things go poorly
The rich history of Michigan stealing traditions may go even deeper than previously known. Michigan, of course, stole Cornell's hockey cheers and Princeton's winged helmets and West Virginia's coaches and, on three separate occasions, Notre Dame's dignity. And this is the first page of the 12th chapter of a 1960 book by Bear Bryant:
Insert Dave Letterman going "eeeeeh" and pulling on his collar here.
Not even I believe this. Ex-sign-gobblin' linebacker and current Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald pulls out the Playbook of Ultimate Boredom when quizzed by ESPN's Adam Rittenberg re: Rodriguez:
I see you have a magazine on your desk with Rich Rodriguez on the cover. How will his arrival at Michigan impact the league?
PF: It will be a huge change for Michigan football. I've gotten to be around Rich a couple times and I'm very impressed with him as a person. I'm very impressed with his demeanor and his humility. A coach that who's been a head coach since a young age, has been very successful in his time as a head coach. The success that he had at West Virginia is incredible. To bring that mind-set and what they do to Michigan, it's going to be a great challenge for all of us. I'm not looking forward to competing against him. He's had great success. It's just going to take him a little bit of time, like it takes everybody when you go to a new university, to get all his pieces into place. But I'm sure he's got an acceleration plan to get that ready this fall.
Emphasis mine. Product Rodriguez's humility does not appear in my list of TOP 500 RICH RODRIGUEZ ASSETS. (All assets omitted are "Mike Barwis.")
1. Approx. 15 years experience as collegiate head coach
2. Modern, ass-kicking offensive system
3. "Coal spoon" mentality
4. Tendency to hire people based on qualifications, not friendship
5. Mike Barwis
11. Brandon Graham
23. Donovan Warren
56. "Lion King" joke he tells during press conferences.
110. Access to lifetime supply of hairspray.
124. Tight buns, according to my grandmother.*
234. $2 million dollar West Virginia home he will never ever sell
298. General lack of proximity to Mike Debord
343. Still-beating heart of West Virginia cheerleader
412. Pact with devil
499. Crack team of a lawyers who say things like "OMG he's a slave"
500. Agent Mike Brown.
*(Sadly, not really.)
Wisconsin 1999. Via the prolific Wolverine Historian:
"Rivalry" of a sort. Fanblogs compiled the top 15 most lopsided series (minimum: 50 games) and Michigan is on the good side of four:
15) Michigan-Purdue, 53 games, .770
14) Michigan-Iowa, 54 games, .778
11) Michigan-Wisconsin, 61 games, .795
4) Michigan-Indiana, 59 games, .847
#1 is Oklahoma-Iowa State, which Oklahoma is winning at a 92% clip; the only other Big Ten matchup in the list is #9 Ohio State-Northwestern.
Another 3:30 start. I hate 3:30 starts. You can't see the end of the noon games or (obviously) any of the 3:30 games or the start of the later games and in general I feel like I've missed a whole day of football whenever that goes down. So, like, bleah to Stadium & Main's clever breakdown of the possibilities for the Michigan-Michigan State game that leads inevitably to this:
Maybe there's an super-small chance that if both Michigan and MSU absolutely stink, the game will be given a Noon start on BTN, ESPN, or ESPN2, but that would mean no Big Ten 3:30 game on ABC - and I don't think that's ever happened, or is even allowed to happen since it probably violates the Big Ten's contract with ABC/ESPN.
And thus the conclusion that M-MSU will be 3:30 on ABC.
I think we can swing a few grand for edumahcation. If anyone ever tells you your plan to funnel more money to kids playing college football by extending their scholarships by a year or two is "too expensive" or something like that, please do me a favor and laugh in their face:
In just the last three years, assistant coaching salaries in the Big 12 have risen by almost 37 percent.
At OSU, that figure is a Big 12-high 65 percent, and would've been even higher had former Cowboy offensive coordinator Larry Fedora - who was making $393,000 - not left to be head coach at Southern Mississippi.
Once a bottom dweller in assistant coaches' pay, OSU, at $2.13 million, is now second in the Big 12, trailing only Texas' $2.38 million payroll.
The money goes somewhere, and increasingly it goes into palatial facilities and rich coaches.
That's what she said. A guy on MGoBoard points out that walk-on defensive back Jermaine Jackson is from Alaska, and he's not someone you want to mess with in the Eskimo stick pull:
University of Michigan defensive back Jermaine Jackson, a Bartlett High School graduate, won the Eskimo stick pull in an intense battle of leverage and strength against Matthew Evans.
In the event, two athletes sit facing each other with their feet together and knees bent and try to pull a short stick away from each other. Evans had a longer reach and a weight advantage, but he needed to defeat Jackson twice in best-of-three rounds. He took the first round, but Jackson won the second.
"What I was thinking was grip, all grip," Jackson said. "I was losing my grip in the first round."
Good news for Jackson: "Hold the rope" is one of Rodriguez's mysterious catchphrases ("spot the ball" is the other).
Odd demographics. This is probably not the exact right place to mention this, but if you live around MIS there's a charity raffle going on with this sweet hog as a prize:
Mysterious! A youtube user named "polaarbear" uploaded a home movie of one of the 1959 home games a couple months ago; he has returned with footage from the 1959 Ohio State game:
I love the bit where it cuts out and goes to home video of someone's graduation day. Does anyone know what the organized placard thing was supposed to be? It's incomprehensible to me.
I'm surprised he remembers. Anthony Morelli had a little chat with NFL.com, wherein he was asked this question:
In college, what player hit you the hardest?
Yeah... you know what's coming.
Michigan's Alan Branch. I completed a 28-yard out only to be hit on the chin and driven to the turf.
Uh.... what? Last time we mentioned Lansing-area Spartanbot Steve Grinzcel he was busy lauding the 7th best recruiting class in the Big Ten, but this is just plain weird:
New Michigan football coach Rich Rodriguez will no doubt get jeered for calling out Ohio State during halftime of Sunday's Wolverine-Buckeye basketball game by the same pompous wet blankets who mocked Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio for throwing the gauntlet down to Michigan.
If you'd like to review the tape, Varsity Blue has it. On said tape, Rodriguez goes for the rarely seen anti-callout, specifically claiming that he "doesn't want to make any guarantees." The only thing he promises is that the team will "play hard and physical."
"Pride comes before the fall" it ain't.
Dual Threet. Speaking of Varsity Blue, they've got an excellent post up that explores Clemson's 1999 offense, which was Rodriguez-coordinated and slow-white-dude-helmed, at least in part: Brandon Streeter and Woody Dantzler split time. VB has some highlights and stats showing the results.
Frankly, they're not encouraging as far as slow-white-dude-helming goes. Streeter was obviously a much worse runner than Danztler; he was also probably a worse passer, with three more interceptions on just 13 more attempts. Streeter also had fewer yards per attempt and touchdowns; the only thing he was better at was completion percentage. Clemson's offense was around average at 26.8 points per game; it wasn't until Danztler took over full time that the offense really started churning -- scoring leapt to 34.7 PPG in Rodriguez's second and last year as the offensive coordinator.
Maybe that's just on Streeter not being particularly good, but chances are Threet isn't going to be particularly good this year.
All your buyout needs... can be met at the aptly-named "West Virginia University v. Richard Rodriguez: The Legal Perspective," a blog run and posted on by law-talking guys.
It's Bo! In Michigan Stadium! Being Bo! Unfortunately, it's with Mitch Albom. But whatever:
WolverineHistorian also has clips from the '86 Ohio State game.
It's Mike Hart! Mitch Albom is thousands of miles away!
He'll grubberize the left flankenoid! Budding "television presenter" Dhani Jones is going to get his rugby on:
"Because Dhani [pronounced Dee-hah-nee] is a defensive lineman [sic], his catching and passing are the things we need to work on.
"All being well, he will come on the field as a flanker. I don't think it will make much difference whether it's blindside or openside.
"We just have to make sure that when he hits someone it is an opponent who has got the ball and that he's not running an illegal blocking move."
A football fan has no place to criticize obscure minutiae in another sport, but I've taken in a few rugby games and find it utterly incomprehensible. It was fun, though, to sit in polite befuddlement as the people around me went nuts about seemingly irrelevant developments... now I know what it's like for people around me.
Defending the man. Anyone who's read this blog for any length of time knows that it consistently advocates for more aggressive playcalling, especially in the tough-FG-or-pooch-punt area of the field from about the 50 to the opponent's 30. Years of screaming "NO!" at Lloyd Carr have created something of an obsession.
This is a mildly tough position to hold in the aftermath of a Super Bowl that featured one ballsy decision to pass up a 48-yard field goal that led to a turnover on downs and a three-point loss. No doubt some toolish sportswriter who believes in things like heart and thinks math is for pencil-necked commies will seize upon this and write a scathingly dumb article about newfangled methods.
HOWEVA, it should be noted that the Romer paper mostly applies to downs like fourth and three, not fourth and thirteen. This graph is the heart of the paper (click for big; it's a little unintelligible at this size):
The solid line represents the point at which kicking and going for it are equal choices; never does it breach ten yards to go and at the 31 yard line it's begun a steep downward pitch into reasonable FG distance. By my estimation, Romer's paper suggests that going for it on fourth and eight is barely defensible; fourth and thirteen is lunacy.
Hatred! In the aftermath of the MSU series, Yost Built took a look at Michigan's odd power play disparity. You'd expect that Michigan, always one of the best teams in the CCHA, would have an advantage when it comes to power play opportunities, right?
This was the case a few years ago, but not so much now:
2007-08: Michigan: 132, Opponents: 141, 8-14-4
2006-07: Michigan: 241, Opponents: 241, 18-19-4
2005-06: Michigan: 254, Opponents: 233, 22-14-5
2004-05: Michigan: 273, Opponents: 244, 21-12-9
2003-04: Michigan: 241, Opponents: 175, 33-3-7
(Note the NMU series numbers are not in here.) A few theories as to Michigan's progressive downturn here:
- The NCAA went through a brief, wonderful period during which they really cracked down on obstruction, which really helped Michigan; this is less heavily emphasized these days.
- Jack Johnson. Self explanatory, no?
- Steve Piotrowksi.
As in "Steve Piotrowski's retirement". The piece of data from the Yost Built post that leaps off the page:
Piotrowski: 10.4 PPO/game, +66, 27-7-4 over 38 games ...
None of the other refs that we frequently have (double digit times over 5 years) is higher [in PPO +/- for M] than +.65/game, whereas Pio is at +1.74/game for Michigan
Piotrowski was universally acclaimed the best ref in the CCHA and possibly the NCAA. He officiated multiple national championship games during the CCHA prolonged absence from said game and is now the CCHA's director of officials. Now he's gone and Michigan can't buy a hooking penalty.
The King of Rationalization. Friday's emo post about the basketball team contained a complain against the WHO WANTS SOME FREEEEE PIZZAAAAA announcer guy. It turns out that the announcer guy gets around the area, announcing things from Tiger baseball to Eastern Michigan basketball and Toledo Storm hockey. He is well loved by the Storm faithful:
"A LOT OF PEOPLE think it's odd that the fans boo me. It goes back to something a former Blade sports reporter wrote. He thought it was horrible that I introduced myself because most announcers don't. So in one of his columns he encouraged people to boo me. I think they were booing me to spite his suggestion. But that's how it started. I took my dad to a game and I told him the fans really like me. When they all booed me he said, 'Robert, I thought you said they liked you.' I told him if they didn't like me,
they wouldn't boo me every night.
Uh... someone fax this guy to South Bend.
In any case, while this guy may be excellent for the Toledo Storm and Eastern Michigan his particular brand of irritating rah-rah is not a fit with the Michigan athletic program and he should be replaced. Or at least tranquilized before games.
I have been really cranky for like a solid week or two around these parts, and it culminates today. I promise to spend the weekend repeating SERENITY NOW and will come back slightly more well adjusted.
Whee! I'm late on this, but Chad Henne had a disturbing quote at the Senior Bowl (where he did very well, by all accounts):
"I think it's going to be a lot different," he said. "(Rodriguez) is bringing the whole spread offense, and a lot of the quarterbacks are looking elsewhere.
"Ryan Mallett already transferred and two of the other quarterbacks are staying for spring ball to see what happens. It's definitely a change at the quarterback position, and we'll see how it works in the Big 10."
There are only two other quarterbacks on scholarship, those being David Cone and Steven Threet. Cone was a complete flyer taken the year before Mallett's recruitment -- ran mostly veer option in HS despite being as nimble as John Navarre -- who was apparently behind walk-on Nick Sheridan this year; suffice it to say that flyer didn't exactly work out.
Threet, on the other hand, was a well-regarded QB prospect (#9 QB to Rivals and a Rivals 250 member) who won the Georgia Tech backup job before transferring to Michigan in the fall. Even if Michigan reels in Pryor, he might be preferred in certain situations. If they don't he's the presumptive favorite to start this fall.
Olden Days. More from Wolverine Historian and Bob Ufer, this the 1969 Ohio State game:
There's also a reel of Tom Harmon highlights and a recap of the 2002 Washington game:
I particularly like the Washington clips because they tell the story of the game well. Wolverine Historian is a hero striding among us, but sometimes it's a little weird watching a bunch of highlights from a tight game and only seeing the good things.
Casualty? ND DT Pat Kuntz, who for some reason ND fans are all agush about -- he got destroyed by Justin Boren, thus paving the way for unmet expectations the rest of the year -- is leaving Notre Dame temporarily:
The 6-foot-3, 285-pound junior, speaking from his home in Indianapolis, would not elaborate further on why he was not at school. Because of privacy laws, the university could not comment on Kuntz's status other than to say he is not enrolled, said Brian Hardin, director of football media relations.
Kuntz is enrolled at "Ivy Tech" in Indianapolis, a college so fake-sounding it could be in one of those Allstate commercials, for "personal reasons" BGS suggests boil down to "somehow not able to maintain eligibility at freakin' Notre Dame." No doubt the sociology is even more remedial at Ivy Tech.
Also gonzo is Derrell Hand, who you may remember from his hilarious (because his name is hand, see!) solicitation arrest last offseason. He has a spinal condition and can no longer play. Interesting factoid about Hand: way back when Marques Slocum was in high school, he and Hand were teammates who played right next to each other on what must have been an amazing high school line. Both have met internet infamy, Hand with his arrest and Slocum with the whole fuck lion thing.
Notre Dame's troubles should marginally aid a questionable Michigan line's performance in the Notre Dame game. Sophomore Ian Williams will be the NT, career disappointment Justin Brown one DE, and either Kuntz or someone hastily switched to the position at the other DE. The other option is that some of those freshmen will hit the field right away.
BGS also mentions that sophomore-to-be Bartley Webb is leaving due to a medical issue; about all you need to know about him is that he hardly played on last year's abomination of a line... so, yeah.
While we're on the topic of Notre Dame, Deadspin's been giddy about reports that Dana Jacobsen, a Michigan alum, got blotto at a roast for Mike & Mike and said intemperate things. An anonymous tipster unfamiliar with the proper use of the shift key says these things were said:
f... Notre dame"
and - the step-aside-because-lightning-is-about-to-strike... "f.... Jesus."
Several reports are now contradicting that last one, leaving the only confirmed Jacobsen comments to be directly anti-ND ones. Then there are reports contradictory to the contradictory reports.
Do I care? Not really. Is this a wonderful opportunity to scour ND Nation for insanity? Absolutely. The Nation sees this as blatant anti-Catholic discrimination. And there can be only one force behind it:
A typical filthy lewd hateful product of a hateful bigoted corrupt school - it is no mistake their tradition was founded by virtual Klansman hillbilly Fielding Yost - the tradition continues. People will attempt to sluff off what jacobson said as the ravings of the drunkard - actually they reflect the deep-seated animus and hate inculcated by Michigan as an institution toward the small Catholic school to the South. The hate speech she brought out of the closet reflects the true and inherent hate that school has and has always fostered toward ND. Anyone who has seen how Notre Dame people are treated when we play there knows that what Jacobson said is not something small or isolated.
It was a valiant effort by West Virginia's fanbase, but nothing can match NDNation for pure derangement. (There are outposts of sanity in the like solid week of conversation about something Jacobsen may or may not have said at a roast, -- a roast, people -- but right: solid week of conversation about it.)
Etc.: You've no doubt seen these, but testy emails to and fro between Rodriguez's agent and various AD honchos detail the deteriorating relationship between the two parties. As mentioned, the only way Rodriguez was going to end up leaving was because of severe personal acrimony between the two parties. Yes, WVU fans, Rodriguez's agent comes off like a jerk.
BARWWWWWIIIIIIIS. Never in the history of a football program has a fanbase been more geeked about a S&C coach than Michigan fans about Mike Barwis. Heck, this blog put the guy on a par with Rodriguez's offensive and defensive coordinators during the battle over various Rodriguez assistants. Mike Barwis thinks Chuck Norris is a girl. Mike Barwis can't tell the difference between Woody Allen and Bill Brasky. Etc.
These are reasons why:
But Barwis always finds time to reach each player on a personal level. He is a brother to some, father to other, priest to those who need some spiritual guidance and warden, if necessary.
It is difficult to imagine what it is like to be cooped up in a weight room with Barwis, who is hard as granite and wound so tight that he literally can't take a break from his routine. If you think you get a jolt out of 5-Hour Energy Drink, get yourself a transfusion of Barwis' blood, if you can get him to lie still on a table long enough to part with it.
The rest of the article is a pretty remarkable story about Barwis' relationship with Pacman Jones, he of the making it rain and year-long NFL suspension. Jones -- maybe the NFL most infamous misbehaver -- started his career at WVU in the fashion you might expect: beating some dude with a pool cue. Enter Barwis, then a new hire:
Upon arriving, Barwis adopted Jones as his own personal project, and the two grew extremely close.
It was tough love, to be sure, but Barwis became the male figure in Jones' college life that he had always lacked in the real world.
One example of the way Barwis treated Jones could be found in his sophomore season when he was late for a weight-lifting session. Barwis gave an angry glare, shoved a 40-pound sandbag to him to work with and, when he was breathing hard, sent him off running around Mountaineer Field.
"He thought it was OK to be late, so I always made him pay tenfold," Barwis told ESPN last year. "After awhile, you get disciplined."
Whatever Barwis did worked, for Jones remained trouble free at WVU until leaving for the NFL, a first-round pick of the Tennessee Titans.
From there you know the story; a number of the hits when you type "mike.barwis eeeee i'm a little girl for mike.barwis" into Google are stories about Pacman's misbehavior in the pros. Barwis usually attempts to defend the guy as a decent person in the wrong crowd. This might be unremarkable, but the mere fact that he's the guy media folks get in touch with instead of his position coach or Rodriguez speaks to the role he has in these kids' lives.
Clap back. Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski picks up the torch on Jay Bilas and his obsession with Tommy Amaker's firing, and he's got backup:
It was one thing for ESPN's Jay Bilas to keep defending Tommy Amaker's brutal run as coach at Michigan, but another to start going after his successor, John Beilein, for being honest about the pitiful program left him in Ann Arbor.
The more Bilas shills for Amaker, the more people in basketball laugh at him.
Unlike Amaker, Beilein never had the ultimate coaching godfather to pick up the phone and get him a job. [OH SNAP -ed]
"C'mon Jay, that is terrible," an NBA scout who watched Amaker's team regularly in the Big Ten emailed me this week after reading Bilas' blog rant.
"Almost laughable, really."
Jay, this is your credibility. I'm dyin' here.
Light 'em up. Varsity Blue takes issue with a dumb article that appeared in the Free Press urging Terrelle Pryor to go to Ohio State, and I was going to give it a once-over, too, but the author of that piece explained himself to VB like so:
You should know that I was asked by the Freep Web editor to write that column as a counterpoint to the why-Pryor-should-go-to-Michigan column that ran on the site a few days earlier. I reckon that if the site editors properly packaged them as a point-counterpoint, the vitriol would have been reduced a little. Instead, people think I wrote that on my own initiative, which isn't true in the least.
Anyway, I regret doing it for several reasons. First, I'm not a columnist. I'm a copy editor. In hindsight, to ask a copy editor to write a column during a 30-minute break in his "normal" shift was unfair. It prevented me from putting sufficient thought into my points and crafting them into a suitable fashion. I admit that the column, as it ran, was shallow. Oh, well. I won't make such a mistake in the future.
The Free Press web editor was going for cheap hits and Janke got to privilege of being the stool pigeon. Depressing that this stuff must work -- otherwise how could a useless sack of negativity like Drew Sharp keep his job? -- but this is just another example why newspaper sports sections are bound to suck at opinion. One: the article as posted lacked a significant disclaimer. Janke was not identified as a fervent OSU fan who went to State. Two: it was directed to be written no matter the merit behind it. Three: a half-hour window was allotted for it. As long as the bottom line is attention today, attention tomorrow will continue to bleed as more and more people get fed up with idiocy passing as opinion.
The end result of the editor-enforced Pryor article was to make me wonder if this bit on third-string quarterback Robbie Schoenhoft's transfer...
With Schoenhoft gone, the Buckeyes look closer to capitalizing on Ohio State coach Jim Tressel's promise to design the offense around a dual-threat quarterback, much like he did for former Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith.
...was intentionally left in to foster controversy. Schoenhoft's transfer signals only one thing: big-time schools probably shouldn't offer pocket passers who complete 37% of their passes in high school no matter how many Nazis the kid can throw a football through. Schoenhoft's departure means as much to Terrelle Pryor as the status of Michigan's David Cone.
This guy's gonna feel stupid if there's a decommit. Uh...
If you want a hand-painted Sam McGuffie action figure.... well, you're out of luck since the auction ended Sunday. But if you just want to marvel at the internet, go right ahead.
Slaton's out. This might be standard justification for departure stuff, but Steve Slaton simultaneously gave the departing WVU coaching staff high praise and a bit of a middle finger:
Yesterday afternoon, Carl Slaton, Steve's father, told the Daily News that the family is hearing from NFL people that Steve is being projected as a second-round selection. But, Carl said, "the NFL draft is a crapshoot."
Carl said it was not an easy decision, but, in the end, "it was pushed on him with [WVU coach Rich] Rodriguez leav
ing [for Michigan] and taking the whole coaching staff."
According to Steve, the departure of offensive coordinator/running backs coach Calvin Magee had the biggest impact on his decision. Magee will become Rodriguez' offensive coordinator at Michigan.
"More than anything else it's that [Magee] also left the program," Steve said. "He taught me so much of what I needed to know, and he wasn't finished, and he would have taught me the rest. It wouldn't have been the same under someone else."
Hey, remember when we used to beat Ohio State? 1988, courtesy of Wolverine Historian:
There is also this remarkable home video from an unidentified 1959 game:
I wish our current cheerleaders did more goofy stuff like that.
Etc.: Remarkable story with Bill McCartney's old Rose Bowl ring at MVictors; Michigan will be playing faster next year; eeeebarwis; Yost Built on the WMU sweep; the Daily's Scott Bell has a good Rodriguez column.
Note: I previously stated there would be no CapOne UFR due to its general irrelevance for the program going forward, but since that was a pass-based spread offense that seemed to incorporate many facets of what Rodriguez does said irrelevance no longer applies and I'll do one early next week. I'm also downloading a couple WVU games and will provide those later this month.
Videos galore. A pre-bowl fluff piece with Carr:
And Carr's final locker-room speech:
Highlights from the Big Ten Network are at MSC; damn if I can figure out how to embed it, though. There are also kips from frequent clip provider Chris at Dangerous Logic:
TSN has the Arrington catch in all its spectacular glory:
And finally, MSC also links to this BTN video of Shawn Crable calling out Kirk Herbstreit:
Not sure of the wisdom of calling out someone for saying you have no D after giving up 35 points, but whatever.
Torrent is up here; Ten Yard Torrents registration required.