In today's webisode, we tackle U-M football as seen thru the eyes of coach Rich Rodriguez; the untimely (I think) firing of Tampa Bay Lightning coach Barry Melrose; the chances of the Lions pulling that 0-16 thing; and MSU's unhealthy obsession with U-M.
Toss in some Word Association and Jerk of the Week, and you have the recipe for success...right?
Anyhow, carry on!
Eno: Can you believe it's Thursday again, already?? That means you're about to be subjected to "The Knee Jerks: WTF? With Eno and Al." I'm Eno, aka The Journalist, and he's Big Al, aka the NEW Mr. Big Shot, now that Chauncey Billups is gone. How are ya, Al?
Big Al: As good as a middle-aged blogger and sports fan can be! I like that – I’m "Mr. Big Shot" in all conversations from now on, Mr. Journalist!
Eno: OK. I had been changing it every week, but if you like that, we'll keep it like that. Let's dive right in. I wrote about this yesterday: U-M football coach Rich Rodriguez says angry fans should "get a life". Thoughts?
Big Al: He needs to "get a win!" I try not to take the angst of football coaches too seriously, as they always have some perceived slight to bitch about. But methinks RichRod has yet to grasp the importance of
Eno: I think it's kinda cute how naive he still is. I think it's admirable to try to inject perspective, but like you said: THIS IS MICHIGAN. There AIN'T no perspective. RR tried to turn everyone's attention to the economy, a la Barack Obama. It worked for Barack, but it's not going to work in
Big Al: Exactly. WVU had a statewide fan base.
Eno: Well, maybe this will be good for EVERYONE – coaches, fans, players, even the media – in the long run. Maybe U-M needed this kind of collapse to gain, ahem, perspective. But really, this kind of year was long overdue and maybe it'll make everyone work harder and the fans will look around and see that just about every big time program has gone thru it. Look at Notre Dame last year. As for
Big Al: I do agree the
Eno: You mean when he was asked why he went for two late in that game? "Because I couldn't go for THREE!" Or how about those bumper stickers: "Oh How I Hate Ohio State", and "Woody Is a Pecker." Gotta love it. It's funny. The game is EITHER going to be a blowout or really close. My gut tells me really close. Speaking of football and guts, what does yours tell you about the Lions? Do you believe, in your gut, heart, spleen, appendix, that the Tabbies will go 0-16?
Big Al: God, the Lions. Between the auto industry collapsing, the Wolverines turning into the Hoosiers on the gridiron, and the Lions with an excellent shot at going 0 for the season, can things get anymore depressing in the D? Don't answer that question! As for the Lions, common wisdom is it's impossible to go winless over a season. The old adage "On any given Sunday..." remains true. But looking at the Lions' schedule, and how they are playing, 0-16 is not a bad bet. But when I think about it, as much as I want 0-16 to happen, I don't think it will. [Quarterback] Daunte Culpepper may step up, and win a game or two on his own.
Eno: TWO??? TWO???? Oh my goodness, do I see a Kool-Aid mustache on your upper lip? Cripes sakes, Al. If they win one it'll be a miracle. They just don't have enough to compete for sixty minutes. I always thought that the Lions would benefit by one NFL rule change: switch the lengths of games to forty minutes. Their record would improve mightily!
Big Al: HEY! I'm no cornbread eater! I'm insulted. You just stepped into "Jerk of the Week" territory! Seriously, a win is possible for a couple of reasons. Kevin Smith is stepping up his game. Calvin Johnson, when the Lions get him the ball, is a game breaker, (7 TD's and 18.6 YPC are impressive stats) and Culpepper is getting better. I can't believe I'm DEFENDING THE LIONS! How did this happen?! I'm so confused...
Eno: CJ's stats have been artificially inflated by, like, four plays this season, including that 90+ yard catch against
Big Al: The possibility of The Shoveler returning is why I'm rooting for a winless season. I'm scared to DEATH William Clay Ford will think a late season win or two is a sign of improvement, and keep Mr. Pad-Level for another season. In the eyes of the fans, Mr. Dig Towards The Light has to go. If the Lions even entertain the idea of retaining him, it will be torch and pitchfork time at Allen Park HQ.
Eno: LOL, I know what you mean. But I'm thinking that Junior might be starting to exert more of his will over things now, and that smarter heads will prevail. The ONLY game I see them winning is either
Big Al: Which is another reason the coaching staff should be given the ziggy. It took them TEN GAMES to determine Smith was their best running back! Insanity, pure insanity. Amazingly, Smith is a draft choice who is not a bust. Those have been few and far between during the Matt Millen Era. Speaking of which, I think 0-16 would be the perfect reflection of Millen's incompetence. It has to happen to ensure the man goes down in infamy as the worst GM in sports history. He's been gone for a couple of months now, but Millen still looms large over this sad franchise.
Eno: 0-16 would simply be a blemish that would stain the franchise forever. Even if someone does it after them, the Lions would be the first. They're already in the midst of one of the worst eight-year stretches in league history. If they keep Martin Mayhew as GM (a bad idea) then they MUST hire a big-name, high-profile head coach. They can NOT go the "little known assistant" route, unless it's someone from
Big Al: Why else would have Bill Parcells approached the Lions? He knows running the team is one of the best gigs in the NFL. [You have] hands-off ownership; state of the art facilities; and a fan base desperate for a winner. What's not to like? I'm sure the Lions will have their pick of some of the best and brightest from the front office guys in the league, for the reasons we both mentioned. The only question is, after 50 years of hiring the wrong guys, why should we think the Lions will get it right this time?
Eno: Good point. Thanks – now I'm depressed again. OK, turning to the ice. The Tampa Bay Lightning fire Barry Melrose 16 games into the season. Stupid is as stupid does. Or do you have another opinion?
Big Al: Last week I said
Eno: SIXTEEN GAMES!! That's just plain dumb. Unless something happened behind the scenes that was heinous, this is an inexcusable decision. If you're gonna think outside the box and hire a TV dude, then don't bail on him after 16 games. That's lunacy. Whether you like
Big Al: The hubris of some owners is amazing. Just because they were successful at business (or in some cases, inherited a Scrooge McDuck level of riches //cough//William Clay Ford//cough//) they think they can be just as successful running a sports franchise. It doesn't work that way. We've seen it time and time again over the decades, with the likes of Daniel Snyder, Ted Turner and Ted Stepien thinking they can make personnel and coaching decisions.
Eno: Literally, in the case of Teddy, who managed the Braves for a day before Bowie Kuhn kicked him out of the dugout. OK, I've been dominating this conversation. Before we move on to Word Association, whatya got?
Big Al: Any thoughts on Spartans' head football coach Mark Dantonio living up to the stereotype of your typical Sparty who is overly obsessed with the Wolverines? It would be in the Spartans’ best interest if
Eno: *head in hands* YES, yes, YES! Oh, Mark! It even seems contrived, as if that's what he feels he's SUPPOSED to say. Clearly an OSU loss helps Sparty. I think even Sparty fans know that. Hey, as much as I hate, hate, HATE the Minnesota Vikings, if a Vikings win helps the Lions, then I'm like, GO VIKES! That was pretty weird of Dantonio to say, I admit. But it just goes to show: they're still learning how to handle winning in
Big Al: Dantonio has done a very good job of turning the Spartans program around, but I just don't get what the man is thinking at times. Between his seething over the “little brother” comment and insulting Mike Hart in return, to this latest foot in mouth episode, the Spartans come off as being too worried the Wolverines. They need to be more concerned with
Eno: Yep – you ready to start, or are you going to defer and defend the south goal?
Big Al: I guess I can start this time... Here goes!
Big Al: Rich Rodriguez
Big Al: No doubt. Lions' defensive coordinator Joe Barry.
Big Al: Works for me. Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock
Eno: He deserves two words: consummate professional.
Big Al: He's the best in the NHL, without question. OK, the man who believes
Eno: OK, my turn.
Big Al: Go for it.
Eno: Nicely played, and very diplomatic. You see their record? OK, Dave Dombrowski.
Big Al: Pressure.
Eno: Dusty Ryan.
Big Al: Three words: Opening Day starter.
Eno: Three words that ought to scare Tigers fans to death. OK, NASCAR.
Big Al: I'm saying this as someone who grew up as a fan of stock car racing, and thinks Cale Yarborough is the shiznit. "BORING!"
Eno: And finally, Lions head coach Bill Cowher.
Big Al: YES!
Eno: Before Jerk of the Week, I want to get your impressions of all this weeknight college football. My opinion? We don't need football on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday nights. Am I a JOTW candidate for saying so?
Big Al: No, as we are going through a bit of football overload right now. But I can't blame the schools who agree to play on weeknights. It gets (for example) the MAC national exposure, and keeps the 4 Letter (ESPN) from replaying the World Series of Poker for the umpteenth time. I'm more upset by the NFL Thursday night package, which is on the NFL Network – a network NO ONE HAS! There are some very good match-ups no one can watch, save for crappy online look-ins on NFL.com. But I digress...
Eno: You mean I'm the only one who gets the NFL Network? You gotta get the dish, my friend!! You make a good point re: the smaller conferences. I suppose that makes sense for them. OK....drumroll please.....***********************
JERK OF THE WEEK
Eno: JERK OF THE WEEK TIME!!! Who's yours, Big Al?
Big Al: I had to think long and hard, and I almost went with Dantonio. But I have to go with...Drew Sharp. His fear mongering column stating Detroit was bound to lose one of our beloved pro sports teams because of the economy, population shift and whatever BS he pulled out of his you know where, felt like he was just piling on. If there is one thing the
Eno: Sharp is yours two weeks in a row – not that I'm surprised. OK, I must go with Philadelphia Eagles QB Donovan McNabb, for not knowing the rules of the NFL re: overtime games in the regular season. I bet the Eagles wish he had kept that little fact in private. Makes the whole franchise look dumb!
Big Al: I was amazed at McNabb's statement. But it goes to show you that many athletes aren't really fans of their own sport. It's a paycheck, a job, nothing more. I know you have to get going , as you are interviewing one of my all-time most hated players, Patty Waah [Patrick Roy], so I think we need to wrap this up. Any final thoughts?
Eno: Well, next Thursday is Thanksgiving Day so I guess both of our faithful readers are going to be enjoying us with a turkey leg in one hand and their mouse in the other. Or a foam brick, whichever.
Big Al: Well, they may not be watching the Lions game, as it's not yet a sell out. So they may not have anything better to do but read "The Knee Jerks!"
Eno: We're more entertaining, anyway, if you ask me. OK, my friend – see ya next week!
Big Al: As Jim Rome says, "I'm ouuuuuut!"