This is maaaaybe premature there, ESPN. Maryland #1 FWIW.
It is a grim, cold morning in December of 2009, and Michigan's basketball team has essentially closed the door on its tournament chances by losing to a 4-4 WAC team consisting entirely of guys who got to the game via beanstalk. The hockey team languishes at .500 and escaped the basement of the CCHA by squeezing by a bad Ohio State team last weekend; they're not out of things entirely but it's looking grim for them as well. And the football team's promising start spun into a 1-7 Big Ten tailspin that had half a state reaching for whiskey, a gun, or both.
We are low. My main thought this morning was "how far back to you have to go to find Michigan fans as miserable as we are?" 1984 was the only plausible candidate that popped into my mind: the football team limped to 6-6 and the hockey team was still struggling through the first few years of the Red era. This was my guess on WTKA this morning, but Craig Ross emailed to remind/inform us that in '84-'85 the basketball team was 26-4 and Bill Frieder was the national coach of the year. That football team was also hamstrung by one obvious deficiency caused by injury, and it made a bowl. So that's out.
It was pointless to even look at other years in the Bo/Mo/Llo era, so it was back to the 60s we went, and after a couple of false positives (1967 featured a hockey team that was pretty good and made the tournament) I found it. The last year of equal misery. (Requirements: no tournaments for hockey and basketball and football goes under .500.)
Ladies and gentlemen, 1962-63:
|Choose the game you want to display|
|1||Ball State||December 1, 1962||Yost Field House||W-68-58||3,800|
|2||Creighton||December 3, 1962||Yost Field House||W-81-62||3,700|
|3||Butler||December 7, 1962||Yost Field House||L-69-70||5,500|
|4||TCU||December 13, 1962||Yost Field House||W-82-60||3,600|
|5||at Evansville||December 15, 1962||W-73-64||8,419|
|6||San Jose State||December 19, 1962||W-66-52||0|
|7||Houston||December 21, 1962||W-90-88||4,600|
|8||at Texas A&M||December 22, 1962||W-82-79||4,000|
|9||Yale||December 29, 1962||Yost Field House||W-82-71||2,600|
|10||Northwestern||January 5, 1963||Yost Field House||W-78-75||6,600|
|11||Iowa||January 7, 1963||W-88-67||7,500|
|12||at Ohio State||January 12, 1963||L-66-68||13,497|
|13||Minnesota||January 14, 1963||Yost Field House||L-63-66||6,700|
|14||at Detroit||January 30, 1963||Detroit, Michigan||L-70-83||7,134|
|15||at Michigan State||February 2, 1963||East Lansing, Michigan||W-72-71||10,577|
|16||Wisconsin||February 4, 1963||Yost Field House||L-78-81||9,100|
|17||Indiana||February 9, 1963||Yost Field House||W-90-86||8,600|
|18||Ohio State||February 16, 1963||Yost Field House||L-68-75||9,775|
|19||at Northwestern||February 18, 1963||L-62-63||4,000|
|20||at Purdue||February 23, 1963||Lafayette, Indiana||W-71-53||7,841|
|21||Iowa||February 25, 1963||Yost Field House||W-78-70||4,600|
|22||Illinois||March 2, 1963||Yost Field House||W-84-81||9,450|
|23||at Indiana||March 4, 1963||L-96-104||5,351|
|24||at Wisconsin||March 9, 1963||W-82-80||7,835|
Record 16-8 (8-6)
That's not terrible but it wasn't enough to make the 25(!) member NCAA field.
|10/13||@||*Michigan State (5-4)||L||0||28|
|11/24||@||*Ohio State (6-3)||L||0||28|
So there you go: anyone under about 57 has never experienced anything like what it looks like is going to go down this year. The last time this happened Don Draper's wife loved him.
For what it's worth, hockey won the national title the next year, basketball would make the Final Four with Cazzie Russell at the helm, and football would… uh… go 3-4-2. Two out of three ain't bad.
|WHAT||Michigan v. Utah|
|WHERE||Salt Lake City, UT|
December 9th, 2009
|THE LINE||Michigan –1*|
|TELEVISION||CBS College Sports|
*Line provided by online sports betting site Sportsbetting.com.
Despite coming away with a victory over Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Michigan's shooting woes continued on Saturday. Coach Beilein joked at the beginning of his Monday press conference "Believe it or not, we're trying to get some extra shooting in." Beilein noted that the shooting problems have not been consistent from game-to-game, and even in practices. There could be mental or physical reasons, or simply a lack of good practice reps (the Wolverines' travel schedule to Orlando prevented them from getting adequate practice prior to the BC game).
Teams have slumped shooting like this before and recovered under Beilein. Michigan struggled midway through last season, and the 2005 West Virginia team lost to Villanova by 38 points to open the conference season - then still managed to make the Elite 8. While Michigan's slump is definitely frustrating, it's a salvageable situation.
Manny's hamstring issue is still ongoing. "He's gonna be limited a little bit," said Beilein. Harris has had trouble with his offensive explosion, and getting a little rest might help. Ben Cronin is still suffering through his injuries, and his lateral motion is still not where it should be to play at this level. Beilein didn't rule out a medical waiver for a 6th-year for Ben.
To acclimate to altitude (Salt Lake City is more than 4,000 feet above sea level), the Wolverines headed out West on Tuesday to get a full practice under their belts instead of than their usual shootaround in the arena. "It's a long way to go, and I just wanted to practice there one time," said Beilein.
Utah is typically a very tall team, and this year is no exception. "It's just what you always expect from Utah: they're huge," said Beilein. 7-footers Jason Washburn and David Foster have played nearly every minute between the two of them, and Kim Tillie isn't much shorter at 6-11. The rest of the Utes are pretty big as well, with starting guards Carlon Brown and Luka Drca—not a typo—standing 6-5. Point guard Marshall Henderson is the runt of the bunch at 6-2. This should be a tough matchup for the Wolverines height-wise, though Utah doesn't rebound very well, despite their size. Michigan has to decide whether to match their height, or play small. "You can mismatch them and hope for the best, or you can match them and hope for the best," said Beilein.
The Utes have struggled so far this year, dropping home games to Idaho and Seattle. They've also fallen to Oklahoma State and Weber State away from home. Seemingly the lone bright spot on their resume so far is a 2-point tournament win over Illinois (disregard that the Illini fell to Bradley the very next day, of course). A win over Michigan would be big for the Utes in righting the ship. Of course, the same could be said for Michigan.
If you need an explanation of the stats, check out Ken Pomeroy.
|Michigan v. Utah: National Ranks|
|Category||Michigan Rank||Pine Bluff Rank||Advantage|
|Mich eFG% v. Utah Def eFG%||251||111||UU|
|Mich Def eFG% v. Utah eFG%||211||171||U|
|Mich TO% v. Utah Def TO%||2||311||MMMM|
|Mich Def TO% v. Utah TO%||19||33||M|
|Mich OReb% v. Utah DReb%||264||194||U|
|Mich DReb% v. Utah OReb%||300||238||U|
|Mich FTR v. Utah Opp FTR||304||175||UU|
|Mich Opp FTR v. Utah FTR||8||116||MM|
|Mich AdjO v. Utah AdjD||176||156||U|
|Mich AdjD v. Utah AdjO||81||143||M|
Difference of more than 10 places in the national rankings get a 1-letter advantage, more than 100 gets a 2-letter advantage, more than 200 gets a 3-letter advantage, etc.
This Utah team, despite dropping a few winnable contests, is not truly bad in any way except for forcing turnovers. Fortunately, that gives Michigan a huge advantage in holding onto the rock. Other than that, the game is fairly even.
The only categories in which one team has an advantage of more than 100 places in the national rankings are Michigan's shooting against Utah's defense, and each team's ability to keep the opponent off the free throw line. The Wolverines' shooting woes, however, seem to be defense-independent, and merely a product of a shooting slump for Michigan snipers like Zack Novak and Stu Douglass.
Getting to the line is something that Utah doesn't excel at, surprising given their size. Michigan, for all their troubles defending in the paint, hasn't sent opponents to the stripe a lot. With a team the size of Utah, the Wolverines might have to foul a lot more to keep them from getting easy points. It's tough to know though, given that the Utes haven't forced fouls from much smaller teams. Michigan hasn't gotten to the line much this year themselves, and a big team like Utah should be able to defend without fouling.
This is a very close matchup, and it could swing one way or the other on any number of seemingly small factors. Unfortunately, it's the first true road game for the Wolverines, and it's unlikely that the shooting slump comes to an end in the Hunstman Center. This looks like a game that the Utes pull out, as the lead widens in the final minutes to make the game look more one-sided that it truly was.
So… yeah: someone in Michigan's compliance department got the idea that there had been a rule change and that Michigan would not be able to cram more than the NCAA-mandated maximum of 25 players into this recruiting class, and from this person the idea spread to Sam Webb and Rivals and Tom VanHaaren, all of whom talked to similar folk in compliance and got the same answer: rule change, 25 is a hard maximum, no funny stuff with the early enrollers.
This made no sense when combined with recent events. Michigan offered sleeper safety Ray Vinopal and instate NT Jonathan Hankins and got back involved with a half-dozen other prospects, including Pahokee DT Richard Ash and a bunch of Californians. The numbers weren't going to add up.
Further probing has finally revealed the hypothetical rule change to be inaccurate. Probably. An email from the Big Ten's director of compliance indicates there has been no rule change. A small snippet of a longer reply from this official posted on the Rivals premium board:
Nothing has changed, although you’ve never been able to “backdate” and count a student-athlete (SA) in a year in which they weren’t in attendance. What I suspect you’re thinking of is the fact that mid-year enrollees (except SAs receiving aid under the “mid-year replacement” rule?described below) count against the overall limit of 85, but may count against the initial limit of 25 in either the year of initial enrollment (if there’s room) or in the year immediately following.
I guess there's some chance that this is not definitive, but it is this guy's job to know these things and he has explicitly shot down the idea that anything has changed. And it was always very strange that this fairly important change to recruiting rules would go without a single mention in a newspaper, or get brought up by any other fanbase. I'm guessing a few people got confused in compliance for some reason and started this whole thing. It's the simplest explanation.
Anyway: since the Big Ten is not imposing a 25-per-class limit—Penn State enrolled 27 freshmen last year—Michigan should be able to go to 28. This makes Michigan's recruiting binge of late seem much saner from the outside. With Donovan Warren probably off to the NFL and Brandon Smith probably off to some other school, Michigan is obviously planning to take a full 28.
Take the current commits, add in expected commits from MD LB Josh Furman, FL CB Tony Grimes, and FL DE Clarence Murphy, and plan for an inevitable decommit or guy who doesn't look like he'll qualify and finds his offer withdrawn*, and you're looking at two or three more guys in this class. If Michigan can go to 28, that works out just fine. If they can't, Michigan's already at –1 slots and is steaming full speed ahead into an uncomfortable first couple months of 2009. Occam's Razor says it's 28, and Michigan intends to get there.
*(Which, BTW, seems okay by me. If a player isn't eligible by the time his first-semester senior grades are in I think a school is within its rights to say "sorry, but we can't take the chance." I'd rather not see Michigan in a spot where they took a marginal guy with marginal grades, but offers are contingent on grades.)
All updates can be seen on the 2010 Michigan Recruiting board.
Ray Vinopal Goes Blue
For a defensive back commit, most Michigan fans weren't too excited about it (ironic, since many were complaining about the mental deficiencies of Michigan's DBs this year), but OH S Ray Vinopal has pledged his word to become a Michigan Wolverine. The 1st-Team All-Ohio selection and State Champion doesn't worry about the haters, though, as he told mgoblog's Tom Van Haaren:
Ray Vinopal - "I read what people say about me, I'm going to work my a** off to prove everyone of them wrong. I'm not scared."
Ray Vinopal - "I've been an all state sprinter in Ohio, so I'm not slow. I know what I can do, and we're going to turn it around."
Vinopal has combine-reported 5-10 height and 4.56 speed, for those who were questioning the accuracy of those numbers. He also comes from a traditionally-power football program that pumps out a number of D-1 prospects every year. Hopefully, Ray has success at Michigan, and helps open a pipeline into Cardinal Mooney.
MD LB/S Josh Furman still plans to announce his final college decision at the Maryland Crab Bowl on December 19th. He has narrowed his choices down to Michigan and Virginia Tech, and has already informed both schoolswhat his final decision will be. The recent rumblings from all parties say that Michigan is the likely choice. If Michigan is the choice, the fact that he nearly threw out his Michigan offer without even opening the envelope will be quite ironic indeed:
After his junior season, Maryland and West Virginia had extended scholarship offers. Then, last February, Dunlap was leafing through a pile of recruiting mail for Furman and tossed aside several form letters from schools that are typically sent to jog a recruit's attention. One of them was from Michigan, but Dunlap had a second thought and picked it out of the garbage.
"Then I read it," Dunlap said, "and when I got to the part where it said, 'full athletic scholarship,' I ran down the hall to tell him about it."
Furman's first major offer from a school outside of the region set off a frenzy.
Furman has been a highly-productive running back this year, though he left the State Championship game (which his team ultimately won) with a knee injury early in the contest. Video of that game can be seen here. As far as the injury goes, "smileyworm" on Scout is Furman's coach and he reports that there's nothing to worry about:
He is 100% ok. Heard something pop during a run and it felt funny afterwards. Was held out as a precaution. The knee didn't even swell. Will still play in the crab bowl on the 19th.
Will Carvin Waver?
I brought this up in yesterday's Friday Night Lights post, but it's worth examining in depth: LA S commit Carvin Johnson may be starting to pick up from interest from the hometown LSU Tigers.
Former Tennessee running backs coach Frank Wilson was offered a position on the LSU coaching staff last week, which he accepted yesterday, since just about every Tennessee assistant except Monte Kiffin is looking to get the hell out of Knoxville. The interesting part comes from the first article, however:
Having seen Wilson Thursday, he played coy and smiled. When I asked him about LSU and suggested the possible move to LSU to him, he simply said, “you think?” and “we’ll see.” Wilson was wearing a Tennessee pullover. Frank was in town at Archbishop Rummel High School, taking a hard look at Carvin Johnson, who has verbally committed to Michigan. He likes the 6’1, 190 pound senior safety and may recruit him wherever he coaches next year.
One thing Wilson did comment on was the fact that there are so many good players in Louisiana and that’s why he, Tennessee, Alabama, Ole Miss and other SEC powers spend so much time in the state. He also opined that while LSU has gotten most of those outstanding home-grown players, they have either missed on or not recruited others, including the likes of Rummel’s Johnson.
No. We found him first. You didn't want him. OURS OURS OURS.
LSU's recruitment of Johnson means two main things:
1) Michigan found a sleeper before any other big schools got on him, and now other teams see what the Wolverines unearthed first. LSU doesn't exactly suffer from a lack of DB talent, so if they want him, you know this kid's a player. There are seemingly two factions warring it out in the Michigan interwebs, one of which says to trust Rodriguez's recruiting strategy. and the other of which says "omg that guy wasn't even rated." Score one for group the former.
2) The Wolverines might just have a battle on their hands to keep Carvin Johnson in the class. It's always hard to turn down the hometown team. When said hometown team is 3 years removed from a national title, and Michigan is struggling through a rebuilding process, that's just all the more incentive to reconsider (except that Michigan can offer mountains of playing time).
Keep an eye on this situation, and hopefully the coaches will be able to keep Carvin blue.
PA CB commit Cullen Christian was added to the Army All-American Bowl roster last week, bringing the total number of Michigan commits to... 2. Christian joins WI P commit Will Hagerup on the East roster.
"I'm going to represent Michigan down there just like I'm going to represent Penn Hills," he said. "I'm going to go all out and try to make my team look good."
OH S Latwan Anderson and PA DT Sharrif Floyd are longshots for Michigan on the East roster.
CA S Tony Jefferson, MI CB Dior Mathis, and CA S Sean Parker are longshots for Michigan on the West roster.
In the other big All-Star contest, MI QB commit Devin Gardner is the only Wolverine selected to the ESPNU Under Armour game. No other prospects selected to that game are strongly considering Michigan at this time.
OH OL Christian Pace will enroll early, as will OH WR Jerald Robinson and MI RB Austin White (all links $, info in header). MI WR Jeremy Jackson is participating in the Hawaii-Mainland All-Star game, then enrolling early at Michigan.
CA S Sean Parker enjoyed his Michigan visit, and CA RB Lucky Radley may be considering the Wolverines. Happy trails, CA S Dietrich Riley. FL OL Torrian Wilson may be back on the table for Michigan ($, info in header). CA S Tony Jefferson and CA WR Kenny Stills will both announce on December 18. Neither is expected to pick Michigan. Latwan Anderson might be considering Michigan again.
Quiet week with few teams playing; obviously 'Bama put a stranglehold on the top spot. The rest can be found at CBS Sports. Tim's revised ballot after the jump.
Annual exercise. This site, like all other sites, has a favored playoff proposal that it spent way too much time justifying a couple years ago and wouldn't like to revisit in depth but would like to remind you how much better it would be than the current broken system.
In short, it's a six-team playoff with home games in the first two rounds and the final at the Rose Bowl. There are no autobids. First round would be the weekend after the Championship games (ie, this weekend), the second round would be January 1st, and the final would be the 8th or whatever in the Rose Bowl. This year's edition:
1. Alabama vs. 4. TCU / 5. Boise State
2. Texas vs. 3. Cincinnati / 6. Florida
That is weirdly like two of the existing BCS games, but this time they actually, you know, get a shot at the big boys should they win.
A brief recap of why this is good:
- Byes and home games keep huge tension in the regular season. The SEC championship game didn't eliminate Florida but instead of a bye and a second-round home game, Florida gets to go to Cincinnati in a quarter-final.
- Slanting the playoff towards regular season results also makes it likely that the national title winner would always have the best resume at the end of the season. Even a two-loss team slipping in at the back end would probably get voted #1 independent of any crystal footballs after three straight wins against elite competition, two of them on the road.
- It doesn't require anyone to travel excessively.
- It doesn't affect the bowl system much. Only four teams are sucked out of the bowls.
- It's not the dumbest thing in the history of the world.
Yea, truly this is the way.
The most evil corporation in the history of world. …probably isn't this one I'm about to talk about. But they are irritating.
No one else probably remembers this, but when I saw the letters in this Sporting Blog post I was reminded of a previous fiasco:
Back in late October, SI broke the story of a fight for film going on between the NFL and XOS Technologies. As a quick refresher, XOS is in charge of digitizing film for eight conferences, including the SEC, Pac-10, Big 12, Mid-American, WAC and Sun Belt. Now XOS wants what is reportedly $20-$30 million for film the NFL used to receive for nothing.
You may remember XOS from such ill-fated public relations disasters as "The SEC Controls Your Mind"; they signed on to do all the digital stuff for the SEC this year and immediately issued a draconian policy that was RIAA-esque in its blinkered belief that you can control the internet. Now this same corporation is trying to extract money from the NFL for tapes of prospects, and the NFL is in a fight. I bet coaches who want to tout the NFL-readiness of their players just love this corporation.
You'll note the Big Ten is not afflicted; they've cast their lot with Fox and the Big Ten Network and should have no problems getting seniors and—more importantly for folks hoping Donovan Warren reconsiders—juniors scouted in a timely fashion.
Aigh. Formerly Anonymous ran across this interview with Richard Billingsley, which gives me another opportunity to rail against his hodge-podge of dreck that purports to be a computer rating system. It's not a surprise that a guy who's described his system like this…
Believe it or not, the system is designed after our own United States Constitution. But don't hold that against it! Although at times I feel this system is just about as complicated as our Federal Government, there is one huge difference..... this one works!
…"doesn't even have a degree," according to the article, and won't divulge his formulas for ranking teams. Because they're insane. Things Billingsley does in his rankings:
- Weight Billingsley's own arbitrary preseason human rankings.
- Partially consider a team's (arbitrary, information-free) rank at the time of a game, thus hugely overvaluing wins like Notre Dame's victory over #3 but soon to go 7-5 Michigan in '05.
- Heavily weight the most recent week.
- Add in arbitrary bonuses.
This is an organization that thought a propaganda website, widely-mocked twitter account, and Ari Fleischer were good ideas, so it's not a huge surprise that they've cast their lot with a guy who sounds like he owns a bunch of stuff from the Franklin Mint. It is further confirmation that the people in charge of college football are sort of clueless: they've cast their lot with an aging nut's secret blend of herbs and spices that hasn't been updated since 1970.
PREWB! This was discussed extensively on the radio but has gone uncommented on here: the latest Free Press bit on the Michigan State "fight" is further evidence that the paper is in the tank for the Spartans. It interviews two parents of suspended players but doesn't bother to talk to the very talkative victim, mention that the president of the fraternity in question would like to see the football players gone for good, or mention anything in Glenn Winston's past. It is strictly from the POV of State players' parents. Jon Chait has a fuller takedown of an organization that's descended into self-parody.
This quote from the "grand polaris" of Iota Phi Theta—what a title—is from the News…
"From what I understand, almost all of those guys, if not all of them that came in there, (threw) a punch," Price said of the eight who received suspensions. "They came in, (based) on their behavior, with the sole purpose of beating up or physically abusing an Iota."
…and is followed up by the term "assault," not "fight." The News also reports on Dantonio's response to the thing. Like the context left out of the Free Press Katrina story and provided by AnnArbor.com, you don't have to take a crazy biased blogger's word for it. You can observe the other news organizations covering the story and contrast them with the Free Press.
Etc.: Chengelis on the AD search. Harbaugh is not talking to Notre Dame. Bill Taylor discusses his company, which deals with substance abuse. Red is 70, and it's been suggested that Happy Birthday should be sung on Friday at Yost.