no wonder we hired Hunter Lochmann
The cloaking mechanism broke. I blame Romulan saboteurs. It should now be repaired, which means mgoblog.com will work again. If this happens in the future, mgoblog.blogspot.com will still work.
Hockey split against Michigan State and Ferris State. Results: one CCHA title, one lost #1 ranking in the Pairwise, and burgeoning concerns about how good the team really is. Other than a lackluster pair of 4-2 wins over Lake State, each of which was a close game that looked more comfortable than it was because of an empty-netter, Michigan hasn't swept an opponent since the mid-January Notre Dame series. There are plenty of mitigating factors -- the Kolarik injury, some questionable play by Bryan Hogan, atrocious refereeing in the Miami series, and plain bad luck in spots -- but a 5-3-4 stretch run is quite a comedown for a team that was 22-2 before that.
Michigan's hold on a top-two spot is now extremely tenuous. Before Saturday's games they had ceded the #1 spot in the PWR to Colorado College; a CC loss to Minnesota State repaired the damage but the comparison remains terribly close. Meanwhile, an OT goal salvaged a 2-1 victory over Minnesota-Duluth for North Dakota, pushing their RPI ahead of Michigan's and giving them the #1 overall spot.
Michigan is now second with CC breathing down their neck. If CC passes Michigan, they'll miss the opportunity to take on a CHA or Atlantic Hockey autobid team. Worse, Wisconsin continues to linger around the edge of the tourney. They're currently the last #4 seed, and if that holds up Michigan's almost definitely going to draw them in the first round at home, for the following reasons:
- CC has to play at home since they're hosting,
- in this scenario NoDak is one of the top two seeds and has earned the right to get an autobid team, which they will do out East because Wisconsin is also hosting,
- UNH would be the other #1 seed and will almost definitely end up in Worcester for attendance purposes,
- the tournament selection committee always finds a way to screw Michigan since the back-to-back Yost regionals.
This last reason may be mad ravings, but the others are solid. Of course, given the way Michigan's game against Wisconsin went at the Showcase a first-round matchup with UW might not be the worst thing in the world.
Both CC and NoDak have two more regular season games before the WCHA playoffs; you want them to lose against Denver and Saint Cloud, respectively. Splits would be enough to temporarily send Michigan to #1.
As for the rest of the comparisons, Michigan's meh final two weeks hasn't lost them any ground but it hasn't guaranteed them anything, either. They have secured comparisons against State and Denver, but CC and NoDak are now neck and neck with M. UNH and Miami could conceivably pass Michigan if M flops in the playoffs. My ballpark estimate of what will happen:
- Fail to get to the Joe: Unless another of the top five implodes in similar fashion, M falls into the #5 slot and becomes the top two seed. Since Michigan will be playing at best the #8 team in the league, this is unlikely.
- Get to the Joe and go 0-2. See above. Winning those two games against a weak, non-TUC CCHA team isn't going to help them much.
- 1-1 at the Joe. Could be the #5 if the rest of the top five wins out (at least, as much as possible in the UND/CC cases), but probably the #3 or #4 seed; very probably going to be in Madison.
- Win CCHA Playoff top two seed, autobid foe in the first round.
There's plenty left to play for. One relief: there's no goddamn way we end up in a regional with North Dakota and Minnesota.
Elsewhere: Yost Built on the weekend. The Saturday game at Ferris wasn't televised, so I can't say anything. On Friday I don't think Ferris had more than one or two even strength scoring chances the whole game, but the penalty kill gave up three goals. Hill, the referee, was fine through a period, then started calling all manner of weird stuff including an interference call on Michigan after someone hit a guy who either still had the puck or had released it a split second before. Woo refs.
The Pairwise went crazy. There are ten teams in the WCHA. If the season ended today, eight of them would be in the tournament. Since these teams will continue to beat each other up in the final two weeks of the season and three of them must lose first-round playoff series, one or two will probably drop out. But at this point it would be a huge upset if only half the conference made the tournament. Which is, of course, insane.
Yost Built covered this in-depth. The WCHA's impressive nonconference winning percentage is largely built many games against the weaker conferences. Head-to-head against HE and the CCHA it's different:
Still, the top eight are 14-11-4 against the CCHA and Hockey East (and the top 4 are 8-7-2). That doesn't paint the picture of WCHA dominance that people would have you otherwise believe.
College hockey's system has always been strictly numerical and that's been both blessing and curse. The "curse" bit: rampant over-rating of a scanty few nonconference games. Most of the difference in a team's SOS comes from the wins and losses its opponents rack up in the six or eight nonconference games they play, and many of these are against the Bemjidi States and Wayne States and RITs and Alabama Huntsvilles of the world.
The WCHA is a fine conference, undoubtedly the best in college hockey. What the SEC believes it is to college football, the WCHA actually is to college hockey. But a couple of nonconference games here and there shouldn't be enough to override a season's worth of play in conference. Is the difference between the CCHA and WCHA so severe that we should prefer a WCHA team 5 or 6 games under .500 in conference over a CCHA team that's 6 games over .500? That's the situaton we have at the moment.
If a 12-14-6 Minnesota-Duluth or a 13-13-9 Minnesota gets in over 22-12-4 Notre Dame it'll be a terrible injustice. Though ND has struggled from time to time this year, they still sit 12th in RPI. What's holding them back is the Pairwise's stupid decision to count games against the top 25 double and ND's poor record against these foes. ND's nonconference schedule is tourney-worthy -- 7-3 with a split against Denver and a sweep of tourney bubble team Princeton -- and they aren't, like, eighth in their frickin' conference. The NCAA should declare by fiat that any team in the bottom half of its own league doesn't deserve a bid, and they should do it tomorrow.
So did the basketball coach. After Michigan's loss to Northwestern, John Beilein lost all his hair and about twenty pounds, then went bats in video you've already seen sixteen times:
Mmm, that's good crazy.
Tommy Amaker what? Some things are constant with Tommy Amaker, like his team sucking and causing Michigan to lose. Other things... what?
...[Harvard's] group of six recruits expected to join the team next season is rated among the nation's 25 best. This is partly because Harvard Coach Tommy Amaker, who starred at Duke and coached in the Big East and Big Ten conferences, has set his sights on top-flight recruits. It is also because Harvard is willing to consider players with a lower academic standing than previous staff members said they were allowed to. Harvard has also adopted aggressive recruiting tactics that skirt or, in some cases, may even violate National Collegiate Athletic Association rules.
(I have no idea who or what rated the Harvard class amongst the top 25 in anything; it's definitely not Scout or Rivals.) Oh, sure now he starts skirting NCAA rules to haul in good recruiting classes.
Northwestern Penn State what? Bleargh! After limping through an ugly win over Illinois, Michigan was on a four-of-five roll and faced two games against perennial doormats Northwestern and Penn State. Of course, they lost these games. UMHoops highlights the downfall in both games:
Another player posts his career high against Michigan. It's been a problem all year, whether it is Rice, Leuer, Grant,Coble, Moore, McKenzie or Battle they all do it the same way: rain three pointers on the Michigan defense. You don't win games in the BigTen when you allow your opponents to shoot 55% from deep in a game (box score).
No, you don't. Dylan continues, asserting that a 15-0 run on five straight threes is reminiscent of the team when it was run by a certain turtlenecked, fade-sporting Duke alum. Indeed, it is, and that might indicate the problems Amaker left the Michigan program still plague it and will until Beilein gets a different sort of player in. When I looked at Beilein's 1-3-1 zone I noted that said zone was not terrible against the three:
The traditional way to beat a zone -- rain threes on it -- appears less effective against the 1-3-1 than most. West Virginia was seventh(!) in 3FG defense this year at 30.3%, and opponents didn't get off an inordinate number of them: 33.7% of opponent shots, good for a middle-of-the-pack 151st. This isn't nearly as consistent as the turnovers, thoug(h. Last year's Sweet 16 outfit was still above average at 34%, but the two years before that were ugly. However, in no year did teams get off an inordinate number of threes. WVU has hovered around the national average.
This year, Michigan opponents are making it rain: Michigan is 312th (of 341) in opponent 3PT% and 217th -- well below average -- in the percentage of three-pointers opponents launch. Opponents are also making 49.4 percent of their two pointers and getting a ton of offensive rebounds; the resulting defensive efficiency (106.7 points per 100 possesssions) is an unstirring 280th. They aren't forcing the rampant turnovers Beilein's teams usually do, and thus the defense is dead.
The offense: 49th in three point shots, 301st in making them. End of story.
Baseball tied the Mets, then sucked. Michigan tied a professional team 4-4 and led in the ninth before a two-run homer. For some reason, an attempted Kevin Cislo bunt (in the fourth inning!) enraged Mets closer Billy Wagner:
If he got that bunt down, I would have drilled the next guy. Play to win against Villanova.
Uh... what kind of weird bunting bushido lesson did I and the rest of the free world miss? If anyone needs further evidence this Wagner guy is mental: Jim Rome enthusiastically agreed with him. QED.
Michigan, coming off a season-opening three game sweep of Villanova, proceeded to go 1-3 in the next four, getting smoked by #1 Arizona State twice and losing in extra innings to Portland. There was a win against Hawaii in there somewhere.
Elsewhere: Colin of Yet Another Michigan Sports Blog asked penetrating questions of a Baseball Prospectus fellow and got interesting answers
Dominique Douglas ate like five grand.
Yeah, that seems like a good idea.
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 Community" - will be noonish at Burnt Orange Nation
AWARD PRESENTATION: "BEST POST OF THE YEAR: Analysis"
This could have been any of a half-dozen different SMQB posts tackling anything from statistics to the origin of the term "single wing"; I'm probably not spoiling much to tell you that SMQB won the blog version of this award in an epic landslide. As it is, there is another in this category...
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Hey, this is kind of the reason we made jury awards for certain categories. Smart Football is low traffic, posts every month or two, and exists only in the feed readers of wonky football obsessives who would like things explained to them very slowly by trained professionals in an effort to become one with their dork. Smart Football does this with aplomb, and though its posting rate and overall traffic made us pretty sure it wasn't going to win Best Analysis -- these things are usually go with what you know -- each post is a little jewel of clarity.
I refer here to the "Smash concept" or the "Smash route." Both refer to a two-man combination with the outside receiver on a 6 yard hitch and the inside receiver on a 12 yard corner route. Some coaches and teams go further and actually refer to either the corner route or the hitch route as a "smash" route. Again, "smash" to me is the combination - i.e. the concept - rather than any individual route.
In any event, the quarterback has a progression read: (1) corner, (2) hitch underneath. In his progression read he will "key" the cornerback: If the cornerback sinks back to stop the corner route, throw the hitch; if he comes up for the hitch, throw the corner. The best way to describe this to a QB is that you have a progression read and you "read" your receivers. You simply "progress" from one to two. In doing this though you have to understand what guys you are "keying," as their reactions should determine your progression. A Quarterback must understand defenses and defender reactions, but at the same time there is no telling where those 11 guys on defense will go, and as long as he knows where his receivers are and if the QB and the receivers are all on the same page we can run a successful play. We tell him his general rule is to throw the corner route until they take it away (though by gameplan or defense you can tell him to always throw the hitch until they come up for it).
This is the basic explanation; things get more big-play oriented and complicated as they progress, but Smart Football never wanders off into seriously incomprehensible jargon. By the end you feel like you have a handle on an important facet of beating zone coverage, down to the slight adjustments in each receiver's route, and at no point are you overwhelmed. Clearly explaining a difficult, obscure concept is a terribly hard thing to do, so we give out awards for it. Here is an award.
|Youngstown, Ohio - 6'2" 190|
|Scout||3*, #25 WLB|
|Rivals||4*, #21 OLB, Rivals 250|
|ESPN||75, #70 OLB|
|Other Suitors||Oklahoma, LSU, Michigan State, Pitt|
|Taylor Hill Commits?|
|Notes||Glenville-Mooney scrimmage video,|
If you want to add Taylor Hill to the snake-oil bonanza, feel free. At one time Hill was committed to Oklahoma, and he had just committed to Rodriguez at West Virginia when Rodriguez left for Michigan. So he's a quasi-decommit. Even odder: Hill committed to Oklahoma before visiting the campus and didn't meet Bob Stoops until October. He promptly decommitted. (Joking!)
It's hard to decipher the split between Hill's offers and his ranking. He originally decided in June between the four suitors listed above, which means he had early offers from both LSU and Oklahoma. Normally when LSU and Oklahoma offer a kid from Ohio that's a strong indicator he's elite. In this case, both Bob Stoops and Bo Pelini are both Cardinal Mooney alums who had reason to know about Hill's existence, and when Hill told Oklahoma he was going to look around they yanked his offer. They weren't exactly desperate to hang on to him.
After Oklahoma and Hill parted ways, Hill verbaled to Rich Rodriguez two days before he took the Michigan job. He decommitted again, promising to open things up. A visit to Michigan State later, he committed to Michigan. So... do we believe the early LSU and Oklahoma offers or his second-wave recruitment, during which the big candidates were second-tier schools like West Virginia and Michigan State? Two of three gurus say the latter; Rivals is more optimistic.
What does Michigan have in Hill? The comparison above, Larry Foote, is a strong one. Like Foote, Hill is an undersized WLB who played his high school ball as a defensive end and specialized in getting into the backfield. A Scout.com report from Mooney's game against Pennsylvania power Gateway:
Taylor Hill is another player that helped change the game early on. He got a ton of pressure on the Gateway quarterback off of the edge. The Gators just never could get it going offensively due to the fact they could not establish a passing attack, and Hill played a huge role in the disruption.
His athletic director echoes the thought in a piece from late in Hill's junior year:
While several other Cardinal defenders have got a lot of attention this year â€” specifically, junior linebacker Michael Zordich and senior defensive tackle Ishmaai'ly Kitchen â€” junior defensive end Taylor Hill has flown under the radar despite a terrific season.
"This kid causes a lot of havoc," said legendary Mooney coach Don Bucci, now the school's athletic director. "When you talk about that junior class, people always name the big three of McCarthy, Zordich and [running back Brandon Beachum], but he's in their class as far as an athlete."
A local columnist summed up Hill's season after Mooney's one-point loss to Coldwater in the state championship game: "Coldwater's game plan in the state finals was, basically, to get rid of the ball so quickly it wouldn't have to block Hill."
On the other hand, ESPN's scouting report notes that he's playing out of position and has some praise for his athleticism but spends most of its length saying things like "can be undisciplined" and "can run, but needs to improve instincts and feel for the game." It's an uncommonly negative piece for ESPN. Unsurprisingly, their rating of Hill is significantly lower than that of either Scout or Rivals.
Guru Reliability: Moderate. High profile player, but playing out of position.
General Excitement Level: Moderate. A project that requires a lot of development both mentally and physically before he's ready to play, but Oklahoma and LSU offers are Oklahoma and LSU offers. High upside, high bust factor.
Projection: Obvious redshirt candidate what with the position switch and being 180 or 190 pounds and all. After that will try to find a role as a blitzing linebacker a la Foote or Shawn Crable.
|Absecon, New Jersey - 6'2" 210|
|Scout||4*, #14 WLB, #212 overall|
|Rivals||4*, #20 OLB|
|ESPN||80, #23 OLB|
|Others||#91 overall to Takkle|
|Other Suitors||Rutgers, Tennessee|
By the time Marcus Witherspoon committed in early June, I had a couple articles in which he claimed offers from BC, Florida, Georgia, Notre Dame, and 25 others... unfortunately, those have evaporated and I think maybe a couple of those are iffy. In any case, when Carr retired and Rodriguez was hired there was a minor panic as Witherspoon re-opened his recruiting, seriously considered Tennessee, and seemed headed there for a moment or two before re-committing.
Witherspoon was rated and recruited as a linebacker, but with no defensive ends in this class and just one in the previous year's, someone's likely to move. Witherspoon seems a likely candidate. Check it:
The Michigan commit definitely looks like a top DI prospect physically. Although he's listed as a linebacker, he spent most of the day at defensive end, and used an assortment of moves to harass the Immaculata quarterback and running g ame. He'll likely start off as a linebacker with the Wolverines, but don't be surprised if he grows out of that position after a year or two in their strength and conditioning program.
Witherspoon in the wild:
Last year Witherspoon racked up 27 sacks as his team went undefeated, winning the state championship as Witherspoon wreaked havoc on the edge. Witherspoon's coach before his junior season:
"We still consider him raw, so this (season) is going to be interesting," Holy Spirit coach Bill Walsh said. "At the high school level, he has the ability to take things into his own hands. We're looking forward to see what's going to happen this season. He's one of the special ones that make everyone else better.
"His first three steps are explosive and for a kid that big to run a legit 4.5 (seconds in the 40-yard dash), there are not too many kids who have his weight and size that run that legit speed. When you watch him on tape, he gets after it. But he still has a lot of growth."
An explosive edge rusher who's probably too small to be a fulltime defensive end in college? Add four inches and some chicken legs and that sounds like Shawn Crable, who actually spent quite a bit of time as a defensive end anyway. ESPN's scouting report reinforces that belief:
Natural pass rusher, who possesses the quick first step and lean to effectively get by offensive lineman. This excellent, vertical attacking ability is also evident in the run game. Very difficult to block him when trying to get the edge.
Concerns are expressed about Witherspoon being the product of an "attack-style defense" who might need some serious technique and responsibility work as a collegian... again, Crable.
Guru Reliability: High. They're all in the same ballpark; no sleeper marks.
General Excitement Level: Moderate++. Michigan's probably better off if Witherspoon doesn't see serious time for a year or two and then develops into a weakside defensive end. He won't have to be an enormous guy if VanBergen, a much larger guy who projects on the strongside, works out.
Projection: Obviously, this blog is projecting a move to DE. Or, rather, a non-move from DE.
|Princeton Junction, New Jersey - 6'3" 225|
|Scout||4*, #10 SLB, #152 overall|
|Rivals||4*, #18 OLB, #145 overall|
|ESPN||80, #14 OLB, #141 overall|
|Other Suitors||Florida, Rutgers|
|Notes||Greg Schiano followed this dude around in a helicopter.|
Only CB Boubacar Cissoko has a set of guru ratings as consistent as JB Fitzgerald's: three separate services have Fitz from around the 140th to 150th-best player in the country, and all say he's an outside linebacker. Despite that the tentative plan is to play Fitzgerald in the middle.
Fitzgerald picked Michigan over Rutgers and a legit Florida offer in late August, then picked Michigan over Rutgers again on Signing Day. Other offers came from Cal, Virginia Tech, Virginia, Georgia Tech, and a wide variety of other school.
Why did he get those offers? Well, you know what they say about a guy with huge hands...
"Coach Smith had told me that at the end of his sophomore year, he took J.B.'s hand and put it on a photocopier machine," said David Fitzgerald, J.B.'s father. "He mailed it out to all these schools."
..."boy, those guys make good linebackers." And lo, the offers flowed. ESPN($):
Possesses the flat-out speed to turn and chase down backs to the sideline, rare and very impressive for size ... His overall read-and-reaction skills need improvement. We have yet to see great reactive athleticism and a good initial jump to the football. He is such a good short-range athlete that these weaknesses are often masked.
So he's a bit raw as a linebacker, but nowhere near as raw as either Hill or Witherspoon. In marked contrast to the sack-heavy statlines of Michigan's other linebacker recruits, Fitzgerald's numbers actually look like those of a linebacker: 125 tackles, six forced fumbles, two interceptions, and two sacks. He was picked the Gatorade player of the year and Newark Star-Ledger defensive player of the year in New Jersey over OMG shirtless Florida recruit Will Hill. (Side note: the "hands" article is enormous and enlightening.)
You'd think there would be more out there on Fitzgerald, but unfortunately that's all the info I could dig up. At least it's positive.
Guru Reliability: High. Not much of a position move, three-year starter, no injury concerns, consistent rankings.
General Excitement Level: High. A good bet to be a multi-year starter.
Projection: Gives Johnny Thompson a run for his playing time in the fall; ends up a frequently-used backup and is groomed for a starting spot starting his sophomore year. Ezeh will probably head out to SLB.
|Beverly Hills, Michigan - 6'1" 220|
|Scout||3*, #23 WLB|
|Rivals||4*, #23 OLB|
|ESPN||78, #35 ATH|
|Other Suitors||Michigan State, Nebraska|
|Notes||The only youtube hit for "Kenny Demens" is so awesome. And Scandanavian. Commitment presser.|
The high school teammate of top-ranked instate running back Jonas Gray, Kenny Demens found himself similarly ignored by Michigan for the first half of the recruiting year. By June he had picked up offers from West Virginia, Nebraska, and most of the Big Ten outside of Penn State and Ohio State.
Michigan didn't get serious about offering until Demens attended their summer camp and put in an impressive performance; the late-developing interest had them temporarily behind Nebraska and Michigan State.
ESPN spends much of its scouting report discussing his potential as a fullback; when they finally get around to the idea of Demens as a linebacker they note that his short-range closing speed "can match most of the elite linebackers in this 2008 class" -- it's too bad none of Demens' film was released into the free areas of the internet, because it's mostly him laying wood to people -- and that he has some trouble moving through the muck but is a "tough, physical tackling machine" before referencing his lack of ideal measurables and giving him about the same grade everyone else does: on the three-four star borderline.
Chris Graham may not be the most appealing comparison, but the elements are all there: a little undersized (I am of the belief the 6'1" frequently thrown around as his height is overstated), has difficulting getting through traffic, praised for his short range burst and thumping tackling. Graham never figured out how to play in control or get to the right place at the right time and was thus a disappointing starter; if Demens can play smarter he could be anything from a decent starter to a borderline all Big Ten pick.
Guru Reliability: High; they all agree and there's no reason he'd be particularly underrated.
General Excitement Level: Moderate--. Offers and ratings are pretty much in agreement; Demens is a low upside sort.
Projection: Think he's a little less likely to contribute than any of the other linebackers in the class, but not by much. It'll depend on how smart he is about maximizing his abilities.
|Novi, Michigan - 6'1" 285|
|Scout||4*, #12 DT, #196 overall|
|Rivals||4*, #16 DT|
|ESPN||80, #8 DT|
|Other Suitors||MSU, PSU, Notre Dame|
|Say Hello to Mike Martin, Crabman|
|Notes||Don't blame me. ESPN said it.|
Martin committed in early June, about a month after picking up his Michigan offer. By that time Penn State, Michigan State, Purdue, and a dozen other schools had offered, but there weren't any heavyweights on his list. IIRC, he was a late-emerging sort that no one mentioned until around April or May, at which point people began to catch on. Notre Dame offered and attempted to sway Martin after the coaching change, but Martin canceled a planned visit and stuck with his commitment.
In Martin, Michigan appears to have a player almost identical to current NT Terrance Taylor. Both are mildly undersized nose tackles who were terrifying heavyweight wrestlers and powerlifters with multiple state records to their credit. Taylor was generally ranked higher (IIRC, anywhere from around #60 to the tail end of top 100 lists) and entered college much larger.
Martin doesn't look much like your stereotypical pot-bellied defensive tackle; check this video of a Martin wrestling match:
That is a slab of muscle Mike Barwis would be mildly impressed with.
This extensive highlight reel covers Martin's senior season; it often features him running ballcarriers down like he's Shawn Crable (you might want to skip the first minute, which is all still shots):
Martin is the platonic opposite of Gabe Watson, a penetrator reminiscent of USC terror Sedrick Ellis. Ellis was an All-American because he can do the sort of things Martin does in the clips above at 305 pounds and hold up at the point of attack when doubled. Martin's usually listed at 280 and is obviously way more advanced in the tao of weightroom than 99% of high schoolers: there's a chance he's just not going to get any bigger.
Guru Reliability: High.
General Excitement Level: High. The highlight reel is totally impressive, there are zero questions about work ethic or how in shape he is, and he's got pretty good guru rankings.
Projection: Will play in the DT rotation immediately, and will probably leap past Ferrara, Kates (if Kates remains on the team), et al to claim a starting spot once Taylor and Johnson graduate.
Linebacker: B+. Michigan picked up its share of athletes and did well in an area they had to after a disappointing 2007 class with just two sleepers, but some immediate impact sorts were needed and other than maybe Fitzgerald there doesn't appear to be a guy who can compete for serious playing time as a freshman.
Defensive Line: C-. I really like Martin and think he's very likely to be a productive starter and eventually an All Big Ten sort. But... uh... that's it. A year after picking up just one DE, Michigan got zero; the position now looms as the far and away #2 area of need for the 2008 class (quarterback, obviously, is #1 ). Losing Nick Perry hurt badly on a Signing Day otherwise full of pleasant surprises.
We'll see if Witherspoon or Koger or both end up at DE, but given the way the class was announced this is the biggest issue with the class outside of the understandable QB fiasco.
So I'm flying to NYC today for some R&R. Had planned on getting content up but things are a bit more hectic than I expected. Woo for lack of planning... no content today. Content will be sporadic next week, but not nonexistent.
Mysterious! A youtube user named "polaarbear" uploaded a home movie of one of the 1959 home games a couple months ago; he has returned with footage from the 1959 Ohio State game:
I love the bit where it cuts out and goes to home video of someone's graduation day. Does anyone know what the organized placard thing was supposed to be? It's incomprehensible to me.
I'm surprised he remembers. Anthony Morelli had a little chat with NFL.com, wherein he was asked this question:
In college, what player hit you the hardest?
Yeah... you know what's coming.
Michigan's Alan Branch. I completed a 28-yard out only to be hit on the chin and driven to the turf.
Uh.... what? Last time we mentioned Lansing-area Spartanbot Steve Grinzcel he was busy lauding the 7th best recruiting class in the Big Ten, but this is just plain weird:
New Michigan football coach Rich Rodriguez will no doubt get jeered for calling out Ohio State during halftime of Sunday's Wolverine-Buckeye basketball game by the same pompous wet blankets who mocked Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio for throwing the gauntlet down to Michigan.
If you'd like to review the tape, Varsity Blue has it. On said tape, Rodriguez goes for the rarely seen anti-callout, specifically claiming that he "doesn't want to make any guarantees." The only thing he promises is that the team will "play hard and physical."
"Pride comes before the fall" it ain't.
Dual Threet. Speaking of Varsity Blue, they've got an excellent post up that explores Clemson's 1999 offense, which was Rodriguez-coordinated and slow-white-dude-helmed, at least in part: Brandon Streeter and Woody Dantzler split time. VB has some highlights and stats showing the results.
Frankly, they're not encouraging as far as slow-white-dude-helming goes. Streeter was obviously a much worse runner than Danztler; he was also probably a worse passer, with three more interceptions on just 13 more attempts. Streeter also had fewer yards per attempt and touchdowns; the only thing he was better at was completion percentage. Clemson's offense was around average at 26.8 points per game; it wasn't until Danztler took over full time that the offense really started churning -- scoring leapt to 34.7 PPG in Rodriguez's second and last year as the offensive coordinator.
Maybe that's just on Streeter not being particularly good, but chances are Threet isn't going to be particularly good this year.
All your buyout needs... can be met at the aptly-named "West Virginia University v. Richard Rodriguez: The Legal Perspective," a blog run and posted on by law-talking guys.
Brian (or whoever reads this email),
My name is Josh and I was one of the OSU students up in section 47 and the one who actually started the chant. Indeed, we were chanting Tres-sel and had no idea that what we were saying would be misheard as ass-hole. Only later when an employee, not an usher, came running up the steps to our section did we realize what had happened. He asked us what we chanted because they all thought we were chanting ass-hole on the court. Frankly, we were shocked. We quickly apologized and said we chanting Tres-sel and made it clear that we would never chant ass-hole.
We can't speak for other Ohio State fans just as you can't speak for other Michigan fans, but I would like to assure you that we would never dishonor Mr. Rodriguez or any other staff/faculty/student with that type of a chant (though some of the commenters on the article would not be quick to believe).
I hope you can understand that we were only trying to rekindle the spirit of our Rivalry, the best in college sports, not to trash talk your new coach. We hope that Mr. Rodriguez can throw more fire into the Rivalry and make our future games more enjoyable for both sides. Trust me, while a victory over you guys in football is awesome, the dominance that Tressel has had these past couple of years has really taken the edge off the Rivalry. I think my favorite game, as a Senior at OSU, was the game two years ago in the Big House. Our Rivalry needs more games like that. I am sick and tired of hearing how the SEC has better rivalry games than we do, and we are glad at least you were able to take care of an SEC team in your postseason, while of late we have been less than stellar...but we are improving.
On a funny side note, we had ushers up in the section threatening to throw us out. Obviously we weren't and we weren't jeering them. But they did say that you guys don't do anything like that at our stadium, which we were quick to remind him that there are students/fans that do worse to us. But, we never swore at them or did anything to offend them except remind them of our rights to free speech.
To conclude, I hope that this email clears up the confusion of what happened at the game yesterday, and so you at least know that there are indeed classy Buckeye fans that do want our Rivalry to be the best it has ever been. Congratulations for winning yesterday and we look forward to seeing you guys in the Big Ten Tournament and at the Shoe next year. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to email me back. I've always believed that we can be rivals on the field but work together off the field to better one another.
Go Bucks........and *cringe* Go Blue
I've gotten a couple other emails to this effect, though none quite so restrained, and must conclude that they're telling the truth and that they weren't chanting "asshole," for what that's worth. It's still rude to scream throughout someone's speech and the idea that the rivalry needs to be "rekindled" a year after a #1-#2 game is pretty laughable. I wouldn't have attempted to compare Michigan fans' dastardly tendency to invade Columbus and get harassed and physically threatened with their actions, either. But FWIW.
On the topic of Vijay's nonbinding LOI idea:
I see one problem with the NBLOI idea you discussed - Roundtree would still be at Purdue. It sounds like he never would have left unless he had known Michigan was interested. He couldn't have learned that under an NBLOI, because Rod couldn't talk to him.
Maybe, maybe not. In our hypothetical world where the NBLOI is an option, it's just an option. Roundtree might have "committed" to Purdue without signing the NBLOI. And even if he had, Michigan could communicate their interest through Roundtree's coach, and at that point Roundtree could ask for the NBLOI to be rescindent. Joe Tiller would then get to offer that Ball State kid.
If that sounds like it kind of defeats the purpose of the NBLOI... well, sort of. There still couldn't be direct contact if the player had signed and the kid couldn't go on a campus visit. Someone like Michael Shaw would either have not signed in the first place or signed, then repealed his NBLOI; either would be a clear signal to Penn State that Shaw's "commitment" was not particularly strong. Despite the tussle with BSD after Signing Day, I do sympathize Penn State and Purdue's positions here, especially Purdue's. (Penn State should have seen the Shaw thing coming, and indeed most PSU fans were fretting about a potential defection for a couple weeks before it actually happened; the Roundtree thing was much more sudden.) The NBLOI and the mechanisms would put some actual teeth behind the idea of a "commitment," would save coaches and players time, annoyance, and effort, and would create even more jobs in the ever-expanding NCAA bureaucracy. Everyone wins.
Hearing rumors about a damaging article that he [Carty and the AANews] is about to publish about athletic department violations...any comments on this?
I haven't heard anything specific that hasn't been batted around on message boards, but there's enough independent smoke out there that, yes, there's something nasty coming down the pipe from the Ann Arbor News. There appear to be two camps of panickers:
- Aieeee! Florida State!
- This is going to be embarrassing, but that's all.
I don't know which side to believe but lean towards the latter out of simple disbelief that anyone in the Michigan program would have the sort of underhanded dealings that the FSU people did.
If I had to guess, I would say that the big reveal is going to be something like the recent USC and Auburn quasi-scandals where kids finagled their way into easy classes and/or abused "independent study" with cooperative professors without the cooperation of the athletic department. In the Auburn case they had someone rat out a professor whose independent "study" classes were wholly fictional; here I've heard different versions of the severity involved. One skeptical take from a message board I frequent that jives with other things I've heard:
The gist of it is that Carty's jihad against the general studies program has led nowhere. It's a real program with lots of non-athletes (as well as athletes) in it. But lots and lots of FOIA requests led to something that is somewhat troubling (although not out of compliance).
It turns out that a bunch of athletes have enrolled in independent study courses over the summer. These are legitimate courses, but arranged one-on-one with faculty members. Turns out there were a bunch of them in Psychology and the Ed School over the past few years, many supervised by just a few faculty.
It appears that the work was actually done, and non-athletes did similar work. But it's not too difficult to portray this as a scandal, which it appears that Mr. Disingenuous is trying very hard to do. Not making a lot of progress, but this will be the basis of his bid for immortality and a ticket to a real newspaper.
Remember, there do not appear to be violations here. It's not an Auburn situation where kids got grades for no work.
If all they've got is "isn't it suspicious, hmmmmmmmm" but the kids have actually done the work required of them this will be a big dud, albeit an irritating one that will work its way into the "scUM" lore of PSU, MSU, OSU, and ND message boards.
There is the separate question "should athletes be taking independent study classes en masse," the answer to which is definitely "no." But that's life when you have players spending something like 40 hours a week year-round on their chosen sport.