fair point that
Assorted thoughts about the demise of the best thing. This was going to be a UV and then it got out of control.
The bad thing was handled well
Before we talk about Grantland at its best, let's talk about it at its worst. In January of 2014, Grantland published a story about a transgender golf-club purveyor. The story made a convincing case that this person was a fabulist and crackpot, and then at the end threw in an "oh by the way" that this person had killed themselves. It was clear the reason was at least indirectly this very article that you are reading right now. It was breathtakingly tasteless.
The internet noticed, eventually. The backlash to this story was proof that a lot of people will share a longread™ without actually reading it, so twitter was filled with a series of people saying "what a great story" while their mentions filled up with "did you actually READ this?!?!" over the course of the next few days.
Grantland—and by "Grantland" we are talking about Bill Simmons and whatever inner circle told Bill Simmons to hire all the people he hired—took stock. A few days later they responded in two parts. One was an essay by Christinia Kahrl, a transgender baseball writer for Regular ESPN, that detailed the various ways in which everyone had fucked up. The second was an essay from Simmons himself that detailed exactly what happened and how they had fucked up. While Simmons put his name on it because that was what the situation demanded, it's better—more accurate—to read the thing as a collective document from the inner circle that brought Grantland to life. To my eyes it is appropriately contrite, honest, and forthcoming about things.
There are a ton of media companies that will ignore criticism of their work no matter how clearly shoddy it is in retrospect. Not to invoke the dread specter of politics, but a recent three-part NYT series on immigrant-owned nail salons turns out to be about 110% bullshit; the Times issued some blather about how they stand by the story and moved on. Grantland seemed to take their problems seriously:
Caleb’s biggest mistake? Outing Dr. V to one of her investors while she was still alive. I don’t think he understood the moral consequences of that decision, and frankly, neither did anyone working for Grantland. That misstep never occurred to me until I discussed it with Christina Kahrl yesterday. But that speaks to our collective ignorance about the issues facing the transgender community in general, as well as our biggest mistake: not educating ourselves on that front before seriously considering whether to run the piece.
When confronted with a major issue the impulse at Grantland was to tell everybody exactly what happened and adapt so it doesn't happen again, something that is a distinct late-Gen-X shift in approaches to these things. That'll be the standard way to handle these events in 30 years. Not so much now.
My wife literally wailed about where Brian Phillips was going to go when I told her that the jig was up, and I still think that Grantland at its worst was kind of Grantland at its best.
[After THE JUMP: hiring strikes, it's not about the money, snobbery, and a third way]
Let’s go through the last two plays. I know that’s probably what you’ve been doing [He just finished a lengthy phone interview –A.], but what I really want to talk about isn’t the last play but the second to last. When they motioned what were you thinking, and did you expect that to happen?
“I mean, you can kind of tell by an offensive lineman’s demeanor what kind of play to expect, and they were all in loaded stances the whole game when they were coming off a run and they were sitting back. I was kind of confused at first when they were in their tight bunch set and everyone’s like really close splits but didn’t look like they were ready to fire out.
“So the center I was going against was a pretty big guy so I could barely see the quarterback. So I hear him say something and he moves back and I’m like, ‘What is going on?’ so I’m trying to peek around and see what set he’s in. Was he in empty? I believe he was in- was he in an empty set?”
“Yeah, yeah. Eventually, yeah.”
He starts with a back in the backfield and then motions him out.
“So then we’re like- my thought process was this is either going to be a QB power, a QB draw, or a QB run of some sort or it’s going to be a pass because I know they like to sprint out. I decided to come off the ball as hard as I could when I saw the ball snapped and Mo Hurst, being as quick as he is, shot right in the backfield on their sprint-out play, and Willie [Henry] discarded his guy pretty quick, too, and he decided it wasn’t a good idea to hold onto the ball much longer.”
“James [Ross] was glued to his guy, the guy he was trying to throw back to, the tight end, which we had prepared for that all week. So yeah, Mo basically made that play and Willie and James, and I was really confused on the empty spread thing. I could barely see where the quarterback was so yeah, that’s about the second to last play.”
[After THE JUMP: Breaking down the goal-line stand]
What this is: A best of the Big Ten rundown with a draft gimmick that some people like and some people hate and which happens anyway because the internet cannot win.
Everyone drafts a team of 8 Big Ten basketball players. Standard serpentine draft. As determined by RANDOM.org the order is:
1. Ace, 2. Alex, 3. Brian, 4. Seth
|Now sans Dekker/Kaminsky [M.P. King/Madison State Journal]|
ACE: Round 1, Pick 1: Nigel Hayes, F, Wisconsin
I really didn't want the first pick, but since I have it, I'll go with the NBA prospect who'll step up to lead Wisconsin this season. I nearly chose a point guard but the league is so deep at that spot that I couldn't pass up Hayes, who's a matchup nightmare at the four. At 6'8", 235 lbs., he's got great size at the college level, and he's impressively athletic—he can hold up in the post or on the perimeter on defense. He continues to add to his skill level on offense; he averaged over a point per possession on post-ups last year and shot 40% from three after not attempting a single three-pointer as a freshman.
While there are several point guards who could play at an all-conference level this year, Hayes is a potential All-American, and the drop-off between him and the next comparable player—Maryland stretch four Jake Layman—is sizable. Hayes is a plus in just about every aspect: shooting, rebounding, passing, defending, and drawing fouls. It won't be hard to build a team around him.
[After the JUMP we take bench players in the 2nd round. Seriously!]
1 hour 57 minutes
A big thanks to our sponsors. The show is presented by UGP & Moe's and frankly would not be happening without them; Rishi and company have been on board here from almost the beginning. Shopping with them helps us and supports good dudes. Check out 100years.moe for the rich history of Michigan's oldest apparel store.
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Don't do that.
Also: defensive holes poked but also just fluky flukes. Rudock status, Speight chatter, Drake Johnson for feature back. Peppers for all the things.
Gimmicky Top Five: Most Improbable Things
Good or bad, and about evenly split between the two. Extensive Mike Hart discussion. Ace accuses me of recency bias, which I strenuously dispute.
Steve Lorenz of 247
Michigan's battles with Texas and Georgia discussed: some of Isaac Nauta, Mecole Hardman, Jean Delance, Jordan Elliott, and Dontavious Jackson could come Michigan's way as those two programs get a little wobbly. Donnie Corley spitballin'; David Reese possibly departing.
Ace's Hockey Podcast
My opinion is exactly the same after a wobbly weekend against Robert Morris.
Catch us Mondays 5-7 on 1050 WTKA.
THE USUAL LINKS
Ryan Glasgow and James Ross
James, coach Harbaugh mentioned the second to last play when they shifted and you had to stick with the tight end. What were you looking at on that play and take us through that.
“There’s a lot of plays Minnesota did with the tight end whether he’s releasing late or things like that and I just wanted to keep my eyes on him, and it just so happened that he did try to release late.”
James, when did you start taking practice reps at the BUCK linebacker position and can you just talk about that transition this week?
“I started transitioning to BUCK as soon as Mario [Ojemudia] went down, that week after. Just consistently getting reps and trying to find ways to get on the field.”
This is the first time that you’ve played it in a game, right?
“No, I actually played it last week versus State- or the week prior to this week. But yeah, against State.”
Ryan, talk about the job you guys all did getting underneath the blockers on that last play. You seemed to get off the ball pretty well.
“Yeah. I mean, Willie [Henry] and Mo [Hurst] did a great job on that play, and the linebackers got a great push. We’ve never really practiced that live; it’s all stepping through. You don’t want to hurt anyone in practice, but I thought we did a good job executing on the field. That was probably our first live rep of that type of sneak play this season and I thought we did a good job of executing it.”
Did you know he was short?
“Uh, I had a feeling he was short. I mean, I was on the ground, not really looking at it, but I knew the guys around me were pushing back.”
[After THE JUMP: Erik Magnuson, Jehu Chesson, Jake Butt, and animal analogies for the offensive and defensive line]
Substantive injury and personnel updates? Substantive injury and personnel updates.
Rudock will be sore, is dealing with a shoulder injury, and is going to test it out in practice today
Godin is “working through something” and will hopefully be back sooner than later
Isaac’s absence from this week’s depth chart is “an internal matter”
Poggi was sick last weekend and will be fine if he follows Harbaugh’s push-ups-and-whole-milk recovery regimen
Speight is listed as the No. 2 quarterback on the depth chart
“No ‘hello’ back? I say it and just crickets.”
“Good to see everybody.”
As somebody that talks about just pure, honest competition, did you enjoy watching that last play again?
“Yes. You know, always in a football game it never comes down to one play. The goal-line stand at the end was really set up by a lot of plays in the game. And if you go back, the play before James Ross does a great job staying on his man, keeping his eyes on his man, not getting fooled by the deception in the backfield. Covers down or we don’t get to that goal-line stand.
“Two plays before Channing Stribling was beat on the double move, but just the hustle to make that play competitive; ended up catching up, getting his hand in there, and we get the ball down just inside the one-yard line.
“Jabrill Peppers: quarterback keeps on a quarterback-driven run, and that was a hustle play to come back inside of a blocker, trip up the quarterback, keeping them from a real long play.
“The third-down play: Jourdan Lewis in competitive coverage keeps that inside slant from being a big, big chunk, and you just keep going on and on.
“Before that, Drake Harris- or, Drake Johnson made a really good play that probably went unnoticed in the third quarter when we were backed up. Wilton [Speight] threw a ball out to him and just a big-time hustle play to get a hand back in and break up that pass from being intercepted. Don’t know if you know the play that I’m talking about, but just numerous types of plays like that that you keep hustling, you keep battling and there remains a chance that something good can happen there.
“Then that last play was definitely a team effort there. Our guys did a heck of a job defending that quarterback sneak and we were able to win the game.”
[After THE JUMP: A Jabrilloquy, why Michigan wasn’t offside on the last play, and Harbaugh actually reminisced about his playing days]
1 hour 25 minutes
Nice hat [Patrick Barron]
Give it up to Speight for coming through in the clutch. More Johnson. Rudock discussion as per usual. Peppers. Give it to me.
Flukes and some holes.
SPECIAL TEAMS AND GAME THEORY
That. Do not do it.
ON GRANTLAND AND BEING DUMB
In case anyone was worried about either of us getting hired away by ESPN, we spend 15 minutes calling John Skipper dumb and explaining why the sudden demise of Grantland is a petulant bite of the thumb directed at Bill Simmons. Also we then talk about the quote-unquote "big leagues" and how they are a trap.
If you're curious, this is the article I'm referring to when I talk about how Skipper paid well over the odds for a bunch of events.
TALKIN' BIG TEN WITH JAMIEMAC
Penn State has a veritable pulse. Mike Riley has a large buyout.
"Across 110th Street"
"Qualifiers," Open Mike Eagle
"Get Lucky," Russian Police Choir
"Easy Come, Easy Go," The Decemberists
"Speed Trap Town," Jason Isbell
THE USUAL LINKS
10/31/2015 – Michigan 29, Minnesota 26 – 6-2, 3-1 Big Ten
ONE. We've got a radio show now so I've been listening to sports talk radio even when Sam and Ira aren't on. I do it to compare and maybe get better and maybe draw confidence from the fact that a lot of sports talk radio is outrageously bad. The parts that aren't are often outrageously robotic. WTKA has a bunch of NFL stuff now that they switched to CBS, and it's on when I go to and from our podcast on Sunday; sometimes I catch it on a Thursday.
Tom Brady was on. Jim Gray actually asked him a lot of pointed questions about the upcoming game against the Colts and whether he had a desire to rain unholy fire upon those bastards. Brady responded with the passion of an accountant. I would chalk this up to Brady's flat affect, but I've seen player after player descend into this anodyne non-existence. This is a a league that spent most of the offseason discussing the Ideal Gas Law, after all—even if they didn't know they were doing so. It's just a thing. Colleges teach it but it doesn't take all the way. The NFL perfects it, along with the slant.
TWO. Minnesota has not been good for literally 50 years. Their blips to the positive aren't even Illinois blips. Every decade Illinois will show up in a BCS-level game; the Minnesota coach with the best winning percentage since 1944 is one Glen Mason, who the Gophers fired so they could hire Tim Brewster.
THREE. In 2005 I was pretty mad after a weird game where the Michigan Stadium scoreboards fritzed out and Jim Herrmann called a blitz on which Prescott Burgess, a 230-pound linebacker, was tasked with two-gapping a 270-pound monster TE. When I get mad I tend to be mad about everything, but when Lawrence Maroney rushed out to midfield and planted the biggest damn Minnesota flag in existence I was just like "yeah, go ahead, you earned that."
Sixty-plus Gopher players stormed across that field to reclaim the Jug without considering decorum, sanity, or sportsmanship. Michigan had just lost a game mostly because they called a blitz so telegraphed that a petrified backup QB could check them into a 50-yard run and I had enough non-hate in my heart to genuinely enjoy the fervor with which the Gophers reclaimed Fielding Yost's 30-cent chunk of crockery.
FOUR. Last year the Little Brown Jug went on a tour of the state of Minnesota.
This was a good idea.
FIVE. Jerry Kill retired last week because he could no longer control the seizures his cancer had bestowed upon him. Jerry Kill talks like a NASCAR driver. He comes by his coachspeak honestly, and when Tracy Claeys was again thrust into a role he probably never thought he'd be in—Kill tends to buy and hold assistants until the end of time—he sounded 100% like Jerry Kill.
It was awkward. It was stilted. It was genuine as hell. He told his kids not to play with emotion because emotion evaporates but to play with passion because passion sticks and I was just like YOU MAY BE SAYING THIS LIKE TOM BRADY SAYS THINGS BUT I KNOW THAT FEEL.
SIX. Junior Hemingway, just shouting and weeping after the Sugar Bowl.
SEVEN. Jerry Kill.
EIGHT. Michigan won a football game that often doubled as an exercise in hilarious improbability. Michigan gave up a 52-yard touchdown after Jeremy Clark executed the platonic ideal of coverage against a corner route. With 19 seconds left in a football game, Minnesota spent 17 seconds on a series of elaborate motions on first and goal from the half-yard line.
Football is weird and terrible and sometimes it gets you to within a half-yard of a cathartic, wonderful victory and then says "nah." Sometimes when you're 2-and-a-billion after always being good your walk-on QB dials up a bunch of incredible throws and you go grab the Little Brown Jug with a newfound respect for its importance. Football, above all, is cruel.
NINE. If you are a Minnesota fan on a bitter Monday indeed, here is the equivalent of Lawrence Maroney planting a flag. It is Jon Falk, the recently retired and legendary Michigan equipment manager, welcoming his favorite 30-cent crockery back home.
It hurts, but that means something. That is a thing that is real. It is a reflection of Jerry Kill killing himself to be in this game and dying because he has to leave it.
TEN. I've always hated THIS IS MICHIGAN a bit because it reminds me of going to Penn State in 2006 and having their chintzy-ass scoreboards proclaim WE'RE PENN STATE… AND THEY'RE NOT. It's not necessarily as bad, but sometimes it tends to AND THEY'RE NOT. I'm not a huge fan of Michigan's excellently-executed James Earl Jones intro video this year because it claims a bunch of things that should be gestured at instead.
Michigan's great. I love Michigan. I love it all, though. I've been to Georgia and Auburn and Penn State and Ohio State and Minnesota and the feeling of college football is something else. Minnesota hasn't done anything Colin Cowherd would note for 50 years. You could maybe compare them to the Lions, who no one should ever be a fan of.
Except no. Tell me that doesn't matter. Tell me This Is Minnesota doesn't mean anything. We took the Jug and we mostly earned it and that matters to me. It matters to Jabrill Peppers and Jon Falk and Jim Harbaugh and Greg Dooley. It matters because it's college fucking football, and Minnesota means something.
To Michigan, it means the Jug. They got it back on Saturday by the skin of their teeth, and for a program that's had a bit of a rough go of late they'll take it any way they can get it.
Column inspired by Dr. Sap digging up a post-game Bo speech after the 1987 Jug game:
A half hour version that must be most of the game from WD:
Parking God has a more reasonable length reel:
Known Friends And Trusted Agents Of The Week
you're the man now, dog
#1 Jabrill Peppers had a 40 yard KO return, a 40 yard punt return, two PBUs, a near pick-six, a rushing touchdown, a reverse set up by everyone fretting about Peppers, a pass interference call drawn—Peppers played nearly 100 snaps and was instrumental in all three phases of the game.
#2 Maurice Hurst didn't actually pop up in the box score much but he was frequently in Leidner's grill; on the final stand he blew up the pass protection on the first play and was one of a few different Wolverines whipping their dudes up front. Actually in the box score: he had a critical TFL that forced Minnesota to kick a short field goal.
#3 Drake Johnson didn't get many carries but was by far the most effective runner Michigan had; other guys had lanes but didn't take advantage of them. Hoping to see more of him going forward.
Honorable mention: Chesson and Darboh both had nice days. Glasgow again contributed to mostly good run defense.
9: Jourdan Lewis (#1 UNLV, #1 Northwestern, #1 MSU), Jabrill Peppers(#2 BYU, #2 Northwestern, #2 MSU, #1 Minnesota)
5: Chris Wormley(#2 Utah, #1 Oregon State)
4: Maurice Hurst (#2 Maryland, #2 Minnesota)
3: Jake Butt (#1 Utah), De'Veon Smith(#2 Oregon State, #3 BYU), Ryan Glasgow (#1 BYU), Desmond Morgan (#1 Maryland),
2: Ty Isaac(#2 UNLV), Willie Henry(#3 Utah, #3 MSU).
1: AJ Williams (#3 Oregon State), Channing Stribling(#3 UNLV), Blake O'Neill(#3 Maryland), Jake Rudock(#3 Northwestern), Drake Johnson(#3 Minnesota)
Who's Got It Better Than Us Of The Week
This week's best thing ever.
Form a f-ing wall.
— Ace Anbender (@AceAnbender) November 1, 2015
Honorable mention: Speight throws the go-ahead touchdown and then converts for two; Peppers has the ball in his hands.
Utah: Crazy #buttdown.
Oregon State: #tacopunts.
UNLV: Ty Isaac's 76 yard touchdown.
BYU: De'Veon Smith's illicit teleporter run.
Maryland: Jehu Chesson jet sweeps past you.
Northwestern: Chesson opening KO TD.
MSU: the bit where they won until they didn't.
Minnesota: form a f-ing wall.
MARCUS HALL EPIC DOUBLE BIRD OF THE WEEK.
This week's worst thing ever.
Channing Stribling gets beat over the top for what seems like the game-winning touchdown, until it was not.
Honorable mention: Mitch Leidner hurling the ball downfield on throws that are very bad ideas only for those to be complete anyway. Rudock underthrows another deep ball by 20 yards.
Utah: circle route pick six.
Oregon State: Rudock fumbles after blitz bust.
UNLV: Rudock matches 2014 INT total in game 3.
BYU: BYU manages to get to triple digit yards in the last minutes of the game.
Maryland: Slog extended by deflected interception at Houma.
Northwestern: KLINSMANN OUT
Minnesota: The bit where the lost it until they didn't.
[After THE JUMP: fluky fluky fluky.]