I'm A Bitter Man, I Know, But Listen Honey You're No Fun

I'm A Bitter Man, I Know, But Listen Honey You're No Fun

Submitted by Brian on December 30th, 2013 at 11:56 AM

12/28/2013 – Michigan 14, Kansas State 31 – 7-6, 3-5 Big Ten, season mercifully over

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we are desperate lonely and underpaid [Adam Glanzman]

If you were disinterested in a December bowl game that kicked off at 10:15 PM, don't feel bad about it. You are far from alone. Frank Clark:

"I think a lot of guys lost the will to play as a family. That's one thing you can't do in football. In football, you've got to stick in there and stay together as a family.

James Ross:

"It was our mindset from the jump, we weren't totally into it I would say. We didn't come out with a lot of energy."

For their part, the coaches didn't bother to go into the hurry-up down 18 points with 8 minutes left. As far as unconvincing attempts to look interested go, the fan is on level footing with the rest of the program.

The coaches did go up-tempo once it was 31-6, mysteriously. You've already given up. No one is going to feel better about losing by three scores to a 7-5 Big 12 team instead of four. I guess you have to send the message that You Never Give Up despite having already given up. That's the kind of program this is. We Never Give Up (we gave up).

That's as indicative of the current state of the Michigan football program as anything. Fail to live up to expectations, try to make it look good with meaningless hand-waving after things are decided. Michigan is just six… eight… sixteen… okay, thirty-five plays away from a really good season, you know, and Lloyd Carr's seniors are about to ride to the rescue.

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I guess it's good that Michigan conceded from the drop that they could not run the ball whatsoever, because they were right about that. Eight tailback carries on the night, and three of those were option pitches. Michigan did not repeat their mistakes from the Penn State game.

Unfortunately, while they've learned what they cannot do they have not learned to do anything. Kansas State gave up 301 rushing yards to Oklahoma on the second to last weekend of the regular season; Michigan stared that front seven down and said "no thanks, we like end-arounds."

The most frustrating thing about this season is that any hint of progress is quickly stomped out. Michigan has a human run game against Northwestern, then gets obliterated by Iowa; they are once again human against Ohio State, then correctly assume they are helpless against Kansas State.

Meanwhile, the defense is so incompetent against a modern packaged offense that Kansas State essentially ends the game by the second quarter. Michigan had zero answers for a play that Rich Rodriguez pioneered at this very university. Here we are, talking a big game about how This Is Michigan and playing football like it's 1989, the last time This Is Michigan actually meant This Is A Consistently Elite Football Program.

Bo hovers over the program with speeches about the team the team the team, but his penchant for running quarterbacks and option football and running the damn ball has been discarded in favor of notions about a "pro style" offense that reflects the modern-day NFL in no way whatsoever. Chip Kelly's taking a team that was 4-12 last year to the playoffs with Nick Foles as his quarterback. QED.

At the beginning of the year I wondered aloud if Michigan was going to end up on the wrong side of history here, what with their failed attempt to move to the spread traumatizing them so much that they'd mutter something about Denard Robinson holding the offense back from its true form, which is apparently lots and lots of end arounds with two tackles next to each other. And sacks. Michigan's base play this year was a tackle for loss. This was our innovation.

I like the thing where the quarterback pulls up to throw late better.

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It'll get better. I mean, you'd think so. I know that's what everyone said about the offensive line this year. But we've detailed the various ways in which the previous coaching staff decimated this roster on both lines and the fact that Hoke has collected and retained a lot of guys who will be maturing over the next couple years. Michigan won't be ripping the redshirt off an offensive lineman midseason again.

But at some point I realized that the only thing that resembled what football used to be—fun—came when Dennis Norfleet grabbed the ball on kick returns and once when he took an end-around. He juked a guy and got nine yards and I felt a little flutter. Then the grim trudge resumed.

Maybe the reason I hold onto Denard so hard is because he's about 90% of the fun that Michigan football has provided since Bo died. As this season descended into a lifeless backwards march, I kept thinking about my uncle's exclamation during the 2008 Fandom Endurance III Northwestern game: "We do this for fun!" We did even then. There was a perverse joy in our abject stupidity. Five years on, all the diamonds have been sifted from that ash. We do this out of momentum now.

Awards

brady-hoke-epic-double-point_thumb_31[2]Brady Hoke Epic Double Point Of The Week. Obviously no one on the defense can acquire this, as the defense was completely disassembled. The offense… barely scraped over 200 yards thanks to a Shane Morris QB draw that went for 40. Jesus. Uh.

Well, Jeremy Gallon did break the single-season receiving record and is a cool dude, so Jeremy Gallon.

Honorable mention: Shane Morris?

Epic Double Point Standings.

3.0: Jeremy Gallon (ND, Indiana, K-State)
2.0: Devin Gardner(ND, OSU)
1.0: Desmond Morgan(UConn), Devin Funchess(Minnesota), Frank Clark(PSU), Matt Wile (Nebraska), James Ross (Northwestern)
0.5: Cam Gordon (CMU), Brennen Beyer (CMU)

Brady Hoke Epic Double Fist-Pump Of The Week. Nope.

Epic Double Fist-Pumps Past.

8/31/2013: Dymonte Thomas introduces himself by blocking a punt.
9/7/2013: Jeremy Gallon spins through four Notre Dame defenders for a 61-yard touchdown.
9/14/2013: Michigan does not lose to Akron. Thanks, Thomas Gordon.
9/21/2013: Desmond Morgan's leaping one-handed spear INT saves Michigan's bacon against UConn.
10/5/2013: Fitzgerald Toussaint runs for ten yards, gets touchdown rather easily.
10/12/2013: Devin Funchess shoots up the middle of the field to catch a 40 yard touchdown, staking Michigan to a ten-point lead they wouldn't relinquish. (Right?)
10/19/2013: Thomas Gordon picks off an Indiana pass to end the Hoosiers' last drive that could have taken the lead.
11/2/2013: Clock expires.
11/9/2013: Nebraska muffs a punt through no action of Michigan's.
11/16/2013: Michigan executes a clock-running last-second field goal to get the game to OT.
11/23/2013: 404 file not found
11/30/2013: Michigan forces a Hyde fumble to get back in the game.

imageMARCUS HALL EPIC DOUBLE BIRD OF THE WEEK. Michigan, down 31-12 with two minutes or so left, runs a two-point conversion that features Jeremy Gallon taking an end around and throwing the ball to a wide open dude for the score.

First of all, you gave up already. Screw you and your two point conversion. Second, every Ohio State fan on twitter instantly said something along the lines of "oh wow that totally would have worked against us." I don't think it's possible to be more disgusted with a successful two point conversion.

[AFTER THE JUMP: stuff.]

Offense

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Glanzman

Welp. There's not much you can do when your QB is a freshman who is liable to put the ball in a defender's chest twice consecutively when you finally do have to open things up far, far too late and your tailbacks rush eight times for 16 yards. Borges did the things he could do, implementing a screen and edge-rush attack that saw Michigan mount actual drives on their first two possessions.

Unfortunately, you can only run constraints for so long before they start getting obliterated, and once the scripted fancy new stuff was over so was the offense. The game was over once Michigan could not punch the ball in on either of their first two possessions and then punted once; down 21-6 without a prayer of a non-gimmicky offense, it was over. Gameplan took Michigan their first 120 yards, and then they had no more. On an individual game level, you can't expect much more from your offensive coordinator.

That Michigan went into this bowl game utterly convinced they could not run the ball conventionally against a not particularly good run defense is a huge failing that you can spread out to at least three different people: Rodriguez, Funk, and Borges. Rodriguez for the roster, Funk for being the position coach, and Borges for treating this rag-tag assemblage of walk-ons and freshmen like they're the Denver Broncos and expecting they could handle every run concept ever expressed by man as they were being bounced around like gas molecules.

Statistical complaint #341. It's inane that those touch passes forward that are essentially handoffs get filed as passes. Jeremy Gallon's probably happy that is the case since without those he probably does not pass Braylon Edwards for the single-season receiving record; everybody else should be shaking their fist at the NCAA scorer in the sky in a futile attempt to get stats that make sense. Scorers should be able to judge whether a play is a run or pass and credit accordingly.

One step forward, one step back. Michigan's approach to this game was mentioned above, but to reiterate: despite being forced to start a freshman quarterback Michigan assumed they were totally incapable of moving the ball on the ground. And they were.

I have no idea how this line improves enough next year for Michigan to be able to do anything after losing both tackles, who are going to be on NFL rosters next year. They can be better, but like the radioactive situation Rodriguez walked into the reclamation project here is a two-year job. (Yes, thanks in large part to Rodriguez.) Next year's line has no seniors and one junior.

God willing, Michigan goes into spring practice focused on getting this unit competent at one base running play instead of three and does not try a blizzard of different combinations during the season. That might be enough to make their running game bad. Anything more is in the realm of the fantastical.

Morris eval. Could have been worse. Hosing hoser hoses, which mitigates some freshman issues since he can rifle the ball late and not get punished because the thing gets there so fast. Has accuracy issues caused by firing every ball a hundred miles an hour and predictably put two balls in K-State defenders' chests late when Michigan was forced to try to go downfield; overall an encouraging debut. Morris's wheels are a surprising asset, as well. He is not Gardner; neither is he Navarre. He could be a Connor Shaw type QB who takes the occasional carry to mess with defenses. (Hypothetically.)

QB controversy? No. The training wheels were obvious and once taken off the punishment was immediate. Given what we've heard about practice he has Gardner's INT issues except worse, and as long as both guys improve at the same rate Gardner will still be well ahead.

Defense

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Glanzman

That was a total disaster. The season as a whole was a macrocosm of the defense in each game: pretty good for most of it, gives up one WTF touchdown midway through (Indiana), and then collapses in a heap at the end. Kansas State has an underrated offense but even so, this drive chart…

  1. 75 yard TD
  2. 60 yard TD
  3. 59 yard TD
  4. 59 yard FG miss
  5. 33 yard drive ending in fumble one play after Tyler Lockett dropped a touchdown
  6. 60 yard FG drive
  7. 39 yards, punt
  8. 7 yard TD drive
  9. EOG

…is a total and comprehensive failure. Michigan did not force a punt until there were 7 minutes left in the game and things were over. This follows a game in which Michigan gave up 393 rushing yards to OSU.

Now instead of having one solid unit that can expect to take another step forward as they age, Michigan has question marks everywhere. Mattison's reputation as salvager and hero took enormous hits over these last two games. Hooray.

Exposed. Tyler Lockett is an incredible player who was checked by essentially nobody this year; it seems like KSU decided they were going with Waters late mostly because he takes best advantage of a guy who is probably the best WR in the country. Any ideas that Blake Countess is in that league as a defensive back are now bleeding out in the gutter after Lockett ghosted in and out of Michigan's defensive backfield all night, knives at the ready.

While Raymon Taylor struggled equally, Taylor had been targeted all year and we had some grasp of how good he was already: decent, but not Lockett good. Countess had largely been avoided and made a lot of interceptions when not avoided; this was a comedown in hype and expectation level on par with that Mattison suffered.

Spread and shred. The most brutal event of the night was K-State busting a fullback up the seam for 40 yards on a version of QB Oh Noes that put Desmond Morgan in a bind: defend the QB draw or cover the fullback. With Waters not a huge threat on the ground, the answer was "cover the fullback fergodsakes"; either way the Wildcats were about to get a good chunk of yards. Morgan acted like it was a run and Kansas State was on their way to their third touchdown.

In the aftermath…

…that was my exact thought, too. K-State just looked hard to defend in ways that Michigan is not. A lot of people were griping about Michigan's decision not to double Lockett, but when you're going up against a defense that uses the QB's legs in a way that demands attention you find yourself with limited options unless you can win certain one on one battles. Michigan could not, and as in the Ohio State game once that was the case it was over. There is no hiding weak spots against these spread to run attacks, and against Tyler Lockett every member of the secondary is a weak spot.

About that line. Dominated again. Zero pass rush and after some nice stops on the first drive, K-State had a quality day on the ground. Michigan spent much of the day stunting defensive ends into double teams, and those ended up with Clark and Ojemudia and Beyer on their back as dudes darted by.

I will never understand the insane deployment of Quinton Washington this year; we're now deep into Announce Everyone Was Injured All Year time and there hasn't been a peep about Washington, who was a quality starter all last year and spent most of this one on the bench. Without him and Pipkins, this outfit was just too light to hope to hold up. Other than Willie Henry, who is a freshman who needs some technique work badly, the rest of the line is Black, Beyer, and Clark: defensive ends all.

Things should get better next year, at least, with great piles of returning players and Pipkins hopefully coming back from his ACL tear. Much rests on him. I mean, much rests on him for a team that projects to finish third in their division.

Here

Inside The Boxscore:

* Spielman said something about how he asked Mattison who his best defender was this year, and the first thing out of Mattison's mouth was "Frank Clark." Against Ohio State, Frank Clark had one tackle. Against Kansas State, Frank Clark had one tackle. When your best defender is averaging 1 tackle per game in his last two, something is wrong.

* As Ace pointed out, our two leading rushers were our QB and Tight End. Our running backs should be made to watch how K-State's little Hubert ran. I get it that the offensive line generated zero push, but eventually someone has to break a tackle or make someone miss. Our 4 RBs combined for 8 carries and 13 yards. Our offense was slightly better in not giving up so many TFLs, but that's because we rarely had the ball. K-State had 5 TFLs for a total of 13 yards lost. Hey, I'm looking for positives, no matter how small.

Best And Worst:

Worst:  The Coordinators

I’ll admit to being a bigger fan of Greg Mattison than Al Borges, so up front I want to make it clear that Al Borges called a pretty good first half of football and Mattison seemed absolutely lost in stopping a team whose passing offense was “throw to #16” and “throw to guy wide open in the middle of the field.”  Borges has no functional running game, in part, because nobody seems able to block defenders, and so he went about trying ever-ludicrous methods to move the ball on the ground and the air without putting too much pressure on Shane Morris.  These were all plays fans have seen before, but he wove in screens, end-arounds, sweeps, and easy middle-distance throws into a coherent gameplan that let UM move the ball pretty effectively on their first couple of drives.  At the very least, he came out punching despite having one hand behind his back, and for that he deserves kudos.  And in particular during that first foray into the redzone, a PI on either of Morris’s two passes to Gallon and Funchess probably would have allowed UM to score a TD and kept the game closer.  The fact the offense sputtered in the 2nd half isn’t that surprising, as WR runs and delayed screens only work so often when your base offense is churning up less than a yard a carry and your WRs are being blanketed when they aren’t dropping passes from your amped-up QB.  Borges has shown an ability to adapt somewhat these past couple of games, and next year it is going to need to be flexible because I have a hard time believing it will suddenly start running the ball under center for 4 ypc while airing the ball out with aplomb.

On the other side of the ball, this “bending” defense clearly broke in the first half, as KSU had no trouble moving up and down the field despite holding penalties putting them in some poor down-and-distances.  Taylor and Countess couldn’t keep Lockett even remotely contained, and it seemed virtually impossible for the team to bring pressure while also maintain their assignments, leading to long conversions after acres of open field just appeared.  The defense tightened up somewhat in the 2nd half, but this defense needs to make a massive step forward next year for this team to improve on their record, and it’s now been two games in a row where the defense seems flat-footed and ill-prepared against good offenses.  That needs to change, and given the youth out there (Gedeon, Thomas, and Henry seemed to get significant run) along with some improving older players like Clark and a healthy Ryan, I expect that to happen.

bronxblue brings up the 2013 == death meme, and takes issue with it since the basketball team did make the NCAA final. I would like to point out that my particular version of 2013 == death is based on the Old Yeller premise, in which our once-loved dog contracts rabies, and is therefore 100% accurate except in this version of Old Yeller the dog is a cyborg with shotgun arms and continues blasting us long after our corpse has cooled.

I AM OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL

I AM OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL

Submitted by Brian on November 11th, 2013 at 12:19 PM

11/9/2013 – Michigan 13, Nebraska 17 – 6-3, 2-3 Big Ten

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The Passion of the Gardner [Bryan Fuller]

I've turned off. This is my default reaction in moments of extreme stress, because when I was a kid I tended to hit things and scream like a banshee and there was counseling and whatnot, counseling that essentially boiled down to "you have to be a human. If you are a rabid badger your whole life it will go poorly for you." Still, it is a daily trial. I've made up a word for people whose incompetence is making me angry, and I think it in trivial situations, like when someone can't get a credit card to swipe or dares to drive the speed limit. Yobs. Yobs everywhere. The way I'm built, I am presented with a stark choice when the bile comes up: on or off.

I am off. The Nebraska game was a fugue state. When Michigan scored the thing with the kicking after that is worth six-ish points—torchclown or something—people around me stood and cheered, as they are wont to do. I sat down and tried to check twitter. The event had no impact on me at all. Turning that emotion on meant turning the rest of them on, and that could not be allowed to happen.

I'm familiar with this after the last half-decade of Michigan football, of course, and even more recently last year's hockey team. I've gotten quite good at sleepwalking through sporting events without being mentally present.

But all men have breaking points. Last year I had one when the hockey team lost to BGSU 5-1, had its first shot of the third period 15 minutes in, and watched an alternate captain get injured on a dirty hit without doing anything. That was banshee time.

So.

Nebraska muffs a punt and Michigan gets it on the Cornhusker 26. They have not picked up one goddamn yard on the ground in weeks. First down: run from under center that Nebraska puts eight in the box in and blitzes. Second down: the same goddamn thing. Too much. "WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! WHY DO YOU THINK THAT HAS ANY CHANCE OF WORKING," I yelled at someone who could not hear me. "HAVE YOU WATCHED THIS TEAM PLAY YET?"

I hope he has, because if I have to watch this crap he should too. The evidence suggests otherwise.

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It was one thing to get run off the field by what may be the best defense in the country. Michigan's offense sucks this year and when you suck that is the kind of thing that happens. It was complete agony, but everyone with two functioning eyes had already braced for impact.

It is another thing, a different thing, to get run off the field by a collection of country yokels higher on 'shine than Mary Sue Coleman who couldn't spell "run fit" if you spotted them "run fi" and exist in mortal terror that their coach will machine-gun cats at them if—when—they explode into little smithereens that once resembled a run defense.

"But coach, we're already spread across most of a three-state area," the yokels said. "YAHHHH EAT NINE HUNDRED MILE PER HOUR CAT," Bo Pelini said, cranking his catling gun. "Dawwww," the yokels said moments before their faces were obliterated by cats moving so fast air friction had caused them to burst into flame, "we probably shouldn't have given up two hundred yards rushing to Illinois. Or everyone else on the schedule not named Southern Miss or Purdue."

Two hundred yards. By every-damn-body. Nebraska could not stop a nine year old from going eighty yards in their spring game, and as the season progressed it became clear they were trying to. We can't call Nebraska's defense a "unit," since that would imply concerted collective action. So let's go with eleven gas molecules in the cold vacuum of Pelini.

Against eleven gas molecules in the cold vacuum of Pelini, Michigan farted out production worse than that which caused a mini civil war in the Michigan fanbase after Penn State (which at least featured Devin Gardner picking up bushels of yards). It was worse than Michigan's recent debacle against Michigan State, the top defense in the country. Hack out the sacks and snaps that a battered Devin Gardner can't deal with and Michigan ran for 22 yards on 29 attempts. Oh, for the halcyon days when Michigan could pick up one yard per attempt.

After the game, Nebraska informed the world of how this was possible when even Purdue acquired four yards a carry.

"Whatever formation they came out in, we knew what they were going to throw at us." -Randy Gregory

“We knew what they were going to do right before they did it." -Jason Ankrah

The last time Michigan fans heard this, they were duly livid. They'd just watched their team lose to Texas in the Rose Bowl 38-37 EDIT: USC in the Rose Bowl 28-14. That is one thing. This is another thing, a different thing.

This was the game where Michigan's Cheesecake Factory offense—they do everything terribly, but by God there's a lot of it—hit rock bottom. Michigan couldn't get one damn yard per carry because of many reasons, but #1 was unblocked Nebraska defenders plowing into Gardner and Toussaint in the backfield. Gardner was hit for TFLs on three separate inverted veers on which a Nebraska defender tore through unblocked, because there was no one to block him.

Michigan would go under center and run play action that did not cause a Nebraska player to step forward one single time; Gardner looked downfield and found his receivers bracketed. Once there was only one guy in the pattern, because Al Borges is smart. He was Devin Funchess, and he had three guys surrounding him.

This is comprehensive failure that goes beyond the limited talent at Michigan's disposal after Rich Rodriguez regarded offensive line recruiting as optional in his final two years at Michigan. There are dozens of teams around the country with less to work with than Michigan. Some of them have played Nebraska, and ripped them for 200 yards rushing. Even poor damn Purdue, currently chasing Big Ten futility records, acquired 82 yards on its 20 actual rushes. Purdue is more than four times as good at running the ball against Brownian motion as Michigan is.

PURDUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUE.

PURDUE

THESE YOBS

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In this game the idea that Al Borges was waving flags literally telling the opposition defense what they were running went from highly likely to explicitly certain.

Despite this, in his post game presser Brady Hoke once again sighed "we just didn't execute." That is not an answer. There is nothing to execute when half the time a 'shine-addled yahoo has put his helmet through your neck without being acknowledged by anyone on your team.

"I have to do a better job coaching," which Hoke said seven times in 12 minutes, is also not an answer. It's clear that right now no one in Ann Arbor has any of those. Can we interest you in a tackle for loss?

Highlights

BTN:

Nebraska's official site has an embedding-disabled item.

Awards

brady-hoke-epic-double-point_thumb_31Brady Hoke Epic Double Point Of The Week. We will go with… uh… Matt Wile. Yes. It is only right. Wile pounded a 69-yard punt that flipped field position and helped Michigan enter the half down only 10-3 to a clownshow team. He averaged nearly 50 yards an attempt for the game. He also used Zoltan Mesko trademark eye laserz to force Jordan Westerkamp to fumble his last punt. A truly inspiring performance from the most important player on this year's team.

Honorable mention: All of Jibreel Black's tackles were behind the LOS. Cam Gordon finished a sack and forced a fumble that Michigan recovered. Devin Funchess still seems like a good player. James Ross was one of the main guys holding Armstrong to 1.1 YPC and Abdullah under 4 and had a thumping hit to prevent a big play.

Epic Double Point Standings.

2.0: Jeremy Gallon (ND, Indiana)
1.0: Devin Gardner (ND), Desmond Morgan(UConn), Devin Funchess(Minnesota), Frank Clark(PSU), Matt Wile (Nebraska)
0.5: Cam Gordon (CMU), Brennen Beyer (CMU)

Brady Hoke Epic Double Fist-Pump Of The Week. Nebraska muffs a punt, giving Michigan the field position they cannot possibly acquire themselves.

Honorable mention: Funchess scores a torchclown. That one time Toussaint got four yards. Matt Wile pounds a 69-yard punt.

Epic Double Fist-Pumps Past.

8/31/2013: Dymonte Thomas introduces himself by blocking a punt.
9/7/2013: Jeremy Gallon spins through four Notre Dame defenders for a 61-yard touchdown.
9/14/2013: Michigan does not lose to Akron. Thanks, Thomas Gordon.
9/21/2013: Desmond Morgan's leaping one-handed spear INT saves Michigan's bacon against UConn.
10/5/2013: Fitzgerald Toussaint runs for ten yards, gets touchdown rather easily.
10/12/2013: Devin Funchess shoots up the middle of the field to catch a 40 yard touchdown, staking Michigan to a ten-point lead they wouldn't relinquish. (Right?)
10/19/2013: Thomas Gordon picks off an Indiana pass to end the Hoosiers' last drive that could have taken the lead.
11/2/2013: Clock expires.
11/9/2013: Nebraska muffs a punt through no action of Michigan's.

[AFTER THE JUMP: stations of the cross.]

Upon Further Review 2013: Offense vs MSU

Upon Further Review 2013: Offense vs MSU

Submitted by Brian on November 7th, 2013 at 3:32 PM

ACCIDENTALLY APROPOS ERROR NOTES: Since the NCAA decided to replace their stat pages with much worse stat pages I've been using ESPN's items—still worse than the thing the NCAA just replaced but better. Their drive pages have been consistently erroneous all year, but my irritation just evaporated thanks to this magically accurate error in re: Michigan's drive immediately following Taylor's interception:

image

CORRECT, intern or robot or whoever. Correct. Except that drive started at the MSU 41, but we forgive all transgressions for spiritual correctness. The best kind of correctness.

FORMATION NOTES: So I just called MSU's stuff 4-3 over but I should point out that everyone is within ten yards of the LOS on damn near every snap. This is M's opener.

4-3-over

This was completely typical. For the most part, MSU did not try to match corners, they just ran their D. They would occasionally move guys down and whatnot, but mostly this was like watching magic. MSU has acquired a variety of guys big time programs didn't want and plays them more aggressively than the most athletic defense in the country, whoever that might be, and apparently no one can do anything about it. It is boggling.

MSU did on occasion flip to man press on the corners; this is designated with "press."

4-3-over-press

While it was the same personnel, when MSU shaded a guy outside the hash I called this a nickel. As always, with opponent formations I'm not trying to describe personnel.

4-3-over-slide

SUBSTITUTION NOTES: Gardner until last three plays, Toussaint almost the whole way save one, maybe two snaps on which Derrick Green didn't seem any better at pass blocking.

Line was Lewan/Bosch/Glasgow/Magnuson/Schofield with some limited exceptions featuing Kalis entering as a sixth OL. Paskorz got some snaps at TE; Butt got most of the inline snaps. When Funchess was inline it is noted below; he was inline for every play on Michigan's final drive but mostly split out. No Dileo; WRs were Gallon, Chesson, and a little bit of Jackson.

[After THE JUMP: otters, so many otters]

Failure

Failure

Submitted by Brian on March 25th, 2013 at 4:31 PM

3/23/2013 – Michigan 6, Miami 2 – 18-18-3, reach CCHA final
3/24/2013 – Michigan 1, Notre Dame 3 – 18-19-3, season over, tourney streak over

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In the end they were nowhere near good enough.

If you've followed Michigan hockey for a long period of time, you can point to a tourney game here or there Sunday's CCHA final against the Irish reminded you of. Smash together:

  • that Maine game where a moment of brilliance from Mike Comrie couldn't cover up his short-handed defense's failing legs with…
  • that Boston College game Michigan inexplicably led for most of that was over the moment the Eagles tied it after a nine-minute stretch without stoppages and…
  • that North Dakota game when Michigan couldn't get out of its own zone but scratched out a shorthanded goal and made it stand up and…

…you get that Notre Dame game.

You know the general outline even if you have no idea what I'm talking about above. If it was soccer the announcers would instantly announce your goal as "against the run of play."  Overwhelmed in the corners, fortunate to be in the game, goalie's arm hanging out over the abyss as he screams "DON'T. LET. GO." Fingers sweating, grip slipping, eyes widening, waiting for the buzzer or death.

I don't know about you but as soon as Notre Dame tied it, I was waiting for the end. Michigan had hardly put together a scoring chance. Notre Dame did them a favor by scoring early in the third and dialing back the throttle. At that point shots were 31-10, scoring chances at least that lopsided. By sitting back Notre Dame allowed Michigan to get a better handle on the game, but with 19:30 left I thought "Michigan will have two chances to tie it" and that was all they got.

Notre Dame ate Michigan's lunch. They took one penalty and gave up no odd-man rushes save the shorthanded goal. They won battles in the corner at a 3 to 1 rate. Michigan couldn't put together a rush for ten-minute blocks of time. Over the previous month they'd put something together and run roughshod over all comers, but finally they met a horse they couldn't catch up to. All that stuff Michigan did over their last ten games Notre Dame had been doing all year.

That's how a 21-year tourney streak ends: with Notre Dame showing men of will what will really is.

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

In the aftermath the word of the day is "redeem."

By the bitter end, Michigan hockey redeemed itself

Or "proud"

NCAA streak ends, but Wolverines made Michigan proud

No.

Michigan put themselves in this position with 2/3rds of a season of miserable, unwatchable hockey, and did not dig themselves out. Without the vagaries of single-game playoff hockey they would not have even come close in the end. They were 0-5 against the Irish this year, bombed in every game. Michigan was about as far away from winning that Notre Dame game as they were from getting an at large bid. They had a chance, and found out that running to catch up with someone who had been trying hard from day one isn't easy.

They got what they deserved. A team with as many NHL draft picks as anyone in the country was reduced to a "Cinderella run" in the CCHA playoffs. Divided, they lost game after game to sheer apathy. It got so bad Red tried the put-in-the-third-string-walk-on trick again. Hunwick's first team responded by flying through the slot to clear pucks like demons. This edition lost 4-0 to Michigan Tech and 5-1 to Bowling Green, the nadir. That listless debacle against Bowling Green is this season. What they did at the end was a preview of next year.

It's great that Andrew Copp emerged to take the team by the scruff of its neck and jam it towards an NCAA bid whether it wanted one or not, great that Steve Racine emerged into a viable starter once his defense ceased selling him out a dozen times a game, great that Guptill went from a wake-up scratch to pounding, skating power forward. The fact that this could happen is a ringing condemnation of the upperclassmen. By midseason the guys flanking Treais on the top line were Copp and Sinelli; by the end of the season Copp, a freshman no one had heard of before the year, was the undisputed leader of the forward corps. Because he tried real hard, full stop. This made him unique.

His leadership and the rest of the locker room pulling together is reason for hope. Lessons have clearly been learned, and if this year doesn't show the players the route to success goes through Jeff Jackson's relentless discipline, I'll be surprised.

But it doesn't redeem a damn thing. The preseason #2 team in the country finished under .500 and missed the tournament for the first time in 22 years. There is only one word for that: failure. The scarlet F is branded in this team. The only way up is to own that. Some of them have time to redeem themselves yet; that process starts now.

Next Year

Michigan loses Moffie, Treais, Sparks, Rohrkemper, and Lynch the Elder to graduation. The early word on departures from Mike Spath at the Wolverine is as such:

  • OUT: Kevin Clare, revealed to be indefinitely suspended as much as he was injured and implicated as a Problem, and—sigh—star-crossed Jon Merrill.
  • FENCE: Trouba is declared 60-40 to return—an opinion more or less shared by Dave Starman. At least we will know quickly—he's expected to make a decision in a couple days.
  • BACK (EXCEPT ONE OF THESE GUYS WILL NOT BE BACK BECAUSE THIS IS MICHIGAN HOCKEY):  The three forwards likely to have NHL options are Guptill, Di Giuseppe, and Nieves. Spath projects all to be back, though Guptill "clashed" with the coaches earlier in the year—he was left at home for one series, IIRC. Mac Bennett is projected to return and wear the C.

Just looking at playing time, a couple other guys may also head for greener pastures. There's Rutledge, of course, who turned in an .856 and watched Racine establish a death grip on the job over the last ten games of the season. If he wants to play, a return to the USHL and transfer to a smaller school is probably the only way. Then there's Mike Chiasson, who was an apparently-healthy scratch for the ten-game run. Mike Szuma played in his stead; against Notre Dame Michigan refused to ice a sixth defenseman entirely. I don't think any of the recruits are threats to not show but never say never, mmm, Connor Carrick?

If Michigan does get Trouba back and somehow evades the inevitable unexpected departure, here's a hypothetical line chart:

FORWARDS

  1. Guptill-Copp-Compher
  2. Di Giuseppe-Nieves-DeBlois
  3. Motte-Lynch-Moffatt
  4. Selman-Hyman-Allen

(Also: Kile, Sinelli, Cianfrone, Random New Walk-on who might be Max Shuart.)

DEFENSE

  1. Trouba-Downing
  2. Bennett-De Jong
  3. Serville-Chiasson

(Also: Szuma and probably Kevin Lohan, possibly Spencer Hyman.)

Michigan can sustain a forward departure without much dropoff. The guys I've projected as scratches are all capable of emerging into quality players. Sinelli gave Michigan good minutes late this year. Kile is a year older than the NTDP guys and has better than PPG with one of the USHL's best teams. While Cianfrone has struggled in the USHL, before that he was a midget minor demon and projected first-round OHL draft pick who still went in the third round despite telling teams he was headed to Michigan. Drawing one of those guys into the lineup will be fine. Only Shuart (who left his USHL club for the NAHL) looks particularly unlikely to be a contributor next year.

On defense, they need Trouba back badly. That third pairing is pretty sketch as it is, featuring one of two guys Michigan simply refused to ice against ND plus Serville, who still gives me hives quite a bit. The top two pairings feature two freshmen. There's not nearly as much confidence that any of the backup plans will come through. Lohan is a 6'5" late bloomer; Hyman is a guy who's piled up a lot of time in junior and seems like a third pairing type. If Trouba's gone Michigan is down to one solid pair and hope.

Copp will get an A, for sure, and then DeBlois seems like the most likely other captain. That lineup has no seniors save projected C Bennett and Luke Moffatt, who has never seemed like captain material. Juniors include Lynch, Hyman, Chiasson, and Serville. I could see Hyman getting a call, but DeBlois was on the top line while he toiled on the fourth.

Morning Drinking: Approved

Morning Drinking: Approved

Submitted by Brian on January 4th, 2011 at 10:43 AM

Both Adam Rittenberg of ESPN via Chris Mortensen and perpetual bearer of hate news Michael Rosenberg are reporting that if Harbaugh does not take an NFL job he will not leave Stanford:

Brandon's seemingly obvious move with Michigan football -- to fire coach Rich Rodriguez and hire Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh -- appears to be off the board. Colleague Chris Mortensen reports that Harbaugh is more likely to remain at Stanford or take an NFL job than return to his alma mater.

Because of course he is. Rosenberg is even more direct:

Jim Harbaugh is highly unlikely to accept the Michigan football coaching job if it becomes available, a person with direct knowledge of Harbaugh's thinking told the Free Press.

Harbaugh plans to decide this week whether he wants to take a job in the NFL. If he stays in college coaching, he has decided he will stay at Stanford, where he has built a potential powerhouse. It would take an extreme change of heart for Harbaugh to end up in Ann Arbor, according to the person, who did not want to be identified because Rich Rodriguez is still U-M's coach.

Hopefully that's as accurate as the rest of his reporting about the Michigan program but with a second confirming source it looks grim. Somehow Michigan has managed to screw this up, too. If the athletic department had a two-inch putt lined up they would whack it into a communications satellite. Seriously, what the hell, Harbaugh?

Moon Disaster

Moon Disaster

Submitted by Brian on January 3rd, 2011 at 12:22 PM

1/1/2010 – Michigan 14, Mississippi State 52 – 7-6, 3-5 Big Ten

Amongst the many many things posted over the weekend that could have been posted at any time in the last three years was one odd bit of history that's apropos: a letter drafted for Nixon to read in the event that Neal Armstrong and company were to die on the moon because the lander wouldn't leave.

moon-disaster

Men in charge of things make difficult decisions and live with the consequences of their actions even if they result in reading the thing William Safire wrote for you about two men watching at their oxygen gauges count down in an airless wasteland.

Back in the summer of 2008, when we were a happy-go-lucky band of mountain yodelers with flowers in our pockets and caviar dreams, I finished up that year's preview with that picture of Don Canham staring down a thicket of microphones as Bump Elliott searched for a sandwich and Bo exuded his Bo-like confidence. I've referred to it ever since, and here it is again:

bobumpdon_thumb

Lives were not literally at stake above, but even so it's hard to imagine Nixon adopting an expression that more perfectly sums up the feeling of someone who's made a big decision and now has to watch someone else execute. At the end of that post this is what I said:

We are all Don Canham now. Rich Rodriguez comes in with a wildly successful pedigree but promises to finally tear down the culture of Bo’s program, to replace it with something uncertain. This has caused apprehension in some, joy in others, and disdain verging on hatred in a select group.

The program risks changing into something people drift away from because it has drifted from them, or, worse, something that you only wish you could drift away from. It also promises fireworks and fun and victory and a feeling that’s something other than that thing we’ve felt so much before. Other fanbases go through this every five or ten or fifteen years; for us it’s been 40.

I could welcome it, I guess, or celebrate it, or proclaim inevitable dominion over the land. But I don’t feel like it. Nor do I feel like fretting over imaginary scandals future. Like Canham, I just hope it works.

I don't think it has. A game somewhere around expectations would not have moved the needle enough for slight support for Rich Rodriguez to morph into a call for firing, but I turned the game off before the third quarter was over and when I felt remorse and turned it back on a few minutes later Mississippi State had put up another touchdown. It was not around expectations, except in the ways that it was by not being around expectations in a depressing direction. Before the season I thought 7-5 would do it but now at 7-6 with every loss a blowout and three of the wins last-drive nailbiters, Michigan's progress seems minimal at best. But for the opening week, this is the worst seven-win season imaginable.

If I'm slotting Rich Rodriguez into the picture above he's on the right, and it's time to look for the guy on the left again.

Coaching Bits

On the likelihood of a change. Still nothing definitive but everything that enters the inbox adds to the circumstantial pile of evidence suggesting we're done. If Harbaugh escapes Michigan's clutches Michigan is in a bad spot because of the "process" and how much time it's left them in the event they do not immediately transition to a new coach, but having no serious options other than Rodriguez is probably the only scenario in which we don't see a change.

As to when, Tom says he's hearing there's a team meeting tomorrow at 7 PM that was scheduled before the bowl game. If that's now be a wake we'll hear about it soon after. There are unconfirmed third hand reports about coaches saying goodbye, which could mean anything from the obvious canning of Greg Robinson to a wholesale broom.

Also, while some players have been publicly supportive, a lot of parents have jumped ship and have met with Brandon expressing frustration at goings-on on the defense. Some players may have been "lost" by the bowl debacle as well.

On recent Harbaugh panic. The Big Lead probably doesn't know shit and even if he turns out right he got lucky because he's just randomly saying things people email him without even a cursory check. However, Adam Schefter is serious business and this is foreboding:

Schefter on ESPN: "Now, there is a real feeling around the league (Harbaugh) would prefer be in the NFL."

On the other hand, "a real feeling" is far from definitive and Schefter was just reporting that Harbaugh was leaning towards Michigan with the same strength—coaching change stuff is "fluid," and by fluid people mean "batshit."

On Brady Hoke. "Not an option."

On Plan B. The Plan B name in the event Harbaugh escapes is probably Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald actually makes quite a bit of sense as a young guy with a spotless media profile who runs a spread offense Denard would feel at home in. He hasn't put together a monster team or anything but recovered from a shaky start in the aftermath of Randy Walker's death to go 9-4, 8-5, and 7-6. Not exactly Harbaugh and another guy who'd be leaving his alma mater for greener pastures, but Michigan is not in a great spot right now.

Preview: Gator Bowl Frippery And Prediction

Preview: Gator Bowl Frippery And Prediction

Submitted by Brian on December 31st, 2010 at 4:00 PM

Special Teams

Michigan has the worst field goal kickers in the country and will use them only when facing preposterous situations like fourth and goal from the fifteen. One of MSU's kickers is basically a Michigan kicker but he was replaced and the new guy is 9 of 11. [shakes fist at sky.]

The punt games are a wash. MSU is 28th in net punting; Will Hagerup and co are a couple yards off of that but it's not a big enough difference to expect it will matter. MSU was decent at punt returns but Bumphis has all but one on the year so that's a question mark for them; Michigan will just fair catch it. Kickoffs are also a wash, though Michigan gave up a KR touchdown against OSU in their last game.

Key Matchup: DON'T ALLOW A DAMN TOUCHDOWN

Intangibles

Cat-versus-alligator 

Cheap Thrills

Worry if...

  • The first triple option pitch is so open it's not like there's anyone to blame.
  • No one knows how to run a 3-3-5 still.
  • Someone calls a halftime press conference.

Cackle with knowing glee if...

  • We're all like "oh, right, Mike Martin is a beast, I forgot."
  • A healthy Denard is zinging accurate balls hither and thither.
  • Greg Robinson's beaver makes frequent appearances for whatever reason.

Fear/Paranoia Level: 5 (Baseline 5; +1 for We're Playing The Illinois Offense Again, –1 for But Denard Is Healthy And So Is Odoms And So Isn't MSU's Best WR, +1 for Mississippi State's Defense Will Not Be As Accommodating As Illinois, +1 for Burn The Gardner Shirt Or Run Wildcat If—When—Robinson Gets His Ding, –1 for Chris Relf's Erratic Throwing Is Defense-Invariant, –1 for Healthy Mike Martin, +1 for Mad Cowbell Disease)

Desperate need to win level: 8 (Baseline 5; +1 8-5 Is Undeniable Progress, –1 for That Might Not Matter One Whit Anyway, +1 for The Faint Memory Of January Happy Events Is Like Motes Of Dust In A Room Half-Remembered, +1 for The Slight Chance It Might Impact Our Ability To Watch Denard Finish His Career Here, +1 for I Just Want To Win A Damn Game, –1 for I Know It's Over And Oh It Never Really Began But In My Heart It Was So Real, +1 for Seriously, Win.)

Loss will cause me to... sigh and brace for a press conference.

Win will cause me to... smile and brace for a press conference.

The strictures and conventions of sportswriting compel me to predict:

I hate this section because predictions are stupid. I always have. That's why the bolded text is whining. I want Michigan to win so I think Michigan will win. I fear Michigan will lose so I think Michigan will lose. You see that behavior in the BlogPoll: the most irrationally exuberant voters are always from some team doing well at that second with caviar dreams and the most irrationally negative voters have just watched their puppy run over and loathe everything. I'm caught between the two, and don't really know what to expect in a game that seems like a replay of the Illinois game. The Illinois game turned out to be rather close.

A couple other blogospheric predictions have dispensed with the idea that predictions are anything other than hopes, with Blue Seoul declaring…

I hate making predictions, especially when the two teams are close.  So instead I'll just put what I hope happens.

…and BWS saying

This is probably a homer's prediction, but I don't like picking against Michigan when a game looks not only winnable but more or less like a coin flip

…and I'm here to tell you that I don't know what's going on, man. I want Michigan to win, so I'll predict them to win because I can, in defiance of Vegas and the vague hope it matters. I'll spare people the talking myself into it bit.

Finally, three opportunities for me to look stupid Sunday:

  • Demens is still aligned like an idiot would align him and MSU counters are highly effective, but Martin's presence makes the interior inverted stuff mostly ineffective.
  • Michigan has two fifty-yard-plus touchdowns.
  • Michigan gives up two fifty-yard-plus touchdowns.
  • Michigan, 31-28, with Justin Meram erupting from the locker room with ten seconds left to boot a 200 yard field goal.

Every Year. Same Time. Once. The Last Time.

Every Year. Same Time. Once. The Last Time.

Submitted by Brian on August 26th, 2010 at 1:32 PM

Two must-read posts: Ramzy at Bucknuts on whoredom and Doctor Saturday on the sheer lack of sense.

I'm not posting this in the hope that it will change anything. Since Dave Brandon came out in favor of moving the Michigan-Ohio State game to midseason there's been tremendous fan pushback, with opinion running about 10-to-1 against. It obviously doesn't matter, because the men in suits are ramping up the meaningless PR doublespeak to alarming levels:

…the reason the Big Ten is great is because of our fans. We had five and a half million fans come to games [in 2009]. Whether it’s the Rose Bowl or Ohio State-Michigan, we welcome that, and there’s an awful lot of discussion of, generally speaking, how our fans feel about what we do. We're not fan-insensitive, we're fan-receptive and are only interested in doing what is going to grow our fan base.

Whenever someone starts talking about how great the fans are, the fans are about to get it in uncomfortable places, especially when that's the first thing they talk about in the face of obvious, massive opposition. Meanwhile, the SID is trying to calm people over email by saying for Michigan and Ohio State to meet for the conference title they will "have to play their way into the championship game." If it was a trial balloon people would be walking it back by now after the reaction it's received. The thing is far enough along that Barry Alvarez is flat-out stating that Iowa and Wisconsin will be split up. It's actually happening.

So this doesn't matter. But here's why Michigan and Ohio State's athletic directors should be out in the streets rounding up pitchfork-toting mobs instead of rolling over like Indiana:

The financial benefits are almost literally zero. Dan Wetzel cites a TV executive claiming that at maximum, the vague possibility of Michigan and Ohio State meeting in a Big Ten championship game once a decade might be worth two million dollars a year ("it might be half that," he adds). Even taking the most optimistic number, the end result for Michigan is another 150k per year (the conference takes a share). Assuming an average of seven home games a year, Michigan could earn that by raising ticket prices twenty cents. Meanwhile, every other Big Ten team sees the same increase in their bottom line.

Twenty cents!

Michigan and Ohio State will almost never meet. The Plain Dealer looked back at the league since Penn State's addition and concluded that in the last sixteen years, a Michigan-Ohio State championship game would have happened all of three times.

In the future you can expect that to be far less frequent. Michigan will be guaranteed that 1) they play an outstanding Ohio State team and 2) three of the other five teams in their division do not. If the matchup is going to occur it's going to be the same for Ohio State. The loser of that game is going to have to overcome that deficit against teams that have a much easier schedule. The addition of Nebraska adds another historic power to the league. "Once a decade" is not hyperbole. It's a reasonable estimate.

As a result, you are turning M-OSU from something that will always have stakes to something you hope to do over. This is Delany's reasoning:

"If Duke and North Carolina were historically the two strongest programs and only one could play for the right to be in the NCAA tournament, would you want them playing in the season-ending game so one is in and one is out?" he asked. "Or would you want them to play and have it count in the standings and then they possibly could meet for the right to be in the NCAA or the Rose Bowl?

"We've had those debates. It's a good one. The question is whether you want to confine a game that's one of the greatest rivalries of all time to a divisional game."

Yes. Because the loser of that game is doomed and knows it. Moving it to midseason just makes it a particularly high hurdle that might not mean much—that the conference explicitly hopes doesn't mean much—at the end of the year, when the two teams can do it again, except indoors in Indianapolis. Doctor Saturday:

Keep the game what it's always been, the ritualistic culmination of an entire season in a single, freezing orgy of centuries-old hate that cannot be overturned or redeemed for at least another 365 days. In good years, the division championship (hence a shot at the conference championship) will be on the line, preserving the familiar winner-take-all/loser-go-home intensity that made "The Game" what it is in the first place.

You are doing something your fans hate. The kids don't get paid, the stadium doesn't have advertising, the idea that there is a Michigan Thing that it is possible not to "get" in a way that it is not possible Jim Schwartz does not "get" the Lions Thing: these are the things that separate college football from minor league baseball. For decades Michigan's season has had a certain shape defined by the great Satan at the end of it.

This is where the disconnect between the suits and the fans is greatest. Beating Ohio State isn't about winning the Big Ten, it's about beating Ohio State, just like the Egg Bowl is about beating that other team in Mississippi or the Civil War is about beating that other team in Oregon or any billion other year-end rivalry games that have been played since the Great Depression. M-OSU is the super-sized version of the old-fashioned rivalries based on pure hate. It's not Miami-Florida State, a game entirely dependent on the teams being national contenders for it to even sell out, but the Big Ten is treating it like the country's fakest rivalry game anyway.

It so happens that a lot of the time OSU and Michigan do decide the Big Ten, but did anyone want to beat OSU less in the mid-90s when Michigan limped into the game with 3 or 4 losses every year? Or last year? No. Would it matter less as an October game to be followed by three or four more? Necessarily yes. Is that the worst thing in the world? Yes.

I have no tolerance for anyone too dense to grasp this, much less see it as a potentially good thing, as Dave at Maize N Brew does. I said his post on the matter was the stupidest thing I'd ever seen a Michigan fan write and it remains so. Orson's post on the matter is also the dumbest thing I've ever seen him write. The reason college football matters in a way the NFL does not is the idea it has that some things are not worth selling. Once the date of the Michigan-Ohio State game goes the only thing left is the labor of the players.

I'll still be there. I don't have a choice, really, but the special kind of misery I'll experience when Michigan plays Ohio State at 8 PM in October and Special K blasts "Lose Yourself" during a critical review will make me feel like an exploited sap, not a member of a community in which my opinions matter. They clearly don't. This will matter in the same way erosion does.

AND NOW: A BUNCH OF UNAFFILIATED FOLK SHARE THEIR OPINIONS

Jerry Hinnen:

Speaking as an Auburn fan on Big 10 moving M/OSU to midseason: If they'd tried that w/ the Iron Bowl I'd have burned SEC HQ to the ground

Doctor Saturday:

Because I have a soul, I've already firmly aligned myself with the "armageddon" crowd, made up of those of us who can't stand the thought of one side telling the other in mid-October, "We'll see you again when it really matters." Which probably means I've aligned myself with the losing side. Whatever the motivations of its less influential champions, the prospect of a Buckeye-Wolverine split only has traction among people who matter because the people who matter see a buck in it: If one Ohio State-Michigan game is good, two Ohio State-Michigan games must be even better, and I'm sure they have the ratings projections and accompanying ad rates to prove it. The rivalry has already defined and shaped the national perception of the Big Ten for the last 50 years; just think of the possibility of the rivalry-as-championship game as "expanding the brand."

Mike Rothstein:

Saving this game at the end is the culmination of a season-long crescendo.

Michigan-Indiana at the end of the year, for example, doesn’t offer the same cachet.

And it never will.

Stewart Mandel:

Are you kidding me? It's been played the last week of the season all but once since 1935, and it's the league's single most important franchise. You would think conference leaders would go to any length to protect it. …

Sometimes leaders make decisions without properly thinking through the issues. This one sounds like a case of over-thinking. Do the right thing, Mr. Delany, Mr. Brandon and Mr. Smith, lest the ghosts of Woody and Bo haunt you in your sleep.

John Taylor:

Be warned, Big Ten: you move The Game, you will rip the heart and suck the soul out of the single greatest property the conference owns.  And for what, a few more advertising dollars every few years when they do happen to stumble into a title showdown?  One that will, incidentally, likely be contested in a sterile, domed, neutral location as opposed to yet another reason that The Game is what it is -- The Big House and The Shoe.

So… yeah. Join the Facebook page. Maybe it will help. It won't, actually, but maybe you'll feel better about it.

The Woolfolk Hangover, or: Bohemian Crapsody

The Woolfolk Hangover, or: Bohemian Crapsody

Submitted by Brian on August 18th, 2010 at 11:59 AM

SO DID EVERYONE HAVE FUN LAST NIGHT CAN I GET A HELL YEA

YEAAAAAAAHHHHHHH GIVE ME A FUCKIN' OTTER

henri-the-otter-of-ennuGET PUMPED IT'S AUGUST AND HENRI'S ALREADY OUT IT'S GOING TO BE A HELL OF A FALLLLLLLLLL

THE DEPTH CHART AT CORNER

1. DONOVAN WARREN

file-not-found

2. TROY WOOLFOLK

file-not-found

3. TLOY WOORFORK

file-not-found

4. JUSTIN TURNER

file-not-found

5. DEMAR DORSEY

file-not-found

6. BOUBACAR CISSOKO

file-not-found7. THIS GUY FRUITLESSLY CHASING A 235 POUND INDIANA FRESHMAN (NOT THE WHITE ONE)

(CAPTION INFORMATION)
Indiana's Darius Willis runs 90 yards for a fourth quarter touchdown.        Photos are of the University of Michigan vs. Indiana University at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, September 26, 2009.  (The Detroit News / David Guralnick)

8. THIS GUY WHO TILTS HIS HEAD IN A NON-CONFIDENCE INSPIRING WAY

cullen1

9. RICHARD NIXON

richard_nixon 10. SOME OTHER FRESHMEN, THIS ONE A QUARTERBACK

courtney-avery-visit11. AND THIS ONE SPORTING A NAME CONFUSINGLY SIMILAR TO THAT OF HIS BROTHER, WHO IS 249 POUNDS AND WILL PROBABLY BE PLAYING THE SAME POSITION THIS FALL

terrence-talbott-hat

HE DOESN'T EVEN KNOW WHICH HATS ARE UGLY YET

12. NIXON AGAIN

richard-nixon-sammy-davis-jr

13. JAMES ROGERS

…WAIT, SERIOUSLY, SAMMY DAVIS JUNIOR?

Unverified Voracity Turned It Off

Unverified Voracity Turned It Off

Submitted by Brian on March 8th, 2010 at 1:08 PM

demonwolverine

I remember when this guy was not just a photoshop creation but a
representation of the state of the athletic programs.

At this time it may be appropriate to purchase flowers. As it tends to do, getting obliterated by Michigan State has caused no end of soul-searching about the basketball program. Example: Genuinely Sarcastic is moved to write something featuring a Dire Straits song.

I don't know. I started fast-forwarding after about ten minutes and turned the thing off entirely once Michigan ended up down 34-14, invoking a personal rule from back in the Amaker days where any game that Michigan was 20 points down was no longer something I had to pay attention to. I wasn't exactly surprised. I know why people are leaping off e-buildings in the aftermath, but that seems like a willful lack of attention paid to results to date.

Now: since this is the 2009-10 season and we are talking about a team in maize and blue, evaluating the "when can we fire this guy?" question is inevitable. Proof: some idiot on the Rivals hockey board even asked it about Red. With Beilein, I don't think he can or should be axed any time in the next two years and that a sixth year is likely almost irrespective of Michigan's performance on the court.

However, I also don't have a lot of hope that things will change for the better. This year, exactly zero players showed any improvement as Michigan backslid. The offense looked positively Amakerian for much of the year. Aimless passing around the perimeter was a major feature. Outside of a game roleplayer in Zack Novak and a possibly useful point guard (albeit one who can't shoot) in Darius Morris, Beilein's first two recruiting classes look like anchors:

  • The post recruits are basically Justin Turner minus the recruiting hype: how terrible do you have to be to 1) be a post and 2) get zero minutes on a team with two guys taller than 6'5"?
  • Matt Vogrich was 5/5 from three against D-II Northern Michigan and then looked like a slightly larger version of Reed Baker the rest of the year.
  • Laval Lucas Perry was on the bench behind…
  • …Stu Douglass, who had an eFG of 42.7 and an offensive rating of 93.9 with a 15% usage rate. If Stu Douglass was a team, he would be Southern, a 5-25 SWAC team with the same overall eFG%. And those guys have to average 20% usage. In non-tempo-free numbers: made a third of his twos and 30 percent of his threes.

It's really hard to see how this team gets better next year with or without Manny unless Evan Smotrycz is Dirk Nowitzki. I am writing this right now and I think that's irrational because Michigan will return everyone other than Sims and will finally have enough size to play a proper 1-3-1 and etc etc, but if zero players on the team improved from year one to year two, why will they improve next year? Players are supposed to have their biggest leaps between their freshman and sophomore years, and Michigan's sophomores went backwards.

Votin'. I don't know if a Facebook page attempting to get Brandon Graham on the cover of NCAA Football 11 is going to overcome the fact that Graham didn't play in a bowl, but they make weird choices sometimes and it can't hurt. I bet a dollar it's Tebow.

Talkin'. I presented a talk called 'Building the World's Most Popular College Football Blog"—which, excluding large corporate conglomerations like Fanhouse, is troof—at Ignite 3 on Thursday. The title's sort of misleading, as they often are when you come up with them before coming up with what you're going to say. It's more about what I think is a generally applicable approach to becoming the head of your own nation of racist dwarves no matter what the topic area is.

Please excuse the various ums and ahs, as I didn't get to practice as much as I wanted, and the shirt I didn't realize could have been in the "Evenflow" video until a local wag brought it up. I didn't wear totally awesome cargo shorts, at least.

I'm the first guy in the second half, but you'll have to skip to 1:20 for the part that is not the emcee.

Everyone moves. The NHL trade deadline was devoid of blockbusters but ridiculously heavy on Michigan movement:

Anaheim: traded G Justin Pogge and Boston's fourth-round pick in the 2010 or 2011 draft (previously acquired) to Carolina Hurricanes for D Aaron Ward.

Colorado: traded LW Wojtek Wolski to Phoenix Coyotes for RW Peter Mueller and C Kevin Porter. …

Columbus: traded D Mathieu Roy to Florida Panthers for C Matt Rust. Traded LW Alexandre Picard to Phoenix Coyotes for C Chad Kolarik.

Montreal: traded RW Matt D'Agostini to St. Louis Blues for RW Aaron Palushaj.

Add in Steve Kampfer getting sent to the Bruins for a fourth-round pick—totally weird trade since Kampfer was a fourth-rounder—and that's six Michigan products moving teams in two days. Los Angeles, unsurprisingly, didn't pick any of them up.

Well, okay. I spent a large chunk of the last offseason blasting anyone who dropped Rich Rodriguez on a "hot seat" list as he entered year two. Even a crappy, bowl-free season would not result in Rodriguez's termination, and that has proved to be the case. Now, though, Rodriguez is. No protests when Tom Dienhart and that coaches hot seat whatever throw him on the list.

(One item of protest: throwing Ralph Friedgen in the "inferno" section is pointless when Maryland is already planning a transition to its offensive coordinator.)

Default Big Ten expansion talk. Gary Pinkel interviewed by a few locals, topic inevitably comes up, Pinkel responds with the usual:

one of the really big problems with this league is the TV contract. Two areas of the TV contract, really. First of all, the TV contract itself. In the next five years, per year Illinois will get about $12 million more (from the Big Ten’s TV contract) for their athletic budget. Multiply that by four years for the four years we have left in our contract. So, the University of Illinois is getting $48 million more. That’s hard to understand. I think it’s about $14 million more in the Southeastern Conference. It’s hard to explain that to anybody.

Another issue we have in this league is you look at the SEC and the Big Ten, and they have revenue-sharing. They understand you’re as strong as your weakest link and that the strength of your league is important. So, you share TV revenue. Even though we’ve been on the upper side of that ourselves, it’s not the right thing, in my opinion, for the Big 12. So, there’s some issues here. Those things are out there, and that’s kind of disappointing. Other than that, they’re not going to let me make decisions anyway.

It can be a great league, but there are things financially that are absurd. I can’t even explain it.

That's not much different from the president of the university or the governor's take; Missouri is going to make noise until such point as they cannot make noise because the Big Ten picked someone else or don't have to because it picked them.

Etc.: Analyzing Colorado's potential move to the Pac 10. Outback Bowl moves to 1 PM on NYD, meaning three Big Ten teams will all play at the same time, which is dumb. Rothstein on Deshawn Sims.