Big Ten Coaches Hot Seat - Part 1

Instead of doing some wacky mid off-season prediction for how our Big Ten squads will fair this upcoming season, because with 3 months until kickoff, what's the point? Instead we'll take a look at what sort of position each Big Ten coach is in as they approach the fall. Are they safe? Are they about to be axed? You make the call.

Ron Zook - Illinois
4th Season

2005: 2-9
2006: 2-10
2007: 9-4
Total: 13-23

Ron Zook came from Florida where he had some success (23-14 overall) in three seasons. But ultimately, after falling short of very lofty expectations, Florida said goodbye to the Zook-man. I think his landing at Illinois will be sort of a blessing...eventually. Illinois was simply awful for a long time before Zook came in. His ability to recruit I think made him a great catch for the Illini. Even Urban Meyer gave Zook credit for the players he had recruited prior to Florida's 2006 BCS National Championship.

Although it should be noted that this particular blog doesn't think Mr. Zook's recruiting practices are, shall we say, legal? But that's mere speculation. I have nothing to back that up.

I predict that Zook will be safe at Illinois for the foreseeable future. This last season saw the first winning record in Champaign since 2001, and a Rose Bowl appearance. Although, a small taste of success can backfire, as fans, and especially regents/trustees will start to expect it more often.

Bill Lynch - Indiana
2nd Season

2007: 7-6

First of all, let me say that I like Bill Lynch. I think he's maybe one of the hidden gems of the Big Ten coaching fraternity. Of course when you take Indiana to a 7-6 record and a bowl game in your first year, it will be hard to remain hidden.

Granted he did go 3-5 in-conference, and their bowl game was the Insight Bowl...but still.

Coming from DePauw in 2005, he joined then Indiana head coach Terry Hoeppner as assistant head coach/offensive coordinator/tight ends coach. After Hoeppner's unfortunate passing in June 2007, he stepped into a tough situation. It will be interesting to see if Indiana can continue the success from 07, and try to prove that it wasn't just a one year fluke. However, they play a cake non-conf. schedule next year, and do not play UM or OSU. So the scheduling Gods are on his side.

My prediction is that he will struggle as most Indiana coaches have. Indiana just isn't a good football school. They play the hell out of the basketball...but thats about it. I give him the standard 2 more seasons, even though he just signed a contract until 2012. With such a cake schedule, it will be hard to impress boosters with big wins when you don't really play big teams.

Kirk Ferentz - Iowa
10th Season

1999: 1-10
2000: 3-9
2001: 7-5
2002: 11-2
2003: 10-3
2004: 10-2
2005: 7-5
2006: 6-7
2007: 6-6
Total: 73-70

Kirk Ferentz is in the middle of his current contract with Iowa. He signed it after the 2004 season and it will keep him there (theoretically) until 2012. Don't get me wrong, for a while there, he was maybe the best coach in the Big Ten. But lately, his inability to beat Ohio State, Michigan and little brother Iowa State...has kept him from serious NFL coaching consideration that he enjoyed from 02-04. In the past couple years, he has benefited from not even playing Michigan or OSU, and has still struggled.

It could be argued that he is most definitely on the hot seat...maybe more so than any other Big Ten coach. If for no other reason that he makes $2.7 million per, the most in the Big Ten. You don't just throw that kind of money at a guy and not expect greatness in return.

If he fails to reach a bowl this year, and continues to flail against such opponents as Iowa State and other mid-Big Ten conf. foes...expect to see Ferentz chased out of town.

Rich Rodriguez - Michigan
1st Season

We all know the Rodriguez story, so I'll spare you the specifics. The Michigan coaching carousel doesn't slow down and stop too often. But when it does, it's big news. And the hire of Rodriquez was no different. Not only was it unexpected (thank you Les Miles), but when it actually became official, probably every team in the Big Ten took notice.

Rodriguez will be the head ball coach at Michigan for at least 5 years, regardless of his contract. Probably what will mark his early career the most is how well he can recruit. So far, things look good. He may get a pass from the administration because he is implementing his style of play with players who never signed on to play this way...ahem, Justin Boren, ahem.

No telling yet how far he'll go at Michigan. He could turn out to be a Jim tressel, or a Nick Saban...we shall see.


Mark Dantonio - Michigan State
2nd Season

2007: 7-6

Ahh, little brother! The good thing about being the head coach at Michigan State, is that you never really have big shoes to fill. Let's face it, if there is a "second class" of Big Ten schools, Michigan State is the head of that class.

Now they may play some big games, and they surely win their fair share of them, but when it comes to being competitive in your own conference, Sparty just doesn't cut it. It seems like every year, they come out of the gate strong, then lose to Michigan, and their season goes into the gutter. And that, my friends, is bad coaching. John L was a master of bad coaching, so at least Sparty fans are used to it. Time will tell if Dantonio can turn the ship around.

Last year saw them become bowl eligible for the first time since 03, and their 5 regular season losses were by 7 points or less. So maybe there is something good going on here. But a word of advice; don't get into a battle of words with your schools biggest rival, especially since you haven't won in six years. Dantonio is safe for now, but be careful hanging your whole coaching career/reputation on one game a year...because that will be all people remember you for.

Tim Brewster - Minnesota
2nd Season

2007: 1-11

Well, we'll start with the good. In this second year of his tenure as the Gophers head coach, there is no where to go but up.

He was attached at the hip with Texas's Mack Brown for 13 years, both at UNC and then Texas. But in 2001, he was hired as a position coach with the San Diego Chargers, and then for two years as TE coach with the Denver Broncos. After that, in 2007, he was announced as the head coach at Minnesota.

In his first presser, he said his immediate goals were to win the conference, and take "Gopher Nation" to the Rose Bowl. He has 4 more years on his contract. Good luck.

Lloyd Carr's 10 Most Important Games

In the same spirit as Brian's all-time Lloyd Carr offense, I decided to put together the top 10 wins of the Lloyd Carr era. These are the biggest wins that Lloyd had during his head coaching career in terms of games that were most impactful to his overall legacy as Michigan's coach.

With a little help from YouTube sensation WolverineHistorian, I give you Lloyd Carr's 10 most important games.

#10
1995
Michigan - 31
Ohio State - 23
Lloyd's first win in his first season over Michigan's biggest rival. You could argue that any win over Ohio State should get into the top 10, or maybe all of his wins...but this one was his first. Biakabatuka ran for 313 yards, the largest per game rushing effort in Michigan history...and led to him setting the single season rushing record. Freshman Charles Woodson had a breakout game covering OSU standout WR Terry Glen. OSU came into this game a top ranked team, sporting such stars as Eddie George, Bobby Hoying, Orlando Pace and Mike Vrabel.


#9
2006
Michigan - 47
Notre Dame - 21
Notre Dame was ranked #2 in the country on September 16, 2006. By September 18, they were much much lower. Michigan humbled the Irish with dominating defense and an aerial assault that led to 3 touchdown passes to Mario Manningham, easily his best effort in a Michigan uniform. But most importantly, it was Lloyd's most impressive win against the Irish.


#8
2003
Michigan - 38
Minnesota - 35
Michigan was down big early on the road in the Minneapolis Metrodome in 2003. They were down 28-7 with just over 14 minutes in the 4th quarter. Two quick scores made it 28-21. Minnesota scored again to put Michigan down 14 again with 10 minutes left. Freshman Garrett Rivas nailed a 33-yard field goal with less than a minute left to go ahead 38-35. The defense held on and gave Michigan their biggest comeback in history.


#7
2004
Michigan - 45
Michigan State - 37
A 3-overtime thriller against our "Little Brother" that finally ended under the temporary lights at the Big House. The biggest game of superstar Michigan WR Braylon Edwards. Also the breakout game from freshman Chad Henne. 04 wasn't the best year for Michigan, but maybe that's what makes this game stand out from the crowd.


#6
1995
Michigan - 18
Virginia - 17
What else can I say? Lloyd's first win. And I was luck enough to be there. It was late August. About 120 degrees on the field, and Michigan played like crap for 46 minutes. With 12 minutes left, Michigan was down 17-0. Freshman Scott Driesbach made a statement by leading Michigan back. Ending the game with a 15 yard touchdown to Mercury Hayes in the corner of the endzone as time expired for a heart-stopping one point win.


#5
2008
Capital One Bowl
Michigan - 41
Florida - 35
Lloyd was able to bookend his career with memorable wins. Maybe one of the most satisfying wins he ever had. Michigan broke the stereotype that the slow and stodgy Big Ten couldn't keep up with the fast and nimble SEC. Florida came into this game with their superstar Heisman winner Tim Tebow, and left with their head's spinning. Michigan was finally healthy enough to put all the pieces of their senior-led offense together for one last game. Every key position player was playing well, as well as the defense...slowing down Florida just enough to give the offense a chance. They carried Lloyd off the field. What a great way to go out.


#4
2003
Michigan - 35
Ohio State - 21
The 100th installment of the greatest rivalry in sports was Lloyd's last win over the team from down south. It was a blowout by normal UM-OSU standards. The game was never really close. But given that it was a historic game, and Lloyd's last win, I have to put it here. The 2003 edition of the Michigan football team was a very talented bunch, but for whatever reason never really put a complete game together until this game. John Navarre played very well as did Chris Perry.

My apologies, WolverineHistorian did not have this game.

#3
1997
Michigan - 20
Ohio State - 14
These matchups usually never produce high scores. Defenses are typically pretty stout (2006 being the anomaly). This game had every fan of both teams on pins and needles. Michigan was ranked #1 and undefeated. OSU had upset on their minds. But Michigan's defense played very tough. Charles Woodson won the Heisman on this game. With a punt return for a touchdown and a key interception in the endzone, he single-handily demoralized the OSU offense and gave Michigan the biggest win against OSU, maybe ever. After this game, Washington State stood no chance.


#2
2000
Orange Bowl
Michigan - 35
Alabama - 34
The first year of the infamous BCS saw Michigan take on Alabama in the Orange Bowl. This was Michigan's first overtime game. Tom Brady had a career day, throwing 4 touchdown and 369 yards. Michigan came from down 14 points twice to pull out an overtime thriller. A missed extra point in the first OT gave Michigan the somewhat surprising victory. This is easily one of Lloyd's career games as a coach.


#1
1998
Rose Bowl
Michigan - 21
Washington State - 16
No mystery here. Michigan takes down Washington in the 1998 Rose Bowl for their first National Championship since 1948. They capped off a dream season in the greatest bowl venue there is. Michigan entered the game 11-0 and had newly crowned Heisman winner Charles Woodson. Lloyd was named the national coach of the year, and his defensive coordinator Jim Hermann was assistant of the year. Michigan was pretty much unstoppable in this game. The score was close, but every Michigan fan knew there was no other way this game would end. The only shame is that Lloyd peaked so early. The last 10 years have seen many ups and downs, but maybe that's what has made this game so much sweeter looking back.

No #1 For You!

The word on the street, and by street I mean internet...is that no one will get to wear the #1 uniform next year.

After word got out that J.T. Floyd, a true freshman DB would be wearing the number, most Michigan faithful, including some high profile NFL stars voiced their disagreement immediately. The loudest of which, came from none other than maybe the greatest WR ever to grace the #1 jersey at Michigan...Braylon Edwards.

After last weekend's charity golf event, which Edwards attended, he spoke with Rich Rodriguez to try and straighten the whole mess out. Edwards, after all, donates scholarship money to the university for the player wearing the famous #1. So he aught to have a say, right?

As it turned out, Rodriguez was just filling out the roster. He knew nothing of the lore behind a standout WR getting the #1.

"I'll plead ignorant on that," Rodriguez. "If I can fix all problems as easy I can fix that one, we're all in a good place."

There were rumors that the former coaching staff had promised the #1 to incoming freshman WR Darryl Stonum, but this blog finds that very hard to believe.

Also, for your consideration...a YouTube video someone posted of the stadium renovation. If our new offensive scheme doesn't intimidate opponents, maybe our towering steel girders will? Don't know what the deal is with the music, but eh? Thanks to mgoblog for the link.

Flickr Browsing

Enjoy.









Disclaimer: All of these images were created and posted to Flickr by other people. Not me. I'm just some guy who thought they looked cool and wanted to link them on my blog. Don't sue me. Please. :-)

Fore!

Over $400,000 was raised yesterday at a charity golf event at the University of Michigan Golf Course. The event was to raise money for the "Champion's for Children's Hearts" initiated by former Michigan players Brian Greise and Steve Hutchinson (pictured...and as usual, Greise with a not-so bright look on his face).

Photo via MLive.com
However, between that and the event dinner held later that night, more than $400,000 was raised for the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital and the Women's Hospital and the Congenital Heart Center.

Photo via MVictors.com
I'd love to be a fly near those two yesterday. All we need now is Russell Crowe. Here's the story from MLive.

Also, the bike built by Orange County Choppers on American Chopper last year in order to raise funds for the C.S. Mott Hospital was auctioned off for $50,000.

The Rodriguez Deposition

Well, I wasn't sure if I was going to weigh in on this topic or not, but given that the more I hear about it, the more noteworthy it gets...I just assume let's get it out there and see how far it goes.

Mark Snyder, a sports writer for the Detroit Free Pres wrote a column today basically just outlining some of the interesting key points from the deposition given by Rodriguez on April 21.

Among the more interesting issues, Rodriguez said that he was coerced to sign his $4 million buyout agreement in August 2007. Later in the deposition, he said "I do believe I was held hostage” by the “$4-million buyout.".

Also an interesting point of interest, is the first contact Michigan had with Rodriquez in December of last year. It was reported that Michigan's first in-person contact with Rodriguez took place on December 14 in Toledo. However, it is now clear that the first actual meeting took place two days prior between Michigan AD Bill Martin, and Rodriguez’s financial adviser, Mike Wilcox.

As usually the case when there are lawyers involved, and depositions taken...there are a lot of details. Too many details in fact to delve into on this blog. However, if you are so inclined, feel free to read the deposition yourself...word for word. (links to PDF files)

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

My take on this whole thing is pretty simple. WVU knew they had a hot coach. Alabama, Arkansas and Kentucky all expressed interest in him at one time or another. So much so that WVU wanted him to sign the aforementioned $4 million buyout last August. They knew he would be gone soon, and knew they had to cash in when he finally left. Rodriguez knew he was a hot commodity, and probably didn't want to sign it. He knew there were better places to be, and WVU was not his career dream. But he's a nice guy and didn't want to screw himself by not signing it. It was as clear of a career catch-22 as there can be.

When Michigan came calling, it was also clear that was the last straw. Whether Rodriguez just decided to say, "screw it...I'm leaving, sue me." or whether or not he honestly felt that he had an "out" and left after seriously thinking about it, is not known. I like to think that he had honest consultation from his lawyers and knew he would be ok. In his deposition he did say the following, according to the Free Press column...
Rodriguez said seeing that basketball coach John Beilein got his buyout clause reduced after leaving WVU for U-M made Rodriguez trust Garrison that his would be reduced, even though he signed a second amendment in August 2007. Rodriguez said he never asked Garrison to do it, but he “trusted” that Garrison would as he promised.
Garrison is the new President of WVU, who took over right as this whole situation was unfolding in August last year.

So, by that quote...it sounds like people told him one thing before he left, and then were nowhere to be found when the sh*t hit the fan when he left for UM.

Its the typical "You're no longer one of us, so we hate you. Give us our money" routine. And Rodriguez is undoubtedly the central figure. But whether or not he's going to pay the full $4 million is yet to be seen. But this blogger thinks not one dime has been paid yet, nor will be in the foreseeable future.

Charity Bowl Wrap Up

What an amazing show of charity and good will. In a marathon 60 hour fund raiser...over $20,000 was raised for disaster relief!

And aside from the real winners of the donations, the three main charities...The Red Cross, CARE, and the International Rescue Committee...the winner of the Charity Bowl itself is none other than our fair university.

And once again, please allow me to copy/paste straight off Fanblogs the final results:

Cash donations made by college football fans: $20,176.00

Team Donation Standings: (Team Total Donated - (Smackdowns) = Final Standing)

1. Michigan $7,260.00 - (0) = $7,260.00
2. Ohio State $2,550.00 - ($170) = $2,380.00
3. Florida $1,820.00 - ($100) = $1,720
4. Alabama $1,075.00 - ($50) = $1,025.00
5. Georgia Tech $700.00 - ($0) = $700.00
6. Texas $605.00 - ($10) = $595.00
7. FSU $470.00 - ($0) = $470.00
8. Oklahoma $440.00 - ($0) = $440.00
9. Auburn $455.00 - ($45) = $410.00
10. Virginia $400.00 - ($0) = $400.00
11. Case Western Reserve $300.00 - ($0) = $300.00
12. Georgia $255.00 - ($0) = $255.00
13. Nebraska $250.00 - ($0) = $250.00
14. SMU $235.00 - ($0) = $235.00
15t. LSU $225.00 - ($0) = $225.00
15t. West Virginia $225.00 - ($0) = $225.00
17t. South Carolina $200.00 - ($0) = $200.00
17t. UCLA $200.00 - ($0) = $200.00
17t. Virginia Tech $250.00 - ($50) = $200.00
20. Tennessee $150.00 - ($0) = $150.00
21. Boston College $135.00 - ($0) = $135.00
22. USC $250.00 - ($119) = $131.00
23. Ole Miss $125.00 - ($0) = $125.00
24. Mississippi State $111.00 - ($0) = $111.00
25. Illinois $101.00 - ($0) = $101.00
26. Notre Dame $100.00 - ($0) = $100.00
27. Arizona State $95.00 - ($0) = $95.00
28. Purdue $55.00 - ($0) = $55.00
29t. Gonzaga $50.00 - ($0) = $50.00
29t. Washington $50.00 - ($0) = $50.00
29t. Rutgers $50.00 - ($0) = $50.00
29t. McGill $50.00 - ($0) = $50.00
29t. Emory $50.00 - ($0) = $50.00
29t. Middleburg College $50.00 - ($0) = $50.00
29t. North Carolina $50.00 - ($0) = $50.00
36t. Michigan State $30.00 - ($0) = $30.00
36t. Kentucky $30.00 - ($0) = $30.00
38t. Arkansas $25.00 - ($0) = $25.00
38t. Miami $25.00 - ($0) = $25.00
38t. Texas A&M $25.00 - ($0) = $25.00
41. Penn State $20.00 - ($0) = $20.00
42t. Colorado $10.00 - ($0) = $10.00
42t. Appalachain State $10.00 - ($0) = $10.00
42t. South Florida $10.00 - ($0) = $10.00
45. Arizona $0 - ($20) = -$20.00


Conference Donation Standings: (Net Donation Totals)

1. Big 10 - $9,846.00
2. SEC - $4,276.00
3. ACC - $1,980.00
4. Big XII - $1,320.00
5. Pac 10 - $456.00
6. Big East - $285.00
7. Conference USA - $235.00

Simply amazing. Such a great job done by EDSBS and Fanblogs for organizing this great event. And I think it says a lot about the goodness in all of us to take out our pocketbooks for such a great cause. So many people will benefit from the money raised by this event.

Way to go sports fans!

We Have Jeter's Blessing

Rest easy Michigan fans. Derek Jeter...yes, the Yankees Derek Jeter (and also Kalamazoo native), thinks Michigan will be successful this year. According to the Detroit Free Press, who interviewed the NY slugger during the rain delay last Sunday at Comerica Park.
"You always expect them to be competitive. You expect them to win. I mean -- that's the bottom line, sort of like how it is here. Regardless of who the coach is or anything, people still expect the team to be good. So, I'm sure they will be fine."
Also, Jeter commented on the hire of Rich Rodriguez...
"I didn't really pay much attention to it. But everything I've heard about him is that he's a great guy, he's a great coach, and I'm sure he's going to do a great job."

Not that I really care what Derek Jeter thinks of Michigan football. But at this point, I'll take all the good press I can get.

The End is Near

This is not sports-related at all. However, since we're in the middle of the off-season, I figure, why not?

ASIMO, the human-like robot developed and built by Honda, conducted the Detroit Symphony Orchestra last night. I was not there to see it, but I did happen to find a video via Engadget that I posted below.

Apparently, Honda "donated" 1 million dollars to the DSO for this event. The robot conducted one song. Last night the DSO also featured a special guest, famed cellist, Yo-Yo Ma. You can find the full story via the Freep.



The only conclusion that I could draw from this, is that the apocalypse is near.

Charity Bowl

Every Day Should Be Saturday and Fanblogs are teaming up to help raise money for the tornado victims in Oklahoma and Georgia and the cyclone in Burma. Please allow me to copy directly from the EDSBS post:

The world is a rolling hot mess, and occasionally in all the festivity some people fall under its glittery wheels. There happens to be an abundance of mayhem at this moment, much of it beyond the control of the people involved–meaning even a grizzled misanthrope like yourself may reach down in your wallet and pluck a doubloon or two from your fortune and donate to charity.

Tornadoes in Oklahoma and Georgia and the cyclone in Burma have one upside at least: they give you a chance not only to show how devoted you are to improving this “karma” thing Carson Daly’s always talking about, but we’re turning the nasty energies of college football rivalry into a positive force in the process

Donations to charities assisting with either the tornadoes or the Burmese cyclone–where aid is slowly and steadily getting through despite the best efforts of the “murder-first” regime there–and we’ll keep tally of the donations as reported. Do good, feel shiny noble throughout your day, and embarrass the stingy bastards at other schools in the process.

The particulars:

1) Make a donation online to the American Red Cross, CARE, or the International Rescue Committee.

2) Email the donation confirmation to kevin@fanblogs.com and state your team affiliation by 8pm EDT on Wednesday, May 14th.

3) Results will be displayed at Every Day Should Be Saturday and Fanblogs throughout the week, with the final results shown by Thursday, May 15th.

4) The winning school will have its colors displayed at EDSBS and logo/mascot shown on every page at Fanblogs.

The standings, as of this post, or at least as of how recently they've been updated prior to this post:

Money raised to date: $5,715.00

Team Donation Standings:

1) Michigan - $1,975
2) Florida - $525
3) Auburn - $355
4) Florida State - $350
5) Ohio State - $305
6) Case Western Reserve - $300
7t) South Carolina - $200
7t) Georgia Tech - $200
7t) SMU - $200
8) Alabama - $180
9) Tennessee - $150
10t) LSU - $125
10t) Ole Miss - $125
10t) Nebraska - $125

All I can say is, Go Blue and keep those donations coming! Way to go CFB bloggers!

Random Stuff

Just browsing the web this morning, I found the press release for the 2008 homecoming game. We are set to play Illinois on October 4th at 3:30P.M. That game will air on ABC.

Also, 3 more Michigan players inked deals with NFL teams last week. Adam Kraus signed a free agent deal with the Baltimore Ravens. Brandent Englemon received a tryout offer from the Green Bay Packers, and Chris Graham will tryout with the Cincinnati Bengals.

Those three will join Jamar Adams, who signed shortly following the draft with the Seattle Seahawks.

Mario Manningham is in the news again. This time for being hurt in the Giants free-agent mini-camp last weekend. He suffered a left hip flexor injury, and had to sit the rest of the day. He said it happened when he did not run a route the right way.

And for your added enjoyment, ESPN goes All-Access with Michigan spring practice. Nothing earth-shaking, but just a lot of interviews and practice footage. Oh, and of course, the token two cents from ESPN cfb golden boy Kirk Herbstreit. Chris Burke from the Diag had this posted on his blog, and I thought it would look good posted here as well.








Just a quick comment/question. Maybe it's just me, but I always found it strange that the Michigan players never stretched before games. Most other teams line up on the field, and do at least 3-5 good minutes of stretching. Does anyone know if Michigan just stretched in the locker room? ...or not at all??? Not a big deal I suppose, but it would be interesting to know.

Hallelujah! Smoke-Less Michigan!

Kinda sports-related...at least as it applies to me. I can finally tolerate smoke-filed sports bars!

The Michigan senate approved a public smoking ban for bars, restaurants and workplaces!

The house approved the bill last December, but faced serious opposition in the senate. But somehow, the senate voted 25-12 in favor of the new bill. According to reports, Jenny will sign the bill when it gets to her desk, maybe as soon as next week.

Finally, Michigan will join the 30 other states that have passed similar bills.

And anyone who argues that small businesses will be hurt by a decline in revenue from absent smokers, understand that the majority of the population does not smoke, nor do they care to spend a lot of time in a smoke-filled environment. And the percentage of the population that does smoke, probably wants to quit. People like me who have been against going to bars or restaurants to watch a Michigan game, or other sporting event, have always chosen not to because of second-hand smoke.

I grew up in Toledo, which has been under a public smoking ban for the past year or two. And when I go down there to visit family/friends for holidays, I usually end up out at local establishments for drinks with friends, and I can tell you that I have never seen bars busier than after the ban was put in place.

Besides, this isn't prohibition...people will still drink.

So rejoice my fellow non-smokers! BW3's in Ferndale...here I come!

Weis Runs His Fat Mouth, And Other Big News

When there is a lack of big news (hello off-season), little news seems to creep up and become big news be default. So today is devoted to the little news...which is now big news, because there is no real big news.

Charlie Weis drops the H-bomb.
That's right folks. Charlie Weis, the blimp of a coach at Notre Dame, the 3-9 Notre Dame from last year...that Notre Dame, is talking smack about Michigan. The same Michigan who put a hurting on #2 Notre Dame in 2006 and an even bigger hurting on them in 2007. To quote the pear-shaped coach, "The Hell with Michigan". That was what he said during a dinner/luncheon/binge-eating session with fans prior to the spring game on April 19th.

Que the video to about the 0:50 mark for the drop.


Video courtesy of Yost at the MZone. And the story can be found at DetNews.com.

Also making little news is the supposed issuing of the #1 jersey number to an unnamed freshman defensive back...and not a wide receiver, as per usual tradition at Michigan. Bryalon Edwards was on ESPN's The Herd a couple days ago talking about this.

"I'm glad you gave me a 'Go Blue' question, because Rich Rod gave the No. 1 jersey to an incoming freshman DB," Edwards said, sounding somewhat annoyed. "The No. 1 jersey has never been worn by anybody outside of a wide receiver -- it dates back to Anthony Carter, so I'm going to have a talk with (Rodriguez) about that next time I see him. But outside of that, he's been doing a great job."

"No freshman will be allowed to wear the No. 1," Edwards said. "The number holds too much significance and too much value. There are three criteria to receive it: first, no freshmen; second, the GPA (grade-point average); third, off-the-field conduct."

Maybe Rodriguez just didn't know about the 30-plus year tradition of the fabled #1 jersey. If not, I'm sure he does by now. And, btw, the DB rumored to the recipient of the #1 is JT Floyd. But whether or not he'll have it on August 30th remains to be seen.

Also barely qualifying as news...BTN and Comcast seem to be in agreement. And the not-so-wonderful BTN will be gracing their air by the start of the football season. I have no official links to this story. Mainly because I just don't care enough to dig for them. But trust me, it's out there somewhere.

And...THE Ohio State University is making news again. This time on SI.com's top 5 sports franchises that everyone loves to hate.

1. Any Team from Boston
2. New York Yankees
3. Los Angeles Lakers
4. THE Ohio State University
5. Chelsea Football Club*

I don't know about you, but those Chelsea Blues...I hate them so much!

I'd like to add a 1B to that list, and that would be Notre Dame. So many people hate Notre Dame...including yours truly. Rudy, the Dome, that damn fight song, the gold in the paint, Lou Holtz, Bob Davie, Charlie Weis...what's not to hate? It just seems to me that OSU cannot come close to the same level of hate that the Irish enjoy around the country. I mean, no one hated the Buffalo Bills when they kept blowing Super Bowls.

*European Football...Soccer. Riots and whatnot.

Olympic Movements, Plyometrics and Speed training

With my little rant out of the way, on to more good news...

And in the off-season, where else to look but our superstar strength and conditioning coach, Mike Barwis. SI.com has a sweet article posted a couple days ago about his approach to training, and his absolutely brutal workout regimen.

Player quote: WR Greg Matthews

"The first couple workouts were really tough for me, a lot of things were running through my mind. Emotionally, mentally, I was wreck. I've worked hard but I never knew what it took to be a champion and to be the best wide receiver in the nation. Coach Barwis has given me a sense what it takes to be the best."

"He is so high-intensity and he demands the best. He doesn't care if you're tired. You still have to make your time, and if you don't, you will be there all day until you make your time. He demands so much from you, and I love him for it, because most players would just be like, 'All right, he's going to let me slide because I'm tired.' But coach Barwis doesn't. When you're running, you're like, 'Man, I can't stand him, I hate him.' But when you're done, you're like, 'Man, I really appreciate the things he did for me.' We've bought in, so we kind of see what he's doing for us now. We kind of love the fact he's there for us and he pushes us so hard now. We've learned to appreciate it now."

If Greg Matthews is talking "best receiver in the nation", you know something is going right.

Setting the Bar So Low You Can Barely See It

Kickoff to the 2008 season is just less than 4 months away. But you wouldn't know that by reading the preview columns and publications that are starting to make their way onto the web and newsstands. Seems like its right around the corner. The off-season gets shorter every year.

Now I'll admit, no matter how I think Michigan will do each year, I still get totally geeked for the start of each season. This year is no different. Usually I am a perpetual optimist. I can see how we can (and should) win at least 10 games and play for a national title. And for the past couple years, why should I have felt any different? We had returning skill players in almost every position. We had a capable and sometimes brilliant defense. And we had coaches who, at least once in their lifetime, had experienced great success.

But, no one can argue that this year is totally different. Some are even willing to claim that this year could be the worst year ever for our beloved squad. While I try to part company with those pundits, I can't help but see their point of views, and at least a little bit...feel some sympathy for them.

I used to live and die with Michigan football. I was a terror to watch a game with. Every bad call, every opponent touchdown was like the end of the world. Most of my family, and even me at times, thought I wouldn't live much longer if I kept watching Michigan games the way I did.

Rant. Start.

But that all changed when I started going to games more often. I started to realize, that I wasn't alone. I was just barely into junior high at the time, but when I started to see full grown men getting so emotionally attached...and usually pissed beyond imagination at the players and what was going on...IN PUBLIC! I had one of those clarity moments. I need to stop this obsession, and simply enjoy Michigan football for what it is. A game.

As I grew up, and realized that there will be let downs almost every year. There will be games that slip away, players that fumble, throw interceptions, get called for holding... Things will usually not go the way you want them to. Sure, there will be moments of pure joy and excitement. But, not every year will be 1997.

2008 is not going to be perfect. No one will argue that. Everything is in some sort state of change. Installing a spread option offense at Michigan would have been just about unthinkable just a few years ago. Back in the days of John Navarre, the word "spread" wasn't even in the Michigan dictionary. When we played Texas in the Rose Bowl...our slow and predictable offense must have looked like an old B&W TV up against a brand new LCD high definition TV of the fast Texas Vince Young attack.

Basically, I'm not here to try and tell you that Michigan is going to be ok and there's no reason to start freaking out. Most die-hard sports fans can not be told how to feel. People already hate Rodriguez for whatever reasons they have. Michigan fans all over are cursing the program, the players, the coaches, even us cautious optimists...all for whatever reasons they may have. Maybe they enjoy it. Maybe the like to set the bar so low that you can barely see it.

I do my best to not read the comment sections of columns I read on freep.com or mlive.com. Even some of the trolls who frequent my fellow Michigan bloggers can too hard to bear sometimes. All I can say to them is, let's not jump off the boat just yet. This isn't Notre Dame. Sure, there are signs of tough times ahead. But give it a chance. I've come to the conclusion that there just isn't a way to make everyone happy.

Fans complain about the quiet stadium. So Michigan builds additions that will make it bigger and louder. Fans complain about Lloyd and his record against OSU. So they get rid of him. Fans complain about being slow and predictable. So they hire Rich Rodriguez, the godfather of the spread option. Fans complain that we didn't get Pryor. So Rodriguez gets two amazing recruits for 2009. Fans complain. Fans complain. Fans complain.

God forbid Bo was our coach today, we'd have run him out of town by now!

You can shut them up for a day. But you better have something great for the day after that...or else. We live in a "gimmie gimmie now now!!!" world. And as long as Ohio State keeps playing in national title games and kicking our ass, we're going to have to keep dealing with it.

Rant. Done.