so much for that
Notre Dame has their new golden boy, Jimmy Clausen:
No one with that hair can be good at football.
He's slated to win 5 national championships over the next four years, but there are Citrus Bowls to win, motherfucker, and Michigan needs a giant, immobile quarterback who can throw a football through three guys -- sort of like that scene in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade -- to do it. 6'7" Ryan Mallet appears to fit the bill and is deciding within the week according to Florida State's Scout site. The finalists are Michigan, Florida State, Alabama, and Oklahoma. How should you feel about this?
Um, good. Perhaps very good:
Florida State has been moving up his list but many feel Michigan is the team to beat because that's the school that he has visited in person.
"I don't need to take any more visits," he said. "I pretty much know about all the schools from talking to all of the coaches on the phone. Academics will be in important along with where I can see myself fitting in. Being able to gel with the coaches is a big-deal."
Strange hyphen in "big-deal" sic. This decision would appear to be analgous to that of Pittsburgh wide receiver Dorin Dickerson, who decided around this time last year between Pitt and Michigan without ever having visited Michigan. He chose Pitt. No one was surprised.
Tom Beaver of GBW spooked a bunch of message board denizens with an appearance on WTKA, but I would avoid picking up a case of residual panic from them. We're probably addressing need #1 in the 2007 recruting class with option A-1. Notre Dame's quarterback of the future has name with superior unflattering nickname potential ("Jimmah! JimmahJimmah!"), looks like a cross between Billy Idol and a kid playing with static electricity, and comes from a family of certified football retards. Good times.
4/23/2006 - Pistons 92-74 Milwaukee - Pistons Lead 1-0
Having secured the top record in the league, the last week of Pistons basketball was bizarre lighthearted fun except for the bits where Lindsey Hunter shot a lot. Free to play glorified preseason games, they did, and the games had all the entertainment value of any hopeful, future-looking enterprise. It was fun to see Jason Maxiell attempt to dunk it every time he got inside the three-point line. It was fun to see that Delfino guy. It was novel to watch the Pistons lose by a ton.
However, the Happy Fun NBA Games were a cause for some consternation: what if they're off because of this diversion? 1000 words on that:
They didn't have a good headshot, but the important portion of the picture extends from Ben Wallace's headband up: 'fro. Much like Michigan hockey's propensity for breaking out the super-cool maize jerseys when a statement needs to be made*, the Ben Wallace 'fro is a talismanic declaration that someone's ass is going to get kicked. During the year the 'fro was stowed away, though, as the Pistons went about their asskicking in a methodical, somewhat bored fashion. There was no need to get the emotional amperage up. But the playoffs are another matter.
And lo, it was good despite an alarming Bucks push that had Mental Rewrite showing up and revising this column-thing. That just shows fans are less smooth than the team is. After the Bucks came clawing back from 18 down to 4, you could feel the Palace tighten up... until the Pistons scored close to a dozen consectutive points and the 'fro was once again poised, ready to crush Michael Redd's neck with sheer force of awesome.
Ben finished with a quintessential Ben line: 4 points, 17 rebounds, 2 blocks, 2 steals. The Pistons won by 18 despite long stretches where they played like poop. It, as they say, is on.
*(usually this statement is something other than "we are not a good hockey team despite wearing the super-cool maize jerseys," but this year was not a kind one.)
- I think I can trace my complete 180 on Brent Musberger back to his open container citation in Nebraska, as the next week Musberger actually brought it up on national television in order to make fun of himself. In one moment Musberger went from the overbearing guy who gave the world "holy Buckeye" to a dude who slams beer in his car and isn't afraid to let you know it.
The point? At some point during the Clippers-Nuggets game, Musberger brought up this quote from George Karl:
"A win in the playoffs is better than sex... I'm old."
I know a lot of guys in the NBA are like "what are you talking about?"
...and I got a little teary from laughing so much.
The YouTube find of the week-ish follows. Warning: NSF people who go into seizures at emo.
That's right: there's no awnser for the victors valient. Suckas. There's also no mention of the horrible calls against Iowa in that game. But highlights of one of the scarce wins from last year + hilarious, hilarious misspellings == ratings gold.
Also from the same guy: NSFWSJ*. More bad emo and chestpounding.
*(2000 Orange Bowl, which is Not Safe For Warren St. John.)
Scheduling later. Now: diatribe. With swearing. I tried to ignore this guy at first but he keeps appearing in the freaking newspaper, which still has more readership than I do for some unknown reason.
Does this John Pollack guy run around calling newspapers or something? Pollack, who found himself in the New York Times for no discernible reason, managed to get the Detroit News to write another article on him and his very silly crusade. And what a terrible article it is: sloppy, anecdotal, and ridiculous. This is your reporting for you: quotes from Bill Martin and a couple of luxury-box critics and no sense whatsoever of the general opinion of Michigan fans. Check this header:
Opposition is on the rise
No justification whatsoever is provided for this. The closest thing to it:
In March, Pollack's group among others opposing private suites sent a letter to the regents stating their objections, including the "sad corruption" of the university's "defining traditions" and urging them to reject the idea.
First of all, anyone who uses the word "sad" as a tsk-tsk adjective is a holier-than-thou asshat. I'll give you ten to one that the letter also contains the word "laughable." Mostly, though: a letter does not consitute a grass-roots movement, especially when it's signed by a former University president.
Kupelain doesn't even bother to comment on this assertion from Pollack:
"This is absolutely a battle we're going to win because a majority of Michigan fans don't want private luxury boxes in Michigan Stadium," said Pollack, 40, a business consultant who was a speech writer for former Michigan Congressman David Bonior and President Clinton.
"Letters keep pouring into the Web site. The eloquence of people on this subject is truly impressive."
Emphasis mine, as that's a perfect example of quoting substituting for reporting. Kupelain listened to a bunch of unsupported talking from people, played stenographer, and we have this: a squeaky wheel and its unnecessary oiling. This would be a perfect opportunity for a resource-laden newspaper to call up a polling company and get some survey data. Instead, we have nothing but a bunch of quotes from people who make HULK SMASH. So angry am I that I must break out the fisk:
"What we wanted to do was make it convenient for people who cared about the issue to speak out and stay informed," Pollack said.
Aaaaargh. "Speak out." "Stay informed." The duplicitious words of a politician (which is no coincidence) designed to befuddle instead of clarify.
"Everybody wants to see the stadium renovated," Pollack said. "What we don't want to see is private luxury boxes."
The anti-suite forces argue that private seating would divide fans and establish a class mentality where, Pollack said, Michigan fans "have always stood together, cheered together and won together. Shoulder-to-shoulder, standing -- that's the game-day experience at Michigan."
You'll see that this grass-roots movement is so devoid of actual ideas that they resort to hilarious lies constantly. The idea that a football game with 50 dollar tickets and 500 dollar PSLs for the excellent seats which are doled out to people who write huge checks to the university is some sort of proletarian rally where all men are created equally patchouli- scented and be-dreadlocked is beyond inane. And standing? When I stand, I am crabbed at. What Pollack describes is Michigan Stadium in the mirror universe where Paris Hilton is a nuclear engineer, Dennis Dodd is competent, and Ohio State is a university. It's not just wrong: it's the exact opposite of reality.
Jonathan Stone, class of '94, said the intimacy is what makes the Ann Arbor experience special.
"Creating a separate seating area is contrary to one of the basic values the University of Michigan ensures its students learn to appreciate equality," said Stone, who lives in Alexandria, Va.
You. Fucking. Hippies. I do not remember an "appreciating equality" requirement as an undergraduate, and good fucking God, what is the point of going to Michigan if you can't lord it over MSU grads? More proletarian bullshit. These people are delusional.
Apparently this guy doesn't get the pamphlet from the University that details the dozen or so donation levels and the various perks you get at each one every year. Or he can't read.
"Why tamper with the appearance of one of America's true icons of architecture?" Schultz said in a letter to the regents. "The thought that changes are needed to Michigan Stadium so as to keep up with the Joneses is ludicrous."
Example #2 of the mirror universe. Good God. I love Michigan Stadium, but it's a hole in the ground. It's not exactly Solider Field. This man can't be serious. I'm really at a loss for words... where to start? The press box best described as "festering"? The insufficient bathrooms? The fact that I have to battle the fat guy in seat 7 for the inch that decides whether I walk out hale and hearty or crumpled like a submarine at the botom of the sea?
The hippies are on LSD, man.
Pollack said interest and support has been spiking since recent publish accounts of the campaign.
"I know everybody on both sides of this wants what they think is best for Michigan."
First of all... "recent publish accounts"? I thought they had copy editors at the News. And indeed, the people on both sides of the issue want what they think is best for Michigan. It's just that some people live in this universe, and others don't.
It seems that the issue here is less what Michigan Stadium is going forward but more what it is right now. Either it is an idyllic place that cannot be improved upon, or it is not. This has been a rather juvenile post, but what's more juvenile:
- swearing and taunting in the service of a realistic portrayal of the class structure already imposed at Michigan Football games, or
- pretty, dishonest language in service of a fairytale?
As the old commercials used to say, you make the call.
It's the offseason, so it must be time to snipe about scheduling, particularly that of the the SEC. House Rock Built and EDSBS have resurrected the slightly annoying corpse of the OMG Georgia-never-leaves-the-confederacy argument to batter it around some. SI's John Walters, no doubt STEALING FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE(!), chips in an outstanding article at SI.com on the sad state of scheduling.
The SEC isn't really an issue. You can argue about whether the SEC's nonconference schedules are or are not more reprehensible than the those of the nation at large, but let's be serious: we're talking about a matter of degree. Everyone who can get away with scheduling fluff in front of a sold-out stadium does. Teams will often schedule a token decent opponent and match them with twin creamypuffs -- and with the twelve game schedule it might be more like three. The accusation that SEC teams stay close to home is pointless and a transparent attempt to leave aside the niggling fact that Florida plays Florida State every year, Georgia plays Georgia Tech, etc, etc, etc. Intersectional is meaningless. Interconference is the issue.
(Almost) Everyone hates this. The athletic directors cited in Walters' article sound annoyed and resigned:
"Are you sitting down?" asked the Aggies' official. "I've got some bad news for you. We're not coming."
"I thought, You've got to be kidding me," recalls Brand.
"But the way it is now, contracts can be simply negotiated out of or simply not honored."
The Wolf Pack have a home-and-home with Northwestern beginning in 2007. And Hickok has learned. "They're coming to our place first," Hickok says, "and believe me, there will be a penalty clause in that contract."
Fans hate seeing the words "Eastern Michigan" and "50 dollars" on the same ticket. Players are forced to roll out onto the field and risk injury for a glorified scrimmage. ESPN gets Timbersports ratings. The only people who seem to enjoy the situation are coaches, who get a stress-free week, a guaranteed win, and a better chance of pointing to an impressive record as a reason he should not be placed in stocks and run out of town at season's end. The only people who seemed anything other than giddy about the Texas-Ohio State game? Jim Tressel and Mack Brown.
Axiom going forward: this state of affairs is dismal and must change. No one is against a season-opener against Designated Patsy A, especially with twelve games: the excitement of the new season and the end of the cruel eight month football fast is enough for one ritual pounding to be just lovely, thank you. But once Designated Patsies B, C, and -- if you're Minnesota or Kansas State -- D start limping into the stadium we have issues.
Money is a red herring. The athletic director's lament of "we need more money" is mind-boggling. For what? Have player salaries spiraled out of control in recent years? You can only create so many "academic centers" with solid gold toilets. The economic troubles of big athletic departments are an entirely self-created problem. Faced with a strict salary cap (generally zero [TRESSEL BASHING REDACTED]), college teams desperate for John Q. Recruit to show up and
molest the field hockey team win championships have taken the Mark Cuban approach: Playstations everywhere; Friday and Sunday and Tuesday are lobster night and so is Wednesday and maybe Thursday; teams of sepoys haul the quarterback around in a marble palanquin. All for whatever incremental benefit accrues to your program.
In any case, scheduling a real opponent isn't that costly. Two scenarios, assuming $50 bucks a pop in a 100,000 seat stadium (generous for most what with 80k stadiums and student seating, etc., but add in parking and concessions):
- Two home games against teams of legless goats: $10 million in tickets - approximately $1 million in goat-support payments.
- Home and home with pulse-bearing opponent: $5 million in tickets plus whatever the difference is in TV rights fees.
I have no idea what the latter is but I know damn well that Texas-OSU brought in more than Michigan-Ball State will. Add those to the latter and we're talking something on the order of under a million dollars per year.
The ultimate test here is what teams eventually do with the twelfth game, since it's pure profit. The women's crew team is already provided for. The toilets, as mentioned, are golden and come with robotic servants that wipe for you. ADs should get a free pass for this year, as the 12th game was thrust upon them somewhat suddenly and the constricted schedule means that teams with championship games and the Big Ten have to find someone, anyone, to plug into the hole on their schedule. Going forward, however, there's another chance to test your mettle -- assuming you have some.
It's getting worse. Even oft-cited scheduling titans Michigan (go figure, but people removed from the situation have a vague impression of Michigan losing on the West Coast a lot and don't pay much attention to the MAC snackycakes) and Notre Dame have started scaling back the voluntary challenges they've lined up. Michigan is playing at least two MAC teams a year from now until the sun expands. You'll see them playing a road game on Pacific time sometime after World War III. Notre Dame is trying to line something up with the Coast Guard Academy now that they have Army, Navy, and Air Force on the schedule.
This is probably a futile discussion. I'll propose solutions ("make Pat Hill the coach of all D-I programs") tomorrow but the chances of anything actually changing are very bad. This is acknowledged ahead of time in order to save the comments about this being futile.
Tomorrow: what can be done?
On occasion I will have vivid, narrative dreams experienced at the cusp of consciousness. Generally the world needs saving and I'm the man to do it. They're sort of like dadaist Jerry Bruckheimer movies except invariably I lose, at which point I wake up with the blood of six billion dream-people on my hands. It's a little unsettling.
But not as unsettling as the dream I just had. Approached by a small team of aerospace engineers, astronauts, and Michael Rappaport (don't ask -- I don't understand either), I accept a berth on a small privately-funded starship that is making a journey to a planet one of the team members has deduced contains intelligent life. We plan to get rich by bringing back fantastically advanced alien technology.
The trip is a fiasco. We are discovered, our spaceship is impounded, and we are forced to live on this slightly foreign planet filled with people who look almost human and work for them in a sort of indentured servitude/slavery.
Apparently this is what alien planets look like.
It seems that these people are a hidden race and we can never go home, as their discovery would lead to some sort of cosmic sanction. The overriding mood of the dream is poignant loss. My friends are all gone, Rappaport is a useless tool, and I'm on a foreign planet largely composed of strip malls and Starbucks (actual line: "Something's fishy here. Check out that Taco Bell. I'll buy that they have Starbucks millions of light years from home, but Taco Bell?" It's all very sad.
Anyway, after some high speed rollerblading (again, don't ask) we pass the Vanderbilt football team practicing. I say "ha ha, you're going to lose" when it hits me: since I am an alien slave on a planet millions of light years from home the chances of me being at Michigan Stadium on September second are nil. Apparently Vanderbilt is not likely to put in an appearance either, but this does not occur to me. My mind fills with one oppressive fact: I Am Going To Miss The Game.
It is at this point, and this point only, that I resolve to escape, which means death if caught. My first tactic, perhaps spurred on by the overall weirdness of my life, is to attempt to wake up. My eyes open and I am once again within easy driving distance of Michigan Stadium, no hyperdrive or escape from slavery required. I exhale.