Sunday, October 16, 2011

Whine and Cheese are back at the Big House

Gee.  It's been a great season so far.  All of the bandwagon-jumpers came back.  The Maize and Blue were doing great, and it even looked like an undefeated regular season was possible with a few breaks.  Then, Sparty temporarily derailed Michigan's season, mostly due to their chronic and intentional dirty play causing Michigan to lose their poise. 

So, what happens next?  Many of the same "Michigan fans" that bitched about Rich Rod for three years and was so happy to get a "Michigan Man" as a head coach are now BITCHING ABOUT BRADY HOKE AFTER ONE LOSS.

What a classless bunch of morons.  What do you expect out of your football coach?  What do you expect out of your players?  The fifth-year seniors on this team have played for three head coaches, three offensive coordinators, and four defensive coordinators.  The fourth year seniors have played for two head coaches, two offensive coordinators, and three defensive coordinators.  

Michigan has changed coaches almost as much as American Idol has changed judges.  I said this about Rich Rod, and I'll say it about Brady Hoke: you can't really judge a head coach for five years because he has to have a fifth-year senior class filled with his own people.  If you don't believe me, maybe you can believe the original source of the statement: Bo Schembechler. 

I know that, so far, the whiners are a very small percentage.  Even one is one too many.  Brady Hoke is the head coach.  Most of you who were whining about RR wanted Brady Hoke as the head coach.  Don't you think one loss is a little bit early to start whining about they guy you wanted in the first place?

Please, people: grow up.  Pretend you have actually watched college football before.  Pretend that you have the class Michigan fans are supposed to have.  I just said it, but it bears repeating: Brady Hoke is the head coach.  He is deserving of your support.  Period.  No ifs, ands, or buts.  Mostly, though, no whining.  Please.

Sparty Shenanigans

 We've all seen the video of William Gholston's disgusting attempt to dislodge the cervical vertebrae of Denard Robinson.  We have all seen his punch to the head of Taylor Lewan.  We all saw Sparty's six personal fouls against Michigan.  We have all seen Sparty DC Pat Narduzzi's quote that they "try to do...sixty minutes of unnecessary roughness."

The bottom line here is that William Gholston should be suspended for the rest of the year, and Pat Narduzzi should be suspended for the rest of the year and then fired.  Both player and coach are against everything the NCAA supposedly stands for.  Will the seedless NCAA do anything?  Maybe.  Will the punishments be enough?  Of course not. 

The NCAA talks big, but at the end of the day, they allow thuggery such as that of Gholston and Narduzzi as long as nobody gets arrested.  Since the violations happened in East Lansing, the chances of that are extremely slim.

I wish David Brandon would put his money where his mouth is, get off his butt, and file a complaint with the East Lansing police about Gholston's attack on a helpless Denard Robinson after the play.  Gholston deserves jail time for this mugging.  Robinson could have been paralyzed for life if things had gone wrong.  Denard Robinson deserves better.  College football deserves better.

Friday, June 17, 2011

An Open Letter to the NCAA

To the NCAA Enforcement Committee:

For years, you have been seen by your myriad critics as toothless hypocrites.  You have a history of talking big and acting small.  You are quick to accept self-imposed penalties and show your "power" by adding something minor onto them.  But when it comes to programs that stonewall, lie, or intimidate potential witnesses into silence, such as the Ohio State University, you usually do nothing. 

You had a chance to punish the Ohio State University once, in 2004, when Maurice Clarett was seen on television by millions of viewers.  You may remember it; he told ESPN how he had received free cars, "escorts," "tutors" who not only did his classwork but took his tests for him, and "golden handshakes" from well-heeled boosters. 

You then "investigated" the Ohio State University, but "found nothing."  You scheduled Clarett to testify before the committee, but elements within and around the program who often like to refer to themselves as the "sacred brotherhood" intimidated Clarett into silence.  Actually, they intimidated him so badly that he ended up going to jail when caught driving with the weapons he had purchased for self-protection.  But I digress.

You told the public that Clarett's appearance on television didn't count as evidence, and that you had no evidence to proceed with a case against the Ohio State University.  To those in Columbus, you appeared to be fair and just.  To the other 98 percent of the football world, you appeared to be idiots. 

Anyone who was paying attention to what was happening at the Ohio State University knew that there was both systemic and systematic cheating going on, but you chose to bury your individual and collective heads in the sand.  You chose to allow the Ohio State University to not only get away with cheating, but to continue their actions with no consequences.

Whenever compliance is publicized, you are always sure to mention that self-reporting is the very backbone of your entire code of ethics: that without it, the system doesn't exist.  When the Ohio State Univesity started reporting numerous "minor" violations on a yearly basis, you chose to interpret it as evidence that the Ohio State University was serious about self-reporting.

In truth, though, the Ohio State University's behavior is and has been antithetical to the entire concept of self-reporting.  When two players were interviewed this year about violations and admitted to many, they were silenced by the "sacred brotherhood" within twenty-four hours of speaking.  They tried to recant their stories, but both had been taped, one in a courtroom. 

There are many more examples of the stonewalling, lying, and tampering with potential witnesses that routinely happens in Columbus, but you already know of them.  This does, however, lead me to the real problem here: as long as you continue to reward programs that refuse to fully cooperate with investigations, those programs are going to continue to lie, stonewall, and tamper with potential witnesses.

You cannot insist that self-reporting is the backbone of NCAA ethics when you punish programs that self-report worse than the programs that don't cooperate.  If a school is punished for cooperating and rewarded for dragging its feet, what motivation does that school have to cooperate with any investigation? 

How can you expect a school to display ethics under those circumstances when unethical behavior is the reason they are being investigated in the first place?

The only way you are going to clean up the NCAA is to punish programs that don't cooperate more severely than those that do.  Otherwise, unethical programs, including but not limited to the Ohio State University, the University of Southern California, Oregon, Alabama, and Auburn, will continue to cheat because the reward for cheating and refusing to cooperate with the subsequent investigation is greater than the punishment for getting caught. 

In the case of the Ohio State University, you have a chance to fix all of this.  You have an opportunity to show programs that lie, stonewall, and tamper with your potential witnesses that they will no longer be rewarded for doing so.  The first thing you must do is to utilize recorded interviews by third parties such as the media as evidence in your investigation.  The burden of proof isn't the same as it is in court because your members agree to abide by your rules and accept punishment according to your judgement.

It has been shown in the past, and shown again in the last two months that anyone who threatens to expose the Ohio State University's cheating to the NCAA recieves threats on their own personal well-being, including death threats, and subsequently refuse to testify before the committee.  Therefore, if you want to get to the truth, you will have to accept testimony outside of the committe as evidence.  Taped interviews will have to count as testimony before the committee, because nobody who has been threatened with death is going to physically testify before your committee. 

Then, you need to give the Ohio State University the worst punishment ever given to a school.  If they want to threaten potential witnesses with death, it is very appropriate to give their football program a two-year death penalty.  Also, you should make the Ohio State University forfeit every game they have played since those in which Maurice Clarett admitted he was ineligible. 

I seriously mean forfeit: not vacate.  Vacating games does nothing to reimburse teams who were cheated out of victories in those games by teams who used ineligible personnel.  That is why every team that played against the Ohio State University and their ineligible players should recieve credit for a win in every game they played against them. 

For the last part of their punishment, you should sentence the Ohio State University to ten years of probation and allow them no more than fifteen scholarships a year during that time.  The only way to deter other schools from cheating is to punish the Ohio State University so badly that other schools know you are now serious about enforcement.  Anything less will only empower schools that cheat. 

Your bottom line is this: you can continue to be a major part of the problem or you can decide to be a major part of the solution.  The Ohio State University has reaped huge profits from their cheating for the last ten years.  It is time for them to make restitution. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

How Many Christmases can I Stand in One Year?

THE scandal at THE Ohio State University just keeps getting better and better.  There seems to be one or two bombshells related to the investigation into their systemic and systematic cheating every week now.  Last week, Jim Tressel quit.  Then, George Dohrmann (rhymes with "George Foreman") finally released an article in Sports Illustrated with evidence that 28 players have hung out at Ed Rife's tattoo parlor, and that they regularly were provided with free drugs, alchohol, food, and apparently whatever else they wanted.

The next day, as Dohrmann was being interviewed by Dan Patrick, Patrick asked if there is "more."  Dorhmann, in a voice that sounded like the most attractive woman in the world had just texted him with amourous intent, said three simple words: "Yeah, there's more."  Then, ex-Ohio State player Ray Small said in an interview with the student newspaper, The Lantern, that "everybody was doing it" when he played there.  Of course, the "sacred brotherhood" contacted him and he tried to backtrack.  Since The Lantern recorded the interview, though, it was a little late to lie.

It was a great week, but following college football now is like watching the Daytona 500: it's a great spectacle, but we are always waiting for the "big one" to happen.

Fast forward to this week.  Tuesday, it was annoucned that Jim Tressel sent 77 texts to Pryor's "mentor" Ted Sarniak over a thirteen month period, provinig that he did know what was going on.  Tuesday night, we heard that Terrelle Pryor will no longer be playing at THE Ohio State University.  Then, the "bombshell" dropped that an ex-friend, who Pryor angered and alienated when, according to the ex-friend, he "became more arrogant," had just told ESPN that Pryor made between $20,000 and $40,000 in 2010 alone selling autographs and paraphenalia. 

Then, Sports by Brooks broke the story that the a freelance photographer and a businessman who sells paraphenelia on E-Bay wrote checks to Pryor and that he deposited them in his personal bank account.  Then, we found out that the photographer was told to disassociate himself from the program sometime last year. 

What all of this has done is to show beyond any doubt that the Ohio State University administration and coaching staff knew about all of the cheating, and that they covered it up.  Then, to make things worse, they lied to the NCAA and to Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delaney about what was going on, and then lied about their knowledge of what was going on.

The Ohio State University is the most corrupt program that we have seen since SMU recieved the death penalty in 1987.  The effect of the penalty was so bad that SMU didn't field a team the following year, either.  The Ohio State University deserves the death penalty, but it is well-known that the NCAA doesn't want to ever use it again. 

Since the NCAA won't give THE Ohio State University the death penalty they so richly deserve, they should at least wipe the entire Jim Tressel era out of the record books.  They actually deserve to forfeit all of the games, but under the current guidelines, the NCAA only makes teams vacate them.  

The Ohio State University also deserves ten years of probation with a loss of fifteen scholarships a year.  Let them sign ten players a year and fill the rest of the team out with walk-ons.  They deserve to be on television, though.  Let THE Ohio State University field terrible, undermanned teams on national TV as a reminder of what happens to cheaters when they get caught. 

The Ohio State University fanbase wanted Michigan to get the death penalty over 15 minutes of stretching.  Let them apply their own standards to themselves.

What's really funny about this is that the worst isn't over yet.  I would imagine that the IRS is now very interested in Terrelle Pryor and anyone who wrote him a check.  I would imagine they are now very interested in any other player who may have cheated.  Brent Musburger once said that when the local media get involved in investigations concerning NCAA rules, "it's all over."  He was partially correct.  When the IRS and/or FBI get involved, it's really over.

I just hope the NCAA punishes THE Ohio State University so severely that it sends a message that schools will no longer profit from ignoring the NCAA rulebook.  THE Ohio State University gained an unfair competitive advantage over the rest of the Big Ten for the entire Jim Tressel era becuase recruits signed up knowing that they would recieve a lot of "perks." 

For years, OSU has stonewalled investigators, denied everything, and their toadies have made death threats toward those who wanted to come forward with the truth.  Everyone was afraid to "rat out" the "Sacred Brotherhood."  The Scarlet Wall of Silence and Denial reigned supreme in Columbus.  Finally, though, they found out that you can't hide the truth forever.  They also found out that you can't intimidate everyone into silence. 

And college football is much better off for it.

I just wonder what goodies will be under the tree next week for the continuation of "Christmas in June."

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The First Domino Falls in Columbus

Finally, after months of stonewalling, Ohio State University, the second-most corrupt program in college football decided that keeping Jim Tressel was a untenable position.  Of course, it was called a "mutual decision," but we all know what that really means.  The impending release of a Sports Illustrated article detailing a ten-year pattern of abuse in Columbus was apparently too much of a potential public relations disaster to justify keeping him. 

Reaction from the Columbus faithful is predictable, but it is the agreement of the national media that is most disturbing.  Tressel is being portrayed as a "man of integrity who made one mistake" because he was "protecting his students."  Now, just as OSU began to distance themselves from Jim Tressel, they are distancing themselves from Terelle Pryor.  Pryor is actually being scapegoated by many of the Columbus faithful as "The Player Who Brought Jim Tressel Down."

Former players and even fellow head coaches are all rushing to Tressel's defense, praising his integrity and talking about how "tragic" this entire "isolated episode" is.  Counting his tenure at Youngstown State University, Jim Tressel has engaged in over twenty years of systematic abuse of NCAA rules.  Twenty years of abuse does not constitute an isolated incident.  Tressel's sycophants can blame Terelle Pryor all they want, but all Terelle Pryor did was take advantage of a system set up by Jim Tressel. 

Terelle Pryor didn't bring Jim Tressel down; Jim Tressel brought Jim Tressel down.

But Jim Tressel, who has said he lied to the NCAA to "protect his players," is now allowing those very players to be thrown under the bus by Gordon Gee, Gene Smith, and the "sacred brotherhood" of those who have played and coached at Ohio State.  If Jim Tressel is "all about protecting his players," then why hasn't he made a public statement asking fans not to blame Terelle Pryor for everything, as many are now.

The Ohio State way is to lie, deny, rinse, and repeat.  Over and over and over.  Terelle Pryor was just one what will probably turn out to be over 200 players who accepted illegal benefits over the length of Tressel's tenure in Columbus.  They got incredibly lucky when the "Olentangy Mafia" got to Maurice Clarett before he could talk to NCAA investigators.  Really, though, what is happening right now should have happened in 2004. 

Numerous media outlets have documented all of Tressel's abuse, dating back to his early years at YSU.  Despite the blatherings of OSU fans and media shills that the entire affair is about tatoos, and therefore trivial, the tatoos are only the most visible aspects of a culture of corruption.  It seems that if the media has its way, Terelle Pryor and tattoos will become the symbols of the "tragic downfall of a good man."  It's time for someone in the National media to call "bullspit."

It's time for someone in the national media to hold Jim Tressel responsible for his actions.  George Dohrmann's article is a great start, but he needs some support here.  George Dohrmann is a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer.  He was quoted as saying that he investigated Tressel becuase the Columbus media refused to do so. 

The Columbus media has long been reduced to mere shills for all things Ohio State; that is so self-evident as to be expected.  But the national media does not need to follow the lead of the sycophants who masquerade as "sports writers" in Columbus.  Fellow writers at Sports Illustrated and a few from Yahoo agree with Dohrmann's conclusions.  The main problem is that nobody on television is standing up and holding Jim Tressel responsible for his own actions. 

Television still influences more people than any other medium, and somebody has to strike a blow for honest journalism here.  Hopefully, the current allegations are just the beginning of a torrent of abuses coming to light.  Anyone who follows sports with open eyes knows that tattoos are trivial compared to what is really going on in Columbus. 

Maurice Clarett's allegations of golden handshakes, free cars, "hostesses" from local strip clubs, and "tutors" to relieve players of the teidum of things like attending class and doing classwork were correct.  It was only death threats from the "Olentangy Mafia," an absurd NCAA loophole, and the Scarlet Wall of Silence that kept Ohio State from the consequences they so richly deserved concerning Clarett's allegations.

Now, Terelle Pryor is slated to be the "rogue" and the fall guy.  The OSU administration will try to make it appear as if Terelle Pryor walked into a compliant program and ruined it with his greed.  It reality, though, Terelle Pryor is one of as many as 200 greedy players who have played at Ohio State. 

The only difference between Terelle Pryor and almost every player who has ever donned the Scarlet and Gray is that Terelle Pryor is so stupid and arrogant that he made it obvious that something was going on.  Pryor's ego made him see himself as "untouchable," and he flaunted his illegal benefits with a feeling of utter impunity.  On an ethical football team, one that tries to turn young men into upstanding citizens who make a contribution to their communities after graduation, it would be the coach's job to keep Terelle Pryor's ego in check. 

And this begs a question: where was Jim Tressel while Terelle Pryor's was drowning in his own ego?  Where was the guidance that a coach is supposed to give a teenager to help him grow and prosper after the cheers have faded?  And where is Jim Tressel right now as Terelle Pryor is getting thinly-veiled death threats on his twitter page?  Jim Tressel is apparently in the same place as his integrity: nowhere to be found. 

There will be more.  Tattos may very well be the enduring symbol of the Tressel saga, but they will only be the most superficial aspect.  While my predictions of the fall of the Scarlet Wall of Slience may have been premature, it has definitely been breached.  The "sacred brotherhood" and "Olentangy Mafia" are going to shut up a lot of people, but they can't get to everybody.  The system of abuse has had too many casualties over the years, and too many of those casualties still have an axe to grind.

If only one or two players or ex-players tells the truth to the NCAA, the entire system of illegal benefits and denial of those benefits will crumble.  And it will be just desserts for a university that his thrived for at least ten years by blatantly abusing the system set in place by the NCAA to ensure fair competition.  As for those "dominoes," I would expect Gene Smith and Gordon Gee to follow their friend Jim Tressel out the door shortly. 

It sure is a fun time to be following college football.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Trending now...

I use Yahoo as my default home page on one of my browsers.  In the upper right hand corner is a feature called "trending now," which tells you the top ten searches for whatever period of time they are using.  Here is what I see as "trending now" in Michigan sports.

Michigan is killing little brother in recruiting.

In basketball, the relationship between Michigan and MSU is more obvious, because it is sometimes possible to win a National Championship with solely instate recruits.  Basically, in basketball recruiting, what is good for Michigan is bad for MSU and vice-versa.  In football, though, it's a little more complicated.

Michigan has a great name and Michigan can recruit nationally.  They are strong in Florida now, and have traditionally gotten a few great players out of Texas.  Ohio has also treated Michigan very well over the years.  For Michigan State, though, instate recruiting is their bread and butter.  If they don't recruit the state of Michigan extremely well, they are terrible.  Sometimes, they are terrible anyway. 

Basically, Michigan is in a position where every kid they get from Michigan is not only an asset, but a player who doesn't go to MSU.  When Michigan gets the best instate recruits, it sucks the lifeblood from the MSU program.  As of right now, Michigan is ahead of MSU 6-0 for instate recruits who recieved offers from both schools.  That's right: Michigan is pitching a shutout agaisnt MSU.

Predictably, MSU message boards are melting down over Michigan's trouncing of MSU in recruiting.  They are making every excuse in the book, from "scum is using firesale tactics to get kids to sign," to "the 20th best player in Ohio is better than the 4/5th best in Michigan this year." 

 I have a feeling the meltdowns on RCMB have just begun...

Where's Waldo?

At the Big Ten meetings, Gordon Gee, Gene Smith, and Jim Tressel have been hiding from the media.  Commissioner Jim Delaney is beginning to disassociate himself from them, and his latest comments are a subtle form of "throwing them under the bus."  It is obvious that Delaney no longer supports any of them, and will be full of his typical pompous, self-righteous statements when Tressel is finally fired and TSIO is finally punished.  I can't wait.

You Stay Classy, Now...

The WTKA "Mott takeover" day collected the most money for Mott Children's Hospital that they ever have.  It was a banner day, and one that should have been reserved solely for celebration.  However, a few former Michigan players and coaches decided that they had to badmouth the previous coaching staff.  This is NOT what being a "Michigan Man" is all about. 

No matter what their personal feelings, the ex-players and coaches need to realize that they can be supportive of the current staff without dumping on the previous one.  My feelings about the entire "process" are on record, and I won't reprise them here.  Really, though, no matter what your feelings, anyone who is representing the University of Michigan should be intelligent enough and have enough class to take the high road.

When former Michigan players make the kind of comments that many made last Friday, it reminds me of a bizarre Hostess Twinkie: Maize and Blue on the outside, but Spartan Green on the inside.

Shame on anyone who made deragatory comments about the previous staff when they should have been celebrating what is good about the University of Michigan.  If Bo was still alive, he would remind them that they are better than that.  Sadly, he isn't, and the moral compass of the program is temporarily MIA.  I hope someone fills the void soon, or Michigan will be just another college football program, but with more wins.

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Plot Thickens...

Finally, as I had suspected all along, there is confirmatin that Lloyd Carr had something to do with "transfer-mania" in 2008.  Ryan Mallett's father has told the media that Carr advised Mallett to transfer when Rich Rodriguez was hired.  Of course, it's OK because Carr, who graduated from NMU, is a "Michigan Man," while RR "wasn't."  And now, Brady Hoke, a BSU grad born in Ohio, is celebrated as the consummate 'Michigan Man" in the media.   

That begs a rather obvious question:

What the fuck does the "Carr-tel" think a "Michigan Man" is?  Do they think a "Michigan Man" is someone who puts his own agenda ahead of "his" school?  Do Carr and his minions think it was OK to sabotage the University of Michigan's football program for three years, only to be welcomed back with open arms and given their way when one of "their own" was hired?

Why isn't Lloyd Carr being held responsible for this?  Why doesn't anyone remember that it was Carr on the sidelines for the first four losses in the seven-game streak to Ohio State?  Why doesn't anyone seem to remember that it was Carr's terrible coaching in a four game streak that ruined two potentially great seasons that caused Bill Martin to "retire" Carr in the first place?

Does he really think his team's utter inability to beat truly elite teams and his embarassing losses to Ohio State, USC, Appalachian State and Oregon in succession entitled him to name his successor?  Or that he should have been totally exempt from criticism when he misused his power to sabotage his successor? 

Lloyd Carr was still on the payroll of the University of Michigan while he was sabotaging the program.  He should have to pay back every penny he earned during that period.  Better yet, he should donate it to Mott Children's Hospital. 

For what it's worth, I don't fault Brady Hoke for taking the job.  He was in San Diego, coaching his team and doing his job, when he got the "offer he couldn't refuse."  He interviewed for his dream job and got it.  Hoke is to be commended.  Greg Mattison should also be commended for coming back.  Neither had anything to do with what happened in Ann Arbor the last three years.  The people I have a problem with are the ex-players, ex-coaches, and boosters who worked so hard to get Rich Rodriguez fired. 

Michigan had better hope Brady Hoke succeeds beyond any vision they had for him.  If he doesn't, the Carr-tel and their followers will be exposed as being exactly what they stereotyped Rich Rodriguez as being: ignorant, dishonest hillbillies who think nepotism is the only legitimate reason to hire anyone.

Hoke and Mattison are exempt.  They were far too busy with their own teams to take part in Carr's assassination of RR's character and sabotage of the University of Michigan football program.  Hopefully, they can bring the program back.  It will certainly be easier now that nobody is actively sabotaging it from within.

Now that some sabotage has been documented by a player's parent, it's really not a question anymore that Carr was actively sabotaging the program he professed to love and the school that was signing his paycheck.  The only question now is one of extent.  How much sabotage did Carr get away with while collecting UM paychecks? 

Wouldn't it be ironic if it turned out that it was Carr, whose system of counting practice hours was the one RR inherited in the first place, was the one who suggested the story to Michael Rosenberg?

I'm not saying that it happened that way, but I am saying that it certainly is possible.  I'm certainly not holding my breath waiting for Lloyd Carr to come clean.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Grab bag for "silly season."

For college football and basketball fans, it's now time for the equivalent of NASCAR'S "silly season." That's when there are no actual events, but owners and drivers move around, and the rumors run rampant. In college sports, the months from April through August are sorta like that. Here are a few topics for discussion.
Doom for Sparty?
Tom Izzo can't be happy with the way this season went. His team was ranked the second best in college basketball going into this season, but they were swept by Michigan, and lost their first game in the NCAA tournament to UCLA, proving that they didn't really belong there and that their selection was a "courtesy berth," based on coaching politics and past performance.
Izzo now knows that his Cavalier Indulgence affected the Spartans more than he possibly thought it would. It was obvious to anyone who wanted to watch that his team tuned him out. Tom Izzo, whose claim to fame is his ability to get "Spartan effort" out of his Spartans, watched his team go through the motions as though they didn't give a shit for 35 minutes every game, and try to turn on the effort switch the last five minutes. Sometimes it worked, but it didn't work enough.
Almost everything I have predicted for Izzo, starting last June or so, has either happened or been surpassed. Discipline problems, "losing the locker room," less victories, an early exit from the NCAA, attrition, and Michigan starting to close the gap between the two programs were all predictions that came true. There is really only one prediction left: Izzo to the NBA this season.
When it comes to Sparty, Michigan is in a win/win position right now. If Izzo stays, it will probably take him the same four years to rebuild his program in the wake of his Cavalier Indulgence that it did for Billy Donovan to rebuild the Florida Gators after his "Magic Moment." That, of course, is if Izzo can handle the losing. If he can't, we might see a glorious meltdown that does Woody Hayes proud. If Izzo leaves, it will still take four years to rebuild the program.
Either way, Michigan is poised to regain the same position it had for about 20 years prior to Izzo's ascension: dominant instate program. Life is good.
Jim Tressel is in trouble
At this point, the question isn't whether or not Jim Tressel will be fired from TSIO, it's when he will be fired and whether they will call it a "retirement" or a firing. Tressel was lucky that he never paid for his violations at YSU, and was actually rewarded with the TSIO job when he should have been kicked out of the profession.
He got lucky again when somebody got to Maurice Clarett and intimidated him to change his story when NCAA investigators made it to Columbus. The Scarlet Wall has protected him for a long time, but there are cracks in the wall and his luck is running out.
Even TSIO fans know that Tressel is Toast. In fact, the only two people in the football universe who haven't figured it out seem to be Gene Smith and Gordon Gee. The only question now is "who is going to be the new coach?"
I would like to see Mark Dantonio get the job. First, it would throw MSU into total disarray. Second, Dantonio hates Michigan enough to keep the rivalry interesting, but isn't really a good enough coach to dominate the rivalry.
There are two nightmare scenarios, though. The first is that they could talk Urban Meyer out of "retirement." Meyer's preference for the TSIO, Michigan, and Notre Dame jobs over all in college football aren't a secret. I would imagine that someone in the TSIO office has already made exploratory contact with his agent.
If you are a Michigan fan, you do not want to see Meyer at TSIO. If he coaches there, the same maggots who screamed "the spread won't work in the Big Ten" and whined until RR was run out of town will be bitching because Michigan "can't solve Urban Meyer's spread." This brings to mind the other nightmare scenario.
Rich Rodriguez is available and TSIO needs another coach soon.
Stranger things have happened. RR got shit on from almost the moment he got into town. Lloyd Carr and his Carr-tel sabotaged the program from within at every turn. Carr turned from consummate Michigan Man into a petty, jealous old man who put his personal agenda over the well-being of "his" school.
I would be willing to bet my bottom dollar that Carr gave Michael Rosenberg the information that would eventually turn into "Practice-gate." Carr had this information because it was he who had originally come up with the incorrect interpretation of the rule and implemented the program in the first place.  You certainly wouldn't know it from listening to David Brandon, though.  Then, of course, there were the charges that RR didn't know anything about "Michigan tradition" or the rivalry with TSIO.
The Carr-tel made sure to tell everyone they knew that "Rich Rodriguez is not a Michigan Man." Fielding Yost was from WV. Bo Schembechler was from OH. Brady Hoke is from OH. The were all "Michigan men." But Rich Rodriguez was "not a Michigan man" because he was from WV? RR heard more about Michigan tradition and "the rivalry" in his three years at Michigan than most people hear in a lifetime. You can rest assured that RR knows all about "the rivlarly."
And you can rest assured that RR has more reason to be utterly and profoundly pissed off at the University of Michigan than Lloyd Carr ever did to assassinate RR's character. If I was RR, my agent would already have contacted TSIO for exploratory discussions. RR wasn't allowed to finish what he started at Michigan, but he could "finish" it if he takes the TSIO job.
There are about ten coaches you don't want to see with the TSIO job. AFAIC, RR is number two on the list, only to Urban Meyer. Off the top of my head, those I would most fear at TSIO would be both Kellys, Patterson, Peterson, Mullen, and the two I mentioned already. Let's hope Saint Dantonio gets his "Dream Job" in a month or two.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Fab Five documentary

By now, everyone who cares knows about the Fab Five documentary on ESPN, produced by Jalen Rose. This was one of the most starkly honest documentaries I have seen in the sports world. With honesty, of course, comes controversy.

Jalen Rose said in the documentary that, at the time, he hated Duke because Duke didn't recruit "his" people. He felt that they recruited Uncle Toms, and cited Grant Hill's family as an example. Predictably, the MSM and most of the blogosphere has gone bonkers. Columnists with superficial knowledege and questionable attitudes about race treated the statements as though he still felt that way.

Many columnists wrote variattions of "let it go, Jalen." But they are missing one huge point:

Jalen didn't say he feels that way now. He said he felt that way then. The Fab Five were freshmen. They were 18 years old. I don't know about you, but I have changed a lot since I was that age. I still have the same social consciousness in a lot of ways, but the judgementalism and anger have certainly been diminished.

I am pretty sure that anyone who slammed Jalen for being honest about how he felt when he was 18 would be utterly embarassed if he were held responsible for his opinions and actions at that age.

There are a lot of people who need to "let it go," but Jalen Rose isn't one of them.

It's NCAA Time...

It's NCAA time, and Michigan got one of the worst seeds a decent team can get in the tournament: an eight. This means that if they beat Tennessee, they have to face number one seed Duke in their second game. I like what Michigan did this year, and I am as big of a fan as anyone. But they are not beating Duke.

Sure, it's possible. Duke could play their very worst and Michigan could play their very best. And I could win powerball tonight, too. That doesn't mean it is going to happen. I would rate Michigan's chances of beating Duke as only slightly better than mine of winning Powerball.

As expected, Michigan State got their "courtesy bid," but at least the committee didn't do them any favors. They did get to go to Florida, but if they win their first game against UCLA, they will have to play a de facto road game against Florida in Tampa. This is probably even more of a disadvantage than playing it at the O' Connell Center, because many of the Gator fans with tickets don't get to see a lot of Florida games, so they will be especially loud for a special occasion.

As for the tournament itself, I amost don't care who wins, as long as it isn't MSU or OSU. Michigan has no chance. Eighteen out of the last twenty years, a one or two-seed has won. I'll take the Gators. They have had no hype this year, but Billy Donovan remembers how to take a team to victory. The fact that I live in Florida, of course, has nothing to do with it.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

A World of Hurt

As Patterson Hood of the Drive-By Truckers said in a song,
It's gonna be a world of hurt..."

Is the axe finally going to fall in Columbus? Will it dismantle the Scarlet Wall of Silence that has enabled Ohio State to successfully cover up the cesspool of violations that has been a hallmark of their program for the entire Tressel era, if not before?

Make no mistake about it: Jim Tressel is a dirty coach. He can write books about God all he wants, but Jim Tressel has never met an NCAA rule he likes. His current denial of any wrongdoing is so ludicrous that I am half expecting him to use the defense that God told him to break all of those rules because they weren't "fair."

Sorry, folks, but Jim Tressel writing a book about God is like Charlie Sheen writing a book about moderation.

If Jim Tressel wants to prove that his book wasn't written by a hypocrite, and that he actually lives by the spirituality he espouses, then he should resign immediately. He should apologize to everyone at OSU, everyone in the Big Ten, and everyone in the NCAA for chronic cheating.

Tressel had to stop a tour for his newest book, "Life Promises for Success: Promises from God on Achieving Your Best," to address allegations of not only cheating, but lying to cover it up. As a Michigan fan, I would be laughing at this if it wasn't so sad. Jim Tressel has not only cheated the NCAA, but he has cheated everyone who has ever bought one of his Christian books and looked to him as a role model.

While Tressel is apologizing, he owes one to everyone who ever bought one of his books, too. If Tressel is truly the Christian he says he is, he will come clean and ask for forgiveness. One of the main tenets of the Christian faith is forgiveness. Let's see if Jim Tressel can put his money where his mouth is.

In the interests of full disclosure, I have to mention here that I am not known as a "bible-thumper," nor do I believe that constant public declarations of faith are neccessary in one's relationship with God. I don't really espouse any faith in particular, but I respect all of them in general. I see religions as cookie cutters, and really don't think God cares what his cookies look like, as long as they taste like faith.

In any faith, though, from Christian to Muslim to Buddhist to Hindu to Agnosticism, there cannot be forgiveness unless there is a mea culpa first. The problem I have with Tressel is not his faith, but the fact that he is making money off of a faith whose rules he tramples behind the scenes. This is not an issue of religion; it is an issue of hypocrisy.

Jim Tressel has been caught with his hand in the cookie jar. How he reacts to it should be his own business, but it is more than that. Tressel makes a very good living portraying an image as a role model. He owes it to anyone who ever believed him to come clean, ask for forgiveness, and actually be the role model he has pretended to be for all of these years.

This post opened with the Drive By Truckers, and it will close with Bob Marley:

"Some say it's just a part of it, we've got to fulfill the book..."

It's time for Jim Tressel to either stop writing books or start fulfilling them. And fulfillment starts with either resignation or termination for Jim Tressel and NCAA probation for the Ohio State University.

Then, maybe someday Jim Tressel and OSU's world of hurt will become a redemption song.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sudden Change. Has the torch been passed?

In the wake of another win for the University of Michigan over Michigan State, thus giving Michigan their first "sweep" since 1997, a lot of questions have been raised in both A2 and EL. The games may be over, but the debate has just begun.

The main thing on everyone's mind seems to be whether or not the torch has indeed been passed, or of Michigan's sweep was an aberration, a product of luck, or a one-year wonder. The answers aren't quite that easy, nor are they etched in stone, but some pretty strong conclusions can be drawn.

1. It's going to get worse for MSU before it gets better.

They lose Lucas and Summers. They may very well lose Tom Izzo. Even if they don't, Izzo has lost the locker room, and will have to work extremely hard to get it back.

2. It's only going to get better for Michigan.

Unless a player makes an ill-advised decision to try the NBA draft, Michigan will return all of their players. Michigan is an extremely young team that overachieved this year, but it wasn't the kind of overachievement that can't be revisited. Michigan simply grew and matured faster than anyone expected them to. And they have a lot more growth in their future.

3. Sudden change.

It's funny that the same Spartan fanbase that declared MSU to have a superior football program because they caught Michigan in a rebuilding cycle are using the same arguments they refuted when Michigan beats them twice in basketball.

At first glance, I am guilty of that myself on my side of the fence, but I have always used tradition and regression to the mean as my main arguments. Michigan is 93-71 against MSU in their basketball series. Even though they had to vacate the Ed Martin years, and even though Tom Izzo has had a great run against them, Michigan has still defeated MSU twenty-two more times than MSU has defeated Michigan.

Consequently, I see the Izzo era as a statistical aberration. As we know, statistical aberrations usually correct themselves over a longer period of time. In football, the same argument holds true. Michigan is 67-30-5 against MSU. So, once again, I see Dantonio's dominance as an aberration that will soon correct itself.

What does this have to do with sudden change? Everything. MSU fans refuse to believe that the programs can go in opposite directions so quickly, but I see it as a simple return to the norm. Michigan's product is now superior to MSU's on the court, and should be even more superior in relation to MSU's product next season. The only things lagging will be public perception and recruiting. Which takes me to the next point:

4. MSU is in severe crisis mode.

In one of the eastern languages, I believe Chinese, it is often quoted that the character which denotes crisis contains both danger and opportunity. There is plenty of both in EL right now, and it all centers around Tom Izzo. There are some possible scenarios here: let's see how it could go.

Scenario A: Tom Izzo stays and rebuilds, and his kids listen to him again.

I see this as the least likely of all possible scenarios, but if it does happen, MSU is still looking two years down the road before they return to being an elite program again. Izzo has a lot of bridges to rebuild. It's one thing to say "Spartan for life," but it's another altogether to demonstrate it with his actions. As of now, all Izzo has demonstrated is the willingness to listen to offers from the NBA.

If, however, he gets Nix, Roe, and Green back and fully "bought in," he has a decent nucleus around which to build a team. But it probably won't be enough to beat Michigan next year, and both Green and Roe will have exhausted their eligibility by the following season. This could mean that, even in a best-case secnario, it will take MSU three years to rebuild to Final Four level.

Scenario B: Izzo stays but his players don't buy in.

What happens if Nix, Roe, and Green all leave early? Izzo is going to have to rebuild with players who will play the way he wants them to. It will take the same three years, and he may lose a few of the younger players from this team if he feels the older players have "contaminated" them.

Also, one has to ask how this will affect recruiting. It certainly can't be a positive.

Scenario C: Tom Gores buys the Pistons, offers Izzo the HC job, and he takes it.

I see this as the most likely option. If he doesn't end up in Detroit, someone else will make him a good offer. Izzo has to know that the next two or three years will require a lot of hard work, and they won't help his market value any. Izzo's peak market value was last year. If he gets lucky, Gores will ignore this year and offer him $6 million a year, figuring he'll make it back just from the publicity Izzo will generate. Any NBA offer, though, will be for more than MSU can pay him or even wants to pay him after last summer and this season.

If this happens, all hell breaks loose in EL. They can do a "Michigan Football" and hire Izzo disciple Stan Heath, even though his coaching record at USF is abysmal, but even an "inside hire" won't be able to save the next recruiting class. Then, MSU is looking at four years before they are good again.

5. Michigan stands to gain immensely in recruiting.

This is the biggest battleground of all. Michigan is already starting to get decent players. Izzo no longer gets everyone he offers by simply telling recruits and their parents that Michigan is a "dirty program." The uncertainty at MSU and the feeling that JB is building a program the right way at Michigan may be enough to sway recruits to sign with the maize and blue.

Ever since Izzo was handed the ultimate recruiting tool by the Ed Martin Fiasco, he has been able to get whoever he wants in the state of Michigan. Not only could he cite the Fiasco, but he could also cite Michigan's shoddy practice facilities and the aging Crisler Arena. That is no longer the case. Michigan is rebuilding its facilities and image, and both jobs are moving along quite nicely.

Soon, a five star player will choose the maize and blue. Once that happens, elite recruits will once again see Michigan as a "destination school." And Michigan's gain will be MSU's loss.

6. You meet the same people on the way down that you do on the way up.

Sparty has been extremely arrogant when they have been on top. Soon, though, recruits, fans, and MSM alike will wonder what they have to be arrogant about now. Izzo has gotten by with the "assumed close" with HS players and coaches for a long time. Now, they are going to demand more. Can Tom Izzo subjugate his ego enough to realize that the dynamic has changed, or will he continue to recruit as though MSU still has carte blanche in Michigan? Will a new coach have to pay the price for Sparty Arrogance while creating his own dynamic?

Tom Izzo built his empire on negativity. He took advantage of the Ed Martin Fiasco and has been using it as his main instate recruiting tool for ten years now. It's like the recent TMac debate. TMac is presently seen as having been so talented that that he failed to put in the neccessary "10,000 hours of repitition" to improve his game.

Did Tom Izzo make the same mistake in recruiting? Did he fail to develop the neccessary fundamentals because he had talent-rich Michigan inadvertently handed to him by Ed Martin? Is this now a systemic problem at MSU?

I guess we'll find out in a few years.

My perception, though, is that Michigan is already the best program in the state, and that it will become obvious to many more by the end of next season. I fully believe that it will get much better for Michigan, and much worse for MSU.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Now that the dust has almost settled...

It's time for a few random thoughts here.

1. When will it stop?

The MSM is once again writing positive stories about the University of Michigan football program. However, for some reason, they still can't manage to stop putting subtle but gratuitous digs at RR into their stories.

I know they love their new opportunity to write twenty year-old "Michigan Man" memes on autopilot instead of having to work hard; I really have no problem with that. But I really wish they would stop finding new and creative ways to mention RR in most of their articles. They are writing about RR almost as much now as they did when he worked at the University of Michigan.

Why in the fuck can't they just give it a rest?

2. It's almost tournament time

While I'm sticking to my guns and still think Michigan is an NIT team this year, it is quite refreshing that they are even being mentioned as a bubble team this late in the year. As someone who thought they would win around 14 and possibly as few as 12, I see this season as a very pleasant surprise.

Morris, Hardaway, and Morgan have turned into very solid players with the potential to be national stars next year. The team has lost a lot of very close and disappointing games this year against elite competition, but next year those losses could turn into victories because of age, experience, and a little more bulk. This team doesn't quite know how to win against elite competition yet, but it is getting very, very close.

An NCAA bid would be nice, but I am looking forward to a nice run to the final four: in the NIT.

3. Is the tide finally turning for state supremacy?

Football is a game where recruiting can't be done solely in the state of Michigan; it's no accident that Michigan's last two Heisman Trophy winners have been from Ohio. Basketball, though, is a different story.

While you can't really build a National Champion in football with mostly Michigan players, you can build one that way in basketball. Ever since Tom Izzo encouraged Mateen Cleaves to turn Michigan in to the NCAA and started the ball rolling, eventually culminating in the Ed Martin scandal, MSU has had a virtual lock on instate recruiting. Their National Championships were won mostly with instate players, especially the "Flintstones."

All Tom Izzo had to do for his first ten years was say "dirty program" to the parents of recruits being pursued by both schools, and he pretty much got anyone he wanted in Michigan. Also, MSU has great facilities, while Michigan had allowed theirs to rot. Now, though, the stigma of the Martin scandal is finally pretty much worn off. Michigan's head coach was actually the head of the ethics committee. And the facilities are finally getting a much-needed upgrade.

What does this mean for the rivalry? It means the pendulum is starting to swing away from MSU and back to Michigan. Tom Izzo has proven that he can do a great job with great players. But he has is proving this year that he also does a mediocre job with mediocre players. I have written at length about Izzo pissing away his mojo with his Cavalier indulgence, but this year's results, at least so far, are even worse for MSU than anyone, including me, could have reasonably predicted.

If there is one thing to learn from the Martin scandal, it's that a team that has been on top for a decade or even two decades can fall incredibly fast under the "right" circumstances. Also, one obvious but overlooked dynamic is the rivalry is that what is good for Michigan is bad for MSU, and what is bad for Michigan is good for MSU.

What we have now is a Michigan program on the upswing and an MSU program in danger of a severe decline. All it is really going to take now for the swing to really take hold is for one five-star instate recruit to choose Michigan instead of MSU. One big recruit, and the perception will be that Michigan is once again a desirable destination for star players.

Tom Izzo is already having to work a lot harder for recruits. This year's class, while rated highly, hasn't really shown itself to be anywhere near the usual caliber of Izzo's classes. In the past, Izzo has had his pick of anyone in the state. Now, Michigan is back in the game, and he can't just convince parents and recruits to DQ Michigan by saying "Fab Five Scandal" or "Dirty Program."

Also, as I predicted during the summer, Izzo has definitely "lost" a lot of players in the locker room. They no longer give the supreme effort that used to be a hallmark of Spartan basketball. They really don't look like a well-coached team this year. Izzo is coaching the same; the kids just aren't listening anymore. They have decided that "Spartan for life" means "Spartan until I get a better offer than the one I got from the Cavs."

Izzo has accomplished enough already at MSU to be inducted into the Hall of Fame whenever he is eligible. How long will he want to endure what he has endured this year before he finally says "FTS" and signs with the next NBA team to make a decent offer? If things go as planned, an MSU grad will soon be the new owner of the Pistons. What better way to make a "splash" than to hire Tom Izzo? If that happens, I can see a few lean years in EL.

On the other hand, in Ann Arbor, there is a young team that has already overachieved this year, even if they don't win another game. They beat MSU in the Breslin Center, which was, at the time, a major upset. They are a bubble team that doesn't have a senior. They have two first-year players and one second-year player who are rapidly becoming stars. They have two very good recruits, one from instate, coming in next year. I think John Beilen deserves serious consideration for Coach of the Year honors in the Big Ten.

Michigan will have a new practice facility soon, and Crisler is about to be upgraded. Excitement is back in Ann Arbor, and it will only get better. It may even be good enough to get that one great recruit that Michigan needs to reestablish themselves as "the" school in Michigan again.

It could happen a lot faster than even I expected.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

DB, Hoke, Corwin Brown, and "sunshine."

In Florida, there is a law informally known as the "Sunshine Act." It mandates "government in the sunshine." Supposedly, any decision or discussion of any pending act is supposed to be conducted in public. While the MSM has been blowing a lot of "Michigan Man" sunshine up the keesters of its readers, listeners, and viewers, I think a lot of "sunshine" would be appropriate in the University of Michigan athletic department.

As most ardent Michigan fans know by now, ex-QB Michael Taylor called into WTKA this week, and lambasted the athletic department for not even giving ex-safety Corwin Brown a courtesy call or interview when he applied for a vacant coaching position. Taylor, for those who don't remember, beat Ohio State while playing with a soft-tissue injury that is best described as "torn everything that touches any part of the scapula."

Brown, for those who don't remember, started for two years as a DB, with two victories over OSU during those two years. His resume includes seven years as an NFL player, six years as a college coach, getting as far up the food chain as DC at Notre Dame, and four years as an NFL coach. I know that Brady Hoke and Greg Mattison were busy recruiting, but a coach with Brown's history at least deserved a courtesy phone call.

At this point, the coaching staff looks like "a bunch of old white guys and one token African-American." If I were one of the African-American ex-player/alums who are upset with Brown not even recieving a phone call, let alone an interview, I would have to conclude that there was some racial bias here.

I can't really accuse Hoke of racial bias, though; it's more a function of the system than any overt racial bias. Coaches, like any managers, CEO's, etc, like to hire "their own people" when they take over. People have a tendency to become friends with those with whom they feel they have the most in common. In the coaching profession, by the numbers, that still seems to mean "mostly white guys."

So, because most of the coaches in the game are still white, whenever a coach takes over and wants to hire "guys he's been in the trenches with," most of those "guys" are white. Coaches tend to be coaches because they focus on one thing and one thing only: football. This is not true for all, but for many. Hoke seems to be a guy who lives and breathes football. Consequently, I can't imagine Hoke even noticing that his staff looks like an audition for a new Casper the Ghost movie. But it does.

Where does David Brandon fit in here? Once again, he is asleep at the wheel. While the football guys were coaching football, Brandon was sitting in a cushy office managing personnel and money for two major corporations. There is no way a person with his resume is not familiar with equal opportunity, nor is there any way he can not be aware of the demographics of the coaching staff.

If David Brandon was the leader he pretends to be, he would step in and mandate that Hoke look at qualified African-American candidates. I'm not saying that race should be the only criterion for hiring, though; I am simply saying that there are plenty of qualifed African-Americans to round out the coaching staff.

The University of Michigan supposedly prides itself on its diversity. Sadly, the current coaching staff is antithetical to that so-called "pride." The majority of players on the team, and the majority of highly-ranked recruits, are African-American. Couldn't the staff at least be close to "50-50?"

Maybe casting a little bit of "sunshine" into the hiring process would be a great start.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

NSD and other subjects...

1. NSD not a total disaster, but not a great class, either.

When David Brandon did the dumbest thing someone in his position possibly could, and waited until less than a month before NSD to fire his head coach, especially when state law mandates that the job be held open for at least seven days before it can be filled, he put the school, the team, and the coaching staff in the worst possible position for recruiting.

In the middle of December, Michigan had six 4-stars and eight 3-stars committed, and were "in" on a few more four-stars. So far, out of nineteen commits, there are only four 4-stars, 14 3-stars, and a kicker who should have a third star. In other words: in December, Michigan had a 4-star/3-star and others ratio of .750. Now, that ratio is .210.

I want to be optimistic about this class, but really, if they get four or five players who eventually become senior leaders out of it, the recruiting class of 2011 will have reached its upside. The good news is that the class wasn't totally wiped out.

Basically, every coach talks about how happy he is on NSD. Every recruit is projected to his ceiling, and nobody has failed yet. It's like spring training in baseball. The recurring meme for this class, at least until NSD-mania dies down, will be that these are "tough kids who want to play at Michigan."

The bottom line, though, is that David Brandon turned a "batting average" of .750 into one of .210 when he decided to not only throw his weight around but lie about his intentions for over a month. Let's hope Hoke can get extraordinary results out of a very, very ordinary class.

2. The basketball team is headed in the right direction.

While it won't really make much of a difference in this season, Michigan's victory over MSU was huge. It not only temporarily stopped the bleeding, but it probably helped both Michigan's upward trend and MSU's downward spiral at the same time. I would actually go so far as to say that this may affect MSU a lot more than it does Michigan, at least for the short term.

The loss will have MSU a lot closer to the 5-seed I predicted for them than the 1 or 2-spot they are used to. It will also help to continue the dissent that is gradually building up in EL, from not only the players, but fans who are turning on Izzo, and administrators who remember that he was ready to abandon them at a stroke of LBJ's pen.

Michigan is on the way up and MSU is on the way down. Until Tom Izzo used negative recruiting to take advantage of the Ed Martin scandal, Michigan had been a superior program for most of the previous forty years, with the notable exception of Magic's two years at MSU. It has taken a long time, but the pendulum is finally swinging back toward Michigan.

I will cover this more in a subsequent post.

3. All things considered, Hoke has done well so far.

When Hoke was hired, his most important task was to keep Denard Robinson from transferring. The situation may or may not have been as urgent as it appeared, but the announcement that Denard was staying was probably the most welcome of all the announcements in the program over the last two months. The "bigger picture" is to keep a lot of transfers from happening, but Denard's decision to stay probably affected as many as ten players who may have thought of transferring if Denard had.

Next, Hoke had to assemble a staff. The timing of his hire had, of course, handicapped him, but he did a good job. The best hire was, of course, prying Greg Mattison out of the NFL and getting him back to Ann Arbor.

Finally, it was time to recruit. Hoke had to try and salvage a recruiting class that had signed on for a coach who had just been unjustly fired by an AD who was grossly dishonest about his intentions. The class had lost Florida players Demetrius Hart and Dallas Crawford, who were seen as important recruits. It would eventually lose Traverse City product Jake Fisher, too.

Worse yet, a lot of high-profile players who were considering Michigan suddenly crossed them off their lists. So, Hoke played the "Michigan Man" card. He looked for a bunch of 3-stars who exhibited "toughness," etc. What he really meant was "warm bodies who want to sign with Michigan this year." Hoke was able to fill out the roster with numbers. He brought a few recruits from other schools whose coaches had left, and brought in a kicker who apparently can kick without a tee.

As I wrote above, the class is ordinary, but it could have been a lot worse.

So far, I will give Hoke an A. We'll see how it translates in the fall.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The four-year exemption...

Obviously, most of us didn't get "our guy," or any of them, as the coach at the University of Michigan. Most of the fans who follow football on more than a superficial level wanted someone else. Over the last week, I, as have many fans, have had my say. I have vented my disgust at the process. But the bottom line is that Brady Hoke is now the head football coach at the University of Michigan, and I hope he is given the same "four year exemption" that RR deserved but didn't get.

I wouldn't mind seeing a "fire David Brandon" website, and would love to see the power of the Carr-tel gradually eroded, but Brady Hoke should not be a target for those dissatisfied with the outcome of the search. The Carr-tel deliberately sabotaged RR's tenure at the University of Michigan. They damaged the program, causing much of the attrition and affecting recruiting when they leaked the "violations" to Rosenberg.

While they have, indeed, been rewarded by their behavior with the hiring of "one of their own," it would be hypocritical for those who disagree with the hiring to treat Hoke the way the Carr-tel treated RR. Besides, while Hoke benefitted from the Carr-tel's behavior, he was much to busy coaching football to be a part of the damaging behavior.

So, I plan on giving Hoke the "four-year exemption." I don't expect much more than 6-6 this season, and will see anything else as a bonus. But it won't be Hoke's fault that he has been given a team that doesn't fit his vision or his skill-set. David Brandon was conscious of what he was doing when he abandoned the spread, and any ire for another year or two of rebuilding should be directed at him: not at Hoke.

As far as Hoke goes, unless something drastically wrong happens, he has to be given four years to execute his plan. And I will be behind him all the way. It doesn't mean that I wouldn't like to see him keep Denard and figure out a hybrid offense, but I will support him in the decisions he makes for the next four years.

Any coach deserves that much: especially the coach at the University of Michigan. No matter who he is, or how he got there.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Carr-tel reigns at Michigan

The Carr-tel has won. They have been rewarded for their sabotaging of RR's tenure at Michigan by having one of their own, Brady Hoke, named as head coach. This guarantees at least three more years of rebuilding, followed by as many years of mediocrity as whoever is running things by then can stomach.

Today's hiring virtually ensures that Michigan fans will continue to watch modern teams make the BCS title game, while wondering why Michigan never makes it. Over the years, we have blamed bad luck, bad referees, and bad timing for crushing losses, but the bottom line is that the old way of saying, "here we are, try to stop us" and then pushing other teams up and down the field doesn't work anymore, and hasn't worked since scholarships went down to 85 and cable allowed everyone to be on television.

If you love anachronistic, unimaginative football, you will love Brady Hoke. If you love seeing Michigan lose to teams with only one or two players who could make their depth chart, you will love Brady Hoke. If you think Lloyd Carr is the be-all and end-all of Michigan football, and that his face should be on Mt Rushmore, you will love Brady Hoke. Most of all, if you love watching Lloyd Carr pull the strings of a puppet coach, you will love Brady Hoke.

This hiring is the cruelest joke that has ever been perpetrated upon the Michigan fanbase. It proves that Lloyd Carr still has a lot of power at Michigan, and it proves that Mary Sue Coleman has had a lot more to say in this process than most of us think she did.

David Brandon and Mary Sue Coleman should both be fired today. They both had a chance to turn Michigan football into the "leaders and best" again, and instead chose to turn it into what will soon be one of the biggest jokes in college football.

Do you want to see Denard Robinson win a Heisman? Maybe it will happen at Auburn, but it won't happen at Michigan. Do you want to see Michigan end its losing streak against OSU? Sorry: it isn't happening anytime soon. Do you want to see what Michigan can do in the spread with upperclassmen on the field? It won't happen for at least ten years now.

This isn't Hoke's fault, and once the product is on the field, I will support him. I will continue to cheer for Michigan; I have since 1960 and it is too late to stop now. But today is not a time for blind optimism, nor is it a time for celebration: it is a time to grieve the loss of what might have been. Most of all, it is a time to hold Lloyd Carr, Mary Sue Coleman, and David Brandon accountable for their actions.

If this were a movie, Brady Hoke would come in, sieze the day, and Michigan would suddenly be a "player" on the national scene again. Their paleolithic offense would suddenly be the talk of college football, and the glut of spread teams playing for National Championships would fall by the wayside. Sadly for Michigan fans, this isn't a movie. And if it were, it would be something by Monty Python.

Thanks, David. Thanks, Mary Sue. Thanks, Lloyd. You have pretty much guaranteed that, without divine intervention, I won't see Michigan win another National Championship in my lifetime. You have guaranteed that the one half of a National Championship I got to witness in fifty years so far of following Michigan football is the only one I will ever see.

To further your selfish and parochial agenda, you have shattered the dreams of every Michigan football fan who wants to see Michigan play in the BCS title game, even if they don't know it yet. You have doomed the University of Michigan to be a quaint artifact of a bygone era, even as fans are dumping millions of dollars into your coffers in realtime.

You have all proven to be dishonest and incompetent. By your own standards, you should all be fired immediately. Security should usher all of you to the door without giving you a chance to empty your desks. None of you should ever be allowed to set foot on University of Michigan property again.

But that won't happen. Instead, it will be "business as usual." You will all talk about how you are going to "restore tradition to the University of Michigan." Sadly, though, that "tradition" involves chronic underachievement in BCS bowls, annual disappointment, and one National Championship in sixty years. The school deserves better. And the fans lining your pockets deserve better for their money.

You had a chance to give your fans better. And you failed miserably. May your karma be swift and just.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Conspiracy theories abound....

Since the blog is called "tinfoil hat sports blog," let's examine the various conspiracy theories and rate them on a one to five tinfoil hat scale.

1. David Brandon thought he had a deal with Jim Harbaugh and Harbaugh backed out.

This is almost etched in stone. John Harbaugh said something to the effect of "the Michigan thing is over now" the day of RR's firing. That, of course, would mean that there had been previous discussion. It also explains why RR and the players were left "twisting in the wind" for as long as they were. This is solid, and I will rate it FIVE tinfoil hats.

This leads to....

2. David Brandon lied to the media, players, and staff for at least a month.

Once again, if number one is true, then number two is also true. It was obvious after the OSU game that Brandon was not going to support RR. I actually thought RR had a chance to keep his job if Michigan won their bowl game, but it is obvious that the choice was made from the beginning.

I will also give this one FIVE tinfoil hats.

3. The "Lloyd Carr-tel" has undermined RR's position on a daily basis for three years, including "leaking" damaging information to Michael Rosenberg.

There isn't much to dispute this, either. Carr gave no support to RR during his tenure, when his voice could have stopped a lot of the drama surrounding RR. Lloyd Carr did not do what Bo taught him to do. Neither has David Brandon. But the Carr-tel has invoked Bo's name on numerous occasions to further their agenda.

Lloyd Carr is still angry that he was not allowed to name his successor and have him come from the IMCT (Inbred Michigan Coaching Tree.) Apparently, Carr thinks his one National Championship season entitles him to treatment reserved for coaches named Schembechler or Crisler. He conveniently forgets how the game passed him by and how terrible he looked against elite teams the last three years of his tenure at Michigan. He also forgets how bare he left the cupboard for RR.

Can there be any doubt that the attrition RR faced can be at least partially attributed to Lloyd Carr encouraging players to leave?

I will also give this FIVE tinfoil hats.

4. Michigan's next coach will be a "money hire" to further the financial health of the Big Ten Network and help extend its reach into the NY/NJ area.

This was suggested by a poster on mgoblog. If it is true, there will be no Brady Hoke hiring. It would pretty much mean that Jon Gruden or Les Miles will be the coach at the University of Michigan. This may or may not be true, and is even more cynical than I normally am. For now, I will give it a solid THREE POINT FIVE tinfoil hats.

5. David Brandon wanted Jim Harbaugh, but Mary Sue Coleman wants Brady Hoke becuase she adores Lloyd Carr and the Carr-tel is in her ear every day.

This seems pretty solid also, and would really be funny considering her statement that she has no idea who the next coach will be. Apparently, the Carr-tel doesn't want Harbaugh because he is a Bo guy, and they feel threatened by his presence. If it is true, it definitely is NOT what Bo would do.

I will give this one FOUR tinfoil hats.

Summing up:

It's sorta sad that all of the conspiracy theories coming out of Ann Arbor probably have some truth to them. I guess it just means that "things are complicated," but I miss the old days when people were more on the "up and up" about things like this.

If anything comes out of this, I hope the Carr-tel is neutralized and put in their place for good. They have sabotaged the head coach at "their" school to further their own agenda, and their current carping is a power play to try and get themselves "restored" to power at Michigan.

They may have a few good points, but it was Lloyd Carr who was repsonsible for the first FOUR losses in the current seven-game losing streak to OSU. It was Lloyd Carr's upperclassmen who should have led the way for the Wolverines the last two years, but there weren't many because he encouraged most of them to leave.

Until those who constitute the Carr-tel are capable of accepting the fact that the game has evolved and that Michigan should be leaders and best instead of being anachronistic fucks whining about where the "good old days" went, they should be told that their feedback is no longer encouraged nor appreciated.

The new head coach should NOT be a member of the Carr-tel, and any of their members who continue to fight progress or engage in carping, whining, and sniping, should be told they are no longer welcome to visit the team or the facilities.

Let the new coach do his job and let him turn Michigan into the leaders and best again. Hopefully, it will be someone who is not a part of the Carr-tel, and is strong enough to ignore their carping, whining, and manipulations behind the scenes.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Show me, David Brandon: show me.

So, David Brandon has fired Rich Rodriguez. According to insiders, he was trying to goad him into quitting so that he wouldn't have to pay the buyout, but Rodriguez wouldn't resign. In other words, he lied again yesterday when he said no decision had been made. And, of course, he lied about not having contacted Jim Harbaugh. Harbaugh's brother let it slip that there was some communication, saying Harbaugh was "done" with the Michigan job.

Really, Rich Rodriguez' only "crime" was not being part of the good ol boy network at Michigan. You know: those longtime Michigan assistant coaches who were part of a system that could win eight or nine games every year but almost never won against truly elite competition in BCS bowls.

So, now, David Brandon has decided to bring in "his own people," which probably means a return to the same old shit Michigan fans have endured for years. The alums are happy, but the operative phrase here is, "be careful what you ask for."

If Brandon does, indeed, bring the inbred coaching "tree" back, he is guaranteeing a return to the sub-elite level that has fooled most Michigan fans for years. Under the Carr regime, the pattern was the same for his last seven years. Michigan would be highly rated to begin the season. Fans would be excited, thinking "this could be THE year." Then, there would be at least one inexplicable loss that would remove them from National Championship consideration. If they made it to the Rose Bowl, they usually lost. If they went to a crappy bowl, they won more than they lost.

Most of all, though, every season ended in disappointment for Michigan fans who expected them to just once be as good as advertised. The reason was because the game had passed the entire coaching tree and the conditioning coach by. Michigan fielded teams that looked great on paper but were handcuffed by the playcalling and schemes of the coaching staff.

When Rich Rodriguez was hired, it looked like Michigan was finally serious about entering the 21st century. Unfortunately, a massive rebuilding job was neccessary. And there was a huge faction of good ol' boy network that was both ignorant and indignant over the fact that Michigan had gone outside the "tree" for a head coach.

Consequently, RR never got the support he needed to finish the job he had been required to start. And the ignorant and indignant among the fanbase and within the athletic department were allowed to gain traction. They found the "Michigan Man" button and pushed it for all it was worth. They conveniently forgot that neither Fielding Yost nor Bo Schembechler was a "Michigan Man" before coaching the Maize and Blue.

So now, the team is facing a much worse transition than the one it underwent with Rodriguez. The personnel is ready to start performing well next year, but only under the same offensive system. If a pro set coach is hired, which describes almost anyone in the good ol' boy network, there will be at least two more years of losing, followed by more of the same old teams that look a lot better in the preseason rankings than they do when the games have actually be played.

Most of all, they will probably lose Denard Robinson if they don't hire a spread-based coach. The QB depth chart will basically read, "Devin Gardner and a bunch of nobodies."

So, David Brandon: show me. Show me you made the right decision. Show me you aren't the incompetent, stumbling boob that you appear to be. Show me that you didn't tamper with Stanford's coach during the season and lie to the public on numerous occasions while representing the University of Michgan, only to lose your "sure thing" because he realized he didn't want to work for an idiot.

Show me that your decision was based more on performance than your ego. Show me that you are capable of hiring a head coach who has ideas that weren't formulated in Ann Arbor thirty years ago. Show me that you haven't just plunged the football program back into the a giant black hole of anachronism and nepotism from which there is no escape.

Show me that you have one shred of integrity. Show me that you have one shred of competence. Show me that you understand that changing back to the pro set has a lot worse consequences than changing the sauce at Domino's.

David Brandon: go fire yourself.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

By his own standards, David Brandon should be fired.

The events of this evening, so far, anyway, have proven beyond any reasonable doubt that David Brandon thought he had Jim Harbaugh in his pocket, and has been lying to the public in his position as Athletic Director for the University of Michigan. JH has suddenly gotten some cold feet, probably because the NFL will pay him about $2 million more a year than Michigan will ever pay any coach.

So, what does DB do? He leaves the coach, players, and staff twisting in the wind until tomorrow. My guess is that he is frantically working behind the scenes to find another coach or talk JH into taking the job. It's as though David Brandon wants to fire RR in the worst way, and decided that's exactly how he will do it.

AFAIC, David Brandon is Larry, Moe, and Curly rolled into one giagantic douchebag.

Brandon has preached ethics since he took the UM AD job. He has gone to great lengths to let everybody know that they "do things the RIGHT way at the University of Michigan," borrowing his tone, pacing, and arrogance from the stuffy, old Smith-Barney commercials.

So, how ethical is it to tamper with Stanford's coach without asking permission? How ethical is it to lie to the public on numerous occasions while representing his employers? And how ethical is it to make RR's job tougher, even if he stays, by undermining yet another recruiting class with his rhetoric and his "timetable?"

David Brandon could not have botched this scenario any more or damaged the team any more than he is right now if he tried to do it on purpose. Brandon is so inept and dishonest that he has, from all reports, driven JH away from the Michigan job.

I have cheered for Michigan since 1960, and will continue to, no matter how this scenario ends, but I will never, ever believe a word that comes out of David Brandon's mouth again. And I will never have any respect for him again, either, except the kind of "respect" one has for a rattlesnake or a scorpion.

While he is firing Rich Rodriguez, he should fire himself.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Let the Fellatio begin.....

After Stanford's dominating performance in the Orange Bowl, the local media are about to begin a fellatio-fest that will make Deep Throat look like a Disney movie. Harbaugh will be showered with so many superlatives that it may seem to some that he is Tim Tebow, and Thom Brennaman is writing all of the stories.

His team looked very good tonight. Everything he tried worked, except for a fake punt that was rendered moot by the middle of the third quarter. The segment of Michigan fans who never gave RR a chance has to be salivating at the thought that everything his team did tonight will happen at Michigan.

So, now the frenzy begins. The MSM are eager to write a "Michigan fires coach" story, followed by a "prodigal son returns home" story. Most MSM writers are inherently lazy; they write the same story or column over and over again, and only the subjects change. If they get their way, they will get to rewrite two stories that they have written over and over again in their minds, and have on file in their memories as one would remember his or her childhood home.

They have been trying to force both of these stories to happen since before the season even ended. I don't know what ever happened to writers trying to be objective and report the news instead of making it, but I really miss those days.

Anyway, by the time the week is over, I fully expect Jim Harbaugh to have cured cancer and AIDS, ended hunger, and created world peace. Unless, of course, he goes to the NFL. Then, he will have "sold out" and will be found to be "only in it for the money," or will have "gone to the NFL because his ego wouldn't let him do anything else."

I hope the media have to put their two preferred stories on the shelf for at least another year.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Uh, comes the shitstorm.

It should be an interesting, though painful couple of weeks for Michigan fans. Thanks to the MSM, somewhere around fifty percent of Michigan fans think a coaching change is appropriate. I have been on record numerous times as saying that RR should be given at least a fourth year. Really, though, I think the massive nature of the rebuilding job that was neccessary at Michigan will require five years to really see whether or not RR can succeed at Michigan.

Questions for a new year:

1. What do you think should happen?

I think DB should be true to his word and evaluate the team using more factors than wins and losses. I think he should realize that this team loves their coach, that things are being done the right way at the University of Michigan, and that RR is setting the foundation for a program that will compete for National Championships once a few more personnel issues are taken care of and the current players get a year or two older.

Also, it is well-known that the school that angered Bo more than any other was Illinois when they fired Gary Moeller without giving him enough time to fully institute a turnaround. A great part of DB's resume when applying for this job was his connection to Bo. If DB were to do the same thing to RR that Illinois did to Moeller, it would go against everything Bo ever taught DB.

If DB does the right thing, RR will stay.

2. What do you think will happen?

Sadly, I am getting the "vibe" that DB does business the same way it is done at Domino's: dirty, cutthroat, two-faced, and behind closed doors. As soon as Jim Harbaugh's season is over, the question of whether or not there was a secret agreement in place will be answered. As much as I would like to believe that DB has been honest and forthright while representing the University of Michigan in public, I am beginning to feel that he hasn't. At any rate, we'll know soon.

3. What happened in the Gator Bowl?

The Mississippi State offense vs the Michigan defense was, as most have been all year, a "men vs boys" scenario. The men won. As for the offense, if they didn't score, they didn't see the ball for a long time. This put a lot of pressure on them and kept them from establishing much of a tempo.

We all hoped Michigan would win. But most of us knew, in our heart of hearts, that this team wasn't yet ready to be matched up against a top-25 SEC team. Next year, the addition of Nebraska will add more depth to the Big Ten and improve the bowl matchups. This year, though, the Big Ten suffered.

If Nebraska had been in the Big Ten, the matchups would have been something like Nebraska vs Bama, MSU vs Florida, PSU vs MSU, and Michigan vs Baylor or Texas Tech. When a team that is barely in the top 50 plays against a top 25 team in a bowl, the matchups aren't exactly "even."

4. How 'bout them Spartans?

Baw, haw haw haw haw! Finally, a question that makes me happy.

MSU was exposed as a massive fraud in front of the entire country. The day before the game, Saint Dantonio said in an interview that their game against Bama would be an indication of whether or not MSU had truly arrived as an elite team. MSU answered the question quite convincingly: Same Old Sparty.

MSU's power game with one or two speed guys worked in the Big Ten this year, but they really needed a lot of help. Every trick play they tried worked. Every trick play against rivals in the standings by other teams worked. Wiscy didn't take them seriously in the first half, and paid for it by being knocked out of a chance at overtaking Auburn or Oregon in the polls and playing for a National Championship. MSU overachieved in the W-L column this year.

They deserve to be congratulated, but Alabama wanted no part of it. And now, neither will their fans. It has to gall Sparty that they were beaten so badly by their old coach, Nick Saban.

Nick Saban grew up a Spartan fan. When he took the job at MSU, it was his "dream job." And he did a great job while he was there. Sadly for him and MSU, the administration at the time was part of the trend for academic administrators to be more involved in athletic programs. Nick Saban was micromanaged by scholars who knew nothing about football in particular or athletics in general.

Saban was micromanaged so badly at MSU that his "dream job" became a nightmare scenario, and he felt compelled to leave. Of course, he would go on to win National Championships at two different schools. Neither of those schools, though, was MSU.

Any other opponent would have underrated MSU and not taken them seriously, like most of the teams on their schedule this year. Nick Saban, though, made sure that his team would not look past MSU and that they would give their best effort today. The results were self-evident.

What does this mean? Easy: Sparty was lucky and their fanbase overrated them, as usual. They were the equivalent of a four-loss Big Ten team playing a very pissed-off three-loss Alabama.

Cancel my subscription to Sparty's resurrection.

5. What was that bitching you were talking about?

Most Michigan fans will be bitching about today's loss. The Fire Rich Rodriguez crowd will have two altars: one with a RR voodoo doll and a shrine with a homemade Jim Harbaugh doll. Then, in a few days, when the decision is made, if it hasn't been made already, half of the fanbase will be pissed no matter which decision is made.

Most Michigan forums and blogs will be cesspools for the next week. Even venerable MgoBlog, which is by far the best Michigan fan community, is turning into a shitty place for the next week or two. Forums that allow trolling, such as those in the newspapers, will be even worse.

So, basically, the next two weeks are going to suck for most Michigan fans, no matter which side of the fence they inhabit. And if there is a coaching change, we could be in for another two years of mediocrity.

I guess we'll know in a couple of days.