2011 Gator Bowl Information From The Big Ten Media Release
Michigan (7-5, 3-5) returns to a bowl for the first time since the conclusion of the 2007 season and will play in the Gator Bowl, one of the Big Tens newest bowl partners. The Wolverines were the last Big Ten team to take part in the Gator Bowl, defeating Mississippi in 1991. Michigan will take on Mississippi State (8-4, 4-4 SEC) of the SEC on Saturday, Jan. 1, at 1:30 p.m. ET in Jacksonville, Fla. Head coach Rich Rodriguez will take part in the sixth bowl game of his career and his first at the helm of the Wolverines. The school will participate in its 40th bowl contest, which ranks second among conference teams behind only Ohio State, and is tied with the Buckeyes for the Big Ten lead with 19 bowl wins. Michigan was victorious in its last postseason outing, defeating Florida in the 2008 Capital One Bowl. The Big Ten has posted a 1-4 mark in the Gator Bowl, including a 1-1 record for the Wolverines.
2010 Football Bust
The 90th Annual University of Michigan Greater Detroit Alumni Club Football Bust was held on the evening of December 2 in Livonia at the Laurel Manor.
The purpose of the event is to view highlights from the 2010 season, observe the presentation of the coveted M rings to the seniors, and to honor players for outstanding academic and athletic achievements.
Besides a great meal, fans can get a look at the players, put a face and personality with the number, get to know them a little, and say thank you. Although at times I have thought the proceedings a little lengthy, it is a fine opportunity for a Wolverine fan to show his/her appreciation.
This year?s event, by circumstance not design, recalled the 1985 team, which manhandled Nebraska in the 1986 Fiesta Bowl. Those Number 2 ranked Wolverines laid defensive hit after hit, causing turn over after turn over, in as fine a Bowl defensive performance as produced by any Bo Schembechler team. They embarrassed the Huskers. Offensively they were potent under the guidance of QB Jim Harbaugh, the hands and elusiveness of John Kolesar, and with the wheels of Jamie Morse. Gerald White attended, but Jum Harbaugh did not.
A ton of speculation before the event swirled abound whether Harbaugh would be there. ESPN reported he was considering the trip up until last Saturday, but scheduled a Stanford practice which prevented attendance. His attendance would have entertained the media. among others.
To the surprise of no one this side of Timbuktu, Denard Robinson won the Bo Schembechler MVP award, and well earned and deserved it was. His accomplishments are worth listing again in these pages.
That Robinson is the nation?s top dual threat QB has been proved. Also recently named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, he set the NCAA season rushing record for QBs with 245 carries for 1,643-yards and 14 TDs this season. He is the first QB to run and pass for plus 1,500-yards in NCAA history in a single season. He was 155/253 passing for 2,316-yards for16 TDs. He also set a UM mark for total offense by amassing 3,858-yards and accounting for 30 TDs.
Zac Ciullo won the Dr. Arthur D. Robinson Scholarship Award. A psychology major and football walk on he has been accepted to Michigan?s Law School.
The Hugh R. Rader Memorial Award went to David Molk and Steven Schilling. These were the top offensive linemen. Molk was voted all Big Ten by the coaches. Schilling has received the Rader Memorial award three years in a row.
The Roger Zatkoff Award went to Jonas Mouton. With 111 tackles and 11 starts, and hampered at times by injuries, he was the season?s best defensive player. He earned 2nd team All Big Ten media honors.
The Robert P. Ufer Bequest was given to Mark Moundous. Moundrous demonstrated remarkable love and enthusiasm for Michigan and is a team co-captain.
The Richard Kratcher Award went to Mike Martin, as Michigan?s top defensive lineman. He certainly is, and whether he returns in the fall will mean a lot to next year?s team. Really expect that he will. Had 36-tackles and suffered multiple injuries. Voted all conference 2nd team honors by the coaches.
2010 Coaching Speculation Carousel
The coaching change speculation carousel is a merry-go-round that keeps spinning faster and faster, lights blinking faster and faster, horns blaring louder and louder, drums pounding in louder syncopation, with segments of its rider-ship growing more and more dissatisfied, and mad at just about everything.
At Coach Rodriguez for significant handicaps that were of his making, for significant handicaps that were not of his making, for not being able to win in the Big Ten, for more and more looking defeated, for not providing a successful defense in three years, for the ?drama? and public ridicule that the program is continuously subject to on a national, local media, and recruiting level.
At Bill Martin for his convoluted coaching search, at every defensive coach including the Defensive coordinator, at no Les Miles, at no Jim Harbaugh, at no firing of the defensive coordinator, and/or his entire staff, and at the 3-3-5 scheme. And most of all, at just one win in three years over a quality Big Ten team.
Aye, there?s the rub, the real irritation. Fix that and the divisiveness is squelched. The loud mouths everywhere but in East Lansing and Columbus would be slammed shut. Lack of wins is the problem, but even worse than losing, it is the inability to compete that glares and grates.
The fact of the matter is that Coach Rodriguez has been unable to provide that signature win that that other notable outsider, Bo Schembechler, provided in his first season upset of the Buckeyes. To be sure Bo inherited a better team with players suited to his schemes.
In RR?s third unsuccessful combat against a decent, but only a moderately great OSU team (as OSU team?s go), the Wolverines were sadly not competitive on either side of the ball and were especially inept on special teams. A respectable outing in Columbus would have saved some Rodriguez coaching reputation. It didn’t happen.
There is a growing chorus of dissatisfaction with the timing of David Brandon? decision regarding RR’s status, although many more seem to think Brandon capable of doing things exactly right.
Some question why AD Brandon has not come out in support of Coach Rod, or pulled the trigger to replace him now, thinking that the uncertainty is bad for the program, especially recruiting.
Uncertainty certainly does hurt recruiting. There is no doubt of that, as the rumors of the impending de-commitment of highly regarded RB recruit, D Hart are sprouting. Stay tuned on that one, and maybe the coaching uncertainty is the cause, but the transfer of running back Justice Hayes from an Irish commitment to the Wolverines might be as big a factor. Recruiting should not be a driving force in this instance. Granted de-commitments and/or a smaller class would not be optimal, and is a great concern, even if it should not be a primary coach change consideration.
I am beginning to believe that it will be a tough and highly criticized decision no matter what Branson decides, or when he decides it. I am still letting my bets ride on him.
Events since the OSU game are leading me to believe that it appears less and less likely that Coach Rodriguez will return. He gave a teary, very emotional address in his own defense at the Bust. Had a ?spiritual quality? some objected to, and featured a reading of a portion of a Josh Groban song: ?Raise Me Up?, and a playing of it with AD, team members, RR and moderator Beckman all holding hands on stage with right hands held to ceiling.
This performance was enjoyed by many, but grated on some who said RR made the evening about himself and not about the players, and some saw it as begging for his job. He ended saying that he truly wanted to be a Michigan man.
It is certainly easy to see why he was teary and emotional regarding his future. Obviously he has not had smooth sailing on Lake ?Michigan? waters. There has been one crises after another. There has been more mud slung at him then one could find in a pottery factory. Again, some earned mud and some unearned mud.
It is certainly not easy to see how he is going to hang onto his position, with the accumulating Big Ten losses, the inability to prove his system will work against the better teams in the Big Ten, being again at the bottom of Big Ten defensive statistics, the appalling special teams boo-boos, and the over all lack of progress, except on offense.
His pluses are two more wins every year, a Denard Robinson Offense, and a team that seems to be ?All In ? for him.
As to David Brandon?s waiting until after the Bowl to make a decision, perhaps it is because of the buy out reduction after the 1st of the year. Perhaps not. Eventually we will know.
I sincerely want Coach RR to succeed in Ann Arbor because it is good for the school for him to succeed. Always have wanted the program to succeed. But the handwriting on the wall is reading as if that is a genuine question mark. We will live with whatever David Brandon decides is good for Michigan Football.
At the bust, AD Brandon indicated that it might not be the Insight Bowl for the Wolverines as nearly everyone thinks, but the Gator Bowl in Florida. Or maybe the Outback. We will know for sure next Sunday evening. (It turned out to be the Gator Bowl as in the first paragraph update.)
Thanks for reading this far. If you have lost my email address I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you already have a different cablespeed address it will still work.
Also I want to issue a blanket apology for my failings on face book. In that regard I know how the Special Teams feel.
To the delight of many Michigan Football players who played for or watched Brady Hoke while he helped lead the Blue to a National Championship in 1997 as the Wolverine Defensive Line Coach, and to the chagrin of some Michigan fans who had their caps set for Jim Harbaugh, or Les Miles or anybody but Hoke, Brady Hoke has been named University of Michigan Football Coach.
It seems to me that all of us will find that Brady fits the ?Michigan Mold? and he will represent the University of Michigan and its football program, its traditions and values, with honesty. He will restore the program to its former toughness.
He has family values in spades, wants tough guys on his defensive line, and on his team as a whole, and will toe the line to stay inside the NCAA rules.
He will bring a diverse offense and use personnel in a system that utilizes a player?s talents to best advantage.
He has the kind of personality that invites people to like him, but make no mistake he can be tough when tough is called for.
He is not Lloyd Carr and will not play Lloyd?s brand of football. He is not a Lloyd Carr crony. He is his own man.
He does not tolerate losing and will do all that is within the rules to win. He will work hard and his team will work hard.
All that being said he has a tough row to hoe. He is behind in recruiting for this year. Way behind.
More importantly he has to assemble a staff. That might be the most important thing that he has to do, to provide a staff that is all on the same page and which can produce in the Big Ten.
I would be remiss if I did not thank Rich Rodriguez for his effort in Ann Arbor. Even if the results in the win column were not what we, or he, wanted for the past three years, he worked hard, and did what he could to remain in Ann Arbor. And lets quit dumping on Lloyd Carr, and appreciate the only National Title Michigan has managed in fifty years. And let’s forget Les Miles, and Jim Harbaugh as coaches, but, of course, not as people and Michigan men.
It is past time the Michigan Wolverines snarled with one voice. I am sick of forums with conspiracy theories, Brandon bashing, complaining about that ho hum Hoke, kicking Carr, and insulting Rodriguez. The Free Press remains fair game.
AD Brandon thinks that Brady Hoke can do it. Let?s give him a warm welcome and all the help we can in what will be no minor task.
How soon he wins is an issue, because we have three years of frustration behind us.
Fans want winning sooner than later. Their irritation is also understood.
Things can only be accomplished through wins.
Welcome aboard Head Football Coach Brady Hoke!
Good Luck, and Go Blue!
The Mississippi State University Bulldogs dominated the young Wolverines at will in establishing their football superiority in the Progressive Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Florida on New Years Day. This completes the 2010 season on a sour note. For Michigan, it should have been called the Regressive Gator Bowl as it was the worst Bowl loss in Michigan football history. The Wolverines are now 19 and 21 in Bowls.
This was the Wolverine?s first Bowl game under Coach Rodriguez, and some hoped it a chance for redemption of coaching reputation, and a chance to prove team improvement. It was thought that the Wolverines could compete with a mid level SEC team. That proved untrue.
Unfortunately, game day completed on a note too familiar, as the Wolverines were embarrassed 14 to 52, and were competitive only for the first quarter. It was 14 to 31 at the half, and the game was essentially over at that point.
MSST played well, and they proved too much for the Wolverines in all three phases of the game. Whether that should be stated as all four phases of the game (including coaching), will undoubtedly be decided by AD David Brandon in the very near future.
In my opinion, Coach Rodriguez did not add the needed positives to his body of work to gather sufficient traction for longevity as the University of Michigan Football Coach. He is after all, 15 and 22, and 1 and 11 against ranked teams. Opponents have consistently scored more than 34 points against the Wolverines this season.
Outside of the beautiful weather, and perhaps the hospitality of the folks managing the event, not much went right for the bumbling Wolverine offense, defense, or special teams. This beat down was only a surprise offensively as the Wolverine?s echoed their usual defensive body of work this year when facing some of the better teams on their schedule. They could not stop the run game of a one-dimensional running team. Fourteen points by this offense, usually capable of far more, is certainly sub par.
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Denard had an ordinary day (for him). He had 256-yards passing and 58-yards running. Statistically, that is not that bad of an ?ordinary? day, with two TDs. But an errant pass helped seal the Wolverines fate. Make no mistake that he has had a brilliant and record setting season. He has 4,272 total offensive yards, and that is a school record. He has had a spectacular season. But the Wolverines needed more from him on Saturday to entertain a victory. And he needed more weapons helping him.
Denard has not proved a winner against the better teams. That will come next season as he hopefully gets more help from his friends. It will be worth the price of a ticket to watch him. There is no question he is the team MVP.
Saturday I had hoped a healthy Denard could make us competitive, but he could not. The running game was stuffed. Yards after catch were denied. He simply did not have enough offensive help, and the offense has sort of become a one trick pony. The offense could not convert several critical 4th downs, or attempt 3-point FGs because they simply can?t kick them. Obviously our scheme is well scouted by this time of year.
Other turnovers, and dropped passes also hurt, as did penalties, not to mention decent defense by MSST, and 481-yards and 26 first downs by their offense.
It was no surprise the defense played like they have played all year. It was no surprise they had trouble lining up properly, sometimes appeared confused, remained ineffective tacklers, had an inability to stop third downs, or corral the lumbering, but mobile Bulldog quarterback. Not surprising that they yielded record numbers of points today as they have over much of the season. They let out a short dump pass for an 81-yard TD. They confirmed again that they are among the worst defenses in the Big Ten, and nationally.
Sad to say that is a fact and some played hard all season, and they had some moments this season, but overall the team defensive results are still nothing but poor. No question, the worst defensive season in Michigan history.
Was it all because of injuries and young players? Or is some of it because of scheme and ineffective coaching? Or is it some of both? Do you believe that the defense has headed in the right direction the past three years? Certainly the offense has taken some strides, has seen measurable improvement, but defense and special teams remain special disasters.
As expected, the special teams were no blessing again. A punt was blocked, a short field goal missed, but Martavious Odoms returned from a broken foot in good form on KO returns.
The first half started off well enough, with Denard weaving runs of 22 and 24-yards. An 11-play, 73-yard drive was completed with a 10-yard TD pass to Roy Roundtree. M 7-MSST 0.
MSST immediately answered with an 11-play, 79-yard creation featuring a 4-yard TD pass. It was 7 up and I thought the shoot out was on.
MSST then blocked a Wolverine punt, and hit a 42-yard FG to break the tie. M 7-MSST 10. It seemed a happy event that they were held to a field goal.
M answered with a beautiful 27-yard TD pass to Odoms. Perfect throw and catch. M 14-MSST 10.
Michigan was unable to score again so the expected shoot out never materialized. The Wolverines fueled the Bulldogs scoring frenzy with an interception. The Bulldogs never looked back as they produced a couple of long drives for scores by half-time to produce an overwhelming 14-31 deficit.
MSST didn?t need any more scores to win, but they engineered more long TD drives after halftime and an 81-yard screen pass to end the thumping at M 14-MSST 52.
To start the second half, M?s defense stopped the Bulldog?s opening drive, but to no avail. The Wolverine?s offense had been solved, and it could not score. And the defense had no more stops. The embarrassment was complete.
Everybody wonders if loss should, and will signal the end of the Rodriguez era. Wonders if there will be hurricane winds of change in Ann Arbor regarding the entire coaching staff, if it is the end of the Rodriguez era, and is the dawn of the Harbaugh, or Hoke, or whoever wants the punishment, era. Many fans are on board the Harbaugh train.
There are compensations even for losing coaches. RR would take 2.5 million out the door, more than the lifetime earnings for most of us. In that sense he would go out a winnerfrom Ann Arbor.
They say only the hairdresser of a lady that colors her hair knows her true hair color, and only David Brandon knows for sure if Coach Rodriguez and all of his staff will continue to be Maize and Blue.
Logically, we should know the why and who of it in a few days. I would think the waiting period has to be over very soon. At no time has AD Brandon made a strong statement of support for RR, and this has fueled speculation that change is imminent. The lack of positive results has caused that speculation to ignite like a magnesium fire, and burn intensely.
It is sad to think that RR has come to this point as chief of the Wolverines. I have always wanted him to succeed, because I want the Wolverines to succeed, but it is my obligation to report it as I think it is. My uninformed guess is that there will be a change of all or part of the football staff.
Coach Rodriguez came to Ann Arbor with a few cans tied to his tail, factions at Michigan tied on other cans, and some of the press has missed no opportunity to slur him and the program when and where it can. Makes you want Coach to succeed, but it is a wins and loss business and he is not winning, nor effectively competing. Some sort of signature win continues to elude him. The defense is not any better than the two prior years.
I will support whatever David Brandon does. He has a lot at stake in this call, as it will likely be the athletic director?s biggest career decision. It will be a decision that may determine his legacy. It is hard to see how he will satisfy all of the factions.
In any case, Saturday?s game was a sad end to a throw away season even though it was a 7-6 season and therefore showed a bit of improvement in the win/loss column over the two previous season under RR?s tutelage. It seems a sad punctuation mark to end the careers of seniors such as Schilling, Mouton, Rogers, Dorrestein, Webb, Ezeh, Ferrara, Banks and Patterson, who obviously would have preferred a win to remember. They will have to pack it away and forge ahead in the real world now.
As always, I thank you for reading this column and visiting the site. Hopefully next year will be a better season, but for sure it is going to be most interesting.
I can be emailed if you like at email@example.com. I enjoy hearing from you, whatever your opinions, and I hope the New Year brings you all the health and happiness you need or want.
Change is inevitable and change is coming.