a terrible blight on our fine country
Indeterminate issue. RSS subscribers may have noticed the disappearance of the daily mgo.licio.us linkdump. This is an issue on Feedburner's end and I can't do anything about it until they fix it. Sorry. I assume it will magically resume working at some point in the near future.
Also, while I'm talking about site stuff: the twitter feed is usually just a repackaged RSS feed, but I've wanted to make it more newsy, too. One manifestation of this: on signing day I'll be twittering news as it comes in.
Pre-emptive bombing. Signing day approacheth, so it's time for Dr. Saturday to do yet more research on the accuracy of recruiting rankings in a futile attempt to forestall those annoying columns from cranky newspapermen declaring that "recruiting rankings don't matter because Utah," to paraphrase DocSat. As per usual, the finding is that they're somewhere between useless and gospel. They are worth paying attention to but not worth pulling your hair out over, as the following table suggests:
That's a breakdown of 332 games between BCS opponents organized by gaps in overall recruiting rankings. It's flat until you get to 400+ points per year, which may sound like a big gap but isn't really: current #1 LSU has about 2500 points this year, which puts them about 400 points in front of #6 North Carolina. North Carolina, in turn, is about 400 points in front of #12 Oklahoma. That's at the bottom end of the range where recruiting ratings really start to get separation, but even if you increase it to 700 points—the midrange—we're talking about the gap between #7 M and #22 Mississippi State.
I'd like to see these things take things like opportunity costs and attrition into better account, as raw numbers indicate the SEC is washing out 50% more recruits than the Big Ten is, which leads to inflated recruiting rankings just because they've got more d00ds in their base.
Kampfer stuff. Red has (reluctantly, I'm sure) addressed the issue:
It all comes down to intent. Sometimes it's not what you do, it's why you do it. Or what it appears to be. I think this was the issue. This was not a pre-meditated thing, but it was an instant reaction, and it was ... too serious to overlook. You can't just say drawing blood. I mean, I hate to tell you this, but I put a kid's eye out one time by lifting a stick. And he wasn't expecting it, I lifted it too high, he lost an eye, and it was an accident. Everybody felt terrible. But, boy, when you swing your stick at someone's head intentionally, when he's down, someone that hasn't even done anything ... Anyway, I don't think we need to revisit it, but that was a serious incident. Very serious, and the kid will never do that again.
There's considerably more from him in the above-linked article; the other item that jumped out was a response to the question "Has the CCHA issued a warning for the next time the teams play?" Red said "they don't have to," basically, and continued:
We're not carrying anything over, and personally, I don't think Michigan State will be carrying anything over. So if we do play them in a game, I don't think you'll see anything. ... I don't think there's any real serious animosity. I mean, Kampfer's gotta just accept that it was a bad deal, the players have been punished, let's move on.
As for moving on, eh, the attempt is being made. The Ann Arbor police are "investigating" the incident—which seems like a 30-second process consisting entirely of watching the video, but whatever. Kampfer didn't skate yesterday; he's expected to give it a go today.
Game on, I assume. Ohio State has cancelled classes for a reason other than "it's Wednesday again": there's a big damn ice storm in town. There's been no indication this will affect tonight's basketball game (6:30, BTN), but it may seriously depress attendance, for whatever small benefit that might provide. Previews are up at UMHoops and Varsity Blue; Ohio State is favored by six.
Livin' on the edge. I'm having a hard time figuring out whether Tajh Boyd's commitment to Clemson is a good or bad thing. Ohio State was the other major contender and the Buckeye depth chart outside of Terrelle Pryor currently reads: 26-year-old walk-on and former baseball player Joe Bauserman. That's it. If Pryor gets injured or shoots a dog or something, it's freak-out time.
On the other hand, Michigan and Ohio State are battling for 2010 MI QB Devin Gardner, and depth charts and all that.
Etc.: Mock Rock is on February 3rd this year. Prepare your cringing-from-afar muscles.
I was back visiting Michigan last weekend, and I was able to catch the hockey game on Saturday against Miami (of Ohio). I haven't seen any hockey games this season since I'm at a grad school where hockey doesn't exist. I was wondering about the addition of a second referee on the ice. My friend pointed that out to me at the beginning of the game, and I asked him if he felt more calls were made this season since there is another pair or eyes on the ice. He said that it didn't seem so, and someone around me said that it may actually make the game flow better(!?). Well, that didn't seem to happen as Michigan ended up with like 11 penalties.
So I was wondering if you could drag up the penalty minutes from the last couple of seasons and compare them to this season so far, and see if the extra ref has significantly impacted the number of calls or has changed the game somehow.
Via collegehockeystats.net, per-team penalty minutes per game the last three years:
|Year Before That||19.01|
Survey says… eh, not so much. While teams are taking most of an extra penalty a game this year the numbers are actually down from the two years previous. Of course, the NCAA's overreaction to the Robbie Bina hit, which led to virtually any hit along the boards being an automatic major for a year, and their intermittent obstruction crackdowns play a role in the numbers. The moral of the story appears to be "do not expect remotely consistent enforcement," which isn't surprising to anyone familiar with the travails of college hockey refereeing.
Recently, Sports Illustrated had a series of articles on recruiting and how Florida is a gold mine for D1 recruits. In one of those articles, Jimbo Fisher had this to say about recruiting:
Florida State's Fisher doesn't deny that he offers a chilly warning to southern skill-position players thinking of crossing the Mason-Dixon line. "I don't know if we ever said, 'You'll freeze.' But the landscape of playing, especially if you're a skill guy, is not as conducive as it is in The South," Fisher said. "The weather can prohibit you from using all your skills at times and prevent you from getting the numbers and recognition and things you want. I think it is a significant difference."
I have been a big fan of Rich Rod since the Clemson days and thought he was a top 5 coach in the country at WV. I even picked them to win the National Championship in 2007. Good ole' Wannstache…
During Rich Rod's top years at WV (05-07), I remember a few late season games where the Mountaineers couldn't hold on to the football and it cost them. I had a feeling that this was attributed to his recruits being from the Deep South and not being accustomed to playing in cold weather conditions. And then this year Odoms couldn't hold on to the ball for his life during that nasty NW game. So after Jimbo's quote, I thought that there may be some serious truth to this argument.
So I went back and looked at the stats from WV's 2007 November games (I didn't look up game time temperature but they were all November games in cold weather locations including three night games) and found that WV had put the ball on the ground 13 times in those four games while losing 8. Twice (including the infamous Pitt game that most likely led to our hire of Rich Rod instead of Les Miles) they had 5 fumbles, losing 3.
Would you review the games from 2005-2007 and see if there is any correlation between the late season colder temperatures and putting the ball on the ground. With RR ravaging Florida for recruits and Michigan being a colder place than WV, I am worried that this could be an issue for us in late season games.
First: the Jimbo Fisher stuff is just talk. If you can play, you can play. Even if it's cold. The parade of Michigan receivers in the pros (Toomer, Alexander, Edwards, Avant, Breaston, Streets, uh… Terrell nevermind) in recent years suggests that Fisher's statement is more snake oil than anything. The NFL will find your ass if you can play football.
As far as the fumble theory, it's going to be extremely tough to prove either way. We don't know how cold was for all these games. We're looking at extremely random events in just a few games. Statistical significance laughs at us from afar. But here you go:
No, wait, sorry. I tried, but the NCAA doesn't have the relevant 2005 games' boxscores up. Sorry. I did find that in 2006 WVU had 8 fumbles in 4 (possibly) cold weather games, but four of those game in a game against Cincinnati during which the Bearcats also fumbled four times so I dunno, maybe they didn't kill the ball properly and it was running around squealing all night or something.
Does this help your troubled heart any?
That's West Virginia's turnover margin in the last three years of the Rodriguez era, when Pat White was the quarterback and WVU was goooooood. Even when WVU coughed up the ball 15 times in 2007 they were still top-10 in TO margin because they ran so much and had so few interceptions.
I think people are attempting to come up for an explanation for last year's epic, defiant-Pharaoh-style plague of fumbles when the most likely explanation is that there just isn't one. It was mostly randomness combined with youth and poor talent level at certain positions like tackle and quarterback. There is no grand pattern of Rodriguez teams coughing up the ball a ton. In fact, the numbers above suggest the opposite*.
*(Although, again, TOs are rare and even the seemingly wow numbers above are by no means definitive.)
Tropp and Conboy are gone, at least for now:
EAST LANSING -- Michigan State hockey players Andrew Conboy and Corey Tropp are no longer on the team after their violent actions in Saturday's game at Michigan, MSU coach Rick Comley said Tuesday.
"It was a tough decision, but the right decision," Comley said. "I don't think the kids are bad kids. I don't think (their actions) were premeditated."
It sounds like Comley booted them for the year but left the door open to a return; the article says Conboy "had the option to stay in school and talk about Comley about a potential return to the team." Tropp "might be allowed to return" if he stays in school. Conboy's decided to go according to the article, and his facebook now shows his school as Illinois-Chicago. Tropp's status is still undetermined.
This is the right move, and now that it's been made I hope everyone involved can move on. I'm sure both players are remorseful and will, like Todd Bertuzzi, bear a mark for the rest of their careers. That and never seeing them play Michigan again are enough for me. Comley and the State program handled it the right way, and hopefully the rivalry can settle back down to an acceptably intense level.
One more time to the well. This Kampfer thing appears to be over, and I'm still pissed and you should be too. In all likelihood, Steve Kampfer is going to have to skate against the two guys who did this to him next year. Those games are going to be kegs of gunpowder, and Kampfer is going to cringe any time he turns his back. Michigan-Michigan State games for the foreseeable future are going to be reffed into oblivion and still be ugly hack-fests.
Allowing those two to return significantly increases the chances of a second ugly incident in the future. The CCHA failed to meet the bare minimum level of acceptability: lifetime bans against Michigan for both players. The punishment doesn't impact the program or the player in any significant way. We'll all get to see the reward next year. As simply as possible: an incident like this should have repercussions that last longer than the last third of an already-lost season.
As for the two main "blame Michigan!" memes floating out there:
- There's a reason swearing exists, and it's for moments like Saturday. Look: I don't do the penalty box cheer because Red asked everyone not to, and whenever a "F ND" or "F the Buckeyes" chant gets started at any Michigan sporting event I want to find the gel-haired New Jersey frat boys responsible for that travesty and put them back on the boat to Guidoville. Swearing like that is a substitute for being clever, and I hate it.
But the FYS cheer on Saturday was the right emotion at the right time, A ringing loud expression of contempt and disgust was the appropriate reaction. Sometimes "fuck you" is the only appropriate sentiment.
- No, Steve Kampfer's dad shouldn't have "handled it better" or whatever. If you think this, you are probably a robot. Check for a dipstick in your back.
Mendacious, brah. Coming in a distant second to the actions on the ice in repulsiveness has been the reaction of Michigan State's various media organs.
- The official site's mendacious game recap mentions the assault as something spurred by Chris Summers' goal.
- Some necklace-wearing, short-bus-riding, thin-letter-receiving State News knob says "everyone's to blame," which instead of linking to I'll just point at the one two three Michigan blogs that have already taken him apart.
- Even the State News' editorial on the situation, which comes down pretty hard, attempts to paint Kampfer's clean open-ice check as "charging," which like it wasn't. (It also says "U-M hockey fans are known for scripting some of the most brutal and pointed chants in college sports"—which, like, is that a compliment?)
- And multiple people have reported in that some guy on Lansing radio kept focusing on that bad word from above, calling for continuous bench minors to be called on Michigan until it stops.
All of this is "yes… but" stuff. There is no "but" here.
And… okay. With that, I'm done until there's more news to talk about. I've said my bit three or four times now. Yost Built has an extensive recap of everything if you missed anything; the Daily has some more quotes from Kampfer himself.
Something about hockey but not that. The NHL has provided an $8.5 million developmental grant to USA hockey for the first time, which USA hockey will use to beef up the USHL and the NTDP, train referees (free bananas!), and implement some sort of hyper-elite AAA program. WCH has the details. I'm most interested in getting the USHL up to par with the CHL—and by PPG conversion measures the USHL either isn't far off or is right there—so that potential college hockey players aren't tempted to defect for developmental reasons.
Martavious! An article on Florida recruit Nu'keese Richardson takes a Michigan-relevant diversion:
The Blue Devils decided Richardson was a better fit for receiver. Richardson disagreed. He thought about quitting. Then Martavious Odoms stepped in. Odoms, then a junior and now a Michigan Wolverine, spent the summer before the season working with Richardson, teaching him the position.
“Martavious can adjust to a football in the air better than anyone I have ever seen. Nu’Keese has adapted to that as well,” coach Thompson said. “It’s just amazing. You see the ball in the air and you think, ‘You know, how is he going to contort his body? How’s he going to adjust to the ball?’ And somehow, some way, he gets it.”
Odoms also introduced Richardson to the art of the “crack-back.” A crack-back occurs when a receiver charges toward the middle of the field and removes an unsuspecting linebacker from his cleats.
We saw hints of that this year on those wheel routes; I think once Odoms gets used to playing when his leetle body is cold we're going to see him perform very well. A lot of people are touting Gallon or Robinson in the slot, but Odoms is going to prove hard to displace.
GERG! MGoBlue quotes from new DC Greg Robinson's first press conference have been repackaged and placed into newspaper stories already, but whateva I do what I want. Items of note:
- Scheme agnosticism. "There will be times that we will use that style where we can kick down and use a four-man front and there will be times where we are going to look like a three-man front. It's really the utilization of people and trying to take advantage of their strengths."
- Gregism #1? Robinson was asked what his top priority was, given a laundry list of options, and responded: "I think it's all of those things." Greg Robinson's TOP PRIORITY: all things. Things that are not Greg Robinson's TOP PRIORITY: no things.
- I don't even know what this means. "I will be coaching players, and I don't plan to be walking around. I've done a little of that and I didn't like it. And I won't be walking. I will be running."
- Field or booth? "I will be on the field."
Robinson plans on coaching a position, BTW, but doesn't know which one.
Etc.: A bunch of aerial photos of the stadium construction.
"We feel that the measures taken by Michigan State are appropriate and consistent with the parameters of the sanctions that were being contemplated by the league," league commissioner Tom Anastos said in a news release.
It certainly sounds like the league is not inclined to levy any further punishment and next year Steve Kampfer is going to have to skate against the goons who knocked him unconscious and slashed him in the head. This is not a penalty. State's season is over. It was over the moment this assault occurred, guaranteeing a season sweep at the hands of Michigan and resigning State to last place in the CCHA. If this penalty is the only one levied, there will be no lasting impact to either the Michigan State program or the careers of Conboy and Tropp. The net penalty to the program and the players: NOTHING. Zero. This is cosmetic. It is not enough. It is not 10% of enough.
As a reminder:
At an absolute bare minimum of acceptability neither of these players can ever be suffered to play Michigan and Steve Kampfer again. If this is the only penalty levied the CCHA has basically abstained on serious repercussions.
Back on the Kampfer thing: we should set an expectation for punishments. I've obsessively read every comment on every message board and every article on the incident and it appears the general consensus is that both players should come in for heavy discipline but probably won't. Certainly Comley's immediate reaction in the aftermath is a step in that direction.
That's not acceptable. Any suspension that only covers games in the rest of Michigan State's lost season is a joke. State is 7-15-3 and in last place in the league. Their season is already over. Skipping a series of beatings from Alaska and Bowling Green and UNO is hardly punishment. On Sunday I said that both should be gone from the CCHA forever, and I still think that. Corey Tropp's lack of a past history means nothing when we're dealing with an incident of this severity. If he wants to play hockey he can try to find some other program willing to ice him or he can play in juniors somewhere. If he wants to stay at Michigan State he can do that. He can't do both. He's forfeited the privilege of playing in the CCHA; if he wants a second chance he's welcome to it somewhere else. Andrew Conboy's actions, while not quite as mortifying, are part of a pattern of misbehavior. He should also be gone.
This goes double because the NCAA has a ban on fighting. If you're going to maintain a ban on fighting you have to come down even harder on these incidents because players have a more limited ability to self-police. If college hockey is serious about protecting its players it must take action.
The CCHA has a choice here: either state unequivocally that these actions are totally unacceptable, or set the stage for an all-out brawl between Michigan and Michigan State next year. At the very least neither player should ever set foot on the ice against Michigan again, and I'll be dissatisfied with anything other than outright dismissal.
We should know the league's decision by Friday.
On the postgame incident. The Daily all but confirms the widespread internet rumor about the identity of the Michigan fan in the locker room:
The player ejected from yesterday's game — which, according to the box score, was Spartan forward Corey Tropp — was in the visitor's locker room and a 48-year-old man from Jackson, Mich. went in and confronted him.
"We had a parent come crashing into the locker room and fight my player," Michigan State coach Rick Comley told the State News.
Parent + Jackson, Michigan = Kampfer. As for the severity, let's just say it didn't warrant a trip to the hospital:
“I heard him tell the officer that he did grab Tropp by the jersey, and they were also holding each other and yelling at each other,” a person in the room during the questioning, who asked to remain anonymous because he was not authorized to speak to the press on the matter, said.
A Yost Built commenter says "I heard from a prominent michigan media member Saturday night, that Tropp will not press charges. If the DA is going to press charges then it is just serves to bring attention to the university." Take it FWIW, obviously.
He advised that Mark Mitera is doing very well and skating. Pearson offered this info up unsolicited, and said Mitera is “coming along very nicely. He looks great, he looks great. He’s probably a couple weeks away still..” Pearson added his return is a “real possibility”.
A couple weeks would put him on the ice for UNO series and give him nearly a full month on the ice before the playoffs roll around. Even if that projection is optimistic by two weeks, Mitera would still get a tuneup weekend against Ferris State before the CCHA playoffs… and he'd skate on senior night. He would, in all likelihood, be full-bore for the NCAA tourney.