Tag Archives: Michigan Football

Breaking the Silence

RichRodriguezconfuzzled

It’s been awhile. Nice to see you again.

First, an apology: For those of you that know me well, it comes as no surprise to you why I haven’t been posting much here at SIM. During the summer, I took a position as the lead blogger at Motown Wings and now that hockey season has started, I’m dedicating most of my time to that site. Combine that with a real job and wanting to have some sort of a life outside of blogging, and you can see how SIM gets the short end of the stick. It’s probably going to be like this for some time, so if I lost any of you readers out there because of it, I’m sorry.

However, SIM will continue to serve as my mouthpiece for all sports things unrelated to the Wings, and will continue to be updated, just on a much more limited basis.

That said, it’s time to talk about the Rich Rodriguez experience. Over the past month or so, I have to guess that between phone calls, text messages, IM’s, tweets and discussions on MGoTalk, I’ve discussed Rodriguez’s role as Michigan’s head football man at least a hundred times. Now, I love a good discussion as much as the next guy, but what these are turning into borders on what I consider a “discussion” and lists dangerously towards to side of “whining”. We’ve all heard it: “Fire Rich Rodriguez.” “He sucks.” “He’s not a Michigan Man.” “He can’t cut it here.” “His schemes don’t work.” “His staff is terrible.” “He just doesn’t fit.” “He was a mistake.”

Here’s my thing: You can have whatever opinion you want. I have many of them and that’s A-OK. But if you want to bitch and moan about someone or something not living up to your expectations or letting you down, and then call for that person to be removed, you BEST have a solution or replacement option that is not Brian Kelly or Les Miles coming out of your mouth right afterwards. Otherwise, just STFU and don’t waste my time. For all of you asshats out there that want Rod canned, you need to step back off that ledge my friend. Don’t you get it? Rodriguez is exactly what you asked for three years ago when Lloyd decided that he had better things to do than coach and recruit, and now you want to go through that shitstorm of a coaching search process again? Oh wait, you want to do it with an outgoing athletic director just to up the ante and make it a little bit more fun this time. Gotcha.

Can it.

Here’s what you need to do.

Stop acting like we are entitled to some magical football experience just because the team wears winged helmets and touches a banner before the game. My biggest beef with this whole thing is when I ask someone why these changes need to be made and all I get back is “Well, because we’re Michigan and we should be better than this.” What better? 9-3 better? Maybe 8-4? Because, lest we forget, that was the “better” everyone was complaining about when Lloyd was at the helm. We wanted “better” then as well, in the form of undefeated seasons, non Rose Bowl blowout losses and an innovative playcalling scheme that overhauled the “run, run, run, punt” scheme that permeated Schembechler Hall for so long.

You got that coach. You just expected him to turn water into wine and take a group of athletes that either have A) No business running that scheme or B) Are freshmen and work a dynamic and complex scheme to perfection. It’s like driving a pickup truck and then having someone hand you the keys to a jumbo jet with nothing more than a smile and a “Good Luck!” It’s called unreasonable expectations, and all you haters out there are struggling to grasp that concept. Change takes work. Success takes work. If you don’t believe our guys are putting in the work to make it happen, then I have some great property down in Florida I’d love to talk to you about as well.

Basically, you wanted all of the glory with none of the work or sacrifice.

It’s time to get with the program. I can’t make you like or even support Rich Rodriguez. All I can do is make a case for patience and logic and hope that it resonates with a few people. If it does, awesome. If not, fine. But if it turns around and the success happens, then don’t even bother coming to me with anything that resembles praise for the man. You doubting Thomas’ out there can all get together and pretend like you “knew all along” that it would work, but don’t even try and come to me with that routine. I’ll simply point back to the article and go on my way. And if I’m wrong, I’ll write anyone that asks a letter of apology and will eat my crow. But I’ll do it knowing that I stood behind the Michigan Football program and the head coach, one Rich Rodriguez and that I endured the whole thing believing that it was all for the best.

Besides, I’m enjoying all of the leg room I have on the bandwagon right now.

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The Good Stuff.

denardrobinsoneasterntd rodneypump helmer-again1

Yes, I get it. I’ve been a little quiet over the past couple of weeks. I didn’t get on here and tell you how excited I was that we beat Notre Dame. I didn’t get on here to complain about the Tigers looking like they might have run out of gas on their playoff run. I didn’t get on here and go crazy because the Red Wings are in the middle of preseason hockey.

But just because I didn’t write about it doesn’t mean I’m not enjoying it.

Folks, let me tell you something: right now is the most exciting time in the world to be a fan of Detroit/Michigan sports. There is so much going on that it’s almost unreasonable to expect to keep up with it on a regular basis. But this is our reward, this is our prize at the end of the rainbow. It’s funny that the summer, a time of relaxation, enjoyment and just general “feeling good” is for the most part a blank slate of sports. Summer, one of the most popular times of the year, doesn’t share the same enthusiasm for sports as the rest of us fanatics. Summer is our Sahara Desert. Summer is our barren landscape.

But now we have hit the tropical oasis. We have found the magical spring to quench our sports thirst. Drink up friends. The water is cool and refreshing.

The sweetest taste (for me) is obviously the rebound of Michigan football from last year’s mess of a season. With the right pieces in place, the Wolverines have already matched last season’s win total, scored as many points in three games as they did in six last year and have knocked off major foe Notre Dame. Now, the Maize and Blue head into the real deal: the Big Ten season. Every week will be a battle and there will be NO gimmie games. Have the Wolverines truly bounced back from the depths of despair, or is it just a mirage in a desert of uncertainty? I can’t wait to find out.

The Tigers, one season after finishing last in the division, are back in the thick of a division and playoff race. What a roller coaster ride they have been. Sometimes they offer the sweet taste of victory and the next night the bitter taste of defeat. But again, the ride is amazing. There’s nothing like the chase for the playoffs to stir the deepest echoes of fandom, and that’s exactly what the Motown kitties are doing for us right now. Can they deliver? Will they falter? I’m caught up in the anticipation and I’m letting it sweep me away.

And then there are our beloved Red Wings. Yes, they are only at the beginning of a journey that will hopefully last until June, but this campaign brings with it the need to justify their elite status to all those who have so quickly dismissed them. There’s nothing more fun than proving the doubters wrong and then laughing in their face afterwards, which is exactly what we have planned for this season. I can’t wait.

So sit back and enjoy my friends. This is an exciting time for all of us. One that is sure to be filled with ups and downs, trials and tribulations. But it’s not the destination, it’s the journey and I’m just happy to be walking down that road again.

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Filed under Hooray!, Random Thoughts, State of the State

All In.

crable

Remember that summer day three years ago when Notre Dame was supposed to be invincible and Michigan wasn’t supposed to win? Remember when we went down to Notre Dame as underdogs, having struggled through so many road-opening losses over the years that we were already forgetting how it felt to start 2-0 or 3-0? But what you may not remember is that feeling that we took for granted back then and which, someday, we will probably take for granted again.

I was sitting at an Ale House in Orlando, FL. Yes, I was drinking heavily. Yes, I was nervous. But why wouldn’t I be nervous? This was a rivalry game between two titans of college football,  both ranked, both undefeated and both ready to stake their early season claim to supremacy over the young 2006 season. It was everything that Michigan vs. Notre Dame was supposed to be.

The outcome of that game went in our favor. In a big, big way. But I know that nowhere during my euphoric high of beating the Irish did I ever think that our next two matchups would lack that one thing that most every game before them had contained: meaning.

You could argue that the 2007 game had lots of meaning for both teams. But let’s not kid ourselves here. Those two storied programs were the laughingstock of the college football world. Notre Dame rolling into the Big House with a highly touted freshman QB that had engineered two losses. Michigan coming off of THE HORROR and the ass kicking from the Oregon Ducks, both in our house. A combined record of 0-4. A national broadcast. It was pure humiliation and anyone who tells you otherwise is full of it. All that blowout win did for Michigan was get a win in the Big House and put another win between us and the #2 team in all-time victories. But it wasn’t the same.

Ask any Ohio State fan about last year’s drubbing of Michigan. It wasn’t as much fun as beating a good Michigan team. The luster wasn’t there. After 11 weeks of ridiculing the Wolverines and ripping them, finally getting the turn in the whipping line just didn’t feel right. Just like going down to ND with one of the worst teams in school history didn’t really do much for the Irish in the long run either. Did it even the score from the year before? Sure. Was it a game for the ages (or even the year, for that matter)? Absolutely not. It was a joke. A sham. A ghost of what it used to be.

Which is why today’s game is that much more important. After two years of mediocre matchups between these two giants, we finally get what we have been waiting for. Both teams undefeated again. Both teams with their own agendas. Both teams out to prove why they belong. It’s all the drama that was missing during the previous two matchups and all we can hope is that these teams know how to live up to the expectation that has been set in the previous 36 matchups.

Who’s going to win? Don’t really know. I can sure as hell tell you who I WANT to win, but that doesn’t mean it will happen. And quite frankly, it doesn’t really matter which team wins tomorrow*, as long as they both step up to the plate and embrace the rivalry by playing their hearts out and giving us an entertaining, physical and 100% competitive game.

You can bet that the Michigan Wolverines will be “All In” tomorrow. I encourage every fan of the maize and blue to do the same. Wear your maize shirt to the bar. Refuse to get “down in front” at the big house. Pace nervously in your friend’s living room. Just do whatever it takes.

All In. F**K the Irish. GO BLUE!!!

*Of course it matters who wins! It better damn well be Michigan!!!

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Filed under If you didn't know now you know, Random Thoughts

Allegations, Violations and Misrepresentations. And some Henne.

In case you’ve been under a rock, the University of Michigan football program has found themselves in some hot water this weekend. According to Michael Rosenberg and Mark Snyder of The Detroit Free Press, the Wolverines are guilty of some major NCAA violations in terms of “mandatory” and “voluntary” practice time. If you don’t know all of the details by now and you need to get up to speed, read the article.

Quite frankly, this sucks. It sucks because the season starts on Saturday. It sucks because I GUARANTEE you that Michigan isn’t the only program doing this, but we are the one being investigated. It sucks because, in the grand scheme of things, what did Rosenberg and Snyder really accomplish in all of this? It’s incredibly unlikely that any major sanctions will be handed to Michigan, so now all these two journalists have managed to do is drive another wedge between the players, fans and coaches. In a week that should be focused on optimism, the Freep has forced pessimism down our throat.

But nothing sucks as much as the fact that Michigan’s own players are the ones doing the talking and don’t have the CAJONES to stand up and say who they are. If you can do the “right thing” and the “big thing” by whistle-blowing against your teammates, then step up and claim your prize. We know Toney Clemons had something to contribute to the conversation. That’s more than we can say about his efforts on the field while at Michigan. Terrence Taylor? Those extra “mandatory” workouts are one of the reasons your ass is in the NFL. The only other guys that we know have said something about the workout program are a pair of freshman who were bragging about the work they put in and whose comments forced the authors of the article to caveat the piece by saying that neither freshman was complaining about the workouts.

Does that make them right? No. But it shows that there are guys buying into the system, and those are the guys that want to work hard and win. My guess is that the guys who are doing the talking are guys that are either tired of the rigorous demands of the Rodriguez regime or freshman that were preyed upon by Rosenberg and Snyder, knowing full well that they could get the kids to provide soundbites that could eventually be turned back on the staff.

In the end, we get to be the face of a problem that is obviously spread throughout the entire college football world, despite what the Freep wants you to think.

  Courtesy of MSU’s Andrew Maxwell:

{Ed. Note: Brian at MGoBlog pointed out that, despite sounding similar to the Freep allegations, this statement doesn’t fly:

17.1.6.3.5 Preseason Practice. Daily and weekly hour limitations do not apply to countable athletically related activities occurring during preseason practice prior to the first day of classes or the first scheduled contest, whichever is earlier.

Aw, hamburgers. Practice limits don’t count during fall camp. You can stop bringing this up now.

Not that this prevented Michigan State from deleting that article in its entirety from its website.

{Ed. cont. They still suck. Anyway, statement is below for your reference.}

We’re almost a full week into it and preseason camp is everything all of us freshmen expected it to be: learning a completely new style of football, working hard every day to try and move our way up the depth chart, meeting new people and trying to fit in with the flow of things, and trying to get used to this totally foreign schedule. A typical day consists of showing up for meetings as early as 7:30 a.m. and being dismissed after our final meeting at 9:30 p.m. In those 14 hours, we have meetings, practice, lunch, more meetings, film sessions, dinner and meetings.

Sound familiar?

Somebody call Rosenberg and Snyder and let them know that it’s time to break another story.

In the meantime, I offer up this bit of wisdom from former UM quarterback Chad Henne:

Henne 

"That’s the players. They have to know, 20 hours, you’re never going to be 20 hours limited. You think about it, you get done with class, you start practice around 2:30 for meetings or whatever, then you go through practice, you get done at 7. So that’s four-and-a-half hours. There’s no way – you’re going to use up 20 hours easily in practice.”

“I really think whoever’s saying it really doesn’t want to be there,” Henne said. “If they’re saying that then they’re not really worried about the team, they’re not worried about what they’re going to do during their season and they’re kind of just giving themselves up. That’s just negative talk right there. So whoever it is just really doesn’t care about the team, I would say.”

“If they’re complaining about that, then they don’t want to be the best they can be and that’s their own fault.”

Henne has always told it like it is, so I have no doubt that this comes as no surprise to anyone else in the college football community. All I want now is Mike Hart to come off the top rope and finish off this shitstorm that Rosenberg and Snyder created.

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Changes, they’re a comin’…

changes

I’ve had a few folks ask me about my slowdown in posting output this summer and if everything is OK on the home front. In short: yes, everything is cool. However, despite a slowdown in posting, I have been super busy putting together some new opportunities, which are far enough along now that I can finally tell you about them.

Changing Locations

As many of you know, I’ve been covering the Red Wings for Winging It In Motown for the past few months. WIM gave me an outlet to focus exclusively on the Wings, and the more I wrote for them, the more I enjoyed being able to cover one of my topic areas with such depth. Well, as we moved through the summer, the folks over at FanBall reached out to me, and told me that they had an opening for a Red Wings blogger on their team and would love for me to come on board. Naturally, I was torn because of my allegiance to WIM, but in the end, the ability to manage my own site while getting paid some cash to do it was enough to convince me to branch out and give it a go.

I’d be completely remiss if I didn’t thank Christy, Casey and Joe over at WIM for the opportunity to work with them. It’s a fantastic blog with a fantastic group of writers, and my support for what they continue to do is absolutely unwavering. Hopefully, I’ll still be invited to the Christmas party.

With that said, I’m proud/excited/insert whatever adjective you like to present my new home for Red Wings content, Motown Wings. The folks over at FanBall have been awesome to work with in getting this set up, and have given me the opportunity to contribute to a larger sports blogging network, which has been a goal of mine since I started writing. I encourage all of you to check out the new site and let me know what you think and how I can make it better. It’s going to be a work in progress for the first couple of months, so bear with me. However, there’s alot of potential to work with, and I’m excited to head down that road. I hope you will join.

A New Endeavor

As if moving to a new blog wasn’t enough, I’ve also been busy working with my buddy Brian (@pioneerhall on twitter) to get an idea of his up and running. Later this week, we will be launching MGoTalk, a new Michigan football podcast where Brian and I chat all things Wolverines with former U of M players Jeff Del Verne and Jeremy Miller. We are currently in the process of getting the final logistics up and running, and we should have the first show ready to hit your ears sometime soon. I’m REALLY excited about this, and can’t wait to get some different POV’s on the football team, especially from a couple of guys who have been privileged enough to wear the winged helmet. Be sure to bookmark the site, as well as follow @MGoTalk on twitter, so that you can stay up-to-date on when a new show goes up as well as offer up ideas for all of us to talk about each week.

So yea, I’m staying busy and am really looking forward to these new opportunities. As always, your feedback is appreciated, so let it rip.

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Filed under If you didn't know now you know

The Mailman Cometh!

mailman

Just like this fine postal worker, I too am committed to reading the mail and answering those oh-so pertinent questions, no matter how strong the flood is. (Get it? Flood. Like “flood of mail”. Never mind.)

Without further ado, let’s get it on!

Dude,

You’ve been surprisingly quiet about the whole Patrick Kane beat down incident. What’s up with that? And what do you think about the love affair with the Blackhawks this year? Can they get it done, or is this an organization that’s headed into disarray?

J.P.

Joliet, IL

First things first, let’s talk about the expectations in Chicago. On paper, this Blackhawks team should pretty much blow fools out of the water. They can score and they can D up. They have good balance. They have plenty of youth and boatloads of talent. But, quite frankly, does anybody (outside of Chicago) really feel THAT good about this team right now? Yes, this team is fresh off of the WC Finals last year. But let me make something very clear here: there is a HUGE difference in making it to the WC Finals with no pressure on you, as opposed to making it to the conference/Cup finals with the expectations of an entire city and most of the league media staring you right in the face. Talent-wise, Chicago has the ability to do it. But take those expectations and add to them a ridiculously loaded division with at least one other up-and-coming  team of young guys licking their lips, as well as the gold standard franchise who just happens to be the two time defending Western Conference champion and your biggest rival, and all of a sudden, that hill is looking a bit steeper than it did before. And let’s not forget about the ‘Hawks “proven” goaltending in Cristobal Huet. I’m telling you right now, the Blackhawks can win the division. But don’t be surprised if they don’t.

As for “20 Cent” Kane: Look, I made dumb mistakes as a kid too. But none of them involved beating on a cab driver over a matter of two dimes. And for those of you who are shouting “but he locked them in the CAB!!!!” right now, I offer you this: I can say with a solid amount of certainty that if I got locked in a cab by an overaggressive driver, my first move would be to my cell phone to call the cops. If the asshole takes my phone or something, then it’s time to pull out my best Brock Lesnar impression and whoop some ass. Unless it’s the cab driver from The Bone Collector, in which case I would probably just scream like a sissy.

In any case, Kane made a mistake, he’s sorry, and he’ll just have to deal with whatever punishment he gets for the crime. And the probability that he’s going likely to see quite a bit of loose change on the ice this year. As for his future transportation, might I recommend a chauffer by the name of Johan?

franzen-steals-kanes-mouthguard

Next.

Hollis,

Michigan Football. 6-6. Right, wrong, or none of the above? I’ll hang up and listen.

Keith

Livonia, MI

Let me put it to you like this, Keith. Every person that has stopped me and asked me what I think about the Wolverines this year has gotten the same response: 6-6. So in a way, I suppose that makes your assessment pretty accurate. But let me caveat that by saying that I am infinitesimally more excited about this season than I was last season. I guess that’s what happens when you actually get talented players playing the important positions on the field, as opposed to a QB who might be able to lead a UM-Dearborn squad to an intramural flag football championship.

To be completely frank, I have no idea what’s going to happen this year. I expect this team to be much better than last year’s version, but they will still be  young at the skill positions, and depth issues continue to plague the defensive line. Tate Forcier has been excellent in practice so far, which is encouraging, but at the same time, he’s young and inexperienced and hasn’t competed in an actual game situation yet.

LON HORWEDEL,THE ANN ARBOR NEWS 
Incoming freshman Michigan quarterback Tate Forcier throws on the run while doing quarterback passing drills during Saturday, March 21st's practice at UM's practice field outside of Schembechler Hall.

According to SI, Michigan will go 7-5, but only 3-5 in conference. Not really encouraging. However, that would mean a win over The Slob and Jimmah, which would give me great satisfaction. However, that 3-5 conference mark doesn’t really do it for me. In Big Ten play, we get Indiana, Penn State, Purdue and the Bucknuts at the Hoose, and go on the road against Sparty, Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin. Hmmm. You’re telling me that we can’t win four of those Big Ten matchups? Let’s dissect.

For the sake of the argument, let’s call the PSU and OSU games a loss. That leaves six games on the conference schedule. We *should* beat Indiana. The Illini Juiced us last year, and we never seem to look all that impressive in Champaign, so mark us down for an L there. Iowa will be a huge test, and a probable L, but stranger things have happened. OK, so here we sit at a probable 1-4 in the conference, with games against Sparty, Wisconsin and Purdue left. We hung with Sparty and Purdue, and beat Bucky last year, so these games are pretty much toss-ups. Best guess? Coin toss in East Lansing, win over Purdue and a tough L in Badger Country, where we never seem to do well. Which gives us either 3-5 or 2-6 in the conference. Depending on how non-conference play goes – 3 wins, with a 4th over ND very possible – we are looking at a CHollis projection of anywhere between 5-7 and 7-5, with the most likely outcome…6-6.

All of that just to wind up at .500. Here’s the key for the Wolverines, though: take care of business in the non-conference games. If we can enter conference play with a 4-0 record, all of a sudden that eight win season is viable. Long shot? Probably. But who knows how well this team will come together by then. For now, 6-6 it is*.

*I’ll update this prediction after I get a look at the squad on opening day. It’ll be nice to get back to watching football properly: from the stands.

Hey there!

How do you think the Lions will do this season? And do you think Matt Stafford is the answer at QB? Thanks!

Daniel P.

Sterling Heights, MI

Hang on…I’m counting. Right. I had 27 almost identical e-mails hit my inbox over the past 3-4 weeks. So to you, Daniel, and to your 27 cohorts, friends, like-minded fans or whatever you want to be called, here’s my prediction:

45428_Lions_Stafford_Football

The Lions will finish with a record of somewhere between “Not really sure” and “I could give a flying f**k”. It’s nothing against you, Daniel, and nothing against the Lions really. I would just encourage all of you readers out there who are even thinking about sending me a Lions question to READ. THE. “ABOUT”. PAGE.

Thank you.

And finally (been saving this one)…

CHollis,

I know you’re a Tigers fan living out in Seattle, but man, what happened the last time Seattle came and played in Comerica?!?!? I hope your friends didn’t give you too much crap!

Anyways, with one more series against the M’s left this year, you have a chance at redemption. With the season series tied 3-3 and three games remaining, will the Tigers allow you to proudly walk the streets in your “D” apparel, or will you have to take crap from your Mariners buddies?

Pete

Lansing, MI

Well, I didn’t take much crap from anyone since I’m not sure THAT many people really noticed, but I was still embarrassed nonetheless.

Anyways, here’s how I think it goes down this week:

  • M’s take Game 1: Porcello has been good. Hernandez is better.
  • Tigers take Game 2: Uh, it’s Verlander vs. Snell. Think about it.
  • Tigers take Game 3: Washburn hits the bump vs. his old squad and collects his first win of the season. It’s close though, as Rowland-Smith pitches a good one for the M’s (I saw him do it in person against the Yanks last Friday.)

Tigers win the season series 5-4. I triumphantly parade through the streets of Seattle in my Old English D and piss of the eight or so fans the city has. All is right with the world.

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An All New “Low”

yCharlesWoodsonUM

For those of you that aren’t aware, I spent the better part of six years living in the Southeast region of our fine country. Two years in Florida, four in Georgia. I loved my time there. The people were great, the food is and will always be my favorite and everybody is amicable and welcoming.

Until college football season starts.

One of the first lessons that I learned is that you don’t even try to argue with anyone about the SEC or any of their member teams. When it comes down to it, you can’t spell “supremacy” without S,E or C, and I’m a pretty strong believer of that (on the whole.) Top to bottom, the Southeastern Conference is a ridiculous mess of teams who can take each other out on any given Saturday, but who will also be almost guaranteed to send their conference champion to the BCS title game. It’s a fact and we all just need to get on board with that.

But sometimes that pride and entitlement gets taken a bit too far. Combine that with any one of the fan bases that feels like they have been “screwed over” in the last 20 years, and all of a sudden the hard feelings show up and the venom starts flowing. What’s the point of all of this? Glad you asked.

Over at ESPN.com, SEC blogger Chris Low posted a piece about the effort that is underway in Knoxville to hype up Eric Berry for the Heisman trophy this year. Nothing wrong with that. Berry’s a baller, but unless his team is better than everyone thinks, he’s going to have to have an OUTSTANDING season to make a real charge for the hardware. Anyways, in the midst of Low’s discussion of Berry, he decided to start launching salvos across the better part of a decade at Charles Woodson’s 1997 Heisman run.

Per Low:

The Heisman Trophy has been a dirty word on Rocky Top ever since Peyton Manning was jobbed of college football’s most prestigious individual award back in 1997.

I’m not one of those conspiracy theorists, but there sure seemed to be a movement by some in 1997 to keep Manning from winning the award. Part of it was his being forced down everybody’s throats for four years, and part of it was the fact that he was winless against Florida.

Never mind that he delivered Tennessee its first SEC championship since the advent of the league championship game, was the driving force behind the Vols’ remarkable 45-5 run from 1995-98 and threw for 3,819 yards and 36 touchdowns his senior season.

He was saddled with the label of not being able to win the big one — and despite his enormous talents — became that guy some voters took glee in voting against.

How else do you explain 93 of the 921 electors that year not even having Manning on their ballots?

Seriously?

OK, before we go through this, let’s go ahead and just toss out the “it’s been 12 years and it’s time to move on” argument. I’ve highlighted above that SEC fans can hold a grudge longer than eternity, so I won’t waste my breath on that. With that out of the way, let’s get down to it.

First of all, I LOVE that this slam of Woodson is cleverly hidden inside of an article that is supposedly highlighting the efforts of the University of Tennessee to promote a star player. Those efforts garner a whopping 5 SENTENCES in this piece. The Manning/Woodson argument? Double that. Hey Low, next time you want to piss and moan about one of your sore spots, maybe you should think about backing it up with more than just “feelings”. According to Low, Peyton got “jobbed” out of the award, even thought the winner is determined by handing ballots to live human beings to vote for the most deserving player. It’s not like there was some magical BCS formula where Woodson, Manning, Ryan Leaf and Randy Moss’ stats were tossed into a computer, and after some complex calculations were finished, the winner’s name was spit out on a piece of paper.  And if you want to tell me that hundreds of coaches, former players and media members got together in some sort of secret “cabal” to vote against Manning, then I want to tell you that there’s a job at the National Enquirer that you would be perfect for. People voted. Woodson won. Deal with it.

But for the sake of this discussion, let’s look at Low’s reasoning for the so-called “Manning conspiracy”.

“Part of it was the fact that he was winless against Florida…He was saddled with the label of not being able to win the big one.”

I’m sorry, Chris, but give us a break. Woodson cemented his name on that trophy with an incredible performance against Michigan’s biggest opponent in the biggest game in over 50 years for the Wolverines. With a conference title, and undefeated regular season and a shot at a national championship hanging in the balance, all Woodson did was set up Michigan’s first touchdown with a long catch, return a punt for a TD and make a key interception to preserve the Wolverines’ lead. Manning against Florida? Two interceptions (one an 89 yard “pick six”) and a 33-14 hole that was all but insurmountable in an eventual loss. Yes, Manning added some garbage stats at the end of the game, but on the biggest stage against their biggest opponents, one player dominated and the other choked. Low wants you to forget that fact and side with him because of Manning’s 3,819 yards and 36 touchdowns through the air. And while those are great numbers, they didn’t translate into a crucial win over Florida, where the play of Woodson did over Ohio State. Woodson delivered. Manning didn’t. Deal with it.

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OK Chris, what’s the point of the the reference to the 1998 season? I’m sorry, but did Peyton Manning lead that team to a national title? No. It was Tee Martin, lest we forget. So the whole “laid the groundwork” for that team’s success may be true in a sense, but has NOTHING to do with the 1997 Heisman voting. That is, unless the voters had a time machine to go into the future, see Tennessee win it all, and then say “OHHHH, better give Peyton the trophy since he paved the way for this title.”

After laying out such a thoughtful and well crafted argument, Low decides to slam home his point by giving you a (questionable, at best) statistic about Manning being left off of 92 of the 921 voter ballots, therefore confirming a conspiracy was in the works all along. That’s great Chris. But a closer look shows that while Manning was actually left off of 97 ballots, Woodson was left off of 75 ballots as well. Might this be an argument if the voting was closer? Maaaybe. But Woodson cleaned house, locking up 5 of the 6 regions and coming in second in the (you guessed it) South. But even in the South, Woodson finished only 79 points behind Manning, whereas Manning was the runner-up in the Midwest to Woodson, but by a whopping 137 points. Even in Manning’s back yard, voters knew that Woodson was the real deal, and Peyton couldn’t do enough to rally voters.

Yes, Tennessee fans will continue to whine and complain and declare Woodson’s win a “fraud.” Whatever. That’s mostly the pride of a great state with a great player on their team. This argument will live on in bars and pool halls for another 50 years more than likely, but that’s exactly where it should live. Not on the SEC blog on ESPN.com. Low: If you want to enlighten us on how the school plans to promote a great player, feel free to do so. But if you want to piss and moan about Manning’s loss, head to your nearest watering hole, grab a frosty beverage (your choice), turn to the nearest local in a Vols hat and let ‘er rip. But spare the rest of us. We’ve moved on.

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