Fort Sumter Comment Count

Brian October 13th, 2008 at 11:24 AM

10/11/2008 – Michigan 10, Toledo 13 – 2-4, 1-1 Big Ten

Civil War Battle

Not to turn this column into a running diary about Douchebags of Michigan Stadium, but after Kicking Competency Lopata went a long way towards being just KC again I attempted to bolt from the stadium as fast as possible. I got caught in the inevitable traffic jam a dozen or so rows up from my seats. A couple rows above me, a middle-aged man stood on a bench and booed and booed.

He was angry. I was angry.

I stooped to pick up whatever flingable bit of detritus I could find, seized upon an empty water bottle, and chucked it at the booer. I missed,* lightly damaging an older man a row behind him. But I did get his attention. And the old guy looked like he was on The Other Side, so eff him.

At this point a shouting match ensued. Shouting matches are never like they are on TV—laced with penetrating logical deductions that leave the yelled-at victim incapable of response—so I mostly just told him to shut up like 10 times consecutively.

At some point he actually said "if this bothers you that much there must be something wrong with you," at which point my irony sensors exploded. It was sort of like this minus the laughter:

He did shut up, though, or at least direct his anger somewhere other than the field.


Anywhere large groups of Michigan fans interact has fallen into civil war, with people like this on one side…

Listen, I just wanted to vent.  I have supported this team this year. 

I supported them when Utah won, I supported them when Illinois blew us out of the frickin stadium.

This, I cannot support.  I am absolutely disgusted with this.

In my opinion, Calvin Mcgee, Rich Rodriguez, and even Mike Barwis, yup, that's right, Mike Barwis, can go back to West Virginia where they came from.

…and bottle-chucking hippies on the other. That email hit my inbox yesterday around noon; I got a few others like that. You can check the increasingly annoying comments here, where virtually every thread descends into a flamewar within five posts.

And I don't get it. If you read this blog and think I will be at all sympathetic to the idea we should get rid of our extremely successful coach after one year (and hire who? and recruit who?) you have reading comprehension issues. If you use the words "unacceptable"—not actually in this email but man have I see that particular word everywhere in the past few days—and "disgusted" because Michigan's confused, young, and physically inadequate offense can't cobble together drives no matter who they go up against, do you realize that the core community of this blog, including the author, kind of loathes you? I am not on your side.

Sports suck sometimes, especially when you care so much about something you control not at all. I assure you that every Michigan fan was angry on Saturday, and every one had second thoughts about this New Era thing. Some of them chose to swallow that anger, and some chose to give it to someone else. What's the adult thing to do? What would those people in hats have done in 1935?

They would have sucked it up. So suck it up, you pansies. It hurts. Act like a man about it.**

Go do something else. This makes you mad. People say Hinterland is pretty good and it's only twenty bucks. Go play that. Go ride a bike. Or hike into the woods and look at the chipmunk-bears. Build 60-foot sculptures out of balsa wood and your shattered hopes. Just get off the goddamn internet.

Come back in fits and spurts and keep whatever connection you want to have with the program but don't hit that post button when the vein on your forehead is sticking out. It's not that important.

And what does "unacceptable" even mean, anyway? Okay, you do not accept the Toledo loss. And now…? You will inform the internet of this? I see. Congratulations. Go away.

*(Yes, I threw the bottle at Tacopants. If I was one of those guys calling for Threet's execution this would be the height of irony.)

**(Women, in my experience, do not have these issues.)


  • There are also two camps about the defense: 1) they only gave up 6 points (really nine if you count the chip-shot FG Toledo missed) and that should obviously be good enough to beat Toledo. 2) That one guy caught 20 balls and they had something like 350 yards of offense. I lean towards two; the only reason Toledo didn't score more was Zoltan's munificence and some of their own incompetence. Though they figured out how to defend some of the play action rollout stuff late, it shouldn't take 5.5 games to come up with a response to the quarterback exiting the pocket. Too many opposing teams have been able to remove Michigan's defensive line from the game by leaving in blockers or hitting short passes or rolling the pocket, and Michigan's insistence on leaving in a thousand crappy linebackers against spread formations is maddening.

    Scott Shafer was supposed to be an aggressive man-to-man guy, but Michigan this year has seen a ton of zone and a ton of three-man rushes. WTF?

  • Also, on a late third and one Michigan had a three-man line in the game. Toledo ran and made it easily. WTF?
  • The playcalling made a lot more sense once Threet's injury was revealed. Also Threet's horrible first few passes, though the endzone pick six wasn't inaccurate. If Nick Sheridan was in for reasons other than "starter incapacitated" even my enforced patience was going to be tried.
  • No, this offense would not be any better if it was lining up under center every play and running isos. Banish this from your mind. When you have freshmen at quarterback and most of the skill positions and a line with something like 6 even quasi-reasonable options and the lone senior on the two-deep is the third-string tight end, you are going to be awful no matter what offensive philosophy you adopt. There are like two and a half good players on offense.

    And what would that buy Michigan? A Motor City Bowl invite? I'd like to keep the bowl streak—not going to happen—but if the choice is between a crappy December bowl and some increased chance Michigan is great in 2010, I'll take the latter.

  • I think that "pre-hab" stuff is well debunked.
  • Cissoko seemed to do well, though it was tough to tell with all the zone.
  • Zoltan!


In reply to by chitownblue (not verified)

The Squid

October 13th, 2008 at 11:57 AM ^

Amen the second. The notion that this would somehow be another glorious season of football at Michigan were it not for the coaching change is as nutty as someone claiming that the Dodge K car I drove in the 1980s would sprout wings and fly to the moon if only I wanted it enough. In his blog, Jim Carty actually says that this team might be 5-1 if Lloyd were coaching it. 5-1. Let the awesome craziness of that sink in.


October 13th, 2008 at 11:33 AM ^

That the bowl streak's importance is not playing in the bowl, but the additional practice time that the team would get in December for playing in a bowl, and a lack thereof if it did not happen?  I know that Minnesota, for example, seemed to recover OK from not having that extra practice time, but is the former related to the better in 2009/2010 notion?

And Brian, I'm with you, a short haired preppie in my case, but fighting the good fight of patience.  The snowball finally caught us.  It had to happen eventually, it's happened to every other "football school" in recent memory, it's finally happened to us.  The difference is not how bad this year is, but how we come out of it in the future.


October 13th, 2008 at 12:13 PM ^

That is my only reason for caring about a bowl game.  They get a lot more practice and any game experience is good experience for this crew.  I don't think it will have catastrophic relusts if they don't get that practice time, but it would help.

Marques Slocum…

October 13th, 2008 at 11:35 AM ^

This is awesome! We should try to lose to Toledo every year so everyone can be happy with this level of play and accept it. This is great fun. We can let o$u have a rivalry with u$c and we can start up a rivalry with Toledo. Acceptance!

Marques Slocum…

October 13th, 2008 at 11:40 AM ^

The internet is definitely the place to tell people not to express their opinions. Certainly. In my mind Michigan is 6-0!!! We destroy all Toledo Rocket powered schools on our way to a dominatingly acceptable 12-0 National Championship! Hooray for us, we are acceptable!


October 13th, 2008 at 12:01 PM ^

I can't wait until you treat us all to some form of an "acceptable" joke in every single post you provide for the next three weeks, just like the ever so hilarious "Don't say anything, ShockFX might not agree with it" series.

You can express your opinion.  And, seeing how's it's his blog, Brian can express his.  Which is that your opinion sucks.  For some reason, Brian has built a career around his opinions of Michigan athletics and you haven't.


October 13th, 2008 at 11:44 AM ^

I was waiting for someone with some form of sanity to realize that it isn't physically possible to "adapt" to our current level of talent. My head is going to explode if I see another internet comment/blog screaming for this. How do you adapt any system to a QB that can't hit a wide-open receiver only 10 yards down-field when your OL can't run-block? Well, let me tell you... YOU CAN'T. So stop with it already. If you want to argue that we might still have Mallet and other OL if we had gotten a different coach, then fine, but at this point we are going to have to live with what we got and prepare for the future. However, Brian, I disagree with your "pre-hab" debunked comment. It would take more than one off-season to completely undo the "conditioning" program from the previous regime.


October 13th, 2008 at 11:44 AM ^

“I have no idea what the stock market is going to do next month or six
months from now,” Warren Buffett told CNBC on Friday. “I do know that
the American economy, over a period of time, will do very well, and
people who own a piece of it will do well.”


October 13th, 2008 at 11:47 AM ^

For some reason, after enduring the Toledo game, I decided it would be a good idea to watch "Recount" about the 2000 presidential election.  I would later go for a 35-mile bike ride to get my blood pressure down.


October 13th, 2008 at 11:47 AM ^

I was at a study abroad program in Europe, flush with Michigan pride after our national championship. I used to regularly talk football with another American in the program, and often made fun of him for his school's continuing football ineptitude. IN Fact, I even went as far as to nickname him "6 and 6" for his team's record the previous year, which had meant they had failed to go to a bowl. And his school was...

USC (as in Southern California).

 The message in this? Football moves in cycles, we were bound to suck sometime, and this will not last forever. 

Anonymous Coward (not verified)

October 13th, 2008 at 11:48 AM ^

Anyone who wants to complain about this current team, should realize that most likely, this current team (even with Mallett and a different coach) would probably only be one win better.  That's the Toledo game.  Would that put us any closer to actually winning something of importance?  Probably not. In fact, if the same system (scheme and recruiting) was still in place, Michigan would be sliding further back of the O$U's, USC's, entire SEC, etc.  Thank goodness we are moving towards a program that can compete (scheme and recruiting) instead of being happy with 14 - 3 losses to O$U and 20+ point blow outs to anyone else in the top 10. 

Bielfeldt's Calves

October 13th, 2008 at 11:54 AM ^

It doesn't matter how many yards you give up to this guy or how many catches that guy had, points win games. I'll take giving up 1,000 yards of offense and holding a team to 6 points anyday.

My guess is Shafer is employing the "bend but don't break" philosophy (see Baltimore Ravens and Chicago Bears). It actually works to our defenses advantage. Don't get burned on the big play (our weakness at safety) and let the field get shorter playing into our strength (D-line and run defense).

It sounds crazy, but again, six points.


October 13th, 2008 at 12:11 PM ^

no way Shafer came here to play bend but dont break defense, yet that is exactly what we saw on Saturday. We ran that with Bo, Mo, and Lloyd and despite bringing in a blitzing man-man Def Guru. If RRod is not going to change is scheme based on talent then the same argument could be made for Shafer. He had confidence in Stanford's athlete's to run this defense in the Pac 10 - Our defense should be able to run it against Toledo.  I have no idea why we only rushed 3 men for much of the second half. Dropping back in a zone and giving 5 yard dumps makes no sense to me. You can be satisfied that we only gave up 6 points but allowing them to escape bad field position time after time turned the field position game into a losing battle for us. We need a defense to get 3 and outs. Our offense cant put together an 80 yard drive. We need our defense to put our offense in position to score. Its asking a lot, but its our only hope.

West Texas Blue

October 13th, 2008 at 11:54 AM ^

Thanks Brian, glad you pointed out that we wouldn't be that great even with our offense in the I-formation running iso plays all the time.  This should shut up a large contigent of the complainers out there saying that Carr or Miles or Hoke would be running a good offense with our inexperienced and attrition-heavy team.  I don't understand why people keep complaining? What good is it going to do? Vent a little and then let it go. LET IT GO.

Marques Slocum…

October 13th, 2008 at 11:56 AM ^

I will definitely stop because you own me and what I think and what I do. You own me, what should I do next chitown blue? You can't say "kill yourself" either, that has already been offered. Please tell me what I can and can't feel. Please God, allow only thoughts and opinions of chitownblue to be relevent so this world can become a bunch of bloggers who are narcissistic and self-bloviating even though they don't coach or play football and know nothing more about football than what they have read, yet still believe their opinions mean anything to anyone other than themselves and further more are vastly superior to anyone elses thoughts about the game. Please.


October 13th, 2008 at 12:18 PM ^

I know you must know a lot more about football than Brian, you said so yourself.


That's why I find it funny Brian runs a blog with 40,000 hits a day and the only thing you do is piggyback off his success and use his site to shout your holy opinions to the world. Since, you know, nobody would read them if you had your own blog.

 Jealous much? 

Anonymous Coward (not verified)

October 13th, 2008 at 11:57 AM ^

RR is a successful coach.  His first year at WV was 3 wins.  This will get a lot better in the coming years.  

Until then, to cope, look for silver linings.  Pick out a few freshman to follow and watch their progress.  Follow recruiting, for that brings hope.

M will get through this.  We lived through the Demetrius Brown/Michael Taylor season after Harbaugh.  We lived trough the Tyler Ecker capped debacle against Nebraska season of infinite pain. 

We lived through Jimmy Carter's presidency, and are about to live through another one.

It will be moring again in America.


October 13th, 2008 at 11:58 AM ^

Thank you, Brian.  I've hated hearing people tell me what is "acceptable" by their standards for some time now.  Take that, Michigan Football, Mr. Angry Fan just gave you an F

If this season ends 2-10 I will still appreciate it for having culled the fanbase.  Some fans love Michigan.  Some just love winning.

matty blue

October 13th, 2008 at 3:38 PM ^

...culling the nitwits is always a good thing.

i'd also point out that, while i still despise notre dame for many, MANY other reasons, the refreshing reduction in nitwit domer fans after last season makes them much less annoying. 


October 13th, 2008 at 11:59 AM ^

I would really have liked to see the bowl streak continue, but oh well.  I am confused less by the offense, as they are young and obviously overmatched.  I am very confused by the defense tho.  Shafer needs to get this group shipshape or he might be the one to get the axe to appease the rabid alumni after this disaster of a season.  I am still solid for RR.

The Squid

October 13th, 2008 at 12:10 PM ^

Why does everyone think that the defense should be good to great? I don't see it. The front 4 are pretty good, and, were he healthy, Warren is good. But beyond that? Saftey play is bad. Linebacking is awful. At one point in the Toledo game - a key point, mind you, when Toledo was in the red zone - Michigan had a 200 lbs. freshman walk-on out there playing linebacker.  A freshman walk-on, for god's sake! That is not the sign of a team with enough health and talent to have a good to great defense.


October 13th, 2008 at 12:20 PM ^

All I am saying is that there will be politics at the end of the season and I wouldn't be suprised if someone gets axed just in the name of change and to please disgruntled alumni.  Shafer seems the obvious choice at this point as the D hasn't been dominant (as you point out, this isn't that suprising), and Shafer also has less of a track record to fall back on (W. Michigan and 1 year at Stanford do not a Michigan D-Coord. make).  Not to mention that Shafer isn't one of the old gaurd from WFV.  This defense was expected to be pinning its ears back and rushing the passer while playing tight man coverage.  We haven't seen much of that.

The Squid

October 13th, 2008 at 12:33 PM ^

Oh, OK, I get it now. I see that you're not claiming that the defense should be good. It would be very unfortunate were Shafer to be fired to appease some whiners. I can't say that I'm terribly impressed with him to this point, but I have a hard time seeing how he could possibly be expected to compensate for the god-awful linebacking or weak secondary play.

West Texas Blue

October 13th, 2008 at 12:19 PM ^

Dude, its obvious now that our D isn't that special.  We all know that.  Our D-Line has been terrific, but they've been overshadowed by poor LB and safety play.  As good as our D-Line is, they can't go anything when teams keep going max protect.  Quality and depth are severely lacking at LB and safety positions; I'm really not surprised that a walk-on was out on the field playing linebacker.

Anonymous Coward (not verified)

October 13th, 2008 at 11:59 AM ^

I am still on the fence about the defensive performance.  On one hand 6 pts.  On the other multiple 10+ play drives.  On the one hand no Warren/Graham.  On the other it's Toledo.  One point I do disagree w/ Brian is Toledo's incompetence.  That offense is built around short passes.  After the 1st couple of possessions their QB was on the money all game and I can't think of a single dropped ball.  NW dropped 4-5 balls against MSU w/ no one around them and it killed a couple of drives.  I do not remember that happening to Toledo once.  The thing I can't get over, outside of the dozens of missed arm tackles, is the lack of turnovers.  This team is not good enough to beat anyone if the defense is not forcing turnovers. 

Yinka Double Dare

October 13th, 2008 at 12:25 PM ^

If anything, since Michigan still basically recruits itself and RR doesn't seem to be a negative on the recruiting trail at all (we're still getting at least the same level of talent from what it looks like so far), these guys can take one look at our team this year and go "Holy shit, I could be starting at MICHIGAN as a freshman or sophomore". 

I mean jeez, the Zooker got blue chip recruits to come to Illinois when they were TERRIBLE, even worse than we look this year, as they regularly got blown out by bad teams and had one year where I think their only win was over some marginal 1-AA team.  And Zook didn't have RR's track record of success, he had a track record of "you turned Florida from a national title contender into a talent-loaded miasma of mediocrity"


October 13th, 2008 at 12:02 PM ^

that I think are separate. The first is about the future of Michigan football and how well RR will do in 2009+. The second is about how he is doing this year.

My thoughts are that we will be average in 2009 and amazing in 2010+. I understand the cyclicality of football and the fact that we were mediocre the past ~10 or so. Also, I understand that RR's system and philosophy take patience and time.

All of this sort of makes losing to Illinois-like teams sort of OK (well as OK as losing can be). However, losing to a bad MAC team like Toledo (led by a Rivals 2* QB) means that RR is doing a bad job this year. There I said it and mean it. That doesn't mean he should be fired, or his system canned. It's similar to Shaffer admitting that he was out-coached. So, RR's being out-coached this year and may be in over his head. Due to his past success and our current recruit class, I think this will be solved next year and we will be very excited in 2010!

Go Blue!

Anonymous Coward (not verified)

October 13th, 2008 at 1:26 PM ^

At the end of the day, the cupboard was bare this year.  Charles Stewart should never play another day, and neither should the majority of our "linebackers".   Also, since Clemons was born without fingers, maybe he shouldn't be in as receiver.


October 13th, 2008 at 12:02 PM ^

I believe someone said this earlier this year (Dex maybe?).  But I am done reading the message boards.  It is impossible not to get sucked into the flamewar, mostly because of the maddening nature (IM OLD!  I GIVE MONEY!  I DEMAND BETTER!  FIRE DICKROD!).

Until i get bored, at which point I will probably wander back over to tear my hair out.  Masochism at its best.

Thanks for calling this out Brian.

Anonymous Coward (not verified)

October 13th, 2008 at 12:03 PM ^

The defense didn't play well yesterday, but it played well enough to win if the offense had done anything.

The internet isn't for venting.  Vent to yourself or to one of your buddies in private.  In the old days people used to write angry letters and then crumple them up before sending them.  Clicking "post" is a lot easier than walking to a mailbox, so these days it's a lot easier to make a fool of yourself.

Anonymous Coward (not verified)

October 13th, 2008 at 12:11 PM ^

Totally in agreeance with you Brian.  It may be painful to watch our team stumble around the field, but we can't go burning down the Big House.  I feel like they have the ability to come out and win any game, but there is a mental block that prevents them from getting it done.  I see flashes of brilliance that bode well for the future, and I just hope they see it too.  It seems as if they have some sort of amnesia that prevents them from being great, and we need a cure for that.  At this time, I'm willing to except the difficult season in hopes that the lessons learned will be the ground work for national championships to come. Call me delussional if you like, but I do have faith in the Rod.  Rome wasn't built in a day!!

Anonymous Coward (not verified)

October 13th, 2008 at 12:14 PM ^

I think it is downright disrespectful the way that many Michigan fans conducted themselves this season, especially toward Rich Rodriguez. He and his crew are proven winners that were handed very little offensively when they got here, even for a pro-style offense. On top of that, we experienced some bad luck and saw Mallet and others leave.

We need to give RichRod and his coaching staff a few years of die-hard support before we begin to even think about saying some of the things that are being said. And I hear you Brian, the "adults" are the worst. Last year, these same jaycats were calling for Carr's head and wanted a more interesting coach.


I think some Blue fans need to get laid on the quick. As hard as it may be to believe, there are more important things in life than football. Like, perhaps, being voted the 18th best university in the world last week?

GO BLUE, now and forever


Class of 2001 & 2003

Anonymous Coward (not verified)

October 13th, 2008 at 12:14 PM ^

Haven't posted in awhile, simply because there wasn't much to say.  However, I do have one problem that Brian has pointed out, but doesn't seem to have made a big enough deal about.  I was excited about RR bringing a new offense and some unpredictability to Michigan.  I'm getting tired of beign able to call a play just like I could with Carr and co.  What makes it more frustrating is normally it's a running play that isn't going to go anywhere.  I understand that a lot of our running plays don't go anywhere, but this is getting close to Zone Left levels with the predictability. 

I love McGuffie, and understand that he is our best option at RB because RR has a problem with Grady, for multiple good reasons.  However, at this point Sam can't be expected to run as much as he has to without some sort of passing game to open up some lanes for him.  Just once I would like to see a Michigan team come out throwing the ball in the first quarter just to fuck with the other team's mind.

 Also, quick question.  I started using the 15 second jump ahead button on my remote during the second half and then didn't watch any sports for the rest of the weekend.  What was the nature of Threet's injury?