I'VE HAD JUST ABOUT ENOUGH OF YOU SONNY
See if you can spot Upchurch in his bucket hat | my phone
There’s a Kryk article in the 2011 HTTV about how Nebraska and Notre Dame spent much of the first bit of the 20th century beating down the doors to the Big then-Nine (actually nine). In the days when everyone had to travel by train, Lincoln was WEST man. As for Notre Dame, they were well within the conference footprint, but far outside the preppy conference’s idea of a fit. Said Kryk:
“[Expanding beyond nine members] wasn’t the biggest reason for keeping Notre Dame out. Academic snobbery was, followed closely by religious prejudice. The Big Nine was run by academic elitists, and they viewed the education provided by religious institutions of higher learning such as Notre Dame as purely second-rate.”
If you know your University of Michigan history, you’ll remember James Burill Angell’s biggest battles with regents and the rest of the brass were around his hiring Catholic faculty and saying nice things about papists. It’s a little snapshot of the prevailing prejudices of the day, and the genesis of the Notre Dame psyche.
You’ll also know that from these early days we too were arrogant enough to go it independent for a time. But while Michigan evolved toward benchmarks of greatness that involve our in-conference rivalries, Notre Dame’s established themselves as a fearless lone wolf. It’s why we balk when our chief rival is moved to another division, while they see nothing untoward about canceling the Michigan series to guarantee one West Coast game per year.
Fast forward a century with plenty of independent glory and this is what we hath wrought: a group of exceptionalists who are in many ways truly exceptional. Like how a mountain range of new or recently renovated megaliths spring out of an industrial Northern Indiana town. Like how in this craven era they can play on dirt and grass in an 80,000 seat bowl with no jumbotrons, no bad seats, and overlooked by a great big mural of religious figure who may be praying, may be calling touchdown, or may be exclaiming “Oy vey.” And yet they will also exclaim six times, with Michigan in attendance, that their fight song is the greatest. They will mike their band and have them drown out the visitors’ whenever our guys strike up. They’ll blare pump-up music deep into the opponent’s snap count on 3rd downs. And they’ll scoff at our 100-years-late invitation to finally sign on as half-members of the Virginia and Duke conference, keep the extra home game of this now odd-numbered series, and then tell Yost’s team to go screw.
Calling them arrogant when we’re the school that shows up to other stadiums with a trailer painted all over with the message “mine’s bigger” is pot-kettle-ish. They are the hot chick, and we can’t have them anymore. Cue the diaries of Notre longing. Start with conference realignment at the end game as oakapple, rehashes the four axioms that drive college football relationships. Then DanRareEgg reminisces over the latest series that spanned, with a few two-year hiatuses, from Dan Devine to Denard’s derps. Big Will the Gazelle thinks canning the Michigan rivalry to keep MSU and Purdue is a departure from the “We’ll play anybody, any time” ethos that built the ND brand. And if you’re really not ready to let go, here’s k.o.k.Law with a present tense poetic retelling of his ‘06 experience.
Let’s do THE JUMP here, and rejoin for the weeklies and the best of the board.
Caption this baby. Caption contests are sometimes compulsory. This is one of those times.
Have at it. Side note: could those two guys look more like Notre Dame graduates? I submit they could not.
Walking on? I had been under the assumption that Kelvin Grady was going to be on scholarship with the football team, but this AA News article suggests otherwise:
Grady met recently with Michigan football coach Rich Rodriguez and received permission to try and walk on with the Wolverines, a university spokesman said Wednesday.
So… Grady might not occupy a scholarship slot. This isn't relevant this year—when he's likely to pick a scholarship up anyway because of low numbers—but provides some additional flexibility in future years. I would assume if Grady becomes a contributor he'll get a scholarship.
How likely is that? Well, his high school coach thinks it's a possibility:
“He’s been training at a very high level in basketball,” Stuursma said. “He has the ability to catch a ball, and learning to run routes comes in a very short time. He is a student of the game and has a very high level of intelligence.” …
“Kelvin on the football field is one of those guys where you kind of hold your breath,” said Stuursma, who also watched Grady change games with explosive kick returns. “He has the opportunity to take it to the house at any time. He’s electrifying and can take over the game with one play, a natural ability you can’t coach.”
Michigan's offense is well suited for zippy small guys, and with Terrance Robinson having some issues catching the ball there's an opportunity for playing time there. His hands must be good, right? And when he fumbles kickoffs he'll be really good at fielding them on the bounce.
Wait… what? After a brief period of about three posts where Adam Rittenberg, ESPN's Big Ten quasi-blogger, linked out to non-mainstream content, he settled down into a familiar pattern: newspaper person links only to newspaper stuff. I don't really blame him, what with corporate monolith considerations and all that. That's just life. But why has he broken this policy to link to an inane list of the "most overrated coaches" at Heisman Pundit?
That content has literally zero value. It could have been farted out by a monkey. Sample insight on Tressel, citing his conservative offensive tendencies: "It's almost as if he is satisfied to lose, as long as it is his way." Did I merely imagine Troy Smith throwing 30 touchdowns and winning the Heisman in 2006? Because if I did, that would be awesome. I pray someone is about to smack me into consciousness on the morning of the 2006 Ohio State game with Tressel poised to run 70% of the time.
There's a ton of funny or interesting content that actually takes time and research being published in the blogosphere. Here's some great stuff on underdog strategies from Smart Football. Here's an in-depth look at Rodriguez offenses past and what makes them good from When Carcajous Attack(!). Here's MVictors talking with Minnesota's AD about whether a 2010 Michigan-Minnesota nonconference game was actually a possibility. All contain far more value than yet another offseason list put together by some guy BRINGING IT STRONG.
There's a disconnect here, isn't there? I actually feel bad for Rittenberg, who has to put out a mountain of ephemeral content like "Top 30 Players In The Big Ten" that serves no other purpose than to generate a tiny burst of link traffic instead of getting to concentrate on pieces with lasting value. But he shouldn't mistake the insistent demands of the page view god for quality content elsewhere.
Speaking of all those posts. Yes, MVictors got the scoop on this weird possibility of a Michigan-Minnesota nonconference game. It won't happen, but it was discussed:
MVictors: Were you interested?
Maturi: There are different kinds of scheduling. When you’re Minnesota and you’re trying to improve your program and to be successful, I’m really thankful to coach Brewster for his willingness to play a tougher schedule. Saying that, we had already scheduled Southern Cal for next year . I’m not a real brilliant guy, but I’m not so sure it’s in the best interest of Minnesota football to play Southern Cal and Michigan in back-to-back weeks. Non-conference, so-to-speak. As a result, if we had not scheduled Southern Cal I would have been very interested.
That's sort of encouraging, I guess, for folks who would like to see another interesting 2010 nonconference game—ie, everyone—but discouraging if an oddity like that is Michigan's best hope. More over there, including Bill Martin writing a check to Minnesota for a new stadium in a huff.
Meanwhile, this When Carcajous Attack(!) post is extensive and hard to really blockquote from, so let's just hit the outline:
Under what circumstances does Rodriguez’s spread-option offense really start hitting on all cylinders?
When certain key ingredients were present and well-mixed into the offensive game plan, Rodriguez showed a tremendous yield of both offensive firepower (yards gained, points scored) and victories. All of Rich Rodriguez’s most powerful offensive units featured three key components.
I.) Quarterbacks With Wheels
II.) Tailback Tandems from Hell
III.) Slot Machines (and Quarterbacks That Crank The Handle)
There are many examples of Rodriguez's past combined with Michigan's; take a gander.
(Sidenote II: hey, kids and doctors! I see you taking your tables and posting them in image format, which is subpar because 1) the google can't see you, 2) the page loads slower, and 3) no one can C&P your work easily and build on it. Instead of screen-grabbing your spreadsheet program, try Tableizer.)
Save the MSU game, the Wolverines beat the opponent’s average in each game over the second half of the season.
It's true: Michigan was an outstanding rush offense in three games, average in two others, and poor against MSU. That replicated over the course of the season would shoot Michigan into territory not quite as lofty as that experienced by Rodriguez at West Virginia, but close. And if you remember Michigan State's snap-jumping excess in last year's game…
As we now know, there weren't really variable pauses between the hand clap and the snap, which allowed Michigan State to jump the snap count time and again to mostly good effect. They picked up a few offsides calls, but they also got incompletions, stuffed runs, and sacks because their guys were moving before Michigan's OL could even get out of their stances.
…you know that there was a significant mitigating factor in Michigan's single subpar rushing effort in the season's second half, one that's unlikely to be repeated with a more experienced center and line.
And what's more, Michigan returns literally everyone relevant to that performance with another year of experience and Barwis under their belts. This is your major reason for hope in 2009.
Loeffler Jr.? Loeffler on his younger doppelganger:
Q:Was it exciting to see Nick Sheridan get playing time last fall?
A:Nick Sheridan, I love like a son. He loves Michigan and is going to do everything that's asked of his coaches and is an impeccable young man, and one day he'll be one heck of a football coach.