Meyer Doing More Than NCAA Waiver Allows For?

On the same day it announced Urban Meyer as its next head football coach, November 29, Ohio State requested and was granted a NCAA waiver allowing the school to exceed the allowable number of football coaches on staff through the Buckeyes’ bowl game.

(Meyer not practicing what he preaches?)

Rusty Miller of the ASSOCIATED PRESS reported on December 9, 2011:

The existing staff, under Luke Fickell, will prepare the Buckeyes on the field in the days leading up to and including their Gator Bowl game against Florida on Jan. 2. Then there is incoming coach Urban Meyer, who will handle only recruiting while hiring his own assistants.

The waiver specifies that no more than 10 coaches - and no more than seven at any one time - may be involved in recruiting. Ohio State asked for the waiver because otherwise it would have exceeded the maximum number of allowed coaches under NCAA rules.

Such waivers have been granted in the past, but Ohio State’s situation is unique because Fickell plans to retain a prominent spot on Meyer’s staff as a lead recruiter and defensive play-caller.

Thursday Fickell was asked by Ohio State Football Radio Network broadcaster Jim Lachey - via WBNS-FM in Columbus - how Meyer was coping with not being part of Ohio State’s Gator Bowl preparations.

Lachey: “(Has it) been tough keeping him on the sidelines?”

Fickell: “He tried not to come around too much but when it’s in your blood, it’s in your blood.”

One presumes Lachey meant to say “off the sidelines.” Regardless, Fickell’s answer has already raised some eyebrows.

Earlier today GAINESVILLE (FL) SUN columnist Pat Dooley, who has covered Florida football for decades, Tweeted this response to Fickell’s contention that Meyer has “tried not to come around too much“:

Fickell on his coach’s show last night: “(Urban) tried not to come around too much but when coaching is in ur blood it’s in ur blood.” Hmm.

Because of Meyer’s intimate knowledge of the personnel of Ohio State’s Gator Bowl opponent, Florida, his possible involvement in Ohio State’s preparations for its game against the Gators would be of more impact than had the Buckeyes faced any other opponent in college football.

If Meyer was indeed involved in briefing the Ohio State coaching staff and/or players on Florida personnel or game preparations in any way, which would be against the terms of the NCAA waiver, it’d be another slap in the face to Gator fans at the hands of the former coach.

Fickell indicating that perhaps Meyer hasn’t limited his influence on the current OSU program to recruiting is also likely to concern University of Michigan Athletic Director Dave Brandon, who complained about the Ohio State NCAA waiver when it was first announced. He then provided greater detail to his objections last week.

Brandon to the DETROIT NEWS on December 22, 2011:

Our (Michigan) coaches right now are sleep-deprived. They’ve got to plan to get 130 people to New Orleans (Michigan plays Virginia Tech in the Jan. 2 Sugar Bowl), practicing and preparing a game plan and doing all the things coaches do, and yet this is one of the busiest recruiting seasons of the year.

“Urban Meyer is able to spend 100 percent of his (December) time recruiting athletes, and no other coach in our conference has that flexibility.

“The NCAA preaches over and over about maintaining a level playing field and treating everybody the same. If that’s their guiding principle, someone at the NCAA needs to explain how this translates into a level playing field.”

On second thought, considering the significant positive impact Ohio State is likely to gain from Meyer’s salesmanship to prospective players, perhaps Brandon would prefer the new OSU head coach spend more time gameplanning for a meaningless Gator Bowl than matching wits with Michigan’s ’sleep-deprived’ assistants on the recruiting trail.

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Faux Throwbacks Cheapen Michigan, Notre Dame

On Sept. 10, Michigan and Notre Dame will play the first-ever night game at Michigan Stadium.

Michigan Notre Dame Throwback Uniforms

I’m pleased to report that in keeping with that historic break from tradition, adidas will outfit its two highest profile college football clients in throwback uniforms of somewhat dubious distinction.

Unfortunately for the uniphiles at adidas charged with boosting the bottom lines of their clients, ND’s most glorious seasons coincided with decidedly drab on-field apparel, while the actual Michigan Menswear of past Wolverine teams apparently wasn’t enough of a hard sell either.

Last month Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly leaked details of the antique uniques to be worn by ND and UM to Brian Hamilton of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE:

Irish coach Brian Kelly spilled the beans Friday that the programs will wear throwback uniforms for their Sept. 10 matchup.

Kelly wouldn’t get specific about the design of the Notre Dame outfits beyond saying they hearken back to the Joe Kuharich Era — perhaps an odd choice, given that Kuharich was 17-23 in four years as Irish coach from 1959-62.

“I’m just trying to help you guys piece together what it’s going to look like, without me saying and then getting yelled at by our adidas people that we blew the surprise for them.

“But yeah, we’re going to have throwback uniforms. As they will. I can tell you what theirs look like: They have a block ‘M’ on them, and a number, and a number on their helmet. How’s that? The adidas people at Michigan are going to be (ticked) at me.”

So instead of celebrating one of Notre Dame’s most famous teams or eras, the school will instead remind us of perhaps the most forgettable collection of Fighting Irish squads in history.

Notre Dame Shamrock Throwback Helmets

(Credit)

Not to mention that the Fighting Irish helmet logo featured at that time, as noted by Matt Hinton of Yahoo Sports, was a shamrock more resembling the international symbol for radiation than anything associated with a football institution fallen on hard times. (Or as Hinton called it, a “nuclear shamrock.”)

Notre Dame Shamrock Throwback Helmets

(Little known factoid: Perry Como once coached ND Special Teams)

Then there’s Michigan, which will will break out a set of ancient on-field apparel that Ann Arbor annals reveal never fully existed.

Yesterday the DETROIT FREE PRESS reported:

Michigan’s jersey, according to a sample provided to the Free Press, will be modeled after the image shown above. A small number also will be added to the upper-left corner of the jersey front, opposite the Adidas logo.

Michigan 1899 Uniforms Throwback Uniforms Notre Dame Game

Last week, athletic director Dave Brandon told a meeting of the state’s sports editors that U-M intended to hold a nighttime unveiling of the jersey this summer and that U-M hoped fans would purchase a lot of jerseys, as they did for the Big Chill last winter.

Asked about the night-game jersey Thursday, associate athletic director Dave Ablauf responded: “We are still tweaking and making final decisions on the look of the uniform. We won’t be commenting on the throwback uniform design until we have the product in hand.”

MVictors.com is a remarkable archive of all things Michigan, so after seeing the Free Press report, the UM-centric site was my next stop.

The reaction from Greg at MVictors today was, in a word, pained.

I’m sure there are certain constraints the athletic department and adidas are dealing with (material, size, and marketing – they want to sell a bunch of these, afterall). The question mark for me concerns those stripes on the sleeves. I don’t recall stripes having a prominent presence on the gridiron, really, at any point in history.

Again – nothing is official so please only panic quietly to yourself until we see the final designs.

Greg pointed out that, from the UM-released image, the jersey does not fully resemble any past Michigan football ensemble.

Though it was noted that similarities are seen in 1899 UM squad:

Michigan 1899 Uniforms Throwback Uniforms Notre Dame Game

And the Fielding Yost-coached teams of the early 1920s:

Michigan 1920s Fielding Yost Uniforms Throwback Uniforms Notre Dame Game

Per Kelly, apparently UM’s venerable winged helmet design, instituted in 1938, will include player numbers affixed to the sides as was custom in Ann Arbor from 1959 to 1968.

Ron Johnson Michigan Winged Helmet With Numbers On Side

(Credit)

Of course, the argument for such historical incongruity is in making the jersey as palatable to the money-spending public, players and recruits as possible. An early return on that front comes from current Michigan player Troy Woolfolk, who had this reaction on Twitter after a fan Tweeted an image of the faux throwback to him:

Troy Woolfolk Tweet about Michigan Football Throwbacks

If a Michigan football historian and current player don’t like the look, what exactly is the demographic UM and adidas is targeting?

I’m all for celebrating the past, especially when the schools involved have such rich football histories. But the above in no one way resembles anything other than a naked grab for cash.

These two schools, in my estimation, are better than that.

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Official: Michigan Hires Hoke As Football Coach

The University of Michigan announced today on its official sports site and Twitter feed that it had hired former San Diego State football coach Brady Hoke as its new football coach.

Michigan hires Hoke

Hoke, who most recently spent six years turning around the Ball State football program and two years as head football coach at San Diego State, was defensive line for eight seasons under coach Lloyd Carr at Michigan. Read more…

Report: Hoke To Ann Arbor For UM Job Interview

The Rivals.com Michigan football website reports Tuesday afternoon:

Report: Brady Hoke to interview in Ann Arbor for Michigan job

Sources tell us (San Diego State head football coach Brady) Hoke has informed his staff he would meet with Michigan, with a plane en route to pick him up and bring him back to Ann Arbor. Due to the travel schedule it is unlikely an announcement would come today, but if a deal is made, it could be announced Wednesday.

Further fueling speculation that San Diego State head football coach Brady Hoke could be Michigan’s next head football coach was that the private plane used by Michigan Athletic Director Dave Brandon to travel to Baton Rouge to meet with Les Miles was seen flying to John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California today. (Airport is located between L.A. and San Diego.)

Brent Schrotenboer of the SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE also reported today that Hoke was recruiting in the vicinity of John Wayne airport.

On December 10, 2010, Schrotenboer reported a conversation he had with current San Diego State President Stephen Weber about Hoke’s career aspiration: Read more…

UM AD’s Jet In Dallas; Miles Agent Based In Dallas

Following LSU’s Cotton Bowl victory over Texas A&M in Dallas on Friday, Les Miles couldn’t have made more clear, at least under the circumstances, that he was seriously considering a move to the Univ. of Michigan.

Michigan AD Dave Brandon in Dallas

(Michigan AD Brandon has access to Dominos Jet)

Though as Miles left Dallas for Baton Rouge with his team following the game, Michigan Athletic Director Dave Brandon’s private jet, of which he has access based on an agreement with former employer Dominos Pizza, was spotted arriving at Love Field in Dallas just hours after Miles had departed the city.

According to flight records, Brandon’s jet arrived from Scottsdale around 7pm local time on Saturday. (Brandon has a vacation home in Scottsdale.)


So why would Brandon’s jet be arriving in Dallas just as Miles was departing the Metroplex?

Read more…

Forcier: “You really have to try to flunk out here”

When Jim Harbaugh first took over a ghastly Stanford program in 2007, two things stood out about his early stewardship:

Tate Forcier

1) He installed a winning attitude that would eventually see the Cardinal to a BCS bowl this season.
2) He ripped his alma mater Michigan for its coddling of football players when it came to academics

In the late summer of 2007, SAN FRANCISCO EXAMINER columnist Glenn Dickey had this from Harbaugh:

“College football needs Stanford. We’re looking not for student athletes but scholar-athletes. No other school can carry this banner. The Ivy League schools don’t have enough weight [because of their low athletic level]. Other schools which have good academic reputations have ways to get borderline athletes in and keep them in.”

Harbaugh includes his alma mater, Michigan, in that indictment.

“Michigan is a good school and I got a good education there,” he said, “but the athletic department has ways to get borderline guys in and, when they’re in, they steer them to courses in sports communications. They’re adulated when they’re playing, but when they get out, the people who adulated them won’t hire them.”

The former star quarterback for the Wolverines then didn’t back away when confronted about the remarks by the DETROIT FREE PRESS:

“I would use myself as an example. I came in there, wanted to be a history major, and I was told early on in my freshman year that I shouldn’t be. That it takes too much time. Too much reading. That I shouldn’t be a history major and play football.”

That prompted 2007 Michigan football captain Michael Hart to later say of Harbaugh, “He’s a guy I have no respect for.”

At the time, Harbaugh’s comments were thought to be an unforgivable sin in Ann Arbor.

Times change.

As current UM coach Rich Rodriguez twists in the win, Harbaugh is now the obvious favorite to take over the Michigan program if Rodriguez is jettisoned by school Athletic Director Dave Brandon.

Somehow even more ironic than Harbaugh’s criticism of Michigan in ‘07 was the words of quarterback Tate Forcier today in an interview with the DETROIT FREE PRESS. Read more…