Saturday, July 31, 2010

My Overview (by unit) of the 2010 M Football Team

In 5 or fewer words per unit

QBs: Both should be better
RBs: Many choices, no gamebreakers
WRs: See RBs
TE: Can Koger reach potential?
OLine: Solid Unit if no injuries
Kicker: I expect inconsistency
DL: Graham gone, but still good
LBs Much potential, needs to improve
DBs: Multiple weak links, needs help
Punter: Spring game was scary
Coaching Staff: Everything's been said before

Overall: Should be better. How much?

What I Don't Like About Drob

His number.

#16 should be worn by big QBs with strong arms, not running QBs.

Three of the best QBs in NFL history wore #16:
Joe Montana
George Blanda
Gary Danielson

Denard should be wearing a single digit number. Maybe#5. I hear that number is commonly used by very fast players.

Countday to kickoff - 35 days

October 30, 1976, Michigan 45 - Minnesota 0

This game would not be on the list if it weren't for it being the first game I attended. Michigan was undefeated and ranked #1 in the country, Minnesota had little going for it except their QB from Jackson, Tony Dungy. Michigan's roster was full of the names I'd heard Bob Ufer talk so much about. Rick Leach, Rob Lytle, Jim Smith, Calvin O'Neal, Dwight Hicks, Harlan Huckleby...

This was my first time in Ann Arbor, They had a pep rally Friday night - it was homecoming and they still did things like that back then. I remember Bo was there, and some of the players. Then we went back to the hotel and saw some of the pep rally on the local news.

I don't remember much about the actual game. I remember coming into the stadium. It really was the case that because of the low profile - before the luxury box additions - the true size of the stadium was hidden until you got inside. I remember thinking "this is big enough for 20 Gladstones!"

My dad got us tickets through Pam Anderson(?), from Gladstone, who worked in the football office somewhere. We were in row A right behind the Minnesota bench. There was a lot of complaining about the players not sitting down so we couldn't see. It was raining throughout the game. And since it got out of hand we were able to move back a few rows to see more of the action.

I can remember a few Michigan games on TV before this, OSU in 74 and 75, Purdue in 74, The Orange Bowl against Oklahoma in 76 and as I mentioned I remember listening to games on the radio; but this made it real and certainly solidified my love for Michigan Football. I've been to bigger and better M games since (34 will be listed here) but none of them will ever be the first.

Friday, July 30, 2010

35th season of Michigan football

September 3rd will begin my 35th season of attending Michigan football games. Tomorrow will be 35 days to kickoff, so tomorrow I'll count down the top 35 games I've attended.
Hopefully this isn't a spoiler alert, but I'll start with the honorable mention games in chronological order.
1988 Notre Dame 19, Michigan 17 - Under the lights in South Bend, special teams were the difference. ND returns a punt for a TD and Reggie Ho makes 3 FGs; Mike Gillette misses as time expires. My seats had no angle on the goal post, so we were all sheering thinking it was good, then I noticed the ND fans pour out of the endzone, so I knew it had to be wide.
The next week M faced Jimmy Johnson's Miami Hurricanes. M dominated for much of the game, this was probably Michale Taylor's best game. Then Miami started to comeback, got an onside kick and beats M 31-30.
1989 ND 24, M 19 - Raghib Ismail
1991 M 24; ND 14 - M had lost 4 straight to ND - Desmond Howard put an end to that. This was the first game on grass in Ann Arbor since 1968. Steve Everitt's jaw got destroyed on a Desmond reverse for a TD early in the game. Then on 4th and inches

1991 M 31 - OSU 3 - Desmond Howard and the Heisman pose
1992 M and Illinois tie 22-22 = this is the only tie I've seen. Pete Elozevich hit a field goal at the end to preserve the tie for Michigan.
1995 M 5 Purdue 0 - Just ridiculous weather. Snow, sleet, rain, locusts...
1997 M 21 - ND 14 - there were a few games in 1997 that Michigan tried to give away, this was one of them. Seems like M had 3 4th quarter turnovers giving the ball back to ND with a chance to tie or take the lead, but the defensive dominance of that 1997 team, just shut them down.
1998 OSU 31, M 16 - My only trip to Columbus. Before the renovation on the first row on the risers on the track. SCARY!
2000 M 35 - Illinois 31 - Under the lights in Champagne - Navarre started for the injured Henson and was horrible. Henson came in the entire game changed. M still needed a couple breaks on fumble/non-fumble calls to eek it out in a hostile environment.
2000 Purdue 32 - M 31 - Henson was dominant in the first half. 4 TDs on 4 possessions. In the second half they just needed a few first downs, but could never do it. The defense got a turnover in the first half but other than that was never really able to stop Drew Brees.
2002 M 26 - PSU 23. First overtime game in the Big House. Game was closer than it needed to be, but Perry punched it in in OT after the D had held the Lions to a FG.
2003 M 27 - MSU 20 in East Lansing. Chris Perry needs 51 carries to put the game away after a horrible fumble call yields a defensive TD for MSU.
2005 M34 - MSU 31 in OT in East Lansing. M was 2-2 and Mike Hart was a little banged up - but he managed to rumble for 218 yards. Rivas hit the winner in OT after missing a chance to win in regulation - following a perfectly executed drive.
2009 M 36 - Indiana 33 - I have never seen M lose to Indiana; this was the closest to a loss (there was one very close to a tie, but that we'll see in the big list.) Forcier lead M on an amazing late scoring drive to finally put the game away.... and then the D makes a horrible adjustment and the Hoosiers break a long run to take back the lead. Forcier does it again to put M back in front. A friendly call on a Warren interception finally ends Indiana's last hope.
2009 MSU 26 - M 20. Michigan was outplayed for much of the game. But in the final quarter the weather got weird and Tate Forcier worked some magic. The tying TD coming as time expired to Roundtree, In retrospect they should have gone for two. Quick interception in OT and poor tackling ends the dream comeback in the first OT.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Some more comments on Mike's predictions

As I look at Mike's predictions for next year, I can't help but think how reasonable each of his game predictions are. But, I also can't help but feel that M can never win 7 games. "Why is this?", I asked myself. And, without much thinking, I came up with a theory. Since RR has arrived, M loses too many games they shouldn't.

The only way I could really check this (using numbers, and not doing too much work) is to look at the spread and see how many times M has lost when favored. That number is 8. Compare that to wins when M is the underdog, which is 3. That makes the argument for a 7-5 M team very difficult to swallow.

I'm not sure how to interpret this next part, but since RR's arrival, M has been favored 11 games, and has been the dog 12 (Delaware St. was off the board). That could mean that M is often overrated (which is the tradition, of course), or it could mean that M should have won half the games they've played the past two seasons. I don't know what it means.

Dave Birkett thinks UConn and MSU are must-wins this season (whatever that means). That may be true. But it is also true, and moreso, that based on RR's history at M, M needs to worry about Indiana and Illinois.

Monday, July 26, 2010

July Prediction for 2010 M Football

Time to look foolish and make my first game-by-game prediction for Michigan football this season.

9/4 UConn - Win
9/11 @ Notre Dame - Loss
9/18 - UMass - Win
9/25 - Bowling Green - Win
10/2 - @ Indiana - Win
10/9 - MSU - Win
10/16 - Iowa - Loss
10/30 @ PSU - Loss
11/6 - Illinois - Win
11/13 @ Purdue - Win
11/20 - Wisconsin - Loss
11/27 - @ OSU - Loss

Make M 7-5 overall and 4-4 in conference. This will put M into... the Texas Bowl (in the old Cotton Bowl) against Missouri a win moves M to 8-5 overall...

80% confidence range (regular season games only) 5-7 wins
90% confidence range 4-8 wins
100% confidence range 4-9 wins

Friday, July 23, 2010

Paying players in the NCAA

Lots of talk about paying college athletes again.

Ryen Russillo on espn radio's Scott VanPelt Show suggested having agents pay players not the universities. He came up with a very convoluted plan that included limits on how many players an agent could have on one team as well as salary caps for the teams.

AA News alum, Jason Whitlock has a strong opinion that the NCAA is the evil doer. On WDFN Ermani and callers extended the article into the NCAA taking money from poor minority athletes in football and basketball and transferring it to white kids in lacrosse, gymnastics and swimming. I guess I can see some of that argument.

But I'm fully in the camp that they are getting paid, they're getting a full ride scholarship. I can see extending the benefits to the athletes in such a way as extending their educational opportunities. I would be in favor of making the scholarships a multi-year guarantee. Not the one year contract they are now. And ideally it would be a 4-8 year guarantee. Because the time requirements are so great, the scholarship extends past the eligibility of the player.

College football and basketball are able to compete with professional sports for two reasons:
1 -The greater numbers make it more local. There are only ~ 130 professional teams in the 4 major sports, there are almost that many FBS football teams.
2 - The myth of commonality and association. "I went to Michigan - so I have had some of the same experiences as Tate Forcier" or "I'm from the plains of Alabama so I like Auburn." It doesn't matter that Forcier is from southern California and our shared experiences likely end at English 125, he's my guy because he wears the winged helmet. suppose the "plains of Alabama" thought does extend somewhat to professional sports, after all I'm a fan of all the professional teams in Michigan. However, I've never felt as strongly about those teams triumphs and failures as I do UofMs.

In addition to extending the scholarships, lets end the age limits in the NBA and NFL. If the athletes want to get paid right away, let them go right to the pros. That should greatly diminish the ridiculous one-and-done players in basketball. I would be interested in how it would work in football. How many 18 year old kids could go right to the NFL? I think it would have to be less.

I don't think the TV money machine would be affected one bit. The alums want to see their team much more than their teams particular players...

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Tour of Michigan Stadium

Here's a link to some of the photos I took last night at Michigan Stadium.

The suites are pretty cool - I've never been to one in another stadium so I don't have anything to compare it to, but they seemed pretty close to the action, looked nice inside. I think the corners would be the best because they also have side windows....

Since I don;t have an extra $85,000 for a suite, the club seating is more interesting to me. The open general areas behind the outdoor seating is very cool. Both levels have outstanding sight lines. The cheapest club seats are $1500 + the tickets. Supposedly 80% of the $1500 is tax deductible. That is something to consider in the long-term I guess.

But at this point, I consider my seat the best deal in the house. 4 seats from the start of the seat license area, 3 rows below the club seating. And I save $1000-1500!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Hated teams and players

With the circus surrounding LeBron James signing with the Heat, the topic came up, "are the Heat now the most hated NBA team?"

When I think of most hated teams there are some obvious choices that jump out in the respective leagues.

MLB - NY Yankees - I don't think there is any question the Yankees are the most hated MLB team and likely the most hated of all teams. Their domination of nearly every decade since the 1920s is the main crime. But certainly the Yankees ability to buy whichever players they want doesn't help.

I don't even know who the 2nd most hated team would be. Maybe the Post 2004 Red Sox and the birth Of "Red Sox Nation?" Particular fanbases may have a second team to hate Cubs fans hate the Chisox and the Cardinals; Dodgers hate the Giants etc. But no one comes close to the Yankees in hatred.

As far as individual MLB players - I would guess A-Rod is the leader in the hatred clubhouse. Barry Bonds would have been the leader until his retirement. But for the most part I don't think individual players generate much hatred. Again, the hatred is more likely to be local. And more likely to be against their former player who left rather than a longtime opponent. JD Drew is despised in Philadelphia for holding out and not signing as the #1 pick is the biggest example.

NFL - Dallas Cowboys - The arrogance of "America's Team" from the 1970's to Jerry Jones's Big Screen that matches his ego, the Cowboys have to be the most hated team in the NFL.

Prior to their recent fall to obscurity, I think the Raiders would have been the obvious second choice. But out side of Denver, Kansas City and probably parts of Oakland, the Raiders don't create the hate they used to.

The Patriots must have some hatred out there, but my Tom Brady goggles hide that from me.

For individuals, again I think it is the players who have "drawn too much attention." Brett Favre, Chad Ochocinco etc. I guess Michael Vick would probably lead the league do to his violence towards dogs etc.

NBA - I think there is likely a Celtics or Lakers front out there that splits the hatred between those two equally. But the Heat will likely move up to the third most hated.

But outside of that does any other team even make the radar for dislike? The Bad Boy Pistons and the Pat Riley Knicks are long gone... Who could hate the Orlando Magic?

James will get heat more for the attention he drew to the situation (ala Favre) more so than the choice he made (outside of Cleveland). I don't think even Kobe really draws much hatred by opposing fans - maybe by people who dislike the NBA in general.

NHL - Still has rivalries, Maple Leafs - Canadiens; Canadiens - Bruins; Rangers - Bruins; Red Wings - Black Hawks... Maybe the Wings are the most hated - but they seem to have the perhaps the strongest out-of-town fanbase well.

I think it boils down to the hatred in professional leagues boils down to jealousy. The Yankees, Cowboys, Celtics and Lakers win more championships than "our" teams do, so we dislike them. For players it seems to either be someone who left "our" team or someone who gets more attention that "we" think he should.

Real hatred is a level lower in the college ranks. Again I may have a bias because I care much more about NCAA sports than professional sports, but I think it generally holds true. Browns fans may hate the Steelers, but I think they hate Michigan more. Plus with over 100 "major" football programs and 300+ basketball programs there are more chances that you're closer to the local college than the closest professional team.