The Hat And Hoke: Bombs Away

The Hat And Hoke: Bombs Away

Submitted by Brian on September 13th, 2011 at 5:13 PM


I want one of these coaches in the fourth quarter and the other at all other times.
Yes, that one. Seriously.

When Michigan took a knee at the end of the first half on Saturday I was frustrated. One of my fears when Hoke was hired is that we were returning to not only the bits of the Carr era that were pretty good, like winning some games and recruiting like the dickens, but the ones that made you crazy, like punting from the 34 on fourth and four against Ohio State. Hoke stoked those a little bit with a press conference statement about liking touchdowns "too," or something. It was a statement that could be read either way; people mostly read it as Lloydball.

I was reminded of this today when I hit up my feeds and found that confirmed puntasaur Kirk Ferentz is getting heavy fire from the normally even-keeled guys at BHGP for a couple of milquetoast decisions he made in the midst of Iowa's triple OT loss to Iowa State. The first was tossing away his final possession from the 20 with 1:17 on the clock, two timeouts, and a kicker who'd already hit from 50. The second was not going for it on fourth and one in the final OT.

No one who remembers the 2005 Iowa game will be surprised by this. Trailing by three, Drew Tate was carving up a flimsy Michigan defense until Iowa got in field goal range, whereupon Ferentz clammed up and kicked for overtime. Iowa lost.

But even people who know about this can be pretty pissed off about it. Patrick Vint:

Not risking a late drive despite having virtually every circumstance in your favor might be MANBALL dogma, passed down from Schembechler to Carr to Tressel to Ferentz, and it might indeed be smart in aggregate to go hyperconservative in close games. The problem is that, while "the percentages" worked for Carr and Tressel, they quite clearly don't apply for Ferentz and his "unique" brand of endgame decisionmaking. On the contrary, Kirk Ferentz is an especially poor coach in close games, and his philosophy is counterproductive on both sides of the ball in late-game situations.

Michigan fans might have some words to say about Carr's effectiveness at playing the percentages—here we recycle the amazing stat that Carr was more likely to win a game if he entered the fourth quarter trailing by a score than winning by one. That's another drunken lament, though, and Vint brings Iowa's startlingly poor record in close games out like a hammer. It's bad.

The thing this reminded me of is that I hadn't mentioned Hoke's decision to go for the win at the end of the game. That seems like a slam dunk but I'm not sure Ferentz or Carr wouldn't have passed it up. It was risky enough to be called "baffling" and draw a comparison to Les Miles from Michigan Monday even though it's not at all baffling. But that's the point: there is a certain brand of football coach/observer that only thinks about the downside, and there's a brand that thinks about expected value. The former would have sent Brendan Gibbons out to kick for OT; the latter eats some grass and lets 'er rip.

In this situation it's a simple equation: is it more likely you score on a fade from the 16 (against Gary Gray) or that you turn the ball over or run out of time? A sack is not a consideration. The fade is the fade and is always thrown. So it's Gray INT or Roundtree TD? That's not close, and it's even further apart when you consider the chances of making the field goal (far from certain) or winning in overtime (less than 50-50). It's easy to kick and lose later. It's hard to man up and take the risk. Hoke took the risk and in doing so a chunk of the pejorative edge off MANBALL.

That's an encouraging data point for people worried that Hoke will bring back Carr's tendency to recruit an NFL All-Pro team on offense but let it idle in neutral because he's too afraid of what might go wrong to push in his chips. It's more than encouraging. It's trend-establishing. Hell, Hoke even said he'd think about going for for it with two seconds left:

Is the 30-second drill different from the two-minute drill? What was the decision like to go for the TD vs. settle for the field goal and then OT? “With eight seconds left? We had two timeouts, so we were at least going to give it a shot in the endzone. If Denard would have scrambled and got tackled, I think we had enough time to call a timeout. I may have gone for the touchdown and gone for the win [anyway]. Why not? I mean, you play to win. That was a good win.”

That is a filthy lie, but lie to me, baby. Back in the day when people were excited about Rodriguez I said he'd come up from nothing and wouldn't expect to win as long as nothing went wrong. That's something that applies to Hoke, who's endured crappy campaigns in the wildfire MAC and knows that when the opportunity to win presents itself, you'd better take it.

Unverified Voracity All About Obviously

Unverified Voracity All About Obviously

Submitted by Brian on June 1st, 2011 at 12:01 PM


A standard piece of rivalry whatnot made sublime by the copyright notice in the bottom left corner. The image of Lamarr Woodley hunched over his pirated copy of photoshop using the smudge tool on Tressel's neck is priceless. Don't tell me he just republished it. I don't want to know your lies and terrible mind.

The price of famous. Boy am I glad Burgeoning Wolverine Star was ready to scoff mightily at the latest bit of "but he's really a good guy, seriously" stuff from OSU fans. This one's from Ramzy and details Tressel being really, really nice at a local children's hospital.

Again, that's great and all but the price of being a rich celebrity these days is to do your share of charity work. You can't throw a brick at a former Michigan player or coach without seriously endangering an already-pretty-endangered ten year old in a hospital gown. BWS points out all the large-people-are-nice stuff everywhere:

Rich Rodriguez spent significant time at the U of M Children's hospital, as did a number players from the team. Brock Mealer can nearly walk now because of Rodriguez's generosity. The now-annual Spring Game has become a massive fundraiser for Mott's Children's Hospital.

The NBA has The NBA Cares program. Professional football and hockey players find themselves doing charity work frequently. With stature, money, and influence comes significant responsibilities, one of which is to give back to the community. And given their position as role models--despite what Charles Barkley will have you believe--that means going to hospitals, soup kitchens, and helping the less fortunate. Jim Tressel, in this regard, is not remarkable. He's not unprecedented or special. He's someone doing what he's supposed to do with the influence and money he's earned.

Tressel's not a monster, but he's not any different in this than most rich public figures. Except insofar as other rich public figures don't flaunt the rules of their organizations quite so brazenly.

BWS has evidently Had Enough, as he spent a long time shooting holes in Ramzy's bit. If you're up for some fiskin', recommended.

"He took care of his kids." What do you want, a cookie? Watch this, replacing "black people" with "Buckeyes" and "lawyaz" with "cooler poopers":

Shut up about the damn kids. If the kids learned how to be a man from Tressel, they learned all too well.

Not everywhere. Recruitocosm has an article from a former Texas walk-on describing their practices. Key bit:

If you have a car, the compliance office will have the make, model, and plate number. You have to show how you are making payments or who is making payments. They let you know that if you drive something other than the car you tell them about, it better belong to a family member and if you park it on campus you have to bring it to the attention of the compliance office. God forbid that the UT Parking Nazis give you a parking ticket and it go unpaid before sunset. Got an unpaid ticket? MadDog had a way to remind you to park in your correct spot and that’s AFTER the ticket was paid. If you live off campus, you have to provide your lease at the beginning of each semester and show where the money to pay the rent is coming from.

Every time ANOTHER SEC school gets busted giving cars or cash (or having an agent do it) to a player, they parade the usual suspects (Holtz, Meyer, Saban) onto ESPN where they cry crocodile tears about how HARD it is to keep track of 85 guys and what they do in their off time?


You have 85 players to go with 8 position coaches, 10 S&C coaches, 5 full time academic support personnel, 5 full time athletic trainers, 15 student assistant trainers, 5 guys on the film staff, 10 equipment managers, a recruiting coordinator, and 5 guys in your compliance office devoted to football. You can do the math on player-to-support personnel ratios, but it’s pretty obvious that if the people in a NCAA football program are paying one lick of attention and actually give a rip about playing by the rules, it is IMPOSSIBLE to have a car (worth driving) that people in the program don’t know about. This “open secret” at Ohio State with cars ranging from free to ultimate sweetheart deals is unforgiveable.

There is a level of ignorance coaches can plausibly claim; Pryor's ever-rotating swanky used car is not one of them, neither is Ohio State's 11-day investigation into the tattoo business that did not turn up sketchy dudes named Ellis.

Thank you Pryor clapclapclap, part IV. Meanwhile, Pryor's license is suspended because he has no proof of insurance. Who wants to bet Pryor's never had any insurance—which is expensive for 20-year-olds driving fancy cars—because he's been driving around Auto Direct vehicles since his arrival? I do. This guy does.

Dohrmann also expanded on Pryor's mad equipment loot on a radio blitz yesterday:

He believes that Pryor traded, “more than 20 items, ­including game-worn shoulder pads, multiple helmets, Nike cleats, jerseys, game pants and more” for tattoos or cash. This, Dohrmann argues, should prove OSU was aware (or should have been aware) of what was going on. How could they not notice how much equipment was going missing?

If true that is another step towards a lack of institutional control charge. Pryor's cars and one SI reporter managing to expand the tattoo business to 28 players when OSU's internal investigation-type substance concluded the six players mentioned in the federal report were the only bad apples take the Buckeyes' issues from a Tressel problem to an OSU problem. Take it from John Cooper:

“Compliance is not doing their job when this kind of stuff happens and they act like they don’t know about it. When I was coaching over there, compliance was around everywhere. It’s almost like they were trying to find us violating a rule.”

That is kind of compliance's purpose.

Is Cooper trying to help there or just so incensed this crap got laid in Tressel's lap when the institution has a responsibility to take care of this stuff before the head coach has an opportunity to "make a mistake*"?

*[This is an Ohio-based idiom that means "continue your decades-long pattern of malfeasance." /themoreyouknow.]

Hat. What does Les Miles think of oversigning?

“I said that there has to be an alligator handler in every class. In fact Troy has got the swamp people. We’ve got to make sure that we keep a quality contingent of free-spirited men around.”

There's some sort of explanation for that, but your life will be a little bit better if you have absolutely no context for that statement.

Truth. Daniel Tosh on Michigan State:

At least those girls got communications PhDs for the video.

Etc.: local woman says she has photos of "shenanigans" going on last December—after the NCAA had suspended various Buckeyes.

One of my favorite hockey bloggers went to England to check out Blackpool's failed attempt to avoid relegation and comes back with a picture of the way English fans see their clubs that contrasts mightily with resigned Americans and their pro leagues. It's a good start if you ever want to explain why college is more important than the pros to you.

Matt Hayes has an interestingly Machiavellian proposal for the BCS: let the Mountain West get an autobid the next two years in near-accordance with their standards (the MWC barely misses on one of the three BCS autobid criteria), then take it away once Utah, BYU, and TCU evaporate.

BWS on the Ray Small trashing. Stop snitching, etc.

Unverified Voracity Wishes To Be A Fierce Pragmatist

Unverified Voracity Wishes To Be A Fierce Pragmatist

Submitted by Brian on January 17th, 2011 at 4:04 PM

The Clans. This is an awesome post that you must rush to read right now drop everything. Look:


You want to know where you fit. Everyone does. Everyone thinks they're a fierce pragmatist. Seriously, check the comments.

Mike Hart is the master. If Mike Hart is serious about going into coaching after his NFL career is done and eventually returning to Michigan, he's already got the bit about expertly defusing tricky questions down pat. Via a recent radio appearance:

"I think that any Michigan man that would've came in would be hard to be mad at because I think people have been complaining so bad these last three years that – 'Hey, we want a Michigan guy here. We need a Michigan guy. Rich-Rod doesn't respect the traditions.' (For) guys that have been saying those things, Coach Hoke was the perfect hire because he brings back that Michigan legacy."

I eagerly await the day he's cut. No offense, Mr. Hart, it's just… you know.

and the hoke-footed balloonMan whistles far and wee

Needs moar tremendous.

Not much of substance, but I'm not a big fan of the Vick comparison. When Vick got to the NFL he was shepherded in a run-heavy, simple system that wasn't very good. It takes time, and while Denard will progress I think it'll take more than a year. There will be a larger post on this later.

Calling Brandon a liar. Is what LSU's doing:

"He was offered more than 4 million to become the Michigan coach," LSU Board of Supervisors member Stanley Jacobs said Friday. "When he said no, they came back and offered him more. And he said no again."

Miles is apparently set to sign an extension that does not raise his salary. It'll be interesting to see what happens to the buyout. Miles has made a lot of money already but seemed to be lacking in job security early this year when LSU was surviving by the skin of its teeth. He may not have leveraged the Michigan job into more money, but he may have leveraged it into making it very difficult to get rid of him if LSU fails to live up to expectations next year, which is totally going to happen because LSU fans are expecting a national title.

I can see Miles doing this because he's 57—a primary reason he should never have been considered for the job in the first place—and knows this is his last head coaching job at a premiere school. He's probably eyeing retirement in the not too distant future and would like to make sure he chooses the "when."

As for the Michigan side of things, I'm not sure what to believe. It would be stupid for Brandon to waste time playing footsie with Miles when he had no intention of tabling a serious offer, but it would be stupid to table a serious offer. So I guess it doesn't matter. The LSU guys think this game of semantics is silly:

"Well, if Hoke was his first choice, he could've signed him up prior to ever talking to Les or Harbaugh," LSU chancellor Mike Martin said. "Don't you think?"

One way or the other, they're right.

You are heartfelt but uninformed, LSU chancellor. Brandon, meanwhile, set to compounding his arrogant father-knows-best press conference by putting this out later in the day:

"I got inundated with advice," he admits on WDFN-AM 1130. "A lot of people with very good hearts, and who care a lot, and with a lot of passion, came at me with their point of view. And I respect that, and I certainly tried to show them a courteous reply whenever I could because those passionate people are what make Michigan football special.

"However, most of them are very uninformed, and in most cases, they were recommending people they had never met. Or been in the same room with. Or ever had a conversation with. And interviewing a candidate for an important job like this is about sitting down and talking about specific issues, and getting to know them at a completely different level than blogs and statistics and images that, in many cases, are shaped by PR more than reality. [ed: the noise you heard was my irony meter exploding.]

"So, I didn't pay a lot of attention to those recommendations – even though they came from people with good hearts, they just weren't all that helpful."

This falls in line with Brandon's comments during the press conference that "all that glitters is not gold" when it comes to some coaches and that "the hype or the PR doesn't match the real person." To me, that came off really, really poorly. I was pretty sure everyone was in the same boat—I especially liked the bit at the end that signaled the program's return to barely tolerating its fans—but apparently not. The Wolverine Blog says to give credit to Brandon for "putting himself on the line," which he's certainly done by making his decision on explicitly faith-based grounds. I'm not so much with the crediting bit.

One, attempting to paint the internet's problem with Brady Hoke as a matter of "statistics" is… well, the main statistics people have problems with are "record: 47-50" and "age: 52," neither of which is a particularly advanced metric. 

Two: does this relate in any way to Brandon's passive-aggressive comments about Jim Harbaugh when Rodriguez was fired? It doesn't seem very leader-y to take shots at the people you interviewed and didn't hire. It implies everyone other than Brady Hoke is not fit to coach Michigan, and attempts to dismiss an awful lot of evidence that suggests Hoke is kind of a desperate hire by saying "you have not sat across the room from this man."

It's not reassuring to envision Brandon's interview process. Braves and Birds blows up this line of reasoning from Brandon real good; suffice it to say that Brady Hoke would have to be vastly worse than expected to sink to the level of Brandon's performance over the last two months. It looks like we'll have tangible evidence of that in two weeks.

EXPLICIT SECTION: Here's the tedious section in which I explain this is not a criticism of Brady Hoke but the athletic director that hired him at a terrible time for not particularly good reasons and told anyone who said words to that effect that they were "uninformed."

I expect Hoke will have enough success at Michigan to stick around a while; when he retires whether he was a good idea is likely to be a matter of heated and interminable debate. I hope I am wrong and am willing to give Hoke the proverbial "chance." I hope that Dave Brandon sets the world record for smug pats on the back when Hoke retires. For the record.

BONUS: Expect to read this disclaimer dozens of times!

Etc.: Brabbs gets good news re: cancer. Indiana: ugh. Rodriguez stuff goes for ridiculous sums.

F5D: Circumstantial Miles Evidence In Two Parts

F5D: Circumstantial Miles Evidence In Two Parts

Submitted by Brian on January 11th, 2011 at 12:08 PM

Part one: LSU officials "reacting quickly" to Les Miles meeting with Michigan officials apparently did not so much happen:

First, there was no late-night meeting with Miles and LSU AD Joe Alleva or other high-ranking university officials in an effort to convince the coach to stay. After Miles’ meeting with Michigan AD Dave Brandon, Miles went home.

Part two: Adam Rittenberg reports via his Big 12 compatriot that Les Miles is not in Dallas despite being scheduled to speak at 3 PM. If he is taking the job, he would be at Michigan's scheduled meeting with the players at 4.

UPDATE: Flight tracking suggests that Miles isn't in Dallas yet but probably will be. This flight leaves essentially now:

For what it is worth, a twin prop is scheduled to go from Baton Rouge to Love field in Dallas at 11:12 CST. The plane is owned by a Med transport company, but is most likely chartered by LSU for the trip. Plane is making a 11 minute flight from Lafayette to Baton Rouge prior to the Dallas trip.

Either that or Les is flying American Eagle to DFW. Yeah right.

[HT to Kirk Fauri.] So… if the meeting gets moved that's a good sign. If it doesn't, not so much.

UPDATE II: LSU sources at their Rivals site and some local radio station are reporting Miles will stay at LSU. Radio is whatever but usually Rivals guys are plugged in. The Rivals stuff is currently paywalled, however, so its unclear how definitive that information is.

Welcome To F5 Day

Welcome To F5 Day

Submitted by Brian on January 11th, 2011 at 9:28 AM


The love boat is not actually the Brandon plane but I can't help what people photoshop and send me

Dave Brandon's plane visited Baton Rouge last night and returned to Ann Arbor. Les Miles has a speaking engagement in Dallas at the AFCA convention. There's a players' meeting scheduled for 4 PM. The athletic department is pushing a contest where you—yes, you—can attend the historic press conference when Michigan's 19th head coach is named, something which will no doubt thrill and delight the assembled throng when you ask "how long is 35 seconds, Les? Is it 35 seconds? Please say it's 35 seconds."

What I'm saying is that today is the day we find out whether or not Les Miles is Michigan's head coach and then either get busy living with it or get busy dying as Dave Brandon flies to San Diego or Auburn or somewhere. As of about 9:30 AM on F5 day, I believe but can't confirm it will be the former. Les Miles will probably be Michigan's coach by the end of the day.

While it's possible this is all a rumor storm built from the obvious plane movement and obvious candidacy of Miles, there are many, many people saying it's a done deal ranging from Tiger Droppings posters to serious-seeming but not confirmed people in the inbox. Circumstantially, if Brandon met with Miles and didn't immediately return to Dallas—the place with more football coaches per capita than anywhere else in the world right now—or headed to some other place containing a coach of interest he's probably got his man. I can't imagine an athletic director not working around the clock on January 11th when he's got an open head coaching job and little time to fill it. A return to Ann Arbor should mean something is done.

While that could be Miles not working out and Brandon agreeing to a fallback plan with someone he met with in Dallas, I think it's Miles.

Miles On Michigan

Miles On Michigan

Submitted by Brian on January 10th, 2011 at 1:56 PM

Via mgovideo:

The critical bit:

"I'm told that we will speak, that time and place has not been identified," said Miles, a former Wolverines assistant coach and player. "It's hard for me to speculate to the substance of the meeting."

That is a deeply weird statement, but this is Les Miles after all.

A World Held Hostage: Day Six

A World Held Hostage: Day Six

Submitted by Brian on January 10th, 2011 at 12:08 PM

ALERT THE MEDIA… Er. Nevermind. I see you're on top of that.

Hello. How are you? Getting used to the idea that limbo is you permanent home? Thinking about buying a couch?

Miles-date. The Louisiana media details what they know about Miles's movements over the past couple days and where he'll be in the next couple:

Saturday morning, Miles flew from Dallas to Baton Rouge with the LSU team and official party, and was seen entering the LSU football complex.

Vincent said Miles is scheduled to fly back to Dallas on Tuesday, where he is slated to deliver a speech during the American Football Coaches Association convention. Miles is then scheduled to fly immediately back to Baton Rouge, Vincent said.

This would seem to blow up the rumor that Miles was actually in Ann Arbor over the weekend. Miles showing up in Dallas would be a convenient place for the Dominos plane edition of David Brandon* to interview Miles, if he hasn't already, and the News says they will talk then.

Local folk are asserting the end result is likely to be similar to last time according to the proverbial "person close to the situation":

"My impression is that he'd like to say 'No,' without saying 'No,'" he said. "He doesn't want to be on the list of people who turned him (Brandon) down."

Former Michigan recruit and LSU commit Trai Turner was pinged by the RBs coach, who told him "there wasn't anything to worry about" and added that "from everything else I hear, Coach Miles is staying," but they're always staying until they aren't. Miles is currently being battered by questions he won't answer at a press conference assembled to announce Patrick Peterson's departure for the NFL, so expect word of some evasive non-denials shortly.

Plane-date. So the plane above went to Baton Rouge and people said it was carrying organs and should not be paid attention to, then it went a bunch of places seemingly relevant to key players in the Michigan coaching search and then it went back to Baton Rouge and people were like "dude, this plane should be paid attention to." FWIW, I'm getting more emails about who or what is on that plane that say it shouldn't be paid attention to because its owner rented it out for three months. (Whoever rented it out must really love screwing with Michigan fans on the internet.)

It's uncertain if the thing actually is doing anything other than providing Baton Rouge TV stations with gold, Jerry, gold. The coincidence is a little much, but on the other hand if you were flying around the country trying to have clandestine conversations with a currently-employed college head coach you'd have to be epically stupid to do so in your blinged-out winged helmet learjet.

A not quite entirely pointless Gruden update. I'd completely forgotten about this but an emailer pinged me back in early December, stating that he was close to someone in the Gruden loop and that Michigan had contacted him to gauge interest in the job. The result was "strong" interest. I decided not to mention something seemingly so off the wall since Gruden comes up in literally every coaching search that happens and Rodriguez seemed like he'd have a job in 2011. But here we are.

That source updates by saying he can confirm Gruden has spoken with Brandon and there is still "interest." I'm not sure if this is Gruden's MO or a genuine candidacy. But he is the guy with the second-most buzz at the moment, behind Miles but seemingly ahead of Hoke or anyone else. As Jennifer Hammond suggested, take it with a grain of salt.

*[Ablauf on Brandon's location: "That's a good question. I'm on a need-to-know basis."]

Where In The World Is David Brandon?

Where In The World Is David Brandon?

Submitted by Brian on January 9th, 2011 at 3:39 PM

The plane that may or may not have David Brandon and the crabby ghost of Don Canham aboard has returned to Baton Rouge, landing about fifteen minutes ago. Tiger Droppings scrambled F-16s


…but they apparently didn't make it. Meanwhile, the other plane that may or may not have Dave Brandon aboard is in Dallas, where a coaching convention is going on. So either Les Miles is approaching done or Brandon is in Dallas interviewing anyone who looks at him funny and the winged helmet plane heading to Baton Rouge every hour on the hour is just a bizarre coincidence.

Or both. It's likely that UM reps of some variety are in both places, so Les Miles is in play and they're talking but nothing is certain so they're trying to scout out backup plans.