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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Schembechlerism: College Football's faded Arianism.

Oh, this is just beautiful, all over. From a commenter at Mgoblog, what is wrong with Michigan football:

What we witnessed on Saturday is an indication that we're in the final, terminal stage of Schembechlerism, a religious approach to football which, stripped of its positive qualities now that Bo is gone, has become a stale creed kept in place by rote observance and ritualistic repetition. Lloyd Carr has been an extremely loyal adherent to this philosophy, having learned at the foot of the master himself. However, like most acolytes in such positions, he's lacking in the founder's personal dynamism or charisma that can make up for the practical deficiencies in the ideology.

Schembechlerism asserts:

• It is never necessary to make a hard, realistic assessment of your own strengths and weaknesses as compared to your opponent's. This relieves you of the burden of developing game plans tailored to your opponent. We are Michigan, after all, and all we need to do is execute properly what we want to do anyhow. Of course, this also relieves the opponent of the necessity of preparing for anything that they haven't seen on tape or film already, but the element of surprise is very overrated and probably gay anyhow. It doesn't matter that we've averaged under 12 points per game against USC in Rose Bowls since 1970; we know each and every time we play them that we don't need to do a damn thing different than what we've done all season long. Why? We're Michigan, dammit.

• Speaking of unmanly things, anything smacking of subterfuge, trickery, or sleight-of-hand is also unholy and probably gay. Although the observation of this unspoken rule has in truth been spotty at times, it is only resorted to in extremis, like when we're down by 17 points in the fourth quarter at Minnesota. This is why Michigan will not use play action as part of the base offense. Just because an initial fake to Mike Hart will induce the entire defense to converge on his tiny person is no reason to use it. (Besides, according to Father Andy Mignery, using play action creates pass blocking problems. No word on how teams as diverse as USC and Boise State, not to mention the entire NFL, manage to solve that religious conundrum, but remember: we're Michigan. We don't need to look at what other teams do. Why? Because we're Michigan).

• Never, never hire a Special Teams coach with a recognized talent for that arcane part of the game. It is far better to have already overworked position coaches, or better yet, grad students, take control. Just because ST is one-third of the game is no reason to go crazy. This means you can do fine with LBs—as opposed to players with actual blocking experience—for critical blocking assignments. It also means you can refuse to double up gunners aiming for Steve Breaston's femurs. Kicking to Rocket twice is fine, too. To refuse to kick to him again is ever-so-slightly poofy. Having punts blocked is also good.

• Whenever possible, make sure your defensive backs line up at least 10 yards off the receiver and backpedal furiously at the snap. It is far better to yield the entire middle of the field than to have even the slightest possibility you'll get beat on a long bomb, which is unmanly. This is especially critical when the opponent needs to go 70 yards with less than two minutes to play. Besides, the repeated stabbings of 8-yard passes to wide-open TEs and RBs in the middle of the field stimulate the appearance of stigmata on the foreheads of duly reverent UM fans. This served us well in the Rose Bowl back on January 1, 1972 against the Stanford Harbaughs, and has worked beautifully many times since then.

• Beware of recruiting speed on the defensive side of the ball: it is the seductive siren of the spiritually dirty. In a morally pure world their RBs wouldn't be faster than our hulking LBs, and we shouldn't abandon our principles merely for the sake of adequate coverage on 3rd and 7. Just as important, ensure that Saint Gittelson is unquestioned. Squats are for pansies.

• On first down, run, do not pass, regardless of the number of defenders crowding the LOS. On third-and-eight, throw a five-yard pass, regardless of the absence of blockers. If our RBs and wideouts are pure of heart, they will find a way.

• Always, always, always run a sweep to the short side of the field, regardless of circumstances. The Book of Schembechlerism says that the sideline functions as an additional blocker. Those who assert that the close presence of the sideline gives the advantage to the defense are impure and very probably unmanly.

• Lastly, it is critically important that all major staffing decisions be made with the goal of maintaining Schembechlerism at all costs. Therefore, whenever a coordinator position needs to be filled, it is imperative to not look far and wide for the most qualified coach; the on-staff assistant or trusted personal friend are the only permissible options. We must not let the filthiness of other football religions and philosophies enter the hallowed meeting rooms of Fort Schembechler. Remember: all those vermin outside are enemies of the Panicky Deep Safety Drop, the Short-Side Sweep, the First-Down Off-Tackle Run, the Lead-Footed Short-Armed Linebacker, and the Five-Yard Pass on Third-and-Eight. Vigilance is necessary and permanent.

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