I think you will get your wish.
Mas youtube. A couple old school Michigan bowl game highlight reels showed up in recent days. There's the 1986 Fiesta Bowl against Nebraska:
This one's before my time. It's remarkable to see Jamie Morris in all his not-pudgy glory. I'm mostly used to him wandering around hockey games, being subject to the perpetual "Ja-mie Morr-is" cheer I imagine follows him everywhere.
There is also the not-particularly-old-school '99 Citrus versus Arkansas:
(Suck it, Mallett rumormongerers!)
Say what? This blog has absolutely nothing against former Michigan quarterback Matt Gutierrez, who stuck it out behind Henne until his desire to play overwhelmed his fondness for the university and he transferred to I-AA Idaho State. But assertions like those proffered by the creepily-named Bob Cook...
Detroit would be better off drafting someone like Adams, the sort of speed-rushing end that would fit perfectly in coach Rod Marinelli's version of his old boss Tony Dungy's Tampa-2 defense. Then it could look lower in the draft for another intriguing prospect, Michigan State's Drew Stanton or Gutierrez, an Idaho State quarterback who is being compared to Tom Brady for more than just being of similar size and race.
Like Brady, Gutierrez struggled early to get playing time in college at Michigan. Unlike Brady, Gutierrez, who lost his starting job to Chad Henne after getting hurt, decided to transfer. Gutierrez is 6-foot-4, 232 pounds and raw, but a good choice for a team that isn't looking for someone to be anointed a savior.
...are mystifying at best. Gutierrez was not even the second-best quarterback in his I-AA conference last year -- he was honorable mention All Big Sky -- and threw 14 interceptions to just 16 touchdowns. While I hope he does well in the NFL, bringing him up as a Tom Brady comparable is preposterous and only serves to reinforce the myth that Brady was somehow gypped out of Michigan's starting job by a tin-eared coaching staff.
In other Gutierrez news, the Ann Arbor News has an article on him that only reinforces this blog's lingering fondess for the guy.
Final CSB. The NHL's Central Scouting Bureau has released its final rankings. Players of note:
- #16 Max Pacioretty.
- #90 Ben Winnett
- #101 Aaron Palushaj
- #121 Louie Caporusso
- #134 Tristin Llewellyn
- #167 Matt Rust
- #18 Goalie Bryan Hogan.
The CSB segregates North American and Euro skaters, so Pacioretty is probably a late first-round or early-second round pick and you can slide the rest of the rankees down a couple rounds. The CSB's also notorious for underrating college-bound and small players, so Winnett, Caporusso, and Rust may be drafted higher than their rankings might imply.
Overall, the incoming class seems to be mostly in an NCAA sweet spot much like that occupied by TJ Hensick. The aforementioned three smallish centers are all offensively skilled players who should be successful on the collegiate level without drawing a ton of attention from the NHL. If Michigan can pick up a few one- or two-year stars in the next couple classes Michigan should be able to take a serious run at a national championship (if the goaltending and defense works itself out).
One downer: Llewellyn has been on a steady downswing since his early commitment. When he was offered and committed to Michigan a few years ago he was thought to be an obvious first round pick. Obviously, that hasn't come to pass. His development has stalled and he's fallen into the middle rounds of the draft. He still has the size and skating ability to be a good NHLer, but there's something missing that we might get intimately and frustratingly familiar with during his years at Michigan. Also, Hogan's rating as the #18 NA goalie doesn't seem to represent a Sauer-killer who will come in and wrest the job from Mr. Soft Goal In Critical Situation.
Thanks, I guess? SI's Luke Winn places John Beilein #1 amongst coaches who should be cut some slack in their early years on the job, then provides a "realistic tournament timetable" of 2009, which means Winn thinks he should be cut slack for exactly one year. Thanks for nothing, says Beilein.
I don't wish to rip unduly on Winn, as the article is a good one. Dude did his homework:
This isn't the equivalent of switching a football team from the Single Wing to the West Coast Offense, but consider Beilein's victory formula at WVU featured three things: A precision, perimeter-based offense that includes scores of strangely named plays like Double Quickie Potato; a heavier reliance on the three-point shot than 332 of the 336 Division I teams (42.4 percent of West Virginia's points came on treys in '06-07); and a 1-3-1 zone that forced steals on 12.5 percent of possessions last season, good for 23rd in the nation.
(I thought to myself "these have to be Kenpom stats" when he dropped them and indeed they were, as he mentioned kenpom later in the article, but there was no link to them. I would suggest in the future providing direct links to the source of the killer and interesting information you're providing. Note that Simmons has started linking out frequently on his "basketball blog," something that is so much like a blog in tone, content, and linking that I should really drop the scare quotes.)
The persistent Ryan Mallett transfer rumors -- which, to my knowledge, have no backing and make no sense -- threaten to burst into mainstream echo-chambering with this blog post from a Texarkana radio host:
Sportsdate 4 - 23 - 2007
This much we know for sure, Ryan Mallet is back home in Texarkana. He completed his first trimester at Michigan and returned home, but which move he makes next on the dance floor has many in Texarkana wondering.
I feel comfortable in stating that Ryan was not enjoying his time in Ann Arbor. ... Many of us are curious where he will end up playing his college football.
The observant will immediately note several things that bring the validity of these assertions into serious question:
- Mallett's name ain't "Mallet."
- Michigan doesn't have trimesters.
- TheAuthorThinks... he's... Captain... JamesTKirkWithThe... whole... "Sportsdate"thingSPOCK!
I usually ignore rumors I can't comment on or believe to be false because the whole pernicious internet rumor thing people always complain about is a real phenomenon. Like many legendary monsters -- the hydra, vampires, Howard Stern -- sometimes attempting to strike down a rumor only makes it stronger. But since this one involves people from Arkansas, and if we've learned one thing in the past year it's that people in Arkansas think "reality" is a type of TV show, I figure it can't hurt.
I don't have super secret info that says he's going to stay; I do know that much of the to-do is dubiously sourced but relentlessly repeated by a couple of Arkansas message board posters. It seems to be gaining traction much like "Head On" did, but there is little substance behind them. There is much circumstantial evidence against it:
- Michigan quarterbacks play in the NFL. So do Arkansas quarterbacks... at wide receiver.
- Mallett has a one-year wait and a guaranteed three-year job at Michigan.
- Houston Nutt's job status is insecure, to put it mildly.
- I'm not exactly sure about this because of Mallett's early-enroll status, but I believe if Michigan wants to hold Mallett to his LOI (not that he actually signed one -- I sent an email to the NLI board to see if he's considered bound by it anyway) they can force him to sit out not one but two years in the event of a transfer.
(Michigan fans may remember Joe Crawford's near-transfer to MSU, which was kiboshed when Kentucky refused to let him out of his obligation to spend a full year at UK and threatened to extract the full two years of penance from him. I would expect Michigan to do the same in the unlikely event these Arkansasians have a nugget of truth in their ball of (probable) crap, since most recruits from his signing year haven't even reached campus yet.)
Is Mallett going to transfer away from a guaranteed starting job to go to a neanderthal offense run by a man under fire from a preposterous fanbase? Is he going to do that if Michigan refuses to release him? Highly doubtful.
Anyone still harboring doubt? These are Arkansas fans:
Spring such and such for Michigan's most important 2007 opponents happened over the weekend. A recap!
I am of the opinion that when your fourth-string quarterback is the most impressive passer at your spring game, you might have issues. Anthony Morelli didn't play much; when he did BSD fill-in The Nittany Line didn't sound impressed. Neither did he endorse Austin Scott, who came to Penn State with a barrel of hype four years ago and has one good game against Florida State to show for it. He's the starter by default but...
Scott averaged 4.1 yards per carry on 13 carries but didn't really show me anything. He looked like he got to the corner pretty quick but I think he still tends to "dance" a bit when he should be burring his head and getting the extra yard. That may be an unfair assessment since I'm used to seeing Tony Hunt, the human plow, take tacklers head on. Like Mike thought, we didn't really get a chance to see Scott's blocking ability and that is probably his biggest weakness up to this point.
The wide receivers didn't show much that was unexpected. They're all decent enough but uninspiring. Sophomore Chris Bell had an impressive spring and should find himself featured at some point. He has something -- size -- that PSU's current cast of mighty mites lacks. Derrick Williams has not deviated from his distinctively Breastonian career path thus far.
Defense: Irritatingly, it appears that Chris Rogers -- a Pennsylvania native who transferred from Michigan after a redshirt year claiming homesickness -- is going to start at defensive end. Rogers either has rich or annoyed parents, since Big Ten rules prohibit Penn State from giving an intra-conference transfer any scholarship money.
The second corner is probably going to be AJ Wallace. We might be catching him at a vulnerable point:
Wallace got burned a couple of times last year in coverage, and JoePa's comments about Wallace in the pre-game presser are not especially encouraging: "When he's healthy, he's a very gifted athlete. [My only criticism is] every once in a while, he's a little loosey-goosey out there. When you're playing corner, loosey-goosey could be six points." Uh, no kidding.
BSD echoes that assessment:
A.J. seemed a tad lost a couple times I watched him, but he also showed me some really good recovery speed. I think it's only a matter of experience before Wallace fulfills the potential he came to PSU with.
Wallace was a fairly shirtless recruit a couple years ago and Justin King is a potential All-American (argh), but if Wallace is "loosey-goosey" and we manage to get Manningham lined up across from him great success could be in the offing.
Reading way too much into assessments of meaningless spring games that themselves read way too much into meaningless spring games: Nothing of note happened in the Penn State spring. Morelli's the starting quarterback, there are major questions on the offensive line and in the person of talented but enigmatic Austin Scott. The defense projects to be at least pretty good, though they'll need someone to step forward on the line. No information was gathered on that project.
A similar situation: the big star of the spring game was someone called "Junior Jabbie," a man who sounds like the hero of a low-rent 80s-era knockoff arcade game, and his 87 rushing yards on 13 carries. I don't know if Jabbie's performance highlighted the absurdity of trying to draw conclusions from any spring game or what, because no Irish blogger bothered to say anything substantive. Rakes: nothing. HRB: nothing. Irish Roundtable: nothing. BGS: skepticism about the coming Jabbie era but little else about actual on-field events. A 10-6 victory where the only touchdowns come from a badly overthrown interception return and a wounded duck from a hit-while-throwing Demetrius Jones tends to mute enthusiasm.
I did find some impressions from the obscurer sections of Notre Dame blogdom, though not many. "Her Loyal Sons" says Jimmah looked good:
Our reporter K-man's opinion was that Jimmy Clausen looked the most comfortable under center, and that Demetrius and Frazer looked decidedly uncomfortable. Take one man's opinion on 'comfort level' with a grain of salt, but it's pretty telling that he felt the other two big QB recruits didn't even look comfortable let alone efficient or good.
The blog arm of UNHD says not so fast:
Quarterbacks weren't overly impressive. Jones fumbled (which his team recovered) and had a pick returned for a touchdown, Frazer threw a pick, Sharpley fumbled (which he also didn't lose), and Clausen missed some receivers.
Sharpley had the best command of the offense and moved the chains the best of the four.
When Jimmah was given the opportunity to win the dang game, results weren't good:
And with two minutes left in the game, with the Blue trailing 10-6, Clausen took the field with a chance to wow the sun-drenched crowd. Instead the sequence went: Travis Thomas four-yard run, incomplete pass to John Carlson in traffic, an intentional throwaway under pressure that looked like it was intended for Parseghian, an offensive pass-interference penalty and an incomplete pass to Robby Parris on fourth-and-21.
No quarterback did well. Clausen was 3 of 7 for 23 yards. Jones was 3-6 and threw a pick six. Sharpley was 5 of 7 for 31 yards but was sacked for negative 39. Zach Frazer threw four passes; the only one that was caught was intercepted. Between both teams Notre Dame chose to run the ball 54 times to just 24 passes.
But never fear! Some commenters pointed out this Wayne Drehs article from ESPN.com:
Freshman quarterback Jimmy Clausen's play was, well, unremarkable. Which is just the way Charlie Weis wanted it.
Coming from Wayne Drehs in November: "Charlie Weis, the iconoclast genius, has discovered a way for Notre Dame to cease extending its bowl losing streak: fail to qualify for one. Yes, it's all going to plan for the only man to set foot on the moon... with his mind!"
Reading way too much into assessments of meaningless spring games that themselves read way too much into meaningless spring games: The quarterback competition will go into the fall. Given how the offensive line got overrun in pass protection against a defensive line that has very little talent (according to recruiting gurus, at least), the run-pass ratio Weis broke out in the spring game might not be far off from the one deployed during the year.
I talked with Vijay about this a bit: it's amazing how crap Ohio State's quarterback recruiting has been over the past few years.
- 2007: no recruits.
- 2006: Antonio Henton, a three star who was Rivals #9 "dual-threat QB" and only the 25th best recruit in Georgia. Committed to OSU over Illinois, Maryland, and Louisville.
- 2005: Rob Schoenhoft. Four-star who was Rivals' #6 pro-style QB. Committed to OSU over Michigan.
- 2003: Todd Boeckman, a three-star and Rivals #19 pro-style QB. Committed to OSU over Pitt and Maryland.
That doesn't look too bad -- a little thin, but not awful -- until you consider the strange case of Schoenhoft. He's 6'5" and apparently a camp superstar. He had an impressive ranking from Rivals and some nice offers, but some seriously strange high school statistics. As a junior he completed 37% of his passes. As a senior he was better but only slightly, completing 45%. What's the deal? EDSBS picked up a report from a Buckeye that pieces the puzzle together:
Who will replace Troy Smith? ... Not Rob Schoenhoft. God, he sucks. Think "Sexy Rexy," but without the talent. Fuck it. He's throwing downfield, and by God, it will leave his hand at mach 8.
Michigan and OSU offered him on the basis of a big arm and prototype size; Schoenhoft has little else. Henton is black and short and is thus universally compared to Troy Smith. Does anyone remember how bad Troy Smith was early in his career? Yeah...
Henton did have a very Smith-esque game, going 8/16 for 40 yards, 3 picks, and 2 fumbles.
Zounds! Buckeye Commentary has some impressions of his own. Sounds similar to the Michigan spring along the lines: starters are being held out and the projected first string defensive line is dominating the backups. From the sounds of it Boeckman is solid but uninspiring, a Krenzel type.
Reading way too much into assessments of meaningless spring games that themselves read way too much into meaningless spring games: Boeckman starter. If he sucks or is injured OSU is in deep trouble. No conclusions can be drawn about the defense given the QB situation and the absence of non-Maurice Wells tailbacks, but most of those guys return so it should be about the same. Expect Ohio State to revert to Tresselball this year. Chris Wells is going to get run ragged, the special teams and defense will be good to infuriating, etc, etc.
Update 4/20: Linked to article on TX RB Sam McGuffie. Removed CA CB Brandon Leslie (no mutual interest), PA LB Andrew Sweat (dropped us), CA QB Dayne Crist (ND), MI S Charles Burrell(MSU). Added OH RB Darius Ashley, MD RB Josh Haden, NC RB Brandon Barnes, LA TE Tyler Edwards. Linked to header on OH OT Elliot Mealer, article on PA WR Jonathan Baldwin, article on OH LB Brandon Beachum, article on MI TE Tyler Hoover.
Removed GA S Darrell Simmons (dropped us), USC LB Brendan Beal (dropped us). Linked to article on OH OL Zebrie Sanders. Added TX S Keanon Cooper, OK S Kye Staley. Moved OH OL Elliot Mealer to committed.
Editorial Opinion: Dangit. I wrote this last night...
Offensive linestuffs. JB Shugarts is widely rumored to have committed to Ohio State. This is bad news and good news wrapped into one. Ohio State now has commits from Shugarts, Mike Adams, and Michael Brewster, all of whom are potential collegiate tackles. Ohio State has a small class this year and is looking to take a maximum of four offensive linemen. As a result, they're holding off on offering a couple of well-regarded instate tackles. One is Zebrie Sanders, who has offers a lot of schools, including Florida and Georgia. A recent transplant from South Carolina, he might be inclined to go elsewhere but Michigan is in his current top three. The other is Elliot Mealer, who says Michigan leads. Mealer appears to be waiting on an Ohio State offer, though, and will probably go there if he gets one. It might be better for us if OSU picks up WV OL Josh Jenkins or VA OL Kyle Long, leaving Mealer for us. It's kind of crappy to be picking up on OSU's scraps, but they're putting together a killer offensive line class. In most years both Sanders and Mealer would already have Ohio State offers.
...and Mealer goes and commits in the interim. Inconvenient timing. Mealer is a Scout 4*; Rivals hasn't assigned stars yet but he's outside of their preliminary "250 to watch" so at the moment he's probably a three star to them. The other aspects of his recruitment -- a pre-camp offer from Michigan, serious interest from Ohio State -- indicate he's a good pickup. We'll probably take a third if we can find one we like.
Dayne Crist wasn't coming here, but jeez that's a weird decision to make.
Running back explosivo! Much news here. Sam McGuffie's been running around visiting and getting offered by everyone. Quote to give you hives:
"I want an offer from them so bad. ...
"Great running backs come from USC," McGuffie said. "I've been compared to Reggie Bush before and that's a big deal. I'm going to take a trip there at the beginning of the season hopefully. An offer from SC would be huge. I would definitely be tempted to commit."
Yuck. Normally this would be where I would point out that USC collects All-American tailback prospects like funny similie, but since they've locked down X in the past two years obviously the rules about sanity don't apply.
McGuffie did say some nice things about Michigan:
"Coach (Fred) Jackson texts me every single day. He says that they see me starting and I could be the first white freshman All-American running back. They really need running backs, especially with a couple guys hurt this year. I'm going to take an official there for sure."
"I really like Michigan too," said McGuffie. "My family's from there so I've been to Ann Arbor a couple of times. It's a great campus and a really nice area. You drive in and you don't see anything, then all of a sudden, there is it! It's great.
A damage-control article from GBW popped up in the aftermath of this article to paint a rosy picture, but at this point it appears that Michigan is just one in a pack of schools chasing McGuffie and is no more or less likely to lock him down than anyone else he has serious interest in.
Tight ends and whatnot. I've added LA TE Tyler Edwards to the board but grudgingly. He claims a solid LSU lead, and given Michigan's recent fortunes with Louisiana prospects who claim Michigan leads one would be forgiven for ignoring a Lousianan who's not even teasing us with the prospect of a commitment entirely. But he has an offer and says he'll visit...
Despite saying he doesn't like to travel, Edwards says that distance from home won't be a factor. ["Despite saying he hates sugar, Edwards keeps an open mind about dessert." -ed] "Michigan is far, but I want to visit them," he said. "They are a big-time program and I like their tradition and want to learn more about them.
...so on the board he goes. If there was a Super Nefarious Eduardo icon, he would get it.
Michigan's chances are much better with the other tight end named Tyler, instate prospect Tyler Hoover from Novi. He recently acquired a Michigan offer and says his decision will come down to the two instate schools:
"It's pretty much Michigan or Michigan State," said Hoover, who finished his junior season with 87 tackles, eight for loss. "They both are recruiting me probably the hardest. I'm in contact with both about the same too."
The last head-to-head recruiting battle Michigan State won was... uh... TJ Duckett(?), so confidence should be running high. Michigan says they're recruiting Hoover for either side of the ball, while State says defensive end. Best quote ever coming up:
"Michigan State is recruiting me mainly for defensive end," said Hoover, who claims to run a 4.8 forty. "I think I'd have more potential of playing early at State because their defense is really pretty weak."
I'm this close to throwing up a Mr. Blue for Hoover but he didn't indicate he was leaning either way in the article. Maybe soon.
Jonathan Baldwin went on the record with a top five. The rumored Michigan lead isn't explicit, but...
"I really like Michigan," he said. "They've been recruiting me the hardest. I get a lot of text messages from them. They want me for receiver. I know I'd have a chance to go in there and start early.
"I went there for the Michigan/Michigan State game last year. I really liked the campus. Everything is new there and really cool. I think I'm going to take an official this summer."
...it does sound pretty good, though he can't take an official until fall. His offer list is getting very impressive: Florida, Florida State, Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Miami, and Alabama amongst others. The art
icle doesn't mention the possibility Baldwin will go to school to play basketball. Don't know if that's no longer a possibility or not, but his profile in football is much higher than it is in basketball, where Marquette is his best offer and presumed leader. Chances are he ends up a football player.
For whatever reason we appear to be ignoring OH LB Brandon Beachum, which is weird. He is the recipient of plenty of early recruiting hype and has a pretty flashy offer list: Oklahoma, LSU, Nebraska, and a bunch of midlevel BCS schools. Michigan and Ohio State are notable exceptions. Maybe the two schools know something others don't?
Full board here.
Whatever. There were reports over the weekend that Michigan had been eliminated from the decision process of the plinko machine that is Alex Legion, but reports of our demise were at least slightly exaggerated:
Legion, a 6-foot-5 senior guard out of Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Va., who visited the University of Kentucky from Thursday through Saturday, told Rivals.com he's down to Kentucky, UCLA and Michigan.
(KU is out of the running since they want Legion to wait on Brandon Rush's NBA decision. Rush entered the draft but has not retained an agent and may withdraw.) Wait... UCLA? One of the two teams that an enraged Official Mom of Legion said her son would most certainly not attend, Tim Green be damned? Yes. UCLA. Alex Legion is less decisive than Charlie Weis at Baskin Robbins. So it's with the strongest hesitation that I offer any prediction whatsoever, but it sounds like UK is his probable destination:
"With UCLA, I've always been a fan," Legion said. "I always thought it would be nice to play there. They have great tradition like Kentucky. With Michigan, it's still home. I'm still going to give them a shot. I just don't know how I'd fit in with what coach (John) Beilein wants to do. I was excited about playing for coach Amaker (Tommy, new coach at Harvard), so that kind of changed my feelings about Michigan.
"I'm real comfortable with Kentucky right now. It's only five hours from home, not too far at all."
+1 to the Lawrence Journal-World reporter for laconically mentioning that "It should be noted that schools have reappeared on Legion's list after getting sliced." Indeed.
A no-doubt insane Todd McShay puts together a mock draft of not 12345 or 6 but 7(!) rounds for ESPN. Michigan players in his latest:
- #10 Leon Hall
- #11 Alan Branch (behind the Louisville guy, which is completely insane)
- #35 Lamarr Woodley (one pick after he has the Lions taking Trent Edwards with Stanton still on the board)
- #52 David Harris (crazy low)
- #191 Steve Breason (mid-sixth round)
- #204 Prescott Burgess (towards the end of the sixth)
NFL.com's Gil Brandt -- who I almost call "Gil Thorpe" whenever I type his name; who's called "Gil" in this day and age anyway? -- has Harris his #2 inside linebacker:
He had a very good workout at the Combine, running better than people thought he would, and looked good in drills. He has good strength for the position. He's smart and will compete on every down. He's good, but not a great athlete. His best position most likely is at inside linebacker in a 3-4 defense. He uses his hands well and has been well coached.
Well, that's totally unexpected. Scott Dreisbach's life has been a weird one, but I don't know if this can be topped. He's currently in the Arena Football league. In Columbus...
3) I think Columbus backup QB Scott Dreisbach is probably the only backup signal caller in the League truly 'playing' for his paycheck (that was until Andy Kelly and Tony Graziani went down forcing backups Steve Bellisari and Juston Wood into the lineup).
... playing linebacker:
Instead of holding a clipboard on the sideline and charting plays, Dreisbach plays a handful of series at 'jack' linebacker on defense (6.5 tackles on the season) and covers kicks on special teams for the Destroyers.
His role has expanded as he gets used to it:
Again, the whole team gave a full effort. This included two late stops "Jack" positioned-reserve QB Scott Dreisbach, who played defense and special teams.
"Scott made very crucial stops in the 4th," Columbus Head Coach Doug Kay explained, "We have been working on that all week; we need to stick to the (opponent's) quarterback with every play. David Saunders is excellent, too; at that position."
Dreisbach made five tackles.
I got nothing here. It's just weird, that's all.
I hope to have more on this later, but the Big Ten Network is rapidly morphing from a cool idea into a disaster waiting to happen. They're reportedly asking for $1.10 per subscriber in the local area and trying to get placed in the same price band ESPN does. They should ask the NFL network (70 cents a subscriber and placement in areas of cable it takes a sherpa to reach) how well that's going to work.
No big deal as long as the football games are of the Northwestern-Illinois variety, right? Unfortunately, the network is going to have some weeks that they have the second or third pick... before ESPN, so there's a possibility that several Michigan games could be yanked off national TV and shoved onto a tiny cable network no one gets in a power struggle.
The answer to all of this is a la carte pricing for cable, which will come as soon as Congress passes a law demanding it. IE: not by this fall.
Today I write to you wanting to know your side of the story about the luxury boxes. I assure you I'm not a journalist or anything. I just want to hear what you thought about the renovations. From your latest blog entry, I can deduce that you support the luxury boxes. I'm interested to know why. I have been caught between the argument for a while. I'm a life-long Michigan fan; 2 hours after I was born, my dad bought me a teddy bear with a Michigan sweater and hat. It sits next to my bed to this day. Whenever he was able to purchase tickets, he would take me to the game. I want the Big House to be louder, and I want tickets to stop going up in price (this year it's $204!). But at the same time, I hate the idea of catering to the rich, blocking out the sun that would shine on the student section, and ending any possibility of being the Big House. I'm caught up with my feelings of nostalgia.
I hope that hearing your side will help influence my opinion, but it will not dictate it. I look forward to continuing reading your blog everyday. Possibly next November, you could do a piece on the Blood Battle between Ohio State and Michigan. I'm one of the four students in charge of it. We are always looking for any type of publicity. I really want to win both the game and the Blood Battle while I'm a student here.
Thank You for Your Time,
(Remind me about the blood battle.) An answer:
First off, it's completely reasonable to have reservations about the luxury boxes. It's completely reasonable to hate the idea of them. Not everyone who hates the idea is the Hero of Tiananmen Square. Their addition is a serious matter worthy of discussion. Where tHOTS goes wrong is by assuming that because a bunch of his NYC friends think it's just awful that luxury boxes might be installed that he speaks for the Michigan fanbase. I know that the sometime strident opinons expressed here may give off the impression that I look down upon those who disagree. Not so: I only look down upon those who would try to twist the reality of the situation to serve their own opinions.
What follows is a point-by-point debunking of what I think are the main points espoused by those who oppose the installation of luxury boxes. The finale is an argument in favor of their addition in the absence of (hopefully dismissed or at least mitigated) concerns.
Luxury boxes are going to cost the university money. This assumes that Bill Martin, the guy who brought Michigan kicking and screaming into the modern era of collegiate athletics, has no idea what he's doing when it comes to dollars and cents. No matter that he's a lifelong business entrepreneur. No matter that he spent years as the president of the USOC. No matter that every move he's made at the Michigan AD has been to wring money out of ticket-holders, donors, sponsors, and anyone who walks by.
I think 80 dollar Appalachian State tickets suck just as much as anyone else, but Michigan fading into obscurity is worse. Clearly having shiny athletic palaces is a way to help avert obscurity. It's complicated. I'm annoyed by Michigan's building spree as a ticketholder but pleased as a fan. I just think that anyone who's been paying attention should acknowledge that Martin has erred on the side of filling the athletic department's coffers. He's gone from a Goss-era deficit to a sixteen million dollar surplus. The idea that he's flipped out and decided to install luxury boxes just so he can have a place to host cocktail parties no matter the cost the university goes against everything on his track record.
Luxury boxes are going to break an egalitarian utopia. There were no protests when Martin instituted PSLs that socked people based on their seats' location. There have been no protests about the distinctively capitalist way season tickets get allotted: donate a ton of money and get good seats. Michigan Stadium has always been about getting people to pay an awful lot of money to sit in it. Despite the appearance of a unified proletariat all sitting on their benches, I can tell you that I have sat on the twenty, on the forty, in the student section, and in the endzone and that the character of each location is vastly different. I have sat next to men in hunting caps wearing pleather Red Wings jackets and looked down on them. I have sat in front of well-coiffed elderly women who have looked down on me. I have had elderly men yell at me for standing up because everyone in front of me has stood up. I have loathed and been loathed because the people in Michigan Stadium have differing ideas on what constitutes appropriate behavior. Always have. Always will. The installation of luxury boxes makes concrete (ha!) a distinction that has long existed.
And it's a small step towards giving everyone what they want. They provide a way for people with differing definitions of the word "better" to coexist. My definition of "better": I can see everything. I can hear Ron English bark out commands. I can hear the band. I can see Mike Hart sweat. Rich mofos' definition: I have a roof and pate? Sweet. Without boxes, the only status these people can have is sitting on the fifty, occupying seats that I could have without their fur-clad indolence. Providing these people really expensive status markers that don't impact where I can sit can only be a benefit.
I am touchy about this tradition stuff. If Martin announced that he'd be putting in the sort of advertising that's all over Ohio Stadium I would be livid. But that's something that directly affects me: I see the advertising, I feel that the tradition of Michigan Stadium is evaporating. The opposition of luxury boxes on tradition grounds is about objecting to someone else experiencing a game "better" than I am, but better to who? I don't want to sit there. While they're busy thinking of me as an insignificant plebe, I'm thinking "thanks, suckers." My experience is not degraded just because someone else is paying a lot of money to have a nice time.
Luxury boxes are going to hurt the stadium atmosphere. Though commenters brought the Daily article I linked which asserted that the local noise levels would double into considerable question, I don't think they conclusively dismissed it, if that was even their intent. One of the arguments put forth by luxury box opponents is that the removal of a certain number of fans from the lower bowl will reduce noise levels. This relies on doubtful assumptions:
- the sort of person who ends up in a luxury box made any noise whatsoever before being placed in the luxury box
- the luxury boxes don't contribute any acoustic benefits to the stadium
- neither do the luxury boxes contribute any general shock and awe to the stadium.
Though I hate to credit Ohio State with anything, I must admit that the stadium itself, even devoid of fans, is a more imposing edifice than Michigan's. Penn State, too. A large part of this increased bad-assery of their stadium consists of vertical walls of steel and glass. Michigan's proletarian bowl is nice but most neutral observers think it somewhat lacking. Michigan Stadium is basically a very large hole in the ground. From the outside it looks squat and mildly homely. The inside has the same sort of brute-force grandeur that the distance between stars or anything associated with some incredible number does, but is lacking in on-top-of-you intimidation. Compare Ohio Stadium...
Why add them?
The addition of luxury boxes will charge a certain subset of fans who treasure certain things I don't an exorbitant rate. These fans also happen to be the sort of fans who A) don't make any noise whatsoever and B) glare at you when you do. A relatively small number of rich as sin fans will get a place within which they can consume tartare and wine without having to tolerate the sort of people who go "AAAAAAAH" before every third down. In exchange, I get to benefit from their willingness to pay thousands of dollars to attend a football game without enduring their glares when I attempt to aid the team we're all watching by screaming real loud.* The money the boxes generate will help Michigan keep pace in the facilities arms race. The boxes themselves will increase the noise levels. From the outside they will look badass.
Ultimately, they will help Michigan win, and that's what I care about.
*(Or, rather, I get to benefit when my compatriots yell real loud. I am only nominally a boisterous fan, since I freak out when the stakes get too high and sit there, paralyzed into silence, wondering how my life is going to turn out based on the outcome of the next play. In the real world, the "best" fans in terms of pure noise are not the ones who are most invested in the outcome but the ones who really care who wins the game while simultaneously understand their ability to shrug off a disappointing outcome. I meet only the former qualification. Viva Downriver, never leave us.)