An update on the flight from yesterday: an acquaintance with reason to check these things out was at the airport as the plane landed; no passengers were aboard.
Highlights. They're cut kind of crappily -- can't see the play develop -- but for anyone who missed the Minnesota game:
I love "hey... if you want to watch this game, it's on after this show. So stop watching RIGHT NOW."
Agreed. The band had a pretty bleah year in the first year post-Nix, culminating in a Cirque Du Soleil show against Ohio State that seemed straight out of that episode of Coach in which Hayden T. Nelson battles the dastardly band director who cares about nothing save jazz and tidy formations. The Hoover Street Rag is the bando blog of record and suggests some of the bleah is actually intentional:
From what I've heard from shows this year, as well as comments left on this blog, is that the sound is being explicitly suppressed in the interest of such contrasts and "quiet sections."
A couple years ago my tickets were around the 20 on the non-pressbox side. At that point, the band was on the same side of the field I was, and I couldn't hear them at all, which substantially detracted from the gameday experience. It was awful. Is there anyone in the stadium who objects to actually being able to hear the band? The HSR says turn it up...
There is a simple fix for all of these problems: Play louder. We know it is possible; it's not like all the volume graduated last year. Playing louder would allow more of the students to hear the band, let them stay together on the Victors, and allow everyone to enjoy more of the halftime performances. The MMB did sound more balanced and rounder this year but it was at a significant and noticeable expense of volume. Row 80 does not care about legatos and mezzo pianos. Row 80 only cares about why their faces aren't being peeled off by the first note of M Fanfare.
...and I agree.
Strong is good. Behind the Net has an interesting article on the USHL, the only Tier 1 junior league endorsed by USA hockey and the premiere college feeder league out there. Fully 10% of the NHL used to play in the USHL, and the league is now basically on par with Canadian Junior leagues, which means that kids interested in both college and the NHL now have a viable pre-college option that won't stunt their development.
While on hockey recruiting, three kids signed letters of intent just before Thanksgiving. Two, Robbie Czarnik and David Wohlberg, are forwards set to replace the departing Kevin Porter and Chad Kolarik. Czarnik is a high-end prospect who might go in the first couple rounds; Kolarik is more of a mid-round prospect.
The third is where it gets interesting:
Pateryn may not necessarily be playing for the Wolverines next year. Berenson and associate head coach Mel Pearson both said he might need another year in the USHL and may potentially be coming to Michigan for the 2009-10 season.
Michigan currently has seven defenders on the roster and none graduate next year; Michigan also has a commitment from St. Mike's defender Brandon Burlon. (St. Mike's is the Toronto prep school that sent Michigan Andrew Cogliano and Louie Caporusso.) Burlon is getting high praise from the scouting community. Kyle Woodlief:
...it was big Joe Colborne, a strapping pivot from Camrose in the Alberta Junior Hockey League, and Brandon Burlon, a strong, mobile blue-liner from the Ontario Provincial Junior Hockey League, who grabbed our attention. ...
As for Burlon, he did more to boost his stock than anyone in British Columbia last week, and we suspect he'll join a pair of fellow St. Michael's Buzzers alumni, Andrew Cogliano in 2005 and Brendan Smith in '07, as first round NHL picks when teams convene in Ottawa next June.
Burlon is ultra-smooth and the prototypical two-way defender in the post-lockout NHL landscape. He defends beautifully in his own end, seemingly never making a mistake in either his puck movement decisions, coverage down low or play diagnosis. He's big enough and competitive enough to duel against the big boys in front of the net and mobile and savvy enough to sniff out and breakup plays and lead quick-strike transition attacks, turning defense to offense in a heartbeat.
That does not seem like the kind of guy you leave in junior or fail to sign when you get the opportunity to. Burlon's listed as an '08 by Heisenberg while Pateryn is an '09. So what's the deal with Pateryn signing but not Burlon?
Burlon appears to be keeping his options open if a spot does not materialize on the Michigan blueline. By not signing a letter of intent, Burlon can go to another school should he need to. If Michigan loses a defender, he'll come in. Next Q: will Michigan lose a defender?
Probably. No Michigan first round draft pick save Eric Nystrom has stayed for four years. The new CBA gives teams a powerful incentive to sign college prospects by the summer after their junior year. Mark Mitera was the 17th pick his draft year and has really come into his own as Michigan's #1 defender. He's probably gone, and Burlon will show up in '08. Pateryn is likely to stay in the USHL another year and join the '09 class unless Michigan loses a second defender. The chances of that are low despite Chris Summers' status as a first round pick himself. He's a smart kid...
"It was tough at first," he said, "but my parents and a lot of my teachers were always real supportive. Everyone helped out. We had mandatory study time on our road trips. My parents always said my grades had to come first, and to have their support meant everything."
In the end, the time away had little, if any impact on his grades and Summers finished on the Milan honor roll all four years.
...and spent last year bouncing from defense to forward and back. The Coyotes will likely let him develop another year.
Update: Chris Dilks of WCH clarifies the Burlon situation:
Actually, Burlon wasn't able to sign a letter of intent because in order to do so, the school has to be able to show where his scholarship money is coming from, and a school can't say, "wel
l this guy is going to leave early for the pros, so our recruit will take his scholarship money". The money either has to already be available, or be in use by a player that won't have eligibility next year. Pateryn signed because he's an in-state kid that is going to be using very little scholarship money. Burlon is closer to a full scholarship so he'll have to wait for Mitera to leave before he can sign
In any case, I wouldn't worry about him not coming to Michigan.
I did not know that.
A Dassault Falcon 20 left Willow Run at 6 EST and arrived in Cedar Rapids a little more than an hour later. After about 15 minutes it left, returning to Willow Run. The return leg is scheduled to touch down in approximately 30 minutes.
While this isn't conclusive, that is the mother of all coincidences if that's not Ferentz.
1. There's a fellow wandering around the Hawkeye boards claiming that the Ferentz-to-Michigan stuff is all his doing. A copy of an email sent to one of the Iowa TV stations that started picking up on the internet rumors:
ill break it down best i can, long story short.
guy posts fake rumor---> http://michigan.rivals.com/showmsg.asp?fid=39&tid=106451698&mid=106451698&sid=883&style=2
m.go.blog runs with it and states there is an inside source (but really its this post)
poster on hawkeyelounge plays along----> http://www.hawkeyelounge.com/showthread.php?t=17099
m.go.blog cites that post as another possible sources and runs with story.
check the blog, its on the front page. --->http://mgoblog.blogspot.com/2007/11/ferentz-update.html
it started as a message board ruse, flame if you will.....
This is not true; I had not heard of HawkeyeLounge.com until a commenter left a link to the rumor posted there yesterday. The source in question is connected to one of the Iowa coaches; it's solid.
2. There have been a lot of questions about University posting rules that previously seemed like a major deterrent to a hasty search and were cited as a reason Miles' national championship game coaching wouldn't be a problem. This would mean reports of a potential acceptance would be necessarily wrong. (An offer, on the other hand, is plausible, since everyone knows the open posting rules are farcical.) Apparently the posting thing is a complete nonfactor.
For example: the hiring of Mike Sherman at A&M two days after Franchione was let go.
3. I think I may have erred a bit here. I waited to get some outside confirmation on the Ferentz offer, but when I did it was from Iowa sources. Though those sources are about as good as things like that get, there is the potential for wobble.
It's a game of telephone, basically.
Michigan to Ferentz: you're our #1 candidate.
Ferentz to Coach: I think Michigan might offer me the job.
Coach to Source: Ferentz is going to get offered the job.
Source to Me: Ferrets get proffered by slobs!
I wrote and re-wrote that brief post to communicate what I wanted it to but in the end I think it came off too assured. These things are all uncertain, and real confirmation of how the search went down will never be available. Mea culpa.
4. To wit, someone from the Michigan side of things says talk of an offer is "premature," which is a really interesting word to use.
5. I offer no thumbs up or down on the linked post yesterday; I merely present the info since it seems worthwhile.
6. IMO, the most likely scenario: Michigan has talked quite a bit with Ferentz. The general tone of the conversations has been of the sort when you have a really good job interview and the last guy is just like "well... we really like you. Do you like us? We really like you." Like in the job interview, you assume you have been offered the job but the formal decision has not been made.
7. The high level summary of my beliefs based on everything I've heard and read: Ferentz is the #1 candidate and either has already been or will be offered the job. I have no idea whether he'd take it or not but if you put a gun to my head I would say he turns it down.
Another thing follows from the above belief but this is just deduction, not inside info: Carr insisted he would not be a major factor in the search during his retirement press conference, but his fingerprints are all over the Ferentz thing. Ferentz meets certain Michigan priorities -- be a really awesome dude, don't swear at press conferences -- better than others -- win, wear hats -- that Miles is better at, which indicates the relative weightings of these priorities make it harder for them to come around on Miles. I wouldn't be surprised if he was well down the list.
8. MLive talked to the GVSU AD, who claimed Michigan had not contacted him. My source is standing by his info.
Update: Iowa is claiming no one has talked to or about Ferentz; not sure why MLive is going around asking athletic directors about official channels when everyone knows these things migrated out of public view long ago.
What, there's something else going on?
11/23/2007 - Michigan 3, Wisconsin 2 -12-1, 8-0 CCHA
11/24/2007 - Michigan 5, Minnesota 1 - 13-1, 8-0 CCHA
I hate Minnesota.
This is an unusual thing for anyone to hate. Minnesota is a nonentity in the big two collegiate sports. They haven't been to the Rose Bowl in 40 years. The only time their basketball program is any good is when they're cheating their asses off (ya, ya, glass houses, not relevant to the discussion). Maybe Wisconsin and Iowa have a real antipathy for the Gophers, but both rivalries seem built more on sweet trophies -- an axe and a pig -- than venom. Who doesn't want to win a huge ax? Or something called Floyd of Rosedale?
No, it's impossible to truly hate a school so limply sad that when you win the Big Ten at their stadium you can not only pull the goalposts down but haul them out onto the street. Outside of certain frigid enclaves, Minnesota is nothing.
But there is nothing that makes me want to throw a brick into a crowd of revelers than the goddamned Minnesota rouser. The reasons for this are obvious and obscure. The obvious bit:
The obscure, at least in terms of national significance: the first Michigan hockey game I watched was the national semifinal my freshman year of college. Michigan torched UNH 4-0. Two days later, Josh Langfeld wandered out from behind the boards and sort of tossed a puck between Scott Clemmensen's pads and Michigan was national champions. My vague September desire to maybe get hockey tickets had been quickly forgotten in the rush of Charles Woodson and company's national championship thrust; suddenly the decision to not get tickets seemed dumb indeed.
I rectified that the next year just in time for Minnesota to embark on a scorched earth campaign against Michigan. Suffice it to say that before Saturday, Minnesota had won six straight against Michigan and nine of eleven, several of them humiliating blowouts.
In 2003, Michigan made the Frozen Four in Buffalo, there drawing Minnesota. Buffalo being a relatively short jaunt through Canada for Michiganders, we went. (Side note: Canadians are exceedingly accommodating when you tell them you're driving five hours to watch some hockey. If you ever find yourself forced into drug smuggling by some tragic turn of events, just tell the border guard you're watching your cousin play in Lethbridge.)
Minnesota was good. They're usually good, but this edition of the Gophers was a real Death Star of a team: the defending national champions, WCHA double winners, and the tournament's top seed overall. Minnesota's national title run the year before had gone through Michigan, a painful 3-2 loss that was not nearly as close as it had looked. Freshman Thomas Vanek, now a ridiculously overpaid Buffalo Sabre, had 60 points, and the rest of the team was fast and talented.
But Michigan had beaten them 3-1 in the Showcase earlier that year, and dominated the first period. Just crushed them. Jason Ryznar and Eric Nystrom were crushing guys along the boards. Minnesota could not get possession and only a parade of saves and missed opportunities kept the score relatively close. It was 1-0 after one. The second period was the exact opposite, with Minnesota dominating play, until Jed Ortmeyer, god bless him, popped in a second goal and the final five minutes were even. A late Minnesota goal gave the Gophers life, but down 2-1 against an opponent that had beaten them earlier in the year and clearly was giving them all they could handle is not a good spot.
So it was with some disbelief that I listened to a wide array of Gopher fans chatting about the game during the second intermission, every one of them blithely assured that Minnesota would come out and roll over Michigan in the third. I have been around my share of frustratingly overconfident opposing fans -- wooo Ohio State! -- but nothing compares to Minnesota fans in Buffalo that day.
The third period was tightly contested. Minnesota tied it at the other end, but Michigan controlled much of the period. Achingly, Nystrom or Ryznar or someone knocked a puck through the Gopher goalie only to see it waved off, as the whistle had gone. Ryznar had a golden opportunity at an open net that a defenseman hacked off the line. Halfway through the first overtime, Vanek wandered out from behind the net and swept the puck at Al Montoya and it went through his pads and all I could think was "that was soft." We had a hotel room in Niagara Falls for the next couple nights. We left the next day.
Michigan hasn't been to the Frozen Four since and has only intermittently looked like a threat. Every year, Michigan would play Minnesota in the Showcase and prove that it was not national title caliber, then a parade of CCHA teams would get hopes up only for them to be dashed when
the big boys came calling.
Last year, Michigan was obliterated by the Gophers. The upperclass-laden team was basically the same group of guys who limped into the 2006 tournament with zero chance and got blown out by North Dakota. When Michigan drew Minnesota and North Dakota, the season was over. Even though Minnesota managed to blow it against Holy Cross (ha!), the season was indeed over.
This year, Michigan beat Minnesota raw. The shot count didn't reflect it, but the final score did. It doesn't really matter that the Gophers look decidedly un-vintage so far this year at 7-6-1. Michigan and Minnesota have played six periods this year and Michigan has owned five of them. They are streaking towards a real #1-#2 matchup against Miami later this year, and the malaise of the last couple years is gone, replaced with a bunch of freshman who reveal delightful new abilities -- look! backchecking! -- every game.
Everyone was waiting before making a declaration. Are they? Yes. They're for real.
I have no idea how to judge the truthiness of this post from HawkeyeLounge.com helpfully linked in the comments of the last post, but it looks like we might get resolution on this Ferentz thing soon:
I have a decent source connected to the Michigan athletic department. He stated to me in an in e-mail this evening that Ferentz had been offered the job and this evening he accepted. The final details and announcement will come in 24-48 hours.
MH check your PM and I'll explain this one to you. I'm not convinced on this, but this source has credibility. I hope he's not playing me. I'll take the heat if this is wrong.
...but after the standard "this means nothing... nothing!" response, a couple posters vouch for this guy; the forthright admission of doubt makes me place a bit more faith in the information, ironically. (Obviously, this is nothing close to solid.)
Another point of confirmation (about the offer, not a potential acceptance) comes from the RCMB. One of the posters there is an editor at an Iowa newspaper; he claims that two separate media sources are telling him Ferentz has an offer.
Update: FWIW, same RCMB poster says two people have called him, saying they "heard" Ferentz had accepted the job; another says he has a family member on the staff who hasn't heard anything as of a few hours ago.