Another nice win as Michigan pulls away in the second half to take down Ron English and the EMU Eagles.  Tip of the hat to English whose squad put together a gutty first half and played hard throughout.   It’s easy to forget about the giant holes in our defensive line when guys are sprinting for touchdowns right and left (or north and south I guess), but it remains a concern. 

Miscellanea:

QB Depth:  As Tate Forcier lay flat on the ground with his face in the turf, visions of sugar plums and roses (which remain on the far right of the possible season outcome continuum) got a bit blurred.  Denard’s two poor passes over the middle show he’s not ready to be the quarterback of this team and that’s not a shock.  Big things could happen with Forcier at the helm but if he goes down and Robinson is inserted, we become a better team than 2008 but not much more.

Speed:  There are many reasons to be giddy about this season, but we’re seeing that promise of speed with three demonstrations that are on par with any burst we’ve seen in years, maybe since Steve Breaston in the 2005 Rose Bowl.  Consider (I’m going to collect these like when fans put up K’s at baseball games):

  • Robinson’s fumble-turned-touchdown run against Western.
  • Stoneum’s kick-off return against Notre Dame, when he was 100% gone well before he reach midfield.
  • And now add Carlos Brown’s 90 yard jaunt yesterday.

Punt option:  This prompted a rare in-game post, but I’d love to see Rodriguez consider dropping in the punt roll-out option with Mesko once again especially on those fourth and short situations.  I hated that thing at first but with Zoltan back there handling it I’m completely comfortable after watching how it was employed last season.   And speaking of special teams, if you wondering how the Wolverines didn’t get a piece of this punt, this will only help a little bit (from the M photostore):

block

The Delany Film Festival:  Boy, I completely agree with Rodriguez on his disappointment with the Big Ten’s decision to step in suspend Mouton.  And it’s a personal slight against Rodriguez, suggesting he’s not imposing proper discipline on his players.  That punch was nothing.  At best, this deserved a discussion after the game with Mouton and maybe some M stadium steps—but that should be left to Michigan to decide.  That said…

…someone needs to tell Rodriguez to suspend the Delany Film Festival.  He was embarrassed by the commissioner and that was wrong, but to start a public campaign to challenge the Big Ten by poring over game films to find players behaving badly?  I didn’t hear the quote first hand, I assume Rodriguez wasn’t joking about this.  The right thing to do would be to have a conversation with Delany to understand why the Big Ten did what they did, share his disappointment and then quietly move on.  He did speak with Delany but that’s not exactly how it went.  If Rich Rod is behind this, one of his trusted inner circle guys needs to tap the Emperor on the shoulder and tell him to direct that energy elsewhere.  Where is that going?  Michigan finds tape of player X kicking player Y, suggests the Big Ten suspends player X, Conference takes no action, Michigan cries hypocrisy, rinse, repeat?  Drop it.

Square Dancing?  Colde English?  Nice to see former Michigan coach Ron English and Rodriguez share a nice embrace at midfield and exchange pleasantries after their hard-fought battle (via AnnArbor.com and the great Lon Horwedel):

shake 
Yikes.  OK, so read what you want but select one of the below:

      a) English is still pissed about not getting a good look from Rodriguez for the defensive coordinator position last year, especially after RR went with an outsider.

      b) There really is a Coach Carr camp that doesn’t like Rodriguez

      c) English was pissed that Denard Robinson tossed a bomb later in the fourth quarter up four touchdowns

     d) English was pissed that guys like Graham and Warren were still in the game with 5 minutes to go

     e) All of the above.

Elsewhere:

  • Michigan State/Notre Dame:  I’m still trying to gauge what kind of teams Notre Dame and MSU have right now, but what a game in South Bend.  Cousins’ interception was awful and awfully inexplicable considering the game he managed all day (other than when Dantonio put Nichol in, which I don’t understand).  I was impressed with State and I love Blair White.  I see the October 3 game as a toss up right now, maybe slight edge to the Spartans.  All in all, not a bad outcome for Michigan fans: one rival loses, and the other loses their best player.
  • Bad Booth:  One thing I can’t get over is the not-TD catch by Floyd where he broke his collarbone.  I’m not sure what the bigger crime is to the replay officials:  not asking for a replay in the first place (umm, on a frickin’ play in the endzone, is that one we should look at….?) or, after Weis challenged, not seeing that Floyd easily made the catch and had one, probably two feet in bounds.  AT BEST – the replay guys punted saying the didn’t have conclusive evidence that he had enough control, but that’s really a thin argument given what NBC showed.  Why do I care?  That’s incompetence man.  Delany should suspend those guys for the season.  Or punch them.  Or make them run steps with Mouton.
  • Carroll.  Dude, fool me four times, but come on with the love affair of Pete Carroll and his uber-laid back teams, and towel-snapping Friday walkthroughs, and the rock ‘n roll lifestyle blah, blah blah.   He’s now lost to below average UCLA, Stanford, Oregon State and Washington teams in the past few years yet all we do is paint Carroll like a god, often wearing a thong.  Bill Plaschke in the LA Times took a few shots and added this observation, lol:

    The path got longer afterward, when several USC players were seen loudly examining stat sheets in the locker room, never a good sign after a team loss.

22. January 2009 · Comments Off on The Grind, Beilein audio and Wildcat mix-tape · Categories: Archive 2009, Coach Beilein, Hoops, Jokes, Michigan State · Tags: , ,

After the Penn State loss, I’m guessing most M fans would say a NCAA tourney bid is not going to happen in 2009. That’s of course a 180 from just over a week ago, but we were warned by a few folks this season might go this way. Shots aren’t falling and the team is struggling, Coach Beilein talked with Sam Webb and Andy Evans this morning on WTKA about where the team is at, what he’s doing to get things back on track, and how he & Pittsnogle faced a similar slump one year at West Virginia:

.
The situation is even worse than Brian at mgoblog suggested just earlier this week:

Moving forward, the last two games have blown whatever margin of error Michigan had in their effort to make the tournament. Even if you assume wins home and away against Northwestern and away against Iowa—potentially dodgy but absolutely necessary to make the tourney—you have to find three wins in these games to get Michigan to .500 in conference:

Home: Penn State, Michigan State, Minnesota, Purdue
Away: Ohio State, Purdue, Minnesota

Yikes. One of those assumed games is Saturday’s tilt against Kevin Coble and the bomb-dropping Northwestern Wildcats who showed Michigan State a little something called style last night at Breslin. A few highlights from the action, you’ve got to see these guys:



And more….I can’t get enough of these guys:

23. December 2008 · Comments Off on New adidas Coaches Gear? · Categories: Archive 2008, eBay Watch, Fans, Jokes, Ohio State

Fight fire with fire, the cure for Sweatervestitis:

Michigan Sweatervest!

Yikes. Receiving this from your grams would tie a nice bow on a miserable year. Speaking of the holidays, are you 100% guaranteed to receive a Michigan related gift every year?

For the holidays, how much Michigan stuff do you typically get?

View Results

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Related: More stuff from eBay:
* Someone’s selling Rich Rodriguez’s spread offense playbooks on eBay man! Bollocks. [Hat Tip: Spawn of MZone]

* You can own the website domain, images and content on UMICHFOOTBALL.com for $499, here’s the auction (with free shipping!).


Click Here

11. November 2008 · Comments Off on Paging Doctor Rodriguez · Categories: Archive 2008, Coach Rod, Jokes, Media · Tags: , , , , ,

Letters continue to steam into the Ann Arbor News. I scanned the paper today and the News dropped the Rodriguez missives in their own little section. This gem from writer Leslie landed inside ‘FOCUS: U-M FOOTBALL’ on the Opinion page:


Ann Arbor News 11.10.07

As if Rodriguez doesn’t have enough people coming after him for what’s he’s actually paid to do. Leslie couldn’t resist herself and dropped the old coaching-salaries-are-out-of-control anvil.

Yes, the sales of Twizzlers at Saturday’s game could fund a ballet troupe for three decades–we got ya Leslie. Indeed there are more important things in the world than football. But guess what–There’s a reason why 110,000 people pack into Michigan stadium each week and millions more watch on TV. We need an escape, sister, so lay off the U. and Rodriguez & fly right.

Glad to hear that HBO’s documentary on the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry is now available on DVD. You can get a copy here from Amazon.com or head over to your local Borders.

I really enjoyed it; here’s my review from last November (with a few tweaks):

———————————————-

With the hype building for Saturday it was a great night to watch the premiere of HBO’s first documentary dedicated to sports: The Rivalry. Initial review by those that at pre-screening event was that it was slanted toward the Buckeyes and didn’t mention Lloyd Carr. I went in with an open mind:

– The content definitely slanted toward the Buckeye side of the house. I’d say the last half of the piece was 80% focused on Ohio State fans and Woody Hayes.
– Overall it was well done. While they didn’t have any mention/picture/video of Lloyd Carr, they didn’t exactly spend a lot of time on Tressel. But the Carr omission was a little weird. I mean, they showed footage of John Cooper and a lot of Earle Bruce, but and didn’t mention Carr?

– The quotes from Bo were great. They talked about the gold pants that each OSU coaches and players gets if they beat Michigan (and later show up on eBay). One thing that never occurred to me is that Bo himself owns some of those pants due to his time coaching under Hayes in Columbus. As he looked behind him to make sure know one was listening Schembechler whispered, “I have several of those pants myself, I don’t mention that around here.”
– Along with snubbing Carr, they snubbed the 1964 Michigan Rose Bowl team, Bump Elliott, Jim Conley and Chuck ‘Barry’ Dehlin’s great team.
– The footage from the 1950 ‘snow bowl’ game in Columbus was outstanding. Definitely check it out. The teams punted 45 times.
– It turns out ‘Muck Fichigan’ has been with us quite a while. They showed some sort of parade following the 1968 game in Columbus that featured a wooden sign spray painted with those famous words. It showed up later in the 70s and right up to last year on hats, shirts and signs that were seen throughout the documentary.
– Speaking of F-words, that Bo Biafra from the Dead Schembechlers was awful. He added an ‘F Michigan’ except he actually said it. Way to go buddy – on film forever dropping f-bombs about Michigan. [Ed: And Yes, Desmond dropped F-bombs too. This was played out on my original post. I said this and still feel this way: “yes Desmond dropped 2 f’s describing his famous punt return. While I would have preferred a different choice of words desmond gets a pass. Why? He’s a player, he was describing a particular incident (in the game, mind you!) and a member of the media (last point can be debated).”]
– They showed a strip of film showing the real ‘Those Who Stay Will be Champions” sign, which I’ve never actually seen. It’s unspectacular but still pretty cool. Just a plain old sign. Here’s what they showed:

Those Who Stay Will Be Champions Bo Schembechler

– Just a general question: Is there anyone famous from Ohio State? They had interviews some comedian, that loser from the Dead Schembechlers, a writer from the Dispatch…then all coaches and players.
– I laughed a few times. They did point out that Michigan fans think of Buckeyes as author John Bacon explained, “slightly redneckish” and didn’t do much to defend that characterization of the Ohio fans. As Bacon uttered that legendary description the HBO producers panned to a BuckNut walking by with a mullet and a Daniel Boone fur cap. Great stuff.
– The piece closed with a nice (but brief) tribute to Bo and Woody, and included some superb pictures inside Michigan stadium.

Overall, I’d have to say well done but the criticism you’ve heard already is valid. They could have killed two birds by including a segment on Lloyd Carr and the past 10 years or so. I look forward to the next installment from HBO – The Notre Dame vs. Michigan rivalry.


08. November 2008 · Comments Off on Slick Nick Sheridan · Categories: Archive 2008, Jokes, Little Brown Jug

To the victor goes the spoils, look who was seen with #8 in Minneapolis after the game:

Nick Sheridan Gisele

So let’s get down to it:
* Sheridan played great, not just good. I, like you, expected a train wreck today so give him a lot of credit.
* His final passing stats don’t do justice (18-30, 203 yards and 33 rushing). He played smart, he protected the ball, and actually threw a handful of very nice balls downfield, at least two of which were flat out dropped by the receivers.
* Give Sheridan half the credit, the rest to Scott Shafer and the defense for protecting the Little Brown Jug, which will now be held in the familiar confines of Schembechler Hall until November 2011. How ’bout dem apples!:

Scott Shafer's Defense

From ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg, mailbag, some of the Buckeyes are FREAKIN’ OUT, MAN:

Ben from San Diego writes: Adam… Do you think that it could ever be possible for Jim Tressel to be on the hot seat if he keeps winning in the Big 10 and beating Michigan, but losing the big non-conference games? If so, how many more embarrassing losses will it take? Do you think there could ever be pressure from Jim Delaney [sic] to make changes on the OSU coaching staff, given that OSU is embarrassing not only themselves, but the Big 10 as a whole? As a Buckeye fan, I’d rather see us lose to Michigan than be blown out like this on the big stage again. It really hurts! I don’t care about Michigan anymore!!

Save us…..Jim Delany???????

War As They Knew It: Michael Rosenberg

Detroit Free Press sports columnist Michael Rosenberg’s first book, War as They Knew It: Woody Hayes, Bo Schembechler, and America in a time of unrest, will be released September 10. There have been a few reviews of the book out there already, and from what I’ve read it’s getting high marks.

Rosenberg sent me an advance copy and I burned through the 330+ pages in a few days. It’s a wonderful read, well written and meticulously researched. A quick scan of the acknowledgments and book notes reveal the breadth of interviews, videos, books, and news sources that Rosenberg poured through to weave the tale of this period.

The Ohio State-Michigan rivalry certainly plays a key role in this book but it’s more of a backdrop. Rosenberg unveils how each man and their teams both dealt with and were affected by the social and political turmoil of this time. Mixed in are some new stories and a fresh, deeper look at some of the old legends.

For me, the most interesting elements of the book:
* Rosenberg’s accounts of the various protests in Ann Arbor and Columbus during the period.
* The insight into the mind of Woody Hayes – the guy is completely off the charts.
* And apologies to my English teachers/professors but I was also re-introduced to and fascinated by the work of 19th century American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson. Hayes studied Emerson with religious fervor and his work formed the principles that truly defined the old Buckeye legend.

Rosenberg was kind enough to sit with me to talk about the book. The interview went longer than I planned so I’m splitting it up into two parts. Part I will focus on the book itself, in Part II we’ll get into Rosenberg’s now well web-traveled harsh opinions on Rodriguez and talk about the current team in the aftermath of Saturday’s opener.

One thing that stuck out for me was how well researched and detailed the book was. Was this a larger effort than you envisioned when you started?

Rosenberg: Either the schedule was too ambitious for the book, or the book was too ambitious for the schedule. I started working on it in spring of ’05, I talked to Bo and sold a 60 page proposal in December of ’05, the idea it’d be done in November of ’06, and published last fall. In August I met with my editor and they let me know Bo is shopping a book [John U. Bacon’s Bo’s Lasting Lessons]. The marketing people figured it should be published in the college football season but not in the same season [as Lasting Lessons]. So it was delayed an extra year and I used all of that time, which I’m not proud of.

[Side note: Coincidentally Bacon was sitting in the same coffee shop where I did the interview with Rosenberg. Good thing the place didn’t burn down or we’d have lost lost two of the leading experts on Schembechler; I tried to keep them on separate sides of the lounge.]

How did Bo react when you approached him about the book?

Rosenberg: His first reaction was ‘Another book!?’. Literally those were the words he said. But then I started about some of my ideas on the book and on the era. I didn’t know exactly what I was going to do, but I remember sitting at his desk, he said, “I think the true story that’s really never been written, and the most interesting part of the time when we faced each other was what was going on on campus.”

Here’s a guy that’s had around 50 books written by him or about him, and he’s saying there’s a book that hasn’t been written. It was really encouraging to me.

Michigan fans don’t want to hear this, but Bo could have coached 25 years in Columbus, had Woody actually left when Bo went to Miami. Woody wouldn’t have lasted 10 minutes in Ann Arbor.

As I went through the book, I felt like that Columbus was sort of a mainstream sanitized version of Ann Arbor, and Bo was kind of a mainstream sanitized version of Woody in certain ways.

When Woody was fired/retired, you mention in the book that there was some speculation that Schembechler might replace Hayes in Columbus, how realistic was that possibility?

Rosenberg: I spoke to Gene D’Angelo, who produced Woody’s TV show in Columbus. As a side note, his daughter is Beverly D’Angelo from the Vacation movies. He told me that Woody wanted Bo to replace him and that he had a whole plan to do it. I didn’t put that in the book, I just felt it was too uncertain, I didn’t have other sources say that. I think that was Woody’s dream, Bo was his guy and it would be proof that Ohio State is a superior place to Michigan. But once Bo took the Michigan job, there was no way he was going to Ohio State.

You’re obviously not the first writer from the Free Press to write a book, but how did they feel about you taking on this project?

Rosenberg: They were great, Mitch [Albom] kind of paved the way I guess because he’s got so many things going on. . I’ve got the best boss – Gene Myers. They want happy writers and as long as your working hard they’ll make accommodations. My Free Press work was probably not what it would have been if I hadn’t done the book, but I still worked real hard for the paper. It was a hard double to pull off.

Did Mitch give you any advice during or at the beginning of the project?

Rosenberg: I actually didn’t tell him I was working on it – not for any reason in particular, but I just didn’t talk about. He came up to me at the Ohio State game in ’06, I remember him coming up to me saying, ‘I didn’t even know you were writing a book.’ I didn’t really ask for any advice, the only thing I asked him for was that blurb [on the book jacket cover Albom wrote, “A wonderfully crafted collision course of a book.”].

Is Mitch around a lot, or does he kind of just fly in for games? Are you allowed to speak to him?

Rosenberg: [laughing] Yes, I’m allowed to speak to him. He’s obviously in his own orbit as far as career success. Forget about sports writers, very few writers period have had that kind of success. But we have a good relationship and we get along well.

You had a special message from Free Press writer Mick McCabe in your acknowledgments [Rosenberg thanked everyone on the Free Staff “except for Mick McCabe”], what was the deal with that?

Rosenberg: [laughing] Anybody who knows Mick will understand that completely. I actually haven’t heard from him yet- it was all in good fun. On some level he would appreciate this. If I had an actual problem with someone it wouldn’t show up in the acknowledgments.

You interviewed John Prusiecki, the former player that wrote that famous note under the ‘Those Who Stay will be Champions’ sign […and those who leave will be doctors, lawyers, etc., etc.,’] as he quit the team, how did you find him?

Rosenberg: It was mentioned somewhere, maybe it was Mitch’s book [Bo]. I’m not sure. But I was able to track him down, he was in Chicago. I think that anecdote says a lot about my book as opposed to the other books that have been written. Because that story’s been told and that’s a fun story. But the rest of it when he goes into Bo’s office and Bo says ‘You can’t quit’, and Prusiecki says ‘This isn’t the army, I can quit if I want to quit’. Bo says, ‘Fine. What’s your name?”. He didn’t even know the guy’s name and he’s telling him he can’t quit.

That to me showed so much more depth and said so much more about the era – how he’s saying this isn’t the army and how Bo was running things at the time. To me, this is a metaphor for the book, there’s stuff out there like that story, but I’m providing a different level of depth and insight – that’s what I was shooting for. I wasn’t just going for funny stories.

Another often told story is Woody, when asked why he went for two at the end of the 1968 game, allegedly said, “Because I couldn’t go for three.” You couldn’t find any reference to Woody actually making that quote. And your interviews revealed that Woody didn’t actually intend to go for two, it was actually a miscommunication.

Rosenberg: I couldn’t find any reference to that quote in the next day’s papers, or in the next year’s stuff leading up to the game. If you’re asking me, I think that’s an urban legend. That doesn’t mean he never said it. But it’s possible given Woody’s personality that he would have said that, just in his defiance of the press. It would be a little odd to me, but I could find no evidence.

The story that is repeated a lot is that Woody said that and that it motivated the guys [in 1969]. I’ve had Michigan guys on that team tell me that. My response is, if it was such a big deal how come no one wrote about it? It could have been a rumor that he said that. It could have been mentioned to a booster club. Some of the best stories I heard I couldn’t put in the book because I just couldn’t prove it. I tried to double and triple check all the stories, and I always erred on the side of not putting in the book.

Hayes and president Nixon were good buddies and Woody was a big supporter of the war in Vietnam. You just returned from Beijing- how do you think Hayes would feel about having the Olympics in a Communist country?

Rosenberg: [laughs] I think there’s so much about the world today that Woody wouldn’t be able to handle. He’s just a guy from his era, and it was slipping away from him. I can’t imagine how he’d react to a lot of things, like Jim Tressel making $3.5 million a year!

As far as the Olympics, I think he’d be very outspoken that Communism is wrong, and would talk about it. And hope the Americans kicked ass. Whatever he felt, he wouldn’t shut up about it I can tell you that.

One person that I was introduced to in your book was Woody’s wife, Anne Hayes, and you provide some anecdotes about her throughout the book. She really seemed like a saint, how is Anne remembered in Columbus?

Rosenberg: She was beloved. People in Columbus speak warmly and fondly of her. I find that the Ohio State guys tend to stay around Columbus, a lot of them work at Worthington Steel. Ohio State football is so much more the fabric of Columbus than U-M football is in Ann Arbor, not to minimize it here, that’s just how it is. Students today probably have no idea who she was.

Every year that passes, like anyone else, fewer and fewer people know of her. Part of the reason this book appeals to me is I think Woody has become a caricature for people now. He has become a two dimensional figure. He was much more complex than many of these guys coaching today, the Nick Sabans and the Urban Meyers of the world. Many see him as a guy who won a lot of games but he’s much more complex than that, hopefully this book can change that perception.

Woody was working on a book that he never finished; he was a good way through it. Does anyone have a copy of his work?

Rosenberg: If someone does, I don’t know who. His student manager Mark George has a lot of Woody’s stuff, he doesn’t have it. I’d like to see it. After 30 years, who knows?

You talk about [former Michigan athletic director] Don Canham in the book. Do you think Michigan fans, or for that matter, fans of college sports in general appreciate the impact that Don Canham had?

Rosenberg: No way. They’re spending $230-$250, whatever, million to build these luxury boxes. Canham had a deal that would have had them built and paid off in a year, in 1976 and ’77. He was literally 10-20 years ahead of his time for his entire career.

Another thing he did, when he retired [in 1988], he sat down with [current assistant AD] Bruce Madej and basically laid out the next 15 years of college athletics, what was going to happen. Everything he said came true. He could literally see the future for his business.

You thanked librarians at Ohio State, so you’re saying there’s actually a library in Columbus?

Rosenberg: [laughs] Yes, yes indeed, and they were a tremendous help. I did all the research here at the graduate library for the most part, and I had a guy in Columbus and another researcher in Washington who handled the Nixon library.

The Michigan Daily is probably the only source for a lot of the games throughout Michigan’s history. Is there any effort by the daily to digitalize the archives and make them available online?

Rosenberg: That’s a good question. I’m not the best person to answer that, and I’ve asked that question in the past. It wasn’t a major concern for the era I covered. I would love to see that happen.

You’re starting your book promotion September 10th at Borders, correct? Are you excited?

Rosenberg: Yes, September 10th. I’m excited by that’s not the only feeling . I’m excited but I’m also a little concerned. I hope people like the book; I’ve gotten a lot of good feedback so far. I hope people buy it, I hope they read it, I hope people show up at the signing. It’s my first book we’ll see how it goes. Self-promotion is not my natural strong suit, but I know I’ve got to do it. But you work for years on a book you owe it to yourself to promote it.

I don’t mean it to sound wrong, but I also feel like this book is different, more in depth than some of the others books out there. I’m not exactly sure how to say that without sounding like an egomaniac – so I need you to say that [laughing].


[Coming up in Part II: Electric Boogaloo, [Update 9/3: it’s posted] we’ll talk about Rosenberg’s recent column that blasted Rodriguez, Darth Vader masks and much more. You can order ‘War as they Knew It’, here, or you can visit Borders or other area bookstores on Wednesday, September 10th].