"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
John L Smith
Now that college football season is nearly upon us, and wildly inspired by Cracked.com’s Sunday article, “The 5 Most Creative Acts of Insanity by Modern Dictators”, I couldn’t help but wonder if I could get my creative, historical snark on and write up a tome on similarly bat-shit college football coaches. After all, this a world where Bo Pellini, Les Miles and Wil Muschamp prowl the sidelines.
The amazing thing I learned in writing this diary is that a coach need not be named “GERG” to engage in motivational hilarity, and that our former Defensive Coordinator’s pep talk with a fur-covered hand puppet didn’t even make my Top 5 (though it might have been #6 since we were all left asking “What. The.F-ck?”). Neither did Rich Rodriguez’s use of YouTube and ten gallon hats and Josh Groban.
Google “insane college football coaches”, and you’ll get nearly 2.8 million hits, and not one of them will mention so much as a sock monkey (go ahead and check – I’ll wait).
#5 Brian Kelly Tries to Recreate That Scene from “Scanners”
You know the one I mean. Against a mediocre South Florida team in 2011, Notre Dame head coach, Brian Kelly, went all Bobby Knight after his team coughed up its third turn-over of the game. Now, I imagine that he was just reacting as most ND fans did at that moment, what with the Irish deep in Bulls territory and threatening to score, and all.
Still, Coach Kelly managed to put the “A” in “apoplectic”, nearly having a stroke on the sidelines that was captured and replayed by media talking heads far and wide for the next week and on opposing fan sites long after. There are MGoUsers who actually have the photo of the key moment as their avatars, and they’re probably not the only ones.
#4 Lane Kiffin Holds a Press Conference for the Recruit That Never Was
Back in World War II, the British made Mincemeat of the Nazis by staging an elaborate ruse that involved a real dead man, a fake identity, a submarine and a clown car (I’m finding the last bit difficult to confirm) in an effort to make the Germans believe the forthcoming Allied landings in Sicily were going to be anywhere but Sicily. Everyone who has ever head-faked their dog by pretend-throwing a Frisbee knows how the trick works. The Allies were delighted to find that Hitler was a lot more trusting than a retriever, who sent his army chasing a stick out near Malta while the Allies were invading Sicily.
Evidently taking a page from British history (or not, Lane Kiffin doesn’t strike me as the type to open a lot of books) the coach decided to stage a fake press conference for nine recruits to Tennessee in 2009. Unfortunately for him, that’s an NCAA violation.
But Coach Kiffin didn’t stop there.
Continuing with the “World War II” theme, the coach channeled Humphrey Bogart and the end of Casablanca by installing a fog machine to simulate a “game environment” for those same recruits, which is also an NCAA violation. No word on whether he was also thinking about adding a disco ball and the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack.
#3 Marshall Strength Coaches Think Kevin Bacon is a Pussy
Taking the term “hot seat” into uncharted territory, not only was the Omega house initiation apparently used as a how-to guide for motivating the Thundering Herd, but Marshall’s former staff upped the ante by lighting the paddles on fire.
With their breath.
Fortunately for Matthew McConaughey, none of the players on the business end seemed to enjoy lunches of double bean burritos and egg salad sandwiches. He’s done that movie once and his agent has probably insisted that he’s not interested in filming a We Are Marshall sequel, no matter how hot he is for January Jones.
#2 Woody Hayes Forgets That Size Does Matter
Speaking of wood, this story comes to us courtesy of Urbz himself, who claims he witnessed the event. I don’t normally speak ill of the dead but I’m making an exception in this case because Ohio State.
For those of you too creeped out to watch Urban Meyer (and who isn't?), I'll give you the gist of it. Evidently, Woody had advanced to that age where he no longer had a useful purpose for Little Woody, or at least one of the two that Nature most intended. So, just like in that heart-tugging ending from Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree, the old coach said “F- You!” to PETA, dug deep and pulled one out (of his pants).
After a humbling bowl loss, then-Buckeye head coach, Earle Bruce, asked Woody to come in and give a pep talk to the coaches on toughness. Immediately after berating the current staff on its lack of meddle, Hayes opened a box to reveal a snapping turtle, whipped his (apparently seldom used) baby maker out of his trousers, and demonstrated for Earle’s staff what a real man is capable of doing that they aren’t.
In case it’s not readily apparent what he did, I’ll let you use your imaginations or read the story yourselves. It hurts below my waistline to even write about it.
I feel awful for the turtle. Reptile or not, no species of plant or animal should have to do that for a Buckeye. And it got a poke in the eye for its troubles.
Thank God Bo didn’t bring every one of Woody’s lasting lesson with him to Ann Arbor.
#1 John L. Smith Tries to Get the Voices in His Head to Stop
What? You thought I wouldn’t remember this one?
In the raw vote (which I conducted solely inside my head) this episode of The Ball Coach Be Crazy Yo’ only finished second. But since this happened while he was still in the process of earning the Sparty No! Lifetime Achievement Award, and it was caught on camera by everyone, and it’s been replayed eleventy billion times, and he later went on to become some kind of Bat Shit Superhero at Arkansas, he’s earned the outright top spot in my list.
In doing the research for this story, I realized I could have written it as “Top 5 Reasons JLS is Insane”, but that would have been too easy. And it’s probably already been done.
As always, your mileage may vary.
Really have to wonder if things can get much worse for the guy.
College Football 101
100. Funny Press Conferences
You can't go wrong with funny press conferences. The interesting thing about press conferences is that they are the only time you hear from coaches and players. We fans tend to define coaches and players by their responses in press conferences. Brady Hoke said, "This is Michigan for God's sake!" That made Michigan fans like him right away. Les Miles seems like a funny and crazy guy because that's how he responds in press conferences. We don't know these coaches personally, so we shouldn't assume this is how they are. But anyways, here are my top five press conferences that are guaranteed to make you laugh.
This one's not for content.. Just for laughs.
- John L Smith Slaps Himself
- Urban Meyer: You're a Bad Man
- Brendan Gibbons Brunette Girls
5. Have a Great Day
Les Miles has many funny press conferences, but here is what he had to say about the rumors of him coaching at his alma mater-- Michigan.
4. John L Smith after Ohio loss
Not only did John L Smith slap himself after losing to Notre Dame, but he got just a little upset at his coaching staff after this one...
3. I'm a Man; I'm 40
Although some people think this is not funny, it truly is. What is really happening is OSU coach Mike Gundy stepping up for his player-- or at least his idea of it. He calls out the reporter and says some things that you usually wouldn't hear at a press conference.
2. Steve Spurrier and Ron Morris
This is just halarious! Steve Spurrier called out Ron Morris and basically said, "I'm going to do individual interviews for everyone except Ron Morris because he sucks." He goes on and on and on. This is a classic.
1. We Need More Dogs
NOTHING BEATS THIS! This is awesome! I don't need to say anything. Just watch the video.. Meow
Hope you all got a good laugh out of this!
Check back tomorrow for some good content. It's the first rivalry. Also, Michigan Football 101 starts tomorrow. See who or what is #101.
This is probably a bad idea right now the way people are divided and I'm not making this comparison with negative intentions (though for Rich Rodriguez supporters, just mentioning the name John L Smith is bad enough, the guy's reputation is radioactive). And just for full disclosure I'll say up front that I would be in favor of getting rid of Rich Rodriguez and replacing him with Harbaugh.
All that said, this probably won't go over well but all I'm really trying to put forth is the stats (and let people draw their own conclusions). Maybe this against my better judgement and I'm just asking for trouble/being overly provactive. All I can say is that I'm not intentionally starting to stir up trouble. Going to try and just present the data and let people draw their own conclusions. With that said, I think the year three comparison of the two coaches is troubling.
Went with this comparison for three reasons
1) John L Smith represents the worst case scenario. Those who want to get rid of Rich Rodriguez fear that we just have another version of John L Smith (whether this fear is justified or not). Someone who gets the job done on the offensive side of the ball, but who can't build a complete team. And to be clear, there's no definitive answer here.
2) Easy comparison because John L Smith is someone who most Michigan fans are pretty familiar with.
3)From what I remember (and my memory of the John L Smith years has faded a bit) there were similiar kinds of problems. Good offense, bad defense (especially secondary wise). Had the tendancy to start the season well, but fade once MSU hit the meat of their schedule.
Below are relevant stats that I've pulled
Record for three years before Rodriguez or John L Smith
|MSU||U of M|
Year One Comparison
|John L Smith||Rich Rodriguez|
|Record||8-5 (started 7-1)||3-9|
|Total Yards||367.38 yards per game (73rd)||290.75 yards per game (109th)|
|Passing Yards||270 yards per game (23rd)||143.17 yards per game (108th)|
|Rushing Yards||97.38 yards per game (111th)||147.58 yards per game (59th)|
|Points||27.92 points per game (49th)||20.25 points per game (101st)|
|Total Yards||379.92 yards per game(62nd)||366.92 yards per game (67th)|
|Passing Yards||255.15 yards per game(97th)||230 yards per game (87th)|
|Rushing Yards||124.8 yards per game(27th)||136.92 yards per game (50th)|
|Points||22.5 points per game (40th)||28.92 points per game (84th)|
Year Two Comparison
|John L Smith||Rich Rodriguez|
|Record||5-7||5-7 (started 4-0)|
|Total Yards||460 yards per game (10th)||384.50 yards per game (59th)|
|Passing Yards||221.50 yards per game (51st)||198.33 yards per game (81st)|
|Rushing Yards||238.50 yards per game (10th)||186.17 yards per game (25th)|
|Points||29.42 points per game (38th)||29.50 points per game (41st)|
|Total Yards||381.42 yards per game (42nd)||393.33 yards per game (82nd)|
|Passing Yards||209 yards per game (54th)||221.42 yards per game (67th)|
|Rushing Yards||172.42 yards per game (73rd)||171.92 yards per game (91st)|
|Points||27.17 points per game (72nd)||27.50 points per game (77th)|
Year Three Comparison
|John L Smith||Rich Rodriguez|
|Record||5-6(started 4-0)||7-5 (started 5-0)|
|Total Yards||497.27 yards per game (5th)||500.92 yards per game (6th)|
|Passing Yards||295.45 yards per game (11th)||249.83 yards per game (34th)|
|Rushing Yards||201.82 yards per game (20th)||251.08 yards per game (11th)|
|Points||33.82 points per game (18th)||34.33 points per game (23rd)|
|Total Yards||409.55 yards per game (87th)||447.92 yards per game (109th)|
|Passing Yards||244.91 yards per game (85th)||260.25 yards per game (110th)|
|Rushing Yards||164.64 yards per game(76th)||187.67 yards per game (94th)|
|Points||28.73 points per game (77th)||33.83 yards per game (102nd)|
John L Smith Year 4
|Record||4-8 (started season 3-0)|
|Total Yards||356.75 yards per game (48th)|
|Passing Yards||227.58 yards per game (35th)|
|Rushing Yards||129.17 yards per game (65th)|
|Points||25.17 points per game (52nd)|
|Total Yards||363.75 yards per game (88th)|
|Passing Yards||230.92 yards per game (97th)|
|Rushing Yards||132.83 yards per game (56th)|
|Points||28.73 points per game (77th)|
I was too lazy to do so, but another data point that's probably worth taking into account are the relevant offensive and defensive measures in the three years prior to RichRod and John L Smith. This also doesn't take into account attrition numbers that each coach had to deal with (well documentated in Rich Rodriguez's case, no idea when it comes to MSU).
Editing Notes: made some changes with stats so presentation is better plus fixed typo in title.
During the Purdue meltdown, the announcers made mention of Michigan's fragile psyche and how the team seemed to collapse when a play or two went against it. Right about the time we surrendered the ill-covered on-side kick, followed by a 50+ yd TD bomb to a wide-open WR, I started thinking about what this Michigan team reminded me of.
Not exactly the 2005 UM team, Lloyd's worst team that finished 7-5. I only wished that we could have that team back again, at least their record. That team blew 2nd half leads to Wisconsin, Minnesota, OSU, and Nebraska in losing gut-wrenching games. Without the Henne-to-Manningham TD at the end of the PSU game and a great catch by Jason Avant in OT at Iowa (which set up the winning TD), we would have lost 6 games that we led in the 2nd half. But, that team still did deliver a few beautiful wins, including two on the road. (I was at both the PSU win and at Iowa for the OT win in back-to-back weeks.)
So...just who did 2009 UM resemble?
Well, consider the 2005 MSU team. They started with a few easy wins and then a thriller of a win at ND in OT. You might recall that a few zealous Spartan players promptly planted the S flag on the ND field (a mighty classless act that has NOT been duplicated by any RichRod teams in the past, even going back to WVU).
Sparty then rolled to victory two more times, including a blowout win at Illinois. UM stumbled into East Lansing a humbled 2-2, playing Sparty at 4-0. This was finally the chance to bury UM and possibly send them home without a bowl game at all. The game went back and forth, before UM blew a chance to win at the end, when Garrett Rivas shanked a short FG, similar to the Olnesavage shank yesterday vs. OSU. Sparty missed a FG (barely) in OT, and Rivas drilled the game winner.
Sparty proceeded to lose 4 of the next 5 games and then faced a must-win home game vs. PSU. Sparty played well but lost 31-22. Sparty QB Drew Stanton had a bunch of turnovers, similar to Forcier yesterday. Sparty ended home for the year, even though UM felt down after the season, losing an uninspired Alamo Bowl game to a Bill-Callahan-coached Nebraska team (Callahan = Ron Zook w/o the recruiting ability).
While NO bad season revolves around 1 or 2 bad plays, most seasons that turn sour seem to have a key southward-turning point. MSU's undoubtedly occurred during a classic John L meltdown at the end of the half vs. OSU. MSU had a surprising 17-7 lead and was trying a FG on the last play of the half. MSU had 10 men on the field and the FG was blocked and returned for a TD. MSU fell apart and never recovered. It seemed that the final blow wasn't the OT loss to UM, but the bumbled FG and subsequent meltdown at OSU. One play turned about an entire season. Once things bombed, morale sank to the depths of the ocean floor. Even a great coach would have struggled helping that team turn it around.
Our meltdown moment was that 1st and goal vs. Illinois, up 13-7, ready to go up 20-7. Nothing went right the rest of that game and, except for a quarter here or there of good play, we melted. Just like if Sparty hadn't blown the FG vs. OSU in 2005, I think they would have probably found a way to win enough to make a bowl game. Ditto for 2009 UM.
What needs to happen between now and September 2010 to avoid the "John L" fate?
Well, for one, RichRod should KEEP his staff together (as he stated he would). If improvement is only a matter of guys getting more time in his "system" then keeping the system the same makes sense, even if it isn't popular. I'm tired of change. All I want is improvement.
Second, RichRod needs to be more of a Dr. Phil in the off-season. Bo was always easier and supportive of his players when they were down. We don't really need anyone transferring out right now. Let's face it, Tate's unscripted text messages show how down he feels! Yelling has a place in this world of coaching (laziness, silly personal fouls, etc.), but this team seems (at least on the surface) to be together more than it is not.
Finally, enough of the "hey we're improving even if you don't see it on Saturday" comments! Be specific. If a guy is making great strides in practice, tell everyone who and what. After a game, mention the plays/situations where we made improvement from 2008-09. I'm hoping to here RichRod say sometime next year: "last year, Tate would have thrown it here and not waited for a another second or two, and that's why we got the winning TD today."
UConn will be ready to roll next year when we open up the new Big House. We have 10 months to get ready.