Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Man In The Mitten

My Alma Mater is in the market for a football coach.  If you know anyone good, send the Athletic Director their resume.  I went to the University of Michigan several moons ago, so I'm interested to see how this whole thing shakes out.  As a student, I was a manager for the men's basketball team, and then was fortunate enough to work in the athletic department after graduating.  Despite being a New Yorker by birth, after spending seven years steeped in Michigan athletics maize and blue now courses through my veins.  My love for the school and the opportunities that it afforded makes me want to see them prosper.  And like many interested parties I want to see it now.  Unlike most, however, I'm willing to wait and be patient as long as the right hire is made; so I watch the coaching with bated breath.

There is, however, one term that has been bandied about fairly recklessly during the search process:

"Michigan Man."

First famously uttered by the most heralded of Michigan Men, Bo Schembechler, in 1989; it's now brought up any time that a coaching position in one of the revenue sports (e.g., Men's basketball, football) needs to be filled.  Look, when Bo spoke in Ann Arbor, people listened.  It didn't matter how far removed he was from his coaching days or his time as the AD, he made E.F. Hutton look like a mute.  I had the fortune of meeting Bo a couple of times during my seven years in the athletic department; and while he wouldn't be able to pick me out of a lineup (admittedly I was pretty insignificant to him), you couldn't deny the overwhelming Michigan presence that practically emanated from him.

Case in point: During the Michigan softball team's 2005 National Championship run, they hosted the Super Regional against Washington.  For those unfamiliar with how things work in Division I collegiate softball, the Super Regional is the round right before the World Series.  Eight Super Regionals are played, and the winners of these best-of-three series go Oklahoma City to compete for a National Championship.  After splitting the first two games, Michigan, then ranked #1 in the country, was playing to extend its season.  I was working for Michigan at the time and decided to take in the game with a fellow staff member.  The home nine found themselves in an early hole as Washington jumped out to a first inning 2-0 lead.  Then, the coach I was watching the game with tapped me on the shoulder and said, "look who just walked in."

I turned to see Bo Schembechler making his way through the bleachers with his wife looking for a seat.  The stands were parting for him like the Red Sea, and it seemed like everything on the field stopped until Bo found somewhere to roost.  Although what is about to follow seems like it's been adapted for some cheezy Disney movie, but I assure you it's true. 

From the time Bo sat down, Michigan scored eleven unanswered runs and won the game in six innings, invoking the run rule and sending the Huskies home early.  Can I unequivocally say that the aura of Bo propelled Michigan to victory?  Not exactly, I don't have any tangible evidence that would support that theory.  But if I found myself having to testify about this under oath for some bizarre reason, I'd definitely give him the assist for that win.  But nobody needs me to dub Bo Schembechler as the quintessential Michigan Man.  Anybody who had the opportunity to share the same space as Bo for even a scant few minutes could easily see that the man inhaled Maize and exhaled Blue.  Not to mention the fact that he carried himself with the honor and dignity that one of the world's largest alumni bases would expect from someone representing their institution.

And amazingly, Bo had no prior connection to the university before being named its head football coach in 1968.

Yeah, I realize that's not a news flash.  But I say all of that to say this: To me, being a Michigan Man has less about where someone cut their teeth, but more about the content of their character.
  • How do they carry themselves?
  • Are they a leader of men?
  • Do they understand and respect the history of what they represent?
  • Do they set an example for their team that alumni and fans can be proud of? 

All of this assumes, of course, that a candidate is qualified to be the face of college football's winningest program in the first place.

Much of the national fuss about being a Michigan Man has centered around hiring a coach who had already spent time in Ann Arbor as either a player or assistant coach.  Many have asked some form of the question "is Michigan doing itself a disservice by focusing on bringing in a Michigan Man?" If that's the criteria, then I say yes.  But if the best candidate for the job just happens to have Michigan ties, then that's just gravy.  But I was just a tiny cog in the complex machine of Michigan Athletics; so don't take my word for it: this guy won a Heisman Trophy for the program.

Bo wasn't a Michigan Man when he set foot on campus, but he became one.  I'd like to think that I, too became one and whomever is hired as the 19th head coach in the 132 year history of the program will have the opportunity to grow into one if he isn't one already.

And even though I haven't exactly written glowing things about Les Miles in the past, if he's the guy I only hope someone tells him that it's not grass, but field turf in Michigan Stadium.

But if I had my druthers, I wouldn't mind seeing this guy roaming the sidelines in the fall...

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Random Musings - Urban Sprawl

By "being judged on how you are...as a father" was outgoing Florida Gators head football coach Urban Meyer referring to spending more time watching his daughters play sports, or regaining the opportunity to coach his son?


I'm a big fan of ESPN's Mike Tirico and his Open Mike Podcast.  His latest one is a chat with NCAA president Mark Emmert in which they discuss the BCS and the possibility of the NCAA someday paying student-athletes (which I hope never happens, but that's another discussion for another time...).  It's a pretty good listen.


Um, courtesy of Gawker, Granny Gets Her Freak On at USC Tailgate [moderately SFW]


Finally, I know I've been all over the Dougie lately, but this is clearly the new dance craze.

And if you stop watching before the 2:32 mark, you're really missing the party.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Todd Haley Won't Need Any More Purell

Remember in Week 10 when the Kansas City Chiefs were taken behind the woodshed and beaten within an inch of their collective football lives by the Denver Broncos?  And then, in a much ado about nothing moment, the talking heads were up in arms about Kansas City coach Todd Haley's postgame handshake snub of Josh McDaniels, his Denver counterpart.

Haley later apologized, but refused to elaborate as to why he refused to shake McDaniels' hand.  In fact, they even kissed and made up when they payed this past week.

Now that Denver has confirmed that McDaniels has been relieved of his duties, what are the odds that Haley sends him a note of condolence?

Oh, and here's the only Dougie I've seen worse than Drew Stanton's.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Teach Him How To Dougie

Detroit Lions' third string QB Drew Stanton (how in the world does he have an "official website"???) after a 3 yard touchdown scamper:

Washington Wizards rookie PG John Wall during pregame introductions before his first regular season home game as a professional:

Wall was a one-and-done player at Kentucky.  Do you think we could get him to educate Stanton in the sacred art of the Dougie for college credit and get Wall one step closer to his degree?

And this was unquestionably the greatest celebration in Detroit Lions history.  Well, in 2010, at least.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Beard of the Week - Ryan Fitzpatrick, Buffalo Bills

At some point, things have to start going Buffalo's way, right?  While the fact that there are other tortured fanbases out there is dully noted, the Bills have to be in the conversation.
OK, try this: close your eyes and think about the history of the Bills.  I'm more than willing to wager that one of the first things that comes to mind is on the following list (the rich AFL tradition of the franchise notwithstanding):
  1. Scott Norwood.
  2. Always the bridesmaid, but never the bride.
  3. O.J. Simpson.
All of those past demons lurking about have to make the current season that much more of a jagged little pill for Bills fans to swallow.  At 2-9 at the time of this writing, the Bills have easily been the pluckiest team sporting a .181 winning percentage in the history of organized football.  Consider that after their Week 6 bye...
This is not a team that has made a stop at the post office and mailed it in.  Their record doesn't indicate it at all; but Bills are actually a watchable team, if only because you know they'll take a punch and and keep on coming. Against the Steelers, in a game that nobody gave them a chance to win (except, perhaps, the mothers of some of the Bills players - but I'd bet even they had their doubts...), Ryan Fitzpatrick did everything asked of him in order to win that game.  He marched his team down the field for a game tying field goal with :02 remaining in regulation.  In overtime, he threw a perfect pass to Steve Johnson, who as of late looked like he was becoming the first relevant wide receiver in Buffalo since Andre Reed.

But apparently Johnson had enjoyed a hot butter sandwich just before the overtime began.

Then he issued the tweet heard 'round the world.

Then he backtracked a bit (good piece by ESPN's AFC East blogger Tim Graham).

But despite the fact that the Bills went on to lose the game,  Fitzpatrick and his lumberjackian beard look like they are laying the groundwork for becoming a respectable team again in the near future.

Either that, or the 2010 Bills are just going to become another notch on the Bedpost of Failure in Buffalo.

In honor of Derek Anderson's meltdown, enjoy:

    Monday, November 22, 2010

    Random Musings

    Admittedly, I'm a rabid Knicks fan.  As such, I am sickened and appalled that L.A. Clippers forward Blake Griffin is currently allowed to roam the streets as a free man.  What he did to the Knicks over the weekend was criminal.

    I refuse to believe that LSU head football coach Les Miles has not made some sort of unholy deal and sacrificed the NFL career of former Tiger JaMarcus "Purple Drank" Russell in exchange for some absurd wins this year.  How else could a man who eats grass at visiting stadiums and doesn't know how to clap [Miles interview where he explains these absurdities here] pull off this, this or this?

    At what point are we forced to say that The Sanchize is more than just a game manager, but rather a real, bona fide, substance-approaching-style quarterback?

    Oh, and Colt McCoy seems to be on the fast track for that.

    Unfortunately, he's stuck in Sports Purgatory.

    Terrence Jones and Jared Sullinger look like the real deal early on.  I'm not completely sold yet on Harrison Barnes - and that might be unfair to say only because the preseason hype for him was built up to Harold Miner levels.

    Happy Monday, y'all.

    Monday, November 15, 2010

    If You Diss a Rapper in the Woods, Does it Make a Sound?

    I'm probably dating myself a bit here, but when I was a kid, there was a short lived cartoon show called "Hammerman" starring M.C. Hammer and he - oh heck, I'll stop here and let Wikipedia explain the concept of the show:

    Youth center worker Stanley Burrell (Hammer's real name) owns a pair of magical dancing shoes (which are alive and can speak), which when worn cause Burrell to transform into the superhero Hammerman. He frequently gets advice from his "Gramps", who was a former owner of the shoes and was known as Soulman. While in the guise of Hammerman, Burrell was dressed in MC Hammer's signature purple parachute pants and myriad golden chains.

    The show was hosted by the real MC Hammer, who also sang the show's theme song, telling about the origin of Hammerman. Back in the 1960s and 1970s, Gramps (real name unrevealed) was the superhero Soulman, but as he grew older, he grew weaker and was forced to retire. Gramps and his granddaughter Jodie traveled to find the next new superhero. Their search was over when they met Stanley and he put on the shoes.

    As absurd as that concept might sound, you can't discount the fact that at one point in time the man was so big that somebody from DIC Entertainment (the same company that brought us great old school cartoons like Inspector Gadget and The Super Mario Bros. Super Show) pitched this show to somebody AND GOT IT GREENLIGHTED.  Sure it only lasted 13 episodes, but that's 13 more episodes than, say, a cartoon based on Lil' Wayne.

    Coincidentally, 1991 was not only the year that Hammer made his animated debut (and saw his animated demise...) but also the year that he put out is last musical work of note (no Pun intended).  Unless you count Pumps and a Bump.  

    I don't.  

    And quite frankly, I'd be shocked if Hammer did.

    His fall from grace is well documented, having essentially donated the entirety of his fortune to the good people of Oakland, CA.  I mean, in 2009 he appeared in a Cash4Gold commercial during the Super Bowl which wouldn't have been funny had he not found himself as broke as a hobo stealing pies from windowsills.  It seems as if everyone has taken their shots at M.C. Pinata, including, but not limited to, The Simpsons.

    But somehow, Jay-Z took it one step too far.

    On Kanye West's track "So Appalled" Jigga took some seemingly mild swipes at the newly monikered "King Hammer" saying, "Hammer went broke so you know I'm more focused /I lost 30 mil' so I spent another 30/ 'Cause unlike Hammer 30 million can't hurt me"  Either King Hammer has his finger on the pulse of hip hop, or someone alerted him to the verbal jab (my money is on the latter), because revenge was vowed.

    And that vengance is a dish best served after the 1:21 mark:

    All of this forces me to ask: When does King Hammer take the Vanilla Ice route and realize that he's little more than a punchline and accept that?

    It's also worth noting that Hammer took shots at Busta Rhymes and Eminem back in 2006 in a video that was somehow more laughable than Better Run Run.