and... i like them? I think I like them.
The Pittsburgh Sports Report has an interview with WR Toney Clemons:
Clemons said Pitt, Michigan, and surprising contender Akron have impressed him the most so far. With no decision in sight, Clemons is leaving the door wide open for the traditionally late-acting powers of the college football landscape to get involved. Naming Ohio State, Miami (FL), Florida, and Florida State, Clemons said he gets mail from all over, but "an offer would be overwhelming" from one of the big boys yet to get involved.
Probably not deciding soon. I received an email forwarded along from a reader whose brother-in-law has a daughter at Mullen:
Steve Watson Jr.'s pedigree and physical toools have not so far paid off on the football field. Steve Junior is every bit as tall as his dad (6'4") but much more filled out (although I suspect less than the 240 lbs. listed in the article). But I have yet to see Junior show any of the pass catching skills his father honed to perfection with the Broncos. To my knowledge, Steve Junior has not made a game winning catch or even racked up a 100+ yard game, but he sure looks like a football player. Steve Senior has been seen at many Mullen games rooting his boy on and has been something of an informal coach to Dave Logan, the former Cleveland Brown tight end and current coach of the Mullen Mustangs. I have yet to see any of Watson Junior's potential realized on the field. Maybe this year, his last at Mullen. ...
There are two footnotes about Steve Watson Senior you may find interesting. First, Watson's career with the Broncos was shortened significantly when he was hung out to dry on a short pass during the NFL season all the players were on strike and teams were fielded mostly by replacement players and a few NFL scabs who crossed the line. Watson was one of those scabs. Second, Watson's post-playing career as a cohost of the Bronco's after game show ended abruptly when, during the sign-off the night before the gubernatorial election, Watson innocently said something like, "and good luck to Roy Romer." Even though the comment was innocent and Watson was actually a personal friend of Governor Romer, the comment apparently triggered some kind of equal time provision in force and embarrassed the Denver affiliate enough to terminate his contract immediately. It sort of reminded me of Billy Pilgrim's best friend, an American prisoner of war in "Slaughterhouse Five" who was shot by Nazis following the bombing of Dresden for picking up what turned out to be a small Christmas figurine that reminded him of one he had been missing in his house
A "Slaughterhouse Five" reference == guaranteed inclusion on blog. Sounds like Watson may be more of a project than you might expect a son of an NFL receiver to be. Rivals gave him three stars for that reason; Scout gave him four for the "looks like a football player" bit, no doubt.
The editor of Scout's Oklahoma State site tossed off a prediction that OL Matt Romine, who's very highly touted, will end up at OU. I don't know if that has backing or is just random speculation. CA CB Donovan Warren still lists Michigan but Scott Wolf posted this downer recently:
USC and UCLA are also locked in a battle for Long Beach Poly cornerback Donovan Warren. But a Pac-10 coach recently told me some members of Warren's family want him to attend Ohio State.
Gross! Everyone expects Warren to go to USC anyway. Apparently Michigan led at one point for Minnesota DE Broderick Binns -- who I know nothing about -- and could possibly still be on top according to yet another irritating question headline from GBW.
ESPN's Top 150 was roundly lambasted across the Internets for being dumb; perhaps this is why:
In the six BCS conferences in the 2005 season, just 26 freshmen actually made a significant impact or even got on the field at all. This is a staggering statistic. Despite all the talk about freshmen making an impact early on, the truth is that it is extremely difficult to make the jump from high school to college, and not as many kids are doing it as fast as many think.
Because we do put emphasis on a player's ability to contribute early, the grades for all players naturally become lower -- and therefore more realistic -- when the odds against a player contributing as a true freshman is factored in.
Um... okay. First of all, "odds [modifier] is" ain't proper Englishes. Second of all, universally depressing rating isn't the criticism leveled by annoying recruitniks. Rather, the critcism comes because players that virtually every coach in the country would thoroughly enjoy offering eligibility-maintaining sham classes to are totally absent. When in doubt, Trust The Coaches.
The analysis is fair enough, but could you have possibly been more condescending?
Ouch. That was not my intent but unfortunately was the result. Occasionally in the pursuit of a good line or five the tenor of an article will veer off course. For that I'm sorry. In an attempt to make good, I'll respond to the saner comments and emails I received. First a comment from PSUMike of Hail To The Lion:
I think Morelli is going to surprise a lot of people. Like Lane pointed out, he didn't get on the field much because doing so would have meant benching Michael Robinson, who finished 5th in the Heisman voting. He only got to play during garbage time against Cinn, Central Michigan, and Illinois. His combined stats were 13-20 155 yds 1 TD 0 INT. Not bad considering Joe's tendency to pull in the offensive reins when he's up. He didn't light anyone up but he didn't let them get back in the game either. In the games I saw him, including the spring game, he showed good footwork and confidence. His release was quick and his passes were on time with good armstrength. As good as MRob was, he was horrible throwing the ball. His best passes were when he heaved it up and let his Butler and Williams run under it.
I remain skeptical about Morelli but admit that the evidence against is as flimsy as the evidence for. We must agree to disagree. The season will prove one of us wrong. If it heartens you, given my track record it will probably be me.
Hunt is a good back, but he's not a star. He will churn out 4 and 5 yard gains all day, but he won't break a 50 yd run. But that's all Hall will ask him to do. Keep the offense out of 3rd and long and let the WR's go for the big plays. ...
You're right the offensive line is the big question mark. But then they were the big question mark going into last year too. They weren't great but they weren't bad either. I can't see this group being worse than last year.
Really? Offensive linemen tend to be the slowest developing players on the field other than maybe quarterbacks. Going from four seniors, a junior, and years of starting experience to Levi Brown and four guys who haven't started a game in their lives is going to be a huge dropoff. If Morelli lives up to expectations that will be offset by a much improved passing game, but a tetchy offensive line and the loss of Robinson's 800 yards means that the run game will be hard pressed to come anywhere near its performance of a year ago. If Hunt was the sort of back to make things for himself I could see something effective emerge, but he seems like the kind of guy who needs the hole to be precisely where it's supposed to be.
On defense, we lose three starters on the D-Line, but return Jay Alford who had 8.5 sacks and 11.5 TFL last year. Ed Johnson is returning and should be a force in the middle. I also expect some of their freshmen recruits to step in and make a contribution by the start of Big Ten play. The LB's will be fantastic. I'm glad to see you recognize that.
The DB's are a question. No doubt. They have talent, but they lack experience. Fortunately, you can coach the latter and not the former.
There is still a steep dropoff from Hali to either the journeymen veterans currently in place or freshmen, no matter how highly touted Maurice Evans is. As for the DBs, I'm not sure how much raw talent there is other than Justin King -- and I don't think anyone else does either. The remainder of the secondary had middling guru ratings and was stuck behind Phillips, Lowry et al over the past few years. It could be rough to start.
My prediction is 10-2. We will split the ND and OSU games. Win one and lose one. Don't ask me which but I hope it's ND. God I hate them. I think we will beat you guys. We're due and we're hungry. Penn State is tired of hearing the press tell us you own us. But I think we will slip somewhere along the line and lose to either Wisconsin, Purdue or Minnesota.
I think beating ND is going to be a very tough task on the road with a quarterback getting his first experience against a real opponent. The young secondary and (projected) flimsy pass rush don't match up well against Quinn, Smarjadskazieksa, and company. Obviously PSU has a chance, but I think that's a loss.
As for Michigan, I don't think PSU will be any hungrier to beat Michigan than they were last year or the last seven times they played. A night game at the Beav will be Edmonton-Stanley-Cup-Finals insane, granted, but the game is still played on the field. On said field, I think the Michigan defensive line will give PSU all kinds of problems. Hunt isn't the kind of back to exploit Michigan's dodgy outside linebackers with uncovered bounce-outs. Derrick Williams will be matched up against Leon Hall, who is pretty good. If Henne is on I think Michigan wins -- a big if given last year, granted.
An email from John Uhl:
I don't share all your pessimism about PSU's team and the final results this year, but, hey, you're entitled to your opinion. Your analysis is well researched. What many seem to ignore is that PSU was one of the absolute elite teams (they have played and beaten the best in college football over the years and in bowl games) for a long, long time and then they ran in to some lousy recruiting and coaching decisions which resulted in a horrible 3-4 years. The old man has turned the reins over to some very capable ass't coaches and, well, you saw the results last year. Galen Hall is an offensive genius. Expect very good things from this year's team .They are LOADED with talent on both sides of the ball. AND, attitude! To expect a repeat of last year is unrealistic, but if Morelli hits the ground runnin', who knows.
Hope you're in Happy Valley for the night game with your team. It will be an experience you will NEVER forget. The streak ends this year. Ask OSU what the atmosphere is like. Hell, ask ESPN's Game Day crew.
I did totally overlook the presence of Galen Hall. The PSU offense did perk up under his leadership and was decent despite having little raw material to work with. His track record at Florida, aside from the rampant cheating, was impressive. If my PSU preview turns out to be exceedingly pessimistic at the end of the year it'll probably be because of that.
Another email from Robert Croumathel, though with fewer comments as I've already expressed my opinion on Morelli and Hunt, etc:
I don't know about the X's and O's, but Morelli has the best young arm I've seen at Penn State in a very long time. No big wind up and slow-motion release. Just three steps back, read, and boom. Honestly, he's got the quickest release I've seen since Dan Marino, which is so important in preventing defenders from jumping the play. If he can learn to look off his receivers, he's got some pretty good guys to throw to, so I suspect the passing game will be fine.
Tony Hunt is a complete back, meaning he can hit the crease with speed and power and also take out a linebacker when required. Yah, we played some weak defenses, but so did everyone else in the Big Ten, as you pointed out. Tony gained over 1,000 yards in the Big Ten, which puts him in some pretty good company. If you watch him for awhile you'll see he runs with heart and toughness, as opposed to Austin Scott, who avoids the contact whenever possible.
The O-line has to grow up quickly, but the strength of our defense will keep us in games. So a 9-win season is very doable, and I think we will lay a beating on ND, a
s will Michigan.
I bet the Pitt fans are thrilled with the Dan Marino comparison.
One defender you didn't mention is safety Mark Rubin. You should watch for this guy. He was a receiver who broke his ankle in the pre-season last year and missed the entire season. He's been moved to safety, and if he can learn his assignments he will be a terrific safety. He can punish people back there.
Noted, though I think any impact Rubin makes will be next year at the earliest, as he's coming off a serious injury, moving positions, and stuck behind a couple seniors.
One last thing - I've never held anything against Chad Henne, and I don't know a single Penn State fan who does. Sure I was disappointed, and it would've been great if he had landed in the SEC, but after his stellar Freshman season, it was apparent that he absolutely made the right choice.
This I am glad to hear, but obviously you haven't been to BWI. Something about the Internet fanbase that has sprung up around BWI is deeply wrong and there's an unparalleled hatred for all things block M there. Even on places like the OZone there is some underlying respect, heavily cloaked though it may be.
Sorry about the slowdown. Attempting to prepare for the WSOP and get the BlogPoll organized and significantly less crappy to deal with are dual time sinks of impressive stature.
NCAA reviews continue apace: House Rock Built gives it a general thumbs up but says an old problem has not gone away:
The Game Seems to be Very Long-Bomb Oriented: Maybe it's just because I was playing as Notre Dame, but there doesn't seem to be a correction on the oversimplicity in hucking the ball deep
SMQB (@ EDSBS) says same old, same old:
Final verdict: this one unfortunately has few changes from NCAA 2006 and looks like it has the potential to grow boring more quickly than previous versions. Hell, I may not even hit 500 games before NCAA Football 2008 comes out.
Dubious Quality has a comprehensive 360 review that highlights a particular pet peeve of mine:
And on the face of it, NCAA 2007 is missing a ton of features I want in a game. Features like:
--sim to end (and a jump-in feature as well)
--multiple camera angles (there is ONE freaking camera angle in the 360 version)
--ability to watch a CPU vs. CPU game (somebody find the stoned employee who took out this feature, and thanks for screwing us on slider development)
Seriously. How hard is it to give you an option to scrub out the rest of a game that's 49-7 at halftime? My dynasties inevitably die because I just can't stand going through the motions for half the time I'm actually playing the game whether I'm vastly up or down. I think that's the final straw for me: no '07.
You, being a Michigan fan, have probably already read the article wherein Clemson recruit Jamie Cumbie describes Notre Dame's post-commit negative recruiting:
"They were sending me postcards like a month after I committed," said the 6-7, 255-pound Cumbie, who was a first-team Parade All-American. "The only school that tried to keep recruiting me was Notre Dame. It really didn't bother me."
Cumbie said the Fighting Irish coaching staff, led by enormously fat head coach Charlie Weis, also engaged in some negative recruiting on his visit to South Bend, Ind.
"They had a piece of paper, and it broke down advantages and disadvantages. It said Notre Dame was televised every weekend, every Saturday. Then they said Clemson has a horrible education."
Well, House Rock Built has acquired a copy of said letter; you can see enormously fat Charlie Weis' dastardly scribbles with your own eyes.
Okay, Mike, we acknowledge you as hard. So, yeah... Alex Legion's commitment spurred TSN's Mike DeCourcy to pen this love letter to Amaker:
It has become another terrific July for Michigan coach Tommy Amaker. If only every month could be July. If only the Wolverines were not forced to deal with the months of November, December, January and February.
Of course, we already know they're not asked to do anything important in March.
Michigan received a re-commitment this week from guard prospect Alex Legion...Legion had chosen the Wolverines last November, reconsidered in the spring, but now says he's certain he wants to play for Michigan.
For a moment there, I thought he'd come to his senses.
And while this, like claiming a Clemson education isn't exactly the Ivy leagues, is objectively true it seems sort of unnecessary, doesn't it? Either DeCourcy was put up to this by TSN honchos who demand he generate sports-radio style "reaction" or his online dating profile lists his hobbies as "torturing kittens," "eating kittens," and "making fun of men largely indistinguishable from kittens apropos of basically nothing."
(Via the Diag)
Speaking of apropos of nothing: watch the Tour De France tonight. 8PM OLN.
'07 hoops recruit Scott Martin announces tomorrow; according to Chris Balas "all signs point to" Purdue, thus making the potential existence of a mysterious fourth scholarship moot. Also, sophomore Jevohn Shepherd made the Canadian national basketball team, which probably says more about Canada than Shepherd.
This is too easy, but Lloyd Carr did get a Big Ten ref fired because he only has one eye (hhhhhyyyyyarrrrr!). In situations like this the difficulty is not in coming up with a joke but picking from a panoply of options, but, really, how can you improve on this:
In the spring of 2000, an accident caused him to lose one eye. He returned to his job that season â€” without informing his bosses of the accident â€” and contends that in the five years that he worked with one eye â€” which included officiating two Bowl games â€” reviews of his work were, "on average, substantially better than the reviews he received in the eight years preceeding the loss of his eye."
O RLY? Maybe that says less about this pirate/referee and more about the poo-flinging monkeys in charge of these things. This guy had ONE EYE! And NO ONE NOTICED FOR FIVE YEARS! This isn't a discrete tatoo on the small of his back. This is a major vision impediment anyone throwing a football at this particular referee would have immediately picked up upon. And yet his continued employment. This is objectively hilarious to neutral observers, but not to me after the Peko/Bass incidents. No wonder we had the Jim Augustines of the world inflicted upon us.
Just call him "Citizen," hopefully. The Wolverine's Michael Spath offers some consolation for the hockey team in the wake of forward recruit Trevor Lewis' defection: hyped recruit Pat Kane is going to college and will choose between BU and Michigan. Kane was an '07 recruit but will accelerate his education and enter school in January, which would make him available for the second half of the season should he choose Michigan... and now there's a scholarship waiting for him.
Unless your Internet connection is under a rock, you're probably aware that yesterday was Christmas In July, AKA NCAA release day. Reviews from mainstream sites are full-body massages to EA, so you might want to monitor The Blog For The Sports Gamer closely over the next few days. Three oft-cranky reviewers stand poised to offer, you know, stuff that actually helps you determine whether it's worth buying or not. They've already started. The 614 also has some first impressions.
I'm '07 free at the moment. I've bought the last two versions of the game and been disappointed there's no difficultly level between "piteously easy" and "scream at the console and then hide the game so you can't play it any more." I'm waiting to see whether that's fixed or not. Also, if I bought it now Blogpollers could kiss goodbye a ballot entry form that's not a giant pain in the ass. So there's that.
I've made my feelings on Frank Deford known already. The man is exactly like Barbaro from his beloved horse racing: the attention paid to him, all of which is wasted, is vastly out of proportion to all reason and everyone, including the subject, would probably be happier if he was just put down. And that was before today's column/NPR piece on luxury boxes at Michigan Stadium. I'm sure you can guess which site he comes down on. He even throws in two totally hilarious parody songs and, like everyone else on the inane side of the debate, greatly overstates the aesthetic beauty of Michigan Stadium:
The Big House is a huge oval, and the luxury boxes, totaling 425,000 square feet, would do great aesthetic violence to the classic old bowl. Since the game-day pieds-Ã -terre would cost so much to build, it's dubious they can even actually make the university any money -- and that, after all, is the whole purpose of luxury boxes.
Note that Deford buys the "they won't make money" argument from anti-box crusaders hook, line, and sinker, because who are you going to trust, a self-made millionaire who was head of the USOC or some former speechwriter with a six-page website?
The most irritating thing about anti-box crusaders is that they position themselves as the True Defenders of the Michigan Faith when the choice presented is between an egalitarian crowd watching Michigan lose and a crowd locked in desperate class war watching Michigan win. I'll take the class war, especially because I'll be sitting in the same seats either way.
Etc.: Citizen-Patriot article quotes yet another claim from Carr that Antonio Bass was going to be a major part of the offensive game plan this fall; Burnt Orange Nation considers the Michigan talent gap or lack thereof (RTWT); SI/Athlon's Michigan preview says some things but this is the big conclusion: "Mental toughness and leadership will be especially critical this season when the Wolverines face traditional rivals Notre Dame, Penn State and Ohio State on the road." Way to go out on a limb, kids.
.....And don't click here.
Right. Alex Legion is once again a Michigan commitment. Time to go scrub the archives of any nastiness about him... okay doublechecking displays snide comments about Amaker, a tendency to be creeped out about Tim Green, and buckets o' despair but nothing nasty. Celebrate restraint!
Legion's shocking de-un-re-commit will wrap up guard recruiting for '07. Michigan has Grady, Harris, and Legion ready to come in, knock on wood. There has been speculation that a fourth scholarship may be available but that's hazy at the moment. Any such existing scholarship would be earmarked for a post.
Um, like, good job Amaker.
So, yeah, this is a ripoff of the annual NY Press nastiness.
50-41: The Merely Annoying
For putting this list together. What a bitter, jealous, lonely, unsuccessful person I must be.
49. Bill Simmons
Unlike most of the howling masses of the blogosphere, I don't HATE HATE HATE Simmons, but good lord the man has gotten irritating over the last year. Some of that is merely familiarity with his work breeding contempt -- Rocky references just don't have the same punch they used to -- but most of it is his nigh-constant self-aggrandizement. Ok, Bill, you invented the "running diary" and it's very gracious of you to not get angry when other people ape your unique format, but don't you think that's a lot like taking a bottle of whiskey and inventing "whiskey in a glass"? We're not exactly talking calculus here, and even that was independently invented by two guys.
48. Christiano Ronaldo
No doubt he's being furiously scribbled in at #1 on the British analogue of this list, but since America won't see him for another four years he's stuck down here. Ronaldo symbolizes everything that the US hates about soccer: diving, whinging, pouting, infinite useless stepovers, and ridiculous greasy hair. He was the worst offender on a Portuguese World Cup team that inspired hundreds of "Beautiful Game Turns Ugly" headlines in every language from English to Esperanto. It would have been justice if Rooney's errant foot had struck home on Ronaldo.
A heaping hill of unknown losers stringing for prep tee-ball and Jason Whitlock, SportsJournalists.com overflows with riveting topics like the irrelevancy of the Internet, the charms of towns that had a horse until they ate it, and people wondering whether or not they're making more than minimum wage. They're the only group on the Internet more self-congratulatory than bloggers.
46. Jenn Sterger
Okay, we get it: your fake ta-tas and faux lesbianism bring all the boys to the yard. No doubt Myron Rolle will get an outsanding education from you sooner or later. But what separates Jenn from thousands of other nubile young sorostitutes across the country? Nothing except front-row seats at Florida State games and an exhibitionary streak unusual even for hos. Why, then, is Sports Illustrated running an advice column "by" her? And why won't she respond to my emails?
45. NFL Owners
For many reasons, but primarily for confirming once and for all that their idea of fun is a Soviet one by cracking down on touchdown celebration impresario Chad Johnson. Thanks for giving Johnson's various props, dances, and signs a patina of outlaw cool, but maybe the stick in your collective ass could be whittled into something less all-encompassing.
44. Colin Cowherd
A blogospheric persona non grata after the MZone incident, Cowherd manages to combine stupendous ignorance with a propensity for ALL CAPS EMAIL that marks him indelibly as one of the internet retarded. Probably wouldn't have made the list without the plagiarism but his sins go so much deeper than that. Ask Fire Joe Morgan:
I wish I could convey his strained, howling voice...the condescending way he makes his points, as if he were speaking to a four year-old...the way his arrogance and self-assuredness positively oozes through one's car speakers as he blathers on.
43. Dennis Rodman
JUST GO AWAY.
42. Sean Avery
The NHL has a rich tradition of employing little hateable bastards, but Sean Avery takes it several steps too far. Avery's no-class on-ice demeanor extends to his daily life, whether it's blithering on like he's not two steps away from one of those Geico commercials with the cavemen during the lockout about lies, calling the NHL's French Canadian players visor-wearing nancyboys or terming Edmonton Oiler Georges Laraque a "monkey." No-talent midget Avery is the NHL's most hated player, which is saying something.
Add in his inexplicable success with primo Hollywood ass like Elisha friggin' Cuthbert (@ right) and a list without Sean Avery is no list at all.
41. Joe Theismann and Paul Maguire
Who was stupid enough to recreate "The Odd Couple" and pair them as color announcers for nationally broadcasted football games? Well, the same man who was stupid enough to hire Stephen A. Smith, but more on both of them later. Theismann and Maguire -- the nation's foremost argument against gay marriage -- expend more energy needling each other than paying attention to the game. On their own, they're annoying, but together they form a Voltron-like vortex of suck that threatens to consume any who stumble across the critical late-season Lions-Browns matchup.
The moderately good news is that these two tools no longer have to sit in close proximity to each other for three hours at a time every week; the bad news is that now they're split up it's that much harder to avoid them. The spectre of Maguire now haunts college football. Pray for us.