rundown of Michigan's riser
See Part I here.
I said... sweet Jesus, can we just pretend this thing never existed? Undaunted by Kyle Orton's departure and heeding the sweet siren call of eleven returning defensive starters, I... well...
...as a Michigan fan I want no part of Purdue this year. None. No thank you. Gone is All-Choke Hall of Famer Kyle Orton. Into his decidedly average-sized shoes steps redshirt junior Brandon Kirsch, who has experience and Stantonlegs. ...
The Purdue running game should be meaningfully better. The defense should be meaningfully better. Jones should cease resembling Tweek from South Park. If Kirsch can keep the Boilermaker passing game churning at a respectable level, look out, because Boilermania is about to run wild all over the Big Ten.
And I predicted... 10-1 and a BCS bid. Close: 5-6 and a home for the holidays bid.
Eerie Accuracy: Absolutely nothing. The defense fell apart; the offense was awful; the worst case scenario I projected was 7-4.
Disheartening Idiocy: In leiu of just pasting the entire document under this heading, I'll highlight some specific idiocies.
As the first edition of the postmortem indicated, I managed to get the relative suckiness of almost every quarterback in the Big Ten completely wrong, and I may have been wrongest of all about Purdue, deriding Kyle Orton as a no-talent choke artist and declaring Brandon Kirsch to be the next coming of Stanton:
Redshirt junior Brandon Kirsch is the most important player in the Big Ten this year, period. If he plays like I think he can Purdue is going to kill people, just like last year, except they will continue to kill people the entire year.
Orton spent a decent portion of the year starting in the NFL and not embarassing himself; Kirsch--apparently born with a deep psychological need to have people laugh at him--got benched midway through the year and then entered the draft early.
My assessement of the defensive line is doubly hilarious for the caveat I offered:
This is the best line in the Big Ten with the possible exception of Michigan.
...yeah. About that.
Overall: Let us never speak of this again.
Expect Michigan State to win a game or two it shouldn't, lose to Kent State or Indiana, and finish in the middle of the pack, just like always.
Bizarre win: Notre Dame; inexplicable loss: 49-14 against Northwestern; middle of the pack: check... ish. This theme continued. I captured the historical arc of the Spartan program in one fell graf:
If you were looking for a brief summary of the last thirty years of Spartan football, 2004 was your lucky year. It had everything you could want: a loss to Rutgers, heartbreak at the hands of Michigan, two totally unexpected crushings of quality opponents (51-17 over Minnesota and 49-14 over Wisconsin), and a final collapse that prevented Michigan State from going to a bowl game--one that involved giving up 37 points to one of the worst offenses in the nation and a late-game implosion against Hawaii. It had just the right mix of burgeoning hope with soul-mangling incompetence, the right mix of surprising success with surprising failure, the right mix of Duffy Daughterty with Bobby Williams. Michigan State's porridge is never too hot, never too cold, always just mediocre. On a micro level MSU is completely unpredictable week-to-week. On a macro level it's always Same Old Spartans.
Thanks, reliably unreliable MSU!
And I predicted... 8-3, 5-3 in the Big Ten. Not great, as the Spartans went 5-6 and an astounding 2-6 in-conference. Why didn't I listen to my own damn historical arc garbage?
Eerie Accuracy: I dubbed Drew Stanton "the Jesus" and I stand by that description:
If Stanton remains healthy ... Spartan opponents will have their hands full. He is an unparalleled dual threat and the best quarterback in the Big Ten. What? Henne Tate you crazy!
Stanton ended the year 10th in passing efficiency, rushed for 338 yards, and was flamboyantly distasteful. Eight-year-olds, dude. And this is "duh," but it has links to pretty pictures:
Defensive Backs: 1. I don't see how this position group can be anything other than a total disaster; Jaren Hayes looks to be Michigan State's #1 corner next year. Michigan State fans can't be happy about that.
Disheartening Idiocy: I underestimated MSU's capacity for losing games in wacky fashion, obviously, but none of the position estimates were far off. I declared the offense to be one of the best in the country; it was. I declared the defense to be one of the worst in the country; it was. The mistake came in adding 5 + 0 and getting 8.
Overall: This was looking right on until about halfway through the year when the wheels came off and John L. Smith couldn't slap enough kickers or scream at enough sideline reporters to squeak the Spartans into a bowl.
I said... chalk:
Minnesota's failures have nothing whatsoever to do with some sort of mental malaise that sets in after yet another heartbreaking loss to the perpetual Brown Jug holders and everything to do with the fact that Mason has only put together half a team. Minnesota's offense has been a running juggernaut the envy of every old-school six-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust Big Ten traditionalist but their defense has been horrible, terrible, unwatchable, repulsive... pick up a thesaurus, start at "sucktastic," and point. You'll find something that's probably a little too nice.
This does not look to change this year.
And I predicted... 8-3, 5-3. The Gophers ended up 7-4, 4-4.
Eerie Accuracy: Both my preview and the Gophers' season went by the book: bad defense, good offense, meh bowl, so most things in the preview fit under the "duh" category--hey! Laurence Maroney is good!--but I did take a shine to TE Matt Spaeth early:
Tight end Matt Spaeth is 6'6", 270 and plays like an offensive lineman with soft hands. He's excellent blocking for Maroney and when he finds himself open will come down with the ball but isn't overly athletic for a tight end and sometimes has trouble getting open. Another good year and he will start getting All Big Ten consideration.
All Big Ten TE: Matt Spaeth.
Disheartening Idiocy: I was excessively optimistic:
Swap Minnesota's and Purdue's schedules and I'd be slotting the Gophers in a BCS bowl...
I think Cupito and Wheelwright will both take big leaps forward this year but the defense will not. That should still be enough to make it to 5-3 in the Big Ten.
They didn't; it wasn't.
Overall: Good. But for a fluky punt block against Wisconsin it would have been right on.
So. This is what I think: Iowa will disappoint a bit this year. Not Mot
or City Bowl disappoint, but maybe Outback Bowl disappoint. Yes, I realize that I am betting against Kirk Ferentz and Drew Tate. Yes, I think that there is a good chance that this is going to make me look stupid. But I think what I think, and this is what I think. I think.
The one prediction most couched in "please don't stone me for this" disclaimers turns out to be right on the nose. OMG rain on your wedding day.
And I predicted... 8-3, 5-3 in the Big Ten. Correct on the conference mark; didn't see the Iowa State upset coming.
Eerie Accuracy: See above for the whole Outback thing.
Disheartening Idiocy: No one thought that the Iowa running offense would repeat its dead-last performance from 2004, but I was harsher than most on its prospects, giving an ugly 1 to the running backs and declaring it unlikely Iowa would even be average this year:
Will anything decent emerge out of this sack of cats? It's unlikely. Brownlee, Simmons, and Sims were very bad last year, and OSU fans tell me the talent elves are all busy turning Ohio State's Troy Smith into a legitimate quarterback. It usually takes two years to fully recover from an ACL tear, so Young and Schnoor probably won't be full speed. None of the three freshmen come in with high accolades. Unless there is a Mike Hart-like serendipity somewhere in the running back corps, Iowa's running game will still be downright bad.
(Bonus points for Troy Smith sneering!) Iowa finished a respectable 35th nationally; primary tailback Albert Young was 17th in rushing yards.
Overall: The best prediction offered in this space. It's hard to remember this now, but Iowa was in everyone's top ten at the beginning of the year and quite a few top fives. They were regarded as a serious national threat. This did not come to pass and the Hawkeyes did indeed end up in the Outback Bowl.
There's reason for optimism in the Worst Place On Earth. But isn't claiming the Buckeyes a national championship contender a fit of irrational exuberance, in the words of Alan Greenspan? Is this not a team that got one good game from a quarterback last year, has a running back situation featuring two freshmen and a sophomore (who has not run for 1400 yards), can't start the same offensive line from one game to the next, has exactly one cornerback and no pass rush? Isn't Ted Nugent gone?
Er... yeah, they had a pass rush, though it came via a hellacious amount of blitzing. OSU was out of the national championship picture early after a loss to PSU that was my preseason wingnut upset pick.
Texas beats OSU out of conference, and then OSU embarks on another highwire act of ugly games won and lost on punt returns, long field goals, and turnovers which they mostly end up on the good side of, but not always.
...this sort of happened before Ohio State's offense met a slew of eminently movable objects in the second half of the season, but this was half-right at best.
And I predicted... 8-3, 6-2. Ohio State was 9-2, 7-1. And maybe if Herrmann's defense could have held just one fourth-quarter lead this year it may have been on the nose.
Eerie Accuracy: Remember Ted Ginn, Heisman Candidate? No sale!
For all the hype surrounding Ginn, it's worth noting that he only caught 25 passes last year and a good number of those were screens or short, simple routes. Ginn has yet to display any route-running acumen, ability to adjust to a deep ball in flight, or sticky hands. The jury is still out. Sure, the jury's probably going to come back and say OMG TED GINN IS FAST, but I'm just saying: he's not the best receiver in the conference yet.
And maybe this fits into the "duh" category, but...
This is the best linebacker corps in the country and it isn't particularly close.
... even if that Posluszny guy somehow ganked the Butkus.
Disheartening Idiocy: At least I have a lot of company in this particular edition of Misjudge the Quarterback Badly:
Without drastic improvement, Smith is an erratic thrower prone to poor decisions who's a good runner. This makes you walk on water against Michigan and the Keystone Klinebackers, but it does not imply success against other teams. Ohio State's offense was terrible last year, and Troy Smith was a major reason why. This is not a strength.
Stupid, stupid, stupid me and my big mouth. In retrospect, this was a big flashing "SMITE ME, INEFFABLE GOD" sign:
I'll believe Troy Smith, Actual Quarterback when I see it more than once.
Yeah. Seen it. Now I officially say "I'll believe Troy Smith, guy who takes money from boosters and is not allowed to play when I see it more than once." Make it happen, big guy.
Overall: Another prediction that was humming along smoothly at midseason before collapsing down the stretch. The Ohio State offense consisted mostly of quarterback draws in the game against Texas and the Buckeyes lost an ugly defensive struggle against Penn State. Then they started murdering a collection of horrific defenses (seriously, check it out: after the Penn State game the best defense OSU opposed--by far--was Michigan's. Yeah). The offensed reached near-Irish levels of probably unjustified media slobbering and Michigan imploded, taking my prediction with it. Still, one game off in the great scheme of things, a fairly accurate picture of the team aside from that whole Troy Smith thing, and early debunking of the national-title contender and Heisman candidate Ginn thing... not too bad.
Part III (Michigan) coming soon.
Update 1/23: Removed OT Sam Young(ND), LB Thaddeus Gibson(OSU), RB William Griffin(with Minor's commitment there's no room at the inn for RBs). Moved RB Brandon Minor to committed. Linked to Steve Schilling article and Dallas Morning News blog entry(!) on TX QB Nick Stephens.
Editorial Opinion: The blog entry has this hilarious little passage:
I 'm not one to read between the lines, especially when it comes to recruiting, but he did tell me: "I'm a Southern guy."
I'm not one to make fun of professional media people, but ha ha usuxor. It also says that a decision could come as soon as tonight.
You probably heard about Young; Gibson was discussed in this space earlier, and Minor got a big ol' post on Friday. Gibson is not a big loss to the recruiting class what with the four linebackers already committed, but losing Young means we're battling home-state schools and USC for Steve Schilling and Daron Rose... um... bad.
Our month long farewell to Jim Herrmann is going to look stupid if this whole thing ends up like a extended remix of "Steven's Last Night In Town," but hey, that's life. The latest nail is a USA Today article in which his name is floated as the next Dallas Cowboys linebackers coach (non-permalink, sorry):
The Cowboys seemingly have been bracing for Gibbs' departure, as they supposedly have been in contact with Michigan defensive coordinator Jim Herrmann about becoming the linebackers coach.
Also, kids: know when to say when in adverb-land.
Update: Reader Patrick Sickels points out a squib in the latest Pro Football Weekly "The Way We Hear It" column:
With the Saints expected to fill their defensive coordinator job with Cowboys LB coach Gary Gibbs, Dallas has been in contact with University of Michigan defensive coordinator Jim Herrmann about potentially replacing Gibbs.
Hockey continued its Sad Panda ways on the weekend, splitting with a meh Bowling Green team. Michigan--sans Jack Johnson--dominated the Falcons at Yost on Friday, then yielded 49 shots on goal, 3 shorthanded breakaways, and five goals in Bowling Green with Jack in the lineup. It's ugly out there, and with an away-and-Joe weekend against Michigan State upcoming Michigan is going to be in dire straights unless they snap to it very quickly.
Also in the Michigan hockey coverage thing, Bob Miller has expanded his worldwide reach to Hockey's Future. Check out extensive interviews with Jason Bailey and the four Michigan players who attended the WJC. Also on HF, the ISS had this to say about '06 recruit Trevor Lewis in their latest update:
Trevor Lewis / Des Moines (USHL)
Position: Center, Height: 6-1, Weight: 192
With his excellent play at the recent Viking Cup, Lewis convinced ISS scouts that he is the complete package, meaning he has the size and skill to make him a high draft pick. Lewis is fearless cutting to the net, and likes to cut in off the wing. He has good speed in the neutral zone with or without the puck. He has a hard snap shot and gets it away very quickly. He is a very good skater and is tough to slow down considering his size. He competes hard for the puck in the corners and along the wall.
Part Two of RBUAS's season-end awards is up and, as they say, poppin'. It's outstanding; go!
The means to this particular end are highly questionable, but EDSBS used a strange Atlanta Journal-Constitution article that claims Tressel is owning northeast Ohio to spin a comparison of unmatched hilarity:
Items carried in pocket.
Tressel: Lollipops. Unmarked bills. Keys to cars he doesn't own. A gun. Spare clip-on tie.
Carr: Wallet. Keys to car he owns. Twenty-eight dollars. A packet of McWhorter's "Essential Vitamins for the Bitter and Grizzled."
I heart, etc. I get called a "maze and blue queer" in the comments, fun for the whole family(!).
Back to the AJC article, which may as well be titled "Ted Ginn's Dad Likes Ohio State." It makes a sweeping, specious claim that
Talent-rich northeast Ohio â€” where Michigan found Desmond Howard, Elvis Grbac and Ricky Powers â€” appears to belong to the Buckeyes again.
Why? Well, Ted Ginn, Troy Smith, Chris Wells, and Robert Rose are all current or future Buckeyes. You may note that three of those players (all save Wells) attend Cleveland Glenville, coached by this man here...
...who happens to be Ted Ginn's father. And wearing hundreds of dollars. NTTAWWT.
Tressel may, in fact, be doing a better job keeping Ohio players in Ohio, but the article cited provides nothing approximating proof of it. It was written backwards: Michigan's having an unusual run of high-profile success in the south. Why? Well, they must be hurting somwhere else. Where's a logical place for them to be hurting? Ohio. Let's go get a quote from a guy who works for Ohio State's Scout site! I wonder what he'll say? And thus a meme is born, as this stupid, unresearched idea is given the imprimatur of the AJC.
Notice how carefully constricted the search criteria are: "Northeast" Ohio... Christ. Thus the whole Manningham issue can be glossed over. Next up in the AJC's Tenuously Justified Articles series: "LSU Blowout of Miami Shows Tigers Greatest Team of 2015."
That same article also has this fascinating quote on quarterback David Cone:
"They've [Michigan] had a good run of quarterbacks of 6-5 or better," Statesboro coach Steve Pennington said.
Cone had offers from Ball State, Eastern Kentucky and Mississippi State when he committed to Michigan in September. He dazzled the Wolverines during their summer passing camp.
"They were impressed football-wise with his mechanics, his footwork as well as his throwing motion," Pennington said. "They like his maturity and I guess you would say h."
I guess I would say "h." H.
I don't know why "Statistically Speaking," which listed its affiliation in the BlogPoll as Wake Forest, decided to break down the homefield advantage in the Big Ten, but this is a gift horse situation so I'll shut up real good about now. The numbers over the past six years defy the conventional wisdom; for example, a list of relative point differential home versus away:
- Minnesota 354
- Penn St. 312
- Indiana 287
- Iowa 282
- Michigan St. 269
- Purdue 254
- Ohio St. 209
- Michigan 203
- Illinois 198
- Northwestern 152
- Wisconsin 82
(SS offers a caveat on these numbers for consistently elite teams like OSU and Michigan: their differentials tend to be depressed because they perform very well on the road.)
So... who thought Minnesota and their antiseptic Metrodome would top the list? Or that Camp Randall would be at the bottom? Liars! Remember: Iowa fans tore down the Metrodome goalposts in 2002 and carried large hunks of it out of the stadium; at Wisconsin
they had to rein in fan behavior when people died. Fascinating. Whole post is recommended. Any theories for these inexplicable numbers?
I would be remiss if I didn't point out Jack Shafer's latest article for Slate. In the course of discussing Daniel Synder's media consolidation efforts he echoes themes expressed in this space's ill-tempered media rants:
...on the continuum from pure entertainment to hard news, where does sports journalism reside? Where should it reside? Football, baseball, basketball, hockey, soccer, and other pro games are nothing if not entertainment. While it's possible to mine hard news from the entertainment industry, most sports coverage is entertainment about entertainment. ...
Sports page coverage of the hiring and firing of coaches, the juggling of lineups, the trades, the drafts, and the disabled lists tends to follow the conventions we associate with quality news journalism. But the primary duty of sports sections, sports magazines, and sports news on television is not to be impartial and objective but to delight and divert the audience, no matter how boring the game or dismal the team. Beat reporters routinely skirt journalistic objectivity to subtly pull for the home team because for fans, reading a neutral account of yesterday's game is like kissing your mother. Many of journalism's best writers are assigned to the sports pages in order to entertain. The ones who don't make the grade can always be retooled into war correspondents.
Seconded, though I wonder how much sports journalism Shafer actually reads or how divergent the DC and Detroit markets are. It's dire in the D.
Also... this is totally offtopic, but the late, lamented Suck got a massive profile in a slick quarterly webzine called keepgoing.org. Shafer pops up in quotes semi-frequently. I continued checking Suck for months after they declared they were going on "vacation" until it became very clear that their vacation was really a dirtnap.
Etc: Eli Zaret has a Pistons blog. Ask him if he's mad a Rip Hamilton for usurping his laser eye surgery commercials. TicketMuseum.com has scans of Michigan tickets dating as far back as 1894. Ken Pomeroy has released individual player stats for teams nationwide. Hallelujah; here's Michigan. Chauncey in the NYT (HT: Sweaty Men Endeavors). I'm A Realist takes a look at OSU next year.
1/21/2006 - Michigan 71-55 Minnesota - 13-3, 3-2 Big Ten
We Aren't... Penn State!
At this point the Big Ten has broken down into Northwestern, Penn State, Purdue, Minnesota, and Everybody Else. Michigan established itself a member of "everybody else" by thumping Minnesota and Northwestern so badly that Amadou "Like Darko, Only Less Useful" Ba saw time in both games. Excited? Not so much. Relieved that beating the hopeless four has become more of a routine occurrence than was likely after that Purdue game? Sure. Perspective demands that we look at the last week as the day-to-day drudgery of earning an NCAA tournament bid: Michigan held serve.
Michigan now has a major opportunity to get a break point. Upcoming are two home games against ranked teams--despite the Badgers' stunning loss to North Dakota State (who knew they had a state?). Both are winnable for a team that took Indiana and Illinois to the brink of defeat on the road... but, um, I'll take one of two if you don't mind. Instead of a column, today we have...
A Terrifying Glimpse Into My Mind
I did a thing before where I took notes during the game and then attempted to explain myself afterward; this is where the whole "Manu Ginobli is an annoying Mexican" thing came from. Yes, that's technically incorrect.
I did the notes thing again; I won't reproduce it in the detail I did for that Finals game but here are a few choice snippets:
Um... Horton threw an alley-oop to Graham Brown.
This is never a good idea.
WOOO PETWAY IS FROM SPACE
HOLY CRAP PETWAY!!! SPACE!!! BITCHES!!!
Uh... okay... Petway took a three. Not so space.
Fairly self explanatory: Petway is from space; should not take threes. Also should not rap. One last Petway note...
Petway's comically huge upper lip (due to mouthguard) makes him look like Rocky the Flying Squirrel.
No, it doesn't. I have no idea why I wrote this.
Tollackson does his Ray Lewis impression again... dude you're down 12 with 5 minutes left... and you're a goofy lumberjack looking guy.
Horton steal layup game.
OMG I SCORED I AM SPENCER TOLLACKSON WORSHIP AT THE FEET OF MY MIGHTY BEEEEAAAARD WOMEN OF MINNESOTA(!).
What was with that guy? Every time he'd make a basket he'd undergo this weird sort of pumped-up-honky seizure that was terrifyingly reminiscent of Mark Madsen.
Horton hits a 3 pointer... all of a sudden Michigan has 3,740 points. Ballgame.
They fixed the score, unfortunately.
Here's the sum total of Hunter's first four possessions in the game:
Hunter comes in, immediately loses track of his guy and alley oop results.
Hunter overplays the entry pass, and his man gets an easy bucket and one.
Hunter travels underneath.
Hunter.... eh... not so good.
Minnesota evidently noticed this, too, and went after Hunter on the next two offensive possessions. The results were better: an ugly brick and a traveling violation.
There is a woman with a ludicrous torso behind the Minnesota bench.. swathed in lavender... pendulous.
graphic sez Horton "4/5 from three point land"? Please remove all cutesy references to something that should never have been birthed in the first place
It's bad enough when announcers say something like "three point land," but in the first half summary they actually wrote it down and put it on the screen instead of using that space for useful information. Jakob Neilsen is pissed.
After an ugly first half, I proposed a new set of rules for the basketball team:
NEW RULES FOR MICHIGAN BASKETBALL
if you have an open jumper and you are not Brent Petway, Graham Brown, Courtney Sims, or Amadou Ba: take it. Do not attempt to get a better shot. Do not attempt to improve your position. You will turn it over.
If you are Courtney Sims, when you get doubled throw the ball off your opponent and out of bounds. This is the only way to prevent a turnover.
If you are a guard loosely described as "point" and are generally charged with the operation of the offense in a smooth and efficient manner, please use screens and be cautious driving into the lane, because you are only sporadically good at it.
I forgot to add "Do not throw alley-oops to Graham Brown."
HOLY CRAP SIMS FOUND AN OPEN GUY WHEN DOUBLED
To be fair: Michigan does not do a good job of presenting themselves in the lane and giving sims an option other than Door Number Turnover
Self explanatory, really.
Okay... the first three minutes of this half: 12 points. Points in last ten minutes of first half: 7. What a strange trend: Michigan has come out and gone on massive obliterating runs at the beginning of the second half several times this year.
Does anyone have an explanation for this? It's like they run out of batteries or something.
MOTHERFUCKER. Get up lester.
High ankle sprain. Out for MSU, possibly/probably longer. People Lester Abram may have been in a past life to deserve such a fate:
- Woody Hayes
- Emeril Lagasse
- Bill Walton.
the only guy who looks like he isn't petrified to shoot is Stamper, and whenever he hits one the announcers scream like it's the most unlikely thing they've ever seen.
I would be insulted if I was Mr. Stamper.
The Making Things Happen Guy Who Takes Over And Makes Things Happen Player Of The Game: Daniel Horton. 6/10 from three, 32 points, and good defense.
Horton was goooood. Minnesota's one distinguishing characteristic is stingy defense, and he had Vincent Grier on him for large chunks of the game and still turned in those 32 points on just 16 shots (and 10 free throws). The six turnovers were ugly, but he gets a pass for this game.
Long range bullets
- Michigan is chasing down anyone who will listen to them in the class of 2006 and has made the final four of one Eric Beverly, an Illinois guard who has experienced a meteoric rise (er... meteors don't rise... nevermind) his senior season:
Marshall's Patrick Beverley is clearly the top uncommitted senior in the state, and as such the late interest from schools has blown in like a gale. That is why Beverley, his coach and his family narrowed down his college choices Saturday night to Indiana, Michigan, Virginia and St. John's--all schools that have offered scholarships.
Beverley said he still has interest in Illinois even though the Illini have not made an offer. Coach Bruce Weber has seen Beverley play twice. The 6-2 guard is averaging 36 points for the No. 2 Commandos.
It seems like an Illinois offer will yield an Illinois commitment, but the Illini are tight on scholarship room and recruiting a few other late signees. Still... winning that particular battle looks extremely difficult, with or without Illinois.
a turnover or a blocked shot, though Courtney Sims did make two nice passes to cutters in the second half. Sims is going to be neutralized more often than not these days. He's an okay Big Ten player but not the star we all thought he would be; this is not Amaker's fault.
Minor: major power. Ha!
I always thought Major Major Major Major should have had a little brother named Minor Major.
... but for now, fun padding
to make the
picture not ugly
and the balloonman go
Informative Update: An early bloomer, Minor rushed for 209 yards in his varsity debut as a sophomore and had a monster junior year (2,032 yards and 34 touchdowns). As a result, he garnered attention from a lot of schools very early. Michigan, Miami, Tennesee, and Virginia Tech were his final four--impressive, and everyone who was after him offered him early. Witness this article from The Sabre from April:
6-0, 205-pound tailback Brandon Minor picked up an offer last week from the University of Georgia earlier this week according to Varina assistant coach Blanda Wolfe. Georgia joins Florida and Tennessee as SEC schools that have offered the talented back. Other programs to offer include Miami, Michigan, Nebraska, Virginia and Virginia Tech.
In a March 28th update, Minor listed Miami, Florida, Michigan and Nebraska as his favorites. Virginia, Clemson and Georgia are his most recent offers.
UGA offered before all the summer camps--and they were late to the party. Why the gap between the early offers from premier schools and Minor's guru ratings? Two reasons:
- A hip flexor injury kept him out for much of his senior year, removing him from the spotlight.
- Gurus are concerned about a lack of high-end speed inhibiting him, thus the rating at fullback.
Various Things Said
Some guy with a migrane-inducing website sums up the resume:
3.Brandon Minor 6-1 205 RB Varina High School (As a junior, rushed for 2,091 yards for a 10-1 team, despite his team's efforts to keep the score down during many of the second halves of games by keeping him on the bench. Did not even make 2nd-team All-State, possibly because of his team's upset loss in the regional playoffs. Second-team All-Central Region as a sophomore. Second-team All-Metro as a sophomore: during his team's 9-1 regular season, he ran for 9.0 yards-per-carry, rushing 168 times for 1,505 yards, and scored 20 touchdowns.)
Rivals recruiting honcho Mike Farrell on Minor:
"A big, tough running back with good size, a low center of gravity and toughness. Can wear a defense down. Doesn't have burning speed, but can get outside and has the potential to rattle off some 30- and 40-yarders in college. A workhorse."
Added Varina High School junior Brandon Minor, "I didn't know you could lose so much control of a car."
Now that President Palmer is dead, look for Minor to pop up in Allstate commercials.
Editorial Opinion: Can he play tackle?
No? Damn. Despite that, the Minor acquisition is a good one. A guy who can smash face is always welcome and his offers--which are definitely genuine and came very early--are impressive, especially the Michigan one. Faced with what was looking like a very small class and a (then) extremely young, crowded backfield, Michigan saw fit to offer him immediately after signing day. That spells legit. Despite the whole not-a-tackle thing, hurray.
The reputed lack of hottie in Michigan (the State) and at Michigan (the University) has never particularly bothered me. This is not the case for many people. The impression I get from reading the various blogs of the south is that walking around an area where the corn grows high and the women wide is something like being deprived of oxygen (EDSBS and their Holly Rowe/Generous Farmgirl fetishes excepted), but I guess I grew up at 15,000 feet. I'm used to walking into a bar and having my mental girl filing go something like "no, no, yeesh, no, if I'm drunk, no, maybe, no, no, yes." Since I don't know what it's like to live in a place where "even the fat girls are hot," as Doug of Hey Jenny Slater so elegantly put it, I've adapted to my surroundings. It's like the thing with the frog and the boiling water except without the survivalist/tinfoil hat connotations. I swear this is going to be relevant. Probably.
Anyway, about a month ago Mozilla released Firefox 1.5 and, like the good little code dork I am, I dutifully upgraded. A few weeks later it became evident that whenever ESPN.com was opened up the browser would start consuming vast quanitites of CPU time and eventually crash, though this process took up to five minutes. I apologize, but I find I must break into the dreaded Typical Hack Sportswriter One Sentence Paragraph for emphasis of the highest degree.
This did not particularly bother me.
A remarkable statement, that. There was a time back in the dusty past when I--then a student in the first flush of glorious dorm broadband--read nigh-literally every column published on ESPN.com, (then) CNNSI.com, (a then not useless) SportingNews.com, and CBS Sportsline. A combination of Michigan's magical '97 season and the Broncos' Super Bowl win increased my sports consumption to truly prodigous levels. In those times, a browser that caused any one of these sites to crash would have found itself escorted rudely to the recycle bin, which would have been emptied with a click defiantly supplied by my middle finger.
Now... eh, not so much. As noted above, I didn't even notice that Firefox's apparently random crashes had a definite cause until several weeks after my upgrade. When I did it served notice that my browsing habits had drastically shifted to the point that the only time I actually ended up on ESPN.com or SI.com was when one of the blogs in my ever-burgeoning list of subscribed feeds linked to them, usually to eviscerate someone for being retarded. And it is so: A series of computer crashes and replacements left me starting a new set of bookmarks from scratch. Months later, the only sports sites I've bookmarked? MGoBlog (yay narcissism!) and Yahoo's fantasy homepage. Yow. Everything else lives in Bloglines. (To be fair, I wander over to the Michigan recruiting sites and the local news via the blog sidebar on a regular basis, and Simmons and Feldman are amongst my subscriptions.)
Simultaneously, my increasing engagement with the sports blogosphere means that I'm actually consuming more content than I was during my previous "OMG We're Winning Everything" apex, and it isn't even close. And lo, it is good.
This is where it comes around to the farmgirls again. Before, during the Dark Times in the Long Long Ago, I was desperate enough for sports coverage to read Drew Sharp columns. I absorbed the multifaceted wisdom of Matt Hayes. I read Dennis Dodd. But when you scan the bar and there's nothing but mediocrity, what choice do you have? Before, I read the sporadic "yes," all the "maybes," and a good portion of the "nos," because a man has to get some action. Now... well, it's not that the proportions have changed for the better. Lowering publishing's barrier to entry to the point where anyone with a keyboard and a rock to bash it with can put his deeply insightful insights on the Internets hasn't exactly boosted the standing of the median article on the web. But it has increased the sheer quantity of material to the point where it doesn't matter if 95% of it is garbage, because I can only read 1% of it anyway.
As a result I've gradually shifted my attention to people who write things of interest. Dennis Dodd was replaced by EDSBS. Matt Hayes is gone; Sexy Results! stands in its stead. Detroit columnists not named "Wojo"? Gone; now I read the Michigan blogs linked at left and pine for a Pistons blog that writes about eight times more often than Detroit Bad Boys. Big Ten Wonk didn't even replace anyone; it created a new space in my reading day for a sport I previously only vaguely acknowledged. Hell, I know more about Leonard Pope and DJ Shockley than any SEC players to run through the conference in the past 20 years because there are approximately six quality Georgia blogs for every resident of the state.
To borrow a phrase from Dee Snider: We Don't Have To Read It Anymore. A significant majority of people still will, of course. Media conglomerates are experts at finding a tepid middle ground that a large number of people will find suitable. Blogs are not going to OMG obliterate "old media" any more than the general public is going decide that Britney Spears sux and move en masse to bizarre caterwauling elfin harpists. But now people who are bored with the same old song can find something else. It's indie, baby! Yeah!
Now where are my hot blog groupies?