President Bush has approval ratings which rival any former President, and not in a good way. And the only solace President Bush can take from his record low numbers is that the Democratic Congress is viewed with even more skepticism and disdain by the American people. Americans are sick of the President, sick of Congress and sick of politics as usual. Too much bickering, too much money spent on bridges to nowhere, too much partisanship.
In seven days, in Iowa, Democratic voters have a chance to change that. Democratic voters have a chance to turn the page from the fights of today and yesterday and instead look to the promise of tomorrow. This is the part I will never understand about voters, about how our political system works. Everyone hates the President. Everyone hates Congress. Everyone is looking for a new idea, for a new politics, for a new way forward. But, yet, nationally, is it that new way forward that is leading the polls for the Democratic nomination? No. Barack Obama, despite making up tremendous ground over the past months, is still well behind Hillary Clinton nationally, and is tied with her in the critical states of Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. Why are people falling back to the status quo they hate so much? They want experience, but yet, decry the current Congress, and rightfully so. They want change, but they are afraid of where that might lead.
Chris Matthews, on Morning Joe Wednesday morning, and again on Hardball Wednesday night, said that if Barack Obama won the Iowa Democratic Caucus, it would be the biggest worldwide story in US Politics in at least twenty-five years. I'd say it would be the biggest story since President Nixon resigned (or perhaps, his pardon). Matthews is absolutely right. If Obama wins Iowa, a man from Kansas and Kenya and Hawaii and Indonesia, with a largely atheist African father and Muslim grandparents and a white Christian mother and an Indonesian step-father, who was educated in California and Columbia, NY and Harvard, and who was a lawyer, and professor, and community organizer, and state senator, and United States Senator, it will be front page news not just in Iowa, and New Hampshire, and South Carolina. But South Africa and Indonesia and everywhere in between. It will be the giant step forward that everyone is looking for. It would be a sign of great progress, and a message that America isn't settling for the same brand of politics that has divided us over the past 27-years, during which time there has been either a Bush or Clinton as President or Vice President.
And even though conventional wisdom is that if Hillary Clinton wins Iowa, it's over. That's far from the truth. New Hampshire made Bill Clinton the "Comeback Kid" in 1991, despite him finishing second in that contest, after he skipped Iowa entirely. If Obama loses Iowa, but somehow comes back and wins New Hampshire, and then uses that momentum to take South Carolina, he may not need Iowa. That's obviously not the conventional wisdom, and everyone assumes that if Obama loses Iowa, his support will become soft in New Hampshire, but maybe it won't. Maybe New Hampshire has "comeback kid" saved again. I'm not sold on conventional wisdom for New Hampshire anyway. Conventional wisdom says a John McCain surge in New Hampshire is bad for Obama because McCain will take a lot of independents who will choose to vote for him in the Republican primary instead of voting for Obama on the Democratic side. I can't see that being true though. Is an Obama supporter also a McCain supporter? The two have radically different issue profiles. McCain and Clinton, who are both much more hawkish than their respective opponents, would seem more likely to draw from the same crowd. Using that logic, Obama should maintain most all his independent support, while Clinton, who didn't have much to start with, would lose almost all of her support to a surging McCain. Not the conventional wisdom, but to me that makes sense.
Americans don't just want change. They are starving for it. Yet, they are afraid of it. Afraid to take chances, to trust their country and their future on the unknown. But if Iowa Democrats don't take that chance, then they don't get to complain when the next four or eight years result in the same partisan gridlock, the same spite and hatred and bitterness that defined the past eight, sixteen, twenty, twenty-seven years.
There was a great line once on an episode of The West Wing. Josh's assistant Donna was trying to get out of jury duty, and after explaining to her the value of serving, he said something to the effect of "Serve, don't serve, but if you don't, then you don't get to complain about the OJ verdict." Iowa Democrats, in seven days, have a choice. They can caucus for change, or they can caucus for experience. And maybe I'm wrong, and change isn't important, and experience is. But I'm not. Americans are unhappy with the President and unhappy with Congress at record levels for a reason, yet, with a chance to change things, with a chance truly make a difference, and truly change the shape of our country for the better, and not only that, but change the world for the better, there's no evidence that Iowa Democrats are going to take advantage of that opportunity. If they vote for experience over change, if they caucus for Clinton over Obama, that's fine. But then they can't complain about what the next four, or eight years will look like.
Thursday, December 27, 2007
President Bush has approval ratings which rival any former President, and not in a good way. And the only solace President Bush can take from his record low numbers is that the Democratic Congress is viewed with even more skepticism and disdain by the American people. Americans are sick of the President, sick of Congress and sick of politics as usual. Too much bickering, too much money spent on bridges to nowhere, too much partisanship.
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
So I graduated from Law School last Friday, which is relevant to this blog because it should allow me to do two things in the next few months: Blog more and read more. Reading for pleasure is something I love but something that during law school, I never really found time to do as much as I wanted. And given I own a library of books just waiting to be read, I plan to take advantage of my extra time. But, given that it's Christmas Night, and I graduated only four days ago and I'm already back in Ann Arbor for my Bar Review classes which start tomorrow at 9:00 a.m., maybe I shouldn't speak too soon.
I did take advantage of my short break and already read one book, by my good buddy pal (as he likes to say) Jim Cramer. Cramer has written a number of books over the years, and his first, Confessions of a Street Addict, a biography of his time as a multi-million dollar hedge fund manager, is probably his best. For anybody interested in the stock market, or for anyone who watches Cramer's shtick on CNBC each day and is curious about whether Cramer's really that crazy (answer: even more so in real life, and proud of it) that book is for you.
His latest book, currently high up on the New York Times Best Seller list, is unlike his other books. It's not a biography, and it's not a book about stock trading (like his other two tomes). Titled "Stay Mad For Life: Get Rich, Stay Rich, and Make Your Kids Even Richer" the book is not aimed at stock junkies. Instead, it's aimed at the everyman, breaking down everything from 401K and IRA plans to 527 plans to save money for college to, yes, stocks and bonds and mutual funds, and what you should invest in at every stage of your life, from 18 to 81 and beyond. Everything is explained in easy-to-understand language, and it's peppered with typical Cramer-isms and the wit you'd expect from a somewhat crazy, high-strung, completely entertaining multi-millionaire television personality.
I still have another of Cramer's books to read, but this volume was well worth the two days it took me to go through it. I learned a lot about the basics of investing, and when combined with all of the lessons my grandfather has taught me over the years (he started me with investing in the stock market when I was a kid, buying one or two shares of companies like Topps Trading Cards and Electronic Arts, a tactic Cramer recommends in his book to get kids interested in investing) I have a lot to build on. Whether you are retiring or are just starting out, this book will help you, not just increase your knowledge about the markets, but even maybe make some money. And what else could you ask for?
Monday, December 24, 2007
After visiting Ford Field for the final time in 2007 to watch the Detroit Lions play (I'll be back in just a few days time for the Motor City Bowl and likely back in March for the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament) and, shockingly, win, I ventured out to the Birmingham 8 to check out a movie I have been looking forward to seeing since I learned Aaron Sorkin had penned the script: Charlie Wilson's War. I wasn't disappointed.
I'll watch almost anything Aaron Sorkin writes. As a devout West Wing fanatic (I've seen every episode at least two or three times, some more than that, and I know a lot of the show's dialogue by heart) and Sports Night fan before that (which, of course, is where the name of this blog, Quo Vadimus, comes from -- Well, actually, to be fair, it comes from Latin, but I learned it from Sports Night long before I covered it in my four semesters of classical Latin in undergrad) and as somebody who thinks A Few Good Men and the American President are two great movies, I pretty much think Sorkin can do no wrong. And even if that isn't always true (as my eulogy for Sorkin's failed Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip proves I'll still give what Sorkin is selling a fair shake before I give up on it.
In this case, Sorkin was selling the true story of Congressman Charles Wilson, a Texas Democrat who helped launch a covert war, brought the Saudis and Israelis together (if even unofficially) and brought down the Soviet Union, feats before thought impossible. When I first read that the movie and its actors had been nominated in the "comedy" category of the Golden Globes, I was a bit confused as the subject matter, on its fact, doesn't lend itself to comedy. But while the Cold War and the end of the USSR may not be a barrel of laughs, the real-life characters behind the Afghans rise against the Russians, Wilson (played by Tom Hanks) and his CIA-confidant Gust Avrakotos (played by the great Philip Seymour Hoffman) are hilarious. Seymour Hoffman is especially great and very very funny. The movie is sharp, fast-paced (and quick at just over 90-minutes of screen time) and tells a story worth telling. Amy Adams is also great in her role as Wilson's legislative assistant, chief among a staff of incredibly beautiful assistants (one of whom is Rachel Nichols of Alias fame).
The movie is also thought-provoking and serious, as much for its ending as the story of how Wilson was able to build the budget for covert operations from $5 million to at least 100-times that amount by the end of hostilities in Afghanistan. While Congress had no problem pumping hundreds of millions of dollars in aide to the Afghanistan people to fight the Russians, the government quickly lost interest after the fall of the Berlin Wall, refused to provide Afghanistan the money it needed to rebuild its demolished infrastructure and schools, and created a vacuum of power which was unfortunately filled by the Tailban, and we all know where that tragically led. The movie does not spend much time on the after-effects of Wilson's "war" but it does make its point in the end in a very profound way, and a way which has drawn some criticism from the Reagan administration.
This a very very good movie, with the right mix of humor, levity, and seriousness. It's a well-written script with great actors giving life to Sorkin's words, and it's well worth seeing, especially when compared with some of the mindless films that are currently drowning theaters. Mindless fun can be attractive sometimes, but don't let the serious nature of the topic of Charlie Wilson's War fool you. It's not all inside Washington politics, not all international diplomacy and war and it's certainly one of the best movies I have seen this year.
Friday, December 21, 2007
There's a lot to like about the newest member of the Detroit Tigers starting rotation Dontrelle Willis. He's young, energetic, personable, and he has s strong arm (and not a bad bat either, so watch out during interleague play). Yesterday the Tigers announced that have signed Willis to a three-year contract extension, keeping the young lefty in the Tigers organization through at least the 2010 season. Now all that Tigers President and General Manager Dave Dombrowski needs to do is lockup Willis' Marlins teammate Miguel Cabrera to a long-term deal and the Tigers will be set for well into the next decade. While some may scoff at giving $29 million to a pitcher who had an ERA over 5.00 in the National League in 2007, Willis is a much better pitcher than his numbers indicated, and without the pressure of being the steward on a sinking ship and with a solid offense and defense behind him, Willis should return to form. Will he have a sub-three ERA and win over 20 games as he did in 2003? Probably not, but for the deal to be a win for the Tigers he doesn't have to. Carlos Silva $12 million a year deal and Willis, at least to me, has a lot more upside than Silva.
But there's another reason why I like the deal, and it has nothing to do with on-the-field performance. As my MLive.com colleague Danny Knobler wrote about yesterday, Willis was already in Detroit yesterday when the deal was agreed to. Why was the Florida-resident trudging around snowbound Detroit in the middle of December? To give Christmas presents to children in need.
Willis was going to be in Detroit today, anyway, because he had arranged to give out 450 Christmas gifts to children in need at the Methodist Children's Home Society. The Children's Home has always been a favorite charity for Willis, because when he was growing up in Oakland, he had a homeless friend who got help there. So as soon as Willis became a Tiger, he told his agent he wanted to help the Children's Home in Detroit.
Here's a guy who has been a member of the Detroit Tigers organization for all of thirty seconds and he's already becoming a community leader and already is giving back. We always hear the negative stories about athletes. Arrests. Drug use, both on and off the field. Holdouts. Sometimes we forget that there are a lot of athletes, like Willis, who give back to the community too. And Willis has not lived a perfect life (he was arrested for DUI in 2006), but it says a lot when somebody jumps with both feet into the local community. Something tells me Willis is going to become a huge fan favorite in Detroit, and we'll look back on this contract signing as the first step in what will be a long and prosperous relationship between Willis and not just the Tigers, but the city of Detroit and the greater metro-Detroit community.
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Rich Rodriguez does not waste any time. In what must have been either minutes before, or minutes after, he told his West Virginia team that he was leaving the school to take the University of Michigan's head coaching job, he already was on the phone with one of the top recruits in the country, Terrell Pryor. Thanks to my buddy Mike who forwarded me the link to Scout.com where this report appears, Pryor called Scout to have them update his on-line profile because he was now considering coming to Michigan to play for Rodriguez, a school he previously had not considered.
Imagine the surprise of this writer as my cell phone rings ten minutes ago and it is the top player on the East Coast Terrelle Pryor telling me that he may have just unlocked the biggest coaching story of the year.
"Add Michigan to my list," Pryor said.
Michigan, the Wolverines? Of course I had to ask is Rich Rodriguez going there because its the only thing that would draw Pryor to Ann Arbor right now.
"I just spoke to Coach Rodriguez about ten minutes ago and he told me he is going to Michigan," Pryor explained. "He said they made him an offer an he can't refuse it."
Pryor, who Scout.com lists as the #1 quarterback recruit in the country, is compared favorably to Vince Young.
Pryor has great size and good quickness and speeed. He shows a good arm and great athletic ability in the pocket. He is a “Vince Young” type of signal caller in that is very dangerous in the open field because he has the ability to make a move or run right through would be tacklers. As a passer Pryor shows a good arm and can throw with accuracy and touch.Not bad for your first afternoon on the job. No wonder ESPN.com reports that he's not coaching West Virginia in their upcoming Fiesta Bowl, he's got recruits to visit and kids to convince to come play for the new-look Wolverines.
A new era begins today for the University of Michigan's Men's Football team as the school has hired Lloyd Carr's replacement. As ESPN reports (and unlike the last time ESPN reported a coach is coming to Michigan, they have it cold this time, West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez has agreed to replace Lloyd Carr as Michigan's head football coach. This all came together really quickly after Rodriguez met with University President Mary Sue Coleman and Athletic Director Bill Martin on Friday and after a few days of consideration (and rumblings that Rodriguez was going to stay at WVU) Rodriguez told his team at a Sunday team meeting that he was headed to Ann Arbor.
In an early afternoon meeting with his football team, Rodriguez announced he was leaving to become the head coach at Michigan.
Rodriguez walked into a scheduled 1:30 p.m. meeting with his team and emerged 10 minutes later without comment and walked briskly back to his office. Shortly thereafter the players began to file out of the meeting room, somber-faced and generally without comment.
After it looked very bleak, and after Les Miles turned us down (in fact, perhaps, turned us down twice) and Rutgers' Greg Schiano did the same it looked like Michigan was going to be caught without a top-tier head coach. Reports had the school contacting Sean Payton of the NFL's New Orleans Saints, but he wasn't interested either. But then the Rodriguez story broke on Friday and everyone in Ann Arbor got excited again.
As I wrote on Friday, Rodriguez may not be Les Miles, and may not have the connections to Michigan Miles did, but he may be every bit the coach. He turned a West Virginia team that was 3-8 in his first season into a national power, with a 32-5 record the past three seasons (11-1, 11-2, and 10-2 going into this year's BCS Fiesta Bowl) with two BCS Bowl births. He's known was an incredibly hard worker, and as an offensive mastermind, who helped turn Shaun King and Tulane into household names while guiding them to a 12-0 record in 1998 as the team's offensive coordinator.
It will surely be a change for Michigan, which may ditch it's usual pro-style attack for the spread offense Rodriguez has helped make famous. Whether current quarterback Ryan Mallett, who has a gun for an arm, but isn't nearly as mobile or athletic as Rodriguez' former quarterbacks, will be able to run Rodriguez complex offense is certainly a question mark. Rodriguez, though, is such a talented offensive mind, that one would think he would be able to adjust his offense to suit Mallett's strengths, while recruiting a quarterback who is better suited to run his offense. Mallett has so much potential, especially given his incredible arm-strength, so hopefully Rodriguez can design a system which gets the most out of a very talented sophomore quarterback. Michigan's defense will be interesting too, with that side of the ball never being a strong-suit for the WVU Mountaineers. Whether the team keeps current defensive coordinator Ron English, or Rodriguez brings in someone new, that will be an issue to keep an eye on.
Today is a great day for the future of the Michigan Wolverines. At only 44-years-old, Rodriguez has already amassed an impressive resume, and if successful, he could be the Michigan coach for the next 15-years (though, that may be getting a bit ahead of ourselves). We certainly will see a change from the traditional and conservative offense which has defined Michigan for decades, but it's a change Michigan needs to make if they will continue to be an elite program in college football. This coaching search may not have started on the right note, but it certainly finished on one.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
I don't like zombie movies. As a general rule that is. Well, I can't really say that because before tonight, I've never really seen a zombie movie. Horror movies, slasher movies, gory movies, just never have been anything I've been interested in seeing. Dramatic thrillers? Now those are good. But The Ring or 28 Days Later? I'll skip those. But, tonight, after taking my second law school exam in three days (only two more to go in my law school career) me and nine of my law school buddies decided to head out to the movie theater, take the night off from studying, and see Will Smith's new film, zombie movie I Am Legend.
First things first, we saw the "IMAX" version, and while the movie screen was bigger than a normal movie screen, and curved, and the sound was really good, not really worth the extra money. Maybe the theater just had a cheap IMAX screen, who knows. I felt during the previews that the largeness of the screen just like overwhelmed my senses, but as the movie itself got going, it just seemed like any other screen.
As for the movie itself, because I've ever really seen a zombie/horror movie before, I have little to compare this to. The special effects were decent but not great, but the cinematography was pretty good, as the shots of Smith hitting golf balls off an abandoned aircraft carrier near Times Square was pretty cool. One of the reviews I had read going into the movie compared Smith's role to that of Tom Hanks in Cast Away, as both pretty much had to carry a movie literally singlehandedly, with no other actors to play off of for a majority of the movie. It was a very good comparison. Smith is a great actor, and he was really good here. It can't be easy acting pretty much by yourself, but Smith made it work, and kept the movie suspenseful. It was scary at parts, funny at others, and the ending was a bit weak, but overall, it was a fine movie. Not the best I've seen this year, but a good movie.
Still, probably won't be seeing any more zombie movies for a while
Friday, December 14, 2007
Thanks to my buddy Ben who sent this link along, the Sporting News is reporting that West Virginia head football coach Rich Rodriguez is in Toledo today with his agent to negotiate a potential deal with the University of Michigan to become the team's next head football coach.
There's a new twist in Michigan's ongoing search for a head coach: University officials are meeting with West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez, according to Sporting News Radio correspondent Michael Bradley.
Rodriguez and his agent are in Toledo today to negotiate with Michigan athletic director Bill Martin and university president Mary Sue Coleman.
Michigan has been looking for a head coach since Lloyd Carr announced his retirement Nov. 19 after 13 seasons leading the program.
Rodriguez would be an incredible choice, may be every bit the coach Les Miles is, and would make the school two-for-two in stealing West Virginia coaches as Michigan hired former WVU men's basketball coach John Beilein last year. Rodriguez is 60-26 at West Virginia, an amazing turn around at a school which was 3-8 in his first season. Since that time (2001) he has never lost more than 4 games in a season, and the last three seasons he has led the Mountaineers to 11-1, 11-2, and 10-2 seasons with two BCS Bowl births (a Sugar Bowl win over Georgia in 2005 and another trip this season against Oklahoma).
This would be a an amazing coup for Bill Martin who has not had a good few weeks. Pulling Rodriguez away from alma matter is going to be tough, but if Michigan could pull it off, it would certainly make up for the mess that was the Les Miles courtship. It's actually kind of surprising Rodriguez name has not come up substantively before now considering Michigan's early hiring of Beilein. And considering Michigan's other options at this point (Brady Hoke? Ron English?) Rodriguez would be everything a Michigan fan could ask for and more.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
I love Hardball with Chris Matthews on MSNBC. During this primary campaign it has been must-see television. I know I've written before about how much I enjoy MSNBC's programming, from Morning Joe to Hardball to Countdown, but one of the top reasons to watch MSNBC is their amazing panel of pundits that they always have on. I've flipped to Bill O’Reilly's show from time-to-time and who are these Democratic and Republican "strategists" he has on? At least Hannity and Colmes have people like Dick Morris and Newt Gingrich on, people who I may not agree with but at least they know what they are talking about. Some woman was filling in actually the other night for Alan Colmes, and she couldn't get a sentence out. Had no clue what was going on. Meanwhile, on MSNBC, you have Chuck Todd, and the great Howard Fineman from Newsweek, and Roger Simon from The Politco, and Tim Russert, and Pat Buchanan, and Washington Post writers like Anne Kornblut and Eugene Robinson and Chris Cillizza (and I could go on and on and on). These are people who are great writers and reporters and really know their politics and are fascinating to listen to.
Well, today on Hardball, it wasn't any of the pundits getting into the act, but advisers to the three main Democratic campaigns for President. Chris interviewed David Axlerod (Obama chief strategist), Mark Penn (Clinton pollster and advisor) and Joe Trippi (former Howard Dean frontman and current John Edwards strategist) and they got into it over Clinton's negative campaigning. And (and this won't come as a big surprise to blog readers) I agree with Obama's campaign. It was Hillary Clinton who said that she was ready to start attacking and that "now the fun part starts." And since that time, the Clinton campaign has knocked Obama for saying he wanted to be President when he was in kindergarten, had two members of their volunteer staff resign after forwarding along e-mails claiming Obama was a Muslim who is trying to infiltrate America and destroy it from the inside, and now had one of their top people, New Hampshire co-chair Billy Shaheen resigned after bringing up questions about Obama's past drug use which Obama himself wrote about in his own autobiography (By the way -- How many times can the Clinton campaign say "this comment wasn't authorized" or "this was a joke" when these attacks keep coming one after another? Just wondering). I saw a YouTube capture of the segment on Ben Smith's blog over at Politico.com and it's must see TV for political junkies like myself.
Two comments, one was, notice how Penn, defending Clinton was still able to link the words "Obama" and "cocaine" while trying to say the comments were not endorsed by the campaign, which as rightly pointed out by Joe Trippi, was just the Clinton campaign continuing to perpetuate the Obama/drug connection even while they are trying to disclaim that they are doing that. Also, as Chris Matthews pointed out, and as I wrote at the start of December Edwards is the biggest beneficiary of this Obama-Clinton spat. Clinton's the big loser, obviously, because it's another in a series of campaign gaffes and isn't going to endear her to anyone in Iowa or New Hampshire or anywhere else, and Obama will gain, because Clinton will fall and he gets to big the grown up in the dispute, but Edwards gets to be above both, and gets to be the guy not fighting about politics, but fighting for change. It's no accident he talked about fighting corporate greed the entire debate today, and when people get sick of the political attacks of Clinton, and they lump Obama in with that even if he's an unwilling participant, Edwards is going to gain. People counting him out in Iowa shouldn't be.
And one last debate thought, Joe Biden, again, a great performance. More than anyone else, including Obama, Biden has impressed me in these debates. So much so that I'm going to write his name in and vote for him in the Michigan primary. It doesn't mean much since the Democrats have all taken their names off the ballot here in accordance with the wishes of the DNC (except for Hillary of course) so our primary is pretty meaningless, but Biden deserves it. He doesn't want to be VP, and probably wouldn't be a good electoral choice, but I'd make him Secretary of State or Defense or anything he wanted if I were the next President.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Despite increased hopes in the past few days that LSU coach Les Miles was once again Michigan's top candidate for their head coaching job, it's over. Miles released a statement, read on ESPN this afternoon, saying that while he did speak with Michigan Athletic Director Bill Maritn and University President Mary Sue Coleman on Friday, it was only to assist them in their coaching search and not to place himself in that search. He will not be coaching Michigan next year. LSU has now posted the statement in full on its website, and it's about as pretty clear-cut as you can get (which is saying a lot considering how ambiguous Les has been so far).
“I had a conversation with Michigan last week that covered a wide range of topics. I was doing nothing more than helping them with their search for a football coach, just as any loyal alumnus might do. It was nothing more than that.
“I’m not a candidate for that job and I will not be a candidate for the job. I was only assisting them in their search for a coach. I have a great job at a wonderful place, a place that my family calls home. It’s time that Michigan goes on with their search for a football coach. I’ll say it again, I’m going to be the coach at LSU next season.”
So, what now? M-Go-Blog is floating Marvin Lewis as a possibility. Despite his lukewarm success with the Cincinnati Bengals, I like Lewis a lot, and I think he'd be better than any of the other candidates interviewed or talked about so far. The only good news? It appears Cam Cameron is not interested in the job. Well, there's something positive.
Sunday, December 9, 2007
Well, if you can't get the coach of the potential NCAA Champion Louisiana State Tigers, Les Miles, and you can't pry Greg Schiano away from Rutgers and the potential future of Penn State's head coaching gig, and Kirk Ferentz decides to stay at Iowa, why not go to the world of the NFL? Great idea actually. Talk of Sean Payton, a successful, innovative, young offensive mind was a giant step in the right direction. Word of whom the Wolverines may be targeting now? Well, not so much.
According to ProFootballTalk.com, the Wolverines, instead of Les Miles, coach of the potential National Champions in college football, they are focusing on another former assistant coach, but one whose season, well, has not quite gone as well as LSU's. The coach's record? A mere 0-13. Yes, 0-13, and most likely 0-16, the first coach to ever lead his team to such a milestone. That coach? Former Michigan assistant Cam Cameron.
With Saints coach Sean Payton not interested in becoming the next head coach at the University of Michigan, there's talk in league circles that Athletic Director Bill Martin wants to pursue Dolphins coach Cam Cameron, if Cameron is fired.
Per one league insider, Martin believes that Cameron's 0-13 (and counting) performance in his first year as an NFL head coach is an aberration.
Cameron was an assistant coach at Michigan from 1984 through 1993, and he was the head coach at Indiana. The program is looking for an offensive guru to lead the team after the retirement of Lloyd Carr.
Thankfully, the website reports that Cameron would prefer to stay in the NFL and that alumni (like myself -- I will have two degrees from here in less than three weeks time, when do I get some pull?) aren't likely to warm to a candidate who has been an abysimal failure in his first NFL season. He wasn't much better as a head coach at Indiana, his alma matter, where he went 18-37.
Cameron's best work has come as an offensive coordinator and assistant. At Michigan, (1983-1993) he helped develop a ton of top talent, including Jim Harbaugh and Desmond Howard. In the NFL, he found success as offensive coordinator in Washington and most recently in San Diego, where he helped turn Drew Brees and some guy named LaDainian Tomlinson (who had a great profile on 60 minutes tonight -- Seems like a genuinely good guy and guy the NFL should be showcasing for both his on and off field behavior, which are both exemplary) into Pro Bowl players.
While Cameron may be an offensive genius, if he's proven anything over the past two decades, it's that he's not head coach material. He failed at Indiana. He failed at Miami. To be fair, Indiana is hard to win at, and the Dolphins were a disaster well before Cameron arrived on the scene, and injuries to both quarterback Trent Green and running back Ronnie Brown haven't helped. But, I'm just not convinced Cameron has what it takes to be a successful head coach. Rutgers is not an easy place to win either, but Greg Schiano found a way. Brian Kelly, who isn't even a candidate for the Michigan job because apparently he rubbed some people the wrong way at some point (probably by winning at a school, Central Michigan, where current assistant Mike DeBord was a complete failure), won at both Central Michigan and Grand Valley State, not football hotbeds before he came around. Good coaches can win at run-down programs and can win without five-star recruits. Cameron couldn't.
Is Cam Cameron a brilliant coordinator? Absolutely. But can he run an entire program? I'm just not sold. 0-13 takes a special kind of ineptitude, one the Detroit Lions never reached. Is that really who we want taking over Michigan at this crucial moment? Especially somebody who prefers to stay in the NFL, but can't because he's not head coach material, and somebody who likely would jump back to the NFL at the first opportunity? And somebody who failed at their first college head coaching job? Bill Martin needs to think long and hard about that.
...Wow, the more things change, the more they stay the same. I won't even go into the guts of this latest defeat, because I skipped the game despite my season tickets to attend a review session for one of last exams ever as a law student or any other kind of student, and my attempt to DVR the game failed, but seeing what happened today, I think somebody was doing me a favor. Jason Hanson missing a crucial field goal? The defense stopping the Cowboys from scoring on the one-yard line only to see the offense fail to run out the clock and then the defense lets the Cowboys march right down the field. At this point, losing the rest of our games will get us a better draft pick, so 6-10 after a 6-2 start seems, well, likely. I can't see winning at San Diego next week, and certainly not at Green Bay the last week of the season, so at this point, why win the Kansas City game in two weeks?
Amazing too, because 6-10 at the start of the year may have been somewhat acceptable. Not great, but acceptable. Now, it's a disaster. At least we ran the ball today.
What to do for next season? More talent, especially on defense and the offensive line, will help, as will a fully healthy Kevin Jones and Calvin Johnson having more experience in the offense. But, wow, there is a long, long way to go.
As my buddy Atanna told me today, The Detroit Lions, snatching defeat out the jaws of victory since 1957.
Saturday, December 8, 2007
1:00 Update: And just to show you how fast things can change in politics, no sooner than I post this story commenting about the rise of Mike Huckabee did stories come out which may seriously damage his campaign. Drudge has a screaming headline "HUCKABEE WANTED TO ISOLATE AIDS PATIENTS" and a Politico.com has a story about how Huckabee once called homosexuality "sinful" and how he opposed spending additional federal funds on HIV/AIDS research in the 1990s. Writing that "If the federal government is truly serious about doing something with the AIDS virus, we need to take steps that would isolate the carriers of this plague" is not going to endear yourself to voters, even if it is a quote from 15-years-ago. Just goes to show, in politics, you never know where the next story is going to come from. It will be interesting to see how Huckabee responds to these stories. The AP reports that Huckabee now wants to increase HIV/AIDS research funding, but it was common knowledge at the time Huckabee's comments were made that HIV could not be transfered by causal contact, so the isolation line could prove damaging. We're going to see just how strong of a campaign and politician Huckabee is in reacting to this news.
Indirectly, if this story becomes a big national firestorm, which it could, it may be bad news for Barack Obama, who was hoping to have a news-cycle all to himself this weekend for the Oprah Winfrey campaign stops. Something tells me that might get overshadowed a bit should the Huckabee story become front-page news. Now back to your regularly scheduled post, discussing the "rise" of Mike Huckabee, which may (or may not) be a moot point in a few days.
While Oprah Winfrey heads out to Iowa, South Carolina, and New Hampshire to stump for Barack Obama, and Obama starts to take a solid lead in Iowa and even in South Carolina, the story of the 2008 Presidential Campaign so far is the rise of former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee. The man from Hope, Arkansas (sound familiar? It's the hometown of another former Arkansas Governor and two-term President, Bill Clinton) who has little organization and political machinery, and even less money, is lapping the Republican field. A few weeks back, when the Huckabee surge started registering in Iowa polls, most pundits thought it was bad news for Mitt Romey (who, like Obama, really needs to win Iowa to give himself a shot at the nomination) and great news for Rudy Giuliani, who needed to somehow stop Romney's momentum in Iowa and New Hampshire and Michigan, so there would be no front-runner headed into Super Tuesday, where Giuliani could clean up in New York, Florida, and the other big states, even if he had been shut out until that point. Now, it looks like not only will Huckabee storm past Romney in Iowa, he's going to swallow up Giuliani too, and every other Republican candidate.
New polls are just staggering. Newswek, which had Huckabee at 6% just two months ago in Iowa, now has him at 39%, an incredible and mind-boggling 22-points ahead of Romney. 22, that'd worth reading again. Even if that poll shows an exaggerated lead (and most polls don't show nearly that disparity) most show him up 5 points or so. Rasmussen now has Huckabee leading in Michigan (where Romney's father was a popular Governor), and Strategic Vision has him up in South Carolina (the best place to get all these polls, by the way, is Real Clear Politics, an amazing website for political junkies like myself).
Huckbee's surge is easily explainable too (and, no, I don't believe that God has anything to do with it, though that's the explanation Huckabee is going with). Evangelical Christians and other religious and socially conservative voters in the Republican Party have desperately wanted to find their candidate. Romney doesn't fit because if his flip-flops on social issues like abortion, and the fact that he's a former Governor of a very liberal state Massachusetts (and perhaps his Mormon faith has something to do with it as well, even though it shouldn't.) Rudy is disqualified for many of the same reasons, and has personal baggage as well (never good to have newspaper stories come out about how New York Police were providing protection to your mistress, even if she is your now-wife). John McCain alienated a lot of conservatives with his stance on immigration, and Fred Thompson, who was supposed to be the savior, is still half-asleep. That leaves Huckabee, a very socially conservative (though, his stance on taxes has been questioned), religious (he's a former Baptist Minister), very likable, very down-to-earth, guy. And all of those voters, looking for a candidate, have helped Huckabee rise to the front of the pack of the Republicans.
He may not have the money to win, but if he wins in Iowa, he won't need it. He'll get all the free media he needs from the national press, and should he then win South Carolina, and Michigan, the momentum is going to be very hard to stop. And while I don't agree with all of his policies (or many of them I suppose) I think Huckabee's candidacy and rise is great for America. He's showing that despite the tens of millions (or, now, make that hundreds of millions) of dollars spent on political campaigns every cycle, if you have a message that the voters want to hear, and you are politically savvy enough to harness that, you can become President without raising Clinton or Obama-esque money. The nomination isn't always for "sale," the New York Yankees, despite out-spending everyone else 2-1 don't always win, and sometimes, a little can go a long way when the electorate is hungry for a particular breed of candidate.
Can Huckabee win a general election? He'll have more money, but his overly religious tones may turn off middle-of-the-road voters, and despite his likable demeanor, it won't change his questionable record on tax increases, and it won't give him any foreign policy experience. While people question Barack Obama's experience, at least he's been a United States Senator and has served on the Foreign Relations Committee and dealt directly with national security issues. Huckabee has zero foreign policy experience (I'm sorry, negotiating trade deals for Arkansas doesn't count). If Obama wins the nomination, the Republicans won't be able to attack him for his inexperience if Huckabee is their nominee, and that's going to be a big problem. But if Huckabee runs against Clinton, watch-out. There is no starker contrast to the calculating, sometimes-shrill, very polarizing Clinton than the free-wheeling, genial, everyman Huackbee. He may be the perfect antidote to a Clinton candidacy.
Friday, December 7, 2007
The University of Michigan cannot catch a break. First was the Les Miles fiasco, where apparently he was all set to accept the job but nobody could find Athletic Director Bill Martin because he was yachting (I wish I was joking about that, but I'm not) and now the next best candidate, and perhaps the only other candidate mentioned so far which would excite the Michigan fan base, has turned Michigan down. According to the New Jersey Star Ledger, Rutgers coach Greg Schiano accepted the Michigan job Wednesday night, but had a change of heart and is staying at Rutgers.
Greg Schiano told his players in an emotional team meeting this morning that he will stay as head football coach at Rutgers University , according to the parent of a player on the team.
The player's parent, who requested anonymity because of the nature of the meeting, said Schiano told the team he had tentatively accepted the Michigan job, but had a change of heart. The person said Schiano left the room in tears and it remains unclear if Schiano was indeed offered the job.
The Star-Ledger first reported last night Schiano had met with Michigan athletic director Bill Martin "for quite a while" Wednesday in New York City to discuss the Big Ten school's coaching vacancy. Those talks were described by a person who speaks regularly with Schiano and confirmed by a second party.
Schiano would have been a perfect guy for the Michigan job -- Demanding, intense, a defensive guru who not only demands the most out of his players, but gets it, and was successful at Rutgers where he had little talent and little power to recruit. Plus he was young and could have been the coach here for 15, 20 years if he wanted and he was successful.
Where does Michigan go from here, having lost their top two candidates (and their top three if rumors of Kirk Ferentz being near the top of the list but choosing to stay at Iowa are true)? I have no idea. Current defensive coordinator Ron English certainly seems like a stronger bet, but he's never been a head coach, and Michigan's defense has certainly not been the team's strongest link in English's tenure. And Ball State coach Brady Hoke, a former Lloyd Carr assistant keeps being named as a I candidate, but I can't see any way he gets the job.
The Detroit News reports the Wolverines may be interested in New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton. That would be a great hire. He's young, innovative, successful. Would probably be a great recruiter due to his NFL pedigree (he was a Dallas Cowboys assistant before becoming the Saints head coach). I would also, if I were Michigan, contact Bill Cower and Jon Gruden. Michigan needs something out-of-the-box here. Hiring English isn't going to get the job done, and I fear that if English is the choice, we'll be in this same position three or four years from now, after a few 8-4 seasons leave us looking for a new head coach, again.
2:30 Update: As my buddy Seth points out in the comments, it now appears Schiano may have never accepted the Michigan job formally, but considered it strongly before at the last possible moment deciding to stay at Rutgers. I'll keep the above blockquote because that part of the New Jersey story is now gone, and it has been replaced with this:
Schianio never committed to going, the person said. The coach stayed up until about 1:30 this morning watching ESPN and went to bed not knowing what he was going to do.
Schiano had already told his players to assemble at the Hale Center on campus for a 7 a.m. meeting, even though he had yet to make up his mind. When he arrived, he told the players he "still had work to do" at Rutgers. Schiano said "this was a hard decision," according to a member of the football staff who attended the meeting.
The member of the football staff requested anonymity because of the private nature of the team meeting, but said Schiano looked "tired, beaten up and physically exhausted." He said the Michigan job was Schiano's if he wanted it, but the job was never officially offered.
Either way, not good for Michigan, as we are back to the drawing board.
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
Wow. As I'm sure many of you already know by now, The Detroit Tigers stunned the baseball world Tuesday by trading for both Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis, and trading away their two top prospects (Andrew Miller and Cameron Maybin, widely considered two of the top prospects in all of baseball) along with catcher Mike Rabelo and minor league pitchers Burke Badenhop, Eulogio de la Cruz and Dallas Trahern. It's a trade which changes the Tigers present, and their future, and one that instantly makes them the favorites in the American League Central and perhaps in all of baseball to win the World Series.
I will miss watching Cameron Maybin "grow up" in Detroit and blossom into the top major league player I believe he will become, but the trade was a no-brainer for the Tigers. Miguel Cabrera, at this point in his career, has put up numbers virtually identical to those of Alex Rodriguez at the same point in his career. In four full major league seasons, he has never hit lower than .294 (years of .294, .323, .339, and .320), never had fewer than 112 RBI (112, 116, 114, 119) and never hit less than 26 home runs (33, 33, 26, 34). And he's only 24. 24. Which means he hasn't even entered the prime of his career yet. He's only going to get better, especially when he is protected in what will be the best lineup in all of baseball. And Willis? While he struggled last season (10-15, 5.17 ERA) he was beaten down by the Marlins losing seasons, and the poor play behind him. Just two years ago, he won 22 games (22-10, 2.63 ERA) and with the Tigers offense and defense behind him, in pitcher-friendly Comerica Park, he could become dominant again. Plus, he's only 25, so he, like Cabrera, is just entering the prime of his career. And in Detroit, unlike Florida, who won't have the pressure of being the #1 and only guy in the rotation. With Jeremy Bonderman, Justin Verlander, and Kenny Rogers (not to mention Nate Robertson) Willis can just go out and pitch.
While the Tigers did give up a lot, because they were not only getting back All Star players in return, but All Stars in the mid-20's who, should they sign long term contracts, can be cornerstones of the Tigers for at least the next decade, parting with Miller, Maybin, and the rest was a no-brainer. Even with all the upside Cameron Maybin has, at the end of the day, him having a better start to his career, or a better career at all than Miguel Cabrera is going to be very, very tough. And if he does the trade still isn't a mistake because it gives Detroit the best chance of any team to win a World Series in the next two seasons. Detroit Tigers owner Mike Ilitch, who didn't blink an eye today when he increased his payroll by almost $20 million, and he deserves a lot of credit for allowing Dave Dombrowski to do practically anything it takes to get the Tigers a World Series ring. Last season, the Tigers fans showed Ilitch they would show up in record numbers if he put a winning product on the field, and ticket sales should be even brisker this season which should help the Tigers defer what may be a $200 million payday for Cabrera in 2009.
As for Brandon Inge, if the Tigers do trade him, and Cabrera plays third base as anticipated, I would miss him, despite his horrendous plate appearances. Brandon suffered through the losing seasons, the 100-loss seasons, and seeing him redeem himself with a trip to the World Series was gratifying. And he has turned into one of the best defensive third baseman in baseball. The Tigers should be able to get a decent return for him, and shed some of his $6.5 million salary at the same time, so it's logical for him to go, but I would really think seriously if I were the Tigers about keeping Inge the everyday third baseman and moving Cabrera to left-field. Inge is a Gold Glove talent, and with the batting lineup stacked, they can afford his .250 average at #9. Cabrera has played left-field before and he's no defensive wiz in the infield -- He committed the most errors of any NL third baseman last season. It's not likely, but something to think about.
My last reflection is to think of all the prospects the Tigers have traded away the past two seasons in an effort to get back to the World Series. Humberto Sanchez, Anthony Clagett, and Kevin Whalen for Gary Sheffield. Jair Jurrjens and Gorkys Hernandez for Edgar Reteria. Now Maybin, Miller, Rabelo, De La Cruz, Badenhop, and Trahern to Florida. That's 11 prospects, many top of the line. And yet, the Tigers still have plenty of talent. Pitcher Rick Porcello is compared to Josh Beckett, and with position players, the Tigers have a number of interesting prospects (Danny Worth and Scott Sizemore among them). Just shows you what an amazing job of amassing talent Dave Dombrowski has done.
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
The Detroit Tigers have completed the Major League Baseball trade of the year, and perhaps of the decade, trading two of the best prospects in all of baseball, Cameron Maybin and Andrew Miller, and four other players (Catcher Mike Rabelo and three other prospects) to the Florida Marlins for Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis. I wrote earlier in the afternoon about how I thought this a great trade for Detroit and I'll write more later tonight about just why that is, but for now, here's ESPN.com's Steve Phillips concurring that this is a great trade for the Tigers.
ESPN's Tim Kurkjian was interviewed on ESPNews and he said that while the Marlins may be happiest in the long term because of the overwhelming potential of Miller and Maybin, he believes the Tigers will be thrilled in the short-term, as Cabrera makes the Tigers lineup the best in the American League and Willis should re-find his 2003 form in spacious Comerica Park.
Filtering over one of my MLive.com Cutoff Man blog entries FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal is reporting the Detroit Tigers and Florida Marlins are working on a potential blockbuster trade which would net the Tigers 24-year-old stud third baseman Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis in exchange for a package of prospects which likely includes the top two prospects in the Tigers organization, Andrew Miller and Cameron Maybin.
The Marlins, stalled in their attempts to trade third baseman Miguel Cabrera, could be laying the groundwork for an even bigger deal.
The Marlins and Tigers are engaged in preliminary talks about a blockbuster that would send Cabrera and left-hander Dontrelle Willis to Detroit for a package of young players, according to major-league sources.
Outfielder Cameron Maybin and left-hander Andrew Miller likely are among the Marlins' targets. The Tigers already feature two veteran left-handed starters, Kenny Rogers and Nate Robertson, possibly making Miller available in a deal for Willis.
Some quick thoughts, even though the Tigers would likely have to give up more than just Miller and Maybin, I'd make the trade is a heartbeat. Yes, Miller has the potential to be a phenomenal pitcher at the major league level, and Cameron Maybin has all the talent in the world (and if he's not a consistent All Star in five, six years, then every single Major League scout that has ever seen him play would have to be wrong) but you'd be trading for two sure-things in exchange for two maybes (even if those maybes have a very very high likelihood of turning into top big league players). Cabrera is only 24-years-old, hit .320 last year with 34 home runs and 119 RBI on a poor Marlins team, and would be a cornerstone at third base for the next decade. Willis, while struggling since his 22-10 season of 2005, is still only 25, and with a team like the Tigers, and a park like Comerica, he could be an elite pitcher. With Bonderman, Verlander, and Willis, and young Rick Porcello to join in a few years, that's the making of an incredible pitching staff.
And most importantly, Willis and Cabrera would be parts of the Tigers future for the next decade (I can't emphasize that enough -- You are trading young players, but you are getting young players in return) and they make it much, much more likely you can win a World Series right now.
Monday, December 3, 2007
Lots of political news today, and at the risk of pointing out every anti-Hillary, pro-Barack Obama story out there (which I don't want to do and don't want this blog to become -- There are Detroit Lions players and coaches to criticize too) I found this really interesting. Robert Reich, who has been a longtime friend of the Clinton family, and was Labor Secretary in Bill Clinton's administration, posted a strong rebuke of Clinton's campaign on his blog today, taking her to task for getting personal with Obama, and questioning her policy choices, concluding Obama's are better solutions.
I just don’t get it. If there’s anyone in the race whose history shows unique courage and character, it's Barack Obama. HRC’s campaign, by contrast, is singularly lacking in conviction about anything. Her pollster, Mark Penn, has advised her to take no bold positions and continuously seek the political center, which is exactly what she’s been doing.
All is fair in love, war, and politics. But this series of slurs doesn't serve HRC well. It will turn off voters in Iowa, as in the rest of the country. If she's worried her polls are dropping, this is not the way to build them back up.
While Clinton questions Barack Obama's character for claiming his health insurance plan really is universal when she claims it isn't, Reich concludes that
HRC doesn’t indicate how she’d enforce her mandate, and I can’t find enough money in HRC’s plan to help all those who won’t be able to afford to buy it. I’m also impressed by the up-front investments in information technology in O’s plan, and the reinsurance mechanism for coping with the costs of catastrophic illness. HRC is far less specific on both counts. In short: They’re both advances, but O’s is the better of the two.
The story is interesting because of Reich's connections to the Clintons, so what he says should have some force and some power to it, because this not an Obama surrogate touting his plans, but a neutral observer, and if anything, an observer more inclined to take a pro-Clinton point of view than anything. Very interesting.
As I wrote about yesterday, Hillary Clinton has stepped her negative attacks on Barack Obama and the other Democratic candidates and now the Obama campaign is using Hillary's own words against her. His campaign launched a Hillary Attacks website, categorizing not just her latest attacks on Obama and others, but profiling her previous pledges not to go negative.
For example, the site, in big letters, top of the fold, has this quote from Clinton:
"I'm not interested in attacking my opponents, I'm interested in tackling the problems of America."
It also features the video from the Jefferson-Jackson dinner where the the quote took place from. It also says it has been 22 days since Clinton pledged not to attack fellow Democrats, and 18 days since she broke this promise. It also features a timeline of Clinton's attacks, and features the latest attacks and a link to Barack's "fact check" of Clinton's claims.
It's a smart way to show the hypocrisy of the Clinton campaign, and rally support, bt I'm not sure how much real effect the website will have, unless the national media picks up the site and runs with it. It's really going to be in his speeches and events where he's going to have to hammer Clinton on calling going on the attack "fun" where he's likely to pick up the most ground.
In fact, the last thing Obama really wants to do is get into a big, personal fight with Clinton. He has to attack her comments without attacking her. Iowa voters punished Dick Gephardt and Howard Dean for such tactics in 2004, and with John Edwards, who was strongly negative a few weeks ago, and strangely silent and more reserved since, still very much involved in the race, if voters get frustrated with both Clinton and Obama, John Edwards will benefit, just as he did in 2004. Which likely explains why Edwards has been more circumspect in recent weeks. He can see Clinton going negative, Obama being forced to respond, and if Edwards ends up being the one "above the fray" he'll rise, just as he did in 2004. That's a big fear for Obama, but right now, his new Clinton Attack website is a start toward further showing the calculating, political, partisan nature of Clinton's campaign.
A few weeks ago, at the Jefferson Jackson Dinner in Iowa, Hillary Clinton unveiled a new campaign slogan, "Turn Up the Heat." But, that night in Iowa, it was Barack Obama who stole the show, with a universally praised speech which has helped propel him to the lead Iowa according to the latest Des Moines Register poll (he also leads in the latest American Research Group Poll and in the latest ABC/Washington Post Poll.) In New Hampshire, where Clinton has been ahead by double digits over Obama for seemingly months, Real Clear Politics shows the latest New Hampshire polls have Obama's momentum spreading north with Obama trailing in the two newest polls by only seven points (halving Hillary's earlier leads). With Obama's momentum continuing to gain traction, and Clinton seeing her inevitable run to the White House vanishing before her eyes, she no longer is "Turning Up The Heat" on Republicans, but instead is feeling the heat herself. And as Barack Obama has been preaching his entire campaign, Hillary is reverting back to the calculating, textbook, old-school politician that she is and she's going on the attack against Obama. And there's a reason why it's called a "textbook campaign," because, it works and has been proven successful in the past. But will it work now for Hillary Clinton? If her attacks this weekend are any indication, likely not.
Just a few weeks ago, at the last Democratic debate, Hillary Clinton decried the attacks of Barack Obama and John Edwards, and said she had hoped that her Democratic colleagues would not start "slinging mud from the Republican playbook." But, after that debate failed to stop her backwards slide from the disastrous MSNBC debate, and with Obama's momentum continuing to grow, Clinton now says she enjoys getting down in the mud.
Clinton said at a Cedar Rapids stop designed to encourage first-time caucusgoers to attend and vote for her, that she would spend the next month drawing more contrasts between her and her Democratic rivals.
“I have said for months that I would much rather be attacking Republicans and attacking the problems of our country, because ultimately, that’s what I want to do as president, but I have been for months on the receiving act of consistent attacks,” she said. “Now the fun part starts.”
Fun? Attacking fellow Democrats is fun? I thought the fun part was solving America's problems and providing health care for the uninsured. I thought that Clinton was above these partisan attacks, not having fun participating in them. Barack Obama, as he rightfully should, responded quickly and effectively in a quote posted on Politico.com:
This presidential campaign isn't about attacking people for fun, it's about solving people's problems, like ending this war and creating a universal health care system. Washington insiders might think throwing mud is fun, but the American people are looking for leadership that can unite this country around a common purpose, and that's what I'll continue to offer in this campaign.
Obama needs to hammer Clinton on that quote. It was a huge mistake by Clinton, but it'll only stay that way if Obama can capitalize on this opening. By saying attacking Demcrats is fun, it confirms every worst fear that people who are on the fence about Hillary have. She's partisan, she's divisive, she's looking for a fight. Barack Obama, on the other hand, is looking for a solution. He has to make that distinction (fight vs. solution) a focal point in the next 24-48 hours. Especially given that Clinton is not just attacking Obama's policies, but is admittedly questioning his character.
It’s beginning to look a lot like that [that Obama has a character problem] — it really is, where we can’t get a straight answer on health care, where somebody runs on ethics and not taking money from certain people is found to have at least skirted if not violated FEC rules and to use lobbyists and PAC money to do so.
The FEC Rules bit is something the Hillary campaign is spending a lot of time on this weekend, and with Obama's "new direction, new kind of politician" campaign, he's set himself to have a higher standard to meet. I don't know if what Obama is doing with his PAC was illegal (it seems perfectly innocent to me -- He's trying to get Democrats elected across the country and has donated money to lots of candidates that have not and will not endorsed him, and one report I read said $4000 was even donated to the Clinton campaign) but that story, along with David Yepsen's peice in the Des Moines Register, criticizing Obama for encouraging out-of-state college students who go to school in Iowa to return for the Iowa Caucuses, it could be a bit of a rough start to the week for Barack. In both cases, his behavior is perfectly legal, and what any other smart politician would likely do, but when you are campaigning as the anti-politician, the stories blur the distinction between old-school and new-school Obama is trying to draw.
Which is why changing the story to Hillary's glee in starting a mud fight is perfect and it's really incredible that Clinton has provided this opening. But, it may not be too surprising. The Clintons read polling better than anybody else, and they know what it takes to win. And they can read Obama's rise just as everyone else can, and they know they have to stunt his momentum, and the only way to do that, is to do what they do best, go negative. Will Iowa and New Hampshire voters buy what the Clinton's are selling? Or will they see through it and continue to abandon Clinton to join Obama's campaign? A lot will depend on how Obama reacts to Clinton's body-shots, and how he can use those shots to his advantage, to show Iowa and New Hampshire voters that a vote for Clinton is a vote for another four years of negativity, gridlock, and partianship. After all, as Clinton herself has said, that's what she finds "fun."
Sunday, December 2, 2007
Actually, that's not true. After all, when you fall behind 42-10 early in the third quarter, you have some things you want to say. Just they aren't worthy of publication and will make me look bad when day when I run for office and I need the financial backing of William Clay Ford Jr. Some quick thoughts because the Lions aren't worthy of longer thoughts.
** The Minnesota Vikings have no class. Now, usually, I've always been of the opinion that running up the score in college is unacceptable, because even those are athletes, they are still kids. Professionally, teams can score all they want. But, when I say that, I mean, keep running your offense, throwing late in the game up big, no problem. Running fake field goals in the 4th quarter when you are up 42-10? Running halfback passes when you are up 42-10? Give me a break. There's no reason for that. I lost a lot of respect for Brad Childress today.
** Adrian Peterson is a monster. Yes, the Lions defense is abysmal and missed more tackles than I can count, but Peterson, coming back off a knee injury which sidelined him the past two games, is really a sight to watch. Power, vision, speed. There's a reason why everyone was so high on him coming out of Oklahoma. And Chester Taylor is a heckuva player too. As my dad said as we were commiserating on the phone, when you look at both of those guys and compare them to Kevin Jones, the Lions running back, it's not even a contest. Makes Jones look like a high school back. And we think Jones is pretty good. Maybe he's not. In any case, Peterson, and Taylor, are an incredible backfield.
** Roy Williams getting hurt may prevent the Lions from winning any more games this season if he is out for any length of time. I'd say it's not good, and it isn't, but since the Lions pretty much have lost all hope for the playoffs, having Williams injured isn't as bad as it could be. So we started 6-2 and are likely to finish no better than 8-8, and I'm looking at 7-9 as the likely final record. While we would have taken 7-9 at the start of the season, after starting 6-2, and not having a lot of catastrophic injuries, that's absolutely unacceptable.
** Nice to see Jeff Backus get burned again, a few times, including a nice play where he whiffed on a block leading to Kitna's fumble/interception. And Calvin Johnson? Did he get snowed in back in Detroit? Didn't get a look in the first half at all, and in the second, even with Roy out, wasn't much there. I know he dropped some passes last week, but still. And I knew when I saw fullback Jon Bradley was undressed the Lions had no interest in running the ball. And they didn't. 2 runs in the first half and then the game was over anyway.
** It's over. The 2007 season is over. And it likely ended in the first quarter, Lions had the Vikings backed up 3rd and 14 from their own 10, and the Vikings were content to run the ball and punt, but the Lions defense folded, Chester Taylor gained 15 yards on a draw play, and the Vikings drove 80+ yards for the score. It was over then. Mike Furrey almost pulling a Plaxico Burress at the end of the game, and giving up the ball despite potentially not being touched, that was just gravy.
Saturday, December 1, 2007
That was an unbelievable day in college football, both on and off the field, and it's still going on as I write this (Hawaii is playing what could be a very important game against Washington -- But we'll get to that in a moment). But before we get to the mess that is the BCS, let's do some clean-up on the Les Miles fiasco.
As I wrote, and wrote, and wrote some more about earlier in the day, we went from Les Miles coming to Michigan, to Les Miles returning to LSU, to a press conference which led to more questions and more ambiguities, to finally, what we think is absolute, definitive words that Miles is not coming to Michigan.
"For a coach to be an issue, on a day like this? It's not forgivable. That's why I had to take the podium and tell the truth. I promise you, it's not a press conference I wanted to have. I wanted the game to be the focus, not the coach. I was embarrassed. I was embarrassed that my name was on ESPN. I was embarrassed for my team."
Miles said he was saddened for Michigan and his team, but made it clear that he will sign an extension with LSU and is no longer a candidate to succeed Lloyd Carr in any way, shape or form.
"There's no wiggle room," Miles said. "I just want you to know. It's very difficult for me to take another job if I'm not talking to anybody, and I said that. I'm very fortunate to represent LSU. It's a great place. My family is happy. ... We have great support. It's a special place. I'm glad to be home."
Kudos, BTW, to Jim Carty for his excellent reporting all day on the Miles story and being the first to report Miles was staying at LSU, which could not have been easy considering ESPN was reporting he was already delivered to Michigan. So why turn down your dream job? That's an interesting question. Maybe it came down to money. LSU is set to make Miles one of the top paid coaches in the country, which I read to mean somewhere around $4.0 million (Nick Saban is the highest paid coach at $4 million per year). I don't know what Michigan would have offered him, but probably not more than $3 million (Lloyd Carr was only making $1.5 million per season). And maybe it was simply a timing issue, which made it hard for Miles to leave LSU. It had to be hard for Miles though, knowing he more than likely will never get another opportunity to coach his alma matter.
The question now is, what does Michigan do. Angelique Chengelis, of the Detroit News, had a list of potential candidates:
Meanwhile, sources close to the Michigan search said Martin will continue to look at candidates that include Rutgers coach Greg Schiano, Missouri coach Gary Pinkel, Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe, N.C. State Tom O'Brien and Cal coach Jeff Tedford.
Outside of Schiano, who would be a very intriguing candidate and probably the best candidate at this point, that list of names is not awe-inspiring. Tedford is a quarterback guru, but he just finished a .500 season at Cal. Pinkel, Grobe, and O'Brien won't excite anyone in Ann Arbor, and none are more than mediocre candidates (Pinkel may have turned Missouri around this year, but he's been a 4, 5 loss coach each year until now). And word has it Brian Kelly, successful at Grand Valley State and Central Michigan (as well as Cincinnati this year) is not a serious candidate. There just are not very many blow-away candidates out there. Miles was it. Now, unless Michigan can get Schiano, it's going to be a sad, disappointing search for the Wolverines. Eerily similar to the difficulties Notre Dame had finding a head coach a few years back before Charlie Weis came to the rescue. I don't envy Bill Martin.
The only thing stranger than the Les Miles situation is the BCS mess. This college football season has seen more upsets and top teams falling and Saturday was no different. After the #1 (LSU) and #2 (Kansas) teams in the country lost last weekend, the same happened this week, as Oklahoma destroyed #1 Missouri in the Big 12 Title Game and #2 West Virginia, despite being a 28-point favorite, lost to Pittsburgh, at home (just an incredible loss with a BCS National Title birth hanging in the balance). So the question now becomes, what on earth to do with the National Title Game, with so many one and two loss teams (not to mention undefeated Hawaii, or, at least they were undefeated when this post went live -- After a day like today, who knows what may happen against Washington -- 12:00 Update: And, of course, on cue, Hawaii falls behind 14-0 to Washington in the first quarter. Go figure.)
It's all but a given that now Ohio State becomes one of the two teams in the National Title Game (talk about a bad day for Michigan -- They lose Les Miles, their basketball team is upset by Harvard, who just happens to be coached by the man they fired, Tommy Amaker, and arch-rival Ohio State makes it into the National Title Game) but the team they are going to face is anybody's guess. Georgia is the #4 ranked team in the country going into this weekend, so keeping that constant, they would move to #2, but can you really put them in the National Title Game after failing to even make it to the SEC Championship Game, especially when SEC Champion LSU just defeated Tennessee, which beat Georgia 35-17 earlier in the season? Then you have one-loss Kansas, but again, they failed to make it to their conference championship game, and were beat by Missouri, which again, got blown out by Oklahoma tonight. Virginia Tech won the ACC today, but they lost 48-7 to LSU during the second week of the season. If they make the National Title Game over LSU, then there's something seriously wrong. And of course, Hawaii is still the only undefeated team in college football (12:00 Update: See above, Hawaii falls behind 14-0 against Washington early on.)
I think at this point, I would say Ohio State should play either LSU or Oklahoma, and flip a coin on who deserves it between the two of them. I'm happy I don't have to make that choice, and you can bet, no matter what happens, there are going to be a lot of unhappy people, as the BCS will, once again, fail in its mission to eliminate the exact controversy it was desigined to avoid.
What a day, a full, very full day, in college football. Good thing there's a break before the Bowl Games start. After a day like today, we need it.
Les Miles just held a very short press conference, just hours before LSU takes on Tennessee in the LSU title game, and he said, well, nothing. He didn't announce that he had signed a contract extension at LSU and he didn't announce he was leaving for Michigan. He did sound very angry that word had leaked earlier in the day that he was leaving, and he did say he was LSU's head coach and that he had no interest in leaving, and that he would answer questions later. It was, odd to say the least. If he does indeed have an agreement on a contract extension with LSU, why not announce it? Here's the video of the short and curt press conference from an obviously perturbed Les Miles. (I originally captured and posted the video of the press conference, but after reading Sean's post over at Michigan Sports Center and seeing ESPN has their own embed-able video, which is of much higher quality than my capture, we'll use that instead.)
The conspiracy theorist within me thinks this: The only reason why Miles would not announce that he had agreed to a contract extension, is because he hasn't. That word leaked earlier today that he was leaving, he and LSU's athletic department knew that such word leaking out would be a huge distraction to LSU's team going in to today's SEC Title Game, and thus, they decided to leak word he was staying, hold his pseudo press-conference in hopes of reassuring the LSU team and getting them ready to play this afternoon's game, and still leave Miles free to leave sometime later this week. I think that's highly unlikely a scenario, but, I have no other explanation for why Miles wouldn't just kill all speculation and announce he signed a contract extension if he has indeed signed (or even simply agreed to one).
Very very strange day and it keeps getting stranger as at 10:15 I was posting about ESPN.com's report that Miles was headed to Michigan then taking that back at 12:30 when I wrote about Jim Carty's report he was staying at LSU. Stay tuned, this thing may not be over yet.
Just hours after ESPN reported that Les Miles would become the next head coach of the Michigan Wolverines, MLive.com and the Ann Arbor News are reporting that Miles will instead sign a multi-year contract extension with LSU.
Sources close to both Les Miles and the LSU administration report the coach has reached a multi-year contract extension with his current school and will remove himself from consideration as the next Michigan coach.
Details of the extension are expected to be released by LSU shortly.
LSU will reportedly make Miles one of the highest-paid coaches in the country.
If true, and Jim Carty, the reporter who broke the story, is usually dead-on with his reporting, it's a big blow to Michigan. Instead of hiring Miles, one of the best coaches in the country, and a Michigan-man to boot, and bringing along one of the best defensive coordinators in the game according to some (in Georgia Tech's Jon Tenuta) Michigan will have to go back to the drawing board. Potential names you are likely to hear are Iowa's Kirk Ferentz again, Cincinnati's Brian Kelly, and Rutgers coach Greg Schiano.
Update: The story does indeed appear true. Both the Detroit News and the New Orleans Times Picayune confirm that Miles is staying at LSU, and that there will be a press conference to that effect at 1:50 EST, two hours before LSU takes on Tennessee in the SEC Title Game.
ESPN is reporting, though announcer Kirk Herbstreit, that the University of Michigan will announce early next week that former player, assistant, and current LSU boss Les Miles will be the next coach of the Michigan Wolverine football team.
Sources have told ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit that barring any unforeseen circumstances, Michigan will announce early next week it has reached an agreement with LSU coach Les Miles to be its next head football coach.
Herbstreit is also reporting that Miles will make Georgia Tech defensive coordinator and interim head coach Jon Tenuta part of his staff at Michigan.
While the ESPN report seems solid, I'm siding with M-Go-Blog on this one, which is which reported yesterday that while Miles is indeed the front-runner, and in all likelihood will get the job, it's not as done of a deal as people believe (and the Detroit Free Press essentially reported the same thing this morning that while the job may be "Miles' to lose" it's not a sure thing, yet). I don't want to get my hopes up too prematurely.
The news about Jon Tenuta is new, and while I'll be honest, I didn't know much about him before this morning, I like what I've found out. Herbstreit called him one of the best defensive coordinators in the country, and he knows Ohio State backwards and forwards (he's from Columbus and coached defensive backs for the Buckeyes according to M-Go-Blog. Tenuta could be the first new hire in a new direction and new chapter in Michigan football, one far removed from the Lloyd Carr era, and one which, fortune or failure, you have to give Bill Martin and company credit for going with.
In many ways, Miles is not the "safe" choice, in so far as despite his impressive pedigree and ties to the Michigan program, he is in many ways the "anti-Lloyd Carr" and he doesn't have Carr's support for the job. The safe thing for Michigan to do would be to continue to hire coaches like Lloyd (which is why Iowa's Kirk Ferentz was mentioned so much in the early going -- He's a younger Lloyd Carr) and decide that Miles was too expensive, too much of a wild card, to fit with Michigan. Instead, it looks like Bill Martin and company are taking the plunge with one of the best coaches in college football and somebody who has admittedly coveted the Michigan job for decades. It's the right move, and it's the move Michigan needs to make in order to return their program to elite status. Let's just hope, for Michigan's sake, there are no hiccups in the next week, and Miles, Tenuta, and the rest of what already appears to be an incredible coaching staff, are coming to Ann Arbor.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
I have to say, watching the CNN YouTube Republican Debate, they are a much more entertaining group, in terms of going after one another, than the Democrats are. Hillary and Barack Obama have been going head-to-head lately (and, wow, has John Edwards become irrelevant and invisible the past two weeks -- Everything is focused on Obama and Clinton, and that's good news for the Obama campaign) and added a bit of a spark to the Democratic campaign, but the way that Rudy and Mitt Romney went after each other early in the debate, and how Fred Thompson and Mike Huckabee joined in, it's intense there. Even John McCain and Ron Paul are going after each other on interventionism v. non-isolationism.
Like their last debate, CNN is allowing the crowd to be a "12th Man" and it's incredibly distracting, not just to the candidates, but the television audience. When Rudy starts talking about gun control, I want to hear his answer, not hear the crowd booing him before he's even able to get an answer out. Same with Ron Paul being booed on Iraq. And these "campaign videos" just as they were for democrats, are worthless. Mitt Romney aired a campaign ad. Fred Thompson spent his video attacking Romney and Huckabee. Rudy's was pretty good, and funny. More people need to take these videos in the light-hearted nature Rudy did. I'm waiting for Mike Huckabee's, I wonder if it will feature his endorsers Chuck Norris and professional wrestler Ric Flair.
I'm not a Republican expert, so I don't have much real "analysis" so far, other than Fred Thompson looks tired to me, and I haven't been overly impressed with Rudy tonight. Though I don't really like the way Mitt Romney has been answering questions either, he just seems too smug and too "I know more than you." Huckabee's been good, but he's a likable guy so I'd expect him to do well (though as Chris Matthews was talking about on Hardball tonight, his stance on guns, and the need for all citizens to have them in order to protect themselves against the government is nutty, but that's a separate issue). And John McCain's been solid and he said "life is not like 24 and Jack Bauer" when discussing torture, so bonus points for talking about Jack's torture techniques and history.
Monday, November 26, 2007
It may have been a slow holiday weekend in some contexts, but with the NFL playoff chase heating up and the Michigan coaching search perhaps reaching a surprising (and for many Michigan fans, if the reports are true, disappointing end). So let's get to it.
** Scoreboard Watching for the Wild Card ** With the Detroit Lions continuing to blow games all that's left is hoping the Lions hang on to their Wild Card lead. And as that goes, every team the Lions needed to lose Sunday, did. Arizona was upset by San Francisco, Washington lost to Tampa Bay despite knocking Jeff Garcia out of action early on, and Philadelphia lost to New England (though they made that scary late). Those losses are important because each of those teams (the Cardinals, Redskins, and Eagles) have beaten the Lions, so to make the playoffs, the Lions must finish with a better record than each of those teams. And as of today, they do. But just barely. Next week's game against Minnesota, who now is only a game back of the Lions, is a must-win game should the Lions want to salvage their season. They cannot afford to lose that game and slip into a four-game slide. What's most maddening is that despite the three game losing streak, the Lions continue to hold a slim lead for the Wild Card, which means if they would have been able to win one or two of these games, they would be in prime position to make the playoffs. Now? They have to hold on for dear life and they've showed no evidence they'll be able to maintain their grip.
** Michigan going after Ferentz, not Miles? ** While LSU's loss to Arkansas on Saturday knocked the Tigers out of the National Championship hunt, and thus makes it more likely that if Michigan wanted to hire former player, assistant, and renowned Michigan-man Les Miles, they could likely do so before LSU's Bowl Game, M-Go-Blog which first reported Lloyd Carr's retirement is now reporting sources are saying Iowa's Kirk Ferentz has been offered, and may indeed accept, the Michigan job. That groan you are hearing is coming from Ann Arbor, where Michigan fans are desperate for Les Miles or failing him an NFL coach like Jon Gruden and failing him a name like Cincinnati's Brian Kelley. And while Ferentz would be better than any of Michigan's current crop of assistants (like Lloyd Carr disciple Mike DeBord), Ferentz will not thrill anyone in Ann Arbor. While his name makes sense (he's familiar with the Big Ten, Midwest recruiting, and Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman, who also came to Michigan from Iowa) he's a vanilla candidate, who may be another .500 season away from being fired from his home school, Iowa. While his Iowa teams won the Big Ten in 2002 (11-2) and 2004 (10-2) his last three seasons are 6-6, 6-7, and 6-6. His Big Ten records those seasons? 5-3, 2-6, 4-4. Underwhelming to say the least. Plus, he's making almost three million dollars a year at Iowa, so he wouldn't even be cheaper than Miles most likely. If he's the choice, and I'll have more to say if he is, it certainly won't make Ann Arbor happy, that's for sure.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
The Green Bay Packers score touchdowns. The Detroit Lions score field goals. The Green Bay Packers make tackles. The Detroit Lions do not. And that's why the Packers are 10-1, on their way to an NFC North championship and a first round bye in the 2007 NFL Playoffs and the Detroit Lions are 6-5, in a tailspin of a three-game losing streak and are likely to miss the playoffs, again, after starting off the season 6-2. It was another lost Thanksgiving for the Lions, who have not won on Turkey Day since 2003, and likely another lost season, with games at Minnesota, 9-1 Dallas, and at San Diego on the agenda.
This game, like the Arizona game, started off so promising too. The Lions drove right down the field to start the game, and appeared to have a first and goal on the one-yard line. A chop block on center Dominic Raiola, though, set the Lions back, and they were forced to settle for a field goal. The first Packers play from scrimmage was a Brett Favre fumble, and the Lions recovered, deep in Packers territory, with a chance to take a 10-0 lead and put some distance between them and the dangerous Packer passing attack. The Lions offense, though, went three-and-out (a common theme) and were held to a field goal. The Lions defense then forced Favre and the Packers to punt again, and the Lions moved the ball. But then they hit a brick wall and were forced to punt from the Packers 38-yard-line. And that was it. The Lions dominated the first quarter, holding the ball for over 12 minutes, putting up over 100 yards of total offense, and forcing a Green Bay turnover. But all they had to show for it was six points, and that haunted them the rest of the afternoon.
The Packers intercepted a Kitna pass to start the second quarter, the Packers scored one play after that, and before the Lions could turn around, it was 14-6. And even after a great kickoff return (the first of the season really), the Lions again we held three plays and out, and it was another Hanson field goal instead of a touchdown. Brett Favre then went to work, picking apart the Lions defense, as he did, all game long, and by the time the Lions scored two late fourth quarter touchdowns, it was already over.
The Lions did fix some things from their previous two losses. They ran the ball well, Kevin Jones had 93 yards and the team had over 130. And Calvin Johnson was actively involved in the offense, and was targeted all game long. Unfortunately for the Lions, he dropped a number of catchable passes in the first half (odd for Johnson who has proved himself sure-handed this season) and while he had some nice catches late, again, it was already over by that point. The Lions seemed to move the ball at will when they were in their own territory, but as soon as they crossed the 50-yard-line, they fell apart. Penalties, dropped passes, sacks. They would seemingly be in a rhythm, but then they would cross mid-field and the drive would stall. The defense wasn't much better, as they could not get pressure on Brett Favre, and despite the Packers all but abandoning the running game, wide receivers were open all over the field, and Favre, who may have the best field vision of any quarterback to ever play, found them every single time.
Is the season over for the 6-5 Lions? Probably not. While Philadelphia, Washington, and Arizona are only half a game back of the Wildcard lead (and all have the tie-breaker over the Lions, so the Lions must end the season with a better record than each of them, unless Arizona wins the NFC West), the Eagles must play the Patriots, and the Reskins must travel to Tampa Bay. The Cardinals will likely have an easy time with the 49ers, so Lions fans have to hope Seattle stumbles at St. Louis. But most importantly, the Lions have to start winning and the last three weeks, the Lions have shown no evidence they'll be able to do that again anytime soon.