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Saturday, September 30, 2006

Michigan - 28, Minnie 14...Scarier than it needed to be

Show of hands, folks -- For a split second, when the Gophers had the ball, first and goal, and looked like they were going to make it a 7 point game with 3 minutes left, anybody else having 2005 flashbacks?

This game shouldn't have been this close. I should have been able to channel surf and watch other games. But the team from the first half was replaced by another in the second.

More to come, just wanted to get something up for now. Give us your thoughts.

P.S. My god, is MSU embarrassing.

Saturday Pre-Game

If you're looking for an MZone fix before sitting down to another glorious Saturday (Saturday, not Tuesday) of college football, we found a couple nuggets to tide you over.

* As you get ready for the game against Minnesota and are in search of a great preview of the game, look no further than Brian over at MGoBlog. Why one of the Detroit papers doesn't hire this guy is beyond me.

* According to the Detroit News, Michigan fans who go to road games will be able to listen to Frank Beckmann and Jim Brandstatter on the radio thanks to a low-watt transmitter provided by Host Communications. The broadcast frequency will change from venue to venue, but Saturday night's game at the Metrodome in Minneapolis can be heard on 103.1 FM.

* Is the Little Brown Jug the oldest trophy in college football? AZ Stallion says no. He claims it's the Territorial Cup awarded the winner of UA-ASU.

* A week ago, we never heard of OU president David Boren. Now, he's everywhere. First there was OU-UO where Boren picked the wrong side advocating they "erase" the game from the books. Did he do the same on a much larger scale -- say advising President Bush about the Iraq War? Folks, we're not making this up. (HT: Matt)

* Remember Max Martin, the tailback who left Michigan and transferred to 'Bama because he wasn't getting enough PT in A2? Well, looks like he got kicked off the Tide while sitting out his transfer year! (HT: RW)

* Want ND season tix? Well, for the first time in more than 30 years, you might have a shot. The school will make 5,000 season tickets available. The ducats come from tickets that have been revoked or suspended due to scalping the last several years. (HT: DW)

Friday, September 29, 2006

Know Your Foe - Minnesota

Saturday night, two U of Ms will clash as the undefeated Michigan Wolverines travel to the Twin Cities to take on the Minnesota Golden Gophers in the battle for the Little Brown Jug. The Gophers beat Michigan last year for the first time since 1986, so revenge will be on the minds of the Wolverines for the third straight week. Thus, the MZone hereby presents another installment of its critically acclaimed series, KNOW YOUR FOE.

History – Founded in 1851, the original campus overlooked the Saint Anthony Falls on the Mississippi River (yes, the Mississippi divides the Twin Cities), but it was later moved about a mile to its current location. During the Civil War, the school shut down following a financial crisis and didn't reopen until 1867. It was upgraded from a preparatory school to a college in 1869. There was no graduating class until 1873 when two students received their diplomas (and you just know the valedictorian never let his classmate forget who was the "dumb one" in the class of '73).

Location – The Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Yes, there is a campus in each city, kind of like North Campus and Central Campus in Ann Arbor (they even have their version of the Bursley Bus connecting the two). Though the winters in Minnesota last about 11 ½ months, the Twin Cities are actually a fun place. There’s a legacy of great music – Prince, The Replacements, Husker Du, Tapes N Tapes - and I once heard from a girl I once talked to that it’s a great place to shop. Mary Tyler Moore lived there, too. And of course, since this is Know Your Foe, we have to mention lakes. Notre Dame has two on campus, so does Wisconsin. But Minnesota kicks both of their asses – they have 10,000 lakes on campus in the state.

Nickname – Golden Gophers. This is the second straight week that Michigan will be taking on an opponent with a cute mascot (I guess that’s their reward for kicking that ugly leprechaun’s ass). Goldy the Gopher is also quite athletic as evidenced by the photo below. Although, with such a fine dental school on campus, don't you think he’d get those teeth fixed by now?


Colors/Logo/Cheers –Maroon and Gold. But take a look at those uniforms – is that really gold? I’d call it yellow. They used to be gold but, since their uniforms look so much like USC, perhaps they should consider going back to the more metallic color. For a while they were changing their helmets every few years, but they’ve stuck with their current version since ’99. Maybe that's because they've been to six bowls since they moved to their current helmet, which is more than half of the bowls for the program.

They use Goldy the Gopher a lot as a logo but - on their helmets - they have that funky M with those weird serifs on them. They’ve used some version of it on their headgear since at least 1968. They haven’t given in to the temptation to modernize it and have it move forward like Wisconsin and Purdue. Of course those teams have been to a few Rose Bowls since 1962.

The Minnesota Rouser is a very underrated fight song, though it sounds like a porno movie – from 1955. I guarantee you've heard it and you might have even hummed it to yourself without even knowing whose fight song it was.

Academics – The University of Minnesota has the second largest student body in the US, with 51,175 students, behind only Arizona State. What is it with these huge maroon and gold schools? U.S. News and World Report ranks the Minnesota 67th. That is tied with the University of Delaware. The pride of the University is the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute which ranks among the top 15 professional schools of public affairs at public universities in the country. You see his name a lot in this Know Your Foe. That’s because you see his name a lot in Minnesota. He’s bigger than Paul Bunyan there.

Stadium/Fans One of the worst stadiums in college football (with only the Orange Bowl being worse because you're likely to get stabbed getting to your car after the game there) is The Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. The Metrodome is off campus, it’s sterile and it used to have that horrible turf. Despite it being a dome, the stadium doesn’t help generate much noise and enthusiasm for Gophers games. Sure, it's loud when the Vikings are winning, or when the Twins are in the playoffs, but not for Gopher football. It’s the only venue that’s hosted a Super Bowl, a Final Four (with Michigan losing in the finals, 1992), and a World Series. But as far as college football goes, it’s mostly known for hosting some horrifying collapses by the home team– to Michigan in 2003, and to Wisconsin last year. As a matter of fact, the most memorable clip from the Gophers playing in the Metrodome is probably from 2002 when Iowa fans tore down the goalposts after clinching a co-Big Ten title. That has to be the most embarrassing moment for the University, other than when Brenda Walsh left after only a couple weeks of being there in season four of Beverly Hills 90210.

Athletics – If it weren't for hockey - and their football team from over 50 years ago - the sports tradition at Minnesota would be pretty lame. The basketball team has been to only one Final Four (and they had to cheat to get there). But Williams Arena is one of the more unique places to play with those sunken benches. How no one gets hurt diving for a ball, I don’t know. Plus it forced former head coach Clem Haskins to sit on a bar stool, which was kind of cool.

Famous alums – I have to say I was more impressed with this list than I thought I'd be. From B-list TV actors (Loni Anderson, John Astin, Peter Graves, and Kate Mulgrew) to Robert Gore, the inventor of Gore-Tex (of course) to two vice presidents (and presidential election losers) Hubert Humphrey and Walter Mondale. But doesn't that sum up the Gophers? Good but not great. They get to a certain level but not to the top. Just like their football team.

The Game – This isn’t as close as the past few Michigan-Minnesota tussles. The Wolverines get out to an early lead and hold the Gophers down. KNOW YOUR FOE prediction: Michigan 31, Minnesota 10.

Meltdown

We understand it's tough being a Spartan fan. And last Saturday's collapse against Notre Dame didn't make things any easier.

But to totally understand the pain of being a Michigan State supporter, you must listen to this radio clip The House Rock Built found. It's from the Sports Inferno on WXYT, AM 1270 in Detroit. Co-host Mike Valenti has a complete meltdown as he relives the Spartan loss to the Irish. Ho...ly...shit. This guy was two minutes away from a hostage situation.

The clip is 15 minutes long and when I first clicked on it, I wasn't going to listen to the whole thing. But I did. I was laughing too hard. The guy just keeps getting more and more deranged.

Thanks to all the readers who sent us this link.

This Doesn't Pass The Smell Test

Bullshit.

That's what I have to say after I read about the "tragic news" so many readers sent us regarding the guy behind the LSUoverUSC "blog."

To recap...

Remember the billboard some LSU jokers actually raised money for in order it up outside the USC campus to proclaim SC didn't win a share of the 2004 National Title? Well, this LSUoverUSC "blog" came into existence around the time of this "campaign" with its sole mission (and only posts) being about how USC didn't win anything in 2003 and LSU was the only champ that year.

Ok, fine. Everybody is entitled to their opinion. But the asshole behind the site set out to "prove" his opinion by spamming ever other blog and sports site on the Internet. Folks, I kid you not when I say there were multiple times when Benny and I would delete 10 "comments" a day from this jerk linking back to his "blog."

Well, earlier this week, MZone readers alerted us to a post on LSUoverUSC in which the person behind it identified himself as "Fraser Babineaux" and claimed that he was "obsessed" with his blog and posting on forums due to OCD. He claimed his therapist told him, in order to recover, he had to stop and thus, he was shutting down the site.

Now, I admit, I actually felt bad for the guy. Then, two days later, another post appeared on the site under the title "tragic news":

"I am going to try this and hope it works. My best friend was Fraser. Yesterday, he was found dead in his apartment. He was a troubled guy over the last six months. I knew alot was wrong. He put besides him a note for me and in that note he gave me the password hear and asked that I post saying that he always believed in his cause and he couldnt live on with out it.

I hope he can find the peace he never could find here in this world now."

That's when I lost any and all sympathy for "Fraser." Because, call me a heartless prick but I don't believe this for a second. Hey, if I'm wrong, I'll be the first to put up a post apologizing. However, I don't think I'll need to. Because this screams hoax to me.

And that's even more fucked up than his "cause."



UPDATE: Since posting this last night, the LSUoverUSC site has been "updated" yet again -- twice. First, "Fraser's" good buddy put up a copy of his "dead pal's" 10 page manifesto detailing the "proof" of his "argument" for the site (the same one that was spammed all over the Internet by this asshole). This latest one was put up "in memory of my friend." Riiiiight. I'm sure it had nothing to do with the fact that daily visits to his site went from "Fraser" and his imaginary friend to over a thousand a day this week since Fraser's "final post" then the "tragic news" that followed.

In addition, Mr. Good Buddy also put up "funeral arrangements" for the "deceased." However, as one of our readers already pointed out, a quick Google search makes the whole thing smell like a bigger pile of bullshit.

Gee, amazing how this site is now updated more since Fraser "died." This guy is the Tupac of bloggers.

N.C. State to Students: Please Don't Piss in Stadium Seats

It looks like Chuck Amato's coaching isn't the only embarrassement around Raleigh these days.

In the We Couldn't Make it Up if We Wanted To category, North Carolina State officials are asking its students to not urinate in their seats during football games.

Yes, you read that correctly.

Apparently, due to an online ticketing system for students aimed at preventing overcrowding, some fans, worried about being allowed back in their seats during last weekend's upset over B.C., decided it was better to simply stay put and piss all over themsleves.

Need more? It was also Parents' Weekend.

Two Minute Drill

* Did Troy Smith do his best Kermit Washington impression when he was in high school? And nice to see how the Buckeye PR machine blurs the facts surrounding Smith's transfer.

(HT: CO)

* PB at Burnt Orange Nation has finished an exhaustive 3,000 word review of the Big 12 South and North.

* Critics of Big House skybox plan fight on (HT: Dr. D)

* The Dead Schembechlers, a Columbus punk band that has been around longer than Schembechler was, has a new video out for their tune, Bomb Ann Arbor Now.

(Thanks to many readers for that tip)

* Finally, DW sends us this picture of a Tennesse fans showing her support of the Vols and the (vast) amounts of fast food she apparently consumes as she waits for the team to enter Neyland Stadium down Peyton Manning Pass.


You're lovin' it? Yes, yes we can see that.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Move Over Beano--There's a New Intolerable Prick in Town

During last Saturday's tOSU-Penn State game--sometime after JoePa almost literally crapped his pants and before Nitany Lions QB Anthony Morelli figuratively crapped his--I heard something that made me furious (well, as furious as I could get while basking in the glory of another Michigan pounding of a team that beat us last year.)

I heard venerable ABC college football announcer, 1966 Heisman Trophy runner-up, quarterback of the undefeated 1972 Miami Dolphins, and NFL Hall of Famer Bob Griese, struggling to make a point about how teams seek to establish a successful rhythm and identity early in the season. Unable to grasp the right word to make his point, Griese jokingly reached out to his broadcast "partner" Paul Maguire, asking the walrus-faced former Buffalo Bills punter and booth blowhard, "What's the word I'm looking for Paul?" With all the clever sensitivity of the Ralph Fiennes character in "Schindler's List" Maguire snapped, "I don't know, it's in your mouth. Get it out!"

Though I couldn't see Griese, his subdued reaction made me think that he was embarassed. Embarassed by Maguire, a man who is clearly among the worst announcers in all of sports. He adds nothing--no insight, no humor, nothing. He does not even have a good voice or a pedigree as one of the sports' greats. He was a freaking punter! For the Buffalo Bills!

As far as I can tell, Maguire has his job because he was already signed for this season to announce NFL Sunday Night games, which were formerly broadcast by ESPN. Rather than jettison this useless gasbag the network decided to stuff his flabby ass into a college booth, where he takes away air time from two consummate pros, the aforementioned Griese and the vastly unheralded Brad Nessler.

My contempt for Maguire was accelerated by his dissing of Griese, but it has its firm roots in his abysmal performance as part of the three-schmuck booth that ESPN foisted on the viewing public over the past several years. When you can stand out as the most obnoxious man on a broadcast team that also includes Mike Patrick and Joe Theismann, that's saying something. Patrick's repressed hostitlity makes him term most everything "wonderful, wonderful" and Theismann's relentless verbal diarrhea forces his mouth to do a Joe Pa Dash to the Can whenever he opens it.

Paul Maguire, don't you dare insult Bob Griese. And don't try to be funny. Better yet, do us all a favor and just shut your worthless yapper until your contract runs out. In the words of Seinfeld's postman neighbor Newman, "I loathe you!"

Minnesota—Hockey, Lakes, Mosquitoes

Apparently, one additional benefit to beating a #2 ranked Notre Dame on national television is that more of your games get televised. Or, at least more get televised to us folks who live in remote parts of the country. That means that for the third Saturday in a row, Michigan will be on television, this time against Minnesota. And Bo said that rivalry game is overrated.



Don't forget the OFF guys!

What do we know about Minnesota? Well, Michigan and Minnesota play for the Little Brown Jug. It's a trophy that exists because Michigan coach Fielding Yost didn't trust the University of Minnesota to provide safe drinking water to his team and brought along his own to preserve the purity of his athlete's precious bodily fluids. That 1903 game also had to be called at a 6-6 tie because Minnesota fans stormed the field. Oh, and after Michigan forgot the jug, Minnesota refused to just give it back. Thus, distrust and poor sportsmanship combine to make the oldest trophy in college football.

What's easy to forget about Minnesota is that there was a time when they were a college football powerhouse. History calls those years "the road to World War Two." Minnesota won mythical national championships in 1934, 1935, 1936, 1940, and 1941. Try and top that USC! OK, to be completely accurate those years were "pre" World War Two for just the United States. And, Minnesota got another MNC in 1960. Things, however, have changed.

The script for a Minnesota football season lately has generally been something along theses lines: After an offseason of controversy that involves head coach Glen Mason covetously eyeing the Ohio State head coaching job—note to law enforcement authorities: should Jim Tressel ever die under suspicious circumstances, don't look in Ann Arbor, the first person you want to talk to is Glen Mason—Minnesota tallies a record of something like 5-0 or 6-0 by featuring a rushing attack of multiple 100+-yards-per-game tailbacks and some cupcakery with their non-conference schedule. Minnesota then loses to Michigan—often in heartbreaking fashion—and then spends the rest of the season in a Michigan State-like tailspin before eeking out enough wins to make it to the Music City Bowl. Maybe.

This year, things are a little different. First, Minnesota actually played a somebody for a non-conference game. This decision probably seemed like a fantastic idea after Cal got thumped by Tennessee but then reality set in and Cal took out their frustrations on the Golden Gophers. Second, Minnesota has now already lost two games. Third, Minnesota actually won against Michigan last year.

What does remain the same is that Minnesota runs the ball well and has a couple of guys they can go to. Minnesota is 8th in the country in rushing offense and averages 226 yards on the ground per game. So, for the second straight week, the opponent's strength meets Michigan's strength. We all know how that worked out last week. Praise be to Ron English. Also, Brian Cupito is completing about 63% of his passes and averages 185 yards through the air. On offense, Minnesota is statistically stronger than Wisconsin, but the defenses they've faced have ranged from awful to below average.

Still, statistically, this is the best overall offense Michigan has faced all year. Minnesota might actually be able to break 100 yards on the ground, but I doubt it'll be much more than that. The defense they're about to face is unlike anything they've seen so far. This should be enjoyable and interesting to watch. I thought Wisconsin played reasonably well, all things considered, and they were pretty much shut down after their opening drive.

On the other side of the ball, Minnesota's defense is statistically awful. Against the run, they're 82nd in the nation and 9th in the Big Ten. Against the pass, they're 91st in the nation and 11th in the Big Ten. That's almost a punchline: "Out of all the teams in the Big Ten, Minnesota 's pass defense ranks 11th." Ba-dum-ching! Yeah, I know there are eleven teams in the conference. Total defense is 84th in the nation and 10th in the Big Ten. This defense is at the bottom of the Big Ten, a conference with teams like Illinois, Indiana, Northwestern, and Purdue who--although still undefeated—ranks 105th in the nation in total defense. Minnesota's defense is on a par with Vanderbilt. Mario Manningham, you'll want to warm up and stretch very thoroughly before this game.

In other recent years, this game is a "shootout." I can still remember the 424 yards Minnesota gained on the ground in 2003. It was like they had three Vince Young clones in the backfield. This year, with this defense, the shootout is going to be one-sided. Brian Cupito and company, say hello to the concepts of negative yardage, three and out, and pressure that has you making bad throws. Even the Minnesota fans over at GopherHole.com aren't optimistic, even if their game preview is.

I should caveat all this with the fact that I haven't seen a Minnesota game this year—was kind of busy watching the Michigan-Wisconsin game last Saturday—and really don't know anything about them other than their record and how they rank statistically. Also factoring into this game, Michigan has never lost in the Metrodome. Prior to last year's loss, the last time Michigan lost to Minnesota was 1986. There's also that silly flag planting thing that is apparently all the rage on teams prone to spiraling downward after a big loss. Plant flag on other team's field after a win, lose the will to live after a big loss, the two must go hand in hand. And, Michigan is sure to be out to avenge last year's loss. I guess a 7-5 season does have a silver lining after all.

Where's Yost?

As some of our more astute readers noticed yesterday, Yost was conspicuously absent from posting. Even our less astute readers will probably notice his absence again today. Is Yost being disciplined by Bill Martin for criticizing those wonderful cheerleading uniforms? Was there a bloodless coup by Baggy, IC, and myself while Yost was enjoying some Thai food? No, neither one.

We here in the MZone offices have been trying to figure out what happened to Yost as well. He was feeling a bit queasy on Monday and has been out of commission since Tuesday. Who did Yost piss off that has the power to do this to him? So we checked through Monday and Tuesday's posts and we figured it out: You don't fuck with Joe Paterno and Mariachi bands.

Two Minute Drill

* The Washington blog, U-Dub Dish (love the logo), has their own commentary on the Huskies cheerleaders. Personally, I've always liked those W togs, though I must admit they aren't the sexiest outfits. But I'd hate for the college cheerleaders to go the way of the NFL. I need a shot of penicillin after seeing that Redskin cheerleader on the site.

* Sure they set a record, but shouldn't this be considered some form of child abuse?

HT: DW

* Coaching isn't brain surgery. And Indiana coach Terry Hoeppner is proving that brain surgery can't keep him from the sideline. By the way, with his shaven head, does Hoeppner now bear a striking resemblance to John L. Smith?

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Eight Days A Week

There was a college game on ESPN last night. You don't have to check your calendars - it was Tuesday. I think we've all gotten used to the Thursday night game. They started several years ago as a way for MAC teams to get some publicity. And Louisville. I swear they played half their games on Thursday night. And with their high current ranking, I guess it worked.

But then the games creeped into Friday which has always been the domain of high school football. Though I often pass a lonely Friday night by watching teams like UTEP, Houston, and Tulsa, it just doesn't feel right.

Now there are games on Tuesdays. Sure, it was only a Conference USA game, but how much longer until marquee games are played on Tuesday? Those Thursday games featuring MAC teams have morphed into SEC conference games. #2 ranked Auburn is playing this Thursday night. Why does Auburn have to play on a Thursday?

So not only do the weekday games leave a bad taste in my mouth, but they have to be murder on the tailgating which is as much a part of college football as fight songs and stopping the clock on first downs. Having games on Tuesdays and Thursdays just help turn the college game into just another sporting event, much like a regular season NBA or major league baseball game. Is that what we want?

Apologies Shmapologies

In light of the Pac 10 officiating crew apologizing last week for their poor calls in the Oklahoma-Oregon game, Sunday Morning Quarterback posted a bit of a roundtable question, asking bloggers what call in our team's past would we like to have an apology for. There would be no change in the outcome, just the apology.

I'm not big on apologies. Once the heinous act by an official is done, it's done in my eyes. Sure, an apology might lend some credence when you're claiming your team was ripped off by a bad call, but the record books (and the polls) don't reflect this.

If I had to choose one from a Michigan standpoint, it'd be for the no call on the trip of Desmond Howard against Sparty in 1990. The Wolverines, despite an early-season loss to Notre Dame, came into the game ranked #1 and were an offensive juggernaut. A mad comeback against George Perles' Spartans was in the cards until the no call on pass interference on an attempted two-point conversion that would have given Michigan the lead with under a minute to go. I'm still waiting for the flag to be thrown. The polls didn't reflect the injustice. The following week Michigan was #10

But I think all college football fans deserve an apology for the worst act by an officiating crew of all time: Colorado's fifth down in 1990. This wasn't a judgment call of a play in action subject to different interpretations. This wasn't a case of a refereee not being in position to see everything that a different camera angle caught. This was something the referees clearly screwed up, should have fixed, and certainly should have apologized for. Of course, some of the blame can be placed on Missouri coach Bob Stull who should have run on the field with his pants around his ankles if he had to to get the attention of the refs. The polls SHOULD have reflected this gaffe - this really should have been considered a loss in the eyes of the voters. But it wasn't - Colorado fell just two spots after the loss. And because of that failure of the refs and the polls CU has the most tainted national title ever.

You're The One For Me, Fatty

I know he's fat.

True, he vacuums confidence from me everytime he crosses himself just prior to the snap.

And how he missed that chip shot against Sparty last year--almost costing us the game--I'll never know.

But I post here today to praise Michigan kicker Garrett Rivas.

As the Wolverines head to the site of his greatest accomplishment--capping Michigan's best ever comeback in a 38-35 win at the Metrodome in 2003--I think our chunky PK deserves some love. He has connected on 8 of his 9 field goal attempts this year, including a couple of momentum-keepers against Notre Dame.

So sure it's fun to make fun of him. And yes, I am nervous whenever he approaches the ball. But to Garrett Rivas I say, "Thanks. Keep up the great work!"

Hail to the Soccer Moms?

What the hell is going on with Michigan's cheerleaders?

As many of you commented and even more noticed, they were dressed last Saturday like they were going to a PTA meeting. Look, we're not advocating they dress like Laker girls but could they at least dress like, I dunno, cheerleaders?

Doubt us? Check out this picture and you tell me.

You half expected to see the Michigan cheerleader getting out of a minivan followed by her twin children, Oliver and Samantha. I mean come on! When did our cheerleading squad strike a clothing deal with the LPGA?!

Even more aggravating about our cheerleaders is they way they "fire up" the home crowd. Yes, they hold up signs that say "NOISE" but, for some reason I can't understand, they also still hold up "KEY PLAY" signs when the visiting team has the ball during crucial moments. Needless to say, this encourages Michigan fans to reach into their pockets, pull forth their house and car keys, only to jangle them in such a way that is as about as loud as...keys being jangled.

C'mon, guys. You can do better. Your reason for being there is to support the team. Hell, in the bio of the cheerleading coach, Pam St. John, it says, "The main focus of the program is to support the athletic teams at the University of Michigan." Well, a good way to do that is to make the stadium LOUD. Someone told me that, during the game, Coach Carr motioned for the crowd to make noise. If this is true, the cheerleaders should be embarrased and cancel their pot luck mixer after the next Girl Scout meeting.

If you watched the game on TV, the announcers were talking about how new Wisco head coach Bret Bielema wanted to get to Michigan Stadium early so his team could take in the environment before the game. But, due to a travel delay, they weren't able to. However, former Badger head coach Barry Alvarez told his protege not to worry about The Big (Quiet) House because it's not that intimidating or loud.

I guess that should come as no surprise when you have the Ann Arbor Book Club leading the cheers.

(Thanks to O for sending us the M "cheerleader" pic)

Mexican Victors

I didn't know illegal immigration was this bad...

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Drew Sharp Watch: All Assclown All The Time

We're sure some folks outside the Metro Detroit area must have thought our Drew Sharp Watch 2006 -- in which we keep track of the Detroit Free Press columnist until he writes just one positive piece about Michigan football -- had to be a semi-joke. He couldn't really be that anti Michigan, could he? I mean, we had to be exaggerating about how unfair his coverage always is, didn't we? Because no (allegedly) professional writer could be so obviously biased.

If you thought that then, well, you simply don't know the level of assclownishness we're dealing with here.

Here we are, the season already a third of the way over, Michigan undefeated and ranked in the top 6, having already avenged two of its five losses from last season, it's defense one of the best in the nation and still Sharp has yet to write one positive piece about the Wolverines. Instead, in his "college football column" last Saturday, he again rips on Michigan.

The article was about how teams today can't simply win, they have to make a "statement" that has nothing to do with the game (at least we think that was his point because, as is typically the case with Sharp's "writing," it usually makes about as much sense a David Lynch movie). He compares such classless "statements" of today to the 1966 clash between the top two teams in the country, Michigan State and Notre Dame, which ended in a 10-10 tie -- a result for each team and college football fans across the country that was about as satisfying as a case of blue balls.

Yet Sharp holds up this game of collegiate football interruptus as the pinnacle of the sport calling it "the one and only true 'Game of the Century.'"

And just what does Sharp use as his first example of these "crass" statements being made today? Was in the Miami Hurricanes stomping on the Louisville logo (or any of the other 400 tacky 'Cane moments)? Was it Michigan State planting their flag in Irish turf last year? Was it any of the pre or post game team-on-team fights from seem to happen all too often?

Nope. None of the above.

For Drew Sharp, the example was Michigan and the Wolverine team pouring Gatorade over coach Carr after beating the second ranked team in the country on the road for their first win in South Bend since 1994 and their first opening road victory in September since 1999.

It would almost be funny if it wasn't so head-scratchingly ridiculous. Who is the Free Press sports editor and what illicit tape of him participating in some donkey show in Tijuana does Sharp have of this guy?

Does the Free Press have absolutely no journalistic integrity or pride? Apparently not. And for those of you keeping score...

DREW SHARP WATCH 2006

Articles about/mentioning Michigan football and/or Lloyd Carr - 5

Negative - 5
Positive - 0

Two Minute Drill

* Is Charlie Weis a big fat liar? According to John L. Smith he is.

* Annoyed by those ESPN Monday Night Football commercials? Well Flop over at the Cole Slaw Blog let the WWL know how he felt. And I couldn't agree more. Saturdays kick Mondays' ass seven days a week.

* Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction prisoner number A529720's booking information is online. No mention of his 2002 National Championship ring though.

* Over on College Football Index, Oklahoma President David Boren weighs in this week on the improbable ND comeback against MSU (HT: Matt)

* EDSBS was right, Paul over at GeorgiaSportsBlog did have the best line about JoePa's mid-game sprint due to "flu symptoms" during the OSU game: "JoePa Goes for Two." Classic.

* Remember the whole USC one-peat thing? I'd like to forget it. Anyway, one of the main posters around the Internet fighting against USC's share of the title has admitted that he has a problem. And though this guy was a major pain for us here, I wish him the best in his personal battle (luckily I wrote this. Yost wouldn't have been so forgiving).

Monday

Can you believe that the season is already a third of the way over? Doesn't seem possible. College football fans wait all year and - poof! - it goes so quickly.

Well, at the 1/3 mark today, we have the following in store for your viewing pleasure...

* Where's JoePa?
* The new MZone Top 25 is out
* Two Minute Drill

Also, if anybody TiVo'd the Michigan-Wisco game and can send us stills (or upload video to YouTube) of the various shots of the crowd doing the "key play" cheer or our new LPGA-dressed cheerleaders, it would be most appreciated.

Thanks for reading.

Where's JoePa?

During the Nittany Lions' 28-6 loss to OSU Saturday, Penn State coach Joe Paterno showed off his 8.3 speed when, midway through the second quarter, he sprinted across the field to the locker room and didn't return until the fourth because he had to take a monster shit was suffering from the flu.

When reporters pressed for details after the game, Paterno got testy and said, "Guys, can we talk about the game? Are you guys writing for a medical journal?"

Thus, in a variation on our usual caption contest, we ask MZone readers to tell us where they think JoePa went during for those two quarters.

Monday, September 25, 2006

MZone Top 25

Let me start by admitting I didn't see a lot of games Saturday. I was in Vegas getting drunk, gambling and going to strip clubs doing the Lord's work. I saw the Michigan game and then bits and pieces of OSU-Penn St, MSU-ND, Florida-Kentucky, WVU-ECU and Georgia-Colorado. However, I did see much more of Savannah, Porsche and Crystal.

And as Benny noted over the weekend, for many in the Top 25, it truly was Suck-ola Saturday as good number of them struggled.

A couple of thoughts before we get to the poll:

* Georgia laid a big egg. From what I saw (and then the highlights), they were lucky to escape with a 1 point win at home against a team that lost to a crappy 1-AA school! Thank goodness they play another 1-AA school this weekend in Ole Miss.

* When are AP poll voters going to realize that the only reason West Virginia is so highly ranked this year is because they beat Georgia last year? It certainly can't have anything to do with what they've seen on the field this season, does it? Sure, I know squeaking past 1-3 ECU is impressive but c'mon.

* What a devastating loss for MSU. I can't believe they let this one slip away, and it was their star player, Drew Stanton, who cost them the game with two costly turnovers in the final six minutes (with a third "thrown in" for good measure as they were driving to tie the game at the end). As I read somewhere else, if games ended at halftime, John L. Smith would be Knute Rockne. Props to Notre Dame for coming back, but for a team allegedly wanting to prove the Michigan game was a fluke, they certainly looked terrible until Stanton decided he wanted to be on ESPN Classic for the rest of his life.

* Putting a team in the last couple slots is almost like pulling names out of a hat. Look at some of the "Others Receiving votes" (or the lower ranked teams) in the AP and check out who they beat. Texas A&M? They beat Army, the Citadel and two Louisiana schools with a lot of qualifying information after their state name.

Then there's 4-0 Wake Forest. They've taken down Syracuse, Duke, UConn and Ole Miss...a fantastic achievement if this were college basketball. Killer RPI, guys.

Anyhoo, here's what we have for this week's Blogpoll at MGoBlog. Let us know your thoughts.

RankTeamDelta
1Ohio State--
2Southern Cal--
3Auburn--
4Florida--
5Michigan--
6Louisville 1
7Louisiana State 1
8Texas 1
9Oregon 1
10Georgia 4
11West Virginia--
12Iowa 1
13Notre Dame 1
14Tennessee--
15Cal 2
16Virginia Tech 1
17Oklahoma 4
18TCU 1
19Missouri 6
20Rutgers 2
21Nebraska 5
22Boise State 4
23Clemson 3
24Michigan State--
25Washington 1





Dropped Out: Arizona State (#16), Alabama (#20), Boston College (#23).

Two Minute Drill

* Like a high school cheerleader suddenly concerned about her reputation after sleeping with the entire basketball team, Ohio State is urging its supporters to become the "Best Damn Firestarters Fans in the Land in a new initiative encouraging law-abiding fans to keep watch over troublemakers and alert authorities quickly if there are problems. The school even produced a couple videos to drive the point home.

According to AD Gene Smith, "We're really only talking about 1 percent that we're trying to get to."

Exactly. Just 1%. Or 84%. But somewhere in that neighborhood.

(HT: DW)

* The team was all excited. North Carolina Central had just beaten Southern University 27-20. They go into the lockeroom to celebrate...only to find out that they had all their stuff stolen. Turns out somebody took their wallets, electronic gear and various other items during the game.

* Last year Sparty, after defeating Notre Dame, planted their flag on the ND field. At the 35 yard line. So last night, after blowing a game for the ages, a few members of the Spartan team decided to defend the honor of Spartan Stadium. Sorry guys, any honor that might have been there disappeared a year ago after your flag plant.



HT: Andy

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Struggle-ation Saturday

Though there were no major upsets on Saturday there were several close calls.

* Georgia needed two late TD passes from Joe Cox - who started the season as the third-string QB - to rally past Colorado who has now lost eight straight games.

* tOSU trailed at halftime to Penn State, and didn't put the game away until they returned two interceptions for TDs with under three minutes to go. But the story of the game was Joe Paterno running across the field before a Penn State punt in the second quarter to go to the locker room to....take a dump. He was suffering from "flu-like symptoms" and returned to the latrine in the third quarter. With the horrible play of his QB Anthony Morelli, I'm sure JoePa not only had the shits after the game, he probably puked too.

* USC led Arizona only 3-0 at halftime and only 10-0 into the fourth before pulling away to win 20-3.

* Florida showed serious letdown symptoms after their big win last week against Tennesse. The Gators led Kentucky only 12-7 midway through the 3rd before winning at home 26-7.

* Va Tech trailed Cincinnati 13-12 going into the fourth quarter at home, but won 29-13.

* Michigan, West Virginia, and Boise State all had their wins in doubt well into the second half.

* But the biggest struggle happened in the best game of the week. Notre Dame scored three fourth-quarter touchdowns to rally past Michigan State and win 40-37. This was a fantastic game. Both teams returned an interception for a TD. Both teams missed a PAT. The teams fought on the ND sideline. There was a driving rainstorm during the second half. Sparty went up 14-0, led by 17 at the half, and 16 midway through the fourth quarter. Then, to top it off, ND made a most improbable interception with 24 seconds left and Sparty driving into FG range.

Can Sparty recover from this absolute debacle? I don't know that I've ever seen such a stunned and saddened crowd like the one in East Lansing. It only strengthened Sparty's reputation for blowing games like this. On the post-game show on ESPN, Desmond Howard said "Only Michigan State could lose a game like that," after saying that he expected it to happen. Even Chris Fowler piled on by saying "That's why you're Michigan State."

Also, do you feel sorry for Sparty? Yost, who's in Vegas for a bachelor party, literally left a strip club to call me for an update on the game. I was stunned to hear that he felt sorry for Sparty. More stunned than when he told me he left a strip club. I'm sorry, I can't feel sorry for Sparty. If this was Purdue, sure. But not Sparty. Though Michigan dominates the series with them, they've won too many times under suspicious circumstances against the Wolverines for me to feel sorry for them. And I can't fight nature - this game was just a perfect example of Sparty being Sparty.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Michigan 27, Wisconsin 13 - Stressful, but as expected

This post would have been a lot different if I'd written it at halftime. The defense let the Badgers score easily on their first drive. The offense tuned it over early and had about 5 straight three and outs to end the half.

But the defense was dominant in the second half, the running game got going a bit and the Wolverines completed some long passes. So the final of 27-13 is pretty much as most people expected, matching the Vegas spread of 14.

Despite that early tension, this was a good win for Michigan. The defense continues to show they're among the best in the nation. The running game needs to improve, but Wisconsin is always tough to run on. And considering that everyone in the nation was talking about a letdown for Michigan, pretty much any win here was good. This was good. Bring on the Gophers.

Some miscellaneous notes from the game:

* I know he was educated in Ohio, but I'm still surprised at Chris Spielman's inability to speak clearly. He called Arrington "Abbington", and Chad Henne "Chenny" on the same play. He also called Henne "Chad Henry" at least three times. I'm suprised he didn't call him Kenny Chesney.

* Did Spielman fart in the booth? Soon after they showed the clip from Zingerman's (God, that made me hungry) there was some silence in the booth. Then horrible play by play man Sean McDonough commented "Did you go to Zingerman's last night? Everyone in the booth thinks so."

* Was Wisconsin just frustrated or are they dirty? There were a couple of late hits and the fourth quarter leg twist of Steve Breaston. That one could result in a suspension for the Badger defender.

* I know we talk about this ad infinitum, but the crowd was horrible. And how about all those shots of the fans shaking their keys? Please, please, please, if anyone can get a screenshot of any of those key shakers, please send it to us at MichiganZone at adelphia dot net. There was one shot midway in the 2nd quarter and another with 2 minutes left in the first half.

* Was Lloyd foolish for throwing that long pass in the waning minutes, exposing Henne, or is he just playing a full four quarters?

Leave your comments on this matter, or any parts of the game.

Two Minute Drill...

To keep you occupied before kick-off, might we suggest the following...

* A group presents an alternate plan for stadium expansion, sans luxary boxes. (HT: ES)

* Texas Tech basketball coach Bobby Knight jumps into the OU/Oregon officiating controversy in his usual subtle way. (HT: JZ)

* Speaking of the Sooners, Microsoft has come out with a new Word icon for Oklahoma fans...




(HT: Mr. M)

* One more thing about Oklahoma and the refs. I swear that'll be it. Is this guy reading a ransom note? And couldn't he have turned off the TV for two minutes?


(HT: DW)

* Remember when Michigan was having problems with the turf in the Big House a few years ago? According to Buckeye Commentary, looks like the Bucks are now having some turf issues as well.

* And we have not one, but two links to The Onion, with typical clever stories regarding two subjects in the college football news.

(HT: DW - a different DW from above)

* Finally, CU football, RIP.

MZone Exclusive

BREAKING NEWS: MZone reporters, embedded deep within the Notre Dame football program, have managed to sneak out this top secret copy of head coach Charlie Weis' tape of Notre Dame highlights from last weekend's game.

Shameless Plug

First off, we want to thank the folks who've purchased t-shirts from the MZone store. Much appreciated. Since Benny and I are both risking our careers, social lives and personal relationships spending so much time running this blog, it will be nice to be able to point to a few t-shirt sales as validation for our actions when we're unemployed, single and living on the streets.

Also, if you're at a college football game this weekend and proudly sporting an MZone shirt, please take a picture and send it to us. If we get any good ones, we'll put them up next week.

(Or, if you're simply at the game and see something good/funny/strange, snap a pic or video tape it and send it our way)

If you haven't yet purchased an official MZone shirt, check out some of our latest offerings (such as the "got mzone?" tee pictured here) . And keep in mind, they make excellent Rosh Hashanah gifts. Most importantly, you're not just making a bold fashion statement, you're supporting two guys who dream of telling their bosses to go suck it someday. In addition, we have some ideas for the site that might take a little cash and, unfortunately, Benny just isn't pulling in the hours at IHOP like he used to. So stock up and help a good cause -- your daily dose of humor.

And remember, MZone gear isn't just for Michigan fans or Buckstashers as evidenced by this selection for Clemson fans...


Late addition: For those Clemson fans who might not be comfortable wearing the above shirt in front of mom, we have a G-rated version as shown below. Just be sure to select the "Real Men Don't Kick" shirt.


Thanks for reading folks!

Friday, September 22, 2006

For Sale: Buckeye Memories

If you're looking to buy some junk on eBay this weekend, you know, shit right up there with that first-issue Abba album you've been searching for or that Six Million Dollar Man MIB doll you can't live without, the MZone has stumbled across some real crap being sold on the site this weekend.

First off, former Ohio State starting tailback Lydell Ross is getting rid his 2002 National Championship players ring. With just over 2 days left, bidding is up to $6,000.

Another unnamed Buckeye is selling his 2005 "little gold pants charm." For those not familiar with it, that is the piece of jewelry Tosu players get for beating Michigan that looks like something your Aunt Phyllis would wear on her charm bracelet, tucked between the pair of dice she got in Vegas and the tchotchi she picked up on the senior citizens tour of Niagra Falls. The bidding on this "keepsake" has reached $565.

You know, folks, it's a sad day when Ohio State players have to auction their cherished memories because they can no longer rely on money from boosters anymore. Sad indeed.

Gee, maybe that sign in the Ohio State lockerroom should be updated to read, "What have you done today to beat Michigan...so you can sell the memories later on eBay?"

(HT: AR)

Know Your Foe - Wisconsin

On Saturday the Wisconsin Badgers come to Ann Arbor to kick off the Big Ten season against the Wolverines. Wisco beat Michigan last year for the first time since 1994, so revenge will be on the minds of the Wolverines against their cuter and less ferocious weasel cousins. The MZone hereby presents another installment in our award-winning series of KNOW YOUR FOE.

History – The university essentially came into being the same day the state did. The establishment of a state university was part of the state constitution in 1848. The south border of campus was Mineral Point Road which is now University Avenue. They would have scored far more points in Know Your Foe if they'd kept the original name. One of the graduates from the first graduating class was named Levi Booth. Doesn't he sound like he could be a current member of the Badger team?

Location – Madison, Wisconsin. The similarities to Ann Arbor are striking. Both are ultimate college towns. Both have a special place in the hearts of most of their alumns. Both get ranked highly in those “Best Places To Live” lists. Both are close enough to a bigger city so as to not feel isolated, but are far enough away to be cities on their own. Both lean liberal and had extremely active protests during the Vietnam War era. But Madison – at least the campus – is beautiful. They have two lakes! Kind of like Notre Dame. Of course having two lakes didn't do the Irish any good.

Nickname – Badgers. The badger is actually quite similar to a wolverine. But they're much friendlier. And they're undoubtedly cuter. When I first attended a game in Madison in 1997, I was struck by two things: one, how damn cold it was, and two, how cute Bucky Badger is. Plus, it's the only mascot that I could think of that was also a verb. That's impressive.

Colors/Logo/Cheers –Cardinal and White. Solid if not spectacular colors. The advantage is the sea of red that Camp Randall Stadium is on Saturdays. There's no question what color the fans wear. The drawback is that the colors are quite common. Nebraska, Stanford, Alabama, NC State, heck even tOSU's are similar.

Sometime after the arrival of former football coach, current athletic director, and Wisconsin savior Barry Alvarez, the Badgers changed their logo from a W sitting inside an oval to a very '90s style, "forward moving" W. Though I'm not a big fan of the logo from a style standpoint, the university's sports teams have definitely moved forward since its introduction.

The fight song, On Wisconsin is one of the classics. It's certainly in the second tier of fight songs after The Victors and Notre Dame's fight song. And it doesn't hurt that the marching band is great. Loud, entertaining and proficient. When they get the 80,000 plus fans in the stands to sing "When you say Wissssssconsin you've said it all,” it's impressive. In the past several years they've also pumped in Jump Around before the fourth quater. Now I like me some House of Pain as much as the next guy, but I see this getting dated pretty soon.

Academics – Pretty darn good, but not elite. They like to think of themselves as a "Public Ivy," but based on the kids from my high school that got in there - and couldn't get into Michigan from in-state - I'd have to put them a couple notches below Michigan. Students and alumni would likely defend their school by saying it's a great combination of being an academically strong school and a great party school. And they'd be right, at least about the last part. Wisco is consistently ranked among the top party schools in the country and most everyone who goes there loves it.

Athletics – Until the aforementioned arrival of Barry Alvarez in the early '90s, Wisconsin was a wasteland for football. But three Rose Bowl wins, and consistently tough teams under Alvarez, have completely changed the attitude in Madison. And it's spilled over into other sports, particularly basketball, where the men's team is always a Big Ten contender and has one of the toughest home courts to play on for visitors. Meanwhile, the hockey team has always been strong and not only did they win the NCAA title this year in men's hockey, but also in women's as well.

Famous alums – A solid list which includes historian Stephen Ambrose, glass artist Dale Chihuly, '70s rocker Steve Miller, novelist Joyce Carol Oates, and CNN commentator Jeff Greenfield. But Wisconsin pales compared to Michigan by boasting only one astronaut, albeit a kickass one in Jim Lovell, and they're also the alma mater of major league baseball commissioner Bud Selig. If I could take away points from them for this I would.

The Game - As expected, the Badgers put up a good fight. But in the end they're no match for the ornery, aggressive Wolverines. KNOW YOUR FOE Prediction: Michigan - 31, Wisco - 16