Sep 15, 2008

The Monday Michigan Hangover. Because Sunday Was Too Soon

Well how aboot that shit? The Irish needed a big victory against an opponent that didn't lose to a 1-AA opponent, at least in 2008, and they got one Saturday against the unicorn loving Skunkbears of Ann Arbor (whore!).

So here is your hangover. I had to savor the flavor just a little bit longer.


Golden Be Thy Tate... Again! For the second week in a row I had to lead this off with our boy, Golden Tate. Tate had a monster day with 4 receptions for 127 yards (31.8 yd. avg.) and a monster statement TD. Last week Golden showed that he wasn't a one trick pony with a lot of receptions that were intermediate routes. This week, he he proved to be THE gamebreaker on offense. The long TD bomb was typical for Tate, except that because of his newly found route running, Michigan had to respect his fake slant move and then WHOOP, he burns them on the go for a huge 48 yard TD bomb. His other nice grab, was a slant route that he took and went 60 yards to set up a TD a few plays later by Hughes to help keep the momentum after Michigan cut the lead to 21-10. A "legend in his own mind" and in mine.

Relying on the Line. For the second week in a row the Fighting Irish offensive line didn't allow a single sack. Before the game Irish fans were told by every major media outlet that the front 4 for Michigan was too athletic and too tough for the ND O-line to handle. They did more than handle their own with a solid performance against Michigan's D-line. What was even more impressive was when true freshman Trevor Robinson came in at RG for Chris Stewart (injury). There was not a dropoff in play that Irish fans are used to after going so many years with no actual depth. The run game was a little more effective this week (but still not great) because of a good push that ND got when they needed that one yard. The Irish out-toughed Michigan all across the line. The offensive line was well treated by their QB. Clausen spoke very highly of his line and said he would be footing the bill for dinner that night. Anywhere they wanted. That anywhere turned out to be Ruth's Chris Steakhouse. I wonder how much that bill was?

Straight Brute. David Bruton is making a push for All-American status while pushing his defense to be better each week. Bruton had 15 total tackles with 1.5 of those being for a loss. He made the strip on Kevin Grady that put the ball on the turf inside the redzone, and he had another redzone turnover with a interception at the 5 that he returned 39 yards. Not only was Bruton a pass defense terror and a big supporter of stopping the run, he looked really good on a few timed blitzes. Quick and determined, David Bruton is making a huge name for himself around the country.

Weis is now an athlete. Or at least he gets as hurt as one. John Ryan has been blasted on this website for not playing physical enough. He proved us all wrong with a crushing blow to Charlie Weis that blew his knee out. The hit was devastating, but not as devastated as what Ryan must be feeling like right now. Well, cheer up Johnny boy. Weis is having some laughs about it and I suggest Ryan shrug it off as well. More news about this injury came out yesterday as Weis will delay surgery until, well he never said when, but definitely not soon.

Mike Floyd Demands The Flag. Did everyone notice Floyd demanding his pass interference calls? Fantastic! A freshman getting the calls that he wants. They (Michigan) had to interfere. Floyd looked smooth in his route running and Michigan's DB's looked almost helpless. And to think that Floyd only had 2 catches for 10 yards. He is that good. He was a major impact in the game with minimal stats. Just imagine what the Irish will be doing when he gets 8 receptions for 163 yards and 2 TD's. Scary.

Brian Smith is One Soulful Dude. Soulful, emotional, intense. Give any synonym for those words and you will describe Brian and his style of play. Bruton and Crum may be the leaders out on the field for the defense, but it is Brian Smith and his fiery demeanor that really gets the defense ready to murder-death-kill an opponent. Brian looked like he was all over the field Saturday and was in on a few big plays (2 fumble recoveries; 1 ret. for TD 35 yds).

Fuck Michigan! Finally, I don't really care what people are saying about this game. Notre Dame needed a win and they got one. A 35-17 win against ANY opponent is a good victory and it is even better when it is against Michigan, or any rival for that matter. I did find a pretty good "AP" article that I have to share with you.


South Bend, Indiana - September 13, 2008 (AP) Beneath rainy skies, Michigan's year of discontent continued today in South Bend. Notre Dame combined Golden Tate's four catches for 127 yards with opportunistic defense and special teams to defeat Michigan 35-17. The loss dropped Michigan to 10-8 since the untimely passing of its icon Bo Schembechler and allowed Notre Dame to maintain the lead it has held in its series with Michigan since the end of the Theodore Roosevelt Administration.

The loss also continued a year of woe for Michigan, commencing with the traumatizing loss of Schembechler, whose dour, humorless, leaden persona was for many the personification of Michigan. Schembechler's passing was followed by off-season revelations by former Michigan icon Jim Harbaugh of academic fraud and low standards at Ann Arbor. Harbaugh -- former winner of the 1986 Bo Schembechler Award for Leadership and Dedication -- was denounced as a turncoat. Harbaugh's role as the John Dean of Michigan football came as a blow to the University, which highly values its long tradition of the appearance of propriety. Harbaugh's evidence of a plantation system for athletes at Michigan, no different in kind from that at Miami or Okalahoma, was particularly grating to Michigan alumni, undermining their highly prized attempts to appear highfallutin' vis a vis their friends, neighbors and service-industry co-employees who purchased degrees from Michigan State University.

These disturbing exposes were followed in the fall of 2007 by a stunning loss to Division II Appalachian State and the forced retirement of dynamic coach Lloyd Carr. The choice of a new coach came at a sensitive time for the entire state. With most major industries in disarray and political corruption rampant in its largest city, Michigan was forced to hire Jeff Daniels to do television advertisements attempting to persuade companies to do business there. Nor were matters helped when a multi-million dollar effort to develop a new energizing motto for the state resulted in "Michigan: last one out, turn off the lights."

Unfortunately, while some hailed the replacement of Carr, the choice of West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez led to waves of controversy. Many reasoned that Michigan's newly-revealed inferiority to Appalachia both on and off the field might be remedied by taking a coach from the flagship university of that region, but Rodriguez faced challenges. Michigan fans favored LSU coach Les Miles, a Michigan graduate whose close-set eyes many felt would make him close enough to hiring a coach from West Virginia.

The passing over of Miles made Rodriguez's situation more stark. He became the first coach from outside the Schembechler coaching tree in forty years and was not a member of the "Michigan family", which has long favored marriages with close relations. It was thought that Rodriguez would be sensitive to this issue given his West Virginia roots. Instead, Rodriguez seemed dismissive of Michigan traditions long held dear by the Schembechler faction.

Rodriguez got off to an even bumpier start as West Virginia sued him for breach of contract. On the eve of being forced to have Rodriguez, its President and its Athletic Director deposed -- potentially opening up still further revelations of wrongdoing -- Michigan was forced to knuckle under to a draconian settlement by which the University and Rodiguez paid West Virginia millions of dollars. The ultimate financial hit was expected to be minimal to the University as it was learned it would be funded by Fab Five financier Ed Martin. Nevertheless, the litigation beat-down was especially humiliating as it established Michigan as the first institution or person ever to have anything put over on them by West Virginia.

Further controversy developed over the off-season when prize incoming recruit Sam McGuffie was investigated by the NCAA over whether his compensation as a member of the back-up dance troupe for the New Kids on the Block reunion tour compromised his amateur status. Rodriguez quelled fan fears by saying of McGuffie: "He's got it. . . the right stuff." McGuffie has promised to clear with the NCAA ahead of time his potential future work with Kurt Thomas and Mitch Gaylord in "Gymkata II".

Despite the dark clouds of the off-season, Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman saw the season as one of hope and change. In a recent letter sent to Victors Club members she wrote: "This is a special year in Michigan football. It used to be thought that only crotchety, petty, miserable, boring, sour-pussed old WASP bastards could be the head coach at Michigan, but with the hiring of Rich Rodriguez, Michigan has opened its arms wide to show that a crotchety, petty, sour-pussed, miserable, lying Hispanic bastard who will betray and mislead his own alma mater also is very welcome at Michigan."

And Rodriguez fed hopes by pledging that Michigan fans had his word that he was as dedicated to Michigan as to his own wife or alma mater. Rodriguez did note some recruiting deficiencies coming in. He felt that the incredibly high standards of the Michigan Business School limited recruiting by preventing admission of many fine scholar athletes. As Rodriguez noted, "given what graduates of the Michigan Business School have done for the economy of this state, who wouldn't want to go there?"

Following a close loss to Utah and a stirring win against Miami (Oh), fans were downbeat after the loss to Notre Dame. After the game, Michigan players and coaches pointed to their own missteps as the key to the game. Michigan defensive back Steve Brown expressed the sentiment of many on the Michigan sideline when he said "We don't have our heads down because we know who the better team was. They beat us today. It happens, but in our hearts we know we're the better team."

As Brown's statement indicates, yesterday's game continued a remarkable streak dating back to 1886 in which Michigan has never lost to a better team. It is the longest and most treasured streak in collegiate sports. The streak was lengthened to its current incredible size by mentor Schembechler whose innovative football theory eliminated consideration of fumbles, interceptions, kicking field goals, kicking punts, returning punts or returning kicks as elements of the game.

In his seminal treatise "Football My Way - And Shut The Fuck Up And Do As I Say", which is still widely read by Big Ten fans and coaches, Schembechler expounded on his theory, known as the Schembechler Theorem: "The more stupid mistakes your team makes, the better it ultimately shows you are than the other team. So, for example, if my team turns the ball over ten times, misses all of its field goals, fumbles repeatedly, throws interceptions and allows long kick returns, those facts are, in the end, the best evidence of its superiority, my own excellence as a coach, our preeminence as a team and the intellectual acuity of our scholar-athletes."

One important caveat to the Schembechler Theorem is that when Michigan's opponents turn the ball over more than Michigan, the Schembechler Theorem becomes inoperative and is replaced by the Carr Paradigm, which holds that "good, well-coached teams are sound in the kicking game, do not make stupid mistakes and do not turn the ball over and teams that do deserve to lose."

Michigan's turnover total of six is one fewer than the number of illegitimate children of graduate Tom Brady. Nevertheless, with the pre-season now over, Michigan will be able to re-focus on its Big Ten games, which are the only ones that matter to Michigan unless they happen to win the other ones.