chance of bowl: 13.6%
Ohio TE Kevin Koger has made final visits to Michigan and Ohio State and could announce a decision at any time, so I'd like to get this out there now in case something happens before Monday Recruitin' gets up. Unfortunately, the prevailing winds on this one point towards Ohio State. When the best spin GBW can come up with is...
Has U-M Made Up Ground For Kevin Koger?
...that ain't good. The array of OSU insiders at Bucknuts.com are all confident on some level or another:
The other big name that will decide soon is TE/DE Kevin Koger from Toledo Whitmer. He has been down to OSU and UM for months and seems to be leaning strongly towards the Buckeyes. As most fans know, Koger's father grew up in Detroit and is a Michigan fan. Koger wants to play tight end in college and he has had nothing but great things to say about OSU of late.
The vibe is positive surrounding several uncommitted players, and there's no reason to believe that this year's class won't finish strong. Many expect Kevin Koger, who visited OSU and Michigan this week, to be next, followed soon by Illinois defensive tackle Garrett Goebel.
"We" also seem confident in landing both Kevin Koger and Garrett Goebel. Some even seem cocky.
That is also not good; it looks like a Michigan commitment at this point would be an upset. I wouldn't call it a shock if said upset came through, but we are not the favorite.
As long as we pick up PA h-back Christian Wilson the damage to our class will be minimal, but there's no way to spin this one: losing Koger -- a player we were on first at a position of need whose dad is a Michigan fan -- to OSU would be a nasty representation of the direction the rivalry has gone lately. Nothing to get too worked up about; still mildly alarming. Suggestion: win this year.
Note: no idea why there are useless "read more"s at the bottom of my posts now. There was a feature I implemented (and used once) that did auto-show/hide that seems to be inserted on each post automatically now. Don't know why, I haven't made any changes. I'm looking into it.
I had no idea this was part of Big Ten bylaws:
Big Ten football has revenue sharing, in which each school has to contribute into a pool a percentage of its revenue from each home conference game. The minimum amount is $300,000 per game and the maximum is $1 million.
For the 2006 season, the Gophers contributed over the minimum amount for every home league game -- $450,424 for Michigan; $345,076 for Penn State; $335,888 for Indiana and $681,161 for Iowa. So the Gophers contributed $1,812,549 to the pool. But each school wound up getting back $2,805,819. Minnesota ended up with $993,271 more than it contributed. Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State contributed $4 million each to the pool, Iowa contributed $3.5 million, Wisconsin $3.2 and Michigan State $3.1.
So we got docked $1.2 million from this pool. Why does this happen? Is it not enough to share all bowl and television revenue evenly? Bleah.
The Wit and Wisdom of Charlie Weis. I am permanently indebted to Braves & Birds for clearing up the exact sort of blustery nothing that is the vast bulk of Charlie Weis's public utterances: Grayson Moorhead Securities. For some reason, journalists just lap this stuff up. If I had to speculate I would say it's a combination of the generally low intelligence levels possessed by generic pundits (I swear the next time I see something like "numbers are for eggheads and nyyyyyyyeeeerds" I'll scream; wanton ignorance seems downright prized by large portions of the chattering class) and their panting desire to be insiders. If you are not that bright the fake inside baseball Weis provides seems a telling glimpse inside a major college football program instead of irritatingly grandiose fluff.
Anyway, the free Blue Ribbon preview of Notre Dame has a few classic Grayson Moorhead moments:
"When guys graduate you replace them. That's why you give scholarships to other guys."
But wait! There's more!
"It's very, very important that you treat everyone the same if you're going to be fair."
This longer passage perfectly illustrates Weis's ability to transform the banal into ephemeral genius:
The buzzword for the offensive line in the spring was "cross-training." That doesn't mean there was a glut of 6-5, 300-pounders on Notre Dame's racquetball courts. It means because of depth issues across the line, several linemen trained at more than one position.
Take for example sophomore Dan Wenger (6-4, 282). He is a promising center but is stuck behind senior John Sullivan (6-4, 290) on the depth chart. So Wenger spent the spring competing with classmate Matt Carufel (6-5, 295) at right guard, while at the same time working as the backup center.
The idea of moving a player stuck behind an established starter to another, nearly identical, position? While still having him take some reps at his previous, nearly identical, position? I... wow. Let's just say that never would have occurred to anyone else in the history of coaching.
Junior Mike Turkovich (6-6, 299) is the starting left guard, but he is also a candidate to move to tackle if anything happens to either sophomore right tackle Sam Young (6-8, 315) or junior left tackle Paul Duncan (6-7, 292).
But it's necessary, Weis says.
I wonder if he can explain this mystery to us.
"[Wenger] is not beating out Sullivan at center, so if he's going to get on the field it's going to be at guard," Weis said.
About that preview. About the only thing it's convinced me of is that you should not buy Blue Ribbon. It's not so much the understandable factual errors like this:
Right guard should be settled by the preseason, with either [Dan] Wenger or [Matt] Carufel earning the job. If Carufel were to win the job that would bring cohesion to the line, because he and Young played together in high school at St. Thomas Aquinas High in Coral Spring, Fla.
(It's actually Wenger who was a teammate of Sam Young.) Rather, it's the junk that passes for analysis like "Wenger and Young have cohesion." This is most obvious in the section on Notre Dame's defense, which is frankly ludicrous. I mean... seriously:
Apart from Zbikowski, the Irish are well stocked at defensive back, a position that won't be too affected by the switch to the 3-4.
Cornerbacks abound, giving the Irish plenty of depth. Senior Ambrose Wooden (5-11, 190) is back in the starting lineup after playing a reserve role last year. He'll be opposite senior Terrail Lambert (5-11, 191), who started the final 10 games of last season, finishing with three interceptions, including the game-winning touchdown against Michigan State. [links are mine; you can see the glory of "depth" for yourself. -ed]
Shockingly, there is no mention that the abundance of cornerbacks is an abundance of cornerbacks who happen to be complete crap at football. This is a secondary that finished the year 90th in pass efficiency defense despite playing almost entirely teams that couldn't pass.
Seriously. Michigan (27th), LSU (4th), and USC (30th) were all pretty good. Air Force was shockingly 17th, but against a Mountain West schedule. Purdue (46th) was all right. But the entire rest of the schedule was a disaster: MSU (61st), UCLA (81st), GT (82nd), Navy (85th), PSU (92nd), Stanford (94th), UNC (102nd... leading passer JOE DAILEY!), and Army (116th) were all bad. To finish 90th against that murderers row means you were lethally bad.
And yet this preview somehow makes it out to be as strength:
Defensively, the Irish will be running the 3-4 under first-year defensive coordinator Corwin Brown. What that meant in the preseason was that several linemen and linebackers found themselves either switching positions or learning new ways to play their old positions. Despite the controlled chaos, the defense is better off then the offense. There's depth at every position, especially the secondary where no fewer than eight players have legitimate claims to a starting job. One player who won't have to worry about competition is safety Tom Zbikowski, who appeared leaner and more focused on football during the spring.
(Emphasis mine.) Then, the topper:
Notre Dame's defense will keep it in games.
So... a unit that's switching to an entirely new scheme, had possibly the worst major college secondary in the country last year, and might be starting a 270 pound nose tackle is going to "keep it in games"? Corwin Brown might have an enormous penis but that's asking a lot. Blue Ribbon looks over the majesty of all this and concludes:
If the offense can find a consistent rhythm, be that with the passing or the running game, expect to see the Irish vying for their BCS bowl tie-in.
Ha. Ha. Ha. This is probably why Blue Ribbon's Oregon preview scared the living daylights out of me, then projected the Ducks to go 6-6 again: Blue Ribbon is run by crackheads.
I don't think Rickey Hampton of the Flint Journal has any super secret inside information that everyone else lacks, but he puts out a nice column on Carr that says this:
When Lloyd Carr retires from coaching, which he will almost certainly do at the end of the 2007 season, he'll miss moments like his encounter with Kevin as much as the heated action with his Big Ten rivals.
"One of the great things about my profession is I have literally met thousands of people, like Kevin, that I wouldn't have met if not for this profession," said Carr. "And so many of those people have had a tremendous impact on me."
Carr, who turns 62 later this month, won't say he is retiring. But it would be a huge upset if he doesn't.
Dunno about "huge upset", but the column has some interesting quotes from Carr and some insight into the recent 1997 reunion.
Etc.: Burnt Orange Nation has a great post from Chris from Smart Football, a site which I've referenced in this space before (though I can't find it). Looks like there's more coming. This is real inside baseball, so to speak, not that Weis stuff.
Also: vicious, monkey-headed, cow-eating badgers who are "swift as deer" plague Iraq. I thought we had a "where are they now?" for Booker Stanley until that "swift as deer" bit.
Also also: the Orange Bowl catches fire; Japanese announcers take over.
So, right, we now have a second quarterback in the 2007 class. Steven Threet of Adrian is transferring from Georgia Tech. What does Michigan have in Threet? A pretty good quarterback, it looks. Both Scout and Rivals gave him four stars -- he was in the Rivals 250 last year -- and ranked him high among the available quarterbacks in a strong year for the position. Scout had him #13, Rivals #9. ESPN is a huge outlier, ranking him only the 65th best quarterback in the '07 class. Which is, like, David Cone territory and doesn't seem to match up with a generally positive scouting report (more on that later).
Orson's lingering suspicion than any lanky, immobile, pale 6'6" guy he meets on the street is, will be, or has been a Michigan quarterback gets stronger with every passing day, as Threet fits the Michigan quarterback MO to a tee. He is indeed 6'6" and criticisms leveled at him are usually along the lines of "graceful as a water buffalo"; he offsets said criticisms with a big arm and the proverbial headiness that all nice young men with good standardized tests are credited with when the media discusses them. ESPN's Threet scouting report:
Has the arm to place the ball anywhere on the field and is very accurate. He stands tall in the pocket, keeps his eyes downfield and does an excellent job working his way through progressions. ... He makes good, quick decisions and rarely forces the ball. He has just enough movement skills to avoid within the pocket and buy a second passing chance. ...not an elusive athlete. He is not a guy you want on the perimeter; is at his best in the pocket. ... For such a tall player, he releases the ball low and his elbow sinks, very much like Vince Young. This negates his great natural height and can cause batted balls. His footwork can be inconsistent and drop speed needs to improve. [paging John Navarre! -ed] .... He is smart and heady. [see? see? -ed]
The above mechanics criticism -- the first and last time Threet will be compared to Vince Young -- is echoed by Rivals' Mike Farrell:
Michigan quarterback Steven Threet looked great physically but his footwork lacked and he dropped his arm a bit on his release.
Threet was impressive in his short time at Georgia Tech, slotting into the #2 spot on the depth chart behind Tyler Bennett almost immediately:
The main challenge will likely come from freshman Steven Threet, an imposing 6-foot-5, 230-pound prospect who enrolled early so he could take part in spring drills.
"Taylor's got the lead right now, but I want to see Steven go out there and compete and do the best he can," Gailey said. "If Taylor continues to play well and wins the job, what if we go to Notre Dame (for the season opener) and he gets sick the night before the game? We've to have a quarterback the next day. Somebody's going to play. We don't know who that's going to be right now."
Threet was clearly the second option in the GT spring game, getting a series with the first team offense and finishing 7-11 for 51 yards and a touchdown. And the following praise comes with a full Tom Deinhart Stupidity Warning, but it was a collaboration with Rivals' Jeremy Crabtree so maybe this has a smidgen of truth in it. They're comparing '07 recruits to '06 recruits:
Georgia Tech's Steven Threet (Adrian, Mich.) is like Georgia's Matthew Stafford. Sure, Taylor Bennett looked good in the Yellow Jackets' bowl game, but Georgia Tech might consider opening its quarterbacks competition with Threet climbing aboard. Why? Because the big, strong-arm Threet (6-5, 230) is a classic dropback passer whose package of acumen and skills might allow him to start right away.
Of course, when Threet's transfer was announced all the actual practicing and praise he got went out the window for poorly-founded theories of a fear of competition:
No need, though, for alarm. Threet might have been No. 2 this season, but that's a definite "might." If he won that job, and I don't think he was going to, it would have been by a hair over Calvin Booker and/or Josh Nesbitt. With Taylor Bennett in position to handle the next two seasons, there is plenty of time for Tech to plan/recruit so that two years from now, when Threet most likely would've been a real factor, the Jackets will have filled in that hole.
My hunch is that after having a so-so spring when it became apparent that Bennett would be the man for the next two seasons and that Calvin Booker is at least a little (and maybe more) better than some thought, Threet gave matters some thought.
He was, from what I have been told, an outstanding student, but I think fellow freshman QB Josh Nesbitt showed up last month and began working out with other players, and although those workouts are limited in their form by NCAA rules, there is a pretty good chance that Threet got an eyeful.
Next, a top QB prospect, Renfree of Scottsdale, Ariz., commited to Tech and said he was going to redshirt in 2008, and begin competing in '09. I know some have said he was homesick, and I haven't spoken with Steven so you can call me crazy (and be right). But my theory is he didn't like the writing he foresaw on the wall.
A transfer to Michigan obviously blows that theory all to hell; you don't transfer into the same recruiting class as Ryan Mallett to lessen the competition you face. That guy is also the one who wrote the YAY TECH article on Threet's transfer that drew FanHouse ire. It's kind of sad when the AJC blog specifically positioned as a fan's view on GT athletics is more objective than the actual beat guy's effort.
Editorial Opinion: Obviously Michigan is done at quarterback this year. With Mallett, Cone, Threet, and Wienke on the roster going forward Michigan finally has some QB depth, assuming that they all stay.
Also! If you want a mug or t-shirt with Threet's stony visage on it, you are in luck.
"The biggest thing is that the two coaches that recruited me took jobs at other schools, and that happened after I got there," Threet said. "Nothing against the other coaches because I like them, [offensive coordinator John] Bond and [Liam] Klein. It was just a different situation.
"People have been asking if it was homesickness, or
classes were too hard, or if it was all the competition at Tech," Threet said from Ann Arbor, Mich., after visiting Wolverines coach Lloyd Carr Thursday with his parents. "It was not any of those at all. I had a 3.76 grade-point my first semester, and the competition here is as good or better."
This comes from the dodgiest of potential sources, the registration-free and largely anonymous MLive message boards -- the source of an unfounded Chris Perry broken leg rumor back in the day -- but it fills in some blanks that I had wondered about earlier. Anyway, the rumor:
Michigan just landed another 4 star QB, but this is a 2007 transfer, not a 2008 recruit. I don't think it will be offical until he meets with Lloyd and staff tomorrow. I am excited, as it is a personal friend of mine. The QB position looks real good for the next 5 years or so.
This can only be instate quarterback Steven Threet, a four star from the '07 class who just announced he's fleeing Chan Gailey Equilibrium. Okay, okay. Unsubstantiated internet rumor, yes. But no one just leaps on a board to say "Michigan got a quarterback transfer" if they're trying to stir things up; no one gets stirred up by that sort of thing. Circumstantial evidence: more than one article in the aftermath of the Michigan camp had with direct quotes claiming Michigan would take two quarterbacks this year. In-state three star Brendan Kay was one of these players hoping for the second quarterback offer; he committed to Cincinatti yesterday. Implication: Michigan filled their need and Kay need not wait on an offer any longer. I buy it; expect a Threet announcement soon.
Assuming this is true, Threet would have an enforced redshirt then four years of eligibility. It would be just as if he enrolled with the rest of his class. Also, irony meters across the state will break if Michigan picks up a quarterback recruit who can only transfer because he enrolled early instead of loses one.
Update: A second source close to the situation confirms this; question mark removed from post.
That headline was going to be "Porter staying" but then I remembered this was Michigan hockey we're talking about. A positive blurb on the official site of the Phoenix Coyotes, who hold his NHL rights, has this quote from the captain-to-be:
Porter is expected to return to Ann Arbor this fall where he will serve as the Wolverines team captain and try to help capture the school's first NCAA Championship since 1997-98.
"I want to finish up my fourth year at Michigan, finish up school, get my degree and then hopefully after that sign with the Coyotes," said Porter.
Standard Michigan hockey paranoia applies, but when the team that holds his rights says he's expected to return you can ease up on the Xanax. Porter is apparently doing well with the Coyotes, playing on a high profile line with Gopher and former fifth overall pick Blake Wheeler:
While Coyotes prospects Martin Hanzal and Blake Wheeler continue to grab headlines (deservedly so), the third member of that line, Kevin Porter, is quietly putting together an equally impressive performance this week.
Though Porter was expected to return, a verbal confirmation of that is always nice to have. The other departure threats also seem likely to stick around. Chad Kolarik has always been regarded an extremely good bet to return. There's some chance Mark Mitera might go -- and that would be disastrous -- but the Ducks don't appear to be making a move to sign him yet. So... um... yay? Jack hardly seems like an early departure at all, so an offseason of losing only Cogliano seems like a pretty good one.
The number one sign you're a Michigan hockey fan: the premature loss of the best defenseman ever and your projected number one center qualifies as "a good offseason." But we've got a Swede!
Stripe versus Swoosh. Fight! Yesterday the university announced that, effective next year, the primary athletics sponsor was switching from Nike to Adidas. This is not something I particularly care about, at least not to the extent that it matters more than $7.5 million per year, nearly double the previous deal. If Adidas put in the best bid, I'm perfectly happy to dump Nike. There's an undercurrent of discontent with the move out there I find odd after the introduction of the controversial Bibby McPiping jerseys that were universally panned and then immediately forgotten about.
Well, the piping's still there and it still irritates. Unfortunately I can't find the exact quote, but something Uni Watch's Paul Lukas said about that one horrible weekend when Florida, Virginia Tech, and a few other teams wore asymmetrical Nike eyesores featuring one neon sleeve stuck with me: the truly grating thing (other than, you know, the uniforms) was that Nike seemed to regard itself as the show, not the teams they sponsor.
What bothered me about the piping was not the piping itself but the fact that Miami had identical piping-bib-woo jerseys done in different colors, as, I'm sure, do several other teams. Nike tries to play this off as a structural necessity required to prevent their space age jerseys from accidentally sending players to the moon or something, but I've seen a lot of shirts in my time -- people just love wearing the things -- and I call bull. Universally identical piping was a Nike branding technique subtle enough to rope Michigan in. I'd rather be Michigan than a Nike school that happens to wear maize and blue. So, insofar as I care for reasons other than "the athletic department gets money they can rule the world with," I support the devil we don't know here.
Internal UPDATE! The Free Press with more delicious details:
There is a "most favored nation" clause in the contract that will keep Michigan as Adidas' top college deal.
Nice! NDNation is throwing a hissy fit; they signed a ten year, $60 million contract in 2005 (Michigan's is the same money over eight years) and are upset about the MFN status and the fact that Michigan is getting "33%" more than ND did. That's what you get when your engineering school sucks ass.
McGuffdate. USAToday w/ Rivals content:
McGuffie still undecided
Sam McGuffie, the nation's top all-purpose back, took a visit to Michigan last week. The 6-foot, 188-pounder has yet to make his college decision, but said he's getting close.
"The recruiting process is getting very overwhelming, but there will be a decision in the next few weeks," McGuffie said. "Michigan has been my favorite for a while, followed by USC, Texas A&M, Oklahoma State and Florida (in no particular order).
"I want to enjoy this process and not make it so pressure-packed."
That Sunday-next decision referenced in Monday Recruitin' appears to be off. It's encouraging that "Michigan has been [his] favorite for a while," but A&M folk are suddenly confident and the public opinion of the internet is rapidly switching. So... yeah. I kind of have to back off earlier confidence. I wouldn't call it unconfident -- I still think he ends up at Michigan -- but this reversal is pretty frickin' weird and I don't know what to do with it. FWIW.
It appears two sorts of people read this blog: students and lawyers. This is for the latter:
Coach Carr has only 116 spots available on his team and he wants you to be part of it. The 2nd Annual Michigan Men's Fantasy Football Experience will be held on August 2-3, 2007. Proceeds will benefit the "Men of Michigan" Prostate Cancer Research Fund at the University of Michigan. Our goal is to advance awareness, research and treatment of the most diagnosed cancer in American men.
We will conduct two-a-days practice installing offensive and defensive schemes coached by the Michigan coaching staff. Participants will attend a typical team meeting in Schembechler Hall, review actual practice film, and suit up in the Michigan Stadium team locker room. You will have your own locker at the Big House and receive an authentic Nike game jersey.
The cost for the two day experience is $2,500 per person and includes meals and overnight accommodations at the Campus Inn Hotel where the team stays prior to every home football game. We have an outstanding event planned and we hope you will join us for a memorable experience. You can reserve your spot on Coach Carr's team or receive additional information by contacting FootballExperience@umich.edu
As noted, all proceeds benefit charity. Last year Jon Chait went and reported back with a fascinating look inside the camp and the program. Anyone who decides to go this year is encouraged to offer up their own impressions. There is a guest post waiting for you.
Did we know this? The Chicago Tribune has an article on Alice Cooper's new golf book -- anyone who's surprised hasn't seen Wayne's World. In it, a potentially awesome addition to Mini-Me amongst the B-level Celebrity Michigan fan parade:
Cooper was born Vincent Damon Furnier in East Detroit in 1948 to a family with French Huguenot roots mixed with Sioux Indian "and a lot of Irish." (He changed his name legally to Alice Cooper in the '70s.)
The Furniers had three vital rules: "You had to be a Democrat; you had to be a Tigers fan; and you had to be a [Michigan] Wolverines fan," Cooper remembers.
(Thanks, Chicago Tribune, for specifying that. It's not like we're the Wildcats.) We can't compete with USC, obviously, but I think Mini-Me and Alice Cooper is a hell of a Celebrity Fan Deathmatch tag team.
Hey... great. A helpful commenter points out this chilling quote from BTN president Mark Silverman in a brief AP article that seems rephrased from a press release:
"We're well on our way toward ensuring that roughly half the subscribers to smaller cable systems across the Midwest have better access to their favorite Big Ten schools and teams than anytime in history," Big Ten Network president Mark Silverman said in a statement.
Yikes. Way to lower expectations. Hopefully that's just an awkward, easily misinterpreted public statement and not a reflection of revised ambition.