I'VE HAD JUST ABOUT ENOUGH OF YOU SONNY
This one's abbreviated as I haven't found much to link of late.
The second is more dangerous -- the diehard pessimists. The pessimists weasel in close to the players, talk on the call-in shows and post their blogs wherever possible. They harp on the facts as they see them. And they only see bad, as they moan, "You know, this coach should not be here. We don't like him at all. We have not beaten a real football team, and we never will. All these folks that get excited have not been around here very long. We always lose."
I for one, am outraged. You cannot post a "blog." You can post ON a blog, but an individual entry in a blog is not a blog. It is an article or a post. This is akin to calling a slice of bread "a bread" or an article in a magazine "a magazine." It's a sin against the langauge. Curry's not alone in this unfortunate usage--it must be stopped.
What, I was supposed to be outraged about something else?
Coverage map: here.
A kindred spirit! Wonkdown.
Look! I can be nice to media! John Walters has an interesting piece on holding this week in which he proposes the extremely wacky idea of outfitting offensive linemen with gloves that prevent them from grabbing opponents and then gets this response:
"The gloves idea is thrown out there every year," Gaston says. "It just never gets passed."
Sweet fancy Moses! Seriously? One problem that leaps out at me is that there are certain situations (fumbles, mostly) where an offensive lineman has just as much of a right to the ball as anyone else on the field and in said situations the gloves or whatever would be detrimental. A corner case, granted, but one to consider.
There is also some discussion of the MSU game I'll offer my own comments on:
5. Can anyone explain to me why former Michigan QB Tom Brady's fumble against the Oakland Raiders back in 2002 was not a fumble and yet current Michigan QB Chad Henne's fumble against Michigan State on Saturday was? I don't want to hear about the tuck rule, I want to hear common sense. Clearly Brady was less in the act of throwing the ball than Henne was. If we're on the playground, the calls are reversed.
Well, in answer to your query, "no." But the NFL and college games have different rulesets so your rationale here is something of a strawman.
7. Great, great, great information from ABC's Brent Musberger during the Michigan-Michigan State game on Saturday. ... Musberger (and it was likely a researcher or an associate producer who scored this info for him) noted that a Spartan assistant coached with the Wolverines last season, so Lloyd Carr was concerned that Michigan State would steal Michigan's offensive play calls from the sideline. For that reason Michigan had three backup quarterbacks stand side-by-side, each one flashing a play call in to Henne. Two of the calls were decoys. Cut to photo of three Wolverines in baseball caps gesticulating toward Henne. That, and not another Big and Rich music video, is what a true college football fan craves.
Er... point taken on your last sentence and I agree with the spirit of your comment, but it's laden with irony since it's Michigan defensive line coach Steve Stripling who's the turncoat in this rivalry and unless Sargeant Slaughter was replaced by a robot spy Michigan had no reason to worry about signal stealing. Deeper analysis (like Lynn Swann pointing out that Manningham's post route was preceded by Michigan WR coach Erik Campbell screaming at him to decrease his split) is sadly lacking in televised coverage and excites me to no end when I hear it, but thees ees not the example to cite.
OVERTIME: You cannot please everyone, of course, but one way to make sure that you do not, ABC, is to switch away from a fantastic Michigan-Michigan State game after the first overtime because you are obligated to show fans (in my particular case, for example) Minnesota at Penn State in its entirety.
I have a bitch about the other end of the Minnesota/PSU game, which was in the late stages of a 30-point blowout when I got back from the MSU. Across the country, #1 Southern Cal was trailing Arizona State. I, sitting in Michigan, continued to get the mind-numbing garbage time of the Gopher game while something that did not suck was happening elsewhere. Why do you torture me so, ABC?
Also on SI.com: Dr. Z. I have absolutely no way to link this to anything but it's an interesting column on blitzing in the wake of the Michigan State game in which (I believe) we did it very infrequently, tried to contain the Spartan offense as much as we could, and won despite giving up 455 yards. People would be screaming from the rooftops about it had we lost. FTR, I think it was probably the right decision but would have liked to see more blitzes off the slot guy designed to prevent Stanton from rolling out constantly.
Hurray, that's the poll hurray. If you're interested, you can see all the individual ballots here.
The big story this week is 'Bama's vault into the top ten after doing something radioactive to Florida on Saturday. 'Bama's ascendancy proves that the key to winning college football games is having your bigshot mainstream media alums be nice to bloggers--note that Skip Bayless and his beloved Sooners are both struggling to explain... well, anything. (And blogging phoenix SMQB... Oklahoma? Really?)
We have some consensus at the top, where the three lowest-deviation teams all reside (this is unsurprising due to math), but it's cats in a bag once you get past Team Albuquerque at #3.
Welcome back to Michigan (left the poll last week), Auburn (left after week 1), and Penn State (left sometime after the Nixon Administration). This year's trend appears to be Big Ten whack-a-mole wherein whoever pops their head up and looks like a decent team immediately gets throttled shamefully, so watch out Wisconsin and Penn State.
Now on to the extracurriculars. First up are the teams which spur the most and least disagreement between voters as measured by standard deviation. Note that the standard deviation charts halt at #25 when looking for the lowest, otherwise teams that everyone agreed were terrible (say, Eastern Michigan) would all be at the top.
The deviation makes a lot of sense this week: tops is played no-one-really (unless you count Kansas--iffy) Texas Tech, followed by are-they-for-real Penn State and what-do-I-do-with-these-guys Arizona State.
Ballot math: First up are "Mr. Bold" and "Mr. Numb Existence." The former goes to the voter with the ballot most divergent from the poll at large. The number you see is the average difference between a person's opinion of a team and the poll's opinion.
Mr. Bold is boifromtroy, who has ND at #5 (plausible, but I think what we're finding out is that ND's schedule features a sampler plate of the most overrated teams in the country: Michigan, Pitt, Purdue), Cal at #7, Florida State and Miami down a ways at #15 and #16, and Rutgers at #24... Rutgers? That's not exactly Idaho... but if BFT wants to convince me that he'd bet on the Scarlet Knights versus #25 Penn State I'm listening. One thing: 3-2 Michigan at #18 and 5-0, Michigan-beating Wisconsin at #19 seems specifically designed to send Bruce Ciskie into a cheese-destroying rage.
Mr. Numb Existence is Bruins Nation, even though they're one of five voters with Texas #1. The metric doesn't weight top slots heaviest--should it? Input desired.
Next we have the Coulter/Krugman Award and the Straight Bangin' Award, which are again different sides of the same coin. The CKA and SBA go to the blogs with the highest and lowest bias rating, respectively. Bias rating is calculated by subtracting the blogger's vote for his own team from the poll-wide average. A high number indicates you are shameless homer. A low number indicates that you suffer from an abusive relationship with your football team.
The CK Award goes to Georgia Tech bloggers Golden Tornado, but I think this more on us than on him. Tech gets nuked by Virginia Tech and the Special Teams Spectacular, has an off week, we all neglect to consider that the Jackets beat Auburn pretty handily earlier in the year, and just shove the Tigers up because we forgot all about week one. As a result, GT's GT ranking of #18 nets it the top spot in this category because the rest of us screwed up.
The Straight Bangin' Award goes to... er, yeah. Straight Bangin', who left Michigan out of his poll after the MSU victory. It's not unreasonable to have a 3-2 team with two MAC wins out of the poll and I had 'em at #24 (and finished #5 in the increasingly tight confines of these categories) so I won't bash him too hard.
Swing is essentially the total change in each ballot from last week to this week (obviously voters who didn't submit a ballot last week are not included). A high number means you are easily distracted by shiny things. A low number means that you're damn sure you're right no matter what reality says.
Mr. Manic-Depressive is Bruins Nation again, largely because they weren't 'Bama believers and had to run them way up the line from #20, liked Penn State enough to debut them at #16, and punished MSU heavi
ly for their loss.
Mr. Stubborn is... still broken. Apologies. Blogpoll related work is going into a project that needs to be up and running by November (3... 2... 1... duh!).
Wait! Before you go, there are nefarious plans in the works. The blogpoll is a community, and what's a community unless you can't hand out provincial awards to each other? The night of the Rose Bowl will also be the night another Mythical National Championship gets handed out, but this one will go to one of our foot-blog brethren. Awards will be handed out. However, other than a few obvious categories (Best Blog, Best Contribution To The Lingo, Best Recurring Feature, Best Writer, etc...) there's a big empty spot. Please leave suggestions for various accomplishments we can celebrate at the end of a productive year in our little Interniche.
Comments welcomed, as always.
|1||Southern Cal||Well, they won, though it wasn't easy. ASU's probably the best team they'll face this year.|
|3||Virginia Tech||Triplets to follow.|
|4||Ohio State||DNP. Essentially the same team as Virginia Tech.|
|5||Florida State||Beat sitting duck Syracuse 38-14 and seem to have put together an offense to go with their defense, which is kinda good. Essentially the same team as Ohio State.|
|6||Alabama||SWEET FANCY MOSES. Suggestion for Mike Shula: don't sleep with anyone. ANYONE.|
|7||Miami||That CU win looks better now, as does the FSU loss. USF is apparently no pushover.|
|8||Michigan State||I have a hard time believing anyone will slow this offense down more than Michigan did, which wasn't very much at all.|
|9||Tennessee||Another iffy offensive performance. I cannot make any sense of the SEC.|
|11||Arizona State||What do you do with this team? They've lost to LSU and USC, but have played well in each loss and have one of the country's most explosive offenses. At this point in the year I think they're one of the country's better teams and thus here they go. A third loss will be met with harsh reassessment.|
|12||Notre Dame||Dismantled Purdue in a win much like the Pitt one, in both good and bad ways.|
|13||Florida||What the hell? At this point you just have to say the offense is extremely wonky.|
|14||LSU||Yeah... Les Miles is no longer on my "desirable Carr successor" list.|
|15||Boston College||Functional DNP vs. Ball State.|
|16||Cal||28-0 versus Arizona is their best performance to date, but this team is largely benefiting from the struggles of others.|
|17||Wisconsin||Indiana stats seem pretty sketchy and despite the 3-0 start, the Hoosiers are Not Good. But they're 5-0 and beat Michigan.|
|18||UCLA||Dude. Washington is not good.|
|20||Penn State||Okay, they're 5-0 and they thumped Minnesota, but let's be serious: they have no quarterback. Robinson was 13 for 32. They mostly just ground out a ton of rushing yards against a bad defense.|
|21||Auburn||I believe I was sleeping on Auburn earlier.|
|22||Texas Tech||You still haven't played anyone, unless Kansas is "anyone." (They aren't.)|
|23||Louisville||Fine. You return. Upward mobility will be hard to come by.|
|24||Michigan||If Henne plays like that and Hart plays like that we're back in business.|
|25||Minnesota||The Big Ten: specializing in making Brian look dumb since 2005.|
Dropped Out: Iowa State(#18), Purdue(#19), Texas A&M(#22) (The Aggies have a loss to Clemson, a win against I-AA Texas State in which they gave up 31 points, a stomping of SMU, and an OT win against... Baylor), Virginia(#25)
Games I Saw: Michigan-MSU, Purdue-ND, garbage time in PSU/Minnesota and 'Bama/UF, parts of Arizona-Cal.
Help Requested: Please make some goddamn sense of the SEC for me. And what am I supposed to do with the bottom of the poll? Am I crazy for leaving the Spartans way up there? Do I enjoy Dijon mustard far too much? Please inform.
Update: Swapped Auburn and Georgia Tech after GT blogger Nathan pointed out the similar resumes and the head-to-head Jackets win. And papa don't preach, I'm keepin' MSU at #8. OSU-MSU should be an interesting game. Someone's rush offense/defense will be proven for realz.
2007 forward Matt Rust, a member of the USNDTP U-17 team, has committed to Michigan according to Chris Heisenberg. I'm under the impression that Rust is a high-end but not super-duper recruit, closer to a Kevin Porter than an Andrew Cogliano. He's a good pickup and Michigan's first forward in the class.
More later; you can see an overview of Michigan's hockey recruit efforts at The Wolverine.
Update: USHR on Rust's NTDP tryout:
7. Matt Rust, 5-9Â½/172, Bloomfield Hills, Mich., Honeybaked Midget Major -- Small, but does some really nice things. Very good early on, then hurt his shoulder and didn't play last game at all. All a moot point because he was offered a spot on team last fall and accepted.
Here's Red Line Report on Rust:
26 AAA Matt Rust LC Honeybaked Major 98 5'10 172
Strong on his skates, excellent 1 on 1 skills, pure finisher, star quality, very good change of pace, competes when he wants to, weak in his own end; can dominate when he wants to; great acceleration; quick stick; creates contact; doesn't always battle; heading to US NTDP, already committed; turns it off and on; when he does compete hard, he's outstanding; plays a physical style despite his lack of size, but can come back to bite him with injuries, as he did at NTDP camp hurting shoulder
and just for kicks here's the same report on '07 commit Tristan Llewellyn:
2 AAA Tristan Llewellyn RD Indiana Ice USHL 3 6'2 188
Perfect size, takes 1 hand off stick too much, looks to hurt guys, heavy shot, strong kid, bad discipline at times, great feet, forces the action in all three zones; has all the tools; playing a lot against high-level older competition; long, powerful stride with quickness and acceleration; ultra aggressive; physical presence; needs to read situations a bit better; Confident with the puck, loves to lug it up ice. Excellent mobility, sees ice well and makes crisp outlets. Hard and accurate shot; plays mean; earning a reputation already as a 15-year old in USHL; verbal commitment to Michigan for 2007
Matt Rust/LC - Honeybaked Major Midget. 5-10/172. 3/23/89. Played aggressively; hits hard despite lack of size. Excellent balance. Threads the needle on tough passes. Competed very well, which is his biggest issue. Did not play on Tuesday due to injured shoulder.
I love me some lingo and Warren St. John's come up with a neologism for Michigan fans everywhere: "Hennebriated."
I'll return the favor: Prothrolled, v: to be struck with vast, undeserved misfortune during a celebration; the act of inflicting undeserved misfortune in same situation. Did you hear what happened to Job? His daughter's wedding was prothrolled by ravenous brain-eating zombies.
The replay situation was hashed over at Football Outsiders and in the comments on the post about the controversial play. Commenter Volpundit points out that I failed to cite a relevant portion of the rule:
"c. When in question, the ball is passed and not fumbled during an attempted forward pass."
Maize from WCH plays devil's advocate:
I guess if the situation were reversed, I would say that you're right about the arm moving forward, but once his arm passes the release point, I would think that that play stops being a forward pass, and therefore, that would make it a fumble.
The problem is that Henne is hit before his arm passes the release point, at which point his intent ceases to be relevant. Since the forward motion of the arm has begun and he is clearly in a throwing motion when the defender impacts him, if the ball comes out at all, it is an incomplete pass.
Others bring up a new tendency for refs to let a play go when it is in doubt and then allow replay to correct any potential error. It seems clear referees are doing this, which makes sense on one level--once a play is blown dead you get the old "inadvertent whistle" business and an incorrect call is thus forced to stand--but is problematic when the referee's onfield decision is assumed to be correct when he doesn't really know. The Brady Quinn fumble in the ND game is a clear example of this thinking. Quinn was obviously down, but the referees decided to call it all and let replay sort it out. Alton suggests a solution:
Perhaps what is necessary is to invent a new signal to indicate that the refs have made no call, and the replay official is responsible for determining the correct call. Perhaps placing both hands over the eyes, then shrugging and pointing to the press box.
I agree with this idea and believe that close plays should be allowed to continue until their completion, at which time the referees should make a call that reflects their confidence in their decision. Peko should have been allowed to run into the end zone and then an incompletion should have been called. It's okay to be unsure now.
On the other hand, DC Wolverine tells replay to go to hell:
Until this season, Michigan has been very fortunate with instant replay - 90 percent or more of the calls went our way. But we've been f***ed in the ass this season. Until they can get these issues sorted out, i'll take human error.
Even with the problems we've experienced, replay has gotten things right that would have stood as wrong earlier and is a net benefit. Without replay we likely lose the Michigan State game because the Barringer interception is ruled an incompletion. If every replay official was like the guy in the Wisconsin game--who quickly identified plays to review, quickly reviewed them, and quickly got them right--this conversation wouldn't even be taking place. The problem is with specific officials who are probably somewhere between 80 years old and carbon-dated who should take a well-deserved retirement somewhere far away from a football stadium.
I have been there. Bleacher Guy has his take on the MSU game from a Spartan viewpoint. Rob's deeply frustrated by years and years of Spartan football that seems like the same old story. Strangely, I felt not even the slightest twinge of pleasure when reading his piece, and I'm an evil man well versed in the joys of schadenfreude. I think this is because Rob and I (and probably you) are foes on one level but on another we're compatriots. We share the bond of fandom and thus I know how Rob feels and because he comes by his feelings honestly I respect those feelings and sympathize instead of mock.
I was struck on my visit to EL by how friendly the MSU-UM rivalry is, probably because most Michigan fans know or are related to MSU fans and vice versa. My own mother (gasp!) went to Michigan State. Joint tailgates were rampant and what trash-talking existed was good natured. Unlike my trips to Columbus, I felt safe walking around campus, if not welcomed with open arms. I've been to Spartan Stadium four times now (once for hockey) and have never had a particularly negative encounter. There have been some yappy frat guys and an elderly man who, incensed at a relative's referee-berating, asked him if he wanted to "come down here and settle it," but each fanbase gets a few Get Out Of Nutcase Free cards and MSU is well within their allotment.
Rob the Fan has no choice but to bemoan yet another missed opportunity by Michigan State just like Brian the Fan gets the screaming fantods whenever Notre Dame and their Luckmobile show up. There's no rationality there, nor should there be.
On the other hand...
Tenuous justification theatre. I'm apparently falling off the "don't rip CFN" bandwagon. Matthew Zemek tries to back up his assertion that "get Michigan State in a really big, high-stakes battle, and the boys in green can't take the heat that goes with being a big boy in college football" with this:
The obvious reason why Spartan slip-ups gave Michigan this victory came in overtime, when MSU missed a field goal after Drew Stanton threw a pick that Michigan dropped. But before that, there were boatloads of other boneheaded plays that conveyed the impression that State didn't want to win this rivalry game. At the end of regulation, an illegal formation penaltyâ€”this, in the fifth week of the season in a money situationâ€”prevented State from having a chance to kick a long field goal for the win. And before that, there was the sorry spectacle of Spartan offensive coordinator Dave Baldwin calling a jaw-dropping left-side run on 3rd and 4 from the Wolverine 6 on an eight-minute drive.
Can we agree to discount the accusation levelled at Dave Baldwin, who happens to be running one of the nation's highest powered offenses? He called a run on third and four. It didn't work. That in no way proves that Michigan State choked the game away, unless you want to scream "chokers" at every team that has ever failed to convert a third and four and subsequently lost. Questioning a specific playcall that did not work is almost always asinine (notable exception: calling a WR pass on the last drive of the UF-UM Outback Bowl). If there is a pattern that limits an offense's effectiveness, that's valid grounds for criticism, but plays do not exist in a vacuum. Baldwin thought the play would work for reasons we as fans do not understand because we do not have all the information he does, and given his results to date and the 455 yards he racked up against Michigan you have to give him the benefit of the doubt. That Michigan State's trick play propensity backfired on them is likewise not evidence of choking. It is part of who the Spartans are. Those plays are indeed high risk and high reward. MSU was unfortunate to get the downside of them in this game.
So you've got a pair of missed field goals--admittedly eh not so good--and a single illegal formation penalty at the end of regulation as sole justification for the assertion that "the team that made more mistakes lost this game, as opposed to the winner making more big plays." Funny how no one's saying that about the Arizona State-USC game in which Sam Keller threw five interceptions.
The idea that Michigan State threw this game away rests on a house of cards. Michigan State's penaltie
s were frequently cited--all 5 of them for 27 yards, the most crucial of which (the roughing the kicker penalty) was a terrible call that should never have been made. Michigan State missed two short field goals, but rather than this being evidence of MSU choking it's merely evidence that they don't have an adequate replacement for Dave Rayner. It's a hole in the MSU team. The assertion that MSU played well below their capacity--that they "choked"--is wrong. Stanton was great. The running game was effective. They scored quite a lot. They had a couple turnovers, which will happen when you run an offense like they do, and they missed a couple field goals, which will happen when your kicker is not good. They also gave up a ton of yards because their defense is pretty bad. But they did not drop an inordinate amount of balls: the MSU receiving corps just isn't that good. They were even in the turnover battle if you discount the half-ending Hail Mary interception. They did not fill the field with penalty flags. They played a good game. They neither played significantly below nor significantly above their average capacity, and in the end Michigan State was outgained and, yes, outplayed by Michigan.
But I guess I can't argue with this:
But if you're going to look at this game as objectively as humanly possible, and offer a studied, discerning examination of the biggest single key in this contest, you have to look to Michigan State's blunders first and the Hart of a Michigan champion second.
More Emperor's New Punditry here, talking grandiosely about your "studied, discerning examination" and then backing it up with very little other than hoary chestnuts about how Michigan State teams past, teams with different players and a different coach, have folded when in reality the Spartans were fortunate to be within two scores at the end of regulation, having received a giftwrapped touchdown due to refereeing of mindboggling incompetence.
Here's a suggestion: instead of claiming that your examination is studied and discerning, just do it and then let other people talk about how studied and discerning you are, you tweed-wearing bubble-pipe-smoking football professor you.
GRRR! Brian cranky!