Notre Dame Return to Glory?


Saturday evening will bring answers to questions that Wolverine fans have had since the beginning of the season.


Is the defense really that good?


Is Mike Hart fully recovered after an injury-plagued 2005 campaign?


Can Chad Henne get it done on the road in a big game?


How will fans remember the last phase of Lloyd Carr’s career?


Yeah, that’s the elephant sitting in the corner at Schembechler Hall right now.


There’s no doubt that Carr’s teams have heart.  But over the last couple of seasons they’ve been unable to win the big games.  Ohio State, Notre Dame, and Bowl opponents have owned the Wolverines.


Sure Michigan has been competitve but that’s a small consolation for Wolverine fans.


One of the things that Lloyd Carr tells recruits is that if they come to Michigan they will PLAY in big games.


But will he be able to tell recruits that if they come to Michigan they will WIN big games?


I’m not saying that Michigan football will collapse if the Irish prevail in South Bend on Saturday.  Surely the Wolverines could concievably rally and win the Big Ten.  The world will not fall off its axis.  Recruits will still flock to Ann Arbor and Michigan will still win its share of big games.


But if the Wolverines lay an egg in South Bend you have to seriously question the likelyhood of the team making amends for last season’s 7-5 record.  And anything less than a stellar season will mean that Lloyd Carr’s legacy will continue to tarnish.


So Wolverines- what will it be?  Another season of quiet desperation or a return to greatness?


The Irish are heavy favorites on Saturday.  The game is in South Bend where the Wolverines historically have a hard time playing well.  The stage is set for the Irish to exact revenge for the 38-0 beating they took at the hands of the Wolverines a few seasons back.


Sauce foir the goose.


The Wolverines will show that they ARE back by defeating the Irish on national television.


They will show the college football world that last year was an aberration.


Surely the Victors will ring throughout Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday and the Wolverines will reclain their place among the college football elite.


Go Blue!

GAME 2- MICHIGAN 41 CMU 17 Game Grades




Game 2 Scoreboard

“We think we can run the ball on any team.”

Mike Hart, RB

“Our whole offensive line we just want to run the ball, that’s what we’ve worked hard on.

Jake Long, Michigan Offensive Lineman 

Phil’s Game Grades

Offense A
Defense   B  
Special Teams   A- 
Coaching B
Overall   B+

A systematic demolishing.  The most exciting thing about this game was the hour long lightning delay.

Offense-  41 points- that’s more like it.  Lots of people got to touch the ball during this one.

Defense-  Another good game but the secondary looks like might be suspect.  Next week against Notre Dame will tell us more.

Special Teams-  Two nice field goals and some kick returns.

Coaching-   This game didn’t tell us much except that we need to worry about our defensive secondary. 

7 is the Loneliest Number

There have been many changes since last season.


Gone is long time defensive cooridinator Jim Herrmann,  Also gone is offensive coordinator Terry Malone.


There are even rumblings that Head Coach Lloyd Carr is on the hot seat.


A 7-5 record will do that at a place like Michigan where expectations are high every season.


But sitting in the eye of the storm is Michigan Quarterback Chad Henne.  Henne, who swept in to Ann Arbor in 2004 as the surprise starter when incumbent Matt Gutierrez went down with a shoulder injury.  He took the Big Ten by storm but struggled last season as the offense suffered through injuries to offensive linemen, receivers, and running backs.


Chad Henne- Superstar?


When considering Chad Henne it’s difficult to reconcile his stellar 2004 season with his dismal 2005 performance.  In retrospect, he wasn’t as good as his 2004 statistics nor as bad as his numbers in 2005.


In 2004 he benefiited greatly from all-world receiver Braylon Edwards.


Many are quick to crticize Edwards for occasionally dropping “easy” passes but considering the acrobatic catches that he was forced to make due to Henne’s inaccurracy he was probably shocked to see a ball actually come right to him.


In 2005, the roof fell in around Henne but he showed great resiliency if not great results as the Wolverines suffered, by their standards, a horrible season.


So what of this season?


Chad Henne is the focal point of Michigan’s hope for this season.


With the transfer of Matt Gutierrez the Wolverines are paper thin at the quarterback position.


A severe injury to Henne will almost insure a .500 (or worse) season.  A poor season by him will mean almost the same thing.


You can replace an injured offensive lineman or two.  The Wolverines have talented if unproven running backs and wide receivers but there is NO ONE to replace Chad Henne.  It would be like 1984 all over again when Jim Harbaugh broke his arm and the Wolverines struggled to finish 6-6.


So watch Chad Henne as he plays this season, and hope that he gets up after every play.


Not only does Chad Henne hold the Wolverine’s prospects for a great season in his hands but perhaps Lloyd Carr’s future as well.

Michigan Needs to Instill Fear in Rivals

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?


Enough excuses.


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
Explosion, overpowerin’
Over the competition, I’m towerin’


It’s payback time.

Michigan Stadium Renovation- The Media Elite to the Rescue!

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.