at least it's not just us?
Since when does Michigan turn into a "we need razzle dazzle trick plays" type of attitude. Here's what Michigan needs to do the last two games...COMPETE. Go out and hit both of them in the mouth, tackle better than we have, protect the ball and execute. If we do that, those games will be fourth quarter "up for grabs" types and we will all be happy. I personally think that we are going to win at least one of them.
But we won't do it by not being physical. Wisconsin and Ohio State will try to "out-physical" us and if that happens, it could be ugly. Our offensive line has been a bright spot all season and now this is their "coming out" party. Defensively, we dominated the line of scrimmage against a weak Purdue team. Now the "D" needs to strap it up and get going.
Our tackling will need to improve. Clay, Ball , White, Herron and Saine are 100 times better than any piece of crap from West Lafayette. We have been better at gang tackling and I think that is a positive. When the poor-mans Cam Newton (Pryor-although I am sure he is not poor$$$$$) carries it, we will have to be great 1-on-1 tacklers and I believe in our guys. We need to try to make both teams one-dimensional. If we can do that, we will be in good shape.
Also, we are becoming the worst team in the league in ball security. That being said, I don't think it is impossible for us to protect the ball. We did it early on vs. UCONN and ND, we need to revert back to form. Is it just me or has anyone else noticed that the only thing stopping us is turnovers? We are not punting the ball a lot so let's be +3 over the next two weeks and we'll be fine.
Lastly, just execute. QBs need to grade out highly with the zone read and we need to be physical. Throw the ball to the proper spot/receiver and let's run.
I am fired up. Hey Wisconsin and Ohio State, do you want some? Well come get some...
Be afraid, be very afraid.
Wisconsin is cheese and football and funny accents, so I had considered several images for this week's wallpaper including a moldy wedge of cheese, some appropriately mocking phrases with Wisconsonese phonetic spelling or a play on the mining roots of the "Badgers" nickname. I wasn't sure until very late what stereotypical Wisconsin imagery I would use, but I knew from the beginning that the image would be rendered as a cross stitch because you can probably walk into any home in Wisconsin and find a framed cross stitch on the wall. Most cross stitch art is tacky and cliché, so I've created a tacky and cliché image of a Wisconsin football player with a literal cheesehead.
The image below is a preview only. You can get this week's widescreen, 4:3, iPad and mobile wallpapers at The Art. The Art. The Art!.
How it was Made - Sorry, no video this week
As usual the artwork is all digital, though somewhere along the way I started to wonder whether it would have been faster to actually cross stitch the thing and photograph it. Probably not, but after copying and positioning hundreds of individual thread images I may have a full-blown case of stitcher's hand. I captured the creation of this week's wallpaper on video but unfortunately I had some unresolvable issues and won't be able to share it with you. I'm hopeful that I'll be able to resume the video demos with next week's Ohio State artwork.
All of the 2010 Schedule Wallpapers
That one's going to be required reading.
Bowl eligibility. Check.
Winning record. Check.
Now that Coach Rod is looking like he has shown tangible progress, I expect (more like hope) to see more razzle dazzle from the offense. He has said in previous interviews that he wants his offense to execute the basic plays well before adding new wrinkles. There is no better time than now since (1) opponents have 10 games of film which they will think they know the tendencies, (2) Michigan will be underdogs in both remaining games, and (3) not much to lose since Coach Rod has met most people expectations this season.
This offense is good enough not to depend on trick plays to score. The variety of "razzle dazzle" I'm referring to are other options and misdirection, like the reverse to Grady seen against Purdue. Here is a wrinkle from Coach Rod's offense we have yet to see this season:
What do other mgobloggers like to see?
Dave Brandon talks about his vision for Michigan Athletics with Crain's Detroit Business in an interesting article and accompanying set of video clips. Some things that seem new from the article:
- The Athletic Department will soon have a Chief Marketing Officer
The athletic department is conducting a national search for its first chief marketing officer, and Brandon is looking at where money should be spent on promotion.
"The first thing you need to do is resource properly against the areas that are very important. This is a department that's been under-resourced in terms of marketing muscle and expertise," he said, noting that just three people worked on marketing for UM athletics. The new CMO will add more staff. "(We will) craft the message a little better in the media in terms of who we are, what's going on here and why it ought to be attractive to people," he said.
- The Athlectic Department is developing its first business plan since 2003
"One of the things we need to do is have a business plan," he said. "When I got here, it had been since 2003 that we really did any planning." Brandon continues to put together his leadership team and plans to conduct a retreat at which the strategic goals will be discussed. Whatever the goals, money will make them happen.
"We're going to need to grow our revenues, we're going to need to continue to find out ways to stimulate growth in our external revenue streams and maybe create some new revenue streams that afford us the ability to grow," he said. Plans on just how to do that are still being formulated.
- New sports, new facilities projects?
He has no plans to add sports or new facilities -- already under way is a $20 million renovation of Crisler Arena, home court for the Wolverines' basketball teams, and a $226 million renovation of Michigan Stadium was completed this year -- but instead will look at things such as value-added ticketing and improved concessions.
While club seating is likely, there are no plans to add suites or ice-making equipment at Crisler, and the department will renovate Yost Ice Arena by replacing the bleachers, improving food service and adding a new scoreboard and audio system, he said.
The lights scheduled to be installed at Michigan Stadium after the season likely will mean more night football games, which are lucrative to schools because the networks feast on the high ratings.
"We create all of our revenues that we use to support ourselves, we fund all of our capital projects, we cover our own costs," he said. "Our job is to bring in more revenue than we have costs, and then take what's left over and reinvest it in facilities and equipment and things we need to be successful."
- What schools does Brandon measure Michigan against?
UM zealots may consider it heresy, but Brandon pays especially close attention to how archrival Ohio State University operates its $120 million athletics program, with its NCAA-leading 36 teams. "I have great admiration for what they've achieved in their athletics program," he said. "The fact that Ohio State is very good at what it does affords me the ability to look down the road here at a very comparable institution we want to match up against, and we want to win. I have a whole bunch of ways to measure our performance against Ohio State and do that on almost a daily basis."
Brandon also benchmarks Michigan against two other successful large programs, the University of Florida and the University of Texas, looking at revenue, ticket prices, condition and competitiveness of facilities and coaches' records.
In the accompanying video piece, Brandon discusses:
- His view on the firing of coaches. Talks about how Bo never won a national championship, at one point was 1-6 [sic] in bowl games and had no prior connection to Michigan and wonders if it would have made sense to fire him then. Makes it clear he does not have a quick trigger on the firing switch. The unstated comparison of RichRod to Bo is powerful.
- His perspective of the football program's violations of NCAA rules. Explains they made errors and need to be better, but bemoans the fact that there are only two categories of violations (major and secondary) and that Michigan's violations are lumped in with things like gambling, pay-to-play, et al.
- The media's superficial take on the program. Talks about how his perspective inside the program is much broader than that held by bloggers, talk radio types and the rest of the media.
In a related topic (but not covered in this article/interview), in Saturday's pre-game chat with Bruce Madej at MGoBlue.com, I asked a question about former associate athletic director for compliance Judy Van Horn's departure and Bruce replied privately. According to him, her departure was not expected and not engineered by anyone at Michigan. She took the South Carolina job on her own and there's currently a candidate search underway. This makes sense since there was no announcement about a successor in Brandon's abbreviated comment about her move. Pimp hand notwithstading.
[Edit: Video embedding doesn't seem to be working. If you're interested in viewing it, click on the link at the top of the OP and view it at the source.]
UPDATED: Analysis updated to accuont for mistakenly putting Fiesta ahead of Orange in this year's at-large selections..
BCS standings for Wk 12 as of 8:15p EST:
10. Oklahoma State
9. Ohio State
7. Wisconsin (if the Badgers, Ohio State and Michigan State all finish with one loss, Wisky goes to the Rose Bowl as the Big Ten champion)
4. Boise State (no jump)
3. TCU (even though TCU dropped behind Boise State in the human polls)
Pretty much there are limited permuations of the BCS... I'm going to start with the pretty much locks:
ACC, Big East, and Big 12 will likely only get one team in the BCS game. ACC and Big East due to the general ineptness of the conferences. These will likely be:
- ACC: winner of Va Tech v Florida St/NC St/Maryland championship game. This winner will go to the Orange Bowl.
- Big East: Who the hell knows... could be Pitt, West Va, Syracuse, even UConn(!). Bottom line is this team will likely be the last team picked by BCS bowls when picking opponents for the mandatory games.
- Big 12: It now appears that the best the Big 12 could do is a conference champion with 1 loss (Ok St or Nebraska) and a 2nd place runner up with 2-losses. With the wealth of undefeated teams, 3 1-loss teams from the Big Ten, and maybe a 1-loss Stanford, I doubt a 2-loss Big 12 team is going to get picked as an at large, especially when the last at-large slot maybe in the Fiesta Bowl (more on that later). for simplicity sake, I'll say winner of Neb / Ok St in the Big 12 champ game, fully cognizant that Oklahoma could beat Ok St and get in the champ game against Neb (but this wouldn't do any better for the Big 12 as a conference BCS wise)
- SEC: They're probably going to get 2 teams in the BCS no matter what. If Auburn gets in the BCS champ game, then a 1-loss LSU is your likely 2nd team in the Sugar Bowl. If Auburn loses to Alabama, it'll be the winner of the SEC champ game as the Sugar Bowl rep and a 1-loss LSU as an at-large. If Auburn beats Alabama but loses in the SEC championship to So Car, it'll be So Car in the Sugar Bowl and either LSU or Auburn as an at-large. Bottom line: SEC's getting 2 teams. Damn.
- Non-AQ's: One of them is getting in for sure. Two is wholly dependent on if Boise or TCU qualifies for the Natl Champ game. B/c of a contractural quirk for this year, if a non-AQ makes it as an at-large and a Pac-10 team is in the MyNCG, then the non-AQ must go to the Rose Bowl. Still a shot for an at-large in the Orange Bowl, but that may be dictated by who wins the ACC (see below).
So assuming the season holds in terms of chalk teams winning, we'll be looking at:
- BCS Champ: Oregon v Auburn
- Rose Bowl: Wisconsin v. TCU/Boise (whoever ends up higher in BCS if they're both undefeated, autobid as per BCS selection rule 3A/B)
- Sugar Bowl: LSU vs. at-large
- Orange Bowl: Va Tech/FlaSt/NC St/Maryland v. at-large
- Fiesta Bowl: Neb/OkSt v. at-large
So let's analyze the competition for the at-large slots. It is impertive to understand that the order of selection will play HUGE in this decision. I'll analyze them in the order of the at-large selections:
- Sugar Bowl: already made LSU the replacement pick for Auburn in the MyNCG. So looking for 1 at-large team to match-up against LSU. The choices are either a 1-loss Big Ten team (tOSU, Mich St), a 1-loss Stanford, or an undefeated Boise St/TCU (at this point it's still Boise St as TCU is higher in BCS and gets the non-AQ autobid). My thinking is that from a bowl organizers point of view, a Big Ten team, especially tOSU probably gets more butts in seats and generates a better TV viewership than Stanford. So now the choise is really between tOSU and an undefeated non-AQ. Since a non-AQ is already in the BCS, I say tOSU gets the at-large slot
- Orange Bowl: Already have the ACC champ... if it's Va tech, then a Boise at-large here is unlikely as common thought is to avoid rematches (especially since it wasn't that good of a game in the first case). Va Tech vs Stanford might be attractive here, or the Orange might bite the bullet if convinced by the rest of the BCS hierarchy and take the Big East champ. If it's not Va Tech, then Boise might be a good selection to prop up a not as attractive FlaSt / NC St / Maryland ACC champ.
- Fiesta Bowl: already have the Big 12 winner, so looking for someone to matchup with Neb / Ok St / OU. Here its a crap shoot and dependent on who the Orange takes. Orange takes Boise, then the Big East champ has to go here. Orange doesn't take Boise and takes the Big East champ, then I could see either Stanford or Boise St, and frankly a Big 12 v Boise St rematch may be more viewer friendly than Stanford (especially if Boise St has a Heisman finalist Kellan Moore at QB, sorry Andrew Luck). Stanford though is still a national name (albeit with a weak in-person following), and I'm torn. I'd say you could flip a coin and land with either Stanford or Boise St.
The wrenches in the plan
There are a couple big wrenches that could be thrown in the gears here:
- the Big Ten doesn't end up with both Ohio St and Wisconsin with 1-loss: in real terms, a 1-loss Mich St doesn't matchup as well in a at-large comparison with undefeated Boise St or a 1-loss Stanford if they don't get the Rose Bowl bid. They way it's working right now, if Sparty ties with Wiscy only, then they''ll get the Rose Bowl as a result of a head to head win against the Badgers. Wisconsin then would still be a pretty strong at-large bid for either the Sugar or Orange Bowl. If its Mich St and tOSU, then tOSU will get the Rose Bowl and Sparty will be left to fend for the at-large against Boise & Stanford, and frankly I don't think they win that comparison.
- Oregon loses: that vaults either TCU or Boise into the MyNCG, Oregon to the Rose Bowl and then by my reading, as long as the other TCU / Boise team is still in the rule 3A/B auto-bid position, they'll get in as an auto-bid, probably in the Sugar or Fiesta and knock out Stanford or a 2nd Big Ten team from the BCS
- Auburn loses: here it matters when Auburn loses. they lose to Alabama in the Iron Bowl but beat So Car, they still have a shot at the MyNCG bid as the #2 team. They lose to So Car in the SEC champ, they'll be in a fight with LSU for an at-large in the Orange Bowl, since So Car will be in the Sugar Bowl, and the Sugar won't have SEC v SEC (Orange Bowl will almost certainly pick a 2nd SEC team over the Big East champ or anybody else)
Your weekly sign of the apolcalypse:
- Still looks like only way Boise and TCU meet in the MyNCG is if Auburn and Oregon lose, most likely Auburn losing in the SEC championship game. But if that happens, both non-AQ's are well positioned with human pollsters to jump into the #1 / #2 slot needed to overcome computer softness.
Whew.... that's it for this week. Begin the comment storm!