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.

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