The nutty Michigan coverage isn't so much about Harbaugh as it is a signal to the Big Ten that Fox wants to party.
rich rodriguez: bad at tallking
Hard edge. Via Martell Webb's twitter, here's Webb and Devin Gardner in their CB4 phase:
Needs moar jericurl but pretty good otherwise.
Pay your rent, eh? So Kenny Demens and Boubacar Cissoko have gotten sued for not paying rent. Like, any rent:
Hidden Valley Club Apartments is suing Demens and Cissoko for $9,925, plus interest and attorney fees. The suit, filed in 15th District Court, alleges Demens and Cissoko signed a lease, agreeing to pay $850 each month for an apartment from May 1, 2009, through May 31, 2010. The apartment complex “fully performed all of its obligations under the lease,” the suit claims, but Demens and Cissoko “failed to pay the agreed upon rent.”
Demens was served with the suit Sept. 27, court papers filed this month say. He could not be reached for comment Thursday.
…and Demens being locked on the bench for the first six games gets a lot less mysterious. They're suing for 11.5 of 13 months worth of rent, so they probably paid a security deposit and then never wrote another check. Maybe the details will again point to Boubacar Cissoko and his sad disintegration, but it's probably hard to put your faith in a guy who's involved in a suit like that.
Hockey time. It's a bye weekend for football but Michigan has a key nonconference series against UNO coming up. UNO recently left the conference for the WCHA and so far they're the top-scoring team in the country; that's a little worrying after Michigan gave up more than 40 shots and required what sounded like a stand-on-your head performance from Shawn Hunwick to tie UNH 3-3. UNO is #10 in the most recent polls and pounded Michigan last year in the series that finally killed Michigan's flickering at-large hopes.
The games figure to be choppy. Via Yost Built:
They're also 10th in the country in PIMs at 20.5 per night. That's still far behind Michigan's national lead at 26.2 minutes a night. You know the CCHA officials are salivating. Don't expect much flow to these games.
Hopefully that's an aberration born of small sample size for Michigan. Even if it is, special teams will be key.
Old school. I link a lot of MVictors stuff on the sidebar but every once in a while it's good to put it on the front page in case anyone's new and hasn't been brought up to speed on the awesome historical content provided by Mr. Dooley. A post earlier this week on the 1910 season is extensive and awesome, as you can see at right.
"They are the men who stayed indoors during last year's underclass war." "Outrages of a further and still more vicious character were being planned and executed." This is why Mad Men is such a cultural touchstone. I miss newspapers that wrote like that and people who talked like that, or newspapers that massaged quotes so it seemed like they did. Same difference.
Michigan punched Ohio State to death 33-6, by the way, and slid by Michigan State 6-3 in a game the Daily headlined like so: "VARSITY BESTS FARMERS IN HARD-FOUGHT BATTLE." The Notre Dame game was cancelled because of a dispute over ineligible players, causing the Daily to sub-hed their article "Cancellation of today's game probably ends relations with Catholics." Sure, polio and whatever, I don't care: 1910 was awesome. Michigan even won the national title.
Ban Salsua Secundus. If you were doing that thing where you knew you'd seen that Oregon team before but couldn't quite put your finger on it, I can help you out: they are Sardaukar—relentlessly drilled, elaborately and garishly costumed, and completely without mercy.
Old stuff you've probably already seen. Wojo interview with Rich Rodriguez is frank:
Q: But most of the criticism is simply based on your won-loss record (13-18).
A: No question. That's the reality of it. OK, but why are the wins and losses there?
Q: Tell me, what are people missing?
A: In football, it's not as easy as saying, 'OK, you go to a place like Michigan that has so much winning tradition, you can screw up and win eight or nine, right?' Maybe that's not the case.
I think every program nowadays, it's not as easy to win. It doesn't automatically happen. I'm not making excuses, I'm just telling the truth. We haven't been good enough, but we're getting closer, and we'll get there. But it's gonna take longer than anybody wants, especially us.
So was Rodriguez's joke about Vince Lombardi not having a magic wand that he can come in and wave to make Avery, Talbott, and Cullen Christian juniors, but that didn't prevent Drew Sharp from calling Rodriguez Bobby Williams or this guy with a wicked leather jacket from writing something that I can link because it's not (quite) stupid enough to kill the elderly:
In the midst of a two-game losing streak where your team is giving up an average of 36 points, and with your defense ranked in the bottom 20 of college football, the best thing to do is joke about it.
Not so subtly hidden in all the knee-slappers Rodriguez delivered Monday was him taking zero responsibility for his defense's short-comings.
Behind closed doors, he can talk about his lack of contributions to the defense all he wants. To the media and Wolverine fans, Rich Rod has to be accountable for everything his team does.
Media people of earth: words said in press conferences do not matter. Rodriguez is fully aware that he needs to win games to keep his job. "Taking zero responsibility" is just answering your inane questions for the tenth time in a half hour with something other than Senator Tressel's ray of infinite boredom. This guy with a wicked leather jacket later fulminates that "this is not the time for levity." John McKay disagrees, and everyone's better off for it. Rodriguez should have gone with this after the 605th question about Denard's durability:
Following a game in 1967 in which O.J. Simpson carried the ball over 30 times, Mckay was asked "Why are you giving the ball to Simpson so often?" McKay replied, "Why not? it's not heavy, and he doesn't belong to a union."
But no. Press Conference is Serious Business.
This is what happens when you don't actually have anything useful to say. It's also why newspaper commentary is down to cheap outrage and the Washington Post making a content-sharing deal with Bleacher Report makes sense. Who can tell the difference? One RABBLE is like any other once it passes through an editor that turns it into English.
Kicking argh. I thought this was going to be a Rivals article from The Wolverine, but it turns out to be an incredibly well-timed article from the AP about kickers and how college kids are basically on their own:
Many coaches admit they don’t have any expertise in kicking and say they can’t devote an assistant coach solely to teaching it. The NCAA limits schools to one head coach, nine assistant coaches and two graduate assistants, and most programs choose to focus their staffs on positions from quarterback to defensive tackle to fullback.
That means the kickers end up coaching themselves to a large degree.
“A lot of them have got to be masters of their own trade, and that’s a discipline part of being a kicker at this level,” said Eric Russell, the Tennessee special teams coach who splits time between the kicking game and supervising tight ends.
“You’ve got to be able to correct yourself,” he said. “You don’t get a lot of one-on-one attention, and you’ve got to be able to adjust on a dime.”
Michigan's stellar 2 for 8 is mentioned. I'm not sure what Rodriguez can do about the current situation except spend another scholarship on a kicker this February and hope. That would have Michigan in the unusual situation of having two guys on scholarship at the same time, but is there any other freshman who can come in and radically improve his position from day one? Other than Dee Hart?
Etc.: "Superdenardman and Young Tatewalker." OSU blogs break down what went wrong against Wisconsin, and also what went wrong against Wisconsin. General replicability of these things by Michigan: minimal. Holdin' the Rope takes a breath and looks around.
Hello: Dave Brandon. Another media flurry with Dave Brandon's official ascension to the top job in the Michigan athletic department. Here's a jerko on Fox business acting all jerky:
I feel like that fat X-Wing pilot… "stay on messsage. Stay on message. Roghbaobahraraha"
Anyway, there were a ton of articles mostly rehashing what we already know about Brandon or reflecting on Bill Martin's tenure. There are a few relevant new quotes. The first is undoubtedly a response to a "what does Rodriguez have to do to not get fired?" question:
“Much like your boss, there’s a lot of different things you look at,” he told AnnArbor.com last month. “Certainly you need to see progress and some of that’s measured by wins and losses, but it’s also measured a lot of other ways. And when I’m in a position where I can evaluate as closely as I need to and I want to, all those metrics and all those measures will be clear between the coach and me.”
Brandon backed his coach then and on Monday reiterated his support for Rodriguez.
"He's our coach for this season," Brandon said. "There's nothing within the framework of the NCAA allegations that led me to believe that it should change his status as our coach."
Some people are making a deal out of Brandon explicitly stating "this season," interpreting it as an implicit threat. FWIW, I interpreted it as a way to avoid questions about Rodriguez getting fired in August or October or whatever. No one can scurry off to write an article about Rodriguez getting canned once Michigan goes in front of the committee.
Birkett asked some excellent questions that got stuck in a sidebar-type object. Advertising in Michigan Stadium? Very likely not:
"When I was a regent and this subject came up, we went out and did pretty qualified, professional, third-party research on the views of our fans, our season-ticket holders, the people who are the most important to us in terms of paying customers of the game-day experience at Michigan Stadium. And the research I saw at that time caused me to conclude that the thing that was the most objectionable, the thing that turned off the fan the most, was the idea that they would come to a football game and they would be blasted with advertising. ... I think it was Sam Walton who said if you don’t know what to do ask your customer. I asked my customers a lot before I make these kinds of decisions, and at least the last time I looked at the data our customers would tell us that they really didn’t want to go there and so I think we should be very, very careful and sensitive to that."
Unfortunately, Brandon is an anti-playoff luddite, but no one's perfect.
The city that time forgot. It's Toledo! I have no idea what the header is supposed to mean. Fearless Leader headed across the border into Toledo to speak at the National Football Foundation dinner, and he brought his zingers. Don't take my word for it, listen to the Blade's Ryan Autullo:
“It's good to be invited anywhere,” Rodriguez said, in the first of several zingers that drew laughter from the crowd.
Zingers. You see, Rudy? Part of that article is an interview with Rodriguez that hints at some maturity issues with Tate Forcier last year:
"I've told Tate as you get older I'm going to expect more out of you. I really think he's done a great job in the weight room the last six or seven weeks, but that's not an issue for him as far as commitment to football. It's everything that's encompasses being a UM athlete. Tate went through some freshmen trials with that and now it's time for him to grow up and go.”
"With that?" I could just be imagining things but that seems to be an indication that Forcier was somewhat less than dedicated at points last year. Supporting evidence: the Facebook explosion that led to the gut-churning week of transfer rumors. There's not a whole lot else that's new, but this is… odd to contemplate:
How would you describe your relationship with Ohio State coach Jim Tressel?
“We've got a great relationship. We got to know each other a few years back at various functions. Apparel companies will send you on a little week's vacation — the coaches and their spouses — so we got to know each other there."
Also, Orson responds to a Rodriguez quote on the media coverage of his program. First, Rodriguez being diplomatic:
The media coverage of your program has been tough. In your opinion, has it been fair?
"That's an interesting question. I've never really thought about it much. You understand it's part of the job. A lot of people say there's so much more media coverage [at UM] but really, at West Virginia, we had quite a bit of media coverage, and good media coverage.
Orson then brings down the thunder:
"Did RichRod just not grant us superiority over the West Virginia media?" Ann Arbor Media Scrutiny Force, assemble and strike for the Fourth Estate! <---most inflated sense of self-importance in any small media market ever and that includes Alabama football media oh yeah bitch you read that right. Rich Rodriguez has been appropriating office supplies at a breakneck, reckless pace AND WE HAVE FILM!
Final aerial. I really think these tempo-free aerials should be centered on the league average instead of 1.00, because this sort of looks like Michigan is totally average at everything:
They're not. Remarkably, Michigan's actually much better on defense than offense in the Kenpom numbers and I assume that a conference-only Kenpom would be even better since Michigan's early attempts to roll out the 1-3-1 were totally disastrous and the thing was scrapped entirely by the time conference play rolled around. The offense did not undergo any similar improvement, though Minnesota fans will be forgiven for thinking otherwise. I bet a dollar Michigan's two inexplicable outbursts against the Gophers are a major reason they're underwater defensively, and headed for the NIT despite checking in at a strong-for-the-bubble 35 in the Kenpom rankings. I'd feel bad for them except that "eeeeeh Gophers" cheer is irritating.
The next 2010, for now. Yost Built summarizes some recent recruiting news. The biggest item is news that spectacularly-named Ontario forward Matia Marcantuoni will definitely end up at Michigan if he heads to college. Marcantuoni is a potential #1 OHL draft pick and would team with Boo Nieves to make Michigan' early 2012 recruting class a spectacular one both on the ice and the back of the jersey. That goes double since Michigan is apparently hot after goalie Dalton Izyk in the same class. Izyk is a Nieves teammate and was the #1 goalie at the Select 15 camp this fall.
In re: Izyk and a couple other goalie names for down the road, Yost Built asks this question:
Izyk is an early-94 as well. Assuming he'd be scheduled to come in in 2012, that brings up an interesting issue: Would you go for a goalie for 2010, have him compete with Hogan as a freshman, start as a sophomore, and then compete with your youngster as a junior and senior, or would you roll with what we've got again next year and hope to get the kid to accelerate and come in as the starter in 2011?
That answer seems totally obvious to me: get a goalie this year and leave Hypothetical 2012 Goalie in the class of 2012. Goalies are erratic, tough to predict, and develop slowly. The last guy Michigan brought in early was Billy Sauer, who was flat bad his first two years (.898 and .896) before dropping a damn good junior year (.924) that ended with Nickelback and Creed in the Frozen Four. Hogan won the job as a sophomore, but even so Sauer's save percentage in 13 games as a senior was 0.921. Hogan had a .914.
Instead of going the Sauer route again, I'd much rather bring in a guy right now and have two viable goalies on the roster next year in case Hogan does not rebound from his poor play, have a sophomore in 2011, and then real competition past that. There are two good to excellent prospects out there in Jeff Teglia, the save percentage leader in the USHL, and probable mid-round NHL draft pick Joel Vienneau of the OPJHL. Neither is Jack Campbell but both have better pedigrees than Hogan, who had a save percentage of .889 on a good USHL team (they were 27-13-3 with Hogan in net and only gave up 25 shots per game; Teglia's team gives up 29) and did not get drafted. If Michigan can get either one of them, they definitely should.
Oy. Really? We divert you from your regularly-scheduled Free Press bashing for this from the News's Terry Foster:
Wolverine fans were thrilled that Beilein finally got Michigan into the tournament and acted like that was some major accomplishment. It isn't. If you are in the Big Ten you should have at least a 50 percent chance of making the tournament.
Meanwhile Western Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Central Michigan, Oakland University and of course Michigan State have all played in NCAA tournament games since Michigan last did.
That's true for one of those schools, actually, and is something you mentioned in the previous paragraph. But thanks for playing. BONUS:
Sims will probably leave after this season and it will be interested to see what a frustrated Harris does.
What say you, page 25 of a Google image search for "fail"?
There's tossed off nonsense and there's a total ignorance of many things, including Michigan basketball and time.
(HT: Maize n Brew.)
So your favorite former collegiate head coach, the guy in charge of your favorite team, one of college football's top coaches, and a guy with a meathead haircut all found themselves on the receiving end of various kinds of unfair, incorrect, or nasty-but-deserved media attention. A confusing allegorical play in four mostly unrelated acts:
It's Just A Flesh Wound
Last week on The Sporting Blog I called Bob-Stoops-to-Notre-Dame an "unkillable zombie rumor" after Stoops had to make four progressively more emphatic announcements that he wasn't going to make an unprecedented leap from a program he built into a national power to one that's been no more successful than Purdue over the last 15 years.
It has now graduated to Black Knight status, though:
Saturday's edition of the Chicago Sun Times reported that multiple sources told the newspaper on Friday that "Stoops hasn't said 'no' to Notre Dame."
This was an interesting take on the words "I will be at Oklahoma. Any reporting to the contrary is completely unfounded." Technically, the words "wild elephants could not drag me to South Bend" are not in that statement. That, however, doesn't make it any less definitive. "I will be at Oklahoma." End of story. Unless you're the Sun-Times and you're bound and determined to keep after the dumb rumor you're almost singlehandedly responsible for perpetrating in the mainstream media.
Bob Stoops on saying no to Notre Dame:
"For the third, and hopefully final time, let me again state that I will continue to be the coach at Oklahoma. I appreciate the history and tradition of Notre Dame. I also appreciate the history and tradition of Oklahoma, and I have been part of building that tradition here.
"I work for a wonderful president (David Boren) and athletic director (Joe Castiglione), who have created an incredible work environment at OU. There haven't been any plans for a meeting or negotiations with Notre Dame and there will not be. Any reporting to that fact is completely erroneous. I will not be the next coach at Notre Dame."
This is how plains Indians must have felt after the United States broke yet another treaty with them, right?
Checking Is For Commies
Fake email that started minor Bielema-to-ND meme that would probably still be going on if ND sites hadn't posted the reveal.
All right, lolmsm and all that. But Stoops isn't the only guy batting away meritless rumors about his involvement with Notre Dame:
UW athletic director Barry Alvarez, who's with the team in Hawaii, said Friday morning that he has no knowledge of any interest on Notre Dame's part in speaking with Bielema.
"I haven't heard anything," Alvarez said when reached on his cell phone. "He hasn't said anything to me, and nobody's called me for permission."
Bret Bielema? No offense to a guy coming off a bounce-back year any Michigan fan would kill to have, but NDNation would have a meetup just to kill and eat each other if Bielema became head coach there. And, lo, the faintly plausible rumor was created whole cloth by one guy emailing a disreputable web site that just posts whatever crap someone sends in:
2. Friend composes a very short, but specific email: I used to work in the athletic department at Notre Dame (a lie), and I have heard that Jack Swarbrick is interested in Bret Bielema, the head coach at the University of Wisconsin. This was at 6:56pm last evening. The email is sent from a free gmail account. There is no other email sent from friend, no attempt to "sell" the rumor beyond the initial communication, and nothing else to back up his credibility.
3. Meanwhile, friend has another buddy randomly tweet a few times about the Bielema rumors, and goes to bed.
4. FootballCoachScoop does not reply to the email. FootballCoachScoop does not ask any followup questions. FootballCoachScoop, to friend's knowledge, makes no attempt to verify emailer's bona fides in any way.
5. The next morning, FootballCoachScoop runs the rumor almost verbatim. Friend chuckles and shares the development with a few friends.
This expands, getting picked up by "the Examiner," which is like a Bleacher Report that people haven't figured out is almost always garbage yet, then hit rumor first, accuracy later College Football Talk—an offshoot of Mike Florio's Pro Football Talk—and poor Rittenberg's Big Ten blog before the hoax was widely known. (BGS had actually already posted it.)
Your blogger has a couple emails in his inbox that might be innocent but look pretty hoax-y declaring that Rich Rodriguez will be fired the Monday after the Ohio State game, by the way.
This Direct Quote Is Out Of Context
Meanwhile, Charlie Weis ceased speaking to the media in the final days of his regime. I get this. If I was a head coach who knew his head would be on a platter in a matter of weeks, I wouldn't waste my time with a bunch of tedious questions about what went wrong. I might even call a special press event type substance with five hand-picked media members, and I might even go all FootballCoachScoop on tales of Pete Carroll's mysterious grad student affair:
Q: Is it frustrating to Pete Carroll, for example, portrayed in one way...
CW: Let me ask you this question: You guys know about things that go on in different places. Was I living with a grad student in Malibu, or was I living with my wife in my house? You could bet that if I were living with a grad student here in South Bend, it would be national news. He's doing it in Malibu and it's not national news. What's the difference? I don't understand. Why is it okay for one guy to do things like that, but for for me, I'm scrutinized when I swear. I'm sorry for swearing; absolve my sins.
At this point I would diverge, though, since attempting to take something off the internet is pointless and once you say stuff it's impossible, and a little dishonest, to try to take it back. Weis said it and he meant it and if it was supposed to be off the record that's only 5% less of a nasty move. He's then put this thing in the heads of five people off the record and set Pete Carroll's Grad Student on the same path as Rich Rodriguez's Impregnated Cheerleader, a zombie meme that lives in dark corners and emerges every time School X has a problem with Coach Y.
This One Really Is Out Of Context
I didn't mention the "Rich Rodriguez doesn't care about black people" moment from the bust in anticipation that a fuller picture of the comments would come out. WTKA's Ira Weintraub mentioned via email that Rodriguez's faux pas was a reference to an earlier speech by a regent. And lo, Dave Birkett provides:
Regent White talked earlier about, uh, it’s really kind of ironic that the New Orleans Saints overcome the hurricane a few years back. And I used to live in New Orleans, coached there for a couple years (at Tulane), and I know how devastated that city (was) and how they overcome and rebuilt their stadium, rebuilt their program from the ground up. And we’ve had a few hurricanes of our own. And we had a big hurricane in August and it kind of hit us like a ton of bricks. But you had 120 young men and a bunch of people on staff say this is not going to tear our program apart. In fact, it’ll do just the opposite, bring us together.
So, yeah, I wish Michigan had a coach that didn't misuse the world "ironic" and am pretty sure at some point in his life Rich Rodriguez has used the word "literal" to emphasize a literally untrue assertion. But Rodriguez is making a nod at one of the regents' Michael Scott impersonation and then riffing on it extemporaneously in a fashion that probably seemed unwise to him as the words were coming out of his mouth. (This has happened to me, plenty.) No one bothered to mention it except one of the two freakin' guys who wrote the piece Rodriguez is referring to, and that guy removed important context that would have taken one sentence to provide. Too good to clarify, I guess.
As for how much this matters, TSB colleague Andy Hutchins provides the right comparison:
These comments may actually match Nick Saban's penchant for grabbing Pearl Harbor and September 11th as metaphors for tragedy, what with Rodriguez talking about the human cost of Katrina purely in the prism of football, but it's less outrageous than it is ineloquent.
What difference does it make? It makes none.
I don't really have one. I just had all this media stuff in my open tabs.
I do think there's some common theme here about partial information being evil: Stoops rumors are utterly baseless but go out of control so much that Stoops has to issue five separate denials of varying strengths, Bielema is momentarily implicated in the ND coaching search and only the hoax reveal keeps him from being hounded further, Weis throws a nasty rumor into the pool that will stick with Carroll forever, and Rodriguez's comments are removed from their context by a guy with a stake in public opinion of Rodriguez. In the one instance where the comments are a full transcript of the words spoken, the speaker's problem is that his comments were not elided from the record and leaked as a whisper campaign.
I guess the thrust is this: I don't believe Weis's retraction for a second because his response to it was to have the offending passage excised from the Rivals transcript instead of demanding that the context be irrefutably provided by one of the guys who was taping the conversation. The evidence is there. Release it. Similarly, Rodriguez's inelegant statement was made to look worse by the omission of information. The Sun-Times failed to clarify just why they thought Bob Stoops was going to be Notre Dame's next head coach at any point; by now they owe the public a detailed explanation of why they kept beating the drum long after any sane organization would have stopped. And Coach Scoop Unsubstantiated Football Site just posts unconfirmed stuff without any attempt to confirm or clarify the origins of the rumors, and doesn't even respond when hoaxed.
Because they're just "rumors," right? You can term whatever you want a rumor and be free from judgment when that rumor fails to come true.
My advice to internet publishers is be as honest and transparent as possible, and people will give you the benefit of the doubt as long as you show good judgment over the long haul. This philosophy has been in place at MGoBlog for as long as it's been around. The first bit of news the site ever originated was a report that Morgan Trent had broken his hand and would miss the Minnesota game in 2006, which Rivals snarkily dismissed in premium content, causing me to post a retraction. When several people reiterated that no, seriously, Morgan Trent's hand was broken, I posted the chain of events and provided enough information for readers to judge for themselves with some guidance—I believe me. Morgan Trent's hand was indeed broken, and I've tried to follow that template ever since. That managed to get this site through the coaching search and Sam McGuffie's Cuban Transfer Crisis stronger. I don't think you can say that about the Sun-Times above.
My advice to consumers of information on the internet is to look for this sort of transparency in the things you trust, and look dimly on anyone who would misrepresent information, intentionally or not, and refuse to apologize or clarify when called on it.