Gl~be Achd'iguz iliI
gIk Jackson: I'll be back at cornerback or I'm going pro
By J. Brady McCollough
Daily Sports Editor
PASADENA, Calif. - The sun had already set
behind the surrounding San Gabriel foothills as
Marlin Jackson walked from the Rose Bowl lock-
erroom to the Michigan team bus. On the way
through the mob of fans waiting outside the
gates, he gave the first indication of whether the
sun will rise again on his Michigan career.
"If I'm back here, I'll be at corner," Jackson
said directly after his team's 28-14 loss to South-
ern Cal. "I'm the best corner in the country. I'll
be back at corner."
Jackson, an All-America cornerback last sea-
son, moved to safety in fall practice so that
Michigan could get its three most seasoned
defensive backs - Jackson and corners Jeremy
LeSueur and Markus Curry - on the field at the
The switch seemed logical, given Michi-
gan's inexperience at safety entering the sea-
son. But after Jackson injured his leg at
Minnesota and missed the next three games,
young safeties Willis Barringer and Jacob
Stewart proved more than capable of playing
the position full-time.
Jackson returned to action at Northwestern,
and during Michigan's last three games, didn't
make much of an impact at safety. After the Rose
Bowl, the Preseason Big Ten Defensive Player of
the Year's disappointment was obvious.
"It's been frustrating," Jackson said. "It wasn't
a good season for me at all."
Jackson played in nine games - he missed
three due to injury and one to suspension. He
made 50 tackles, intercepted two passes, forced a
fumble and blocked a field goal. He broke up just
five passes, compared to 18 last season, when he
broke Charles Woodson's Michigan single-season
"(Playing safety) was just more physical than I
thought," Jackson said. "I had to learn it very
quickly, basically during two-a-days."
So, the deal is on the table: If coach Lloyd Carr
won't move Jackson back to cornerback, Jackson
will declare for the 2004 NFL Draft.
Even if Carr clears Jackson to return to corner
next season, the Sharon, Pa., native will consider
the pro ranks.
"I have to think about what would be the best
thing for me, not Michigan," Jackson said.
The best thing for Jackson, whether at Michi-
gan or in the pros, would be to return to the form
of his sophomore season, when he shut down top
wide receivers in Washington's Reggie Williams
and Michigan State's Charles Rogers. Rogers,
now with the Detroit Lions, tabbed Jackson the
best cornerback he played against in college.
The best thing for Michigan is for Jackson to
return for his senior season and play cornerback,
alongside Curry. Ernest Shazor, Barringer and
Stewart would play safety. If Jackson left, current
true freshman Leon Hall would likely be thrust
into a starting role.
In current NFL Mock Drafts, Jackson is being
projected anywhere from the sixth pick overall to
the middle of the second round. Most boards pre-
dict Jackson to be drafted in the middle to late
first round if he declares.
"It's a life decision, so it's a very difficult thing
to handle," Jackson said. "I just have to make
sure I make the right decision and weigh all of
Jackson has until mid-January to declare for
The Rose Bowl - much like the season
- was disappointing for Marlin Jackson.
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA 28, MICHIGAN 14
Doak Walker Award winner Chris Perry was burled by Southern Cal. defenders all day, and when he was hit, it was usually by multiple unblocked Trojans - as seen above.
Michigan needs four points for seat upgrade
J. BRADY MCCOLLOUGH
The SportsTuesday Column
P ASADENA, Calif. - We will
now begin boarding College
Football Flight "Pecking order"
with our elite customers only. Elite
Suddenly, that damn Southern Cal.
war chant started up again. Duh duh,
da da da da, da da da, duh duh! The
people in cardinal and gold strutted
forward, looking at me as if I was a
bum in rags.
The Bayou Bengals followed right
behind, carrying jugs of gumbo and
wearing "GEAUX TIGERS!" shirts.
Needless to say, they immediately
began jockeying in line with the Tro-
worst Heisman winner since Miami's
The Miami contingent rode to the
front of the line in tanks, dressed in
infantry uniforms. All the passengers
were glad to see that the 'Canes were
sitting up near the front; there would
be no terrorist activity on this plane.
Not with Kellen Winslow and his fel-
low soldiers on board.
I ran up to the flight attendant with
my Rose Bowl T-shirt on and held out
You're a Trojan then?
No. I'm a Wolverine.
Oh, hun, I'm sorry, but you 're just a
No, you don't get it, HUN. I go to
Michigan. I am an elite customer.
Young man, please calm down.
After such a convincing loss to USC,
College FootballAirlines isn 't willing
to grant you elite status. Now wait a
few seconds, and we 'll board Pre-
So, I waited there, stunned, frustrat-
ed and hurt. Winning an outright Big
Ten title wasn't enough to push Michi-
Georgia fans joined me for two bags
of those new buttery, twisty pretzels.
This trip out to Pasadena was not
about winning a game, but proving
that Michigan was once again an elite
program. Even an inspired perform-
ance - you know, a seven- or three-
point loss - would have given the
Wolverines that respect as Big Ten
champs. Instead, the Wolverines were
outcoached, outplayed, out-every-
thinged. Southern Cal.'s milkshake
was ultimately much more flavorful,
thicker and just plain better than
The Michigan program hasn't sat in
first class since 1999, and it still can't
see past the drape separating elite
from preferred customers on the long
and grueling flight into next season.
And with the new year in front of us,
it's time to make some resolutions that
will help this program arrive where
every Michigan man and woman
believes it should be: With its feet up
in first class, sitting next to Vanna
White, looking back at all the others.
1) Break up the monotony oflife
do," Southern Cal. defensive tackle
Shaun Cody said. "Coach (Pete) Car-
roll came up with such a great pack-
age today, blitzes and stuff he threw
in. He had them very confused."
Yeah, Michigan sure looked it. The
perfect example of how well-versed
the Trojans were on Michigan's
offense was their treatment of the tra-
ditional Michigan screen pass. Every
time the Wolverines went to the well,
the Men of Troy were waiting. And the
war chant played. Duh duh, da da da
da, da da da, duh duh!
Surely I'm not the only person who
wants to scream Macaulay Culkin-
style every time Michigan goes to the
shotgun and four wideouts late in the
game and immediately has a touch-
down drive. Surely, the laws of foot-
ball would allow it to work in the first
I've had John Navarre look me in
the eye after the Minnesota game (a
game salvaged by success in the shot-
gun), and talk about how no matter
what, Michigan is going to try and
establish the running game and exe-
With 28 different bowl
games over the holiday
season, one might wonder
if there are about 12 too
many games for teams
that are barely over .500.
But some of these lesser-
known bowls do have
some good qualities. The
Daily takes a look at the
best and the worst of the
collegiate bowl season
without having to rip on