The BLACK PIT of NEGATIVE EXPECTATIONS Comment Count

Brian September 3rd, 2018 at 1:55 PM

[Patrick Barron]

9/1/2018 – Michigan 17, Notre Dame 24 – 0-1

Ah so it's this bit again. The bit where some people pick up on a factoid and yell about it a lot and other people yell at them about it. The bit where everyone's mad and trying to take it out on someone.

I mean, I get it. Any properly scientific assessment of which football program it is the least fun to be a fan of will find a way to exclude Kansas for not actually being a football program and stick Michigan at the top. Nobody got into this to fight about the level of doomed we are every 3-4 years, never beat anyone of consequence, etc.

But I don't want to do it again. I've done this three times before, once per coaching era this blog has seen the end of, and I've done all the stuff already: preaching patience, gallows humor, being legitimately angry, calling for various heads, writing about mattresses. I don't really feel like doing it all over again. I don't care to evaluate the precise moment at which a person should be fired, or to point out that people are being ridiculous for wanting a person to be fired, or to create big lists of the next person to get fired. Neither do I want to sagely counsel the fanbase from the Tower Of Reasonability. This is not content it feels worthwhile to produce.

If you're mad, fine. If you're mad at the people who are mad, fine. I'm not going to argue with you.

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Let's talk about the

BLACK PIT of NEGATIVE EXPECTATIONS

The BPONE is a state of mind in which no part of a football game is enjoyable because it is merely a prelude to some pratfall made more embarrassing and or painful by whatever minimal, temporary successes are experienced prior to the pratfall. Thus a kick return touchdown—that rarest butterfly, one the game is steadily trying to erase—during which your author's only reaction was internal and, I quote, "whoop-de-damn-do."

Going down 14-0 more or less immediately by blowing coverages on third down, getting beat over the top by battleship WRs, and having a shoulda-been interception ripped away by a 5'10" guy immediately puts you in the pit. The general shape of the offense provides a steady stream of pit reinforcement, to the point where my Twitter timeline's reaction to Michigan providing a vague sense of hope at the end of the game was "I hate myself for having this hope." This feeling of cynical dread was vindicated by the sack/strip that had to have been coming and did indeed come.

The more time one spends in the BPONE, the more permeable its membrane. Last year large swathes of the Michigan fanbase descended into it after Michigan had an extra point blocked. At the time Michigan led 20-14. Scoring the rest of the way was 17-0 Ohio State. When entering the BPONE is clearly a good choice, future opportunities to mitigate emotional harm by being miserable in the present are more likely to be taken.

The flaw in BPONE operations is of course the impossibility of mining any enjoyment out of your experience. BPONE sufferers assume a football game is a negative emotional event and spread those negative emotions out more broadly. Only if the team should actually come back and win will any regret be felt, and pffffffffft. I'm in the pit, baby! I know for a stone cold fact that a punt snap will somehow lodge itself in the facemask of the punter. I feel it in my bones that the one time we jump a route in this game the ensuing interception will bang off the defensive back's hands and lodge itself in the facemask of the opposition 50 yards downfield.

Tweeting from the BPONE is inadvisable and very, very difficult to avoid.

Checking your mentions will significantly deepen the pit and is likely to lead to BPONE-influenced tweeting, which is inadvisable. In fact, communicating in any form from the BPONE is inadvisable.

Alcohol will not improve anything but will be consumed in quantity anyway.

At some point repeated defeats will create an OMINPRESENT BLACK PIT of NEGATIVE EXPECTATIONS. OBPONE is a severe condition with consequences such as writer's block, writer's block, and writer's block. The only cure for OBPONE is a new season, but yo-yo-ing in and out of OBPONE makes individual occurrences of BPONE more severe.

Escaping this cycle of cynicism and recrimination requires John Beilein, who is not available for football purposes.

[After THE JUMP: some stuff]

AWARDS

Known Friends And Trusted Agents Of The Week

-2535ac8789d1b499[1]you're the man now, dog

#1 Chase Winovich. Winovich looked like Michigan was trying to block him for most of the day, picking up 3.5 TFLs and a sack. He also forced the errant throw on Brandon Watson's interception. His roughing the passer call was weak at best.

#2 Ambry Thomas. Touchdowns are precious.

#3 Devin Bush. Displayed his sideline to sideline ability with frequency and had another rabid squirrel sack. Maybe at fault on a Wimbush scramble.

Honorable mention: The receivers were pretty good.

KFaTAotW Standings.

Who's Got It Better Than Us Of The Week

Kickoff return was kind of sweet though. 

Honorable mention: Uh. Winovich things?

imageMARCUS HALL EPIC DOUBLE BIRD OF THE WEEK.

Every pass blocking incident.

Honorable mention: Hawkins gets the ball yoinked; Hill gets beat over the top. Many incidents where the DEs got around the edge but the DTs did little to nothing. Dropped FG hold.

[After THE JUMP: why]

OFFENSE

 

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[Fuller]

What were you doing in practice? Was it football? I feel like it couldn't have been football if Jon Runyan Jr told the media that he was able to win 8 of 10 times against Rashan Gary and Chase Winovich. Runyan won approximately 0 of 10 times against DEs against Notre Dame, once giving up a sack by letting a DL by him to the left when the line was sliding to the left.

I thought this was going to be bad—the tackles got a 1 in the season preview—but even I am shocked by how bad it was in the cold light of morning. Runyan looked so bad it boggles the mind that any amount of practice would not have turned up a better player more or less immediately. It boggles the mind that Michigan was so desperate to replace him last year that they played Nolan Ulizio and Juwann Bushell-Beatty over him and he was still the locked-in left tackle starter since the beginning of fall camp, and a locked-in starter at right tackle even before that. It boggles the mind that Michigan didn't even think of trying Ben Bredeson at tackle, that James Hudson didn't blow past Runyan in spring, that Jalen Mayfield didn't do so in fall.

Maybe Runyan just had the worst three hours of his life at the wrong time and it'll get better. I can't imagine that actually being the case. Runyan is a redshirt junior. He's done most of his developing already. That performance was the equivalent of John O'Korn's start against Indiana in 2016. He's got too far to go, no reason to expect he'll get there, and not enough time left for a fashion makeover.

He'll start next week. We'll see how long that lasts.

Under the circumstances. Patterson's first start went about as well as possible given his pass protection. I don't know where this stat comes from but it feels about right:

Patterson wasn't able to go deep except once, hit that, and completed two-thirds of his passes for 7.6 YPA. The interception wasn't great but we've seen enough assaulted QBs for one lifetime; in terms of bad decisions per angry person trying to kill you Patterson did well.

Dylan McCaffrey's cameo was fine. There was a palpable difference in arm strength between McCaffrey and Patterson, and one of that seemed like it would be relevant if McCaffrey needed to throw anything more than ten yards, which IIRC he did not. Harbaugh mentioned that he was still growing into his frame and needed time to build that velocity. That was apparent.

Where is Chris Evans? Apparently healthy but got two carries to Karan Higdon's 21. I thought Higdon did about as well as could be expected save for one cutback he made but not quite fast enough to escape the last linebacker before he hit the safety level; I still thought we'd see something closer to parity.

Wide receivers looked pretty good, at least. Nico Collins straight up went by one of ND's touted outside corners on his long reception; Grant Perry was his usual self when people remembered to throw it to him; DPJ was able to get open pretty frequently.

DEFENSE

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[Fuller]

FFS. A shut-down second half brought the defense's performance up to acceptable-ish if you flip one event: Brad Hawkins losing out on an armpunt to a guy named "Finke," which has to be up there for least intimidating WR names in history. Even with that ND didn't get over 300 yards by much (they were at 339); what they did get was mostly Wimbush scrambling around and those deep thunks to tall guys.

Wimbush scrambling around. Michigan started this game with Lawrence Marshall and Bryan Mone, which set two solid years of Mike Dwumfour hype on fire. He and Solomon rotated in but it felt like the former two were starters in both name and snaps, and that's a whole different world. Specifically in this game it was a world where when one of Michigan's DEs came around the corner there was a big gap between said DE and the DT to his side of the line, allowing Wimbush to step up and either run or throw.

If the DEs were getting around at ten yards that's on the DEs. If they were getting around at 7 or 8 that's on the DTs. It felt like it was almost all on the DTs. You don't expect much pass rush from them; you do expect them to at least push the pocket closed so that those easy broken field plays don't occur.

Deep thunks to tall guys. There were only two, actually, chunks of 26 and 28 yards, one over Hill. Hill's was a little alarming. He was beaten clean in a way we didn't see all of last year and was interfering in a 15-is-better-than-TD way. It didn't happen again, at least.

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[Bryan Fuller]

Why? The other deep thunk saw Noah Furbush in one on one coverage 30 yards downfield against a WR on third and nine. This is getting far too cute when you have the CB depth Michigan does and can expect organic pass rush from your ends.

Targeting roulette N/A. Not even targeting roulette could help Josh Metellus, who was deservedly booted for a helmet to helmet hit on a defenseless WR. Would he have made the Finke play? Probably not—BPODE—but maybe!

A genuine battle. Devin Gil and Josh Ross both played a bunch of snaps, so that was not balderdash about a tight position battle. Ross managed to out-tackle Gil 5-3, FWIW.

MISCELLANEOUS

Don't make me think about Hoke. Michigan's fourth quarter in this game was mostly spent down two touchdowns and mostly spent without any urgency whatsoever. The inability to get plays off with more than ten seconds on the playclock with under eight minutes left in the game is extremely disturbing and, yes, Hoke-ish. It speaks to a lack of organization.

Comments

CarrIsMyHomeboy

September 3rd, 2018 at 2:35 PM ^

No. Showing up to punch the clock is not "impressive." This is his job. He of course can sell mgoblog, divest or retire into something else, but ceasing to put out content that is equal as ever in wit/labor because "Whatever"(TM) is inconsistent with the career he chose and counter to his interest that this blog succeeds, if not in perpetuity, at least plural years further.

SDGeek

September 3rd, 2018 at 4:24 PM ^

"Showing up is 80% of life." - Woody Allen

I love that I always know that Brian will help me process the emotions of a frustrating game - on a holiday, mind you - for free.  It's like having a snarky psychiatrist. Sure, you can expect some barbs, but it's so much better than not having one.

Carris, I don't understand how you get from "wow, that game sucked" to "let's rip on the creator of this blog and one of the best college football writers on the planet." Of course he has an economic incentive to keep writing, but pointing that out is not helpful, and when you air quote the "whatever" it makes it seem like you don't appreciate the work that Brian, Ace, et al put in.

iawolve

September 3rd, 2018 at 5:49 PM ^

I don’t know man. I used to be religious reading this blog, now I struggle to finish content. It has all gotten to f*cked for such a long trend line, the blips don’t outweigh the general direction so it is hard to get any type of excitement. Big Ten titles used to be assumed and clucking was reserved for those years one was not s team has not been close to winning its division since they were created.  Covering this mess has to be difficult as contrasted to basketball which is great since you at least have a chance for success, there seems to be a plan in place. 

ijohnb

September 3rd, 2018 at 7:07 PM ^

The issue really isn’t Brian, it is that our football situation is so statically blah that he doesn’t have much to write.  He had said it all.  Seriously like 1.5 years ago it looked like those days were behind us.  This is causing some unprecedented fan whip lash.  We know what blah looks like, and all of the sudden this is taking on that form pretty hard.  Please.Not.Again, ya know?

AeonBlue

September 3rd, 2018 at 8:04 PM ^

Exactly. My first thought at halftime was "cool, it's 2017 again." It really sucks to know I'm going to have to sit through and watch basically a repeat of last season but thank god I don't have to write about it to make ends meat. I'm sure he's at least considered a copy-paste from an article from last year once or twice in the last 48 hours.

Sure, you can argue that this is what he chose and you take the bad with the good but I think we can all forgive a some cynicism. I'd be more worried if he came out telling us it was all going to be okay.

Mgrad92

September 4th, 2018 at 6:45 AM ^

I'm not saying you don't know how Brian came to do this for a living, but some folks reading your comment might not. Some background:

Few people are able to make a living at what they love. Fewer still can do it in an endeavor that bears little connection to their professional training.

[Brian] Cook, thirty-five, earned bachelor's and master's degrees in computer science from the U-M. But he soon found the corporate world stifling and work as a software engineer "less than meaningful." So in the spring of 2006 he parted ways with his employer--a denouement he suspects was "mutually satisfactory."

Instead, he turned to MGoBlog, which he'd started in 2004 to share his passion for U-M sports. Though then more or less a hobby, the site gave him the legitimacy to start writing for pay, at AOL's FanHouse. By the close of 2006, he figures, he'd made as much as $12,000 online, counting a few stray bucks he made playing Internet poker. And he was happier living in a "crappy apartment" and doing what he cared about than being stuck in the nine-to-five corporate shuffle.

annarborobserver.com, February 2015

I've only been a Michigan sports fan since my freshman year (Michael Taylor, Tony Boles), but I can tell this one spectacularly questionable financial decision by someone with two comp. sci. degrees from Michigan has made it better to be a Michigan fan. He could easily be earning six figures during the day, come home to post bitter comments on someone else's blog, and make it worse. 

jmblue

September 3rd, 2018 at 2:45 PM ^

Personally, a big thing that keeps me invested in this program is that we went on those Europe trips.  I'm really proud of my school's football program for doing that.  Use sports as a vehicle for bigger things that can broaden the players' experiences.

Other college sports do that kind of thing regularly (our basketball team was just in Spain) but football always has to be the most plantation-y sport of all, where players have to be on campus 50 weeks a year and keep their noses to the grindstone.  At about the same time our team was in France, a Maryland player died on the practice field.

I feel like Harbaugh gets the big picture a little more than most coaches.  He wants his guys to have a good overall college experience, not just a football experience.  I feel particularly invested in his success for that reason.  Especially after we've just seen our rival decide that football is all that matters.  Really hope we can turn it around and have a great year.

ぼりヴぃあから帰って来た物

September 3rd, 2018 at 5:35 PM ^

Because I've likely been a fan longer than most of the "experts" here have been alive.

Harbaugh is not a good head coach no matter how much people try to convince themselves otherwise. I've added a lot of meat to my opinions on the matter. He has no offensive identity whatsoever and his teams make mistakes time after time.

A troll would just be ranting and raving and bashing the team. To the contrary, I'm putting it right on the coach's shoulders.

Harbaugh won't be here next year if he doesn't turn it around IMO. There was very little on display yesterday that would lead one to believe it's going to change, either, as the game planning and execution were sorely lacking after a terrible finish to 2017.

ijohnb

September 3rd, 2018 at 7:10 PM ^

Arrangements can be made.  I am not at the point where I want to see him go yet, but if this team tanks he might bolt.  I could see a really bad season making things pretty ugly in AA.  You see a little bit of it with the Braylon stuff.  If we are legit bad this year it may become unpleasant enough that he just saves everybody the drama and moves on.  That is basically what happened in San Francisco.  It got toxic and he really had to go.  Not likely, but very possible.

BallStateWolverine

September 3rd, 2018 at 9:24 PM ^

Yawn...mediocrity and apathy has officially set in. Harbaugh can stay for another 20 years or get fired tomorrow-who cares. I no longer give a crap..its all about money anyway...right? Otherwise the ticket prices to a game would reflect the product being sold and we should be able to buy 4tix for 20 bucks...no pun intended.

ijohnb

September 3rd, 2018 at 8:18 PM ^

I don’t know.  There is a possibility that the ship has kind of sailed on UM football.  It just doesn’t seem like it is getting better no matter who the head coach is.  It looks like it may run deeper than coach.  To where, I’m not quite sure.  If this tanks I’m not sure where go from here.

borninAnnArbor

September 3rd, 2018 at 4:13 PM ^

I have a brother who is a Michigan State fan, co workers who are Ohio State fans, and know other people who are fans of teams in the SEC.  They all enjoy watching Michigan loose.  I have almost nothing left to say to them.  Their new favorite comment is about if I think Harbaugh is on the hot seat.  I don't because who else could they get that would be better.  I appreciated Brian's article because that has been my attitude for a while.  I watch games waiting for the inevatable oncoming dred.   In Sunday School, we ran accross Psalm 94:3, "How long, oh Lord, will you allow the wicked to gloat."  I felt that was a question about my fandom.  

Still, despite all of this I have hope that things will get better.  Michigan didn't score much but it seemed the offense is better then last year.  I am holding out hope they can right the ship, grow, and end the year 11-1. Realisticly, I could also see them going 7-5. I would just like them to beat MSU and OSU.  In the meantime my only responce to the naysayers is to wonder if it would be worth it to Michigan for them to lie, cheat, cover up injustices, pay players, and lack accountability in the name of winning.

NateVolk

September 3rd, 2018 at 4:47 PM ^

For better for worse (I say absolutely better), the media wouldn't let Michigan do that without full throttle coverage and constant nagging questions aimed directly at whichever coach was in charge. We see neither of those things happening in very troubling situations at other schools. 

Could argue all day about the why? the differing standard exists, but it does.

Harbaugh is conscious of that difference like he was at Stanford. With the Europe trips, the flexibility for players to choose their desired major,  and the way he's set up the academic support, he's tried to build off what he might perceive as an edge. Or he simply sees compromising a high ethical standard as totally non-negotiable. 

It's a big part of why he deserves the longest of ropes here beyond the stellar track record of success at other stops.

I'll now cede the floor to whiny responses about having to win and having dubious program ethics is fine if you win. 

schreibee

September 3rd, 2018 at 9:32 PM ^

BornInAA & Nate both make some great points. I think one of the best is that for all the ppl saying (even if only in their own hearts) that they'd take a little cheating & low standards to return to greatness, remember Stretchgate coverage. 

Part of "The Michigan Difference" is that everyone- friends & foes of UofM alike- are very invested in seeing the high standards & ethics upheld. The haters maybe even more!

No coach is coming in here & lowering admission standards, filling a player parking lot with Land Rovers, allowing a culture of sexual violence we've seen at psu, msu, osu. NOT happening! 

Now, you show me a coach who's proven be can win at EVERY level, and do it with impeccable & admirable standards that we can get to come to Michigan & I'm ready to start the "show me" countdown. 

My counter is our current coach fits ALL those criteria, and let's give him the rest of this season before we fire up the torches! Because the alternatives are few, and possibly NONE!

 

SpilledMilk

September 3rd, 2018 at 6:04 PM ^

Understandable.

Although, I don't think "who could we get to replace him that could do any better" isn't a valid excuse for continued mediocrity. I'm not saying that he should be fired but I will say that there are good coaches out there who would love to come in to AA and breathe new life into this program. This is Michigan football we're talking about damnit. 

Reader71

September 3rd, 2018 at 2:18 PM ^

I’ve been relatively high on Runyan, but boy was he overmatched.

Hopefully, NDs ends are the best he’ll face for a while and he can handle the Westerns and Indianas of the world.

TrueBlue2003

September 3rd, 2018 at 2:47 PM ^

But does it matter if he can handle them?  We're going to win those games if we don't even attempt a pass anyway.

He (or someone) needs to be functional against Wisconsin, PSU, MSU, OSU.  It seems like they have to accept that a fourth year player is what he is and give the younger guys reps against the Westerns and IUs of the world in hopes that they can figure it out in time for the big boys.