chance of bowl: 13.6%
100% complete insanity
UNBELIEVABLE. LET'S NEVER SPEAK OF THIS AGAIN.
I mentioned this on the podcast, but here's a text version: the recent shuffling in the football program does not fill me with a feeing of warmth. Three things that have happened that make me frown about where we are right now:
Moving Jake Ryan to MLB. The linebackers were slightly disappointing last year but mostly because they ended up playing behind guys like Nose Tackle Jibreel Black and Richard Ash. They weren't kept clean, ate a lot of instant-release blocks, and tried to cope.
Desmond Morgan is a quality player and James Ross will be once someone blocks a dude in front of him; Michigan also returns both of their backups. There is zero reason to move Ryan to the interior.
Meanwhile, SAM is much closer to the WDE spot than either interior one. Michigan will flip its line on up to 40% of their snaps, whereupon Ryan essentially is the WDE. He has never had to read run/pass from behind a defensive line. He's is prone to breakdowns he can get away with on the edge, given his athleticism and time. He has a spot as a WDE in nickel packages that gets him rushing the passer, which he's really good at. He's not used to the zone drops he needs to take from the interior. His best asset—rushing upfield—is going to happen on way fewer snaps.
That move is flat-out nonsense. Who plays SAM now? Are they moving Ross there? Playing Gant? McCray? Any knowledge we don't have about why they're making this move is bad knowledge to have about the future: it basically means that the current returning starters on the interior can't play, unless you want to be a Mike McCray booster.
Reshuffling every defensive assistant. Cornerbacks coach Roy Manning, who has never played or coached cornerbacks, sounds… not good. I'm willing to throw anyone who can recruit at a RB or WR position, but corner seems like a thing that you should either have done yourself or have a heap of previous experience doing.
Other guys do have some experience with the roles they step into, but shuffling these guys around is redolent of panic and seems unlikely to do much of anything to help. They had something very good going with their DL development, something that personnel issues may have obscured last year.
And the defense was basically fine last year until the last two games, when they got ground down by the best rushing offense in the country and blasted off the field by Tyler Lockett. Neither was entirely surprising. Meanwhile, the offensive staff is sacrosanct save the coordinator.
Chris Bryant's departure. Not that I had much hope that Bryant was going to contribute once we'd heard about yet another surgery for the poor kid.
The issue here is that the exit, which Michigan certainly knew about or could predict before signing day, makes the whole no-commits-since August thing look even worse. It reinforces the toxicity that descended on the program midseason. It's one thing to lose the two DL you have on the hook because you can't run for yard one; it's an additional thing to replace them with air.
Depending on the status of a couple of special teams players, Michigan is one or two scholarships short and if inclined could have given a firm handshake to a couple of graduated fifth year guys. It's one thing to have a 16-man class when you've really only got 16 spots; it's another to leave three or four potential slots open, especially when you're the opposite of careful with redshirts.
That's why this class isn't quite what the star average makes it out to be, and why the recruiting tailspin hurts more than just on the defensive line.
These are the reasons I'm feeling nervous. But hey I was just feeling super optimistic in August so I'm probably totally wrong about this! That's the ticket!
The university and athletic department handled Gibbons about as well as he handled this field goal. [Eric Upchurch]
The Daily has revealed that the sketchy way Brendan Gibbons exited the program—a "tweak" before the OSU game followed by barely-credible claims of "family issues"—was in fact a result of the university expelling him for the 2009 rape allegations that were exhumed earlier this year:
“You will be permanently separated from the University of Michigan effective December 20, 2013,” reads a Dec. 19, 2013 letter addressed to Gibbons at his Florida residence from the University’s Office of Student Conflict Resolution, which facilitates disciplinary proceedings against students. The Michigan Daily did not obtain these documents from the University.
In human language, "permanently separated" is expulsion. The OSCR took that action based on a preponderance of the evidence.
Why it took almost five years to reach this conclusion is unknown. The Daily suggests that revised policies from 2011 may have forced the University to re-evaluate, but policies from 2011 do not result in December 2013 expulsions. Given the timing here it's clear that the guy who dumped various court documents on the internet was the proximate cause. That is of course terribly embarrassing for the university, which was apparently fine with having a student they eventually concluded they were at least 50.1% sure raped a girl as long as no one was complaining about it.
Meanwhile, the athletic department's optics here are horrible. Having him on the team is not the issue, or if it is it's on Rodriguez's head. The incident was a year old and seemingly dead when Hoke came in; without the OSCR or other university body stepping in there would be no reason to reconsider Gibbons's status.
But once they knew things were coming to a head they could not have been dumber about this. Not content with offering up the generic and 100% true "violation of team rules" explanation—being enrolled at the university is kind of important if you're going to be on the team—they chose to cloak Gibbons's departure in a thin veneer of sympathy by claiming "family issues." That is a lie. Now they look horrible, and for something a bit more serious than having a noodle in the stadium.
Meanwhile, Hoke's explanation for Gibbons's unavailability for Ohio State is questionable at best. Was this "tweak" legitimate? Is it at all plausible that Gibbons was "iffy" for the bowl game on December 16th, three days before the very last gear of ponderous university justice ground to a halt?
"He's a little iffy," Hoke said. "He's kicking a little bit. But I don't want to over-kick him (in practice).
"I've never been a kicker, so I can't imagine that (muscle pull) problem. So, he's a little iffy."
There is absolutely no chance that Brady Hoke was not fully informed of the status of his kicker by this point. Dave Brandon did not call Brady up on the 19th and say "you're never going to believe this, but…" That's also a lie, and in the service of what cause again?
UPDATE: A user who used to work at the OSCR provides details on the process:
Having worked at the Office of Student Conflict Resolution (the "disciplinary" office that administered the expulsion proceedings against Gibbons) for two years in undergrad, I thought maybe I could offer some insight / clear up some confusion about the OSCR process in this thread.
OSCR is not, in any appreciable sense, an investigatory body. It is a passive office that acts only after receiving a complaint from some member of the University community. While any individual student, faculty, or staff member can file a complaint, the most common OSCR complainants by far are Residence Education (Housing) and DPS. In order to pursue a complaint with OSCR, the Complainant has to provide all the necessary evidentiary backing; again, OSCR does not investigate events on its own.
The process for initiating and pursuing a complaint with OSCR goes as follows:
- An OSCR staff member conducts an intake meeting with the Complainant to discuss the nature of his/her/its complaint and inform the Complainant of the various resolution pathways available (in addition to formal arbitration, OSCR offers a number of alternative dispute resolution pathways that do not result in disciplinary action).
- An OSCR staff member will then conduct an intake meeting with the Respondent to notify him of the complaint and inform him of his rights/options in the process.
- At that point, the Respondent can either accept responsibility for the complaint or indicate that he's willing to proceed to a formal arbitration.
- Assuming that the Complainant is also interested in pursuing a formal arbitration, OSCR will either appoint a trained member of the University staff to serve as the formal arbiter, or it will select a panel of student arbiters.
- After hearing from both the Complainant and the Respondent, the arbiter or the student panel will reach a finding of "responsible" or "not responsible," and will then proceed to make a sanction recommendation.
- Any recommendations for expulsion have to be approved by a member of the University administration. When I was there, I believe this was the responsibility of the VP for Student Affairs, E. Royster Harper.
As you can see, this is a multi-step process that requires several meetings and often many different witnesses, advisors, and arbiters. With that said, it is emphatically NOT a three- or four-year process. Given that all of the investigatory work is already completed before a complaint is filed, the formal arbitration process does not take very long at all. In my time at OSCR, I can't remember a single arbitration - including those involving sexual assault allegations - lasting more than a single semester, from initial complaint to final sanction.
The lasting image of this game will be Devin Gardner, injured, spent, and devastated, flat on his back after his pass on the potential game-winning two-point conversion found Buckeye instead of Wolverine.
It's a shame, really, as Gardner gave one of great performances in the history of The Game today, leading a Michigan offensive explosion beyond anybody's wildest predictions. Gardner threw for 451 yards and four touchdowns, rushed for 34 yards and another score (above, Upchurch), and did all this despite clearly playing at less than 100%. The trio of running backs combined for 137 yards and another score on 24 carries; Al Borges, the offensive line, and the skill position players all had their best performances in over a month—603 total yards against the 13th-ranked defense in the country.
After Gardner lobbed a two-yard jump ball to Devin Funchess to make the score 42-41, Brady Hoke asked his seniors if they wanted to go for two and the win; Taylor Lewan said after the game that, to a man, the answer was yes. In a game that calls for cliché, they left it all on the field.
The Buckeyes did too, of course. The Michigan defense simply couldn't find a way to stop Braxton Miller (153 yards and three rushing TDs) and Carlos Hyde (226 yards and a score on 27 carries) on the ground; when OSU went to the air, they didn't hit often—Miller finished just 6/15 on the day—but when they did it went big, as Miller's six completions went for 133 yards and two more touchdowns. Missing safety Jarrod Wilson and weakside LB James Ross, not to mention focusing heavily on stopping the run, the defense repeatedly allowed big plays over the middle. By the time the Buckeyes got the ball with five minutes left and the game knotted at 35, the defense looked gassed and played like it, ceding a one-yard scoring plunge by Hyde to cap a six-play, 65-yard drive that featured exclusively runs.
Gardner was masterful in the two-minute drill, finding Funchess, then Drew Dileo twice, then Joe Reynolds, Justice Hayes, and Toussaint to move the Wolverines 82 yards before netting the final two and six points on the lob to Funchess. Michigan tried to free up a receiver on a rub route on the two-point conversion; the Buckeyes had it covered, though, and Gardner's hopeful throw landed in the arms of Tyvis Powell.
Michigan didn't just give Ohio State a fight—quite literally, in a couple instances (above, Fuller)—they played their part in an instant classic. Devin Gardner might've ended the game on his back; I'll remember all the times he got up before that, and what he did while he was standing, above all else.
Despite watching this approximately 457 times, I'm still in utter disbelief that this worked. Things required to have this happen:
- Jeremy Gallon immediately pitching the ball to an official.
- That official rugby-tossing the ball to the umpire.
- The umpire placing the ball down and getting the hell out of the way.
- FIRE DRILL LINE CHANGE.
- Drew Dileo, barely in the frame when the camera zooms out, realizing after a split-second hesitation that he must sprint to the right spot and slide into position.
- Jareth Glanda snapping the ball at the last possible moment so the line doesn't draw a flag.
- Brendan Gibbons marking off his steps at warp speed, then drilling a 44-yarder despite still moving backwards at the snap (which is legal, as covered in today's mailbag).
100% complete insanity, indeed.
If you're wondering about the identity of the guy in the black jacket running around like a manic behind the goalposts, that's Greg Dooley of MVictors. Livin' the dream, Greg.
[The rest of the Northwestern game in GIFS after THE JUMP, including Brady Hoke RAWKING OUT, Devin Gardner sacrificing life and rib, Derrick Green truck stick, and more angles of the miraculous field goal.]
"I hope we're all up on the latest changes to the NCAA rule book." [Fuller]
Wait, substitution. Wait. Wait, what?
So when the bearded lady rushed into the center ring to launch the football out of the cannon through the flaming uprights at the end of the Evanston Circus, Michigan obviously made a substitution. Northwestern did not make a substitution, but they, according to the Rules, could have. If they did, it seems like that would have taken more time before the official gave the ready for play, and potentially wasted enough time to run the clock out. In this parallel universe game which is crazier than the actual circus which unfolded, does Michigan get to attempt the field goal? How are the rules applied in that situation (which thankfully did not happen)?
UPDATE: NEVERMIND the below, as I missed this section in the rulebook:
Late in the first half Team A is out of timeouts. A pass play on third down ends inbounds at the B-25 short of the line to gain with the game clock showing 0:10. Facing fourth down and three, Team A immediately hurries its field goal team onto the field. RULING: Team B should reasonably expect that Team A will attempt a field goal in this situationand should have its field-goal defense unit ready. The umpire will not stand over the ball, as there should be no issue of the defense being uncertain about the next play.
Thanks to Maize and Blue Wahoo. I will self-immolate now like a Northwestern fan observing his team playing football.
We should have been screwed. The NCAA rulebook has a specific mention of this very scenario:
Late in the first half Team A is out of timeouts. A pass play on third down ends inbounds at the B-25 short of the line to gain with the game clock showing 0:30. Facing fourth down and three, Team A gives no indication as to its next play until the game clock reads 0:10. They then rush their field goal unit onto the field, and Team B then hurries to respond.
RULING: The umpire moves to the ball to prevent the snap until Team B has had a reasonable opportunity to get its field-goal defense unit onto the field. The umpire will step away when he judges that the defense has had enough time. If the game clock reads 0:00 before the ball is snapped after the umpire steps away, the half is over.
That is in blue along with various other new rules (like "minimum time for spiking the ball") this year, so it must have just been added. If Fitz tried to substitute, the rulebook says that the refs have to let him and the clock would then run out.
This is of course terrible since it prevents the sort of exciting thing that happened against Northwestern and replaces it with the clock running out because the defense can't get aligned in time and should be immediately stricken in the name of fun… except maybe it doesn't exist?
Game ref Bill LeMonnier:
“When a team is coming out and it’s the last play of the game and they substitute with their field-goal team, the defense is not given the opportunity,” referee Bill LeMonnier said. “Usually there’s match-up time on substitutions. When it’s the field-goal attempt like that on the last play of the half, then there’s no match-up given.”
This is in direct contradiction of the rulebook. So… yeah. I don't know. The only thing that may reconcile these two points of view is the rulebook stating that the team getting the FG unit out there spent 20 seconds doing nothing, whereas Michigan was clearly going GO GO GO as soon as Gallon was tackled.
Spiritually, if you can't get your FG block team on the field in that situation and the other team can get the play off, screw your field goal block team. Fire drills forever.
[After THE JUMP: talking Funk, safety rotation, and the latest bizarre email.]
GIS throws this at you when you google for Darrell Funk, so congrats Firstbase