Sunday, September 9, 2007

How soon till Hockey season starts?

Well, it's official, the App game was no fluke, and the Schembechler era is over.

Just about anything that could go wrong, went wrong. The offense moved the ball but couldn't put any points on the board (four red zone trip in the first four possessions resulted in one TD). The defense got beat every possible way. The tackling was horrible. The D line got no pass rush. The linebackers were constantly out of position. The defensive backs got torched repeatedly. Oregon scored 39, and probably left 20 points on the field. Michigan's three stars on offense, Mike Hart, Jake Long and Chad Henne all were injured. Henne didn't play the entire second half, left the locker room on crutches, and is doubtful for next week's game against the Fighting Leprechauns. His replacement, super freshman Ryan Mallet had his moments, but also looked very much like a freshman at other points.

So the high hopes of the season are gone, and a reassessment of priorities for the team and the coaching staff is in order:
-Priority number one is getting six wins and keeping the nation's longest bowl streak intact, even if it's a trip to the Insight or Motor City bowl. Where those wins are going to come from is any body's guess. If yesterday is any indication, a Ryan Mallet led offense will be extremely limited, especially if the opponent can limit the effectiveness of the running game. The defense is not likely to be good enough to win games on its own, even though there aren't any spread teams left on the schedule as dangerous as Oregon.
-Priority number two is a win this saturday. The last thing you want to do is be the one that gets Notre Dame healthy. Much has been said about the historically bad levels of these two teams. It is the ultimate pillow fight, the offense that couldn't move across the street, against a matador defense that would do any Spaniard proud. But no matter who the coach is next year, they will have to recruit against the little tuna, and a win in this game will help keep his bluster to a minimum. In a sense this might be priority number one, because I don't see how they will get to a bowl if they don't beat the Irish.
-Priority number three is a win up at East Lansing. While they might be able to get to six wins without a win there, a win by the State will be marketed by the Sparties as proof that the balance of power is switching in the state
-Priority number four is a win over Ohio State. Normally this would be the top priority, but as it seems highly unlikely, and Tressel's record against Carr will be irrelevant with a new coach coming in, I put it down the list. If a bowl game is secure by this point, this game will be all about sending Carr out on a high note, and helping the heal the psyche of the fan base. If I'm Carr, I'm thinking of announcing my retirement the Monday before the game, and turning all the negative energy that's pointed my way right now into positive, gratitude type vibe. If they get to six wins, and Carr announces before that game, he will get a huge standing ovation before the game. For as much as he is being reviled right now, there is still a lot of love for one the classiest coaches in the land, who has represented the school and the team with the greatest honor in the last dozen years.

Meanwhile, the task at hand for Bill Martin and the AD's office is as follows:
-Say nothing about Coach Carr that is not positive until he makes his retirement announcement. Something similar to the quote you made about you and Amaker being joined at the hip.
-Prepare your list of candidates. I would suggest starting with Tedford, Rodriguez, Schiano and Ferentz. Each candidate should have head coaching experience at the BCS level, should be a good Xs and Os guy, and should understand that their job is as much media relations as it is football coach.
-Quietly send out feelers to each person on your list to see if they might be interested. Make sure that none of these feelers can be discovered. It is better to not contact someone than it is to risk them being put in the awkward positions of having to deny their interest, or you being put in a position where it looks like you are pushing Carr out the door.
-Once Carr announces, near or at the end of the season, begin your negotiations in earnest. Ideally you should be down to two or three candidates within a week after he announces. Remember that any coach who is going to play games in the media about the position is probably not worth hiring.
-Set a goal of announcing your new coach by the time the national championship game is over. This gives the new coach time to shore up the recruiting class.

If Carr handles the team with class and the team rededicates itself to improvement, I think they can get to six wins. If Martin handles the football search like he did the basketball search, we'll be in good shape.
But of course, what do I know, I thought they'd beat Appalachian State