All Heart

Rudy had heart. He wasn't very good, but he head heart...and they made a movie about him. He played for one play during his college career, and most non-Irish fans will tell you he was most definitely off-sides.

Novak along with teammate Stu Douglass.
Zack Novak also has heart. The difference is, Novak has the talent to back it up. No one is going to make a movie about Zack, but that probably doesn't matter much to him.

Zack Novak often plays the bulk of each game, usually 35 minutes or so. He plays so many minutes for various reasons. First, he can. Second, he had the ability to make everyone on his team better. Third, he had probably the most game experience of anyone on the Michigan team. And finally, no one on the court is going to out-hustle him or play with more heart than he is.

I expected Michigan to hang tough with Minnesota in their game just this last Saturday afternoon. Coming off an absolute heart-wrenching loss to Wisconsin just a few days prior, this Michigan team had a clear choice to make before their final two games of the season. They could fold and just go through the motions the rest of the way, or they could find inspiration from their leader, and play their guts out.

That's what this Michigan team is all about. Heart. They have it in spades. Everywhere you look on this team you see hungry eyes. Even the coaches know it, and it's reciprocated in their emotions about this basketball team.

If you watched their most recent game against Minnesota, then you know what I'm talking about. Down by 1 with just under 2 minutes to play, Michigan needed a bucket. With the shot clock winding down, Darius Morris was looking for a turnaround jumper from the top of the key, but it wasn't there. With just seconds left, Morris kicked it out to Novak who had a look. And as the ball was released and the shot clock buzzer sounded, Zack Novak put his team up for good.

[Videos courtesy of]

But the real reason we're talking about a Michigan win, and not a narrow defeat, is because of the play on the next possession on the defensive end.

Novak made a play that he had no business making. Just watch.

It should go without saying that Morris made a very great heads-up play by slowing down to draw the foul and use his body to shield the block to ensure the and-1. But what a great play by Novak to get the steal first of all, and then see a streaking Darius Morris and get the ball to him in-stride. That's a championship type of play.

We don't cover basketball that much, but that doesn't mean I don't watch. I love watching this team. I can't wait until this Saturday when Sparty comes to Crisler for their season-finale. It's going to be a great game. Sparty may be down, but they'll rise up for this one. But the time is right for Michigan to rein supreme. The shoe is on the other foot now, and this is Michigan's time.

There will be no Big Ten Championship on the line, only pride. Tons and tons of pride. And Michigan has all the heart.

UPDATE: FWIW, Tim Hardaway Jr. has been named the Big Ten freshman player of the week 3 weeks in a row. Take that Jared Sullinger!

Via Big Ten media relations:
Michigan’s Tim Hardaway Jr. earns his third straight weekly award after averaging 19.0 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.0 steals per game while shooting 54.2 percent from the field and 60.0 percent from long range. Hardaway helped the Wolverines to a road win at Minnesota, leading the team with 22 points, marking his sixth 20-point game this season. Against Wisconsin, Hardaway scored 16 points, was 4-for-7 from long range, grabbed four rebounds and dished out three assists. The freshman has scored in double figures in his last 11 games. This marks Hardaway’s fourth weekly award.

Last Michigan Freshman of the Week: Tim Hardaway Jr. (Feb. 21, 2011)

Don't Act Like You're Not Impressed

Yep. Didn't post a thing this week (except this). Sorry for the complete lack of content. We'll try to do better. Until then, check out one of the new motivational quotes being used by Hoke in the Michigan weight room...
232 days from today.

[Image Source]

Mott Spring Game to Air on Big Ten Network on April 16

Odd to be blogging about the spring game on a day when meteorologists expected a couple inches of snow which turned into 10. But such is life in the Great Lakes State. But believe it or not, the spring game is less than a couple long short months away.

Official UM release:
Mott Spring Football Game Slated for April 16 at Noon
ANN ARBOR – The University of Michigan football team will hold its annual spring football game on Saturday, April 16, at noon EST at Michigan Stadium. The Mott Spring Game is the second in a three-year partnership between the athletic department and C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital to help promote the opening of the state-of-the-art women’s and children’s hospital at the University.

“This is a great opportunity to showcase our team and help a worthy cause at the University,” said Hoke. “I was fortunate to be involved with Mott during my first stay in Ann Arbor and this partnership with the athletic department has grown over the years. Laura and I look forward to working with Mott and to continuing the football program’s involvement with the children’s hospital.”

Michigan had two of its largest spring game attendances the past two seasons, netting nearly 35,000 last year and an estimated record-crowd of 50,000 fans at the 2009 spring game.

“We are excited about the partnership with Mott and the football program,” said Athletic Director Dave Brandon. “There’s a lot of excitement around the spring game and this event will serve as the kickoff to Mott’s year-long celebration of the new hospital. The spring game will be a great chance to feature Coach Hoke and his team, and the work that has been on-going at Mott.”

This year’s game will be broadcast live by the Big Ten Network.
An estimated 35,000 fans showed up for the 2010 spring game.
A couple interesting notes. Firstly, the game will air live on BTN at noon. Correct me if I'm wrong, but this is the first time I can remember a Michigan spring game airing live on TV. Secondly, we're adding the "Mott" to the title of the event. I can't remember the spring game ever being branded before. Of course this is for a good cause, and not just a corporate sponsor.

But I have to wonder if an admission charge is in our future. The prospect of 50,000 fans showing up has to create some sort of conversation on some level about a way to cash in. Schools like tOSU charge an admission fee and often average close to capacity numbers. I'm all for a $5 or $10 ticket price just as long as the money goes to somewhere like the Mott and doesn't just get filtered back into the athletic department.

AND...the tickets should just be sold on a first-come first-serve basis and are not offered to season ticket holders first and general public second. Just charge $5 at the door, and let people sit where they want. That's part of the beauty of the spring game. It is and should always be an informal event as far as the crowd is concerned. It's a great event to bring young kids to who might not normally get a chance to see the Big House for a game in the fall. I hope it stays that way.

The Legacy of Rich Rod

This post has been sitting in my cue since the day after Rich was fired. I had been debating on whether or not to post this, but some recent headlines have propelled me to do it. I don't typically write posts like this. I hope you enjoy.

Michigan's new head football coach is just over a month into his career in Ann Arbor. And while I fully support the decision to hire Brady Hoke, and I think he will be very successful, I do have a few problems with the way Rich Rodriguez was ousted. I am left wondering how Rich Rod's legacy will be remembered by the Michigan faithful in years to come.

I've always said that I was a Rich Rod supporter. More times than not I took the supportive role and tried to justify his decisions and defend his processes. It was not an easy task. Michigan football fans have been growing increasingly impatient...especially since our compadres in Columbus have been busy racking up Big Ten titles, BCS bowl games and national notoriety, while Michigan floundered to 3-9, 5-7 and then 7-6.

That used to be us on top of the Big Ten. And if it wasn't us, we were #2...and typically challenging and preventing tOSU from conference superiority.

I like Brady Hoke. I think he's a very good coach, an even better leader of men...and he should be able to right the ship and experience the success that we were promised under Rich Rodriguez.


Sure. I mean look at what Michigan did to get Rich Rod. Bill Martin essentially fired Lloyd Carr, all the while thumbing his nose at the "old guard", and saying to average Joe six-pack Michigan fan that things were going to be different in Ann Arbor. Gone are the days of the "3-yards and a cloud of dust". The Bo Schembechler style of football was dead, and it was time for Michigan to usher in new era. All we needed was a forward-thinking coach who could revamp the Michigan offense into a high-powered yardage-gulping juggernaut.

Enter Rich Rodriguez.

Rich Rod revolutionized modern college football with his spread-option style offense. He was the master-mind behind it. College and high school offenses from California to Florida to New England had adopted his style...or at least a version of it. The key to running an offense like that was having the right kind of athletes to do it. Michigan didn't have very many in 2007. That was just one part of the problem.

Martin wanted a new coach. Most thought Les Miles was the man for the job. Whether or not he was actually offered is a question that may never be truly answered. But what we do know is that Rutgers' Greg Shiano turned down the job.

So in a meeting room in Toledo, OH in mid-December of 2007, Mary Sue Coleman, Bill Martin and Rich Rodriguez sat down for a little chat. Shortly after that, Rich Rod was named the next head coach at the University of Michigan.

I don't really remember my exact thoughts at the time, but I do recall being cautiously optimistic. I remember feeling that this was forced, and that no one was really ready for this. And when Rich spoke at his introductory presser, I knew right away that things were going to be very different, and that a lot of people are going to have a hard time warming up to this guy.

Why? Because he was just different. He wasn't Lloyd. He wasn't Bo. He was an "outsider". His hiring revealed instantly everything that is good and bad about Michigan. The good is that Michigan is a great program steeped in lore and tradition. The bad is that when you tally up all those wins and all that history, you've realize that the expectations for someone not born or raised to be a Michigan coach to come in and pick it all up and make a seamless transition is just not possible.

Make no mistake, the biggest reason Rich Rodriguez was fired was because it was painfully obvious that he just didn't belong in Ann Arbor. His win/loss record was how the firing was justified, but not the reason he was fired when he was. The day David Brandon took the AD job marked the beginning of the end of the Rich Rod era. The heat was proportionally on Rich prior to Brandon on the job, but it was turned way up once an Brandon stepped in.

I said when Brandon was hired that the "old guard" got their man...
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 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.

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 when the clock does run out for Rodriguez, it's going to be Brandon handing him his pink slip.
I feel bad for Rich Rodriguez, I really do. Any new coach is expected to win...that's the point. But Rich Rod was hired to revolutionize the Michigan offense. Plain and simple. And guess what, 3 years into his tenure, he did. Michigan led the conference in many offensive statistical categories...many of which no Michigan team or player had ever even sniffed before, and he did it with basically freshman and sophomores. He recruited and groomed the 2010 Big Ten offensive player of the year in Denard Robinson...who made a case for having one of the best years any Michigan QB had ever had.

But all of those records and achievements didn't equal least not yet. Before the ship had really left the harbor, a mutiny had occurred and the captain was thrown overboard.

It's going to be interesting to see how Rich's legacy is viewed in the years to come. It will be interesting because not many coaches leave Michigan to coach again. So the book on Rich isn't finished yet. I would be willing to bet that Rich will be successful wherever he ends up. And that really concerns me because what is it about Michigan that made a seemingly really good coach look so vulnerable and inadequate almost from the start?  Is it the factions of the fanbase? Is it a disgruntled group of football staffers that just didn't like Rich so they took it upon themselves to sabotage him? Is it the media's fault? Is it the full weight of the "Michigan Man" expectations that Rich could just never live up to?

I'd say it was a combination of all of those.

The one overwhelming thing I keep hearing about Brady Hoke is that he "just get's it". What is "it"? Why is that so damn important to us? Why does a coach have to fit the Michigan mold and not vice-versa? Why was there no room for error with Rich Rod?

Hey look, I agree. Hoke does "get it". I follow the Michigan program very closely and have done so for many years and even I don't really know what "it" is. I don't know what a "Michigan Man" is either. But do I know that Brady Hoke has been accepted by the factions and the guard. And maybe that's all there is to it?

I'd say even more than Hoke getting it, Dave Brandon gets it even more. He realized that Hoke would be the glue that would mend the divisions. It's cliche. And it's an idea that is seemingly very complex and very simple at the same time. It's like the line from the movie Gladiator when Proximo tells Maximus: "Win the crowd, and you will win your freedom." The idea is that Rome is not about Casear or the glory of Rome. It's about the sand on the floor of the coliseum.

I digress. Brady Hoke is probably exactly what the doctor ordered, but he's here in spite of Rich Rod being prematurely run out of town. I won't speculate as to how good or bad 2011 would been under Rodriguez. With the way 2009 and then 2010 ended, that sealed his fate.

All I know for sure is that after watching the Rodriguez tragedy play out over the last 3 years, Michigan is unlike almost any other coaching position in college football. And depending on whether or not you're a "Michigan Man" or if you "get it", that is either a blessing or a curse.

Adventures in Hockey Land

Well, I set out to got the full Yost experience on Saturday night last weekend, and the Yost faithful and the Michigan Hockey squad did not disappoint. What I hoped would be a good game turned into a very good game that saw the Wolverines come out victorious 2-1, earning a well-deserved weekend sweep of the Buckeyes.

Not a bad view, eh?
You can view my full photo gallery here.

I had been to Yost a few years ago as a fan, so I had a little bit of an idea of what to expect. Of course, being a blogger and having a media pass (many thanks to Matt Trevor and the media staff) I had my computer and camera in-tow. A few of my highlights from the night:

• As usual, I got there early. It was fun to see the other folks who were also there early huddled around the few TVs in the main concourse to catch the end of the Michigan basketball game. Put it this way, I was driving down State and listening on WTKA Michigan was up by 20. So when I saw on the screen that Michigan was up by 3 with under 30-seconds to play, I realized quickly why so many people were trying so hard to see the TV.

• I was very surprised to see how close the media sits. I knew that Yost was an intimate venue, but the media are almost literally on top of the ice. The balcony is a great spot to sit. Covering primarily football games, I'm used to sitting far away and being behind thick glass. It was really cool to be so close and have nothing between you and the game.

• It goes without saying, but the fans at Yost are unlike Michigan fans at any other event. They're loud, into the game all the time, and everyone in the building (especially the students) know all the chants, and aren't shy about it. If the crowd at a football game could be half of what a hockey crowd is, it would easily be the hardest venue in college football...easily.

• I really liked the 2nd period intermission "Blues Brothers" band theme song and the dance the student section does. I recall this being done at the Big Chill back in December, but being intermission and being up in the pressbox, I missed it completely. My video from Saturday night at Yost:

• As far as the game itself was concerned, my highlights are probably the same as anyone else. The goals were great. I thought Hunwick played very well in goal...and I had a great view of him for 2 periods. Probably the biggest moment of the game was the 5-minute penalty kill early in the 3rd period for the major misconduct penalty on Chris Brown (which the fans wholeheartedly disagreed with).

• I would be re-missed if I didn't mention that the shooters went 3-for-3 in Score-O! The last one was a little kid who shot from about 10-15 feet out...and when the puck slid under the board and into the net, it might have been the loudest cheer of the night. Okay maybe not, but it was still awesome.

All-in-all, it was a great night. The team played well, the fans brought their A-game, and in the end Michigan earned a sweet weekend sweep of Ohio State. Great event. I hope to get back to Yost again soon.

Liveblog: Michigan Hockey vs tOSU

Who Said What is Going to Experience Yost

Ahhhh, college football in February. Just an avalanche of content lately, I know.

Adventures in hockey-land

Tomorrow, I'm headed to Yost to cover my 2nd hockey game of the season (the first was the Big Chill in December). Obviously, we don't cover hockey very much here, but I thought it would be a cool idea (get it..."cool" to try and see what it's like to experience Yost from a different a member of the media. I'm very excited.

Michigan will be taking on tOSU. They also play tonight. You can catch both games on the Big Ten Network at 7:30. On Saturday, check out our livechat and check me out on Twitter, as I'll be chatting and tweeting all game.

You can't talk Michigan hockey right now without throwing in this video of senior hockey player Louie Caporusso, the love expert, showing you all of the great items in the mgoblue Valentine's Day survival kit.

Tater to Miami.
According to the four-letter network, Tate Forcier has transferred to Coral Gables to play for the Miami Hurricanes.
"Miami had the best opportunity," Forcier told ESPN. "There is so much positive energy around this program and I really want to be a part of it. I love these coaches and feel like they are the right guys for me. I had a great visit and I really want to be a part of the rebirth at Miami."
Is it the "positive energy"? Or is it the fact that Michigan decided to move on to Denard because you basically stopped doing the two things most responsible for being called a "student-athlete"?

I digress. Tate narrowed his college picks down to Kansas State, Washington, Arizona, Miami and Montana. I do wish Tater the best at Miami. He will sit out the mandatory one season per NCAA rules. That means Miami will most likely start senior Jacory Harris next year. and Tate will battle with sophomore Stephen Morris when the two are juniors in 2012.

Speaking of QBs
Word on the street is that Devin Gardner was granted his medical red-shirt for 2010...which is news to my ears. My only hope now is that Hoke doesn't go after too many pro-style QB recruits that could dissuade Devin to transfer. Part of me thinks that if Gardner was going to transfer he would have done it by now. But maybe that's just wishful thinking.

Wojo bits
We all know Bob Wojnowski...either from his sports columns for the Detroit News or from his days as a drive-time sportstalk radio host on the famous Stoney and Wojo show. He recently sat down with Brady Hoke to do a little interview...which we'll get to in a second. But about 29 years ago, he sat down in a Columbus jail cell for a few hours when he was a sports writer for the Michigan Daily. He wasn't visiting the jail to get a story, he (and his photographer) were arrested. It's a good story. MVictors has it.

But getting back to Wojo's Hoke interview, a few interesting quotes.

2011 expectations:
Q. You have 18 starters back next year, including the Big Ten offensive player of the year. I'm thinking an 8-4 record, minimum. What do you think?
A. If we don't win the championship, we failed, period.

Q. Have you looked at your roster closely and assessed how good you could or couldn't be?
A. No. If we don't win the championship, we failed.

Q. So I suppose it's possible then?
A. I wouldn't be here if it wasn't.
About the fractured fan-base:
Q. It's well-documented how fractured Michigan was during Rich Rodriguez's three seasons. Is that part of your task, pulling it together? How will you do it?
A. Same way you do with everything else — you go out and touch people, talk to people, meet people. Shame on us for being fractured, and I mean that.

Q. Have you detected signs of it?
A. It's been pretty good. I haven't been in town as much, but I've heard from guys who played here from all different eras. It just pisses me off that Michigan got to that.

We can't let that happen because at the end of the day, this is about Michigan, period. It's not about the coach, it never should be, or will be. And for us to be a fractured program, that's embarrassing to the memory of Yost and Crisler and Schembechler.
Attrition and using Denard:
Q. Attrition was a big issue when Rodriguez took over. Does that concern you?
A. No, not really. We'll have some because there's gonna be somebody who this is too tough for. And I don't think it'll be because of scheme or schematics. I just think because of the accountability we're gonna have to each other, there'll be somebody who won't quite be able to handle it.

Q. One guy not leaving is quarterback Denard Robinson. Was that an easy sell for you?
A. He's a great kid. When I met with him, he told me, 'Coach, I'm not going anywhere. I want a Michigan degree.' And he fits because of what he can do.

Denard's got a great arm, but he won't have to be featured every down, which makes you a little more dangerous as an offense. And he's not gonna get the crap beaten out of him like at the end of the year. He thanked me for that.

Q. He was so dangerous in the spread. Can he be as dangerous in a pro-style offense?
A. He's a special talent, and coaching defense — that's all I've ever coached — you got a guy like that, it's frustrating when he pulls that ball down and takes off. Michael Vick's made a pretty good living playing a pro-style offense, making something happen.
On rivalries and not saying "Ohio State":
Q. You've referenced often how huge the Ohio State rivalry is. Where do you stand on the Michigan State rivalry?
A. I think it really is the same in a lot of ways. It didn't happen very much when I was here as an assistant, but it's not much fun being on the wrong end of that game.

That's the great thing about Michigan. We have Notre Dame, that's a heckuva rivalry. The Michigan State game, that's an unbelievable rivalry. And on a national scale, Michigan and Ohio, big time.

Q. You always say 'Ohio' instead of 'Ohio State.'
A. Yeah.

Q. How come?
A. (Smiles.) I don't know.

I Can't Help Myself

I was going to post this last night, but thought maybe I should sleep on it and see if I still felt the same way in the morning. Well, I do.

I was pretty interested in the Super Bowl last night. I liked the story-lines of two of the most storied and tradition-rich NFL teams going at it on the world's biggest stage. I was interested in the Michigan players in this game...Charles Woodson, Larry Foote, Ryan Mundy and Lamar Woodley. I was happy to see Woodson win his first Super Bowl. He certainly earned it. And the Packers made the Steelers look pretty average for much of the game.

But when I woke up this morning, I couldn't remember much about the game itself. Not even the final score. All I could remember was this...

I just want to say that, yes, this is a commercial for the Chrysler 200. But what this commercial actually represents is way more. The message is deeper. I kept thinking last night that this is the commercial that Ford or GM have been dying to make, but just never had the balls to. I can honestly say, as a guy who works in the advertising business in Detroit, this 2-minute Super Bowl commercial took serious balls to make.

My hat's off to Chrysler for making this ad. Maybe Ford or GM couldn't have gotten away with an ad like this. Maybe it needed to be the smallest of the Big 3 that needed to speak the loudest...and they sure did it with this ad.

Well done.

This is why, for today only, I'm a Packer Backer

Michigan's 2011 Recuiting Class

Of course things are subject to change, and players can be added or subtracted for various reasons. But here's what the 2011 class looks like as of National Signing Day, February 2nd.

Official recruiting sources: Rivals, Scout and ESPN. And the MBN recruiting board lives here.

Video from 2/2/11 presser:

Bios and stats compliments of UM media relations:

Players by State:
California (1): Matt Wile
Florida (1): Tony Posada
Illinois (1): Chris Bryant
Maryland (1): Blake Countess
Michigan (6): Brennen Beyer, Justice Hayes, Delonte Hollowell, Desmond Morgan, Thomas Rawls, Raymon Taylor
Ohio (7): Greg Brown, Tamani Carter, Frank Clark, Keith Heitzman, Jack Miller, Antonio Poole, Chris Rock
Texas (3): Chris Barnett, Russell Bellomy, Kellen Jones

Players by Position:
Defensive Back (5): Greg Brown, Tamani Carter, Blake Countess, Delonte Hollowell, Raymon Taylor
Defensive End (3): Brennen Beyer, Keith Heitzman, Chris Rock
Kicker (1): Matt Wile
Linebacker (4): Frank Clark, Kellen Jones, Desmond Morgan, Antonio Poole
Offensive Line (3): Chris Bryant, Jack Miller, Tony Posada
Quarterback (1): Russell Bellomy
Running Back (2): Justice Hayes, Thomas Rawls
Tight End (1): Chris Barnett

Currently Enrolled:
Greg Brown
Defensive Back
5-10, 180
Fremont, Ohio (Fremont Ross HS)
Prep … attended Fremont Ross High School (2010) coached by Derek Kidwell … three-year letterman … ran 40-yard dash in 4.45 seconds … Key Statistics … broke-up four passes on defense and scored 10 touchdowns on offense as a senior … registered 30 tackles and five interceptions as a sophomore … Honors and Rankings … No. 54 player in the state of Ohio according to … three-star and the No. 50 cornerback nationally according to … rated as the No. 35 cornerback nationally by ESPN … earned Division I All-Ohio first team as a senior … received all-district honors as a junior and senior …
Personal … Greg Brown was born August 6, 1992 … father played at Iowa … from the same high school as Michigan’s 1997 Heisman Trophy winner Charles Woodson and current U-M football trainer Paul Schmidt … 

Sent In Letter of Intent:
Chris Barnett
Tight End
6-5, 250
Hurst, Texas (L.D. Bell HS)
Prep … attended L.D. Bell High School (2011) coached by Gary OIivo … timed in the 40-yard dash at 4.52 seconds … bench pressed 270 pounds and squatted 555 pounds … had a 32-inch vertical jump … Key Statistics … caught 47 passes for 562 yards and six touchdowns during his career … recorded 71 tackles, including seven tackles for loss and two sacks in prep career … made 22 receptions for 298 yards and scored three touchdowns as a senior … caught 14 passes for 129 yards and two TD as a junior … grabbed 11 receptions for 135 yards and one TD sophomore year … Honors and Rankings … four-star recruit and the nation’s 14th-best tight end according to … listed at No. 224 on the Rivals250… ranked as the 32nd-best player in the state of Texas by … three-star recruit and nation's 16th-best tight end according to … three-star recruit and 20th-best tight end according to …
Personal … Christopher Barnett was born Sept. 26, 1993 … brother, Eryon, plays for Texas …

Russell Bellomy
6-3, 178
Arlington, Texas (Martin HS)
Prep … attended Martin High School (2011) coached by Bob Wager … led team to 10-3 record and Class 5A Division I regional semifinals as a senior … Key Statistics … passed for 1,564 yards and 15 touchdowns as a senior … rushed for 804 yards and scored nine TDs senior year … finished junior season with 1,546 passing yards and 13 touchdowns as well as 436 rushing yards and six touchdowns.… Honors and Rankings …participated at the Elite 11 quarterback camp … three-star recruit according to and … was the No. 4 QB in HSGameTime's Dallas-area top 100 and the No. 61 overall player in Texas according to the Dallas Morning News … listed as the No. 35 quarterback nationally by ESPN … named to the first 4-5A All-District Football team …
Personal … Russell Bellomy was born August 8, 1992 …

Brennen Beyer
Defensive End
6-3, 225
Canton, Mich. (Plymouth HS)
Prep … attended Plymouth High School (2011) coached by Mike Swachuck … led team to an 11-3 record and appearance in the state finals as a senior … started on both sides of the ball final three years … ran 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds … Key Statistics … registered 65 tackles and 12 sacks at defensive end as a senior year… caught 31 passes for 10 TDs as a senior … compiled 45 tackles, nine tackles for loss and nine sacks during his junior season … Honors and Rankings … listed as a four-star recruit and the 12th-best defensive end nationally by … received a four-star grade from and was selected as the No. 24 defensive end in the country … four-star prospect, the 16th-best defensive end nationally and the 201st-best player in the country by … listed as the fifth-best prospect in the state of Michigan by … earned AP all-state honorable mention as a lineman … rated as the seventh-best player on The Detroit News Blue Chip list … listed as the seventh-best player in Michigan according to the Detroit Free Press … named first-team all-conference, first-team all-league, All-Detroit West and All-Metro Detroit as a junior and senior …
Personal … Brennen Beyer was born November 25, 1992 …

Chris Bryant
Offensive Line
6-4, 330
Chicago, Ill. (Simeon HS)
Prep … attended Chicago Simeon High School (2011) coached by Dante Culbreath … helped team post an 11-1 record as a senior … Key Statistics … benched 395 pounds and squatted 420 pounds … had a 24-inch vertical jump … Honors and Rankings … four-star recruit according to and a three-star prospect by and … listed as the No. 19 offensive tackle nationally by … rated as the sixth-best prospect in the state of Illinois and the 203rd overall player nationally by … received three-star rating from and is listed as the 21st-best offensive guard prospect by the service … rated as the 15th-best offensive guard/center by MaxPreps’ Tom Lemming … named to the 2010 Rivals Class 5A-8A All-State team as a senior …
Personal … Chris Bryant was born November 7, 1992 …

Tamani Carter
Defensive Back
5-11, 175
Pickerington, Ohio (Pickerington Central HS)
Prep … attended Pickerington Central High School (2011) coached by Jay Sharrett … led team to 11-1 record, fifth consecutive Ohio Capitol Conference championship and Division I, Region 3 final … ran 40-yard dash in 4.48 seconds … benched 295 pounds and squatted 385 pounds … had a 35-inch vertical jump … Key Statistics … registered 55 tackles and three interceptions during his senior season, two of the three picks were returned for touchdowns … made 25 receptions for over 300 yards as a senior … had 48 tackles, three tackles for loss, five interceptions and four pass breakups as a junior … made six receptions for 107 yards and one TD junior year … caught 17 passes for 329 yards and five TDs as a sophomore … Honors and Rankings … three-star recruit and the No. 60 prospect in the state of Ohio according to … three-star recruit and the 103rd-rated defensive back nationally by … earned first-team all-league, first-team all-district and second-team all-state accolades as a senior … named all-district as a junior …
Personal … Tamani Carter was born September 22, 1993 …

Frank Clark
6-2, 210
Cleveland, Ohio (Glenville HS)
Prep ... attended Glenville High School (2011) coached by Ted Ginn Sr. … ran 40-yard dash in 4.53 seconds ... Key Statistics ... recorded 70 tackles and 19 sacks as a senior ... caught 12 passes, including three for touchdowns, senior year ... Honors and Rankings ... three-star recruit and the 52nd-best player in Ohio according to ... three-star recruit and the nation's 33rd-best tight end according to ... three-star recruit and nation's 83rd-best defensive end according to
Personal ... Frank Clark was born June 14, 1993 …

Blake Countess
Defensive Back
5-10, 175
Owings Mills, Md. (Our Lady Of Good Counsel HS)
Prep … attended Our Lady Of Good Counsel High School (2011) coached by Bob Milloy … played defensive back, wide receiver and kick returner … helped team win back-to-back Washington Catholic Athletic Conference championships … posted a shuttle time of 3.97 seconds and a vertical leap of 37 inches … benched 255 pounds and squatted 395 pounds … Key Statistics … recorded 44 total pass breakups during his high school career … posted 50 tackles and returned one kickoff for a touchdown as a junior … Honors and Rankings … participated in the U.S. Army All-American game … four-star prospect, the No. 10 cornerback nationally according to … listed as the third-best prospect in Maryland and the 131st overall player in the country by … four-star recruit and the No. 14 cornerback prospect nationally according to … four-star prospect and the No. 20 cornerback nationally according to … named to second-team All-American defense in 2010 … earned first-team all-state honors as a senior … second-team Washington Post All-Met selection as a senior …
Personal … Blake Countess was born August 8, 1993 …

Justice Hayes
Running Back
5-10, 175
Grand Blanc, Mich. (Grand Blanc HS)
Prep … attended Grand Blanc High School (2011) coached by Joe Delaney… ran 40-yard dash in 4.45 seconds … Key Statistics … ran 380 times for 2,624 yards and 21 touchdowns during his career … caught 53 passes for 549 yards and five touchdowns in his career … rushed for 230 yards and two touchdowns, along with over 100 receiving yards and one touchdown before dislocating his wrist in the third game of his senior season … rushed 175 times for 1,295 yards and scored 12 touchdowns during his junior season … caught 19 passes for 208 yards as a junior… gained over 1,122 yards on 163 carries and scored 10 TDs as a sophomore … caught 22 passes for 229 yards sophomore season … Honors and Rankings … earned a four-star rating from, and … rated as the nation’s No. 3 all-purpose back and the No. 84 overall player nationally by service … listed as the fourth-best prospect in the state of Michigan by … listed as the 14th-best running back nationally by … listed as the No. 22 running back according to … rated as the third-best player on The Detroit News Blue Chip list … listed as the sixth-best player in Michigan according to the Detroit Free Press … invited to 2011 U.S. Army All-American game prior to suffering wrist injury … earned All-State honorable mention for his junior season …
Personal … Justice Hayes was born November 24, 1992 …

Keith Heitzman
Defensive End
6-3, 237
Hilliard, Ohio (Hilliard Davidson HS)
Prep … attended Hilliard Davidson High School (2011) coached by Brian White … started 41 straight games on varsity … led team to 13-1 mark senior season and only allowed 7.1 points per game … helped team to a 13-1 record and the Ohio Division I state title as a junior … Key Statistics … recorded 13 sacks as a senior … tallied over 60 tackles and 13 sacks while playing defensive end and linebacker as a junior … Honors and Rankings … three-star prospect according to … three-star prospect and rated as the No. 63 tight end nationally by … received a three-star rating and listed as the No. 157 defensive end prospect nationally by … named to the Division I All-State first team as a senior … earned all-Ohio Capitol Central Division honors as a junior and senior … two-time all-district selection … consensus choice for Central District Division I Defensive Player of the Year as a senior … Defensive Player of the Year on the Columbus Dispatch’s All-Metro team …
Personal … Keith Heitzman was born September 1, 1992 …

Delonte Hollowell
Defensive Back
5-9, 170
Detroit, Mich. (Cass Tech HS)
Prep … attended Cass Tech High School (2011) coached by Thomas Wilcher … played cornerback and wide receiver … helped team to a 12-1 record and appearance in the state semifinals as a senior … Key Statistics … registered 18 interceptions during his career … recorded 47 tackles, two sacks and 13 pass breakups as a senior … intercepted seven passes during his junior season … Honors and Rankings … earned a four-star rating and listed as the No. 15 cornerback nationally by … three-star prospect and the No. 25 cornerback nationally according to … listed as the seventh-best prospect in the state of Michigan by … three-star prospect and the 40th-best cornerback nationally according to … earned AP first-team all-state honors at defensive back senior year … earned first-team all-state and all-Detroit Metro honors as a senior … rated as the No. 11 player on The Detroit News Blue Chip list …
Personal … Delonte Hollowell was born May 7, 1993 … from the same high school as current Wolverines William Campbell, Thomas Gordon and Teric Jones …

Kellen Jones
6-1, 215
Houston, Texas (St. Pius X HS)
Prep … attended St. Pius X High School (2011) coached by Jason Kimball … Key Statistics … posted 110 tackles, 32 tackles for loss and eight sacks as a senior … registered 75 tackles, 22 TFLs, six sacks, three forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and one interception as a junior … Honors and Rankings … received a four-star rating and listed as the No. 12 middle linebacker by … three-star prospect, the 29th-best inside linebacker nationally and the 69th-best player in state of Texas according to … three-star and the No. 39 outside linebacker nationally according to … earned first-team all-district and all-state honors as a junior and senior … named district’s Player of the Year as a senior … selected to participate for the U.S. U-19 National Team in U.S. vs. World Team competition affiliated with USA Football …
Personal … Kellen Jones was born February 1, 1993 …

Jack Miller
Offensive Line
6-4, 268
Perrysburg, Ohio (St. Johns Jesuit HS)
Prep … attended St. Johns Jesuit High School (2011) coached by Doug Pearson … played defensive end and offensive tackle … ran 40-yard dash in 4.78 seconds … bench pressed 315 pounds and squatted 475 pounds … had a 30-inch vertical jump … Key Statistics … posted 70 tackles and 15.5 sacks at defensive end senior year … recorded 56 pancake blocks at offensive line as a senior … registered 14 sacks as a junior … Honors and Rankings … listed as a three-star prospect and the No. 53 overall player in the state of Ohio by … three-star and the No. 16 center prospect nationally according to … listed as three-star prospect and the No. 53 defensive tackle nationally by … named to the Division I All-State first team as a senior … awarded Lineman of the Year in his district as a senior …
Personal … Jack Miller was born June 23, 1993 …

Desmond Morgan
6-1, 225
Holland, Mich. (West Ottawa HS)
Prep … attended West Ottawa High School (2011) coached by Jim Caserta … played quarterback and linebacker … Key Statistics … made 72 tackles and forced four fumbles despite missing time as a senior due to injury … passed for 519 yards and five touchdowns and ran for 802 yards and 11 more touchdowns senior year … recorded 120 tackles during his junior season … Honors and Rankings … three-star prospect and the No. 25 overall player in the state of Michigan by … three-star and the nation’s No. 42 inside linebacker according to… listed as a three-star recruit and the nation’s No. 24 inside linebacker by … earned AP all-state honorable mention at linebacker senior season … rated as the No. 17 player on The Detroit News Blue Chip list … named to Grand Rapids Press All-Area team as a senior … selected The Holland Sentinel 2010 Defensive Player of the Year and earned all-area honors as a senior …
Personal … Desmond Morgan was born September 9, 1992 …

Antonio Poole
6-2, 210
Cincinnati, Ohio (Winton Woods HS)
Prep … attended Winton Woods High School (2011) coached by Andre Parker… three-year starter at defense … helped the team to the Division II state title as a junior … Key Statistics … had 80 tackles, 23 tackles for loss and five sacks as a senior … Honors and Rankings … four-star and the nation’s No. 17 outside linebacker according to … rated as a three-star prospect by … listed as the No. 26 outside linebacker and No. 20 player in the state of Ohio according to … three-star prospect and the No. 41 outside linebacker nationally according to … earned AP first-team Division II All-State honors as a senior … Cincinnati Enquirer Divisions II-VI all-area selection as a senior … first-team all-Fort Ancient Valley Conference Buckeye division senior year …
Personal … Antonio Poole was born October 29, 1992 …

Tony Posada
Offensive Line
6-4, 330
Tampa, Fla. (Henry B. Plant HS)
Prep … attended Henry B. Plant High School (2011) coached by Rob Weiner … integral member of team that compiled a 27-2 record and three state championships during his career … team finished as state runner-up his senior season … ran 40-yard dash in 5.39 seconds … bench-pressed 330 pounds and squatted 475 pounds … Key Statistics … part of a dominant offensive line that led to nearly 3,000 yards on the ground during his senior season … Honors and Rankings … three-star and the nation’s No. 45 offensive tackle according to … listed as a three-star and the No. 34 offensive tackle by … received a three-star rating from … second-team all-area selection as a senior …
Personal … Antonio Posada was born March 3, 1993 …

Thomas Rawls
Running Back
5-10, 220
Flint, Mich. (Flint Northern HS)
Prep … attended Flint Northern High School (2011) coached by Fred Jackson Jr. … Key Statistics … carried the ball 150 times for 1,585 yards and scored 19 touchdowns as a senior … rushed for a school record 396 yards against Bay City Central in September 2010 … gained 1,056 yards on 138 carries and scored 16 TDs as a junior … recorded 101 tackles junior year … Honors and Rankings … three-star and the No. 19 overall player in the state of Michigan by … three-star and the nation’s 77th-rated running back according to … received a three-star rating and is listed as the No. 84 running back nationally by … named MVP of the Saginaw Valley Association … rated as the No. 39 player on The Detroit News Blue Chip list … listed as the 15th-best player in Michigan according to the Detroit Free Press … earned all-state honorable mention, all-conference and all-city as a sophomore, junior and senior …
Personal … Thomas Rawls was born August 3, 1993 …

Chris Rock
Defensive End
6-5, 250
Columbus, Ohio (St. Francis DeSales HS)
Prep … attended St. Francis de Sales High School (2011) coached by Ryan Wiggins … ran 40-yard dash in 4.8 seconds … Key Statistics … amassed 15 sacks junior year … recorded 64 tackles and 16 sacks as a sophomore … Honors and Rankings … listed as the No. 69 defensive end nationally according to … three-star prospect and the No. 34 defensive end nationally by … listed as a three-star recruit, the nation’s No. 50 defensive end and the No. 38 player in the state of Ohio according to … AP All-Central District first team selection as a senior …
Personal … Christopher Rock was born July 5, 1992 … from the same high school as senior/junior offensive guard Patrick Omameh …

Raymon Taylor
Defensive Back
5-10, 170
Detroit, Mich. (Highland Park HS)
Prep … attended Highland Park Community High School (2011) coached by Cedric Dertch … four-year letterman … played receiver, tailback, defensive back and returned both punts and kicks during his career … Key Statistics … finished his senior season with 48 tackles and five interceptions … also played running back and wide receiver and recorded 1,000 yards and 14 touchdowns on offense … registered seven interceptions as a junior … Honors and Rankings … four-star recruit and the 14th-best athlete according to … listed as the sixth-best prospect in the state of Michigan by … received a three-star rating and is the No. 49 cornerback prospect nationally according to … three-star recruit and the No. 95 athlete nationally according to … first-team Division 3-4 all-state as a defensive back senior year … rated as the No. 16 player on The Detroit News Blue Chip list … listed as the eighth-best player in Michigan according to the Detroit Free Press
Personal … Raymon Taylor was born July 24, 1992 …

Matt Wile
6-2, 210
San Diego, Calif. (Francis W. Parker HS)
Prep … attended Francis W. Parker High School (2011) coached by John Morrison … Key Statistics … made 10-of-13 field goals with a long of 49 yards and also had 91 of his 101 kickoffs go for touchbacks during his senior season … punted six times for an average of 41 yards and pinned the East team inside their own 20-yard line twice during the U.S. Army All-American Game … converted 9-of-12 field goals with a long of 48 yards as a junior … averaged a touchback on 89.9 percent of his kickoffs junior year … Honors and Rankings … rated as the nation’s fourth-best kicker by … listed as the No. 44 kicker nationally by … two-star prospect according to … named to the Small Schools All-American Team as a junior and to the services Sophomore All-American Team …
Personal … Matthew Wile was born June 20, 1992 … his father, grandfather, great-grandfather and great-great-grandfather all attended U-M Medical School … father, Dr. Peter Wile, is the team physician for the San Diego State Aztecs …

Rich Rod Interviews Brady Hoke (Video)

And yes, it is a little awkward. Via CBS Sports coverage of National Signing Day [Link]:

Rodriguez: UM was going to be 'exponentially' better next season

Via a short AP news piece posted on the DetNews website:
New York -- Rich Rodriguez says the most frustrating part of being fired after three seasons as Michigan coach was that he thought the worst days were behind the program and the Wolverines were going to be "exponentially" better next season.
I guess this sort of comment is expected from a passionate coach who was fired before he felt he was fired prematurely. Part of me feels he's just saying that to maybe somehow get back at Brandon for firing him...but the reasonable side of me thinks he's probably right.

But what makes this story interesting is the shot he took at Dave Brandon.
Rodriguez told The Associated Press that the timing of his dismissal was far from ideal for him, his players and staff, and had it been done earlier he might already have a new job. 
That probably goes without saying. The only reason you say that, publicly, is because your bitter and feel resentment for whats been done to you. But since when is it "ideal" to fire a head coach? I would say that the check he received from Michigan for $2.5 million dollars for his buyout will help keep him warm through the winter.

The frustrating thing going forward for 2011, will be trying to figure out if Michigan would have been better or worse with Rodriguez rather than Hoke. I think that ultimately Hoke is going to have much more lasting success at Michigan than Rich Rod would have...but 2011 is the wild card.

Who Said What is Feeling Nostalgic

Note: "Who Said What" is our periodic rundown of news and links that I find interesting enough to post here (with some YouTube videos sprinkled in for fun). There are a lot of very talented bloggers/writers out there who cover Michigan sports. These posts are to try and promote their hard work and get more people to visit their sites. Hope you enjoy.

They come and they go, Hobbs. They come and they go.

John Falk is awesome.

I love this video.

Somehow the hiring of Brady Hoke has sparked my inner-nostalgic Wolverine. No place better to share that than right here.

Goddamn I love Michigan.

Not gonna lie. We don't cover recruiting much.
Actually, not much at all. We leave the heavy lifting to the experts. Yes, Michigan has had some nice recruiting classes through the mid-2000s. We even did modestly well from 2007 through 2010. Yes, we have very little to show for it. So much so that Dr. Saturday has named Michigan the 2nd most underachieving college program.
The recruiting cycle in question opened with Appalachian State's apocalyptic upset over the fifth-ranked Wolverines in the Big House, only the first of many plagues the Wolverines endured in the Great Tribulation that followed a serious national championship run in 2006. A combination of injuries and massive attrition undermined Michigan's continued presence at the top of the Big Ten recruiting charts under Rich Rodriguez, who presided over multiple losses to middling recruiters Illinois, Iowa, Michigan State, Purdue and Wisconsin, on top of losses to Utah and Toledo in 2008 and the Gator Bowl flop against Mississippi State that sealed his fate earlier this month.

On paper, the Wolverines ranked right alongside Ohio State as the most talented team in the Big Ten throughout Rodriguez's tenure. In reality, they turned in losing records to everyone in the league except bottom-dwellers Minnesota and Indiana. If not for the Fighting Irish, convenient victims of early, reaffirming Michigan wins three of the last four years, there would be no positives to speak of.
#1 on their list, you ask? Our good friends from South Bend. Filling out the top 5 are ND, Michigan, UCLA, Texas A&M and FSU.

mgoblog responds.
Hurray! In Michigan's case the underachieving is due to massive attrition, a change in program philosophy, the program delightfully eating itself alive, and the dumbest hiring decision in the history of the world. Notre Dame had a decided schematic advantage.

The rest of the lame are UCLA, Texas A&M, Miami, and FSU. Unsurprisingly four of these teams have changed coaches in the last two years. UCLA is going to have a hard time not firing Neuheisel next year, leaving A&M the only school that may be able to dig out under the current leadership.
Spot on? Yeah.

"Impossible Expectations" for Forcier?
Speaking of spot on. The Wolverine Blog took apart a recent article which claimed that Tate Forcier had "Impossible Expectations" that he had to endure while in Ann Arbor. His thoughts are much more thought-out and well said than mine are. But my take on Forcier is this...

Tate came to Michigan with the expectation that he wanted to be the QB for Michigan, no matter who else was going to be here. Tate is a competitor, and he has great ability, no doubt about that. But unfortunately, when the 2009 season took a nose-dive, Tate's swagger and confidence took a nose-dive with it. Once that was gone, Tate's immaturity was exposed and he suffered because of it.

What we know now is that Tate basically just stopped trying in his classes, and also just stopped trying on the practice field. We all remember "Wing-gate" last summer. Turns out that was a much bigger deal than we originally reported.

Tate has a lot of growing up to do, that is clear. But impossible expectations? We had just come off a season with Nick Sherridan and Steven Threat. I'd say expectations were at an all-time low. 2007 expectations for Henne, Hart and Long? Now THOSE are expectations.

Old 98, Tom Harmon is Big Ten Icon #5.

Via MVictors. The show will air on BTN at 2:30 on Super Bowl Sunday, so put on some Ro-Tel dip and tune in. The man earned a standing ovation in Columbus (see image above). That's gotta be worth about a million Big Ten Icon points, right?

As usual, Greg finds a great story.
It was in high school that Harmon also settled on the famous 98 jersey.  The stories differ, even in the Harmon family.  Basically it goes something like this:  Tom was a freshman on his high school team and he got in trouble with the coach for chewing gum and blowing bubbles.  (Some versions have him being sent to the locker room to take off a jersey he’s already wearing.   In others he’s not wearing a jersey at this point).   As a sort of punishment, he’s asked to return kick-offs against the varsity and of course no one can catch him.    The coach, seeing his brilliance, asked him to go grab a uniform.  Young Tom picked out the best available gear in the locker room and returns to the field.  The coach noticed that Harmon chose the jersey number of the star running back and sent him back to the locker room to pick out something else.  All Harmon can find is a dingy #98 jersey in the corner and he threw it on.   He embraced it.
The nostalgia continues, this time in child form.

Twitter is evil good. Evil.
 Anyone who follows any number of Michigan media and/or FB players who happened to be online when Stu Douglass hit that 3 pointer at the end of the MSU game were treated to quite a spectacle as just about everyone on my feed tweeted "STUUUUUUUUUUUU!!!". It was quite something.

The WLA would like you to believe that Twitter can be used for good (see: @bacari34), but can also be used for evil. Sometimes just plain stupid. But it's always entertaining. Don't believe me? Follow me. Now.