So we did the meet and greet Q&A thing, and other than the liveblog portion being pretty much a disaster, A+++ would do again. I couldn't type fast enough to keep up with all the good info in the Q&A so below I've written up those answers plus some we answered after the fact via email.
We're tentatively talking another one the Friday night before the Notre Dame game, so calendar that. If you're coming in from out of town, Jared of Sports Power Weekends, who sponsored this whole thing, mentioned he's putting together a trip for that weekend that includes tickets for the game and a private tour of the Big House before we do drinks and ALL THE SHANE MORRIS.
Some things went way better than expected and other things not so much. Didn't go well: We had no way to plug our mic into the speaker system, fortunately remembering just in time that bartenders have friends with guitar amplifiers. The other thing that could have gone better is we forgot to warn Brian that Jehu Chesson was in the audience before your favorite blogger launched into his heuristic reasoning as to why Amara Darboh would be more effective this year because Chesson is still a waif.
New heuristic: Chesson sitting = Heiko standing minus an inch.
Did go well: lots of luminaries showed up. Players current and former included Chesson, Countess, Donovan Warren, and John Duerr. An incomplete list of bloggers: Bryan Mac (aka BiSB), MGoPhotographers Eric Upchurch and Bryan Fuller, Burgeoning Wolverine Star, Lloyd Brady, M-Wolverine, Craig Ross, and LSAClassof2000. Epic shirts: Heiko's bubble screen smile, and a Branch-Morelli sweatshirt.
In things that surpassed all expectations, let me being with actual nicest guy in the universe Marlin Jackson himself. Walking out of the game to his car took about 25 minutes because he signed every hat, helmet, t-shirt or whatever thing put before him. We talked NBA decisions, how the Jake Butt TD was on Jarrod Wilson's as-yet-unadvanced field awareness, and that the biggest difference with this staff is they "teach football."
After being introduced by Brian as "the man who still has Reggie Williams in his back pocket," to kick off the Q&A Marlin talked about his Fight for Life Foundation. He was candid about his youth: Jackson grew up in the projects with a mother addicted to drugs and a father he never met. As you can imagine this isn't the best way to learn things like accountability, the value of an education, or even your own value and that of others. Marlin learned these things through Michigan; it's the goal of his foundation to give similarly underprivileged kids the opportunities he received because of his athletic talents.
Fight for Life runs three programs: Field of Dreams (link) is an in-school and after school program that basically helps get the kids back up to speed with their classmates. Seal the Deal (hyperlink)is a series of leagues and football camps for youth through high school with an educational/character-building component. R.A.P. (reach out and access your peers – url) is an SEL* program that gets kids to open up through, e.g. a discussion of their future aspirations or by presenting a paper on their favorite song lyrics. They need to raise about $200k per year to fund these programs.
* Social and Emotional Learning, the spread offense of education. Full context is linked above but you may cognate as learning that's the opposite of 'Another Brick in the Wall.'
We then talked about things like that one year the Colts paired Manning with a real defense, which receivers were the hardest to cover, and his impressions on the young defensive players at Michigan today. That after the jump. But first here's three generations of next-Woodsons:
Within minutes of posting the Rapture Guy gif last week, a friend alerted me that she did, in fact, know Rapture Guy, and could set me up with an interview—that is, as soon as Rapture Guy returned from Mardi Gras. Clearly, this would be an interesting interview, and on Wednesday evening I got the chance to sit down and chat with the star of the latest MGoMeme.
Rapture Guy has chosen to remain anonymous, and given whose opinion he sought on the matter, I think we can all respect that decision.
"Lloyd Brady is actually a friend of mine, so I know his real name," Rapture Guy told me. "When someone posted on my Facebook wall, 'you’re the new Lloyd Brady,' I was like, ohhhhhh god. I said to him, 'you did it right. I’m going to follow that idea. I don’t want my name out there.'"
He was kind enough to give us a few background details anyway. The man you see above is a junior at the Ford School of Public Policy, as well as a Chinese minor, and he hails from New Jersey—that's where the instinctive fist-pumping comes from, he says.
After the jump, you can find the entire transcript of our interview—in it, he finds a higher power, compares the Ohio State game to Mardi Gras, explains the magical qualities of his banana suit, and by chance runs into his counter-MGoMeme in New Orleans.
[ASSOC. EDITOR'S NOTE: After discussion with the author, this article has been edited materially from its original form in order to remove parts that could have been damaging to someone's reputation based only on hearsay and a grainy gif, and which took attention away from rapture guy. I want to thank the readers who argued with me and turned me around on this--Ace asked both Brian and me to approve the original--and I apologize for having to kill off their comments in order to follow their wisdom.]
With one night game and two ESPN fan reaction shots "Facepalm guy" made his way into our MGohearts in 2011. But who can forget the one fan whose visage got us through the years previous? Six Zero wins a Diarist of the Week for reviving the MGoProfiles to introduce us to the original fan we obsess over, one Lloyd Brady.
Because this is college football we cannot simply declare a champion of fans. No. We need a regional championship game. Then we need a national championship game. And then maybe a Plus One just in case Victor Shirtless (below) is the real deal. Yes, it's that week again. Not bowl week, but bitching about the bowls week.
What an alternative to the BCS would have to look like:
Any viable alternative to the BCS, and by viable I mean palatable to ADs and school presidents, needs to do the following things:
1. Preserve the bowl system
2. Not extend the season far beyond its already extended point
3. Not threaten to engulf the regular season by morphing into an actual tournament
And lo the diarists had solutions:
POSTSEASON REFORM THE FIRST: Eight teams, ends January 21st. Gajensen's is an 8-team, 3-round playoff that confuses the hell out of everyone in order to try to appease everyone. I think the Top 4 BCS teams are automatic qualifiers and the rest goes down the line of conference champs.
POSTSEASON REFORM THE SECOND: Sixteen teams, and I'm 90% sure this guy likes the names of the Big Ten's divisions because he has a 7-step plan. Bluestreakexpands this to 16 teams, with automatic qualifiers for every conference (Join the Sun Belt!) but a consistently weak conference loses their autobid (bye Sun Belt). He gets rid of some regular season games to make room so Michigan plays Ohio State in early November. There are tiers called "Champions" and "Contenders" and…this idea has lost me.
POSTSEASON REFORM THE TRAID: Six-teams, Round 1 at home instead of conf. champ games, Round 2 in the Bowls, Championship in the Plus 1 game a week later. Wolfman81starts off by getting rid of conference championship games, and shows very good reasoning (they're more apt to repeat a game already decided than actually determine a champion). He makes an even stronger case about the BCS rules as it stands being a patchwork of reactions to things that went wrong before, basically an entire ship made of caulked holes and no foresight. The he suggests the Brian playoffs, end diary. I want this guy to write more diaries.
POSTSEASON REFORM THE ONE AFTER TRAID: Get rid of conference divisions but still have conference championships.Vasav read Wolfman's thing and then tried to replace the conference championships we just got rid of with a system that isn't very clear except don't replay games. You're still having 11-1 teams needing to play 9-3 teams to win their conference championship.
POSTSEASON REFORM THE MINE: Instead of an official conference championship game have a "Showcase" game that matches the best two teams from each division that haven't played each other yet. Occasionally you'll actually get to have a championship game. This year MSU would get the Rose Bowl bid and Michigan could play Wisconsin over an almost certain BCS bid. No automatic anythings: the conference chooses to game. If you ever do need to settle the score between two teams that didn't play each other, this becomes the Big Ten championship trophy.
Bwgrudt1484 notes that the Big Ten is playing 5 of our 8 bowl games within an hour's distance of our opponents' home fields (EDIT: within the home state) of our opponents. What else is new?
The Year In Review (Like How We Beat Ohio State)
Some of your favorite weeklies recap the year that was following Michigan's season-ending defeat of Ohio State, not counting the bowl game that comes after the game where we beat Ohio State. First, I bet you're wondering, after we beat Ohio State, what the final turnover margins and effects were for Michigan. Enjoy Life shows the year at +6, ranked 26, which is a GERG-to-Greg level recovery. A new metric that measures fumble recovery rates also shows this may be a little bit lucky:
Also abnormally lucky: 2006. Brian is convinced this is random except for offensive experience and pressure but I believe in non-random parts that come from things like good pursuit angles and attacking holes. When you don't touch the other team they don't fumble as much; good defense gives you more chances to knock something loose.
Maize_in_spartyland has grades for everybody. I mean everybody in the Big Ten. What's with failing Indiana? Don't they at least deserve a "thank you for participating" ribbon or something?
CRex got to the end of Three & Out and wrote a long thought on Carr and living up to Bo—pretty much exactly what you were thinking and feeling after reading Three & Out. Like so:
That's what we need to take away from the RR era. Our dad [Bo] died. Uncle Lloyd turned out be a distant and cold paternal figure. Uncle Rodriguez went through a rough time and had a meltdown. Uncle Martin was busy clicking buttons in excel. So a lot of the fanbase regressed from Michigan Men into bitchy children who said mean things on the radio or wrote them, despite the negative impact they had on The Team.
That was similar to my 3&O reaction except I also found myself wondering "I wonder if you can buy those Twin City socks on the internet?" Turns out a.) you can, and b.) THEY REALLY ARE THAT AWESOME AND I'M WEARING THEM RIGHT NOW (not yours Rimington winner David Molk).
For recruiting junkies, Ace put up the post-Darboh recruiting rankings. Ohio State got a 3-star from Florida I guess Urban knew and Adolphus Washington. Nebraska, Michigan, and Penn State had decommits.
And hockey plays Michigan State this weekend. Yesman2221 has the weekly preview but the short version is Michigan hasn't been playing as well as we'd like and MSU is coming off of a good series against the Gophers. Then again they're kind of like Michigan (one good defensive pairing then guh), except without a real head coach.
So, that's it for the diaries. Best of the board after a jump I guarantee you want to make.
Set aside the fact that the coach complaining about a last-second layup left his starters in with his team up 50 points against Michigan once. Look past the game two years ago in which Durrell Summers threw down a dunk with 11 seconds left and the shot clock turned off in a 17-point game. Try to forget that the last second layup put Michigan up seven, not 19, and came on a possession that started with 16 seconds on the clock in a two possession game, and that Darius Morris had passed up a similarly open layup with near-disastrous results earlier in the year. Squint hard and pretend that Michigan State doesn't currently features a high master of on-court whine and trash-talk in Draymond Green, that Kalin Lucas didn't chuck the ball at Morris after his layup, that Lucas wasn't the first guy to open his mouth in the handshake line and probably wasn't offering salutations to Morris's mother.
Ignore the many reasons why the epic post-gamemeltdownabout "class" currently underway on the Michigan State internets is ridiculous. If you can't—understandable—at least run off somewhere else to get your fill and then come back when you're ready.
That dispensed with: Michigan State basketball fans, even the elaborately reasonable ones, are whining about class on the internet. Since a Vick isn't involved, this can only mean one thing: they lost, and it wasn't that close, and they can't say anything else. Basketball! The game with the ball that you bounce and attempt to throw through a hoop and if you're Michigan you never do it quite as much as Michigan State, certainly not twice in one season. It is in this sport that a Michigan team with no seniors and approximately 45% freshman usage has reduced the Michigan State fanbase to a blubbering collection of brahs with zeroes on their chest looking up the Queensberry Rules and fainting at rough language. In other news, Michigan fans did the same after a football game in fall and earth's magnetic poles have flipped.
Michigan didn't even play that well. They shot poorly and Stu Douglass took two NBA threes for no reason and every shot that wasn't a delicately executed easy bucket was a flung prayer. But State played worse, especially right at the beginning, and most of the game was played in a six to eight point range that would have been comfortable if we weren't talking about a team that Michigan hadn't swept since Charles Woodson was walking around with a rose in his teeth and another that had seen simply massive leads against tourney no-hopers Northwestern and Indiana dwindle alarmingly down the stretch.
But after the usual dwindling and a brief moment of alarm Michigan just felt… better. While they had to use Evan Smotrycz as a center again and Blake McLimans made a cameo appearance they didn't have walk-ons on the court for most of the game and didn't spend offensive possessions running the three man weave in a desperate attempt to generate something other than a long two off a curl screen. Michigan's best players seemed better than Michigan State's, and so did the role players.
To get to the previous sentence from hoping for double digit wins in the preseason and staring at a 1-6 Big Ten record before the first MSU matchup is almost incomprehensible. I spent most of the second half of the game at Breslin terrified that this would be the moment the vastly superior Spartans blew the doors off and showed us our hopes were foolish. If wasn't exactly serene on Saturday*, second half thoughts were at least things like "don't blow this" and "OMG Hardaway." When the Spartans cut it to two, Michigan treated them like Indiana or Northwestern by throwing down a dunk and immediately pushing the margin back out. Michigan didn't make a whole lot of shots—Jordan Morgan is the only guy coming out of the State game with a high FG%—but it didn't matter. Somewhere, there is a commentator talking about how good teams win even when they don't play well who does not know he's actually talking about Michigan.
Yes: good. No qualifiers. Right now they are good. Since the last Michigan State game Michigan has won eight of eleven. Two of the losses were by two and one to tournament teams; the other was by nine to a one-seed on the road. Only the Iowa game qualifies as an escape—Michigan's kind of unlucky to have won only eight of eleven. They got up from an all-time gut punch to beat Minnesota and MSU and have probably punched their ticket no matter what happens in the Big Ten Tournament.
They're good. Full stop. They'll be better next year. Anyone who can remember a time in which the future was brighter for Michigan basketball that hasn't been vacated in retrospect is probably thinking of the first time they saw Glen Rice shoot.
Kalin Lucas said something to Darius Morris. Whether Morris actually did or not, the rivalry's legends will now include the fact-type substance that he responded "get the fuck off my court."
Depending on what side of the rivalry you're on that's either a shocking violation of the Queen's English or something you've been waiting ten years for a Michigan player to say. But if interpreting that comment is a matter of perspective, what happened after is not: Kalin Lucas got the fuck off Darius Morris's court. Again.
*[In part because I was watching the game at 1 AM because I had been travelling literally the whole day; by the time I got home I could have seen my grandmother and thought she was a loud, stupid, slow person I wished did not exist. Air travel from obscure locations inflates your natural level of misanthropy 1000%.]
Official restatement of trash-talk policy. Entirely in favor. Makes game spicier for fans without doing anything negative other than spawning I'm-looking-over-my-hornrims comments about "ugly scenes" from newspaper folk. I dislike opposing players who are annoying, but like that I dislike them, if that makes any sense. I miss David Boston and think Ohio State fans secretly love Mike Hart.
Michigan's sweep and Morris's layup/swearin' raises the stakes for next year, and there's nothing bad in that.
The great disaster. Here it is as captured by WXYZ:
Newspapers see an "ugly scene," I see games worth investing in. Seriously: Rollerball. Too bad Lucas won't be around.
Lucas took exception to whatever Morris yelled at the visiting team, following his game-ending coast-to-coast layup with the Spartans appearing to lay off. Lucas responded by throwing the ball at him, causing a small tussle that Michigan's Jordan Dumars broke up as the teams shook hands.
“I'm not for that, so I'll straighten that out," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said after the game. "But at the same time, going for a layup with three seconds left — (Morris) talked a lot of stuff all game, including at our place, so maybe he deserved it.”
"Going for a layup with three seconds left"—what a hypocritical asshat. Again: Durrell Summers dunk to go up 19 two years ago. Criticizing another player for talking trash when you have the team you do—hypocritical asshat.
Paint by mouthguard. The other side of the now-infamous picture of Hardaway after the Wisconsin game:
Oh snap. I don't think MSU AD Mark Hollis's tweet in the aftermath of the game about a "great program" being preferable to a "great season" had anything to do with Michigan. (People who do have lowered their expectations well beyond reason.) So whatever… except for one of the great zingers in the history of MGoBlog:
If you haven't gotten your fill of Lloyd Brady versus Michigan State, BlueBarron's thread has you covered.
Emergence. Everyone's focused on Hardaway exploding over the second half of the Big Ten season—and with good reason—but another player is quietly emerging as we move along here: Matt Vogrich. Vogrich is never going to be a star but you've probably noticed a few defensive MANBOUNDS in the last couple games that came from a surprising source. After one against State the amiably incompetent color guy called Vogrich "Novak," which was wrong but at least understandably so. Vogrich hasn't seemed like a huge liability on defense and is currently shooting 40% from 3—48% in the Big Ten. As Michigan adds slashers like Brundidge and Burke and hopefully gets more driving action from Hardaway and Smotrycz there will be more open threes to be had, and Vogrich is probably the best guy on the roster to take them.
Smotrycz. Obviously had himself a day despite not getting any rebounds. One of his fast break layups was a gift but he made the other one by poking the ball out; his fake and drop step on Roe was Morgan-like. Also hit a three. He obviously does not have a long term future at the five so the biggest thing Michigan needs from him is a leap forward on defense.
Nosesplosion. The Lucas "intentional foul" that gave Michigan the ball and two free throws was a major turning point in the game. Some bits on it. One: Lucas nailed LLP in a previous game. Two: after the Manny Harris debacle against Purdue the Big Ten has been pretty consistent about their reaction to similar plays. No ejections but the opponent gets two shots and the ball. Lucas's elbow got above his neck and nailed a 6'5" guy in the face—it was clear as day that they were going to call the harsher version of the foul. Three: they really should change the lingo from "intentional," which confuses everyone, to something like "severe."
Morgan. Have we not been giving him enough credit for his FG%? He gets a lot of help, sure, but he's got that baby hook and a variety of other shots that turn Morris passes into baskets. He's not just a dunk machine. He's been hesitant from time to time this year and has spun into trouble some; I think the improvement we get from him is not in efficiency but time on the court—must stop taking nothing fouls—and usage.
Considering where the Wolverines started -- getting blown out by teams in Belgium in the summer and being picked to finish close to the Big Ten cellar -- and considering this win came over a hated in-state rival that's dominated Michigan for a decade-plus ... well, let's just say it was a good day for the Maize and Blue. Enjoy it, folks.