The Greatest Team in the World

This will likely be the last post of the year for me. I am going out of town next week for Christmas, and won't really be able to post much. I had this great plan to go way in depth about Florida, but when I started to research them, I realized that I soon rather go to the dentist than break down Michigan's bowl game. Lloyd is done, all his assistants are fired, the era of Michigan football as we know it has come to an end. Not much else to report.

I will however, end this...my maiden season as a Michigan blogger, with a story. A story that has literally nothing to do with Michigan, football, or sports for that matter. I heard this story while listening to ESPN radio while I was out and about yesterday.

Neil Everett, a Sports Center anchor, took 30 seconds of ESPN advertising air time to tell the story of a soldier and a military dog who were recently killed in Iraq. The story instantly caught my attention. A year ago, my wife and I got our first dog together...a Siberian Husky/German Sheppard mix named "Bo"...yeah...after that Bo.

Cpl. Kory D. Wiens, was a 20 year old soldier from Dallas, Oregon. Wiens belonged to the 94th Mine Dog Detachment, 5th Engineer Battalion, 1st Engineer Brigade stationed in Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.

Up until about two months ago, I knew nothing about military dogs. But after reading an amazing book called From Baghdad, With Love, I found that not only are dogs depended for their amazing instincts and sense of smell, but they are often highly trained dogs who work right along young men and women on the front lines of battle. These dogs, usually Sheppards or Retrievers, are relied upon to help sniff out bombs and traps. And in the most heated instances, to help engage the enemy and subdue them.

When dogs go off to war, they are first rigorously trained for months in the US. Then they are partnered with a soldier who becomes their everything...guardian, teammate, comrade, best friend. They are together at all times. They are never apart. Much like a K9 and a police officer...these two never partner with anyone else. They go into battle together, eat together, live together and sleep together.

Cpl. Wiens and his Labrador retriever partner, Cooper, were killed by a IED (improvised explosive device) in Muhammad Sath, Iraq on July 6th. They were the first soldier and companion dog to be killed since the Iraq war began. The Army has 578 dog teams serving rotations in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Cooper and Cpl. Wiens were in Iraq since January.

Both Wiens and Cooper were honored in a special ceremony at their base in Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri on Tuesday this week.

Hearing this story on the radio, and then reading about it online...this really makes everything that we discuss on here...coaching searches, controversies, who's better than who. It all seems so meaningless. It's like...what's the point? But it's important to understand that it's just sports. It's all just a game.

When it comes down to life and death, this is the story of a real team. A man and a dog...both serving their country, serving each other, and gave what Abraham Lincoln called "The last full measure of devotion".

At this time of year, when so many young men and women won't be able to come home to see their friends and families, think about them when you sit down to Christmas dinner, watch a bowl game, or go out to meet with friends. These are the true heroes...the best role models. We owe them a debt of gratitude. It's guys like Cpl. Wiens and his friend Cooper that make it possible for people like me and you to come on here, post our opinions, and enjoy sports the way we do.

Merry Christmas everyone.

A Brief Editorial, If You Will...

I was reading some posts from the folks over at MGoBlog...he had some good links to reactions of the Rich Rodriguez hire from around the Big Ten. And while at first blush it may seem like knee-jerking Ohio State fans playing down the whole thing...there is some actual kind-hearted reaction to the RR hire. But as Brian put it...much of it is stupid.

But its funny, because since this whole thing went down, I haven't really had time to think too much about it...mostly because work has been driving me nuts these past two weeks. But also because whats the point? Lloyd still has one game left. We still have one more chance to watch Henne, Hart, Long and the 07 seniors play one last game. I will say...now that the season is over and there has been a little time for everything to sink in...this senior class was maybe the most underachieving class in recent memory. So much hype each year, and so little to show for it.

But thats another post for another time.

Rodriguez won't coach a game for another 9 months. So much can change in that time. But even as a Michigan fan...I'm not totally thrilled yet. I do think that he has the potential for being a great coach, but the last thing I'm going to do is come on here and claim that Michigan is reborn and Bill Martin is a genius.

I mean, lets face it, my grandma would've been able to sell the Michigan program. Its not exactly the hardest job to fill. Putting together a long a list of worthy candidates probably didn't take that long. And getting less than thrilling responses from those coaches would've been awkward...and telling. Only Martin knows. But I like RR so far though. And judging by the reaction of WVU fans to his leaving...well, first shock...then rage...and acceptance will likely follow soon, but that alone is a good gauge that Michigan got a keeper. If WVU fans didn't react the way they did...then I would've been sketchy.

In other news...more good news for the Big Ten. Via ESPN...
"A Yahoo! Sports investigation revealed that Big Ten referee Stephen Pamon, a crew chief who has worked for the conference since 1988, has a checkered history of bankruptcy, casino gambling, child abuse and allegations of sexual harassment."
Keep reading...it gets better.

You Said You Like Video???

Via M Zone:


The sun doesn't come up very often in West Virginia:

Maybe the saddest video I've ever seen...but with the John Denver music...it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Embedded Video = Happy Bloggers

Sparty's reaction:


What a jackass.

From the Big Ten Network:

Another John L.???

Via MGoBlog:


What I've seen so far, and judging by this clip, I'm impressed with this man. The way I see it, he's the right man for the job. I don't see him melting down like John L. Smith did at MSU. This guy's more proven than that. I draw that comparo from an article I saw this morning from (SURPRISE!) an MSU blog at MLive.com.

Pretty loose argument as I see it. Just wanted to post that video.

Have a nice day.

The Morning After

Its the 2nd day, and the first full day of the "Rich Rod" era. Is it bad that I was having a tough time with the keystrokes that are needed to spell out "Rodriguez"? Is this a sign? Or am I just a bad typer? Probably the latter.

Either way, Rich Rodriguez is the new head ball coach at the University of Michigan. The month long (soul) search is over. Les Miles can keep his fat contract at L$U. Whatever his name is can stay at Rutgers. And the Michigan Wolverines can try to reinvent themselves.

By hiring a coach like Rich Rodriguez, that's exactly what Michigan is doing.

He's made a living with the vaunted spread offense. A spread attack that usually features a dynamic running QB, fast running backs, and a receiver corp that tends to block more than catch the ball. His teams have featured fast, no-huddle attacks...just like some of the teams that have given Michigan fits over the past couple years.

But that doesn't mean that his style of football will translate perfectly into the Michigan mold. We can hire all the dynamic coaches in the country. They can bring their different styles into the Big House and change all they want. But what remains the same is...this is still the Big Ten, and this is still Michigan.

The idea that Rich Rod is going to waltz into town, land his 5-star blue chip QB, and win 4 straight national titles is just crazy.

We may very well turn into a QB scrambling spread offense, but its not going to be next year. And...to prove I'm not just blowing smoke...here's a bold prediction: Ryan Mallet is going to start next year, and two years after that.

Ryan Mallet, even with his struggles this year in the pocket...will turn out to be the greatest parting gift Lloyd Carr will ever give this team. Say what you will about the old coach...he could recruit with the best of them, and Mallet is the best example of that. I see him becoming a more flexible, mobile, and much more confident passer who will be able to control a game better. Chad Henne was a great QB for Michigan. If Ryan Mallet can develop Henne's style of controlling a football game and combine that with his throwing ability...we may have a Tim Tebow look-alike...but with a much better arm.

You can bring in all the amazing QB recruits in the world...when you have a 6'6" sophomore QB with big game experience and a rocket arm...you just don't waste that.

Of course, I'm no coach. Rich Rodriguez is. He has the most amazing opportunity a college coach could ask for, and time will tell. But there's no doubt that no matter what, this maize and blue fan will be cheering his ass off next year.

Go Blue!

In Rod We Trust

The coaching pinwheel has come to a stop. And after a circus-like month of who's in and who said what and he's staying...we have a coach.

Rich Rodriguez from West Virginia.

When the entire wolverine faithful was ready to throw Bill Martin from the train...he pulls a feather out of his cap.

Much more on the detail from here, here, and here.

Needless to say, this has the possibility to be a huge shot in the arm for the Michigan program. First John Belien and now Rich Rodriguez...if I were a head coach of any sport at WVU...I'd keep a sharp eye on my counterpart in Ann Arbor.

And as expected...

...Les Miles refutes everything. Link from the official L$U Athletics website. My take? Nothing surprises me anymore. Maybe Jimmy Hoffa should be the coach next year.

I doubt all alumna get to have a phone call with the AD and President of the university. Two things are for certain...he's still a candidate, and he's a terrible liar.

We Like Video

ESPN takes a shot at this whole mess.






"Sources close to the situation." I don't even know what that means anymore.

Couldn't Resist



There are so many ways I could go with this...

Saw it posted up on the M Zone...thought it would do well gracing the pages of MB Nation. What drives two men to break out in song driving down the street? Is it massive amounts of alcohol? Probably. Drunk driving is sort of in their blood.

Les is More

Okay, I'm officially lost.

There was a lot of talk about this interview Les Miles did on the Dan Patrick show this morning. So instead of posting how big of a jackass Les Miles is, like I did earlier today...I thought, well...maybe I should go listen to said interview before I jam my foot all the way down my throat.

So I did.

And I can say without any hesitation, that I think Les Miles is still very much in the discussion of being Michigan's next head coach. Why? Because Miles went on the air this morning, told the world there is still a clause in his fancy new contract with L$U for Michigan to buy him out...and right about the same time, Greg Schiano was dropped from consideration for the head coaching gig. Coincidence?

Miles sounded very passionate about his feelings for Michigan. So much so, I thought he might spill the beans right there that he was on his way to Ann Arbor on January 8th. But being a college football coach, he knows the value of what is not said...especially with the media.

All I know is, this roller coaster is far from the station. Hold on folks.

In the Old Days, Michigan Had No Coach

This is starting to get out of control. First Les Miles makes Michigan look bad for letting him get away, and then he really makes us bad by using Michigan as leverage to get a better contract out of L$U.

It was reported that on the Dan Patrick show this morning, Les Miles said something along the lines of, "I was loyal to Michigan, but they were not loyal to me".

That hurts...if in-fact he actually said it.

So, coming off the heals of that debacle...Greg Schiano, head coach at Rutgers...was reported to have met with Bill Martin in NYC for a couple hours at a hotel. No offer was made, but it was reported that the offer was on the table by the end of the day yesterday. Schiano met with his team, and apparently told them he was leaving. Only to wake up this morning, call his team in again, and tell them that he was staying.

That hurts, but not as much. It is my humble opinion that there are far better coaches out there besides Greg Schiano.

But let me pose the question to the readers, I know you're out there! Is it just me, or does it seem like Michigan isn't trying very hard? I don't why...but it seems like it would be one helluva kick in the jewels to have a guy choose Rutgers over Michigan.

Maybe he has family ties or special ties to New Jersey...or maybe he's just bi-polar and makes snap decisions a lot. Or, maybe...and this is a big maybe...Michigan ended the talks, and said thanks but no thanks. Which is more likely?

I would love the think that Michigan has their eyes on a much larger fish...or Gator in this instance. Call me crazy, but I have been forecasting this since Lloyd dropped the retirement bomb. The best, brightest, and by far most talented coach in college football is Urban Meyer. I'm not the only one out there who can see this happening. He's born and bread in Big Ten country. He's always liked Michigan, Ohio State and Notre Dame. When he coached in Utah, he had a clause in his contract for a buyout to all 3 of those schools. But it worked out that Florida had an opening when it counted...and Notre Dame muffed it big time. I don't know if that clause is in-place in Gainsville.

I was never totally sold on Les Miles. I question his integrity after this whole mess. I question is loyalty, and I question his honesty. In my mind...those are the 3 biggest qualifications for the head coaching position at the University of Michigan. L$U got their man. Good for them. They will kill Ohio State in the bowl game. Les will get his $$$...and Michigan will get a much better coach.

Go Blue!

Non-Biased Big 10 Bowl Preview

We here at MB Nation strive to provide our readers with as much non-biased content as possible. But, being that we are a self-proclaimed die-hard Michigan blog, that can be tough.

So in an effort to restore order and not sound too much like a homer, we give you our NBBTBPS. Non-biased Big Ten Bowl Preview Special.

The Motor City Bowl - December 26 - Detroit, MI
Purdue vs. Central Michigan

This game should be a walk for Purdue. But it won't. Central Michigan isn't a pushover. The MAC champ has generally favored well against the 7th (or 8th) place Big Ten squad in this bowl game. I see Purdue winning, but not convincingly, 27-24.

The Champs Sports Bowl - December 28 - Orlando, FL
#14 Boston College vs. Michigan State

Oh, Michigan State...what are you doing? You made it to a bowl game? BC by at least 2 touchdowns. If this were a hockey game, that might be worth watching. Otherwise, whats the point?

Valero Alamo Bowl - December 29 - San Antonio, TX
Texas A&M vs. Penn State

Pretty much a home game for A&M here. Michigan played A&M in this bowl game about 12 years ago...not fun. But, this one might be the best Big Ten bowl game of the year. Penn State usually represents well in bowl games. I don't see them disappointing this year. JoPa coaches in his 500th game...and A&M interim coach Gary Darnell coaches in his first. I think Penn State wins 30-14.

Insight Bowl - December 31 - Tempe, AZ
Oklahoma State vs. Indiana

I love the fact that Indiana has made it to a bowl game. I don't love the fact that they have to play Oklahoma State. But, take comfort in the fact that the outcome depends on which OK State teams shows up. They are awesome when they win, and terrible when they lose. The Hoosiers will be riding high in their first bowl in 14 years. Cowboys win 27-13.

The Outback Bowl - January 1 - Tampa, FL
Tennessee vs. Wisconsin

Tennessee started the season a little iffy...but really hit their stride down the stretch. Won the SEC East. They put up a good fight against LSU in the SEC championship game. Wisconsin however, isn't that good. They will be in 2 years...but not this year. The Vols young defense will keep Wisconsin in it. But...too much SEC speed in this one. The Vols, 35-28.


The Capital One Bowl - January 1 - Orlando, FL
Florida vs. Michigan

Oh crap. There are probably 4 teams in the country that Michigan really doesn't match up well against even on a good day...and Florida is 2 of them. A virtual home game for the Gators. Way too fast for UM. Lloyd might as well draw up some wacky trick plays, because if we line up and try to play smash mouth "Big Ten Football", then this one will be over by halftime. Tim Tebow will bring his Heisman trophy with him and apply coats of polish on the sideline between touchdown runs and touchdown throws. The Gators throttle the Maize & Blue 45-21. Much more on this game as it approaches.

The Rose Bowl - January 1 - Pasadena, CA
USC vs. Illinois

A home game for the Trojans. Without a doubt...USC will win this game and win it easily 42-13.

The BCS National Championship Game - January 7 - New Orleans
LSU vs. Ohio State

Well, once again, OSU matches up in the title game with a team they have no reason to be even on the field with. I mean, seriously? Ohio State is the #1 team in the country? LSU, much like Florida last year, should pretty much be able to get the 2nd string in the mid-4th quarter. This game painfully illustrates why the Big Ten sucks, and why the SEC is a bunch of cocky ass-holes. But, when you're good...no one seems to care how cocky you are. No one will pick OSU in this game...neither will I...and that is why they will probably win. But I call 'em like I see 'em. LSU plays in front of a home crowd and wins 38-9.

And there you have it folks...a whopping 2-6 record for the Big Ten. Hey, its great to get 8 teams from your conference to bowl games, no one will dispute that. Great exposure, money for the conference and schools. Those are the pluses. But the flip side is you have to play someone. And unless we all play MAC schools, this will be one ugly bowl season for the Big Ten.

I hope I'm wrong. If we go 8-0, or at least come out above .500, I'll come back on here and eat my words with dignity. But until then, have fun watching why the rest of the country thinks the Big Ten sucks.

Early December in College Football Land

Nothing like early December in the world of college football. Games are over, bowls are set, coaches being hired/fired (except for Michigan of course), heisman talk is in full-on mode, and hype is at a fever pitch.

And to prove this weird time of year is infact weird...the Capital One Bowl has sold out in record time. Over 62,000 seats were sold in less than a day. Temporary seats were brought in, and they too were sold out. I don't know what it is. Maybe because this is basically a home game for the Gators...which is more likely, or is it that people are coming out in droves to bid Lloyd a fond farewell. You decide?

Speaking of coaching hiring and firing...what the hell is really going on in Ann Arbor right now? Is Les Miles coming or going? The answer to that question will probably not revealed until after January 7th.

I will disclaim this next portion of the article. I was rather hard on Miles in my post a few days ago "Miles Away". Much has been reported since then and facts are coming to light. I don't hate Les Miles...he very well may be a Michigan Man. Details are sketchy...and I should not have jumped to conclusions.

Lets look at this from an objective point of view. Everyone (at least everyone at mgoblogdotcom) is ready to chastise Bill Martin for the way he handled the Les Miles situation last weekend. But, come on, how could he have done it any other way?

Last week, Bill Martin was given permission to talk to Les Miles, but only after the SEC Championship game. Then, ESPN reports that Miles is set to go to UM and will announce it after the SEC title game. Les, not knowing anything about this apparently, freaks out, tries to contact Bill Martin...Martin does not return Les' messages, and Miles puts the rumors to rest during a presser 2 hours before the game.

Bill Martin, knowing that he is on shaky ground as it is with speaking to Miles any time, isn't about to start returning phone calls before he is allowed to do so. LSU gave him very explicit instructions. Bill Martin is not an idiot. If he calls Miles before the SEC title game...all bets are off and the deal goes down in flames. If he waits, the deal is still alive.

But what happened Saturday night is what threw off the whole thing...LSU won, Mizzou lost and West Virginia lost.

Now all of the sudden, LSU is playing for a national title. No one...and I mean no one is going to contact Les Miles, and there is no way LSU is granting anyone permission before January 8th.

Les saw it coming. He has been less than solid about his coaching future at LSU since Saturday. When asked, he's been giving the safest answers any coach would give in his situation. He wants the Michigan job. He's wanted it his entire life. And now that he's within spitting distance of it...he needs to be very careful...especially with a team playing for a national championship.

You can talk about Kirk Ferentz until you're blue in the face...but the man for the job is Les Miles. He always has been. We may have to wait for him, but it will be worth it.

So, Anyone Wanna Coach?

Funny how things change in a few days. In keeping with how nuts this season has gone, Michigan's coaching search has been following along in-stride.

Les Miles (LSU):
Gone.

Urban Meyer (Florida):
Not much of a chance. He's a midwest guy, likes Michigan a lot, but would you be willing to leave the warm weather and brutally awesome program for Michigan?

Brady Hoke (Ball State):
Interesting, been getting a lot of attention so far this week. UM has confirmed, or Hoke confirmed (what does confirm mean anymore???), that he has been contacted by Martin.

Mike DeBord (UM Off. Coordinator):
No chance in hell.

Ron English (UM Def. Coordinator):
Suddenly has a slightly better chance than he did before Miles. But after Miles, English has been reported to have a second interview. My take on this is, I like Ron English a lot. He bleeds football. He looks, acts, sounds, and reacts like a football guy. He's tough, he's brash, and you know when he's pissed at you.

Is he a leader of men? You don't become the UM defensive coordinator by accident. You don't turn down an awesome NFL coordinator position with Bears and your best friend Lovie Smith for no reason. Bill Martin and Lloyd Carr fought for English. He's done well here. He's sent great players to the NFL. Last years' defense was awesome (until the last 2 games), but the point is, he's a motivator, he's young, and he's full of piss and vinegar.

So, the MB Nation take? All of the sudden, since Les Miles' true colors have been revealed, and since Michigan drew Florida in the Capital One Bowl...I like Ron English a lot. And its not because he's a "Michigan Man" or because he's already here...I like him because, like I said, he's tough, he's smart, he has experience, he's relatively young, and the players respect him. And I think he could make a damn fine coach at the University of Michigan.

Miles Away

This guy is no Michigan Man.

Les Miles took some very awkward steps on Saturday. First, it was reported on ESPN gameday that he was all packed up for Ann Arbor. Thanks for the heads up there Herbie! You think if Miles was on tap to head for Columbus Kirk would've shot his mouth off so quickly? Me either.

Then, 2 hours before kickoff, Miles calls a presser to punch back at the media for reporting rumors that Miles has been avoiding all along. Don't get mad at the media Les, they're doing their job. Its your fault it got to this point in the first place. If you were so concerned about the perception to your team, you probably should have put the rumors to bed last week when your AD gave Michigan permission to interview you this week.

To me, it seems like this was a snap decision made by Miles on Saturday morning. He and the LSU AD heard what Herbie said on gameday, and that was it. The AD called Miles, told him if he wants to stay, he'll be the most paid coach in the country.

Money talks. And from what I hear, Michigan AD Bill Martin never said a word.

BUT...if money is what motivates Les Miles, then LSU can have him. Great coaches, the ones that have coached at places like Michigan, OSU, Penn State, ND, Texas, USC....are not motivated by money. Sure its a wonderful perk of the job, but its not what you base your decisions on.

So, we might actually owe a debt of gratitude to the blonde male bimbo from gameday.

Either way, this now opens the door for pretty much any and all candidates who might want to apply. I don't want to toot my own horn, but the new year's day bowl game with Michigan just got a helluva lot more interesting, eh Urban?