Wednesday Presser 11-12-14: Brady Hoke

Wednesday Presser 11-12-14: Brady Hoke

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on November 12th, 2014 at 5:09 PM

Hoke presser 2


News bullets and other items:

  • Dennis Norfleet will play against Maryland
  • Derrick Green may or may not be back against Maryland. He, like Devin Gardner and Jake Butt, are getting healthier every day
  • President Schlissel called Hoke to apologize for his comments regarding academics and athletics. Hoke said that they recruit kids that fit the Michigan blueprint and that it’s not for everyone
  • Hoke said the Northwestern game was the offensive line’s best of the season
  • Nussmeier and Fred Jackson make the decision on which RB has the “hot hand,” and the decision can be made as early as the third series

Opening remarks:

“Thanks for coming out. Number one, yesterday we had a good chance with the players to look at the Northwestern film [and] make the corrections we need to make, but really emphasize the good things because really that's what you want to see are the good things. We've got to keep emphasizing those things. We practiced and it wasn't long but there was a lot of energy and a lot of good timing, and the one thing when you talk about bye weeks a little bit is the timing. You don't want to lose that part of it or if you need to get a little better you need to get a little better, especially in the pass game and all those things, so that was really productive.

“Start a little bit on Maryland today. I think the most exciting part of it is we are going to scrimmage some of the young guys against some who have played a little bit and those who haven't. We'll do about 30 minutes, probably 25 to 28 plays. When we do that we have to make sure it's going to help the team because those are your look teams going into the next week so I think it will be very good for us.

“Bye week again gives us a chance to rest some guys. I think getting Dennis [Norfleet]back will be very good for us. He'll be healthy. I think the health of Devin keeps – Gardner keeps improving and so in a lot of those guys there's a lot of guys who're just beat up a little bit. That's the way it is in football.

“The other thing is the president made some comments and I've talked to him. He called and apologized for his comments and I'm not going to speak for him. He put out whatever statements or interpretations that he needed to. We have always believed that this is truly an academic University. I was here for eight years before, as you all know, and I think the one thing you know being a former player and a coach is you only play so long and that's what this degree, a Michigan degree, is all about. And being the truly academic institution that it is, that degree will last forever so we take it very seriously. We try and recruit the best football players, the best student-athletes, and people that fit the blueprint here at Michigan. It's not for everybody because it is demanding and that's the way it should be.”


You kind of had the incident with Jake Butt. How much is he a work in progress on and off the field in terms of what he can be?

“I think Jake, he – from an athletic standpoint and all those things he continues to get healthier. He's one of those guys who another week, if we continue to do the right things with him… and the double edge sword is the timing of the routes and all that because you do want to rest guys so that they get a little healthier. I think he’s always developing and we are happy with his development.”
Have you seen the jerseys that his family where is when they come to games?
“I have not.”
Papa butt and headbutt and stuff like that. Have you seen him embrace that? He talks about getting teased about his last name.
“Yeah, he gets teased but… he gets teased.”
[After THE JUMP: We are grinders. It is stupid. Also some academic stuff.]

The Invention Of Voting

The Invention Of Voting

Submitted by Brian on November 3rd, 2014 at 10:31 AM

11/1/2014 – Michigan 34, Indiana 10 – 4-5, 2-3 Big Ten


This happened. The end. [Eric Upchurch]

Sometimes there's a game that does not have anything to say about it. This was that game. Michigan won 34-10, the same score they beat Miami (Not That Miami) by, and it felt a lot like a replay of that throwaway nonconference game.

The opposing offense wasn't going anywhere unless Michigan busted something. Michigan's running game alternated between frustrating lack of holes and lanes so open you could drive a truck through. The defensive backs could have spent the entire afternoon reading The Economist and sipping Kermit tea and nothing would have changed. Indiana had eight attempts. This game was almost literally none of their business.

Michigan thudded out to a 17-0 lead with the help of a couple fumbles that somehow benched Tevin Coleman, and then the game was over. Indiana turned a Gardner interception that ended up inside the Michigan ten into a doinked field goal. Thereupon a giant pig descended from the sky to proclaim the game state.


Brady Hoke knew it, so he ran the ball a couple times to end the first half instead of attempting to score.

I knew it, so I wasn't even a tiny bit peeved by that. Devin Gardner had just demonstrated the only way Indiana was going to get back in the game by not quite giftwrapping a pick six. Just before that Gardner had not quite giftwrapped another pick six. Michigan could have run the ball on every remaining down and won, and it was cold and I have to UFR these things. Run that clock down. Fine by me.

Everyone in the crowd knew it, so an awful lot of them left at halftime.


Non-student areas weren't a whole lot better. [Bryan Fuller]

At this point I'm not blaming anyone. It was cold, Michigan is playing for a berth in the kind of bowl where the gift bags include broken Swatches from 1985, and the game was already decided. I stayed because I write these columns and your soapbox is a little higher if you stayed like a True Fan™. I am enjoying the extra centimeter right now. Mighty fine view it's providing.


The game being what it was, about the only thing of interest over the weekend was a smattering of pissy comments from current and former players.

Desmond Howard decried Michigan's "mob mentality" on Gameday. Taylor Lewan called the Daily's Alejandro Zuniga a "moron" after Zuniga's appearance on BTN. Drew Dileo used air quotes around 'loyal' en route to stating that Dave Brandon and Brady Hoke weren't the problem—causing responders to respectfully ask what, then, the problem might be. Elliot Mealer referred to "the muggles that attend the University of Michigan" suddenly knowing something about the athletic department. Shane Morris provided a shout-out to the few students that made it to the end of the game and helpfully informed the ones who didn't that Michigan won.

It's like they went to bed and universal suffrage happened overnight.



A raucous scene, as a bill has just come up for vote. Enter AN ASSORTMENT OF LORDS.


Good heavens, what are they doing?


They seem to be voicing their opinions.


What-ever for?


Say, you, boy: what is all this ruckus?


The bill of attainder is up for vote; these are
final arguments before a decision is made.
Also, I don't think 'boy' is the preferred nomenclature.


You have the vote? What nonsense!


/frantically dips snuff


Disaster! Woe! Surely we will topple like saplings in a typhoon!


How long has… this been going on?


Approximately 600 years?






We assumed you knew.


Our doom is at hand! Flee! I'll die on the squash courts if I can make it!



/regains consciousness




/faints again

Michigan fans always had the vote; never before had they been pressed so hard as to think about using it. When there's an epic wait list you can find another team and the edifice doesn't notice. Not so much anymore.

The ironic thing about all of this is it's actually the students—sorry, "muggles"—leading the way towards positive change. Brandon implements the worst possible version of general admission; Mike Proppe's CSG negotiates a more sensible arrangement that provides better seats to better fans. Brandon blames the new policy for the drop in attendance instead of prices; Bobby Dishell's CSG negotiates a 40% slashing of ticket prices. El-Kilani's petition laid out the case against Brandon concisely and far more authoritatively than any defenses mounted by the House of Lords, which generally amount to "nuh-uh, you don't know."

It is true that we don't know the face Brandon showed to the student-athletes. I do know that one day he got in front of his department and quizzed them as to who their customers were. The answer: "student-athletes." So he probably acted like a human to them.

That's not enough when he is a six-foot phallus to everyone else. You just don't know that unless you're outside the program, looking at a 150-dollar ticket that you could have had for 20 bucks, watching grim quasi-football that means nothing in the freezing cold. Bon Jovi is playing, for some reason.


Here's the thing. This is a large group of people. Every large group of people is basically a bell curve. Michigan has pushed the prices up to the point where they're going to hit the downside of that bell curve without serious change.

That's a disaster that cannot be allowed to happen. Maybe it won't be for the people in the program right now, or the people who have been through it. It is one for the people who are thinking about 30 years from now, who are thinking about what it's going to be like for their kids.

Michigan, the program, can do little to change the group of people. They will remain the same people. They can only change themselves to fit the people. Step one is firing the coach, because the crushing blow to season ticket sales that results from his retention is unacceptable. Also he is not good at coaching.

Step two is not being dicks to people outside the program. I know y'all learned it from Brandon. Unlearn it. The next AD is going to be just as fantastic to increasingly pampered student-athletes without being loathed by everyone else on the planet. The Al Bundy patrol talking down to a fanbase on the edge of deserting in droves is hilariously out of touch. Michigan revenue vs Michigan performance. QED.

It's time to stop interpreting "The Team The Team The Team" as a moat between 115 players and 113,000 fans. 

[After THE JUMP: hawt babes, and why are you trying to be a fey English twit]

Dear Diary is 1183 and We're All Barbarians

Dear Diary is 1183 and We're All Barbarians

Submitted by Seth on October 17th, 2014 at 2:00 PM

SUCH a good movie.

You chivalric fool; as if the way one fell down mattered. On Wednesday this week I had to put our family dog down—he was 14 and been slowing down since we lost my dad, and he had a stroke during the night, and it was sad but undeniably the best way and best time to go. Afterwards I was supposed to collect my daughter, get the roundtable posted, then get to the facility that's trying to get my Mom able to walk again within the impossibly small window her insurance company will pay for it. I didn't want to engage the sympathy choir, nor was I ready to go fixing things or move on. Instead I wandered into a breakfast place and ordered a coffee, and stared at texts of things people say when your heretofore ridiculously fortunate family is going through the mother of all mean regressions.

After a time I struck up a conversation with an older dude who from his Michigan hat I identified with the super Michigan-stickered car outside. He was, of course, a current player's dad, and other than his kid who's the best player in the  entire world, he had a lot to say about the darkness hanging over this program that twinkling lights could only temporarily keep at bay.

He echoed a lot of what another player's brother said in a diary earlier in the week:

The program is in shambles. Bo is not coming back and it's time to move on. The cult like adherence to tradition and "this is Michigan" is the very reason we are plummeting towards rock bottom. We don't need another Bo or another Michigan Man, we need a competent, forward thinking administration who will take advantage of the massive institutional advantages Michigan provides.

The players are acknowledging reality while doing everything they can to make sure there's a team tomorrow. We got a glimpse of this from Gardner's aneurism of leadership

…and another from a letter to the players by their senior punter:

"Play for the guys in your class who you texted the day you committed, and live in the dorms with. Play for the elementary kids back home whom you've never even met, but know who you are and where you play. Play for your high school coaches, the guys you've met at combines, your family, your friends. Finally, play for yourself. Pride in yourself means that, win or lose, you worked and competed as hard as you possibly could until the schedule provided no more games to play."

When the fall is all that is, it matters.

[After the jump, I know. You know I know. I know you know I know. We know Henry knows, and Henry knows we know it. We're a knowledgeable family.]

Unverified Voracity In A Dry Forest

Unverified Voracity In A Dry Forest

Submitted by Brian on October 17th, 2014 at 12:35 PM

Complying with the Norfleet Atomic Dog Act of 2560. What's better than Dennis Norfleet? Dennis Norfleet holding bread!


Regents meeting stuff. Not a whole lot happened other than a couple of students bombing Brandon hard; they did so more professionally than Brandon handled the Shane Morris incident.

Schissel reiterated his disappointment with the way the Shane Morris incident was handled; Andrea Newman publicly supported Brandon (the earliest we can terminate her status as regent is 2018, unfortunately); Mark Bernstein was the guy who sounded like he was talking the most sense:

“The Shane Morris incident, the poor performance of the football team, that’s like a spark in a very, very dry forest. And there’s not a lot of water around right now," Bernstein said. "I think the actions of the athletic department, I believe (some) generally agree, have drained whatever reservoir of goodwill there is with Michigan football in particular. So it makes navigating this issue far more difficult.

“Therefore, it makes this moment much more complex. Is that the fault of the athletic director? Partially. But at the same time, we all care deeply about this university. We care about the student-athletes who are working hard every day at the game they love. We care about our students, our fans, our alums. We want to get this right. And that’s why it’s essential that the board support the president’s deliberative, methodical approach to this to figure out the best course of action.”

He offered a no comment when asked whether he supports Brandon, which is as close as you'll get to a "hell no" in this situation.

Yes, it is incredibly frustrating that the wheels are turning so slowly here—this is a situation in which Michigan is likely to be searching for the most important employee in the department in six weeks, with an ideal candidate probably available. If Michigan can't take its shot at Harbaugh because Brandon's not quite on the cart you'll hear the million-strong facepalm across the state. 

The impression the meeting left was still bad for the AD. Baumgardner:

There's no hiding it any longer. Thursday's meeting was standing-room only. Every major media outlet in the state was represented, most brought more than one person. And most left with one clear thought in their mind.

Brandon's future at Michigan appears to be in real jeopardy.

Thursday's meeting was a public, formal airing of grievances about the environment that's been created around Michigan's athletic department, and it left no stone unturned.

This wasn't just about the handling of the Shane Morris injury, or the athletic department's public relations debacle that soon followed. It wasn't just about the variety of stunts -- from skywriters to fireworks to ticket prices -- pulled by this department. It wasn't just about the lack of communication internally and externally. And it wasn't just about the fact that the sense of community -- and culture -- surrounding Michigan athletics appears to be on life support.

It was about all of it.


For the record, any buyout of Brandon's guaranteed contract likely will cost $3 million or so, not including the refreshments or confetti. But any concerns about backlash from major donors might have been assuaged by last weekend's alumni gatherings surrounding the Penn State game.

Brandon was noticeably absent as Stephen Ross, the real-estate magnate whose $200-million donation to the university last fall included $100 million earmarked for a new athletic campus, took part in a question-and-answer session with university president Mark Schlissel, who reiterated his "disappointment" in the way the Morris situation was handled.

I got a report from this meeting in which it felt like Brandon was not going to make it, FWIW.

After the regent's meeting, Brandon released a statement about how he looked forward to "repairing" his relationship with the students and announced a significant cut in ticket prices.

He also said the was looking forward to going for a walk and felt "happy."

Stitt happened. I did not live tweet the Colorado School of Mines game because I don't get CBS Sports. /shakes fist at UVerse.

bPL4Exy[1]But it went well, as Bob Stitt kind of hilariously took on a team coached by John L Smith:

Mines played Fort Lewis, John L. Smith's team. Smith's Skyhawks had just ended Colorado State-Pueblo's 42-game regular season winning streak, but they had no answers whatsoever for the Mines attack. The Orediggers gained 662 yards, scored touchdowns on each of the first four possessions, and cruised to a 56-14 win. Fort Lewis probably should have scheduled Homecoming for last week.

The Orediggers are 7-0, and oh my I have to sit down

"I treat fourth-down conversions as a turnover," Stitt told me in 2012. "We were 58 percent on fourth down [in 2012], went for 36 of them. Our opponents went for 18. We’re a lot higher percentage than 58 when it’s fourth-and-5 or less. I’ll even go for it on fourth-and-8 when it’s a situation where we’re on the 50 or their 40.

"That’s a turnover! If you get it, it’s like the defense just got you the ball on their 50-yard line. We’ve got to be able to have confidence as an offense that -– hey, when we get around the 50, Coach is gonna go for it – and the defense has to have it in their head that, hey, they’re gonna go for it, and if they don’t get it, we have to get excited and make sure the opponent doesn’t get points out of it."

Once you get past the Harbaugh/Mullen tier it gets very thin very quickly this year and a lot of the guys you'd take a poke at afterwards seem like they would be hard to get—lot of dudes with good job security at their alma mater. So… yeah. Bob Stitt.

(Yes, that is Kevin Sumlin.)

Chance of any chance. Hoke's return by the numerical projections:


In other words


(Although this is pessimistic now that Indiana is apparently starting a Pokemon named Zander Diamont at QB.)

That's not actually good. One of the good things about Brandon cited in an ESPN article:

The football troubles outweighed the building upgrades that Hamilton oversaw while taking Tennessee's athletic department from a $750,000 deficit to a $9 million surplus in his time at its helm. They outweigh the two top-10 finishes in the Directors' Cup, which measures a school's success in all varsity sports.

Michigan also has been in the Directors' Cup top 10 twice under Brandon and made a trip to the men's Final Four

Michigan finished in the top five every year from 1999 to 2009.

All you need to know about the last couple of years in hockey. I mean:

Everyone finishes the lift, heads to the ice through a locker room, one with a complete makeover from the last season. Gone is the sign that said, “Win the next game.” It’s been replaced with key words such as “Unity” and “Respect.”

I'm not a big chemistry guy when looking for explanations as to why things go wrong, but I make an exception in this case.

That would be nice. Hockey megaprospect Auston Matthews is "50/50" between college and the OHL:

Don Granato, the U18s' head coach, says he's "leaning" to college, FWIW.

Mathews, like Zach Werenski, Jack Eichel, and Noah Hanifin, would have to accelerate an entire year of school to arrive on campus next fall. Like BU super-recruit Eichel, Matthews is playing with the U18s despite his young age.

Interesting dynamic here: the NCAA's new autonomy push should give the Big Ten schools an edge against smaller conferences and the OHL. A couple weeks ago the league announced a raft of benefits including full cost of attendance scholarships and a "lifetime educational commitment" that stands in stark contrast to the OHL's current policy, in which playing pro hockey on any level for more than a year makes your scholarship package evaporate.

Meanwhile a school like BU is big time in hockey but in conferences that are not going to follow suit; the OHL will also have to step up its game to maintain its level of attractiveness.

HELLO ANN ARBOR. Ennui levels reaching critical.

Etc.: Brian Phillips on Landon Donovan is an auto-link. Bye week means it's Ufer time. Michigan has a very pretty story on Willis Ward. The plight of the long snapper.

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


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.



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.



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.


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.


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:


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.



Submitted by Brian on October 14th, 2014 at 12:07 PM

So this happened.

We need a Holtz/Norfleet mashup.

Penn State fans: aim before firing. See, this is a fanbase that's overreacting:

Year one, sanctions finally biting deeply, coach made Vanderbilt competitive. Let's stone him!

We are fulfilling our responsibilities as an internet website under provision 6 of the Norfleet Atomic Dog Act of 2560. Via Melissa Storch:

We misattributed the source of the Norfleet GIF in One Frame At A Time; this is the original.

INJURIES. Michigan has an implausible number of them. Remember when we thought Hoke was lucky? Funny thing about that. Water finds its level. Gardner was in a boot after the PSU game, but that seems like a precaution more than anything since the guy was on the field. He's got a well-timed bye to rest up before… another bye? Let's go with that.

Speaking of injuries, we have confirmation that Gardner was playing on a broken toe last year:

"Devin's leadership has been outstanding," Hoke said Saturday night. "He played a year ago with a broken toe for half the game (against Ohio State). You know he's got a toughness to him.

Everyone knew this; Michigan insisted on pretending otherwise.

Well played, headline guy? He didn't say the thing that is implied here:

Brady Hoke asked about being at Michigan in 2015, says he's not focused on that

"I'm focused on Heartstone, mostly."

Let's hire the guy who never punts! Barking Carnival has a two-part piece on Arkansas high school coach Kevin Kelley—you know, the guy who always goes for it and always onside kicks:

Kelley prepares the players for chaos.  Pulaski lives in created chaos - their job is to inoculate their players to its effects and let the other team drown in it.  That's what the conventional analysis of Kelley's approach doesn't understand - the Pulaski defense fully EXPECTS that they're going on the field with the opponent inside their territory several times in a game.  It's how they play.  Your panic is their comfort zone.  It's just another day at the office. …

Their guys are mentally tougher than yours because they always play in the fringes of chaos - they're experts in weirdness.  You're playing weird just one week.  They're veterans of weird outcomes and know that leads with time on the clock either way mean nothing.  Just keep playing.

We probably shouldn't hire the guy who never punts. But Kelley is an interesting guy who questions the basic assumptions of football in the same way Beilein did coming up what with his 1-3-1 zone and ALL OF THE SHOOTERS lineups. The burgeoning conventional wisdom that you should strive to shoot threes and layups and nothing else was the moneyball that got Beilein to the top of the ladder and there are guys out there who are doing the same in football now. We just don't know which thing is the thing.

Michigan should be looking for the most interesting plausible mind.

So here's Dan Mullen doing things. Mississippi State has a 6'5" linebacker headed for the early rounds of the NFL draft. How did that happen? Via the Caris LeVert method:

But then, to hear his coach tell it, McKinney’s emergence from obscurity had nothing to with odds, gambling, or catching lightning in a bottle. To Mullen, it’s all in a day’s work. “I don’t look at where they are today. My mind is, ‘Where are they going to be three years from now?’” Mullen told me. “Here’s a 6-foot-3, 210-pound high school quarterback who hasn’t played a lot of linebacker. But you talk to him and you realize he has toughness. And he can run. And you get him in the weight room, and he grows an inch and a half — which you can’t control — and he becomes a 250-pound athletic linebacker who can play at the next level.” …

“I’ll tell a kid sometimes, if he’s not rated very highly [by the recruiting services], ‘Hey, we have you rated higher than that,’” Mullen said. “If he’s got two stars beside his name, that’s even better. Because in my evaluation, he’s not that player.”

Mississippi State has systematically found guys who exceed expectations in the same way John Beilein has, and he's deployed them to maximum effectiveness. There hasn't been anything fluky about Mississippi State's rise, and that's why anyone with a job opening will be blowing up his agent's phone for the next couple months.

The NFL does not exist. That's the approach Michigan should be taking here. When Penn State grabbed Bill O'Brien, Brian Bennett wrote up a piece on guys who had made the NFL-to-college leap. I'm going to cut out everything and just list the names in the article:

  • Bill O'Brien
  • Charlie Weis
  • Ron Turner
  • Bill Callahan
  • Tim Brewster
  • Kirk Ferentz
  • Al Groh
  • Pat Hill
  • Pete Carroll
  • Mike Sherman
  • Dave Wannstedt

So you've got Carroll, who is in the 99th percentile of hey dude energy, Kirk Ferentz, a guy who went back to the NFL after two years, and fail fail fail fail fail. Oh and Pat Hill, who had a good run at Fresno.

The best coaches in college football are all college guys. The NFL does not exist.

Mullen speculation will be constant. Spencer Hall thinks that there might be a bit of a rift between Mullen and Florida AD Not Dave Brandon:

WE THINK DAN WOULD BE FINE BUT DOESN'T REALLY GET ALONG WITH FOLEY REPORTEDLY DOT COM. It's a nice idea to want Dan Mullen as Florida's head coach, but there are a few problems with this. Like for instance--

--fine, fine, just get the damn checkbook and paperwork. Get it now. YOU GO RUN AND GET THAT DAMN CHECKBOOK RIGHT NOW, FOLEY.

So there's that.

LeVert, profiled. DX scouting report:

If I was a college coach I'd have the "weaknesses" music on cue to blast whenever one of my stars lived up to one.

Furman, ascendant. Remember Josh Furman bolting for Oklahoma State in the offseason? Not really, because he seemed like a meh player? Well:

How’s this for help: Furman, with a fifth sack Saturday, through six games has more sacks than any Cowboy’s produced in a season since 2011. He forced a fumble to go with his pick against Kansas, adding just another solid performance to his building resume that would put him on a short list of contenders for OSU Most Valuable Player at the midway point.

“Yeah, I’d hate to think where we’d be without him,” Spencer said.

He is a "star" linebacker akin to the S/LB hybrids OSU rolls out on the regular; think a senior version of Stevie Brown.

Insert Balotelli WHY ALWAYS ME shirt here. Jon Chait (no polo) on football's concussion/health panic:

he same organization cited by Time found that, over a 30-year period, football is not a uniquely deadly sport for high-school athletes. It is not even the deadliest sport. High-school football has a fatality rate of 0.83 per 100,000 participants. This is actually lower than the rates of boys’ basketball (0.92), lacrosse (1.00), boys’ gymnastics (1.00), and water polo (1.3). There were three heartbreaking deaths of high-school football players last week, each of which attracted wide media coverage the way that tragic low-frequency events often do. But the unusual cluster of unfortunate deaths does not indicate a broader trend any more than the crash of an airliner signals an increasing danger associated with air travel.

Chait also follows up with a response to a guy who is a crusader against barbarism.

It might be more maize? Usual disclaimers about photo coloring apply but MVictors caught a reshoot of Devin Funchess on the program cover that strongly implies that Michigan has moved away from the highlighter yellow this year:

Since cover shots for the game programs of the players were shot before the season, they had to re-shoot Funchess in the #1 jersey:Photo Oct 11, 9 37 03 PM

Two things:
1. Notice Funchess has the 2014 helmet with the block M nosebumper.
2. Notice the striking difference in maize tone in the wings that was cited earlier this season between the 2014 and 2013 helmets.

And  while we’re on the topic of game programs…again—I wish they’d get creative here—do somethingbeyond just players standing there posing!

Those are likely to be in controlled conditions so I think it's for real. Small mercies.

The mood from an outsider's view. Excellent Michigan blog with bizarre color scheme Eleven Warriors had a correspondent take in the threatening-cow-rubbing affair on Saturday. The pulse:

Michigan is not broken, nor is it going anywhere at any point in the near future. Though the current caretakers aren't living up to the high standards heaped upon them, the likelihood of the program as a whole sliding toward eternal mediocrity is unlikely. With hundreds of thousands of living alumni, the tradition of "Michigan" is bigger than any one person.

I'm considering a piece about the "lack of local fan support," per Gameday, and the finger-wagging about how Michigan fans need to get behind the program. We're behind it; we're just thinking about more than the next few game.

Etc.: Get The Picture with a magnificent takedown of the NCAA over the Gurley affair. Speaking of, this guy should move to Canada.

Rick Pitino says Louisville is at a disadvantage recruiting because they're an Adidas school. SBN CEO Jim Bankoff talking media stuff is worth a read. Nerds are being adopted by hockey. Defense every snap.

Michigan's run by a guy who only sees the next spreadsheet.

Monday Presser 10-6-14: Players

Monday Presser 10-6-14: Players

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on October 8th, 2014 at 8:59 AM

players 10-6

Dennis Norfleet, Frank Clark, Jack Miller


Frank, obviously that wasn’t what your defense wanted [with] the third down struggles, the passing yards and stuff. What do you identify as the single biggest reason for all that?

FC: “Just poor execution. As a defense one thing you’ve got to do and you take pride in is stopping the run first and foremost, and then getting off the field on third down and that’s something that we failed to do this past Saturday. All we can do from this point on is continue to progress and get better as far as those situations, those third-and-longs, third-and-shorts even and come out next week- this week, actually, and make a difference.”

One of those was yours before the half. Can you take us through that?

FC: “Just failed execution. It was a pretty obvious play. I should have made the play, but that play is over with and I move forward from it. I think I’ve beat myself up enough over it. Like I said, that’s just one of those plays I should have made. I tell myself all the time- I’d say 99% of the time I would have made that play. That was that 1% that I didn’t.”


Jack, you guys talk about blocking things out and not hearing the outside, but what would it mean to the guys on this team to have a crowd that is pretty packed and whipped up for a night game here?

JM: “It’d be awesome, and that’s what we’re hoping happens. There’s no place like the Big House when it gets rocking, and we’re really looking forward to coming home for the first night game in the Big Ten here and all that stuff and having a fun night. So we’re looking forward to the support from the fans and the students and hopefully they can give us an extra edge to get a W out there.”

[More after THE JUMP]

One Frame At A Time: Rutgers

One Frame At A Time: Rutgers

Submitted by Ace on October 7th, 2014 at 2:01 PM

You might think downing a slow-rolling punt on the opponent's 11-yard line isn't much to celebrate, but that is why you are you and Dennis Norfleet is the best.

In case there was any doubt as to who won this week's otherwise-barren GIFs post, the BTN knew enough to put a camera on Norfleet before a Rutgers kickoff:

The adidas "what if we made one finger different?" gloves make this look a bit more obscene than I think was intended. Regardless, infinite eligibility for Norfleet, please—this, sadly didn't make it to the broadcast:

Infinite, I say, and I'll stand for nothing less.

[Hit THE JUMP for a couple sacks, a couple Devin Gardner TD runs, a catch and two steps and C'MON REFS, and more.]

Unverified Voracity Requires Purchase Of Coke

Unverified Voracity Requires Purchase Of Coke

Submitted by Brian on September 24th, 2014 at 12:06 PM

COKEAGGEDDON. Well, it happened, and they quickly ran out of tickets, and the athletic department said that shouldn't have happened like a robot programmed to impersonate a human, and now it's over. The robot bit:

Coke is a great partner of ours and had purchased a limited block of tickets for the Minnesota game for a Coke retail activation aimed at Michigan students.

What I would give for an athletic department that responded to things like this without resorting to the nonsense phrase "retail activation." The program was "pulled immediately" after the Union had already run out, ie, not pulled. There's the silver lining: Michigan tickets are still worth more than two dollars.

As per usual when these things happen, the cover-up is worse than the crime. The pattern: Michigan does something stupid or embarrassing or annoying or all three. People laugh or complain about it. Michigan releases a mendacious statement that blames someone else for the screw up, wonders why everyone is making a big deal about it, and says it was never their intent for stupid/embarrassing/annoying thing to happen. Two months later, repeat the process.

The list is getting long: running out of water after banning outside bottles because terrorists, Allstate field goal nets, enormous macaroni sculpture, seat cushions, sky-writing over Spartan Stadium, telling people they got a discount on their hockey season tickets when really they moved a Michigan State game to Chicago, and Cokeaggeddon. Nobody apologized for "In The Big House," but they damn well should have.

I would prefer an athletic department that knew enough about how thing were going to look to a persnickety fanbase to not have issues like this on the regular. I would even more strongly prefer a department that didn't go "nuh-uh" when people called them on their crap.

Backhanded compliment battle royal. Man are people saying some things about Hoke these days that they mean to be nice but come off not so nice. Mark Dantonio:

Dantonio followed that up by responding "I have empathy for people" when some reporter asked him if he had empathy for what's going on at Michigan. If our athletic department is going to be a robot can it be a Dantonio-style killer robot at least?



/hail of gunfire

And then Dennis Norfleet was getting his coach's back when this came out and got on the internet the wrong way:

I know he didn't mean it like that but it's hard not to read it like that, you know?

Shades of the late RR period. Old pissed-off alums are coming out of the woodwork to yell on the talk radio. Former Bo QB Michael Taylor is up:

"Michigan football is not going in the right direction," said Taylor, who played for UM from 1987-89. "The leadership is bad. There are many more issues on and off the field than I care to talk about. It's sad." …

"What we've become is a propaganda football team, telling people how great we are when we're mediocre," he said.

Taylor has had an axe to grind for a while, FWIW. Hard to disagree with the last bit even so.

While Taylor's naplam job was widely reported the News is the only outlet I've seen that noted anything about Jon Jansen's immediately subsequent appearance. Jansen is on some sort of former players' committee, and says this about Taylor's complaint that players are being told to buy tickets if they want anything more than two per season (as in two tickets, total):

"It may not be the answer they're looking for, but we have started the process of getting a policy together for how many tickets you can get, how you get them, sideline passes," Jansen said. "That's the biggest thing — guys want to be able to come back."

IIRC, Taylor's beef with Brandon started when he further restricted tickets for former lettermen. It's not about "getting a policy" together. There is a policy. As per usual it prefers nickel and diming everyone to creating long-term allies.

More bloviation. Get ready for two and a half months of HARBAUGH HARBAUGH HARBAUGH posts that don't have much of anything behind them. PFT takes the lead:

…the speculation has been ongoing regarding the future of 49ers coach (and former Michigan quarterback) Jim Harbaugh for a while.  Mired in a contractual impasse that has been tabled until after the season, any college or program now knows that Harbaugh is in play for a jump to a new job come 2015.  With the 49ers already mired in a disappointing, stressful year, that jump could be more likely.

This gets everyone hot and bothered while not having a single quote or even a single assertion that a hot source told him something. Throw it on the bloviation pile. And reinforce the floor under that pile. It's about to get stressed.

The cycle is intact. Football team is bad at football. People say football team is bad at football. People say maybe football team would be better at football if this coach who seems to have a lot of bad football teams was no longer the coach. Media incessantly hammers coach and players at every media opportunity about The Critics, leading to people Taking A Stand Against The Critics and articles describing that event. Dennis Norfleet just did so.

If anyone thinks the massive public criticism being hurled at Brady Hoke on a now daily basis doesn't make its way into the ears of Michigan's players from time to time, then Dennis Norfleet has a message for you.

It does.

And they're pretty pissed about it.

Okay. I don't expect this conversation to go any other way, because Hoke has his team behind him and they would run through the proverbial wall for him, etc. I just don't see why anyone should care. It's all talk. Weren't we all like "I'm done with talk, show me" this offseason? We have been shown some things. Now there is talk about how bad the team is, and if you are mad at people talking about how bad Michigan football is currently I don't know what to tell you.

This is just not realistic:

"Even if we lose. If we lose, if you're a Michigan fan you're supposed to be with us 100 percent to pick us up. We need our fans just as much as we need a win. So, yes, it hurts. It hurts a lot."

It is impossible to control the emotional impulses of large groups of people, and fans are in this for themselves. They like the players, they want the players to succeed, they generally refrain from harsh personal criticism of the players. They are there to feel something, however, and when the only thing they feel is certainty Michigan is not going to make up yet another double-digit deficit they're going to talk about replacing the coach. Because that is the logical thing to do if your goals for a football team involve having a nice time with it.

That's the fundamental disconnect between fans and players and we can stop talking like any of these people have to have the same motivations. Or not, I suppose, because journalists are in this for themselves.

We're confusing to computers. Michigan has outgained every opponent en route to a 2-2 record with two blowout losses. The play-based ranking systems are having a bit of a conniption fit as a result:

Computer rankings after four weeks are never accurate but drive systems do take a lot more data than the final score into account and should be a bit more reliable as a result. It's just that sometimes not taking the final score into account particularly heavily is… unwise. Connelly on that:

On a per-play basis (in a system that counts turnovers simply as non-successes until drive data is factored in after seven weeks), they are good enough to rank 19th in the country, just one spot behind a team that beat them by 31 points and 11 spots ahead of a team that beat them by 16. But in ways similar to 2011 Texas A&M and 2011 Notre Dame, they're figuring out ways to make their failures count double, and it seems they (and their fans) know the failures are coming before they happen.

Seven of the next eight conference games are winnable, and eight are losable. We'll see if Hoke can figure out how to turn promise into reality, or if, like Texas A&M in 2011, it will take a new coach and a new quarterback to translate decent stats into good results.

He notes three teams with similar profiles to Michigan to date: 2011 versions of Notre Dame and Texas A&M and 2012 Michigan State.

Connelly and Brian Fremeau combine their ratings for something called F+ that is considerably more skeptical but still insufficiently so from the human observer's viewpoint. F+ has Michigan 32nd. Connelly used that to metric to project the Big Ten race and came up with this amazing possibility:

Record West Winner East Winner
4-4 23.2% 0.0%
5-3 14.3% 47.5%
6-2 13.8% 12.3%
7-1 11.0% 7.9%
8-0 37.7% 32.4%

There is a one in four chance that your Big Ten West winner is .500 in the conference. I think we can all agree that this annus miserabilis will be totally worth it if that happens.

As far as Michigan goes, he ran a bunch of simulations with his numbers and came out with an approximately 60% chance Michigan goes 4-4 in the league and 20% chances they go 5-3 or 6-2. Again, early season computer numbers so take lightly—suffice it to say computers are not feeling real good about Hoke's job prospects.

The wounded. Minnesota's Mitch Leidner still questionable for Saturday, "all indications" that Michigan will get the Gopher backup who completed one pass against SJSU. Maxxxxxxxx Williams is also doubtful with something or other. Against that Michigan puts up Jarrod Wilson and Raymon Taylor, who dressed but did not play against Utah, Delano Hill, who left before halftime with a boo boo, and an obviously still gimpy Devin Funchess. Funchess FWIW:

"I got a little dinged up, I had to make sure everything was OK, and I just had to fight through it," Funchess said Tuesday. "I knew it was painful (that day), and it'll (probably) be painful the rest of the season.

"You're never going to go through a season and stay 100 percent (the whole way) ... I'm healthy enough to play."

Sort of. His effort on blocks is not so good.

Etc.: Hinton on Gardner. Hoke isn't going to name a QB starter after all.