Across The Web: THE GAME

Written November 23rd, 2012 by MaliBuckeye

Against our better judgement, we invited Yost from MZone back to our clubhouse for a little give and take. We also provided a translator so he could understand the big words we asked him, and still can’t figure out how he managed to write to us in crayon and nail polish in an email.

Seriously, give the guy a follow- he’s one of the good ones, and feels as strongly about the sanctity of The Game as we do…

S.E.Grin

Gentlemen,

Thanks for having me on this week to talk about The Game – although I was cursing you with the intensity of a thousand suns as I stayed up until the wee hours finishing this after being doped up on turkey and eating whatever-the-hell the ass-awful side dish was that my Aunt Karen made for Thanksgiving (don’t worry, it’s cool:  I don’t think she reads The BBC or really gets the Internet.  Hopefully, if she is online, she’s on a f*cking cooking site).

Anyway, due to the late hour and my above-mentioned turkey coma, please excuse any typos or general “what the hell is he talking about?” stuff.

Here we go:

Topic Du Jour- Expansion. If you had five minutes with Jim Delany what would you tell him about the additions of Maryland and Rutgers? Any thoughts on future additions to the conference?

If I had 5 minutes, I’d probably spend the first four smacking the crap out of him.  For Delany and the others involved (I’m looking at you, Dave Brandon and Gene Smith) to say this has anything to do with academics, or that Maryland and Rutgers are a good “football fit,” is shameful.  This is about adding BTN to the basic cable package in the major markets of Baltimore/D.C. and New York.  Period.  It’s a horrendous, stupid, asinine, dumb, idiotic, whore-ish,  awful, terrible, dreadful, atrocious, abominable move by Delany and the conference.

Mr. Personality

And to announce this during the week of The Game is mind boggling.  Bo and Woody must be rolling over in their graves.  I wish they were still around and had 5 minutes with Delany.  This would never have happened on their watch.

As for future additions, after the clusterf*ck this week, it really doesn’t matter.  Because it has nothing to do with football anymore.  Hell, if Delany thought cable systems in England and France would add the BTN, he’d consider colleges in London and Paris then worry about teaching them American football.  Yes, I do believe what he did this week was that crass.

But other than those minor qualms, I think it was an absolutely awesome move.

Continuing that theme: It’s been speculated that the recent moves would also mean a recalibration of the divisions. Any preferences there?  What if a divisional shift meant moving The Game away from the last Saturday in November… thoughts?

If you want The Game to continue to be The Game, you have to have M*chigan and Ohio State in the same division and it must always be the last Saturday in November.  Must, must, must.  The mere chance that, due to being in different divisions, Michigan and Ohio State could play twice a season should appall both our fan bases as it dilutes the rivalry.

During the last realignment, our AD, Dave Brandon said that if M*chigan vs Ohio State once a year was great, twice would be even better.

He’s out of his mind.

There should never, ever be a chance for a mulligan when M*chigan and Ohio State play.  You either win and celebrate for a year, or lose and have to wait a year for your shot at redemption.  That is what makes The Game…The Game!  It’s not The GameS, fergodssake!  You think The Ten Year War would have been the same if it was just the The Ten Year Warm-Up Act or The Ten Year Practice Run?  

Suppose M*chigan had defeated Nebraska this season and had already locked up the Legends Division, and suppose OSU wasn’t on probation and was 10-1, with no shot at the BCS, but had locked up the Leaders Division.  In a situation like that, The Game becomes not much different than a Week 16 NFL game in which both teams have locked up their playoff spot.  Why show the other team your best plays when the B1G Ttitle Game in Indy the following week is the one that “counts?”  Why risk injury to your star players for the “warm-up” game?

As for why the game needs to be last, first of all, M*chigan vs Ohio State is the face of the Big Ten.  It’s still The Game and involves the two teams everyone associates with the conference (especially now that they’ll need a damn atlas).  So it only makes sense for your best to be last.  Second, on a rivalry level, each fan base should want to have to face its biggest rival to attain its greatest goals.  Who would Buckeye fans rather face to try to finish off an undefeated season?  And that goes both ways: if Iowa should upset Nebraska, M*chigan should have to get past its most hated rival to get to the B1G Title Game.  So The Game should always be at the end of the season.

What are your thoughts on Dave Brandon, particularly his efforts to market UM Athletics (for better or for worse)?  Do you have any suggestions for getting students to actually show up to your games?

As you can probably guess by some of my answers to the previous questions, I’m not a huge fan.  Sometimes it seems he’s only about the almighty dollar.  Look, I’m not naive.  I know what drives major college football these days.  And a big time school has a big time budget.  But Brandon often seems to still be in pizza peddler mode rather than acting as a man entrusted with carrying on the great tradition – key word: tradition – of M*chigan football.

Tradition

If we were a program swimming in red ink or having a hard time selling tickets/U-M merchandise, then, yeah, I get trying to spice things up with moves more suited for an Amway salesman.  But we were doing pretty darn well before he arrived.  And many of his moves (enough with the legacy/throwback/PICK A NAME jerseys!) feel like crass attempts at squeezing fans out of a few more dollars.

Regarding the empty seas in the student section, there was an article on that recently in one of the Detroit papers which pointed out that it’s not just a M*chigan problem.  It’s something that’s happening across the country and I know Gerd has mentioned it several times in reference to the ‘Shoe as well.  In the article, Brandon and other ADs say the root of the problem is due to more entertainment choices today for students and “early” start times – with “early” being defined as noon.

But I don’t think that’s the problem.

I believe to fill up the student section, at least in M*chigan’s case, U-M has to stop making it so hard for students to sell their student tickets.  It’s just a fact of life that each week a certain percentage of students aren’t going to be able to make it the game due to a variety of reasons: illness, travel, family situation, wedding, holiday, or, heck, they just don’t want to go now.  Same for the non-student section ticket holders.  It happens.  Talk to any friend who’s gotten married: while they may have received 200 RSVPs, I promise you all 200 didn’t show (even if the bride and groom did already pay for their chicken dinner).  And these were family and friends coming to a wedding!  Now multiply that standard “no show” percentage for a football stadium.  Point is, it happens.

But while the non-student ticket holders can simply sell or give away their tickets, students have to get them “validated.”  This extra hassle, in my opinion, probably makes some students simply eat the tickets.  Look the school already got the 1/2 price student admission for the tickets.  Better to have somebody in the seat to buy the overpriced food and paraphernalia than to have it go empty.  Will some students simply buy student tickets to sell them?  Of course.  But I think the number is low and there are ways to weed them out if they don’t personally use their tickets for X games in a season.

There were enormous expectations coming into the season- What is the general feel of the fan base about the coaching job Hoke and staff has done this year?

Stylin'

First off, I think M*chigan’s pre-season ranking of #8 was too high.  I think everybody saw the skill players we had coming back (Denard and Fitz) and turned a blind eye to the less glamorous personnel losses.

Before the season, I told a friend that I thought M*chigan would have a worse record this year but be a better team.  I still believe that’s true.  Our losses were to the #1, #2 and #15 teams in the country.  In the case of ND, Denard had the worst game of his entire M*chigan career, turning the ball over 5 times, and yet M*chigan still only lost by 7 on the road with a chance late in the 4th.  Against Nebraska, I felt very confident going into that game but then Denard got hurt (of course I, like all M*chigan fans, only wish Hoke had put Devin in).  Bottom line, I think 8-3 is about where we belong record-wise as we (thankfully) transition from The Days of Which We No Longer Speak to the Hoke Era.

So I think Hoke and his staff are doing an outstanding job.  The recruiting is fantastic and he (and his staff) are coaching up the players.  I mean, this is the same defense that two years ago under Rich Rod was the worst defense in the HISTORY of M*chigan football.  Now, with many of the same players, it’s one of the best in the country.  That’s not because some sudden talent upgrade but rather a coaching one.

Plus, as I think any Buckeye fan will agree, he “gets” The Game in a way Rich Rod never did.  Right, Ohio?

How huge would it be for Hoke and this Rivalry if TTUN wins? How are you feeling about the Rivalry given the new coaching configurations over the past two seasons?

I think it’s actually more important for M*chigan to win The Game this year than Ohio State.  If the Bucks win, M*chigan’s victory last year – at home against one of the weaker teams in recent OSU memory – will feel like an aberration.  A one-off to the streak* started under The Vest*.  But if M*chigan can come into the Shoe and defeat Urban’s undefeated team, then I think we could be one step closer to a new Ten Year War.  Because (unfortunately), I don’t see U-M running off a Cooper-esque string of victories in a row against Urban.

As for the coaching, while even some M*chigan fans were unsure of the Hoke hire, he’s turned out to be a darn good coach who really gets The Game.  And what can you say about Urban Meyer?  He’s one of the best coaches in the country and gets the rivalry the same way Hoke does.  Plus, I – and most M*chigan fans – can’t stand him — which is exactly as it should be.

If Denard Robinson does not play QB for the Wolverines this weekend, what will be your thoughts on the sum total of his career for the Sun and Blue?

I’m disappointed that it looks as if Denard won’t win a B1G title, but not as a comment on his talent but for him personally.  I think even OSU fans would agree that Denard defined “team first” and class.  He shattered just about every M*chigan QB record (and many NCAA ones to boot).  He owns the top 8 single game all-purpose yardage marks in the history of M*chigan football.  Not 8 out of 10 but ALL TOP EIGHT.  And he did it while playing his first two years mired in the chaos-then-sinking-ship of the Rich Rod Error and then his junior year in the transition to Brady Hoke/Al Borges.  So for some to “blame” Denard for not doing more without taking into consideration the bigger issues Michigan faced while he was here is, I believe, very unfair.  He will go down as one of the great M*chigan QBs of all time.  And deservedly so.

How big of a loss is Toussiant coming into The Game? Any updates on his recovery- will he be ready for the bowl game? (thinks of bowl game, weeps quietly)

I think it’s a huge loss, especially since it looks like both Denard and Devin will be in M*chigan’s backfield tomorrow.  To have also had Fitz in the backfield would have been a big extra weapon for Mi*chigan, one that won’t be filled by his back-ups.   While Fitz obviously didn’t have the numbers of 2011 this year, a lot of that fault lies with M*chigan’s offensive line (now it’s my turn to weep quietly).  But with Denard and Devin back there, I feel Fitz would have found a lot of room to run that hasn’t been there during the season when M*chigan ran “obvious” running plays.

As for his recovery, I heard the type of break he suffered requires a 40 week rehab.  It was a brutal injury and he won’t be back until right before next season.  Forget football, I just hope he’s okay.

What was your favorite edition of The Game?  Least Favorite? The one you still have nightmares about?

This is going to sound like a cop out, but every one M*chigan wins is one of my favorite, and every loss still pains me.  I’m not kidding and I bet many of your Buckeye readers feel the same.  That’s just another thing that makes The Game so special.  But if you’re forcing me to name names:

Favorite: Has to be 1997.  M*chigan was #1, OSU was #4.  M*chigan was trying to win it’s first NC in many years, the Bucks were trying to ruin M*chigan’s undefeated season as Michigan had done to them in ’95 and ’96.  Best of all, I was there.

Morgan Trent. How We Love Thee

Honorable Mentions:  Speaking of ’95 and ’96…

Least Favorite: 2006.  #1 vs #2 for the first time ever.  Bo dying the day before The Game.  That loss left a mark (and this game is also a perfect example of why M/OSU should be in the same division – because this edition of The Game would not still sting today had M*chigan received a “mulligan” and gotten a rematch to play OSU again in the BCS title game.  It would have rendered the 2006 regular season game nothing but a footnote).

Dishonorable Mentions: 2001, Tressel’s first year that cost us the Rose Bowl and every other Tressel victory*

I’d like to close by saying thanks for having me.  I genuinely do enjoy good-natured  back-and-forth with you guys.  That’s what The Game – the greatest rivalry in all of college football! – is about.  And you guys give as good as you get.  So if we at the MZone dish it out, we have to be prepared to take some shots as well.

Okay, this is probably where I’m supposed to wish you guys and your team best of luck tomorrow – but screw that.  That’s not The Game.  This is The Game:

GO BLUE! BEAT OHIO!

Yost

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