a terrible blight on our fine country
i shouldn't get my hopes up but there they are
Jim Hackett talked to the Daily yesterday, and the words that he said were as encouraging as possible for a fan who likes his college football to be as distinct as possible from the pro experience:
The topic of conversation soon shifted to the student experience at Michigan Stadium and the tendency of many students to leave games well before they end. Hackett believes the issue will most easily be resolved by the improvement of the on-field product.
“I don’t want to sound sarcastic,” Hackett said. “What I don’t want is more entertainment that’s not football. I think that works in the pros, but we’re in college. I believe college shouldn’t be like the pros. It shouldn’t cost like the pros.”
Hackett specifically noted that he didn’t want the games to feel “corporate,” a complaint that was commonly voiced by Michigan fans during Brandon’s tenure.
I am still a little hesitant to open the ol' heart to the new AD because I remember the brief, stretchgate-inspired Brandon honeymoon that we all had a few years back… but I'm hopeful that Hackett takes the project of making Michigan Michigan seriously, and am more so every time he is quoted.
We're even seeing some specific steps discussed not only amongst the fanbase but with the guys in charge. After a student complained about the piped-in music, Hackett replied thusly:
Hackett asked the new coach what he thought of piped-in music during warmups. Harbaugh was firm in his answer.
“I don’t care. We don’t need it,” Harbaugh said.
Hackett agreed with Harbaugh, noting that in the past, the loud music has almost discouraged him from sitting through the team’s warmups when he has visited Michigan Stadium. As a result of the preferences of the coach, athletic director and many fans, the Athletic Department is in conversations with the band to have it play more during games.
I did not dream of a day when Michigan would look at the music during warmups as an issue to be addressed, let alone the actual in-game experience. I don't even mind the warmups music that much. I did treasure the quiet buzz of anticipation 45 minutes before the game, though, and if that comes back the stadium will be a step closer to what it used to be.
That thing it used to be was merely itself. The band, the lack of advertising, the silences in between the shouting. The natural up and down of a crowd was an important part of my formative experiences as a sports fan, and I still wince at the idea that doing something for the entertainment of the people in attendance actually, you know, entertains them. Too often piped-in music turns fan participation off instead of on. It's a convenient way to cover the fact that you have a lack of atmosphere. I prefer an athletic department that asks the hard questions about how to create one out of the materials they've been given. If MLS can do it—hell, if Detroit City can do it—there's no reason Michigan can't.
Here's hoping Hackett's the man to do it.
We talked about this some on WTKA today: it sounds like when the Adidas contract comes up in a year, Michigan is seriously considering a switch even if that move costs them some money.
“In my first months here, the question of which brand we wear is a big one,” Hackett said during the fireside chat. “We’ve organized — this is a secret — a project team to look at the question of, there’s really three players: Adidas, Under Armour and Nike.”
"Was" a secret if you're talking about it in a fireside chat with students. Adidas or UA will offer the most money; Nike offers the gear it seems like most of the athletes prefer… and it opens doors in recruiting, especially basketball. Like it or not, that is fact.
The mere fact that there's something other than a number in a spreadsheet being considered here is an excellent development. I don't understand people who care a ton about the style of an athletic clothing supplier, but there are evidently legions of them.
Personally, I would prefer Under Armour, which tends to create (or maintain) signature looks for the schools they have. Adidas and Nike both love to suit people up in things that say "this team is part of Adidas or Nike"; UA is better about working for the team, the team, the team.
Okay yes Maryland's flag uniforms are kind of a disaster, but it's not like they've got anything iconic to hang their hat on. Meanwhile I love what they've done with Northwestern and they've left Auburn's classic look virtually untouched. But UA is a distant third when it comes to recognition and door-opening.
It's a tough decision.
Previously: Indiana Offense
the first one went well, at least
I don't think anybody would describe Iowa's offense as "explosive." They're 125th in the country (out of 128 teams) with just 19 plays from scrimmage that have gone for 20+ yards.
Four of those occurred against Indiana. Two went for 60+ yards; they've had one other such play all year. While the Hoosiers defense has taken a small step forward from 2013's pathetic group, it's just that: a small step. The Indiana defense remains the Indiana defense, and that provides quite a bit of hope for Saturday.
Personnel: The diagram [click to embiggen]:
Indiana brings back plenty of experience from last year's group; you can decide whether or not that's a good thing.
Base Set? 3-4, for the most part. This is how Indiana set up versus two receivers against the Hawkeyes, with a safety rolled up to the line:
And here they are against three wide:
They'll have "BANDIT" Nick Mangieri—essentially a DE—put his hand in the dirt on occasion; for the most part, though, they go with three down linemen and shade the strongside linebacker over the slot, keeping their base personnel on the field most of the time.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the breakdown.]
Previously: Podcast 6.0. The Story. Quarterback. Running back. Wide Receiver. Tight End And Friends. Offensive Line. Defensive End. Defensive Tackle. Linebacker. Cornerback. Safety. Special Teams. Five Questions and Five Answers, Offense.
1. CAN WE BE AGGRESSIVE MAN I JUST HAD EIGHT RED BULLS AND I'M FEELING RATHER AGGRESSIVE
I think so! I mean, if they're not radically changing their approach to defense they're doing the best job ever of faking it. They have been in the grill of receivers at the spring scrimmage, at both fall scrimmages, in the practices our insider got to check out, and at the coaching clinic. Either they've wasted a lot of time or the passivity we saw last year is out the window.
“We have a new scheme and a lot of in your face coverage … With this new style of play, let’s ball and see what we got. …
“Last year we were a little bit conservative," he said. "We have talent... let’s use it. You put your best against our best and let’s ride out -- lets go get it. That is the mindset that our coaches have instilled in us for this season. Our practices are more intense -- we go hard, we go faster, and our coaches are really pushing us more. It is not just for the starters but for the backups as well -- everyone is getting pushed and that is what we like about it."
This is not a situation where this is meaningless blather from a new defensive coordinator before he knows what he's got. Mattison knows his personnel and this is what he thinks they'll be best at. It's happening.
The upshot: a lot of man coverage, more man blitzes, many fewer cushions, and a lot of pressure both ways. This is in part a reaction to Michigan State's success with an aggressive, handsy secondary, and it will draw flags. Mattison:
We want to be so physical that it is going to happen… you’re going to get a penalty. That’s going to happen. As I mentioned, I think Coach Nussmeier… I think they might have thrown the ball 200 and some snaps this spring. We have officials every practice. I think in the spring we had a total of 20 interference penalties. …
An official calls (interference how many times?) Is he is going to call seven, eight, or nine times? It never happens. We would never let you do that. So why not be aggressive? The only reason you wouldn’t is if you’re worried about well, the coach may get mad at me if I get a penalty. You’re not going to be disappointed with the young man unless he did a stupid thing when he didn’t need to do it.
Michigan took some silly ones in both the spring and fall scrimmages, something that has been expressly tolerated so far. When the live bullets start flying that may not be so easy to let fly—some of the flags were completely unnecessary.
So it will be a work in progress. It is still a terribly exciting idea. We're coming at you.
[After THE JUMP: is this it? Is this the leap?]
Also Previously: Podcast 5.0.
I had this thing I was always going to write about Denard, and I said I'd put it in Hail To The Victors, and Seth really, really wanted it because we really, really had to send everything to the printer, and I sat in front of my keyboard and could not do it. As you're about to find out this week, putting words into a computer is something I do quite frequently. My problem is usually keeping those words relatively concise. This time I sat there, and the thing I'd had in my head for years sat there too.
We stared at each other. Nobody moved.
This is a program that has been in flux for nearly a decade now. The first indication was Jim Herrmann's one-year experiment with the 3-4 in 2004. Like everything in the Late Herrmann period, it worked just enough to make you crazy when it didn't. A year later, Michigan was running a 4-3 again, had a 9-point lead against Ohio State with 7:49 on the clock, and blew it.
Herrmann was given the NFL position coach gold watch, and because any motion towards the future must be paired with an equal and opposite motion towards the past a year later Mike DeBord was re-installed as the offensive coordinator. He completely overhauled the offense, dumping pulling linemen for a zone-stretch running game. Two years later, Rodriguez came in, overhauling everything except David Molk. Three years later, Hoke came in, overhauling everything except David Molk.
All along, the panic grew. Michigan started casting about for anyone they thought could help, whether it was mentally unbalanced defensive linemen or guys with no offers who showed at camp or defensive backs who hadn't ever played a varsity game. Or Mike DeBord. The decisions being made became increasingly unmoored from reality in the late aughts. Something named Appalachian State beat Michigan. At some point Greg Robinson was hired.
Here is a Hieronymus Bosch painting, because nothing else can represent the thought process that ended with that decision.
Chaos descended on Michigan gradually, until a bird-man and spiky monkey and plague dude and bird-hippo-thing murdered it and its magnificent beard. You can assign the various actors their roles based on your preferences, except the plague guy has to be GERG.
This is still a team in flux. Rodriguez got axed just in time for Michigan to complete its transition to spread personnel, echoes of which are still on the team today: a right tackle who was high school hurdler, a #1 receiver standing 5'8", a quarterback who's probably going to jet for 60 yards at some point this year. There are two (two!) upperclass offensive linemen.
This will be the first time since 2003 that anyone at Michigan has entered his third year—let alone fourth—in the same defense, under the same coordinator. Even as the defense settles in, the offense prepares for a drastic change in its nature. The Hoke recruiting classes are just blooding themselves in the two deep; the disastrous 2010 recruiting class looms in holes across the roster.
But for the first time in a long, long time, you can see the trajectory. No one's clamoring for the defensive coordinator's head; no one's looming over the shoulder of the offensive coordinator, ready to pull the plug on anything that looks remotely dangerous. For the next half-dozen years, Michigan is going to be an aggressive 4-3 under defense paired with an offense of titanic humans who will make safeties choose between pounding on the ground and long-range aerial bombardment. The coaches will be the coaches with the exception of a position coach or two who will probably be replaced by a Michigan legend.
On fourth down, they're going.
Deadlines are deadlines, so I wrote the thing eventually. It wasn't what I wanted. It was supposed to have turrets and buttresses and run a 4.1 40. Instead it was… okay. It's not the worst thing I've written. None of that mattered. Time was up. It was done.
In the aftermath a peculiar feeling descended on me. If I spoke German, I would crush together several contradictory words into a multi-syllabic monstrosity that would not quite entirely fail to communicate it. It was over, and that was terrible. It was over, and that was necessary. I wanted to go back, and wanted to go forward.
The thing that was keeping Michigan between states of being had dreadlocks and could outrun a photon. Denard could not do the things Al Borges wanted him to do, and Al Borges could not figure out other things to ask. And yet there he was, so we kept banging that square peg against the round hole. To do otherwise was incomprehensible.
Regrets, I've got 'em. Everyone's got 'em. But there's no going back. Finally, it's in the past. Finally, everyone can focus their efforts on refining what is there instead of throwing it all away and starting over, and then throwing it away next year and starting over again.
This is Michigan, a guy said once. What does that mean? Now we find out.
User 'jonvalk's tribute to the seniors. Anime Novak needs moar blood. And blue hair. Gotta have blue hair.
First to anyone in Ann Arbor, I hope you're safe from the heavy stuff last night, when mother nature decided to go all Notre Dame on State Street while drafting Haylie Wagner to hail softballs upon ye. That thread also has a video of people watching a tornado from the disc golf course at Hudson Mills. I'm sure the bathroom's safe guys.
Of the century all time recently. The storm of the century is the worst segue ever into the last
week's two weeks' three weeks' (sorry: vacation) discussions of all-century things that took place in the last 30 years or so. The all-times are collected by 'justingoblue', who went around the internet to collect a comprehensive list of Michigan championships in all sports. Brian's query on an MGoBlog Hall of Fame led to a diary by 'Tom from AA' with year by year nominees. And 'saveferris' took us back to the year Ferris Bueller came out (1986) to relive the Super Bowl Shuffle, Never-Nervous Purvis, and one of Bo's best teams, featuring Harbaugh and Morris and Rivers and Elliot. I've got three Diarists of the Week(s) to give out, and one goes to saveferris to encourage him to keep doing these.
The basketballs. Hoops nerdery these days seems to revolve around two questions: can I write the definitive piece on Rasheed Wallace, and three-pointers. On the second we've got you covered by ehatch who absolutely drained a Diarist of the Week(s) by parsing through available data to find out if more than 20 treys starts to negatively affect your offensive efficiency. Conclusion:
So as we go into the post season:
- Cackle with knowing glee if Michigan is driving the basket
- Worry if we draw a zone team that forces us to shoot a lot of 3 pointers.
There was also a temporally useful rooting guide for selection sunday 'mistersuits' deserves some credit for. OHIO, or THE University of OHIO, or whatever you know the green one, was one of the cackle with glee draws.
All the recruits.
It is a period of in-state war.
Michigan staffers, striking from an arboreal
hidden base, have won their first victory against
the evil empire of Port-a-Cool defecators. During the
battle, Rebel spies managed to steal highly rated recruits
from the heart of the Empire with enough talent to destroy
the entire Big~Ten Conference.
Pursued by the Empire's sinister lackey, Darthtonio, King Hoke races home
aboard his starship (hey we have to spend the budget on something), custodian
of the stolen talent that can save the Wolverines and restore freedom to the galaxy…
Let's let 'maizedandconfused' tell you what happens next. I promise no gungans or Jake Lloyd.
Michigan has locked up what's already an end game Top 5 class (Ace's conf update) almost a year before NSD. I'm at a loss for appropriate metaphors and thus devolving into a puddle of ectoplasm that relates everything to Star Wars. This is eee-cause if you put the last year in recruiting against your expectations, the only thing comparable is Memorial Day Weekend of '77. At least there's 'turd ferguson' to provide composite rankings from the sites that have bothered to even rank guys this early.
At this rate we're going to have to put up the 2014 Offer Board pretty soo…what? 'Bluestreak' already did that.
The hockeys. There's four great articles, all by the last Diarist of the Week(s), CenterIce, most linked to and discussed already by Brian in his hockey columns or bumped by me. But here they are again in case you missed them.
: A look at the line combinations and whether they're working.
: A recap of each player's performance during the regular season.
: Notre Dame Picture Pages
: A preview of that game.
The LAX. Here's 'MaizeAndBlueWahoo' with Michigan Lacrosse at the half-way point of its inaugural varsity season. He has efficiency stats. Efficiency stats? Srsly? Siri: set reminder, watch a friggin' lacrosse game already.
Etc. At first 'BlueDragon' was like "tennis?" and then he was like "tennis!!!" If you can Google things, please help The Mathlete. We will all benefit. Blockhams can't tell the difference between Ohio and OHIO; Blockhams get romantic after B1G titles, Blockhams rock the RVB flow. Silly Blockhams.
Best of the Board
ALL THE BANNERS (ALL THE BANNERS!)
'Wolverine Devotee' is trying to redesign Crisler's banners to go with the new digs. I like the idea of offsetting Cazzie (the only retired number) and putting Sweet 16 and Elite 8 appearances on collective banners. These were emailed to Dave Brandon who promptly wrote back "NEEDS MOAR Ms!!!!"
WD also stumbled upon the '98 Big Ten championship banner that upperclassmen held over my head for matriculating after the year of money sport awesome. Since basketball was wiped from the books* the search is on for the best year ever. 'AC1997' is defining this as football/basketball, so I guess the standard is '88-'89: 9-2-1 with close shouldn't-a-been losses to #1 and #2, and won the Rose Bowl, plus the hoops NC.
YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG
The limits of my computer skills are I subscribe to the NewEgg newsletter and once installed Ubuntu: not high. But even I got this xkcd:
… so it's scaring the hell out of me that the people who are actually in charge of machines that everyone in the world wants to break into are all like "dude, Microsoft Security Essentials—it's free!" Fortunately for democracy the University of Michigan is here to hack through the hack software they put in e-voting machines. I'll let 'DubbaEwwTeeEff' take it from here:
The news articles at the time reported that they had hacked the system to play "The Victors" after a vote was cast - but that was only the first sign of infiltration. They also managed to add an "OWNED" picture to the logout page, discover the authentication codes for every DC voter, and modify every ballot to be write-ins for fictional computers and robots. (Bender beat Skynet for head of the school board.)
Several other schools were trying but were fended off by the Michigan students, proving once again that the best way to protect the sanctity of our republican system is to have Wolverines protecting the voting machines. I've been saying this a long time.
A BETTER SON OR DAUGHTER TO A BETTER SON OR DAUGHTER
Sometimes when you're on, you're copying When You're On:
PAIRWISE PAIRWISE PAIRWISE AHHAHAHAHAHAH
If you're obsessive over figuring out scenarios for College Hockey Plinko Tournament 2012, or you just get perverse joy from having Michigan come up a 1 seed all the time, USCHO has the pairwise predictor up. User 'goblue7612' puts up a worst case scenario and challenges you to see if you can knock us from the 1 seed. User 'turd ferguson' could drop us as low as 6th in a world where Miami beats Bowling Green in the CCHA championship Saturday. I'm planning on being at the Joe tomorrow night so please let's not (Michigan plays BG in the semifinal at 8:00 tonight).
STILL ADDICTED TO SOFTBALL LINES
Our ridiculous (read: awesome) pitchers are ridiculous (read: awesome):
I didn't update after the Oklahoma game last night but these stats are good through the 2-1 victory over Notre Dame in Game 1 of the Judi Garman Classic. (Update: they lost to Okla, but the stats are hardly different). They need the bats (including Wagner's) to give them some support. Next week the gals come home to start Big Ten play.
ETC. Check in with your football background on this thread by 'jasputan.' Sparty copped "Facepalm" guy with "Owmyoccipital" guy; he gets photoshopped. People with umich.edu accounts spent a night ignoring Reply-All email etiquette to pass around MGoMemes. Kids these days—I went to school before people respected the awesome power of reply-all. And we used PINE.
* In light of UNC and Ohio State recently joining the ranks of teams which O'Brien is helping me remember anew, it's as good a time as any to remark again that I hate this particular form of "punishment." I get that it's shaming for the ineligible player and the program but in essence it's a group of America's best academic institutions rewriting history.
New Weekly Feature: Your moment of zen:
right via Indy Star
In the last 24 hours the belief that Mitch McGary will end up at Michigan has spread from local guru Sam Webb to large hunks of the basketball recruiting world. McGary just announced he wouldn't be visiting Kentucky or anywhere else and plans to come to a decision in a month.
While his blog post on ESPN mentions a desire to run and (fairly) leaves Michigan out when discussing the teams that do run, that hasn't stopped the train of positive mojo Webb kicked off on a WTKA recruiting roundup a couple days ago. Dave Telep:
If I set the odds, I'd install Michigan as favorite w/McGary at this juncture. College recruiters concerned about UM the most.
Scout's Brian Snow:
Word on the street is that Michigan has emerged as a leader for 2012 big man Mitch McGary, who was supposed to make an official visit to Kentucky for Big Blue Madness. Scout.com national analyst Evan Daniels reported on Sunday night that he was hearing Michigan was a "major favorite." There is also some speculation now that McGary, a native of Indiana, won’t make any more visits.
The twitter feed of one Bacari Alexander:
Boy, I hope that's about recruiting and not baseball.