- It's snowing like a mother; Saturday it will be 60.
- There is a woman on the local news actually named "Amelia Earheart," no foolies.
- This area of Denver is the designated convention-center type thing and is pretty cool, but a little weird: right next door to a candle shop is a payday loan place. And not two blocks from this shmancy Hyatt Regency is a ghetto pawn shop/dive bar area.
- A few people have inquiring about a potential beerfest; if you are so inclined our party will be retiring to the Wynkoop Brewing Company -- recommended by Starbucks baristas when prompted for a snooty microbrew bar -- after the game for the celebration/wake, as is appropriate. Map. I look sort of like this, except now more like a dirty hippie and less like a middle-aged housewife.
- I've got a couple mailbag questions answered so I might as well post 'em.
Avalanche. You can note on the right sidebar a number of new clip reels put up by Wolverine Historian recently. And there's more, oh, more. How about a five part retrospective on 1997?
Raise your hand if you're shocked. Mario Manningham attended UAB during his Michigan career, if you know what I mean:
After hiring an agent, however, Manningham showed up in better physical condition at his pro day and ran considerably faster. He also distributed a letter to NFL team officials admitting that he "wasn't straightforward" during team interviews at the Combine, had failed two drug tests while at the University of Michigan and apologized for any confusion he caused as a result of being "nervous and scared."
"I don't use marijuana anymore â€” and I have passed tests since," Manningham wrote in the letter. "I know what is at stake for me, and my career. I am learning what it is going to take to be a professional. I am writing this letter because I just want a fair evaluation, and I want to be accountable for my actions. I am willing to be re-interviewed, re-tested, and to undergo any evaluation any team wants me to undergo."
The way we hear it, Manningham, despite handling the situation poorly at the Combine with little guidance, is viewed as less of a character risk than Talib, who has been removed from more draft boards than Manningham, based on conversations PFW has had with nine NFL teams.
I guess now it can be told: multiple tipsters reported during the season that Manningham's suspension for the EMU game was the result of Manningham (and housemate Johnny Sears) getting evicted for blazing constantly.
Manningham's senior season was odd. Many Michigan fans crabbed about Manningham's demeanor, attitude, and production. While the first two items might have been legitimate issues, the third... uh...
Manningham also had 53 yards rushing on a combination of jet sweeps and technically backwards passes in the Florida game.
Bolded are the games piloted by Ryan "Whoops" Mallett; but for one 97-yard touchdown horrifically misplayed by a Wisconsin safety they -- when taken with two games in which Henne was doing his best Whoops impression** -- represent the only games of the year in which Manningham's total contributions were less than excellent. The only thing that held him back this year was incompetent quarterbacking.
If this is Mario's brain on drugs, whichever team drafts him should include a kilo of pot in his rookie contract. He's stoner Popeye.
*(post-apocalyptic oregon game)
**(one of those horrible games from Henne was due to a separated shoulder, duly noted.)
Oh, like, duh. This is as shocking as Mario Manningham's pot use. Re: AANews eighty-part investigative series launched in 1856:
Michigan notified the NCAA and the Big Ten about issues raised in the newspaper before the series was published, according to Kelly Cunningham, a university spokesperson.
A statement posted Tuesday on the university's Web site read, "Based on the university's extensive internal review and findings, neither the NCAA nor the Big Ten intend to pursue this matter."
And that's that.
It's like the Marines except with less Demi Moore, who wasn't even a Marine in that one movie but she was bald so close enough. Rodriguez apparently has a press conference every time Michigan practices or he has to make a sandwich. (MGoBlue is archiving the audio here.) In the latest, he was asked about the offensive linemen who have fled in terror:
"I don't know if it's so much about the style (of offense) the guys who stayed, they just like to work," Rodriguez said. "They don't mind being pushed and demanded to take themselves to a place they can't take themselves. You don't have to be a certain style or size of player to do that. You just really, really have to want to play."
Herein, I think, are the seeds of Rodriguez's success at West Virginia and a reason his behavioral outliers are Chris Henry-extreme. He's looking for people who are kind of deranged in the same way investment bankers or politicians are. Really driven people are often driven because they've been damaged in some way -- for evidence check any movie montage ever. Sometimes this turns into Owen Schmitt and other times you get Henry.
"I think we had a lot more guys interested in talking about how tough they are than showing it," Rodriguez added. "So we have to explain the difference to them. I didn't think it was a very good scrimmage. It wasn't a waste of time, because there are some things we can teach off of and all that. The intensity level that we expect to play at, it wasn't even in the same atmosphere."
It's redundant at this point to say "wow, there's a new sheriff around these parts!" but like... dude.
A small glimpse into one of the practices:
We are your sport-specific rulers. I ran across something called "Sports Tech Now" and what appears to be an attempt to order the top sports blogs based on different traffic metrics. I'm not sure what their methodology is -- it doesn't help that I can't figure out how they picked MGoBlog #10 because of the mirroring I've got going on with mgoblog.com -- but let's 1) assume they're right or right-ish, and 2) remove the general/"lookit the boobs" blogs like Awful Announcing, Deadspin, and Busted Coverage to look more closely at sport-specific blogospheres. We get this:
|5||MLB Trade Rumors||MLB||88441||70773||38969|
|8||Kissing Suzy Kolber*||NFL||80814|
|17||Fan Blogs||College Football||22940||19652||323302|
|18||Burnt Orange Nation||College Football||10240||14953||259662|
|20||Minor League Ball||MLB||11957||13596||138590|
|22||Golden State of Mind||NBA||12699||12574||111052|
|23||Fire Joe Morgan||MLB||16602||12067||143345|
|25||Need 4 Sheed||NBA|
And though I love FO, I don't think it qualifies as a blog and mentally remove it. The top 25 is then dominated by baseball -- no surprise -- with college football a close second. I mention it because I've always thought the CFB blogosphere was a particularly vibrant one, out of proportion to the sport's media profile.
I'm leaving on a jet plane for Denver early Thursday morning, and leaving in an SUV Wednesday night because said jet plane departs from Chicago. Then I'm going to be busy finding reasonably priced tickets and watching both semis, and skiing the next day. The upshot for the reader:
- No content Thursday other than an open thread. Maybe something late depending on the quantity of revelry.
- I will try to get something up Friday but it's going to be late in the day, 6 or 7.
- I plan on going WOOOOOO until I get tear-gassed, brah, if Michigan wins the national title and will be flying back early Sunday, so celebratory content this weekend is not likely. If we lose, I'll wait till Monday for sure.
Posting will be as normal tomorrow.
Update 3/31: Added NJ DE Anthony LaLota, OH RB Fitzgerald Toussaint, AZ DE Craig Roh (offer, USC lead), CA OL Everett Benyard, CA WR Shaquelle Evans, SC QB Stephon Gilmore (article header), FL S Frankie Telfort.
Removed KS LB Jaydan Bird (OK), OH FB Zach Boren (just a feeling), TX S Craig Loston (dropped us).
Editorial Opinion: Ok. Sorry this took so long. I eventually gave up on noting all the various additions and articles as I google many of the new names. At this point things are still very fluid and providing blow by blow updates on half the country is probably not a good use of your time. So how about a general feel as to where things are going?
Quarterback. No movement from that update a while back: Michigan's looking at a half-dozen dual-threat and has no clear #1 choice now that Russell Shepard is off the board. Tate Forcier and Kevin Newsome remain the most prominent names who've mentioned Michigan amongst a leading group. There are a couple more guys who claim offers but little is known about them so far.
One upcoming event (no permalink available) that is of interest:
Chesapeake (Va.) Western Branch quarterback Kevin Newsome has said in several interviews recently that visits will play a key part in his decision. Showing his interest in Michigan, the 6-3, 215-pound quarterback has made plans to visit Ann Arbor.
"Kevin, myself, Kevin's father and [his grandfather] will be coming up to Michigan on Saturday," reported Newsome's mother Sunday evening.
Tailback. Jones is in the fold and Michigan is looking for maybe one or two more. They could take some ridiculous number with the intent of throwing them all in a pile and finding a couple guys to play slot or in the secondary.
In fact, let's just pile them together...
Wide receiver. Also a huge area of focus. I thought Michigan's WR haul was pretty respectable last year but Rodriguez and co are going full-bore after ten or so guys. Bryce McNeal, about whom more later, seems the most likely to drop to Michigan, and that possibly soon-ish. Many others are just starting their recruitments.
Between these two positions there are about 20 kids with known offers, and this is a year after Michigan took nine RB/WR/TEs. Rodriguez has made noises about getting the numbers up at the wide receiver position and it's clear he means it.
Offensive Line. This will probably be another four or five person class; there's been little movement here except consistent articles on instate OL/TE Reid Fragel, who's 6'8" and 250. Michigan, Ohio State, Notre Dame, and Michigan State are all feeling him out but there are no offers on the table yet.
Defensive Line. Five-star Will Campbell was Michigan's first commit but is a little soft in that commitment; picking up Jones will probably help with that. Other than that, little movement. Some more offers have gone out to defensive ends but none seems a high probability at this point. Jay Hopson's offered every kid bigger than 250 pounds in Mississippi, it seems, but I remain skeptical about Michigan's ability to pull kids out of a place that's as deep south as it gets.
Linebacker. A ton of players here a year ago makes this an area of only moderate need, which is good. Michigan hasn't appeared on the short lists of any good prospects yet -- though they are on the longer lists of a number of players who haven't started whittling.
Secondary. Two commits, one of them a top 50 player, is an excellent start; Michigan continues to pursue a bunch of other guys, too. They have offers out to and are getting vague mentions by most of the top guys in the country, most of whom will probably head elsewhere. If they get another blue chip to go with Turner that would be outstanding; I kind of expect a lot of strikeouts and a lower profile guy or two.
At safety, Isaiah Bell's guru ratings after his early commitment will be interesting to track. Though he's not rated right now, that gushing ESPN scouting report implies he'll be a member of their top 150.
One guy worth providing blow-by-blow updates on is MN WR Bryce McNeal. Allen Wallace on McNeal:
"I'm not sure why, but my parents really like four schools," he said. "They like Colorado, Clemson, Minnesota and Michigan. My dad lives in Chicago and I live with my mom so they each have different reasons for liking these."
While McNeal says he likes each of those, Michigan is likely the favorite of those four. "They have a new head coach (Rich Rodriguez) and I'm eager to see what kind of changes they make to their offense. Also, I want to see how they do under coach Rodriguez. I think he'll be a great fit for them."
McNeal visited earlier and was impressed; he plans a return visit after he checks out Louisville's spring game. Ron English is recruiting him, which is interesting. GBW's Sam Webb on McNeal:
Expect McNeal's name to be on the rise in the coming months. He stood out from many other receivers in attendance with his ability to get separation on defenders. He often ran wide open through the secondary after a good route or a burst of speed. He also displayed good leaping ability and strong body control.
He's currently in the Rivals 250 and upward mobility from there would be good, though his offer list (the above mentioned four, Nebraska, UNC, and Iowa are the biggest names) lacks the pop of a truly OMG shirtless five star stud freak stud.
It's a little hard to tell because the below video has about four frames per second and looks like it was processed with the Atari 2600 in mind, but I think this is an impressive eight minutes of highlights:
The above-linked "Wire" area of Rivals says the McNeal visit will be the weekend of the 18th; a commitment seems a real possibility.
Appalachian State. Every one of Michigan's rivals (and, frankly, the rest of the planet) loves them some Appalachian State after The Horror, but State fans latched on to it harder than anyone else. Ohio State fans have their own -- for a given definition of "own", anyway -- accomplishments to brag on. Penn State fans have a decade of futility against Michigan and shreds of dignity and self-awareness. And Notre Dame would have lost to Appalachian State by 30. After a brief whooping period they kind of got over it.
Not so at State. Running back Jehuu Caulcrick:
"It felt like we won two games today," he said.
State is long-plagued by similar upsets -- Louisiana Tech, Rutgers before that was respectable, Central Michigan, Central Michigan again -- and improbable snatch-defeat-from-jaws-of-victory losses -- oh, God, too many to name -- so for Michigan to finally get the short end of the stick was sweet, sweet justice. Go to Michigan State's campus in the fall and you'll see so many people wearing black and yellow that you'll pull out a roadmap and mutter "how the f&#$ did I end up in Boone, North Carolina?"
WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO Wooo, motherfuckers, woo.
Talking about how hot the chicks are. Approach any Michigan State fan, grad, or provost and mention the words "Michigan," "Ann Arbor," or "University," and you will immediately be regaled with a dual-part homily. Part A will describe the Michigan acceptance letter the fan, grad, or provost has framed upon their wall. Part B will be a rousing encomium to the ladies of Michigan State.
Even the women will do this. It does not matter that this fan, grad, or provost might, say, be a 180 pound 5'2" woman, or, more commonly, a moderately in-shape girl with a blond dye job and a face Sarah Jessica Parker would find unpleasantly equine. She will regale you with tales of all the hot poon available for any brah with a barbed-wire tattoo and a 30 of Natty Ice.
Do you think I'm kidding? I am not kidding. The first two identifiable Spartan comments on the EDSBS "Things Maize & Blue People Like":
>> Michigan may be rocking its fair share of beddable, biddable, beautiful women
You've never actually been to Ann Arbor, have you?
Comment by SpartanDan â€” March 26, 2008 @ 1:54 pm
Concur with #42. On my HS visit to Ann Arbor, I made a conscious effort to count all the beautiful women. There were about 3. The entire day.
Also Orson, there used to be layers. Now, the ladies wear tights posing as pants. It helps a little, but still, it's a cold, hard winter.
Luckily, Oberon just came out, signaling the start of spring.
Comment by Ground0EastLansing â€” March 26, 2008 @ 1:58 pm
Their degrees may be worth $6.25 on the open market, but by God they've gotten to look at the asses of women they'll never have a chance with* every day.
*(They post comments to college football blogs.**)
**(other than the virile, model-nailing populace of this fine establishment, that is. You go, model-nailing virile commenters!)
Notre Dame Stadium. Michigan State -- MICHIGAN STATE -- has not lost at Notre Dame since 1993, a streak of six games. During that time Notre Dame has usually been somewhere between mediocre and flailingly bad, but that still has to be one of the weirdest current records in college football. I haven't bothered to look this up, but I'm willing to bet the only other teams that share that distinction with Notre Dame are teams State hasn't played since '93.
Rioting. This was going to be a cheap shot based on some long ago Final Four shenanigans until some of the brahs obliged over the weekend:
There isn't a group this side of Palestine more acquainted with the sweet smell of tear gas. I hear the Dupont '95 is developing a lovely honeyed nose, but the East Lansing police insist on using crap from South America that's well past its peak.
Update: Dude, Brah, it was intense:
Strapped like the Navy. Make sure to check the comments out.
Basketball. This is natural when you're the "state" -- or, like, "commonwealth" in Virginia -- school in any state with a flagship U-of that consistently beats the hell out of you in football, but State fans take it to a preposterous extreme. Anecdotal evidence from just last week: after Michigan took out Clarkson we decided to hang around the bar we were at for a while to catch a portion of the CC-Michigan State game, Michigan State being the one team Michigan did not want to face at any point during the tournament. At the same time, Derrick Rose and company were busy beating the everliving hell out of Michigan State.
Ann Arbor is the reluctant home of many Spartan fans and the owners of this place are alums, I believe, so the place was packed with brahs, all of whom looked like... well, probably a lot like I did during this year's Ohio State game. They were purely miserable. Meanwhile, the hockey team was a huge underdog -- a third place CCHA team playing the WCHA champs at altitude on an Olympic rink on their home ice -- and scored. No reaction whatsoever from anyone except the Michigan fans still around. They scored again. No reaction. At this point we start pointing at the televisions carrying the hockey game and begging them to pay attention to their very successful hockey team that's about to pull off a killer upset. It's halftime. Michigan State is down 30 to Memphis. And no one even looks when State scores again, because hearing Clark Kellogg say something like "JESUS CHRIST, if there are any women or children watching please turn on EWTN" is more important than actual success.
Michigan State's hockey team is the defending national champions.
I'm not sure if this is a compliment or an insult or what, but at this point State basketball fans are basically Michigan football fans, except with more brah, brah.
Anyone who does anything that harms or slightly inconveniences the University of Michigan in any way. See: Appalachian State.
300. Every Michigan fan who made the unwise decision to watch "300" spent the entire running time thinking two things: "my God those are some oily, slow-moving sixpacks," and "goddammit I bet whenever I go to a Michigan State sporting event, party, or commencement they're going to reference this movie in a really annoying fashion."
Apparently they've got a big Hoohoohoo factory in East Lansing.
Next Year. Because, man, that's the year they beat Michigan.
Chris Graham has just had tragedy befall his family:
NFL hopeful and local son Chris Graham tragically lost his sister, Jacqueline Love, in a house fire this past week -- a portable kerosene heater was the cause of the accident. Jacqueline, a single mom, leaves behind her 10-year old daughter, Jada Love. The child escaped the fire with minor injuries, but lost all of her belongings. The family is now struggling to pay for a funeral and has asked for the public's help in raising funds.
Donations can be sent to this address:
c/o Jeff Terry
4345 Forrest Manor Avenue
Indianapolis, IN 46222
Glasnost. It's no secret that Michigan has, until recently, operated at a level of paranoia and secretiveness rivaled only by Scientology. What's a secret? Everything else. Enter Rich Rodriguez as Gorbachev, and the walls come tumbling down:
For decades, the program operated under a shroud of secrecy that led to extremely limited media access. Last week, however, this reporter was able to walk right into the Schembechler complex, speak with not only the head coach but also the assistants and -- drum roll, please -- watch an entire Michigan practice.
That's Stewart Mandel, who -- like many members of the media -- has long been crotchety about Carr's... uh... crotchet-osity. Or whatever. You try turning that into an object.
Fans have been clamoring for more openness for a long time, for selfish reasons like it's nice to hear things like this:
Led up front by veterans Tim Jamison, Terrance Taylor, Will Johnson and Brandon Graham, and with both Trent and freshman All-America Donovan Warren (by far the most impressive player in practice) at cornerback, a dominant defense will likely be Michigan's best hope for a respectable transition season.
Fans love any piece of information they can get their greasy mitts on; Carr and company thought it detrimental to the program. Why? I don't know. I don't think they considered Michigan's media profile particularly important -- which it wasn't in 1969, the last time anyone updated the drapes or changed the culture around these parts -- and were loathe to let anyone know about Michigan's very tricky secrets like "run left on first play of game every game".
In 2008, things are different. Pete Carroll and Urban Meyer turned their programs into media darlings by 1) winning and 2) being accessible and, in Carroll's case, thinking everything is awesome. That tie you're wearing? Awesome. The donut you're eating? Awesome. Snoop Dogg? Awesome. Result: Shelly Smith is surgically attached to Trojan football and recruits all over the country spurn the local schools to be sixth on the depth chart. Not that I'm bitter or anything.
A quick check of any message board on the planet will reveal that every fan thinks the media is biased against their team. Incontrovertible proof: You can go to NDNation and read not-irregular complaints that NBC is biased against Notre Dame. QED, MFer. In reality, the media is mostly biased in favor of itself. Carr made their job hard by staring holes in their face whenever they asked an impertinent question and hardly ever providing the sort of access that makes a good story. Result: generally negative coverage of the program in the media. Rodriguez says "come in and watch this and I'll tell jokes about the Lion King." Result: stuff like the Mandel piece above. Media-friendly is the way to go.
Speaking of the media... the Daily meta-interviewed some of the Ann Arbor News interviewees and turned up something unethical:
Kolarik said he was misled by Ann Arbor News reporter John Heuser, who interviewed him for the story, about the article's subject matter.
"He told me it was going to be a tribute to Hagen's retirement, because he retired from one of his jobs this past fall," Kolarik said.
Kinesiology sophomore Greg Mathews, a wide receiver on the Michigan football team who was also quoted in the story, said he too felt misled about the focus of the story.
Mathews said the Ann Arbor News reporter who interviewed him - he said he didn't know who that was - told him the story would be a tribute to Prof. Hagen because he had retired from his position in the Society for Research in Child Development in the beginning of September.
I wonder if I Are Serious Editor has stopped spending every moment agonizing over Michigan's "culture of denial" and can now focus some time on an investigation that turned up almost nothing, outed embarrassing GPAs of innocent students in violation of federal law, and used unethical reporting tactics to get incriminating quotes from students who thought they were doing a professor of theirs a favor.
The administration is also looking for whoever leaked student's transcripts to the press -- which, like keeping an amphibious rodent for, uh... domestic... within the city limits, isn't legal -- and will undoubtedly fire the guy.
You remember how the News complained about the University being unresponsive and turned down an interview with Mary Sue Coleman because the U wanted it over email?
Heuser did not return multiple phone calls seeking comment.
Jim Knight, managing editor of The Ann Arbor News, did not return repeated calls for comment last night.
Mmm, like rain on your wedding day except actually ironic.
Side note: back in October, Heuser acted like a dick during a press conference and got snipped at by Carr.
Why not? Rakes of Mallow, in the midst of complaining about Notre Dame basketball's nonconference schedule -- 250th in all the land:
Big Ten teams- A few years ago, the Irish played both Indiana and Michigan, a trend that sadly stopped the last couple seasons. While the team may eventually face Tom Crean's Indiana Hoosiers in Maui (one NCAA win in five seasons! As long as he can get Dwyane Wade to come to Bloomington, great hire, Hoosiers!), what's the reason for not facing Michigan, Indiana and/or Purdue on a yearly basis?
Word. Michigan and ND just locked themselves into a football contract that expires when the sun does; they're also in the same hockey conference. Why don't they play Notre Dame every year? There's an existing rivalry between the schools, ND is nearby, and the ND program is respectable but not exactly Duke or UCLA.
I briefly inhabited the city of Cork, wherein an unpleasant woman showed me a room with black plastic where a window should go, the view was nice but I decamped to Galway and that was Cork. The most bizarre biographical factoid about MGoBlog bete noire John Pollack, he of "Save the Big House" and Tiananmen Square fame: he built a boat
out of wine corks and floated it down some river. No, seriously. If you don't believe me, believe 20/20:
Pollack's childhood fantasy was to build his very own boat and sail off on a magical adventure, and he made that dream a reality.
20/20 thinks this is cute; around these parts not so much.
Hockey FR. Yost Built has "Going Upstairs" posted for Michigan's regional games and plans like editions for Michigan's games against Notre Dame this year; surprisingly there was no mention of how frustrating the refereeing was during the Clarkson game. Clarkson, like Michigan State, specialized in "good defense," which means grabbing and clutching and grabbing and interfering juuust short of a penalty unless the game is undergoing one of its periodic crackdowns on obstruction. They also specialized in punching guys in the face, which only got called sometimes.
But he had the benefit of replay, and concluded:
I should also point out that I don't think the officiating was nearly as bad as I thought it was the first time I watched the game. Most of the ones we got replays for were legit calls. A couple of bad missed calls, but overall a pretty well-officiated game, despite my earlier comments.
Ohhhhhhhh... As mentioned on the sidebar yesterday, MSU's Jeff Abdelkader signed with the Red Wings and will not return for his senior season. Yost Built notes that there is a guy on the RCMB claiming sophomore defenseman Mike Ratchuk has signed with the Flyers. Since the same guy reported both the Abdelkader and Brian Lerg (who signed with Edmonton) signings hours before the news became public, it's probably legit.
With Tim Kennedy widely expected to sign with Buffalo, State will enter next year minus four of its top five scorers, three of its defensemen, and some pointless fourth-liner. If Jeff Petry -- who, IMO, was terrific in what I saw of him -- signs with Edmonton, they might have a rough year.
Oh... snap? Jim Tressel:
"Is there a gentleman's agreement between Big Ten coaches that once a player verbally commits to a school, the other coaches are supposedly hands off?"
This was Tressel's answer, after about a one-second pause.
"I guess only between the gentlemen."
OSU's Scout site refers to this as a "thinly veiled dig"; the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, linked above, is more circumspect. Is it? It seems remarkably hypocritical to imply you're ethically superior to another coach when you yourself just tried the exact same trick. (Columbus OL Patrick Omameh picked up an OSU offer the day before signing day, just like Michigan and snake-oil-eruption-causing Roy Roundtree.) And it seems out of character for Jim Tressel, Most Boring Man On The Planet.
It kinda sounds like a dig, though. And by God I hope it is. MGoBlog's policy on trash talk is "trash talk is awesome, always."
Etc.: Tyler Sellhorn explains the flexbone, may be of relevance to option-interested Michigan fans.