i like 'em both
Good. Bad. He's the guy with the gun. Yes, Autumn Thunder is carving itself a niche in the Michigan blogosphere, and how:
Eagle-eyed! SI, busy cutting writers left and right, has replaced their traditional team preview with those provided by Athlon. And by God, Athlon is on top of things:
The secondary replace All-America cornerback Leon Hall, but veteran Morgan Trent is ready to step up and assume the role as Michigan's next great lock-down corner.
Hey, we all wish the last two games of 2006 didn't happen. Only Athlon dares to make it true. But my favorite part is the "outlook":
The Wolverines' season will likely come down to mid-November, when they battle Wisconsin in Madison before hosting Ohio State.
"My preference would be if we could schedule a home game at Paul Brown Stadium every year, we would do it," said UC athletic director Mike Thomas. "But it has to be against the right opponent."
Thomas said he has had discussions with Notre Dame, Tennessee and Michigan about playing at Paul Brown.
"I'm not going to sit here and tell you that that's going to happen," Thomas said, "but that ball is in their court."
Probably not going to happen without a two-for-one, which Cinci is trying to avoid:
"Two-for-ones are not our first option, obviously," Kelly said. "We want the one-for-one situation. We think it's befitting a BCS program and one that's in the Big East. We wanted a top-20, nationally recognizable program. Oklahoma, when you think about championships, they would be at the top of the list."
The Oklahoma series they lined up -- another one of these interesting nonconference games brokered by ESPN -- is a home-and-home. Meanwhile, Utah is geeked about the 2008 game. An interesting note or two:
Utah will receive a guarantee of $800,000, up from the $500,000 it received in 2002 to play at Michigan.
Michigan's stadium seats 107,501 fans, making it the largest college-owned stadium in the country. The game will be part of an ABC-ESPN national doubleheader.
National TV, much like the Vandy game, is the minor reward for scheduling someone marginally more interesting than your average MAC snackycake. So at least there's that. Also, I love that the prices these teams are charging continues to increase. Hopefully it gets to the point where it's economically preferable to play actual opponents.
Pictures and such. Media day was, um, Monday? Yesterday? Whatever. It happened. So did this:
File away for future reference. Interesting survey of current D-I players from SI.com. Bits of note:
3. Which coach besides your own would you most like to play for?
Pete Carroll, USC: 28.6%
Urban Meyer, Florida: 10.9%
Joe Paterno, Penn State: 10.2%
Bobby Bowden, Florida State: 8.4%
Steve Spurrier, South Carolina: 6.7%
Jeff Tedford, Cal: 3.4%
Bob Stoops, Oklahoma: 2.5%
Mack Brown, Texas: 2.5%
Nick Saban, Alabama: 2.5%
Others receiving votes: 19.3%
Declined to respond: 5.0%
Notes: Twenty of the 34 players who voted for Carroll also picked USC to win the national championship... Carroll received a vote from at least one player in every conference except for the Sun Belt... Despite his team's success of late, Ohio State coach Jim Tressel received only two votes... Notre Dame's Charlie Weis received two votes and Michigan's Lloyd Carr received one... Eight of the 13 votes Meyer received were from players from non-BCS schools... Despite the parameters of the question, one MAC player voted for the deceased Bo Schembechler and one C-USA player voted for former Miami coach Larry Coker, insisting he would be a head coach again soon.
Seriously... JoePa and Bowden? Really? I guess past accomplishments trump the whole eats-via-straw-or-unholy-ritual thing. Also: someone find that MAC player and give him a medal.
4. Would you like to see college football institute a playoff?
Just in case you get in a battle with a BCS advocate who invokes Save The Children.
5. How many hours per week do you spend on football-related activities?
50 or more: 15.1%
Notes: Players were asked to estimate their hours during the football season... Ninety-seven of the 119 players polled, or 81.5 percent, estimated that they spent at least 30 hours per week... Excluding two extreme outliers (512 hours and 12 hours), the average figure was 38.9... The average for BCS schools was slightly higher than their non-BCS counterparts, with BCS players averaging 39.4 and non-BCS averaging 38.4. ... A small handful of players mentioned their obligation to go to class as part of their "football-related" activities.
Quotable: Despite the anonymity granted by this survey, several players were worried about admitting to practicing more than 20 hours per week. Said one player, "What's the NCAA rule, 20? All right, I better say that." ... A Big 12 player, who estimated he spent between 40 and 50 hours per week on football-related activities during the season, lamented the long hours of a college football player: "Playing football at any major university is a lifestyle. I always make sure I'm eating right. I always make sure to get extra work in on my own. I go to class and the rest of the time I'm doing football stuff."
For the record, 7 times 24 is
184 168 (some record), so the wag above with his 512 hours was spending about three weeks every week playing football. Anyway: football is a full-time job.
8. Do you read message boards or blogs where fans discuss your team?
Quotable: "I read it if I want to have a good laugh," said one Big 12 player. "Don't get me wrong, I think it's great that they're showing their opinions, but at the end of the day, they don't know what's going on." ... Most players who responded "no" said the people who write on message boards or blogs do not know what they're talking about. Said one MAC player: "My grandma could guess the same thing."
Thanks, SI, for conflating two totally different things into one. I would remind you that you employ Stuart Mandel and therefore should be wary of quoting people saying things like "I read it if I want to have a good laugh."
. Dan Wetzel is usually on point, but, um....
Southern California, Louisiana State, Florida and Texas are ranked ahead of Michigan in the preseason coaches' poll. And for all anyone knows, each is a vastly superior team to the Wolverines.
But none have the schedule set up like Michigan. Among BCS teams, Texas might be close, but only West Virginia (ranked sixth) could argue they have a better path to an unbeaten season â€“ and a likely berth in the title game in New Orleans.
I disagree; circle gets the square. I know Oregon wasn't gangbusters last season and Notre Dame projects to suck hard, but those are two actual losable nonconference games. Texas' nonconference killers: Arkansas State, Central Florida, TCU, and Rice. Then you've got the Big 12, which has been a vastly top-heavy conference since KSU, CU, and Nebraska either imploded or took a significant step back. I don't think OU (neutral site), A&M (road), Nebraska (home) and KSU (home) is anywhere near OSU, Wisconsin (road), Penn State (home), and Purdue (home). Texas' schedule is nummy cake this year.
Hi. This is weird for me, as it is for you, I'm sure, but Bill Connors, who you may remember from such quotes as...
"It's a single-digit percentage who view [the BTN] as an absolute must-have. That's why the best landing place is on a sports tier."
"In our mind, all we care about is getting content that customers want, at the right price. They cannot say that 100 percent of customers want to be forced to watch the Big Ten Network."
...or someone at Comcast saw the Silverman interview and wanted to give their side of the story. So there was a second unexpected conversation with an oft-agitated executive during which I typed frantically.
A clarification is in order here: I don't know if you would really call this "journalism." These interviews didn't seem like standard ask-response-ask thing where the most cutting thing you can do is get in a really pertinent followup. They were conversations. Dialogues, if you will. And the resulting piece here is fair (I hope) but not neutral. I have opinions on these things and would like to offer them to you. As for sides... there are three sides in this conflict: The Big Ten, Comcast, and us. I'm with us. A general disclaimer then: I would like to get the Big Ten Network, personally, and get it on basic cable. I also wouldn't mind if it cost $1.10. I wouldn't mind if it cost more than ESPN, because the benefit to the athletic departments would mostly be coming out of the pockets of people who aren't me. So that's where I'm coming from.
SO THE BIG CONFLICT HERE is over placement and price. Mark Silverman, president of the Big Ten Network, said that if cable carriers in the footprint did not put the Big Ten Network in their expanded basic pacakge, they wouldn't be permitted to carry the channel at all, and that the cable networks had been unresponsive about that placement. Therefore there was hardly anything to discuss. Connors confirmed this position, albeit with a quaifier:
"Clearly, that's their public position on this. So it's been hard to make any progress in negotiations. They've been pretty adamant."
"Public": the qualifier, the little bit of snark that might send Jim Delany into apoplexy. Recursion: both sides accuse each other of posturing; both sides are right; accusations of posturing are also posturing.
One of the frustrations in this odd experience of talking with these guys for extended periods of time was getting them off their talking points and to delve into some specifics. Anyone who's seen a presidential debate knows the feeling of being talked sort of... at. This isn't a Comcast or BTN thing, it's a general dealing with the media (and, more generally, public perception) thing, where repetition is the holy grail of remembrance. Head On. Apply directly to the forehead. The conversations, both of them, often seemed circular as the (marginal) interviewee wrangled the conversation back around to their desired topics. Maybe this is old hat to grizzled press-hat wearing journos, but, um, not guilty.
ANYWAY, A FREQUENT TOPIC of discussion was that the Big Ten was the anti-fan party here, with their insistence on a basic tier and the removal of all this content that was in the public domain â€“ or at least the syndicated domain â€“ into its own proprietary network. Comcast launched Comcast Local, a marginal RSN with things like baseball, Olympic sports, MAC (and less appealing) football, and Michigan hockey (sadly, road games remain infrequent) a couple years ago, and the network feels a little peeved that the groundwork they laid has been rendered inert, or at least weakened, by the upstart:
"All the Olympic sports, guess who covered those before at zero burden to customers on Comcast Local? We've gotten notes from coaches that say 'thanks, this helps recruiting.' But not once have received any acknowledgement from the Big Ten office."
I kind of doubt that Comcast was doing this out of the kindness of their heart, but I've watched Comcast Local and its commercials and can't believe it was actually making any money.
When the BTN-mentioned Blazers network came up, Connors challenged the Big Ten to do what it was by permitting placement on a sports tier "if they want to compare themselves to other networks." This was a frequent theme: the Big Ten's demands were unreasonable and only served their own selfish purposes, which put Comcast in a tough position:
"That's the awkward part of this. Part of my job is to negotiate deals with emerging networks. What's unique about this is there hasn't been a network that's demanded to be on basic. An increasing number go to digital."
Connors insisted that if the sports tier was greenlighted by the Big Ten, things would be smooth sailing:
"I'll add that channel tomorrow if they give me the launch codes tomorrow. We'll put the fan first, as corny as that sounds."
Connors' focus on the Big Ten's threat to execute, essentially, a denial-of-service attack on their own fans is something I don't think anyone has lost sight of. Connors is correct when he derides the BTN an attempt to "take five million dollars worth of content and charge Comcast 300 million for it over five years," although that content's worth whatever people will pay for it.
But only the endearingly naÃ¯ve would expect anything else from either party. The Big Ten's leverage lies in that segment of the fanbase willing to either switch providers or get a sports tier in order to acquire the channel; just saying "okey-dokey" to placement there would be bringing a sword to a gunfight.
LET'S TALK NUMBERS. One of the more interesting avenues of discussion centered on one of the Big Ten Network's very favorite competitor/analog. We talked about CSS, the southern network that runs 40s in 4.2 and is on basic cable across a wide swath of SEC country. The Big Ten Network loves that as a comparable regional sports network that Comcast happens to own that coincidentally happens to get widespread distribution and has, at least on the surface, way less compelling content.
Facts About CSS:
- CSS does have live sports: about 46 football games and 180-some basketball games
- About 10% of the football games involve an SEC or ACC team (these are usually the Michigan-Appalachian State equivalents); 20-30% of the basketball games do. (Ditto, though sometimes they get higher quality contests if you think a Vanderbilt-Michigan game â€“ which a friend of mine saw on CSS once â€“ counts as higher quality. If it was Ellerbe-era, probably not.) The rest are from Conference USA or Sun Belt or the local D-I basketball-only
- CSS content is not necessarily exclusive; local syndication is possible. Generally the SEC and ACC games get distributed locally.
- CSS costs "less than 30 cents" per subscriber. I took this to mean "somewhere from 25 to 29 cents," as if it was less than 25 he probably would have said "less than 25 cents."
One thing that got the many-repetitions treatment: a primary reason CSS occupies its basic cable slot is its age:
"CSS was launched nine years ago. If that would have come out of the ground in 2007, there's no one who would say that should be on expanded basic. And it's something that might move to a digital tier at some point in the future."
"When CSS came out of the ground in 1998 we we're still trying to fill eighty channels."
Connors then said that he envisioned a future where
all sports channels migrate to their own tiers and the idea of a basic cable sports network evaporates. I didn't mention this in to Connors because it didn't occur to me at the time, but it's hard to swallow that when my current package has Versus â€“ not that I want it to go away, Vive le Tour â€“ Speed, and the Golf Network. Those seem clearly less relevant and important to people in the BTN footprint than the Big Ten Network.
So, yeah this line of argument didn't really fly with me. Clearly there are some regional sports networks that cable companies have acceded to on their basic tiers because of the importance of their content to carriers. Heck, when Fox bought DirectTV regional sports networks got a special arbitration process so Rupert Murdoch couldn't deny access to other content providers that wanted to carry this critical content. (Critical in an "important to the consuming public" fashion, not a "helps Darfur" fashion.) So it's a matter of deciding whether the BTN is closer to whatever your local carrier of MLB/NHL/NBA games is or to something like the NFL Network or NBA TV. It obviously exists in a gray area between the two. It's not a national item of intermittent interest like the latter; it's not a laser-focused must-have that would cause mass defections if it was not present.
The Big Ten Network misrepresented CSS to me, and I'm glad Connors clarified to me that the network was not the 1987 Iron Bowl repeating 24 hours a day, but I think Comcast tried to do the same thing. I had to wrangle the percentages of SEC/ACC teams featured out of Connors, as the original phrasing was something like "45 football games including SEC and ACC games," but... like...four or five? I made the point that a few SEC or ACC games interspersed among Conference USA and Sun Belt (boo!) games didn't make for a good comparison here; the Big Ten Network clearly has a more compelling programming lineup. So it was something of a shock to me when I asked for a clarification on what Comcast considered to be a non-burdensome price to consumers, and got this response:
"On aggregate, we value this channel at between 8 and 25 cents."
Yikes. I never really got a perspective on this number, though I tried. It seems preposterously low if it's meant to be a per-subscriber cost in the Big Ten footprint. I asked if that was an in-footprint number and got an assent; I still think that this is a miscommunication of some variety. I pressed on the CSS-BTN comparison, since it seems totally unreasonable to offer less for a network with much more interesting content, but this was clearly an uncomfortable part of the conversation and didn't get a rationale behind that beyond...
"The broader distribution makes the carrying costs lower. The only way for a channel to get widely distributed usually is if it proves itself."
...which did not explain the gap.
WHERE IS THIS HEADED? Connors did say that he was sure that there would be "expedited" negotiations over the next couple weeks where parties from both sides lock themselves in a room and fight to the death. Both Silverman and Connors, when pressed, claimed to be "optimistic" that a deal would get done â€“ that word precisely from both of them â€“ but based that optimism mostly on the belief that the other party was weak like Ukraine and would fold. Connors, when asked if basic is a possibility given some Big Ten price flexibility:
No, I can't see it on basic this fall. I won't say there's no scenario on basic. If the rate's at a number that isn't a burden to consumers...
The implication there was that the two parties were far apart on what constitutes a "burden" at the moment. Connors, for his part, invoked the idea that Big Ten president's wouldn't stand for the channel's unavailability:
I think there's such an overwhelming, pragmatic argument that is against the currently proposed Big Ten Network. I guarantee university presidents think it's not their goal to charge a fee to every household in Michigan. I guarantee the presidents were never briefed on this. I think that will overcome some of the insanity that's been proposed in the last month and a half. I think it will get placement on a sports tier.
We'll know in a couple weeks.
What strikes me is that both sides here have reached out to all sorts of media, including pissant bloggers, in a fight that's become public in a way that doesn't happen when, say, ESPN Classic gets booted to the high stratosphere, let alone the Food Network or National Geographic or whatever. And this subject acquires more comments and emails than any other save the absolutely true and incontrovertible fact that Notre Dame runs on the souls of babies. That alone indicates to me that both the Big Ten and Comcast have significant interest in getting the channel on in some way or another. I don't think we go into the year without the BTN available, but that's just a hunch, and one biased by hope at that.
Update 8/6: Linked to articles on WA DE Kavario Middleton, AL LB Jerrell Harris, video interviews with DC DT Reggie Ellis and OH TE Brandon Moore; photos of Moore. Added CA S Vaughn Telemaque, TX WR Omarius Hines. Removed MI RB Jonas Gray (Neb), MI WR Fred Smith (MSU). Added CT RB Mike Cox as a commit. Linked to Scout interview of PA LB Shayne Hale and PA WR Cameron Saddler; speculation from Recruiting Planet on the package deal.
Also, there's an updated Rivals 100.
Editorial Opinion: I was all in Cleveland this weekend -- WOO ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME WOO -- so missed the run-up and aftermath of the surprise Fred Smith commitment to MSU. Which kind of sucks. Make no mistake: the coaches pursued Smith hard despite having Hemingway, Clemons, Babb, and Stonum. They wanted him and pursued him heavily; he'll probably be very good for State. However, if you told me I had to pick one guy to lose of those Michigan is currently the presumed leader for (a list that includes at this point Christian Wilson, Brandon Smith, JB Fitzgerald, and Nick Perry), I would have picked him. We are fine on pass catching targets unless you are Jonathan Baldwin, in which case you are feeling very sleepy MICHIGANHASNORECEIVERS so so sleepy THEREAREGIRLSWHOAREN'THOOKERSATMICHIGAN so very sleepy PITTISFULLOFHERPES.
Meanwhile, Jonas Gray is also gone, he to Nebraska. Apparently he had five hats on the table, then shoved away the Florida and Michigan hats because they "didn't treat him well," which should tell you all you need to know about how heavily Michigan was after him.
Cox was covered earlier in the week. Weird, but he was a camper and the coaches have a good strike rate with these kids.
On to new business. WA DE Kavario Middleton was down to five, but has added Miami and will make official visits. Middleton on M:
Middleton says all of his favorites are recruiting him for offense, except Michigan, which wants Middleton for defensive end. "I get mail from Michigan everyday," Middleton said. "They are recruiting me the most. They send lots of stuff. I really like their program because they are always good and I like how fast and hard they play.
"Obviously, they are always a top team and I expect Michigan to have another great season," he said. "I think Miami will also be very improved. Michigan and Miami are the two schools I'm most looking forward to watching this season."
Michigan needs two defensive ends in this class; Middleton would be a big catch.
Meanwhile, AL LB Jarrell Harris still seems like a longshot but is apparently considering an official visit:
"Michigan is really good too and have know for having great tradition and defense," he said. "The coaches are really good there and hopefully I'll get a chance to see what it's like there."
And now... your weekly Hale-Saddler package deal speculation. The duo just attended a 7-on-7 passing camp attended by some of the Ohio State guys at Scout. These guys have some association with the operators and mods of Buckeye and now just general Recruiting Planet. The impression they got:
FWIW, those who were around the two (Hale and Saddler) at the 7x7 seemed pretty sure the package deal will end up intact...
Yep, it definitely seemed that way to Bill & I. I think you'll get the same vibe from the upcoming video interview (should be up soon) of the duo.
I can concur that Shayne is a very tough kid to read, especially when around such a loud, vibrant personality like Cameron. While Shayne is vocal on the field, he is very quiet and reserved off of it. They make a very interesting duo (somewhat reminiscent of Oden-Conley).
We like package deals and only worry a little about WVU.
Also, TE commit Brandon Moore? OMG. Shirtless.
New Rivals 100. Happily, McGuffie moves in at #90. Unhappily, so do lost DTs Garrett Goebel and Omar Hunter. Jonas Gray, somewhat unbelievably, actually moved up despite getting dissed by every major program in the country. It's all good and nice to have your own opinion on recruits, but, uh, yeah. About that. Targets and commits:
- #20 Shayne Hale
- #35 Jonathan Baldwin
- #44 Daryl Stonum
- #45 Kavario Middleton
- #54 Boubacar Cissoko (WTF? Did he suddenly get shorter?)
- #61 Brandon Moore
- #64 Jon Major
- #71 Dann O'Neill
- #89 Brandon Smith
- #90 Sam McGuffie
- #91 Jeff Fuller
There are other guys on the list who I could put down but are longshots: Pryor, Darrell Scott, decommitted NE OL Trevor Robinson. That's five top 100 already with another we lead for (Smith), a second who we could maybe probably lead for (Hale), and four more guys we have at least decent shots at.
Ute up. Michigan's scheduled a replay of that 10-7 anti-classic against Utah for next year. The Utes will slide in to an open date September 20th, completing Michigan's schedule like so:
Sept. 6 MIAMI (OHIO)
Sept. 13 at Notre Dame
Sept. 20 UTAH
Sept. 27 WISCONSIN*
Oct. 4 ILLINOIS* (HC)
Oct. 11 TOLEDO
Oct. 18 at Penn State*
Oct. 25 MICHIGAN STATE*
Nov. 1 at Purdue*
Nov. 8 at Minnesota*
Nov. 15 NORTHWESTERN*
Nov. 22 at Ohio State*
(Stolen from Varsity Blue.) Lame. No offense to Wisconsin, but when Wisconsin is your best home game and there aren't even any other contenders your home schedule sucks. And Utah is a less extreme version of Boise State: they're tougher than the usual non-BCS fare but good luck getting anyone to acknowledge that. So you get the credit of beating Eastern Michigan with a significantly raised level of risk. I know scheduling is hard and all that; Utah is still a nonconference opponent with little upside.
Things might be getting better. The South Bend Tribune drops this in a fluff job about ND AD Kevin White's diabolical scheduling genius:
-So taken was Michigan by the potential recruiting aspects of the Irish playing off-site games in talent-laden Texas, Louisiana and Florida, the Wolverines are pursuing home-and-home arrangements in Florida and Texas to boost Michigan's recruiting.
If that ever comes to fruition, nice. About the worst opponent I can imagine Michigan signing to a home-and-home from either of those states is Texas A&M, and I would love that matchup.
At least we're not Penn State (God, how many times have I said that over the past decade?), who have scheduled Coastal Carolina, Arkansas State, Temple, and EMU over the next couple years. Their most interesting games those years are against Syracuse. There are two TBAs... hopefully they are filled with something interesting.
Butler did or did not do it but has returned. Same Free Press article says that...
Tight end Carson Butler likely will be returning to the Michigan football team.
U-M coach Lloyd Carr said in Chicago last week that he would have a final meeting with Butler late in the week to determine his status. Carr said he wanted to make sure "it's the right thing for our team first of all." A person with knowledge of the meeting said it went well. Butler is expected to be with the team when the players report for training camp today.
From a purely football standpoint: awesome. We need tight ends like whoah. Mike Massey will probably be okay, but Butler had clearly passed him by midseason and Michigan's new zone game often calls for two tight end sets. Butler's return is found money. The questions are now:
- What did Butler do during his time off the team? Hopefully run precise routes and work on his hands; hopefully not sit around watching William Shatner roasts.
- Is he out of the doghouse? He's on the team. Even if he's been diligent this offseason will he be permitted to play? Previously I speculated about a Pierre Woods-esque benching that, while perhaps justified by off-field stuff I'm not qualified to comment on, hurt the team on the field. Butler was thiiiis close to getting the boot before the St. Patrick's Day Nerd Massacre, on double-secret probation with Germany and Arrington, and has stairs to run if he's going to make it back.
Though Butler's back, his actual return to the field remains murky. I'd be surprised to see him before EMU.
Omar Hunter, this is your life. Notre Dame has been negative recruiting the hell out of Michigan ever since Charlie Weis showed up on campus. But now we have a nuclear weapon:
A Notre Dame defensive lineman has been arrested on a misdemeanor charge of propositioning a prostitute.
Derrell Hand, 20, was arrested during a prostitution sting by South Bend police, the South Bend Tribune reported on its Web site.
Notre Dame: the place so awesome that football players have to solicit prostitutes to get action. The poor, poor regular schmoes in their senior-year dorm musicals don't have a chance.
Actual journalism is being committed over at Western College Hockey, which took in the Select 15s -- an annual prospect/camp showcase of the country's best 14 and 15 year old hockey players -- and reported back. This is of interest because two Michigan commits attended. WCH on the pair:
Jon Merrill(Little Caesar's(MI)): Easily the best player at the camp. He's 6'3, but skates like he's 5'9". Very smooth with the puck. Excellent in the defensive zone. Does a great job of picking up his man in the defensive zone. ...
Jared Knight(Compuware): Never really got things going offensively. One of the faster skaters at the camp, and can get to top speed very quickly. Extremely quick release on his slap shot, and still gets good pace on it.
Jon MF Merrill? Maybe? Probably not, but it's worth noting that Merrill's commitment has been in place since the beginning of last year. That's around the same time Michigan offered one JMFJ.
Merrill and Knight will report to campus in 2010 assuming they don't get picked off by Major Junior en route.
Hey, FGCU fans! Reed Baker is coming to your cittttay! (If it's even a city and not like a town or a hamlet or three fishermen who play whist on Sunday nights.) Get your shirts! Not that they're still in the store! Challenge contest: what does FGCU stand for? No looking it up.
Etc.: Lacey talks about the Maize Rage revival (no permalink, sorry). MVictors recaps Jamie Morris talking about the Harbaugh thing on WXYT. McGuffie is Lemming's #10 player in the country. Woo? AP article on Carr comments has some info I hadn't seen elsewhere.
From Monday's mailbag:
...if you have ESPN and ESPN2, there is no such thing as a regional ABC game anymore. All Big Ten games on ABC will be shown in markets that aren't receiving the game on either ESPN or ESPN2. No more frantically hoping that the daft programming director avoids UConn-BC. Every game that Michigan plays is either on the BTN or nationally televised.
As a result: Michigan fans should not get Gameplan unless they want it for ACC/SEC/Big 12/etc purposes.
A quick review of the announcement from the Big Ten reveals one potentially major caveat:
All regional afternoon football games aired on ABC will be aired by ESPN/ESPN2 in outer-markets, making these games nationally available
Emphasis mine. ABC, of course, started a successful "Saturday Night Football" franchise which it will continue this fall. Some of these games are regionalized. Last year's schedule, with Big Ten games highlighted:
Sept. 2, 8 p.m. ET: Notre Dame at Georgia Tech
â€¢ Sept. 9, 8 p.m. ET: Ohio State at Texas
â€¢ Sept. 16, 8 p.m. ET: Nebraska at USC
â€¢ Sept. 23, 8 p.m. ET: Notre Dame at Michigan State; USC at Arizona
â€¢ Sept. 30, 8 p.m. ET: Ohio State at Iowa or Michigan at Minnesota*
â€¢ Oct. 7, 8 p.m. ET: Oregon at California; ACC, Big 12 or BIG EAST (12-day selection)
â€¢ Oct. 14, 8 p.m. ET: Michigan at Penn State; Arizona State at USC
â€¢ Nov. 4, 8 p.m. ET: UCLA at California; ACC, Big 12 or BIG EAST (12-day selection)
â€¢ Nov. 11, 8 p.m. ET: ACC, Big 12 or BIG EAST (12-day selection)
â€¢ Nov. 18, 8 p.m. ET: California at USC; ACC, Big 12 or BIG EAST (12-day selection)
â€¢ Nov. 25, 8 p.m. ET: Notre Dame at USC
â€¢ Dec. 2, 8 p.m. ET: Dr Pepper Big 12 Championship Game
The asterisk indicates that the game not chosen -- in this case, Michigan-Minnesota -- ended up on ESPN instead. So last year two Big Ten games would unavailable in whatever portions of the country got the USC game (West Coast only, basically).
This year Michigan has most of its big games at home, where they don't play night games. However, Wisconsin is on the road and, given the relative hype levels of both teams entering this year, seems a holy lock to be an ABC Saturday Night game that may or may not be regionalized. I dropped a note to someone at the Big Ten Network asking what the status of this game would be for Michigan fans living in the wrong part of the country should this happen. The response:
Beginning in 2007, the only time a Big Ten ABC game might end up on GamePlan is in the rare instance that ABC is regionalizing a prime-time Big Ten game.
So I was right and I was wrong: there is a chance Michigan will end up on GamePlan sometime this year. Mea culpa. But the only reasonable chance it might happen would be for the Wisconsin game, and that may be a national telecast. You are still advised to avoid the season package and just get it for that specific weekend* if it's necessary. Or go to a bar.
*(I believe this is possible but am not entirely sure since I've never shelled out for it myself, although it is tax-deductible for me this year... hmmmm. Anyway, if this is not an option please correct me in the comments.)
2009 recruit Kevin Lynch, a third-round pick of the Plymouth Whalers, has decided to pass on the OHL and attend the NTDP for the next couple years; he's also committed to Michigan. He appears to be a forward (the article doesn't mention this potentially salient piece of information; USHR does). However, read this before you start making clever shirts based on his last name:
"Although Kevin was honored to be drafted by Plymouth, he has chosen, for the time being, that he's not going to be playing there," said Mike Lynch, Kevin's father. "He wants to keep his options open about being able to play in the NCAA, and if he played for Plymouth, he would lose his NCAA eligibility."
Sounds like an OHL defection is not completely off the table. Bob Miller confirms this at The Wolverine, also mentioning that he's "a quality player." So we've got that going for us. Redline had this positive blurb on him as one of their favorite players in the '07 OHL draft:
Kevin Lynch/RC - Honeybaked. Underrated pivot is a coach's dream. Does whatever is needed to win. Rarely loses an important face-off. [Tim from Yost Built just screamed "thank you, God." -ed] Great penalty killer and has more skill than he's given credit for. Scores big goals.
Sounds like... Dwight Helminen, maybe?