Operation Black Out: I’ll be honest, I was a little uncomfortable about tying the color black to the anniversary of the tragedy. I was also a little confused by the messaging of playing with the 1971 Young Herd’s helmets around the time of the 1970 tragedy since the 1970 team was wearing solid green on November 14, 1970. Once I got to the Henderson Center for the basketball game, it all began to come into focus for me. It was a very nice tribute. For the basketball portion, Landon’s column on Danny’s thoughts on the basketball boosters who are part of the 75 really gave me a different perception. I was also moved beyond words during the PERFECTLY executed team entrance at the football game. I was fixated on watching the intro video with everyone around me crying, when all of a sudden the team was right in front of me walking under the M Club banner. It was actually one of the most dramatic things I have experienced in the Joan. Very, very, very well done. Finally, while I am still a little confused about the messaging of the Young Herd helmets, I really liked it. The team looked sharp, and they seemed focused.
Litton’s Number: it was rumored that he was switching back to 14 for the ODU game, which didn’t happen. Then it was spun that he was wearing 14 in honor of Ted Shoebridge. The thing that hit me when I HERD he was wearing 14 as a tribute was that whoever came up with that didn’t think it through all the way. If you go back and look at the game itself before the tragedy on November 14, 1970, No. 14 was benched in favor of No. 12. At ECU, No. 14 didn’t get on the field until the second half. Based on the poll that was on the Main Board last week, a lot of us were in favor of 2016's No. 12 (Morrell) getting on the field on Saturday. I kept wondering how well Morrell would have done if he got a shot on Saturday. I’m pretty sure that Doc doesn’t want any of us second guessing what the record would be if he would have played Morrell or Gaines earlier this season. That being said, I hope that Litton continues to improve. I also hope that there is a real competition in the Spring.
Legg and Litton: I don’t think there is a single Legg Apologist out there. I’m certainly not one, but I did respect the fact that he is down on the field working with Litton and the offense during the games now. In Snyder-lingo, Legg is working to “get it fixed.” Whether I agree with results or the methodology, I respect the effort. I also respect the fact that Litton actually didn’t stare down every receiver on Saturday. I also liked the fact that Legg had Litton rolling out. That being said, I don’t know why it took so long to make these adjustments. It seems like this could have been done right after the Akron game, or during it. Better late than never, I guess.
My Little Pony: The Artist disguised as a bartender at Mancinni’s does an incredible job with her chalk drawing each week. It is the first thing I want to check out when I get into town. When I got in on Friday night, I really enjoyed her interpretation of the Blue Raiders. It looked like a My Little Pony, which was freaking awesome. Kudos!!!
Richardson: I’ve been thinking about him all year as being the kid who spent 4 years in Ann Arbor and transfers to a team that has had 3 straight ten win seasons. What a year to transfer into…geez. He’s been a contributor all year. I was glad to see him get an INT on Saturday. While he may not be ending his career with being on a Ten Win team or playing in a bowl game, he can look back on his time here with pride. Plus he got to be part of our story, which even by Ann Arbor standards is something special.
Neely: my first question during the game when I HERD No. 5’s name over the loud speaker was: Who? My second question was: why hasn’t he been playing? I had to go to his Herdzone bio to answer the first question. If you are like me, the answer is that he is in his second year from Georgia Military. He was primarily on special and scout teams last year. He had 3 tackles and pass break up in 53 snaps last year. He sure had a career day on Saturday. Maybe it was just a one-time thing, but I sure wish he would have been on the field earlier in the season. His interception was arguably the best play of the day (at least tied with Thompson getting a 2 and 1 after flipping the ball up from his waist during the basketball game). Anyway, I’m glad Neely got his shot and made the most of it.
Anderson: I hope he stays healthy and out of Doc's Doghouse. He had a great second half.
Snyder Comparison: On Saturday, I got all wrapped up in being in the Joan with everyone wearing black again and yelled during the first half “Come on Snyder” for old times’ sake. It seemed really funny to me at the time, but it got me thinking about whether it is fair to judge a three time 10 win season coach against one of the most unpopular Herd coaches in recent memory. So I broke down the Snyder vs. Doc years. For those who haven’t data mined this lately, Snyder’s record over 5 years (with OC opponents) was: 4-7 in 2005 (W&M, K-State, VT); 5-7 in 2006 (WVU, Hofstra, K-State, UT); 3-9 in 2007 (U, WVU, UNH, UC); 4-8 in 2008 (IL State, WI, WVU, UC); and 6-6 in 2009 (Southern IL, VT, BUGS, WVU). In fairness to Snyder, I think we should give him a 7-6 record in 2009, since it was his team that beat OU in the Pizza Bowl. Before I breakdown Doc’s record, I think it fair to note that for a fair comparison, you can only count 2010-2013 since those are the only years that Doc faced the real C-USA schedule. The new Sunbelt/C-USA started in 2014. Here is Doc’s record for 2010-2013 (with OC opponents): 5-7 in 2010 (OSU, WVU, BUGS, OH); 7-6 in 2011 (WVU, OU, VT, UofL); 5-7 in 2012 (WVU, Western Carolina, Purdue, OH); and 10-4 in 2013 (Little Miami, Gardner Webb, OH, VT) with a Bowl Win over MD. In 2014 we start playing in the new Sunbelt. Doc’s record in 2014 was 13-1 (Little Miami, RI, OH, Akron) and bowl win over Northern IL. In 2015, he was 10-3 (Purdue, OH, Norfolk State, Kent). One interpretation of the data could be that Snyder was trending up and becoming a better coach when he was fired, while Doc had a comparable record for most of the years before the Sunbelt teams replaced Snyder’s competition. The one notable exception is Doc’s 2013 season; in 2013, he won before the conference got totally watered down and he played 2 P5 teams (1-1). 2014 and 2015 were good seasons, but everything was so watered down, it isn’t fair to Snyder to compare. Still Doc brought home a Conference Championship and four bowl victories. In sum, I haven’t changed the name of my cocker spaniel yet, but I do call him “Buddy” about 1/3 of the time…just in case…
Six Letters: ASN WOW…the best part about being at the Joan on Saturday was not having to rely on ASN as my only way to see the Herd. Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful that someone is willing to broadcast the Herd. I also enjoy Donnan and Doug being part of the broadcast team; plus Mike Gleason takes me back to the day when I used to live in Columbus. But after the nostalgia wears off, l am left with having to rely on pretty shoddy broadcast quality. At times it is like something out of Mystery Science Theatre. At other times it is just plain irritating. Then sometimes, I am embarrasses for them (e.g. not sending announcers to Norfolk).
Looking Forward to WKU: it has been a little troubling to me that Byrd’s senior day is going to be the WKU game. As most of you know, Byrd is my favorite player this year. It has really been bothering me that he is potentially going to be on the ONLY HERD team that never beat WKU. After the win on Saturday, I have started thinking: what if Byrd gets to walk off the field as being on the team that was the First to Beat WKU? That would be awesome…Byrd is the Word after all…Go Herd!!!