who fails upward better: Whitlock, Kiffin, or Brandon?
One year ago. Not quite today. But close:
— Alejandro Zúñiga (@ByAZuniga) September 30, 2014
The beginning of the end and the beginning of the rebirth. The Daily's Jake Lourim takes the opportunity to look at Jim Hackett's tenure:
Schlissel said student backlash went “beyond having a football team that didn’t achieve a record that met people’s expectations.”
“It was part of the issue, why people were anxious, but it wasn’t the main issue,” he told the Daily in September. “I think, what people felt was, football in particular and perhaps the other sports were becoming more distant from the campus. That they were becoming more of an enterprise and less of an activity. I think our non-athlete students … felt estranged — they felt like customers.
“I think we’ve gone a long way in the months since … to reset the way the Athletic Department views its role on the campus,” he added.
Schlissel is in charge of things for a reason.
Save a garbage bag, bring a poncho. The Maryland game is going to be in the vicinity of tropical storm Joaquin. How close is going to mean the difference between a nice night and seeing Jake Rudock hit in the face with a soaked, flying cat. Monday's storm track was looking pretty ominous for the football game; Tuesday's is less so:
— Shawn L. Martin (@ShawnLMartin) September 29, 2015
The Monday track had the storm right off the coast of DC at 8 PM Saturday. Worth keeping an eye on still. A thunderous downpour would be advantage Maryland in the same way playing checkers instead of chess is advantage Borges:
Heavy rain may be a positive for Maryland, who averages an interception once every 10 pass attempts.
— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) September 29, 2015
So they've got that hypothetically going for them.
Whoops. When Vegas put out a Michigan –11.5 line for this game, I thought "that seems low." Maryland fans glumly asked if that was a first-quarter line. And sure enough, that line was pounded until it was pulled off the board and returned at M –14.5. Even now only a couple of books are offering a line at all, and the "consensus" is M –16.
A move that big suggests that Michigan and Maryland combine to break whatever models are used to set lines—possibly because the amount of deviation from preseason expectations for both overwhelmed them.
Mark Messner tribute. From Wolverine Historian:
Keep that anger inside where it can be used to hit people hard. The prospect of getting trash-talked by BYU is appealing. In my experience Mormons have the ability to turn an innocent word into the vilest thing you've ever heard with their intonation. When you don't swear the swears leak into the rest of your language; it's quite a trick. So when I wonder what might have made Jabrill Peppers mad on Saturday…
For whatever reason, Michigan's redshirt freshman defensive back found himself on the receiving end of an unusual amount of trash talk Saturday early on against BYU.
He did his best to ignore it, and almost engaged once. But, ultimately, his pads prevailed.
And by the time Peppers wrapped up and, literally, tossed 6-foot-5, 225-pound receiver Terenn Houk out of bounds just before halftime, the talking had officially stopped.
"We play between the whistle, so I'll try to hurt you as much as I can between the whistle," Peppers said Monday. "Especially if you're jawing at me. ... (They were saying) things I can't repeat on camera.
"I just let my pads speak for me, that's how I react to that."
…I hope it's "I welcome this upcoming athletic contest" twisted into a pulsating black sphere of hate.
Also: Harbaugh banning trash talk is 1) amazingly hypocritical and 2) another anger factory. I don't want to hear about how this country "used to make things" when Jim Harbaugh is the world's #1 exporter of harsh feelings.
Side note. Who taunts Happy Fun Peppers? That seems just amazingly unwise.
It is your destiny. So my Hackett statue concept is that he's wearing the outfit he's got on in that shot of Harbaugh exiting the plane at Detroit Metro and he's got a microphone in one hand that he has just let go.
Michigan interim athletic director Jim Hackett agreed with Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly on Saturday, speaking on Michigan's pregame radio show, saying he'd like to see the Wolverines and Fighting Irish resume their rivalry.
In fact, he believes it's "destined" to happen.
"Nothing has happened in that regard from my desk," Hackett said. "But the way I think about the Notre Dame thing is, that's a rivalry that should be restored and it's destined to have that happen.
"The challenge is making the schedules work. Because of television, because of the Big Ten having 14 teams. We've got to find holes in the schedule."
I think that would be a good statue.
Surprise! Larry Brown got hit by the NCAA with a suspension and SMU was banned from the postseason this year.
SMU has been hit with a postseason ban for this season & Larry Brown suspended for 10 percent of this season’s games, source told ESPN.
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) September 29, 2015
It turns out that SMU academic support was doing coursework for the players. Sun round, full of hot bits. Michigan travels to SMU on December 8th.
Five are in a dark black. Eighty are in a slightly darker black. PREPARE THYSELVES
ANN ARBOR -- Maryland will be sporting its "Black Ops" alternate uniforms when it hosts No. 22 Michigan on Saturday, according to InsideMDSports' Ahmed Ghafir.
Maryland is 0-2 while dressing in tactical garments, having lost by a combined score of 78-29. The Maryland football team is on the verge of seriously pissing off America's most dangerous special forces troops.
Spartan injuries. No information forthcoming:
Dantonio says there have been no new season-ending injuries. Jack Conklin, Josiah Price, RJ Williamson all left last week's game #spartans
— Kyle Austin (@kylebaustin) September 29, 2015
Conklin is an OR on the most recent depth chart.
Hart profiled. Via the Daily:
“All I knew was, kind of, Michigan,” Hart said. “With Coach English, Lloyd — that’s the only way that we did things. And not bad things. But I needed to open my horizons.”
For Fleck, hiring Hart wasn’t a tough choice. Being Michigan’s all-time leading rusher bought him instant credibility with recruits, and Fleck had already been hearing rave reviews about Hart from prospects.
“(They said), ‘Mike Hart, I love Mike Hart.’ That’s what I continued to hear on the recruiting trail,” Fleck said.
Hurst profiled. Via Brendan Quinn:
But this isn't about who wasn't there and what hasn't been in Maurice Hurst Jr.'s life. This is about what's been there all along.
Nicole Page will board a flight tonight to watch her son play football.
"As long as I can see him a couple of times a month, I'm good," she says. "But it's still tough. I miss him all the time."
Uncharacteristically blunt. Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby has always come off as one of the smartest guys in college football's administrative class and his recent comments on the unionization drive the NRLB essentially punted on are going to prove prophetic, I bet:
“I’m glad the unionization process has cooled for right now,” Bowlsby said. “But the fact is — and it probably will be in the sport of men’s basketball — there will be a day in the future when the popcorn is popped, the TV cameras are there, the fans are in the stands and the team decides they’re not going to play. Mark my words. We will see that in the years ahead. We saw some of it for other reasons in the ’70s, but I really believe that we aren’t finished with the compensation issue or with the employee-vs.-student issue.”
The right combination of ornery dudes and it will happen. If the Fab Five happened today it would be them, for sure.
Bowlsby still comes from a point of view so blinkered that he's startled when a Big 12 athlete tells him that he feels like an employee, but at least he's able to accept that fact and start communicating why that is the case and what that means in the near future. So many NCAA administrators are busy trying to shore up a dike that's about to bust; Bowlsby is trying to whittle a canoe.
Etc.: Is that bad, Bret Bielema? Basketball depth is deep: how will they use it? This is not at all unreasonable. Harbaugh marriage advice is exactly what you'd expect. Texas fans have gone Falling Down on the reffing in the Oklahoma State game. Wheatley to Rose Bowl hall of fame. Top analytics articles. Mud Bowl on the rocks but apparently still a go.
Mike Hart sidled through the narrow wooden door frame of Room 1310. As I sat at the front desk trying not to make any sudden, embarrassing movements, he made a beeline for Mary Stewart's office, like so many others who passed through Event Services at the Michigan Union.
Moments later, I sheepishly tried to hide my glee and the lingering sting from Hart's handshake as Mary introduced us and told him about my blog, playing me up like a big-shot writer instead of some underclassman with a blogspot page read by dozens. Hart left for practice after a quick chat. When he did, Mary put forth a standing offer: if I needed anything from Mike, just ask her.
It was the summer of 2007. I was heading into my sophomore year at Michigan and my second working as a receptionist in the Events Services office. Hart had just made the cover of Sports Illustrated. To me, we lived in two different planes of existence, even if we occupied the same campus. To Mary, we were equals, two more people she'd help in whatever way she could.
My brother's birthday and that of one of my closest friends fall on the same day in November. They're both big Michigan fans and huge fans of Hart, so as the date approached I purchased a couple souvenir footballs from the store in the Union basement; I wrote my brother's and friend's names on a piece of scrap paper and put the package in Mary's office; she promised she'd have Hart inscribe a message to each the next time he dropped by.
At my next shift, Mary called me into her office. She had the footballs with Hart's signature, but she also had a question for me. Mike had received two jumbo-sized posterboard copies of his SI cover, she said, and he didn't know what to do with the second—would I, perhaps, want it? I didn't know what to say. I'm pretty sure I managed to garble through a "yes, please" and several "thank you"s before floating back to my desk. The next week, she handed me the poster, personalized to me from Mike. I smuggled it back to my apartment like a priceless piece of stolen artwork.
To this day, that cover is framed in my home office.
Today, Mary retires after 42 years working at Michigan, and mine was but one of hundreds, if not thousands of lives she affected in her relentlessly positive, caring, supportive way during her time here; if you don't believe me, just read the many testimonials in Rod Beard's profile of Mary at the Detroit News. (Read that regardless, please.) In my three years at the Union, Mary was my unofficial counselor, a role she served for so many students over the years, including a long list of athletes.
When I needed someone to talk to about anything, I headed straight for the extra chair in her office, if it weren't already occupied by one of her many visitors. When my brother, whom she'd never met, needed some extra money one summer, she hooked him up with a job at the Art Fair. My mother heard so much about her that she insisted on coming in to work with me one day to meet her; she still asks about Mary, and vice versa. She took me to a football luncheon so I could meet Rich Rodriguez and have him sign my hat. Even after I was fired from that job for calling in sick too many times, I still dropped by Room 1310, and every time I did I felt like I needed to come back more often.
During my first year or so at the Union, I watched in wonder as football players past and present walked by my desk and sat down at hers. The hat with Rodriguez's signature stayed in her office, collecting a hodgepodge of signatures: Jamar Adams, Ryan Mundy, Zia Combs, Chris Perry.
Before too long, though, my wonder focused less on the players than Mary herself. For a while, I wondered how she managed to do her job of coordinating events in the Union—a day didn't go by without at least a couple visitors—until I realized that many of the connections she made came from going above and beyond the call of duty to help out student groups, especially those for black students. If you passed through Mary's office, she became a part of your life, and there was no better testament to that than her office walls, so filled with pictures and letters from those she'd touched that one felt only the love that bound them all together prevented the walls from collapse.
Simply by coming into contact with Mary, I'm a kinder, more thoughtful person, and I know I'm not alone in feeling that way. What she brought to the University, the way she connected with people with no more common ground than the school they attended, is why I feel such a powerful bond with Michigan and the athletic department in a way I'll never feel about the Lions, Red Wings, Pistons, or Tigers.
When someone asks me about The Michigan Difference, I say Mary Stewart is The Michigan Difference. While Michigan will miss Mary dearly, her legacy will live on; in honor of her four decades of incredible work, two alums have created the Mary Stewart Scholarship Fund. I can't think of a better tribute.
Thank you so much for being you, Mary, and congratulations on your retirement. I promise I'll be in touch soon.
Not in Ohio. Via Bo Dever's twitter account, Michigan's footballs have taken to redundancy:
I kid, I kid. Ohio is our most special state.
No words. I take that back Plaxico Burress is our most special state.
Where are the exit wounds? Are you telling me Burress is going to be a sock magnate and does not have a sock with exit wounds on it? Life! What a waste!
Batten the hatches. So those hockey games against BC and BU that were rumored but unconfirmed? Yeah, they're at Yost. Michigan has dropped the full hockey schedule and it's a doozy. In addition to the home-and-away against all the Big Ten teams, Michigan's signed up for this nonconference schedule:
HOME: BC, BU, Lowell, Michigan Tech (2x), Niagara, Ferris State
AWAY: RIT, UNH(2x), UNO(2x)
NEUTRAL: WMU, Tech or State
If you stopped paying attention to college hockey out of self defense last year, Lowell was a one-seed, BC and UNH twos, Niagara a three. BU was third behind Lowell and BU in HE last year and got squeezed out of the field. UNO was a middling WCHA team, Tech not so good. There are no Bentley-level patsies at all, as both RIT and Niagara have reached the NCAA tourney in recent years.
Combine that with Minnesota/Wisconsin/MSU/OSU/PSU and that is the opposite of football's 2014 schedule. Michigan chose to thin out its fall schedule with the extra two weeks the Big Ten's hockey-spiting playoff system provided, taking a bye the week of the Nebraska game and playing only once the week of the Iowa game.
I'll take it. ESPN's reporting that the Pizza bowl is dead and will be replaced by another event at Ford Field matching a Big Ten team against an ACC team, which everyone is going to hate except M and MSU fans. But I'm one of them so woo.
George Perles isn't phased. I mean, what's better than Detroit in December? Detroit outside in December.
Keep up with the Joneses, plz. One of pleasant surprises from a couple of trips to the SEC has been the presence of both bands at the game even for non-rivalry matchups like (mediocre) Auburn versus LSU. The second time I asked around to see if I had gotten a fluke, and southerners looked at me with horror and pity once they realized Big Ten football usually has one band involved.
Ohio State's going to change that, mostly:
Gordon Gee, Gene Smith and the powers that be at Ohio State got together and determined that the College of Arts and Sciences and athletic department would continue financing the band. But one key change would be the addition of the Development Office of the President. Instead of a miniscule $220,000 operating budget – ninth in the Big Ten – the Buckeyes will have $1 million, which vaults them to first. With it comes more travel.
The band will attend road games at California, Purdue, Illinois and Michigan.
Meanwhile Michigan scrounges for pennies to send the MMB to a game against friggin' Alabama and the Uber Alles subset of the fanbase praises that decision as sly money-grubbing genius instead of a slap in the face to the band and fans. If only this was true:
When Michigan’s band traveled to the Cowboys Classic in Dallas last season for the Wolverines’ game with Alabama, it cost the university an estimated $400,000. The decision to send the band came after heavy criticism when it was announced they would not make the trip. Less than a year later, it appears two of the nation’s premier marching bands have earned a spot near the top of their university’s hierarchy.
The MMB is the same as it ever was. They will travel probably once this year, the free trip to East Lansing. State College, Evanston, Iowa City not so much, let alone UConn.
Pay attention to Mike Hart, plz. Hart on his quick ascension to the top of the depth chart and what Derrick Green can do to replicate that feat:
"The biggest thing I tell my guys is I didn't get all the reps (when I was a freshman), but I made sure I watched every rep," Hart said. "There's freshmen on my team over there talking, and they don't know the playcall or what's going on.
"You can process these things without getting a physical rep. I think that's kind of what helped me transition, is I was only getting a couple reps, but I was really getting 15 reps per period. A new playcall, I was thinking about what I had to do and how I had to do it."
Draft order set, now we can wince at what will happen. SI has Trey Burke going to New Orleans at #6 while the Pistons get the flashing red light that is Shabazz Muhammad. Hardaway does not appear. Glen Rice Jr. does, though, and a year after he got booted from GT's team.
Hated Chad Ford($) has Burke #2 to Orlando, has the Pistons taking walking red flag Anthony Bennett—LOSE GAMES AT THE END OF THE SEASON FOR PANTS SAKE—and puts Hardaway at the tail end of his first round, going to Denver after "one of the best performances of anyone at the combine." He brought "an intensity with him that few players could match"?!?!?
Do we think Mitch McGary and Hardaway pulled a Derrick Rose-SAT-swap here maybe? I do. I think Hardaway convinced Mitch McGary to pretend he was Hardaway at the NBA combine. This is a thing that happened.
UMHoops breaks things down in more detail.
Etc.: Michigan has two Parade All Americans, equalling the rest of the conference combined. MSU has two quarterbacks. Uh oh? Softball ace Sara Driesenga profiled. The News on Patrick Biondi's stellar senior season. Denard Robinson is not exactly a trekkie. Michigan State fans looking for love.
Photoshop is a very dangerous tool if left in the wrong hands, which is why nobody should've ever let me get a copy of CS5. Seth's post this morning contained this nightmare-fuelish mashup of Jordan Kovacs and Ernest Shazor, his version of the Bill Walsh ideal strong safety:
Most people's instinct, upon seeing such a picture, is to turn and run and not stop running until they've reached a technological wilderness that makes it impossible to see said picture ever again. Because of my tenuous grasp on sanity, especially during the offseason, I decided instead to create a few more Frankenplayers. If these three rather horrifying creations ever donned the winged helmet, Michigan's offense would be unstoppable, albeit a bit strange-looking:
Denard Robinson and Tom Brady took wildly divergent paths to quarterback stardom. Denard's running exploits were the stuff of legend, while his passing left something to be desired, especially when he was out of the comfy confines of Rich Rodriguez's spread offense—one perfectly tailored to his strengths. Brady, meanwhile, was never fully appreciated during his time in Ann Arbor despite his pinpoint passing—only in retrospect, after multiple Super Bowls, was he fully acknowledged as an excellent college player. As a runner, though... he was a great pocket passer.
So what do you get when you jam Brady's upper body onto Denard's legs? (While, of course, still harnessing the power of the dreadlocks.) Only the most fearsome dual-threat quarterback in college football history, not to mention one charming franken-guy.
As a college running back, Mike Hart was just about everything you could ask for—productive and durable, coupling great vision and agility with surprising power and an inability to fumble. Despite lacking in top-end speed, Hart famously made the journey from three-star recruit to Michigan's all-time leading rusher.
Sam McGuffie, on the other hand, came in with a world of recruiting hype and plenty of athletic talent—his high school highlight tape featured him jumping over linebackers when he wasn't able to use his top-end speed to simply take the top off of the defense. Unlike Hart, McGuffie had the potential to be unstoppable in the open field. When it came to absorbing punishment, however, McGuffie fell short at Michigan, transferring to Rice after a disappointing and injury-plagued freshman season in 2008.
Stick McGuffie's legs (not pictured) onto Hart, though? Now we've got the production, durability, between-the-tackles running, and open field explosiveness no Michigan running back has possessed since Tyrone Wheatley. Do you want to claim Samichael McHart wouldn't front-flip over Will Gholston in the open field if given the chance? I thought not.
Jeremy Gallon emerged last season as Michigan's best wide receiver, proving especially productive when Devin Gardner took over at quarterback. The former high school option quarterback is both shifty and fast with good hands and explosive leaping ability. Unfortunately, he's also about 5'8", which limits his potential as a downfield threat.
Enter Tacopants, Jason Avant's 11-foot tall imaginary friend whose career high point was Chad Henne's inconsistent sophomore season. Combine him with Gallon, and, well—it's a giant wide receiver, guys, he's going to be pretty good.
In sum, it's barely May and I've already stooped to this for offseason content. I'm so sorry. Carry on.
Just a few more days to get in on the pre-sale of HTTV and the now-happening Hail to Hoops and Hockey and the Victors and Michigan Wooo. (working title). A lot of you held off on the second book until you were sure it was gonna get made—head over there --> and you can change your contribution to get in on the pre-sale. It'll cost about $18.50 total to get it mailed after the kickstarter.
Filed under 'V' for 'Viking'
It's the week after the Spring Game, so the OT rules have been lifted on the board and the diaries have kinda fallen back into meta things and wallpapers (jonvalk's) mostly. Everyone can pick their favorite distraction between hedging on MSC's replacement, dickering around with MGoPoints, or bringing music to Brazilians.
My distraction was this thread put up by OHbornUMfan trying to make an alphabetical Michigan Football rhyming book. I got carried away:
A is for the Andersons, who called each other "bro." Kurt played center in aught-one, and Erick starred for Mo.
B is for the Brackinses, the Vols can have them back. No matter how you spell the name the player is all-MAC.*
C should be for Carter, or Lloyd or Chappuis. But it goes to Carson and Criswell, to make their coach happy.
E we know for Edwards, of the singular jersey num--. The father he, played in Rose Bowls: three, victorious in 1.
F we'll have a falling out if ever you should say, a greater QB ever played than Friedman in his day.
G is for Glenn Edward, a name you'd never know. For though he was our greatest man, we've always called him "Bo."
H we have for Hammersteins behind the scrimmage line. Mark there saving Harbaugh's ass, and Mike there curving spines.
…and here a second honoree I simply must propose: for 'Hello-Heisman' Desmond Howard, he of that famous pose.
…and GAWD YOU GUYS I KNOW we'll never get to I. But cumong: Henne, Hart and Hutchinson, and that Willie Heston guy!
I is Jarrett Irons, from Woodland, Texas came. With he and Steele and Swett and Sword we won with just our names.
J could be a Johnson, or Jones: we've had our share. But here I'll take a Jackson, the one at corner not on air. (Marlin/Keith)
K is for Ron Kramer, and "end" he's called in song. "That guy who can do everything" I guess was just too long.
…and let's salute the Kolesars from Bob of Seven Oaks.* There's Bill the tackle and his son John, who caught that Harbaugh post.†
M is written wide in block and on the seal again. It kicks off Messner, Mandich, Molk, but always Michigan.
N is Harry Newman remember when I said, that we'll have words if Friedman falls; we'll have to start that thread.
O is Obi Ezeh—almost had you there, again! It stands for Bennie Oosterbaan, three-time All-American.
P is Mr. President, also known as Gerald Ford. Before the Constitution, he defended Willis Ward.
Q Shit this one's hard: maybe go with Quinton Washington? Well yeah, if our line stands up this year, he goes right with the rest of them!
R we save for Robinson, don't make me tell you why.
And S is for his massive smile; that's how much we love that guy!
T is for Terrific Tom, the best you'll ever see. Harmon starts with 'H' it's true, but Touchdown's spelled with 'T'.
U is for "unmitigated", forever paired with "gall", since Ufer first applied them to Ohio State that fall.
V is "Van", that's Dutch for "from" or "white guy who plays D." We've had our share but the best from there of course was RVB.
…it also stands for "Viking," comma, "pet of Brady Hoke." Another name for Everitt, a scary looking bloke.
W I leave to you say reverentially. He had a better year than Peyton, evidentially.
X is that one empty seat, for what is writ upon it. Each year we save a bench for Fritz and the wings upon our bonnet.
Y can only be one guy unless you are insane. He built this program and its house; the barn now bears his name.
Z took time to get to, the reason that that is: Zoltan Mesko punted it in two thousand and six.
Notes & Errata:
*I had classes with both brothers—I'm the year between them in age—and they're both incredibly nice guys I enjoy giving crap to. I didn't know Tim Brackens; he's an innocent victim.
** The 1942 line was called the "Seven Oaks Post."
† …in 1985 to beat Ohio State.
Rules are keep the rhyming scheme. I give myself diarist of the week because apparently M-Wolverine is catching up to me.
Your moment of zen:
Good lord, this was brutal. Hockey had a pretty clear cutoff that sat nicely at five, and getting to five in basketball was a stretch. I left Steve Breaston, Leon Hall, Allan Branch, and Zoltan Mesko out here. Jebus.
PROS: Tough-talking no-neck was a four year starter at center perfectly suited for Michigan's zone running game; won the Rimington as a senior. Hilarious interview with absolutely no regard for cliché. High fantangibles rating. At times seemed to be the difference between doom and success in the Michigan ground game. Broke something serious in his foot in the Sugar Bowl, watched Rocko Khoury make some panic snaps on Michigan's first series, and played the rest of the game seriously damaged.
Experienced both coaching changes and was one of the seniors Who Stayed™. A huge factor in the locker room uniting behind Hoke.
CONS: Had some injury problems. Inexplicably had his snap count jumped against MSU and only MSU for like three straight years.
PROS: Four-year contributor and three-year starter who always teetered on the edge of being great. Finally accelerated down the senior-year stretch into a dominant nose tackle. During this period forced a pitch on a Nebraska speed option.
This is about all you need to know. You could not block him. Michigan's insanely good third/fourth and short defense started with him (and ended with Kovacs).
But wait, there's more: with Michigan's already-thin defensive line depth shattered by injury before the Sugar Bowl, Martin and Van Bergen faced off with future first-round pick David Wilson in a game where getting a stop meant you got four snaps before you were back on the field. They singlehandedly kept Michigan in the game despite dying halfway through the second quarter. A performance that should pass into legend the same way Hunwick's North Dakota game will.
Also a member of Those Who Stayed™. Along with Molk and Van Bergen, Martin got the Full Andy Dufresne from his time at Michigan.
CONS: Seemingly endorses "In The Big House." Not as highly regarded by the NFL as a few other guys on this list.
Ryan Van Bergen
PROS: Third and final member of Those Who Stayed™ on the list. Also a four-year contributor and longtime starter, underrated because of his lack of playmaking but still the TFL leader on last year's team. The other guy holding Michigan's defensive line together through sheer force of will in the Sugar Bowl. Virtually impossible to knock down. Screwed up a check in the 2009 Indiana game, leading to an 85-yard touchdown, then singlehandedly annihilated the next IU drive, giving Michigan a chance to pull it out.
CONS: Probably the least-great player on this list. Here as a tribute to Michigan's phoenix act in 2011. Not enticing to NFL. Still… look at that. This is not a list of the best players ever, so…
PROS: The best player on an awful Michigan defense and awful Michigan teams. Did not get the Full Andy Dufresne since his career ended halfway through the sewage tube. Still bore all of this with a Denard-like beatific smile. Just killed people, all the time.
NFL did really like him, drafting him in the top half of the first round.
CONS: Unfortunately his impact was limited because the team around him was terrible.
PROS: Sideline-to-sideline missile was cerebral to the point of near-genius. Always there. Always. Made a habit out of juking(!) offensive linemen in zone schemes, making them think the play was going one way, then exploding into the ballcarrier when this was not the case. Junior year was tremendously underrated thanks to chaos around him; was major lynchpin and possibly the best player on Michigan's monster 2006 defense. Yes, I mean that seriously.
Early and still prime example of the usefulness of UFRing makes him near to my heart; not sure if you care. Validated all praise from Michigan fans by instantly becoming NFL tackling machine upon entry to the league.
Kind of looks like Worf.
CONS: Lacks iconic wow play. Others started longer than he did.
PROS: Emphatically does not have David Harris's problem since he was the target on two of the most iconic plays of the aughts: Oh, Wide Open and Lloyd Carr's Last Second. An electric playmaker the rest of the time, a guy who wasn't the biggest but was the fastest and hardest to keep track of. Had that brilliant slow-up-to-stall-the-DB-then-extend-for-the-TD move down pat. More of a technician than given credit for. Whenever I think of Manningham, I think of that Citrus Bowl when DeBord said "screw it, spread time" and Holly Rowe reporting that Florida deathbacker Brandon Spikes was chasing Manningham all over the field on his incessant end-arounds, saying "damn, boy, you good."
Did the worm after the 2007 Penn State win.
CONS: Got suspended for the weed, something that took some doing in the mid-aughts. Widely regarded as kind of maybe not the nicest guy to ever make it through the program.
PROS: Amongst the nicest guys to ever make it through the program. Skillet-sized hands are made of industrial-strength adhesive. An elite-level possession receiver who was everyone's safety blanket. Targeted all the time and made all the catches. Probably the most common ex-player to be referenced in "You May Remember Me From Such Players As," to the point where I actively try to avoid it now.
That about sums it up.
CONS: Did drop that one pass once, you know, that one. Never a huge deep threat.
PROS: Four year starter with great backstory and running style burned into your brain. No speed at all but capable of juking in a phone booth and grinding out two, three, four yards after contact. Got a standing ovation for a particular eight yard run against Penn State once. Came out of a tiny school in upstate New York with outlandish rushing stats and a youtube clip in which he jukes every player on the opposing team twice.
Never, ever fumbled except twice inside the five against Florida in his last game. Pretty much the only thing standing between Michigan and a yards per carry under three during his time at Michigan.
CONS: Injury prone. Started this incredibly annoying "little brother" business. Spice added by mouth often backfired; went 0-fer against OSU.
PROS: Kills people. Brandon Graham was Woodley 2.0, a devastating defensive end who could not be blocked one-on-one. Has enormous Wolverine tattoo on arm. Finished off the Oh Wide Open game with the Yakety-sax-capping scoop and score. Fighting with David Harris and Allan Branch for title of best player on 2006 defense.
CONS: OSU 0-fer does not quite apply but really kind of does since he did not contribute much in 2003. That's about it. Kind of think maybe Graham was better since he had way less help and still produced.
PROS: Is he a man or a block-long wall? Only his mother knows, and these days she's not even sure. Four-year starter who rolled off the NFL left tackle prototype line and let exactly zero guys not roid-raging get to the quarterback when he was on the field. The first overall pick his draft year, all-American everywhere, etc, etc, etc, you get the idea.
CONS: Fantangibles low. Another Michigan great who had to suffer through the indignity of 0-fer OSU. Hurt most of the 2005 season. Not sure what I'd write about him.