Where was this last year?
I'd like to ask the question, why has this incident concerning Shane Morris, framed (quite appropriately) around player safety, been treated so much more seriously than say Devin Gardner having played against OSU with a broken foot?
it's an honest question, wondering your perspective, do you think it's because of the poor play on the field now as compared to then (although we are pretty awful no matter when you look at it), but then let's not kid ourselves and exploit the situation anymore than is warranted by the poor leadership failures, or is it people are treating a head injury as much more serious than a foot injury? I think that's true, but foot injury can also harm the student-athlete.
There are two layers of outrage/disgust here that should be separated.
1) There is disgust leveled at Brady Hoke and his program for being disorganized enough to send Morris onto the field. Much of the meta-backlash has focused on this aspect of the problems; they say that if Michigan was 5-0 this wouldn't be a problem, or compare the vastly greater level of attention to this incident than those that followed the Will Gholston a couple years ago and assert this is unfair.
The people in the Michigan community who are angry about this are not determining the media reaction. They are reacting to it. So the Gholston thing is not relevant unless you're asking Good Morning America*. By the time anyone on campus did anything that got on the news this had already blown up into a huge story, and the thing they didn't do is demand Brady Hoke's firing.
The 5-0 thing is also invalid. The shambolic state of the program now seems like the cause of an alarming incident instead of a punt return touchdown. If this happens at Alabama, are people as mad? No. But that is not just because Alabama is successful. It is also because if it happens at Alabama it seems like an aberration instead of a logical conclusion to the things we've seen before. When this happened the initial thought wasn't "I can't believe this happened"; it was "of course this would happen to this program."
And then there's the Brady Hoke Isn't Evil defense, which is an enormous strawman. I haven't seen anyone writing on this suggest that Hoke doesn't care about his players. Literally not one person outside of a message board post from a lunatic or two. It doesn't matter if Hoke is a great dude or not if he can't stay within 16 points of anybody in year four, concussion incident or not.
2) There is outrage leveled at the athletic department for their handling of the PR crisis. This went national quickly. Michigan's response was dishonest and insufficient, then laughably uninformed, then infuriating. Michigan's refusal to forthrightly admit error and lay out how they would set to fixing matters turned a one-day story into a week long debacle. It was only yesterday at 6 PM that an adult stepped in and gave the kind of statement that should have been issued on Saturday night.
The Brand was compromised, and not just the football team. The entire university's image has been through a ringer the past few days. This was unnecessary, and exacerbated by the incompetent handling of the situation by the athletic director.
@mgoblog I know professors in Communication who are already planning on using this as a case study in failure.
— Zach Evans (@dzevans) September 30, 2014
This, too, is a pattern. Michigan used the same playbook for the Gibbons story last year for a weeks-long period of press tension. They learned nothing from that incident, in which simply being honest about why when and how Gibbons was removed from the team turns that into a story about Gibbons and the university disciplinary process instead of the athletic department.
The used the same playbook after the skywriting incident, and were embarrassed when the company sold 'em out; caught red-handed in a lie they waved their hands, and the story went away because only Michigan fans care.
This was utterly predictable to anyone who had been paying attention. This is what they do. It will happen again if Michigan is unfortunate enough to have to handle another story like this. Meanwhile, no big time coach is going to want to sign on to an athletic department that just hung its coach out to dry spectacularly. So the AD has to go.
All of the stuff in bin 2 is not relevant to the above question. The stuff in bin 1 is, and to be clear: this is just another strike for Hoke. If it was strike one, people would cluck and move on. If it was strike three it would be a big deal. Since it's strike 486, it's almost moot.
But anyway: feet heal. Gardner was of sound mind and capable of making decisions about whether to continue or not. Brains, we are rapidly learning, do not heal completely, and immediately after a trauma is an extremely dangerous time.
As a culture we are pretty okay with a guy who walks with a limp. It sucks; it's not a life-ending disaster. We are not okay with Junior Seau. We are not okay with a thing that may cause you to point a shotgun at your chest and pull the trigger not being handled carefully and professionally. I feel this is too obvious to explain but there have been a ton of comments to this effect of late so I explained it.
*[And the Gholston thing at least had the semblance of competence. He was removed. He did not re-enter immediately. The nation did not see him stumble around after a helmet-to-helmet hit and then take a snap. The doctors had time to give him a legitimate examination. It wasn't as visceral.
The nation absolutely should have come down on Dantonio like a ton of bricks for his statement that Gholston "had the wind knocked out of him," but even a couple years ago concussions seemed like much less of a big deal.
In any case, the failure there is not with the response to this incident but the response to the Gholston one, for which MSU should have taken a lot more heat.]
[After THE JUMP: Good stuff Brandon did, Regents basics, a little game theory.]
Michigan football made Al Jazeera's front page. Hooray?
In regards to the way both Brady Hoke and Dave Brandon have handled the whole situation regarding Shane Morris, I have to wonder why we have not heard from the AD since the game. I am concerned that the absence of any comment on the situation screams that he is trying to distance himself from the whole situation. By doing this, I feel that he is jeopardizing the search for a new head coach. Parents would have second thoughts on sending their sons to play for Hoke, while potential coaching candidates would have second thoughts on working for a man who keeps quiet in times of trouble, I know that I would.
I live in Arkansas and thought back to the way that Jeff Long handled the Bobby Petrino situation in April on 2012. Four days after the accident, when it was to come out that Petrino may have covered up the accident Long placed Petrino on paid leave while he did his own investigation. 6 days after that Petrino was fired for just cause. That is the kind of leadership I like to see in the workplace.
I will end this e-mail with a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr. as I think it speaks loudly as to what is going on now.
"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."
Don [ed: Not That Don]
Dave Brandon's 52-hour absence during a PR crisis magnitudes greater than the one Michigan faced when he was hired speaks volumes. We were all temporarily on board the Brandon Express because he came in and talked in his gibberish way to the media about stretchgate. He spearheaded the U's reaction to the investigation, and because his one skill is handwaving at things this seemed brilliant. That was a thing that deserved handwaving.
That PR crisis did not feature literally dozens of prominent opinion-makers on college football calling for Hoke's immediate dismissal, nor did Michigan show up on Good Morning America or ABC World News Tonight. This is so much worse.
And now Dave Brandon is a ghost. When the University of Michigan desperately needs someone to step forth and be Adam Silver, they get a single 1 AM statement from the guy in charge, one that directly contradicts his own football coach. Whatever this is, it doesn't feel like an attempt to save anyone's job.
They learned nothing.
Since some people are defending the Morris incident by saying "its an isolated incident and only getting attention since we are losing", I think its time to talk about Brendan Gibbons. If that incident came out now (post Ray Rice) how would it play? Also, its another incident where you are left to wonder whether Brady Hoke is (1) devious or (2) dumb - a question that as alumni and fans of what the university stands for we should not be asking.
The thing that makes Brandghazi even more inexplicable is that they already had something like this happen to them with the Gibbons thing, where their vagueness and dissembling led Brady Hoke to claim a guy who had been expelled from the university wasn't playing because of a "family matter."
They experienced a lesser version of the media blitz that they intensified with their stonewalling, gathering ugly press. What did they learn from that? Absolutely nothing. This is the PR equivalent of Shane Morris stumbling after a hard hit to the head against Ohio State and staying in the game.
And in the light of the most recent disaster, doesn't it seem a lot more plausible that Michigan was lying about Gibbons's "muscle injury" against Ohio State? We can't trust them about anything anymore.
While I think a boycott is a good idea, I'm curious as to why you want to wait until the last home game to do it?
Mostly I thought the idea would be better if given enough time to gather a critical mass, and that it would be easier to convince people to stay away from a game that was not a night game against a theoretically sexier opponent or homecoming.
Also I wanted to give the powers that be some extra time to get rid of people. This isn't just Hoke, after all. It is also Brandon, and while you can chop the head coach off right now without raising an eyebrow canning Brandon might take some more time to canvass donors, point at the raging tire fire, and say "I hope we can agree that this is very bad and we need to move on to someone not widely hated."
I am all for people doing something for the Penn State game. A suggestion: replace GO with FIRE and BLUE with BRANDON in chants.
[After THE JUMP: more emails in this vein, and a random game theory Q]
I got a pile of email, so this is really long and still leaves out a number of missives. Apologies if yours wasn't selected.
A fairly comprehensive coaching-firing email.
I got a lot, obviously. This one touches all of the bases.
I'm currently operating under the following two assumptions:
1) Brady Hoke is done unless Michigan at least wins at least the Big Ten East with wins over both rivals on the road, which currently seems about as likely as two nuclear missiles turning into a sperm whale and a bowl of petunias and one of them telling our coaching staff how to coach offensive football before they plummet to earth.
I don't think it is that cut and dried yet. If Michigan goes 7-1 in the Big Ten with a loss to MSU and ends up 9-3 and going to the Citrus Bowl or something, that is a weird way to get to what people expected before the season. I think any 8-4 record is a hard sell that might induce a decision that we all hate and 7-5 is 100% dumped. (This is not what I'd do; unless he runs the table before the OSU game I would give him the Earl Bruce pre-Game firm handshake. This is what I'm guessing the athletic director would do.)
But yeah, going 7-1 in the Big Ten seems about as likely as the bowl of petunias thing. I am thinking "oh no, not again," tho—we solved it! The bowl of petunias is a Michigan fan.
2) That Dave Brandon will make a comically inept hire of either a warmed over retread with a tenuous connection to the past (Cam Cameron!), a mediocre young coordinator with a tenuous connection to the past (Scott Loeffler!), or a flashy idiot who must be great in interviews even though he's a moron coaching a football team (Lane Kiffin!)
Given that, how long would it take to set up and execute a reasonable search committee for a new athletic director? And is there any chance at all the university leadership acts decisively to remove the fundamental problem? It seems like the answer to those questions are too long and no at the moment.
The timing is bad. Schlissel just got in and has no frame of reference, so is he going to make a serious move? Does he even care about it, or is it something that's 11d on the agenda at a random meeting? And is he going to do it now-now-now, like he'd probably have to?
The answers to these questions are probably no. I think we're stuck with Brandon. If Michigan did make a move now there are a number of obvious candidates: Jeff Long is Arkansas's AD, Brad Bates is Boston College's, Warde Manuel is UConn's.
Long hired Bobby Petrino when Petrino bugged out on the Falcons, and then replaced him with Bret Bielema. Both are impressive hires from a football perspective and odious from a "you want me to root for THIS guy?" perspective. Manuel hired Turner Gill at Buffalo, was handed interim basketball coach Kevin Ollie (who then hired himself by winning a lot), and executed a logical search when UConn replaced Paul Pasqualoni, first trying to grab Pat Narduzzi and then going with Notre Dame DC Bob Diaco.
And while we're contemplating the fundamental horror of being Notre Dame, is Hoke Davie, Willingham, or Weis? Seems to me he recruits like Weis and coaches like Willingham, which is somehow worse than either of those guys. Or at least more frustrating.
Davie. His recruiting is better than Willingham and he's not a deliberately offensive, off-putting goon. Davie was an amiable man who couldn't organize a footbaw team.
Of course the real problem is that there really doesn't seem to be an upwardly mobile candidate at the right level to actually go after. I mean obviously you'd take a shot at Sumlin, but no way A&M doesn't match that offer. Which sort of leaves you hoping the Ravens' front office semi-criminal dickishness makes John Harbaugh quit and then you hope you can outbid like 15 NFL teams who would immediately jump at the shot to hire him. Not a great situations. Only name I can maybe come up with at a realistic level is Craig Bohl, who is unfortunately 56 and in the first year of his new job at Wyoming. That juggernaut he built on North Dakota State is impressive though.
Basically I think we're doomed. Are we doomed?
It looks fairly doomy, but we were all laughing about Ohio State's coaching search when they settled on the previously-obscure Jim Tressel. There are guys out there. You mention Bohl, who I have also wikipedia-stalked to my disappointment. Michigan may as well take a run at Sumlin types, but realistically any SEC school is going to match the money, and if you're crushing it in the SEC what is the motivation to move?
There is a name out there that I think might work: Dan Mullen. He made a previously awful team competitive in the brutal SEC. Nobody's been able to win much of anything at Mississippi State in 20 years—Jackie Sherrill had one ten-win season in 1999 and was otherwise bouncing between 8 and 3 wins. The Bulldogs have gone from winning a quarter of their SEC games under Sylvester Croom to winning 42%, and they've gone to four straight bowls for the first time ever. That's a James Franklin-like resume.
Mullen grew up in Pennsylvania, so he'll have some useful recruiting contact, he's 42—good long term upside if he works out—and he was Urban Meyer's OC for Florida's run of dominance there. He just beat LSU on the road. If Mississippi State goes 9-3 or better this year he'll be a very attractive candidate.
The problem is that Florida is going to be looking as well and I have bad feels about competing with them given our current situation and Florida's proximity to bounteous talent.
[After THE JUMP: more stuff like this, and an Ondre Pipkins Q.]
[DATELINE: THE BURNED OUT HULK THAT USED TO BE ANN ARBOR.]
CONNECTION SHAKY. MASS PANIC AND RIOTS. WHOLE FOODS RAIDED. SINGLE ENDIVE LEAF ALL THAT REMAINS. ATHLETIC DEPARTMENT BUNKERED IN WHAT IS LITERALLY FORT SCHEMBECHLER NOW. TAKING POTSHOTS AT PASSERS-BY THEY CLAIM ARE ZOMBIES. SOME ARE. SOME.
SEND DVDS OF 1997 SEASON. ALSO WATER.
IF… IF I DON'T MAKE IT TELL CHARLES WOODSON I LOVE HIM.
I kid you not, GIS for "looting" and this guy in an off-brand Michigan jersey shows up
Let me know when I should start panicking. I am ready at your command.
Okay this is where I'm at. I've got a go bag ready. Passports, about 10k in cash, various fake mustaches and sunglasses. I'm up do date on all my vaccines. Are you up to date on your vaccines? I can be in Laos in 15 hours, never to be seen again. Rumors of the white tiger of the jungle will flourish. I will become known only in song and legend.
BUT: note that I am not already in Laos. I am sticking around to see what this season has in store, because weird things happen against Notre Dame and—and bear with me here—this game actually felt much less bad than some hammerings from last year. There are some obvious problems at cornerback and Gardner has to play better but when things went wrong it was mostly one thing going wrong, not eight. So it might get fixed. There is no reason to demand a coaching change right now. Let the season play out and see what happens. If Michigan does catch fire in the crappy Big Ten this game will be a footnote.
Meanwhile, there's no reason to assume a coaching change is coming unless you're literally 75% of my inbox…
A true Michigan Man keeps his promises about the Austro-Hungarian Empire circa July 1914.
You may recall that I said I would never write to you about Michigan football again after the BW3 Bowl and my comparison of Michigan football to the Austro-Hungarian Empire circa July 1914. Since the last part is still true, I won’t make this long. But your entry today about coaching prospects caused me to think about my second school (the Syracuse Orange).
Here are a LOT of assumptions, but (a) assuming the tire fire rages, (b) Hoke is fired, (c) none of the few big names worth watching (i.e., Miles, the Harbros) is/are available, and (d) Syracuse goes 8-5 or better again this year with a mid to late-December victory, what about a guy like Scott Schafer? He’s in his mid-40s. He runs an attacking style defense. He’s from the Midwest. He favors an up-tempo offense. He has to coach against Clemson, FSU, Louisville (and ND this year). He picked up the pieces after Doug Marrone ran off to the NFL with half of his coaching staff last year.
Might he be someone to watch? I know the experience as Rich Rod’s DC did not work out. But given his success running the defense at SU (particularly following GROB), that seems like it was more an issue of Rodriguez trying to make him run a defense he didn’t want to run. He left with grace and took the blame that may not have been 100% his.
Just a thought – I’m grasping at straws . . .
Syr. Law ‘88
I don't think Shafer has a track record to get excited about. He did improve the Syracuse defense upon his arrival but he hit a ceiling pretty quick. FEI rankings for his defenses at 'Cuse:
2013: 65th (as head coach)
In FEI there are a lot of schedule adjustments so 39th isn't nearly as good as it is in straight yardage rankings. Meanwhile he'd have two years of head coaching experience, the first a 7-6 season, and the second an 8-5 one. I liked Shafer and know for a fact he got a raw deal from Rodriguez's defensive assistants, and then Rodriguez himself. But even if you don't hold that against him his resume is thin.
He is a guy to track, since he is a poachable head coach not in the MAC. That he's worth tracking is a good summation of the available talent this year.
[After The JUMP: I REGRET TO INFORM YOU YOU WILL NOT STOP DRINKING.]
I'm in Turkmenistan. Seriously.
My name is Matan (Michigan '09) and I am a huge fan of MGoBlog. I am currently driving 10,000 miles from London to Mongolia in a beat up little car as part of a for-charity roadtrip.
A couple months ago (and two years ago), you posted a picture of the "Door to Hell" in Turkmenistan on the blog. We figured we'd put the Michigan flag on it and claim it for the MGoBlog community.
The second picture...well...when starring hell in the face, you might as well have some fun.
It's always nice when someone explains why we got that one hit from Turkmenistan. Papua New Guinea, you're next.
I am of the type that I really don't care about ANY info about the skill positions that is coming out of camp because it is pretty clear that this team will only go as far as the offensive line will take them. The chemistry issues on the team last season were well documented and some have been more specific and direct, that there were chemistry issues and a lack of cohesion on the O-Line. With that being said, is there any truth to this and may it be better for this team to have an entire O-Line with youth so that they collectively progress together?
That's a bit of a stretch. I'd think that having an older guy next to you who could explain why you screwed up would accelerate the learning process for the younger folk. Where that kind of thing might pay off is a year or two down the road; this year it's just going to add to struggles.
I've dismissed "chemistry issues" as they may apply to last year's line, but there's two kinds of assertion in that bucket and I'd like to disavow one but not the other. The one I think is pretty unlikely to have had a major impact: Taylor Lewan supposedly being a jerk. At worst this slowed the ability of younger linemen to progress, and probably not much.
However, if by "chemistry issues" you mean the offensive linemen not having a good idea of what the guy next to him is going to do, I very much buy that as an explanation for why Michigan couldn't get yard one on the ground. So what I can offer is this: if the line remains stable through the year and reps the same offense throughout they will get better as we go, and possibly much better. Their relative youth should mean they improve faster than older players.
Meanwhile, moving guys around is going to be less of an issue if Michigan does focus on inside zone as their base play. Positional responsibilities are a lot closer in zone offenses—nobody pulls, everybody frequently executes doubles that send one or the other OL to the LB level depending on what the player in front of you does.
Unfortunately they're probably going to start as a pile of suck. Judge them by what their pile looks like at the end of the year. Maybe it'll be okay!
[After THE JUMP: safety moves, a guy who is not taking this mailbag as seriously as he should, recruiting feels]
Early hockey entries: a trend? One applicable to basketball?
With both Zach Werenski and Noah Hanifin (BC) graduating high school a year early to play for their respective schools, do you think this might be an emerging trend among schools looking to secure top end talent? Or at least secure them for more than a season?
Also, seems like there could be applicability to basketball. If he's academically eligible, bring a guy a year early. A lot of the high-end recruits are probably about as college ready at 17 as they would be at 18. Is this a possibility for schools or do you think Werenski and Hanifin are the rare exceptions?
Don't forget BU's Jack Eichel, who is joining Werenski and Hanifin in college this fall after accelerating. That's three, and that's a trend. And it's one that makes sense. The USA NTDP U-18 plays a schedule heavy with exhibitions against college teams, and they're competitive. You could take the top guys on those teams and put them on a second or third line and they'd be fine, if not better.
Then you probably will get them for a second or even third year instead of one, two, or—increasingly likely as the prospects get more and more touted—zero. One of the most interesting aspects of this new version of early enrollment is that all of these guys are leaving the NTDP a year early. That does not happen often because the NTDP contract comes with a clause that forces you to repay the costs of your first year in the program if you leave before the second.
Given that it seems like this is a concerted effort by the NTDP and college hockey to get the top 15 pick types in the program to college before the OHL can try to sink its hooks in.
As for applicability to basketball, it is something that comes up occasionally as players move in and out of recruiting years in an attempt to find the best fit. Usually this means going back a year, though. And since a lot of high end basketball players were strategically held back so they'd be bigger and stronger than everyone else, moving ahead a year is often just moving back to your natural spot.
But the real problem with accelerating basketball players a year is the academic situation of the top players. In hockey, many of the players are at tony private schools or, in the NTDP's case, Ann Arbor's well-funded Pioneer High. American prospects generally have some money in their family—hockey is expensive—and as a result have gone to good schools for the bulk of their scholastic career. Accelerating is evidently within the capabilities of both the schools and the players.
That combination is undoubtedly a lot rarer for basketball players. These days large chunks of the top prospects are at places like Findlay Prep, which are dogged with eligibility issues. Often those are because the players who arrive at Findlay have been miserably served by their local high schools. There's an entire cottage industry dedicated to taking promising basketball players and beating their transcripts into shape the NCAA might accept. Doing that in a year less and packing an extra year of credits in is going to be a bridge too far for almost everyone.
What's the deal with Manning?
So, looking at coaching changes, is putting Manning, who has never coached DBs as the CB and nickel coach an effort to:
A) get your most dynamic recruiter to your most dynamic, desired athletes and keep them with him when they get to campus
Probably not. Coaches usually take an area rather than a position. The position coach does come into it but after much of the legwork has been done. And Michigan was recruiting CBs just fine before the move.
B) get a guy who has played and coached more physical positions (RB, LB) to take some physicality and tackling ability to the DBs
Maybe? Moving to what seems to be an aggressive man press defense means that a guy who knows what you should to to get under a guy and rock him back can apply his experience. It also minimizes some of his inexperience at the position. If the position is about getting in a guy's grill and reacting to what's in front of you that's something that takes less holistic knowledge of what to do in situation X in a zone.
C) minimize the role of Curt Mallory, who has been rumored to be looking at a head coaching gig elsewhere
Not sure if "minimize" is quite the right word, because just by the numbers he had five guys while the most anyone else had before the move was two. But yes devolving some of those responsibilities seems like a good idea.
D) get rid of overlaps in coaching staff. Hoke will work with Smith on DL, Mattison takes over LBs, Manning and Mallory take DBs. basically your 3 most dynamic recruiters (HC Hoke, Mattison and Manning) all head up a unit on D.
I do think this is a reasonable idea. When Montgomery, Hoke, and Mattison were all dealing with the DL that was three guys for four starters with the other two guys handling seven. Now everyone has about the same number of guys.
E) all of the above
Parts of three of the above.
I like 'em both.
Would you rather see Michigan win a football national championship or the USMNT win a World Cup? I'm a lifelong Michigan fan like most of your readers but I think I would rather have the World Cup. At this point I have more pride and anticipation when watching the USMNT in the World Cup. What are your thoughts?
I like 'em both.
A couple of readers who would prefer not to be identified passed along this:
We are pleased to announce a special offer for our Season Pass Holders. To show our appreciation for your loyalty to Radrick Farms and the University of Michigan's Athletic Department, we are offering complimentary tickets for you and a guest to attend up to two football games at the Big House!
We have LIMITED tickets available for the following games on a first-come, first-served basis:
- UM v. Appalachian State on August 30th
- UM v. Miami of Ohio on September 13th
If you are interested in attending these games, you must let us know at least THREE weeks prior to kick-off.
Football's just around the corner, but World Cup fever (including your soccer columns) has me paying a little more attention than usual to soccer. Last year I caught bits and pieces of NBC's EPL coverage on Saturday mornings while counting down the minutes to actual football and was thinking maybe this year I'd find myself watching more of it.
Here's my question: Who should I root for? Should I pick a team to follow? Pick a team to root against? Root for current/future USMNT players? Root for bicycle kicks or red cards? A quick guide to "What to watch on Saturday mornings before real football kicks off" would be a fun read.
Looking forward to your season previews!
There's not a whole lot of American flavor in the EPL these days, just a couple goalies and various people trying to keep their teams from getting relegated. There was a good eight years or so where Fulham was relying on Brian McBride and then Clint Dempsey as their primary goalscorers, but now not so much.
You can't root for the Yankees, and you probably shouldn't root for whichever random club has been picked out by a petrosheik and driven towards the top of the league through no merit of its own. And you don't really want to pick out some team that stands a good chance of relegation within five years, because a team that gets relegated won't be seen by an American until it comes back up.
With that in mind, options:
EVERTON. Tim Howard, a strong finish last year (fifth, just outside a Champion's league spot), they like Landon Donovan, you know their manager from ESPN, they've been in the top flight since 1955, and haven't won since 1987. Wear blue.
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR. Named "Tottenham Hotspur." That's all you need to know. Also have been in top flight forever but hasn't won since 1961. White and blue color scheme M-friendly. Have the money to potentially do something but generally don't. Had Clint Dempsey for a bit.
STOKE. Brek Shea and Geoff Cameron. Probability of relegation is low in immediate future. Long term… they will probably go down at some point. Currently have Peter Crouch, the 6'7" robot-dancing beanpole former England striker.
LIVERPOOL. Along with Arsenal, the most tolerable team that regularly participates in the Champions League. Advantages over Arsenal: still plays at Anfield instead of stadium named after Middle Eastern airline, you might be tired of Nick Hornby, Arsenal's manager is a French guy who wears a ridiculous puffy coat whenever the temperature drops below 70.
ARSENAL. Along with Liverpool, most tolerable team that regularly participates in the Champions League. Advantages over Liverpool: you might rather like Fever Pitch, haven't won since 2004, just like Michigan.
Rooting against is obvious: Chelsea and anyone from Manchester. United is the Yankees, Chelsea plays desultory bore-ball and is backed by a Russian kleptocrat, Manchester City is Qatar FC, basically.