Tuesday, October 30, 2012

HOCKEYBEAR's Guide to Campus Destruction V: California Institute of Technology

HOCKEYBEAR is not impressed by The Big Bang Theory. First, it's the Big Bang FACT - the ur-explosion from which even my greatest destructions pale in comparison. Second, it indulges in the laziest stereotyping of graduate students possible. If you're going to stereotype Caltech graduate students, at least stereotype them accurately. The Big Bang Theory's costume design goes to great effort to make Sheldon et al. appear anti-fashionable by outfitting them with ugly or bizarre clothes. In actuality, Caltech graduate students are, at worst, unfashionable in that they wear T-shirts, jeans/khakis/skirts, and comfortable shoes. Based on HOCKEYBEAR's observations, this is what about 80% of humans would wear 80% of the time in a casual workplace. It's like people who work at an institute of technology are more interested in SCIENCE than FASHION.

Antifashion. When antifashion and fashion collide, the resulting energy release
is large enough to keep Joan Rivers alive for another year.

Actual Caltech grad students. Note that their clothes are boring.
Photo from www.gradoffice.caltech.edu. For some reason they
had no photos with both male and female students. HOCKEYBEAR
is not impressed.
I spend a fair amount of time in Pasadena, checking out the progress at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. I could just give the JPL the mass of accumulated aerospace knowledge that space bears have gathered over the years, but we have an agreement not to divulge these technologies to humans until such time as you learn not to be boorish, violent, embarrassments. Despite what you may have seen in Star Trek: First Contact, the development of warp drive technology is not the events that provokes alien species into instigating contact. Alien species are waiting until the time when humans evolve far enough as a species to form an intelligent and well-reasoned YouTube commentariat. Keeping humans for advancing too far into space before this happens is why HOCKEYBEAR keeps destroying the International Space Station.

I was dismayed to learn the Caltech was guilty of using thirty ineligible players between 2007 and 2011. If a school is going to blatantly disregard NCAA rules in order to preserve a class registration schedule that it feels is optimal for educating its undergraduate students, they should at least win a few games as a result. What they need is a HOCKEYBEAR to transform Caltech into an athletic powerhouse. Caltech, prepare to receive of generous helping of rage!

Sunday, October 28, 2012


Man down. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

[Ed. Note: Counting Crows didn't write a down tempo song called "Lincoln" so "Omaha", close enough.]

Start tearing the old man down
Run past the heather and down to the old road
Start turning the grain into the ground
Roll a new leaf over
In the middle of the night there's an old man
Treading around in the gathered rain
Hey mister if you want to walk on water
Would you drop a line my way

Duct tape.  It's was held together with duct tape, hope, and rolling dice.  And now the questions will come for the coaching staff, although any questions to Greg Mattison will likely consist of "Why can't you guys score too?"  But we caught a glimpse of a future we will need to face all too soon, a future without Denard Robinson.  That future consisted of three field goals total output on offense.

Somewhere in middle America
Get right to the heart of matters
It's the heart that matters more
I think you'd better turn your ticket in
And leave your money right at the door

Because Michigan never lead in this game, it was, somehow, amazingly, less frustrating than one might think.  Maybe it was the let down of the Tigers not doing anything on offense during the World Series, maybe it was just knowing that when Denard went down, on a play where I was, in the middle of the run, praising him for getting the first down instead of getting out of bounds, injuring his elbow, and by extension, losing his grip on his throwing hand, it was going to take something close to a miracle to win in Lincoln.  So I wasn't happy, but there was a weird knowing.  Knowing that the defense is still pretty stout (although it looks like we're going to have one "The Hell?" drive per game.  Disappointed, but somehow, it's like I knew this was the end result.

Start threading the needle
Brush past the shuttle that slides through the cold room
Start turning the wool across the wire
Roll the new life over
In the middle of the night there's an old man
Threading his toes through a bucket of rain
Hey mister if you want to walk on water
You're only going to walk all over me

I want to believe in Russell Bellomy, because I don't think the Michigan coaching staff is stupid.  They clearly saw something in him that made them believe that the Gardner to WR move could work.  But sadly, those things did not materialize last night during the game.  When Russell has as many completions to Nebraska players as he did to Michigan players, that is beyond troubling (admittedly, I cannot understand how in the world that first interception was, in fact, an interception.  It wouldn't have been a catch if Smith had held on, so how could it be an interception?  More bafflingly still, how was there no review?  Credit to Bellomy for his hustle to get back and save four points, but still.)  When Nebraska penalties are the only means by which you can move the ball, well, the whole thing needs to get rethought.  The sad thing for Bellomy is that he's going to need something pretty amazing to work on building some equity with Michigan fans.  It doesn't make it right, but right now, there's a preference for the Devil you don't when it comes to next year.  (Although, really, there have been fewer freshmen quarterbacks about whom we have known more than the Senator.)

Somewhere in middle America
Get right to the heart of matters
It's the heart that matters more
I think you'd better turn your ticket in
And leave your money right at the door

Start running the banner down
Drop past the color come up through the summer rain
Start turning the girl into the ground
Roll a new life over
In the middle of the night there's a young man
Rolling around in the earth and rain
Hey mister if you're going to walk on water, you know
You're only going to walk all over me

I'm not going to rail against Borges.  I am not qualified to do so, and I am sure there is a plan, even if I don't understand it.  However, I am utterly confused by Michigan's personnel decisions.  Drew Dileo was "The Threat" last week, this week I couldn't remember seeing him on the field.  Devin Funchess was thought to maybe be the next coming of Jim Mandich, now largely absent (admittedly, he dropped an easy one that may have given Bellomy some confidence late in the first half.  Perhaps freshmen are still freshmen.)  Thomas Rawls looks good against Purdue and Illinois, but can't find the field against Nebraska.  I never presume I know more than the people being paid and paid well to do the job, but it is just something confusing.

Somewhere in middle America
Get right to the heart of matters
It's the heart that matters more
I think you'd better turn your ticket in
And leave your money right at the door

So we hope that Denard's elbow/hand is OK, we hope that if it's not, Michigan gets its affairs in order this week during practice, and take solace in the fact that the last time we went to Minnesota, in the darkest depths of the autumn of our discontent, a walk-on went 18/30 for 203 and a touchdown and we got five field goals to keep our hands on the Jug.  We may need whatever we can find to keep whatever hopes of Indy, let alone Pasadena, are alive in the most optimistic corners of our hearts.

Denard Injury Update!!!

Here's my cat, napping in the baby bouncer

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Denard on Kickoffs and Media Savvy

[Editor's note: Too long for a tweet, too short for a full blown post, but this has been kicking around in my head all week and I needed to get it out.]

There are time where I firmly believe I am an inverse conspiracy theorist, which is to say I see hidden in the world positive conspiracies, ones designed to benefit rather than to hard.

Brady Hoke could teach a class in football coach media misdirection.  Denard on the kickoff return team last Saturday was a prime example of this.

1). Hoke knew someone would spot it.  If Michigan lost, it probably wouldn't come up, but if it did, it would change the discussion.  If Michigan won, it probably would come up and Brady would give the media just enough to make them think it's something that wasn't a mistake or a one shot deal, but it also might not be anything.

2). Local sports media, largely consumed with the Tigers World Series bid, has no real desire to talk about a meh 12-10 game last weekend, but when someone asks about Denard on the kickoff return team at Brady's presser on Monday, it becomes a note.  By Wednesday's presser, it's a thing and a thing.  People are debating and discussing the merits and potential flaws in the plan, but they're talking about Michigan.

3). They are not, however, talking about Michigan's game plan for this week against Nebraska, they're not looking at Nebraska's rather potent offense, not looking at the difficulties of playing at Memorial Stadium.  The questions stay on Brady's interesting choice.

4). It's on tape, which means Urban will see it.  Urban will now need to consider the possibility, which steals away maybe just one or two cycles of processing from Meyer's staff.  Maybe it ends up being nothing, but what if they head fake lets Dennis Norfleet break one?

Again, this could be nothing.  It could be a tempest in a teapot.  But I think it's a calculated move on Brady's part to focus on the ephemera and not the big stuff that the players might worry about.  If so, well played Coach Hoke.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Build-A-HOCKEYBEAR Workshop

I am not a big fan of Build-A-Bear Workshop. Building's just not my thing, you know? Building is the thesis, HOCKEYBEAR is the antithesis, and ruins are the synthesis. It's all about the Hegel. I am rather annoyed that Build-A-Bear does not offer zoologically accurate stuffed bears like Wild Republic does, but as an anthropomorphic bear myself, I can't get too upset about that. I made my peace with them when I discovered that they have USPS as an option for shipping online orders, and thus, unlike many companies, do not charge outrageous fees for shipping to Alaska.

In a world full of Tom Gholstons, Gary Bettmans, fake Grimlocks, and giant ducks, I can't help but feel protective of the tiny humans that are not yet ready to face all the scary things in life. However, even HOCKEYBEAR cannot be in all places at all times, taking care of the tiny humans. So, for the times when I can't be around, I have the next-best solution for the tiny humans: stuffed HOCKEYBEARS of their very own!

Here's a polar bear that came from the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh. He's hanging out with his penguin buddies and beloved Russian children's character Чебурашка (Cheburashka). A-DORABLE.

Now here he is, transformed into a fearless, destructive, HOCKEYBEAR! He's ending a game of Monopoly the way every game of Monopoly ends, with a flurry of rage and chaos!

You too can make a HOCKEYBEAR for yourself or for your tiny human. We'll show you how, after the jump!

It's not plagiarism if its from the 1940s...

Just so I'm clear, that's the same tiger just in different colors, right?
Also, Truman stole Wolverbear's hat.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

October 20 isn't just a date... it's a state of mind

It's great that Mark Dantonio finally has to stop his childish gambino act.

Circumstances did not allow me to watch Saturday's game on television. The problem with listening to football on the radio is that Tim Brando make every run seem equally exciting. LeVeon Bell pushes his way forward for two yards sounds exactly the same as Fitzgerald Toussaint hits a hole for four yards, which sounds exactly the same at Denard Robinson bounces to the outside for seven yards. I found the best way for me to keep track of Michigan's status was by tracking the coherence of Ace Anbender's tweets.

Is this a Mathlete win probability chart or an Ace Anbender literacy chart?
In all the craziness and pain and suffering, I almost forgot that this was a classic Sparty, No! ending, complete with a key Tommy Gholston penalty on Michigan's final drive and the hilarious last-second attempt at a kickoff return. Even so, I think B1G fans are being too hard on the conference these days. If Iowa 12, Michigan 10 can be a classic game in 1985, Michigan 12, MSU 10 can be a classic game in 2012. If SEC fans can extol LSU 9, Alabama 6 as an all-time classic defensive struggle, we can do the same with 12-10. Jake M.F. Ryan. Jordan Kovacs. Never letting LeVeon Bell getting more than eight yards on a carry. Two top-ranked defenses doing their thing, and the game ultimately being decided by two awesome kickers doing their thing. #positweet, posiblog, whatever. Let's have a little conference chestpumping*.

Those defenses forced MSU into what may be the overlooked play of the game, their decision to kick a field goal from 4th and goal from the one. Michigan's was so effective the Dantonio didn't trust Bell to get one yard. MSU's was so effective that a one-point lead looked like it might be insurmountable. But in the end, it all came down to has the ball last, as it so often does.

It may have been painful to watch. After four years, it may be more of a cause for relief than celebration. Either way, let's look back on this day and be happy.
  • When your Sparty relative has to shut up for a year, that's October 20th.
  • When Mark Dantonio has to give Denard his credit, that's October 20th.
  • Whenever half the SEC is under .500, that's October 20th.
  • When ohio pulls out a big comeback that will in no way help them go to a bowl game, that's October 20th.
  • When your team win 900 games, that's October 20th.
  • When Michigan celebrates New Year's Day in Pasadena, that's October 20th.
When you stop celebrating, hyperventilating, or overanalyzing and start preparing for Nebraska, that's October 21st.

*The current eligible B1G division leaders, Michigan and Wisconsin, have four total losses, three to undefeated teams in the Top 10, and one a three-point loss on the road. That's not great, but it's not Big East levels of failure.


Keith Stone FTW.
And now, the pieced together transcript of the conversation that occurred in my head between the rational side of my brain (to protect his identity, we'll call him Spock in the transcript) and the passionate, action oriented side of my brain (to protect his identity, we'll call him Kirk in the transcript)

Spock: Well, Michigan was quite fortunate to have won that game.

Kirk: Woooo!  Don't care!  Wooooo!  Woooo!  Woooo!

Spock: Four field goals is hardly the offensive output necessary over the long term to win the Big Ten Championship.

Kirk: Don't care!  Don't care!  Woooooo!  Woooo!  What the Dileo?!?  Wooo!

Spock: And to garner those four field goals in a home game against a team that is coming off a home loss to Iowa, (editor's note: an Iowa team that would get its doors blown off at home by Penn State later in the evening) it is worrisome to say the least, no?

Kirk: Don't care!  Don't care!

Spock: You aren't troubled by the dropped balls by the receivers?  By the missed opportunities?  By the nine tackles for loss Michigan State had?  None of this bothers you.

Kirk: Nope, Don't care!  12 > 10.  Mathman, Mathman. 12 is greater than 10.

Spock:  But it's not like you can even brag about this.  Michigan won a game it had no business winning.  You know it, Michigan State fans know it, the entire country knows it?  How can you be taking such great pleasure from this?

Kirk: [straightens up, adjusts imaginary tie in universal symbol of pulling one's act together.]  Because I don't have to say anything.  I don't need to brag.  I don't need to say anything.  I'd rather focus on it being Michigan's 900th all-time victory than over whom they beat, simply because I know for the next year, I don't have to put up with anything.  No taunts, no "Little Sister" attempts at spin, no "Curse of Mike Hart" malarkey, no "Pride goes before the fall", none of that.  Because it's over.  Order has been restored to the college football universe, at least on a Michigan level.

Spock: Fascinating.  But let me ask you this...how mad are you at David Brandon right now?  Right now Michigan is viewed as a disappointing 5-2, whereas in a normal year, Michigan would likely be sitting at 6-1 having played a lower level team or a MAC school instead of Alabama to open the season?

Kirk: Thanks a lot Commander Buzzkill.  Nope, don't care.  900 wins.

Captain's courageous.  (Alternately, only one of these teams is wearing a ridiculous looking helmet.)
Bulletlike substance:

  • I had this thesis that Michigan's offensive game plan in the first half was to setup tendencies for Michigan State which is to say I thought Borges just told Denard we'll give you some early run, if you get yards great, if you can't don't worry because it'll be there in a second half, we'll just give the ball to Fitz or to Gallon on a sweep and that should open up space for you.  Maybe it didn't work out but it's interesting to see how it happened.  I'll be very interested to see the UFR if I am right on that.
  • I also think that I could be completely wrong about this I need to see the UFR but I think Michigan State had a scripted 15 play drive practiced like crazy all week and they said for the second half, tight game, knowing all of the looks Michigan was giving them that I think the touchdown drive became about execution execution execution and that was because they practiced all week and they came out a locker room and knew they could run that second run well that's exactly what they did.  I've also seen rumors that Dantonio himself called that drive, which raises more questions than not if it's true.
  • Brendan Gibbons is as great a story you could want, from the guy couldn't make a single chicks to someone who will go down in Michigan history as having made two of the  biggest kicks in Michigan football history.  (Also, I knew we were all set, he was wearing Phil Brabbs' #34 and kicking toward the north end zone.  That's as good as it gets.)  Similarly, Drew Dileo, four catches, none under fifteen yards, there when you needed him, and four critical holds.  When you need a new hero to step to the fore, there you go with the man wearing the slot ninja #9.
  • I will stand by this: Michigan students weren't rushing the field for beating Michigan State, they were rushing the field for having win the 900th game in school history.  It's what you do when you win 900 games as a program.  You can't prove otherwise.  It has happened every time a school has won 900 games.
  • Welcome home Paul.  Big Jon Falk may need to put a call in to Rick Dale of Rick's Restorations, because Paul's looking a little rough after four years in the wild.
  • Another night game, this time with Nebraska where we might be the fifth or sixth most exciting sporting event in that slot from a national perspective.   Don't care.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Century Marks

If I am making a rare mid-week post, it must be a big deal.  Michigan is currently sitting on win #899 just won Game #900, so I thought as I added these games to the Michigan History Calendar, I would put together some stats on the eight previous "Century" wins for Michigan.  We're not saying that this is going to happen this weekend, we're just saying that Michigan has 899 wins.  No, we're saying it now because it happened.

Win #100: October 5, 1901, 57-0 win over Case at Regents Park

Win #200: October 9, 1915, 35-0 win over Mount Union at Ferry Field

Win #300: October 1, 1932, 26-0 win over Michigan State College at Michigan Stadium

Win #400: October 23, 1948, 26-14 win over Minnesota at Memorial Stadium, Minneapolis, MN

Win #500: October 11, 1967, 21-14 win over Illinois at Memorial Stadium, Champaign, IL

Win #600: October 21, 1978, 42-0 win over Wisconsin at Camp Randall Stadium, Madison, WI

Win #700: November 4, 1989, 42-27 win over Purdue at Michigan Stadium

Win #800: September 30, 2000, 13-10 win over Wisconsin at Michigan Stadium

Win #900: October 20, 2012, 12-10 win over Michigan State at Michigan Stadium

Various notes:
Fielding Yost and Bo Schembechler both earned two "Century" wins (#100 and #200 for Yost, #500 and #600 for Bo).  Kipke, Bennie, Bump, Lloyd, and Brady have earned the other five.

Six of Michigan's century wins have occurred at home, three on the road.

The first six Century wins and the ninth one all occurred in the month of October, the last seventh and eighth within four days of October.  October is clearly the month for Century wins.

Year to year isn't a fair comparison, but here's the number of games it took to reach each "Century" victory.

001-100 135 games 135
100-200 120 games 255
200-300 135 games 390
300-400 142 games 532
400-500 178 games 710
500-600 120 games 830
600-700 135 games 965
700-800 131 games 1096
800-900 159 games 1255

You'd be shocked to discover that Yost's Point-a-Minute teams and Bo's dominant 1970s teams were able to do it in just 120 games, winning at an .833 clip to get there fastest.  The longest gap between Century wins is between wins 400-500 between 1948 and 1967, the Oosterbaan/Bump era, winning at just a .561 clip.  The gap between 800 and 900 checks in at the second longest in terms of games, as the 800-900 century is sitting at roughly a .667 winning percentage, but because of the expanded schedules of the last decade, Michigan is still on pace to earn another century win in just 12 years.

Given Michigan's all-time winning percentage at .735, it would take roughly 11.25 years to get to the millennium mark at that pace.  So you may want to work on your 2023 season ticket package now.

Sunday, October 14, 2012


This is going to be much harder next year when the answer is not just "pick the cool picture of Denard."  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
You're going to get wet.  I think you need to realize that.  So you call upon your years of Big House experience to do the little things, like have your poncho at the ready, put your wallet in a Ziploc bag, put on old socks and old shoes, and then don't really move that much when you get to your seat.  But you have a plan and you stick to the plan and everything should be pretty much as good as it can be.

Illinois is not a very good football team.  I think that anyone who has looked at them in the post-Zook knows it's going to take them some time to get back to competitive, but they don't really have a Juice Williams/Mikel LeShoure level talent on this roster right now.  Nathan Scheelhaase isn't bad, but when he was knocked out of the game in the second quarter with a concussion, it pretty much assured that Illinois had no real shot of coming back.

I don't know that you can call 45-0 "workmanlike" because there were a lot of exciting plays in the game, three scoring plays of 49+ yards will do that, but the whole game just felt like "This is an opponent on our schedule.  Let's go out and do what we did in practice and everything will be A-OK."  Denard continued to look like the mature senior quarterback we wanted him to be (7 completions on just 11 passes in a rainy day in Ann Arbor when you didn't really need to do much more helps the cause.) Denard's 33 yard run in the second quarter when he returned to the game after tweaking his pinky is a perfect example.  Younger Denard would have tried to make the end zone, get the last ten yards and get the touchdown.  Instead, Denard ran out of bounds, took the first down and then two plays later ran it in for six yards for the TD.  Solid positive decision making.

(Also, a side note, I feel like this is an inversion of the 2008 "Juice Williams runs wild game" where Illinois whipped RichRod's first year team 45-20.  The skilled running quarterback just running roughshod over an overmatched defense.  Bigger difference is Michigan held Illinois to zero points.)

Meanwhile Jake Ryan is playing like a man possessed.  His stat line is  was a career high tying 11 tackles, including three and a half tackles for loss, one and a half sacks and a forced fumble.  If you wanted a Legends patch on someone playing like a legend right now, Jake Ryan is doing the things to earn that approbation and acclaim.

So now it's on to Michigan State and the Michigan State that stands before us at the present moment is not the titanic presence that we were told to expect in the pre-season.  They're 4-3 and while their losses to Notre Dame and Ohio State are comparable to Michigan's to Notre Dame and Alabama, the loss to Iowa yesterday was much more reminiscent of the pre-Dantonio era.  I have no doubts that Sparty will be up for the game (In fact, I wonder if there will be any talk of "looking ahead" to explain Iowa away), but I think Michigan knows what is on the line.  I think they know that the trip to Pasadena requires taking out this divisional rival, the first of five in a row, and "restoring order" to the universe.

Time will tell, but I feel alot better about this weekend forthcoming than I did three weeks ago.

"Go with the flow." (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Bullets (Updated!):
  • I thought we had rid ourselves of "In The Big House", but no, now it has a music video.  Stop, just stop.
  • My hands were too cold and my phone was ensconced in my jacket under my poncho so I could not get out my traditional "Damn You Journey" tweet out in time.  I do apologize.
  • Dennis Norfleet, in addition to looking interesting on kick returns, was dancing along with "Seven Nation Army" on the sidelines.  Thought we wouldn't notice, but we did.
  • Really, I could have like six anti-Special K bullets here, but will it really do any good?
  • Josh Furman now holds my personal record for most obvious "Yeah, that's a penalty" I have ever seen.
  • Michigan nearly covered the 48 O/U number without any help from the Illini.
  • Um, what was up with the Wave going clockwise yesterday?  Are we blaming the weather?
  • Props to the fans two rows ahead of us who helped out the dad with his elementary school age kid by giving them a poncho and trying to make a lousy wet Michigan fall day a bit better for a kid who was probably at his first Michigan game.  We often talk about negative fan experiences in the stands, but that was a great moment of kindness and deserves to be mentioned.
  • It is only fitting that on a day when Gerald Ford was honored, Jack Kennedy got to complete a pass.
  • That was win #899.  That should be kind of fun if things go well next weekend.  Also, it was Michigan's 352nd consecutive game with points, putting them just nine shy of BYU's all-time NCAA record for most games without being shut out.
  • Man, these are way more fun to write than the dirges and elegies.

Error Bars

Something I find irritating about all college football polls, even the vastly superior Blogpoll, is they don't give voters room to express uncertainty. A search for the phrase "I don't know, man" on MGoBlog's main page yields 70 hits; surprisingly, only six of them are from Blogpoll posts describing the hebdomadal* struggle to figure out who should be ranked 20th and who should be ranked 25th.

You could argue with a straight face that, based on results, Michigan could be the third best team in the country. After all, its only losses are to an undefeated Alabama and and undefeated Notre Dame. Michigan could be better than undefeateds like Kansas State, Oregon State, Louisville, or Rutgers, and you'd probably bet on Michigan to beat Rutgers right now.

Strict resumé balloting errs in the opposite direction and ranks each team according to how bad they could possibly be. Who has Michigan beaten? Purdue? Air Force? Illinois!? UMass!?? With a set of wins like that, you can reasonably argue that U-M is the 50th or 60th best team of the country. Especially if you argue that Notre Dame is a mirage that didn't actually beat Stanford. Resumé balloting is more honest than voting with your gut, but it still hides the fact that, six weeks into the season, where many teams should rank is still a mystery. Is Michigan third? Unlikely. Is Michigan fiftieth? Also unlikely. But we just don't know, man.

GIF of Stanford's overtime touchdown credit SBNation, obviously.
One thing we do know is the defense put in an amazing performance against Illinois.  They were held to 3.3 yards per carry (with a standard deviation of 5.1 yards). These two stats indicate that not only did the D hold the Illini in check, but that they kept them from pulling off many big runs; in fact, Illinois only had one run of over ten yards all day, the Nathan Scheelhaase dash that knocked him out of the game. If you calculate the standard error about the mean, it's 0.14 yards, suggested that if U-M and Illinois face of again and again, Michigan would hold them to under 3.5 YPC again and again and again. That's consistency. That's dominance.

On the one hand, we have a vast amount of uncertainty about how good this team is overall. On the other hand, we have a lot of evidence, especially over the last three weeks, to suggest that Greg Mattison has worked his magic once again and produced another unparalleled defense. There are lots of reasons to be confident about the second half of the season, but there are also lots of reasons to be unsure. If we can be leave this game 100% sure of anything, it's that Danielle is the luckiest girl on earth, even luckier than Tommy Rees.

Photo by Ace.
With Michigan State coming up, it's not the time for smack talk yet. Let's let Jake Ryan continue his hebdomadal smacking next Saturday and then we'll talk.

*Hebdomadal means "occuring every seven days." Similarly, "nychthemeral" mean "occurring every twenty-four hours." These words have subtly different meanings than "weekly" and "daily." English is weird. Thanks to @sgtwolverine for retweeting the word of the day.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Humilibreakdown: "OU Anthem" vs. "We are ND"

The greatest period in Oklahoma football history was from 1953-1957, when the Sooners won 47 straight games until finally being toppled by Notre Dame, 7-0. The University of Oklahoma still seeks revenge against Notre Dame for ending their streak and they have been waiting for Notre Dame to show some sort of prolonged competence in football so that they can go out and best whatever record the Irish may set. However, their impatience has gotten to them, and OU is trying to defeat Notre Dame in the only area where the Irish are the undisputed champions: making humiliating hype videos. In the HSR's first-ever Humilibreakdown (TM), we judge between the horrors of "We are ND" and "OU Anthem."

1. TIMING. "We are ND" was posted on YouTube on April 29, 2010, reportedly after it premiered at Notre Dame's athletic awards banquet. In hindsight, this was a very poor time to release the video, as late April and early May is a fairly slow sports period, and thus the blogosphere had plenty of time to mercilessly savage it. On the other hand, "OU Anthem" was posted to YouTube two days before the biggest scheduled event on the Oklahoma sporting calendar, a Red River Shootout which also serves as a de facto elimination game for both Oklahoma and Texas's national title hopes. "OU Anthem" was also posted more than two years after "We Are ND," which should have given OU's administration a hint that videos featuring sickly idiots do not successfully motivate fanbases. DISADVANTAGE: OKLAHOMA.

2. SICKLY IDIOT. While Freekbass's performance in "We Are ND" is worthy of the legendary mockery it has garnered, we have to grudgingly admit that Freakbass does appear to be a talented musician, even if his style has as much place at Notre Dame as Lee Greenwood's has at the Sorbonne. Oklahoma's skinny idiot, on the other hand, does not appear to possess any talent whatsoever. DISADVANTAGE: OKLAHOMA.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Know of Foe: University of Windsor

With apologies to the M-Zone, we present the second installment of "Know of Foe," our annual preview of Michigan hockey's Canadian exhibition opponent.

After today's Blue vs. White game, Michigan takes on its first extramural competition this season with a visit from the University of Windsor Lancers. No university in Canada is closer to the U.S. border, and the university's Wikipedia page helpfully notes: "Many students take advantage of their proximity to Michigan for cultural, recreational and educational opportunities." Located in the shadow of the Ambassador Bridge, UWindsor students and faculty spend most of their days hoping that Matty Maroun's dilapidated span of corruption doesn't collapse on top of them.

(Political aside: First, make sure you're registered to vote. Second, vote no on Proposal 6. Canada's giving you a free bridge, for Pierre's sake!)
"The contemporary design [of the logo] speaks to many of the school’s values of creating dynamic connections and forward momentum." The wordmark is "clean, bold, and sophisticated." Seriously.
UWindsor introduced a new logo in 2007, and, unless you want to read some of the most contentless corporate speak imaginable, do not click on that link. At the same time, they adopted the slogan "thinking forward," which supposedly "states the University's vision for the future and claims the leadership position in its sector," whatever the hell that means. Considering that UWindsor has a long-held reputation of one of Ontario's safety schools, it probably means they plan to stop being a safety school. Best of luck with that!

Saturday, October 06, 2012


Let's be clear, we've seen this movie a number of times and we still love it. (AP Photo by Michael Conroy)
(The great irony of this column is that I am the only member of the writing team here who does not hold an engineering degree from Michigan.  So I may get some of the details wrong, but I am not letting that stand in the way of a clever premise.)

Purdue gets a lot of play as an "engineering school" and there's obviously something fair about this*, after all, it is the #11 rated engineering graduate school in the country and it does have a lot of very successful engineering graduates.  But, here's the thing.  Michigan is also an engineering school, in fact, it has the #9 rated engineering graduate school in the country, in addition to highly rated law and medical schools to name just two more.  Basically, Michigan not only does the thing that Purdue does best as well as Purdue does if not better, it also does lots of other things better.

(*-I also think people think of Purdue as an engineering school because their mascot is a train and that's just how people's brains work.)

I think it was easy to believe that "Bad Denard" was going to show up because we only tend to remember the last thing we have seen.  But Denard's apology after the Notre Dame game, and all of the right things we heard from the team and the coaches during the bye week* brought me to the conclusions that this was going to be an OK day.  It didn't make me any less fearful about the game, but I had staked out my position ahead of the game on that ground.

(*-We call it a bye week, but technically it is not.  A bye is a round off in a tournament setting that allows you to advance to the next round of play without having played.  If anything, it's an open date.  This is also semantics.)

The first quarter was a clinic of what you can do with an extra week to prepare and to work on execution.  13 of 17 plays on a nearly nine minute drive were rushes.  Some were Denard, some were Fitz, a couple to Jeremy Gallon, one to Vincent Smith, but in the end, the variety and the execution put Michigan up 7-0 in the middle of the first quarter and everything started to click.  No matter how good people thought Purdue's front seven were on defense, Michigan looked better in all phases of the game.  Even the small things, like Brendan Gibbons dropping it exactly on the crossbar (which is actually harder when you think about it) or the bad exchange between Denard and Vincent Smith that led to the fumble and Purdue's late score in the first half and that slight tightening of the collar that you can't help but get when bad things happen.

But the predicted doom and gloom never came.  Michigan looked like a team that had two losses to teams ranked in the top ten and Purdue looked like a team who had three wins over some of the dregs of FBS.  We don't know a lot of things after September.  Some things are obvious, usually which teams are really good and which teams are really bad, but we also don't know a lot about the middle because of the imbalance of schedules.  Would we feel better about Michigan if the Alabama game had been, say, Buffalo or Ball State?  Probably, but we don't have that luxury now.  But we do know that no one who is eligible to play in the Big Ten championship game is really that much better than anyone else.  Today we saw Northwestern lose to Penn State, we saw Michigan State struggle with Indiana, a sentence I had difficulty typing over the sheer incredulity of it, and Nebraska and Ohio State trade points and make people question the existence of their defense.  Michigan answered its critics in a way that no other Big Ten team can claim today.

Michigan still has a way to go, but I liked what I saw today much more than I have at any point during this season.  Jake Ryan started out today strong, Raymon Taylor gives me hope, and I liked the tackling fundamentals out there.  Michigan isn't a great team, but it's a very good team, and a very good team may be all that is needed to win the Big Ten this year.

Never a dull moment!  Oddly, not pointing.  (AP photo by Michael Conroy)
So Homecoming week, a blast from the past to come, yet another game not starting at noon, and our second straight game outside the division.  Let's make it count.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

HOCKEYBEAR's Guide to Campus Destruction IV: University of Phoenix

Let no one say that HOCKEYBEAR is not a supporter of non-traditional education, especially since I have a non-traditional education myself. You small humans may know that the traditional education for terrestrial polar bears is very basic -- essentially just swimming lessons and a reminder to cover your nose while stalking prey. For space polar bears, the level of education is more advanced. We need to cover Bernoulli's principle and other basics of fluid mechanics, flight school and aerodynamics, and, or course, hockey. HOCKEYBEAR's education is non-traditional because I have obtained several advanced degrees in order to gain the knowledge necessary to have a successful career in epic destruction. I have Ph.D.s in aerospace engineering, optics (for laser hockey stick building), civil engineering (to know the weak points of structures that need to be destroyed) and vulcanology. I also have numerous honorary degrees; I am most proud of the day when UAF granted me an honorary MFA -- MASTER OF FRAKKIN' AWESOMENESS.

Despite HOCKEYBEAR's overwhelming support for education, both traditional and non-traditional, I am ENRAGED by many of the schools that provide non-traditional education in the United States. While I think there is nothing wrong with wanting to have a comfortable career in teaching, HOCKEYBEAR thinks for-profit education always goes wrong for a simple reason. The sort of human who decides to start a business on the model that "People don't know things they need to know. I want to make millions of dollars off of that" is a jerk. And, because that human is a jerk, he/she will decide to do other things like instruct recruiters to mislead potential students about the costs and benefits of attending his/her school, maintain extremely low graduation rates, extract millions of dollars in loans that eventually default from the federal government, and cheat on standardized tests.

Why wait for Superman when HOCKEYBEAR's already here?

The problem with destroying for-profit universities is that they open numerous campuses across the country, and so HOCKEYBEAR's methods for destroying traditional campuses would result in far too much collateral damage. However, their destruction is required, so HOCKEYBEAR will have to get creative. University of Phoenix, prepare to meet you're doom!