Monday, July 4, 2011

Don't do it Dave!

Michigan Athletic Director Dave Brandon floated a trial balloon last week – “We're interested in doing a mascot” – he announced.

A Michigan mascot idea is a dumb idea. 

How many cool mascots are there out there?  There’s Ralphie the buffalo in Boulder.  There’s nothing like being at Folsom Field and seeing her stampede onto the field.  I’ve always wondered if making her run before 54,000 fans should be considered cruelty to an animal - but that’s a story for another time.  Students at Oregon love their duck – but what else are you going to do if your team is named the Ducks.  And then there’s the story of the UC Santa Cruz Banana Slugs.

Brandon says it will be good for kids, stating, ‘But there's a generation coming up, and you've got to connect with them and keep them excited."  

I say there’s enough magic walking into Michigan Stadium just as it is.  If a kid isn’t hooked on that experience, forget about them!

Dave, look at the stupid mascots around the Big Ten – a gopher, a badger, a buckeye nut.  Don’t stoop to the levels of lesser schools.

I agree with Brian Bennett of – “Many Michigan fans cherish their tradition of non-tradition with mascots. For them, a big fuzzy costumed animal belongs at a theme park, not at the Big House.”

Friday, March 18, 2011

Tressel gets caught!

Jim Tressel lived up to his reputation – a cross between a weasel and a slime ball.  I’m thrilled he finally got caught, and caught at a big one.  Not only did he get caught violating rules, he’s been caught covering up.

All eleven NCAA football coaches who have been caught not reporting violations to their superiors have been fired.  The press is saying that Tressel seems to be keeping his job because he’s a winner.  I say he’s keeping his job because his superiors are just as rotten as he is.  The OSU president, Gordon Gee stating at the recent news conference: “Are you kidding me? ... I'm just hoping the coach doesn't dismiss me.”  How many of you could break a major “company” rule and have your boss say that?

The OSU could have avoided a lot of bad press had they simply given Tressel a more just punishment.  The weak punishment will only bring greater scrutiny by the NCAA and hopefully the sanctions will be all the tougher.  I mean, how can players be suspended for five games for selling merchandise, and their coach who lies about is only suspended for two?

I say let the OSU keep their coach if that’s the kind of guy they wanting running their program.  However, I implore to the NCAA that they suspend him for the full upcoming season.

The tide is turning, with Michigan on the rise, and the OSU leaking.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

National Signing Day 2011

First, I think it’s ridiculous that high schoolers announcing where they are choosing to play college football is a national sports event.  I guess that’s what happens when cable stations have too much time on their hands.

Regarding the national signing holiday and the Hoke Era at the University of Michigan, we’re off to a very good start.  Though many had written off this year’s class as a result of the coaching change, Hoke and his staff finished strong.  More importantly, Hoke’s first class exceeded expectations.  If Hoke keeps it up we’ll be in good shape soon enough.  

Compare the new Hoke era to the rough start of the former Rodriguez era – not an ounce of bad press on his San Diego departure, he didn’t lose his prize recruit to the OSU, and not one defection from the football team.

Hoke is proud to be a Michigan Man, and it shows.  He is no different than the few who might be reading this post on my new and unknown blog.  Hoke is captivated by the Michigan Football and when one loves the program and his job as much as Hoke does, magic can happen.  Though this may not go down as one of the greatest classes ever, it’s a class to be proud of.   Now, let’s watch the new recruits exceed expectations.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Denard Interview

Hoke and the Rivalry

I remember Bo’s first game against Ohio State – we beat the buckeyes 24-12.   At the age of thirteen I was riveted to the television for the famous 10-10 tie in 1973.  When Michigan Football is in your blood, it’s in your blood.  

Hoke understands this – he was a kid from Ohio who was smart enough to know which was the better of the two schools - UM or the OSU.  Such is what I ascertained he was speaking about when he said he knew the rivalry from both sides of the border.  He didn’t say as much as he’s more of a gentleman than I am.

At 52 years old, I’m the same age as Hoke.  Growing up, I too was aware of how the big state schools ranked academically.  My parents had them Michigan, Wisconsin, Michigan State.  The OSU was not even on their list for me... nor was it a wish of any parent of a halfway smart kid. 

Michigan was the best school of the bunch, and it remains so.  Michigan is academically superior to the OSU and attracts kids from all over the US – Ohio included.  For that reason you’ll always see a half dozen or more Ohio kids on the Michigan team, yet hardly ever does a kid go south, football player or otherwise.  When I was coming up through school, I aspired to go to one of two schools – Stanford or Michigan.  For reasons other than lack of football scholarship, I applied only to Michigan.  

There’s something special about Michigan Football that a few down years will never tarnish.  No knowledgeable football fan in this country needs to look for the name of the team on the screen when the Wolverines are on the field.  Even those who are not Michigan fans know the program has put together good teams more often than not through the years.  Not a day goes by when wearing my Michigan cap on the streets of Telluride, Colorado that I’m not greeted with at least two “Go Blues!”  When your school owns a color, it’s especially special.

This is not the first time Michigan Football has struggled – nor will it be the last.  It’s no fun not having beaten the lesser school for six years, yet let’s not forget they had their John Cooper years only to re-emerge as a power.   It is time for Michigan to re-emerge.  It’s time to make beating the lesser school a priority again.  Let’s get back to basics.

Hoke understands this.  As well, he understands the Michigan magic.  He’s made a believer out of me.  I’m fired up listening to him and reading his interviews.  Denard looked into his eyes and saw whatever he needed and chose to stay.  That’s good enough for me.  

Go Blue!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Denard staying at UM

Brady Hoke announced on a radio show today that Denard Robinson will be staying at Michigan.  As well, Dave Brandon announced the same on twitter.

The Hoke Express is rolling!

More on Hoke

Looking back at the coaching search, I am ever more convinced that Dave Brandon knew what he was doing, and that he knew what he was doing for quite some time.  I believe he had been in touch with Jim Harbaugh over many months.  He said as much at the RR firing press conference – and that he was fairly certain Harbaugh had his eyes set on the NFL.  Such was the case.

The same goes for Les Miles, Brandon’s former teammate.  Brandon probably had numerous discussions with The Hat over time.  In those discussions the two men got clear as to whether there was a match.  Did Miles really want to stay at LSU?  Or, was Miles too much of a wild card for Brandon and Michigan?  We may never know.  In the end, there was a peaceful ending, and that’s what Michigan Football needed.

That said, Hoke was probably the number one candidate from the beginning.  This too was alluded to in the Hoke press conference yesterday.  Brandon and Hoke met within a day or two of the RR firing – before Harbaugh took the 49ers job and before Brandon went to see Miles.  As I mentioned the other day, the Brandon Rouge trip was scripted – before the eyes of the world – while the Hoke visit the week before was completely under the radar.

My only question to Brandon: Why didn't you make the switch in the days/weeks after the ohio state game?

I believe Hoke will do just fine at UM.  Magic can happen with a Michigan man at the helm and a united fan base.  Hoke is widely regarded as a great recruiter and he's turned around two programs as well.  Forget the 47-50 record, here's what's important:

1.   Ball State as 6-6 in 2002.  Hoke took over in 2003 and they won the MAC in 2008, going undefeated in the regular season.
2.   SDSU was 2-10 in 2008.  Hoke took over in 2009 and they were 9-4 last year, with losses to Mizzou, BYU, TCU, and Utah.
Michigan is not as far away from seriously contending in the Big Ten as Ball State and San Diego State were in their respective conferences.  When there is chemistry with the coach and the team, turnarounds don't have to be as dire as the common perception.  If (when) Hoke unites the team, I think we can expect to see good/great things on the field.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

He would have walked across the country for this job

…and he told Brandon in the first four seconds of his interview that Michigan was his dream job.

…and he agreed to take the job even before the subject of money had been discussed.

…and he stated that he will be in Ann Arbor forever given the opportunity to do so.

Brady Hoke's words summed up how I feel as a UofM fan.  There is a commitment to Michigan in Hoke that equals and rivals any true blue Michigan fan.  Simply for that reason, I believe Michigan Football is now, already, on the upswing.

In his introductory press conference Brady spoke about a foundation of toughness, and about believing in who you are, and about believing and being true to your principals.  He was present, he was determined in his attitude and his spirit, and he was passionate.  He was both sincere and authentic.  Any doubts I had on this hire are gone.

Brady Hoke is not the fancy name, nor is he the pick to make for big headlines.  Michigan didn’t need that – it needed someone who breathes maize and blue.  We got our man.  I believe Hoke will bring to the program what was so sorely missing during the RR years: a winning attitude. and more importantly, a winning formula.  

Jason Whitlock, Fox Sports analyst and Ball State alumnus sums up the hire nicely: "Brady Hoke loves hard. He loves his family, his players, his assistant coaches, Ball State football and Michigan football. You think winning 12 games and getting into the BCS conversation is difficult at Stanford? Try doing it at Ball State.   Hoke  loves Ann Arbor. He'd crawl on hot, broken glass to work inside Schembechler Hall as the head coach. ... He has an uncanny ability to get kids to believe in him and believe in themselves. He doesn't do it with smooth words. He's not smooth. He does it by being the same genuine person day after day. ... He connects. The kids hang on his words, respond to his tough love and accept his discipline."

Hoke spoke to the importance of winning over the current players.  And to start recruiting immediately.  I would be excited to play for this guy.


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Brady Hoke Gets Hired

I'll post more thoughts on Hoke after his news conference tomorrow.

My initial take:

On the plus side, the man would have walked across the country for the Michigan job.  He'll be fully loyal to the program.

On the minus side, the man looks like he's disconnected from his body.  Where's his passion?  Check out this video on Maize n Brew:

My Take on Brandon

As I wrote in my January 9 post, "I believe Dave Brandon far too smart and calculating to not know what he is doing.  In fact, I believe he's had a plan, and back-up plan, and back-up plan to the back-up plan in place for some time.  And it goes something like this: Jim Harbaugh, then Les Miles, then Brady Hoke."

That's right - Brandon knew who he was going to hire when he fired the RR.  Michael Rosenberg of the Free Press nails it on the head - check out his article:

Brandon has had a plan in place for some time now.  I would not understate him.  He did not go to Baton Rouge to get turned down.  No, that was scripted.  And well-managed.

Brandon is being a great Athletic Director.  He is restoring dignity to his school in the way he is going about this.  Not a word has leaked.  And when he was approached by a reporter at Willow Run Airport, the only words out of his mouth were, "Hawaii was terrific."   My wisest friend, Seymour, always says that.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The State of Michigan Football

It’s been five days since Dave Brandon fired Rich Rod.  The Michigan faithful wait patiently.  Or at least they try to.

I believe Dave Brandon far too smart and calculating to not know what he is doing.  In fact, I believe he's had a plan, and back-up plan, and back-up plan to the back-up plan in place for some time.  And it goes something like this: Jim Harbaugh, then Les Miles, then Brady Hoke.  

I can't help but to notice that he's going about this transaction in the exact opposite manner than Bill Martin - almost as if to unwind the past.  He allowed both Harbaugh or Miles to finish their bowl games before having their names come into play.  Imagine a new coach coming to Ann Arbor without controversy, nay saying, or second-guessing.  The next coach comes to Michigan in a dignified manner, as opposed to the way Martin enabled RichRod to slip out of West Virginia in the middle of the night. Such a strategy could even be construed to be the Michigan Way of doing things.

Why is Michigan football in its present state?

Bill Martin never had a post-Lloyd Carr plan in place.  The program should have been grooming Carr’s successor for years.  The AD was seemingly caught off guard when Carr resigned.  Not being a football man, he then made the situation worse by not considering all the ramifications of the Rodriguez hire.

Michigan football can expect a quick turnaround – with the right coach at the helm.  Jim Harbaugh reversed Stanford’s fortunes in two years.  Gene Chizik took two years to put Auburn in position to win the National Championship.  Bo Pelini has reversed Nebraska’s Bill Callahan fiasco in just three years.  So too can it be for Michigan when it brings in the right man.

I believe Miles or Hoke can get the job done.  Either will a good choice.  We have a lot of great young players.  Defense must be a priority again.  The next coach must lead a crusade in returning Michigan to greatness.  Brandon understands that he needs to unite the faithful and bring back the pride.  It’s far from gone, just a little rumpled.