USE THE FORCE JIM. Daily article on Harbaugh's mentors with them all lined up…
…and the mind instantly puts them in this:
Sorry, Mr. Carr. Shouldn't have stood in the center.
MATTISON IS PRETTY MUCH IN. Man is still recruiting:
Isaac Nauta (@inauta24) said he talked to Greg Mattison: “He said I know you’re committed, but we’re going to recruit you until you sign.”
— Jeremy Crabtree (@jeremycrabtree) January 1, 2015
GET THIS MAN A TATTOO. Mark the Nomad has got to get some ink:
He's looking for the internet to fund it, in order to slightly reduce the chance this results in a divorce.
FIFTH YEAR OPTIONS. A quick glance at the roster will tell you that Michigan should be in the market for a graduate transfer QB. Their current options are either freshmen, Russell Bellomy, or Shane Morris. The former two have never played in college; the latter two have struggled immensely when they've gotten in the game. So this bit of news is intriguing:
A redshirt junior on track to graduate in June, [the Chicken Bowl] was probably [Kevin] Hogan’s last shot in a Stanford uniform. He hasn't addressed whether he'll return for his final year of eligibility, and head coach David Shaw intimated that Hogan didn't want to discuss it before the end of the season.
Harbaugh recruited Hogan, and he's obviously got he academic chops to make a smooth transition.
Hogan wasn't a world-beater this year (or he wouldn't be transferring) but he did finish with a 66% completion rating, 7.9 YPA, and a 19-8 TD-INT ratio. He's also a decent runner. He would almost certainly be an upgrade on Michigan's current options, and he knows the offense.
Another option: Everett Golson. Golson dropped off a cliff at the end of this year, as he turned into a turnover machine and split time with Malik Zaire in the bowl game. ND insiders and message boards are rumbling about a potential departure. If I had to bet I'd say he returns to ND, but keep an eye out if he doesn't.
DISCOUNT STILL IN EFFECT. Moe's is taking advantage of an opportunity with an enthusiasm unknown to retail-activation-kind.
AND SUDDENLY YOU'RE A FREE AGENT. Bills coach Doug Marrone has a bizarre window built into his contract that allows him to opt out at no cost… one he's just exercised. This puts his assistants in serious limbo, one of whom is Tyrone Wheatley. Even before this happened a lot of Michigan folk suspected that Wheatley would end up in Ann Arbor; now it seems highly, highly probable.
ALL THIS COULD HAVE BEEN OURS. LSU fans have always been turning on Les Miles, but now the knives are well and truly out. Miles is losing DC John Chavis to a megaoffer from A&M, leaving LSU scrambling to keep their defense as good as it needs to be to keep the wonky Tiger offense from submarining seasons.
ADDING TO MOUNT NFLWRONG. He hates recruiting!
Every old coach/staffer/whatever I've ever talked to who knows Harbaugh has ranted about how much he actually enjoys recruiting.
— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) December 31, 2014
His wife didn't want to come!
Was just talking to @IronsJarrett when Harbaugh's wife stopped to chat...she mentioned her shock re: rumors she wouldn't leave the Bay Area.
— angelique (@chengelis) December 30, 2014
His heart is in the NFL!
York, though, would not shed any light on what was said in those discussions, saying they were "private" in nature, though he did acknowledge that teams had inquired about trading for Harbaugh, and Harbaugh was not interested.
It was all about the money!
Jim Harbaugh told Hackett he did NOT want to be the highest paid coach in CFB, or even the Big Ten. More concerned with pay for assistants.
— John U. Bacon (@Johnubacon) December 30, 2014
NOPE. If you were wondering if Devin Funchess would return to the team because Harbaugh, your answer is no:
Just met coach harbaugh...Wish him the best with Team 136! Great guy glad he got the job #goblue
— Devin Funchess (@D_FUNCH) December 31, 2014
He'll be a first or second round pick in the draft even with the disappointing finish to his year.
WHAT ON EARTH. There is a woman named Ann Arbaugh who lives in Ann Arbor. And she's…
The Ohio State graduate said she hasn't abandoned her Buckeye roots, and that she's become an Ann Arborite but not quite a Wolverine-lover.
…an Ohio State graduate. Life is weird.
COLTS ON HARBAUGH. They didn't think he was a total weird megalomaniac:
"I've read about that side of him, but that's it," Ward says. "He was not thought of in that way (here), and it doesn't characterize Jim as we knew him. He was intensely competitive, absolutely, but he was a great team player and scrappy and always, always battling for the team."
Indianapolis fell in love with Harbaugh, in part because he was the anti-Jeff George, a superstar talent whose less-than-superstar results and aloof air – think Jay Cutler – rubbed people the wrong way. Jeff George was not what the city of Indianapolis craved in a leader. Jim Harbaugh was, and he gave this city what it loved.
There was the 1995 AFC championship game against the Steelers in Pittsburgh, when the Colts trailed 20-16 in the final minutes and Harbaugh was bleeding from a torn hand and still leading the team down the field before his final pass, a heave into the end zone, bounced away from Colts receiver Aaron Bailey.
"I remember blood dripping from his hand," Ward says, "and he singlehandedly pretty much drove the team within inches of winning that game."
PODCAST TOMORROW. Hooray. Also we'll do a twitter Q&A/presser thing.
THANKS FOR PLAYING. Countable coaches are also not a priority at the Free Press.
— Brian (@BKudron) December 29, 2014
Yes, you have already seen this six times today.
INTENSITY. One, tiny Jim Harbaugh looks exactly like my brother did at the same age. Two, he was always Jim Harbaugh.
— Rachel Lenzi (@RLenziBlade) December 29, 2014
THIS IS PROBABLY NOT GOING TO HAPPEN AGAIN. But I wouldn't put it past him.
LOOKS PRETTY HATED TO ME YOU GUYS. The early-season word in the NFL was that Harbaugh's act had worn thin with NFL players and that he was widely hated in the locker room. That appears to be attempted spin by the Niners management as they attempt to cover for their decision to axe the fifth-winningest coach in NFL history:
This is not at all what it was said to be.
— Ryan Leong (@RyanLeong) December 29, 2014
In the aftermath of Harbaugh's departure Niners players tweeted out seemingly heartfelt things about how they'll miss him. They gave him the game ball. I was struck by how Harbaugh lit up when someone in the room for his final presser asked about Frank Gore's performance in San Francisco's season-ending win over Arizona. "THANK YOU!" he exclaimed before praising Gore as a true competitor.
It was reminiscent of Harbaugh's reaction in the aftermath of Stanford's stunning upset of USC in 2007: approached by ESPN, he said "don't talk to me, talk to Pritchard," his third-string QB who led the team to victory. So they did. The guy is a nut but he's a team-focused nut.
If the YOU DON'T SAY meme didn't exist we'd have to invent it. I mean.
Jim Harbaugh and 49ers have mutually parted ways, per source.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 29, 2014
Schefter is still the last guy dying on NFL hill (well, maybe not the last), saying that Michigan official "believe" Harbaugh is coming back with them today and continually saying things like Michigan boosters were "told" that it's happening while still saying that NFL teams are pursuing. Schefter will probably tweet "Raiders officials plan to meet with Harbaugh after this press conference ends" on Tuesday.
And ESPN is simultaneously trying to credit him with breaking the story. Cumong man.
Do you even read what you write? Ray Ratto:
People will immediately seek out informers at Stanford, where Harbaugh wore out his welcome on a college setting, as well as he did with the 49ers.
Many people will yell at him for being a dumbass on twitter, and Ratto will blame the people yelling at him. I have a feeling that Stanford might have consented to a fifth year of Harbaugh.
He may know Michigan, but he cannot truly own Michigan. He didn’t own Stanford when he helped bring down USC, and he only owned the 49ers until the smell of a new stadium got into York’s lungs. And his history of wearing on players is well and often told, loudly enough to show him that he has to find another, more contemporary, gear.
Tell that to Frank Gore, and a lot of people:
Iupati said things got pretty emotional after Harbaugh and his players had what Harbaugh termed a "discussion" in the locker room after the game.
As usual, Harbaugh concluded the talk with everyone huddled in the middle of the room, a hand raised in the air and thrust toward Harbaugh's hand as he asked, "Who's got it better than us?" And everyone replied "Nobody."
"That was awesome," Iupati said. "I will remember that for the rest of my life. We're going to miss him. I'm going to miss him."
The other narrative. Now that Harbaugh's exited the NFL, the narrative switches from "never happen" to "there weren't any suitable openings" and "he's going to leave immediately anyway." Florio:
He wanted to stay in the NFL, but with no viable options paying him at or near $8 million and Michigan ready to give him the keys to the financial kingdom, it appears that Jim Harbaugh will indeed become the next coach of the Wolverines.
Please. If Harbaugh wanted to stay in the NFL he wouldn't be on a plane today. He wouldn't have told Michigan he was coming a week ago. He would be waiting to see what the casualties were on Black Monday, and possibly having his agent hint, oh, 20 or so NFL teams that if they axed their guy he would come. As Braves and Birds put it:
Yes, NFL insiders, after being consistently wrong about Harbaugh to Michigan, I am interested in your opinions on how long he'll stay.
— Michael (@BravesAndBirds) December 29, 2014
Tangential Harbaugh. Via Dr. Sap, Gerald Ford with Bo, 1976:
PEAK WEINREB. As Michigan struggled, Michael Weinreb carved out a cottage industry for himself rewriting the same column about how Michigan is old and fusty and arrogant and not too good at football, all the while coolly ignoring the fact that similar criticisms could be made about Penn State at deafening volume levels. So it is right and just that he's the guy Grantland called out of the bullpen to throw shade on the Harbaugh hire. This covers all the bases:
I would worry that Harbaugh is doing this for the money (a reported $48 million over six years, which would make him the sport’s highest-paid coach) or out of some misguided sense of obligation to his alma mater.
Weinreb is concerned that Harbaugh is doing this for money and that he is not doing this for money. I think he's got us on that one.
I look forward to the next one of these. My almanac says it should be in the immediate aftermath of the Spring Game.
Etc.: Probably legit post from a Harbaugh son about what went down with the Niners. Nick Baumgardner could teach some NFL folks the three words that lead his column. All your Harbaugh weirdness documented. Manning is still around, if that means anything. Best And Worst! Top 5 Harbaugh games. Five reasons this is awesome for neutrals.
Slidin' in your DMs like... Via Ace:
Oh, no reason. Wolverine Historian with a two-part Harbaugh tribute:
Hire this man. I would seriously give Ryan Van Bergen a job in the athletic department today:
"In my opinion, and this is going to upset some people, there have been times last three, four years, the environment has been almost toxic with the negativity surrounding the program," Van Bergen said.
"Everything about Michigan poises it for success. The things that obviously are contributing to our recent misfortunes have nothing to do with if we're able to recruit and our facilities. There is blame to be shared among everybody — players, coaching, administration and fans. Everybody who supports the Michigan program needs to evaluate how they're doing it. If they're being negative about it, change that."
Van Bergen has credibility as a guy who's been under all three of the recent regimes, was willing to tell it how it was when Hoke was there, had a superior senior year under Hoke, and will be honest about the issues facing the program even if they're inconvenient.
One less way we can differentiate ourselves from Ohio. This is potentially lame:
Michigan student-athletes at public universities would not be allowed to unionize under state collective bargaining laws if a bill introduced Tuesday in the Michigan House of Representatives becomes law.
House Bill 6074 would require all student-athletes be classified as “students” and keep them from becoming employees of universities. Because the student-athletes could not be classified as public employees, they would not be entitled to representation or collective bargaining rights under state law.
I'm not sure if that's the way the law-type thing works. Seems like work is work and a legislature can't wave a wand and declare it not so, but I'm just a common sense type guy, not a law-talkin' one. The guy who sponsored this legislation has the usual mish-mash of non-sequiturs—most college athletes don't go pro in their chosen sport—and false dichotomies—is college about getting an education or making money—in its defense, and I dislike him.
Well, yeah. Fred Jackson in the aftermath:
"I expected a decision to be made today, but I didn't know which way it was going, one way or the other, I had no idea," Jackson said reporters. "I didn't really expect it. I know we didn't play as well as people would like to see us play. I also understand that it's all about winning and losing.
"We didn't win enough games."
Ah, Fred. In four sentences he says 1) he had no idea, 2) he didn't expect it, and 3) they didn't win enough games. Truly a closing statement worthy of a man with sixteen different beverages on his desk, telling you that every back he ever coached was Adrian Peterson on top of a surly dinosaur.
Engineers in the marching band, you say? I am subscribing to your newsletter.
Nooooooo. David Jones has an entertaining article on the enormous, ridiculous Land Grant trophy, which is just getting to the age where its ridiculousness is a real asset instead of a detriment. Jones details its origin story…
When Hoffman picked up the shiny new Land Grant Trophy from a local Lansing sporting goods shop in 1993, he realized it wasn't quite what he'd pictured:
"I thought, 'My God, that's big.' I'll take the blame for it being so big and heavy," said Hoffman when reached on Tuesday in Cleveland where he's in semi-retirement.
The shop owner, whose name escapes Hoffman 21 years later, had taken all of the specifications and come up with something like a paneled rec room from the 1970s with knickknacks and photos attached to it – a Nittany Lion figurine mailed by Thalman, a Sparty gladiator statuette, a generic gold football player tacked on top, photos of Old Main and MSU's counterpart building – all built into a boxy wooden structure. And it had these decks and levels built onto it, like a committee kept deciding to add more stuff.
…and then suggests the thing might not be long for this world:
Alas, I come to you today with a heavy heart. Because I've been informed by powers greater than I that the end may be near for the LGT. For many of us, we'll feel as if an old friend is moving away. A particularly ugly old friend. It's going to be like comedians saying goodbye to Dan Quayle.
But Penn State officials have, as officials like to say today, "reached out" to Michigan State officials about the future viability of the LGT, "moving forward." When you have a traveling trophy, it's probably best that it can be transported in something other than the bed of a semi-tractor trailer.
To which I say fie. The Land Grant trophy may be the ugly duckling of the trophy world, but it has a charm the "Freedom Trophy" lacks. Keep it.
I know problems. You have problems. Interesting Tim Kawakami article on the dysfunction in the 49ers front office, which is far from all Harbaugh:
York doesn’t like talking to the local media (but Harbaugh’s camp is sure York loves secretly talking to the national media and I can’t disagree with Harbaugh’s camp on that).
Baalke despises almost all media–Baalke really doesn’t like most people, period. He’s a pure scout, cold, clipped, anti-social and often angry.
That works tremendously in the film room or out on the road scouting (Baalke probably is on the road more than any GM in the NFL), but maybe not so well when personalities and philosophies have to be managed.
Oh, and you might’ve heard that Harbaugh is volatile and occasionally crazed. That Harbaugh actually likes it better when things are rattled and people are on edge, all the better to find out what his associates are made of.
Well, Harbaugh has found out exactly what York and Baalke are made of. And they’ve made their decision on him.
Good luck with that, guys.
Etc.: Player react twitter roundup. Almost all about how Hoke was a great dude without any shots at the decision or fanbase. Timely M Heritage article about dudes against football back in the day. Orson goes to Tallahassee. At least Hoke recruited really well. Tinder trolling is now a thing.
Does anyone ever check anything? No? Okay. This exists.
— David Adrian (@davidcadrian) November 12, 2014
Michigan needs to have a twitter feed in which they ask everyone if this thing they're about to do is a bad idea.
Speaking of things that exist without being checked that should not exist. Oh man the takes coming out of the Free Press after Frank Clark's dismissal are super super hot:
The Free Press must have a logic puzzle as part of their hiring process. Anyone who figures it out fails.
This, by the way, this is a great example of the pointless moralizing I was talking about. Seidel doesn't give damn about whether Michigan officially dismissed Clark on Sunday or Monday, he's just complaining to show off how impressively ethical he is. Barry Petchesky just had an excellent piece on how the NFL is using Adrian Peterson to repair The Brand:
3. This is a pure PR play on the part of the NFL, and it's almost too cynical to be believed. The league had been reeling from widespread criticism of its eagerness to co-opt the legal process and its inability to sensitively or sensibly handle morality. Peterson—a black-and-white villain—was a blessing. Maybe a bad man, maybe a man who did bad things, he's a relatively uncomplicated figure, and the NFL was thrilled to have someone to position itself against. The NFL clambered over Peterson to regain the moral high ground it never actually deserved, and is using that platform to shout out, "We are strongly against the beating of children." This is the safest and most defensible position in the world. What we're seeing is the return of the soldiers-and-puppies-and-Pinktober NFL, barely months after the Ray Rice fiasco exposed that as a thin facade. There has been no meaningful change. The league is still beyond reproach, because it cares about the children.
Seidel roundly condemns domestic violence to create the appearance he's a rad dude; the only person served by his column is himself.
Fan appreciation day. At least they're trying. Michigan's announced a bunch of minor fan perks for the Maryland game, including some concession concessions and apparel discounts for season ticket holders. They're also allowing field access. That access is slated to start 30-45 minutes after a 3:30 game that looks likely to feature freezing rain—ain't nobody staying for that.
We've got photos of other stuff. We've been branching out our photos into non-revenue sports. Here's a SOON shot from volleyball's outing against Minnesota:
As always, mgoblog photos are Creative Commons licensed so you can use them. Just credit the photographer and link back.
Exit Will Muschamp. Florida axed him yesterday, and man the parallels here are eerie: Muschamp had a weird, horseshoe-flavored 11-2 year (his second; Hoke's first) before seemingly excellent recruiting collapsed in a pile of offensive ineptitude too intense to be believed. QBs in Gainesville and Ann Arbor disintegrated into quivering interception machines before our eyes; the defenses generally stood tall despite extremely adverse conditions; both teams mutated football never-before-seen piles of suck, despair, and hilarity.
Today they had a press conference in which Muschamp handled himself ably and everyone swore up and down he was the best dude. Earlier this year Spencer and I had an IM conversation about swapping coaches, and it turns out that's beside the point: Muschamp and Hoke are the same dude.
3. There is no limit to the variations of failure here. Muschamp was blown out at home on Homecoming by Mizzou, 42-13, and sniped by a late field goal, completing a 30-27 home collapse against LSU. Alabama could have scored 60 on the Gators, but got bored and politely declined the option in a 42-21 road humiliation. When Florida lined up for a late punt against South Carolina after the Gamecocks had already blocked a game-clinching field goal, the kick was blocked before the ball was ever snapped. Don't ever tell anyone you can't block a ball with your mind; Florida did it, and then handed it to South Carolina with a smile. The confidence in delivering losses was the only constant Florida had left, something it got down to some time after the worst loss in program history: a home defeat by Georgia Southern in 2013.
Did you forget that happened, the low point of lows for an entire era? He did that. Will Muschamp's signature loss of signature losses is him misspelling the word "fart" in spray paint across "The Birth of Venus." It's an atrocity almost admirable in its accidental, perfect malice. For the record, I think Will would spell it "p-h-a-r-t," because that's the funniest possible misspelling of the word.
With reports that Dan Mullen won't be of interest, my main regret about Florida pulling the trigger early is that Spencer got the jump on the one-sentence summation of the last four years:
11. In conclusion: RIP, Big Dumb Will Muschamp Football. In the end, you were too dumb to live and too ugly to mourn.
May Spencer find his Christmas tree stocked with Air Raid coaches, and may Will Muschamp migrate northwards to be Jim Harbaugh's DC.
Now everything will be fixed forever. The NCAA has taken the first and most important step towards being an organization that creates good in this world:
Rounds of 64 and 32 will return to being called the first and second rounds in 2016: pic.twitter.com/IO1NJH9mss
— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) November 17, 2014
Long national nightmare, etc.
Hockey stuff. I haven't said too much about the hockey team yet; I don't usually during football season because of time constraints and just the fact that I'm not that good at figuring out hockey even now and need some time to get my head around. I'm not much closer after Michigan's meh sweep of American International. Center Ice:
The problems started when the defensive pairings were changed again. The blueline predictably looked disjointed, pinching at the wrong times, getting caught out of position and allowing the Yellow Jackets to get countless odd man rushes on Zach Nagelvoort.
Michigan suffocated AIC by pressuring in the offensive zone for the majority of both games, but when the Yellow Jackets countered they easily found quality scoring chances. When the defense had their way on Saturday cutting down mistakes, Nagelvoort wasn't able to keep the puck out of the net and the Yellow Jackets were able to not just stay in the game, but put Michigan on the ropes early.
AIC is usually so bad that anyone within shouting distance of the tournament sees wins against them excised from their RPI because counting those games would actually lower it. These games were essentially exhibitions against a team much worse than the U18s, and Michigan duly dominated attack time and SOG.
I don't take much positive from it, though. On Friday AIC had three separate 3-on-1s and a half-dozen other odd-man rushes besides; on Saturday they played Michigan almost even through two periods. I'm at a loss to explain Michigan's play. They have piles of talent, certainly enough to scrape through if their back end was making moderate mistakes occasionally instead of enormous ones frequently. That's not the case, and then the offense has lacked incisiveness against anyone better than AIC since… since TJ Hensick left? It's been a long time since Michigan's had a guy like him.
So I don't know. Michigan is really behind the eight ball here, already, playing in a crappy conference with a 2-5 record in games that will actually matter when it's time to find tourney participants. Would Red hang on for that last year when Tech is 10-0(!) and headed for their best season since the 1980s, thus paving the way for Pearson to come back? I don't know, but that's what I'm thinking about now… not getting back to the tourney this year.
At least they're finally fixing the ice infrastructure? Yost's ice has been iffy for years.
Speaking of hockey. Arizona State(?!) announces they will add a D-I program. Like Penn State, they make the leap from ACHA power. ASU is a weird program to make the leap; there are no West Coast programs. The three Colorado outfits are the only schools even vaguely close. Even so I'd guess the NCHC snaps them up. Arizona State brings a bigger athletic profile than most of their members.
This is one of the benefits of the Big Ten's formation, by the way. That reorganized the western programs into three conferences instead of two. After CHA folded, programs that were considering hockey had a dubious future as an independent. Now there are spots for another dozen teams, as long as some of them are in the Big Ten.
Buffalo might be next, with Penn State benefactor and new Bills owner Terry Pegula potentially fronting the capital.
You used to know how to do this. Michigan scheduled a home hockey game for a football Saturday. That game is at 3:30. The hockey game is at 7:30. Remind me why I have season tickets again? Is it because I'm dumb? It feels like that's the reason.
Michigan never used to do this. Instead they would have the occasional Sunday matinee. New athletic director please save us. And stop running the ARE YOU FAN ENOUGH commercial for the hockey game the previous athletic director yanked out of our season ticket packages.
Etc.: Ray Taylor's baby has impeccable timing. Approximately 3k unsold seats for Maryland. Michigan catches another personnel break as freshman Maryland WR Juwann Winifree is suspended for Saturday. Old photos. Justin Meram gets a call-up to the Iraq national team. Dilly bar details.
Tonight! Or rather this afternoon. Evening? What is 5PM anyway? Ace is stopping by Tisch Hall to talk about his experience as a history major who made his way in the world. He's "ventured into the real world with remarkable success!" in fact.
Free dinner, too. And some other non-Ace persons you've never heard of like… uh… one of the co-founders of Zingerman's. Wow. Should have done history.
Gardner journey'd. It is bleakly appropriate that they took him to his now-closed high school.
The amazing true story of Gene Keady's combover. This is the best work Gregg Doyel has ever done: [UPDATE: now with link even]
"I had extensions," Keady tells me, at which point I put the phone down and started throwing up. OK, not really. But still. Extensions?
"Well sure," he says. "Men were just starting to get extensions, so why not?"
I've never known a man who had hair extensions.
"Now you do," Keady says.
Keady had twice-weekly appointments to keep is his 'do on the cutting edge of late night hair replacement commercials at $300 a pop. He is willing to admit this in a newspaper, so he is a better, more extended man than I.
Also, Keady's shotgun wedding sounds like it claimed all present, including said combover:
"Kelvin Sampson gave the bride away. The best man was Bruce Weber. He was the flower girl, too."
Neither was ever the same.
— Brendan F. Quinn (@BFQuinn) November 12, 2014
You can tell it's important because it has a screen-wide picture. Big ol' profile of John Beilein on MLive with most John Beilein thing about a big profile ever:
More than anything, he's one of the best college basketball coaches in America, creating a tug of war between the twilight of his days and the pinnacle of his career.
Here he is.
"So what is the point of all this?" Beilein asks, wondering why anyone would fuss to retrace his steps searching for who he actually is.
"Well, I just don't get it," he says. "I can't imagine why anyone would care."
I don't think we're getting memoir after he's done.
The amazing pfffffffttttt hahahaha. If this was true, Tim Beckman wouldn't have been allowed to coach the Illini at all.
Beckman says academic standards at Illinois are higher than other B1G schools. He says it's the biggest issue in recruiting for Illini.
— Dan Murphy (@DanMurphyESPN) November 11, 2014
"It took me two weeks to figure out how the door to my office works," continued Beckman. "That's how hard the academics are at Illinois."
AN ILLINI FAN VISITS TIM BECKMAN'S OFFICE
a short play in one act
FAN examines DOOR. FAN turns to BECKMAN.
FAN: "This is a normal door."
BECKMAN: "Cleverly disguised as a trick door!"
FAN: "THIS IS A REAL UNIVERSITY. WE INVENTED THE INTERNET BROWSER, YOU KNOW."
BECKMAN: "Real tricky doors, too."
FAN: /burns degree
How you dismantle Michigan State. SBN's Ian Boyd takes a look at a clobberin' MSU hasn't experienced since… well, Oregon. But not for a long time before that. OSU used a similar playbook:
They attacked the Spartan outside linebackers for playing the edge against the run:
The announcers highlighted the route combination but ignored the play action component that made the play a one-on-one matchup, where a missed tackle meant total breakdown. With pop and play-action elements attached to basic run plays, the Buckeyes are able to make the passing game simple for Barrett.
The play of his receivers has been huge as well. He never had to make a read on that throw, staring down his intended target. The sam linebacker is sucked in by the run action, leaving the safety and corner to account for the two receivers without help. The slot receiver runs a post route that the safety follows, which leaves the corner on an island playing press coverage against the outside receiver. Michael Thomas beats the corner with the inside move, and that's all she wrote.
The Buckeyes ended up getting the ball again before halftime and once again dialed up play action off zone slice.
This time, Ohio State caught the Spartans in a blown coverage. MSU uncharacteristically mixed a single-deep safety coverage on a non-blitz, and free safety Kurtis Drummond failed to get over the top in time to stop the deep post to the speedy Devin Smith.
The result of all this was Ohio State gaining 89% of available yards. Against Michigan State. Without Braxton Miller, Carlos Hyde, and four of last year's OL.
Some people are so bad at being people. Like Spaghetti O's tweeting about Pearl Harbor, here comes the most generic trophy ever assembled:
There's not actually a gallery. Don't click unless you enjoy useless activities. Wait… you probably do.
Cloak yourselves in that flag, marketing geniuses. Dan Wetzel manages to say the thing about all this military stuff without touching the third rail:
The Freedom Trophy? What is that? Was there ever any doubt in the freedom of Wisconsin or Nebraska? Has anyone tried to invade either place and establish totalitarian rule – we're looking at you Iowa.
Big Ten marketing person No. 1: This is ham-fisted and meaningless. Fans are going to make fun of us.
Big Ten marketing person No. 2: Call it the Freedom Trophy and say it honors veterans. The trophy will consist of two massive football stadiums merged together with an enormous American flag coming out of it. They can't make fun of that.
You don't like freedom? You don't honor veterans? You don't like big stadiums and big flags? You Pac-12 commie.
A lot of the time it feels like Honoring Our Heroes is done to have some of that military mojo rub off on whoever's doing the honoring. It's a way to signify you're a good person in the safest way possible, and is thus the place please-everyone rubes run to when they don't have any ideas. No coincidence that as people started hating on Dave Brandon more and more that the military tributes became a literally every-game occurrence.
Hooray Denard. Denard Robinson is a legit NFL running back after a difficult first year, and he did it in the Denard way:
Early in the offseason, Robinson knocked on the door of head coach Gus Bradley.
"I don't want to go through another season like that one," he told him. "Tell me what I need to do to get on the field."
Bradley laid out a plan for Robinson. The Jaguars believed Robinson, who weighed 194 pounds when he first reported, had the frame to carry considerably more weight. The diet and training program he embraced resulted in him getting up to 215, his current weight.
Next, they wanted to enable him to make his new muscle functional. In the offseason, Richardson worked with Robinson on running violently. Robinson was naturally elusive. Richardson wanted him to be able to combine elusiveness with violence. "We worked on using a stiff arm or shoulder drop in combination with making cuts," Richardson said. "I call it use of weapons."
It helps to be unreasonably humble at all times.
I guess we'll say he's outspoken. The quotable Larry Foote:
Foote said, "They better change up their recruiting. They better get some eyes in there that can find some NFL talent. Michigan better go back to the hood (recruiting). They've got too many trust fund babies and they look like that when they're playing. They've got guys out there – they're just happy. They're happy they're playing at Michigan. But that's not Michigan football; the attitude has to change."
When Stanford, Notre Dame, and even Duke have significantly outperformed Michgian of late I don't buy that argument. It's about what happens after the recruits get to school, not before.
Backlash backlash backlash backlash. It's turtles all the way down in the Penn State case. I remember being uncomfortable at the time with Penn State's punishment, because having the NCAA step in on such a heinous thing was like giving Charles Manson a traffic ticket.
But they did, and then one of the lawsuits still pending against the NCAA showed that officials were uncertain if they had the power to do the thing that they did. A lot of people went LOL NCAA at this, but I'm with John Gasaway:
You’ll also have to forgive me for not being troubled to find that NCAA staffers questioned whether they were doing the right thing. In fact I would feel far better about the process behind the Freeh Report, for example, if emails surfaced wherein investigators were fretting over whether they were really doing justice to Penn State president Graham Spanier. My worry is precisely that there are no such emails because there were no such qualms.
Whether it was a good idea or not, a bluff or not, Penn State signed the consent decree and took its steadily declining lumps. Was it PR to look like the NCAA doesn't accept the idea of harboring a Sandusky? Or was it the NCAA not accepting the idea of a Sandusky? They're the same thing.
Where are they now: Dave Brandon edition. A Domino's in Saginaw saw a tense standoff between a pissed-off customer and the manager devolve into a shouting match featuring these words from the manager:
Apparently a manager at the helm of this Saginaw, Michigan, Domino'scursed out a customer who confronted him over hanging up on her son. The kid reportedly complained after getting a lightly sauced pie instead of one with "white" sauce. Hence this exchange: "Did you come in for your money back? Because I really don't care about your opinion," the manager says.
I appreciate the fact that Brandon was trying to lessen the financial blow of his buyout by getting outside work, but maybe next time get a job that doesn't involve customer service.
Etc.: Saturday doesn't look any prettier in advanced stats. Jack Kennedy talks to the Big House Report about Saturday and Hoke's status. Sounds reasonable. Les Miles on… economics! Fired Domino's manager says some bad stuff at customer including "I really don't care about your opinion."
MVictors on Willie Heston.
A note. UFR tomorrow. Life things.
Open practice. Basketball had one, and it was fun. The most interesting segment was an "overtime" period in which a mostly first-team unit took on a mostly second-team unit, which one of our users got on the tubes:
Impressions on the new blood:
- DJ Wilson has the potential to greatly improve Michigan's defense. Maybe not this year, especially since they're running him out at the five some, but down the road. He's tall, has long arms, is bouncy, and has the lateral agility to check anyone approximately his size. He was about the only defender who was at all effective in a transition drill where the guy on D faces a 2 on 1. He's going to block a bunch of shots. Wilson played a significant amount of five with the next guy limited.
- Ricky Doyle was participating, but only in short bursts, skipping all the running (he did pushups instead) and mostly watching. He seems limited by some sort of injury. Michigan's going to need him by the time they go to Brooklyn—he's much bigger than Donnal and Donnal struggled to finish at the rim to the point where he was sent on a run up the steps. We might retroactively appreciate Jordan Morgan's finishing this year.
- MAAR is probably your third point guard if Michigan needs to dig that deep because of foul trouble or injury. He was able to penetrate to the lane several times, but like LeVert as a freshman he usually didn't have a great idea what to do after that happened.
- Aubrey Dawkins is inexplicable. The guy is 6'6" and can jump out of the gym. The fact he had to prep and then only had a Dayton offer before Michigan swooped in is hard to believe; a guy with his athletic package should have mid-majors and lesser power conference schools leaping to offer him even if he's never seen a basketball in his life. He's going to be a lot like GRIII, I think.
- Kam Chatman is smooth and skilled. Hard to get any serious impression of shooting ability in this brief window but he looked highly capable there—and that was supposedly his weak spot. Beilein will get you to shoot.
I forgot Duncan Robinson existed so I assumed the guy wearing 22 was a walk-on and didn't pay much attention to him; Hatch participated in some drills early but that was all.
One issue: the audio was severely distorted and made it impossible to hear anything. Hopefully they fix that if/when they do this next year.
Other open practice takes. Kyle Bogenschutz:
Most impressive? Michigan sophomore wing Zak Irvin. Irvin was just doing what Irvin does, knocking down threes from all over the perimeter and at an extremely high percentage. Of the opportunities Irvin had in live settings he didn’t miss many. Early of course and just practice but if Irvin is given some more looks like he had last year he will have a chance to lead the team in scoring despite LeVert being the most complete player on the team.
He also references Wilson's defensive upside.
Offensively, Chatman looks game-ready. The 6-foot-7 freshman is confident with the ball not shy about getting his shot off. Known as a smooth and methodical player, he had a little more bounce than anticipated. The questions for Chatman remain on the defensive end of the floor. Those will be answered with time.
A defense. What kind of argument to you have to make to get me to defend Dave Brandon? This kind:
Applying ESPN Grade To Michigan's Situation: Last Friday, Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon resigned under pressure from boosters and alums unhappy with the football team's decline from the Top 25 and with stadium renovations intended to provide luxury to the 1 percent. Added to the bill of attainder should be that Michigan looks bad on graduation rates. The football graduation rate under Brandon averaged 69 percent, which would be acceptable at some lesser schools but is embarrassing at an elite institution like the University of Michigan.
He later cites Northwestern's 97% grad rate so I know what numbers he is using: the NCAA's graduation success rate metric. The NCAA's GSR site has numbers up to the 2007 cohort, who gradated in May of 2011 if they took four years. That's barely a year after Brandon's arrival and is in no way representative of anything he did academically. Michigan's APR has hit Northwestern levels the last few years as they dig out from the Carr/Rodriguez botched transition, and the GSR will follow… in like five years.
Congrats, Gregg Easterbrook. You have found a bad way to argue for Dave Brandon's dismissal. They said it couldn't be done, but you did it.
Coming up empty. The Daily has an article on Michigan's document retention policy, or lack thereof:
Despite the fact that Michigan state law requires public bodies to “protect public records from loss, unauthorized alteration, mutilation, or destruction,” according to University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald, there is no University policy currently in place to ensure that employees retain communications in accordance with state-level regulations.
State law stipulates that public records be kept and disposed of in accordance with a formal schedule, which requires that correspondence be retained for two years after the date of its creation before it can be destroyed.
University officials, however, claim that on-campus regulations are separate and exempt from state law.
“It’s our policy that it’s up to individual users to determine their own document retention,” Fitzgerald said. “The University doesn’t have a set schedule.”
Daily FOIAs for Brandon emails between March 13th and 14th of this year and between July 24th and 26th of 2014 came up with "no responsive records"; the Daily was looking for correspondence on the Gibbons matter. I can add that I filed an FOIA for the specific date of the Have A Happy Life email and, like one of our users, it came back non-responsive as well.
Hilariously, the University is arguing that it is "not a formal part of state government" to justify this behavior… after repeatedly arguing in court that they are. In yet further evidence that the Michigan FOIA department is out of step with standard practice:
When the Daily submitted requests for e-mail archives of various other Big Ten athletic directors in mid-2014, representatives from MSU, the University of Iowa, the University of Wisconsin, the University of Nebraska, Purdue University and the University of Illinois responded with offers to provide the records. The University of Minnesota, Indiana University, Pennsylvania State University and Ohio State University did not respond immediately.
A lack of transparency is always in service to the people entrenched at the top of the institution and not the institution itself.
Boo, John Clayton, boo. Clayton on Olbermann:
In brief: Clayton asserts that Harbaugh's going to be somewhere else next year but it is likely to be an NFL team, not Michigan.
Etc.: The Big Ten is bad at hockey. Except for Minnesota. Hockey commit Kyle Connor is kind of a big deal, and explicit that he is going to honor his commitment. Derrick Walton is set to make a leap. Tom Crean wrecked his program. Smart Football has a glossary.