Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Meta: A Lack of Respect

I've been a member of MGoBlog since 2009. I read MGoBlog before that, when it was a part of the blog-o-sphere that my current blog is attached to, because of the detail I saw in his Brian's UFRs. I was enthralled with the passion and dedication, and loved the fact that it broke down each play, nearly player-by-player. What a resource.

[This is full, long-winded drama after this, please don't read on if you don't care; most of you won't care]

If it's unclear of the influence that MGoBlog has had as a part of my blogging career (if you want to call something I do for fun and very, very little money, as means to an end for having big person responsibilities and not always being able to coach), my user name almost anywhere I go was originally used there. It was my first user name post-AOL, my first truly anonymous one, a throwback to one of my favorite Simpsons episodes and to my future career, and I still use it today.

Suffice it to say, MGoBlog has meant quite a bit to me. In fact, it's meant so much to me that I've contributed to "Hall of Fame" posts, and have several other diary posts not on the list, that are probably of better quality than the ones that are. I think it's fair to admit that I've contributed quite a bit there, for free, because I enjoyed doing what I did, and I enjoyed the community. I remember my first post ever, something about watching Lamarr Woodley play in high school. But I didn't really contribute coaching acumen until I wrote a piece detailing Rich Rod's 3-3-5 Defense. At the time I was a lonely intern working in Cleveland for the winter semester, living in some guy's spare bedroom for $70 a week, and that included utilities and a homemade dinner each night. Of course, he worked nights too, so I had what you could call a lot of free time to myself, which isn't really a complaint for a recluse like me. The great feedback I got from that post showed me that the things I was interested in, the more detailed aspects of X's and O's and technique, had a real audience that wanted to learn. So my appreciation for what I'm currently doing stems from MGoBlog.

By the time the 2013 season came around, I had already written for Steve Lorenz at his Tremendous blog (now a writer for 247sports), contributed a bit at 247sports, and had started writing for Maize n Brew. On the side I started my own blog where I could talk more about other B1G teams and get into a little more depth and into recruiting (initially) that I wanted to. One of my first posts prompted Brian to write this:
That post is still hanging on in my top 10 most viewed posts, so that goes to show the influence that Brian brings. Clearly, this was a man that I respected: he started a high-traffic blog that had a strong influence on one of, if not the primary fan base I was looking to cater to. He's also an engineer, or was at least, which is a nice connection. This was aided by the fact that he was able to delve into technical and strategic aspects of the game of football, and more so, was able to eloquently and wonderfully write his feelings on the subject matter, often times expressing remarkably close to the exact feelings of many Michigan fans. He deserved the recognition he received, he deserved the following he had, because he was a hell of a blogger.

Then something happened at some point in the 2013 Season. Likely it was around the PSU game, where I wrote a series of posts that was not intended to be like or counter Brian's UFR post or his 27 for 27, but instead was intended to  give a perspective of what an OC saw. My conclusion, that it wasn't offensive play calling that was the primary issue (and Michigan's 16 RB runs prior to its 5 minute, clock-killing drive to try to seal the game), but instead, was execution. This got blasted by the folks at MGoBlog, who hated that "execution" became such a talking point by the coaches. They lumped execution in as a coach excuse, a means to put the problems all on the players. I claimed execution was just as much if not more on the coaches, as it is their job to teach the players to execute. That claim went unheard by many who had made up their mind about my piece, which was fine, I would just have to repeat it until I was blue in the face, and still have to repeat it regularly.

But that's my best guess as to when Brian stopped following me on Twitter. I remember, because I went to direct message him, to ask him if he wanted me to not counter his points so often on his blog, but of course, I couldn't. So instead I wrote him an e-mail that said how much I respected him and asked him again if he would like me to back off a bit, knowing that it was his blog and not mine. I didn't get a response. That's fine, busy guy, gets lots of e-mails I'm sure.

So I still contributed a lot to his blog, giving my insight where I thought it fit, driving conversation and debates quite frequently, more frequently than I would have liked honestly. The last time I was linked there was by Ace in a Fee Fi Foe Film piece about Indiana's Screen Package. Nitpicking of playcalling and Borges's lack of understanding of offense continued to annoy me, but I would argue my case and move on. That was until a picture pages post tried to claim Borges was essentially a clueless twit and didn't know what he was doing with the inverted veer. This struck me as odd, as it was a two-back inverted veer that was designed to be run as a counter to the scrape exchange, and was something that many spread teams, including OSU and Oregon, used. But that wasn't what I felt was described in the article, instead, I felt what was described was "our players aren't being put in positions to succeed" and "Borges doesn't understand basic stuff". Never mind the criticism for a second; forget that currently, when it comes to "putting players in positions to succeed", there is a displayed aura of being elite compared to two National Championship winning offensive coordinators; just imagine that it's all some villainous plot by the DL coach masquerading as a head coach; don't worry about the fact that "players not in position to succeed" was a kick block on a power play by the FB. I tried reaching out to Brian, again unsuccessfully. So I asked others if it would be alright for me to post a rebuttal. Not only was I told it was alright, I was encouraged to do it. So I did.

After a few weeks of loosely veiled, sotto voce insults directed towards me, my rebuttal lead to this. YAY! I made the front page.
Various critics, most prominently Space Coyote, make a few small concessions and then go about explaining why play X was a good call and why it would have worked. They implicitly assert things like "Joe Kerridge in a ton of space should deviate from expecting Nebraska to use their slot LB as a force and ably block that guy when that LB believes the inverted veer is coming
Was it me? Was I the asshole here?
I am admittedly working from a hand-waving feel on this, but it's no worse a feel than whatever Space Coyote has gotten from doing whatever he does with whatever team at a totally different level of competition. I say Michigan puts their players in a spot to work miracles or die, and that this is on both the overall structure of the offense and the predictability of playcalls based on formations and down and distance. Space Coyote makes certain concessions to not seem totally insane and then goes back to hammering the fact that it's all execution.
Of course, he didn't feel that was a shot at anyone, this was just a friendly debate that I was encouraged to be a part of so he could have potshots taken at me on the front page. People latched onto that narrative and I allowed it, because I didn't feel like getting into an arguing match in public with the biggest Michigan blogger in town. But I not only just took a cheap shot and direct insults when I never came close to insulting him (I frequently backed him by saying "his lack of coaching doesn't take away from his analysis", only for him and turn my coaching history as some sort of mark against me), but I also felt like I was set up to take them.

So was I the asshole?
You (Space Coyote) don't get the outrage about anything. We get it. You didn't get the outrage about Borges. You probably still don't. And that's fine. But maybe it's time to look at yourself as the problem there. I think you have Yes Man disease.
Signs pointing to yes?
[Space Coyote is] excellent at "respectfully disagreeing' with everything I've ever posted, to the point where it is obviously not respectful.
Oh. Disagreement is now disrespectful because it's respectful. That's the situation I'm in for seeing things differently, for not seeing this whole thing as the Götterdämmerung of Michigan football; a blogger I respected has a large amount of hatred for me. To the point where I (and another blogger and heavy contributor to MGoBlog) get a sardonic call out in posts randomly now.
If you are going to call me out, just do so instead of waving your hands at People and Things you've Read that happen to be the exact thing I espouse at the blog you've left thousands of comments on. It's not hard to figure out which particular person on the internet has put the burr up your tailpipe, and hand-waving at it is a weak attempt to avoid a rejoinder. Space Coyote does this too, refuting things that are close to but not quite what I said on a weekly basis while referring to "people". (Thinking here about the ND game, where I tweeted that Michigan allowing uncontested inside releases was getting their man coverage eaten up and that maybe having Manning at CB coach was a bad idea; SC to refuted the misconception of "fans" about these things.) It's okay to disagree with me, just be honest about it.
After taking a bunch of veiled criticism from this man - rather than him just calling me out - now he's calling me out for passive aggressiveness or bowdlerizing, which is completely untrue. If he saw what I wrote as a shot at him, it's because he thought it was a shot at him, because he was one of the people that didn't understand CB leverage. Sometimes you can be slapped in the face with Cover 4 over two dozen times in a game and not recognize it, and if you read my blog instead of searching for insults in it you wouldn't make that mistake. And that's fine, there are still things I don't recognize, and I watch a ton of football, I've learned a ton about football, I've coached a ton about football. I don't expect everyone else to see what I see, just as I don't expect to see what everyone else sees. And it's why I keep on learning from Smart Football, Jim Light's Blog, Brophy Football, Coach Grabowski, and Coach Hoover, to name a few, along with team sites like Fishduck and One Foot Down. It's why I follow people like Hawkeye Gamefilm on twitter. It's why I started reading MGoBlog in the first place, to learn about the spread option. But now Brian will even go so far as to use "fans", and while he's quoting me, it seems that the sinister reason to use "fans" is one he's used before, to get people against me (or whomever) by having it seem like the quotations give me an elitist persona.

Let's just get straight to the heart of the issue here, these condemning words I wrote
Now, fans have a misconception that no matter what in press coverage you can't let a guy inside of you, and that really isn't true. It depends on the split and the situation and the field position. The real issue is that Michigan flat out missed on their punch repeatedly, which you should rarely do. But what happened: they force him outside because they over-leverage on the inside and give a guy a free release, meaning they got beat over the top; they get the receiver in a favorable position but aren't strong enough to hold him there; things like that. 
People are complaining about Manning being a CB coach, a guy that has never coached or played CB before. While it may not be optimal, I don't see that as the primary issue, at least not at this point. The bigger issues are two-fold: 1) some of these players aren't optimal press type corners; 2) you don't just learn to cover everything in a press Cover 1 during one off-season and not get exposed by a QB that is hitting bulls-eyes. The first deals with not being strong enough to redirect or hold your position, that means through the feet, shoulders, arms, and hands. The 2nd has to do with how to consistently handle every situation, which Cover 1 forces the coverage to deal with a ton of looks, and frankly, Golson was great and his receivers made some very good catches.
Damning, I say. A clear insult if there ever was one. Almost certainly not because I just wrote two articles about Cover 1, including CB leverage, and I still saw plenty of comments about people not understanding CB leverage.

This was my response to his passive aggressive claims:
This is a crap call-out. I have always linked back to this site when attempting to make a direct counter-point to one made on this blog. I did so while at Tremendous, I did so at Maize n Brew, and I do so now. A lot of people complained about the NB not having inside leverage on seam throws when Michigan was in Cover 1, that section was not directed specifically at you. The fact that I wrote a lengthy piece about CB leverage in Cover 1 just before that, and I saw lots of comments on here and on twitter from people other than @mgoblog made me write that section.
If I'm trying to refute @mgoblog I'll say it, why wouldn't I? What's going to happen, I don't get linked in the post game write up? Apparently I only do when "I don't call you out directly when I clearly am calling you out directly". So no, I do link back when I'm attempting to refute something you write, because it takes less time than me rewriting your position (and the position of all the commentors) and it's general blogger decorum. I do spend a lot of time on here, I do contribute a lot here. When I disagree with you, you know I disagree with you. This "I don't call you out" or link back is false.
My "Coaching Points" posts are generally written Sunday before you write anything (other than I guess twitter, but there are a lot of people on twitter that I follow) and are generally a quick touch on different things I saw during the game and general fan reaction. But if you look at my non-Coaching Points posts about Michigan, three out of the last five link back to MGoBlog.
Make that four out of six. But narcissists always think it's about them, and I understand the irony in writing this post and calling someone else a narcissist, and I'm uncomfortable with it. Maybe it's back-to-back bad seasons for Michigan that's making him so saturnine. Maybe it's because I liked Hoke, and Brian never wanted to empathize with him even before the concussion thing, despite his reasoning for not doing so actually happening under Rich Rod's watch, who he empathized with (which I have no problem with, FYI). Maybe he's a solipsist. There could be lots of reasons why someone lashes out, and my Psych 101 didn't make me qualified nor compelled to figure out why.

What I know is that I've been nothing but respectful. I've been polite in my disagreements. Hell, after being told maybe to not disagree so much, I've tried to show where I agree more, despite it coming off as posts that say "I agree, good job", because that makes people feel good. Sandwich theory and all, ya know?

I mean, I'm glad I'm appreciated by others, that's great. People tell me that from time-to-time, and that does mean something. Really, it does mean something and it makes me feel good. I like commenting on MGoBlog, which is probably why I won't stop. I like saying things that actually add to the discussion, whether it be adding to the debate, giving perspective, or just adding depth. I like doing that at any football blog. I don't tend to just say things to repeat what someone has said.

At the end of the day though, I don't need the appreciation and any of that. It's great, but I don't need it; I know what my intentions are and my selfish reasons for blogging. It's fine if Brian doesn't appreciate me having an argument counter to him. It's fine that he has a Weltanschauung that doesn't empathize with mine. But the problem I have is the lack of respect, full-stop, especially when I've gone out of my way to make sure my respect was known for him in the past.

And I'm not looking for him to send me an e-mail or an apology; it'd be hollow. I know where he stands. But I can ask for respect, and I think that's warranted for my part. I've contributed a lot to that blog, I know where I stand when it comes to that as well. I'm just tired of the bullshit, and if bullshit like this is going to be said, in an effort to discredit me or make me look like the bad guy, then that trumpery should be checked at the door. But I'll keep doing what I'm doing, and maybe getting under some people's skin in the mean time.


  1. Replies
    1. After writing a post like this, I feel like my comment section needs emoji's. It's the only way to adequately tell someone to "Cry me a river", which is what I deserve for writing this.

    2. I respectfully disagree with your Cry me a river statement. :-)

      I've always really liked your posts, mainly because I've learned from them and because I've not felt uncomfortable asking questions. I 'retired' from Football in '89 because I realized life as a 150lb offensive tackle wasn't going to be overly successful, while I could spend my time wrestling to better effect; so my knowledge of the game is slim.

      I'll be honest on two points:

      A) in 2007 I was calling for RR's head. The 3-8 season, the losses to Toledo, the continued praise of 'But gee ain't that offense swell!' were all getting to me. With a little age and experience, I realize I was wrong. I think RR should have had one more year. I don't personally think it would have made that much of a difference unless he'd been able to get Casteel, but he should have had the shot. Further, I'm happy for him now. He seems to be doing great in Arizona and he and his family can finish out his career there doing well.

      B) My relationship with MgoBlog is a bit love/hate. I love alot of the posters who come out with good analysis. Brian's UFR's are great, and show alot of work. His humor can be very funny. But the snark and condescension annoy me alot, and many of it comes from the head writers. Brian and Ace's continued reference to anything not 'spread' as 'archaic' or 'not modern' is a backhanded slap if you don't happen to feel its the only real offense anymore. I think they throw around 'Incompetent' and 'Idiot' around far too often. It is disrespectful.

      Their allowance of people telling other people to 'F*CK OFF!' or 'F&CK LLOYD CARR!' as a counter argument is annoying. They are flat out personal attacks. I've not seen a 'settle down folks..' post from the mods suggesting we can all have opinions.

      These past couple weeks seem to have gotten worse, though. First was his post about those who seem determined to be 'aggressively reasonable' somehow doing the wrong thing. That cracked me up. I was a hot headed young man and my old man was a trial attorney. He was often 'aggressively reasonable' and it pissed me off. And saved my arse many a time from rash, stupid action.

      But the post about you and Magnus floored me. I mean... I've seen the man berate football people left right and center for being wrong, but someone can't disagree with him??? Even if they offer up supporting facts?

      Sure, you didn't come out and say 'Brian, you're wrong about X, Y and Z' mainly because I'd seen you responding to a bevy of posts backing up Brians' position. I also assumed it was an attempt to be somewhat respectful, dealing with the facts and not the person.

      I appreciate MgoBlog. I do. But its getting harder to read, and I read it less. I look for your guys' posts because you can say its time for someone to go without spewing vitriol on them; and you never are disrespectful in responding to someone who deals with your facts.

    3. I appreciate the post.

      And I'd never fault someone for doing wrestling. I never wrestled, but I would recommend wrestling for pretty much anyone (particularly now that there are rules that limit some of the "wear trash bags until you reach your weight" aspects of it).

    4. Or working out in a steam room you snuck into with a rain suit on?

      Good Lord were we stupid. :-)

      That said, I dearly love the sport. I coached kids 5-12 for about 3 years and just had an absolute blast. To me, at that age, it was a great opportunity to do what sports do best: Teach discipline, integrity, toughness. It was awesome. :-)

      I love football too. I just decided after getting literally thrown by a defensive tackle that, just maybe, it wasn't the sport for me. :-)

  2. As I have stated before I enjoy reading the blog because of the information that is provided. In times like these where the losses are piling up most blogs become unbearable. A lack of knowledge never seems to stop people from offering opinions even though they are so far off base as to be laughable. I can go on and on about micrcocosm of America and so on but no one wants to hear me ramble.

    With 30 years in the coaching and teaching profession I can say with first hand knowledge that the attacks go with the territory. The no good deed goes unpunished syndrome. I wise coach once told me that winning doesn't solve all problems it just pushes them to the back room waiting to come out.

    Another thing that I find difficult to swallow on the blogs is the anonymous part. I am sure that for various security reasons I shouldn't be signing my real name but lets be fair. When someone on that sight rips apart some 20 year old kid and posts their version of a game grade at least have the stones to put your name behind it.

    1. Very true statements, and I appreciate the response. The comment about "winning doesn't solve all problems" couldn't be more true.

  3. Space Coyote - I've followed your work for a long time. Not much for me to say other than keep it up and know that people are out there who appreciate it.


    1. I appreciate it, and I do know there are those who appreciate it, but it's always nice to hear.

      For the most part though, this was me simply being able to tell my side of the story. I felt I had just "taken it" for quite some time now, in an effort to be polite. But it kind of got to a breaking point and I wanted to clear the air from my POV.

  4. Mgoblog has completely gone off the rails in the last year and a half. Brian's paranoia over having his narrative undermined is petty and comical. It's like he's forgotten that he's just a dude on the internet with opinions. The Borges thing was the first sign, then the purge, then calling for the boycott and the march on Schlissel's house and the grand cherry on top, running for regent! I seriously cannot even believe the last one isn't a joke. It seems like Brian has realized the site has hit a ceiling and it's not fun anymore and so he's planning an ill advised grand exit strategy. I almost feel bad for him. My sympathy can wait, though, at least until he acknowledges that he was so, so wrong about Borges.

    BTW as for you Space, I think you'd be happier and your blog would get more traffic if you stopped commenting there.


    1. He's entitled to his opinion and running things the way he wants to. I'll disagree with a bit of it, and that's fine I guess. I just have a hard time simply taking it lying down when some guy takes potshots at me as he's been doing.

      I do actually agree with your last sentence. I think I'd do better and be happier if I stuck to this blog. I think I fall back on the fact that a lot of times it's just easier to comment on other things. But we'll see, I've been trying to cut back a bit and maybe eventually I'll stop posting there when a lot of the conversations I enjoy taking part in happen over here.

    2. He is entitled to run things the way he likes to, but he chooses to treat you the way he does because he's become defensive and assuming. How he handles you is part of a larger pattern of narcissism.


  5. Space Coyote, I appreciate the info that you present; I always learn something. I do not always agree with you, but you always educate and make me think. I am not a coach, but I believe that your posts help me understand the things that I watch on Saturdays. Respectfully, V Elie

    1. Thanks, I appreciate it. I think it's fine for people to disagree, a lot of things delve into the opinion side of arguments, and pretty much all of us are privy to the same amount of information: game days. It's a very small sample size compared to everything else, and generally, that will conclude different opinions.

  6. SC,

    As a (former) basketball player and (current) coach who has a deep love for the complexity of turn based sports (read: football), I have always really appreciated your work (particularly in explaining MSU quarters defense which I then adapted into a basketball zone press) and am mostly writing this in support of Team Space Coyote. Also, if you have time in the near future, can you explain how to assess front 7 play? I have gotten pretty good at telling when a DB messes up but still often get confused about who has messed up between a DE and LB.

    Keep on Keepin on


    1. Interesting to apply it to basketball, but I can kind of see how that works for a press. Is it a full press, 3/4 press, or a trap type defense?

      Anyway, I do plan on eventually getting to more of the front based (DL/LB) stuff later on, but sometimes that's a bit trickier because there tends to be a guy responsible for each gap, and which gap depends on what play call/assignment that person has. So it can change a lot based on stunts, blitzes, twists, etc. But I do play on looking at the base defense for multiple fronts, as that's what you'll see most often.

    2. Awesome! I look forward to reading it.

      It is a full press that seems to be working in the first couple weeks of implementing it, but as I need my first team PG running the defense, we have a Freshman running the second team... so tough to say if it's working because it works or it's working because Freshman backup PG (which, ya know... might be a problem for us this year but whatever)


  7. I love your insight and appreciate your work SC. You're always a voice of reason, and you always comport yourself with such dignity. I can't help but wish more people everywhere could act the same.

  8. SC, Great work. Keep doing what you're doing. Don't worry about what certain people say because good people in any line of work get attacked. It comes with the territory. I always enjoy your refutations on MGo, by the way, because you keep your composure and stick to the facts, but know when to call people out too.

  9. SC - "Don't let the Turkeys get you down!!". Really appreciate the time and effort you put into your analysis. Most time, the only reason I would read Mgoblog was to look for your comments since you always brought a great perspective. Mgoblog has recently become in the famous words of Coach Pitino - "The Fellowship of the Miserable"

    If it was me, for what it is worth, I would take a long break from Mgoblog and the rest of the blowhards over there.

    Stay Strong and remember that there are many, many, many people that appreciate what you do!

    Thank you!!

  10. For what it's worth, I only discovered your site a month ago and it's already my favourite xs and os blog. I think your content and writing style is excellent. It's always annoyed me how debate on the internet is so often stymied by ego and vitriol. Just gotta keep on keeping on!