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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Coaches' Halloween Costumes

The MZone takes a guess at what some coaches might be wearing to the big Halloween party tonight at Chuck Amato's place.

Lloyd Carr - Michigan
Costume - Old West Gunslinger

After circling the wagons following a 7-5 season in A2 last year, Carr came out firing with guns blazing in 2006, leading his team to the cusp of greatness. This costume is also convenient because it allows Carr to re-use it and go as a member of the Village People if things don't go as well in 2007.

Joe Paterno - Penn State
Costume: Dracula

JoePa wanted to go as someone who was about his same age this year. Also, after surving all the FireJoePa.com, .net and .org sites a few years back, he's about as hard to get rid of as the Count. Besides, a guy his age always smells like garlic anyway.

Chuck Amato - N. C. State
Costume: Grim Reaper
Let's face it, hosting the party or not, Amato is "Dead Coach Walking" after yet another disappointing season in Raleigh.

Jim Tressel - THE Ohio State University
Costume: Frank N. Furter

The Horseshoe reminds us of The Rocky Horror Picture Show - people screaming and throwing shit at the screen. Plus, the costume did come with a vest...

Greg Schiano - Rutgers
Costume: Cinderella

Yes, they're 7-0, but with WVU and Louisville still to come, it's almost midnight in New Brunswick/Piscataway.

Dirk Koetter - Arizona State
Costume: Headless Horseman

Off the field, he caused a QB controversy right before the season started that was so bad one of his QBs transferred. On the field, he does things like punt against USC with less than a minute and a half left and down just seven points. As such, he's left us and many Sun Devil fans wondering if there's anything up there.

Mack Brown - Texas
Costume - "Mac Daddy"

After years of folks saying he couldn't win the big one, Mack is now the "Mac Daddy" in Austin following the Longhorns' National Title last season.

Tommy Tuberville - Auburn
Costume - Big Baby

After whining about the BCS a couple weeks ago, Tuberville's Tigers have proceeded to lose then look like shit against inferior competition.

John L. Smith - Michigan State
Costume - Turkey

Now that his team has packed it in for the year (as it usually does come October), the Spartans can be counted on to be slaughtered each and every Saturday (with the ax to fall on Smith himself in November).

Pete Carroll - USC
Costume: Stud Boy

Hey, the man played for three national titles in three years. As such, some 'SC fans might argue Pete's "costume" isn't big enough.

Charlie Weis - Notre Dame
Costume: Ballerina

Charlie proved you can dance around the fact that you haven't beaten a top team yet still get a $40M contract extention.

Well, that's it. Those are the coaches we heard were at the party. Next--

Hey! Who the fuck invited Gary Moeller?!

The Scariest Halloween Costume in Tallahassee

Halloween in Columbus

Why am I not surprised? And the best part is, they can use the candle inside to light their couches on fire.

P.S. How much you want to bet they carved "Fuck Michigan" into the other side.

(HT: LM via BuckeyePlanet)

Monday, October 30, 2006

ESPNU Holds College Football Fans Hostage as Negotiating Ploy

For Michigan fans, it might be tough to find a way to watch Michigan play Ball State this weekend. That's because the game is only being televised on ESPNU - not ESPN, not ESPN 2 and not on pay-per-view. And since ESPNU is only available on some satellite services (and not Comcast, the country's largest cable TV provider) many Michigan fans are going to be screwed.

Ohio State fans faced the same bullshit issue a few weeks ago when the Bucks played Indiana. Their game was also only on ESPNU.

And why is this happening? Why are there so few choices for college football fans to see the second ranked team in the country (or the top ranked in OSU's case)?

Well, as the linked article above explains, ESPNU bought exclusive rights so that more cable operators -- like Comcast -- will be pressured by customers to carry the station. Basically using college football fans as pawns in their negotiating tactics. Thus, Michigan fans will be forced this Saturday to go to a sports bar or simply follow on the sports ticker if they want to keep up with the Wolverines.

Or maybe not, folks.

I, your humble blogger, get ESPNU (while Benny does not). So we're feverishly working on a way that I can do live play-by-play over the Internet from my couch while I watch the game on TV. Sure, it's a crazy idea but, damnit Jim, it just might work.

Stay tuned for more details.

U-M Students: Fair-Weather Fans?

Yes, the conditions Saturday sucked for U-M's game against Northwestern (41 degrees at kickoff with a windchill of 30 and wild winds). But what do folks expect? It's late October in Michigan. Deal with it.

But apparently Michigan students can't.

The student section was only two-thirds full for the game.

WTF?! You're students, for cryin' out loud! Sack up. Your team is the #2 squad in the country. They're in the hunt for the national championship. Trust those of us who've graduated in saying this doesn't happen every year. Plus it was homecoming! So get your asses to the game and support your team!

What's that? It was cold? Rainy? Tough shit. Have you never heard of a hat, gloves or raincoat?


Hell, even coach Lloyd Carr noticed the no-shows.

"We had a pretty hearty crowd out there today," he said. "They hung around for a while, although we had some students who didn't show up -- and I want to know where they were. If it was too cold, they're not tough. They've got to toughen up."

Apparently those that didn't show wanted to be able to jangle their keys in the warmth of their dorms and apartments.


MZone Top 25

Before we get to our Blogpoll for MGoBlog, some thoughts on the weekend...

* Ohio State is hands down the best team in the country right now. They don't dick around, they just go out and take care of business.
* As stated, Michigan's victory wasn't pretty but the defense was suffocating (and to the folks who commented we were "holding back" something for Ohio State, please. Do you really think Carr wanted to play Henne all game or only be up 10-3 late in the third quarter? The sad truth is, our offense isn't the same without Manningham. In the last three games, Henne has just two TD passes after throwing 12 in the first six games).
* While USC made a valiant comeback attempt against Oregon State, they were completely outclassed for three quarters. This game could have and should have been a blowout if not for some missed opportunities by the Beavers. The Trojans were very sloppy. But with the schedule USC has left, they have a great chance to work their way back into the hunt.
* Props to Texas for coming back but once again, they danced with defeat. And Texas Tech isn't exactly a power. However, Colt McCoy continues to impress.
* Anybody else notice that since Tommy Tuberville complained about the BCS rankings, etc., his team has looked like shit? They barely beat a crap Ol' Miss team.
* Still can't tell how good Wisconsin is because the only truly good team they've played this season is Michigan (which they lost).
* Wazoo is the best 3 loss team in the country.
* Man, I loved seeing Miami lose again even with all their suspended players back.
* What the hell is wrong with FSU? A down year is one thing, but with the talent they have, they should never be losing to teams like Maryland (sorry, Terps).

1Ohio State--
3Florida 3
5California 4
6Texas 2
7Southern Cal 4
8Arkansas 5
9Auburn 4
10Louisville 3
11West Virginia 1
12Notre Dame 1
13LSU 1
14Boston College 2
15Wisconsin 2
16Rutgers 1
17Oklahoma 4
18Texas A&M--
19Boise State 1
20Clemson 8
21Virginia Tech 5
22Georgia Tech 1
23Wake Forest 1
24Washington State 1
25Oregon 1

Dropped Out: Missouri (#19), Nebraska (#22).

The 'Shoe Might Need a New Nickname

What is up with the turf at The 'Shoe? I was watching the Bucks demolish the Gophers (my God, how happy are OSU fans that they didn't get Glen Mason as their coach?) and it was like they were playing on a beach. The sod seemingly just disintegrated with each cut or run.

Michigan had the same problem a couple years ago. They tried everything to fix the grass (replacing it, I think, twice) before finally switching to Field Turf in 2003.

If the same problems continue in Columbus, looks like Ohio State may have to go the same route. Either that, or they're going to have to change the nickname of The Horseshoe to The Horseshoe Pit.

Thank you, goodnight! I'll be here all week. Enjoy Mr. Anka.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Michigan 17, NW 3...That was ugly

Well, it was a win. That's about all I can say. The defense looked great, the offense looked lost.

Couple of quick thoughts...

* Leon Hall played BIG. He was like a blanket out there. Which leads to the question...
* Why was NW attacking his side of the field that much? Wouldn't you got at Trent and the others more instead?
* I don't have confidence with Grady at RB. He puts too many on the turf.
* Breaston can be counted on to drop one or two sure first downs a game. Very frustrating.
* Good to see Jerome Jackson get a shot and play well in the 4th Q.
* If not for key 'Cat turnovers, this game might have even been closer.
* We really, really, really miss Manningham.
* Thank god for Ball State next week.

Leave your thoughts in the comments section.

Saturday Pre-Game

As you wait for the games to start...

* We'd like to welcome Hello Heisman to the blogosphere. The site is run by frequent MZone contributor Howard21.

* The Wave turns 25...and most fans still don't seem to understand it's not a cheer you do at a football game when the home team is on offense.

* Ohio State is taking the subtle approach in their Troy Smith for Heisman campaign. (HT: DW)

* Speaking of the Bucks, alum Jack Nicklaus is dotting the "i" for their homecoming game today. No word yet if he had to gain 250 pounds in order to get the honor.

* Lloyd Carr is a semifinalist for the George Munger Award (coach of the year)

Know Your Foe - Northwestern

The Wolverines close out the home portion of the Big Ten season on Saturday when they host the Northwestern Wildcats. Michigan has won 50 of the 66 meetings (there were two ties), including six of the last seven. Last year the Wolverines held down the vaunted Northwestern offense and cruised to victory in Evanston. This year, the Wildcats will try to rebound from being the victims of the biggest comeback in college football history last Saturday while Michigan looks to uphold is #2 ranking. So, with that info now behind us, once again it's time for the latest edition of the MZone's KNOW YOUR FOE.

History - Northwestern was founded in 1851 by Methodists. Though the school is non-sectarian, some religious overtones remain, including two biblical passages on its crest (along untold souls mortgaged to the Devil after allowing the former football laughingstock to play in the Rose Bowl in the mid 90s). Since the departure of the University of Chicago in 1946, Northwestern remains the only private Big Ten School. Interestingly, Northwestern and U of C almost merged in the 1930s, but the plan was killed by the Northwestern trustees. And if you think Northwestern's teams suck now, could you imagine how bad they'd be if they were combined with the University of Chicago? It would be an embarrassment that would eclipse the academic power such a school would possess. Also, why is the name Northwestern? Shouldn't it be Midwestern? Shouldn't Northwestern be in Seattle? Yes, probably, but the university's name comes from the founders' wish to serve the states of the former Northwest Territory, which included Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. They should have just called it the Big Ten Territory.

Location - Evanston, Illinois. Due to its proximity to a major metropolis, I wouldn't consider Evanston a college town, a la Ann Arbor or Madison. But there's no doubt the university has had and continues to have a major impact on the town. Hell, the village was named for Northwestern's founder, John Evans. In the 1960's, the university changed the shoreline of Evanston by dumping landfill into Lake Michigan to allow more land for campus buildings. Lately, the relationship between the village and the university has turned frosty as, per the founding charter, Northwestern does not have to pay property taxes. Ever. Sort of like actor Wesley Snipes.

And though it's not necessarily a "college town," it's still a great place to live. A lively downtown, easy access to Chicago, and a beautiful beach (when it's warm enough) make Evanston one of the more desirable and expensive suburbs of Chicago. It's also home to numerous famous people, including the Cusacks, Jeremy Piven, Charles Gibson, Donald Rumsfeld, and Eddie Vedder. Not bad for a town of about 75,000.

Nickname - Wildcats, named by a Chicago Tribune reporter in 1924 . Wow, that's original. In a conference with unique nicknames, the Wildcats stand out - and not in a good way. And not only are the nicknames in the conference unique, almost all have significance to the school or state they represent. Where else could the Hoosiers be but in Indiana? Not in St. Louis, that's for sure. But the Wildcats got their name from a newspaper story, not because there were once wildcats (or even wild cats) roaming the North Shore or anything like that. Lame.

Mascot - Willie the Wildcat is the costumed mascot for the university. The original mascot was a live bear cub named Furpaw (remember, this was before they were known as the Wildcats). But in 1923, after a losing season, the university abandoned Furpaw (as a mascot) because they believed he was bad luck. If Northwestern continued this practice of changing mascots after bad seasons, they'd be on about their 80th mascot by now.

Colors - Purple and White. A lot of people don't like purple on uniforms, but I think it looks great. Purple's not the problem with Northwestern - it's what they've done with it. They've been all over the board with their uniforms, including going with the trend in the '90s of adding black. Black and purple are not a good combination. Unfortunately, this also corresponded to the time Northwestern stopped being a laughingstock on the gridiron, so they kept the black well beyond the time it was trendy. Thankfully, the only semblance of black remaining is on their facemask and as trim. Despite this dalliance with black, purple is the identifying color of the university. Back in 1995 when the Wildcats went to the Rose Bowl (I still can't freaking believe NORTHWESTERN went to the Rose Bowl!) coach Gary Barnett proudly proclaimed "The purple's going to Pasadena."

Logo - After struggling through the '70s to find a logo, Northwestern settled on their current version in 1981 and have not changed it since. The stylized bold N is sometimes adorned with a snarling wildcat, but the N is the symbol of the university and has been the only adornment to the football helmets for 25 years. While the current N is solid, and has provided the university and its sports teams an identity for a long time, I think Northwestern made a mistake in 1967 when they went away from using this guy.

(Logo from Chris Creamer's Sports Logos Page).

Fight Song - The Northwestern fight song, Go U Northwestern, is a solid middle of the pack song for the Big Ten. Theodore Van Etten, inspired by a 20-7 victory over Indiana, wrote the song in 1912. It's pretty sad when your fight song was written because of a victory over Indiana - in football. The song was originally titled Go Northwestern Go but was changed soon after. This is one of the rare fight songs that actually references the university in the title and not some sports cheer. I guess that reflects Northwestern's academic prowess and athletic incompetence. The lyrics are quite simplistic, and they really only apply to football with "Break through that line," and "Hit 'Em Hard! Hit 'Em Low!"

In addition to the fight song, Northwestern fans enjoy other chants and cheers to occupy themselves while their team is blowing a 38 point lead. They jingle their keys before the opening kickoff, and throw marshmallows onto the field. I'm not sure whether Northwestern or Michigan originated these annoying traditions. They also like to chant "That's all right, that's OK, you'll all work for us someday," which might apply when they're playing tOSU, but not Michigan.

Academics - No surprise that Northwestern has the highest academic ranking of any Michigan opponent this year. Their law, medical, business, and journalism schools are consistently ranked near the top. The U. S. News' ranking of America's Best Colleges has NU at #14 nationally. That's the third highest ranking for a school with Division I-A football, behind only Stanford (#4) and Duke (#8). But since those schools have football in name only, I'd say Northwestern is the highest ranked I-A football school.

Despite, or maybe because of, the strenuous academic environment at NU, the students are involved in some pretty lame activities. Primal Scream has to top this list. It's held on the Sunday before finals week every quarter. Students are encouraged to lean out of their windows and scream at the top of their lungs. Maybe they need to do this since they don't get to do much cheering at sporting events.

Athletics - Northwestern was one of the founding members of the Big Ten. But they've practically stood still athletically since then. The university fields only eight men's and eleven women's Division I teams (Michigan fields 12 men's and 13 women's teams). The football team has won only one bowl game - ever - and endured a Division I-A record 34 game losing streak that was broken in 1982. The men's basketball team has NEVER appeared in the NCAA tournament, one of the few schools from a major conference to have such a distinction. Sure, Northwestern often has a decent men's swimming team, the women's lacrosse team won the first-ever national title (men's or women's) at the school a couple of years ago, and the football team is now at least sometimes competitive. But overall Northwestern athletics are, uh, not good (my polite way of saying "an embarrassment").

Famous alums - OK, so I've ripped Northwestern for their mascot and their sports teams, but I have to admit: Their alumni list is about as impressive as any in the country. When you combine a powerful academic school with one that's also strong in high profile areas such as drama and journalism, you're going to get a list with a ton of people that everyone knows. From the entertainment field you have Ann-Margaret, Zach Braff, Stephen Colbert, Cindy Crawford, Marg Helgenberger, Charlton Heston, Shelly Long, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jeri Ryan, and David Schwimmer. That's a pretty good babe quotient there too. From the business world Northwestern can claim the CEOs from Wells Fargo, Motorola, Paramount Pictures, Office Depot, and AON. Numerous journalists are NU alumni including Christine Brennan, Gregg Easterbrook, Rachel Nichols, Michael Wilbon, and Brent Musburger. The school has also produced a number of presidential election losers (William Jennings Bryan, George McGovern, and Adlai Stevenson), but no Presidents.

The Game - This could be a letdown game for Michigan. After playing most of the difficult games on the schedule, the Wolverines need to keep their concentration to arrive in Columbus undefeated. Though it won't be pretty, it'll happen. Michigan 24, Northwestern 10.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Charlie Weis: Better at Complaining than Coaching?

After squeaking past a mediocre UCLA team in South Bend, Charlie Weis went on the offensive much more strongly than his team did for most of that game against the Bruins when he complained this week about his squad dropping in the polls after the close victory.

Notre Dame was jumped by multitude of teams including Florida, Tennessee, Texas and Georgia Tech in the various rankings and Weis wasn't pleased. "One of the teams (Tennessee) that jumped us had the same game that we had. They're down, they're playing at home and they win by a field goal. Another team (Florida) that jumped us wasn't even playing. They were home eating cheeseburgers and they end up jumping us. That befuddles me," said Weis.

What befuddles me is, when will coaches learn that as soon as you start worrying about the polls instead of taking care of business on the field, your team loses focus and you often begin losing games? Just ask Tommy Tuberville. But, apparently Weis realizes that the Irish schedule is so weak the next couple of weeks, focus won't matter so it's time to bitch, bitch, bitch away.

One thing I've always respected about Lloyd Carr is, in all his years as Michigan's head coach, say what you will about the man, but I don't ever remember him playing trying to talk his team up for the benefit of some pollsters. Granted, besides this season and '97, there really wasn't a need but you get my point. I've always found such begging for votes a bit cheesey. Like that annoying, kinda-hot-but-not-hot-enough girl in high school trying her damndest to swing the Homecoming Queen vote when she's really not in the same league as the smokin' chick who transferred to your city from IHitPubertyAtElevenville in 10th grade.

And we're not the only ones talking about Charlie's whining. DJ Gallo wrote a great piece about it on ESPN.com (HT: DW) saying he's befuddled by a couple things himself, asking Charlie, "How you were able to dupe Notre Dame into giving you a 10-year contract worth nearly $40 million after starting your career 5-2 without a single win against a team that finished the season ranked in the Top 25. That's a bit befuddling. As is the fact that you are regarded as some sort of football god even though the next good team your Fighting Irish beat will be the first. In your tenure you have played three good teams (so much for the perception that Notre Dame plays a brutal schedule, huh?): USC last October, Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl and Michigan five weeks ago. You were blown out in two of those three games. But, yeah, you almost beat USC. Congratulations. Heck of a moral victory there. That's exactly why you were hired. For moral victories."


And yes, the rest of the article is just as good and brutal.

How Buckeyes Spend Time With Their Male Friends

So I find this clip below on YouTube. It's allegedly of a couple Buckeye fans writing in marker all over their passed out Notre Dame friend...

Ok, I get it. College high jinks. Until I just happen to see the video below by the same dipshits where they allegedly pulled the exact same "prank" on their "Michigan" friend the very next night, writing -- wait for it -- "Fuck Michigan" on the "drunk" friend. Har-hardy har. Hardy har-har-har.

Gee, these two "young Bucks" sure seem to like getting their guy friends drunk, whipping out the old video camera then writing all over their bodies. I'm just saying.

Michigan's Answer to OSU Video Chick

If you're a regular reader of this site, you're probably familiar with "Ohio State Video Chick" who did a sexy little dance to allegedly entice her boyfriend to come to Columbus for school. Some have called it "The Greatest Recruiting Video EVER" (ok, that was us).

In any event, as if U-M's incredible football season wasn't enough, a coed from A2 has answered in a big way and posted a recruitment video for Michigan in response.

Eat your heart out, Buckeyes!

(Big hat tip to SB for the link!)

God Bless His Cotton Pickin' Maize and Blue Heart

Twenty-five years ago today, Michigan lost a legend when the Voice of Michigan football, Bob Ufer, passed away. And while obits of the day might have listed him merely as a play-by-play guy or "football announcer," he was so much more.

Bob Ufer was a self-described "homer" who did away with the convention of the time in which sports announcers were supposed to be non-partisan. Ufer was unabashedly, over-the-top pro-Michigan and didn't care how much that came across during his broadcasts. It's what made him great and different in his day. A day before ESPN. Before the "passion" of most announcers seemed manufactured, a form of "schtick" specifically invented, not from the heart, but merely as an indentifying calling card.

Back when Ufer was on Detroit's WJR and heard heard each Saturday in the fall from "coast-to-coast, "from the coast of Lake Michigan, to the coast of Lake Erie," a team was only allowed to have just two (yes, two!) games televised a season. So a team's local radio announcer was the only way to follow one's team most Saturday afternoons. And for Michigan fans, even during those two televised games, there was no better way to follow the Wolverines than Ufer. His excitement was our excitement. His enthusiasm contagious. His pain over a last minute loss palpable. In many ways, he put a voice to that roller coaster we all go through when we cheer on our favorite team. Bob Ufer called the games like the fan in all of us would.

It's a testament to the man that even 25 years after his death, walking among the tailgates on a fall Saturday in Ann Arbor today, one can still hear classic Ufer clips blaring from car stereos. And even if you didn't grow up on Ufer nor are even a Michigan fan, you've probably heard at least one "Uferism." For instance, when ESPN's Reese Davis refers to U-M as "Meeechigan," that's Bob Ufer. The exaggerated pronunciation was a Ufer staple, his tribute to former Michigan coach Fielding H. Yost.

On October 17th, 1981, just nine days before he succumbed to cancer, Ufer called his last game as Michigan played Iowa. While most folks had only recently learned of Ufer's illness, the events that day hinted things were grave. At halftime, the band marched out on to the field and silently began to spell out "U-F-E-R." Then the press box window slid open and Ufer addressed the crowd. He said his 37 years of calling Michigan football games had been a "privilege, a pleasure, and a true labor of love." He then led the entire stadium in a chorus of The Victors and let fly with a couple honks on the Bo "George Patton" Schembechler scoring horn for the last time.

I was just a kid but I still remember being in the stadium that day, 100,000 people all staring up at the press box. Silent. Many with tears in their eyes.

All for a "football announcer."

God bless his cotton pickin' maize and blue heart.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

MZone Caption Contest

Ok, as much as it pains us to do this, this week's MZone Caption Contest comes from Benny and my visit to the Big House last weekend for the Iowa game. At halftime, we spotted the gentlemen above with the dead carcass wolverine on his head so Benny snapped a picture with his cellphone (hence the poor quality). We were unable to get a front view picture because we were laughing too hard.

Here's the caption we came up with:
The MZone was forced to issue a public apology to all Buckeye fans who wear those giant nuts on their head after seeing this guy.
Leave us your best in the comments section.