Saturday, October 4, 2014

The Halfway Mark of Michigan's Season: The Party's Over

We sing/yell “Hail to the Victors,” chant “It’s great to be a Wolverine,” and politely say “Go Blue.” “Hail to the Victors sounds flat when the Wolverines are losing. Michigan is an underdog at Rutgers tomorrow, the halfway mark of the season. “Dandy” Don Meredith sang “The Party’s Over” on Monday Night Football. Michigan’s party is over. They could upset Rutgers later today, imagine that, beating Rutgers would be an upset, get their mojo working, and sweep the rest of the schedule, defeating Michigan State and Ohio State on the road. The season would still be over. John Beilein, Michigan’s winning basketball coach, said the atmosphere would change with a win. Team 135 is beaten down, at a loss, but a win, a series of wins, could restore their spirits. It would also reduce the chorus of boo birds, who want Brady Hoke, the head coach, and Dave Brandon, the Athletic Director, fired, effective immediately. Michigan is being pummeled daily on network TV, cable TV, sports writers and especially the blogs. The losing is bad, but the concussion is unacceptable. The ABC broadcast of the Maryland game last Saturday caught the Michigan quarterback, Shane Morris, sent back into the game when he could hardly stand and appeared to suffer a concussion. The cameras also caught a Maryland player delivering a cheap shot to his head. That’s where the national outcry is coming from. Michigan mishandled the situation, letting the story get ahead of itself. Concussions are a major issue in sports today, especially in football. The days are long gone when a coach would hold his hands up to a groggy player, and ask “How many fingers?” The correct answer would then get the player back into the game. Sending a player with a suspected concussion back into the game today is unacceptable. Yet, that’s what Michigan appeared to do. Probably the only thing worse today would be if the university covered up a player being the suspect in a domestic violence event. The national outcry is justifiable. Michigan is now the poster child for what not to do – it’s a teachable moment. Michigan’s official story is that no one among the doctors watching the game, the coaching staff, or the trainers saw the possible concussion. The trainers were concentrating on Morris’ high angle sprain. Some of the furor though is suspect, especially from the Michigan fan base. They would be quiet if Michigan were still the football juggernaut, convincingly winning most games, and blowing out opponents. Coach Hoke said he did not think there was a concussion. The Athletic Director at1:00am said there was a probable mild concussion. Michigan’s new president, Mark Schlissel, issued a statement apologizing for the University: “We did not get that right and for this I apologize to Shane, his family and teammates, and to the entire Michigan family.” Michigan has changed the game protocol to try to prevent a similar incident going forward. Some of the outcry is payback for the Michigan, the winningest team in college football. Michigan was arrogant, seemingly a bully. The fans delighted in the team running up the score against “patsies.” Those days are gone, at least for now. Schadenfreude is the phrase. The slide started eight years ago when Lloyd Carr’s wolverines lost to Appalachian State, and then were blown out by Oregon the next week. Both games were in Ann Arbor. Coach Carr had also lost some of his effectiveness in recruiting. He retired at the end of the season, defeating Urban Meyer’s Florida Gators in the Capitol One Bowl. Michigan had consistent problems playing against the spread offense. Bill Martin, the then athletic director, after a messy search hired West Virginia’s highly successful coach, Rich Rodriguez, as the new coach. Rich Rod was the inventor of the spread; he had directions to change Michigan. He is an outstanding coach. Just Thursday night his Arizona Wildcats defeated Oregon, the second time in two years. Yet he was the wrong coach at the wrong time at the wrong school. His Michigan record was 3-8, 5-7, and 7-6. The teams did not play defense. Dave Brandon had replaced Bill Martin as AD. Brandon had played for Bo. The fans wanted a “Michigan Man.” He gave them a “Michigan Man,” Brady Hoke. Hoke started out like gangbusters, 11-2 four years ago, beating Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl. Michigan was back, where it belonged. Then the roof caved in, 8-5, 7-6, and now 2-3, being shut out by Notre Dame. The team is losing ugly. Hoke’s fate is sealed. The 114,000 seat Big House is struggling to get 100,000 in the stands. Michigan needs football to fund the athletic program. View the Big House like a 747. It generates tremendous profits when the seats are fully occupied. Too many empty seats are an economic disaster. Make no mistake; attendance is plunging. The students are upset because Brandon dropped the long tradition (Michigan football is tradition) of student tickets being sold on the basis of seniority (years at Michigan). The students were beginning to stay away, leaving thousands of visible empty seats in the stands. He experimented with general admissions. That was also a disaster. He also substantially raised the price on student season tickets to $295. They would pay more for less. Michigan students are not stupid. They easily figured that one out, without taking a basic economics course. I won’t be watching the game today. This blog was typed on a plane as my new song for the next six days is “O, Canada.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Shouldn't have let Rich Rodriguez go...who beat Oregon on Thursday? HIS