MGoPodcast 9.15: Not This Down

Submitted by Seth on January 3rd, 2018 at 6:01 PM

1 hour and 54 minutes

mgopodcast 9.15

We are at the Residence Inn Ann Arbor Downtown, which has nine or ten conference rooms depending on if we count Wisconsin’s loss to Rutgers in basketball.

We Couldn’t Have One Without the Other

We can do this because people support us. You should support them too so they’ll want to do it again next year! The show is presented by UGP & The Bo Store, and if it wasn’t for Rishi and Ryan we’d be sighing to ourselves.

Our other sponsors are also key to all of this: HomeSure Lending, Peak Wealth Management, Ann Arbor Elder Law, the Residence Inn Ann Arbor Downtown, the University of Michigan Alumni Association, Michigan Law Grad,Human Element, Lantana Hummus and new this week introducing Ecotelligent Homes


1. The Bowl Game Happened, and Hey, a Basketball Game!

starts at 1:00

Hit Kenpom Time at 7 minutes, positive step forward for the program despite getting almost nothing from Mo and Matthews. Very different to want Z taking shots. Getting Robinson back to the bench, where he can be on the floor with Teske, is the best part of starting Livers. Typical Beilein team coming together, Teske earning equal time. Best shot at a tourney win is beat Purdue at home—RPI hell going to put a good team on the 10 line. RPI should please adopt hockey’s adjustment where if a win would lower your RPI they drop it. Does Poole need a Xanax or roll with it?

2. The Bowl Game Happened, We’ll Talk About It

starts at 32:14

Every quarterback who played this year regressed. Losing the mash brothers lost the running game. Standard crazy good D with a big safety crack on a slot fade. Not upset with the direction of the program; upset with the takes this year invited. No excuse for pass protection to be THIS bad.

3. Next Year

starts at 46:17

Defense returns Don Brown and 10-ish starters, with some backups in line for breakouts. One guy they lose is the best DT in program history but deeper team could murder a la 2016. Bring back two elite LBs with a lot of good backup options, and possibly the two best CBs in the country plus Ambry Thomas.

Offense seems pretty bad. Looks like another staff shakeup coming. RB should be fine, Ben Mason is fine at fullback, Gentry/McKeon will improve, get more from Eubanks and Wheatley. WRs won’t be all freshmen anymore. Interior OL has to get better at pass pro. Bredeson needs a jump next year since he doesn’t fit with the mash-you unit. Gotta find two tackles, can probably find at least one?

Special teams: Gotta find a punter, Nordin good.

4. Star Wars: The Last Jedi wsg Richard Hoeg of HoegLaw

starts at 1:13:28

One of our advertisers wrote a viral Star Wars take so we invited him on. Brian loathed The Force Awakens for making a 2016 remake of IV. Agree there was a Marvel-ish iconoclasm to it—this bothers Richard and Brian thinks this series badly needed it. Ryan Johnson got a crap sandwich and figured out a way to make the third movie not Return of the Jedi. Do you want Windsurfing Skywalker? Casino planet too ham-handed—important for plot because it sets up a bigger galaxy that hates the First Order.


  • “X”—Xzibit
  • “Fiery Crash”—Andrew Bird
  • “Star Wars Theme Kazoo Cover”—Morpeef
  • “Across 110th Street”


Kylo-Ren. Kylo-Rey is like they’re now dating. You’re shipping them.


Go Blue Eyes

January 3rd, 2018 at 6:14 PM ^

Hated the Last Jedi.  The Empire/First Order consists of troopers who can't shoot, builds incredibly flawed battle stations, builds ships that are just a little bit too slow to catch hospital and cargo ships, and I was more intimidated by Dark Helmet in Spaceballs than by Kylo Ren in this series. 


January 3rd, 2018 at 8:01 PM ^

I read the linked article and Richard Hoeg's take is really bad. I don't really think mgoblog is the place to get involved in a spoiler-filled debate on The Last Jedi (though if you want to get into some Babalyon 5 arguments the statute of limitations has passed and I'm your guy), but this take is really wrong:

"Crafting a compelling narrative comes with certain rules (of the game), not out of some centuries old adherence to an ancient text, but because the arcs of characterization, growth, and plot matter to whether an audience can engage with the story that is being told.  In Last Jedi it seems clear that Rian Johnson prioritized shock above all else, whether or not it made the story more compelling, better, or even coherent.  One event simply happens after the next, and the characters react"

I'm not sure what movie he was watching but TLJ is nothing but setup and payoff. Characterization, growth, and plot are developed, grow organically, and resolve logically. It's narrative elements are all very clear and intentional.


January 3rd, 2018 at 9:31 PM ^

This discussion is an encapsulation of the disagreement going on within the Star Wars fan community in general.  There are many who hated it, there are some who enjoyed it.  I'm a nerd and amongst my nerdy friends we have had the same conversations.

This movie was very polarizing to the fanbase.  Some enjoyed it and defend it, others like me thought it was absolutely horrible.


January 4th, 2018 at 4:02 PM ^

Haven't read Hoeg's article yet, but I thought his take in the podcast was reasonable.

Basically, most of The Last Jedi was a deconstruction of larger than life heroes: Legends aren't true, don't rely on million to one shots, sometimes you need to know when to cut your losses and run, crazy plans usually fail, you can't pull people out of exitential crisis just by showing up with a laser sword.

But then he throws that out and has a Big Damn Hero moment at the end for Luke (and to a lesser extent Rey), kind of undercutting the whole message.

Michigan Arrogance

January 4th, 2018 at 4:25 PM ^

I thought the point was that sometimes it works out (Luke showing up at the end) and sometimes not (Finn & Rose heading to Canto Bight). Sometimes a hero is not what you expect (Luke the 1st 2/3rs of Ep8) and sometimes, inspite of that, he really is that hero (Luke at the end).

Isn't it more interesting this way? That is, that we don't always know how things will go? Holdo (Laura Dern) seemed to be the next Leia, but wait is she a coward leading them all to death? But wait! She's getting mutinied?! No, she saves them all in a pretty epic way.


January 4th, 2018 at 4:35 PM ^

I think the order matters - if you spend the movie setting up one thing and then totally "unlearn" that lesson at the end, it undercuts the message, and it feels like the earlier disappointments were just for shock value. If it had been a mix throughout of success and failure, I'd agree with you.

Also I feel like Poe (and Rose) learned totally the wrong lesson. Poe was supposed to learn "trust that your leaders sometimes know better than you, and don't risk/sacrifice it all for tactical victories - think about the big picture". Instead they seem to have come up with "don't sacrifice lives for any reason".

Yeah, as it turned out, Finn didn't need to sacrifice himself to save the rest of the Resistance. But none of the characters involved knew that at the time. At the time, Rose doomed them all by preventing Finn from blowing up the Death Cannon Tank Thing (and really, doomed herself and Finn anyway since they would have been immediately captured had Luke not shown up, even if the First Order troops were prevented from entering the base).

Michigan Arrogance

January 4th, 2018 at 4:57 PM ^

success: we blew up the dreadnaught and escaped!

failure: but 30 ppl died that didn't have to and BeeTeeDubs, we have no more bomber fleet. also, didn't really escape

success: found luke and will bring him back and I learn about the force!

failure: well, Luke isn't what i expected and doesn't want to teach me

success: but he did come back and I did learn some stuff!

failure: didn't get the master code breaker

success: but we did get this guy DJ with a studder

failure: but we got caught and he fucked us

success: but holdo saved us

failure: no one's coming to save our ass of krait

success: Luke saves our ass!


That's the point - we don't know that everything the heros do will be successful. it's more compelling that way. I agree, upon 1st watch that it felt like RJ was just playing "gotcha!" on us. But that's more based on our expectations for what SW is and how it always has been. It has to change to grow and keep audiances interested (beyond wow-wee jedi saber battle! there's some great you tube fan fic if that's all you want).

Poe is learning how to be a leader in Ep8- instead of a hero. to think bigger than the mission he's leading today and to think more about how to ensure there's a resistance tomorrow. Hes not learning to not sacrifice anyone for anything - he's learning not to sacrifice everything for one victory.



January 4th, 2018 at 6:03 PM ^

All of your "success!" are just the preludes to the failure.... "This won't go the way you expect it to". Things don't work out like they "should". None of the million-to-one shots land. Every single plan fails until the big Jedi-ex-machina pulls their butts from the fire. Eh, maybe it's just an aesthitic thing. It didn't bother me nearly as much as it does Hoeg, but I see where he's coming from: the whole film tries to make you feel dumb for "expecting" a big SW finish, acting like it's the smarter, more sophisticated sci-fi epic, then gives you that anyway. Like having its cake and eating it too. Your take on that probably depends on how offended you are by how the film seems to expect and punish the naivete of the SW fan (and it certainly does, Rose is an obvious audience / fangirl insert and her naivete is rather brutally punished).  

I guess the "Rose saves Finn at the last second" thing really just sticks in my craw. Finn's was a good sacrifice in a desperate situation when Poe was basically told "alright go be a hero now"


January 3rd, 2018 at 8:08 PM ^

That Hoeg take starts with "I simply wanted to be told a good story" and then goes on to list about ten different requirements for the particular good story that he wanted: monomyth, black-and-white heroes and villains, static characters, dynamic relationships, world-building, gravity unleavened by humor, etc. The criticism of Luke's character development is valid. As Hardy said, you can do anything with plot and fate, but you have to be consistent with character. Johnson took a big risk with Luke's character development. I bought it, but I can understand that others wouldn't. Hoeg also is correct about critics' susceptibility to originality, although I think that is not the reason that so many loved this film.

The rest of Hoeg's criticism is a schoolboy howler. "The Last Jedi is more interested in being subversive than in telling a coherent story"? Risible. "The Last Jedi doesn't follow a traditional three-act structure." The first act ends when Leia dies; the second act ends when Snoke, his guards, and the First Order fleet die. I mean, come on, man. It's really, really hard for a story not to have a beginning, middle, and end. And Hoeg's criticism of the movie for a lack of "plot advancements" is ludicrous. If that is the standard, toss Hamlet in the garbage can. Finally, I confess to some sort of awe at associating Trump with post-modernism. That is the first time I've seen Trump branded as guilty by association with the academic intelligentsia.


January 4th, 2018 at 10:14 PM ^

This take is absurd. 




The Iliad

The Odyssey

The Oresteia



Paradise Lost

No one cares but also Paradise Regained, Paradiso, Purgatorio

All the Eddas

Canterbury Tales (almost all of them)

Decameron (same)

Wuthering Heights

Silas Marner

Any novel by Hugo or Melville


At the Mountains of Madness

Old Man and the Sea

Time Enough for Love

Ender's Game


So those are bad storytelling? Come on.


January 4th, 2018 at 4:16 PM ^

"Johnson took a big risk with Like's character development. I bought it, but I can understand that others wouldn't"

So at the end of ROTJ, Luke is an extremely confident, successful Jedi warrior. Against the advice of his mentors, he sees and attempts to bring out the Light Side in Darth Freaking Vader, and it works! This is a man who was able to see the good in the ultimate (well, apprentice ultimate) evil in the galaxy, and confidently/cockily risk everything on that bet. Not only that, he himself knows exactly what it is like to be tempted by, and then reject, the Dark Side.

So what the heck happened that he was so scared of a kid's first Dark Side temptations that he considers lightsabering him to death at the first sign of trouble? That's the part that doesn't make sense. He stared down Vader at the height of his powers and said "I still see the good in you!", but now he can't handle a pubescent emo kid and thinks he needs to murder him in his sleep?

"Bitter Luke" that became depressed when his opus ended in disaster is understandable. But the precipitating event (making Kylo think he was about to be murdered) doesn't make sense for the pre-Bitter Luke character. In attempting to add sympathy for Kylo, Johnson breaks Luke's character.  


January 4th, 2018 at 10:35 PM ^

Agreed. If it were just that, I wouldn't buy it either. And I can totally understand not reading any more into it.

But I buy it because I assume that Luke was already somewhat bitter at seeing Kylo corrupted - he had already started despairing before he raised that light saber. And he was always extremely impulsive, so I can see him raising the saber on impulse.

And then my read is that the true embittering came with Kylo's slaughter of the children. SW always glosses it over, and fans give it a pass (I assume because Vader is so damn cool), but it kind of makes me sick to see Anakin standing and smiling now at the end of ROTJ. I mean, he killed a bunch of younglings in cold blood. Good younglings. And not like 17 year-old younglings. We're talking slaughtering a whole school full of kindergarteners and pre-schoolers. You don't come back from that in my book. So when Luke saw Kylo do that, I can see him losing hope. I can see him thinking this is what the Jedi-Sith comes to, it's time to improve. What could be more heroic than being better than a Jedi?

Also I don't get the people who say that Luke isn't a hero in this movie. The last scene explicitly shows how he is those kids' hero. Luke finally literally became a Skywalker when he comets across kids' heavens. He is now in the movie a bright light in darkness inspiring people, just like he is bright lights in a dark theater inspiring people in our world. It's good metafiction. Yum.


January 4th, 2018 at 9:35 AM ^

It is difficult to be invested when the team gives away games they should win.

I'm not a football coach and I didn't stay in a Holiday Inn last night, but if your OL can't block usually the coaches will call plays to mitigate the other teams rush.  Screen passes, slants, quick outs, mis-direction, etc.  This team did none of that.  


January 3rd, 2018 at 8:59 PM ^

My apologies for the following sentence, cleverly disguised as a paragraph:

With all due respect, Brian and Ace, if someone with no other exposure to the Michigan Football program listened to your critiques of the Offense, its staff, game management (or lack thereof), player development (or lack thereof), and general incompetence, that person would be hard-pressed to conclude, as you do, that next year will be better. Simply getting some RB/FBs, blocky-catchy TE types, and WRs back doesn't sound like the basis for a championship year. So much depends on the OL, and barring some major changes in either or both of the personnel and coaching staff, it's hard to imagine some magical improvement there.


January 3rd, 2018 at 9:54 PM ^

I'm not sure what relevance the latter two have on next year's Michigan team. Andrew Luck was an incredible, experienced QB; and, barring some major rule of which I am not familiar, has used up all of his college eligibility. At best, Harbaugh has a choice between a QB who looked terrible in the bowl game, a guy who may or may not be eligible next year, and a cadre of others who haven't taken a snap.

Regarding the Super Bowl, that game is played by elite professionals who train, practice, plan, and execute at a level not found on any college team. Even the best college players don't have the luxury of devoting that kind of time to preparation. 

Finally, having "everyone back" and "Harbaugh" as the basis for assurance that "we will be better" carries just as much water as the term "regress to the mean." If the same offensive coaching staff and evident dysfunction return next year, "better" is unlikely to top 9-4.


January 4th, 2018 at 9:01 AM ^

Teams improve all the time due to physical maturation of its players; that's the entire premise of player development.  And while people around here love to hammer on the lack of player development at Michigan since the days of Gary Moeller, we have copious examples of that happening on this team over the years and it's safe to assume it will happen again.

Fans always complain about staff members and issues with parts of the team.  There will be attrition and changes to the staff, but it isn't unreasonable to assume a team that goes from having 2.5 starters from last year to many more will be better, issues at specific positions be damned.