Mike Lantry, 1972
students never show up
For a brief period a few years ago, there was some weirdo in the student section who would head up to the concessions at halftime, drop fifty bucks on hot dogs, return to his seat, wave his arms about, and chuck foil-clad meat missiles at the most enthusiastic folks around him. He was a hero. A couple games into this era, the students started a rhythmic chant for him.
"HOT. DOG. GUY."
"HOT. DOG. GUY."
This was fun! It was ours.
Michigan kicked him out of three consecutive games, until he stopped. Or stopped coming.
It's time for another internet-wide fret about the kids and how they don't like the live football anymore, this one spawned by a Darren Rovell article. (I know, I know. This article is good and does not expose you to Rovell's personality.) In said article, there's the usual platter of disturbing stats…
Arizona sold 10,376 student season tickets this year. But 47.6 percent of those students, for an average game, didn't even show up.
This year, the University of Michigan drew the most fans of any school for the 16th year in a row. But 26 percent of students who paid for their tickets didn't show up at an average home game this season. That's an increase from 25 percent last year and 21 percent in 2011.
"We have to solve this because we are talking about the season ticket-holders of tomorrow," said Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione. "But interests and attitudes are changing so rapidly it's not easy to quickly identify what we need to do."
…and the hope that having wifi will fix everything, which it won't. (But don't let that stop you.)
While this is a nationwide problem, Rovell's article touches on Michigan specifically in a couple spots. He talks to a reasonable-sounding Michigan senior:
"I've kind of accepted that I'm not getting reception in and around Michigan Stadium," [Adam] Stillman said. "The problem is in all the other areas. There's nothing to do while I'm waiting on line for an hour to get into the stadium, and there's little added value from being in the stands watching the game."
I was pro-general admission when it was announced, but if its goal was to get more students to the game on time, it is a failed policy. The slight increase in no-shows is worse than it looks—possibly much worse. 2012's home schedule had one attraction, Michigan State. The other games were against Air Force, UMass, Illinois, Northwestern, and a 4-8 Iowa. 2013 had a night game against Notre Dame, Nebraska, and Ohio State. The only games after the season took a turn for the grim in East Lansing were those Nebraska and OSU games. What is the no-show rate going to be next year? I'd be shocked if Michigan doesn't crack 30%.
Is there anything that can be done about this? I mean, you're just not going to reach the people I had to deal about ten years ago who would wander in during the second quarter smelling like an overturned truck of Jack Daniels. Those folks seem to be proliferating, and the only thing you can do is figure out ways to punish them and drive them away.
The university's attempts to rein in bad actors with first the validation program and then general admission have made it difficult to flip student tickets and then made them unattractive to non-students. Tickets remain cheap enough that a large chunk of the students don't care about wasting that money. The result is large pockets of empty seats.
It's time to end the war on crappy student fans
Yes, some of these 18-year-olds are intolerable. But fighting them doesn't do anything for you. The main thing it does is make things worse for the 75% who do show up. Michigan has continually raised the bar on the students at the same time their interest level is dropping. The results are, in retrospect, predictable.
The alternative is to offer carrots instead of sticks. Michigan tried that with the "HAIL" program, which was a failure in year one, totally revamped in year two, and is probably two or three years away from being quietly assassinated in an alley. This is because it offers you a t-shirt; it was always an attempt to give the appearance of a carrot without spending any money.
The right move is to be good to your fans. Michigan has gotten continually worse. Blasting an ad—and yes, it is an ad—for renting out the stadium or exhorting people to follow you on twitter is unpleasant. Having to scream at the person next to you to be heard is the kind of thing that makes you walk out of a restaurant. Michigan does that at every available opportunity. Ever-increasing prices, hour-long waits to get into the stadium, ushers who kick you out for throwing marshmallows… all of these things are a drag on your future revenue base.
It's time to be less focused on the next quarter's budget and more focused on building an environment that will induct the next generation into your cult.
Instead, the athletic department is more concerned with policing behavior that they cannot change. The current generation of suits spent their days at Michigan buying tickets for their kegs and throwing toilet paper willy-nilly. These days, a weirdo who buys hot dogs at halftime and tosses them around the section gets kicked out.
Football is supposed to be fun, and it's not really that much fun these days. The athletic department took the initiative to stomp on every student tradition they found 1% threatening. Now the students have taken the initiative away from the athletic department by not caring anymore. They win.
I'm not sure trying to make Michigan athletics the most awesome place in the country to see a game is going to work, but it's clear that something has to change if this slide is going to be arrested. Being mean didn't work. Try being nice. Meaningfully.
Brace yourself. LSUFreek spent yesterday swapping rival coaches' hair. Paul Chryst/Dana Holgorsen:
Aaand our local rivals:
As Orson says, that makes Hoke look like a senator straight out of O Brother Where Art Thou.
Point Gene Smith. OSU's AD on the possibility of playing The Game at night.
"Are you crazy? What's wrong with you? It'll be noon. I have to be open to 3:30, but noon is my favorite time for that one."
Grudging respect meter: incremented.
Oh come on man. I'm gonna need some more detail on this($), Wyatt Shallman, before I agree this is a thing that actually happened:
In elementary school, he once caught a 10-pound bass using nothing more than a Spiderman fishing rod and a Lifesaver candy.
I wasn't born yesterday, Wyatt Shallman.
Goodbye, stupid o'clock bowl. The Big Ten has (likely) dumped the Insight.Chicken bowl in Arizona, not that Michigan ever showed up in it since any vaguely bowl-eligible Michigan program got snapped up as soon as the Big Ten bylaws allowed it and they were too far down the pecking order. I mean, that 7-5 outfit a couple of years ago got snapped up by the Outback.
For people looking for more variety in their bowl destinations, it's still grimly central Florida in the consolation prize area:
The Gator Bowl and Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl previously had rotated the No. 3 Big Ten selection after the Rose Bowl. The Holiday Bowl is expected to get the No. 3 Big Ten pick, after Capital One and Outback. The next Big Ten team could go to the Gator Bowl or Music City Bowl, depending on the year.
They've only managed to insert the Holiday in there and lessen the big ten presence in the Gator Bowl. Meh. The Pinstripe and Please Change The Name Of The Bowl In San Francisco are likely to be added, but again so far down the pecking order that it's unlikely Michigan is around when those bowls are picking. Also slightly alleviating the central Florida malaise is the Orange Bowl, which will get a Big Ten team at least three times over the next twelve years. In those years the ACC will send a team to the Citrus. Miami, while inconvenient to get to, is essentially its own insane tinpot country that is at least interesting.
More helpful than the bowl switch up is the Big Ten taking back some of their autonomy as far as who goes where:
"We'll probably be somewhere in between (a bowl committee) selection and a conference placement," Delany said after the league's athletic director meetings in Chicago. "So what we'll do is give a lot of conditions to each bowl, and they will have to get conference approval for the selection that they choose.
"The goal is going to be that we keep these games fresh and also that the bowls create the best possible lineup. I think there's been some fatigue."
So if fanbase X that's been to central Florida six straight years ends up in a big pile of approximately equal teams they'd probably ship 'em to the Holiday or Music City.
Also in annoying things, the Holiday will feature the #2 Pac-12 team against the #3 Big Ten team. The Big Ten has a couple extra teams, yeah, but with the road-ish nature of that game that should be an even 2-for-2 or 3-for-3 if it's going to be even in the long run. The Big Ten doesn't help perception of itself much when its quest for maximum dollars continually puts them at a disadvantage in bowl matchups.
Weird thing I just thought of in relation to all this: if we do get a Ten Year War II going on the Rose Bowl is going to be the consolation prize for the loser of The Game. Ew.
Are we dumping the only incompetent Germans? This is admittedly a bit of a stretch that Drake Harris would be the one guy who knows what Michigan's plans are in re: their apparel contract, but he's tweeted out "when we got back to Nike, I hope we get [appalling uniforms that prove seventeen year olds are blind and/or insane]" and responded to a guy asking him about it that he thinks it'll go down in two more years. That's not accurate according to Angelique Chengelis, though the door is going to be open:
Brandon on WTKA says 3.5 years left on Adidas contact. Will honor contract. And then....negotiations begin
It is possible that they're telling recruits they plan to switch in an effort to assure them they won't end up having to play skins in a critical conference game. There are many, many reasons to do this, from Adidas's uniformly (ha!) appalling alternates to the labor kerfuffle to the fact that the only incompetent Germans can't supply Michigan with non-tearaway uniforms or replacements for the tearaway ones.
Well, yeah. Brandon says the 2014 Penn State game will likely be at night:
"That's a good hunch," Brandon said when asked the likelihood of a Michigan-Penn State night game at Michigan Stadium. "I would expect that Penn State game would be a terrific game in early October to have as a night game against a Big Ten opponent."
…because the other three are Maryland, Indiana, and Minnesota. Dave sounds a little defensive, must be getting a lot of heat for the Worst Home Schedule Ever. At least he acknowledges it's a problem:
"Football can be pretty boring in September if you've got all your teams playing down to competition," Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon said. "It's boring for the fans at the stadium and it's boring on television. We don't want to be boring, so we want to strengthen the schedule."
Also in October and November when you're playing Rutgers and Maryland every week. My mind is still struggling to interpret those as football games instead of extra byes.
Chrome it up! Death comes for us all. YOLO. Synergy. Brandon:
Michigan ended last season by making a rare alteration to its winged helmet, adding a matte finish for the Outback Bowl. That theoretically could open the door for more changes, including a chrome helmet, which many teams already employ for their alternate looks.
The idea surely would ruffle feathers in some corners of the fan base. But Michigan has also shown a willingness to push the envelop during the Brandon era.
So, would he do it?
Brandon said he is reluctant to alter the helmet so drastically -- but added, "never say never."
He cites "some polling done," which… I mean it's already locked in your brain or it's not. Also he calls college football "the platform" at some point. I hope MBA programs know they're killing the language.
/buys even more Ann Arbor Torch & Pitchfork stock.
I'm with Dave here though. The MSA president, still as useless as ever:
"The students are upset to say the least, they feel that the athletic department broke its long-held social contract with the students," said Michael Proppe, Central Student Government president for the 2013-14 academic year.
Oh I see they've changed the name to something more evocative of Stalin to emphasize their extreme lack of power. Anyway. Ahem.
YOU broke the "long-held social contract," Michael Proppe, by not showing up. You and lots of other people. The deal was: you get cheap tickets, show up, and be loud. You have altered the deal. Pray Dave Brandon doesn't alter it any further.
Etc.: Oh goody: "dead is a strong word" for expansion. Big Ten ADs want seven wins to be the minimum for bowl eligibility. Rutgers' new AD was on the wrong end of a lawsuit about discriminating against pregnant women. Kicker: is a woman.
more like #gameofthrowns amirite
In ur pocket, disrupting ur mechanics. Bruce Feldman started tweeting pictures of some guy shoving a broom at Devin Gardner and I was like "er?" Turns out one George Whitfield is a famous quarterback-coaching guy. QB Yoda, if you will. The broom is an effort to break a quarterback's mechanics down:
I talked to some front office guys, scouts and coaches, and two AFC East teams did a study of pocket-passing analytics. Both teams found that 60 percent of the time the quarterback had to make some sort of adjustment or escape before getting a throw off. Only 40 percent of the time did he take the designated drop and make a clean attempt at a throw.
If that happens behind millionaire offensive linemen being coached by millionaire coaches in billionaire leagues, you don’t get any higher than that. Two in five plays.
The first thing we do with elementary-aged kids is start them throwing on the run. I don’t care about his three-step drop. You can really improve his football quality of life if you can teach that little guy how to throw on the run.
He's all about the many plays when things don't go quite right and the quarterback has to do something other than make a perfect step-up-and-throw. Gardner still has a tendency to float balls in these situations as he reverts to his wonky high school motion.
Kyle Meinke has a roundup of all the Whitfield-related stuff you may need. He seems to think Gardner is good at football:
— George Whitfield Jr. (@georgewhitfield) May 2, 2013
Hopefully he'll need less of that than an average quarterback what with Lewan and Schofield keeping him clean.
Gold in them thar hills. Continuing a theme:
Sai Tummala has decided to decline the scholarship offer from Husker Coach Tim Miles and will instead go back home and play for the Arizona State Sun Devils.
Yeah, you vaguely remember Tummala as a guy who walked on at Michigan a couple years ago. He departed for a JUCO, blew up, and was a late signing who apparently had offers from a half-dozen schools including Pitt(!) and BYU(!). John Beilein can pick 'em, man.
In other news, Nebraska's taking a look at a Finnish power forward this weekend. This is now the other half.
I no longer prospect as much though, because the gold nuggets are coming to me. Baumgardner caught up with WI SF/PF Kevon Looney's coach:
"He's definitely interested in Michigan," Looney's AAU coach, Shelby Parrish, told MLive.com. "He likes Michigan's style of play, he likes coach Beilein -- he's very interested in him."
Looney is going to cut down to five and take officials from there. Scout has also been buzzing about potential Elite Camp visits by Devin Booker and Kameron Chatman. All of those guys are in the top 40; Looney is top ten.
UMHoops talked with 2015 C Stephen Zimmerman:
Zimmerman has also been in constant contact with Michigan — he said he’s been speaking with Michigan’s coaching staff about “once or twice a week for the past three weeks.”
“I’ve been talking to them a lot more recently,” Zimmerman said. “They seem like a great coaching staff and everything. It’s a great school.”
Maybe it's the product. Bacon has a different take on the languishing interest from students in showing up for football on time:
Getting mad at your paying customers for not liking your product as much as you think they should, then punishing them for it, is probably not something they teach at Michigan’s Ross School of Business. …
But if the athletic director didn’t ask the students what they thought about the new policy, or why they arrive late or not at all, I have a few hunches. Because tickets are so expensive now, and games take so long, the current students didn’t go when they were kids – which is when you get hooked on watching the band flying out of the tunnel and the players touching the banner. No matter how tired or hungover we were in college, we wouldn’t think of missing those moments.
Of course, our habit formed because we knew the game was going to start at 1:05, every Saturday, for years. Now it could be noon, or 3:30, or 8 – and sometimes they don’t tell you when until a couple weeks before the game.
Why? TV, of course. Which is to say, money.
Back then, we also knew Michigan would be playing a solid opponent – every game. In Bo Schembechler’s 21 seasons, they played 77 games against non-Big Ten teams. How many were not from major conferences? Exactly ten.…
When the students can show up for Michigan State, though…
I'm not sure exactly what the problem is, but Bacon is right that the product has lost some of its luster. An annoyingly loud ad is an an annoying loud ad even if it's for renting Michigan Stadium or field hockey; prices are higher; times are random.
It's over. It does not matter that MSU might have a slightly easier schedule than Michigan in the crossover games unless they can beat M and OSU in any given year, but here's a hilarious statement from Mark Hollis:
“You’re gonna have MSU playing frequently in Chicago (against Northwestern),” Spartans athletic director Mark Hollis said this week on “The Drive with Jack” radio show on WVFN 730-AM in Lansing. “Minneapolis is another market that’s important to us. We put all those out there and Jim listened to us."
I wonder why that might be.
Yes please. If Zak Irvin ends up an upgrade over Tim Hardaway it'll be with defense and rebounding—they have similar offensive games. Irvin seems more inclined than Hardaway to be an impact player on the other end of the floor:
He'll fight for minutes with Stauskas, Robinson and sophomore Caris LeVert -- and he'll do it from day one. But, that's not necessarily a bad thing.
"That's a good thing," he said. "Going against each other every day in practice is going to make us that much better. Defense is definitely going to be the difference-maker, though.
"Those of us who can play defense will be on the floor, especially at the end of games."
Coaches love to hear that.
"I'll play where they put me," he added.
He says his best spot is shooting guard, but he'll probably be a SF/PF at M. Not that there's much distinction in the offense.
Of course. Via WTKA's Ira Weintraub, Sirius is allowing you a chance to head out on the road with… POP EVILLLLL. And what better place to take in the second greatest-evil ever allowed into Michigan Stadium than the home of the first?
One winner and a guest will fly to Grand Rapids for a Pop Evil concert at the Orbit Room on May 17th where they will meet the band, then join them on the tour bus that night, heading to Rock on the Range in Columbus, Ohio for Rock on the Range on May 18th and 19th where they will have the chance to get on stage and intro the band! The prize also includes two nights’ stay in Columbus, OH and airfare home.
If you enter and win this, I will give you every MGoPoint that will fit in a 64-bit integer if you intro them as the worst thing to ever happen to Michigan football. This will get a great cheer from the crowd, and may not even be interpreted as an insult by the band.
Huh. Ace points out that in Football Study Hall's F+ rankings of the last few years of the Big Ten, Michigan's 2010 and 2011 offenses are in a dead heat near the top of the rankings:
Let the debates about whether Al Borges and Denard Robinson were a good fit rage in perpetuity. The 2011 crew made their hay with a ruthless devastation of OSU and the UTL fluketasm; they were maddeningly erratic, what with the trash tornado game and Iowa under center debacle. The previous year was fairly consistent until the grim end to the season, but never put the spurs to anyone of consequence.
Other notables: it will not surprise you to see the 2008 offense and 2010 defense on the awful lists; Michigan is in fact the only non-Minnesota/Indiana/Northwestern program to feature. Meanwhile, the two year-turnaround from the second-worst offense in the sample to the 4th-best is kind of amazing. Michigan has been the second-best offense in the league the past four years, but (surprise!) lags on defense.
Etc.: Denard is going to ditch Jags minicamp to come back and graduate. Stephen Ross called Jordan Kovacs personally when the Dolphins signed him. The SEC is chattering about nine conference games now. Also they're going to start picking which teams go to which bowls instead of vice versa. Glockner on the ridiculousness of the Lance Thomas thing from every direction. Michigan is going to be huge at WR/TE. Emmert still under fire.
The student section is going general admission next year, which basically confirms a long-standing nonpolicy in which your ticket was checked at the section entrance, but the actual section was a free-for-all. Students hate it!
Here's the poll on the
@michigandaily facebook page: 589 "hate" GA policy. 104 "love" it. 44 "dislike but understand." 30 are indifferent
I love people who vote "I don't care" on polls.
Anyway, the given reason:
“This change in policy from reserved seating was put in place as the student section is the driving force behind our home field advantage and we need students to get there early and often to create a loud and full student section for kickoff.”
I guess that whole "you can get a t-shirt for going to every game on time" thing didn't work out despite being a Best In Class Loyalty Program. These are people involved in the decision to expand the Big Ten to 14 teams. We should not be surprised this was apparently unforseeable.
Michigan's also upped the price of student tickets by about eight bucks a pop. Sucks for the actual students. Might convince some of the DGAF crowd to pass, thus opening up seats for actual fans, but the kind of people who drop 200 bucks on season tickets and don't show up on time or sometimes at all are probably not going to be dissuaded by another 50 bucks on top of their tuition and whatnot.
I really wish I could find this email from a mewling brat of a student from the last time it was Complain About The Students time on mgoblog, because it was dripping with entitlement so vast it would have established a new frontier in Michigan Man jokes. It's lost in the deep recesses of my inbox, unfortunately.
In any case: I don't care about you, guy who shows up late. At all. If you're hungover or don't have time to get drunk or are too tired to show up on time, terrible subsection of students who think this blog is an inexplicable acronym, I don't care. I can't conceive of a world in which I, or anybody else, would find the slightest bit of sympathy for you. It's six or seven Saturdays a year—five or six now that they're going to have a night game annually. If you can swing that because of… actually, if you can't swing that for any reason whatsoever, I don't care. That is your problem.
For the students who read this blog this is a good thing. You can swing into the stadium at the appropriate time and plop down on the 20 yard line 30 rows up like I used to and get an excellent view of proceedings. Since I'm always in the stadium 45-60 minutes early I'll keep you guys abreast of the seating situation on the twitters so you can time your entrance to snag the seats for people who actually want to watch football. Since people will cram the first few rows overfull, anyone in the stadium sweet spot will probably be comfortable. And a drunk girl with JEALOUS on her ass can't show up in the second quarter to kick you out.
Problems: Still Extant
This isn't going to do much for the grey ring of apathy at the top of the section, which has always been a combination of the aforementioned crowding near the field and people who either don't show up at all or show up late, don't care that they're far away, and leave early. These people must be found and scolded personally.
I still don't understand why Michigan isn't using the ticket scans to give priority to people who show up on time. A subsection of primo seats for early-arrivers would do more to help out the future superfan types; I wouldn't mind telling perpetual late-arrivers they can get tickets at the full sticker price or not at all.
The reward gradation from awesome fan to terrible fan should be a lot steeper. Right now it is Free T-Shirt versus No T-Shirt. Do you know how many old free t-shirts I still have from my student days? Dozens. (AMD ROCKS!, says one.) I cannot think of a less valuable item than a t-shirt to a college student. The good half of the student section is the best subsection of Michigan fans, and right now they're getting too much of the crap for the other half without much in the way of tangible benefit.
What does bug me about the student ticket prices is that they're a terrible idea from a marketing perspective. Hook 'em young and you've got a customer for life. Continually piling annoyances on the new generation of fans bodes unwell for the future. Throw 'em a bone, starting with a kickass stadium wifi setup*.
*[YES IT'S FOR THEM AND NOT ME. I actually get out stuff just fine most of the time. I should see if my cell phone company wants me to advertise this fact for them.]
UPDATE: Kyle Meinke tweets that Michigan averaged an astounding 5400 no-shows per game last year, or 25% of student tickets sold. Anyone who missed more than one game should be told to pay full price, at the very least.
11/17/2012 – Michigan 42, Iowa 17 – 8-3, 6-1 Big Ten
M. Ward – Helicopter
A couple years ago Carl Hagelin lasered a wrist shot off the post and in directly in front of my seats at Yost. It was senior day; there was a second left in overtime. I saw the puck rise all the way and knew its path was true. In the aftermath I wrote about a kind of envy I have for old-timers who have only their burned-in memories of these titanic events:
…while I've been craving video boards at Yost for years there's something beautiful about not having the thing you just experienced altered by someone else's perspective. Since the Werner goal isn't on youtube no one can tell me he wasn't wielding a scimitar, wearing an eyepatch, and screaming "hhhhhyarrrrr" as he swashbuckled towards the net. I'm pretty sure the unicorn he was riding was named Steve.
Those days are over but thanks to Carl Hagelin Yost got one last opportunity to walk out of the building buzzing about the thing that just happened in your head, and only your head.
I feel aftershocks of this when I'm on the radio with Craig Ross and the topics get twisted around to 1970s basketball refereeing and Craig gets a little frothy and a guy calls in to froth a bit with him. I love this. You don't even know. I have no idea how much of it is accurate but I've double-checked my brain with Youtube enough by now to know that the things we have in our head are a lot further from the untrammeled gospel than it seems.
When you have this presented to you directly, it's unsettling. You think you remember everything about these blazing moments in your sports fandom and it turns out not to be so, and you wonder about all the other things you may not have right. Before anyone could check their brains, the tower in your head could go unchallenged.
A part of me wishes that Denard turning Tanner Miller into a chasing ghost was gone, extant only in all of us who saw it, slightly different but equally validating and valedictory and satisfying in all of our heads. I mean obviously not, this would be terrible, I can recite Keith Jackson's call of Charles Woodson's OSU punt return (Woodson's got one block… he's got another block… one more and he's gone!) from memory and hear the three separate roars from the crowd without even cuing it up. Obviously not. Despite the memorization I just watched Charles Woodson return that punt eight times. This site is dedicated to archiving the events and the feelings behind the events. Obviously not.
But… maybe a little. If that was just there and gone, well, seeing that would be something. Like watching Tom Harmon. Like experiencing the rage of playing Indiana in a dusky, mustachioed 70s basketball arena where television was just a rumor and your brain the only repository of a precious thing—the life you lived.
Midweek, Michigan fans were facing down the prospect of ceremonial snaps. Walter Smith was exhumed to reassure us that life goes on even after you lose what should be the culmination of your career to a busted limb:
"It still haunts me today to not play your senior year," said Smith… "To work that hard at something and have that happen is devastating. It could have led me the wrong way."
It was not particularly reassuring. At some point I thought I realized I'd seen the last of it, and I started thinking one of the things stuck in my head that calls itself forth at times: "And I sat down on the grass, on the burnt grass, on the black, burnt, dirt and grass, and I can admit this now: I wept. I cried big, old, giant tears."
Because memory is unreliable I had to plug it into Google and got two hits and realized that this was the Robert Earl Keen story I'd warped into a column about Michigan hockey losing the national title game two years ago after staying up all night editing my now-wife, then-fiancée's dissertation. I did this just now, and read it, and yeah. This is what I felt when I thought about the black burnt dirt and grass:
At some point Michigan is actually going to win another goddamned national championship and some of this will be redeemed. Not all of it, though. Shawn Hunwick is never going to do that again, and nothing's ever going to match the Swedish flag and my complete failure to get people to replace all words in the goal cheer with "bork" when Hagelin scores. Things come and go; this one has gone and I'm stunned at how much I miss it already.
Except the stunned part, because obviously not stunned more like openly dreading forever.
Denard got a ceremonial snap, and ran for three yards, and then got another, and ran for four yards. Collectively they are the Michigan fanbase's favorite first-quarter plays to set up third and three ever. It became clear that we had been granted a reprieve from the future.
The sun was out, shining on Michigan's present and future as each senior took a bow. Vincent Smith hacked down men much larger than him and scored on a throwback screen. Jordan Kovacs took a quarterback escaping into space and turned it into a tackle for loss. Roy Roundtree was Worst Waldo open for a touchdown.
And on another option play, Denard eschewed a pitch that was there, accelerating outside of Thomas Rawls to the corner, where he faced down an Iowa safety. One juke later, he was tearing down the sideline. A hundred ten thousand took it and put it in their memory. I was there. I saw it. I can tell you about it, but it's something you have to experience for yourself.
As the day descended into a blissful victory lap, Denard audaciously reversed field for another big gain en route to exceeding 100 total yards on 15 touches. On each play, you could feel the stadium burst with anticipation. Please give me one last thing to have here. He did, twice, and the cloud that dogged Walter Smith evaporated.
After, I walked down to the tunnel and watched him go, young and old alike reaching down for one last moment.
Maize and Blue Nation
I was there. I saw it. Let me tell you about it.
Eric's gallery is on the front page a few posts back.
Photos from MVictors pregame:
JT Floyd's daughter
Brock Mealer looking pretty dang ambulatory
Maize and Blue Nation's gallery includes a great shot of the captains walking off the field after the game:
And Robinson looking on at Gardner being interviewed:
Brady Hoke Epic Double Point Of The Week. You can no longer be denied, Devin Gardner: 18/23, 314 yards, six total TDs. I be like dang. More about Iowa being the worst thing ever a bit later; setting that aside, it's remarkable that Gardner throws an out and you're just like "this is extremely likely to be on target and moving fast when the WR catches it." His accuracy and comfort with the offense grows weekly, and when he needs to have his legs bail him out those are still around.
Honorable Mention. Jeremy Gallon (133 yards receiving without getting a gift long TD, let's not think about the punt), Roy Roundtree (gift long TD but hey 83 more yards), Denard Robinson (8.1 yards a touch), GERG Davis (your QB completed 19 of 26 passes for 7 YPA), Jordan Kovacs (I just like Jordan Kovacs), Will Hagerup (did not wander off to Ypsilanti at halftime, wondering if he should transfer to a school at which he would see the field).
Epic Double Point Standings.
3: Jake Ryan (ND, Purdue, Illinois)
2: Denard Robinson (Air Force, UMass)
1.3: Jeremy Gallon(Alabama, 1/3 Minnesota), Drew Dileo (Michigan State, 1/3 Minnesota), Roy Roundtree (1/3 Minnesota, Northwestern)
1: Craig Roh(Nebraska), Devin Gardner(Iowa)
Brady Hoke Epic Double Fist-Pump Of The Week. It must be Denard Robinson juking Tanner Miller to the ground. Yes. All of the that.
And then he felt he was being unfair so he ran out of bounds.
Honorable mention: Denard reverses field on dinky flare pass, Gardner to Gallon for a juggling 50 yard catch, Roundtree goes Worst Waldo on third and seventeen, Vincent Smith throwback screen for old times.
Epic Double Fist-Pumps Past.
11/10/2012: Mattison baits Fitz, Kenny Demens decleats Northwestern, game over.
11/17/2012: Denard WOOPS Tanner Miller in Big House finale.
Iowa caveats apply. Large Iowa caveats apply. Several plays were comically wide open as Iowa's secondary was ruthlessly exposed for the clown college it is. Only the incompetence of Big Ten passing attacks obscured it previously. Meanwhile, Devin Gardner is now eligible for social security after one particular goal-line passing play.
Late in the game, Iowa quit. Caveats apply. Large ones.
Let's ignore all caveats! Holy pants. The combination of the Devin Gardner-oriented slick passing game with spicy deep bombs combined with Denard Robinson carrying the ball to annihilate Iowa's defense utterly. Michigan scored touchdowns on their first six drives and were going in for another when Micah Hyde made a pretty badass interception on what would otherwise have been first and goal for Michigan.
Gardner's accuracy is getting creepy—a couple of underthrown deep balls were short only because their targets were so vastly wide open that the only way to not score a touchdown was to miss them, and the corner routes he's throwing are consistently on the money. This was the third straight game he hit Gallon in the numbers on a deep bomb—on this one Gallon had a guy draped all over him and still brought it in.
More than that it seems like Gardner just has a certain je ne sais quoi about him. The scrambles are a big part of this. There's more to it, though. In this game just having the patience to sit and wait a million years on that play where he could was an asset, and then he had that brilliant improvisation fling at Roundtree…
…that caused Dave Pasch to manically exclaim he was "JUST TOYING WITH THE DEFENSE!!!" He was.
As we go along here I'm moving away from thinking things like the yakety sex touchdown against Minnesota are not sustainable items you can count on to keep your offense going game in, game out. Gardner has kept a ton of drives alive with his scrambles and his ability to adjust on the fly—neither of which are Denard assets.
Horrible defenses all, yes. Inability to run for two yards without a quarterback involved, yes. Still.
Inability to run for two yards without a quarterback involved. …looked like it might be going away as Toussaint popped a couple nice gains—one of them on a real live successful option pitch from Denard—but then Toussaint sustained extreme damage and it was back to the salt mines. Rawls, Hayes, and Smith combined to acquire 35 yards on 13 carries, 2.7 per. Yeah, a number of those were short yardage. Still, a long of eight yards was acquired, and that was when the entire Iowa defense freaked out about Denard only to get the counter pitch in their face. Runs on which offensive line blocking was relevant topped out at six yards.
This is just something that must be accepted. Michigan is not going to get much of anything up the middle against Ohio State, and must be able to throw effectively. It'll be interesting to see if Ohio State tries to match John Simon up against Michael Schofield or lets the Lewan/Simon throwdown go down. Either way, Whoever Versus John Simon is the single most important positional matchup in the game.
Rawls hype level descending. Not very far from a low baseline since the Purdue blip up was only a couple carries, but descending. To me he seems very Kevin Grady so far and it's hard to see him getting anything against that DL and OSU's speed to the outside. I don't know what they can do about it, though. Smith is the same thing, more likely to make a man miss and far less likely to grind out YAC.
Hayes and Norfleet clearly don't have the coaches' trust, which is unfortunate because the role Michigan needs to fill when they go to that Fritz package is the darting outside guy who can tightrope the sidelines no problem when he gets that counter pitch or juke a defensive back when he gets the option. I have the feeling that sometime next year one or the other will get an extended run, do well, and leave us all wondering why they couldn't get on the field in 2012 (probably because they can't block).
Meanwhile, while I'm not writing off Rawls the trendline there is not heading towards anything more than a short-yardage guy. A short yardage guy that bounces it way too much.
Nefarious Ohio State plans. Michigan has not called more than a couple runs for Devin Gardner yet aside from short-yardage run/pass rollouts that have turned into half-scramble/half-intentional-run touchdowns. The reason has been obvious: if Gardner goes down Michigan is rolling with a one-armed Denard and Russell Bellomy. This has been a logical thing to do.
I think they have to break the seal on that in the Game.
I'm not suggesting Gardner takes off 20 times or anything, but some dose of Gardner/Denard inverted veer action seems like a big opportunity to hit something big. The problem with working Denard into the gameplan as a not-quarterback is that he basically can't block for reasons of inexperience and elbow, so how do you work around that limitation? To date, Michigan has given him the ball and used him as a decoy.
They'll continue doing that, but it's time for the Denard/Devin Mesh Point. By making Denard the tailback and running the veer, they either get Denard on the edge without contain or option someone off, thus blocking someone with Denard without actually blocking someone with Denard. Add in the potential for play action off that look and you've got my #1 must have thing for OSU.
Toussaint damage. I am probably not informing you of anything you do not know when I say he has broken bones in his legs and is done for the year. A reader pointed out this study done on 31 soccer athletes that saw the subjects with twin fractures return to competition an average of 40 weeks after their injury, which would be just before next season.
If he can't get back in time for 2013, he should be able to apply for a sixth year. His first redshirt was due to a shoulder injury.
Citizens for Dileo. If a ball is thrown at Drew Dileo and hits the ground, it is pass interference and should be an automatic flag. Now please let the man return punts.
Could have gone better. Iowa's touchdown drive was pretty alarming. And even if Vandenberg was making all the three yard passes, it's a little disappointing when the opposing QB goes 19 of 26. Some of that was inexperience, some of it scheme—on a late third and four Michigan moved Gordon down late and used him as a man defender on a TE out successfully; previously they were using linebackers making tougher run/pass reads.
HOWEVA, I don't think I'm as down as Hoke was after the game. Guy seemed downright dispirited by a team that barely scraped over the 300 yard mark thanks to a jerky onside kick and 22 meaningless yards before halftime. Iowa went three-and-out on four of their first six drives. If the ref doesn't throw a terrible roughing the passer flag on Jordan Kovacs, they would have been facing fourth and eleven at the 32 on their field goal drive. By the time they put together the 81-yard-drive that rescued their yardage from the abyss it was 42-10 and Kovacs and others were cooling their heels on the sideline. Iowa is bad and having them do anything is bad; I'm not really sure they did much of anything other than throw it at their tight end.
Weisman coming back was a big help for them. The difference in quality between that guy and Garmon was obvious, and he still only managed 3.9 YPC.
The game in a nutshell. Michigan third down conversions: 9/12 with two of those failures subsequently converted on fourth down by Devin Gardner. Iowa: 6 of 14 and 1 of 3 on subsequent fourth downs.
worst roughing the passer ever (Upchurch)
Godspeed, Kovacs. I may get all blubbery about Denard but if Devin's going to do the things he seems like he is doing, Kovacs might actually be the guy I miss more next year in on-field terms. Do you people remember that Michigan used to give up huge long touchdowns all the time? Like, weekly.
Kovacs's utter reliability has turned Michigan into a defense that essentially never gives up anything without a chance to redzone you to death. He is literally the best safety I have experienced as a Michigan player, walk-on be damned, status be damned. All hail Kovacs.
Iowa tight end cloaking device. I like it much better when Greg Davis is operating it because the end results are decidedly non-Moeaki. Mattison likely has something to do with it.
Weekly Devin Gardner lookalike photo. Not necessarily a thing, but after Hipster Devin last week it's a thing this week because…
…because it's a thing.
Brady Hoke FTW. Moments that make you think "boy I'm glad that guy isn't Michigan's coach" are flying fast and furious these days, what with Minnesota's leading receiver bombing Jerry Kill in a 4000-word tumblr post by way of announcing a transfer and Bret Bielema punting from the Ohio State 30 and Mark Dantonio punting on fourth and medium down three with three minutes left—a decision that slashed his team's chances by a third.
It is impossible to conceive of the first thing happening under Brady Hoke. Jerry Kill seems like a decent guy and doesn't have the opportunity to tell his side of the story, but it's hard to picture anyone on Michigan's team even having a side of the story. I mean, Hagerup interaction post-OSU-atrocity. QED.
And while I wouldn't put it past Hoke to freeze up in the heat of the moment (everyone does sometimes) his game theory decisions are near-perfect in two years at Michigan. Saturday, Michigan faced fourth and goal at the one, sent the kicking team out… and called timeout because Hoke was like "wait I am Brady Hoke." While the ensuing touchdown turned out to be unnecessary, it was the right move and it paid off.
Usual statement of preferred policy: all freshmen get to buy tickets; after that you have to show up by kickoff at half of the games to renew.
Iowa: home of the hyphen. Iowa's moved from Inexplicably Great White Wide Receiver—who now makes his home in Minneapolis when he's not bombing Jerry Kill and leaving—to Somewhat Good Hyphenated Name Guy. They're multiplying now: Iowa iced Kevonte Martin-Manley, Henry Krieger-Coble, and Louis Trinca-Pasat this weekend.
Ace instant recap:
In a way, it was fitting.
Denard Robinson's Michigan Stadium career did not begin according to script. It started with a fumbled snap, then became something magnificent.
It ended with him unable to throw a football, but still very able to take the Big House's collective breath away.
Steve Bigach had 3 tackles. I bring this up because his name is a perfect metaphor for the BIGGG TENNNNN this year. BIG ACK! (Hey, bonus points for me for working in a cat photo.)
Best: Those Who Came and Stayed Will Always Be Champions
I know that everyone has talked up last year’s seniors as epitomizing Bo’s “Stay and Be Champions” motto, but I’ve always felt this Senior class has been given a short shrift considering the environment that existed when they decided to come to UM. The 2011 class came to UM with a fair bit of uncertainty, what with a coaching change and a shift in offensive and defensive systems, but they all arrived on campus in a world where UM hadn’t missed a bowl game since Nixon was in office and had only one .500 record over that span. Like everyone, they figured UM would, at worst, suffer through a “down” season of 8 wins before challenging for more titles.
But we all know how that played out. And not only did the team struggle on the field, but off it players questioned Rich Rodriguez’s leadership and allegations of improprieties bubbled up before the season. Their reality was a program coming off the worst season in their history, with an embattled coach and a media ready to burn him at the stake. Few offensive and defensive stars could be found on the roster, highlighted by the fact that UM had two players taken in the 2009 draft and 3 in 2010, with one of them being a punting Space Emperor.
[AFTER THE JUMP: all of the links all of the links]
Eatin': taken. One of our new MGoShirts is this:
I was sent the usual batch of ideas to thumb up or thumb down and thumbed this one up because I'd either missed or forgotten the fact that Martavious Odoms had put together a charity for a hurting city of Pahokee with a shirt based around the same concept. As the kids who are now about 35 say, my bad.
We've taken the thing down for now and are in the process of reaching out to Hope For Pahokee so we can put it back up and donate the proceeds to them. I'll let you know when we get cleared.
Ufer. A recut version of a Ufer thing I've posted before.
Honor Willis Ward. The Michigan State game marks the 78th anniversary of the Georgia Tech-Michigan game that saw Tech protest the existence of Willis Ward. Gerald Ford had to be talked out of quitting the team after Ward was benched; Michigan won 9-2, defeating racism forever*.
Anyway, the state legislature is making October 20th Willis Ward day and the filmmakers who have been publicizing his story are trying to get something together for the Michigan State game. It seems like this would be one of those things where you talk to someone in the athletic department and he says "of course," but must not be since the guys behind the idea are assembling an online petition to help bolster their case.
*[Probably. I haven't done a whole lot of research on this point.]
Oh my God run around in circles yesss. Sunday Morning QB returns. Matt Hinton's still writing for a couple of other outlets, so its glory may not reach the heights of long long ago but at least now there is a place for Hinton to put the things that are 1) very good and 2) not likely to end up on the Yahoo front page because they're not viral™. See: a comprehensive overview of the have-nots. Bookmark/RSS away.
This is more like it. Indiana just announced a student loyalty program that actually seems worthwhile:
Under the new priority seating system, students earn -and have earned– priority points while they are in school by purchasing men’s basketball and/or football season tickets each year. To reward the most loyal student fans, the 3900 students with the most priority points heading into the 2012-13 school year will be guaranteed the lower bowl seats for the highly anticipated North Carolina game on November 27, 2012.
IU students earn priority points while they are in school by purchasing men’s basketball and football tickets. Students receive 5 points each time they purchase season tickets with a maximum of 10 points per year if they purchase them for both men’s basketball and football season. Also new this year, students will have an additional opportunity to earn loyalty points by attending the games for which they have tickets, or making certain their tickets are used by other students. One point will be given for each game attended or each time an individual ticket is scanned at the gate. Only the original ticket holder can earn loyalty points for the use of their tickets. The more loyalty points a student earns, the better chance they have of obtaining the student tickets allocated for post-season tournaments (NCAA, Big Ten Tournament, etc.). Student point totals for purchased season tickets are automatically transferred to alumni point totals following the student’s graduation from IU.
They also base ticket availability at certain other premium games on their points. No check-ins, a tangible reward that really matters to the students in question (sweet seats and good tickets) and is not a t-shirt.
Oh, man. The MZone makes a thunderous return by rounding up videos of Alabama fans on Youtube.
I'm not sure about anything anymore.
Yes please. The SEC is loosening their rules for in-stadium video replays, but why did they have this one in the first place?
In the past, the SEC had a one real-time replay policy for all plays in all sports.
These companies that suck up digital rights and try to monetize them are all pretty bad—try explaining fair use to one—but XOS is the worst by far. Anyway, the SEC is now going to allow replays from the TV network broadcasting the game (again, why prohibit this?) during reviews. I'm guessing that decision is to prevent biased home-field folks from ramping up outrage by selectively picking favorable angles. It makes sense.
The stated reason for the change is to keep fans coming to games by making the in-stadium experience not worse than sitting at home. Here's hoping Purdue and other schools that have trouble selling out ram this through in the Big Ten.
Um? Brady Hoke has a much different take on the new kickoff rules than any I'd seen before:
On the new kickoff rules: "I think as it plays out, there will be a little more we all learn. You try to use the NFL model from a year ago the best you can. The one thing you learn from the NFL, guys are taking it out of the end zone 8 yards deep. I think you’ll see more of that. Personally, if we can get the ball or give the opponent the ball at the 25, that is something I’ll be happy with."
Why would you run the ball out eight yards deep? Because the kick return guys can't get there in time? I'd be surprised if there was that much of a difference. Certainly not enough to justify a KO attempt where you have to make it 33 yards to break even. Touchbacks ho.
Plead down. MLive's Kyle Meinke just tweeted this out:
Michigan RB Fitz Toussaint, facing operating while intoxicated charge, pleads down to operating while visibly impaired
A quick googling turns up a bunch of sketchy law firms, but the Michigan site has the various penalties for these things and OWVI looks almost identical to OWI. Still assume that Toussaint is suspended for Alabama and Hoke is playing silly fun games with Nick Saban, who is totally fooled.
Chantel Jennings Mike Rothstein on Desmond Morgan.