"The face of the operation is Briatore (referred to exclusively in the film by his colleagues and angry, chanting detractors as "Flavio"), an anthropomorphic radish who spends most of his time at QPR plotting to fire all of the managers."
Okay, last installment. For the previous installments, see: http://mgoblog.com/diaries/three-and-out-100-pagesfor the first 100 pages, and http://mgoblog.com/diaries/three-and-out-pages-100-250 for pp. 100-250. Also, you might want to check out the comments to those entries for more exposition and clarification.
It’s clear that this whole book, and this subject, reopen a lot of old wounds and dig up a lot of old debates. I’ve actually thought a little bit over the past two days about what a couple commenters said, which was that they don’t think they’ll read the book because of a handful of reasons, notably because, well, it’s in the past, and why dig up old bodies, beat dead horses, reopen old wounds? I am conflicted by that notion. In a way, I understand that line of thinking- reading this book isn’t a fun exercise after a certain point because it reminds the reader of the agony of those 3 seasons. It is not a happy tale, and today, we have a new regime, a 6-0 team, and things are looking up. At the same time, I think it’s hard to discuss the past regime, the differences between Hoke & Co. and the past regime, and, most importantly, the differences between the two transitions without revisiting the dark days of late 2007-January, 2011. But the more I read the book, I could come to appreciate the idea that rehashing all of the negativity may not be something that many wish to do. That being said, I think it will be hard going forward to discuss the RR era without reading this book, even if you doubt the “spin” put on the story contained within its pages.
Again: this book is written from the RR perspective. Bacon was following RR, his team, etc. So a grain of salt (which many have rightfully pointed out) is wise.
These are just my musings on what jumped out at me, things I found interesting (personally) and thought that those who haven’t gotten a chance to read this yet might also find interesting. I actually finished the book a couple of days ago, but haven’t had a chance to write this yet.
One thing that strikes me is that the team really seems to stick together throughout all of the negativity- the Free Press stuff, the losing, the rumors, etc. Over and over again, Bacon muses that he figures the team would quit on the staff, that, at times, they probably should quit on the staff, etc. He seems to look for cracks in the team’s drive/mission/togetherness, especially throughout 2009’s slide and in 2010 when the players themselves are fully aware of all the rumors. But if that was ever the case, he didn’t see it. Until, perhaps, the Mississsippi State bowl game, where the seniors, at least (but really more likely the whole team) were of the impression that RR was done, win-or-lose (more on that below).
The Les Miles stuff was purely for show and to appease the fanbase. He says, quote, that Les Miles would be Michigan’s head coach “over my dead body” when RR asked him about it when the rumors reached a fever pitch in late December 2010. The book doesn’t say why. I have a feeling that there are multiple reasons, and at the very least, some of the nastiest rumors must be either a.) true, or b.) believed by enough people in the Michigan community who actually have a say in things (LC, Brandon, among them) that Les was never a serious candidate.
Brandon also handled the transition infinitely better than Bill Martin from a “players leaving” standpoint. As soon as it was announced, he (DB) called a meeting with the players and asked them not to leave. Far cry from LC holding a meeting and saying “if you want to leave, I’ll sign.” DB told the players if there was a mass exodus, they’d be “crippling” the program.
Furthermore, after DB left the room, Molk, Van Bergen, and the other seniors-to-be stood up and said, essentially, “don’t leave. We’ve all come too far.” Seems everyone had learned from the 2007 debacle.
Also of note: Dave Brandon said that he’d talked to “lots of players” before making the decision to fire RR, and that his “door was always open” and had always been open. Apparently not to Denard Robinson. Denard requested an audience with Brandon multiple times between the U of M Bust dinner and the bowl game, both in Ann Arbor and after they’d all gotten to Jacksonville. Brandon never met with him during that time.
The 2010 Bust, Josh Groban, December 2010, and Senior Exit Interviews
To Bacon, this is where RR’s tenure ended. He seems to think that after the Groban debacle, RR was toast. Many people were exchanging uneasy glances as he started doing it (asking for the song to be played) saying (by their looks) please don’t do this. When the lights went up, Bacon says that even RR supporters whom he knew were, essentially, like “yeah…that was bad, and he’s done.” Also, apparently, there were rumors that Fox Sports and others were offering $50-100k for the tape. Dave Brandon told the film crew who were present that if the tape of the incident were released, they’d never have access to Michigan again.
Seniors conducted exit interviews with the A.D. (associate AD Greg Harden) in the weeks following the bust (but before the bowl game) and the conclusions the players reached was that Rich Rod was gone. The student managers told Bacon that, point blank, the seniors all “knew” RR was getting fired and, thus, “no one wanted to be here.” I’m talking about the student managers talking about what the players told them. And that trickled down from the seniors to the rest of the team. “They realized winning would bring not freedom from their burdens—as it would have earlier in the season—but an extension of them. The way things were set up, they had more incentive to lose than to win.” (P. 419). That quote is clearly Bacon’s opinion.
During this time, the coaches themselves were concerned. Rich Rod, of course, had a contract. His assistants did not. The assistants “knew that other schools might be interested in them—particularly Maryland—if Rodriguez would just entertain the offers, but he steadfastly refused.” (P. 418). Apparently, his assistants refused overtures (if there were any) as well, as Rodriguez said that none of them had approached him in the time between the tOSU game and the bowl game saying that they’d either a.) reached out to other schools, or b.) were considering offers from other schools.
On Hoke, from Dan Dufek: “He’ll be successful because we’re not going to do to him what some of those guys did to Rich,” talking about the former players, etc. (P. 428).
The school orders rings for every bowl game. They are allowed to do so and give them to all members of the coaching staff and football staff who were on the staff at the time of the bowl game. Michigan ordered Gator Bowl rings, but didn’t give them to RR and his assistants and any that RR had hired. They did give one to Scott Draper. When RR came to UM in 2008, even WVU sent him one from their Orange Bowl trip. Petty, not that important, but still…ugh.
When RR was fired, Brandon told the players that the new staff would pick its assistants and its strength staff, but that Barwis was still employed by the University. Sometime in either January or February of 2011, Florida State offered Barwis a package that would make him the highest paid strength coach in the country, a multi-year deal, and would employ all of his staff. He turned them down, as he was still coaching at Michigan and, assumedly, thought Hoke might keep him and his staff. In March, Hoke went a different direction, so Barwis opened BarwisMethods in Michigan.
Rodriguez isn’t the one who alerted the Big Ten to the punch by one of Purdue’s players (in a game not against Michigan) that got the player suspended. It was actually someone in Purdue’s own athletic department. However, after the Michigan-Purdue game in 2009, Hope pulled the stunt where he grabbed RR’s hand and brought the player (Zach Reckman)over and said “I want to introduce you to the man who got you suspended.” After that stunt, RR had a quote that I found humorous, which he blurted out after he told Rita what happened: “Bullshit! I gotta get my ass beat by a junior high school, no-class asshole?” I think JHSNCAH should be Hope’s acronym from here on out.
Justin Turner and Wingless Wolverines
So, summertime workouts are voluntary. Showing up to the first day of fall practice, however, is not. In the summer of 2010, Tate, Gallon, Austin White, and Justin Turner showed up to fall camp out of shape, after having loafed throughout the summer. Turner famously said of the S&C staff (when one of his teammates warned him): “they can’t break me.”
The team had a conditioning run, and the three who didn’t make in the time for their position group were White, Gallon and Turner. Tate made it, barely, by diving across the line. However, his landlord then called RR and told him Tate hadn’t been paying his rent. So these four gentlemen got two pieces of special punishment: no wings on their helmets until they earned them back, and a “Breakfast Club” conditioning workout.
Amazingly, RR himself did the drills with them, at least for the first part of the Breakfast Club drills. They involved a stairmaster, then lots of situps. It lasted only 45 minutes, but clearly had an impact on Turner. The workout ended at 7 am. He asked for a transfer by 2 pm.
This is mentioned on page 342. “…the contracts Michigan offered at the time did not permit (RR) to hire his first choice for many coaching positions, including defensive coordinator. In hindsight, he would probably agree that insisting on guaranteed contracts for his coordinators and cutting $100,000 out of the new weight room budget to secure Casteel- plus a multiyear contract- would have been wise, as would making recruiting an acclaimed kicker a high priority.”
RR and the NCAA
He paid most of his life savings (cash savings) on his own attorneys in the NCAA investigation (over $300k). This was to ensure that the charge that he, RR, failed to promote an environment of compliance was vigorously fought, as it wasn’t (in his mind) the University’s top priority. (I actually agree with him here: in any case where the individual employee and the company’s interests are both at stake in any lawsuit, which an NCAA investigation is, sort of, I strongly advise all of you to have your own counsel, not just the one hired by your company. Just my $.02).
Michigan ranks 5th or 6th in the Big Ten in spending on football (or at least that’s what RR thought, which surprised him). P. 397.
Barwis had a tear come to his eye after we beat Illinois last year in triple overtime. I didn’t even know that was possible.
When we weren't getting bubble-screened by Northwestern, we were defending the option with mixed success. I was curious about what was happening and I decided to picture-page some plays to satisfy my curiosity. I'll be interested to see how Brian treats it in his UFR. At any rate, here is a play from Northwestern's first drive (click on images to embiggen):
Colter has just gone in for Persa. NW is going to run a veer (I think) option, as follows:
As the interview with Mattison suggests, the ends have the quarterback, Kovacs has the pitch man. But the linebackers need to flow to the ball, and all too often -- to anticipate my conclusion a bit -- both of the linebackers would jump the first option, allowing the QB to keep and get to the outside. Here are the next couple of shots:
You can see that both Hawthorne and Demens have been sucked inside, and Roh too has lost contain on Persa. I've never played organized football, but I think that Demens needs to respect the quarterback keep here. At this point, Roh, Demens and Kovacs have all realized that the QB still has the ball and are flying to Kolter.
The image above is the moment of the pitch. The Michigan defenders have made up ground, but they are going to give up five yards on this play.
The second play is on NW's first scoring drive (second drive overall). It is second down and 6 on the 15 yard line, Colter is again in for Persa. [UPDATE: this has also now been picture paged by Burgeoning Wolverine Star].
NW will basically run the same play:
The right side of the NW line lets Will Campbell and Jake Ryan through and blocks/seals Demens and Hawthorne. Here we are at the mesh point:
Will Campbell and Jake Ryan are through, and have a free shot. You can see that both linebackers (Demens and Hawthorne) have taken a step or two forward and towards the hashmarks. Hawthorne is about to get sealed by #70.
The problem: four Michigan defenders tackle (or head towards) the first option, the dive:
This is NOT good. Hawthorne and Demens are engaged and can't get out to the edge. Kovacs is streaming to the QB now, but a split second later, you see the result:
Kovacs is in a real bind: one defender on the QB in space with a pitch man. But Kovacs misses the tackle anyway:
The result: TOUCHDOWN.
My diagnosis is that the defenders were too eager to get to the first option, and forced Colter to keep. This was bad insofar as the DEs didn't keep contain. On the second play, Ryan has to let Will Campbell take the first option and hit the quarterback, forcing a pitch. But Ryan and BWC tackle the same guy, giving Colter a free release.
Next, Hawthorne and Demens can't (I think) both step towards the center. This gets Hawthorne (the playside LB) sealed, leaving Kovacs one-on-two. I noticed another big option play where Hawthorne got sucked in, and I wonder if this is why he was pulled for Morgan (until the 3rd quarter, when Hawthorne went back in).
We must have corrected this in the second half--but that's the topic of another diary (or more probably, Brian's defensive UFR).
Again, let me plead ignorance; if the more football-savvy among you can tell me if I'm wrong (or right), and why, I'd appreciate it.
While wawtching early games this past weekend on Saturday, I had a number of random observations about the 2011 season, and I thought I'd see what your observations have been as well.
I decided that after M and Toledo (Alma Mater), Minnesota would be my random program to cheer for.It just seems so unfair, and perhaps my support will help. Also, I'd have loved to make some sort of a post about KILLing HOPE. Sigh, perhaps next year. Until then, "Keep fighting, little buddies."
ESPN makes some funky choices for games to show. Minn-Purdue? Seriously? Were you trying to kill your announcing crew by subjecting them to that?
Indiana will find success under their new coach, but he'll still get canned long before Ron Zook runs out of smoke and mirrors to hide behind. Illinois fans are too confused about what is up with their coach to know what to do.
As many of you know, ESPN is suing OSU in the Ohio Supreme Court. ESPN claims that OSU rejected perfectly fine FOIA requests from ESPN asking for emails and other stuff related to some of the recent scandals. The media company survived the first couple legal obstacles erected by OSU and now they are starting to get into the substance of the case.
Today Ohio State filed several documents with the Ohio Supreme Court that anyone can view online. The first portion can be found here:
This first portion consists of affidavits from OSU staff, some letters, and other random stuff. One interesting tidbit came in an October 4 letter to ESPN’s lawyers:
“In particular, is ESPN seeking records regarding the specific NCAA investigation that led to Coach Tressel leaving the University? Or is ESPN seeking records related to any NCAA investigation involving Jim Tressel since January 1, 2010 (i.e. investigations of all matters, which involved the NCAA and, for which Jim Tressel had some involvement)? That distinction is important because the January 1, 2010, date significantly precedes the investigation that has been ESPN's primary focus. Further, as you can see from the records produced in response to ESPN's past violations request, several investigations since then did examine Coach Tressel's actions in the course of investigating matters completely unrelated to the investigation leading to Tressel's separation from OSU.”
Another interesting revelation came in Exhibit A to Sandra Anderson’s affidavit (about 3/4 of the way through the document). The exhibit shows that OSU has held back 51 documents containing the word, “Sarniak.” Considering that many of those are probably different emails within the same email thread, my guess is that this amounts to approximately 10 or 15 email threads. That’s a complete shot in the dark based simply on being involved in various court cases involving emails.
Finally, it appears from the affidavits in this first portion that OSU is putting all of its eggs in the FERPA (federal student privacy law) basket. OSU thinks it will be allowed to ignore these FOIA requests from ESPN based on the federal student privacy law. That battle will be played out over the coming weeks before the court.
The second portion of documents submitted by OSU are comprised of all the emails and attachments they have already produced to ESPN. There are lots of pages – I’m guessing hundreds. I couldn’t read through it all but if you are suddenly fueled by an urge to read volumes of emails that ESPN found uninteresting, then go for it:
Within the next 24 hours, we might also see some documents from ESPN.
What happens then?
Oct 21: ESPN files a brief with its legal arguments.
Nov. 10: OSU files a brief trying to debunk ESPN’s legal arguments.
Nov. 17: ESPN files a smaller brief trying to debunk the debunking of its arguments.
Somewhere in the distant future: the Ohio Supreme Court makes a decision.
Per his twitter, DGDestroys says "looks like we are on committment watch..."
I've been a fan of football for 30 plus years but always as more of a casual observer. I've never played organized football and until recently I've watched football much like college kids drink wine; with a lack of true understanding (no offense intended to the Boone's Farm contingent). Based on the advanced content we get from some of the Mgobloggers, I took it upon myself to educate myself and deepen my understanding of the treasure-trove of information that is supplied on a weekly basis. If you don't know the difference between a Mike, Sam, and Will linebacker or are lost when someone refers to the A-gap I encourage you to check out About.com. http://football.about.com/od/positionprofiles/a/Linebacker.htm The second link describes the different defensive line techniques (i.e. 3tech, 5tech, etc.) http://football.about.com/od/intermediateinstruction/a/Defensive-Gap-Con... I've never known where to find these things in the past and figured others of you might benefit. All apologies for the formatting but it's my first post and an iPad one on top of it.