"It's not about last year or who's here or who's isn't here," says your head coach. "It's about getting out here and competing and seeing who is here, and that's where we're gonna go."
It might suck, though. Michigan Sports Center has been scouring Internet message boards for information on NCAA 09 and reports back with some problems:
To incorporate "wide open gameplay," the defenses in NCAA 09 reportedly have been incredibly dumbed down. By this, I mean that it is far too hard to play defense when lining up against the computer. When you are on defense, most people have reported that the opposing computer quarterback are way too accurate. The norm is only five or so incompletions a game according to some, and that is only because of dropped passes. On top of that, the computer's offensive line supposedly is way too dominant, even against the best teams in the game. With an extremely accurate QB and barely any pass rush, the results aren't good.
There are also widespread difficulties with editing the rosters (which I couldn't care less about, especially since you can download a whole roster for free from inside the EA Locker). Bill Abner's continued to post impressions at his blog and remains pleased -- "if I had to return the game and then decide whether or not to buy it, I'd be in line just like the rest of you, forking over my $60 and change" -- despite some annoyances; I trust him over some of the inveterate whiners that populate video game message boards. (Not that they don't have a point, but sometimes it's a bit much.) Abner does futz with the sliders excessively, so the issues above may be real on All American with default sliders but obviated if you're willing to tweak.
Law and Toomer. In the Thursday post rebutting Michael Rosenberg's column on Rich Rodriguez, I made passing reference to the distance between former Michigan stars Ty Law and Amani Toomer and Lloyd Carr. A couple folks have asked for background. Law left for the NFL after his junior year when his family filed for bankruptcy, and Carr did not take it well:
"He didn't care for me leaving, and I wasn't welcomed back for a while," said Law of Carr, who was Michigan's defensive coordinator but replaced Gary Moeller as head coach for what would have been Law's senior season.
Law says Carr "actually told me -- and that's what I feed on until this day -- that I would never see the third round. And that kind of hurt me. I know I thought I was one of the better players here on the team."
The animosity lingers; see the sidebar of that Page 2 article for further detail.
Toomer's issues with Carr are vaguer but just as real:
Did you hear from any of your former U-M teammates or Lloyd Carr after the win? No. The last time I heard a word from Lloyd was when I was playing in a (Michigan) game; it was my last play of my senior year. I caught a touchdown from Brian Griese, and I was walking off the field and Lloyd looks at me, looks at Griese, looks at me again, and goes, "Good throw, Brian." And that's the last thing he ever said in my direction.
Did you have a good relationship with Carr while at U-M? I thought we did, but I guess we didn't. So I don't know. I wasn't too upset to see the whole regime change.
Le Dominator is French for The Dominator. Pacioretty hype from Montreal's prospect camp continues to come fast and furious:
While Trevor Timmins, the Canadiens' director of recruitment, was reluctant to talk about individual players, he did venture the opinion that Pacioretty is "head and shoulders" above his peers.
... et chaque ...
Take this to the bank, people: Max Pacioretty will be with the big club when the 2009-'10 season begins. And he's going to be a good one.
But where will he be playing this fall? Probably Yost:
Pacioretty has played one season at the University of Michigan. It's unlikely he'll stay there for a full four years, but he is expected to return in September.
Knock on wood and all that. If he does return, plan on it being a Jack-Johnson-like victory lap, hopefully one just as freakin' awesome as JMFJ's senior year.
Cross is boss. Wolverine Historian has compiled the 2001 Illinois game, a comprehensive beating applied with some panache. I had totally forgotten what I think were back-to-back trick plays that got Michigan its first touchdown, and Todd Howard is subject to the most spectacular facemask penalty I've ever seen. In full:
Another day, another jab. The Ann Arbor News takes the opportunity presented by the "Rodriquez" settlement to launch another broadside at the athletic department. This was my favorite part:
Michigan used to be unique amid a national trend that's seen programs at other schools become less about student athletes and much more about the money that marquee sports can generate.
This isn't just orthogonally wrong, it's the exact opposite of right. The first sentence in Don Canham's Wikipedia article is "he became nationally-renowned for his ability to market and sell products bearing the name or logo of the school." Canham himself:
The only thing I did know was that were going to draw a hell of a lot more people than we ever did. Up until then, schools did not advertise. I almost got fired when I flew a helicopter advertising Michigan football over the World Series (in Detroit) in 1968. That was considered undignified. We ran ads in magazines and all the Detroit suburban newspapers. Our big gimmick was that we mailed ticket applications - that first year we mailed 400,000 ticket applications and sold coffee cups and things like that. We paid for the ads with the coffee cups. The premiums we came up with paid for it all.
The only thing unique about Michigan's place in the college football money grab was its status as first-mover. The rest of it is a complaint seemingly from another universe: Michigan's athletic department leadership has "little if any accountability or openness." The dastardly bastards in charge finished third in the Director's Cup, saw all their teams easily clear the NCAA's APR hurdles, and ran a massive surplus doing it. They must be held accountable!
By any reasonable standard the Michigan athletic department is one of the best in the country. It supports a massive number of student-athletes, does extraordinarily well in sports across the board, and does so without draining a dime from the university's general fund. Since the Ed Martin affair over a decade ago there hasn't been even the barest hint of NCAA problems. For this it gets harsher coverage from its local media than any program in the country.* I'm not asking for mindless homerism, but how about a shred of perspective?
The Ann Arbor News lists the phone numbers and email addresses for Martin, Coleman, and the Regents, exhorting you to "send a message." I suggest you send a different message to an organization that evidently has no interest in covering Michigan fairly by calling 734-994-6989. That message: "cancel my subscription."
*(I assume. No one else has been the target of a week-long investigative series that turned up virtually nothing, right? Washington might have a case given the Seattle Times' recent exhumation of the Neuheisel era at UW, but that actually seemed targeted at UCLA. If the Columbus Dispatch tried this they'd be under seige. Probably literally.)
Etc.: The NYT preview of Michigan approvingly references MGoBlog but contains some glaring errors ("Michigan did not land one quarterback recruit in the 2008 class"); Jim Brandstatter snaps back at Rosenberg; Michigan favored by seven against Utah.
It comes down to this.
Creator: Jason Minor
Round One: 90% of the vote
Round Two: 91% of the vote
Round Three: 80% of the vote
Note that we've got a new banner from Jason Minor.
Round One: 95% of the vote
Round Two: 81% of the vote
Round Three: 68% of the vote
I'm not as horrified as most probably will be, as I quite like the numbering and don't mind the shoulder piping, but I can't imagine the little side stripe as anything but ugly. Full gallery here.
Update: The official site has the jerseys up and the side striping seems a lot less prominent, FWIW.
Update 7/14: Linked to articles on MS S Dennis Thames (we lead), FL S Mike Jones (we probably lead), OK CB David Gordon (fighting for third), VA OL Morgan Moses, VA DE Will Hill, IN OL Zach Martin, IN OL Kyle Koehne, (latter two from Big House Blog). Linked to recruiting podcast from Sam Webb on VA QB Kevin Newsome.
Added NC OL Travis Bond.
Removed FL CB Brandon McGee (dropped us), TN WR Marlon Brown (dropped us, but what an article title), OK CB David Gordon.
Editorial Opinion: Board lives here.
VA QB commit Kevin Newsome did not visit Virginia Tech this weekend; Michigan fans can officially lower their personal decommitment DEFCONs as they feel is appropriate. Mine is at 4: slightly bothered. I missed this before Friday's post on the Newsome situation, but GBW's Sam Webb took the rumors to task on WTKA. Here's a paraphrase of part of it:
You have a family that feels beat down by the process and the media in the process. Every year, you have many recruits that don't make it a common practice to take calls from the media or the recruiting services on a continuous basis. The Newsomes are one of them.
They choose not to speak up on a subject that in their minds is already resolved. He said he is going to Michigan. Haven't said he is not going to Michigan. Why do we have to respond every time something comes up? That's been their take.
I don't quite buy it -- the best way to silence speculation about a potential decommit is to say "he is going to Michigan," not "no comment:" -- but Webb, who is very good at getting in with recruits and their families, was ahead of the Virginia papers that are fueling the speculation. Later in the segment he declared that Kevin Newsome would not be going to the VT camp, period. This turned out to be correct.
Newsome is still a bit wobbly, but if he hasn't decommited by the time he ends up at Hargrave chances are he won't do so at all.
Meanwhile, IN OL Zach Martin's scheduled visit to Michigan did not come off. Instead, Martin went to... uh... Notre Dame. That's obviously not ideal, but Martin has rescheduled the Michigan visit for two weeks hence and will decide in the immediate aftermath of it. Optimism still reigns; it's a little dimmed.
Meanwhiel, another IN OL, Kyle Kohene , is considering four schools and will probably decide in the next month and a half:
The 6-6, 285-pound Koehne has narrowed his choices to Boston College, Florida, Michigan and Michigan State.
"It's been a little more intense than I thought it would be," said Koehne, rated as a three-star recruit by rivals.com. "I've enjoyed it, but I'd like to have it done before the season."
Safeties and such. MS S Dennis Thames' visit to Michigan went pretty well:
"They sounded like nice coaches, good coaches to be around," Dennis said while seated in front of his uncle's locker, dressed in Tigers baseball pants and hat before batting practice. "Michigan would be my No. 1 right now. They've come at me the most and recruited me."
Good news -- Thames is a four-star and Rival's #218 prospect at the moment -- but let's see what happens after he's been back home for a bit. Michigan leading after the visit was necessary but not sufficient; "Michigan would be my #1" is also not the strongest statement. Optimism here is tentative.
Allen Wallace has an article up on Edgewater (former home of Greg Mathews) FL S Mike Jones :
Jones recently visited both Michigan and Notre Dame and admits he's always been a fan of the Wolverines. "I love Michigan," he said. "They have like 110,000 fans come to their games. It's a big tradition school and I like that.
"I also like coach Rich Rodriguez and like the new faster-pace offense he's gonna run," Jones said. "I think it'll be good for them."
Jones is being recruited by Wolverines quarterbacks coach Rod Smith . "He's always writing me letters and really wants me to go to Michigan," he said. "He says that I'd be a perfect fit for them and that they need guys like me."
There's a similar amount of praise for Notre Dame, previously announced as co-leader with Michigan. Notre Dame hasn't offered, though. His other major offers are from Auburn and USF.
Etc.: VA OL Morgan Moses is a long way from narrowing things down but Michigan appears to be on the periphery. We were dropped by TN WR Marlon Brown, which is no surprise; I just want to point out Allen Wallace's awesome article title: "THE ULTIMATE DECISION FACTOR." Marlon Brown's recruitment is like a Japanese game show; I hope he ends it by declaring he will attend the school whose head coach endures a series of physical challenges the best. The finale: honey is smeared on each participant's chest. A box is placed on the honey, and rat is placed in the box. Rocks are attached to their bodies via rubber bands. Then little Dutch children are hired to grab the rocks and run away from the participants until the rock flies out of their hands and physics takes over. (Yes, I have actually seen this transpire, and it was every bit as wonderful as you imagine.)
...or, at least, the time to try to join the BlogPoll is now. If you've got a college football blog with posts a plenty and a track record stretching back unto the dawn of time -- 2007 -- please email me to be considered. You can read this on the "Join" page, or you can read it here...
These are the requirements for entrance:
Be a sports blog with a focus on college football.
90% of your posts should be about sports and you should have college football content every week. It's okay if you're, say, a regional sports blog with a focus on a few teams as long as one of the teams you cover regularly is a college football team. Deadspin or The Big Lead... not so much. Those blogs acknowledge college football's existence, they don't focus on it.
Post regularly for at least six months.
No exceptions. What's regular? Three or four posts a week of actual content. What's actual content? Something other than brief links to items.
Have some technorati authority or a readership.
If no one is reading your blog or linking to it by the end of six months, chances are you're not one of the top 50-100 college football blogs, and the poll will not grow beyond those numbers, ever. If you've got ten or so comments on every post or some incoming links or you can point to some Sitemeter numbers that indicate you get triple-digit hits, that will suffice.
(Note: this requirement is much laxer for non-BCS blogs, since the potential audience for a Fresno State blog or a Navy blog is smaller.)
Don't be crowded out.
Do you cover Georgia or Michigan? Uh... you're going to have a tough time getting in because those schools have a huge, thriving constellation of blogs and the poll has a strict cap on the number of blogs representing a particular school. You'll have to hope one of the current members goes "blip."
If your blog meets all those requirements it will be considered for entry. A lot of factors go into each individual decision, as by this point the poll just can't accept every qualified blog. We're trying to find dedicated voters with excellent blogs who are geographically distributed across the country. Sometimes it's a tricky balance, and sometimes we have to turn down a blog for reasons other than its quality. Apologies in advance if this turns out to be you.
And by "we" I mean "I", except I wouldn't say "I're on Newsome watch."
Hey, you: want to fret about a kid who won't play for Michigan for more than a year? Sure you do. VA QB commitment -- sorta -- Kevin Newsome has a choice this weekend. Virginia Tech is having its final summer camp. They'd like Newsome to show up:
But the big question is whether Kevin Newsome will attend the camp.
The former Western Branch star, headed to Hargrave Military Academy for his senior season, has committed to Michigan. But his former coach, Lew Johnston, said recently that Tech coaches are still hotly pursuing Newsome and were hoping he'd come to this weekend's camp.
Kevin Newsome Sr. said this week that his younger son, 2010 defensive end Keevon, plans to make the camp. He said didn't know about Kevin.
"Didn't know about Kevin" is about as reassuring as the "no comment" provided earlier. You're probably a slightly normal person and won't be on your computer Sunday night trying to figure out if Newsome actually showed up at this accursed thing; Monday Recruitin' will inform as appropriate.
Also: Josh Helmholdt's suddenly prolific column at the Free Press notes that IN OL Zach Martin an VA DE Will Hill will be in this weekend. Both have offers; Martin is a four-star OT with offers from Notre Dame and most of the Big Ten; Hill is a three-star strongside defensive end.