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.]
From left #3, #24, #23. [Fuller]
Come tailgate, support kids. A reminder that you can join us and former players tomorrow at the Go Blue Bowl Tailgate organized by Marlin Jackson's organization (specifically through the efforts of an extraordinary lady named Kat Mills). This is for charity so suggested minimum donation of $5 if you're just coming for the Q&A and more if you plan to drink beer and hang for awhile.
A couple of Marlin's high donors deserve recognition: Huron Valley Financial, the Bank of Ann Arbor, and MDen. Christians Catering is bringing food, and the Beer Grotto in Dexter is providing the beer. Full details at the link.
If you ask me, it's better to go. Everyone wants to do something to demonstrate that Michigan fans are fed up with a director who treats this program like his personal play toy, and that the public who do own this public institution are sick of it being hoarded, and its name besmirched by dishonesty and obfuscation (Best & Worst).
But for the record, I'm not in favor of boycotts, walkouts, late arrivals, or any other form of protest in which the protestors miss a snap, because I think it misses the target while undermining the one thing we all care about the most.
I know after the Minnesota game that Brian called for a boycott of Maryland if Brandon and Hoke were still here, and I know what name's on my paychecks. I know the players aren't made of glass, and that they're well aware that the vitriol toward the people in charge is not directed at them, although they generally take attacks on their coaches personally (they chose them after all).
But I didn't know until fairly recently why it's so important to them that fans show up: To a player, fans equal energy. Human brains are not wired to grant conscious access to the body's full capacity. Put a hungry lion behind the 20th fastest man on the planet and Usain Bolt will be left in his dust. Whatever our expectations for athletes we paid massive sums to see, they cannot escape their own psychology.
CSG president Bobby Dishell's heart is in the right place, but he's wrong: you're not hurting the players; you're hurting their performance.
Athletes draw motivation from the crowd. Michigan Stadium's size is a huge recruiting tool because an athlete brain understands intuitively that 109,000 shouting faces will get more out of him than 84,000. The number gets in their heads, but empty seats do as well. Go watch September baseball at a bad team's venue long after they've been eliminated: it's crap. Every play that your seat is empty contributes a tiny bit to Michigan (and, coincidentally, their opponent) playing a bit worse.
Weigh that against the maximum that you will realistically move the decision of Mark Schlissel. Your empty seat speaks, but you can also be in that seat screaming "Go!" at Blue to the furthest extent of your vocal capacity whenever they take the field or need a boost, and screaming "Fire Brandon!" whenever he starts trying to blast you. I think we can get that message across while taking a cue from old blue, and using this weekend to show the players we haven't checked out on them. You can make a statement with where you choose to put your ass, but that's hardly the most effective communicative tool in your anatomical package.
Here's what I suggest we do tomorrow: From the moment the band finishes marching off until kickoff chant "Let's Go Blue!" as loud as you fucking can. At the end of the the game, win or lose, stand in your seat and chant "Let's Go Blue!" AS LOUD. AS. YOU. FUCKING. CAN. In between, scream your head off on Penn State 3rd downs, boo the attendance lie, and sprinkle in "Fire Brandon!" as necessary.
Let's leave Hoke alone, since it does us no good if he loses the team now, and his fate is sealed to his record (Ron Utah with some candidate grades) so any more dogging from us is superfluous. ST3 made the case that the coaching staff has cost Michigan perhaps three wins with strategic errors: dumb-punting vs. Utah, starting Shane, and giving Rutgers that end-of-1st-half drive. I think it's more accurate to say that these coaching errors put Michigan at a small strategic disadvantage, and that the team is not so good that it can win without every scrap of advantage it can get.
Yes, showing up and laying off the coach is what Dave Brandon wants you to do. Fuck him; we come to root for Michigan.
[Jump: clans, coaches, etc.]
I'm taking down the office now. [Fuller]
Open letters to people who don't read them isn't exactly productive, but it's useful in a snowflakey kind of way. The MGoPostal service delivered a few of note: JeepinBen gives the next coach the correct answers to the Michigan questions. A guy emailed Schlissel our complaint list about Dave Brandon. A wealthy alum says to Schlissel or whoever that hubris is the problem.
You can read a form reply from the president's office here.
Brandon at least had the courtesy to provide a personal response to a lady canceling her long-held season tickets [UPDATED: this was apparently sent last December].
How to have a happy life. A few diarists looked a the qualities that seem to lead to success in a head coaching change. That first is a look at the coaching histories of Michigan, OSU, Bama, ND and USC with particular attention paid to whether guys with connections to the university had more success (they didn't).
The second starts by making a comparison of Bo to Stoops and goes on to sort out some common threads in other coaching changes. He came upon the same thing I did when trying to identify common threads in successful transitions: whatever side of the ball you don't know, just keep the coordinator from the old regime.
I would have been dead set against it at the time but in retrospect RR perhaps could have saved himself a lot of problems with the old guard by retaining Ron English. Or that could have led to an even bigger explosion when he fired English instead of Shafer for not running a 3-3-5 or getting along with Gibson. But imagine Michigan right now if Hoke had retained Calvin Magee, which we were VERY MUCH hoping for.
[After the jump, profiles of guys for Hoke's job; why head trauma is a thing and wasn't before]
Devin, I'm sorry about Funchess. Everybody liked him. I'm sorry.
Red or Blue. A week after a program-shattering loss turns fandom into an election year, with wins taking the place of electoral votes. This year's ballot has close races in quarterback, head coach, and AD, as well as referendums on blocking style, tempo, and punt formations.
On Saturday night those races appeared decided when everybody departed with eight minutes left of a two-score game against an opponent Michigan was outgaining. They'd seen the jewel of Rich Rodriguez's recruiting wasting an NCAA gift of a senior year in a new offense that still treated him like Tom Brady, so shell-shocked by years of abuse that any peripheral motion triggered desperation.
Then Shane, and the interception came, followed by the rain, and you could count the Hoke supporters by picking out the few hundred dots of blue or yellow between the blob of red. Everybody else looked at the scoreboard, looked at the radar, and recalled Michigan huddling—huddling!!!!—and calculated the obvious move. The 98,000 empty seats were a consensus: Hoke probably has to go, and Dave Brandon absolutely has to go first. The moment was stark, but it couldn't last, because stupid hope and the will to support your team is stronger than your brain's ability to store information it doesn't want.
The fanbase needs to have this conversation, and the diaries did just that. ST3 posted a curtailed Inside the Boxscore wherein his kid's quotes provided the subheads:
"Another huddle? Really?"
* Seriously, my son actually said that. I don't think he reads MGoBlog, and I hadn't said anything about tempo or huddling. So if a 9-year old can watch Utah succeeding with pace, watch Michigan plodding along, and gets exasperated at the huddling, why can't Brady figure this out?
Jhackney got home and thought about spiritual cleansings and what kind of coach doesn't wear a headset:
Dave Brandon is a whiz at marketing and salesmanship and Hoke is a whiz at clapping his hands while keeping his ears the same color tan of his face and running a clean program. There needs to be a coach that is involved in at least one side of the ball. Saban would mutilate your skull with his championship rings if you tried taking his head set away.
Every coach has inherent flaws—Nick Saban is an offensive dinosaur and doesn't care about his players beyond what they can do for him. It's whether the good things overcome those flaws. Hoke makes his program worse by willfully ignoring fundamental developments like the spread offense, tempo, the shield punt, and game theory. He and Mattison make it better by running it clean, recruiting excellent players and people, and building a strong defense. Like with political candidates, everybody's flawed; it's whether their angels or demons will come out ahead.
Best and Worst saw the fruit of Hoke's demonic seeds:
No, what killed my optimism about this team and this staff, about this program as it is currently stumbling through another shitty year, is how absolutely true-to-form it is to the dreams of the men in charge.
[…lights out on the Titanic.gif]
Ron Utah made the obvious comparison: we are experiencing a reverse Rich Rod. I'll add Bill Martin reversed to Dave Brandon and liken it to the classic two-party problem. Martin and Rodriguez alienated the crucial top of the fan pyramid with their Whiggish football ways, an inability to commit to a defensive faith resulting in total bedlam. Brandon went the other way; his Tory pandering alienated the students (SaddestTailgateEver on another little hoarded thing) and entitled alumni (dnak438 on his noodle exchange with Brandon) while Hoke's offense and special teams have repeatedly been derailed by dogma trumping sense.
Given most of the week to calm down, jmdblue wrote that he'd rather give Brady one more term to work things out while the upstarts drown themselves in their own corruptions. Unless someone can convince Colin Powell to run.
Etc. Alum96 reviewed the 2012 recruiting class to see if there was a development issue. If you don't compare against other schools though it means nothing, since most recruits don't play to their star rankings. Average size of each B1G team's offensive line starters. GIF about punting. Regular stats make M look good (see: outgained ND and Utah).