Bleah! The hockey team's weekend did not go swimmingly. It took a "Sparty, no!" moment with two minutes left -- Matt Schepke batting a puck into his own net -- for Michigan to escape with a point from two games. My reaction was virtually identical to that of Tim at Yost Built: a couple of ugly games marred by arbitrary refereeing and State's usual dedication to destroying whatever aesthetic beauty hockey might have after a decade of clutch and grab. MSU has mastered the art of not getting called for interference penalties; the resulting hockey might be effective but watching it is pure sadomasochism.
In fact, I thought this exact same thing on Friday:
I had my own hockey game tonight, so I caught this one on the DVR. I managed to not hear anything about our game. So it was kind of amazing that I knew what the final score was by the end of the first period. I believe my exact words were, "We're going to lose this ****ing game 1-0, aren't we?"
At least before last year we had the assurance that karma would direct State to another scoreless loss in the first round of the NCAA tournament, but noooo. Thanks for nothing, BU and Clarkson and etc.
Tim says basically everything I wanted to about the refereeing in his Saturday post (note that this goes both ways: Matt Rust cross-checked an MSU defender into oblivion right before the goalmouth scramble that led to "Sparty, no!"), except he praises Hall somewhere in there, which I do not co-sign. With Piotrowksi's on-ice retirement there's not a referee in the league that doesn't make me mutter "#&*@, that guy" when he steps on the ice.
Hey, wow. Desmond Howard:
"Well I think only time will tell if it was a good hire. The saddest part of the whole situation is that a Michigan Man never got offered the job. That doesn't sit well with any former players.
"At this point, he has no choice but to be successful. Everyone wants to see what happens. Especially after you saw a Michigan Man (Les Miles) beat (Jim) Tressel, who has pretty much owned Michigan the past (four years). And you saw a Michigan Man beat him handily in a national championship game."
Ammunition for those still hanging on to their image of the coaching search as one long fiasco that stumbled on a pot of gold; Howard was ostensibly part of the search committee and he obviously harbors some bitterness about how everything went down. Rodriguez has some outreach to do with facets of the program that are still upset.
Worst. The MZone has had this beat for a long time now and this particular instance has already been covered by Varsity Blue and the Detroit Sports Rag, but Drew Sharp is such an irredeemable tool that I want to pile on as well. Two weeks ago:
He must keep Pryor away from Jim Tressel.
He must do whatever it takes.
Failure is not an option.
Michigan landing super recruit Terrelle Pryor would be an overrated victory
This perfectly illuminates what pass for Drew Sharp's thought processes. Cancel out the contradictory statements and you're left with a balding cloud of negativity devoid of any actual content.
Sharp himself remains the eternal mystery. I'm fascinated by his continued employment. In years of wandering around message boards and blogs dedicated not only to Michigan but Michigan State, the Pistons, the Tigers, and to a lesser extent the Red Wings and Lions I've never heard anything even neutral about Drew Sharp. He is hated by every fanbase in the city where he works, and the possessor of the world's worst average Amazon rating: 1. Nine users deigned to review his book of collected columns. Choice excerpts:
My 2 year old is a better writer
I'm ashamed that a publisher would actually give people inside and outside of Detroit an opportunity to re-read this negative and unoriginal tripe.
On the surface, publishing a compilation of articles from one of Earth's most untalented journalists probably seemed like a good idea. This culmination of decades of wasted ink and mindless opinions would certainly have many uses.
I can't believe that anyone would seriously considered [sic] buying, let alone reading, this filth.
Drew Sharp proves all the critics wrong with this book and shows that people with disability can actually put words together on a page.
Drew Sharp is one of the 5 worst sports writers in America. He is mean-spirited, ill-informed, and virtually talentless.
what a worthless human being
There's no sugarcoating the truth regarding this book.
It will be forever branded a loser.
No heart. No toughness. No sales.
You should probably read the entirety of that last one; it's a little masterpiece. The nicest one... the nicest one! In its entirety:
This guy is a hack, March 22, 2005
By MW "Calle_Betis" (Michigan) - See all my reviews
He's a predictable columnist. His perspective is limited. Sharp is biased and if you read his columns, you've already read what he has to offer.
Save your money.
This isn't eye-rolling or discontent. This is loathing.
The Free Press' logic is probably straightforward: I bet he gets a lot of hits on his pieces. Every time he writes a rip job on someone, incensed people post links on the relevant message boards. Despite the 100% guaranteed "don't give this guy attention" response posted two seconds after the initial link, people click and absorb the latest tripe.
However, there's a hidden cost here. Does anyone feel any kind of loyalty to the Free Press? Probably not. If you're like me, whenever Drew Sharp flits across your consciousness you think "man, screw those guys." If copies of the paper started showing up for free on my doorstep I'd demand they stop sending them. There are a lot of reasons newspaper circulation is plummeting; I'd bet one of them is the continued presence of knobs like Sharp poisoning many sports' fans opinions of the entire newspaper's brand. I know the Free Press employs a man without talent or scruples solely to irritate me into giving them a page view, so I am inclined to look upon the rest of their paper as one enormous attention whore.
The grander mystery is encapsulated in the "eeee Barwis" video. Several readers pointed out the looming, corpul
ent figure of Sharp trundling through the frame chewing on a donut near the end of Barwis' opus on strength and conditioning. It's just about at the end:
The mystery: why the hell is this guy allowed in the building? It's odd. Because Drew Sharp has been granted space in a local newspaper, he is granted access despite the years of evidence that he will do nothing with this access except bite the hand that fed it to him. Why does Michigan (and Michigan State, for that matter) tolerate the guy? What, is he going to write more negative articles about the school? The local sports franchises should blacklist him.
And you, if you subscribe to the Free Press, should stop.
SEC Speed. M 34, South Carolina 3.
Say what? The Free Press has a weirdly outdated article on MI DE Nick Perry's recruitment. To wit:
That effort could pay off in a big way for Dantonio and MSU if one of the top in-state recruits chooses the Spartans over Michigan, Southern Cal and Miami on National Signing Day on Feb. 6. Detroit King defensive end Nick Perry has MSU among his final four schools, a testament to Dantonio's persistence in recruiting the Detroit area.
"It would be a nice little feather in his cap if he could get Nick," English said.
A Perry commitment could be a defining moment for Dantonio at MSU and the capstone of a successful 2008 class. The Spartans rarely have beaten U-M for recruits in recent years, but Dantonio snagged two players who also had offers from the Wolverines -- 6-foot-7 Novi defensive end Tyler Hoover, who has enrolled at MSU, and Southeastern wide receiver Fred Smith, currently the highest-ranked recruit in the class, according to recruiting network Rivals.com.
That's all well and good, except that Perry has been maintaining that Michigan, USC, and Miami are his top three for over a week now. Other potential defining moments for Dantonio:
- glorious 2007 victory over Michigan
- commitment of Sam McGuffie
- defeat of ninja assassins sent to kill emperor Han.
There's a lot more sugarcoating of a pretty wretched MSU recruiting class that features Fred Smith and zero other four-star guys.
There's also a Blade article, but it doesn't contain any new information. Good summary, though.
Editorial Opinion: Hey, Marcus Witherspoon: welcome back. Michigan retains the services of the four-star OLB from New Jersey and now has four solid linebacker commits. Witherspoon was profiled back when he committed, FWIW. A couple other commits are visiting elsewhere but only Christian Wilson seems like a serious threat to depart. Witherspoon re-committed, MI DT Mike Martin canceled his ND visit, and everyone else has publicly reinforced their verbal.
A couple players -- JB Fitzgerald and Brandon Moore -- are visiting elsewhere, always an uncomfortable thing, but seem likely to stick. Fitzgerald was at Rutgers this weekend with Witherspoon and FL QB Justin Feagin; Moore took a flier trip to Miami. He did cancel a planned trip to Florida; the situation seems similar to that of current freshman Martell Webb, who took a Very Serious And Listening Intensive Visit to Miami right before signing day that had nothing to do with South Beach.
SC WR Jaron Brown's visit seemed to go well:
"Right now, I have a slight lean toward USC," Brown said before heading to Ann Arbor.
But upon his return, Brown planned to break out his notebook, weigh the pros and cons, and make a choice.
"I just want to sit around and pray about it," he said.
Brown visited Clemson and had them in the lead, visited South Carolina and had them in the lead, and now maintains no leaders after visiting Michigan. You can spin that in a hopeful or less-than- direction depending on your wont; I've bumped Brown up from red to yellow.
And, of course, Pryor. Pryor was talking about visiting Oregon or LSU or any number of other schools in the interregnum between now and signing day. Those plans are now somewhere between unlikely and off the table:
The nation's top prospect, quarterback Terrelle Pryor of Jeannette, Pa., has yet to schedule another official visit, his mentor, Charlie Batch, told The Dispatch.
"He wants to, but at this point he doesn't know exactly how that is going to happen, or whether it is going to happen at all," said Batch, a backup quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
As predicted, it looks like this will come down to Michigan and Ohio State. OSU insiders and message boards remain supremely confident; Michigan equivalents are cautious.
Pryor's recruiting diary with the Post-Gazette contains some interesting information points:
- He is unlikely to play basketball in college.
- A "reporter dude from Detroit" called his high school and "flipped out on our principal, the secretary, everyone" because Pryor wouldn't talk to him.
- This on M:
I feel better about Michigan since I went there. I took [Steelers backup quarterback] Charlie Batch with me. He's helping me through this whole process. We got every single detail about what they're going to do with me in their offense. I got a good feel for things and a good look at Coach [Rich] Rodriguez.
Charlie hit him with the questions about how they're going use me. He asked if they were going to make me a quarterback or am I going to be running all the time? They'll probably use me like they used Pat White at West Virginia, but I would be throwing more. They said they'd teach me some techniques, and I'll be throwing that thing a lot. But they'll use my athleticism on some plays, too.
So there you go. Clear as day.
Bits and such. Varsity Blue has a scholarship count with 26 available slots; mine is stuck on 24 but I haven't given it a through once-over in a while and theirs looks right to me. Michigan's taken all the attrition they need for a class of 25. Now we just need bodies.
About the bodies: I currently have M at 16 commits, but the current board 1) does not include PA HB Christian Wilson as a commit and 2) doesn't have longsnapper George Morales on it at all. Morales is listed as a commit by both Rivals and Scout... are we really giving a long snapper a scholarship? Has anyone ever heard of such a thing?
Anyway, depending on the status of the above two kids we have somewhere between nine and seven slots to fill in nine days. I don't see how we get to twenty-five with the guys currently on the radar screen.
- TN CB JT Floyd
- TX WR Terrence Robinson
- MI DE Nick Perry
- SC WR Jaron Brown
- FL QB Justin Feagin
- FL QB BJ Daniels
- OH RB/WR Michael Shaw
- PA QB Terrelle Pryor
- MS S Charles Mitchell
- FL WR Martavious Odoms
- FL OT Rhonne Sanderson
- OH OT Patrick Omameh
That looks like five or six guys to me.
We're... #1. As you might expect when you're 22-2-0, Michigan is atop every poll of significance (PWR, RPI) and insignificance (those voted on by hoo-mans, KRACH). The RPI gap is fairly sizable but not impenetrable, as Miami is hot on Michigan's heels and the two Colorado schools in the WCHA have fought through brutal schedules. Each is about 2 hundredths behind.
However, North Dakota, the current 5th place team, is almost 5 hundredths behind, which is about equal to the gap between NoDak and #18 Minnesota-Duluth. That's a long way back and the PWR is mostly an RPI-correction mechanism, one that Michigan has a huge number of advantages in with winning records against the WCHA and HE.
The upshot: barring a total collapse down the stretch, Michigan has locked in a one-seed.
HOWEVA, there's still a lot to play for. Banners are always nice, and staying in the top two is important because two autobids go to the CHA and Atlantic Hockey winners. These two teams are invariably seeded #15 and #16. While a small conference autobid foe is not a guaranteed win by any means -- ask Minnesota about that -- the last two teams in are always a considerable step down in talent from #14.
Current bracketology is totally meaningless, but FWIW the prevailing scenario has this as the Madison regional:
9. Boston College
Boston College is an unpleasant prospect in the second round, but if they keep playing at the level they have been they'll move on up and out of Michigan's way.
Madison is the closest regional to Michigan this year, which is really frustrating. Michigan should be submitting bids every year for wherever: Yost, The Palace, Fort Wayne, Kalamazoo... anywhere. There's no CCHA regional this year at all, which is outrageous. At least Madison in its current incarnation would be slightly pro-Michigan (and mostly empty).
However, Wisconsin is one of four WCHA teams currently lurking just outside the tourney. If they make it, they'll be placed in Madison and Michigan will either be playing a bunch of Eastern teams out east or Wisconsin in Madsion. Congratulations, #1 seed.
Every year the NCAA screws something or another up and ends up with a largely abandoned regional, and now that the tournament is at 16 teams there's little reward for picking up that precious top seed. One-and-done hockey is such a random way to decide things that top seed should be given as many benefits as they can. Isn't it time for home regionals? Attendance problems: solved.
Patchwork. (HA!) Max Pacioretty should be back this weekend:
"It looks better every day. It looks good. I'm optimistic that he'll be ready to play," Berenson said after practice on Wednesday afternoon.
"He brings a physical game and good puck touches. His passing is excellent. He's a threat to score. As you've seen, he's one of our more physical forwards. He gives that line some real stature as far as being able to contribute offensively."
"It's feeling much better," Pacioretty continued. "I haven't had much contact in practice so I can't tell if it's really ready to go through a game yet, but it's definitely an improvement from last week."
That's good. I like Tim Miller and all, but Pacioretty is a clear upgrade.
Well, which is it? TJ Hensick was passed over for the Hobey Baker award last year in favor of North Dakota's Ryan Duncan, a sophomore who scored 12 fewer points than him despite playing in two extra games. Compounding the insult was Hensick's exclusion from the "Hobey Hat Trick". The other two finalists were Air Force's Eric Ehn -- the hockey equivalent of inviting Colt Brennan to the Heisman ceremony -- and Notre Dame goalie David Brown. (Since LSSU's Jeff Jakatis was inexplicably passed over, Brown was a deserving-ish candidate on a very strong Notre Dame team, but that's neither here nor there.)
The general defense for this was that the Hobey Baker award "isn't just about statistics". O RLY?
|Year||Player||Pos||Pts||Scoring Rank (PPG)|
|2006||Matt Carle||D||11-42-53||10th (T-1st amongst D)|
|2002||Jordan Leopold||D||20-28-48||28th (1st amongst D)|
In Carle's winning year the other defender who had that many points 1) only played 33 games and 2) played in Atlantic Hockey. In Lessard's winning year everyone in front of him played at least four fewer games than he did; in terms of raw points he was the nation's top performer.
In 2001, Ryan Miller's sick 1.32 GAA and .950 save percentage won; College Hockey Stats only goes back to that season. However, IIRC, Chris Drury, Jason Krog, and Brendan Morrison were all the nation's leading scorers the years they won; only BC defenseman Mike Mottau stands out as a Hobey winner without preposterous statistics, and even he put up 6-37-43.
In the decade before TJ Hensick was passed over every forward who got the Hobey Baker led the nation in points. When defensemen won it, with one exception, it was because they had extraordinary offensive seasons for defensemen. When a goalie won it, it was because he had extraordinary statistics.
TJ came along and he was short and had a rep for selfishness and got a ten minute misconduct in Michigan's loss to North Dakota and then all of a sudden it was just about the statistics despite the copious evidence that, yes, it was basically just all about the statistics. Then they gave it to a sophomore who wasn't even the best player on his line. (That would be Jonathan Toews, now in the NHL. Toews was injured for a significant portion of last year, during which period Duncan's productivity fell dramatically.) It was a travesty.
That travesty was justified because the Hobey "wasn't just about the statistics," right? So how irritating is stuff like this from Elliot Olshansky*?
So here we are, talking about Gerbe in the Hobey race, and obviously, there are some people who are very unhappy about it, largely because they really can't stand Gerbe.
Well, guess what? It really doesn't matter.
To his credit, a large reason Olshanksy thinks it doesn't matter is because Porter, as the nation's leading scorer and captain of a 22-2-0 team with one, count 'em -- everybody now, even Ohio State fans can get to one --, one other senior, is the appropriate choice. This isn't really about Porter. It's about Hensick, because people's personal feelings damn sure mattered last year
Hensick was widely regarded as a lock for the top three and a very strong contender just two weeks before his infamous misconduct (because we all know that the standard of refereeing in college hockey is just killer.) Then he said the wrong thing and the wrong time and was dropped from consideration.
As Olshansky noted when the "Hat Trick" was announced:
I'm just as surprised by Hensick's exclusion as I am by Ehn's inclusion. Really, when do you see a senior who's leading the nation in scoring wind up out of the Hat Trick? I guess the 10-minute misconduct that kept him out of action down the stretch in the North Dakota game really hurt him. I don't know if he'd have won if not for that, but I have to imagine it kept him out of the top three.
Hensick got a misconduct for talking to a referee and the fancypants Hobey committee decided he was no longer suitable for its award. If they don't turn their nose up at a guy who was suspended for a series of unsportsmanlike acts that culminated in the butt-ending of an opposing player, they'll be a bigger joke than the Heisman. The Hobey committee established that last year; to go back would be the rankest sort of hypocrisy.
In other news, I am still really, really mad about Hensick getting shafted last year.
*(Would like to make it clear here that I don't mean to rip on Olshansky, who was confused and maybe a little upset about the Hensick exclusion a year ago; this makes his position on Gerbe consistent.)
Ah, right. State comes to town Friday for what should be a racuous Yost crowd on par with some of the late 90s ones; Michigan will visit the Morgue on Saturday. State has a shiny record and high ranking, but there's one ugly series of numbers that points out some hollowness in their achievements: 1-5-3, State's record against TUCs.* Their schedule rank is 26th, worse than Michigan's 22nd. They've had some embarrassing losses, foremost among them getting swept at the GLI. They appear good, but not great.
MSU has no standouts but does have a number of quality forwards spread across two scoring lines: Bryan Lerg, Justin Abdelkader, Tim Kennedy, Matt Schepke, Tim Crowder, etc. They've got a ton of guys around 20 points; Kennedy leads the team with 27. Midget superman Jeff Lerg continues to play well in goal with a .922 save percentage and a 2.28 GAA.
Michigan faces a couple of difficulties against State: Lerg (goalie version) is quick as hell from side to side, which makes Michigan's favored power play tactic of one-time bombs less effective than normal, and the diffuse nature of MSU scoring makes it difficult to throw Mark Mitera on the ice and direct him to destroy all chances. (Also: frankly, Mitera had an off weekend against ND.) I'm less concerned about the freshman somehow not being prepared for a game of this magnitude after the 2-0 clawback against Notre Dame in a frenzied Yost; this will be something new for them but not that new.
I think a split is likely with a Michigan sweep far more probable than vice-versa.
*(TUC == Team Under Consideration == the top 25 teams in RPI.
I have been really cranky for like a solid week or two around these parts, and it culminates today. I promise to spend the weekend repeating SERENITY NOW and will come back slightly more well adjusted.
Whee! I'm late on this, but Chad Henne had a disturbing quote at the Senior Bowl (where he did very well, by all accounts):
"I think it's going to be a lot different," he said. "(Rodriguez) is bringing the whole spread offense, and a lot of the quarterbacks are looking elsewhere.
"Ryan Mallett already transferred and two of the other quarterbacks are staying for spring ball to see what happens. It's definitely a change at the quarterback position, and we'll see how it works in the Big 10."
There are only two other quarterbacks on scholarship, those being David Cone and Steven Threet. Cone was a complete flyer taken the year before Mallett's recruitment -- ran mostly veer option in HS despite being as nimble as John Navarre -- who was apparently behind walk-on Nick Sheridan this year; suffice it to say that flyer didn't exactly work out.
Threet, on the other hand, was a well-regarded QB prospect (#9 QB to Rivals and a Rivals 250 member) who won the Georgia Tech backup job before transferring to Michigan in the fall. Even if Michigan reels in Pryor, he might be preferred in certain situations. If they don't he's the presumptive favorite to start this fall.
Olden Days. More from Wolverine Historian and Bob Ufer, this the 1969 Ohio State game:
There's also a reel of Tom Harmon highlights and a recap of the 2002 Washington game:
I particularly like the Washington clips because they tell the story of the game well. Wolverine Historian is a hero striding among us, but sometimes it's a little weird watching a bunch of highlights from a tight game and only seeing the good things.
Casualty? ND DT Pat Kuntz, who for some reason ND fans are all agush about -- he got destroyed by Justin Boren, thus paving the way for unmet expectations the rest of the year -- is leaving Notre Dame temporarily:
The 6-foot-3, 285-pound junior, speaking from his home in Indianapolis, would not elaborate further on why he was not at school. Because of privacy laws, the university could not comment on Kuntz's status other than to say he is not enrolled, said Brian Hardin, director of football media relations.
Kuntz is enrolled at "Ivy Tech" in Indianapolis, a college so fake-sounding it could be in one of those Allstate commercials, for "personal reasons" BGS suggests boil down to "somehow not able to maintain eligibility at freakin' Notre Dame." No doubt the sociology is even more remedial at Ivy Tech.
Also gonzo is Derrell Hand, who you may remember from his hilarious (because his name is hand, see!) solicitation arrest last offseason. He has a spinal condition and can no longer play. Interesting factoid about Hand: way back when Marques Slocum was in high school, he and Hand were teammates who played right next to each other on what must have been an amazing high school line. Both have met internet infamy, Hand with his arrest and Slocum with the whole fuck lion thing.
Notre Dame's troubles should marginally aid a questionable Michigan line's performance in the Notre Dame game. Sophomore Ian Williams will be the NT, career disappointment Justin Brown one DE, and either Kuntz or someone hastily switched to the position at the other DE. The other option is that some of those freshmen will hit the field right away.
BGS also mentions that sophomore-to-be Bartley Webb is leaving due to a medical issue; about all you need to know about him is that he hardly played on last year's abomination of a line... so, yeah.
While we're on the topic of Notre Dame, Deadspin's been giddy about reports that Dana Jacobsen, a Michigan alum, got blotto at a roast for Mike & Mike and said intemperate things. An anonymous tipster unfamiliar with the proper use of the shift key says these things were said:
f... Notre dame"
and - the step-aside-because-lightning-is-about-to-strike... "f.... Jesus."
Several reports are now contradicting that last one, leaving the only confirmed Jacobsen comments to be directly anti-ND ones. Then there are reports contradictory to the contradictory reports.
Do I care? Not really. Is this a wonderful opportunity to scour ND Nation for insanity? Absolutely. The Nation sees this as blatant anti-Catholic discrimination. And there can be only one force behind it:
A typical filthy lewd hateful product of a hateful bigoted corrupt school - it is no mistake their tradition was founded by virtual Klansman hillbilly Fielding Yost - the tradition continues. People will attempt to sluff off what jacobson said as the ravings of the drunkard - actually they reflect the deep-seated animus and hate inculcated by Michigan as an institution toward the small Catholic school to the South. The hate speech she brought out of the closet reflects the true and inherent hate that school has and has always fostered toward ND. Anyone who has seen how Notre Dame people are treated when we play there knows that what Jacobson said is not something small or isolated.
It was a valiant effort by West Virginia's fanbase, but nothing can match NDNation for pure derangement. (There are outposts of sanity in the like solid week of conversation about something Jacobsen may or may not have said at a roast, -- a roast, people -- but right: solid week of conversation about it.)
Etc.: You've no doubt seen these, but testy emails to and fro between Rodriguez's agent and various AD honchos detail the deteriorating relationship between the two parties. As mentioned, the only way Rodriguez was going to end up leaving was because of severe personal acrimony between the two parties. Yes, WVU fans, Rodriguez's agent comes off like a jerk.
Update 1/25: Added FL QB BJ Daniels, FL WR Martavious Odoms, OH OT Patrick Omameh. Linked to articles on FL QB Justin Feagin, MI DE Nick Perry, SC CB JT Floyd. There's also an extensive piece on Big Ten recruiting classes at ESPN; though ESPN's proven itself useless in the prediction business, their opinions on recruits' talent are an interesting data point.
Removed PA WR Vaughn Carraway (dropped us).
Editorial Opinion: This is why SC CB JT Floyd sports a blue smiley on the recruiting board:
"I would definitely say Michigan fans will be happy, but I'm going to leave it at that," Floyd said after returning home. "I want to talk it over with my parents first, take this last visit (to Tennessee) and get everything squared away."
The UT visit is a downer, but that's as close as you can come to committing without actually committing. Since he's already very familiar with UT -- he committed to them as a junior, remember -- it's unlikely anything they can show him will sway his opinion.
One more for the "eeee Barwis" pile from Floyd:
"Just the vibe of the football players, I think they're excited about the new change," said Floyd. "Everybody's real anxious to get to work, and that strength and conditioning coach â€” he's one of the best in the nation. The players gravitate to him. I think the Michigan football program is definitely moving in a positive direction."
That same article is kind of a recruiting roundup piece with quotes from Brandon Moore...
Moore, like Cissoko and Martin, has already committed to the Wolverines. He said he came away very excited about his future in Ann Arbor.
"They told me about how they use the tight end," he explained. "They told me he'll be flexed out sometimes, he'll be like the H-back position sometimes. They said that's how they're going to use me, in a position like that. It's kind of like the thing that I was doing at my high school."
The fans were real nice and the players I met seemed cool. I don't remember a whole lot of names, but they were nice. And Coach (Rich) Rodriguez has brought his entire staff with him from West Virginia, so nothing is going to change. That's the offense he wants to run, and he'd like me to run it."
...that aren't exactly chock full of news.
MI DE Nick Perry told the Detroit News what he told USC's Scout site over the weekend:
"I just liked the environment, the surroundings," Perry said of USC. "I was around good people there -- the players, the coaches. Yes, I feel I could fit in. The need for defensive ends is great there. They want me to come in and compete (for the position) right away.
"I'm not going to commit until signing day. They wanted me to, but they're not pressuring me."
Perry is really, really wrong about USC's "need for defensive ends" -- in this class and the last USC already has six commits at the position, including five-star Everson Griffen and four other four-stars -- but Pete Carroll has the super power mushroom version of whatever weird mind control juju Ron Zook is working. Perry will visit this weekend, at which point we'll have a pretty good idea whether or not the USC buzz was temporary and if Michigan can land him.
Quarterback continues to see names emerge, mostly in Florida. Two kids who would like to play quarterback but are mostly getting defensive back offers appear interested in Michigan but wary of a potential Pryor commitment. Justin Feagin, mentioned previously, is an under the radar sort who gets highly positive reviews from locals. He appears a realistic sort:
At first I had to tell Mom that everyone wasn't telling the truth," Feagin said with a laugh. "I mean, there are things that any coach will say to get you on campus and onto the football field. You have to know which ones are sincere and, of course, those who are just saying things to make it all sound good."
This is going to be a pretty stupid statement, but I like the kid's quotes a lot:
"The experience is demanding," Feagin said. "But I wouldn't change what I'm going through right now with anyone. This is the most exciting time of my life."
He sounds like the type of guy who works like a dog. As mentioned: stupid generalization.
BJ Daniels is the other name out there, and he seems like more of a thrower:
This season, the Lincoln coaching staff scrapped the more conventional offense of years' past for a spread attack designed to utilize Daniels' skills as a runner and a passer.
It turned out to be a pretty good idea.
Daniels tallied 3,456 total yards (2,552 passing, 904 rushing) by himself in leading Lincoln to a 10-2 record. ..."This year I wanted to focus more on passing," Daniels said. "I didn't want to take off running as much, unless it was third or fourth down and we needed a first down.
"Passing is something that I wanted to do. Running is something that I can do. It's just an extra thing."
This highlight video shows a guy who scrambles around with an intent to pass:
He's got some shake, too:
Daniels is a four-star outside of the top 250 to Rivals and is most heavily considering Mem
phis and South Florida because he really wants to play quarterback. Michigan would seem a slam dunk over those two programs, especially with Matt Grothe returning for his junior year at USF, but the threat of Pryor looms large. Hopefully he'll wait to see what happens with him; I doubt USF can seriously pass up a guy like him if he wants to wait until Signing Day.
And then, right, Pryor. There are four articles above if you're interested, but only one says anything that isn't MOTS. It's from the Cleveland Plain-Dealer and the interesting passage goes like so:
A source close to Pryor said Wednesday that Batch has become the point person in Pryor's recruitment and that other connections from the Jeannette business community, like DeNunzio, are not involved. That's why, the source said, Tressel recently called Batch and asked him to come with Pryor to Columbus, though Pryor already made his official visit to Ohio State on Nov. 2.
It was unknown whether a second Ohio State trip will take place.
Pryor doesn't live with either of his parents, instead residing in Jeannette with his godfather, Willie Burns. Pryor said of Batch in his newspaper diary, "I trust him a lot. When I go on these visits, I think he'll know who's telling the truth just by sitting there and listening."
I'd like to emphasize the following is all speculative; given Pryor's public indecision speculation is all we have to go on.
"DeNunzio" above is a 78-year-old restaurant owner in Jeannette who was a prominent banker in town for 45 years; reading between the lines on "other connections from the Jeannette business community" is not hard to do. This falls into Ray Reitz's line about Pryor's "friends" needing to understand that Pryor must do what's best for him -- presumably to take the open starting job at a school guaranteed to run the offense Pryor was born to operate.
Batch has been at the head of the Pryor recruitment for a couple weeks now and hasn't met Jim Tressel; this worries Tressel and pleases me. I'm not exactly optimistic but maybe I'm less pessimistic now, especially since Pryor intends to take a couple more official visits.
OSU fans are, as you might expect, displeased with the Pryor items over the last couple days:
Leading the charge in trying to unravel something is MGoBlog, which is really a shame, because Brian has spent the better part of the past two weeks railing against the "jihad" WVU has launched against Rodriguez.
Two major differences: I am not a member of the Michigan athletic department with a credulous reporter in hand, and I am not making obviously false statements like "it's like nothing ever existed." I am making a fairly logical leap from "OSU fans are basically Alabamans" and "OSU coaches are having dinner with a guy who lets Pryor borrow his Corvette" to "something fishy is going on." Point the second has been covered over the past couple days and has been confirmed by Jeanette locals, OSU's Scout site, and Scout guru Bob Lichtenfels.
Point the first: Basically Alabama. Ohio State boosters are awesome. Local dealerships are exceptionally generous with their test-drive programs:
Clarett sat out the 2003 season after he was charged with misdemeanor falsification for filing a police report claiming that more than $10,000 in clothing, CDs, cash and stereo equipment was stolen from a car he borrowed from a local dealership. He later pleaded guilty to a lesser charge.
Ohio State suspended Clarett for misleading investigators, and for receiving special benefits worth thousands of dollars from a family friend.
"Family friend" indeed. A poor kid from Youngstown in his first year in Columbus just happens to have a close personal friend who owns a car dealership.
You can find super-awesome jobs:
During his sophomore season, after he claimed the starting quarterback job and beat Michigan â€” a feat that cinches your celebrity in Columbus â€” he walked into a local health-care provider looking for a summer job and came out carrying an envelope with $500 in it. The cash was given to him by an Ohio State season-ticket holder named Robert Q. Baker, who bragged to co-workers that he owned Smith.
You can find a place to live:
Salyers claims the Roslovics reneged on a verbal agreement, allegedly orchestrated by then Ohio State assistant coach Paul Biancardi, to pay her $1,000 a month plus reimburse expenses if she would provide for Savovic during his time at Ohio State. In depositions, Salyers describes how over a four-year period she became a surrogate mother to Savovic, giving him food, shelter, clothing, transportation, spending money and other expenses.
(It should be noted, given the OSU denials later in that article, that Savovic was later declared ineligible and OSU was forced to vacate the games he played.)
There's a pattern of behavior here even if you don't include the documentation of widespread academic fraud in the New York Times, the Maurice Clarett ESPN the Magazine story, and the $3000 AJ Hawk just happened to have lying around. (I know Hawk looks like a caveman, but he's probably heard of a bank.) It involves Ohio State fans with lots of money ignoring NCAA regulations. Sure, all these things could be a completely innocent athletic department beset on all sides by those who would destroy it without cause. Occam's razor says otherwise.
(No doubt this assertion will draw "OMG Ed Martin" responses from the yokel crowd. 1) Ed Martin is not a pattern, he's a dead guy. 2) Martin was a Detroit numbers-runner looking to ingratiate himself with local basketball talent and maybe launder a few hundred grand or so, not a super-enthusiastic booster. Until Martin was provided gratis Final Four tickets he had no connection with the program. You are comparing one outlier with no real interest in Michigan's athletic program except as the most conveniently local source of potential NBA players to a pattern of malfeasance; you are stupid.)
Ohio State fans saying "I'm shocked, shocked!" when the pristine reputation of their athletic department is brought into question is somewhere between comical and infuriating. Please. Just because you've managed to rationalize it away doesn't mean everyone else has to.
Does it matter in the long run? Likely no. The NCAA has all the investigative might of Inspector Clouseau. The appearance of funny stuff will remain but an appearance.
The bigger issue here is Pryor's eligibility. Michigan fans remember the glorious three-month period when Kevin Gaines wasn't a psychopath, Jamal Crawford was eligible, and Michigan basketball looked like it was on the upswing under Brian Ellerbe of all people, and cringe. This is what happened to young Jamal:
Jamal Crawford is a rookie with the Chicago Bulls and making a lot of money. But Crawford still wishes he was playing basketball at Michigan.
"I miss college a lot," he said. "I live in a college area now because I like to be around college kids."
Crawford felt trapped last year when he decided to leave Michigan following his freshman season.
He already had served an eight-game suspension for one mistake -- sending the NBA a letter that said he intended to enter the 1999 draft before he enrolled in college. He had missed six other games and was ordered to repay $15,000 in benefits to a Seattle businessman, whom he had lived with for three years during high school. The NCAA later said he could give $11,300 to the charity of his choice. If he didn't pay, Crawford would lose his eligibility.
The infinite kindness of the NCAA: instead of paying the Seattle businessman 15 grand you don't have, you can give Jerry's Kids 11 grand you don't have. Crawford entered the draft, blew up at a pre-draft camp, and was picked 8th overall as Michigan fans clutched their head between their knees in a futile attempt to keep it from exploding.
Crawford was a nice kid with a lack of foresight who got offered stuff and, as most people would, accepted. Pryor's been offered stuff and has evidently accepted. How much stuff and how much of a paper trail there is will determine if the NCAA comes knocking.
It would be just like Angry Michigan Safety Hating God to allow Pryor to commit to Michigan, start six games his freshman year, and then have the NCAA pull a Crawford; this is kind of what I expect to happen because recent experience has taught me that this is what I should expect.