Jase Bolger, who once toured Detroit, might scuttle Detroit bankruptcy deal just to be a dick

April 18, 2014 by  
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A few months ago, everyone made a big deal that Jase Bolger visited Detroit and said that something needed to be done to help out the people of Detroit. Today, we learn what it is that he thinks needs to happen to help Detroit: Detroit's unions need to be extorted or else he's happy to let Detroit's bankruptcy drag on. Along the way, Ari B. Adler burns yet another bridge.

Ari Adler, a spokesman for Bolger, said: “I think it’s entirely reasonable to expect the unions to give back to the very people they profited from.”

“The union leaders made these deals that couldn't possibly have been afforded; they built up their own savings from membership dues paid for by unaffordable contracts,” he said. “Now they want to walk away, effectively leaving the retirees they are supposed to have represented holding the bag.”

The great thing is that he essentially waited until the last minute to say this, rather than letting everyone know ahead of time that it was his expectation.


Zia Combs: A Redemption Story

April 18, 2014 by  
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Former Michigan defensive back Zia Combs was a redshirt sophomore when his football career was cut short by a freak accident leaving him temporarily paralyzed. This is his story of beating the odds.

It was a brisk, yet beautiful, afternoon for football at Michigan Stadium on the 12th day of October in 2002. The Penn State Nittany Lions came into Ann Arbor ranked 15th in the nation and ready to play the Wolverines in an early Big Ten conference matchup.

However, there was something about this day that will live in infamy for one Wolverine. It’s not about the personal statistics and it’s not about the thrilling overtime victory Michigan had either.

It’s much more than that.

For former Michigan defensive back Zia Combs, it’s a second chance at life.

Mid-way through the first quarter, Michigan punter Adam Finley delivered an excellent, yet routine, pooch punt that took a soft bounce at Michigan’s two-yard line. The redshirt sophomore Combs and his "gunner" teammate, defensive back Ernest Shazor, were streaking to the ball attempting to down it before it crossed the goal line.

What happened next is a cruel twist of fate for Combs. Something he worked so hard to achieve was taken from him in an instant. A heartbreaking and unfortunate accident changed his life forever.

As he took an awkward dive for the ball with his head lowered, he did not see Shazor diving in his direction as well. Shazor’s knee clipped the top of Combs’ helmet and like a rag-doll he crumbled to the turf.

Longsnapper Joe Sgroi went over to pick Combs up from the turf but he crumbled into a heap once again.

The once charismatic player was now lifeless. He was completely paralyzed. Lying vulnerable and helpless in front of a stadium filled with over 100,000 frantic fans that could hear a pin drop in silence.

"It was one of those situations where you’ve been playing ball for so long you felt invincible to a certain degree," said Combs. "It was scary, but at the same time it wasn’t scary. Because I knew that I was alright."

As Combs was leaving the field strapped to a gurney, he managed to muster up some words to Michigan coach Lloyd Carr that would resonate throughout the team for the remainder of the season.

"Tell them to play hard," said Combs to Carr.

"When Coach Carr come over he made me feel comfortable," said Combs. "He gave me a sense of security. You can’t really explain it unless you’ve been through it. When Lloyd gives you a look or says a certain word to you, you believe more."

***

The route Combs took to the University of Michigan was not an easy one. Growing up in Lexington, he used football as an escape from the violence and drugs that riddled his childhood neighborhood.

"I was a regular inner-city child growing up," Combs said. "I was in a bad neighborhood surrounded by drugs and violence. I had a good family, though. Who showed me the right way."

That family, albeit strong, was torn apart due to a rare condition called Cerebellum Degeneration that took the life Combs’ uncle and mother. The condition is extremely rare and affects the part of the brain that controls muscle coordination and balance. There is no cure and the condition eventually leads to death.

Fortunately for Combs, he had an outlet to escape from the violence and family struggles from the illness. A short moment in time where he could forget who he was and what is going on.

His escape was football.

"Football was my escape," said Combs. "It has shaped me into the man that I am today. I feel like people play sports for different reasons, I did it to get away from all the other things that was going on in my life."

"Some of these kids can go and hung their mom and play with them, I couldn’t do those things."

Combs’ love for football was fueled by his lifelong affinity for the University of Michigan football program. But, in a strange twist of fate, he managed to get in contact with the coaching staff of the Michigan program.

A visit to his school that was never meant for him in the first place.

When area recruiter Jim Hermann went to visit Combs’ school, his intentions were to see his quarterback and defensive end. When Hermann was watching game film, it took only one play for the coach to be interested in Combs.

"The running back fumbled the ball and the defense picked the ball up and started running to the endzone," said Combs. "I hawked the linebacker down."

"I was a receiver at the time, so I was a good 10 to 15 yards behind him but I hunted him down and stopped the team from scoring. That’s what opened Coach Hermann’s eyes to recruiting me."

Immediately Coach Herrmann went to meet Combs. Combs, who admitted to being intimidated by Hermann at first, was invited to Ann Arbor to attend a camp to show the other coaches what he could do.

The day before he was meant to arrive on campus, he suffered another setback and created another obstacle he had to cross.

Two jammed fingers to the point where he couldn’t feel his hand.

During a passing league tournament in Kentucky, Combs suffered the hand injury which couldn’t allow him to catch any passes. He asked his high school coach if he could just run routes at the camp and not catch any footballs. He coach wanted nothing of it and told him he was going to be fine.

As it turns out, Combs was going to be fine.

The very next day, his hand felt as if he never injured it in the first place.

"I did everything they asked me to that the University of Michigan asks in an athlete," said Combs. "I think that’s what, besides my talent, set me apart. Coach Carr ended up offering on the second day of camp."

After receiving his offer, the first thing he did was called his mom. For a inner-city kid where the odds are against him, he had made it.

"I was full of emotions because I know how much I went through," Combs said. "Just sitting there seeing what your parent has gone through."

***

After being placed on the gurney, the feeling started coming back for Combs. It started with a small sensation in his toes, which was prompted by the doctors pinching, and then it grew to more of a tingling sensation in the rest of his body.

Combs thought he was back. The football player inside decided that going out there for the next game was more important than this overall well being.

"I had a huge smile on my face," said Combs with a laugh. "That moment where I start to regain my feeling. In my head I was already thinking about the next game. It was just second nature"

After numerous tests, scans, and continuous poking and prodding’s by numerous doctors, Combs was released from the hospital in a few days. After returning to practice to see the team for the first time since the accident, he delivered an emotional speech to the team.

However, most importantly to him, he was preparing for a comeback at some point this season.

Unfortunately for Combs, that moment wouldn’t come for him that season. In fact, the moment to strap on a helmet was never going to happen again.

His career was over.

After an emotional discussion with head athletic trainer Paul Smith, Combs learned his fate.

"Zia, your career is over with," Combs recalled Smith saying to him.

"From there, there was just so many emotions going through my body," said Combs. "You worked so hard for something as a kid you liked it, and now it’s turned into a lifestyle. It was my life."

"When he (Smith) had to break the news to me, it was hard to accept," Combs admitted. "I just stormed out of the office. I remember hitting the Gatorade jug with all the ice in it and I went into the locker room and broke down and cried."

Combs had to go through a strange transition from that day forward. He had to adjust to life without football, his fallback when things were tough.

An outlet that was available to him all of his life was taken away from him in a heartbeat.

***

Transitioning from full-time athlete to full-time student was difficult for Combs. For someone who didn’t place importance on education but instead placed it on athletics, it was a difficult process for him.

"I’m not proud to say this, but at the time football was number one," admitted Combs. "School wasn’t number one, it was number two. I can honestly saying, looking back where I was mentally, if I didn’t have football I probably wouldn’t be in school."

"It was like being born again. I had to change my whole mentality towards life. I had to mature as a young man who had just started becoming a young man. It was like new life and scary."

Combs could’ve easily given up on Michigan and went back to Kentucky to be closer to his ailing mother and family. But, just like the rest of Combs’ story of perseverance, he stayed.

"The thoughts of leaving did run through my head," said Combs. "Not only am I leaving, but what school will allow me to play? I thought about transferring."

It was Combs’ mother who was the driving factor in his decision to stay at Michigan. She told him one simple line that stayed with him throughout his time as a student.

"Son, I just want you to get your degree."

Whenever he was having a bad day or was down on himself, his mothers words picked him back up again.

He owed it to his family to stay. Not only his blood, but also the University of Michigan family he gained during his short time on campus.

"I looked at Coach Carr like a father figure," said Combs. "I felt like whatever Lloyd said, was not wrong."

Just like the great Bo Schembechler says, "Those who stay will be champions."

However, Combs didn’t need football to be a champion. He just needed to live.


***

One of the biggest lessons Combs took away from the grueling process has had to endure over the years is to not discredit yourself. Believe in yourself and don’t consume yourself with your weaknesses. Eventually those will turn into strengths.

"You have to believe in yourself," said Combs. "Not only believing in the things you know you’re good at, you have to believe that your weaknesses can become your strengths."

When things get hard, life always has its way to remind you that it is beautiful. With a new perspective on live itself, Combs knows that with all the ups and downs he has been through in life that it always stays the same.

Life is beautiful.

"I took away that life is a beautiful thing," said Combs. "That’s what so great about life. You have this plan and you might not necessarily follow the plan all the way through. When life throws curveballs at you, how are you going to react?"

"At the end of the day, life is about whatever your personal goals are in life outside of sports. Having a family outside and have kids. Teaching those kids lessons you didn’t necessarily learn at my age."

For Combs, he has everything he needs in life to make it beautiful. A wife he calls a genius, and a son he loves more than anything in this world. Combs wakes up every day with a smile on his face knowing he has those two in his life every waking moment to push him forward.

He doesn’t need to win the Rose Bowl or hoist the Crystal Ball at the end of the season to signify a championship. For Combs, he’s already won with a family of his own.


***

Having something you love so dearly being taken away from you in a split second is a tough pill to swallow for any human being. But, for Combs, wallowing in self-pity and regret was never in his nature.

From the beginning, he beat the odds.

He rose above the poverty and crime in Lexington to play football for one of the most prestigious Universities in the Midwest. Although his career at the collegiate level was nothing more than a small moment in time, he didn’t allow heartbreak to set him back.

With the career ending neck injury behind him, Combs has a new outlook on life.

Even though he will never play a down of organized football again, he earned something greater from the University of Michigan that letter jackets, postseason and personal awards cannot give to him.

A degree.

Something that no one, not even a freak accident, can take away from him.

Be sure to follow Maize n Brew's Joshua Henschke on Twitter, @JoshuaHenschke.

Lacrosse Preview: Yale at Michigan

April 18, 2014 by  
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I know you're sad because Stauskas and GRIII are leaving for the NBA, but get your mind off of it by watching Michigan lacrosse take on the Yale Bulldogs on Saturday.

The Where and When

Date: April 19

Time: 4:00 ET

Where: Michigan Stadium

Coverage: MGoBlueTV

The Opponent

Yale Bulldogs 7-3, 3-2; Home: 3-1; Away: 4-2

After alternating wins and losses for seven weeks, the Bulldogs have now won three in a row, are 7-3, and are ranked as high as 11th in the polls. Now they'll face a reeling Michigan squad who has lost five in a row.

Attack: Conrad Oberbeck is leading the team with 23 goals on 69 shots, and a SOG% of 60.9; the junior has also picked up 17 GBs. Behind Oberbeck is senior Brandon Mangan and his very balanced 15 goals, 12 assists, and matching SOG% of 60.9. Sophomore Michael Bonacci is also getting into the action, with 8 scores.

FOGO/Midfield: the Bulldogs are led at the dot by senior face-off man Dylan Levings, who has gone 125-215 for a 58.1 win % in 2014. Michigan's win % on face-off is 49.7, so they'll need a ton of luck to beat Levings on Saturday. The name to really note in this section, though, is junior middie Colin Flaherty and his 10 goals. Sophomore Mark Glicini has only 6 scores, but he's been able to pick up 15 GBs. Watch out for Sean Shakespeare, too, because you just have to be good with a name like Shakespeare, right? I highly doubt there will be much in the way of "Howl, howl, howl, howl!..." or "I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him..." out on the field, but you never know.

Defense/Goalie: Jimmy Craft and Michael Quinn are the workhorses on the defensive side of the field, combining for 51 ground balls and 28 caused turnovers. Jimmy Craft can also do this...


Let's hope that Robbie Zonino doesn't get burned by something like that. Zonino's counterpart is Eric Natale. With a goal against average of 8.08 and save % of 54, the Wolverines are going to have to work like hell to past him.

The Outlook


Michigan Yale
Goals-shots attempts 126-496 101-367
Goals scored per game 9.69 10.10
Shot % .254 .275
Shots on goal-attempts 275-496 206-367
SOG% .554 .561
Total goals 126 101
Man-up opps 17-45 14-40
Ground balls 375 286
Turnovers 190 155
Caused turnovers 95 78
Face-offs 166-334 (.497) 126-217 (.581)
Clears 223-253 (.881) 162-182 (.890)
Saves 130 96

Michigan's going to face their second Ivy League opponent of the year. The first time was against a ranked Cornell team that Michigan took to the brink. Will Saturday's game be as exciting? Hell if I know, I make terrible predictions. They fell apart in the second half against Ohio State last week, so I have to think that they'll come out and stick around for a little while longer in this one. Michigan will need to neutralize Craft and Quinn on the defensive side of the game by using smart passing to get scoring chances elsewhere on the field. Passing the ball was a weak point last week and will need to be improved big-time if they want to stay in it this weekend. Ultimately, I think this will be yet another loss, but not a blowout.

It’s Friday

April 18, 2014 by  
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Today’s the day.

It’s unique.

It’s Friday.

We call it “Good”. But in the moment, it was anything but good. A mother weeping for her son. Friends weeping over their friend. Fear filling them all.

The sacrifice was real. It hurt. It was costly.

Friday.

The King is caught.

The King is crucified.

The King is dead.

The Enemy has won.

Hasn’t he?

 

Reader Questions: How to rock an aerial silks performance

April 18, 2014 by  
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11_24_2013_6772

Courtney said,

Hi Sarah! I love love love your site! I have been doing aerial silks for about a month and a half. We are having a student showcase and I have decided to take the plunge and perform a routine in the silks instead of the knot. I learned my routine a few days ago and I still have yet to get through it. I have like 2 weeks to perfect this. I am super nervous but I know this is something I want to do. Any advice on how to push through the fear and frustration and rock this thing?

Thanks for your question Courtney! Every couple months we do a showcase at our studio and I make it my mission to con one of our newer students into performing.  (I’ve already located my target for our June showcase :)

They always say they couldn’t possibly do a whole routine, they don’t know how to string moves together, they’d be too scared. And I tell them, you CAN do a routine because I’ve watched how strong you’re getting in the air, I know how to string tricks together and I will help you build a routine, and performing is not as scary as you think.

I’m sure like our studio, yours is just as supportive and everyone is excited to cheer each other on. So I will give you the advice that I give my students to convince them that performing is a good idea :)

First, I would never tell a student who physically wasn’t ready that they should start building a routine. So already, you’ve got the confidence of your instructors behind you.

Second, you don’t need to have 15 movies and a be in the air for 10 minutes and execute everything flawlessly. If you are only able to get through four tricks, then slow them down and lengthen the transitions in between. Take out any tricks that aren’t going well and replace them with ones you’re sure you can execute.

Third, if you are finding that you’re losing stamina or strength in the middle of your routine you can start some extracurricular work at home. Pull-ups, push-ups, ab workouts and cardio (P90x is my fave) are all good to keep you conditioned for aerial. Also consider moving tricks around so you’ve got the ones that take the most energy at the beginning and simpler tricks toward the end.

And lastly, don’t forget – the main point of a student showcase is to show off your skills and have FUN, so don’t take it too seriously! An aerialist who is into what she’s performing even if it isn’t perfect is much more entertaining than a technically perfect performer who looks bored or strained. Do the best that you can and be proud for getting up there in the first place!

Good luck!! I’d love to see some pics or a video of the final product :)

Jenna said,

Hi Sarah! I’m still rather new to aerial and I find myself running into the problem where I can’t focus on a single apparatus. I’m thinking it would be better to focus on one or two max and be able to really pick up some skills rather than hopping around all the time. How long would you recommend focusing on a single apparatus before letting yourself switch to another? Any tips or tricks to keep up the skills for the old apparatus while you’re working on learning a new one? Plus bonus question! Which apparatus is your personal favorite? Thanks!!

Hey Jenna! At our studio we start students on silks and trapeze to get them comfortable in the air and then work on silks, trap, hammock and lyra in level 1, focusing on two apparatus per week. I like switching between apparatuses for beginners because you use different muscle groups and skills for each.

So I suppose it depends on what your goals are - you could hang out and have fun learning all of them, become super skilled on just one, or switch apparatuses every week to become well-rounded.

I always recommend students keep a list of the tricks they’ve learned and allow them to take video and photos during class, that way when they train on their own time they don’t forget all the tricks they learned months before.

Bonus Answer: I’ve always loved the lyra. It’s not as strenuous as climbing silks over and over and I’ve got a mega love for spinning and posing in precarious looking-positions. Though I do love a good unsuspecting drop on silks and getting a yelp out of someone in the crowd :)

Dear Dan: Smoking weed does not lead to demonic possession

April 17, 2014 by  
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Oh brother.

But let me show you why smoking pot presents an even bigger problem for you, which is: It invites demonic infestation into your spirit. Take a look at 1 Corinthians 10:14-21:

There's ... no need to go quoting Scripture around here, so we'll just skip past that to the Precious Bodily Fluids argument.

The use of mind-altering substance for “recreational” purposes puts a person at serious risk of demonic attack because what you’re doing is rejecting the natural chemicals God already put in your body as insufficient to satisfy you physically and emotionally.

How about a little pure grain alcohol with your fluoride-free water, Dan? Oh wait, I guess the grain alcohol is a gateway drug to Beelzebub.

By the way, just for the record, when you try to -- in the space of the same article -- try to cite science and Scripture's support for demonic possession, you deserve the peals of derisive laughter that result. Consistency is a damn fine thing.

P.S. I am happy to report that, after decades of drug and alcohol use, that polluting your precious bodily fluids with mind-altering chemicals does not, in fact, lead to demonic attack. Unless by demonic attack you mean the occasional crushing headache.


Dan Dierdorf to join Michigan football radio broadcasts

April 17, 2014 by  
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Michigan announced Thursday that former Michigan offensive lineman Dan Dierdorf will be joining Jim Brandstatter on Michigan's radio broadcasts. Brandstatter will be doing play-by-play duties.

When Dave Brandon hinted at familiarity with the radio broadcasts, he wasn't lying.

In fact, former teammates will be reunited in the process.

The University of Michigan Athletic Department and IMG College announced Thursday that former CBS NFL color analyst and former offensive lineman for U-M Dan Dierdorf will be joining Jim Brandstatter in the radio booth for the upcoming season.

With this addition, it means that Brandstatter will handle play-by-play duties.

"Jim and Dan are hall of fame broadcasters and great Michigan Men," said Michigan coach Brady Hoke in a statement. "They will provide a unique perspective to the broadcasting booth that I’m sure our fans will enjoy on football Saturdays, and you can guarantee they will have a keen analysis of Michigan Football on each broadcast."

Dierdorf, who was teammates with Brandstatter during the 1969 and 1970 seasons returns home to where it all started.

"I’m so excited to be able to come back to my alma mater and contribute in this manner," said Dan Dierdorf in a statement. "This is the only broadcasting job that I would have considered after retiring from the network television. It’s a chance to return to the city where Bump gave me an opportunity to play for the greatest program in the world and Bo made me a man.

"I was always jealous of Jim calling games at Michigan and often said that one of my goals was to come back and call a couple of series with him. To work with one of my best friends, someone that I’ve known my entire adult life is really special, and I’m looking forward to getting in the booth with Jim this fall."

Brandstatter will be replacing longtime play-by-play voice Frank Beckmann who retired after last season.

"I’m really excited about the challenge of moving to play by play," said Brandstatter in a statement. "I have huge shoes to fill, but, I have learned so much from the great ones I’ve worked with and I can’t wait to get started. And, it’s Michigan Football….it doesn’t get any better than that!

"Dan knows the game inside and out and is an outstanding broadcaster. First and foremost, he loves Michigan Football, but he’s also a good friend, a teammate, an NFL Hall of Famer, and we have fun when we’re together. I just hope the listeners have as good a time as we expect to have broadcasting Michigan victories this Fall."

Michigan opens the 2014 season Aug. 30 at home against Appalachian State.

Be sure to follow Maize n Brew's Joshua Henschke on Twitter, @JoshuaHenschke.

Michigan Football 2014 Post Spring Game: Darrell Funk Discusses the Offensive Line

April 17, 2014 by  
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Michigan's offensive line is arguably the biggest question mark going into the 2014 football season. In a recent (rare) interview, embattled offensive line coach Darrell Funk offered a few statements to reporter Sam Webb. Here is what we can try to discern from that interview.

Head coach Brady Hoke typically doesn't let his position coaches do interviews outside of the normal fluff stuff controlled by the athletic department, but last Sunday, Michigan offensive line coach Darrell Funk managed to share a few answers with Scout.com reporter Sam Webb on the changes to the offensive line.

As expected, the interview itself is all-too-brief and hardly covers any of the "tough questions" about what went wrong with the offensive line in 2013 and what Michigan's coaches are doing to fix it. (Like many Michigan diehards, Webb operates under the assumption that Michigan's coaches know what they're doing, and thus he never pushes too hard in an interview. His interviews in general are typically positive.)

[Note by Big House Jack, 04/17/14 8:43 AM PDT: The interview does not appear to have been videotaped or recorded, so for the purposes of this analysis we are left to go primarily if not solely on Webb's written transcript. To the best of my ability I have kept everything sic erat scriptum. ]

Regardless, what Funk did offer can shed some light on Michigan's new offensive system heading into the 2014, at least partially. For instance, when asked about what adjustments/changes the offensive line had gone through -- that's about as "tough" a question as Webb posed -- Funk stated that he is having his players completely buy into Doug Nussmeier's new offense:

I think any time you have a change in coordinators, you have new terminology and that is a wholesale change. There are new words and a new system of calling it. That is the first thing that the kids had to memorize and we did. But once you learn Doug’s (Nussmeier) system and how he wanted it implemented and passed on to the kids. That’s the majority of learning is terminology. Then as far as the system and different things, there are so many ways to run zone plays and power plays and different things.

To the skeptic, this might appear like Funk is dodging the question. However, at least from what I'm seeing -- and admittedly this could be a reach on my part, Funk is first indicating the complete buy-in to Nussmeier's new offense. In so many words Funk is essentially saying "We're switching over to what Nussmeier wants to do, and that starts with teaching the players the specific terms that Nussmeier likes to use." So anyone who may believe that Nussmeier doesn't have 100% control of the offense going forward can now rest easy.

Why does this matter? So often we have heard from Michigan coaches when they've been asked if they're changing anything that they're not changing anything. How many times did we hear from Borges, after a bad game, "No, we're going to keep doing what we're doing, we just need to do it better"? Aside from the aforementioned statement by Funk, the only time I've really heard Michigan coaches say they're doing things differently is when wide receivers coach Jeff Hecklinski said that the coaching staff is constantly looking to stay ahead in modern recruiting.

Furthermore, it also indicates -- again, perhaps I'm simply grasping at straws here, as a Michigan fan -- that Funk himself is buying-in, accepting his role as the position coach, and also accepting that he has some of the responsibility. This is perhaps most evident in the statement that follows, where Funk mentions that he's gone back and looked at the tape from Nussmeier's days with Alabama:

There are different emphasis that every coordinator emphasizes a little more than others. Of course, the tape that we’ve been watching, a combination of Alabama tape and things like that we’ve seen. Some of the same plays that we ran last year that we’ll have some carryover. It has been busy, been kind of crazy that way in terms of that the kids have transitioned into it well and have worked hard.

Again, this could be something innocuous. I didn't see the interview in person; I didn't hear the tone he used. This could be Funk just giving a generic, non-insightful answer in the dim vein of "We've worked hard." Or he might be saying that he's looked at the Alabama tape as a means to not only understand his new offensive coordinator's philosophy but also see how his own offensive line could be better. It's not like he said, "I don't need to look at the tape. We're just going to keep doing what we're doing."

The other element schematically that Funk emphasized in the interview is simplicity. Borges was criticized throughout a great deal of his career for having offenses that were sometimes too complex for college athletes to follow and implement successfully. (Some have argued that, ironically, Borges may have been better suited for the NFL, but his track record at this point is so poor that him landing an NFL coordinating job is even more of a longshot than us getting a re-commitment from George Campbell.) With Nussmeier, it has been said time and time again that Michigan is going to make things simple for the offensive line. Funk says that it starts with getting their "A-list" plays down (which we are assuming is running inside zone):

Your ‘A-list’ plays that you’re going to run every week versus anything, you get good at them and you rep those the most. The refinement of the skills, techniques and the different looks that we see, of course Greg (Mattison) gives you a lot of different looks. You get a chance to work against every type of defense possible in terms of fronts and everything. That has been the good part of what we’ve done. We’ve gotten better at those base plays. Some of the auxiliary plays and different things that you don’t rep quite as much, we at least get introduced and use them when we need them.

The rest of the interview consists of the usual questions about competition at the various positions, who's doing what, who's healthy, who's not healthy, who's improving, etc. This might appear like a bunch of generic coachspeak -- because who really cares which players are doing well when we want the whole unit to improve -- but one name in particular stood out to me when Funk was discussing the center position:

Patrick Kugler has got a million reps this spring, mostly at center. I’ve played him a little bit of guard out of necessity at different times. So he’s got valuable reps at center. He’s getting bigger and stronger. Last year, he came in with a shoulder injury and he recovered. He was going to be a little bit behind strength wise and he is starting to come on. He is really a savvy football player in just terms of technique and knowing how to play the game. So as he gets stronger, he’ll get better.

Kugler was a guy who I thought was mostly overlooked at the spring game (probably because everything on offense looked pretty terrible to most people), and so it's no surprise to me that he's thoroughly in the mix at center alongside Graham Glasgow and Jack Miller. (Funk also mentioned walk-on Ben Pliska.) At this point, Glasgow is still the most likely to start given that he has the most game experience, but for the most part everyone agrees that Kugler, largely based on his recruiting acumen, has the size, technique, and coaching pedigree to be a better option at that spot. Furthermore, it should be noted also that Glasgow 'repped' more at guard during the spring game.

With the departure of Taylor Lewan and Michael Schofield to the NFL, both right and left tackle are clearly not solidified. Funk offered a few thoughts on who Michigan can expect to possibility fill that void:

Probably as a position group, those guys have gotten better from day one to day 13 at a higher rate than any of them, which is good because we need that. The two that we lost, obviously [they're] going to play on Sunday. You don’t just waltz a guy right in and replace those guys. What you can do at the tackle position, which I haven’t had to do with those two the last couple of years, you can help tackles… you can help young tackles.

...

The guy who has really come on and really should be getting ready for prom in a few weeks but is already here is Mason Cole. He has done a tremendous job at left tackle and we knew he was an excellent player coming in. He is very athletic. He is going to get bigger and stronger. He’s probably been as pleasant as a surprise as anyone. You really don’t expect, mid years guys when they come in, they sometimes struggle. Mason has come in and pretty much, I don’t want to say effortlessly, but including the academic, social, and football, and lifting that kid has done everything that we’ve asked. So I think we’ll see some nice things from him.

Webb goes on to ask if Mason Cole has a viable chance of starting as a true freshman at one of the tackle positions, to which Funk responds in the affirmative. That would be absolutely terrifying. (My hope is that Funk mentioned him largely as an example of great potential we could see in a year from now.)

Although I didn't reproduce it in the block-quotes, Funk basically mentions every single offensive lineman as an option for everywhere. David Dawson is working out at both guard and tackle, so is Logan Tuley-Tillman, who is currently playing with his hand in a cast (club). Blake Bars and Ben Braden are both options as well. (Right now we are at the point where coaches sum up their players without saying much other than "He's coming along nicely.") Finally, Funk lamented over not having Erik Magnuson for spring practice -- as we understand it, he would be the most logical choice to replace Lewan at left tackle.

Lastly, Webb ends the interview on a topic that should give Michigan fans at least some marginal semblance of hope: attitude. Any offensive line wants to have the proverbial "nastiness" that doesn't back down from whatever an opposing defense throws at it, and simultaneously also has the mental toughness to weather adversity, which, given the Michigan State game last year, would be a welcome sight.

Is Funk seeing a change in attitude?

I’m starting to see it. We’re starting to see it more and more often. Our defense plays with attitude and that has been a big deal for them and it always is. We’re starting to work on that up front and get a little bit more. We’ve had almost melee’s here and there, which is not that bad. You’ve got to have a little bit of that. You don’t want fighting and punching and all that, but you’ve got to have some guys that are going and push each other. We’re starting to see that. Not as consistent as I want, and we’ve got to work on getting our pad levels down and all of these things that come with the position but in terms of that attitude, it is getting better that way.

Here's hoping.

Conclusion

Okay, so Funk didn't really answer any big, burning questions -- again, not that Webb is the kind of reporter to really pose any, given his love for the Maize and Blue. So you can interpret this in a few ways. First, you can come to the completely reasonable conclusion that Michigan is pretty much where we all thought they'd be: tackle is unsettled, as is center, as is guard. We are still looking for those best five, and we've been hampered by Magnuson sitting out the spring. Nothing has really changed, and all we can do is wait, hope the players progress, and hope the coaches know what they're doing in the long run.

Second, you can argue that there is at least some sense of progress, some very marginal indications that the offensive line is moving in a positive direction. Michigan is going back to basics, Nussmeier is keeping things simple (or, simpler) while focusing intensely on Devin Gardner, and the offensive line coach who prefers to run inside zone is now for all intents and purposes paired with a coordinator who runs a lot of inside zone. So this could work. Will it work well enough to get to a Big Ten championship? Ask again later.

So how much optimism should you have? Well, obviously, I can't answer that for you. Some fans looked at this interview and had mixed reactions. That's understandable. I personally wasn't thrilled that Funk wasn't asked specifically what went wrong with the offensive line in 2013 and how, specifically, the offensive line in 2014 is going to be different. Of course, even if Funk would have answered that question (and are we really thinking his answer would have been anything other than the word "Youth"?), it still doesn't change the fact that the only real, unshakable, crystal-clear beyond a shadow of a doubt answer Funk can give is on the field.

That's all from me right now. Go Blue.

Have a thought? Share your opinions in the comments!

6 ways to treat your a blog like a business

April 17, 2014 by  
Filed under Faith & Life

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6 ways to treat your blog like a business

If you’ve got big blogging dreams, write as an addition to your business, are working with sponsors, or are simply running ads to make a little extra cash, it might be time to look at your blog as a business, not just a part-time pass time. Here are six ways to get more serious about blogging, so your readers will get more serious about you!

Create a brand

The very first, number on this I recommend is to ditch the BlogSpot and WordPress.com domains and get one of your own. And once you’ve got that shiny new domain, create a logo and a social media handle to match. Using the same name and icons across the board help make you and your website more recognizable.

Stick to a weekly schedule

This is one of the big things I recommend to all my Badass Babes – make time in your schedule every day or every week just for blogging. You’ll find it’s a lot  easier to keep on top of a posting schedule when the time is already set aside and you don’t have to squeeze it in during your lunch break or after the kids have gone to sleep. If you’re feeling really ambitious, you could even create a yearly plan to keep track of features, events and product launches.

Track your income and expenses

Spreadsheets! I think I’m the only one that gets really excited to track this stuff (yeah, for real, I love it). According to the IRS, no matter how much you make, you’ll need to report this income when filing your taxes. And trust me, you don’t want to get to next April and have to recall what you made in October and where it came from.

Set goals

Whether it’s gaining 20 new Twitter followers by the end of the month, making $100 from ad sales, or landing your first guest post, setting goals is the best way to grow your blog. All businesses know where they were, where they are and where they want to be and they’re constantly updating this info and projecting for the future. You can do it too! Each month take stock of where your blog has gained, what posts/features did well, and what readers have been asking about and then set some goals. Don’t forget to include numbers and dates AND I challenge you to be ambitious!

Build a media kit

A media kit is a one-page, few-page,  or lots of pages document that helps brands and sponsors know if they want to work with you. It should include a description of your blog & content, a description of your readers, blog traffic and social media stats, what types of sponsored material you accept, and rates for ads/sponsored posts/reviews/etc. Post it as a PDF on your about page or let interested parties know they can email you to receive a copy.

Make an investment

Whether it’s a new blog design (psst…I can help with that), new headshots or killer copy, if you’re serious about blogging, putting a little money into it will pay off big time. Plus hiring someone to do the things you’re not great at helps take away the headache of late-night coding marathons or figuring out how to remove a zit in Photoshop.

Are you the CEO of your blog? Which one of these things will you/have you tried in order to take blogging more seriously?

RGA attacks Mark Schauer for something Mark Schauer wasn’t responsible for

April 16, 2014 by  
Filed under Politics

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There's always an inherent problem in letting someone campaigning on your behalf: They might do or say something stupid, and you look stupid by reflection. We saw this when Terri Lynn Land, who might be the worst candidate for the U.S. Senate since Peter Hoekstra, let Americans for Prosperity lie about Obamacare and then use a cancer sufferer as a willing human shield (by the way, anyone ask if Julie Boonstra got paid for all this?). Now, there's this.

LANSING, MI -- The Republican Governors Association released what it called a "new attack ad" on Wednesday, criticizing Michigan Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer for a 2002 state House vote that imposed a new per-bed fee on nursing homes.

The only problem?

The "Medicaid Quality Assurance Assessment Program" was backed by Republican Gov. John Engler, won bipartisan support in the state Legislature and was later extended by Gov. Rick Snyder, who Schauer is challenging.

The program is designed to win federal match dollars and then return them to nursing homes that participate in Michigan's Medicaid program.

The sound you hear is the Republican Governor's Association wrenching the sink out of the kitchen and hurling it at Mark Schauer.


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