Preface: Rival fans (particularly of the Green and White persuasion), hit the bricks. There is no comfort for you in the words herein, and my troll tolerance is at zero, so you will be wasting your breath with any flames you attempt to leave here. Go to MLive, go to the Freep and DetNews comment sections, go to freaking ESPN. There is no quarter for you here, so spare everyone the effort. And to the MSU people I actually know personally and consider friends...please close your browser. I'd prefer to remain friends with you, and if you read this, well...you'll hate me, and you'll probably pay someone to burn me and my couch.
So. It's early August, and the Red Wings have still lost Game 7. I'd be lying if I said I was fully at peace with this. Since the night of Game 7, I still have not been able to wear any Wings t-shirts, which is actually a much bigger hit to my wardrobe than I initially realized. I have had to omit certain songs from my normal rotation of listening material because I came to attach them to the Red Wings. What can I say, things linger with me more than they should. I probably won't be able to watch them much at first next season. Old wounds heal slowly.
In the preface above, I probably should've mentioned "many Michigan fans" as well, because this is going to be a hit piece, and there will be no sacred cows. Why? Honestly, I'm fed up. With everything. Maybe it's just the dog days of summer and there's nothing else to talk about, but restlessness is abound in the world of college football, and my frustration level with certain topics and certain groups of people is quickly approaching the boiling point.
So yes, this will be a hit piece, aimed primarily at our friends of the green persuasion, and inward at a growing faction of Michigan fans who need to be slapped upside the head. I had a hard time deciding who would get the knife stuck in them first, but I figured it didn't really matter. I've got ranting for both sides, so I flipped a coin. Heads was Michigan fans. Tails was Michigan State. It came up heads, so Michigan fans, assume the position.
So, Michigan fans. First, stop laughing at Michigan State and their "obsession" with Michigan. UM fans have become just as guilty of this. The MSU propaganda machine that has gone into overdrive over the past year has permeated every part of this state, and that includes Wolverine message boards. Go look at The Fort on any given day recently. There is always an assortment of threads dedicated to discussing MSU, Mark Dantonio, MSU recruiting, MSU fans, or just laughing at any of the above. Guess what? All of those, even the laughing, are indicators of obsessive behavior. For years, Michigan fans have snubbed their noses at the Spartans while laughing about how closely the MSU fans follow the goings on on Ann Arbor. Well the time for that nauseating hypocrisy is over. Michigan fans harped on William Gholston for months, they harped on Mylan Hicks, they're harping on Marcus Rush, they're harping on Dior Mathis, they're harping on Mike Sadler. The ongoing QB debate of Gardner vs. Bolden vs. Boisture isn't even a debate at all. Boisture is a solid third behind the other two, and most Michigan State fans agree with this. And still arguments explode about how MSU wanted Gardner first, and then they started spewing lies when Bolden cooled on them. The Austin White/Nick Hill arguments are similar. Both schools offered White back in September. Fast forward almost a year, Hill has no Michigan offer, gets offered by MSU, commits to MSU, and when White commits to Michigan, MSU fans say they wanted Hill all along and cooled on White while Michigan fans squawk about beating State for a legacy recruit. It would be far too ridiculous for the two sides to compromise and say that both schools landed a talented running back, and both schools landed their #1 in-state targets (Gholston for MSU, Gardner for UM). Instead, because we're rivals, we have to constantly snipe and degrade the other side. Both sides are filled with arrogant, childish neanderthals (of which I can be seen as at times as well, I admit), and I'm getting sick of Michigan fans still laughing about "Little Brother's" obsession, when our own fanbase is largely responsible. Stop laughing about it and start chastizing your own people for doing the same.
Alright Sparty, your turn. If when I'm done you accuse me of being more critical of your side, well...remember what blog you're reading.
1. Your in-state dominance is a myth. And you have done an excellent job of convincing the driveby media and some select high school coaches in the state of Michigan that Rich Rodriguez doesn't care for the talent here. To this, I say: bullshit, you goddamn spin doctors. Rodriguez has said on more than one occasion, he wants Michigan's recruiting base to be Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania, while then branching out to Florida and other states after that. The #1 player overall at any position on Michigan's recruiting board was Devin Gardner. Devin Gardner plays for Inkster. I'm not a geographical expert or anything, but last time I checked, Inkster was in the state of Michigan. Cornerback is probably the biggest position of need out there right now for Michigan. The #1 cornerback on Michigan's board, and it's been this way since last September, is Cullen Christian, who plays in Pittsburgh. Pssst, MSU was recruiting Christian too, but they blew him off when he tried calling the MSU coaches when he was on his way to East Lansing to visit. So he stopped by Ann Arbor for another day. Christian is a better prospect than both Dior Mathis and Mylan Hicks. Call me crazy...but I'd prefer it if the coaches of my team go after the best player not based on location, but based on actual ability to play football. And if you MSU people want to criticize that...why is Isaiah Lewis of Indianapolis a member of your class when Earnest Thomas was out there available? Why are you pursuing Latwan Anderson of Cleveland when Earnest Thomas could possibly be flipped from his UCLA commitment if he was offered by Michigan State? After all, Earnest Thomas plays for St. Mary's Prep in Orchard Lake, MICHIGAN! The answer is your coaches see Lewis and Anderson as better prospects and better fits at the safety position than Thomas. Bottom line: if you're a football coach, you go after the best players, regardless of where they play.
So...this whole "we own the state" thing. Let's look at that in depth.
The following prospects from the class of 2008 in the state of Michigan had offers from both Michigan and Michigan State: Boubacar Cissoko, Nick Perry, Jonas Gray, Fred Smith, Mike Martin, Kenny Demens, Tyler Hoover, Rocko Khoury, and Deon'tae Pannell.
Of those, four picked Michigan (Cissoko, Martin, Demens and Khoury), two picked Michigan State (Smith and Hoover), and the rest (Perry, Gray, and Pennell) went out of state. Michigan might've been able to get Gray if they really wanted him, but they picked Mike Cox of Connecticut over him. Even when Lloyd Carr retired and Mark Dantonio hit the trails trying to turn guys like Cissoko, they didn't waver. But guys like Cissoko, and Fred Smith...there are other circumstances at work here, and I'll get into those a bit later.
For now, let's move on to last year's class. These guys in Michigan from the class of 2009 were offered by both Michigan and MSU: William Campbell, Edwin Baker, Chris Norman, Cameron Gordon, and Thomas Gordon.
Of those guys, Campbell and the Gordons picked Michigan, while Baker and Norman picked State. Baker and Norman were definitely wanted by Michigan, and MSU did a good job locking them down while Rodriguez was securing the '08 class. Larry Caper and Dion Sims, on the other hand, were NOT losses for Michigan. Yeah, yeah. I know, they have checkmarks in the "Offer" boxes in their profiles on Rivals, so MSU must have beaten Michigan for them. Except the new staff completely passed on Caper. He's not a spread-type running back. Good fit for MSU, so congrats on landing him, but you didn't beat UM for him. And Michigan wanted Sims as a defensive end. The guy's dad works at Michigan. If UM had wanted him at tight end and pushed hard enough, you'd think they would've at least made his final three. Instead, it was MSU, Ohio State, and Miami. Why? Because Michigan wanted him for defense, he wasn't buying that, so UM let that ship sail in the summer. And I still see MSU fans crowing about guys like Andrew Maxwell and Blake Treadwell and Jeremy Gainer. How exactly are these victories over Michigan when they were never offered by Michigan? You guys wanted Thomas Gordon, and would've had him.....except Michigan offered, and his recruitment was over. And yet despite all the turmoil in Ann Arbor in 2008, 3-9 and all that, when William Campbell decommitted, he STILL didn't give Michigan State the time of day. So that fool Jim Comparoni over at SpartanMag dips down into the gutter and personally attacks the kid when he recommits to Michigan, all while ranking him 12th best in the state, when every other service has him as #1. That sort of bushleague "journalism" is repulsive. How can anybody take that guy seriously when he resorts to insulting a high school kid because he didn't give his school a look?
And now this year. Michigan and Michigan State both offered William Gholston, Devin Gardner, Robert Bolden, Dior Mathis, Mylan Hicks, C.J. Olaniyan, and Austin White. We both got our #1 targets in Gholston and Gardner. Hicks and Bolden were not top priorities for Michigan. If MSU fans want to claim that White was not a priority for them, fair enough. If you want to claim that you guys cut ties with Bolden because his dad asked for a job, whatever. Mathis, we'll see. I believe there is a lot of misinformation out there about his recruitment and that there are several more twists and turns before he makes a solid decision, but I will give props to MSU if he commits there. I personally believe he should be right there with Cullen Christian on Michigan's cornerback board, but I'm also going to trust the coaches. If Mathis goes elsewhere, it'll be a loss to me. If Olaniyan picks MSU like he's rumored to be doing at some point, that will be a loss, and I will give credit where credit is due.
So, over the past three recruiting years, since Mark Dantonio took over in East Lansing and made the state of Michigan his #1 priority in recruiting, the score, straight up head to head, is nine for Michigan, six for Michigan State, and four out of state, with guys like Mathis and Olaniyan still undecided. Does this sound like OMG DOMINANCE to anybody? This is propaganda. Pure and simple. MSU lands decent, quality players like Nick Hill and Andrew Maxwell and Joe Boisture and Larry Caper, and they run around saying they're dominating the state. Dominating against who, exactly? The majority of your in-state recruits were not offered by Michigan. How can you dominate something and claim victory over an opponent that more often than not you aren't competing against?
I mentioned other circumstances when I talked about Fred Smith earlier, and this is where it gets murky. Fred Smith and William Gholston went to/go to Southeastern High School in Detroit. Chris Norman and Mylan Hicks went to/go to Renaissance High in Detroit. Will Campbell, Boubacar Cissoko and Thomas Gordon all went to Cass Tech. When Gordon picked Michigan over MSU (and when Campbell ignored MSU completely when he opened his recruitment up), Spartan fans dismissed it because Thomas Wilcher is the head coach at Cass Tech, and he played for Michigan in the 80s, so MSU people believe there is a distinct pro-Michigan feeling at CT that steers players to Ann Arbor. Well, that works both ways, my friends. Archie Collins is the defensive coordinator for Southeastern High. He played defensive back for who in the 1990s? Oh, that's right...Michigan State. Oh, and Fred Smith grew up a Michigan fan....and was all set to commit to Michigan...before a random weekend trip to East Lansing...and suddenly he commits to MSU. I wonder what prompted this?? And at Renaissance, well, there's this: [Ed. note 5/17: link removed for the time being]
That's Antonio Watts, the head coach. And what he says in this video is almost slanderous, it's such bullshit. Carson Butler and Andre Criswell were "treated badly" at Michigan by Rodriguez? Well, for one, Butler was lucky to even be on the team. He was thrown off by LLOYD CARR after being arrested for beating the shit out of some innocent dude in a dorm room. Carr gave him a second chance, so he was back on the team when RR arrived...and he proceeded to punch a Notre Dame player in the head last year. This got him doghoused, and he left early for the NFL. And Criswell? He was a 2-star random recruit that Carr took a flier on on Signing Day in 2005. There were no expectations for him, and predictably, he never saw significant time. But he was treated SO poorly by Rodriguez, that he's now a graduate assistant on RR's staff.
The video screams one thing: Watts is getting his ass kissed by Dantonio. Dano's stroking the guy's ego and feeding him the bullshit he's feeding all the other coaches in this state, that Rodriguez is an evil destroyer of lives, and to send a kid to Michigan would be damning him to the darkest depths of hell. It's bullshit, and it's disgusting that people like Antonio Watts buy into it.
So what's the solution to this? Well, this is where we go away from the world of recruiting and delve into the realm of actual, live football. The solution is to win. It's absolutely amazing how one (ONE!!!!!!!!) MSU victory, over the worst Michigan team in history, completely changes the perception of the
2. You're full of shit when it comes to the actual players, too. When it comes to complete and utter bullshit, nothing takes the cake like the post over at the RCMB which contains a list of players that have been "Rodriguezed"; in other words, it's a list of players that have either left the program or decommitted since Rich Rodriguez took over at Michigan. I'm not going to link it, because I won't give those mouth breathers the satisfaction of having their website get free hits from this blog, but I am going to break down this list and explain each case individually. I'm sure it will be dismissed as "scUM spin" by some, but well...we all have our agendas. The MSU agenda is to paint the picture that these players are being run off by "Dick Rod." My agenda is to shut you people up with facts and logic you won't find in the newspapers or from Mike Valenti on the radio.
Existing members of the UM fraternity:
Mmmk, let's see:
1. Ryan Mallett was almost universally despised by his teammates; Lloyd Carr threw transfer papers at him and told him he didn't like him, just his potential. The guy never gave Rodriguez a shot because he was having transfer thoughts the second he arrived in Ann Arbor. Rodriguez didn't "run him off", he left on his own. He would've been gone regardless of who the coach was; Carr, Rodriguez, Les Miles, Jesus Christ, anybody.
2. Arrington and Manningham - Does anybody actually blame them for leaving early for the draft, or are there actual thoughts that RR ran them out? Their stock wasn't going to be raised by running routes and then watching Threet or Sheridan overthrow them. They closed their careers with a bang in the Capital One Bowl, and left when their stocks were at their highest.
3. Benedictus, Gallimore, Mitchell and Ciulla - All of these guys QUIT FOOTBALL. DO YOU PEOPLE UNDERSTAND THIS? They didn't transfer elsewhere, they didn't leave because of depth, THEY QUIT THE GAME. As in they are no longer playing. Benedictus and Gallimore never saw the field, and Ciulla was a career backup forced into action in 2007 because Mitchell was injured for much of the year because he was a giant blob of pudding and milkshakes. Not exactly the kind of guy that would fluorish under a strenuous S&C program.
4. Boren - Even you Spartans know the story by now. You're just choosing to ignore it. Boren was treated with kid gloves by Andy Moeller and the old staff. Whether it's because he was a legacy recruit whose dad played for Bo, or because they sensed he was fragile mentally and needed to be handled as such, who knows. But Lloyd Carr and Mike Gittleson exit, Rich Rodriguez and Mike Barwis enter, and the gloves come off. Instead of handing jobs to players without demanding effort, they require everyone to work their asses off and earn their place. Boren doesn't like this, so he leaves, and he chooses to nuke every bridge on his way out. His choice of school after he left and his Halloween costume pretty much sum up his character. But I suppose it's Rodriguez's fault.
5. Patilla - A 3rd string fullback leaves for Grand Valley State because...he's a 3rd string fullback...and had health issues that prohibited him from handling the workouts. RR's fault, of course.
6. Slocum - Guy flunks out after Lloyd Carr spent two years trying to get him qualified. RR ran him off!!
7. Hill - You do realize Michigan State wanted him too? And that he left because he wanted to be closer to home?
8. Witherspoon - Again, is it Rodriguez's fault Witherspoon didn't get past the Clearinghouse?
9. Paul Bunyan - I actually laughed at this.
10. Babb - He was kicked off the team for breaking team rules. But wait, I thought RR was a godless, lawless thug who harbored criminals and evil people?
11. Kates - In three years, he couldn't get onto the field. He was passed by a true freshman, and transferred. Nobody's ever heard of a guy transferring because of depth chart issues?
12. Chambers - He can't beat out STEVIE BROWN and transfers to BALL STATE? Is this a guy who is ruthlessly run off by a renegade coach, or someone who just isn't a high-caliber player?
13. Butler - Already explained. Rodriguez puts a thug in the doghouse, and Spartans criticize him for it anyway. You're welcome for Renaissance, bitches. Hopefully Dantonio is nice enough to give Coach Watts a reach around.
14. Horn - Again, depth chart. Would've been behind everybody at RB this year. Was a marginal recruit in the first place whose role would've been limited to return duties anyway.
15. McGuffie - Okay, I'll be honest here, MSU people: Fuck you guys for even putting him on the list. The guy leaves to be closer to his family (because a family member DIED), and you use him as more bait in your anti-Rodriguez crusade. I've even seen many (MANY) Michigan State fans mock the fact that he was small and was concussed three times at Michigan. Where are the decent MSU fans to step in and shut these clowns up? I don't think making fun of someone's health and family problems is especially classy, but hey, your coach felt the need to stoop down to talking trash to a college kid, so maybe you're following his example. Who knows.
16. Shafer - I'm not going to defend this one. I've already voiced my displeasure with the whole situation. It was a bad hire, and Greg Robinson needs to be infinitely better.
17. Threet - You think RR ran off a QB? Seriously? Threet was MORE than welcome to stay and compete, but who exactly blames him for leaving? This wasn't the Michigan he signed up for. He left in a classy way.
18. Criswell - Again, already explained. He was treated horribly and is now...a graduate assistant. Like I said, you're welcome for Renaissance.
19. Clemons - Like Threet, it wasn't the Michigan he signed up for. He wanted to follow the typical Michigan WR pattern of blocking and catching like five passes as a freshman before breaking out as a sophomore. Didn't go the way he planned. But if RR was going to run him out, why wait until after the season? If he was going to chase him away, why not do it when he first arrives so he can give his spot to another player who fits the system better?
20. Wermers - Yeah, let's take the word of a bitter 3rd string flunkout. Kurt Wermers (who is Doug?) is almost as full of shit as the people who put this list together. He said the atmosphere was different under Rodriguez than it was under Carr. And....he would know this...how? Pssst...Wermers was NEVER a player under Carr. EVER. There is a difference between coaches as recruiters and coaches as actual coaches. This is true of every coach at every school everywhere. If you people really believe Dantonio is the same person in recruits' living rooms as he is on the practice field, then you need to change your mascot to the Ostrich, because you've got your heads buried in the ground.
21. O'Neill - Simply not the type of lineman that can succeed in a spread. Had trouble getting the footwork down and just didn't have the athleticism needed. Also, notice how despite getting a full release from RR (just like Boren), O'Neill transferred to a MAC school? What's that tell you? This isn't Rodriguez running a player off. This is a player seeing the writing on the wall and choosing to go play closer to home at a school where he can get on the field more easily.
22. Feagin - Again, this doesn't exactly jive with the whole "Rodriguez is destroying Michigan and creating a haven for thugs" mantra you people swimming in green Koolaid like to chant, is it? He commits a crime, and is immediately booted. Not suspended, not demoted, banished without a second chance.
And now onto the recruits...
1. Newsome - Michigan wanted to sign two quarterbacks in last year's class. They did so.
2. Campbell - Last I checked, Big Will will be suiting up for Michigan this year. But don't worry MSU, I understand that you're still butt hurt that he didn't give your school a look after decommitting. Michigan goes 3-9, State goes 9-4, and the
3. McNeal - Je'Ron Stokes.
4. Fera - Brendan Gibbons.
5. Barnes - Not so subtlely advised to look elsewhere. If you want to view this as a blackmark against Rodriguez, fine. But every coach does this at some point; don't assume your coach is a saint. And I'm pretty sure Barnes is gonna be just fine playing at another BCS school.
6. Beaver - Once again, Michigan wanted two quarterbacks and got two. But let's be honest here. Beaver lied. He committed to Michigan in April of 2008, knew all along Michigan wanted two quarterbacks, repeatedly denied any wavering thoughts, and DAYS before he jumped ship to Tulsa, he told both Rivals and Scout he didn't even have a MySpace page when it popped up that he "had a bad feeling about Michigan" on his MySpace. Seriously, on December 17th, he said, "People were saying I wasn't coming, but I'm coming." On December 19th, he commits to Tulsa. And this is Rodriguez's fault...how?
7. Peace - Was turned off by the cold weather and the thought of playing corner. That's the risk you take in recruiting the South. MSU fans don't have a lot of experience with this because your recruiting base isn't national.
8. Graves and Jones - Losses, for sure. Michigan wanted both, got neither. They weren't told to decommit or anything. They just wanted to stay closer to home. Again, MSU fans have little experience with this.
9. Blackport - I laughed at this, but only because it's completely pathetic. Are you HONESTLY crowing about a WALK ON quarterback?
Look, I understand. For 40 years, Michigan State has been a non-factor. For many of you, you have spent your entire lives cheering for a team that has been a speck in Michigan's shadow. Your one Rose Bowl team since the Johnson administration is tainted with steroids. And now, you get a coach who emphasizes the Michigan game, gets a buzz in recruiting, finally beats Michigan, and you all go nuts. For the first time, you sense weakness in Ann Arbor, and you don't know how to compose yourselves. So you don't bother. You let it loose. You have convinced yourselves that Rodriguez will fail because deep down, you are afraid. You're afraid that this shift in fortunes will only be temporary. You ignore Rodriguez's track record. You ignore things like 38-0 and 42-24 (those are the scores of the two head-to-head matchups Rodriguez and Dantonio had in the Big East) because you fear that those days will return. You cling to 35-21 like it's your life source. You see the trainwreck Michigan was last year and you have convinced yourselves that that will be the norm because the alternative is a return to the purgatory you have been locked away in for a generation. You make yourselves believe Rodriguez is a combination of John L. Smith and Bill Callahan, not because of any evidence presented, but because it is what you want to believe. A moronic Michigan State poster on the Rivals Main board a few days ago stated, when presented with this brilliant creation by LSUFreek, "Bo would never drink with RR. RR isn't a part of the Michigan Man fraternity." See, there is no way your typical Spartan could ever know this. It is rooted in bias and fantasy, when the reality is Bo talked with Don Nehlen multiple times about Rodriguez (in case you're wondering, Nehlen coached under Bo, and then coached Rodriguez at West Virginia). Bo admired RR as a coach and as a man. If he had been alive when Carr retired and Rodriguez was hired, Bo would've been one of the most vocal supporters.
Hear no evil, see no evil. That should be the motto in East Lansing. Rich Rodriguez goes out of his way to meet with former Michigan players, he travels the country attending Michigan functions, he's doing everything necessary to assimilate himself into the Michigan culture, and you will continue to crow about him being a classless outsider. Meanwhile, Mark Dantonio makes a smartass comment about a moment of silence, he runs his mouth to the media about Mike Hart, and yet he is a saint, and you're ready to lionize him and immortalize him in bronze outside Spartan Stadium. Note that I was not a fan of what Mike Hart said. It may have held some truth, but it didn't need to be said. And yet you use that as justification for Dantonio's sour puss comments afterward. To that I say: one of them was a college kid, the other was a 50-year old man. Who's supposed to take the high ground?
Oh, and the hypocrisy is lovely. For a year after that, all we heard from MSU fans was "You need to check yourselves" and "Pride comes before the fall", and yet now that the tables have been turned in one year, it is YOU with the out of control egos, YOU making jokes and mockeries out of our coach and the rivalry. If hypocrisy was a major in East Lansing, they'd be pumping out scholars.
So live it up, my Green and White friends. Keep that propaganda machine churning. See how effective it is when things stabilize in Ann Arbor. And yep, you can bet that they will. The evidence is all there. It's just a matter of you preparing yourselves by actually paying attention to it. Whether you like it or not, history is on our side.
We will bury you.