Dear Diary Has the Old Answer Comment Count

Seth May 1st, 2015 at 12:23 PM


Our resident young obsessive WD found a list of all of Michigan's night games, dating back to—wait, 1944? That's right—in 2010 Greg Dooley of MVictors and Greg Kinney, one of the unsung heroes of HTTV (he finds us all those amazing old photos), pulled out details on one of the most unremarked remarkable events in American history.

It's remarkable for the context. This is World War II, remember. The invasion of Europe was stalled while waiting to see if Market Garden could get them into Germany via Holland, and otherwise the lines were about where they'd been entrenched in WWI. On September 6, with decreasing threat of invasion, the United States lifted the blackout rules, to a dim-out. Certainly any meaning of "dim" did not include shining stadium lights on a facility in a coastal city (Milwaukee) with 20,000 live targets in it. Regardless, Marquette apparently played several night games that year and throughout the war—I'd be interested if any historians know why this was cool when so much else in college football was subsided for the war (e.g. 1944 Michigan had to give up its spinning fullback—the QB of the unbalanced single wing—before the Ohio State game because he was called to duty).

The Michigan game being one of them was even weirder, and had to do with Michigan participating in a navy officer cadet program called V-12, and siphoning off V-12s, who couldn't leave the base for more than 48 hours, as football recruits. The time crunch meant an afternoon or night game, so they went night. They also used a highlighter yellow football (you can see it in the photos) that didn't work out so well: one ensuing newspaper article is the first known use of the term "fumbilitis."


Vincent Smith got so sick of MGoBloggers at the last event at Corner Brewery he decided to do it again at the end of the month:



This could be moot in a week (signs are good but when Kentucky's involved I halve all hope) but it does seem Michigan ought to be feeling the effects now of the championship run in the 2014-2016 classes. Walton, Irvin and Chatman were all pretty heralded recruits but their recruitments happened primarily when Zak and Stu were playing, and Michigan was making decisions on whom to pursue for 2015 before the having subs was crazy.

Things were going great until Kentucky whiffed on their top guys and Calipari started fishing in our waters with bait we won't touch because of rules based in 19th century class ideals.

Michigan appeared to be in pole position for Devin Booker, Luke Kennard, James Blackmon, and Keita Bates-Diop at various points in those recruitments. In most of those cases, we lost out to a program that could promise as much in the tournament run department and not living like a pauper in the interim.

It sucks that none of those guys were Mitch McGary but McGary is a rare bird. Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, etc. can offer the same or better shot at a national championship, and don't have Michigan's squeamishness about paying them. Remember when Beilein was initially targeting those guys they were 100-250 dudes he saw more than that in.

Once you've blown up into a one-and-done, or at least the one-and-done schools are offering you the one-and-done package, the prestige of your degree matters way less than the degree to which your school is willing to accept the fact that you're there to try out for an NBA contract, and act accordingly. Blame the NBA's rule—created to prevent their teams from investing in busts before they've played against higher competition—for turning an age-old hypocrisy into a blatant thing.

It's not a sure thing—did you think we'd be here with Brown?—and once you're past the NBA locks Michigan can play ball. The difference between a top ten pick and, say, Caleb Swanigan, is an important one for the relatively clean programs. MSU got a top-20 post player because Tom Izzo has a long record of developing post players, and if you're starting at #20 your coaching is the difference between 1st or 2nd round grade in one or two (or four) years. If you watched that saga, you saw Purdue start in good shape and get strung along as the cute local school by the end. Beilein looks pretty good for any NBA wing or point guard—we'll never be Kentucky but we're probably not losing guys to Purdue, and that's something.

Etc. Update on 2015 non-conf opponents' springs. VT's secret to beating Ohio State' with 46 Bear concepts is cool, but outdated; Alabama tried that and got Vince Lombardi'd in the face. Worst damn band in the land. If you wanna meet the MGoDog he'll be at softball this weekend.

Your Moment of Zen:

How you like me now?



May 4th, 2015 at 4:28 PM ^

Everyone--EVERYONE--is. We know theirs, they know ours. There are degrees, particularly degrees of involvement of the coaches (some coaches you have to hide it from, some coaches will turn you if they catch you but won't act on suspicion, some coaches tell you to go talk to Mister X) and the program.


micheal honcho

May 1st, 2015 at 2:51 PM ^

I would love to see some of that crazy single wing stuff executed by todays top athletes. Can you imagine someone like Denard running that?

I know everyone will explain how football has "passed that by" and how defenses aren't so easy to fool anymore but I kinda take exception to this idea.

My local HS team is a dedicated Power T football team that has won 3 state championships in 2 different divisions and has repeatedly beaten higher class teams using the tried and true misdirection & constraint stuff exclusively. They run it with incredible discipline using somewhat lesser athletes(decent size but no real speed) and it just wreaks havoc on defenses.

I think its more about the mentalitly of athletes and a general unwillingness to dedicate yourself to the greater cause at the expense of the "self". On the part of coaches as well as players.

Hill Street Blue

May 2nd, 2015 at 2:56 AM ^

The Single Wing and it's variants are just a crusher as they amass more offensive players at the point of attack than the defense has to counter it.  Should the D match the Offenders, the passing and counter options are wide open on the opposite side.  Thought it would re-emerge a few years ago when both NFL and NCAA teams began to toy with it, but alas.  Will probably take the next mad-scientist gear-head Belichick-type to bring it back.  The first 50 years of the 20th century in football was almost entirely based on these concepts, it's odd they haven't re-emerged in the past 65, IMHO.

rob f

May 2nd, 2015 at 10:52 AM ^

incorporate some of those concepts into the offense under Harbaugh.  I have no reason to believe, based on past evidence in both college and the NFL, that Harbaugh has or will add any single wing or "Mad Magician"  stuff to the offense, but it wouldn't surprise me that much, either, on the other hand.  He just seems to be the type that will tinker and tweek things so as to keep opposing coaching staffs off balance, and those type of plays sprinkled in would, IMO, be very effective in doing so.

While I doubt we'd see it at all this season as our new staff installs their offense and gets everyone on the same page, our Mad Scientist is just the type to reinvent the Mad Magicians and prove it can be done at some point.

Rocky Mountain…

May 2nd, 2015 at 1:02 AM ^

just aren't as effective as the supposed cheaters.  It's ludicrous to believe all other top programs are paying players while UM is holding fast to the amatuer standard.  It was proved wrong in the 90s and I doubt it has gone away.  


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