Wednesday, November 27, 2013

FMQ Week #14 - Rivalry Week!

I started writing this post when I heard that Muschamp had the 1,000% confidence vote of the University of Florida AD, Foley.  I wondered what 1,000% guaranteed vs. the good ole 100% or even 110% backing got you.  Does that mean even if the AD changes his mind, he more or less has to fire Muschamp 10 times before it’s actually in effect?  Anyone know?  Anyone?

And then I wanted to create a list of what I wanted in a head coach and supporting coaching staff seeing as how there’s going to be so many schools looking for the perfect fit. And before you simply write “Saban” on a piece of paper and mail it to the MMQ, know that Saban and Bama “found” each other.  Meaning that the school’s moral character and desire to win at all costs matched up nicely with the Saban moral character and desire to win at all costs.  On paper they fit together where in the past, Bama had coaches that didn’t fit.
And on paper, I have to say that Michigan has exactly the kind of coaching staff with the resumes you want to have, at the University of Michigan.  So what’s not working in Ann Arbor right now?  If they all have the experience, the pedigrees and list of successes, especially the coordinators…. what’s not working?

I’ve gone back and reviewed this year’s and last year’s columns and to a certain extent, the offensive statistics from each year.  Michigan improved for the most part week in and week out last year….and I suspect, but didn’t double check, that was true for the first season under Hoke.
This year, not so much.  In fact, Michigan’s Yards Per Play fell every game this season
(thanks mgoblog) and that should be a concern in and of itself.

But while that had me scratching my head, I couldn’t help but think that the skill position guys weren’t that much different from what Michigan had last year.  Yes, there’s a Denard piece missing….But Denard was missing from the Nebraska game forward last season.  And Michigan was still able to move the ball and was awfully close to beating the suckeyes last year.
So what gives?  Why can’t a team that was “decent” at moving the football from point A to point B last year not do the same thing this year?  Is it stubbornness on the coaching staff?  Are they truly trying to force an offense to do something that a lot of the kids that have been recruited to play at Michigan are simply ill-equipped to do?  And if the answer to that question is yes, I have another question.  Why, being smart, intelligent coaches do they continue to force an issue or a goal that can never be achieved with the personnel they have on hand?

I cannot answer all of the questions that I have about Michigan’s offense.  Quite the contrary, I seem to find myself asking more as I have watched this team “not” develop and mature the way an offensive team should.  And that was always a hallmark of a Michigan team.  Each week, Michigan would get a little better.  They would do something that made them a little better than the prior game.   And by November…They were a force to be reckoned with.  That’s the key….HOW MUCH BETTER ARE YOU PLAYING IN NOVEMBER???
I haven’t called for the firing of Hoke or Borges.  I’m not sure why, but I believe I’ve been handed something by the athletic department that I’m supposed to understand and see that as soon as they get the right people in place, well, Michigan will be just fine.  But isn’t part of being a great coach making sure the right people are in place and then instructing them to the best of your ability?  Am I missing something?  Where’s the give and take during the instruction?  Where’s the feedback loop, positive or negative, that is telling these coaches, “Hey, its’ working great!”  Or, “Dude, stop what you’re doing because you’re going to get somebody hurt…or worse.”

I should actually re-state the last and say that the feedback loop is there and it’s in full color.  Michigan can’t run the ball no matter what and even the least knowledgeable football person out there can see that.  But it’s clear to me at this point that the coaches are simply ignoring the feedback and trying to do something that regardless of what their heads (and feedback) are telling them they SHOULDN’T do, the coaches are forcing players into doing something the coaches WANT the players to do….
Michigan Coaches WANT to be a run first pass when necessary team
Michigan Coaches WANT to control the ball and snap to the QB under center..
Michigan WANTS offensive balance and they want it their way…

But none of the opponents is letting Michigan do that.  Opposing teams are taking away the one thing they know that Michigan wants to do.  And when the opposing teams do that…Michigan has no answer.
And that’s what’s frustrating so many fans now.  Michigan coaches want to play Alabama football with Michigan players…and they simply do not have that kind of personnel.  Period.  That cannot be the players fault, EVEN THOUGH THIS COACHING STAFF WOULD HAVE YOU BELIEVE THAT THE PLAYERS NEED TO EXECUTE and AREN’T EXECUTING THE WAY THE PLAYERS SHOULD! 

Again, as my kids say to me all the time…No dip, Sherlock.  But if you’re telling me that a 5’10” 190 pound tailback needs to carry the ball 45 times a game and gain at least 150 yards per game for this offense to be successful…you’re not going to make that happen no matter how often you tell the offensive line they need to execute. 
Banging heads against the wall and expecting different results is called what again?

So, do I fire the coaches because of that?
I’m not quite there yet.  But if there’s a chance of winning The Game Saturday, I think you need to throw the playbook out this week and try something a little radical.   I would start with Indiana’s game against OSU and also look at what the Illini did right.  There’s weakness on the suckeye defense, and that needs to be exposed.

Is the MMQ starting to believe that the upset can happen?  Hey, Michigan is home and anything’s possible.  If there’s one thing I THINK Hoke can do, its pump this team up for this particular game.  Whether or not this collective of coaches can GAMEPLAN a win and do the unexpected is a different story.  But if Michigan comes out with a Fitz off-tackle on first down of the opening drive…I will call for the firing of at least Borges come Monday, regardless of the game's outcome.

The table is set.  Suckeyes are coming into Ann Arbor riding a how ever many game winning streak…just like 1969…. Absolutely no respect on the suckeye side whatsoever…and a team that has shown ability during the season, but just needs to find the confidence to execute.

Yes, the makings of a “classic” upset are in place.  Can Michigan deliver?

Iowa (+3) @ Nebraska:  Corn vs. Corn…Michigan definitely played the Black Birds better away than the Cornhuskers at home, and had a chance to beat each team late.  So, taking that into consideration, who wins this game?  If the Iowa team that turns the ball over willy-nilly shows up in Lincoln, the Cornhuskers win walking away…If on the other hand, the Cornsukers show up…Well, let’s hope it’s the Huskers…

Take the Huskers and lay the 3 for $50
Domers (+14) @ Stanford:  Here’s another one where I WISH I knew which Jekyll or Hyde team was showing up…If the Stanford team that destroys teams like the Cardinal did to Cal last Saturday shows up…the domers don’t have a chance.  But if the Cardinal that lost to Utah and USC shows up…The domers could win this thing straight up….Still, I have a feeling the Cardinal could win and the domers cover…

Take the domers and the 14 for $40
Miami @ Pitt (+3):  Pitt is sliding into November as are the Hurricanes.  I thought this was an easy pick until I reviewed each of their last three games…Now I see where the 3 points is coming from.  I liked Pitt getting 3 at home and I guess I still do…

Take Pitt and the 3 for $40
Gophers (+14) @ Sparty:  Is this the SAME Gopher team that held an explosive Wiscy Offense to 20 points and if yes, I think they can hold Sparty to 20 and score a couple of points themselves…

Take the Gophers and the 14 for $50
Bama @ Auburn (+11):  This line has moved a little as the money comes in on Bama.  Latest check shows it’s back down as low as 10 on some sites, so Auburn fans are putting their money where their mouth is, also.  I said I was taking points this week and as much as I want to take the points with Auburn at home here, Satan has made me sorry in the past for doing that.

Take Bama and lay the 11 for $40
Oregon @ OSU (+21.5):  This has to be the screwiest line I’ve ever seen, and I know why it isn’t 35.  After last week’s barfing in the bed by the Ducks, the odds makers don’t know what to do with this game.  I believe that the Ducks find their heart and come Quacking Back, so to speak, and at least play their way back to respectability….

Take the Ducks and lay the 21.5 for $40
Ohio @ Michigan (+14.5):  Unbelievably, this line has moved a full point and a half (opened at 13 and quickly moved to 13.5) and is now sitting at 14.5.  Wow.  Does anyone know what this game means to the guys wearing the Maize and Blue?  Do the odds makers remember that until the Cornhuskers, Michigan was undefeated in the Big House under Hoke?  Is ohio that much better?  I don’t think so….

Take Michigan and the 14.5 for $75

Why not?  It’s late and doubling up is getting tougher…

Michigan-Huskers-Gophers  $50

Starting BANK:       $782
TOTAL BET:             $385

BANK:                       $397

And just because I may not get the chance to include on Monday:

mgoblog Nails It - Thank You Brian

I saw Hoke's press transcript from yesterday and I also saw this quote and was going to pen something about it as an average fan that is trying to stretch my family entertainment dollar as far as it will go....I got a little upset at the fact that if I somehow try to make a buck or pick and choose which games I go to I'm somehow a "Fickle Fan".  I disagreed in my own mind.  Brian at mgoblog was a little more vocal and descriptive in his take on Hoke's remarks. 

All I can add is "Ditto."

It is a media tradition to hammer at flailing coaches with frowny-face serious questions about how hard everything is on the players and coaches and such because they have to put up with this howling pack of fans. And I try not to get exercised about anything that comes out of that, just like I try to roll my eyes and move on at every article about a triumph in the face of The Critics. Coaches arrive at press conferences at one goal: to get out without saying something notable. When they do say something notable, it is a mistake.

But I'm pissed off anyway. Hoke fielded a question about what is going to be a sea of red in Michigan Stadium:
"You know, people are fickle," Hoke said. "That's just the way it is. That's the world we live in."
This is of course horseshit. It's horseshit on the level of "we need to run a pro-style offense so we can stop Big Ten offense," i.e., the greatest and grandest horseshit in all the world. Hercules is required to shovel this. The big reveal from the last 20 years of media development is that fans are the only people left who aren't fickle. They can't stop watching, and what's more they can't stop watching live with all those lovely commercials interspersed. Fans submit themselves until they have commercials memorized. Until they are legendary.
Meanwhile, the people in charge have decided to test the edges of that fandom with an explosion in ticket prices. Paul Campos:
Here’s the price of a regular admission (not student) University of Michigan football ticket over time.
(All figures are in 2012 dollars, rounded to the nearest dollar. I couldn’t find 1970 and 1980 so I substituted the nearest available year).
1900: $27
1910: $48
1920: $29
1930: $41
1940: $45
1950: $34
1960: $35
1969: $38
1981: $30
1990: $35
2000: $47
This year a seat on the 15 yard line is 129 dollars with the PSL, almost three times as much as it was in 2000 and almost four times as much as it was in 1990, in constant 2012 dollars.

In Michigan's specific case, they have beaten Ohio State once in the last nine years and are two-touchdown home underdogs. They are getting gouged on ticket prices in an unprecedented fashion. The athletic department has made it absolutely clear that it has no loyalty to them with "dynamic pricing" that only goes one way. Up.

There is a breaking point for even the most zealous fan. I'm the guy with the blog that's his career and I'm at mine. The only reason I am going on Saturday is because I would feel shame at not going. Absent the weird moral imperatives of fandom, I would be doing anything else. Like bowling, which I hate.

Everybody in blue in that stadium—and it will still be a majority, probably—is paying for the privilege of having their heart punched. Unlike you, they are not getting three million dollars to watch Michigan shuffle around like a syphilitic pig who thinks everything's a truffle. Collectively they are in fact giving you those three million dollars. Collectively they built the stadium you play in and the opulent locker rooms you dress in.

So take your "fickle" and shove it. Angry, sure. Impatient, sure. Because we are locked into this thing we do every week that we pretty much hate. We do so out of a sense of loyalty that the program goddamn well doesn't reciprocate with its 500 dollar waiting lists and worst access level in the country—the team that is going to stuff you in a locker on Saturday has open practices in front of the entire student section—and scheduling goddamned Appalachian State because the athletic director thinks it's cute. Any reasonable person would look at the recent history of Michigan football and go do anything else. We're here because we're locked in.

You? You've got a buyout.

It is not the fans' fault that this program is awful to be a fan of. It's not Rich Rodriguez's fault. Anyone who sells their ticket for whatever they can get—currently 60 bucks and dropping from 80 yesterday—is only making a logical decision to not get punched in the soul dong on Saturday.

I'll hate them all the same, but half out of envy this time. They are no longer mindless wallets. They don't give a crap if Brady Hoke calls them fickle, and don't write articles on the internet about it. They are logical people.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Hawkeye'd...Where Has The Hope Gone?

6 yards???

Did I hear that correctly?  6 yards in the 2nd half with 7:30 to go in the 4th quarter….

This team starts out with a great ray of hope that turns into a nightmare of offensive execution in the 2nd half.  The pick-6 to start the game I think woke us all up and we thought that maybe  - JUST MAYBE – with the defense getting 7 for the offense that some pressure would be off and they could execute.

And the offense did…for 1 half of football.  Then, inexplicably, the 2nd half rolls out and Michigan’s defense doesn’t look as good – actually, credit the Hawkeye offensive adjustments to Michigan’s coverage and 4-3 alignment – and the Michigan offense can’t get out of its own way…Again.  Is this team lucky, good, bad or all of the above?

Taking away the loss over Sparty – they just kicked our butts - and there are 6 games that could have gone either way with each coming down to the end of the game or OT….

Akron….The first viewing of the inexplicable offense in the 2nd half…
U-Conn – The re-run of Akron and the “Uh-Oh” moment that a lot of knowledgeable fans had…..
PSU – I’m seeing a pattern here…
Cornhuskers…In it late, but no 2nd half
Northwestern – No 2nd half here, either…Yeah, they won…but did they really?
Iowa – Can’t play with a “Last team to have the ball wins” mentality when you haven’t executed all season as you need to in that role.

We’ve seen this movie too many times this season and there are times when I like the way it ends and there are other times…well, there are other times like Saturday.  When the final drive is interrupted with a turnover and its Game Over….

What does it mean for this Saturday?  I dunno.  There’s a very deep part of me that wants to believe that this team can play like the one that beat the domers Under the Lights.  But there is simply too much evidence to the contrary to hold that belief for very long.  Emotions and the home fans will keep Michigan in it for a quarter or maybe a half on Saturday, but I have a feeling that the better coached team that can execute will win the game walking away.  And right now, I don’t think that’s Michigan.

As far as how a lot of other Slappy Fans feel?  Well, here’s a venting e-mail I received from one passionate fan immediately following the Iowa game:

Either Gardner is an ABSOLUTE IDIOT or the coaches have screwed his head up beyond repair.  Either way, he is useless at this point.  I do not have film to figure out if I am delusional, but I would bet my life that Gardner was a far superior decision maker last year.  This guy is a literal moron!  He can’t even throw the ball away when he is out of the pocket, he is still looking down field and prancing around with the ball untucked even after he crosses the line of scrimmage!  And the best example of his abject idiocy is when he ran for a three yard gain (which could have been a 10 yard gain had he actually ran full speed after deciding to run) and didn’t go down when he confronted three Hawkeyes and lost 7 yards from where he should have been tackled!!!!!!!!

Idiot number two is our fat F___ of a moron coach.  How many TOTAL yards have we gained this year on that up the middle read option or on that slow ass developing hand-off sweep?  I bet that it is actually a negative number; yet they keep running it!  Gardner is an embarrassment intellectually as is this coaching staff.  He should not be wearing that 98 jersey.  As I think further, each team should need to earn “The Victors” as their fight song.  Every time it is played in the presence of this team it is dishonored.  They do not play with heart, intensity or intellect, and thus do not deserve that song. 

            Prior to today, I was actually dreading next week less, but now it approaches like an F5 tornado.  I will not be watching, as I will be visiting my niece at UNC Friday and Saturday and I will not be ruining my visit by watching what will surely be an embarrassment.  I have planned to record it but I WILL NOT.  If we happen to pull off the impossible, it will be replayed dozens of time between now and Jan 1, and I will watch in awe even knowing the outcome; but I would bet $1,000 that we will lose and I would add a $100 bonus that it will be an embarrassment.  These guys are truly hopeless and I see no rational reason to think that it will change until Hoke is gone.  At least Rich Rod wasn’t a fat slob!

Anger, frustration, disillusionment….I think its all in there….somewhere.  Most Slappy Fans general assessment of the season when it goes bad:  Get rid of the players and the coaching staff and start over - anything besides what we have has to be better than this….So, was that or was it not a great segue to the

5 Stages of Slappy Fan Grief

PRE –GRIEF:  HOPE!  Suckeyes, you’re back here almost all alone in the one category where the chance of a National Title still exists if someone in front of you trips.  Assuming of course you beat the State of Michigan over the next two weeks.  I hope one of those teams ruins it for you…I’m just hoping it’s the one that wears the Maize and Blue… Mizzou Tigers, Auburn Tigers, Sparty and Okie State join you as the last fan bases that hold the hope that they will get a shot at a National Title…(I know Sparty has to be sitting out ther a little ANGRY, also...If they beat the suckeyes...well, it's the Rose and that's not a bad thing...) Oh, let’s not forget DUKE and the hope that they can represent the ACC...

  1.  Denial and Isolation  - Oregon, Oregon…Oregon.  What have you done?  You lost as a 20 point favorite to a Rich Rodriguez team that had lost 4 games up to this point.  One of your players came out earlier in the week and stated, “We don’t want to go to another Rose Bowl…”  Well, your wish is granted.  I can only begin to wonder if this is the beginning of some sort of end for Oregon.  Is this team destined to be the Oklahoma of the West?  Always ranked in the top 5 but never delivering at the end?
  2. ANGER  - Michigan fans are clearly here, but the one fan base that has to be at their wits end is Gatorland.  In case you haven’t heard, Gatorland had their own “App State” moment on Saturday.  They lost at home to Georgia Southern which isn’t even as “good” as losing to FCS Champions Appalachin State.  Gatorland lost to a team that DID NOT COMPLETE A FORWARD PASS in the entire game and in the process, lost its 6th straight game.  Yes, there’s a very angry fan-base out there calling for the heads of everyone on the Gator’s coaching staff.  And Muschamp may have survived not going to a bowl this year…but losing 6 in a row and topping it off with a loss to an FCS school may prove to be too much to overcome.  The situation in the Swamp is dire….You do not want to be a Gator right now…So Michigan has that going for them….Not to mention Mack Brown and Texas still have a game left that may or may not spell the end for him….
  3. Bargaining –I see a lot of fans still here…Cornhuskers, Badgers, Gophers, Clemson Tigers, Hokies, Cardinal, Bruins and others are here believing they are “a year or two away from the promised land…”  Put Tennessee down here as for the 2nd year in a row they lose to their instate “Rival” Vanderbilt.  That cannot possibly sit well with Volunteer Nation but has to feel completely AWESOME for the Commodores!
  4. Depression –Georgia Bull Dawgs…Murray tore his ACL and is done for the season…Has ANYONE had a more depressing season than the Bull Dawgs?  I’ll include Michigan Fan in that question simply because the hope of a National Title was very REAL in Atlanta…And this has to be the biggest nightmare scenario that Georgia Fan could have dreamed up…Maybe GATORLAND is down here, but they may just be too angry to be depressed.  I will throw some Michigan fans down here as the B-Ball team lost to Charlotte over the weekend as well. 
  5. AcceptanceAre there ANY fans that truly get to this level?  Depression, Anger and Bargaining seem to be the operating stages of grief for most fan bases….Maybe Northwestern is here.
The BCS Mess

Well, the upsets in November have begun and is it only a matter of time before the kiss of a #1 or #2 National Ranking death will knock on the door of one of the top 2 teams?  This week will answer a couple of those questions….

Last Week

If there was any question that the suckeyes were the 3rd place team, Okie State’s complete and utter dismantling of Baylor should have answered it at this point.  Auburn and Mizzou round out the SEC biased top 5 and will eventually work itself out…I hate that somehow, some way, the pollsters seem to “want” an SEC team in the title game.  I would be happy with an FSU – ANYONE ELSE game….

Idle Thoughts From Saturday

-All RIGHT!  Defense Pick 6! 
-I love it when that happens.
-Can the offense help out….
-No drives…But at least they’re scoring on short fields.
-That’s a big difference over the last couple of weeks.
-Why isn’t Hoke wearing a coat?
-Does he think he’s Woody Hayes?
-21-14:  Better than I would have thought.
-But they need to keep it going in the 2nd half…
-Does Michigan have a 1st down in the 2nd half?
-Okay – thanks mr. Announcer..that would be no.
-6 TOTAL YARDS in the 2nd half?
-What is wrong with this team?
-Does Hoke feel he needs to be loyal to the Rich Rod Seniors?
-Not that there’s much of a class there to begin with…
-Jeez….now they need to score.
-5:30 left.  Stop running and move the ball.
-Score, dammit…
-Oh no….And like that, it’s over…
-Not even a shot at the end zone.
-Somehow, this is incredibly anti-climatic.
-I wonder what the spread will be for Saturday?
-I’m guessing two TD’s…(I was close…13.5)
-Not that the FMQ is doing anything that great lately, either.
-Poor Florida…More importantly, poor Muschamp.
-Does he survive Sunday?
-What is happening to Oregon?
-Is Rich Rod’s Arizona Wildcat Team that good?
-Did he ever beat a Top 5 Team while coaching at Michigan?  (ANSWER – NO)
-I don’t think he did…
-Thanks for nothing, Rich.
-LSU and the Hatter taking it to Johnny Football…
-Is that a statement of some sort?
-Someone needs to tell LSU too little, too late.
-So, it’s looking a lot like Bama – FSU in the title game…

The Hot Seat

Nina Agdal held serve and made it into the finals for the Hot Seat Mascot of the Year.  I can’t believe there’s only two weeks left of nominees and we’ve had some great ones this season.    I have to thank a reader for this suggestion and the photos available on this Olympic Athlete (Javelin) were plentiful, and some were not suitable for a family oriented site!  Careful screening was required, but without further ado, Week #13 Hot Seat Mascot nominee:  Leryn Franco

I want to add here that this could be the most interesting Hot Seat Coaching Carousel off season that we’ve had since the Rich Rod Hiring.  The possible schools that could be searching for a new head coach at the end of this season:

West Virginia

When I look at those 5 schools, I see destination type jobs, with Florida, Texas and USC obviously leading the way.  Whatever happens, it will send shock waves throughout college football when those schools hire new coaches.

GONE LIST:  Is it possible that Muschamp is on this list before the end of the day/week/year?

  2. Paul Pasqualoni
  3. Treadwell
  4. Carlson – Valpraiso….(I know, not exactly on my radar, either.)
  5. Ron English – Eastern Michigan.  Sorry for missing this one last week and thanks to all for the update!
  6. Mussman – North Dakota:  I don’t always track the seat temperature of compass point school Head Coaches…sorry!
Hot Seat Rank – Getting Serious as this is the time when the Carousel gets fire up!

  1. Muschamp – This guy is saying more and doing more to get fired than any other coach out there….
  2. Holgorensen:  No Bowl doesn’t bode well for Dana…
  3. Mack Brown – New AD? New Coach?
  4. London – Virginia….Its not a good situation…
  5. Pelini – It’s not good in Corn land either…
  6. Weiss:  Can’t believe he’s still there…
  7. Biliema:  Arkansas Nation does not like a B1G re-treas – no SEC wins
  8. Norm Chow - Hawaii
  9. Paul Johnson – Needs to beat Georgia or things will get dicey…
  10. Ogeron – All the guy did was win, but an interim won’t have the USC job…Jack Del Rio interviewed last week…
FMQ Betting Results:

What an absolutely abysmal weekend for the FMQ.  I was a little rushed in my picks last Friday, but still, I liked (instinctively) what I did.  While this wasn’t an “O-fer” weekend, it’s as close as I’ve been ….Makes me glad in a small way that this is all for fun.  Now it all rides on rivalry week.  I will need to study up and make some good picks or this season is going to be a bad one…One interesting thing to note this past weekend:  Every game I took points I won.  Where ever I laid points…well, let’s just say we’ll be taking a lot of points Friday and Saturday over Thanksgiving.

Illini (-7) @ Purdue: Take the Illini and lay the 7 for $75

Boston College @ Maryland(PK):  Take Maryland for $60
Really – All I had to do was pick the winner?  LOSE….
Indiana (+35) @ suckeyes:  Take IU and the 35 for $75

WIN!  Bank $142.50
Wiscy (-16) @ Minnesota:  Take Wiscy and lay the 16 for $100

LOSE….Too cold I guess for the Wiscy Boys…

Oregon (-20) @ Arizona:  Take Oregon and lay the 20 for $100
LOSE…This has to be the biggest anomaly of all the games from Saturday..
Baylor @ Okie State (+10):  Take Okie State and the 10 for $50

WIN!  Bank $95
Texas A&M @ LSU(+5):  Take Texas AM and lay the 5 for $65

So the Hatter shows up?  LOSE….

Michigan (+6) @ Iowa:  Take Iowa and lay the 6 for $25
I can’t even get this right….LOSE

PARLAY!  (6 to 1)

Oregon-Wiscy-Illini for $50 - LOSE
Starting Bank:         $544.50
Total WIN:                $237.50

BANK:                       $782