Brady Hoke Presser 3-23

Brady Hoke Presser 3-23

Submitted by Tim on March 23rd, 2011 at 2:25 PM

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Notes from Brady Hoke's meeting with the media today. Photo from file.

News

Ray Vinopal is no longer with the team. "Ray decided to go back Youngstown. You know, that issue's more a family issue."

Injuries: Christian Pace is doing individual drills only. "Molk's the other guy who hasn't done anything but some individual. He'll be fine by Tuesday." - hamstring tweak. Troy Woolfolk is doing a little group work, mostly individual. JT Floyd doing less group stuff than Troy. Mike Shaw is doing alternate conditioning things. Next week, he'll do more with the cast on. "I think we're OK health-wise. I don't think we're anything of real significance yet."

"We wouldn't play a game" for the spring 'game' with the team's current injury level. Would do more situational scrimmage-type stuff. With only 11 more practice days, "I doubt if we'll play a game game. I'd like to, but we don't have enough depth."

No new position changes. There may be some later in the spring when they've had more of a chance to evaluate.

During the spring, "we'll put [a depth chart] out. Nothing's given. You're gonna have to earn it." If you end spring as a starter, you better keep working over the summer, and in fall camp, because you have to earn your job.

Wants to install 50-60% of offense and defense in spring (Al Borges would like to get 65% of the offense in). You can install more in the fall as you're gameplanning. "Once we get the power play down, then we'll go to the next phase. You know, because we're gonna run the power play." [ed: This is a very MANBALL quote.]

Individual Positions

QBs: "I think both of them have done a good job. I think you look at, the different things are a little more under center, obviously. The ball mechanics and footwork... all those technical things that go along with it. So, I think they've both done a good job, they're both very capable of being tremendous quarterbacks in this offense."

RBs: "I wouldn't wanna say any of them's any better than the other ones. Vince [Smith] has done a good job, [Stephen] Hopkins has come on, Fitz [Toussaint] had a good day in there with a couple good runs, and Michael Cox is a guy that has some outstanding ability, and we've just gotta keep progressing with him."

Fullbacks: "We don't have a lot of fullbacks." Hopkins works out well at FB "for a lot of the old 49ers stuff" with split backs. Hoke wants fullbacks to block so hard they "come in at about 6-3, and leave the program at 6-1." Wisconsin fullbacks get shorter as the years go on.

WRs: "They have to do both" block and catch. They have the most bodies there and at safety. Lots of competition, so guys they have to block well and catch well to see the field.

Lines: "We just don't have a whole lot of bodies there... That's always, up there, because you need a lot of bodies on both sides." They need to address it in future recruiting. With Molk and Pace out, Rocko Khoury is getting most snaps at center. Patrick Omameh is getting a lot of reps with limited line depth.

Defensive line: "There's some guys who have played some significant minutes and downs up there that we've gotta get 'em better when you talk about the fundamentals of playing the position." Quinton Washington ("he shows up") and Richard Ash ("has made some progress") are doing well, you expect the 2 seniors to step up. "I think Will [Campbell] had some real good plays the other day, and he's gotta have more of those than bad plays."

Kicking game: "They're doing OK. We haven't gone full-bore into it... They have their specialists but we put a little live rush on them and those kinds of things yesterday." All the different elements (snap, hold, kick) need to come together.

INTENSITY

There have been three practices so far, one in pads. "I've liked the tempo that we played with. I like how the guys are flying around to some extent. We've still got a lot that we've gotta get better at, and playing fanatical as a team."

"We're not playing as fast as we will" due to the nature of learning. Still pleased with the competition level. Guys come in wanting to improve every day.

How to cultivate a competitive atmosphere: "You do that by rewarding guys who play well, and guys who don't play as well, you maybe don't get as many snaps." In their situational drills (red zone, etc.), "There's consequences for losing." There is competition within positions and also offense v defense.

Smooth transition for Denard? "I think so." He sometimes has issues with rushing the footwork, but both QBs have handled it really well. Once in a while, Denard shows off those feet. "If you leave a little crease in there, he can go get it."

How have players responded to practice intensity? "They haven't come to see me about it. I guess it's been OK."

Etc.

Any spring surprises? "Not yet. I think it's way too early to make any comment, to be honest with you. We're just really scratching the surface, in my opinion." General thoughts: "I think there's a little more, I think good and bad... You want to see some guys be a little more physical and a little more sudden in some of the things they're doing. At the same time, there's some other guys who have done a good job of being physical and the things that you're looking for."

By the end of spring, "We'll never be where I want us to be. Period. I know me." It's typical here, like it was with BSU and SDSU, they know where the team is starting and where they want to be when they finish spring. "We're where I thought we'd be right now, and where we thought we'd be."

There's a learning curve "paralysis by analysis" when installing new O and D. You see it more on the defensive side of the ball (which is by nature reactive). "From an offensive standpoint you may see it when the guys up front start movement patterns." Players over-thinking new plays, technique, etc. being a little different. "They're hungry, and they wanna learn. We just gotta keep as coaches doing a good job of being teachers."

Fundamentals and techniques of positions are the critical areas. Every position needs to know proper alignments, line splits, etc. Effort and toughness do not have any wiggle room for being less than perfect. The techniques and schemes are new, but effort and toughness do not change. How big is the gap between what players are doing and it should be done? "I don't know. The Grand Canyon size, right now." Players want to be coached and do it the right way. Guys who have played a lot might be further along, but may be slower learning a different way to do things.

They have 1-on-1 padded drills, not necessarily tackling all the time. "You're only limited to a certain amount [of full-contact practices], so you've gotta cherish those dates."

Had to move practice to 5:30 in the morning [ed: !!!] on Monday because 40-some players had Monday afternoon class. "Morning is my favorite time of day, but i worry about the other end of it for the kids" from an academic perspective.

It's important to practice outside in fall, but not so much in spring. "Previous experience here has told me you may get 6 times at the most to get out in the 15 days." The new indoor facility allows full kicking game, you can throw full deep routes without hitting the ceiling.

Pre-Spring Presser Notes

Pre-Spring Presser Notes

Submitted by Tim on March 15th, 2011 at 2:58 PM

Notes from Brady Hoke's meeting with the press today.

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Actual News

Injuries:

  • "Floyd won't play as much this spring because he's coming off surgery."
  • "Woolfolk is getting better, but at the same time it wouldn't be very intelligent of us to have him doing a whole lot out there."
  • "Kenny Demens will be a little bit limited because of the shoulder surgery he had."
  • "Teric Jones is out for sure. Mike Shaw broke his hand the other day, falling on the turf and trying to catch himself. So he'll be limited on Saturday for sure," but will play with a cast after that. Teric Jones's injury is a "significant" one to his knee. It's too early to say whether he'll be out or limited in the fall.

Position changes: Will Campbell will play 3-tech. He's bounced back and forth, but has done a good job with conditioning this spring. "It would be too early for us to make any [other] changes, because we don't know what they can do anyway, to be honest with you."

There will be no update on Devin Gardner's redshirt status until his fourth year. (So stop asking about it).

MSU and OSU countdown clocks: "Those are pretty important games. And we want to think about those important games every day." Some outside his office, some down by the locker room "That's it for now, I think."

Scholarship numbers: "We should be at 84, I believe."

General Spring Notes

Spring game - "Wait until we get there and see. We'd like to play a true, competitive 'seniors draft the teams' Spring Game." Not sure if there's enough depth to do that.

Spring success: "It won't ever be a success," because here's always something that they can do better. Need to improve on field, in classroom, in community. Installation of offense, etc.

There will be a few practices open to the media this spring, but none have been determined yet.

Excited to get started. Only seen guys in conditioning and the weight room so far. Still won't see them with pads until after Monday - that's when they'll know what they have. 3 non-padded practices, including first 2 and the day of the coaches' clinic.

"We're gonna hit a lot. And then we'll see where we're at as a team." Have to get a look at the team, and at the players. If guys prove themselves, they might not hit as much to avoid injury.

"Spring is always important because I think it gives you an ability to have competition. The one thing you'll find out is this is competition on a daily basis." Even the guys who have already played need to continue to compete because other guys will step up.

First things to evaluate: attitude, effort, toughness, accountability. Everything starts with mentality and toughness. A lot of unknowns "Try and create an environment that's going to have toughness with it and effort with it and a mentality of how you play." Need to develop guys from a fundamental and technique standpoint.

Will go back to what he's done at last two stops when coming in. "It all starts there. And it's worked." Players need to learn how the practice runs, etc.

Strength and conditioning is not only to develop physically, but also develop an attitude: "No one's going to beat us. And it's an earned attitude."

The Team (The Team, The Team)

Hasn't watched a lot of film on past performances. Doesn't want preconceived notions of how guys play. You don't know how they've been coached, so you don't want a bad impression in case the coaching wasn't up to par.

Denard - "He's a kid who loves to play the game, he's hungry to play the game. There's some things at that position, because of the offense, he's going to have to get comfortable in." Mostly under center, not exclusively. Both QBs have done a good job learning the intricacies of the new O, but they still have a lot to learn. "Taking a snap from center, I know they've worked on that little bit out their on their own." Borges has enough experience to properly manage what the QBs do.

RBs - "I think right now, we've gotta see who can run the power play. Get downhill and do the things we want them to do as an offensive player." Haven't used TEs and fullbacks as much, need to develop them as well.

OL - Molk has played a lot of football, is a good player. He'll start on the first play of the spring, along with most of the guys who have played a lot. If they don't play with toughness and effort "they can always move down." Funk will find top 7-8 guys.

Some positions have guys who have played a lot of football, such as Mike Martin at DT. Need to continue improving his game even though he's played.

Hoke will coach a lot of special teams with Coach Ferrigno. Will also coach the Sam 'backer during some parts of practice. Wants to be hands-on, and can also offer something there.

Woolfolk position - "I can't answer that position question] for sure. Until we get to really watch him run around and what he can do." Right now, likely stays at corner. "Safeties, we're not bad. Corners, not as good" depth-wise.

FG kicking - "Part of it is a confidence level that guys have or don't have." Getting more reps with the expectation of doing it perfectly will help.

Etc.

Chris Barnett's relationship with Baron Flenory - "I'm not going to get into a kid's personal life. If he wants to talk about it, he can talk about it." He was mature about how he visited and went through the recruiting process.

Future recruiting: "We're making progress. We've had quite a few kids on unofficials, and will continue through the spring."

Helmet stickers - hasn't given it any further thought.

Not worried about finalizing his contract.

Relationships with players - "I think it's always evolving." It's been positive, and he has very good communication with them.

Oversigning: "I think the Big Ten's policy is probably one that everyone should be able to live with." Can't speak for other coaches, or claim they mislead kids.

The current scoreboards will be fully taken down within the next week or so, and the Athletic Department will announce around that time which company has been awarded the contract for the new scoreboards. Once they make that announcement, artist's renderings will be available. The scoreboards will be completed in August.

Football Luncheon Notes

Football Luncheon Notes

Submitted by Tim on March 9th, 2011 at 4:27 PM

Michigan's new football coaching staff met with the media today prior to the start of spring ball. Here are some excerpts of what they said. Video coming tomorrow.

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Head Coach Brady Hoke

I spent much less time with Hoke because we've had chances to hear from him before. The assistants have much more new stuff to say.

"We've talked a lot about 'this is a fresh start' and going back to square one."

The facility upgrades are a lot different than last time Hoke was here. "You look aesthetically at how everything looks, and it's beautiful. It's a sign of the times in college football."

Defensive Coordinator Greg Mattison

"We have to take who we have, and make them as good as they can be." Can the team make dramatic improvements on D? "It has to. Michigan forever - and you guys know it longer than I do - Michigan has taken great pride in defense, and will take great pride in defense again." It starts with technique, fundamentals, and stopping the run. Not allowing big plays and great red zone defense are huge.

It was tough to come to Michigan, because the Ravens are a great team, and "probably one of the best franchises in the NFL right now." In the end, he couldn't turn down working with Brady again and coming to Michigan again. He likes working with young guys and teaching the game.

On Hoke: "He's number one a great leader, he's a great person, as far as knowing what has to happen. He loves Michigan. He's always loved Michigan. He has a passion to get Michigan back to where it always was." Mattison and Hoke stayed close even though they weren't on the same staff for several years.

Cameron Gordon will play outside linebacker, because they want to get the guys into the best position they can to make plays. "And then what's the most upside." He has great ability to grow, and has that upside at OLB. "As compared to being a safety, I think he can do that too, but we have other guys that can do that."

"How dangerous? I don't know that, because we haven't hit anybody." Don't know how tough the team is until they have contact practices.

Nobody on the staff is selfish or looking out for their owns goals. "Everybody has Michigan first. It's not about any individual on that team."

Mattison hasn't watched any film on the defense from 2010. The only useful thing would be for individual ability, but he'll learn that through conditioning. "The players we have here are who we have here." Improving the defensive rankings doesn't matter. "I want this defense to be the best they can possibly be... It doesn't matter what the numbers were before. If the numbers were 50 a game and it goes down to 40, that isn't good enough." The bar at Michigan is higher than most places.

The coaches have to invest their own effort for the players to buy in. "Through their effort, they can become 'Michigan football players' again. And they're not far off."

"Very very physical, aggressive defense. A defense that, when somebody comes out on that field, they know their in a war." The other point of pride is having excellent technique.

Young kids are excited to play for a coach who's had Ray Lewis, Haloti Ngata, and Ed Reed play for him. "The good news is, you don't coach these guys any different than you coach them. It's just teaching."

Defensive Line: Jerry Montgomery

"They're going to be a reflection of me. I'm passionate about what I do, they'll feel that passion, and eventually it will rub off." The defensive linemen will play with intensity and "we're going to be the best-coached group on the field." Building a relationship with the players is one of the most important parts of coaching.

There are a lot of different defensive schemes out there, "but at the end of the day, you get to a lot of the same things." Michigan's 4-3 this season won't be worried about confusing the offense or disguising what they're going to get on a given play, unlike some of the other schemes out there. It'll be a lot of "here we are, come at us." Think along the lines of what Iowa does.

"Our goal is to stop the run first. That's priority number one."

The players who are best capable of playing "within the defense" will be the ones who play. If they're All-Americans in another scheme, but can't accept the coaching, they aren't going to play.

Coach Mattison is able to compare linemen to Haloti Ngata, Terrell Suggs, and other great NFL linemen, so they know the bar is set high, and what they're aiming to achieve. "What they're asking is 'how can I be more like him?' Well, I'm going to them them." They'll watch the Ravens film because "we're going to be running that defense. So we've got the luxury of using that film."

"I'd like to rotate a bunch. But we've gotta have the players for us to do that. I won't know until we get deep into spring ball what type of depth we have." They want to keep the linemen fresh as much as possible.

It's exciting to work under Coaches Hoke and Mattison, because they're former D-Line coaches, and it's great to learn under them.

On Mattison: "Regardless of how old he is, he's great with the players, he relates to the players, and he's a great recruiter." He's as energetic as Montgomery, despite the age difference. He has the enthusiasm of a young guy, and cam back to college because he loved recruiting so much.

Offensive Coordinator Al Borges

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The installation timeline for the offense isn't set in stone. They'll work on certain things as long as they need for the players to get it.

The important qualities for a quarterback are 1) proper management, and getting the offense into the proper plays, 2) throw accurately, and 3) "when there's breakdowns, particularly in the passing game, can you create?" The third quality separates system QBs from great ones.

There will still be some designed run plays. "He's not gonna rush for 1700 yards, I've already told him that." If he runs for 700 less and makes up for it in passing yards, that's a win. "Denard wants to be a next-level player." He's aware that this coaching staff gives him an opportunity to develop enough to play quarterback at the next level.

Borges has coached guys who can run in the past, but nobody with Denard's running skills. "He definitely has next level skills." As a quarterback? "Possibly." He's about as big as Michael Vick, and a little faster. He just needs to get the passing skills where they need to be.

Devin Gardner has a chance to play. "We have complete respect for what's been accomplished by Denard and anyone else in the lineup. But by the same token, everyone's going to have to prove to us they can play their position." They'll start with the guys that finished last year, but there's no entitlement.

The offense has a zone package, but they're not primarily a zone running team. "We're a combination of zone, gap, and insert schemes." They'll explore more options with what works well in practice. They've gone toward more gap in the past (SDSU) and also more zone (Auburn). All of it is available. The read-option isn't dead, but it's not a priority of this team.

Aaron Wellman, the team's strength coach, is as good as anybody at determining every individual player's maximum efficient weight. If guys can be most efficient a little lighter, so be it.

Running Backs: Fred Jackson

Every player in the running back position group (even Vincent Smith!) will play both running back and a bit of fullback, except John McColgan, who is strictly a fullback. They won't necessarily be doing the traditional Iso blocking, of course. Added versatility will make them all better players.

Running backs in this system have a wider range of responsibilities than the previous system. They have to be able to be pass catchers not just in the flat, but as downfield receivers as well. For the running backs, the spread wasn't that complex an offense. "For this offense, you're involved in every scheme of the protections, you're not free-released as much."

Vincent Smith is excited for the new offense, but he's a little nervous that the new offense has a reputation of favoring bigger backs. "But Vincent Smith for his size, pound for pound, I'd put him up against anybody. He's a tough, tough kid."

On Mike Cox: "He is by far better-suited for this offense. What he has to do to see the field is grasp the offense. I think I've talked about that in the past."

As high school players, Thomas Rawls is very similar to Mark Ingram: "What Mark has done right now, you can't really compare to anything," but they are very similar coming out of high school.

Justice Hayes is versatile enough to play several positions. "He can play running back, he can play receiver, he can play defensive back." For now, he's a running back, but "he can do a lot of things."

Offensive Line: Darrell Funk

It's tough to know what you have at your position group until actual spring practice starts. At offensive line, it's even tougher until you get them in pads. "I'm really excited. Even though we really enjoy recruiting and all those things that come with the job, we're here to coach football."

The biggest key for these guys is to teach them the new system, including the terms, etc. that are different from before. "There'll be some growing pains that way." That doesn't mean it's all about three yards and a cloud of dust - you have to be able to run and pass.

It's not just football that the players need to adjust to: "in the weight room, and in the training, and in the conditioning... doing things like we want to do."

They had to transition the offense from spread to pro-style at San Diego State as well, though that was more of a passing spread. "It ended up being real good in a 2-year period." The Aztecs were a 2-win program the year before this staff came in, so they might start a little further ahead at Michigan.

This group of kids at Michigan is an intelligent and attentive group. "It's mostly older kids in there. The David Molks and some kids who have played a lot of football." They're very willing to learn.

"We don't want guys to put on bad weight... just like every place, there's some guys who need to put on weight and there's a few who probably need to lose a pound or two. At the end of the day, if you can perform what we need done at, say, 290, and you want them to be 300: at the end of the day, production is key."

Unverified Voracity Rehabs Bill Simmons

Unverified Voracity Rehabs Bill Simmons

Submitted by Brian on February 18th, 2011 at 3:41 PM

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Explicit Georgia. Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity mentioned that his school wouldn't oversign a couple weeks ago but didn't go nearly as far as Florida's Bernie Machen, who called grayshirting and whatnot "reprehensible." You can't get away with that in the media, however, and after further questioning he laid it down:

First-year UGA athletics director Greg McGarity is strongly opposed to the practice of oversigning football prospects and in favor of legislation to help curtail such activity among SEC institutions.

“It’s just the right thing to do,” McGarity told Dawgs247 this week … According to McGarity, “I think it will be a topic for discussion (at SEC meetings) in Destin this year.”

“I think you will see controls in place,” McGarity said. “Now what that model will look like will be determined later — sooner than later. … I think you’ll see it being dealt with at the conference level much like the Big Ten (Conference) deals with it currently.”

Wow: someone in the SEC suggesting the Big Ten model in anything is worthwhile. Mike Slive is squinting at whichever wall faces the general direction of Athens right now, trying to burn a hole through it with his mind.

Get The Picture suggests that McGarity's optimism that something will get done is probably foolish since eight SEC schools have a vested interest in the ability to "sign half the world in February." He's right, but adding a second SEC athletic director to the chorus of people saying Something Must Be Done is getting close to critical mass. If the SEC isn't willing to do something about it, maybe the NCAA will.

In conclusion, the SEC is a terrible basketball conference.

Excellent decision. Score one for Brady Hoke:

"I'm not a big fan (of Twitter) at all," he said.

Asked if he would join other "cool" coaches who maintain Twitter accounts to keep fans abreast of what's happening in their program, Hoke said he won't join in.

"I'm not cool," he said. "I've never tried to be cool."

No coach* who has tried to be cool on twitter has succeeded in making their exclamation-filled (or, in the case of Charlie Weis, sober, book-length-Bon-Jovi-concert-memoir-filled) twitter account anything better than mildly embarrassing. If you don't speak the language it's better not to try.

*[Head coach. Assistants are fine. Bacari Alexander's cult of #HALOL is going swimmingly.]

Mount Godin settles down. It's a long time until Tim's next recruiting update so a small update on MI DT Matt Godin, who said something to the effect that he was "done with Michigan" in an article on Rivals. Godin immediately sought to clarify/explain/disclaim the quote with Tom. His brother signed up* here to explain, as well:

Matthew is a very competitive person, and he is frustrated because the new staff has not shown any interest in him despite the fact that he is regularly hearing from many other top programs. 

Knowing Matthew's personality, I specifically told him not to say anything negative about any school because I knew some of the reporters would try to elicit such comments.  I am very frustrated and disappointed that he did not heed my advice, but he has tried to rectify the situation as best he can by clarifying things with Tom.  My parents, my sisters and I have all spoken with Matthew today, and we are disappointed in his lack of maturity and composure. 

Each day, Matthew is asked my fellow students at school why Michigan has not offered him, and he constantly has correspondents from recruiting websites asking him about the issue.  I can see why he is frustrated, but I do not condone his behavior. 

Matthew's dream is to play college football, and he has been a UM fan since he was a child.  Both my father and my sister graduated from UM, and I am currently finishing medical school at the University of Michigan.  We would love to see Michigan offer him.  However, if the coaching staff does not find him to be a good fit, then it's not meant to be.  He is extremely blessed to have his current offers, and I know that he will excel wherever he goes.  Go blue!

Godin already has Northwestern and Michigan State offers, so there's a good chance that if he's patient the coaches will offer him.

*[His email address checks out in the UM directory, FWIW.]

Bill Simmons image rehab: complete? Hey, remember three years ago when everyone hated Bill Simmons? I spent some time echoing the zeitgeist so I could say he's still way better than Drew Sharp in 2008. It's not like I didn't understand why people were turning on him—even my defense was maybe two-thirds-hearted. The backlash was met with mild push-back along the lines of what I wrote and it seemed that everyone had settled on the idea that Simmons was old and tired and had lost his fastball.

Then he organized and produced 30 for 30, a series that probably claims 30 of the top 50 sports documentaries of all time. He did this on ESPN, a channel that thinks Stephen A. Smith is a good idea to re(!)-hire. Now even people who blame him for all the Affleck movies about Boston* have to admit that The Two Escobars was awesome and The Ocho seems like way less of a bad idea than it did five years ago.

Presenting sort of the Ocho:

ESPN Gives Web Star Bill Simmons His Own Site

by Peter Kafka

Here’s Bill Simmons’ reward for sticking with ESPN: His own piece of turf, where the star columnist/multimedia experimenter can cultivate a new sports/pop culture site.

Simmons already has his own page on ESPN.com, but this is something much more ambitious, with a dedicated staff and a roster of contributing writers. If you were in Web publishing, you might call it a “vertical”. The rest of you might call it a digital magazine.

He's hiring 8-12 people and the thing sounds like something totally different than a newspaper—the sort of thing Fanhouse probably should have been. Klosterman is on board. It's described as a "sports/literary" website, which kind of sounds like The Run Of Play with more Karate Kid and fewer Baudrillard references. Quickish—the new thing Dan Shanoff is doing—has more details and analysis. He's enthusiastic about it. So am I.

*[Guh.]

Detroit City. (This is irrelevant but one of the Michigan Ultras posted in the comments so there's your tangent.) The Lions In Winter has a great post with lots of original reporting about the guys who bought the Silverdome and are trying to bring an MLS team to Detroit. Their plans are outlandish. I really hope they come off.

There is discussion of a name in the comments; my two cents: it must be Detroit City, and the crest should be a rock, and people should abbreviate them "DRC," and nothing else is acceptable. Here's this thing you can sign on the internet:

Comments that uselessly say soccer sucks will be met by hellacious point drainage.

Etc.: Winner for the most obscure Toomer's corner analogy: "it's more like [Saint] Boniface wiping out Thor's tree and singing amongst the wreckage."

Bright, Sunshiny Unverified Voracity

Bright, Sunshiny Unverified Voracity

Submitted by Brian on February 10th, 2011 at 3:48 PM

Site update. It took a little longer than we thought it would but we have restored commenting abilities for IE users. This serves as your regular reminder that you should switch to Chrome or Firefox. Also, users should be able to upload avatars again. Also I updated the "MGoElsewhere" menu a bit so it contains links to twitter feeds for both Tim and Tom.

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Chris Ryba/Daily

The destruction of the innocents. Basketball beat Northwestern 75-66 yesterday as Jordan Morgan went ham (11 of 13, 27 points) against the Phantom of the Opera and John Shurna failed to exist. Shurna's been limited much of the season and apparently picked something new up recently. His last three games are a DNP against OSU and two games in which he played around 25 minutes but only attempted 5 field goals. Michigan may have gotten a little fortunate there.

I don't have a ton to say that UMHoops didn't cover in the link above but some praise is in order for Morris, Hardaway, and Douglass for setting up Morgan's monster night. Almost all of Morgan's baskets were assisted and even on the ones that weren't his teammates were setting him up in excellent position. Example: Douglass had an excellent post feed—in a year when any post feed is a rarity—that allowed Morgan to immediately spin baseline for a layup. Northwestern's D is terrible so this may stand as a career game for Morgan but it was good to see him be so efficient after that Ohio State game where going up soft cost Michigan badly. Morgan started the game off in similar fashion before becoming ruthless.

Meanwhile, at one point I exclaimed "shoot that!" when Hardaway passed up an open three. Progress all around. I wasn't even that mad about the terrifying Northwestern run because it was four straight three pointers, two of them challenged to the point where there could have been a foul.

Kenpom moved a bit afterwards. Not losing a game Michigan was only mildly favored in pushed the season prediction to almost exactly 17.5-13.5 and increased the chance of reaching 9-9 and therefore the bubble to 16%. Slightly beating the prediction moved Michigan up to 52nd, one spot behind Michigan State.

More fodder for next year's optimism. The Only Colors tracks an individual stat called PORPAG that sort of mimics baseball's VORP. (The usual caveats that basketball is a team game and you don't know about defense, etc., apply.) A quick glance at their top 15 shows Darius Morris sixth. That's excellent. More excellent still is that only four players in the top 15 are going to be around next year: UW's Jordan Taylor, Morris, Shurna, and IU's Jordan Hulls. The rest are seniors or Jared Sullinger. So not only is Michigan returning everyone but the rest of the Big Ten is getting hammered by graduation.

This is not a throwdown. So one part of the now confusingly diverse Maize 'n' Brew crew got sick of my repeated assertions that The Process was the worst way to acquire any new head coach, Brady Hoke or not. The result was this very long post that asserts Michigan's most recent recruiting class is "awesome" and makes other arguments that I don't even know what to do with. Since that post's been disputed by another of that site's contributors and effectively countered by a long message board thread here that's surprisingly light on snark and image macros. I'll forgo a response (other than, you know, this) because Mets Maize made it pointless:

One Small Step for Hoke, One Giant Leap for Hokeamania

There you go: the events of the last month delivered with maximum pith. Nothing has changed the fact Michigan had a candidate pool of one in their coaching search that started in January that they were probably going to start no matter the result of the bowl game.

Hopefully we'll start seeing some reason for optimism other than Mattison soon. Nothing in the intervening weeks qualifies, not even Jason Whitlock's endorsement.

Wasted effort. The Sporting News's Dave Curtis went to some trouble to find out that converting third downs is a good idea. It's gotten play a few places because it's February 10th and the long hard college football offseason has started. I don't like this because I am all mathy and stuff and this…

All five BCS bowl winners ranked among the nation’s top 13 teams in third-down differential. The differential statistic, not officially computed by the NCAA, takes a team’s third-down conversion rate on offense and subtracts its opponents’ third-down conversion rate.

…is not useful at all. "Drives are good," it says.

Worse, it places undue emphasis on third down itself when first and second down are equally, if not more, important. This has unfortunately succumbed to linkrot but back in the day I did an analysis of third downs by distance and frequency, coming to the unsurprising conclusion that short was good and great third down conversion rates are often more indicative of what you did before third down than anything else. Just looking at third down rates is goofy because first and second down contribute to the distance you have to go—you're really looking at "first and second and third down conversion rate," which is fine if you want to look at that. Just don't make it seem like third down is really really important when your number doesn't control for the effects of first and second.

Old news. I got distracted writing posts on the 4-3 and Tim Hardaway that ballooned into way longer thing than I thought they'd end up being, so some items fell through the cracks. You've seen these already if you read anything other than the front page here.

One: Wojo interviewing Brady Hoke. Amongst the increasingly familiar Passion For Michigan, Denard As NFL Vick, and Tremendous Toughness segments were a couple of things that are not familiar. One was Hoke saying he was "pissed off" at Michigan's factionalism the past three years, which is a refreshingly blunt way for a coach to say anything. The other was the admission that beer had a role in shaping Hoke's physique:

Q. Did you just drop a hint you were a bit wild back in your college days?

A. Uh, yeah, for two years I really didn't have the best goals in mind. I wanted to play football and try to drink every beer in Muncie, Ind. And I tell parents that on visits.

I'm trying to ignore the bit that follows wherein "funnest" gets deployed. Football coaches and grammar, man.

Hoke comes off as likeable, down to earth, etc. Even if you're of the opinion that ADs tweeting out old Jason Whitlock articles as evidence in favor of anything is awful, at least the guy he hired has a solidly positive rootability factor.

BONUS:

Q. How often do you chew a kid's tail?

A. Oh, usually daily.

Do yourself a massive favor by taking that out of context.

Two: De-emphasizing Denard, a little bit. This is almost a week old and has the freshness of Abe Vigoda but:

"To a degree … we're blowing a lot of it up," new Michigan offensive coordinator Al Borges said. "In our offense, I don't see Denard rushing for 1,700 yards, and I told him that. But I could see him rushing for 1,000 yards, and I could see him throwing for that 700 or 800 he didn't rush for."

Hives hives hives hives hives… mmm smaller, treatable hives. Borges later praises Denard's completion percentage as a couple other coaches make noises about a running game that looks "a little different" and emphasizes more "downhill" running. It then throws this in at the end:

Michigan was eighth nationally in total offense, averaging 488.69 yards, 13th in rushing (234.54), 25th in scoring (32.77) and 36th in passing (250.15).

…and returns ten starters. I'll come around on Al Borges after he's got a tall strapping fellow bombing it for 10 YPA but the chances I don't spend next year bitching about the misapplication of Denard Robinson are slim. I'm not even sure how you get him 1,000 yards if he's taking snaps from center. You can only run so many waggles and Incredibly Surprising QB Draws. As always, I hope to be pleasantly surprised. Hoke uber alles.

Etc.: Michigan picks up a 2013 hockey commit; JT Compher is a forward from Illinois who seems high-end, like first-round OHL pick and easy NTDP pick high-end. We'll see if that holds up as he ages. Mets Maize on the Northwestern game. More justified hockey grumbling. Spring game will be April 16th. Michigan football documentary series planned. The Wolverine Blog points out that the guys who "couldn't shoot ever" now can and that's probably another thing we can add to the list of reasons Darius Morris is awesome. Scot Loeffler becomes Temple's OC.

Signing Day Presser Wrap

Signing Day Presser Wrap

Submitted by Tim on February 3rd, 2011 at 3:40 PM

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You've probably heard most of the details already - and if you want the full play-by-play, read through the end of yesterday's liveblog - but here are some greatest hits from Brady Hoke's Signing Day presser yesterday:

  • All signed recruits are expected to qualify to play next year.
  • Jack Miller was singled out as a center. Tamani Carter was listed as a safety. Chris Rock was listed as a defensive end, but Hoke mentioned that some defensive linemen in the class may end up moving inside.
  • There is no update on Devin Gardner's redshirt status (so you can stop asking).
  • Michigan will run a 4-3 defense next year, including under and over fronts.

And now, for the video I shot of Michigan's assistant coaches. What can you expect? Offensive line coach discusses the future positions of Michigan's three commits (it's still possible that Tony Posada plays tackle, and some current players may move positions as well), Fred Jackson breaks down the game of Justice Hayes and Thomas Rawls, offensive coordinator Al Borges discusses the skillset of QB commit Russell Bellomy and talks about adjusting his offense to take advantage of Denard's skillset, and recruiting coordinator Chris Singletary describes holding the class together during a coaching transition.

Be sure to pay attention at 2:35 for an EPIC FRED JACKSON, as he calls Thomas Rawls a faster version of Anthony Thomas and Chris Perry:

He is like the 2nd and 5th all-time Michigan rushing leaders...except faster!

One other quick note: Singletary told me off-camera that the coaching staff would solidify a couple dates for Junior Days in the next week. I would guess that February 12th and March 5th (home basketball weekends) are good guesses.

Brady Hoke, Recruiter

Brady Hoke, Recruiter

Submitted by Tim on January 24th, 2011 at 1:29 PM

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Since Brady Hoke was named head coach last Wednesday, a number of articles have been published lauding his ability as a recruiter. Since he was a position coach in his time at Michigan and recruiting data that far back is tough to come by, I'll look only at his time as a head coach, first at Ball State, then SDSU.

It should be noted that Rivals rankings get pretty fuzzy down in the depths. When they're all sleepers, performance matters more than rankings.

2003

Previous Year Record: 6-6 (4-4 MAC)
Signees: 19
Average Rating: 2.00 Stars
Rivals Ranking: 11th MAC (13 teams)

When Hoke arrived at Ball State, the Cardinals were coming off a .500 season under Bill Lynch - whom you may recognize as Indiana's recently-fired head man. He signed 19 prospects in February 2003, all of them 2-star prospects. That was only good for 11th in the 13-team conference, though some schools just had a greater number of equally regarded prospects (Eastern and Western Michigans with 21, Buffalo with 24, and Kent State with 30). Temple led the conference with a 4-star commit and four 3-star commits, but they were on their way out of the Big East. Bowling Green, off Urban Meyer's final year, signed a quartet of 3-star prospects.

It's unfair to hold Hoke's first class against him, especially since he had few scholarships to give out. Among schools that were not leaving a BCS conference or led by Urban Meyer, he was solidly middle-of-the-pack.

2004

Previous Year Record: 4-8 (3-5 MAC)
Signees: 26
Average Rating: 2.00 Stars
Rivals Ranking: t-5th MAC (13 teams)

Despite a big step back on the field, Hoke was able to move forward in recruiting. He signed a big class of 26 prospects, all of them 2-stars to Rivals - and in the first year of the "RR" rating, four 5.2 prospects, a 5.1, and a pair of 5.0s, with the rest receiving no mark. The Cardinals were in a 6-way tie for 5th in the conference, with a number of other schools that signed varying numbers of 2-star guys. Western Michigan, Northern Illinois, Bowling Green, and Temple were ahead of the pack.

Though it was big jump in the rankings, this class was only a marginal improvement in reality. The Cardinals signed more prospects than the previous year, and Rivals changed their methodology slightly.

2005

Previous Year Record: 2-9 (2-6 MAC)
Signees: 21
Average Rating: 2.00 Stars
Rivals Ranking: t-8th MAC (13 teams)

As Ball State's record on the field continued to decline (despite threde Cardinals going in the following spring's NFL Draft), the recruiting maintained status quo. Though BSU's overall ranking was 8th in the MAC, it was a five-way tie for second-to-last. Once again, every prospect they signed was given two stars, with about half receiving the lowest RR rating possible: 4.9.

However, some of the members of this class went on to outperform their recruiting rankings. Offensive lineman Robert Brewster would go on to become a 3rd round pick of the Dallas Cowboys in 2009 (He is no longer listed on the Cowboys' roster). Wideout Dante Love led the nation in receiving yards in 2008 before suffering a spinal injury in the fourth game of the season.

2006

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Previous Year Record: 4-7 (4-4 MAC)
Signees: 23
Average Rating: 2.13 Stars
Rivals Ranking: 3rd MAC (13 teams)

His fourth recruiting class (third full class) at Ball State saw Brady Hoke land his first three 3-star prospects. Quarterback Nate Davis was the headliner. He would go on to lead the Cardinals to a near-comeback in Michigan Stadium as a true freshman and enter the NFL Draft after just three seasons in Muncie. He was a 5th-round pick of the San Francisco 49ers. Safety Terrell Johnson and defensive end Justin Woodard were the other 3-star prospects.

Yet again, Ball State's recruiting improved despite stagnation on the field.

2007

Previous Year Record: 5-7 (5-3 MAC)
Signees: 26
Average Rating: 2.04
Rivals Ranking: 4th MAC (12 teams)

This class was yet again close to the best in the conference. Two 3-star prospects signed with the Cardinals - running back Frank Edmonds and defensive tackle Renee Perry. This class also brought the first junior college transfer to Ball State in the Brady Hoke era, linebacker Cedric Rainey.

The Cardinals maintained status quo with this class - though the status quo had improved slightly since Hoke's first year in Muncie.

2008

Previous Year Record: 7-6 (5-2 MAC, co-Division Champs)
Signees: 21
Average Rating: 2.10
Rivals Ranking: 9th MAC (13 teams)

A huge step forward on the field for Ball State didn't make much of a difference in recruiting. The MAC signed more 3-star prospects than any of the past years, which is probably due to more 3-stars in Rivals's pool rather than an uptick in conference recruiting.

Ball State once again signed a pair of 3-stars, wideout Briggs Orsbon and quarterback Kelly Page. Neither has yet made an impact on the depth chart.

2009 - Ball State

Previous Year Record: 12-2 (8-0 MAC, lost Championship Game)
Signees: 24
Average Rating: 2.13
Rivals Ranking: t-9th MAC (3 teams)

I won't spend too much time on this class since Hoke left Ball State in December. There was plenty of time for replacement Stan Parrish to put his own mark on the class. The Cardinals signed three 3-star prospects: tight end Jacob Green, quarterback Aaron Mershman, and running back Eric Williams.

2009 - San Diego State

Previous Year Record: 2-10 (1-7 Mountain West)
Signees: 20
Average Rating: 2.10
Rivals Rankings: 8th MWC (9 teams)

Like his first class at Ball State, this can't be fully held against Hoke. Chuck Long cratered the Aztecs the previous year, though he did pull in the conference's 2nd-best 2008 class (behind only Utah).

Hoke's first hybrid class in San Diego contained four 3-star prospects: cornerback Nat Berhe, safety Eric Pinkins, and running backs Anthony Miller and Ronnie Hillman. Hillman was SDSU's leading rusher in 2010 after redshirting 2009. Berhe played each of the past two seasons, while the other two redshirted after getting playing time as true freshmen.

The Aztecs also brought in one junior college transfer, defensive back Larry Parker.

2010

Previous Year Record: 4-8 (2-6 Mountain West)
Signees: 27
Average Rating: 2.63
Rivals Ranking: 5th MWC (9 teams)

The Aztecs showed incremental improvement in Hoke's first year in San Diego, and he followed it up with his best recruiting class to date. Utah, BYU, TCU, and Colorado State finished with better recruiting classes (per Rivals) than SDSU, and other than Colorado State, all had exceptional seasons.

Hoke signed the first 4-star prospect of his head coaching career, landing JUCO defensive end Perry Jackson, along with 15(!) 3-star prospects. This class was JUCO-heavy with six transfers from schools within California. Maybe Hoke had a feeling it would be his last year in San Diego, and wanted to grab some guys who would be able to play immediately.

2011 - San Diego State

Previous Year Record: 9-4 (5-3 Mountain West)
Commits: 21
Average Rating: 2.17
Rivals Ranking: 5th MWC (9 teams)

Nobody has committed to SDSU since Hoke left, so all the commits should be accountable to him (or his assistants). The Aztecs have slipped slightly from last year's recruiting class, though instability has certainly not helped matters.

Michigan

Obviously we don't know how Brady Hoke is going to recruit at Michigan, either to close out the 2011 class or going forward. What we do know is that Michigan traditionally recruits as well as just about anybody in the conference, and Hoke has multiple Big Ten Championship rings and a National Championship ring that he earned here at Michigan. Those are bound to make a bigger difference recruiting here than at any other school.

Spock And A Hoke Place

Spock And A Hoke Place

Submitted by Brian on January 14th, 2011 at 3:16 PM

In a van down by the river. Yes, okay, in a van down by the river. You can stop emailing me this.

In a van down by the river. Hoke's talked to Adam Rittenberg. Here's yet another image of Brady Hoke pointing at stuff:

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This is good. This makes him basically Urban Meyer.

As far as the actual WORDS Brady Hoke was SAYING, I get the feeling that in six months we're going to be able to do this in our sleep:

I want to make sure we're crystal clear on the direction we want to go. They have to understand the goal of the program and how we're going to go about achieving that goal, the accountability to each other, the toughness that we want to play the game with, the mentality we want to play the game with and the demeanor that you play the game with.

He also says Denard is definitely staying and will be "the lead part of our offense." In part two he says "represent Michigan," "represent the University of Michigan," and "play Michigan football." This man is on message.

Dollarz. Michigan's buying out the remainder of Hoke's contract for a million dollars, which you knew. They're also going to be paying out an extremely precise sum for next fall's game against the Aztecs:

Michigan agreed to pay $1,016,800 for SDSU to play the game in Ann Arbor. “That will be a fun one,” Sterk said.

The tomato cans are getting expensive these days. Actually, with SDSU sporting a senior quarterback in 2011 and Michigan's secondary still trying to figure out which way "left, left, LEFT GODDAMN LEFT AAAARGH" is dubbing SDSU a "tomato can" might be getting ahead of ourselves. The last time they came to town it took a who-dat freshman tailback named Mike Hart to pull Michigan's ass out of the fire in a too-narrow 24-21 win.

Also from that article: SDSU's 22 verbals are not wavering according to their new coach. Just in case you were wondering if we could pick off players from the fifth-ranked class in the MWC.

A (the?) defensive coordinator candidate. The name being thrown around at the moment for Michigan's open defensive coordinator spot is former Michigan assistant Vance Bedford, who was the DBs coach from 95-98. After that stint he had a six year tenure as a DB coach with the Bears, was hired by Oklahoma State to be DC, was fired after two years, returned to Michigan for Carr's final season, left for Florida to be DBs coach, and was named Louisville DC when Charlie Strong got that job.

Louisville put up some nice numbers this year but when the head coach is Charlie Strong it's questionable how much impact you're having. Also, playing in the Big East had an impact on that—they're a good-not-great 40th in FEI, one slot behind UConn. Bedford's previous tenure as a DC did not end well. Just a few games into his second season as AD he unleashed this

Monday, after OSU's defense surrendered 509 yards in a loss at Houston, Bedford said: "People are saying, ‘Well, same 'ol Oklahoma State.' Go tell those people that told that same 'ol lie to go ahead and jump off the ship like a bunch of roaches. That's OK because that's what they are, a bunch of roaches.

…and then refused to back off of it later. This probably did not help his case to keep his job; neither did finishing 95th and 89th in total defense in his two years. Oklahoma State got worse after he left, FWIW.

Hiring Bedford would be another shrug-your-shoulders moment. There's no reason to expect he's awesome but he's not Greg Robinson.

Campbell spins like a top. According to ESPN—weird source for this obscure news—Will Campbell will move back to defensive line. That might be an indication Hoke is planning a 4-3, where Campbell might fit better as a planetoid-sized NT whose job is to be the unmovable object.

The problem with this is that Campbell was very moveable in his brief stints on the field and people generally thought Bruce Tall was the one defensive assistant who could find his ass in three tries. Since Michigan has a couple of quality candidates to replace Steve Schilling they might as well try Campbell out in a scheme that fits him better than the 3-3-5 did. I'm still doubtful he's going to suddenly figure things out.

The Hoke file. Your long fluff piece on new coach X fell to Lynn Henning and reveals a strange opinion about vegetables:

"He didn't like vegetables. His favorites were two of the dumbest: cooked spinach and Brussels sprouts."

What's your problem with spinach and brussels sprouts, Mother Hoke?

BONUS: Phrases deployed include "crackerjack recruiter," "sublime hire," "astonishingly pure love for Michigan," and "the fun, the glory."

Etc.: Headlines you'll see. MVictors has handy sound clips you can embed whenever a thing Brady Hoke said in his introductory press conference aligns with your thoughts and feelings. Podcast appearance on Bucknuts, though you still have to login to hear it. San Diego is slightly more laid back than West Virginia about football.

Hoke To The Suture

Hoke To The Suture

Submitted by Brian on January 14th, 2011 at 11:24 AM

bradyhokewolverine

All in favor of having him actually grow those sideburns say aye. That's everyone.

Yay yay yay OMG… for now. Brady Hoke told the radio Denard Robinson would not transfer. So he'll go through spring at least. Also, Tate Forcier is going to try to stick it out:

"Tate wants to stay (at U-M)," Mike Forcier told TheWolverine. "I didn't come with a moving van. Our intent is to do whatever is necessary for him to rejoin the team and become a student-athlete again. We haven't talked to any other schools and we won't until we've exhausted every resource here. But Tate wants to stay and we want him to stay."

This is the greatest hire in the history of college football. This reminds me of when Vince Lombardi hired Jimmy Johnson, except faster:

Fred Jackson will return for his 20th season at Michigan and will coach running backs under Hoke, a source said Thursday night.

This is flantabulous. It reminds me of when you take some sugar and some eggs and some caramel and combine them in a delicious combination that's like custard except faster. It's Hokediculous. It's like that except faster. This is amazing. This coach is like the Heisman in a body, except it's like the Heisman in a body in one of those movies with a virus—he infects everyone with the Heisman. Word. Flan. Flan is the word, except faster.

But seriously folks. The inability of nuclear war to eradicate Fred Jackson probably pushes that Heckulinsiksinaski guy to WR coach and kills the idea that Eric "Obvious Nickname" Campbell would depart from the hard-partying Iowa WRs. Either that or it kills the idea that Scot Loeffler would enter at QB coach. Not like any of this matters, anyway. If you're not an OL or QB coach offensive assistants don't really matter.

Defensive coordinator search now even more bleedingly obvious. Jon Hoke, brother of Brady Hoke and a key aspect of Michigan's strategy to make their coaching staff literally as much of a family as possible, says he hasn't talked to Brady about the Michigan DC job and is "unlikely" to end up in Ann Arbor. That's fine by me since he's spent the last decade as a position coach in the NFL and would be something of a wildcard if he returned to college.

So. Michigan has a lot of money left over since they're paying Hoke twenty dollars and some donuts and is competing with San Diego State for the bulk of its staff. There is a guy out there with crazy recent college credentials that also comes with a reputation as a fierce recruiter. He runs the Big Ten default defense, a basic 4-3 cover two. He turned Miami—Miami!—into an APR-obliterating, arrest-avoiding team. That's Randy Shannon, kids, and we know two things:

  1. If David Brandon was serious about getting assistant pay up into the area of Michigan's peer group he's the guy who Michigan should be going after with an oversized novelty check.
  2. The chance Randy Shannon comes to Michigan is extraordinarily slim.

File on the ominous side of the ledger. So… uh… you know how Brady Hoke is a tough defensive-minded coach whose teams will run the ball and stop the run, boy won't they? Um… so… the thing is.

In eight seasons as a head coach Hoke oversaw one defense—this year's—that ranked above 84th nationally. Even during the miracle year at Ball State his team was sixth in the MAC. In fact, if you click that link and squint your eyes you might think the table of Hoke's defenses is the table of Greg Robinson's defenses. So… yeah. Um. Not to be a downer or anything. Also please don't bring up that the Graham/Malzahn combo obliterated Hoke's best team 45-13 and now Graham is at Pitt and has hired a couple Rodriguez assistants and I just feel kind of ominous about this whole section.

File on the happy side of the ledger. After nuking Navy the Aztecs rose to #12 nationally in the offensive FEI rankings. Michigan is still #2 even after the grim output against Mississippi State.

NOT ME. Probably. Look, so I might have had a bit to drink the past couple days but I can state with at least 60% confidence that this was not me:

image

I can recite pi to 54 digits, bitch. I'm Rick James.

The Process, conference edition. After consideration the Big Ten has declared that Legends and Leaders are awesome division names, thank you very much. This is emblematic of why the conference imploded on NYD: it is a league of ninnies. This space is going to stick to calling the divisions East and West even though North and South make more sense so Michigan can be Champions of the West.

Not so good. Tristin Llewellyn and Jacob Fallon are gone for the year for "violating team expectations." That ends Llewellyn's Michigan career; Fallon has an opportunity to return next year.

As far as impact goes, Fallon was only playing about half the time anyway and didn't stand out when he did. Llewellyn's loss will be more prominent. While it's impossible for anyone to replace his penalty acquisition skills with quite so much gusto, alternatives on the back line are Moffie and Clare. Moffie's been pretty bad this year—a turnover machine—and Clare has been on the back burner most of the season as Michigan tries to juggle eight defensemen. He'll probably benefit from the increased availability of playing time more than Moffie.

Etc.: Pat Fitzgerald's agent would like you to know that Michigan was probably going to offer Fitzgerald three million a year as part of their sham effort to make it look like other people were being considered. Brady Hoke buyout blah blah.

The Team

The Team

Submitted by Brian on January 13th, 2011 at 1:27 PM

1/11/2011 – Brady Hoke 1, Internet 0 – 0-0

I follow a blog called "Fund My Mutual Fund." The title should be taken literally: the guy running the blog wants you to pledge money so that he can get a mutual fund based on his stock picking method off the ground. He's done amazingly well on a publicly-tracked simulator, has sufficient pledges to break even, and is in the process of getting SEC approval after establishing a years-long track record. He's good.

He struggles when his method (technical analysis) is battered by external events that cause the stock market to veer from a well-established logical way of doing things, which is happening a lot lately thanks to Ben Bernanke. He responds to these events by publicly reminding himself the underlying fundamentals have changed, that logic means one thing when you're talking about five years and another when you're talking about five days and that even if the market goes up for stupid reasons it's going up. Here's one from this morning. He also lacerates the country's financial honchos in sarcasm-laden posts that get a little tiresome the tenth time you read essentially the same thing. He went to Michigan, too. He might be my Tyler Durden, or maybe I'm his.

A couple weeks ago I proclaimed there was a "zero point zero" percent chance that Brady Hoke was named Michigan's head coach because I assumed Hoke's flimsy resume was only acceptable to people who really truly believe that Michigan Men are Michigan Men who make other Michigan Men, who in turn create more Michigan Men until you enter a warehouse and it's like that terrible Will Smith movie with winged helmets.

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My underlying assumption was that David Brandon was a cold-hearted corporatist who would tell someone to assemble a powerpoint about head coaching candidates and take the Michigan Man stuff as merely a relevant bullet point. I was wrong. Brandon is king of the Michigan Men, and my predictive performance has lagged the market.

-------------------

Not much of consequence was said at yesterday's press conference to introduce Brady Hoke—that is the way of things—but at the very end Dave Brandon started pointing and became emphatic and the world rearranged itself:

That's the athletic director version of Kurt Wermers saying "not my kind of crowd." Rich Rodriguez never had a chance after the Ohio State game. Why David Brandon decided to go on with a dog and pony show even he admits was pointless should be a frustrating mystery, but it's not. People had to be placated. This program will eat itself alive if given half a chance.

So maybe Brady Hoke is the best choice. This organ transplant will not be rejected. Given time and an upperclass quarterback or two and a defensive staff that's not utterly clueless, Brady Hoke will quickly prove himself to be the one true Notriguez. He'll quickly improve the program and get Michigan back to being Michigan.

But I think the way this went down proves that all the things rivals say about Michigan are true. This is an unbelievably arrogant program convinced its past glories are greater and more recent than they are, certain outsiders have nothing to teach it. We will enter bowl games against opponents that say "boy, that Michigan just lines up and comes after you," and we probably won't win many of them. We never have, and trying to out-execute Alabama or Oregon seems like a tall order these days.

I hoped we could be block-M Michigan without that, that we could have an exciting, modern offense that pumped out Michigan Men and maybe shredded Oklahoma for 48 points in a BCS game. I hoped we could reboot the program, keeping the things we treasure about it but maybe leaving the dismal bowl record and recent inability to compete with Ohio State behind. For a lot of reasons we can't. We are who we are.

So, no, I'm not super happy. On the field I was done with Lloyd Carr, done with punting from the 34 and running the same damn zone stretch thirty times a game, done with the premise that it's only the players who have to execute on gameday. To me, getting back to being Michigan means going 9-3 and losing to Jim Tressel. I remember thinking "this is the year" every year growing up, expecting great things literally every season until Rodriguez showed up and Mallett transferred. I don't think that now, and I can't imagine feeling like that in the future. Sometimes having an identity feels like having a ceiling.

Non-Bullets Of Explanation

That said and true, this also. On the other hand, the past is not destiny. Jon Chait provides the best possible perspective:

Selecting a coach is a lot like selecting a recruit. The resume is the equivalent of a recruiting ranking. With recruits, a high ranking correlates with success, but a correlation is only probability, not certainty. Sometimes high-ranking recruits flame out, and sometimes sleeper recruits turn into stars.

While I'm down on the hire except insofar as it appears to be the only one that would get institutional support, Hoke could surprise people. He's in a great spot to immediately improve a team that returns damn near everyone and should profit from that momentum. Rich Rodriguez was always pushing uphill; Hoke has a much easier path to positive attention.

I didn't want to say this during the many fire-Rodriguez discussions because it seemed like the most cynical thing imaginable, but cutting Rodriguez loose right now sets the new guy up to look like 2006 Ron English after he replaced Jim Herrmann and inherited Woodley/Branch/Hall/Harris: a freaking genius. We'd find out during The Horror that he was not, but for a year the guy was untouchable. Hoke is going to get all the rope left over from the Rodriguez era and then some.

So, yes, the internet has overreacted.

I will swear now. The inbox is overflowing with pleas of varying levels of politeness to get behind Hoke, stop being so negative, etc. If you phrased it nicely, I appreciate the sentiment and the too-generous belief that I have any influence over the success or failure of Michigan's head coach. I'm not going to change my opinion overnight, however, and this remains a No Sugarcoat zone. No sugarcoat. I can promise that I'll go into the Hoke era looking for reasons he'll work out (you know, on-field reasons, not "Brady Hoke is the best human" stuff), if only because of human nature. His flexibility with Nate Davis and successful deployment of Rocky Long as a 3-3-5 DC gives me hope he's not a stick in the mud, and I'm sure Craig Ross is mailing him the Romer paper as we speak.

If you called me a hypocrite for not liking the hire when I didn't like the three years of shit Rich Rodriguez had to wade through when I haven't said one negative thing about Hoke that does not boil down to "does not have a thrilling resume," please fuck off and die. Especially people complaining about how constantly negative I am when I spent the last three years as the last guy on to die on Rodriguez Hill, as a commenter whose name I can't remember aptly put it. Double especially for people complaining like that a week after calling Rodriguez a "hillbilly" because "only hillbillies leave their alma mater."

What I am negative about is the Carr-era players—like the hillbilly guy above—whose loyalty to the program stops at the water's edge. Aside from one recent Harlan Huckleby outburst, the Bo guys either shut their traps or tried in vain to support the head coach at the University of Michigan. But I've made that point over and over again. (Mike "I support the head coach x1000" Hart is an obvious exception to this and should have been the model for his teammates.) The culture that made the last three years happen is petty and arrogant and utterly fails to live up to the Michigan Man ideal it pretends to espouse, and though I'm about a day from shutting up about it because even I'm tired of it I'm not backing off.

This will be fun. I hope everyone loves Jason Whitlock columns, because we're about to get a boatload of them. As Over The Pylon points out:

In a panicked desperate move, the administration at BSU freaked out and hired an in house coordinator to quiet the fans and hopefully maintain the momentum that was building. Michigan did much the same, only the “in house” became “Michigan experience” and the “maintain momentum” became “rebuild the program”. In BSU’s case, the failsafe went 6-18. Let’s hope for UM’s, Brady’s and everyone associated with the Wolverines’ sanity that the performance isn’t also duplicated, lest they become the target of one particular columnist with a national audience, a significantly close connection to the head coach, and a nicely sized ax that could always use some grinding.

Guh. Win, Brady, or we'll all suffer. Meanwhile, if you'd like a condescending lecture Dan Wetzel has you covered.

Carty on the dude. You can hate on Carty if you want but this is probably more interesting than anything that's been written about him so far:

The thing that separated Brady Hoke from most assistant coaches under Lloyd Carr was the confidence to be the same guy in a media interview as he was when the cameras were off. Michigan assistants never talked much in those days, and when they did, most of them were obviously concerned about saying something that would be met with disapproval by their boss.

Hoke wasn't very polished or made-for-television, something he poked fun at himself. He laughed a lot more than the other assistants did, at least in public. When he did do interviews, he asked more questions than most assistants and seemed genuinely interested in how reporters did their jobs. When a sensitive topic came up, he'd simply chuckle and say, "You know I'm not going to talk about that." He didn't shy away from criticizing players or performances when he had to. I don't ever remember him asking to go off the record or take back something he said, both common practices with assistant coaches at Michigan and elsewhere.

There are a couple more paragraphs to go along with the Ann Arbor News's entire republished archive of Hokemania.

Search fiasco: somehow still growing. I still think Jim Harbaugh was supposed to be Michigan's next head coach before he backed out sometime after it became clear the NFL wanted him badly, thus resulting in the month-long post-OSU limbo and panicked search, but seriously if Dave Brandon means what he says about not offering Miles the job he traded the opportunity to not obliterate Michigan's chances with a few key recruits for some PR. If this was going to be the result Hoke should have been hired two seconds after Rodriguez went out the door—there were no serious overtures made towards anyone else except maybe Pat Fitzgerald.

Elsewhere, Or The Best In Overreaction

Braves & Birds:

My verdict on the Hoke hire depends somewhat on my view of the Lloyd Carr era.  I liked Carr as a coach and as a representative of the University, but I wasn’t upset when he retired in large part because he had not done a good job of surrounding himself with top-notch coaches.  It’s in this respect that he is no Bo.  Bo Schembechler created modern Michigan football and one aspect of his greatness was that his coaching tree was excellent.  Carr, on the other hand, doesn’t have a coaching tree to speak of.  Thus, the two obvious candidates for Michigan’s head coaching position were Jim Harbaugh – a Bo quarterback whom Carr declined to hire when he was looking for a quarterback coach – and Les Miles – a Bo lineman/assistant whom Carr reputedly did not want as his replacement in 2007.  If Dave Brandon’s much-discussed Process was designed to bring back a Michigan Man from Bo’s lineage, then that would have been fine because hiring a Bo protege can be done on merit.  The fact that the Process produced the one sickly branch from the Carr tree is the reason why Hoke’s hire has been greeted by articles with titles like "Advice for the Despondent."

One bit of Maize 'n' Brew:

This team spent the last three years building something, and I spent the last three years not simply waiting for future glory but anticipating it.  Times were certainly tough, but I could still see the payoff at the end.  The top ten offense paired with what I still believe could have been a fast, havoc wreaking defense with a couple more years of experience and depth--and probably a new coordinator.  It wasn't always easy to watch the games, and the losing streaks against rivals always hurt, but I could take the taunts and laughter from other teams fans because I believed.  That belief wasn't ever there under Lloyd.  It was always just an ominous feeling that the other shoe was about to drop.

Another bit was not happy after the hire, either, focusing mostly on the Les Miles discussion that does not and never will end up being an offer.

I have no idea how I got to Hashiell Dammit, but if you reference Straight Bangin' in your post well, that's old school:

You know it‘s a bad decision when one’s first reaction to the news is to draw easy comparisons between Michigan football and the Big 3 Automakers decline and to scramble to the Wikipedia page for the Romanovs to confirm that yes, this moment fits perfectly within the arc of a decaying empire. The emptiness that follows, however, is a bitch.

For its part, Straight Bangin' is "paralyzed." That's probably for the best.

Touch the Banner surveys the team and attempts to find out who fits. Slot receivers have to be saying "WTF" to themselves. HSR wants Michigan Replay back, but I don't think that had anything to do with Rodriguez. IIRC the producer lost his job with the IMG switchover and owned the rights to the name and possibly the music. This totally happened 110 years ago.