Desmond Howard to College Fooball Hall of Fame

How about some good news for a change?

The man you see gracing the banner of this site and the September 1991 issue of SI above, Desmond Howard, was elected into the College Football Hall of Fame. Howard is 1 of 14 inductees named today for the 2010 class. Nowadays you can now see Desmond on ESPN's College Gameday broadcasts during the season.

Of course Howard is most recognized for his Heisman Trophy win in 1991 (and the famous pose he struck after returning a punt for a touchdown against the Buckeyes that year in which Keith Jackson proclaimed on the broadcast "Helloooo Heisman!"), but he was also a consensus All-American, recipient of the Maxwell Award, winner of the 1991 Walter Camp player of the year.

Punt return against tOSU in 1991:

The Catch against ND in 1991:

In addition to those accolades, he also became the first receiver to ever lead the Big Ten in scoring. He set or tied 5 NCAA records, and 12 Michigan single-season records during his senior year. Amazingly, he still holds the Michigan record for most TDs in one season with 23 and most points scored (138). He also still holds the Big Ten single-season record for most receiving TDs in one year with 19 in 1991.

He also has a Super Bowl ring, as a member of the Super Bowl XXXI Champion Green Bay Packers, in which he became the first ever special teams player to be named Super Bowl MVP. Desmond retired from the NFL in 2002 after spending 11 seasons in the league.

Congratulations Desmond! Go Blue!

100 Days Until...

That is all.

David Brandon Shows His Worth

I know yesterday I made a point of saying that I'd leave the whole NCAA investigation topic alone unless something else major was announced, but I just can't let this thing die without addressing two more related topics:

1) I must admit, if anyone was on the fence about what kind of an administrator and leader David Brandon is, this most recent incident (which he inherited) clearly demonstrates that not only can he handle tough situations with class, but he's so deliberate and confident in the way he conducts business.

You can clearly see based on recent events, what makes Brandon such a great leader. He was very successful at Dominoes, and he's bringing that same recipe for success to Michigan.

You could argue that I'm jumping the gun a little bit on judging Brandon, and I'm doing so in such glowing terms. I don't mean to say that Bill Martin could not have conducted himself with the same professionalism. Martin, over his 10 years as AD, proved he was more than capable to conduct the business of the department. But Brandon brings that certain air of confidence and conviction. When he says that he disagrees with the NCAA's finding that Rodriguez did not create an environment of compliance, (whatever that means) I truly believe that Brandon, as an outsider who inherited this mess is as best qualified as anyone to provide unbiased input and ideas.

2) These sanctions are by and away fair...maybe even too fair. Now, of course these are Michigan's self-imposed sanctions. I fully expect them to be honored by the NCAA. I don't think further sanctions against Michigan will be handed down.

Notice I said "against Michigan".

2 years of probation is harsh, especially for Michigan who's never been sanctioned by the NCAA...ever. But before we go all "Michigan Men" here and bemoan the loss of the holiness of Michigan's streak of no NCAA sanctions, lets just put this into perspective.

The total sum of the infractions is 65 hours of extra practice time over 2 years. That's it. This whole sum of the infractions that have been handed down against Michigan. That's 37.5 minutes of extra practice time a week. According to reports,  53 of those 65 hours were stretching time.

It's not like we're USC or tOSU and we're being found guilty of paying players or providing illegal benefits from boosters. Not even close. We're not recruiting wrongly, we're not giving players passing grades in fluff classes.

We're talking about 65 hours of extra practice time over 2 years.

Give me a goddamn break.

I am more pissed that this situation has even garnered as much attention as it has. When you really put it into perspective, Michigan practiced longer than they should have, but did it result in a sudden rush of victories or championships? Of course not. So you could argue that the extended practice time, as unintentional as it was, did nothing to impact the team positively in any way.

Like we've said so many times before, EVERY program in the country could be found guilty of these infractions. ALL OF THEM!

Now there's a whole 'nother side of this situation that we're not going to get into, and that's the department personnel named in the report yesterday who have been reprimanded (but not fired) for their actions, or lack thereof, during this time. And there's also the CARA form situation as well. These topics are way to introverted and political for us to to dive into with any sense of judgment. If this is why you are here, I apologize. If that's your particular brand of vodka, please visit our friends at mgoblog. They've got you covered every which way from Tuesday on that front.

For those of you out there who think I am putting too much blame on the Free Press for all of this, here's why:

Regardless of how Rosenberg got his information...whether it was a leak in the department, current or former players, it is up to him and the editorial staff at the newspaper to do some fact checking before an earth-shattering article like this gets published. Every major sports news outlet ran with the Freep story, and treated it like gospel.

The Freep had claimed that Michigan, and more specifically Rodriguez had knowingly and blatantly gone over the time allowed for team activities during the 2008 season and off-season by as much as double, or at least 8-10 hours a week. The Freep claimed there was a complete loss of control by the staff and the department, and Rodriguez was actively finding ways to break the rules.

No named sources were used. The Free Press ran this story on hearsay and biased opinion. Which isn't really against any rules, but they should have at the very least said that, and not claimed these opinions as fact.

For that, they are guilty of both exaggerating the facts, and in some instances, being just flat out wrong.

But the article did two things well:

1) It raised the awareness of missing CARA forms in the compliance office, and magically made them appear.

2) It made clear that there is a faction of the UM alumni, and athletic department staff that is not happy with Rodriguez and is out to get him fired as soon as humanly possible.

Either way, all of this nonsense will be turned way down if and when two things happen:

1) USC and Pete Carroll get taken out to lunch by the NCAA and the BCS.

2) Michigan beats UConn on September 4th.

Distractions and winning are all that will make this go away. The Michael Rosenberg's of the world will disappear if Michigan just starts winning football games.

This Freep article was published a week before the 2009 season. The Monday presser prior to the season was dominated by questions about CARA forms and players not liking Rodriguez and Rodriguez getting very emotional in front of cameras.

Then, that Saturday, Michigan beat Western Michigan 31-7.

The following Monday presser completely lacked any questions or references to the Freep article. Winning one game, against a MAC school no less, healed the wound ripped open just 7 days prior.

Sports writers are such a fickle bunch.

And for that reason, this blog is dedicated to getting us back to football again. Needless to say this is a big topic worth weighing in on, but it's also one big fat distraction. We can't wait to start talking about the QB race, the much improved offensive line, ways the defense can have a better year...all of that good ole' football talk that we love to do so much.

So until then...Go Blue!

UConn, UMass Time and TV Announced

Just announced via Michigan Media Relations...time and TV for the 9/4 opener against UConn and the 9/18 game against UMass.

The 2010 Schedule lives here.

• UConn will air regionally on ABC and ESPN2 at 3:30PM on September 4th.
• UMass will air on the Big Ten Network at 12:00PM on September 18th.

This is the first ever meeting between Michigan, and these two schools.

These will be the last games for 2010 that will be announced in advance of the season. The remaining 7 unknown times/TV games (BGSU, Indiana, MSU, Illinois, Purdue, Wisconsin, tOSU) will all be announced on a 6 to 12 day notice before each game.

Michigan's Response

Released this morning, is the University's response to the NCAA allegations that Michigan commited major violations over practice time.

Long story short: In August 09, The Detroit Free Press published a story that claimed Michigan had grossly gone over their allotted practice time limits set by the NCAA. Michigan did its own internal investigation and was also investigated by the NCAA. In February of this year, the NCAA concluded that Michigan had indeed gone over their time limits, but not nearly as much as the Free Press story claimed.

So yesterday, Michigan submitted its own recommended sanctions to the NCAA which are:

• Reduce the number of internal quality control staff by 40% (I think there are 5 staffers now)
• "Give back" 130 hours of practice time over the next two years
• Take measures to ensure this never happens again
• 2 years of probation

So, that's it. No loss of scholarships, no reduction of past wins (not that there were that many), no loss of coaches, and no future bowl forfeitures.

In the official report given to the NCAA yesterday, Michigan drops a little bomb on the Free Press:
"The University is satisfied that the initial media reports are greatly exaggerated if not flatly incorrect."
Thanks Free Press. You completely dropped the ball on this one. Not only was your story grossly over-exaggerated, but in many regards, just wrong all-together. I'd say a full apology would be forthcoming from the Detroit newspaper, but I won't hold my breath.

Now the ball is in the NCAA's court to either accept these self-imposed sanctions (which they will), or come back in August and impose further sanctions. Given the reality of how these allegations began, and the nature of the infractions themselves, I'd say no further sanctions will be handed down.

Unless something huge happens or further news is released (like a Freep apology), we'll consider this story closed. Time to move on.

New Turf at the Big House

Its May, ok?

Yes, the Big House will be getting new carpet this season. Apparently this was common knowledge, but this blogger failed to know that. For whatever reason, with all the spring game stuff going on, it was posted and I totally missed it. [via 4/17 press release]
At the end of March, vandals broke into Michigan Stadium and cut a six foot by eight inch piece of turf out of the Block M at midfield. The section was replaced for the spring game with a brighter and higher quality version of field turf called Duraspine.

All the turf at Michigan Stadium will be replaced following commencement. The eight-year-old field is one of the first versions of FieldTurf and will be completely replaced with Duraspine by the season opener against Connecticut. 
So, yeah.

The new Duraspine turf can actually be seen right next to the 8-year old turf that will soon become a thing of the past. At the spring game, I was able to get up-close and personal to the vandalized section of the block-M to snap this photo:

Click the image for a high-res version.
The L-shaped strip of the block-M that was torn out was replaced with the new Duraspine turf that will cover the whole field this fall. Clearly, the yellow is yellow-er, the blue is blue-er, I assume the green will be greener-er, and just the whole look of the new turf is thicker and stands a little taller than the old, trampled worn-out turf that clearly needs to go. This is obviously just a patch-job, and I assume the whole field installation will look much more uniform.

So what is Duraspine, you ask? It's made by FieldTurf, the same manufacturer of the current turf installed at the Big House. They actually make most of the turf fields you see in use by college and NFL teams. Duraspine is a new and improved version of the old stuff. Cue handy visual-aid:

You're probably telling yourself, this image is great and all, but a highly informative product video would really help me understand the shear awesomeness of this new turf. Cue overly-produced corporate hype video:

Long story short: Yes, new turf this fall. It's way more super-awesome than the old turf. It will be safer, with more vibrant colors. I assume it will be green...but who knows, it could be blue. It might have a new design. In an email sent to media relations, Bruce Madej only confirmed the new turf, and did not address whether or not any changes would be made to the design of the field. We'll just have to wait and see.

Michigan Completes 2011 Schedule with San Deigo State

As you can probably tell from the title, Michigan has added a home tilt for Sept. 24th against the Aztecs from San Diego State University to complete the 2011 schedule.

This will be the 2nd meeting all-time against SDSU. The first meeting was back in 2004 at home, with Michigan prevailing 24-21.

SDSU is coached by this man...

Hey wait a sec, he looks familair!
Thats right sports fans, its former Lloyd Carr assistant Brady Hoke!

Hoke coached the defensive linemen  at Michigan from 1995 to 2002. He was hired in 2009 after resigning his head coaching position at Ball State which he had from 2003-2008.  In his first year at SDSU, he went 4-8.

So...the 2011 schedule now looks like this:

Date                       Opponent
Sept. 3                   Western Michigan
Sept. 10                 Notre Dame
Sept. 17                 Eastern Michigan
Sept. 24                 San Diego State
Oct. 1                     Bye Week
Oct. 8                     at Wisconsin
Oct. 15                   Indiana (Homecoming)
Oct. 22                   at Michigan State
Oct. 29                   at Iowa
Nov. 5                    Minnesota
Nov. 12                  Illinois
Nov. 19                  at Northwestern
Nov. 26                  Ohio State

First impressions -
• 8 home games - Thank you.
• All of September is played at home - Thank you again.
• 3 November home games - Now we're getting spoiled.
• Same opening 3 games as we had in 2009 (WMU, ND, EMU)
• Convenient bye-week before starting Big Ten play
• NU and Minnesota back on the schedule in place of Penn State and Purdue.
• tOSU will be played post-Thanksgiving

As far as the addition of the Aztecs to the schedule, I like it. I don't love it...I don't hate it. I like it.

UM Baseball Comes Back From 14-Run Deficit

We've been waiting a long time to post something baseball related here on the pages of MBN. And I think we've been waiting for a story like this. David Goricki writes in The Detroit News...
It's tough to come back from a two touchdown deficit in football. But a 14-0 deficit in baseball?

Amazingly, it wasn't too much for Michigan's baseball team to overcome Sunday. The Wolverines wiped out a 14-0 third-inning deficit to defeat Northwestern 15-14 on Mike Dufek's walk-off homer in the 10th inning at U-M's Wilpon Baseball Complex.

"I've never seen anything like it, certainly have never been involved in a game like it," Michigan coach Rich Maloney said. "And, it came in such a meaningful game, too. We still have a real chance to win the Big Ten title. It was Senior Day and we had such a big crowd (1,780).

"Fans came down on the field to hug the players. A man I didn't even know came up to me and told me he had watched Michigan football for 35 years and it was the greatest comeback he's ever seen. Sometimes things are even bigger than the game and this was one of them."

Monday News

From time to time, news builds up (even in May), and it just makes sense to dump all that news into one post. So here it is.

• Michigan held the annual Champions for Children's Hearts golf outing on Sunday at Ann Arbor Golf and Outing. The event is put on by alums Brian Griese, Steve Hutchinson and Charles Woodson. Since 2007, the outing has become more and more of a success, raising more than $1.2 million dollars, $1 million of that going directly to the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital. [ Story]

• Rodriguez, while at the golf outing, offered up an update on C David Molk's injury status. [Link]
 “I don’t know where he’s at running wise or anything like that, but I saw him the other day, he walked by the office, and he looks great,” Rodriguez said. “I think he was anxious to do more in the spring but obviously for precautionary reasons we held him out but I think he’ll be 100 percent certainly for August stuff.”
 Also updated, DE Will Heninger's status.
“We’re hoping to have him back by midseason,” Rodriguez said.
• Now with the conference expansion and the new recruits you must stay alert finding out which teams will be true contender next year and especially which will have the most favorable NCAA Football Odds to win it all.

• Conference expansion is all the rage now thanks to the Big Ten. But the first conference to make the move could very well be the Mountain West Conference. The Idaho Statesman reports that Boise State could very well be set to join the conference soon.

• Former RB Mike Hart tells Detroit News writer Angelique Chengelis that he does not regret making the "Little Brother" comment in 2007. On Friday, Hart took part in the Mott WTKA take-over, and appeared on the air with former QB Drew Henson.
"I don't regret what I said. If I had a chance to say it again, would I say it? ... Yes, no question about it."
Henson then added: "Because they won't hold their feelings back, either. Sparty will tell you what they think."
• And finally, some NCAA news. [Via MVictors] According to President Mary Sue Coleman, in a speech given to Boston-area alums, Michigan is set to deliver it's self-imposed sanctions to the NCAA by the Mat 24th deadline.

Greg at MVictors did some legwork to get the official response to the Coleman speech from Michigan media relations' Bruce Madej to help clear the air:
"As we said during the February 23rd press conference, May 24th is the date we must have the self-imposed infractions to the NCAA.  After the NCAA receives and reads the report, we will release the information the following day."
So, expect to be able to find out what Michigan thinks is adequate sanctions on May 25th. It won't be until August 13-14 that we'll find out what the NCAA thinks about the report that Michigan will submit later this month.

Big Ten Coaches Hot Seat - Part 1

Its that time of year again! Time to take a good hard and unbiased look at each of the 11 Big Ten coaches and asses their current situations, the 2010 outlook and what it will take to either get them fired, or keep them safe.

This little pet project of mine is certainly nothing unique to just this blog, many blogs do this. But it's a something of a springtime ritual around here and we like doing it.

2008: Part 1, Part 2
2009: Part 1, Part 2

Special bonus this year, we'll also be looking at Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly. No real mystery about his job security as he's a rookie coach, but since Notre Dame is practically knocking on the Big Ten's door and annually plays 3-4 Big Ten teams...we might at well treat them as a Big Ten school for this assessment.

Same scale as we used last year...with one level of safeness added...BLUE!

Totally Safe: Can literally lose every game and still be elected governor
Safe for Now: Can have an off-year and still be okay
Needs a Good Year: Needs to improve from '09
Needs a Great Year: 2010 could be the end if things don't get better fast
Dead Man Walking: Probably won't make it through 2010

So let's dive in!

Ron Zook - Illinois
6th Season

2005: 2-9
2006: 2-10
2007: 9-4
2008: 5-7
2009: 3-9
Total: 21-39

How this man survived 2009 is beyond me. Last year we had him labeled orange. Coming off of a very good 2007 (Rose Bowl), and then struggling in 08, but still having Juice Williams at QB, I would have thought expectations would have been higher in Champaign for 2009.

Going 3-9, they lost all of their big games in 09 except for Michigan at home on Oct. 31st. I have a hard time believing beating the 10th place team in the Big Ten saved Zook's job.

Zook makes $1.6 annually, and his current contract goes until 2014 [Link]. Last summer he received a one-year extension. It may be possible that Illinois couldn't afford to fire him due to some amazing termination clause in his contract. Who knows.

2010 has to be the year the rubber meets the road as far as Zook being fired. He's going to have a tough time replacing Juice Williams...just like he did replacing Mendenhal in 08. Anything less than 7-8 wins and the boosters will literally set Memorial Stadium on fire. And honestly, I don't see that many wins on their schedule.

Important Games in 2010:
9/4 vs. Missouri
10/2 vs. tOSU
10/9 @ Penn State
11/6 @ Michigan

MBN Hotness Meter: Dead Man Walking

Bill Lynch - Indiana
4th Season

2007: 7-6
2008: 3-9
2009: 4-8
Total: 14-23

Bill Lynch yelled a lot in 2009. He surely yelled like crazy at Michigan in late September when they started off 3-0 and came oh-so-close to knocking off the red-hot 3-0 Wolverines in the Big House 36-33. Apparently, yelling lot means you care a lot. In that case, Lynch cares more than any other coach in the Big Ten.

It's just too bad he's at Indiana. Indiana is just not a great football school. They went to a bowl in 2007, which was pretty good - but that was with former coach Terry Hoeppner's players and schemes. Since then, they've gone 7-17 overall and 2-14 in the Big Ten.

Lynch currently makes $675,000 a year, and his contract ends in summer 2012 [link].

Last year we said he needed a great year, and he didn't deliver. Its okay though because expectations are really at an all-time low. If 2010 isn't another bowl year, which it won't be, Lynch will likely be axed.

Important Games in 2010:
10/2 vs Michigan
10/9 @ tOSU
11/13 @ Wisconsin
11/20 vs. Penn State

MBN Hotness Meter: Needs a Great Year

Kirk Ferentz - Iowa
12th Season

1999: 1-10
2000: 3-9
2001: 7-5
2002: 11-2
2003: 10-3
2004: 10-2
2005: 7-5
2006: 6-7
2007: 6-6
2008: 9-4
2009: 11-2
Total: 81-55

If there is a model of safety in the Big Ten coaching fraternity, its got to be Kirk Ferentz.

He's steadily improved from  a 6-6 2007 record, and in 2009 his 11-2 record and win in the Orange Bowl against Georgia Tech was considered enough to be named 2009 Big Ten coach of the year.

In 2009, Iowa started the season an impressive 9-0. Winning big games against Michigan, Penn State and Wisconsin, they stubbed their toe against Northwestern. And then the following week took tOSU to overtime at the shoe toilet-bowl before losing 27-24.

A late season win against Minnesota gave Iowa a shot at a BCS bowl, and they delivered a huge win for the Big Ten against #9 Georgia Tech 24-14.

Ferentz's $3.3 million annual contract was extended last year to go until summer 2016 [link]. After seemingly yearly rumors about him leaving for the NFL, it seems clear that he's fairly comfortable in Iowa City, and Iowa in very comfortable with him.

He's got a bit of rebuilding to do for 2010, and will have to do it fast in order to remain in the top 3 of the Big Ten. I have no doubt he will do it, just may take a little while. I expect a successful year in Iowa City, but not quite as successful as 2009.

Important Games in 2010:
9/18 @ Arizona
10/2 vs Penn State
10/16 @ Michigan
10/23 vs Wisconsin
11/20 @ tOSU

MBN Hotness Meter: Totally Safe

Rich Rodriguez - Michigan
3rd Season

2008: 3-9
2009: 5-7
Total: 8-16

Many Michigan faithful, myself included, hoped that the 2nd-year turnarounds that Rodriguez was famous for would occur in Ann Arbor. It didn't. 09 was a struggle. But, coming out of the gate 4-0 temporarily quieted the critics. But then the wheels fell off the bus once the meat of the Big Ten schedule hit.

To be fair, last year we said that 2010 would be the "put up or shut up" year for Rodriguez. And I still believe that. We said that he needed a good year in 09 (at least a bowl), and since he didn't get it, that really turns up the heat in 2010.

Struggles on the field, and some NCAA attention off of it have really made Rodriguez a punching bag for fans of the old administration. But like it or not, Rodriguez will be the coach in matter what. He has the full support of both UM President Mary Sue Coleman, and new AD Dave Brandon, so he's safe for now.

He must beat Sparty this question. tOSU is going to be a tough one, but not impossible. If he can swing both of those as well as win the games he's supposed to win, 2010 could be the season Michigan fans have been waiting for. I don't expect a Big Ten championship or an undefeated season, but 8-9 wins is mandatory for Rodriguez to return for 2011.

Rodriguez's current contract is $2.75 million a year and goes until 2013 [link].

Important Games in 2010:
9/4 vs UCONN
10/9 vs Sparty
10/16 vs Iowa
10/30 @ Penn State
11/20 @ Wisconsin
11/27 @ tOSU

MBN Hotness Meter: Needs a Great Year

 Mark Dantonio - Michigan State
4th Season

2007: 7-6
2008: 9-4
2009: 6-7
Total: 22-17

I'll admit it's tough for me to give an unbiased review of Mark Dantonio. I'm not exactly a huge fan of this guy. But, for the sake of being somewhat journalistic, I'll do my best.

First off, 2009 was not a good year for the Spartans. Sure, they knocked us off in East Lansing and thwarted another late surge from super-freshman Tate Forcier...albeit an injured Tate Forcier...and in a driving rainstorm. But they lost in humiliating fashion at home to Central Michigan on 9/12. That loss was followed by losses to Notre Dame and Wisconsin the following two weeks.

Losses later in the season to Iowa, Minnesota, Penn State and Texas Tech in the Alamo Bowl capped off another year of pure mediocrity for the Spartans. If you take away the Michigan win, the best win on their schedule was maybe Northwestern.

Off-the-field issues were the major focus of this team this year. An "on-campus altercation" occurred towards the end of the season, and about a dozen or so players were suspended. I don't remember exactly what happened, but it had something to do with drunk players getting in a fight at a dorm on campus. I don't know if arrests were made, but at this point, does it really matter? It seems fairly evident that since this was not an isolated incident, that Dantonio does not really have full control over his players.

I'm not sure what the feeling is in East Lansing right now. On one hand, he's beaten Michigan two years in a row (but who hasn't?), and on the other, he's still struggled to break the trend of mediocrity that has been around the program since the days of Bobby Williams.

With that in mind, I'll say that this season needs to be a much improved year for Sparty. I know their tired of playing second fiddle to Michigan, especially since beating them two years straight. But the trip to Ann Arbor, ND and Wiscy at home and the season finale at Penn State will tell the tale of 2010.

Dantonio's current salary pays him $1.9 million a year, and his contract ends in 2016. [Link]

Important Games in 2010:
9/18 vs Notre Dame
10/2 vs Wisconsin
10/9 @ Michigan
11/27 @ Penn State

MBN Hotness Meter: Needs a Good Year

Tim Brewster - Minnesota
4th Season

2007: 1-11
2008: 7-6
2009: 6-7
Total: 14-24

First off, I like Tim Brewster. I think he's a fine coach. He's done pretty well so far at Minnesota. I think his players like and respect him, the fanbase seems happy with him. They have a new stadium, TCF Bank Stadium, which replaced the awful HHH Metrodome (were Michigan never lost a game), so that's a huge plus for the program. All Brewster needs to do now, is win.

2009 was a so-so year. They beat teams like Syracuse, Air Force, Northwestern, Purdue, Sparty and South Dakota State. And they made it to the Insight Bowl where they lost to Iowa State by 1. Unfortunately, ugly losses to tOSU, Penn State, Cal ad Iowa labeled 2009 as a disappointment for the Gophers.

2010 has the potential to be a good year for the Gophers. They do host some pretty awesome opponents at their new stadium this year. Games against USC, Penn State, tOSU and Iowa are going to be huge draws for the program as far as TV exposure. For a program looking to make some noise, this is Minnesota's opportunity to do so. I believe if they can knock off at least two of those opponents, and then win the smaller games, Brewster might make a name for himself this year. You might laugh at USC, but I think this could be a great game, and a potential landmark win for the program.

Michigan and Minnesota are on a break until 2011, so the Little Brown Jug is safe in Ann Arbor for another year.

Brewster makes $1.1 million a year, and his contract goes until December 2011. [link]

Important Games for 2010:
9/18 vs USC
10/23 vs Penn State
10/20 vs tOSU
11/27 vs Iowa

MBN Hotness Meter: Needs a Good Year

Part 2 of the 2010 Hot Seat Preview will post later this week.

Mott Day on WTKA

Listened to this for a little bit on my morning commute and then saw Greg from MVictors had posted the info and all-star UofM lineup for Mott Takeover Day on Ann Arbor's 1050AM WTKA. Basically, CS Mott Children's Hospital has taken over the station for the entire day in order to raise money. 

According to host Ira Wientraub at around 9AM, they had raised close to $6,000 just in the 8 o'clock hour alone. Very nice Michigan fans!

Please allow me to basically copy/paste Greg's post here with all the details.
To Donate:  1-800-559-2657
Listen Live: Click here

Live Video stream of the eventIt works!

Podcasts throughout the dayHere.
More Details

The line-up:
7 – 9 am – Lloyd Carr and Charles Woodson
9 – 10 am – Jerry Hanlon
10 – 11 am – Steve Hutchinson
11 am – Noon – Gary Moeller
Noon – 1 pm – Brian Griese
1 – 2 pm – Jake Long
2 – 3 pm – Jeff Backus
3 – 4 pm – Jerame Tuman and Aaron Shea
4 – 5 pm – Mike Hart, Ron Bellamy and Drew Henson
5 – 6 pm – David and Jan Brandon and Rich Rodriguez

Only Rutgers Got Jersey Power

Found over at MnB [link] and EDSBS [link], maybe one of the best, or worst video clips of all time. After the Irish "We are ND" ballad that dropped a week or so ago [link], I thought it could never be topped. I stand corrected. RutgersAl brings us maybe one of the most enjoyable and jaw-droppingly awful clips ever to grace the pages of this blog. I have no words to describe this.

If Rutgers never joins the Big Ten, they'll have RutgersAl to blame.

Latest Big Ten Expansion Rumors Are Just That...Rumors

Via the Associated Press []...
Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany e-mailed conference officials Tuesday to stamp out a rumor that four schools had already been offered a chance to join the league.

Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith confirmed Tuesday that Delany had quashed a report that the Big Ten had offered expansion spots to Missouri, Nebraska, Notre Dame and Rutgers.

Asked if there was anything to that speculation, Smith said, "Nothing. There's no truth to it whatsoever. Actually, Jim sent us all an e-mail telling us there's no truth to that -- which we knew. There's no extensions of offers that have been made, so that's not true."
So there you go.

Needless to say we've learned a thing or two over the past 48 hours. Firstly, don't trust a guy on a sports talk radio website who can't name a source. Secondly, the Big Ten doesn't offer invitations to join the conference. Schools actually have to apply. Now they might be offered an chance to apply by the Big Ten...which surely doesn't accept applications just out of the blue.

Big Ten officials, athletic directors, senior women's administrators and coaches from football and men's and women's basketball programs from all member schools will assemble in Chicago May 17-19 for annual meetings. These are routine meetings, but any expansion talk will likely be minimal, as there doesn't seem to be much new to discuss yet.

We're Going to Wait This One Out

Excuse us while we let the Big Ten expansion chips fall where they may. You might have heard a rumbling or two the past few days about 4 schools being offered a formal invitation to join the Big Ten conference. Those 4 rumored schools are Nebraska, Missouri, Rutgers and Notre Dame.

Now while I concur that these 4 schools are great picks, and realistic ones at that, I have yet to see one shred of actual evidence that points to these formal invitations actually being offered to these schools.

This whole mess started from this report from Sports Radio 810 WBH in Kansas City, MO. The article seems definitive, but neglects to name any sources and just uses the typical lingo "sources close to the negotiations..." and "...while nothing can be approved...". We've been seeing reports surface like this one since Jim Delany announced the expansion idea.

Besides, officials at the two Big 12 schools have come out against the report saying that no offer or invitation has been received from the Big Ten.

What seems strange about the report is that only 4 schools are offered - creating a 15 team conference if all 4 agree, which does no favors to the equal divisions argument. The other interesting note is Notre Dame being mentioned. The prospect of Notre Dame joining the Big Ten is about as lucrative as you can get, and if that were to happen, a 16th team could more than likely be found. And if Notre Dame declines and the others agree, a 14-team conference is formed.

But we need more evidence before we declare this an honest story to run with. Right now it's just speculation and hearsay. If we stumble upon something substantial, we'll be sure to post it here. Until then, nothing to see here.

Morgan Trent "Trashed" By Rodriguez? Let's Dig In.

About 16 months ago (sorry, we have a baby on the way, so I speak in months now), this blog took a rather discerning look at the life and times of former Wolverine CB Morgan Trent [link]. I took a full swing at him in one of the most controversial posts I've ever done on this blog. At the time, I felt justified after watching Trent compete in a senior bowl where he adorned his Michigan helmet with a buckeye sticker - which as you might assume did not go over so well here at MBN HQ.

To make a long story short, the post drew a lot of attention, and this blogger took a fair amount of heat for having such strong feelings about a Michigan player who has the audacity to adorn his helmet with a buckeye sticker. I won't go into the specifics, you can read about that here, but lets just say as a Michigan fan who grew up in Ohio, I have a short fuse when it comes to Michigan-Ohio relations.

So fast-forward to present day.

A couple days ago, MVictors dropped a story about a book is being published that is chronicling 4 mid-round draft picks from the 2009 NFL draft. The book is entitled Draft Season. And, you guessed it, Morgan Trent is one of the players followed. provided a snippet of the book regarding Trent. Basically, Lloyd Carr told Trent that Rodriguez was "trashing" him to every NFL scout that he could.
At the end of the book, Deren describes the scene with Lloyd Carr, the former Michigan head coach that recruited Trent to Ann Arbor, breaking the news to Trent that current head coach Rich Rodriguez did him no favors.

“Rodriguez had bad-mouthed him to every NFL scout he could,” Deren writes. “Rodriguez claimed that Morgan was lazy, he had an attitude problem and he was a big reason the Wolverines finished with a 3-9 record…”

Trent admits the words were “jarring,” and they were hard to understand given that he was so serious about his career that he actually moved in with his brother and sister-in-law and their two small children while going to Michigan.

But Trent was also worried about what Carr thought about his words showing up in the book. He talks to him, not Rodriguez.

“I really like Coach Carr. He’s been very good to me,” Morgan says. “I think at first he was wondering, but I let him know it didn’t put him in a bad light. I would never do something like that to Lloyd. He’s great.”

Coyle heard the rumblings, but he didn’t talk to Rodriguez and put more stock in other people close to the Michigan program that had been there before.

“When there is a coaching transition and the team ends up not having success, you have to step back and try to decipher what the truth really is,” Coyle says. “There was a lot of heat on those people and there was some pointing of blame. Plus, the players were somewhat chagrined, so you had to look at everything.”

Coyle had a big edge. He coached Trent at the Senior Bowl and not only was Trent impressed with him two months before he was drafted (“He’s not really a screamer and he seemed like he really cared,” Trent says in the book), but the feeling was mutual. Coyle spent a week with him and was sold on his solid personality and physical prowess. 

Coyle never heard the words of Rodriguez until later and it wouldn’t have mattered.

“I guess it was motivation,” Morgan says of the words that Deren estimates may have cost him $1 million. “(I) want to show people it was all false.”

Consider it done.
So, there is a fair amount of "he said - he said" going on here. As can be seen by Rodriguez's rebuttal [via mgoblog]:
“The comments attributed to me are inaccurate and absolutely ridiculous,” Rodriguez said in a statement. “I said just the opposite about Morgan Trent to NFL scouts and wish him well with the Bengals.”
You have to ask yourself, what could Rodriguez possibly gain by trashing Trent to NFL scouts? Unless he's got a serious problem with Trent and wishes him ill-will, which I just can not see. As Greg from MVictors points out, I'd also like to see with whom the author got this information. Its likely he got it through the grapevine by Trent who got it from Carr who got it from some unnamed NFL scout (or a friend of an NFL scout) who somehow got it out of Rodriguez.

If you ask me, it's not altogether outside the realm of possibility that Rodriguez didn't have the nicest things to say about Morgan Trent. Why? Here's a great example.

If asked his honest opinion of Trent in 2008, the only season Trent played for Rodriguez, I'd be willing to imagine that Rodriguez would struggle to find anything glamorous to say about his departing CB.

The fact is, Morgan Trent was a mediocre cornerback at Michigan. He was a starter because he had the look of a good CB, and at times, acted like one. But by-in-large, he just wasn't all that great...and Michigan, apparently, didn't have any better alternatives.

Brian from mgoblog agrees:
He was not particularly good at football. He badly regressed after a promising junior season. Then when he went to the Shrine Bowl he "struggled," reinforcing the opinion of scouts "already down on him." The reason for this is now obvious: he hated the transition to Rodriguez, probably hated the coach himself, and spent a year half-assing it. The responsibility for this lies with Morgan Trent, even if he was so serious about football he lived with relatives(!). Attempts to deflect it only reinforce the very criticism (possibly) leveled by Rodriguez. It had nothing to do with the quality of the team, as Trent claims elsewhere in the article. A guy from Hillsdale went in the third round this year. The Bengals hadn't even talked to Rodriguez and still waited and waited and waited to take him.

During the very moments when Trent was doing whatever it was that made him a team cancer, Brandon Graham was turning himself into a first-round pick. We have not had any reports on what Rodriguez told NFL scouts about Brandon Graham, but dollars to donuts they were along the lines of "draft this man first overall and ask if he will adopt your kids." The reason Rich Rodriguez would say this is because of the things Brandon Graham did. You see, Rudy?
Brandon Graham steps up to back Rodriguez:
"Coach Rod’s a good coach, and people are just trying to get him in trouble to me," Graham said.
The longer you look at this story, the more BS you uncover. Its pretty clear that there were guys who loved Carr and hated Rodriguez. And then there were guys who liked both and thrived under both administrations. Its a pretty clear the impact of Rodriguez on this program was like oil and water at first. And even today, lingering effects of that marriage are still being contested by certain unnamed newspapers from the greater Detroit area which we will no longer link to from this blog...ever.

Until he finds sustainable success, you will have some bitterness and resentment from all sides against Rodriguez for what he is trying to do at Michigan.

I might be pissing into the wind here, but does it seem like Carr really shouldn't have an office or a position inside the athletic department? Not that Carr is a bad guy or is the source of all this friction, but just his presence alone seems to be a major distraction. You hear reports form time to time about Carr not being happy with Rodriguez, or a former player spouting off about what Carr said about Rodriguez. Those are relatively harmless if the guilty party comes clean, but Carr doesn't. He stays silent. Thus giving these rumors and stories legs.

To me, one athletic department is not big enough for two football coaches with vastly different styles and personalities. Dave Brandon needs to have a sit-down with Carr (as uncomfortable as that will be), and then set the record straight publicly. These clear divisions within the department are a cancer on the program, and will only lead to more stories like Morgan Trent.

Iowa Game Time and TV Set

The 2010 schedule lives here.

The 2010 homecoming tilt against the Iowa Hawkeyes on October 16th will be at 3:30PM and will air nationally on ABC. This is Michigan's 3rd nationally televised game for the 2010 season.

Michigan is 83-26 all-time in homecoming games, and has won 12 of their last 15. Michigan holds a 23-5-3 advantage over Iowa in Ann Arbor.

This will be the first of two straight games in October where the Wolverines will play on national TV. Michigan travels to Happy Valley to play Penn State the two weeks later (separated by a bye week) on October 30th at 8PM on ABC. The 3rd national TV contest is against Notre Dame in South Bend on September 11 at 3:30PM on NBC.

New Unis?

Just came down the pipe on mgoblog [PANIC!], Michigan TE Martell Webb just dropped the following bomb on his Twitter feed [#WorldWideWebb80]:
To My Followers: There will Be New Jerseys For The 2010 Football Season..I Don't really know the details yet.. But I Will Keep you posted.
And then...chaos ensued. Car alarms started going off. Babies started crying. Oil platforms in the gulf started exploding (too soon?). You get the idea. Any mention of new or different jerseys in or around Ann Arbor is easily big enough news to alert homeland security.

The Ann Arbor FBI field office was not available for comment.

Guesses by Brian at mgochaos as to what changes could be made:

  1. Numbers will be replaced with hieroglyphs depicting wolverines in various states of repose, anger, and triumph.
  2. The pants will contain a legend for the hieroglyphs…
  3. …and a treasure map!
  4. Bamboo socks.
  5. One shoulder will have epaulets.
Doing his due diligence, possibly by gunpoint, and keep his loyal subjects posted, Webb tweeted the following about an hour later:
Sorry For The Misunderstanding..I Know A Lot Of People Thought I Meant A New Style Of Jerseys. Its Only New Material That Fits A Lot Better.
Seems all is calm for now. Back away from the edge. You can put your defibrillators back in the closet. There is nothing to see here. material? WHAT NEW MATERIAL? SUEDE, SILK, A HYBRID POLY-COTTON BLEND????? WHAT!?!?!?! DETAILS!!!! AHHGHHGGHH!

Ernie Harwell 1918-2010

In a fight for his life that he knew he would lose, William Ernest Harwell, the voice of the Detroit Tigers has died at the age of 92. [Detroit News Story] About a year ago, Harwell was diagnosed with bile duct cancer. He passed away in the evening of May 4th at his home in Novi, MI.

The city of Detroit, the state of Michigan, and Tigers fans everywhere have lost not only a radio legend, but a friend. Not too often a radio announcer is so beloved by the fans that listened to him. But Ernie Harwell had a certain way about him that transcended the game he called for over 55 years.

Professional baseball today is a mere shadow of what it once was. The so-called "steroid era" has tarnished the game. But even today, Harwell embodied all that was true and honest about America's pastime.

In a rather shocking move in 1990, Harwell's contract with the Tiger's organization was not renewed. Team president at the time, Bo Schembechler, faced very harsh criticism for the decision. He quit the job in 1992 after team owner Tom Monaghan sold the team. New owner Mike Ilitch hired Harwell back to the Tigers in 1993 after Harwell spend the previous season calling games part-time for the California Angels.

In January 2009, the American Sportscasters Association ranked Harwell 16th on its list of Top 50 Sportscasters of All Time. Ernie called his last game for the Tigers on September 22, 2002.

Tonight, this is a Tiger's blog. God bless you Ernie.

Blame No One. Expect Nothing. Do Something.

For the last two seasons, Michigan fans have been waiting. Some patiently...most very impatiently. But since I'm just as much of a fan, but somewhat removed due to my blog and the objective view that I try to maintain, it's tough to really see something for what it really is.

No one will argue that Michigan football has been pretty tough to digest these last 2 seasons. When Michigan hired Rich Rodriguez, some part of me was happy and excited, another part of me what kind of like "really?". But in the end, I made my peace with it. Watching Rich's first press conference the day he was hired, I quickly realized that everything I thought I understood about Michigan football was about to change.

Bo, Moeller and Carr were tough, hard-nosed guys. Real football types. Guys who were schooled in the old style of coaching. To the media, they were tight-lipped. Only the information they wanted you to know is what you knew. If they didn't like the question, they didn't answer it. If you could get a glimmer of a smile from Lloyd Carr, you knew you were alright.

But to their players, these men were giants. Each player would happily go through a brick wall for these coaches. It's no mystery that there is a special bond that is created between great coaches and their players. Ask any of Bo's former players about what kind of man he was. Ask any of them about the lasting lessons that stick with them after all these years. Odds are you'll get some big smiles, and probably a few tears.

Change is tough for a tradition-rich place like Michigan. Let's face it, for the last 40 years or so, we had it pretty good around here. Winning was a way of life. Bowl games were a ritual. Losing 3 times in one year would be considered a down year. Not going to a Rose Bowl was failure.

And then 2008 happened.

It's hard really to describe "how" and "why" Lloyd Carr left his coaching job as he did. Be as it may, we did our best around here to figure that one out. But to this day, I believe there is more to it than we'll ever know. But one thing is for sure: When Lloyd left and Rich was hired, most Michigan fans forgot to do one thing - manage expectations.

Or brace for impact.

Bill Martin, Michigan's AD at the time, was attempting to bring Michigan into the modern era by hiring a coach who was vastly different from the "3-yards and a cloud of dust" style that has become synonymous with Michigan. Clearly, Martin was looking for something new and different. What he got was most certainly that. Rich Rodriguez was nothing close to resembling the much-hyped "Michigan Man" mantra. Rich was from the south. He said "Ya'll" a lot. He was so different from anything we've seen at Michigan since the days of Fielding H. Yost - who was also from West Virginia, by the way.

Rich had to break his ties and his contract from his home-state of West Virginia in one of the ugliest coaching departures ever. He had to refill the cupboards in Ann Arbor which were emptied as soon as he showed up with his spread-option offense that did not fit the mold of the current system or its players. He's had to battle legal disputes in his personal life over some ill-managed real estate ventures. And then of course, the NCAA investigation which has been nothing short of a nightmare for both Michigan and Rodriguez even going back to his West Virginia days.

In short, Rich left anything resembling a "comfort zone" to coach at Michigan. Without really knowing it at the time, he literally jumped head-first into the lion's den.

2009 was a very odd year. The NCAA scandal hit the week before the first game. Rich's job was in question all of the sudden. And then he went on to win his first 4 games of the season in dramatic fashion, silencing his critics for a short while. And then once the meat of the Big Ten schedule hit, the wheels fell off the bus.

For as much as Rich was praised at the end of September, he was vilified by the end of November. Fans were calling for his firing. But Michigan said he deserves one more year to prove he's the man for the job.

I don't think Bill Martin could comprehend at the time that this hire could result in such chaos for his football program. No one thought that all of this would happen. But a perfect storm gathered around Schembechler Hall. Two years into the job the worst possible scenario had been realized: The hire of Rodriguez was a disaster.


That brings us to today. The 2010 season is still months away. Bill Martin is retired, Dave Brandon is the new AD. Brandon has said he fully supports Rodriguez - for now. The entire Michigan fan base is watching with baited breath to see if Rodriguez can pull off the turn-around. I would argue that some fans are hoping for more losses in hope that Rodriguez will be fired.

This fan does not feel that way.

For reasons passing understanding, I am confident that this year will be the year we see the dramatic difference. 2008 was a disaster. At times in 2009 we saw the flashes of brilliance that we were promised when Rodriguez was hired. I think 2010 will be when those pieces finally fall into place.

I'm not saying we're going to go undefeated...not at all. But We should be able to win those games that we're supposed to win, and just like Wisconsin in 08 and Notre Dame in 09...we'll pull off a win or two that would generally be considered unexpected.

We have the rest of the off-season to dive into specifics like "how" and "who", but for now, I'm just typing away at what I think could happen. I have a really good feeling about 2010. I've had that good feeling about this season ever since Rodriguez was hired. I don't know why, but year 3 seemed to make sense to me. Most experts were confident that year 2 would see the rise of Michigan football under Rodriguez, but the scope of change that he's brought to this program will take longer than two years to develop.

Sure, there are a ton of obstacles in the way of success for Rodriguez at Michigan. There will be no shortage of speculation, especially on this blog, about how things will look for 2010. I have many doubts, and I have a lot of hope. Anything can happen. But in the end, we're just a fan blog.

Go Blue.

Do We Really Want Notre Dame in the Big Ten?

Don't answer that question play on the following 4 minute video, and then respond.

This video dropped last week, so apologies for not getting it posted before now. The YouTube description:
Faculty-student video produced by FTT faculty member Ted Mandell and Notre Dame students. Award-winning musician Freekbass brings the funk to Notre Dame. Come on, let's hear it, Irish fans!

"Award-winning" is a term thrown around a lot these days. Comments for the YouTube video have been disabled. SHOCKER!

As you might assume, a parody has already been created [via mgoblog]...

For some reason though, when I think of Notre Dame, I can still only think of one thing...