Charlie Weis has been Fired

We've been on vacation here at MBN, and had fully planned on doing a big post today about all the news that has transpired over the holiday weekend...but just haven't had the time. But once I read this, I knew it had to be posted.

[Note: We had embedded an ESPN video here regarding this news, but it has since been removed.]

So long Charlie.

mgoblog with a take on who will replace him. We personally think two potential coaches are obvious...Brian Kelly from Cincy and Jim Harbaugh from Stanford. Those are two of the hottest up-and-coming coaches in the game right now. Both styles could fit in at ND. Although, I have a hard time seeing Harbaugh in an Irish hat.

Bob Stoops? Eh. Maybe. Only if ND coughs up some serious cash.

It should be interesting. According to reports, ND players are voting whether to go to a bowl or not after a humdrum 6-6 season. Irish AD Jack Swarbrick said he would take into consideration the vote's outcome...which is code for "we're going to a damn bowl whether you like it or not".

Incoming: Cullen Christian

Stop the presses! A defensive back has committed to the Wolverines! This is a very nice boost to the defensive class of 2010.
 
Bio:
Cullen Christian hails from Pittsburgh, PA. He's a 6-0, 180lb. safety/corner combo type of player. Rivals and Scout both list him as a 4-star prospect, with Rivals listing him as the #6 DB available, and Scout listing him as the #4 DB. He can play both positions, but it seems widely accepted that he's more of a corner prospect. He boasts a 4.68 second 40-time.

Pertinent links:
[mgoblog]
[Scout]
[Rivals]

Other offers:
Boston College, UCLA, West Virginia, Maryland, Pittsburgh, Colorado, Cincinnati, Illinois...and THE Ohio State University.

What the experts say:  
Barry Every - 08/17/2009 - Rivals

On the Hoof: Christian is tall, slender corner with narrow shoulders, long arms and lean, muscular legs. There is not much difference in his build and that of DeMarcus Milliner.
Needs Improvement: Needs to improve his speed, which will help him to recover when beaten on a route. Christian will also need to add some muscle mass and strength, which will help him make solo tackles in the open field.
Most Impressive: He has hips on a swivel, excellent ball skills and the ability to steer receivers off their intended route by using his long arms as weapons. His long arms also allow him to reach around receivers and bat down balls that smaller corners couldn't even reach. Christian is very confident and does not let getting beat affect him on the next play.
Conclusion: Cornerback is such a tough position for a freshman to come in and have an impact right away. I can see him getting some looks in nickel and dime packages along with special teams responsibilities early in his career. Don't be surprised if he is pushing for all-conference honors by his second or third year.


Video:

UM Football Player Arrested for Sexual Assualt

Details are still sketchy, but it has been reported that the Ann Arbor police arrested a member of the football team for sexually assaulting a female student.

[Via annarbor.com]
The man was questioned and released as detectives continue to investigate the 2 a.m. incident in the 600 block of South State Street, Ann Arbor police Det. Dave Monroe said.

Police would not release the name of the player today.

Both the man and accuser are 18 years old, Monroe said.

Monroe said this afternoon that the man and woman know each other. He said the incident occurred during a party, but declined to release further details about the allegations.

So far, no charges have been filed. Monroe said detectives are interviewing others, and the case remains under investigation.
I do not know the name of the player arrested,  but he is 18 years old according to the article...so we know its a freshman. According to mgoblog, who was tipped off, this player did not see the field this year, but is widely expected to start next year. And it's NOT Justin Turner.

My Biggest Highlight From Saturday

Well, if there was one moment from Saturday that Michigan and tOSU fans can agree was amazing, it was the fly-over by two Air Force F-16 Vipers at the end of the national anthem.

This is the second time I've experienced a jet fly-over at the Big House. If you've never seen one live, you really should. There is no way I could explain how awesome it is. These jets were flying low and fast. And the noise...my God the noise. The stadium already had a nice buzz going because it was such a big game. This fly-over was like throwing a gallon of gasoline on a camp fire. The place was going crazy.

Sitting about halfway up in the north endzone, we had a perfect view of the jets coming right at us. I didn't have my camera cued, as I should have, but some other folks did...

Camera 1:


Camera 2:

Initial Reactions, Post-Game Video

I am still working on/coming up with something more definitive to say about yesterday's game against tOSU. But until then...initial reactions:

• Rich Rodriguez did not throw 4 interceptions or fumble the ball in endzone. Tate Forcier did. Anyone who thinks Rodriguez should be fired is wrong. We had a gameplan to win this game. Rodriguez/Magee had a plan to move the ball against tOSU's defense...and it worked. We just made too many mistakes.

• The defense looked outstanding (first time I've said that this year). If you would have told me last week that we'd only give up 14 points and 67 yards passing to tOSU I would have punched you right in the face. Great job by Greg Robinson and the defense for stepping up and giving our offense a chance to win the game.

• It was pretty depressing to see the amount of red in the stadium yesterday. I am ashamed of all of the Michigan season ticket holders who decided to sell their tickets to tOSU fans. It was almost if they tried to see how many tOSU people they could get into the game. If I'm a season ticket holder, I'd much rather GIVE my tickets to a couple Michigan fans than get a dime from a buckeye.

• Early in the 4th quarter, the O-H-I-O chant rang through the stadium as if we were sitting in Columbus. It was amazing. Easily the most embarrassing moment I have ever experienced as a Michigan fan (and lately, that's saying something). At the time it happened it really didn't hit me because I was so into the game. But it did hit me on the car ride home as we passed a million tOSU fans playing their fight song on their car radios in the Pioneer parking lot.

Like I said, a more comprehensive post will be forthcoming...I just need some time to recover from our 6th loss in a row to those snaggletooth rednecks. So in the meantime, here's some videos posted by Dave Birkett of AnnArbor.com from the post-game presser.





No More Words


Michigan Fans, You Must Hear This

Greg over at MVictors has posted a great audio clip of former UM assistant coach Jerry Hanlon reading a letter that he has written to the members of the 2009 Michigan football team. This is an annual tradition for Hanlon who pens a letter to the team and gives it to them each year on the eve of the Ohio State game. If you're a blue blooded Michigan fan like I am, you'll really enjoy this.

Ohio State Preview? None Needed.

I was about half way through a full-fledged preview for tomorrow's game when it hit me. After a good couple hours of going through the matchups and trying to discover an edge that Michigan could maybe somehow exploit to gain momentum and put tOSU on their heels, I had a moment of clarity. There might be a matchup or two in there that we might be able to do just that...but that's not going to be what wins this game for Michigan.

In reality, all it comes down to is playing completely inspired football and realizing that there really is nothing else to play for but pride.

tOSU is all about tough defense. They are big, physical and will try and stick our running backs 5 in the backfield and plant Tate in the ground. They will blitz. Like crazy. All we can do is block well, run hard, throw crisp and smart passes, and loosen up tOSU's defense by mixing up the play-calling.

If we can do that...we'll have a shot.

If not, it'll be over quick.

When you're the obvious underdog, you really MUST to do two things.
1) Don't turn the ball over.
2) No stupid penalties.

Those are just two ways in which Michigan has struggled to put teams away or stay close when overmatched. We can't beat a better team when we can't stop beating ourselves. We must at least give ourselves a chance to be successful.

I'll hold in my hopeful thoughts about tomorrow because it does me no good to talk about how much I think we still have a shot in this game. If I get too hyped up I might just drive myself crazy. As of this time yesterday I was planning on just sitting in a dark room in my house with the phones turned off and no internet access while I watched this game unfold. And I was perfectly happy with that plan.

But a friend at work was able to find two tickets into my possession so instead I'll be in section 37 with 110,000 of my Michigan brethren.

I wasn't going to try and get tickets to this game, but when two just happen to find me...who am I to argue with fate. God wants me to attend this game...if for no other reason to punish me for whatever sins I have committed in the past. Either way, I will be there along with my wife and we fully plan on losing our voices during the process.

I also won't get into any coaching talk right now. Win or lose, Rodriguez is not going anywhere. He has the full support of Mary Sue Coleman and Bill Martin...both of which aren't going anywhere for at least another off-season. They support Rich. So I support Rich. Win or lose, this is how it is.

But one guy who will get into that coaching argument is Mitch Albom who just happened to give a huge shot out to Maize & Blue Nation in his article in today's Detroit Free Press. He might have been referring to the actual Michigan fanbase...and not nessacarily this blog in particular, but we'll take it as a half-shoutout.
Of course, football coaches -- like parents of teenagers---- are often the last to know. Check the watercooler, the radio, the blogosphere, and you will hear that Rich Rod is all but gone, that Saturday's game, if lost, will be his last, that Jim Harbaugh is the new catnip.

Personally, I do not believe in using this space to get people fired. That's what bosses are for.

But I will say this to the Maize-and-Blue Nation. Be careful what you wish for.
He does say THE Maize-and-Blue Nation...using initial caps as well. Seems pretty obvious to me.

So does Michigan have a legit shot in this game? No way of knowing. But if they pull it off, it will be just as huge as 1969. Either way, the football Gods have sent me to this game for a reason. And I can't believe that it's just because they enjoy my misery. That's how I am looking at it.

Stefanie Spielman Dies After 10 Year Fight Against Cancer

Without getting too much into it, we here at MBN are saddened to hear about the death of Stefanie Spielman, 42, wife of former Ohio State linebacker and former Detroit Lion Chris Spielman. [Link to story]

Stefanie was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1998. Shortly after, Chris put his NFL career aside to be with his wife during her courageous fight. Together they not only raised awareness, but millions of dollars for cancer research.
“Through her remarkable grace and compassion for others, Stefanie Spielman taught all of us powerful lessons about the human capacity for love and courage,” said Ohio State President E. Gordon Gee. “She was an extraordinary person and one of the University's firmest of friends. We were deeply proud to be able to celebrate her accomplishments, and those of Chris and their wonderful family, during a ceremony at one of last month's football games. I was blessed to know Stefanie, to witness her good work, and to count her as a friend. We will miss her mightily.”
If you wish you send an online condolence, you can do so here.

If you wish to make a donation to the Stefanie Spielman Fund for Breast Cancer Research at the James Cancer Hospital at Ohio State, you can do so here.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Spielman family during this time.

2009 Captains Named

[Via MVictors]

From UM Media Relations [Link]:


Nov. 19, 2009

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- University of Michigan football head coach Rich Rodriguez announced Thursday (Nov. 19) following practice the four permanent captains elected for the 130th team in school history. Linebacker Stevie Brown (Columbus, Ind./Columbus East HS), defensive end Brandon Graham (Detroit, Mich./Crockett Technical HS), punter Zoltan Mesko (Twinsburg, Ohio/Twinsburg HS) and left tackle Mark Ortmann (Klein, Texas/Klein HS) were selected by their teammates as captains of the 2009 football team.

"Our players have selected four student-athletes who represent our program at the highest level both on and off the field," said Rodriguez. "Stevie, Brandon, Zoltan and Mark have played at a high level all season and received the greatest honor that a player can receive, selection as captain by your peers. They, and our other seniors, will lead us into Michigan Stadium Saturday to play the greatest rivalry game in college football."

Brown joins Graham as a defensive captain. He is the team's leading tackler with 73 stops and is second with eight tackles for loss, both career highs. Brown has also contributed one sack, one forced fumble, one interception and four pass breakups. He has started all 11 games at linebacker and will see action in his 50th career game when U-M faces Ohio State.

Graham is the most dominant defensive lineman in the Big Ten, racking up a league and NCAA-best 21 tackles for loss. He has 8.5 sacks on the year and has contributed at least one quarterback stop in six of the past seven games. Graham has recorded a career-best 57 tackles, two PBUs, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. He has also contributed on special teams, blocking two punts and returning another for his first career touchdown. An All-America candidate, Graham is second all-time at Michigan in sacks (27.5) and third in tackles for loss (51).

Mesko is one of the nation's top all-around student-athletes, excelling on the field, in the classroom and the community. He leads the Big Ten and is sixth nationally in punting with a career-best 44.7-yard average this season. A semifinalist for the Ray Guy Award for the second straight season, Mesko has punted 46 times for 2,054 yards. He had 16 fair caught, 15 boots of 50 yards or better and 13 downed inside the opposition's 20-yard line. Mesko is a finalist for the Lowes Senior CLASS Award, the Danny Wuerffel Trophy and has been named to the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team. He earned CoSIDA Academic All-District IV first team honors and is top candidate for Academic All-America honors.

Ortmann has started all 11 games at left tackle and helped anchor the Wolverines' offense that is rated atop in the Big Ten in scoring (31.3 points per game) and is second in rushing offense (195.8 avg.). He has started 24 contests and played in 35 games during his career.

The captains will lead the Wolverines against No. 9 Ohio State Saturday (Nov. 21) at Michigan Stadium. The 106th meeting will be televised nationally by ESPN on ABC at noon EST.

Michigan Injury Report for Ohio State - Minor Out

Via UM Media Relations:
Out

David Molk (knee)

Brandon Minor (shoulder)

Doubtful (25 percent chance of playing)

Mike Williams (ankle)

Probable (75 percent chance of playing)

Martavious Odoms (knee)

Minor...out?! WOW. Star running back in his last game in Michigan Stadium and he's listed as "out" on the injury report?

Now, granted these injury reports that surface each week from the athletic department are not always spot on...but "out" seems pretty definitive. That's a huge blow for Michigan. I suspected Minor to be in the game if he had a pulse...this is not good news for the Maize and Blue.

Carlos Brown, Kevin Grady, Vincent Smith, Michael Shaw...time to step up.

Good to see Odoms probable. On Inside Michigan Football today, Rodriguez said Odoms was still day to day, but is hopeful he'll be ready to go. That's a nice boost.

Other than that, all the other injuries are as suspected. This will be interesting.

Q&A With The Buckeye Battle Cry

So this week we have decided to throw caution to the wind and cross the southern border to do a little Q&A with tOSU blogger Jeff from THE Buckeye Battle Cry. He was gracious enough to provide some insight into the Buckeye's season and field my questions about this weekend's matchup.

Head on over to their site to see my drunken retorts to their carefully thought-out probing questions. Yes...I just said "probing". I've been probed.

Enjoy!

MBN: 1) To the casual observer, this game seems like a mere formality...but most of us know that anything can happen. How does Ohio State win this game? How do they lose?

tBBC: A lot of Ohio State fans think it's a mere formality. Those are the fans who don't understand the rivalry. They're also the same fans who wanted Jim Tressel fired and Terrelle Pryor benched. They're idiots. Joe Bauserman and Jim Bollman will not lead this team to glory, despite some of our "fans" declaring disaster for the first 9 weeks (before going strangely silent after PSU and Iowa).

This game is NOT a formality. It requires more focus and intensity than anything we've faced all season. USC at 8pm on national TV? Worthless. Penn State in Happy Valley? Not a chance. Iowa for the Big Ten title? Meh. This is Michigan, in the freaking Big House. Formality? Never.

Ohio State wins this game with ball control. Tresselball, as we call it. We do not need to break the big play to win (but it would be exciting for us). 8-12 play drives that eat up yardage and time of possession will do nicely. Your offense can move the ball well when they're clicking, but taking them out of rhythm has proven effective against Forcier. He'll slash down the field on the opening drive (like he always seems to do), and if we respond to that drive with a long one for a score, it'll chill off his hot hand. Forcier's got a talented future, but he still doesn't know how to recapture momentum.

Our defense can get the stops, and we'll bend a few times during the game. It's up to Pryor and the offense to keep your D on the field as long as possible, because we are confident that they'll break often.

How do we lose? Overconfidence (I'm allowed to have it, my players cannot). If we lose focus, or get drawn into a pissing match, we'll lose. If we go down on the scoreboard early, we cannot panic.

In other words, stay inside our own heads. We'll win if we get out of our mindset.

BUT - we can also lose simply because it's The Game. No team is truly safe in this rivalry, ever. See 1969, see 1987, see 2004.

MBN: 2) What has been the biggest surprise for Ohio State this season?

tBBC: The all-around depth in the backfield. This team is used to one solid RB leading the team and gaining 1,000 yards by themselves, and we lost that with the early NFL withdrawal of Beanie Wells, and we were not sure what that would mean for our rushing attack.

We expected to see Daniel "Boom" Herron and Terrelle Pryor run the ball relatively well, and we hoped that Brandon Saine would return to form after a subpar and injury-filled season last year. But beyond that, we had no idea what we'd find. Freshman Jordan Hall (a high school teammate of Pryor) has seen a bit of action (48 carries) and made the most of them (248 yards), and freshman Jermil Martin bulldozed his way into the hearts of a lot of Buckeye fans.

Of our top five ball carriers for the year, only Herron is averaging under 5 yards per carry. The five combined have logged a total of over 2,000 yards...and they will all return next season. To make your readers cringe even more, only Saine is older than a sophomore, so these are the names that you'll be seeing over and over again, carrying the ball as late as January of 2012 wearing scarlet and gray.

MBN: 3) Biggest disappointment?

tBBC: I personally feel we have the best Head Coach possible, considering who we are and what our history is. Jim Tressel is the coach that has and will continue to lead us to greatness. But for some reason, he's been apprehensive to use Terrelle Pryor to his full potential. Now I know the kid's just a sophomore and the odds are increasing looking like we'll get him for two more full seasons instead of just the one we originally planned....but the time came a long while ago that we start using Pryor's legs as a weapon. Designed roll-outs and quarterback draws have worked for big big yardage in the past, but there seems to be very few times that the play has been sent in.

This is what killed us against USC, and it nearly cost us the game against Iowa last week.

Pryor's only got 22 carries in the last three games combined. For a quarterback who runs that fast and strides so well, that's inexcusable.

MBN: 4) Ohio State has looked dominant in wins against sub-par teams this year. But they've also struggled in a few games. Now that they've secured their Rose Bowl berth, which team do you suspect to show up in Ann Arbor this weekend?

tBBC: You already know the answer to that question. No season is complete until the Great Yellow Satan has been destroyed.

Two main reasons for a ferocious showing from the Buckeyes on Saturday;

- We don't want another "shared" Big Ten Championship. A win gives us an outright title, our third in the last four years.
- It's "The Game", man. Nothing else matters. John Cooper didn't get it, and we don't think that RichRod gets it. Both of them were quoted as calling it "just another game". Woody rolled over in his grave when Cooper said it, and I'm sure Bo did the same when RichRod said it.

MBN: 5) What unit matchup do you think Ohio State will win, which will they lose?

tBBC: Your readers are going to hate me for this, but I think we're going to win the special teams matchup. Zoltan Mesko is the best punter in the Big Ten with that booming leg. But when Ray Small gets a spot of room in front of him, he's VERY dangerous. Ask Penn State. Hell, ask Mesko from 2008. If Mesko can get HIGH kicks and not deep kicks, Small is forced to fair-catch it, and he's had slippery fingers in those situations. Otherwise, he's a bullet waiting to be shot.

Also, I expect to see our rushing attack dominate the LB corps, especially when we run away from Brandon Graham. Graham looks like he's going to be on a mission to smack Justin Boren, so I wouldn't be surprised if we threw a misdirection to decoy Graham away from the ball carrier a few times.

If Ohio State goes to a zone-read defense (which they will, often), I expect to see us lose the matchup between our DBs and your WRs. If you use a lot of slot receivers (which you will, often), they'll find PLENTY of space on quick-hitters off the line, and you'll find success in whoever Anderson Russell is lined up against.

MBN: 6) The Big Ten has been in a slump these past few years in terms of national respect...all the while Ohio State has shinned against the rest of the league racking up Big Ten titles. Aside from 2006, do Ohio State fans feel their success is largely been uncontested?

tBBC: Not really, no. We expect to win the Big Ten every year because that's what good teams should expect. "Uncontested" is what Boise State sees in the weak WAC. We've got battles week in and week out.

- Penn State has been battling us throughout our 5-year Big Ten title run, winning twice
- We've only faced Michigan once during your "down phase"
- Purdue, for some reason, always gives us grief
- Iowa returned to AP Poll glory after a two-year absence (ironically, we didn't play Iowa during their two-year slump)

And as for the other six teams in the league...well, let's just say that when you're on top, you are going to get the best game possible out of your opponent, no matter who they are. You guys know that, that's the downside to being an elite team. Everybody can claim their season is a success when they beat you.

So no, I don't think we've been uncontested. Just the opposite, actually.

Rodriguez Wednesday Presser

Video of today's meeting with the press at Schembechler Hall:



And while we're at it, video of Monday's presser with Rodriguez and Brandon Graham talking about the Michigan-tOSU rivalry courtesy of Dave Birkett at AnnArbor.com.



Practice Log-Gate Update - With Video!

Alas, the practice logs have been found!

Link: [mgoblog][Detroit News]

Upon hearing the news that the UM internal audit had found that the football program hadn't turned in their practice logs from the entire 2008 season and off-season, Rich Rodriguez took it upon himself to make things right by "correcting" the issue. Where these logs were, why they were not turned in, or what the circumstances were is a total mystery to me.

Rodriguez got into as much of it as he could in an interview on a Columbus radio talk show.
"The only thing, because the investigation is still under process, the NCAA won't let us comment about it other than the fact that the practice-log process, that thing was corrected as soon as I learned of the issue," Rodriguez told hosts Bruce Hooley and Chris Spielman. "As soon as this whole thing is over, I'll be happy to discuss all the other details."

Rodriguez wasn’t asked and did not specify when he corrected the problem.



I am going to treat you all the same. Like Dogs.

November 17, 2006

The Sweater Vest Said What?!

Sports Illustrated writer Stewart Mandel writes (via Spawn):
Shortly after Saturday's Rose Bowl-clinching win, Jim Tressel told his team: "You can have three hours and savor this, but when the clock strikes 12:00, we know what week it is." Then: "I'm just playing with you guys. They have no defense. ... Take a couple of days off."
This seems way out of character for The Vest...but there it is. And while I question the voracity of this quote, I can't seem to find anything that is telling me this is either real or fake. I'm about 99.99% sure it's fake...but it's on SI.com...with no footnote or disclaimer saying its not genuine.

Your guess is as good as mine. But if it's true (or fake for that matter)...this is all the bulletin board material we'll ever need to step up this weekend. Whether Tressell or Mandel said it doesn't matter that much. The truth hurts either way.

And The Hits Just Keep On Comin'

Apparently, Michigan didn't keep workout logs or records of any kind that would be able to track the exact amount of time it's football players spent doing team activities that would count as "countable" hours for the 2008 season...Rodriguez's first at Michigan.

Now it should be noted(!) that this finding is the result of an internal audit...and not the NCAA's investigation. This report is from an audit done solely by the university for its own purposes. This report was finished approximately two months before the Free Press story alleging Rodriguez and company had broken NCAA rules governing allotted time for team activities.

Michigan AD Bill Martin's comments to the AP today:
"I don't know what the NCAA is going to find...I do know this is not academic fraud or gambling.

"I'm not involved with the investigation. It's being handled by our general counsel. We're the ones who picked up the phone to call the NCAA about this."

According to ESPN's Adam Rittenberg, this was found out months ago, but is just now being reported because it will be a topic of discussion this Thursday at a UM board of regents meeting.

The audit's main area of concern is the lack of paperwork turned in from the football program for the 2008 season. As of the report dated July 24, 2009, no official paperwork had been turned in to the university. The football program was the only varsity program at Michigan that did not complete and turn in the monthly CARA (Countable Athletically Related Activities) forms.

The audit did not find any issues of "non-compliance", but at the time of the audit, no forms were available for review. According to the university, all forms for the current season have been turned in on time.

So, either Michigan didn't keep records at all...or kept really bad records and didn't have anything worth turning in, or kept really awesome records that they just forgot to turn in at the end of each month. We really don't know. All I do know is, this is yet another distraction and setback that this team so desperately needs to avoid right now.

Hate Week Schedule

Well, as of right now, it's a little bit up in the air. It just so happens that my real life has been rather busier than usual lately, so it's been tough to devote the time to my dear blog...but I will make all the effort I can to post as much original content as I can this week.

Starting us off will likely be a look at some of the matchups for the game. Ways we can win...ways we'll likely lose...that kinda stuff. We'll also have a Q&A with a tOSU blogger coming up in a couple days. And we'll be sprinkling in as much fanfare stuff as we can...YouTube videos, harassing pictures of redneck tOSU fans crying...you know, standard fare. And of course we'll try and have as comprehensive as a preview as we've had all season up by week's end.

I won't get too much into the season's struggles up to this point...we'll have plenty of time to dive into that once the season ends. As far as I'm concerned...this is our bowl game...so we're going to treat it as such. Stop by often for updates this week as we head towards either a heroic victory...or another in a long line of crushing defeats.

Go Blue!

I Believe

Disclaimer: Another tough loss this week...but at least this time it was to a ranked opponent whom I had fully expected to lose to well before this season began. And I'd love nothing more than to dive head-first into a long and drawn out post totally scrutinizing every aspect of this game, but I just really don't care that much right now.

At approximately 3PM eastern, it began...

It's Ohio State week.

This is the week I live for. This is the week when we started this blog for. There simply is no better time to be a Michigan fan.

Sure, I'll be the first to admit that it has not been easy to watch this team these last few weeks. Our defense is just bad...for the most part (sorry Brandon Graham, you still rock). But even with all of the struggles this team has had this year...for reasons passing understanding...I believe. There is absolutely no honest reason for me to feel this way. But at this point, as a Michigan blogger, I have two options.

1) Sulk.

2) Believe.

I choose the latter.

I believe in these young players. I believe that you reach a point when you're just sick and tired of being pushed around and listening to everyone tell you how much you suck. I believe that as a coach, you just have to lay it all on the line and dig deep.

Michigan may lose badly to tOSU, and I'm prepared to have to handle that if it happens (I'm used to it)...but for the next 6 days...this blogger will believe.

It starts right now.

tOSU can have all the Big Ten championships and Rose Bowls they want, they deserve them. But for 60 minutes next Saturday, they're going to have to enter the OUR Big House and find out how we feel about their title. It's our chance to prove to a national TV audience that Michigan will not just stand idle while the victory parade marches through Ann Arbor.

We as fans owe it to this team...to these few seniors we have left. They deserve a signature win to go out on...and this is their shot.

I believe.

Forcier In Trouble?

Rumor mill is swirling with news that Tate Forcier got himself into a little bit of trouble yesterday. According to his Facebook page last night, he said that he had a "bad day". And as Brian from mgoblog has pointed out, in the comments from that thread (which has since been deleted), Tate said that he will probably not be starting this weekend.

I really have no clue what, if any, team rules Tate broke or exactly what led to him having such a "bad day" yesterday, but I have a hunch that we'll all be finding out very shortly. My sources are telling me it might have had something to do with him mouthing off at the coaches, but I could be wrong. News of this will be forthcoming. When we hear, we'll update you.

Sometimes You Just Have to Bang the Drum

Literally.

Not only do I have a certain affinity for drumming, or I used to anyway...but when your add in the fact that this kid is not only a drumline section leader for the tenors as a member of the Michigan Marching Band, but a damn fine rock drummer to boot, it makes me so very happy to know he's on our side.

If only I had a similar way to blow off some steam after 3 hours of watching Michigan chase their tail around on Saturday afternoon.

WARNING!...may induce face melting.


My only question for this kid is, "Can you play football?"

You Must Lose a Fly to Catch a Trout

The title of this post is a quote from George Herbert (1593-1633)

A lot of goings on these days with the Michigan program. I can safely say that this sudden turn of events these last two weeks (losing to Illinois and Purdue in basically must-win situations), has really taken any wind that was left out of Michigan fan's sails. The question that I want the answer to is, did it take the wind out of the team's sails? We'll find out in the next two weeks.

The losses this year have all sucked. But they're over. Done. We must move forward. And as much as it would be nice to beat Wisconsin and make it to a bowl game, for me the real payday would be knocking off the Buckeyes. I think any blue-blooded Michigan fan can agree with me on that one.

In only his 2nd year, Rich Rodriguez has endured as much heat as any coach ever at Michigan. And it's not that it's not completely unwarranted. Michigan has lost 14 games in less than 2 seasons. I've said my piece about why this is happening, and I've also said my piece about what we as fans need to do to get behind this team and support them. I'm willing to side with the fans left out there who still believe in Michigan and these coaches. I'm willing to give Rodriguez time to get things right, because I know that when he does, I want to be one of those fans who can say I never lost faith.

My faith has been questioned, believe me...but never lost. And it never will.

A friend of mine posted this quote to his Facebook page the other day. And I think it fits the current situation quite nicely...
"When your team is winning, be ready to be tough, because winning can make you soft; on the other hand, when your team is losing, stick by them. Keep believing"
- Bo Schembechler
That's what we're going to do here at MBN...keep believing. I look around the so-called "Michigan Man" fan base and all I keep seeing are people willing to give up on this coaching staff and throw in the towel for our last two games of the year. Those are not Michigan Men. Those are weak-minded, ignorant cowards who aren't willing to man-up when the chips are down.

So what that Purdue won for the first time in the Big House since 1966? Did you honestly think they'd never win there again? So what that Penn State broke their 9-game losing streak to Michigan? So what Michigan didn't go to a bowl last year for the first time since 1968? Streaks are made to be broken. Sure, it sucks to have to endure it...but too bad.

Does that really mean that you're not going to support this team or it's coaches anymore? If you're the kind of fan that won't support a team when they're struggling, then you're not really a fan, are you? It's easy to like a team that wins all the time.

It pisses me off to no end the sense of entitlement that some Michigan fans have. Just because we're Michigan, doesn't mean wins and success are just bought and paid for with echoes of historic success. In this modern age of college football, you have to earn everything you get. We haven't earned much these last two years. And the reason we haven't is Rich Rodriguez came in here and shook things up to get rid of all the dead weight that was the plague of this program over the last 10 years.

We had gotten stale. Just like Bo's quote from above..."When your team is winning, be ready to be tough, because winning can make you soft...". Never has such a quote been so true. Since the beginning of this decade, we've had some great wins at Michigan, but we've also struggled to make it back to the promised land. And time and time again, we've either lost big games to teams like Ohio State or a powerful non-conference opponent like USC, Oregon, Tennessee...or we've stubbed our toe against teams like Appy State or a lowly Big Ten doormat.

Either way...the main similarity in almost any loss over the last 10 years is simple: Lack of effort.

Rich Rodriguez is trying to end that mentality by completely changing the culture at Michigan. Gone are the days of "Hey, we're Michigan...we'll just show up and they'll be intimidated by our cool helmets." The parity of college football now so large that almost any team can beat anybody any week.

Amid all the losses and difficulty, I'm secure in my belief that Rich Rodriguez is the man for the job at Michigan. I saw it in his eyes last week in the press conference after the Purdue game. I heard it in his voice. We have all the pieces in place for great things to happen here. But what almost no one wants to hear is how difficult and how long the process is going to take for it to happen. But it will. Give it time.

When our freshman and sophomores start turning into juniors and seniors...success will follow. For me, it's the struggles of these last two years that will make all the achievements down the road that much more meaningful.

I've said my piece. I got it off my chest. It's time to move forward. And that means we have a game to play in 4 days in Madison. And this team needs it's fans back.

Who's with me?

Michigan Football TV Times

The times for the final two Michigan games have been set.

• November 14th @ Wisconsin: 12:00PM on the Big Ten Network
• November 21st vs. tOSU: 12:00PM on ABC-National

All times eastern. Watch if you dare. That is all.

Looking Back at Week 10 - Purdue

Another week, another tough loss for the Wolverines. This is getting to be like a broken record around here.

For one half of the game, Michigan looked calm, poised and confident. They racked up 24 points on a decent Purdue team. The defense, after letting Purdue on the board early, stiffened up and played relatively well given all their deficiencies.

But again, just like last week at Illinois, a huge momentum shift in the 3rd quarter let a lesser opponent back into the game, and Michigan was stunned just long enough for Purdue to capitalize.

If you want to boil this loss down to a single play, I can do that. It was our missed extra point in the 3rd quarter to make the score 30-17. From then on, if the game was going to be close, we'd have to go for two eventually...and we did...and we didn't get it. Simple as that. If we make that extra point, it changes everything.

What I Liked:
For the first half, like last week, we looked like a team that had come to play.

Tate Forcier looked much more calm and loose on the field. His stats showed that he was much more relaxed for this game than he was in the last 4. He passed 15 for 24 for 212 yards and a TD. He also ran 18 times for 70 yards and another TD. All in all, that's the kind of day we love to see from a true freshman. No major mistakes...just a solid performance under pressure.

Running the ball was obviously the emphasis in this game for the Michigan offense. And it showed with Minor's 19 carries for 160 yards and 3 touchdowns. Carlos Brown added 2 carries for 13 yards and Vincent Smith's 3 runs for 12 yards. All in all, 44 runs total and just 24 passes.

But of those 15 completions, 10 of them were by Roy Roundtree. He had 126 yards receiving with a 43 yard touchdown grab.

Both Minor and Roundtree accumulated over 100 yards rushing and receiving respectively before halftime.

And speaking of yardage, Darryl Stonum broke both of Steve Breaston's 2004 and 2005 kickoff return yardage records on Saturday with 5 returns of 158 yards total. You could argue that he broke those records on volume of kickoff returns alone, but Breaston had 28 returns in 2004 for 689 yards (his highest returns and yardage marks). This year Stonum has 30 returns for 803 yards...so not too bad.

For the most part, the offensive line blocked well enough for Minor to be able to get into the second level with little to no difficulty. The running lanes seemed to be there more often than not. But pass blocking wasn't all that great as Forcier was rushed out of the pocket pretty consistently. That can be attributed to a relatively good pass rush by Purdue.

I really liked that we limited the turnovers. We actually won the turnover battle with our two interceptions. We did had two fumbles, but the only one we lost was on Tate's unfortunate pitch to the Purdue defender's hand when he knocked the ball away and recovered it to give Purdue some great field position.

And...we had zero penalties in this game. I'll have to check my records, but I think that may be the first time all season I've been able to say that.

What I Didn't Like:
Easy. The defense.

36 points really ought to be enough beat a team like Purdue. Of course, 42 points weren't enough to beat them last year...so maybe Purdue just has our number somehow.

I'd like to think that Greg Robinson's schemes are not to blame in this game. I'd like to think it was just any one of totally unqualified defenders just playing way out of position, or just making awful reads.

You know it's bad when your top 3 tacklers from the game are all from the secondary (that's if you include Stevie Brown at the LB/S hybrid position). That's never good. But when your secondary is not very good, that's even worse. They got torched many times in this game, just like they did against Illinois.

I don't think it's the corners either. We were forced to play loose with Warren and Woolfolk because GRob knows those guys don't have much help from our safeties Williams and Kovacs. I'll hand it to Kovacs that he's a great story...and a not a half-bad player. Son of a walk-on who walks on to the same program his Dad did and works his way onto the field as a starter...that's a great story. But it's a bad story when its at Michigan. We should have scholarship players who are way better than him. But the honest truth is, we just don't.

The biggest deficiencies we have on defense are the areas where we have young untested guys playing ahead of more experienced alternatives...and that is at LB and safety. We're getting beat by plays up the middle...both short passes and runs that go for triple the amount of yards they should be getting due to our bad tackling and terrible reads.

And as far as the lateral that was overturned late in the game, I really can't say either way how I feel about it. When it happened, I was up in the pressbox, so from my angle it seemed legit...close, but legit. During the lengthy review, I was able to make my way down to the field. So I never saw a video replay, and I haven't watched the recording still sitting on my DVR at home. MVictors did a nice write-up of an interview someone got with the head official Todd Geerlings about the call:

What was the interpretation on the fourth down review with the forward lateral? What was it that the replay official saw?

TODD GEERLINGS: “The replay official saw that the ball, when it left his hand to the point where it touched the receiver’s hand, was clearly forward from the 13 to the 12 yard line. That’s why we had an illegal forward pass from the spot of that pass.”

Who called for the review?

GEERLINGS: “The booth called for the review and I announced that on the field prior to. The coaches on the field were trying to but Purdue did not have a challenge left so they couldn’t have. They were trying to but just as I got the buzz on the pager, I just turned to Purdue and said ‘We got it’ but I think people thought they had challenged it. They were trying to, but they did not.”

Safe to say they at least got a decent look at it...it took them forever, and they must have had enough angles as to be able to overturn the call on the field. That call was a blow, but not the reason we lost the game.

Overall:
There are two ways to look back at this game.

1) We played harder and looked much better on offense. Our defensive struggles continue, but those problems will take more time to fix. In the short term, this week...while still a tough loss, was still nice to see the team not give up like we did against Illinois. I think we still have a shot at a bowl if we can make some improvements and move forward.

or...

2) Another week another loss. This time to another crappy team. Even though it was close, I don't care, a loss is a loss. You can take your moral victories and shove it...I need real wins. Wake me up in 2010. I'm done.

For reasons passing understanding, I'm actually closer to camp 1.

I don't know what the secret is going to be to get this defense up to snuff to play Wisconsin and tOSU. I don't think there's a magical solution to our woes. This defense reminds me a lot of our offense from last year. Just young/inexperienced and making stupid mistakes. We're having a tough time just doing the little things right.

But if the offense can continue to improve and we are still as healthy as we were for Purdue, than I still think we have a fighting chance to make a bowl game. But Wisconsin and tOSU are going to be very tough games. Luckily, the Wisconsin game is at 11AM local time, and not at night. Madison is a very tough place to play. And Michigan hasn't fared well there recently.

I won't get started with the tOSU game. No reason to yet. Right now, Wisconsin our best shot at making a bowl. And making a bowl game is vital to this team's future. Having time to prepare for a bowl game gives you something 18 practices...that's just as good as a spring camp. And for how young we are, the more practices the better.

The Hope/Rodriguez Fallout

There has been quite a bit of buzz around the internet since the shameful way Danny Hope went about voicing his contention with Rich Rodriguez after his Boilermakers won their first game at Michigan since 1966.

According to what I've read, #75 Zach Reckman was suspended for punching a player who was on the ground from Northern Illinois at the end of the game.

Video clip:


As far as I can tell, I don't see Rich Rodriguez anywhere on the field. In no way should Rodriguez be blamed for Reckman being suspended. And, even if it was a comment that Rodriguez said that may have led to the Big Ten taking swifter (word?) action, what does it matter? Reckman punched a kid on the ground and it was obviously blatant.

The story goes, Jonas Mouton was suspended for one game after he punched a Notre Dame player. Now, this was a judgment that was handed down by the Big Ten. Upon hearing the news and obviously upset about the whole situation, Rodriguez said this...
"As a coach you say, 'OK, the precedent will be set,' and that's why I saw we’ll look at every act," Rodriguez said in late September. "And, in fact, it's funny you say that, I saw a Big Ten game, in the locker room as we were leaving, highlights, and it was the end of the game and a guy jumped on someone on the last play of the game and did a little of this right here. Now is that a non-football act? It probably is, so that may be turned in and see what happens." 
That week, Reckman was suspended. Would he have been suspended if Rodriguez didn't say anything? Probably. I'm just guessing the Big Ten keeps tabs on stuff like this.

So where does Danny Hope get off blaming a fellow Big Ten coach for the stupidity of his own player? Especially when that fellow Big Ten coach wasn't even at that game or had anything to do with it?

I'm sorry, but Danny Hope really needs to take a step back and realize his own player is to blame for his own actions. And if those actions take place on the football field, then the coach also shares some of that responsibility.

Taking your own player and having him follow you over to rub his suspension in the face of the coach you just beat...who had nothing to do with how dumb of a move it was to punch another team's player...is just simply shameful. It says a lot to me about the kind of guy Hope is, and the kind of players he is leading at Purdue.

Now, there are those out there who feel that Rodriguez looked like "a little lady" during his presser after the Purdue loss when he brought up the post-game incident with Hope/Reckman at midfield...saying that it was not the time to bring up such a minor thing like this. But I have to say to them is, when is the right time?

I was in the room. Rodriguez was pissed. He was pissed that he lost. He was pissed that it was his 5th straight Big Ten loss. He was pissed that his defense has turned into Swiss cheese. He was pissed that he's struggling in his 2nd season. And he was pissed that during a time when a coach is supposed to just shake your hand and say "good luck next week", Hope decided he would rub some salt in Rich's open wound.

If anything, I'd say it was Hope who decided to bring up this whole debate at the wrong time and the wrong place. The midfield handshake is not a place to grind your ax. You shake hands and walk away. But he couldn't resist. And he did it in a very classless way by bringing his own player to help pour it on. If Danny Hope has a legitimate gripe about Rodriguez, then why didn't he it up when it happened...or maybe at last weeks presser...or the post game presser?

Oh I know why...because he's a classless coach who wanted to make a stronger statement by being a jackass about it. This is a step in the wrong direction for the Purdue program. Beating Michigan was a huge victory for the Boilermakers, one in which the Purdue players and fans should be proud of...but Hope's actions have taken away from his team's achievements by making his personal gripe the leading story from the game.

Quick Thoughts on the Purdue Game

Just a few quick thoughts on today's loss to Purdue. We'll have much more to say in a complete game wrap-up coming maybe tomorrow or more likely on Monday, but these are my overall impressions from watching the game from the pressbox.

Clearly this is a very tough loss for Michigan. As usual, plenty of blame to spread around. But I think this loss can be chalked up to just not making enough plays on defense. Our linebackers and secondary especially were just Swiss cheese today. Mouton made some very bad reads, and Jordan Kovacs and Kevin Leach were consistently playing out of position. I don't question the formations, just the execution. Call us small, call us young...those are all reasons for our struggles on defense. Today was no different.

However, the offense looked much improved and played inspired football today. Brandon Minor ran like he did against Notre Dame. He was quick, got through to the second level almost at will...and showed his speed and toughness with a couple beautiful touchdown runs in the 1st half.

Tate also looked much improved. His stats were much better than in the previous 4 games. He looked much more confident and poised. His decision to pitch the ball to Minor with the Purdue player in the way was really his only really bad decision all day.

Let's face it, 36 points ought to be enough to beat a team like Purdue. But just like last year, it turned into a shootout. I think the only thing you can take away from this game that is good is the offense played well above their inexperience. They looked loose in the first half, and made as many plays as they could in the 2nd half to make it a close game.

But the 3rd quarter shift in momentum really punched this Michigan team in the gut...just like the Illinois game. And that's really when things went south. I think we'll get better over time dealing with teams making a 2nd half charge against us...but with youth comes the ability to get shaken when things start going against you.

In the post game presser, the media was a little surprised to hear about Purdue head coach Danny Hope's comments to Rich Rodriguez after the game. Apparently, Hope met Rodriguez at midfield to shake hands, but instead introduced Rodriguez to #75 LG Zack Reckman.

Rodriguez said this was because Reckman was suspended a week after Jonas Mouton was suspended. I don't really know what the two suspensions have in common, but I do know it wasn't because of anything Rodriguez did. But, apparently Hope wanted to rub Rodriguez's face in it. After watching the broadcast replay of the end of the game, this was definitely a coordinated effort by Hope and Reckman to seek out Rodriguez and have him meet Reckman.

Very low class on the part of Hope.

At the post-game presser, Rodriguez was visibly very upset and confused about the whole situation.

This just takes Joe Tiller's "snake oil" comment and adds a ton of fuel to it.

Much more on that, and the complete game wrap-up to come.

Also, thanks to Greg @ MVictors for the links above. I had the pleasure of sitting next to Greg at today's game. For the complete audio from Rodriguez at the post-game presser, head on over to check it out.

A Black Eye for Women's Collegiate Soccer

This is a landmark occasion. Never before, and probably never again will we have a women's college soccer highlight shown in the pages of Maize & Blue Nation. That is of course unless its the Michigan women's soccer team that makes us take notice.

But this is not really a highlight, more of a lowlight...very low.

In the game between BYU and New Mexico in the Mountain West conference semifinal, things got a little dirty when a New Mexico Lobo, #15 Elizabeth Lambert decided to take matters into her own hands when her team fell behind by one goal. I don't know what she was thinking when she was tormenting the BYU players, but I have a feeling that at the time, neither did she.

I'll just let the Sportscenter crew take it from here...

Source: FanIQ.com

Odoms Out - Minor In, Other Injury News

Here's the official injury report released by the university for the Purdue game.

OUT
  • C David Molk, knee (out for season)
  • WR Martavious Odoms, knee
QUESTIONABLE (50 percent chance of playing)
  • DT Greg Banks, foot
PROBABLE (75 percent chance of playing)
  • Zac Johnson, shoulder
Not sure how much weight I put on these official releases, as they seem to be wildly off sometimes. Obviously, we knew about Molk. Odoms we'd heard he had been practicing, but we didn't know how much. I thought he'd probably be at least 50/50 as he made the trip to Champaign last week, but did not play.

Greg Banks is making his first debut on the injury report. Obviously losing a defensive tackle is not good with how thin we are up front. So hopefully he'll be a go.

One glaring omission from the list is Brandon Minor. Coaches have talked all season about how hobbled he is with a lingering ankle sprain. So either he's 100%, or the coaches just didn't feel like adding him to the "probable" list.

Also not on the list is Tate Forcier. Not as big of a surprise as Minor, as we've been hearing for a while now that his shoulder is improving steadily.

Ugly Uniforms...They're Whats HOT!!!

Behold!
The uniforms the little girls from Columbus will be wearing for their trip to the Big House in two weeks. Most Michigan folks will agree that these are pretty ugly...but I'll give them props on the helmet, it sure beats the sparkly silver helmet adorned with pot leaf stickers.



These are the throwback uniforms tOSU wore during their national championship season of 1954. This is to celebrate the 55th anniversary of that team. But I'm wondering what's going on with the design on the shoulder and the crest on the v-neck? And where's the huge Nike swoosh???

Looks very similar to Florida State's alternate uniform (via mgoblog). Next thing you know, all Nike uniforms will look like this:



But as it turns out, Michigan will also be wearing their throwback jerseys for The Game on November 21st. Our's look like this:


Source: ESPN.com

The only thing that we could do to make this a true "throwback" would be to hike up the white socks. I'm all in favor of that move if we wanted to make the tOSU game a true throwback event. But, I'm fine either way. All I can say right now is, thank goodness for Adidas.

Minor Healthy? tOSU to Wear Old Unis at Michigan

• According to reports, Brandon Minor is about as healthy as he's been all season. We've been told for the last two weeks now that Minor's high ankle sprain is getting better and that he should be close to 100%. But last week, he came in for one play and fumbled the ball after getting stuffed at the goal-line by the mighty Illinois defense.

• That special school from Columbus is going to be a little more special in 3 weeks when they come up to the Big House. Apparently, Nike has developed some super awesome uniform that are said to be "cutting edge". The official statement from tOSU AD Gene Smith:
"During spring, 2009, Ohio State was invited by Nike to participate in its Rivalry uniform program with several other universities from around the nation. They offered us a chance to try a new uniform product featuring cutting-edge fabrics and technology; participation in the program also offered us a one-time opportunity to salute one of those great championship teams that have built the Ohio State football tradition"
The unis will honor the 1954 national championship team. What exactly that means, or how they will look is still not clear. My bet is that their silver sparkling helmets will still not match their bland gray pants. But I'm sure they'll look damn special. Maybe the tOSU band should wear the 1954 Salvation Army style uniforms...oh wait...

• Also, Michigan linebacker Kevin Leach will start again this week over the more seasoned veteran Obi Ezeh.
“The worst thing you can do if you’re not feeling that you’re getting the playing time you want or playing as well as you’d like is to go in the tank,” Rodriguez said. “We want guys that’ll fight back. We’re in a situation now where we’ve got to fight back from adversity. We’ve kind of been there before and we don’t want to be in that situation, but it tells the test of a guy’s character, and he’s got a lot of character.”
And in case anyone wants to try and read between the lines here and try and rationalize that Leach is just a smidge faster than Ezeh so he's going to get the bulk of the playing time...is on the right track...but it's much more harsh than that. Obi Ezeh, a junior who has started 29 straight games at middle linebacker, is simply being demoted in favor of a one-time starter.

Mark Ortmann Cleared to Play Against Purdue

After getting the attention of the Big Ten for his apparent shot to the midsection of Illinois player Cory Liuget after recovering Tate Forcier's fumble in the 4th quarter, OL Mark Ortmann will not be suspended or receive any sort of punishment (via AA.com)



It was widely speculated that Ortmann was guilty of at least doing something bad to Liuget. When the Illinois player made his way to the sideline, he could barely stand up straight.
“They agreed with our assessment that there would be no penalties,” Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez said Wednesday.
According to Rodriguez, Ortmann used an open hand to push Liuget away from him. It was not his intention to hurt Liuget, it was simply just an accident that he hit him where he did.

We here at MBN only saw the angle from the ABC-TV cameras (video above)...and to us, it looked like he used quite a bit of force to "push" Liuget away.

But, the conference officials have spoken, and Ortmann is in. I must say, I am pretty relieved...we need him if we're going to move the ball against Purdue in maybe our last real shot at becoming bowl-eligible.

Get On Board

They say, it's always darkest right before it goes pitch black. For some Michigan fans, this is how they feel right now. I've been weighing in pretty heavily lately on the subject of the "state of Michigan football" as it were. Mainly because it's the hot topic right now and people seem to be gravitating towards it. But for reason's that I can not explain, I am in the typing mood lately. I have things on my mind and I have a blog to write them on.

I've been listening to a far more frequent amount of local talk radio this week than I usually do. Drive time radio, mainly in the afternoon in metro Detroit is especially depressing this week. Between the Lions, Wolverines and Spartans, all three teams were losers last week. That coupled with very little else to discuss this week, makes for really irate hosts and frustrated call-in guests. There seems to be nothing better to do than dial up a radio station and let loose all of your inner most thoughts about football and how it effects your life.

Don't get me wrong. I'm just as emotionally distraught as most of the Michigan fan-base after last week. On Sunday, I posted maybe the most depressing post I've ever written. But as the week has played out and I've had some time to collect my thoughts, I've had many moments of clarity not only about how I feel about Michigan football in the state it is currently in, but how I feel about the future direction of the program.

I'm just going to go through all of the major topics one by one...so please bear with me.

Rich Rodriguez
I'll admit it, when he was hired, I had my doubts. I liked Lloyd Carr a lot. In hind-sight, Lloyd was a seemingly bitter old man...always guarded and very short with the media...but he was a great football coach. Off the field, when the camera's were off, Lloyd was a very calm and downright humble man who cared deeply about his players and loved Michigan. Replacing him was not going to be easy, but it was his time to go.

Rich Rodriguez was not the #1 guy on the list. That man is still coaching LSU. Heck, RR might not have even been #2? I really don't know. But what I do know is, when he was hired, and all the drama that ensued from leaving Morgantown...I really wasn't fully on-board with him.

After he got here, and all of the attrition that ensued with players leaving to go everywhere from Rice to tOSU to Arkansas...it was as if Bill Martin took the Michigan program and shook it up like a snow-globe. At the time, it was a gamble that Martin hoped would pay off.

But RR came in and promised to take the Michigan program and modernize it to compete with the likes of the best programs in the country. He talked of the spread offense which he had been so instrumental in creating. Michigan fans knew the process would not be easy, but that it would be worth it. We'd been shredded by the spread so much over the years, it was an easy sell to the Michigan faithful.

After 8 wins and 13 losses, most of those Michigan fans are done waiting.

But honestly, how long do you think it takes to take stogy old Michigan's "3-yards and a cloud of dust" offense and make it one of the fastest and most high-powered in the nation? OR, even an offense that can run efficiently? Any level-headed college football fan would tell you 3 years at the least. Just two weeks ago, before the OMG! FIRE RICHROD!!!! fiasco, Michigan was ranked #1 in the Big Ten in overall offense. No one wants to remember that though.

RR has been under fire the second he took the job. Do you really think this guy wanted to leave the state in which he was a God in order to come to Ann Arbor and drive Michigan's program into the ground - and his career in the process?

It makes zero sense to fire Rodriguez. To do anything like that would set this program back 5...maybe 10 years. And can you imagine trying to hire a top tier coach when we just fired one of the best in country only two years after coming here? The best coaches in the country wouldn't touch Michigan with a 10-foot pole. Neither would recruits. Oh yeah...and we'd have our 4th DC in 4 years! Yeah, great idea...lets do that!

Lloyd's Empty Cupboards
When Lloyd left, he left Rodriguez no one to run his offense. Well, to be fair, Lloyd never had anyone to run RR's offense in the first place. Ryan Mallett was not going to cut it...and he knew it, so he waved goodbye right away. That left us with Steven Threet and Nick Sheridan. Justin Feagin was never really an option...as he was too busy dealing coke out of his dorm room.

Threet was probably the best of the 3 terrible options RR had. And the 3-9 record in 2008 reflects just how bad our QB's were. But also, the line was terribly young and inexperienced. True freshman Sam McGuffie was called on way too often because of injuries to Minor and Brown. And we really only had one decent WR carried over from Lloyd's offense and that was 2007's 3rd option receiver, Greg Matthews.

After Lloyd left, so did all his offensive firepower: Chad Henne, Mike Hart, Jake Long, Mario Manningham, Adrian Arrington, Adam Kraus, Justin Boren.

No one can argue...those are some bare cupboards.

Defensively, we were not all that bad. Actually, if not for Morgan Trent, 2008's defense might be heads and shoulders above 2009's. We had a better and deeper interior line, better linebackers and a better secondary. The only problem was we had Scott Shafer as the DC. His schemes did not mesh with Rodriguez...and it showed on the field (3-3-5 anyone???). But the biggest problem with the defense was not their ability or the schemes, but the fact that they spent way too much time on the field due to an inept offense.

You can call me an apologist, but I'll stand behind my statement. RR had no awesome play makers on offense in which to start building his program. He really had to start from scratch.

Three Defensive Coordinators in Three Years
If you want to attribute our 3-9 record last year and the 4 losses this year to two main factors, they are 1) Youthful and inexperienced offense turning the ball over like crazy, and 2) 3 different DC's in 3 years.

Fans like to just heap criticism on the offense when we lose. And while a lot of that criticism is warranted...a great deal of the reason's we've struggled so much is because we just can't stop the other team from scoring.

If you look at this year's defense, it may be the youngest, thinnest  and most untested defense we've ever had. If you take away Brandon Graham and Donovan Warren, all you have left are 2 freshman, 3 sophomores, 3 juniors and 1 senior. Two of those guys are walk-ons. Those are our starters! There were TWO walk-ons starting on our defense last week.

Now Greg Robinson is a very good defensive coordinator...maybe one of the best coordinators in the country. His hire at Michigan should be a huge warning to the rest of the Big Ten that in a couple years, Michigan's going to have a very awesome defense. Once he gets a few more play makers (depth) and we get a secondary that's not pieced together with scotch tape, we will be able to stop some teams from lighting up the scoreboard.

Patience
I've said from the start, give him at least 3 years to make things happen. I knew 2008 would be bad. I thought 2009 would be a little better. But I've always thought 2010 was going to be the year when things clicked. All it takes is time and repetition. This is a very complex system to get used to. You can't just pick it up in 6 months and expect to run it to perfection. Basically, freshman...especially freshman QB's are just not expected to drop into the starting role and go set all kinds of records.

Patience is not easy...especially not when you see all the potential that this team has. We've moved the ball well, we've shown that it's possible for us to score points. We've done all this with a roster of players that is 80% freshmen and sophomores.

To me it's scary to think about this team two years from now. If we can average 33 points a game with all the problems this team is having...imagine down the road when things finally click into place and we're no longer thinking...just reacting...and scoring...at will.

Better days are ahead for this program. Just give it time. Support these young players, because in one or two years, you'll be glad you did.

And to the rest of the Big Ten...enjoy getting your shots in on Michigan now...because it's not going to last.

Wednesday Links

New recruit!

Carvin Johnson. He's a defensive back who hails from Louisiana. He's not exactly on the recruiting radar for any of the major services...but obviously, someone at Michigan has heard of him. In-depth write up from Tim @ mgoblog.

• Denard Robinson lined up at WR last weekend for a couple plays. In all the chaos, I didn't even notice until this article which says he's not being moved to a new position. But...isn't lining up at WR a move to a new position? I think it's probably the best situation for everyone...especially Robinson, who's days at QB have been rife with errors.

Fluff piece about former Heisman Trophy winner and all-around stud Charles Woodson weighing in on just how much tough it is to watch this team struggle the way it has over the past 2 seasons. Apparently, he's also getting flack from a guy who went to Cincinnati.

• Michigan coaches are urging patience as the losses keep adding up. But Rodriguez fears Michigan players need to play loose.

• RBUAS writes for the first time in a while. Read it.

• It's disconcerting to have a walk-on starting at safety on our defense. Solution? Offer him a scholarship.

• I received an email a while back from a guy named Drew who was attempting to attend every Big Ten venue this fall. Well, week 8 brought him and his friends to AA for the Penn State game. Here's his write-up on their experiences at the Big House.

The Healing Process

Last Saturday was about as rough of a day Michigan fans have seen since Appy State in 2007 or Toledo in 2008. Those losses were public image failures for the program. Last week's loss was more of a psychological disaster. But step 3...or 9...I don't know...of the process is acceptance. It's time to realize what happened last weekend happened for a reason, and there's nothing we can do to change it.

Calling into radio talk shows and crying about how "this isn't your Michigan team", or that you think we'd be better off firing Rodriguez now and starting over, is not going to help in any way. But what does help, is watching this clip of the Las Vegas Cobras football team (website - warning, crappy music will play after you click the link) performing one of the most epic failures ever to be videotaped on a football field.



Oddly enough, the opposing team has on the signature Michigan winged helmets.

Awesome Announcing

Dear ESPN,
I am writing to congratulate you of the amazing announcing work done by Mike Patrick and Craig James in last weekend's Michigan-Illinois game. Right from the start of the broadcast, I was happily welcomed with Mike's invitation "It's great to have you with us!". It's not exactly up there with Brent Musburger's "You are looking live...", but it's close. As soon as I heard Mike Patrick's eloquent voice, I knew I was in for a Halloween treat!

At many times throughout the game, I was regaled with the amazing insight and downright perfect description of what was going on on the field. I especially enjoyed the frequency Mike Patrick's many signature catchphrases, including "Are YOU kidding me?" and "Holy COW!". Craig James is just the right amount of awesome to reflect the onslaught of wonder that is Mike Patrick. Great job pairing these two broadcast stallions in the same booth.

I mean, even the proper pronunciation of players names can not dissuade Patrick from doing what he does best...and that is to weave pure announcing gold into living rooms and sports bars all over the country. Who cares that it's really Roy Roundtree and not Ray Roundtree? Or that it's Moosman and not Mossman? Who cares when we get to hear 5 good minutes of what Mike and Craig used to dress up as for Halloween. Mike's Mr. Peanut story had me in stitches for the better part of the 2nd quarter!

Anyway, just friendly reminder ESPN, to keep up the good work. Let's keep Mike and Craig busy in that booth for many years to come. I only have one small request. Is it possible to have this dynamic duo call any more Michigan games this season? It would just be the tops if we could hear some Thanksgiving or Christmas stories that I'm sure these two would be happy to share with us.

Congratulations again ESPN, we hope to hear Mike and Craig's voice again real soon!

Warmest Regards,
Brad
Maize and Blue Nation

It's Time to Step Up



 In times like these, I like to ask myself, "What would Bo do?"

It seems cliche to pick apart every minor detail of this Michigan football team right now. The internet, television, radio call in shows...have all been lit up with detractors and fans all questioning the heart and will of this team. The offense is young and over-matched. The defense looks lost. All in all, we're struggling. No doubt about it. But what the 2nd half last week showed us is that, when you have a very young football team, things like this can happen.

For the first 30 minutes of the game, aside from Illinois' opening drive, Michigan was in control. About to go up 20-7, all things looked good for Michigan. Then, the collapse. 4 shots at the endzone from the 1 yardline and we didn't get it done. Illinois then drives 99 1/2 yards to go up 14-13. From then on, Illinois had all the momentum and control. Michigan was reeling and could not get it back. For a young team and a new coaching staff...that's not easy to come back from.

I find fault with certain things that Michigan could have done better...of course, we all do. But at the time it was all unraveling, it was chaos. It showed that age trumps youth in situations like that. Illinois may not have better players than we do, but they had experience and momentum. And when it was all said and done, all we can do is look at the mistakes we made...get better and play another game this week.

There are those out there that will look at this game as the beginning of the end for Rich Rodriguez at Michigan. Those same people will also hope that the NCAA investigation of "practice-gate" will turn up some bad things that will lead to Michigan getting reprimanded and Rodriguez getting fired. Believe it or not, there are people out there who have read the Rodriguez contract to know that if such a thing occurs (a serious NCAA ruling against the program), that Michigan has the right to terminate Rodriguez's contract without penalty.

I really don't think it will come to that. But some people do. Some Michigan "fans" hope that we lose the next three games and not become bowl-eligible.

I am not one of those people.

To me, there is no Michigan "bandwagon". You're either a fan, or you're not. If you're on the "bandwagon", then you're not really a fan of the program. If you don't want to see Michigan do well and watch these young men succeed...then go watch another team. Go watch Michigan State and bury your head in the sand in East Lansing.

Michigan doesn't need bandwagon fans. Never have.

What they do need is for the true blue fans to rally behind these young players. We have three games left. Purdue is a team that we can beat. Wisconsin and tOSU are very good teams that offer unique challenges that this team hasn't seen yet. But it all starts this week against Purdue.

The cards are stacked against us right now. The players, coaches and program as a whole are down. The loss to Illinois was a huge blow. It is probably the worst loss of the season so far. But the real question is how is this team going to react?

We'll know this weekend. And, I'm happy to say that MBN will be covering the game from the pressbox again. We'll be "All In" with access to give you the best coverage we can of all the action on Saturday. So tune in, come to the Big House and get behind this program...they need it more than ever now.

Mark Ortmann Could Be Suspended For Purdue

It's not completely clear from the video posted by Dave Birkett at AnnArbor.com, but it seems as if OL Mark Ortmann may have struck Illinois' Cory Liuget in the midsection following his recovery of Tate Forcier's fumble early in the 4th quarter.

To me, it looks like Ortmann is indeed guilty of doing something to Liuget, but his helmet is in the way of the camera angle. Either way, Liuget is fine when he recovers the fumble, and then can barely walk when he gets to the sideline.

You be the judge.



If this holds up and the Big Ten suspends Ortmann for at least a game (which I'm assuming they will), we'll be without our starting left tackle for maybe our last and best shot at becoming bowl eligible this week against Purdue.