The nutty Michigan coverage isn't so much about Harbaugh as it is a signal to the Big Ten that Fox wants to party.
There won't be another one after. Not for Gardner. Not for Jake. Not for Hoke, for whom the accumulated effects of progressively worse seasons will mean the end. Not for a Michigan team that has less talent than their star ratings gave them, but far more than their record demonstrates.
As we come to the end—there will be no bowl game barring a miracle—for the Brady Hoke era, the tragedy is all of that wasted talent. That precious snaps with Denard Robinson and Vince Smith and David Molk and Patrick Omameh were wasted on Power because dogma. That Devin Gardner was never given the coaching or the system or the stability or the offensive line to be more than a freshman who runs around a lot. That Jake Ryan, who would have been Lawrence Taylor if he lived 30 years ago, spent his senior season having to learn a very hard thing he wasn't made to do. That Blake Countess is a coverage nickel because the cornerbacks play man all day. That Devin Funchess was a tight end, and then a bubble screen slot bug, until it was too late to care. That Dennis Norfleet was dancing around on the sidelines while A.J. Williams whiffed on blocks of defenders who wouldn't have been in the box otherwise. That senior seasons of Mone, Wile, Dymonte , Hurst, Gedeon, Houma, Delano, RJS, Ojemudia, Pipkins, Drake Johnson, Raymon, Da'Mario, Jarrod, Norfleet, Jourdan, Brandon Watson, Taco, Bolden, and Shane effing Morris were traded for a bare handful of freshman snaps that other guys might have taken.
That four years of Michigan football were wasted on Brady Hoke, and that here, at the end of all things, we're still not even sure those in charge will consider something besides unwavering faith in the gospel of "Michigan" in the next J. Ira and Nicki Harris Family Head Football Coach.
The next guy. These are now a week out of date but Eye of the Tiger put together a couple of roundups of the coaching candidates in our crosshairs. Factors are: Potential upside, Potential downside, Transition costs, Overall desirability, and Chances of him coming. Both start with Harbaughs; the first has Jim, Les, Mullen, Graham, and, uh, Belichick? Second has John, Patterson, McElwain, Herman, and…okay so the fifth guy is always some joke.
Alum96 added a defense of Les Miles to answer some guy made of straw who goes around saying LSU has regressed lately. Straw men are stupid. The main arguments against Les are that he's too old, and his coaching style is a better fit for LSU, which is near the extreme of anything-goes for college football, versus Michigan, where the local press turns you in for accidentally practicing an extra 20 minutes.
[Jump for seniors departing, a new basketball stat, and college football parity]
Foote in mouth. Larry Foote claimed, forgivably inarticulately, that Michigan's problem is we don't recruit enough kids who are used to a tougher road. I found a site that will take places in a spreadsheet and plot them on a map, and did so with the 2001 (Foote's and my senior year) and 2014 rosters, minus non-Kovacsian walk-ons. Yes there are errors still. Go ahead and zoom in.
Yellow is 2001; blue is 2014. Fullscreen
It sometimes does weird things like put Warren, Michigan, in the Upper Peninsula and I am fixing those one by one as I spot them. Findings:
- Lloyd had four guys from the Memphis area while Hoke did much better in Southwest Ohio. That's where those guys are from.
- Carr was able to penetrate deep into SEC country while Hoke has only managed to pick around the edges.
- Hoke gets more kids out of private schools and magnet schools (e.g. Cass Tech) than Lloyd did. This is because when I was in high school the big prep programs weren't recruiting as much as they do now, so talent wasn't as concentrated.
The differences are minor and speak less to changes in Michigan recruiting than general trends. It all amounts to mostly nothing.
Off the top of my head, the players Michigan has who come from 1% means are Wilton Speight, who's a redshirting freshman right now, and Matt Wile, who burned his redshirt because of Hagerup and waited patiently for three years behind a guy who probably shouldn't have been on the team. Foote's starting QBs were Tom Brady from a nice place in California, and John Navarre from Cudahy, Wisconsin, which is suburban Milwaukee on the Lake Michigan coastline. Meanwhile Devin Gardner went to Inkster, which doesn't even exist anymore. If Foote had been 13 years younger it's likely he'd have been picked up DCD (Mo Ways), OLSM (James Ross) or Cass Tech. Talent comes from all over; Michigan's talent comes from where it used to.
Bye week is wife day, as per Six Zero's family tradition. The espoused among us are encouraged to move back from the football for a moment and pay service to whatever your weird marital tradition might be. If she'd like you to lose an entire Saturday to outlet stores, that's rough, but she's worth it. If your wife would rather just get random butterflies from you and spend Saturday helping you rake leaves, then you're married to the bestest in the westest. Congratulations only me.
[Jump: on the Wisconsin coach we can't steal and the LSU one we probably shouldn't]
"There's a starman waiting in the sky. He'd like to come and meet us,
but he thinks he'd blow our minds."
November is the period when "pretty sure he won't be at San Fran" (neither Harbaugh could make the playoffs this year) can mean "he's gotta come!" So, dear diarists, let's dedicate a post to the starman waiting in the sky. This week resident coaching search guy in the diaries alum96 decided to look into Jim's meteoric rise. He included a table in there of split passing/rushing stats for offense and defense. I've taken this opportunity to recreate those as S&P+ ranks (total yardage ranks in parens) because there's a discrepancy in the passing:
|Season||Coach||Record||Rush O||Pass O||Rush D||Pass D|
|2006 Stanford||Singletary||1-11||105th (115)||107th (95)||94th (117)||47th (60)|
|2007 Stanford||Harbaugh||4-8||37th (102)||88th (70)||86th (77)||84th (84)|
|2008 Stanford||Harbaugh||5-7||6th (19)||15th (103)||104th (77)||99th (83)|
|2009 Stanford||Harbaugh||8-5||12th (11)||7th (70)||89th (55)||104th (98)|
|2010 Stanford||Harbaugh||12-1||30th (17)||2nd (29)||24th (19)||30th (16)|
|2011 Stanford||Shaw||11-2||18th (18)||10th (22)||32nd (3)||14th (73)|
|2014 Michigan||Hoke||4-5||45th (67)||70th (105)||6th (25)||44th (36)|
Major disagreements between S&P and the standard stats: the passing game in 2008 and 2009 (bolded) was extremely efficient, just not used very often. Thus total yardage looked awful, but in terms of what happened when they passed, it was very good even before you could explain it away as Andrew Luck. This is a common theme for Harbaugh reclamation projects; the former quarterback is the master of the pick-your-spots passing game. This is also a lesson in tempo—Stanford would plod along, depressing total yardage.
Let's not do this again until my find-on-page searches for "Michigan" don't have to progress past MSU and several directionals to get to ours.
Hokespeech Generator. A guy named MeanJoe07 has apparently found something on the internet where you input the text of Brady's press conferences, add a few nouns (like balsamic vinegar) and a name (like Rhonda Jones) and get back something that makes sense only to people used to digesting soylent blue. The diary is too weird to be of much interest, but the same guy has been responding to comments all over the site with his tool, with quite disconcerting results.
Etc. Basketball back wallpaper. Michigan is probably not going to a bowl game. Best and Worst. Inside the box score. Wolverines in the NFL, and NBA/NHL/etc., when are we getting the former quarterback who coaches an NFL team?
Best of the Board
PUT IT ON THE MAP
A startup that makes realtime maps for local festivals and such is letting us use their software to give the MGoCommunity a more functional method of sharing their spots with each other on gameday. Events around campus, best watering holes, open tailgates for MGoReaders, where the band warms up, etc. all go on the crowd-sourced map. If you want to organize a meet-n-greet or game-watching party in your town, go ahead and add it to the map (it'll be off camera for those in Evanston).
[Jump for some stuff I believed in as a kid]
On the nature of Hoke, life, the universe, and everything. Upcoming Christopher Nolan movie Interstellar went to great lengths to produce the above image, the best yet of what a black hole looks like based on the mathematics of relativity—not just the lensing of space behind it but the surprising twisting of the accretion disc around it due to the warping of space where it's formed.
What's spooky about it is the thing you're seeing isn't the thing that exists. What exists is a disc around a spinning supermass, like Saturn's rings. What you're seeing however is space itself getting so warped by that mass that you can see it in 4D, bending space like a piece of paper.
Best and Worst posted a trailer for Interstellar and raved about the "our place in the dirt" quote while neglecting to mention the one in there by Dylan Thomas:
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
This is how I want Michigan to finish the season: certain of its own mortality, fighting anyway. Last year's blowout to MSU was an apocalypse, but at that moment I was profoundly mad, not embarrassed. I was embarrassed when they went out flat and uncaring against Mississippi State in the Gator Bowl. Whenever I wonder if we were right to can Rodriguez when we did, I remember that act of cowardice. Whenever I wonder if we're being too hard on Brady, I think on how he gives up without looking like giving up. Bronx had a different explanation:
This might be semantics, but I don't think Hoke is a quitter. He's (sadly) calling the game the same way in the 1st quarter as he is in the 4th quarter. He's like the worst movie version of artificial intelligence.
So he's a robot who faces adversity by going back to his safe place, i.e. the way Lloyd Carr would coach a 1st quarter. I'm not buying it. I think he closes up shop when he thinks it's hopeless, and believes we're not smart enough to notice it.
Ron Utah nevertheless argues that at least that Brady is an essentially good man. I subscribe to the DFW method of rating people: their expectations of other people tend to be the greatest insight into how they themselves think. For example the dude on the board who thinks everything is about political warfare is just a really partisan dude. Brandon's emails were relevant not because they explain how he alienated fans—if he wrote 300 of these that's still a thousandth of the 300k waiting list his policies expunged. Rather they showed us how arrogant Brandon thinks his critics are, thus how truly arrogant Brandon is.
Hoke's goodness is best exemplified, perhaps, in his weaknesses as a coach. He doesn't ever seem prepared for enemies who want to gut him, because he doesn't have that killer instinct. Perhaps he doesn't push his players hard enough—maybe that comes from not expecting other coaches to be doing so. His players seem stunned when there's a cheap shot against them—we look at that like "where's your spirit?!"" but it could just be they're not the type of dudes who expect the other team is trying to scramble their brains.
It is a mistake to see the obvious flaws in Hoke and assume we would make better head coaches. It is not a mistake to see these flaws and assume more successful head coaches would make better head coaches. Perhaps it was our own naivety to think Michigan's particular advantages could compensate for the weakness of goodness.
This football program is as doomed as matter in an accretion disc. Some of the players in it won't be here (Peppers at least said he will be the last to leave), and there's no guarantee that the next step will take us to the dark core of the black hole or shooting out into space to form a new star. Michigan looks headed to 4-8 by Massey estimates, which LSA matrixcised.
This is mathematical reality. The above is how the universe is arranged. But what separates life from every other arrangement of matter is how we approach our doom. Life doesn't just ride the mathematics arc until it spirals into nothingness. Life rages.
It probably won't change anything, but the players on this doomed team plan to rage against that probability. It almost certainly won't change anything, but most fans have chosen to march back to the Big House, and the other home field in Evanston, and even down to the darkest place in the universe, and rage against the dying of the light.
If you'd like to do so and don't have tickets, head to this thread before 3pm today and tell us about the crazy thing you've done. I'm now up to 8 tickets to give away.
[Jump for metaphysical beings—ghouls, goblins, zombies, etc.]
The running game is going forward again; just another 490 miles to Berlin.
Not with you in charge, sir, no. So we continue to continue to pretend our problems will ever end. Alum96 showed that Power 5 coaches don't tend to last very long, and Yeoman wrote that just 3/43 guys who had a losing season in their first five at a school lost their job for it. The thing: it depends what your historic expectations are. A guy who did a research project on this stuff sent me his paper and is trying to get the data from his old school; we'll address this again.
Wish lists. Ron Utah and Eye of the Tiger both posted what they're looking for in coaching candidates. Both are pretty much in favor of guys who run modern offenses, which is everybody but Shaw at this point.
More candidates. Bud Foster and Georgia DC Jeremy Pruitt were Ron's latest profiles. I don't think either would come anyway. Foster at least has had commensurate offers for five years and never jumped on them.
A more interesting one: Padog got into Doc Holliday (of Marshall) in case a WVU guy wants another shot at mentioning Don Nehlan's Bo connection at his intro (and position himself as the Bo to Urban's Woody). This one's a bit of a reach; his head coaching experience is Marshall, which was 7-6 the year before he arrived and went 5-7, 7-6, 5-7, 10-4 since. He's currently 7-0 and hasn't scored less than 42 points in a game, but his most impressive victory in all of that time was last week at FIU. I plugged him into my matrix and came up with a 42: more attractive than Hoke but more of a gamble than Bo was.
Best of the Board
WE'RE STILL BETTER AT CLEVER
Brian covered the painting of the Diag's block 'M':
If you're wondering where was that one frat (Theta Xi) whose couch vigil usually prevents this sort of thing, they asked a university admin to go out Tuesday and were told to wait until Thursday. Please boo the next person you see on campus wearing a corduroy jacket (if it's not the admin it's probably a hipster who will appreciate the whimsy of your non-sequitur).
As to catching these slightly academically inferior criminals [a fake account representing] the UGLI apparently can identify the perpetrators in court:
We should've seen the vandalization of the Diag M coming. Last night some State students came in and asked our librarians how to spell 'MSU'
— Shapiro Undergrad (@UMichUGLI) October 22, 2014
Police are stationed outside all MSU bluebook exams, and questioning anyone who fails.
I've heard they got the rock too, which: whatevers. I painted the rock 8 or 10 times in college (the building behind it was my fraternity's historic building and our crests are still on the gates), and every time we went to do so, it was various stages of still wet from the last paint job; half the time it was painted over again before the weekend was out.
[Jump: the pink discussion]
SUCH a good movie. You chivalric fool; as if the way one fell down mattered. On Wednesday this week I had to put our family dog down—he was 14 and been slowing down since we lost my dad, and he had a stroke during the night, and it was sad but undeniably the best way and best time to go. Afterwards I was supposed to collect my daughter, get the roundtable posted, then get to the facility that's trying to get my Mom able to walk again within the impossibly small window her insurance company will pay for it. I didn't want to engage the sympathy choir, nor was I ready to go fixing things or move on. Instead I wandered into a breakfast place and ordered a coffee, and stared at texts of things people say when your heretofore ridiculously fortunate family is going through the mother of all mean regressions.
SUCH a good movie.
You chivalric fool; as if the way one fell down mattered. On Wednesday this week I had to put our family dog down—he was 14 and been slowing down since we lost my dad, and he had a stroke during the night, and it was sad but undeniably the best way and best time to go. Afterwards I was supposed to collect my daughter, get the roundtable posted, then get to the facility that's trying to get my Mom able to walk again within the impossibly small window her insurance company will pay for it. I didn't want to engage the sympathy choir, nor was I ready to go fixing things or move on. Instead I wandered into a breakfast place and ordered a coffee, and stared at texts of things people say when your heretofore ridiculously fortunate family is going through the mother of all mean regressions.
After a time I struck up a conversation with an older dude who from his Michigan hat I identified with the super Michigan-stickered car outside. He was, of course, a current player's dad, and other than his kid who's the best player in the entire world, he had a lot to say about the darkness hanging over this program that twinkling lights could only temporarily keep at bay.
He echoed a lot of what another player's brother said in a diary earlier in the week:
The program is in shambles. Bo is not coming back and it's time to move on. The cult like adherence to tradition and "this is Michigan" is the very reason we are plummeting towards rock bottom. We don't need another Bo or another Michigan Man, we need a competent, forward thinking administration who will take advantage of the massive institutional advantages Michigan provides.
The players are acknowledging reality while doing everything they can to make sure there's a team tomorrow. We got a glimpse of this from Gardner's aneurism of leadership
…and another from a letter to the players by their senior punter:
"Play for the guys in your class who you texted the day you committed, and live in the dorms with. Play for the elementary kids back home whom you've never even met, but know who you are and where you play. Play for your high school coaches, the guys you've met at combines, your family, your friends. Finally, play for yourself. Pride in yourself means that, win or lose, you worked and competed as hard as you possibly could until the schedule provided no more games to play."
When the fall is all that is, it matters.
[After the jump, I know. You know I know. I know you know I know. We know Henry knows, and Henry knows we know it. We're a knowledgeable family.]