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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

MZone Readers Invited to HBO Screening

If you're a regular reader, you probably know we've been following the making of an HBO documentary on the annual Wolverine/Buckeye clash. The film, called Michigan-Ohio State: The Rivalry, is now finished and set to air on Tuesday, November 13th. Leading up to that, HBO is having three premiere screenings - in New York, Columbus and Ann Arbor.

Well...

We took a shot in the dark and asked the producer we've been in contact with if we could get two tickets to the A2 screening. But not for us. For some lucky MZone reader and a guest. Because if we got them, we were going to give them away in a contest here on the site.

Sadly, we didn't get two tickets...we got a lot more!

The producer put us in touch with someone in marketing who sent us the electronic invite below which, much to our surprise, we were told we could post on the site today! That means waaaay more than two of you can go. The screening will be held Wednesday, November 7th, at the Michigan Theater.

To attend the event, folks must call the RSVP number listed on the invite below. Seating is obviously limited and the seats which are available to our readers will most likely go very quickly. So don't delay.


A VERY big thanks to everyone at HBO who hooked us up. Mucho, mucho appreciated.

Penn State Blogs Condemn Attack on OSU Fans (UPDATE: PSU Pres can't be bothered)

And to think, I thought yesterday's big post would be Buckeye Brad's Babe Mobile.

Yesterday, the sports blogosphere was abuzz regarding the YouTube video showing some of the most vile fan treatment I've ever seen associated with a college football game. In the clip shot during last weekend's Penn State-Ohio State contest, a large group of Penn State "fans" near a fraternity house pelted a small handful of passing Buckeye fans with beer and obscenities.

As the head-shaking disgust started to subside, I wondered what Penn State fans thought about this. Since I was so hard on Penn State in my post, I was mildly surprised I wasn't overrun with a glut of "It happens everywhere!" or "It's worse at INSERT SCHOOL HERE!" or "It was just beer!" remarks in our comments section by Penn State fans. Surprisingly, there were few, which isn't always the case when a fanbase is called to task on their boorish behavior.

Even more impressive was the response of the Penn State blogs I checked who had something up on the story. Run Up The Score had a copy of the email released by the President's office in the wake of the situation and blasted the Penn State "fans" in the video, saying...

"You douchebags just trashed the reputation of my University. My father’s and brother’s University, too. Thanks. Hope you all get caught, because you’re not only pussies of the highest order, you’re also obviously too fucking stupid to keep such a video off the internet. Congratulations. May you all have to check “YES” on any and all future job applications which ask “Have you ever been convicted or admitted guilt of any crime, felony or misdemeanor?”

For the rest of you, a question. Is there any way to stop this trend at Penn State?"


No "they do it to us." No "what do you expect wearing your team's jersey on our campus?" No stories about his last trip to watch Penn State at an away game. In a nutshell, no excuses. Just utter disgust at such abhorrent behavior. Period.

Same at another Penn State blog, Black Shoe Diaries, who put up the video and had this to say in a post entitled, "May No Act of Ours Bring Shame"...

"Words cannot accurately describe how disgusting this is.

This is Penn State, bitch.

No, son, that is not Penn State.

To the Ohio State fans featured in the video, I'm sorry. On behalf of the 99% of Penn State fans that are nice people capable of showing respect to opposing fans, I'm sorry. This is not the Penn State I know and love.

There is no excuse for this kind of behavior. None. The people in this video need to be hunted down, kicked out of school, and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."

Bravo. Again, no excuses, no justification. Just disdain.

And that's exactly what needs to happen from the fanbases at every school when opposing fans are abused by the hometown crowd. Period. There needs to be zero tolerance. Period. No excuses. That almost appalls me as much as the vile actions themselves. There is no justification for this crap.

Finally, those that witness this happening must step up.

One of the comments in our post yesterday did mention that it was "only 5-10 people" who were throwing stuff. True. But there were at least a hundred watching. Doing nothing. And that is just as bad.

We all must stand up to this bullshit, even if it's difficult when our own fans do it. And I applaud the Penn State fans and bloggers who are taking that step today.

UPDATE: Penn State's student newspaper, The Daily Collegian, has a good story on the incident, giving more details such as who the person who put up the original YouTube video might be. However, this quote had me shaking my head...

"Tom Poole, associate to the president for administration, said although the university had released no statement, he had responded to e-mails regarding the issue.

"I don't know what can be done about it," Poole said. "People act like fools."

That's it?! That's your response?! That's why this shit happens, Tom - because the "associate to the president for administration" excuses such behavior with "boys will be boys" statements like yours.

The article goes on to say...

"(Poole) said Penn State President Graham Spanier's office had received "an awful lot of mail."

This is a "terrible impression to give the world about Penn Staters," he added.

Spanier said last night he had no information concerning the incident and had not seen the video."

WTF?!

Let's see - you're the President of the University, you're getting flooded with emails about members of your student body apparently attacking visiting football fans, news stations are contacting your director of public information, newspapers are questioning you about it...and you can't make time to watch the :48 second clip of a violent incident that has your campus and many college football fans across the country in an uproar?! Are you kidding me?! Well done, Prez. Hey, sorry to bother you. I'm sure you couldn't fit it in between that mechanical engineering mixer and the fund raiser for the new humanities endowment.

Maybe Penn State should put the bloggers mentioned above in charge.

UPDATE II: Penn State blogger The Nittany Line also blasts the douchebags in the video. I especially liked his response here regarding some folks who "blamed" the OSU fans for being near Frat Row...

"What's worse is that there seems to some that feel the need to defend the actions of these douchebags. They say well they shouldn't have been down around the frats. Really, that makes it ok? Is that Buckeye fan from State College that he knows the geography? If I went to Columbus, I sure wouldn't know where I was. Regardless, this behavior is unacceptable, good natured ribbing and light-hearted booing is one thing, but this is an embarrassment of epic proportions."

Well said.

You Are...Total Dicks!

Ed. Note: We usually don't update during the day as to give the appearance of actual work at the "real" job. However, a number of you emailed about the clip below and it deserved a mid-day post.

If you're a regular reader, you know I abhor vulgar fan behavior. There is simply no excuse for the obscene or the threatening at a college football game. None. Zip. Zero. The college football experience is too great to let it be ruined by assholes.

Below is a YouTube clip that was sent our way by a number of you today. It shows some of the worst fan behavior I've ever seen. Period.

The description by the person who posted the video - under the "Comedy" label - reads:

At this Penn State frat party during the day of Penn State's home game against Ohio State in fall of 2007, Ohio State fans attempt to party with them and get what they were asking for.




Get what they were asking for? Are you out of your mind?! NOBODY deserves that treatment at ANY college football game.

The University needs to do something about this. Immediately. That fraternity shown in the clip should be severely disciplined. And the little smiling turd "from Pittsburgh" - and any others who can be identified - should be prosecuted.

Oh, and guess what - I don't want to hear from anybody that "it's worse at Ohio State" or "they do it, too." That is the reason this bullshit continues. Enough excuses. It's time to end this crap. Or do we have to wait until somebody is seriously injured or worse?

And to the laughing DICK who shot the video - you're a complete fucking asshole. And a pussy at that. You're real tough backed up by a mob of hundreds against two guys. And to all the Penn State fans who stood by and did nothing - shame on you. You're all just as guilty.

According to those morons on the video, Fuck Ohio? Not today - Fuck Penn State!

Ed. Note: The original clip was taken down. But this is the Internet age. Once something like that is out there, it's too late to pull it back. I found it again in two seconds on our blog brothers Big Ten Tailgate and EDSBS and reposted it above. Nice try Video/Vulgar Fan Dick Who Tried To Make It Go Away And Save the Asses of Your Douchebag Friends.

UDPATE II: The clip was once again taken down from YouTube. But reader JF pointed us to the new link above.

Buckeye Brad's Stud Mobile

So, what's it like to travel in style as a Buckeye fan? Check out the pic below that MZone reader Tom sent our way of a Buckeye named "Brad" cruising the streets of Ohio in his sweet-ass ride...

(click here for larger view)


Folks, it's not just the $4 dollar window flag on Brad's bitchin' Cavalier proudly proclaiming his Buckeye pride that lets the ladies know they're hanging with a smooth operator. No, sirree. It's the personalized license plate and the bumper stickers that tell the story of the man behind the wheel of this Buckeye babe machine.

Being a safety guy, the bumper sticker on the left promotes seat belt use and reads, "Please stick it in...it's the law." Get it? "Stick it in." Oh, Brad. Brad, Brad, Brad. You sly master of the double entendre, you.

The bumper sticker on the right says, "Tell your boobs to stop staring at my eyes." Brad-meister. Goddamn, you funny, funny, motherfucker. Shit, my side hurts. Actually both sides - one for each bumper sticker.

And how does the owner of a kick-ass Cav like this one top the double whammy of bumper sticker brilliance: Bam! - personalized license plate. First, he gets the one with the Ohio State logo, you know, to match the window flag. Check. Then, after standing for hours at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles thinking, mulling, trying to come up with the perfect topper to his pussy wagon, Brad strikes gold: BRAD69.

Naturally, Brad can barely contain himself upon hearing it's not already taken. Surely some other Brad - every other Brad - had to have scooped this up years ago. But, alas, no, Brad, you are the one. The chosen one.

Duh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-NUH! Go Bucks? Not today.

Go Brad!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

And I will call him...Michi-Me

Forget the red carpets of Hollywood movie premieres. If you want to see a Tinseltown star, look no further than Ann Arbor.

First, Russell Crowe stops by the Big House to rally the boys for the Notre Dame game. Then last Saturday, actor Verne Troyer, best known for his roll as Mini-Me in AUSTIN POWERS, was in town cheering on the maize and blue during their battle for the Little Brown Jug with Minnesota.


Next, I hear Pamela Anderson is coming to the OSU game.

Really? No, not really. I can't back that one up.

(HT: AP)

Guest Post: Why should we stop picking on ND?

Regular MZone reader and commenter Surrounded in Columbus (SiC) submits the guest column below.

Across the blogosphere of college football, there appears to be a quiet but steady move for posters and commenters to “back off” on making fun of ND. Brian at MGoBlog notes it (obliquely) in one of his posts last week, as it references the heat he gets for being too hard on the Irish. There is also a growing trend amongst the mainstream commercial media that “enough is enough” and that it is becoming unseemly to keep piling on. Why?

Certainly can’t be because it is no longer funny. I know I laugh every time I think about it. So do most people I know. Just because ND fans don’t like being laughed at doesn’t dictate that those who enjoy doing it should stop. Is anyone saying/typing that we should all quit laughing at USC for losing to Stanford? I know there isn’t anyone (outside of the Michigan faithful) suggesting people stop laughing at Michigan for losing to App St. That disaster isn’t going to drop off the joke boards any time soon. Why should ND’s disaster of a season get off any easier? Especially when it’s an ongoing disaster that just gets worse every week?

And it certainly can’t be because the Irish fans don’t “deserve" this kind of abuse. First, as Clint Eastwood’s character in “Unforgiven” says, "Deserving’s got nothing to do with it." Second, they do deserve this, or am I the only person who remembers the “Faust” years and their aftermath?

I made the mistake of being “nice” to Domers back in the ‘80’s. Towards the last couple of years of Gerry’s contract, I didn’t rub it in how bad they were, how humiliating it must be to lose like that to Miami, Air Force, etc. I generally spoke positively of the future when they came looking for sympathy.

Then they let Faust go, hired Lou “Prop 48’s do just fine if you give’em a chance” Holtz and it all changed overnight. They proceeded to beat us 4 years in a row, while winning a MNC. And all those friends/acquaintances who I had gone easy on? As obnoxious as if they’d never lost a game in history, let alone ever heard of Faust. Mentioning Faust to Irish fans was about as useful as bringing up Cooper to tosu followers- all just "history" and the only thing that mattered was "right now". So, if ever there were a fan base that is going to unleash itself upon the world the next time they beat us, it is the ND crowd.

So, the question is whether I’m just an embittered M fan who too sharply remembers Demetrious Brown (’87), Reggie Ho (’88), kicking off to the Rocket twice (’89), and blowing the 10 pt lead in the 4th in South Bend (’90)?

Or has laughing at their sorry misery just gotten so pathetic that other people don’t find it funny anymore?

Or do others still feel like me: that these clowns deserve everything they get and every loss is as funny to you as is to me??

If you'd like to see your name in lights (or at least the seedy dark reaches of the Internet), send any guest columns, pix or old Vicki Morgan tapes our way.

Quiet! There's a football game going on!

Regular MZone reader WB sent me the following email (hyperlink added) that had me shaking my head in disbelief...

Yost-

I was at a forum hosted by President Coleman's Ethics in Public Life Initiative entitled "Sports Fans: The Good, the Bad, and the Downright Ugly." Among the forum guests were Max Pollock of the football team, Dr. Michael Stevenson, the Executive Associate Athletic Director, Daniel Bromwich from the Daily, and Bitsy Ritt, the Associate Athletic Director. I wouldn't point this out to you except that Dr. Stevenson said some things that really bothered me.

Dr. Stevenson said that noise level in stadiums should be kept low enough to make sure that the opposing team does not need to use hand signals on offense. He pointed out a Michigan-Ohio State game in which he was aghast that Ohio State incurred one false start after another on a drive because of fan noise. He thought this was horrible fan behavior. He even liked how schools can be fined if the noise level gets too high in some conferences. He said that Yost was a great place because of the "enthusiasm", but he didn't like the noise at Michigan Stadium because as he explained to me, noise doesn't effect the out come of the game in hockey like it can football. He thinks that stadiums should make sure that "the best team wins". I don't have him completely quoted, but his comments were a perfect explanation of how the administration continues to encourage quiet behavior in the Big House. He wants to end the "You Suck" cheer because it might hurt the opposing team's feelings, and that any specific insults at players should be strictly prohibited.

My god. I don't have a transcript or anything, but it might be something you could look into. The event was sparsely attended, but I know a few people who were there, and I am sure the Daily will have something on it...

- WB

Hey, maybe they can pass out tea and crumpets, too. And make it a 15 yard penalty if the coach yells at a player and damages his self-esteem. Better yet, since the grass is already there on the field, get rid of the pads, hand out clubs and call it golf!

The worst thing about this is the person saying this stuff is the associated with the athletic department! WTF!?! How old is this guy, 106? "You kids get off my lawn! And keep the noise down or I'm callin' the cops!"

In confirming the account above with someone else who was at the meeting, I was told Mr. Stevenson qualified his "Let's all be quiet" comments by saying, "I'm sure I'll be the only one who thinks this but..." Uh, only person in the general population at large who thinks that? I'll go no on that one. But only person WHO WORKS IN THE ATHLETIC DEPARTMENT OF A MAJOR UNIVERSITY WITH A TOP SPORTS PROGRAM WHO THINKS THAT? Yeah, yeah, I'm guessing you are the only one. And that's ridiculous! No wonder the university has the stupid "key play" sign up on the scoreboard.

How on earth did this person end up working in intercollegiate athletics when it sounds like he might better enjoy the atmosphere at the undergraduate library? And can you even imagine this guy working at an SEC school? Ha. Haha. HAHAHAHA!

Look, anybody who reads this site regularly knows I abhor aggressive or obscene treatment of opposing fans. There is no place in the great game of college football for that. But cheering one's damn head off and giving your team a "home field advantage" is as much a part of the game as first downs and touchdowns. If not, why play the games in front of a crowd at all? Why don't we all just stay home and watch it on the BTN instead?

I have to say, this is an instance in which we deserve to be mocked by our rivals (but quietly, lest somebody wake the baby). Have at it ,OSU. Get a good laugh, MSU. Because this is teed up and punchline ready.

P.S. In the history of football in Ann Arbor, what drive is he talking about in which Ohio State incurred one false start after another due to Michigan fan noise? Seriously. I mean, I've seen it happen like....uh...once. Also, what conference fines schools for fan noise? Is there some ultra quiet league I'm not familiar with? WB had to have misheard that because it sounds like something my grandmother would say she heard from one of her friends at Bingo.

UPDATE: The Michigan Daily's blog confirms and weighs in on the subject.

The Latest Buckeye Idol Wannabe

Buck fans sure like making musical tributes to all things Columbus and Tosu. From Sleepy Rappers to 80s music videos, immortalizing the Scarlet and Gray/Grey in (often bad) song seems to be second nature for OSU folks (with yelling "Fuck Michigan" being first nature).

Below, yet another Ohio State fan goes all Opera Man-slash-Gordon Lightfoot (look him up) with his stirring ballad, "That State Up North"...



(HT: LM)

Monday, October 29, 2007

Two-Minute Drill

* MZone reader Scott started a new blog called The Six Hole. The site is more politically oriented than sports but he had a very funny Onion-esque post up called, "Nearly A Dozen Girls Not Dressing Like Sluts This Halloween."

* The Wolverines-Buckeyes Challenge for Life is in full swing. The two schools are trying to register as many people as possible to become organ donors. Check out their website, ShowUsYourHeart.com, to to sign up and help U-M take this one for a great cause.

* Buckeye football team takes down Penn State football team, Buckeye fans infiltrate "Paternoville" and "tag" a sheet signed by PSU players that was to be auctioned off for charity.


(HT: RNG, LM)

* Want to make fun of both MSU and OSU? Our new blog friends at BigTenTailgate.com are having a caption contest for the picture below. First place is a Tempe12.com Girls of the Big Ten calendar.

Move over Stanford-Cal...

The clip below is from yesterday's Division III game between Trinity University and Millsaps College. And you might not see a more incredible play - in any division - ever.

To set the stage, Millsaps had stopped Trinity on a two-point conversion try with 2:11 left to keep a 24-22 lead. Millsaps, coached by former 'Bama head coach Mike DuBose, then recovered an onside kick and ran the clock down to :02 seconds before turning the ball over to Trinity at the Trinity 39.

That's where the clip below picks up: two seconds left, 61 yards away. Time for one final play...



Wow. Wow, wow, wow!

In case you're wondering: Fifteen! Fifteen laterals! Seven different players touched the ball. The "Miracle Touchdown" play took :46 seconds.

Final score: Trinity - 28, Millsaps - 24.

P.S. Oh, and if former Michigan TE Tyler Ecker is watching, uh, you know, that's how it's done. I'm just saying.

P.P.S. I'm guessing this is the only time in the history of the MZone you will see "Trinity" and "Millsaps" as label selections here on the site.

(HT: SportsonaShtick)

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Michigan-Minnie Recap

Random thoughts on the college football weekend...

* Don't be fooled by the final score. The game could have been a killer if Michigan had played anybody decent. Only 13-10 at the half and 20-10 until the fourth, I admit, I had ugly thoughts going through my head more than once.

* Ryan Mallett is not a savior, just a freshman QB with cannon arm and potential. Michigan won despite him the last two weeks. Yes, he threw some nice long balls in the second half, but his erratic play in the first half would have been deadly against anybody but the worst team in the Big 10.

* Really impressed with Carlos Brown and Brandon Minor. Both are finding a groove that will prove critical down the stretch - even with Hart back - and key for next year. However, Brown has to hold onto the ball. I know his fumble-itis early in the year was due to the cast but throw in a couple more, like the one yesterday, and it becomes a mental thing that is hard to shake. Must, must, MUST hold onto the ball (and learn to switch it to his outside arm as he did not do on the fumble).

* Take away Mallett's TD giveaway and the defense looked very good. And Minnesota, while ass-awful on D, is (or was) good on offense, ranking around 25th in the country coming into the game.

* I said naughty, naughty things about Ron English after Oregon. Now I must give him props for righting Michigan's defensive ship. He's made a solid unit out of them.

* Yes, he was up against (I believe) freshman, but Mario Manningham, when he has his head in the games, is explosive on deep balls. He creates separation as well as anybody I've seen. With a healthy O line, Hart and Henne, this offense is oh-so-close to being as good as advertised before the season started.

* You have to be happy for Lloyd Carr and his staff. I've said that before and I'm going to keep saying it. This team should have gone in the toilet. Now, here we are, with three games to play, and in better shape than many teams who we would have traded places with just over one month ago.

* Yes, Appalachian State will forever go down in the annuls of sports as one of the biggest upsets of all time. However, while an ugly loss, the Oregon game sure as hell can no longer be called a bad loss. That is a great football team. We still shouldn't have lost by as much as we did, but there is no shame in the loss (Appy State - still shame. Lots and lots of shame. Heaps of shame. Shame on top of shame).

* Interesting thought - if Michigan wins out and makes the Rose Bowl, and Oregon wins out but doesn't make the BCS title game, rematch, anyone?

* For M history buffs, this team, dare I say, is starting to remind me a bit of Bo's 1980 squad. Michigan had lost it's last two (or three?) games of '79. In '80, they opened with a shockingly close 17-10 win over Northwestern (when they were the worst team in all of college football). They followed that up with back-to-back losses to ND and South Carolina.

At that point, many were writing off both Bo and the team. Saying that, with 4 losses in their last 5 games, the game had passed them by.

That Michigan team not only went undefeated the rest of the season, they didn't give up a single touchdown in the last 5 1/2 games including on the road in Columbus and in the Rose Bowl against Washington, Bo's first bowl victory.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Minnesota Open Thread

We've won six straight, took down a tough Penn State squad, a tricky Purdue team and a spread-option QB on the road at Illinois last weekend. This weekend against Minnesota, the team with the worst-ranked defense in division 1-A, should be a breeze, right?

Wrong.

That's what we're supposed to think. Minnesota has been carefully laying a trap all season, lulling us (and their rapidly shrinking fan base) into a false sense of security. And like a Venus Flytrap (the plant or the DJ on WKRP) - BAM! - it snaps shut on the Wolverines when it's too late.

Okay, okay, maybe that's stretching it. And although even a Reverse Blog Psychology (RBP) pick for Minnesota is hard to do with a straight face, so was even contemplating the thought in the darkest corners of my mind that Michigan could lose to Appalachian State. As such...

Looking Ahead Michigan - 21, Team Named After the Villain in CADDYSHACK - 31

*UPDATE*

FINAL SCORE:

Michigan - 34, Minnesota - 10

Friday, October 26, 2007

Know Your Foe - Minnesota 2007

Michigan returns home on Satrday to host Big Ten basement dweller Minnesota. The Wolverines have bounced back from losing to a I-AA team and Oregon to win six in a row and now sit tied atop the conference. Minnesota has lost to TWO I-AA schools and are 1-7. This is the 96th meeting between the schools, with Michigan having won 68 (there have been three ties). Michigan won last year 28-14, bringing the Little Brown Jug back to Ann Arbor where it had been since 1986 before the Gophers’ stunning upset of Michigan in 2005. To prevent such an upset from happening this time, the MZone hereby presents another installment of its critically acclaimed series, KNOW YOUR FOE..

History – Founded in 1851, the original campus overlooked the Saint Anthony Falls on the Mississippi River (yes, the Mississippi divides the Twin Cities), but it was later moved about a mile to its current location. During the Civil War, the school shut down following a financial crisis and didn't reopen until 1867. It was upgraded from a preparatory school to a college in 1869. There was no graduating class until 1873 when two students received their diplomas (and you just know the valedictorian never let his classmate forget who was the "dumb one" in the class of '73).

Location – The Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Yes, there is a campus in each city, kind of like North Campus and Central Campus in Ann Arbor (they even have their version of the Bursley Bus connecting the two). That’s two straight weeks that Michigan is playing a dual-city school. Though the winters in Minnesota last about 11 ½ months, the Twin Cities are actually a fun place. There’s a legacy of great music – Prince, The Replacements, Husker Du, Tapes N Tapes - and I once heard from a girl I once talked to that it’s a great place to shop. Mary Tyler Moore lived there, too. And of course, since this is Know Your Foe, we have to mention lakes. Notre Dame has two on campus, so does Wisconsin. But Minnesota kicks both of their asses – they have 10,000 lakes on campus in the state.

Nickname – Golden Gophers. This is the second time in three weeks that Michigan will be taking on an opponent with a versatile mascot. Goldy the Gopher is also quite athletic as evidenced by the photo below. Although, with such a fine dental school on campus, don't you think he’d get those teeth fixed by now?


Colors/Logo/Cheers –Maroon and Gold. But take a look at those uniforms – is that really gold? I’d call it yellow. They used to be gold but, since their uniforms look so much like USC, perhaps they should consider going back to the more metallic color. For a while they were changing their helmets every few years, but they’ve stuck with their current version since ’99, though new coach Tim Brewster had the tiny M enlarged this year. Obviously, opposing offenses haven’t been mesmerized by the larger letter, as the Gophers have the worst defense in the country.

They use Goldy the Gopher a lot as a logo but - on their helmets - they have that funky M with those weird serifs on them. They’ve used some version of it on their headgear since at least 1968. They haven’t given in to the temptation to modernize it and have it move forward like Wisconsin and Purdue. Of course those teams have been to a few Rose Bowls since 1962.

Fight Song - The Minnesota Rouser is a very underrated fight song, though the title sounds like a porno movie – from 1955. Along the lines of the porn theme, it was originally known as Minnesota, Hats Off To Thee, and was written by a church choir director. Know Your Foe practically guarantees you've heard it and you might have even hummed it to yourself without even knowing whose fight song it was.

Academics – The University of Minnesota has the second largest student body in the US, with 51,175 students, behind only Arizona State. What is it with these huge maroon and gold schools? U.S. News and World Report ranks Minnesota 71st. That is tied with Virginia Tech, the University of Delaware, and Sparty. Minnesota is tied for 9th in the Big Ten, ahead of only Indiana. The pride of the University is the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute which ranks among the top 15 professional schools of public affairs at public universities in the country. You see his name a lot in this Know Your Foe. That’s because you see his name a lot in Minnesota. He’s bigger than Paul Bunyan there.

Stadium/Fans - One of the worst stadiums in college football (with only the Orange Bowl being worse because you're likely to get stabbed getting to your car after the game there) is The Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. The Metrodome is off campus, it’s sterile and it used to have that horrible turf. Despite it being a dome, the stadium doesn’t help generate much noise and enthusiasm for Gophers games. Sure, it's loud when the Vikings are winning, or when the Twins are in the playoffs, but not for Gopher football. It’s the only venue that’s hosted a Super Bowl, a Final Four (with Michigan losing in the finals, 1992), and a World Series. But as far as college football goes, it’s mostly known for hosting some horrifying collapses by the home team– to Michigan in 2003, and to Wisconsin in 2005. As a matter of fact, the most memorable clip from the Gophers playing in the Metrodome is probably from 2002 when Iowa fans tore down the goalposts after clinching a co-Big Ten title. That has to be the most embarrassing moment for the University, other than when Brenda Walsh left after only a couple weeks of being there in season four of Beverly Hills 90210.

Athletics – If it weren't for hockey - and their football team from over 50 years ago - the sports tradition at Minnesota would be pretty lame. The basketball team has been to only one Final Four (and they had to cheat to get there). But Williams Arena is one of the more unique places to play with those sunken benches. How no one gets hurt diving for a ball, I don’t know. Plus it forced former head coach Clem Haskins to sit on a bar stool, which was kind of cool.

UPDATE: Due to Benny's shoddy reportage, I'm morally compelled to issue this addition to Minnesota's athletic greatness courtesy of MLS, former Michigan wrestling captain:

The Gopher wrestling team has won 3 national titles in the past 7 years, and finished 2nd another four times over the past 10 years. They have won six Big 10 Tournament Championships in the past 9 years, including the Big 10 Championship in 1999, when they snapped Iowa's 25 year reign over the conference.

Two years ago, they were ranked No. 1 and fell to No. 3 Michigan 19-15 before a standing room only crowd at Cliff Keen Arena - the best match in the 18-year history of the arena. The Michigan victory allowed the Wolverines to claim their third consecutive regular season Big 10 Championship.


Famous alums – I have to say I was more impressed with this list than I thought I'd be. From B-list TV actors (Loni Anderson, John Astin, Peter Graves, and Kate Mulgrew) to Robert Gore, the inventor of Gore-Tex (of course) to two vice presidents (and presidential election losers) Hubert Humphrey and Walter Mondale. But doesn't that sum up the Gophers? Good but not great. They get to a certain level but not to the top. Just like their football team.

The Game – The big question is who will play for Michigan. Injuries to Hart and Henne put the lineup in question, and maybe the margin of victory. But not the winner. Michigan will win and if Hart and Henne play it’ll be over before halftime. MICHIGAN 41, Minnesota 13.

Meet...The Octabong!

The big game in the Big 10 this week is #1 Ohio State traveling to Happy Valley to take on Penn State. In the interest of fanning the flames further (and in a variation on Beer Bong Friday), here's an email I got from Penn State alum Craig...

Hey Michigan,

I stumbled onto your website looking for more and more ways to taunt Ohio State this weekend.

Just thought I'd share some pictures and video clips from the last time the buckeyes traveled to Happy Valley.

A little background to the pictures: Myself and about 8 other friends rented an RV for the trip (we are all alumni and live in various places away from State College, PA). We get there and a bunch of OSU RV's are next to us. They break out this Octabong. Proud as they were, we challenged them to a race - ONE PSU fan versus 7 OSU fans. Of course, that 1 PSU fan won. A second PSU fan got in on it, and again, PSU went 1-2!

Save it to your website, or whatever, just as long as Michigan fans realize that Ohio State fans got crushed in their own game.

Craig


Actually, to see Bucks and Nittany Lions getting along in peace like that, something tells me the Octabong could solve that whole Middle East thing in about 35 minutes.

Craig also had a very funny P.S. in his email. No wonder the Irish are losing...

P.S. On a side note, we went to the ND game last year and went into the Touchdown Jesus building (wow, happened to be a library). We were on the unlucky 13th floor scoping out the view. I was getting bored so I started to look through the books to see what stuff they have on the 13th floor at Touchdown Jesus. Attached is a book I found. You draw your own conclusions about those Irish.

"Rutgers Spirit"

Like college football fans across the country, I was swept up in Rutgers' Cinderella run last year. However, this season, after hearing how the Midshipmen and its fans were treated during their game in New Brunswick/Pissa-whatever (and the response of some Rutgers fans when called out on it), my affection has turned to disgust.

Below is a clip called "rutgers spirit" from a recent Rutgers game where two Maryland fans are removed from what looks like the student section for, as the guy shooting the video says, "their own safety."



I find that appalling. Now, instead of cheering for Rutgers, I'm actively rooting for them to return to the days when they were successful about as often as Haley's Comet comes around.

Sorry, folks, I'm never going to get off my soapbox about this subject. It's a fucking game. Period. Only takes one time for something tragic to happen when mob mentality takes over.

Two-Minute Drill

* Time now for a Spartystache? MSU players charged with robbery.

(Thanks to all for that tip)

* Remember when OSU tried to change their gameday culture for the Michigan game in '04 following the, uh, "problems" in '02? Here are the posters.

(HT: Dezzi)

* Husky fans need better dental...



(HT: MS)

Finally...

* MZone reader Kelly submitted her daughter Jordan's picture in the BTN's superfan contest. The person that receives the most votes by the end of the day today wins a $100 gift card from Cardways.com.

Click on this link - Cardways Contest to vote. The photo you want to vote for is this one...



Help out a future Wolverine. It literally takes less than a minute.

Buckeye Babes: 80s Style

The clip below is proof positive that YouTube is the most dangerous invention ever created by man. Some things deserve to simply vanish...but YouTube won't let them.

According to the description posted with it, this music video played in Columbus bars in its day - a day that, according to the copyright date at the clip's end, was circa 1987 (although I'm guessing you could have figured that out without me telling you as you watch).



Folks, if I'd been drinking anything when I first saw that, it would now be all over my computer screen. Oh...my...god! I half expected to see the cast of St. Elmo's Fire walk across the campus in one of those shots.

Seriously, that looks like the opening credit sequence for some really shitty 80s John Hughes-rip off flick that starred Corey Haim or that other more annoying Corey.

Worst of all - I can't get that %^&# song out of my head! Arrrghhhhh!

(This is one of those cases where a simple "HT" isn't a enough. So to RY who sent this our way, thank you from the bottom of my - still laughing - blogging heart)

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Hopefully the "N" stands for Naked

The pic below comes from BigTenTailgate.com, whose motto is "Booze, Ladies and Football." And they certainly live up to the ladies part of that with this photo. Gentlemen, we salute you.

Say it with me: We're all Nebraska fans today...


You know, one of these days, we're going to have an MZone Co-ed of the Month, in which any aspiring models/readers send in their pix and find instant Internet fame and immortality here on the MZone.

(Please note, if that subtle pitch above works and I start getting photos emailed my way, I will fall to my knees and openly weep with unbridled joy)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

This explains SO much...

In the YouTube clip below, the poster describes it this way: "Baby trying to sing the F*CK Michigan Song!"



And the Father of Year award goes to...

MZone Top 25

Here is our latest attempt at a Top 25 in MGoBlog's Blogpoll. Leave your thoughts in the comments section. I'm not even going to pretend that this makes sense anymore. The year is just too crazy.

RankTeamDelta
1 Ohio State 1
2 LSU 1
3 Oklahoma 2
4 Oregon 3
5 Arizona State 3
6 Kansas 4
7 Boston College 4
8 Missouri 4
9 South Florida 8
10 West Virginia 5
11 Florida 3
12 Southern Cal 5
13 South Carolina 9
14 California 8
15 Kentucky 6
16 Virginia Tech --
17 Auburn 4
18 Michigan 1
19 Penn State 7
20 Georgia 5
21 Alabama 5
22 Texas --
23 Hawaii 2
24 Virginia 2
25 Wisconsin 1

Dropped Out: Kansas State (#18), Cincinnati (#20), Tennessee (#23), Texas Tech (#24).

Are Blogs, Boards and ESPN Hurting College Football?

Thank goodness the Internet wasn't around in the 70s. If it was, Bo Schembechler might not have survived to become a coaching legend.

The coach whose name adorns the University of Michigan football building never won the last game of the season the first 12 years he was at the helm of the Wolverines. The man who is the winningest coach in Michigan history went 0-7 in bowl games during those first 12 years. Worst of all, the man who is in the College Football Hall of Fame had the audacity to go 0-3-1 in one four year stretch against Michigan's arch enemy, Ohio State.

Such shortcomings would not have gone unnoticed if the Information Age had been come to be a couple decades earlier. And no matter what the rest of the record, this lack of perfection would have had many Wolverine fans calling for Schembechler's head long before he voluntarily walked away from the game at the end of the '89 season. Variations of BanishBo.com websites would have been sprouting up for years.

While blogs and message boards, fan sites and sports-only cable channels have fueled fan participation and involvement unthinkable during Bo's first decade as U-M's head coach, such unending and fingertip focus has also led to an insatiable need for more. More comment, rumor and tidbits to fill the blogs, boards and pundit shows.

And that might not always be good.

The 24 hour news cycle has has, to a large extent, destroyed rational political discourse in America. From the likes of Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly on the right to Al Franken, Michael Moore and MoveOn.org on the left, political discussions, if they can be called that anymore, have devolved into a state of shout first, ask questions later...in a rude condescending way if the person disagrees with you.

Such shows, sites and political pundits are no longer about finding common ground and solutions, but seemingly about finding eyeballs and viewers. And the way to do that is to be more brash than the next guy. To say it louder. Angrier. More emotionally.

But not more accurately. Not fairer. Not more reasoned.

Is the 24 hour sports cycle doing a similar disservice to college football?

Today, a coach can go from playing for a spot in the BCS title game to the worst coach in the country in a span of three games. Just ask Lloyd Carr. From a three point loss, on the road, to the #1 team in America, less than 24 hours after Bo's death...to a complete coaching boob who should be fired post haste following the Appalachian State loss, the new hyper-sports world in which we reside seems to almost like a shark - it must be constantly moving, from hyperbole to breathless indignation, or it dies. Take a point of view, drive it home, don't stop no matter what actually happens on the field.

Last weekend, UCLA upset highly-ranked Cal. The victory propelled the Bruins into a first place tie in the rugged Pac-10, one of only two teams with undefeated records in conference play and controlling their own Rose Bowl destiny.

But you'd never know it from BruinsNation.com, the dominant UCLA website (and, full disclosure, a friend of the MZone). The site, which has made no secret of their desire to see UCLA coach Karl Dorrell fired asap, seemed to take no pleasure in their team's big victory, but instead only saw more reasons Dorrell should be fired. The post-game focus to this outside observer appeared focused on the negative because Dorrell was at the helm, instead of basking in the joy of a major upset.

And it actually bummed me out. Because if you can't enjoy the unexpected home upset, one of the great thrills of college football, what's the point of following the team and sport in the first place?

And I'm sure we're just as guilty of such things here at the MZone. While we never called for Lloyd to be fired after the miserable start to the season, we weren't exactly rational either. Many years ago, that would have just been bitching amongst frustrated friends. Today it goes out across them there Inter-Tubes for all the world to see. Hopefully adding something of value to sport and those who love it, not getting all Sean Hannity/Michael Moore on it.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Hey, that Buckeye looks familiar!

Wish we could take credit for this post but we can't. MZone reader Chris sent us this link from Penn State's Scout message board with pix of some Buckeyes and their look-a-likes. Here are some of my favorites from the site...

First are the easy ones, such as Kyle Ruhl and Lurch (as the poster even says, there's a Lurch on every team)


And is it AJ Trapasso...or AJ Soprano?


Then there's Devin Barclay and Mr. Barry Manilow...


Keeping with the singer theme, what about James Laurinaitis and Clay Aiken?


And do you notice any similarities between Brian Hartline...and Howdy Doody?


Finally, I never realized there was such a striking resemblance between the OSU helmet...and a car covered in bird shit. But folks, take a look. It's uncanny...



Funny stuff, Nittany Lions. Funny stuff.

Illinois: One Last Look

Thanks to everybody who made the trip to Champaign-Urbana for dropping us a line to let us know about your experience.

Based on the emails we received, it seems the vast majority of Michigan fans in attendance were treated well. Of course, there were the already-stale "Appalachian State" chants and tees. Gee, you'd think folks who scream or wear that sort of stuff might want to wait until after the game. You know, in case their team LOSES to the team that lost to Appalachian State.

However, this email from U-M student JW was disheartening to read:

"I went to the game yesterday. While most of the fans were just obnoxious, my friends and I heard a fair amount of racist and anti-semitic remarks directed our way. We were sitting next to the student section, and yes I expect some jeering and the occasional bottle being thrown, but nothing so blatantly wrong. A good number of the fans were very nice, but enough were ignorant enough to completely ruin any benevolent image I had of Illinois. I guess they need to learn how to handle the immense joy of winning 5 games in a season. I really enjoy the blog."

Actually, no college football fan should EVER expect "the occasional bottle being thrown." Ever. There's no excuse for this. As mentioned, while this was the only completely negative email like this that we received, even one is too many.

Sorry, folks. I know I get "soapboxy" about stuff like this but this sort of thing toward any fan of any school disgusts me. I love college football and college football Saturdays. And such treatment has no place in the game and atmosphere surrounding the sport we all love so much.

Now, as a counterpoint JW's abuse above, I must share a very cool email I got from Wayne, an Illinois alum and former football player who is the inventor and founder behind RivalsFlag.com. Last week, before the game, he was kind enough to email and offer me a ticket to the big showdown.

Unfortunately I couldn't make it, but the gesture was most appreciated. Sure is a shame JW and his friends couldn't have been sitting near classy Illini fans such as Wayne.



(Pic HT: JRJ)

Fuck Comcast

In the Great Comcast-BTN Bruhaha of 2007, I've been "behind" Comcast. This, as I've said before, is not because I'm any great lover of big cable companies but because I think the BTN is using the misery of Big Ten football fans, who can no longer see their teams play, as a negotiating ploy.

However, I recently read a story about Comcast that disgusts me even more than the BTN bs because the implications are so much bigger.

According to the AP story linked here, Comcast actively interferes with the ability of some of its high-speed Internet users to share files online. This runs counter to the tradition of net neutrality, the long standing practice of treating all Internet traffic equally.

Apparently, Comcast is running interference on those who use file-sharing networks in an attempt to keep "file-sharing traffic from swallowing too much bandwidth and affecting the Internet speeds of other subscribers."

While that may sound harmless - and with many file-sharing networks nothing more than a means to swap copyrighted material, it actually is the first step on a slippery slope. First off, it punishes those who use file-sharing networks legally. More importantly, I don't think any of us want Comcast - or any other ISP - deciding what should be given priority on the Internet.

What if I was a Comcast customer - since often folks don't have more than one high-speed choice in an area - who ran a very popular website called...oh, I dunno, something like...FuckComcast.com and they decided to slow it down since the high amount of traffic "adversely affected other Comcast subscribers?" Or what if somebody thought popular sites that use goddamn, fucking profanity or showed semi-naked co-eds should be "slowed" down?

Crazy, you say? As long as somebody is making decisions instead of everybody getting unfiltered, equal access without exception, there is always that possibility.

What Comcast is doing is bullshit and a very clear example of why the principle of net neutrality must be signed into law and not left to big corporations to decide.

Fuck Comcast.

SEC #1? How do we know?

Even as a Michigan fan and blogger, I have to agree with the consensus among college football pundits that this is a down year for the Big 10. With Michigan's opening losses to Appalachian State and Oregon, Iowa's defeat at the hands of putrid Iowa State, Wisconsin's close victories against lowly UNLV and The Citadel, and Minnesota dropping a game to 1-AA North Dakota State just last Saturday, the conference's struggles are well known and have been much discussed.

From the blogosphere to the sports pages to the ESPN studios, based on those out of conference match-ups, the college football world has judged (correctly) that the Big 10 is weak this year.

So who's the best? Why the SEC, of course. Just ask any of those same college football pundits (including the moron writing this post, who said as much in his Weekend Recap piece yesterday).

But upon further review, how do we - and I - know?

Why is everybody so positive the SEC is so good? Because if you base the SEC's greatness on the same critia as the Big 10's suckiness, it doesn't stack up.

Fact is, the SEC has a whopping one out-of-conference victory over a team currently ranked in the top 25: LSU's defeat of Virginia Tech. That's it. One.

As for the rest of the SEC? Here's a quick overview of the games that made them "the best"...

* South Carolina's "big" non-con win was 6 point victory against 2-5 North Carolina
* Florida didn't sniff a tough non-con game
* UGA beat 5-3 Oklahoma State...a team which lost to Troy
* Kentucky burst on the scene this fall with a close victory over then-#9 Louisville (which looks about as impressive as beating Nebraska now)
* Tennessee got smoked by Cal
* 'Bama, slayer of Tennessee, lost to a very average Florida State team
* Auburn lost at home to South Florida and beat K-State
* Ole Miss lost to Mizzou
* MSU lost to WVU

SEC coaches tell everybody who'll listen that they play in the toughest conference in America. And everybody who does listen apparently believes it.

Everybody also knows that Florida from the big bad SEC beat OSU from the lowly Big 10 to claim the National Title last year. But they also seem to forget that the Big 10 went 2-0 in the other two games in which the conferences squared off.

Maybe we all shouldn't be so quick to drink the SEC Kool-Aid.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Playboy comes to A2

A story recently on MLive.com covered Playboy's stop in Ann Arbor to conduct photo shoot auditons for their "Girls of the Big Ten" issue. According to the story linked above, about 25 girls from U-M auditioned and 30 tried out at MSU.

The girl the MLive reporter followed in the story was a 20 year old U-M sophomore who said posing for Playboy has been her dream since she was 8 years old when she saw a Playboy at a friend's house and thought the girls were beautiful.

Uh, okay, somebody want to explain to me who leaves Playboy lying around where their second grader's friends can find them?

Below, the U-M history major talks about why she wants to be in the issue...




Okay, that was just...depressing. What's the old expression, about how you never want to see how laws and sausages get made? Let's add Playboy to that list.

Trev Alberts Gives Major Props to Carr

And keep in mind, this was taped BEFORE the Illinois game...



I happen to agree. Look around the country at other teams that were expected to do well then faced adversity and how many of them went in the shitter? (I'm talking to you, Nebraska and Louisville)

Weekend Recap

Random musings on what transpired yesterday (and Thursday)...

* Les Miles is an idiot. If you saw the game - not read about it after the fact - his call that resulted in the game-winning LSU TD with :01 second left was one of the worst I've ever seen. If that idiotically risky play - don't confuse the call with boldness, it was pure stupid - doesn't work and the clock runs out - with LSU still having one timeout left - and Miles's team doesn't even get a chance to try a game-winning FG, they'd (rightfully) be calling for his head in Baton Rouge.

Even worse was his "explanation" of the play afterwards. As Mark May said on GameDay Final (and I agree), "He (Miles) totally lost his mind."

Just because LSU made it, doesn't mean it was the right thing to do. And coming on the heals of the 4 consecutive runs right into the line in last weekend's loss to UK, it does raise valid judgement questions.

* Ohio State. First off, I'm still surprised by U-M fans I know who were hoping they'd lose yesterday. I want OSU to win each game...until November 17th. That's the way it should be. What a storyline: OSU playing for a BCS title birth and Michigan playing for the Rose Bowl after rebounding from one of the worst starts in school history. It's storybook.

In terms of yesterday's game, OSU's defense is explosive. And while those hiccups made the game look closer, did anybody really think MSU's O was going to score? (Although, if the MSU player hadn't tried to pick that third consecutive Buckeye turnover up and run, who knows what might have happened from a pure nerves standpoint)

* The SEC. Gosh DAMN is that a brutal, brutal conference. No other is even close. Look at the gauntlet those teams mush run each weekend. There are no breathers. While I have no great love of the SEC, they really are the big losers in the current BCS format. Would OSU (or any other team) go undefeated in that league? Doubtful.

* Notre Dame. Unless those "lucky" unis they wore against USC can block, tackle and score touchdowns (while also bringing 21 year old Joe Montana and some of his alum friends back from the past to play), why the fuck did Charlie have his team wear them? Seriously. Is it just me or does it seem like the Irish have lost about the last 10 times they've worn those things? It was almost embarrassing to see them run onto the field wearing those. Pathetic. They looked more like Halloween costumes than something that would actually inspire. Good god, that team sucks ass. Whew. What stench.

* UCLA. They lose to ND then beat Cal? WTF?!

* South Florida. As the second ranked team in the country, they lost by 3 points on the road to a tough Rutgers team. How much you want to bet they're going to drop waaaaay more in the polls than USC did a couple weeks ago when they lost at home to 41 point 'dog Stanford?

UPDATE: Since I wrote this, the USA TODAY Coaches Poll came out and USF dropped 10 spots.

* Nebraska. Speaking of sucking...wow! This team has gone completely in the toilet following a third consecutive blowout loss, this one to Texas A&M. I use teams, schools and coaches like this as an example to all the Lloyd bashers: we so could have quit after the worst of the worst adversity at the start of the season. But the team and coaching staff didn't...unlike some teams/coaches in Lincoln. What Michigan is accomplishing this year after how the season started is very impressive. But back to the main topic of this bullet point: My god, does Nebraska suck.

* South Carolina's loss to Vandy. Is it just me, or does anybody else never tire of seeing Steve Spurrier lose?

*'Bama crushes Tennessee. This the Vols' third ass whuppin' this season. And with games against South Carolina, Arkansas, UK and a suddenly dangerous Vandy, it could get much worse in Knoxville. Is Phil Fulmer's job in jeopardy?

* Oklahoma. They should drop in the polls after barely surviving against ass-awful ISU. But with the topsy turvy season that is 2007, I think they're going to get a "credit" just for simply winning.

* Notre Dame. I mean they really, really, really suck. They only had about 160 yards of total offense.

* Texas Tech. After getting blown out by Mizzou, good to see them get exposed right on schedule, just as they always do this time of year.

* College Football in General. Suck it, NFL. You got nothing on the game played on Saturday.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Michigan-Illinois Recap

Ed. Note: If you were at the Michigan-Illinois game, please send any pictures our way - especially if you have any of the hordes of Illinois fans wearing their "Fuck Michigan" shirts. Those were "Fuck Michigan" shirts and not "Muck Fishigan," weren't they? The ABC cameras moved past them so quickly, it was hard to tell.

Also, if you were there, would love to hear about your treatment.

Now, couple thoughts on the game itself...

* Carlos Brown. Man, did he step up. Over 100 yards rushing in his first start, on the road in a big game. I tip my cap to you, sir.

* Carr and the other M Coaches. Hart's out, your senior QB misses most of the game...and they still found a game plan to win. Even those who've been criticizing Carr have to give props to Lloyd and his staff. Well done, gentlemen.

* Henne. I thought he started off very shaky (the bad pass to Manningham leading to the early pick) but, with his team's season hanging in the balance, he came back off the bench and played hurt to lead his team to victory on the road. Gutty, gutty, gutty performance. I think we're going to find out he was more injured than we think.

* Defense. Except for the Illini's one big drive and that damn 3rd and 7 where Flash Gordon the back-up QB turned on the afterburners and left Shawn Crable holding his jockstrap, I thought U-M's D played well.

* Late play calling. I liked how, on our last drive, I believe, on 3rd and 4, instead of simply running into the line as U-M teams always seem to do in these sorts of situations, Henne went into the shotgun and we played to win instead of not to lose. Again, props to DeBord, Carr and the rest of the coaching staff.

* KC Lopata. I love our kicker...and that's something I never would have thought I'd say the way the kicking game started out this season. This kid is a senior walk-on, who finally gets a chance this year and is making the most of it. Not only was his last FG huge, as the 10 point margin gave the Wolverines breathing room, but watch him after every kick - he's the most fired up guy on the field and seems to be going up to each of his teammates firing everyone up.

* Manningham. While fast, he's still a bit of a "soft" receiver. On one play in which he dropped a pass over the middle, it was because he was worried about getting hit instead of trying to catch the ball. Still, he played a great game. But this is the sort of thing that could hurt him from making it at the next level.

* Ron Zook. I thought some of his QB changes came at very bad times and upset the rhythm of his team. Always seemed like he was taking out the guy who was hot.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Illinois Open Thread

I'm nervous. Very nervous. And why shouldn't I be? Michigan is playing a team with a spread offense, at night in a loud stadium, most likely without all-everything Mike Hart in the backfield.

Plus throw in the fact that the Illini have their backs to the wall after last weekend's loss.

Thus, while Reverse Blog Psychology requires that I continue my trend of picking U-M's opponent here, based on the above, I don't really know if his is an RBP pick or a probable outcome:

Hart-less Michigan - 21, Spread Bitches, Spread Illinois - 28

Leave your thoughts, rants, feelings and general what-not in the comments section.

*UPDATE*

Final Score: All-Heart Michigan - 27, We Love Penalties Illinois - 17

ohmygodohmygodohmygod.

That, my friends, was a HUGE victory for the 2007 Wolverines. To go into a hostile stadium at night with injuries to arguably the best RB in the country and a banged up senior QB, overcome three turnovers and a 14-3 deficit is very impressive.

More to come later but I need to wait until my heart rate drops below 175 beats per minute.

Go Blue!

Greatest Beer Bong Friday Ever...

MZone reader PBL recently emailed about this just-added YouTube clip from the 2007 Preakness and I must say, it's the best Beer Bong Friday vid ever. Why? Well, listen to the audio -- The MZone gets a shout-out in mid-bong...



Niiiiiice. We're flattered, proud and humbled all at the same time.

Okay, PBL, you must leave a comment and let us know more about the story behind this.

And folks, this seems like the perfect time to remind all of our readers to send any pics or YouTubed clips they take/shoot from this weekend's college football tailgates and action (or beer bongs) our way.

As always, we get waaaaay more than we can ever hope to use but we try to put up a couple each week.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Know Your Foe - Illinois 2007

This Saturday night in Champaign, the Wolverines welcome Illinois back to the schedule after a two year absence. Michigan has won 65 of the 88 meetings between the two schools (there have been two ties), including the last five and eight of the last nine. In fact, the Wolverines have lost only once in Champaign in the last 49 years. The Wolverines have a record of 19 and 4 in regular season night games (all on the road since U-M doesn't play under the lights in A2).

Coming into their game against the Illini, Michigan has won five in a row (since a couple losses you might have heard of to open the season) and are tied atop the Big Ten. The Illini were upset last week by Iowa, falling to 5-2, and have to win on Saturday to have a chance at the Rose Bowl. Miracle of miracles, this game will be on ABC. Imagine that, a real live network that people can actually watch on. So now that you know all of the on field particulars, it’s time to learn more about who the Wolverines play. And that’s why the MZone is proud to present this week’s rendition of KNOW YOUR FOE.

History – The University of Illinois was founded in Urbana, Illinois as Illinois Industrial University in 1867, a land grant college. Classes began in the spring of 1868 and for the next couple of decades the mission of the university was a hotly debated item. On one side was the first president, John Milton Gregory, who espoused a liberal arts curriculum. On the other side were many state legislators and citizens who wanted the school to focus on an “industrial education.” Gregory was forced out in 1880, but he essentially won the battle when, in 1885, the university changed its name to the University of Illinois and incorporated agricultural, mechanical and liberal arts curricula. Gregory’s grave is still located on campus and he is considered the father of the university. The name of the university was formally changed to The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1982, but most people refer to it simply as Illinois, or U of I.

The university campus hosts the site of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), which is responsible for Mosaic, the first graphical Web browser, the Apache HTTP server, and NCSA Telnet. U of I has the largest engineering library in the country and one of the largest Greek systems, with about 20% of undergrads belonging to a fraternity or sorority. It truly is THE University of Illinois as it has the ninth highest proportion of in-state students in the country, with almost 90% of incoming freshmen in 2006 from Illinois.

Location – Champaign and Urbana, Illinois. The campus is almost equally divided between the towns of Champaign and Urbana. Champaign is almost twice the size of Urbana (75,000 to 38,000), which is probably the reason that when Illinois natives are asked where they went to school, they say “In Champaign.” Buckeye fans will be honored to learn that both Champaign and Urbana are named for counties/towns in Ohio. While not nearly as bleak as West Lafayette, Champaign-Urbana just doesn’t stack up to fellow Big Ten college towns like Ann Arbor and Madison. Its remote location and surrounding farmland lead many graduates to flock to Chicago two and a half hours north, rather than stay in Champaign-Urbana. This despite the availability of plenty of high-tech jobs. But for an area of its size, Champaign-Urbana has produced a number of well-known people. Musically it covers the gamut with cheesy rockers REO Speedwagon, rapper Ludacris and bluegrass artist Alison Krauss all calling the area home. So did movie critic Roger Ebert, gold medal Olympic speedskater Bonnie Blair, former 90210 hottie Jennie Garth and up-tight political nerd George F. Will.

Nickname – Fighting Illini. The history of this truly unique name is a bit unclear. The first known appearance of the term “Illini” was in 1874 when the student newspaper changed its name from The Student to The Illini. This appears to be a coined term, possibly to give the student body a Greek or Latin sounding name. Illini referred to the students, faculty, staff, and alumni of the University, as well as to the campus as a whole. At this time the athletic teams were called the Indians. It wasn’t until 1921 that Illini, and specifically, Fighting Illini became the name by which the athletic teams were known. The name gained popularity during the fundraising for the building of Memorial Stadium. At that time the “fighting” part of the name referred to the Illinois students, alumni, and staff who died in World War I. But “Fighting Illini” was attached to the team throughout that decade and the name has remained since.

Illini is also sometimes used as a term to describe the Illiniwek or Illinois, a group of six Native American tribes that lived in the area, and for whom the state is named. But while you’ll find plenty of Illini in Illinois who went to school in Champaign, you won’t find many true Illini in the state. They were removed in the 1830s.

Mascot – None anymore. And maybe not ever, depending on who you talk to. There’s no dispute that Chief Illiniwek represented the university from 1926 until earlier this year. In 1926, the assistant director of bands, Ray Dvorak, came up with the idea of having a Native American war dance performed at halftime at the Illinois-Pennsylvania game. Lester Leutwiler, a U of I student put together a home made costume and the Chief was born. Thirty-six different students – all white males, except for one female during World War II – danced as The Chief for Illini football games. For many Illinois fans the pre-game and halftime performances were the highlights of their Saturday – especially considering the performance of the football team over the last 50 years.

Whether Chief Illiniwek was a mascot of the university is a matter semantics. Most fans considered him such, but the university never officially called the Chief a mascot, instead using the term "symbol," claiming that a mascot hangs with the cheerleaders and cheers from the sideline, things the Chief never did. Regardless, the university started to get some appeals to remove the Chief in 1989. Those were rebuffed due to the passion of alumni. But when the NCAA deemed the mascot/symbol to be “hostile and abusive” in 2005, the Chief’s fate was sealed. After all, the designation was going to cost the university money. So despite some appeals, the university agreed to remove the Chief at university functions. His final performance was at a basketball game on February 21, 2007 before a tearful crowd at the Assembly Hall.

Colors – Orange and Blue. For the first 25 years of its existence, the University of Illinois changed colors more often than the leaves on the campus trees. They originally used silver and cardinal. Then in 1891, blue and white. In 1892, yellow and black were used, while in 1893, Dartmouth green was used in an event by the Athletic Association. They had also previously used black and yellow, crimson and olive green, while the Alumni Association had used old gold and black or orange and black. Finally, with company coming over for the dedication of the Engineering Hall building in 1894, the university officially adopted blue (for steadfastness and stability) and orange (for freedom) as their official colors.

The blue and orange combination is a surprisingly rare one in college football. Only four other schools use the combo with Florida and Boise State’s blue being lighter than the Illini’s. Only Virginia and UTEP join Illinois in using navy blue and orange. Of course the NFL’s Chicago Bears use the same combination, and it’s no coincidence. Bears founder and long-time coach and owner - and Illinois alum - George Halas adopted the colors for his professional team.

Logo/Helmet – Since the phasing out of the Chief, Illinois has gone the Michigan route by having an orange block I with “Illinois” across it in blue. Not great but not bad considering they can’t use the Chief anymore. And, ignoring political arguments, that’s a shame because the prior university logo was a classic.


And how about this logo that was used in the middle of the 20th century?

As great as those old logos were, the current Illini helmet has to be the worst in the Big Ten and among the worst in the country. It’s a simple orange helmet with Illinois spelled out on the side. It’s obviously modeled after the incredibly lame New York Giants helmets of the last quarter of the last century. And though the Giants won a couple of Super Bowls with those designs, the Illini have pretty much won nothing in theirs, so it might be time for a change. It would even be an improvemment if they went back to the style that they had until 1987, though they really looked like toy helmets back then.

(As always, all images of the helmets are from the incredibly thorough Helmet Project site, and the logos are from the equally brilliant SportsLogos.net. )

Fight SongIllinois Loyalty. Though it’s one of the oldest fight songs, it’s lame. And not just because it competes in a conference with many of the best fight songs in the country. The tune is entirely forgettable. It’s been around for 100 years, yet only the most die-hard of Illini fans even know the song’s tune or lyrics. Most alumni are more familiar with the music set played during the Chief's performance, which consisted of portions of three separate works and were referred to as "the 3 in 1." The lyrics to Illinois Loyalty refer to the colors, a Know Your Foe favorite, but otherwise are long and don’t make much sense. Sand? There’s sand in Illinois? Maybe at Oak Street Beach, but not in Champaign-Urbana. And what’s with that final section? It sounds like it belongs in an old communist marching song.

We're loyal to you Illinois,
We're "Orange and Blue," Illinois,
We'll back you to stand
Gainst the best in the land,
For we know you have sand, Illinois,
Rah! Rah!
So crack out that ball Illinois,
We're backing you all Illinois;
Our team is our fame protector,
On! boys, for we expect a vict'ry from you Illinois!

Che-he! Che-ha! Che-ha-ha-ha!
Go Illini go!
Che-he! Che-ha! Che-ha-ha-ha!
Go Illini go!
Illinois! Illinois! Illinois!

Fling out that dear old flag of Orange and Blue,
Lead on your sons and daughters, fighting for you;
Like men of old, on giants placing reliance, shouting defiance
Oskee wow-wow!
Amid the broad green plains that nourish our land,
For honest Labor and for Learning we stand,
And unto thee we pledge our heart and hand,
Dear Alma Mater Illinois.

Academics – According to the most recent U. S. News' ranking of America's Best Colleges, Illinois is tied for 38th, along with Wisconsin and UC-San Diego. That ranking puts them tied for 3rd in the Big Ten, behind only Northwestern and Michigan. Engineering and computer science is the strength of the university though, as is shown in the alumni list below, it’s a well-rounded school. It’s national reputation takes a hit because of its large in-state enrollment and the fact that so many of those students stay in state following graduation. There are plenty of companies, law firms, and hospitals throughout Chicago that are overflowing with Illini alums. It also suffers a bit from those in-state who view it as a “safe school.” When Joel Goodson thought he flubbed his Princeton interview in Risky Business, Chicago area movie goers howled with laughter as he said “Looks like the University of Illinois.”

Athletics – Illinois is a charter member of the Big Ten but doesn’t really have any rivals in the conference. Northwestern represents an in-state rival, but the fervor is limited. The campus is closest to Purdue, but there’s no rivalry to speak of. Hysterically, many Illini consider Michigan to be a rival. The university offers 10 men’s and 11 women’s teams (Michigan has 24 varsity sports). Most of the Illini’s athletic success is recorded in grainy black and white film and yellowed newsprint. Illinois can claim over 25 national titles, but only two in the past 50 years – men’s tennis in 2003 and men’s gymnastics in ’89. No women’s team has brought a national title to Champaign (or Urbana).

The football team has won 15 Big Ten titles, though only three in the last 44 years. The four national championships in football were all won in the 1910s and 1920s. The Illini have only been to the Rose Bowl once since 1964. In that same period of time they’ve had two winless and three one-win seasons. Despite the fact that Illini football has been a non-entity for most of the past 50 years, its given the world three of the greatest football players – and three of the greatest names – ever: Red Grange, Ray Nitschke, and Dick Butkus. Most Illini fans think of U of I as a basketball school. The men’s team has won 17 Big Ten titles and have made five Final Fours. But those championship runs have been met with heartbreak. In 1989 they lost in the semi-finals to eventual champion Michigan – who they crushed twice in the regular season – and lost in the finals in 2005 to North Carolina. Illinois holds the dubious distinction of playing in the most NCAA tournament games without a championship.

Famous alums – Illinois’ alumni list is as impressive and varied as any school in the country. Know Your Foe has found it interesting that so many huge Big Ten schools (we’re looking at you, Sparty and Penn State) have such lame lists of famous alums. But Illinois does not disappoint. First of all, they have a bunch of famous computer guys who we’ve never heard of but have done things that have made this blog and the wonderful series of tubes that you’re using now possible. Despite U of I’s strong engineering and computer reputation, there are a ton of well-known alums in other fields. In business, the founder of Black Entertainment Televsion, Robert Johnson, and former GE CEO Jack Welch are Illini as are the CEOs for Eastman Kodak, International Paper, Coldwell Banker, and Beatrice Foods. Actors Gene Hackman and Jerry Orbach, along with director Ang Lee all went to school at U of I. MacLean Stevenson and his M*A*S*H character Henry Blake proudly wore the Illinois sweater. Writers and journalists who went to Illinois include Roger Ebert, Dave Eggers, John Chancellor, Robert Novak, Suze Orman, Dan Savage, and Gene Shalit. ‘60s comedian, singer and satirist Allan Sherman was kicked out of U of I for being in female dorm past curfew.

Illinois has also had one alum, John Anderson lose a presidential election but, alas, no U.S. Presidents.

And all readers of this blog are indebted to several Illinois alums who made/make the MZone possible. This list includes Marc Andreessen, the creator of Mosaic (the first graphical Web browser) and Netscape, and Steve Chen, the co-founder of YouTube. Hugh Hefner, founder of Playboy magazine, graduated from Illinois as did Will Leitch, the editor of a little sports website you might have heard of called Deadspin. From the bottom of our blogging hearts, thanks guys (especially to Will, since Hefner never seems to link to us).

The Game – Before last week, there was no doubt Illinois was going to be favored in this game. But the Illini showed their youth and lost to a horrible Iowa team. Meanwhile, Michigan played their best game of the year, shellacking Purdue at home. So which Illinois team will show up? Which Michigan team will show up? Illinois has a mobile QB, and Michigan’s defense has been stellar...except against mobile QBs. Will that be enough to topple the Wolverines? Not this year: MICHIGAN 20, ILLINOIS 13.