I might be excommunicated from the church of college football for this startling revelation, but I am sick and tired of EA's NCAA football franchise. Every year they add inane or useless features aimed at 14 year olds: ridiculous suspensions in franchise mode, impact players, momentum and their career mode. Each of these "features" save the inane but thankfully irrelevant career/Heisman/whatever mode acts as an active detriment to the game's realism. This would be irritating but acceptable if EA had given you the option of turning off the feature that turns any trip to Iowa a 60-7 loss (don't ask... the horror... the horror), but they don't even do this. While they're busy inserting these inane features into the game they release games in which receivers drop 20% of the balls that hit themselves in the hands, the inside running game is useless, or the passing game is completely broken.
This year is no different. The features they're pitching only promise to heighten the silliness:
Impact players, aka ballers with high ratings, will be able to trigger "lead by example" events that impact each player's morale. Score a touchdown with an impact player, a chain-reaction of good feelings spread to the rest of the team, which in turn, boosts each player's performance.
Awesome! Now the randomly selected impact players and the totally unrealistic momentum system are one and the same!
EA is now a company run by its marketing arm. No longer actually concerned with making quality games as long as they know that their franchises will sell, they go years without implementing even the simplest features.
Even so, I might get it. I hate myself. But one of those simple features I've been waiting on for years has been implemented:
Campus Legend makes great use of the new Super Sim feature that allows you to skip single plays or to the next change of possession. You can still watch every play from the sideline through the eyes of your legend, but you can also skip ahead to the next time he takes the field. Super Sim is available in every game, which will come in handy during Dynasty mode when you want to get your second stringers on the field to mop up.
Thank God. And how long did that take? Like... ten minutes? No longer will I score 77 on Northwestern in a perpetual state of glassy-eyed boredom. I will score 42, sim the rest of the game, and bump the difficulty to Heisman just in time for a disastrous trip to Kinnick.
(Initial link via EDSBS.)
Shocking revelations about our head coach's past! It would all be so very Arkansas if it wasn't so very Lloyd:
"Lloyd went from West Virginia to Michigan," the retired Nehlen said from his Florida winter home. "He wasn't with us long, about six weeks at the most, I'd say."
Controversy? Uh, not so much:
"Bo called, and he wants you back there." Carr protested that he had joined Nehlen because "I wanted to stick with you." Nehlen told Carr, "This is Bo. When Bo wants you, you go."
Beisball es caliente. Michigan's impressive 12-game winstreak was a bit hollow, since they've been playing the likes of Oakland and Eastern Michigan of late and had their four games against conference co-favorite Minnesota cancelled on account of Hoth-worthy weather, but is no longer after a four-game weekend sweep of fellow co-favorite Ohio State. Michigan outscored the Buckeyes 41-14 over the four games, to which we at MGoBlog say "ha ha!" before scurrying into our Bunker of Denial so that no one can proffer the obvious and terribly effective response. Michigan is now an impressive 22-6, 8-0 in conference, and has a good shot at an at-large bid to the NCAAs if they finish out the season. Coach Rich Maloney has previously set the at-large threshold at 40 wins, though that was before Michigan lost the Minnesota series. To hit 40 before the Big Ten tourney they'd have to win 2/3rds of their remaining games; since the Big Ten is essentially a mid-major in baseball that's probably doable.
Michigan's home for the next six games, with a Wednesday doubleheader against EMU and a weekend series versus Purdue all at the Fish. Wednesday might be sort of crappy and rainy, but the weekend should be decent weather.
(Side note: in this era of year-round athletic and academic competition, doesn't it seem silly that the college season starts in February and ends in May? Shifting it summer-ward a month would really help out northern sides.)
I actually like Jay Bilas quite a bit. He's one of the rare color guys/studio analysts who will explain the finer details of basketball to the layman. He usually strikes a nice balance between the Vitale and Packer ends of the basketball announcer spectrum. But he's totally nuts about longtime friend Tommy Amaker's firing at Michigan. The latest salvo, and there have been a few previous, is an interview in the Free Press in which Bilas says many ridiculous things. Here's one:
Michigan athletic director Bill Martin said he tells his coaches that their job is to be always knocking on the door of a Big Ten championship every year and knocking on the door of a national championship every few years. Is Beilein capable of those standards? They haven't been doing a lot of knocking the last 40 years. Before Amaker got there, all they were known for was cheating.
A completely false and unprofessional assertion. Michigan has been to the Final Four during the 60s, 70s, and 80s, winning a national championship in '89. Even if you would like to pretend that the Fab Five never happened, that's a record of achievement most schools look up to, asshat. In a four-question interview, Bilas brings up Michigan "cheating" twice. (This is where I point out that none of the violations were recruiting inducements, that if Ed Martin didn't exist the Fab Five still would have attended Michigan, and the same frickin' one-year self-imposed postseason ban and meaningless scholarship reduction penalties were assessed to an Ohio State program that obviously turned itself around quite quickly.)
Bilas has been beating this drum ever since people started question Amaker's job at Michigan, constantly questioning the dedication of the program while simultaneously decrying the one extremely obvious thing they did -- firing Amaker and hiring a guy at twice his salary -- that shows they're paying attention. Why does anyone bother to ask Bilas about this situation? Not only is he a fellow Dukie bound by their arcane preppy rituals, he was a frickin' teammate of Amaker and is evidently his bestest friend in the entire world. As a result, he says things like "Tommy put (the program) in really solid footing, and I think Michigan owes him a debt of gratitude for doing that," when any minimally competent coach could have ceased recruiting Dom Ingerson and Maurice Searight and Avery Queen, who were not only thugs but sucky thugs.
We can stipulate that Amaker was a better coach than Brian Ellerbe -- I mean, God, if we're going to get meatheads into the program let's at least make sure they can play -- but that's all. Michigan owes Tommy Amaker nothing more than the 900k stipulated in his contract. He was a terrible floor coach, a recruiter who couldn't put together a coherent roster, and he looked ridiculous. He is not a martyr. He was not done wrong. Michigan showed him more patience than virtually any other school in the country would: six years is an eternity in college basketball. No school above the Northwestern-Penn State level would tolerate Amaker's result and no one except Bilas would confuse the Michigan basketball program with either of those schools.
I want to be very clear on this: Tommy Amaker was not good for the Michigan program. He "cleaned up the program" only because the worst athletic director in the history of Michigan athletics decided to hire the worst coach in the history of Michigan athletics. Since Amaker is not three standard deviations below the mean it looks like he did a good job, but any basketball coach remotely qualified to coach in the Big Ten would have done a better one. Every reasonable candidate kicked around six years ago would have had more success. Everyone in the world except Dick Vitale, who refuses to criticize any coach ("Dave Bliss is awesome, baby!"), realizes this. Except Bilas.
Jay Bilas is quite literally the least objective person on the planet to talk to about this. So why bother asking?
Elsewhere: Joey demolishes Bilas as well:
What actual insight did a purported expert, Jay Bilas, offer during this interview? None. I feel stupider having read it. It was a bunch of tired talking points and worthless generalities. Not a single person who knows even a little bit about college basketball could have learned anything from this piece
Yeah, USC has Snoop Dogg but do they have this?
More on the game can be found at Colin's new digs. I can answer this question of his:
I saw Quentin Patilla in a blue jersey (blue = offense) and couldn't come up with a reason why.
Okay... that's not a question. Anyway: Patilla was switched to fullback this spring once the backfield situation got dire, which bodes unwell for his future. Fullback is a black hole of a position that sucks in the underwhelming from other positions and holds them in its gravitational clutches forevermore. Maybe he just got moved there to fill in a temporary hole in the roster, but Quintin, get away from the event horizon.
In other, more alarming, picture news...
Yes, that's a tie. Now he gets fashion sense? If he wears a tie on the sidelines and takes Harvard to the tournament while Beilein roams around in a Hawaiian shirt and jam shorts winning NITs I officially give up on basketball.
I did go even though it was cold and I expected little and was rewarded by the unexpected unveiling of an actual scrimmage, though the massive losses on offense made it hard to draw any conclusions. The dread specters of
Kirk Mark Moundros rumbling ahead or Andre Criswell getting endzone looks only figure in the nightmares of Michigan fans, not the plans. Some impressions:
- Charles Stewart looked effective at safety. At the very least he looked more on top of things than he did in last year's Minnesota game. He's still just a sophomore and has plenty of time to establish himself as a contributor.
- The first string linebackers were Ezeh, Panter, and Mouton. Though reports from practice have been a little down on Panter's readiness, I thought he looked fine to good out there, a solid tackler with good enough speed. He was mostly tackling Vince Helmuth and Moundros, though. Mouton was physically reminiscent of Larry Foote. I have my money on him in the WLB competition against Graham. Ezeh was at SAM and did okay.
- Savoy and Mathews were somewhat disappointing, though Mathews did provide several moments of levity when he was outraged at being interfered with and expressed his displeasure to the ref. Michigan tried to go to him deep several times; Henne connected on a 30-yard fade but Mallett's balls were always long. I thought to myself "Manningham would have run under that" several times; Mathews is not going to be our deep threat when Manningham gets gone. Savoy's hands were questionable.
- We have no tight ends.
- Mallett had a couple moments where you were like "Jesus!" but usually looked the part of an overmatched freshman. I don't know if the receivers were to blame, but a lot of his balls were wide or long. He was primarily working with walkons.
- Sears is getting trashed many places but he didn't stand out as a negative to me. Not a positive, either, but I concentrated on him for a couple snaps and he seemed okay in my unprofessional opinion.
- First team defensive line was impressive. The backups were not.
- KC Lopata appears to be the first-string kicker. He was 3/4 on the day with two makes and a miss coming from decent distance. Bryan Wright didn't look particularly good.
Carr had one major piece of news in his post-spring presser: Carlos Brown is once again a running back and is not transferring. Score one for Angelique Chengelis. Also, Justin Boren will be the starting center this year. Redshirt freshman walk-on Mark Moundros will be the backup fullback.
Stephen Bell, a connected guy in the realm of Michigan high school basketball, says that an Alpena forward, Eric Puls, is coming in as a preferred walkon. Normally this would be shrug-worthy news, but since Puls is a 6'9" guy with three-point range he might end up being a contributor. Fawning Alpena News article:
Over the past few years there hasn't been a basketball player in the northeastern Michigan area as versatile as Alpena forward Eric Puls.
The 6-foot-9 Puls gave Alpena an unmatched presence in the paint who also was skilled enough to step out and drain a three-pointer or handle the ball like a guard.
This is almost certainly wild exaggeration resulting from watching a potential D-II college player go up against the various bewildered lumberjacks I assume populate the high school basketball teams of northern lower Michigan, but if he can shoot and handle and pass Beilein might turn him into another Pitsnoggle. Tatoo parlors of Ann Arbor should go to red alert if this is a picture of him (the caption on the story implies it is but isn't explicit):
"They shot the ball as well as any team we've played in the past seven years," Cadillac coach Jeff McDonald said. "It was most just one player but to the rest of their team's credit, they matched up with us athletically and gave us a lot of problems."
The one player is senior 6-foot-8 Eric Puls. He hit five threes in the game and had 26 points in the first half en route to a 36-point night.
"He was really on fire and you have to give him a lot of credit for the way he played but we have to find a better way to stop him next time," McDonald said.
And there's more!
"It was The Eric Puls' Show," Marquette head coach John Tiziani said. "But big players show up for big games."
Puls started the game by scoring Alpena's first 14 points, which included four 3-pointers. He finished with 30 points.
Hopefully he's as successful as fellow Alpena-to-Ann-Arbor transplants Mason Proper, who kick ass.
Rumor update. Kevin Grady's ACL tear is out in the wild:
Junior running back Kevin Grady is U-M's latest casualty after tearing an anterior cruciate ligament during last Saturday's practice.
His father, Kevin Grady Sr., confirmed the knee injury Thursday evening.
"He was having a great spring, but it's one of those things that's out of your control," Grady Sr. said.
Grady has a redshirt available and is expected to take it.
Angelique Chengelis says not so fast (no permalink) on the Carlos Brown thing:
The source also said rampant rumors of Carlos Brown's transfer are not true. Well, not exactly. Brown, who moved this spring from tailback to cornerback, was, apparently, contemplating whether to leave the Wolverines and did take time off from practice, but he has decided to stay put. Michigan's final spring practice is Saturday.
At last check, Rivals was still assuming he was gone and they've proven far more accurate than the News about these sorts of things in the past unless the topic is Morgan Trent's hand, so I remain somewhat skeptical. It does sound like Brown recently decided to stay, perhaps in the aftermath of the Grady injury, so this is less a conflict and more the News getting some updated information. Brown's return would be welcomed at either tailback or cornerback or even both. He's also reportedly having the kick and punt return jobs dangled in front of him.