He's kind of a mystery to most fans, but he's starting to get a little press. If everyone is like me, you were shocked to hear that a Juco QB was at the Michigan-Nebraska game this weekend. Turner attends a city college in San Francisco, but it wasn't for grades. Looks like he may get an offer if the numbers work out for Michigan. He's a really smart kid, he went the Juco route because he one day wanted to play big time division 1 football, instead of going the Ivy League route. He had an offer from Stanford, but didn't seem to be a right fit for him .
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He looks like a pretty solid kid to have on the roster in an emergency. Live arm, and can pick up the offense rather quickly.
Yesterday the hoops team outclassed a very athletic Memphis squad -- a win due in no small part to John Beilein's superior coaching and preparation. Meanwhile, the football team has put together two solid November wins for the first time in forever, including a thrashing of Nebraska. Going into The Game, this is the best we've felt about our chances to beat the damn Buckeyes in five years.
Which leads me to ask: When was the last time we felt this good about the current and future state of both revenue sports programs at U-M?
I was a Rich Rodriguez fan; I believed he was the breath of fresh air U-M football needed after The Horror and the general decline of the late-Carr era. It didn't work out -- no reason to rehash all that here. But after seeing:
- the way the football team has grown this year;
- the great incoming recruiting class;
- the unbelievable job Hoke and Mattison have done w/the defense; and
- the overall performance against Nebraska
I think few would deny U-M football is on the right path again.
Meanwhile, Beilein has just landed arguably the biggest U-M basketball recruit since Webber in Mitch McGary (plus GRobIII and Nick Stauskas -- not a bad way to round out a recruiting class!). He's answered the one question people had about him coming from W. Virginia -- whether he could recruit on an elite level. And if the current team performs up to expectations, Beilein will have gotten Michigan to the Big Dance in 3 of the past 4 seasons.
Best of all, neither Hoke nor Beilein is a flight risk the way, say, Harbaugh would've been.
I honestly can't remember the last time I felt so good about both the present and future of both programs at the same time. My only thought is fall of 2006, when Carr was having his last great season and the hoops team seemed to be heading at least vaguely in the right direction. (But by that point it was clear Amaker could not put together a coherent offense; meanwhile, Carr was certain to retire soon and the identity of his successor was unclear.)
But as of November 22, 2011, it's great to be a Michigan Wolverine -- and looks to be so well into the future!
p.s. - a sad aside -- I just read the news about Leon Hall tearing his Achilles last week. Damn. He might never be the same player again. But as Ross Tucker at ESPN writes, Hall's decision to sign his big contract extension before the season (rather than risk waiting to cash in after becoming a free agent) was a hell of a smart move in hindsight.
It's Thanksgiving week, so here's my list of things I'm thankful for (on the topic of ugly games, that is).
1. Eastern is bowl-egible. They've got a long way to go to get the third MAC bowl spot, but they can at least dream of the Famous Idaho Potao Bowl. Don't we all. Beating Northern Illinois this week would help their chances a little, but they'll need some help. Northern Illinois looks to be in the upper echelon of MAC teams, with a 6-1 conference record and winning a trackmeet against Toledo 63-60. That game featured 11 passing TDs. Bonus EMU related thankfulness: me making ESPN wonder "Why is Eastern's page getting so much traffic from Colorado?" I know Eastern is the Eagles, but they will always be the EMUs to me.
2. Florida Atlantic is down to their last two chances to end the season winless. I think I'm becoming a kinder, gentler person who wants to see them win. Unless I don't like their coach or something, like Alabama. Their next two games are against teams with 3 wins, but Troy was in that category as well and FAU lost by 27. FAU has a -24 point scoring difference, so this may be a big hill to climb for the Owls.UAB is almost as bad, with a -22 point scoring difference, but I think the competition in C-USA is better than the Sun Belt. I'm going with green bean casserole, because who likes green bean casserole?
3. The Big East. I could have written this entire column for the season with just the Big East. For example: the team currently leading is Louisville, 6-5 overall. Rutgers is tied with a conference record of 4-2, then Cincinnati and West Virginia are tied at 7-3, 3-2. I'm really hoping that Louisville beats USF and everybody else loses so there can be a 5 loss team in the BCS. There's way too many combinations at this point to figure it out, but at best, a 9-3 team is going to win the conference. This one gets the KFC Potato Bowl, because everything is in one big pile, and the end is not very good.
Now with bacon!
4. That everything looks like it's shaping up for Sparty to get fed to Oklahoma, or Oregon, or Arkansas. Karma, baby. The crazy man throwing the pie should be Chip Kelly.
There is a Michigan flag that flies outside of my front door, whipping back and forth on windy afternoons, and a different shade of maize on a rainy day. This weekend, my friends and I are retiring the flag. It is ripped at the top, and faded in the worst of ways. However, this flag is special to me. When I first flew this flag on my front porch, then on the other side of town, it was three years ago. Those days we were caught wondering if Michigan had a shot at a bowl game, or a bid to the big dance.
My fellow Michigan fans, those days, like that old flag, are gone now. We've weathered the storm. I firmly belive that starting very soon, we replace talk of a sixth or seventh win with chatter of a Rose Bowl. I believe that fans and players wont gather at Crisler to pray in unison for a tournament berth, but they will be waiting in earnest to see who we warm up against before a final four appearance. Yes, this is all just me opining, but you can start to feel it now.
Today, I don't feel nervous about Ohio in the way I have the past few years. I know that alot has happened, but for the first time in three to four years, I'm not wondering how much we're going to lose by. At no point do I consider a game won before it's even played. The good news is that this senior led football team doesn't either. This year a Michigan win wouldn't be an "upset".
And on the basketball end? I'm not predicting a Michigan win tonight. But with the growth we've seen, we're actually at a place to where beating Duke wouldn't call for a charging of the court. A win tonight would delight me, but honestly wouldn't surprise me.
We've got a great week ahead of us. And with the genuine sentiment of this blog, the Michigan faithful, and the people i spend my days around, it seems we have a great few years ahead of us, too. You can already feel it.
So this Saturday, as I fold that flag up, and three years of my avid Michigan fandom with it, I will be a little sad, a lot drunk, but a little sad. But I know that it will be time to go and buy a new one. A crisp, full-colored flag, with the richest maize and the deepest blue, and to fly it, just like the one before it, knowing there are better days ahead. Still lots of wind and rain, but maybe a few Rose Bowls, too.
And for that, I give a HAIL!
* I KNOW. COOL STORY BRO.