Saturday, August 16, 2014

UM/MSU, and a dumpster

Now that was interesting. Did you know the value of an average house in the US is about $212,000? Me neither. I thought I had a nice home but evidently I'm still slumming. And the ever-lovable Warren Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway company's stock just went over 200 grand -- per share. So if you're average, you can off your house and, after all the fees and commissions, maybe have enough left over to almost buy a share. One. Such a deal. Where you live in the meanwhile waiting for your dividend checks would appear to be another problem. But fear not. At 10-12% a year, you'll own that dumpster in no time.

Speaking of slumming, or is that slumping, the Univ of Michigan football program comes to mind. The once proud (and arrogant) program hasn't won much of anything in recent years. Back in the day, when Bo Schembechler and Woody Hayes of Ohio State annually slugged it out for Big 10 supremacy on the gridiron, everything had a bit of order to it. There was UM, OSU, and the Little 8. Whoever won the November showdown in the annual three yards and a cloud of dust game between the Big 2 got to go to the Rose Bowl, where either was most often trashed by a Pac 10 team. It seemed those hippy dippy west-coasters had developed a couple radical new concepts foreign to the Big 10. Something about the forward pass and overall team speed.

In the interim, several head coaches have come and gone at both schools. Some were successful, and others got ran out of town for various reasons. Rich Rodriguez was supposed to bring the Wolverines into the 20th century with a high-octane offense. His teams flopped badly. Ironically, he's now at Arizona. Out west.

Ohio State's Jim Tressel was extremely successful, until he got caught up in the "tattoogate" scandal in Columbus. He was forced to resign. After a brief stint with the Indy Colts as a consultant, Tressel would return to where his career started. At Akron. Incredibly, as Vice President of Student Success and Strategic Engagement. It seemed tats were rather important in Akron. Then again, their home-town hero, one Lebron James, is pretty well inked up, and he's done well, so OK. What's Tressel doing these days? He was quietly, QUIETLY named President, yes President, of Youngstown State University a few months ago. From presiding over cheating football players to being the President of another university, all within a couple years. Think of them as you will, but Ohioans have a way of closing ranks, and not only protecting, but promoting their own.

Michigan State has had its share of clown football coaches. From the mid 1960s until just recently, better than four decades, their football team has pretty much been second rate. State rival Michigan normally had their way with them, and the Spartans were hardly a factor in the Big 10. Nationally, they weren't even on the radar screen.

But no more. Since Mark Dantonio came on as head coach in 2006, the Spartans have made remarkable progress. Granted, there were a few hiccups along the way, even a bunch of players getting in trouble a few years back. Ah, but Dantonio had served under Tressell at Ohio State as his defensive coordinator while coming up through the ranks. (Did some not-so-good player discipline stuff rub off on Dantonio? Hard to say.) Indeed, he was the architect of their super-stingy defense when the Buckeyes won the national title in 2002.

Yet after cycling through Cincinnatti as their head coach, few would doubt Dantonio's 63-29 record at MSU is very impressive. They are "little brother" no more in the state and have even become a national force to be reckoned with.

Just last season, they defeated Urban Meyer's unbeaten OSU team in the Big 10 championship game, and went on to beat Stanford in the Rose Bowl. They finished the season ranked #4 in the entire country. Though they lost a few key players to the NFL, all pre-season bowls have them solidly in the Top 10 entering this season. Sports Illustrated has them at #6.

In the meanwhile, Michigan seemed to go into the above-mentioned dumpster last year. Though starting out "ranked", they barely squeaked by patsies Akron and Connecticutt. The Wolverines would go on to lose 5 out of their last 6 games, including getting thumped 31-14 by an unranked Kansas State team in the 2nd/3rd tier Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl. Earlier in the season, MSU had waltzed into Michigan stadium and methodically given them a 29-6 drubbing. Despite their history of normally being overrated, it should come as no surprise that Michigan is nowhere to be found in the 2014 Top 25 preseason polls.

Besides MSU at #6, the Buckeyes are ranked #4, Notre Dame #13, Wisconsin #15, and even little Marshall, MARSHALL, rounds out the Top 25, while Michigan is nowhere in sight?

Oh my. Wherever he is, I suspect Bo Schembechler is twitching. He most definitely would not have approved.

But this is what happens when one school hires a no-nonsense guy that definitely knows football, while the other brings in yet another in a long line of coaches that tells the fans and alumni how great and proud -- heavy on the proud -- the program remains.

Give them both a few years to get their programs firmly in place, and the results will speak for themselves.

And so they have. One has come from also-ran to national contender. The other has become "little sister" in their own state.

How the worm has turned indeed......

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