here's one vote for "John Beilein's head in a Futurama jar"
It's January, late January, and that can only mean one thing other than constant Terrelle Pryor fretting: college football blogger awards. Full details can be found at Rocky Top Talk and Every Day Should Be Saturday; things are much the same as they were last year: open nomination process, final voting open to college football bloggers only.
There are a few changes. Some awards required sufficient research on the part of voters to educate themselves that the nefarious cabal behind them felt they were better off as jury prizes. We have a realistic view of the amount of effort -- zero --that will be put into the voting by most participants, and the end result is usually Big Blog reining victorious no matter the merits of the smaller blog's offerings. By getting even more elitist we hope to make things more democratic. Or at least more interesting than "hey... this also goes to Orson."
There is also a second national championship award offering, because it wouldn't be college football without multiple, contradictory votes on the same damn thing. The "People's Champ" award, so named to make fun of Auburn fans and not to honor The Rock, is another national championship sort of award with one exception: final voting is open to all, not just bloggers. As such, Orson will obviously win it but what the hell.
Readers will probably be a little pissed off they can't vote on the final ballots, but you have an opportunity to contribute now. There is a nomination gizmo for you use. Therein you can vote for any number of things once per day; the final numbers spat out by the gizmo will heavily influence the award nominees. This is especially important in the more specific categories like "Best Post" or "Best Multimedia Thing"; everything that's nominated will get dug out and reviewed by the award committee. So if there's some post you remember being awesome, please point it out to us. If you can't remember the URL, hell just describe it and we'll find it. If you are so incredibly opposed to PHP that you can't bear to use the gizmo, leave a comment. Just please help us in the gargantuan task of winnowing the ever-expanding blogosphere into a few shiny nuggets.
Update 1/21: removed TX CB Adrian Bushell, CA OL Vaughn Dotsy, a couple WRs. Added OH LB Taylor Hill as committed. Bumped SC CB JT Floyd to blue. Moved PA HB Christian Wilson from committed, downgraded to yellow based on mother's comments on message board.
Editorial Opinion: Pryor was in town. When he texted an AP reporter that Michigan was "cool," said text message became a national headline.
What do we know now that we did not know before? Nothing. Pryor did show on his official visit and had a fine enough time. Ohio State fans fail to see Michigan as any sort of threat to win his commitment. ESPN has reported a couple times that Pryor is choosing between Michigan, Oregon, and LSU. The Michigan camp seems cautiously optimistic. Pryor will decide on signing day.
From the hilarious wrongness of ESPN on down this is all status quo despite rumors flying around every which way from a guy who met a guy on the team at a party, etc etc etc. Pryor obviously wants maximum drama and is going to get it on Signing Day.
Is this interesting?
"I think I know where he's going, but I'm not saying where," [live-in godfather(???) Willie] Burns told The Detroit News Friday evening. "I think he's a made a decision, but he doesn't want to tell the media until signing day."
Maybe, but you could read it either way:
- Jonas Gray's prediction that Michigan would get him if Mallett transfered, gathered after talking with Pryor at the Army game, has come true yay yay yay.
- If he's decided without visiting Michigan he's obviously going to Ohio State boo boo boo.
I dunno, and doubt anyone will until February 6th.
The rest of the world. We should know shortly about the future of slot WR DJ Woods, choosing between Michigan and Cincinnati. On the surface, this should not be a competitive battle but if Woods feels snakebit by Rodriguez maybe he'll flee to the arms of Brian Kelly, who is totally guaranteed to leave Cinci before he does.
JT Floyd came in for an official and seems to have enjoyed himself:
It went great, I loved it," Floyd said. "I found out this South Carolina guy can take the cold. They explained to me if I come in and work hard, there's an opportunity for a lot of playing time as a freshman. I like Michigan. I enjoyed the program, every aspect of it."
Floyd must have antifreeze in his veins, because it was downright arctic this weekend. He's planning a visit to Tennessee next week, after which he'll decide. Floyd's technically a UT commit -- committed to them midway through his junior year, actually -- but given the quote above seems very likely to end up at Michigan.
Less salutary news on PA HB Christian Wilson. Earlier this year Wilson's mom popped up on an outlying Michigan message board to chat about her son's then-pending decision. She was looking for reassurance that this h-back position Michigan was recruiting him for actually existed. Concerns assuaged, Wilson committed to Michigan shortly thereafter. In the aftermath of the coaching changeover, however, those concerns have re-asserted themselves, and the coaching staff isn't being comforting:
I will choose my words wisely as to not cause Christian any backlash. As everyone knows Christian LOVES MI. He has never waivered from that. He told me that he took these visits just to reconfirm his decision and to make sure he could say Mom, I weighed all options and I stand by my decision. Very smart for any 17 year old.
Now, where I need to be careful, He has yet to Have RR visit him in person. We have never met him and Christian has only talked to him over the phone once. Though we heard he has been in Pittsburgh 3 times. (I assume for Terrelle) Next, 4 coaches came recently and asked Christian not to take visits or they would need to open their recruiting.
Is that normal practice?
Now, in the spread an H-back is not really used, so the coaches are explaining to him how they would try and use him, but it keeps sounding like Owen Schmidt style of position and Christian is not a "beer Truck" as he was referred to. He is more agile and has a better eye for the field (so they say)
I agree, I would love to talk with RR and will be in AA on Monday for business.
Here is my last question, Christian has spoken to about 8 of the other recruits who have been taking official visits the past 2 weeks and none of them have been told what Christian has been told. Why is he being asked not to take anymore but these other kids haven't? I don't want to mention names because they told him this in confidence.
I just want him to be happy and MI makes him happy, the players, fans, area all of it. But lets face it, 70% of his days are with the coaches and at this point he really feels they don't want him. All these other back s they are looking at are 6 foot and under (Let's face it they all exaggerate their heights) and less than 190lbs. Christian is s true 6'3" kid and does weigh 235lbs.
Wilson's status is questionable despite an article earlier this week in which he claimed he was a solid verbal. If the coaching staff wants him, they'll have to start paying him significantly more attention; if they do so he'll stay a commitment.
More targets. Right, TJ Lawrence is a Florida safety visiting next weekend and Desmond Johnson is a sleeper guy from Mississippi; Michigan is also on the verge of (or already has) offered a number of guys from Ohio and Mississippi, former home of LB coach Jay Hopson. As these guys start getting official offers I'll add them; expect at least three "who?" commits over the next week or two.
Yes, recruiting update coming. Your Pryor update: everyone says everything.
Ugly. Calvin Magee, Michigan's new offensive coordinator, believes he was not a serious candidate for the West Virginia head coaching job because he's black:
"For seven years I was told that once you're a Mountaineer, you're always a Mountaineer," said Magee, a Wolverine now after resigning Jan. 4 to become Rich Rodriguez's associate head coach and offensive coordinator at Michigan. "I bought into that. But I found out ... that isn't true."
He understands that some people, especially those who harbor resentment for all things Rodriguez, will consider his viewpoint jaundiced because he is so aligned with the new Michigan coach. Magee doesn't back down from his support for and gratitude to Rodriguez. Yet he feels stereotyped as a minority coach -- "racial discrimination and harassment" was how his and Rodriguez's agent, Mike Brown, described West Virginia's handling of Magee in the end -- and thereby disappointment about West Virginia administrators and for other qualified potential coaching candidates who happen to be a minority.
Who's up for another round of recriminations? Super!
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article is a good one, deep and balanced with quotes from both sides. It's all very complicated; from this vantage point the inevitable reaction (which you can already see swinging into action in Ivan Maisel's piece) is going to be of the "over-" variety. Maisel leads with an incident in which a member of WVU's athletic department told Magee that in his opinion he would not be a serious candidate because of his excessive melanin content. This constitutes one dude's thought processes about other people's thought processes and is not indicative of anything except said dude's general cynicism about race relations at WVU. It is not actual evidence of racism.
Is there evidence? Well, yes and no. The embarrassing paucity of black D-I head coaches would be a lot simpler to address if people went around being flagrantly racist in ways that yielded a firing and a spanking. It is not so. Each decision to hire a Not Black guy is individually reasonable and defensible; it's only in the seven-of-119 aggregate that there's clear evidence of a problem.
In this situation there's a reason Magee was passed over that has nothing to do with his race and everything to do with his decision to get on a plane with Rich Rodriguez and go to Michigan's introductory press conference. Given WVU's deep draught of Rodriguez haterade, anyone who publicly affiliated himself with the Great Satan was dead in the eyes of WVU's athletic department. Witness the petulance in the immediate aftermath of the plane flight:
"Two days later [Dec. 19], I got my phone confiscated from me and was told not to make any recruiting calls. So immediately after seven years of service, I thought, 'Why are they doing this to me?' On their behalf, I got an apology the next day [from Athletic Director Ed Pastilong] and given all the stuff back."
Magee, still employed by West Virginia and planning on coaching the bowl game, was hassled as he tried to prepare his team. This was probably not because of his skin tone.
Ultimately, WVU made a stupidly emotional decision, and while it is kind of funny that these stupidly emotional decisions usually end up with a completely unqualified white dude in charge in this WVU is no different than most schools. What happened to Magee could have happened anywhere.
And the timing? Makes this look like a counter-smear of the Rodriguez smear, which seems petty and vindictive. To be clear: Magee doesn't come off like that in the article; he has a legit beef with the way things ended at WVU. But from the aerial view it's just going to look like a bunch of douchebags covered in mud. Can all this end, like, now? The next I'd like to hear about Rodriguez and West Virginia would be "lawsuit settled for undisclosed amount of dollars," and then we can move on with our lives.
Matters of state. West Virginia governor Joe Manchin:
"As far as everyone I know -- and that includes the president and the athletic director and most of the staff -- there is no smear campaign,'' Manchin told The Charleston Gazette. "The facts are simply what they are.''
Yes, the "facts" like "Rodriguez shredded the entire building! We're very cold now! And the heating bill is super high!"
Jennifer Granholm has not, as of yet, offered her opinion on the controversy. Probably because she's the governor.
Two established sources indicate that both members of Michigan's 2007 right guard platoon will not be returning for fifth years due to medical issues. (Yes, medical issues beyond Mike Barwis.)
Though neither exactly shone in '07, losing both leaves Michigan's offensive line in a precarious position. Justin Boren and Steve Schilling return. Mark Ortmann is a good bet to start at one of the tackle spots. Past that it's all question marks; Michigan's inability to get more than two offensive linemen in the '07 recruiting class doesn't help.
Purely speculative, but based on buzz I would guess Michigan opens 2008 with a line like so:
|Left Tackle||Left Guard||Center||Right Guard||Right Tackle|
|Mark Ortmann, Jr*||Justin Boren, Jr||Dave Moosman, So*||Steve Schilling, So*||Perry Dorrestein, So*|
At this point looks like Michigan's 2008 offense will have zero senior starters.
Yes, Terrelle Pryor will be in town this weekend and will be attending various things at which point you, the interested public, can express your desire for him to attend your school. (Keep the signs vague, though -- anything with Pryor's name on it will get confiscated due to NCAA regulations. I suppose you could slap Richard Pryor's picture up on the signs, but I doubt that will fly.)
But may I suggest that perhaps some of the proverbial "love" be spread to the other recruits in attendance? '09 Beilein recruit Jordan Morgan will be there, as will a number of other football recruits including Kenny Demens, Mike Martin, DJ Woods, JT Floyd, Brandon Moore, Michael Shaw, and Boubacar Cissoko. Martin, Woods, Floyd, and Shaw are all either uncommitted or visiting elsewhere; let 'em know they're wanted too. Just look for the enormous dudes in varsity jackets.
A final suggestion: Elliot Mealer is also supposed to come up. Mealer's going through a tougher time than I and likely 99.9% of this blog's readership have ever or will ever experience; some positive reinforcement for the kid is in order.
Maze Rage, I charge thee with this task. Go unto Crisler and make it happen.
Oh, right. Amongst the many mysteries found in Rich Rodriguez's phone records are the 112 calls to Peterstown, a tiny hamlet of 300 on the Virginia border hours away from Morgantown. This all seems verrry suspicious to crack West Virginia reporters:
Let the latest innuendo roll as many seem suspicious of the 112 calls placed by Rich Rodriguez to Peterstown in his final two months on campus. A lot of the phones calls are to faraway cities â€” Phoenix, Boston, Toledo, to name a few â€” but it's easy to make logical connections to Rodriguez.
Peterstown is puzzling, though. I've gotten a bunch of calls and e-mails wondering about the identity or the person/people. I do not have the number. Every number was blacked out except for the calls made to and received from the state of Michigan. Why? I have no clue.
"The intrigue lives on," concludes crack West Virginia reporter. Indeed. The intrigue. The mystery. The... voicemail:
It does appear that the voice mail number for Cellular One (which was the carrier for at least one of Rod's phones) uses the Peterstown exchange
Type: Cell Phone
Provider: American Cellular Corporation
Location: Peterstown, WV
I'm a cell one customer and 994-0001 is definitely the voice mail #.
Man... jeez. Everyone's ready to string up Jim Carty after yesterday, when he wrote an article stating Rodriguez should apologize and pay up, then directly asked Rodriguez about apologizing in the teleconference. Rodriguez responded "apologize for what"; Carty responded "for hurting their feelings." Which... uh... didn't go over well amongst Michigan fans. A followup today:
What he still doesn't seem to get, though, is that the main reason he's being smeared is because he behaved so poorly on his way out as West Virginia football coach.
Michigan fans want to overlook that. They want to circle the wagons around their guy, even though he's a guy they hardly know.
This cuts both ways, does it not? Both Rodriguez defenders and assaulters hardly know him. We know almost nothing about what went on in the WVU athletic department. We have no idea why Rodriguez left. Carty details a list of offenses:
Let's imagine you had a football coach you loved at Michigan, who told you, "This is my school," who said he was going to be "here a long time," and a year later, behind your back, when he was thought to be recruiting for Michigan, he's caught interviewing for another job.
Then the coach informed Bill Martin he was quitting by sending a graduate assistant to tell Martin, and called Michigan's top recruit - and incidentally the best player in the nation - to tell him he was leaving, before he told his own Michigan players, and invited the kid to ditch Michigan and come to New Job U.
Then, hours after quitting, he used his Michigan cell phone to call high school recruits who had already committed to New Job U.
Oh, and he hired lawyers to get him out of the buyout he owed you according to terms of the contract he just signed last summer.
There's no way you'd be defending that guy.
Defending, no. This is not about "defending," though. There's a proper level of disgust here that WVU fans are entitled to about equal to Michigan fans' disgust with Ryan Mallett. I don't want Mallett to be any good at Arkansas and I think the guy is a prima donna. But I'm not going to sneak into his dorm room every night and hit his fingers with a tiny hammer so they're oddly sore the entire year. He left. I don't care past that.
Rodriguez left. This is his sin. Leaving a school is unavoidably kind of skeezy in a way that taking a new accounting job is not because you have made promises to a bunch of kids in college. There's no way around that. But the same curse would have followed Greg Schiano (who flirted with Miami last year) or Kirk Ferentz or, hell, even Brady Hoke.
The rest of it doesn't bother me, though. Who was harmed by any of it? At one point Rodriguez flipped from being WVU's coach to being Michigan's coach, and he immediately started acting on behalf of Michigan. Rodriguez got burned by the Pryor call when Pryor immediately rang up Scout to break the news, but given the state of the rumors flying around it's very doubtful something wasn't going to break in the next couple hours. And does it matter how the news breaks? He left.
I fail to see anything even slightly unethical in Rodriguez's initial calls to Michigan recruits. They occurred after Rodriguez met with his team; he had discharged his obligations to WVU then. Does it matter which phone he made them from? No. Thought that may be a technical no-no, it's not unethical in any way. Sticking that in there submarines Carty's thrust much in the same way WVU now looks ridiculous for claiming that the entire athletic department went through Rich Rodriguez's shredder.
Attempting to get out of a buyout is SOP; see John Beilein. No one demanded Beilein apologize.
Similarly, the infamous "grad student" thing. Who cares? He left. He met face-to-face with his kids and told them. That's what's important. He did that. I don't care what Ed Pastilong thinks. I care what Owen Schmitt thinks:
Schmitt, an honor student, did not criticize his coach's departure.
"You've got to do what you've got to do sometimes," Schmitt said at the time. "He did all he could for us. As far as I know he did a lot of great things for this university."
Giving Schmitt a chance was one of them.
Criticisms of Rodriguez all boil down to "he left." Yes, he did, and he's already apologized to the people he had to. Yahoos like this...
...deserve nothing but pity.
Update: Wow. This blog has given Stuart Mandel a lot of stick in its history, but his latest is a comprehensive WVU takedown. I take back 20% of all the nasty things I've said.