Mailbag: Coachin' Poachin', Injury Redshirts, Shelton Johnson And Shelton Johnson, The Only Good Sports Movie Comment Count

Brian October 13th, 2016 at 2:24 PM


Will someone raid the braintrust this offseason? [Bryan Fuller]

Coaching turnover?

In your last UV you talked about how there's basically air behind Tom Herman as far as possibly available decent head coaches go. What are the odds that Don Brown gets poached by someone? Is that something he would be looking for?



What are the chances that one of our coordinators gets a look a high level job?  Jedd Fisch or Tim Drevno probably are most at risk?  Wheatley probably stays to fill in one of their roles if they go so he can be with his son for a few more year so that’s probably not a huge deal.  Is this something that is concerning to you?  I didn’t see it specifically flagged in your post today, nor did it really matter with Durkin moving on and the staff staying put.

Similarly, any shot at OSU getting some of their staff poached (and maybe less loyalty to Urban for a chance to move up the ranks)?

Go Blue!

-Jim Dudnick BBA ‘01

Don Brown is a minimal threat to leave. He's 61 and is a DC lifer in the same way that Bud Foster is. Nobody gets a first-time head coaching gig in their 60s unless they've been promoted from within. FWIW, when Michigan hired him Jim Harbaugh said he went into that hire trying to find someone who could provide some stability and Brown provides that. This is another reason grabbing Brown was such a good move.

Things are more uncertain on the offensive side of the ball, where both Fisch and Drevno could pop up on smaller schools' radars. Fisch has already been mentioned as a potential option at FIU by Bruce Feldman. Drevno hasn't come up yet. Meanwhile they're coordinator types under Jim Harbaugh, who runs the show on O. Usually guys like that have to put in at least five years before they start getting mentioned.

Meanwhile, these days the pay bump when you get a head job at a smaller school is small or even nonexistent. Ron Turner was making 550k at FIU; Drevno is at 800k. There aren't many non-Power 5 schools who could make a compelling offer to high-paid Michigan assistants.

Fisch is 40; Drevno is 47. Both have some time to find the right opportunity before their window of opportunity shuts. They're likely to be patient, passing up jobs like FIU as they wait for a Power 5 opening like DJ Durkin got. Even then, do you want to sign up for a meat grinder like Purdue? Probably not.

I can't say with certainty that both guys will be back but I wouldn't worry about losing them to an AAC team, and it doesn't look like there will be any plausible openings in the Big Ten this year. (Purdue: nope.) I'd bet Michigan gets everybody back.

[After THE JUMP: redshirts, Shelton Johnsons, omnipotence paradoxes]

Injury redshirts

Hey MGoStaff,
The big downer from Saturday is it looks like Jeremy Clark suffered a season-ending injury.  Assuming that is the case, is he eligible for a 6th year?  What is the process for obtaining that 6th year?  What are the odds he gets it?

Much has been made about how many redshirts have been "burned" so far this season?  I seem to recall that a player can redshirt even if they play a few snaps early in the season.  Is that true? What's the cutoff?
- socrking

Players can get a year back as long as they only played in the first four games of the season. One snap after that and it's over, as Mario Ojemudia found out a year ago. But anything up to four is fine. In the event that a true senior suffered the same injury Clark did, his return would be a slam dunk.

Clark already took a redshirt year, though, and that complicates things. To get a sixth year a player has to lose two years of competition to injury. Many freshman redshirts are voluntary and don't count. Clark will have to prove that he was hurt as a freshman to return next year.

Here is the part where I say that's touch and go since the NCAA is so persnickety about sixth years, but since MSU manage to scam one for Ed Davis—who dressed, travelled, won multiple scout team player of the week awards, and was the recipient of frequent press conference hype—maybe the doors are wide open? I don't recall news that Clark was injured as a freshman but at least his MGoBlue bio isn't selling him out by implying he was healthy.

The process for getting a sixth year is to wait until the guy graduates, assemble your paperwork, and apply. I couldn't tell you the odds because I'm not sure if he was injured as a freshman, how injured he was, or how Ed Davis got his sixth year. The latter suggests they're pretty good, as does Harbaugh's assertion that they'll try.

As for Michigan getting some redshirts back for players who have seen the field: yes, that is possible if they did not play against Rutgers and don't play the rest of the year. Guys who are definitely not getting that year back: Gary, Onwenu, Bredeson, Evans, Asiasi, McKeon, Crawford, McDoom, Kemp, Bush, Mbem-Bosse, Hill, Hudson, and Metellus. Players who have seen the field but could still be eligible for a medical redshirt: Eubanks, Nate Johnson, Kingston Davis, Dwumfour, Gil, Uche, and Long.

They'd have to have medical documentation that those guys were hurt, and that might raise some eyebrows. OTOH, football is tough and everyone's always kind of hurt. I'd guess that at least a couple of the nominally burned redshirts get restored.

How to give us Amazon's money.


At the top of your page, it says, "Support MGoBlog: buy stuff at Amazon." I really enjoy your website, the amount, quality, and variety of stuff you guys churn out every week is unmatched, in my opinion. Just wondering how I can use my avid Amazon shopping to help you guys out, because I'm a broke medical student without much excess cash to donate.

Go Blue,


If you use that link anything you buy for the next day will be an affiliate sale that sends a decent chunk to us. If you want to avoid the hassle, you can install the Philanthropist extension on Chrome and set the term to "mgoblog-20".

The other Shelton Johnson.


Park ranger Shelton Johnson

For context to the following email, when I did Shelton Johnson's recruiting profile I noted that there is a famous park ranger named Shelton Johnson, which made the Google image search a bit of a surprise. Serendipitously, Shelton turns out to be a Michigan alum:


This is Park Ranger Shelton Johnson. I had noticed that there's a football player with the same name who currently is on the roster for the UM football team.

I just wanted to communicate with you folks that yes, I am from Detroit, MI, but that I'm also a graduate of the Univ. of Michigan ('81) with a B.A. in English Literature. I was also invited by the Univ. of MI to give the commencement speech for graduating English majors back in 2011. I was a student in Michigan's M.F.A. Program in Creative Writing before I became a National Park Ranger. While I was a student at Michigan I also won a Major Hopwood Award in Poetry.

One of your bloggers did note that I worked with the film maker Ken Burns on his documentary film "The National Parks, America's Best Idea" which came out on PBS back in 2009. I also convinced Oprah Winfrey to camp in Yosemite in 2010, I'm a published novelist, and I've had quite a bit of media coverage due to my work to restore the once forgotten history of the Buffalo Soldiers who protected Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks over 100 years. That's why there are photographs of me on line wearing a Spanish American War era cavalry uniform.

If you go to my Wikipedia page you'll also find a photograph of myself with President Obama at the White House which was taken back in 2009. I was there with Ken Burns because of  his National Park Film. I've had articles/profiles about my work in media such as the New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, the L.A. Times, ABC News, the CBS Sunday Morning Show, National Public Radio, Sunset Magazine, and the New Yorker magazine.

The funny thing about all of this is that when I first heard about the "Other" Shelton Johnson, I wondered "who is this football player who keeps coming up when my name is googled?"

Please pass on my regards to Mr. Shelton Johnson, and let him know that I wish him all success in his career at Michigan, and beyond!

Thank you for your time.


The "Other" Shelton Johnson

Yosemite Valley

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite CA 95389

This has been your Michigan Difference of the week.

QB futures.

Hi Brian,

Purely for fun, with Speight having two years of eligibility remaining, Peters redshirting, and McCaffrey part of the 2017 class, How would you handicap the qb situation playing out, say, over the next 5 years?


Troy Mamas
Hudson, OH

The most likely scenario is that Speight starts for three years. Voluntary removal of a starting quarterback only happens to Al Borges recruits—

*record scratch*

—oh, right.

While Speight starting for three years is still the most likely proposal, there was a ton of chatter inside the program about how impressive Brandon Peters was this spring and fall; since he is a true freshman he should get better faster than Speight and I would not put it past Harbaugh to install a guy he recruited if Speight continues playing like he has this season. If he hits that Rudock improvement trajectory then it's his job, obviously. It's say it's 60-40 Speight, with McCaffrey redshirting.


Or maybe a question for a one-play one-on-one with him: If Michigan threw a bubble screen to Jabrill Peppers lined up out wide, would SAM Jabrill Peppers tackle him for loss, or could ball carrier Jabrill Peppers evade SAM Jabrill Peppers?


Can God make a stone he cannot move? Did this email throw me down a Wikipedia hole after I googled and found the Omnipotence paradox article? I don't know, and yes.

Precursors and omens.

Hey Guys,

I'm afraid you are sadly mistaken on the Khalid Hill 7-10 Block... Similar blocks have occurred before. One particular in quite dramatic fashion! 

Ronnie "Sunshine" Bass accomplished a similar feat on the final play of the championship game in Remember the Titans! Enjoy:

Ye gods, I had never seen a second from this movie. It is a bad movie. The only good sports movie ever made is 8 Mile. I swear to God anyone who mentions Happy Gilmore in the comments will have had their eyes replaced by bananas. We took your eyes! We gave them to someone who can use them for good, like a sushi chef! You have to look through bananas now!



October 14th, 2016 at 7:48 AM ^

Now everybody from the 313
Put your motherfucking hands up and follow me
Everybody from the 313
Put your motherfucking hands up
Look Look

Now while he stands tough
Notice that this man did not have his hands up
This free world got you gased up
Now who's afraid of the big bad wolf

1, 2, 3 and to the 4
1 pac , 2 pac, 3 pac, 4
4 pac, 3 pac, 2 pac, 1
You're pac, he's pac, no pacs, none

yossarians tree

October 13th, 2016 at 3:46 PM ^

Trouble with sports movies is they are often directed by someone who does not know anything about the sport, or the star is not convincingly athletic enough to play the part. Kevin Costner is a great exception to this rule. He was completely believable as Crash Davis, Tin Cup, and also Billy Chapel in the underrated film "For Love of the Game."


October 13th, 2016 at 3:59 PM ^

It is a Hollywood truism that a movie about anything will be laughable to people who know the subject.   A Few Good Men is a great, great movie, but it makes a lot of rookie mistakes about the military.  Even people who don't sail had this feeling that All Is Lost was screwing up the depiction of sailing.  And so on.


October 13th, 2016 at 4:40 PM ^

It's what the Dave Brandons of Hollywood keep saying to justify their ignorance to the masses.  And, to be fair, from a marketing perspective they're right, just as Brandon did increase Michigan's short-term revenue.  Stupid shit sells.  Even aesthetically, the success of drama-with-a-sports-wrapper movies means you can make a nifty drama about sports with a terrible understanding of sports.  I won't dispute that.  But artistically, there's no good reason not to do your damn homework.  If we're not talking about surrealism like Eraserhead then it just stinks of an excuse.  There's this belief that realism is the obstacle of drama, when it's just not true at all.

And it kind of bothers me because there's a cost.  These projects are just getting lazier and lazier under the pretense that "fiction" means they can be completely divorced from reality.  That may be technically true, but the mindset is unchecked and oozing into other areas.  We're getting to the point where writing doesn't matter as long as you have an attractive cast, exciting special effects and quippy one-liners.  It's fiction!  I watch movies to turn my brain off and watch them while drinking sixteen beers and a bucket of wings and I enjoyed it, so nothing else matters!

Fine.  But as long as that's prevalent, don't complain for a lifetime of movies wherein no one involved in the production can tell apart a fullback from a touchback and they're making a movie about football.


October 13th, 2016 at 5:22 PM ^

More like a lament.  If someone likes Remember the Titans I'm fine with it.  I enjoyed it.  Hell, I'm OK if someone enjoys the Twilight movies.  But when we elevate this shit instead of at least being honest about what it is, that's when the Dave Brandons of Hollywood can actually justify closing the door on writers that give any sort of damn about quality.

But this was an entirely predictable response whenever anyone on the Internet honestly admits to being bothered by something.  So, at least we got that out of the way.


October 13th, 2016 at 6:16 PM ^

Those movies won no significant awards for artistry.  They were not critically acclaimed.

Yes, those films did well at the box office precisely because they were broadly appealing, which necessitates that they're dumbed down.  Only someone who knows the topic, like you mention, or are smart enough to pick up on the nuances would appreciate the detail required for realism. For everyone else, the details required to make experts happy only confuses and detracts from the story for everyone else or is lost on too many people to make it worth it.

The beauty of today's golden age of television and the reason television is far better than films is that television shows can be financially viable with just a few million viewers because they can be distributed efficiently to those viewers at a price closer to their willingness-to-pay.  So much smart, good television these days.


October 13th, 2016 at 8:28 PM ^

First off, there is no award for authenticity.  There's really no incentive at all, financial or critical. . . except professional pride.  I don't require movies to be perfect.  I just sense a grating disparity if a movie is supposedly about football yet the script isn't even vaguely concerned with accurately portraying what it's about.  I won't pick on a football movie because someone goes "Oh, my car is that '52 Pacer" when AMC didn't even exist in 1952 or such, but I'll wince when the head coach is making up plays on the fly in a title game and the players aren't freaking out and I'm not watching Waterboy, because at least that's a comedy.

those films did well at the box office precisely because they were broadly appealing, which necessitates that they're dumbed down. . . the details required to make experts happy only confuses and detracts from the story for everyone else or is lost on too many people to make it worth it

I strongly disagree.  It CAN be done.  Dumbing down can be a valid decision, but it's never necessary unless you're making a kids' movie (and even then there's a difference between accessibilty and treating the audience like idiots).  I think this line of thinking just goes unquestioned these days simply because almost nobody does it anymore.  There is no inherent mutual exclusivity between being authentic, at least on some level, and yet keeping a story broadly appealing.  It is, however, harder to do, but mostly on the writing side.  Production-wise, it takes more work to blow a car up on impact than just go crunch.


October 14th, 2016 at 12:38 AM ^

Why are you even on MGoBlog if you think this way?  This very site exists on the premise that you can analyze something without firsthand experience.  Brian can't play football for shit.

Your rationale is already hypocritical mud, but let's keep going.  First off, realism --stylistically -- doesn't necessarily mean strict adherence to reality.  That's where genres like "hard" science fiction find their niche.  A procedural drama would invariably involve more excitement than a usual day in a law office or ER, although to a large extent you can stay true to reality through edits -- very few film works use real-time pacing.  OTOH, a doctor curing pneumonia with magnesium or whatever because Research is Hard does not make a procedural in the least bit more exciting.  Also, there are plenty of extremely gripping stories that are firmly based in reality.  Anyone who was there will tell you that you don't need to fabricate a single thing about Michigan's 1997 season to make it more thrilling; you just don't have to show Baylor in its entirety.


October 14th, 2016 at 7:50 AM ^

Analyzing something is one thing.  Depicting it is another.  This site is over ten years old, and the level of detail from back then, while excellent, is nowhere close to what it is today.  Spending that long researching your topic ain't gonna work for movies.   And Brian can analyze football but he would not be able to coach it at all**, which is a lot more analagous to writing and directing a movie than this.  

I really think your "doctor curing pneumonia with magnesium" thing is a straw man.  That's not the kind of laughability anyone's talking about.  It's things like how people behave in the real world vs. the movie world.  Everyone knows that random elements are not a pneumonia cure.

And movies are made every month about real life gripping stories - and they still are almost always changed for the big screen.  127 Hours, Apollo 13, even Remember the Titans.  TV, on the other you really think NCIS in real life is nonstop globetrotting and solving murders that involve everything from the CIA to Russian arms dealers to Salvadoran gangs?  Shit no, they're routinely sent to track down AWOL sailors and take police reports about shoplifting from the PX.

**He might well be able to design an offense and make correct game-day decisions, but the devil is in the details, and so is the technique.  Even the best self-taught analyst would have a tough time teaching someone not just what a reach block is, but how to do it.

And by the way, somewhere in this post I purposely made the kind of mistake that Hollywood makes all the time.  Can you find it?  Did you catch it right away?  If not, maybe you get the point about where Hollywood goes wrong when it shows a specialty of some kind, and how most details are considered good enough.


October 13th, 2016 at 6:48 PM ^

It sounds like you took what I said to mean that Hollywood makes incorrectly-detailed movies on purpose, or at least out of almost willful negligence.  I don't mean that at all.  It's just that topics like that are always amazingly complex, and they wouldn't necessarily be expected to know the whole gamut of nuances about, say, the military, any more than a Navy captain could be expected to direct a movie.

Take A Few Good Men.  Rob Reiner has his Marines saluting indoors and uncovered.  The Army does that, but the Navy and Marines don't.  Anyone from those branches would pick up on that immediately, but I would think Reiner wouldn't even have a reason to ask if that difference exists.  Even if he had a military advisor on set, that guy might be from the Army and still not even think about the difference.


October 13th, 2016 at 7:35 PM ^

I had the impression this was a "both/and" situation. Yes, dumbed down recycled big budget certainly is winning the day at the big movie houses, but I think there is also a greater ability for lesser known writers to produce their movies and still get them into boutique theaters. So both have more access and capability. It seems the awards committees have also opened up who they consider. I don't follow it that closely, but that was this uninformed persons impression.