1/31/2008 - Michigan 32, Minnesota 52 - 10-ish minutes left, second half
I am one of those irritating people who makes it a point of pride to never leave a sporting event early. Since I matriculated at Michigan, I'm pretty sure the only time I've left a game early was during this dismal year, when I bolted with a couple minutes left in the Oregon game. And after those two weeks who could blame me? Or anyone? When not facing the imminent danger of perpetrating mass homicide, I endure.
I have seen Walter Cross run for 100 yards long after Donovan McNabb turned Michigan's defense into confused goo. (What remained of the student section gamely chanted "Cross is boss" as the minutes ticked off Michigan's futile grasp at respectability.) I have waited out 6-1 losses to Northern Michigan at Yost. I have sat in the world's worst-designed poncho and watched Michigan tackle a directional Michigan school -- which I don't remember and doesn't matter -- in the brief windows when the wind was not whipping said ill-designed poncho into my face and my newly-cleansed glasses had not been re-coated by the insistent, driving rain.
I have sat through it all, melting-hot September games against MAC foes and frigid, dull things against Northwestern and Purdue. Misery has little power over me.
This year, I've gotten through one of the five Michigan basketball games I've attended.
This latest was perhaps the most depressing sporting event I can remember. Michigan quickly fell behind by double-digits in a half-empty arena. The loudest group of people in the place were a hundred or so Minnesota students who had bizarrely decided to crash Crisler en masse on a Thursday night. At some point during the second half they chanted "our house" over and over; all I could think is "how goddamn far away is Minneapolis? Is it Thursday? What day is this?"
It was indeed Thursday; according to Google Maps, Minneapolis is 648 miles from Ann Arbor, 10 and a half hours by car. Seriously... what the hell? I can understand invasions from East Lansing or Columbus or, I dunno, Toronto or something, but Minneapolis? Don't you have better things to do than spend either 20 hours or hundreds of dollars to see your kinda-crappy basketball team beat up on Michigan's very crappy basketball team? Evidently not.
At halftime they had a 40th anniversary celebration for Crisler. Most of the 1968 team was there to receive the hearty applause that is their due. There was a great spiel about Rudy Tomjanovich, the star of that team and one of the names in the rafters at Crisler. He was not there, and that seemed appropriate. Cazzie Russell was, though, and that was sad.
Russell is one of those elderly gentlemen who radiates dignity and authority in their very mien. The nearest equivalent in my experience has been Red Berenson, who seems to terrify first-round draft picks into committing to Michigan merely by cocking his eyebrow. Russell has that sort of bearing.
So he stood with his bearing, and listened to his accomplishments -- which are many -- and was then told he stood in the House Cazzie Built and that seemed like kind of a cruel thing to tell a nice old man who never did you any harm. The House Cazzie Built is half-empty, overrun by bums from half a continent away, and home to a team likely to set records for futility.
Michigan has not so much as reached the NCAA tournament since 1998, an impressive feat matched by an ever-dwindling list of maybe ten major-conference teams. Being there is an act of masochism. But hey... new lights!
I have four more tickets sitting at a drawer at home; I don't know how many more of them I'll use.
- Speaking of the announcer guy... oh, God. At least 5% of the Crisler misery is because of him. I understand the arena is dead, but importing the PA guy from the Sioux Falls Skyforce isn't going to help things. The pizza giveaways SPONSORED BY DOMINOS!!!, the stupid free-throw shooting competitions, the fake cheer in the announcement whenever anyone makes a basket... none of this crap would fly at either Michigan Stadium or Yost. Michigan's always avoided the WOOOO THIS IS SPORRRRRRTZZZ presentation, except at basketball games.
Attention: this is not the D-league.
Eggs congregate further in a particular basket:
B.J. Daniels, who has been ranked the No. 8 dual-threat quarterback in the nation, is no longer being recruited by Michigan, it is being reported.
Michigan called off an in-home visit that was scheduled for Thursday and backed off the recruitment, scout.com is reporting. Kyle Rice, Daniels' high school coach in Tallahassee, Fla., told rivals.com that the recruitment was over.
I have no idea what could have caused the rift; Daniels was supposedly qualified and excited about the opportunity at Michigan. Though Justin Feagin's still out there he's way less touted than Daniels (until recently, kid was a two-star). It's Pryor or bust, I guess.
(Side note: newspapers have taken up taking subscription content from the recruiting sites -- which this is -- and posting it willy-nilly. That seems unethical.)
Wither Terrelle Pryor? Probably still Ohio State. But it seems slightly less grim today than yesterday.
One. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported yesterday that Pryor may delay his decision until after Signing Day:
Pryor had planned to announce his college decision live on ESPN Wednesday. But he said yesterday he might wait at least a few days to make his choice.
"I'd say it's about 50-50 that I'll push things back," Pryor said.
If he pushes things back it's to visit spread-friendly Oregon, not the act of a guy who's a "lock" anywhere. Unless, as the hardcore tinfoil-hat types have decreed, Pryor is such an OSU lock that he's under orders from Tressel to lead Michigan on until such time as other options like BJ Daniels and Justin Feagin have freaked out and gone elsewhere. But, right: tinfoil hats.
(Also, despite that article's claim that Penn State is "still in it", Penn State is not still in it:
"It went OK," Pryor said of the meeting [with JoePa]. "I just don't know about the area up there. I don't know if I'd like being in that kind of area."
In traditionally effusive recruit-speak this is the equivalent of "AAAAARGH WHY IS HE EATING MY BRAINS NO NO NO NO".)
Two. Though Ray Reitz -- Pryor's coach -- is confused I think he debunked yesterday's report of an Ohio State lead:
"I think he [JoePa, again] had a real good talk with Terrelle," Reitz said. "I don't really know what's going on. I understand it was on some kind of Web site that Ohio State's coach said that they've already got Terrelle locked up. I hear they're saying that, but that's news to Terrelle and everybody else though.
"The visit went very well. I thought (Terrelle) was impressed with the meeting."
(Via RUTS, which isn't giving up the Pryor ghost just yet. For some reason.)
Three. Eleven Warriors:
Look, the kid obviously loves the limelight, but there's a growing chorus of Buckeye and Wolverine fans that are wondering if maybe their schools may be better off without Pryor. What's your take?
My take is that the only reason this Wolverine fan chorus exists is because 1) it's looked like we aren't going to get Pryor and 2) some of the people who post on message boards are astoundingly dumb. Also I'm all like "wow, this negativity seems a lot like the negativity previously mentioned under subsection 1) and is not at all like the WOOO SUCKIT kind of attitude I've seen previously around Buckeye parts and this makes me happy."
Four. BJ Daniels, reportedly wary of ending up at the same place Pryor does, told Scout that was not the case, and the Detroit News told the world:
"Well, he is the No. 1 quarterback in the nation, (and) I think I'm the No. 8 as far as dual-threat quarterbacks are concerned," said Daniels, who is expected to meet with Rodriguez today before he heads to Ann Arbor. "Competition does not scare me at all, whether I'm playing football, basketball or even checkers. Competition is not something I'm worried about.
"But (Pryor) does play a bit of a factor. If he ends up going (to Michigan), good for him. If I end up going there, it won't matter. His decision won't affect what I do."
Daniels' coach from the Free Press:
There's speculation that Daniels might wait to see where Pryor goes before declaring his intentions, but Rice doesn't think so.
"B.J. has great confidence in his ability and respects everybody, but he feels like he can come in and certainly compete with anybody for the job -- the No. 1 kid in the country or whatever," Rice said.
This is not really about Pryor, I guess, but it's good. Michigan needs two, maybe even three quarterbacks in this class and Daniels seems like the best non-Pryor option available.
Also: Black Shoe Diaries has an awesome transcript of the JoePa-Pryor meeting.
As expected, SC CB JT Floyd has committed to Michigan. Informative update coming.
Hopefully Informative Update: Rodriguez is pursuing an inordinate number of WR/DB/RB tweener. Floyd is one of these; though most project him on the defensive side of the ball he was a two-way star at JL Mann High this year:
Floyd, who has committed to the University of Tennessee ("soft verbal," he said during the season), is playing wide receiver and returning kickoffs and punts for the North.
As a senior, he caught 50 passes for 811 yards and 11 touchdowns. He also scored on a punt return and a fumble return.
Floyd appears to be a middling recruit. Other schools in pursuit were Tennessee (obviously), South Carolina, North Carolina, NC State, and Maryland. Though the junior-year offer from Tennessee is impressive, Floyd did not draw interest from any other major programs. Floyd was picked for an annual North-South SC All Star game but was passed over for some sort of "Shrine" game.
Guru ratings are pretty consistent. Lemming rated him the #19 safety, just ahead of MSU commitment Charles Burrell, in October. ESPN gives him a meh 74 and has different ideas than most about his preferred spot on the field:
Floyd is a two-way standout at safety and wide receiver, but the more you watch him on defense, the more you think he may end up at wide receiver. He is athletic and rangy but not really a devastating player in the middle of the field. On offense however, he makes a lot of plays and is one of the more surehanded guys we have seen in this class.
The rest of his $ profile makes him sound like a less physical Jason Avant; there are repeated references to his lack of elite speed and his reliability/excellent hands/clutchosity. Everyone else projects Floyd in the secondary. Rivals gives him three stars and ranks him #20 in South Carolina. Scout also gives him three stars and dubs him the country's #74 safety.
While you can argue that Floyd's early commit to Tennessee removed him from guru radar screens and depressed his ranking, the schools after him, the All-Star snub, and the universal "meh" ratings suggest otherwise. Floyd is a middling recruit who's 50-50 to contribute. He's a good pickup in this transitional situation -- Michigan is scrambling to fill 25 slots with few prospects left on the board --but isn't likely to be a star.
Whoops. This article from July about Floyd's commitment to UT has one awesome passage:
When asked about how committed he was, Floyd almost provided the answer UT fans are looking for.
"This is definitely, probably, the best place for me," Floyd said. "I love the facilities and the way the coaches interact with the players. It's like a big family. Nobody's above anybody. You're just one of the guys. That's something that I like."
Woooo for sentence-invalidating asides.
Slightly under the weather, in case you're muttering to yourself about content/timing thereof.
Editorial Opinion: Not a lot of movement yet, but soon. JT Floyd and Terrence Robinson should be announcing sometime before Signing Day; both are expected to pick Michigan. Then there will be a whole host of guys deciding (or, at least, announcing their decisions) on Signing Day itself. Will be interesting.
Witherspoon is solid once again; Fitzgerald, though, now has some wobble:
A lot has changed during the last five months for the Wolverines, and, according to multiple sources, the West Windsor-Plainsboro South standout linebacker is considering making a switch to Rutgers.
"Rutgers was in it until the end," Fitzgerald said at his September press conference. "Coach (Greg) Schiano has been great the whole time. My recruiting coach, (Robert) Jackson, has been great. I felt real comfortable at Rutgers and I could have easily gone there."
Fitzgerald made an official to Rutgers last weekend. Rodriguez has been in frequent contact and Fitzgerald's supposed to be coming in for an unofficial this weekend. If that unofficial comes off, that seems like a last check to make sure that he's going to the right place. IMO, the chances he goes elsewhere are slim, but that's based on nothing more than a reading of tea leaves.
And then the Pryor thing. He's down to M and OSU semi-officially now -- he didn't take any of those trips to distant lands -- and his QB coach says OSU leads:
"A lot of things are telling me Ohio State," Hall said. "That's my gut feeling. In San Antonio, I was there and everyone he chose to hang out with were the kids from Ohio State and their parents."
This is the first year I've really followed recruiting much, so maybe this is an old issue. But, what is the deal with Charlie Batch serving as a "recruiting mentor" to Pryor? Granted, it seems like a great idea - had anyone beyond a few local DIIIs had any interest in me in high school, I'll bet such a mentor would have been a godsend. That said, is it legal? Is he a sort of "agent"? I'd be suspicious if I were the NCAA, unless of course this was something approved fifteen years ago that I've never heard of.
Batch's involvement with Pryor is totally on the up-and-up. This comes up in hockey all the time, as most of the top prospects have "family advisors" that are basically agents without the contracts. As long as the prospect doesn't sign with the agent in question (or take eligibility-crushing gifts/payments from him, cough cough Reggie Bush cough), the NCAA can't really do anything. Each recruit is allowed to bring one other person with him on an official visit and get that person's airfare/other stuff paid for; Batch is occupying that slot for Pryor.
Of course... the Batch thing is pretty weird in another way. Pryor has two parents, neither of whom he lives with, and the ol' live-in godparent. None of these people are going on Pryor's trips with him -- though now it seems that the only trip Pryor will go on with Batch is the M one, so "trips" is something of a misnomer.
Speaking of that Pryor guy...
Let me get this out of the way upfront - I am a die-hard OSU fan. Also, let me make it clear I am not writing to say 'ZOMG ED MARTIN.' In fact, for the purposes of this email, let's assume Pryor did take a Corvette/gifts/money from an OSU booster.
I am writing more about your presentation of the situation. You have sources, you stand by them, and are right more often than not. Thinking about the Lloyd Carr situation, you were famously referred to as 'not exactly a rock of journalistic credibility', when in fact, that's exactly what you were. You called it before anyone else that I know of. And wrote a long post about how you were right, and did the right thing. (It's not a rumor.)
My point is this; you of all people should know that blogs struggle to be taken seriously in this day and age as a real news source, yet people like us do use them as a source for news. When you write something like the Carr article, backed up with sources and stick to your guns, you give blogs credibility.
When you write something like the Pryor piece...you fall back into what the New York Times and every other major outlet sees when they see the word 'blog'. Innuendo about Pryor - which could be far more damaging to his career than your leaking Carr's retirement was to his - is out of line. Have sources (and for God's sake, not a Scout article). Back it up. Be the 'rock of journalistic credibilty' that you claim to want to be. OR be a blog like Perez Hilton.
But you can't have it both ways.
Thank you for a great site, and wherever pryor goes, I wish him the best. Especially when he's tooling around Columbus in a sweet '99 Corvette that I'm not sure he can even fit in. (kidding - I have no inside sources...)
Perez Hilton? Ouch.
Ben has some salient points, and many OSU fans have emailed to suggest that the infamous Sarniak meeting could have been to warn him off some potential eligibility-compromising behavior and not an opportunity to sit around twirling their mustaches and laugh evilly about their diabolical plot to abduct poor innocent Terrelle Pryor. There's nothing here approaching proof of anything except questionable choice in tuxedos.
Am I a bitter Michigan fan spinning fantasies about OSU to make myself feel better when Pryor commits to OSU? Well, yeah, sorta. Except for the "fantasies" part. OSU fans will no doubt disagree but from this perspective it looks like there are three iron-clad cases of Ohio State boosters flouting NCAA regulations in just the last few years. As any hacky features writer knows, three is a trend.
It's terribly frustrating to see that trend get established and for OSU to catch nothing from the NCAA, especially when Michigan's basketball program was pretty much obliterated for the same see-no-evil approach to people outside the program providing extra benefits.
As far as Pryor goes... well, there is a lot of evidently weird stuff going on. The quotes from his coach are unusual. Bringing Batch in is weird. His living situation is weird. His relationship with Sarniak is weird. Sarniak's brief cameo in that Scout article is weird. And the rumors flying around are crazy. It's worth commenting on, isn't it? I guess you can be upset that I'm implicating OSU in potential wrongdoing, but I hope I've made clear that it's only one guy's opinion and that guy has no pretense of being a neutral party. Thus the trim colors, you know.
One more extremely useful item:
Brian,The Corvette in the picture you posted is at best a 2004 model (C5). All of the 2005 and later models (C6) have a sleeker body design and standard headlights (the older models had the flip-up lights). So if I am TP, unless I am into "vintage" Corvettes from 2004, I would be offended by someone giving/loaning me a Corvette--as a bribe or not--that was not a current model or a classic from the 60's. FWIW, a used 2004 Corvette with a soft top (as it appears) would probably Blue Book for about $35,000, slightly less than $60,000 you'd have to drop for a brand new 2008 convertible.Regards,Erik
He's offended! He's coming to Michigan! Word.
Given that we have about 7-9 unused scholarships right now, what's your opinion on how to use them? Let's assume we only fill 3-4 of them with guys that Michigan normally recruits. Would you sign some lower level talent to fill the spots or save those spots for next year?
My guess is that if you can target a position of need (LB, OL, S) you take a flyer on some guys and see if Rodriguez and Barwis can turn them into something. How would YOU handle this recruiting class in the final two weeks? I'm particularly interested in QB. I REALLY hope we sign someone other than Pryor and don't bank our entire QB situation on Threat and the hope of Pryor. We should do whatever we can to lock up one of these two FL quarterbacks or get a JUCO or something. I'm worried that there isn't enough talk out there about us targeting other QB.
If the staff can find a guy who they believe has a chance to contribute, they should take him. Brandent Englemon was a two-star afterthought Michigan yoinked from Kentucky on signing day who turned into a solid player and multi-year starter. You don't bank scholarships just to bank them.
But does Rodriguez have guys in mind who would jump at the late offer? I don't know. He and the staff are beating the bushes for uncommitted guys who he thinks can help out, turning up two-star running backs from Mississippi and small-school quarterbacks in Florida. I expect we'll find a few more names emerge in this last week before signing day, but a 25-man class looks unlikely. That's fine. 23 or 24 and an open scholarship isn't going to kill Michigan.
One odd item: if the chances of getting to 25 are so remote, what is the deal with Michigan's lukewarm pursuit of commit Christian Wilson? Even if he's not an ideal fit with the spread he's a four star athlete who at least has a shot at being a Big Ten level performer. He has a better than zero percent chance of being a contributor; if he decommits Michigan is likely to replace him with nobody. Weird.
Re: QBs. As noted, Michigan is pursuing BJ Daniels and Justin Feagin from Florida and seems in good position for both. Both have a couple of meh schools as their other finalists a
nd then big flashing offers from a Michigan program with a gaping void at QB. There is no way one doesn't take a shot at it.
I don't know what will happen with Pryor, and neither do either of Michgian's QB targets, but the situation with both is this: Michigan can take silent commitments from them with the understanding they might choose to sign elsewhere should Pryor commit, and the silent commits can rest assured the likes of Memphis and Syracuse and USF and Rutgers are not going to turn them down for a lack of room on signing day. I kind of expect both to end up at Michigan if Pryor does not. The temptation of the job is just too great.
The last mailbag had a bit on Scott Shafer's run defense and the possible distorting effects of lots of sacks. A reader points out one stellar performance that can't be put on the pass rush:
Quick note from a WMU alum about the impact of sack yardage on Western's 06 rush defense. I think you are correct in noting that WMUs pass rush was a significant element in their final NCAA ranking. I would note that Western turned in a few games where you could infer that Shafer schemed well against the run. The best example being their win over Northern Illinois.Holding Garrett Wolfe to 25 yards on 18 carries isn't a small feat.
No, especially since that was the year he was a fringe Heisman candidate. Wolfe led the country with 1,928 rushing yards.