I'll be back Wednesday.
RIP Randy Walker. Northwestern's head coach died yesterday after a heart attack. He was 52. His accomplishments should not be overlooked. Keeping a program like Northwestern competitive is an achievement not accomplished by many. SMQB has a requiem. RTWT.
The hockey schedule is out but kind of sucks. Michigan's nonconference games that aren't the Showcase or GLI are against UConn, Alabama-Huntsville, and Northeastern, tomato cans all. Nine of the first ten games are at home -- thirteen of the first fourteen if you count exhibitions -- and the last six are not, though two are at the Joe.
As of right now, the UConn game is scheduled directly opposite the football game @ Penn State but I bet you a dollar that start gets moved to 3:00.
Um, yeah... if they handed out prizes for the most reasoned response to Michigan's pending Reed Baker Era, Maize 'n' Brew would come first. And even he said the following:
[AA News beat guy Nathan] Fenno's got the following guys as Michigan's top targets: Manny Harris (Detroit), Dante Jackson (Greenfield, Ohio), Scott Martin (Valparaiso, Ind.) and Demetri McCamey (Westchester, Ill.).
Fenno doesn't get it. I've already started combing the Southwest Chicago State rosters to find our next big recruit.
In any case, Dave has put together the most complete profile of the kid you're likely to see anywhere.
Less reasoned are RBUAS...
This is like if the UM hockey team started recruiting extras from "Mighty Ducks 2".
(No Tim Cook jokes, please) ... and Joey, well, commenter Anthony's desperate hope that he found himself away from the internets or at least sharp things went unfullfilled:
Is Isiah Thomas suddenly running this team?
The collective impression left is one of straws and camel backs. The chances that Baker is going to be anything other than dead weight on the roster are extremely small, but since he's left Michigan in the postion where Jerrett Smith is the only alternative at point guard he may be a contributor this year. That's damning enough, but the mere fact that Amaker was willing to offer a scholarship to a player that couldn't find a home anywhere in D-I without even seeing him play is beyond ridiculous. He's mortgaging what little future Michigan has -- only two open scholarships in '07 and the third is filled with a point guard -- for an extra 1% chance to make the tournament as an 11 seed this year.
The implication is clear: without an NCAA berth Amaker believe he's gone and knows that once he loses this job not even the likes of the Citadel, Birmingham Southern, and Air Force would consider him for another position. The only way he can salvage his job is to edge into the tournament this year, but in attempting to do so he's condemning Michigan to more years in NIT purgatory by filling the roster with the Gibsons, Bakers, and Wrights of the world.
So the fan is put in an awkward position: ripping the program's recruits before they appear on campus, wincing at every victory, and fervently hoping that the team does not perform well enough to save Amaker's job. Basketball coverage will not be heavy this fall.
Should Amaker be fired? Hell yes. I wish Gibson, Baker, and Wright all the success in the world starting in 2007, but we must destroy this program in order to save it.
You're going to have to endure one last blast of off-topic blogging for a few days starting July 27th. Porque? Well, um... remember how I admitted to liking televised poker? This is largely because I play. A couple days ago I finished turning a $55 entry to a step tournament into a berth in...
...The Main Event. So I'm all goin' and stuff and will relate my experiences in this space, because how often does one get to sit down at the world's biggest poker tournament? If you're me, probably once. I hope I last long enough to make it worth writing about. Also I hope I win.
Don't bust out on the first hand.
If at any point I am sitting with Johnny Chan and he folds to my raise, immediately start parroting the scene in Rounders in which Mike McD convinces himself he should go to the WSOP after bluffing out Chan:
Chan: Did you have it?
Mike: Sorry, John, I don't remember.
I'll do both roles here, Chan in a high-pitched falsetto and Mike in a rumbling basso worthy of John Wayne. After four or five times, I'll grab a couple chips -- pink for Chan, natch -- and act out the lines as a puppet drama. I'll continue until Chan throws his orange at me.
If at any point I find myself being needled by Mike Matusow, launch into following soliloquoy:
Hey, Mike, do you remember Loveline? Adam Carolla, Dr. Drew, sexy sexies, good times all around? Yeah. Great show. Remember the times when some twentysomething girl would call in and describe her incredible/improbable/outrageous sexual exploits to the rapt crowd? Yeah. It got to the point where they wouldn't ask the girl if she had been abused, but when it happened?
Yeah. I'm just sayin'. It's like Clue. Pick the relative, place, and orifice. I say Uncle Sully, rec room, mouth.
If at any point I find myself to the right of Phil Ivey I will fold until the table breaks up. Unless Phil Ivey is reading this, in which case I will get aces every hand.
If I get far enough to actually be on TV, and find myself in a big TV-worthy hand, I will tell the world that Lloyd Carr needs to stop punting on fourth and medium when a first down seals the game.
Over at EDSBS. This one is an exercise in vanity... I'm not sure why anyone would care about autobiographical details but I'll play along. Everyone loves talkin' about themselves.
1. Education. List the region of the country you were born in, what universities you attended and at least one other you would have attended if your alma mater didn't exist.
Er. "Region of the country" is "outside of it." Dad working for an oil company == birth certificate that says "Saudi Arabia" on it and a giant pain in the ass whenever I cross a national border.
I attended Michigan and got two computer engineering degrees from the place. If Michigan didn't exist I would likely have ended up at a reasonably priced dork factory that isn't the kind of place that cares whether or not you were in the National Honor Society and all that crap. Illinois? Northwestern? Georgia Tech? None of these seem like remotely acceptabe answers.
2. Sports Affiliations. List your top 10 favorite teams in all of sports in descending order. For instance, your alma mater's football team may be number 1, but perhaps there is a professional team that squeezes in before you get to your alma mater's lacrosse team.
Descending as in in least important at top or most? I dunno. Anyway, there are tiers in this one:
Life And Death
1. Michigan Football
2. Michigan Hockey
More Important Than Voting
3. Detroit Pistons
4. Edmonton Oilers
5. USA Soccer
Special Holding Cell For Team Without Hope Or Accomplishments Coached By Man Without Fashion Sense Or Recruiting Ability That May Once Have Held Great Interest But That Seems So Long Ago Now I Mean Seriously
6. Michigan Basketball
7. Detroit Lions
8. Denver Broncos
9. Detroit Tigers
10. Michigan Baseball
3. Movies. List the movie you've watched the most, your favorite sports related movie, the movie you secretly love but don't like to admit it (possibly a chick flick or b film), and the movie you were (or still are) most looking forward to from this summer's season.
Most watched: Probably a tie between the Big Lebowski the answer to part B. This answer can come as no surprise to anyone who's caught an "in the parlance of our times" reference in this space.
Favorite sports movie: Rounders. Even if you (quite reasonably) contest the idea of poker as sport, Rounders is a sports movie down to the opening/closing thrilling "game scenes" against the recurring enemy. In Rounders it's John Malkovich with a ludicrous Russian accent and a propensity for making pelvic thrusting motions, which officially makes him the best sports movie villian ever. Ever-ever.
Shame flick: Does Rush Hour count? Probably not, since it has Jackie Chan in it. How about The Rock? A thoroughly dumb Jerry Bruckheimer movie starring Nicholas Cage has to be eligible for this category.
I have no idea what movies are coming out this summer, but I did hear tell that they called Samuel L. Jackson in to actually say "THERE ARE MOTHERFUCKING SNAKES ON THIS MOTHERFUCKING PLANE." That's awesome and enough to make one want to see Snakes On A Plane.
4. Music. List your favorite band from middle school, high school, college and today. Also, as with the movies, include the song you secretly love but don't like to admit. If Nickleback is involved in any of these responses, please give a detailed explanation as to why, god, why.
Middle school: I don't know if I had a favorite band per se, but I did listen to the two competing rap stations almost exclusively. The first album I ever bought was the soundtrack to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie and my favorite song on it was T.U.R.T.L.E Power, so whoever did that probably.
High School: They Might Be Giants.
College: Ben Folds Five? Or perhaps Robert Earl Keen?
Now: Andrew Bird. Or Interpol or Ted Leo.
Shamelove song: Toxic, Britney Spears.
5. Books. Favorite book you've finished, worst book you've finished and the book you really should read but haven't gotten around to it.
Worst: Things Fall Apart. Actual line that burned itself into my head due to sheer crappiness and has persisted in my memory for more than a decade: "Yams were a man's crop, the king of crops." Add in Chinua Achebe's infuriating career built largely upon declaring Heart of Darkness racist and viola: extreme dislike.
Should Read: I can think of nothing I have some deep desire to read that I have been somehow prevented from acquiring. I should probably expand the Stanislaw Lem I've consumed.
6. Travel. Favorite city you've every been to and the one place you still must visit before you shuffle off this mortal coil.
Favorite city: Galway, Ireland
Unrealized Destination: I have this idea that a friend and I should travel from the very top of Chile all the way down to Tierra Del Fuego and write a travel book about it called "Two Idiots Versus Chile."
7. What do you love most about college football in 20 words or less?
Sitting in Michigan Stadium 45 minutes before the opener; everything seems possible and only sunburn is definite.
[A quintessential Michigan fan answer that avoids the actual playing of the games, eh? -ed. Shut up. And go away, you're Kaus's gimmick.]
I don't think anyone's picked up on this distressing nugget of news yet, but it's pretty stark. When I was previewing Michigan State I ran my eye across the vast array of stats provided by the Big Ten website and found this in the "conference only" section:
TOTAL DEFENSE G Rush Pass Plys Yards Avg TD Yds/G
1. Ohio State.......... 8 646 1523 525 2169 4.1 12 271.1
2. Penn State.......... 8 948 1595 573 2543 4.4 16 317.9
3. Michigan............ 8 1167 1868 568 3035 5.3 18 379.4
4. Michigan State...... 8 1567 1670 536 3237 6.0 31 404.6
5. Iowa................ 8 1018 2292 627 3310 5.3 21 413.8
6. Purdue.............. 8 1389 2047 618 3436 5.6 22 429.5
7. Minnesota........... 8 1478 1986 563 3464 6.2 31 433.0
8. Indiana............. 8 1715 1821 583 3536 6.1 35 442.0
9. Northwestern........ 8 1699 2062 642 3761 5.9 28 470.1
10.Wisconsin........... 8 1917 1913 613 3830 6.2 28 478.8
11.Illinois............ 8 2090 1909 601 3999 6.7 46 499.9
Great googly moogly! The horrendous, Jaren Hayes-featuring Michigan State defense was the fourth best in the conference despite yielding over 400 yards a game! "Three yards and a cloud of dust" was more like six and change. Exactly three teams could be described as "not total crap" with even the slightest degree of accuracy, and one of them was Michigan's totally mediocre unit. The mind boggles. The national rank (in yardage) of each Big Ten defense over all games:
5. Ohio State
12. Penn State
Middling To Bad-Ish
This Fortune Cookie Says "Onside Kicks Are Your Friend"
87. Michigan State
(I totally should have saved "great googly moogly" for this bit. Er, how about...)
Sweet fancy Moses! What happened? Some hypotheses:
- The sudden spread-happiness of the Big Ten increased the efficacy of previously inept offenses like Indiana and Illinois. Meanwhile, its tendency to lengthen the game with scads of incomplete passes gave their defenses even more chances to play matador.
- Laurence Maroney and Brian Calhoun.
- Generally solid defenses like Iowa and Wisconsin were gutted by graduation; Purdue's usually decent unit was caught up in the team-wide Boiler implosion.
- Ancient quarterbacks. Every team outside of Indiana and Illinois started the year with an quarterback with at least a half-dozen games under his belt.
- Jim Herrmann.
Maroney, Calhoun, and Herrmann are gone, but the only quarterbacks on their way out are Michael Robinson, Brandon Kirsch, and Brett Basanez, and Kirsch lost his job at midseason anyway. No team has decided to abandon the spread. The two defenses that were actually good lost nine (OSU) and seven (PSU) starters. It's unlikely that any of the bottom-feeders miraculously find some backbone. All signs point to it raining touchdowns in the Big Ten next year.
...and this will be an Onion story too implausible to actually be funny.
"Everything happens for a reason."
That's the moldy maxim Reed Baker heard again and again as one college after another crushed his basketball dreams.
On Wednesday, Baker realized his consolers were right.
The former Bishop Verot High School standout accepted a full basketball scholarship from the University of Michigan, just hours after returning from a whirlwind visit to the Ann Arbor campus.
Oh, so we got a point guard? Cool. Can't be worse that Jerrett Smith, and he's probably pissed after some misunderstanding with Duke or UConn or UNC...
Signing with the Wolverines ends a seven-month odyssey for Baker, who first signed with The Citadel in November.
In March, however, coach Pat Dennis resigned and the school made it clear Baker was no longer a desired commodity, releasing him from his commitment.
REJECTED BY THE CITADEL? Surely this is some sort of misunderstanding and the Citadel is ruing their rash decision to sign this late bloomer. I bet the latter half of this Odyssey of his is filled with more imp--
Baker landed at Birmingham Southern in April but learned in late May that the school would be dropping from NCAA Division I status to Division III in 2007-08 because of finances.
Oh God. On the school totem pole you have your "U of" at the top, your "State" just under it, and then quite a long way before the "Directional State U" schools. Birmingham isn't even a state. It may just be some guy's house. Baker is good enough to play for a team composed of the southern portion of some guy's house. In D-III. There can be no more indignities, can there?
Earlier this month, the Air Force Academy offered Baker a full scholarship but pulled it after learning he had a peanut allergy, which violated the academy's extensive physical requirements.
I have an allergy to point guards late of service academies and Directional Some Guy's House U, but I find Tommy Amaker somewhat less strict with his extensive physical requirements. Well, at least they scouted the guy; maybe he's a diamond in the--
"He said I was the first guy he gave a scholarship to without seeing him play," Baker said of Amaker. "He said he liked my court savvy and the intelligence of my game."
AAAAAAAAAARGH. AAAAAAAARGH. Meet the new Ba, same as the old Ba.
Blah blah blah hope for Amaker and Baker's success blah blah blah let this in no way be construed as a shot at what may indeed be a fine young man blah blah blah. Wake me up when we're having the mock turtleneck bonfire on State Street (NOT Directional Some Guy's House Street.)