Thursday, September 13, 2007

Ty Willingham: Back in the Game

A strange thing is happening in college football this week. People are showing genuine admiration for Ty Willingham. After at first criticizing Willingham's lack of progress at Notre Dame, the media then shifted to deploring Willingham's firing from Notre Dame and resurgence at Washington as a racist move by the Irish. Today, as it turns out, it's completely different. Ty Willingham was just waiting for his chance to do something better. As one headline reads, "Turns out Notre Dame wasn’t good enough for Willingham."

Look, I have no problem with Notre Dame bashing, but we are now classifying Washington's 2-0 start and new, fast QB Jake Locker (Bruce Feldman calls him "a fast version of Tebow") as the second coming. Here is what I will give to U Dub: TW's recruits are coming of age, they're coming off a good win against Boise State, and it looks like the program is back in order. And it's a feel good story, for sure.

But today I'm wondering if some of the praise is the media is trying to make up for the fact that they all screwed up in the first place and blamed his firing at Notre Dame on him? Columnists are now having a field day with the Weis vs. Willingham stories, because the contrast is striking (although there are some Willingham players still on Weis' squad). But this week's game against Ohio State is providing columnists across the nation to talk about the coaching prowess that Washington has heading into this big game.

In fact, Scouts (which does game breakdowns for gave the Coaching advantage to Willingham in this game. As far as coaching in Division 1 football games, Willingham is 72-67 as a head coach and Tressel is 64–14.

Tressel has one National Championship and Willingham has none.

I'm not saying Willingham is not a quality coach, and the capriciousness of the media is not at all surprising, but let's at least let him win ONE big game. That's all I'm asking.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The Michigan Line on Oregon

Right now on the InterWeb's best sports betting site, (and they only pay me in gambling earnings that I actually win to say this), Michigan, despite all their evident foibles, is an 8 point favorite going into the game against Oregon.

Sacre bleu, you say. How can this be? Isn't Oregon with their Dennis Dixon to Amanti Edwards something like Appalachian State on I-A 'roids? In other words, isn't Oregon the prefect weapon to take down Michigan? Kryptonite to Michigan's superman? Something like that.

That's what we're lead to believe, but the wise guys in Vegas and the beat reporters at Le Detroit News (whose hard work I've simply stolen in the above graphic) have other suspicions that I'm wont to believe. Michigan's good when they're disrespected.

Interestingly, and I can't find the link at the moment, but this line actually started closer to 6 and that tells us that the savvy gambler agrees. Typically the early movement in the line occurs as the more professional gamblers place their bets early in the week. As hard as it is to believe after last weekend, Michigan by a touchdown looks good to many gamblers.

So good that the line moved to 8 and 8 is a world different than 6 or 7. So the question is, do I believe?

One More Sign of the Apocalypse

OSU fans scoop up Mountaineers gear

As Colin Cowherd said on his radio show the other day: careful Buckeyes. If you think about it it's in your best interested to stay quiet about this fiasco in the waning hopes that Lloyd Carr gets to keep his job. After all, John Cooper's biggest supporters were always Wolverines...

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Big Ten Network Comes Through

The long holiday weekend gave me plenty of time to think about my first post today (Michigan Preview 2008 was the best thing I came up with). But I have to say, the real winner this weekend was the Big Ten Network. After all of my complaining about it, and even the calling out of the BTN schill who commented on our blog, I'm going to reverse my decision.

I have officially joined the club of flip-floppers.

I turned off College Gameday at 8:59 a.m. PT and switched to channel 223 on my DirecTV HD receiver, and after a moment of Deep Purple background music and the DirecTV logo, I was in the booth with Roger Twibell and Mike Tomczak in Columbus, ready to watch my Buckeyes take on the Penguins of Youngstown State.

The BTN delivered everything that it promised: every game was carried over, and in addition to checking in on the Michigan vs. ASU game, I was able to watch Northeastern @ Northwestern, and Florida International @ Penn State. Although I couldn't take my eyes off of the train wreck on Channel 220 (Michigan vs. ASU), I got a great first-time experience watching my Buckeyes on the BTN.

But now knowing that there might be a BTN person reading this blog, I do have a few observations:
  • Green Announcers For those who might not know, Mike Tomczak (one of the announcers) was the Ohio State quarterback from 1982-1984 (and led the Buckeyes to 2 Big Ten championships). I'm assuming he'll do more OSU games, which is fine with me, but he is obviously a beginner in that profession. My experience was similar with all the games.
  • Ridiculous Advertising One thing is for sure: the advertising on the BTN has not yet matched ESPN's level. I saw some of the cheapest, most ridiculous advertising on the BTN...but luckily they have carried on the Big Ten commercials. Those commercials that only Big Ten fans like or care about.
  • Halftime Show? For halftime of the OSU game, they went back to the janky BTN studio for an update of other BTN games in progress. First of all, I can check the other games with a switch of the remote. But secondly (and most importantly), because it's only OSU fans watching the channel anyway, why not show the halftime show? I would have tuned in to watch this week's lucky sousaphone player dot the "i." Maybe they can show some halftime shows this year, then we'll really feel like we're in Columbus, without the couch burning.

Week 1: Scratching My Head

With the first week under our belts it's time to take a step back on reflect on the key takeaways from an eventful weekend in College Football:

* The Michigan Loss is a Really Big Deal - Sports Illustrated says: "Appalachian State's win at Michigan Stadium marked the first time a Football Championship Subdivision team -- formerly I-AA -- beat a team ranked in The Associated Press Top 25."

True dat, the magnitude of this loss will be felt and discussed throughout this season. Whether Michigan salvages a decent season or goes on to fail completely, this game will be seen as the catalyst for whatever befalls the Wolverines from here on out. Repercussions set to amplify should things go bad.

Days later we're still talking about it and getting unique color commentary such as this tidbit also from the SI article linked above:

"Indianapolis Colts defensive back Marlin Jackson, a former Michigan standout, said he was embarrassed by the result.

'We lost to a I-AA program, and we were a top-five team,' he said. 'To go out and be the first team in history to lose to a I-AA team, it hurts.'

Jackson said the loss has been an almost nonstop topic of conversation for him.

'That's all I've been getting the last couple of days. Every text message I get just says `Appalachian State.' That's all it says,' he said.

'The Ohio State guys have been all right. It's everybody else around here. Even coach (Tony) Dungy said something to me about it.'"

* Notre Dame Sucks Worse Without Brady Quinn - Charlie Weis wasn't being coy (as Stewart Mandel lamely suggested) when refusing to name a starter at Notre Dame before the season opened. He just couldn't pick the lesser of three evils since they all flat out suck and so, apparently, do the Fighting Irish. God help them in the upcoming pillow fight at Michigan. Is that game like a consolation prize now that it's the two high-prestige programs who've been brought down to new, humbling lows?

* Cal Had it's 'Coming-Out' Game in the Victory over Tennessee - For a few years now in the Tedford era Cal has been flirting with greatness. I think the Saturday win over Tennessee, nevermind redemption for last year's setback, was Cal's coming-out party. As long as that offense keeps clicking this will be a great team and that date with USC is looming ever larger with National Title implications.

* Washington/Boise State Will Be a Fireworks Display - Both the Dawgs and the Broncos appear loaded with speed aplenty on offense. Washington surprised and delighted as new starting QB Jake Locker scampered all over the Carrier Dome and Syracuse D. Back in Boise, with Tyler Tharp at the helm, things were going as usual with Ian Johnson taking care of 100 yards and a couple of touchdowns before halftime. This equates to a big time match up this weekend in Seattle. Unfortunately nobody that you or I know is televising this except maybe the local Northwest affiliates or a pirate cable access feed in Seattle.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Michigan: Aftermath

It starts....
DREW SHARP: Blame Lloyd Carr; Michigan needs fresh voice soon
The discussion is heating up on and UMGoBlue's Fan Forum, while MGoBlog has seemingly given up forever. Michigan's fan base is in a state of crisis and the pandemonium will not be settled until Michigan takes the field and puts together a convincing win.

I think the question of whether to fire Carr is still premature. He is skating on incredibly thin ice, but has a chance to revive his team and bring them through a successful remaining 11 (12?) games of the season. That will be the true test of his mettle as a coach.

Oregon looks like a stiff challenge this coming Saturday and it is suddenly the marquee match-up of the weekend as all eyes will want to see how Michigan responds and if Carr has any grip on this team.

Saturday, September 01, 2007


Well. It hurts to be a Michigan fan today. So much for big expectations. So much for the sacrifices of Mike Hart, Chad Henne and Jake Long. So much for the grand exit of Lloyd Carr.

This is the single most embarrassing loss in Michigan football history. It hurts Michigan's image as an 'elite' team, damages national respect for the Big Ten and officially sunsets any National Championship aspirations while simultaneously raising serious red flags on anything else Michigan hoped to do this season.

Beat Oregon next weekend? Beat Notre Dame? Ohio State? Big Ten Championship? Forget it all if this team can't handle it's home opener against a 1-AA team. None of it seems likely, or even appropriate, to think about anymore after the fact that Michigan got outclassed by Appalachian State in every facet of the game.

How quickly the tables have turned. It's officially crisis-management time at Michigan.

Now, unless Carr shows us something Phoenician in terms of resurrecting his team by next week, I'd say it's going to be a mighty long season for the Wolverines. Whether they have the talent or not, it's going to come down to the spirit of this team and whether its already broken.