We living in the lowest "down period" in Big Ten history during my lifetime.
How far has the conference fallen from the 2006 UM/OSU game that pitted #1 against #2 and had the two teams BARELY miss a rematch in the National Championship game (over an SEC team no less)?
For a variety of reasons, both OSU and UM have been the best programs at recruiting talent. High quality talent is highly corelated with national titles. The two schools usually finished first and second in the B1G and around the top 10-15 nationally in recruiting. When the two teams were headed by Carr and Cooper/Tressel, they used that talent to each win national championships and keep in the top 5-10 in the rankings.
Of course, we know what happened to UM with the coaching changes and vastly different schemes. UM still pulled in talent, but the coaching may have been suspect and the transition was brutal. It now seems to be turning itself around, but it lasted long enough for UM to have some of its worst seasons ever.
As for OSU, they kept winning the B1G and even getting national respect to be placed in the NC game a couple mroe times. At least they got there and seemed like serious contenders prior to the final game. I don't think that is something you can say about any other B1G team. But now, we see the transition and struggles of sanctions and coach turnover at OSU. Their high level recruits still need to be focused and "coached up."
And in the wake of the two generally most-talented programs falling (UM four year ago and OSU this year), who has filled the power void?
How about Wisconsin, MSU and Iowa? Teams that have steady, quality coaching during the transition periods of OSU/UM. (Sorry JoePa, but you are not the PSU coach in reality.) While those teams may have won a game or two against the OSU/UM teams in the past, they have enjoyed a lot more success lately.
But, those teams are obviously limted by the talent level on their teams. None of them recruit like a national title contender. There are few to zero "differenc makers" whose athletic talent transcends the system run by the school and who are clearly better than the other players on the field. These teams seem to just bulk up the lines and plug in quality (but not dynamic in their own right) players in the skill positions. Solid football, but nothing to make any of them a threat to legitimately contend for the National Championship.
IMO, you need both top-level talent and high quality coaching to be a nationally elite team (legit top 5 at the end of the year) in any given year.
Either MSU, Wisco and Iowa have to start recruiting like national powerhouse teams or OSU and UM need to find (or matintain) steady, high-quality coaching. (I think the later is more likely than the former....and, of course, Nebraska could be a wild card in this equation).
Until that time though, a darkness has warshed over the B1G.
Wisconsin, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, WVU, Illinois, amongst others.
Zook managed this in his inimitably Zook-y way, punting on fourth and three from the Purdue 38. He was down 21 points at the time. His team ended up losing by seven. Ron Zook has no idea what connections can possibly be drawn between these two facts. Ron Zook isn't sure how much a touchdown is worth and suspects he might actually be a dolphin. To test this he is going to go mine copper. Ron Zook: not smart.
Inimitably. Say that three times fast.
Tried calling barnes and noble stores all over Southeast Michigan and they have all sold out of copies of three and out. Would be nice to see Borders still around for some competition to B&N to actually facilitate the demand of this book.
That wasn't a football game.
In hockey, there's an unwritten rule that an enforcer isn't supposed to go after a goal scorer. There's a reason why guys like Yzerman and Gretzky have teammates like Probert and McSorely. If Gholston wants to fight a left tackle and get suspended for his WWF moves, then he's an asshole and he deserves an ass whooping, but it's not that big of a deal.
But the moment he starts taking cheap shots at Denard, that's when someone needs to 'show him the error of his ways'. In the clip above, Macguire fights Yzerman while Probert is being held by the linesman. Probert can't fight Macquire honorably because the refs are in the way, but a message needed to be sent. "YOU DON'T DO THAT." And if the refs aren't going to do their job (30 yard penalty on the late hit and facemask, ejection for the punch), then someone on our team needs to say "fuck it" and take matters into their own hands.
And frankly, I'm disappointed in our team. We didn't fight back. You can't let that happen to your teammate, you can't let that go unpunished. Charles Woodson wouldn't stand around and take that. He and Marcus Ray would be looking to hit someone.
Hockey players have long memories, will our football team?
So I waited a while before starting to write this because I didn't wan't it to be a profanity laced rant. (Waiting was only mildly effective.) I hate rewatching losses. And this week, there's really not much point. We lost that game because of pretty simple and obvious reasons.
- We got out hit
- We got out blocked
- We got out tackled
- We got beat on playcalling
- We got beat in the film room
- We got beat in the passing game
- We got out rushed
And even with all that, we were a horrible pick six away from tying the game. Mostly because Pat Narduzzi is a dirty coach.
I'm trying to not be a negative nilly, but holy fuck. How do we not call a single screen or misdirection run when we know they're blitzing up the middle? How do we abandon the running game in the 2nd half? What happened to "manball?" The first drive worked, what happened to the zone reads? Not a single fucking bubblescreen? IT'S FUCKING WEEK 7, WHERE THE FUCK ARE THE BUBBLE SCREENS?
And can we find a defensive back who can tackle Martin? Two field goals instead of two TD's makes that a completely different game.
And to all those saying "Blah, Blah, Blah wind", the wind is a fucking excuse. Good teams adapt.
Keeping it in perspective
I think we can pretty much stop worrying about any division titles. You don't have to be a stats major to realize that the probability of us winning out, multiplied by the probability of MSU losing twice after having already beaten OSU, us, and WISC, (even if it did take special teams and home field miracles) is pretty small. Yes it could happen, but we need to focus on beating a rejuvenated Purdue team. At this point, I wouldn't mind if we end up going 2-3 the rest of the way, so long as one of those wins is against TSIO.
I think we've got the talent and coaches to win out. But having said that, there's not a game on our schedule that won't be a challenge and our odds of winning the last 5 are not that much bigger than losing 4 out of 5.
Keeping up appearances
So, about that jersey stunt, FUCK YOU DAVE BRANDON, FUCK YOU. I'm sure there's a whole list of people I should be directing my anger at (starting with Addidas and Nike and ending somewhere near the equipment manager's office), and Brandon has done lots of things that are good, so it's not a general "fuck you". But regarding the jerseys and the marketing B.S., FUCK YOU DAVE BRANDON, FUCK YOU.
Taking the long view
Mattison is still impressive, but I worry about what's going to happen next year when we lose Mike Martin and RVB. I don't follow recruiting very closely anymore so I hope we've got some studs coming in on both the O-line and D-line, and for crissakes, would it be too much to ask for a 5* runningback? I hear rumblings of a pretty good recruiting class, but we've got lots of playing time available for any blue chips that want to help Michigan get back to our championship days.
Interesting article from ESPN about the USC players' take on Notre Dame's 4th Quarter demeanor on saturday. The money quote comes from USC Linebacker Chris Galippo:
"At the end there, when they didn't call those timeouts, they just quit. And that's what Notre Dame football's about. They're not anything like USC."
It looks like the solution to some special teams problems has been on campus all along. Check out this video from inside the big house, Zack Novak nails a 45 and then 50 yd fg. Pretty impressive!