this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
Kill it with fire.Last year some horrible, horrible hip-hop artist whose songs should be titled "Making You Want To Die Part VII," "Making You Want To Die Part VIII," and so forth and so on, released some fake pump up video that momentarily panicked the fanbase into thinking we'd Freekbassed ourselves.
[By MGoLaw every mention of We Are ND must be accompanied by We Are ND:
We remain in full compliance.]
We had not. Nor have we this year when some horrible, horrible hard rock outfit attempted to pull the same trick with their song "Making You Want To Die Part IX". Should I even link this monstrosity? I will but only if everyone signs a blood oath to never support the people responsible for this.
/blood oath signing music
All right. It's here. The worst part about all of this is that someday the Assistant Vice Associate Athletic Director For Making Michigan Stadium Wicked Sweet is going to hear one of these things and think it is a good idea instead of a malformed baby we should leave on the mountain to die.
That last part is not a joke. Multiple people have sent Lucy Ann Lance's interview with the new chief marketing officer along because of an ominous passage towards the end of it.
The middle of the article has an extensive discussion of ads in Michigan Stadium and how they will never happen. While I'm grateful for that I wonder if the guys in charge of this stuff have any idea why that's important to the fanbase. I don't think they do:
Lucy Ann: Any other changes that you have coming out regarding branding of the University of Michigan?
Lochmann: Event presentation and how people experience the brand at our events is a big part of building the brand, and we are in the midst of hiring some event presentation folks to really focus on making it a wow experience for our fans who go to basketball, hockey, football, soccer. It’s not just a PA announcement.
Lucy Ann: More entertainment?
Lochmann: Exactly. We really want to make all Michigan Athletics a destination for sports fans.
"It's not just a PA announcement?" Do I have to refer a guy who actually works in the athletic department to the ten-year-old kid who blew his mind at last year's Illinois game? Shouldn't the person in charge of branding Michigan understand it? Michigan does not have "just PA announcements." It has one of the grand old men of the PA business, Carl Grapentine.
The primary reason Michigan fans don't want ads in the stadium is because they distract from the game. The chief marketing officer says he won't put ads in the stadium but looks to "really focus on making it a wow experience."
It already is a wow experience. There are a 110,000 people in a stadium watching Desmond Howard or Charles Woodson or Denard Robinson. Wow has been accomplished. Wow is also accomplished at Yost. Wow is not at Crisler, which is by far the chintziest Michigan sports venue. Make the connection. The chief marketing officer's primary duty should be to recognize and preserve the parts of the Michigan tradition that are unique, not turn everything into a February Knicks game.
I envy Notre Dame fans in this department. They have an iron grip on what they want their stadium experience to be like. It's a little weird that it does not include massive HD replays, but there is no threat someone will promise FREEEEEEE PIZZZZZAAA or play Let The Bodies Hit The Floor at Notre Dame Stadium. There would be a gentle, friendly riot.
Bo finishes. Via Wolverine Historian, a one-hour Michigan Replay special on Bo's last season:
Grimly grim under a steel-grim sky. So you're just skipping along in this article about Mike Hart's initial foray into coaching at Eastern Michigan when Ron English pops up and slaps you with this baby:
“Mike’s strengths were never his physical abilities, they were always his mental abilities, his emotional abilities, his character. That’s what I’ve always loved about him. He’s a no-brainer in this profession as long as he can deal with the hours, the commitment, the movement and the disappointment. There’s a lot of disappointment in this profession.”
English's perspective is informed by being head coach of a school where going 2-10 gets you a "keep up the good work," of course. Pair that with Eastern's gray concrete stadium and it's like being the head coach of North Korea's football team. Watch out for lightning.
And here's everything. Burnt Orange Nation has collected every nasty bit of PR to befall college football in the past year, getting up to 23 separate incidents (Michigan's major-ish violations are included). This is my favorite one:
13) Unranked UConn Cant Sell Fiesta Bowl tickets (December 2010)
In a further indictment of the current system, there were a flood of stories related to schools being unable to sell their allotment of tickets for bowl games. Most notably, UConn resorted to begging fans to buy Fiesta Bowl tickets. Not surprisingly, it didnt work. Later calculations placed their financial losses for the game at $1.66 million. Their actual losses were much higher, as OU kicked their ass and then their coach fled for Maryland. Good times.
The bowl system has successful shoved all the uncertainty onto the college programs they are parasites on, even up to the BCS level.
Etc.: Bleacher Report hires Dan Levy, Dan Rubenstein, Josh Zerkle, and Bethlehem Shoals? What is going on? Gary Danielson declares "landlocked" MSU and Purdue the toughest gigs in the Big Ten. Indiana? Or have people given up on them entirely? He's also a superconference believer, FWIW.
The offseason. This gif doesn't have LSUFreek's swag but the reference is golden:
I loled. Via Gaknar of the EDSBS commentariat. I'm not sure why the Navy Ram is getting shot, though. That is the Navy Ram, isn't it? UPDATE: It's the UNC Ram, which okay.
No offense, Fred Jackson. The countdown to the Hartening has begun in earnest now that he's out of the NFL and acting as a quality control assistant for Ron English and your Eastern Michigan Eagles:
"I'm definitely moving on to the next chapter of my life," said Hart, now married and a father. "Everyone stops playing. I'm done. I know what I want to do. I know where I want to be in the next 10-15 years. I'm happy now. I'm committed to Eastern, I'm committed to helping them, I'm committed to coach E." …
English offered Hart a job as a quality control coach, essentially a graduate assistant, who would have an opportunity for on-field coaching since English's staff was down a coach.
"Even though he's a quality control coach, technically, legally he's been out coaching with assistant coach Doug Downing with the running backs," said English, in his third year at Eastern. "He's been working with our special teams and coaching all the scout teams. So he's had a great impact."
Hart has to work on his hyperbole before he's ready for the Michigan job, but it's just a matter of time unless Ty Wheatley beats him to it.
Bonus awful. Fear The Hat picked up the ESPN post from last night and added a couple of sites that kind of think the Miami thing is important. More importantly, he screencapped the college football page:
The college football page! Aaaigh!
Someone's lying, and that someone is everyone. Terrelle Pryor is ineligible at Ohio State and has been banned from associating with the program for five years. Why? No one knows. Ohio State claims that it's because Pryor won't talk to the NCAA. What won't he talk to the NCAA about? Certainly not violations he committed.
The NFL doesn't appear to be buying this. That forces different, far more plausible stories to come to the forefront:
"Terrelle was fully forthcoming and subsequently provided the documents that were requested to support the disclosure," Cornwell told ESPN. "The NCAA has a procedure where they can automatically audit bank accounts of student-athletes who are on financial aid. If those bank statements add up to a substantial amount more than what has been provided through financial aid, they ask why. Terrelle provided them with those answers and, as I said, the documents the NCAA requested."
ESPN has obtained documents showing Pryor gave bank records to the NCAA at the meeting in May.
Ohio State is still under NCAA investigation, and Sarniak's payments have not been addressed publicly.
"What we provided for NFL Security (on Aug. 5) was a road map, a timeline and the documentation," Cornwell said. "Terrelle cooperated, and the violations occurred during a period well before the (April) draft. That's the key. Those disclosures and documents would have made Terrelle ineligible for the entire 2011 season, and once he made those disclosures to the NCAA, he withdrew from school."
Yeah, you read that name right: Sarniak. Ted Sarniak, the guy who everyone knew was the Nevin Shapiro of Jeanette, PA, gave money to Pryor after his enrollment at OSU. The NCAA had previously, inexplicably, and frustratingly given what happened to Jamal Crawford declared Sarniak's previous creepy gifts okay as long as he never did it again. Ohio State monitored this so hard that instead of disassociating from him, Jim Tressel ran to him for help.
Ohio State is of course denying this, because the NCAA can't even add when they look at a bank statement. The Dispatch reports there's also an investigation going on with a Marvin Austin-like trip to Miami sponsored by Sarniak. There's probably another NOA on the way, whereupon the NCAA will force the OSU athletic department to give away one tenth of one percent of its annual income to a dog shelter. That'll show 'em.
Navel-gazing. Concentrate Media has profiled yours truly. If you like meta, that's your jam. There is already a full and luscious thread discussing my hair if you'd like to participate. Yes, I did take one million points away from the guy who said I look like the lead singer of Nickelback. No, I'm not sorry*.
BTW, I don't think MGoBlog is the future of sports media. It might be a future, but there are going to be several different models that persist over the next ten years. The article is almost entirely accurate except in one small regard: beveled guilt is no joke.
*[Points will expire in two days. I'm not a monster.]
Piling on. It's bad when Adult Swim is on your case:
Different kinds of one thing. Braves & Birds makes a good point about oversigning:
The teams that have the greatest incentive to oversign are the middle class or lower class programs that struggle to recruit top players and therefore have to make up with quantity what they cannot acquire in quality. Thus, we would expect that the most successful teams in the conference would not oversign because they don’t have to do so. Therefore, looking at results and recruiting quantities is a fool’s errand because Pennington is not normalizing for program status. In other words, if Florida signs 85 players over a four-year period and Ole Miss signs 105, we wouldn’t expect Ole Miss to have a better record because the extra players will not trump all of the other advantages that Florida has over Ole Miss.
There are two kinds. The first kind (as practiced by Houston Nutt): "maybe if I sign everyone who can play football enough of them will be eligible for me to keep my job." The second: <imperial march> SABAN </imperial march>.
Here's a graph from Brian Fremeau that gives you an indication of just how few kids enroll at Ole Miss relative to the rest of the nation's top 25 recruiters:
Nutt is way down at the bottom with VT, who no one ever talks about; South Carolina, USC(?), and Auburn a bit higher up, then a big band of average followed by places that do not bother with academic issues either because they are morally opposed to skeeze (no one) or don't have to bother (everyone). You'll note LSU and Florida amongst this group. Teams towards the bottom can plausibly argue that their oversigning is less harmful because it consists of signing guys who aren't going to be eligible instead of shoving kids in good standing out the door.
Meanwhile, an SEC partisan is fussin' about Big Ten fans complaining about the competitive advantage provided by oversigning:
Is there some advantage? Sure. SEC teams from 2002 through 2010 averaged 3.42 signees per victory. Big Ten teams average 3.11 signees over the same period. Hardly the night and day difference one would expect.
But while oversigning isn’t the magic bullet Big Ten fans would want you to believe, things like local talent base, tradition and spending serve as tried and true differentiators.
We at MrSEC.com aren’t fans of oversigning. As noted above, we would have no problem if every school went to a hard cap at 25.
But the argument that oversigning is the difference between the SEC and the Big Ten? Well, that doesn’t hold water. And as you can see above, that argument doesn’t even hold water when you make comparisons within the same conference.
Ole Miss throws that entirely out of whack, as do a number of mid-level strivers that are rooting through any large-ish kid in the south to see if any of them can play football.
Meanwhile, I haven't seen many (or any) Big Ten fans say it is the difference between the SEC and the Big Ten. This whole thing is a red herring, anyway: the institutions most publicly against oversigning are Georgia and Florida. Ability to identify skeeze does not stop at the Mason-Dixon line.
It's an obvious advantage that's built on perverse incentives, which is reason enough to get rid of it, differences between conferences be damned. For an SEC fan to rabble rabble about how it's not that big of an advantage on the field misses the point in stereotype-fulfilling fashion.
Terrelle Pryor's lawyer. Is Jackie Chiles:
"It was probably good for Terrelle to meet persons like myself, African-American lawyers, very successful -- quote, unquote," James said. …
"Irrespective of how harsh and idiotic we think some of the NCAA rules are, they are still on the books," James said. "They had slavery for all those years. Those rules are still on the books, and the courts uphold them."
James then ranted about the NCAA and its enforcement process.
"You've got a captured system here in college football. It's mandated, dictated, the student-athletes have no rights. They have no relief."
That is all.
That is not all. Bombs continue to drop on Pryor from all angles. Random NFL GM:
“We spent a lot of time this year going through Cam Newton(notes) and Ryan Mallett’s(notes) personality,” an NFC general manager said. “I haven’t done all my homework on Pryor yet, but my initial impression is that if you line all three of them up and just talked about trust and reliability, Pryor is dead last. Like not-even-out-of-the-starting-gate last.
“And it’s probably only going to get worse.”
Some guy in an otherwise pretty kind Dispatch story:
"People are terrified," Davis said. "They want to really examine the kid as a person, because the stories you hear on the grapevine are not stories that excite you - stories about his leadership, how his teammates respond to him, how he was handled at Ohio State."
And Thayer Evans wrote a story I linked in the sidebar that says an 18 year old male enjoyed having girls send sexy photos to him. I've been on the Terrelle Pryor-emotional-problems bandwagon so long I remember when it was just me and some nuts from Penn State message boards and even I think Evans went a bit too far:
Pryor’s focus consistently led back to one thing: himself.
And while some may foolishly believe Pryor’s statement Tuesday that his decision to forgo his senior year at scandal-ridden Ohio State was out of “the best interests of my teammates,” the truth is that he did it out of selfishness. He did it only to escape being investigated by the NCAA and to try to salvage what’s left of his bleak future.
Well… yeah… but you write for, like, organizations, man.
(Also, Dispatch lol:
The best part about this is the cooler poopers are doing it to themselves.)
Do not read if you are only going to make a tedious argument that shows you don't understand statistics. Bill Connolly, purveyor of Football Outsiders' other college football ranking system and Football Study Hall author, previews Michigan. There are many numbers and a discussion of just how good Michigan's offense was last year (as per usual, advanced stats == fawning) that people who would like to restrict their sample size to four first-half drives against Wisconsin won't like:
If only Michigan had been able to play defense. Despite a slight fade as the season advanced, the Wolverines' offense was incredibly successful in 2010, posting huge point and yardage totals on a series of stellar defenses. Their Adj. Points tell the tale -- against a strong slate of defenses, the Wolverines produced at an incredibly high level for each of the first nine games of the season before a combination of injuries and fatigue (and, possibly, lack of faith in the defense) set in. Michigan still averaged 28.9 Adj. PPG over their final four games, with only two below-average performances against Purdue and Mississippi State.
I'm not sure where Connolly's getting the idea Michigan blitzed on almost every passing down, however. Even if he has numbers for this I kind of doubt them, since I tracked rushers for the Indiana UFR and came up with a ton of 3 and 4 man rushes. If that's charted I wonder if the 3-3-5 threw someone off.
Anyway, Connolly's takeaway is "I hope they don't turn Denard into Brad Smith that one year they tried to make him a pro-style quarterback": since they don't like Nebraska as much as everyone else and their system looks at recruiting rankings that drastically overrate Michigan (attrition) they're hinting the FO Almanac will have Michigan at or near the top of the division.
WTF? I know we're supposed to be taking the high road and all but seriously, if anyone could be expected to jovially bomb Ohio State in the paper it's Mike Hart. Mike Hart:
"I really think Jim Tressel is a great coach," Hart said. "I hate the school, I hate Ohio, can't stand them, but I think he's a great coach. Whatever happened didn't make him a better coach. The players were doing wrong, and (Tressel) broke the rules, which obviously is wrong, but it's not like he was giving them steroids to give them a competitive advantage."
Guh. Multiple other former players say they "genuinely feel" for the other players caught up in this situation who have nothing to do with it, which seems a little much. We're concerned about Ohio State walk-ons and kickers now?
Etc.: Laurinaitis and the Real Girl. Wetzel hears call to argue why OSU's violations aren't as bad as USC's, argues that OSU's violations are worse than USC's. The Wolverine Blog searches for breakout players.
The Clans. This is an awesome post that you must rush to read right now drop everything. Look:
You want to know where you fit. Everyone does. Everyone thinks they're a fierce pragmatist. Seriously, check the comments.
Mike Hart is the master. If Mike Hart is serious about going into coaching after his NFL career is done and eventually returning to Michigan, he's already got the bit about expertly defusing tricky questions down pat. Via a recent radio appearance:
"I think that any Michigan man that would've came in would be hard to be mad at because I think people have been complaining so bad these last three years that – 'Hey, we want a Michigan guy here. We need a Michigan guy. Rich-Rod doesn't respect the traditions.' (For) guys that have been saying those things, Coach Hoke was the perfect hire because he brings back that Michigan legacy."
I eagerly await the day he's cut. No offense, Mr. Hart, it's just… you know.
and the hoke-footed balloonMan whistles far and wee
Needs moar tremendous.
Not much of substance, but I'm not a big fan of the Vick comparison. When Vick got to the NFL he was shepherded in a run-heavy, simple system that wasn't very good. It takes time, and while Denard will progress I think it'll take more than a year. There will be a larger post on this later.
Calling Brandon a liar. Is what LSU's doing:
"He was offered more than 4 million to become the Michigan coach," LSU Board of Supervisors member Stanley Jacobs said Friday. "When he said no, they came back and offered him more. And he said no again."
Miles is apparently set to sign an extension that does not raise his salary. It'll be interesting to see what happens to the buyout. Miles has made a lot of money already but seemed to be lacking in job security early this year when LSU was surviving by the skin of its teeth. He may not have leveraged the Michigan job into more money, but he may have leveraged it into making it very difficult to get rid of him if LSU fails to live up to expectations next year, which is totally going to happen because LSU fans are expecting a national title.
I can see Miles doing this because he's 57—a primary reason he should never have been considered for the job in the first place—and knows this is his last head coaching job at a premiere school. He's probably eyeing retirement in the not too distant future and would like to make sure he chooses the "when."
As for the Michigan side of things, I'm not sure what to believe. It would be stupid for Brandon to waste time playing footsie with Miles when he had no intention of tabling a serious offer, but it would be stupid to table a serious offer. So I guess it doesn't matter. The LSU guys think this game of semantics is silly:
"Well, if Hoke was his first choice, he could've signed him up prior to ever talking to Les or Harbaugh," LSU chancellor Mike Martin said. "Don't you think?"
One way or the other, they're right.
You are heartfelt but uninformed, LSU chancellor. Brandon, meanwhile, set to compounding his arrogant father-knows-best press conference by putting this out later in the day:
"I got inundated with advice," he admits on WDFN-AM 1130. "A lot of people with very good hearts, and who care a lot, and with a lot of passion, came at me with their point of view. And I respect that, and I certainly tried to show them a courteous reply whenever I could because those passionate people are what make Michigan football special.
"However, most of them are very uninformed, and in most cases, they were recommending people they had never met. Or been in the same room with. Or ever had a conversation with. And interviewing a candidate for an important job like this is about sitting down and talking about specific issues, and getting to know them at a completely different level than blogs and statistics and images that, in many cases, are shaped by PR more than reality. [ed: the noise you heard was my irony meter exploding.]
"So, I didn't pay a lot of attention to those recommendations – even though they came from people with good hearts, they just weren't all that helpful."
This falls in line with Brandon's comments during the press conference that "all that glitters is not gold" when it comes to some coaches and that "the hype or the PR doesn't match the real person." To me, that came off really, really poorly. I was pretty sure everyone was in the same boat—I especially liked the bit at the end that signaled the program's return to barely tolerating its fans—but apparently not. The Wolverine Blog says to give credit to Brandon for "putting himself on the line," which he's certainly done by making his decision on explicitly faith-based grounds. I'm not so much with the crediting bit.
One, attempting to paint the internet's problem with Brady Hoke as a matter of "statistics" is… well, the main statistics people have problems with are "record: 47-50" and "age: 52," neither of which is a particularly advanced metric.
Two: does this relate in any way to Brandon's passive-aggressive comments about Jim Harbaugh when Rodriguez was fired? It doesn't seem very leader-y to take shots at the people you interviewed and didn't hire. It implies everyone other than Brady Hoke is not fit to coach Michigan, and attempts to dismiss an awful lot of evidence that suggests Hoke is kind of a desperate hire by saying "you have not sat across the room from this man."
It's not reassuring to envision Brandon's interview process. Braves and Birds blows up this line of reasoning from Brandon real good; suffice it to say that Brady Hoke would have to be vastly worse than expected to sink to the level of Brandon's performance over the last two months. It looks like we'll have tangible evidence of that in two weeks.
EXPLICIT SECTION: Here's the tedious section in which I explain this is not a criticism of Brady Hoke but the athletic director that hired him at a terrible time for not particularly good reasons and told anyone who said words to that effect that they were "uninformed."
I expect Hoke will have enough success at Michigan to stick around a while; when he retires whether he was a good idea is likely to be a matter of heated and interminable debate. I hope I am wrong and am willing to give Hoke the proverbial "chance." I hope that Dave Brandon sets the world record for smug pats on the back when Hoke retires. For the record.
BONUS: Expect to read this disclaimer dozens of times!
This one goes to thirteen because we aren't dead yet. Again, a combination of overall impact with a heavy emphasis on how awesome that moment was—if eligible the Donovan goal against Algeria would be the perfect candidate. #13 is admittedly valedictory.
Michigan State, 2007: Mike Hart scoops up a Mallett fumble and conjures a first down from air.
If Mike Hart did anything other than run for thousands of yards at Michigan it was pick up blitzers on the most famous Michigan plays of the decade. There weren't any Mike Hart runs on this list because the guy always got caught from behind and Michigan's offense was set up to get its big plays from the passing game for the duration of his tenure, but Hart will block on three of the top four. This had to be rectified, but how? There was that eight yard run against Penn State, but that lacks a certain je ne sais quoi. It was in the first half, for one.
How about this rescue instead?
This may be the most Mike Hart play of Mike Hart's career. Ryan Mallett's come in the game for one play after Chad Henne limped off, and Mallett does what he always did, which was fumble. Michigan's about to be facing a second and forever even if they get the ball back when Hart pops out of the pack, ball in hand. He then jukes one Spartan out of his shorts and plows over two more for a game-changing first down. He then heads to the sideline because he's so injured he shouldn't even be in the game.
2003 Illinois: Steve Breaston fields a punt on one sideline and glide-cuts his way all the way across the field, juking six separate Illini before finding a seam and setting sail for the endzone. NOTE: Unfortunately, I can't find this in an embeddable form. It is 15 seconds into this Breaston highlight reel. Picture not relevant.
…was the name message board posters sarcastically bestowed on Steve Breaston as he redshirted and reports of his practice exploits became progressively more ludicrous. "Freshman you've never heard of fails to live up to epic practice hype" is perhaps the most common fall storyline across the country, and Michigan has had more than its fair share of epic busts from Grady Brooks to David Underwood to Kevin Grady. The nickname was a shield against disappointement
When Steve Breaston took the field, though, he somehow managed to exceed the expectations built up over the offseason. This return was the crowning glory; after a half-season full of almosts where he'd get tackled at the five or have something called back on a penalty he didn't need, he waited and waited, making two of those looping back-cuts that would become so familiar and exploding up the sideline.
For the most part teams stopped punting to him after this play, and though he remained amongst the country's most dangerous returners for the duration of his career he never quite recaptured the magic of the first two-thirds of his freshman year. At the moment he did this, though, he could do anything.
11. Ernest Shazor just killed a guy. No, seriously, he's dead
Purdue, 2004: Michigan has a narrow lead in the dying minutes but Purdue wins with a field goal and is driving. Dorien Bryant, then merely a freshman and not yet the Brooks Bollinger memorial eighth year senior, grabs a ball over the middle and starts picking up tons of YAC. Purdue is already in field goal range when Brandon Williams grabs at Bryant's feet, sending him into the air. This is where Ernest Shazor murders him. Bryant coughs up history's most understandable fumble; Leon Hall recovers, ending the game.
I've seen a lot of murderous hits in football, but they're mostly for show. Football's violence is a thrilling, sometimes sad sideshow to the main event; only rarely does the sheer intimidating force of a guy running directly at another guy matter immediately. Not so here. This hit turned a very likely loss into a sure win and ranks as the most CLICK CLICK BOOM play of the decade.
After the hit Shazor evaporated, providing only theoretical resistance against the first terrible appearance of That God Damned Counter Draw in the Michigan State game, about which more later, and entering the NFL draft early only to be passed over entirely. Despite being dead Bryant would go on to be probably Purdue's finest receiver of the decade, though I'll leave that judgment to the Purdue blogs' decentennial glazomania.
This play is lower than I expected because the feelings were more relief and frustration at the defense. A close call against a Purdue team that wasn't at all good (7-5) nearly derailed Michigan's season. Other plays in crappier seasons were fraught with less expectation and more enjoyable, like for instance…
10. The Blip
MGoRetro: We're From Phoenix
Wisconsin, 2008: Donovan Warren breaks up a slant, sending the ball on that parabolic trajectory that screams interception but often ends up hitting the turf. In this instance, Johnny Thompson is in the right place in the right time, catching the ball and picking up a defense's worth of escorts.
Exactly one good thing happened in the entirety of 2008, and this was it. Michigan had just gotten a touchdown thanks to a supremely ill-timed Wisconsin blitz that set Brandon Minor free. One play later Michigan would be in the lead:
Michigan would add another touchdown thanks to a 60-yard Steven Threet read option keeper and hang on for dear life, surviving a two point conversion that tied the game thanks to an illegal formation penalty and stuffing the second attempt.
At the time, the win over a top-ten Wisconsin team seemed like an indicator that even in this season of transition and quarterback incompetence something of Michigan would persist. It seemed super important, and then Toledo blew everything to hell.
9. Chad Henne robot apotheosis
Michigan State, 2007: Chad Henne completes his transformation from inept and injured to flawless robot incapable of understanding pressure by shouting "reprise" and pretending Mario Manningham is Braylon Edwards, completing an improbable Michigan comeback.
I'd somehow managed to get tickets on the 50 yard line in the Michigan student section at Spartan Stadium, and things were tense. Some unlit-cigar-chomping State fan was in my seat and insisted it was his seat to the point where he called the cops over so they could look at my ticket and shrug. He'd eventually switch places with a few Michigan fans outside of the section. At some point early in the second half a woman who looked like she watches a lot of Jenny Jones turned around and screamed something incomprehensible but very angry. She proceeded to do this every five minutes until someone figured out the thing she was saying was "Art Fag U," at which point the guy standing next to me went off about how bigoted that was whenever given an opportunity for the rest of the game, which was every other play.
Meanwhile on the field, Michigan was busy blowing a 14-3 lead in the immediate aftermath of Mark Dantonio's "pride" comments. They gave up three straight touchdowns while managing only one play of significance, a hopeful downfield jump ball that Mario Manningham came up with. With seven minutes left in the fourth quarter, Michigan was cooked.
In my head, this is when Hart went over to Henne and slapped him really hard. Michigan State backed off their coverage and Michigan marched down the field for a touchdown, dodging the Mallett disaster above, got the ball back, drove some more, and then decided to inflict the maximum amount of pain by joining the Braylon Edwards Historical Reenactment Society:
This is why Michigan State bloggers won't ever delve into their version of the Worst Plays of the Decade. As bad as you thought that was, Michigan State's edition would be typed equivalent of the Hurricane Katrina Valenti rant.
8. "I Saw Cover Zero"
MGoRetro: Moxie and MacGyver.
Notre Dame, 2009: leading 24-20 early in the fourth quarter, Michigan faces a 4th and 3 in the no man's land where field goals are dodgy and punts get you put on the Worst Plays of the Decade list. Michigan goes for it, calling a bootleg pass for Forcier. Notre Dame's Stephen Filer cuts off the angle, so Forcier breaks his ankles and cuts up into the wide-open middle of the field.
This could have been one of Forcier's scrambles on the game-winning drive or the touchdown that won the game or Charlie Weis's decision to call a 40-yard fly route during Notre Dame's attempt to kill the game—miss you, big guy xoxo—but for sheer impact it's Forcier rewarding Rich Rodriguez's ability to do math:
Forcier's moxie would see Michigan through another two games of desperate fourth-quarter action before disintegrating in overtime against Michigan State and the fourth quarter against Iowa. In this it's similar to the Thompson interception, where early-season hope gave way to the cruel reality of the situation and the opponent turned out to be something less than they were supposed to be.
7. A Knee On The Ground
Citrus Bowl, 2007 season: with 30 seconds left in the fourth quarter, Chad Henne takes a snap and falls to the ground.
The definition of bittersweet.
Michigan had just finished racking up 91 yards of offense against Ohio State, so of course they come out in a shotgun spread attack and put up 41 points on Florida en route to yet another bowl victory over the SEC. Every downfield strike conjured forth a cauldron of mixed emotions: immediate joy. Fist-shaking at the general bloody-mindedness of the universe. Depression about the missed opportunity represented in Chad Henne's healthy shoulder. An entire extra layer of confusion about Mike DeBord. It was like being 15 again, like being 15 again and stuck in a never-ending afterschool special.
But when Henne kneeled and Marques Slocum, of all people, was the first to get Lloyd Carr up on his shoulders, well… IT IS VERY DUSTY IN HERE RIGHT NOW. WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOUR AIR FILTERS. I have allergies, you know. Severe allergies.
At some point you just have to let that frustration go and accept the program for what it is, accept Carr for who he is, and say thanks. He did hole up and punt with a six point lead against Tim Tebow, but how could he go out any other way?