"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."
Bye week, remember. UFRs are delayed as I take the annual breather from the grind. These might be a little later than usual (Thurs/Friday in non-Hoke-doom-spiral years), but it's on its way.
Henry was fierce Saturday [Eric Upchurch]
The difference. PFF grades the game:
–In a direct contrast to the Spartans’ signal caller, Michigan quarterback Jake Rudock (-3.0) struggled once again. He brought his grade down to -20.9 on the year, and didn’t look great even when he was completing passes. On 3rd-and-9 with 5:42 left in the third quarter, he underthrew wide receiver Amara Darboh on a go route, turning a potential touchdown into a play where the receiver had to save the reception.
Ouch. Another PFF article notes that they have Rudock the 7th-worst quarterback nationally in their grading system.
The Michigan defense has been on another level this year, with standouts on the defensive line in Chris Wormley (+25.3) and Maurice Hurst (+25.8), at linebacker in Desmond Morgan (+17.0) and at cornerback with Jourdan Lewis (+16.7). Before the loss to Michigan State they had posted three straight shutouts and yet, with Jake Rudock’s (-20.9) struggles at quarterback, they find themselves on the outside looking in when it comes to the College Football Playoff picture. Our seventh-lowest graded player at the system, he has graded positively just once all year.
I don't think he's been that bad—I'm guessing PFF is dumping all of the collective WR/QB issues on Rudock since they must be going over these games as quickly as possible given the sheer volume of work they've given themselves. But he has not been good. We can definitely say that.
Not much more to do here than shrug at Hoke's QB recruiting and ponder the future.
In other PFF grade things. Both DLs grade every high, as did Michigan's LB corps. Ben Gedeon's most extensive playing time to date resulted in a solid +3.4 just behind Morgan. That's good for next year, and possibly the rest of this year.
Henry led the way for M despite the personal foul; you can see the implied struggles of Michigan's tackles in the grades of Calhoun and McDowell. Both Lewis and Burbridge graded out positively, which pretty much.
Still. "Michigan is not going to the college football playoff because of one glaring personnel deficiency" is a lot better than "Michigan is not going to the college football playoff because hahahahaha
what would that score even look like
they'd have to invent new numbers
they've already invented all of them
So we've got that going for us.
Finally PFF thing that doesn't really have anything to do with PFF. In the second article I learned that Utah State has a defensive end named "Kyler Fackrell" who I really wish played for BC.
Advanced stats. The Connelly box score is kind of amazing. Michigan and MSU had 13 possessions and on average Michigan had a 14-yard advantage in field position. That is a whopping 182 yards almost entirely due to special teams, and that's how you lead a team that's outgained you by 160 yards until that thing happened.
Another item of note: M brutalized the MSU ground game, which had a "success rate" of 23%. Michigan was at 40%; national average is 42%. MSU made up for it in the air.
Michigan's five man cover one pressures. M has been running a ton of man free blitzes this year. James Light with a comprehensive breakdown of them:
When you have the personnel to hold up in the secondary in man coverage, Cover 1 Rat is very tough on quarterbacks and offenses in general, which is why this is the favorite coverage of Alabama head coach Nick Saban, “Man free, rat in the hole is the best coverage involved, absolutely the best coverage involved. They can’t run the ball, the quarterback has to throw the ball outside, and he can’t make any easy throws like when you play zone.”
Michigan ran into a team that was very, very good at hitting those tough outside throws and still had to eat a 75-yard fancy play coverage bust to give up 21.
The Raiders will double that respect. Harbaugh on the usual NFL rumors:
Harbaugh was asked Tuesday on the Big Ten coaches teleconference if it "bothers" him to hear his name tossed around in speculative circles with regard to other head coaching jobs.
His answer was simple.
"I won't comment on it, it's disrespectful to the game," he said. "I look at it as disrespectful."
I wouldn't run to the Har-bank with that since it's pretty much what he was saying last year when the 49ers were approaching the end of their season. This got headlined as "Jim Harbaugh says it's 'disrespectful' to mention his name for other coaching jobs," which is not quite what he said. To me he's saying, its disrespectful to the game to talk about taking other jobs when there is a season going on.
I don't think Harbaugh's leaving. He's definitely not leaving until he feels he's done right by Michigan. But if it should come to that a comment like the above is no more than a slightly more aggressive version of the usual deflection.
The cord cutting is
coming ongoing. ESPN has started shedding high-priced talent as their six-bucks-from-every-granny-who-only-watches-Matlock model starts to implode. Now the cuts have gone wider:
Walt Disney Co.’s ESPN sports network, confronting rising programming costs and a loss of viewers, plans to eliminate as many as 350 positions, about 4.3 percent of its workforce, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
No, Stephen A. Smith won't be among them.
I hope the Big Ten enjoys this brief window in which the paltry Rutgers and Maryland fanbases are a net benefit to the bottom line—and only the bottom line—of the conference. It is not going to last much longer.
Louisville thing. It sounds not at all subtle.
A book, "Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen,"published this month by self-described former escort Katina Powell, 42, details nearly two dozen stripping and sex parties from 2010 to 2014 inside Billy Minardi Hall, the on-campus dorm for athletes and other students named for Louisville men's basketball head coach Rick Pitino's late brother-in-law. Powell, who first spoke to Indianapolis Business Journal Book Publishing, has said that McGee arranged the parties and paid her $10,000 for supplying dancers during the time period.
That is not a thing that you can reasonably say "I had no knowledge of X" about. If Rick Pitino was ignorant of five-digit payouts for dozens of sex parties that is also grounds for a firing. It should be obvious "lack of institutional control," but NCAA enforcement is a magic eight ball.
Very Harbaugh. One day after the MSU game he was at the White House. Obama:
He says Barack Obama watched Saturday's 27-23 loss to the Spartans and told the coach it "was a tough way to lose a football game."
Not yet please. Mike Spath talked to some NFL scouts and they are not blind.
At 5-10, 175 pounds, Lewis is smaller than ideal, but at least three scouts to have attended Michigan games this season told TheWolverine.com that the Detroit Cass Tech alumnus had earned a first-round grade from them.
"Some teams will shy away because they draft almost solely on physical traits but a kid like him, with that competitive fire, and an ability to make a play on the ball in the air, is really appealing," one of the observers noted.
Henry and Wormley are also attractive NFL prospects; the best shot Michigan has on offense is Jehu Chesson, if and when Chesson gets some polish. Hopefully they'll stick around for their senior seasons; if they do this epic defense will probably see a repeat next year.
A time-tested mantra I've found myself resorting to over my years of watching sports is a simple one, but resonant: Things happen.
Michigan completes a Hail Mary against Northwestern in 2012. Colorado completes a Hail Mary against Michigan in 1994. Yin and yang, a grand swinging pendulum of Fortune, karma, mindless spinning of a dimpled, brown prolate spheroid through wind and rain and snow and the sun's reaching rays in the Midwestern fall.
Would not have managed to go with "things" there. Good man.
Etc.: Brief Victor Viramontes video profile. Maize and Blue Nation on 100 Years of Moe's. Aubrey Dawkins was only recruited by Michigan and Dayton. Remember that this year. Accurate. Moritz Wagner is here, German. You can apparently vote TE commit Sean McKeon into the UA game.
Sponsor note. I tailgate, but I do not set up tailgates. They are a large undertaking. If you are daunted by such an undertaking, Tailgater Concierge can take care of all that for you. They'll reserve you a space, set up chairs and tables and silverware, and grab whatever food you desire.
Then they clean it all up afterward so you can be inside the stadium before Grapentine asks the band to take the field. They have spots at Pioneer right across from the stadium for maximal efficiency and real bathrooms. If you've got a corporate event they can take a load off your mind, as well.
They're coming. They're wearing gorilla suits and transformer heads.
You can also check out this guy's Oreos review.
YOU DON'T SAY. The infinite anger machine can take slight at anything, including "people looking at football":
Connor Cook on being underdogs to Michigan: "It doesn't take much to put a chip on our shoulders."
— Brad Galli (@BradGalli) October 13, 2015
We'll see how much that chip helps against Jim Harbaugh.
Breaking down the beast. PFF takes a look at Michigan's "terrifying" defense:
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about this defensive run isn’t the results, but the grading at the heart of it. Of 26 players that Michigan has used on defense this year just two of them have a below-average grade, and none is worse than a -1.8, which is still closer to average than disastrous.
16 of those 26 have strong positive grades and of the players that are left, five of them have played fewer than 20 snaps. In fact, the Wolverines have just one player on defense that has played 100 or more snaps and doesn’t have a significantly positive grade.
They include a number of illustrative graphics as well:
They are happy to leave defenders in man coverage and attack with overload blitzes up front, and that too happens with speed, but watching any time Northwestern tried to gain the edge against this team was an incredible display of hustle by the Wolverines.
Take the play above, which was not in any way held up or delayed. A simple option trying to stretch the defense and the running back ends up facing five separate defenders all converging on him behind the line of scrimmage. That should not happen, and does not happen with most defenses. There wasn’t even a catastrophic breakdown in blocking assignments to create it. The Wolverines just read, diagnose and attack the football like a pack of hungry dogs chasing after a wayward ribeye steak.
There is much more; strongly recommend you read the whole thing.
A slight difference. Brian Fremeau's stats site has game-by-game breakdowns in which he assigns point values to all three phases of the game. For example, against Utah the offense was –6.2, the defense –1.8 and the ST +1.0. These aren't schedule adjusted, they're just trying to explain where the final margin came from.
I particularly like Fremeau's special teams numbers in this department because he takes field position into account for field goals and punts and the like—his stats are going to understand that a 32-yard punt that ends at the 3 is a good thing. Also, SOS isn't a huge factor on special teams.
Shall we review this year versus last year?
Much of Michigan's positive value last year came on a blocked punt that Gedeon returned for a TD against Appalachian State. I'm not actually sure what Michigan did to get solidly above zero midway through the season other than blocking a Northwestern field goal. Best guess is that the punting was good and they didn't give up big returns for that section of the season.
Anyway: things are different now.
Goodbye to The Head Ball Coach. Steve Spurrier was and is a living avatar of college football and why it's so awesome. He ran up the score, he bombed people in press conferences after, he talked like a human. He simultaneously had all and no chill. He was college football's Roger Sterling. In the aftermath of his departure people collect his best lines…
7. On a fire at the Auburn library that destroyed 20 books: “The real tragedy was that 15 hadn’t been colored yet.”
…and even those who hated him admit that he was pretty awesome. Spencer on Spurrier is required reading:
Another coach Spurrier liked to tweak later in his career was Nick Saban, someone Spurrier would point out had taken the Alabama and LSU jobs.
"If he wants to be the greatest coach or one of the greatest coaches in college football, to me, he has to go somewhere besides Alabama and win, because they've always won there at Alabama."
You could take favorable jobs as a bad coach and look okay, or take great jobs as a good coach and look orders of magnitude better than you might actually be.
Spurrier, in contrast, took the Duke, Florida and South Carolina jobs, jobs that were garbage scows before he arrived. He won at all three, in biblical fashion — the Old Testament Bible, where locusts ate your crops, lightning blew up your houses, and your village was flattened by a tidal wave before your rescue boat was swallowed by a whale. He drew the ire of illiterate nanny-take pissmerchants like New York columnist Mike Lupica, who accused Spurrier of running up the score, whatever that means.
Hard to imagine the HBC existing in any other sport. I plan on sleeping well past Gameday but if you want to do me and college football a favor, it would be pretty awesome to see a Hatin' Ass Spurrier sign.
What are you even doing? BC Interruption breaks down the ludicrous ending of their 3-0 loss against Wake Forest. After recovering a fumble on the Wake Forest 11 with 56 seconds left. BC ends up with first and goal, 29 seconds left on the Wake Forest 1:
0:29 left, 1st and goal from the Wake Forest 2. 108 seconds after the possession began.
Because the play wasn't communicated to the team, BC huddles and as Chris Berman would say "tick..tick.tick". The Eagles break the huddle and with everyone in the building screaming at them to hurry up snap the ball some 11 seconds after the ball was marked ready for play at the 18 second mark. The game was essentially down to one play.
Result: Rouse runs the ball into the A gap on the right side. The play is blown up and Rouse does not even quite make it back to the original line of scrimmage. The whistle is blown with 12 seconds remaining on the clock.
From 29 seconds with a stopped clock for a first down, BC gets one play off. That reminds me of you know who. At worst BC should have been able to spike the clock and then take two shots on pass plays before a do-or-die fourth down (or, knowing Addazio, a chip shot field goal).
Just brutal. Everyone needs a Madden 14 Year Old Assistant.
On joking about problems that turn out to be serious. I am frequently bothered by the rush to condemn people on twitter with egg avatars who have terrible opinions. (Exception: "Denard Robinson is not a QB" eggs during his tenure at Michigan. You people can go straight to hell.)
When something like CC Sabathia entering rehab transpires there is inevitably a flood of righteous tweets that seem directed at Mike Lupica columns from 1980 that do not in fact exist. These are designed to acquire twitter status, which is the worst status to have. I do not give twitter points to people for not having awful opinions, or pointing out that other people should not have awful opinions. You get none of my points. You are wasting everyone's time.
This just came up in college football when Steve Sarkisian's alcohol issues went from an odd but isolated incident to a scary pattern, and I think Ryan Nanni hit exactly the right tone in response:
I think we make these jokes because we see these as isolated ncidents of failure, like laughing at a friend who busts his ass on an icy sidewalk or has a soda explode when he opens it. Steve Sarkisian getting drunk at a booster dinner is funny, in isolation, because it's wildly unexpected. Placed in the larger context of what appears to be fairly serious alcohol problem? Now I just feel like an asshole for that throwaway tweet, laughing and pointing at someone who's grappling with a disease that sent over a million American adults (and another 73,000 adolescents) to treatment in 2013.
This isn't me putting on my Joke Police badge; one of the fundamental aspects of EDSBS is that we write what we think is funny, even if other people don't, and that's fine. Declarations that something is or is not humorous are as tiring as they are useless. It's like claiming shrimp is poison because you have a shellfish allergy. You can still think Steve Sarkisian coaching the Arizona State game under the influence is really funny, and I'll disagree with you.
Back when the Brendan Gibbons thing was going down there were a number of commenters who yelled at me because I didn't make the prescribed statements about how rape is awful. I don't do that because it's obvious and I don't need to polish my wand in public. If you demand someone else do it it's probably because you're not as great of a dude as you want to make everyone think you are.
Injuries. Injuries will be a major story for the game. Michigan has a banged-up running back corps, with De'Veon Smith missing the Maryland game and both Smith and Johnson limited against the Wildcats. Joe Kerridge missed the two games before Northwestern but seems fine now. Channing Stribling has missed the last two games but should be ready to go against the Spartans:
"It was longer than a one week (injury)," coach Jim Harbaugh said Monday. "He was very, very close this past weekend. He could've played, but we thought it was more prudent to not play him.
"I do (expect he'll play Saturday)."
Michigan is also down Bryan Mone and Mario Ojemudia for the year. They will also be without James Ross for the first half—and in MSU Michigan finally plays a team they want to run a bunch of 4-3 against.
MSU has a slightly longer list of the wounded, most importantly on the offensive line. Backup LT Dennis Finley is done for the year. Jack Conklin hasn't played in two weeks; he was available in an "emergency" against Rutgers but it's kind of hard to imagine what that emergency could have been that didn't see him on the field late. That's because Kody Kieler tried to give it a go but had to leave, and very late center Jack Allen took a nasty hit from the side that knocked him out of the game.
Anywhere from zero to three of those guys will be available; I'm guessing that both tackles suit up and at least try to play. Allen is a much murkier proposition. Some dubious twitter rumors held that he was done for the year but in that case you'd probably have confirmation from the program, and from students on campus who spot the guy in a cast or something. I wouldn't lend those much credence.
Changing some minds. Inside NU's podcast covers the Michigan game this week, and they kick it off by talking about how the atmosphere inside the stadium greatly exceeded its reputation:
There's a lot of interest to M fans until about the 25 minute mark, when they turn the page to Iowa.
They also have an article up from a former Northwestern linebacker detailing the various things that went wrong. I'll address it in more detail in UFR; you can read it now.
Surprise. The only difference between Laremy Tunsil and the other guys Ole Miss has pirated away from bigger programs is that Tunsil had a stepfather sell him out. He has been reinstated after it was revealed had acquired a raft of illicit benefits:
Ole Miss is lucky to get Laremy Tunsil back at all.
That was my first thought reading the full list of charges brought by the NCAA against Tunsil, and after letting it digest for a little while it still holds. The list of impermissible benefits Tunsil has received in Oxford is lengthy and more than just the one loaner car which had been previously reported. It was about three of them, over a six-month period without payment. A four-month interest-free promissory note on a $3,000 down payment for purchasing a used vehicle, two nights of lodging at a local home, an airline ticket purchased by a friend of a teammate and one day use of a rental vehicle were also among the impermissible benefits Tunsil has received in Oxford. Tunsil was also apparently less than truthful with the NCAA when first asked about all these things, and the NCAA is a lot like a mother in this regard: lying only makes it worse.
That is just the tip of the iceberg, no doubt. In addition to being the right thing to do, paying people legitimately will help reduce the impact of side benefits like Tunsil's. I think the NCAA needs to give up the ghost here and focus exclusively on making guys get actual educations, but I remain annoyed at programs that are flagrantly breaking every rule they can think of before that happens.
Etc.: Carr to the M Athletics HOF.Weather for MSU tentatively expected to be chilly but dry. Dude who exposed the Volkswagen fraud was a Michigan alum. Mama said knock you out: Michigan is killin' em early. Weztel on the game. Warning: autoplaying audio.
Hinton on the aftermath at USC. Excellent data-laden Kirk Goldsberry article on how unassisted two point jumpers are the devil. Mr. Harbaughchav, build up this wall. Inside the basketball offense. Holdin' The Rope.
Event. The Alumni Associations big homecoming tailgate is this weekend. It features many things:
Five stations of delicious tailgate themed foods.
Cold beer brewed by U-M alumni-owned North Peak Brewing Company.
Performances by student groups.
Appearances by special guests including: University President Mark Schlissel, MGoBlog creator Brian Cook, and New York Times bestseller John U. Bacon.
A performance by the Michigan Marching Band.
The Exclusive Member Lounge - Alumni Association members can meet Sara Moulton between 12:30 - 1:30 and try out some of her favorite tailgating recipes.
One of them is somehow me. I have been tasked with emceeing the event, so send me all your John U Bacon short jokes. Tickets are available here. Teaser: I hear John U Bacon is not very tall, you guys! /rimshot
Whoops. Accidentally left this from LongLiveBo out of the game column:
Felt like this for a while
Ended up feeling like this.
You will agree that it is good I have repaired this mistake.
A man who knows his history. Michigan went way back in the annals of football and dug out the T-formation against Maryland. I'm charting it and trying to figure out what the accepted lingo for T-formations with receivers is and hit up the Wikipedia article, and bang:
That is from Fielding Yost's 1905 book "Football for Player and Spectator," which sounds amazing. Also, the section in which this image is found is headlined "Obsolescence," to which Jim Harbaugh would like to say not so fast, my friend.
Another tale in which Michigan is prepared. From Doug Karsch:
"I spoke with D.J. Durkin this week before the game, and he said, 'Look, Caleb Rowe is fine, until he gets pressured. That's where the turnovers have come from. So we're going to need to pressure him.'
"Sure enough, they did. All three of his interceptions came under heavy duress. Desmond Morgan said after the game about his interception, which came on a screen pass, before the ball was snapped, he knew in that down and distance that they liked to go screen. He told the defensive line to watch for the screen."
Michigan got Hurst in on Rowe so quickly he ended up hammering the ball at a running back about five feet from him. The deflection that followed was partially forced by the D.
So many ORs it sounds like a seal convention around here. Looking ahead a little bit to next week, Michigan State's depth chart on offense is certainly uncertain:
Jack Allen is a very good center. As a 6'2" left tackle he's gonna die. MSU really needs Conklin back posthaste. I imagine if there is any way either he or Kieler can play next Saturday they will do so.
It's fatal. Start over. The immediate aftermath of hiring Mike DeBord at Tennessee has exceeded even Michigan fans' extraordinarily jaded expectations:
6 teams have taken a 13+ point lead in every game this season: Temple (4-0) Navy (4-0) LSU (4-0) Baylor (4-0) FSU (4-0) Tennessee (2-3)
— Peter Edmiston (@peteredmiston) October 5, 2015
The Vols are 108th in Bill Connelly's "explosiveness" metric. They've scored a total of 13 points in the second half of games against Oklahoma, Florida, and Arkansas.
The optics here are really bad. Tennessee essentially does not have a quarterbacks coach. That task has fallen to Nick Sheridan (yes, that Nick Sheridan), who is a grad assistant after a couple of years as Willie Taggart's QB coach at WKU and then USF. No offense to Sheridan, but that's an incredibly thin resume for the only guy a major college has with any claim to be a QB coach. Dobbs has seen his completion percentage drop six points and lost 0.6 YPA this year. You want those numbers to go the other way when your QB hits his upperclass years.
You really have to wonder what the hell Butch Jones was thinking.
The love is real. If Cracker Barrel's latest viral marketing campaign was based on kidnapping and hypnotizing Jim Harbaugh, someone needs a raise.
— Coach Harbaugh (@CoachJim4UM) October 6, 2015
BTW, there is now a hidden subplot in Harbaugh twitter:
@CoachJim4UM Good Lord how we miss you.
— 49ers Fancast (@49ersfancast) October 6, 2015
This happens a lot in his mentions now. A lot.
— Zed Eleven (@TheZed11) October 6, 2015
Possibly because Licensed Twitter Troll Tim Kawakami is retweeting him. Well done, Licensed Twitter Troll Tim Kawakami.
Cumong man. I am happy with the state of the team. I am getting a little punchy about the outside perception of it from both humans and numbers. Vegas moved Michigan from essentially infinity to 1 for the national title to 22 to 1, which is insane. S&P is not a person but a series of carefully selected numbers; now that Michigan bludgeoned Maryland and all preseason numbers have been dropped Michigan sits third(!) in it. FEI, at least, is more skeptical—Michigan is 22nd.
Pat Forde has a gimmicky column on when the undefeated teams lose in which he essentially says Michigan is goin' to the the playoff:
Expiration date: Oct. 10, at Michigan. Saturday the Wildcats play in the Big House, in front of roughly 75,000 more people than have seen them play at any point this season. First team to 10 may win this matchup of the best defenses in the conference – and that team will be the Wolverines.
Michigan State (8)
Expiration date: Oct. 17, at Michigan. If this comes to pass, the Mitten may lose its mind. But which team is playing better football at the moment? The Wolverines.
Ohio State (20)
Expiration date: Nov. 28, at Michigan. And if it comes to this, Lord have mercy on the scarlet and gray.
I think the Lord's already done plenty for Ohio State, thanks. We have to fire our coach for blatant cheating—oh look Urban Meyer is tanned, rested, and ready. Hooray.
Dadrock is everywhere. The HarPod dominates all sports.
As basketballs bounced on the hardwood, the arena filled with noise: "You get up every morning from your 'larm clock's warning, take the 8:15 into the city."
Yes, Michigan basketball's official opening practice of the 2015-16 season actually included Bachman Turner Overdrive's "Takin' Care Of Business."
The Dads. They are rocking.
Quinn also has some useful takes from the open practice:
Speaking of Robinson, yes, he's as advertised. The redshirt sophomore can shoot — really shoot — from all over. It's effortless; more net than rim. As Derrick Walton Jr. told us before practice, "Like, it's weird when he misses."
Now all that Robinson has to prove is that he can get off his shot in live action, defend on the other end, and rebound his space. As for the athleticism question, Robinson rose up and tossed in an ally-oop with ease on Friday. He can jump. Quickness? I'm not sure yet.
I don't know where he got the impression Doyle had any baby fat; guy was as built as I've ever seen a freshman post at M. IIRC his tendency to become exhausted was more because he was constantly ill last year.
It's back! Jim Hackett has resumed wearing his I Got Harbaugh outfit.
— Kurt Svoboda (@ksvoboda) September 30, 2015
This is a welcome development.
Etc.: Russell Bellomy departs UTSA. "A retrospective on Tom Crean's mediocre sext game." A history of moved Michigan games. Aubrey Dawkins oh man oh man oh man. Official site stuff on the Yost renovations. Gary Danielson being himself. ESPN adopts a sensible strategy for game overlap.
One year ago. Not quite today. But close:
— Alejandro Zúñiga (@ByAZuniga) September 30, 2014
The beginning of the end and the beginning of the rebirth. The Daily's Jake Lourim takes the opportunity to look at Jim Hackett's tenure:
Schlissel said student backlash went “beyond having a football team that didn’t achieve a record that met people’s expectations.”
“It was part of the issue, why people were anxious, but it wasn’t the main issue,” he told the Daily in September. “I think, what people felt was, football in particular and perhaps the other sports were becoming more distant from the campus. That they were becoming more of an enterprise and less of an activity. I think our non-athlete students … felt estranged — they felt like customers.
“I think we’ve gone a long way in the months since … to reset the way the Athletic Department views its role on the campus,” he added.
Schlissel is in charge of things for a reason.
Save a garbage bag, bring a poncho. The Maryland game is going to be in the vicinity of tropical storm Joaquin. How close is going to mean the difference between a nice night and seeing Jake Rudock hit in the face with a soaked, flying cat. Monday's storm track was looking pretty ominous for the football game; Tuesday's is less so:
— Shawn L. Martin (@ShawnLMartin) September 29, 2015
The Monday track had the storm right off the coast of DC at 8 PM Saturday. Worth keeping an eye on still. A thunderous downpour would be advantage Maryland in the same way playing checkers instead of chess is advantage Borges:
Heavy rain may be a positive for Maryland, who averages an interception once every 10 pass attempts.
— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) September 29, 2015
So they've got that hypothetically going for them.
Whoops. When Vegas put out a Michigan –11.5 line for this game, I thought "that seems low." Maryland fans glumly asked if that was a first-quarter line. And sure enough, that line was pounded until it was pulled off the board and returned at M –14.5. Even now only a couple of books are offering a line at all, and the "consensus" is M –16.
A move that big suggests that Michigan and Maryland combine to break whatever models are used to set lines—possibly because the amount of deviation from preseason expectations for both overwhelmed them.
Mark Messner tribute. From Wolverine Historian:
Keep that anger inside where it can be used to hit people hard. The prospect of getting trash-talked by BYU is appealing. In my experience Mormons have the ability to turn an innocent word into the vilest thing you've ever heard with their intonation. When you don't swear the swears leak into the rest of your language; it's quite a trick. So when I wonder what might have made Jabrill Peppers mad on Saturday…
For whatever reason, Michigan's redshirt freshman defensive back found himself on the receiving end of an unusual amount of trash talk Saturday early on against BYU.
He did his best to ignore it, and almost engaged once. But, ultimately, his pads prevailed.
And by the time Peppers wrapped up and, literally, tossed 6-foot-5, 225-pound receiver Terenn Houk out of bounds just before halftime, the talking had officially stopped.
"We play between the whistle, so I'll try to hurt you as much as I can between the whistle," Peppers said Monday. "Especially if you're jawing at me. ... (They were saying) things I can't repeat on camera.
"I just let my pads speak for me, that's how I react to that."
…I hope it's "I welcome this upcoming athletic contest" twisted into a pulsating black sphere of hate.
Also: Harbaugh banning trash talk is 1) amazingly hypocritical and 2) another anger factory. I don't want to hear about how this country "used to make things" when Jim Harbaugh is the world's #1 exporter of harsh feelings.
Side note. Who taunts Happy Fun Peppers? That seems just amazingly unwise.
It is your destiny. So my Hackett statue concept is that he's wearing the outfit he's got on in that shot of Harbaugh exiting the plane at Detroit Metro and he's got a microphone in one hand that he has just let go.
Michigan interim athletic director Jim Hackett agreed with Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly on Saturday, speaking on Michigan's pregame radio show, saying he'd like to see the Wolverines and Fighting Irish resume their rivalry.
In fact, he believes it's "destined" to happen.
"Nothing has happened in that regard from my desk," Hackett said. "But the way I think about the Notre Dame thing is, that's a rivalry that should be restored and it's destined to have that happen.
"The challenge is making the schedules work. Because of television, because of the Big Ten having 14 teams. We've got to find holes in the schedule."
I think that would be a good statue.
Surprise! Larry Brown got hit by the NCAA with a suspension and SMU was banned from the postseason this year.
SMU has been hit with a postseason ban for this season & Larry Brown suspended for 10 percent of this season’s games, source told ESPN.
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) September 29, 2015
It turns out that SMU academic support was doing coursework for the players. Sun round, full of hot bits. Michigan travels to SMU on December 8th.
Five are in a dark black. Eighty are in a slightly darker black. PREPARE THYSELVES
ANN ARBOR -- Maryland will be sporting its "Black Ops" alternate uniforms when it hosts No. 22 Michigan on Saturday, according to InsideMDSports' Ahmed Ghafir.
Maryland is 0-2 while dressing in tactical garments, having lost by a combined score of 78-29. The Maryland football team is on the verge of seriously pissing off America's most dangerous special forces troops.
Spartan injuries. No information forthcoming:
Dantonio says there have been no new season-ending injuries. Jack Conklin, Josiah Price, RJ Williamson all left last week's game #spartans
— Kyle Austin (@kylebaustin) September 29, 2015
Conklin is an OR on the most recent depth chart.
Hart profiled. Via the Daily:
“All I knew was, kind of, Michigan,” Hart said. “With Coach English, Lloyd — that’s the only way that we did things. And not bad things. But I needed to open my horizons.”
For Fleck, hiring Hart wasn’t a tough choice. Being Michigan’s all-time leading rusher bought him instant credibility with recruits, and Fleck had already been hearing rave reviews about Hart from prospects.
“(They said), ‘Mike Hart, I love Mike Hart.’ That’s what I continued to hear on the recruiting trail,” Fleck said.
Hurst profiled. Via Brendan Quinn:
But this isn't about who wasn't there and what hasn't been in Maurice Hurst Jr.'s life. This is about what's been there all along.
Nicole Page will board a flight tonight to watch her son play football.
"As long as I can see him a couple of times a month, I'm good," she says. "But it's still tough. I miss him all the time."
Uncharacteristically blunt. Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby has always come off as one of the smartest guys in college football's administrative class and his recent comments on the unionization drive the NRLB essentially punted on are going to prove prophetic, I bet:
“I’m glad the unionization process has cooled for right now,” Bowlsby said. “But the fact is — and it probably will be in the sport of men’s basketball — there will be a day in the future when the popcorn is popped, the TV cameras are there, the fans are in the stands and the team decides they’re not going to play. Mark my words. We will see that in the years ahead. We saw some of it for other reasons in the ’70s, but I really believe that we aren’t finished with the compensation issue or with the employee-vs.-student issue.”
The right combination of ornery dudes and it will happen. If the Fab Five happened today it would be them, for sure.
Bowlsby still comes from a point of view so blinkered that he's startled when a Big 12 athlete tells him that he feels like an employee, but at least he's able to accept that fact and start communicating why that is the case and what that means in the near future. So many NCAA administrators are busy trying to shore up a dike that's about to bust; Bowlsby is trying to whittle a canoe.
Etc.: Is that bad, Bret Bielema? Basketball depth is deep: how will they use it? This is not at all unreasonable. Harbaugh marriage advice is exactly what you'd expect. Texas fans have gone Falling Down on the reffing in the Oklahoma State game. Wheatley to Rose Bowl hall of fame. Top analytics articles. Mud Bowl on the rocks but apparently still a go.
Jay Paterno and saying things: a terrible combination. On this day we remember the Salem Witch Trials on twitter.
Despite years passing-many recent events remind us that in many ways human nature is little changed from the time of the Salem Witch Trials
— Jay Paterno (@JayPaterno) September 22, 2015
This is the reason the reaction gif was invented. There is no combination of words that can adequately express the feeling reading this tweet produced in me. The Germans probably have a word for a paralyzing combination of horror and laughter induced by a stunningly wrong decision or statement.
/scans German dictionary
So this tweet filled me with klinsmann.
BONUS: hoo boy if you like terrible things, the tweet thread is your jam.
I am filled with klinsmann by this tweet as well. The Colts are in play!
Is there a dollar figure for which Jim Harbaugh would leave Michigan for the Colts after one year, and would Jim Irsay offer it?
— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) September 22, 2015
This offseason is going to be awesome as every NFL reporter insists Jim Harbaugh is a candidate for every open job in the league. Harbaugh for the Colts. Harbaugh for the Lions. Harbaugh for league president. Harbaugh for assistant Ravens janitor.
Harbaugh might leave someday, but only after he's done something that allows him to do so saying he's done his job. And after his experience with San Francisco's little Napoleon my bet is he picks the place where he's the most important crazy person around.
Just Dayton and Michigan. Kyle Flood might coach most of college basketball.
The Harbump. Via Brendan Quinn:
According to the most up-to-date numbers provided to MLive by Dunn, Michigan's overall season ticket sales have risen from 79,014 in 2014 to 89,614 in 2015, a difference of 10,600 seats.
A big chunk of that comes from 7k extra students, which is pretty amazing. That section is 60% larger than it was a year ago. I wonder what it would have looked like without the drastic changes wrought by the Glorious Revolution. Hint: bad.
There was a chunk of complaining about student attendance against UNLV, but to me it looked pretty full after kickoff. Students tend to cram down; you didn't see the empty pockets in other sections solely because other folks spread out when given the room to do so.
A problem that 'Bama wants to address. It's no surprise that Alabama fans are peeved about ineligible men downfield in the aftermath of the Ole Miss game. I share that peevishness. Despite the fact that illegal men downfield is a "point of emphasis" this year, the biggest game of the early season sees a flagrant example of it go uncalled.
You get three yards in college but just one in the NFL, and you'll never guess the one weird trick RBR would like to impose on college football:
Personally, I think this rule change should be revisited. College offenses already have more latitude than their NFL counterparts on passes thrown behind the line of scrimmage - in college, linemen may drift as far as they like on the snap in these situations, while in the NFL they must stay within their one-yard window until the pass is released - so the only real effect of the rule change would be to require the pass to be delivered in the backfield. This makes sense, as the linebackers are given a fighting chance to rally to the football after it is caught and prevent a big gain. Assuming that such a rule change is a non-starter, and that better enforcement is the goal, the best solution would be to somehow incorporate instant replay.
I would like to see what the game looks like with an effectively implemented three-yard rule first. But since that seems impossible it might be better to do away with the rule altogether and just call offensive pass interference on any lineman who hits or impedes anyone other than a defensive lineman on a pass play beyond the line of scrimmage. That might be more enforceable—and the penalty would be much stiffer.
(A side note: do not title your post that is intended to be serious "A Modest Proposal.")
He was tranquilized shortly thereafter. Nik Stauskas wandered onto a local news set.
— Jennifer Mota (@motajen) September 22, 2015
A Canadian one, I'm guessing.
Ibi Watson video. He can dunk.
Rutgers. I hate it when stupid things happen during the season because I can't write one act plays about them. The Kyle Flood thing is magnificently stupid. I'd rather look at football, but barely. If this happened in the offseason… well it probably still would have gotten drowned out by all the Harbaugh stuff, but I would have gotten around to it quicker.
Anyway. EDSBS surveys the wreckage and pulls out the nine dumbest things about the grade pressure scandal:
1. Kyle Flood Wants You To Know He's Breaking The Rules On Purpose
When Kyle Flood first reached out to this unnamed professor, he did so from his personal email account. It was entirely possible that he did so on accident, perhaps sending the email from his phone without realizing which account it was coming from. Of course, it was also possible he did so to purposefully avoid New Jersey's Open Public Records Act.
Great news! Now we don't have to wonder which one it was. This is one of the dumbest things I've ever seen committed to a permanent electronic record. It's like leaving a knife in your carry on bag at the airport with a note that says "LOL I KNOW THIS ISN'T COOL BUT WHATEVER."
That is not even the worst one.
On the bright side, Flood is much better at hiding his inner Tim Beckman than Tim Beckman. You would never know Flood is barely capable of dressing himself based on his press conferences.
Are Rutgers blogs considering who their new coach should be yet?
Oh, well done. On The Banks is the most competent thing about Rutgers athletics by some distance.
This is blunt. Utah basketball coach Larry Krystkowiak gave some sort of lecture recently; in it he broke the omerta surrounding basketball recruiting:
"Did you know," Larry Krystkowiak asked in his Montana drawl, leaning over his lectern, "that there's a lot of cheating in college basketball?"
His earnest delivery prompted some chuckles among the audience of roughly 40 people. But Utah's men's basketball coach wasn't going to leave it hanging without telling a story. He asked two compliance officials if he could venture on.
The tale: He was once recruiting a top-level player, and the player (or his representatives) called Krystkowiak in the middle of the night. They told Krystkowiak the recruit's transcript would cost the Utes $50,000, and "it'll probably cost you $50,000 more to sign him."
Follow the recruits and you'll find the money. Again, all Michigan fans should be in favor of the NCAA paying players outright. Michigan has piles of money. They do not use it in this way.
BYU's walking wounded. BYU NT Travis Tuiloma is a big deal for the Cougars, and he went down in the same game Taysom Hill did. At the time he was expected to be out 4-6 weeks, but Bronco Mendenhall is making noises like he may be available this weekend:
Nose tackle Travis Tuiloma (knee) is also questionable for the Michigan game, a development that didn't seem likely when doctors said he'd be out 4-6 weeks after the Nebraska game.
"This will be a great week [for Tuiloma to come back] because we will see power [runs] about 5,000 times," Mendenhall said, having previously noted that the Wolverines under new coach Jim Harbaugh look like Stanford when Harbaugh was there.
That would be literally and metaphorically huge for BYU. Tuiloma is going to be in the NFL next year and they run a 3-4; he's the centerpiece of their D.
Etc.: Bo's steakhouse was a thing. Ian Bunting profiled. Falk on Harbaugh. We'll have an excerpt of his new book during the bye week, BTW. Jon Baxter with the fire tweet. Harbaugh wants to meet the pope. Leonard Fournette is living Bowser. Film Focus. Guards doing better.
Radio mishap. Sorry to streaming listeners who ended up getting a nonstop pile of ads about halfway through the show. We don't know what happened there; we've reached out to WTKA and they say that should not recur. Podcasts should be coming, possibly tomorrow. We're still working out the kinks.
RAGE now comes with official approval. The Big Ten said "whoops" on the punt flag:
Harbaugh asked the Big Ten for an explanation on the call, and during his radio show Monday night, said the league basically offered an apology for an officiating error.
"You just want to be able to know what to tell your team, that's why we ask, that's why we inquire," Harbaugh said. "Once the punter goes outside the tackle box, you don't know if he's a runner or he's going to punt the ball. He's afforded the same protection a quarterback would be when he's outside the pocket. If he throws the ball, he can be hit like a quarterback.
"They would've rather not thrown a flag on that. ... That's what they said."
They have not as yet apologized for the various other errors this crew inflicted on Michigan: the opening-play PI against Darboh is blatant, as is a hold on James Ross that sprung one of Oregon State's big runs on their touchdown drive. Michigan got hoooooosed on Saturday and still won 35-7.
Chris Brown on Power. An excellent primer on something Michigan's going to be running a ton of for the foreseeable future:
“There is nothing magical about the Power play,” Paul Alexander, the Cincinnati Bengals’ longtime offensive line coach, said at a coaching clinic in 2012. Almost every NFL team runs Power, though some (like the Seahawks, Vikings, Steelers, and Bills) will emphasize it more than others, and it has produced some of the most dramatic plays in recent memory, including Marshawn Lynch’s infamous Beast Mode run. The idea behind Power is as old as football itself, as having an overwhelming force at the point of attack was an obvious strategy as soon as someone first picked up a football; versions of the play pop up as far back as in Michigan coach Fielding Yost’s playbook from 1905. But NFL coaches have spent the past 20 years tweaking and adjusting the play, and now the proper form is gospel.
Brown details the various responsibilities the players have. This one in particular is something De'Veon Smith had trouble with in week one:
Running back: Veteran NFL offensive line coach Mike Solari, who’s currently with the Green Bay Packers, says he prefers to tell the running back to “read the alphabet: Read from the playside A to B to C to D gaps for a running lane.” But the running back’s real key to success on Power is to let the blocking develop. “People ask me what I tell our running backs,” said Shaw at the 2013 clinic. “Mostly what we tell our running backs is [have] patience.”
He improved a considerable amount in week two.
Staples on the State of Michigan. SI's Andy Staples took in the doubleheader this weekend:
Graham Glasgow has just finished explaining the importance of pad level as it relates to play along the line of scrimmage—short version: the low man wins—when the Michigan fifth-year senior center says something telling. "I felt better in this loss," Glasgow says, "than I would after some of our wins last year."
Five days earlier, the Wolverines lost their season opener at Utah. Four days from now, Michigan will make its home debut under coach Jim Harbaugh against Oregon State. As Glasgow says those words, he stands in the Towsley Family Museum in Schembechler Hall. He is a few feet from the "Win Wall," a massive glass enclosure that, on this particular Tuesday, features a football representing each of Michigan's 915 all-time wins. In another part of the room, the words of former Michigan coach Fritz Crisler are carved into wood.
"Tradition is something you can't bottle. You can't buy it at the corner store. But it is there to sustain you when you need it most. I've called upon it time and time again. And so have countless other Michigan athletes and coaches. There is nothing like it. I hope it never dies."
Glasgow's words suggest that in 2014 Michigan's football tradition was dying.
Whole thing is worth a read.
This week in good quotes. Blake O'Neill quizzed about his modeling career:
"All sorts of things,"he said Monday at Michigan's weekly news conference. "Fashion modeling, catwalk, anything.
"I was a little budding Zoolander."
He does not have a "Blue Steel" look.
Who will I scoff at now? Texas deep-sixes Brandon 2.0:
University of Texas President Gregory L. Fenves is expected to fire embattled athletic director Steve Patterson, and the move could come this morning, a Houston-based source with knowledge of the situation told the American-Statesman.
Fenves and Patterson are meeting Tuesday morning, the Statesman learned.
It could bring an end to a tumultuous 22-month journey for the athletic department during which fans grew outraged over higher ticket prices and Patterson battled the perception that his cool demeanor simply does not fit UT’s style.
"Cool demeanor" is the nice way of saying it.
Good on Texas for dumping their version of the buzzword-spewing Emperor's New CEO after less than two years. That Patterson got himself fired after making what look to be excellent hires in both football and basketball speaks to just how hated he was by just about everyone. Justifiably. Hell, I have no connection to Texas whatsoever and I hated him because he was bad for college football, all of it.
Hopefully they've got a Hackett hanging around.
— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) September 15, 2015
That would be a terrible idea, but on the other hand I would no longer have to listen to him relentlessly praise every coach in every situation. ("Not many coaches would feed their quarterback to an alligator at halftime, Rece, but Tim Beckman is an innovative thinker.") I approve.
Oh right. The legend:
— Will Brinson (@WillBrinson) September 15, 2015
I'm sure that will last.
Injuries and more injuries and Rutgers. Michigan's gotten through the first couple weeks of the season without anything serious happening to their players; other than Bryan Mone they're as close to completely healthy as a group of people playing football can be. This is not the case for a number of upcoming Michigan opponents.
BYU is of course down Taysom Hill and relying on freshman-ish Tanner Mangum, who was a big recruit a couple years back and is just off his Mormon mission. On the other hand, that linebacker who bingle-bangled a Boise State player right in the dingle-dangle will somehow not be suspended—nice to not have a conference sometimes. Michigan players will have to keep an eye on the family jewels.
Minnesota has a number of guys out with relatively minor issues but may have lost WR KJ Maye to a broken rib.
And then of course Rutgers. Star WR Leonte Caroo was the latest Scarlet Knight to get arrested. He's been suspended indefinitely for an "altercation" outside the stadium Saturday night that resulted in a domestic violence arrest. What exactly went down is still unclear, but if you poke around On The Banks the impression their comments give is that Rutgers insider types think it's pretty serious and we may not see Carroo for a while. Oh and they didn't list Darius Hamilton on their most recent depth chart because he has an undisclosed injury of some variety. And of course five guys got arrested for armed robbery and transferred to Michigan State before the season started.
Rutgers fans are now calling this "their darkest hour," which may be true if the history of Rutgers football started with Greg Schiano. It does not.
Speaking of Rutgers. Julie Herrmann has a job! Still! She is employed and everything! She probably has a company car and a dental plan!
Unhappy Moeller. Via Dr. Sap:
How the Norfleet thing went down. Via the man himself:
“To be honest, everything caught me off-guard,” Norfleet said. “It just happened. (Harbaugh and I) weren’t seeing eye to eye. Nothing real big. We had disagreements but nothing serious. He thought I was going to be ineligible, and I wasn’t. He is real big on academics. That’s one thing I can say about Jim Harbaugh — he’s going to make sure these players are going to class.”
Norfleet said Harbaugh never told him he wanted him on the team.
“I never got that at all,” Norfleet said. “The only thing I got was, come back a semester to get a degree. Not play football. He wanted me to use my scholarship. I still love Michigan, though, as a whole. Sometimes, you’ve got to move on.”
Unfortunate all around, but it seems like Michigan was willing to have him around even if he wasn't going to play. That seems to have smoothed over things with Detroit King.
It's not a crisis if you complain about it every year and things are just fine. The only person more prone to complain about spread offenses than NFL scouts and coaches is Gary Danielson, and the arguments the NFL has are about as good as Danielson's:
…if current trends continue, NFL insiders say, quarterbacks who have the sophistication to outfox NFL defenses to deliver the ball to open receivers are “going to be on the endangered species list,” said Cleveland Browns coach Mike Pettine. “The quarterback may not be gone yet,” he added, “but if you have one, protect it.”
“It’s doomsday if we don’t adapt and evolve,” said St. Louis Rams general manager Les Snead.
These people are just in charge of things for no reason and should be given the Patterson/Brandon treatment. Half of the top ten rookie QB seasons in NFL history have come since 2011. Those five seasons came from Robert Griffin, Russell Wilson, Teddy Bridgewater, Cam Newton, and Mike Glennon. Three of those guys came from out-and-out spread offenses. After one game Marcus Mariota looks set to join them.
A parade of general managers, like Pittsburgh’s Kevin Colbert, think that if the current model holds, the notion of drafting a quarterback to start right away will need to be scrapped.
Cleveland’s Farmer has one idea: What if you could design an offense to minimize the passing deficiencies of modern quarterback prospects?
WHAT WOULD THAT EVEN LOOK LIKE?
Etc.: Mike Riley literally has his team yelling "hip hip hooray" after games. Flanders, the coach. Local news talking with El Harberino. Jake Lourim with a longform on ECA, Freddy Canteen and Brandon Watson's school. Wide pin down. Harbaugh profile (autoplaying audio warning). SMH NCAA. UNLV is not good. Holdin' The Rope.