this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
In the latest edition of "this ain't your father's Michigan football program," ESPN did their all-access thingy with a spring practice:
The segment goes downhill once Captain Platitude Kirk Herbstreit declares that Michigan is adopting an "us versus them" mentality, instead of, like, the "some of us versus them and the rest of us" adopted by Notre Dame last year.
(Via the Diag.)
Speaking of, nobody cares about Charlie Weis using H E double hockey sticks to describe where Michigan can go; we have heard the word deployed and, yes, do know that Bo basically said the same thing about ND. We're just laughing at Weis E Coyote preemptively mocking Michigan's "excuses" mere days after muttering about thugs and hooligans. Unlike Notre Dame fans, we do not think a not-for-public-consumption statement that expresses disdain for an institution via bad words is particularly noteworthy or horrible.
There is funny news about the basketball program. It is not bad news, nor indifferent news. It is an entirely new basketball-related sort of news. I think it is called "good"?
The NCAA has granted Arizona transfer Laval Lucas-Perry's appeal to be granted an extra year of eligibility, meaning the guard will be eligible to play three and a half seasons at Michigan
Lucas-Perry still has to sit out until the winter semester, but will be considered a freshman by the NCAA instead of a sophomore.
Hostybits. The baseball season is winding to its end, and the newly renovated Fish is likely going to see a heavy dose of postseason action. Michigan has won the Big Ten for the third straight year and will host the conference tournament, and with a few smaller schools who will not bid for regionals poised for #1 seeds, the general opinion is the committee will attempt to provide Michigan a regional. Baseball America:
San Diego and Coastal Carolina look like strong contenders to earn No. 1 seeds for the second straight year, but neither team is likely to submit a bid to host a regional as they did a year ago. USD coach Rich Hill said San Diego State's Tony Gwynn Stadium played like a neutral site a year ago, rather than a home environment, so the Toreros don't plan to bid again. And the Myrtle Beach Pelicans have said their stadium is unlikely to be available again for Coastal, meaning the Chanticleers would have to bring in temporary seating to Charles L. Watson Stadiumâ€”a scenario that also seems unlikely. So USD gets shipped to Michigan as the top seed, and Coastal is the No. 1 seed at East Carolina, which is 10th in the RPI and would give Conference USA a second host.
Michigan is a #2 seed in San Diego's regional; #3 LSU and #4 Wright State are the other teams. Michigan, by the way, is the only Big Ten team in the field.
This could be a significant advantage for Michigan going forward. With the fancy new stadium and college baseball's desire to have hosts in the midwest more often than not, Michigan is in line to host more than their fair share of regionals.
History! I haven't actually embedded a WolverineHistorian video in a while:
West Virginia newspaper columnists are awesome. This contretemps about the #1 jersey and Braylon being ticked is highly likely to be resolved satisfactorily in the near future, but don't tell that to West Virginians:
For a sports writer in this neck of the woods, Rich Rodriguez has become the gift that keeps on giving.
This is the slow time of the year around here, finals week, graduation, a time when a sports columnist has to wrack his brain â€” or what's left of it after dealing with the likes of Pacman Jones and Chris Henry â€” to come up with a story idea.
This is Bob Hertzel, and he is correct to warn the reader that he is brain dead.
The No. 1 uniform meant a lot to Edwards. It has belonged exclusively to a wide receiver since 1979, dating back to Chris Carter.
There's something wrong with this sentence: his name is "Cris Carter." Oh, and uh... here's a photo of Wolverine legend Cris Carter in his precious #1 jersey:
Little known fact: in 1979, Michigan and Ohio State were sent the wrong jerseys. With the nation at war with Cuba, all horses were diverted to Teddy Roosevelt's unit so they could be heroically and futilely shot. The two rivals had no choice but to don the other's silks.
Also, one equaled two for a brief period in the fall.
Please. You'd think Penn State fans' righteous indignation about Rich Rodriguez's recruiting would be severely blunted by the fact that PSU just yoinked Maryland cornerback Darrell Givens out from underneath Ohio State's nose. Not so much. Black Shoe Diaries:
I'm sure that certain people who swear there is no gentleman's agreement between Big Ten coaches will claim that we just violated it. Whatever. It's pretty obvious since Rodriguez joined the conference that anything goes, so when in Rome...
Weak, man. A little rhetorical flourish to preemptively dismiss the obvious: there never was any "gentleman's agreement" and Penn State fans are full of crap. Yeah, "anything goes" since Rodriguez showed up, which is why the very post BSD linked has no fewer than four examples of intraconference poaching the year before Rodriguez showed up.
Give it up, guys. This, like JayPa's efforts to recruit skill position players, is getting pathetic.
Update 5/12: Linked to articles on TN OL Alex Bullard (downgrade to red), TN OL Alex Bullard (upgrade to yellow... woo conflicting info), MD RB Tavon Austin (second, downgrade to red), GA S Darren Myles (second), MI WR Dion Sims, FL RB Mike Gillislee, LA WR Willie Haulstead, PA DE Tyrone Ezell, header on MN WR Bryce McNeal, NC OL Xavier Nixon, OH S Isaiah Bell.
Roundup article from Kornblut has news on SC DE Chris Bonds, claim of offers for SC ATH David Sims and SC WR Alshon Jeffery. (Via Big House Blog.) Added Sims, Jeffery, FL WR Rantavious Wooten (video), MD DE Sean Stanley, OK CB David Gordon, GA LB DeDe Lattimore, MI QB Keith Nichol(?... I guess... more).
Removed FL WR Nu'Keese Richardson (very probably dropped us), MS S Rod Woodson (owie it's cold hold me). Bumped CA QB Jason Forcier to yellow.
Editorial Opinion: Full board is here.
I bet you thought we were done talking about quarterbacks until February. No, not so much, and it's not just one.
First: I've upgraded CA QB Jason Forcier from red to yellow after persistent efforts from Forcier to reassure everyone that Michigan is still under consideration. Also, a reader provides this tip:
My buddy who worked for the team last year has also been saying that there's still a pretty good chance we could land Forcier even with 2 in the fold. I kind of had the same reaction you did. This tidbit doesn't really mean much, but it adds a little bit more credence to what GBW is saying...
So... if the guy's got the confidence to come in and take a shot, hey, I'm all for that. We might have an ND-esque transfer party in two years, but at least the winner will be as awesome as Jimmy Clausen. Er. Scratch that.
Speaking of transfer parties, Oklahoma freshman Keith Nichol is fleeing from the presence of ninja freshman starter Sam Bradford. A top-100 sort last year, Nichol originally committed to Michigan State in the hopes of being the next Drew Stanton. When John L Smith slapped himself out of a job and Mark Dantonio brought his paleolithic offense to State, he decommitted for the greener pastures of Rhett Bomar-less Oklahoma.
Now he's on the open market again and likely to end up somewhere close to home, as transfers often do. Michigan suddenly has a crowded depth chart in '09 -- sophomores Steven Threet and Justin Feagin, freshmen-to-be Kevin Newsome and Shavodrick Beaver -- but none of those guys exactly projects to have a Bradford deathlock on the job. There is a consistent undercurrent of speculation, much of it based from Lowell -- where he went to HS -- locals scurrying to the internet to assure people Nichol will be at Michigan in the fall.
At first glance, it seems like an excellent fit. Nichol ran for over 1,000 yards in both his junior and senior years of high school; he also completed 63% of his passes. I mean... his senior stats are preposterous:
As a senior, Nichol, a three-year starter at quarterback, threw for 2,225 yards, 31 TDs and six INTs (118 for 185); and he rushed for 1,075 yards and 19 TDs on 121 carries. he was named to the Detroit News "Dream Team". Keith Nichol is one of the very best quarterback prospects in the Midwest. He threw for 2,200 yards and 28 touchdowns as a junior. Also rushed for 900 yards and 14 touchdowns as a sophomore. committed to Michigan State before his junior season.
In '09 Nichol would presumably have a leg up on any incoming freshman, with a year and a half years at Oklahoma (he enrolled early) and a year of getting Barwisized and learning the offense at Michigan, but it's risky: if he doesn't get the starting job he's either got to give up the dream of playing in college or head to a I-AA school.
A Free Press article makes it sound like Nichol is just looking for options at this point and will consider anyone who wants to offer him:
"People assume it's a Michigan State-Michigan deal," Nichol said, adding he's open to all options. "But they're the same as any other program in the country, just more attractive because they're closer to home."
The popular perception is that Michigan is QB depth chart heaven, but though State moved away from Nichol's preferred offense they graduate Brian Hoyer after this year and two low-rated redshirt freshmen are the only other quarterbacks on the roster. (State does have a commit from instater Andrew Maxwell.)
Would State have interest in a kid who stiffed them? Would Michigan take his transfer and risk spooking Newsome and/or Beaver? I dunno. A caller to the "Huge" show claimed that Nichol was a done deal to Michigan, FWIW. The same caller apparently predicted Nichol's transfer three months ago, but that bit of prognostication was obvious to anyone who picked up Oklahoma's depth chart and saw the "Fr" next to Bradford's name. There's also been considerable internet buzz to the same effect, but nothing from a reputable source.
Offensive linemen are starting to shake out. The best news from Michigan is what appears to be strong interest from NC OL Xavier Nixon:
Offensive tackle Xavier Nixon, an ESPN 150 Watch List talent, is holding about 40 scholarship offers, according to affiliate Web site GatorCountry.com. Despite the long list of suitors, Nixon already knows that he'd like to visit Notre Dame and Michigan. "Those are the only two that are set in stone, but I don't know beyond that."
Nixon also expressed what he's seeking in a school, "I'm looking at education, how comfortable I feel at a school - if it's a place that reminds me of home, if my playing style fit the program, if I can take what I've learned in high school and ap
ply it there instead of having to chance everything I've learned."
Nixon is one of those super-elite sorts (#27 overall to Rivals and the #1 OT, period, to Scout) who defies the conventional wisdom that offensive line rankings should be taken with a grain of salt; landing him would be a coup.
Michigan has an offer out to TN OL Alex Bullard, but he seems likely to stay in state. There is this hilariously biased article from "Vols Extra" to consider wherein he names a top three of ND, Tennessee, and Florida; more neutral is an Allen Wallace piece:
Although Bullard says he's still open, he admits he favors Tennessee slightly over Alabama, Notre Dame, Michigan, Florida and South Carolina. All of his favorites have offered.
"I like them all, but Tennessee is close and they are recruiting me the most right now," Bullard said. "Just the prestige and tradition there is amazing. That's a place I know a lot of people at and feel at home. I really like coach Phillip Fulmer. He's a very good man and very kind. He's easy to talk too."
Tentatively yellow but it's not looking good here.
The recent subject of a Scout-Rivals tiff, instate WR/TE Dion Sims plainly likes basketball more than football despite having a far higher ceiling as a 6'5", 230 pound wide receiver than a as tweener basketball wing. Scout analyst Dave Telep:
"I think he's a college hoops prospect on the mid-level. His body is a huge asset and his mid-range game is a help. So far this year in the limited times I have seen him, he's had moments where his shot has looked very good and he can pass the ball. I would think MAC programs would love to get their hands on him. To be higher, you would like to see him round out his game â€” maybe add a post-up element to take advantage of size mismatches."
Sims' father says Michigan State leads slightly:
"It is real close," Donald Sims said. "I wouldn't say one or the other, but if I had to really put down where I think his heart is at this point as far as in-state, I think Michigan State has a little bit of an advantage."
Hopefully that's because of the basketball programs' relative strength; if so that might change after a reassessment of which sport is the wiser one to pursue in college. One other note: Rodriguez is recruiting Sims as a tight end, not a wide receiver.
Some new names at defensive end: PA's Tyrone Ezell and MD's Sean Stanley. SC's Chris Bonds also has us in a leading group of about seven. Not much free on the new guys yet, but a few more names on the board is reassuring.
A couple of Nike Camps went down over the weekend. OH S Isaiah Bell was singled out for praise by ESPN:
Under Armour All-American safety Bell could have passed for a weakside linebacker and actually looked bigger than his listed measurables. When you look at his rangy, long-limbed frame, particularly the length of his arms, it's not out of the realm this kid has another inch or two of growth left. He looked far from frail though and was defined with good muscle tone and lean bulk. We joked with the recruited safety that linebacker could be in his future at Michigan, and he smiled like he had heard that comment before. It's hard not to see a potential 6-foot-3, 225-pound frame in two or three years, and he did look better at times playing the ball in front of him Friday as opposed to backpedalling.
Reports vary on how Bell did in drills but safeties always get the shaft at these things because they're essentially forced to play corner. Fitzgerald Toussaint did not show in Columbus because of an injury; in State College commit Will Campbell crushed all opponents and Teric Jones had an impressive day. Campbell still insists he's going to visit places like Miami, FWIW.
Update: ESPN's just posted their recap of the State College Nike camp. This is their opinion of Will Campbell:
Kevin Newsome got gently panned, though:
He showed some flashes of becoming a solid passer but has a lot of mechanical and technical glitches to work through. He is very inconsistent with his accuracy, but when he is fundamentally sound, he delivers the ball with nice zip and good power on the deep ball. With his frame and athleticism, he is definitely a candidate to be moved to tailback, safety, linebacker or wide receiver.
I'm about to take some recent anti-playoff arguments made by college football blogs and debunk them as best I can, but before we start: you can take it for granted that I agree with any arguments like "the commissioners would screw it up" and acknowledge that the MGoPlayoff is a fanciful dream. But I would like to argue that, conceptually, the right playoff is a net positive for college football in all ways. Arguments like "but it will soon be 16 teams" won't be addressed; I am advocating my system, not other, stupid systems for which anti-playoff arguments are totally valid.
Many arguments take the results of the recently-played season and say "but this wouldn't work," so we should establish the MGoPlayoff's output this year. Seedings are an off-the-cuff guess with a bias towards schedule strength based on pre-bowl results.
#1 LSU hosts lower seed remaining after first round
#2 Ohio State hosts higher seed after first round.
#3 Oklahoma hosts #5 Georgia
#4 Virginia Tech hosts #6 Missouri
Rose: Illinois-USC (uh... oops!)
Fiesta: Kansas-West Virginia
Sugar: Florida-Arizona State
Orange: Hawaii-Boston College
Missouri gets the last slot over Kansas (H2H win, better schedule) and USC (better schedule, though to be fair to USC they got hosed by unusually horrible Nebraska and Notre Dame teams). They get switched into the VT game to remove an intraconference first round matchup but keep their seeding.
Teams under consideration left out: Kansas, USC, West Virginia.
Anyway, arguments: regular-season games would be less meaningful. Garnet and Black Attack:
yes, Texas-Texas A&M would have meaning under a playoff system. But the bottom-line question -- whether a team that would probably have been a lower-seed contender gets into the playoffs or not -- is not nearly as weighty as the Big XII Championship Game between Missouri and Oklahoma, which decided whether the national front-runner (Missouri) had a rare chance to play for it all. There would be more games with some degree of meaning, but it's a lower degree of meaning than the important games we have now.
This argument is better phrased than most, and is impossible to deny. With a full-fledged eight team system some late season games lose much of their drama, especially if such a system comes with autobids for conference champions. West Virgina's loss to Pitt would have been entirely moot.
But doesn't national champion LSU feature two losses? Where was the all-or-nothing nature of the season then? I guess the argument is that if you lose you place your fate in the hands of the uneducated rabble that votes and may be unfairly and arbitrarily passed over for some other near-identical team, but... uh... that's not a positive for college football. There's a certain drama in the stupidity, I guess.
Anyway, in this system West Virginia and USC get the boot entirely; Missouri goes from anticipating a bye and a home game against one of two foes it had an eternity to scout to a roadie in Blacksburg. No game is irrelevant and losing late either boots you from the playoff entirely or -- if you're super lucky -- forces you to play a first-round game, likely on the road, and more than halves your chances at national title, and suddenly ten or more teams go into the late stages of the season feverishly looking and hoping and praying and viciously rooting against any team that looks remotely threatening.
I know this is a matter of personal opinion greatly influenced by your opinion of playoffs and not vice versa, but that sounds freakin' awesome.
Playoffs don't necessarily crown the best teams or include all deserving contenders. Around The Oval:
I don't think playoffs will solve all the problems with crowning a national champ. I mean, how often can you say you're sure the team that wins the NCAA tournament in men's basketball was the best in the country that year? If they get hot at the right time and catch a few lucky breaks, a pretty mediocre team can make a run through the playoffs and win it all, while a team that crushed the competition throughout the year can fall victim to a bad call and be out in the first round.
The perfect is the enemy of the good. Just because a playoff is not perfect is no reason to eschew it when our current system is vastly further from perfect. Some team with a claim to be the #6 seed will be omitted and there will be caterwauling. But Auburn fans are going to take 2004 to their grave. Same with Oregon fans and USC fans -- well, not USC fans since the BCS was screwed up so bad that year they left out the #1 team -- and so forth and so on forever and ever amen. Getting booted because your two-loss team was deemed not as good as some other two-loss team is orders of magnitude less offensive.
As far as a team getting "hot at the right time" and darting to a St. Louis Cardinals sort of championship, that's impossible in the system outlined here. Take the last team selected for the playoff, Missouri, and create the least impressive path they can take to the title: wins @ Virginia Tech and @ Ohio State followed by a neutral-field victory over a Georgia team that just beat Oklahoma and LSU. In that scenario, Missouri would have by far the most impressive resume of any team in the country and would be an obvious #1 even if the playoff was a meaningless exhibition and the national championship was decided by pollsters.
Let's take the year the BCS seemed perfect: 2005. Undefeated juggernaut USC met undefeated juggernaut Texas in the Rose Bowl. MGoPlayoff that year:
#1 USC hosts lower seed.
#2 Texas hosts higher seed.
#3 Penn State hosts #6 Georgia
#4 Oregon hosts #5 Ohio State
There are about a thousand possibilities for #6: Notre Dame, Auburn, LSU, Miami, Georgia, West Virginia, Virginia Tech. Georgia's victory in the SEC championship game gives them the edge, IMO.
Repeat the experiment: give Georgia wins @ Penn State and @ USC and a neutral-site victory against either undefeated Texas or one-loss Oregon or Ohio State and it would be extremely difficult to argue that they did not have the most impressive resume by the end of the year and would end up #1 on a hypothetical national-title-determining poll.
Compared to every other sport on the planet, college football hardly exists. The nearest equivalent, the NFL, has double the number of meaningful games if you consider everyone's 2-4 tomato can games against a I-AA team or a Sunbelt team or Notre Dame to be the exhibitions they are. This makes it the perfect environment for a playoff. By restricting teams severely and providing a considerably more difficult path to lower-seeded teams, we can make the playoff champion the opinion champion always. Two or three wins against elite competition will always catapult the winning team's resume to the top of the heap.
A playoff would diminish my college football fandom. This is always the argument that makes me think "WTF? Are you addicted to crack?" so it's appropriate that this one comes from Addicted to Quack:
I started having these thoughts early on last football season. I'm sitting there watching the Cal-Tennessee game in week one. And I started thinking to myself: why the hell am I watching Cal-Tennessee. If it's a basketball game, there is no way I'm watching Cal-Tennessee. Yet I watched every minute of that game. And I watched Oregon State-Cincinnati. And USC-Nebraska. Oh, and not just Pac-10 games. I watched West Virginia-Rutgers. And Oklahoma-Mis
souri. And basically football every minute of every Saturday all fall.
If the only reason you watch college football is because of the incredibly minute chance Oregon State-Cincinnati has any impact whatsoever on the national title race, I don't know what to tell you. I watch college football because in the stands 80 to 100 thousand people live and die on every play, because I hate Miami, Notre Dame, Ohio State, USC, and most of the SEC, because it is a brief three-month burst of bands and silly songs and real, honest-to-God traditions and stadiums named after states or dead men and punch-you-in-the-eye rivalries in a sea of sports chintz. You can add a playoff and Ohio State-Michigan happens once a year and so too Texas-Oklahoma and Oregon-Oregon State and Georgia-Florida and Army-Navy.
The reason so many of us watch so much college football is that, as mentioned, there is hardly any of it and it is all great. Adding a few games at the end of the season won't change that.
We should go back to the old days. ATO, again:
And who says crowning a national champion is something worth trying to do anyway? Can we really take one team from 119 and say, "Okay, we are absolutely certain this is the best team in the country"? It seems like an exercise in futility, designed to drive us all crazy. So why even try? Let's go back to the old system. Every year, the Big Ten champ plays the Pac-10 champ in the Rose Bowl, the 2nd place Big Ten team plays in the Citrus Bowl, and so on. It won't give us the best team in the country, but I have a sneaking suspicion that there's no way we can conclusively determine that. So instead, we get the tradition back, and a system that at least makes college football less of a blatant cash-grab.
I'm not going to argue with this. I agree: the old system and its entirely mythical national championships are better than the current bullcrap. I'd also be in favor of the Fake Plus One, which is basically the old system with a national title game tacked on, as long as the national title game was rotated around the country.
Rich Rodriguez has embarked on a nationwide goodwill campaign during this new spring dead period in recruiting, and several MGoBlog readers have attended the show in various locales. Several were kind enough to pass along impressions and information.
Also, one did this:
Anyway, on with the reports:
Went to go see coach Rodriguez in NY tonight. A few highlights:
Lamar Woodley made a cameo with his chick, and spoke for about 3 minutes about his workouts with Barwis. He made it pretty clear that this will not be the Michigan we're used to seeing.
Braylon Edwards dad was present, which further shows alumni support
for the new regime.
Coach said we will be starting 6-7 true freshman next year. He really
said this and said "true". Who are the most likely candidates?
An interjection: Aaron Rennie, the perpetrator of the above and host of CFB Weekly, taped the Rodriguez speech and reports that Rodriguez said M would "play" seven or eight true freshmen. I don't know Rodriguez means by "play". Does he mean "will see significant playing time on offense or defense" or "will blow a redshirt by running downfield and watching other people make special teams tackles"? If it's the latter, Rodriguez plans on reducing the number of true freshmen on the field -- last year only eight players redshirted, two of them OL and one a transfer who had to. If it's the former, there will be a significant uptick in contributions from freshmen. Given Rodriguez's apparent distaste for redshirting, I'm betting it's the latter.
As to who:
- Slot receivers Terrance Robinson and Martavious Odoms are holy locks to play early, especially if one wins a job returning punts or kicks.
- Darryl Stonum enrolled early and is the highest-rated WR recruit on campus at the moment; he'll play.
- CBs JT Floyd and Boubacar Cissoko will probably see the field as Michigan prepares to lose two of its top three corners after the season.
- At least two freshman linebackers will play, probably Marcus Witherspoon and JB Fitzgerald.
- Sam McGuffie(!) or Michael Shaw will also compete in the slot or function as a third down back.
Another possible true freshman to see the field: DT Mike Martin. Michigan goes four or five deep there, but it is a position that sees a lot of rotation and if any recruit if physically ready to play college football it's workout freak Martin, who isn't even scared of Mike Barwis. word.
Said defense was solid, QB is not yet settled, and "I didn't remember to bring my wizard hat with me tonight," which 50% of the audience thought was hilarious.
Alluded to Boren saying the media focuses on 1 or 2 guys who don't want to work hard 100% of the time, but never mentions to 99 players who do. ["A lot's been made about maybe one or two guys that did not buy in. Not a lot has been made about the 99 others that did," according to Mr. Rennie -ed] Says we will be the most intense, best conditioned team in the country. "Summer conditioning is voluntary, but so is playing time."
Said he was proud of Long, but it was no coincidence that Stephen Ross purchased the Dolphins. ([??? -ed])
They showed a video at the start of the speakers portion that was beyond intense. It had to have been a recruiting video because it made my scrawny, jewy ass want to strap on pads and sack Anthony Morelli. I can't even describe how amazing the video was.
Video comes in for further praise elsewhere:
Towards the end of the event, they played on the projection screens a video used during recruiting that was all Michigan Football. It was amazing! Everyone was so pumped up and going nuts it was really incredible. I had chills.
Then, Bill Martin spoke for a little and talked about the direction of the Athletic Dept. and how excited they were to have Rodriguez on board. Then LaMarr Woodley spoke for a little about training w/ Barwis during the offseason and his meetings w/ Rodriguez. He was very excited for the program and had a lot of good things to say. Then Rodriguez spoke for about 20 minutes or so and he was just awesome. He was talking about the transition and how excited he and the coaching staff are. Told a bunch of funny stories and just kept hyping everything up. He seems like a real down to earth guy, very southern, and incredibly personable.
I put two videos i took from the even up on youtube because they were just too big to send over to you. One of them is Coach in the middle of his speech talking about recruiting and mentioning that he forgot his wizard hat and the other is Rodriguez, Woodley, and the Alumni President leading the whole place in Hail to the Victors!
A couple additional choice quotes transcribed by Rennie:
"We do go (recruit) by the rules, by the way."
"We'll go out and meet some folks, especially my first year, and especially while I'm still undefeated. ... If we lose a few, you won't see my ass around here next year."
Your daily dose of "eeeee":
"Mike (Barwis) got enough education to get accepted to med school, but instead he became an ultimate fighter. So he's wired a little bit different, if you know what I mean."
And one final thing on some guy:
"If a guy starts to stray, you try to pick him back up. If he won't allow you to pick him back up, you gotta let him go."
Those were all attendees of the New York event. Another reader attended the Chicago edition and returned with some sad news on scheduling:
First, I was surprised to learn the extent to which the event is mostly a networking function for alums and boosters. I guess I expected more football and more presentation. I made some nice business contacts, as did my girlfriend. That aside, I spent some time speaking with Bill Martin. I wrote you last summer about an e-mail exchange he and I had about the Big 10 Network (he vowed that Comcast and Time Warner would pick it up by the beginning of football season; he was decidedly incorrect). I reintroduced myself and talked with him for awhile about the exciting world of commercial real estate, of which I am a sleepwalking member.
I moved on to football-related matters, asking him whether there are plans to upgrade Michigan's nonconference schedule. Much hemming and hawing ensued, followed by these key words: "Probably not." He explained how big the Notre Dame series is to the TV people. I patiently and in a roundabout way explained that, while nobody has a problem with the Notre Dame series, many are hoping the fourth nonconference game will be reserved for a home-and-home with a competent SEC/Big 12-type team. Again: "Probably not." So that's that. More chump/chump/chump/ND slates for the foreseeable future.
So then we move into the formal part of the evening. Alumni Association guy introduces Bill Martin. Martin introduces Rodriguez. Rodriguez moved into a speech you've read elsewhere. It was funny, charming and encouraging; I knew
most of it from the report of the speeches he's given in the last week or two. I was left feeling that Michigan football is in good, competent hands. After his 20 or 30 minutes at the podium I introduced myself to Rodriguez and gave him my welcome to the program. He smiled, asked me a bit about myself, etc. There was a mob behind me so I elected to get out of the way ... but not before a football question.
I asked him what the strongest position group on the team is so far; I was hoping he'd reply "defensive line" or "tailback" because that'd at least confirm my hope that U-M will be kickass at something this year. He leaned back and scratched his chin and told me he'd not thought about it like that, but he'd have to say: linebackers. I was a little surprised. My girlfriend told him that I'd been expecting he'd say "defensive line." He said, "Yeah, but your boyfriend's not thinking about some of those freshmen we have coming in." How to take that? I don't know. Either the whole team blows worse than I'd feared or he's extremely impressed with that handful of four-stars he and Lloyd scored.
All in all, it was fun and left me confident that Michigan will win many games over the next several years.
The Dearborn event had a significant portion taped the masses:
It's like you're there!
Oi. Michigan's weird association with rugby continues, as Dhani Jones is spending a good chunk of his offseason learning how to play the game in England. A video feature on Blackheath's new pennyflankenshire or whatever (warning: the announcer seems constitutionally incapable of pronouncing the letter H):
My favorite shot: embittered-looking old Brits looking on dourly with half-full pints. England: feel the excitement! Mostly it rains, but other times you can look upon something with grim determination! With beer!
Actually, take away the beer and that sounds like Michigan football.
#1. Major alarm spread through all parts of the Michigan internet yesterday when Braylon Edwards dropped this bombshell in an ESPN chat:
I am already mad that Rich Rod because he gave the No.1 jersey to someone other than a WR, which is breaking tradition. But I think he is a great coach and will lead Michigan to a turnaround.
He further expounded on his displeasure on the radio:
"I'm glad you gave me a 'Go Blue' question, because Rich Rod gave the No. 1 jersey to an incoming freshman DB," Edwards said, sounding somewhat annoyed. "The No. 1 jersey has never been worn by anybody outside of a wide receiver -- it dates back to Anthony Carter, so I'm going to have a talk with (Rodriguez) about that next time I see him. But outside of that, he's been doing a great job."
(The defensive back in question is apparently JT Floyd, who wore it in high school.) Panic ensued! Okay... maybe not panic. Sample emails:
I think I share the feelings of many alumni when I say that while I am a strong supporter of moving
's offence [Canadian emailer? Maybe. -ed] and S&C into the new era, I have real issues with assigning the #1 jersey to a non receiver who has never earned it. Michigan
I'm all for giving Rodriguez the benefit of the doubt, but it's fairly bad form to gut a fairly big tradition at Michigan by giving the number to a freshman defensive back. Maybe he didn't know about #1, but I find that fairly hard to believe. What's next, no banner when they run out of the tunnel on Saturdays?
One clarification: before Edwards was forced to earn the #1, Michigan just gave it to kids as a recruiting inducement. However, as soon as Braylon got his NFL dolla bills (y'all), he gave Michigan the largest endowment a former athlete had ever provided. The intent was to enshrine Edwards' path:
"No freshman will be allowed to wear the No. 1," Edwards said. "The number holds too much significance and too much value. There are three criteria to receive it: first, no freshmen; second, the GPA (grade-point average); third, off-the-field conduct."
I don't know how closely the Carr staff was hewing to the specifications laid out by Braylon when he endowed a scholarship for the jersey, since Darryl Stonum had been promised the #1 as an incoming freshman, but at least Stonum was a superstar recruit and when he hit the field in spring he was sporting 22. Maybe Michigan promised him the jersey as a sophomore? Now it all goes wonky.
Though Rodriguez has made a heroic effort to learn and integrate himself into the Michigan tradition -- inviting program alumni back for meet-and-greets, visiting any M Club that will have him, and generally talking up Michigan history whenever prompted to -- this is a misstep. Edwards, poised to be one of the dominant NFL receivers of the next ten years, is going to be a resource both financial and otherwise no matter what happens here. But there's no reason to annoy him, or annoy fans who like a tradition that dates back 30 years (Tyrone Butterfield excepted), or remove whatever small recruiting juju exists when you dangle the 1 in front of a kid who knows what it means.
It's just going to look wrong for the #1 to be on defense. I'm already freaked out that Charles Woodson is going to be a white tailback for the next four years. This is too much. I might die. [probably not, though -ed] Hell, I'm all for more number specialization: tiny waterbug receivers get Desmond Howard's #21. Dann O'Neill gets Jake Long's 77. Whoever's small and slow and inexplicably awesome gets #20.
Is this a huge, huge deal? No, but it's directly opposed to both Rodriguez's fan- and media-friendly style and his love of weird little traditions. Number assignments aren't final yet and there's been a shocking amount of uproar about this -- Michigan message boards were unreadable for a period of several hours yesterday -- so I think there's a good chance Floyd has a sit-down with Braylon and ends up wearing something else.
Why would you ever leave? Not to be too unkind to a state that produced our current head football coach, but good God...
Seriously, a 26 win season with John Beilein's players, the best recruiting class in recent memory, a man dedicated to the state and University, why not give him a 10-year deal?
John Beilein's players won 27 games the year before he left, and if that doesn't impress because of a weak schedule and NIT help, well, before that Beilein's players had back-to-back Sweet 16 appearances.
Condolences to Bryan Wright. The sophomore kicker's father passed away recently. Michigan did what little they could:
. Upon learning of the death, the Michigan coaching staff contacted the family and a number of team members including players and ex-coach Lloyd Carr traveled to Salem to pay their respects.
Goddammit, stickam spammer, I am not still down to hook up, especially when you send me messages from "Robert Gleason."
The Wit and Wisdom of Weis returns. Head to 50 seconds in this video:
A transcript, since it's a little hard to make out: "I think the first opportunity they're going to have to really make a statement is that day [Sept. 6 against SDSU], and then we'll listen to Michigan have all their excuses as they come runnin' in and sayin' how they have a new coaching staff and there's changes. To hell with Michigan." Then someone's cellphone rings and Weis makes some goober remark about using all the minutes and just looks so incredibly pleased with himself and if there was a just and loving God at that moment a mountain goat would come bounding into the frame and headbutt him to the ground, whereupon he would flail his legs like an upturned beetle and emit a horrifying bovine howl.*
Weis has issued a fatwa against excuses. Check this Dan Wetzel piece:
"But I'm not an excuse guy."
But wait! There's more!
"What I never want to do is make an excuse for how things go," he said.
After the first Michigan beatdown:
I'm reluctant to even say this because it almost sounds like making excuses for the first game.
The title of Weis' book? "No Excuses."
It's almost as if he thinks he can't be blamed for being the Worst Coach in the Universe as long as he doesn't have an excuse (read: "reason") for his performance. Imagine if Jeffery Dahmer had taken this tack: "look, I know the easiest thing to do is assume I'm crazy since I do crazy things like chop people up and put them in my freezer and then, like, pan-fry them with a nice roasted garlic butter. But I'm not an excuse guy. My performance as a human being has been unacceptable, and I'm not going to say it's because my parents abused me when I was a child, because that sounds like excuse making. As mentioned, I have no excuses, so you should totally let me go."
But, yeah, he totally could have turned Notre Dame around by now if he was allowed to recruit the same thugs Navy and Air Force do.