This Week's Obsession: Coaching Malpractice (Not Ours)

This Week's Obsession: Coaching Malpractice (Not Ours)

Submitted by Seth on November 5th, 2015 at 11:18 AM

The Question (Seth):

Name a great coaching mishap...that happened to the the other guys!

(To clarify, by "mishap" I meant like a single play or series, not worst coaching choices. Blunder. Miscue. Bungle. Goof. Lapse. Miscalculation.)

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Adam: The first thing that came to mind was 2011 against Ohio State. OSU, down 6, got the ball with 1:59 to go at the 20-yard line. They converted on 4th and 6 and continued driving with a minute to go until they decided moving the ball was overrated and the key to winning was to stay right where they were. On 3rd and 6 from their 36 they ran 15 seconds off the clock...and then spiked the ball.

After the game Braxton Miller said that was what interim HC Luke Fickell told him to do. I'm no coach, but lighting the clock on fire and giving away a down to put yourself in a must-convert situation (and needing six yards, no less) with 45 seconds to go seems like a bad strategy.

[Hit THE JUMP for the Big Guy.]

This Week's Obsession: Ridikuhlis

This Week's Obsession: Ridikuhlis

Submitted by Seth on November 12th, 2014 at 12:05 PM

A man in my position cannot afford to be made to look ridikuhlis.

Ace: Brian and I did a segment on this week's podcast in which we each listed our top five most ridiculous games of the Hoke era. Not only were our bottom three picks entirely different, but between Twitter and the comments at least a dozen games that didn't make the cut were suggested as meriting inclusion, and... it was really hard to argue with a lot of them.

So let's try this again. List and explain your top five, perhaps mention a few dishonorable mentions, and feel free to explain your methodology—I'm intentionally leaving "ridiculous" open to interpretation.

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BiSB: I just drew up a quick list of candidates. There are 16 games on that list. I HATE ALL THE THINGS.

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Ace: Now remember that the very first game Hoke coached featured two Brandon Herron touchdowns and was called due to a biblical storm before the third quarter ended...

Even the wins, man. Even the wins.

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[After the jump: we discuss 60% of the games under Hoke]

Monday Presser 10-20-14: Greg Mattison

Monday Presser 10-20-14: Greg Mattison

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on October 21st, 2014 at 2:02 PM

mattison

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Two strong defenses here. I guess just looking at what Pat Narduzzi’s doing in East Lansing compared to what you want to do, what this team is capable of, how would you size up the two defenses and as a coordinator are you excited to see maybe those two units be the difference makers on Saturday?

“Well, the first question, how do you size up the two defenses; I mean, I don’t think you ever judge a defense until the season is over. I know you go game-to-game. I know we have goals each game that [are] how we want to play, the level we always want to have our kids play at. How do you judge a defense? Is it stats? Is it points? Is it points that your defense gave up? Is it points that the special teams gave up? Is it points that somebody else…I don’t think you judge it that way. I think you judge a defense by what they do game-to-game, do they do what they have to do to win the game, and how they finish a season, what they do at the end of the year, what it all looks like at the end of the year.

“As far as playing against…you know, I never play against a person. We’re playing- this is Michigan football playing their next game against an in-state rival and I’m excited about it and that’s really how I look at it.”

 

Michigan State’s been known for their defense in the past but the offense seems to have made great strides this year, putting up big numbers. How much better are they this year and how big of a challenge are they for your defense?

“Well, they’re a very good offense. They’ve done a great job first and foremost running the football. They’ve got some playmakers at wide receiver. They’ve got a very, very good tight end. They’ve got a good offensive line. They’ve done a good job, and it’s going to be a very, very good offense to go against and I think they’ve done a very good job on offense.”

 

Where have you seen Connor Cook improve?

“Well, Connor, he’s a very good quarterback. I think the biggest place you’ve seen him improve is he doesn’t get sacked. He seems like he gets the ball out quick. He seems like he knows where to go with it, and I think his maturity, his year-to-year, I think he’s a better quarterback. I think he’s a very, very good quarterback.”

[After THE JUMP: Mattison watches some football, makes fun of some things, and scouts the Spartans]

Upon Further Review 2014: Offense vs Penn State

Upon Further Review 2014: Offense vs Penn State

Submitted by Brian on October 20th, 2014 at 4:23 PM

FORMATION NOTES: Another very gun-heavy outing for Michigan, with nothing particularly unusual about the way they lined up. Penn State spent most of the game in a straight 4-3 of various varieties. Late they went to an eagle front for a couple plays:

image

Note that Miller has guys to both sides of him. That erases any chance Michigan can double on the interior and exposed Miller to a DT he could not deal with physically. Michigan responded to this with a pin and pull that worked on the next play.

SUBSTITUTION NOTES: No Magnuson still, so line still Cole/Glasgow/Miller/Kalis/Braden. Jake Butt seems to be getting as much time as he would have without the knee injury by now; Williams still hanging on to quite a bit of PT in Hill's absence.

At RB it was all Hayes/Smith with Green sidelined; WRs were as per usual with a little bit of Canteen.

[After THE JUMP: struggling forward.]

Unverified Voracity Can't Find Darrell

Unverified Voracity Can't Find Darrell

Submitted by Brian on October 20th, 2014 at 1:07 PM

Oh no. This is is getting passed around various message boards:

45-34-31-28-21-20-17-14-12-6

This isn't Brady Hoke's luggage combination (we know what that is). It's the number of points Michigan has scored against MSU over the last decade. It goes in one direction.

Oh.

I see.

Coachbot is malfunctioning. Someone give him a whack.

Purdue coaches all look alike. Jerry Kill doesn't know what Darrell Hazell looks like.

So Michigan has lost to the Ebola coach and goofy Minnesota uncle this year.

Also in Minnesota, I would pay to see Jerry Kill do this:

The status (please don't be the status). Sam Webb laid out his opinion of the way things are going to go on the Scout message board in an extensive post. In brief: his guess at the moment is that Brandon is relieved sometime after the season and this delay may end up buying Hoke another year.

I find it implausible that Michigan would risk that. The fanbase is right on the edge of dropping out in droves—a recent Free Press story touting the fact that Michigan only lost about 700 season ticket holders ignores the fact that Michigan has now completely burned through its once-legendary waitlist. Hoke's return threatens to create a serious dent, and once you break the habit it's hard to get people back in it.

Recruiting shouldn't override common sense here. Even if Michigan goes with another Process that sees them hire a coach in the middle of January the recruiting impact won't be enormous because this class is so small. If Michigan hangs onto 8-10 guys they could add a few fliers and be fine. The guys they hang onto are actually touted recruits instead of the mess that was Rodriguez's last class.

Maybe I shouldn't worry. A lot of these projections come with disclaimers like "if Michigan splits with MSU and OSU". MSU opened a 15.5 point favorite—the most MSU has ever been favored in the series—and that was quickly bumped up to 17. That gives Michigan a less than ten percent chance to win. OSU just bombed Rutgers 56-10; that spread is likely to be in the same range.

/stares blankly at wall. So this happened:

Tony Gibson, the first-year West Virginia defensive coordinator, had an interesting dilemma midway through the second quarter facing the dynamic Baylor offense. The Bears had arrived in Morgantown averaging an FBS-leading 623 yards per game and 67 points in their past two meetings with the Mountaineers. Baylor had just retaken the lead, 20-14, on a 63-yard touchdown catch-and-run by Antwan Goodley.

On the play, WVU's Terrell Chestnut took a vicious block from Corey Coleman to spring Goodley. The WVU cornerback was down on the field for minutes and done for the game due to a concussion. The Mountaineers also had lost their other standout corner, Daryl Worley, for the game at the start of the second quarter after he injured his ribs on a punt return.

WVU blitzed 46 times, Petty got discombobulated, and WVU ran away with a win over #4 Baylor after holding the Bears to just 315 yards—their lowest total in four years. Without both starting corners. With Tony Gibson their defensive coordinator.

Good one, universe. Just when I think I can't feel your steel-toed boot you find the last possible nerve that feels anything.

Join us in our misery. Iowa, come on down!

On the one hand, Iowa is 5-2. On the other, Iowa isn't any good and can't get a new coach. We might be able to get a new coach. I think I'd rather be us? Yeah.

Texas A&M, come on down!

14-10-19-bama-am-halftime[1]

That was halftime.

Florida, come on down!

I hope this has made everyone feel momentarily better before we go into the dark this weekend.

Etc.: Indiana is a 3:30 kick, so you have to wonder if you'll ever get to see most of a college football weekend again. Hooray Denard rushing for 129 yards in his first start. Canadian junior hockey facing a lawsuit for violating minimum wage laws. If you're not familiar with the hypocrisy of the CHL, imagine the NCAA without the education. Women's soccer is rounding into a real program. These numbers are beyond ugly.

What do you do when you're getting a ton of quarters coverage? Go deep in the slot. Roy Roundtree knows what's up.

Upon Further Review 2014: Defense vs Penn State

Upon Further Review 2014: Defense vs Penn State

Submitted by Brian on October 16th, 2014 at 5:18 PM

FORMATION NOTES: Michigan introduced a true 3-3-5 package, not the standup Frank Clark stuff we've seen before. Here's a weird example with Godin, the guy who was usually the nose in this formation, shaded over a tackle. This was for hijinks; more of ten it just looked like a regular 3-3-5.

M nickel-wide

Other than that, standard.

SUBSTITUTION NOTES: A shakeup on the line as Charlton started, as did Mone and Wormley. Henry was out with an injury (presumably one to his thumb); Glasgow was absent for most of the game but then came on late and played well. Super, super weird. Beyer reclaimed most of his PT by halftime; Mone and Wormley were spotted by Hurst and Godin, getting almost equal time.

LB was the usual, except when Michigan went to a new 3-3-5 package Gedeon was the third option instead of Ross.

Secondary was Lewis 100% of the time I think with Taylor getting more PT than Countess; Countess and Hollowell split nickel snaps. I think it was Clark and Wilson at safety with Thomas occasionally spotting Clark but given the way this played out the safeties weren't on the screen much.

[After THE JUMP: Penn State not so much.]

Wednesday Presser 10-15-14: Brady Hoke

Wednesday Presser 10-15-14: Brady Hoke

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on October 15th, 2014 at 5:02 PM

Hoke presser 2

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News bullets and other items:

  • Hoke expects Devin Gardner to start against MSU, with Shane Morris now healthy enough to be his backup
  • Hoke identified zone coverage, the run game, and creating big plays as areas for improvement over the final five games of the season
  • Kyle Bosch will re-join the team in January after taking a leave of absence for personal reasons
  • Willie Henry could have played against Penn State if it was necessary
  • Hoke alluded to being past the point of making a decision regarding Desmond Morgan redshirting and was evasive when asked if he’d miss the rest of the season
  • The coaches go over negative highlights from around college football each week in team meetings
  • If you’re wondering why there were no MGoQuestions it’s because they were all about MSU, and I decided to save them for Monday since Hoke said the coaches are only in the preliminary stages of gameplanning

Opening remarks:

“Number one, thanks for coming out today. It was good to get a win. Obviously winning's an important aspect of what you do when you compete. The atmosphere, I think, in Michigan Stadium was unbelievable and I know our kids, the energy, they feed off that and it was through the whole game. It was loud when it needed to be loud [from] our students and our fans so we really appreciate that.

“Yesterday we had a shortened practice. We'll go a little longer today. Just fundamentals and techniques being the main emphasis. A little bit on our next opponent, Michigan State, but a lot of fundamental work because we've got some young guys who want to continue to grow and continue to get them as many reps as we can, and then you've got some older guys who've played a lot of football in seven games [over] seven weeks so you want to get them some rest when you can but at the same time try and get some of the early game planning stuff. And with byes, to get physically healthy is an important part of it as much as you can; you're never going to be all the way. And then we've got a great rivalry game with Michigan State.

‘So the other thing we’ll use the bye week for is recruiting. The other part of it will be for us to– for us as a staff to do some self scout with where you're at and what you've done so far and where you might want to change some details up and I think that's one thing Michigan State did – not Michigan State, Penn State, the other night when you look at some of the down and distance and formation things in the first half from an offensive standpoint. They had the bye week and I think they went in seeing that they needed to change up a little bit and I think they did that.”

Do you expect Devin [Gardner] to start at Michigan State?

Yeah, I would. I think having Shane back and healthy also is a big part of it and as much as we are going to talk about injuries yeah, we expect Devin to be there.”

You've touched on this in the past, but what would you say is the biggest area of improvement in Devin since you've known him?

“I'd say as much as anything I think [it’s] his leadership. I think nowadays kids, not a lot of them have that natural leadership. And a lot of that is, and this is an opinion, I haven't studied this but they play so much AAU now. It used to be you go in a backyard or churchyard and you’d say [to] 10 guys, ‘Okay you're the captain of this team and you’re [the captain] of this,’ then pick. Now we have adults making decisions that I don't believe kids get to make and it doesn't help them grow and so that's just part of what I think. So it's a little tougher at times to help kids grow in that department.”

[After THE JUMP: more details on stuff summarized in the bullets]

Unverified Voracity Upholds Lazy Tradition

Unverified Voracity Upholds Lazy Tradition

Submitted by Brian on October 15th, 2014 at 3:38 PM

A BYE WEEK TRADITION. UFRs Thursday and Friday on a bye week.

Compliance with the Dennis Norfleet Atomic Dog act of 2560.

Vlcsnap-10519755[1]

I'M A BONAFIDE ATTENDER

At least let people prove they're bonafide. Michigan oversold basketball season tickets again. This time the sheer extent is lesser, as they've only sold 3250 tickets for 3000 seats instead of the 4500 last year, but they've again announced the rules after the tickets were bought… and you wonder if last year's policy reduced the number of people willing to buy this year. It's not like the team outlook is a whole lot different—Michigan was not expected to rampage through the Big Ten a year ago and looked a lot like a bubble team early.

Changes:

IMPROVEMENTS FOR 2014-15 INCLUDE:

Fewer claim periods (only three vs. six last season)

Missed claimed game penalties will only affect the ability to claim in the 3rd and final claim period (vs. penalties in each claim period last season)

Students will have the ability to return up to three (3) claimed games up to 24 hours before a game to account for last minute plans (not available last season)
Electronic tracking of scanned tickets for confirmation of attendance (not available last season)

I get that attendance is an issue; this is all stick, no carrot, though. There's a core of attendees who were at every game last year. They should get to just have normal tickets since they've proved their bonafides.

904x490x41670_h_0.jpg,qitok=G7YsP5_s.pagespeed.ic.19i6MLRqkw[1]

OSU is facing a ton of cover zero. They are rushing for 4.9 YPC anyway.

Well… more time isn't going to fix things. Not that you need convincing of this but here are the boggling numbers Ohio State is putting up minus Braxton Miller:

Ohio State ranks second in the Big Ten and 12th nationally in total offense at 523.6 yards per game. The Buckeyes' 44.6 points per game are second in the Big Ten and fifth in the country. And redshirt freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett ranks third in all of college football in passing efficiency.

And that's with the one-off collapse against Virginia Tech when Bud Foster reached deep into the playbook to bring out Buddy Ryan's old bear fronts. Opponents are trying to replicate that success weekly now, and Ohio State has adapted quickly.

OSU's line is mostly new and a bit more experienced than Michigan's, but it's the smallest possible gap. Michigan has two fourth year players, two third year players, and a freshman for a total of 10 years already on campus. OSU is at 11. They've only got one senior. Meanwhile, their backfield consists of all second year players: JT Barrett, Ezekiel Elliott, Dontre Wilson, and Jalin Marshall are all sophomores or redshirt freshmen.

If you know what you're doing you can put together some killer offenses without piles of experience these days; the coaching gap between Michigan and Ohio State is vast.

Upcoming quarterbacks. Nate Sudfeld is out for the year for Indiana, which is a huge blow for them after both Cam Coffman and Tre Roberson left the program this summer. Indiana went from one of the most solid situations in the league to auditioning true freshmen they hoped to redshirt. Unless they catch lightning in a bottle that's looking like a win. Indiana's defense is so permeable even Michigan will go up and down the field on them. Iowa scored consecutive 60-plus-yard TDs. I mean.

Northwestern is also having some issues with Trevor Siemian:

Siemian went down against Northern Illinois and needed to be taken out of the game without putting any pressure on his leg. It turns out it was an ankle injury. It was clear that if there was a game the next week, he would not have played. He healed during the bye week, and although he was not 100 percent, he played against Western Illinois.

It appeared the injury was improving, but this week, Siemian was limping at times, and he had a massive ball of tape on his ankles.

siemiantape

Northwestern's policy is that Pat Fitzgerald will not discuss injuries in-depth. He will get as specific as "upper body" or "lower body."

Maryland has CJ Brown back after a wrist injury, FWIW.

Redshirts? Michigan won't talk injuries but a lot of people are reading bad things into this statement from Hoke's teleconference yesterday:

With five games remaining for the Wolverines (3-4 overall, 1-2 Big Ten), Hoke was asked if it is time to consider looking at a redshirt for Peppers.

"We would handle that when the time would come," Hoke said.

I'm not sure how he's supposed to answer that question with the usual level of vagueness without implying that a medical redshirt is possible, so I don't read too much into that. I have heard that the injury is severe enough that it's certainly on the table. How much does that mean if Peppers is still likely to be a three-and-out guy? Maybe not much.

Meanwhile, Desmond Morgan is also eligible for a medical redshirt if he does not return and that was broached:

"I don't think there's any difference (between Morgan and Peppers), it just depends on how guys progress," Hoke said. "Us not doing anything or doing something with (Morgan), yeah (we could)."

Is there a cutoff point you have to get to in order to make that decision?

"I think we're kind of by it, in some way," Hoke said. "I didn't say (he'd miss the season), (but) I think there's a lot of possibilities."

That would make sense, as Michigan's not doing anything this year and Morgan might prefer another crack at being a senior… especially if he thinks he's got a shot at the NFL.

The Orsoning. He came, he saw, he cackled madly like he was Walter White in Crawl Space while looking almost exactly like Walter White in Crawl Space, and he writes about it:

The normal Michigan crankiness involves the complaints that all fanbases spanning a wide age range involve: that they do not run the ball enough, that the stadium speakers play music too loudly and too frequently now, that someone's knees stick into your back in the cramped stands, even with the rows of empty seats visible here and there. We don't run the ball enough. Bo, sainted Bo Schembechler, would never, ever have let a team not run the ball like this.

Those are normal complaints, the kind of ideological complaints any fanbase has in variation. See "Any older portion of the fanbase wondering why they're playing hip-hop where there are children," or "Team raised on fierce offense and naked aggression gets saddled with a dullard defensive coach." That might be me talking about Florida, because it is. The point is that every fanbase is unhappy in its own unique key. When Alabama fans are unhappy, it is because a linebacker has just missed a tackle or because someone has unleashed the horror of a passing touchdown on them. When Michigan is unhappy, it is cold, someone is edging onto your seat cushion, and someone has just done something deeply unSchembechler-ish.

The abnormal grievances, the ones indicative of a real theological schism in the church of Michigan, come from the older gentleman standing up when Michigan takes a timeout -- with one second left on the clock in the first half and Penn State leaving for the locker rooms -- and yelling:

"HOKE! YOU IDIOTTTTTTTT!"

Grievances of that severity can't hide.

He did not mention a guy at Marlin Jackson's Go Blue Bowl tailgate asking Roy Roundtree to do his Donald Duck impression, but he got everything else.

Etc.: Orson talks Ann Arbor at about the ten minute mark in the latest Shutdown Fullcast. Everything is dappled, he says. Will Leitch on how Todd Gurley may as well GTFO without taking more hits before he can get paid.

Hokepoints: The Best Big Ten QB?

Hokepoints: The Best Big Ten QB?

Submitted by Seth on October 14th, 2014 at 4:26 PM

acecorn

Nice job picking a QB, Ace. Here's your reward.

While re-watching the M-PSU punt-fest my brother made an interesting comment: "It's amazing what's happened to two of the best quarterbacks in the conference." If you ever again need to point to something to show that the offense means more than the quarterback, this Big Ten season has that in spades. What it doesn't have is an answer to the question: who IS the best QB in the conference?

I have no idea. Of guys I expected big things from, Braxton Miller (injury) and Tre Roberson (transfer) didn't make it out of the preseason, Gardner played his way behind a true sophomore who obviously couldn't play, Hackenberg's been a tackling dummy, and when I got down to Cook my Sparty slappy brother shook his head and declined the nomination.

Lower down, Sudfeld is now out for the season but he wasn't world-beating before. C.J. Brown, true to form, has been keeping pace just behind Gardner; a wrist injury against Indiana has ceded snaps to Caleb Rowe. Nebraska and Iowa aren't getting anything more than mediocre from their 2nd year guys. Trevor Siemian is not a throw deity of any sort. Etling hasn't been good enough for Boiler fans to stop mentioning that Michigan stole Bellomy(!). Wisconsin's QB situation has been awful. Illinois thought they had something when transfer Wes Lunt was picking apart bad defenses, but he broke his leg, which is apparently 4-6 weeks these days.

Everybody's played only a few real opponents, and everybody's been a product of his offense so stats are only a little useful. Last year ESPN's Dean Oliver rolled out his "QBR" metric which is based on Mathlete-like expected points on a 100-level scale; 50 is average. Mouseover the headers for clarification (explanation here):

PLAYER Pass EPA RUN EPA SACK EPA PEN EPA TOTAL EPA ACT PLAYS RAW QBR TOTAL QBR
Connor Cook-MSU 23.2 3.2 -1.6 0.6 25.3 175 81.5 81.3
Gary Nova-RU 25.3 6.3 -4.7 0.4 27.3 187 77.1 78.2
J.T. Barrett-OSU 22.3 8.0 -7.1 0.5 23.7 220 72.3 74.4
Tom Armstrong-NEB 13.2 7.9 -3.8 1.0 18.2 246 63.2 63.9
Jake Rudock-IOWA 25.7 2.6 -3.7 2.2 26.8 193 73.5 60.8
Wes Lunt-ILL 31.6 -2.0 -6.1 1.1 24.3 222 67.8 58.1
Devin Gardner-UM 14.7 5.0 -9.3 -0.1 10.3 210 52.9 56.4
Mitch Leidner-MN 6.8 4.4 -5.9 -0.1 5.2 134 50.7 56.3
Nate Sudfeld-IND 10.9 3.6 -4.4 2.0 12.1 221 54.4 56.2
C.J. Brown-MD 11.7 7.0 -8.0 0.7 11.4 224 52.5 50.0
Tanner McEvoy-WIS 2.1 5.6 -2.2 1.1 6.6 144 51.8 47.4
Trevor Siemian-NW 20.1 -0.3 -11.3 -0.1 8.4 276 46.1 46.2
C. Hackenberg-PSU 16.2 -1.0 -14.2 -0.6 0.3 299 38.1 37.9
Danny Etling-PUR 3.0 1.7 -5.5 -1.1 -1.8 201 35.2 30.7

I pulled the raw QBR in each game to plot it against Football Outsiders' S&P+ so you can see the individual performances in context. Gardner's games are labeled and Michigan's remaining opponents are shown.

chart1

click embigs

[after the jump: trends, discussion]

The Orsoning

The Orsoning

Submitted by Brian on October 14th, 2014 at 2:16 PM

7991737304_7bb8d76602_z

Bryan Fuller

He came, he saw, he cackled madly like he was Walter White in Crawl Space while looking almost exactly like Walter White in Crawl Space, and he writes about it:

The normal Michigan crankiness involves the complaints that all fanbases spanning a wide age range involve: that they do not run the ball enough, that the stadium speakers play music too loudly and too frequently now, that someone's knees stick into your back in the cramped stands, even with the rows of empty seats visible here and there. We don't run the ball enough. Bo, sainted Bo Schembechler, would never, ever have let a team not run the ball like this.

Those are normal complaints, the kind of ideological complaints any fanbase has in variation. See "Any older portion of the fanbase wondering why they're playing hip-hop where there are children," or "Team raised on fierce offense and naked aggression gets saddled with a dullard defensive coach." That might be me talking about Florida, because it is. The point is that every fanbase is unhappy in its own unique key. When Alabama fans are unhappy, it is because a linebacker has just missed a tackle or because someone has unleashed the horror of a passing touchdown on them. When Michigan is unhappy, it is cold, someone is edging onto your seat cushion, and someone has just done something deeply unSchembechler-ish.

The abnormal grievances, the ones indicative of a real theological schism in the church of Michigan, come from the older gentleman standing up when Michigan takes a timeout -- with one second left on the clock in the first half and Penn State leaving for the locker rooms -- and yelling:

"HOKE! YOU IDIOTTTTTTTT!"

Grievances of that severity can't hide.

He did not mention a guy at Marlin Jackson's Go Blue Bowl tailgate asking Roy Roundtree to do his Donald Duck impression, but he got everything else.