I did not make this headline up
Kind of a big deal. As of 9 PM Wednesday, this was SI's college football front page:
That is the lead story—a scathing roundtable from three of SI's main CFB writers—and six of the eleven top stories on the sidebar either about the Morris incident or tangential concerns (the OSU attendance thing).
STAPLES: Did Brandon throw Hoke under the bus, run him over, back up and run him over again? Or did he run him over three times? …
RICKMAN: Everyone in a position of power here is most concerned with protecting themselves, so they're passing blame around. "I didn't see it." "We didn't have enough evidence." Hoke's trying to keep his job. Brandon's trying to keep his job. At the crux of it, this is a person we're talking about. A kid who has his whole life ahead of him. And the best we can get out of an athletic department at one of the most prestigious football programs in the country is, "We should have done better."
This is awful on all levels. …
SCHNELL: I’m not going to accuse a coach of knowingly putting a player in danger, but I will say this: People in charge do some desperate things when they think they’re close to losing their jobs. As for Brandon’s role, it’s his athletic department, and the buck stops with him. If he’s going to take responsibility, ultimately, then he needs to hold a press conference and allow questions, not email out a few paragraphs long after most people have gone to sleep. That’s a coward’s way out.
I was not kidding about "scathing."
Speaking of scathing. Stewart Mandel:
I was pretty surprised to wake up Monday morning and find that Brady Hoke hasn't been fired yet. The poor performances are bad enough, but the disregard (and flimsy excuses) for player safety should've been grounds for immediate dismissal. Is there any good reason for having him finish the season? The only thing I can think of is recruiting, but come on. Everyone in the nation knows he's gone after this year.
-- William Daniels, Mt. Morris, Michigan
Well then I can only imagine how surprised you were to wake up Tuesday morning and find out that Shane Morriswas diagnosed with a concussion on Sunday but no one thought to inform the head coach by the following day.
The Morris situation has provided a mind-numbing window into the level of dysfunction within the Michigan athletic department. Hoke’s days were already numbered due to the program’s on-field deterioration into a poster for offensive ineptitude. The only way Hoke’s team is going to a bowl game this year is if there aren’t enough eligible 6-6 teams. The Morris story only intensified the level of outrage surrounding Hoke.
Mandel goes on to say the stuff about 5-0 and we're defending the guy, and I mean… come on. If this happens to a successful coach it is a strike but not one that dooms a regime, and a sizeable majority of the anger in the Michigan fanbase right now is directed at the athletic director for the ham-handed mismanagement everyone is citing.
Additionally in scathing. They asked Don Canham's widow what she thought:
“I just think it’s gone way overboard with the crazy music and Beyonce and Eminem and that sort of thing,” Canham-Keeley said. “I guess he’s trying to cater to the students but it’s obviously not working. For me the pageantry of the football game is the band coming out on the field and the tradition of the drum major.”
“I’ve narrowed it down to fireworks, flyovers and empty seats,” she said.
“To me it’s become a circus, and that’s not what it should be. I’m born and raised in Ann Arbor. I grew up with Michigan football. That’s not—to me—Michigan football.”
She goes into the Beyonce/Eminem stuff and you're like "oh she's just old" and then she immediately cuts to how the students aren't buying it and you're like that's a fantastic point I forgot you were Don Friggin' Canham's wife.
Yet more in scathing. USA Today's Christine Brennan calls for firing everybody:
…at a Monday news conference, Hoke said Morris did not suffer a concussion. He also said that he and Brandon hadn't discussed it.
But, after midnight early Tuesday morning, Brandon released a statement in which he said that Morris had indeed suffered a "probable, mild concussion," whatever that is.
Brandon also said that he had met with "those who were directly involved" since Sunday, which clearly would include Hoke, who of course said he hadn't talked to Brandon about it.
So the two are either not telling the truth or simply incompetent. Or perhaps both.
For Students complaining about $295 season ticket prices, that's about 1/3 price of NFL tickets ... Even bad NFL teams w/ no tradition
They're not just complaining. They're not going. Yelling at them about that doesn't fix the problem. The customer is always right, right? You wanted customers. Now you've got 'em.
The oracle speaks. Detroit media jihadist Jeff Moss likes to get on Wojo for not having strong takes, but the more reasonable you are the more people pay attention to you when you come down from the mountain and say NOPE. Wojo has done so:
Brady Hoke's fate was sealed before Shane Morris wobbled on the field, before the clumsy statements and misstatements, before every media outlet in America leapt on a juicy controversy complete with compelling video.
This is on athletic director Dave Brandon now, and if Hoke should be fired, likely after the season, Brandon should be, too.
That speaks volumes.
Meta-protest. I would like to protest this from Wojo's article, though.
A few hundred fans actually marched onto the lawn of Schlissel's campus house Tuesday night chanting for Brandon's dismissal. There's a mob outrage to this, which is uncomfortable.
It's not a mob until it does something unreasonable. About a thousand people peaceably assembled, talked/shouted at each other, and then dispersed. They wanted to make a point the only way they could, and did.
Actually being there was fun. One guy nearby exclaimed "this is so much better than a home game," and I don't know that he was saying that just because he wasn't watching a football team get its jibblies kicked in at the time. Once a random hero decided to start us all in the direction of the president's house there was more passion on display than these students get to express when Michigan's blasting music at them during every lull.
After, a clearly skeptical media guy came up to me and asked me some nasty questions—"do you think this stunt will hurt Brandon's ability to hire a new coach?" was his leadoff. I was taken aback by "stunt." A stunt is something an organization does for attention. This was the opposite, a movement so grass roots it was literally unorganized.
We want our athletic department back. If it's a mob it's got the most articulated complaints of any mob in history.
Also that guy with a megaphone takes a badass picture. Apparently he's a public policy senior:
Just lookin' at that dude like that is more leadership than Brandon's shown this week. #ThisGuy4AD
I LIKE DAN DAKICH. He had me on his show yesterday after I tweeted something jerky out in frustration at things Mike and Mike and Colin Cowherd were saying, and I appreciate the opportunity for a half hour segment, which you can find here. A couple of clarifications and omissions:
- Dakich thought some of my other examples of Brandon errors were petty, and they were, but that was the point. The things the hypersensitive Michigan fans have been complaining about for the duration of his tenure have come home to roost in a major way. This is how they handle everything, and there's no reason to expect they'll change.
- I don't think I said the Dakich-Burke combo was creepy. I said I was "off to patent a system that turns all color commentary into Dan Dakich hitting on Doris Burke" once; a podcast demanded that "this happens over and over again. GET A ROOM! ON MY TELEVISION!" And I think that's it. For the record, she was totally into him.
- Apparently my level was quite a bit lower than Dakich, so when we talked over each other it was just him. Our conversation felt a lot more even to me on the phone; I thought it was a good back and forth—I've had radio appearances that I thought were unfair (cough **ALBOM** cough); this was not one of them.
- Dakich really is my favorite color guy other than maybe Jay Bilas right now. The reasons he's good at color can make him come off as abrasive, but I'll take that a thousand times over PRIME TIME PLAYER BAYBEEE blather. I mean, there was one time Michigan was playing K-State where Dakich called one of their post guys out for never passing the ball and he never passed the ball. Every time he got a touch we were on the edge of our seat. That's adding to a broadcast.
- I didn't much like the part of the interview that slid into the Guys Like Me From Gary Who Are Adults versus You Guys On The Internet Who Are Beta Males. I have a mortgage, man, and 2005-era blogger cracks are so dated.
Anyway, if he's interested I'll gladly go on any time.
Well… that's not good. Bill Connelly's updated projections foresee this:
- 8-4 or better: 2.1%
- Bowl eligible: 35%
- 4-8 or worse: 33%
Michigan is expected to go 5-7 when all possibilities are jammed together.
And half of this is based on the system that was ranking Michigan 19th before last weekend. It's possible that this is a little grim since we'll probably play Gardner the rest of the way but with Utah losing to WSU it's not like we can even claim the Utes are much good.
Upshot: buy a helmet, and put it on top of your existing helmet. Then dig a bunker under your bunker.
SIDE NOTE: The chance the West winner is 4-4 has dropped to 0.1%. Dagnabit.
Offensive line starts are not particularly indicative, unless you don't have any. Buried in a random Barking Carnival post:
While O-line starts does correlate with stronger offensive performance, it’s not everything. Ohio State is the only team with fewer than 30 O-line starts performing above-average, but they’re well above average, and you don’t have to go much higher before the scatterplot becomes a field of white noise and the trendline levels out.
That said, this chart doesn’t take into account that we’re on a new offensive system and we’ve lost our QB, so the fact that we’re not too far below the trendline for our number of O-line starts is an optimistic takeaway. But honestly it’s not much to hang one’s hat on. If we start playing better, it won’t be just because the players are getting more experience – it’ll be because they’re getting more experience in an effective offensive system.
(Horizontal axis: number of O-line starts at the beginning of the year (Texas is adjusted for current personnel); vertical axis: offensive S&P; and I’m using a power law trendline, to reflect that the difference between 0 & 30 starts should be more impactful than the difference between 90 & 120)
Looks like you're good or not good and OL starts are a very minor factor, what with the random scatter of the plot.
Etc.: The MZone has come back with what's undoubtedly the creepiest post I've ever featured in. Hypothetical AD Rich Rodriguez would have handled this better than Brandon did. I am dead serious about this.
This made Inside Higher Ed, which… okay. Are we in Cat Fancy? I think that's the last outlet that hasn't covered this.
Okay. Time to go, guys.
Asked directly if he spoke to Dave Brandon over the last 48 hours, Hoke says, "There's no question about it."
— Ace Anbender (@AceAnbender) September 30, 2014
Ain't nothing to f with. God bless the Daily.
— Alejandro Zúñiga (@ByAZuniga) September 30, 2014
From the paper:
“What I can tell you is we would never, ever, put a guy on the field when there is a possibility with head trauma. We won't do that.”
He later added the following in the same press conference:
“We would never, ever, if we thought a guy had a concussion, keep him in the game.”
More than 12 hours later, at 12:52 a.m. Tuesday, a statement released by Athletic Director Dave Brandon confirmed sophomore quarterback Shane Morris had indeed suffered a “probable, mild concussion” resulting from a helmet-to-helmet hit in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s game against Minnesota.
This is very depressing. As you probably noticed on Saturday, Lloyd Carr's grandson has an inoperable brain tumor.
If you're inclined to pray, keep Chad in your thoughts.
All the wrong stuff. Maize and Brew:
"Without the benefit of replays." Apparently the 20 million dollars worth of scoreboard on each end of the stadium wasn't quite enough. Besides the fact that everybody in that stadium saw the replay, the bigger question is how in the world did anybody not see the hit? Even assuming every coach turned away from Shane the moment he let go of the ball and nobody saw the hit coming, shouldn't the team neurologist have his eyes glued to Shane? After all, on a passing play concussions will come either at the QB or the WR, but given his ankle injury and Michigan's offensive line concern I'd say QB was much more likely. Plus shouldn't all team health staff, medical or training, be looking at the limping QB under center? For Dave Brandon to say nobody saw the hit on the field means he either believes it or believes we will believe it. That makes him a liar, an idiot or both.
Andrew Kahn talked to the guy who does concussion stuff for the Jets and Giants:
“It was obvious to anyone who saw him in the aftermath of that hit that he was not right,” says Kenneth Perrine, a clinical neuropsychologist at New York Presbyterian/Weill-Cornell Medical College and the consulting neuropsychologist for the New York Jets and New York Islanders, where he evaluates players with concussions. “At the very least he could have sustained a concussion.”
More reactions. Spencer Hall:
if you are one of the 10 people whose primary beef is to claim it's irresponsible to say that Morris had a concussion, you have internalized the language of the law, reaching insane abstraction in defense of the indefensible. Morris took the crown of a helmet to his chin, then was visibly disoriented while having serious difficulty standing. An MMA ref would have stopped this fight cold. That's how bad this looked: an MMA event would have taken better care of Morris than a collegiate athletics staff did on Saturday.
But sure, point to the man on fire. Tell someone you don't know that man's on fire. You did spy the application of gasoline. You did see the striking of a match and the ignition of a flame on a person's body. But you don't know the fire was what did the damage, do you? Did you establish this with medical personnel? Did you obtain a record of that? Fire's done a lot for us as a species; indeed, we would be long dead without it. Don't just slander fire like that. And who can say the person applying the match knew what he was doing, for sure? Did you ask them if they have an understanding of gasoline/fire relations, chemically speaking? Prove these things, or say nothing.
Spencer's coming up for the Penn State game, by the way, so… yeah. That'll be quite a piece.
I am an extremely loyal person. Too loyal. Especially to Michigan.
Hoke demurred to protect a player dismissed from the university for a violation of the sexual misconduct policy, and I didn't really say anything, because apparently I'm only a feminist until it gets awkward and uncomfortable. Brady Hoke explained away losing in a dipshit manner to opponents less hamstrung by idiocy, and I sighed and tried to move on, because I'm a Michigan fan.
Maize and Blue Nation with the clutch Lebowski embed:
Either Hoke is lying, or Dave Brandon chose not to include Hoke in his meetings with all related parties. One might be attempting to separate themselves from the other here, but its not going to work. This is on both of them. Hoke is Brandon's guy. That can't be undone.
Even 24 hours later, Hoke didn’t acknowledge the possibility of a head injury, referring only to Morris “further aggravating an injury to his leg” in a statement to reporters. He added he is “confident proper medical decisions were made.”
They very clearly were not.
Whether Hoke witnessed what occurred on the field or not, it’s his job to know everything that goes on around his football team, with the health of players at the forefront of those responsibilities.
And so it is the position from all four of us on The Michigan Daily Football Beat that Hoke be fired immediately.
The Mood hits an all time low:
The Hoover Street Rag imagines a way in which Hoke could have given a non-repulsive press conference:
Good afternoon, everyone. After the game on Saturday, I watched the footage of Shane taking that shot to the head. I'm embarrassed to say that I didn't catch that live, and I didn't see him stumble afterward. That's on me. We as coaches need to be aware of our players' safety at all times, and I failed there.
As a staff, we should have immediately gotten Shane out of that game, regardless of whether he wanted to come out. Shane's a tough kid and a fighter, so of course he wants to stay in, but it's our job to sit him down there.
But why was Hoke hung out to dry and not told this was all happening? This isn’t just a “medical report”. If Hoke was told this was all happening, at the Monday presser could have talked about his responsibility and perspective on Saturday, but then he should have added, ‘..but we’re reviewing everything that happened to understand what mistakes (if any) were made’ and that the ‘details will be coming soon’, etc. etc.
On Monday afternoon, Brandon allowed his head football coach to step to a press conference podium in an absolute no-win situation. Hoke was unprepared, unsupported and left there to face live bullets.
On Monday afternoon, Brandon threw Hoke -- a man he hired in 2011 -- under the bus, and hung him out to dry.
…the statement comes about 24 hours too late. If that statement is issued at 12:52 AM on Monday morning, there's grumbling and some side-eye. At 12:52 AM on Tuesday morning, everything has changed. Michigan has been put under the microscope on not just ESPN, but has crossed all the way over to Good Morning America. You've promised the media a "medical statement" that never really showed up, unless this is it. And you've sent your head football coach up to his press conference to stand there and look like someone's idiot cousin you wouldn't trust to run a doughnut shop, let alone a multi-million-dollar football program where young men risk their health and safety on a daily basis.
To be fair, this may be the case. Brandon's statement says that Morris was diagnosed with a concussion on Sunday. Brady Hoke didn't get in touch with his injured quarterback to ask how he's doing? Or Shane Morris didn't know he has a concussion? Neither of these seem reasonable, and one is more plausible than the other.
My one-year-old's still figuring out this whole language thing, but she has a couple of sentences figured out. Her first sentence was probably "Go dog go," which she uttered in order to request the book of the same name. Lately, she has been saying "Are you OK?" a lot. These two sentences are apparently enough to make her a qualified medical professional for Michigan football:
NATALIE: Are you OK?
SHANE MORRIS: I'm fine.
NATALIE (pointing Shane onto the field): Go, dog, go!
The hundred-million dollar elephant in the room. Stephen Ross on Dave Brandon:
"He's probably the most qualified athletic director in the country. I think he's terrific," said billionaire real estate developer Stephen Ross, a UM alumnus who has given the university $310 million in recent years.
This is a problem. It's a lot less of a problem than when the article came out just hours before the Minnesota game—Ross may like Brandon just fine but have we shown you these other guys who aren't flamingly incompetent?
Also in the room, Brandon's terrible contract:
Michigan signaled its approval of Brandon's work when it gave him a new contract in July 2012 that pays him a base salary of $900,000 in 2014-15. The six-year deal is through 2018, and pays him a $5.55 million base, and he can earn up to $1.3 million in deferred compensation through 2018. He gets fringe benefits such as free tickets, use of two cars, a golf club membership, and travel reimbursement for his wife.
Brandon's contract stipulates that if he's fired without cause prior to Jan. 1, 2016, the university must pay him his remaining base salary and his remaining deferred compensation. Firing him after that date reduces the payout to 50 percent of both the remaining base salary and deferred compensation.
100% guaranteed until 2016. Unbelievable. What possible reason would you have to do that?
BTW, that article includes the credulous claim that Brandon was a "finalist" for the NFL commissioner's job, something that is not true.
Cheaper. Hoke's buyout is a chump change two million, at least:
If he’s not -- if he’s fired by athletic director Dave Brandon, or the university board of regents, or U-M president Mark Schlissel or any of the above -- it will come at a heavy cost.
According to Hoke’s contract, signed on March 28, 2011, he will be owed $2 million to buy out the remaining two years (2015, 2016) left on his contract.
That's nothing compared to Weis/Ferentz level buyouts.
Much better shirt repping. This guy understands his apparel:
Etc.: Center Ice on the new blueliners. Bacon's on every radio station in the country today; here's his appearance on Here and Now yesterday. Headsetssssss. We're in the New York Times so I guess that coo—oh it's about the concussion. Also the Daily Mail.
— The Michigan Daily (@michigandaily) September 22, 2014
COKEAGGEDDON. Well, it happened, and they quickly ran out of tickets, and the athletic department said that shouldn't have happened like a robot programmed to impersonate a human, and now it's over. The robot bit:
Coke is a great partner of ours and had purchased a limited block of tickets for the Minnesota game for a Coke retail activation aimed at Michigan students.
What I would give for an athletic department that responded to things like this without resorting to the nonsense phrase "retail activation." The program was "pulled immediately" after the Union had already run out, ie, not pulled. There's the silver lining: Michigan tickets are still worth more than two dollars.
As per usual when these things happen, the cover-up is worse than the crime. The pattern: Michigan does something stupid or embarrassing or annoying or all three. People laugh or complain about it. Michigan releases a mendacious statement that blames someone else for the screw up, wonders why everyone is making a big deal about it, and says it was never their intent for stupid/embarrassing/annoying thing to happen. Two months later, repeat the process.
The list is getting long: running out of water after banning outside bottles because terrorists, Allstate field goal nets, enormous macaroni sculpture, seat cushions, sky-writing over Spartan Stadium, telling people they got a discount on their hockey season tickets when really they moved a Michigan State game to Chicago, and Cokeaggeddon. Nobody apologized for "In The Big House," but they damn well should have.
I would prefer an athletic department that knew enough about how thing were going to look to a persnickety fanbase to not have issues like this on the regular. I would even more strongly prefer a department that didn't go "nuh-uh" when people called them on their crap.
Backhanded compliment battle royal. Man are people saying some things about Hoke these days that they mean to be nice but come off not so nice. Mark Dantonio:
Dantonio on turmoil in Ann Arbor: "I don't think there's a bad football coach out there. ...I have a lot of respect for Brady."
— Dan Murphy (@DanMurphyESPN) September 23, 2014
Dantonio followed that up by responding "I have empathy for people" when some reporter asked him if he had empathy for what's going on at Michigan. If our athletic department is going to be a robot can it be a Dantonio-style killer robot at least?
I HAVE EMPATHY FOR PEOPLE
/hail of gunfire
And then Dennis Norfleet was getting his coach's back when this came out and got on the internet the wrong way:
"In life, he's a good coach," Norfleet on Hoke
— Max Cohen (@MaxACohen) September 23, 2014
I know he didn't mean it like that but it's hard not to read it like that, you know?
Shades of the late RR period. Old pissed-off alums are coming out of the woodwork to yell on the talk radio. Former Bo QB Michael Taylor is up:
"Michigan football is not going in the right direction," said Taylor, who played for UM from 1987-89. "The leadership is bad. There are many more issues on and off the field than I care to talk about. It's sad." …
"What we've become is a propaganda football team, telling people how great we are when we're mediocre," he said.
Taylor has had an axe to grind for a while, FWIW. Hard to disagree with the last bit even so.
While Taylor's naplam job was widely reported the News is the only outlet I've seen that noted anything about Jon Jansen's immediately subsequent appearance. Jansen is on some sort of former players' committee, and says this about Taylor's complaint that players are being told to buy tickets if they want anything more than two per season (as in two tickets, total):
"It may not be the answer they're looking for, but we have started the process of getting a policy together for how many tickets you can get, how you get them, sideline passes," Jansen said. "That's the biggest thing — guys want to be able to come back."
IIRC, Taylor's beef with Brandon started when he further restricted tickets for former lettermen. It's not about "getting a policy" together. There is a policy. As per usual it prefers nickel and diming everyone to creating long-term allies.
More bloviation. Get ready for two and a half months of HARBAUGH HARBAUGH HARBAUGH posts that don't have much of anything behind them. PFT takes the lead:
…the speculation has been ongoing regarding the future of 49ers coach (and former Michigan quarterback) Jim Harbaugh for a while. Mired in a contractual impasse that has been tabled until after the season, any college or program now knows that Harbaugh is in play for a jump to a new job come 2015. With the 49ers already mired in a disappointing, stressful year, that jump could be more likely.
This gets everyone hot and bothered while not having a single quote or even a single assertion that a hot source told him something. Throw it on the bloviation pile. And reinforce the floor under that pile. It's about to get stressed.
The cycle is intact. Football team is bad at football. People say football team is bad at football. People say maybe football team would be better at football if this coach who seems to have a lot of bad football teams was no longer the coach. Media incessantly hammers coach and players at every media opportunity about The Critics, leading to people Taking A Stand Against The Critics and articles describing that event. Dennis Norfleet just did so.
If anyone thinks the massive public criticism being hurled at Brady Hoke on a now daily basis doesn't make its way into the ears of Michigan's players from time to time, then Dennis Norfleet has a message for you.
And they're pretty pissed about it.
Okay. I don't expect this conversation to go any other way, because Hoke has his team behind him and they would run through the proverbial wall for him, etc. I just don't see why anyone should care. It's all talk. Weren't we all like "I'm done with talk, show me" this offseason? We have been shown some things. Now there is talk about how bad the team is, and if you are mad at people talking about how bad Michigan football is currently I don't know what to tell you.
This is just not realistic:
"Even if we lose. If we lose, if you're a Michigan fan you're supposed to be with us 100 percent to pick us up. We need our fans just as much as we need a win. So, yes, it hurts. It hurts a lot."
It is impossible to control the emotional impulses of large groups of people, and fans are in this for themselves. They like the players, they want the players to succeed, they generally refrain from harsh personal criticism of the players. They are there to feel something, however, and when the only thing they feel is certainty Michigan is not going to make up yet another double-digit deficit they're going to talk about replacing the coach. Because that is the logical thing to do if your goals for a football team involve having a nice time with it.
That's the fundamental disconnect between fans and players and we can stop talking like any of these people have to have the same motivations. Or not, I suppose, because journalists are in this for themselves.
We're confusing to computers. Michigan has outgained every opponent en route to a 2-2 record with two blowout losses. The play-based ranking systems are having a bit of a conniption fit as a result:
— Bill Connelly (@SBN_BillC) September 22, 2014
Computer rankings after four weeks are never accurate but drive systems do take a lot more data than the final score into account and should be a bit more reliable as a result. It's just that sometimes not taking the final score into account particularly heavily is… unwise. Connelly on that:
On a per-play basis (in a system that counts turnovers simply as non-successes until drive data is factored in after seven weeks), they are good enough to rank 19th in the country, just one spot behind a team that beat them by 31 points and 11 spots ahead of a team that beat them by 16. But in ways similar to 2011 Texas A&M and 2011 Notre Dame, they're figuring out ways to make their failures count double, and it seems they (and their fans) know the failures are coming before they happen.
Seven of the next eight conference games are winnable, and eight are losable. We'll see if Hoke can figure out how to turn promise into reality, or if, like Texas A&M in 2011, it will take a new coach and a new quarterback to translate decent stats into good results.
He notes three teams with similar profiles to Michigan to date: 2011 versions of Notre Dame and Texas A&M and 2012 Michigan State.
Connelly and Brian Fremeau combine their ratings for something called F+ that is considerably more skeptical but still insufficiently so from the human observer's viewpoint. F+ has Michigan 32nd. Connelly used that to metric to project the Big Ten race and came up with this amazing possibility:
|Record||West Winner||East Winner|
There is a one in four chance that your Big Ten West winner is .500 in the conference. I think we can all agree that this annus miserabilis will be totally worth it if that happens.
As far as Michigan goes, he ran a bunch of simulations with his numbers and came out with an approximately 60% chance Michigan goes 4-4 in the league and 20% chances they go 5-3 or 6-2. Again, early season computer numbers so take lightly—suffice it to say computers are not feeling real good about Hoke's job prospects.
The wounded. Minnesota's Mitch Leidner still questionable for Saturday, "all indications" that Michigan will get the Gopher backup who completed one pass against SJSU. Maxxxxxxxx Williams is also doubtful with something or other. Against that Michigan puts up Jarrod Wilson and Raymon Taylor, who dressed but did not play against Utah, Delano Hill, who left before halftime with a boo boo, and an obviously still gimpy Devin Funchess. Funchess FWIW:
"I got a little dinged up, I had to make sure everything was OK, and I just had to fight through it," Funchess said Tuesday. "I knew it was painful (that day), and it'll (probably) be painful the rest of the season.
"You're never going to go through a season and stay 100 percent (the whole way) ... I'm healthy enough to play."
Sort of. His effort on blocks is not so good.
Extremely important fainting goat update. The conversation did not quite go as asserted yesterday, but it's pretty great anyway:
“He told me the play of the week, the special teams funky deal, was a fake punt – the Fainting Goat,” Mays said. “In my mind, I was like, ‘What’s that?’”
Said Paschall: “Book, you’re going to be the goat.”
“I was like, ‘Oh, my God.’ What is he saying?” Mays said.
“I was talking to the guy across from me, saying, ‘Wow, there is some thick air down here in Miami,” Mays said.
God bless Arkansas State.
BEAT THE DRUM EVERYBODY. Ineligible man downfield complainin' is welcome wherever I find it. Pete Roussel notes an egregious event in the Alabama-USM game:
yes the penalty is called when the ball is thrown but not caught; still geez
Remember last year when Taylor Lewan engaged a guy about three yards behind the line and drove him so far downfield he got a penalty and everyone clucked at him about how he had to know better? Why would he have to know better? I think he would not have to.
Offenses are brutally effective already without adding blocking linebackers ten yards downfield on pass plays to their docket.
BEAT THE DRUM PART 2. Yes, we are going to beat this dead horse until it sends seven guys downfield on the snap. "Shield" punting, which we've called "spread" around here because I'm sure you can figure it out*, has taken over college football. Michigan is an exception, and apparently so is Texas. They ate a 45-yard punt return before UCLA's winning drive after lining up like so:
This is actually a little more spread-ish than Michigan, but eight Longhorns are behind the LOS when the ball is kicked.
Like Michigan, the bad way stats are kept somewhat conceals the issue here. Not only does Texas give up a lot of yards per return, they give up a lot of returns, period:
UT’s 10.3-yard-per-punt-return average allowed isn’t miserable — although it ranks 88th out of 128 FBS teams — but the Longhorns are allowing a greater number of punt return chances under Vaughn, and as the UCLA punt shows, a reason could be because his players are late getting downfield. The nine punt returns against UT this year is tied for fourth-most nationally while the Longhorns’ 93 total punt return yards allowed puts them tied for 115th.
Strong used a spread punt at Louisville to good effect; no idea why he's not doing the same thing at Texas.
*[Bizarrely, coaches keep telling me that it is Michigan's NFL-style punt game that they know as "spread." I reject that lingo and all its works. You don't get to call it that. That makes no sense. Unlike coaches who don't want to use seven gunners, I insist on making sense.]
Also in Texas but better? Four minutes left is a weird amount of time to have in a game. If you're leading and on offense, you need a first down at all costs. If you're leading and on defense you want to prevent the other team from scoring, but if they're going to score you want them to do it quickly, not after 3:58 has left the clock. The paramount thing is to get (or keep) the ball.
So a lot of offenses will grunt their way to a third and seven and then take their shot. Strong elected for a different path:
When Texas got the ball at 4:17 with a four point lead and chose to go "tempo", the ensuing three and out and minimal clock burn was widely panned on the web and in the traditional media. Of course, it didn't matter. UCLA scored in about nine seconds on a punt return followed by a good play call against tendency.
Texas had just scored to go ahead with the aid of a hurry-up no huddle; a UCLA player misaligned on a 30-yard run. They continued that with the lead and 4:17 left, and that's… odd. But if you think that's the best way to get a first down, that's at least defensible. Of course, when you lose five yards on a run up the gut you're not going to be bleeding much of anything.
Upshot: coaches don't place enough emphasis on having the ball last when they're in a one-possession game. They're willing to bleed down the field for an opposition four-minute drill instead of being aggressive, and they place minimally useful timeout-sapping over a greater chance of getting a first down.
A stupid reason but okay. We're now talking about revoking the NFL's non-profit status because of "Redskins"?
Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) announced Tuesday that she will introduce legislation to eliminate the NFL’s tax-exempt status because of its refusal to address the name of the Washington Redskins.
While I also find the name distasteful, why don't we revoke the NFL's non-profit status because it in no way fits the definition of a nonprofit enterprise? The idea that the NFL can skate on millions of dollars in taxes because [no reason given] is equally offensive. Possibly more so, because one situation is a private enterprise being offensive and the other is the government being idiotic.
I mean, if there's one class of industries you can tax the living hell out of without seeing them move their labor force, it's pro sports.
It's profile o-clock. Jeremy Clark:
"Of course everyone wants to play, but (last year) I was still learning the process and there were guys in front of me who knew the calls and everything, so you can't get mad if you don't know what you're supposed to be doing out there," Clark said. "This year, I feel like I'm learning it well."
“The thing you realize quickly about Bryan is the genuine concern he shows for everyone he comes in contact with,” said Benson, Mone's prep coach at Highland High School in Salt Lake City. "And it's genuine. He truly cares about everyone around him. I don't know if I've met a kid with a bigger heart.
"He's one of a kind. Truly one of a kind."
"My brother has always been my motivation, because growing up he couldn’t really feed himself or do all types of stuff, so I had to grow up soon enough to help out my mom and my sister,” said Mone, who had another older brother who died from leukemia.
Mone began caring for his brother in earnest in sixth grade, but didn’t feel comfortable with all his responsibilities until a few years later.
“I started getting used to it in junior high,” he said. “I knew what I had to do to take care of him.”
Designated official site softball-tosser on Jack Miller:
Jack Miller is many things.
He's best known as the starting center and anchor of the offensive line for the University of Michigan football team. But he's also a political science major, and thinks he might someday become a lawyer or run for public office.
He's a music lover -- especially Dave Matthews and jam bands -- and takes aim during deer and duck hunting seasons.
Miller also is the great-nephew of former Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland, who texts him after every game and remains a huge inspiration.
Spence suspended further. Noah Spence's ecstasy suspension was three games, and now it's at least four after he failed a test before Kent State. If Ohio State follows the usual policy here he would be out for the year, as most teams go 1) nothing, 2) one game, 3) quarter of a season, 4) whole season for failed drug tests. Spence has apparently entered rehab.
But you have a legitimate reason! I don't understand why Brady Hoke keeps saying things like "I don't feel like it" and this latest…
Brady Hoke: “You can say something about (injuries) and you’ll be wrong.” Hence his silence on them.
— Alejandro Zúñiga (@ByAZuniga) September 17, 2014
…when asked about injuries. He has a legit reason. He can just say "I don't want to help Utah prepare for our game by telling them which personnel we'll have available." This is 1) the truth and 2) not insulting to the intelligence of anyone coming across his answer.
It is not good when your contempt for the media gets in the way of obviously better and more honest answers. See: Gibbons, Brendan.
Etc.: Tip times set times set for a number of basketball games. Article on how Michigan sticking by Devin Gardner despite "fans' pleas" for Shane Morris cites no fans pleading for Shane Morris. In fact cites reporter's question about Shane Morris indirectly by including Nussmeier answer to it.
Let's check in with Iowa City. Hell no they ain't happy after a narrow escape against Ball State and then the missed-it-TO-made-it sequence to lose to Iowa State for the ninth time under Ferentz. The ninth time!
borrowed from a great American pic.twitter.com/9APTZQtYLZ
— PlannedSickDays (@PlannedSickDays) September 16, 2014
It's kind of like Michigan if Brady Hoke was permanently unfireable. They're probably going to be okay-ish, they are frustrated with their archaic program (and Iowa is way more archaic than Michigan except when Iowa plays Michigan), fans would probably like to move on. But, uh, not happening:
If Iowa were to fire Ferentz for convenience, the school would continue to owe him 75% of his annual guaranteed salary for the remaining years in his contract. …
Ferentz’s base salary has climbed each year since 2010, hitting $2.07 million for the current season. It stays at that level for the next five years. Ferentz also receives supplemental income in the amount of $1.48 million per year, bringing his total salary up to $3.55 million per season. That means if Ferentz were fired at the end of this year, Iowa would owe him $13.3 million, to be paid in monthly installments between now and 2020. That amounts to
roughly $2.7 million per year.
And this is a guy arguing that Iowa can totally afford to dump him. It is possible. Charlie Weis is still getting paid by Notre Dame; the Irish offered him a total of 19 million to go do anything else. (All will be forgiven if one day Weis cites Foul Ole Ron as one of his inspirations.) It's just hard to see Iowa pulling the trigger given that they've put up with all the stuff they've already put up with from Ferentz so far, including the rhabdo event and going 4-8 more than a decade into your tenure.
And then there's the question facing Michigan fans who want a change: is there anyone out there who seems like a good idea? Or is it Terry Bowden sweepstakes time again?
Alabama will just tell you stuff. Because it doesn't matter if you get the kind of stuff that laymen will understand, Alabama's just like "okay here let's talk about it," which makes for interesting articles about the Tide facing a blizzard of screens in their early games against overmatched foes and how you go about dealing with that:
"When they're throwing fast, get your hands up," defensive end Jonathan Allen said. "If they throw a screen, you have to retrace. That's what really defeats the screen is when the linemen retrace and run to the ball. That'll really take away from the screen. So our job's just beginning as soon as he throws the ball."
This is not rocket science. It is part of a respectful-seeming conversation happening about football in front of the media that the media can then go use to write interesting stories, thus increasing the overall happiness around the program slightly.
And this is Alabama, home to the notoriously prickly Nick Saban. I can't imagine how frustrating it must be to be on the Michigan beat. I can count the multitudes who have fled.
Meanwhile at Michigan. The university's notoriously expensive FOIA department strikes again:
Michigan attempted to charge CBS $410 for a FOIA request looking for data into basic 4-year scholarship #'s. More than anyone else, by far
— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) September 16, 2014
The only two possibilities here are that Michigan is breaking the law or that they run the most inefficient FOIA office in the country, which implies things about the efficiency of the rest of the unduly-closeted operation. Either way this should change. If you end up talking to Schlissel ask him which possibility is the truth.
And yes more dead horse spread punt stuff but this answer is just …
Hoke asked about why he doesn't use the spread punt: "I've always been a pro style punt (coach). ... I really don't want to talk about it."
— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) September 10, 2014
Okay. What would you like to talk about?
One of the ultimate people in charge of things. Spencer Hall roasts Goodell and shows why the people in charge of things are just in charge of them:
Remember now what a blank social boffin the NFL strapped to its face to begin with: a Senator's son from a safety school who quite literally never worked anywhere else but in the sports job he got directly out of college. Roger Goodell's resume is a hollow blandishment of institutional servitude. He fought in the arbitration wars; he coordinated the events. Calendars were heroically arranged.
Do not expect that having a job means anything. Every great organization will one day hire the moron who will destroy them.
People in charge of coin tosses are just in charge of them. If you missed this from Saturday, whoah:
That's Texas electing to kick after UCLA deferred, the ref explaining this, and Texas's captains going "sounds good to me!" Shockingly, Charlie Strong did not kick them off the team immediately. I would have.
Apparently this happens about once a year? I could never be a coach. I would assume that things like brushing your teeth were outside of my purview and lose games because of it.
Also in CFB oddities. So this was a trick play:
"What should I do on this play to draw attention to myself, coach?"
"Have you seen Showgirls, son?"
"No. Unless the answer is supposed to be yes. Then yes."
"Son. I'm going to need you to flop around like an electrocuted fish like when Nomi—"
"How about I just fall over?"
"I am just going to fall over."
Arkansas threw at the "tackle", who was eligible, and two different guys on Miami intercepted the same pass. Should have flopped around like an electrocuted fish.
And the oddest oddity. Boston College ran for 452 yards against USC! That is not the grand total of Eagle rushing yards in all Boston College games against USC ever! It is one game from Saturday! What?
you could see the Eagles wear down USC's discipline and will with one play in particular, applied heavily over the course of the game: the zone read with a lead arc block by a tight end.
The common way this play is run is with the QB choosing to handoff or keep the ball. If he keeps, he's attacking the edge based on a read of an unblocked defensive end, with a lead blocker for him on the edge.
BC kept USC off balance with a bunch of other stuff; it was an arc block on the zone read keep that was the killer time and again.
Etc.: Matt Hinton's weekly has landed at Grantland, and is recommended. We don't feature because no one pays attention to 34-10 MAC games. That UGA-SoCar first down is the definition of margin of error.
Guy with name as difficult to spell as Coach K bombs Coach K. I don't really know why Paul George exploding is a big deal in this context; if not playing for USA he would have been doing something else that put his leg in danger.
SPORTS. TALK. RADIO. A somewhat agitated man called into WTKA after the game Saturday night. That guy can get bent with his engineering cracks. If the football team was as good as solar car we'd all have burned out dopamine receptors.
It could be worse! It could be equally as bad. Let's check in with our friends at Texas.
The eloquent Scipio Tex on a hamblasting at the hands of BYU:
Anyone coming into this game expecting a solid or even reasonably functional offense was delusional, but cold reality stings even when you know there's a blizzard outside and you're dressed only in a garter belt and a ball gag leaping from a 3rd story window into a snow bank...
Metaphorically been there, bro. And literally, but let's focus on the metaphorically please.
Meanwhile in MS paint penises. We made Shamepaint, a couple times. This is the one I can put on the blog:
So we're still better than my friend Kit.
That's over I guess. Penn State's sanctions are over as arbitrarily and suddenly as they were imposed. Suddenly free to go to the Pinstripe Bowl, Penn State fans reacted like college students do when given the slightest pretext:
— The Daily Collegian (@DailyCollegian) September 9, 2014
The previous day's Collegian was exactly the same except the headline read ONE DOLLAR TACOS.
So that may explain that. Derrick Green got a lot more carries than De'Veon Smith despite not being at all effective with them. Here is a potential reason why:
@AceAnbender DeVeon Smith is limping pretty bad around campus. No boot or brace, but he's walking like a baby deer.
— Nick McLaren (@xDQ44) September 8, 2014
Here is a list of potential SMU hires I am linking for no particular reason. Michigan's going to have more access than SMU if they need to make a coaching change at the end of the season, but Harbaugh Hail Marys aside the landscape isn't going to look too different than this list of eight candidates to replace June Jones after his sudden resignation. It's heavy on offensive coordinators, with those of Ohio State, Clemson, Baylor, and Oklahoma on the list along with some washed up dudes. (Butch Davis! Rick Neuheisel!) Michigan has a bunch of midlevel head coaches they can grab… it's just that there aren't any.
If you think that's excessively grim, look around the college football landscape for an established, pluckable head coach with a track record that makes you warm and fuzzy. I don't see one. Texas grabbed the best idea out there when they hired Charlie Strong to repair the damage letting Mack Brown hang on way too long caused. Washington picked off Chris Petersen. Penn State got James Franklin. There's nobody at a midlevel BCS program who's an obvious next big thing a la Meyer or Sumlin.
Unless you think Michigan can swoop in on a Texas A&M or Oklahoma State—extremely doubtful—there are virtually no available coaches who finished in the top 25 last year except George O'Leary (hooray!) and Todd Graham (because Todd Graham is always available). David Cutcliffe is 59; Art Briles is 58 (and not leaving).
The best bet outside the HHM may be Craig Bohl, who led NDSU to three consecutive national titles and various upsets of nearby I-A teams. Dual problems: he just got hired by Wyoming and he's 56.
Maybe someone will cut a hot swath of death through some conference or another, but legit A-level hires have track records of performing over expectations over a number of years. With Petersen, Strong, and Franklin off the board the pickings are slim. They get even slimmer if you insist on a coach who runs a program that looks like 1990s Michigan, because fewer and fewer programs do that.
Hail Harbaugh full of grace and all that, then. Or ripping off ten straight wins and going to the Rose Bowl. Either one. Preferably the latter. It could happen!
AT LEAST WE COULD PROBABLY UNFOLD SOME FRIGGIN SHEETS OF CLOTH.
— Tyler Koppes (@TBooty_88) September 7, 2014
Actually, I wonder about that after the Great Card Stunt of 2012, which was not exactly North Korea quality. We are a goatish people, we Michigan fans: hard to lead, prone to irritating bleating, capable of grudgingly eating anything put in front of our face.
This week in People In Charge Of Things Are Just In Charge Of Them. Nothing about what Ray Rice did changed in the last couple days, but once people actually saw him knocking out his wife all of a sudden Rice is gone from the league. NFL officials are either 1) worse than TMZ at getting video, 2) lied to everyone about having saw it, or 3) saw it and thought two games was okay.
This is a comprehensive failure by an idiot. He's an idiot who makes 45 million dollars a year, and he's an idiot because he thinks this makes him untouchable. See Donald Sterling, Dan Snyder, etc. People in charge of things are not necessarily deserving of such a position and their judgments should be questioned, because no one inside these organizations is successfully doing so.
Meanwhile, elite sportswriters are hand-picked PR organs.
Par for the course. Obligatory hot take on the Hoke quote du jour:
'If they're truly fans, they'll believe in these kids ... If they're not, they won't'
See MGoBlog article "Fickle" on this.
It is not the fans' fault that this program is awful to be a fan of. It's not Rich Rodriguez's fault. Anyone who sells their ticket for whatever they can get—currently 60 bucks and dropping from 80 yesterday—is only making a logical decision to not get punched in the soul dong on Saturday.
You are a true fan if you want the team to win a lot. Believing is optional, and right now kind of dumb.
Etc.: Shut up, Jim Delany, it is most definitely not premature to judge the Big Ten. Michigan Monday, hooray. Miami (Not That Miami) is not good. M is a 31.5 point favorite and YOU JUST HAD TO PICK THAT LINE, VEGAS, SERIOUSLY?