Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Ah... the Offseason

In regions affected by cold weather there's a time of year inbetween seasons that turns those regions into no-man's lands. It usually accompanies the Spring thaw. In Alaska they call it Break Up as huge blocks of melting, 'broken up' ice choke the rivers. In New England they call it Mud Season and you wear your duck shoes and roll up the cuffs of your cordurouy pants if you know what's good for you.

In College Football we call it Offseason and fuck all if it isn't the better 2/3 of each and every year. It's the time when recruiting, depth chart and coaching staff rumors run wild. It's a time when transfers, juco and prison walk-ons and early NFL-draft declarations can radically alter the makeup of a team.

For fans, it's a time when chatboard trash talk takes on bold, creative, wildly unsubstantiated new forms of audacity. And while the bullshit quotient is turned up to 11, it's also the time for patient, thought-out blog entries that penetrate to the philosophical core of this sport.

Since most of the 'news' being crowed this time of year is speculation anyway and the pace is slow, what better time to really overthink absolutely everything?

There's still a lot to talk about. Thanks to our modern invasive media, the next 8 months will amount to an enormous, pre-season hype campaign. So, if you look at the glass half-full, as I try to do, the *Offseason* can really be seen as *Preseason*.

Here's what I've been following so far this preseason:

In Pocatello, Idaho, home of the I-AA Powerhouse Idaho State Bengals, they're pretty stoked for the 2006 season after reaping the benefits of Michigan's recruiting and landing transfer QB Matt Gutierrez, who was named Michigan's starter before the 2004 season but absolutely fucked by fate when a freaky shoulder injury sidelined him and Chad Henne took the reins.

Michigan's third back on the depth chart, Fumble Master Pro, Max Martin, has transferred to Alabama, in what I think is a fair karmic trade with the South, for surprise, stud Michigan commits Carlos Brown and Jai Eugene.

With strong linebackers in Chris Graham and Cobrani "This Guy Knows Facial Hair" Mixon it's shaping up to be another strong recruiting class that addresses Michigan's glaring defensive needs. (The core of the offense returns next season). So the team should be well-rounded, but as always the big question is will Michigan, admittedly the NCAA's most underachieving football program, do anything with the talent?

Again, the Information SuperHighway addresses this question too, with dark, angry rumors coming out of the Michigan blogosphere to the effect that Michigan offensive coordinator, Terry Malone, and defensive coordinator, Jim Herrmann, are in big, big trouble. People talk and they are saying that Herrmann's dusted off his resume in search of a face-saving assistant post in the NFL as he and Malone are facing demotions, forced resignations or possibly even outright firings.

It doesn't sound like Llllloyd to shake things up like this. I mean he takes his turkey on white with no mayo, mustard or veg. But the fact is Michigan's got to do something drastic to turn the tide and one more year of this shit, throw in two more losses to Notre Fucking Dame and tOSU and a fourth consecutive Bowl loss and that 1997 National Championship shield is about to break.

If the rumors are true, and Scott Loeffler and Ron English are the heir apparent OC and DC, this could mark a seachange in Michigan's on-field philosophy with Carr taking more of a figurehead role ala Bobby Bowden or JoePa.

No doubt it will be interesting to see how things shake out.

I do have to take one issue with the previous posting, and that is with Ohio State's #1 Preseason ranking. They're losing their entire defense. I don't care how loaded the offense is, who is going to pick up A.J. Hawk's 121 tackles? Not Paul Posluszny, he's coming back for Penn State. The defense was the margin last year in the close games, the Texas, Penn State and Michigan games. That could be three losses plus Iowa if they show up.

I think next year will be marked by ridiculous parity, with no dominant teams. The National Championship winner will be flying under the radar for a while.

Finally, what is Marcus Vick's problem?

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