chance of bowl: 13.6%
WTKA was granted access to a Michigan practice and had interviews with Carr, Henne, and Ron English. Items of note:
- Carr confirmed that the shotgun had been implemented and would be utilized this year.
- Avery Horn has been impressive and may be the fastest guy on the team.
- You can take this whichever way you'd like, but Henne claimed Hart had been pulling away from Michigan defensive backs in practice. Either Hart is running around with a rocket pack strapped to his back our our secondary is going to be Spartan-esque this year. I choose to believe neither, given that the one thing our secondary does have without question is speed. Sears, Trent, and Brown are all reputed to be lightning quick, which is not something that's easy to screw up. Either he runs fast or he does not. Hart does not, they do. I call shenanigans.
- English, unprompted, called out Johnny Sears as a guy who's made great strides and has had a really good fall. Please be true. He also likes Will Johnson lots.
- DeBord said watch out for Mike Massey. Um.
Poll poll poll! I post this in the spirit of extreme flexibility. This is an off the cuff poll that I will refine over the next week with help from commenters and other bloggers. So I'll skip commenting on the fairly obvious USC #1, Michigan top five stuff and focus on things that may or may not be outliers.
POTENTIALLY WAY OVERRATED
- #2 Oklahoma. One: believe in the Demarco Murray hype; return virtually everyone. Have very hyped recruits set to go. Still have no quarterback, might not need one.
- #7 Arkansas. Shouldn't this be a better offense than it was a year ago? McFadden, Jones, Monk, and Casey Dick return. Ben Cleveland is a promising tight end. If they get any semblance of a quarterback, yikes. I am leery of only two returning offensive line starters and the departure of Chris Houston and Jamaal Anderson, but five of seven starters return to the front seven and the secondary is moving a lot of people around but has a number of folks who started games last year. Yeah, yeah, Arkansas is a maelstrom of controversy and insanity and could implode at any moment but if there's anyone out there who can ride this wave of pork crazy, it's Houston Nutt. His internal monlogue is a David Lynch movie. He can do it.
- Penn State/Ohio State/Wisconsin. This knot of Big Ten teams seems close to indistinguishable to me. I think they're all a couple notches too high, but who goes in front of them?
- #13 Oregon. I read the Blue Ribbon preview of them and was terrified. Because Blue Ribbon is on crack, though, they predicted something like 6-6. Again. They imploded last year, Dennis Dixon played baseball this summer, and they've been stuck in neutral for the last few years. But Jonathan Stewart, and Dixon is a senior now, and many returning receivers. On defense they've got a guy with way, way too many vowels in his name (Donald Faaeteete) who picked up 5.5 TFLs in a half season of starting as a DT. Their horrible run defense last year could be chalked up to a slew of injuries; their horrible pass defense probably had something to do with the starting corners being freshmen. This seems like a place to buy Oregon low.
- #14 Appalachian State. What? This is reasonable placement.
POTENTIALLY WAY UNDERRATED
- #14 Florida? Nine starters gone on defense and a new quarterback, no apparent running game and worrisome Percy Harvin tendinitis has me skeptical. But both Zook and Meyer have recruited very well. Maybe this is an overreaction to the nine doofi coaches who ranked them #1?
- Unranked Georgia. I am highly dubious about Matt Stafford's ability to develop behind Georgia's patchwork, JUCO-laden and just preposterously thin offensive line. They also got red flagged by B&B's Charles Rogers theorem, which isn't good. Georgia's season-ending surge was built by games against Brandon Cox, Reggie Ball, and Sean Glennon. More ominously:
Georgia returns two starters on the offensive line and have a true freshman penciled in at left tackle. That couldn't be a problem against Derrick Harvey or Quentin Groves, could it? On the defensive line, Georgia returns one starter. Its projected starters at defensive end are a junior college transfer and a senior who has never started before.
Sell. Sell sell sell.
Note: on second thought I should excise Iowa with a vengeance, as they're dead to me after last season's performance -- I ranked them #2 preseason.
Cover. Hey... I know that guy.
Curse-fretters fret not, as Hart is one of five tailbacks marked for death on regionalized preview coveres. He only picked up a 20% dose.
Seriously? Can we go like a week without something stupid happening? This time it's FnDC:
Two University of Michigan football players are accused of attacking a man at Touchdown Cafe in Ann Arbor last March, causing injuries so severe the victim required facial surgery.
Quintin Patilla, 19, was bound over on a misdemeanor aggravated assault charge at the conclusion of his preliminary hearing in Washtenaw County District Court on Wednesday, said Ann Arbor Police Detective Amy Ellinger.
His teammate, Robert Thornbladh, 20, faces a felony charge of assault with intent to commit great bodily harm, along with misdemeanor assault charges. He is scheduled to appear in court for a pre-trial hearing later this month.
Thornbladh is a walkon and highly likely to be a former walkon; also we now know why Patilla was off the roster at the start of fall camp. A felony charge was filed against Patilla and dismissed for a lack of evidence; there's apparently a videotape of the incident which Thornbladh's lawyer hopes will exonerate him of the felony charge.
Carlos Brown: less broken. Brown's coach posts as "Dawgs824" on Rivals from time to time. This is his take on his former player's injury:
Just talked to his mom... Reply
She said they bolted the bone back in place (between the index finger and wrist) and it shouldn't take long to heal. He will only miss the rest of this week in practice. He will practice next week. They think he should be ready game one. As I'm sure you know, those small bones in the hand heal up pretty quick. Any other position would be fine, but he has been getting a lot of work in the return game so hopefully it will heal up quick.
I doubt they risk anything against Appalachian State, but he should be ready to go for Oregon/ND/etc. This does mean that someone else is probably going to start the year as the returner.
Buckeyes more broken? Buckeye Commentary returns from a near-death experience to report on a slew of injuries both minor and undefined:
We are a solid two weeks into fall practice and the injury bug is starting to surface. By now, you all probably know about Ray Small twisting his ankle. On top of that Curtis Terry was carted off the field the other day (HT: BuckeyePlanet), the day after The Dispatch ran a nice piece declaring him injury-free. Jinx! Elsewhere, so many folks are talking about injuries to OL Kyle Mitchum and Jon Skinner that I'm not even going to find links. I believe it to be true. Even the franchise, Beanie Wells, came down with a stinger during a recent Hoot 'n Holler drill.
Unlikely any of these last until November. BC also accuses Mike Hart of being "good but overrated" in response to a campaign by moi that attempts to label James Laurinaitis the same. Points:
- Hart is not widely acclaimed the best player at his position in the country, nor did he pick up a shiny award for being the best linebacker in all the land when he wasn't even the second best linebacker in the conference.
- Hart's 4.9 YPC was depressed by Michigan's extreme run bias last year.
This is my boomstick. Basketball on the Big Ten Network:
If you want to see 61 percent of the Big Ten's men's basketball conference games, you're going to need the Big Ten Network to do it.
According to the schedule released Tuesday by the Big Ten office, 64 of the league's 99 conference games will be on the Big Ten Network.
Also contractually obligated to be televised: all home nonconference games not picked up by other networks. Illinois will have half its games on the BTN; Indiana 10-13 plus nonconference; Purdue similar; Michigan State similar. Buy into your local Torch & Pitchfork Co. now before the winter stock spike.
Oh, man, don't say that. Michigan's #5 in ESPN's opening Power 16. The analysis is probably not interesting to anyone dedicated enough to read this blog, but this quote is awesome:
"[Hart] put his life and his career in my hands," Long says. "It's an honor to know that he has that much confidence in me."
Here's the money, and the phone.
Please, Dude, follow whatever
instructions they give.
Her life is in your hands.
Oh, man, don't say that..
Mr. Lebowski asked me to repeat that:
Her life is in your hands.
Her life is in your hands, Dude.
I hate the Detroit News' web designer. So Eric Lacey has a blog and posts interesting things on it. Like this about a potential walkon who is looking at a MAC offer or two or an opportunity in Ann Arbor:
"I knew about coach Beilein for a while and liked what I was hearing," Person said. "Then I just fell in love with him even more at the team camp."
If Person comes to UM, he says he would most likely come on an academic scholarship and then work his way toward getting a regular basketball scholarship.
What makes this situation interesting - if he decides to go to the school - is that he could get up 75 percent of his college tuition payed for at a state public institution through the Kalamazoo Promise plan that's received plenty of media attention within the past year or so.
There's more, but I can't link to it because the Detroit News' "Big Ten" blog has no permalinks. Nor does it have an RSS feed, so the only time I stop by is when someone links to it on a message board. It's incredible that a major metro newspaper can't install Wordpress on their site -- a change that would take a web developer approximately a day -- and has to make due with HTML better suited for "I Love the 90s, Netscape Mosaic Edition". Grumble grumble. Anyway, Lacey also mentions another young black man used up and discarded by the Michigan football program in a post on this coming "All-American Football League"":
Horn told me Tuesday that [Carl] Tabb is currently in medical school.
Incidentally, The AAFL has signed a deal to have a team at Ford Field; Lacey's blog notes that Tabb and Tai Streets(!) are potential players for the team.
Etc.: Rocky Top Talk has an interesting post on the differences between the 4-3 and the 3-4.
I figured this would happen. In the comments to "Destroy Harbaugh" there first came a pebble:
No mention of the 38% stat, I see. Because lets be honest, it doesn't matter what major you are if you don't actually graduate.
And then another...
Etc. These claims invariably come from Notre Dame fans. What can I say? Their obsession with Michigan knows no bounds. They even harass innocent bloggers who don't even cover their team.
This is the sort of criticism that only the truly deranged could come up with. While Michigan has spent most of the past decade fighting a protracted court battle against anti-affirmative-action groups, eventually winning and sort of losing at the same time, and has vowed to do everything in its power to keep the undergraduate population representative in the wake of Proposal 2's passage last fall. Michigan's administration had a deep-seated and continuing freakout over losing the ability to consider an applicant's race when it comes to admissions. In January they said race would still be a part of the application but that admissions officers could be trusted to ignore that information. The university stepped up its outreach and recruitment efforts so much that applications actually went up five percent:
According to preliminary admissions data, a total of 2,460 underrepresented minorities had applied to the University by the beginning of February - a 5 percent increase from the same point last year.
The increase in applicants may have been due to the fact that Proposal 2 was looming. Students at Cass Technical High School in Detroit said that before the initiative passed, University admissions officers encouraged them to apply as early as possible because it would be harder to get in if Proposal 2 was approved.
"Admissions officers came to our school and told us to apply early," said Cass Tech senior Dwayne Riley, who has already enrolled at the University for next year.
Admissions officers visited Cass Tech - a major feeder school for underrepresented minorities who attend the University - frequently throughout the fall.
Ashley Grant, also a senior at Cass, said the University's image may have even improved since Proposal 2 passed.
"I definitely don't think Proposal 2 hurt Michigan's image," said Grant, who is still waiting to find out whether she's been admitted to the University. "If anything, I think it made the school look a lot better because it was trying to do everything in its power to admit as many students of color as possible."
Meanwhile, Notre Dame admits virtually no black students. A minuscule 3.6% of the undergraduate population is black, and the only reason it's that high is because of varsity athletics. One third of the black males on campus have letter jackets. A third! Without varsity athletes there would be 102 black undergraduate males at Notre Dame, 2.4% of the male student body. If you had a scavenger hunt on the Notre Dame campus, "black undergraduate male" would be tough. I don't mean to imply any racism on the part of the administration or school itself; far more likely is that an expensive Catholic school in South Bend, Indiana doesn't appeal to black students very much. (Its appeal to others remains a mystery.) As a private Catholic school their admissions policies are their prerogative. But it's clear that Notre Dame doesn't really care to change that perception or the composition of their student body.
So to be subject to a constant fusillade of racial criticism from fans of this school that suffers less than four percent of its student body to be black is amazing and infuriating, because the implication is always that Michigan is a racist institution that doesn't care about graduating people who aren't white. One school bends over backwards to help black students be the first in their family to go to college; the other virtually ignores them unless they can help out their sports teams... and it's Michigan that's criticized?
But it is leveled time and again, so it may as well be addressed.
1. 38% is a fictional number. I don't know where it came from or if it was a low ebb or what, but at the very least it's not current. The most recent NCAA data:
Three numbers, none of which are 38%, though one
is uncomfortably close to it. Which do we use? Well, 99-00 is just one class and the 4-class and GSR rates encompass a large number of athletes so we should prefer them. And the difference between 4-class and GSR or "Graduation Success Rate" is that the GSR removes "permissible exceptions" like religious missions or, um, death as well as players who transfer out of the program in good academic standing. It's more accurate, as it doesn't punish Michigan for losing a guy like Cobrani Mixon. That number: 50%. Obviously this is not ideal, but let's at least talk about a real number.
2. It is hard to graduate black men.
I'm not going to speculate on the reasons for this, but Michigan -- a school that we've seen wants to do everything in their power to get black kids on campus, and presumably graduate them -- only gave degrees to 61% of the black males it admitted over the four-year span in which our 50% number applies. This is a nationwide phenomenon:
Troubling, but not a symptom of wanton disregard from the university.
So it's not surprising that a group of black males with lower GPA and test scores than the general population, which already graduates at a lower rate than any other group, have an even tougher time getting out of college with a degree. Especially what with that full time job on the side. Of course, is that degree as valuable to varsity athletes?
3. Graduation is not a priority for many of Michigan's black athletes.
Some leave early: Woodson, Terrell, Branch, Shantee Orr, etc. Others, like Lamarr Woodley and David Harris, stay four years but are clearly going high in the NFL draft. They may not graduate because they choose to spend their final semester preparing for their chosen (and extremely lucrative) career instead of picking up a cosmetic diploma. This is clearly a larger effect for black players than white players. Despite an approximately 50-50 split between white and black players on Michigan's team, two-thirds of the draftees in the past ten years have been black.
And because whites are disproportionately concentrated on the offensive and defensive lines, tight end, linebacker, and quarterback -- all positions that tend to see redshirts a plenty -- they get a critical fifth year in the program much more often than black players do. An excellent comment (<-- also where the above referenced draft stat comes from) from Jim Carty's blog breaks down the details:
Of those drafted, % who were in school 5 years (really 4 and 1/2 since the guys preparing for the draft do not go to school second semester of their 5th year):
Black: 29% (9/31)
White: 87.5% (14/16)
Michigan's graduation rate for black males in school for four years hovers around 42%. (The 61% is the five-year graduation rate, from appearances.) Again I would like to stress that this is an outlier in no way whatsoever; this is a nationwide phenomenon.
This is only a subset of the total number of athletes, but it's a significant subset. Mike DeSimone shows 200 players signed in the previous decade, four of whom never got to campus and shouldn't be counted. Approximately half of them were black; approximately 31% percent of Michigan's black players ended up in the NFL over the past decade. This is a significant drag on their graduation rates, as a 1996 paper by Lawrence DeBrock, Wallace Hendricks, and Roger Koenker demonstrates. In it, they do a sophisticated statistical analysis of a set of variables. Their findings: when controlling for other factors, average GPA and SAT scores were not indicators of likely graduation or not, but four of the five professional success metrics were highly negatively correlated with graduation rates for an obvious reason: the acquisition of a degree is not as economically significant.
In each of our structural equations, our measure of the value of a degree from the institution had a strong positive impact on the graduation rate of scholarship athletes. This result was robust for all specifications, sports, and genders. In addition, we found evidence that the alternative economic opportunity of professional sports plays a significant role in the decision of scholarship athletes to stay in school. In both of the sports that had professional leagues, the opportunity to play in these leagues had a significant impact on graduation rates. In the case of women's basketball, where no such opportunities exist, those athletes who we predict would normally leave school early for this career are more likely to stay in school.
Alternative labor market opportunities are very real for this segment of the student body. These opportunities have significant impacts on graduation rates in football as well as men's basketball. The athlete's choice of a college is certainly driven by how the particular school will influence future financial returns; this is the same for nonathletes. The difference is that for athletes, this income stream is not as contingent on graduation as it is for other students. The strong implication is that movements to mandate graduation rates are misguided.
The market forces that lead some schools to have lower graduation rates among the student-athletes will continue to cause many students to rationally leave school early. Just as it is impossible to attempt to impose cross-institution equalization of graduation rates for the overall population of students, restrictions on graduation rates of scholarship athletes across campuses would be equally inefficient. While there is some informational content to raw graduation rates, it is considerably smaller than either the U.S. Congress or the media seem to believe.
Ironically, graduation rates are depressed because Michigan's elite football players are no fools: they have little use for a degree, at least not within the narrow five year band in which graduation rates are declared and discarded.
To paraphrase Kanye West, does Michigan care about black people?
You can't just add 50% and 31% to get a healthy 81% of Michigan's black players who end up either with a degree or in the NFL, as there's undoubtedly some overlap... but it probably isn't much given early departures, the prevalence of four-and-out NFL draftees, and the powerful economic disincentive provided by the potential of an NFL career -- Michigan will always be there, but your NFL combine comes but once a lifetime. Even if the overlap is quite large, Michigan's athlete success rate climbs above its non-athlete success rate. Peg it at around 50% of NFL players and Michigan athletes are at 65%, above the 61% of your typical student. That's estimating conservatively. Add in previous studies indicating that athletes are generally better off than non-athletes after graduation even without the pro sports option and it's clear that Michigan has little to apologize for. The goal here is not necessarily to rubber stamp some diploma. It's to provide these players a foundation from which they can live their life. Michigan does that by all accounts save one man who's got an obvious ulterior motive.
Is there room for improvem
Yes. Michigan makes an awful lot of money off these guys and owes them more than a typical student, who provides only tuition. Unless Michigan starts handing out degrees like candy the graduation rate is not likely to exceed 70-ish percent even in optimal cases. Ideally, everyone in the program is either degree-bearing or in the NFL minus a certain number of washouts that will happen naturally. Without a radical change in the philosophy of the university, 65% is a point the U should aim for an attempt to reach in the next few years.
What about Notre Dame?
This is about Notre Dame since it is always Notre Dame fans that bring this up, probably because they're about the only school that's appreciably better at handing kids degrees than Michigan is amongst national powers. Oh, and since they haven't won a bowl game in nearly 15 years. Or been among the top 25 programs in the last decade. Or finished with fewer than the three losses they deride Lloyd Carr for accumulating since 1993. When you can't talk about results on the field, talk about results off of it.
Anyway, according to the latest numbers ND has a GSR of 90%. Great! Good for you. But please realize that once you get into Notre Dame it is nearly impossible to not get a degree. One of eight Michigan undergraduates fails to graduate; that number at Notre Dame is one in 20. You can explain this gap any number of different ways, from the culture -- or lack thereof -- at Notre Dame to an Ivy League-like refusal to not pass people. I don't know which it is, but don't try to tell me that a school that recruits Tony Rice and Robert Blanton (810 SAT!) and the like but still graduates virtually everyone is particularly strict. Call this the Aaron Taylor Theory: if Aaron Taylor holds a degree from your university, chances are a sizable number of six-year-olds could also manage said feat.
Postscript. I'm tired of talking about this, but there is no one in the media who's willing to look at this any deeper than the surface level. Those that try, like Jim Carty, have put their muckraker hats on and are just digging for dirt without any consideration of complicated things like economics or common sense. Carty's perpetual assertion that it's way sketchy to have 60% of your declared majors in a particular program -- not an actual major -- which spans the entirely of LS&A but totally un-sketchy to have 60% of your declared players in only four majors, like Stanford does, is Carty at his worst. He did this "why won't Michigan answer my questions" junk after the Year of Infinite Pain, too. It's a common rhetorical device: assume Michigan's desire to avoid someone clearly looking to paint the university in a poor light is a virtual admission of guilt.
It's clear why Michigan is not going to talk about the subject: the last time they did they got an ill-considered Pat Forde article down their throat and Carty complaining about "silence." Since the media can't be trusted to do anything except rub their nonexistent goatees and try to impress chicks with their deep concern for Serious Issues instead of actually taking a point of view that's something other than willfully naive, they have no incentive to actually talk. In the end, the answer to "why won't Michigan talk to Jim Carty?" is "because he's Jim Carty."
Now: on to actual football. I have said my piece. I would appreciate it if commenters would link this whenever some daft Notre Dame fan runs into the comments and accuses Michigan of being the Josef Mengele of universities; nothing more on this topic will be published. Probably.
Clarification: Yesterday I told people wishing to enter the BlogPoll that they should contact me, but I was not entirely clear. The BlogPoll is a college football poll much like the AP or Coaches polls (except, like, thousands of times better) voted on by college football bloggers. You have to have a blog. Sorry for the confusion.
Noooooo, my precious piÃ±atas. Every once in a while -- usually when it's slow -- I come across something that reduces me to a gibbering rage machine. When this happens the result is usually something like "Matt Hayes looks like a horse" or "Stewart Mandel wants to sexytime Troy Smith" or "Tom Dienhart should be tasered and locked far away from the internet." These are not productive, per se. They do not advance the general understanding of football. And Peter Bean's got a point when he winces at them:
I sometimes cringe these days at some of the more inflammatory posts in the blogosphere these days - at least the ones which purport to be criticisms of mainstream media.
Mainstream media criticism is an important part of what a lot of sports blogs do these days, but I really do wonder whether it does anyone any good to write that ESPN "licks monkey balls" or something like that. Unfortunately, that's more the norm than the exception.
I think the next big step for sports bloggers will be to maintain their edge and personalities but to get over the little guy complex that seems to motivate so many to lash out angrily at the big kids in the park.
Sometimes even I wince at the nasty things I write even before I publish them. But once the red mist has lifted it's like 1:30 and I've got this screed and my blog has seven mouths and no bottom so up it goes. So, yeah, I see where he's coming from. But but but... someone randomly linked an old post of mine in the comments at EDSBS and I went back and read it. "Litmus Lloyd" deals with the odd response to the mild opprobrium Carr offered Urban Meyer in the wake of the BCS fiasco:
I just think that based on some of the comments the Florida coach has made in the last two weeks, he has been campaigning strenuously for a berth in the championship game and making some statements about Michigan that I think were inappropriate. That certainly is going to stir a controversy, and who knows what that's going to lead to.
Mandel made this into something else indeed:
I wasn't particularly thrilled with either coach's approach, and I think the whole exchange marked a particularly ugly moment for the BCS. ... [Stuff criticizing Meyer snipped]
All that said, I thought Carr's response to Meyer went completely overboard. Never once during the final two weeks of the season did Meyer say anything derogatory about the Wolverines. He never even said his team was better than Carr's. All he said was that Michigan had its shot at Ohio State and that he felt his team had earned the right to get its shot at the Buckeyes. So don't give me this "Carr took the high road" nonsense.
This was totally wrong. Meyer:
Should the Wolverines upset the Buckeyes in a rematch, Meyer would not consider Michigan the champions.
"Absolutely (there would be no national champion)," he said. "If I'm Ohio State, I go get a bunch of rings and say, 'We won the national championship.' That's not right."
And I read this over again and just.... ooooohhh. Mandel had no idea what the coaches were saying in the biggest story of the year. WTF. This is a highly visible national columnist who has no idea what's going on.
See, the thing is: there are no Ivan Maisel rip jobs floating out there. No one's fisking Bruce Feldman or Pat Forde (at least not on a regular basis; exceptions made for credulously following Jim Harbaugh around on a leash) every time they publish something. The guys who really get it on a regular basis -- Mike Freeman, Dennis Dodd, Mandel, maybe a few others -- deserve it. They aren't getting heat out of some little guy persecution complex (which I do think is responsible for 90% of the Simmons complaining), they're getting heat because they suck so badly that college football would be covered better if they evaporated and were not replaced. They get more stuff wrong than right, constantly use the most banal shtick available to lend their opinions weight without actually doing any of that research stuff, and permanently implant memes into your rival's fans that will never go away despite their total lack of validity. Who looks worse: the blogosphere for caterwauling about it or the actual employers of these guys? I dunno. I feel that every time someone points out that Stuart Mandel never writes anything worthwhile is an opportunity for someone with some power to read it, agree, and send him to prep volleyball.
Hey, I'm with Peter: blogs versus MSM is tired. I don't have a problem with beatwriters or even most columnists. But I do have a problem with wastes of time and space and think they're worth a pillory or two every once in a while, if only because one of these days Mandel's head will split and tootsie roll pops will come spilling forth.
Beilein out on the town. Fluffy video from a Detroit charity basketball thing featuring Beilein and Duke's coach:
No big deal, but he's certainly more visible than Amaker ever was.
SMQB considers the Brennan. He asks "How good is Colt Brennan?" He concludes "not amazingly" after checking out the stats he put up against actual teams, of which he faced three:
More than anything, Brennan is a product of his environment and its benefits, namely a week-in, week-out dose of the crappiest defenses the Bowl Subdivision has to offer.
Why SMQB didn't come to this conclusion months ago when he voted Brennan the second best player in all the land and helped contribute to his totally unjustifiable victory in the inaugural MaxwellPundit we'll never know. What we did know at the end of the year: certain players were very good indeed against other players who were quite good themselves. You knew Darren McFadden and Reggie Nelson and Calvin Johnson and Alan Branch were amongst the best football players in the college ranks last year; all one knew about Brennan is that he was an improved version of Timmy Chang who is way better than the very worst defenses in I-A, which means we knew nothing.
If only SMQB had come to this epiphany in time and dumped Kliff Kingsbury 2006 off his ballot, the eminently deserving and completely awesome Reggie Nelson would have won, Sports Illustrated would have collapsed, and blogs would have overrun the mainstream media, triumphant. Or something like that.
This is a long way of saying that I don't care what Brennan does against this schedule...
Northern Colorado: I-AA (1-10 last year as "re-classifying/provisional" from Div.
Louisiana Tech: 118 [<---pass efficiency D] UNLV: 113
Charleston Southern: I-AA (68th; allowed 300-plus yards to Wingate and Coastal Carolina)
Utah State: 119
San Jose State: 67
New Mexico State: 111
Fresno State: 107
Boise State: 30
...I ain't voting for him for anything, not even "Best Brennan," as there's no way he can prove as much as a dozen players around the country who will face actual competition and excel against it. Brennan's victory last year was so dumb it made me weep. Mandel could have done that! We did something that Mandel could have done. Fie on us if we allow it to happen again.
Well, yeah. Kirk Bohls has an on-point column about the whole Texas-Big Ten thing, though I'd like to see this report:
Texas was immediately rushed to the forefront as the prime object of the Big Ten's affections, even though there wasn't a single credible source behind it. One circulated report hinted that it was a 95-percent certainty the Longhorns would be swapping leagues.
Um... circulated where? I hate blind leads like that. A circulated report hints there's a 95 percent chance Jim Tressel is an alien from Trafalmadore. A circulated report suggests there's a 95 percent chance monkeys are made from rubber bands. Etc. Anyway, it tells everyone what we already knew -- no Texas -- suggests Missouri, and is generally reasonable aside from that. Note of particular interest to Michigan fans:
"We're happy," DeLoss Dodds says.
The athletic director says Texas hasn't even been able to persuade Michigan to schedule it in a home-and-home series. And frankly, Texas would never think about bolting to the Big Ten because of the excessive rigors such a move would place on its athletes and fans.
I wish we could make this happen, especially in like 2009 or 2010 when Mallett and McGuffie and maybe Stonum are Michigan's new era Hart-Henne-Manningham. Chances of that: zero. Sigh.
(Someone else's) mailbag! The Game addresses that traffic stop from earlier in this year:
So I remember hearing at the beginning of the summer that there was a random traffic stop in Michigan that apparently had Mr. Manningham in the car along with what was suspected to be prescription drugs and maybe marijuana. Did anything ever come of this? I remember most of that story was pure speculation but didn't some local news station report that the drugs were Mario's but not in his possession? Was Mario not in the car afterall? Is this still under investigation?
The incident Matt is talking about is linked here. As you can see in the somewhat vague write-up, Manningham's name isn't listed, nor are any of the players'. That's because names were never put on police reports, nor were formal charges ever filed. At the time, I spoke with an athletic department spokesperson, who assured me that charges had not been filed and that I'd be notified if they were. There were some reports in blogs (I don't think any actual newspapers speculated it was Manningham, though a few newspaper personalities may have hinted Manningham's involvement on local sports television shows), but nothing has come from it.
Whether I think Manningham was actually involved in this incident would be strictly my opinion and I don't think it matters. I don't know if he was in the car, and speculating further would blow things out of proportion â€” kind of like what happened in May when the story was first reported. To my knowledge, the case is essentially closed.
So that's good. Nothing came of the stop, but since I was the guy who said it was Manningham I feel I should defend myself. A few days before the incident became public knowledge with the publication of an article in a local newspaper, I received a tip from someone stating details confirmed by that article -- three guys, football players, traffic stop in Monroe county, some drug suspicion -- that named Manningham as one of the players. Even though this seemed totally credible I didn't want to just run with it in case it was an elaborate hoax; a friend and I spent a couple hours calling the various law enforcement branches of Monroe County attempting to verify. We could not, so I sat on it until the publication of said article proved the source's validity beyond a shadow of a doubt; thus the post from which that impression was gleaned.
This blog does deal in rumor, as internet rumors have proven to be highly accurate predictors of future events, but those things are always denoted as such and when I come out and break something -- these posts are tagged "actual news" -- it's because I have multiple sources or one proven source indicating the same thing. My credibility is critical for this endeavor, and I want to make it clear that I do not run around printing stuff without good reason. End unnecessarily paranoid self-defense.
(Side note: MGoBlog welcomes all tips, no matter how peripheral or totally unusable due to salacious content, and the proprietor thinks well of the tipsters during his nightly prayers. Email address can be found on the left sidebar near the top, or: firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Etc: MVictors points out a rip job from the husband of Michigan academic support honcho Shari Acho -- often approvingly cited as a major factor in impressing recruits' parents -- that is way over the line. I mean... I called Harbaugh a name or two, but... wow.
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The first poll: the 22nd. The intervening week: discussion of over- and under-rated teams and (perhaps hopefully maybe) some shifting in Preseason Poll #2, to be released the 29th. Gird thyselves. Prepare for the Pollening!