things go poorly
"That was the finest beating I ever took."
Define the scope of the problem. After the Bama game I texted with my best friend Tres. Tres lives deep in SEC country, where the only conversation anyone ever has about college football is about how the SEC is better at it. So of course big Michigan—the Michigan that tripped up Tebow and outscored Shawn Alexander—getting gutted by the Crimson Tide has made his life oh so pleasant the last two weeks. Tres suggested that game was like when Amsterdam first tries to kill the Butcher. Walking into Bill's great big Dallas party and chucking it long to Devin Gardner while not getting Denard lit up was always doomed to fail, and in such a way that not even a moral victory might be claimed. So was going toe to toe and talent for talent with Saban the Butcher. But it's also that point in the movie when you learn what it takes to beat Bill: recruit your own army and come at him from the front.
Here's Ball State's old head coach talking to his players—among them mgouser IncrediblyBLUE—after "quieting the Big House" and losing…
He told us we needed to build on the positives, that we needed to use the energy we had taken with us to Ann Arbor and move forward to the rest of the season. This my friends, is when Coach Hoke told us that "a moral victory is still a .... loss."
This is how far you need to get, and if you don't get there you lose. Let it be a lesson.
I've almost exhausted the amount of times I can be like "I met this football player once" but there's one last important nugget from when I chatted up MSU LB Chris Norman for an hour at an airport. This is about when they played Alabama in that Citrus Bowl a few years ago. It was a blowout but according to Norman it was the most important game they ever played. Paraphrasing, facing Bama showed them exactly how far they needed to get. Players don't care who was a 3-star and who in the Rivals 100—they get on the field with guys like Dont'a Hightower or Courtney Upshaw and see linebacking done right.
We now know how far Michigan needs to get to win Hoke a championship.
More problem solving after the jump
A guy who gets it slightly more than the first commenter on the post.
In re: the sabotage version of Special K for a Day:
This is pretty obscure, so you're totally excused for having missed this, but I think all institutional destroying from the inside pretty much begins and ends with this deep cut: mid-70s Ann Arbor art-noise collective Destroy All Monsters reuniting in 2002 (with the late Mike Kelley on vocals) and disemboweling "The Victors" (begins about 0:47).
This is it:
I still like it better than "In The Big House."
Obviously Hoke and Co. are killing it on recruiting now and things couldn't be better. One thing my friends and I were talking about is how come there are so few good lefty quarterbacks historically. I'm only 29 so my football references are limited, but beyond Steve Young, Vick, Mark Brunell, Esiason, and Tebow can you think of any other top lefty quarterbacks that panned out? Should we be worried about Sugar Shane? Any idea why this is the case? Do high school coaches see strong lefty quarterbacks and immediately focus them on pitching?
I was initially going to dismiss this as paranoia but here's a blog post listing every lefthanded QB in NFL history as of this year. There have been 39 total, and the list of current lefty starters is Vick and Matt Leinart. Since Young retired in '99, the only lefties to have anything resembling a career are Scott Mitchell, Brunell, Vick, and Leinart with Tebow pending and Chris Simms carving out a modern-day-Todd-Collins ramblin' backup sort of career. Lefties are only 10% of the population but that's a period of 22 years with four(!) lefty QBs of any significance, one of them (Vick) a guy whose amazing physical gifts bought him chances he otherwise would not have gotten. Young was a scrambler, too.
The baseball explanation is plausible. The google leads you to the wikipedia and shows you an extensive discussion of the over-representation of lefthanded players in a lot of sports, including baseball, and when you think about the profile of a potential NFL quarterback and a potential MLB pitcher there's not a whole lot of difference. It's nice if they're tall, they don't really have to run much, and they have to be able to throw a ball through a brick wall. The baseball players don't have to be able to take a helmet to the ribs without folding in half. Football players don't seem to have that kind of restriction. A Venn diagram of the two groups has the NFL prospects as a subset of those for MLB.
The main difference between the two groups is their reaction to left-handedness. MLB says "yes please, with a cherry." The NFL says "this is inconvenient, now I have to reconfigure the offensive line. " So the guys in the NFL subset are much more likely to be sucked out of football, and voila: your population of 6'4" lefty riflemen who enjoy getting crushed is even more depressed relative to righties.
That's a long way of saying that I don't think Michigan has much to worry about in re: Shane Morris. The forces that make lefty NFL quarterbacks rare aren't likely to apply to individual quarterbacks who happen to be lefthanded.
addendum to most embarrassing Michigan items
probably should be slotted in just under the flying squirrel sleeping bag:
the name is incredible. Where is thematic gnome 1?
I think I may know the answer to this since I stumbled across a thematic gnome in my perusal of the official site:
I didn't put it on the list despite its ridiculousness because it's a mean gnome wearing a Michigan hat, what looks sort of like jean shorts, and fake wolverine-like shoes that I doubt exist in real life. It's almost so ridiculous it's defensible? I don't know.
The comment thread on that post turned into a confessional about which users had which items—no one confessed to the chili powder—so these things are obviously subjective. That is, they're subjective unless you're the other variety of person on that thread: the ones who were incensed that the product they perceived as most ludicrous was not higher.
brian, discussing superconferences today got me thinking. if the standards of a conference are 1 crossover game (as in a 16 team superconference) and a post season championship game, then doesn't the big ten and pac 12's future scheduling agreement of 1 game per year and champions playing in the rose bowl create something of a 24 team superconference between the big ten and pac 12?
why should either conference accept any more lower rung schools to dilute their tv money and bowl payouts to get to 16 teams when they already act in the equivalent capacity of a superconference?
I'm like… whoah. The chatter about the Big Ten-Pac-12 pact giving the conferences the advantages of a "superconference" without the drawbacks didn't make much sense to me when it happened, but putting it in that perspective is close to sense.
The way it makes things make sense is by making superconferences seem inexplicable. The ACC went to 14 in a panicked attempt to stave off poaching, or at least preserve a semblance of quality in its aftermath. The SEC went to 14 because Mike Slive screwed up his television negotiations. Absent those motivators why would anyone make a move like that? There is a clear motivation to get to 12—championship game—and none to go to 14 or 16. The superconference meme relies on the idea that the champions of the 16-team Death Stars will meet in a playoff, but how do you get there? You can't have a playoff without the Pac-12 and Big Ten, and neither of those conferences has any motivation to expand.
Hell, if you're Texas or Oklahoma the same logic applies to your ten-team conference. Right now those two teams have the easiest glide path to a playoff. They seem uninterested in getting the conference up to even 12 now that they've stabilized things.
The reasons you usually hear about the motivations to expand are hand-waving about footprints and stuff, unexamined Commisioner's New Clothes assumptions. Opposed to that are very obvious concerns about scheduling and keeping the pie slices the same size when you add teams. 16 team contraptions aren't a stable state. The rumbling in the ACC suggests even 14 is going to be awkward.
Abbreviated. A few site notes:
- The offensive UFR for Wisconsin is basically done and will go up tomorrow.
- Blog will be off Thursday and Friday for Thanksgiving; Wednesday will be light.
- I've said I'd do last-game UFRs before and not come through so this isn't a promise, but I do intend to UFR this Ohio State game and I have a vague idea to go back and do the Citrus Bowl against Florida; last year's OSU game can get screwed.
- This UV is abbreviated because I'll be on WTKA from 4-6. Please call in and be sane. 734 998-1050.
So happy together. Misopogon, who you may remember from such
Russian novels diaries as "The Decimated Defense," "The Decimated Defense Part II," and "I Make Crazy Hennecharts" would like to trade in some his accumulated MGoGoodwill for material reward. Because he's a nice guy, he'd like that material reward to go to homeless families in Detroit. There's a diary post up about it; right now the donation system is pretty clunky—you call this nice lady—but I am hectoring them to set up a paypal account so the donations can be easy.
People: this is Mitch Albom's charity. I have a dream that Mitch shows up to this thing and he says "where did all this stuff come from" and Misopogon says "MGoBlog" and Mitch has this Christmas Carol-style conversion where he runs from blog to blog liberally spreading comments and goodwill. Do it for your country.
The Victors on an unusual object that makes noise. The thing on the left is a pipa, and it's pretty cool:
Marching band needs more pipa. Go comment flamewar!
Yeesh. I twittered about this but it bears repeating on the main site: holy mother of God, if Les Miles had done what he did against Ole Miss in a Michigan game blood would be spouting from my eyes and I would be groping my way to Ann Arbor Torch & Pitchfork only to find the shelves picked bare.
For those who missed it: LSU recovers an onside kick and drives to the Ole Miss 31 with around a minute left. Miles doesn't make the classic mistake a lot of coaches do and settle for a near 50-yard field goal from your college kicker, as Randy Edsall did earlier in the day, but wild blitzing from Ole Miss confuses the LSU QB and sacks and whatnot ensue. Before fourth and twenty-two there are 27 seconds left on the clock; there are 9 left when LSU uses its last timeout. LSU completes a bomb and then spikes the ball despite snapping it with one second left; in the aftermath Miles says he doesn't know who called for the spike.
New Les Miles theory: he makes a lot of correct decisions for the wrong reasons. Reasons like "my brain has a vas deferens."
The spike's not even the worst part, the worst part is the inexplicable timeout fiasco. Miles on that:
"Timeouts were being called verbally, but I didn't relate to the official apparently, and that was a mistake. We didn't know [the timeout] hadn't been called."
Has anyone ever seen this late in a game? Sometimes you'll see a coach not get the attention of an official in time—Like (sigh) Jim Tressel on Saturday—but when there's 30 seconds left the official has got to be expecting the TO call and waiting for it. Given the statement about the spike I'm a little leery of that explanation.
Of course, Rodriguez keeps pulling Forcier for Denard Robinson. That was basically waving the white flag on Saturday, but Forcier had coughed up four turnovers at that point. So… yeah, more understandable than whatever that was from Miles.
Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez survived Bill Martin and Ohio State. He has survived President Mary Sue Coleman. But there could be one more hurdle.
Can he survive disgruntled big time boosters if they decide to withhold cash?
This story is not over. Despite claims otherwise I expect a few more cards to be played before the bowl season begins. The money men and women are not happy with Michigan's two-year record of 8-14. They are not thrilled to see Michigan finish last in a very mediocre Big Ten.
…in unrelated news, newspaper advertising has fallen almost $8 billion this year. There is literally nothing anyone can say that will stop uninformed speculation by Official Journalists about Rich Rodriguez getting fired.
Meanwhile, AnnArbor.com has a positive article on the fans' opinion of Rich Rodriguez. Freaky. Their highly unscientific, 683-vote poll currently has Rodriguez support running 2-to-1 in favor.
Wha happened? Jon Chait has an article on the Wolverine about what happened to the defense that's worth your time, though I disagree that the defensive line was a major problem except in certain situations where Craig Roh was overwhelmed by Wisconsin and a couple other teams. Probably 80% of the team's weakness against the run can be laid at the feet of the linebackers and safeties, as the frequent rotation at the end of the year indicated. No one was pulling Ryan Van Bergen off the field in favor of a walk-on.
Etc.: Jim Leavitt is a weird dude. Eye on Sports Media does a two-parter on Michigan opening up the press box to certain bloggers, including this site. BONUS: part one's title is piratey. Boring details on the AD search.