Radio mishap. Sorry to streaming listeners who ended up getting a nonstop pile of ads about halfway through the show. We don't know what happened there; we've reached out to WTKA and they say that should not recur. Podcasts should be coming, possibly tomorrow. We're still working out the kinks.
RAGE now comes with official approval. The Big Ten said "whoops" on the punt flag:
Harbaugh asked the Big Ten for an explanation on the call, and during his radio show Monday night, said the league basically offered an apology for an officiating error.
"You just want to be able to know what to tell your team, that's why we ask, that's why we inquire," Harbaugh said. "Once the punter goes outside the tackle box, you don't know if he's a runner or he's going to punt the ball. He's afforded the same protection a quarterback would be when he's outside the pocket. If he throws the ball, he can be hit like a quarterback.
"They would've rather not thrown a flag on that. ... That's what they said."
They have not as yet apologized for the various other errors this crew inflicted on Michigan: the opening-play PI against Darboh is blatant, as is a hold on James Ross that sprung one of Oregon State's big runs on their touchdown drive. Michigan got hoooooosed on Saturday and still won 35-7.
Chris Brown on Power. An excellent primer on something Michigan's going to be running a ton of for the foreseeable future:
“There is nothing magical about the Power play,” Paul Alexander, the Cincinnati Bengals’ longtime offensive line coach, said at a coaching clinic in 2012. Almost every NFL team runs Power, though some (like the Seahawks, Vikings, Steelers, and Bills) will emphasize it more than others, and it has produced some of the most dramatic plays in recent memory, including Marshawn Lynch’s infamous Beast Mode run. The idea behind Power is as old as football itself, as having an overwhelming force at the point of attack was an obvious strategy as soon as someone first picked up a football; versions of the play pop up as far back as in Michigan coach Fielding Yost’s playbook from 1905. But NFL coaches have spent the past 20 years tweaking and adjusting the play, and now the proper form is gospel.
Brown details the various responsibilities the players have. This one in particular is something De'Veon Smith had trouble with in week one:
Running back: Veteran NFL offensive line coach Mike Solari, who’s currently with the Green Bay Packers, says he prefers to tell the running back to “read the alphabet: Read from the playside A to B to C to D gaps for a running lane.” But the running back’s real key to success on Power is to let the blocking develop. “People ask me what I tell our running backs,” said Shaw at the 2013 clinic. “Mostly what we tell our running backs is [have] patience.”
He improved a considerable amount in week two.
Staples on the State of Michigan. SI's Andy Staples took in the doubleheader this weekend:
Graham Glasgow has just finished explaining the importance of pad level as it relates to play along the line of scrimmage—short version: the low man wins—when the Michigan fifth-year senior center says something telling. "I felt better in this loss," Glasgow says, "than I would after some of our wins last year."
Five days earlier, the Wolverines lost their season opener at Utah. Four days from now, Michigan will make its home debut under coach Jim Harbaugh against Oregon State. As Glasgow says those words, he stands in the Towsley Family Museum in Schembechler Hall. He is a few feet from the "Win Wall," a massive glass enclosure that, on this particular Tuesday, features a football representing each of Michigan's 915 all-time wins. In another part of the room, the words of former Michigan coach Fritz Crisler are carved into wood.
"Tradition is something you can't bottle. You can't buy it at the corner store. But it is there to sustain you when you need it most. I've called upon it time and time again. And so have countless other Michigan athletes and coaches. There is nothing like it. I hope it never dies."
Glasgow's words suggest that in 2014 Michigan's football tradition was dying.
Whole thing is worth a read.
This week in good quotes. Blake O'Neill quizzed about his modeling career:
"All sorts of things,"he said Monday at Michigan's weekly news conference. "Fashion modeling, catwalk, anything.
"I was a little budding Zoolander."
He does not have a "Blue Steel" look.
Who will I scoff at now? Texas deep-sixes Brandon 2.0:
University of Texas President Gregory L. Fenves is expected to fire embattled athletic director Steve Patterson, and the move could come this morning, a Houston-based source with knowledge of the situation told the American-Statesman.
Fenves and Patterson are meeting Tuesday morning, the Statesman learned.
It could bring an end to a tumultuous 22-month journey for the athletic department during which fans grew outraged over higher ticket prices and Patterson battled the perception that his cool demeanor simply does not fit UT’s style.
"Cool demeanor" is the nice way of saying it.
Good on Texas for dumping their version of the buzzword-spewing Emperor's New CEO after less than two years. That Patterson got himself fired after making what look to be excellent hires in both football and basketball speaks to just how hated he was by just about everyone. Justifiably. Hell, I have no connection to Texas whatsoever and I hated him because he was bad for college football, all of it.
Hopefully they've got a Hackett hanging around.
— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) September 15, 2015
That would be a terrible idea, but on the other hand I would no longer have to listen to him relentlessly praise every coach in every situation. ("Not many coaches would feed their quarterback to an alligator at halftime, Rece, but Tim Beckman is an innovative thinker.") I approve.
Oh right. The legend:
— Will Brinson (@WillBrinson) September 15, 2015
I'm sure that will last.
Injuries and more injuries and Rutgers. Michigan's gotten through the first couple weeks of the season without anything serious happening to their players; other than Bryan Mone they're as close to completely healthy as a group of people playing football can be. This is not the case for a number of upcoming Michigan opponents.
BYU is of course down Taysom Hill and relying on freshman-ish Tanner Mangum, who was a big recruit a couple years back and is just off his Mormon mission. On the other hand, that linebacker who bingle-bangled a Boise State player right in the dingle-dangle will somehow not be suspended—nice to not have a conference sometimes. Michigan players will have to keep an eye on the family jewels.
Minnesota has a number of guys out with relatively minor issues but may have lost WR KJ Maye to a broken rib.
And then of course Rutgers. Star WR Leonte Caroo was the latest Scarlet Knight to get arrested. He's been suspended indefinitely for an "altercation" outside the stadium Saturday night that resulted in a domestic violence arrest. What exactly went down is still unclear, but if you poke around On The Banks the impression their comments give is that Rutgers insider types think it's pretty serious and we may not see Carroo for a while. Oh and they didn't list Darius Hamilton on their most recent depth chart because he has an undisclosed injury of some variety. And of course five guys got arrested for armed robbery and transferred to Michigan State before the season started.
Rutgers fans are now calling this "their darkest hour," which may be true if the history of Rutgers football started with Greg Schiano. It does not.
Speaking of Rutgers. Julie Herrmann has a job! Still! She is employed and everything! She probably has a company car and a dental plan!
Unhappy Moeller. Via Dr. Sap:
How the Norfleet thing went down. Via the man himself:
“To be honest, everything caught me off-guard,” Norfleet said. “It just happened. (Harbaugh and I) weren’t seeing eye to eye. Nothing real big. We had disagreements but nothing serious. He thought I was going to be ineligible, and I wasn’t. He is real big on academics. That’s one thing I can say about Jim Harbaugh — he’s going to make sure these players are going to class.”
Norfleet said Harbaugh never told him he wanted him on the team.
“I never got that at all,” Norfleet said. “The only thing I got was, come back a semester to get a degree. Not play football. He wanted me to use my scholarship. I still love Michigan, though, as a whole. Sometimes, you’ve got to move on.”
Unfortunate all around, but it seems like Michigan was willing to have him around even if he wasn't going to play. That seems to have smoothed over things with Detroit King.
It's not a crisis if you complain about it every year and things are just fine. The only person more prone to complain about spread offenses than NFL scouts and coaches is Gary Danielson, and the arguments the NFL has are about as good as Danielson's:
…if current trends continue, NFL insiders say, quarterbacks who have the sophistication to outfox NFL defenses to deliver the ball to open receivers are “going to be on the endangered species list,” said Cleveland Browns coach Mike Pettine. “The quarterback may not be gone yet,” he added, “but if you have one, protect it.”
“It’s doomsday if we don’t adapt and evolve,” said St. Louis Rams general manager Les Snead.
These people are just in charge of things for no reason and should be given the Patterson/Brandon treatment. Half of the top ten rookie QB seasons in NFL history have come since 2011. Those five seasons came from Robert Griffin, Russell Wilson, Teddy Bridgewater, Cam Newton, and Mike Glennon. Three of those guys came from out-and-out spread offenses. After one game Marcus Mariota looks set to join them.
A parade of general managers, like Pittsburgh’s Kevin Colbert, think that if the current model holds, the notion of drafting a quarterback to start right away will need to be scrapped.
Cleveland’s Farmer has one idea: What if you could design an offense to minimize the passing deficiencies of modern quarterback prospects?
WHAT WOULD THAT EVEN LOOK LIKE?
Etc.: Mike Riley literally has his team yelling "hip hip hooray" after games. Flanders, the coach. Local news talking with El Harberino. Jake Lourim with a longform on ECA, Freddy Canteen and Brandon Watson's school. Wide pin down. Harbaugh profile (autoplaying audio warning). SMH NCAA. UNLV is not good. Holdin' The Rope.
For a time he danced.
But he will not return.
As previously reported, Norfleet is gone-gone. Despite him telling his former teammates he'll miss them on Instagram and every insider-y thing saying it was already a foregone conclusion, some of us held out hope for as long as it took the coaches to say it was official. Michigan posting a fall roster without him on it was more confirmation. Tuskegee publishing a roster with him on it means it's time to give up the ghost.
Michigan enters fall camp with 2 or 3 open scholarships for this year, depending on whether you count the long snapper. Norfleet would not have affected next year's numbers.
I am sad.
Have a middle-schooler? I mean in a parenting way, not a hostage way. Don't take child hostages. I shouldn't have to tell my readers this but some of you probably tweet recruits, so you have to be told everything.
Anyway, Jordan Morgan's having a camp for seventh and eighth graders:
Details and registration at Morgan's website. Don't tweet at recruits or take child hostages.
Photo day, 1993. Featuring hirsute Eli Zaret.
Via Dr. Sap, naturally.
How are watchlists going, then? Like this.
Yes, but interesting since it's this guy. Disney CEO on the future of ESPN, which it owns:
“I think eventually ESPN becomes a business that is sold directly to the consumers,” Mr. Iger said.
ESPN, which is majority-owned by Disney, could use information from that direct consumer relationship to customize its product and enable more personalization, which will engage fans in a “much more effective way,” he said.
Mr. Iger cautioned that such an offering is not “right around the corner”; even five years down the line, he believes there won’t have been “significant change” in the pay TV business.
Except in scale, which will continue to contract as more and more people who don't care about sports figure out they couldn't get through their Netflix queue without turning into a TV hermit.
But you're a robot. Nick Saban on romance:
Lots of life lessons in the new Nick Saban biography. pic.twitter.com/l2MFUy07vm
— Ben Cohen (@bzcohen) July 27, 2015
I have no idea what to do with this. So I have given it to you, to boggle and gawk at.
Some confirmation. There was a report on the board a few days ago that Dennis Norfleet would be seeking a transfer to Tuskegee. We couldn't confirm it on any open social media channels, but it was a weird enough location that it seemed true. And it appears he's at least exploring the possibility:
A spokesman at Tuskegee University told MLive on Monday afternoon that the university received official permission to speak with Norfleet about a potential transfer to the school over the weekend.
I'll be here by the seaside waiting for a return that will never come.
Further adventures in Steve Patterson. They include being so cheap that one of your football assistant coaches ends up having a trial during football season, but this is the moment when Michael Scott goes to a customer and kills it:
Patterson says he believes he knew what [Jimmy] Sexton was up to. “I’ve known Jimmy for 30 years,” he says. “I told him if he wanted to come here and drink bourbon and eat barbecue and talk about Saban, that’d be fine. But I told him not to come here if he just wanted to get Saban an extension and a raise at Alabama, which I thought was his intention all along.
“Of course, Jimmy took great affront to that, which is fine. He was just doing his job. But that was the end of the conversation. I never talked to Saban and we never made an offer.”
Correct, Steve Patterson. It's especially impressive since the rest of the article is filled with star-struck Longhorns thinking "THIS IS TEXAS" and believing Jimmy Sexton's crap about how there's too much pressure to win at Alabama. People lost their damn minds when Sexton came around with his old song and dance.
Well done not screwing around with that and locking down Charlie Strong, Steve Patterson. Not well done: everything else.
This is a reason Hoosiers is good. I agree with Rodger Sherman that Famous Movie Hoosiers hasn't aged well, especially when the integrated team shows up, but I mean come on:
Gene Hackman plays the role of Norman Dale, the down-on-his-luck coach that we're supposed to be sympathetic towards. We find out that he used to coach in college, then was in the Navy. Then later, we find out that the reason he got fired from his college job is because... he hit a kid.
At the beginning of the movie, it's tough to find out why we should like Dale. He's not presented as funny or likable or charismatic or even nice.
Then, we find out that he punched one of his players, and he goes from a mediocre guy I don't care about to somebody I strongly dislike. Dale was an authority figure who used physical force against a person he was supposed to protect and nurture, which in my opinion is the least sympathetic type of person in the world.
I kind of think this should be a one-strike-and-you're-out deal. If you don't have the self-control to avoid hitting kids, you shouldn't be allowed to coach kids anymore, ever. I want this person to fail and think the people of Hickory are bad people for letting this person coach their children.
A lot of times, a character with obvious flaws redeems those flaws over the course of a movie. But Dale never conquers his anger issues, consistently putting his assistant coaches -- one of whom has a heart disease, one of whom is an alcoholic attempting to recover, both of which are types of people who shouldn't be subjected to unnecessary, sudden amounts of stress -- in charge.
Dale is presented as a jerk and remains a jerk all film long. Are we supposed to be proud that all he did was yell at the players and refs and didn't actually hit anybody?
That the head coach and pretty-much main character in the movie is a nearly unredeemed jerko is probably historically accurate. It is also a more accurate representation of life—people don't change much—than any of the Angels In The "Lidz" Store movies that Sherman apparently keeps in a constant rotation at SB Nation headquarters.
This impression only grows stronger because Sherman's next criticism is that there is no montage scene where all the players decide they're going to honor their dead grandmothers and/or General MacArthur. Hoosiers is not The Mighty Ducks. This is not a problem.
3. Which program will emerge as a potential Top 10 team?
Michigan. … John Beilein's team is a bit of an afterthought heading into next season. It won't stay that way for long. Walton, LeVert, Spike Albrecht, and Zak Irvin (77 made 3-point shots last season) give this team a savvy and experienced perimeter while both Aubrey Dawkins and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman got valuable minutes last season as freshman. Ricky Doyle, D.J. Wilson, and Mark Donnal should stabilize the post and if the Wolverines can get more out of the “stretch four” position they should be loaded for bear.
It should be a fun year for a lot of reasons. Probably not hockey-related ones.
Too soon. Toys R Us appears headed to bankruptcy, or at best a near miss:
Insurance companies are cutting back on their coverage of Toys “R” Us Inc. suppliers, bringing another headache to a retailer that has suffered more than two years of losses, people familiar with the matter said.
Coface SA and Euler Hermes Group, which sell credit insurance to vendors, are canceling some policies and declining to renew others, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the process isn’t public. The carriers may still negotiate with some vendors to keep providing some coverage, one of the people said.
Losing coverage could raise concerns for toy suppliers as they weigh the risks of shipping to the retail chain, which scrapped plans for an initial public offering in 2013. Credit insurance protects suppliers in case a retailer fails to pay them for merchandise, as in the event of a bankruptcy.
Unfortunately this is too early to point the finger at Dave Brandon and scream "j'accuse!" It does seem like he was brought into an insoluble situation to take the fall, which is a nice karma thing.
Really. I'm typing this blind since my eyeballs have rolled so far back in my head that you can touch my optical nerve:
Don't touch my optical nerve, or take child hostages, or tweet recruits, or let Rutgers in the Big Ten.
Etc.: Wolverine Historian updates his A-Train tribute. Piesman Trophy is go. Bowl games don't spring teams to better seasons. Talking with John Wangler. Talking with Tyler Motte. BRING YOUR CHAMPIONS. Michigan-shaped biscuits? I'm listening. IS MY WIFE THOUGH?
Dennis Norfleet's murky situation has blown up into the first real PR crisis of the Harbaugh administration. Unfortunately for Michigan, it's one they're legally prohibited from saying much of anything about. FERPA restricts their ability to say much other than "he is on the team" or "he is off the team." Right now Michigan isn't saying either. They've gone with this:
A Michigan athletic department spokesman told The Detroit News that the situation was "an internal matter."
All right then.
Harvel added about Norfleet's situation: "If only one kid out of 120 is missing class, they must be the No. 1 program in the country (for football players' academic achievements)."
Harvel has repeatedly said things like "we're not going to let him be a victim," outed private conversations he had with Fred Jackson, publicly bemoaned his decision to switch away from a Cincinnati program on the verge of hiring Tommy Tuberville, and generally done everything in his power to make academic standards like "go to all your finals" seem nefarious. Usually when high school coaches blow up like this it's because their kid has seen his scholarship yanked for a dubious reason, or none at all.
It was Harvel who leaked the apparently erroneous information that Norfleet was gone, which turned the story from message board rumor* to something that every local news organization has dedicated big stories to. It was Harvel who went full steam ahead with the information that Norfleet was not doing things expected of him in the classroom. He is the #1 reason this is a thing. Because Norfleet is a "victim."
I mean, you know me. I just about challenged Brady Hoke to a fight about Norfleet's misuse during his tenure as head coach. But if Norfleet is no longer on the team because he missed several classes and did not attend at least one and possibly more finals, that is on one person: Dennis Norfleet.
And Jim Harbaugh cannot be concerned with just Norfleet here. It's his first semester as head coach and he's just going to let that slide? What kind of message does that send to the other 84 kids on scholarship? Is that likely to improve or degrade the overall academic performance of the program?
The answers to those rhetorical questions are obvious to everyone except Harvel. Privately resolving issues with the head coach—and there have been a number so far that have been so resolved—is more likely to create a positive outcome both in the short-term individual player level and for your relationship with a major school of interest to your players. But Harvel has decided that grandstanding without information that is, you know, correct is more important.
I hope Norfleet makes it back. His coach isn't helping.
*[Albeit one that was more credible than your garden-variety internet rando mutterings since it had the backing of John Borton, an editor at Rivals. It is not hard to trace the path here: Borton names Norfleet, Nick Baumgardner starts checking it out, hits upon the King coaches, and then the tempest takes over the teapot. This is why I don't report on potential transfers anymore. I would rather not spend a week with my head in an alligator's mouth, thanks.]
Via Sam Webb this morning:
Contrary to multiple published reports citing comments for Norfleet’s high school coach, Detroit King headman Dale Harvel, the senior kick/punt returner has not been dismissed from the football team….
“He has been suspended for the past three weeks,” the source said.
He may or may not make it back.
A Detroit King assistant did tweet out something about trying to get Norfleet to graduate. That seemed to imply that Norfleet could be up for a graduate transfer; it also implies that if there's any damage to his transcript it's not so far gone that he's doomed.
the last of the famous international playboys
This rumor had been floating around for a couple weeks now, picked up steam on Rivals this morning, and has now been confirmed by Nick Baumgardner:
ANN ARBOR -- Dennis Norfleet is no longer a part of Michigan's football team, according to his former high school coach.
Martin Luther King High School football coach Dale Harvel told MLive on Tuesday that Norfleet has been dismissed from Michigan's program by coach Jim Harbaugh.
"Evidently he was dismissed from the team, Dennis informed us he was no longer on the team," Harvel said Tuesday afternoon. "Something about a disciplinary thing between him and coach Harbaugh. Whether it was academics or something internal, I'm not sure. He just said they had a disagreement and he was let go."
I have heard it was academic. Not sure if that's a slackness that is now verboten under the new regime or a Norfleet morale issue leading to breakdowns elsewhere. [UPDATE: Steve Lorenz says he skipped "more than one final."]
The writing was on the wall as far as Norfleet's career went when he featured as a tiny cornerback in the spring game and was mercilessly picked on for the only offense of the day. With that secondary and that WR corps, the fact he was on defense was a death knell. He may have continued returning kicks and punts; even that job was going to be put under major threat by Jabrill Peppers.
This does get Michigan to 85 scholarships, give or take a walk-on. With a couple of medical hardships likely to be on the way, there should be room to add a fifth-year WR or two, as Mike Spath has suggested might happen.
I will now go sit by myself in a dark room and listen to the Smiths.