in town for free camps
USE THE FORCE JIM. Daily article on Harbaugh's mentors with them all lined up…
…and the mind instantly puts them in this:
Sorry, Mr. Carr. Shouldn't have stood in the center.
MATTISON IS PRETTY MUCH IN. Man is still recruiting:
Isaac Nauta (@inauta24) said he talked to Greg Mattison: “He said I know you’re committed, but we’re going to recruit you until you sign.”
— Jeremy Crabtree (@jeremycrabtree) January 1, 2015
GET THIS MAN A TATTOO. Mark the Nomad has got to get some ink:
He's looking for the internet to fund it, in order to slightly reduce the chance this results in a divorce.
FIFTH YEAR OPTIONS. A quick glance at the roster will tell you that Michigan should be in the market for a graduate transfer QB. Their current options are either freshmen, Russell Bellomy, or Shane Morris. The former two have never played in college; the latter two have struggled immensely when they've gotten in the game. So this bit of news is intriguing:
A redshirt junior on track to graduate in June, [the Chicken Bowl] was probably [Kevin] Hogan’s last shot in a Stanford uniform. He hasn't addressed whether he'll return for his final year of eligibility, and head coach David Shaw intimated that Hogan didn't want to discuss it before the end of the season.
Harbaugh recruited Hogan, and he's obviously got he academic chops to make a smooth transition.
Hogan wasn't a world-beater this year (or he wouldn't be transferring) but he did finish with a 66% completion rating, 7.9 YPA, and a 19-8 TD-INT ratio. He's also a decent runner. He would almost certainly be an upgrade on Michigan's current options, and he knows the offense.
Another option: Everett Golson. Golson dropped off a cliff at the end of this year, as he turned into a turnover machine and split time with Malik Zaire in the bowl game. ND insiders and message boards are rumbling about a potential departure. If I had to bet I'd say he returns to ND, but keep an eye out if he doesn't.
DISCOUNT STILL IN EFFECT. Moe's is taking advantage of an opportunity with an enthusiasm unknown to retail-activation-kind.
AND SUDDENLY YOU'RE A FREE AGENT. Bills coach Doug Marrone has a bizarre window built into his contract that allows him to opt out at no cost… one he's just exercised. This puts his assistants in serious limbo, one of whom is Tyrone Wheatley. Even before this happened a lot of Michigan folk suspected that Wheatley would end up in Ann Arbor; now it seems highly, highly probable.
ALL THIS COULD HAVE BEEN OURS. LSU fans have always been turning on Les Miles, but now the knives are well and truly out. Miles is losing DC John Chavis to a megaoffer from A&M, leaving LSU scrambling to keep their defense as good as it needs to be to keep the wonky Tiger offense from submarining seasons.
ADDING TO MOUNT NFLWRONG. He hates recruiting!
Every old coach/staffer/whatever I've ever talked to who knows Harbaugh has ranted about how much he actually enjoys recruiting.
— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) December 31, 2014
His wife didn't want to come!
Was just talking to @IronsJarrett when Harbaugh's wife stopped to chat...she mentioned her shock re: rumors she wouldn't leave the Bay Area.
— angelique (@chengelis) December 30, 2014
His heart is in the NFL!
York, though, would not shed any light on what was said in those discussions, saying they were "private" in nature, though he did acknowledge that teams had inquired about trading for Harbaugh, and Harbaugh was not interested.
It was all about the money!
Jim Harbaugh told Hackett he did NOT want to be the highest paid coach in CFB, or even the Big Ten. More concerned with pay for assistants.
— John U. Bacon (@Johnubacon) December 30, 2014
NOPE. If you were wondering if Devin Funchess would return to the team because Harbaugh, your answer is no:
Just met coach harbaugh...Wish him the best with Team 136! Great guy glad he got the job #goblue
— Devin Funchess (@D_FUNCH) December 31, 2014
He'll be a first or second round pick in the draft even with the disappointing finish to his year.
WHAT ON EARTH. There is a woman named Ann Arbaugh who lives in Ann Arbor. And she's…
The Ohio State graduate said she hasn't abandoned her Buckeye roots, and that she's become an Ann Arborite but not quite a Wolverine-lover.
…an Ohio State graduate. Life is weird.
COLTS ON HARBAUGH. They didn't think he was a total weird megalomaniac:
"I've read about that side of him, but that's it," Ward says. "He was not thought of in that way (here), and it doesn't characterize Jim as we knew him. He was intensely competitive, absolutely, but he was a great team player and scrappy and always, always battling for the team."
Indianapolis fell in love with Harbaugh, in part because he was the anti-Jeff George, a superstar talent whose less-than-superstar results and aloof air – think Jay Cutler – rubbed people the wrong way. Jeff George was not what the city of Indianapolis craved in a leader. Jim Harbaugh was, and he gave this city what it loved.
There was the 1995 AFC championship game against the Steelers in Pittsburgh, when the Colts trailed 20-16 in the final minutes and Harbaugh was bleeding from a torn hand and still leading the team down the field before his final pass, a heave into the end zone, bounced away from Colts receiver Aaron Bailey.
"I remember blood dripping from his hand," Ward says, "and he singlehandedly pretty much drove the team within inches of winning that game."
Goodbye, oh ye of many numbers
Not a surprise, even with the late slide in production:
"I would like to thank my family, coaches and teammates for their support," Funchess said in a statement. "It's always been a dream of mine to play in the NFL, and I am prepared to take the next step in my journey."
Funchess has some mouths to feed and should get drafted high despite the indifferent performance this year. He has a size/speed combo reminiscent of Mike Evans and someone's going to take a shot at him in the late first round.
Which remarkably apropos moment to use here?
Should it be the innovative "running two-minute drill" that miraculously netted an end-of-half field goal?
How about when the Michigan Marching Band recreated the extinction of the dinosaurs at halftime?
Perhaps Dennis Norfleet's incredible punt return touchdown getting called back?
Could I see the argument for Mike Weber announcing his decommitment the precise moment Maryland's Wes Brown ran in the go-ahead score? Of course.
All of them, I guess.
As far as I know, Brady Hoke hasn't been informed he's fired, but he knows. We all do. With bowl eligibility on the line—unless you're holding out hope for a miracle in Columbus—Hoke's squad couldn't get out of its own way.
Even considering a few impressive Devin Gardner scrambles, including Michigan's lone touchdown of the game, the team's best offensive play came on a 52-yard fake punt run by fullback Joe Kerridge; Kerridge couldn't quite get to the goal line, and after Gardner's third-and-goal pass bounced off Freddy Canteen's chest, Matt Wile kicked a field goal.
The game played out in similarly bumbling fashion for most of the duration, with both teams seemingly unable to catch the football. Maryland had three drops in the first half; Gardner recorded a pick when a throw well behind Bo Dever bounced off his hands and into those of Maryland corner Will Likely.
The special teams were a mess. The flag on the punt return, however questionable, cost Michigan a touchdown. Jourdan Lewis roughed Maryland kicker Brad Craddock, leading on the very next play to a CJ Brown touchdown run; there's another four points. Matt Wile missed a 39-yard field goal that would've given M a 19-16 fourth-quarter lead.
It was a Brady Hoke loss, through and through.
It's sad, of course. Devin Gardner mustered 82 yards on the ground, scrambled for a vintage DG touchdown run (above), and put most of his passes on target, only to see several go right through the hands of his intended receivers. He went down fighting in his last home game, and it sucks to see his efforts go unrewarded. Same goes for all the other seniors out there.
For the sake of Michigan football, though, this may have been for the best. There's little, if any, doubt now that Hoke won't be retained, and a loss in The Game—meaning no bowl game—is all but guaranteed. Unless the athletic department royally screws up the coaching search, the next team will have more competence at the top, a better opportunity to succeed. The bowl practices will be missed, but expediting the much-needed rehauling of this program may make up for it—and then some, when recruiting is taken into account.
We'll see how it all unfolds. For now, though, this felt like an all-too-fitting finish for Brady Hoke; whether he's present on the sideline for Ohio State—which I expect he will be—is almost besides the point.
How does a healthier Devin [Gardner] expand the offense a little bit, and what does that give you?
"Obviously any time you have a healthy quarterback that's a good thing, and having the week off has allowed Devin to heal up a little bit and that's really good. Excited about- obviously when you have the type of guy Devin is with his ability to run the football it creates options for you."
Aside from his ability or inability against Northwestern to move and really create with his legs, what were the issues in having pretty good field position a lot of times but not being able to cash in?
"Yeah, disappointing. Had lots of opportunities there to score points. Didn't get it done. I think you look at a couple key statistics we talk about all the time: third downs we were 1-of-12. That's not good enough. A number of things. We turned the ball over three times. Had the two turnovers and then a turnover on downs. We put the ball on the ground one time [and] were able to recover it. Once again it goes back to consistency. Getting 11 guys doing the right thing on every play."
Drake Johnson gets a second chance [against Northwestern]. Saw him balancing carries with DeVeon. What would you like out of Drake and what are you looking to do with the two of them for Maryland and in the future?
"Well, obviously we've said all along we're going to play more than one back and the way the season's played out with Derrick's injury, and he continues to get more healthy as we go on here- you've got DeVeon. Drake's done a nice job. Justice Hayes has been banged up a little bit so that's limited him a little bit. Obviously we said we're going to play multiple backs and we kind of play the hot hand at the time and rotate them. Some of them are scripted by play because we feel some guys run different plays better than others. Others are by kind of possession and who has the hot hand, so to say."
[After THE JUMP: The kids are alright (according to Nuss)]
News bullets and other items:
Dennis Norfleet will play against Maryland
Derrick Green may or may not be back against Maryland. He, like Devin Gardner and Jake Butt, are getting healthier every day
President Schlissel called Hoke to apologize for his comments regarding academics and athletics. Hoke said that they recruit kids that fit the Michigan blueprint and that it’s not for everyone
Hoke said the Northwestern game was the offensive line’s best of the season
Nussmeier and Fred Jackson make the decision on which RB has the “hot hand,” and the decision can be made as early as the third series
“Thanks for coming out. Number one, yesterday we had a good chance with the players to look at the Northwestern film [and] make the corrections we need to make, but really emphasize the good things because really that's what you want to see are the good things. We've got to keep emphasizing those things. We practiced and it wasn't long but there was a lot of energy and a lot of good timing, and the one thing when you talk about bye weeks a little bit is the timing. You don't want to lose that part of it or if you need to get a little better you need to get a little better, especially in the pass game and all those things, so that was really productive.
“Start a little bit on Maryland today. I think the most exciting part of it is we are going to scrimmage some of the young guys against some who have played a little bit and those who haven't. We'll do about 30 minutes, probably 25 to 28 plays. When we do that we have to make sure it's going to help the team because those are your look teams going into the next week so I think it will be very good for us.
“Bye week again gives us a chance to rest some guys. I think getting Dennis [Norfleet]back will be very good for us. He'll be healthy. I think the health of Devin keeps – Gardner keeps improving and so in a lot of those guys there's a lot of guys who're just beat up a little bit. That's the way it is in football.
“The other thing is the president made some comments and I've talked to him. He called and apologized for his comments and I'm not going to speak for him. He put out whatever statements or interpretations that he needed to. We have always believed that this is truly an academic University. I was here for eight years before, as you all know, and I think the one thing you know being a former player and a coach is you only play so long and that's what this degree, a Michigan degree, is all about. And being the truly academic institution that it is, that degree will last forever so we take it very seriously. We try and recruit the best football players, the best student-athletes, and people that fit the blueprint here at Michigan. It's not for everybody because it is demanding and that's the way it should be.”
You kind of had the incident with Jake Butt. How much is he a work in progress on and off the field in terms of what he can be?
“I think Jake, he – from an athletic standpoint and all those things he continues to get healthier. He's one of those guys who another week, if we continue to do the right things with him… and the double edge sword is the timing of the routes and all that because you do want to rest guys so that they get a little healthier. I think he’s always developing and we are happy with his development.”
Have you seen the jerseys that his family where is when they come to games?
“I have not.”
Papa butt and headbutt and stuff like that. Have you seen him embrace that? He talks about getting teased about his last name.
“Yeah, he gets teased but… he gets teased.”
[After THE JUMP: We are grinders. It is stupid. Also some academic stuff.]
11/8/2014 – Michigan 10, Northwestern 9 – 5-5, 3-3 Big Ten
College football is for remembering. It stands alone in its brevity—even the NFL has you play your division-mates twice. Every year you play a team and then you have glory or death until next year. You can pick any game of remote interest and your friend will say "oh, THAT game" because it is also lodged in his brain.
This happens in other sports but as you add in more and more games, more and more of them are thrown down the memory hole. Hell, even last year's highly memorable basketball season has a number of events in it that I couldn't tell you anything about without looking it up. We beat Stanford? I guess we did.
In football the only things that disappear like that are the tomato can games. Others are notable only in the context of some guy's career. If I say "the Jerome Jackson game" you know it's that Iowa game Michigan won in overtime. "That one time Alain Kashama did something" was the Citrus Bowl win over Ron Zook's Florida. There are of course the titanic battles whose aftershocks rattle down the centuries, and depressing blowouts and fun blowouts and etc.
And then there's this game. This game will also rattle down the centuries, for… reasons. You will poke your buddy and say "hey man remember the M00N game," carefully enunciating the zeroes, and your buddy will either laugh or give you a sharp punch on the arm, depending on his mood.
Immortality comes in all kinds of ways.
FFFFFFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUU [Bryan Fuller]
Well, I'm in this to be entertained. And I cannot deny that Saturday was highly entertaining.
By the time the teams had exchanged boggling turnovers at the end of the first half I was giggling. The field goal block sent me into chuckles. The fumble of off Funchess's hip got me up to a guffaw, and when Northwestern followed a boggling Gardner interception by going backwards 30 yards and punting into the endzone I had to lie down and remember to breathe.
It was disappointing when M00N ceased being a potential final score, but at least it came on a terrible error—a muffed punt. Anything skillful breaking the deadlock would have been unjust. My wife was peeved, because she is not a True Fan™ and wanted to see a 0-0 regulation. I kind of did, too. Not every day you see something like that.
It is every day that Michigan finds itself in a football game hardly recognizable as sports. When you bring up the M00N game to your buddy you will probably be making a point about the descent into unwatchable dreck that was the last two years of the mercifully short Hoke era.
This is Hoke's version of RichRod's gloriously futile 67-65 win over Illinois. Both games were narrow, pyrrhic victories over bad opponents punctuated by two-point conversion stops. Both showed off the abilities of the team's good unit against an overmatched opponent and the total lack of ability of the team's miserable unit. And both were the same kind of delirious fun that sees you wake up naked in a haystack the next morning, with no idea where you are or even what month it is. Or where your hair is.
Nothing about that Illinois game changed Rodriguez's trajectory, and this won't move any needles either. Michigan's been plunged into a disaster of their own making and shows no signs of climbing out. That they've encountered a couple of teams even more BIG TEN(!) than themselves of late says more about the league than this outfit. It's no surprise that the other two teams Michigan's beaten in Big Ten play faced off in one of the ugliest games of the year immediately before M00N.
At least we've got a symbol now. Any time anyone wants to reference how far Michigan's come since they led the nation in TFLs allowed and somehow got worse the next year just needs two letters and a couple zeroes.
[After THE JUMP: but what if Hoke wins out?]