Thursday, January 24, 2008

Hantachova vs Sharapova

Barring a great comeback, Daniela Hantuchova will play Maria Sharapova in the 2008 Australian Open finals at Rod Laver Arena. A matchup repeat of the 2006 finals in Melbourne. A preview of what you'll see:

Daniela Hantuchova:

And, Maria Sharapova:

And, in the case of an epic comeback, it's possible that we'd see Ana Ivanovic:


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

WVU Meltdown -- The Australian Waters Syndrome

The Charleston Gazette reported that the WVA athletic department has accused Rich Rod of destroying school and personal player records with his video editor after returning to WVA from Michigan after his formal introduction in A2 as Michigan's head coach. A couple of the more poignant quotes from the Gazette:

West Virginia officials are wondering if assistant coaches aren’t all that Rich Rodriguez took with him to Michigan. They believe he may also have destroyed all or most of the paperwork files relating to every player on the current Mountaineer roster and virtually all of the activities conducted by the program over the past seven years.

Let's consider that statement, for the mere time it might take Charlie Weis to scarf down a bucket of Spot's wings. West Virgina officials actually thinking is quite an endeavor for them, especially if the reporter is actually referring to ol' Eddy Pastilong. Second, they "believe" R2 "may have" destroyed all or "most of the paperwork files". What!? To believe is not fact. It is simply a thought, with or without merit, mind all of you, that something occurred. Further qualified by the "may" as in, well you know we kind of think that someone might have destroyed files. You are kidding right? These WVA officials "went public" with something they think might have happened, but aren't so sure? And why the reference to "paperwork files". Is this a tacit admission that they still have all of the "electronic version files" of the same documents?

Let's consider this story even further:
Most disturbing, though, is the absence of all of the players’ personal files, which included, among other things, contact information, scholarship money awarded, class attendance records and records on personal conduct and community service, be it positive or negative.

Mr. Pastilong, you unnamed source you, cannot be serious. Does WVA really, truly, honest abe, actually expect anyone to believe that the only records for a Div 1A program's athletes scholarships, class attendance, and disciplinary records are contained in the private office files of its head coach? Does WVA have a compliance coordinator? Maybe not. You can actually apply for the position here.

As an example of what other schools do, here is link to the Maryland Athletic Department compliance staff, which actually contains descriptions of duties and responsibilities for various aspects of compliance. Just in case you couldn't write your own, Ed.

Mike Brown is R2's agent. He issued a nonresponse response this afternoon. The Freep and Jim Carty picked that up. There was also a follow up by Angelique here. Interesting quote from a phone converation between Angelique:

"I have to question the source of this information, or may I put it more correctly, misinformation," Brown said Tuesday night in a telephone interview. "This is a continued effort of misinformation and statements that are untrue made by people involved at West Virginia University since Rich left."

And, or course,

Rodriguez will not comment on the legal proceedings, Brown said. Brown, however, said aspects of the suit will be publicly discussed at the appropriate time


ESPN is reporting more than mere misinformation, which is what Mike Brown mentioned to Angelique. Brown states that many of the statements are downright false. This is good. Quote from Brown:

"The head coach and each assistant coach received hard copies of the strength progress," he said. "So I would think coach [Bill] Stewart and others would have those, too."

And, each assistant coach received copies of all player performance files, so Bill There a Still in My Backyard Stewart would have copies of the information allegedly taken.

Brown does implicitly acknowledge, however, that some personal files were taken by R2 from his office:

"The head coach and each assistant coach received hard copies of the strength progress," he said. "So I would think coach [Bill] Stewart and others would have those, too."

This, or course, is not surprising or unusual. It is not illegal. And, it is maybe, or maybe not, a violation of that employment contract we keep hearing about. It will be interesting if the information taken, if any, by R2 relates to his position that WVU did not perform its obligtions under his employment contract. He may intend to use this information in connection with the suit.

Update Number 2:

Mlive has significantly more than ESPN last night in its story today. Mike Brown did specifically point out WVU serious compliance issues in his phone remarks last night, going as far as to say that if the Gazette story was true it was indicative of "serious institutional control" issues. Well, yeah, and as of October they didn't even have a compliance director for day to day operations, leaving that activity to two assistant A.D's. Ooops. WVU looks worse everytime "Unnamed Source" Pastilong opens his mouth.

Update Number 3:

The WVU admissions office denies the forever lost story put out there by Eddy Unnamed Source Pastilong here.

University spokeswoman Amy Neil said the WVU Office of Admissions and Records maintains grade and attendance records in a separate location, so no student-athlete's academic career is at risk.

"We're not sure what records are missing, but all student records, including those of the football team, are kept within the Office of Admissions and Records," she said. "Those records are secure."

Neil said she believes it would not be unusual for the head coach to have copies of his own records to ensure players are maintaining their required grade-point averages or meeting scholarship requirements.

Mike Brown, Rodriguez's agent, has said Moutaineers head coach Bill Stewart, as a former assistant, should have copies of each players' strength and conditioning tests because multiple copies were made. He also said the university should have any records involving the finances of the summer camps it ran.

And, though the article is a bit stale from the days after Rich Rodriguez was hired, the substance of the quotes of at least one major donor seem very appropriate in light of this week's shananigans:

Earl G. ‘‘Ken’’ Kendrick Jr., part owner of the Arizona Diamondbacks and significant financial donor to the university, are demanding accountability for what former employees have termed ‘‘a very, very unappealing work environment.’’

‘‘That environment is directly related to those (people) leaving,’’ Kendrick said. ‘‘As of (Wednesday) when I spoke out, I’ve begun to get e-mails from former employees (of the WVU athletic department). They said, ‘Thank you, finally somebody sees our pain.’ ”

‘‘One side shouldn’t be the only side the public hears,’’ Kendrick said. ‘‘If there is more than one side — in this case I think there is — it should be told. I am not embarrassed about shining a light on this area.

‘‘It’s very clear to some of us, there’s a lack of institutional control and good management practices within the athletic department. The institution needs to move forward. Do we want to leave that in the same hands?”

Here are some of the points it made, according to Kendrick:

There’s no business plan; no tactical plan; the department doesn’t give any reviews of its employees, meaning there’s little opportunity for advancement as he sees it; there are no staff meetings; it doesn’t have a human resources function; it doesn’t do any employee training; and it doesn’t allow employees to go to off-site training facilities.

‘‘They came away with some very, very strong recommendations,’’ Kendrick said. ‘‘If the university can do anything with something like this, it needs change.

Wow. Does that explanation, given on December 20 accurately foreshadow the shred-gate? I think so.

This meltdown, which some might call the China Syndrome, may actually burn beyond the center of the earth, past the gravity point, and straight to the Australian Waters of the Indian Ocean.

The Ghost of Gerry Faust

We cannot pass up this opportunity to belittle (yeah, right!) Charlie the Big Tuna Weis. I recevied this youtube from a friend. It's pretty classic. When you have a worse record than a high school coach at ND, I think you deserve this:

It's In The Game!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

WOLV TV: Great job guys. They interviewed R2 on their "show". Favorite movie: Gladiator. Really guys, nice work.

Buckstache Alert

James Jahnke wants extra tickets to Oohi State Games. He says Terrelle Pryor would be better becoming a buckeye than a Wolverine. His rationale is pretty dim. Like this:

Rich Rodriguez’s zone-read offense is tailor-made for Pryor.

And this:

The other advantage for a quarterback avoiding a straight-up zone-read offense is longevity. Every time Pryor runs the ball, he risks blowing out his knee. He would, of course, also run at OSU, but not as much as at U-M. You can get hurt in the pocket, too, but it’s much safer in there than out on the edge, trying to juke safeties and linebackers diving at your legs every play.

And, what?
If he were to attend OSU, he’d probably back up incumbent Todd Boeckman next fall, playing a series here and there and causing havoc in the red zone. Then, after Boeckman graduates, the offense is all his in 2009. Sound like Tim Tebow’s career to anyone.

Oh yeah, and this gem:
This will be mostly a business decision for Pryor. If he wants to start right away, it’s Ann Arbor. But if he wants to groom himself for an NFL future – and know what it’s like to win the last game of the regular season – it’s Columbus.

Of all of this fantastic rationale, the only one with any shred of truth is the last. I mean, if Terrelle Pryor is really interested in a "business decision" like, for instance. Maurice Claurette, he would certainly choose to attend Tosu. Hey Terrelle, if you are looking for cash the next 3 years, go to Tosu.

And, one other thing, This Janke fellow, turns out he's an unabashed Tosu apologist, AND a Spartan. Wow. No wonder he wants Pryor to attend Tosu:

When the MSU football team beat top-ranked Ohio State in 1998, I cried for two days. I walked around campus with my head down for the rest of the month, muttering under my breath how ironic it was that my own school ruined everything for me and my favorite team.

Last football season, I stood like a pillar of Buckeye hope, smack dab in the middle of the Spartan student section. My student section. The place where I have held season tickets during my entire collegiate career.

Nice objectivity, friend. Good to see you let us know your unbiased opinion in your crap article. Thanks to Chris Burke for pointing out the bias.

New Weight Room

Mark Snyder has a good article in today's freep here on Barwis. Barwis sounds intense. Word of warning, don't be late to practice:

"Our previous strength and conditioning coach didn't do half of what Barwis did. I don't want to say it was a joke, but with that coach before, if we were late for a workout by a few minutes, we'd have to do 10 up-downs. If we were half a minute late for a Barwis workout, we'd have to do a tire workout, extra conditioning and put on heavy vests and run the stadium steps for as long as he wanted.

Michigan replaced all of the existing equipment, as you've heard. And, apparently Barwis is hard enough on players that some have left the WVU program. He hopes that doesn't happen here, and says the players are dedicated enough to make that realistic.

"In the past, people have moved away from the program because, historically, maybe it was a little too difficult for them or the workload was a little bit more than they wanted," Barwis said. "I hope that doesn't happen here. We've got tremendous athletes with great attitudes, and I don't think it's going to happen. If it does and it's too much for them, then the program comes first and the success of the program is what's important.

But, you can bet that there will be some attrition. Oh, and there will apparently be many that find the equipment pictured above useful:

"He would kill us all throughout the year," Serena said. "I would say, over the summer, that probably hurt you the most. You'd come back from home, and he would start the hypertrophy, the opposite of atrophy. It was very high reps and very little rest time. For us, it was the bench press for tight ends and linemen, four sets of 12. You'd get off the bench after one, do 10 clap push-ups, have about a minute rest, then go again.

"He'd strategically place garbage cans throughout weight rooms, because guys like myself would puke in them. It shocks your muscles into getting used to what's coming."

Thursday, January 10, 2008

More Terrelle Pryor

Now that Ryan Mallett is gone, the door now open to Terrelle Pryor to compete with Threet for the starting position next year, or at the likely minimum to platoon time with Threet. As of yesterday, Terrelle Pryor is supposedly down to Florida, Oregon, Tosu, Michigan (and Duke). Of the teams that actually run a spread (or version of it) that he would be comfortable in, the contenders get smaller: Michigan, Oregon and maybe Florida. Michigan was added, as you know, when it hired RRod.

On Dec. 16, the day that Rodriguez accepted the Wolverines' position, Pryor was driving to the local mall when he received a phone call from Rodriguez. "He showed me a lot of respect by saying I want you to know this before you see it on the news," says Pryor, who will play in the U.S. Army All-American game in San Antonio on Sunday. "I immediately considered Michigan again because of his [spread] offense."

Perhaps you read the quote a week or so ago that he didn't know who to trust, as in whether teams would really play the spread offense or not. Obviously he was referring to Tosu and to a lesser extent Florida. But he actually has come right out and expressed concern about Tosu in the past:

“That concerns me about Ohio State because they’ve never run an offense like the one we run at my high school or that they run at West Virginia, Florida, Oregon or other places. I’d like to see them run it first so I could believe they’ll change it but I’m obviously not going to get to see that so it creates doubt.”

the Rock of Journalistic Integrity as you may know it, the NYT Quad Blog, also notes the discrepancy between his addition of Oregon lately, where it did not appear only a couple weeks ago. Perhaps Oregon has simply taken WVU's spot. Or perhaps he's really down to Florida and Michigan. Either way, Oregon has been percolating on Pryor's list for some time. How seriously is anyone's guess -- though he has not visited (The only school which he has formally visited in Tosu).

This is taken from a Rivals board, and appears courtesy of In an old December 11 article in SI, he says:
"Oregon is now on my list," said the 6-foot-6, 235-pounder. "I spoke with coach Mike Bellotti this week when he came out to visit. I think he was in New York with Dennis Dixon for some award anyhow, but they've been recruiting me hard for a long time and I really like the offense. They run pretty much the same stuff that we do. I'm thinking about taking an official visit out there."

And, while Pryor doesn't expect to start August 30, 2008, he is interested, real surprise huh, in early playing time. Re Oregon:
"The quarterback situation out there looks pretty good as well. I don't believe anyone who tells me I'll play from snap one, that's just not the way it works but coach Bellotti never told me that, he was honest and up front."

He also says he's not going to announce until signing day:

"I don't have a leader right now, I'm staying open and I'm not going to decide until Signing Day. I still have some other visits to schedule. I might trip out to Oregon, I am looking at Florida and Tennessee and I've seen Penn State a lot so I'm just focusing on finishing our season undefeated."

Which he did. And here are some highlights, and an interview. The highlights are choppy, but there is a good touchdown catch by Pryor shown. The interview alone is worth the time. I won't spoil the youtube for you, but will say that I like the Jeanette Jayhawk offensive philosophy.

Crazy. A high school senior with his own football card.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Ricky Hollywood

Twenty Questions. Who would say this? The Man in Black. But who is this man in black:

"I was naive and reckless," he said. "I took some missteps that didn't need to be taken. . . . I was out there probably too flamboyant, too in-your-face, and if you get down to the core of it, probably insecure about going up against the guys like the Mack Browns and Tom Osbornes and John Mackovics -- the illustrious longtimers that had cut their teeth long before I'd gotten into the business. "I just didn't want anybody to think I was scared. I was going 100 mph. I just didn't want to look like I was going to back down. I just went too fast. . . . There was a time where, OK, they gave me the keys to the car and I'm going to drive it fast, instead of checking to make sure everything was in order." He said he began to get more comfortable in the job, however, and was a more mature -- and secure -- as the years passed.

Is it a male: yes. Is it someone related to football: yes. Is it a football player for a college team: well, surprisingly -- no. Well, sure, it must be pacman jones. Not so much.

While he sounds like an 19-23 year old kid, its actually a 46 year old coach. Who?

The guy UCLA just named its head man. Maybe that's good. Maybe not. Depends who you are. UCLA alumni, maybe so with the excitement of a new coach. UCLA administration, well maybe as excited as Michigan's administration would have been had Les Miles been hired here -- not at all. What about recruits? Probably not so much, at least if you're the father of an already somewhat immature 19 year old 6'7" quarterback named Ryan Mallett. Former quarterback named head coach = pretty good. Fomer cheater, gambler, and generally sleazy dude after going to Michigan where your coach is a pillar of society = uuugggh (Ryan, you're not serious, are you?)

Mallett and Loeffler to UCLA. . .

Not So Fast My Friend.

As I've said before, Mallett and Loeffler don't exactly see eye to eye (well, sure, figuratively and literally, Mallett being 6'7" and Loeffler 6'1" or so). The rumors of Mallett to UCLA with Ricky Hollywood from the Toledo Blade (only rumor here, no facts) seem plausible enough. Except that Loeffler has also been mentioned. In fact, the Loeffler rumor appears to have actual fact attached to it.

So, if there's any truth to the rumblings that Loeffler and Mallett aren't getting along, Mallett may not be transferring to UCLA. I hope not. I'd like to see him playing a Glenville State style Rodriguez "spread". You know, the kind that Henne just played against Florida.

The one that looks like Ryan Mallett's high school team:

Either way, look for Steven Threet to give Pryor and/or Mallett a run for the starter/platoon position. I look for RM to stay through spring ball and figure whether he can cut it. Of course, that would require some maturation on his part -- which according to Lloyd he may be starting to find. As Lloyd has so often said, 18 year olds will make mistakes. And Mallett, if you're reading this, you and you're dad should really look at the above youtube, while remembering that crazy scramble for TD this year vs. the JoPa Lions. Don't make the mistake to go play out west with Ricky Hollywood. Well, unless, you can't run an offense prolific at Glenville State.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

A Great Way to Send Out a Great Man

A Great Win!

I sat on the edge of my seat and screamed as loud as I do when in Michigan Stadium. And, in the end, a fantastic victory in a fantastic game. Great performances by Henne and Arrington and Trent and Brandon Graham. And a nice bowl win -- something we needed.

But, this game was about more than a bank sponsored bowl game. About more than the last game for Chad, Jake, Mike and Englemon (and maybe Arrington and Manningham). About more than Hart's career 5,000 yards. About more than assistant coaches going out with a resume builder. About more than the final score (41-35, Crier). This game, after consecutive losses to an ohio state university and consecutive bowl losses, is a fitting way to send out a Great Coach, a Great Leader, and a Great Man.

Try to listen to the audio at Mlive. There are some great quotes. To paraphrase: Crable: Lloyd Carr is a great man. He tought me what I know about being a man. Arrington: Coach is a great man, a great leader. Which makes it unanimous, as Jim Mandich also calls Lloyd Carr one of the greatest leaders he's ever known (see article below; and yeah, Tom Brady and Jim Mandich what do they have in common other than perfect nfl seasons? Uuuh. Guess.) And, listen to Crable on Tebow -- not exactly fearful of a quarterback power running game.

There's some good stuff on the internets about Lloyd. Here's one. Lloyd Carr and Michigan allowed a reporter to tag along for the days leading up to the Citrus Bowl and the pregame, halftime, and post game. It's not a well written article, but it is an interesting account and offers unique access to Lloyd's thoughts and statments. I like this:

Captain Shawn Crable points to the door, signaling for a visitor to leave, too, so that the defensive players can be alone for a ritual they've done for more than a decade under the well-read Carr.

"I've never been in there, but I know they recite one of Rudyard Kipling's poems," English says while waiting for an elevator.

"Do you still know it?" English asks graduate assistant coach Glen Steele, who helped Michigan win the 1997 national championship as a defensive end.

"The strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack," Steele says, ending the passage without hesitating in an elevator.

The Law for the Wolves

A poem. Joseph Rudyard Kipling:

Now this is the law of the jungle, as old and as true as the sky,
And the wolf that shall keep it may prosper, but the wolf that shall break it must die.

As the creeper that girdles the tree trunk, the law runneth forward and back;
For the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack.

Wash daily from nose tip to tail tip; drink deeply, but never too deep;
And remember the night is for hunting and forget not the day is for sleep.

The jackal may follow the tiger, but, cub, when thy whiskers are grown,
Remember the wolf is a hunter—go forth and get food of thy own.

Keep peace with the lords of the jungle, the tiger, the panther, the bear;
And trouble not Hathi the Silent, and mock not the boar in his lair.

When pack meets with pack in the jungle, and neither will go from the trail,
Lie down till the leaders have spoken; it may be fair words shall prevail.

When ye fight with a wolf of the pack ye must fight him alone and afar,
Lest others take part in the quarrel and the pack is diminished by war.

The lair of the wolf is his refuge, and where he has made him his home,
Not even the head wolf may enter, not even the council may come.

The lair of the wolf is his refuge, but where he has digged it too plain,
The council shall send him a message, and so he shall change it again.

If ye kill before midnight be silent and wake not the woods with your bay,
Lest ye frighten the deer from the crop and thy brothers go empty away.

Ye may kill for yourselves, and your mates, and your cubs as they need and ye can;
But kill not for pleasure of killing, and seven times never kill man.

If ye plunder his kill from a weaker, devour not all in thy pride,
Pack-right is the right of the meanest; so leave him the head and the hide.

The kill of the pack is the meat of the pack. Ye must eat where it lies;
And no one may carry away of that meat to his lair, or he dies.

The kill of the wolf is the meat of the wolf. He may do what he will,
But, till he is given permission, the pack may not eat of that kill.

Lair right is the right of the mother. From all of her years she may claim
One haunch of each kill for her litter, and none may deny her the same.

Cub right is the right of the yearling. From all of his pack he may claim
Full gorge when the killer has eaten; and none may refuse him the same.

Cave right is the right of the father, to hunt by himself for his own;
He is freed from all calls to the pack. He is judged by the council alone.

Because of his age and his cunning, because of his gripe and his paw,
In all that the law leaveth open the word of the head wolf is law.

Now these are the laws of the jungle, and many and mighty are they;
But the head and the hoof of the law and the haunch and the hump is—Obey!

And obey many have done. Perhaps the best example: Adrian Arrington. After a horrendous off season, in which Lloyd in his press conference acknowledged was pushed to his limit, got his act together, and performed for the entire season as Michigan's most consistent wide receiver, if not offensive player. He ran steps. He matured. He became a man. Lloyd said in his press conference the words that he has repeated in recent weeks. That when he became coach, University President Fleming told him that he approaches every day with the premise that college students are kids. And kids will make mistakes.

It is what kids learn from these mistakes, and how they persevere in the face adversity that are the lessons which are the most valuable. These are the lessons that Lloyd Carr, as coach and as leader of the Michigan Wolverine football team, and as a leader of men, has tried and for the most part succeeded to instill in his student athletes.

The Leader of the Pack

The strength of the wolf is the pack. Lloyd Carr has been with Michigan 28 years. He was a defensive coordinator whom many criticized before being named as Michigan's head coach. He entered his leadership in an interim role. He has accomplished much as a head coach. He obtained these achievements and received these gifts because he was given the reigns to the greatest football program in the nation.

And the strength of the pack is the wolf. Lloyd has been the leader of this pack for 13 years. His leadership ends tonight. He led the pack with the grace and tenacity of those who came before him, and continued Michigan's place as the most storied and most successful college program in the nation. The pack is stronger for Lloyd than it was before him. And that strength is perhaps the greatest measure of Lloyd's leadership and success.