"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
I was back visiting Michigan last weekend, and I was able to catch the hockey game on Saturday against Miami (of Ohio). I haven't seen any hockey games this season since I'm at a grad school where hockey doesn't exist. I was wondering about the addition of a second referee on the ice. My friend pointed that out to me at the beginning of the game, and I asked him if he felt more calls were made this season since there is another pair or eyes on the ice. He said that it didn't seem so, and someone around me said that it may actually make the game flow better(!?). Well, that didn't seem to happen as Michigan ended up with like 11 penalties.
So I was wondering if you could drag up the penalty minutes from the last couple of seasons and compare them to this season so far, and see if the extra ref has significantly impacted the number of calls or has changed the game somehow.
Via collegehockeystats.net, per-team penalty minutes per game the last three years:
|Year Before That||19.01|
Survey says… eh, not so much. While teams are taking most of an extra penalty a game this year the numbers are actually down from the two years previous. Of course, the NCAA's overreaction to the Robbie Bina hit, which led to virtually any hit along the boards being an automatic major for a year, and their intermittent obstruction crackdowns play a role in the numbers. The moral of the story appears to be "do not expect remotely consistent enforcement," which isn't surprising to anyone familiar with the travails of college hockey refereeing.
Recently, Sports Illustrated had a series of articles on recruiting and how Florida is a gold mine for D1 recruits. In one of those articles, Jimbo Fisher had this to say about recruiting:
Florida State's Fisher doesn't deny that he offers a chilly warning to southern skill-position players thinking of crossing the Mason-Dixon line. "I don't know if we ever said, 'You'll freeze.' But the landscape of playing, especially if you're a skill guy, is not as conducive as it is in The South," Fisher said. "The weather can prohibit you from using all your skills at times and prevent you from getting the numbers and recognition and things you want. I think it is a significant difference."
I have been a big fan of Rich Rod since the Clemson days and thought he was a top 5 coach in the country at WV. I even picked them to win the National Championship in 2007. Good ole' Wannstache…
During Rich Rod's top years at WV (05-07), I remember a few late season games where the Mountaineers couldn't hold on to the football and it cost them. I had a feeling that this was attributed to his recruits being from the Deep South and not being accustomed to playing in cold weather conditions. And then this year Odoms couldn't hold on to the ball for his life during that nasty NW game. So after Jimbo's quote, I thought that there may be some serious truth to this argument.
So I went back and looked at the stats from WV's 2007 November games (I didn't look up game time temperature but they were all November games in cold weather locations including three night games) and found that WV had put the ball on the ground 13 times in those four games while losing 8. Twice (including the infamous Pitt game that most likely led to our hire of Rich Rod instead of Les Miles) they had 5 fumbles, losing 3.
Would you review the games from 2005-2007 and see if there is any correlation between the late season colder temperatures and putting the ball on the ground. With RR ravaging Florida for recruits and Michigan being a colder place than WV, I am worried that this could be an issue for us in late season games.
First: the Jimbo Fisher stuff is just talk. If you can play, you can play. Even if it's cold. The parade of Michigan receivers in the pros (Toomer, Alexander, Edwards, Avant, Breaston, Streets, uh… Terrell nevermind) in recent years suggests that Fisher's statement is more snake oil than anything. The NFL will find your ass if you can play football.
As far as the fumble theory, it's going to be extremely tough to prove either way. We don't know how cold was for all these games. We're looking at extremely random events in just a few games. Statistical significance laughs at us from afar. But here you go:
No, wait, sorry. I tried, but the NCAA doesn't have the relevant 2005 games' boxscores up. Sorry. I did find that in 2006 WVU had 8 fumbles in 4 (possibly) cold weather games, but four of those game in a game against Cincinnati during which the Bearcats also fumbled four times so I dunno, maybe they didn't kill the ball properly and it was running around squealing all night or something.
Does this help your troubled heart any?
That's West Virginia's turnover margin in the last three years of the Rodriguez era, when Pat White was the quarterback and WVU was goooooood. Even when WVU coughed up the ball 15 times in 2007 they were still top-10 in TO margin because they ran so much and had so few interceptions.
I think people are attempting to come up for an explanation for last year's epic, defiant-Pharaoh-style plague of fumbles when the most likely explanation is that there just isn't one. It was mostly randomness combined with youth and poor talent level at certain positions like tackle and quarterback. There is no grand pattern of Rodriguez teams coughing up the ball a ton. In fact, the numbers above suggest the opposite*.
*(Although, again, TOs are rare and even the seemingly wow numbers above are by no means definitive.)
Tropp and Conboy are gone, at least for now:
EAST LANSING -- Michigan State hockey players Andrew Conboy and Corey Tropp are no longer on the team after their violent actions in Saturday's game at Michigan, MSU coach Rick Comley said Tuesday.
"It was a tough decision, but the right decision," Comley said. "I don't think the kids are bad kids. I don't think (their actions) were premeditated."
It sounds like Comley booted them for the year but left the door open to a return; the article says Conboy "had the option to stay in school and talk about Comley about a potential return to the team." Tropp "might be allowed to return" if he stays in school. Conboy's decided to go according to the article, and his facebook now shows his school as Illinois-Chicago. Tropp's status is still undetermined.
This is the right move, and now that it's been made I hope everyone involved can move on. I'm sure both players are remorseful and will, like Todd Bertuzzi, bear a mark for the rest of their careers. That and never seeing them play Michigan again are enough for me. Comley and the State program handled it the right way, and hopefully the rivalry can settle back down to an acceptably intense level.
One more time to the well. This Kampfer thing appears to be over, and I'm still pissed and you should be too. In all likelihood, Steve Kampfer is going to have to skate against the two guys who did this to him next year. Those games are going to be kegs of gunpowder, and Kampfer is going to cringe any time he turns his back. Michigan-Michigan State games for the foreseeable future are going to be reffed into oblivion and still be ugly hack-fests.
Allowing those two to return significantly increases the chances of a second ugly incident in the future. The CCHA failed to meet the bare minimum level of acceptability: lifetime bans against Michigan for both players. The punishment doesn't impact the program or the player in any significant way. We'll all get to see the reward next year. As simply as possible: an incident like this should have repercussions that last longer than the last third of an already-lost season.
As for the two main "blame Michigan!" memes floating out there:
- There's a reason swearing exists, and it's for moments like Saturday. Look: I don't do the penalty box cheer because Red asked everyone not to, and whenever a "F ND" or "F the Buckeyes" chant gets started at any Michigan sporting event I want to find the gel-haired New Jersey frat boys responsible for that travesty and put them back on the boat to Guidoville. Swearing like that is a substitute for being clever, and I hate it.
But the FYS cheer on Saturday was the right emotion at the right time, A ringing loud expression of contempt and disgust was the appropriate reaction. Sometimes "fuck you" is the only appropriate sentiment.
- No, Steve Kampfer's dad shouldn't have "handled it better" or whatever. If you think this, you are probably a robot. Check for a dipstick in your back.
Mendacious, brah. Coming in a distant second to the actions on the ice in repulsiveness has been the reaction of Michigan State's various media organs.
- The official site's mendacious game recap mentions the assault as something spurred by Chris Summers' goal.
- Some necklace-wearing, short-bus-riding, thin-letter-receiving State News knob says "everyone's to blame," which instead of linking to I'll just point at the one two three Michigan blogs that have already taken him apart.
- Even the State News' editorial on the situation, which comes down pretty hard, attempts to paint Kampfer's clean open-ice check as "charging," which like it wasn't. (It also says "U-M hockey fans are known for scripting some of the most brutal and pointed chants in college sports"—which, like, is that a compliment?)
- And multiple people have reported in that some guy on Lansing radio kept focusing on that bad word from above, calling for continuous bench minors to be called on Michigan until it stops.
All of this is "yes… but" stuff. There is no "but" here.
And… okay. With that, I'm done until there's more news to talk about. I've said my bit three or four times now. Yost Built has an extensive recap of everything if you missed anything; the Daily has some more quotes from Kampfer himself.
Something about hockey but not that. The NHL has provided an $8.5 million developmental grant to USA hockey for the first time, which USA hockey will use to beef up the USHL and the NTDP, train referees (free bananas!), and implement some sort of hyper-elite AAA program. WCH has the details. I'm most interested in getting the USHL up to par with the CHL—and by PPG conversion measures the USHL either isn't far off or is right there—so that potential college hockey players aren't tempted to defect for developmental reasons.
Martavious! An article on Florida recruit Nu'keese Richardson takes a Michigan-relevant diversion:
The Blue Devils decided Richardson was a better fit for receiver. Richardson disagreed. He thought about quitting. Then Martavious Odoms stepped in. Odoms, then a junior and now a Michigan Wolverine, spent the summer before the season working with Richardson, teaching him the position.
“Martavious can adjust to a football in the air better than anyone I have ever seen. Nu’Keese has adapted to that as well,” coach Thompson said. “It’s just amazing. You see the ball in the air and you think, ‘You know, how is he going to contort his body? How’s he going to adjust to the ball?’ And somehow, some way, he gets it.”
Odoms also introduced Richardson to the art of the “crack-back.” A crack-back occurs when a receiver charges toward the middle of the field and removes an unsuspecting linebacker from his cleats.
We saw hints of that this year on those wheel routes; I think once Odoms gets used to playing when his leetle body is cold we're going to see him perform very well. A lot of people are touting Gallon or Robinson in the slot, but Odoms is going to prove hard to displace.
GERG! MGoBlue quotes from new DC Greg Robinson's first press conference have been repackaged and placed into newspaper stories already, but whateva I do what I want. Items of note:
- Scheme agnosticism. "There will be times that we will use that style where we can kick down and use a four-man front and there will be times where we are going to look like a three-man front. It's really the utilization of people and trying to take advantage of their strengths."
- Gregism #1? Robinson was asked what his top priority was, given a laundry list of options, and responded: "I think it's all of those things." Greg Robinson's TOP PRIORITY: all things. Things that are not Greg Robinson's TOP PRIORITY: no things.
- I don't even know what this means. "I will be coaching players, and I don't plan to be walking around. I've done a little of that and I didn't like it. And I won't be walking. I will be running."
- Field or booth? "I will be on the field."
Robinson plans on coaching a position, BTW, but doesn't know which one.
Etc.: A bunch of aerial photos of the stadium construction.
"We feel that the measures taken by Michigan State are appropriate and consistent with the parameters of the sanctions that were being contemplated by the league," league commissioner Tom Anastos said in a news release.
It certainly sounds like the league is not inclined to levy any further punishment and next year Steve Kampfer is going to have to skate against the goons who knocked him unconscious and slashed him in the head. This is not a penalty. State's season is over. It was over the moment this assault occurred, guaranteeing a season sweep at the hands of Michigan and resigning State to last place in the CCHA. If this penalty is the only one levied, there will be no lasting impact to either the Michigan State program or the careers of Conboy and Tropp. The net penalty to the program and the players: NOTHING. Zero. This is cosmetic. It is not enough. It is not 10% of enough.
As a reminder:
At an absolute bare minimum of acceptability neither of these players can ever be suffered to play Michigan and Steve Kampfer again. If this is the only penalty levied the CCHA has basically abstained on serious repercussions.
Back on the Kampfer thing: we should set an expectation for punishments. I've obsessively read every comment on every message board and every article on the incident and it appears the general consensus is that both players should come in for heavy discipline but probably won't. Certainly Comley's immediate reaction in the aftermath is a step in that direction.
That's not acceptable. Any suspension that only covers games in the rest of Michigan State's lost season is a joke. State is 7-15-3 and in last place in the league. Their season is already over. Skipping a series of beatings from Alaska and Bowling Green and UNO is hardly punishment. On Sunday I said that both should be gone from the CCHA forever, and I still think that. Corey Tropp's lack of a past history means nothing when we're dealing with an incident of this severity. If he wants to play hockey he can try to find some other program willing to ice him or he can play in juniors somewhere. If he wants to stay at Michigan State he can do that. He can't do both. He's forfeited the privilege of playing in the CCHA; if he wants a second chance he's welcome to it somewhere else. Andrew Conboy's actions, while not quite as mortifying, are part of a pattern of misbehavior. He should also be gone.
This goes double because the NCAA has a ban on fighting. If you're going to maintain a ban on fighting you have to come down even harder on these incidents because players have a more limited ability to self-police. If college hockey is serious about protecting its players it must take action.
The CCHA has a choice here: either state unequivocally that these actions are totally unacceptable, or set the stage for an all-out brawl between Michigan and Michigan State next year. At the very least neither player should ever set foot on the ice against Michigan again, and I'll be dissatisfied with anything other than outright dismissal.
We should know the league's decision by Friday.
On the postgame incident. The Daily all but confirms the widespread internet rumor about the identity of the Michigan fan in the locker room:
The player ejected from yesterday's game — which, according to the box score, was Spartan forward Corey Tropp — was in the visitor's locker room and a 48-year-old man from Jackson, Mich. went in and confronted him.
"We had a parent come crashing into the locker room and fight my player," Michigan State coach Rick Comley told the State News.
Parent + Jackson, Michigan = Kampfer. As for the severity, let's just say it didn't warrant a trip to the hospital:
“I heard him tell the officer that he did grab Tropp by the jersey, and they were also holding each other and yelling at each other,” a person in the room during the questioning, who asked to remain anonymous because he was not authorized to speak to the press on the matter, said.
A Yost Built commenter says "I heard from a prominent michigan media member Saturday night, that Tropp will not press charges. If the DA is going to press charges then it is just serves to bring attention to the university." Take it FWIW, obviously.
He advised that Mark Mitera is doing very well and skating. Pearson offered this info up unsolicited, and said Mitera is “coming along very nicely. He looks great, he looks great. He’s probably a couple weeks away still..” Pearson added his return is a “real possibility”.
A couple weeks would put him on the ice for UNO series and give him nearly a full month on the ice before the playoffs roll around. Even if that projection is optimistic by two weeks, Mitera would still get a tuneup weekend against Ferris State before the CCHA playoffs… and he'd skate on senior night. He would, in all likelihood, be full-bore for the NCAA tourney.
Added FL QB Austin Dantin, HI OL Stan Hasiak.
Removed TX CB Demontre Hurst(Okie State), FL WR Willie Haulstead(FSU), OH OL Henry Conway(MSU), OH OL Chris Freeman(mutual parting), PA LB Dan Mason (Pitt), NC S Josh Hunter (UNC), OH OL Marcus Hall.
Speculation on PA WR Je'Ron Stokes.
As always, some links via Varsity Blue.
Editorial Opinion: Recruiting board lives here.
With signing day rapidly approaching and Michigan targets dwindling, a format change: we'll run down each potential addition to the class in a systematic fashion. Both wobbly defensive tackle recruits are, for the purposes of this post, considered uncommitted.
Michigan was interested in these guys at some point but it's now clear that Michigan is no longer involved with them and they go without mention below: OH OL Chris Freeman, OH OL Henry Conway, PA LB Dan Mason, OH CB Mike Williams, FL LB Mike Marry, and NC S Josh Hunter.
How many to give? The recruiting board currently shows 26 open spots with a possibility of going to 28 if a couple little-used seniors aren't extended a fifth year. However, by this point Mark Moundros is an unaccounted-for scholarship player and two others—QB Nick Sheridan and LS George Morales—may be as well. I think 25 is the most likely number. If they get real lucky they can push that out one or two, but that is not likely to become necessary.
Not counting the two wobbly DTs, Michigan has eighteen commitments. Seven slots remain.
What are the remaining needs? In approximate order of importance:
- A second DT
- A second QB
- A second cornerback
- A second outside WR
- A third OL
- A third DE
- Whateva, I do what I want!
PA WR Je'Ron Stokes. This comes from a newspaper—newspapers are pretty sketchy on the details when it comes to recruiting—but it agrees with the general tenor of what I've been reading:
- Syracuse tried to get involved with wide receiver Je'Ron Stokes of Philadelphia, but he's apparently headed to Michigan.
Hopefully that's got some veracity behind it; Penn State is filling up and just picked up a commit from NJ WR Shawney Kersey, so the threat they pose seems considerably more limited. Illinois and Tennessee are the other main contenders. This article on Stokes from a UT perspective isn't particularly illuminating, just the usual about Stokes meeting this coach and so forth and so on. This, however, sounds bad for the Volunteers:
“I would really like to do that,” Stokes said. “I think they (the NCAA) should (allow that) because of situations like this. I’m going on prior knowledge.
“It is what it is.”
Stokes said he picked UT because of the people he met in Knoxville, namely former coach Phillip Fulmer.
“When Fulmer was there, the atmosphere felt right because I was around people I felt comfortable with and I knew Tennessee was an established program at the time,” Stokes said. “It’s all about people."
Stokes would be a big pickup, one that would just about replace the loss Michigan suffered when MN WR Bryce McNeal decommitted. Stokes played in the Army game, is a four-star to both Scout and Rivals, and is the #68 player overall to ESPN.
FL QB Denard Robinson and FL CB Adrian Witty. This package deal thing is apparently coming off, and Michigan is one of two schools to offer both. Kansas State, the other, is not a threat. GBW has an article titled "Deerfield Coach optimistic on Robinson, Witty"($) and the local paper is all :
Deerfield Beach quarterback Denard Robinson, ranked fourth in the Broward County Top 25, is the top uncommitted prospect in the county. Robinson has held an offer to Florida for quite some time. While the Florida faithful remain positive Robinson will be a Gator, it appears more and more likely that Robinson will choose Michigan. …
Also in play for Michigan is Robinson's teammate, defensive back Adrian Witty, ranked 25th in the Broward Top 25. Witty rebounded from a torn ACL in 2007 to finish with 50 tackles and an interception during his senior campaign. The two likely will head to the same school.
Robinson will be given a shot to play QB, and Michigan will need him to stay there for at least a year or two even if he doesn't win the job. However, if he doesn't win it Robinson is also a Florida-level corner prospect who figures to find his way on the field somewhere. He's sort of like two recruits in one.
Witty, well… he's a flier and he'd be defying the odds to contribute. This happens regularly, but it would be a longshot.
DT DeQuinta Jones. Jones took his Michigan official last weekend and there's an encouraging article header at GBW: "Michigan Tightens Its Grip on Jones". If he doesn't take a visit this weekend to Tennessee there's not much to worry about—canceled trips in the aftermath of an official are always good for the most recent visitee. If he goes, there's some concern. A quote from Sam Webb's latest podcast:
Sounded like Michgian went a long way towards firming up his commitment. He said he thinks he'll be back at Michigan at june … but he said "I think" so there's some window for other schools.
Will be one to watch on signing day still, but sounds good.
LA WR Travante Stallworth. Stallworth went to Auburn for his third and final official visit this weekend. A pre-visit article contains this murky quote:
“I’m solid to Auburn in some ways, but I’m still looking,” Stallworth said. “I want to be absolutely sure of my choice, because I’ll be there for the next four years.”
Parse that if you can. There is as of yet no reaction from the trip. So… yeah. Nobody knows on this one, other than it's likely to be M or Auburn.
SC OL Quinton Washington. Washington's given no indication as to where he's leaning of late. Rodriguez just made his in-home:
According to Timberland coach Art Craig, Kiffin met with Washington's parents and then saw the player at school. Rodriguez came in around 7:00 PM Thursday night and met with the family at the home and left around 11:00 PM. "He answered a lot of questions that his mom had about distance," Craig said.
Visits to Tennessee and Miami are on tap with Michigan and the two in-state schools in the rear view mirror. Anything I could say about his decision would be speculation.
Update on Washington's UT trip:
He said the trip was nice," Timberland coach Art Craig said. "He said everyone was nice. He said the coaches were excited about their team."
That sounds pretty lukewarm.
SC DE Sam Montgomery. Montgomery said Michigan was "two steps ahead" of everyone else after his official but has returned to a neutral, everyone's-equal stance as the immediate impact of the visit wears off. He's going on a whirlwind tour over the next week and a half:
Montgomery was visited this week by assistants from Clemson and LSU and Oregon head coach Mike Bellotti. Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez will be in on Thursday. This weekend Montgomery will take an official visit to LSU. Next week he will take a mid week visit to Oregon and a weekend visit to Tennessee.
Montgomery took a visit to UNC after his Michigan one. Unofficials to the in-state schools were considered but ultimately decided against; they appear to be on the outside looking in. LSU was the favorite until they disposed of DL coach Earl Lane… no one really knows where he's leaning now.
Probably Not, But Some Vague Shot
OK DT Pearlie Graves. Graves, like Jones, has been wavering and visited a few different schools recently. Unlike Graves, Jones took his Michigan official in the fall and opportunities to resolidify his recruitment are restricted to Michigan's allotted in-home visits. Persistent rumors about Oklahoma are worrying, and at this point I think Michigan is worse than 50-50 to keep him.
HI OL Stan Hasiak. Hasiak was just added to the board on the strength of his mug on Scout's front page and an accompanying mod-generated board thread. Internet sleuthing turns up a Michigan offer as early as may, a UCLA commitment that was rescinded and quickly followed by a Cal commitment, and a weekend visit to Washington. Hasiak actually visited in January without any of the premium sites picking up on it. Can they actually pull a kid from Hawaii who's committed to two different West Coast schools? That seems as doubtful as some random Florida OL commit saying seeya to Urban Meyer and coming north.
LA DE Bennie Logan. Logan's an interesting guy, a late-bloomer in Louisiana who LSU is on the verge of pissing off. They've got a grayshirt offer out to him, which Logan didn't seem pleased by. Logan supposedly just got an LSU offer, which if true 1) means they're basically conceding on Montgomery and 2) would probably result in a quick LSU commit. The latter was said to be a high probability by Webb.
Very Probably Not
OH OL Marcus Hall. Hall's Michigan lead was ephemeral and likely just done to screw around with people. Miami now "leads"($), but everyone expects it to be Ohio State.
LA LB Barkevious Mingo. He visited a couple weeks ago but all indications are that LSU is the pick. Sadly, the Mingo will not eat Ohio State babies.
FL WR Willie Haulstead made a "final decision" after returning from his Florida State trip; heuristics and all that: ain't in our favor. Webb also discussed it, relaying that decision but leaving the door open. I've got some inside info from the Florida State side of things; I think Haulstead's done and was never that close to a Michigan commitment.
Michigan brought in FL QB Austin Dantin for a visit this weekend. His other schools are of the MAC variety and so is his rating; it looks like he's an emergency alternative in case Robinson does not work out.
Also visiting was GA WR/TE Terrell Mitchell, a three-star type who seemed destined for Kentucky until Michigan jumped back in. He's huge (6'6" 220) for a wideout, but there are rumored grade issues.
FL LB Willie Ferrell. Ferrell decommitted from LSU and is now considering a couple of lower-level SEC schools and… FAMU? I don't think Michigan has or will offer.
OH WR Terrence Davis. Davis was once a four-star but a paucity of recruiting attention—again related to grades—has seen him slip. There were vague rumors he might be a Michigan recruit recently; he could get a last-second offer if they've got an open spot left.
MI DE Dylan Farrington. Farrington just committed to Bowling Green but, like Davis, he's a guy with grade issues who might get a late offer.
One Man's Semi-Informed Guess As To What Will Happen
Michigan picks up Stokes, Robinson, and Witty. They keep Jones but lose Pearlie Graves. They pick up two from the group of Montgomery, Mitchell, Washington, Graves, Hasiak, and Stallworth, and take a flier on someone from the "backup plans" list or some guy no one's heard of. That's 25.
How'd We Do If This Was The Future And Lo It Came To Pass?
Pretty freakin' good considering everything (3-9, media storm accompanying, negative recruiting, decommit parade). If the predictions above come to fruition Michigan would have replaced every decommit except Graves with a basically equivalent prospect and racked up between 15 and 17 four star or better recruits on Rivals. (Scout's a bit more down on the class; I don't think I take ESPN seriously enough to care what they think about whole classes.) After everything there'd be two quality QB recruits, a quality outside receiver, and a lot of talent elsewhere.
In this scenario Michigan would have met needs 1, 2, and 4 with outstanding prospects and probably done the same with either or both of 5 and 6. Only the second corner spot would be iffy.
There are some hypothetical downers, mostly the random guy at the end of the class, the marginal recruit as the second corner, and the relative paucity of top-100 guys (only two or three, most likely). Ballpark overall grade: B+ on a strict grading scale.