it's a major award
10/25/2014 – Michigan 11, Michigan State 35 – 3-5, 1-3 Big Ten
Mark Dantonio is a crazy mofo. This is his great power: he can be offended at anything, forever. Mark Dantonio free-solos Mount Outrage every year. Michigan tried their damndest to not give him anything he could latch onto this time around, repeating the same praise over and over again until even the perpetually bored media noticed that this week's pablum was even more insipid than the usual business.
Then they put a thing in a field.
Fueling Dantonio's never-ending rage at the concept of Michigan is unwise but probably irrelevant. If hate moved spaceships Dantonio would be scowling at little green men circling Alpha Centauri instead of East Lansing. Dantonio is still pissed off at something Mike Hart said seven years ago; a dumb stunt with a railroad spike is a power mushroom when you're already big and skrong.
On the other hand, apologizing after is a pretty good summation of where both programs are. Michigan got the pounding everyone expected and then said "sorry for spoiling for field sir" as they slinked back home. Scott Farkus threw a snowball in our face and we apologized to him for being in the way.
Putting a thing in a field and then woofing about it isn't poor sportsmanship. We should know what poor sportsmanship is: punchin' people. Trying to hurt people. This series has seen plenty of that of late, on both sides. No one apologized after.
Apparently the standard for self-abasement has plummeted, though. So we get another statement. The latest in a never-ending series of PR gaffes. The chance anyone brings the spike thing up after the first round of LOL Michigan articles is zero, unless Michigan brings it up again. They of course do because Michigan refuses to learn Don Canham's first maxim—don't make a one-day story into a two-day story.
Thus more public emasculation for Brady Hoke. Dave Brandon seems to be deliberately trying to make his football coach look like the nation's most clueless goober. By the Maryland game he'll be wearing a beanie and a KICK ME sign. The crowning glory will be an Ohio Stadium weeping piteously at his imminent departure; Hoke will be dressed in nothing but a barrel and suspenders. The press conference afterwards will take place over a dunk tank.
I dunno man, I know this is some feelingsball right here but I can't help but think this is a big part of the problem. Hoke's response to the bullies asking him why he keeps hitting himself is "it's all in the statement." The team responds like their head coach. The man refuses to defend himself, either from his incompetent athletic director or his rivals laughing at him. The team gets plowed by the hint of adversity. Fight is almost totally absent.
When someone gets mad at your spike stunt, the correct answer is F--- YO COUCH. That is Dantonio's answer to everything. Would you like some baklava, Mark? F--- YO COUCH.
Michigan likes to talk about being a Big Boy. Before last year's Ohio State game Brandon said Michigan is "going back to hard-nosed, big-boy football." Whenever a journalist asks Hoke about the internet hordes clamoring for his head he says "it's a big-boy business."
You know who doesn't talk about being a big boy? Big boys*. People who talk about being a Big Boy wear short pants and ask their moms for a quarter so they can buy candy. Big boys don't look at yet another plate of crap and eat it with a sigh of disgust. At some point, big boys stand up for their dignity.
I don't see anything like that. I see the same mealy-mouthed coachspeak week after week, the same covering for his inept boss. Of course Dave Brandon's watching film with him.
Maybe that makes him a "great guy," as per the last possible defense of Hoke. I don't see it. He may be a nice guy; "great" at least requires you to have as much backbone as Ralphie in A Christmas Story.
*[Except Big Boi, who is contractually obligated to say his name several times per minute as per the Rappist Identification Act Of 1985.]
[After THE JUMP: not much, honestly.]
How did I miss this? Maize and Blue Nation has a shot of team goals taken from within the locker room onto which he's photoshopped success or failure thus far. As you might imagine, there's a lot of failure. I'm more put off by one of the criteria:
Time of possession? In 2014? Ugh. Slowness as a virtue.
Sounds familiar. We're going to have to be really nice to Orson for his fundraiser this year because the man followed up Michigan-Penn State by actually attending the Mizzou-Florida game. In person and everything. In the flesh. To watch his team lose 42-13 to a team that gained fewer than 120 yards of offense. The resulting hot take:
4. This was expected, and almost comforting. It's a custom, slow-drip/ slow-pour kind of disaster. At one point in every fan's life there is a team coached by a person who trademarks a specific variation of loss, and then serves it until the Health Department closes it forever for numerous violations of common standards. For Florida, Will Muschamp is the hardworking barista at the local coffee shop who takes your order, brews your coffee without putting the water through any caffeine of any sort, and then pours it into your cup insisting its coffee. When you point it out, he shakes his head, grimaces, and mutters: "We'll get that sorted out. We're trying, and we'll get that fixed." Then he brews and pours another cup of hot water for you wonder why you keep coming to this stupid fucking coffee shop every time.
Brady Hoke sends you none pizza left beef no matter what you order, and when you call to complain he says it's really all about the kids who are making 8.15, no thanks to you.
Fantastic. Devin Gardner's profiled by Angelique Chengelis and what could make everything worse than it already is?
"I've been called the N-word so many times this year," Gardner said. "One guy told me I was the N-word, and said I know N-words can't play quarterback. And I was like, are we not past this? Say what you want about my skill, but come on."
I'm not surprised, but I'm still surprised. If Dave Brandon wants to fire off "find another team" emails to these gentlemen we are all behind that. I can only hope this is the usual 14-year-old-on-mom's-computer thing and not, like, actual adults, but I am almost certain I heard Dennis Norfleet described thusly by the Cumong Man guys at the 2012 Northwestern game so they're out there, being repulsive.
When Gardner's graduated (again) I hope we all buy him sandwiches and apologize on everyone else's behalf. I want Gardner to have to start his own charity to distribute the sandwiches he cannot eat, and then become such a sandwich expert he gets an honorary PhD in Meat Betwixt Bread. It's the least we can do.
Also in that article. I mean, even beyond the people who get shot into the sun it hasn't been a nice ride:
"It's hard to play effectively when you're continuously getting hit," Gardner said. "But that's the situation we're in. And my guys are trying as hard as they can, so I can't ask for anything else. I've just got to find a way, which I'm trying to do each week, so the stats aren't going to be there sometimes. It's just finding ways to win, that's it."
That's life at the moment, though pass protection has actually been pretty good the last few weeks. Maybe they can protect long enough to get some guys open downfield? Or covered downfield? I'm just asking for some downfield.
Case in point. Big plays: we do not have them.
The standout individual effort by Funchess gave the Wolverines their longest completion of the year and the longest play of any kind since a season-opening drubbing of Appalachian State
We seem to have swung too far the other way from Borges here.
And the guy we're not really trying to throw bombs to is… moving up on the SI draft board to 13th. Very frustrating.
THANK YOU BIG DADDY MAY I HAVE ANOTHER.
The block ‘M’ on Michigan’s campus has been painted green. pic.twitter.com/lGFvnXeVbv
— Alejandro Zúñiga (@ByAZuniga) October 22, 2014
The race to be SI's most embarrassing employee narrows. The results have come back in the Oklahoma State investigation spurred by the eighty-part investigative piece by Thayer Evans and they are…
The NCAA and Oklahoma State announced Tuesday that allegations of widespread misconduct in the football program outlined in a Sports Illustrated expose last year were "fundamentally unfounded.''
…as per usual when a university maniacally checks for ticks, Oklahoma State turned up a few Level II violations. (The NCAA revamped its punishment structure into a four-tier thing a couple years back; levels I and II would have been the "major" violation level, although as Michigan learned your major violations can be not particularly major.) The projected punishment for Thayer's lurid descriptions of cash, grade-fixing and ladyfun distributed willy-nilly: a couple scholarships over a couple years.
The three violations named in the notice of allegations include a failure to follow institutional policy concerning player punishments for positive drug tests; the organization of the "Orange Pride" support program through the football program rather than the university, meaning all campus hosting duties performed for prospective football recruits ran "contrary to NCAA legislation"; and a failure to monitor charge related to the first two violations.
Details on the drug policy:
Finding: On four occasions, the applicable penalty for failed drug tests was not applied, but TCG concluded athletic ability was not the reason.
The NCAA's notice of allegations says the school failed to follow policies regarding athlete drug use. It said five athletes from January 2008 and October 2012 tested positive for banned substances and were allowed to play without the required corrective or disciplinary action. In one case, the notice says an athlete was not dismissed after a fourth failed test and allowed the athlete to compete during the first half of the season. This would be an infraction.
That doesn't move my "you can't hire THAT guy" needle since I've heard tell of schools closer to home doing similar things, and nothing else in the lurid story Evans published was substantiated. Evans went full Rosenberg here.
If you're wondering about Mike Gundy's viability: if he's leavin' he's viable.
So with that in mind. Evans combines with similarly dubious Pete Thamel—he of the dead Manti Te'o girlfriend story—to project what might happen at Michigan and Florida. While they get off a depressingly accurate zinger by describing the handling of the Shane Morris concussion as "straight out of the Julie Hermann p.r. playbook" they burn everything to the ground by swinging wildly at coaching candidates like
GREG SCHIANO, who is hated by the entire NFL and couldn't get a job last year; in his two years in Tampa he managed to make Tom Coughlin a hero for chewing him out after he instructed his players to go after the opposition QB as he kneeled to see the game out.
JERRY KILL, who would be coming off one good(?) season in the watered-down Big Ten in which he lost 30-7 to TCU and beat Purdue by a point. Plus the whole seizure thing makes him a risk.
BRET BIELEMA… which… no. Jeff Long has reportedly done a fantastic job of reining in Bielema's fratty tendencies, but this one fails on legit cultural grounds.
They also say Mississippi State has nicer facilities than Michigan, to which I say YES, they may be more stable and YES their athletic department is not run like a crappy Domino's franchise but dammit we have shiny buildings that will go toe to toe with anyone's.
It's coming down for the CHL, too. Actual law talkin' guy Chris Heisenberg writes on the recently-filed lawsuit against the CHL that seeks minimum wage for players. They currently receive 50 dollars a week plus the vague promise of a scholarship down the road that evaporates if you play pro hockey for any appreciable length of time (including the AHL and below); makes you wonder why anyone would pick the CHL over the NCAA… oh right large under the table payments to top players.
Heisenberg forsees the CHL losing this battle as they are no longer even vaguely credible as non-profit-ish enterprises. CHL franchises are now worth millions. If that in fact happens the trickle-down effects are going to be considerable, and hard to project. Some of them:
- There won't be any more crocodile tears from the CHL about how the big bad NCAA makes their players ineligible despite being amateurs.
- Mid-tier players with options in both leagues might be more inclined to go junior. Hard to see this being a large effect since a lot of these guys are overagers in the NCAA and that group doesn't have a lot of overlap with 16-year old CHL draftees.
- Top players might be more inclined to go NCAA. The Big Ten has implemented a bunch of scholarship improvements and if the CHL has to play everyone down to the fourth line that would drain resources currently used to woo big stars.
- US CHL teams might be under threat. Nobody cares about the Plymouth Whalers and they are probably relocating to Canada; increased expenses for dubiously profitable enterprises may force the CHL's US outposts relocate to various Canadian suburbs.
SALT. Any present cracks against Michigan State are inappropriate, so let's take the long view from a salty Henry Phillip Tappan:
“It is better to have one great institution than half a dozen abortions,” proclaimed U-M’s first president. “One institution must be located somewhere because we cannot locate everywhere; let us not split it into little pieces which shall have no strength and value anywhere.”
I think I saw that guy yelling that Christian Hackenberg was a bum a couple weeks ago.
Jake Ryan, Jack Miller, Devin Gardner
Devin, as an in-state guy and your last shot at these guys, how much does this one mean to you?
DG: “It means a lot to me, but it means a lot to me every year so I’m just excited to get to the game.”
For Devin again, last year it was safe to say you got beat up pretty badly in the MSU game. Is there a mental hurdle that you have to clear yourself to get yourself prepared for this one?
For Jake: they have a pretty decent running game right now. Good wide receivers. How much have you and the defense talked about limiting the big plays [and] not allowing Langford to do what he does?
JR: “Yeah, that’s what our defense needs to do. Stopping the run’s been huge for us this year and we’ve got to keep on doing it. Lippett’s been a good receiver and we’ve got to shut him down.”
Devin, we were talking to coach Nussmeier and he said that he felt you made the biggest strides in understanding defenses this year. Talk about how that’s come about and the benefit of that for you.
DG: “I think it’s been really big for me, just being able to see what I need to see out there and it helps when you know where you want to go with the ball. You have to have an idea where you want to go with the ball, and he brought a lot of different coverages that we didn’t really know about and we didn’t really understand how they were played but we feel like we’re doing a good job of understanding now.”
Has that helped you a lot with pre-snap reads?
DG: “Yeah, definitely.”
[More after THE JUMP]
What’s it like seeing this rivalry from the other side? Obviously you’ve coached at Michigan State. What’s the view when you had never been a part of it before [at Michigan]?
“Well, it’s one of the classic rivalries in all of college football and I’m very excited to get the opportunity to be a part of it and I know our kids are very, very excited about the opportunity.”
When you were at Michigan State what was it like?
“Any time you play in a game, whether it be an in-state rivalry game or a conference rivalry game and some of them are out-of-conference rivalry games, the important thing is the focus on the game itself and you can get caught up and lost in the things that surround the game. Any time you’re on either side it’s about the players preparing. It’s about preparing them the best you possibly can and giving them the opportunity to be in the right situations to play well.”
Any of those games stick out to you from when you were there?
“I think any time you’re a part of these games they all stick out to you. Obviously probably the one that was played right here [Ed.- he’s referring to Braylonfest] was one that goes down as a great, great football game. Really was.”
They obviously play pretty good defense. Without giving away what you want to do, what are the key things that they do that you have to combat?
“Well, I think when you look at them they’re an outstanding defensive football team. They do a really good job of stopping the run and they get guys and they commit to the box and they do a really good job of tackling. They tackle well. You don’t see a lot of missed tackles. And then when you do have a play you see their ability to make an adjustment and take that play away, so I think that the biggest thing about the game is we have to understand the plan very well. We have to understand how they’re going to line up in the different blitzes and things that they’re going to try and approach us with, and then we have to execute.”
In the past Michigan has had a problem with Michigan State bringing linebackers through the A gap. I wonder if there’s a standard way of dealing with that or is that a pre-snap read the quarterback has to make or-
“Well, when you look at their base defense that’s one of their base blitzes that they run against everybody that they play against. One of the things it does [is] it creates obviously pressure on the interior of your line and pressure within the quarterback’s line of vision. A lot of people that run that- I don’t know their exact philosophy but it’s to create problems and pressure in the quarterback’s lap so he doesn’t feel like he has a real pocket to step up into so obviously it’s a blitz that’s part of their base package and something that we’ll prepare for.”
[After THE JUMP: Why were the MSU coaches covered in glass after the ‘04 game and some strategy talk]
News bullets and other items:
Devin Gardner fully participated in practice last night and should be ready to start against MSU
It sounds like Jabrill Peppers may have been a part of that practice
Hoke really likes Michigan State’s offensive balance [Ed.- they’re ~ 40/60 pass/rush]
Hoke’s recipe for road success: “Don’t turn the ball over. Get turnovers.”
Hoke thinks bye weeks are good for healing injuries and not good when coaches tinker with systems too much. He prefers getting back to a team’s identity after self-scouting. He again says the identity they want is as a team that runs the ball.
He likes how they’ve prepared and how hard they’ve worked
They had a good practice
“Number one, thanks for coming. This is an exciting week. The bye week I think was good for us. I think it's a benefit. Get some guys healthy. There's bumps and bruises. We've been at it since August and we are pretty competitive and pretty physical with what we do, so four weeks of camp and seven straight weeks, I think it came at the right time. You're able to rest some guys and I think that's a big part of it, and at the same time you're able to get some guys who are right on the line that you might depending on how you get beat up or bumped along you may have some other guys that have to get in there and represent.
This is a great rivalry and a great rivalry in a lot of ways. Obviously we have three great rivalries – two great rivalries, but the passion on both sides of either green and white or maize and blue, I think that passion you see, you hear, and you feel. We are playing the defending Big Ten champs who deserve that and have played very good football during the year on both sides of the ball. Going out to Eugene is their only loss and that's a difficult place to play. You’re three times zones different and you're also playing in a pretty hostile stadium that can get pretty loud.
I think offensively, I think Michigan State [is] very balanced. I would think knowing Mark [Dantonio] he would feel very good offensively what they're doing from that balance standpoint. I think Connor Cook continues to impress and improve. You look at Langford and how he's improved and Nick Hill I think has emerged too back there in the backfield. Lippett I think has played like the best receiver in this conference I think when you see the big plays in big games that he's made.
Turnover margin; we’re [on] two opposite spectrums. They’re +11, I think we’re -13 and turnover margin in pro football, college football, high school football, Peewee football, whatever football there is out there is a big part of who wins and who loses and we've obviously got to do a better job of creating. The last two weeks we've done a better job of taking care of the football but that's got to continue.
As far as the bye, we got out Tuesday and Wednesday of last week. Had a practice last night which was a Tuesday practice for us and was very good, very physical. It was good to get out there again. Like the timing because that's one thing you always worry about and I thought our timing was sharp. I thought the execution on both sides of the ball was pretty good. We got a long way to go though, so… that's the longest I've ever given you an opening statement. I just hadn't seen you in a long time.”
Is there a downside to a bye week? You hear a lot of talk about upside but I wonder if there’s downside.
“You know, I think they're probably have been. I can try to go back and think over the years as an assistant and then as a head coach. We had a bye one year at Ball State [where] we were playing really good and then we didn't play so good the next time out. One thing that we've always tried to do is the speed that you play with, the efficiency with the sharpness, the quickness and if you can get that… The other part is the communication that your team needs to have. That's the only way I know how to judge it. I was very pleased with what we did last night because we were in full pads and we compete against each other all the time. Obviously you’ve got some things you're working on [for] your opponent but it was more about us competing against each other.”
[After THE JUMP: rivalries, edge, attitude, underdogs, gamblers]
FORMATION NOTES: Another very gun-heavy outing for Michigan, with nothing particularly unusual about the way they lined up. Penn State spent most of the game in a straight 4-3 of various varieties. Late they went to an eagle front for a couple plays:
Note that Miller has guys to both sides of him. That erases any chance Michigan can double on the interior and exposed Miller to a DT he could not deal with physically. Michigan responded to this with a pin and pull that worked on the next play.
SUBSTITUTION NOTES: No Magnuson still, so line still Cole/Glasgow/Miller/Kalis/Braden. Jake Butt seems to be getting as much time as he would have without the knee injury by now; Williams still hanging on to quite a bit of PT in Hill's absence.
At RB it was all Hayes/Smith with Green sidelined; WRs were as per usual with a little bit of Canteen.
[After THE JUMP: struggling forward.]