Sweaty Men Endeavors

The sports blog with the slightly gay name

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Waiting for Lloyd?

I should know better (especially after a Michigan loss), but I've been listening to a lot of sports-talk radio chatter over the past four days, and after listening to all the criticism and belly-aching, you would think Lloyd Carr is the worst coach ever to work in college football.

I'm sure it's a mistake to presume sports-talk radio callers, fearing a five-loss season, are the true voice of the fans. But I do sometimes wonder if Michigan football supporters really feel that the Wolverines would be better with another coach. As I've said before, I think such talk is ludicrous. I'd put Carr's record (which I believe is currently 97-31) up against any other coach's. Michigan has never taken the nose-dive that most football programs (Nebraska, Penn State, Oklahoma, USC, Notre Dame) inevitably experience. Not in my lifetime, at least. To the best of my knowledge, the worst record Michigan has posted in that span was 6-6 in 1984.

So I don't think Carr is going anywhere. Would I like to see him implement some new, more creative offensive and defensive philosophies? Of course I would. (Remember that 1997 defense? Is that the last time it seemed like Michigan was doing something really exciting? ) But Michigan isn't going to fire him. You know it and I know it. And he's certainly earned the right to decide when he steps down as head football coach.

Yet I do wonder how much longer Carr really wants to do this. There was some noise last year about retirement, which Carr shot down fast (mostly for recruiting purposes). He also seems to be taking steps to set up defensive coordinator Jim Herrmann as his successor.

And that's where I would draw the line with Carr. As maddening as all the "Carr must go" talk has been this week, I'm definitely intrigued when the discussion turns to who might eventually replace Carr, once he decides to walk away. Some people think Michigan will keep things "in the family," and hire someone from the current staff, like Herrmann or Mike DeBord (who failed as Central Michigan head coach). Or look at someone with connections to the program, like LSU's Les Miles, San Diego Chargers offensive coordinator Cam Cameron (who crapped out as Indiana's head man), or Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Mike Trgovac.

Others think that would be a huge mistake and should start fresh. But would a coach such as Urban Meyer leave Florida (and so soon)? What about a guy who's currently coaching in the NFL yet expressed interest in a college job, like Jon Gruden or, as Keith Langlois of the Oakland Press wondered, Steve Mariucci? (You just felt a bunch of Michigan fans wince.) I can see the appeal of breaking with the status quo and trying to start a new tradition. That's what Michigan did when it hired Bo Schembechler. But the football program isn't at the point it was when Bo was brought in. There's no rebuilding to be done. Michigan State hasn't superseded Michigan as the state's top football power.

I wouldn't mind seeing Michigan hire Cam Cameron as coach because he's an offensive-minded coach, and I think his failings at Indiana were largely due to lack of talent and a culture that just won't support football. But here's what I think will happen - or maybe more specifically, what I would like to see happen. Call it a prediction. And I hope you read it here first. I haven't seen anyone else say this.

I think Michigan will keep it in the family. And I think they're going to hire someone younger, who can be the head coach for a long time (10-15 years or more). I also think hiring a former player would be extremely popular with (most) Michigan fans. It's not going to happen tomorrow - and it shouldn't, because this guy probably isn't ready yet. But if Lloyd Carr sticks around for, let's say, five years, this guy will have paid his head-coaching dues, albeit at a smaller (but still NCAA Division I) school.

So I'd be kind of surprised if no one else has made this prediction yet. Someone probably has, but I just haven't seen it. (And I would prefer to give credit where it's deserved, though I would love hogging some "I told you so!" glory for myself). I think Michigan's next coach, after Lloyd Carr, will be their former quarterback (1983-1986) and current head coach at the University of San Diego.

The next Michigan head coach will be Jim Harbaugh.

Agree? Disagree? I'd love to hear it.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Michigan misery

That was a crappy way to spend a Saturday night, eh? I might've had more fun if I brought my mother to a bar with me while I tried to pick up women. ("Hey, she likes you! Okay, here's my number.")

It's easy to say something like this after the fact, but I had a bad feeling about this game all day, leading up to kickoff. What bugged me most was Michigan's poor record in its first road game over the last five years and Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez retiring after this season. You think his team and coaching staff weren't pumped up to give him one last victory over Michigan?

Suddenly, the 2005-06 Michigan football season looks pretty bleak. Sure, there's a healthy scoop of overreaction in that feeling. On the other hand, Michigan let John Stocco beat them. My sister was more accurate throwing me the car keys after dinner last night. (In fairness, she probably wouldn't have scored that game-winning touchdown.)

Michigan could beat Michigan State, Iowa, and Ohio State, and end up winning the Big 10 championship again. But does anyone think that's feasible right now, especially with Michigan State now looking rather unbeatable? I might be working with short-term or selective memory right now, but I can't remember Michigan looking worse going into a game vs. MSU. (Yet I still think Michigan will win next week. Go figure.)

♦ This should surprise no one, but Michigan dropped out of the USA Today Top 25 poll. (Michigan State moved up to #12 in the rankings.)

Jason Avant is as optimistic as you are right now.

♦ If the Michigan offense continues struggling (They get a "C" from the Ann Arbor News' John Heuser), is there any way they can beat MSU? The defense actually isn't playing that badly, but can they hold MSU to 24-30 points? And even if it does, can U-M score more than 24-30 points? Do you really think they can right now?

♦ C'mon, you can tell me. How many of you were thinking it might be time for Matt Gutierrez to get some playing time at quarterback? The ESPN2 announcers mentioned a few times last night that Chad Henne knows the offense so much better this year. ("Last year, he knew only 50% of the playbook!") So why does it look like Henne could play better when he knew less? Maybe the U-M coaches need to go back to that 50% playbook.

Normally, I'm not this reactionary, but Michigan's offense looks terrible right now. What if it could run better with Gutierrez at the controls? Would he be more accurate with his throws? He couldn't be worse than Henne, could he? How many times did Henne overthrow his receivers on deep passes, or throw behind his guys on quick slants? He just doesn't look comfortable at all, and Wisconsin didn't even generate that much of a pass rush on him. Shit, he's playing more like Scott Mitchell.

Sure it's a huge "what if?" especially with next week's game. But Michigan already has two losses. Michigan will never know if the offense could've run better if it doesn't get Gutierrez in there.

♦ Michigan needs to stop playing Steve Breaston at wide receiver. Mario Manningham (who scored U-M's second touchdown last night) is so clearly the better player at that position right now and has the height and athleticism to adjust to Henne's poor throws. Maybe I'm overreacting again ("Remember the Rose Bowl, Ian!"), but Breaston deserves to be on a milk carton right now. Bring him in for a few plays, and line him up in the slot where he can run past linebackers and safeties. But he's not getting the job done at wide receiver (and ain't doing too well as a kick/punt returner, either).

(Image via John T. Greilick / The Detroit News)


Definitely maybe

Welcome to my folly. As I said over at the mother ship, it's a rainy day, I was bored, and I had some Michigan football thoughts to dump out of my head. So here we go. I have no idea if this will last (which is just the sort of thing I often roll my eyes at), but when I have a longer ramble about sports on a particular day, this seems like a good place to put it. I hope I can post something three or four times a week. As I love to say, we shall see.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Will he or won't he?

To do an all-sports blog or not to do an all-sports blog? That is the question.

For me, anyway.

C'mon, that's a great name for a sports blog.

And there's so many of you Fried Rice Thoughts readers who snooze through my need to feed my inner sports junkie.