The place to be. Michigan, 1948.
"Michigan is the place to be" — Life magazine, 11/8/1948 pic.twitter.com/PD3OZXAWwI
— Alejandro Zúñiga (@ByAZuniga) September 27, 2016
ALSO THE PLACE TO BE:
We're having a pre-Wisconsin event with Marlin Jackson at 1300 South Main Street. Festivities start at ten; I'll be there by noon. Proceeds benefit Jackson's excellent Fight For Life charity; you can park in the shadow of the Big House and partake for $56 or walk on over; there's a suggested donation of ten bucks. We'll have a raffle, a Q&A session with Marlin, and food provided by Tailgater Concierge and drink from Wolverine Brewing. Come on by, support a great cause, and ask Ace about Harambe!
Clark: ACL, gone. Fears confirmed, but Harbaugh did tell the assembled media they'd try to get Clark a sixth year. I'm going to be real peeved if he doesn't get one given the Ed Davis precedent.
This is a damn strong anagram team. The Hoover Street Rag has run many Michigan names through internet anagram sites and come up with some doozies. Favorites:
WILTON SPEIGHT gives you WHITEST LOPING
MIKE McCRAY gets you MY, I CRACK EM
CHRIS WORMLEY gets you CHOWS MERRILY
BEN BREDESON gets you BONES BENDER
This should be a category in not very serious game previews.
What happened in that Wisconsin-MSU game. It was a slugfest with both offenses barely cresting 300 yards. Wisconsin got the blowout because Tyler O'Conner was intercepted three times, LJ Scott fumbled for a Wisconsin scoop and score, and MSU's punter dropped a snap. In the aftermath the SB Nation MSU blog appears to have quit en masse. Gotta toughen up there, Sparty.
PFF's take on Alex Hornibrook was surprisingly negative:
Quarterback: Alex Hornibrook 57.2
This was certainly not a game that required a vintage quarterback performance to come away with the win. All the Badgers really needed were a handful of third-down conversions and Hornibrook did just that. His fumble early in the game could have been a costlier mistake although the interception before the end of the half was more of a last-ditch effort than anything else.
I thought he looked good through the first quarter and a half. I haven't seen the rest of the game yet, so maybe he fell off.
On defense, the main takeaway was that Wisconsin's linebackers kick ass. Four of their top five grades were LBs and almost all of them cracked the 80 grade that appears to be the cutoff for a really good performance. Vince Biegel had ten(!) QB hurries.
On the MSU side of things, Tyler O'Connor was horrendous (52.3 grade) and their offense failed to have anyone crack 80—Brian Allen was the only guy even close. The OL allowed presser on O'Connor on more of half their snaps, largely on failed blitz pickups. (Why, hello Mr. Peppers.) The defense was about on par with expectations except that Darian Hicks was good. They've got a guy with a big blinking THROW AT ME sign, though:
If you’re looking to point the finger at anyone on the Spartans defense, it would be safety Demetrious Cox. He allowed 7-8 targets for 94 yards and a touchdown.
Can't say I'm surprised.
Michigan has a tough assignment on offense this week, but I'd expect they hold the Badger offense in check.
A spate of injuries. Bad week for season-enders in the league. Michigan has of course lost Clark. Several other important players also went down for extended periods of time:
- Janarion Grant, also known as "the Rutgers offense" is out for the year after injuring his ankle at the tail end of a 76-yard run. Rutgers also lost DE Quanzell Lambert.
- Iowa wide receiver Matt Vandeberg, who currently has more catches than the rest of Iowa's WRs combined, injured his foot and is out 'indefinitely.' Per Tom Kakert, it's a broken foot that will end his year.
- MSU linebacker Riley Bullough kept up the family tradition by missing a game for mysterious reasons against Wisconsin. Reports have it that he was injured in practice before Notre Dame and will return sometime this season. Fellow LB Jon Reschke did something to his left leg in a non-contact situation and is out for a "significant amount of time" with what MSU is describing as an ankle sprain despite it not looking at all like an ankle sprain. Ed Davis is still being held out, probably in hopes he can get a seventh year.
- Wisconsin kicker Rafael Gaglianone missed the MSU game with a back issue and may or may not be back this weekend. Paul Chryst has "no idea." Ditto OL Jon Dietzen. Gaglianone's replacement, Andrew Endicott, missed an extra point but hit a 41-yard field goal. Wisconsin played much of the MSU game as if they had little confidence in him.
— Terrance Donnels (@LSUFreek) September 27, 2016
Exit Les Miles. Over the past five or six years if Les Miles's name has come up on this blog it's because I'm attempting to convince people we really did not want him to be Michigan's head coach. That doesn't mean college football isn't poorer for his absence now that he's been fired. He was perfect at LSU, where he could cause the internet to devolve into a string of exclamation points without affecting my blood pressure. Keep that dour offense and the Mardi Gras surrounding it down in the Bayou. Miles was fun, and fun in a way that it seems like only college football can support.
I recommend three eulogies. Two are essays, one from Spencer Hall...
1. Les Miles was fired from his job as LSU football coach this weekend. Getting fired four games into a season would only seem premature if time ever mattered to Miles, but it rarely did. Miles ran out of time, added time to games, forced others to work against it, and sometimes just melted the clock completely.
A one-score LSU game in the last three minutes could accelerate from full-on torpor to electric insanity, mostly because of his belief that a football game can sometimes be a little longer than 60 minutes if he needed it to be. You called people, tweeted at them, and yelled in all-caps when LSU ran shit down to the wire.
Miles at the wheel meant you were guaranteed 58 minutes of reliable, red-meat, Big Ten football. It also meant you got two minutes of off-the-rails Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride banditry that LSU might or might not survive.
...and the other from Matt Hinton:
Say this much for Les Miles’ tenure at LSU: It died as it lived, amid a fit of last-second chaos and confusion that nearly defied description.
Honestly, can you imagine a sequence that better captures the essence of a coach or team than the final, frantic seconds of the Tigers’ 18-13 loss at Auburn? Miles has made a living for years out of pulling victory from the jaws of defeat (among other orifices) in precisely the sort of fraught situation his team faced on Saturday — on fourth-down conversions and do-or-die bombs, via fake field goals and trick plays in moments no one else would have dared, under circumstances so bizarre almost no one could remember having ever seen them before.
The third is LSUfreek's timeline at this very moment.
— Terrance Donnels (@LSUFreek) September 27, 2016
Someone please hit Mack Brown with a shovel and insert Miles into his place posthaste.
Never hire an NFL coordinator. In the aftermath of the Lexit, Bill Connelly strikes upon a theme in a spate of recently-fired coaches on the successful end of the spectrum: awful coordinator hires. The beginning of the end for Les was importing Cam Cameron. Cameron was actually a successful NFL coordinator...
In 10 seasons as an NFL coordinator, Cameron's offenses had only once finished in the bottom half of the league in offensive DVOA.
...but his college offenses were 1990s-vintage NFL ones and increasingly horrendous. Mark Richt got the axe much faster after importing Brian Schottenheimer, who wasn't only an NFL coach but an NFL nepotism special. Brian Kelly isn't out at Notre Dame but his seat his quite hot after hiring Brian Van Gorder in the aftermath of Bob Diaco's departure for UConn.
What's the theme here? Don't hire an NFL coach.
Rule 1: Don’t look for NFL experience.
Of the 40 coordinators with recent top-10 offenses, only nine had any experience at the NFL level. Only four of 40 had been in the pros for more than three years. Two of these four (Pep Hamilton, Mike Bloomgren) were hired by Stanford, so I guess the corollary should be: “Don’t worry about NFL experience ... unless you’re David Shaw.”
On the defensive side, the percentages are similar. Of the 34 coordinators with recent top-10 defenses, only eight had NFL experience, and only four had more than three years in the NFL: Vance Bedford (2014 Texas, six years), Dan Quinn (2012 Florida, 10 years), Todd Grantham (2011 Georgia, 11 years), and Clancy Pendergast (2013 USC, 15 years).
I'd like to point out that when Bedford and Quinn had their top ten defenses they were working under head coaches (Charlie Strong and Will Muschamp) who were massively successful college defensive coordinators. The list of longtime NFL coaches able to do anything in college is extremely thin.
This is why I was panicked during the defensive coordinator search when Rivals kept bringing up NFL names, and super enthusiastic when Harbaugh passed up that trap for Don Brown.
Speaking of Don Brown. How's that going again?
The Michigan offense has been good enough in the early going. The Wolverines are finishing drives and converting short-yardage opportunities, controlling the ball and the field position battle despite only decent efficiency.
But the defense has been the driving force. New coordinator Don Brown's unit ranks first in havoc rate and second in Def. S&P+, and Peppers has been the catalyst for such successful aggressiveness.
I give it a thumbs up.
The Hirsch. Dan Murphy on a prime Rinaldi target:
He was a Harvard graduate with a reputation around the office as someone who set the bar high and usually managed to clear it. He was two years into a promising career, surrounded by friends and as healthy as he had been in a long time. But Hirsch woke up restless that morning.
"So I went for a walk," he says, "and I realized that I needed something else going on in my life outside of work. Work was great, but I was lacking a major goal."
Ed-Ace: Recruitnik extraordinaire, regular podcast guest, and noted darts enthusiast Steve Lorenz of Wolverine247, aka The Artist Formerly Known As Aquaman, is back with his weekly recruiting mailbag. If you aren't subscribed to 247 and want to read more from Steve and the gang, they're running a buy one month, get two months free promotion.
Cranky Dave asks: Who do you think is the most important recruit for Michigan to get?
Somebody asked this in a previous mailbag and I had planned to answer it before—and the answer hasn't changed for me.
I've argued for a while that Bradenton (FL) IMG Academy Top100 center Cesar Ruiz was Michigan's most important recruit on their board not named Donovan Peoples-Jones. A lot of the importance regarding Michigan getting Peoples-Jones is the fact that he's one of the best prospects to come out of the state in a while. He's a huge, huge talent, but this staff has done an excellent job in identifying and recruiting strong talent at the wide receiver position so far.
With Ruiz, I've always believed it was a little bit different. There's a strong correlation between team success and strong play at the center position. Ruiz is the best center prospect in the class by far (in my opinion), and it's a position Michigan has had very high on their board for the entire cycle. He held his own against Rashan Gary when IMG Academy met Paramus Catholic in 2015, and he's another New Jersey prospect that linebackers coach Chris Partridge has known for a long time.
In short, the drop-off from Ruiz to whoever Michigan would recruit to play center is further than the drop-off they would have at wide receiver or some other positions if they missed on their top targets. Given it's a huge position of need, I think Ruiz is up top alongside Peoples-Jones.
[Hit THE JUMP for Steve on LSU post-Miles, managing a class with so many late decisions planned, and much more.]
This man's name is Vince Staples. The younglings on the staff inform me he is a rappist of some renown, and he digs Harbaugh, in NSFW style:
This will help his Q score, as one has. Vince Staples will get us in living rooms across the nation because he is going to fight Urban Meyer in an IKEA parking lot. As one does.
Rolovich is impressed. Hawaii's deadpan coach with some high praise:
"I would be much more afraid to play Michigan again than Florida, the '08 team," Rolovich said. The 2008 Florida team went on to win the national title behind one of the nation's best defenses. "The Gators were good. They won the national title, but there wasn't a weakness on the field (at Michigan). Their coaches deserve credit. Their players deserve credit. That's some big-time football right there."
He said this about a Michigan team that was without two potential first-round draft picks.
The Ringer is hitting its stride. See this excellent article from Katie Baker on the tao of Harbagh…
It’s easy to dismiss Harbaugh as a showman, and there’s no doubt he has a great sense of the impact some of his statements, tweets, or music videos will have. Still, a large part of how he comes across is simply who he is. Some of it is the Harbaugh lineage, though much of it is just him.
“I wouldn’t have wanted to be in that family,” laughed Michigan defensive line coach Greg Mattison, who in his career has now worked with Harbaughs Jack, John, Jim, and Jay. “When you go to play a pickup basketball game, I got a feeling you gotta be pretty physical.” Indeed, when Harbaugh first met his wife’s large family, he wound up complaining about her sister Amy’s officiating in a 3-on-3 basketball game.
But in contrast to the more reticent John, or the more affable Jack, or the more soft-spoken Jay (whose Twitter bio does include the words: “Relish a good nepotism tweet”; like father, like son), Jim Harbaugh can never just stay put. He points out that he’s the only member of his family taller than 6 feet and ascribes it to a childhood spent downing whole milk and praying for height. Sometimes, it’s overwhelming to think about what it must be like to live inside his brain.
…and the next section, which is our old friend Smart Football. It's not quite Grantland yet but it's not bad except for all the articles in which NFL coaches complain about spread offenses.
They always catch up. Fascinating article by Chris Brown on the decline and fall of Chip Kelly in Philadelphia, which wasn't just based on the imperious personnel decisions and general Jed Yorkery of his term there. Kelly went away from running quarterbacks because the NFL has a salary cap and very few plausible starters at that spot, and teams caught up to his tempo.
Then he started tipping all of his plays and acting like Brady Hoke afterward:
Philadelphia’s opponents seemed to know what was coming throughout 2015, even when he tried to mix in other plays. For example, as long as he’s been in the NFL, whenever Kelly’s opponents have geared up to stop his inside zone play, he has typically gone to his counterpunch, a sweep play in which the guard and center both pull to lead the way. But, tipped off by the alignment of the running back and the tight end, defenses were ready for that, too.
It’s one thing for a team to miss a block or for the play caller to guess wrong, but these are abysmal, totally hopeless plays rarely seen in the NFL. Yet Kelly repeatedly deflected criticism that his offense had become predictable by saying that the issue came down to only one thing: “We need to execute.”
If you stay static, the hyenas download you and take over. Michigan's offense has to move as much as anyone else's—one reason I think the fullback traps might go on vacation this season. They haven't shown anything new so far and won't this weekend. Starting with Colorado the wrinkles will start to work their way in.
Hopefully you run into Scarlett Johansson. Zack Shaw on Gardner and Gallon's Japanese adventure:
Wary of the likelihood tryouts and camp invites actually led to something, Gardner’s agent pitched a new idea to Gardner this spring: Go be a star … in Japan.
“He said he had an interesting idea after someone had given him a call about it,” Gardner said. “It was (pitched as) a chance to see a new place, get back on the field again for some time because I hadn’t played in a while.”
The next day, Gardner was on a flight to Japan. He signed with the Nojima Sagamihara Rise a couple weeks after that, and was asked if he knew of any American players that would also be interested. Though the X-league is competitive, players from the United States typically thrive against less-experienced competition, to the point in which the league put a cap on four Americans per team.
So Gardner had to pick his receiving target wisely, but it wasn’t a hard call to make.
Large profile of interest. We took their Kaiju, only fair we give back.
Wait, what? Apparently basketball coaches are bracing for a transfer free for all?
While the overwhelming belief of the college basketball coaching fraternity is that players being able to transfer without having to sit a year is imminent, NCAA chief legal officer Donald Remy told ESPN he isn't ready to go that far.
"I am confident we will be victorious in these cases," Remy told ESPN. "If they win, we wouldn't be able to have the rule anymore.'
I'm very much on the pay-these-men-their money side of things but that sucks. I'd like to draw a line somewhere more conservative than "anything at all that can be construed as a benefit for athletes is what we should do," and both transfer restrictions and the sit-out year are things that I think are reasonable. (To be precise: I don't think teams should be able to restrict players from teams not on their schedule the next year.)
We're already seeing a ton of guys bail on their mid-major teams to go play a year or two at bigger schools, and this would only accelerate that. A separate article by Jeff Goodman goes over the parlous state of incentives in college basketball:
Another mid-major head coach, who lost one of his best players to a BCS school this past offseason, told ESPN he would be "slowing down the graduating process" for his players in order to ensure that he doesn't lose another to the high-major ranks.
When asked to elaborate specifically on what "slowing down the graduating process" would entail, he said instead of enrolling a player into a pair of summer school classes in two sessions, they might not have that particular player take summer school at all -- or take just one class per session. Another prevailing thought is to put players in just the minimum 12 hours of classes each semester.
"What kid is going to argue and want to take more classes?" one mid-major coach said. "There aren't many."
That's bad for the sport since it paves an even easier path to the top for the top schools and reduces the number of upsets that make the NCAA tournament so fun:
A year ago, Cleveland State head coach Gary Waters could have trotted out a starting lineup that included Trey Lewis and Anton Grady. Instead, Lewis spent the season at Louisville. Grady took a grad transfer year at Wichita State and Waters went just 9-23 and will have some pressure on him this season instead of working on a contract extension. Both Lewis and Grady are playing professionally overseas this season.
There's a totally legit competitive balance argument here. And you can't even make that academic argument that is offered up by defenders of the grad transfer rule. Switching schools in the middle of a degree will make things tougher. (Unless you can't do algebra and transfer to MSU.)
If we could just admit that basketball players are majoring in basketball and that this is completely fine a lot of balderdash could be excised from these discussions. Basketball players transfer because of basketball. Therefore it is proper to consider the effects on basketball these transfer rules have.
Unintended consequences. NFL players and owners conspire against players yet to join the league by agreeing to a CBA that pays rookies vastly below market value for four or even five years. Artificially under-valued players thus pile up across the league, forcing veterans out. Coaches then bitch about how young everyone is. If only someone could have seen this coming.
Also in that article, it runs in the family. John Harbaugh might not be the craziest Harbaugh, but he's a Harbaugh:
On March 18, 23-year-old Ravens cornerback Tray Walker died from injuries suffered in a motorbike accident in Miami one day prior. Eight days later, at the funeral in a Baptist church in south Florida, Harbaugh approached the head of the NFL Players Association, DeMaurice Smith. “I said the rules have to be adjusted for first-, second-, third-year guys,” Harbaugh said, referring to rules that limit offseason contact between players and coaches. “The rules are built for guys who have families and need time off.”
Smith said the interaction was brief. “One, we were at a funeral,” he said.
Knives out for Les Miles. This Bleacher Report article features several former LSU players expressing their concern with the direction of the program in uncommonly blunt and clear terms:
"There were players running free, and it was from experienced players not adjusting to a blitz," said Hester. "It wasn't a situation where they were doing something tricky or mugging up in the A-gaps and bringing somebody from somewhere else. It was literally linebackers blitzing from depth when the ball was snapped. Those are things that you expect experienced guys to pick up.
Already in the meat of the season there's not a lot that LSU can do, and the bet here is that with Tom Herrmann out there, Miles won't survive any forthcoming misstep. One dollar says LSU gets blown out by Alabama and there's an interim the next day.
Etc.: Remy Hamilton, named after cognac. Identifying pass defenses is damn near impossible in many cases, contra a couple people who are absolutely certain about things they shouldn't be certain about in UFR comments. A highly timely Hawaii recap. Also another one from Holdin' the Rope. Phelps's son will go to Michigan. Luck can read the standings.
As per usual the edition of UV right after preview week is a catchup one with some old stuff I wasn't able to get to for obvious reasons.
The very latest on injuries. Per UMBig11:
Already some good news this morning. Mone (crutches), initial return to the field was looking like week 6. That is moving up to week 5 and possibly sooner. Taco (no cast, no boot, no crutches), maybe sitting one week and at most two.
I got some conflicting information about Mone but I'm not sure what the latest is. Either way it sounds like he should be good to go for the home stretch. Everyone else except Noah Furbush has a short-term ding that is a week tops.
Also, Denard Robinson Cook dropped the spout of a French press full of tea on my now very blue toe. I am day to day.
Speight profiled. Dan Murphy talks to Wilton Speight's high school coach and somewhat infamous QB guru Steve Clarkson; Clarkson reveals that Speight was on the verge of exiting:
“There was a time when he was contemplating leaving,” Clarkson said. “He had a conversation with Coach Harbaugh and Coach just said, ‘Hell, why are you thinking of leaving? You didn’t even get a chance to compete all spring. That essentially gave him confidence that he just needed to show what he can do. Since that conversation Wilton has taken that to heart and he sort of ran with it.”
There was a period in there where I was expecting that news any moment; good for both him and Michigan that it never came.
Manuel gameday. Max Bultman follows Michigan's AD around on game day. With permission. Probably. Anyway:
Manuel is a large, swaggering man, and he’s very easy to recognize. Fans holler to Manuel and frequently ask for pictures. Usually, he hollers back, sometimes in kind, others with a “Go Blue!” He poses for a lot of photos.
At the intersection of Main and West Stadium, Manuel greets a police officer. He does this many times on game day, and it stands out. He even asks one about his wife and kids. Later, Manuel explains that he got to know the force through the late Vada Murray, a police officer and Manuel’s best friend. He doesn’t have much spare time today, but he still stops when he can, nearly always with a charismatic greeting.
That’s the nature of his Saturday: so little time, so many hands to shake and so many people to catch up with.
Manuel is described as a personable man.
Artfully phrased. PFF looks at "How Michigan State can reload its defense," which is in fact a sneaky way to deliver a pile of bad news. Topics:
- Malik McDowell is real good.
- None of the other five returning DL had a positive pass rush grade; Demetrius Cooper's Big Ten season consisted of just eight pressures.
- Linebackers Riley Bullough and Jon Reschke missed a ton of tackles, with Bullough –12.7 on the ground.
- The three starters back in the secondary, well: "In 2015, the above trio combined to give up eight touchdowns compared to 11 total passes defended, and each of the three gave up completion rates of at least 62 percent. To put this in perspective, the top player returning in the secondaries of Ohio State, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, Minnesota and Northwestern all defended at least seven passes on their own and gave up completion percentages of under 51 percent last year."
Jury's still out on improvements after MSU's struggle against a 4-7 FCS team, but improvements will have to be had if MSU's D is going to keep pace with recent performance.
Also in this department is an interesting if slightly overlong breakdown of Tyler O'Connor's performance in the MSU opener from an MSU fan:
A reader summarizes this guy's take if you don't have time to wade through that:
1) The first and biggest observation is that not once all game did O'Connor look to his 2nd read in the passing game. And I don't mean that he didn't throw to him. On literally every pass in the 2 videos (which I'm pretty sure was every throw O'Connor had), O'Connor did not turn his head away from his first target. …
2) This is probably a result of the first issue, but O'Connor held onto the ball way too long. I will say that I think the video creator was being a little too harsh on O'Connor at times, especially on some of the play action passes as it looked like O'Connor got the ball out as soon his feet were set.
First game jitters maybe, but that'll be something to look for against Notre Dame to see if there's improvement.
One-upping Brady Hoke. Never talk to me or my son again about how Les Miles would have been a good choice.
LSU had nine men on the field on a punt return vs. Wisconsin. This is the second time I’ve witnessed this phenomenon in the Les Miles era.
— Jeff Duncan (@JeffDuncan_) September 4, 2016
The Hat is very entertaining but his offense has always been a trundling wreck.
It's aggressive, but…. It's not this aggressive:
"I'd say, like, 90 percent," Stribling said.
Yes, he estimated that Michigan blitzed on 90 percent of its defensive play calls against the woebegone Rainbow Warriors.
But then Stribling kept thinking, and, man, maybe it was actually more than that.
"I don't think any play was not a blitz, besides a cover-2," he said. "And we blitzed out of that, too."
Michigan rushed four about half the time in the first half per my charting. There was some run blitzing, but it's not that maniacal. It's only fairly maniacal.
The freshman-only locker room is an odd Harbaugh thing. Another tweak like split squad practices:
Starting in camp, and lasting throughout the duration of the season, Harbaugh has his first-year players surround themselves with their peers. For a variety of reasons.
A year ago, it worked for both Newsome and Perry. In 2016, that number has taken a lift.
"It really allows you to bond as a class. You can really focus on getting better and improving your skills without having to worry about being in the older locker room and trying to compare yourself to those guys," Newsome, now a sophomore starter at left tackle, said Monday. "It really allows you to just focus on becoming a class."
There will never be tangible evidence this is good or bad. It is an interesting team morale thing.
Wisconsin has our attention. But the one downer from the weekend was an injury to starting LB Chris Orr that will knock him out for the year. That happened very early and didn't seem to have much negative impact on a very good LB corps:
Aside from a couple of miscues in which the defense allowed RB Leonard Fournette to break contain, the linebackers did a fine job of containing the Heisman candidate. OLB T.J. Watt led the way with a team-high five stops, but OLB Vince Biegel was right behind him with four. They held Fournette to only 2.7 yards after contact per rush, and that happened only three times all of last season.
I'm a little more skeptical about PFF's take on UW corner Derrick Tindal, who did indeed break up a number of (late, inaccurate) passes in the vicinity of Malachi Dupre. He looked overmatched and fortunate to me; we'll see if his performance carries over.
Etc.: How the world changed around Nebraska. Ed Davis still waiting. Phil Brabbs doing thangs. Tennessee blogs worry how much they should worry about Mike DeBord, and this was before the Appalachian State game. If you would like to know all that there is to know about Illinois football, Illini Board is the place. Xavier Simpson profiled.
Peppers Peppers Peppers Peppers. Nick Baumgardner about one of the pressing issues of The Game:
Paging Mr. Peppers
It's officially time to empty the tank. Michigan can't afford to save anyone's legs for a potential game next week, because, well, there may not be a game next week. And that means any type of Jabrill Peppers pitch count likely gets tossed out the window. Harbaugh dropped a little nugget in passing Monday about Peppers' ability as a running back, going so far to say he's going to have to think rather hard about how Michigan's multi-faceted athlete is best used on the roster. Maybe Harbaugh's actually talking about next season, or maybe he's planting another seed in Ohio State's head.
We had a caller on MGoRadio ask a similar question about Peppers's deployment. Neither Ace or I thought you could sacrifice him on defense in either the short or long term. In the short term, Michigan's about to face a team that has a heavy QB run game and will test the edge in various ways. In the long term, Peppers is going to figure out coverage and be an all-around terror.
But: I might be inclined to steal some snaps on D with Peppers out of the lineup if that meant he could get more action on offense. They've already offloaded kick returns to Jourdan Lewis with great success; I might be amenable to Peppers leaving on passing downs against OSU as Michigan plays Stribling/Clark/Lewis on the corner. Anything else and I think you have to have him in there.
HYPE VIDEO. This is A+ work here.
The Banner Incident. Can you imagine the reaction if this was to happen today?
It was on this day (November 24) in 1973 the Ohio State Buckeyes performed one of the most heinous acts in any rivalry, in any sport – they went after the sacred GO BLUE M CLUB SUPPORTS YOU banner.
If you aren’t aware of this, or have been living under a rock, I have created a YouTube Video that documents this act, one which legendary broadcaster Bob Ufer decried that the Buckeyes “will meet a dastardly fate here for that!”
The the Buckeyes returned in 1975 word was that Woody wanted to do it again, but this time the Michigan Students were ready. The Buckeyes decided that discretion was the better part of valor, so no dastardly shenanigans ensued.
Twitter would roll over and die. Apparently they tried it again in 1977! We do have some spicy rival business of recent vintage thanks to Marcus Hall, so there's that. I appreciate OSU's willingness to come out and be dastardly before or during a game. Really adds something to the proceedings, unlike MSU's current student-taunting tradition.
An oral history of The Guarantee. Featuring this much more effective way to ice the kicker:
Frantz: In my mind, if I make that field goal, I'm the governor of Ohio. That's how big it would have been. When I was teaching myself to kick in the backyard, my father would literally say, "This is to win the Michigan game." I had no doubt in my mind that I wanted a chance to make the field goal.
I trotted out on the field, set my tee on the ground and looked at my holder, Scott Powell. Then I heard the referee blow his whistle for a timeout. It was a TV timeout, which meant it was an extended timeout. I looked around and saw a hundred thousand people and realized they were focused on me.
Just before the timeout was over, I looked over and saw Bo Schembechler about three-quarters of the way out on the field. He was screaming, "Frantz, you little s---, you're going to miss this kick!" He was going nuts, and his coaches were trying to hold him back. People ask me all the time if icing the kicker works. I tell them, "Well, in my case it did." It was a perfect snap and a perfect hold, but I hooked it a couple of feet left. There's no explanation and no excuse.
This is why I want to fight anyone who brings up whether a coach is "classy" or not. Hypocrisy, malfeasance, punting in plus territory: I'm listening. Whether a guy drops too many f-bombs or, in Woody's case, is constantly plotting ways to assassinate someone does not register.
Never has a mascot fight video been more accurate. I like the hat, too.
A man who remembers his promises. Posted to reddit, Jim Harbaugh gets a letter from a Michigan fan, Harbaugh asks her to meet for the PSU game, and kapow:
It's not surprising, but it's a little surprising even so.
Exit Les. Les Miles is about to be out of a job at LSU:
Les Miles' tenure at LSU may be coming to an end, according to a highly ranked source involved with the decision-making process.
A decision on his future is likely to come in the very near future, with many Tiger Athletic Foundation (TAF) members ready to move on and start a new era in Baton Rouge. The $15 million-dollar buyout clause that is in Les Miles' contract is what many perceive as one of the bigger hang-ups in making a move.
However, TAF, the athletic program's booster club that funds a lot of the athletic programs for LSU, will not allow the buyout issue to thwart its plans, according to a high-ranking source.
Even before LSU's dispiriting loss to Ole Miss, their equivalent of a regent actually said to an actual newspaper actually on the record that if Miles won out "that complicates it." Now that he's lost one of them he's a dead man walking. At this point there are multiple independently-sourced reports from just about everyone that covers LSU; despite a 15 million dollar buyout Les's demise is imminent.
On the one hand, that's a quick trigger finger. Miles is just one year removed from a string of 10-win seasons. On the other, he went 8-5 last year and is currently 4-3 in the SEC. He is a CEO head coach who lost John Chavis. He's never hired an OC who has done much other than run a basic set of plays and waste prodigious WR talent. He's a Cooper-esque 2-7 against Saban. LSU fans assume they'll just sweep up most of the massive talent base LSU sits on no matter who the coach is. Miles is 62; things probably don't get better from here.
I'd can him if I was magically placed in charge of LSU, but I'd can just about anybody short of Harbaugh if I thought I could get Tom Herman.
None of this really impacts Michigan—I don't think M was even peripherally involved with anyone LSU is recruiting this year—but Miles will be an interesting name for a lot of mid-level schools. He'll be cheap for the same reason Jedd Fisch is cheap for Michigan this year (a big buyout), and he's got a long and mostly successful track record. While I think hiring him would be a bad idea, a lot of bad ideas are brought to life. Could he end up at, say, Illinois?
On the other hand, if LSU is actually targeting these guys… Names for the LSU job include the Usual Suspect and lolwut:
"Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher is the main target for many foundation members; with names like Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney, TCU head coach Gary Patterson and even former NFL coach Jon Gruden being tossed around as well."
"Jimbo, Dabo: you have both proven that the winner of the FSU-Clemson game will easily be a playoff entrant should the rest of the season break correctly. You are paid exorbitantly well. But forget all that and play Alabama every year just to get out of your division. Sound good?
"Jimbo Fisher to LSU" is going to be this year's "Saban to Texas," a coaching rumor that will never do anything except line Jimmy Sexton's pockets.
Taco Charlton self-portrait. Via the Players' Tribune:
I don't have anything clever to say. I just wanted you to see it.
This isn't a great way to do it. The Big Ten wants to reduce the age at which you can start college hockey without burning years of eligibility from 21 to 20, and they've taken the matter direct to the NCAA without even stopping by college hockey to check. The obvious reason why:
In a memo obtained by College Hockey News, college hockey coaches voted 49-11 in a straw poll against the legislation. That poll has no bearing on the NCAA vote, but it demonstrates the mindset of the college hockey community as a whole. The specific 11 to vote for it is unclear, though six are presumed to be the Big Ten coaches.
Everybody except the Big Ten and a smattering of bluebloods (dollars to donuts "yes" voters outside the Big Ten include North Dakota, BC, Notre Dame, and BU) hates the idea. The rest of that article is everyone arguing self-interested positions that are obvious.
The Big Ten's hope is that by taking it direct to the NCAA the larger body will look at an outlying sport and try to bring it closer to the line all other sports take. With the league looking like hot butt—just one program, Michigan, is even on the NCAA bubble a third of the way through the season—this looks like an attempt to not be hot butt that doesn't involve firing the various terrible coaches in the league.
Special demerit to NMU head coach Walt Kyle for this take:
"A lot of these schools right now, and I'm not naming names, are doing everything in their power to push the scales in their favor," Northern Michigan coach Walt Kyle said. "A lot of these guys should be embarrassed. They want NCAA (tournament) games on home campus sites. Why is that?"
Because neutral sites have been a financial and public relations disaster that holds back all of college hockey. Because single-elimination playoff hockey is inherently ridiculous and even more so when it's been played in an empty AHL building. It's unclear why Kyle even cares about this at all since he's managed to acquire one tourney bid in the thirteen years he's been head coach.
This isn't a good look by the Big Ten but if Kyle's opinion is representative it's the main reason college hockey has the worst playoff in sports. In that case, all these guys can get bent.
Happily ever after. I think it all worked out for the best, really.
— Alex Cook (@_ac616) November 24, 2015
Everyone ended up where they should be.
Doubtful. MSU will try to get Ed Davis a sixth year, which will require some proof that Davis was legitimately injured as a freshman. Survey says not likely since he was the scout team player of the week twice:
2011 SEASON: Redshirted . . . named Scout Team Defensive Player of the Week vs. Minnesota . . . selected Scout Team Special Teams Player of the Week vs. Central Michigan.
Coaches try but the NCAA is usually pretty strict in these departments. Michigan is apparently going to try to get a redshirt for Mario Ojemudia, but I very much doubt that will come off either.
Etc.: Spencer on deceased rugby force of nature Jonah Lomu is worth your time. Not looking so hot at Penn State right now. Jake Rudock is Jarrod Wilson? Basketball will change its starting lineup, no doubt starting at the five. Charlie Strong is about two-thirds of the way down the RichRod road. Steve Everitt's bandana.
two point buckets are rare as unicorns these days [Bryan Fuller]
That was ugly. I don't have much to say about last night's demolition in Columbus. It's pretty much over as far as an NCAA bid is concerned—even 9-4 the rest of the way leaves Michigan with two horrendous, horrendous losses compared to the rest of the bubble and no real marquee wins.
I don't know what blew up. Obviously losing all three posts from last year is a big factor, as is the almost total lack of production from Kam Chatman (who is shooting an unbelievable 34%/25%). But there's something not right with the guys we thought were going to be the big guns. When your captains are saying you're in "coast mode" after a game that's nasty.
Walton's obvious: he's got turf toe. Irvin and LeVert are both doing okay; neither has become anything approximating a go-to guy. Both are shooting 44% from two with little in the way of free throws; Walton's even worse at 36%. With no one who can create two point shots consistently they've lost the crazy offensive efficiency of the last two years, and the defense hasn't improved nearly enough to keep their heads above water.
The only remaining hopes for the season is that they start getting better, make the NIT, and have a run in there that gives you some confidence.
Mattison back, officially. The latest in a long line of re-re-confirmations:
"Jack Harbaugh will always be one of the most influential coaches I've ever been with," he said. "I had the opportunity to coach with him for five years, just a tremendous football coach who taught me a lot about coaching.
"And I really respect (John Harbaugh), you always knew he'd be successful. ... And there's another Harbaugh (I'm close with), when we had our first child, Lisa, the only person she'd ever let babysit for her was Joanie (Jim's sister). That Harbaugh family, we've known for a long, long time."
Having Mattison around is going to be excellent for recruiting and continuity, and should allow Durkin to gradually adjust to being the man on that side of the ball after coaching under Will Muschamp at Florida.
Early signing may be happening. The Conference Commissioners Association was tasked with looking into an early signing date for football, and the proposal now has a shape:
On Tuesday at the American Football Coaches Association convention in Louisville, Susan Peal, NCAA associate director of operations who serves as a liaison between the collegiate governing body and the commissioners, revealed that the committee is leaning toward recommending a mid-December signing period. Peal said that window would likely coincide with the midyear junior college transfer signing date that occurs in the third week of December.
"Based on all of the feedback -- and there are all kinds of dates out there of what people want -- the most favorable option the committee has seen seems to be for an early signing day in December, something that's in line with the midyear junior college transfer signing date," Peal said.
I'm not a fan of early signing because it does nothing for the players, who get locked in earlier than they do now in exchange for bupkis. But at least that date is much better than the ridiculous August 1st date supported by the ACC, which the Big Ten somehow supported. Signing before official visits are even possible is some kind of dumb.
The darkest alternate timeline. Les Miles lost his excellent defensive coordinator to a conference rival and has now hired former Clemson DC Kevin Steele to replace him. The Kevin Steele whose last act as a DC was this, as Get The Picture points out:
Miles is also supposedly bringing in Ed Orgeron, a move that bodes well for local press conferences, Louisiana-set buddy cop movies, and recruiting but maybe not so much organization and the like. If Les farts around again next year I wouldn't be surprised to see him get the boot, because LSU fans have always been way more discontent than you'd think.
The competition to best describe Harbaugh is over. Former Stanford tackle Ben Muth:
"When I first met him, I honestly thought a lot of it was an act, it was like a robot who was programmed as a football coach," says Ben Muth, who played offensive tackle for Harbaugh at Stanford. "It's absurd stuff, but he believes it all. And after a while, so do you. Just the way he talks, his cadence and his deliverance. He talks like a normal football coach, but kicked up 50 percent and he's always on."
Also: hooray spring game fun? As part of Harbaugh's insane competitiveness, he turned Stanford's spring game into a full on draft-win-die thing:
At Stanford, his spring games featured full-scale drafts. The coaching staff was split down the middle into two groups, and inside the team meeting room, every player was drafted to a side for the game.
They weren't just glorified practices, they were full-scale competitions. Nothing was wasted or viewed as insignificant.
If that format's announced and Michigan pushes it back to best roll the dice on the weather that would be guaranteed to be Michigan's best-attended spring game ever.
Why do you hate turkey? I get most of what Oregon's trying to say here.
I'm down with most of it, as well (though tradition generally wears two colors unless you want to count white). But what's with the shot at turkey on Thanksgiving? Surely you would prefer us to eat that instead of duck, right?
Whiskey the dog. In case you were like "WTF" when Brandon brought up Whiskey during his My Personality Is To The Best Of My Ability tour:
Sap and MVictors have more details over there.
Whatever this is. OSU and Michigan are listed 1-2 in "intrinsic value" thanks to improved cash flows:
Note that OSU is bringing in 20 million less than Michigan this year, and Michigan is above everyone except Alabama and Texas in revenue. Oregon's 18th. Brandon's relentless focus on dollars above everything else was unnecessary.
Etc.: Michigan is getting a visit from 2015 megaprospect Jaylen Brown.