...talks about how UConn hasn't been in contact and how they're out. (HT: UMHoops)
Bob Lipson, the most interesting man on a blue planet
Through various iterations of music players I have had a Game Day mix that I play on the drive from metro-Detroit to Ann Arbor. It's organized in a specific order to mimic the Michigan experience, beginning with a track imploring that the band take the field, and the whole pre-game concert, plus a bunch of Victors trios, Let's Go Blues, a halftime show, the hospital's string instrumental, and Temptation/Hawaiian WC. It concludes as any rightful Michigan weekend must, with Across 110th Street.
Michigan Replay ran from 1975 through 2008, beginning on Channel 7, moving to 4, and then back to 7 before ending up at Fox. The Sunday show spanned three coaches, two hosts, and six athletic directors. In some ways it was the spiritual predecessor to MGoBlog, in that its calling card was picking apart the plays from a wide angle, and using the latest available medium—television—to bring fans closer to the program than they'd ever been before.
Many people made the show what it was—from the coaches who finished their game days with after-midnight taping sessions an hour's drive away from their wives and beds, to the humble Jim Brandstatter, to the camera guys and crew like Pierre Woods and MGoReader Mike Berens.
But if you narrow Michigan Replay down to one guy, that guy is producer Bob Lipson. I recently had the great pleasure to sit down with Bob and ask him to tell the story of the show that for 33 years became part of the fabric of Michigan football. What follows are Bob's recollections of three wonderful decades, as recreated from notes written by a poor blogger trying to scribble while listening to one of the most fascinating stories in Michigan football, much of it not at all the way you imagined it happened. I know some people will remember things differently. What I have tried to present is the tale as Bob told it to me.
Live from WXYZ Channel 7: 1975-1979
In 1975 there were basically three networks. Michigan was as big as any team but still had its games broadcast about four times a year—when it was the ABC Game of the Week. At this time Bo was doing a Sunday TV show on Channel 4 that the people at Michigan weren't very happy with. Bob Lipson was working for Channel 7, under a general manager who was also head of Michigan State's alumni association (Bob refers to them only as "Sparty").
Lipson, a Michigan fan though not an alum—he's a Wayne State grad—had an idea to take over the program with a better format, and got the principals, including Bo and, somewhat reluctantly, athletic director Don Canham, to agree (Lipson spoke with great respect of Canham, even though they butted heads, and later listed him along with Jerry Hanlon and Elvis Grbac as the three people who left the strongest impression on him of all his years with the show). As payment Bo got whatever sponsorships they could sell in the credits scroll. The first host was Larry Adderley, another Sparty, who got the gig by nature of being WXYZ's main sports broadcaster (Larry later became the Tigers' play-by-play man).
The theme from a Blaxploitation flick and its now iconic percussion/horn funk melody was chosen mostly by happenstance: "I was frantic to find a theme song right up to the last minute of the first show back in '75," Bob recalled. "I just stumbled upon it while trying everything in the channel 7 library and settled on it the night before the first show."
The first episode aired after the first game of the '75 season, at snackycake Wisconsin (two traditions we all miss: early season conference games, and Wisconsin being a pushover). From the start it was a ratings success; it helped that Michigan was No. 2 in the country. The myriad Sparties around the network—specifically Jim Osborn who was president of the MSU Alumni Association—wanted, and created, their own show to run after Michigan Replay, however Sparty wasn't much to look at in the '70s so the network was essentially taking a loss to make sure everything stayed square.
Doing the show live had its funky moments. Back then Bob would pick out cuts directly from the coaches' (all-22) film on Saturday nights and have them ready to go for the Sunday filming. One time a crew member put the double-perf (meaning it has holes on both sides, people born after 1990) film into the machine backwards while playing it back during the taping, with the effect that everything was flipped horizontally. As Adderley professionally acted as if nothing was amiss, while breaking down a play Bo decided to point out that despite appearances, quarterback Rick Leach is indeed left-handed.
Here I'd like to mention that Bob shares our distaste for EXTREME CLOSE-UP footage whose analytic value is limited to ENT doctors.
Bob's Show, Bo, Budweiser, and Brandy: The 1980s
What's a Valhalla?
After five years of producing the show for WXYZ, Lipson knew he had a success and wanted to leave Channel 7 and own the show himself. He found a new home at Channel 4, the NBC affiliate. Since Adderley was Channel 7's guy Bob got a new host from Channel 4, that station's number 2 sports guy behind Al Ackerman (and a former player for Bo) Jim Brandstatter. Brandy got the call that he'd be coming on board for Michigan Replay while he was on his honeymoon, and canceled the trip to come back immediately. As you can see above from the early Brandy episodes, the rapport with Bo was an instant fit, as Jim, more so even than Adderley, had the humility to let the coach and the game be the story each week.
Former Eastern Michigan athletic director, Alex Agase, who holds the interesting distinction of being an All-American at two Big Ten schools (Illinois, then Purdue while training for WWII), was by this time a volunteer assistant for Bo. Among his duties were driving the head coach of Michigan to Detroit and back to do the shows. In true Schembechlerian fashion, after spending all day Saturday coaching football, and the hours after each game on Saturday night breaking down football film with his coaches, and the half hour talking about football on TV, what Bo wanted to talk about most on those hour-long rides was, of course, football.
The sponsors that Lipson drew were mostly clients from (I'm going to spell this wrong) PR firm Darcy, McManus, & Bowles, who, as was standard practice in advertising for the day, got a few Michigan perks (like Bob's seats) with their deals. In return Bob got three main sponsors: Pontiac, Cadillac, and Budweiser. Bo didn't mind the cars; he hated Bud. Hated it. Hated the very idea of alcohol mixing with his clean-cut Michigan show. Finally Lipson jokingly promised Bo if he could get the Michigan Milk Producers to come on board he'd drop Bud.
In 1984, Lipson moved again, this time back to Channel 7 but with the ability to reach a far greater audience through their network affiliates. Meanwhile the network was pressuring Channel 4 to get rid of Brandstatter, who didn't fit the hip '80s ideal of a program host. It was unrelated but perfect timing that when NBC pulled the plug on Brandstatter, Lipson was packing for Channel 7, and could thus bring his host with him.
Michigan Replay already reached homes across the state and into Toledo (and trebled Sparty's show's viewership in East Lansing) but this got Bob's little show all over the region, perhaps an understated part of how Michigan became one of the first truly national collegiate brands. People were tuning in every Sunday as far away as Tennessee to have Bo break down the latest game. The show was now an integral part of the Michigan football experience, a weekly tradition for more people in the state even than going to the football game, a perfect match for its era. But then came 1989.
End of Part I. Sorry to break this up, but Hail to the Victors is shipping at the end of this week and I have to get back to it. Coming up next week: how Fox changed everything and nothing, tapings at 2 a.m., Mo, Lloyd, the studio in Crisler, what do you do with 10,000 square yards of used stadium turf, and what really happened in 2008.
Staying for a while. Helmet numbers are around until someone gets tired of them again if correspondence sent to Shane Morris is any indication:
I like them so much better when they're the same color as the rest of the helmet. Let's work on that, kids. Also someone send one of these to Treadwell with a #1 on it.
Michigan Replay, 1999. Intro not present, unfortunately. Post PSU win. This was smack in the middle of the We Own Penn State period.
Old, old school. Great article by John Kryk as he catches up with 91-year-old Al Wistert to talk about how his brain's doing and various other things. Wistert is hale and hearty, full of stories:
Wistert said he often did take a pounding; speed can help an undersized tackle avoid only so much contact.
"It was always a problem," he said of his size. "Each guy that I played against outweighed me by 40 or 50 pounds, and that was never easy.
"Playing nine years in the NFL would be a long time in any era. I didn't have a lot of injuries, though. I usually played 60 minutes and didn't come out of the game. But I managed to survive it. I guess I was pretty tough."
Wistert said he doesn't recall there being any protocols, or even concerns, back in the '40s about the effects of hits to the head. He doesn't recall having suffered a concussion, and said he doesn't know of any teammates who were ever kept out of a game for having had, in the parlance of the day, his "bell rung."
"No, I don't remember any serious precautions that they would make about that. So I guess there wasn't any concern about it."
Wistert played both ways for nine years in the NFL at 214 pounds. Different era then. Obviously.
NEVER TALK JIM DELANY. Unless you're telling that story about how you fingerbanged Mark Shapiro. All responses to all questions should be colorful anecdotes about turning his outrage into yearning. That's quality stuff.
It's just the everything else that's an issue:
"I don't have a lot of regard for that team," Delany said in a phone interview with The Associated Press.
Who is that team?
"I don't have a lot of regard for that team," he said. "I certainly wouldn't have as much regard for that team as I would for someone who played nine conference games in a tough conference and played a couple out-of-conference games on the road against really good opponents. If a poll doesn't honor those teams and they're conference champions, I do.
He didn't say Alabama. Did he have to? Anyone ever heard of a team not winning its division or its conference but going on to win the national championship?
GODDAMMIT JIM DELANY NOW ALABAMA IS GOING TO SHOW UP IN DALLAS AND TRY TO WIN. OUR WHOLE PLAN WAS THIS: DO NOT MAKE ALABAMA FEEL LIKE THEY SHOULD WIN THIS FOOTBALL GAME. OUR WHOLE PLAN IS NOW: AAAAAAAAIIIIEEEEEE. I SHOULD SHAKE YOU, SCREAMING "GET AHOLD OF YOURSELF" AND YES I KNOW THAT'S IRONIC.
Or maybe this doesn't matter and Alabama was already thinking they should win the game. But probably not.
Potentially useful walk-on? Michigan's acquired a preferred walk-on named Chris Maye from Union City, Michigan. He's a defensive back and he seems pretty fast:
Maye had several opportunities; officially visiting U-M and Michigan State for track, as well as making official visits to U-M, MSU and Army for football. He was the No. 1 track recruit at U-M, but Maye set his sights on playing football, actually turning down track scholarships.
With Brink poised to contribute and Kovacs entering his fourth year as a starter, guys like these are worth keeping an eye on in case they turn out a lot better than expected. Or Dantonio offers them. Whichever comes first.
Slash. Slash is old now, and I wonder if he just has a wig with the hat attached that he puts on when he wants to be Slash and takes off when he just wants to be an old guy in leather pants. Maybe he has to take the leather pants off too.
Anyway: Jay Bilas is sick of watching basketball teams beat up on weak sauce that probably shouldn't even be in D-I and has a radical solution($):
The bottom half of Division I is simply not competitive enough on a consistent basis to justify the bloated size of Division I. If Division I is reduced to a more reasonable size, there would be better games, a better distribution of talent across a smaller pool, and a better and more marketable product.
If Division I shrinks to 120 or 150 teams, the cry that Butler and VCU would be left out is the first one hears. Slow down. Look at the 120 FBS teams on the football side, and then look at the top 150 in the BPI. Teams like Butler (which just bolted the Horizon League for the Atlantic 10) and VCU would be among the 120 to 150 teams that are qualified and committed to a better Division I. It would include plenty of committed and competitive teams, and nobody would miss the early-season games against sacrificial lambs.
Most of the competitive programs would make it above that bar, and Bilas further suggests that top D-II teams—where the bottom 200 teams would end up—could get bids to the NCAA tournament to keep the Cinderella factor high. End result would be much better nonconference scheduling. It's a win for fans.
Unfortunately, we live in a world where John Calipari cancels the IU-Kentucky series because he can't get Tom Crean to move it off of home courts. Fans are about #10,000 on the list of stakeholders. As long as the NCAA is a loose confederation people are going to make eyes at status they can't achieve. There's nothing to be done except make sure you avoid the real dregs so your RPI doesn't suffer.
Answering rhetorical questions. It's my hobby. Here are three masquerading as one:
Zack Novak: The world's smallest, toughest and most self-deprecating power forward?
Smallest: at a major college level, yes. Not for all of D-I thanks to the problem above. Toughest: um… probably not. Most self-deprecating: hell yes. Should have asked "most likely to have a rage fit" as well:
“A great all-around athlete,” Beilein later added, gesturing along the table of 10 honorees at Barton Hills Country Club. “If he had chose wrestling, he’d be sitting next to (wrestling assistant) Sean (Bormet). If he had chosen hockey, a great defenseman, he would have been. (Hockey coach) Red (Berenson), don’t you think so? Knock some people around. (Football coach) Brady (Hoke), a cornerback? One of those other things -- a safety?
“(Golf coach) Chris (Whitten), that’s the one thing I know, he would not be sitting next to you -- unless Happy Gilmore can make a comeback, because every club would be broken by the end of the first round.”
I find it odd that Beilein knows who Happy Gilmore is. This is probably unfair.
It's like Japan, except flat and slippery and less irradiated. That would be Michigan hockey practices this fall. The addition of Andrew Copp, an end-of-the-bench NTDP player who is likely to be Danny Fardig 2.0, gives Michigan 15(!) forwards, 9(!) defensemen, and 4(!) goalies this fall. Some of these guys are deep roster players who aren't getting scholarship money and don't expect to play, but the defense corps is especially jammed now that it appears everyone's back next year.
Michigan brings in two NTDPers who will be drafted, one very high, and these guys who played frequently last year:
Two of those guys are probably going to get scratched every weekend unless Connor Carrick is also in the scratch mixture.
Scoring is the main issue. The cavalry there arrives in 2013. A senior-year blowup from AJ Treais would be most welcome.
Etc.: BYB's Kurt Mensching gets a Detroit News columnist gig. May they replace Rosenberg as effectively. Kyle Bosch will enroll early. The Hoover Street Rag posts its version of Special K for a day. These posts are tempting me to put together a list of the worst possible stadium anthems. Sigur Ros: untoppable?
BlueReign / The Diaries / Lattimer
Maybe I was asking for it by demanding more diaries last week but 346 characters in the diary tab, and 108 of them you people caps'ed. That includes the " – x days ago" parts which you would have rendered in 18-point bold if you could have. With all the shoutin' these better be good.
This one's good. It's a sports in general diary about the mindset of athletes and how they can be driven to use performance-enhancing drugs by stephnrjking. He doesn't excuse anything; mostly he demonstrates that strong control by the leagues is an imperative. However I disagree with his assertion that benefits…
PEDs can increase strength. They can increase speed. They can increase endurance (cyclists don't use anabolic steroids, but directly alter their blood chemistry to increase their cardiovascular efficiency to astonishing levels). What are sports if not tests for speed, strength, and endurance? PEDs can give a soccer player the endurance to win a corner in the 87th minute, a baseball player the extra length on a fly ball to hit a home run, or a running back the extra kick to make it to the second level. A basketball player gets extra height on their way to the basket, a hockey player recovers quicker for the next playoff game, a swimmer has the extra wattage to win at the wall.
…incentivize steroid use for football players as much as baseball or cycling. A commenter mentioned soccer, where endurance again is a major factor of success. The reason is because the PEDs that don't show up in a test only give you a marginal edge. In cycling that tiny margin makes a huge difference as you expend your endurance to near its absolute maximum. In baseball it makes a difference because hitting or pitching you will accumulate so many trials that even marginal changes will appear in the stats. Remember what Crash Davis said's the difference between hitting .250 in the bushes and playing in Yankee Stadium: one hit a week. We tend to think of juiced up sluggers hitting copious amounts of dingers, but they started catching guys with the spot checks or investigations and a lot of times it was dudes in their mid-'30s trying to quickly come back from an injury.
MLB in particular compounded their problem by purposely turning a blind eye after the lockout. Whether it was because they didn't want to go 20 rounds again with the players union or just got distracted by Mac's dingers, it created a scenario for a lot of guys where you juiced or fell behind guys who did. The numbers of ballplayers at the end of a needle doesn't apply to college football because college football never tacitly allowed it.
In football it's going that extra inch with Al Pacino and whatnot, but the rewards of a little bit extra, if extant, are hard to see. I don't doubt that there are players who use PEDs in college football, but the edge isn't going to show in practice or in stats, making it a dumbass risk to take without the promise of rewards. So then it's go big or don't bother, therefore fewer will bother.
More has gone into educating these guys about the risks of steroids than any generation before them, so I'd imagine they realize the increased risk of injury, which in a contact sport is closer to guaranteeing you'll get injured. I'd be way less surprised if they're taking brain drugs, e.g. Sammy Watkins, because those are widely available on a modern college campus and a full coarse load on top of the amount of study the game requires more concentration than physical endurance.
There's the few guys who go all Steve Lattimer, taking 1,000 to 10,000 times safe amounts of anabolic steroids to turn into starters. Brian Cushing (above, moments after owning Jake Long) had those rumors around him since high school, but only failed a drug test once, after he was in the NFL, and he disputes it. I'm not accusing Cushing—I'm saying if you start growing outside the bounds of the usual athlete growth rate (which is pretty high to begin with) people will notice. Also they test everybody on entry to the NFL. I think the risks for college football outweigh the benefits more than for other sports. I'm sure there's still dumbasses who do it anyway. I don't think you need to hedge your fandom for it.
Two stars. Modder BiSB tried to look at recruiting from the angle of two-stars. The update to this included some rubber hitting road when he showed the draft picks who came from higher stars seemed to have more successful teams than those who came from nowhere, but then Ohio State screws up the 5-star thing by going 7-6 with lots of them. I would guess the reason a 4-star who becomes an NFL player has a better team in college mostly because his team had more 4-stars who'll be future NFL players on it while lots of lower-ranked diamonds share the field with plenty of 2-stars who don't work out.
Etc. Blockhams go green for a week. Not shown: Chalmers (the MSU brother) covering the family home with a spray-painted bedsheet.
Best of the Board
WE NO SHANE A MORRISCANO
Blue had me on the fence on the diary but then add this and it's Diarist of the Week. That became the opening salvo of the Shane Morris Photoshop Thread he started. And did the cropping. Give yourself 200 points sir! The rest of you, click to find Shane joining the ranks of the Photoshop HoF, trolling fascists (and Ohio State, if you see them as not fascists), held aloft the Titanic by Lewan, tempting bulls, flying through space, catlabbing, and doing the Up and Over It hand dance. Hard to believe it's been over a year since he committed.
IN A PINK LOCKER ROOM
Michigan Replay / Inside Michigan Football (dramatization).
About the time you're reading this I'll be off to have breakfast with the guy who made Michigan Replay happen (this is a great gig!). To fill in the blanks and refresh my own memories I enlisted the board's help and the result was a LOT of people with fond tales and uncanny knowledge about the weeks when the hosts were in flux. Also: lots of YouTubes of old episodes. Prepare to lose all productivity to the irresistible combination of '70s funk rock and Bo Schembechler doing UFRs. IMF is not a replacement. I don't know what could be.
A new user stumbled upon the thread where Brian told people not to freak out about recruits every time they lean in one direction and fart another, because the recruit at the time was a certain legacy from Columbus with a snowplow business. This led to exhumations of many a dead thread and prediction. Like the banana dancing about peanut butter because the alternative was hiring the guy from Ball St…oh. This then became the great threads of the past, e.g. "Things you're man (or woman) enough to admit."
I followed some of the links and ended up reminiscing more about some of the commenters of yesteryear. I've long wanted to do an article bringing up some of the great threads from BITD, not just the ones that go in the hall of fame but those with five punting Zoltans, or the Paint of a 24th century Michigan Stadium with maize jerseys and planets for video screens that launched Midnight Maize.
BEAT OHIO IN 2013
A law professor goes over the most recent case of Ohio State and its predilection for lawyerly hypocrisy in defending its interests (as in they act like they're defense attorneys, not that lawyers are all such and what), particularly with how they claim the utter sanctity of student records to fend off investigations but then disclose personal information. I didn't want to delve too deep into the grad student's claims in this is better aired, but there's some good discussion in there about institutional ethics. From a football standpoint, there's a good and evil narrative. From a reality standpoint I wouldn't doubt for a second that Michigan has been two-faced to serve its own needs, if not so obvious about it.
For a case example of how people can justify their actions in their own heads see Terrelle Pryor believing his extra benefits at OSU were the work of divine providence. Emotional problems, remember?
Beating them is the important thing. In college athletics, it's when you lose that people get dissatisfied and everything comes out. Sustained success with sustained ethics only happens if the program uses that as its foundation.
Sam Webb's interview with the 2013 commits who camped at Columbus includes a "Beat Ohio!" cheer.
Image above is umhero getting wwaaaaaaaayy ahead of things.
Your moment of zen:
BURKE ACK. Everyone's on alert after Sam Webb—previously confident—walked that back significantly last night on the premium Scout board. Rivals almost immediately provided a positive counterpoint but I think we all know who's had the better information over the last year or so. Dylan has "strong rumors on both sides of the coin." I'm stocking my bomb shelter.
Burke should hear an official word from the NBA advisory committee in two days. I haven't heard any analyst say he's a first rounder and the strong rumor I got said Burke wouldn't leave unless that's where he was projected; if that's the case we could get an announcement of a return shortly after. Once that date passes April 29th is the deadline. The April 10th date is meaningless.
This is wasting time I could be using buying canned goods.
This is cultural relevance. Via Matt Norlander and Jerry Hinnen, a curiosity left behind in the Kentucky locker room in the aftermath of their national championship:
It was probably inevitable that the end result of the Fab Five is the apotheosis of the one-and-done. Whether that's good or bad is in the eye of the beholder.
I WATCHED ALL-STAR HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL AND SURVIVED. It was a near thing, but I made it. Over the weekend I took in Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III playing in separate games of the ESPN something something classic something, and wondered why I was doing it. I can tell you these things:
- Mitch McGary is tall, but not as tall as some other guys.
- Glenn Robinson III can dunk very well…
- …but had a rough day at the free throw line.
Click through for McGary, who didn't look as good of a prospect in a barely-organized meaningless quasi-scrimmage that even the announcers regularly talked trash about. Hurrah for information.
Robinson looks like he'll be tough to keep off the court. After the game Dave Telep asserted that he and Sam Dekker were overlooked for the McDonald's game. It'll be interesting to see how the minutes shake out. Robinson says he's being looked at for the 2 and 3…
As far as next season goes, Robinson says he's currently putting in extra time on his 3-point shooting and his ball handling. He said the Michigan staff would like to use him as both a small forward and shooting guard next season, meaning he could be relied on to attack the rim off the dribble, distribute and score from deep.
…but I'm betting we see Michigan go with Robinson at the four for at least 15 minutes a game. That will depend on how Hardaway and Stauskas are playing and how comfortable Beilein is with a four who can't shoot threes.
Also a chic pick. Indiana is getting a lot of hype in everyone's way-too-early previews. Someone else getting hype: Michigan. Andy Katz:
The Wolverines will be in the top 10 if Trey Burke returns to school. He should. He would join freshman stud Mitch McGary and Tim Hardaway Jr., and a loaded class that also includes ESPNU 100 recruits Glenn Robinson Jr., and Nik Stauskas. The Wolverines have had a few defections, and that has disrupted a bit of their flow. But John Beilein has figured out the Big Ten, so Michigan will once again be in the mix.
Not to be outdone is Terry Hutchens of the Indianapolis Star:
3. Michigan: Trey Burke is the big key here. If he stays in school, Michigan is loaded considering what it has back and the addition of players like Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III. If Burke leaves, I think Michigan slips a few notches here. Losing Douglass and Novak would be bigger if a guy like Burke doesn’t return.
CBS has Michigan #5. Yeesh. I know we're talking Big Expectations next year but a one-seed is not the peak of my personal expectations distribution.
Twosie, the story. The Daily tracks down the man who sold Taylor Lewan his tandem bike:
Hakken asks Lewan where the coeds are going to sit, as he rides around with his friends. Tandem bikes are, after all, romantic.
“No girls are going to ride my twosie,” Lewan says, incredulously, and Hakken laughs again. He's never heard anyone call a tandem that before, but he chooses not to correct Lewan, who makes it clear he’s serious about buying the bike.
It's a story for the ages. In 2055 the most prestigious college football award will be the Taylor Lewan's Twosie, given to the best pair of starting tackles in the country.
Flufftasm. Not Michigan Replay is all "BCS Sugar Bowl champions but that's in the past," and MGoVideo has restored the rightful music that is right:
Reader Matt Stone points out that there's a (smoked) bubble screen around 8:52. Either way that's good—Michigan couldn't defend it at all last year, and never ran it in an effort to loosen up defenses.
Check out the segment on Michigan replacing Molk and Martin if only to hear Ricky Barnum pronounce hungry "hawngry." #doyouspeakflorida.
Talking to Al. I watched about an hour of this at the Glazier Clinic I went to and could have happily done another four:
"He invited me into a room…"
"…the film room."
Ohhhh oh. Oh. Carry on. Michigan Replay should be an hour of this every week. Two.
Overcoming tragedy, he selected extra value meal #3. If Elliott Mealer does end up winning the left guard job, you can ink the inevitable Tom Rinaldi feature in double-underlined ink. I just wonder if he'd like to be Elliott Mealer at this point instead of Overcoming Tragedy Elliott Mealer. Example AA.com headline:
Elliott Mealer overcomes tragedy, becomes leading candidate for starting spot on Michigan's offensive line
Maybe Elliott Mealer wants to be Guy With Mountain Man Beard instead.
Meanwhile, Brock update:
He continues to work out with Barwis three times per week, commuting from Ohio to BarwisMethods in Plymouth, and can now take 23 steps without any kind of support -- canes included.
A weakness! A palpable weakness! Alabama is moving Australian JUCO transfer Jesse Williams from defensive end to nose tackle, where surely he'll be an exploitable liabilit—
Dammit. Why are we playing a team with an entire extra recruiting class to sift through again?
Etc.: If Derrick Nix misses one minute against a real opponent this year for getting arrested for pot I'll eat… well, I'll be surprised. Unless he's got a couple of secret strikes already this will blow over before fall.
M has acquired its Sugar Bowl bling. Point of order: Michigan fans aren't "misinterpreting" Advice Columnist Mark Hollis's Burke-directed tweet. We know it's harmless greeting-card advice. We are mocking Hollis for being a 12-year-old who likes Twilight.
Old school. Wolverine Historian's putting out a bunch of old Michigan Replay episodes. Here's 1989 Illinois:
The music was not yet in place, unfortunately.
Dolla dolla bill ya'll. Greg Mattison's compensation package isn't public yet but Brandon pops up in an article about pro assistants moving back to college and he's quoted thusly:
Michigan AD Dave Brandon says he's "reasonably sure" Mattison's deal "will surpass anything we've done in the past" for a football assistant.
Step one in Pay That Man His Money has been accomplished, with Beyonce or equivalent hopefully on deck.
Remain calm. Do not be alarmed. Mike DeBord has moved to the Bears, where he is the TE coach, and this guy from the local Tribune made ominous noises on twitter a few days ago:
League source told me #Bears TE coach Mike DeBord's name had been linked to Michigan, where he coached in 2 separate stints.
There's a long way from being "linked" to Michigan and actually employed there, especially when Michigan has assembled its full complement of offensive assistants and still needs two guys on defense. DeBord's never coached anything but OL and TE and Michigan's already got those spots filled.
File under Hoke positives. Hoke's making the rounds on the high school coach rubber chicken circuit and picking up quotes like this:
"Having been here at this conference before, and seeing the previous coaches, you can definitely feel there's a leadership vibe there (with Hoke) that will relate to the hard-working people of Michigan, and I think that message of wanting the Michigan kid is a big thing for the coaches."
Hoke apparently returned his M-issue Blackberry and asked for a phone with one big button on it. People are eating this up. Also:
I thought Rodriguez was a very good coach, an offensive genius. I think it will be different where Brady will recruit Michigan harder and not just go to Florida and California (like Rodriguez), so I think he and Dantonio will have a good battle for a lot of our good kids in Michigan.
Except Our Helmets Have Wings points out that Rodriguez's classes were more Midwest-oriented than his predecessor's. A slight downgrade in numbers from Michigan (due in large part to "it hurts my heart" guy at Renaissance, now fired, and "guy who lives with Gholston" guy at Southeastern, now employed at Michigan State) was offset by Michigan hitting Ohio hard. That probably wasn't a positive—Michigan was not going head to head with OSU for many of those guys. Under Carr their national net brought in better classes than Rodriguez's boatload of okay Ohio recruits.
But it doesn't matter. What matters is what high school coaches think, and they think Brady Hoke is the bee's knees. Michigan had already established a lead for three of the top five players in the state (Royce Jenkins-Stone and Terry Richardson of Cass and James Ross of OLSM), seems to be in the top two with Dan O'Brien, and should acquire Chris Wormley out of Toledo. Bring those in and that meme is established in the same way Rodriguez Ignores Michigan got started. This is fierce pragmatist talk here: by throwing Rodriguez overboard now the next guy gets a PR boon.
Let the reassurance wash over you. Here's an interview with Mattison:
If you are saying "oh thank God" after watching that you are not alone.
Quarterback future indicated. Rutgers QB Tom Savage is transferring, but the school isn't allowing him to be released to… um… anywhere he wants to go:
…former high school All-American quarterback Tom Savage, who is transferring from Rutgers, has been denied permission to speak to Miami and is appealing the decision, his father said Sunday.
Savage Sr. said his son learned Saturday that Rutgers will not allow him to speak with UM, UF, FSU or Michigan. Rutgers did not give him a reason.
There's no reason to bar him from talking to any of those schools since none of them are future Rutgers opponents*. When PSU did the same thing to Robert Bolden they managed to patch up their differences, but Savage's dad is looking for a lawyer. That's not a marriage that can be saved, so refusing to allow Savage to talk to other schools just seems spiteful.
It's likely moot given Michigan's QB situation—Savage isn't likely to transfer into a spot where he won't start in two years and has to fight with Devin Gardner after that. But it does provide an indication of where QB recruiting is going. Savage is a prototypical pocket statue. They're going after a "dual threat" sort out of Texas, but a dual threat sort who has 400 yards rushing and is currently committed to Purdue. I hope we get him solely for the irony.
*[Miami is, but in 2018. Savage will be long gone by then.]
Michigan director of football operations Scott Draper has resigned. School spokesman Dave Ablauf said Saturday that Draper stepped down to accept another position.
With Brad Labadie and Judy Van Horn already out the door, Ann Vollano is the last one standing. She must feel like she's 80 minutes into a Final Destination movie. Sidenote: if you're wondering which side carries more blame, Van Horn got a similar job at South Carolina. Labadie and presumably Draper won't sniff an athletic department again.
Etc.: Back in Tom Harmon's day the threat of a transfer loomed… a transfer to Tulane. Long profile on Brock Mealer from David Mayo avoids stating any of David Mayo's opinions and is therefore readable.
New feature. Profile pages now contain a table with the user's most recent comments presented in reverse chronological order. This is mostly useful for mods, but now you can track the progress of your favorite (or "favorite") mgousers. Before you get any funny ideas, the main reason I implemented this was so that we could better judge a poster's body of work when we're considering a banhammer. Applications unrelated to totalitarianism are just a bonus.
Victors. Congratulations to the men's gymnastics team and their shiny national title:
Michigan beat out usual suspect Stanford by three-tenths of a point for its fourth national title and Michigan's first (varsity) title since 2005. You'll see them at the UConn game, no doubt.
One of these things is extremely similar to the other. Ohio State recruit Jamel Turner just got shot. According to his facebook feed he's as fine as you can be after getting shot, but getting lit up is the latest and scariest development in a tumultuous couple years for the blue-chip defensive end. Turner was kicked off Ursuline's team and was declared academically ineligible as a senior. He headed to Fork Union for a post-grad year and was asked to leave. Eleven Warriors calls him "troubled," which… yeah, seems about right.
I don't even have to tell you the local media's reaction to all this, do I? I don't but here you go anyway:
Suddenly, many of the dozens of schools that had once recruited Turner started getting back in touch. But just as Ohio State never pulled its scholarship offer when he got into trouble, Turner would not be swayed from his original choice.
"(Coach Jim) Tressel is a good man, and he stands by his word," Turner said. "So I'm going to stand by my word, and we're going to get it done."
Not that it should be any different. If Turner manages to keep himself on the straight and narrow at Ohio State that will be a win for both parties. If Ohio State decided to cut ties with him he'd be headed for a place with far fewer resources at his disposal and would have a much greater chance of hanging around the sorts of places where you get shot.
Turner hasn't gotten into any problems with the law, but it's not like that matters in the media environment Michigan is facing these days. Drew Sharp is running around saying "we don't know" about the trouble that Dorsey obviously got in after he was diverted from serious legal consequences two years ago. If Dorsey doesn't qualify there will be another round of clucking about how Rodriguez shouldn't have "taken a chance" on the kid. If Turner washes out there will be sad panda columns about today's society.
It is in this fashion—pretending it's not about wins—that the media proves it's all about wins.
(Side note: Turner is from Youngstown, as is Fitzgerald Toussaint. Toussaint's dad got locked up for stabbing his mom's new beau… at a football game Toussaint was playing in. I am moving Youngstown below Somalia on my list of potential vacation destinations.)
Everyone's 6'6". Michigan offered 2012 Flint Powers wing Javonte Hawkins over the weekend:
Hawkins was told by the UM staff he is their "#1 sophomore wing recruit". Hawkins definitely has outstanding upside and potential. Baylor, South Carolina, Notre Dame are the newest schools to his recruitment.
Best of the Best also throws some names out for Michigan's assistant coach job: Dan Fife (not Dane, Dan), the head coach at Clarkson, Oakland assistant Saadi Washington, Bakari Alexander, and Oronde Taliaferro.
Update: Maybe it's Dane after all.
By way of podcast explanation. WH posted up a vintage Michigan Replay intro. It is fantastic. As a bonus, it answers the question "why you using that funky music for the podcast?"
God, remember when Michigan Replay was the only way to see highlights of the previous week's game? I remember installing crazy netscape plugins to download the tiny grainy video of Charles Woodson's punt return on CNNSI in '97, thinking that if I didn't get it right then I'd never be able to watch it whenever it occurred to me. Yeah. Not so much.