Spring Game - April 17th at the Big House

[via mgoblue.com]

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The University of Michigan football team will hold its annual spring game on Saturday, April 17, at Michigan Stadium. The final practice is open to the public and will be held at a time yet to be determined.

Last year, Michigan set a spring game attendance record with an estimated 50,000 fans at the alumni flag football game and final team scrimmage. Michigan Stadium is in the final stages of a $226 million year-round renovation that will be completed prior to the start of the 2010 season.

Check MGoBlue.com for updates and announcements on the spring game festivities.

Outgoing: Brandon Smith

Well, word on the street was that Smith was likely to transfer. I personally was hoping that since the spring semester had started and we haden't heard anything, maybe there was a chance he'd had a change of heart.

Not so much. LB Brandon Smith is transferring to Temple. [Link]

Smith saw action in 11 games this fall making 14 tackles (mostly on special teams), and had a blocked kick. There was no doubt that Smith was one of the many up-and-coming defenders who saw action due to a lack of output from older more experienced guys in his position. He did see some action playing defense in the last month, starting once, but it was not enough to make him happy. He's a big kid with a huge potential future. No question this is a huge gain for the Temple Owls, and a huge loss for the Wolverines.

Cissoko Arrested...Again

Former Michigan defender Boubacar Cissoko was arrested last Friday night in Ypsilanti for possession of marijuana. [via AnnArbor.com]

He has not yet been charged, but will. And he was released.

In case you forgot, Cissoko was removed from the team way back in October...not for being a horrible cornerback, which he was, but for violating team rules. He saw brief playing-time against Penn State before being removed from the team permanently. There was some recent speculation that Rodriguez consider re-opening the case so to speak, and maybe allow Cissoko a 3rd shot, but this will most certainly end that discussion.

It was thought that he might try and transfer to Grand Valley State, but he never seriously pursued it and never enrolled.

This is Boubacar's 2nd run-in with the law. The first coming shortly after Michigan's loss to Michigan State where he was cited for an alcohol violation, and failed to pay a $250 fine. A warrant was issued for his arrest.

It's safe to say at this point that Cissoko's football career has probably come to a bitter end.

Gardner Starts Classes Tuesday, Incoming: Davion Rogers

[via AnnArbor.com]
Not sure what the situation was that kept Michigan 2010 commit Devin Gardner from enrolling at the beginning of the spring semester, but whatever it was it's been ironed out because he'll start classes this week.

“I start on Tuesday,” Gardner said after the Michigan-UConn basketball game. “I don’t know what the holdup was, but it finally got done.”

It was reported a couple weeks ago that there was some sort of mix-up with Gardner's paperwork from HS to UofM. Somehow, that's all been cleared up and he's ready to go.

Gardner will join 6 other freshmen who have enrolled early... WR's Jeremy Jackson, Ricardo Miller and Jerald Robinson, RB's Stephen Hopkins and Austin White, and OL Christian Pace.

This opens up more of an opportunity for Gardner to compete with Forcier and Robinson for the QB job.

“It means a lot,” Gardner said. “Just more opportunities. I’ll have a better chance (to start).”

At the UConn game this afternoon, Rodriguez was quoted as saying he expects to sign 26 freshmen to the 2010 class.

“We probably will,” he said. “We don’t want to take a guy just to take a guy, but we’ll probably go 26.”

Speaking of signing freshmen, Michigan received the 25th commitment to that class from Davion Rogers from Warren, OH...same place as 2010 WR commit DJ Williamson. Rogers is a 3-star OLB prospect according to Rivals. He stands 6-6 and weighs in at 210 lbs. His fake 40-time is 4.6 seconds. Yet another solid defensive recruit for the 2010 class.

We Should Do Something

The people in Haiti have very little. It is one of the poorest nations in the western hemisphere. Then a devastating earthquake struck their largest city. Anywhere from 50,000 to maybe close to 200,000 people might be dead, and millions more injured or hurt.

I know we're a Michigan football blog, but we're also a voice that can and should be used for some actual good every once in a while. So if you can, please donate.

You can donate to The American Red Cross and/or you can head over the a page set up by Google for disaster relief with links to many ways you can donate money and learn more about what is going on in Haiti.

You can also text "Haiti" to 90999 to make a $10 donation to the Red Cross [link]. This donation will show up on your next wireless bill. You will get a confirmation text sent to you before the donation is made. Also, make sure you have three 9's on the end of the text number, because 9099 apparently is a scam.

Thank you.

Young Lane Kiffin to Become Sportscenter Anchor

Can't believe we didn't remember this from some point in the mid-90's, or whenever it was that the Indians "appeared to be the team to beat".

Apologies for the low quality of the video, it's the best I could find. But after watching the USC - Kiffin presser video from earlier today, I immediately thought of this vintage Sportscenter ad.

Like Tornado in a Trailer Park

Well, it's official.

We here at MBN have no clue what is going on in the world of college football.

Not that it was a big surprise, but Charlie Weis is run out of South Bend just as fast and with as much swiftness as when he was brought in and hailed as the savior of Notre Dame football. Charlie out...Cincinnati's Brian Kelly in. Kelly, leaves his post with the Bearcats just after they finish their first 12-0 season to become ND's next savior. 

Then, Cincinnati goes back to the Central Michigan well to hire Butch Jones because, well, why mess with a good thing?

Mark Mangino was fired after a up and down career with Kansas that ultimately led to him having to reach a settlement with his former employer. Mangino had several controversies while with Kansas including improper treatment of players, many NCAA rules violations, and numerous campus parking tickets. But he did win 2007 coach of the year honors from pretty much everyone who gives out that award...including, most appropriately, the Woody Hayes national coach of the year award.

Then it was Urban Meyer who resigned the Florida job the day after Christmas. But the very next day he comes out publicly and says he's going to take a "leave of absence" and will be back in time to coach the 2010 season. So Gator Nation can breathe again.

University of Southern Florida is also jumped in the mix when they fired Jim Leavitt after he went all Woody Hayes (like Mangino) and struck a player in the locker-room during halftime of the Louisville game on November 21st. Leavitt said he was just trying to "console" his player and did not strike him like everyone else said he did. According to ESPN's Ivan Maisel, the act of punching his own player was not what got him fired, but telling his team and coaches to change their story of the incident is what got him canned. He has since hired attorneys what is sure to be a nice and easy trial.

So in Leavitt's absence, USF interviewed Michigan assistant head coach Calvin Magee earlier this week, but it seems as if Magee is safe at Michigan for now.

And then that brings us to USC.

Amid a flurry of speculation that the NCAA is about to hand the Trojans a rather healthy dose of investigation from alleged gift-giving by boosters to former football and current basketball players, Pete Carroll is gone back to the NFL faster than you can say "Charlie Weis".

So there's a huge coaching vacancy at what used to be a very lucrative and highly sought-after position in southern California. But with the specter of the NCAA's judicial hammer about to fall in Troy, Oregon State's Mike Riley kindly rejects USC's offer. Next, Jacksonville Jaguars' head coach Jack Del Rio says no thanks.

0 for 2, USC tosses up a Hail-Mary in the second quarter and surprises everyone by hiring former assistant and current Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin.

At this point, everything I thought I knew about college athletics goes out the window.

Lane Kiffin, 34 years old, is about as strange of a hire as I could think of. First of all, he's only been with the Vols for 1 season, going 7-6. Before that he coached 20 games for the Oakland Raiders from 07-08 going 4-12 in 2007 and then 1-3 in 2008 before being fired by Raiders owner Al Davis in a rather ugly sequence of events that included a letter of resignation drafted up by Davis at the end of  2007 that Kiffin refused to sign because if he did he would forfeit the 2 million dollars left on his guaranteed contract.

Before that he was an assistant for USC from 2001-2006...right in the heart of when all the alleged rules were broken by such players as Reggie Bush. It is widely speculated that Kiffin was a central figure in said questionable activities during his time there.

So, needless to say, when the headline crawled across the bottom of the ESPN screen last night, I just about laughed out loud to myself. But in a time when so much movement is being made my coaches all over the country, you could argue that USC is just trying to stick with a guy they know. It's something you can say to yourself to legitimize the hire, but hardly a good reason.

So ultimately, that leads us to the vacancy at Tennessee.

Former Vols coach Phillip Fulmer has been mentioned as a possibility. Which I think makes no sense and total sense at the same time. But the latest man to be questioned about his interest is none other than our very own Rich Rodriguez.

Detroit News columnist Angelique Chengelis who covers Michigan football about as well as anyone out there posed the question to Rodriguez's agent Mike Brown today, to which he replied, "No way." with a laugh. [Link to story]

It's the laughing part that concerns me.

According to Chengelis, while en route back home from the American Football Coaches Association convention in Orlando, he apparently was spotted in Knoxville. If this were coming from Rosenberg at the Free Press I'd laugh it off, but having come from what I consider a pretty knowledgeable and level-headed source, I'm giving it it's due attention.

And to add a cherry to the top of the coaching madness cake, to replace outgoing LB coach Jay Hobson, Michigan is interviewing former tOSU defensive coordinator Mark Snyder. Snyder has spent the last 5 years as the head coach at Marshall (before resigning), and the 4 years prior to that as the DC at tOSU. He also coached with Sir Teflon at Youngstown State.

So, long story short, I have no idea what to make of all this insanity. But one thing is for certain...someone has to replace Kiffin at Tennessee, and maybe...just maybe, we might all be surprised who it could be.

Oh yeah, one last thing. If the coaching insanity wasn't enough for you, just try and make sense of the recruiting picture. HA!

Under Armour HS All-America Game Highlights

The good folks over at Under Armour have sent over a little recap and highlight package from the  All-America High School football game held last weekend in St. Petersburg, Florida.

In case you missed it, Michigan QB recruit Devin Gardner (#7) was a QB for the black squad. He had a TD pass in the game, to Texas WR Darius White. This TD pass, and many other highlights from the game are in the video posted below, which is an exclusive clip not available elsewhere (or so they tell me, I really haven't taken the time to look). Enjoy!

Official Under Armour Game Recap:
Playing before 21,000 fans at Tropicana Field, the nation’s top recruits top recruits put on a dazzling show, proving the Under Armour All-America high school football game as the premier showcase for high school talent. The game took place on January 2nd in St. Petersburg, FL, and featured 88 of the top football players in the country.  Led by a suffocating defense, Team Black (Nitro) defeated Team Blur (White) 32-, with Florida commit Dominique Easley (Staten Island, NY) earning MVP honors.  Easley shared the defensive spotlight with his fellow Gator commits, who accounted for all 4 of Team Black’s interceptions. The exclusive video includes the game’s top plays, as well as individual footage and soundbites from some of the outstanding performers.

Pete Carroll is Leaving USC for NFL

[via ESPN]
According to "sources", Pete Carroll has been offered 7 million dollars for the head coaching job with the Seattle Seahawks, and will likely take the job. ESPN says the deal has already been made "in principal"...so all that's left to do is cross the I's and dot the T's.

Goodbye Pete!

Satisfying the Old Guard

Photo: Lon Horwedel, AnnArbor.com

Upon hearing the news that Michigan was going to hire Dave Brandon, the CEO of Dominoes Pizza, as the next AD, it seemed to make perfect sense. The guy is well mannered, speaks well, is a confident fella, has an impeccable resume, and will likely secure the financial stability of Michigan sports for many years to come.

But hiring a guy like this says to me, a rather scrutinizing Michigan fan, that hiring a wild-gun-slinging West Virginia outsider like Rich Rodriguez was so outside of the typical "Michigan Man" comfort-zone, that they had to offset that hire with a guy who the "old guard" at Michigan can easily accept and get behind.

I'm not saying that hiring Rodriguez was necessarily a mistake, but two years in and a 8-16 record...you do the math. I'm willing, as many others...including Brandon I assume, to give Rodriguez another year before we cast him out for new blood. I still think he's able to turn the ship around in his 3rd year. Why? Because he has to in order to have a 4th year. He knows it, we all know it.

But after reading everything about Brandon and how well he has been groomed for this role since his days playing for Bo in the 70's, being on the board of regents for the bulk of Lloyd's tenure, it seems so very obvious that the clock is definitely ticking for Rodriguez. I don't think Brandon would do something as rash as fire him right now. But I think that the heat just got turned way up.

And if or when the clock does run out for Rodriguez, it's going to be Brandon handing him his pink slip.

Videos! [Via AnnArbor.com]

Brandon's comments from earlier today:

Bill Martin's message about the hire of Brandon:

Incoming: Dave Brandon, New Michigan AD

We're a little late getting to the party, but it's now official that soon-to-be former CEO of Ann Arbor based Dominoes Pizza, Dave Brandon, is set to take over full Athletic Director control effective March 2010. It was reported that Martin would officially step down in September, so he'll have a few months of transition until Brandon is fully on his own.

One might ask what qualifies a Pizza company owner to take over the reigns as the AD at Michigan, and that's a logical question. Brandon was a former regent at the U, and played football for Bo in 1973.
“With his widely acclaimed leadership skills, business acumen, long-term involvement with the university and personal knowledge of the challenges and rewards of being a student athlete, David Brandon is an ideal candidate for athletic director,” U-M President Mary Sue Coleman said in a press release. “I am confident that he will carry on the tradition of excellence in U-M athletics as we enter a new era.”

“It is my distinct honor and privilege to have this opportunity to serve the university in yet another way,” Brandon said in the press release. “My participation as a student-athlete at U-M has made a profound impact on my life and career, and I fully understand and respect the important role our athletic programs play in helping to shape the culture and image of our university community.”
Not sure what the entire impact that the new AD will have on football operations as opposed to what we're used to, but one can only hope that this will include certain things like night games in the Big House. (!) But he is a disciple of Bo, which is certainly a huge plus for the old guard around the University. I suspect he'll bring in a nice set of fresh ideas while still maintaining the integrity of the department. We'll just have to wait and see.

For a full bio and much more information, check out the article from AnnArbor.com.

Lloyd Carr's Michigan

 [Via Spawn]
Apparently, last night during NBC's broadcast of Sunday Night Football, when they did the player introductions in the beginning of the game, Jet's WR and former Michigan WR Braylon Edwards said he went to college at "Lloyd Carr's Michigan".

Obviously, this is a shot at Rich Rodriguez and the current staff at U of M. Its a low-blow that really doesn't need to be said, nor should it be said. If Braylon has a serious beef with U of M or Rodriguez, there are much better, and more grown-up and responsible ways of going about it.

It's odd because Braylon has always seemed to be a good ambassador of the program, even the new program, so this seems pretty out of the blue. If we find video or any more info, we'll post it here.