Ooooh: dateline. Tim's not quite set up to post as Tim yet, but this is Tim from Chicago.
CHICAGO, IL - If "OMG who didn't vote for Tebow?" was the annoying meme at the SEC Media Days last week, the theme for the Big Ten's edition is "What the hell is wrong with your conference, and what are you going to do to fix it?" Every head coach was bombarded with some version of that question, and there were three general ways it was asked:
- Illinois and Wisconsin are scheduling games after the traditional end of the conference season. Do you see this as a positive for the perception of the conference as a whole?
- What other ways of toughening up the schedule (such as playing tough teams OOC, such as USC and Texas, or by extending the conference schedule to a full round robin) are you in favor of?
- Why do you suck so much more than the SEC?
Ron Zook thinks that not only is the ability of the Illini to stay on TV later in the year a positive thing, but also the bye weeks that they open up during the season will help the team stay healthier overall, and stronger down the stretch.
Rich Rodriguez, though he didn't play in a bowl last year with the Wolverines, thought that West Virginia's season extending to December helped his team when bowl season rolled around, because the execution and rhythm of the team aren't interrupted. Still, Rodriguez (along with a couple other coaches), thinks that it will only take big wins in one or two big non-conference/bowl games for the Big Ten to be back in the media's good graces. Michigan returning to power can only help that change. The only thing that really matters is winning, and that will come as long as Big Ten teams are as good as their opponents.
Tim Brewster thinks that playing the toughest competition can only help the team improve overall, and he looks forward to the day when the Big Ten conference adds a 12th team, and can play in a conference championship game.
Pat Fitzgerald, before his thoughts wandered to Rose Bowl dreams, talked about how he doesn't want to expand the conference schedule, because the Big Ten is pretty tough as it is. Like everyone else, though, he wants to change the perception of the league in a positive manner.
Jim Tressel said any time you challenge your team, not only do you find out where you stack up, but also that you grow as a team, and improve. As far as altering scheduling, he doesn't think that the difference between 40-some days off of football before the bowl season isn't significant to a team's performance, despite how the Buckeyes have looked in the past few BCS bowl games. The conference is concerned about its image, and even rival coaches cheer for each others' teams in the non-conference schedule.
Bill Lynch, who probably has the least vested interest in the topic, thinks it's a positive if teams can have a bye week, even if it means extending the season slightly. It allows for mental and physical rejuvenation.
Mark Dantonio thinks the difference between conferences is negligible, and the only way to determine who is the best is by a theoretical game between the all-conference teams of various conferences.
As for other (somewhat) interesting things paraphrased from the mouth of Rich Rodriguez:
The Big East and Big Ten are somewhat similar conferences, and though he spent a lot of time in the Big East, he thinks that the Big Ten has a bit more quality depth among its teams. Though the Big Ten might not have the most pristine reputation right now, once the teams are able to play and win in big games against important opponents, the perception of the league will improve.
The idea that a scheme is unique or unbeatable is a little overrated. Schemes are what they are. Michigan isn't going to win games just because of "the spread." It's plays and players that win games. Defenses may have caught up with the spread because it's not foreign to them anymore, but what you do from the spread is what's important. Defensively, Greg Robinson did bring in some slightly different schemes, though most defensive coordinators have a bunch of the same X-and-O stuff, and it's how you utilize them that's important. The bigger contribution by GERG has been the chemistry he's helped develop among the coaching staff and the players on the defensive side of the ball. Though the team lost some players from 2008, the new staff and players are communicating well, and that should help.
In other terms of improvement from year one to year two, there's the matter of experience. Not only were most of Michigan's players inexperienced, the experience that they did have was in a completely different system, so having a year of not only college football, but also the Rich Rodriguez system, will help the team a lot. Especially along the offensive line, the players will now know how to react when a new situation is thrown at them in live action. Once the players are familiar with game experience—and the coaches are familiar with the players—there are more available answers to problems.
Tomorrow, I'll have the chance to talk to the players, and hopefully there'll be some news to report from that.
I've dissed on Big Ten Media Days today, but here's something of major import:
He said U-M is close to signing an opening opponent for 2010. He said it's a BCS school for a home-and-home series.
Michigan would not be lining up a home-and-home with Duke or whoever, so this is an opponent ranging from decent to excellent. When Boise State popped up as a potential opponent, I scoured the schedules and came up with a list of potential opponents. Those opponents, once more:
NOT HAPPENING WITHOUT AN UNLIKELY RETURN GAME
- Oklahoma State
- Kansas State
- Mississippi State
- Washington State
- Maryland (would have to move Navy game)
- NC State
- Oregon State
- South Carolina (would have to move Troy game)
- TCU (they'd have to move their Baylor game)
TCU and all the "why bother" schools are out since it's a home-and-home. Georgia is not a candidate. Also, Maryland's game against Navy is in Baltimore and thus not moveable. They're out. What about the rest?
Alabama: has already filled out its 2010 schedule, and Penn State is on it.
LSU: Though they need a 12th game they would have to move Tulane and already have West Virginia lined up.
NC State: Open date, but has a real game (Cincinnati) scheduled on 9/4.
Pitt: No conflicts but already has Notre Dame and Miami on the nonconference, with ND on the road.
Oregon State: open date but already have UL and Boise lined up, with Boise on the road.
Arkansas: has only announced their now-annual neutral-site game against A&M.
Cal: Would have to move the Louisiana Tech game but has an open date and no scheduled road games. They do have Colorado lined up.
Oklahoma State: only Tulsa and Troy on the docket right now and nothing on 9/4.
Virginia: already lined up to die at USC, but do they really care about adding a game? No conflicts.
South Carolina: Would have to move a game against Troy and has North Carolina already lined up, but all of their noncon are currently at home.
My bets in order:
- Oklahoma State, which has a schedule that can accommodate Michigan with ease and is a nouveau riche school looking for a big scalp.
- Cal. Michigan loves scheduling Pac-10 schools and they can go on the road in 2010.
- Virginia. They'd have to be nuts, but maybe they are.
Also: Rodriguez confirmed that all the freshmen are ready to go, making Gallon and Turner's status officially official.
I've spent the morning a little freaked out because Big Ten Media days, despite having zero items of actual interest, certainly feels like something I should be covering the crap out of. And then you flip on the Big Ten Network and Mike Hall says "Michigan will get into a bowl because it's Michigan" at 6-6 when there are rules stating any eligible 7-5 team has to be picked ahead of a 6-6 team and, well… it's not so great.
But here it is if you want to marvel at… it. Enjoy the debt reduction and Michael J Fox Parkinson's commercials, and try not to pass out when Tressel takes the mic.
UPDATE: Whoever the analyst guy is just said Tate Forcier was an "unguided missile," which is… what? And now Greg Robinson is a "beautiful mind." Aaaaargh? I'm so confused.
UPDATE II: I'm done with this now except for a quote from Danny Hope: "having a winning season in 2009 would be one way for this year to be special."
PA S Brandon Ifill is Cullen Christian's less-discussed teammate, if only because near five-star Christian has been publicly claiming a large Michigan lead for months now and Ifill's been more reserved about his plans. He recently announced a top two of Michigan and Maryland, though, and plans on finding out more about Michigan this week. Tom VanHaaren caught up with Ifill a couple days ago.
TOM: Thanks for taking my call, how’s your recruitment been going so far?
BRANDON: Yes sir, no problem. It’s been going pretty good. I’ve visited 4 different schools right now, and taking one more up to Michigan on the 31st.
TOM: That was going to be my next question. Can you tell me a little about what you expect to see, and what you hope to hear as well?
BRANDON: I just hope to see a nice atmosphere, a great place to play football, a great program, and the great Michigan tradition.
TOM: What coaches have been recruiting you from Michigan?
BRANDON: Tony Gibson.
TOM: You’re teammates, and good friends with Cullen Christian. What has he told you about Michigan, and what to look for on your visit?
BRANDON: He’s told me everything; everything possible. He says everything is great; the academics, the program, the facilities, coaches, and players, everything.
TOM: Since you haven’t been out to Michigan yet, is it important for you to meet with all the coaches, and try to bond with them? Try to figure out how they coach.
BRANDON: Yea, I want to build a good relationship with them after this visit. I’ve talked to coach Gibson, but I haven’t met the whole staff yet. I want to get to know them, and see how they do things at Michigan.
TOM: Let’s say you go to Michigan, and it blows you away. Is there a chance you would commit on the spot, or are you going to be more strategic about it?
BRANDON: I’m going to come home and be strategic about it, that’s for sure. I really don’t want to rush through anything. I do want to take some official visits come fall, because we have plenty of time.
TOM: What official visits do you think you’ll take?
BRANDON: More than likely, maybe 3 or 4. I’ll probably go back up to Michigan for an official, and then Maryland, and maybe Rutgers.
TOM: I know you said that Michigan and Maryland are your top two right now. How did it come down to those two?
BRANDON: Michigan, I’ve known coach Gibson for awhile, even when he was at West Virginia. Maryland, I’ve been there the most, and I just really like everything about the school.
TOM: You said you want to take an official to Michigan. Do you think that would be with Cullen (Christian), or do you want to go on your own?
BRANDON: I’m not sure, it depends on if the coaches want us to do that. We tried to come up together before, but they wanted us to come up individually, so they could focus on us as one family rather than together.
TOM: That makes sense. Michigan is recruiting you more for the safety position. Is that the same with other schools? Maryland for example, are they also recruiting you for wide receiver?
BRANDON: Yea, Michigan is recruiting me for safety and corner. Maryland is also recruiting me for wide receiver.
TOM: Which do you prefer?
BRANDON: I really don’t prefer. I didn’t think it was going to be like this. I’ve been playing everything my whole career, so it’s nothing new to me.
TOM: After you take all your visits, and sit down with your family, do you think you and Cullen will make the decision and announcement together, or will it just be on your own?
BRANDON: We’ll talk about it, and see if we want to do it together. I’ll definitely talk to him before I make a decision, and he’ll do the same. When we first started all this, we banked on the fact that we would be a package deal, but now it’s kind of, if it happens it happens. We have seen the process, and what goes into it. We see different things, and want to enjoy that ourselves.
Hi. I'm formerlyanonymous. You may recognize me from other Michigan sports blogs as Maize 'n Brew and Varsity Blue. For those of you not familiar with my posts, my primary topic has been Michigan baseball. Obviously the season is a well over, but I'm also following our players through their summer leagues. There are plans on the table to include more non-revenue sports in the future, and info on that will come after the dust of MGoMerger settles.
Also, for those with concerns about "non-revenue sports clogging your mgoblog internet tubes," the current plan is for my posts to be presented on Sundays. Brian's previous football season schedules have generally left Sunday open for reflection on the previous days game with the column like post on Monday. I'm hoping these non-revenue posts will take up that open space and not interfere too much with your football dependency – at least during the football season.
To see the previous summer baseball update, visit Varsity Blue (July 4th Edition). Also, those of you familiar with the team or my previous posts, I'll try to remember to include some information on who these players are in this post, but I'll go ahead and apologize up front. You're basically walking into the last line before the credits of a movie. You've missed all of the introductions, action, climax, and a majority of the falling action. I promise there will be less parentheses in future posts.
Honors – Several players have received honorable mention for Pitcher and Hitter of the Nights, as well as Team Players of the Week. Hitter and Pitcher of the Night are named by SummerBall. Charts:
|7/9||Tyler Mills||Northwoods||Hitter of the Night Honorable Mention||2/4, HR, 3 RBI, R|
|7/11||Tyler Burgoon||Cape Cod||Pitcher of the Night Honorable Mention||1 IP, 3 K|
|7/16||Kevin Vangheluwe||Northwoods||Pitcher of the Night Honorable Mention||1 IP, K|
|7/17||Matt Miller||Northwoods||Pitcher of the Night Honorable Mention||2 IP, BB, 4 K|
|7/24||Mike Dufek||Leesburg||Player of the Week||On Sunday,went 3/5 with HR, and a walk of single|
The Cape Cod League (the most respected league) – Tyler Burgoon (Michigan's sophomore closer) has continued to be the best Michigan player this summer and ergo making the most news. As of the 20th, he’s racked up 17.1 innings of work with a 1-1 record and a 0.00 ERA. His 9 saves lead the league and his 27 strikeouts (14.2 per 9 innings) is ridiculous. He made the Cape Cod All Star Game at Fenway, but alas, the rain ended the game in just the 4th inning. He was slated to throw the 9th (or as necessary). Meanwhile, Ryan LaMarre (Michigan's starting left fielder and 3-hole hitter) still struggles, but less badly by comparison. He’s now got his average up to .243, good for third on the Gateman team. He’s also second on the team in RBIs with 12.
Prospect League – Garrett Stephens (back up 1st baseman who sees time when Dufek pitches) represented UM and the Richmond RiverRats at the Prospect League All Star game. He’s currently 8th in the league with 21 RBIs. John Lorenz hasn’t seen much playing time since the last update.
Lima Locos – Lots of good has been coming out of Lima lately. Kolby Wood (occasional 4th starter) has his ERA down to 0.66 in 11 relief appearances stretching 13.2 innings. His three saves are good for second on the team, which makes me contemplate his role next season for Michigan. Could we see another attempt at moving Burgoon to starter and put Kolby Wood as the closer? Looks good on paper right now.
Meanwhile, Bobby Brosnahan (redshirted last year as a freshman) is cruising right along with a 2.35 ERA over 15 innings pitched thus far. He’s making his case to be a middle inning or set up guy next season as a redshirt freshman. The last Michigan player with the Locos is short stop Anthony Toth (starter) has raised his average from .215 to .281 and has played solid defense.
Also, Toth was interviewed in a piece about baseball gloves by the LimaOhio.com. To give you a small sample of why baseball budgets are fairly large:
“We have a contract at Michigan with Louisville Slugger. The rep just came, had a bunch of models out and we got to pick out whichever one felt best. I went with that one and it worked out pretty well. … I think this is a $320 glove.”
That’s just one glove for one player. Not multiply that by the 20 or so on the roster, plus backup gloves each player probably has, you’ve got yourself quite the bill just for fielding gloves.
Alexandria Beetles – Again with the closers Michigan’s been developing, Matt Miller (one of our setup men) has 7 on the season, 4 in the last three weeks. He’s dropped his ERA a full run over that time. Kevin Vanghelwue (saw very limited time during the season and what he did wasn't good) also is pitching better and has lowered his ERA almost 2 runs. Tyler Mills (redshirted as a freshman this year) isn’t playing much. The freshman is just 6/36 hitting in limited playing time.
Valley League – At Fort Royal, Jeff DeCarlo (left handed reliever who saw little time) is pitching so far above his normal level I’m just perplexed. The guy has a 2.35 ERA now, and since the last update he’s thrown 5 appearances (9.2 IP) and only given up one earned run. He hasn’t even hit a batter in that stretch. He got a save? Who is this guy? His teammate Kevin Krantz (redshirted as a freshman this year) has tailed off and seems to be seeing less and less playing time. Krantz's defense has been spotty at best at third/shortstop. His batting average has also fallen .050 points to .239.
At Winchester, Brandon Sinnery’s (another occasional fourth starter) had a rough 3 starts, but his team has bailed him out each time. His ERA jumped from 2.00 to 4.31, but he has kept his 9 K’s-per-9-IP. Teammate Matt Gerbe (one of our setup men) continues to watch his ERA fall, this time from 9.69 to 6.29. It’s good to see he’s doing better since moving back to the bullpen.
Mike Dufek for the Lightning
Leesburg Lightning – Alan Oaks (right fielder and pitcher) went 1-1 over three starts in the last 3 weeks. His ERA has dropped to only 3.89, but his strikeout to walk ratio over the last 3 starts is 9:7 which isn’t good. Those walks have to go down. Eric Katzman (left handed pitcher) has just one relief inning in three weeks. He’s become buried in the pitching depth it looks like.
Mike Dufek (first base and sometime closer) has held down the closer role for the most part, recording 2 saves in 3 outings in the last three weeks. Not much playing time, but he’s made the most of it to a 0.93 ERA. At the plate, Dufek is only hitting .268, but he has cut down his K’s per At-Bat to just about 1-in-5. During the season he was closer to 1-in-4 at bats. It became crippling at times. I think our strategy for next season should mimic the MLB All Star Game. Let’s just throw 5 closers to shut down every game.
Travis Smith – Looks like Smith (3rd or 4th starter) has lost his spot in the rotation. After a few tough luck losses of the 1-0 variety, he lost two ugly starts over the last 3 weeks and was then used out of the bullpen. He’s currently 0-5 with a 4.58 ERA. Not good my friends.
Coley Crank – Crank’s (backup catcher or designated hitter) struggling. He’s still the everyday catcher, but his average is down to .198, third lowest on the team and lowest regular starter.
Matt Broder – Despite Broder's (redshirted as a freshman this season) team’s horrible website, I ran by an article in The Observer. Broder went the full 7 innings complete game, facing only 24 batters in the effort. Great job Matt.
So I got an email yesterday predicting the departure of a quarterback from Florida and thought to myself "oh God, not Denard Robinson."
Well, it wasn't Denard Robinson. Sophomore-to-be slot receiver Justin Feagin is no more:
"Justin Feagin was dismissed from the team for a violation of team rules Thursday evening," head coach Rich Rodriguez said in a statement.
That's ambiguous as to whether the dismissal or the violation came Thursday, but I'm guessing it's the former.
I'm of two minds about the departure. On the one hand, it would be hard to pick out a player on the roster whose departure would be less likely to impact Michigan's performance on-field both this year and going forward. Feagin was a late flier Michigan took on the off chance he might be a viable quarterback. He was not and got bounced to slot receiver, where he wasn't a factor. With the spring emergence of Roy Roundtree and availability of freshmen Terrance Robinson (a redshirt), Jeremy Gallon, and Je'Ron Stokes, he didn't figure to be a factor in the fall. And it's not like slot receiver looks like a thin spot going forward; enough bits have been spilled about Michigan's receiver-mad recruiting class to fill all the tubes of the internets.
On the other hand, Feagin is the first Rodriguez recruit to leave [UPDATE: forgot about Taylor Hill, who left almost before he arrived] and did so in inauspicious circumstances. The email yesterday provided some murky detail on the violation of team rules and it's the sort of thing that is a no-BS immediate seeya type of thing. I'll let the actual journalists ferret out the details, as one anonymous, if prescient email does not a solid story make. I'd be surprised if it didn't end up in the papers eventually.
Though this kind of thing happens at a certain rate to all programs, it's another opportunity for evil bad PR gnomes to stroke their beards and mutter sagely about What Is Going On In Ann Arbor. And I (baselessly) liked the kid. How could you not, given the picture at right?
Also: you can subtract at least one additional point from Michigan's APR, which isn't going to be fatal or anything but it ain't good. Also also: I have Michigan at 20 scholarships for 2010 now, assuming that Cone and Wright don't get fifth years.