The most persistently wrong thing I was wrong about amongst the many persistently wrong things I asserted about Rich Rodriguez and his bite-sized Era at Michigan was: "that turnover margin is going to be a lot closer to zero this year." Or words to that effect.
I should have been right, or at least in the general ballpark of right. Rodriguez's West Virginia teams were consistently in the black. Turnover margin is so weakly correlated from year to year that Phil Steele annually puts out a "turnovers = turnaround" post highlighting teams with double-digit swings in either direction so that he can predict against the teams with big numbers and in favor of the teams with little tiny ones. Here's your favorite team:
And here's how that worked out:
Amongst the many things that got Rodriguez fired, the persistently huge negative turnover margin is neck and neck with transferpalooza and program alum white blood cells for second place.
So these days, running across stats like these…
running the correlation between one year's turnover margin and the next, I found that the correlation was a mere 12%. That's still something, but it's clear that for most teams, the turnover margin they enjoy one year has virtually zero predictive value for the turnover margin they will enjoy the next year. That means that on average, teams with substantially positive margins will see major decline in margin the next year, and teams with substantially negative margins will see major improvement the next year. A team with a -10 turnover margin in 2009, for example, would have an expected turnover margin of -1.2 in 2010, an improvement of nearly a full turnover per game!
…make me want to bang my head against the wall. Of course Michigan would be as large of a chunk of that correlation as possible, and of course they would be on the negative side of things. Thump. Thump. (The only thing worse than defying this correlation is defying the correlation between turnovers and wins: GTP points out Georgia went from –16 to +10 and still finished two games worse than they did last year. That would seriously harsh my buzz if I was a Georgia fan.)
I have tried to make the world make sense and this is what I've come up with:
- The correlation is so low because quarterbacks are so important. The general path of a quarterback is: bench, horrible interception-laden youth, cool as a elderly cucumber, repeat. When you have a senior quarterback you are likely to have a good turnover margin and guaranteed to not have that guy back next year.
- The same goes for everywhere else, albeit to a lesser extent. Good defenses tend to have seniors on them and tend to not have many returning starters.
- Michigan eschewed the general path in favor of freshmen or equivalents. Rodriguez never started the same guy two years in a row, and while that turned out to be the right decision it meant three straight years of horrible interception-laden etc.
- When your defense is so, so bad you escape TO margin gravity. AKA GERG. Also, what's the one thing that consistently generates turnovers? QB pressure. Michigan finished 98th in sacks and loved them some three-man rushes.
So while year-to-year correlation is low across college football, if you correct for experience—especially at QB—and maybe lack of prominent walk-ons/converted WRs in the secondary that 12% would be significantly larger. Michigan's program got so messed up that they stopped participating in the circle of turnovers*. Instead they laid at the bottom of the national rankings, a corpse dragged down by redzone interceptions.
Seriously, This Time It's Serious
Um… so… there's the above theory. And then there's Denard Robinson, Michigan's first returning starter at QB since Chad Henne. And then there's Greg Mattison and a defense that uses Craig Roh as a pass rusher instead of a clunky linebacker. There are a bunch of returning starters everywhere, including four guys on the offensive line.
I'm going to be the guy who puts his hat on a stick and pokes it out of a trench to see if there are any snipers around, again: Michigan's turnover margin should scream towards zero this year. They've got gravity on their side and many things besides. Also, Brady Hoke's miraculous digestive tract will move all that Tyler Sash wackiness to Ann Arbor.
This is the year Michigan has a mediocre turnover margin. Believe.
The Rivals Top 250 list was recently released and Michigan still has a shot with around 45 of those top recruits. Among the top prospects is La Costa Canyon offensive tackle Erik Magnuson. The 6-foot-6, 275-pound lineman checks in as the number 34 overall prospect in the nation with a 4 star ranking. Considering the competition among offensive linemen in the 2012 class, that ranking says a lot.
Back in March Magnuson updated us on his knowledge of Michigan and familiarity with the new coaching staff from their days at San Diego State. "Yeah, I know [the coaches] from there. I feel like Coach Funk is a great coach and really knows a lot about the offensive line….Coach Funk is just the man. He took me in when I was a sophomore and just really treated me well," he said. He also mentioned that despite the fact that he lives in California he prefers the cold weather of Michigan.
Erik's then top five consisted of Michigan, Oregon, USC, Miami, and Oklahoma but was still changing as offers were coming in. He now knows who the top three programs are, but isn't ready to announce all three schools just yet. "I haven't come out with the top three yet. I'm waiting a little bit to make it public, but I will say that Michigan is one of them," he said. "I'm only taking official visits to schools that I'm really serious about and I will be out to Michigan this fall for an official."
Magnuson will release the rest of his top three to the public soon, but isn't sure when exactly. He also doesn't have a set timeline for when he'd like to make his decision, but is hoping that comfortable feeling lets him know when he's ready.
Erik Magnuson Junior Film
Presidential band. Via MVictors, the Michigan Marching band performing for Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan:
Not an endorsement of politics, etc.
Oversigning movement? Braves and Birds's post on the two schools who should be on the warpath about oversigning (Florida and Georgia) has already proven wicked prescient and it continues to do so:
"You've got 20 spaces but you've still signed 25. Well, you can bring them in during the summer, work them and let your strength staff work with them, and decide which ones you like the best. The other five, you can tell them, 'Hey, we know we signed you, we expect you to come in, but we don't have space for you, we're sorry, but you have to leave and come back in January.'"
After a brief pause, Richt gave his feelings on that particular tactic.
"I think that's an awful thing to do," Richt said. "It's nothing that we have ever done since we've been at Georgia."
Get The Picture pulls out another section of that story that suggests Richt believes there's going to be change in the near future:
“Almost every year there have been guys in our class in that gray shirt situation. Normally, we say you don’t have to tell anybody, just sign on Signing Day and the chances of you coming in with your class, no one’s going to know the difference, which I don’t think is dishonest with the way things are,” Richt said. “So we’ve signed guys knowing that the class is full and asked if they could come in January, but every time we’ve done that, there’s been a space and they came in with their class.”
But those rules might be about to change.
According to Richt, the SEC and the NCAA is changing the rules “just as rapidly as they can to keep it from happening in the future.”
The most obvious change you could make is to require the financial aid offered in return for an LOI applicable in fall. You could still grayshirt, but you wouldn't get to use the letter of intent to lock the kid in. If he gets a better offer he can take it. Insert the usual spiel about how the LOI is mostly a one-way street.
Oversigning would be a lot tougher if you couldn't receive a letter of intent without an existing spot. "Extra" players would know where they stood and head elsewhere before they got a dorm room. It wouldn't be perfect but it would be better.
The divisional alignment exuded balance. But the league’s creation of permanent cross-divisional opponents did not. Based on the current eight-game league schedule, some teams have obvious advantages over others. For instance, Michigan State will play Indiana — which had the most losses over the 17-year period — every year and Ohio State four times over 10 years. Michigan, however, will play Ohio State — which had the most wins over the 17-year period — every year and Indiana four times over 10 years. Wisconsin’s cross-divisional rival (Minnesota) hasn’t even tied for a Big Ten title since 1967, while Penn State’s cross-divisional rival (Nebraska) has won three national titles in the last 17.
Meanwhile, Michigan won't play Wisconsin for four years. Incoming freshmen who don't redshirt won't ever have the privilege of staring down a wild boar in a helmet. I know Athletic Director X now has to have seven home games a year because of vastly increased costs that are totally not optional at all or offset by ballooning TV contracts, but long-term thinking should dictate a ninth conference game for competitive equity and various other things.
I'm not sure if I can get behind author Scott Dochterman's suggestion that the ninth game be another protected crossover game that attempts to balance schedules by giving each team a traditionally strong and traditionally crappy protected rival. Michigan would get either Illinois or Indiana on a permanent basis, which means they'd still miss PSU and Wisconsin 50% of the time.
On the other hand, he lays out a conference schedule that looks almost totally balanced. Here's Michigan's:
- Divisional opponents: Iowa, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern
- Permanent cross-divisional opponent: Ohio State (1)
- Second permanent cross-divisional opponent: Illinois (2)
- First cycle: Penn State (1), Indiana (2)
- Second cycle: Wisconsin (1), Purdue (2)
Everyone else's is about right. Do you want more frequent games against interesting teams or an almost totally fair schedule?
In the meantime the first divisional tiebreaker should be the conference record of your opponents from the other division.
Groan. The usual: recent Michigan alumni say things, people facepalm. Whether it's Brian Griese saying Michigan "lacked effort" under Rodriguez, to which I say…
…this is a process many were involved in, or Morgan Trent saying Michigan didn't take Michigan State seriously, every time a former player is quoted somewhere I have to delve deeper into the google image search for facepalm. This last one was bad enough that Jerel Worthy blew up on twitter about it and all you can say is, "yeah, pretty much."
Morgan Trent! When the guy who about singlehandedly lost the 2006 OSU game is saying there's a "real program" now the disease has reached its terminal stage.
Further evidence Beilein is scouting ninja. Rivals has put up their first 2012 basketball rankings and Michigan commit Glenn Robinson III, who was relatively unheralded when he committed, comes in 50th. Nick Stauskas is 89th. Rivals puts a ton of emphasis on AAU, which GRIII is currently tearing up and Stauskas sitting out with a knee issue. Another of the raves becoming de riguer:
Glenn Robinson III (2012): I hadn’t seen the 6-6 Robinson since last summer. Wow. He looks a lot different. He has really filled out since last July, adding about 25 pounds of muscle. He still has that nice 15- to 18-foot shot, but his explosiveness getting to the basket has raised his game to another level. Robinson drove the middle of the lane in a game Sunday and dunked over another guard with authority. The quote of the weekend from that player: “If I knew that was Glenn Robinson, I wouldn’t have tried to block it.” From the couple games I saw, Robinson is very deserving talent-wise of his spot as a core player on the Junior All-Star team.
Robinson AAU teammate Mitch McGary is #5(!), and now we've got an open scholarship so that's totally happening. He vaguely mentioned us at Inside The Hall. Happening.
UMHoops has more scouting video of Robinson, BTW.
Borges: win. Do you know what you want your offensive coordinator to sound like? An IT guy:
"What we want to keep, what we want to throw out, what we may want to add," said Borges, who added he probably won't install much more of the playbook during preseason camp in August. "(We're) trouble-shooting the offense and trying to accommodate the personnel, and now we have a little data to do it. Before spring we didn't know what of our offense our kids could run. Now we've got a much better feel."
Unfortunately the spring game implied the answer to "what can our kids run?" is "nothing you want to"; fortunately Borges seems a lot more flexible than Rodriguez or Michigan past. Proof will be in the pudding. The Saturday Pudding.
Open season. Mike Spath has an interesting column at the Wolverine about Mel Pearson's change of heart. Pearson, long thought the heir apparent to Red Berenson, turned down a ton of overtures over the years but has now left for Michigan Tech. Tech is his alma mater, yes, but it's also the most downtrodden program in the country. Others may be worse year in, year out, but none of those teams spend their year getting their face stomped by the WCHA. It's a depressing job.
Why is Pearson taking it? Maybe because that heir apparent thing is no longer very apparent:
"Here is an opportunity, if you want to get head-coaching experience, if you want that on your resume whether you're looking at my job or any job down the road, here's your chance," Berenson said. "I don't know what David Brandon's criteria will be someday but I suspect head-coaching experience is important."
And it is important. How important? Two different sources have said Pearson (or Powers) will face a mountain of an uphill climb if they don't have head-coaching experience on their resume. One of the sources even saying, "No way Brandon hires a guy that has never been responsible for an entire program. Especially with the way he wants to market the hockey team going forward."
Pearson goes from a shoo-in to a longshot, as Spath has been making noises about Michigan hiring literally anyone they want in the college hockey world with a few limited exceptions (program icons like York, Parker, Umile, and that's about it). If Pearson wants the job he's going to have to be a head coach somewhere.
For a relaxing time, make it a contrast between Michigan's direction with its hockey hire and Michigan State's.
Etc.: Former PSU Austin Scott thinks the dismissed rape charge against him was conspiracy. MSU instate recruiting freakout makes the mainstream media. Never addressed in these sorts of articles is what it means when two schools both go after the same players and they all go to one. Softball is hosting a regional this weekend. First game is Friday at eight against Western. Get there early—it won't last long. Zach Hyman, a big time hockey recruit has decommitted from Princeton in the wake of Guy Gadowsky's hire at Penn State and is looking at Michigan along with a few other schools. He would be a major help next year.
this will soon be the literal truth, literally
This site has fretted about, then documented the bad things massive attrition under Rich Rodriguez did to Michigan's Academic Progress Rating. The APR is a complicated number that's supposed to equate a 60% graduation rate to 925. Once you drop below that the NCAA starts glaring at you. Michigan put up a 897 in 2010, a 940 in 2009, and a 918 in 2008 (Carr's last year). They need a 945 this year to keep their head above water; that 897 will be an anchor for the next three years.
Right now, dropping below 925 doesn't automatically start hurting you. Between 900 and 925 the only punishments are a one-for-one scholarship reduction for every player who leaves ineligible. This results in yearly complaints about the various schools that didn't meet the minimum but didn't get punished. It's confusing and a little limp-wristed.
That would change if random NCAA committee has its way:
Currently in the Academic Performance Program, teams face two penalty benchmarks – 925 for more immediate penalties and 900 for longer-term, more serious sanctions. The committee is proposing the penalty structure be consolidated, with a single benchmark set at a projected 50 percent GSR. [Ed: this is estimated to be 925-930.]
While the 50 percent GSR is considered a minimum standard, Harrison said the committee also recommends that the long-term goal be stated clearly for the membership to raise the expectations above a projected 50 percent GSR.
Eliminating that grace zone and a lot of the exemptions that go with it is probably a good idea in the wider view. Right now you get things like South Florida dropping under the 925 level, losing ground the next year without penalty (which totally happened but I can't find the relevant link—their numbers are the worst the BCS FWIW), or Kentucky basketball graduating half of the 60% minimum but still checking out A-OK. Right now the APR is weaker than it should be.
In the shorter view, Michigan David Letterman puts his finger under his collar to go "yeeargh" when he reads this proposed penalty for dropping under the 925-ish level that corresponds to a 50% GSR:
Level One: Public notice and a financial aid penalty of 10 percent from the four-year average of total aid awarded. If the team demonstrates improvement, the financial aid penalty would be reduced to 5 percent. For example, a Football Bowl Subdivision team that awards the full complement of scholarships would be penalized nine overall counters and three initial counters at the 10 percent level, while men’s and women’s basketball would be penalized two scholarships.
Hypothetically, not hitting a 925-ish APR results in scholarship penalties equivalent to the worst NCAA sanctions in twenty years. That's level one! If you get to level two you have to eat your own face. Albert Lin writes your obituary if you hit level three.
A change that drastic would have to come with a lot of warning. (I mean, right? /finger under collar) Presumably by then Michigan will have pulled its APR out of the danger zone, at which point they'd be cheering on any NCAA committee itching to rip the spine out of schools not as committed to graduating kids. So… a qualified hurrah with the stipulation this has to be one of those committee-type timelines where it takes forever to do anything.
Michigan kept the commitment train rolling by landing Matt Godin and 2013 QB Shane Morris last week. With 11 commitments already in the 2012 class it doesn't look like things will slow down just yet. Here's a look at some recent happenings, and where Michigan is at with a few new prospects.
6'5", 270 lbs.
Keenan is a versatile lineman that has racked up around 15 offers from Arizona, Arkansas, Michigan, Mississippi State, and Tennessee, amongst others. Despite the fact that Trey lives in Texas he has some roots in Michigan.
Michigan came by the other day, Coach Funk did. We plan on making it up this summer because my grandma still lives in St. Clare Shores, that's where my dad's from. He played at Northwood and he's a big Michigan guy. He grew up with the 70's and 80's teams when Michigan was cranking out good teams. He always cheered for Michigan.
Trey has been to Ann Arbor before, just not for a football game.
Before I was a football player I was a big hockey player. We went to Ann Arbor for a hockey game once. I played hockey until I was 15, and I was actually drafted by the Seattle Thunderbirds in the Western league.
Michigan already has one former hockey player turned offensive lineman in Ben Braden. It would be pretty unique to have two in one class. The Wolverines seem to be high on Keenan's list for a number of reason.
Coach Funk said they're in a real shortage of offensive linemen, they only have eleven. They want to try to get six out of our class. I think he likes how athletic I am, and I'm strong enough to be in lifting meets.
It seems as though the Michigan coaches are positioning themselves to make Keenan's final list as well.
I want to figure out my list by the schools that I feel like have invested time in me, coming by my school, and making the extra effort with handwritten letters like Michigan has. If football didn't happen that I'd still love going to school there. I also want to go to a place that could push me football wise and if everything worked out right, get me to the next level. I think Michigan fits those points.
He plans on having his narrowed down list out by the end of this school year. As he said he'll make it up to Michigan sometime in the summer. Ultimately he would like to have his final decision made before his senior year starts up at the end of summer.
6'1", 175 lbs.
Michigan is in great shape with a few defensive backs that already hold offers. The coaches, however, are still offering defensive back prospects that they think fit their system. Glenville DB De'von Bogard is the most recent recipient, and Will Hines could potentially be on that list as well. I have been in contact with Hines for some time now, but he believes that things are starting to pick up.
I have eight offers so far and I think Texas A&M and Michigan might be close to offering. Michigan came by the school the other day. Coach Funk said he liked my updated highlight film and the defensive coordinator just needed to look at it. He's going to look at it in the next few weeks I guess.
I believe the coaches will be out recruiting these next couple weeks, so Mattison will probably watch his film after that. Hines said that he does have a top list right now, but that could change if some schools jump in the mix.
Right now it's Arkansas, Baylor, Missouri, Notre Dame, and Oklahoma State. Those are the top five that have offered. If Michigan offers then they'll probably take Notre Dame's spot.
Hines doesn't know too much about Michigan yet, but is definitely hoping for an offer.
They have a great history, a great program, and they make a lot of great players. It's going to be tough to get up there, but I am going to try to get up there for a visit. I'd like to make my decision towards the end of summer after I get some visits in.
Like I said Michigan is in great shape with a few other defensive backs, so we'll see in the near future how many spots are left.
6'3", 235 lbs.
Michigan has already extended a few offers to 2013 prospects. Commit Shane Morris, and Ohio super Dymonte Thomas were the first two. The third is Detroit Catholic Central ATH Wyatt Shallman.
[Michigan] offered me in person. Me, my dad, my mom, and sister all met the coaches. We went in and talked to Coach Hoke and he offered. We were just kind of small talking and then he said, by the way you have a full scholarship to go here that will pay for your education. We just kind of looked at each other, and my mom cried. It didn't really sink in to me until I was driving away from the stadium and I could see it in the rear view, as cliche as that sounds.
Cincinnati has also offered Shallman, and he's hearing from MSU as well. The interesting part of the Michigan offer is that the coaching staff has told him they want him as a tailback, not a fullback.
I was offered as a tailback at Michigan. There's a common misconception that I'm big and will play fullback. I believe that I could be a different type of tailback. I had a long talk with Fred Jackson. They were telling me how the offensive coordinator came from Auburn with Ronnie Brown. Everyone said Ronnie was a fullback, but they noticed his speed and used him as a tailback. I feel like there's some parallels with him, and they told me I'd be dotting the i.
Even though Michigan was his first offer, Penn State was where his recruitment started. That seems to have left an impression on him as well.
Penn State is really the first school to start recruiting me. I went down to a camp after freshman year and they started talking to me after that. With them being my first influence in recruiting really intrigued me. I would love to get an offer from them because of all the tradition they bring to the table.
Penn State may have been the early bird, but Shallman's family will also factor in to his decision.
It's a great thing for my family to have this offer, because they're a football family. I was never a football fan growing up until about 8th grade. My mom is a crazy Michigan fan, she has bumper stickers that say Oh How I Hate Ohio State and everything. It will probably take me awhile to make my final decision, too. It involves my whole family, they're my rock and this is a family decision. I'm going to take my time with everything.
Wyatt is lucky to have a good foundation to support him, and he also has a good friend that recently went through the recruiting process as well.
Me and Matt [Godin] are really good friends. He was kind of my mentor this season, and he was a sophomore on varsity also. We've talked a little bit about recruiting and Michigan but we haven't had a lot of time to sit down and talk about it. Once you commit you're kind of a recruiter for that school so I'm sure he'll try to do that with me.
Shallman is nowhere near a decision, obviously, and plans to let everything take its course.
Ohio DE Chris Wormley recently said Michigan was his leader in a Toledo Blade article. Wormley told me last week that he thinks he's inching closer to a decision. Once track is over in June is when he'll start to focus on his recruitment.
Instate DB Terry Richardson will most likely be making his announcement this week. It will probably be Tuesday or Thursday, according to his coach. I'll let you know once I have the official word. An early decision is good for Michigan. [Ed: The announcement is set for Tuesday at 11:45am]
Ohio DE Adolphus Washington told me that he will be making a trip to Michigan soon. It's safe to assume that he will bring his teammate WR Dwayne Stanford with him as well. Look for that to happen in the next two weeks.
There's been a rumor running around that Michigan may be getting a visit from QB Gunner Kiel. I haven't confirmed that yet, but there's been a lot of smoke around Kiel's name lately, so keep an eye on that. [Ed: Source of the smoke seems to be Facebook stalkers noting a Kiel wall post from Borges asking if he's coming in this weekend. If he does end up on campus that's a very good sign since he was just in Ann Arbor. Rapid-fire visits like that usually mean the school being visited is the leader.]
Georgia DT Jordan Watkins is expecting a visit from the Michigan coaches this week, or next. Watkins has a ton of offers, has a 3.7 GPA, and even plays the cello.
A couple quick notes on a few questions that keep coming up. It looks as though the Michigan coaches have cooled on TE Ron Thompson for now. His coach is planning on calling the Michigan coaches this week to find out what's going on. Please try not to speculate too much here.
Illinois DB Anthony Standifer had to reschedule his visit this past week because his father couldn't make it. He plans on rescheduling it in roughly two weeks, once the coaches are back from recruiting trips. Michigan is still in good shape with him. The new offers from the likes of Notre Dame may cause him to slow things down, but when he visits a commitment is possible.
I was told and reported awhile ago that Michigan and Rutgers were probably the top two schools for New York DB Wayne Morgan. I was told recently that Michigan may have taken over the top spot for Morgan by his coach. Both Morgan and his coaches have been impressed with the Wolverine coaching staff.
Before we start, do me this favor: Make a fist, then straighten your arm at about a 45 degree angle from your body. All set? Now say this with me:
It came out earlier this week that HC Carol Hutchins, along with Jenny Brundage and Bonnie Tholl, helped save a recruit's father's life in late April. Then on Friday and Saturday softball twice made Little Sister cry uncle (ie 8-0 mercy rule). Friday it took 6 innings in Ann Arbor; on Saturday it was a 5-inning no-hitter in East Lansing to take the Big Ten title outright. They're on to the NCAA Regionals starting Friday with a 51-4 record, 16-0 on the road, and feel like a team headed for the Golden Palace.
Aside: Unfortunately for Mark Dantonio, there's no mercy rule for in-state recruiting. Onward and upward!
I've been kicking this entry around ever since the stupid logo with the stupid names came out. As Six Zero noted at the time, there's a lot more that goes into a branding job than drawing something on Photoshop. However it's not the 20-page booklet explaining proper branding uses and sizes and colors that caused a region-wide facepalm.
Ever since the moment about 20 minutes after the unveiling when we realized this wasn't Delany et al. pulling a DeAnthony Arnett commitment hat dance, the Internet has taken it upon ourselves to propose something better. Brian suggested East-West as a throw-up-hands consensus just so we don't have to use the official ones – and since this is his blog you are instructed to do the same – but personally I hate the cardinal direction convention almost as much. Herein are a handful of those collected, plus a few of my own:
Leaders / Legends:
Reason to Like: None if you have a soul.
Reason to Hate: That such an idea ever got past an ESPN message board.
Awkwardness ensues when: National reaction to unveiling of names was "Ha ha; no really…"
What's the catch: Keyword is "surprising."
"I think we have enough experience with names, and expansion and development of divisions, to know that you never, rarely, get 90 percent approval rating," Delany said during the interview. "But to get a 90 percent non-approval rating was, you know, really surprising."
Now remember the people who were surprised by this reaction later said they're not going to make any changes this year in the hopes that the divisional names grow on us. Where have I heard this reasoning before? Oh yeah, that's exactly how I ended up playing clarinet for 5 years instead of 5 minutes.
West / East:
Reason to Like: It's simple and neutral, I guess. "Champions of the West" in the song means something again. Deep thought: While we're fixing fight songs, wouldn't MSU's be more accurate if "vim" meant "D.U.I.?"
Reason to Hate: Trite, boring, and inaccurate.
Awkwardness ensues when: I am Funnybot. Where can you get from Michigan to Wisconsin by going East? In the Big Ten! Awkwaaaaard.
What's the catch: Thankfully this is off the table.
Griffith / Palmer:
Reason to Like: History of the Big Ten 101: Griffith was the first commissioner, Palmer House was the venue in Chicago where the conference was founded.
Reason to Hate: History of the Big Ten 101 is a prerequisite
Awkwardness ensues when: Could have honored James H. Smart (the "brains" behind the formation of the original Western Conference) but whoever's not in the "Smart" division would raise hell.
What's the catch: The Gary Bettman-itude of the shirts who decide this means there's close to zero chance of division names that your typical Ohio State fan won't recognize. Meijer & Wal-Mart Divisions are more likely.
Great Lakes / Heartland (or Great Plains):
Reason to Like: Neutral and highlights regional nicks.
Reason to Hate: Completely interchangeable. Favored by Lynn Henning.
Awkwardness ensues when: Generations of young Big~Ten fans grow up sucking just as much at Geography as counting.
What's the catch: Either Nebraska and Iowa are not "Heartland," or Michigan and Michigan State are not "Great Lakes."
Black / Blue:
Reason to Like: Because the region is mostly in the footprint of the NFL's black & blue division. Or because we tend to have entire positional depth charts wiped out by injury by the time the conference season starts.
Reason to Hate: Think how tired this will get after the umpteenth headline featuring the conference getting bruised.
Awkwardness ensues when: In the conf. championship game, (Black Division Champ) Michigan fans take up the "Let's Go Blue" chant.
What's the catch: This isn't a trait the conference really wants to focus on.
Lakes / River:
Reason to Like: Best shot at a geographic split. Mich&MSU are surrounded by the Great Lakes, Minn, Neb, & Iowa have 1,000s of Lakes, and Northwestern's on the Lake; the other division's schools are in states (Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania) either along the Ohio or Mississippi Rivers. Okay, it's a stretch.
Reason to Hate: Like we're the only place in the world that has lakes and rivers.
Awkwardness ensues when: The rule of silly recruit names means we'll eventually have a kid named Lakes representing a Rivers school playing a kid named Rivers representing the Lakes Division.
What's the catch: Like "Lake Michigan" somebody will get offended when something's named after the Ohio river.
Bo / Woody:*
Reason to Like: Is perfect.
Reason to Hate: If you're Michigan or Ohio State: none. If you are not Michigan or Ohio State: WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHH!
Awkwardness ensues when: Michigan State wins the Bo Division, burns the trophy, and replaces it with another piece of schlock from Forwards in West Branch.
What's the catch: The newer members won't care as much – Penn State and Nebraska are two proud programs with history and tradition that rival M/OSU - but the years and years of being one of the "Little Eight" are not fond memories for the rest.
Where's Wisconsin? / Why Do We Have Wisconsin?:
Reason to Like: ha ha, yer funny.
Reason to Hate: Hey, these division names recognize a school that isn't mine! WAAAAAAAAAAAHHHH!! (just kidding, guys. Could you imagine if we were like that?)
Awkwardness ensues when: Wisconsin thinks we're playing peek-a-boo and keeps yelling "I'm right heeeeeeere!"
What's the catch: Levity is underappreciated in formal settings.
Like one more than the other? Take the poll.
The minute the Big Ten announced it would have divisions, fans of 9 other schools* immediately screamed "Don't call them Bo and Woody!" This is because the most obvious binary convention in the conference are two iconic coaches who for a tenth of the conference's history were the Big Ten. When people talk about the Big Ten it's not how Randy Walker and Joe Tiller revolutionized passing from the Spread, but how Hayes, Schembechler and their acolytes did things that are manly. The two schools account for over 45% of the conference's football championships, and that number's over 50% when you stop counting the Purdue and Iowa's with 2 losses in the early 1900s who claimed one anyway in those Wild Western Conference days.
Without intervention, this would be the organic standard. Obviously Michigan and Ohio State fans (of which we are many) are leading this charge, but Nebraska fans and non-Big Ten followers seem to also be coming around to a split of "The one with Michigan & its rivals" and "The one with Ohio State & its rivals" since that's the most natural way to remember it. As for placating the other schools, I recommend we rename all the trophies:
- Champion: Paterno Trophy
- MVP: Red (Grange) Award (can certainly have some fun pouring red paint on the MVP each year, right?)
- Coach of the Year: Osborne Award
- Kinnick Award: To the Big Ten player who shows the greatest combination of outstanding athletic performance, sportsmanship, academic achievement, and service to his community, as embodied by Nile Kinnick
- Amos Alonzo Stagg Award: To the player or coach who makes the greatest contribution to Big Ten football (through outstanding innovation, service, or play).
- Offensive POY: Randle El Trophy
- Defensive POY: The Bucking Bronco (Unfortunately Nagurski's taken by the NFL for the same thing)
- Special Teams POY: Biggie Munn Award (so we can tell both Minnesota & Michigan State they got two)
- Best Passer: Griese Trophy (highlights them as Cradle of QBs)
- Best Back (QB/RB/FB/WR/TE): Paddy Driscoll Trophy
- Best Lineman (Offense or Defense): Big Joe's Slab of Bacon (Since they play for an Axe now, we could repatriate the old Slab for the best lineman. Big Joe is Joe Thomas)
- Best Defensive Back or Linebacker: Webster Trophy (I totally had to Wikipedia this one -- you try to find a Spartan football player other than Kirk Gibson or Plaxico whom anyone outside of Michigan can name!)
- Bo Div Champ: Schembechler Trophy
- Woody Div Champ: Hayes Trophy
* Nebraska was still too giddily checking out the house like Little Orphan Annie to care. Plus their online community is, for the internet, pretty level.
Above, that's Michigan's Solar Car Team's 2010 build, which won the U.S. solar car race thing. Below: that's Michigan State's entry in the same race. These are from Bronco648's (short) must-read diary UMsolar and the FSGP, which includes pics of M's even sleeker 2011 car apparently en route to Australia for the international competition. Before you rip on Sparty just remember which one you'd rather find in your basement years later when you're desperate for a beer pong table.
NOLA Blue did a comparison of Michigan's 2011 opponents and returning starters. The concept's there but then he kind of inexplicably ignores backfields and how good the players are, just listing number of returners at OL, TE, DL and LB as his basis for predicting games. This is the classic Charlie Weis-era Notre Dame mistake: Returning Sam Young again doesn't make you better.
As for the Diary of the Week, it's Part I of one man's journey from Pee Wee Hockey in Ontario to (hopefully) Yost Ice Arena.
"This is the biggest game of your career so far, their captain, like you, is also one of the best players in Ontario. If we win, people will say you're better than him. We always support you, but if we lose, people are going to blame you and say that he's better than you. Do you want that? Get to sleep early tonight, make sure you eat lots of carbs, protein tomorrow, and drink water all day. When I talk to your teacher, I want to hear from her that you were asking to go to the bathroom all day."
I was 8 years old.
Part I tracks JimLahey's journey from top Ontario prospect to waiting for a scholarship to Michigan or heading to the OHL. FTR he's not Caporusso so stop guessing he's Caporusso. Caporusso Mention Rule still applies: