landing spot. will be interesting to see how he does.
Now that Lloyd Carr is spending his days golfing and his nights at manga conventions, it's time to go over this career. First we play nice, assembling the Carr Era dream team. First up: the offense.
Rules: each season is judged independently. It makes no sense to compare one year of Drew Henson with four years of Chad Henne. Each player can only appear once: no receiving corps of Braylon, Braylon, and Braylon.
This will be a hellacious battle. The candidates:
Navarre has the most yards, touchdwns, and interceptions but he also has the most attempts by over 100. His YPA was a healthy 7.3, but Brady (7.6), Henne (7.6), and Henson (9.0!) exceed it. He's out. Griese goes, too, as the pilot of an efficient-ish but by no means dominant 1997 attack. His YPA also falls short. Mallett... uh.
We're left with Brady, Henne, and Henson. You know all about Chad Henne, whose senior season might have dusted everyone on the list if he had, you know, got to play it. Brady is the god-king of New England, currently siring a litter of future foot-bots with supermodels. Drew Henson is nothing, a failure at both football and baseball, the man who subjected all of us to John Navarre's 2001 season.
And... he's the guy. 9.0 YPA is ridiculous. 18 touchdowns against 4 interceptions is ridiculous. Completing over 60 percent of your passes for almost 15 yards per is ridiculous. Doing all this despite missing Michigan's opening tomato can games against Bowling Green and Rice is even more ridiculous. Michigan's 2000 offense scored 30 or more points in nine of twelve games, lit up Penn State, Ohio State, and Auburn to close out the year, and averaged 34 points per game. Henson benefited from a host of weapons, a killer offensive line, and that year's nightmare secondary (which forced Michigan to keep the pedal to the metal at all times), but... Jesus, the numbers don't lie. Damn you, Steinbrenner.
Tom Brady 1999. I spent the first half of the Orange Bowl screaming, writhing, pounding the floor, begging them to "throw it to Terrell." They did, eventually, but only after finding themselves in a 14 point hole.
Chad Henne 2006. Sigh.
Note: two of the best three seasons from a quarterback under Carr were from juniors whose senior seasons more or less didn't happen. How much different does Carr's legacy look if "Henson 2001" and "Henne 2007" are two of the top three?
And now for the least surprising selection ever ever...
Braylon's 2003 season is a close runner-up, but two things put his 2004 over the top: sheer production (12 additional catches and about 200 more yards) and the single most dominating performance by a Michigan wide receiver in the last six minutes of an embarrassing loss turned ridiculous victory ever:
Yeah, a winrar is he. Now we're left deciding between these gentlemen:
(Toomer isn't eligible since he left right before Carr's first season (1995), but I just wanted to throw out his stats so I can ask this question: how in the hell did Amani Toomer average over twenty yards a catch and only have six touchdowns?)
There's not much to choose from, but some context: Manningham managed to haul in all those passes despite being saddled with Ryan Mallet a third of the year and a broken Chad Henne for another third. Walker was the lone threat on Michigan's dire 2001 offense helmed by a not ready for primetime John Navarre. TE Bill Seymour was next on Michigan's receiving charts with 27 catches. The year before, Terrell had Walker as a competent sidekick and Drew Henson throwing to him.
Could it be that Mario Manningham's 2007 season, which virtually every Michigan fan was disappointed with, was
the second-best in the Carr era? Maybe. But I remember David Terrell as an all-around threat who could beat you deep or catch a slant, and though he flamed out in the NFL he was the #8 pick in his draft year. I
Walker 2001 and Manningham 2007 are significantly better than their challengers...
Jason Avant in a nutshell:
I will accept my stoning at noon tomorrow: it's not Mike Hart. It's not even close to being Mike Hart. Hart's best season was probably his junior year, wherein he had 1562 yards on 318 carries, 4.9 per. He had 144 yards against Ohio State in a sorta-kinda close loss.
In 1995, some guy with a funny name did this:
His name was Tshimanga Biakabutuka, and in 1995 he had 1818 yards on 303 carries, six yards per. 313 of those came against Ohio State in a 31-23 win. 1818 yards remains the Michigan single-season rushing record. Michigan football comes up regularly in conversations with my mother and about twice a year she lingers over the many syllables of "Tshimunga Biakabutuka" two or three times apropos of nothing. He was selected in the first round of the NFL draft and during the brief period in which I played fantasy football, he was always but always on my team, injured half the time (always when playing) and running for 160 yards and two touchdowns the other half of the time (always when benched).
And I wasn't even a little mad.
Statistically, this is Anthony Thomas. His 2000 season is the second most-prolific in Michigan history, with 1733 yards at 5.4 YPC and 18 touchdowns. And if it's not Anthony Thomas, it's Chris Perry. In 2003 Perry rushed for 1721 yards and 18 TDs at 5.0 per. Against Michigan State he set an all-time record with 51 carries. In the history of game-worn jerseys, his is the most worn.
But... Mike Hart's offensive line in 2006 was Jake Long and four guys who can only see an NFL game if they buy a ticket. And he never fumbled. And he windmilled his little legs and stoned Dan Connor over and over again, and I just like him better. So it's Mike Hart 2006, with apologies to the aforementioned duo.
I guess it depends what you want in a fullback. Do you want a quasi-tailback? Then BJ Askew's your guy. Do you want a quasi-tight end? Aaron Shea's your guy. Do you want someone to crush a linebacker into a white-hot furrow of snapped limbs and smoke?
Maybe I've been hopelessly biased by this lingering image of Chris Floyd giving the business to some poor Wisconsin defensive back (in the snow, no less), but for my money Floyd was your #1 limb-snapper fullback in the Carr era. He was such a badass that Michigan gave him the ball some 30 times his senior year lest he eat one of the freshmen.
If Floyd was the #1 limb-snapper, Chris Dudley was 1A. He plowed a path for Mike Hart's breakout freshman season. Also, Owen Schmitt didn't play at Michigan or under Carr but he did play for Rich Rodriguez, who has met Lloyd Carr, and is so awesome that we should figure out some way to claim him, too. We will never rest until everything good about West Virginia has been appropriated for our purposes!
This is a two-man battle. (Ha!)
Joppru came from nowhere to be John Navarre's safety valve and go-to third down receiver his junior year. He is now the shining archetype of a bad-senior-gone-good that excessively optimistic types trot out every fall when things like "Chris Graham, starting OLB" are suggested. Tuman caused Michigan fans to fall in love with the waggle. 1996 was actually Tuman's sophomore year; his '97 was slightly less productive and by '98 his YPC came down to around 9.
This is terribly close and depends on what you value. 16 YPC out of a tight end is something else, but Joppru was the Jason Avant of 2002. Joppru seemed to be more integral to the offense, with a knack for spectacular catches and critical third down conversions, and was more highly regarded by the NFL, so I think he wins.
Tuman; flip a coin between '96 and '97.
LT Jake Long, 2007. All American, first pick in the NFL draft.
LG Steve Hutchinson, 2000. Two-time All American. Four year starter. Probable NFL Hall of Famer.
C Rod Payne, 1996. All American.
RG David Baas, 2003. All American, Rimington Award winner (in 2004).
RT John Runyan, 1995. All American. Long time NFL pro bowler.
Holy God. The best way to sum up this collection is to list the players left out: Jeff Backus, Jon Jansen (All American, 1998), Maurice Williams (longtime NFLer), and Jonathan Goodwin. There is some weakness at guard, where Damon Denson was the best pros
pect left out and David Baas' junior season was used so Rod Payne could get on the hypothetical field.
LT Jeff Backus, 2000
LG Jonathan Goodwin, 2000
C Dave Pearson, 2003
RG Damon Denson, 1996
RT Jon Jansen, 1998
Yeah, Mo Williams still doesn't get on the field.
1/1/2008 - Michigan 41, Florida 35 - 9-4, 6-2 Big Ten
1/2/2008 - West Virginia 48, Oklahoma 28 - 11-2, 6-2 Big East
Every year in February, people around the country who happen to be something other than Chinese vaguely recognize the existence of the Chinese New Year, a holiday that seems simultaneously old and strangely futuristic, much like the odder outposts of Chinese cooking. ("Oyster cake." The mind reels.) Chinese people, of course, go nuts for the biggest holiday on the calendar.
It's later than it should be, it's flashy, enticing, and rousing, and it seems vaguely superior* to old fashioned New Year's largely because of unfamiliarity: the past two days have been Super Chinese New Football Millennium for Michigan fans.
It was nice to send out the old regime with a rousing win. It was better to see it happen with an offense that looked remarkably similar to Rich Rodriguez's spread 'n' shred. And, truthfully, it was better still to watch West Virginia carve the nation's #9 scoring defense into Sooner tots and hold the nation's #3 scoring offense 15 points under its average. Hell, if West Virginia wasn't forced to play Ryan Mundy they would have yielded two fewer personal fouls and one fewer 60-ish yard pass reception and possibly turned the game into the laugher it always threatened to become.
Rich Rodriguez put that team together, and though he was absent the framework of that team's offense and defense were his responsibility. That team's offensive and defensive coordinators will be Michigan's offensive and defensive coordinators. That team's recruiting coordinator will be Michigan's recruiting coordinator. And that team was a national-championship-caliber one cobbled together from quarterbacks LSU wanted as a wide receiver and terror-beast fullbacks from Division III schools in Wisconsin.
This might have been a good hire.
Meanwhile in Orlando, Michigan put on a show that was at once tantalizing and depressing. Let's be clear: Michigan's ability to put up numbers like this would not have saved them against Wisconsin and Ohio State, when Ryan Mallett and Chad Henne's busted shoulder combined to put up the worst back-to-back quarterbacking performances in Lloyd Carr's career, but it's impossible to watch Michigan refuse to punt after the first quarter and not wonder "what if" about a half-dozen games over the past decade. Even the one standout piece of Lloydery, Michigan's final run-run-run-oops-let's-FG drive, was apparently the result of a screwed up Henne check instead of Lloyd Carr giving his old "how to lose in the fourth quarter" playbook one last spin.
(Not that there should have been the option for a run check there anyway, and it is mighty suspicious that Henne would prefer said run, as it makes no sense unless you've undergone some serious protect-ball-all-costs brainwashing. But nevermind all that. It doesn't matter.)
And any questions about said lose-it-late playbook were obliterated when Ron English did what he'd done all day: make the Florida offensive line look like Ohio State's in the Not Fiesta Bowl last year. He attacked.
The whole team attacked; the whole team looked entirely different, like a group of people determined to make the future something of their own devising. One of the most frustrating aspects of the Carr era was the frequent appearance that Michigan is coached like it is afraid of a poor outcome. For an example, check any late-game punt from inside the opponent's 40. Too often Michigan has passed up the right call in favor of the safe call, and it has cost them.
But not this year, and not in the future. Michigan took control of the Heisman winner, battering him until his final pass wobbled skyward and fell to the ground. West Virginia met every attempted Oklahoma comeback with a thunderous riposte. No shells. No idly hoping things fall your way. No waiting to be given something. Reach out and take it. It's a new year.
- And so it goes when Michigan plays the SEC. Even leaving aside the Vanderbilt game, Michigan is 5-1 against the home of "southern speed" in their last six bowl matchups. Why does the SEC suck so much? Why can't they be competitive against us? Am I enjoying being as parochial and narrow-minded as virtually every football fan south of Maryland? No, not really.
- Do we like the 3-3-5 a little more now? The final numbers were respectable for Oklahoma -- 419 yards and 28 points -- but WVU was ahead so much most of the night that OU was in desperation mode from midway in the third quarter on. OU's final two drives netted a useless 76 yards as WVU was correctly in a full-on prevent; without those this team held OU 100 yards under its season average. (This is obviously not quite fair, but if WVU had been grinding the clock out instead of, like, scoring on the first play of every drive those yards would never have happened; WVU's D faced 14 drives, a hefty total.)
- And that was with OU almost literally holding on every play, the sort of holds that get called "egregious" by the announcers, not the sort of holds Penn State fans envision whenever someone in a winged helmet deigns to block anyone. OU picked up a half-dozen holding calls; another half-dozen must-calls went unnoticed. WVU dominated one of the most grinding, powerful offensive lines in the country with their speed and angles. They did this without the use of their best defensive lineman for most of the night.
- Jeff Casteel would be A-OK by me.
- FOX is a terrible network to watch college football on. At points during the Fiesta last night we were treated to the following instead of onfield action: 1) an ad for some stupid movie, 2) an inversion of the "dingle berry" picture that lit up the hur-hur-hur sections of the blogosphere earlier this year, and most egregiously 3) completely inert Gatorade containers. Anyone who wasn't Pat Haden was completely useless.
- B&B made mention of this, and it's true: the gap between Mike Patrick and Todd Blackledge is immense. Blackledge made the most salient point I've heard an announcer make all year when he pointed out that though Tim Tebow has a gazillion rushing yards and touchdowns, he's not Dennis Dixon or Armanti Edwards and the threat of Owen Schmitt taking off and rumbling through your secondary just doesn't come with the same elevated threat level. I actually said out loud to no one in particular "huh. That's a really good p
oint." Meanwhile, Mike Patrick called Arrington "Harrington" for most of the first half.
- The one downer in an otherwise schwing kind of game yesterday was the parade of personal fouls; twice WVU got not one but two on the same play; both times one of the offenders was Mundy. This is probably a fluke; I'll take a look at RR's penalty yardage over the years at some point in an attempt to confirm. Also, we can blame that on interim head coach Bill Stewart.
- SMQB has us pegged.
- Achtung, pounding PA FB/HB Christian Wilson and your potentially iffy commitment:
This offense... it's not so bad for you.
(*Less chance of waking up with a raging hangover and an ominous creaking/neighing sound coming from the other side of the bed; also the parades seem way more fun.)
The easy answer is "we'll never know." But that's not particularly satisfying, is it?
What happened, considering Miles' earlier indications that he wanted to return home to the school he played at and was an assistant coach under Bo Schembechler?
A source close to the situation said what was always a close call was pushed the breaking point by the two-week interval between Carr's retirement and the SEC title game, and the combination of LSU's hefty contract offer and the ESPN report on game day made Miles opt to stay.
The source would not comment when asked if Carr's silence on Miles candidacy - widely interpreted as a sign of animosity between the two men and Carr's opposition to Miles succeeding him - was a factor in the decision.
...[Miles] had been in contact with Michigan through back channels for weeks. Through intermediaries, Miles' representatives and Michigan were hammering out the terms of an agreement.
Miles knew Michigan was prepared to offer a five-year deal. He knew how much money Michigan was prepared to offer. He was fine with it.
But the key word here is "prepared." Despite what you may have heard or read, this was never a done deal.
And Miles knew it.
Rosenberg's theory is that the money getting worked out was but a prelude to a job offer, not the result of one:
Martin was not going to hire a coach without an extended one-on-one interview, and he couldn't conduct that until after Saturday's SEC title game. ...
He just needed to know the Michigan job was his. And Michigan couldn't make that promise.
This is scenario A: Martin, weirdly, operates in an inverted paradigm where you work out the financial details of a contract, then interview for the job. Michigan went through the first portion of this process with Miles agent and a tentative agreement was reached on the numbers.
This explains the "done deal" stuff as soon as the Ferentz thing passed. This also explains the weird split on the information I was receiving: pro-Miles guys knew about the tentative agreement and made the reasonable assumption any sort of "interview" would be strictly PR, since a 36-6 coach who loves the university more than life itself is obviously the best man for the job. Meanwhile, guys nearer the search committee were hearing that Miles had to dance for Carr and Martin as part of a full search process that, given Carr's strident opposition to Miles' candidacy, could well end with no offer.
The source from the LSU side of things is very well connected and offers up this explanation of events from the other side:
Vincent (AD) evidentially gave Miles an ultimatum. He told Miles that if he was considering the UM job that he would be fired on the spot and not be able to coach the SEC championship game.
So Miles told his agent to work out the details with LSU for a contract extension. That's why he went on ESPN at 1:30 and sounded as though he was totally pissed off about Herbstreit. Had Kirk not said anything and ESPN not reported on the rumors, Miles may have talked to Martin yesterday.
This has been widely mongered on the internets, and though it seems far fetched -- LSU would fire the head coach on the eve of the SEC championship game? -- please consider this is the South and crazier things have happened in the SEC. Hell, Michigan fired Frieder on the eve of the NCAA tournament. It could have been a bluff, but put yourself in Miles' spot: LSU has threatened to fire you unless you agree to a contract extension. Meanwhile, Michigan refuses to assure you that you'll be offered the job and you know elements of the athletic department wouldn't piss on you if you were on fire. Do you take the risk of calling the LSU bluff and possibly finding yourself without any job?
Well, you probably call Michigan frantically to see what's going on, to give them an update of your situation, and attempt to work something out now. Which is apparently what happened. And Michigan did not respond. Thus the press conference and Miles keeping the LSU job. If you are so inclined, you can hear some bitterness in Miles' postgame press conference:
I certainly love Michigan. I love Michigan. I will always be a Michigan man. I will always root for the next head coach there. I will wear those colors when it comes down to the Ohio Michigan game. I'm going to root and pull for the Blue, and they will eventually win that game (laughter).
There's a proud tradition, and they have to do the things they have to do. I'm for them, and if there's any way I can help them, I'd love to help them. But I'm not going there. It saddens me at times. I can't be at two places.
On Saturday I wondered what an extra 500k or 1m per year would do for an already rich man, as if it was Miles' fault he wasn't coming to Michigan. I don't believe that anymore. This was a colossal screwup by Bill Martin, aided by Lloyd Carr. But they probably don't see it like that. They see it as protecting the program.
How do you not have an extended one-on-one interview with the man obviously most qualified for the job at this point? Michigan has known Carr was retiring since September, and Martin knows literally dozens of Miles' friends. Hell, John Wangler is his BFF. Call Wangler into your office, have him call Miles, and have a goddamn interview on the phone. There is no excuse for failing to hammer out whatever potential differences existed months ago. All this interview stuff is purely for show if we are operating under the assumption Martin has an IQ above 60.
We do assume that around these parts, so the inescapable conclusion: Michigan essentially passed on Miles. If Michigan really wanted Miles, Michigan would have him. That much was made clear by Miles' season-long "woo Michigan" campaign of newspaper articles and TV appearances. Hell, the week of the Ohio State game you couldn't turn on a sports talk station without hearing Miles wax poetic about Bo. Everyone near the program knew Miles wanted the job more than anything. He loves the program.
But his love is unrequited. That has a tendency to embitter people towards the object loved. When LSU made it very clear they wanted Miles, had no reservations about him, and were willing to make a hefty financial commitment to prove it, it was an easy decision. Michigan wanted him to prostrate himself. Good football coaches often being prideful, this was not likely to happen, especially with the pressures imposed by LSU and ESPN. Thus: this.
Two weeks ago, Carr retired. In his press conference he stridently declared he would have only a minimal role in the search and that the timing of his retirement would have no effect. Two weeks later, he maintains plausible deniability. But only just.
- If Michigan hires someone who fails and gets fired real quick, the Herbstreit report will be the fan equivalent of the Kennedy assassination. Who told him? Was it, as Miles suggested, "an Ohio State plot"? Miles said that in jest, but the way everything worked out could not have been better for OSU.
There are two main theories on the leak: Desmond Howard, his ESPN co-worker and a member of the search committee, and Jim Tressel. Howard obviously has a vested interest in not telling Herbstreit anything. Tressel, OTOH, is interesting: that move would be the Machiavellian genius I now, sadly, expect from Tressel whenever Michigan blunders into his path. The "AND they're getting Tenuta!!!" bit is appar
ently without even the slightest grounding in real life -- Tenuta denied having even spoken to Miles yesterday -- and implies that maybe the whole thing was just batty nonsense. Who would have the pull with Herbstreit to say "and, like, Tenuta, dude" and get it aired? (Not that Herby is complicit here; the theory is he's Tressel's dupe.)
That is totally crazy, sure. But maybe I'm a little crazy.
- Debunking myself: we assume that Herbstreit actually unearthed anything because he was the guy who said it. If you believe this, you are forced to believe that Mark May is busy unearthing all sorts of scoops. Hell, he's finding out who our next coach is right now!
Another possibility: someone else at ESPN heard it and it was put in pretty boy's mouth to make the talking heads look more credible.
- More in the Rosenberg piece:
Two people familiar with the process say Cincinnati coach Brian Kelly is not a candidate. He will not be a candidate. I don't have a specific reason, but Kelly has rubbed people the wrong way at various points in his climb up the ladder.
Great. Raise your hand if you think the 1968 version of Bo Schembechler would be even slightly considered by this set of decision makers. That's what I thought. "Rub people the wrong way"... the entire athletic department has been infected with this crap.
- List of people guaranteed not to rub anyone in this AD the wrong way: Jim Grobe, Mike Debord, Brady Hoke, Ty Willingham.
- What now? Schiano's name is getting thrown about a lot, as is Tedford, but by media folks. Given the way the search has gone so far, with Michigan high on Ferentz early (yes, I screwed up my first post about the Ferentz situation, but he was a very serious candidate), lukewarm about Miles, and apparently uninterested in Kelly, it's clear Michigan has different priorities than
It appears they're actually serious about the Lloyd clone bit... but who is that? Terrifyingly, Grobe seems the closest.
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.
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.