"Northwestern fans can be both heartened and disheartened by the loss to Minnesota just like how nineteenth-century resurrectionists were heartened when they pried a heart from a freshly-buried corpse and then disheartened it when they sold it to a disreputable anatomist."
SUCH a good movie. You chivalric fool; as if the way one fell down mattered. On Wednesday this week I had to put our family dog down—he was 14 and been slowing down since we lost my dad, and he had a stroke during the night, and it was sad but undeniably the best way and best time to go. Afterwards I was supposed to collect my daughter, get the roundtable posted, then get to the facility that's trying to get my Mom able to walk again within the impossibly small window her insurance company will pay for it. I didn't want to engage the sympathy choir, nor was I ready to go fixing things or move on. Instead I wandered into a breakfast place and ordered a coffee, and stared at texts of things people say when your heretofore ridiculously fortunate family is going through the mother of all mean regressions.
SUCH a good movie.
You chivalric fool; as if the way one fell down mattered. On Wednesday this week I had to put our family dog down—he was 14 and been slowing down since we lost my dad, and he had a stroke during the night, and it was sad but undeniably the best way and best time to go. Afterwards I was supposed to collect my daughter, get the roundtable posted, then get to the facility that's trying to get my Mom able to walk again within the impossibly small window her insurance company will pay for it. I didn't want to engage the sympathy choir, nor was I ready to go fixing things or move on. Instead I wandered into a breakfast place and ordered a coffee, and stared at texts of things people say when your heretofore ridiculously fortunate family is going through the mother of all mean regressions.
After a time I struck up a conversation with an older dude who from his Michigan hat I identified with the super Michigan-stickered car outside. He was, of course, a current player's dad, and other than his kid who's the best player in the entire world, he had a lot to say about the darkness hanging over this program that twinkling lights could only temporarily keep at bay.
He echoed a lot of what another player's brother said in a diary earlier in the week:
The program is in shambles. Bo is not coming back and it's time to move on. The cult like adherence to tradition and "this is Michigan" is the very reason we are plummeting towards rock bottom. We don't need another Bo or another Michigan Man, we need a competent, forward thinking administration who will take advantage of the massive institutional advantages Michigan provides.
The players are acknowledging reality while doing everything they can to make sure there's a team tomorrow. We got a glimpse of this from Gardner's aneurism of leadership
…and another from a letter to the players by their senior punter:
"Play for the guys in your class who you texted the day you committed, and live in the dorms with. Play for the elementary kids back home whom you've never even met, but know who you are and where you play. Play for your high school coaches, the guys you've met at combines, your family, your friends. Finally, play for yourself. Pride in yourself means that, win or lose, you worked and competed as hard as you possibly could until the schedule provided no more games to play."
When the fall is all that is, it matters.
[After the jump, I know. You know I know. I know you know I know. We know Henry knows, and Henry knows we know it. We're a knowledgeable family.]
Complying with the Norfleet Atomic Dog Act of 2560. What's better than Dennis Norfleet? Dennis Norfleet holding bread!
Regents meeting stuff. Not a whole lot happened other than a couple of students bombing Brandon hard; they did so more professionally than Brandon handled the Shane Morris incident.
Schissel reiterated his disappointment with the way the Shane Morris incident was handled; Andrea Newman publicly supported Brandon (the earliest we can terminate her status as regent is 2018, unfortunately); Mark Bernstein was the guy who sounded like he was talking the most sense:
“The Shane Morris incident, the poor performance of the football team, that’s like a spark in a very, very dry forest. And there’s not a lot of water around right now," Bernstein said. "I think the actions of the athletic department, I believe (some) generally agree, have drained whatever reservoir of goodwill there is with Michigan football in particular. So it makes navigating this issue far more difficult.
“Therefore, it makes this moment much more complex. Is that the fault of the athletic director? Partially. But at the same time, we all care deeply about this university. We care about the student-athletes who are working hard every day at the game they love. We care about our students, our fans, our alums. We want to get this right. And that’s why it’s essential that the board support the president’s deliberative, methodical approach to this to figure out the best course of action.”
He offered a no comment when asked whether he supports Brandon, which is as close as you'll get to a "hell no" in this situation.
Yes, it is incredibly frustrating that the wheels are turning so slowly here—this is a situation in which Michigan is likely to be searching for the most important employee in the department in six weeks, with an ideal candidate probably available. If Michigan can't take its shot at Harbaugh because Brandon's not quite on the cart you'll hear the million-strong facepalm across the state.
The impression the meeting left was still bad for the AD. Baumgardner:
There's no hiding it any longer. Thursday's meeting was standing-room only. Every major media outlet in the state was represented, most brought more than one person. And most left with one clear thought in their mind.
Brandon's future at Michigan appears to be in real jeopardy.
Thursday's meeting was a public, formal airing of grievances about the environment that's been created around Michigan's athletic department, and it left no stone unturned.
This wasn't just about the handling of the Shane Morris injury, or the athletic department's public relations debacle that soon followed. It wasn't just about the variety of stunts -- from skywriters to fireworks to ticket prices -- pulled by this department. It wasn't just about the lack of communication internally and externally. And it wasn't just about the fact that the sense of community -- and culture -- surrounding Michigan athletics appears to be on life support.
It was about all of it.
For the record, any buyout of Brandon's guaranteed contract likely will cost $3 million or so, not including the refreshments or confetti. But any concerns about backlash from major donors might have been assuaged by last weekend's alumni gatherings surrounding the Penn State game.
Brandon was noticeably absent as Stephen Ross, the real-estate magnate whose $200-million donation to the university last fall included $100 million earmarked for a new athletic campus, took part in a question-and-answer session with university president Mark Schlissel, who reiterated his "disappointment" in the way the Morris situation was handled.
I got a report from this meeting in which it felt like Brandon was not going to make it, FWIW.
After the regent's meeting, Brandon released a statement about how he looked forward to "repairing" his relationship with the students and announced a significant cut in ticket prices.
He also said the was looking forward to going for a walk and felt "happy."
Stitt happened. I did not live tweet the Colorado School of Mines game because I don't get CBS Sports. /shakes fist at UVerse.
But it went well, as Bob Stitt kind of hilariously took on a team coached by John L Smith:
Mines played Fort Lewis, John L. Smith's team. Smith's Skyhawks had just ended Colorado State-Pueblo's 42-game regular season winning streak, but they had no answers whatsoever for the Mines attack. The Orediggers gained 662 yards, scored touchdowns on each of the first four possessions, and cruised to a 56-14 win. Fort Lewis probably should have scheduled Homecoming for last week.
The Orediggers are 7-0, and oh my I have to sit down
"I treat fourth-down conversions as a turnover," Stitt told me in 2012. "We were 58 percent on fourth down [in 2012], went for 36 of them. Our opponents went for 18. We’re a lot higher percentage than 58 when it’s fourth-and-5 or less. I’ll even go for it on fourth-and-8 when it’s a situation where we’re on the 50 or their 40.
"That’s a turnover! If you get it, it’s like the defense just got you the ball on their 50-yard line. We’ve got to be able to have confidence as an offense that -– hey, when we get around the 50, Coach is gonna go for it – and the defense has to have it in their head that, hey, they’re gonna go for it, and if they don’t get it, we have to get excited and make sure the opponent doesn’t get points out of it."
Once you get past the Harbaugh/Mullen tier it gets very thin very quickly this year and a lot of the guys you'd take a poke at afterwards seem like they would be hard to get—lot of dudes with good job security at their alma mater. So… yeah. Bob Stitt.
(Yes, that is Kevin Sumlin.)
Chance of any chance. Hoke's return by the numerical projections:
In other words
(Although this is pessimistic now that Indiana is apparently starting a Pokemon named Zander Diamont at QB.)
That's not actually good. One of the good things about Brandon cited in an ESPN article:
The football troubles outweighed the building upgrades that Hamilton oversaw while taking Tennessee's athletic department from a $750,000 deficit to a $9 million surplus in his time at its helm. They outweigh the two top-10 finishes in the Directors' Cup, which measures a school's success in all varsity sports.
Michigan also has been in the Directors' Cup top 10 twice under Brandon and made a trip to the men's Final Four
Michigan finished in the top five every year from 1999 to 2009.
All you need to know about the last couple of years in hockey. I mean:
Everyone finishes the lift, heads to the ice through a locker room, one with a complete makeover from the last season. Gone is the sign that said, “Win the next game.” It’s been replaced with key words such as “Unity” and “Respect.”
I'm not a big chemistry guy when looking for explanations as to why things go wrong, but I make an exception in this case.
That would be nice. Hockey megaprospect Auston Matthews is "50/50" between college and the OHL:
'97 C Auston Matthews of NTDP tells me he's 50/50 on college vs. WHL. Says he's talking to BC, BU, Denver, Michigan.
— Mark Divver (@MarkDivver) October 16, 2014
Don Granato, the U18s' head coach, says he's "leaning" to college, FWIW.
Mathews, like Zach Werenski, Jack Eichel, and Noah Hanifin, would have to accelerate an entire year of school to arrive on campus next fall. Like BU super-recruit Eichel, Matthews is playing with the U18s despite his young age.
Interesting dynamic here: the NCAA's new autonomy push should give the Big Ten schools an edge against smaller conferences and the OHL. A couple weeks ago the league announced a raft of benefits including full cost of attendance scholarships and a "lifetime educational commitment" that stands in stark contrast to the OHL's current policy, in which playing pro hockey on any level for more than a year makes your scholarship package evaporate.
Meanwhile a school like BU is big time in hockey but in conferences that are not going to follow suit; the OHL will also have to step up its game to maintain its level of attractiveness.
HELLO ANN ARBOR. Ennui levels reaching critical.
FORMATION NOTES: Michigan introduced a true 3-3-5 package, not the standup Frank Clark stuff we've seen before. Here's a weird example with Godin, the guy who was usually the nose in this formation, shaded over a tackle. This was for hijinks; more of ten it just looked like a regular 3-3-5.
Other than that, standard.
SUBSTITUTION NOTES: A shakeup on the line as Charlton started, as did Mone and Wormley. Henry was out with an injury (presumably one to his thumb); Glasgow was absent for most of the game but then came on late and played well. Super, super weird. Beyer reclaimed most of his PT by halftime; Mone and Wormley were spotted by Hurst and Godin, getting almost equal time.
LB was the usual, except when Michigan went to a new 3-3-5 package Gedeon was the third option instead of Ross.
Secondary was Lewis 100% of the time I think with Taylor getting more PT than Countess; Countess and Hollowell split nickel snaps. I think it was Clark and Wilson at safety with Thomas occasionally spotting Clark but given the way this played out the safeties weren't on the screen much.
[After THE JUMP: Penn State not so much.]
[Note: Jamie's got the week off, you don't]
In honor of Roundtree naming a Tate as his favorite football delivery boy (said stamp of approval given this past weekend at Marlin's event) I am going to take my shot at…
…by taking all the Tates this week in our fantasy partner's Millionaire Maker pool. Golden Tate because in a Calvin-less world the Lions have to throw to somebody, and the TEs are banged up. Ben Tate because I believe he'll be back and his price tag apparently doesn't. Brandon Tate comes super cheap and is getting more targets while A.J. Green's dealing with a toe issue. It's a gamble, but when you're trying to go home with…
…it takes some Tate-level swagger.
- $2,200,000 prize pool.
- First place wins $1,000,000
- $27 entry fee.
- Top 15,500 are paid.
- Starts on Sunday, October, 19th at 1:00 EST.
- Salary Cap Style Drafting. $50,000 to select 9 spots. 8 players and 1 defense.
- Roster Format: 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 Flex, 1 Defense.
- First time depositors at DraftKings receive a 100% bonus up to $600
- You have to go to class.
There will be more on today's regents meeting in the days to come, as there's still much to parse through—the live streams I tried to view missed much of the action due to connectivity issues. I'll note a few important things right now, however.
President Mark Schlissel opened the meeting by saying he was "deeply disappointed" in the athletic department's initial response to the Shane Morris controversy, and he's still in the midst of evaluating the AD before making any potential changes. Importantly, the regents stated they support Schissel's mission to fix the issues in the department. It didn't sound like a firing is imminent, as Schlissel is still working to educate himself about the department; it also didn't sound like there are many road blocks left before a change would hypothetically be made.
Central Student Government president Bobby Dishell had more pointed statements, beginning with "the athletic department has broken its trust" with the students. He then cited a student survey—answered by an impressive 5,208 students, for about double the average response rate—that's been released in full via MLive (PDF link).
It does not reflect well upon the athletic department.
Had student seating remained general admission in 2014, less than 9,000 students would have bought season tickets this year (as opposed to under 12,000 this year under assigned seating).
However, even fewer students intend to purchase next year at a price of $295. To maintain a student section of just under 12,000 students, the Athletic Department needs to drop student tickets to roughly $210, or $30 per game next year. To regain a student section of 20,000 students, the Athletic Department needs to drop the price of student tickets to roughly $150 next year.
The department, at least, has agreed to "significantly" lower prices for student tickets next year, though an exact figure hasn't been determined. That may be a step towards repairing this regime's relationship with the student body, but the other results from the survey make it appear that it's broken beyond repair.
Though the Athletic Director was never mentioned, by name or by title, in the survey, David Brandon is mentioned 1,208 times by respondents (the phrase “Fire Brandon” was used 110 times by respondents). Almost none of the respondents have positive things to say about Mr. Brandon’s tenure as Athletic Director.
The CSG put forth several recommendations, including lowering ticket prices, expanding the student section in the lower bowl for basketball, being "forthcoming and transparent" when crises occur, and shifting "away from commercialization" in the department.
Most damning, perhaps, are the word clouds published based on responses to the following questions [click the word clouds to embiggen]:
1. Before coming to the University, what is one word that you would use to describe Michigan Football?
2. What is one word you would use to describe Michigan Football today?
I'd say those speak for themselves.
Previously: Gardening Lessons
While the rest of the roster deals with a good amount of turnover, point guard is a comforting constant for Michigan this season thanks to the return of starter Derrick Walton and invaluable backup Spike Albrecht.
Although both point guards return, their roles—especially Walton's—should be quite different with the departure of Nik Stauskas, who ran the show on offense for much of 2013-14. Caris LeVert will continue to handle the ball quite a bit himself, but Walton will either be the second or third option when he's on the court, and with Stauskas gone Albrecht's shooting off the bench becomes more valuable, as well.
These two will also be asked to provide much of the leadership for this young squad. A true junior who recently turned all of 22 years old, Spike is the oldest player on this team—I KNOW, RIGHT?—and John Beilein has discussed his importance as a leader several times this offseason, including at today's Big Ten Media Day:
Q. I was wondering if you could talk about Spike and how you've seen him develop since he got on campus, particularly from last season to this season?
JOHN BEILEIN: It's amazing the confidence he has shown since the day he walked in the door. I mean, even when he came for his visit where he was what some people thought was an unlikely recruit, he was laughing about how unlikely people thought this was. And then every time he walks on the floor, he just -- he's got incredible confidence that "I can play at this level," and he's shown that so well. He's a pleasure to coach. He's become a really excellent team leader right now. I'm really leaning on him to be the pulse of the team.
Spike is the pulse, Walton the burgeoning floor general. Hit the jump for a deeper dive into what to expect from them this season.