What, there's something else going on?
11/23/2007 - Michigan 3, Wisconsin 2 -12-1, 8-0 CCHA
11/24/2007 - Michigan 5, Minnesota 1 - 13-1, 8-0 CCHA
I hate Minnesota.
This is an unusual thing for anyone to hate. Minnesota is a nonentity in the big two collegiate sports. They haven't been to the Rose Bowl in 40 years. The only time their basketball program is any good is when they're cheating their asses off (ya, ya, glass houses, not relevant to the discussion). Maybe Wisconsin and Iowa have a real antipathy for the Gophers, but both rivalries seem built more on sweet trophies -- an axe and a pig -- than venom. Who doesn't want to win a huge ax? Or something called Floyd of Rosedale?
No, it's impossible to truly hate a school so limply sad that when you win the Big Ten at their stadium you can not only pull the goalposts down but haul them out onto the street. Outside of certain frigid enclaves, Minnesota is nothing.
But there is nothing that makes me want to throw a brick into a crowd of revelers than the goddamned Minnesota rouser. The reasons for this are obvious and obscure. The obvious bit:
The obscure, at least in terms of national significance: the first Michigan hockey game I watched was the national semifinal my freshman year of college. Michigan torched UNH 4-0. Two days later, Josh Langfeld wandered out from behind the boards and sort of tossed a puck between Scott Clemmensen's pads and Michigan was national champions. My vague September desire to maybe get hockey tickets had been quickly forgotten in the rush of Charles Woodson and company's national championship thrust; suddenly the decision to not get tickets seemed dumb indeed.
I rectified that the next year just in time for Minnesota to embark on a scorched earth campaign against Michigan. Suffice it to say that before Saturday, Minnesota had won six straight against Michigan and nine of eleven, several of them humiliating blowouts.
In 2003, Michigan made the Frozen Four in Buffalo, there drawing Minnesota. Buffalo being a relatively short jaunt through Canada for Michiganders, we went. (Side note: Canadians are exceedingly accommodating when you tell them you're driving five hours to watch some hockey. If you ever find yourself forced into drug smuggling by some tragic turn of events, just tell the border guard you're watching your cousin play in Lethbridge.)
Minnesota was good. They're usually good, but this edition of the Gophers was a real Death Star of a team: the defending national champions, WCHA double winners, and the tournament's top seed overall. Minnesota's national title run the year before had gone through Michigan, a painful 3-2 loss that was not nearly as close as it had looked. Freshman Thomas Vanek, now a ridiculously overpaid Buffalo Sabre, had 60 points, and the rest of the team was fast and talented.
But Michigan had beaten them 3-1 in the Showcase earlier that year, and dominated the first period. Just crushed them. Jason Ryznar and Eric Nystrom were crushing guys along the boards. Minnesota could not get possession and only a parade of saves and missed opportunities kept the score relatively close. It was 1-0 after one. The second period was the exact opposite, with Minnesota dominating play, until Jed Ortmeyer, god bless him, popped in a second goal and the final five minutes were even. A late Minnesota goal gave the Gophers life, but down 2-1 against an opponent that had beaten them earlier in the year and clearly was giving them all they could handle is not a good spot.
So it was with some disbelief that I listened to a wide array of Gopher fans chatting about the game during the second intermission, every one of them blithely assured that Minnesota would come out and roll over Michigan in the third. I have been around my share of frustratingly overconfident opposing fans -- wooo Ohio State! -- but nothing compares to Minnesota fans in Buffalo that day.
The third period was tightly contested. Minnesota tied it at the other end, but Michigan controlled much of the period. Achingly, Nystrom or Ryznar or someone knocked a puck through the Gopher goalie only to see it waved off, as the whistle had gone. Ryznar had a golden opportunity at an open net that a defenseman hacked off the line. Halfway through the first overtime, Vanek wandered out from behind the net and swept the puck at Al Montoya and it went through his pads and all I could think was "that was soft." We had a hotel room in Niagara Falls for the next couple nights. We left the next day.
Michigan hasn't been to the Frozen Four since and has only intermittently looked like a threat. Every year, Michigan would play Minnesota in the Showcase and prove that it was not national title caliber, then a parade of CCHA teams would get hopes up only for them to be dashed when
the big boys came calling.
Last year, Michigan was obliterated by the Gophers. The upperclass-laden team was basically the same group of guys who limped into the 2006 tournament with zero chance and got blown out by North Dakota. When Michigan drew Minnesota and North Dakota, the season was over. Even though Minnesota managed to blow it against Holy Cross (ha!), the season was indeed over.
This year, Michigan beat Minnesota raw. The shot count didn't reflect it, but the final score did. It doesn't really matter that the Gophers look decidedly un-vintage so far this year at 7-6-1. Michigan and Minnesota have played six periods this year and Michigan has owned five of them. They are streaking towards a real #1-#2 matchup against Miami later this year, and the malaise of the last couple years is gone, replaced with a bunch of freshman who reveal delightful new abilities -- look! backchecking! -- every game.
Everyone was waiting before making a declaration. Are they? Yes. They're for real.
I have no idea how to judge the truthiness of this post from HawkeyeLounge.com helpfully linked in the comments of the last post, but it looks like we might get resolution on this Ferentz thing soon:
I have a decent source connected to the Michigan athletic department. He stated to me in an in e-mail this evening that Ferentz had been offered the job and this evening he accepted. The final details and announcement will come in 24-48 hours.
MH check your PM and I'll explain this one to you. I'm not convinced on this, but this source has credibility. I hope he's not playing me. I'll take the heat if this is wrong.
...but after the standard "this means nothing... nothing!" response, a couple posters vouch for this guy; the forthright admission of doubt makes me place a bit more faith in the information, ironically. (Obviously, this is nothing close to solid.)
Another point of confirmation (about the offer, not a potential acceptance) comes from the RCMB. One of the posters there is an editor at an Iowa newspaper; he claims that two separate media sources are telling him Ferentz has an offer.
Update: FWIW, same RCMB poster says two people have called him, saying they "heard" Ferentz had accepted the job; another says he has a family member on the staff who hasn't heard anything as of a few hours ago.
Woo! Rumors, these. Not facts. The first and foremost is really close to a fact type thing, as close as these things can be, but if the most likely outcome... er... comes out, no one will ever know if this was true or not. So take the following FWIW, which is not to say I lack confidence in the voracity of the following... it's just that much of it is, by its very nature, un-confirmable. Thus the "rumormongering" label and not the "actual news" label. End justifications.
I've sat on this a couple days waiting for some third-party corroboration and now I have it: Kirk Ferentz has been offered the Michigan job. The general feeling is he will turn it down out of fidelity to Iowa, in case you were thinking of making a late-night run to Ann Arbor (or Iowa City) Torch & Pitchfork. I do realize that this -- unlike the Lloyd thing -- is unlikely to ever be publicly acknowledged if Ferentz turns it down, but this comes from someone in a position to know, and how. The third-party corroboration comes from a couple Iowa insiders reporting things afoot that, unfortunately, I am not at liberty to disclose.
Suffice it to say that Wednesday's post on Ferentz not making sense and this being a weird rumor is withdrawn: there's a real chance he's the next coach. It's not probable given Ferentz's deep ties to Iowa, but it's not Kevin Stallings as I suggested earlier.
BONUS item that I don't have multiple sources on, so consider this not 100% reliable, but logical: Grand Valley's athletic director has been contacted by a Michigan representative doing due diligence on Brian Kelly. That representative? Lloyd Carr. That might explain the prominence in Ferentz in the search. The Horror, evidently, was not enough to shake Carr's influence despite the claims made in his outgoing press conference.
BONUS BONUS item: Grand Valley's AD has been contacted by another athletic director doing background checks on Kelly. His name? Kevin White. His school? Notre Dame.
So much for "light posting." I'll continue to update over the weekend as coaching search things trickle in; nothing big but if there's news I'll post it.
11/14/1907 - Fielding Yost 1, New York Times 0
On November 14th, 1907, the New York Times announced that Michigan's current coach, beleaguered by accusations he had relied too heavily on one star player, had decided to hang up his spurs after the big season-ending game against Penn. The coach of a team in the south, a Michigan alum, was to replace him. The news, as they say, was fit to print.
Yost coached Michigan until 1926, winning national titles in 1918 and 1923. The New York Times overcame the embarrassment.
Late on December 7th, 2006, The Birmingham News reported that Rich Rodriguez had accepted an offer to become Alabama's head coach. I struck up an IM conversation with resident Alabama Fanhouser Pete Holiday, forwarding along the link and offering up congratulations for what looked like an excellent hire. Pete's reaction was interesting. Paraphrased, it was "that's the Birmingham News; it's worthless." Sure enough, Rodriguez announced he was staying at West Virginia soon after. Pete Holiday 1, Birmingham News 0.
Four days ago -- as much of the sports media world scoffed at this blog and its report that Lloyd Carr would retire -- ESPN, the AP, and a whole host of other outlets reported that Houston Nutt was gone based on a brief article at a local news station. The result? Not so much:
"It seems some media outlets chose to falsely legitimize baseless rumors today with unknown details from unnamed sources without first seeking the benefit of fact from the university," UA spokesperson Tysen Kendig said in a statement.
Score pending on this one; Nutt's probably gone anyway.
The lesson in all this: consider the source. The Birmingham News, apparently, is not a reliable institution. Political bloggers will argue the same about the New York Times or Fox News. Embittered quasi-journalists with subscription models to protect and about half of Official Journalists will argue the same about MGoBlog. Various kind commenters and this blog's track record will argue otherwise.
The obvious counter-argument is that other than the bit about "falsely legitimizing baseless rumors," that Arkansas spokesperson could have been speaking directly about me. The sources were indeed unnamed, the details unknown, and this blog did not seek the benefit of fact from the University. However, this is all in the richest tradition of the media. Anonymous sources have been the backbone of reporting for fifty years -- thanks to the Fanhouse, it took me sixty seconds to find three examples in the past day -- and I had anonymous sources with track records and details. If it was a rumor, everything the media does other than write down quotes from press conferences would be rumor. It's not a rumor.
Meanwhile, columnists and quasi-journalists groused that Carr should have "his day" and not be subject to these terrible rumors before the time came, as if Let's Be Nice was part of the credo of journalism.
Why did I post it? It was true. Why did others keep it quiet? Either to protect their access or because they didn't have the sources.
You pick the journalist out.
And, hey, I was right. Mostly. It would be nice if I hadn't backed out on the stridency of my declaration the next day based on some contradictory scuttlebutt. It was hard to stick to my guns with so much riding on it. I was nervous.
But Lord, give anyone a solid internet report that causes a kerfuffle and then two wishy-washy MSM things that say nothing clearly caused by the solid internet report and newspapers will leap to report it. A fairly typical example:
Earlier this week, PA Sportsticker reported Carr was leaning toward retirement with a formal announcement coming as early as next week, according to a source close to the program. Teddy Greenstein of the Chicago Tribune reported Tuesday that "two industry sources with connections to the program" told him they believe Carr would retire after the season.
The website PA Sportsticker â€” which bills itself as "the global leader in sports information" â€” reported Tuesday that "Carr is leaning toward retiring as the Wolverines' coach," adding an announcement could come next week.
First, what the hell is the PA Sportsticker? And what kind of track record does it have? And does Teddy Greenstein know anything? I mean this honestly: Teddy Greenstein knows two guys who "believe" Carr would retire after the season. I know 107,501 people who believe the same. "Believe" is not news. "Expected" is not news. "Is" is news.
Meanwhile, ESPN led that night's 6 PM Sportscenter with the "is" news, attributing it to "internet reports." This is because ESPN is an awful corporate monolith with no ethics whatsoever. Anyone who expected better hasn't been paying attention.
Much of the focus in the blogosphere has been on the pure evil of the MSM when it comes to giving bloggers their due, but it wasn't pure evil. Several people linked: Cory McCartney at SI, Dennis Dodd at CBS Sportsline, Tom Dienhart at TSN, the New York Times, and the Daily. Jim Carty provided a nice blog post yesterday. Most of the "internet rumors" pettiness came from local papers and, of course, ESPN.
(As SMQB details, ESPN's bias is not so much against blogs or the internet; it's against everything that isn't itself. Over the past few years ESPN has proven time and again that they will steal scoops and claim them as their own no matter their provenance -- no matter how implausible it is that Mark May has learned anything. Bloggers and newspapermen alike can join hands and sing a song of omitted attribution, credit assigned to talking heads instead of scouring fingers.)
Virtually none of the aforementioned save the Daily and, oddly, Dienhart managed to reference the post without getting some snark in, but whatever. I have personally ripped on every single one of the above guys or institutions; I can take some eyerolling about BLOGS(!) as long as readers are given the opportunity to judge this site on its content, which I believe speaks for itself.
That's all I'm asking, and all blogs should ask for: a chance to be judged on their merits. If newspapers and other media outlets refuse to allow your readers access to the primary source you're referencing, this is not "responsibility." You have replicated the "rumor" and passed it on; you have contributed to the maelstrom. You've made it worse by allowing it to flap in the wind, unsourced, instead of tied to a specific, very blamable person.
Ignoring the source of news is not journalism. It's the arrogant assumption readers that are incapable of judging the trustworthiness of a source for itself, the fear that once loosed into the great wild yonder they will find your content tepid, and the tacit acknowledgment that meritocracy is very bad for you.
So source it.
PS: It has been brought to my attention that recently, this blog neglected to properly attribute the evocative picture of Ohio State coming in wholly unfettered on Mike Hart. This was an oversight: it's the work of Vijay from iBlog For Cookies. From time to time, I end up with something from a message board or email that I have forgotten the provenance of; if this ever happens please notify me and I'll make sure you get credit.
Fairly stunning article from Louisiana:
Should LSU coach Les Miles get offered and accept the head job at Michigan, there is the possibility he could still be with the Tigers for the BCS national title game on Jan. 7 in New Orleans if LSU were to make it that far.
LSU athletic director Skip Bertman said if such a scenario develops, he would want Miles to coach the Tigers in the national championship game before leaving for Michigan.
"If it were to be a national championship and the advantage for LSU to win, it would be my opinion that I'd want the coach (Miles) there to win the game," he said. "But I think that the decision to be made is too premature to even talk about for something like that."
If LSU is willing to let Miles coach the national title game after accepting the Michigan job it looks like the optimal solution for all parties is out there for the taking: Miles taking the job after the SEC Championship Game, quickly deciding on a staff, and then resuming his preparation for the national title game as the holdovers get in contact with all current and prospective recruits.
And what does it say that the athletic director is willing to come out with this publicly? Forgive me if I'm reading way too much into one quote, but that implies Bertman knows 1) Miles is very likely to be offered the job and 2) if asked to choose right now, will go with Michigan. The only thing that might prevent Miles from being Michigan's coach is Michigan pulling the ultimate in dastardly moves and insisting Miles leave, something which would deservedly tar the program in the court of public opinion. And what possible motivation would Michigan have to do that if they've got their man locked up already?
Hurray, that's the poll hurray. If you're interested, you can see all the individual ballots here.
Dennis Dixon's knee exploded -- again -- and Oregon's mojo went with it, clearing up what used to be a heated debate about who is #1. There is no debate now: it's LSU. Both Oregon, last week's #2, and Oklahoma, last week's #3, take the pipe and slide down to the edge of the top ten. Everyone else slides up two.
The rest of the poll is fairly rote save for some extra Illinois respek and the odd specter of Boise State above Hawaii. What? More on this later.
Wack Ballot Watchdog:
- Two guys went for Missouri: Clone Chronicles and Tomahawk Nation.
- Braves & Birds hates VaTech more than anyone else, placing the Hokies #17. #14 was the worst anyone else could summon forth.
- Eagle in Atlanta ranks UVA #8, three spots higher than the next most optimistic voter.
- Losers with Socks drop Oklahoma 16 spots down to #23, four spots worse than Russ Levine of Football Outsiders and six worse than any other voter.
- People are completely wack on Texas in different ways: Dump Dorrell has UT #6, in front of Oklahoma. OU beat Texas earlier this year and has a (moderately) better nonconference schedule. What? And then, of course, Dawg Sports checks in with UT at #23. There's a bunch of other stuff on the Dawg Sports ballot that's weird. More on that later.
- Dump Dorrell has 'Bama #21. They'll need to bounce back from this ballot, just like America did after Pearl Harbor.
- Corn Nation has the worst vote of the week: Ohio State #15. Why is it the worst? Only the aforementioned Dump Dorrell and Losers With Socks are anywhere near the vote (both rank OSU #11); other than those two outliers Corn Nation is a full eight spots off the rest of the poll. And then there's the rank hypocrisy of (apparently) punishing Ohio State for a terribly weak schedule but ranking Kansas #1, Hawaii #11, and -- this is the topper -- Boise State #12. Boise versus last in Pac-10 Washington: lose by two touchdowns. Ohio State versus last in Pac-10 Washington: win by 19.
Could this be an error? Not so much: last week OSU was #16. Embarrassing.
Is this worthy of votes at #6 (Black Heart, Gold Pants), #8 (Big Red Network), #10 (The Enlightened Spartan) or #12 (the already-pilloried Corn Nation) or #13 (50-Yard Lion)? Or, hell, everyone voting them #15 or #16, most of whom have Boise well ahead of Hawaii? Sagarin has Hawaii's schedule ranked 153rd, and while Boise's is a totally awesome 122nd, most of that is probably because they traded a beatdown against Northern Colorado for a loss against Washington.
One last time: not competitive against the worst team in the Pac-10. Is Washington in your rankings?
Now on to the extracurriculars. First up are the teams which spur the most and least disagreement between voters as measured by standard deviation. Note that the standard deviation charts halt at #25 when looking for the lowest, otherwise teams that everyone agreed were terrible (say, Eastern Michigan) would all be at the top.
Ballot math: First up are "Mr. Bold" and "Mr. Numb Existence." The former goes to the voter with the ballot most divergent from the poll at large. The number you see is the average difference between a person's opinion of a team and the poll's opinion.
Sometimes Mr. Bold is just a guy with a kind of weird opinion on a team or two. This is not that, though. Dawg Sports submits an truly awful ballot: Arizona State plummets to #20. Kansas is #22. Cincinnati is #8. Attempted justifications are here and they are rife with contradictions; suffice it to say when you're the only one ranking either ASU or KU outside of the top ten and you put them in the 20s, you are way off base. I mean, look at the distributions: Kansas and Arizona State. When you can be that thrillingly wrong on two separate teams -- one of whom, ASU, has one loss against the nation's 27th-toughest schedule -- you've turned in a terrible ballot.
This week Dawg Sports submits another ballot with some howlers on it. Kansas remains in the 20s. Arizona State leaps back up to #9, which is more in line with reality, but also shoves Boston College up to #5, which is five spots higher than any other voter. Cincinnati drops five spots down to #13, four spots higher than any other.
Dawg Sports often substitutes verbiage
for ideas, writing out gargantuan posts that have little meat behind them. For example, this is not a reason to rank BC #5:
Quality road wins over Clemson and Virginia Tech gave Jacksonville-bound Boston College (9-2) the boost that earned the Eagles the No. 5 ranking. Five victories over teams with winning records, including the aforementioned comebacks against the Tigers and the Hokies, helped B.C. overcome an embarrassing loss at Maryland.
This is an ad-hoc justification. If you are going to deviate so wildly from the poll at large you should be able to back it up with not only the particular attributes of the team you have decided to deviate wildly about but the specific reasons you are placing them above other teams in the area.
And this ridiculous fixation on "winning teams" arbitrarily draws a line at .500, declaring Michigan State the equal of Ohio State and Kansas State the equivalent of Idaho. Consider this on OSU:
This gave L.S.U. the edge over second-ranked Ohio State (11-1), as the Buckeyes have faced a Division I-AA opponent (Youngstown State) and have claimed half of their ten wins over Division I-A teams against squads at .500 or below. Although O.S.U.'s lone loss (to Illinois) represents a more respectable blemish than the Bayou Bengals' loss to Kentucky, Jim Tressel's squad has just one quality victory (over Wisconsin), so Louisiana State got the nod over Ohio State.
This is the #2 team; their schedule, 53rd to Sagarin, is explained away. Then this on #8 Missouri, a team ranked no worse than #6 by anyone else:
Despite its stellar won-lost record, Missouri (10-1) fell behind four twice-beaten teams because the Tigers' victories have come against questionable competition. Seven of Mizzou's ten wins came against either Division I-AA teams or Division I-A squads with losing records. Even though the Tigers have beaten only three Division I-A opponents with winning records, though, Missouri has a quality victory (over Illinois at a neutral site) and acquitted itself well in a loss to Oklahoma in Norman.
None of these explanations even approaches rigorousness. Dawg Sports' consistent placement on this list is prima facie evidence of that, especially when combined with the blog's equally consistent placement on the Manic-Depressive list for the most swing from week to week.
Dawg Sports consistently submits weird ballots for the pleasure of being an outlier, then attempts to stun those who would object with a blizzard of words that, honestly, no one has the time to actually read. I am not impressed despite being sort of with him on Kansas -- without his vote I would be the poll's least enthusiastic Jayhawk.
It doesn't have to be like this. For an example of a rigorous approach to deviance, see any of SMQB's fine work on the subject. I spar with SMQB every September about strict resume ranking in the opening weeks of the season but whenever I have a feeling I'm ranking a team strangely it comforts me to see SMQB share my opinion.
Mr. Numb Existence
Next we have the Coulter/Krugman Award and the Straight Bangin' Award, which are again different sides of the same coin. The CKA and SBA go to the blogs with the highest and lowest bias rating, respectively. Bias rating is calculated by subtracting the blogger's vote for his own team from the poll-wide average. A high number indicates you are shameless homer. A low number indicates that you suffer from an abusive relationship with your football team.
Michigan blogs tempted fate earlier this year by winning The CK Award before the Michigan State game, but the foul pundits were appeased by our pleading and released Michigan from its chokehold just in time. They were not kind when we dared win again a mere two weeks later; yea, their wrath was wroth.
This week we have an unusual winner: carpetbaggin' Dan Shanoff, who has the audacity to rank Florida #8 as they prepare to meet Florida State.
Someone's finally taken the Straight Bangin' Award from the Florida and USC voters, and it's Bruce Ciskie, a Wisconsin fan who just watched the Badgers struggle against 1-11 Minnesota. This ain't hockey and the result is the complete omission of the Badgers from his ballot.
Swing is the total change in each ballot from last week to this week (obviously voters who didn't submit a ballot last week are not included). A high number means you are easily distracted by shiny things. A low number means that you're damn sure you're right no matter what reality says.
Mr. Manic Depressive goes to Rocky Top Talk, which is boring because it's got an easy explanation: the two proprietors of the site take turns voting.
Mr. Stubborn is relatively sedate Minnesota blog Paging Jim Shikenjanski. 50 points of motion isn't that far off the blog as a whole; no paddling.
That's a nice headstone. I feel like singing. LSU's AD continues to whistle past the graveyard, but as he does so he's saying some nice things about Les:
"I don't think this is a real money issue, No. 1," Bertman said. "This guy's more family-oriented and more community-minded and â€” this is my word â€” nobler than most of the coaches that I've dealt with.
"I think that this guy wants to come to work every day and feel comfortable. I think the people that he wants to come to work every day and feel comfortable with are on his side 100 percent of the time."
Standard AD-speak, perhaps.
Odds. These are always sucker bets, but an oddsmaker's view on the next Michigan coach:
Les Miles, LSU coach -- 2/1
Kirk Ferentz, Iowa coach -- 9/2
Mike Trgovac, Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator -- 5/1
Brian Kelly, Cincinnati coach and former Central Michigan and Grand Valley coach -- 6/1
Ron English, U-M defensive coordinator -- 6/1
Bret Bielema, Wisconsin coach -- 7/1
Bobby Petrino, Atlanta Falcons coach -- 10/1
Jon Gruden, Tampa Bay Bucs coach -- 10/1
Jim Harbaugh, Stanford coach and U-M alum -- 10/1
Bill Cowher, ex-Pittsburgh Steelers coach -- 15/1
Field (all others) -- 2/1
The credence you give this should drop precipitously as you scan down the list and find Bret Bielema (AFAIK the only reason anyone ever mentions him is that Dienhart keeps pushing him as a candidate) and Harbaugh, but for whatever it's worth. Since there's no Debord, I declare it worth one million dollars.
Right, speaking of... a Detroit News article on how Michigan will interview the coordinators has some downright laughable stuff from Debord on his term at Central:
"The way I defend that is, I will say this: We went in there, we put a culture together just like Michigan, we were, it's nothing against the kids, but we weren't as talented as we wanted to be," DeBord said. "When they won the championship, those were with sophomores, juniors and seniors that our staff had recruited. We had taken a program that was at the bottom of the conference, and we elevated it recruiting-wise to go win the conference championship.
"I know what the record is, but I also do know where we started and what ended up happening and what is still happening."
Maybe this would be slightly plausible if Debord had been forced out at CMU, but he did not. He packed up his 12-34 record and quit, quit like a little girl whose piano lessons are too hard. CMU's AD and president on Debord:
University President Michael Rao said he believed one of the reasons for DeBord's resignation was his dislike for many of the public relations functions of the job.
"He kept talking about how he didn't like the lunches and the public relations," Rao said. "It was really getting to him. I was kind of surprised." ...
Rao said he had two 30-minute conversations with DeBord prior to his resignation, in which DeBord expressed the exact sentiments.
"He said the losses over time were really getting to him," Rao said. "He also talked about whether he really wanted to be a head coach. He felt an assistant coach role was probably more of a fit for him." ...
Athletics director Herb Deromedi also met with DeBord multiple times before the resignation.
"He came to us and told us that he would resign," Deromedi said. "What we attempted to do is to meet with him and ask him to reconsider. We had met at his home several times, but he was fairly certain."
Mike Debord packed up his stuff and went home because he couldn't handle the PR and the losing. A few years later he "put a culture together just like Michigan," which is true if the reporter omitted "specifically, their offense against Ohio State" but completely ridiculous otherwise. The one silver lining in this turd sandwich of a season is getting this guy the hell away from Michigan's football program.
Dienhart what? Latest from Tom Dienhart:
Another factor: The Michigan assistant coaches have guaranteed deals, which means the new coach might be forced to work with the current staff. Will that be a deal-breaker for some candidates?
Yes, the assistant coaches have guaranteed deals. The guarantee, however, is that they will be paid in 2008, not that they will work for Michigan. It might be a bit expensive to shuffle the staff out wholesale, but if a new coach wants most of the guys out the door there's no reason it won't happen. The most likely scenario is that a few staff members are retained (Campbell and Stripling seem the most likely, maybe Loeffler and English), but only a few.
Not news, but there's an article. Jim Harbaugh has a realistic perspective on his prospects for the Michigan job:
"As far as the opening they have, the Michigan people will do a great job in selecting someone to carry on that tradition," Harbaugh said. "It's not going to be me. I am happy where I am."
As mentioned before: next.
Additionally evasive. Brian Kelly does not sound like a man married to Cincinnati:
Would Kelly be interested?
"From my standpoint, it's similar to all the questions relative to the bowl games," Kelly said Monday during the Big East's weekly coaches' conference call. "Our focus is on Syracuse. That's the most important thing. Any speculation relative to bowls and jobs, we've got plenty of time for that after the Syracuse game (Saturday).
"The focus for me and my football team is going to be on getting nine wins for the first time since the 1950s. Job speculation and all those things, we've got plenty of time to do that after this weekend."
Ferentz Miles falls through, he would be an excellent fallback plan.
Recruiting stuff. Dann O'Neill reiterates his Michigan commit...
"My decision hasn't changed. Not one bit," O'Neill said Monday evening, the same day Carr held a press conference announcing that he would step down as the Wolverines' head coach after 13 seasons in charge. "Michigan is still the right fit for me, a school that I've always wanted to go to. They're my dream school and that hasn't changed."
...in another article; he sounds completely solid. He also has some news on another OL commit:
"Elliot Mealer (an offensive lineman from Wauseon, Ohio) is one guy that I stay in contact with quite a bit, and he's staying put too," O'Neill said. "Actually, I don't think anyone is changing their mind. Everyone is still on board."
The Free Press has a more negative quote from Boubacar Cissoko:
"I was kind of surprised," Cissoko said of Carr's retirement. "I was looking forward to playing for him. I got to weigh my options, take my visits and see who the next coach going to be
and go from there."
Cissoko, who's 5-feet-8, 171 pounds, said he would try to set up visits to Tennessee, Illinois and Penn State to start the week after Thanksgiving. He said he still was leaning toward attending U-M, but he wanted a backup plan in case he wasn't wanted or he wasn't fond of the coaching hire.
"Bring in a new coach and a new staff.....they might kick you to the curb, so that's something you got to look after," Cissoko said.
Same article from Toledo's Kevin Koger:
"Just pick a guy that's all about winning, because all I want to do is win," said Toledo Whitmer tight end Kevin Koger, who insisted he still was firmly committed to U-M.
Realistically, we won't know who's committed and who isn't until we know which assistants are being retained. If English stays that would help.
One guy who seems a major threat to bolt: Sam McGuffie. Facts about Sam:
- McGuffie's mom said she wanted him to go to A&M on national TV.
- M RB coach Fred Jackson was really, really high on him early and his close relationship with McGuffie was a major reason for his commitment.
- Jackson recruits Louisiana and is likely to be one of the primary sources of all the "Loose Morals" talk. Meanwhile, current LSU RBs coach Larry Porter has been with Miles since Oklahoma State and appears to be a killer recruiter. Last year he hauled in a bumper crop of Texans and Lousianans, including five-star coup Terrance Tolliver. Other than Mike Debord, Jackson is the assistant least likely to be retained by Miles.
- As a slight, Caucasian running back, McGuffie might justifiably be a little more paranoid about getting shuffled to the bench by a coaching staff that doesn't believe in him.
I hate to say this, but McGuffie is 50-50 at best.
Michigan's candidate du jour, according to rapidly spreading internet rumor: Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz.
Here's a kitten if you need it:
- Has built Iowa from a 1-10 abomination train into a mid-level Big Ten power akin to Wisconsin. If we were having this discussion three years ago this sentence would be a lot more superlative.
- No hint of scandal.
- Generally well-respected amongst the coaching community.
- Done for the year and able to take the job ASAP.
- Is a nice man who loves his family.
- Uh... done for the year and able to take the job ASAP? Ferentz's team is 6-6 and has lost to Iowa State and Western Michigan. Since his back-to-back-to-back seasons at #8, Iowa is one game above .500.
- Aside from one year when Willingham was minding the barn at Notre Dame, Zook was busy yelling at frat boys in Florida, and a bumper crop of Chicagoland recruits were there to be harvested, Ferentz's recruiting has been meh.
- Though there has been little hint of NCAA scandal, Ferentz's team was plagued with individual malfeasance all year.
- 3-6 against Iowa State. That's like being 3-6 against Michigan State... if Michigan State was Baylor.
Should Michigan want Ferentz? Well, do Iowa fans even still want Ferentz? This poll over at Black Heart, Gold Pants puts a neat little bow on the situation:
We know you're, to put it mildly, upset; we are too. Is it the W/L record? Is it the rash of run-ins with the law? Are the worse transgressions happening on or off the field?
- Athletic performance: 19-18 record since 2005 season; 11-13 in Big Ten since 2005 season; 3-7 record in last 10 games against Iowa State; no bowl wins since 2004
42% attrition rate!
I mean, seriously, change some names and this BHGP passage could have been lifted verbatim from the comments of this blog during the Ohio State game:
We wasted the best front seven since 2004 on an offensive line which flat out refused to block anyone. We wasted the best running back tandem since Russell/Lewis on a quarterback who couldn't hit an open receiver and receivers who didn't catch the ball when he did. We wasted a tough, classy, downright professional group of seniors on a team filled with convicts and thugs and a coaching staff that was too f---ing stubborn to even attempt to fix the all-too-obvious problems.
Oh, oh, and this one:
Defenders of this coaching staff have repeatedly said, "the coaches put players in position to win, and it's the players' fault for not performing." Assuming (I think incorrectly) that this system would actually lead to success, it's the job of the coaches to prepare these players both schematically and technically. If the players are unable to perform effectively in otherwise correct schemes, the players must be more technically sound, the players must be replaced by those who can perform, or the schemes must be adjusted to account for a lack of talent/knowledge.
Do. Not. Want. Transpose Michigan's 2005 and 2006 and the programs are in an eerily parallel decline down to the cronyism, inexplicable surfeit of arrests and bootings, and hideously disappointing offenses.
Now add in the likelihood bit: Ferentz makes over three million dollars a year -- as of approximately one year ago he was the second highest paid coach in college football, though he's slipped behind Meyer and maybe a couple others since -- and has a kid who's grown up dreaming of playing for his dad at Iowa ready to sign a letter of intent in February. The salary thing might actually be even steeper: last year Ferentz raked in 4.6 million(!).
In no way does any of this make sense, and in that this seems more reminiscent of the brief Kevin Stallings panic during the basketball search -- undertaken as Beilein finished out his NIT run -- than a real threat to your (and my) sanity. While I have nothing approximating solid information in this case, Occam's Razor veritably screams "smokescreen" and I bet you a dollar we look back on this as one of the weirder rumors to wander around during the coaching search.
As always, no real checking was done to see how this ballot and last week's ballot lined up, so there's jitter. Criticisms will be more swaying if they rely on team A versus team B instead of the delta column. One thread of conversation I would like to contest, this from Big Red Network:
Once again, Kansas and Hawaii are #1 and #2. For those would complain about those rankings, I submit the 1983 Huskers. Only one team from Nebraska's regular season schedule that year finished in the AP top 20. Both Kansas and Hawaii will face one team in the regular season that will finish in the top 25 (Missouri and Boise State). To suggest that these teams don't deserve a title shot after a perfect regular season, is tantamount to saying the 1983 Huskers should not have been playing for a national championship. Boise State's win over Oklahoma should be all the proof we need that schools from small conferences can play with the big boys.
Kansas we'll let slide. I obviously don't think much of the Jayhawks but they're still #8 in my poll. But comparing this year's Hawaii team to 1983 Nebraska preposterously undersells the Cornhuskers, which swept the Big Eight and played this nonconference schedule:
- Penn State (8-4-1), W 44-6
- Wyoming (7-5), W 56-20
- Minnesota (1-10), W 84-13 (yes, 84, in case anyone was feeling even a tiny bit bad for NU during the Kansas game this year)
- UCLA (7-4-1), W 42-10
- Syracuse (6-5), W 63-7.
Four of the five opponents were "BCS" teams; four of the five had winning records. Though Nebraska didn't play any really high level opponents, they played a lot of decent to good opponents and slaughtered them all. Exactly two Nebraska games were not enormous blowouts, one a 14-10 win against 8-4 Oklahoma State and the other a 28-21 win versus 8-4 Oklahoma. Nebraska's pre-bowl points for: 624. Points against: 186.
Meanwhile, Hawaii has the worst SOS imaginable and has beaten 5-6 Louisiana Tech by one point, 4-7 San Jose State in over time, 6-4 Fresno State by seven, and 5-5 Nevada by two. Meanwhile, Boise State "proved" it could hang with the big boys last year. This year it's proven it can lose by two touchdowns to the worst team in the Pac-10. Death to Hawaii... even if I held my nose and dropped them in at the end.
I have not seen it covered in print anywhere but I have heard Bill Cowher's name mentioned again n a few circles....I know he was rumored at one point right after he retired from the Steelers .....and now they are back.....any thoughts? any ties to U of M in any way?
Cowher's name gets thrown around by any school looking for a new coach these days, but AFAIK there has never been any official or unofficial but insider-sanctioned indication that Cowher was a serious candidate. It seems unlikely Cowher's interested in returning to coaching at all; he now lives in North Carolina but turned down NC State, his alma mater, last offseason.
I agree that this year sucked, and a large part of the blame has to go to the coaching staff, for reasons that you've documented and that are painfully reiterated on your message boards every day. Perhaps this year would have gone better if this staff was coaching the team. However, I don't think you can blame Coach Carr for hanging on too long. When should he have retired? Maybe after the 2005 season? I
suppose. But we have to remember how last season went. There may have been mutterings about Debord's playcalling and that sort of thing over the course of the 11-0 start, but only the most horribly pessimistic of Michigan fans were calling for Lloyd's head amid the Yakety Saxing of Notre Dame, the gutty win over that otherwise-perfect Wisconsin team, and the AMFB assassination of Morelli. 2006 was a great season.
The OSU game was a classic, a well-coached, evenly-played game that might have gone differently had a safety stepped up to make a tackle, or had a questionable late hit not been called, or had any number of things happened. Not that OSU didn't deserve to win, but still, you can't have expected Lloyd to retire after that.
The Rose Bowl might have been a sign of a washed-up coaching staff, but it was just one game, and a coach who loses his confidence and drive after one bad game is one who never gets a job at Michigan in the first place. Plus, retiring in January could have seriously hurt last year's recruiting class, and as rough as this year was, what
would have happened had Mallett and Warren decommitted and Carlos Brown transferred? Plus, he was returning perhaps the best back in Michigan history, a fourth-year starter at quarterback with a rocket arm and robot nerves, a severely badass first round pick at left tackle, and at least two big-time receivers, and going into what promised to be down years for ND and OSU. You projected and 11-1 season. You can't blame Lloyd for giving it one more go.
Should he have retired right after Appalachian State or Oregon? I say no. You say Mike and Chad and Jake deserved better than this, and I think Lloyd had their best interests at heart when he decided to stick out the season. Stability in the coaching staff was probably still the best chance they had to salvage a Big Ten championship and Rose Bowl win, considering that anarchy seemed to be breaking out in the locker
room, and landing a top out-of-the-program coach in mid-September would be very, very difficult. Lloyd's resignation would have led to Debord or English as interim head coach, which would likely not have resulted in any more wins this year, and would mean that the interim coach would be more likely to be retained. I know for a fact that you don't want Mike Debord or Ron English to be the next Michigan head coach because I've seen a picture of your trapper keeper.
That was way longer than I meant it to be. Part of it is me venting after watching the presser; part of it is me procrastinating work. So take it for what you will. But I would like to know when you think Lloyd should have resigned. I think that he knows exactly when to quit, and that this is the perfect time. Yeah, he was stubborn and arrogant and made questionable hires and retentions and all that, but I believe that knowing when to go, and doing it with dignity and class, should preserve his legacy as a guy who loved Michigan and put the best interest of the program before his own arrogance and stubbornness as well as he could.
John makes a convincing case here that I won't disagree with entirely. I do think leaving at the right time is leaving before you have a year like this one; Carr wanted to leave after last year and probably should have.
There's plenty of evidence Carr lost his fastball after the OSU game last year. Michigan was beset by an unprecedented rash of discipline issues from Chris Richards to Johnny Sears to Eugene Germany to Carson Butler to Mario Manningham. The special teams, other than Zoltan (praise be his name) and Kicking Competency Lopata, were atrocious. The offensive line was throughly whipped at key positions and forced to re-insert a clearly out of shape Alex Mitchell late in the year with predictable results. Michigan was completely unprepared to take on a I-AA foe in the first game of the year. All of these things point to a team that suddenly went from pretty well coached to very poorly coached, probably because Carr didn't have the energy for the job anymore.
I know he said he wasn't tired in the press conference, but he also said...
"...I still have a great passion for the game and the players and the competition. But I also know that there are some things that I don't have anymore. So, it's time. That's all I can say to you."
...which is basically "I'm tired and can no longer execute all the things I need to if I am to keep this job." This is a remarkably self-aware thing to think and perhaps Michigan's saving grace in a situation that could have gotten (more) depressing if extended indefinitely. See also: Penn State, Florida State. Carr stayed on a year too long, IMO; John's right in thinking this would have been really hard to perceive in anything other than hindsight.
I was wondering if you (or gsimmons et. al.) might expound on the philosophy of a "running" quarterback in college versus preparing for the professional game.
I had the opportunity to watch the WVU â€“ Cincinnati and Texas Tech â€“ Oklahoma games on Saturday evening. Obviously, Pat White, Ben Mauk and the TT quarterback (name escapes me) are very active within their offensive schemes. Yet, this does not seem to be something that's valued at the professional level. Michael Vick had limited success. So, if one the purposes of college football is too groom quarterbacks for the pros and the professional teams do not embrace that offensive philosophy, why implement it? As a high school quarterback, whose ultimate goal is the NFL, I'd be leery of a scheme that would not prepare me for that level.
Am I totally confused or is there some merit to my thought process?
The thing with Michael Vick (and, to some extent, Vince Young) is that neither of them would be in the NFL if they didn't have the athleticism they do. A certain subset of quarterbacks are only NFL prospects because of their combination of arm and legs; it's hard to envision a system that would have prepared Vince Young or Michael Vick better given their skillsets. They have to be on the field, and the best way to keep them on the field is to start them off with simple things they can do and expand those things as their skills improve. You could clearly see this trajectory with Young, who went from a glorified running back to an actual quarterback over the course of his time at Texas. (Michael Vick's two-year supernova was too brief to detect any real development.)
So no, I don't think guys like Vick or Young or this year's uber-recruit Terrelle Pryor look at an offensive system predicated on taking advantage of their mobility as a negative. If forced into Michigan's offense they would likely fail, and benched guy
s don't often make the NFL.
There is a theory out there that seems plausible, though: as more and more teams move to the spread option, appealing places for the Peyton Mannings and Tom Bradys narrow, increasing the chances Michigan has at a smooth progression of highly-touted pocket passers. Personally, I would rather Michigan recruit whoever wants to come and fit the offense to their skills rather than adhere solely to one archetype, and Miles appears to agree.
I thought I would drop you a note to tell you a short story about Lloyd Carr, given that he is retiring today and given that you are the guy that broke that story. I am a 36 year old attorney in Chicago. I didn't go to the UofM for college or law school. My Dad, however, grew up in Dexter, Michigan (just outside Ann Arbor) and attended Michigan's law school between 1964 and 1967. He developed a life-long love for Michigan football. In 1979, when I was 8, he took me to my first game, a 49-0 shellacking of Northwestern. I was hooked. For the next 28 years there has been no sports allegiance (or religious one for that matter) that I have valued more than the Big Blue. In the intervening years, my Dad and I watched some astonishing games in Ann Arbor -- the two that stick out most were our near upset of Miami in 1988 and the comeback I never believed possible against Michigan State in 2005. Tim B's ripping OSU for over 300 yards was also obviously a great moment.
In January 2006, my father was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. This was a crushing moment in the life of my father and my family. In the days and weeks that followed, we reeled. Several weeks after his diagnosis, I drafted a lengthy letter to Lloyd Carr explaining who my Dad was and what he was going through. In an utter shot in the dark, I asked if he wouldn't mind placing a cold call to my Dad to give him a pep talk and tell him to hang in there. Several weeks later, Lloyd Carr left a message on my folks' machine at their home, offering his words for encouragement. In a bit of irony, my Mom (not understanding the significance of the message) DELETED it before my Dad could hear it. But still, I was pretty darn impressed that Lloyd had responded to that letter out of the blue and placed a call to a man he didn't even know.
Here is where, in my mind, an already great story gets better. Lloyd called back. About a week later, he made a second attempt to reach my Dad, this time calling from his car phone. He reached my sister instead and left a message. My Dad was touched to the core by Lloyd's overtures. I, for one, was pretty surprised that a person with Lloyd's schedule wouldn't consider one attempt to reach out sufficient. It speaks volumes.
You can say a lot of things about Lloyd Carr. But can you say more than that he is the type of person who will pick up the phone and call someone he doesn't even know in order to help them along? I don't think so. Aside from the national championship, the top recruiting classes, the top 10 winning percentage, the great record against the Top 10 -- at core, Lloyd Carr is a good human being who cares about others, even others he does not know. As Lloyd announces his retirement today, and for days hereafter, I will never, ever forget what he did for my Dad. If you want to share this story with others, feel free. If not, read it knowing that it's additional evidence for how lucky we were to have Lloyd Carr as part of the Michigan pantheon.