Friday, March 2, 2007

The Lion's Psychological Draft Status

As the Detroit Lions approach the upcoming draft, it really bums me out that vanity and thin skin will likely prevent them from selecting the best player available.

I'm no Mel Kiper (thank heavens) however with the second pick there is a distinct possibility the Lions will have the option to select Georgia Tech's Calvin Johnson. Yeah, yeah it all depends on the Raiders and the wild card that is Al Davis.

However the current consensus is they either stay at #2 or move down, therefore potentially creating an opportunity to get more picks in higher rounds (1st and 2nd).

Now I get the Lions have multiple holes to fill. Quantity versus quality may be an appropriate strategy. However I feel the motivation maybe less logical and more psychological.
The dilemma seems to be that due to past misfortune/stupidity the Lions (read: Matt Millen, of "Fire Millen" fame) will be unwilling to do the best thing for the team now based on events that have happened in the past.

In reality, the timing and personnel have nothing to do with each other. What is common is that Matt Millen is likely unwilling to deal with the shitstorm that would develop if he picked another wide receiver or quarterback with a high draft position, regardless of how "can't miss" he is. That is a damn shame.

Let's be realistic, the perennially negative Detroit Lions football culture (team, fans and media are all part of this culture) will find fault regardless of the selection. So my feeling is that this notion, one of limiting the amount of flack generated -- is disproportionately going to influence the draft decision and therefore increase the likelihood of failure.

As I see it, in order of risk, the Lions cannot pick due to the volume of negative media/fan reaction:

1. A wide receiver. (see: Charles Rogers, Mike Williams, Roy Williams (even though he is good)
2. A quarterback (see: Joey Harrington, Andre Ware and to a lesser extent, Chuck Long)
3. An offensive lineman, from Wisconsin, at left tackle (see: Aaron Gibson)

My guess is that the lesser of these "evils" is #3. Therefore if they remain with the second pick they will go with Joe Thomas. "Yes" they have the need, but "yes" it is one that will draw the least amount of criticism. The left tackle position is less high-profile and a more rational (therefore) defensible when dealing with the press (and therefore) fans.

It boggles my mind that the media and fans literally relate unrelated items as if they are an "if/then" scenario.

"If" the Lions pick another wide receiver in the first round "then" he runs the risk of being like Charles Rogers.


Aside from playing the same position in college, they literally are unrelated. So why predicate possible future success on the failings of past individuals? It makes no logical sense. Different coaches, different systems and most importantly -- they are different people.

What we as fans rely on the Lions front office doing is identifying work ethic and the willingness of the kid to be coached. We rely on the front office to assess the individual's fit and potential and talent to help the team. If Calvin Johnson is viewed as too risky from a talent/prone to injury/character perspective - then don't pick him. If the need to select an offensive lineman is viewed as a greater need than QB or WR based on talent available - then do it.

Don't make the decision because you are afraid of the press or having to deal with those at the wwl (Mel Kiper, YWML) or Freep or Det News asking " Matt, this is the 4th wide receiver you have picked in 5 years in the first round, can you tell me why?"

Be a leader and get us the best players...regardless of the flack.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Well, it happened - kind of...

A few days late.

My previous post predicted a response from MSU's win over Wisconsin. I predicted the response, again from a former co-worker and fellow alum of MSU would lace some form of bash of UofM's program even though they were not part of the equation.

Well, that did not happen.

However I just received an email from that person, now two days post MSU's loss to UofM.

Here is the text:

Click the link below when you have five minutes or so where you will be uninterrupted. I love that this gets discussed annually. I forgot some of the details but the story brings it all back. The accompanying video is nice too. Enjoy gentlemen!

So that you don't have to waste the time he is begging you to waste, the story is about Chris Webber's time-out in the 1993 National Title Game.

Yep. 1993.

So his tacit acknowledgement of the recent MSU loss is to resurface something bad that happened to UofM 14 years ago.


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Will MSU Fans Ever Learn?

Tonight MSU plays the #1 ranked (or #2 if you look at the WWL's poll) Wisconsin Badgers at "the Jack." For some reason, I have a good vibe about this game from a Sparty point of view. I think they are ready to put a full game together and take a large step off the bubble in regard to NCAA tournament consideration.

If MSU is fortunate tonight and upsets the Badgers I am a bit dismayed at what will happen to my email inbox tomorrow morning.

Let me back track a bit...

Last week I opened my email to see a note sent by a former work colleague and fellow alum of Michigan State University.

The title "N.I.T. Renamed."

I shook my head. I knew what was coming and sure enough upon opening the note found it was addressed to a cross section of MSU and UM alum/fans. It read:

Dateline: Ann Arbor, MI

The "National Invitation Tournament" (NIT) has been renamed the "Michigan Invitation Tournament" (M.I.T) due to the fact that it is the only tournament the University of Michigan can qualify for.

I shook my head again. First of is not funny. Second, the timing is purposeful in response to MSU's less than impressive win over UofM in East Lansing last Tuesday.

It is so frustrating to continually see MSU fans perpetuate an inferiority complex that I believe, in some part feeds Michigan State's perpetual inconsistency, especially in football.

At face value the win over UofM was expected. One, it was at home where the Spartans have been (hey, can you believe it?) consistent. Two, it was against a team that struggles on the road.
But it was Michigan and anytime and I mean ANYTIME MSU beats Michigan in a major sport, well Spartan fans need to let those arrogant bastards from UofM know. Right? RIGHT?

Wrong. Very, very wrong.

Back to tonight...or tomorrow morning.

If MSU wins I am confident the same e-mailer will compose some more less-than-funny prose aimed at, you guessed it - the UofM fans/grads on the list. No celebration of a wonderful victory for the school/alma mater.

Nope. It will be a celebration of victory by proxy.

Somehow, someway the e-mailer will weave a UofM misfortune thread even though they are not in tonight's equation whatsoever. Therefore in his mind, (sorry to go all Carl G. Jung here) no doubt making MSU's win more impressive in the process.

That's how it works at MSU. Been that way for years.

So MSU fans perpetuate the very notion they claim to want leave behind by acknowledging UofM even when they are not involved. MSU's success is based, largely on a combination of 1. MSU's success and 2. UofM's failure (not necessarily in that order). A perverted twist on Jung's Hero Archetype.

As fans I have to say we (MSU fans) are on the top of Mt. Suck in this regard. Loyal as a wet-nosed retriever but a true study in group insecurity feeding a culture of inconsistency. We are part of the problem.

I am hopeful MSU is fortunate and wins this evening. It would be a great win for a team that has really worked hard this year. They have been fun to watch and harking back to the early days of Izzo's teams when he did not have 3 or 4 McDonald's All-Americans on the squad. They play tough defense and I think would be a good tournament team...representing both the school and the conference well.

I am just hopeful MSU fans can start to carry themselves with a little more "singular" school pride. It is great to have a rival and "hate" that rival and celebrate beating that rival. Perhaps this "singular" pride will carry over to the football program which is the primary source of the school's inferiority complex. I don't know.

What I do know is that everyone "felt it" when Notre Dame started their comeback in football this past year...including the tv game announcers. The fact that MSU football fans did not come out from under a rock until after the Rose Bowl was telling. The right to shoot your mouth off was somehow enabled by the two losses to OSU and USC.

Gimme a break.

If Sparty wins tonight, look for a follow-up on my prediction tomorrow. If not, you just have to wait until February 28th, the day after the next Michigan game - or until the next MSU win, which could be quite a while. Rest assured it will happen. It always happens.

We are MSU. The self-made red-headed step children.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Chris Webber - Bridging the Hate between MSU and UofM

Let's face it. Chris Webber has proven that while there is no "i" in "team," there is a "me."

He lied to Jud Heathcoat, verbally committing to MSU then attending UofM when a certain Ed Martin came a calling with his birthday cakes full of cash.

Then he goes on to be a prime-mover in UofM Basketball's meteoric rise and catastrophic fall as a member of the Fab 5. Remember, this is the guy who showed no remorse and even rationalized his taking of the cash as "the University gets all this cash from selling my jersey and what do I get?.." line (or something to that effect). I dunno, how about a free education at a prestigious University for starters...but that is another topic and debate.

He lied to a Federal Grand Jury. By virtue of Martin's death seems to have gotten away with it and now he is back, in all his smiling and aw-shucks-I-am-just-so-happy-to-be-home glory. Super Chris, here to save the day for our beloved Detroit Pistons.

I don't buy it.

Since the rumors and now since his signing a standard topic has been floating around...

"What do you think about (the Pistons) signing C Webb?"

My social circle has a nice cross section of UofM and MSU alums or fans. As a MSU grad, I married a Wolverine. Crazy talk, I know...

My observation that if you went to UofM or MSU the opinion is similar. Regardless of your affiliation, most people don't like it. Don't get me wrong. Everyone agrees he can help the Pistons succeed and that his basketball presence is really a fortunate circumstance.

However Webber had an opportunity to erase all the bullshit he and I emphasize HE created by addressing it head on, perhaps even offering an apology. But he didn't.

He skirted the answers when the inevitable questions came proving yet again his sociopath's view of the situation. No remorse. Y'all just don't understand. His demeanor mildly laden with disgust that one would even ask the question.

Considering this consistent behaviour I think it is reasonable to conclude that we can expect the same consistency on the court. This man is not destined for championships. Perhaps ordained by some act of ethical check-and-balance, Chris will never be able to have his cake and eat it too.

Let's face it, he is not the new Rasheed. The one piece that turned the Piston's into a roaring machine two years ago. He is an aging player whose skills are on the downside. He is a defensive liability on a team (minus Ben Wallace) who needs a greater sense of defense.

So Piston fans, don't get too jacked up. The only thing Webber's signing has really done is to get Spartans and Wolverines to agree on a topic. And if you think about it -- that is a bad thing too.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Carr Must Go

Enough is enough. We no longer live in a world where just being the good guy means you get to keep your job. We live in a world where winning is everything. Unfortunate but true, and especially in sports. Lloyd is not a winner. A true winner might lose, but they learn from losing. Lloyd has not learned anything from his last three 0-2 finishes. Simply, Pete Carroll (a winner) knows this about Lloyd, as does Tressel (a winner). Pete Carroll knows that Lloyd doesnt learn from past mistakes, and Pete basically ran the exact same defense he did the last time he pounded Carr. Please note, I am not saying U of M and USC, I am specific that this is about coaching. If you switched and had Carroll coach Michigan, Michigan would have won. The talent is similar enough. Leadership is the difference. Carr must go.