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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

If a U-M story falls in the forest and MGoBlog doesn't cover it...

Last week, former Michigan football coach Lloyd Carr was elected into the College Football Hall of Fame.  Carr joined not only Michigan coaching legends Bo Schembechler and Fielding H. Yost in the Hall, but other icons of the game such as Bobby Bowden, Paul "Bear" Bryant and Knute Rockne.

Needless to say, it's a hell of an honor.

On top of all that, due to his longtime charity work and fundraising for C. S. Mott Children's Hospital, the new cancer floor slated to open this fall will be named after Carr.  At the request of the floor's chief benefactor, the seventh floor will be called the Coach Carr Pediatric Cancer Center Unit.

There are some who might even say this second achievement is more of an honor - and more impressive - than the first.

In any event, if you're a media outlet that covers Michigan sports, especially U-M football, these two events - that were announced the same weekend - are not only an obvious story but, I'd dare to say, a must cover.  A no brainer.

As such, Carr's selection to the HOF and the Mott honor were covered by the local news broadcasts, the Detroit and A2 newspapers, as well as written up on several Michigan blogs.  Heck, we even came out of of our off-season semi-hibernation and deviated from our tired timely posts about The Troubles in C-bus to put up something.

But the one place you didn't find anything of note on either of Carr's two honors was on the biggest Michigan football - and to my knowledge, biggest college football - blog in America: MGoBlog.

Somehow the most-read Michigan football blog - by a wide, wide, wide mile - didn't deem the selection of the third winningest coach in Michigan football history to the sport's Hall of Fame worth a post.

In May.


Oh, it was mentioned on the main page a couple days after the fact.  Here:

I can't recall how I got to this article from The Daily (not that Daily: the Rupert Murdoch one) on Lloyd Carr being a nice dude who's in the Hall of Fame hurrah. In thirty seconds the generic newspaperese will fade from my brain, but I'll always remember the time I went to that site to read an article that was a half-meg 768x3072 image and marveled at how random the selection process for executives is. I know it's an iPad app and all but raising a giant middle finger to Google is maybe not the best policy.

I'd call that "damning with faint praise"...if indeed it were praise, which I'm not sure it is.

Look, I get that MGo didn't-slash-doesn't like Carr.  Fine.  That was clear when he was coach, clearer still when Rodriguez was in A2 and continues to be oh-so-clear to this day.  But to not even cover the above accomplishments, to pretend they didn't even happen - on the biggest, most read Michigan blog in the country - borders on petty.

I don't understand it.  It's impossible to find a former player who says a bad thing about the man.  There was never a hint of scandal during his tenure.  He won five Big 10 titles in 13 seasons and the school's only national title in 60 years.  Yet the disdain seems almost personal.

Was he a perfect coach?  Of course not.  No coach is.  And we were just as critical as anybody after The Debacle

But MGoBlog's anti-Carr sentiment feels like it even bled over into the coaching search-slash-hiring of Brady Hoke (who was on Carr's staff).  It seems every compliment toward Hoke is backhanded or prefaced with an "I don't mean that as an insult" disclaimer, every great move explained away as simply "not screwing up." Which isn't surprising considering that after Brandon named Hoke as head coach, MGo had this to say:

This is a stupid hire. It will always be as stupid hire and David Brandon just led the worst coaching search in the history of Michigan football. He managed to chase off half of an already iffy recruiting class, hired a Plan C coach on January 11th, probably ensured the transfer of the reigning Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, and restricted his "national search" to people who'd spent at least five years in Ann Arbor. Michigan just gave themselves a year of USC-level scholarship reduction voluntarily.
Well, not only did the "Plan C" coach a) not chase off half the recruiting class nor b) ensure the transfer of the reigning B10 OPY nor c) give themselves a USC-level voluntary scholarship reduction, but such slams feel especially hypocritical in the wake of those who were often lambasted on MGo for not being "all in" for Michigan's coach even after the program posted back-to-back losing records for the first time since black and white TV - let alone before the latest hire had led so much as a single practice.

The post quoted above went on to say:

A completely average coach should be able to take 20 returning starters on a 7-6 team that sees the schedule ease considerably and get to 9-3. That's good, because that's probably what we hired.
I'll ignore the "damned if he does, damned if he doesn't" trap behind that statement for a second to simply say that if Brady Hoke goes 9-3 this season, he should be named Coach of the Year.  Period. 

Look, there's a reason MGoBlog is the biggest U-M-slash-college football blog around - it's damn good.  It provides the most in-depth Michigan football coverage on these here Interwebs, always has new content and is really funny to boot.

I read MGoBlog regularly.

I'm also a fan of Brian Cook, the site's founder, curator and blogger extraordinaire.  He was our first guest on the old Internet radio show Benny and I used to host and very supportive during The Cowherd Thing.  There's a reason he was able to ditch whatever job he had to follow his passion and turn his love of Meeechigan into a career.

But the continued Lloyd bashing-slash-Hoke-hating-slash-kinda-grudgingly-giving-him-the-benefit-of-the-doubt-for-now stuff is, well, beneath him and his site.  For better or worse, due to his site's size and influence, MGo is the Michigan blog of record and Brian is the Peter Parker of Michigan blogging.  And with that great power comes great responsibility.

21 comments:

surrounded in columbus said...

Sorry but R2 being a failure does not make Lloyd some kind of hero in any objective sense. The simple facts are that over the last 7 years of his tenure Lloyd was:

1-6 against tosu;
2-5 in bowl games;
Was blown out in games against Tennessee, USC (2), Oregon, & Wisconsin;
Averaged over 3 losses a season (24 total);
Had only one season w/ less than 3 losses (2006, which ended w/ 2 consecutive losses);
Was embarrassed by Minnesota on Homecoming in 2005; &
Last, but not least, App State.

So what if R2’s record was worse? THIS record? This record still isn’t “good”.

Regardless of what happened in 2008- 2010, the state of the program in 2007 was solely Lloyd’s responsibility. And as of December, 2007 it wasn’t very good.

That’s Lloyd’s fault, & some of us aren’t inclined to over look that. At least not yet.

Yost said...

Gee, you're so right, SiC: Don't cover his induction into the HOF or his charity work.

DNak said...

I don't think that you're being fair. It's not the responsibility of MGoBlog to unite the Michigan factions, but to comment intelligently on Michigan's sports. Nor is it the job of MGoBlog to report the news. It seems like Brian is interested in commenting on stuff that interests him, or seems to be falling through the cracks, which Carr's HOF selection was not. If you have a problem with Brian, it seems to me that it's your problem, not your readers'.

Yost said...

D,

Your point about uniting is not only correct, but also confirmation that I screwed up by including that video clip at the last minute.

I actually had a non sequitur pic up as as humorous button to the piece, then changed it after initially posting the column. I now realize that had the unintended effect of altering the post's main thrust and probably should be removed.

Thanks for the comment.

surrounded in columbus said...

let me say this about that-

my mom always said if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all.

that's just one of the many things my mother tried to teach me that didn't take.

perhaps Brian's mother's lessons stuck better to him than mine did to me?

in either case, sometimes saying nothing is the best you can do.

William said...

Well I got a feeling that Brian didn't feel any need as the MgoBoard was full of user comments about the events, and what is the point of saying something that has already been said in more length already elsewhere on the site?

Shorty the Beachcomber said...

Yost,
No problems with your post, save a couple of contentions/points. First of all, aside from any of my personal feelings about Lloyd the man, and Lloyd the coach, he also joins Fritz Crisler as a Michigan Coach in the Hall, and that is not to be overlooked (you failed to mention him). I'm sure there is contention on this subjective ranking, but to me Lloyd is easily fourth best on the list of Michigan Hall of Fame coaches, while Crisler was easily second-best to Yost.


Glory is fleeting, but people need to research and discover how great Fritz was. He took our program from the depths of comparative 2008football to greatness in the form of a Heisman with Harmon, and back-to-back National Titles with some of the greatest teams to also possess the greatest nicknames (Crisler's Mad Magicians). I love Bo, but he was not that good. For a little example of Fritz' work I suggest folks watch a youtube video of the 1949 Rose Bowl where 'dem boyz stomped USC 49-0. Really fun stuff to watch. Crisler also gave our school the greatest, most effective, and lasting recruiting tool any coach ever gave a program... our helmets.

Next, I would like to add that every crafted personal opinion towards any subject is formed in comparison with expectation. At the end of the R2 era, Michigan football's fanbase felt the program more closely resembled Berlin in 1945 than it did in 1948, and clearly everyone felt that to move forward some force had to be behind a reconstruction, and in order to achieve this, it first needed to reunificate a fractured nation. At the time Brandon officially released R2, everyone including Brandon was drooling over Harbaugh after his systematic Orange Bowl annihilation of the fighting turkeys, and we all expected it to happen. That is until the prodigal asshole decided to continue his romp of debauchery and fuck-you-ism towards his house and spurned us for yet another set of pastures. The entire fanbase was on pins and needles, and without Harbaugh it was now expected that no matter the hire, the fanbase was not clearly going to be united on the hire. Les was next best in many peoples' minds for reunification, but that too did not work out.

There is no doubt that at the time of the hire Brady Hoke resembled another Michigan Brady, Tom. Just like the entire NFL, we passed on Brady for multiple rounds. Our only hope is that we can be as lucky as the Patriots, to have passed on him ourselves, only to find out that in the end no one could lead us better. However, at the time Brian posted that bit in the immediate aftermath of the hire, his opinion reflected that of many UM fans, and there is no way (nor was there back then) to know what Brady was going to accomplish in the first few months, or in the future, what he did. Let's also remember, as high as many of us are on Brady Hoke right now (which for many of UM fans is a complete 180 from where they were when we lost out on first rounder Harbaugh, and landed Hoke) he has not even coached a single game here, yet. And... as Brian has said, I too believe that there has been such a strong desire to reunify and restore this program, that Brady's job thus far, to a large extent, has been to use that UM program self-generated good will to his advantage and "not screw anything up."

Brady gets MMMMAAAAAADDDD props from myself, and many others, for Mattison, but a lot of everything else has fallen his way in direct contrast to the previous regime. Brady has been fortunate enough to land on the good side of the pendulum swing. And to his credit, he has done a marvelous job of cultivating that good will and keeping the gravy train rolling.

James said...

Surrounded in Columbus: why not look at Carr's overall record, instead of cherry-picking the second of it?

I pretty much agree with the post. Brian seems to have an irrational dislike of things related to the Carr era, and while he occasionally takes stock of this (as in his "New Math" post back in 2005, when he acknowledged that he'd become too jaded), he falls back into the habit often. He's entitled to his opinion on Carr, but what I don't like is his seeming belief that Hoke is a Carr clone just because he served under him. I watched three SDSU games last year and if I didn't know better, I'd have never guessed they were coached by an old Carr assistant. I get the impression that Brian hasn't watched much, if any, of Hoke's teams and is casting judgment on him based on his own fading memories of Carr. By this time in 2008, he'd gone through some WVU games and was analyzing them for insights into RR. I don't know why he doesn't do so now.

As for the suggestion that everything is falling into place perfectly for Hoke, I'm reminded of the old saying, "Luck occurs when preparation meets opportunity."

James said...

By the way, given what we're learning about the OSU program under Tressel (and what we've learned about the USC program under Carroll) maybe we shouldn't be so hard on Carr for struggling to compete against them.

Yost said...

James,

I agree re: Carr vs. Tosu. Maybe there should be an asterisk placed after the Tressel games.

surrounded in columbus said...

cherry picking? are you effing kidding me?

sure, he had a string of 4 great to very good years-

he went 12-0 in '97 (yay).

he went 10-3 in '98- lost to tosu, Syracuse & ND (all blow outs).

he went 10-2 in '99.

he went 9-3 in 2000.

those are the GOOD years. a national championship, a 2 loss season, two 3 loss seasons & 4 bowl victories. 3-1 against tosu; 2-1 against ND. taken together, that's a great 4 year stretch.

but just looking at those 4 years would be cherry picking, wouldn't it? no, let's look at his whole record, as suggested.

Lloyd Carr went 9-4 & 8-4 his first 2 seasons. he lost both bowl games.

i already ran down his last 7 seasons in the comments above.

if you add up the years outside of 97-00, as head coach he lost 32 games and was a combined 3-6 against tosu, and 2-7 in bowl games.

those 4 "good" seasons account for about 30% of his tenure.

what do you say about the other 70%? you know, the years that he lost 25/30%+ of the games he coached?

who's cherry picking? the people who look at the 4 good seasons and slide over the other 70% of his record?

or the ones who can do the math?

as i said two weeks ago- Lloyd's record speaks for itself. what you hear depends a lot on what you want to hear.

Bigasshammm said...

You know when I first saw this post and there weren't any comments yet I almost posted something about a well known Japanese admiral saying something to the effect of "waking a sleeping giant." While this post can do nothing good and only enflames a war of factions it still was well put together.

As for MgoBlog you forget that it is just that a blog. Therefore it is biased by it's author's opinion and nothing more. If he wanted to be a journalist and be objective then he would have chosen that path and I'm sure he's probably been offered a job several times. I go there daily for M news and opinions but I rarely ever comment there because the clientèle are the same as they are on every blog on the internet. No one's wrong everyone's right. No thank you. In a way I'm glad the Mzone never got super huge because then it would turn the same way. We've got it good here dont change it.

Paul Poenicke said...

First, let me second your point about MGO's lack of emphasis upon Carr's Hall of Fame induction. Despite his last frustrating years, Carr's tenure maintained Michigan's excellence through Big Ten performances, a good bowl record, and bringing a championship back to A2 for the first time in decades. Carr's charity work should be celebrated; his Hall of Fame induction does not touch the more important work he has done in the community. As Michigan fans, we should be thankful our coach has consistently reflected our values in his private life.

Further, MGO's frustration over Carr's inept final seasons did leak over into analysis of the Hoke hire. Praise over Hoke's Midwest ties, being a "Michigan Man," his desire to play traditional Michigan football--all of this fawning deservedly destroyed by Brian. Unfortunately, the advantages of Hoke—especially his ability to rebuild programs--was not a part of what was generally a more sober look at Hoke's abilities.

I don't think that Brian bought into RichRod's "all-in" mantra. He, like many of us, wanted to see Michigan expand its tradition by bringing in a coach unassociated with Carr and classical Michigan mythology. MGO represented Michigan fans who were tired of Michigan "tradition," the stultifying aspects of our playing style that discouraged innovation and led to The Debacle and a poor half-dozen seasons at the end of Carr’s tenure.

However, this post should have been sent to Brian first. If Brian is such a friend, why bash him publicly? Encourage him to thank Carr on MGO with a private email. A blog post like this makes readers believe the wars fought over Hoke are not over, that the friendship between Michigan blogs has been severely damaged by recent controversies. Will the MZone stick it to MGO if Hoke is successful? Let's encourage the better values we Michigan fans believe in, provide dignity and pride to our fellow fans, and not let the cruelty of the past months continue.

Paul Poenicke said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
whetstonebuck said...

I liked Carr.

surrounded in columbus said...

and w/ THAT bit of testimony from Whets? the prosecution in the case of "The World vs. Lloyd Carr" rests...

whetstonebuck said...

My work here is done.

surrounded in columbus said...

who was that masked man?

Nick Coston said...

Outstanding post

Ramona said...

It is taking the high road to commend Lloyd Carr on this career, leaving aside any disappointments. So MZone has a lot of class.
Now, looking forward!

fred simmons said...

Maybe Brian was on vacation?