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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Spread 'n' Shred.

At least your bowin' muscles are ready to go. Michigan State coaches are the gift that keep on giving. Dantonio:

"As far as my reaction to that job, we are Michigan State. So that's my reaction."
A portion of the first sentence was omitted: " we're going to lose at least three of four no matter who they hire."

Watch me zoom. Michigan's posted an overview of the renovations that provides a bunch of flyby stuff so you can see the artist's rendition of the new facilities from every angle:

(If the embedding isn't working -- and it isn't for me -- here's a link .)

I know some have objected to the project's aesthetics, but IMO the end result is a huge improvement over the current facade, which is mostly exposed girder and gray metal. Also interesting that the new structures appear to extend to Main Street on one side and the stadium steps on the other.

I still wonder what they're going to do about season ticket holders, many of whom have been sitting in the same place for decades, when they re-do the benches. I hope they figure out that no one's going to be too peeved if they end up two rows further back, but a move from the 20 to the 10 might spur a trip to Ann Arbor Torch and Pitchfork -- if they don't go bankrupt by 2010, that is.

McGuffdate! Sam McGuffie's status may hinge on that of RB coach Fred Jackson:
“I don’t know what he [Jackson] is going to do. I am real interested in what he has to say,” McGuffie said in an interview with
He remains committed to Michigan pending resolution of the staff shakeup. Cissoko from the NYT:
Detroit cornerback Boubacar Cissoko, who has committed to Michigan and is ranked as the nation’s third-best player at his position by, described the hiring of Rodriguez as a “good choice,” but said he was eager to talk with him.

Since Carr announced his retirement Nov. 19, Cissoko said he had been bombarded by calls from many programs, including Tennessee, Virginia, L.S.U., Alabama, Penn State and Miami.

“I want to find what he’s all about before I can make any moves,” Cissoko said of Rodriguez in a telephone interview.

He seems likely to stay.

West Virginia: pissed, in pockets. The above picture comes from the Charleston Daily Mail. The paper headed out to Grant Town, the tiny hamlet that claimed Rich Rodriguez as its favorite son. The signs proclaiming that have been shoved in a garage. Unofficially replacing them:

"DISGRACED HOME OF RICH RODRIGUEZ" for those who don't feel like squinting. The whole article is worth a read for its picture of Rodriguez's hometown...

To an outsider, it doesn't seem like much happens in Grant Town, which is about 10 miles northwest of Fairmont in Marion County.

Abandoned storefronts dot the main drag.

Locals say the town formerly hosted 15 bars, two garages, a movie theater, schools and a St. Anthony's Catholic Church, which Rodriguez and his family attended.

The closure of Eastern Associated coalmine in 1985 produced a domino-like effect on the rest of the town's economy, they say.

Cell phone reception here is spotty, at best, and there's nowhere to gas up or grab a bite to eat.

... and the bitter feelings some harbor.

Direct that bitter. According to a set of well-connected WVU boosters, the person WVU fans should be mad at is not Rodriguez but athletic director Ed Pastilong. For all the complaining about how Michigan would not shell out for a coach, it was WVU's inexplicably miserly behavior that spurred a move:
"I tell you what, I've never seen anything mishandled as much as this was," Bob Reynolds, former chief operating officer of Fidelity Investments, said yesterday. "Here's a university that made a $200,000 decision -- it probably could've cost less than that [to keep Mr. Rodriguez] -- and it's going to cost them millions" in booster support, potential bowl money and revenue from football success.

"I've had calls from at least six major contributors to the program, and they're all done [donating] because they know the Mickey Mouse things that have gone on there," Mr. Reynolds continued. "I've been in business 36 years, and it's the worst business decision I've ever seen. I've been the COO of a 45,000-person company. When somebody's producing, you ask, 'What can I do for you to make your life better?' Not 'What can I do to make your life more miserable?' They have no idea how big this is. It's frightening."

Rodriguez's simple list of requests:
In separate meetings with Athletic Director Ed Pastilong, Chief of Staff Craig Walker and, finally, late Saturday night with newly installed President Mike Garrison, he asked the university to do the following:

• Allow at least an additional $100,000 in bonus money for his assistants.

• Allow scholarship players to retain possession of textbooks at the end of each term, which meant they could have sold them, as apparently happens at other programs.

• Waive a $5 ticket fee for each high-school football coach attending Mountaineer home games, a fee that generates an estimated $5,000 for the university each season.

• Hire seven graduate assistants and a new recruiting coordinator, to ease the duties performed by secondary coach Tony Gibson.

The same set of boosters now complaining about Rodriguez's exit offered to pay for the requests; they were turned down. Suddenly, sailboating seems a minor offense indeed. The West Virginia message boards were full of dark speculation about a rift between Rodriguez and portions of the AD; that speculation appears to be true. Without some personal emnity between Pastilong and Rodriguez you have to assume these ridiculously minor issues would have gotten resolved.

This is just one side of the story, sure, but several different boosters are quoted here and all are seriously pissed off, you guys. I think we managed to run across the Isaiah Thomas of athletic directors here, and fleeced him twice.


(Via Michigan Tailgate.)

Playbook. A copy of West Virginia's 2005 playbook exists online. How it got there and how damaging that is to the spread's efficacy is unknown (though survey says "not much" on the latter, as WVU was top 20 in both total and scoring offense the past two years; Rodriguez is also remarkably open with his system), but it is a fascinating document. Page 20 contains the lyrics to "Country Roads" -- check here for a refresher on the blog proprietor's strange relationship with that piece of Americana -- but it's page that thrills and amazes:

You have to be a deeply pathologized Michigan fan for this to be exciting: guilty. I plan on reviewing it in-depth as time allows (and promise to stop mentally copyediting things like "physicalness" to "physicality"); probably sometime in the new year.

Adios, Les. If you believe the remarkably persistent internet rumors that even after multiple denials Les Miles was a prime candidate for the job, there's only one conclusion you can make: Miles really, really wanted to come home. The one sour note in yesterdays press conference came when Rodriguez said Michigan-Ohio State was one of the country's best rivalries, something that is true if you're from West Virginia but a heinous undersell to anyone from Michigan or Ohio -- you mean "best rivalry in anything anywhere ever". At that moment, I thought of Miles, and was a bit melancholy for him.

At his press conference yesterday, Miles put on a JoePa-style standup comedy exhibition:
"I know it's disappointing to some of you that don't like me," Michigan alum Miles said as laughter broke out, "and really wish that I had taken the Michigan job that was not offered. I couldn't get them interested in me, so you're stuck with me."
Amongst the roiling cauldron of conflicting desires I'll have during the national championship game -- OSU should not win, the Big Ten should, the SEC loons should shut up -- will be a desire to see Les do well.

Etc: Jon Runyan was a major motivating factor in Brian Westbrook's smart (but fantasy-owner-maddening) decision to take a knee at the one; check on the sidebar for a regular stream of articles that come in.