game for his schoolwork.
#$*#! I didn't carry a 3.75. I knew I should have spent my middle school years roving around inner city projects trying not to get shot.
Data: erstwhile Michigan running back Max Martin, a native Michigander who moved to Alabama for the last few years of his high school career, got in trouble a lot, and it started early. When Michigan checked up on Martin's progress for the first time, they found that Martin hadn't gone to any of his classes. He told the curious coaches that he didn't know he had to go; none the kids he knew at SEC schools had to.
After a couple seasons of fumbling and off-field transgressions, Martin transferred to Alabama. Their coaches' character check was this: "is he in trouble with the law?" At that moment, he was not.
Martin lasted one semester in Tuscaloosa.
Data: I have a friend who is getting her PhD in a humanities field and, as such, spends much time being the best GSI any of her students will ever come across. She is deeply conflicted about the presence and purpose of athletes in her classes and across the university in general, and has presented the following pieces of information in our discussion on the subject.
Another semester, she was teaching freshman comp and had a men's swimmer fresh from high school, who struggled badly. At one point he tearfully confessed that he was overwhelmed. Practice was hard. School was hard. Travel was hard. Everything was hard, so hard, and he couldn't just quit one or the other and what was he going to do?
Data. Football takes lots of time:
Division I-A football players reported spending an average of 44.8 hours per week on their sport. That doesn't include the hours involved in taking care of their academic responsibilities.
Any school other than Duke or Vandy or Stanford will take any player who meets NCAA minimums that, on a non-athlete application, would be laughed out of the admissions office, and Duke and Vandy and Stanford (and the Ivy leagues) all bend their admissions standards severely. The NCAA has instituted punishments for schools that do not keep their players in school and on track for a degree.
On the same day Bobby Petrino takes the Arkansas job, Jim Grobe becomes the hot name in the Michigan coaching search.
Weeks ago, Petrino's name kept popping up among college athletic directors looking for new coaches. I wrote that Petrino sniffed around the Michigan job to no avail. GM Rich McKay and Petrino both denied that he was actually pursuing open positions on the college level.
Why not Petrino? Inveterate job-hopper, guy you'd have to worry about from time to time if he's a success, which his track record at Louisville suggests he would be. Why not? Because you might have to endure the indignity of watching your coach entertain other job offers? Isn't this Michigan? Isn't this a place that should be good enough that other job offers don't matter?
And if it isn't, whose fault is that?
A blogging associate of mine found himself talking with a prominent assistant coach in the state of Florida who could not believe Greg Schiano turned the job down. "Insane" was the term used in our discussion. And, right: insane. This is the head coach of Rutgers, and even if he gets lucky and Joe Paterno retires before 2027 everything has to fall right for him if he's going to get the job. Bradley has to be passed over. He has to remain attractive enough to be the first choice. And Penn State's athletic department has to overlook strong internal candidates like JayPa.
For Schiano to turn the job down there has to be something wrong with someone. Maybe it's Schiano, but the preponderance of the evidence says otherwise.
Petrino asked about the Michigan job and could not get an interview. Brian Kelly is running around saying he can't guarantee he'll be back at Cincinnati next year but will not be considered for the job. Les Miles... well, we all know the fiasco that turned into.
I would like to believe in the magic of smokescreens, but when a phone call with Les Miles, Mary Sue Coleman, and Bill Martin that should remain secret hits WTKA, then here, then the Free Press the problem with the search is not its obscurity but its transparency. And it's transparent that Michigan is flailing, divided amongst itself, and rapidly running out of plausible options.
Brady Hoke is not a plausible option. Neither are Mike Debord, Ron English, or current future rejecter du jour Jim Grobe. But who else is there? Michigan is determined to eliminate anyone who's "off" in any way. Grobe is not off. This is Jim Grobe:
This is about perpetuating a culture. It is not about finding a good football coach. Anyone outside of that culture faces the daunting task of conforming to it instead of changing it, and that has driven off coaches even if it's "insane" not to take the job. Something is rotten in the state of Schembechler, and it will not yield the throne.
And what about Grobe, the coach? Old. No record of how well he recruits. Runs a crazy offensive system that may or may not translate to higher levels with (possibly) better talent. A huge, huge risk to anyone who has performance foremost on their mind. Obviously, this is not the case here.
Les Miles: Uh... hello?
Mary Sue Coleman: Hi, Les. It's Mary Sue Coleman. Let me patch in Bill Martin.
Bill Martin: (faintly) Hello? Hello?
BM: (faintly) Hello?
MSC: Turn the phone around, Bill.
MSC: YOU'RE SPEAKING INTO THE WRONG END OF THE PHONE.
BM: (louder) Oh.
MSC: Les, as you know, the University of Michigan is looking for a head coach. We would like any prospective candidates to have a strong understanding of the program's history, an established track record of success--
BM: -- and sailing experience --
MSC: -- as a college football head coach, and --
BM: -- any other sort of boating-type experience. Motor. Catamaran. You know. Water-type things.
MSC: and a strong rapport with his charges. Anyway, Les, you've just won the SEC, have a 36-6 record in three years at LSU, and are well loved by your program. You also lettered twice under Bo and love this program more than any other. So...
BM: ... do you know anyone that fits our criteria?
Miles: Uh... me?
BM: I didn't see any jib or mizzenmast experience on your resume.
Miles: Right. That's because I'm a football coach. I coach football.
BM: In fact, your resume made no reference to sailing whatsoever. So you're out, asshole.
MSC: I think what Bill is trying to say is that we would like to offer you--
BM: --the opportunity to tell us who might be our perfect candidate. Reminder: Michigan ties, success, sailing.
Miles: No, sorry. I don't know anyone who fits that criteria.
BM: Well screw you, buddy!
MSC: Bill... next time let me do the talking.
BM: Lloyd says Brady Hoke dresses up like Long John Silver on most Tuesdays. Let's hire him.
(Ferentz? Nein, apparently (sidebar).
Kirk Ferentz will not be the next head coach at Michigan.
Ferentz, who has been the Iowa coach since 1999, is no longer being considered by Michigan's seven-person search committee to replace Lloyd Carr , multiple sources said Wednesday.
Given that the only guys who have interviewed are Brady Hoke and the two coordinators, I'm not sure whether to be pleased by this development or not.)
Oh, there's a process? Sailboat Bill Martin:
"We established a process and I am following that process, and from my perspective it is working," Martin said Wednesday night. "It's been tougher than I thought, but it's not that the process is flawed. It's the degree of commentary and spin. Some of the stuff that people are saying is just totally off the wall. But the plan is working fine."
Well, thank God for that. Thank God there's a process. I mean, sure, it's a completely insane process that managed to not have a credible list of candidates ready to go as soon as Carr retired despite Michigan having four months to prepare one, but whatever. As long as there is a delineated list of steps that's followed strictly, I'm good.
This entire fiasco hinges on the fact Michigan did not know whether it wanted to offer Les Miles the job or not. Because Martin didn't know he should call Miles agent and say "yes, the past four months of research have proven to us that you should be Michigan's next coach," he is not Michigan's next coach. There is no excuse for not being ready.
"There's a campaign out there," he said. "But there are times you've got to stand tall and follow your process, and that's what I'm doing."
"There's no question you can continue doing your work whether you're in Florida or New York City or Ann Arbor," he said. "But I was not going to call back Les' agent until after that game. Trust me, I can understand why people can see it the way they're seeing it. But my job is to bring the best candidate to Michigan."
I am not going to throw this vase sitting next to me. The flowers in it are dead and the water is gross and the cleanup would dwarf the pleasure of watching it shatter against the wall. The first highlighted sentence and the second highlighted sentence are diametrically opposed to each other. Martin has no idea who the "best candidate" is for the Michigan job despite having all the time in the world to come up with an answer to that, and he failed utterly. Not calling Les' agent when LSU's AD specifically offered that avenue of contact and Miles was frantically attempting to figure out what was going on is ludicrous.
For one, it's completely disrespectful to a guy who's made his love for Michigan known time and again. For two, it relies on some sort of Queensbury rules: "Dear LSU, I will be talking to your coach after the game. I plan to offer him sixteen quid a week, which is a considerable sum! West End brothels won't know what hit them! Thanks, good chaps, I trust you won't interfere. -- Sailboat Bill."
For Martin to simultaneously go "well, I never!" when LSU made their dastardly offer before the agreed-upon speaking-time and claim he's being "very aggressive" is ridiculous. It's ludicrously ridiculous and many other words that end in "ous" and generally indicate something improbable.
There is a process. There was also a process that resulted in -- don't Godwin yourself, and don't reference "Gigli" -- Hitler making "Gigli".
The point: processes are neither good nor bad, and sticking to your process when said process ends up with you not knowing whether or not to offer a coach in the national championship game the job just means you're doubly stupid. No plan survives contact with the enemy.
ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU TELL THEM YOUR PLAN.