Whatever Comment Count

Brian January 2nd, 2018 at 10:06 AM

1/1/2018 – Michigan 19, South Carolina 26 – 8-5, end of season


[Marc-Gregor Campredon]

I don't know how people get mad about this shit still. I just turn off, because for the last decade Michigan football has been either a disappointment or in a brief interim period that sets you up to be disappointed. But yes many many people still get fucking furious about Michigan football for some reason.

I'm tired of talking about it. I'm tired of this cycle that always seems to be at the bottom. I'm tired of this toxic-ass fanbase screaming at stuff. I could muster some takes, I guess, but I've already said them and anyway they seem beside the point. December was nice since it lacked football. 2018, so far, is bad because it had football.

In a situation like that I'd rather not talk about football. Especially because I have nothing left to say. Maybe it'll be better next year. Maybe it won't. Either way it's a meaningless distraction on the way to the grave. Eat at Arby's.



January 2nd, 2018 at 12:12 PM ^

How much can a coach control how 'ready' a team is, mentally and emotionally? My old perspective is that it's 90% the coach. Now...? 

It seems like a volatile brew of players, program culture, culture of the university, coaching, and youthful impetuousity. The side of the ball seems to help too. It seems to be easier for defenses to rise to the occasion, but their job is to create chaos. 

This team did not seem sharp or ready to play yesterday. That's bad. But how much is on Harbaugh and the staff?  

Meyer is unquestionably a good coach, and very detail oriented, but his teams took a complete dump at Clemson and Iowa this year, and arguably OK this year. 

Bo was a great coach who blew it in many bowl games. Carr in one (unfortunately) memorable game a Tennessee. Even guys like Saban have teams that seem to emotionally lay eggs on certain games. 

How much can a coach control? 

Blue Durham

January 2nd, 2018 at 10:56 AM ^

1. Somehow this OP seems similar to the comments by some of the players regarding the fans. Fans are great and invaluable to every single sports team in the history of sports. Without their support there is no team or no sport. They are great when your team is winning. But yeah, when your losing... yeesh. But that is part of the cost of doing business and everyone knows it. Guess it is the same thing when running a sports blog.

2. While I would much prefer Michigan to winning like Alabama (something we haven't had to worry about for a couple of decades), Michigan's situation is much more interesting to contemplate.

What exactly is wrong?

Is it youth? Many other teams are just as young or younger, have equal or less success in recruiting, but don't seem to have the problems Michigan is having.

Is it a void at 1 or 2 positions, particularly QB? The problem there is Michigan looked just OK at best with Speight, and worse or much worse with O'Korn and Peters. Michigan looked pretty good with Rudock, but still lost to OSU and didn't really look like a Big Ten championship team.

Is it the position coaches? Are they not up to the task, despite the success they have had in the past that warranted Harbaugh hiring them?

Is it recruiting? Is Michigan failing to recruit well enough? Many other teams, particularly MSU and now Central Florida, seem to do very well with much less. Or is that just cherry-picking a few examples?

Is the pro offensive scheme too complicated for 18-22 year olds who have limited maturity, limited experience and limited time to study the various complexities as opposed to their professional counterparts? Does this also manifest itself on the field as hesitancy and a lack of aggression as the players have to think too much about assignments and not act instinctively?

Or is it something else, or a combination of some of the above?

The defense isn't perfect, but has been as good as I can remember any Michigan defense since the 1970s. With just a very good defense the past 3 years, Michigan probably has at least 1 more loss per year, and maybe even 2 per year.


January 2nd, 2018 at 11:06 AM ^

Defenses have been the best in the last 25 years, save for 1997 and 2006.  Two position groups have been subpar: QB and O-Line.  As you note, other teams have been able to overcome some of the youth / talent issues, but Michigan has struggled.  Fault seems to fall on the coaches. 


January 2nd, 2018 at 12:07 PM ^

I'm no X's & O's expert, but my understanding is that our offensive scheme relies heavily on excellent QBs who KNOW our complicated system (and can check into/out of plays on their own at the LOS), and also relies heavily on an excellent OLine that is pretty solid across the board (one or two missed blocks will blow up the play automatically). 

So I don't know that it's necessarily superior talent or coaching technique at other schools, but a more "plug & play" offensive scheme that is more tolerant of:

  1. Weak OL play;
  2. New/Raw QB play;
  3. Occasional missed assignments.

That is, a more robust/sturdy offensive scheme where plays can survive a few mistakes & still gain some yardage.  And/or a system that can do shotgun snaps, quick passes & edge plays that mitigate the importance of OLine play.

Basically, other squads have installed offensive schemes that allow true freshmen & 2nd year players to be immediatey/significant contributors ON THE REGULAR, whereas ours requires more time to learn (our freshmen don't get a ton of playing time unless they are absolute superstars or we are desperate due to depth).

If you do the math, what that basically means is out of--say 42 scholarship players available to play (assume half scholarships on roster are offensive players)--maybe only 30 of them are actually available to use.  It isn't a "redshirt" in the physical or skill sense necessarily, but it's a de facto redshirt on a PERFORMANCE level because these guys just don't understand the playbook/blocking assignments, etc. 

And true, other schools still need to incubate their freshmen/sophomore OL players for physical reasons.  But even then, the other schools have strong contibutors as freshman & sophomores at the skill positions.  That's at least an extra 7-8 guys to try out for the starting spots on offense.  Odds are at least one or two of those guys break through because knowledge of an intricuate playbook is no longer an issue.

Even if our players were totally equal in terms of raw talent, physical development & technique, that's handicapping yourself by about 20-25% in terms of guys who are fully up to speed & competing for snaps with the 1's at a HIGH level. 

Unless your complex offensive scheme is TRULY 20-25% better than the simpler schemes in terms of statistics & results, it seems to me you're better off fully "weaponizing" (as opposed to sitting them or having them play at 60% efficiency because they're confused/thinking too much) those additional 7-9 guys on the offensive side of the ball as freshmen & 2nd year players a full year earlier.

But again, just my 2 cents.  I have zero schematic knowledge when it comes to football.


January 2nd, 2018 at 10:57 AM ^

When I heard on the radio that half our offensive line was either out or hurt and still trying to play I thought Oh No. Arguably our weak spot getting even weaker. Other weak spots are all our receivers, backs and especially quarterbacks.

We never beat a good team all year. Even though SC was just a mediocre team, that seems to be better than us.


January 2nd, 2018 at 10:59 AM ^

Fans get upset because they are passionate. They are, by definition fanatics which means they are irrational at times. M packs in 110,000 people, gets big deals with Nike and attracts a host of other money because they have an enormous, interested fanbase. That fanbase cares a great deal. If they didn't then none of that would happen and that includes, I might add, this blog.

I get the frustration with the season and the #hottakes, but that's part and parcel with a large, passionate fanbase. What I don't get is a FANblog that is actually financially successful because of these very facts bagging on the golden goose. 

FYI -- the M fanbase isn't changing. They aren't going apathetic. And if they ever do decide to just eat Arby's then you'll know b/c traffic for this blog will dwindle to a trickle.

uncle leo

January 2nd, 2018 at 10:58 AM ^

The point of this post at all.

Yeah, some of us like myself aren't passionate as they used to be because the losing and not doing much has worn on us. It happened with the Lions.

But you can't call people out for being passionate. People love their alma/team no matter what, and that's completely in their right. They love the sport and want the best from them. There's nothing to "understand." It is what it is.

This is weak.


January 2nd, 2018 at 11:00 AM ^

My s cons team is Washington, and this season reminded me of Washington’s 2015 season where they went 7-6. While there was a lot of disappointment and consternation, Petersen was, and is, the absolute best coach Washington can have. The next year they made the playoffs because they finally had what Petersen calls OKGs, our kind of guys.

Michigan is in the same boat now. Harbaugh is the best coach we could ever hire. He’ll either win or he won’t. There’s no use in having panic attacks over it. The AD did what he needed to do and now the best coach available needs to get the job done. Harbaugh is facing the same choice Beilein did early on: fix the assistants or not win. It sounds like Harbaugh sees the problem, like B did.

Sec tion 39 Row 45

January 2nd, 2018 at 11:21 AM ^

I think you are right on the money. I'm old enough to remember people complaining about Bo not being able to win the big games (back then only OSU and bowl games), they complained when they lost to ND because of Rocket Ismail. At that time there was no one better suited for Michigan. I guess history really does repeat itself. I think he needs to make some staff changes or reordering of duties. No forced Moeller and Carr to that at one point, making them switch sides of the ball. I'm not suggesting Drevno

be the DC, but shake ups can and often do help. Puts a little more urgency in the day to day operations.

Hail to the Vi…

January 2nd, 2018 at 11:57 AM ^

Totally agreed. To my - admittedly untrained - eye it appears there are too many cooks in the kitchen when it comes to offensive play calling, or as you put it a necessary reordering of duties. I only know football topically, but I do have a little more insight when it comes to how organizations are structured. I can see how delgating play calling responsibilty to three different people could create confusion and disorganization amongst the people trying to execute the game plan - players and coaches alike. So my guess is Harbaugh will need to consolidate those responsibilities to one person who perhaps consults him before sending the play-in. Obviously the collateral damage is demoting someone currently holding play calling duties which would probably mean they walk. Hard conversation to have with a professional/personal friend, but it appears to me it's what's needed to correct the offense and Jim gets paid the big bucks to have these conversations. My guess is one of Pep or Drevno needs to go, and although I think Frey is a great coach, I don't know that it makes sense to have Drevno and Frey on the same staff coaching two different techniques of run blocking. If on the otherhand, Harbaugh doubles down on the staff, and it doesn't work.. he will start feeling some heat.

Hotel Putingrad

January 2nd, 2018 at 11:02 AM ^

I would completely understand this take coming from the common fan, but as proprietor of a blog dedicated to digesting and interpreting events and trends surrounding the football program, how does nihilism accomplish anything? Considering the past decade plus you've invested in analyzing all things Michigan, I sincerely think you've earned the right to contribute your thoughts on what you saw yesterday. We're big boys, we can take it. But if you're saying that you're all out of opinions on the constant disappointment that is the state of the program, what does that mean for the blog going forward?


January 2nd, 2018 at 11:03 AM ^

I feel like the financial viability of a sports blog is dependent on a rabidly illogical fanbase.  Normal, well-adjusted people will not check in many times per day for news on their favorite team.  As a sports blog proprietor, desparing at this seems counterproductive.


January 2nd, 2018 at 11:03 AM ^

Just a couple thoughts:

Brian's issues are his own.  This is his platform so he can say and do what he wants.

For all of the people out there with opinions like:

  • Why can't we be upset?
  • Why can't a staff paid this much do better?
  • Why can't we complain about X/Y/Z?

There's a simple answer to all of this (plus most of the other things you're complaining about): STOP PAYING FOR THE THING!  If you don't like the direction of Michigan Football, stop supporting it.  Stop buying tickets, stop watching on TV, stop clicking on stories, stop following twitter feeds.  One of two things will happen: it will have an impact and you won't care becasue you're not involved or it won't have an impact and you won't care because you're not involved.

If you want to stay involved, recognize that many people who are also involved will not choose to engage with you if all you do is fling insults and indulge your desire for a temper tantrum.  Try to have some civility and a reasonable conversation and people may respond.  Or not.  It's the internet.  Nobody really cares about you.  


January 2nd, 2018 at 11:04 AM ^

Passionate fandom is the reason this blog exists. We're allowed to be critical. It's not being disloyal or irrational to suggest that this year was a failure and that changes should be made. Meyer and Franklin made necessary changes with great success. Kirby Smart and Scott Frost have built powerhouses in 2 years. Don't blame the fans for NOT being apathetic. Apathy is Illinois footbal.


January 2nd, 2018 at 11:12 AM ^

I almost forgot how much of a dumbass I was for caring. I was on the edge of my seat waiting for your weekly condescending diatribe and you delivered. Honestly though, I should have seen this coming after the player's tweets thread was deleted. Too many incorrect opinions being supported and all that.


January 2nd, 2018 at 11:14 AM ^

It's all about expectations, really. 10-3 Harbaugh's first year with a blowout of SEC East champ Florida in the bowl game? Feeling great! 10-3 last year after starting 9-0 and getting to #2 in the CFP poll? Feeling disappointed and like we blew a good chance to be conference champs and get into the playoff. 17 new starters this year, yet for some reason expectations mostly seemed to range from 9-3 to 11-1 (I personally thought we'd be 9-3). We failed and to top it off, we don't look like we have a clue how to run a good college offense. Feeling helpless.

So, for next year, I'm lowering the expectations. If I expect losses at ND, at Northwestern, at MSU, at OSU and at home versus Nebraska (hey, Scott Frost is for real), Wisconsin and Penn State, then anything better than 5-7 is a bonus! Yeah!

Kevin Holtsberry

January 2nd, 2018 at 11:15 AM ^

In some ways I get this post but in others it is pretty disappointing. I have been reading Brian for something like a decade. I get that the comments can be toxic and can't imagine his Twitter mentions.  But I hope he can find time to offer something more than this.

Does it suck to be a passionate fan of Michigan football right now? Obviously. But as others have pointed out upthread, Brian has made a career off writing about Michigan from a dialed in fan's perspective.  But he can't find an angle to write about other than Eat at Arby’s?

Was the problem with Peters not seeing the field?  WRs not getting separation? Scheme?

What exactly happened with the OL?  Did the surprise scratches have a big impact or was the problem elsewhere?  Did the RBs miss opportunities of was there no holes created?

What happened in the second half where the defense couldn't seem to get pressure and SC made some huge plays?

This is why we come to the site.  There is all kinds of anger and emotionalism, but the idea is that Brian understands that emotion but can offer something more.  If he can't then the value goes down substantially for me.

A blogger can just say screw it, and not write if they don't feel like it.  But someone who makes a living at covering sports needs to find a way to offer an opinion and perspective, IMO.


January 2nd, 2018 at 12:03 PM ^

Thank you for putting it better than I could myself.

This blog is great because there is nowhere else in my life I can digest as much Michigan content from people as invested as me. 

This blog has literally consoled me after serious letdowns over the years. It has provided me with context to be both optimistic, and realistic.

But reading this post was disappointing in that Brian made me feel bad for caring. Fan is short for fanatic. And its perfectly fine to care.

I trust that Brian bears the brunt of the vocal minority of the worst kinds of fans. That emotional toll is worse than me working 4 offices away from a Sparty fan.

After some losses I mope around for 2 days. Yesterday I moped for 15 minutes. After this season, I believe Brian is still moping and I will wait until he is ready.

Brian is not the Batman we want, he is the Batman we need.


January 2nd, 2018 at 11:16 AM ^

department have deep issues. The elite investment in coaches, staff, facilities and programming has not delivered elite results even occasionally despite multiple leaders in place and ample time to get fixes in place.

Somewhere in the culture, UM is not attracting the right people or developing the right systems to deliver winning results. It goes beyond football, but football is the flagship program in the AD. The attitude and talent need a boost in competitiveness because UM lacks moxie or edge or obsession with winning.

Recruiting is blasé this year, the team has arguably regressed, the schemes are not worthy of the coaching staff and I can fully understand Brian's indifference. Apathy is looming.

Ultimately the solution rests with the 150 or so people in the football program and the leadership of a Harbaugh and Warde. Are they capable of elite results to match elite opportunity/support?

Hail to the Vi…

January 2nd, 2018 at 11:25 AM ^

This is the greatest danger to the Harbaugh regime after the 2017 season. If things get stale, players become complacent, he has a real shot at failure here - which I think is what is so surprising and disheartening because apathy is something that we thought we would never see from a Harbaugh coached team. Ups and downs, sure - but a plain indifference from the players and coaches seems to be looming if Jim doesn't wake these guys up from their sleep walk. The true test of leadership is how you motivate people to respond to adversity. We're going to see just what Jim Harbaugh can do here, because quite frankly that was a pathetic display of offensive effort and strategy we oberved yesterday.


January 2nd, 2018 at 11:32 AM ^

It’s probably a good thing in the long run but I agree, most younger fans haven’t seen much success and the older fans are pining for anything resembling Bo/Moeller/LLLLoyd.

Granted, Harbs got 10 wins first two years so maybe more “beat rivals”.


January 2nd, 2018 at 11:19 AM ^

If UofM loses its fanbase, there will be severe repercussions.  We saw a little of that when some of the fanbase quit on RR before he really had a chance and more during his tenure.  We saw most of them return when Hoke came in, but a lot of the fans (I was one)  questioned the hire because it appeared being a 'Michigan Man' was much more important than actual performance.  We saw Dave Brandon lose more students and fans.  With Harbaugh, we were all hoping he was the 'right' hire at the 'right' time and that he could pull everyone back together.  That has not materialized because the on the field performance hasn't matched the rhetoric.

I'm 'old school', so maybe my take doesn't matter, but I could do without all of the theatrics and what I'll call 'glitz' (e.g. romping on the beach, visits to Rome & the Pope, Florida vacations, the  overuse of social media like twitter, sleepovers, "Signing of the Stars', false 'meritocracy' in that it doesn't seem to apply to the coaching staff and their lack of results).  To me, those are distractions that take you away from the real basics of football - blocking, tackling, toughness, not making mistakes, etc.

So, I have kind of 'exited' as a fan.  I don't try to get back to Ann Arbor for home games or to get tickets to 'away' games that are close to where I live.  In fact, I've been turning down opportunities to attend games because I just don't have the interest I once had.

I know I don't really matter, in the scheme of things, and won't be noticed as an individual,  but if a substantial number of fans develop similar attitudes and feelings, it will be noticed and they'll be hard to bring back.  They'll have moved on and relegated 'football' to a much lower priority.



January 2nd, 2018 at 11:18 AM ^

What bothers me (and I don't think I'm alone) is the apparant illogic of the whole input vs outputs thing.   Reasonable people expect better than mediocre (and CERTAINLY better than we saw Monday) results when you have the budget, the facilities, and supposedly one of the better head coaches in college football.  You can talk end of Hoke era recruiting all you want but that doesn't excuse most of the badness of Monday.

You see (every Saturday) other coaching staffs recognizing when something is wrong on the field and running a 4.0 40 to get to the official to call a timeout.  Harbaugh's staff just watched it happen.  

I don't think it's unrealistic to have "better than mediocre and certainly better than the crap we saw Monday" expectations given the resources at hand.  I disagree that there is anything "wrong" with the fans that have higher expectations.

Do I expect they'll compete for a playoff spot every year?  No (but I can't explain why).  Do I expect that they'll compete for (every year) and occasionally win the division and a title?  Yes - and I think that's realistic.  Give me one reason why they shouldn't??

Next year's schedule couldn't happen at a worse (or better?) time.  They won't compete for a playoff spot and they won't win the division.

My expectation for next year?  NO games that look even remotely like Monday.  Be competitive in every game.   Beat a rival.  Improve from week to week.  Have an offense that can score enough points to take some of the pressure off the defense.  

Tell me that's unrealistic.  





January 2nd, 2018 at 11:18 AM ^

1. Disbelief

2. Denial

3. Bargaining

4. Guilt

5. Anger

6. Depression

7. Acceptance

I'll say that I still have hope for 2018.  Teams CAN change on a dime.  See ND last year vs this year (up trend).  See FSU last year vs this year (down trend).

I have hopes for McCaffrey at QB, personally.

But if 2018 is a repeat of 2017, I will resolve to Michigan no longer being a destination program.

KC Wolve

January 2nd, 2018 at 11:20 AM ^

So, like....fuck it all???  I mean, I am pretty apathetic with the losing and the constant commercials and breaks during games, but does this mean you aren't going to write stuff anymore?  The message board is pretty much a disaster and I don't really follow recruiting all that much and honestly the content there hasn't been happening much lately anyway. I really enjoy your takes on games and the UM situation as a whole. I'm not really sure what that point of putting up a post saying you don't care anymore. You are the main reason most people come here, so if you aren't going to do this anymore, what is the point? Again, I think I feel the same way, but no one really cares what I think. People do care about your opinion.


January 2nd, 2018 at 11:21 AM ^

If you're truly tired of talking about this, and you really mean it, maybe you should consider shutting down this blog. This clearly used to be a passion for you, and it's increasingly clear that it no longer is. You're a talented, smart guy who could easily find work doing something you love that fulfills you. Why waste your life putting out words about something that no longer makes you happy? Reading this feels like it's a chore for you.


January 2nd, 2018 at 11:21 AM ^

I can't agree with the nihilism take because it's only when we lose that Michigan football doesn't matter.  If we win a national championship I doubt Brian would say that it's a meaningless distraction.


January 2nd, 2018 at 11:22 AM ^

I understand where you're at.

As for me, I am letting the (relative) shit that was this season decay and fertilize what will be next year and beyond. Sure, there's a possibilty that all of the bright-side references people are making (UM 79, 95-96, 2005; Georgia 2016, etc.) don't turn out to be the case for us in 2018. But I trust that you will remain on the UM side forever, that you desire excellence, and therefore that forward is the only direction to go.


January 2nd, 2018 at 11:27 AM ^

Great writing style which resonates with the people who linger here. But for some reason this appears to be a reaction to taking criticisms of the program and personalizing it

Many are invested at varying degrees but to leave the gift of writing to “Eff this and you” seems, well, rather childish.

To wit, perhaps the hot takes people share here and elsewhere appear to be childish, too.

But, I must say, regardless of the differing points of view across the makeup of this board, most probably enjoy your takes on the game.

Distancing yourself by noting “football has been bad for 10 years” (while still writing about it for those 10 years) makes this blog ungood.


January 2nd, 2018 at 11:28 AM ^

Disappointing season for sure! I hope Harbaugh takes a long look at his offensive staff and makes some much needed changes.

I just don't get how you can take an entire month to prep for a very mediocre SC team and come out with this stale, predictable game plan. What happened to the great game plan they came out with against OSU?? 

I hate to say it but it looks like Harbaughs teams play with no passion or guts and do not have that killer instinct that you would think the team would get from him...I hope some kind of light comes on or something clicks soon!  Here's to a bounce back,  BIG Champion, undefeated 2018 season!! Go Blue!!! 


January 2nd, 2018 at 11:57 AM ^

sums up exactly my surprise and disappointment with Harbaugh's UM teams thus far.

"I hate to say it but it looks like Harbaughs teams play with no passion or guts and do not have that killer instinct that you would think the team would get from him..."

I was expecting more fire and passion from his teams, not necessarily based on his 49ers days (becasue I don't watch the NFL), but from his Stanford years. So many mental errors by his UM players! I keep expecting him to "take the gloves off." But...


January 2nd, 2018 at 11:33 AM ^

I think 2018 could be very good with just about everyone meaningful returning. What will cause me to  adopt Michigan football nihilism is if Harbaugh doesn't overhaul the offensive side of the ball this offseason. Meritocracy is a greatconcept , but the players aren't going to buy into it if it's obvious it doesn't apply to the leaders of the program and that's a good way to lose your lockerroom

Rufus X

January 2nd, 2018 at 11:34 AM ^

We all have jobs (well, most of us anyway). Sometimes your job sucks, but you still show up the next day.  When your chosen career is running a blog about Michigan sports with a heavy focus on football, you don't mail it in like this, on the day after the bowl game, when the community of MGoBloggers that you worked so hard to build is coming here for some of your signature content.  If you had any business sense at all, you would show up to engage them rather than take your ball and go home.

I hope you reconsider. If not, I doubt this blog will be around much longer, and this will be the "jump the shark" moment.  Maybe it's time...