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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Why Summer is the Best Time to be a Wolverine

Stopping by my local newsstand over the weekend, I was excited to see the first pre-season college football magazine sitting on the shelf. Staring back at me. Two hundred plus pages of optimism and possibility all mine for just $6.99.

I almost began to weep openly. That's because we're now getting into the best time of the year to be a Michigan football fan: Summer.

Summer? Yes. Summer.

Lately, February to August is the sweet spot of being a believer in the Wolverines. In February, the Wolverines' usual strong recruiting class has just been signed. The optimism generated by that carries over into spring practice. All is good in A2.

And just as the dust settles from those two events, June rolls around bringing with it the onslaught of pre-season magazines. With Michigan inevitably picked among the nation's elite. When all things are possible. As the sting of another late-game collapse from the previous season has begun to fade in my memory and well before that first gut wrenching road loss in September.

So, fingers trembling, I reached for a copy of Lindy's National College Football 2006 Preview, with more anticipation than when I passed second base and headed for third after homecoming junior year with Debbie Pickler.

Would Lindy, whoever he is, proclaim that 2005 was a mere blip and Michigan would again take its rightful place at the top fo the college football heap? Would this Lindy fellow taunt me with the dream that the November 18 clash in Columbus with Tosu would be for the Big 10 title and, possibly, maybe...more?

Without further adieu, I grabbed the magazine and hurried to the cashier, passing by the latest issues of Swank and MILF Hunter with nary a second glance. And as soon as I got home, I read. And I read. And I read some more on the shitter. And I have just one thing to say:

Lindy, you cocksucking, son of a bitch! You have given me that most vile of curses: Hope. Hope that this, 2006, might just be The Year for my beloved team. You fucking bastard!

Hell, maybe I should have opted for Swank instead of being victimized yet again by the dirty four-letter word of Hope. As such, allow me to give you the highlights which now taunt me.

PRE-SEASON RANKING: #11

They start their quick blurb about the upcoming season by saying "It's bounce-back time...or at least it should be." And under The Bad News part say what all M fans are thinking: "Is this the slow decline and fall of Carr, or was last season just a bump in the road?"

They do however temper things by saying that Tosu is, in their minds, clearly at the top of the Big 10 heap.

Notable: Notre Dame is their pre-season #1 with Tosu right behind at #2 with Pennsylvania State University at #21 and Iowa #25

PRE-SEASON ALL-AMERICA TEAM

Offense: Jake Long, OL, Second Team
Defense: Leon Hall, DB, First Team (really?)

PLAYER RATINGS

Top QBs: Chad Henne, #7
Top RBs: Michael Hart, #9
Top WRs: Mario Manningham, #22
Top Tackles: Jake Long, #6
Top OLBs: LaMarr Woodley, #4
Top DBs: Leon Hall, #1 (really? Am I missing something?)
Top All-Purpose: Steve Breaston, #2 (Ted Ginn, Jr, #1)

UNIT RANKINGS

Top Backfields: Michigan, #4 (Tosu #1, ND #3, Iowa #8)
Top Receivers: Michigan, #7 (ND, #4, Tosu #5)
Top O Lines: Michigan #5

Notable: None of Michigan's defensive units were listed

THE BIG 10

Michigan is picked 2nd behind Tosu
Good News: "On paper, Wolverines have talent and speed to burn"
Bad News: "We're talking about Michigan here; unexpected setbacks always arise"
Our Call: "An early loss or two figures to undermine its meeting with Ohio State"

All-Big 10: Hart, Hall - First Team, Manningham, Long, Breaston, Rivas (really?) - Second Team

Honor Roll
Strongest Arm: Chad Henne
Best Cover Corner: Leon Hall

Top NFL Talent
#6 - LaMarr Woodley
#8 - Leon Hall

Big 10 Unit Rankings for Michigan
QBs: #2
RBs: #1
WRs: #2
OL: #1
DL: #4
LBs: #2
DBs: #3
Special Teams: #1

Overview

strengths: Ton of experience, especially at RB and QB. D-Line could key return to great M defenses of past
Potential Problems: Right side of O line is unsettled, especially at guard. As group, LBs need to get better. And if Henne gets hurt, we're screwed

The Last 25 Years:

Since this is the 25th year of Lindy's mag, they had a number of interesting lists.

Lindy's All-American Team of the Past 25 Years: 3 Wolverines made the cut: Desmond Howard and Charles Woodson were first team with Steve Hutchinson on the second team.

Unforgettable Players: #5, Charles Woodson "Ultimate all-purpose player did it all for the Wolverines

Unforgettable Games: #9, 1997 Michigan 20, Tosu 14

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Methinks Lindy has had too much exposure to toxic ink. He is a Jesse Jackson protege, "keep hope alive!"

Can't spell Lloyd without 2 "L's" said...

Yes, indeedy, "hope" is right up there with "snow" in the lexicon of the worst 4 letter words. Most years, the pre-season pubs boost my spirits, followed by further boosting with the pasting of some MAC patsies at home, followed by the inevitable tearing out of my heart with a weak, close, loss to an inferior team on the road. This, naturally followed by the predictable 6 or 7 game winning streak, ending with a de-pantsing of Lloyd by Tressel and Tosu. Gotta love Michigan football. Go Blue!

Anonymous said...

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
whelp, couldn't say it any better than that!

allaha said...

Good post: 'tis the season of reviewing pre-season rankings. . . . Having scanned various rankings now online, the most remarkable features are the lack of consensus regarding any dominant team nationally as well as the wide array of teams that make it into a Top 5 slot of at least one noted publication. In other words, the season appears wide open (unlike, for example, last season where USC was almost a unanimous No. 1 on everyone's list).

Also, a number of respected sources list Texas, tOSU, and/or Oklahoma in their Top 5 slots -- some even higher -- which is interesting given that UT plays both tOSU and OU relatively early in the season. The implicit point is that it may be difficult for any team to go undefeated this year, which in turn suggests there may be substantial controversy come BCS time. One can only that strength of schedule is properly rewarded if there are multiple 1 loss teams.

Anonymous said...

Yost - You are TOO funny. (lol) I guess next time you need to go for Swank. :-)

P.S. Lindy is actually Lindy Monday -- Carl's nephew.

ferenc said...

Yost-- You seem to forget the most important thing in determining the outcome of a season is the cover of EA Sports' NCAA video game. Last year, Desmond Howard was on the cover, and look what happened. This year Reggie Bush is on the cover sporting the USC uniform...speaks for itself don't you think?...yes I know that this 'curse' stuff is bullshit, but still...no Michigan players ever again. Please.

surrounded in columbus said...

Yost,
nothing wrong w/ starting in the back of the pack. i think we started '97 ranked in the mid teens.

besides- less room to fall if things do go bad!

CFN has a post on a similar topic- great expectations/low results-

http://collegefootballnews.com/2006/Columnists/RC/OverratedTeams.htm

that rates the most over rated teams in pre season polls, year in/year out. actually (and surprisingly) we seem to do pretty well in it.

Pat Mobley said...

Not only do we do pretty well, but Sparty has been officially declared the most overrated college football program in the pre-season poll era. Delightful.

Brad said...

Dude, just subscribe to Swank and MILF Hunter, it's sooooo much cheaper that way.... uh, what was the topic?

CaliGirl said...

I agree...hope is a powerful thing! It gives me the right amount of cockiness when I taunt my Sun Devil Alum boyfriend, on how much better our season will be than his...OH PLEASE LET US LIVE UP TO THE HYPE, I mean HOPE!