"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
Previously: 1984 Miami
The Highlights: WolverineHistorian
The Setup: We left off with Michigan's opening game from the 1984 season, so there's clearly some catching up to do. After knocking off #1 Miami, the Wolverines fell back to earth the next week with a 20-11 defeat at the hands of #16 Washington, and a few weeks later they'd suffer their worst loss when Jim Harbaugh broke his arm diving for a fumble against Michigan State. Michigan went on to lose that game, and with Harbaugh out for the season the Wolverines stumbled to a 6-6 record, their worst under Bo Schembechler.
In Natural Enemies, John Kryk laid out the stakes for the 1985 season opener against Notre Dame:
Never was a Notre Dame-Michigan game more pivotal for both teams than the one played at Michigan Stadium on September 14, 1985.
Michigan was coming off its worst season in 17 years, 6-6, and its fourth straight with fewer than 10 wins. Some critics were suggesting the game had passed coach Bo Schembechler by.
Notre Dame was coming off another mediocre campaign, 7-5, and coach Gerry Faust was entering the final year of a five-year contract. It was believed Faust had to take the Fighting Irish to a major bowl game to have any chance of staying.
Thus, for both teams, for both coaches, this game was the crossroads. The winner would spring toward the path of rejuvenation; the loser would turn back and battle the same old demons for yet another season.
The mood was so tense in the week leading up to the game that after Harbaugh threw a couple picks in a scrimmage against the first-team defense, Schembechler threatened to bench him for Chris Zurbrugg, who'd filled in for Harbaugh the previous season with middling results.
Despite both teams' mediocre results the year before, this matchup wasn't short on talent. Michigan had Harbaugh, Jamie Morris, and a pair of All-Americans in defensive lineman Mike Hammerstein and cornerback Brad Cochran. Notre Dame featured longtime NFL QB Steve Beuerlein (though coming off major shoulder surgery), a Heisman Trophy candidate at running back in Allen Pinkett, and future Heisman winner Tim Brown at receiver.
[Hit THE JUMP.]
Just a few more days to get in on the pre-sale of HTTV and the now-happening Hail to Hoops and Hockey and the Victors and Michigan Wooo. (working title). A lot of you held off on the second book until you were sure it was gonna get made—head over there --> and you can change your contribution to get in on the pre-sale. It'll cost about $18.50 total to get it mailed after the kickstarter.
Filed under 'V' for 'Viking'
It's the week after the Spring Game, so the OT rules have been lifted on the board and the diaries have kinda fallen back into meta things and wallpapers (jonvalk's) mostly. Everyone can pick their favorite distraction between hedging on MSC's replacement, dickering around with MGoPoints, or bringing music to Brazilians.
My distraction was this thread put up by OHbornUMfan trying to make an alphabetical Michigan Football rhyming book. I got carried away:
A is for the Andersons, who called each other "bro." Kurt played center in aught-one, and Erick starred for Mo.
B is for the Brackinses, the Vols can have them back. No matter how you spell the name the player is all-MAC.*
C should be for Carter, or Lloyd or Chappuis. But it goes to Carson and Criswell, to make their coach happy.
E we know for Edwards, of the singular jersey num--. The father he, played in Rose Bowls: three, victorious in 1.
F we'll have a falling out if ever you should say, a greater QB ever played than Friedman in his day.
G is for Glenn Edward, a name you'd never know. For though he was our greatest man, we've always called him "Bo."
H we have for Hammersteins behind the scrimmage line. Mark there saving Harbaugh's ass, and Mike there curving spines.
…and here a second honoree I simply must propose: for 'Hello-Heisman' Desmond Howard, he of that famous pose.
…and GAWD YOU GUYS I KNOW we'll never get to I. But cumong: Henne, Hart and Hutchinson, and that Willie Heston guy!
I is Jarrett Irons, from Woodland, Texas came. With he and Steele and Swett and Sword we won with just our names.
J could be a Johnson, or Jones: we've had our share. But here I'll take a Jackson, the one at corner not on air. (Marlin/Keith)
K is for Ron Kramer, and "end" he's called in song. "That guy who can do everything" I guess was just too long.
…and let's salute the Kolesars from Bob of Seven Oaks.* There's Bill the tackle and his son John, who caught that Harbaugh post.†
M is written wide in block and on the seal again. It kicks off Messner, Mandich, Molk, but always Michigan.
N is Harry Newman remember when I said, that we'll have words if Friedman falls; we'll have to start that thread.
O is Obi Ezeh—almost had you there, again! It stands for Bennie Oosterbaan, three-time All-American.
P is Mr. President, also known as Gerald Ford. Before the Constitution, he defended Willis Ward.
Q Shit this one's hard: maybe go with Quinton Washington? Well yeah, if our line stands up this year, he goes right with the rest of them!
R we save for Robinson, don't make me tell you why.
And S is for his massive smile; that's how much we love that guy!
T is for Terrific Tom, the best you'll ever see. Harmon starts with 'H' it's true, but Touchdown's spelled with 'T'.
U is for "unmitigated", forever paired with "gall", since Ufer first applied them to Ohio State that fall.
V is "Van", that's Dutch for "from" or "white guy who plays D." We've had our share but the best from there of course was RVB.
…it also stands for "Viking," comma, "pet of Brady Hoke." Another name for Everitt, a scary looking bloke.
W I leave to you say reverentially. He had a better year than Peyton, evidentially.
X is that one empty seat, for what is writ upon it. Each year we save a bench for Fritz and the wings upon our bonnet.
Y can only be one guy unless you are insane. He built this program and its house; the barn now bears his name.
Z took time to get to, the reason that that is: Zoltan Mesko punted it in two thousand and six.
Notes & Errata:
*I had classes with both brothers—I'm the year between them in age—and they're both incredibly nice guys I enjoy giving crap to. I didn't know Tim Brackens; he's an innocent victim.
** The 1942 line was called the "Seven Oaks Post."
† …in 1985 to beat Ohio State.
Rules are keep the rhyming scheme. I give myself diarist of the week because apparently M-Wolverine is catching up to me.
Your moment of zen:
Bounce back begins. Harbaugh's back and you're gonna be in trouble.
Hey na, hey na.
Ufershirt part 2. We have a new Ufer shirt in the store:
Tooley. Derek Dooley goes on the offensive in the AJC to defend oversigning. He makes one cogent point: the SEC rule doesn't really end the practice since 25 x 4 = 100. Well struck.
Unfortunately, using that point to call out the SEC for putting a fig leaf on a PR problem falls flat after asserting two Immense Benefits Of Oversigning. The First Immense Benefit Of Oversigning:
I think over-signing is good for the student-athlete. Let me give you some hypotheticals: Let’s say a a guy gets hurt his senior year, and there’s a good chance he won’t play his freshman year of college. He has got to do surgery and rehab. What could we do in the past? In the past, we could sign him, grayshirt him and put him in next year’s class. That allowed him to come to the type of school he wanted to come to, whereas now those kind of guys have to go to a different school.
The kind explanation here is that Dooley doesn't know NCAA rules. The letter of intent is not required to give a student athlete a scholarship, as dozens of early enrollees prove every January. Brandon Knight never bothered with a LOI before he showed up for his single season at Kentucky.
The only thing the LOI does is lock the athlete into a school. It gets the athlete very little. If you're eligible and have signed a letter of intent and Les Miles has an oopsie and has 86 scholarship players, someone's getting screwed. Hint: it is not Les Miles.
The above scenario can still take place. It's just that the player you're benevolently grayshirting can still take a better offer if one comes along. He can go to the type of school he wanted to go to because he's not locked in. Dooley is protesting that not restricting athletes' choices prevents them from choosing.
The second scenario is let’s take a guy who academically not eligible. … You look at their mid-year grades and you see that they’re going to be an academic risk, or there’s a good chance that they won’t qualify. Well, then you have to make a decision. Because in the past, you could sign them and if he didn’t qualify, place him in a junior college, help him get into a junior college and give him the motivation to come back to your school one day. Now you can’t sign him, or you’re not willing to take that risk because you can’t be short on your roster. So now they’re more on their own, and they don’t get to sign with the school that they want to go to.
If they do qualify, they can still attend your school. Thus the Second Immense Benefit Of Oversigning is that players who aren't going to make it get to sign a meaningless piece of paper so they can pretend they are not going to JUCO.
So there’s a lot of good things about over-signing that gives more opportunities for good players. When you eliminate that, now you’re providing less opportunities for them.
"Opportunity" is a zero-sum game. To give a player an opportunity you have to take one away from someone else.
In conclusion, Derek Dooley is getting fired next year.
Did we invent the sweatervest? Rick Santorum* apparently wears them, which has prompted Slate to write about them. They attempt to trace the origins of the thing and think it originated in Ann Arbor of all places:
The Oxford English Dictionary lists the first use of “sweater” in 1882, in reference to the sleeve-having woolens used by rowers to encourage profuse sweating, and consequently, weight loss. By the turn of the century, the sweater, though still considered sportsman’s garb, had lost its perspiratory function and become a more standard jacket substitute. It seems to be at this point, or shortly thereafter, that the idea was first had to lop off the sleeves. In 1907, 14 members of Michigan’s football team were rewarded with an embroidered “M” sewn, for the first time, onto not regular sweaters, but sweater vests.
Like script Ohio, an Ohio State tradition comes from that school up north.
*[NO POLITICS REMINDER]
Origins and breakdowns. Our Helmets Have Wings—another Michigan blog that made a bad investment in a Rodriguez-themed title—provides a thorough breakdown of Michigan's most recent class. Michigan's percentage of recruits from the local area has been increasing:
Michigan's last three years are the most Midwest-heavy in a while. Whether that's increasing local talent or a decline in Michigan's ability to sell itself nationally is in the eye of the beholder. The most recent class appears to be the former. The previous ones maybe not so much.
Let's build narratives from them. Kenpom is irritated at the insistent narrative surrounding Murray State's first loss of the year:
It’s the manufactured stories that attempt to explain the often-unexplainable variability in a team’s performance that I take issue with. Some team salvages its season by going on a late winning-streak and the origins of the streak are explained by a players-only meeting or the team captain stepping up and being a leader, or a renewed emphasis on defense, etc. When in reality, the causes of the change may have been more complicated that anyone could truly understand. (Naturally, this xkcd comic comes to mind.)
Murray State’s loss last week provided one of the clearest such examples of this method of analysis. The general assumption after the loss was that the Racers cracked under the pressure [(1), (2), (3)] of their unbeaten record. Even the coach said so! The thing is, Murray never reached a point during the season where they were better than a 50% proposition to go unbeaten in conference. You play enough games in which you are heavily favored, and you are going to lose eventually. Put more precisely, a team that plays ten games as a 90% favorite is expected to lose once during that span, and the Racers have played a lot of such games this season, including the game against Tennessee State.
The average deviation from the Vegas line is an impressively large 8.4 points. A lot of random stuff happens in a college basketball game.
Short-sighted next-quarter revenue is everywhere. Mike Slive inexplicably adding two mediocre Big 12 schools to the SEC now threatens the annual protected crossover game in the SEC and rivalries like Auburn-Georgia because the league refuses to add a ninth conference game. This is good for the immediate bottom line but long-term it threatens to erode fandom. Braves & Birds:
the SEC has been so thoroughly sucked into the vortex of being a quasi-pro sport that short-term revenue maximization is now the name of the game. The changes to the conference in the 90s - splitting into divisions and joining a two-team playoff - proved to be beneficial in getting the league where it is today, but the decision in the works to jettison two of the SEC's best rivalries is unlikely to have any such upsides. Aside from the facts that the decision has angered the league's core consumers and could turn them against the new arrivals ("thanks, Mizzou, you cost us the Deep South's oldest rivalry and the Third Saturday in October"), the change will upset the rhythm of the season and ever so slightly diminish the quality of the TV product. The SEC is losing a little of its soul with this decision, and its soul is part of what makes the conference so profitable.
The Alabama-Tennessee game is so deeply part of the identities of the two schools that their reflexive response to "third Saturday in October" is the opponent they've played every year on that date since proto-Bear trudged out of the ocean. The SEC is dumping that tradition for 1) the opportunity to renegotiate a bad TV contract and 2) the sanctity of games against Furman and the Citadel.
An excellent idea. The long-rumored M-OSU lacrosse game in Michigan Stadium is official:
Team 133 will take the field for its annual spring scrimmage at noon EST on Saturday, April 14. Prior to the football team's debut, the Victors Classic Alumni Flag Football Game will be held at 10 a.m. inside the Big House.
Following the football scrimmage at 2:30 p.m. will be the "Battle in the Big House," which pits Michigan's first-year varsity men's lacrosse team against Ohio State.
I look forward to taking in a live lacrosse game for the first time.
Etc.: Michigan's goals against MSU broken down in the diaries; good discussion in the comments as well. The Joe sold out for the MSU game on Saturday. Odd timing for the first sellout in a while there. The Daily reminds us of Hunwick's Wildcat uppercut earlier in the year. If you want to know why everyone in the world is running him, that's why. Also because they get away with it. MHN interviews 2013 commit Evan Allen.
Sponsorship note! This is going to be ironic given the crabbing a bit later about excessively corporate bits, but we've landed a sponsorship from a new book titled "For Michigan Fans Only" that will run over about the next two weeks. Check it out, see if you're interested, buy a copy or three, and discharge any lingering guilt you may have about not supporting the site.
Podcasting. I put in an appearance on The Michigan Man podcast to talk about the Purdue game, and talked some more new media stuff with Dan Levy of Press Coverage. And yes, we taped a podcast this week that should be up today or tomorrow. It is the angriest podcast.
Defense: we had it. Wolverine Historian's tribute to the mauling '85 defense:
Football with defense now seems like a bizarre anomaly that requires changes to your gameplanning.
Footie V. Congratulations to the men's soccer team, which won its first Big Ten title in 11 years of existence by stomping Penn State 4-1. MGoBlue has video highlights. Soony Saad's goal was a bit of a gift but Meram's two were sweet, and he would have had a hat trick but for a Penn State player pulling a Suarez. The BTN mics picked up the defender incredulously exclaiming "are you KIDDING ME, sir" after the guy had bashed away a certain goal with his forearm—even Rasheed Wallace thinks that's a stretch. BTW, Saad is now the nation's leading scorer with 18 goals.
The NCAA soccer tournament is a 48-team affair where 16 teams are seeded and receive byes; Michigan is the #10 seed and will play the winner of South Florida-Central Florida on Sunday at 2. The game is in Ann Arbor, so pack the place out. If they advance the third round will be at South Carolina or at home if SC is upset by the Coastal Carolina/Duke winner.
From national award winner thing to person at South Carolina. Your unbreakable faith in David Brandon's pimp hand has been further strengthened by the departure of compliance head Judy Van Horn for a job at South Carolina that seems identical to the one she's departing.
Van Horn only appears in the infamous CARA documents occasionally, mostly to gently spar with Draper. Whatever her offenses were they weren't public, and I plead not enough data if you're asking whether or not she should have been gently shown the door. I will say that I am enjoying the public announcements that Person Has Acquired Job You Don't Care About because they remind me of that scene in The Wire where deposed mayor Royce whispers sweet nothings to Clay Davis about staying in line or getting nothing. Don't go against the family.
Horrified Kafkaesque potato-man interlude.
In other Brandon. The Crain's Detroit Business article on Brandon has been kicked around on the message board already but a couple opinion type objects follow on from this:
As part of dealing with the infractions, Brandon plans to operate the athletics program much like he did the corporations he ran for more than two decades, Ann Arbor-based Domino's Pizza Inc. and Livonia-based coupon marketer Valassis Communications Inc.
That includes creating a business plan and bolstering the image. 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.
I guess that's fine and after the NCAA business it seems like a thorough reshaping of the athletic department is in order, but I'm a bit leery of the direction things have gone so far on the marketing front. I'm not buying a Big Chill shirt because it's got an Arby's logo on it. I'm extremely disappointed that David Brandon's pimp hand has so far spared Special K and his awful, generic gameday music.
The whole point of college athletics these days is a lack of the generic corporate moneygrab that makes professional games sterile experiences—have you been to a Wings game in the last ten years? Part of marketing the program is being actually different. Eroding the wall between Michigan's fusty, old-timey feel and your average AHL game brings a short-term Pavlovian response but hurts the development of long-term obsessives that allow Michigan to avoid two for one Subway promotions even when they're not doing that well.
This is a statement I don't like:
"My job as the quote-unquote CEO of Michigan athletics is to make sure that (the profit and loss statement) is healthy, that we're doing a good job of growing our revenues, that we're managing our costs," he said. "It operates very much like every business I've ever been associated with from the standpoint of what we do and what we need to do to be successful."
His job as the quote unquote CEO of Michigan athletics has zero to do with money. Money is a vehicle via which to graduate students and acquire wins, and in some cases I think the athletic department is sliding too much towards money. I thought the same thing under Martin, FWIW.
Hockey bits. A fuller exploration of what's going on with the hockey team will have to wait until football's over but, man, it's looking like a slightly less nerve-wracking version of last year. Michigan has avoided the ugly .500 start and is sitting at 6-3-3, but they're a last-second goal against Ferris State from splitting every weekend they've had this year save a sweep of Bowling Green. Michigan lost to a terrible version of BG last year so this is some progress. It's a far cry from the rampage they went on at the end of last season.
Making things a bit worse was how the Notre Dame series went down. Michigan was run out of the building Friday in a depressing game where they were outshot badly. This never happens. On Saturday they got down and then got a flood of freaky goals:
Michigan Hockey Net chalked the win up to puck luck and it's hard to disagree when Michigan's last three were some variety of bizarre. Langlais's invisible hockey player job is possibly the weirdest goal I've ever seen.
A lot of people have been muttering about a repeat of last year and it's not hard to see the similarities. Michigan does not have a lot of skill in the forward corps and has to rely on bombs and deflections too much. Only Hagelin brings a consistent look-at-that-guy presence on every shift. The goaltending is okay but not great, and the team seems to lack a shut down defenseman in the mold of a Mitera or a Komisarek.
At least they haven't lost to an awful team yet, and it looks like their schedule has been tough out of the gate—ND and Alaska are 1st and 4th in the league right now and Ferris is okay; even BG is 5-7 overall. UNH is 5-1-3. That Mercyhurst tie is going to rankle all year, though.
Cheese it! The cops! Penn State fans are still convinced that an epic refereeing conspiracy exists to prop up Michigan, and after watching this I'm convinced:
/commits seppuku because of the dishonor
Etc.: The Mathlete has us 50-50 to get to an eighth win before the bowl. Quite a coinflip coming up. Mets Maize on the Purdue game. John Clay might miss the Michigan game, but it won't matter since Wisconsin has two other fine backs.