finally people are complaining about us
It's Bo! In Michigan Stadium! Being Bo! Unfortunately, it's with Mitch Albom. But whatever:
WolverineHistorian also has clips from the '86 Ohio State game.
It's Mike Hart! Mitch Albom is thousands of miles away!
He'll grubberize the left flankenoid! Budding "television presenter" Dhani Jones is going to get his rugby on:
"Because Dhani [pronounced Dee-hah-nee] is a defensive lineman [sic], his catching and passing are the things we need to work on.
"All being well, he will come on the field as a flanker. I don't think it will make much difference whether it's blindside or openside.
"We just have to make sure that when he hits someone it is an opponent who has got the ball and that he's not running an illegal blocking move."
A football fan has no place to criticize obscure minutiae in another sport, but I've taken in a few rugby games and find it utterly incomprehensible. It was fun, though, to sit in polite befuddlement as the people around me went nuts about seemingly irrelevant developments... now I know what it's like for people around me.
Defending the man. Anyone who's read this blog for any length of time knows that it consistently advocates for more aggressive playcalling, especially in the tough-FG-or-pooch-punt area of the field from about the 50 to the opponent's 30. Years of screaming "NO!" at Lloyd Carr have created something of an obsession.
This is a mildly tough position to hold in the aftermath of a Super Bowl that featured one ballsy decision to pass up a 48-yard field goal that led to a turnover on downs and a three-point loss. No doubt some toolish sportswriter who believes in things like heart and thinks math is for pencil-necked commies will seize upon this and write a scathingly dumb article about newfangled methods.
HOWEVA, it should be noted that the Romer paper mostly applies to downs like fourth and three, not fourth and thirteen. This graph is the heart of the paper (click for big; it's a little unintelligible at this size):
The solid line represents the point at which kicking and going for it are equal choices; never does it breach ten yards to go and at the 31 yard line it's begun a steep downward pitch into reasonable FG distance. By my estimation, Romer's paper suggests that going for it on fourth and eight is barely defensible; fourth and thirteen is lunacy.
Hatred! In the aftermath of the MSU series, Yost Built took a look at Michigan's odd power play disparity. You'd expect that Michigan, always one of the best teams in the CCHA, would have an advantage when it comes to power play opportunities, right?
This was the case a few years ago, but not so much now:
2007-08: Michigan: 132, Opponents: 141, 8-14-4
2006-07: Michigan: 241, Opponents: 241, 18-19-4
2005-06: Michigan: 254, Opponents: 233, 22-14-5
2004-05: Michigan: 273, Opponents: 244, 21-12-9
2003-04: Michigan: 241, Opponents: 175, 33-3-7
(Note the NMU series numbers are not in here.) A few theories as to Michigan's progressive downturn here:
- The NCAA went through a brief, wonderful period during which they really cracked down on obstruction, which really helped Michigan; this is less heavily emphasized these days.
- Jack Johnson. Self explanatory, no?
- Steve Piotrowksi.
As in "Steve Piotrowski's retirement". The piece of data from the Yost Built post that leaps off the page:
Piotrowski: 10.4 PPO/game, +66, 27-7-4 over 38 games ...
None of the other refs that we frequently have (double digit times over 5 years) is higher [in PPO +/- for M] than +.65/game, whereas Pio is at +1.74/game for Michigan
Piotrowski was universally acclaimed the best ref in the CCHA and possibly the NCAA. He officiated multiple national championship games during the CCHA prolonged absence from said game and is now the CCHA's director of officials. Now he's gone and Michigan can't buy a hooking penalty.
The King of Rationalization. Friday's emo post about the basketball team contained a complain against the WHO WANTS SOME FREEEEE PIZZAAAAA announcer guy. It turns out that the announcer guy gets around the area, announcing things from Tiger baseball to Eastern Michigan basketball and Toledo Storm hockey. He is well loved by the Storm faithful:
"A LOT OF PEOPLE think it's odd that the fans boo me. It goes back to something a former Blade sports reporter wrote. He thought it was horrible that I introduced myself because most announcers don't. So in one of his columns he encouraged people to boo me. I think they were booing me to spite his suggestion. But that's how it started. I took my dad to a game and I told him the fans really like me. When they all booed me he said, 'Robert, I thought you said they liked you.' I told him if they didn't like me,
they wouldn't boo me every night.
Uh... someone fax this guy to South Bend.
In any case, while this guy may be excellent for the Toledo Storm and Eastern Michigan his particular brand of irritating rah-rah is not a fit with the Michigan athletic program and he should be replaced. Or at least tranquilized before games.
Update 2/3: Removed FL CB TJ Lawrence, FL nutball QB BJ Daniels, SC WR Jaron Brown. Moved SC CB JT Floyd to committed. Added OH QB Dominick Britt, OH WR Roy Roundtree.
There's not much info in any of the Pryor articles, but feel free to read between these lines. The Altoona Mirror:
Although Pryor has denied publicly leaning toward any college, the general consensus has been that Ohio State leads Michigan for his services, with Penn State and Oregon jockeying for third place. Reitz gave the impression he believed that to be the case, but that Penn State did give Pennsylvania Football News' Mr. Football and The Associated Press Class AA player of the year something to think about.
Meanwhile, Jeannette basketball coach Jim Nesser became the second coach to indicate that Pryor is leaning toward signing with Ohio State.
Nesser said he believed Pryor hasn't made up his mind, however.
"I think Terrelle likes and trusts (Ohio State coach Jim) Tressel, but that's my opinion," Nesser said. "He'll do well wherever he chooses."
Other gents. Mike Farrell touches on a couple Michigan recruits in a discussion of BC:
Looks like Boston College might strike out on its last three targets, all running backs. Shane Turner committed to Rice, Terrence Robinson appears headed to Michigan and Christian Wilson is rumored to be leaning toward North Carolina.
Robinson announces tonight on the same show Sam McGuffie and Darryl Stonum did; every indication is that Michigan is the pick. This is Robinson's McGuffie moment:
Should be a slot guy a la Darius Reynaud and possibly a dynamite returner.
Wilson seems gone, and unfortunately JB Fitzgerald is the latest LB to have a shaky-ish commitment:
"I know he enjoyed his visit to Rutgers and I know that he's going to Michigan unofficially to spend some time with the staff," Smith said. "I guess we'll know on Signing Day where he's going to go."
Smith said Fitzgerald has been increasingly impressed with Schiano and his assistants, who have continued to recruit him despite his commitment to Michigan.
But according to Smith, Rodriguez and his staff have tried vigorously to keep him, even recently flying to New Jersey to meet with Fitzgerald and his family in their home.
"Coach Rod has been down here and all those people, so there's no doubt about it they still want J.B.," Smith said.
The article mentions Fitzgerald's unofficial this weekend; I think he'll stay with M.
MI DE Nick Perry is the biggest name on the board for M other than Pryor. He remains difficult to read. Perry on M:
"Everything was pretty good," Perry said about Michigan. "I have been up there quite a few times, but getting around the new coaches was cool. I am feeling comfortable more and more each time I (visit). I felt good about it."
"As far as (Shafer) goes, it seems like he has a plan," said Perry. "His background seems pretty good and it seems he can put a defense together pretty well. Coach Rodriguez put a good coaching staff together and I think they'll be able to put me in a lot of positions to use me."
Randy Shannon was the banquet speaker for Detroit King; Rodriguez crashed that particular party. I don't think anyone out there has a particularly good feel for Perry's destination. Some knowledgeable USC folk I correspond with are confident, but they're always confident about every recruit so the marginal value of that is low. IMO, USC and M are the two contenders. Hopefully he'll stay home.
Trotwood-Madison may provide an unexpected bounty. Buckeye Planet mentions that QB Dominick Britt and WR Roy Roundtree are visiting Michigan this weekend; two weeks ago TE commit Brandon Moore visited with teammate and nominal PSU commit Michael Shaw. Britt was a UC commit who decommitted in the wake of the Demetrius Jones transfer (Cinci is on track to have seven scholarship QBs next year) and gave strong consideration to WVU. Roundtree is a slot WR currently committed to Purdue.
Britt's looking for a home with an opportunity for a dual-threat QB and Michigan's really hard up for non-Pryor options in the wake of the BJ Daniels
fiasco, whatever that was. If M offers logic suggests he's a slam-dunk commit. That might bring Roundtree with him, and then an already on-the-fence Shaw will be looking at a situation at M featuring three of his friends and teammates. Oh, and no JayPa.
There will be a blizzard of activity in the next few days (Wednesday is Signing Day) that I'll try to keep up with as best I can. I usually provide a recruiting class recap in a few parts starting on Signing Day, but since this recruiting class is still very much up in the air this year's edition will be delayed until Monday or so.
1/31/2008 - Michigan 32, Minnesota 52 - 10-ish minutes left, second half
I am one of those irritating people who makes it a point of pride to never leave a sporting event early. Since I matriculated at Michigan, I'm pretty sure the only time I've left a game early was during this dismal year, when I bolted with a couple minutes left in the Oregon game. And after those two weeks who could blame me? Or anyone? When not facing the imminent danger of perpetrating mass homicide, I endure.
I have seen Walter Cross run for 100 yards long after Donovan McNabb turned Michigan's defense into confused goo. (What remained of the student section gamely chanted "Cross is boss" as the minutes ticked off Michigan's futile grasp at respectability.) I have waited out 6-1 losses to Northern Michigan at Yost. I have sat in the world's worst-designed poncho and watched Michigan tackle a directional Michigan school -- which I don't remember and doesn't matter -- in the brief windows when the wind was not whipping said ill-designed poncho into my face and my newly-cleansed glasses had not been re-coated by the insistent, driving rain.
I have sat through it all, melting-hot September games against MAC foes and frigid, dull things against Northwestern and Purdue. Misery has little power over me.
This year, I've gotten through one of the five Michigan basketball games I've attended.
This latest was perhaps the most depressing sporting event I can remember. Michigan quickly fell behind by double-digits in a half-empty arena. The loudest group of people in the place were a hundred or so Minnesota students who had bizarrely decided to crash Crisler en masse on a Thursday night. At some point during the second half they chanted "our house" over and over; all I could think is "how goddamn far away is Minneapolis? Is it Thursday? What day is this?"
It was indeed Thursday; according to Google Maps, Minneapolis is 648 miles from Ann Arbor, 10 and a half hours by car. Seriously... what the hell? I can understand invasions from East Lansing or Columbus or, I dunno, Toronto or something, but Minneapolis? Don't you have better things to do than spend either 20 hours or hundreds of dollars to see your kinda-crappy basketball team beat up on Michigan's very crappy basketball team? Evidently not.
At halftime they had a 40th anniversary celebration for Crisler. Most of the 1968 team was there to receive the hearty applause that is their due. There was a great spiel about Rudy Tomjanovich, the star of that team and one of the names in the rafters at Crisler. He was not there, and that seemed appropriate. Cazzie Russell was, though, and that was sad.
Russell is one of those elderly gentlemen who radiates dignity and authority in their very mien. The nearest equivalent in my experience has been Red Berenson, who seems to terrify first-round draft picks into committing to Michigan merely by cocking his eyebrow. Russell has that sort of bearing.
So he stood with his bearing, and listened to his accomplishments -- which are many -- and was then told he stood in the House Cazzie Built and that seemed like kind of a cruel thing to tell a nice old man who never did you any harm. The House Cazzie Built is half-empty, overrun by bums from half a continent away, and home to a team likely to set records for futility.
Michigan has not so much as reached the NCAA tournament since 1998, an impressive feat matched by an ever-dwindling list of maybe ten major-conference teams. Being there is an act of masochism. But hey... new lights!
I have four more tickets sitting at a drawer at home; I don't know how many more of them I'll use.
- Speaking of the announcer guy... oh, God. At least 5% of the Crisler misery is because of him. I understand the arena is dead, but importing the PA guy from the Sioux Falls Skyforce isn't going to help things. The pizza giveaways SPONSORED BY DOMINOS!!!, the stupid free-throw shooting competitions, the fake cheer in the announcement whenever anyone makes a basket... none of this crap would fly at either Michigan Stadium or Yost. Michigan's always avoided the WOOOO THIS IS SPORRRRRRTZZZ presentation, except at basketball games.
Attention: this is not the D-league.
Eggs congregate further in a particular basket:
B.J. Daniels, who has been ranked the No. 8 dual-threat quarterback in the nation, is no longer being recruited by Michigan, it is being reported.
Michigan called off an in-home visit that was scheduled for Thursday and backed off the recruitment, scout.com is reporting. Kyle Rice, Daniels' high school coach in Tallahassee, Fla., told rivals.com that the recruitment was over.
I have no idea what could have caused the rift; Daniels was supposedly qualified and excited about the opportunity at Michigan. Though Justin Feagin's still out there he's way less touted than Daniels (until recently, kid was a two-star). It's Pryor or bust, I guess.
(Side note: newspapers have taken up taking subscription content from the recruiting sites -- which this is -- and posting it willy-nilly. That seems unethical.)
Wither Terrelle Pryor? Probably still Ohio State. But it seems slightly less grim today than yesterday.
One. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported yesterday that Pryor may delay his decision until after Signing Day:
Pryor had planned to announce his college decision live on ESPN Wednesday. But he said yesterday he might wait at least a few days to make his choice.
"I'd say it's about 50-50 that I'll push things back," Pryor said.
If he pushes things back it's to visit spread-friendly Oregon, not the act of a guy who's a "lock" anywhere. Unless, as the hardcore tinfoil-hat types have decreed, Pryor is such an OSU lock that he's under orders from Tressel to lead Michigan on until such time as other options like BJ Daniels and Justin Feagin have freaked out and gone elsewhere. But, right: tinfoil hats.
(Also, despite that article's claim that Penn State is "still in it", Penn State is not still in it:
"It went OK," Pryor said of the meeting [with JoePa]. "I just don't know about the area up there. I don't know if I'd like being in that kind of area."
In traditionally effusive recruit-speak this is the equivalent of "AAAAARGH WHY IS HE EATING MY BRAINS NO NO NO NO".)
Two. Though Ray Reitz -- Pryor's coach -- is confused I think he debunked yesterday's report of an Ohio State lead:
"I think he [JoePa, again] had a real good talk with Terrelle," Reitz said. "I don't really know what's going on. I understand it was on some kind of Web site that Ohio State's coach said that they've already got Terrelle locked up. I hear they're saying that, but that's news to Terrelle and everybody else though.
"The visit went very well. I thought (Terrelle) was impressed with the meeting."
(Via RUTS, which isn't giving up the Pryor ghost just yet. For some reason.)
Three. Eleven Warriors:
Look, the kid obviously loves the limelight, but there's a growing chorus of Buckeye and Wolverine fans that are wondering if maybe their schools may be better off without Pryor. What's your take?
My take is that the only reason this Wolverine fan chorus exists is because 1) it's looked like we aren't going to get Pryor and 2) some of the people who post on message boards are astoundingly dumb. Also I'm all like "wow, this negativity seems a lot like the negativity previously mentioned under subsection 1) and is not at all like the WOOO SUCKIT kind of attitude I've seen previously around Buckeye parts and this makes me happy."
Four. BJ Daniels, reportedly wary of ending up at the same place Pryor does, told Scout that was not the case, and the Detroit News told the world:
"Well, he is the No. 1 quarterback in the nation, (and) I think I'm the No. 8 as far as dual-threat quarterbacks are concerned," said Daniels, who is expected to meet with Rodriguez today before he heads to Ann Arbor. "Competition does not scare me at all, whether I'm playing football, basketball or even checkers. Competition is not something I'm worried about.
"But (Pryor) does play a bit of a factor. If he ends up going (to Michigan), good for him. If I end up going there, it won't matter. His decision won't affect what I do."
Daniels' coach from the Free Press:
There's speculation that Daniels might wait to see where Pryor goes before declaring his intentions, but Rice doesn't think so.
"B.J. has great confidence in his ability and respects everybody, but he feels like he can come in and certainly compete with anybody for the job -- the No. 1 kid in the country or whatever," Rice said.
This is not really about Pryor, I guess, but it's good. Michigan needs two, maybe even three quarterbacks in this class and Daniels seems like the best non-Pryor option available.
Also: Black Shoe Diaries has an awesome transcript of the JoePa-Pryor meeting.
As expected, SC CB JT Floyd has committed to Michigan. Informative update coming.
Hopefully Informative Update: Rodriguez is pursuing an inordinate number of WR/DB/RB tweener. Floyd is one of these; though most project him on the defensive side of the ball he was a two-way star at JL Mann High this year:
Floyd, who has committed to the University of Tennessee ("soft verbal," he said during the season), is playing wide receiver and returning kickoffs and punts for the North.
As a senior, he caught 50 passes for 811 yards and 11 touchdowns. He also scored on a punt return and a fumble return.
Floyd appears to be a middling recruit. Other schools in pursuit were Tennessee (obviously), South Carolina, North Carolina, NC State, and Maryland. Though the junior-year offer from Tennessee is impressive, Floyd did not draw interest from any other major programs. Floyd was picked for an annual North-South SC All Star game but was passed over for some sort of "Shrine" game.
Guru ratings are pretty consistent. Lemming rated him the #19 safety, just ahead of MSU commitment Charles Burrell, in October. ESPN gives him a meh 74 and has different ideas than most about his preferred spot on the field:
Floyd is a two-way standout at safety and wide receiver, but the more you watch him on defense, the more you think he may end up at wide receiver. He is athletic and rangy but not really a devastating player in the middle of the field. On offense however, he makes a lot of plays and is one of the more surehanded guys we have seen in this class.
The rest of his $ profile makes him sound like a less physical Jason Avant; there are repeated references to his lack of elite speed and his reliability/excellent hands/clutchosity. Everyone else projects Floyd in the secondary. Rivals gives him three stars and ranks him #20 in South Carolina. Scout also gives him three stars and dubs him the country's #74 safety.
While you can argue that Floyd's early commit to Tennessee removed him from guru radar screens and depressed his ranking, the schools after him, the All-Star snub, and the universal "meh" ratings suggest otherwise. Floyd is a middling recruit who's 50-50 to contribute. He's a good pickup in this transitional situation -- Michigan is scrambling to fill 25 slots with few prospects left on the board --but isn't likely to be a star.
Whoops. This article from July about Floyd's commitment to UT has one awesome passage:
When asked about how committed he was, Floyd almost provided the answer UT fans are looking for.
"This is definitely, probably, the best place for me," Floyd said. "I love the facilities and the way the coaches interact with the players. It's like a big family. Nobody's above anybody. You're just one of the guys. That's something that I like."
Woooo for sentence-invalidating asides.