he grew a beard
Running a route. That is the takeaway from the Outback Bowl practice video: a ball thrown downfield to Denard Robinson, who is playing wide receiver.
Hopefully that did not six takes to get right.
Also they took the uniform mannequin to the Outback Steakhouse on Ann Arbor-Saline, because he was getting sick of staring out the window of Schembechler Hall. Good to see him get some air.
The matte finish is a first for the U-M headgear. Back in the 70s and 80s there was no gloss finish on the Michigan helmets. Much like their coach, there was no flashiness to them – they were maize and blue and that was that. You’d be surprised at how basic and crude those old helmets look compared to the newer ones of today. From 1977:
If you wanted the old ones to look shiny, you would have to rub some car wax on them!
The yellows on the new jersey definitely do not match the helmet, which is a very Sparty thing to do.
Tom From AA rounded up reactions on Facebook and found that most people bothering to insert a comment are opposed:
I went through and tallied 665 of the comments. That's not all of them, but after a while the percentages stayed the same, so I'm saying this is a SCIENTIFICALLY SOUND representation of the FB page's population. It took far too long to go through 650+ so I decided not to keep going through the now 3000 comments. Like I said, the percentages started holding pretty strong around n=300, so should be representative. I ignored trolls and unrelated posts.
Like 102 15.3% Dislike 378 56.8% Helmets: Yes! Uniforms: No! 154 23.1% Meh 13 1.9% Helmets: No! Uniforms: Yes! 18 2.7%
I had other categories as well, such as "Sarcasm" and "slappy." The former of which generally disliked the jerseys, the later of which said "anything Blue wears is good" so I did not include them in the "Like" category.
People in favor seem—how to put this gently—brain damaged.
Representative "Like" Comment
SWAGG! Matt finish to the helmets!! And the jersey is to fly!
You have brain damage and/or are 14, sir. Some responders in the comments here note that incensed people are much more likely to leave a comment than people mildly in favor, and that's true. Whenever a Picture Pages post has 100 comments around here, 80% of them will be complaints. So take it with a grain of salt. Except don't because if you do like the jerseys your brain is probably melting as we speak.
Hmm. Not that it's a surprise, but Taylor Lewan doesn't sound like a guy who's planning on a return:
Even though the Wolverines face replacing a good portion of the offensive line next season, Lewan said he's confident things will work out.
"I don't think Michigan will have a big problem with the offensive line next year," he said.
Maybe that's reading between the lines too finely. No one thinks he'll be back, though.
In other NFL news, Illinois's Akeem Spence declares. Michigan wasn't going to play them next year anyway.
It's gotta go somewhere. The coffers overflow, and the latest beneficiaries:
Clemson’s assistants — at a combined total of more than $4.2 million, including outside income — are the highest-paid group among the 102 public schools for which USA TODAY Sports could obtain 2012 pay information for at least eight of the nine assistants generally allowed by NCAA rules. There are 124 FBS schools.
LSU’s assistants also are collecting more than $4 million. Seven other schools have assistants totaling more than $3 million in compensation: Texas, Alabama, Auburn, Ohio State, Oregon, Florida State and Oklahoma State.
Last year, six schools had $3 million assistant-coaching staffs. In 2009, there was one: Tennessee’s, at $3.3 million.
I'm surprised Michigan isn't on that list with both coordinators now pushing into the upper six figures.
The pictured coaches are Chad Morris, Clemson's $1.3 million offensive coordinator and… I'm not sure but some guy at USC. This is a very silly graphic.
[HT: Get The Picture.]
A good hire? After some confusion it does appear that Wisconsin's new coach is Gary Andersen, lately of Utah State. Andersen doesn't have massively more experience than the latest fliers the conference has taken on MAC coaches, but in four years he turned Utah State from a national doormat into an 11-2 outfit that lost its two games to Wisconsin by two and BYU by three. They took out a BCS team in Utah and annihilated Toledo for a bowl win. The last two years of Idaho Potato bowls were the first winning seasons in the I-A history of the program. That's a pretty solid resume.
The reaction of his players on twitter is also a good sign—various takes on "The only man I want to play for." You never know, but it seems like this has a decent chance of working out as long as the offensive transition isn't too harsh. Utah State is a spread 'n' shred type outfit.
Despite that, tentative thumbs up for a Big Ten hire. Strange days.
Last night in Big Ten hoops sponsored by Barbasol. Close shaves abounded. Both Michigan State and Ohio State were dead even with BGSU and Winthrop for about 30 minutes before pulling away late, and Nebraska managed to turn a 15 point lead against Jacksonville State with seven minutes left into a tight contest. Close shave, (terrible parts of) America (and Nebraska)!
Here's an MSU fan freakout from the first 30 minutes of last night's game against BGSU. I don't think it should impact how you interpret MSU in the league, unfortunately. By the end, Kenpom was eerily close on the score (it was a road game). It feels better to leap out to that ten point lead early and play most of the game comfortably ahead, but all the possessions are worth the same.
Transition efficiency. Dylan gets some stats from Synergy sports and notes a massive improvement in Michigan's transition offense:
According to statistics from Synergy Sports, Michigan is scoring 1.31 points per transition possession – a dramatic improvement from the 1.09 points per possession that the Wolverines netted on transition possessions last season. That number ranks in the 96th percentile nationally and compares favorably to the rest of the conference.
Team % of Poss. in Transition Points Per Transition Poss. Minnesota 15.3% 1.35 Michigan 17.2% 1.31 Ohio State 18.2% 1.30 Indiana 20.4% 1.19 Wisconsin 7.0% 1.16 Purdue 11.3% 1.15 Illinois 13.0% 1.01 Michigan State 20.2% 0.98 Iowa 16.6% 0.96 Penn State 13.1% 0.94 Nebraska 8.1% 0.94 Northwestern 8.8% 0.82
Source: Synergy Sports
Good things happen when Michigan pushes the ball in transition. Obviously there are more easy opportunities in transition (the Wolverines average .96 PPP in half court sets – a very good figure in its own right) but the Wolverines have maximized their transition effectiveness.
Northwestern's transition offense is much worse than their half-court sets, which is kind of amazing. Meanwhile, Michigan's boost this year does not appear to be about schedule strength—most teams haven't played a schedule as good as Michigan's.
Dylan credits Burke and that's obviously a big part of it. Another is the fact that if you lose Stauskas in transition he will put a three on your face. In your face. Speaking of, I found this:
And now I wonder why it took so long to happen.
Etc.: Missouri safety gets the boot for having a small amount of pot, but really I just want to note that his name is "Ka'ra," which sounds like an ancient Egyptian god from a Saturday morning cartoon. Horford's painful looking injury is a dislocated kneecap, which is a very good thing since he should be able to return in a few weeks. Derrick Walton is doing good things. Quinton Washington profiled by his hometown newspaper.
Several months ago Brian left a few whacky meatball surgeons in charge of the B.L.O.G. 4077th unit while he did the wedding/honeymoon thing. In need of good filler we duly turned over content control to the enlisted, then didn't use any of their ideas. Then TrapperVH and Major Tim Burns left the show and we forgot 'em, but this query from a non emu:
… When Hoke was hired, Brandon alluded to some research that he had done on correlation between the background of a new head coach and his winning percentage. He basically said that coaches who had previously coached in the conference, played, or recruited in the catchment area of a B10 school was much more likely to be successful than a complete outsider, and this was one of the reasons that made Hoke a more compelling candidate. …
…resulted in an excel spreadsheet (Google doc) that I've been tinkering with ever since.
We may call this the Gary Moeller effect since he is the epitome of a guy with longstanding Big Ten experience before he took his marquee Big Ten head coaching job. Mo started working for Bo at Miami (NTM) and after '69 the only years he wasn't coordinating something for Michigan were three spent as the head coach of Illinois. But he's also the antithesis for the Illini years, when Moeller went 3-18-3 in the Big Ten, way worse than before him.
At Michigan, Moeller became the most successful Big Ten coach in the last 40 years (ties counted for 0.5 each, records through 2010):
|Rk||Coach||School||Yrs||B10 Wins||B10 Losses||B10 W%|
(Penn State is excised because when JoePa took over every team was in the Pangaea Conference. Bo Pelini too, for the same reason: not with the conference when they became HC).
Defining success isn't that straightforward. John Cooper* and Earl Bruce won a lot of Big Ten games at OSU but both were -9.5% in conf. winning % versus the 10 years preceding them while Hayden Fry (+32%), Joe Tiller (+25%), and Gary Barnett (+21%) dramatically improved moribund programs. When I compared every coach over the last 40 years to the 10 years before he arrived, I got this for best and worst:**
|Coach||School||Yrs||B10 W%||10 Years before him||Change|
But then the W% method is really unfair to coaches who took over great teams. Lloyd Carr is a hall of fame coach who won around 78% of his Big Ten games over 13 years in a tough conference environment, but versus '85 to '94 he's –2.36%, good for about average. John Pont made the Top 10 for getting Indiana from 18% to 37%. Pont later reappears just outside the loser's bracket for taking over a 40% Northwestern team and winning just 25% of his conf. games. Using both metrics however can give us a list of dudes worth discussing from the last 20 years:
(after the jump):
Both Adam Rittenberg of ESPN via Chris Mortensen and perpetual bearer of hate news Michael Rosenberg are reporting that if Harbaugh does not take an NFL job he will not leave Stanford:
Brandon's seemingly obvious move with Michigan football -- to fire coach Rich Rodriguez and hire Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh -- appears to be off the board. Colleague Chris Mortensen reports that Harbaugh is more likely to remain at Stanford or take an NFL job than return to his alma mater.
Because of course he is. Rosenberg is even more direct:
Jim Harbaugh is highly unlikely to accept the Michigan football coaching job if it becomes available, a person with direct knowledge of Harbaugh's thinking told the Free Press.
Harbaugh plans to decide this week whether he wants to take a job in the NFL. If he stays in college coaching, he has decided he will stay at Stanford, where he has built a potential powerhouse. It would take an extreme change of heart for Harbaugh to end up in Ann Arbor, according to the person, who did not want to be identified because Rich Rodriguez is still U-M's coach.
Hopefully that's as accurate as the rest of his reporting about the Michigan program but with a second confirming source it looks grim. Somehow Michigan has managed to screw this up, too. If the athletic department had a two-inch putt lined up they would whack it into a communications satellite. Seriously, what the hell, Harbaugh?
I'm not sure what value all this has since none of it is anything more than fourth-hand whispers that happen to end up on a verified twitter account or—ugh—random sports talk radio, but the thing to do at the moment appears to be "collect and relate various Harbaugh related items," so here are various Harbaugh-related items.
We have the wobbly Schefter report and the all but certainly worthless Big Lead post already mentioned. Also:
Positive: NFL Network reporter (and OSU alum who irritatingly uses "the") Albert Breer has a couple tweets indicating the supposed Ballke hire would be bad for the 49ers in their pursuit of Harbaugh:
Hearing front-office structure/GM is vital to landing Jim Harbaugh for NFL teams. And that could put Baalke's candidacy in peril with 49ers. Basically, if the Niners really want Harbaugh, might have to pass on Baalke. We'll see. Either way, who the GM is, is very important to JH.
All that said, Michigan's still a very viable option for Harbaugh. I don't think there are many NFL jobs better than that one.
Negative: Schefter tweets…
Worth noting: Jim Harbaugh does not have blind loyalty to Michigan. He still remembers being bypassed for Mich QB coaching job in 2002.
…wait, what? Because Lloyd Carr didn't hire Harbaugh in 2002 he wouldn't be the head coach, thereby getting the ultimate-I'm-nailing-your-ex revenge on Carr? There was a different AD, different coaching staff, and now the current guy is a former teammate of his who escorted Carr out the door earlier this year. If Brandon asks, the fact that someone else didn't want him to be QB coach doesn't seem like it would play a factor.
Schefter also expanded on that NFL feeling from the twitters on the four letter, and it was transcribed by the News:
"Now, there is a real feeling around the league he would prefer be in the NFL, but it will have to be a situation and an organization that is aligned in a way Jim Harbaugh wants it to be, and if that's the case then maybe he makes the jump to go to San Francisco, but Michigan is clearly interested and is making his decision difficult."
Schefter believes Harbaugh's decision could come as early as the middle of the week. Stanford is scheduled to return to Palo Alto, Calif., by 8 p.m. Detroit time on Tuesday.
"I would say sometime 24 hours after that we should be able to get a decision on whether Jim Harbaugh will be leaving Stanford to go to the NFL or whether Jim Harbaugh will be going to Michigan," Schefter said. "All along, we've said Michigan is in play and it would be up to an NFL team to convince him not to go to Ann Arbor and make it worth his while to prevent him from going to the college ranks, and that's exactly what's going to happen.
"If there's an NFL team out there, a la, the 49ers that can come with a compelling enough offer and make it worth his while, then he's going to the NFL."
Kirk Herbstreit said the opposite as the college and NFL guys displayed their biases. A "feeling around the league" is about as worthwhile as a feeling from Ann Arbor, because NFL guys can't think of anything else they'd rather do up to and including see their children.
Positive: On 97.1 this afternoon, Doug Karsch asserted that "two very connected sources" within the athletic department said that if offered the job, Harbaugh would come and that if he doesn't it's because Michigan didn't offer the job, something no one believes will happen. This is the Ann Arbor version of "feeling around the league."
1/1/2010 – Michigan 14, Mississippi State 52 – 7-6, 3-5 Big Ten
Amongst the many many things posted over the weekend that could have been posted at any time in the last three years was one odd bit of history that's apropos: a letter drafted for Nixon to read in the event that Neal Armstrong and company were to die on the moon because the lander wouldn't leave.
Men in charge of things make difficult decisions and live with the consequences of their actions even if they result in reading the thing William Safire wrote for you about two men watching at their oxygen gauges count down in an airless wasteland.
Back in the summer of 2008, when we were a happy-go-lucky band of mountain yodelers with flowers in our pockets and caviar dreams, I finished up that year's preview with that picture of Don Canham staring down a thicket of microphones as Bump Elliott searched for a sandwich and Bo exuded his Bo-like confidence. I've referred to it ever since, and here it is again:
Lives were not literally at stake above, but even so it's hard to imagine Nixon adopting an expression that more perfectly sums up the feeling of someone who's made a big decision and now has to watch someone else execute. At the end of that post this is what I said:
We are all Don Canham now. Rich Rodriguez comes in with a wildly successful pedigree but promises to finally tear down the culture of Bo’s program, to replace it with something uncertain. This has caused apprehension in some, joy in others, and disdain verging on hatred in a select group.
The program risks changing into something people drift away from because it has drifted from them, or, worse, something that you only wish you could drift away from. It also promises fireworks and fun and victory and a feeling that’s something other than that thing we’ve felt so much before. Other fanbases go through this every five or ten or fifteen years; for us it’s been 40.
I could welcome it, I guess, or celebrate it, or proclaim inevitable dominion over the land. But I don’t feel like it. Nor do I feel like fretting over imaginary scandals future. Like Canham, I just hope it works.
I don't think it has. A game somewhere around expectations would not have moved the needle enough for slight support for Rich Rodriguez to morph into a call for firing, but I turned the game off before the third quarter was over and when I felt remorse and turned it back on a few minutes later Mississippi State had put up another touchdown. It was not around expectations, except in the ways that it was by not being around expectations in a depressing direction. Before the season I thought 7-5 would do it but now at 7-6 with every loss a blowout and three of the wins last-drive nailbiters, Michigan's progress seems minimal at best. But for the opening week, this is the worst seven-win season imaginable.
If I'm slotting Rich Rodriguez into the picture above he's on the right, and it's time to look for the guy on the left again.
On the likelihood of a change. Still nothing definitive but everything that enters the inbox adds to the circumstantial pile of evidence suggesting we're done. If Harbaugh escapes Michigan's clutches Michigan is in a bad spot because of the "process" and how much time it's left them in the event they do not immediately transition to a new coach, but having no serious options other than Rodriguez is probably the only scenario in which we don't see a change.
As to when, Tom says he's hearing there's a team meeting tomorrow at 7 PM that was scheduled before the bowl game. If that's now be a wake we'll hear about it soon after. There are unconfirmed third hand reports about coaches saying goodbye, which could mean anything from the obvious canning of Greg Robinson to a wholesale broom.
Also, while some players have been publicly supportive, a lot of parents have jumped ship and have met with Brandon expressing frustration at goings-on on the defense. Some players may have been "lost" by the bowl debacle as well.
On recent Harbaugh panic. The Big Lead probably doesn't know shit and even if he turns out right he got lucky because he's just randomly saying things people email him without even a cursory check. However, Adam Schefter is serious business and this is foreboding:
Schefter on ESPN: "Now, there is a real feeling around the league (Harbaugh) would prefer be in the NFL."
On the other hand, "a real feeling" is far from definitive and Schefter was just reporting that Harbaugh was leaning towards Michigan with the same strength—coaching change stuff is "fluid," and by fluid people mean "batshit."
On Brady Hoke. "Not an option."
On Plan B. The Plan B name in the event Harbaugh escapes is probably Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald actually makes quite a bit of sense as a young guy with a spotless media profile who runs a spread offense Denard would feel at home in. He hasn't put together a monster team or anything but recovered from a shaky start in the aftermath of Randy Walker's death to go 9-4, 8-5, and 7-6. Not exactly Harbaugh and another guy who'd be leaving his alma mater for greener pastures, but Michigan is not in a great spot right now.
Let's make a deal.
Saturday Michigan takes on Mississippi State in the Gator Bowl and Sunday something may or may not happen involving the throttling of an infant Denard Robinson in his cradle and the tears and lamentation that may or may not result. That would hypothetically also mean the reign of terror Greg Robinson's hair and the zombie minion that goes by the name of Greg Robinson would be over. The city of Ann Arbor emerging from its cocoon of upper middle class ennui to shoot AK47s in the air would at least partially offset the tragic, still hypothetical loss of baby Denard. I have taken too long on this bit.
Two days later Jim Harbaugh and his Stanford Cardinal take on Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl. After he may or may not be destined for Michigan or the 49ers or the moon. The latest from Harbaugh is reminiscent of one Brian Kelly last year:
"I only talk about the job I have now," Harbaugh said when asked if he or his representatives had spoken to the 49ers about their coaching vacancy.
He acknowledged having a "dual focus"—
--on his team, which will play Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl on Monday, and on his daughter, Katherine, who was born just before Christmas.
Aw, come on, Harbaugh.
So what's going to happen? I still don't know. No one does. Last time on this show I said I didn't have anything solid and probably wouldn't because of the nature of the "search" but that the mystical aura wasn't looking so hot:
I'm not inclined to put much in the widespread chatter that had RR out the door after the OSU game and seems to be continuing since its sourcing seems to be pissed-off-you-guys folk clearly unhappy with the state of the program taking small interactions and interpreting them as they desire. However, the vibe I'm getting from other people who seem to be on the fence about what to do—or at least close to it—also makes it seem unlikely Rodriguez is back. Emphasis on all the qualifying words in the previous sentence, please. I've got nothing solid because no one does.
I also said that Brady Hoke would be named Michigan's coach over my dead body and the last semblance of sanity in the universe but that wasn't based on inside information. It was more a "has everybody gone CRAZY!?!" moment, and if the threat of Hoke didn't linger in the air I'd apologize for it. As it is I'm on the battlements with an axe* waiting to behead anyone who pops up and says "my name is Buh—." Bill Parcells is duly warned.
With less that a week left before the month of limbo is over, I haven't received anything that pushes my opinion much one way or the other. To reiterate, that's:
- There is a nonzero chance Rodriguez is fired, otherwise there would have been an announcement.
- Schools do not start coaching searches on January 2nd.
- There's only one guy out there that could plausibly be socked away or all but in time for Michigan to have a reasonable finish in recruiting and could justify yet more chaos in a program that is pointed in the right direction, even if vaguely.
So it's Rodriguez or Harbaugh and we'll probably know the day after the Orange Bowl. With all due respect to people who would argue otherwise, it makes no sense to fire Rodriguez in January if you do not have a coach lined up immediately. Since the list of people other than Harbaugh who Michigan could install within a week reads "Buh—[blood theatrically spraying from neck]" your alternatives are between rushing someone through without pause for consideration—which worked out so well last time—or dragging the search almost up to Signing Day, leaving your recruiting class a smoking crater and possibly dooming the next guy, who will forever be Not Jim Harbaugh, to repeat the cycle.
I have heard some things that push me more towards Harbaugh:
- Some connected guys at Cal email that Tedford is aiming to poach Harbaugh's OL coach since he has "agreed to go elsewhere already" as of the 17th of December. Caveat: the Cal rumor mill bears no animus towards Rodriguez but would love to see Harbaugh anywhere but Stanford, so as things get passed down the chain they get more certain.
- A player who split his career between RR/Carr years tells an emailer that Harbaugh will be installed on the fifth. Caveat: why the hell would some former player know?
- An emailer who reports things second hand but has been reliable in the past suggests that Mary Sue Coleman isn't a big fan of Rodriguez, which isn't much of anything to go on but just adds to the pile.
- Media people I talk to generally say the best thing is probably to give him one more year but that they don't expect he'll get it. Also not much of anything but vibe.
The only thing pointing the other way is the generally sunny disposition coming from within Schembechler Hall, but with recruits the coaches are saying they've got no idea what's going on but if they're still around after the bowl they'll still be around forever, or something to that effect. That's a hard sale right there.
If I was 55-45 Harbaugh a month ago I'm 65-35 Harbaugh now. I wish I could be more certain and wouldn't make the decision I think is likely if I was king of the world, but that's life. We'll know soon enough.
AWFUL BONUS: If there is a change you can go start the Denard transfer watch at DEFCON 2, since Robinson knows what he is—the Big Ten offensive player of the year as a sophomore at quarterback—and where he fits. How screwed up is a program that manages to get both Ryan Mallett and Denard Robinson to transfer away from certain starting QB jobs in the course of three years?
This hasn't happened yet. Breathe. I am talking to myself mostly.
*(To avoid a Tucker Carlson moment let me clarify: I am not going to cut Brady Hoke or anyone's head off with an axe.)