"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
Brian and I toured Michigan Stadium with assorted members of the media, and all we got was this
stupid t-shirt photo gallery:
Also, we got some details:
- Both the suites and the club seating are reserved to about 70% capacity.
- The suite have their own indoor concourse with air conditioning. The suites themselves are also air conditioned.
- The new press box will have seating for 224 reporters.
- Michigan Stadium was down to 106,201 seats last year (from 107,501), making it the second-highest capacity stadium in the country (though more people strolled through its gates than #1, Penn State's Beaver Stadium). When the new structures are complete for the 2010 season, capacity will be around 110,000.
- Over the next few years, the aisles will be widened in phases. Final capacity of just greater than 108,000 will be reached in about the 2013 season.
Every time Rich Rodriguez meets with the media, he is inundated with a thousand questions about the quarterback situation. Today was no different. Rodriguez reiterated all three quarterbacks will see some time in the opener, and the schemes may be slightly different for each signal-caller. "We have an idea in mind as far as what plays each guy runs well, which ones they execute well," he said. Denard Robinson and Nick Sheridan are unlikely to have the same portions of the playbook available to them. As far as playing time, there's nothing set in stone yet, but the staff plans to use each QB in meaningful minutes—for the first time in Rodriguez's coaching career.
While performance on the field will play a role, the staff isn't going to be quick to hook an unproductive quarterback. "It's not going to be pulling in and out based on just one play or how well they play on one play," Rodriguez said. "There could be a guy in one play then out, but it wouldn't be a constant thing."
Clearly, Rodriguez doesn't buy into the adage "If you have two quarterbacks, you have none." [Editor's note: adage says nothing about three.]
The team's first chance to play in the Big House comes this Friday. "It's not really a full scrimmage because it's not live... Getting accustomed to the stadium, where they stand on the sidelines and all that, we'll do that Friday afternoon."
- Jason Olesnavage is leading the kicker competition for now, but it won't be settled (along with the rest of the depth chart) until next Thursday.
Brandon Herron and Craig Roh are neck-and-neck to be Stevie Brown's backup at the Spinner-ish position[Editor's note: no, that ain't right. Revised bullet follows.]
- Craig Roh is Brandon Herron's backup at deathbacker.
- Brown's backups are "two true freshmen." Rodriguez didn't specify who but it's easy enough to deduct with Isaiah Bell enduring some sort of injury. The backups, then, are Brandin Hawthorne and Mike Jones.
- Michael Williams and Troy Woolfolk are physical for safeties, despite a slightly smaller stature. Williams, however, needs to remember to wrap up after going for a big hit.
- Michael Shaw has worked to improve his physical play and his ability to contribute in the passing game.
- The team is holding onto the ball better than last year, but they'll need to prove they can continue that in games.
Your chalky top ten:
Florida got 99 of the 101 first place votes, and the two that didn't rest gently on the Tebow Child's ticklish nose were handed out in polls that either ranked the whole thing on schedule strength and only schedule strength or voted Utah #1 because that's where they finished last year(?).
You will, however, note that the blog-folk managed to exclude potential flash-in-the-pan Ole Miss from the top ten. It wasn't by much—they're #11—but a three spot difference in a preseason poll represents a fairly large difference of opinion.
The November 20, 2010 game between Penn State and Indiana will switch locations from Indiana's campus in Bloomington, Indiana to [The Stadium Formerly Known As Jack Kent Cooke] in Landover, Maryland. [TSFKAJKC] is home of the NFL's Washington Redskins.
The stadium in question is about four hours from State College. It's eleven hours from Bloomington. Indiana just sold a home game for three million dollars. And Penn State got one for free.
This sort of thing has a long tradition in college football—Michigan State didn't play a home game in their series against Michigan until 1948 and didn't start equitable home and homes until a decade later—but died out at about the same time segregation did. And nobody wants to bring that back, hmmmm? [/sportstalkradio argument]
Let's stipulate that schools have the right to do whatever they want with their nonconference schedules. The effect on the rest of the conference is minimal there, mostly limited to "you scheduled who and they did what to you?" Feel free to insert your favorite recent humiliation there: The Horror, Iowa State, USC, Louisiana Tech, etc.
Once we start talking about conference schedules, though, people have a right to bitch. Every team is playing for a conference championship. The schedules need to be as equitable as possible. Yes, playing eight games against ten opponents naturally inserts some wobble in average schedule difficulty. Creating protected rivalries enhances that. (Would you rather be Michigan State (Penn State and
Ohio State Michigan [ed: whoops lol] every year) or Purdue (Northwestern and Indiana).) But in both cases everyone has agreed to the potential imbalance and decided that the alternative—years without The Game or I-AA snackycakes—is worse.
Not so with Indiana's decision to sell a home game, which benefits exactly one team, has been approved by no one, and compromises the integrity of the league schedule. It also sets a dangerous precedent. No Big Ten team has been so craven since balanced schedules became commonplace. A rundown:
- Michigan State, Penn State, Iowa, and Minnesota have never scheduled a neutral site conference game.
- A few teams did so back in the stone age but not since. Michigan hasn't played a neutral site conference game since they lost to Northwestern 2-3 in 1925, and that was in Chicago. Illinois played home games against Ohio State in Cleveland in 1944 and 1942. Purdue did the same in 1943.
- A few teams have moved games to neutral sites without giving up at least the appearance of a home game. Indiana played a neutral site game against Penn State in 2000 and against Illinois in 1984, both in Indianapolis. (They did sell a home game to Northwestern, also in 1925. Northwestern won 25-0, their only win of the season.) Ohio State moved a 1991 home game against Northwestern to Cleveland. Northwestern has a fair number of games listed as "@ Chicago, IL," which Evanston is basically a part of.
- Aaaand there's one bizarre outlier I didn't remember: Wisconsin gave up a home game to play Michigan State in Tokyo in 1993.
That's it. No modern-era Big Ten team has ever agreed to move a conference game to a location almost three times closer to the road team than the "home" team. No one has ever moved a conference game out of state with the freakish exception of that Tokyo game. Even that game was a decidedly neutral site, which TSFKAJKC will most definitely not be in 2010.
The Big Ten should shoot this down, and do it soon. This is the I-A equivalent of forfeiting a conference game so you can get paid by Michigan. Insert some bylaw that says any attempt to move a conference home game out of state or to a point that's closer to the nominal road team than the home team must be approved by the league first, and look very sternly at the Indiana administration when you do.
So one of the cool things about engulfing Varsity Blue is absorbing their technical know-how, and one of the products of this process are eggs. I mean podcasts. Forget I said anything about eggs, which I have definitely not implanted into your necks.
Anyway: MGoBlog plans a weekly podcast this fall and possibly into the spring. Our first show is now. Tim and I talked with Matt Hinton, AKA Doctor Saturday, nee Sunday Morning Quarterback, about Michigan's upcoming season, the Big Ten landscape, and then Tim and I just talk to each other about how skeptical we are about Obi Ezeh. Be sure to count the times I try to talk over Matt like a n00b.
The show checks in at around 30 minutes. We're looking for show and guest ideas in the comments or the ol' inbox; next week we'll talk with Ball State blog Over The Pylon about Western Michigan and probably the Cardinals' addiction to former Lloyd Carr assistants. I mean, I'm guessing it will come up, right?
Brian - I had two questions:
1) Come opening day, do you think the fans will boo Sheridan if and when he walks onto the field (assuming the game close)? Also, do you think RR will take this into account in his decision when allocating playing time among the QBs?
The second question is much easier to answer: no, Rodriguez isn't taking the opinion of random fans just asking for an empty water bottle to zing over their heads into account. If he is we have bigger problems than the potential a walk-on starts this year. As far as whether a hypothetical Nick Sheridan start will cause boos to rain down… I don't know. I wish I could dismiss that out of hand but after last year I can't. I don't think it would happen right away, but if Sheridan starts and they go three-and-out a few times Michigan Stadium will be 100% discontent and 30-40% booing vociferously.
However, I still think that's highly unlikely and made more so by the recent burst of Denard Robinson hype that sees folks tagging posts "not denard" when they aren't about Denard.
2) I'm not sure if this has been talked about in the blog at all but is there any concern that RR doesn't have much of a coaching tree underneath him despite being a HC for a decent amount of time? Meaning, is he just surrounding himself with friends who will remain loyal rather than talented coaches that aspire to move up the coaching ladder and can get the best out of their players. I say this because of the "fundamentals" issue you had with the Purdue UFR from last year when our corners were opening their hips towards the sidelines and basically giving up 15 yards at a clip when you mentioned that they were "coached" to do this.
I don't think Rodriguez has had much of an opportunity to grow a coaching tree. He spent seven years at West Virginia but the bulk of that time WVU was not the sort of power program that has its assistants picked off. Even when it was people were understandably waiting to see whether the spread 'n' shred was just a flash in the pan. There were only a couple years in which members of Rodriguez's staff were seriously considered for jobs. At that point Butch Jones did land the Central Michigan job. And I guess Bill Stewart is technically another branch, if one likely to be short-lived.
The circumstances conspired against Rodriguez: his teams ran an exotic base defense headed by a guy who liked West Virginia so much he stayed there when Rodriguez left. Calvin Magee is an offensive coordinator under a head coach who is widely known as an offensive innovator and playcaller. Also, he's only been an offensive coordinator for four years. If he got hired during his tenure at West Virginia whoever picked him up would be taking a huge chance on a guy without much of a track record.
Usually coaching trees sprout up from coaches in the midst of long tenures at power programs; Rodriguez will probably have one at some point. Just not yet.
I am FINALLY getting to travel up (yes I live in the horrible state below Michigan) for a game (the Indiana game to be exact) and I am wondering if you could give me any help on where would be my best bet for parking and/or what to expect in general. I have waited over 20 years to make it to a game at the Big House and instead of being completely stoked now I'm busy concerning myself with parking, the trip, etc. Any help you can offer would be extremely appreciated. I've googled it and found out that all the parking lots near the stadium are permit parking only so I'm just trying to figure out where my best option is.
I'm not the best person to ask because I just go to the same place I always go, but whenever I go on the road I find the best idea is to just suck it up and give someone some money. You'll find that every lawn within a mile of the stadium will allow you to park on it for a nominal fee, and usually this will provide ample tailgating space for your needs. If you're just a small group and don't mind shelling out $40, the golf course is widely regarded as one of the nicest tailgating spaces in the Big Ten.
Head to the stadium an hour before the game to catch the warmups and band; you can bring in bottled water; you are advised to hit the bathroom beforehand.
As for postgame activities: there's not much close to the stadium. If you've got your car somewhere you can leave it your best bet is to walk to main street and head north, whereupon you will strike the restaurant/bar heart of Ann Arbor. Suggestions: Prickly Pear and Middle Kingdom, which are just north of William. If you go to Prickly Pear be advised that though buffalo meat sounds like a good idea, it's not. If you're staying overnight go to Angelo's in the morning and get something with hollandaise on it.