Those Who Stayed

Submitted by Brian on October 3rd, 2011 at 11:56 AM

10/1/2011 – Michigan 58, Minnesota 0 – 5-0, 1-0 Big Ten

seniors-jug

via Mike Martin and Marissa McClain of the Daily

In the depths of Michigan's worst season ever (if you can't divide) or in a damn long time (if you can) they travelled to the Metrodome to take on the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Michigan was 2-7 and without the services of their starting quarterback. Minnesota was 7-2 and in possession of a functional offense. I was posting pictures of Death because Nick Sheridan was going to play the entire game. We were going to hit rock bottom when the Gophers picked up the jug they see once a decade, if that. "Henry Kissinger" was amongst the things projected to be more fun than the Jug game.

Because football is strange, Michigan waltzed into Minneapolis and annihilated the Gophers. The final score was 29-6; total yardage was 435-188. Nick Sheridan completed 60% of his passes and almost eclipsed 7 YPA. Justin Feagin averaged 7 yards a carry.

It was a crazy exception to the nigh-unrelenting misery of 2008. Yeah, they fluked their way into a win over Wisconsin despite getting outgained by 100 yards. Minnesota was different. If you had no knowledge of the context you would have thought it was a year like any other, a Michigan team like any other. Michigan did what they do to Minnesota: beat them without a second thought.

This week multiple newspaper folk took the time to tell people the Jug doesn't matter, but when that awful Michigan team locked arms and walked over to Jon Falk to lift up the only thing they'd held onto, it mattered. Paul Bunyan, the bowl streak, most people's sanity, all of the street cred, and huge chunks of the dignity were gone. The Jug remained.

-------------------------

Martin, Koger, Molk, and Van Bergen were freshmen on that team. Molk started. Koger, Van Bergen, and Martin played but didn't acquire stats. Recruited by Carr, they stuck it out under Rodriguez. Many of their teammates didn't.

As a reward the four above started down a path towards the least rewarding Michigan careers in decades, through little or no fault of their own. You can win Big Ten championships with those four guys as prominent starters. You have to have other people to play football around them, though, and maybe a coach or two who can tell the difference between a stuffed beaver and a 4-3 under. Michigan didn't.

In 2008 they had little on the field and even less off it. According to John Bacon's Three and Out, Lloyd Carr signed off on Justin Boren's transfer to Ohio State and upstanding citizen Jim Tressel. Morgan Trent half-assed his way through the season and tossed bombs at Rodriguez afterwards. Toney Clemons and Greg Mathews would act as sources for the Free Press jihad shortly after the season. Given the result of that investigation it's clear they did so entirely out of spite. Brandon Minor would rail on about how leadership was going to happen in 2009 as people whispered that he was a major source of its lack in 2008. There's probably never been a more dysfunctional Michigan team, and it started from the top.

Freshmen learn from seniors. This is the way of the world. Usually they learn how to be, how to maintain the standards of the program they walked into. The four guys above did it a different way: they learned what not to do. When it came time to meet for the first time in the Hoke era, they decided not to repeat the recent past. Mike Martin:

"‘What are we going to do as a team? Where are we now? We can either not be all in and do what we need to do, or we can work hard together and make sure we’re successful.’ ”

Hoke was also in the room. He remembered Robinson being upset at the media speculating his departure. He remembered fifth-year senior center David Molk getting up in that same meeting and telling everybody the team was going to stick together. …

“When (Robinson) came to us, he was addressing that we as a group — including him — need to make sure that none of the younger guys have doubtful thoughts or might want to stray away,” Martin said. “We didn't want there to be a repeat of last time there was a transfer of a coach.”

Meanwhile, Van Bergen called out the program alums who'd drifted away when times got tough. The message was clear: this is our program. We've been here for four years and gotten nothing but crap. We've paid more dues than anyone in the last 40 years of Michigan football, and now we'd like some payoff.

-------------------------------

That payoff was going to be an Alamo Bowl at best. But the seniors' effort, Greg Mattison's expertise, Denard Robinson's existence, the Big Ten's complete horribleness, and Brady Hoke's rectal horseshoe now tempt hope.

Michigan State can't run or stay within three scores of Notre Dame. Nebraska can't throw or keep a good running offense under 30 points. Iowa can't beat Iowa State. It may be a division race on par with one of those years Wake Forest won the ACC, but by God there is a tinny flimsy division championship there to be acquired. Even if it wouldn't be much—in all likelihood it would be a historical footnote after a curbstomping at the hands of Wisconsin—it would at least somewhat fulfill a promise Bo made when he arrived in 1969.

No one's deserved it more than the four guys above. It's relatively easy to be a "Michigan Man" when it's handed down to you. Koger, Martin, Molk, and Van Bergen had to figure it out on their own. They stayed, and figured it out when available evidence suggested being a Michigan Man was endorsing transfers to Free Tattoo University, telling recruits to go to Michigan State, and selling out your own program to a couple of hacks.

A few years ago on the eve of the Ohio State game that ended to that miserable 2008 season I wrote a thing about being an anchorless mid-20s person who is uncertain of where to go or who to be and is sad as a result. In that piece I envisioned Michigan's coaches telling their charges how to get out of this hole:

Some of you will stay. And you will go insane. You will work, and you will work, and we will build something here from nothing. Because, make no mistake, this is nothing. You will build something out of this. If you're a senior next year and you teach some freshman something, you will build something. If you're a freshman and you refuse to quit on your stupid decision, you will build something.

What you build will be yours. Few in the great history of his university have had that opportunity. Everything came based on what came before. They were part of a great chain, now broken.

Those of you who stay will forge a new one, starting today. When we are done we will fix the last link to the broken chain, and break the first link, and tell those who come after us to live up to it.

Whether or not Michigan manages a championship, flimsy or real, Michigan's seniors have done this. This Is Michigan again because they stayed.

Non-Bullets Of Domination

Photogallery. Via the Ann Arbor Observer and Eric Upchurch:

A favorite:

devin-denard-postgame

The two QB formation thing. So that was something. That and the double pass touchdown reminded me of that Indiana game prior to Football Armageddon (IIRC) when Michigan dumped out a zillion trick plays to force the opponent to prepare for extra stuff. I didn't like it then and hope that's not the case now, not least because after the first play the thing seemed pretty effective. Gardner implied that was not the case:

“It’s really, really dangerous. We’ve also got Fitzgerald Toussaint back there and Vincent Smith," he said. "You’re going to have to wait and see. It’s going to be pretty dangerous.”

Items:

What to call it? Hoke refused to answer a direct question about what we should call it, so it's up to us. Vincent Smith suggests "two," which is a little bland. Ace got a "diamond of doom" suggestion on Twitter; while that's catchy it's also long and jinxtastic. Naturally, Ace wants to extend it to "Denard and Devin's Diamond of Doom" because it abbreviates to DDDD and if there's one thing Ace likes it's repetitive hexadecimal numbers.

But that's long and a bit awkward. Since it's a goofy, misdirection-heavy everyone's-a-QB thing that reminds people of the Mad Magicians I propose calling it "Fritz." It's not exactly what Crisler used to do…

…but what "Fritz" lacks in outright accuracy it makes up for in Getting-Itness.

[BONUS extreme history nerd BONUS: This has set frequent correspondent John Kryk alight with references to not Crisler but Notre Dame's Frank Leahy, who deployed a T formation with a close resemblance to Fritz.

image

Michigan sort of ran the above. Kryk actually has a diagram in which the T looks identical to Fritz:

image

I'm pretty sure we'll all way too abuzz about a formation we'll see maybe a half-dozen times the rest of the season, but old-timey football is always cool to see in the flesh. It's why Georgia Tech games remain an abiding fascination.]

Why does the outside pitch not bother me so much in that formation? When we run the I-form fake-dive-to-pitch it's just asking the opposition to key on the running back flying out to the corner because Michigan never runs the dive, and even if they did defenses are like "BFD." When we ran it from Fritz it played off the earlier speed option.

Is it a tenable package against real opposition? If the wildcat can work I don't see why this can't.

Triple option? May be on the way.

Records. Some happened. Smith's touchdown cycle had not been accomplished in the modern era:

It was the first time a player has ran, thrown and passed for a score in modern Michigan football history (post-World War II).

That seemed like a given. I'm waiting for MVictors to dig up the dude who managed it in 1923, because I know it's happened and I know he will.

helmets-numbers

via Eric Upchurch and the Ann Arbor Observer.

Our helmets have wings… and numbers! Let's avoid the inevitable Rodriguez tradition rehash. It's already been done. Personal opinion of them: whateva. On a scale from 10 to –10 where 10 is Denard, –10 is Pop Evil, and 0 is total indifference I'm a –0.1. I'd rather not have the uniforms futzed with but the numbers have some history to them, don't look terrible, and are a minor adjustment.

I think Hoke should say he'll yank 'em if they lose, though.

On-field takeaways. Minnesota is very not good—we were playing a pretend game where the Gophers got a touchdown every time they crossed midfield and a point every time they succesfully fielded a kickoff and they still lost by 30. So disclaimers apply.

That said: Denard throwing to his receivers—and getting the opportunity to hit some short, confidence-building throws—was encouraging, as was the almost total lack of I-form even deep into the third quarter. That seems like an abandonment. If they were still working on it they would have pulled it out just to practice it, no?

Short stuff. AnnArbor.com's Kyle Mienke notes that of Michigan's first 11 passes, eight were five yards or less. He categorizes that crazy seam to Hopkins as "another was over the top to a leaking fullback," which is a goofy thing to try to lump into easy passes for Denard confidence. That was pure DO.

Patrick Omameh. Some evidence he might be struggling in the new offense: he was left on the field much longer than any of the other starters save Schofield, who was forced into the starting lineup by the Barnum injury and was granted time at tackle late.

Possible liberation society addendum. I'm so over the rollouts. It seems like the only way to get Denard Robinson pressured is to roll him out into unblocked contain defenders, which Michigan does plenty. If you leave him in the pocket people are terrified to get out of their lanes and he usually has a lot of time. If you put him on the edge against defenses keying on him he doesn't get outside and he has to make rushed throws on the move that seem to be more inaccurate than his usual ones.

I guess the rollouts do open up the throwback stuff, which has been very successful. And they did insert a heavy dose of sprint draw (AKA That Goddamned Counter Draw), something I've been pleading for since Rodriguez's arrival. So they might be developing a package there. They've got to figure out how to block it.

FWIW, I wasn't a fan of showing the sprint draw against an incompetent opponent. I'd rather Michigan's future opponents not prepare for a potentially game-breaking play. But I've got no evidence behind that.

Field goals. We haz them?

Here

Hoke for tomorrow is getting a little ahead of itself:

It is not hard to see the qualities of Bo in Brady Hoke.  At first I cringed at his seeming overconfidence, at his seeming overuse of Bo-isms, and wondered if he was trying too hard to win Michigan fans' hearts with his bravado.  I don't doubt the man any longer. Brady Hoke has a Bo-like level of expectations for those he leads.  He has expectations of effort, execution, and yes "toughness" that no coach since Bo has required from both his players and his staff.  Hoke isn't making Michigan great again by being an innovator on either side of the ball; he is acquiring the best available parts, constructing a beast-machine, and driving the thing to eventual domination.

These feelings must be fought until the Michigan State game. ST3 goes inside the box score:

This is the section where I discuss turnovers and other momentum changing plays. There was one burst of impetus in this game. Minnesota kicked off to start the game. That's it. They were never in it. I bet that "adjusted winning percentage" diary shows us pegged at 100% for the duration.

Lloyd Brady is unstoppable.

Elsewhere

Media as in files. Melanie Maxwell's Ann Arbor.com gallery.

100111_SPT_MICHIGAN_MINN_JNS_01_fullsize[1]

WHY DID YOU GIVE ME CANCER GOLDY
i… I was just trying to field a kickoff

MNB Nation gallery and some pregame shots. MVictors gets various field shots, including one of Will Hagerup's shoes:

purple2_thumb[1]

I think he may have altered that shot but will check. Greg also has a bunch of jug pictures. Troy Woolfolk posted this on his twitter:

x2_8942dfb[1]

The explanation: "My girl is always experimenting on me." I have no idea? I have no idea.

And finally, eagle-eyed mgouser M Fanfare caught an epic double point from Hoke:

brady-hoke-epic-double-point

In other Brady Hoke Points At Stuff news, Brady Hoke points at stuff.

Media, as in unwashed internet rabble. I have no idea what "Everybody pants now" means, but if you watch Parks and Rec you probably do. Amongst Adam Jacobi's things he learned in the conference this week:

So while it's easy to just say "But 2010" whenever someone mentions the fact that Michigan is still undefeated, there's one difference that's crucial to point out: the defense is showing up too. Last season, Michigan gave up over 25 points per game in its first five games. This year? 10.2. Yes, it's relevant that 31 points came against Notre Dame in a game the Wolverines had zero business winning and 20 came against tomato cans like Eastern Michigan and Minnesota, but consider that Michigan also spanked Western Michigan 34-10, and that's a Broncos team that came up just shy in a 23-20 loss at Illinois and just took a 38-31 win at Connecticut. So yes, given the context we've got, Michigan is not just pulling a 2010.

Jacobi's still not banking on Michigan "surviving" our "brutal November," but if not surviving means not winning the division instead of collapsing to 7-5 I don't think Michigan fans are going to be too peeved.

Touch the Banner:

Blake Countess is the next Leon Hall.  Yep, I said it.  Minnesota doesn't have the greatest talent in the world, but Countess has looked pretty darn good for two weeks in a row.  Courtney Avery had a nice 83-yard fumble return for a touchdown, but Avery has been getting beaten more regularly than any of Michigan's other corners this year.  He's still not bad, but it looks like Countess will grab a starting spot sooner rather than later.

The Hoover Street Rag notes it was appropriate that Michigan tried a transcontinental-type play on the same day they honored John Navarre, though in that case they were attempting a double pass, not a run. Was anyone else OUTRAGED that the Navarre highlight package didn't include the Buffalo Stampede? That's like having an Alan Branch highlight package without the Morelli elimination.

Holdin' the Rope:

That was an old school Michigan blowout, like the ones you'd watch on ESPN Plus (memory lane, you are there now) back in the day, where nothing was ever in doubt and The Law was that Michigan would average a billion yards a carry under a grumpy Michigan sky. It's always the ideal of overindulgence, and if anything it's a reminder of how far we've come since 2008 when beating Minnesota on the road was considered an upset.

Maize and Go Blue likes getting it. BWS hates RR for not getting it.

Media as in newspaper type things. Brian Bennett's take from the ESPN Big Ten blog:

f and when Minnesota can get back to being competitive in the Big Ten, the Gophers can use Saturday's game as a motivational tool.

Hopefully for them, they'll remember this as rock bottom. Because Michigan blew the doors off Jerry Kill's team in a 58-0 humiliation at the Big House. The Wolverines have dominated this Little Brown Jug series for the last 40 years, but Saturday's margin of victory was the largest in the long-running semi-rivalry. It was the fifth-largest win in Michigan history, and that's a lot of history there.

Are we seriously declaring a knee to end the game as a failed redzone opportunity, News?

For Michigan, this game was a chance to flex its muscles offensively and defensively, add a few wrinkles and give as many players as possible — in this case, 71 — an opportunity to play. Michigan was 8-of-9 in the red zone against the Gophers and is now 21-of-22 for the season (17 touchdowns and four field goals).

No, we are not.

Via the Daily, some facts that sum up last year's field goal kicking:

The three field goals were each career longs [for Gibbons] at the time, starting from 25 yards and going to 32 yards and to 38 yards. In five games this season he’s missed just one field goal — a 40-yard try against San Diego State.

Jennings on Vincent Smith's diverse day. Rothstein on Michigan's domination.

Comments

chitownblue2

October 3rd, 2011 at 3:11 PM ^

just combing through the lists of guys that showed up for the alumni football game (that Rich organized):

James Hall

Lamarr Woodley

Ron Bellamy

Zia Combs

Ben Mast

Marcus Ray

Josh Williams

Chuck Winters

Pierre Woods

Jason Carr

Will Carr

Andy Mignery

John Navarre

Phil Brab

Troy Nienburg

A-Train

Aaron Shea

Mark Bihl

Larry Foote

Bradent Englemon

bziegs99

October 3rd, 2011 at 7:53 PM ^

Solid work on that. There isn't a guy on that list that you would think of as not a Michigan Man through and through. Guys like Marcus Ray and Will Carr who never went on to big NFL careers but carry so much respect from anyone who watched them play week in and week out. Just solid citizens that make you proud to be associated with the UofM. The great thing about the program is that there maybe middle of the road players but there are no middle of the road men.

JeffDC

October 3rd, 2011 at 12:55 PM ^

that David Molk does indeed have teeth.  Nice to seem him smile (and have ample reason to).  I love that kid.

Brian, the opening to this post was brilliant.  The more you know about these kids, the more you want to seem them rewarded.  And dammit, if I have to teach 95% of Michigan fans in twenty years how this group of seniors saved Michigan football, I hope I can still link back to these posts to do it.

Other Andrew

October 3rd, 2011 at 1:25 PM ^

I came away from this game feeling that it somehow meant something. It shouldn't, right? Minnesota is horrendous, and while it's not Baby Seal U, nobody should get ahead of themselves. I think you've put it in the right perspective, Brian, and found the words for my jumbled mix of thoughts. I simply can't wait for these next two weeks to find out what we're really made of..,.

Drbogue

October 3rd, 2011 at 1:32 PM ^

There was a time (somewhere between my UofM years 93-02) that I would watch the rankings with an eagle eye. Each Sunday, the AP would come out at noon and the coach's poll in the early evening. I'd sit down and hope for a huge uptick in Michigan's stock. I'd forecast the next week's ranked matchups, hoping for the higher ranked team to get blown out and for Michigan to jump yet again.

Then there was 2008.

Now, when I see Michigan ranked, I cringe. I pray for some unknown MWC team to leapfrog us. All this so I don't have to see the fall from grace as a tumbling number in Red Section of USA Today (ah, newspapers for hangovers... or 6th graders). Am I the only one with this strange sense of impending doom?

I'm hoping this changes. There seems to be something in the Michigan air this year. The Tigers are in the playoffs, the Lions(!) are undefeated, the Red Wings begin their dominance next week, and thankfully the Pistons will be a lock-out. The stars are aligning, and if that means MSU/OSU suck this year, so be it! God Bless and Go BLUE! 

snoopblue

October 3rd, 2011 at 1:32 PM ^

I'm happy the schedule turned out as it has. These guys could win 10-11 games in the regular season, maybe even win the Leaders and go to the B1G Championship game. Wisconsin isn't invincible either, Bielema is good to choke up once a season. Yeah, I'm being extremely optimistic, but after reading this post how can you not be? You almost want to be for those guys who stayed.

JohnnyV123

October 3rd, 2011 at 1:35 PM ^

Remember it was the announcers on the game who said that the taking a knee was the first time MIchigan failed in the red zone first.

Injuries are never blessings but when Blake Countess went in last week I was so happy to see a Michigan corner again be able to have great closing speed and put pressure on receivers rather than let them just catch the ball. Love the way he plays.

Also nice to see Rawls. Fred Jackson hyperbole aside the guy looks like a classic Michigan RB.

It's nice to have high hopes for the division championship right now but don't forget what Notre Dame's defense did to us for the majority of the game. I'd like to believe that the game plan we threw in against Minnesota was good enough to do way better against Notre Dame but until I see us against the really good Michigan State defense (and don't just say it was an inept Ohio State) I'm keeping expectations low.

bml

October 3rd, 2011 at 1:39 PM ^

I don't like "Fritz" because it's a synonym for something not working. You don't want a formation called "The Shitshow" or "The Hindenberg."

Lionsfan

October 3rd, 2011 at 1:45 PM ^

This guys are definitely some of my favorite players ever, they might not accomplish/be a part of much success compared to guys like Braylon or Morgan Trent but the way they acted shows their true nature. One set of guys stuck around basically on an island with little guidance while others used their past here to act like a bunch of prima donna's

Yostbound and Down

October 3rd, 2011 at 1:47 PM ^

Somebody on ESPN said the "Two" formation was like a blown-up victory formation (i.e. for taking a knee). I hereby propose we call it the Victors formation. Although Fritz definitely isn't a bad call...that offense in the video was incredibly confusing to follow.

ATLWolverine

October 4th, 2011 at 12:51 PM ^

this is your masterpiece. I don't agree with everything that you write (e.g. saying the 2007 seniors didn't deserve to play in the Capital One Bowl and were going to get murdered by Florida), but your perspective here rivals almost anything I've read on RBUAS. So proud of these seniors, who are as concerned about their legacy to the program and guiding the freshman who will follow in their footsteps as they are with winning games.

Mr. Yost

October 3rd, 2011 at 1:52 PM ^

I'm emotional as shit from reading that piece. I want a helmet so I can line up alongside Koger, Molk, Martin and Van Bergen.

 

In all seriousness, I will be sharing that write-up with anyone and everyone. It's a shame that the Freep makes money writing garbage and that was a million times better than anything I've ever read on Freep.com...when I did visit that site years ago.

 

This needs to get on ESPN, Yahoo, something...it's such a great story.

Hugh

October 3rd, 2011 at 2:37 PM ^

With the running and passing talent on this team, maybe it is time to bring back the Michigan single wing. The only problem is that the quarterback never touches the ball. He just opens up holes for the runners.

 

uminks

October 3rd, 2011 at 2:47 PM ^

We might as well call the play double jugs!

At any rate, it is great to see this group of seniors being such great leaders!  DROB is one as well!  Keep playing as a team guys and I'm sure we'll get many more victories this season. As long as the team plays well I'd be happy with 8-4 but it starting to look more like 10-2. I see us taking out OSU and playing tough against NU, MSU, IA and NE, half of which we may win.

TXmaizeNblue

October 3rd, 2011 at 3:02 PM ^

I think the "two" formation should be called the 3D-formation, for the following reasons.

1.  Denard, Devin, Diamond

2.  They are definately coming at you...

3.  Everything else is going 3D, so why not an offensive formation.

MGoJen

October 3rd, 2011 at 3:03 PM ^

I remember printing out Brian's "Age of MIracles" post immediately after reading it (minutes after it was posted) and absolutely bawling in my office.  It described exactly where I was in my life at that time.  I still have that original print out pinned up to my board in my office.

 I'm home sick today, and probably a little emotional, but reading this column made me tear up, too.  Absolutely amazing. 

Mr. Yost

October 3rd, 2011 at 3:22 PM ^

I'm emotional as shit from reading that piece. I want a helmet so I can line up alongside Koger, Molk, Martin and Van Bergen.

 

In all seriousness, I will be sharing that write-up with anyone and everyone. It's a shame that the Freep makes money writing garbage and that was a million times better than anything I've ever read on Freep.com...when I did visit that site years ago.

 

This needs to get on ESPN, Yahoo, something...it's such a great story.

echoWhiskey

October 3rd, 2011 at 3:28 PM ^

On the transcontinental play, I believe Gardner confirmed in the post-grame pc that is was supposed to be a double-pass but he didn't have time.  Navarre hat-tip complete!

harmon98

October 3rd, 2011 at 3:50 PM ^

I'd love to know what's going on in Lace's head when they're lined up in the Fritz.  Gun to my head he's all smiles saying to himself:  "This is CRAZY! This is CRAZY! This is CRAZY!..."

Blue boy johnson

October 3rd, 2011 at 4:31 PM ^

I am having a tough time grappling with the "senior leadership" thing, where it emanates from and how it is directed. While I  think Van Bergen, Molk, Martin et al deserve major kudos for their exemplary leadership, I also think Hoke did a masterful job of eliciting leadership out of his upperclassmen. I have a feeling that Hoke and his No Michigan Man Left Behind Act has resonated strongly and resoundingly within the team. The sincere way in which Hoke deflects any accolades away from himself and towards "those kids" or "Michigan" has had a wonderful affect.

While some want to bury Carr and some want to bury RR, Hoke has no time for such nonsense and spends his time lifting up this team. Josh Groban reference unintended. This blog spends an inordinate amount of time looking for people to blame and steers too many matters in the pursuit of a fall guy. This post of Brian's is just another example. Brian is salivating in his words at the prospect of placing blame over what transpired the last 3-5 years. Brian needs to get BOOM Hoked'd

robpollard

October 3rd, 2011 at 4:33 PM ^

It probably should be bigger than me to think this way about a college athlete, but it makes me feel good he's now a receiver with only 11 catches on a 1-4 Colorado team that is currently 29 point underdogs to their next opponent, Stanford.  Too bad for you, Toney.

ATLWolverine

October 3rd, 2011 at 5:35 PM ^

you really should be bigger than rooting for a 20 year old kid to underachieve at collegiate athletics.

Leaving a program because of a coaching change and objecting to the regime on the way out isn't outrageous behavior for a teenager. Clemons is a good kid by all reports, wish him well.

robpollard

October 3rd, 2011 at 6:12 PM ^

I don't wish anything on Sam McGuffie, Cullen Christian, Dann O'Neill, etc  (insert many, many names here).  I hope those guys have success.

I specifically don't think Toney Clemons deserves "wish him well" b/c he DID do "outrageous behavior" - his ginning up controversy with the Free Press.  That's far more than just leaving a program (which happens all the time, understandably) and not liking the regime change (which is why they leave in the first place).

There's a way to leave and a way not to leave - Toney chose the latter and Michigan was worse off for it.  And now, unfortunately for him, so is he b/c he chose Colorado.

Reader71

October 3rd, 2011 at 4:36 PM ^

Your hypothetical RichRod-to-2008-team speech was a nice piece or writing, but it is insane nonetheless.

I'm sure the worst coach in the history of the program would like to paint the situation in those types of strokes (ie, 'few have had this wonderful opportunity"). The problem is that said opportunity isn't wonderful and it certainly isn't why any kid comes to Michigan. A guy goes to Michigan preceisely because he wants to continue that great tradition; when recruited, he is told of the Jug, the story behind the helmets, the fact that he is entering the winningest program in college sports, etc. If he wants to build something from nothing, and is a local kid, he probably goes to State.

So while I'm proud of Martin, Van Bergen, Molk, and Koger for sticking with Michigan through the dark time and reaching the light (it seems), I also feel bad for them. They missed out on almost all of the great things that other Michigan players had a chance to experience. Their experience will be unlike any others that came before them. They certainly share a brotherhood with other alumni, but they are a band apart, and not for a good reason. I played a few seasons under Lloyd Carr. I will not be able to relate to David Molk (who I love) as much as to a player who played under Bo, or to many players who will play under Hoke in the coming years.

In my opinion, this is the single greatest thing about Brady Hoke. He gets the tradition, he loves the tradition. He talks about 42 Big Ten championships regularly. He is proud to coach this program. He makes the kids proud to play for this program.

I hate to speculate, because I don't know RichRod, but it seemed he didn't care. He looked at coaching UM as he would coaching at WVU or anywhere else. It isn't like anywhere else, and I think this is one of the main reasons he failed. He also clearly didn't give a shit (or know anything) about defense. But those are tactical decisions, which do not bother me too mcuh. I don't care that Michigan plays out of the spread. Whatever wins. Bo ran the option. My problem with RR was philosophical, and not really football-specific. I think the head coach's job is more to oversee things, to craft an atmosphere, to scare kids (and coaches) straight, and to instill a pride in the Michigan Way that is so deep that it affects everything the kids do.

Brady Hoke, on the other hand, I do know. I know the old Michigan way. I played on a few of  Carr's teams. And Hoke has done everything he can to bring the old ways back. I don't think it is coincidence that we are winning again.

A short example and I'm out. The kids refusing to tell the media the name of the 2QB formation is very similar to our teams never commenting on injuries. This isn't a coincidence; we were coached. Lloyd told us to answer injury questions with, "Ask coach". He would invariably respond to the question with, "You'll have to ask the player". This isn't a big deal, but it builds a strong team bond - Us vs. The World. The media used to call Schembechler Hall Fort Schembechler because nothing came out of there. Again, not hugely important on the outside, but it did make a difference to us that were inside. I venture to say that if RR had installd similar policies, this Freep thing might never have occurred. 

coastal blue

October 3rd, 2011 at 4:55 PM ^

get destroyed by mobile quarterbacks, blow leads late in the games and lose to Appalachian State in 2014? 

Honestly, the people who say that we are winning because Hoke installed "tradition" back to Michigan are the dumbest folks alive. It's right up there with "toughness" for things that people irrationally place value for success in football. 

We are winning because we have more talented than 4 out of the 5 teams we have faced and because we were extremely lucky against Notre Dame. Tradition did not win that game. Junior Hemingway and Jeremy Gallon picking jump balls out of the air did. Notre Dame shooting themselves in the foot helped us win that game. Denard Robinson being able to hit Hemingway for a 77 yard gain while being dragged down by a DL won us that game. 

We are winning because guys on defense that shouldn't have seen the field last year are now more game ready (ask Courtney Avery). 

We are winning because we have a high quality - and, let's be honest with a wink and a nod,   highly paid -  defensive coordinator who has been a success wherever he's gone. 

It has zero to do with tradition and everything to do with actual improvements in our squad, luck and the talents of our players. 

Please, shut up about the tradition.