Thursday, June 26, 2008

programming update 6-26-08

Next time i will get a chance, i will finally get a chance to start my Big Ten rivalry essays in metaphor format. It will read something like this.

Ohio State = Neighborhood redneck bully
Michigan State = your sports rival relative
Penn State = old senile war vet
Minnesota = washed up old rock star
Wisconsin = your alcoholic arm wrestling uncle
Iowa = dangerous schizophrenic
Purdue = cranky guy (not sure if he's young or old)
Northwestern = prissy dude who hates sports
Chicago = prissy dude who hates sports more
Illinois = weird dudes who for the most part don't do much, but do stuff every once in a while
Indiana = basketball player who eschews football
Notre Dame = rich dude with a major superiority complex in regards to you.

P.S. I'm writing these all from the perspective of Michigan.



weekly update 6-26-08

Sorry i haven't posted in a while i've been at work.

The winged helmets on ice just released a new schedule for the 2008-2009 season. As you already know, what i would like to talk about here is what games are likely to be covered by WOLV.

October 10-11 vs. St. Lawrence

This series rests on the same weekend as the Toledo game and will not likely conflict as far as time is concerned with that game. However if the athletic department is interested in getting us to cover the saturday game we may have trouble finding a crew who will be ready that day. If we do, we may have to bend a few rules regarding dress code, to enable our crew to not have to go home and change before the game like we normally do. However it would be a great honor for us to do the opening two games of the regular season, especially if, as rumored, this turns out to be Red Berenson's last season at Michigan.

Thursday October 23 vs. Niagara.

This game is an anomaly because: a.) it's a game on thursday. b.) it's right before Michigan makes a trip to Boston to play BU. I'm not sure what the chances are of CBS college sports coming into to broadcast this game, but something tells me they may not be likely. However stranger things have happened and i'm not going to assume anything at this point. This game should be a great matchup with Niagara facing off against a Porter-less Wolverine team, considering that Porter scored four of Michigan's five goals, it should be a much more interesting game compared to in the NCAA tournament.

October 31-November 1 vs. Ohio State

The only reason why WOLV has a shot at broadcasting this game is because Ohio State is not that good of a hockey team, and not that big of a following compared to ours. I would love nothing more than to broadcast a game like this. However it is highly unlikely because of FSN Detroit's interest in the CCHA and the Big Ten Network's potential interest in doing hockey in the stead of Comcast Local.

Friday November 14 vs. Western Michigan

This will probably go to us because the simple fact is there probably won't be much interest from other networks to do this game, it should be a good game to watch though. Michigan will undoubtedly be the favorite in this game, unfortunately it is highly unlikely that we will get to interview Rich Rodriguez this year because he will probably be preparing the team for the Northwestern game the next day.

Friday January 16 vs. Bowling Green

The reason why you won't see Hockey Night on WOLV TV via Mgoblue for two months is because the college hockey showcase is the last weekend in november, and the last series in before the GLI is a home and home against Michigan State, which will obviously be on television. This is all sandwiched between two series with Miami (Ohio) which will undoubtedly be televised. Bowling Green will come into this game with a lot of questions concerning their offense considering that they lost Dereck Whitmore to graduation this past season. They will however be much tougher defensively which could make this a battle to watch.

February 6-7 vs. Lake Superior State

Given the decline of Laker hockey in the last couple of years i would not be surprised to get one of these games, but not both. It is likely that FSN Detroit will probably broadcast one and we at WOLV will do the other. This will be kind of sentimental for me, because the first hockey broadcast i worked was an overtime loss to Lake St. So for sentimental reasons, i hope the maize and blue redeem themselves against Team Sweden.

February 13-14 vs. Nebraska-Omaha

Yes, this time you'll hear "Charles in Charge the sideline reporter" as the announcer, i guarantee it. If the folks at WOLV don't let me do play-by-play for this one the critics would have won a decisive battle.

I didn't include any road games or games against Miami, Michigan State or Notre Dame, and for good reason, there is no way in heaven or hell that WOLV will do any of those games this season unless some divine miracle happens.

With the end of comcast local it is highly possible that you might see a substantial amount of Hockey Night on WOLV TV presented by Host Communications this upcoming season.



Sunday, June 15, 2008

Coaching Transitions Part 2: From Bump to Bo.

Although 1969 is considered the turning point for the Michigan football program, and understandably so, there was truly not much of a difference in the playing style from Bump to Bo. The real transition was not for Michigan football in 1969 but for the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry.

The transition for Michigan actually happened in 1968 when track and field coach Don Canham was hired as Athletic Director replacing Fritz Crisler after his twenty years of service to the University. If Kipke's weakness had been defending the single wing, then Crisler's weakness was revealed not by him as a coach, but by him as an athletic director in his inability to get consistent TV coverage for games. Although he got started on the right foot by improving the press box to then modern standards and having the first game of that season vs. UCLA broadcast nationally. However after that season he failed to follow up on ways of getting people to watch the games on television, and by the mid 60s the only Michigan game that was consistently televised every year was the Michigan-Michigan State game, and normally that was only carried on local Detroit stations.

This eventually became a major problem in Michigan's ability to recruit great players, and although they were able to have some good teams under Bump Eliot, namely the 1964 team that won the Rose Bowl, they had an extremely hard time competing with Woody and Duffy (from MSU) for recruits because these recruits could see MSU and OSU on TV but they couldn't see U of M and the winged helmets in the big house.

Unfortunately that was only one problem in football recruiting at Michigan, the other was more psychological. Fritz Crisler could be a truly fiery coach at times during his heyday in the 40s, the same could not be said for Bennie Oosterbaan his successor. Although at 6'9" he towered over most of his players, he didn't intimidate them and was generally considered a nice guy. Although this might be a good thing for a job interview it became a liability during the fifties in the Big Ten in a time when increasingly it was the nice guys who finished last. Woody Hayes was hired at that school in Columbus in 1951 and in three years had won a national championship. Michigan State had just joined the Big Ten in 1950 and two years later won their only undisputed national championship in football. Two years later they hired Duffy who would later go onto say, "A tie isn't like kissing your sister, it's worse." And most surprisingly there was the sudden emergence of Iowa under Evy who famously shyed away from his mentor Crisler's offensive oriented approach into a more defensive mindset that sent him and the Hawkeyes to two Rose Bowls in three years during the 50s.

Michigan was in need of a coach with personality when Bennie quit in 1958 after ten years as head coach to become the head of Alumni Relations. Bump Eliot had a mediocre season in 1959 with one extremely important win that insured that he would stick around, a 23-14 victory over Woody and Ohio State in the Big House in film footage here.

Unfortunately this game was not televised, and the Wolverines had a dismal record in rivalry games under Bump going 3-7 against Ohio State and 2-7-1 against Michigan State. When Don Canham came in before the 1968 season things would change, although getting TV coverage for every game would take some time, he did get national coverage of both rivalry games that year. One of these games ended up helping tip the balance of instate recruiting in favor of the Wolverines over the Spartans.

In 1967 we went 4-6 and the average attendance for games at the big house was a pathetic 67,000, the only bright spot we had was a junior running back named Ron Johnson who had just ran for the first 1,000 yard season in school history.

After a loss against Cal to start the season the Wolverines had won three straight but were still unranked going into their matchup with the Spartans in Ann Arbor. The Spartans for their part were undefeated and ranked number 12 in the nation at the time. In this game we showcased the hard powerful running of Ron Johnson who blew through the State defense for 153 yards and a touchdown. That was not one of the three miracles of this game however, the three miracles were:

1.) That it sold out (the Tigers were in the world series at the time and neither football team had a great previous season).

2.) It was nationally televised, the networks could have easily ignored this rivalry which had been so lopsided in favor of Michigan State at the time.

3.) Michigan won.

Michigan would win eight straight before meeting the number two ranked Buckeyes in the infamous 1968 game. If there can be any justification for the pounding that we received in that matchup it is this, Bump's boys had beaten Woody's nuts in 64 and 66 the last two times we had played them in Columbus at the time. For Woody the two point conversion was sending a message to us that the Horseshoe was his turf.

The Ohio State game ended up embarrassing Bump to the point of resignation, contrary to rumors Canham did not fire Bump for being an inconsistent coach, he would later say, "Bump had an 8-2 record my first year as AD, anybody could've lived with that."

This time Canham knew exactly what the football team needed to continue their sudden success, and more importantly fill the stands. They needed a coach with personality along the lines of Woody, Bear, and Joe Pa.

With Woody and Bear firm into their jobs the next best candidate was Joe Pa, whom we actively pursued while he was preparing Penn State for an appearance in the Orange Bowl. The negotiations went nowhere fast. The next person on the list was Evy, many Michigan alum figured the former Michigan player and Iowa coach turned AD felt like he owed something to his alma mater. Evy, who was comfortable in his position with the Hawkeyes at the time, felt no such obligation.

When we finally hired Bo, we were hiring a nobody. He was the coach at Miami(Ohio), who had to have been very upset to see him leave. Not only was he an alumni of the school, he left at a time when the MAC conference had just been guaranteed a spot in a bowl game for the first time (the Citrus Bowl). Miami had finished second in the conference in 68 and was expected to challenge for the title again next year. Without the enigmatic Schembechler at the helm, the Redskins probably felt shorthanded, and for good reason they wouldn't win the conference again until 1973. But their loss was our gain and by that year every Michigan football game was being televised at least locally.

I could go on about what Bo did as a coach and his successes and failures, but i won't because virtually everyone who reads this blog either knows, or can find out for themselves elsewhere in a much more eloquent way than i can put it.

Bump became the associate AD at Michigan in 1969 and received the game ball from the Ohio State game that year from Bo for recruiting all the players who had helped win that game for him. In 1970 Bump took Evy's job as AD at Iowa and after several years of trying, finally hired a great coach in Mr. porno-stache himself, Hayden Fry, who ended the "Big Two and Little Eight" years of the Big Ten by earning a Rose Bowl berth for the Hawks in 1981.

On Bo's style: the type of football that had been played under Bump was quite possibly even more run oriented than Bo's. However seeing that Michigan games weren't on TV under Bump, we all grew up knowing Bo as a running heavy coach. To his credit he did eventually learn how to balance the attack in the late 70s and early 80s, and he knew that the key to have an effective running game was to have a good passing game to keep the opposing team honest.

His first several years we didn't have a good quarterback, but were still able to have success without throwing the ball much. It is quite possible we may see something similar this upcoming season under Rich Rod.



Thursday, June 12, 2008

Coaching Transitions: Part 1; Kipke to Crisler

With Rich Rod being the first Michigan football coach from "outside the family" since Bo, i decided to do a historical recap of the two times since the advent of Fielding Yost that Michigan has gone to a football coach from outside of the family, not including Yost of course. I will try to get as much information in as humanly possible.

If you think that posts about history are boring; bite me. Those who fail to understand the past will not have a good future.

In my opinion the transition from Harry Kipke to Fritz Crisler is more similar to the transition happening now than from Bump to Bo. Because at the time we had lost four straight games to the Buckeyes and we were implementing a new offensive system.

Harry Kipke was a former player under Yost from 1921-23, an All-American halfback who won a national championship his senior season. When he took over the Wolverines in 1929 we had just seen our coach at the time Tad Wieman (another one of Yost's former players) bolt after having a losing season in 1928. After a mediocre first season in which players had trouble adjusting to playing in the Big Ten, Kipke won at least a share of four straight Big Ten titles including national championships in 1932 and 1933.

Kipke's system of play was known as, a punt, a pass, and a prayer. He also apparently coined the phrase, "A great defense is a great offense." On offense his teams were renowned for their ability to throw the ball, this was largely thanks to their large handed quarterback at the time Harry Newman. At the time this was incredibly remarkable, and not just because of the "taboo" of throwing the football, as Bryan of mgoblog has so eloquently put it, about the pre-modern days of college football. The fact was prior to World War II the ball itself was much rounder in diameter than it is today, making it harder to grasp with one hand let alone throw. At the time throwing the ball consistently required not just a large handed quarterback, but it required the receivers to have large hands as well in order to catch it and come down with it.

The two shortcomings of Kipke became apparent after most of 1933 National Championship team graduated. He was unable to recruit anybody who could throw the ball as well as Newman after that, although he did recruit Tom Harmon (more on that later). The second great shortcoming was Kipke's inability to get his teams to defend against the single-wing offense.

Although nowadays the single wing is regarded as an old school running heavy formation in the 1930s single wing was regarded as a "razzle-dazzle" offense in which several programs in the east, including Princeton under Fritz Crisler learned how to have consistent passing attacks who had had undefeated seasons in 1933 and 1935. Interestingly enough, in my opinion, visually it looked a lot like the spread offense, only with four backs instead of four receivers.

The bread and butter play of the single wing was the end-around run. And it was used to perfection by our two main rivals at the time and their enigmatic coaches, Ohio State's Francis Schmidt (who had brought it with him from Texas Christian) and Minnesota's Bernie Bierman. Both of these teams had beaten us four times in a row and it was clear that Michigan needed a change in direction.

When AD Yost hired Crisler, at the time it was one of the biggest coups in the athletic department's history. We had just stolen an established coach from out east from an established program to come to a team that was struggling. What ended up happening was Crisler got a guarantee from Yost that he would take over as AD once Yost retired, a detail that didn't come out into the public till some time later.

Although the team had been really struggling as of late, Crisler saw great potential in three of the then incoming sophomores (freshman were ineligible to play) onto the team, Tom Harmon, Paul Kromer and Forest Evashevski. Harmon and Kromer would become known as the touchdown twins the next season. Of course we all know that Harmon later won the Heisman in 1940. Evashevski (or Evy as he was commonly known) was initially recruited to play center, but was switched to quarterback under Crisler a daring move that paid dividends as he went all-Big Ten as a "blocking back" in the single wing system. Later he would become the coach at Iowa and would eventually be a candidate for Michigan's coaching job in 1969 (stay tuned for part 2 for details.)

Although Michigan wouldn't win the Little Brown Jug under Crisler until 1943 when we finally did take the jug back we didn't relinquish it for ten years straight. The winged helmets (which Crisler himself added for the receivers to be distinguished from defenders on passing plays) had much more success against the Buckeyes under Crisler beating them three times in a row in his first three seasons, two of them shutouts IN COLUMBUS. Crisler's coaching career culminated with a win in the 1948 Rose Bowl in the second year in which the Big Ten was guaranteed a spot. Michigan had gone undefeated that year and finished the regular season ranked number two in a very close vote to Notre Dame. When we beat USC 49-0 in Pasadena, the AP took a then unprecedented postseason poll in which Michigan was overwhelmingly voted number one. The Irish, were not pleased with this outcome and made Crisler's boycott of playing Notre Dame from 1943 consensual until 1978.

Crisler became de-facto AD during World War II with Yost beginning to increasingly feel the affects of old age. He was officially hired as AD in 1948 upon his retirement as head coach and stayed there for twenty years, until Don Canham, who would be a big figure in part two.

And what about Kipke? He became a regent of the University before going into business, eventually becoming an executive with Coca-Cola.



Tuesday, June 10, 2008

weekly update 6-10

I'll cut to the chase this time.

The NCAA has made some rule changes for hockey in this upcoming season among them are that all face offs are going to be on a dot, and more importantly four officials on the ice and OPTIONAL SHOOTOUTS!!!!!

To the former point, from the perspective of a TV man i don't agree with this, it's bad enough having three officials especially if one is standing in the corner where you happen to have a camera hooked up. One time i was performing my duties as a cameraman at Yost for WOLV TV in a game against Alaska, my camera was in the right corner in front of the main entrance at Yost facing the goal where Michigan defends in the first and third periods (i.e. to the left of section 109) During this power play one of the officials skated over to the corner to get a better view and stood right in front of my tripod held camera.

I yelled at him to get out of the way, but to no avail. Fortunately for me, nobody scored during that power play and he eventually moved. Now i know darn well that there are ways of getting around such a situation without the refs getting in the way, as a matter of fact, we've prevented anything from happening like that again. However in my opinion four refs mean they can be more in the way. Not just for the cameras either as Mark Mitera recalls from the Miami game in which he tripped over an official's leg as a Redhawk player went for a breakaway.

I do, however, see a benefit for this from a fan's perspective. There will be less of an opportunity for players to get away with blatant penalties. Under normal circumstances i'm a fan of letting the players play on, but in cases like the series against Northern Michigan at Yost, there have to be exceptions. Sometimes the players can get too physical to the point that it seems like they're trying to hurt the other team's players and hopefully with four officials this will not happen.

Now to the part that's on everybody's minds. SHOOTOUTS!!!!!!!

I'm not going to pretend to know what Red Berenson thinks about having shootouts in college hockey, i know that several coaches in Hockey East and the ECAC, namely Jerry York, have been lobbying for this change. However i don't know whether it would really benefit Berenson to allow a shootout to end a game and risk a loss.

From a television perspective, i love it. If i am the announcer to any game that ends up in a shootout i will start throwing out all the spaghetti-western references that the Michigan Wolverine fans can handle, including:


If i could actually cue the intro to The Good The Bad and The Ugly at WOLV that would be awesome too, but i'm not getting my hopes up.

As a fan of Michigan i'm not a hundred percent certain in Billy Sauer's ability to stand tall in a shootout, it will all depend on the opposing team and the opposing goalie's abilities as well. I know personally, if i were Red Berenson and i were faced with a tie game against Northern Michigan i would not want to go into a shootout with Bryan Stewart. He's like the man with no name.

Hopefully, there won't be too many situations where there needs to be a shootout, personally i didn't think there were nearly as many tie games in college hockey as there were in the NHL when they adopted the rule, but whatever.



Saturday, June 7, 2008

Red Wings give something for the state of michigan to cheer about.

I seriously wish i didn't have to work the day we won the cup because i felt like really celebrating. Seeing all the videos on the free press website it really means something. I was at the celebration in 2002, watched the game at the Fox with my dad, and the rest of the night turned out to be really special because when we went outside it was as if the whole town had shown up in solidarity with the team. This year it had to have been different, there were fans outside of hockeytown cafe chanting Detroit Hockey as a tribute to the Pistons who got the Murphys Dropkicked out of them by the Celtics. I was really hoping for two championships this year because lord knows this city needs them in these times.

As i've said before i'm not rich, i'm not benifitting from this economic situation. And i have to tell you it's damn hard to sell anything when it seems like half the town is either taking the buyout and moving or is looking for a new job. Then there's the mayor, who's making the city look so bad he gets booed at a celebratory parade.



But i'm not here to dwell on politics i want to talk about happy times and how the Wings won the cup. They won it with a true showing of teamwork and not depending on one single man to win the game. They won every game as a team and they celebrated as a team, that's what Pittsburgh is going to have to learn.

Hey Crosby may be the face of the league, but if the Pens want to get over that hump to kiss Lord Stanley's Cup they have to invest in the same type of team that the Red Wings have.

Also, anybody who doesn't thing the Wings play physical enough hockey clearly didn't see game two of the finals in which Pavel Datsuyk jumped on top of a Penguin player and started pounding him.

P.S. Wings fans should start incorporating some of the Yost chants at the Joe, it would really do something for the atmosphere.



Tuesday, June 3, 2008

programming update: June 4, 2008

Sorry for the extremely long period of time in between posts on my blog, i figure that i owe you an explanation:

Although i am a University of Michigan student, therefore putting me in an elite category for intellectuals in the United States (in a manner of speaking). I have made some bad decisions in the past, bad decisions that have left me financially strained. In the last couple of weeks since i last posted, i have taken a new job, one at a factory where i pack produce, it doesn't pay well but it has long hours and a steady paycheck, plus they bus you from the temp agency to the plant, so i save money on gas. My previous job which made me absolutely no money, but still left me time to do updates on the blog every week, was a commission sales job, enough said.

Anyways, with my new summer job being taken into account, i will probably be lucky to get in a post every week, but i will say this, it will be memorable, i guarantee it.

Seeing as that all the other Michigan blogs have posted about the NCAA baseball tournament, i will just say this, the Wolverine Nine was probably the only team in Michigan that didn't get screwed by the officials that week, unfortunately they got screwed by mother nature. This just goes to show how mad people are in the state of Michigan, more on that once the Red Wings win the Stanley Cup.