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Editor-in-Chief, UMGoBlue.COM Publisher, UMGoBlog.COM, UMGoVideo.COM, UMGoPodcast,COM Follow on twitter UMGOBLOG
In track they tell runners to push through the finish line.
In baseball, they tell hitters to swing through the ball.
I think it’s time for the Michigan coaching staff to start delivering a similar message to their players.
You’ve heard it over and over since the disappointment of last season. Michigan *MUST* beat Notre Dame and Ohio State. I don’t disagree. But it seems like the team is so focused on the importance of these games that they freeze whenever things don’t go their way.
Ghosts of Notre Dame?
Remember 2004 Notre Dame in South Bend? The Wolverines dominated the first 3 quarters of the game, only to have Notre Dame storm back to win 28-20.
In 2005 the Wolverines fumbled twice within their own 10 yard line, losing 17-10, while totaling up nearly 100 more yards than the Irish on offense.
No matter how well Michigan played it they seemed to just be waiting for the myth of Notre Dame trip them up. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. The Wolverines hear stories of Irish luck in games past and then as soon as something goes wrong they fold.
I have a novel approach for playing the Irish this year.
Treat them like a team that’s just 15-9 over the last two seasons with a new coach at helm.
Forget about Knute Rockne, Rocket Ishmael, and Joe Montana.
You can be sure the Notre Dame coaching staff isn’t talking about Michigan tradition.
Treat them like any other non-conference for and put a beating down on them.
Buckeyes on the brain
Since Jim Tressell has taken over in Columbus he’s owned the Wolverines compiling a, 4-1 record. And if you ask any pundit they’ll tell you he’s the best coach in the Big Ten. Critics of Lloyd Carr are quick to point out that if you take take away his undefeated 1997 season that his record is mediocre at best.
Lloyd Carr 90-34 .725 (1995 through 2005 minus 1997)
But what if we do the same to St. Tressell?
Jim Tressell 37-13 .740 (2001 through 2005 minus 2002)
Of course you need to take into account that Tressell’s success against the Wolverines and the stellar track record his players have in the classroom and community during his tenure.
The fact remains that if not for his success against Michigan OSU fans would probably be hanging him in effigy.
Fan of the both teams should be demanding more from programs who have the tradition and resources of these traditional rivals.
Why hasn’t Michigan played in the BCS championship game under Lloyd Carr?
Considering the number of players that Ohio State consistently sends to the NFL (not to mention jail) why haven’t they returned to the BCS championship game?
You have to wonder if Maurice Clarett’s troubles surfaced duirng the 2002 season rather than afterwards would the Buckeyes have the National Championship that year?
Beating Notre Dame and Ohio State isn’t enough
Many fans say that this season will be successful if Michigan can beat the Fighting Irish and the Buckeyes. I say beat them, and while you’re at it beat everyone else.
The Wolverine need to instill fear again
Remember the OSU game last year when the Buckeyes got the ball back with around a minute to go and drove down for the winning touchdown? They don’t fear us anymore. They couldn’t wait to get on the field.
And it’s just not the Buckeyes. You only need to look at the losses from last season.
Teams used to be intimidated heading into Michigan Stadium, now they know that the Wolverines are vulnerable.
I say the best way to stop that nonsense is to hang a beating on Vanderbilt and Central Michigan prior to the thrashing Notre Dame.
No more glorified scrimmages. No more holding back half the play book.
Get the swagger back- early. If the Wolverines come out firing this season the Irish will be the ones worried.
With OSU breaking in a number of new defenders a high powered Michigan offense might be just the thing to stop the trend of OSU domination.
New message- beat them all!
There’s no easier way to put it…As the the late and great Fielding Yost said, “…Who are they to beat a Michigan Team?”
Don’t call it a comeback
I been here for years
Rockin’ my peers
Puttin’ suckers in fear
Makin’ the tears rain down like a monsoon
Listen to the bass go boom
Over the competition, I’m towerin’
It’s payback time.
A few well-connected fans of the Michigan football program have mounted a campaign to turn back the clock in Ann Arbor. While most fans and alumni are excited by the changes coming to the Big House, a few have taken it upon themselves to substitute their judgement for ours.
What really irritates me about this effort is how traditional media is being “spun” by opponents of the renovation plan.
Unable to arouse interest in their agenda they have turned to their media contacts to pump up their flagging campaign. The latest media salvo comes from Frank Debord at Sports Illustrated.
So can you believe it? There is actually a place in America today where humble citizens are fighting the construction of luxury boxes. Yes, in Ann Arbor, Mich., home of what is called the Big House, the largest stadium in America, many alumni and professors of the University of Michigan are vigorously trying to persuade the Board of Regents not to approve the plans of the university president and athletic director to spend something like a quarter of a billion dollars to build 78 suites that would rent for up to $85,000 apiece for a mere seven college football games…So finally, somewhere in the Republic, the lowly common folk have risen up against the sports aristocracy.
Hey Frank- you want to define MANY for us? And who are these “humble citizens” fighting the renovation of the Big House? Last I checked the figurehead of this effort is John Pollack who created a web site which claims thousands of electronic signatures opposing the renovation. Of course, you need to do some digging to track this information down because he doesn’t have his name anywhere on the web site. Hey John- what’s with the mystery?
So who is John Pollack? A web search turns up the following bio:
A former speechwriter for President Bill Clinton, John Pollack has built the world’s first cork boat.
Prior to his work in the private sector, John worked at the White House and on Capitol Hill, where he was the wordsmith for House Democratic Whip David Bonior. John’s speechwriting skills developed from extensive campaign experience and his work as a journalist, both in the United States and abroad.
A 1988 graduate of Stanford University, he began his writing career as a reporter for the Hartford Courant, covering local government in suburban Connecticut. Later, he spent three years in Spain as a foreign correspondent, covering everything from business to bullfights for the Associated Press, the Los Angeles Times, Advertising Age and other media. His first book, The World On a String: How to Become a Freelance Foreign Correspondent, grew out of that experience. Recently, he published Cork Boat, a non-fiction account of his 30-year quest to build a 22-foot Viking ship made completely from wine corks, and its 2002 voyage down Portugal’s Douro River.
Hardly an average Joe. And this guy is telling us about Michigan Tradition?
John Pollock, who loves Ann Arbor but doesn’t live here.
John Pollock, who loves the University of Michigan but couldn’t be bothered to attend.
It’s great that he takes time to tell alumni and those who live here- us hicks in fly over country- what we should be thinking. Thanks.
I don’t need someone to tell me about Michigan tradition. And I don’t think that most Michigan fans need to be told either Michigan fans are quite capable of deciding for themselves what they think about the renovation plan.
Fans have no problem reacting to things they don’t like. Criticsm of the halo was immediate and vociferous. When Michgian and Ohio State made plans to sell the naming rights of THE GAME, phones lit up at the athletic department when Lloyd Carr himself made it known that he didn’t support the plan. A few days later the plan was scrapped.
I’ve been critical of how the athletic department with the approval of the regents have gone about their business in the past. I may not like their tactics, but the plan itself seems sound. There is only one issue that Michigan fans are united on- an issue that the Michigan Athletic Department and these “opponents of the renovation” aren’t addressing. Fans want the Big House to stay the Biggest House in the land. When attending a game at Michigan Stadium, they want be “among largest crowd watching a football game in America today.”
The current renovation plan adds a minuscule amount of seats to the football stadium and adds debt that will probably preclude any large scale addition of seats, such as an upper deck, in foreseeable future. The foes of the renovation want you to believe that most fans want things to stay the same, indeed most fans want change that embraces the Michigan Tradition of having the largest capacity stadium in the country.
Moving Ahead in Ann Arbor
I can’t support the opponents of the stadium renovation. The fact is that the stadium has been evolving practically from the time it was built. To stop this evolution is a betrayal of the great Michigan tradition of being the “Leaders and Best.”
But I do have a recommendation for the foes of the renovation. The next time you fly into Detroit-Metro airport head east to Dearborn before visiting Ann Arbor. Pay a visit to Greenfield Village at the Henry Ford Museum and you can see a number of historical buildings that have remained unchanged.
But in Ann Arbor were heading into the future and we’re taking steps to make sure that Michigan Stadium is safe, sound, and viable for generations of Wolverines to come.
“There comes a time when all the cosmic tumblers have clicked into place and the universe opens itself up for a few seconds to show you what’s possible.”
Ray Kinesella- Field Of Dreams
I should have written sooner but I’ve been afraid I would break the spell.
After over a decade of consistent failure the Tigers are not only in first place in their division, but indeed have the best record in baseball. Friends who in prior years wouldn’t be caught dead using my season tickets are now calling to see if I have any games to sell. The new Tiger Stadium is jam packed with people night after night.
So what’s going on? Well, as long time Tigers victim fan I’ll try to bring the you bandwagon jumpers up to speed.
When last we left our heroes
At the tail end of last season things were bleak for the Tigers. High priced free agent signings such as Magglio Orgonez, Troy Perceival, Pudge Rodriguez, and Ugeuth Urbina had gotton the team nowhere. Magglio missed large chunks of the season with various ailments, Perceival was diagnosed with a career ending arm injury, Pudge was in a nasty funk due to being in the middle of divorcing his wife, and Ugeuth had been offloaded in a trade to the Philadelphia Phillies for second baseman Placido Polanco.
Every time the Tigers reached the .500 mark they would start another losing streak. Eventually the wheels came off and they ended up 20 games under (71-91). But the really disturbing thing is that they seemed to get worse once they began to get their player back from injury. I came extremely lose to giving up my season tickets. I love baseball and enjoy going to games but the teams seamed to be regressing.
I hoped for a major shake-up in the offseason. And we really didn’t get it. The Tigers fired Manager Alan Trammell and brought in Jim Leyland to replace him. At the time this didn’t seem to be that big of a deal- more on this later. They also signed pitcher Kenny Rogers and relief pitcher Todd Jones. These were hardly the signings I had hoped for. Kenny Rogers had been involved in an off-the-field incident last season where he got into an altercation with a cameraman and Todd Jones has previously been with the team. Ugggh.
So as the season began I had muted expectations to say the least. I figured if everyone stayed healthy the Tiger might end 5-10 games over .500 but then again I thought they should have finished near .500 in 2005.
And then an amazing thing happened. Actually a number of amazing things. The Tigers starting winning…and winning…and winning. They’ve developed a swagger that you rarely see. They honestly believe that they are going to wing every game no matter how far they get or what happens.
Down in the 9th inning? No problem.
Ken Griffey hits a grand slam late in the game to take the lead? No sweat.
Five runs down in the 6th inning? Yawn.
Jim Leyland has taken control of the club that floundered last last season. He’s created an atmosphere where veteran and rookie alike knows what’s expected of them. The Tigers have been remarkably injury-free. An injury to starting pitcher Mike Maroth was filled with prospect Zach Minor. The biggest change was bringing in veteran pitcher Kenny Rogers. By him having a great season (and remarkably not getting into fights with the local media) he has solidified a Tigers pitching staff that looks incredibly strong right now.
A kind of magic
I don’t know how long this ride will last. But over the last four months I’ve seen some things happen that are just amazing. Baseball is a sport ruled by statistics and probablities but there is no explanation for things I’ve seen this season while watching the Tigers.
Two out opposite field home runs in the bottom of the ninth inning. Infield singles. Opportune errors by opponents. Five run rallies. I’ve been at games this season when the Tigers have been down we sit there and wonder how they’re going to come back this time…And they do. I’ve seen the stadium packed with over 40,000 screaming fans calling for a ninth inning comeback…And the Tigers have responded. A starting pitcher get hurt…Just call the next guy up from the minors and watch him run off a string of victories.
These are seasons that make life long fans.
It’s the sweet mystery of baseball when inexplicably the mathematically probablities stop applying for certain teams. When you’re head tells something can’t happen but your heart tells you it will- that it must. When what happens on the field seems less determined by probablites and more by what’s possible.
I don’t know how much longer this ride will last. Maybe the Tigers won’t even make the play-offs. Perhaps the wheels will fall of as many naysayers have been predicting all season.
But one thing is certain. If you haven’t been paying attention who’ve missed on the great sport stories of the year. And anyone trying to describe it you will fail miserably. It’s like trying to describe sunset- words are inadequate to get the job done.
You have to be there for yourself. So if baseball’s not your thing, go about your business. It’s your loss.
I spent Thursday evening at historic Fenway Park in Boston. On Friday I returned to Michigan to read that Detroit has made plans to tear down historic Tiger Stadium. Both stadiums opened in 1912 but Fenway Park has a bright future while Tiger Stadium is destined for the wrecking ball.
And it’s sad.
As a season ticketholder the new Tiger stadium I love my nice padded seats, spacious aisles, and variety of modern concesssions. But sitting in Fenway Park I felt nostalgic for old Tiger Stadium. I noticed that Fenway has the same type of pillar construction that results in some obstructed views and tiny seats with little leg room. I recalled all the great players who had played there and history that the place represents. It along with Yankee Stadium (slated to be replaced in the next decade) and Wrigley Field are truly cathedrals of the game.
The Tigers did a great job of convincing the public of the need for a new stadium. They stopped doing basic maintenance the last few seasons and let people convince themselves that cracked paint somehow proved that the old stadium was unable to be saved. Make no mistake- the decision to replace Tiger Stadium was a choice and different ownership could have made a decision to renovate rather then build new.
Sitting in Fenway and seeing an old ball park meticously preserved reminded me that the decision to leave Tiger Stadium for the gleaming new park says more about us as sports fans than anything else.
Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick said today that tearing down old Tiger Stadium gives the surrounding neighborhood the best chance to rebound. No Mr. Mayor, the best chance for the surrounding neighborhood was to not desert Tiger Stadium in the first place.
For years Michigan football coaches have chanted same mantra:
Big Ten Championship, Rose Bowl…
Big Ten Championship, Rose Bowl…
But things have changed. The Rose Bowl is no longer the exclusive domain of the Big Ten and Pac Ten conferences. Now Included in the BCS rotation, the Rose Bowl periodically becomes the home of the National Championship game.
And it’s time for Michigan to change with the times. And it doesn’t mean that the Big Ten Title is any less desirable but there’s now a higher goal.
Other Michigan teams regularly aim for a National Championhship and manage to win their conference title along the way.
No softball team east of the Mississippi river had evert won a National Championship. It didn’t stop the Michigan softball team from aiming year in and year out for a National Championship. Did they treasure their Big Ten Championships? Sure, but there was a larger goal, one that they were able to achieve despite participating in a sport dominated by warm weather schools.
Does the Michigan football team lack the same gumption to shoot for the highest goal available?
True, football does regularly lose players early to the NFL which hampers the Wolverine cause. But no sport have been ravaged by early departures worse than Michigan hockey. But every season coach Red Berenson leads his team in an attempt to capture a National Championship. It doesn’t matter how many freshman need to play critical roles during the upcoming season.
The goal is the same…National Championship or bust. And it doesn’t dim their desire for a conference championship.
Does the Michigan football team lack the resources available to the hockey team?
Of course not. The only thing lacking is an acknolwdgement that a National Champinship shoould now be the goal every season.
Two Titles, National & Big Ten…
Two Titles, National & Big Ten…
It’s time to re-examine and the lore of Michigan football history. The Big Ten Championship and Rose Bowl were the goal because that was the ultimate goal available for most of Michigan football history. The goal has been moved, it’s time for Michigan football to expand its vision.
This isn’t a betrayal of Michigan tradition. The “Leaders and Best” should aim for the highest goal available.
After all you can’t hit what you’re not aiming at.