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NFL17 Pre-Play: Nobody Bullied the Beav and No One Needles the NFL, Kaep Krew

9 Aug

If you’re an NFL fan or root for Colin Kaepernick, not always mutually exclusive mental states, and feed those foibles by perusing online sport sites, you’ll know it has become common in recent years for certain players to have developed a cult-like following amongst the media, junior scribes, in particular. Individually, five names have received more press than probably every player combined, excepting Broadway Joe, of course, since the National went on-wire in 1920:

1) Johnny Manziel
2) Tim Tebow
3) Michael Sam
4) Colin Kaepernick
5) Richard Sherman

At this posting only one of the five, Sherman, has a job with our nation’s new national pastime (When a home run derby is your showcase event of the season, there’s big trouble) and soon to become international funfest (See; London).

Of the other four, it’s possible Manziel and Kaepernick could get a call for a 2017 quarterback tryout as injuries begin to mount in the League on commencement of training camps and contact. But that’s becoming more doubtful as the recent rapid-signing in Miami of free-agent QB Jay Cutler and longer-than-expected list of somewhat suspect number (#) ones (Kessler (CLE), McCown (NYJ), Hoyer (SF), Taylor (BUF), Glennon (CHI), Siemian (DEN), Savage (HOU)) penciled-in for 2017 strongly suggests about both their desirability.

For Tebow, who last played with the Jets in 2012, the chance of an NFL return is nearly nil. Tim’s rather particular (prideful), shunning CFL and tight-end talk, a spot for which he was tailor-made. Same holds true for Sam (nil) who never made a roster after being drafted late in 2014 (7 / 249), having two tryouts (STL / DAL), an invite to a combine and a brief suit-up with Montreal (CFL). Mike does, for some reason, have his own page at PFR.com, sans the Alouettes.

None of those deactivated states has stopped certain media from alternatively appeasing (groupies) or depressing (fans of sport) readers with a steady stream of stories seemingly designed to persuade, cajole or bully the League, its owners and neutral fans into giving three of the four another shot at the big time.

But “Eddie Haskell” couldn’t bully “Beaver Cleaver,” Reid & Pelosi couldn’t bully Dan Snyder, his Washington Redskins and the American Indian rank & file (See; WP “9 of 10” poll (2016)) and nobody bullies the NFL to decide who it hires and who it doesn’t. An exception: Ray Rice and women’s advocacy. The ex-Raven’s rehab appears real but his stigma sticks: Video is video, thanks to TMZ (ugh).

If you think that’s a poor analogy, then you never knew Leave It to Beaver (1957-63). It’s impact on Americana made Vince Lombardi’s power sweep look almost happenstance. And if you don’t know the sweep (Kramer – Gregg) you’d best bone up. Start in State of Ohio, then find George Halas (IL) and go from there.

Michael Sam

When Sam told the nation of his homosexual orientation just prior to the 2014 NFL draft, likely hoping to forestall his stock drop to a level so low he feared being undrafted entirely, his act was lauded by captured media as socially significant. It might have been more accurately called a self-serving act of leverage. A League that would appear unwelcoming to the first openly gay pro football player, college skill-set aside, might suffer a consumer backlash, so the Suits & Skirts may’ve thunk. Sam gets the call late from a Rams club seeking a re-location vote, then a tryout from affable Jerry Jones who is always looking for new renters (AT&T). The NFL looked open-minded, Sam got his cup o’ Gatorade® and everybody felt a little cheated.

Colin Kaepernick

Sherman recently claimed Kaepernick is being blackballed on his race. But that won’t fly. The NFL’s composition is overwhelmingly African-American. Others claim jingoism is motivating CK’s critics, arising from what appeared an anthem protest on police brutality, suspiciously timed as the former 49er’s starter-string in San Francisco looked to’ve run out. But America was born on protest (Stamp Act 1765). Refusing to stand at attention for the flag ceremony is disfavored but not necessarily offensive to most citizens of these United States. What owners may’ve found abhorrent (Tuesday nite ESPN reports Giants’ owner John Mara likes the Milwaukee-native to suit-up somewhere in the NFL for 2017) were Colin’s racist white pig socks. It doesn’t have to be a forgiveable act but until Kaepernick takes responsibility, even a re-signing won’t make him legitimate.

What if nobody comes calling from the NFL, where does Colin go from there? Oprah? That’d be nice, for him, when he and his co-author get a book done (I don’t know Dick’s writing skills but he does like a by-line (See; SI.com)). And believing in something (faith) is not enough. Wisdom, and no small amount of courage, do both matter. Protest can be passionate, or it can be theater if it lacks heart & soul (truth). And he can forget about autograph shows, they’re pro-diversity and patriotic, but the NBA célébrité will always be welcoming.

John Manziel

Johnny Football: He never did earn that moniker. Jon thought talent was the trick. So did Todd Marinovich, “Robo-QB.” He could matriculate in a typhoon but made drugs his love. Manziel could’ve been the greatest college quarterback in history but made booze his squeeze. We don’t really know anything’s changed at this posting. For a run-QB who never learned to take hits in the pocket, THE pro skill, Johnny Skittles can’t afford to have fun being stupid any longer. Like Colin, Jon never respected the game, or the business. That won’t be tolerated, not by owners, players, coaches, real fans or the almighty Sponsors.

Tim Tebow

It’s curious, Tim may be the only NFL signal-caller to have, in his one near-full campaign under center (2014 Denver), compiled a better than .500 record (7-4), led the most captivating team win-streak in recent memory (6-0), won a road playoff game (@ Pittsburgh) on a GWD touchdown strike, yet, the next season, be ungraciously traded away (Jets) where, for one season, he finished his brief career in a non-QB job as a decoy flanker-back (?). Curious, indeed.

Tebow’s fandom is still vast, kept current with his baseball venture in the Mets minors, one most likely to end in the same fashion to that of his pro football career when (if) on promotion he meets that “wicked” major league curveball, known to derail & dash many a career (See; Bull Durham (88)).

Most scribes never did subscribe to the Book of Timbo, hence, never did promote his cause for return. Bart Simpson just won’t rock to Christian hip-hop. Like all run-QBs, Tim’s skill-set proved limited (47.9 C%). But other wily field generals have too relied heavily on stoking emotional fires to wins & careers, Billy Kilmer comes to mind (1967: 10g, 47.5%, 0-4, 6t-11i (16y)), and Tim, had he been NFL retained, would’ve most likely seen his skill-set progress at least in the manner of fellow flashman CK: Never top tier (Brady / Moon) but a sufficiency to roster. And then nobody put fans in the seats, stadium and home, like Tebow did. The reality for the NFL is that flash-QB, with all his shortcomings (rabbit, RIF-fail), is here to stay, given his popularity in college by great success (titles / Heismans) and facilitator of coach-lite: Just give the Kid the ball and count the wins.

Steven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo Credit: NFL-wikiproject, Ixnay-Beao; C.Kaepernick, wc.cca, 10.27.13, D.Hartwig; M.Sam, wc, ED.Drost, 8.23.14; Starlito-T.Tebow-L.Garrett, wc, 11.1.12; J.Manziel, Kyle-Field, wc, shutterbug459, 10.20.12; J.Marshall, Topps, 1970.
Posted: 8.9.17 @ 12:39a EST, edit 8.10; Copyright © 2017

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NCAAF16: Bad Karma Behind the Brian Kelly – Notre Dame Blues?

22 Nov

Karmic Backlash

It’s become standard operating procedure today for many in the mainstream and social media, that when a public figure makes a misstep or puts them self too far ahead of interested others, that judgment is passed quickly and with teeth.

So when current Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly bid his then employer the University of Cincinnati an unexpected sayonara in December of 2009 before conclusion of their football campaign (Sugar Bowl), one would’ve expected his dubious departure to’ve received the same testy treatment.

kelly-wc-j-meier-7-25-12-356kInstead, sport observers turned a collective blind eye to the move: No big deal.

Why the kid gloves then for Kelly and his new employer, the University of Notre Dame? South Bend clout? Chicago clout? Boston clout? Catholic clout? The Pope’s a powerful pontiff. No lo sé.

When Kelly, who, on taking the job in northwest Indiana, was in his 3rd season with the Bearcats (‘06 (1) – 09), a tenure that began when he left C. Michigan to take the reins from Mark Dantonio (MSU) to coach UC in the International Bowl and compiled a 33-6 mark, undertook in-season negotiations with ND to fill the void created by Charlie Weis’ firing and left Cincinnati (#3) before their Sugar Bowl (UF), this observer expected negative reverberations for the opportunistic act. But outside of maybe southwest Ohio, nary a peep was heard from sporting types on what could be termed, at best, exploitive, at worst, unethical behavior on Brian’s part who apparently lets nothing so trifling as loyalty and spirit-of-contract stand in the way of what looks to be the perfect job (cha-ching!).

In fairness to the Everett, Massachusetts native (10.25.61), the slightly seamy game of coaching musical chairs has become as standard of a practice in college football as has that rush to judgment in the world of scribblers & gossips.

Nevertheless, Brian Kelly and his Notre Dame cohorts might now be getting their comeuppance for their crass contract play some seven years back. Maybe Mark Dantonio and his Michigan State handlers, too (MSU 3 -8 (2016)).

notredame-logo-wc-nduBut not from mainstreamers and social gadflies. Uh uh. The media are as captured and compliant as an FDA new drug approval committee. Eek.

Rather, Kelly might be getting his just deserts from the Sporting Gods, those spirited entities in charge of that immeasurable force called karma. In his case, bad karma. Specifically, the karmic backlash.

As of last Saturday’s contest, a 34-31 loss to Virginia Tech, his record with the Fighting Irish stands at a modest 59-30 (.662), 3-3 in bowl action. Brian did as early as his third season get the green & gold to a BCS title game (12-1), then got steam-rolled by the Crimson Tide, 42-14. Since then it’s been fair-to-middling.

“Was you ever bit by a dead bee?”

Last January Notre Dame and Brian Kelly inked a 6-year extension. While other terms such as salary were not made available, the coach’s haul is estimated to be $4 million a year (coacheshotseat.com).

AD Jack Swarbrick (2008), Trustee Chair John Brennan and Board members chose to re-invest in Kelly in a signing just weeks after the team took another PS shellacking, this time in the BattleFrog Fiesta Bowl from the team coached by the other half of the two-coach dominated FBS system, the Ohio State Buckeyes and Urban Meyer, 44-28 (See Also: Saban (CBK: Krzyzewski & Calipari)).

Their basis: Swarbrick cited the word “foundation” and it having been laid with knowing care by Brian Kelly in key facets of a strong college football enterprise.

Also factoring into their decision may’ve been the fact that his coach’s win-% (.705 (55-23 thru 2015)) ranks better than Weis, Willingham, Davies and Faust, all four who came in just above or below the .550 mark. Terrific.

notredamestadium-wc-1930-bpl-tichnor-3mBut “foundation” and ‘better than Charlie, Ty, Bob & Gerry’ ain’t gonna’ cut it when it’s Notre Dame football, where Rockne, Layden, Leahy, Parseghian, Devine & Holtz forged a standard that became bigger than life, a regal reputation admired by sport fans from coast to coast.

Like Dallas (1996) in the NFL, the Fighting Irish are still top dog nationally. When they do well, the world seems right with money-makers and fans alike. But with Nick and Urban building legendary programs in their respective schools, that top spot gets more tenuous with every season sans national title #16, the last coming as far back as 1988 (Holtz), the longest drought since Knute arrived (1918).

With the Irish falling at home to Virginia Tech their 2016 record sinks to 4-7.

The Irish had five players go pro after post-2015, but all the top factories lose most of their rated workforce to the NFL draft come declaration day. Michigan, Ohio State, Alabama, Washington, PSU, they all cope with the talent drain.

Brian Kelly represents that growing element in college sport where personal opportunity becomes the “foundation” of that individual’s coaching career, ergo the Cincinnati play. Coaching legend Larry Brown is their poster-boy. And it’s a mind-set that always has an eye open for NFL possibilities (BK- Eagles 2012).

Notre Dame Trustees would be wise to adopt a similar approach. Re-read its football coach and athletic director contracts, in good faith, but in a light most favorable to its University and in perpetuating its champions legacy. Then, when they find their new candidates, make them reasonably generous offers but only AFTER the college football season ends. Oy vey.

macroecono-lamcasinoroyal-2011-wcSteven Keys
MacroSport
Photo credit: B.Kelly, wc.cca, 9.171.2, Andyohsbass09; Kelly, wc, J.Meier, 7.25.12; ND-logo, wc, UND; ND-Stadium, wc, BPL, TichnorBros, 1930; macroecono, lamcasinoroyal, wc, 2011
Posted: 11.22.16 @ 3:17pm, edit @ 5:17 EST; Copyright © 2016

NFL16 Cherry Picks W6: ‘Dr. (Dart) or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying & Love the (Pocket)’

13 Oct

Rabbit Test

With most amateur coaches today nixing the quarterback model that’s play-oriented, teaching intensive and preparatory for pro-style pocket-passer, opting instead for Coach-Lite®, i.e., chisel on the job specs in relying on the make-it-up-as-you-go run-QB to execute his mini-playbook and whatever offensive scheme there is, NFL inventories on savvy signal-callers have dwindled to a dangerously low level not seen since the pre-Otto Graham days (1930s) when single-wing tailbacks were running wild.

Think of a car-pool analogy: NFL Coach and the cufflinks are cruising along at a pretty good clip, having just stuffed at a nearby Golden Corral® (“How’s the fricassee?“), window cracked to air-out the Cuban cigar smoke and the QB-fuel light begins to blink. A warning they’d better pull over soon for some field general premium to fill a current or anticipated void created when their well-decorated QB (Brady, Big Ben, Brees, etc.) soon hangs up his cleats for retirement to slide into that gig at Disney or NFLN (ugh).

Fuel options:

1) Run-QB ethyl

Supplies are endless. Disclaimers: 1) This grade needs miles on the meter before engine knock smooths, aka, a project, and 2) other grades (ball-handlers) must subjugate their need for possession counts which will be impacted downward (ball-hog QB) with correlating drop in team morale.

Flash-QB’s been changing the football landscape since Mike Vick tore up the turf in Atlanta in 2001 and then helped feed the Cheese-eaters their first ever home – playoff loss (1.4.03 (27 -7)).

newton-9-28-14-668k-wc-k-allisonKaep Krusader ran wild over that same Green Bay tundra (Vince was spinning) in two playoffs, getting San Fran to the cusp in SB47, but only after the lights came back on to swing momentum. Yet when it appeared Ravens collapse-for-the-ages would be realized in game‘s final moments, Colin got the “red-zone blues.”

Camster-the-Hamster took the 2015 MVP and his Cats to their 2d Super Bowl, cruising through a pedestrian NFC playoff field, then proceeded to lay an egg in the big game (0 TDs) in falling to the Broncos in Peyton Manning’s finale.

Lacking advanced field comprehension and wherewithal (hit-takes), run-QB (8-10 attempts per) will never be a great one, not unless flash becomes omnipresent.

Flash-QB will one day hoist a Lombardi. Supply makes it a certainty (Wilson’s a mobile-manager who left the pocket just three (3) runs en route to SB48 win (v DEN)). But it’ll have to come against a title opponent who scores lite with a D that can’t stop the scamper. How such a foe makes it to February is hard to imagine but then NFL’s road to a title is an E-ZPass® highway, i.e., two wins, you’re in.

2) Defense high octane

Instead of digesting the QB-lemons Drafts keep serving, it’s time for NFL teams to start dictating their own agenda, shape their own destiny and turn sour citrus (run-QB Ltd.) into sweet lemonade (WRs & TEs) instead of desperately seeking quarterbacks that continue to disappoint with under-developed skill-sets.

kuechly-128-14-sgt-a-martinez-wc-thmWith the pro-ready pocket passer fast becoming an endangered species, a commitment to defensive fundamentals, including de-emphasis on glory stats guys (sacks, close-down corners, etc.) who rarely go the distance, then utilization of the mgr-QB system and the shortage of elite passers becomes largely irrelevant.

And if that elite defense comes to fruition, it may also afford the time needed to develop that quarterback project who possesses a modicum of pocket poise and read-ability upon which to build.

3) Pocket Passer premium

He’s endangered but not extinct, down but not out.

With every year that passes the proficient pocket-passer will become harder to find, but if you do draft a dandy, the possibilities can be stupendous (See; Brady, Manning, Rodgers, Montana, Brees, Moon, Marino, etc., etc.). And then, good defenders aren’t exactly growing on trees themselves. So there’s that.

You‘ll need two things to troll-in that golden-arm: 1) Keen scouts who can spot ’em (See; Ron Wolf (Favre)), and 2) if you do, better hope he’s under-the-radar or be prepared to fork out the bullion in bushels.

But whatever you do, don’t ever deceive yourself into thinking you can convert run-QB into the pro-set passer. “Forget about it.”

brady-8-28-09-k-allison-dc-wc-cca-thmBeing a pro quarterback is not a whim nor a simple ego-trip. It’s an avocation, an artist’s craft, requiring as much mental finesse in instinct (audible), wherewithal (pocket poise), synergy (coach – teammates), as it does physical prowess, maybe more.

It’s a tough call for today’s young football aspirant.

Learning pocket poise is a trial (& error) that will last for years, taking much patience and no small amount of pain.

Rabbit-habit and its concomitant ball-hog trait is instinctive to some, especially those not inclined to leadership. Touch that pigskin and it’s only a man’s mind that can give it up to another for sake of the team. Sharing is not instinctive but must be taught at an early age.

Run routine will serve one well in school where Coach Chisel rides it to victory. But there’s a price the player (and his future OC) must pay, for once partaken a rabbit-habit’s impossible to break, while the toughness-training (Jr. high) needed to ascend the QB ladder with behind-the-line hits cannot be replaced. ‘No pain no gain’ is no popular proverb in 2016 (concussion) but it’s never been more fitting in QB development, or non-development, as the case may be.

En Vogue

tarkenton-wc-themiaminews-1-9-74-320kQuarterback design still trends heavily towards those of the CliffsNotes® class, i.e., run-QB, but a new breed of field general is appearing on the football plain with more frequency and producing fruits for his labor (Ws): Pocket passer with mobility. He may be the best of both worlds.

In truth, he’s not so new a breed as a return to the signal-caller popularized in 1960-70s by the likes of Fran “The Scrambler” Tarkenton and Roger “The Dodger” Staubach. Former holder of most career passing marks, Tark spent half his time in zig-zag behind-the-line to extend vision (Listed 6’0,” looked closer to 5’10”) and wear pursuers ragged (Deacon Jones (d.2013) was livid!), while his NFC nemesis in one of the Super Bowl’s GATs in Roger had more moves in open-field than did Mr. James Brown on stage.

Leading the list of today’s MPP is Packers 3-star field general, Aaron Rodgers.

Next in line, Russ Wilson (49-19), then Colts’ Andrew Luck. All cucumber cool in the red-zone, capable of threading the needle for a score but swift in leaving the pocket to avoid pressure or move up-field, not for fear or read-funk but because sometimes the pass just ain’t there and 1st-down marker is an easy scamper.

On the newcomers it’s Tyrod Taylor (BUF), Blake Bortles (JAX), Jameis Winston (TB) and Cowboys controversy-causing (See; T.Romo) 2d-year quarterback, Dak Prescott whose biggest challenge in mid-season may be beating the Sports Illustrated cover-curse. ‘Damn!’

cherries-cloth-picdrome-6-2011-thmCherry Picks Week 6

Denver (4-1) @ San Diego (1-4): 10.13 CBS 8:25: Bolts win
San Fran (1-4) @ Buffalo (3-2): 10.16 Fox 1:00: Bills win
Philly (3-1) @ Washington (3-2): Fox 1:00 (GTW): DC wins
Pittsburgh Steelers (4-1) @ Miami Dolphins (1-4): CBS 1:00: Dolphins win
Bengals (2-3) @ New England Pats (4-1): CBS 1:00 (GTW): Cincinnati wins
Kansas City Chiefs (2-2) @ Oakland Raiders (4-1): CBS 4:05 (GTW): KC wins
Atlanta Falcons (4-1) @ Seattle (3-1): Fox 4:25 (GTW): Seahawks win
Dallas Cowboys (4-1) @ Green Bay (3-1): Fox 4:25 (GTW): Packers win
Indianapolis Colts (2-3) @ Houston (3-2): NBC 8:30 (GTW): Texans win

Record: 23 – 31

......NFL-symbol.wikiproject.6kbSteven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credits: D.Prescott-point, wc.cca, 9.18.16, K.Allison; C.Newton, wc, 9.28.14, K.Allison; L. Kuechly, 1.28.14, Sgt-A.Martinez, wc; T.Brady, wc, 8.28.09, K.Allison, DC; F.Tarkenton, wc, The-Miami-News, 1.9.74; cherries-cloth, 6.2001, picdrome, wc; NFL-symbol, wikiproject.
Posted: 10.13.16 @ 5:29pm EST; Copyright © 2016

NCAAF.16: It’s Saban, Meyer,…then Everyone Else in FBS-D1

2 Sep

..........Saban.wc.8.18.9.2.47m.RammaJammaYellaI’m not one to watch CNBC and the like. That goes for most TV today. Can’t stand the ADD-delivery, the lies (faux-reality), the dumb-down (The Simpsons) and the double-dipping (commercials and monthly bill).

But I love sport, even as I’m portfolio poor.

At times, wish I had just that sort of insatiable appetite for all things money that some others possess and profit by, but I find learning of its accumulation to be about as interesting as lawncare or home repair. That wasn‘t always the case.

As a young lad I was possessed of a junior but fairly savvy business bent.

Example: When beer can collecting was the craze (70s) I sold my stock before market went belly-up. Unfortunately, soon after, I’d discover…correction, was taught, how to empty those cans with gusto (Burp!). Regardless, I always did find Louis Rukeyser’s motif (♫) and monologue (Wall Street Week) to be quite intoxicating, even if a bit esoteric towards the Cufflink crowd.

.........beer.cans.Visitor7.2012.wc.1.8kBut one need not be money-minded to know corporations like Apple and CVS Health are corporate heavies who set the bar in their respective fields of techno-gadgetry and healthcare sales. They’re in a league of their own, able to brush off periodic DTs in QEs to remain ahead of the curve, not by following trends but often by setting them, remaining innovative, recruiting the top prospects and of course gobbling the competition, the last, by courtesy of Commerce, Justice Departments and federal bench. Oy vey.

AOTC in sales is sweet, but if they and their peers could only heed the pit calls for costumer service and quality control. Trailing oil but bad.

That aside, when the new fiscal season kicks-off, all eyes lock on the leaders.

And it’s no different in college ball.

Saturday will see most institutions of higher learning begin their football seasons and take those first steps in that long, arduous trek towards what they hope is a berth in a title tussle or at least a bowl invite.

.........Meyer.11.30.13.A.Glanzman.289k.wcAnd when that pigskin takes to flight and the smack-of-pads fill the crisping air, there are two titan-esque tacticians who strode the FBS-D1 sideline and, more than any Heisman-hyped player, excepting the rare Manziel, Tebow or Herschel Walker who steal the show, will pull the gaze of fans and set the standard that all emulate.

The Giants: Nick Saban (The University of Alabama) and Urban Meyer (The Ohio State University).

Between ‘em both they claim eight (8) national championships: Saban (Fairmont, WV (‘51)) won one at Louisiana State (‘03 (3)) and has four in Tuscaloosa (‘09, 11, 12, ‘15 (16)), while Meyer took two as a Gator guru (‘06, 08 (3)) and one in his native Ohio (Toledo (‘64)) in Buckeyes’ land in 2014 (8).

It’s Saban, Meyer and then everybody else who seems to follow and hope when it comes to coach competition on the big school gridiron.

Is that good or bad? That all depends on your perspective.

Glass half-empty view says, Saban and Meyer, while not technically a monopoly on titles and recruitment, are a cartel of two.

It’s like Coca-Cola and PepsiCo versus Dr Pepper Snapple (Brian Kelly (ND)) and Faygo (Jim Harbaugh), up n’ comer in the beverage biz and headquartered in Detroit (rappers seem to love it (See; Wikipedia), for whatever reason).

........Coke.car.wc.Curitiba.PR.568k.Morio.3.18.6These two title-hogs are quelling the competition in college football’s upper echelon, only in that rare case where a golden nugget should appear in the pan as in Heisman winning, Seminole national champion and soda taste-tester (Burger King (‘13)) Jameis Winston, who will come along to break-up the monotony.

Even when the State of Florida was dominating Division-1 play, beginning in the early 1980s and running into the 2000s, with the likes of Miami (Schnellenberger / Johnson / Erickson), Florida State (Bowden) and Florida (Spurrier / Meyer), there were still plenty of top programs around the nation to add variety with Holtz at Notre Dame, McCarthy at Colorado, Osborne at Nebraska, Switzer at Oklahoma, James at Washington, Carr at Michigan and then Tressel (TOSU) and Carroll (USC) at close of the Sunshine reign.

All meaning, college football’s half-empty glass could use a re-fill of diversity, maybe with a twist or two and a “straw” to stir it up. If only “Johnny Trouble” had had the brains to stay in school (TA&M). The chicken n’ egg thing.

The glass half-full take: There is a special kind of consistency of quality that comes with winners like Meyer & Saban, in league with Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski and Kentucky’s John Calipari in men’s college b-ball. They all run tight ships and come into port with tremendous booty.

........Krzyzewski.wc.1.12.12.DMCullen.DoD.4mNick and Urban appear polar opposites. Saban with a bit of his father’s flair while Urban is all business. In truth, they’re probably more alike than different. Titlists still put their pants on one leg at a time.

Saban the Younger responding to a press query last week about fights in practice:

“Alright, so, to me there’s never a time for guys to lose their cool. I think those are selfish decisions (If he loses it), that are emotional decisions that don‘t really help your team (AL.com, 8.26.16).” And Saban said the key word: “Team.”

Not the same verve & vigor of Dad, Lou Saban (d.2009), who is an NFL Films legend in class with Chiefs’ Hank Stram (d.2005) (Saban in 60s Buffalo: “They’re killin’ me, Whitey, they’re killin’ me!!,” and 1974: “If we die, we die together…you can get it done, what’s more…you GOTTA’ get it done!”). But like Urban, Nick’s very perceptive, decisive and can sometimes sport that easy smile reflecting his familial love for the game and the life.

For those half-empty tumbler types, there is hope in busting up the Saban – Meyer continuum of championships.

.......Harbaugh.12.30.14.wc.E.Upchurch.216kWolverines‘ trustees have paid ‘Hurry-Up’ Harbaugh a king’s ransom in nearly every form of legal tender imaginable (salary, loans, etc.) and wouldn’t surprise if they’d had Michigan Stadium (“Big House”) re-named in his honor if it expedites matters;

Jimbo Fisher has his guys well positioned (#2) but needs to prove there’s life at FSU after Jameis Winston (See; Chizik (AU));

Brian Kelly looks to be on cusp (again) of finally getting his chomping-at-the-bit golden-domer alumni that long awaited return to prominence (‘88);

Charlie Strong (UT) and Kev Sumlin (A&M) are getting national championship money ($5M) but have their programs headed in the wrong way;

Bob Stoops (OU) is a winner (‘00) but testing the patience of Normanites;

Les Miles (early Google gets Les Miserables (Hugo)) (LSU) is a winner too (‘07) but agreeing to Lambeau locale, even versus #25 Badgers, has this writer miffed;

Best coach in Texas, Gary Patterson has been TCU’ing for most this century (143-47 (9-5)) and like Dabo in SC is looking for that break-through moment.

........Swinney.10.31.15.wc.LambeauLeap80.94kClemson’s Dabo Swinney may have nation’s best progression (75-27) since taking reins (08) and top candidate to topple cartel. Explains the raise ($5M).

Mark Dantonio (MSU) is a serious man and getting serious coin but in serious need of a CFP spot;

Hugh Freeze (Ole Miss) is showing steady progression not unlike Vince Lombardi in those early Green Bay days (7-5, 8-4, etc.) but faces top Seminoles (#2) in opener, ♫ (over) in F..L..A ♫;

Jim Mora (UCLA) slipped in 2015 (8-5) but has the slate to soar in 2016; and

If Bob Petrino can keep it clean, find a class and get in position, watch out!

Even if another coach can work his men to win in Tampa next January, it’ll take a program awakening of Renaissance proportion to break up the titles tandem crafted by masters Saban and Meyer. A Michelangelo, da Vinci, El Greco, van Eyck, Botticelli, Titian, Cellini, a Raphael of football means, any style will do, but the gridiron artisan in head-set better know his medium and keep those titles coming if he’s to be remembered with the greats.

....brass.thumbtack.J.Dalton.wc.thm(WP.SB.USA14)Steven Keys
Brass Tacks
Photo credit: N.Saban, wc.cca, 8.18.9, RammaJammaYella; beer.cans, 2012, Visitor7, wc; U.Meyer, wc, 11.30.13, A.Glanzman; Coke.car, wc, Curitiba-PR, Morio; M.Krzyzewski, wc, 1.12.12, DM.Cullen, DoD; J.Harbaugh, wc, 12.30.14, E.Upchurch; D.Swinney, wc, LambeauLeap80, 10.31.15; brass-tack, J.Dalton, wc
Posted: 9.2.16 @ 5:10pm, edit @ 9:35 EST; Copyright © 2016

NFL16: Longing For Lambeau Largesse & Reciprocity In a Consolidating World

26 Aug

Le voilà! Frozen Assets

The 2016 college football…hold on…, 2016 FBS Division I NCAA college football season and campaign for an invite to compete in the College Football Playoff (12.31) and place in the national championship game in Tampa Bay (1.9.17) (Phew!) is almost officially underway with Friday night’s opener (10pm EST) down under in Australia that pits Hawaii versus California (Saturday in Sydney).

...........Packers.Cheer.8.26.10.M.Morbeck309kNext week various other Big School openers will join the kickoff parade, including a match in Dublin, Ireland (GT v Boston College (9.3)), the Georgia Dome (Chick-fil-A Bowl: UNC v Georgia (ATL 9.3)), one at a top NASCAR site in Bristol, TN (VT v UT) and that great college football mecca (?!), Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin (LSU v UW (9.3)).

The famous but now nearly never frozen tundra that carpets the stadium by the bay which French fur-trapper and New France explorer, Jean Nicolet discovered (oops!), mapped in 1620, is of course football holy ground ensconced in history. Those fans then who’re lucky enough to be in attendance for this classic college kickoff will upon exit find within general vicinity a plethora of museums, souvenir shops, cheese-curd carts and fine eateries with brats n’ brew of all varieties to please the pallet and wet the whistle. Hot diggity!

Lambeau Field: A great facility to visit and enjoy a game.

.........Lambeau.1940.wc.32kNevertheless, what’s irksome to this sports fan on the choice of the Lambeau locale for this bayou – badger battle, rather than venerated Camp Randall in Madison, is that it seems just one more act in consolidation of major Wisconsin football and its concomitant financial benefits ($) into the hands of Packers’ elite (Board of Directors (EC)), a clique that in 1994 decided, once that Favre money was flowing like gold into the till, to pull up stakes and cut ties to its southern base in the state’s largest city, Milwaukee, where Pack had played from 2-4 games per since 1950s and forged a pretty spiffy history of their own (1960 >).

The traveling tradition began in a decade when green & yellow were struggling mightily for an extended period from the late 40s through most of the 50s, a first dry spell in their storied history to that point (1921), all of it under the guidance of founder, player and head coach Lambeau.

But even as Vince quickly got the Packers ship righted (‘59 (7-5)) and had his own opinions about playing field preference, the Milwaukee games continued on with the team’s heightened and sustained success throughout the 1960s.

........BuckyBadger.12.1.07.S.Cain.wc.138kI wish the Badgers, their visiting Tigers contingent and all connected to the September game a happy, memorable experience. It should be a wing-dinger wherever it’s held.

In the bigger picture, however, consolidation of top games at Lambeau, a site imbuing in aura and appreciably adding to benefits that accrue to local and ancillary interests, does in fact work a real deprivation on two fronts: 1) Upon Milwaukee and Madison area supporters of the Pack, fans & merchants both, who stuck with the guys through thick n’ thin and are now denied their chance to participate in the praise-a-thon on their own sui-generis tundras, and 2) On the stronger, more substantive sense of former unity that’s been dismissed as trivial, a spirit of ownership, so to speak, that the dual-home system had worked throughout Wisconsin for forty years and went well beyond simply buying Packers merchandise online or at the local Kohl‘s and Walmart.

By spreading the joy and playing even just two regular season games in Milwaukee, Green Bay Packers, Inc. had facilitated a tremendous display in community sharing that was truly unique amongst NFL’s family of teams.

........Wisconsin.wc.7.19.16.A.Peterson416kA message to the Green Bay Packers’ General Manager Ted Thompson, the Executive Committee and electing Board: Start thinking reciprocity, folks.

In lean times the people of America’s Dairyland supported the Packers statewide (Devine family might take issue (’74)). Now back in clover (1992 >), it’s time for Ted Thompson & Board to spread joy and share wealth in re-establishing the City of Milwaukee, maybe adding in the State capital of Madison, as Packers game sites, pending the NFL’s approval of course.

It’s time to reflect, reconsider the consolidation of Packers assets and start fashioning a broader purpose in statewide comradery (Packers at Miller Park and Camp Randall (Brew Crew in Green Bay?)), a move appreciable today and then especially when these halcyon days in continuum of Hall of Fame caliber QBs, i.e., Rodgers and Favre, come to an end, as they always do.

......NFL-symbol.wikiproject.6kbSteven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credits: Lambeau.Field, wc.cca, JL1Row, 4.18.11; Packers.Cheer, wc, 8.26.10, M.Morbeck; C.Lambeau, wc, 1940; Bucky.Badger, wc, 12.1.7, S.Cain; Wisconsin State, wc, 7.19.16, A.Peterson; NFL-symbol, Wikiproject
Posted: 8.26.16 @ 1:49pm EST; Copyright © 2016

NFL16 – SB50: Cam Cues Days of Dart & Dash

4 Feb

Modern Maximus at 50

Old Rome had it’s Circus Maximus where chariots raced, gladiators got jugular, arts performed, gods were honored and general revelry ensued for the masses.

........Newton.wc.C.Brice.9.11.11.thmWe have our “great Circus” in 2016. We call it the Super Bowl. Next in line, #50 (’67).

And for the first time since the merger, the Romans, numerals, that is, got the heave-ho. About time, we say, Mr. Goodell, no offense, Julius, Caesar, that is.

Our version of the High Hootenanny is a bit tamer than the Empire’s public shindig, though, I wouldn’t be surprised if the ancients were more adept than are we today in the art of restroom deployment. Very ‘public’ but very present (See; Rick Steve’s Europe (Rome)). Terrific engineers, were those “world shakin’” Italians.

.......CircusMaximus.wc.04.Xeospeed.thmHigh-light of Super Bowl week is, of course, the NFL championship game held Sunday night in Santa Clara, Ca-li-for-ni-a (CBS 6:30 EST), pitting the slightly surprising AFC champ Denver Broncos against NFC titlists, the Panthers of Carolina.

Both are, as Gen. Allenby would’ve said, “riding the whirlwind (J.Hawkins).”

Though Gary Kubiak head coaches his first Super, like his counterpart in Carolina’s Ron Rivera, about half the Broncos remain from the squad that took a shellacking in SB48 at hands of Seattle (43-8). The Cats make only their 2d showing, first since they came up short in SB38 versus the Patriots, 32-29.

Team records are out the window before a championship. And it’s defense that defines both clubs in this one. It is on that side of the ball, as it was with Seattle, upon which their offenses feed for emotional fire.

Cats are led by perennial All-Pro linebacker Luke Kuechly and safety Kurt Coleman (LB T. Davis plays with screws in his arm and DE K. Short a bunged knee), while Denver features ILBs Dan Trevathan and Brandon Marshall with outsider Von Miller specializing in the sack (11).

.......Trevathan.9.9.12.J.Beall.wc.thm,JPGUsually overlooked in pre-game analysis, even as one of the oldest, key aspects of the football contest, the kicking games, compare well. Punters Britton Colquitt (DEN) and Brad Nortman (CAR) rate equal as do the place-kickers, though, edge to Denver (B. McManus) in the PS (7-7 (Gano 2-2) and 50+ (5-7 (2-2) v 2-4 (0)).

But as always in this quarterback league, the signal-callers are the focal points of Super Bowl spotlight and scribery.

And excepting their Southeaster Conference heritage (TN – AU), the two guys at the offensive controls could not be more different.

Some dissimilarities are obvious, in age and race.

This season, like the past five, Cam has been near epitome of physical wherewithal, playing in 78 of 80 RS games for the Cats while Peyton has struggled to stay suited with various maladies, missing all of 2011 (neck) and about 1/3 of 2015. Though, fair to point out he had made every start in 2012-14.

......Newton.wc.7.12.11.thm.sportiqeLess noticeable to the casualite is their difference in style: Peyton’s proto-typical pocket passer who relies on his not-what-it-used-to-be arm, savvy and run sufficiency. That necessarily includes a stout O-line, backs that can block, his own ability to read D with proficiency and handy men who can hang on.

Cam is flash. Forgoing education time in the pocket classroom, Newton bolts quickly when the pressure comes and first-look receivers are covered, carrying more of the load but also living on the wild-side by inviting downfield hits and making his tendency to rabbit a red-flag to defenders and their strategists.

Ironically, if Cam & Co. hoist the VLT Sunday it’ll mark the beginning of the end of the pocket-passer’s NFL dominance, given how coach-free run-QB proliferates in college, just as one of the greatest passers all-time in Manning is pondering his final curtain call on a storied career in what may be his swan song game.

Rumor (“report”) says SB50 will be Manning’s last game (NFLN). Someone has even planted the LA Rams seed as a possible new home in 2016 for the Broncos starting QB. Story slots need filling for Super week and the latter one was fun.

.....Manning.thm.9.14.14.J.Beall.wc.ccaThe reasons why Peyton would retire post-SB50 are multitude. But if Manning-the-Elder-Son plays well in a win or even a close loss there’s reason to believe he’d return for one more go at it in 2016-17, health permitting and Broncos’ (another club) braintrust concurring, making this “report” appear more speculatory even as Ian Rapoport generally hits his marks.

Unlike Favre in finale (2010-11), Manning still seems vested with desire to compete. His next game (“one week at a time”) will have everything to do with how long he maintains that desire, making it unlikely he’d have a “plan” in place, let alone reveal it to anyone outside immediate family. Someone made a mis-read

But even if Sir Runs-Alot does not hoist it Sunday, the day of run-QB’s dominance is just a hop, skip & jump away. Pocket passer will rule the roost for this and into the next decade but “the bell tolls” for the glory days of the dynamic & diverse NFL offense.

Age of the new millennial QB is here and Newton is it‘s John Hancock.

♫ Rock Your Baby ♫

It’s been presaged since he hoisted the heavy hardware at Auburn in 2010: The BCS title trophy, Tigers’ 2d national (’57), and the still-coveted-in-some-circles (Disney (ESPN)) huge Heisman doorstop.

Now Cam Newton preps to play on the biggest stage in American sport, the Super Bowl, hoping to hoist the heaviest in accolade in the vaunted VLT (Vince Lombardi trophy). And the 2015 MVP? That race looks like Newton will take the tape since Brady & Palmer stumbled late and the top NFL defender almost always crosses the finish-line unnoticed or with little fanfare (See; N.Bowman).

.....Newton.2011.wc.thm.Pantherfan11The man from Atlanta was made for the spotlight: Ear-to-ear smile, 6’5 frame, multi-faceted skill-set and a showmanship that exhibits on cue. Cam’s “bursting with country fresh flavor (Seinfeld),” gosh darnit!

It’s been quite an NFL ride for Carolina’s 3-time All-Pro signal-caller, if you like roller-coasters. Beats the Zipper or that spider thing.

Rookie year (‘11) seemed to bode well for big things to come.

The Panters went 6-10, Camster-the-Hamster scampered for a frosh record 14 TDs and passed for 4000+. Not too shabby for a rookie. But with every step forward there was another step back. The C%’s and TD-ratios fluctuated as did W-L records: Good (12-4 (‘13)), not so good (5-8-1 (‘14)).

But when expectations are high those up & down swings won’t, as they used to say in the Napoleonic Wars, cut the mustard. Sacré bleu!

Now comes NFL 2015-16.

Just when many fans were losing patience, beginning to waver, having serious doubts about his game and whether he could channel physical talents into sustainable team success, Cam plays a turn-the-corner type season.

.....Rivera.6.10.11.R.Paraglide.wc.thmDoes that mean Cam’s come of age? Depends on the venue.

In the home setting, he and his love were just recently blessed with a bouncing baby boy (“Chosen”). Key to the first year of rearing: Parents “buying (each other’s) chairs (Phenomenon ‘96).” Stack ’em on the porch if need be. It’s worth it.

On gridiron he’s finally looking pro-efficient, comfortable.

Generaling the Panthers’ offense to a 17-1 record and cusp of greatness can qualify as professional maturity. The fact that 2015 was the worst year in this memory for quality of competition amongst the NFL ranks should detract little from that assessment.

Those who gripe about his fly routine on TD are working OT to find fault. He’s a hot-dog (70s), there’s no doubt there. Superman never boasted. But success, i.e., taking the VLT, will automatically fit one with suit of maturity to market pizzas and pop, commercially convenient as that may be (See; Lynch & Gronkowski).

Kurious Kindred Spirits

Ironically, it was 30 years ago last week Cam’s kindred spirit was also drinking in the limelight and would lead his offense to victory in SB20 (1.26.86).

....McMahon.93.wc.Diz28.thbThe man who invented the helmet head-butt, battled Commish Pete Rozelle over headband displays and teammate of Cam coach Ron River, Bears’ QB Jim McMahon, was constituting the offensive and emotional catalyst for Chicago’s magical run in 1985-86, culminating with their resounding win over the Patriots (46-10) in the Louisiana Superdome.

The sporting gods were busy in the Windy City in 1985, a season of “gods and monsters (“Dr. Pretorius”)”), endowing liberally (Dent, Marshall, Singletary, Payton, Frazier, etc.). But it was McMahon who set the run in motion that MNF in Minnesota when he came off the bench to engineer a killer-quarter with three quick TD strikes.

Numbers never lie? Fiddlesticks. They can tell tall tales. Jim’s 1985 totals were almost Igor-ish in comparison to most but his leadership and moxie were immeasurable. After that game the Monsters of Midway never looked back and finished the regular like Carolina at 15-1, a trip to Miami in W13 the lone blemish when Fuller started and the noise-meter red-lined to no avail.

...Bears.AIoC.wc.2.19.07.thm.SenorCodoThe Bears big season didn’t forge a “new world” of dynasty for Halas Hall but it did set a standard for singular season prowess by which all modern NFL champions are measured.

As for the New England Patriots, the Super Bowl stage is the Great Exaggerator: Winners who ride a wave, the defeated who can often be living Murphy‘s Law. The Patriots got a taste of title (AFCC) and wanted more (See: the Bills of Foxborough).

Cam Newton hopes in possessing that same McMahon cocky-charisma, his teammates can feed off it to fuel the fire to victory.

One issue to note for both QBs: If adversity hits (DDD: down double-digits), can Cam and Peyton keep cool and turn air-of-superiority into resilient resurgence? Broncos have had a wealth of adversity in this campaign, Carolina’s mostly cruised. How one handles adversity may be the truest test of a champion.

Flash Cam

Newton still struggles a bit with the celebrity, bristling at criticism, not unlike another kindred spirit in Sir Isaac Newton. England’s Mr. Motion was said to run from counter-takes like the plague. Nobody likes flak. But unless perfect or all powerful it’s a life reality. Some know it better than others and adapt as need.

...FlashCam.Kodak.6.15.15.J.Haupt.thmIn a Super Bowl press conference last week Cam had this to say: “I’m an African-American quarterback that may scare alot of people because they…they haven’t seen nothin’ that they can compare me to (1.27.16).”

Showing his race card may’ve over-played the hand.

Last time a run-QB was on the Super stage he got handed his lunch (Kaep). Then the lights went out and SF feasted (SB47). Maybe Newton’s the one feeling the jitters. When he tables the race topic and keeps on football he can make a fair point. Many fans do disfavor the flash form that Cam displays. Don’t count the “yutes (My Cousin Vinny ‘92)” among them. Kids have no interest whatsoever in cartoon-football (Pro Bowl Rice v Irvin) but they just adore muscle-bound run-QB (See also; the Home Run Derby).

Why the pass on run-QB? Because Sir Runs-Alot is a ball-hog, taking touches from receivers and ball-carriers both, making them less relevant and the game less diverse, though, Panthers’ faithful aren’t complaining. In college, where run-QB has come to dominate, they’re nearly unstoppable (See; Saban).

...Kapp.wc.EllensburgDaily.73k.12.26.69.thmIt’s a style throwback to the single-wing tailback (40s), a “wide open” type of quarterbacking, “not contained (NFL Films).” Vikings’ Joe Kapp may’ve been the last true SWTB, Cunningham and Young reviving the form slightly, though, showing top talent for pass. Russ Wilson’s style stirred the debate but is cut more from the Staubach cloth: Mobility as necessity (1st-downs).

Will Cam’s style come to dominate the pros?

That’s been the debate since “nothin’” Mike Vick exploded onto the scene in ’02. Kaep, another “nothin’” in Cam’s view, gave flash a boost but got red-zone blues in crunch. And therein lay one of it’s fatal flaws: Exiting the (pocket) classroom early to avoid hits but forgoing the education in D-read comprehension that rounds out the “skill set.” ‘No pain, no gain’ should begin in the juniors.

....cherries.cloth.picdrome.6.2011.thmGiven the law of supply n’ demand (See; NCAA), if Carolina can cash-in for Santa Clara gold the debate may be over. Either outcome, run-QB is here to stay.

As T.E. Lawrence might‘ve said, “this is going to be fun.”

 

Super 50 Cherry Pick: Denver Broncos

Record: 104 – 101

...NFL-symbol.wikiproject.6kbSteven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credit: C.Newton, 9.28.14, wc.cca, K.Allison; Newton, wc.cca, C.Brice, 9.11.11; CircusMaximus, wc, Rome, 8.14.06, G.O’Beirne; CircusMaximus, wc.cca, Rome, 2004, Xeospeed; D.Trevathan, wc.cca, 9.9.12, J.Beall; Newton, wc.cca, 1.26.14, HI, M.Bragg, USArmy; Newton, wc, 7.12.11, sportiqe; P.Manning, 9.14.14, wc.cca, J.Beall; Newton, 2011, wc.cca, Pantherfan11; R.Rivera, wc.cca, Paraglide, 6.10.11; McMahon, Diz28, wc, 1993; Bears, AIoChicago, SenorCodo, wc, 2.19.07; FlashCam, Kodak, 6.15.15, 1950s, J.Haupt, wc; J.Kapp, BC.Lions, VancouverPL, wc, 1960; J.Kapp, EllensburgDaily, wc, 12.26.69; cherries-cloth, picdrome, 2001, wc; NFL-symbol, wikiproject.
Posted: 2.4.16 @ 2:19pm, edit 4:34 EST; Copyright © 2016

“Hurry-Up” Harbaugh? Hold ‘Yur Horses!

5 Oct

They were the days of raccoon coats and day-time donnybrooks telegraphed by wire, amplified in radio and devoutly devoured in newsprint;

Co-eds and flappers were beginning to fill the wooden stands with regularity;

The guys on gridiron wore leather helmets, metal spikes, lots o’ wool and none of those sissified ($) sticky-gloves in sight;

The forward pass was still a curiosity and the occasional ‘ringer’ was rostered by some to beat the big rival at homecoming.

College football in the days of the doughboy.

One believed ringer of the day, at least in opinion of Pennsylvania “Quakers” and press, was the young man who’d just a few years later embark on a legendary coach career at University of Michigan, “Hurry-Up” Yost (1901-23, ‘25-26).

Fielding Harris Yost, born and schooled in West Virginia, would become the man who put Wolverines football on the college map, bringing Michigan national prominence with six national titles (165-29-10 (198-35-12)) and a win in the inagural Rose Bowl in besting California’s Stanford, 49-0 (1902).

Before his halcyon days in the cherry State, Yost distinguished himself playing tackle at UWV but caused a ringer-ruckus in 1896 when he made an impromptu and temporary transfer to nationally prominent rival, Lafayette, helping them to victory over those rough & tumble Quakers, 6-4. Fielding denied any impropriety and the brouhaha blew over.

Yost then headed straight into the coaching life in a string of jobs that’d set Larry Brown’s hair on fire, taking five posts in just four seasons, beginning at Ohio Wesleyan (’97), then Nebraska (’98), Kansas (99), Stanford (’00) and San Jose (‘00) before settling down in Ann Arbor.

Other memorable coaches followed Yost, like Harry Kipke (NT ‘32-33 (“punt, pass & a prayer,” “great defense is a great offense“)), Fritz Crisler (‘47 / “platoon” system and today‘s helmet design)), Ben Oosterbaan (‘48), Bo Schembechler (194-48-5), Gary Moeller (44-13-3 / 4-1) and Lloyd Carr (’97 / 122-40).

The years after Carr was shown the door (resigned (‘07)), have seen big blue turn a shade of baby blue. Rich Rodriguez (15-22) and Brady Hoke (31-20), winners in prior coaching stints could not translate that success to the “Big House.”

.....Harbaugh.12.30.14.wc.Upchurch.thmIn 2015, enter former 49ers guru and Wolverines star signal-caller (‘83-86), James Joseph Harbaugh to right the listing ship that had become Michigan football.

The UM Board of Regents voted Jim a pile o’ cash to lure him from a pretty rosy NFL life in San Francisco and the early signs are showing it to be a wise investment.

After coming up short against Utah (4-0) to open the Harbaugh era, Wolverines (4-1 (#18)) have run off four straight wins and line up against the #13 Wildcats of Northwestern (5-0) in Ann Arbor on Saturday (3:30 EST) for what should prove a classic Big Ten grinder and good test of both teams true capabilities.

Jim Harbaugh clearly brings a verve to Michigan. He had his trouble in NFL red zone (SB47 / NFCC’14) but he’s been a winning coach at both levels (Stanford), recruits with the best of ’em and should have Wolverines back in the mix quick.

And when he does it’ll likely swing a national spotlight that’s been fixated on the SEC, back onto the Big Ten. In particular, a showcase of the formerly anticipated and highly rated TV event that is the long-running UM – TOSU rivalry game.

You’ve gotta’ look for small signs when a new coach takes the reins.

One that this writer noticed was the subtle alterations made in the Wolverines uniform design and then other clothing accoutrements.

Gone is the fluorescent maize and fat ‘M’ lettering, replaced by a darker yellow hue (school bus) and a tapered, classic line.

It may read infinitesimal but speaks a volume or two on Harbaugh’s confident, focused persona in that he and his staff don’t have to scream at fans, a tack taken up in tired trend by today‘s logo & uniform Lilliputians. Jimbo, like more sport-minded people, will let the record speak for itself. And a little throwback to the good times doesn’t hurt, either.

...brass.thumbtack.J.Dalton.wc.ccaSteven Keys
Brass Tacks
Photo credits: JimHarbaugh, wc.cca, 12.30.14, E.Upchurch; brass-thumbtack, wc.cca, J.Dalton.
Posted: 10.5.15 @ 2:31pm EST; Copyright ® 2015
Source reference, UM football history: Wikipedia.