It might be happening, and soon. Chatter has picked up after the most recent last straw. Today I've gotten two reports that Brandon is resigning in… a couple hours(!). One comes second-hand from within the department, the other second-hand from the regents*. Premium sites seem to have the same chatter.
Prior to what seems like a major shift today but after the most recent last straw I had heard that the next bye week (ie, after Northwestern) was a point at which something might happen, with another independent report from within the department asserting that knives were being sharpened, and a report from one of the events being held in the run up to the regents' election that he was done in a couple weeks.
The the emails supposedly blunted a lot of pushback Brandon's supporters were trying to muster. While you should keep in mind that someone who would relate this to me might be inclined to believe such a thing, John Borton is… uh… not so inclined, and he asserted that white flags are being waved($) inside the department. Sorry if that sounds like self-tootin'. Nobody likes a self-tooter.
*[Note: I endorsed Mike Behm. I should clarify that none of this comes from him or his camp.]
I am told by several sources there will be a 1:30 press conference at UM involving the president to discuss AD Dave Brandon
— angelique (@chengelis) October 31, 2014
Dave Brandon is resigning as Michigan’s AD, source told @ESPN. Press conference this afternoon
— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) October 31, 2014
On the nature of Hoke, life, the universe, and everything. Upcoming Christopher Nolan movie Interstellar went to great lengths to produce the above image, the best yet of what a black hole looks like based on the mathematics of relativity—not just the lensing of space behind it but the surprising twisting of the accretion disc around it due to the warping of space where it's formed.
What's spooky about it is the thing you're seeing isn't the thing that exists. What exists is a disc around a spinning supermass, like Saturn's rings. What you're seeing however is space itself getting so warped by that mass that you can see it in 4D, bending space like a piece of paper.
Best and Worst posted a trailer for Interstellar and raved about the "our place in the dirt" quote while neglecting to mention the one in there by Dylan Thomas:
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
This is how I want Michigan to finish the season: certain of its own mortality, fighting anyway. Last year's blowout to MSU was an apocalypse, but at that moment I was profoundly mad, not embarrassed. I was embarrassed when they went out flat and uncaring against Mississippi State in the Gator Bowl. Whenever I wonder if we were right to can Rodriguez when we did, I remember that act of cowardice. Whenever I wonder if we're being too hard on Brady, I think on how he gives up without looking like giving up. Bronx had a different explanation:
This might be semantics, but I don't think Hoke is a quitter. He's (sadly) calling the game the same way in the 1st quarter as he is in the 4th quarter. He's like the worst movie version of artificial intelligence.
So he's a robot who faces adversity by going back to his safe place, i.e. the way Lloyd Carr would coach a 1st quarter. I'm not buying it. I think he closes up shop when he thinks it's hopeless, and believes we're not smart enough to notice it.
Ron Utah nevertheless argues that at least that Brady is an essentially good man. I subscribe to the DFW method of rating people: their expectations of other people tend to be the greatest insight into how they themselves think. For example the dude on the board who thinks everything is about political warfare is just a really partisan dude. Brandon's emails were relevant not because they explain how he alienated fans—if he wrote 300 of these that's still a thousandth of the 300k waiting list his policies expunged. Rather they showed us how arrogant Brandon thinks his critics are, thus how truly arrogant Brandon is.
Hoke's goodness is best exemplified, perhaps, in his weaknesses as a coach. He doesn't ever seem prepared for enemies who want to gut him, because he doesn't have that killer instinct. Perhaps he doesn't push his players hard enough—maybe that comes from not expecting other coaches to be doing so. His players seem stunned when there's a cheap shot against them—we look at that like "where's your spirit?!"" but it could just be they're not the type of dudes who expect the other team is trying to scramble their brains.
It is a mistake to see the obvious flaws in Hoke and assume we would make better head coaches. It is not a mistake to see these flaws and assume more successful head coaches would make better head coaches. Perhaps it was our own naivety to think Michigan's particular advantages could compensate for the weakness of goodness.
This football program is as doomed as matter in an accretion disc. Some of the players in it won't be here (Peppers at least said he will be the last to leave), and there's no guarantee that the next step will take us to the dark core of the black hole or shooting out into space to form a new star. Michigan looks headed to 4-8 by Massey estimates, which LSA matrixcised.
This is mathematical reality. The above is how the universe is arranged. But what separates life from every other arrangement of matter is how we approach our doom. Life doesn't just ride the mathematics arc until it spirals into nothingness. Life rages.
It probably won't change anything, but the players on this doomed team plan to rage against that probability. It almost certainly won't change anything, but most fans have chosen to march back to the Big House, and the other home field in Evanston, and even down to the darkest place in the universe, and rage against the dying of the light.
If you'd like to do so and don't have tickets, head to this thread before 3pm today and tell us about the crazy thing you've done. I'm now up to 8 tickets to give away.
[Jump for metaphysical beings—ghouls, goblins, zombies, etc.]
[Ed-Seth: Reminder what this is since it's been on hiatus: Jamiemac of Just Cover Blog and the MGoPodcast was dragged out of quasi-retirement to give us an odds-angle view of relevance to you, and Draft Kings offered to to sponsor it, and puts up a fantasy game to commune in so you can use sports knowledge to win currency of relevance to you.]
THIS WEEK'S GAME: NOT JUST SHOOTING
Well you can kinda-sorta have him back. You can draft Nik Stauskas on your Draft Kings fantasy squad. In fact the Sacramento rookie is only $3,400, like half of the mean.
Not saying you should draft him since McLemore played Wednesday and is holding onto his starting spot for now. I also noticed they got Jamal Crawford at an unreasonable $5,400—that's got to be a combination of his playoff run and holding off new daddy J.J. Redick in the preseason. The points system favors guys who take more shots behind the arc and those who get multiple double digit stats, not just shootersDRINK!
(No Burke/McGary/THJ/GR3 this week because they all play on Saturday)
-$30,000 prize pool.
- First place wins $5,000
- $2 entry fee (FREE with fist deposit).
- Top 4,000 are paid.
- Starts on Friday, October, 31st at 7:00 EST
- Salary Cap Style Drafting. $50,000 to select 8 spots
- Roster Format: 1 PG, 1 SG, 1 SF, 1 PF, 1 C, 1 G, 1 F and 1 Util.
- First time depositors at DraftKings receive a 100% bonus up to $600
Take the link.
THIS WEEK'S CHALK: A PLACE WHERE MICHIGAN-INDIANA MEANS SOMETHING
There is a place where Michigan has a three-game winning streak over Ohio State. Where they have won six of nine against Michigan State. Where the Wolverines are defending Big Ten Champions. This place has hardwood flooring.
On January 27, 2011, Zack Novak’s aneurysm of leadership burst, Stuart Douglass swished a decisive 3-pointer, and Michigan upset the 11-point favorite MSU Spartans at the Breslin Center. Big 10 Basketball has not been the same since.
[After the jump: journey to Jamie Mac's Big Ten basketball preview, a place where Michigan regularly beats the spread]
Previously: Indiana Offense
the first one went well, at least
I don't think anybody would describe Iowa's offense as "explosive." They're 125th in the country (out of 128 teams) with just 19 plays from scrimmage that have gone for 20+ yards.
Four of those occurred against Indiana. Two went for 60+ yards; they've had one other such play all year. While the Hoosiers defense has taken a small step forward from 2013's pathetic group, it's just that: a small step. The Indiana defense remains the Indiana defense, and that provides quite a bit of hope for Saturday.
Personnel: The diagram [click to embiggen]:
Indiana brings back plenty of experience from last year's group; you can decide whether or not that's a good thing.
Base Set? 3-4, for the most part. This is how Indiana set up versus two receivers against the Hawkeyes, with a safety rolled up to the line:
And here they are against three wide:
They'll have "BANDIT" Nick Mangieri—essentially a DE—put his hand in the dirt on occasion; for the most part, though, they go with three down linemen and shade the strongside linebacker over the slot, keeping their base personnel on the field most of the time.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the breakdown.]
FORMATION NOTES: MSU spent the entire game in their base 4-3 over aside from some passing downs in which they went to a 3-3-5.
Michigan was about as usual, with nothing particularly weird to call out.
SUBSTITUTION NOTES: Nothing unusual. Canteen got some more run than he has in the past.
[After THE JUMP: a very brief discussion and some charts.]
[ED (Seth): We picked up Joe Pichey from MMMGoBluBBQ to share his tailgating recipes, and Stubb's offered to sponsor it. This is one of those things where the BBQ sauce people really liked our blog and the bloggers really liked the BBQ sauce, and this all ends badly for domesticated livestock.]
I was looking over the first seven recipes and noticed something very disturbing. One of my favorites is nowhere to be found. Where is the CLUCKIN’ Chicken recipe? We’ve got plenty of beef recipes and even a pork tenderloin slider post, but the juicy “yard bird” is missing.
I think the best way to fix this is by posting the juiciest chicken recipe ever with the name that will make us all laugh like we were back in middle school. SPATCHCOCK CHICKEN. This is my go-to chicken recipe when I need to feed a group of hungry Wolverines and feed 'em rather quickly. While I love a great Beer Can Chicken, I think this recipe could be the juiciest one yet. The compound butter packs some huge flavor and produces a super crispy skin. What else can you ask for?
- 3-4 LB Whole Chicken Fryer
- BBQ rub of your choice
Compound Butter: Mix Together and set aside
- 1 stick of butter (Room Temperature)
- 1/4 cup of your favorite BBQ rub or any other spices you like. Garlic is great in the butter
[After the jump, there are worse things you can do to chicken than beating it under the lights.]
News bullets and other items:
Hoke says what they tell recruits hasn’t changed. Added that most kids are “…going to be committed to what this place has to offer”
Hoke thinks that the staff is developing young players and points to guys like Chris Wormley, Kyle Kalis, and Ben Braden as examples
Jabrill Peppers is “frustrated” about being unable to play, but Hoke said there’s not a point of no return as far as whether he plays again this season
Hoke added that one of the things to consider when discussing a redshirt with a player is whether it looks like they’ll stay four or five years or whether they’ll be gone sooner
“Thanks for coming. Obviously it's been a very exciting week with homecoming this weekend. Michigan is such a global University that people all over the world, they pick a game to come back for and a lot of them pick homecoming so that part is exciting, to have them back in Ann Arbor. Another opportunity for us to play at the greatest stadium in this country and play in front of our fans, our families, our students, who I thought with the Penn State game were excellent and really the energy they supplied to the team was great.
“Indiana – obviously we practiced yesterday. We had a good practice. I thought the energy was really good. I know you got to talk to some of the guys afterwards. The competitive nature of our team has not changed. The hard work has not changed and so it's great to be back out on the field because once you start putting in game plans you obviously move quickly from game to game but I thought that's been real positive.
Indiana offensively: Tevin Coleman, Shane Wynn, Stoner – Nick Stoner, the receiver. They've got good playmakers and obviously Colman, with his ability. They've got an offensive line that I think between the two-deep there’s 160 starts, so there's quite a few guys who have a lot of experience. Coleman himself [is] very explosive. I'm sure you've watched him closely but he does a nice job at the point of attack, at the line of scrimmage and he’s explosive off the ball and that part of it is something when you see a lot of long runs, a lot of big plays that he creates.
“It's important for us to do a great job with cupping the ball, leveraging the ball or however you want to call it. That means cutback players, chase-contain players, plug support players being in the right position and having the right fits and getting off blocks from the interior. For us this week it's about getting better and getting better every day we go on the field.”
Obviously when you hired Doug [Nussmeier] you expected a lot more from the offense than you've gotten. What are the things in terms of your evaluation of him you haven't gotten as much or –
“I think he's a tremendous football coach. I think we've had some things not go the way we’d like them to whether it's points, rushing, all those things. I think from when we hired Doug, and I’d say the same thing from [my perspective] right now, he's a great football coach, a great communicator, a great mind.”
Did he tell you that it was going to take longer to-?
“I don't think he knew the personnel as well. I think that's always something, but I think I don't ever see a coach who was not confident in what they can do saying, ‘Well, it's going to take four years or five years,’ something like that. To me you're just setting yourself up for excuses. Doug is very sure of himself and he projects that. I think he's added a lot to our offense and our personality offensively.”
What do you think is the biggest issue with the offense?
“Well, we haven’t blocked it all the time as well as we can. I think we’re a lot better there. I think you can go game by game and probably start with turnovers. The turnover thing is huge in pro football, in college football and so I think that – you don't get drives, all those things.”
[After THE JUMP: Recruiting and Peppers substance-like stuff]
[ED: been slightly crazy around here recently, so UFR delayed. Look for both halves tomorrow. Not that they'll tell you anything you didn't already know.]
continuing this week's theme
The response. Brandon on the emails:
"I don't read blogs so I think it's nonsense. … I'm here to get an award tonight, so I appreciate you showing up, but that's not why I'm here."
Would you describe this award as… major?
Also, from former CSG president Mike Proppe:
I've had multiple conversations with Dave Brandon. He has talked about @mgoblog before. So...yeah.
— Michael Proppe (@mikeproppe) October 29, 2014
Doesn't seem to be working. You know it's bad when the Alumni association publishes a piece titled "Alumni React to Lower Football Student Ticket Prices" and this is the nicest thing in it:
"If the students are not part of the Athletic tradition, then it becomes just a business and commercial venture."
It's nice because it says "if." Other choice excerpts:
"I come to Ann Arbor to remember the days that I lived there, that I went to games with friends, that I remembered cheering for MY team. If I wanted a corporate culture, I'd just go to an NFL game."
"The athletic department procedures have emptied the cupboard of alumni support over the last several years and it will take a significant change within the department to bolster the level of support and fervor that existed then."
"It's appalling that the students are the ones being seen as just one more "market" to be considered...without student support of the University, you will eventually lose alumni support."
The comments are another continual carpet-bombing, including this comment left by Steve Strinko:
Our 1974 Football team is being honored at Homecoming and we did get 1 complimentary ticket, however, I am bringing the allotted three guests at a cost of $75 per ticket. Seem crazy to pay $225 for my family to join me at this event. Oh well, the state of Michigan Athletics, or at least football.
Strinko was the starting MLB on the 1974 team.
This is from the alumni association! When you've lost the alumni association, who do you have left?
This was made a month ago. Sometimes marketing does help, because how did no one see this until 11W?
Ripped from the headlines.
— Ben Fidelman (@TMDFidelman) October 29, 2014
— Ben Fidelman (@TMDFidelman) October 29, 2014
Hope Brandon's taking this pass/fail.
It could have been much worse. In general, football games that feel like Michigan's latest outing aren't close. They are even less close than 35-11. Bill Connelly:
In the end, even with State's late touchdown, the final score of Michigan State 35, Michigan 11 was kind to the losing team. The Spartans doubled the Wolverines on a per-play basis (6.6 yards to 3.3) and more than doubled them up in total yardage (446 to 186). And the game was played at a snail's pace, too (125 total plays) -- even an average pace would have resulted in a Spartan win of 30-plus points.
Finally, a justification for being the slowest team in the country.
I… I can say nothing. Here is an Indiana blog talking about football, and landing body blows.
I, an Indiana football fan, feel bad for you.
Welcome to the Big Ten Underworld, Wolverine fans. The days are long, the nights are filled with six-touchdown losses to Ohio State, and one in every 5-7 seasons ends in a post-Christmas bowl in Detroit. Your program is now on a comparable level to a partly-incapacitated Indiana.
Well, at least I…
By my count, Diamont only kept it on a zone read one other time. Given the state of the quarterback position, I imagine Diamont was under fairly strict instructions to hand the ball off to Coleman early and often. Probably for the same reason, we also didn’t see Diamont running any speed option or QB draw. He looked mobile on a few rollouts and he did a decent job of running for his life when Sparty put him under pressure.
To sum it up, as we discussed last week, expecting anything out of Diamont in this game was unrealistic. If we define “expecting nothing” as expecting Diamont to account for zero yards rushing or passing, well…somehow Zander failed to meet expectations. In non-garbage time, Diamont threw for -2 yards and ran for –12. While the numbers are troubling, I was more concerned with the way he missed a number of somewhat simple throws. He missed all four of the 5-7-yard hitches/outs he attempted, and three of the four weren’t close. His two attempts to get the ball downfield to Wynn missed badly.
Punt John Punt, it's called. Never say I didn't do anything for you, Jamie.
THE SMOKING GUNNNNNN. I feel confident in asserting this gentleman has a beard, on his neck.
Something nice. Basketball will hold an open practice on Wednesday from 6 to 7. Not today. Next Wednesday.
A blast from the past. A USCHO poster has unearthed and scanned in a program from the 1983 Michigan Tech-Michigan series—the last time M traveled to Houghton.
Quite an artifact.
[HT: SBN CH]
You may not be doing this right. I've seen a few different message board threads stating that Doug Karsch said that he's talked to two sources in the Brandon camp who are "bracing for a change"—same language in multiple places, so I thought it was pretty legit. So I wander over to 97.1's podcasts page and find that the only item posted today is…
John Gasaway on offensive rebounding and how you shouldn't totally ignore it in favor of transition D. Michigan is classified as a team that "de-emphasizes" OREBs, FWIW, and is not exhorted to crash the glass. Northwestern is.
Tevin Coleman is terrifying. Indiana's quarterback situation sans injured starter Nate Sudfeld is, too, but for the Hoosiers, not opposing defenses.
I guess you can read on, but add in "they go fast" and there's your scouting report in a nutshell.
Personnel. The diagram, via Seth [click to embiggen]:
Quarterback Nate Sudfeld injured his shoulder early in the second quarter of the Iowa game; he's out for the year, and after true freshman Chris Covington struggled mightily in his stead—3/12, 31 yards, 2 INTs against the Hawkeyes—they lifted a redshirt off two-star true freshman Zander Diamont. Diamont couldn't do a thing the next week against Michigan State—5/15, 11 yards—but he's coming off a bye week and should be more prepared to at least provide a vague threat of the pass this weekend.
Spread, Pro-Style, or Hybrid? Very spread. I charted the first half of the Iowa game; the only Hoosier snap from under center came when they hurried to the line for a 4th-and-1 QB sneak.
Basketball on Grass or MANBALL? IU mostly runs zone blocking concepts, letting Tevin Coleman pick a gap and go hard upfield.
Hurry it up or grind it out? Ludicrous speed, though that might slow down a bit with a true freshman taking the snaps.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the breakdown.]
[ED: Hey guys! Ace is looking for a few good questions for a basketball season preview mailbag. Hit him up at firstname.lastname@example.org.]
Meta-response about yesterday's post.
[ED: I normally hack out praise from these emails in an effort to be as concise as possible but it was not possible to do so here without making bronx sound like a jerk.]
I've been trying to think of a better way to ask this, but I can't so I'll just come out with it:
What is/was your goal with reporting about the Brandon emails?
Man, yeah, that comes across as condescending. Let me try to explain.
I'm not saying they shouldn't be given their due. and I respect the hell out of you and Ace putting in the effort to figure out their veracity; count me in the camp of people who doubted WD's initial post due to the inconsistencies in his story. Following through on the story and backing it up with multiple sources is the type of reporting you don't expect to see from a "fan" site, and yet you guys did better work than I've seen in a long time from more established media members in the community. Heck, it's basically you guys and the Daily kicking ass in that department.
But once the dust settles, how do you see this information positively or negatively affecting the program going forward? I've made my feelings known about Brandon and how, frankly, this really shouldn't accelerate his removal (I mean, if his handling of Gibbons, Morris, ticket prices, attendance, stadium experience, alumni relations, coaching snafus, losing, etc. doesn't do him in but bitchy emails do I'll be a bit disappointed in the administration for needing something so trivial to move them to action), but I honestly want to know your take. Do you think the fan's role in the turmoil surrounding the program, now being given a wider public forum by your site than in the past, will ultimately hurt its recovery going forward?
For example, you mentioned in your podcast that fans' habits can be broken quickly and it can take a generation to get them back. You and Ace seem to think that Brandon and Hoke coming back would lead to an exodus, but are you worried that the level of vitriol displayed by the fans already shows the pivot point already happened, and that everything from this point on is just piling on and driving even more fans away? Personally, I'm less and less excited to follow this team even this year because it is just a clown show made worse by the negative tone so many fans seem to hold toward it. My Facebook feed is full of people linking to articles calling for Hoke an co. to be booted (many to mgoblog), and lots of them were moderately-sane fans before the last couple of years. I'm not saying you and the site are to blame for any of it; you are just reporting and commenting on the shit show being trotted out every week. But do you think we'll look back in a couple of years and wonder if too much gas was thrown on the fire?
And again, I'm conflicted even asking this, because you guys have a duty to ferret out these idiots and bring them to the public's eye, and you do a great job at capturing the Michigan zeitgeist effectively. But there's just such a toxic culture around the program, and I wonder even if they get some homerun hires (which I'm a bit dubious about), if some of this damage will linger.
Anyway, feel free to respond however you want; if part of this makes its way into a mailbag or something then by all means out me and respond how you wish. I'm fine with it. I honestly just want to know.
I made a decision to let the original Have A Happy Life email stand—in fact I made a decision to re-instate it after one of the mods pulled it 200 comments deep—and from there things proceeded inexorably to yesterday's post.
I let it stand because I thought it was true.
[After THE JUMP: a full run-down of the decision to run with this story and evaluation about whether this was in error.]