Unverified Voracity Clocks It

Submitted by Brian on September 28th, 2009 at 2:51 PM


Michigan Stadium circa 1955, or thereabouts.

Shirt notes! 1) We printed up a limited-edition run of Notre Dame date/score t-shirts for your delectation. Get them before they are gone forever. Also, for Ann Arbor folk who want shirts but would like to avoid shipping charges, MGoShirts are now available at Underground's Ann Arbor store on South U.

For a good cause. Note: the Pat Maloy Charity Auction, which seeks to establish (now, continue) an endowed kinesiology scholarship in the name of the late Professor Maloy, a guy who had a far-reaching effect on everyone who experienced his teaching. They've got a ton of Michigan memorabilia up for purchase; I suggest you check it out. Goes to a good cause. Robert Haddad has some personal thoughts for you if you're not quite moved yet.

It was dumb for exactly the wrong reason. Much controversy in the aftermath of the Purdue-Notre Dame game concerning Danny Hope's timeout before third and goal. Here's a typical Boiler response:

Why the $%*&@!!!!!!!!!!!! did we call a timeout?

And here's Charlie Weis:

"That kind of helped us out a little bit right there," Weis said. "We were going to clock it, so we made sure we had one play left....It didn't end up paying any dividends for us, because we didn't score on that third down call. But we had an opportunity to gather our thoughts and get the right call for fourth down."

What? Is Charlie Weis actually suggesting that Notre Dame was going to spike the ball on third down? That's the interpretation of Brian Hamilton:

The Irish were set to spike the ball to kill the clock and leave themselves just one play to score.

Notre Dame had 37 seconds when Hope took his timeout. If Weis is actually claiming ND would have spiked it instead, he's either a liar or an idiot. I'm going with the former since there is no college coach in the country that would blow a down on third and goal with 37 seconds left. Even if you're an idiot, you have 20 seconds to think to yourself "maybe we should throw a fade to one of our 6'4" wide receivers, that would probably be better than chucking a ball straight into the ground."

Anyway, the larger issue: Purdue's error here was not in calling the timeout. You can't bank on the opposing coach making the dumbest coaching move since Marty Mornhinweg took the wind. Notre Dame was going to get all four shots at the endzone either way. The error was in not blowing the remainder of their timeouts in an effort to keep a reasonable amount of time on the clock for a potential response. Purdue should have called timeout after Notre Dame got first and goal; doing so would have saved another 20 seconds or so and given Purdue 40 seconds instead of 20 on their final drive. When you only need a field goal that's a big deal.

Hey, man, Smart Football agrees with me. QED.

Adios, Keith*. A reader recently asked about Keith Jackson's 1998 retirement tour stop at Michigan Stadium, which I remember fondly. He asked for what video existed of the game and I asked Wolverine Historian if he had it. He did, of course, because he is ninja like that:

Really wish they had provided the whole thing, but that's life. Jackson's evident emotion at his last game at Michigan Stadium is something I've treasured as a Michigan fan. I generally adhere to the belief that people who go around talking about their program as if it is the be-all and end-all are unpleasant, but the idea that Keith Jackson thought Michigan was a special place defies that cynicism.

*(Sort of, anyway. Jackson decided to un-retire and did a selection of Pac-10 games for a few more years. He stuck to the West Coast, though, and this was his last appearance at Michigan Stadium. [UPDATE: Wrong. Jackson did the 2003 M-OSU game.)

Van Bergen's error. Clarification on what Van Bergen did wrong on Indiana's 85-yarder from the man himself:

"I made the wrong check," Van Bergen said. "It doesn't happen very often, but it was independently on me. It almost cost the team a big loss, and I would have blamed that completely on myself." …

"We were supposed to be running blitz to the boundary and I checked to field," he said. "It's something very basic, and I shouldn't have made that mistake."

So it wasn't anything after the snap but what led up to it that was the error. I do remember that run looking almost indefensible given Michigan's alignment.

Yes, as GSimmons reminds, this sort of thing makes it difficult to hand out pluses and minuses as individually as I do in UFR. For the record: I do try to take the difficulty of making a particular play into account and often let players off when it seems clear that the defense was just not right for that particular situation. Also, UFR attempts to be useful, not gospel.

Other game stuff: Brown was absent for much of the middle of the game with a minor injury, Moosman put the onus on himself on the snap fiascoes (but he was not the guy who was called for lining up off the LOS, that was Ortmann), Donovan Warren insist he's the guy who caught the ball. (Full transcript of Moosman's postgame interview.)

Advertisin' note. The M-Den is running a special that's about to run out: $5 shipping on any order. Orders of more than $200 have been and will be free. As always, if you don't shop at the M-Den, you hate America.

Etc.: Have had a couple requests for a high-res downloadable version of the preseason hype video. You can download it here; right click and "save as". Week 4 hype video. GS has last week's run chart up; never linked to it.


Michigan Arrogance

September 28th, 2009 at 3:22 PM ^

I think the pic predates the mid 50s. the scoreboard is analog (not electronic). i thought the elec scoreboards (that remained until the current ones went up in 1998) went in in the late 40s or 1950. they were the 1st electronic boards in the nation, IIRC.

all based on memory, so confirmation is encouraged


September 28th, 2009 at 3:33 PM ^

Actually, I sent that photo to Brian. It came from my parents' house, and they attended U-M in the mid-1950s. My mother did not recall the date of that particular photo, but the others in that set were from 1955-57.

Obviously if it could confirmed that the digital scoreboard went in by 1950, that would trump her recollection.


September 28th, 2009 at 3:23 PM ^

Clausen was going to spike the ball on third down. As incredibly dumb as it may seem, he was motioning that he was going to spike the ball. That is why the timeout saved ND. There was plenty of time to run a play but that was not ND's intent until the TO saved Charlie from himself.


September 28th, 2009 at 3:36 PM ^

Do you remember the trick play when Dan Marino (as QB of the Dolphins) motioned for a spike, caught the defense off guard, and threw a TD pass? Maybe that's what Weis had called. Weis has his flaws, but I cannot believe he would throw away a down in that situation.


September 28th, 2009 at 3:52 PM ^

You aren't allowed to fake taking a knee in college. That happened last week in the TT-UT game. Potts faked taking a knee and the refs called it dead and Leach went ape shit. The booth did a pretty good job of clarifying not too long after the play that you aren't allowed to fake taking a knee. So, just extra info, I'm not sure if that applies to the fake spike or not.


September 28th, 2009 at 4:02 PM ^

Its a possibility but the plan was to spike it on 3rd down to run the same 4th down play that we ended up running. They were going to spike it to make a personnel change and use the extra time to make sure everyone had their assignment.

Clausen had already been given the plays and plan by Weis in the earlier timeout. So it essentially gave 1 more play that we expected. How ever you view it, taking the time to get everyone ready for 4th down might have been the key to success on the drive.


September 28th, 2009 at 3:40 PM ^

funny in the Warren interview, Angelique from the News ducks down to not get in the camera shot...then later, the weasel Snyder runs to get his tape recorder....typical Freep...late to the party. Anyway, he will probably just make up some stuff for whatever he missed. :(


September 28th, 2009 at 5:07 PM ^

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September 28th, 2009 at 5:55 PM ^

Loved hearing Jackson calling games.

After one particularly hard tackle: "that's called a 'lick'..."

God bless him, he's the one who came up with/made famous, "the Big House".


September 28th, 2009 at 8:09 PM ^

RVB may have made a mistake but Kovacs took a horrible angle to the ball carrier. I know he is only a walk-on, but he is following in the footsteps of other Michigan safeties (Mundy, S. Brown) that would take horrible angles to the ball carrier. When you are a safety....in that situation particularly....play it safe and give up the 35 yard gain....take a conservative angle.


September 29th, 2009 at 1:15 AM ^

It was Keith's wish to come back to Ann Arbor to broadcast the 100th meeting between Michigan and Ohio State in 03. I was happy he returned but I do remember him butchering several names and a few stats throughout that game. It was not up to his normal high broadcasting standards from the past. I felt a little embarrassed for him. But he'll always be a legend in my book.

Several years ago as part of a tribute, ESPN Classic showed 3 of Keith Jackson's all time favorite college football games. One of them was our 1998 Rose Bowl victory over Washington State. If you didn't know how much respect he had for UM, you would then. Especially since WSU is Jackson's alma mater.

Blue in Saint Lou

September 29th, 2009 at 4:06 AM ^

Mornhinweg took the wind? The way I remember it in the post-game presser he said something completely asinine to the effect of "our defense was playing so well I thought we could stop them" (despite the fact that their D had just given up the game tying drive to send it to OT). Maybe he later rationalized it by saying something about the wind? My point is, it was the worst coaching decision of all time because it lacked any logic based on reality. He apparently thought they could win the game simply by stopping the Bears from scoring.


September 29th, 2009 at 9:27 AM ^

We remember Jackson.

We remember Ufer.

We won't have the same memories of Pam Ward.

I don't think, however, that anybody has really talked about how this is a negative effect of the nationalizing of college sports.

I'm wondering if there is a way to regain that quality broadcasting that comes from having the same (local) commentators do every game for a certain team.

Think how much Detroit fans appreciate Mickey Redmond and Ken Daniels. They're too biased, of course, to do the Playoffs. But then, Detroit fans have bemoaned the comparatively awful commentary from Versus et al. in the postseason. It's not that Darren Pang is bad at NHL announcing -- we love Mickey!

This thought struck me while at the Ernie Harwell tribute game last week. There is a MAJOR market for home-known broadcasters in major markets. Do it long enough, and well enough, and that broadcaster becomes a commodity.

Think about it: why do we really love Bob Ufer, Keith Jackson, Ernie Harwell, Mickey Redmond? Because we got used to them! Because we heard them enough to associate their voices with our teams, and they got wrapped up in that part of our souls where fandom resides. They don't have to be excellent at it -- nobody has any dislike of Mario and Rod, right? Heck, George Kell and Al Kaline were universally scorned in the broadcast world, but when I close my eyes and think of Tiger baseball it's George and Al voices providing the color.

How have Disney (ABC, ESPN) and the Big Ten Network missed this until now?

Well, because they don't see an incentive. It's cheaper to have a few well-paid broadcast teams that you move around, rather than pay one or two guys in each market. Also, most of these games are televised beyond the markets that are playing, and Indiana fans, or for that matter Big Ten region fans switching in during a break in MSU/Wisc wouldn't want to hear some Michigan homer doing commentary. A sterile group of broadcasters can have one feed sent across the country for games that go national.

So that's the incentive that Disney (it's mostly them making this decision) has for giving us Pam Ward instead of a new Keith Jackson.

But then, for really big markets (like Michigan), I think there is still a possibility for a homer broadcaster to cover himself. Figure a guy like that would get a salary of $55-$75G/year. You still need to send the other team to the game to make it a national broadcast, so you don't save anything there. I think Disney and BTN could probably split that salary, so the hit, for them, is not all that large.

Where you make all of this back is you then have a commodity in that fan community. Your commodity becomes a fixture in local media, which means payouts. In cash register noises:

  • Your guy does a BTN show once a week (Ka-CHING!)
  • Your guy does a local Detroit sports talk show twice a week (KA-CHING!)
  • Your guy runs a blog for that team (Ka-CHING!)
  • Your guy is brought in by local businesses to do community appearances and fundraisers (Ka-CHING!)
  • As the broadcaster's base informedness about a team increases, fans also feel a need to become more informed, which means they will be more likely to avail themselves of team-related media. (Ka-CHING!)
  • Your broadcast product for that team is significantly improved, not only because a guy who focuses on one team will be significantly more informed about that team, but because fans will develop a bond that subconsciously keeps them looking forward to watching the game. Meaning you get better local ratings. Meaning: Ka-CHING!

That's not just a market; it's an entire Pink Floyd song!

What you essentially have here is a manufactured star, who can do all the things a star player would do for a franchise. In college football this could be hugely valuable, since the actual athletes are not available to the media and community, and only other face of the program, the HC, is way too busy.

It wouldn't work in Evanston. But it would work in Columbus, and Ann Arbor, and L.A. I think the networks should give it a shot.