Sewing together college football’s loose threadsWritten by Dave Woolford | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Idle thoughts while parked in neutral and running on empty:
Let’s not dwell on all of the inadequacies that led to Michigan’s worst football season ever last year. Let’s just dwell on one influential statistic that seems to get overlooked. That would be turnovers. The Wolverines ranked 114th in the NCAA for fumbles lost (30 fumbles, 18 lost) and 55th in passes intercepted by opponents (12). Is it any wonder the UM defense gave up a school-record 29 points per game?
Michigan’s quarterback position failed to give the offense any leadership or identity.
Coach Rich Rodriguez says he’ll stay with his three-quarterback rotation, which includes starter Tate Forcier, Denard Robinson, both true freshmen, and junior Nick Sheridan, the most implausible spread-offense operator of the three. Thought here is that Forcier and Robinson should play in the same backfield on occasion; Robinson’s speed uncanny.
When a Detroit newspaper recently broke the story condemning Rodriguez for practice sessions that went beyond NCAA time limits and discrepancies in supposed “volunteer” workouts, I was initially incensed and ready to suggest ramming Rich Rod out after this season. With some former and current players supposedly ratting on their own coach the thought here was that there can be nothing but anarchy in Ann Arbor.
But “sources” were not identified and it appeared factual reporting was circumvented so as to not ruin the shock value of the story. With almost 80 to 100 prospective college football players on every major college campus it’s easy to find at least some disenchantment and even bitterness if you’re trolling for sensationalism. And how does what Michigan is accused of doing differ from what just about every major college football program in the universe practices?
I’m beginning to think Rodriguez is a victim of an instigator of wrong-doing.
For all you numbers freaks here’s one to numb your senses — .0034. Give up? That was the difference in winning percentage between Michigan and Notre Dame, the two leading programs in Division IA in regard to winning percentage entering the season. It favored the Wolverines.
University of Toledo wide receiver Eric Page, a 5-10, 165-pound true freshman who played quarterback at Springfield High School last year, is providing a great storyline in Rocketville after finishing with a UT single-game freshman record 12 catches for 128 yards in the season-opener against Purdue on Sept. 5.
But the story will have to be told by others. Page, quoted many times while at Springfield where he won first team all-state honors, isn’t allowed to speak to the media. New UT coach Tim Beckman does not allow freshmen to be interviewed by the press. They can start, they can star but they can’t express themselves publicly. It’s an archaic rule deployed but some other coaches, including Penn State’s Joe Paterno.
It’s a product of paranoia. There are so many freshmen football players either starting or contributing significantly on a national scale and, gosh, some of them are even communication majors. Most major institutions of higher learning with football pedigrees bring in any number of public relations people and on-campus resource experts to school athletes on how to deal with the media. Most athletes get a quick refresher course before every media opportunity.
Freshmen eligibility rules call for a number of academic requirements. The worthy ability to converse isn’t one of them where the media is concerned. Evidently, for the good of the program, freshman football players just can’t be trusted at UT and some other schools. For the good of those young men, most of whom will never compete professionally, isn’t that a shame?
Even though these assessments will be published for the most part subsequent to the Michigan-Notre Dame and Ohio State-USC football games, the urge to resist was totally unresponsive.
What were the Wolverines doing on the same field with the Fighting Irish, picked to play for the national championship this season?
First, consider the source: Lou Holtz. The former Irish coach, now an ESPN College Football analyst, put the big hurt on his former employer when he picked Notre Dame to play for the national championship.
He based his opinion on a paltry schedule, a veteran-laden team and the supposed emergence of quarterback Jimmy Clausen, now being mentioned as a Heisman Trophy candidate.
Who will Notre Dame play for the national championship? Lou didn’t mention that so we’ll fill in the blank: South Carolina, of course, where Holtz finished his coaching career in 2004.
USC is overrated. Word is that for those playing the Trojans this season there is probably no better time to sneak away with a victory. USC is breaking in a new quarterback, Matt Barkley, who became the first true freshman to start for USC in a season opener, there are only three returning starters on defense and a new offensive coordinator is still trying to figure out the intricacies of USC’s bread-and-butter running play since time began, “student body right.”
Tags: University of Michigan