It's the hard offseason now, with nothing happening outside of recruiting until August. So it's meta time. Apologies to anyone who couldn't care less about this.
A couple weeks ago I was on John Bacon's show talking about the demise of the Ann Arbor News and its effect on me. I think I surprised Bacon and co-host Richard Deitsch (of SI!) by not dancing on its grave. To paraphrase myself, I said that one of my roles on this blog is as an aggregator of content and things that reduced the content I could aggregate were negatives. I am not in competition with the Ann Arbor News.
It's an odd situation. I'm not really in competition with anyone. I very rarely feel threatened by the presence of anyone else's content. Sometimes I feel guilty because I'm not covering basketball like UMHoops or Varsity Blue is pumping out bi-weekly recruiting updates instead of weekly ones. But when Evan Smotrycz commits and I've got to put together a googlestalk and UMHoops already has one up it's just time I can spend on other content. I'm just a guy.
I have the feeling that other people are in competition with me, and with Dylan and Tim (x2) and Paul and various others, that they resent the thriving Michigan blogosphere as a thing that reduces the need for their services. But I don't feel like I'm in competition with them. It's a strangely unbalanced situation. Their content helps me. Their lack of content helps me. Whatever happens, traffic goes up and my mom becomes incrementally less petrified at the career path I've chosen.
So I'm not put out, especially because—at least when it comes to sports—I still think the coming demise of the Ann Arbor News is considerably overplayed. The overlords of the new thing that's not a newspaper, except twice a week when it is, have stated they intend to cover Michigan football and basketball much like the News did, and they're thinking about hockey. Other sports will have to fend for themselves, I guess, but it's not like their existing coverage was extensive. The net change might be a couple fewer people at press conferences and slightly fewer links on mgolicious; it won't be the end of history.
Others disagree. Maize 'n' Brew took the opportunity to pen a dissertation-length post on the chaotic period we're entering. It's really long and thus hard to summarize in a pithy blockquote but let's try:
The current information distribution system (for college football at least) is set up in three tiers: The University (school, coaches and players) possess the information; the credentialed press gets the first crack at it; and the rest of us are left to sort through what reaches us. That credentialed access let the News into the room, to observe first person what was going on. They had the right to pepper Rodriguez, Beilein, Amaker and Carr with questions and receive answers, where bloggers do not. The system is still set up to allow nearly unfettered access to the print media. And in return it bears the responsibility of using that access to relay the information we all crave.
Certainly any person with a notepad or microphone can record the players' and coach's quotes and stick them up on a piece of paper. But the Ann Arbor News didn't do that. They didn't give us the canned quotes we see on the University's websites. They weren't under the employ of the University to give us a happy picture. They gave us perspective on what was said and how questions were answered. They asked tough questions on decisions and results. They could observe the reactions from coaches, gage responses first hand, and had the ability to ask the questions where we do not.
This isn't going to be much of a surprise, but I largely disagree with the above, and with much in the MnB post. A few paragraphs on Dave asserts that you can't find stories along the lines of "Player X was horrid or Coach Y blew his cool at an inopportune time" on Rivals or Scout, but when has a newspaper ever published an honest assessment of a player's performance? I'm not talking single-sentence 600 word columns written by provocateurs here, I'm talking something along the lines of UFR, if less obsessed: Left Guard X struggled in pass protection. Coach Y should have gone for it, here are the numbers that justify it. It's single sentence paragraph time:
This has never happened.
Maybe Scout and Rivals are incrementally more dependent on being in the good graces of the athletic department, but the differences in practice are small. The Ann Arbor News' academics investigation, if you want to consider that a positive and a thing the internet can't do, is a vast outlier in a sea of game recaps and press conference rephrasing. And it's hard to say that sort of thing will go away when the only other entity around that's doing much in the way of investigative work is Yahoo.
The information PLANTS CRAVE either comes directly from press conferences or random people on the internet these days. The press conferences will still exist, and coaches will still be asked about injuries and other tangible things and then blather away minutes of our lives with "We have held practices this spring." And every once in a while someone will provide an unwise snippet of an answer that will blow up into a media firestorm because everyone's gotten so damn boring there's nothing else to talk about.
Heck, Jim Carty's blog is taglined this:
Fulfillment of a legal dream or an overdue realization you can't spend your life asking football players the same questions indefinitely? Definitely a bit of both ...
99% of sports journalism as practiced by newspapers is repetitive, inefficient grunt work. Sports stories come in three flavors, as far as I can tell:
- This game happened in this way.
- This was said at a press conference.
- Player X is a nice young man.
There's a reason everyone wants a column, right?
As for "tough questions," they have little value. This isn't 1930 anymore and you can't hop on a bus with the baseball stars of the day and get unfettered access to their lives. You get packaging. You get this:
BHGP is running a contest to see if anyone can condense these 81 seconds into something more concise than "We have held practices this spring, and players have competed for positions in the offense." Just showing up at a press conference and asking about the head coaches' nepotism doesn't do anything constructive, especially when your tough question is coming from a position of ignorance relative to the person you're asking. Tough questions always boil down to "why did you lose?"
So what are we losing when the Ann Arbor News goes away? I don't think it will be much. Even in the extreme version of newspaper implosion where the Detroit News goes away and the Free Press is piloted by a skeleton crew you're still going to have people at these press conferences from Scout and Rivals and the Daily and at least one Detroit newspaper and AnnArbor.com asking the standard set of questions.
The demand for information about sports isn't going to disappear. If there's a void it'll get filled, possibly by this site if it continues to grow. In that case the only difference is going to be more questions about that damn formation where the slot receiver is covered up.
It's come down to this.
Mingo versus Macadangdang. Barkevious versus Iris. A man who spurned Michigan for LSU versus an actual recent alum. EDSBS vs MGoBlog. For the 2009 Name of the Year. I can't rightly tell you to vote one way or the other, because both are awesome. There are no real losers here, except Orson Swindle if Mingo loses. In that case he has to shave off all his chest hair and send me a parka made from it. (What will he do with the leftovers? Feed Africa.)
Vote. Vote well, and don't vote 7,000 times because that's not cool.
Weapon of choice. Ace Anbender assembled a highlight video of Tate Forcier's spring game exploits:
Needs more Christopher Walken; otherwise excellent work. Most impressive to me was Forcier's little sling to Moundros in the flat. He's got a guy in his face and needs to put the ball on the money for Moundros to get anything out of it; he puts it right where it needs to be and Moundros can rumble for eight or so yards. That sort of short-range precision will help the offense immensely; too many times last year simple short passes turned into disaster. See: backwards lateral against Notre Dame, etc etc etc.
(Headline reference for the sadly deprived.)
The evidence lies in piles all around us. One has merely to pick it up and provide a cursory examination. I'm calling fair use on this because it is awesome and unbelievable. Ohio State's scrimmaging and the offense has just driven for a score that brings them within one. And then($):
Then, on the final series of the scrimmage, Pryor was whistled for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty while jawing with defensive lineman Cameron Heyward with the offense poised to tie the game pending a point-after attempt. The penalty knocked the kick back to the 25-yard line, and Aaron Pettrey’s attempt sailed wide right to hand the defense a 56-55 victory.
So far in the brief, eventful career of Terrelle Pryor he's gotten in postgame near-riots after two high school basketball games, pioneered the drama-queen recruiting extension game, trash-talked Illinois fans, cried on the bench after blowing the Penn State game, and now he's taking unsportsmanlike conduct penalties for jawing at his own teammates in a scrimmage. Wheee!
Someone should start a Terrelle Pryor AK-47/Lint Roller Rampage Threat Level. You know, just in case.
DUDE: And you know Pryor has emotional problems!
WALTER: You mean, other than being a Buckeye?
DUDE: He's fragile, man! He's very fragile!
Lax bloggin'. It appears that Michigan swimming blog MGoSwim is no more; the registrations lapsed and domain tasters have replaced it with an ad-laced landing page featuring hotttt chicks…
…but there is another niche sport blog out there named in the classic "take MGoBlue and change it slightly" style: M Flow Blue, a blog dedicated to the very successful club lacrosse team. They're just getting ramped up; if you're interested in throwing little balls at high speeds I suggest you check them out.
Who is Jack Kennedy? One of the more mysterious mysteries of the spring game was the guy wearing 18 and playing quarterback. Despite being in a live-fire cannon fodder jersey, Jack Kennedy looked significantly better than nominal scholarship quarterback (and possessor of mad flow) David Cone. Surely this man must have a background? Eh… not so much.
Kennedy is apparently a 6 foot, 170 lb. freshman walk-on from Walled Lake Central H.S.. Kennedy is not listed on the spring roster on the team's website nor was a bio included in the Spring Football Media Guide.
Is it bad that our walk-on with no past is bigger than our anointed savior? Eh… maybe.
This story is some sort of weird karma on a thousand different levels:
Illinois basketball player Alex Legion was arrested Monday night for driving on a suspended license.
An Illinois Department of Intercollegiate Athletics official said Legion’s license was suspended because of an unpaid moving violation ticket in Michigan. Legion is a native of Detroit.
You're probably well aware that Legion was Tommy Amaker's on-again-off-again-on-again-off-again final recruit, directed by God to go to Kentucky for a single semester and now a conscience-free midrange jumper specialist with the Illini.
But do you remember what happened a few years back after Illinois coach Bruce Weber was taking heat for the existence of Jamar Smith, Illini basketball player? Smith had nearly killed a teammate in a drunk-driving accident but remained on the Illinois team, prompting reporters to ask about it and Weber to act like a fool:
Weber also pointed out that “a kid in a program got arrested a couple weeks ago and he played in the next game.” Without naming him, Weber was referring to Michigan’s Lester Abram, who was stopped for speeding, then arrested for an outstanding warrant. That happened two days before Abram played for the Wolverines at Illinois.
“I don’t know if anything was talked about with him,” Weber said, his voice rising. “I don’t think so because I get a lot of feedback. You’re going to hold us to high standards but that kid got arrested and he played.”
Jamar Smith was the guy who drove his car into a tree, injuring teammate Brian Carlwell, who was a passenger. Oh, and Smith was drunk. Oh, and Smith believed that Carlwell was dead (he had a severe concussion), yet drove the car ... with Carlwell in it ... back home. Oh, and Smith went into his apartment, leaving Carlwell unconscious in his car.
Bound by infallible Logic, Weber has no choice but to do to Legion what he did to Smith: suspend him for the year and ship him to a directional Illinois school. Fret not, Alex Legion. God, unlike the Battlestar Galatica writers, has a plan. It involves the Missouri Valley Conference.
At long last, FL S Marvin Robinson has committed to Michigan. Informative update coming.
Informative Update: That's right, kids: omg shirtless.
GURU RATINGS & CHATTER
|4*, #14 S, #147 overall||4*, #99 overall||150 watch list|
Marvin Robinson has been on Michigan fans' radar so long that people were worried the transition from Carr to Rodriguez would hurt Michigan's standing in his recruitment. His name first popped up after his freshman year of high school, when he attended Michigan's summer camp and was so ridiculously impressive he picked up an offer. Robinson was equally impressed with Michigan, naming M his leader early and late before finally announcing what he'd told the coaches at least as early as the Michigan State game last year: he's committed.
Michigan fans were ready to proclaim Robinson their big five-star catch whenever Robinson's commitment became official, but as you can see above… eh… not so much. Robinson's rankings were the most disappointing amongst a wide array of disappointments when they were announced. It's hard to see how he can go from this…
On defense, there's no question after seeing Marvin Robinson of Eagle Lake (Fla.) Lake Region on Saturday and Sunday that he's going to be one of the best in the 2010 class. He made big play after big play in drills and then in one-on-one battles. He was the one guy who was consistently able to hang with both the physical and speedy backs in the camp.
…to this from another camp where he was a rising junior competing against seniors…
"Marvin Robinson has a lot of upside to him as far as his strength and motor," said defensive backs coach Eugene Jackson. "He was the best out there and he's very coachable."
Lining up at safety, Robinson asserted himself in one-on-ones and was one of the more physically imposing defensive backs.
…to the #5 rising junior in Florida to the offers you'll see in the next section to "eh, bottom of the top 100." About the only thing I can find that would point to a drop is the 4.6 40 time listed on his Scout profile and at ESPN.
One thing to watch is a potential move to linebacker. Another evaluation from that same camp from Rivals' Barry Every:
6-2, 205, OLB Eagle Lake (FL) Lake Region 2010
Assets: Has a tremendous burst and excellent ball skills.
What was most impressive at camp: For a guy who is making the change from safety to linebacker, he sure looked a natural.
Areas for improvement: He just needs to get reps at his new position because all the tools are there.
On the Hoof: Has good height, long arms and wide shoulders. Robinson's frame will fill out and enable him to play all three linebacker positions.
Robinson could be ticketed for this LB/SS hybrid spot. ESPN's strangely muted scouting report—I'm used to them saying things like "Isaiah Bell melts iron with his mind!"—mentions position versatility:
Robinson is a valuable athlete that rarely comes off the field. He is one of those athletes that may not be great at any one thing but is good at everything. He has good size both in terms of height and weight. Plays multiple positions and is a very talented skilled athlete. As a safety plays the fee safety poison well and doesn't get fooled on play action passes. Intelligent center fielder that recognizes combination routes and reacts accordingly.
Maybe he's great at being awesome, huh, ESPN? Did you ever think of that?
This article was published in June, ten months ago, before Robinson's junior year:
Robinson, who has been the top-safety prospect at two camps this summer, received his first offer from Michigan, then Ohio State offered and at the end of the May evaluation period, USC and Florida offered him a scholarship.
Tennessee had also thrown their hat in the ring by then. So: offers from Michigan, Ohio State, USC, and Florida before his junior year of high school. When he was 15! Damn.
If it matters, further offers came from BC, UCLA, Purdue, Nebraska, UNC, Clemson, and so forth and so on.
Robinson's junior season was fruitful, and multiplied:
Marvin Robinson, the 6-foot-1, 204 pound four-star safety from Lake Region High School in Eagle Lake, Fla., finished his junior season with 98 tackles, four interceptions, four blocked punts and two fumbles caused. He also had five touchdowns on offense with three rushing scores and two receiving.
FAKE 40 TIME
As mentioned above, Robinson's 40 times are in the realistic for humans range and this may explain his unexpectedly low rankings.
The tubes… they have nothing!
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Robinson is good and should show up college-ready after four years of starting and all those early offers. He'll be physically ready and about as mentally prepped as you can be as a true freshman; he, I believe, is also planning on an early enrollment. If he's going to step directly into the starting lineup, though, it's probably not going to be in the secondary, where Michigan currently has no seniors. People seem to want to move him to linebacker, and Michigan's got this new LB/SS hybrid thing Robinson might be good at. The tentative projection here is that he moves to that spot and is in a battle for the starting job immediately, pending Michigan picking up a couple of quality safety recruits to go with him.
As for his ratings: it'll be interesting to see what happens with them. It's possible he was just an early bloomer who got college ready super fast and has a lower ceiling than true five star sorts. It's also possible the recruiting sites are overrating a couple of 40 times to their detriment. I assume he'll end up at an all star game or two; the results will be interesting.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
It doesn't really matter whether Robinson is a safety or a linebacker because Michigan would take either yes please thanks much. Given the depth in the secondary, where a true freshman starts at safety next to a converted cornerback and a redshirt freshman walk-on is on the two-deep at corner until the instant Justin Turner enrolls, this will slow Michigan's pursuit of other defensive backs in no way whatsoever.
There are at least three slots left for defensive backs and if they took five more I'd be okay with it. The good news is they've got a lot of excellent options heavily favoring them. Michigan is the public, heavy leader for PA CB Cullen Christian and FL CB Lo Wood, either of whom could drop at any time. MI CB Dior Mathis hasn't been as explicit but is also widely expected to end up at M, and then there's an array of other targets like FL CB Spencer Boyd and PA CB Brandon Ifill, Christian's teammate. Robinson's commit looks to be the first in a parade of four-star secondary commits over the next couple months.
OTHER GUY NAMED MARVIN ROBINSON
His list of clubs, including a spell at Walsall, reads like a gazetteer of English soccer and he has suffered two broken legs and damaged his lungs.
Now, ten years on from that memorable Highbury debut, Big Marv has replaced the Premiership with the more mundane surroundings of the Blue Square North and home is now Redditch United’s Valley Stadium.
Congrats, Walsall: for some reason you're the club picked out to highlight Robinson's hard-luck life. Random biographical note that may sully your opinion of me but isn't as bad as Magic: The Gathering: I took Redditch to Champions League glory in Football Manager a couple years back.