Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Michigan Football Roundtable: Lil' Wayne Edition


What does Lil' Wayne have to do with Michigan football? Nothing. However, the four proprietors of this blog all share a common love for Weezy, and therefore decided to describe our thoughts about the upcoming season using his lyrics. So throw on Tha Carter III (or II, or I), sit back, and see if any of this makes any sense at all.

"Yes, I know the process has so much stress
But its the progress that feels the best
Cause i came from the projects straight to success
And your next, so try... they cant steal your pride its inside
Then find it and keep on grinding
Cause in every dark cloud there’s a silver lining"
-Tie My Hands (ft. Robin Thicke)

It seems right to break this down by individual verse, since it matches up so aptly with what Michigan is going through right now. Also, the “you” refers to RichRod.

“Yes, I know the process has so much stress”—The process of rebuilding a team from the ground up is indeed stressful, especially with the expectations placed upon you at U of M. All the uncertainty can cause a lot of stress.

“But it’s the progress that feels the best”—However, which each practice, and each win, your pride grows because you know that you made this team what it is and the progress they make is progress you inspired with hard work and passion and dedication. It feels good to see something you build make even the tiniest baby step in the right direction.

“Because I came from the projects straight to success”—This one doesn’t really mean anything. I think I’ll, uh…just skip…this one. Moving on.

“And your next—so try, they can’t steal your pride it’s inside”—This is perfect. I’m no longer talking to Rich but to Michigan fans all over: they can’t take your pride in your school when somebody predicts a 5th-place Big Ten finish. That pride is inside of you, and it will always be there. Even if we suck, we have to still have pride. It’s hard sometimes, but it can be done. Think Lions. Actually, don’t. Just, disregard that, that was terrible. That will never happen.

“Then find it and keep on grinding”—To the players: what we the fans need from you is for you to find that Michigan pride in you and grind away at the opposition. There’s a reason you chose this school, and many of you had the world as your oyster coming out of high school. I would think one of those reasons was being proud of who you played for, and proud when you say “I play for the University of Michigan.”

“Cause in every dark cloud there’s a silver lining”—The dark cloud, of course, is the departure of Lloyd Carr. To those who never liked Lloyd: eat it. He did so much for Michigan, including something the Bo couldn’t, and that’s win a national title. So shut up. Anyway, the silver lining is the influx of Rich Rodriguez’s new offense, Mike Barwis’ new intensity, and the many wins that are to follow.

I am optimistic for the season, despite the many obstacles facing the team. And that is what this song is all about: hope in the face of uncertainty and bad odds. Fuck the odds. Let’s get it.


"My shoulders are strong,
I'll prove 'em wrong,
I ain't doin' nothin' but movin' on.
Let the truth be known..."
- Lil' Wayne, "Tie My Hands"

Ok, to explain why I think this quote is perfect for Michigan's upcoming football season, allow me to break it into parts.

First, "My shoulders are strong."This is great to describe Michigan for two reasons. The obvious one being that Mike Barwis has ensured that everybody's shoulders, as well as all of their other muscles, are strong. The number one reason I feel optimistic about this upcoming season is that our guys are going to be stronger and more explosive than they've ever been. Combine that with talent, which we always have, and people are going to be surprised.The other reason I like the idea of strong shoulders is because it speaks to Michigan's incredible tradition. Each time that comes along bears the weight of all of the teams before it. Expectations are always so high for us, especially within our own ranks, that sometimes I feel that must weigh on players and coaches. Lloyd left us with dignity, but not without people calling for his job. Now we have a team with nothing to lose, who SI puts among the worst in the Big Ten, and yet we're still fucking Michigan. That's strong shoulders right there.

"I'll prove 'em wrong."I don't think this needs much explaining. The haters are out in force this year, and for once they have some justification. Nevertheless, Michigan has an incredible tendency to do the complete opposite of what our preseason ranking suggests we should. In 1997, we came in something like 13th or 14th before going on to win the title. In 2005, also known as the year of infinte misery, we came in top 3 before going 7-5. The point is, this year we have a great opportunity to come in under the radar, and without the weight of unreasonable expectations. After what SI said about us this last week, it's clear we have a lot to prove, and the ingredients are there for us to bake SI a nice foot cake to shove in their mouths.

"I ain't doin' nothin' but movin' on."Meanwhile, amidst all the hoopla surrounding this major transition within the program, our players and coaches have been hard at work. While skeptics argue about how Rich Rod can make his spread offense work with Steven Threet or a freshman Justin Feagin at quarterback, Rich Rod has been sorting through his bounty of talented players to concoct an effective offense. While people wonder who our starting offensive lineman are going to be, Mike Barwis is busy making sure that whoever they might be they are going to be ridiculously strong. The point is that while we speculate on the new era, the new era is already under way. At the end of the season, it will have been just that: a season. Lloyd is out, Rich is in, and life goes on. Everytime I see or hear Rich Rod talk about the program, I can tell he understands that. Regardless of what happens this year, the program is moving on and, hopefully, moving forward.

"Let the truth be known..."

Sam Weiss:

"Cash money, Machiavelli, y'all ain't ready
Quick fast like Tom Petty, y'all just petty"
-Lil’ Wayne, “Bring it Back”

“Cash Money”

Four Million, paid to West Fucking Virginia for the right to steal their coach, strength coach, success, soul, and apparently a bunch of files, which Rod shredded along with all hope by taking Barwis and Magee and leaving Larry Coker Bill Stewart. 2.5 million of the four came from Michigan's coffers. Put differently, a Michigan alum who likes luxury boxes just lost 0.5% of his net worth. No one's crying over that—except maybe Justin Boren...but it doesn't take much.


I love Lloyd Carr. I would want Lloyd Carr to baby-sit my child. Unless, of course, my child was on his way to 6’4”, having a cannon for an arm and running a 4.5. Rod would have the kid running wind sprints, tiny dumbbells in the crib, putting chocolate in the milk formula and having him recite lines from The Prince like kids in Saudi Arabia learn the Koran. If Barwis told Rod that the best kind of protein comes from cannibalism, I have no doubts that Rod would have my kid in the microwave before you could say ‘Human Rights Violation’

(Of course, if Barwis said baby fat made you buff, I’d become the Pied Piper of Ann Arbor; I’m already going through two gallons of chocolate milk a week, and I weigh less than what Terrance Taylor lost this off-season)

No one’s saying the guy isn’t ruthless. He’ll do anything to win. About damn time.

"Y'all ain't ready"

LSU 38-Ohio State 24
Illinois 28-Ohio State 21
Florida 41-14 Ohio State 14

While Ohio State's inability to win big games has been completely overblown, it's worth noting that they have only lost three games in the last two years and all three were to spread offenses. They can make all the 'Dick-Rod' jokes they want—Michigan fans made similar snarky jokes about Tressel. If they’re not afraid, they should be.

"Quick Fast like Tom Petty"

This should need no explanation. Speed is now the emphasis of conditioning, practice and recruiting. The team has already seen remarkable improvements on all fronts and Michigan should be racing around the field on both sides of the ball. For years, Michigan has underemphasized speed relative to other elite programs, like USC, LSU, and even Ohio State (who was no slower than LSU last year, just worse).

If I was feeling particularly audacious, I might even say that Michigan is nearing SEC Speed, with overall team quickness and conditioning approaching Mississippi State's, or dare I say, even Vanderbilt's.

(In fact, apparently Michigan's safeties were so impressed with the neck-speed Florida's safeties displayed while turning to watch Adrian Arrington and Mario Manningham run by them, that Barwis has them doing new specialized plyometric neck exercises which simulate getting into a car crash.)

"Y'all just Petty":


But more than the individual phrases, this line is relevant because it is simultaneously amazing and completely nonsensical. Is Tom Petty quick or fast? How does Weezy, who never left New Orleans until he was 16 and has spend the decade after in a promethazine-induced stupor, even know who Tom Petty is? I love the line, the sound of it, the rhythm of it, but if anyone wanted to start an argument on its merits, I’d be completely unable to defend it. I don’t know how it works, but it does.

As for Michigan: we have a egotistical and innovative head coach, a creative offensive coordinator, an emphasis on speed over size, a new stadium, three running quarterbacks on the roster by this time next year, new recruits from Florida but not from California and wearing Adidas jerseys. Needless to say, I’m confused. The program has changed more in the last eight months than it had in the previous forty years. I don’t understand it but I believe that it will work. I can’t defend it in an argument, and my hopes aren’t too high for this year (8-4), but I thoroughly believe.

“Don’t be surprised how da crown fit ‘em”

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

I've been through it all,
the fails, the falls.
I'm like Niagara
but I got right back up like Viagra.
I am agriculture.
Swagger so mean, it might insult you.
Ha, I'm like an ultra vulture.
I fuck around and catapult ya.
Torch ya, thought ya parents taught ya.
You guys is chocha, I'm gone. Buenos Noches.
Flow, scorch ya. And I don't even write.
No, author. So, harder. So, smarter.
All about a dollar, like 4, quarters.
Oh, father. Will tonight be my last?
And if so, make sure my kids see my cash,
and I know, I'm solid like an elbow cast.
And my future will be better than my past.
-Lil' Wayne, "Love Me or Hate Me"

"I've been through it all,
the fails, the falls"

This works on two levels. First, as Michigan fans, we've been through it all (I know, we could have it way worse, but still). 2005...losing Bo and the Ohio State game back-to-back days in 2006...The Horror and Oregon...Les Miles to Michigan...the list goes on. Also, Rich Rodriguez has been through it all. He started coaching a terrible Glenville State team in 1990, when they finished 1-7-1, but he turned them into a NAIA powerhouse. His exit from West Virginia could only be described as tumultuous, as he received death threats from his own home state and had to go through a huge buyout fiasco while settling in at Michigan. At Michigan, we are familiar with fails and falls.

"I'm like Niagara,
but I got right back up like Viagra"

Last season, Michigan suffered horrific defeats against Appalachian State and Oregon (we'll politely call that a "Niagara" fall), but bounced right back and won 9 of their last 11 games, capped off by an upset victory against Florida. This season, Michigan looks to bounce back from the loss of their head coach (although this could be seen as a net gain) as well as eight offensive starters.

"I am agriculture"

Um, what? Let's move on.

"Swagger so mean, it might insult you.
Ha, I'm like an ultra vulture."

Despite the lack of media love, as well as the lowered expectations of their fan base, this team comes into the season with a swagger that was absent from recent Michigan teams. This team believes they're faster and stronger than anyone else, and have a chip on their shoulder that comes from being a Michigan team that SI believes will finish with a losing record.

"I fuck around and catapult ya.
Torch ya, thought ya parents taught ya.
You guys is chocha, I'm gone. Buenos Noches."

This team will be faaaaaaaast. Maybe not at the quarterback position (sorry Steven Threet), but everywhere else, speed is at a premium. Our defensive backfield features a guy who ran down Percy Harvin from behind (Morgan Trent), and our offense will showcase the speed of guys like Carlos Brown, Brandon Minor, Darryl Stonum, Sam McGuffie, Terrence Robinson, Michael Shaw, and others. While the offense may not be as prolific as it will be with an experienced quarterback and offensive line, there will be plays this season where defenses are left a little crispy.


"Flow, scorch ya. And I don't even write.
No, author. So, harder. So, smarter.
All about a dollar, like 4, quarters."

I find Lil' Wayne recording his songs without written lyrics quite comparable to Michigan running its offense often without the use of a huddle. It's a lot more impromptu, there's a decent chance you just screw yourself up, but it can also create tremendous results (remember, Biggie didn't write anything down either). When the offense clicks, consider us smarter and harder than our opponents. As for the dollar line, reference the picture of the great state of West Virginia somewhere above this post.

"Oh, father. Will tonight be my last?
And if so, make sure my kids see my cash,
and I know, I'm solid like an elbow cast.
And my future will be better than my past."

Lloyd's last night was essentially December 31st, 2007. After beating Florida the next day, and announcing his retirement, he opened up a new era in Michigan football history. He was a solid coach, no doubt about it, but I expect the future to be better than the past. RichRod will bring that cash to Lloyd's kids, with Big Ten titles, BCS bids, and an offense more exciting than anything Ann Arbor has ever seen. This season may be a rough one, but Michigan will be back where it should be, atop the Big Ten, when the dust settles.


Mikey said...

Great post guys! Not a big fan of Lil' Wayne that much because everyone seems like a groupie these days and the fact a lot of his lyrics don't really make sense 90% of the time and are metaphorically simple, but I must admit they are very creative and have a sting/punchline. Very creative on how you compared Wayne's flow with Michigan football....maybe you guys should ghost write for Weezy with some underlying tones that hint at Michigan football...ahaha....just don't go dissing him if "apparently "doesn't acknowledge your skills(aka Gillie da Kid or should I say "Willie the Squid").

Zac said...

The Carter III was a dissapointment

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