Dear Diary: A Tragedy, or Just a Comedy of Errors? Comment Count

Seth November 21st, 2010 at 9:53 AM

badger Balldammitball

MGoBlue.com

Dear Diary,

When he was doing his summer interview series, Six Zero asked how I became a Michigan fan. My answer (short version):

…when I was 11, I was invited to spend a long weekend with my cousin, then an engineering student in Ann Arbor. We had the best pancakes I ever tasted at this place just west of the Nickels Arcade, then went to watch Desmond Howard singlehandedly demolish Indiana. After the game we bought a used copy of Alice in Wonderland from that book dude on State St., then warmed up over hot cider at the Brown Jug. After, I splayed out on a sleeping bag next to the couch in his desmondindianaapartment watching his two female roommates walk around naked. And I was like "This is it; I wanna go to Michigan."

That cousin is still in Ann Arbor. His wife, who must be one of the 90 kindest people in the world, is a pediatrician and huge Michigan fan who spent the morning preparing her house for an invasion of some 25 family members, aged 14 to 70, all of whom were to have parking, tickets, and passes either to the new box, or at least the Crisler bathrooms. Their two kids, girl 11, and boy 9, had helped Mom by taping a large paper banner across the kitchen door that read "Hello Cousins! M Club Welcomes You!"

Adorable children have a way of appearing when Brian's about to hurl profanities, so I marched to Michigan's last home game of 2010 with an army of them. It does help with the profanity –- the worst thing I did at a game full of perfect exclamatory moments was to face the sky after the batted interception and yell "I thought you hated Wisconsin!"

The 14-year-old loved that one. He also loved his first view of MGoBlog, which I had him pull up at half-time on his smart phone (yes, 14-year-olds come with smart phones now). When Denard whooped a guy about to kill him then sauntered into the end-zone, 14-year-old was the one telling me the record had been broken.

The serendipitous presence of a kid is great for writers trying to capture something too profound to be believable from a cynical adult. Sometime MGoCommenter Glen Masons Hot Wife has a little tradition now of (kind of dickishly) telling me I can't write as well as Brian (or Johnny of RBUAS) after these posts. Don't think I don't know I can't (triple-negative!) use a rhetorical moppet with the aplomb of Cook; I wish I could. To be fair, Brian said he wishes he could moppet like DFW.

My actual recollection of childhood was that by the time I cared about sports I wasn't that innocent anymore. My world-test wasn't necessarily "is this awesome?" but "is this cool?" with the latter being something I didn't actually get to determine. I thought Desmond Howard was awesome, but I was almost as happy again when I learned that Desmond Howard fandom was really cool.

Much of my adult life has been about trying to recapture that which is genuine and awesome (I would argue that David Foster Wallace's magnum opus Infinite Jest, is about this too) after years of pursuing cool. The cynic who blamed God when a 6'0 quarterback kept having his passes batted right to defenders became so because when we're being honest, watching Michigan get crushed by Wisconsin just hurts.

Woodsonboston What makes it easier is knowing things will get better. For me, Greg Robinson will probably be gone, and hopefully the 3rd time will be the charm (if it's not, well…), and other than the few guys who walked with their parents under the banner this afternoon, almost all of the starters will be back next year.

Those kids: Greg Banks, James Rogers, Steve Schilling, Adam Patterson, Renaldo Sagesse, Jonas Mouton, Obi Ezeh, et al., moppets themselves when I was in school, stayed when most of their classmates bailed. Some were redshirting for '06, but their first day of eligibility was The Horror. A coach whom they might never have signed up for changed the program to something that's about trying harder, and they did it. They lost to Wisconsin today, and all those other times, not because of effort but because they simply weren't as good as Mark Messner, Charles Woodson, Steve Hutchinson, Alan Branch, Glen Steele, Jarrett Irons and Larry Foote. They never grew cynical because there was always another chance, an opportunity for something awesome to happen.

The injuries sustained today – Roh, Rodgers, Stonum, Smith – may make it impossible, but there's still a chance for awesome. That's why playing for Michigan is different than for every other school, because no matter how the season goes, that chance for awesome is always going to be right there at the end of it. For the seniors, it's the last one. For my 14-year-old cousin, there will be so many more that one loss to Wisconsin is nothing next to years of Denard Robinson and whatever amazing things are ahead.

But here's this kid who's 14 years old, knows what "Ndamukong" means, pulls up rushing stats on SportsTap more than I do, and he doesn't remember Chris Perry because he was fucking SEVEN the last time we beat Ohio State. I don't expect the 2010 Michigan team to play defense like '97, because they're not that good, the same way that this column will never be written as well as the Brian's post-game the next day, and that post-game won't be as good as DFW's tennis coverage was, and DFW's genius was not that of the bard.

For him, for the moppets who made the banner, for the seniors, for the fans, for the coach, for the team, to go into Columbus this year and beat Ohio State, well, that would just be awesome.

Much Ado About Nothing

The Grid of Expectation:

Diary Author Method Prediction Kick-Ass Graphic
Wisconsin Preview The Mathlete PAN-fried Wis, 38-37 image
Post Week 11: Yardage Analysis and Predictions + Score Predictor tpilews Weighted YPG M, 42-38
Week #11 National Statistics and Predictions for Wisconsin Enjoy Life Sagarin, Fremeau Wis, 41-30 (FEI) or W-4.5 image
Preview: Wisconsin 2010 Brian fear, surprise, ruthless efficiency, an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope, and nice red uniforms Wis, 34-27
James_White

The Taming of the Overgrown Shrew

2010 Game 10 Wallpaper Preview

MonuMental's Weekly Wallpaper

In the last week of the normal Big Ten season the Diarists had to dig deep (get it?) to get up for a visit from the 10-1 Badgers. First, the Shred Dude, and his remake of Shakespeare's section title-referenced play: 10 Things I Hate About The F-ing Badgers.

Whats that shit on your face?

2. James Kamoku- You son of a bitch! You think you can put your god damn hands on Steve Breaston and get away with it? DO YOU!? This amateur during a 2006 UM vs UW punt return decided to try and rip Steve's ankle off. It was caught on TV. Karma is a bitch since last I saw you played for some fake football team called the "Wolf Pac". Guess what happened to this dirt ball for his bush league act? NOTHING!

Other things Shredder hates: suffocatingly boring, anti-points white-guy basketball, green giants, band camp, dirty campgrounds, letter people, candy canes, trucks, and the cast of That '70s Show except Red. Also: guys who switch positions mid-Paint:

Meanwhile, Coach Schiano visualized a motivational post-Wisconsin speech by Rich Rod. Denard, Kelvin Grady, et al. respond in a telling reminiscent of the random heroism of football.

Alls Well That Ends Well

UMTailgate.com

The funny thing about accomplishing something in sleety driving rain: you are miserable when you're in it, but afterwards you just love talking about it. True to form, the MGoStatisticians took to the spreadsheets to test all sorts of wild theories that indirectly might maybe possibly suggest we beat Wisconsin and Ohio State:

Hypothosis: The Defense is Approaching Average, by matt D.

Observations: Michigan is kind of but not quite comparable to Penn State, which is an average defense:

School

Yds/Drive

Stop %

Punt %

3 & Out %

Pts/Drive

Michigan 36.8 53% 39% 24% 2.81
Penn State 39.1 62% 38% 22% 2.22

Conclusion: You can judge for yourself. Matt says the defense is put in bad situations. Irish brings the sanity:

75th in rush defense and tackles for loss
86th in pass efficiency defense
91st in sacks
93rd in scoring defense
100th in total defense
103rd in turnover margin
114th in pass defense

Hypothesis: 'Tis better to play at home, by The Mathlete.

Observations: Teams seem to perform better against expectations when at home. And whoa last year:

image

Conclusion: Over these years Michigan is on the low end of home field advantage, in the Big Ten above only the polite and purpled few of Evanston, and Illinois, but it's still worth almost 2 points a game in PAN. Poor Notre Dame is worse at home than on the road.

Hypothesis: Michigan makes a difference, by TennBlue.

Observations: If you normalize our schizophrenic team (SCORE! INTERCEPTION! FUMBLE! SCORE! SCORE! MISS FG! SCORE! INTERCEPTION!) our opponents look a little different than the final score may indicate.

Opponent

M's affect on Total D Rank

M's affect on Total O rank

Result

Connecticut -10 1 W, Good O, OK D
Notre Dame -10 19 W, Good O, Terrible D
Bowling Green -17 0 W, Awesome O, OK D
Indiana -11 14 W, Good O, Terrible D
Michigan State -1 16 L, OK O, Terrible D
Iowa -10 -2 L, Good O, OK D
Penn State -8 4 L, Good O, Bad D
Illinois -20 14 W, Awesome O, Terrible D
Purdue -4 -2 W, OK O, OK D

Conclusion: Yeah, it kind of does. We underrated Penn State a bit, and maybe overrated Michigan State.

Hypothesis: Michigan is so good we can turn it over and suck at special teams and still win at football, by Enjoy Life

Observations: With a turnover margin of minus-7, a bad return team, a worse coverage team, and no chance of making a field goal, Michigan is amazingly unscathed.

image

Conclusion:

HOLD ON TO THE GOD DAMN BALL AND THROW THE GOD DAMN BALL TO OUR RECEIVERS!!

Also it seems the reason we can get away with this is that our offense is so radically good, and our defense is so generally bad unless we're facing an offense that's radically bad, that what's a few more radicals thrown into the mix.

Hypothesis: All you need to know you can learn from Revenge Movies, by bronxblue

Observations:

But as Chris Martin likes to say “That’s why Sweet 16 leaves presents for Superman on the field!”, or whatever line the inglourious-basterds-poster at BTN programmed him to say every 30 seconds.

Conclusion: Payback.

Hypothesis: Michigan could win another Big Ten game this year, by the Mathlete

The Mathlete's picture

Observations: We beat Purdue, and the PAN before the Wisconsin game said we were at 46% to finish at the 7-5 we expected, and the rest…well, nowhere to go but up, right?

Conclusion: Three excellent diaries this week again. Dylan can write songs, Gretzky can play hockey, Mathlete can write diaries.

Conclusion: The Mathlete is your Diarist of the Week.

As You Like It (Etc.)

Yes, another Moving Picture Pages of Chris, by Danger of Dangerous Logic. That one's the earlier throwing of rock. He has another from Friday night in which even more rock is thrown. Somewhere, DeBord is coaching in a city that doesn't have internet and thus missing this opportunity to nod in solemn approval.

For those (like me) who have to look more than once to comprehend what "Michigan+4" means, Blazefire and his bolded subconscious multiple personality* put on a little clinic to explain what the line actually means:

The line is not a means of picking a winner of a game, nor is it intended to do so.

The line is a form of handicap, suggesting that under given circumstances, adjusting the final score by X points (subtracting for the team expected to win or adding for the team expected to lose) would create a tie score. It is an attempt to put the teams "on par" with each other.

The line is a betting tool, and is not intended to predict the score of the game.

Betting with or against the line is an agreement or disagreement with Vegas, not a belief or disbelief in one of the teams.

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* How many people on this blog have bolded subconscious multiple personality disorder anyhow?

You try watching the last decade of Michigan football and staying sane, putz.

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Finally, oriental andrew's Opponent Press Conferences returned this week to interview "that big meathead … and his meaty Badgers."

That's enough of weeks past and Big Ten seasons concluded. It's Ohio State week.

Now set the teeth and stretch the nostril wide,
Hold hard the breath and bend up every spirit.

The game's afoot: follow that spirit t'ward dark Ohio
Cry "hail" for Michigan! For Rod! And Saint Bo!

Comments

Victor70

November 21st, 2010 at 10:34 AM ^

I don't think yours is "not as good"  it's just different, well worth my time to read and much better than I could even imagine I am capable of accomplishing.  Thanks and keep it up.  I appreciate what you do.

CO Blue

November 21st, 2010 at 1:14 PM ^

I agree with everything that you have expressed.

And, in regards to your signature, I was asked the same lead-in to that joke by a Buckeye fan who of course switched the target of the question to Michigan student. I replied "Trick question, there are no 'average' Michigan students. "

Feat of Clay

November 21st, 2010 at 6:03 PM ^

Do OSU fans just not get that humor is funny when it has a grain of truth to it?  Jokes about Michigan's arrogance can be amusing.  Jokes about Michigan's academic inferiority, when told by a fan from a school that by every conceivable objective measure under the sun is a lesser school academically?  Nonsensical.

Bluemandew

November 21st, 2010 at 11:00 AM ^

   I was enjoying this diary very much untill you lost me. I will freely admit I may be taking this wrong but it just struck me this way. You stated that when Rich Rod came in he changed this program to a program that tried harder. My first thought was I doubt Loyd went out and told Chad Henne, Jake Long, Mike Hart and on and on don't try hard. You don't have to work hard here. Yes Rich Rod brought in Barwis and I understand he is GOD but I don't think are identity before Rich was a program that doesn't try.

Bluemandew

November 21st, 2010 at 12:26 PM ^

I know this is going to get me negged but I guess I am ok with that. According to those standards you just said Loyd won big ten titles and to this point Rich's trying harder has just got us on probation. Yes the freep practice allegations were blown way out of proportion and could these same things have gone on under Loyd who knows. But the fact is we are on probation for trying harder under Rich.

Bando Calrissian

November 21st, 2010 at 3:22 PM ^

What has so dramatically changed in the three years since Lloyd Carr coached, then?  I never remember seeing this argument used as a knock against him when he was consistently competing for titles, even at the end of his career.  

 

We were just fine with it for years and years and years, and now that we've been struggling to win Big 10 games for three years, we've been doing it wrong for decades?

erik_t

November 21st, 2010 at 5:25 PM ^

This is where you insert a long ramble about modern strength and conditioning, or excellence via being very very good at throwing rock. I'm frankly not knowledgeable enough about either problem to give you a rant that would even be top-50 on these fine pages. I'm sure you've read enough of them anyway.

Seth

November 21st, 2010 at 11:52 PM ^

When I was in college (98-'02) people were complaining about Lloyd's guys seeming to be out of shape. To be fair, they were complaining that Drew Henson wasn't getting more playing time, and about Navarre, and 65-percent field goal kickers, and Whitley (oh God Whitley) and all sorts of stuff.

I wasn't paying as close attention yet at that point (until college I couldn't speak intelligently about much more than the glamour guys)  but enough people who were around for "The 8-4 Years" had that complaint too.

So it's not like the "Lloyd's guys were soft" meme just sprang up during the 2008 season. Really, it got a major head of steam when the guys were losing in the 4th quarter all over 2005, and the TV talking heads were peppering us with that meme after the start to 2007. True or not, its nascence was not in RR defensism; it was a thing that grew in volume over Carr's career.

Of course, when you're winning, nobody talks shit about you at all.

SirJack

November 21st, 2010 at 3:48 PM ^

Yeah I really find this idea that players are working harder under RR tiresome. Supposed M fans have mocked Carr's conditioning program several times on this board.

Fine, maybe RR's teams run around more in the summer and Barwis is really neato.

But I'd rather have a "lazy" team that doesn't get smashed in the mouth by Wisky and MSU(?!).

Seth

November 21st, 2010 at 11:37 PM ^

I understand what you're saying, but don't confuse what I said with tacit agreement with a "Lloyd was so soft!" turn.

We have a pretty large body of evidence from player statements from current and former U-M players, and players at WVa., that RR's level of intensity, his conditioning program, and his demands from his players on a purely effort-based level are remarkably higher than that of most coaches.

This can be overstated, and I think that's what you're reacting to.

But I think we can find accord on the idea that the two coaches are differentiated by more than just their records against MSU and Wisconsin.

Lloyd's program was about being a touchstone, a continuation of Bo's legacy, based (only a little hypocritically*) on the concept that integrity and being a major NCAA football power need not be mutally exclusive. He was himself an academic, something all of one other FBS coach can claim. To major offensive recruits, especially at quarterback, Lloyd could promise an NFL Style of play that would prepare you, if you are capable of it, to be a successful pro player.

Both men are way beyond the mean in integrity. But does Lloyd's being an heir to Schembechler mean that RR is an end to everything Bo about Michigan? Does Carr's mastery of Pynchon make RR an illiterate? Does the train of NFL talent under Lloyd mean RR's players won't see a down in the NFL?

RR does not do any of those things like Lloyd, because those were Lloyd's strong suits. Remember, though, that "not being as book smart as Lloyd Carr" and "dumb as a box of rocks" are two very different things. And likewise, "not trying as hard as a Rich Rodriguez player" and "lazy" are two very different things.

Rich Rod's program asks more, physically, from its players. Even if you allow that Lloyd's training regimen was above average, it was not like this was a signature attribute of the program under Lloyd. All I'm saying is that under Rodriguez, it is.

* by this I only mean there were still Fck Lions and such that always get brought out whenever I say "Lloyd was a saint." We weren't Harvard, but neither was Lloyd's program ever considered something akin to Da U, and this was an attribute.

mGrowOld

November 21st, 2010 at 11:03 AM ^

This year we will have two more chances to do something awesome yet.   OSU and whatever bowl game we get.to  play in.  And by the bowl game many of our current injured players should be back to full strength.  It will be interesting to see how they perform.  I'm betting very, very well!

caup

November 21st, 2010 at 11:32 AM ^

He needs to see if RR has Big Ten-sized defensive players coming up through the ranks.  DB needs to see if the program has big young kids who will be physically big and strong enough to hold their own against Wisconsin, MSU, Iowa, OSU, and Nebraska in the next 1-2 years. 

We can't keep putting undersized kids out there.  RR does realize this. But are we going to have the big 290-320 pound defensive linemen you need to compete in this conference? 

Putting five defensive players on the field who weigh less than 200 pounds seems foolish. I don't care how good of athletes they are.

Chris of Dange…

November 21st, 2010 at 11:49 AM ^

(because when Michigan loses, There Are No Highlights)

So your problem isn't multiple personality disorder, it's denial of reality, isn't it?

[pounds head] Would all of you in there just shut up?

Anyway.  With time and film on my hands, I did this:

Then, because I needed a laugh (and when I made this remark while watching the BTN postgame show nobody in the room got it), I did this:

RichRodFollower

November 21st, 2010 at 12:21 PM ^

Before Coach Rodriguez was hired, and when I was just a casual fan of Michigan Football, my Saturdays were never so exciting and my Sundays never so full of depression.  But yesterday was my first time tailgating on the golf course.  I had three college friends up from Wisconsin, several buddies, two brothers-in-law and my beautiful wife with me.  It was a great day!  My team didn't win, but at the end of the day, the weather was beautiful, the beer was cold, and I was happy.

If you're not a player or a coach on the Michigan Football team, its just a game.  How the outcome effects you is your problem.

Nosce Te Ipsum

November 21st, 2010 at 12:44 PM ^

Calling out an anonymous board member who dislikes your writing on the main board? You could've written the most insightful post to ever grace this blog but I wouldn't know because I stopped reading after that and with your puerile antics don't plan on reading anything you have to say ever again.

wolverine1987

November 21st, 2010 at 9:02 PM ^

Reasonable people can disagree whether or not M should have commented on the guy's consistent criticism of his writing (I happen to think it was unnecessary and kind of lowered to GMHW's level). But to say it was puerile and to "never read anything you have to say ever again" is simply ludicrous, and WAY more of an over-reaction than M's comment. What a pile of fake and immature outrage.

Seth

November 21st, 2010 at 11:10 PM ^

I mentioned this in the interview, but when I got to Ann Arbor in '98, the pancake place on Maynard had become a bicycle shop, Dez was in the NFL, the Brown Jug doesn't even remember serving hot cider, and all the girls were fully clothed. But the book guy's still there, so yay.

Go Blue Beat T…

November 21st, 2010 at 5:53 PM ^

United we stand; divided we fall. Same holds true for M football. Fuck everything that's wrong with this team. Positivity and good thoughts towards our noon kickoff on Saturday. For three hours of the year, all this other shit goes out the window, and it's time to just line up and smack those bastards in the mouth. I don't want to see us win for Rich Rod, not for the Seniors, not to prove Drew Sharp wrong (really--who gives a fuck about that guy anyway?), but for MICHIGAN. Let's GO.

Feat of Clay

November 21st, 2010 at 5:57 PM ^

I produced a moppet of my own 11 years ago, who watched his first Michigan game at 4 months. I remember the day well because he kept bursting into tears, startled, when all the adults in the room started yelling in unison at random (to him) moments.

Moppets are wonderful for perspective. 

My moppet met RichRod earlier this year and will always think of him as a cool guy who signed his friend's football twice because his friend didn't think the first one was big enough.  It was probably RR's 4,678th signature of the day but he did it anyway with a smile.  My moppet loves wins, but nothing in RR's Big Ten record will ever change his opinion of him as awesome.

I picked my moppet & his grandpa up from this year's Illinois game, both of them wide-eyed and breathless and shell-shocked in the best way possible.  I looked into moppet's happy face and told him he just saw a once-in-a-lifetime game.  And he confidently said "Oh, I hope to see 2 or 3 games like that in my lifetime."

I imagine in a few years, on some Michigan fan site, he will have some awesome diary entries of his own to write.

tmurda1234

November 21st, 2010 at 10:19 PM ^

Thanks for noting that.  I'm sick of hearing haters trash us for this Wisconsin game.

We have a very explosive offense, and OSU has shown some signs of weakness (they had trouble with Illinois, among other things).

This is OSU week.  Anything can happen.

Hope is a many dreaded thing.  So is Denard.

Yard Dog

November 22nd, 2010 at 11:16 AM ^

A lot of differing perspectives in this thread.  I'm an old fart ('87 grad, and no, not 1887).  I grew up worshipping Bo and hating OSU with a passion that still burns.  OSU is evil, and that is not subject to negotiation.  I do have a few thoughts on this thread:

1.  OSU is evil incarnate.  Can't be said enough.  I just hate the Buckeyes, and especially those queer gold pants they hand out after beating M.

2.  I'm tired of "fans" bagging on Lloyd.  The guy was classy and won a national title.  What the hell else do people want?  He represented our school and program with class.  Leave him alone and give him some respect.  Who gives a shit if some of his guys weren't conditioned like Olympic decathletes?

3.  I supported the hiring of RR.  I still do.  He brings a totally different angle to the game, one which I still think can deliver big results.  He also may be more demanding that Lloyd, but I want to see that translate into wins.  I certainly think the Barwis effect is helping, but we as a program are not at the level any of us wants.  I think we can be there next year, however.  We have had to display something no Michigan fan has a plethora of, and that is patience.

4.  OSU is just an awful school with a scum sucking fanbase of lunatics. 

5.  For the record, I did respect Woody.  No one was ever as talented at throwing yard markers. 

P.S.  RIP Rob Lytle.  One of my absolute favorite Wolverines when I was growing up.

Patrick.F

November 22nd, 2010 at 11:07 AM ^

Great article! You definitely have a love for your craft and for football, although I a not sure which is top on your list.

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