The nutty Michigan coverage isn't so much about Harbaugh as it is a signal to the Big Ten that Fox wants to party.
|WHAT||Michigan v. Coppin State|
|WHERE||Ann Arbor, MI|
December 22nd, 2009
*Line provided by online sports betting site Sportsbetting.com.
Michigan finally looked like a competent team again against Kansas, dropping an 11-point decision on the road to the #1 team in all the land. However, the shooting deficiencies continued. Though I said last week that it may just be a slump that players might snap out of, John Beilein said that this team may just not have the personnel necessary (though Zack Novak's illness affected his shooting stroke, so hopefully there's a bit of upside there, and if Manny's hamstring injury ever gets resolved, that could help as well). The solution, according to Beilein, may be to put up fewer threes. A game against an overmatched opponent like Coppin State may provide enough open looks for the players to regain some confidence, but we'll have to see.
Defensively, Michigan looked as good against Kansas as they have all year. Beilein said that the team is still working on implementing a few new wrinkles, and the coaches are coming up with new ways to teach the players to get the defense working properly.
Darius Morris came off the bench against Kansas on Saturday, and Beilein said the lineup will likely stay that way for the foreseeable future. Morris didn't have a problem with it, saying it gave him some time to get into the groove of the game before he was actually expected to contribute. In other personnel news, walkon Eric Puls has quit the team in an effort to get his engineering degree finished in 4 years, and Beilein grimly replied "we certainly hope not" when asked if Ben Cronin's injuries might threaten his career.
Just because the Eagles haven't been lighting the world on fire, the Wolverines are still going to take them seriously. Beilein said that they're a team who will do whatever it takes to stay in a game, which generally means play at a snail's pace to reduce the number of possessions. If they can stay in the game to the end, said Beilein, they're a definite threat to come away with the upset.
So far Coppin State has beaten only two opponents that hail from Division 1 in Maryland-Baltimore County and Loyola-Maryland. They have lost to Colorado, USC, Morgan State, and West Virginia. Guards Lenny Young, Vince Goldberry, and Kareem Brown are 1-2-3 on the team in scoring and Branden Doughty is a forward leading the team in rebounding.
If you need an explanation of the stats, check out Ken Pomeroy.
|Michigan v. Coppin State: National Ranks|
|Category||Michigan Rank||CSU Rank||Advantage|
|Mich eFG% v. CSU Def eFG%||259||155||CC|
|Mich Def eFG% v. CSU eFG%||249||312||M|
|Mich TO% v. CSU Def TO%||3||141||MM|
|Mich Def TO% v. CSU TO%||41||204||MM|
|Mich OReb% v. CSU DReb%||233||346||MM|
|Mich DReb% v. CSU OReb%||300||319||M|
|Mich FTR v. CSU Opp FTR||300||275||C|
|Mich Opp FTR v. CSU FTR||14||272||MMM|
|Mich AdjO v. CSU AdjD||136||242||MM|
|Mich AdjD v. CSU AdjO||128||300||MM|
Difference of more than 10 places in the national rankings get a 1-letter advantage, more than 100 gets a 2-letter advantage, more than 200 gets a 3-letter advantage, etc.
As you can see, Michigan is better than Coppin State in just about every category. Aside from the Wolverines' inability to shoot and get to the line, Michigan has a huge advantage. Coppin State is surprisingly good at defending the three pointer, but so was Kansas and Michigan got a ton of open looks against the Jayhawks. It's a matter of actually hitting the looks that they get.
With Coppin's lack of size and Michigan's ongoing shooting troubles from the outside, you may see a heavy dose of DeShawn Sims scoring inside, or at least trying to draw the defense in to open things up from the outside. A number of backcuts may be available against an aggressive perimeter defense as well.
This looks like a similar game to Detroit on the face. For some reason though, I think it will get out of hand a little quicker than the contest against the Titans. It should be a low-scoring affair, with both teams playing at a slowwww pace (Unless you're a diehard hoops guy, or you aren't too interested in scoring, don't waste the 3 bucks to watch this one online). It should be played in the high 50s or low 60s, with Michigan getting a comfortable 15-point win.
Since it's unlikely Michigan is upset by the Eagles and it's going to be tough for people to watch on TV, I'm considering a CIL chat during the game. Vote for/against in the comments, and e-mail me if you're interested in helping moderate.
A special, oddly timed recruiting bit.
So Michigan is or was in on a few highly rated California prospects, most of whom seem ticketed elsewhere at the moment. The biggest one given Michigan's immediate need at safety was CA C Sean Parker, though, and plenty of grim resignation that he was headed to USC has given way to a strange new dawn where Parker says stuff like this*:
"I'm done with visits, it's USC, Michigan and Notre Dame right now," Parker said. "My plan is still the same as it has been the whole year, wait until Signing Day and then announce. I loved my visits to Michigan and Notre Dame and I've been to USC a number of times so I don't think I need to take another visit there.
"Michigan is recruiting me the hardest right now. That was also my favorite trip and I'm very high on them. I haven't talked to Brian Kelly at Notre Dame yet but he did leave me a message and I need to call him back.
A quick Google scour turns up some Irish fans having a mild freakout about a text eliminating ND and adding Cal sent to Irish Sports Daily shortly after that. Usually a late add like Cal is not a major factor, which leaves Michigan going head to head with USC.
Normally this would be bad, but USC has commits from Robert Woods, an "athlete" who projects to safety and is the #3 player in the country, Dion Bailey, the #7 safety according to Rivals, and pulled in a full class of four and five star defensive backs last year. So their depth chart is a tiny bit more crowded than Michigan's.
So… what I'm saying is that Sean Parker looks like an increasingly strong possibility in this class. Both premium sites have recently had an uptick in their optimism about his recruitment and I got a solid-seeming (but unconfirmed!) tip that Michigan was in excellent position.
That pickup would obviously be huge. Parker is a consensus four star at a position of extreme need, top 100 to Scout and the #26 player in the country to ESPN. But please don't break out the torches and pitchforks if this optimism doesn't come to fruition. The whims of high schoolers are fickle things.
*(This article is a free ESPN Insider preview at the moment, FWIW.)
Since High School seasons nationwide have come to an end, Friday Night Lights will be covering mostly All-Star games and All-State/League/etc. honors for committed players. Any future commits will also get the full treatment.
MD LB Josh Furman
Furman led his Old Mill Patriots to a Maryland State Championship, running over fools as a running back. Some of the specific games were tough to find (the local papers put articles more than a month old behind a paywall), but I was able to find full stats for his performance during the 12-2 season. He was named the MVP of his county.
Furman suffered a knee injury in the state final, and was unable to participate in yesterday's Maryland Crab Bowl.
|Josh Furman 2009|
|North County||W 27-6||17||141||3||8.29||1|
|North Point||W 24-0||23||147||2||6.39||1|
FL DT Richard Ash
Pahokee had a rough season, despite tons of D-1 talent (including Ash, 7 Pahokee players are already committed to BCS-conference programs, with at least 2-3 more likely to follow suit). They finished the year 6-5, including a loss to Glades Central in the Muck Bowl. I couldn't find individual stats for Ash, but he reportedly had an up-and-down season - just like the rest of the Blue Devils.
MI QB Devin Gardner
Named 1st-Team All-State at QB.
SC QB Conelius Jones
Jones had a pass thrown his way but was not able to get in the stat book. He saw a significant amount of playing time.
“It was a good all-star game. Everyone was fast and quick. It was an honor to be out here and playing.”
TX RB Tony Drake
Tony was named Honorable Mention All-State in Texas's 5A Division, the most competitive football division in the state (country?).
MI RB Austin White
Named Honorable Mention All-State at RB.
LA Slot WR Drew Dileo
MI WR Ricardo Miller
Named Honorable Mention All-State at WR.
MI WR Jeremy Jackson
Named 1st-Team All-State at WR.
Michigan has gained a commitment from MD LB/S Josh Furman. There was much rejoicing. How about we move on to the informative portion?
|4*, #20 S||3*, #28 ATH||3*, 78, #38 OLB|
All three recruiting site rank Furman at different positions, but it's most likely that he'll play linebacker when he gets to Ann Arbor. ESPN evaluates him at that position:
Furman is a big, rangy and physical football player with good vertical speed for such a lengthy athlete. Tall and physically intimidating as an outside linebacker. This guy is a real threat rushing from the outside. Has enough quickness to accelerate by an offensive tackle setting back to pass protect....
Don't just take their word for it, however, as Scout asked Furman himself to break down his game:
“I have great vision and explosiveness. I’m very athletic (claims a 40-inch vertical jump) and have great closing speed to the ball. I’m also real smooth and like to play old school like Erik Dickerson or powerful like Jim Brown. I want to improve my coverage on defense and be a better pass rusher. On offense I’m just working on my hands and catching the ball better.”
The word on Furman is that he's very, very athletic (as you'll see below). So why the low rankings? It might be due to the fact that he does most of his work as a high school running back, and needs to learn quite a bit before becoming a high-level defender:
In terms of skill set, Furman was a bit less extraordinary. Still, he showed good footwork in mirroring backs in one-on-one passing drills and overall athleticism pursuing and matching up in space. We did feel he looked a bit straight-lined in certain drills and also showed some stiffness and inflexibility at times. He projects best in a heavy-pressure defense in which he can attack vertically -- similar to the one he currently creates havoc in on his high school team.
Even then, though, he's highly productive (again, as you'll see in a little bit), which translates to high rankings, especially if he's ranked as an athlete, which Rivals does. In the case that hype does not match up with ranking, I guess it's better for us to go to the...
Practically everyone in the East offered Furman, including Pitt, West Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, Duke, Virginia Tech, Rutgers, UConn and Syracuse. Outside of the East, he holds an Illinois offer, Of course he holds a Michigan offer (which he has accepted), and Oklahoma also extended him an offer.
As a senior, Furman ran wild on his team's way to the Maryland State Championship. He ran for a total of 2284 yards and 31 touchdowns in 14 games, averaging over 8 yards per carry (I can't find exact stats on his number of carries). Defensively, he racked up a few sacks and at least one interception, as well as a fumble returned 51 yards for a touchdown.
FAKE 40 TIME
The criteria for FAKEness needs to be explored a bit here, since Furman's 4.39 40-yard dash time is combine-verified. However, dude is a future linebacker, so that's a ridiculously fast time. The 4.39 was wind-aided, and we can probably assume it was on a pretty fast track. Laser-timed is laser-times though, so we'll give it 2 FAKEs out of 5.
There's a ton of video from individual games of Furman's senior year on the Youtube, as well as a number of highlight reels (this one from his junior year on defense):
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Furman is a bit of a project as a defensive player, but has the athleticism to be a useful player still. I would imagine he won't take a redshirt his freshman year, but will contribute on special teams in the "be-dreadlocked punt blocker" role that has been vacated by Brandon Smith, who is leaving the program.
After the first year, Furman will probably work his way into the rotation as a backup linebacker. The question is whether he will play in the Stevie Brown SAM spot, which seemingly has a logjam (Mike Jones, Brandin Hawthorne, et al), or in the WILL position, which will lose Jonas Mouton after next year (if he's even able to hold onto his starting spot in '10). My guess would be on the weakside, where there is more opportunity, and his skill set might fit a little better.
As a junior and senior, Furman will have a chance to become an important contributor, and eventually a starter/impact player. He's the type of athletic-yet-unpolished guy that Rich Rod and co. turned into stars time and again at West Virginia.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Furman has been written in pencil as a member of Michigan's 2010 class for a while now, so his official commitment doesn't change much. The Wolverines are down to just a couple spots available, with FL CB Tony Grimes and teammate DE Clarence Murphy expected to commit officially in February. Michigan will only take other commits if they're top prospects or at a position of need (or preferably both).
Programming note: I am headed out of town for the annual approximately week-long Christmas vacation. I'll check in periodically but posts are not likely unless there is major news. I return on the 30th. Update: Tim will be around until Wednesday.
Adios. Donovan Warren is out:
Michigan cornerback Donovan Warren has declared for the NFL draft.
Warren told The Associated Press on Sunday he believes it’s the right time to take his game to the next level.
“I’m confident in my ability,” he said. “I’m ready for the next chapter in my life.”
There was a brief window in which it seemed that Warren would come back because Warren said words to the effect of "I'll probably come back," but at the Bust he said he was "heavily" favoring the NFL and after that it seemed like a matter of time. It was.
While Michigan fans aren't quite as attached to Warren as Tiger fans were to Curtis Granderson…
…the vast seeping hole full of pus and regret he leaves in the secondary has elicited a similar reaction. Justin Turner, now is the time to pupate.
About 14. The thing about 14 teams is at that point it's hardly a conference, it's two conferences with a scheduling agreement and a weird playoff at the end. Two divisions of seven have you face everyone in your division and then just two teams from the other division. We'd go from playing Penn State and everyone else in the other division 75% of the time (there are eight teams in the league that aren't protected rivals and we miss two of them every year) to playing them 29% of the time, and there's no way you can protect a rivalry game in the opposite division without making the situation even worse.
Unless you go to nine or even ten games there's just no way that makes any sense. So then you're trying to coordinate three new schools and take away at least one precious nonconference cupcake and argue which team goes in which division and trying to get eight of eleven votes to approve all this.
There is zero percent chance of this happening.
Syracuse thinks the Big Ten is great… for Boeheim to poop on. Jim Boeheim's opinion of the Big Ten was not glowing 20 years ago:
I guarantee, and you can write a story, Penn State basketball will never be successful in the Big Ten. I will give you my heart if they are. I’m talking ever. Just not going to happen.
The whole discussion came from talking about Miami coming to the Big East and how that saved us [Syracuse] from maybe having to go to the Big Ten. What I said was, there is no way Syracuse [football] could win in the Big Ten or the ACC. And I’m talking Syracuse. And now that Penn State is going, they would have an even lesser chance.
Wonk suggests that Boeheim won't be heading up the "Let's Join The Big Ten" committee any time soon, and that would just about preclude their entry into the conference. Playing Villanova and UConn and all those other schools in the Big East in basketball is more important than anything else. We can scratch them off the list of programs to assimilate.
Missouri, on the other hand, is ready to flirt. First, Missouri's governor—pictured with Willie Nelson—is all like "yeah, we should seriously look at it" about the Big Ten. Second, via The Sports Economist comes a fascinating, candid interview with Missouri's athletic director with some insight into just how much money the Big Ten is raking in:
Mizzou may get approximately $9 million in television revenue, all things being equal, and Texas would be about $12 million. Then Baylor would be around $7.5 million.
That gap is there, but more importantly, let’s take a look at Illinois. We’re not only competing against our league, we’re competing against Illinois. The question is, what is the difference between what Illinois is getting in revenue distribution from the league — that’s television, basically — and what Mizzou is getting? Ours is $9 million. Illinois’ is $21 million.
And maybe we should be giving Jim Delany more credit for the aspects of his job that do not involve speaking to the media. I'd like to cut this answer but it's all interesting so here you go:
Q: What was the sticking point for the Big 12 [creating its own network]?
A: It had to do with revenue distribution and fear of the unknown. The unknown being that a network had never been done with college athletics before. We had heard rumors about the Big Ten getting ready to do it. So various voices in the room were concerned that we were going into uncharted waters. We have this pretty good contract with ABC, ESPN and Fox, and why would we want to give up a sure thing for a speculative deal? By us backing away from that, the Big Ten went forward with that. It was fear of the unknown. We had the same presentation at the same time by CSTV. CSTV had talked to us at the same set of meetings about starting our own network based upon the theory of ESPN Classic. When ESPN Classic was started, everybody said, “Who’s going to watch this? Old video of teams that used to play, 24-7? How is this going to be successful?”
The same people that started ESPN Classic came to us as a league and wanted us to use a similar model to start our own network, based upon this pro forma that had been shown. And we couldn’t come to a consensus. It was pretty frustrating. So we stayed the course and continued the same direction we were, and what we found is we found today that the SEC contract is worth $205 million per year, the Big Ten contract is worth $190 million per year — and both of those leagues share equally — and the Big 12 Conference contract is worth $80 million per year and we don’t share equally. That is a significant gap.
Back to the topic at hand. Missouri prefers to stay where it is:
We need to keep making Mizzou stronger and stronger and making the Big 12 stronger and stronger. We need to keep saying — and we are — proud members of the Big 12 Conference. We’re fortunate to be associated. If you’re asking me personally, my preference would be to do everything you can to strengthen the Big 12. That’s what you’ve got to do.
But given the whole "freakin' Illinois gets more than double what we do from the conference" thing, they'll listen. Given that and the Big Ten's academic attractiveness, which is something certain folk might not be taking totally seriously…
[Former Big 12 commissioner] Kevin Weiberg was quoted as saying this a few days ago in USA Today — he was commenting on the Big Ten — he said, “Rest assured, this will not be about athletics.” Everybody in our world thinks this is about athletics, but it’s not. Conference realignments are always based primarily on academics.
…but that doesn't mean people suggesting schools that have nothing to offer except academics haven't swung too far the other direction.
Anyway, read the whole thing if you're interested in the subject since it's one of the best interviews I've read recently.
Digression about those numbers above. Why isn't the Big Ten picking off successful Big 12 coaches? IE: why is Gary Pinkel still at Mizzou? Though I basically dismissed Braves & Birds' SEC fixation relative to expansion, he does have a point about Big Ten schools' hiring decisions. Minnesota fired its coach and hired a TE coach. Not even a real position coach! Illinois hired Ron Zook. Michigan State hired a .500 Big East coach with two years of head coaching experience. Purdue brought in Danny Hope, coach of Eastern Kentucky. EKU made the playoffs once in his five-year tenure, losing in the first round. There are a couple of coaches in the league who were elevated in trying circumstances—Fitzgerald and Lynch, but the guys before that were elevated internal hires or MAC coaches.
The one actual A-level hire* in the league the last decade or so was Rich Rodriguez—not exactly setting the world on fire—and the transitions that seemed like the best decisions other than that were Wisconsin grabbing Bret Bielema, who had been a superb defensive coordinator at Kansas State for almost a decade, as a coach in waiting, and Jim Tressel's hiring at Ohio State. (Tressel may have been a I-AA coach but he was a guy who'd won multiple national titles.) The overall picture is of the exact opposite sort of thing going on in the SEC.
Evidence: an Outside the Lines bit from Mike Fish detailing the absurd lengths SEC teams have gone to with their coaching hires. Some of them border on the insane, most prominently the huge outlay Tennessee has made to hire an idiot:
Tennessee was so hot to rid itself of Phillip Fulmer after a 5-7 record in 2008 that it paid a $6 million buyout. This came a year after a 10-win season for which Fulmer had received a contract extension. Then, UT hustled to sign a deal with his successor, guaranteeing Kiffin $14.25 million through the 2014 season. Kiffin will be due $7.5 million if he is fired without cause.
That's actually not quite as outrageous as it's framed, as Fish loves to give overall numbers instead of yearly ones so they seem crazier. But at almost $3 million a year for a guy that definitely wasn't going to get that much from anywhere else—IIRC, Washington was the only other school interested—is an unnecessary outlay before you get to the unprecedented money given to the assistants:
The elder Kiffin is the highest-paid assistant in college sports, guaranteed $1.5 million this year. His $300,000 retention bonus alone, due after the season, isn't far from the interim president's annual salary.
Two other Tennessee football assistants, Ed Orgeron ($1.95 million) and Jim Chaney ($1.17 million), are guaranteed more than $3 million between them for the next three seasons.
Again this guy doesn't do us the service of dividing, but Orgeron is making over 600k per year. And yet if you look at the revenue numbers, Big Ten schools aren't far off the SEC folk.
There's a gap here. I'm not saying I'd like Big Ten teams to blow as much money on questionable hires as the SEC does, but surely they can make better stabs at winning coaches that Tim Brewster. Why is Brian Kelly at Notre Dame? Because half of the Big Ten passed him up.
*(Conventionally defined as a guy who's built a top ten-ish program himself, right?)
Bler recession bler. The Wiz digs up an article noting that schools are actually spending money to lobby congress in favor of the freaking BCS:
Politico reports that Purdue and Michigan have spent $515,000 and $415,000 respectively, to lobby this year against a bill that aims to cut federal money for colleges that participate in a Division I-A season without a playoff.
I tend to blame whichever congressman no doubt from Texas or Utah decided that screwing with federal funding for universities because of sports is a great idea more than either university; obviously a bill like that would be a disaster. It's one thing to goof around with an annoyance bill; this is on another level.
Delicious. If you're like me and still harbor bitterness towards former ESPN exec Mark Shapiro for things like "I'd Do Anything," Sports Media Watch's list of the ten worst sports shows of the decade is fantastic. Most of the shows on it were his idea, and most include brilliant quotes from Shapiro like so:
"Stephen A. is ringing a bell. People like him and dislike him, but they still watch him. These days, it’s hard to find a talent who strikes a chord that way" (SBD, 8/1/05). (On a related note, Shapiro reminisced about lobbying for Smith's hiring in '03: "There were 28 people in the room, and they were all vehement: ‘No way, never, never!’ I said, ‘We’ve gotta get this guy in here.'"
In fact, no one wanted to watch a shouty dwarf and Quite Frankly was an epic bomb.
Etc.: Despite rumors about seemingly every viable Michigan assistant coach out there (Corwin Brown, Vance Beford, and Scot Loeffler), Buffalo goes with Cincinnati offensive coordinator and presumptive future ND OC Jeff Quinn to replace Turner Gill. Quinn had been with Kelly forever, so this is good. Van Damme anger fairy. Vada Murray's latest update is excellent.
Kansas 75, Michigan 64. Michigan 5-5 (0-0 Big Ten)
Allow me to bang my head against the wall for a few moments and scream about how this team can't shoot, despite open looks.
Now that my brain is a wet pile of mush on the floor, what just happened?
Michigan played with the #1 team in the country on the road for about 35 minutes. Unfortunately, the Jayhawks built a big first-half lead in the other five minutes. The Wolverines kept chipping away, but could never get to single digits. If being down 11 was a good thing, this team would have won all sorts of awards today. It's not, so they don't. They just lose.
The shooting problems continue. At this point it is clear that shot selection isn't the problem. Maybe some of the guys have lost confidence, maybe there are inconsistencies with the form of their shots, maybe they're not in great shape, but it can't be attributed to bad luck anymore. Somehow these guys actually forgot how to shoot. In the second half, I was ready for Matt Vogrich to get thrown into the fire.
Kansas's scoring was independent of Michigan's defense much of the time, and Michigan's lack of scoring was definitely independent of Kansas's defensive play, so you might as well put in the guy who's most likely to make those open looks.
There's no such thing as a moral victory, but this game could be a positive indicator for future performance. Despite their worst shooting game of the year (in a year filled with poor shooting), they went on the road and didn't let the #1 Jayhawks run them off the court. There were opportunities to let the game get away with them, but a timely defensive play would keep the game manageable. The creepiest chant in college sports didn't get started until there were under 2 minutes in the game.
Jay Bilas, in the face of all available evidence, was claiming Michigan is probably still a tournament team. That's doubtful at this point, but if they can play this well against teams that don't have quite the roster that Kansas does (and nobody in the country has that talented a roster), maybe they can come away with a winning record in the Big Ten and give themselves a chance on Selection Sunday.
- Rough game for Zack Gibson. He wasn't bad the whole time, but he made a couple easily-avoidable errors that really prevented Michigan from completing any sort of comeback.
- Darius Morris... good? Hopefully this is the game that helps him permanently turn the corner.
- All the cliches about Zack Novak are true. Plus he cuts hair.
- Seriously, give Vogrich a little more run. If Darius Morris can play one of his best games of the year against Kansas, you have to give Vogrich a chance to bomb away and keep the Wolverines in the contest.
- I hinted at this above, but the announcers at the end were making statements like "despite playing their worst game of the year, Kansas comes away with a win!" Dude, Michigan gave the game away just as much as Kansas.
- If Michigan shoots their season average (a still-horrible 28.9%) from three, instead of 17.9%, they have approximately 4 more points over the course of the contest, and this is a ballgame into the last minute. If they shoot like they did last year (33.4%), there's a legit shot of winning.
- I don't know how Kenpom's formulas are created, but I wouldn't be surprised if this performance made his season outlook for Michigan a little less grim than 11-19.
- Ugh shooting. [Editor's note: word.]