Update 8/27: Moved PA HB Christian Wilson to committed. Removed OK S Kye Staley (Okie State), TX DE Kapron Lewis-Moore (A&M). Linked to articles on MI OL commit Dann O'Neill (another), NJ LB Chris Pantale, video feature on PA HB commit Christian Wilson, more articles on MN WR Michael Floyd, AZ CB Marc Anthony, CA RB Darrell Scott, CO LB Jon Major, PA HB Christian Wilson, PA DE Shayne Hale.
FWIW: internets scuttlebutt on NJ LB JB Fitzgerald. And Varsity Blue took in an OLSM-Cass Tech game, reporting back on Cissoko and '09 commit Will Campbell plus '09 WR/TE Dion Sims. Also: an article on elusive PA CB Jarred Holley that may have an incorrect list for him.
Editorial Opinion: Not much movement. Everyone who was planning to commit by the time their football season got in swing already has; those waiting for official visits haven't started taking them yet.
Varsity Blue took it upon themselves to go check out a Cass Tech-OLSM game featuring Michigan commits Boubacar Cissoko and William Campbell plus high profile '09 WR/TE Dion Sims:
In my previous experiences with Cissoko, I had been under the impression that his listed height was greater than the 5-7 he is typically reported to be. However, seeing Cissoko in action, it was obvious he was a tiny guy. As just a high school senior, it is possible that he is still growing.
On defense, Cissoko was not afraid to get physical with much bigger players, and he was frequently matched up against Dion Sims. Despite giving Sims almost a foot in height and close to 100 pounds, Cissoko showed no fear in jamming Sims off the line and downfield. Cissoko did get burned once deep, as he got his head around too late on a long pass, and due to his height, was unable to compensate. He did, however, make the tackle a couple yards shy of the endzone. As a tackler, Cissoko tends to focus on the hit, rather than wrapping up the ballcarrier. However, on the occasion that Cissoko wasn't able to get a clean shot on the carrier, he wisely used his arms to take out the legs. Cissoko chased down two sweep plays in the backfield, one of them on a shoestring tackle.
There is more: Campbell is very large, Sims might be destined for TE, and more pictures.
NJ LB Chris Pantale is a tight end to most schools, but Michigan is recruiting him as an enormous linebacker. At 6'6", 235 pounds, he's Crable-sized. Michigan has a good shot:
"My favorites would probably be Boston College, Virginia and Michigan," he said.
Pantale just returned from a trip to Michigan and Michigan State with his father, Bill. ... At Michigan, Pantale walked into the legendary Schembechler Hall and immediately felt the rich football tradition. He met with head coach Lloyd Carr and linebacker coach Steve Szabo, who said he sees Pantale as a strong side linebacker.
"Then I got a tour of the Big House, 107,000 seats," Pantale said. "It was unbelievable. The trip was really good for me to be able to help narrow my choices."
It's still Cal, Michigan, and Nebraska for AZ CB Marc Anthony:
"I have two official visits set up. I am going to Nebraska on September 14th for the USC game and September 21st for the Penn State game at Michigan."
"I think I will take an official before that. We are working to try and get that one set up for an official to Cal in September. It's not confirmed yet, though."
Cal is at Oregon on the 29th, so Michigan will get the last visit. Given his report of a Michigan lead after camp, other articles in which he's admitted that Nebraska trails Cal and Michigan, and the visit pattern I think Anthony is a very good bet to be the second corner in the class. Anthony just picked up a fourth star from Rivals; Scout still has him at three.
The rest of the above articles are fluffy profiles without much in the way of news.
One final note: you can file this under "specious internet rumors," but RecruitingPlanet's thread on JB Fitzgerald recently acquired a post from a man who claims a connection:
I have a close friend who coaches at WWPB (his HS). Says it looks *VERY* good for Blue. Also said he is a great kid and very smart.
This is the conventional wisdom on Fitzgerald; it's nice to have it reinforced. He is also visiting for Penn State; no other visits are set yet.
Someone managed to track down elusive PA CB Jarred Holley and get a distressing list:
The number of offers he received from Division I schools skyrocketed, and now the 5-11, 178-pound Holley has defending national champion Florida recruiting him heavily, in addition to Penn State, Pittsburgh, West Virginia, Georgia Tech, Virginia, Michigan State, North Carolina State, Stanford, and Rutgers -- just to name the schools on his final list for consideration.
State is highlighted because dollars to donuts that's supposed to be just "Michigan." A guy from Pennsylvania does not have Florida, Virginia, Stanford, Georgia Tech, and Michigan State on one list. (Also the previous articles, vague as they were, implied Michigan was a factor while offering no mention of State.) Think this is a reporter error. Holley's still a long way from making a decision.
...is your kicker:
"As of right now, Jason Gingell will be doing field goals and I will be doing kickoffs," kicker Bryan Wright said Saturday at U-M's fan day at Michigan Stadium.
Gingell, Wright and K.C. Lopata were competing for the open position and, according to Gingell and Wright, they were informed by the coaches on Thursday of the decisions.
"I always kept my hopes up and knew with Garrett leaving, it would be open," said Gingell, a 5-foot-9, 191-pound senior from Northville who played with U-M long snapper Sean Griffin at Detroit Catholic Central. "What the coaches look for is consistency ... It's better at the end of camp to finish better and it was more important to be consistent at the end of camp instead of at the beginning and I was at the end."
I would prefer to see Wright, a redshirt freshman on scholarship, take the job, but I'll let him miss a couple 27-yarders against Appalachian State before I bust out the tinfoil hat.
-- Among the other position battles, freshman cornerback Troy Woolfolk said Morgan Trent and Johnny Sears are the starting corners.
"I'm at second string at cornerback, trying to work my way up there," Woolfolk said.
He said the mental part of the game, especially learning to read his keys, is the biggest challenge.
-- Right guard Alex Mitchell said his right knee, which he "tweaked in a practice" last week, is improving during rehab and he hopes to return for the Oregon game on Sept. 8.
Don't think the Woolfolk thing is particularly meaningful except as an indication that Doug Dutch is never going to see the field ever, but it would be nice to have Mitchell available for a potentially scary game against Oregon.
Update: Also, Carson Butler says he's not buried in the doghouse:
A six-game starter in 2006, Butler led all Michigan tight ends with 19 catches. Despite his extended absence this off-season, the redshirt sophomore said he should be able to contribute to the Wolverines in short order.
"I feel like I'm back in the mix," he said. "Not too far away."
Anyone out there get something useful from Fan Day? Like, say "Johnny Sears will be an All-American?" Bueller?
Yea, these are the times that try men's souls. The Big Ten Network is probably not coming to many people who would like to watch the Appalachian State game. But the internet is here to help.
Options other than the bar:
1. MGoVideo. Remember MGoVideo.com? You should. It's pretty cool: a bittorrent tracker focused exclusively on Michigan athletics. I have emailed the site's operator about plans for the opening weekend:
Something should be up about two or three hours after the game. I've suggested a 1.5GBish avi and then maybe a DVD later in the week for big games but I don't have any clear agreement with the uploader yet.
Torrents tend to go faster when more people are active on them and there are plans for FTP sharing to get a number of seeders up and going, so this has the potential to be a relatively rapid answer to the problem. You probably wouldn't get the game down until Sunday morning, but it's not like Appalachian State or EMU is really in doubt anyway. I will post a link to the torrent as soon as it becomes available on Saturday. For you to take advantage of it you'll need to download one of the many BitTorrent clients -- I use Azureus -- but from there it will be a matter of clicking and waiting.
Positives: reliable, good quality copy of the game.
Negatives: takes a long time. Dubious legality.
2. Sopcast. I don't know much about this "sopcast" thing but I do know that soccer dorks use it to watch games from all over the world thanks to the the valiant efforts of a few guys with massive upload bandwidth. Essentially, it's a slingbox that you broadcast to the internet at large. I don't have the time (arrrgh previews arrrrgh) to set this up myself, but anyone with the technical ability and resources to set up a sopcast of Appalachian State, please let me know and I'll put up links to the appropriate items.
Negatives: could blow up. Scalability questions. Dubious legality.
On the "dubious legality": no one's going to track you down because you downloaded the Appalachian State game. At some point copyright owners might attempt to shut down the trackers or sopcasters, but there's no precedent for anyone taking action against a downloader AFAIK. Unless you are really amazingly paranoid it should be of no concern.
Who is overrated?
The easiest thing to do here is present The Hoosier Report's argument for Georgia:
To some degree, my rationale for ranking the Bulldogs #5 (as opposed to #14 in the Blogpoll at large) is inconsistent with above. UGa returns only 3 defensive starters. Consistent with my other logic, the Bulldogs do return QB Matthew Stafford, who should be better (of course, being worse would be almost impossible). In the SEC East, even compared to defending champion Florida, I trust Richt's track record at Georgia more than I trust the track record of any other coach/program. Last year was Georgia's worst season since Richt's first season, 2001. My hunch is that Georgia will rebound. That's good enough for the preseason, right?
Well... no! No, it isn't. Witness: we've got the three returning starters from the defense that kept Georgia afloat last year, a red flag from a clever theorem, and the low likelihood of a true sophomore with an almost 1:2 TD-INT ratio carrying a team anywhere except a Year of Considerable Pain . But this is the trump card:
Because of injuries, four true or redshirt freshmen are playing on the first-team offensive line right now.
In all, Georgia is down to eight scholarship linemen. None of the injuries is too serious.Projected starters Chester Adams, a senior, and Scott Haverkamp, a junior college transfer, should be back from ankle injuries within a couple of days. In the meantime, redshirt freshman defensive lineman Kiante Tripp was moved to the offensive line Tuesday.
Haverkamp is a first-year player, and Adams is at a new position and in a new role as a leader. Their brief departures from the practice field have shown just how tenuous Georgia's grasp on success up front is.
"I told myself after 2003 it wouldn't happen again," Bulldogs coach Mark Richt said.
But the thin red line happened in 2006 and now, as proven the past few days, could easily happen again in 2007.
"We got pretty slim out there for a while last year," said Davis, a redshirt freshman. "And it is looking a little scary out there now."
It could be downright frightening if you look at it from the perspective of quarterback Matthew Stafford. There's a strong chance both tackle positions will be held down by true freshmen.
Trinton Sturdivant is almost a lock to start at left tackle, on Stafford's blind side. Clint Boling is making a push to play at the right tackle. (If the latter happened, Adams would move back to his natural guard position.)
And the learning curve is Everest-steep. Georgia kicks off the season against two teams with high hopes, Oklahoma State and South Carolina.
This is going to be bad. Very, very bad. Unless Stafford matures immediately (chances of this...
...are slim) or the Georgia offensive line turns into Christmas Miracle Voltron, the offense is going to be just as bad as it was last year when Georgia was wildly fortunate to finish 9-4. With a nearly all-new defense, replicating even that record looks like a longshot. The only reason to rank the Dawgs appears to be historical inertia.
I'm also highly dubious about Auburn for similar reasons. SMQB's brilliant "Life on the Margins" series is a preseason feature that explores the particularly lucky and unlucky teams of the previous year. Auburn comes in for a bludgeoning:
Sounding the alarm at least as loud as anything in that chart [which showed Auburn outgained significantly in four separate wins] is this: Auburn was 6-2 in the SEC, yet was outgained by about 33 yards per conference game (Vanderbilt, 1-7, was outgained by 24.7 ypg). Not only were the Tigers incredibly opportunistic â€“ the great turnover margin, the pass interference no-call against LSU, a defensive and a special teams touchdown against Florida, the onside kick at South Carolina, short field scores in rock-bottom offensive efforts against 'Bama and Nebraska â€“ but they were the only team in the conference that couldn't also argue about the one that got away, because their two losses were unambiguous blowouts at the hands of Arkansas and Georgia, both starting true freshman quarterbacks on the road.
Brandon Cox has never impressed and he regressed badly towards the end of 2006. He threw 19 interceptions, the same as Curtis Painter. Also, Auburn has a bit of a problem on the offensive line, too. One starter returns; true freshman Lee Ziemba is the probable starter at one tackle spot. Other freshmen dot the two-deep in uncomfortable places like wide receiver, safety, and center. I think 15 is pretty generous even though they were 11-2 last year. I can see ranking them somewhere at the tail end of the poll.
Who is underrated?
Arkansas. It's odd that the most hyped player in the country finds his team in need of this sort of defending, but apparently he does. The offense returns virtually intact, down only two offensive linemen and Mitch Mustain, still in possession of McFadden, Felix Jones, and Marcus Monk, three men undoubtedly raised in a secret laboratory somewhere. Even though the Hogs couldn't throw worth a damn last year, they still finished 29th in total offense. If Casey Dick can just elevate himself to slight competence...
Arkansas is suffering from a sort of inverse Charles Rogers Theorem effect, I think, after losing their final three games of the year. But I submit these facts to you: LSU was outgained in its victory and the final margin came courtesy a kick return touchdown. Wisconsin was outgained nearly two-to-one but managed to hang on to the Citrus Bowl. (Florida did outplay Arkansas, although that backbreaking Reggie Fish punt muff screams "alternate history fork point".)
Perhaps it's just my natural skittishness as a Michigan fan that has to actually face this team, but Oregon also seems low to me. Again, this is a team that finished the year poorly, in Oregon's case spectacularly so. The Ducks lost their last four games, the finale a 30-point loss to a pretty meh BYU team, and finished 6-7 only because of one of the all-time refereeing gaffes in college football history. Plus, their quarterback spent the summer screwing around with baseball. But, again, Life on the Margins reveals a major discrepancy:
Oregon is a classic "margin" team because of these two very relevant statistics:
Yardage Margin in Pac Ten Games: + 136.4
Turnover Margin in Pac Ten Games: - 13
The first number was by far the best in the conference. The second number was by far the worst. The second number is probably also more important: Oregon's ten-win team in 2005, for example, only outgained conference opponents by about 77 yards per game, good but well below last y
ear's team, yet it challenged for the BCS because it was also plus-13 in turnover margin.
SMQB goes on to point out that the reason for that -13 has much to do with Dennis Dixon's propensity for spectacularly bad interceptions and that a good deal about this season hinges on his ability to fix this problem. Will he? Dunno. That baseball thing has to give Duck fans the heebie-jeebies. But he is a senior with lots of starting experience and has a wicked set of skill position players to work with. The defense? I don't know. But Oregon's crap 2006 record has one clear cause that should get fixed. I expect a major bounce.
Thanks for your coverage on the everlasting standoff between the BTN and Comcast. It seems like the whole thing hinges on placement on basic cable inside the BT footprint. Good to know, but mostly irrelevant to someone like me outside the footprint who already subscribes to the Comcast sports tier. I say mostly, because although it seems that both sides are in agreement that it should be on the sports tier outside the footprint, I have heard no confirmation and fear it may be held up until the overall agreement is signed. Have you heard anything solid from either side regarding the availability of the network outside the footprint? I live in DC and vividly recall a season's worth of Washington Nationals games being lost because of a dispute between Comcast and the Mid Atlantic Sports Network. (Not that you or I care about the Nationals, but it shows a willingness on Comcast's part to play hardball (HA! I kill me.) when it comes to televising local
One other issue -- I saw that the BTN will be regionalizing multiple games played at the same time. It would be the ultimate insult to me if I actually got the BTN and then it showed the PSU game instead of Beloved Michigan. The BTN website tries to assuage fears of this by stating: "Whenever the Big Ten Network is producing more than one game at a time, cable and satellite providers that have agreed to carry the Big Ten Network will be offered the chance to carry the additional games via "overflow" channels." What the hell is an "overflow channel"? And how likely is it that a DC Comcast provider is going to pay to put UM - App State on an "overflow channel"? I'm guessing slim to none.
Conclusion: This blows as much as those This is Big Ten Country ads I saw on the BTN website.
Again, thanks for fighting the good fight.
I'm not an expert on the arcane jargon of the TV business, but I'm pretty sure that an overflow channel is one of those channels in the distant reaches of your 1,000 channel selection that is either dormant or full of obscure PPV shows. If we make the (potentially large) assumption that the cable companies and Big Ten Network come to a satisfactory resolution, the good news is that the BTN is offering everything it provides at one price. So the $1.10 (or whatever) the cable company pays covers the BTN, the HD version of the BTN, the video on demand, and the overflow channels. The only reason a company wouldn't provide overflow broadcasts is if they simply couldn't push the bits, something that seems extremely improbable. FWIW, DirectTV has already agreed to carry the overflow.
More BTN, this from a second source that confirms the Comcast-BTN breakdown:
I'm a frequent commenter at mgoblog. I have a little insight into the BTN situation that I've actually been meaning to email to you but forgot until I saw your most recent post on the Fanhouse. The conversation I'm referencing took place 2 weeks ago, so all quotes are paraphrased.
I was home (in Novi) a couple of weekends ago when I happened to run into an old neighbor who has either been involved with or is knowledgeable on (or both) the negotiations between Comcast and BTN. We were catching up and the conversation eventually turned to the BTN, and whether or not I was going to be able to see the games placed on the network where I live (I recently graduated and moved to suburban Philadelphia in New Jersey).
He made several points in the conversation that assured me the BTN people have their heads on straight. Among them were that Comcast is forcing people to have Lifetime, WE, Oxygen, Home Shopping Network, Versus, the Golf Channel, and other Comcast owned sports networks on their basic tier and refusing to carry BTN. He said that he presumes the reason that Comcast isn't willing to carry BTN on basic is because it's going to set a precedent for other conferences and sports leagues to follow in the Big Ten's footsteps. What that will do is eat away at games Comcast shoves on its smaller regionally owned networks. Basically, it's not about the customer, it's about Comcast protecting the rights to carry games (and other content) on networks it owns.
I'm sure you were able to figure out (or were told) most of the information I just described above. He did tell me some things I hadn't heard before. He said, "between you and me, if Comcast was willing to negotiate the $1.10 figure, this thing would be over tomorrow. They have no intent to put our network on basic cable." He reiterated that the $1.10 figure wasn't out of line based on the content they were going to provide, but that the BTN is willing to negotiate. I told him that I hoped the BTN didn't cave because I hate Comcast and everything unholy that it stands for. His response to that was to tell me that the BTN has every intention to take this stalemate into the season. He said most of the larger regional cable providers were waiting to see what kind of deal Comcast was going to get before negotiating their own deals with the BTN. He said that once the standoff goes into the season that Congressmen from every state that is home to a Big Ten university were going to get involved (or possibly going to get involved, I forget) and at that point they figure a deal will get done.
Basically, unless there is a dramatic break through, come week 1 of the football season, nobody is going to get this channel. The BTN is banking on public outrage, getting Congress involved, and then the plan is to take it from there. I don't believe that the network is going to end up anywhere other than basic within the Big Ten footprint. It's pretty clear to me, at least, that the problem here lies with Comcast, and that's not surprising to me in the slightest.
frequent commenter Matt who says his roomates Jeremy and Phil can f themselves
I don't have much to offer here: this is not good. I emailed the BTN Media Relations guy who I've shot the occasional question to about the BTN after the Silverman interview and he confirmed the grimness as well. I brought up the possibility this was posturing in earlier posts about the breakdown, but why only posture at Comcast and not Time-Warner, etc.? The chances this gets resolved before the season hover near zero.
So, it's contingency plan time. I'll put up a post on alternatives soon. Our bandwidth may be able to salvage this for the afflicted.
With regards to the Diallo Johnson punt return thing, he may be getting a bad rap. I remember he was good for 13-14 yards per return, every return. Just freakishly consistant. Very nice after Woodson's "most exciting two yards in football" returns. I seem to remember some problems with returners catching the ball that season as well, though I don't have any facts on that and whether it was Whitley, Bellamy or one of the Currys. Anyway, my point is that anyone who handles all the punts cleanly and you can count on for 13-14 yards per return is okay. Sort of a Mike Hart of punt returns. We were spoiled by Breaston who was that plus the ability to break one. Johnson probably wasn't going to bust one, but he was always going forward. I'm sure Lloyd liked that about him.
Andrew might be right here: Diallo Johnson, surprisingly, averaged 10.6 yards a return over the course of his career. This doesn't live up to the numbers put up by Breaston but is about what Julius Curry (10.9) and Marquise Walker (10.8) did. And just about everyone beat the pants of one Charles Woodson and his 8.7. But none of them ever did this:
(Note: looking this up caused me to stumbl
e across a feature on MGoBlue I did not know existed: a prodigious database of player stats that goes back to the 50s. Need to know Roosevelt Smith's career rushing average? No problem! It's 4.5 YPC.)
Dear Unverified Voracity,
"Long time listener (reader), first time caller (emailer)."
I have a quick question/comment on the injury of Alex Mitchell. Do you not think it's possible they move Boren back to RG and let Moose get some snaps in? Or... with all the talk about trying O-lineman at different spots, move Moosman to RG? What's the deal with this guy? He was the most highly recruited C/G of the bunch (Molk,Ciulla,etc.) with equal or more experience than all. Also, I've seen him around and he looks like a beast. Can you share some knowledge?
It appears that the first option at RG without Alex Mitchell is Jeremy Cuilla and, should Cuilla go down, I would bet on Mark Ortmann drawing into the lineup with Schilling (the projected starter at RT) moving inside. One of the things a center has to do is get all the line calls right, so it's not as interchangeable as you might think. Moosman has gotten some meaningful praise -- it wouldn't surprise me to see him draw into the lineup when Kraus graduates -- but Cuilla has a couple years experience on him and has seen substantial playing time when the starters have gotten dinged. He'd probably be all right if pressed into a full-time starting job.
Fox executive Bob Thompson said Thursday morning that he is "100 percent confident" that no deal will be struck with Comcast by Sept. 1, when the BTN will telebvise six football games.
"Having been through 15 of these (launches), I have a feel for the way things go," said Thompson, the president of Fox National Cable Sports Networks and a BTN board member. "There really has been no negotiation for a month."
This is potentially posturing designed to increase DirecTV flight, but it's also a direct statement specific to Comcast. Elsewhere there is mention of significant hope deals with other providers get done.
"We have never made a proposal to them at $1.10," Thompson said in a telephone interview. "It has always been less than that. Other than expanded basic in the footprint, everything else is negotiable. We have gone the extra mile to create opportunities for meaningful negotiation to happen.
"$1.10 is the sticker price for a car."
If the Big Ten Network is really truly available for a number significantly below $1.10 (say 70 or 80 cents) that seems hard to justify keeping off given the prices of other RSNs, the amount of content on the BTN, and the distribution of CSS. But: posturing, maybe.