M Football 2010- The Recruiting Spinning Wheel-2010 Signing Day



Signing days come and go and so do the student athletes that commit themselves to succeed at the major avocation that is Wolverine football.  This year?s signing day presser was held in the Junge Center yesterday.




For those students signing commitments on the dotted line, the responsibilities and toil and tears that occur subsequent to that act are just beginning. The process may seem endless, drag and grind for a long while, while the committed adjust to the weather, to being away from home, of growing into adult hood, of living down mistakes, or being double-crossed by honey baby, as they recover from losses or failure, or whatever.   They face a cauldron of life challenges, football challenges, and academic challenges.



But in the end college football will fly by for them.  Some will succeed and some will fail at the sport. Some will suffer injuries that will necessarily end their participation in sports.  Some will disappoint themselves and us.  Some will not. Most will not.



Some will remember the sport with life long aches, but in the long run there will not be failure for many of them, football success or not, if they can capture that springboard to life?s success, a Michigan degree.  Later memory will obscure the challenges and they will fondly remember the success of becoming a grown up, a Michigan man, and hopefully remember the restoration of the success Michigan seeks on the football field.



Hopes and aspirations do not change much from class to class, generation to generation.  Everybody wants to be Saturday?s Hero, graduate a quantum physicist, or a forensic CPA, orthopedic surgeon, or constitutional attorney, and at the same time be the MVP of the Rose Bowl, national title game, and the Super Bowl.



At this stage of their development, their dreams can be lofty. To be honest, today there is more emphasis on preparation for the pro football game than in the past.  In the now distant past you didn?t get much money for being clothes lined by the Chicago Bears. Now you can get a small fortune to break your leg.



Being on a successful football team enhances the memories and the rewards both for players and fans. But success comes at a price.  Is this class willing to work hard enough to pay that price?





The Michigan Coaches today stated that they have gathered a supporting cast that will help in numbers (27 signed), and fits their needs: (by position; Athlete Josh Furman, Cornerback Courtney Avery and Cullen Christian, Defensive Back Demar Dorsey, Terrence Talbot, Defensive End; Jordan Paskorz; Ken Wilkins; Defensive Line Jabreel Black; Defensive Tackle Richard Ash; Terrence Talbott; Linebacker Antonio Kinard, Davion Rogers, Jake Ryan, Offensive Line Christian Pace; Punter Will Hagerup; Quarterback:  Devon Gardner, Cornelius Jones, Running Back Stephen Hopkins, Austin White; Safety Carvin Johnson, Marvin Robinson, Ray Vinopal, Slot Receiver Drew Dileo; Wide Receiver Jeremy Jackson, Ricardo Miller, Gerald Robinson, D. J. Williamson).





Coach R went over the history and accomplishments of each of the recruits.  It would seem that DB recruits might see major playing time as freshman due to the lack of depth at those positions.  There is no question that they are high on Demar Dorsey and Marvin Robinson.  RR mentioned that DB recruits may play early due to the depleted nature of the position.



There is also no question that a couple might not qualify academically (not necessarily meaning Dorsey or Robinson).  That always happens and proves the value of having a big class.  That and other attrition has hurt several recent classes.  Surprisingly, I heard no mention of walk-ons at all.



At the presser Coach Rodriguez seemed rightfully enthused regarding his new Wolverines.  Suffering from a chest cold, his patience seemed to wear a little thin at questions regarding rumors that Demar Dorsey had a checkered past in some juvenile incidents.  Questions regarding Dorsey?s background were slung at Rodriguez persistently.   Who else but Mr. Drew Sharp persisted.  No doubt with another hatchet job article in mind.  It is no rumor that Demar does not have any convictions.  That is a fact.  So why pick on a kid and make a happy day miserable?



I thought Rodriguez did not handle this series of questions as smoothly as I thought he could have.  I thought he should have simply said that the student is protected from such discussions, and moved on, but he let himself become slightly irritated. He stated that Michigan will not take a player with a misdemeanor or felony.



Rodriguez did not, as stated by Caputo on his Spartan slanted radio tirade, stomp out of the meeting mad, nor is this class in any way shape or form inferior to that garnered by the Spartans as the Great Caputo consistently avers.  As far as the Rodriguez behavior, I doubt Caputo was there to observe it first hand.  I was.



I haven?t heard that much propaganda since they collared Mata Hari.  And I never will again, as I won?t dial in that station again.  I would rather watch the Price Is Right than listen to that drivel and I am not fan of TPIR.  Whoever said talk is cheap must have been tuned into Caputo. Maybe Caputo verifies his information by referencing the Free Press.



Everybody but Caputo ranks the Spartys considerably below the Blue in the Big Ten standings, and national rankings.  Could it be that Rodriguez is doing something right?  The top three are Penn State, Ohio State, and Michigan, and the order is somewhat variable. OSU may not have had their best day.  Michigan had four of the top ten Detroit News players.  Ten recruits attended the football camp.  Several players, including Devin Gardner, enrolled in January.  He?ll have fifteen practices before fall camp.  Is that enough to put him in the two deep?



Gardner is not a savior, and he may or may not pan out.  Like the rest of them, only time will tell.  But it looks like they are developing a competition at quarterback, and that is only good.  In fact a stated coaching goal is competition at every position. RR indicated that by next year they would have that.  They will still be thin at some positions this year.



I talked to several of the Coaches and received no indication that Denard Robinson would be anything other than a QB.  I will be interested to see how he is used in the spring.  It was indicated that Demar Dorsey, Denard Robinson?s cousin, could see major playing time and that Marvin Robinson might also. 



When I asked Coach Robinson about this year?s defense, and Craig Roh specifically, Coach Robinson said ?he wished he had his (Roh?s) future.?  He said Roh is growing.



Had a nice talk and interview with Devin Gardner, from Detroit (attended high school at Inkster).  Seems to be a young man with a lot on the ball and a great deal of poise to go with his good size.



Talked to Stephen Hopkins, from Double Oak, Texas (fairly near Dallas) who models his running game on Brandon Minor.  He didn?t want to be called a slasher, so he must have some moves as well as power. 




Ricardo Miller was the most outspoken of those three.  Perhaps he is the most outspoken of any three on the team.  He is expert at forming words into sentences and indicated, as Coach R had previously stated, that he had directed a lot of those sentences at fellow recruits.  Perfectly at home, perfectly poised.  Said the winter had provided a challenge at first, feet felt frozen, and felt like his hands would break.  Now, he said, the adjustment is complete and he doesn?t even dress heavy any more to face the chill.



Granted I talked to only three of twenty-seven, but each seemed extremely happy to be Michigan men, claimed to be hard workers, and exhibited experienced poise beyond their years.



RR indicated that now that 2010 recruiting was past he could concentrate on filling the missing DB coaching position.  Coach Robinson will coach linebackers.  Departed Coach Hopson has not yet been replaced. but will be soon.  I should have asked regarding a dedicated special teams coach.  It appears to me they need one.  They have long been one defensive coach short.



The wheel of fortune that is the recruiting process stopped on February 3rd for this year, and has seemed to provide Michigan with an outstanding class tailored to the needs of the program?s style, even though some are lamenting the lack of ?five star? recruits in the class.



Bo was often quoted as saying that the worth of a class can?t be evaluated for four years, and that has to be true. 



But that doesn?t mean that the game of recruiting speculation enjoyed by so many fans has to end.  One year is barely over when another recruiting cycle starts, and concerns start about the ?one that got away or is about to get away?.



Let?s hope this big class is what Michigan needs in all respects.  We shall see.



Go Blue!

Crisler Arena: 5 things that need to be fixed…

Bill Martin’s lasting legacy as Athletic Director is impressive list of facilities built or renovated during his watch.
Football, baseball, softball, and wrestling are among the sports that now have top rate facilities.  Ice hockey has venerable Yost Ice Arena, with some of the most rabid fans in all of college athletics.
Virtually ignored during the building frenzy has been Crisler Arena.
Sure, new lights were installed and a new practice facility is on the way but the facility itself has some serious problems that need to be solved.
I believe that these problem would best be solved by having a crane working at Michigan Stadium “accidentally” knock the place down for the insurance money but what do I know?
Apparently the athletic department has no problem finding $226 million for Michigan Stadium which gets used eight or nine times a year but has to look through the couch cushions to scrounge together $20 million for renovating Crisler that three varsity sports call home.
So basketball is figuratively, and with new renovations to Michigan Stadium literally in the shadow of the football program.  From the steps of Crisler you can gaze on the incredible new football field house, and then glance over to the glorious new softball/baseball complex nestled next to Yost Ice Arena.
What does a revenue sport need to do to get some love?
Here are the things that any renovation need to to address.
1.  Add some character to the place
Crisler Arena has all the character of a K-Mart; bleak and depressing.  It’s the ugly building next to Michigan Stadium. Nothing about it says, Michigan, history or tradition.  It’s design cues echo the utilitarian cookie-cutter stadiums built in the late 1960’s and 70’s that have mostly (thankfully) been replaced.
2.  Lose the top rows
The view from the upper reaches of Crisler  Arena is terrible.  It’s like watching basketball on google earth.  Remove the top 5 or 10 rows and reduce capacity.  Make the venue more intimate.  Bring the crown into the game.
3.  Ditch the cushy seats
The seats at Crisler are nice and comfortable.  Like a movie theater.  They encourage you to stay seated.  Any renovation needs to look at some seats that encourage crowd participation.
4.  Fix the concourses
The concourses need to be opened up with more space and light.  Add more bathrooms.  Improve the display cases- use multimedia to highlight all UM sports and loop Big Ten network footage.
5.  Win
An energized crowd makes up for a substandard facility.  The team needs to be regular participants in March Madness not to mention competing for Big Ten Title.

5 things the NCAA needs to do to get serious…

The word is out. 
Allegedly USC football coach Pete Carroll has escaped to the NFL just ahead of violations being imposed by the NCAA into benefits provided to former Trojan Reggie Bush.
This comes after former USC basketball coach Tim Floyd greased the palm of a handler to insure that top prospect O.J. Mayo became a Trojan.  
It seems that USC is treading dangerously close to the NCAA determining that there was a “…lack of institutional control” and the serious penalties that come with it.
First, let’s address the elephant in the room.  Michigan is no stranger to NCAA violations.  The Ed Martin fiasco which brought criminals Chris Webber and Robert Traylor to Ann Arbor crippled the Wolverine basketball program for nearly a decade.
We Wolverine fans have seen first hand what happens when the NCAA brings the hammer down.
But it’s not enough.  Too often coaches leave a program tainted with NCAA violations only to turn up at another school with a bigger contract and a clean slate.
The NCAA needs to make the following changes when a program gets caught breaking the rules.
1.  Release the innocent players 
It’s wrong for players to be punished for a violation that may have occurred prior to their attendance at a school.    The only fair thing to do is give them option to re-open their recruiting, transfer and be immediately eligible the next season.  Of course, unless they were part of the problem.
2.  Require coaches to have certification to be eligible for NCAA post season bowls or tournaments 
It’s very simple, if you’re on the coaching staff of the school that gets caught with major violations you lose your certification for five years.  Any school is welcome to hire you but (1) the school will get no revenue from the NCAA post season tournaments or bowls and (2) you will not coach in any post season games.  If you go to a pro league, the certification clock doesn’t start until you return to college.
3.  Widen the culpability for NCAA violations
There are far too many people who look the other way while violations are happening.   Too few people on coaching and athletic departments pay little or no price when a program gets busted for cheating.  The NCAA needs to encourage people to constantly be on the look-out for potential violation rather then looking the other way.  You need to make their future job prospects depend on it.
4.  Simplify the rules
The NCAA rulebook is a jumble of contradictions and unrealistic guidelines.  It needs to be simplified and streamlined to be easily understandable.
5.  Set a future date for adoption
Give schools two years for these new rules to simplified and prepare for the changes.

2010 M Football- 10 things to leave in 2009

As a new year begins there are some things that are best left in the past.

1.  NCAA violations
Seriously, enough of this crap.  It’s bad enough that the NCAA is taking forever to investigate the first batch of allegations made by the Detroit Free Press.  Let’s hope that 2010 is scandal free.
2.  Teams we’re never heard of
Delaware State?  You know things are bad when a program’s band gets more press than the football team.  Unfortunately this one is already shot since Massachusetts and Connecticut are on this season’s schedule.  We’ll have to roll this over for 2011.
3.  Home for the holidays
OK, all the people who thought that it was just horrible that the football team would usually leave before Christmas for their bowl destination have been appeased.  Athletic department staff who haven’t spent Christmas and New Year’s Day with their in-laws for decades have made appearances two years in row now.  It’s time to get the football team, athletic department staff, and alumni traveling again.
4.  Big Ten Expansion
Expansion rears its ugly head again.  Move the season back if you must but ditch the idea of the league championship game.  Multiple divisions with some games against league teams counting and others not are stupid.  Rather than follow in the moronic footsteps of lesser conferences do something innovative to highlight more of the league’s top teams rather than just the top two.  Imagine a Big Ten/Big East challenge after the Big Ten season is over that matches the top the 5 seeds of each conference in neutral sites like Chicago, Detroit, New York, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh.  The other conferences would be drooling to have that kind of exposure.
5.  Tate Forcier’s unflappable confidence
I love that Tate Forcier has great confidence.  However I an tired of hearing how losses don’t bother him.  Tate, seriously, they should bother you.  Not crush you- but they should motivate you to work harder.  The robotic quotes seem a little odd.  Show some fire…
6.  Potshots from the Michigan “family”
There a lot of people within the Michigan family who are both for and against Coach Rich Rodriguez.  Unfortunately some of those who support Coach Rodriguez have taken shots at the previous regime.  Coach Rodriguez is responsible for the Michigan football team from here out.  There is no way he would allow a current player to blame his current poor performance on the starter from two season ago.  We need to hold Coach Rodriguez to the same standard.
7.  Being swept by the “states”
The later part of Lloyd’s tenure as head coach Michigan certainly struggled with Ohio State.  But he absolutely owned Penn State and Michigan State.  It’s time for Rich Rodriguez to start new winning streaks against all of the “states.”
8.  Whining that the cupboard was bare
On the day that Coach Rodriguez took over the cupboard was hardly bare.  The first job of a new coach is to re-recruit players currently in the program.  For whatever reason many players decided to leave either by declaring for the NFL draft or transferring.  I have no problem with players leaving and Coach Rodriguez wanting to have his own type of players on the team.  But he had active role in creating the current roster.  For him to imply that the talent wasn’t here when he took over is disingenuous.
9.  Piped in music for every game
Eminem’s “Lose Yourself’ being played against Ohio State or Notre Dame is cool.  When it’s played against the likes of Delaware State or Eastern Michigan it’s a joke.

10.  Michigan Stadium being taken over by opposing fans
The best way to do this is for the team to start putting the smack down on the field.  Opposing fans hate showing up and seeing their team get whooped on the field.  This doesn’t mean for Michigan fans to treating opposing rudely.  Save that idiotic behavior for other schools.  Cheer loudly and let the team take care putting the smack down.

2009 M Football- The year in photos…

Here are a selection of photos from the 2009 football season.


When freshman phenom Tate Forcier suited up for spring practice I wondered if he’d be able to take the pounding of an entire season.  Tate’s progress was accelerated when returning starter Nick Sheridan was injured early in spring practice. From that point on Tate was the focal point at QB for the Wolverines.

LB Obi Ezeh and DB Donovan Warren rest prior to media day.  Donovan would declare for the NFL draft after the season and Obi would lose his starting job.
Players posing for a group shot during media day.  The good feelings would disappear during a disastrous game versus Illinois.
The Wolverine drill.  One of the few times where media gets to see players go all out against each other.
RB Michael Cox showed that he has the speed to be force for the Wolverines next season.
Players rehabbing from injuries.  They insisted on having the photo taken,



The Wolverines take the field undet the coveted M Club banner.  Some traditions never change.

Brandon Graham was a beast on defense.
Craig Roh was a pleasant surprise on defense.  Just a little bit of holding…
When Denard Robinson was in the game there was always the potential for an electryfying run.  Whenever he broke free it would cause complete mayhem for opposing defenses.
Freshman QB Tate Forcier was a force of nature during the Wolverines’ 4-0 start.
The Wolverines last second victory and endzone celebration.  Photo taken with an iPhone.


DB Donavan Warren seals the victory over Indiana with a great interception.
The Wolverines put a gang tackle on the Eagles.  We didn’t see enough of this…
RB Brandon Minor was a beast when healthy…
The only way for teams to contain Brandon Graham was to double team him…and hold.
RB Brandon Minor bulls through the Penn State defense.
Next season the renovation of Michigan Stadion will be complete and the press box will be history…