[Ed: With Iowa upsetting undefeated Penn State this weekend, in the next edition of eBay Watch, let’s look at another situation where the Hawkeyes faced an undefeated squad late in the schedule, this time just a couple years ago against the Wolverines.]

A couple weeks ago on eBay, a seller offered up what was described to be folder belonging to a Michigan coach. The photos were blurry, but the description claimed it belonged to someone on the Wolverine staff and held diagrams, notes, plays, and whatnot related to the game against the Iowa Hawkeyes held October 21, 2006 in Ann Arbor. Michigan won the game 20-6 thanks to a solid defensive effort and strong game from Henne and Hart. The win moved the #2 ranked Wolverines to 8-0 on the season one step closer to a collision with the #1 ranked Buckeyes. It’s amazing that all this was happening a couple years ago.

I won the auction for about 20 bucks to get a closer look. Now, I wouldn’t post this stuff I felt it would jeopardize some Michigan football ancient Yostese secrets. And while there were notes about specific players, I’m not posting anything that is/was damaging to player on either team. The coaching staff from 2006 is completely gone save for Fred Jackson and I guessing this book would be completely worthless to anyone without a time machine.

If you wisely read Brian Cook’s Hail to the Victors 2008 before the season, you got a little insight into the Carr coaching staff with the wonderful article titled ‘Rock Star’ by author Craig Ross. Ross wiggled his way into a quarterbacks’ meeting led by former QB coach Scot Loeffler, here’s a snippet:

Loeffler: “What are the boys doing to us? Chad Hen-ne. (It eventually becomes clear that “the boys” means “the defense.”)
Henne: “They are skying us and we are in chili with a dino.”
Loeffler: “Rock Star!!!!”

Ross later described his head as all this was happening:

My head was spinning. I was trying to write notes as quickly as I could and still pay some attention, trying to learn something from what was going on. I was lost. It was hopeless.

It felt a bit, perhaps exactly, like Ross after thumbing through this folder for the first time. The volume of information for this single game is stunning. You hear coaches get annoyed when the media/pundits suggest a certain play or strategy was ill-conceived. I always felt if we got behind the curtain we’d certainly see things quite differently after realizing that the team’s preparation is several layers deeper than anyone on the outside could ever understand. The sad thing is, a folder is a mere glimpse–this was the prep for a single team.

I collected a few snapshots of the more interesting items in the binder, most of it is just jibberish to me.

Here’s portion of laminated sheet (perhaps toted on the sideline that game?) with a bunch of sets:

The folder also holds notes after the film was broken down. It appears as though Carr and company actually performed a play-by-play Upon Further Review-like assessment of each play and score for each player. The scoring system was basic:

  • a minus (-) for a bad play
  • a zero for an average play
  • a plus(+) for a great play

The results are tallied up to provide some sort of score at the end. The folder contained two worksheets. One rated the performance of the tight ends on each Michigan offensive play. Next to each play was a players’ intitials (CB – Carson Bulter and BT – Brian Thompson), a few notes, and the rating using the +/0/- system (click to see the full sheet):

The evaluation of the punt team was in the binder, including notes on each punt by Zoltan Mesko (click for full size):

Coach was a little tough on our man Zoltan on the first couple punts IMO but remember that given that the team was undefeated, I bet the expectations of the coaching staff were pretty darn high.

Also included probably fifty pages of various formations and diagrammed plays, and a few sheets with the practice schedule for the week. Not a surprise, the cadence of the practice was documented in detail for each unit, down to the minute. Here’s one of the full practice sheets. A few snapshots:

First, each day the team practiced the 2 minute drill. Not a surprise, but I like that the situations were detailed from the field position, the time left, the number of time-outs, and down and distance:

Each practice had a special announcement, here’s the most common:

Click Here


  1. Fascinating note. I appreciate the shout out re: my writing in HTTV.

    Once you sit through a couple of coaches meetings it makes you (or me, at least) appreciate how little you (me) really know.

    This past spring UM Press asked me to write a short book about spread offenses—a sort of basic, quasi-technical guide to what RR is trying to do. I spent time at coaching clinics—watching RR’s coaching tapes and looking through a 2005 W Va playbook.

    I thought it was a dopey project but in the end I liked what i had—only to have UMP tank it (my opinion) with editing that made me too embarrassed to allow it to go to print. [They would say I tanked it by being an inflexible asshole. So it goes.]

    As it turns out, Brian Cook is the best editor I ever had. Kudos. Now, if I could just convince him to take on my spread offense book. Free for MGoBlog.

    Craig Ross

  2. Chris from Seattle

    This is very typical of how all college and pro programs are run. While the terminology might be different depending on the staff, the process for reviewing film and grading players is very similar. I played D3 ball and even though we were slow and small we still practiced, prepared and were evaluated in with the same process as D1 teams. I have friends who played D1 and this is exactly the same thing they went through with slight variations depending on the school.

  3. Greg at MVictors

    yo, this is a test of intense debate

  4. This is a test of this feature