There's no simple explanation for anything important any of us do. Rob Parker has been fired, and a nation says "what took so long?"
I actually met Parker once. One of the producers at WDIV's Sports Final Edition liked the blog and wanted to maybe have me on for a weekly segment that would break down a play or two in an attempt to explain why Michigan had won on Saturday and why State had lost. (Ah, the hubris of 2006.)
The segment never happened, but I did head down to the studio to do a test run. Said test run coincided with Parker's weekly segment. Like everyone else who's read a Parker column, I didn't think much of him, but he seemed like an exceptionally nice guy. Maybe he's not that bad, I thought.
Fifteen minutes later I was watching him declare that his "moles" were saying Mario Manningham would be suspended for the entire 2007 season, and all that went away. I actually had some killer inside info on the situation and knew that Manningham had been in the car when a traffic stop turned up some marijuana and vicodin. At worst Manningham would get a possession rap; as it turned out he was charged with absolutely nothing. Parker was taking a shred of a rumor and intentionally blowing it up into something sensational.
It's not like this was unusual. Parker's moles are a running joke around Detroit. Earlier this year he incorrectly identified State quarterback Kirk Cousins as a participant in the melee that laid up Spartan hockey player AJ Sturges. Dantonio duly blew up and, for once, it was justified. Parker has a track record.
So, congratulations, Detroit News. It only took you years of inane columns, weekly bouts of irresponsible, inaccurate rumormongering, and one jerk move at a press conference to get rid of Rob Parker. The courage overwhelms.
We build. We build. We build we build we build. Michigan's construction boom is such that the New York Times mentions it:
An army of ironworkers, masons, carpenters and laborers are swarming the campus of the University of Michigan these days, as the university undertakes a construction campaign budgeted at $2.5 billion, ranking it among the largest university building programs in the United States.
A dossier of projects follow: the biomedical center, the Ford School, the new business school, North Quad, and, yes, the stadium renovation. In context, the rumors of faculty OUTRAGE that Michigan was spending all of 10% of their construction campaign on a self-funding, overdue revamp of the football stadium seem a little silly, don't they?
A side note: that link comes courtesy the Ann Arbor Chronicle, a budding, professional, and transparent online news source that's an interesting look at what might pass for a local paper in a post-newspaper world. They've got some crowdsourcing going on—a twitter feed that aggregates readers' information about local traffic issues—a fairly robust set of local advertisers, and interesting content. Like, hey, did you know the TCF bank building on South U has the word "tit"—rumored to be a tribute to Michigan coeds—bricked into it?
Recursive hockey recruiting. Yost Built linked to the hockey recruiting bit from Friday and in doing so posted something I'll link here, which may break the internet. We'll see. The item is on the chances of forward commit Luke Moffatt donning the winged helmet, and it's nice:
The Kelowna Daily Courier had an article about some of the Kelowna Rockets prospects who are playing in the World Under 17s at the moment. If you'll recall, Luke Moffatt was drafted by the Rockets in the WHL Draft. Their Assistant GM said that this is as good of a US team as he's ever seen in that tournament. He's very complimentary of Moffatt, though he says it's a wait and see thing on if he'll end up in Kelowna.
I recently received a very positive email about the chances of him ending up in Maize and Blue. Things can change, but right now I'm not starting a Luke Moffatt DEFCON like I did with Jack Johnson. I like the odds of him ending up in a Michigan jersey.
Ver' nice. Insert disclaimer with mention of Jared Knight, an erstwhile Michigan commit now plying his trade in the OHL, here.
Come on. A message boarder pointed out this in Rosenberg's delicious fluffy num-num on Michigan State's Citrus loss. State has a fourth and five from Georgia's 39 and calls for a fake punt:
MSU coaches had studied Georgia film intently — 12 games’ worth of film in the interminable wait for the bowl. They knew the Bulldogs always spread their defense against a punt. Naturally, the coaches figured they could fake a punt and run up the middle for a first down.
And what happened when the Spartans lined up?
Georgia’s defense was bunched up in the middle of the field. The Bulldogs had apparently used their interminable wait for a bowl to tinker with their punt defense. Maddening.
Maddening! Except this is a punt on fourth-and-makeable from the opponent's 39. Every program in the country is in a punt safe there; Dantonio's fooling no one. It was an idiotic call and punished appropriately. Then, later, Dantonio punts on fourth and one from the Georgia 44. People keep falling all over themselves to praise Dantonio even when he displays a grasp of game theory Nixian in its incompetence.
I am annoyed, and unsurprised.
Very cool. UMHoops now has a man on the scene in Los Angeles, and said man has a video camera and the intent to scout Darius Morris. Dylan says "this isn’t exactly a highlight film," which it's not. It's actually more useful. Highlight films are just "this guy hit a three this guy hit a shot this guy hit a shot ooh dunk"; only Zack Gibson does nothing but put dunk on your face.*
Oops. ESPN's having a bunch of people make random predictions, because random predictions are incredibly valuable content. This one is particularly valuable:
4. Combined with 2008 QB signee Justin Feagin, the Michigan Wolverines will play two true freshmen in a QB rotation until one comes to the forefront and takes the reigns of Rich Rodriguez's spread offense. Shavodrick Beaver (Wichita Falls, Texas/Rider) and Tate Forcier (San Diego/Scripps Ranch) will battle with Feagin.
Tate Forcier is apparently a slot receiver at Tulsa now. (Update: the Beaver mention has been excised.)
*(HT: Club Trillion, which is the only good thing to come out of Ohio State ever.)
UFR coming tomorrow; I tried downloading a big file that didn't get down in timely fashion.
It's grim. You know it's grim. The "Michigan 2008 = Notre Dame 2007" equation that Michigan fans—and this blog—scoffed at in the offseason appears to be nearing QED MFer status. A smart person just emailed me something that suggests death would be a more pleasurable alternative than the six games that loom over the next month and a half. The sky hangs low and ominous, all slate-gray clouds and distant rumbles and the sweaty prickle of unnatural humidity.
So, obviously, blame must be assigned! Assign blame, media! ASSIGN BLAME
Think West Virginia would return the buyout and take back Rich Rodriguez?
No. Of course, this guy's big idea…
Clearly, before this debacle reached a 2-4 boiling point, with the rugged part of the schedule yet unplayed, Rodriguez and his staff should have installed a second offense.
…worked out great last year when Charlie Weis installed the spread option for a single game against Georgia Tech instead of indicating that his offensive linemen might want to block someone. He says "Saturday's game almost isn't worth reviewing," and it's clear he didn't: Michigan did sort of install a second offense, deploying a Moundros-fronted I on several occasions and running isos up the gut. Unless he thinks a new offense is magically going to make Steven Threet a junior or Nick Sheridan physically capable of running a Division I offense, this is complaining just to complain.
Meanwhile, Mike Rosenberg continues proving that he's lost his mind over Rich Rodriguez. After doing the usual disclaimer bit ("Rich Rodriguez may yet restore Michigan to Big Ten supremacy") in an attempt to ward off the obvious riposte—SIX GAMES—he goes into the usual array of misrepresentations designed to cast Rodriguez in as unflattering a light as possible.
Here's one of many:
“We’ll adapt. I like winning too much not to adapt a little bit to our personnel.”
Has there been any sign that he will adapt?
Rodriguez says that every spread offense is different, but his scheme looks exactly like the one he ran at West Virginia, even though his players don’t fit the scheme.
Yes, exactly like the West Virginia spread:
- WVU, 2007: 26% pass, 74% run.
- Michigan, 2008: 46% pass, 54% run.
This only looks "exactly like the West Virginia" spread if you have literally no memory for play proportions and sequencing.
I won't belabor you further with the column; it's a pastiche of the usual unrealistic complaints like "Rodriguez ran off Mallett!" that remain as wrong as they were when Rosenberg brought them up earlier this year and I fisked it. I only bring it up to highlight the weirdest criticism leveled at Rodriguez this season: leaving a semblance of Lloyd Carr and Mike Debord's pro-style offense would have been an improvement.
This is preposterous in the following ways:
Last year the Michigan offense was bad. Injuries had something to do with it, sure, but Mallett played less than half the year, and the other half of the year they had a senior Chad Henne. Mike Hart played about nine games. The #1 pick in the NFL draft was the left tackle, and Mario Manningham and Adrian Arrington were standout wide receivers.
With all these advantages, Michigan finished 68th in total offense, 10th in the Big Ten. Can you imagine what the offense would look like with freshmen everywhere and nothing resembling a competent quarterback? Yes, you can, it looks like last year's Wisconsin game minus the 97-yard Manningham touchdown. Or last year's Ohio State game. This isn't exactly the Greatest Show On Turf we're ditching.
You cannot make a good offense out of these parts. The best quarterback was a freshman so shaky in camp that a guy who would look out of place on most I-AA teams got the starting nod; he has been wildly inaccurate downfield and is charting horribly in UFR. This would not improve in a different offense. Different offenses do not make it easier to throw accurate passes, especially when the screens have been problematic.
There is one returning OL starter and six plausible starters, one of whom (Schilling) seemed destined for a career as anything other than a backup before massive attrition forced them into the starting lineup. The tailbacks are freshmen, injured, or fumblers. The wideouts are probably the worst crop since… uh… Michigan started throwing?
Meanwhile, Cory Zirbel, Carlos Brown, Mark Huyge, Mark Ortmann, Carson Butler, Martavious Odoms, Junior Hemingway, Steven Threet and Greg Mathews have all missed time with injury or stupidity (Butler's punch; whoever decided Sheridan was a plausible starter). A walk-on saw time at left tackle.
Nobody on the team even knows the Carr offense. Your skill position starters are five freshmen (Odoms, McGuffie, Threet, Koger, Stonum) and a junior.
…except the linemen, who are pretty much doing the same thing anyway. There are slight differences between Michigan's zone stretch this year and its zone stretch a year ago; their main problem is not being unable to understand the scheme but being unable to execute it because they are bad at football.
To be fair, you wouldn't know this if you watched the game on Saturday and then spat out a 600-word column about it without putting in the time review the tape or learn about football.
Rodriguez hasn't run a pro-style offense in two decades. How is he supposed to teach something he doesn't know very well? How is he supposed to run an offense completely divorced from his own? What is the point of hiring Rich Rodriguez?
So you've got one of two options here:
- Decide to run an offense you have zero experience with that finished just above 70th with an enormous slate of NFL talent in the vague hope you make a crappy December bowl game if it's even an improvement, which it probably won't be, or…
- Get on with the process of building your program.
Here's door #1: Auburn decided to bring in a spread guru, implement half his offense, and force him to call a lot of dumb plays he didn't want to. The result? Fired offensive coordinator with sad box and sad beard:
Meanwhile, Auburn blogs are considering whether or not Tuberville should get a sad box, too. This is the Great Solution proposed by Michigan newspaper columnists.
I pick door #2, as should everyone except evangelicals who think the world is ending before next fall.
With Vandy no longer undefeated, that seems a small risk.
(HT to Ron Cook at the PPG)