this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
[Reposting for those who missed yesterday]
What? MGoBlog and handful of former Michigan players who are disproportionately cornerbacks about my age are going to be tailgating before the PSU game at Marlin Jackson's Go Blue Bowl Tailgate charity drive. There will be a raffle, and a tailgate Olympics where fans are teamed with former players for maizehole/beer pong/ladder toss, and a Q&A session MC'ed by Brian, and beer.
Where? The North End Zone, 1011 S. Main St., Building B, Ann Arbor, MI 48104. Technically it would be Michigan Stadium's north end zone if the field was 300 yards long. It's the white and green house on Main Street, opposite Pauline, off the northwest gate of the Big House.
When? 3 pm to 6 pm this Saturday. Games will start at 4-ish, probably do the Q&A from 5 pm to whenever it breaks up or it's time to go to the game.
Who exactly? Well, Brian Cook, Seth Fisher, Ace Anbender, Adam Schnepp, Orson, MMMGoBlueBBQ promised to stop by, my 7-month old…oh you meant important people? Confirmed so far are Marlin Jackson, Brandon Williams, Todd Howard, Marcus Ray, Cato June, Chris Perry, and Zia Combs. As these things go, more are planning to come but can't make promises.
|Looks like this except none of us wear khakis and polos.|
The event was organized by Marlin's people, who asked us to participate.
NOBODY under 21 (except babies). They are checking IDs.
What's the cause? The Go Blue Bowl Tailgate and the Go Blue Bowl Football Challenge support Marlin's Fight for Life Foundation, as well as the the Phalen Leadership Academies, the Peace Neighborhood Center of Ann Arbor, the Summer Advantage Program, and Go Blue Then and Now. These all* fund extracurricular and catch-up programs for at-risk kids.
Marlin started FFL in Indianapolis and has expanded the concept up to Michigan. The school systems where these kids live have been dropping such programs and don't have the ability to implement modern teaching techniques (even though we've known they work for 15+ years) so FFL provides that. It's evolved a bit since we started supporting it: the in-school programs are Building Dreams/Field of Dreams (elementary/middle), and RAP (high school). Seal the Deal is the after-school youth flag football program. And they've added Be a Blessing!, which follows up with the kids who've been in their programs, and provides need-based assistance to their families.
Go Blue Then and Now is an umbrella organization for former Michigan players' charities.
The Go Blue Bowl itself is a flag football game for local kids football teams where former Michigan players coach them for a day (or most of a day then hide indoors because their Floridian skin still can't handle Michigan weather; not naming any names that are also a unit of measurement).
I gotta make a donation right? Yes, but what you can afford. We urge you to donate beforehand on Marlin's website, or buy some raffle tickets when you arrive, or be like "here's five dollars" at the gate. I do ask if you're going to drink the beer you donate like $20 at the door so they don't end up taking a loss on the provisioning of said suds. Suggested minimal donation if you're just gonna come by for the Q&A is $5. The point of the tailgate is to raise money for these charities.
There are things you get for donation levels of $100 and above, like access to the VIP lounge where players with weak-ass Floridian skin might be hiding, and signed memorabilia, and corporate sponsorship displays.
Also one sponsor who sends a check ahead of time will get two free tickets to the Penn State game that one of our readers donated to the cause.
The raffle? I'm not sure of everything that will be there; when we did our tailgate last year Marlin brought a jersey signed by Woodley and some footballs and t-shirts, and Six Zero had a drawing of a half-lion/half-Devin Gardner. There's a Michigan Stadium print by Bennie (godson of THAT Bennie) McCready that I'm bringing. And you can win a spot in the tailgate Olympics.
Todd Howard came to Michigan in 1998, following the national championship season. We both grew up in the same middle class suburb (Southfield) before moving to more affluent ones. But he was a highly recruited scholarship athlete who played cornerback for four years on the Michigan football team, while I was sort-of recruited journalism student who played guitar on a couch at the Michigan Daily.
Todd now coaches defensive backs in his post-Southfield hometown of Bolingbrook. We've developed a recent friendship over M football obsession, and some heated disagreements, plus wives pregnant at the same time. His perspective is one of a guy who came to Michigan and had it made clear upon arrival that no player is bigger than the program. His perspective is also one of a player who played in an era when "getting your bell rung" was common, "shaking off the cobwebs" was routine, and everybody "saw" a few more snaps than they actually played. But he's also a modern high school coach with responsibility for player safety, and a defensive back who believes inside routes should be punishable by death.
He agreed to let me share a thing he wrote on Facebook and some bits from our text message marathon last night.
From the texts:
- Supports Hoke, says he's a good coach and the right coach for Michigan.
- Players always play hurt.
- Doesn't know what's going on in the administration and can't affect it.
- Want people thinking long-term: Michigan will be great again. Supports people speaking out, but turning away disgusts him.
- Every effort should be made to show the players they're supported, including showing up to games and cheering for them and not distracting the coaches further.
The Facebook open letter to fans:
Dear Michigan "Fans"...I really couldn't have said it any better myself. You took success for granted. 8 win seasons became the norm and you got comfortable. You never saw the hard work and late hours put in behind those brick walls of Shembechler. The lack of sleep, barely being able to drag yourself to class, minor addictions to pain killers, while fighting to remain academically eligible. PLAYING through injuries most of you couldn't make it up a flight of stairs with. The coaches preparation every week from sun up to sun UP, sacrificing valuable time with their own families so the BEST team possible could take the field on Saturday.
Now your "favorite" team is going through some adversity and look at you! Look at how you respond. Are you a Michigan FAN because it's convenient? Sure, every one loves a winner...if that's the case take your allegiance down I-96.
It's so easy for you to call for Hoke's job. You've never met him, never had a beer with him, never seen him COACH! Only interviews and cutaways on Saturday. If you think you want to win, multiple that by 100 and MAYBE you'll attain the same passion he has for football and an equivalent compassion for his players.
My brothers and myself are Michigan MEN, not FANS! So to read some of your comments and rants is a little disheartening. Is this how you would've ridiculed us had we not been as successful? Would you not inbox us autograph requests?
When you're team is up, cheer! When you're team is down, cheer LOUDER! When your team wins, congratulate them. When your team loses, sympathize and have pride in the fact they gave everything they could. That's a TRUE fan...but instead you're spoiled. It's a privilege to cheer for Michigan. It's a privilege to sit in the Big House...not an obligation. "The Expectation is for the POSITION!" Back to yours!!!
/adjusts Michigan hat
...as you were. HAIL!
[My rebuttal, after the jump.]
Todd asked me to guest star on the anachronistically named HuddlePass podcast this week while Cato was celebrating a family event. Here it is:
Nothing too surprising to you in there. Lots of love for Jourdan Lewis and Jake Butt, taking things too seriously that we saw in the Miami game, can't scout Utah because they've played only bad teams so far.
Note he cuts me off right after he says time of possession is key. This would not do; the conversation spilled into text messages. Also before we started recording we talked a little about press technique and he said ND was doing a few things to screw with guys who didn’t have it down; practice was needed, and Michigan should have given them some help from the safeties until that was well practiced.
“Publisher”? Apparently “associate editor of MGoBlog and publisher and co-editor of Hail to the Victors” became “publisher of MGoBlog,” which I guess is accurate in that my job entails hitting this button a lot:
…but I mention in case Brian thinks I’m going around making up more titles for myself than those I’ve already made up.
-Seth, MGoBlog Executive Vice President of Consumption and Procurement, Coping Beverages Division
Die, work productivity! Die before the might of The Great Thursday of the Basketballing (also: hockey), and the grilling of former football players on things of interest.
The Celebrity Mods: By seniority, Todd Howard (CB, 1998-'01); Brandon Williams (CB, 1999-'02), who wrangled them all together; Tim Massaquoi (WR/TE, 2001-'05); Jordan Kovacs# (S, 2009-'12); and Michael Schofield (OL, 2009-'13). They'll be in and out throughout the day.
# = never gets to live it down.
The Sponsor: As they did last year, our official fantasy game partner DraftStreet stepped up. If you're getting bored between games today, head on over to their dashboard and sign up for any of their games. That link goes to the NBA one I just started. Or just check in on your team for the $40k (or $20k if you came late) tourney we've been on about all week.
The Cause: We've got a bunch of former players coming by today to answer your questions, yap about the ballgames with you, and support the Go Blue Bowl, on April 4.
Flier (click to see list of players attending, etc.):
It's a series of evening flag football games at Pioneer between teams coached by former Michigan players. Two teams will be made up of sponsors and you can still get in on that. The event benefits Marlin Jackon's Fight for Life Foundation.
The Schedule: As we get going it'll be general discussion time while the Ohio State-Dayton (12:15) and Wisconsin-American (12:40) are on, continuing that through Pitt-Colorado (1:40), and Cincy-Harvard (2:10). At 3pm we'll switch to the hockey game vs Penn State, go to Michigan State's game after that, and that should carry us to the Michigan-Wofford game tonight.
GO BLUE! Always.
This is how Brady Hoke sees an 'M'. [Upchurch]
Recruits: if you are reading this, do not believe the man in the red/crimson track suit telling you that criticism of Brady Hoke or his staff means Michigan is going to lose him anytime soon. Those are very bad men who are likely to have you downsized to Southern Alabama or regularly featured in photographs and articles that highlight how bad you are at tackling. You also should pay no attention to bloggers who suggest you should ride pine until 2016 and that your future coach needs to win X amount of games until then to even be his coach. Also I shouldn't be talking to you.
Fifth-year seniors >>>>>>> freshmen on special teams. That's why I strongly disagree with the conclusions of AC1997's assessment of this year's redshirting, while appreciating the hell out of the diary (quick read, too). The only one he's mad about is Da'Mario Jones, while Bosch and York are "questionable." I know we did this recently in a roundtable but my take is different:
- Obviously play him: Smith, Butt, Gedeon. All were effective and needed.
- Not mad but needed a shirt: Shane—we've discussed this. Green but you kind of have to play five-stars. Bosch but chances are good there's still two decent 2017 starting guards out of Samuelson, Dawson, and Mason Cole and other 2014/15 recruits.
Me in 2017 is (probably) very upset about this. [Fuller]
- Mad: The safeties and receivers and here's our big disagreement. Dymonte Thomas and Delano Hill are perfect examples of the reason we have a tag about burning redshirts on special teams. Jones & York—Mathlete keeps telling us that returning experience at receiver is a strong indicator of a good offense and vice versa, and unless a receiver has a massive talent lead on the DBs trying to cover him WR effectiveness is about route running and blocking and reps reps reps.
- Pick ONE cursed freshman corner: Both Jourdan Lewis and Channing Stribling played, both were pretty good for freshmen, one was needed. Theory: Uber recruits tend to cast a shadow on recruiting their positions, so it's important to have good stocks ahead of them (see: Russell Bellomy/Shane Morris situation). Peppers doesn't fill a depth chart by himself, and if he really is Woodson reincarnate* he'll be gone to the NFL after winning the 2016 Heisman and then we're left with Whitley and Howard.**
At the risk of sounding like every NFL columnist who thinks every franchise needs to adopt the strategy of whichever team just won the Superbowl, the reason Michigan State and Wisconsin have been to Indianapolis twice apiece, despite recruiting classes that top out like our (mediocre-for-Michigan) 2011 haul, is because they redshirt almost everybody and keep them around.
It's a luxury of stable programs, and Michigan is still paying for not being one of those for the latter half of the 2000s. Denard would have been nice to have this year, obviously. How badly did you wish for Vincent Smith when the RBs were getting Gardner killed? How's Michigan's pass rush if you add fifth years from Roh and Campbell to it? Brandin Hawthorne could have let you put a shirt on Gedeon. Developed talent is good. Fifth year seniors are good. Leastways they're better than a marginal improvement in kickoff coverage for a team that rarely scores touchdowns.
*[Nobody is Woodson reincarnate. The thing about the greatest players in the history of the game is they don't grow on trees.]
** [I mean who wants 1998 Todd Howard starting? He's a true freshman. He's short. He doesn't know how to press yet. He's…he's right behind me isn't he?
Nope, he's over there by Brian.]
That's not what I expected. Okay, reader. Zoom out, cock your head sideways, and tell me with just a glance what you think this diary was about:
Turnover analysis? A deep look inside offensive stats? An estimated timetable for improvement? Nope: try a "when do we fire this guy" post.
Deep, statistical analysis to answer rhetorical fan questions that have simple answers not requiring statistics (Michigan isn't firing Brady Hoke anytime soon): these are my readers tag activated. Really it's a case of bad title—what he's doing is comparing Hoke's coaching stops to those of the most successful coaches in recent history, concluding that Michigan needs to win 20 games in the next two seasons (and probably a national championship) to have his name placed among that pantheon. Expectations are probably around 17, with the fanbase getting mighty grumpy if that number dips below 16.
Your regular etc. LSA tackles (ha!) the defense, which straddled the B+/A- line all year until it faced Miller-Hyde without its middle linebackers.
[After the jump: a very meta board]
Join us tomorrow night (November 15), from 6-9 pm at Moe's Cantina River North for an evening of beer, bitching about Borges, and basketball.
- Q&A Session with Brian Cook and Todd Howard and the staff of MGoBlog!
- Drinking with other MGoReaders!
- Bitching and moaning, mostly regarding the offensive coaching!
- We already mentioned the Q&A, didn't we!
- More drinking!
- Snark (probably)!
- Celebrity deathmatch of Henri the Otter of Ennui vs. Tacopants!
- Talking about the Michigan's hockey team (if you let us)!
- Absolutely no justification whatsoever for the exclamation marks in these bullet points!
Will be at
155 W. Kinzie St., Chicago, IL 60654, one block north of the Chicago River between LaSalle and N Wells. M: Merchandise Mart.
WSG: Todd Howard, who will arrive around 8 p.m. for the Q&A and hang out after.
HT DeSimone (Sorry but the next best photos of him were all getting torched by a giant Plaxico)
Who still has a couple of spots and tickets left if you're like hmmm I think I'll go to Chicago this weekend.