The nutty Michigan coverage isn't so much about Harbaugh as it is a signal to the Big Ten that Fox wants to party.
America number one. Weird experience last night: watched a sporting event and had the team I wanted to win the game actually, you know, win it. This was the Orange Bowl, where Iowa beat Georgia Tech to give the league four wins over top 15 opponents, two BCS wins, and a winning bowl record. This will reduce the number of offseason Clay Travis columns that erroneously cite the SEC's big pile of money—the Big Ten's pile is essentially equivalent—as the reason they're fielding teams full of Terminators against the rest of college football's Hello Kitty dolls. There are now 26 scheduled instead of 180.
So thanks for that, Iowa. I'm glad that when From The Rumble Seat asked me for my best Iowa-related smack talk I demurred because the only thing I hate about Iowa is the fact that they lose to Iowa State more than they should. I hate Iowa State with a passion unknown to man.
Also, Ricky Stanzi takes up the banner J Leman first gloriously thrust upon the shores of the blogosphere:
America. #1. Big Ten. Love it or leave it. Photoshop wizards: can a brother get a Leman/Stanzi 2012 poster around here?
So… you're wise. Michigan legend and extremely old guy Red Simmons turned 100 a couple days ago, which means he's seen a considerable amount of things in his day. I wonder if he feels like Windle Poons, who was a 133 year-old magician in a couple of Discworld novels*. Poons felt like he had been old for the vast majority of his life, and that seemed unfair. This random biographical tidbit, even moreso than competing against Jesse Owens or helping Joe Louis get in shape, best sums up just how long Simmons has been around:
When his grades slipped, Simmons was given a second chance after track coach Lloyd Olds and dean of men James "Bingo" Brown - who was also the state boxing commissioner - asked the university's president to give Simmons a second chance.
During the meeting, Bingo—the dean of men!—chewed on a stogie and crankily took a phone call about some Italian kid with a bruised brain. In keeping with the traditions of the time, Bingo—man dean!—suggested the kid be sold for his meat.
There's also transcripts for the video-averse. Other Red, you are on notice:
On men’s hockey Coach Red Berenson’s recent birthday: Well, he’s just 70 or so, what the hell is that? [laughs] I always say, ‘Oh, to be 80 again!’
Braylongate II. So, yeah, Braylon Edwards did this on the Sunday Night Football introductions:
Everyone on the planet immediately interpreted this as a shot at Rich Rodriguez, including yrs truly. But Braylon says it isn't so:
"Last night during my pre-taped introduction, as a way of paying tribute to Coach Carr, I indentified myself as being from 'Lloyd Carr's University of Michigan,'" Edwards said. "I had no intention of showing any disrespect to Coach Rich Rodriguez.
"I love the University of Michigan and will always be loyal to its coaching staff past, present and future."
I believe him; when I had my usual segment on WTKA on Monday Ira Weintraub came in and mentioned that Stan Edwards had called the station up wishing to clarify that. A number of other players, including Tom Brady, have made comments far less ambiguous ("ugly") about the current state of the program and have not rushed to make sure people didn't misinterpret their comments.
Not that any of this matters at all. Rodriguez will either win or he won't. That's basically what Dhani Jones said on Jim Rome…
“Up to this point it really hasn’t been that good of a job at all,” Jones said. “But then you have to look at the perspective of how long it takes for a class to change over to be his class. There’s a lot of different things, but as a Michigan man you expect things to be changed in an instant. Sometimes you have to have a little bit more patience.
“Two years, my patience is running a bit thin. So next year it’s going to be really a qualifying or disqualifying year for his ability as a coach to get the program in the right direction. And I don’t think many people will stand for it if he doesn’t do a good job next year.”
That's one version of everyone's take, isn't it? Everyone basically says real improvement, yardage parity-ish, and something like eight wins from a 13 game schedule, give or take one based on context. He'll either do that or he won't. The rest is noise.
I really, really don't care about whether Rich Rodriguez should be fired or not. Short of a bomb from the NCAA, he'll get a shot to turn things around. So all this stuff about factions and statements from former players and everyone's opinion on the program is the verbal equivalent of Badger Badger Badger. It's mildly diverting noise containing zero information that's turned annoying from overexposure.
A light at the end of the ridiculous tunnel. This has sat in a tab for almost a month now but no one else has taken up this incredibly critical issue so here goes: when Michigan switched over to Coke something horrible happened. All the fountains at Yost and Crisler were replaced by little refrigerators with 20-ounce bottles in them that sell for four dollars each*. The list of things that I would do before paying four dollars for a bottle of Diet Coke includes "cut off own toes" and "attempt to survive ten minutes in a cage with Brandon Graham."
I'll happily pay the same amount for a fountain drink, though. As a result I spend most of one intermission at Yost fighting through the crowds to the one place that will sell me one. This makes no sense but approximately 20% of the population is nodding fervently right now, which is distressing for the people who aren't reading this post and think they're having a stroke.
Anyway, the current regime might get thrust to one side in favor of a different corporation with an equally silly name:
…University of Michigan officials are selecting a concessionaire for that facility, plus Michigan Stadium, Crisler Arena and venues for baseball, softball, soccer and track.
Incumbent V/Gladieux Enterprises of Toledo, Ohio, is competing for a long-term contract against Aramark, Sodexo and Boston Culinary Group, which submitted a bid before it announced its merger with Centerplate in November. …
Michigan expects to select a food provider by February, Winters said.
I emailed Bruce Madej if this meant a return of fountain drinks—this is life and death, people—and his reply was vague and noncommittal. I thought I detected a playful wink-wink nudge-nudge we'll-get-it-fixed but that could be wishful thinking on The Issue of Our Time.
BONUS! The main section of that article is about Notre Dame's new hockey rink and how the design is modeled after Yost.
*(I think they've unplugged it now but for the first few games they did this literally feet from the regular old Yost vending machine that offered the same product for $1.50.)
Increase the pain. At The Sporting Blog I make a case that the NCAA should shoot down USC's proposed basketball sanctions in favor of a tourney ban starting two years from now, a removal of transfer penalties for current players, and long-term scholarship reductions. (Mea culpa: the post exaggerates how bad Michigan was in their tourney-ban year.) Delaying penalties like that would be less harsh on players who did nothing wrong and harsher on the adults that lost control of the program, and who doesn't like that idea?
Etc.: GS riffs on the house divided meme in the aftermath of Braylongate II. There is a book that actually offers up "Five Very Good Reasons To Punch A Dolphin In The Mouth" that I assume BOX will immediately buy many copies of. Crisler is going to get some boring-sounding but necessary renovations before a (currently hypothetical but probable) second round of stuff you can actually perceive.