"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
If you're new to this site or the boards use this page to familiarize yourself with some of the site-specific terms thrown around here (we'll try to limit these on front page content). I broke these off from the FAQ because the list had grown too long to be valuable there.
27 for 27 When Fitzgerald Toussaint ran for 27 yards on 27 carries against Penn State in the dumbest football game ever played.
AIRBHG Angry Iowa Running Back Hating God. The most wrathful position-hating god in the pantheon, inspired by Angry Michigan Safety Hating God.
Big Daddy They're not little brother anymore.
Bolivia Board jargon for banned poster, from "negged to bolivian," meaning oblivion.
Brady Hoke's Pet Viking Former All American center Steve Everitt, who stands behind Brady Hoke and looks like a viking. Also wears MGoShirts.
BRI Bo Ryan Index: the percentage of photos in the first three rows of that person's Google image search in which they look enraged, incredulous, furious, or are expressing something otherwise unpleasant.
Bo Ryan's BRI is 94%
Buckle Up A commitment is impending.
CC Coaching change. Message board header prefix during coaching searches.
Cooler Poopers If you don't get it, take the literal meaning and add Ohio State tailgaters. Origin.
Crimes Against Manpanda Running MANBALL ISOs from the I-formation to no or negative effect when you have the world's greatest running QB on your roster. Origin: 2011 disaster vs. Iowa.
Cumong. "Come on!" with gusto.
(The) Daves The 2002 offensive line (Pearson, Baas & Petruziello), or any nondescript group of maulers from the '90s and aughts.
Dennis Bergkamp! Once upon a time in 2010 this one quarterback busted out for 78 yards for a touchdown. Because American Football Commentators are Boring, the preferred method for reliving this moment is set to a Dutch guy calling a Bergkamp goal.
Dog Groomers The nine-to-five occupation of the people who wrote "In the Big House" despite the presence of a perfectly good band.
Donkeys / Hating donkeys. Donkeys are defensive ends/linebackers/etc. Donkey hate is a kind of burro abuse practiced by excellent offensive linemen.
Facepalm Guy. When the camera panned the student section in UTL1 for an instant react, this fan gave the camera man a no-no-no.
FAKE! All 40 times are fake.
Football Armageddon The 2006 Michigan-Ohio State game.
Fusion Cuisine Originally Al Borges-Denard Fusion Cuisine, but since expanded to refer to any mismatches between coordinator style/player archetypes.
Game...blouses Remember that Chappelle Show skit where Charlie Murphy recalls a pickup basketball game versus Prince and the Revolution, and Prince hangs on the rim and says... It reminds us of Stauskas.
GERG Term for incompetent person named Greg. Usually Greg Robinson, Michigan's defensive coordinator in 2009-'10, or his Iowa offensive coordinating alterego Greg Davis.
Get Off My Lawn I have been cultivating every blade since 1969 and I'll be hognozzled if some young whippersnappers show the unmitigated gall to trample it like a Buckeye on a banner. What you don't remember that either? /throws up hands.
(The) Happening Nickname for the coaching "search" of 2014 that netted Harbaugh, from the constant "It's Happening!" memes throughout that process (see The Process)
Hennechart Passing chart in Upon Further Review. MGoBlog's system for charting quarterback play, named for the first man to be charted. Abbreviation explanations can be found here.
Henri the Otter of Ennui An otter with a French name that rhymes with the proper pronunciation of ennui. Henri appears when the numbness sets in. Origin.
(The) Horror Think of something so horrifying that could happen to Michigan football that it would thereafter only be referred to as "The Horror." Think of the first thing that an enemy fan will use when they want to give a Michigan fan a taste of what hell must be like. That's "The Horror." Now stop thinking about that and think about how adorable kittens can be. Soooo adorable!
HOWEVA Stephen A. Smith reference; if you don't know, be thankful.
IANAJTTP I am not a journalist, that's the point.
JMFJ Jack Mother [Effing] Johnson. Variant: JMFR for Jake Ryan.
Lloyd Brady A fan with a distinctive bowl cut who always seems to be captured by the TV cameras in the front row, and is usually pretty happy looking.
Manbearfreak Carson Butler. A commenter or two still refers to Butler as "manbearfreak" or "MBF," which was confusing even to me until I looked it up. A conflation of "Manbearpig" from South Park and "freak," generally used to describe any unusually athletic specimen who plays football. Appears exactly once in the vast and multifarious MGoBlog archives:
Carson Butler. Manbearfreak.
Manball Manblocking and power running offense concepts predicated on pushing the defense out of the way to create lanes.
MANBALL (see Crimes Against Manpanda)
Miami (Yes That Miami) or Miami (YTM) the University of Miami in Florida is That Miami.
Miami (NTM) (Not That Miami), Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.
MIKE (verb) Cardinal rule of pass blocking assignments. Always MIKE before you hike.
M00N How the scoreboard read for most of the 2014 Michigan-Northwestern game:
Monkey Rodeo An animated gif of monkey cowboys riding dogs, favored by livebloggers.
Mr. Plow Justin Boren, who was incensed that Rich Rodriguez wouldn't let him go back home on the weekends to help out with his dad's snowplow business. His whereabouts are currently unknown.
Muppets After important victories MGoBlog posts the Muppet Glee Club versions of "Temptation" and "Hawaiian War Chant", the two songs the band plays after wins.
Nachoshorts See Tacopants
Negbang Board jargon for excessive downvoting (antonym: "Posbang"). A person who posts an unpopular comment on the board and receives 50 negative votes or more can be said to be "Negbanged."
Never Forget … the erstwhile defensive backs of 2009-2010. Usually posted with the official banner:
(The) New Math Nickname for Mario Manningham. Comes from post conveniently titled "The New Math" after the 2005 Penn State game. General implication is that 86 == 1 and Manningham is unpossible.
NSFMF Not so fast, my friend.
(NTM) or (YTM) or (NT[any letter/s]): See Miami (Yes That Miami)
NTTAWWT Not that there's anything wrong with that.
(nv) Nisi Vanderbiltum, a Latin shorthand for excluding Vanderbilt from blanket statements made about the SEC. Coined by Seth.
Oakland is Still in Play for Jim Harbaugh because no amount of evidence will convince NFL beat writers a marketable pro head coach would take a college job.
OHIO! Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. In caps and punctuated to differentiate from how Brady Hoke referred to Ohio State.
OMG Shirtless Sometime during the 2005 recruiting year I received a number of hits for "Tim Tebow shirtless." At that point Tebow was a heavily pursued quarterback recruit and not Chris Leak's china-destroying sidekick. I endeavored to help this lonely, lonely person but could only find a picture of Tebow in a basketball jersey. Thus was born the Shirt Scale of recruiting rankings; these days it's about 50-50 as to whether or not a panting reference to a five-star freakystud gets tagged as shirtless, depending on whim.
OT Off topic. Used in message board headers to denote something not related to Michigan sports, Big Ten, relevant college athletics, or University of Michigan/Ann Arbor things.
Poor Damn Toussaint or Poor Damn [name] because we couldn't tell how good he is from the pile of nobody blocking around him. See 27 for 27.
Posbang see Negbang
(The) Process Dave Brandon's buzzword for why we needed seven weeks (OSU game to mid-January) of reveling in the Glory of Dave Brandon before firing the obviously fired Rodriguez and hiring the only guy Brandon ever considered whom he could have hired any time.
Rapture Guy Basketball fan who reached pinnacle of human capacity for happiness.
Rock. See RPS
RPS Rock, Paper, Scissors. UFR phrasing for what coordinators do against each other with play calling. Mike DeBord believed anything could be defeated by proper execution of rock. Good ol' rock.
SIAP Sorry if already posted. Message board header that shouldn't exist because if you posted something you have already diligently checked to see if someone else did so already.
Snowflakes Board header prefix for hot takes. We are all unique and special, like snowflakes, thus all of our special snowflake thoughts are unique and special and belong in Snowflakes threads.
Special K Kenny Fisher from Can't Hardly Wait, who graduated with a degree in having sex from UCLA and now makes music selections to pump out at Michigan home games, with consultation from Pepsi.
StAEE Their football team may be Big Daddy (see Big Daddy) but if there's one fanbase you would guess could misspell their own name when vandalizing a car...
Swampball A swampy game played by an angry, legalistic species of sentient bug people on a planet near Rigel. Virtually indistinguishable from Wisconsin basketball under Bo Ryan (origin).
Tacopants is Jason Avant's eleven-foot tall imaginary friend. Chad Henne spent much of 2005 hitting him between the numbers, which are unfortunately eight feet off the ground and made of dreams. Blessed with infinite eligibility and the ability to sneak on and off the field without alerting the referees -- made of dreams, remember -- Tacopants has taken a lesser role in the offense as Henne matures but still pops up at inopportune times. The term has its genesis in this post. Cousin Nachoshorts is three apples high and yet still too tall to grab turfed Steven Threet screen passes.
UFR or Upon Further Review The painstaking play-by-play analysis of offensive and defensive performance after football games. A database of past UFRs is available in the User HoF.
Uniformz Alternate uniforms, not good ones.
Unverified Voracity Voracity is a weird word to come after "unverified," especially when dealing with a sports blog and not, say, a blog about rumored hunger. The deal: back when the sporadic link-filled posts were untitled, some Iowa sportswriter penned what was to the the first in a long line of intemperate columns ragging on blogs for having the audacity to not be written by sportswriters. Unfortunately for that sportswriter, she inserted the following sentence:
In the new "journalism of assertion," as the report calls it, information is offered with little time and little attempt to independently verify its voracity. [sic]
Sarcasm being what it is, UV was born shortly after.
We Had Subs, It Was Crazy. Beilein endearingly describing the chaos of two grandkids' birthdays in two days between the Elite 8 and Final 4 weekends in 2013. Became a handy bit of nonsense to yell when this occurred:
Win the Game! Mitch McGary's sage advice for beating MSU.
(The) Year of Infinite Pain is 2005, a time before we knew what pain was.
YMRMFSPA You may remember me from such players as. Used in recruiting profiles to say what kind of player a recruit may turn out to be if he works out.
(YTM) or (NTM) or (NT[any letter/s]): See Miami (YTM)
a more pleasant item to lead the blog
When I write a thing of that length that I figure will stand as one of the things people think about when they think about MGoBlog, I like to talk about the aftermath.
WHY. A number of protests were lodged about why I wouldn't just leave the past in the past and move on. There are multiple reasons that post needed to happen.
- I needed an elucidation of the argument I couldn't quite make when I was on with Dan Dakich in the aftermath of the email article. The way in which Brandon screwed up so hard with Morris was a natural result of the way he approached every petty problem he met previously, an indication that he was a terrible leader for reasons both private and public.
- This is a space that tries to document what happens to Michigan. I got the same complaints about my Rich Rodriguez obit. We mostly look backwards here, talking about what has happened. Not having a summary of the Brandon era would have been a glaring omission. I do these for players annually, usually in the magazine. Hoke will get a (much less incendiary) recap as well.
- Never forget. For this to not happen again we must identify the problem and remain vigilant against its recurrence. Those who forget history, etc.
Now that I've said my piece we can move on. Harbaugh excelsior.
WHY NOW. A variant on the previous bullet:
Brian's post has no new information or even new feelings or analysis of information he compiled. It doesn't even have information or ideas new to his own previous posts on this blog. Why did he do this? I'm genuinely curious. It's like a political post mortem in The New Republic or Investor's Business Daily against a vanquished foe, but an untimely one. Has the piece been on his desktop for the last several months awaiting completion? Was he waiting for additional DB shoes to drop that would need inclusion? Was it an incredible stream-of-consciouness thing that just kinda poured out of him over a few very intense hours? I don't know, but I'd like to. Brian?
I will say that it is very clearly grave dancing, but it's Baryshnikov or Shakira cutting the rug, or dirt or whatever (apologies to dance fans if these examples are crap, but you get the picture).
Brandon was canned during football season, when time for a 5k word piece was not available. Then we had the coaching search, which sucked up all available oxygen—I barely thought about this piece until Harbaugh was in the boat. After that was the recruiting sprint to Signing Day. All of these things took precedence; now that we're past all that it was time.
FWIW, the piece was assembled in bursts, with a slim majority of it coming together in the last couple days.
On calling someone a piece of shit human being. Some protests about that phrasing. This seems like different borders for a term. Complaints about it tended to invoke physical violence against innocents, ISIS, Boko Haram, assertions verging on Godwin and occasionally directly invoking it. I would file such things under "evil," "monstrous," etc. Being a shitty person doesn't rise to that level.
I did get a very long, well-argued email from a walk-on who had been around for a portion of the Brandon era asking me to separate out my critiques of the man from critiques of the athletic director. It cited a number of positive personal interactions with Brandon, and it's true that the one group of people universally in his corner are student-athletes. John U Bacon invited me to present a guest lecture to one of his classes this fall; as fate would have it that date landed about ten days after the Morris incident. Bacon's class was split about down the middle between athletes and regular students, and when I expressed my opinion about Brandon bluntly I got equally blunt pushback from a couple of the athletes.
I appreciate that point of view. I reject it all the same. Brandon was clearly not an asshole to all people. That does not excuse the careers he shattered for little or no reason or the condescension to people trying to talk to him politely. I still can't get over the guy taking shots at some emailer's marriage when he was being painfully polite whilst trying to explain why Brandon had caused him an issue by telling his wife to find a new team. It doesn't excuse the relentless strip-mining of Michigan's primary asset, fan goodwill, in order to make the spreadsheet numbers go in the right direction. It doesn't excuse the constant litany of untruths culminating in a five-day firestorm based on the fact that Brandon's first reaction to any crisis was to lie.
I believe his interactions with the student-athletes were genuine and positive. I don't judge people based on how they treat their most favored class of person. Nixon had a dog, after all.
On giving money to Mott. There's a parable about this.
On cancer kid. It's easy to be nice to kids with cancer, especially when you trumpet it from the mountain. It's standard practice to be open to Make-a-Wish; not doing so results in major backlash and Brandon's not a literal psychopath. When these arguments are made I always think of the Chris Rock bit about how you're not SUPPOSED to go to jail, you low-expectations-havin' mofo.
On the civility of the previous bullet point. Not very civil, I agree. I did weigh that, but I felt that pulling punches in any way here was 1) not going to be credible and 2) did a disservice to the lesson learned. I often write swears in first drafts that get edited out later, sometimes to my regret. There is something about the well-placed expletive that gets a point across in a way I cannot seem to replicate with less naughty language, and this was a full-auto post.
On the shittiness of those emails. From user Evenyoubrutus:
What convinced me of how clueless he really was was his email that said "I suggest you find a new team to support." This was clear proof that he was still trying to sell pizzas instead of honoring the tradition of Michigan Football. Yes, if you don't like Domino's, try Pizza Hut. But I don't have over two decades of memories of sitting down at Domino's with my dad since I was a fucking CHILD eating the pizza, and memorobilia of Domino's items and memories in my house, and I don't dream of sharing the same experiences eating Domino's with my young boys, or memories of watching Domino's win championships and feeling some of the happiest moments of my life because Domino's! "Find a new team to support" Okay. Ass.
On things I missed. Inevitably there were going to be issues and problems with the Brandon era I missed, even in a post pushing 5k words. A selection:
- BursleyHall82 reminds us that it was only a sustained campaign from MVictors that finally got Brandon to relent and allow Willis Ward to be honored and his story told.
- I did not mention "The Process" via which Rodriguez was fired. That two-day dog and pony show was a quintessential example of doing something ostentatious to look impressive instead of just getting it over with quickly. Hackett fired Hoke and announced it in about 10 minutes, because he is not concerned with looking impressive. (Hackett occasionally dresses like Seinfeld's dad because he gets things done instead of picking out clothes.)
- JeepinBen points out I didn't mention the press blitz after the Morris incident or the infamous "my personality is to the best of my ability and I have to fix that" statement. That was triply odious: Brandon hired a PR firm only after he'd burned the house down and then spent Michigan's money trying to prop himself up instead of repairing the damage he'd done. Add in the content of said blitz and you've got a triple. Oh, and he invoked his family as a shield. Home run.
- I missed the giant Brandontron next to the stadium.
- And of course whenever I bring it up more people add their stories to the list, including this gentleman who was dismayed because the athletic department tried to charge the hospital a licensing fee for sick babies in winged helmets.
- There are many, many stories of people in the department being treated shabbily from Jon Falk on down. I didn't mention most of them because I hear most of them indirectly. Bacon's upcoming book on all this should shed a lot of light in this department; he reports that he has never seen people more eager to talk to him.
On revenues as a measuring stick. A common defense of Brandon is to point at the budget. I've repeatedly stated why I don't buy that argument but I've never stated it as eloquently as Blue Durham did in a comment on the post:
Increased revenues from sources like the Big Ten Channel can't be attributed to anything that he had done, and others, like Brian refers to, like the sale of water or the hoped-for rental of seat cushions(!), bring in little but have a great, negative impact in PR. So where is Brandon's biggest contribution in increasing revenues?
As far as I can tell, it was by increasing ticket prices. But all that did was to sell off an asset built up by preceding ADs, the waiting list and goodwill of fans, alumni, and students. When I was an undergraduate and graduate student at UM in the 1980's, everyone knew that the AD could have easily charged more for tickets.
But I think this was part of a policy to try to treat current students as future donors, and for the alumni, as a way to stay connected to the University in order to have more generous donors. Obviously this worked given all of the alumni events that occur every fall that revolve around a home football game.
All Brandon did was sell this asset off, to the University's detriment. This is akin to a kid selling is father's car and taking credit for all of the money he made doing it without taking into account the value of the car.
The damage he wrought in that department will be felt for years, or at least until HARBAUGH
On solutions. User Njia protests that the post was an unconstructive bombing. Guilty as charged. I'll put together something about the direction to go in an effort to rebuild ground zero.
The unedited post is available as an e-book for 50 bucks. To buy one, just go to this video of Rick Astley singing "Never Gonna Give You Up."
And now let's never talk about… that again.
Mailbag: Late Game Threes, Basketball And Football Recruiting Reassurances, The Poisoned Chalice Of Access
Go for three against MSU?
Frustrated after the end of the MSU basketball game. Simple question...if you have the ball down 2 points, with the chance to take the last shot, wouldn't you give yourself a better chance to win the game by running the clock down and taking the best three point shot you can get within the last five seconds?
Simplistically, Let's say it has a 35% chance to go in, and that your win % if it goes in is 100%. The other option is go to go for a two point shot with time left on the clock. What are your odds of winning with that strategy? Much worse, right? I'm no math major, but to me the odds go like this:
- generously, a 50% chance of making the shot, which then...
- gives your opponent a possession to win. Call it 50/50 that they take advantage.
- even if they don't, all you get is overtime, which lets call another 50/50 shot.
Maybe you can run the numbers, but it seems like your win % is something like 12.5%. You need three toss ups to go your way.
I'll hang up and listen...
It's a bit more complicated than that.
- Michigan isn't just worried about what will happen if they score. They're also worried about what will happen if they don't. Michigan had 20 seconds left when Bielfeldt tipped the ball in. If that had gone the the other way they had an opportunity to force a turnover or get another bite at the apple in the event MSU did not knock down both free throws. Even an 80% shooter like Denzel Valentine gives you a shot at the game about a third of the time.
- Michigan's tying basket was a off an offensive rebound. Off a two, yes, but even if it was a three the ensuing putback is still worth two.
- Your chance at a putback is greater if you aren't shooting a jumper. In the NBA, shots within 6 feet get rebounded at a 37% rate; threes at just a 26% rate. (Threes are still better than long twos at 21%.) Albrecht's shot was a weird floater, one that saw Branden Dawson checking Bielfeldt at the FT line in an attempt to prevent a three—the nature of that shot greatly aided the subsequent putback.
- Your chances of an OREB are zero if you wait for a three at the buzzer.
- Last second threes are generally bad shots because the opponent is maniacally focused on the three-point line. Albrecht's three to bring Michigan within striking distance was a good example of the phenomenon. To get any sort of look he had to take the shot a few feet behind the arc. See also:
Given all that the decision is far less clear. I'd be totally on-board with an open look that came out of the context of the offense. I would prefer it to any non-gimme two. But waiting for a do-or-die three is not good eats.
I don't have a problem with the way regulation ended. In that situation the imperative is to have a good offensive possession, hopefully quickly, and Albrecht's quick take got a decent shot that put Michigan in position for an OREB without bleeding much time.
[After the JUMP: talking people off various recruiting related ledges]
Paging Dr. Stalin
getting our glares on
Will there be a roster purge a la Charlie Strong or can we expect Harbaugh to try and retain almost everyone?
I'm not a fan of purges; part of a leader's job is to gain buy-in, but they do happen. Some attrition will certainly happen, but I'd like to not dig a huge roster hole we're digging out of for 3+ seasons.
Strong's purge is not likely to repeat if only because that kind of massive roster depletion is just about unprecedented. Strong walked into a combination of bad timing (two guys suspended for sexual assault) and no discipline after the Mack Brown decline had truly festered. Strong read guys the riot act…
Sources said all of the players in question were told that Strong was watching them closely dating back to February, when they were part of a group pulled aside and told that their attitude and/or behavior had to change.
As part of that conversation, players were told they’d be subject to more random drug tests, sources said.
…and they did not respond. That led to a lot of guys out the door.
Michigan has already experienced one of these, as Kyle Bosch was brought into a meeting with Harbaugh and told there would be some conditions on his continued membership:
“I was at school all day, getting ready,” Bosch told Sporting News on Tuesday morning. “Then I met with Coach Harbaugh and I didn’t expect the transfer. That was not my original intent when I went up there yesterday. … This was very untimely. If it was my intention to transfer, I would have done that a long time ago.”
Bosch said his meeting with Harbaugh produced two options: stay with the program with stipulations (he did not say what they were) or transfer.
The kind of things Bosch dealt with over the past year are best left unspecified, but if he didn't want to meet the law laid down by Harbaugh it's best that he find somewhere else to be.
Bosch is an exception. Hoke was very good at getting guys who work hard and go after their schoolwork, thus the APR and extremely low transfer rate. That rate is about to pick up for a lot of reasons (remember that even before the season ended Hoke mentioned two OL were headed out), but the departures won't rise to the level of a purge or leave Michigan alarmingly short-handed this September.
You can tell this is the case just by the recruiting numbers. Michigan has room for a class of 12 right now. Without epic departures that isn't going to get past 20, and a roster that only has to add 15 or 16 players is not in dire straights.
This staff versus previous staff.
Hi, I'm your DL coach. [Eric Upchurch]
Since the site has been 90% devoted to the assistant coaching rumors or hires for the past several days I wanted to throw a question at you.
The natural reaction in the wake of hiring Harbaugh and turning the page on the previous regime is to look at everything through rose colored glasses. At least until the first game we lose, people will mostly think he can do no wrong and every person he hires or recruits is a great fit.
If we take a step back, how do you feel the staff construction we will have next year compares to our reaction to the staffs that Rodriguez or Hoke hired in their first seasons? Do you see any areas that make you scratch your head or long for someone else?
There's no comparison. Hoke and Rodriguez both imported the large majority of their existing coaches and held on to Fred Jackson. Those coaches had experienced success—sort of in Hoke's case—in a specific context at a lower level of competition. Rodriguez fatally did not bring Jeff Casteel along; Hoke imported Greg Mattison and brought Al Borges with him.
- Is an in-demand OC/QB coach.
- Hired an in-demand DC.
- Kept Greg Mattison as a position coach.
- Hired the guy who built the Stanford ass-kicking machine.
- Hired Ty Wheatley in the recruiting-heavy RB slot.
- Hired an ex-NFL OC and successful college OC as a WR coach.
- Hired a special teams coordinator who has 15 years of crazy success.
Nobody on this staff is going to wander over to San Jose State after they're done at Michigan, and most of them have experienced impressive amounts of success outside of the Harbaugh context. With limited exceptions that latter was not true of anybody on either of the previous two staffs other than Greg Mattison.
If there's anything with this staff that makes me pause it's the still-hypothetical Dougherty hire. He's only had one year of TEs, and with the importance of those guys in the Harbauffense it seems like you'd want a guy with a long track record there, possibly with some OL coaching mixed in to help out Drevno. OC/OL is a lot on one plate.
But we don't know if that's actually going to come to fruition—given the timing here it's possible that Fisch swooped in on his spot. The last thing we heard about Dougherty was a Football Scoop report from three days ago—unreliable to start and increasingly so as we get further out without any confirmation. I'm beginning to think that's not happening.
[After the JUMP: search postmortem, these are my readers.]
I've been conspicuously absent the past few days. I will not be covering the basketball game this afternoon, nor the game on Tuesday, and I'll be working in a limited capacity for the rest of this month.
Allow me to explain.
Over the past few weeks, my health has taken a turn for the worse. The diagnosis of gluten intolerance I received over the summer hasn't been the be-all, end-all answer I'd hoped; there is more going on, and right now I don't know what. I've been dropping weight at a rather alarming rate. I covered the Syracuse game on Tuesday while weighing 115 pounds. (I'm a hair under 5'11", and haven’t weighed this little since middle school.) My brother drove me to and from the game, because I didn't feel comfortable getting behind the wheel of a car—not the first time he’s done that over the last month, unfortunately.
That's the bad news. I'm very limited physically right now, to the point that covering games in person is not a feasible option, even though there's no part of my job I enjoy more than settling into my spot (or leaping out of it) on press row at Crisler.
The good news is I have no shortage of support. My physician came into the office on a scheduled day off to see me on short notice on Wednesday afternoon, and as soon as I left he was on the phone with specialists at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital; I'll be in and out of appointments at St. Joe’s this week to begin anew the process of determining what, exactly, is going on with my body. As far as doctors go, I'm in very good hands.
The same can be said for my support system at home and at work. My parents and my brother are doing everything within their power to ensure that I'm comfortable, supported, and in good spirits; other than going to appointments, I barely have to leave the townhouse I share with my brother unless I'm up to it—they are taking care of me. I have friends near and far checking in on me, providing moral support or much-needed distraction; those often go hand-in-hand.
Brian, as he has been throughout my time at MGoBlog, has been remarkably supportive, especially when considering I've often had to bail out of work on short notice, and it's not like this is a large operation in which one employee's absence can go unnoticed. He's allowing me to scale back how much I'm working this month, which I hope will be all that's necessary before I'm able to return to writing at full strength, even if it takes longer for my body to reach that point. I've been able to do so time and again the last four years. Very little can stop me from doing what I love: writing.
For their part, the people in the sports information department for Michigan Basketball—especially the SID par excellence, Tom Wywrot—have been extremely flexible and understanding during this time, and I cannot thank them enough for it.
Same goes for fellow MGoBlog writers Seth Fisher, Alex Cook, and Bryan Mac, who've covered my ass on more than one occasion* when I’ve been unable to write, as well as our photographers, Bryan Fuller and Eric Upchurch, who've been extremely generous in offering their support. Thank you, as well, to MGoRightHandMan Dave Nasternak, who filmed high school games this fall when I didn't feel up to it, drove me to games when I did, and even stopped by the studio last weekend to give me a loaf of gluten-free bread after a podcast recording. I’m so lucky to be able to work with you all, and I don't get to convey my appreciation enough.
If I haven't responded to your emails, phone calls, messages, or tweets in recent days, I hope this serves as a reasonable explanation. I'll get to them when I can, if they truly require a response—these last few days have been spent in near constant communication with doctors and my family so we can get this figured out as soon as possible.
If I've been an asshole to you recently, as I know I have been with a few of you (including some who were beyond undeserving), I apologize. This has been a very stressful time. That’s not an excuse for taking it out on others.
If I told you I'd make plans with you, grab a drink, be in touch, or the like, I must apologize as well; right now, my life is on hold. Trust me when I say that I'd like to see or hear from you soon, but my big mouth occasionally promises more than I can provide, and that's been the case more than usual lately.
I turn 27 tomorrow. I've been dealing with strange health issues that have affected my everyday life since I was 17, when I'd often shoot awake at night in a cold sweat thinking my heart was going to beat out of my chest. I've been able to get through school and largely work around my health problems for a decade. Now is the time I must put my health first and foremost. Diagnoses of de Quervain’s thyroiditis, depression, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and most recently gluten intolerance haven't fully addressed what's happening; this time around I'm determined to search until the true answer is presented.
I'm confident, with the remarkable support I have, that I'll get to the bottom of this. If there's a place to be sick, it's Ann Arbor, where it's hard to walk around the block without bumping into someone at the top of their chosen field. I still plan to write while the search continues, just not quite as much as I have in the past. I hope you’ll bear with me in the interim. If you’re looking for a way to support me, I hope you'll consider donating to MGoBlog. Brian is paying me full-time for work I don't fully have the capacity to do at the moment, and I don't plan on going anywhere. Supporting the site is the most direct way to support me both now and for the long haul.
Thanks for your understanding.
Now let's get Jim Harbaugh to Ann Arbor.