Thursday, November 7, 2013

ESPN: Brady Hoke can fix Michigan

Jason Whitlock takes a rather controversial look at the current state of the Michigan Wolverines. I'm not a Whitlock fan by any means, and a lot of what he says in the article seems to be potentially harmful speculation, but it's obviously a perception that's out there.

To make you feel better, hit the jump for a girl in a bikini top.


  1. Wow...never thought of it that way...

  2. I was asked about this by a family member who doesn't follow Michigan too closely. Here's part of what I wrote:

    * "This Michigan team is soft and has low character." That's certainly possible, but how is he making that measurement? It's an emotional remark.

    * "... demolished Hoke's collection of recruiting all-stars." This is the same sort of idiocy that was thrown at Rodriguez. Hoke's oldest recruits are now 2nd-year (true sophomore / redshirt freshman) players. They couldn't be expected to carry a team or even heavily influence it. Nonsense.

    His remarks about the players are flat-out nasty. If I were Hoke I'd sever ties. Samples:

    * "On the recruiting trail, he has sacrificed character, grit and maturity for ratings stars." Again, that's a silly emotional statement. What is his basis?

    * "As a redshirt freshman this season, Kalis cracked the starting lineup and has been subsequently benched." WTF is his point?

    * "Another high-profile lineman, David Dawson, violated Hoke's no-visits policy by taking a trip to Florida after verbally committing to Michigan. Hoke backed down and let Dawson recommit to Michigan." That's the only one that might have legs. Dawson's father died during his senior season, though, so Hoke might have been more sympathetic. Who knows?

    * "Freshman QB Shane Morris started out as a five-star recruit, backed up to four-star, and is now viewed as a guy who is a bit quirky and immature." Unsubstantiated and nasty ...

    * "Green is soft." More of the same ...

    * "Lewan is the Jadeveon Clowney of the Big Ten, the pampered superstar who's doing his school a favor by suiting up this season." Turn down several million dollars and this is what you get.

    * "The ridiculous and selfish unsportsmanlike conduct penalty he received in Saturday's game is indicative of his play all season." He has actually graded out pretty well. Whitlock is uninformed.

    He saved the best for last:

    "There's nothing wrong with Michigan's schemes. Firing offensive coordinator Al Borges won't fix what's wrong with the Wolverines." Wow ... in case there was any doubt that his fat head is stuck up his fat a$$.

    1. I agree with just about everything you said.

  3. Any chance that Whitlock loves Brady Hoke so much that he did this on purpose? What if he wants the players to read this so they get pissed off and try to prove him wrong?

    1. I don't think Whitlock has any motive here other than getting clicks on his column. In fact, I think he tries to soften the blow by saying he has confidence in Hoke. He's not trying to piss of Michigan's players. He's trying to piss off Michigan fans to the point that they'll read him. The only thing sports fans like more than winning championships is complaining about people saying bad things about their team.

  4. As you point out, this Whitlock article is controversial ... so much so that it resulted in several locked threads over at another site.

    I'm neither pro-Whitlock or anti-Whitlock ... I don't seek out his articles or read them when I see a link to them.

    All that said, there's a tendency to conflate disdain for Whitlock with the underlying point of his article, and it results in comments such as anonymous above ("fat a$$").

    The Michigan coaches, by their own admission, say there's an issue with execution. The game film shows this, the coaches acknowledge it. Execution boils down to (a) knowledge of technique, (b) talent to execute technique, and (c) effort to execute technique. And so the question I try to ask is this -- given that there is an acknowledged problem with execution, then what is the source of that problem? I ask from a purely analytical point of view. Discard all the animosity for Whitlock, Borges or whomever.

    The easy answer is to say "all three" ... and that may well be true, but I'm more interested in prioritizing the causes.

    My sense of Whitlock's article -- absent the sensationalist commentary -- is that Whitlock was suggesting the coaches are conveying the technique and the inherent talent is present. So Whitlock's argument appears to be that "c" -- effort to execute the technique is lacking.

    I'm not sure of that. I don't get the sense that there's a general lack of effort. I've seen games where a team appears to "give up." For example, the 2010 Michigan team against Mississippi State appeared to give up. They were losing badly and were laughing on the sidelines as if they simply didn't care. I don't sense that with the 2013 Wolverines.

    My sense is the problem is more with "b" -- talent -- and it's NOT that the general talent is absent but rather that the talent is not yet formed. This is the "youth" argument, which I think has merit. I'm not a coach or a football expert, but it seems to me the coaches -- particularly Borges -- has made this worse with too many changes and perhaps some unnecessary complexity. This is the "identity" complaint -- what exactly is Michigan's offensive "identity?" It doesn't seem to have one because several things have been tried and abandoned. In that environment it would seem difficult to develop and deepen the inherent talent so "b" (talent to execute technique) can take root. But again, I'm no expert.

    I have written in several posts here and elsewhere that I saw something different in Hoke's eyes in the post-game press conference for the MSU game. It was as if he had come to a determination that some experiment was not working and the time had come to refocus. I am speculating. I do not know what's in Hoke's mind. This I'm pretty sure of: what Hoke SAYS in press conference is *not* a reflection of what's truly in his heart of hearts. Only time will tell.

    The game this Saturday will be instructive, as will the NW and Iowa games. The OSU game will likely be a loss, but the manner of execution will be instructive. Those four games will indicate whether there is a progression of improvement. And then the pressure will be on the 2014 season. A repeat of the kind of drifting lack of identity present in the 2013 play will prove problematic for Hoke and his staff.

    1. I don't understand locking the thread over at MGoBlog, but whatever.

    2. By the way, the young lady in the picture is a nice selection for this blog. I dare not say more lest my wife see this. :-)

      That said ... where the hell is the pizza box in this picture? Hmmm?