Friday, August 31, 2007

Game Day Mix 2007

Yes, you were all hanging on, waiting to know what became of that mix that I promised. Here it is. If you really want a copy of it, leave an email for hooverstreet(at)[university of michigan domain]; we can probably arrange something.

Just missing the cut:

I'm most disappointed that Dan Hawkins was left out, but the disc clocks in at 1:19:01 and there wasn't enough time. The Colorado head coach's rant was just priceless. "Gold Lion" would've been included for Penn State and "Cut Your Hair" would've been for Illinois's J Leman (thanks, Colin, for that suggestion). "Connection" would've been for Justine Frischmann.

Game Day Mix 2007

  1. Bo Schembechler – The Team, The Team, The Team
    I could stop the CD right here and I'd be fired up for the next six hours.

  2. Camera Obscura – Lloyd, I'm Ready To Be Heartbroken
    Can any title better capture the inherent pessimism of the Michigan fan? Sky-high expectations every year that are almost impossible to meet, except for that one glorious season.

  3. Dinosaur Jr. – Almost Ready

  4. LCD Soundsystem – Daft Punk Is Playing at My House

  5. The Arcade Fire – Keep the Car Running

  6. R.E.M. – Cuyahoga
    Things in Ohio (rivers, couches, cars) have an unfortunate tendency to burst into flames.

  7. Modest Mouse – Never Ending Math Equation
    86 = 1 may seem like simple, if confusing, statement; however, the proof is very long.

  8. AC/DC – Thunderstruck
    I almost always end up in my seat just in time for "Thunderstruck" to come over the PA (HT: Bryan)

  9. The Hives – Main Offender
    Perfect offseason forever.

  10. Heart – Magic Man
    I think we can all agree that Hart is a magic man, making 5 yards out of nothing like he does.

  11. Neil Young – Rockin' in the Free World
    Appalachian State's punter is Neil Young, so this is an obvious choice.

  12. Fiona Apple – Shadowboxer
    Has anyone else heard that Tom Zbikowski sometimes engages in the sweet science? I don't know that it's been mentioned anywhere in the press or on TV.

  13. The New Pornographers – The Bleeding Heart Show
    Welcome to Ann Arbor. There may be a few liberals here.

  14. The Futureheads – Hounds of Love

  15. The Clash – I Fought the Law
    Legal troubles were spread far and wide around the Big Ten this year. Illinois, Penn State, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota...just about everyone showed up in the Fulmer Cup. What a disaster.

  16. Saturday Looks Good to Me – Parking Lot Blues
    They're from Ann Arbor, the name reflects my mood, and the song title describes where I'll spend half my Saturday. They go in.

  17. The White Stripes – Girl, You Have No Faith In Medicine
    Well, someone from Detroit needs to be in here.

  18. Jimi Hendrix – Purple Haze
    This describes what CJ Bacher will see after Shaun Crable levels him for the third time on September 29.

  19. TV On The Radio – New Health Rock

  20. Sleater-Kinney – Entertain

  21. Michigan Marching Band – G.Y.B.

(Note: A full six titles here are complete, grammatically-correct sentences)

HSR Preview: Appalachian State

Football is almost here. Football is almost here. Football is almost here. I used several sources in compiling this preview. The previews that had already been posted at Maize n Brew, Varsity Blue, and Maize and Blog were all helpful, and the Appalachian State Media Guide was enlightening. Stats for last year's team can be found here.

Appalachian State Offense vs. Michigan Defense

The Apps' offense revolves around senior running back Kevin Richardson and sophomore QB Armanti Edwards. Richardson rushed for 1600 yards and an incredible 30 (THIRTY) touchdowns last year, setting a D1-AA record in the process. Edwards himself accounted for another 30 TDs, split evenly between the ground and the air. Overall, he rushed for 1153 yards and passed for 2251, so he's another of those mobile quarterback guys.

Appalachian State also returns a veteran offensive line. Senior center Scott Suttle is a three-year starter and left guard Kerry Brown has been rated the #12 guard in the 2008 NFL draft. Left tackle Mario Acitelli started 14 of 15 games last year, pushed into that role due to injuries ahead of him. His sister is a cheerleader, and I'm sure he never hears about that from other guys on the team, or opposing fans, or opposing players. The right side of the line might be a little shakier, where two guys who've mostly spent time on special teams move into starting roles. Junior right tackle Jonathan Bieschke doesn't have the confidence of the media guide, which says "Should he keep the starting job..." Maybe some weakness there?

The wideouts aren't new, but they have to replace a lot of production lost last year after Willie Mayfield's graduation. Mayfield had twice as many catches as this year's #1 option, Dexter Jackson. Jackson is a burner who won the Southern Conference championship in the 200-meter dash, so I'd expect Trent to be keeping tabs on him. The other options are possession receiver Josh Johnson and TJ Courman, who is "penciled in" for the start, according to the media guide.

I like this matchup for our first game. We're replacing 3 of 4 starters on the defensive line and 2 of 3 linebackers and going up against a team whose offense ran the ball 66% of the time last year. This should give us the chance to really establish our run defense, which will serve us well in the Big Ten regular season (and if Oregon remembers what their best weapon really is. Hint: Not Dixon). Our pass defense will get be tested, and the receivers aren't green, but this isn't a team that makes its bones in the air. It's been an excellent Football Championship Subdivision team, but it shouldn't actually threaten us.

Appalachian State Defense vs. Michigan Offense

Mike Debord must have been salivating over this game all summer. Like Michigan, the Apps are replacing 3 of 4 defensive linemen. However, they'll be doing it with two sophomores and a freshman, with the lone returning starter (Gary Tharrington) also a sophomore. The freshman, tackle Bobby Bozzo, is 6'3", 265, typical of the undersized line. Expect Michigan's OL to move them around for Hart and Minor all day long and for Avery Horn to burn his redshirt.

The linebacking corps will be needed to back up the line (/John Madden). They have a lot more experience there. Pierre Banks is 6' flat and 210, so he's another undersized guy by Michigan standards, but he had 110 tackles playing WLB to lead the team. More impressive is the fact that he's the 16th of 17 kids in his family, needed only three years to earn his degree in electronic media/broadcasting, and is now pursuing his master's degree. He should finish it before he's done with football, as he has another two years left of eligibility. Jacques Roman is a bigger 6'1", 240, while Cam Speer's 6'0", 215-lb. Both are battling it out for the MLB spot. I'd expect Roman to get the nod, as he's less likely to get steamrolled quite as often by Hart.

Appalachian State's DBs come loaded with experience. The two senior corners combine for 81 career starts and safety Corey Lynch was a College Sporting News D1-AA All American last year.

Like I said, look for Michigan to run the ball, run the ball, and run the ball. Henne might air it out a few times, but this game will likely be a slog through the trenches. Look to last year's Vanderbilt and CMU games for guidance.

Special Teams

Julian Rauch was the Apps' placekicker last year. His 10/14 on field goals was serviceable at best, but he was a solid 70/71 on PATs. Punter Neil Young averaged 37.8 yards on 29 attempts and is reportedly searching for a heart of gold.

Very Special Teams

Appalachian State's mascot is named Yosef, a corruption of "yourself" in mountain dialect, from the idea that "if you are an Appalachian alumnus, fan or friend and have a heart filled with black and gold, you are Yosef." He was created for the 1942 annual with the full name of Dan’l Boone Yoseff. By 1949, Yosef had dropped a letter and was being portrayed by a student. It was more in line with the Notre Dame leprechaun than, say, Bucky Badger. But attitudes change:

In the early 1980s opinions began to sound that Yosef was too ugly and that his appearance needed to be altered. The need for a more dignified mascot, away from the slouchy, flea-bitten character, was evident.

Prior to the 1983-84 academic year, a committee comprised of university students, staff and faculty members modernized Yosef’s look through a cartoon-type head and body.


This is much more dignified than a guy in coveralls.

When all is said and done, Michigan should come out with an easy win. I'll guess a final score of 41-14 because I like the symmetry and because I can easily see the secondary getting burned a couple of times, especially if we're up big and the starters are gone.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Pre-Pregame: Inside the Tunnel

The marching band receives much attention for its high-profile activities before they enter the tunnel in Michigan Stadium: The rehearsal on Elbel, the stepshow and inspection at Revelli, the march to the stadium, etc., are all popular events. But since the public doesn't get to see what happens between that parking lot performance and the entry onto the field, I dug through my collection of pictures and found some that help tell the tale of pre-pregame excitement.

It contains minor spoilers; if you may, at some point, have an opportunity to experience what's about to be described, don't proceed.

After playing The Victors and Let's Go Blue toward the stadium, the band is called to the mouth of the tunnel. People line up in entry lines -- the same ones that come through the other side -- and run, one line at a time, most of the way down. Running down can be exciting, but there is a pole in the center that's at just the right height to cause serious damage to instruments and tender body parts. The enormous GO BLUE painting greets friend and foe alike.

video
The first few minutes in the tunnel allow time for stretching or finally getting a drink from the water bottles. People will be all over the place. The tunnel is dimly lit in yellow lights, and the brief glimpses of players standing by its bright exit provide dramatically framed moments of excitement. Occasionally, celebrated alumni will head down the ramp. Here, Braylon Edwards stops by the 2005 Notre Dame game with his famous pink shirt, B E chain, and, uh, MCard. It's been a while and I may have the order of these next things mixed up. Eventually, both teams will return to their locker rooms via the tunnel. When the opponents enter, the band stands tightly lined up, in complete silence, staring straight ahead. This is usually ignored but occasionally players (primarily from the MAC schools) will taunt the band. That's fine -- if you're focusing on the band, you're not focusing on your game. When the Michigan team comes up, the drumline strikes up a beat.
video
Most of the band sings "Eye of the Tiger," then the drum major lines them up for singing "The Yellow and Blue." The band gets herded to the front in tightly packed lines (the mouth of the tunnel is surprisingly narrow). When it's finally time to go, the assistant director receives a cue over his radio and points up to the press box, where Carl Grapentine is watching intently, poised to make his famous announcement.

The week's preparation and work finally and absolutely pay off.

Only two days until we get to see this again.

Appalachian State vs. Michigan: Alumni Showdown

We're back for another year's worth of alumni showdowns! Since we got started late in the game last year, we still have plenty of schools to cover and lots of Michigan alumni to which to pay tribute. So without further ado...

The "rule" is basically that we find some major alumni from the opposition university and try to find a Michigan analog, and then face them off head to head. Some are straight-forward, others require more effort. As this is for entertainment purposes only, please, no wagering.

(Author's note: To express our mild displeasure conceptually with the fact that Michigan is opening the football season with an Division I FCS opponent, marking the first time Michigan has ever played a I-AA/FCS team, there will only be three matchups this week as opposed to our usual five.)
Just missing the cut for the Mountaineers:
Miss Teen South Carolina 2007: Lauren Caitlin Upton
We could not, in good conscience, include her as an Appalachian State alumna, because she is going to BE an App. State freshman this year, as we understand it, but we also could not ignore one of the trainwreckiest of trainwrecks that live television have wrought upon us.

"I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so because, um, some people out there in our nation don't have maps and, uh, I believe that our, uh, education like such as, uh, South Africa and, uh, the Iraq and everywhere like such as, and I believe that they should, uh, our education over here in the U.S. should help the U.S., uh, should help South Africa and should help Iraq and the Asian countries, so we will be able to build up our future."

(In case you're wondering folks, its the country on the left of the map, sandwiched between Canada and Mexico.)

The Matchups
Stephen J. Dubner vs. Rensis Likert
Stephen J. Dubner
Rensis Likert

Stephen J. Dubner is the co-author of the wildly successful pop economics book Freakanomics, which was really good and helped me understand economic principles for the first time in my life. Rensis Likert was a sociologist who founded the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research and developed Likert Scales, an example of which would be:

Michigan head football coach Lloyd Carr's public persona is that of "crotchety old man":

  1. Strongly disagree
  2. Disagree
  3. Neither agree nor disagree
  4. Agree
  5. Strongly agree
(GZ notes: "An attempt was made to distribute surveys at Schembechler Hall, but poll workers were refused entrance and told to get the hell off of the lawn.")

Advantage:
Michigan. While Freakanomics is a great read, the CIC snob in me really feels that University of Chicago economist Steven Levitt did most of the heavy lifting.  Likert, though I had never heard of him until researching this, came up with something that so many of us use in our everyday life that we likely presumed that it had always existed.  That's how you know you're good, you come up with something that feels organic.
Charles Frazier vs. Betty Smith
Cold Mountain
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
Charles Frazier is the author of the acclaimed 1997 historical novel Cold Mountain, which I do intend to read someday as it purportedly has one of the finest descriptions of the Battle of the Crater anywhere.  Betty Smith is the author of the much beloved A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, the touching 1943 coming of age story based on Smith's real-life experiences growing up in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn.

Advantage: Push.  Cold Mountain is considered by many critics to be one of the best works of fiction of the latter quarter of the 20th century, while A Tree Grows in Brooklyn was such an instant hit that it was immediately shipped to U.S. servicemen during World War II.  You know what, they're both good books.

Alvin Gentry vs. Rudy Tomjanovich
Alvin Gentry Rudy T.
Gentry actually has a pretty exceptional basketball resume, having played at App. State under Press Maravich (Pistol Pete's father) and Bobby Cremins, was an assistant coach to Larry Brown at Kansas and with the Spurs, and an assistant under Pat Riley in Miami.  He was also the Pistons coach after Doug Collins (in the horrors of teal era).
Rudy Tomjanovich, in addition to being one of the greatest players in Michigan basketball history, is basketball's most famous recipient of a punch, as well as being a two-time NBA championship winning coach (1994 and 1995 with the Houston Rockets, the team for which he is also the franchise's all-time third leading scorer), a gold medal winning coach at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.

Advantage: Michigan. Rudy T. is the man.  He's the very rare example of a great player turned great coach, and while Alvin Gentry is an impressive assistant coach, his head coaching record leaves something to be desired.


So there you have it, when it's all said and done, it's Michigan 2, App. State 0, Push 1. I don't care if they're two-time defending national champions, it's still the FCS.

That's all I have for today. Once more, GZ should be around with a real preview, you know, actual football content, sometime soon.
(As always, a thanks to Wikipedia for making this a very fast effort, if not always wholly accurate.)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The HSR Guide for Incoming Freshmen: Game Day In The MMB

Thanks to everyone who commented last week on my Band Week Guide For Incoming Freshmen. There was a lot of good material in the responses. Craig also wrote up his guide to game day for incoming freshmen, and it's very good. However, it's not really relevant to anyone in the marching band. Your Saturday morning is going to be a very, very different experience, so I'd like to give you an idea of what you're getting into.

Saturday Begins On Friday
On Friday, check your equipment, make sure you have clean spats and gloves. If not, make your purchases now. If you can't find a yuba strap, this'll give you the opportunity to get to a shoe store and buy one of those really thin laces (In black, of course). Buy a Bo-style baseball cap with the Block M and nothing else on the front and bring it with you for game day. Brass, polish up your horn.

Appalachian State is a noon game, so you're guaranteed to have an 8:00AM practice. Mark it down now. Sometimes with a 3:30 game they'll push practice back a bit, but this will be an 8:00. For those rehearsals, I usually ended getting up at 5:30 (I lived in Markley my freshman year. You can get away with a later time if you're closer). Partying is out of the question, really, and you're going to value every extra minute of sleep. I could never manage to fall asleep before midnight, but try to get what you can. Guys, you'll want to shave either on Friday night or not at all. The plastic chin strap will irritate the skin too much if you shave on Saturday morning.

Fire Up, It's Saturday!
When you wake up, check the weather. You're probably going to want to dress in layers, especially if it's a sunny day. A lot of Saturdays, you'll end up walking down in sweats and a jacket but stripping down to the regulation shorts and t-shirt by the time marching rehearsal begins, even the reserves. Bring sunglasses. Half the time it's impossible to see the tower without them.

My 5:30 alarm gave me enough time to get a shower in, wake up a little, check my gear, and walk down from Markley to Revelli Hall by 7:15 or so. Having extra time will allow you to grab a bagel and/or coffee at the hall, and both were quite cheap when I was in the band. It's also useful for that one time when you can't find your black socks or you can only locate one shoe in the bottom of the closet. Oh, and a tip on carrying your uniform: If you're tall enough without the garment bag dragging, you can hook it into the top handle of your backpack. It'll flop around a bit against your legs, and you'll need a little more space in your locker, but it's less annoying than shifting it between your arms every five minutes. Once you get out to Elbel, take a few minutes to look over the music again, get stretched out, etc. The usual stuff. Remember: You need your hat with plume and yuba for Saturday rehearsal.

Practice will consist of warm-ups, then regular music rehearsal, followed by marching rehearsal for block members. During marching rehearsal, reserves shouldn't wander too far. Do they still hand out jobs while the rest of the band marches? They did when I was around. Everyone should do water bottle duty at some point, but it's easiest on a cooler day against a bad team. OK, the bad team part doesn't really make it easier, it just means you don't regret missing the game as much.

Whenever practice lets out, lunch begins (~10:00, usually). I recommend the hot dog stand on Hoover Street at the railroad tracks, because grilled >> boiled. Don't stuff yourself or you'll regret it. In the choice between nausea or being starving in the third quarter, I'll choose starving by a wide margin. For me, that meant that a dog and a Coke was my lunch.

Family members may request that you visit them during lunch. This is fine if they're parked at Elbel or the Coliseum, but if they're out at Pioneer, DO NOT LISTEN TO THEM. It's a longer walk and you have less time than you think. Make them come to you if they insist.

Give yourself plenty of time to get your uniform on. If you go early, you'll have a lot more room, which I always appreciated, an it's your last chance to control your own schedule. Take the time to make a last stop at the bathroom before putting on the uniform. Find a spot in the bibbers to stuff your Bo-style hat. Some hats you can snap around one of the suspenders. If you have an extra yuba, you can even thread it through one of the ventilation holes in the hat and tie it to the bibbers.

I Love a Parade
It's a long series, and rank moves aren't really stressed during Band Week, so you're bound to miss a couple of cues. Look to older band members and follow what they do. As you approach the parking lot to Michigan Stadium, half ranks will be called for and some people will forget where to go. You may have to improvise. Just make sure you end up with six people in each rank and nobody will know the difference. Remember: rank moves are verboten after the stop for Parking Lot Victors, but vocals are still good (Again, is this still the case?).

With the band so stretched out, it's hard to hear whistles at the steps, especially in the reserves. Do your best, let everyone around you know what's next, and follow any visual cues for "Let's Go Blue" and "The Victors". Don't let anybody cut through the band. When reserves are dismissed, run down the tunnel like a crazy person. Skip if you want to. Slap hands with all the little kids hanging over the railing. Enjoy every second of it.

Game On
Reserves, find your seat, then make sure people don't cut through the section. If you're a freshman third trumpet, you don't get to sit in the front row, dude. Wait for the show to begin, and then be LOUD. When the block members get into the stands, they get the water bottles first, even if it's 90 and you're dying. The drum cheers between plays take a little while to pick up on, so keep your ears open and pay attention to people who've been there before. The MMB does not participate in the Wave, nor do we boo anyone (and I think hissing is bush league). Your cape is not to be used as a penalty flag. If you aren't hoarse by the end of the game, don't give up. You can be louder next time. After the '99 Notre Dame game I sounded like Tom Waits for the next three days.

Apples will be served during the third quarter. Eat quickly, as there's no telling when you'll have to play again and the box will soon be coming back for the cores.

When Michigan wins, we turn our hats backward. It can be tricky to find the right chin strap setting for this at first. When the post-game concert is over, you'll want to tighten it up so that your hat doesn't flop into your face due to a particularly vigorous rank move.

Following the post-game concert, line up in half ranks for the parade back to the stadium. This can be a little trickier than it sounds. Again, just make sure you have six in a row. Shortly after you start moving, it'll be time for quarter ranks, which will again lead to some improvising before you emerge from the tunnel in half ranks. Given how early it is in the season, you probably won't have special rank moves for the way back (Flying Camels, anyone?).

When you get back to Revelli, you'll be exhausted and soaked in sweat. This is when your family will decide to take you out for dinner. It's times like these when it can pay off to bring a change of clothes, because otherwise your choices become 1) Go back to the dorm to change while the other 100,000 people get in line in front of you at Cottage Inn OR 2) Find yourself all alone at the far end of the table (Personally, I never chose 2). Whatever you go for, there's a solid chance you'll fall asleep at the table.

There's Got To Be a Morning After
There are four home games in September. Four! In the hottest month of football season. Pick two games of those and take your uniform down to Revelli for dry cleaning on Sunday. Trust me, everyone will appreciate it. AT LEAST take it in once, otherwise it becomes a biohazard. You don't want that thing lurking in your closet.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

The team, the team, the team...

It is the belief of the Hoover Street Rag that one of the greatest things about the internet is the ability to bring like-minded people together. While we have made it our duty to inform, in our own way, our readers of the various goings-on related to Michigan athletics and the Michigan Marching Band, we have decided that we would like to undertake a serious cause for the 2007 football season.

In his passing last November, Michigan fans mourned deeply the legacy of Bo Schembechler. His strength, determination, passion for the game, and belief in personal integrity stand as a testament to that which a "Michigan man" prides himself on being. While other coaches may have won more games, more national championships, or more accolades, Bo claims a special place in our hearts as Michigan fans and remains a part of our collective DNA.

This is why we are proposing the creation of a statue of Coach Schembechler to be placed in front of Schembechler Hall. Nothing fancy, nothing extravagant, not too much larger than life. Quite simply something that captures the essence of Bo in his glory: The Block M cap, the blue windbreaker, the tennis shoes, capturing the essence of Bo, stalking the sidelines and exhorting his team toward victory. On the base, a simple dedication:

Glenn E. "Bo" Schembechler

1929-2006

University of Michigan head football coach 1969-1989

"The team, the team, the team."

We're flexible on a lot of things with regard to the statue, but the base including the quote "The team, the team, the team." is the one major sticking point for us. We know some would like "Those who stay will be champions." but that already has its place in Michigan's legacy and its grounds as players head out to practice. But "The team, the team, the team!" captures the core of what should be valued about being a Michigan man. We also believe that the statue should stand in front of Schembechler Hall, as opposed to the grounds of Michigan Stadium. Having it on State Street would make it more accessible to the public and would allow it to better serve as a rallying point and good luck charm for fans.

Now, the primary problem with this is, we've never done anything like this before. We've never raised funds, we've never met with University officials, we've never rallied public support to a cause before. But we're very willing to learn, and we're always looking for help. So, if you think this is a good idea, let us know, link to this article, let your friends know, and hopefully, we can build momentum for something we'd really like to see happen.

We thank you for your time, and remember, wherever you go, Go Blue.

Geoff Zmyslowski

Craig Barker

Jeremy Bronson

Friday, August 24, 2007

Football + Music = ???

We're barely a week away from actual football returning, and next week we'll have actual football content here. For me, the return of football also means it's time for me to create a new mix CD to listen to while driving to Ann Arbor. I did that for the first time last year and we went 7-0 at home, so QED. This is the 2006 Game Day mix:

  1. Sleater-Kinney – The Fox
  2. AC/DC – Back in Black
  3. Neko Case – Hold On, Hold On
  4. The White Stripes – Seven Nation Army
  5. The Gossip – Listen Up
  6. Björk РArmy of Me
  7. M.I.A. – Galang
  8. Idlewild – Roseability
  9. Nirvana – In Bloom
  10. REM – Orange Crush
  11. Franz Ferdinand – This Fire
  12. Mirah – Light the Match
  13. Pavement – Summer Babe (Winter Version)
  14. Sonic Youth – Teen Age Riot
  15. Lucinda Williams – Out of Touch
  16. The Black Keys – Girl Is On My Mind
  17. The Clash – Brand New Cadillac
  18. Sleater-Kinney – Jumpers
  19. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Maps
  20. Michigan Marching Band – The Victors (Trio)

Several tracks are tributes to other universities. "This Fire" is for Ohio State, "Teen Age Riot" is for MSU, and "Light the Match" is for West Virginia. "Brand New Cadillac" is for Oklahoma, even if it was a Kia dealership that got them in trouble. And I realize now that I should've saved "Orange Crush" for this year, but hindsight is 20/20.

Now it's time to reload for 2007, which I'll be posting next week as soon as I've decided what's going on there. Any ideas, add them in the comments.

Monday, August 20, 2007

No Ned, No Justice

We here at the Hoover Street Rag rarely stray from our focus on Michigan athletics and our beloved marching band, but there are times when it is necessary, nay demanded. Such a time is now. A'Mod Ned, the be-crutched FIU combatant in the Battle of the Orange Bowl, is up for the Deadspin Hall of Fame, and the vote is very close indeed. We are staunch supporters of this American hero, and we urge you to vote early and often. Remember: No Ned, No Justice.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

On Maize

HSR details the history of Michigan football season t-shirt design and its effects on the football program.

ON SHIRT DESIGN

Back in 2003, the athletic department offered the chance for students to design a t-shirt for the football season. The incentives were obvious for both sides: Free labor for the U, a chance to make a buck (you don't hate supporting Michigan, do you?) and a portfolio boost for the winner.

The 2003 student-designed season football shirt got the program off to an excellent start, with its now-iconic winged helmet logo, the flashy-but-still-traditional block lettering, the old-school thin block M, and the Space-Bitches list of football facts on the back. The 2004 shirt took a step backward with its absurd lowercase sans serif font and blurry abstraction of a running back (the exact opposite of the iconic graphic from 2003).
The 2005 shirt had an oddly cropped oil painting on the back, but at least the front had an appropriate image and font. Although they took the design out of the students' hands for 2006, that season shirt returned to its proper maize roots. Unfortunately, the listing of University stats on the back made it sound like a collaboration between Nike and the Alumni Association. When I'm traveling the country on road games, sharing the fact that UM has students from 80 countries is not going to convince anyone our football team is great. 2007's shirt is nothing exciting, with a decent logo and just the home games on the back. It doesn't do anything wrong, either, though. Except that it has "Appalachian State Mountaineers" listed among our opponents, which is weird because they're a I-AA team, and Michigan doesn't schedule them. I'll have to contact Bill Martin about that one. ON BLUE

The University started promoting color unification with the 2002 with a "Blue Out" against MSU and "Maize Out" for the Penn State game. However, selling a blue season shirt or encouraging people to wear anything besides maize (jerseys are the one exception) is a terrible idea that should never have happened. Here's why.

1. The 2005 season shirt should never have been blue.

The designer submitted a maize shirt, which, after it became University property, was announced as the winning design... on a blue shirt. They pulled it out from under her. After enough backlash, the athletic department held a poorly publicized vote to determine the winning color. A whole 3,000 people voted in it and blue somehow won by 100 votes.

Of course, this vote was based on something that shouldn't have been an issue in the first place. The t-shirt design contest information packet said "the color of the shirt will be designated by the submitter," which means we were free to choose the color. The winning design was submitted as a maize shirt and then it got mutilated (with the swoosh added and the color changed). The athletic department had no intentions of letting the winner pick the color; they wanted a blue shirt all along.

2. "Blue Outs" have always sucked.

Aside from the entire 2005 season, presumably a year-long Blue Out because of that year's shirt, we've had two officially titled, publicized, big game Blue Outs: 2002 vs MSU and 2005 vs Notre Dame. Here are the results.
Yawn.

The goal of the blue shirts, we were told, was to "unite the team with the student body." Which is not accomplished by darkening the student section. Blue is dark, maize is bright. On top of that, not nearly enough people participated, so it extrasucked.

Even if it had succeeded in draping everyone in blue, it wouldn't have been impressive. You could smear mud on everyone in the section and they'd be 'uniform,' but they'd still all be smeared in mud. The goal should be to stand out in one united block. Notre Dame's student section wears an unnatural shade of green that stands out. When they all wore it, it looked awesome, so the project was a success even though it didn't match the team uniforms. Well, that and their constant cheering and perfect interaction with the band.

Consider some maize out pictures.
Penn State in 2002:
Penn State in 2005: Michigan State in 2006:

3. Consider the team's records for games in which maize was either the season's shirt color, or the promoted "* Out" color.

In maize shirts: 2002 vs. PSU, 2003, 2004, 2006 seasons, 2005 vs. PSU: 22-0
In blue shirts: 2005 season, 2002 vs. MSU: 4-3

22-0 vs. 4-3. Correlation doesn't equal causation, but Q.E.D. Please wear maize, or whatever that color Steve & Barry's makes, inside the stadium.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The HSR Guide for Incoming Freshmen: The Michigan Football Fan

We at the Hoover Street Rag want to make sure that the Michigan Class of 2011 is well served by the Michigan blog community, and we have decided to write up a few guides for incoming freshmen. We're not saying that they are perfect, complete, or even totally accurate, but we're hoping we can do what we can to ease the transition.

0). A presumption.

It is a presumption that this guide will make that we are speaking to the incoming freshmen to Michigan who is not well-versed in Michigan lore and tradition. If you grew up following the Maize and Blue and knowing that you wanted to go to Michigan, this guide is not aimed at you (however, we encourage you to submit additions and corrections to us in the comments section.) We're also presuming that if you're taking time to read this that you're actually going to care about Michigan football.

1). Your Saturdays for the first semester of school are gone.

At some point during your freshman year, you're going to think to yourself "Hey, it's OK, I can just put this off to the weekend." No. You can't. You can probably get away with putting some things off until Sunday, but for eight of the first twelve Saturdays of your college life, you're going to be staring down a game at the Big House and that is a full day affair. Similarly, you're going to find out that even though you'll likely be done by 3:30 in terms of the game, standing and watching for three and a half hours takes way more out of you than you think. You're likely going to end up going back to your room, chilling out, getting some dinner, and watching ABC Saturday Night College Football. I have to say, this is not the worst way to go. Road games give you a little more leeway, but remember to find the person with the biggest television possible and make friends with the immediately. It's as important as making friends with the guy/girl who has the car and the parking permit.

We also need to mention that in looking at the schedule, the very likely possibility of the three straight 3:30 starts in September are absolutely going to demolish your day, even more so than usual. You'll end up sleeping later, you'll kill some more time before the game, and be absolutely exhausted by the time the game's over to the point where you will get back to your room and crash, even if you wanted to watch the late game.

2). You need a Saturday game plan.

As most games start at noon, you're going to need to get up no later than 9:00 AM, you're going to want to make sure you know the weekend bus schedule (Bursleyites, we're looking at you. It's a total rookie mistake, one we made ourselves) and you'll want to be on Central Campus no later than 11:00 AM. Why? Because part of the joy of game day at Michigan is just soaking in the atmosphere, taking in the festival of sorts that happens on campus.

You're going to want to make sure you eat breakfast (even something light) and especially for the early season games, you're going to make sure you need to hydrate and that you wear sun block. (Do not fool yourself, just because the calendar says September that sun beats down upon you like it’s the middle of July. Very rarely do you get a September game with cloud cover, last year's Central Michigan game notwithstanding.)

You need to make sure you have a spot where you're going to meet up with your seatmates so you can all head in together (strength in numbers, especially if you have squatters.) This, admittedly, is much easier in the era of cell phones than it was nigh on a decade ago, but still, it's good to have a starting point. We recommend the steps of the Michigan Union, the bus shelter right next to the steps (if you don't want to get into the masses), or the ATM on the north side of the intersection of Packard and State. Your decision will likely come based on a calculation of where all of you reside.

(Geoff would like it noted, and I do second it: Anyone who gets to the stadium after the band has taken the field deserves to be tarred and feathered. Period.)

Your Saturday game plan will evolve. You're going to meet people; you’re going to figure out things that work better for you and things that didn't work. But you need to go in to this with some kind of plan to start with.

3). Game day rituals.

This is mostly about the nature of fandom, so some of you may find this utterly silly, but bear with me. If you have something lucky, you must wear it to every game until Michigan loses in your presence. The student shirt does not count, because everyone is expected to wear that. It just has to be something that you do that gets into the luck run. We're not saying you, specifically, will be the reason that Michigan's dreams of an undefeated season come to an end, but do you want that lingering suspicion in the back of your mind that it was your fault. (Note: this does not apply to away games.)

4). Don't do anything stupid.

Forgive us for sounding a little paternalistic here, but we like to think it's more about the voice of experience ringing through. You're going to be getting your first true taste of freedom in college, and well, there is a tendency to confuse that freedom with the right to do something utterly stupid. We don't recommend it. We've seen far too many people do stupid things in their lives in college which they would come to later regret. Now, are we saying you shouldn't have any fun, no, not at all. What we're saying is that you should not think just because you can do a thing that it necessarily follows that you must do that thing. Don't let your friends talk you in to doing something you don't want to do, if you have to be the voice of reason for your group, so be it. To wit, do you really want to be the guy/girl who left the '04 MSU game because all his friends wanted to get ready for a party? There will be other parties, there will not be other comebacks like that. (There are other higher level examples here, many involving illicit activity, but we'll leave it to the reader's fertile imagination to see where we're going with this.)

We know damn well we sound like old men here, but we just don’t like the idea of regret and Michigan football being tied together.

Lastly, we realize that we're just a couple of "old guys", and we probably don't "get it". So we'd like to encourage any of you reading to post your own tips in the comments section.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Hoover Street Rag Presents: A Guide For Incoming Freshmen (Band Week Edition)

Summer is coming to its usual shockingly early end, and the end is so near that freshmen will be reporting to Revelli Hall only one week from today. Only seven days till Band Week! With that in mind, Jeremy has helped me come up with some suggestions for those about to embark on their first year with the MMB.

Training
If you've just been sitting around eating Cheetos this summer, you're about to pay for it. The days when you have three marching rehearsals are going to be deeply unkind to you, and there's not a lot you can do to alter your fate at this point. However, anything you do will help at least a little. Running is a good idea, cycling helps too. Any aerobic activity will help you out. Just make sure you arrive well-rested on Tuesday.

We're Talking About Practice
Learn the audition music now, not the night before you have to perform. The airless closets in the dorm basements misleadingly described as "practice rooms" will not work miracles for you. As a very beneficial side effect, the multiple music rehearsals each day won't wear you out as easily.

Equipment
Your most valuable piece of equipment isn't going to be the Yamaha issued to you by the band, but a pair of broken-in tennis shoes with good support. The asphalt out on Elbel Field is going to be your home, and it doesn't have a lot of give to it. Even worse is the reserve field with its wicked lumpiness, just looking to roll your ankle. Even apart from that, you'll be walking to and from the dorm to Revelli Hall, up to the Union or wherever for lunch, and around campus whenever you have a free moment. Only slightly behind shoes on the list goes sunscreen. You can end up with a really wicked sunburn out there if you aren't careful, especially if you're fair-skinned.

Food, Water, Etc.
Obviously you're going to want to stay hydrated, and the MMB does a good job about giving enough water breaks when the weather is hot. Many people bring their own water, and that usually was fine for me for the first couple of hours, but then the water in the bottles went from "tepid" to "soup", and I turned to what is called The Trough. The Trough isn't actually a trough, per se, but a metal pipe with holes in it which is set on a stand and hooked to a hose. It may taste a little rusty, but it's exactly what you're looking for when it's 92 degrees and you've just gone through traditional step by the numbers for the 16th time. Always drink more water than you think you need.

Also, don't go crazy at lunch or dinner. Remember that you're going to have to march again soon enough, so you need some more fuel, but not so much as to weigh you down. I never really had too much trouble, but I know some friends who deeply regretted overindulging at Blimpy Burger. And drinking more water at lunch is generally a good idea.

Punctuality
This maxim from William Revelli will be drilled into your head soon enough: "To be early is to be on time, to be on time is to be late, to be late is to be forgotten." Get everywhere at least ten minutes early and you should be just fine. You'll need the extra time to get your music out, your gloves on, and to warm up. And if you have to get your instrument before heading to Elbel Field, make it more like 25.

Other stuff to keep in mind:

  • Make friends with your rank leaders. They usually know a lot of people in the band, and sometimes they have cars. It's hard for a director to know everyone, especially someone brand new to the band, so Boerma will likely depend heavily on the grad staff, the section leaders, and the rank leaders when it comes time for auditions.
  • Don't stress over First Look. Yes, it's the first marching/playing audition to determine who makes performance block for the game, but don't sweat it too badly. You've been in the band for such a short time when it happens that it often comes down to luck and the wisdom of crowds. There are plenty of people who are put in the reserves after First Look but end up making block for the rest of the year.
  • Learn the traditional songs and memorize them immediately. The top 8, in order of importance: "The Victors", "Let's Go Blue", "Cheer #1", "Temptation", "Varsity", "The Star-Spangled Banner", "Hawaiian War Chant", "Respect", "The Yellow and Blue". Figure out the different arrangements of "The Victors" (Parking Lot, Trio, Pre-Game, etc.) and learn the part of "Temptation" played before 4th down first.
  • Get your computer set up as soon as possible. So much intra-band communication depends on email that you're going to miss something if you're not at least catching up in the computer lab.
  • Partying during Band Week is a very, very bad idea. The alcohol will already have you dehydrated before practice drains you further, landing you in a special kind of hell with your hangover as you pound your legs down during high step. No one will be sympathetic. Some may point and laugh.
  • The medical staff is there for a reason. Make use of them if you get injured, and get yourself taped before practice rather than trying to tough it out. Stretching every night before you go to bed will also make your mornings that much easier.
  • Make sure you meet the people on your hall in the dorm. It's easy to ignore them with all the things going on with the band, but you're going to live with these people for 8 months and you might want someone to eat lunch with when February rolls around.
  • This isn't really a Band Week suggestion, but bring a winter coat. That first 40-degree day in October will come much sooner than you expect, and you're going to be out there for an hour and a half.

Monday, August 13, 2007

It's that time of year.

In 1952, George Cavender was named the new assistant director of the Michigan Marching Band, and he would remain at Michigan until 1975. Among the members trying out for membership this year was H. Robert Reynolds, who eventually became Director of Bands. This was the letter Cavender sent out 55 years ago today.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

HSR Field Trip: CDB goes to the BTN Open House

Last week, the Michigan Athletic Department sent out a mass mail announcing that there would be an Open House at the Junge Family Champions Center with regard to the launch of the Big Ten Network. Since I have nothing but time during the summer, and probably won't get another legitimate chance to see the Junge Family Champions Center, I decided to go. I present to you my report on today's events. (Disclaimer: I am NOT a journalist by trade. I am an historian. What this means for you is that a). I didn't have a digital audio recorder, so there will be no direct quotations in this article. b). I will do my best to work from my nine pages worth of notes to get you the gist of what was said.

Arriving early, as I am wont to do, I park very close to the soccer field, soon to be the site of Newsterbaan, in the hopes of avoiding being ticketed for parking in the Orange Lot without a permit. Seriously, I parked like a quarter mile away from the doors. I arrived roughly 20 minutes before the slated 12:45 start time, where I will soon learn that that is a suggested start time.

12:50...Start pondering the universal truth of the Tom Petty statement regarding the waiting being the hardest part. Hey, there's Jamie Morris! (Quick note: On my way out, I got to say hello to him and shake his hand, which was a big thrill for me.)

12:55...There's Bruce Madej, Michigan Associate AD for Media Relations, filling in for Bill Martin. He notes that this is a wonderful chance for the general public to hear what Jim Delany, Big Ten commissioner, and Mark Silverman, President of the Big Ten Network, have to say. He goes on to note that the big question on everyone's mind is Comcast. He knows that, everyone knows that. He wants everyone to know that the Michigan Athletic Department is completely behind the Big Ten Network, noting that with the increased difficulty in getting the department's message into the media, in particular positive stories about Michigan's 700 student athletes, a group which has a grade point average above a "B" and that features a number of truly exceptional people beyond just their athletic prowess. Mr. Madej also notes that while the Big Ten Network will get those stories out there, they will be approaching things from a news stand point, so there will not be a whitewashing of news by the BTN about Big Ten schools.

12:57...The Mayor of Ann Arbor, John Hieftje, steps to the podium to present a pair of proclamations to Commissioner Delany and Mr. Silverman. The essence of the proclamation includes nods to the meaning of the Big Ten universities to their communities, the Big Ten Network's stated mission of coverage equality for men's and women's sports, it's promotion of "heartland values" (he honestly said that, both the city of Ann Arbor proclamation AND the state of Michigan proclamation said "heartland values" in them. It was so damn earnest.)

Bruce comes back up to the podium to introduce a pair of Michigan coaches to get their thoughts on the Big Ten Network. First up, Debbie Rademacher, Michigan's women's soccer coach. She makes a sound reinforcement of the case for the positive stories about Michigan student-athletes, and similarly, the quality of competition of underexposed sports, such as women's soccer, moving from two games a year on Comcast Local to a much larger potential exposure through BTN.

Next up, hey, it's new Michigan's men's basketball coach John Beilein! He notes that part of the reason that he chose to come to Michigan was that not only is there a wealth of talent regionally which is familiar with the Michigan name, but that the Block M carries meaning on a national level, and that students he talks to from California to Texas to Florida know what it Michigan is all about. He knows that the Big Ten Network will only serve to expand that reach. Statistically, he noted that while he was at West Virginia, they were on national TV five times. During that same period, Michigan was on national TV 79 times. He also notes that the Big Ten Network will mean 33% more exposure for the program as well. (As a side note, I enjoyed my first Beilein experience. He clearly has an ease with the press, and just enough of a Southern accent that comes and goes to make you feel at ease with him. It's a good first impression.)

Back to Mr. Madej, who notes that Michigan basketball was not on television 10 times last season In addition to that, 11 games were only broadcast in regional syndication. What the Big Ten Network means is 21 additional games for Michigan on national TV, all of them in HD.

1:10...Ladies and gentlemen, it's Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany. He notes that he and Mr. Silverman just came from Iowa, where they ran into Barack and Hillary campaigning, and in a way, that's what they are doing, campaigning for something they truly believe in. He then notes that there have been two very major differences in this negotiation than in all of the others he has done as Big Ten commissioner in 18 years. Firstly, it has been a very public negotiation (i.e. with Comcast) and that has presented new obstacles. For instance, when negotiating with ABC/ESPN, it has all been behind closed doors, and while those negotiations have been contentious as well, all the average fan sees is the finished product on the screen. He notes that the Big Ten has gone from 18 football games on television in 1989 to 67 games last years and that there were those who were concerned that this would affect attendance at games. Attendance has moved from an average of 57,000 per game in 1989 to 71,000 last season. (Note: I was impressed by this figure until I pondered it for a moment. If I have done the math correctly, the average attendance increase for the ten members of the Big Ten in 1989 is roughly 4,000 fans per school, with he addition of Penn State accounting for an additional 110,000 fans for each of their four Big Ten home games. Also worth noting that Michigan and Ohio State have both added seating in recent renovations, Michigan adding over 5,000 and at least 7,500 seats to Ohio Stadium. So it's impressive yes, but not as impressive as it sounded on first blush.) Commissioner Delany went on to note that in the recent negotiation with ABC/ESPN, the Big Ten held the line on No Thursday Night Football, no expansion of games offered on ESPN 360 or ESPNU, and it was noted that it is getting harder and harder to find channels willing to carry syndicated regional broadcasts for basketball. He also noted that as a part of that recent negotiation, the Big Ten "got back" over 4,200 classic basketball and football games from ESPN, including bowl games, which they will be making available the Big Ten Network and their cable partners.

The second difference in these negotiations is that there is always high interest for the Big Ten product, and that if they don't like they're hearing about basketball from say, CBS, they can always walk across the street and talk to ABC, or if they don't like what they are hearing about the football coverage from ABC, NBC will happily take a meeting with them. They have options. However, that isn't how cable works. If they don't like what they are hearing from, say, Comcast, they can walk across the street and...get a hot dog and a Coke. (This line elicited way more laughter than it should have. I understood the point, I guess the comedy bar was just very low in this crowd.) The problem is very simply explained: The Big Ten feels that the Big Ten Network is a network that will be of a very high interest to the communities and that it is easily among the 70 most desirable networks on cable. They have channels for jewelry, animals, shopping, and food, and no one seems to complain, even if there is limited interest, and that the Big Ten network easily will generate greater interest than much more niche channels. Comcast disagrees with this assessment, and that's where we stand today. Commissioner Delany also noted that 90% of all negotiations get done in the last 5% of the time before the deadline.

With that, Commissioner Delany introduces Mr. Mark Silverman, noting "He was out #1 draft choice." There was a run here about "What about July, what are you going to do with July?" and Mr. Silverman, who has a background at A&E and the History Channel, said that July will be the time for original programming to shine and if they can't make it work by drawing from the rich history, heritage, and tradition of the Big Ten, he doesn't deserve his job. Mr. Silverman goes on to note that he's a Michigan grad and states that the question that has been foremost in his mind has been "How can we best serve Michigan fans?" He notes that the BTN will have over 60 Michigan games, increased visibility for women's sports, variety that cannot be topped in today's marketplace. He also goes on to discuss the excitement about the classic Big Ten games that they will be showing, starting on Opening Night (August 30) with a Big Ten football preview, and then their first classic game...2006 Michigan vs. Ohio State (wonderful, so much like ESPN Classic, it seems like the Big Ten Network will revel in showing when Michigan fails.) He also notes that there will be a nightly studio show which will focus on student-athletes from the 11 schools, with each school having a mini studio on campus to increase the availability and presence of student athletes and coaches to this nightly show. This narrower focus will allow for greater depth and will showcase the core Midwestern values that are a major part of the Big Ten. In that vein, there will be no alcohol advertising on the network, no beer advertising, no gambling ads, and no informercials (OK, the last part made me smile.), and then asked how many times when you turn on one of those 70 extended basic channels at night or on a weekend is one of them showing an informerical? The Big Ten Network will also have an internship program which will have 10 students from each campus per semester working on the BTN, providing them valuable real-world experience in the television field.

That brings us to the question of distribution. There are LOTS of negotiations currently going on, and again, deals on this kind of thing get done very late. Or as Mr. Silverman put it "very, very, very, very late." Mr. Silverman also noted that if he has his way, he would prefer not to be negotiating, but that is not the case. It is the position of the network that it should be broadly distributed on extended basic. Not on a sports tier, not on digital. It should be part of your 70 basic channels you get with your monthly cable bill. He went on to note that the Network is willing to negotiate on every single other point but they will not move on the extended basic part. Mr. Silverman noted that they have 70 deals done with cable operators, that DirectTV and AT&T Cable are on board and that they are close with several other operators.

(Just a quick side note: I was deeply impressed by Mr. Silverman. I have never met anyone who is as smooth as he is. He stayed on point and on message during his entire discussion, never once got emotional, and made his case as rationally and as eloquently as possible.)

The essential point he hoped people would take away is that there is no other network that has this level of relevance that is on a sports tier. To wit, CSS (Comcast Sports Southeast) has six million subscribers with basic carriage. It carries no live football and a minimum of live SEC or ACC basketball. While there is nothing else like the Big Ten Network out there, all they are asking for is to be treated like everyone else. This is why concerned fans need to call their cable operators or the Big Ten Network's 866 number.

With that, there was some brief Q&A time:

A quick summary.

* I was able to ask about the 60 hours a year of university content that each member school is allocated, and whether or not that had to be non-athletic and what the plans were for the production. Mr. Silverman very politely pointed out that they feel that will be another strength of the Big Ten Network, able to focus on the quality of the academic programs that are a part of each Big Ten school.

* In response to cost concerns, Mr. Silverman wanted it noted that it is the goal of the Big Ten Network not to cost cable customers one cent more, in part by providing unique potential revenue streams, especially with local advertising. It is figured that a Michigan football game, for example, will be the highest rated program for its time period in the state of Michigan. That will create huge potential revenue streams in local advertising for cable operators. Mr. Silverman broke down that it is roughly 1/3 of the customer's cable bill is the company's cost, 1/3 is debt servicing for infrastructure investment, and 1/3 is profit. Oh and by the way, Comcast announced record profits last week, in case you hadn't heard. The Big Ten Network as also offering their HD network at no cost to the operators, which could be placed as an expanded offering in their HD tier, which generally goes for $6-10 a month.

* With regard to classic Big Ten programming, again over 4,200 basketball and football games. Some will be shown in their entirety, others will be two hour pre-production efforts which will include additional interviews with players, coaches, and the like. The plan is currently two classic Big Ten games a week.

* One questioner asked: Why not just give it away until it proves its worth? Mr. Silverman very politely replied that it's just not how it's done, and again, the Big Ten Network knows that there is value to what it is offering. It will be one of the largest television launches in history already, and hopefully, will get largest as we move through August.

* Can we get a phone number so we can talk to a real person at Comcast, which leads to a joke about the negotiation process which was funny, but because I cannot remember it in whole, I won't run with it.

Overall Impressions and Questions I am left to ponder:

I give major credit to this Open House and Commissioner Delany and Mr. Silverman for saying all the right things and making me feel that the Big Ten Network is laden with potential.

The library of 4,200 classic games astounds me, and I'll be interested to see how that rotation works.

The question I wanted to ask but couldn't figure out a way to do it without sounding potentially sexist:

It was very clear from the discussion today as well as the earlier comments from Commissioner Delany that women's athletics will play a major role on the network and will be treated as equals. The contracts obviously favor greatest access to women's sports. However, experience tells us that women's sports do not always draw the ratings numbers. Is this commitment to women's sports a long-term goal, or will adjustments be made as the data comes in? After all, as it was noted, television is, first and foremost, a business.

There was very little discussion about reaching the Big Ten alumni outside the footprint who do not have DirectTV. I think that right now, the focus is on winning the battle inside the footprint first. (So, sorry Will, your Illini will likely stay out of your reach for now.)

I do have some fears about the quality of the production, but I heard the phrase "every game in HD" so often, I no longer care.

This is going to come down to the wire, but I do ultimately think it will get done.

I did not get a parking ticket. Thank you Michigan campus security for your willingness to overlook my lack of parking permit.

Thank you for your time and I will be happy to field any questions you might have in the comments.

CDB

Monday, August 06, 2007

Lloyd "B-Rabbit" Carr

On Media Day, Shawn Crable shows the kind of thinking that makes him the anchor of this year's linebacking corps. Shawn Crable and Coach Carr at Media Day Photo taken by Daniel Mears of the Detroit News.

Friday, August 03, 2007

MMB 2007 Shows

2007 Halftime Shows:

M vs. Appalachian State: "Vegas!" Show
M vs. Oregon: "Beach Boys" Show
M vs. Notre Dame: "Guitar Hero" Show
M vs. Penn State: "Bobby Darin" Show
M vs. Eastern Michigan: "Detroit Rock City" Show
M vs. Purdue (Homecoming): "Glenn Miller" Show (plus 50th Anniversary of Jerry Bilik's "Hawaiian War Chant")
M vs. Minnesota: "Modern Broadway" Show
M @ Michigan State: "Modern Broadway" repeated
M vs. Ohio State: "Cirque du Soleil" Show

So we get to hear music from the 1960s, 1960s, probably 1980s (since Nix is arranging it), 1960s, 1960s/70s, 1950s, then Wicked and Cirque du Soleil. Initial reaction: Huh? Plus obvious disappointment that Boerma didn't arrange HOT! HOT! HOT!.

Not much variety there, but there is some potential for great things. Obviously the Guitar Hero show is the student-pleaser, continuing a tradition of catering straight to the students at least once a year (see 2003 Pirates of the Caribbean skull & crossbones set, 2004 Cartoon show w/Mario, 2005 Bohemian Rhapsody and Monty Python, 2006 Patrick Stewart appearance). The Guitar Hero show could be fantastic depending on how many visual gags are incorporated into the drill.

Hopefully they'll play "The Internet is for Porn" from Avenue Q in the Modern Broadway show as well.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

HSR Summer Round-up: Playing Harbaugh

It's summer time, and while the news has not stopped coming out of Ann Arbor, we haven't always been right on top of it. We here at HSR are OK with that, Brian at MGoBlog does it better than we ever could hope to, so we're not fretting that you, the Michigan fan, are not getting your recommended daily allowance.
However, there are some things that have come up which, while not worthy of a whole post, I wanted to discuss. So, with that in mind, I present CDB's Summer Round-up.
1). Michigan's new deal with adidas.

Honestly, more surprising than anything else, but as more details come out about it, including the "most favored school" clause and the $6.5 million signing bonus, the more I feel like Bill Martin's experience as a businessman served the athletic department well here. As a fan of uniforms, I also like the sense that adidas will not see Michigan as a laboratory for its sartorial experiments. Rather, I think adidas views Michigan as a brand and a tradition which, if respected, will bring more value to their brand. While leafing through the recent Eastbay catalog, I did note some questionable adidas gear, it was nowhere near as frequent (or as horrifying) as Nike's efforts. (The coach's shirt this season is, interesting, to say the least.) Only time will tell, but a return to the striped sleeves on the away football jerseys that were a mainstay of the 1980s and 1990s would be a nice start. (This is only personal preference, but there's something in me as a Michigan fan that loves that the winged helmet and block M on the pants are the only things the uniform needs to say "We are Michigan." Think about the "classic" uniforms in college football: Penn State, Notre Dame, USC, Alabama, and ugh yes, even Ohio State. They are all so richly steeped in tradition that I love, in a purely aesthetic sense, that what Mike Hart is wearing at Michigan Stadium in 2007 is not that radical a departure from what Tom Harmon wore at the Big House in 1940. When one of your foundations is tradition, you must step very carefully when you go to make changes. As Henry James said: " It takes an endless amount of history to make even a little tradition."

2). Michigan and Notre Dame to renew their rivalry annually until 2031
I know that the feelings are mixed on this, especially as it looks like Michigan was not able to get Notre Dame to flip on the scheduling as so to get Michigan where it did not have the Irish and the Buckeyes at home (or on the road) in the same season (which, by the way, I would like to propose a radical and possible heretical solution to this, one much easier to fix. Flip tOhio State. Within the framework of Big Ten scheduling, it has to be easier to do, right? We played Minnesota at home in back to back seasons, no? Yes, you would need to give the Buckeyes two games in a row at the Horseshoe to make it happen, but if you're really that concerned about it, isn't it a small price to pay (I would feel bad for the two classes of Michigan students who would only get one tOSU game at the Big House, but again, it's a matter of what you're willing to give up to get what you want.)

Back to the Notre Dame issue though, I like it. I always liked that the Notre Dame game was sitting right there, waiting in September. Even if the first years I really followed Michigan football intently (1988-1990), the season was ruined by that game, I still like that there's an important and meaningful game every year in September. Similarly, last season's win at South Bend was one of the purest joys I have had as a Michigan fan this millennium, as it was a perfect storm of Michigan playing the underdog role and actually coming through for a change when faced with that. I also like that Michigan and Notre Dame are as big as brands come in college football and I genuinely believe their playing every year enhances and reinforces the reputations of the other.

2b). Michigan and future non-conference scheduling

In the wake of the somewhat surprising renewal, there has been much gnashing of teeth over the sense that, in the current college football climate, this pretty much ensures that Bill Martin will use Notre Dame as an excuse to not schedule a "name" out of conference opponent to go along with the two MACrifices we know will be on the table. But I feel this overlooks three very essential premises:

a). The "current climate" in college football is always evolving.
Was it not a few years ago that name teams were lining up to play each other because strength of schedule was such a major component in the BCS formula? Two years ago, we didn't even have the 12th game, and now we do. Just because Michigan and Notre Dame will be on either other's schedules until Joe Paterno is 102 years old doesn't mean that that long-term issue will always be a reflection of the short-term realities of the every changing climate of college football.

b). The role that potential Big Ten expansion will play
I'm not going to get into the speculation related to expansion, as it's pretty much been covered here, there, and everywhere during the past week, but building off point a, what if, for the sake of argument, the Big Ten does go to twelve teams, and what if, in that expansion, one of the new scheduling dictates is that there will be a ninth conference game as so to help scheduling. Would you rather have that ninth Big Ten game, or a "name" opponent?

c). Mr. Bill Martin
I get this sense that Mr. Martin knows the landscape a lot better than any of us do. He knows what the coaches want, what the donors want, what the season ticket holders want (and do not want) and what the television people want. He knows that the alumni diaspora means that Michigan will need to play "name" opponents in places like, say, the new Meadowlands Stadium when it opens 2010 to throw a bone to Michigan's large alumni contingent in the Northeast. (OK, it would likely be 2011 for that game at the earliest because Notre Dame is road game even years, but still. Michigan/Rutgers at the New Meadowlands Stadium (capacity 84,000 by the way.) He knows that Michigan has a growing alumni contingent in the Atlanta area and that the big visionary dream of Michigan/Georgia is something that would build brand equity for both schools. I am not saying that Mr. Martin deserves our blind faith, but I do feel that he has been pretty savvy with things lately and that he may still surprise us yet.

3). Jim Harbaugh vs. Michigan
I'm not going to rehash the Harbaugh kerfuffle for everyone, but I would like to make a couple of quick points. For those who feel that Mike Hart's comments went too far or were too harsh, cut him some slack. Conventional wisdom says that sports fans hate it when athletes have no personality, but will immediately jump all over any comment that seems the least bit controversial. Mike Hart is 21 years old, and while I am sure he has more experience than almost anyone reading this piece in dealing with the media, he stated what he thought and what he felt when asked a question, even if it was not precisely polished. More to the point, I applaud him for standing up for being a Michigan man.

While some will argue that being a Michigan man (and yes, in all of these cases, I mean "Michigan man" to embrace "Michigan woman" as well) means being classy at all times and turning the other cheek when others insult you, I will agree that, in most cases, thus is true. But Jim Harbaugh went after the quality of education that Michigan football players receive and the manner in which they are purportedly tossed aside by the Michigan community when their careers are over, and to me (and from the tone of Mike Hart's comments, to Mr. Hart as well), that is hitting below the belt.

To be a Michigan man is to be proud of the fact that you attended (or attended) one of the finest universities in the world and to be proud of the education that you received there. It is, in my experience (which is informed by the fact that I grew up in Michigan wanting to go to U of M from the fourth grade on) that Michigan is rarely is every a student's second choice. You choose Michigan, for whatever reason motivates you, but you choose it, you work your tail off to prepare for it, to be good enough for it, and then, if you're lucky, it chooses you. There will be those who call you arrogant, cocky, or worse, because you so love your school, and you know it is not jealousy, but rather, you wonder, as Nick Hornby did in Fever Pitch: "But I don't know, perhaps, it's something you can't understand unless you belong?" If Michigan men take the leaders and best line too seriously perhaps at times, it is because we know that we mean it, for it is what we are taught to aspire to be. (We rib Chad Henne for saying "Excellence is good....but perfection is better." but doesn't that quote in itself speak volumes about being a Michigan man; aiming for the best possible outcome at all times? Michigan is not unique in this regard, by any means, but the sensibility is right there.) We also know that to be a Michigan man is to be a part of something larger than one's self and something that does not turn its back on members of the family, something which the evidence, even if anecdotal, seems to support. But we also know that Michigan man does not need to knock down others to make himself look or feel better, especially when those knocks are entirely self-serving. And if that was the sense of what bothered true Michigan men, like Mike Hart and Jamie Morris and Coach Carr (he's a Michigan man even if he went to Northern), about Jim Harbaugh's comments, then I applaud each of them for standing up for being a true Michigan man.

(By the way, as a side note, until I heard Mike Hart's comments, I was not aware that Tom Brady has been seen in the Patriots' locker room wearing his Michigan varsity jacket. If so, that's pretty awesome in its own demented way. [Tom Brady still has one of my favorite post-Michigan quotes from a Wolverine. In 2004, shortly after then-New England offensive coordinator Charlie Weis was hired by Notre Dame, a reporter asked him in the locker room as to whether he thought Notre Dame fans were excited to see the Patriots offense perform and Brady replied: "I don't care about Notre Dame fans. I only care about Michigan fans." But I digress.])

So that's pretty much it. We're less than a month away from kickoff, and you know it's going to be Hot, Hot, Hot.
--CDB

MMB and the stadium atmosphere

Varsity Blue asplode at the "despicable" actions taken by outgoing Michigan Marching Band director Jamie Nix! Seeing the MMB beacon shine onto the clouds above the blogosphere, HSR responds.

Both the Varsity Blue post and this response should be taken with the following caveat: Professor Boerma can and will do things differently. He's a legendary arranger who arrives armed with a war chest of music at his disposal. It behooves him to distribute it liberally this fall.

Tim writes:

In Michigan Stadium, the band is placed in the stand within the student section, so that the sound moves away from the students. This makes it difficult for all students to hear certain songs by the band, and nearly impossible for the poor freshmen in row 98, who can hear almost nothing the band plays.
There is no placement that would reach all sides of the stadium at once. Ultimately, they decided the band members are students and should be associated with their classmates. While the upper area of the student section may not be able to hear the band, the entire south side of the stadium suffered under the old arrangement. There is a possible temporary solution; these are addressed at the end of this post. However, the stadium renovations last year removed and flattened two rows specifically to accommodate the drumline and tubas. Relocating the band is not possible.

His next concern is legitimate for the most part, regarding the variety of in-game cheers played:
The students' participation in cheers led by the band is hindered not only by their inability to hear what the band is playing, but by an utter lack of these cheers in general. On any given Saturday, the band typically plays 3-4 songs with participation by students: "Temptation" (3rd down stop, with the claw and the "You Suck" chant – which I despise),
Let's never mention the Claw again; I maintain that it was an attempt by Michigan Daily football writers to rewrite tradition and invent the worst conceivable cheer to reinforce our proud history of not associating with Wolverines themselves (for the same reason we don't have a guy in a wolverine costume on the sidelines). Instead, they got bamboozled.
"Hawaiian War Chant" (I think, it's the one they play on most first downs, with the hands in the air and the "Let's Go Blue" at the end),
That one is just called "Cheer #1." "Hawaiian War Chant" is played during the postgame show immediately after "Temptation."
"Let's Go Blue" (random, with clapping and yelling "Let's Go Blue" at the end), and "The Victors" (With the singing, and the clapping, and the fist pumping, etc.). If there are any others I'm forgetting, let me know, but this is still sparse, sparse stuff.
If you don't get excited when you hear that one song "with the singing, clapping, and fist pumping," that is not the band's fault. Other songs that students get involved in include "Respect" between the third and fourth quarters of every game, and "Livin' on a Prayer" when warranted. "Ironman" may have been phased out by "Kashmir" this year. The Key Play fiasco is then mentioned and its persistence misattributed:
The band endorses the GD3DKPT by remaining silent, and wiggling their hands in the air, without even having keys to make noise. This renders them literally silent, at a time when every soul in the stadium should be making as much noise as possible.
Much has already been said about the GD3DKPT. At the very least it should accompany screaming at the top of one's lungs and never, ever replace it. However, as an "insider to the ways of the band," let me dismiss the accusations that the band remains silent. On third downs especially, it was quite the opposite. I can't speak for every one at every play, but having spent a year in the student section as well as four in the band, nobody ever supported the team as loudly, consistently, or vocally, with the intensity that the band does. This is true everywhere. The students in the band are the most supportive fans the team has.

The post goes on to blast Nix for not playing The Yellow and Blue at the final whistle:

A very important tradition in college football is the playing of the school's alma mater at the conclusion of the contest, win or lose.
In fact, the Michigan Marching Band does this.
Matt Leinart, confetti flowing around him, conducts the Sprit of Troy in "All Hail" after the Trojans clinch the National Championship over Oklahoma in January 2005. Jim Tressel and his fellow coaches and players stopping in front of the Block O to sing "Carmen Ohio," before (while) the students in Columbus stormed the field after defeating Michigan in 2006.
(The cynic's response: You want us to be more like the USC or OSU band?) Nix may have done those things anyway, but during his tenure Michigan never (a) won a national championship, or (b) defeated OSU at home to proceed, undefeated, to the MNC game. Sadly, all we can do is speculate. During his one Outback Bowl victory, I do remember BJ Askew climbing the ladder with his broken arm to conduct the MMB in "The Victors," which was equally poignant. We hope that Mr. Boerma gets to crack open the under-used folder labeled ABSOLUTE VICTORY this year.
[Nix's] (remarkably rude) response was that he would do things the way he wanted, and if fans wanted to hear the alma mater, they could wait until the end of the postgame show. I can only hope that the new director has the respect for college football tradition (and concerned fans) that Mr. Nix so clearly lacked.
A time-honored tradition at Michigan football games is the postgame show. The band incorporates the alma mater into that; as such, the alma mater at the conclusion of the postgame show leading straight into a Victors trio has itself become the MMB's tradition. Perhaps the people who lack respect for college football traditions are the ones who leave the stadium too soon after the game ends. If you really want to hear it, Tim, stick around. It's always a good show, and Y&B always gets played.

Suggestions for improvement follow.

WHAT THE BAND CAN'T DO:

  • Move. At least not until the next time they go through and dig up the seats.
  • Sell out. We're not going to pipe in German techno, or anything for that matter, nor should the band learn to play some tacky song just because it has words the students might scream along to.
  • Play the alma mater during the game. Stay for the postgame show. Y&B is also played during pregame at Homecoming.
  • Get the students in row 98 off their damn cell phones. Apathy is a worse problem than being able to hear the band.
WHAT THE BAND SHOULD DO:
  • Play more music in the stands. In general. More playing. Between plays, between possessions, and especially if the team is losing. No more frustrated silence. Those who stay will be champions.
  • Play fewer traditionals in the stands. This means less of The Victors, Let's Go Blue, etc., which are often played over and over. I understand the rationale for doing so: Calling up The Victors when the team is losing is a very safe bet. It guarantees people will pay attention and respond, but after a few times, it loses some impact. What to play instead--
  • Incorporate more halftime show music into stands cheers. This solves the first two problems in an easy way, since it doesn't require memorization above and beyond what's already asked (the main drawback to not learning new music, since we don't use flip folders).
  • More directional playing. Professor Nix occasionally would cue a song and instruct the band to turn and project their sound to a side, end zone, or behind them. This would have to be a song familiar to the band, so it can be played without a conductor in view (which may contribute to the "utter lack" of variety), but it excites the crowd that otherwise has not heard the band throughout the day.
  • Get students involved in the drum cheers. An advantage to the new location of the band is the students can now hear the drumline cheers. Coming up with unified chants/motions to accompany these drum cheers, which many sections in the band already do, could easily spread throughout the student section.
While some of the accusations were baseless, the bottom line is the band should -- and easily can -- do more to improve the gameday atmosphere. Non tam pares quam superiores, as they say: Each successive year must not be equal to, but better than, before.