"I love it that Ivy League coaches are coming to our camp and Big Ten coaches are coming to our camp. South Florida is coming. We've got about 70 schools that are coming to our camp."
Really really? Like really? The Free Press cites an anonymous source and cribs from the subscription-only Sports Business Journal about the Big Ten Network potentially coming to an irritating corporate monolith near you:
The Big Ten Network appears on its way to most homes in Michigan.
According to a source close to the negotiations, Comcast and the BTN have made significant progress toward a deal and only an unforeseen setback would prevent it from being on the cable system by football season.
This would appear to be Comcast caving on their sport-tier-only proposal... mostly:
Sports Business Journal, which reported a deal was close in its Monday edition, said Comcast has agreed to place the network on expanded basic in most of the Big Ten footprint, but not all.
That's odd. What areas of the Big Ten footprint wouldn't be covered? Parts of Pennsylvania, maybe, and Ames, Iowa, I guess.
A wholly uneducated hunch on the Comcast reversal: with AT&T bringing U-Verse online and Verizon's FIOS service rapidly expanding its footprint, Comcast doesn't want to give the apartment-bound and tree-blocked a further reason to switch.
As always, take this with a hefty dose of skepticism.
Update! Might want to ratchet down the skepticism. The Sporting News has the full text of the SBJ article, and it's convincing.
Tell me about the rabbits. EDSBS linked up this ESPN feature on Muck City, Florida, where they 1) play football, 2) play football, and 3) chase rabbits around. This is the home of incoming WR recruit Martavious Odoms:
Super secret alias. So if you go puttering along for information on new basketball recruit Zack Novak, you get this near-blank AAU profile page that reveals the secret true identity of "Zack Novak"...
More serious like, there's a surprising profusion of information on a guy who claimed offers from Ball State, Colorado State, Valpo, Oakland, and the Fort Wayne version of the confusing "Indiana-Purdue" chain of alphabet soup public schools at the time of his commitment.
One: dude scores lots, averaging over 28 points a game and shooting better than 40% from three. Two: he is either a 6'5" shooting guard or a "smallish 6'3" swingman"; given the offers it's probably the latter. Three: he is "a smart kid and an American," according to the same article. Good to know Indiana (motto: "Easy to leave!") remains a part of the union. Four: uh...
"Coach (Bob) Buscher told me I had a nice butt," Novak said. "Guys might be bigger than me but I can get lower to the ground."
So there you go.
In the realm of effusive quotes we have Bob Gibson:
"Novak is an outstanding catch-and-shoot wing player," ESPN.com's national recruiting director Bob Gibbons said. "He appears to be an ideal player for coach John Beilein's style of play."
Head coach Tom Peller:
"You know the rule, give it to Zack and get out of the way," Peller said. "In my opinion, he's the best all-around player in Northwest Indiana. His outside shooting is so much more consistent. He's very, very good inside and he has a tremendous driving game. He's truly the complete package now."
The same coach who was checkin' out Novak's assets earlier:
"He's the best player in the conference and by far the best warrior," he said. "We tried to stop him but he plays all over the court. We should take a lesson from him."
Some guy named "Bigfoot" on a Ball State message board who knows the family:
I would add to what PL BSU said that Michigan recently had Zach go through some sort of a work out highlighting his ball handling and shooting skills. I heard they are looking to improve their outside shooting and feel Zach may fit that bill. I also was told that Zach really lit the gym up in this workout with his outside shot to the point that he got in a groove that even Zach was surprised about. I was told he hit 16 of 21 shots from what would be the equivalent of an NBA 3 from various spots on the floor. I guess in the shooting side of the work out he hit nearly 80% of his shots from various ranges.
I understand he an the Michigan Coach even chuckled about it but none the less it was a very impressive shooting performance.
Someone mentioned a comparison of Novak to Tom Coverdale which strikes a cord with me. Zach would be a much bigger version but there are similarities. Zach would be more versatile player IMO as he can go down low and score in a crowd with his strength (has strong thighs and calves) as well as upper body for a HS kid. I would see Zach as a real threat with a three guard offense in particular. It would take a very athletic defender with size to handle him at a small three position.
I also heard Zach is still growing not that his current 6'4" height wouldn't work already for us.
If we can sign him I think people will some day wonder why he was not better known. Being
a four year starter at a large school like Chesterton that plays in a tough league speaks volumes about his ability. He was not only a starter in his early years but was a prolific scorer even then.
Another one for the potential whitewash down the road. I'll reserve judgement on Beilein's recruiting until these guys actually get in and play for a year or two; though their rankings are universally meh Beilein has made his living finding and coaching up kids like this.
Outposts. Spartans have finally started slouching into the blogosphere, and though they're the last Big Ten school to find representation their initial attempt is a good one: Spartan Weblog is a tempo-free-focused basketball blog in the vein of Big Ten Wonk that hates Drew Sharp and has affectionate, obscure acronyms for dear, departed Wonk. Recommended.
Also, frequent MGoBlog commentator gsimmons85 has started up his own blog. The prose is rough but the technical detail is... uh... detailed. As an honest-to-god football coach, his knowledge outstrips mine; also recommended. Sample posts here and here.
Finally, there is a blog called MGoSwim that covers Michigan swimming. Check the freaky banner: it moves.
Hockey. Michigan had a bye week as the bottom eight teams in the CCHA opened the playoffs. The top seeds all held so Michigan gets #8 Nebraska-Omaha, which is a significantly tougher draw than any of the potential matchups against teams 9-12. Despite finishing eighth, UNO was just a couple games below .500 in-conference and played Michigan tough in their series earlier in the year. Yost Built has details.
In PWR news, North Dakota finally cooled off with a pair of draws against St. Cloud and dropped behind Michigan, but Colorado College swept Denver and moved into first. Michigan remains second; third-place New Hampshire split with Vermont.
In practical terms Michigan is about a half-game behind CC and a half-game ahead of UND. I think UNH's loss means Michigan will hold the comparison against the Wildcats as long as they reach the Joe.
Operation "Let's Not Play Wisconsin" took the week off, as the Badgers had a bye. St. Cloud's split against UND did push them past UW, so the Badgers will have to travel to St. Cloud in the first round of the WCHA playoffs.
Kolarik is skating around but still in pain; I highly doubt we see him this weekend.
Bracket. FWIW, the rejiggered brackets straight 1-16:
16 AH Autobid
8 St. Cloud
15 CHA Autobid
10 Michigan State
11 Minnesota State
4 North Dakota
BU is now the last team in the tournament; we still have 7 WCHA participants. Any time there are more than four teams per conference the NCAA will accept a first-round intraconference matchups, so we don't have to break the DU-Minnesota State or UND-UW games, but UNH and BU have to be split. If we flop UW and BU we break two intra-conference matchups and get an attractive bracket for Madison, but attendance nightmares in the East: Clarkson and BU are the only Eastern teams.
Does screwing Michigan help? (Remember, the committee loves screwing Michigan.) Maybe.
Option #2: If BU gets flopped with the CHA autobid, UNH can go to Worchester and Albany will have Clarkson and BU to go with the two Michigans. This scenario has an extra intra-WCHA first round game, though.
Option #3: flip Wisconsin into the M bracket, then flip BU into the UND bracket. This puts M in Madison against UW and allows UNH to stay home but creates an Albany bracket with 2 WCHA teams, Miami, and someone like Army.
Given last year's slavish adherence to their rickety system over attendance and logic, I think they'll go with the first option but swap the AH team into it for what marginal attendance and travel benefits it provides, leaving Michigan in this bracket:
4. Army (-ish)
3. Michigan State
I dislike the idea of Michigan State our bracket since they clearly know how to frustrate Michigan into a bad game; other than that, fairly appealing.
As always, this exercise was wholly useless.
Basketball. I did end up using those tickets that loomed in my drawer and was rewarded with a couple of wins and generally competitive basketball (fortunately, I was hundreds of miles away from Crisler during the Northwestern debacle), but the last ten minutes yesterday left a sour note. I can't summon the energy to construct a coherent column-thingy, but that's what bullets are for:
- Manny Harris had seven turnovers and no assists; nominal point guard Kelvin Grady had five and five. Twelve turnovers and five assist from the starting backcourt with nine points between them, all from Harris. Bleah, bleah, bleah. Did either of these guys improve as the season progressed?
To me, the key sequence in the game -- one that was emblematic of the entire season -- came midway through the second half. The score was tied and Purdue was inbounding from behind the Michigan basket. Harris and Grady got confused, leaving a soon-to-be red hot Purdue guard with a wide open three, which he nailed. Grady then took the ball out of bounds, panicked when he saw Harris being overplayed, and threw it directly to a Purdue defender instead of taking one of the 46 timeouts allotted. Result: layup, five point deficit that would quickly balloon to ten, lost game. It was strikingly reminiscent of the Boston College game earlier in the year, wherein Michigan hung around for approximately 30 minutes, then imploded in an Amakerian spurt of turnovers and stupidity.
He moves very well without the ball and also can create his own shot. But the thing that stood out the most was his passing ability, he is a very unselfish player for the high school level. I saw all those kids last year play that went to Purdue in this area and I would put him right up there with them.
Beilein still has two scholarships left for either '08 or '09; the general thought was he would take one more '08 kid and try to balance the classes somewhat but the Novak offer and commit when a couple higher-profile guys like Kyle Cassity are still out there implies that Beilein thinks he needs help now and will be taking a fourth '08 kid.
A dispiriting year for the basketball program. No one expected miracles but beating Harvard and Central and Northwestern shouldn't fall in the category of "miracle". From time to time the team showed a semblance of offensive organization not present under Amaker. Turnovers did fall dramatically. But a number of things did not change: Michigan was awful defending the three-pointer and on the boards, and for all the complaints about the Amaker offense consisting of 30 seconds of aimless dribbling and an off-balance three pointer, at no time did Michigan decide to launch so many ill-advised bombs as they did this year. After a 7 of 26 brickfest against Purdue, Michigan is now the 45th most three-happy team in the nation... and 310th in making 'em.
But, hey... free white guys!
Pryor... hasn't decided on a school, but has gotten in another fight after a basketball game. These red flags are reproducing like chlorine-fixing bacteria in an anaerobic environment.
Pryor. It's been quiet on the Pryor front of late, mostly because everyone's given up and assumes he's headed to OSU. A Mike Farrell story provides a glimmer of optimism in the form of a potential visit...
"I'd like my mom to see both places and Penn State," he said. "So we're talking about a day trip to both Ohio State and Michigan, and she'd come along with me on my Penn State trip."
...but not much of one. Pryor says he'll decide by April 1st.
I get this question a lot: "when does Pryor have to sign by?" The answer is "never." If Pryor is going to sign a LOI, he has to do it by the end of the month, but the LOI doesn't actually do anything for the player. If Pryor doesn't sign he can still show up on a college campus this fall and get an athletic scholarship.
In other Pryor news: weird guys make figurines, and there's no way to say it that doesn't sound like sour grapes, but... uh... I don't know if Pryor's much of a warrior-poet. You've probably seen the Bleacher Report thing about that near-riot at a basketball game, which was at least partially substantiated by a newspaper columnist:
That's when a Jeannette assistant exited the Jayhawks' locker and complained about the conduct of the South Fayette students. That's something he had a right to do.
One officer, however, did not appreciate the direction of the conversation. He was present when Pryor accosted the South Fayette fans.
"You're lucky we didn't take your kid (Pryor) in," the officer said. "He threatened to go into the crowd."
A Penn State friend mentioned that there was a pretty horrifying account of Pryor's behavior posted on one of the PSU premium boards by someone who was at the game, and sent it along. It's pretty convincing, especially because at the time Penn State fans were hopeful Pryor would pick them.
Then there's this Plain-Dealer piece Run Up The Score noted:
Sharon, Pa. â€” Day 28 since the Day of No Decision. Subject No. 1 â€” Pryor, Terrelle â€” seems aloof Wednesday night, at times disinterested. He applies himself only when necessary â€” and when a fast-break dunk appears possible.
"He plays as well as he needs to play," says his basketball coach at Jeannette High School, Jim Nesser. "I don't know if that sounds good, but if he needs to take it to another level, he can do that."
And then, like, uh...
"I'm a Pryor," he says. "My dad used to hit me when I lost at anything, at fights, anything. I mean, your dad is supposed to make you a man, right? That's what he did."
Not that this last quote reflects poorly on Pryor himself. It's just weird.
Ohhhhhhhhhhhh... Iowa says CYA to a couple of the infamous Facebook guys, and others are pointedly not on the roster. It looks unlikely that any of the guys we've all seen 1) displaying lots of money, 2) putting lots of money on their head, or 3) eating lots of money will ever see the field at Iowa again. BHGP is, of course, crushed:
In other suspension-tastic news, Penn State tight end Andrew Quarless is probably hanging by a thread after a DUI charge, his second alcohol related run-in with the law in a year, and Indiana's Kellen Lewis has violated some team rules.
BONUS speculation on the Quarless incident can be found over at Black Shoe Diaries:
An insider on a message board has just indicated there is more to this story which will come out in time. And it's not good. He didn't give details so don't ask me what it is.
Begin rampant speculation now.
This might have something to do with the car Quarless was pulled over in: a white BMW.
Updated. Made a couple fixes to the depth chart by class: I miscounted the OL (there are 15, not 14) and erroneously asserted that Troy Woolfolk redshirted last year. He did not. Other assertion made that I believe is incorrect: Moosman, Zirbel, and Stewart are in their final years of eligibility. IIRC, all redshirted. Other assertion made that I can't confirm: Marell Evans didn't redshirt. Which would be, like, WTF.
Shamelessly reappropriated from Rocky Top Talk.
|MICHIGAN FOOTBALL DEPTH BY CLASS 2008|
|QB (3)||Justin Feagin||Steven Threet*||David Cone*|
|RB (7)||Sam McGuffie
|Avery Horn*||Kevin Grady*
|FB (1)||Vince Helmuth
|WR (6)||Darryl Stonum
|Slot (3)||T. Robinson
|TE (6)||Brandon Moore
|Steve Watson*||Martell Webb||Carson Butler*||Mike Massey*|
|OL (15)||Dann O'Neill
|DT (7)||Mike Martin||John Ferrara*
|DE (6)||R. VanBergen*||Greg Banks*||Brandon Graham
|LB (11)||JB Fitzgerald
|B. Herron*||Obi Ezeh*
|CB (8)||B. Cissoko
|S (5)||Brandon Smith||Mike Williams*||Artis Chambers||Charles Stewart*
|P/K (2)||Bryan Wright*||Zoltan Mesko*||KC Lopata (W)|
|returning starters in bold, projected starters in italics, redshirts denoted with *
Total allotted: 79.
Sorry for the slow day; I'm painstakingly assembling all the articles about 2009 recruits I have stored up so that the 2009 recruiting board can make a debut soon. Corrections appreciated.
At first glimpse: there are five unused spots, ten scholarship players see their eligibility expire, and there are two or three potential fifth years who probably won't be asked back. 18 or so scholarships are available right now and with normal attrition Michigan should again be signing close to a full class.
/strong> Miscounted the OL; there are 15. Troy Woolfolk did not redshirt last year. Yes, there are twelve starters on each side of the ball.
Update: Removed Boren, moved Evans to sophomore -- he did not redshirt.
Update: Removed Quintin Patilla, who transferred to GVSU.
Sunday, Sunday, Sunday. So this heavily rumored Carty bomb which may or may not be a dud is rumored to be coming out Sunday. There is a competing rumor that there is no definite timetable and the thing is still being worked upon. Informed sources are skeptical about the payload here, but everyone who's emailed me appears to be getting their info from the athletic department and may be predisposed to downplay the charges. To me, the competing rumors look like some internal conflict about whether they have an actual story here, a la the NYT on John McCain.
In any case, there will be two issues leveled:
- A sizable number of UM athletes have been taking spring and summer term independent study courses in kinesiology and sociology under a few specific professors.
- In the late 80s and early 90s, Michigan bent its admissions standards for athletes(!).
The second point seems so banal I can't see how anyone can spin it into a story. Since time immemorial, Michigan has accepted anyone who qualifies under NCAA guidelines. (JUCOs and transfers, however, are another matter.) I've heard from a couple different people that Carty's main source on at least the latter part is a disgruntled kinesiology lecturer who has job security issues or got passed over for tenure or some such thing who used to be on the admissions committee, so there's might be something embarrassing there. If the timeframe here is correct, any potential NCAA violations -- doubtful in any case -- are well outside of their statute of limitations, IIRC.
The first part sounds like the Auburn scandal that erupted last year, with one major difference: apparently these are real classes and an appropriate amount of work was done. We'll see if the article contests that at all. IMO, students with questionable academic credentials that universities have a powerful motive to keep in school shouldn't be taking independent study en masse. Like the Alabama oversigning thing, it looks and feels skeezy no matter what, and the potential for abuse is extreme. It's important to compare athletes to the progress of other students to make sure you're, you know, actually educating them.
On the other hand, football players have enormous demands on their time and I can see why they might need the flexibility afforded by independent study. A few credits here and there seem reasonable.
eeeeee Nystrom. A kindly(?) reader forwarded along this video of Eric Nystrom, now of the Quad City Flames in the AHL, reprising the saucy striptease from Slapshot. No, ladies, it's not Jack Johnson, but whatever. Beefcake incoming!
This video posted, I reserve the right for one cheesecake picture on a future date of my choosing, for gender balance.
On-ice. Chad Kolarik had a gimpy practice with the hockey team yesterday, leading the Daily to speculate on his potential return:
Still, Kolarik may have a chance to be back in the lineup when Michigan hosts a second-round CCHA playoff series next Friday.
"The deadline for him in my mind is next Monday," Berenson said. "Can he practice with the team, and compete and take contact and the whole bit? Because there's no time for players that aren't 100 percent when you get in the playoffs."
If Kolarik gets up to speed with his teammates during the first three days of next week, then he'll probably be in the lineup for the weekend, Berenson said.
That's great, awesome, terrific, unexpected quasi-news, though I doubt we actually see Kolarik for the first round playoff series. Said series will be against a team that finished eighth or worse in the CCHA and Michigan should be able to handle them without Kolarik; risking an aggravation seems imprudent. But if Kolarik could be 100% for the games at the Joe and knock the rust off before the regionals, that would be a major boost to Michigan's national title hopes.
One other injury note: during the senior day festivities after the Ferris game on Friday I noticed that Matt Rust is sporting a hard cast on one arm.
(Via Michigan Tailgate.)
There is also an enormous article in USA Today about how wicked sweet Yost is.
The voting is finished and it's time to present this year's College Football Blogger Awards. Where possible, last year's winner, ineligible to win this year, will be presenting the award to this year's winner. Please check in at Rocky Top Talk and EDSBS for a schedule of all the awards to be presented over the next two days.
The next award presentation - for "Best National Blog" - will be around 4 at SMQB
AWARD PRESENTATION: "Best non-BCS Blog"
(Before we start it should be noted that this category was incredibly close. The runner up was a point behind the winner, and the fourth-place blog was a mere four points adrift.)
Hawaii was this year's chosen amongst the non-BCS brethren, and though it all ended in tears and broken little island dudes against Georgia, an undefeated romp through the WAC and reaching the BCS is nothing to sniff at. Chronicling it all was the somewhat confusingly named "The Warriors Will Throw (You Off The Pali)", a news-aggregator sort of blog that comprehensively assembled anything related to Colt Brennan & Co for your Hawaii-fan edification. Just click on a random month in the archives, say November, and then be prepared to scroll. Lo, everything written about Hawaii every day in one convenient spot, along with a heap of video. Any team could use something so comprehensive.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
2007 WINNER: Temple Football Forever
A one man-shame factory for any moderately beleaguered school without a dedicated blogger (Michigan State and Arizona, I'm looking at you), TFF is an actual, frequently updated, serious blog about Temple Football and, as such, is a permanent Job Award Nominee until such time as it actually wins the thing. Need ten reasons to attend Temple? Check. Anger about the UConn fiasco? Check. Various other things about Temple? Temple's football team? You know, the one you pick in NCAA so that you don't win a national championship for at least three years? Check.
Here is an award. Long may it last.