Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Eyes in the Sky- 2008

The game notes for the season opener vs. Utah were released last Thursday and, as usual, it is chock-full of information. One noteworthy tidbit of information is who will be the "eyes in the sky" in 2008. The notes list Calvin McGee (Assoc. Head Coach/Offensive Coordinator) and Tony Dews (Wide Receivers) as the two coaches who will be in the booth from the offensive side of the ball. On the defensive side, Scott Shafer (Defensive Coordinator) and Bruce Tall (Defensive Line) will occupy the booth during games. Shafer has stated that he prefers the perch of the booth rather than watching the game from the sidelines because he has a better perspective on the action from the box. This is a change from Ron English (Michigan's previous Def. Coord.) who coached from the sidelines. Go Blue!


Saturday, July 26, 2008

Race for QB 1

At the Big Ten Football Media Days, Coach Rod had a couple of interesting quotes regarding the competition to be Michigan's starting QB. Coach Rod stated, "Somebody asked the question: How many guys will actually touch the ball at quarterback? Good question. I hadn't thought about that. We'll have to figure that out in August. It could be pretty interesting -- this year, anyway." Coach Rod went on to say, "It's going to be fun. We have to be creative, more so now than maybe we'll have to in the future." (emphasis added)

Those statements can be interpreted in a couple of different ways. One school of thought is that Coach Rod was acknowledging that this is a transition year but that once the current crop of quarterbacks get a year under their belts with the system it will not be so difficult in the future. Another school of thought is that Coach Rod was subtly implying that the arrival in January, 2009 of Michigan commit Kevin Newsome (a high school senior) will resolve the current concerns surrounding the quarterback position. The idea being that whoever wins the starter's job this season will likely get displaced in 2009 by the arrival of Newsome who is a prototypical zone option read quarterback. In interpreting Coach Rod's statement, I subscribe to the latter school of thought.

Regardless, until Newsome arrives, there appears to be a three-way race for the starter's job. The current leader is redshirt freshman Steven Threet followed closely by former walk-on Nick Sheridan and true freshman Justin Feagin. (The odd man out is David Cone). Coach Rod plans to make the quarterback competition a three-man race the first two weeks of camp, with each running a team, and he will cut the competition down to two for the final week of camp, leading up to game week. Fall practice commences August 4th, 2008. The first two-a-day practice is Saturday, August 9, 2008. Fall practice will consist of 29 practice sessions prior to the opening game on Saturday, August 30, 2008 vs. Utah.

Assuming that Steven Threet wins the competition for the starter's job, he may be destined to be the next Tom Slade. Slade was a sophmore in 1971 and was the team's starting quarterback following the graduation of two-year starter Don Moorhead (1969-1970). Slade guided the 1971 Wolverines to an undefeated regular season as Michigan went 11-0 and went to the Rose Bowl. However, despite the team's incredible success in 1971, Slade was displaced as the starting QB the following year by the enormously talented Dennis Franklin. Franklin was a freshman in 1971 and was not eligible to play but he took over the starting job in 1972 as a sophmore and remained the starter until his graduation following the 1974 season. For his part, Slade rode the bench for the remainder of his career at Michigan despite the fact that he led the '71 Wolverines to the Rose Bowl. Likewise, Threet is likely to be relegated to the bench following the 2008 season even if he performs well. That is because the enormously talented Newsome (a prototypical zone read offense QB) is a better fit for Coach Rod's offense. Like Dennis Franklin before him, Newsome is likely to unseat the previous year's starter (Threet) and remain the Wolverines' QB for the balance of his collegiate career. Thus, Coach Rod's decision regarding who to name QB 1 will not be so interesting in future years as it will be a foregone conclusion that Newsome is the starter. Go Blue!

Coach Rod at the Big Ten Media Days

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Help recruit a "Guy" to visit the UM Tailgate.com bash

The preeminent Michigan tailgater, Frank of UMTailgate.com, is recruiting Guy Fieri of The Food Network to come join the party. Fieri is the host of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Following is Frank's request for your help in bringing the show to A2 for one of Frank's fabulous bashes:

My passion for a good plate of grub is immeasurable. So it should come as no surprise to you that I am a huge fan of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives on the Food Network. I only discovered it about 6 months ago, and I am currently running out of space on my DVR because I can’t bring myself to delete any of the episodes. If you haven’t seen the show, I recommend checking it out. Every time I watch it, I get five new ideas for tailgate food. Each foray into towns both small and large epitomizes everything I want in a dining experience: homestyle cooking, fast service, a deep fryer, and some dirt on the floor.
The host, Guy Fieri, has pretty much the greatest job on the planet, going from restaurant to restaurant sampling the food and chatting up the ownership. Guy recently made a stop at a Chicagoland area restaurant that gets its supplies from none other than our own FryDaddy Frank. FryDaddy got a hold of Guy’s ear and dropped a shameless plug for UMTailgate.com, who we are, what we do, and that Guy should stop by. Guy got pretty fired up about the idea and there was an exchange of business cards. Without a doubt, Guy wants to come to our tailgate. I’m thinking there’s a chance he might be involved in something this fall that is tailgate related. No doubt he’s the perfect guy for a show that checks out sporting event tailgates. The problem is…Guy doesn’t get to make those decisions. This is where you come in…
Guy told FryDaddy to get the whole crew to send emails to the DDD producers. So if you are a UMTailgate regular, an occasional stopper-byer, or a one-timer, drop a note to DDDinfo@mac.com. Tell them what we do, tell them what you’ve seen, and tell them it would be perfect for Guy to stop by for the Patriotic Themed Tailgate on September 1st.
Quoting FryDaddy:
Guy told me that if enough of us send these people an email, he is very confident that we would be the first of many trips to tailgates for his show.
Ya, well, that would be f’n ridiculous. But hey, where else would you start? I mean, we are The Professionals with a “complex game plan.“ It certainly “doesn’t get any better than” us.
Anyway, help us out! If nothing else, maybe it will get Gar some people at his tent from our tailgate overflow. Thanks in advance. Once again, it’s DDDinfo@mac.com.
Thanks for your help. Go Blue!

*Note: Photo of Frank (front row, white shirt w/ blue M cap and gesturing w/ left hand) and fellow tailgaters by Lon Horwedel/The Ann Arbor News.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Michigan was the cradle of coaches during the Bo-era

During his 21-year tenure (1969-1989) as the Head Coach at Michigan, Bo Schembechler always had excellent assistant coaches to help him with the team. Coach Schembechler was not only a great teacher to his players, but also to his assistant coaches. Under Bo, Michigan became the cradle of coaches. Twelve (12) of Coach Schembechler's assistant coaches went on to head coaching positions at major college programs. In fact, several of the coaches went on to achieve great success in their own programs. Three of the assistants have won a National Championship as head coach (i.e., Bill McCartney 1990 @ Univ. of Colorado; Lloyd Carr 1997 @ Michigan; & Les Miles 2007 @ LSU). Additionally, two others have been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame (i.e., Jim Young in 1999 & Don Nehlen in 2005). Following is a brief profile of each assistant coach under Bo who went on to be a head coach at a major college program:

  • Jim Young (Michigan asst. coach: 1969-1972)

Coach Young was the first of Bo's assistant coaches to leave the Michigan program to become a head coach. Originally, Coach Young came with Bo to Michigan from Miami (OH) University in 1969. Coach Young was the Wolverines' Defensive Coordinator for Bo's first four seasons. Coach Young left to become the Head Coach at the University of Arizona in 1973. When he went to the Univ. of Arizona, he brought fellow assistant Larry Smith along with him to serve as his Defensive Coordinator. After four seasons leading the Wildcats, Coach Young returned to the Big Ten Conference when he became Purdue University's Head Coach in 1977. Coach Young led the Boilermakers from 1977-1981. Thereafter, he served as the Head Coach at Army from 1983-1990. Interestingly, Coach Young's first service as a head coach occurred while he was still an assistant at Michigan. Coach Young led the Wolverines in the 1970 Rose Bowl Game after Bo suffered a heart attack on the eve of the big contest. Coach Young was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1999.

  • George Mans (Michigan asst. coach: 1966-1973)
Coach Mans was one of only two assistant coaches from Bump Elliott's staff that Bo retained when he became the head man at Michigan in 1969. As a player, Mans had been the captain of the 1961 team. He served on Bo's staff for five seasons before becoming the Head Coach at Eastern Michigan University in 1974.

  • Larry Smith (Michigan asst. coach: 1969-1972)
Coach Smith came to Michigan with Bo in 1969 from Miami (OH) University. He served on the Wolverines' staff for four seasons before departing for the University of Arizona to be the Defensive Coordinator under fellow Michigan assistant Jim Young who was hired to be the Wildcats' head coach. Coach Smith went on to become Head Coach at four major college programs [i.e., Tulane (1976-1979); Univ. of Arizona (1980-1986); Univ. of Southern Cal (1987-1992); and Univ. of Missouri (1994-2000)]. Coach Smith is best remembered for leading USC to three consecutive Rose Bowl games in his first three years as the Head Coach at USC. In fact, Coach Smith beat his mentor Bo Schembechler in the 1990 Rose Bowl Game which was the last game of Bo's storied career.

Of all 36 assistants who ever worked under Bo at Michigan, Coach Moeller probably had the most long standing relationship. As a player, Moeller was the Captain of the 1962 Ohio State team on which Bo served as an assistant coach under Woody Hayes. In 1967 & 1968, Moeller served as an assistant coach under Bo at Miami (OH) University and Moeller came with Bo to Michigan in 1969. Coach Moeller became the Wolverines' Defensive Coordinator in 1973 after Jim Young left to become the Head Coach at the Univ. of Arizona. Moeller coached the Wolverines' defense to four stellar seasons before taking his first head coaching position. He became the Head Coach at the University of Illinois in 1977 and promptly lost his first game of his head coaching career to Bo when Michigan beat the Fighting Illini 37-9 to open the 1977 season. Moeller remained with Illinois for three seasons before re-joining Bo's staff at Michigan in 1980 as the quarterbacks coach. When Moeller returned, he brought with him one of his assistant coaches from Illinois. That assistant coach was Lloyd Carr. In 1982, Moeller resumed his duties as Michigan's Defensive Coordinator. In 1987, Moeller switched sides of the ball and became the Wolverines' Offensive Coordinator for Bo's final three seasons as head coach (i.e., 1987-1989). In 1990, Moeller ascended to the head coaching position at Michigan as the anointed successor to Coach Schembechler. Moeller led the Wolverines for five seasons and guided them to a win in the 1993 Rose Bowl Game versus Washington.

  • Chuck Stobart (Michigan asst. coach: 1969-1976)
Coach Stobart was another one of the assistant coaches who was on Bo's first Michigan staff in 1969. Coach Stobart worked under Bo at Miami (OH) University and followed Coach Schembechler to Michigan where Stobart worked on staff for eight seasons. In 1977, Coach Stobart became the Head Coach at the University of Toledo. His 1981 team went 9-3 and won the MAC title. The following season Coach Stobart became the Head Coach at Utah where he stayed for 3 seasons. He later became the Head Coach at Memphis where he coached from 1989-1994.

  • Don Nehlen (Michigan asst. coach: 1977-1979)
Coach Nehlen was hired by Bo in 1977 to replace the departed Chuck Stobart who took the head coaching job at the University of Toledo. Coach Nehlen came to the Wolverines with head coaching experience as he helmed Bowling Green University for the nine previous seasons (1968-1976) where he compiled a 53-35-4 record. However, it was in the three seasons under Bo that Coach Nehlen would learn the techniques and philosophy that were an integral part of his approach in his next head coaching job. Coach Nehlen became the Head Coach at West Virginia University in 1980 and he had a tremendously successful 21-year run. Twice during his head coaching tenure at WVU, the Mountaineers went through the regular season undefeated (1988 & 1993). Of note is the fact that Michigan's new head coach, Rich Rodriguez, played for Coach Nehlen as a defensive back and won three letters (1982-1984). Coach Nehlen was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2005. Coach Nehlen authored a book titled "Don Nehlen's Tales from the West Virginia Sideline" that chronicles his coaching career at WVU.
  • Bill McCartney (Michigan asst. coach: 1974-1981)

Coach McCartney was hired by Bo to join the Michigan staff right from the high school coaching ranks. McCartney had been coaching at Dearborn Divine Child High School where his teams won state titles in both football (1971 & 1973) and basketball (1973). In 1977, Coach McCartney was named the Wolverines' Defensive Coordinator to replace the departed Coach Moeller who took the head coaching position at Illinois. Coach McCartney, a Riverview Community High School (RCHS) graduate, was only 36-years old at the time Bo tapped him to be the Defensive Coordinator. After a tremendously successful five year run as DC, Coach McCartney was hired by Colorado to be its head coach. Coach McCartney led Colorado from 1982-1994 and he guided his team to the AP National Championship title in 1990.

Coach Harbaugh was in charge of the defensive backfield during his seven-year stint on Bo's coaching staff. Coach Harbaugh was later named the Head Coach at Western Michigan University in 1982 where he replaced Elliot Uzelac who then joined Bo's staff. However, Coach Harbaugh is probably best known as the father of legendary Michigan QB Jim Harbaugh. Back in the 70s, Coach Harbaugh would take his son Jim to Michigan practices and Jim even worked as a ball boy during games. Jim Harbaugh, of course, went on to be an All-American QB at Michigan under Coach Schembechler. Also, Jim is now the Head Coach at Stanford University.

  • Elliot Uzelac (Michigan asst. coach: 1982-1986)

Coach Uzelac, like Coach Nehlen, was hired by Bo after having left a head coaching position at a MAC school. Coach Uzelac was the head coach at WMU from 1975-1981. Interestingly, Coach Uzelac was replaced at WMU by former Michigan asst. coach Jack Harbaugh. Coach Uzelac worked under Bo for 5 seasons before taking the head coaching job at Navy where he led the program for three seasons (1987-1989).

Coach Cameron was on Bo's staff for Coach Schembechler's final three seasons. He remained on staff when Coach Moeller became the Head Coach at Michigan in 1990. Coach Cameron was on the Wolverines' staff for a total of seven seasons. He was named the Head Coach at his alma mater Indiana University in 1997 where he served from 1997-2001. Also, Coach Cameron has worked in the NFL as a head coach as he was the Miami Dolphins Head Coach in 2007.

  • Les Miles (Michigan asst. coach: 1980-1981 & 1987-1994)

Coach Miles not only was an assistant under Bo but he also played for him in the mid-'70s. Miles was a two-year letterwinner (1974 & 1975). Miles had two coaching stints with the Wolverines totaling 10 seasons. Coach Miles was first hired as a head coach by Oklahoma State where he served from 2001-2004. In 2005, Miles became the Head Coach at LSU and in 2007 he guided the Tigers to the National Championship title. In doing so, Miles became the third former asst. coach of Bo Schembechler to guide a team to the national title.

Coach Carr had served as an asst. coach for Illinois Head Coach Gary Moeller for two seasons (1978 & 1979) before Coach Moeller re-joined the Wolverines' staff in 1980. Both Bill McCartney, who graduated from the same high school as Carr, and Moeller recommended to Bo that he hire Carr on staff. Bo hired Carr and the rest, as they say, is history. It is worth noting, however, that Head Coach Carr led the Wolverines to the AP National Championship title in 1997.

Go Blue!

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Thursday, July 03, 2008

Kevin Grady arrested on suspicion of OWI

As reported in the Grand Rapids Press, running back Kevin Grady was pulled over on Wednesday, July 2, 2008 while allegedly driving with a BAC of .281%. The ultimate tailgater Frankie, who knows something about knocking back a couple of pops, lends his expert analysis re: the situation over at UMTailgate.com. (Besides, checking out the post will give you an opportunity to see the newly re-designed UMTailgate.com if you have not seen it yet. It is sweet.) Go Blue!

*NOTE: Photo of Kevin Grady (3) is a Grand Rapids Press file photo.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

TIme, TV announced for first 3 games of 2008 season

The time and television networks have been announced for the first three games of the 2008 Michigan Football season. The first three games are set to kickoff as follows:
  • Aug. 30 vs. Utah @ 3:30 p.m. EDT on ABC.
  • Sept. 6 vs. Miami (OH) @ Noon EDT on either ESPN/ESPN2.
  • Sept. 13 at Notre Dame @ 3:30 p.m. EDT on NBC.

Go Blue!