...adds further to his mind-shattering girth.
I loathe to side with NDNation on any topic large or small, but when the opposition is provided by SportsJournalists.com -- the only board on the Internet that can give the Nationites a run for their money when it comes to ludicrous arrogance better placed in 1955 -- the pill goes down a little easier. The situation: Jeff Carroll of the South Bend Tribune writes a four-article series questioning the hoopla surrounding Jimmy Clausen. It largely exists to fill space in supposedly controversial fashion, tackling the proverbial tough questions facing the Irish program. Are they selling out for victories? Is Weis playing by the rules? How good can Jimmah be if he thinks that haircut is an intelligent decision? All you need to know about the articles is encapsulated in the following lines:
A Google search for the phrases "Notre Dame" and "Just like everyone else" finds 11,700 matches.
Another search, for "tarnished dome," returns 5,310 matches.
("Jeff Carroll" and "lazy" = 83 hits.) The same level of hard-hitting(!), solid evidence persists throughout. There are vague quotes linked by paragraphs that hint at potential troubles followed by more vague quotes. The only thing of interest in the entire series is a surprisingly liberated quote from incoming freshman Paddy Mullen (yes, his real name):
"He's cocky," Mullen said. "He's a typical quarterback. We'll see what happens when he's at Notre Dame and getting knocked around a little bit. We'll see when he has a defensive tackle tackling the crap out of him.
"I committed to Notre Dame. I told as many people as I could, people who called. But I don't have a PR firm putting my name out there. ... This guy better be unbelievable."
When the articles are published, NDNation and assorted party organs explode with hilarious outrage. Several posters urge the moderators to place the South Bend Tribune on their Nixonian enemies list and prohibit any and all outgoing links to those damn pinkos. Eventually the spittle ceases flecking Internets rubberneckers and the whole thing blows over... until yesterday, when Carroll is informed that he is on Weis's enemies list and can no longer be suffered to ask questions of the high holy one:
It didn't take Charlie long to flex some muscle. Former Times Sports Writer Jeff Carroll, now working for the Irish Sports Report, was informed by school officials that he could not ask questions of Weis, his staff or players during the three-hour session. It seems Weis and senior associate athletics director John Heisler weren't happy with some of Carroll's reporting endeavors.
Here's an idea: Have someone ask the questions for you.
Personally, I think the intention was to embarrass Carroll, publicly.
The Mullen quote -- obtained outside of approved channels -- is the pretext given. Cue second round of hilarious outrage from SportsJournalists.com. This has been great fun all around for yours truly, who loves seeing both Notre Dame fans and journalists tweaked.
To play Mills Lane for a moment: I side with Weis. The series by Carroll was indeed a hack job that attempted to spin Pulitzer gold out of not even hay but air. Clausen's a big recruit with a lot of pub. He committed to Notre Dame. End of story. There's no reason ND should be expected to put up with a reporter who has clearly attempted to damage the school for personal benefit. Jeff Carroll is not granted inalienable rights to ask questions of the high holy one and his actions -- no one else's -- got those privileges removed. There's a fine line here: a reporter with an actual story and actual, you know, evidence of malfeasance is duty-bound to report his findings. Giving such a reporter a similarly cold shoulder is poor form at best and more likely rampant megalomania. Carroll doesn't fall into that category. He wrote the stories because he wanted attention, silly things like evidence be damned. The articles had the air of careful phrasing to avoid libel suits and nothing approaching justification; the sympathy meter reads zero.
I've often wondered why Drew Sharp doesn't get the same treatment from the Michigan program. Even though he's a columnist and therefore not beholden to said facts, his relentless negativity is a drag on both Detroit-area fans and the teams they support. Lloyd Carr hates the guy -- and can you find someone who doesn't? Personally, if I was AD I would ban all Free Press reporters from press conferences and give the News unprecedented access until Sharp was sent packing. But I have been told I'm somewhat combative.
(HT: HP. Eek.)
This Youtube video would be quintessential Braylon with one small addition:
The addition would be a bonus twenty seconds wherein Braylon removes the blindfold, tells a six-year-old kid with lukemia to throw him a slant, and drops it.
I keeed, I keeed. We love you anyway, Moonbeam.
(Also: how is this the only result for "Braylon MSU" on Youtube? Hasn't someone stitched together the four catches from the end of the '04 MSU game and set it to the world's worst emo? Can we get on this? I would watch that in a loop if it was a TV show. Could I be more like Bill Simmons right now? Billy Zabka! Ian Ziering! Humiliating self at WSOP!)
Media Day orgy-type substance: Stadium & Main has linked the torrent of News/Freep/MGoBlue articles from yesterday's Media Day in one convenient post. Larry Lage has an AP article that again brings up the skinny bit:
Kevin Grady ran on the Michigan golf course so often during the offseason that he lost 11 pounds.
"We went up and down about four holes, and that's not as easy as it sounds," the running back said Monday at media day. "I feel a lot different endurance-wise. I feel like I can do some things I wasn't able to do last year."
Jake Long dropped 20 pounds, pushing himself away from the dinner table and into more workouts. Long hopes it will help him stay healthy and aid his transition from right to left tackle on the offensive line.
&c &c &c. A ploy to confuse women into watching, thinking that football is the new season of Desperate Housewives? Perhaps. More likely: an indication that the running game is changing. MLive echoes the weight loss yodeling -- noted bikini candidates include Grady, Alex Mitchell, Dave Harris, and Alan Branch; The Blade has an article on Hart; the South Bend Tribune cites Chad Henne's "new beard and re-sculpted body" in the lead -- yow!; Bass "not concerned at all" about potential career-endingness of knee injury; The Flint Journal profiles Jake Long.
Most important quote ever. Debord:
"I think you have to be more aggressive today," said DeBord, who also was the Wolverines' offensive coordinator in 1997-99.
"In `97, our whole thing was we want to control the ball and really continue to get first downs, three yards here, four yards here, five yards here. We were really trying to control it. But now you have to score. You have to put the ball down the field a little bit more than what we did then."
Brandon Harrison is returning to corner. From that same article:
Yet when injuries hit Michigan's secondary during the season, he moved to safety and played well.
Now he's headed back to corner to compete for the starter's spot opposite Leon Hall .
"There's a lot of competition at the other corner spot," he said, referring to Charles Stewart , Johnny Sears and Morgan Trent . "Instead of covering tight ends, I'll be covering receivers. ... I didn't think I was going to get switched back, but I'm glad to help the team."
The move makes a lot of sense with four experienced safeties -- Engelmon, Mundy, Barringer, and Adams -- returning but only two cornerbacks doing likewise, one of whom is getting pushed down the depth chart. Harrison showed that he was fast as all git out last year but overran a couple plays that lead to big gains and opposition touchdowns. He's got the hips and speed for press man over a slot receiver; I would expect him to see a lot of time in third-and-medium nickel packages.
Oh, yes. Aaaaaand now: Media Day OMG pepper banana pickle carrot!
Etc.: Mark May Be Wrong exists; check horrifyingly in-depth AP poll analysis; Deadspin highlights another terrifying woman who is A) a family member of a recently "graduated" Buckeye who went in the first round and B) is not Laura Quinn; SI On Campus says we have the best fight song. Like OMG duh.
Courtesy of The Wolverine. Newsworthy bits summarized below:
- DE/TE recruit Quintin Woods hasn't shown up yet due to a clearinghouse issue. DT Marques Slocum is also not on campus, having failed to get a qualifying test score after a long struggle. Slocum is in the process of an appeal, but he is a longshot to enroll at this point. Woods will probably end up on campus sooner or later. (<-- speculation)
- The offensive line is almost set. From left to right: Jake Long, Adam Kraus, Mark Bihl, ?, ?. One "?" will be senior Rueben Riley. If Mike Kolodziej is the fifth-best lineman Riley will play RG and Kolodziej RT; if one of the guards (Cuilla or Mitchell) is the best option, Riley will play RT.
- First player out of Carr's mouth when asked about the WRs was "underrated" Carl Tabb. Also getting plugged as a player with potential was drop-prone Doug Dutch, twice mentioned as a player with a lot of ability who needs to "step up."
- Carr continues to scare the crap out of me by mentioning Leon Hall as the primary backup to Breaston in the return game. Carlos Brown was also mentioned.
- Zoltan The Inconceivable is pushing Ross Ryan for the punting job. This is one area where I think Carr's focus on safety is correct strategically and wouldn't mind seeing Ryan handle the punting for a second year, as his ugly, short punts were almost totally unreturnable. ZTI's Heisman will have to wait a year... probably.
- Shawn Crable's slow start last year was due to him being a "huge disappointment" in training camp. He expected the job, didn't put in the effort and was relegated to the bench.
- Kevin Grady is going to be "much improved," having lost a bit of weight. Carr expects him to "hit the hole quicker and be better in the secondary."
- The much-discussed offensive line slimming got some additional airtime. Nothing terribly important was said, but Internet rumblings indicate a major shift in Michigan's running philosophy is on the way. Think Fred Russel.
- Somewhat frighteningly, Ryan Mundy's name keeps popping up as a candidate for playing time. I suppose it's good if he can wade his way through the four guys who started games a year ago, but the dread spectre of Yards After Mundy lurks.
- "Tremendous" watch: we've got two! Terrance Taylor has made "tremendous strides" in strength and workout ability. He is going to start opposite Branch. Also, Steve Breaston is a "tremendously committed athlete."
Update: MGoBlue has a veritable bevy of player quotes.
Go Blue Wolverine, the Michigan Scout site, is the not-infrequent target of sarcasm and ridicule in this space for general unprofessionalism, but this takes the cake:
Hall of Fame
(8/3/06 2:42:10 pm )
| Re: Wahington...to Michigan?!?!?!?!?
Let us pray Washington goes elsewhere. Will never start here... doesn't affect Allen. He isn't that good.
It was bad enough when GBW hired a punk kid with only a vague idea of a comma's purpose to inflict his mechanics upon Michigan fandom at large, but now he's trashing uncommitted recruits on a public message board. This is an employee of GBW with the temerity to call out not only his own guru service but the coaching staffs of Michigan and Ohio State all in order to rip a kid who may end up committing! On a site with scruples that's a firing offense; on GBW it's just more license to butcher the English language.
Something to consider if you want to dip your toe into the fetid pool of recruting subscription sites. Sure, it's all creepy, but there's guy-with-70s-mustache creepy and guy-with-70s-mustache -and-windowless-van creepy. GBW is the latter.
In other recruiting news: Bad news on the DT front from one of those Fox Sports roundup articles. First, Joseph Barksdale is still favoring Texas and OSU:
I go back and forth between Texas and Ohio State. It used to be just those two schools, but I talked to my parents about three and a half weeks ago, and we decided I should be serious about more schools.
Michigan and Notre Dame are "more schools," but things are grim. At the very least that rumor Michigan had gone insane and attempted to recruit Barksdale for the offensive line is dispelled:
"None of these schools want me for offensive line," said the 6-5, 315 pounder who claims 4.9 forty yard dash speed. "No schools have recruited me for offensive line, period."
Second, DT Josh Brent favors Illinois(!) and Ohio State over Michigan and Wisconsin:
"I'm glad I waited to narrow down schools until I'd seen all the campuses. At the moment, Illinois and Ohio State are my favorites with a slight to solid lead over the others," said the 6-3, 300 pounder. ...
"The edge for Illinois is my closeness with the coaching staff," he said. "I go down there and everybody knows who I am, even the players. The track and field coaches were recruiting me at first, but then they let the football coaches do their thing because football is going to be my focus in college. Still, I would definitely be able to do track and field alongside if I go to Illinois.
Josh, please keep in mind that you'll be on the receiving end of 800-point beatings for the next four years if you go to Illinois. You'll also have to wear those garish orange clown suits. (OMG negative recruiting!)
It's probably moot, anyway:
"I went to Michigan's camp in late June to work out for them. I do like defensive line coach, (Steve) Stripling, because of his intensity and passion for what he does. Also, the classes are all in walking proximity for such a big campus."
This may be reading too much into a random quote, but when you are quizzed about the things you like about Michigan and the second one is "I don't have to walk too far to go to class," you probably aren't in a rush to commit.
The only other item of note: Cal has offered OT Mitchell Schwartz.
Needs Going In: With two unheralded quarterbacks over the past two years and Chad Henne set to graduate a year after the '07 class steps on campus, Michigan needed one blue chippah and how.
Commitments To Date: Ryan Mallett is a blue chippah and how: when not scaring the daylights out of wide receivers with passes approaching the speed of light, Mallett makes a little money on the side hurling communications satellites into orbit. His hype has waxed (Rivals had him one of the top ten prospects in the country at first), waned (they dropped him to around #25 and made him the last five-star) and grown gibbous once more after an impressive Elite 11 camp where various observers claimed him second-best behind Texas-bound John Brantley, neck-and-neck with Clemson-bound Willy Korn.
Potential Commitments: None. If Michigan was going to continue pursuing other quarterbacks they probably would have made a push for Adrian's Stephen Threet, who committed to Georgia Tech. They're done.
You Should Panic This Much: None. Michigan got its man.
Needs Going In: A running back in this class would be a luxury. Michigan has four from the last two classes, three of whom come to Michigan with at least one service or guru declaring them to be OMG shirtless. If they find someone they like they'll take him, but they can go without this year and not worry a bit.
Commitments To Date: None. Michigan had offers out to both Brandon Saine and Danny "Boom" Herron, but both went to Ohio State. Must love the taste of crayons.
Potential Commitments: Most of the talk has centered around Illinois' Robert Hughes, who was rumored to be favoring Michigan a month or so ago but is now rumored to be favoring Notre Dame. Ah, rumors. Hughes is a big-time recruit who Michigan has been after heavily since the start of the year; he'll stay in the Midwest. Most of the other backs on Michigan's board have gone elsewhere or just plain dropped Michigan. Two names who still list Michigan: Curtis Shaw and Gerald Jones, though Jones is supposed to be completely tiny -- like 5'6" tiny.
You Should Panic This Much: None. Other than kicker, this is the position least likely to be filled when the class is finished. Michigan would very much like to land Hughes but won't fret if they don't.
Needs Going In: As severe as you could get for a relatively unimportant position. Sleeper Andre Criswell, a defensive end/linebacker prospect to various MAC teams, was a last-second addition at the position in '06. He's the only underclassman fullback on the roster.
Commitments To Date: Vince Helmuth -- not to be confused with Phil -- was Michigan's first commit in the class to the mild consternation of Internet grumblers set on a sexy position like cornerback or quarterback. Grumbles should be silenced, though, as Michigan filled their hole at FB with a plowing blocker in the Dudley mold. ESPN ranks him the top fullback prospect in the country.
Potential Commitments: One fullback is enough, thanks.
You Should Panic This Much: None. This hole is filled about as well as the one at quarterback.
Needs Going In: Michigan's one recruit from a year ago, Greg Mathews, is probably going to play in preparation for '07, so Michigan will need receivers in quantity to prevent a nasty gap. Expect three players by Feburary 2nd.
Commitments To Date: Michigan sleeper James Rogers came to Michigan camp, caught everything in sight, and won the "smokehouse" award for fastest player at his position. He was offered and committed soon after. A running back in high school, Rogers is a project but draws comparisons to a certain other instate sleeper at WR who was kind of good.
Potential Commitments: Recruitniks are keeping their eyes on OLSM's Taurian Washington, South Carolina's Junior Hemingway, and Pennsylvania's Toney Clemons. Hemingway is the most touted of the three -- ESPN ranks him #17 in the country -- but all three are solid four-stars to everyone. All three are also supposed to be favoring Michigan, Washington's reported OSU commitment nonwithstanding. With Rogers already in the fold Michigan probably only has room for two of the three. If two of the above three fall through, Michigan will pursue Californians Zion Babb and Marques Simas.
You Should Panic This Much: Not much. Current scuttlebutt claims that Washington and Hemingway are very likely to end up in winged helmets, likely leaving Clemons to Pitt.
Needs Going In: Major. Instate sleeper Quintin Woods is the only tight end in last year's class and he hardly played varsity football until his senior year, when he starred... at defensive end. He's a project and with only Carson Butler in the year ahead of him Michigan needs a couple tight ends to make up the numbers.
Commitments To Date: Michigan jumped on sleeper Martell Webb before anyone got wind of his freakish 6'5" self, then picked up a second commitment from Denver's Steve Watson, son of current Broncos receivers coach and former Broncos reciever Steve Watson. Webb is the huge HS wide receiver with serious mismatch potential; Watson is the heady coach's son who might be a bit plodding.
Potential Commitments: Two tight ends should do it.
You Should Panic This Much: A little. Three straight years Michigan has swung for the fences with utterly raw, outrageously athletic basketball players and has only Watson in the "safe bet" category. With three cracks at a breakout player Michigan has a good chance of getting one, but it's still something of a risk. And it doesn't seem likely that Butler, Woods, and Webb are going to be crushing, Spaethian blockers.
Needs Going In: Michigan looks for two or three G/C types in every class.
Commitments To Date: Illinois center David Molk, a high three star to Rivals but a member of the Scout 100 with ESPN splitting the difference of opinion. Currently undersized but tenacious and "nasty," Molk is an ideal, mobile center candidate.
Potential Commitments: I dunno. Pennsylvania's Steve Wisniewski is earmarked for Penn State. None of the in-state kids have offers. No one on the board has been heard from in a month or two. I dunno.
You Should Panic This Much: A little. Having Molk on board is nice but the total dearth of names aside from him is somewhat unsettling. But... it's guard. Last year nonwithstanding, they generally grow on trees and their recruiting rankings are almost irrelevant.
Needs Going In: Like guard, Michigan would like to get two in every class, occasionally three if things are looking thin. A year ago they picked up three-star Perry Dorrestein and five-star Steve Schilling.
Commitments To Date: None.
Potential Commitments: Californian Mitchell Schwartz, a three star on the upswing, is the surest bet at the moment -- great news for Spaceballs fans. Arkansas' Lee Ziemba, a top 100 player to everyone, is reputed to like Michigan quite a bit as
well but it could be hard to get him that far away from home. New York's John "No Relation" Elliot, also a top 100 player, has Michigan on a list of nine schools heavy on the academics but light on the football accomplishments and is a definite possibility.
You Should Panic This Much: A moderate amount. As it stands right now, Ziemba will probably stay closer to home and Elliot has a lot of schools to sift through. Even if Schwartz does commit that still leaves Michigan one tackle short without a great chance of pulling a high-profile recruit. Again, though: offensive line is the place where recruiting rankings are least useful. All the practice buzz at tackle focuses on relatively unknown Mark Ortmann, not VHT Corey Zirbel.
Ryan Mallett currently fills Michigan's most pressing need, er, impressively and the numbers at wide receiver and tight end appear to be coming. Missing out on Saine and Herron is disappointing and the offensive line situation is looking kind of tenuous, but the big issue on this side of the ball is locked down with the perfect recruit for Michigan's offense. Pick up Hemingway and Washington plus a couple tackles and the rest is gravy.
Right-now grade: A-.