Justin Boren: Those guys are a bunch of idiots

Oh snap.

If you already despise JBoren for not only quitting the Michigan program to go to their most hated rival, but also ripping the new coaching staff on his way out of town, then this is just gas for the fire.

SportingNews.com writer Michael Bradley recently sat down with JB to discuss his recent departure and how things are going at tOSU.

Players switch schools all the time. They crave more playing time. They want a different coach. They're too far from home. But switching these sides hasn't happened since World War II, when a couple of Buckeyes returned from the service to play for the Wolverines.

Now, a player used to living behind the scenes is very much at the forefront of something fierce. Sitting down with Sporting News for his first interview since making the controversial move in the spring, he's not backing down from the Michigan fans who won't forgive or forget.

"I laugh at it," he says of the abuse he has received. "It never wore on me. Those guys are a bunch of idiots."

Zing!

Justin, what happened? We used to be so close!

"I never wanted to quit Michigan," Boren says. "But when I left, Ohio State was the only school I ever considered."

Really?! You're a potential all-American and could be a standout at almost any school in the nation. And the only school that crossed your mind was a place where you can't get a scholarship and where everyone will hate you for having once played at Michigan, and everyone where you're leaving from will hate you for going to their rival.

Yes, I can see why no other schools popped into you mind.

JB's father Mike had played for Michigan, for Bo from 1980-83.

When JB was being recruited by Michigan and tOSU, Bo made a call to Mike...

"You're not going to let Justin go to Ohio State, are you?" Schembechler asked Mike Boren.

"He's going to make his own decision," Mike replied.

Imagine how hard it must have been for Mike to say that to Schembechler. He had grown up in Columbus and graduated in 1980 from Eastmoor High School -- Buckeyes legend Archie Griffin's high school. Mike wanted more than anything to play for Ohio State. But the Buckeyes didn't recruit him.

"(Ohio State) shunned me," Mike says. "Bo took me in."

Okay...go on.

Now, Schembechler was issuing a mandate.

"You're his father," Schembechler barked. "You don't let him go to Ohio State. Tell him where to go."

That meeting had plenty of influence on Justin's decision.

"That was definitely something in the back of my mind," he says.

So were the annual trips to Ann Arbor he made with his family for Michigan games, often against Ohio State. Justin would walk on the field beforehand and meet former players and, of course, Schembechler.

Here's where it gets all mushy.

Boren chose Michigan and made Schembechler happy.

Trouble was, during the recruiting process, Boren had grown close to OSU boss Jim Tressel and offensive line coach Jim Bollman.

"Coach Tressel is a total players coach," Boren says. "He's a first-class guy and down to earth. Coach Bollman is the same way.

"One of the toughest things I've ever done was telling Coach Tressel I was going to Michigan. I loved those guys so much and had become so close."

Toughest things ever? Seriously? Man, tough life.

Okay, here's the good stuff.

"Players want to be coached and have somebody take them to a different level than they can take themselves," Rodriguez says of his aggressive style. "If people think that's demeaning, they misunderstand us."

Running back Steve Slaton, now a Houston Texans rookie, had no problem with Rodriguez's tactics when Slaton played for him at West Virginia.

"Some people need that push, that extra push," Slaton says. "You think you're giving it your all, but your coach knows what you can do and what you can offer."

Boren didn't respond to Rodriguez's pushing and left, saying that the "family values" that Carr had instilled in the program had eroded. Some said Boren couldn't handle the demanding conditioning program Rodriguez and strength coach Mike Barwis had instituted. Others said Carr had coddled Boren and other starters, and when Rodriguez and his staff turned up the volume, Boren cracked.

"I don't think coach Carr had favorites," former Michigan running back Mike Hart says. "(Boren) got yelled at like everybody else, even though his dad played for Bo."

Boren also disputes the notion that he left because he couldn't handle Rodriguez's offense.

"Was it my first choice? Hell, no. But I could have gotten acquainted," he says.

Rodriguez chooses not to comment on Boren. Ohio State's coaches have steered clear of the saga, as well. And neither Boren nor his father will comment specifically on Rodriguez.

"When I get done with college football, I'll let it out," Boren says.

I see. And now the money shot...
"(Tressel and his staff) coach with class and emphasize education," he says. "They put what's most important first. Each player is important. There's no bashing of players. You're not going to be belittled. Each player has feelings. They treat each person with respect."
Well isn't that just dandy. Does Sir Teflon come and tuck you in and read you Woody stories every night? Of course there's no bashing of players. They're paid by boosters, given sportscars from area car dealers, given passing grades from professors and slapped on the wrist when they get caught drunk driving, raping co-eds, shoplifting, or arrested for domestic violence. Plus the NCAA looks the other way when it comes to blatant recruiting violations. Not a bad gig, really.
"I was sad to see coach Carr go," Boren says. "I was hoping (Rodriguez) would keep some of his assistants." He didn't.
Yes he did.
"As soon as I got my release papers, I contacted Ohio State, and they welcomed me with open arms," he says.
...and an open checkbook.

"He enjoys people booing him," Mike Boren says. "He thrives on that. The more Michigan boos him, the harder he'll work."

Boren says the hate spewing from Ann Arbor doesn't bother him much, that he ignores it, that he knows the real reasons he left.

He thrives on it, yet ignores it at the same time. Impressive.

Justin Boren the man: Not impressive.

2008 Michigan Preview: Receivers

If the QB is the meat of the spread offense, then the receivers are the potatoes.

Not only did Michigan lose their star wideout a year early, but they also lost the backup star wideout, Manningham and Arrington. Those two would've flourished under the new system. But, such is life. They left, and we must move on. Sure, we have a roster of unknowns, but we're deep with unknowns!

Making his starting debut this year, Greg Mathews (Jr. 6-3, 207) will be a somewhat familiar face to Michigan fans. He saw some pretty good playing time catching passes from Henne last year. With Hart hurt and Grady out, receivers were pressed to produce. And with Henne's injury, they were asked to catch lightning rods from Mallett. Mathews had 39 catches for 366 yards and 3 TDs last year. He saw playing time in every game, seeing at least 1 reception per game.

This year he will be asked to spend more time blocking than last year. Spreading the field out means that receivers are now not only engaging DBs at the line, but blocking downfield and maybe even taking on a LB or two.

Mathews has decent size for a WR. And he has the speed to be able to get into the middle of the field and get some attention from safeties. Breaking in a new QB might be a bit easier with a speedy talented WR corps. Mathews will be a pivotal player in this system.

Junior Hemingway (So. 6-1, 214) is a virtually unknown in the Michigan roster. Odds are you've heard his name a few times, but haven't a clue who he is and what he can do.

Hemingway only saw action in two games last year, although played in 10. He had 4 catches for 37 yards. I wish I could give a more detailed description of this guy, but I just don't have a clue what he is capable of. Out of HS, he was a 4-star recruit and the #19 player on the ESPN Top 150.

Also listed as a starter this year is Toney Clemons (So. 6-3, 201). Another virtually unknown on the Michigan roster. He played in 10 games last year, earned a letter. But only made one catch, against Purdue, for 5 yards. His HS career was good. He was a 4-star recruit and the #10 rated WR according to Scout.com.

Perhaps the most exciting player at the WR position this year could be true freshman Darryl Stonum (Fr. 6-2, 190). Stonum has been on the roster since January when he enrolled early at UM. He participated in the spring game and looked very impressive.

A 4-star recruit, #12 WR in the nation by Scout.com. In 2006 Stonum had 49 receptions for 1,100 yards and 16 touchdowns. He also recorded seven punt returns for 236 yards and two touchdowns. He is known for his speed, downfield threat and running ability.

Also showing up on the radar are LaTerryal Savoy, Roy Roundtree, Jon Conover and James Rogers.

It's a big radar.

Boys Will Be Boys

Got a chance to watch the Penn State story on Outside the Lines on last night's SportsCenter. I wasn't going to make any comments or post my take until I had a chance to watch the piece in full and let it digest for a while.

I tried to watch this story not as a laughing Michigan fan, but as a horrified Penn State fan. And while I felt a little dirty afterwords, I couldn't help but feel that if this was my favorite team, I'd be moderately concerned...from a recruiting perspective at least!

As I can see it, and I might be totally off here, Joe Paterno may be one of the greatest coaches this game has ever seen, but he has totally lost control...and his mind. He may not even be involved in the day-to-day operations of the football team. And if he isn't, fine. But who is? And why doesn't anyone know?

He's about to start his 43rd season as head coach. I figured this may be one of the better years Penn State has seen in a while. I mean the Big Ten is way down...OSU is slightly overrated, IMO, and Michigan is transitioning. Penn State is ripe for a banner year, they have the talent. But after this glimpse into the inner workings of their program, now, I think maybe not.

But, I'm not going to go all "told you so" here. And I'm also not going to play Michigan fanboy and bash the PSU program. I think ESPN did a pretty good job of that. Watching JoPa claim "witch hunt" a bunch of times was worthwhile enough. But hey, its easy to not see the forest through the trees. Michigan fans are guilty of that. The whole Rodriguez fiasco is a prime example. But the only difference here is, all he did is change jobs and torch the bridge as he left town. Penn State players are beating up students, en masse. And being charged with rape, assault, underage drinking, and a host of many other typical charges that you would expect to see once in a while on a college campus. The problem here is, it's happening all the time and all at the same school.

So what's it all mean? It means that the program is out of control. And I don't mean that in a "Kevin Borseth post-game presser" kind of way, but in a "Iceberg, right ahead!!!" kind of way. How did it get to this point? Why have Penn State administrators and the athletic department not taken more drastic measures? What is this, Ohio State?

Look, all I'm saying is, I'm not going to get on ESPN for making this a headline story. This is a headline story. The numbers speak for themselves:
Since 2002, 46 Penn State football players have faced 163 criminal charges, according to an ESPN analysis of Pennsylvania court records and reports. Twenty-seven players have been convicted of or have pleaded guilty to a combined 45 counts.
Go ahead PSU fans...twist those numbers. Please, I beg you. Come back at me with a Kevin Grady rip. Try. No matter how you look at it, there is no comparison. Penn State has a serious problem, and it all starts at the top. Fire Paterno, keep him...whatever. Someone needs to be held accountable. It's not the players. The simple "boys will be boys" attitude that Paterno has seemingly adopted just doesn't cut it. His punishment of making them clean the stadium after games was ridiculous...especially since he stopped midway through the season. How many would like to bet he wasn't even there to observe?

I typically don't get to wrapped up in other Big Ten teams problems. But when its this bad, I feel compelled. It's just bad PR for the conference. Ohio State loosing 2 BCS title games in a row sucks for all of us, but this is just stupid. With a little more honest leadership and better enforcement of rules, this all could've been avoided. Shame on Penn State and shame on Paterno for letting this happen.

I swear, all I want is for some damn football to start being played!

2008 Michigan Preview: TE & OL

For as much as any offense relies on the backfield, this blogger feels that it all starts up front. And with 4 of 5 of last year's starters gone this year, there is a lot of work to do. There are some bright spots. For example, our depth. But as far as experience is concerned, as you will see, its not pretty.

Starting from left to right, tackle Mark Ortmann (6-7, 294). Mark has played in 13 career games, and starting 2 last year at the right tackle position. Saw action in 6 games last year. Seems to be a pretty solid player at right, we'll see how he does on the left side. Not that it needs to be mentioned, but I will...he has maybe the biggest shoes to fill on this year's team.

Left guard, Tim McAvoy (6-6, 288). Appeared in 7 contest in his Michigan career, starting 1 in 2007, against Northwestern at right guard. No idea if he'll be good or not. He's surely got the build, but does he have the quickness?

Center, David Moosman (6-5, 292), has limited experience, playing on only 7 games so far, and starting none. He saw some decent backup time in 06 in 4 games, and in only 2 in 07. I'd like to think he's just a late-bloomer, but we'll see how this early-season goes. David Molk, a 4-star prospect from Lemont, Ill backs up Moosman this year. They may both see equal time as the season progresses.

Right Guard Cory Zirbel (6-5, 292) is probably the most experienced of the returning non-starters from 07. He played in all 13 games last year, both on special teams and offense, and 8 games in 06.

Right tackle Steve Shilling (6-5, 295) is the one and only returning starter from 07. He was a freshman all-American last year, starting 11 games at right tackle and 2 at right guard. He missed all of 06 due to injury and illness. He's not Jake Long, but on this inexperienced line, he's about as close as you can get.

I kind of hesitate to preview the tight end position, because tight ends are so infrequently used in a spread offense, but when lining up against big fast linebackers, tight ends on this team could end up being more valuable as blockers than pass catchers. I know, big departure from the previous coaching philosophy! The nice thing is, we have two very experienced guys at this position.

Carson Butler. Played in 24 games and started in 13 as a tight end. His career has seen 39 receptions for 412 yards and 3 touchdowns. Like most tight ends at Michigan, big and tough and can catch a zinger if thrown his way.

Backing up Butler is Mike Massey. Younger brother of former Michigan player and 2005 captain Pat Massey. He's a three year letter winner and has seemingly been in the program since the Moeller regime. He's only caught 20 passes for 161 yards and two touchdowns during his career, so I doubt his stats will drastically improve this year.

Official Depth-Chart Released

Found this at Varsity Blue, and then verified via the mgoblue weekly release. The depth-chart for the first game against Utah has been debuted. Although this is basically an adaptation from the depth-chart coming out of spring ball, none-the-less...it is here and we must post it.


Enjoy!

2008 Michigan Preview: Running Backs

For as much as Mike Hart meant to this squad the last 4 years, you would think his absence would be felt a little more. But non-stop injuries and the lasting effects of a high-ankle sprain last year were almost a blessing in terms of grooming this year's running backs.

As Michigan struggles to transition their QBs to the spread, they should have little trouble with the RBs. This position is, I believe, the most overlooked on the team by far. A highly talented trio of Carlos Brown, Brandon Minor and Kevin Grady should take a lot of pressure off of the inexperience at QB.

The projected starter and probably most talented of the group, Brandon Minor, should see the bulk of the carries. And while he will be backed up pretty well, his quickness and ability to block (both Michigan RB standards) should prove him well. Let's not forget, for all of the changes made in the last year at Michigan, the one thing that didn't change was the RB coach Fred Jackson. Rodriguez's spread has been rather run-happy the past few years at WV.

Minor's stats are actually quite mediocre so far in his college career. He did see action in every game in 07, but his only 100+ game was against Minnesota where he had 157 yards in 21 carries. His best outing as a kick returner was against Florida where he had 98 yards on 5 returns.

Also lining up in the backfield, Carlos Brown. Brown was a very stable 3rd string option when Hart was healthy, and a viable co-starter when Hart was out. His back to back 100+ yard games came in 07 after Hart's high-ankle sprain. Against Illinois (with Mike Hart out) he ran for 113 yards on 25 carries. And his all-time best outing came the following week against Minnesota with 132 yards on 13 carries, and 67 kick return yards on 3 returns. He did not, however, see any action against Ohio State or in the bowl game against Florida.

Kevin Grady is a big question mark for 2008. A few months ago, I would've said he'd be a legitimate starting contender, if not a solid backup. Now, after his little DUI a few weeks ago, and his "not-guilty" plee, who knows where he'll end up on the depth-chart. Couple that with a lagging knee-injury sustained last year in spring drills, and you really have no idea.

Before spring of 07, his career at Michigan looked bright. He was a solid backup for Hart in 05 and 06. His 05 season was by far the best so far. Hart being out helped in a big way. We know he'll be on the shit list for at least a couple games, if not the whole year. So we'll address his status as it develops.

But the real potential superstar in the backfield for this season, and more likely the season's to come is true-freshman Sam McGuffie from Cy-Fair HS in Texas. A brief rundown of his HS stats from mgoblue.com:
...tallied 699 career carries for 5,847 yards and 83 touchdowns ... carried the ball 205 times for 1,711 yards and scored 23 touchdowns during injury-shortened senior season ... rushed for 3,121 yards on 358 carries and scored 44 TDs as a junior ... carried the ball 115 times for 853 yards and scored 11 touchdowns sophomore season.
Not bad. My only worry is his injury he sustained in his senior year. Well, I guess my other only worry is his apparent "white-ness" and his lack of size. He reminds me of the hype that Justin Fargas had when he came to Michigan, only to change from RB to S, break his leg then transfer away and become hugely successful at USC and then in the NFL. Hopefully under the speed-friendly RR scheme, McGuffie he will find a good home here.

Up next: the much-awaited TE and OL preview.

Big Ten Media Days

A lot of people talking in Chicago these couple of days in July. The annual Big Ten Media Conference is in full swing on day 2, and while others might be following this event with a little more vigor, we do strive to provide as much coverage of Michigan football as possible.

Day 1 Rodriguez Presser:


Nothing ground breaking in there. Pretty much the expected questions and expected answers. I wasn't in the room, but it sounded like the snake-oil joke hit with a hollow thud...is this thing on?

Commentary: It's not that I am against the WV twang in RR voice, I have to admit, its kind of endearing. But it will be nice if it subsides as he spends more time "up north". Its a little tough to take a guy seriously when he has such a non-serious accent. But that's neither really here nor there.

Hopefully this will be the last time we have to hear about WV and that whole fiasco. I appreciate the seriousness of it, and I'm not trying to downplay it, but it is time to move forward. And I think nothing will cure those blues like actual football being played.

Btw...If you're a tOSU player and you didn't receive a preseason award and/or are not on a watch list, please contact me and I will make one up for you. We really should make sure we have all of you covered. In-bread bastards.

Slocum Out, 2008 Roster

So the new roster is out. Only one name is missing, and that is Marques Slocum. To most insiders, this is no real big surprise. Slocum has battled academic problems his whole college career. He had to earn a scholarship after his freshman year due to grades coming out of high school. And once he did, his problems with the law hindered his chances at becoming a standout.

Reports are that he left the team on his own. Its also known that he wasn't too fond of the new tougher conditioning standards set by the new administration. Hey, if I was 6-2, 320, I doubt I would like seeing Barwis in my locker room.

And so, the 2008 Roster (complete with incoming freshman numbers; and no #1 jersey):

Where's Appalachian State now?


Jon Jansen is my hero. He was my hero in 1997 as the right tackle for Michigan, and he's my hero all over again. Story via the freep...
Former Michigan offensive lineman Jon Jansen has a long memory, which could turn out to be bad news for Redskins rookie offensive lineman Kerry Brown.

Brown was a member of last year's Appalachian State football team that upset Michigan in Ann Arbor. Jansen hasn't forgotten.

The ex-Wolverine now makes Brown carry his helmet during Redskins training camp, according to Adam Himmelbach of the Free Lance-Star of Fredericksburg, Va.

"(Jansen) came over to me and said, 'Hey, rook. Carry my helmet. Where's Appalachian State now,'" Brown said.

It could be a long training camp for Brown.
Indeed. Here's to Jansen saving some face after last year's upset of the century...and administering a little rookie bitch-slap at the same time.

Cheers!

NCAA 09 For Nintendo Wii Review


Crap.

That pretty much sums it up.

I was at Blockbuster over the weekend, and saw a copy of NCAA 09 for the Wii and decided to plop down the 8 bucks to rent it for 5 days. I took it home, threw it in, played one half, turned it off, walked away. That was Sunday. I haven't turned it on since.

Oh sure, it has all the pretty colors and noises that drive three-year-olds bonkers, but for someone who played the original Xbox version since 2004, all this game did was make me sad. I have to believe that someone over at EA has to be thinking this was a total disaster. Anyone?

The fit and finish of the game is a serious drop off from the 08 Xbox version. The field looks over saturated and fake, the stadiums are no longer detailed and specific to the school, the player animations are jagged and don't match the "japan-imation" look of the rest of the game. As far as gameplay goes, the "AllPlay" may be good or bad, I didn't try it. I used full playbooks, turned off the ball-trails, etc... I tried to make it as close to what I was used to as possible. But it was no use.

My QB threw pic after pic, and when not throwing to the opposite team, he'd throw it into a wide open spot on the field without a receiver within 15 yards. Running was okay. Holes were pretty open and it was nice to be able to run some option plays (even with Mallett). Defensively, you can kiss sacking the QB goodbye. And good luck defending the pass. Opposing QBs all turn into Tom Brady!

This version is a drastic step backwards for this franchise. It might not be so bad, but the 360 and PS3 versions look drop-dead gorgeous. And from what I hear, the gameplay is right on par. EA, Nintendo really dropped the ball. If you want to enjoy this game, go buy a 360 or PS3. The Wii might be a great gaming platform, but not for this storied franchise.

Michigans Adds DeQuinta Jones, Recruiting Update

Michigan got another verbal for the 2009 class. This one comes from defensive end DeQuinta Jones out of Bastrop, LA. Not only is he a big guy, 6'2" and 265 lbs., but he is also very quick, running a 40 in 4.7. Rivals has him at three stars, which is pretty average for a player like Jones. But needless to say, having a very good prospect at DE in the 09 class is very good sign for how Rodriguez is recruiting so far.


As this is my first post dedicated to the 09 class, I thought I'd add some commentary about this upcoming class. First of all, the standouts...

Kevin Newsome, who has been reported to be on the fence about his commitment to Michigan. But Rivals.com had this to say yesterday (via mgoblog)...
Newsome has been the focus of widespread speculation that he's going to end up somewhere other than Michigan. After not wanting to talk about recruiting on Saturday and Sunday, he opened up a little bit on Monday. "I'm committed to Michigan," Newsome said. "Me and Bryce McNeal were going around bragging how we're going to beat Randall Carroll, who's going to USC, Cierre Wood, who's going to Notre Dame. We were bragging about things like that." Newsome said he really hit it off with McNeal. "It was great to be around a guy that's going to be a future teammate hopefully," he said. "He's a great guy. Bryce is a good, good guy. He's one of my boys now. We're going to really stay in touch."
Take from that what you will, it could all be smoke-in-mirrors. I'll finally be happy with Newsome when I see him in a winged helmet. He's saying all the right things, things that Michigan fans want to hear...and that's what scares me.

Also mentioned in that article, Bryce McNeal. A standout WR from Minneapolis. So far, Michigan is looking solid in the WR position. McNeal will join Daryl Stonum (08 freshman) next year in what could be one of the best WR tandems since Terrell/Walker.

But for my money, the true standout of the class is DT William Campbell. The 5-star recruit from Detroit will anchor the D-line for maybe the whole time he's at Michigan. We lose the core of the D-line after this year with the departure of Will Johnson and Terrance Taylor. Campbell must step up.

New Season, New Banner

Why yes, that is a new banner gracing the pages of Maize & Blue Nation! After many various versions, I have finally landed on one that I like enough to take us into the 2008 season. I like to keep the design simple. And I wasn't going to go with an image, but after finding this one of the sky above the 2005 UM-Penn State game, I had no choice but to go with it.

What a great image. This shot means a lot to me, not only as a Michigan fan, but as one who was at that game, and got to witness one of the most amazing moments in Michigan Football history.

Ok, you asked for it...



However, the shot was not taken by me. I had to get permission from the man behind the camera...a member of that year's Michigan Marching Band. Luckily, he was more than gracious to allow me to use it. So, if you have a moment, head on over to his Flickr page to view some more great shots.

Also, just announced, LB Shawn Crable has signed with the New England Patriots. No details have been released.

And for those looking to catch a lesser home game or travel to Happy Valley or Minneapolis this season to catch the Maize & Blue, individual game tickets for certain contests go on sale Wednesday at 8:30AM.

Home games, Utah (8/30), Miami OH (9/6), Toledo (10/11) go up for $50 & Northwestern (11/15) for $55. While road games at Penn State (10/18) and at Minnesota (11/8) go for $61 and $45 respectively.

2008 Michigan Preview: Quarterback

No where else to start our 2008 preview but at the QB position. No matter what kind of offense you run, the QB position is vital. And with a new spread attack being installed, more than ever does Michigan need an experienced player to fill that role.

However, this year will not be kind to Michigan in the QB department. Not only does Michigan not have a returning starter, they don't have a returning back-up. Both Henne and Mallett are gone. And while this blogger thinks Mallett is better off not running this system, a little swagger or confidence would go a long way.

Steven Threet at 2008 Spring Game

Steven Threet will most likely be the starter come August 30th. Nick Sherridan and David Cone will back-up Threet. Another likely, and maybe even more probable starting candidate is freshman Justin Feagin. No matter who the starter is, there will be a gestation period. No one steps into a high-profile starting role at Michigan with ease.

Justin Feagin in HS

So far I like what I've seen of Threet, which isn't much. But this will likely be a one-year deal with whomever gets the eventual starting nod. With a host of very talented recruits coming on board for 09, no one should get too comfy in the huddle.

Threet during 2008 Spring Practice

The primary goal for any QB this year should be just not to F-up. Rely heavily on a talented backfield and fast receivers. The o-line should provide at least decent protection. But with such a fast spread, that should take a lot of responsibility off the line. I wish I could give a better forecast for what to expect from this position, but there's just simply no way to expect anything.

New Depth Chart, Blah Blah Off-Season

I've been doing some fun stuff with spreadsheets these past few days, and as a result, I want to do sort of a "test post" to see how it looks. I thought I would update you all with what I consider the 2-deep depth chart as of spring ball.

Of course, so many things will change come August when the team takes the practice field, but I thought it would be fun to kill some off-season time with some speculation.





.

2008 Michigan Depth-ChartUpdated: 7/15/08

.

OffenseStarterBackup

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QB10 Steven Threet8 Nick Sherridan

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RB4 Brandon Minor23 Carlos Brown

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WR13 Greg Matthews22 Darryl Stonum

.

WR17 Toney Clemons35 Jimmy Potempa

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WR21 Junior Hemmingway82 LaTerryal Savoy

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TE85 Carson Butler83 Mike Massey

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LT52 Steve ShillingDann O'Neill

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LG75 Cory Zirbel72 Mark Huyge

.

C60 David Mooseman50 David Molk

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RG62 Tim McAvoy72 Mark Huyge

.

RT71 Mark OrtmannDann O'Neill

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DefenseStarterBackup

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DT90 Tim Jamison92 Greg Banks

.

DT55 Brandon Graham99 Greg Patterson

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DE97 Will Johnson95 Renaldo Sagesse

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DE67 Terrance Taylor94 John Ferrara

.

LB54 Austin Panter58 Brandon Herron




.

LB33 Marell Evans8 Jonas Mouton

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LB45 Obi Ezeh49 John Thompson

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CB14 Morgan Trent29 Troy Woolfolk

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CB6 Donovan Warren35 Doug Dutch

.

S27 Brandon Harrison5 Charles Stewart

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S3 Stevie Brown40 Michael Williams

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.

Special TeamsStarterBackup

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K43 Bryan Wright84 K.C. Lopata

.

P41 Zoltan Mesko43 Bryan Wright

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PK84 K.C. Lopata34 Jason Gingell

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PR6 Donovan Warren13 Greg Matthews

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KR4 Brandon Minor27 Brandon Harrison

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LS59 Sean Griffin

So there you go. This, along with so many other statistical spreadsheets will be adorning this site as the season progresses.

I really really really don't want to get into the habit of just posting links. I think as a somewhat serious blogger (really?), you should be able to generate some worthwhile content...however, it is mid-July. And as we get ready to gear up for the season, honest to goodness content may be a bit hard to come by. So I apologize for all of the "filler".

Also, I am going to be participating in the mgoblog's blogpoll this year. As a fellow mgoblogger, I am very happy to have my vote counted. All hail the king of Michigan blogs!

And, I'll also be doing the Big Ten Bloggers Pick'em for the first time! This is a pick'em game administered by Gopher Nation (long live the "Nation" blogs!). We have probably 20 or so Big Ten blogs participating, and only about 25% are Penn State blogs...so it should be fun!

Wednesday Link-a-thon!

Lots of stuff going this week around the web. ESPN dot com has a given us plenty of Mike Bawris content. Yesterday they posted a couple of interesting items. Basically touting his steady following of NFL-ers who train with him in the off-season to improve explosiveness and quickness. Like we've heard a few times, its not about gaining mass, its about toning that mass to be quick and agile...as well as strong. Very good reads.

Bruce Feldman Article
Adam Rittenberg Part 1
Adam Rittenberg Part 2

Also, a cool little video about the Big House from Hulu, posted to mgoblog and now to this site.



Michigan SportsCenter has some videos posted of NCAA Football 09. Sadly, as reported yesterday, I will not be purchasing. The Wii version is, what I hear, really bad. And all I have is a Wii now. If anyone of my loyal readers has a spare Xbox 360 laying around, we gladly accept donations (no tax deductions, sorry).

Former Michigan Wolverine, notorious pot smoker, Mario Manningham has been signed to a 4-year contract with the Super Bowl champion New York Football Giants. Freep story.

More fun stuff to come in the next few days/weeks leading up to August 30. I am working on some stats spreadsheets that can be easily posted here throughout the season. Its a ridiculous ton of work to make it work and look good. So maybe it'll never happen.

Go Blue!

QB's Abound

Apparently, you can't swing a dead cat in Ann Arbor without hitting a top 10 QB prospect.

After just 7 months or so on the job, Rich Rodriguez has brought in 4 of the best QBs in the nation for visits. And two of them have verbally committed. One, of course...Pryor, is heading to tOSU for his freshman year this upcoming season. But for 2009, things look much brighter.

We all know about Kevin Newsome. According to reports, he may be on the fence. He's verbally committed to Michigan for 09, but he's still being actively recruited by VA Tech and Penn State.

Also, Michigan's second verbal, Shavodrick Beaver from Wichita Falls, TX came just 5 days after Newsome's. Both are top 8 QB prospects.

However, a couple names have been tossed in recently as well. 4-star recruit Tate Forcier, younger brother of former Michigan QB Jason, is well in the mix. He attended Michigan's camp this summer and word is his parents are really high on Rodriguez.

But also adding to the mix is the 6th ranked dual-threat QB in the country (rivals.com), Eugene Smith from Miramar, FL. He was just recently added to the Elite 11 QB camp list in California later this summer. He will take a visit to Ann Arbor in the near future...probably during the season.

On a side note, NCAA Football 09 is officially released today. Unfortunately, I will not be buying this year's installment. They no longer make the game for my aging but still worthwhile Xbox, and the version coming out for the Wii looks just terrible. So maybe next year the Xbox gods will give me a 360, but until then, I'm stuck with my 08 version.

Also, happy 1 year birthday to Maize & Blue Nation! Last July 12 was my first post. We started out under a whole different name, "Scot Loeffler's All-Stars", but quickly realized midway through the season that Scot may not be around too much longer, and we needed to search out a new name. Either way, it's been a fun year and hopefully there will be many more.

Thanks for reading!

Cheers!

Official New Uniform Photo


So, finally...we have an official photo of the authentic 08 uniforms. Compliments of the Free Press. These are pretty much what we thought they'd look like, based on recent leaks and photos. But still, its nice to finally get a good look.

According to the article, Michigan Athletic department chose the design, Rodriguez signed off on it, and the equipment managers travelled to the Adidas factory in Perry, N.Y. to oversee the production.

Via the Freep article...
“We’re celebrating what’s special about the school,” said Mark Clinard, Adidas’ business unit director for football, baseball and motor sports. “The details are what speak to that. As we learned more at very beginning stages of partnership, we were looking at what’s special about Michigan. We put Bo Schembechler’s famous quote ‘Those Who Stay Will Be Champions’ in the hem of the authentic jersey. It’s not just about us just putting a logo on the program. We also have (silicone prints of) the 42 Big Ten championships on the inside of shoulder pad area. We can do everything with the outside of the jersey to uphold the honor and tradition. We’re putting more on the inside.”

Adidas is touting three technological aspects of the jerseys: the ClimaCool fabric system that enhances ventilation in “high heat zones”; the Foromotion cuts, strategically placed seams that remove excess fabric such as when a wide reciever stretches for a ball; and beyond the jersey, players will have the TechFit PowerWeb sleeve for their calves to improve oxygen delivery and increase blood flow.

“With the new Adidas football uniforms, our student athletes will benefit from the quality of the products, and players and fans alike can be proud to wear a jersey that celebrates Michigan football,” U-M athletic director Bill Martin said in a statement.
Pick up the replicas at M-Den starting tomorrow, and the authentics on August 1st.

Because it's Friday!

I was just doing a little image search on google and stumbled upon this little guy. We don't have many chances at getting in a cheap shot at tOSU these days, so when we get one, you bet I'll take it! Have a great weekend everybody!

Michigan Pre-Season Projected Starters: Defense

We will assume that Michigan will run a pretty standard 4-3 defense...at least as a base formation. Why? Because it just makes it easier to create a depth chart, that's why!

DEFENSE:

DE: Tim Jamison/Greg Banks

DE: Brandon Graham/Adam Patterson

DT: Will Johnson/Renaldo Sagesse

DT: Terrance Taylor/John Ferarra

LB: Austin Panter/Brandon Herron

LB: Marell Evans/Jonas Mouton

LB: Obi Ezeh/John Thompson

CB: Morgan Trent/Troy Woolfolk

CB: Donovan Warren/Doug Dutch

S: Brandon Harrison/Charles Stewart

S: Stevie Brown/Michael Williams



LS: Sean Griffin

KR: Brandon Minor/Brandon Harrison

PR: Donovan Warren/Greg Matthews

Not to mention also that some true freshman could also see some PT, as with the offense.

Rich Rodriguez-WVU Aftermath, and What it All Means

Details are now coming to light about the specifics on the whole RR-WVU ordeal. As of right now, Rich Rodriguez will pay $4 million to West Virginia over the next 3 years. This was the total amount stipulated in his most recent contract signed last summer.

Of the $4M, Rodriguez will only be required to pony up $1.5M. The remaining $2.5M will be paid by The University of Michigan, as well as any legal fees accrued over the last 6 months.

Any and all interest fees will be waived, and only the principal $4M will be due.

Now, what does this all mean?

If you're Michael Rosenberg of the Detroit Free Press, you may think this is a sign of why Rich Rodriguez is an evil man hell bent on job-searching all the time looking for that better deal. And while I disagree with Rosenberg, I see where he's coming from. But lets take a look at some of his larger points...
"This whole thing could have, and should have, been settled long ago. But RichRod was determined to fight West Virginia all the way to the bitter end. Anybody who has even driven past a law school knew he had no case, but that didn’t matter to Rodriguez."

"Martin should have told Rodriguez that this whole ordeal was embarrassing the university, and that the case was a lost cause. But Martin’s legacy is in Rodriguez’s hands, so he let his coach do whatever he wanted."
While I agree that in hind-sight, he may not have had much of a chance, given this nature of his beef with WVU, and the fact that they had a signed agreement that said RR would pay up, I can almost guarantee that University of Michigan lawyers were involved in the prolonging of the final agreement, and it was not just RR being stubborn. Thus, the legal fees all being paid for by Michigan.
We now know Rodriguez doesn’t believe in contracts. He signed an amended contract with West Virginia just four months before he left. He then claimed that the signed contract was not as important as a verbal agreement that preceded it — a laughable legal argument.
First of all, this paragraph just illustrates clearly that Rosenberg has a serious axe to grind. He obviously doesn't like Bill Martin, and is using RR to get to him.
"He can charm the media, which is nice. But those who have attended his practices say Rodriguez’s staff uses some of the foulest, most degrading language imaginable. I know coaches curse, and I’m no prude, but this goes way beyond a few dirty words. He belittles his players. This is a big part of why offensive lineman Justin Boren left the team. He felt his dignity was at stake."

"Of course, a lot of Michigan fans would rather think of Boren as a traitor who couldn’t handle tough coaching. They tell themselves Rodriguez is no different from Bo Schembechler, whose rigorous 1969 practices are part of the program’s legend. And there will always be some people who happily make that comparison, especially if their income comes from Michigan Football"
I will say with no reservations, in the game of football...a game of extreme competitiveness and very tough men, the best coaches are the ones that can clearly communicate with their players. If a coach has to drop the F-bomb or use some belittling gestures to get through, then that's what it takes. If you can't handle it (Boren), than take yourself down to Columbus where players are coddled and given new sports cars.

I'd rather have the tough coach who's players respect him, than the easy going Lloyd Carr's of the world who only raise their voice once in a blue moon (no disrespect to LC, you're the man!).

And by the way Michael Rosenberg, let's not start going after RR the man just yet. You can judge his legal battles and draw empty conclusions all day if you like, but let the man coach a game before you insult his methods. Stop trying to discredit the guy to make your point.

I'd love to know what reports today would have said about Schembechler in 1969 if he had to have dealt with the access that reporters get today. Half of the team quit or transferred. HALF!!!

In any comparison, Schembechler was worse! He was so tough on his players. But given that we do have the luxury of hind-sight...his methods worked. It's a formula that so many first year coaches have adopted over the years.

There's no doubt that Lloyd had gotten a little soft in recent years. You don't think that common knowledge around coaching circles? Rodriguez knew what he was getting into. He knew he had to rattle come cages. It's just that Boren's was rattled pretty hard, and he couldn't take it.
"Tell yourself what you want. I find it sad that the University of Michigan is paying a man millions of dollars a year to humiliate some of its students."
They pay the man millions to fill the football stadium 7 times a year, and keep the program clean. In high school, my coaches humiliated me, and it somehow made me a better football player and a better person. And they did it making millions less than RR, so does that make it right? Michael, its football!
"Rodriguez might win big at Michigan. But if he does, and he demands a big raise every year, or flirts with other employers, or ignores his contracts, or refuses to put the school’s interests ahead of his own, then Michigan fans should not be surprised. As we have seen in the last few months, this is who he is."
Yes, that's right, let's judge a man's entire career based on the toughest and most controversial 6 months of his life.

I will argue that Rodriguez is strikingly loyal. He's a WV boy, born a raised. He coach in WV for years, staying close to home. He's loyal to his family. When he arrived in Michigan, he brought every single one of his coaches with him.

I don't want to speculate, but I think RR had grown increasingly unhappy in Morgantown. From what it sounds like to me, the administration was very corrupt, and the athletic department started to get too political.

I don't blame him for wanting to get out. I'll admit it could've been done a little cleaner than it did, but in this world of high stakes, big business sports, I'm not surprised at the fallout.

Again, Rosenberg has a beef with Michigan and Bill Martin. Dissect Martin and Coleman and Michigan all you like...get in line. But let's keep the jury out on Rodriguez until a few games have been played. And Michael, grow a pair when you want to start talking tough about what it means to coach or play college football.

Wednesday Link-a-thon! Rich Rod to Pay 4M to WVU

It's Wednesday. That can only mean one thing...Link-A-Thon!

If you have an extra few grand laying around and would like some preferred seating at the Big House come 2010, here's your one-stop-shop. I'd go into further detail, but I don't plan on ever being "preferred" and I doubt many of my loyal readers will be also.

Just announced today, head coach Rich Rodriguez will dish out the full $4M to West Virginia as was stipulated in his most recent contract signed with the University last August. It is not yet clear whether or not this will clear his name in the eyes of WVU, but I would have to believe this is a big moral victory for the Mountaineers. It is also not clear whether or not Michigan will foot the hefty bill or not.

This blogger finds it funny that this news breaks just as the "preferred" seating program goes online. Coincidence?

More on this as details emerge.

The Kevin Grady story is hitting full stride as almost every blog has something to say. Johnny at RBUAS is no different. So far no details have been released as to the punishment. I could see it going either way...either Rodriguez goes public and makes an example of Grady with a very harsh punishment, or it gets swept under the rug and Grady spends some extra "quality time" with Barwis this summer.

Programming note: My projected defensive starters posts will be forthcoming shortly. I know you're on the edge on your seat!

Also, if you notice, MBNation is once again ad free. We were experimenting with Google Adwords for a few weeks to see its impact. Needless to say, until someone comes to my door with a large briefcase or dump truck full of money, we will remain ad free until then.

I don't pretend to be holier than thou and refuse to sell ad space on this site because of a moral issue...trust me, I'll take the money! I just got tired of looking at ads for Buckeye crap. For some reason Google thinks this is an tOSU blog?!

Michigan Pre-Season Projected Starters: Offense

We sit at less than 2 months, or about 7 weeks from the kickoff to the 2008 season. Mid-July, right about the time EA releases their latest installment of the much anticipated NCAA Football game, which probably doesn't suck...that most college football fans start to emerge from their caves and begin to think more and more about what matters most, the upcoming season.

Now if you're a Michigan fan, you might be a tad more skeptical this year due to the huge holes left by departing offensive players such as Henne, Hart, Long, Manningham and Arrington, and rightfully so. Who's going to step up? Who are these guys?

So today we'll give you a projected offensive lineup for at least the beginning of the 2008 season. I'll try to give you a two-deep depth chart at positions where a clear starter/back-up is notable.

OFFENSE

QB: Steven Threet/Nick Sherridan or Justin Feagin

RB:
Brandon Minor/Carlos Brown/Kevin Grady

WR:
Greg Matthews/Darryl Stonum

WR:
Toney Clemons/Jim Potempa

WR:
Junior Hemmingway/LaTerryal Savoy

TE:
Carson Butler/Mike Massey

C:
David Mooseman/David Molk

G:
Cory Zirbel/Mark Huyge

G:
Tim McAvoy

T:
Steve Shilling/Dann O'Neill

T:
Mark Ortmann


PK:
K.C. Lopata/Jason Gingell

K:
Bryan Wright/ K.C. Lopata

P:
Zoltan Mesko/Bryan Wright

It should also be noted that a host of true freshman could really make an impact this year. Among those are...

T: Dann O'Neill
T: Elliott Mealer
QB: Justin Feagin
RB: Sam McGuffie
WR: Darryl Stonum
WR: Roy Roundtree

It's early, I know. But the next 7 weeks will fly by, and when August 30th rolls around, you'll be glad you got this info early. No doubt there are many new faces on the offensive side of the ball this year. But you just might be surprised to see how well they compete. Sometimes not having clear-cut starters in every position allows the coaches to get the best out of each player competing...at least that's what I hope!

Tune in soon (hopefully tomorrow) for the first look at the projected defense.

Okay, these are the new Uniforms, I think.


From what I can tell, these are the new home and road unis for 2008. MATW has them posted with very little explanation...thus, I guess we can speculate all we like. But for the sake of argument, I'll just believe these are the real deal.

Click the pic for a larger version.

Adidas Home Unis...Official?


Well, Brian at mgoblog has a pic of the (official?) Adidas home unis (via Varsity Blue). There was a little rumor floating around, which you can read about at mgoblog, that there would be some big yellow block Ms on each sleeve. Rest assured, these seem to the real deal, and are in line with what we say from the Women's Football Academy pics in June. However, there is trim on the back collar with little blue "M"s on it. I don't see them being too distracting though.

And...the road uniforms that we posted up here a couple weeks ago seem to be a little off.
The away jerseys have a thin maize piping straight across the chest. There also have a small maize strip on the back of the collar that says Michigan in blue. [he would later clarify that the strip is the block M thing above -ed]
-via mgoblog
So there you go. We'll keep our eyes out for the road unis, and when they drop, we'll throw them up here.

If you have a strong desire to load up on the new Adidas gear, Moe Sport Shops has gotcha covered.

Well, that's probably it for me until next week...unless breaking news happens in the meantime. Have a great 4th! Watch out for those firecrackers!

Go Blue!

Grady

According to some of my Michigan blogging brethren, Kevin Grady, Junior running back, blew a .281 blood alcohol level when he was pulled over in the wee hours of Wednesday morning in Wyoming, MI.

Like many other Michigan fans, my first reaction was, "boys will be boys", but that's not quite how it goes this time. Kevin made the dire mistake of being the first player to publicly break the rules under the new Rodriguez administration. Now I'm not sure to the extent of which he will be penalized, but I have a sneaking suspicion that a game or more suspension will be in his future...and rightfully so.

Partial Big Ten TV Schedule

The Big Ten has released a partial (pretty much just a few early season games) TV schedule for the upcoming season. Games of note:

August 30th:
Utah at Michigan, ABC, 3:30PM

Sept. 6th
Miami (Oh) at Michigan, ESPN or ESPN2, 12:00PM

EMU at Michigan State, BTN, 12:00PM

Sept. 13th
Florida Atlantic at Michigan State, ESPN or ESPN2, 12:00PM

Michigan at Notre Dame, NBC, 3:30PM

Sept. 20th
CMU at Purdue, BTN, 12:00PM

Notre Dame at Michigan State, ABC, 3:30PM

All time are EDT.

Utah v Michigan on ABC in their 3:30 time slot??? Interesting. I guess the people are more interested in this Rich Rodriguez guy than I first thought.

Big Ten Bloggers Fearless Predictions

As promised, my (week late) installment of the Big Ten Bloggers Fearless Predictions.

Coach of the Year
I have to go with my gut on this one, I will say Penn State's own Joe Paterno. Folks may shutter at the idea that the old coot has one great season left in him, but this blogger feels that not only will it be a good year, but maybe one of his best ever...and maybe even his last.

Most Likely To Strike Heisman Pose
I hate the Heisman. I don't like what it means and I despise what it stands for. College football is a great sport. What makes it so great is the idea of the team (the team, the team, the team). I don't like to get into the habit of proclaiming individual greatness before I've witnessed it. Based on last season, I see no Heisman front-runners in the Big Ten.

Last Year's Illini Will Be This Year's....?
Michigan State.

Upset Game of The Year
Michigan State over Ohio State.

Name You'll Know In December That No One Knows In June
Justin Feagin

Most Likely to John McLaren (lose it in postgame rant, NOT lose his job)
As much as I would like to see Tressell unbutton his top button, he'll never let his stonewall defenses down for the media. I'll say Mark Dantonio. He's too new to lose his job, but he's just crazy enough to go ballistic after his 2nd loss to Big Brother.

Highest Draft Pick In 2009
Beanie Wells, but he won't go top 5.

Must See Game of The Year That Is Not Michigan-Ohio State
Ohio State v. Penn State. And for the non-conf, this year's "Game of the Millennium" Ohio State v USC.

Product Rodriguez

According to WVU President Mike Garrison, yes, that Mike Garrison...Rich Rodriguez was very distraught about his choice to leave WVU.

In a story by the Associated Press, Rodriguez was complaining to Garrison the night before his resignation about his blown chance at a national championship (the final game loss to Pitt), and backlash that had added to his motivation to bolt. Part of the AP story...
As part of the $4 million lawsuit the university has filed over a buyout clause in the coach's contract, Garrison testified the two had a tense final meeting Dec. 15 -- one in which the president admits he may have raised his voice and one in which Rodriguez allegedly put his head in his hands and complained about how difficult his choice was.

Garrison also denied in the June proceeding he had misled Rodriguez into signing the contract that was in effect when he quit, disputing assertions he told the coach he didn't believe in and wouldn't enforce buyouts.

Nor did he suggest that if a dispute arose, the parties would probably settle for $2 million, Garrison testified.

He acknowledged, however, he told Rodriguez he might change his position in future contracts, and that he "would like the university to look at other options besides liquidated damages provisions, if they fit the circumstances."

Garrison also revealed he had a testy exchange with sports agent Mike Brown in the summer, before he'd assumed the presidency, in which Brown vowed to "shop, as he put it, Product Rodriguez on the open market."

"Product Rodriguez"???

Also, later in that same story...

Garrison acknowledged he was surprised that Rodriguez had "engaged in meaningful, apparent negotiations" with Michigan the day before and that he had to learn of those talks through the media. He also said it's possible he raised his voice as the conversation became more heated.

"I don't know if I yelled or not, but there was, there was one point in the conversation where I did become aggravated, and it was the point in the conversation when I expressed my strong feelings -- which I maintain today -- that there is great value in coaching at your alma mater, at your home university and in your home state."

I'd like to think that its a simple case of "he said, he said", and that pretty much sounds like what it is. I have no beef with WVU being upset they lost their coach, he was a great coach for them...but there has to be a point where you decide to move on and take the loss. Coaching moves are nothing new in college football. And if WVU wants to become a powerhouse, you're not going to lure top coaching talent to your school by throwing a fit when one of your own decides to take another job.

I'll chalk this up to another WVU-Rodriguez story that really doesn't define anything. Rodriguez is not going to be paying any of the $4 million to West Virginia, and West Virginia is just going to keep crying foul. But I say Rodriguez is much better off out of that program and into a much better situation in Ann Arbor.