Meta: A Call For Reason Re: How we Discuss the State of Affairs

Submitted by Space Coyote on October 16th, 2013 at 5:39 PM

Warning: this is long, tl;dr people can skip. It's also me on a soap box. People that don't want that can skip, but I'm up here and I'm going to start talking. I've grown a pretty mean mustache and can talk like Ron Swanson, so for the rest, it's time to be quiet and listen (or at least read until the end).

In many circles, mgoblog is well known for its fairly well documented herd mentality, which is understandable to a degree. But things that have happened on this board and in the comments the past few days have seemed more akin to mlive than they have to this board. I've often played devil's advocate throughout my life, not because I want to be against the grain necessarily, but because I find it helps me at least come closer to the truth of the topic. Others haven't, and they don't deserve the treatment they are getting from a lot of this board.

I haven't seen it directly, but I'm sure people have at least thought of me as a "Borges apologist". That's fine if you want to think that. I know for a fact that most others that have even sniffed at passive support or defense of Borges have been called it. That's the definition of a straw man. That's pointing out that someone has a different opinion than you and that it inherently makes them incorrect. I've seen numerous times people trying to bring relevant, only for the majority herd to group up on the person with the differing opinion. That’s weak. It’s stymies discussion. It stymies understanding. It stymies this blog.

On a different but related note…

“Fat arrogant fuck.” That’s about as tame as it’s been at times the past couple days. It’s not that my ears are sensitive to that language, because I was a kid once and thought I was cool and tough and said things much worse than that. But it’s just that, childish. These are puerile comments that have never been allowed on this blog, not about any coach, player, or coordinator, and suddenly being allowed en masse. Talk about an mlive culture. Talk about not only degrading to the staff that is working hard to make you happy, but degrading the blog that we’re using to vent. I get it, you’re angry, you want to vent. But do so with reason, with actual thought, not like a bunch of drunks. I’m sure there a drunk blogs for that sort of thing (seriously, I’m sure there are, but it’s probably easier to stay away from those). I’m getting tired of sifting through a ton of turd-burgling, shit-spewing, hot garbage comments like these, that contain nothing new, informative, and meaningful, just so I can try to have a meaningful discussion about something in between it.

This post really isn’t about me. I know I’m on the other side of the tidal force here, but I’ve build up enough blog credibility that my pseudonym is likely to stay intact. But to act this way to others that are putting some credibility, and likely some sort of enjoyment they can get out of being a Michigan fan and discussing with other fans and being a part of this community on the line only to get mobbed, well… that sucks.

I’ll probably get called a “Borges apologist” rather quickly in this thread. I, like Borges, will also probably fairly quickly get called some sort of insult as well (“why can’t we say it if it’s the truth?”). That’s fine, as defined by playground/man code, that’s deserved. But if it starts here with some of those comments and ends here with those types of comments, then at least the board will be somewhat more readable and hopefully much more enjoyable for the majority of people then what it’s become the past few days. It’s not going to be happy, because Michigan didn’t win, but it doesn’t have to be this.

\Steps off soap box, goes to buy a burrito.



October 16th, 2013 at 6:03 PM ^

I attribute blog blame to Wendy Testaburger and her teachers - tantamount to real-world equivalents on the football staff. Because the supporters for the latter continue to assert that somehow it is acceptable to run 27 plays into a known brick wall but they then act surprised when only 27 yards net and the result is a loss. Absolve Eric Cartman, because on the O line we need the dudes. Testaburger for turnover-free quarterback, I say, too.
Jackson/Funk/Borges are properly under the microscope.


October 16th, 2013 at 5:45 PM ^

And I say that as someone who has been criticizing Borges's decisions...Space Coyote, I'm always glad to read what you post.  I hope you keep it up. 

One minor note: Did you mean "soup box" or "soap box"?  I've only ever heard "soap box." 


October 16th, 2013 at 5:46 PM ^

If Gibbons kicks that field goal then the fury would certainly be blunted. 

The changes in the board are also reflective of a lack of capacity (or will) on Brian's part to put in place an effective system of moderation.  It's turned into the wild west and the blog reads like the Haloscan era all too often (and like MLive at it's worst during games). 

You're not an apologist if you have an argument; just a person with an opinion. 


October 16th, 2013 at 6:27 PM ^

Not sure how much it would help with the current situation as it's a sizeable portion of people and would maybe result in a petty upvote/downvote battle between the two sides. That said, there has been a palpable decline in civility since the moderation system went away. Where the handful of the more abrasive posters would just get downvoted and hidden, they now devolve into flame wars. Brian himself has noticed this and tried to recover some civility in the great banhammerpalooza of 2013.


October 16th, 2013 at 8:54 PM ^

He only banned abrasive guys who disagree with him, giving free reign and a whole lot of courage to the abrasive ones who parrot him. They become emboldened without anyone calling them out as a check and balance. Now you have reasonable guys like Space Coyote having to take shots from the abrasive element with a lot less to back him up.


October 16th, 2013 at 10:37 PM ^

Anyone old school enough to remember the Haloscan Era can see the trending. The power of the neg was to enable novel ideas to be rewarded or rejected. If you were a jackass you just got negged and that was it .

Now it's ennui and sarcasm from too many posters not adding to the analysis but complaining because they are enabled and with no potential judgment.



October 16th, 2013 at 6:45 PM ^

You're right to a degree, but I think the old moderation system—the one with no limits on up or down votes and where negs affected people's point totals—was pretty effective at discouraging the really lousy posters from staying around very long. It worked much better than the more recent system. The current state of the board is abysmal.


October 16th, 2013 at 10:44 PM ^

I think it's unfair to blame this board for the lousy stream of postings; it's universal to the internet, and it is instead the rare place that muzzles that tendency of the internet that stands out.

This place has a reputation for being like that, and while it is currently regressing, it is still better than the average internet cesspool.

But it has gotten challenging, yes.

M Fanfare

October 16th, 2013 at 8:57 PM ^

You're right that it's only as good as the users, but it really does make a distinct difference. Being able to "mute" the worst offenders and trolls helps keep the conversations in here from delving into the pit that it's been in since the mod system went away.

Is there an update on it coming back? I thought Brian said he was going to work on it during the first bye week, but we didn't hear anything about it after that. I hope he's able to figure something out before the November games since they have a ton of potential to spur reactions like we've seen after last Saturday.


October 16th, 2013 at 6:45 PM ^

I haven't been on here much the last few days because of how people act, so this point may have been reiterated a lot, but it's the first I've seen of it and I completely agree. It was something that I was thinking about earlier today. Had Gibbons made 1 of his 3 missed FGs, life moves on and people continue to act concerned but ok since we would have started out 6-0.

I understand the frustration of a loss in a game that should have been won and the need to find a reason for the loss so we can fix it. However, it's just not that simple. We turned the ball over 3 times and missed 3 potentially-game-winning FGs. What is a coordinator supposed to do with that? Your running game is non-existant and your QB throws picks directly at defenders. Tell me, which is worse: 3 runs and a punt or a pick that is returned to your own redzone? Now, if you want to blame him for not preparing players, fine, but he doesn't have a whole lot of safe options when he's calling plays. He can't run veer or inverted veer on every down.

As for preparation, you prepare for what you want to do to start the season and you alter your gameplan as the season progresses. It's hard to do that when you only have 3 practices during the week and you have a game on Saturday. So, you make major changes in bye weeks. I don't expect to see any major changes this week, but I think we will see a very different team against MSU. Don't expect to run DG a lot either as MSU will try to hurt him just like they tried to hurt Denard. I just hope that people don't melt down after this weekend when Borges "refuses to change anything".


October 16th, 2013 at 7:14 PM ^

I think people are really advocating for short throws to Gallon and Funchess on the outside. When the corners start to creep in then unleash the dragon.

After this goes on for a little bit and defenders start to come out of the box then Manball to your heart's content (I'm speaking to Borges who will definitely not read this but who cares).

It is really frustrating to see runs get stuffed so many times when, at least the way the writers of this blog frame it, there are some relatively minor changes that don't require that much practice time to implement. If there are 8-10 guys in the box and you are planning to run check to a short pass and see what happens.

I will agree with the OP that name calling and trying to stifle discussion are lame but again it is pretty discouraging to see similar things happening on the offense as happened on the defense in the previous regime. Couple this with Ohio State succeeding in a pretty horrid conference that we really should be at the top of but are not has led to tensions boiling over.

Oh yeah and when the coaching staff appears not to hear or ignore perfectly valid criticisms than that also leads to heated discussions.

Anyway, hopefully discourse is more civil but there seem to be very valid reasons to be concerned with the direction of the offense.


October 17th, 2013 at 2:35 PM ^

I think if we play the same game and the only difference is we make an overtime field goal to win it, there would still be much gnashing of teeth and rending of garments from the fanbase, though perhaps not at the same volume or with the same level of vitriole.

At some point in the season the fanbase has to come to grips with reality and after seeing the game that was coached/played on Saturday against PSU, I think a lot of people moved on from being able to rationalize the previous sub-par performances as anomalies or mis-assessments of the quality of the opponent, let down games, etc.

W or L, last Saturday confirmed that there are some very fundamental issues in player development, game-planning, ability to adjust/respond in-game, execution, scheme, strategy, clock management and on-the-field coaching that quite simply, are not being addressed......more importanly, that don't seem like they will be addressed based on the outward responses from the staff. 

I think you just have a case where everyone started the season with hopes somewhere on a spectrum between 8-4 and undefeated, where each week since the beginning of the season that range has been adjusted downward, with the PSU game being a clear indicator that the regression is justified. I also think that post-PSU you now have people adjusting their point on that spectrum way down based on the continued poor results.

It would be one thing if the staff was saying, 'we have issues, we are trying to make chnages to address them,' but they really aren't. Not seeing or adjusting to 8-9 players in the box by adding in a screen/dink pass to a slot receiver is mind bogglingly stupid. Six games in and still.......? If we run 27 run plays into the line against MSU....we will have possibly -27 yards to show for it. 


October 17th, 2013 at 3:55 PM ^

Had Gibbons hit that FG in regulation, we are up 10 with under a minute left. Even if that last drive still happens, it doesn't mean much because it is deemed trash time.

Had the FG in the first OT period not been blocked, people are happy with the win, are still concerned, but no one is calling for anyone's head.

Had he made the FG in in the third OT, some might question Borges but no one is questioning whether they need to tone their fanhood down.


Really, though, to say that Borges hasn't adapted in the game is flatout wrong. Gardner had about as many carries as Fitz in the game. Fitz had 5 carries in OT and 7 on that second to last drive which cut 5:45 off the clock and took away all of PSU's Timeouts. The reason we don't score on that drive is due to the Delay of Game, which isn't on Borges at all. Anyway, That means Fitz had 15 carries on the 13 drives up to that point. Devin Gardner actually had more rushes (19) in those 13 drives than Fitz. If you want to see why Fitz even had that many rushes, checkout Space Coyote's breakdown of OT. Criticize his gameplanning maybe, but in-game adjustments and reacting to what the defense gives him is Borges' strong suit; he just can't do that without some information from the defense first.

I agree there may be issues with player development. I'm still not sure if what we are seeing is due to freshmen and walk-ons on the line or an issue with coaching. Same thing with execution. Let me ask you this, though.

The bottom line is that people want a scapegoat to hold responsible for the loss. Had no more than 5 things (3 passes on final drive or 3 missed field goals) that were completely out of Borges' control gone wrong on PSU's final drive and in OT, we win that game and no one looks for a scapegoat.


October 16th, 2013 at 5:47 PM ^

I 100% agree with this. Borges deserves a lot of heat for decisions made on saturday, but people melting down after one loss is just absurd, especially when half the people provide no reasons except borges fucking sucks, fire his ass, michigan sucks, program is doomed. 


October 16th, 2013 at 8:39 PM ^

Exactly. It's ignorant to think the Borges issue is just about the PSU loss. This is the most recent example. Anyone who has read Brian this week or listened to the podcast understands.

Our OLine is plenty talented and really not that young - I'm sure a majority of D1 programs would gladly trade OL talent with Michigan. It's all about coaching and it's atrocious.


October 16th, 2013 at 10:32 PM ^

A lot of people continue to ignore this point in their attempt to frame the issue as people overrecating after just 1 game. It's a symptomatic issue that has been getting worse. And I really wish people would stop saying if we had won, there would be no complaints. I'm pretty sure the ire was raised rather high after Akron and UConn.

The argument against Borges was/is that he would cost us games with his playcalling. He's had several games now where he nearly did so against far overmatched teams. And now it's no longer becoming an issue of "nearly" doing so.

Blue in Yarmouth

October 17th, 2013 at 8:10 AM ^

but I think you have it 100% backward. The people that are calling for Borges to be fired 1) have a multitude of reasons as to why and 2) are not basing it on this one loss. They are factoring it on video evidence as well as the fact that he has had terrible game plans far more often than he has had good ones.

I would suggest that it is those who think he should stay that don't seem to have any good reasons other than "it's one game, give the guy a break" when we all know that this hasn't been about the 1 PSU loss, it has been building since the start of last year. 

I consider myself to be a fairly reasonable person and during debates such as this I tend to listen to all available information before deciding where I fall. I even stayed off the internet until Tuesday so I wouldn't let my emotions take precedence over logic.

After taking that time and examining all available evidence (again, not from this one game, but from the past two seasons) I just fall on the side of those who want AB gone. Not because he is a bad person, not because he failed ONCE, but because I don't see him being able to field a team that can consistently come up with gameplans that will beat teams of equal or better talent.

AB wants to win, but he wants to do it "his way" and would rather lose "his way" than win by any other means. There aren't any prizes, trophies or championships handed out for losing with your pride in tact. His unwillingness to adapt has cost us plenty of games we could have won and almost lost us games that would have made us the laughing stock of college football. 

What solidified my opinion that Borges needed to go was his arogant and condecending tone in his press conference. He seemed angry that anyone would ever dare question what he was doing and deflected (much like those who are in support of him now) everything toward the players and their lack of execution.

I know the players need to perform, but he is the OC. He calls the plays and is in charge of developing the talent (indirectly in some cases, but directly for the QB's).With the myriad reasons why people believe he should be fired (all the ones you are choosing to ignore apparently) why don't you suggest some reason why he should stay other than the whole lack of talent and execution arguments of which one is completely on his shoulders and the other is a complete smoke screen. We have the talent and the staff has just proven not to be able to develop it. 

Anyway, I'm sick of this circular argument so that will be the last I say on the topic, but the one thing I will end with is this: The OP (who I do repsect as a poster who has knowledge of the game) is the latest in a long line of posters who suggests when people on the board disagree with them that there is a "mob mentality" or "group think" going on on this board. That, to me, seems more childish than anything else that has gone on here this week.

When people disagree with you sometimes it has nothing to do with "group think" or "mob mentality" sometimes people just disagree and when you are in the minority it will feel like people are piling on because more people disagree with you than agree. That's a fact of life, nothing to do with a mob mentality. I get it. I was on the side of keeping RR one more year, I know what it's like, but there isn't any use complaining about people not supporintg your argument. Make it the best you can and if people still aren't convinced, move on.

Space Coyote

October 17th, 2013 at 9:46 AM ^

I don't care if people disagree with me. I don't care if the vast majority are on one side of a topic or not. That's fine. But not listening to the other side is stupid. I'm not complaining that people aren't agreeing with me, all I'm asking is to actually be able to discuss it, which I think most people are in agreement with.

I didn't say "group think" because people may honestly think that. I used "herd mentality" because when someone disagrees there is a tendancy to team up on people an essentially call them stupid just for having a different opinion.

So yeah, I think you completely missed the point of the post if you think what I'm asking for is childish.


October 17th, 2013 at 9:50 AM ^

When people disagree with you sometimes it has nothing to do with "group think" or "mob mentality" sometimes people just disagree and when you are in the minority it will feel like people are piling on because more people disagree with you than agree.

You're probably right on some level.  At the same time, though, there is also a mob mentality that shines pretty brightly at times.  That tends to be when there is unbridled criticism, and then someone comes on whose criticism isn't as strong as people think it should be - and then that person is branded a "defender" of the subject of criticism.  "Guys, I think Borges is doing a bad job too, but here is a thing that isn't his fault" gets turned around so that when you say a thing like that, you're a "defender."

The other thing that's annoying (and very related) is how many people took Coyote's post to be a defense of Borges and started jumping up and going "no way man, Borges is terrible!"  The OP had nothing to do with Borges.  It was about the board atmosphere.  But mention the word "Borges" without any scathing criticism, and somehow people felt the need to refute the lack of criticism.  The point was very badly missed by a lot of people who are too laser-focused on Al Borges.


October 17th, 2013 at 10:02 AM ^

I read Coyote's stuff religiously here and on Twitter and I can safely say that he should be considered one of the most respectable people on this Board.  He provides tons of information and does so in a pretty darn unbiased way.  That people flipped out on him was not only unfair but also a testiment to their stupidity.  This Board has definitely gone downhill and I am like JoeyB x2 these days, avoiding most threads like the plague.

I caution everyone thinking that user moderation is going to be the end-all cure to the current issues.  The mob mentality is just as strong and instead of simply resulting in people harassing posters with unpopular opinions it will couple that with huge neg bombs and point loss.  While that may be very effective in hammering trolls, it also has the potential of quieting new users with few points.  In all scenarios, certain people just need to stop being assholes.  Treat posters like they are real people you run into on the street.


October 16th, 2013 at 5:48 PM ^

My only question to you re: Borges is his 17 yrs as a OC/QB coach he has only had One career 60% thrower and that was a Senior Jason Campbell...watching Devin and even Denard for two years it is fairly obvious they have gotten worse. 

At this point while we all know the OL is well below average and such but why continue the path he is going down, how many times must Devin be forced to make a 3rd and 13...Now I have no doubt Hoke wants to Manball it up but man it just feels like AL could be a little better.

I've never been an AL guy and him leaving Auburn with the 97th Offense in 2007 is scary, at what point then can people really start to question him at this point in his career?


October 16th, 2013 at 5:57 PM ^

Borges is not the point here.  Borges is this post's MacGuffin; the post is about not setting up straw men, being halfway constructive in criticism, and trying to keep it civil and not MLive-y.

Also, your question about "when is it OK to question him" is exactly the sort of straw man Coyote is trying to remove.  The choice is not between "flame away" and "sacred cow."


October 17th, 2013 at 12:52 AM ^

His last year at SDSU, with Hoke, they were fourth in the country in yards per completion, behind only the three option teams (Navy, Air Force, Ga Tech) that never throw. Cam Newton and Auburn were the only team that was even close.

He loves intermediate to deep routes; I suspect he'd like to be getting the ball downfield more now but he's got QB-accuracy and pass-protection problems that make that hard.


October 16th, 2013 at 5:49 PM ^

I don't know if Borges is the guy for us in the long run or not, but that has very little to do with the subject matter of this post.

For what it's worth, I mostly just read here, but I think you're an exceptional member of the blog and I lean on you for understanding of the game just as much as I lean on the guys employed here. I also fully agree with you on the points you make here.

Personal attacks on the coaches and their weight is completely pointless and immature and that sort of attitude completely detracts from my experience on this site. I have no problems with criticism of coaching style and things to do with the game, but it shouldn't be all that hard for people to maturely make their point.


October 16th, 2013 at 5:51 PM ^

I probably share some in the problem - trying to stem the vitriol became simply overwhelming after Sunday evening or so, even though in relative terms it hasn't be quite as bad as it was initially.Relative terms. I probably said "Hell with it" before I should have and I apologize to people for that. It's still bad and I sent someoneone to Bolivia for their sniping not three hours ago.

If you do have suggestions, please post them in the Mod Sticky or find me on Twitter. As for the Indiana game, I will try to take some of the learnings from this experience and roll them into that postgame if needed. 


October 16th, 2013 at 5:54 PM ^

Here are the #'s for AL's QB's.....

Tony Graziani for 1 season 1995 
231/426 (54.2%) 2604 yards 13 TDs 10 INTs 
Cade McNown for 3 seasons 1996-98 
537/942 (57%) 8431 yards 57 TDs 31 INTs 
Cory Paus for 2 seasons 1999-00 
221/423 (52.2%) 3343 yards 23 TDs and 18 INTs 
Kyle Boller for 1 season 2001 
133/271 (49.1%) 1741 yards 12 TDs 10 INTs 
Gibran Hamdan for 1 season 2002 
152/293 (51.9%) 2115 yards 9 TDs and 14 INTs 
Matt Lovecchio for 1 season 2003 
155/291 (53.3%) 1778 yards 3 TDs 9 INTs 
Jason Campbell for 1 season 2004 
188/270 (69.6%) 2700 yards 20 TDs 7 INTs 
Brandon Cox for 3 seasons 2005-07 
528/893 (59.1%) 6602 yards 38 TDs 30 INTs 
Ryan Lindley for 2 seasons 2009-10 
482/858 (56.2%) 6884 yards 51 TDs and 30 INTs 
Denard Robinson for 2 seasons 2011-12 
231/425 (54.4%) 3492 yards 29 TDs 24 INTs 



October 16th, 2013 at 10:19 PM ^

That is what I come here for, and now that you have published the data I ask if anyone sees any great NFL or college passing QB's in that group......So, looking at the names on this list, does anyone else think Al has not had a ton of QB passing talent to work with?  The only name QB on the list as a passer is McNown to me.....


October 16th, 2013 at 5:55 PM ^

I have felt the same way all week. It almost seems like some are almost gleeful to point out they were right all along about Borges. I used to be a Borges apologist, the last game probably pushed me over to the other side. Still, I think the lack of objectivity the last week is disappointing. I worry about how we look to recruits (who we know do occasionally surf through). I worry about the fans at the stadium this Saturday. Will we be one of those fanbases that boos our own team because things aren't going our way? I really hope not.

Let's not forget a sizable part of the RR debacle was rancor among the fanbase. Losing certainly doesn't help, but the Michigan community turned on that man the second he came to town. I don't want to be a ND that spends 20 years in mediocrity because we don't have the patience to let coaches fix their issues and install their system, instead running them off every 3-4 years because we have delusional expectations.

So... let's analyze what happened last week, let's talk about it, but at the end of the day, let's cowboy the fuck up and support our team as they work through a rough patch.

NOLA Wolverine

October 16th, 2013 at 6:01 PM ^

We have definitely booed Michigan teams at The Big House. Halftime against Wisconsin in 2008 comes to mind. And people also booed Brady Hoke at the end of the first halfs in 2011 for not attempting to use the last possesion of the half to generate points. And I mean come on, the student section chanted "Rich Rodriguez!" for a solid two minutes for beating Western Michigan in his second year opener. All he had to do was win. We don't need to excuse away failure, it was what it was. 


October 16th, 2013 at 6:33 PM ^

I fully recognize that MIchigan fans have and will probably again boo their own team. I've done so (Navarre) on a couple occasions in my younger years. It doesn't make it any less stupid, classless, or counter productive. As if the coaches and players would care more or try harder if you only reminded them that their performance displeases you.

We have a big time 2015 recruit in this weekend, from Denmark no less, probably others. How do you think Michigan looks when we're booing Saturday?