Monday, May 15, 2006

Questions From An Elliptical Plane

The good folks over at Burnt Orange Nation (which you should be reading [after this, of course]) have given us something to write about during the quiet days before August with their latest addition to the Blogpoll Roundtable.

While not a card carrying member, or a member at all for that matter, the questions intrigued me enough to take a shot at them. Enjoy.

1) Which offseason story are you most tired of, and, on the flip side, interested in? (e.g. Reggie Bush's house, Jimmy Clausen, etc.)

Two words: Matt (bleeping) Leinart. Ever since the Rose Bowl, when ever so gracious in defeat he took a pot shot at the 'Horns in his post game interview, watching his stock fall has been like watching the Hindenberg collapse on the tarmac. His collapse from golden boy to tin man in just 4 months has been breathtaking.

Matt Leinart at the NFL Draft

And it's all been covered live by ESPN, Fox Sports, SI, et al.

The worst part of it, its not entirely his fault. While NO ONE can understand/forgive/disinfect his interest in a certain hotel heiress, the overhyping media juggernaut that is ESPN enjoyed tearing him down as much as it loved building him up. After leading the number 1 team in the country for three solid years, and carrying an ungodly winning streak into the Rose Bowl, the unthinkable happened. They lost. To a better team. Please remember USC was supposed to be the best team Ev-Ah. ESPN was running polls prior to the Rose Bowl asking how this yet uncrowned national champion would stack up against the all-time great teams. At that point it was presumed Leinart could not only wakl on water, but would play the all mighty (Ditka!) closely in a game of one-on-one, on the water. Oops. Someone got in the way of that.

After the loss ESPN, credibility now completely out the window, had to save face. So they grabbed a flame thrower and torched the temple they had built up. And the intent was never to raise it again in three days. The intent was to bury it deep.

And they did. All of a sudden Leinart didn't have a strong enough arm. He wasn't good as advertised. His 40 was too slow. His combine wasn't that impressive. He's a problem child. That Jay Culter guy has a better arm. Look what he did at Vandy, Leinart couldn't have done that. And of course, Vince Young. By draft day Leinart had gone from poster child to problem child. #1 to number #10. He'd lost millions and ended up with the Cardinals.

What made the story even more nauseating was how Leinart handled it. Whoever gave Matt PR advice during the past few months was most likely the same person who gave childcare advice to the Lindberghs. The man completely forgot how to behave. He forgot how to smile. He forgot that no matter what he did, it was going to be on Sportscenter at some point. Happy to drink down the limelight during USC's glory days, he wreched at the taste of fame when the media went sour. His "I'd rather be eating my own feces" smirk before, during, and after the draft was impressive.

His decisions left something to be desired. The incredulous response, when the news got out that he was living well beyond the means of 21/22 year old college student. Oh, my dad's paying for me and our star receiver to live here. The fact that you're hanging out with Nick Lachey, well, that speaks volumes on its own. His malcontent, its not going my way, demeanor throughout the draft likely cost him a significant amount as well. Reacting like a spoiled child when people question you does not bode well in the National Football League where, more often than not, you're going to get your ass handed to you on "any given sunday." Finally, Paris Hilton. You've gotta be kidding me. News flash. Unless you're in 311, its never okay to go after a person who's film resume includes night-vision porn and an extensive Google search list about her going down on some Greek dude. I wish him luck. I harbor no ill will towards him. I'm just sick of the story of his firey collapse. And I'm sick of him doing everything in his power to fan those flames. Points were also awarded to Reggie Bush, the Clausens, and "Fire Lloyd Carr".

On the flip side, I am very excited about the upcoming QB war between Ann Arbor and South Bend.

While Clausen's antics were both annoying and incredibly arrogant, he has done something right. He's given us a focal point for our rage at Notre Dame. Every great college football team needs a spearhead, a rallying point, a target. For Notre Dame hat person will be Jimmy Clausen. He is arrogant. He is short. He is brash. He is flashy. He comes from a line of relatively successful D1 QBs. He looks like a Maltese plugged into a wall socket. But, he is a superbly talented quarterback. He is a good recruiter. He will make Notre Dame a better team over the next four years regardless of whether he plays a down on that fact alone. But we all expect him to play, and play well.

To the North his antithesis awaits. The antonym of Clausen is Ryan Mallett. A giant at 6'7". Quiet and understated. A cannon for an arm. Confident but not arrogant. Superbly talented. Lauded as a phenom from day one. Leadership skills are second nature.

Both will be the respective faces of their programs for the next four to five years. Both will be judged against one another. It will be the perfect storyline. The cocky California hotshot versus the quiet Texas gunslinger.

Man, its going to be fun to watch.

2) Your head coach comes down with a mystery illness and has to step aside. You get to hand pick the replacement for the 2006 season. Who gets your vote?

Kyle already went through the list of coaches at premier programs that should be considered. While I agree Kirk Ferentz is an excellent coach, he's not on my list. There's only one name on my list.

Pat Hill.

On the mustache alone he gets the job. However his successes on the field merit a glance from everyone. Six consecutive bowl invites and and 38-7 home record in 8 years at Fresno State. Anybody, Anytime, Anywhere. I love that motto. He protects his house. His players actually go to class. He took over a program that at best could be described as the back of the short bus and has turned it around. Because Academics are truly an important issue at Michigan (at least I'd like to believe they are), he'd fit the bill there.

Despite the fact that Fresno plays in the WAC, Hill has stockpiled great games against great programs. Last year he almost toppled USC with vastly inferior talent. Over the last 8 years Fresno state has beaten premier programs like Wisconsin, UCLA, and Virginia. Follow the link to his profile. It's an impressive resume.

If Hill can be competitive in that environment, I can only imagine/drool at the possibility of him recruiting at Michigan and fielding a team with that kind of talent.

3) Lastly, we'll mix the football and the blogging together here. If you could have anyone switch allegiances and start covering your team, who you gonna pick?

Much like Notre Dame, Georgia, Ohio State, and Texas, the Michigan-blog-o-sphere is jammed with excellent writers and bloggers. Mgoblog, RBUAS, Schembechler Hall, iBlog For Cookies, and many other great sites (at right). If you're not reading them, you should be. The consensus seems to be that in terms of blogging for a single school, Brian's work at Mgoblog is the standard all others are judged by. I could not agree more.

However, Kyle's work over at Dawg Sports continually leaves me scratching my head as to 1) how he able to write like that, 2) how was he able to make the correlation between a Cylon and the President of UGA, and 3) how in God's name does he have time to do it all? Kyle covers everything Georgia athletics has to offer with both insight and enthusiasm. Whether it's gymnastics, basketball or football, Kyle knows it and covers it.

I'm always excited to see what he comes up with next, and his work always exceeds my expectations. Again, if you're not reading him, you should be.

Special thanks to B.O.N. for helping to fill the void between February and August.

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