Pausing for Effect

Water is wet, the sky is blue, Tom Izzo qualifies for midget benefits in 14 U.S. states, and I don't spend enough time on this site.

Ya, well, I'm busy.

But we're getting close to things getting serious around here, so my efforts are bound to pick up.  Besides, I can sum up the whole summer in a few paragraphs...

Practicegate is a complete sham.  Whatever went wrong had nothing to do with Coach, and was perpetrated by a couple guys with an agenda.  Brad LaBadie was one of those people...he's gone.  Scott Draper will be next.  Pizza Man ain't f'n around.  Coach is going to be given every opportunity to be successful by Brandon.  He knows we are better united.  Meeting with the NCAA this past weekend did nothing except rack up frequent flyer miles for the twittering media members.  There's going to be some kind of judgement at some point, and I don't expect anything to be added to the self imposed wrist slap.  And quite frankly, I don't care at all about it.  Wins.  I only think about wins.

RB Vinnie Smith's repaired knee apparently is ready for action.  Is it just me, or doesn't 9 months seem be a little quick?  Torn ACL to starting running back in 9 months.  Despite the optimism coming out of Fort Schembechler, I'm thinking mid-season action at best.  Unfortunately his replacement Michael Shaw, the heir-apparent if you will, is an asshair away from being academically ineligible.  I think we find out more about that this week.  After that the depth chart is just another edition of "I hope that (fill in Freshman here) can make an impact."

Demar Dorsey didn't get admitted to Michigan, the first of two five-star DBs to exit the program in the last few months.  For those that were in the "we should just let the kid into Michigan" camp (that would include me), it looks like it was more than just a checkered past that needed to be ignored, as he has yet to appear on the roster of any other school.  JT Turner, redshirted last year for arriving late for weight and academic issues, showed up fat for camp again this year, and after being placed on the third string defense, likely given a solid blue wingless helmet, and probably being asked to run...alot....he decided his future was better served at another school.  He also will require the services of Goody's tattoo guy to fix the block M on his forearm.  Rainbows and whatnot.  So how thin are we at DB?  Godfather's hair thin.

Tate Forcier, who won your heart by pointing with both arms in the air as he slayed the Fighting Irish, who started every game last year, who made you buy a t-shirt...is, by expert witness accounts, not the even the second best quarterback in fall camp.  Denard or Devin?  Yes.  What does this mean?  4 different starters in 4 years.  So much for continuity.

Anyway, as it has been for the last couple years, the field is the best place for us to fix things.  It's by all accounts a pivotal year.  How many wins will it take for Coach to keep his job?  7?  8?  9?  While wins are obviously important, I think a lot of it has to do with how we play late in the season.  A strong finish could be the deciding factor.  That and beating Sparty, because I can't deal with 3 straight years of those little bitches running their mouths.  This "1000 days since" shit that they've been peddling really pisses me off.  Joining the numbers club, I say 8 with a MSU and a bowl victory and Coach gets the OK.  Less and it's iffy.

Soon we'll talk tailgate! GO BLUE!

19 days.

Cissseeya

More bad news for a thin defense, as Cissoko is out at Michigan, becoming the 7th loss from the class of 2008 which was mostly a product of the previous regime.  This news, along with the 2007 class, which had unceremonious exits of Mallet, Tony Clemons, and Marell Evans (among others) means that the cupboards are WAY more bare than you know.  Which, if nothing else, means that my plea for patience with Coach from Monday is not a request...it's really your only option.

The fact that Coach is not keeping problems around, no matter how many stars they had on rivals, and no matter how thin we are at the position where the problem resides, is a good sign for those that are interested in keeping the tradition of creating a group of men that are leaders on and off the field.  In short, he is not Dantonio, who reinstated Glenn Winston basically minutes after he was released from prison.

Of course, you won't hear about how Rich Rod made the right decision by removing a player that was missing class, missing workouts, and missing study table.  The precedent has been set with the media, as the Feagin story resulted only in the perception of Michigan having recruited a drug dealer, with no props for his immediate dismissal.  And Kurt Wermer's bashing of the staff on his way out significantly outweighed the fact that the idiot was academically ineligible before he "left."

This week, you'll likely only hear that Michigan has another player that is transferring.  But that is not the truth.  He was "fired" before he "resigned."  I only hope he has the stones to own up to it for the sake of this program...that way Snyder can bury it on the back page if he has time to write while assisting the NCAA with the workout investigation.  Just remember folks, the story of Michigan getting back to being Michigan isn't nearly as sexy as Michigan in turmoil, Michigan failing to regain their dominance, or Michigan falling off the college football map.  They want us to lose.  They want Rich Rod to fail.  They want us to fail.  And you, yes YOU, can either stand there and take it, read it and believe it...or you can fight for THIS TEAM.

"This team" means "this staff."  The two are not mutually exclusive.  So the question is...are you really ALL IN?

The Thin Line Between Love and Hate Should Be Thicker

The bulk of the Michigan faithful stayed around longer than I expected them to, no doubt clinging to the hope that Tate might have another rabbit left in that winged hat.  The one redeeming quality of losses of this nature?  When games are over just a couple of minutes into the second half, you have a couple of hours to wallow around in it, to make your peace with it before it's actually done.  It's cathartic to have to sit in a cold light rain and see two small, white-clad sections of the stadium exchange their "WE ARE"s and "PENN STATE"s.  I sat there, wondering how this could have happened...not the 35-10 drubbing, but how I let my expectations change so rapidly after that 4-0 start.  More amazing is how I never let them fade after barely nipping Indiana, then falling to MSU and Iowa.

There's something that everyone needs to understand.  This is not a very good or even good football team.  This is an average football team.  They're too young, too inexperienced, and too thin at nearly every defensive position.  But being average means that this is certainly not a bad football team, and it is a country mile ahead of where they were last year.  Being average means we can beat teams like Notre Dame, we can blow out teams from the MAC, and we can be competitive with the best this league has to offer.  Being average also means that we can have our ass handed to us on occasion.  Saturday was such an occasion.

Immediately following the loss, those that cheered the new coach after the 4-0 start, and admitted they were wrong for their snap judgment after last season, quickly went back to wanting the return of Lloyd-ball.   The haters who had been patiently waiting for...and even wanting a loss like this dusted off their soapboxes.  Suddenly the piped in music was hurting their ears, the spread offense became a passing fad, and *gasp* Rich Rod yelled at one of his coaches on the sideline indicating obviously that this whole house is about to come crumbling down.

Someone really needs to shut this whole internet thing down, or at least gag Drew Sharp.

These knee jerk reactions from game to game and this over-analysis of a season, a program and a coaching staff based on a single contest is getting really ridiculous.  It was ridiculous when it we were 4-0 and had just beaten an Indiana team that we convinced ourselves was good, and it's ridiculous when we're 5-3 and we just lost to a Penn State team that we had convinced ourselves was not so good.  You see, the thing is, Indiana is not so good, and Penn State is good...I think.  So that makes things confusing, beyond your understanding, and if nothing else it should widen that thin line between praising Rich Rod for a turnaround and anointing Tate Forcier as the next coming of Christ, and wanting Rich Rod to step down and say that you can't wait for Devin Gardner to get here.  Come to grips with the fact that you just don't know, that you can't predict the future.  There's a pretty big damn difference between 5-7 and 9-3, and there's a pretty big damn difference between "Rich Rod is the man for this job" and "Rich Rod should be fired."

We all need to spend some more time finding that gray area, exercising patience, and waiting to make broad analysis of the direction of the program until the season has ended.  Bonus points if you wait until after 2010.

When in Hell, You Still Take a Few Pictures

AnnArbor.com's finest journalist James Dickson wrote an article featuring UMTailgate.com entitled The Road Warriors.  It can be found here.

Pictures (albeit only 17 of them) from the @ MSU tailgate/game are here...

Bear with us this week...short turnaround before heading to Iowa City.The All Time Sagarin ratings for NCAA basketball can be found here...you'll find Michigan basketball two spots BETTER than MSU.  Why?  I have no idea.  Ecstatic?  Yes.  Mr. Sagarin has an open invite to the tailgate.

Go Tigers!

GO BLUE!

I Hate You Too

As you may have heard, this is a big week.  For Michigan, it is part two of a three part essay on how successful 2009 will be.  In part one, we dispatched of Charlie Pudding Pants and his limp wristed signal caller.  In part three we will take on the Sweatervest and his band of automatic weapon wielding illegally recruited retards.  But now, in this second stanza, we face off against a team whose season is summed up by just a single line every year.  Either Michigan State beats Michigan, or Michigan beats Michigan State.  To them, nothing else matters.  This is all they concentrate on.  This is all they care about.  They flirted a bit this preseason with delusions of "turning around the program," and through some gorilla math, dwelled on having out recruited Michigan, though I never saw a single ranking on Rivals or ESPN that illustrated that fact.  I think they might of out recruited us in Lenawee County, and the Oakland press might have ran with the story.  Today, they'd trade their whole class for Denard or Tate...and we'd decline.

It seems that now, in some way, we have become their oppressors.  We're the bullies.  We're the assholes.  We don't give Michigan State respect...

"Before the game last year, Coach D told us that if you haven't played Michigan, within 30 seconds you'll realize why we don't like them," said defensive end Trevor Anderson. "After about 15 seconds, I realized why I didn't like them. Just the total lack of respect that they have for our school in general. Not just the program, but the general lack of respect they have for us."

Trevor, you are sooo right.  I have absolutely no respect for you.  It's been 20 years since your last Big Ten title.  We have 8 to our name over that span of time.  Hell, Northwestern has 3 since your last.  Your coaches have embarassed themselves, and I'm not just talking about Bobby Williams or John L. Smith.  Your current coach got in a war of words with Mike Hart, and he has placed so much pressure on this one game, I'm not surprised you can't win it.

"I know this is a very important game," Dantonio said. "I try and deal with the present right now. It's a critical game for us. It always will be, regardless of our record."

Right.  And if you were to spend a little less time worrying about October 3rd, and a little more time figuring out the intricacies of Dan LeFevour, maybe you wouldn't have lost to Central Michigan in East Lansing.

And here's where I quote myself...

Some call Michigan vs. Michigan State a rivalry game. Geography plays a part in that. Just 60 miles separate the two campuses, but I remind you that just a few feet of stone separated East and West Berlin. And that's how different these two institutions are.  To the Northwest, smothered in Green and White, lies Michigan State University. A land grant college (the first in fact), by definition it's an A&M...as in Michigan A&M. It was founded in 1855, but wouldn't become a University until 1955. In 1950, Michigan (yes, we were in charge) reluctantly allowed Michigan Agricultural College to join the Big Ten as a replacement for The University of Chicago, who left the conference in 1946. The University of Chicago stopped playing D1 football in 1939, but its seven Big Ten Football titles is still one more than Michigan State has managed to win since. No, seriously, Michigan State has six Big Ten Football championships. Six
This is where the inferiority complex comes into play. It's a pretty serious one. Your typical Michigan State fan was shunned by the University of Michigan coming out of high school. (See The Thin Letter). Occasionally, you'll run into a Sparty that will tell you they chose Michigan State over Michigan. And occasionally, monkeys fly out of my ass. But you have to feel for them. You get shunned academically, then you stand by and watch as your school gets dominated on basically every possible field of play for your career there. And while there is dominance in the Big Ten athletic arena by Michigan over Michigan State, that isn't necessarily the problem. The problem is Michigan State's complete and utter ineptitude overall in sports.
Michigan State has 76 total Big Ten Championships all-time in all sports. Michigan has 337. As a reference for MSU's crappiness, Penn State has 41...they joined the conference in 1991.

But hey, this game...it's important to us too, albeit for different reasons.  We've been known to tighten up for this game, to feel a little pressure ourselves.  Not because we are worried about your talent, not because we are worried about your gameplan, but because we are worried about the fact that on any given Saturday, weird shit can happen.  Weird shit like phantom penalties, missed calls, and clocks managed by members of the fan club that result in extra seconds.  Thank god for rule changes and replay, eh?  But basically, we're afraid that you'll find a way to beat us...and the fact that you are a useless Big Ten representative and useless as a football program in general, losing to you is embarrassing.  Fortunately, it doesn't happen too often.  Because when it does, a few days go by where you pretend to be one of the big boys, and I have to listen to your botched grammar diatribes about how your program is making the turn.  That's of course before the next Saturday comes and you shit the bed against Indiana.

You hate ME?  Let me tell you what...I hate you so much more.  If you had your act together over the last 40 years we could have had something pretty cool going on here, like Texas-Oklahoma or Florida-Florida State.  Unfortunately, you aren't any good, ever, so playing you is a lose-lose situation, just like when we play a MAC school.  If we win, we were supposed to.  If we lose, it's a black mark on the record of the winningest football program of all time.

You are not in our class, you are not in our league, and after Saturday, you will be in our rearview mirror.

GO BLUE!!!  BEAT STATE!!!