This is always difficult, but I have to turn my sarcasm off for a moment.
This is a helmet currently being auctioned on eBay. It, of course, is a beautiful Michigan winged helmet signed by everyone from Jeff Kastl to Alan Branch to Zoltan Mesko. Helmet proceeds benefit the Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance. This is a rare opportunity to get Zoltan The Inconceivable's autograph and support a good cause. Big ballers are advised to bid away.
The NHL Draft came and went over the weekend. Three Michigan players went in the first round: Trevor Lewis at #17 to the Kings, Mark Mitera at #19 to the Ducks, and Chris Summers at #29 to Phoenix. Goalie Billy Sauer went in the seventh round to the Avs.
Oft-burned Michigan hockey fans are leery of that Lewis-to-the-Kings thing, as over the past few years LA has cruelly ripped both Mike Cammalleri and Jeff Tambellini away from Michigan in the final runup to the season. Mitigating that somewhat: Cammalleri and Tambellini were both seniors-to-be and not, say, freshmen. LA has also let Brian Boyle develop away at BC. Chances are Lewis will stick around for three years, and I'll take that from an NHL first-rounder.
The other development is Billy Sauer's precipitous plunge down the board. Before the season his name was being tossed around as a second or third round pick, but apparently scouts do watch games. The door is open for Steve Jakiel.
A hat-tip so massive that it's more properly a sombrero-tip must go to Yost Built for the ultimate response to any Penn State argument (SFW but w/ sound). The next time some half-deranged guy in blue and white approaches you to scream about Big Ten conspiracies or Lloyd Carr's two seconds, just show 'em that and they will admit that they deserve to win no more football games ever.
Oregon uniforms: still dumb. Everyone's put in their two cents on the sheet-metal and acid-inspired Duck unis, but only Uni Watch has actually talked to the people responsible for them. Most revelatory passage:
Nike's Oregon program is all geared toward catering to the athlete â€” not just in terms of the uniform's performance-based aspects (which makes sense), but also in terms of aesthetics (which doesn't, at least to me). They hold focus groups with the players, have the players submit design sketches, and so on. So if you think these unis look like they were designed by a bunch of 20-year-olds, well, to a certain extent they were. "They want to feel intimidating, like gladiators coming into the arena," Van Horne told me. And about the diamondplate pattern, Hatfield said, "It's basically a graphic representation of toughness. The players want to look tough â€“ it's a tough sport, there's a lot of intimidation." Frankly, I think this is all pretty stupid, but hey, 20-year-olds are stupid.
Remember when you played around with NCAA's create-a-school mode and made the Peoria Pink Pom-Pom Pirates? Yeah, this is like that. Except horrifyingly real. And this quote is the only thing I've ever read that has made me seriously question Michigan's uniforms:
The Nike people are well aware that the approach they've taken with Oregon and with some other schools wouldn't fly with some the country's more conservative programs. "The University of Oregon is willing to partner with us on this approach, and I don't think you'd find that in too many Division I programs," Hatfield told me. "If we walked into Joe Paterno's office and said, 'How about putting "Penn State" on the left leg of the pants?,' we'd probably get tarred and feathered. We think it's great that there are these storied programs around the country that have tradition, and you just don't mess with them. I love Michigan's uniforms; I love the simplicity of Penn State."
Ack! Change 'em now! (Lukas says he pointed out to Nike that they did indeed "mess" with Michigan's uniforms by adding useless frippery in the form of that damn piping.)
Anyway, the Best Oregon Uni Zinger Award, 2006 edition, goes to the Georgia Sports Blog:
This is the answer to the not-so-hypothetical question 'how hard do you have to try to be the state's primary punchline when your in-state rival is the Beavers?'
Um... guys... You go one of two ways on Ohio State fans: they should probably remember that whole "Cooper" thing or they have the attention span and memory of confused ferrets. Your answer is probably the latter, since
- Fans of this particular team with two-count-em-two returning defensive starters are getting their hubris in while they can by batting around the idea of a "two-game season," and
- The two games the Buckeyes figure to actually play next year are against Texas... and against Iowa. When someone pops his head up to speak as the voice of reason it's to chide us for not believing in Penn State.
I hate you guys. I hate you guys so much.
Update 6/15: Linked to David Arnold article and a second -- dude is fast -- plus one on commit Vince Helmuth's further attempts to throw things really far. Removed SC LB Scotty Cooper (Clemson), S Marshall Jones (USC), CB Marcus Gilchrist (dropped us), OH S Sidney Glover (IU), NC RB Marcus Houston (NC). Linked to article on Mitchell Schwartz. Added MI WR James Rogers as a commit; also moved TX CB Troy Woolfolk to commit. There's very little on Rogers on the internet, but Michigan Elite football has a brief story and some video. Added IL DT Josh Brent, LA DT Rolando Melancon, and CA S Malachi Lewis. Linked to another one of those big ol' Fox Sports articles and an article on Toney Clemons.
Editorial Opinion: Camp has come and gone with the two aforementioned commitments, who were briefly discussed earlier. There's little to be found on either at this point as both Woolfolk and Rogers are sort of sleeper types. There are no surprises on those removed from the board.
As per usual, the roundup articles on Fox Sports have a information on Michigan targets both serious and hopeful. Information from the latest:
- OK OL Matt Romine still lists Michigan and plans an unofficial visit.
- CA RB Curtis Shaw -- an offeree -- "favors Washington slightly" over a host of other schools including Michigan.
- IL OL Dave Molk received a Michigan offer at camp and "may decide by August."
- TN LB Brian Smith, a Notre Dame legacy favors (duh) Notre Dame:
"I really want to go to Notre Dame." Smith told Scout.com. "Notre Dame has always been my dream school. My dad went to school there, played football there, and I never missed a game growing up. My favorites right now are Notre Dame, Michigan, Kansas State, Missouri, Nebraska, Florida and Michigan State."
Malachi Lewis, a versatile running back/receiver/safety from Rio Mesa High in Oxnard, Calif., picked up an offer from UCLA this week, and USC could be next. Lewis also has offers from Cal, Georgia Tech, Washington, Michigan and Nebraska.
... and KS DE Christian Ballard, who apparently committed to Kansas before he realized that, uh, he could go somewhere other than Kansas.
One of the two articles on David Arnold is your fairly standard track-exploits stuff, but the other is in-depth and highly recommended and not only for its Arnold-related content, as it sheds some light on Michigan's recruting process in general...
``You need to have a great junior year; you need to go 100 percent,'' longtime Wolverines coach Lloyd Carr said. ``Because when we watch film, we watch the whole game film, and we will watch the plays that you're not involved in to see what you look like on tape.''
Carr told them to take standardized tests at least three times and to enroll in challenging courses. Michigan, he said, wants more than a great football player; the Wolverines want someone who stands out from his peers.
Arnold's also writing a journal for the Akron Beacon-Journal. The latest entry discusses his trip to Michigan camp:
We went into the indoor facility to do the 40-yard dash and vertical jump. My jump was 36-6 and I ran a 40 in 4.57 (electric timing). I ran a 4.3 something (hand-timed) in my track spikes. ... Then we went to lunch. I went with a select few that had lunch with the coaches in the team meeting room. We watched the Michigan game from this past season against Iowa.
I had to wait around to talk to coach (Lloyd) Carr. There were some guys over there, so I had to wait my turn to talk to him. He said to keep doing good work in the class, and that they're going to wait until the beginning of my senior season and evaluate my first couple of games and if everything goes well, they'll offer me then.
I'm not disappointed. I think I did all right. Pretty decent day.
Arnold, like recent commit Woolfolk, is a Michigan legacy who projects as a defensive back. Unlike Woolfolk, he does not have an offer. I'm rooting for him to get one, I mean...
... how could you not?
TSN is even higher on Michigan players and recruits than Red Line was, placing Mitera, Summers, and Lewis in the second half of the first round in both their straight talent evaluation and mock draft.
Mitera checks it a #15 in the talent evaluation and goes to the Canadiens at #16 in the mock draft. Note the contrasting takes from the CSB and ISS:
From NHL Central Scouting - Is a good skater with a smooth stride...is strong on his skates and is hard to move off the puck...good backwards skater who pivots well...makes crisp first pass and likes the long pass...effective shot blocker used in all game situations...solid hitter who finishes his checks and always gives an effort.
From ISS - He demonstrated some abilities that would warrant a high ranking and then all of a sudden he vanishes for a period of time. His size and strength are impressive and he does have some skills but urgency and a consistent effort are going to be required for him to fulfill his expectations.
CSB has him #20, but ISS is much harsher on him, ranking him #48.
Summers doesn't sneak into the top ten a la Nystrom like the Red Line mock, but he's still a solid first-rounder to McKenzie (#18). No comments from ISS but CSB says the following:
From NHL Central Scouting - Very good skater with agility, mobility and lateral quickness...has very quick feet and good balance...smooth and sure lateral mobility opens up passing lanes for him to move the puck quickly with confidence...good passer who can hit the open man...good shot from the point...showed value and versatility by playing wing at the end of the season.
He goes nineteenth to the Ducks in the mock.
And finally Trevor Lewis gets some first round hyperation, showing up at #21 on McKenzie's list and coming off the board at #25 in the Mock Draft. CSB on Lewis:
From NHL Central Scouting - Can intimidate the defence by his ability to change direction at top speed...can shoot the puck on the fly, won't hesitate to pull the trigger on the puck...scores big goals, makes big plays as the go-to guy...comes back hard to cover his man and supports his own defence down low in his own zone...good leadership qualities.
I am out for the rest of the day, but fear not. We near July. The NHL and NBA are done. The US is out of the World Cup. Monday we put away all childish leagues, start in with the Big Ten Season Preview, and start screaming "FOOTBALL!" at friend, acquaintance, and total stranger alike.
6/22/2006 - USA 1-2 Ghana - EO World Cup
I'm pissed. I'm pissed off about the penalty kick and I'm pissed at Bocanegra for not booting the ball out of bounds like every kid from six on up is taught to and I'm pissed at Claudio Reyna for giving away a goal and generally being useless and I'm pissed at just about everyone aside from Onyewu and Dempsey. But mostly I'm pissed about Bruce Arena.
This makes no sense, really. I still believe I've seen a dozen tackles in this very World Cup equivalent-or-worse to Mastroeni's fateful mistake that have been yellows or even no booking at all. Pope's first yellow was a joke -- the man he was marking pulled Pope on top of him -- and the incompetent Uruguayan had no idea Pope was carrying yellow when he booked him a second time. You can't really blame Arena for Claudio Reyna's horrendous gaffe or Marcus Merck's gift PK. And you can't blame him drawing into what turned out to be the tournament's real Group of Death. I still believe that this was a knockout-stage team hamstrung by things beyond its control. One less horrible PK and one slightly more accurate header from McBride or Onyewu and the USA emerges from its group and nobly falls to Brazil. Arena remains a genius. Tacos for everyone.
That did not happen, however, and thus we must confront harsh reality: Bruce Arena's tactical decisions were worthy of Isiah Thomas. Not once in this tournament did Arena deign to start a second striker next to Brian McBride, who is wonderful in the air but lacking service and support did very little with his time. At some point it the question morphed from "Did Eddie Johnson nail Arena's wife?" to "How many times did Eddie Johnson tie Arena up and force him to watch the Grown-Ass Man nail Arena's wife?" At a later date, the answer was revealed: eighty-five. Entering a game the US had to win to advance, Johnson was passed over in favor of yet another 4-5-1, this one featuring Demarcus Beasley even further out of position as a sort of holding midfielder. When Claudio Reyna -- no doubt suffering from acute soccer-pansyitis after gifting Ghana its first goal -- gimped his way off USMNT fields forever in the 40th minute, Ben Olsen came on with the US down a goal. Ben Olsen. This is a man eloquently described by commenter Andrew as a "combination of Ryan Mundy's tendency to be out of position and Jeremy LeSeur's tendency toward dumb penalties." He is a defensive midfielder. He looks and plays like a crazed third liner in hockey. He does not help you score goals. Johnson did not come on until minute sixty, by which point it was far too late.
Is it any wonder that the US managed just four shots on goal the entire tournament? Arena coached like he was planning on tying his way to the second round; not a bad idea with the particular strength of the US: counter-attacking. But that went out the window when Robocop blasted a ball past Keller in the fifth minute and Arena seemed utterly clueless when forced to adapt. Maybe the fault lies more at Donovan and Reyna and Beasley's feet than in Arena's head, but at this point I just want a Dutchman. Or Klinsmann. Or just anyone who doesn't remind me very strongly of Lloyd Carr with a two-touchdown lead.
No tacos. No tacos for anyone. Just mail.
Update: Sweet Fancy Moses:
Here's one to get the rumor mill working overtime. I was at WDR, German state television early this morning talking to Boris Inanici, their ace reporter who has in the past has been embedded with the national team. He told me that Jurgen Klinsmann, the German national team coach will quit after the World Cup regardless of whether the 'Mannschaft' wins the whole thing or not.
He then told me that Klinsmann has already been seen with the top brass of the US Soccer Federation and that there is a very good chance that he will take over the national program when Bruce Arena steps down, which Arena has said he will do.
Commit #7 is who-dat MI WR James Rogers, who -- much like Martell Webb before him -- went from no Rivals profile at all to Michigan commit in no time flat. Michigan fans still grumbling about WMU superstar Greg Jennings will be delighted to hear that directional Michigan schools were all over the 6'2"... er... 165 Rogers.
There are two ways to look at the commitment:
- The I'm 16, Bright And Bushy-Tailed: OMG this guy is BRAYLON EDWARDZ! We're obviously going to get Clemons and Hemingway and Washington, so for this guy to get an offer must mean that he is secretly OMG shirtlezz. Heh heh, I said lez. Cornholio.
- The "I've Seen Too Much of This Crap": I guess we aren't getting Clemons or Hemingway or Washington. WHY DID YOU PUNT ON THIRD AND FOUR? AAAARGH.
If you care to hear where I fall on that particular contimnuum, it's probably 60% towards the kids. Webb -- who is reputed to have gone Wayne Brady on bitches at camp, BTW -- plus Rogers likely means that the Clemons/Hemingway/Washington trifecta is out the window, but two of the three are still possible. That likely means Clemons and Washington, since their Michigan affection appears to be waxing while Hemingway's wanes. I'll take that WR class no problem.
Commit number eight may also stir similar "what about X" panic, as he is Texas cornerback Troy Woolfolk -- what about Allen and Johnson? -- but two facts may mitigate those concerns:
- He's former Michigan RB Butch Woolfolk's son.
- He runs a 10.4 hundred meters (w/ tailwind, but still).
Zounds. Woolfolk had offers from Nebraska and TCU before his Michigan camp and said he thought Texas "may be close" to one a couple weeks ago, though he was probably a Plan-B recruit for the 'Horns. A quote from Orangebloods:
"After some drills, the coach came up and said he liked what he saw and that he was happy that I came. So I think I did well. Two coaches came up to me and said that I did a good job," Woolfolk said. "I'm not sure what might happen. I may wait a few days and then call them to see."
Woolfolk is some sort of defensive back but is still sixteen and growing, so whether he ends up at corner or safety is yet to be determined.
I wouldn't worry about Woolfolk's commitment bothering Johnson, Allen, or any other high-profile defensive back who might decide to commit as he is fairly raw, a three-star-with-upside type like Johnny Sears. It does bode unwell for the guys at the bottom of the board, since Michigan is probably done offering defensive backs unless extremely unlikely disaster strikes and the Johnson/Allen combination ends up somewhere other than a winged helmet.
Ghana-US... later. PK was a travesty but ultimately irrelevant, since I have no doubt the second half would have played out in identical fashion with the Czechs down both a goal and a man. If Gooch or McBride puts in a header, it would have been a tragedy. As it was, it was just insult upon injury.