The more that I absorb myself in football and be a part of it on a day-to-day basis, the more obvious it becomes how important the head coach is for the success or failure of a program. It's casually obvious already, but Ohio State under Luke Fickell is a very different program than Ohio State under Urban Meyer. Bill Connelly of SB Nation has a saying that the tough jobs remain tough, but the first link to that being true is an Ohio State's or a Michigan's ability to land an elite coach and maintain the level of play that they've come to expect. If a program like Boise State or TCU has a long run of great coaching, it slowly, steadily, inexorably rises the college ranks. If it came from further down the totem pole, it gets a little harder and takes a little longer, but any team can do it. Alabama had 10-win seasons in 1999, 2002, and 2005, but even so, their record in the decade before Nick Saban took over was just 67-55. From Saban's second season on, he is 67-9. Coaching is always the engine of a program.
The next most obvious link to success after that would be the quarterback. Everything a team does is predicated on the quarterback's skills, weaknesses, and ability to handle defenses. It's possible to take for granted when DG goes for 350 yards, but his ability to attack a defense creatively gives Michigan space to do some basic things more easily. With Shane Morris under center, some more of the playmaking will have to come from receivers and ball-carriers.
The Buckeyes, on the other hand, will continue their growing tradition of a mobile quarterback, likely with Cardale Jones or J.T. Barrett. Cardale Jones will be a redshirt junior in 2015, with Barrett a class behind. (Their Class of 2015 recruit, Joe Burrow, is a three-star player, but the Buckeyes are still searching for a commitment from five-star quarterback/wide receiver Torrance Gibson.) Both players looked shaky during the spring game, where they quarterbacked opposing teams while Miller sat out with injury. Jones looked more like a complete quarterback, making audibles, reading progressions, and showing pocket presence against a pass rush. He occasionally showed a deft touch on deep throws, and could make all the easy throws. He's mobile, athletic, and Cam Newton-sized at 6'5", 250.
J.T. Barrett still looks a long ways off. He has all the physical tools to be successful - though he doesn't have the potential of Cardale - and the coaches have lauded his work off the field. He's coming off a redshirt, and he'll simply need more time to be able to judge what he brings to the table. Barrett has the distinction of being the first quarterback recruit under Urban Meyer, but he may not ever be a starter, if Jones does win the job for 2015 and '16 - by which point Barrett will be fighting Stephen Collier, Burrow and a couple others for the job, which he would only be able to have for one year anyway.
|Braxton Miller, '13||2094||63.5%||24||7||W|
|Braxton Miller, '12||2039||58.3%||15||6||W|
|Braxton Miller, '11||1159||54.1%||13||4||L|
|Terrelle Pryor, '10||2772||65.0%||27||11||W|
|Terrelle Pryor, '09||2094||56.6%||18||11||W|
|Terrelle Pryor, '08||1311||60.6%||12||4||W|
|Todd Boeckman, '07||2379||63.9%||25||14||W|
|Troy Smith, '06||2542||65.3%||30||6||W|
|Troy Smith, '05||2282||65.0%||16||4||W|
|Justin Zwick, '04||1209||52.4%||6||6||W|
Michigan Man: Gary Moeller
Bo Schembechler's hand-picked successor, Gary Moeller, has quietly fallen into the shadows of Michigan's coaching lineage, a lineage that emphasizes Bo first and foremost but also saw two pioneers, Fielding Yost and Fritz Crisler, roam Ann Arbor's sidelines. And, that's probably fine by Gary Moeller. For one, most of his career happened long before an era of information really took stride, and for another, he has a coach's innate ability to not really be informative or open in public. Still, his career is an interesting one, that spanned from Michigan to jail to the NFL.
First, his accomplishments: he went 44-13-3 over five years, won three Big Ten titles, a Rose Bowl, beat OSU by 28 - twice - and had an undefeated season (9-0-3) in 1992. His coaching staffs included Fred Jackson, Lloyd Carr, Les Miles, Cam Cameron, Greg Mattison, Mike DeBord, who would later be Michigan's offensive coordinator for five seasons, and Jim Herrmann, who was the defensive coordinator for Michigan for nine seasons. Moeller also hired Brady Hoke just before he was fired. He was a key piece to much of what we think of as Michigan football - not only the coaches that he hired, but the downfield passing, star wide receivers, and great defense he maintained. He was a tough man and could remember amazing details from years earlier about what certain teams tried to do or what had happened in games.
Five years after he took over the Wolverines, an altercation broke out between him and his wife that led to him getting drunk and disorderly at a Southfield restaurant. When police arrived, Moeller attempted to fight them, which forced his arrest. He was fired the next day. After being described as "broken" by Lloyd Carr afterward, 'Coach Mo' moved on to the NFL, landing on the Detroit Lions' staff pretty soon after he left Michigan. When Bobby Ross resigned suddenly in 2000, Moeller was chosen to lead the team. He compiled a 4-3 record over the final seven games, earning himself some support and an extension from owner William Ford. However, he would never coach another game. The Lions hired Matt Millen to run the team, and Millen fired Moeller and replaced him with a guy who lasted two seasons and lost 27 games. Moeller stands as the only Lions coach in the last forty years to have a winning record with the team.
It was a career unfulfilled at either the collegiate or professional level. Among all coaches who served at least five games, Moeller is fourth all-time at Michigan in winning percentage, but he is not one of the ten inducted into the Hall of Fame as either a player or coach. After having worked as the Wolverines' defensive coordinator for nine years, he switched successfully to offensive coordinator to make room for Lloyd Carr, a smart, rising defensive backs coach at the time. Carr's winning percentage over the thirteen years after Moeller's departure is almost on par, but Carr did not maintain what Moeller built: in Carr's first five years, Michigan won a national championship and had three 10-win seasons, while over the next eight, he would have just three more 10-win seasons while assistant coaches like DeBord and Herrmann were promoted and then left. Carr would go 6-7 in bowl games and against OSU, and Coach Moeller, who college and pro football left behind, faded into the background.
Hitting the Links Still Really Hates Notre Dame
In Week 1, Gore will probably reach 10,000 yards rushing in his career. He was a freshman for Miami in 2001 when they won the title, as the back-up to none other than Clinton Portis. Then, in 2002, he beat out Willis McGahee for the starting spot until an ACL injury. No wonder the Canes appeared in national title games both years - the three backs have combined for 28,000 yards in the NFL.
College football lends itself to iconic images and moments (see the duo above, for example). This was one of Desmond's, a miraculous catch against Notre Dame that snapped a 4-game winning streak against us by the Irish.
OFD has been counting down the worst losses of all time, and we finally have come to the conclusion. Enjoy.
This is an interesting series that they're doing as well. Here's one of fourteen storylines for the Irish's upcoming season: playing Michigan.
ND has a long tradition of natural grass turf, but a busy stadium schedule and upkeep have finally forced the Regents to make a change. It looks pretty sharp.
They will be worn at least once this season. The design is also an attempt to make them more connected to the city of L.A.
The Big Ten is very strong at running back and defensive line; the Pac-12 is strong through the air, even beating out the Big 12 in that regard last year. Four teams in the Big 12 piled up 3,000 passing yards, but the Pac-12 had 8. Stanford threw for 2,771 yards last year, which put them second-last in the Pac-12 (only RichRod's run-heavy spread threw for less). But that total would beat out half the Big 12 schools.
Irvin Charles is a tall, fairly athletic receiver from New Jersey. The SEC is dominating recruiting of course, but other southern schools are in as well - 14 of the top 17 spots in Rivals' rankings are southern teams. The Midwest is actually faring better than anywhere else, though.
Erm, my bad on this. Did not do my homework enough. Washington looks good on both sides of the line, and Bill also breaks down some of Chris Petersen's tendencies from his days at Boise. The Huskies could make some noise in the Pac-12 North despite losing their two stars on offense.
The most important of these would probably be Ezekiel Elliott or Darian Hicks - both are stepping into positions that are integral to their team's success.
The first play is a devastating delayed handoff; the three runs combined amount to 174 yards.
Patterson, a rookie, mades waves in the NFL last year, coming in second to Devin Hester in kickoff return yardage. Another Vol won the MVP trophy, while Jason Witten passed Shannon Sharpe for the second-most receptions by a tight end in history. Arian Foster, though, played in only 8 games and suffered his worst year since 2009. But still, it was a pretty good year for the Vols in the NFL.
I've mentioned that Brees, Manning and Brady are set to solidify their spots in the top five this season of all-time passing yards in NFL history. The next crop of star quarterbacks are more mobile (RGIII, Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick), so it's possible no group of peers will ever accomplish what those three have done - at least not for many years. It's been fun watching them compete for Super Bowls.
This past week, SB Nation absorbed the blog site Inside NU, which will now be providing more coverage on Northwestern athletics. This is very exciting and I'm glad the people that covered Northwestern very well there are getting more attention. Inside NU was a quality source of information that was often the only source of in-depth information on the web regarding Northwestern's players.