The nutty Michigan coverage isn't so much about Harbaugh as it is a signal to the Big Ten that Fox wants to party.
When Michigan got two early commitments from quarterbacks Kevin Newsome and Shavodrick Beaver it looked like they had quickly addressed the most gaping hole on the roster and would discontinue efforts to land other ball-throwin' guys. This did not so much happen. Tate -- not Jason -- Forcier continues to list Michigan high and came out to the one-day senior camp a few weeks ago. Floridian Eugene Smith has Michigan in his top five and appears to be under the impression Michigan is still recruiting him.
In a TLA: WTF?
There have been rumors that Newsome is still open to other schools recruiting him, most prominently Penn State and Virginia Tech. They are no longer rumors. This is a "close family friend" of Kevin Newsome:
"I thought when he picked Michigan, he jumped the gun a little bit, and I was disappointed," [former West Branch coach Lew] Johnston said. "I told him that."
Johnston is not a big fan of Wolverines coach Rich Rodriguez, who told Newsome he was "their guy" and then continued to recruit several other top quarterbacks. Michigan received a second QB commitment just days after Newsome's pledge.
"We're very close, and I've told him I'd like to see him stay closer to home," Johnston said. "I'm not going to push it, but there's something about playing in your home state."
There is obviously a possibility of a decommitment and Newsome will bear watching going into the fall.
Meanwhile, I am not a big fan of this Johnston guy. "I'm not going to push it, I'm just going to... you know... push it." Here's a quote from Kevin Newsome himself($):
"I know they want to take two and they're looking at Tate Forcier, Eugene Smith and some others," he said. "I'm not really worried about that. They told me I was their top guy and I know I have to compete. I just think the school and the football situation fit me right."
I don't know who started it, but now we have a feedback loop: Newsome remains slightly open to other schools because Michigan is recruiting other quarterbacks; Michigan is recruiting other quarterbacks because Newsome remains slightly open to other schools.
The situation, as far as I can see:
Shavodrick Beaver is solid on Michigan, and has reportedly even encouraged Forcier to commit. A scholar and a gentleman, he. Beaver grew up a big Texas fan and if there was going to be some wobble it would have been when the Longhorns offered him (at WR) a couple months ago. There was not.
Kevin Newsome is probably going to stick, IMO. The structural factors that led Newsome to pick Michigan -- Jay "Duh" Paterno and VT QB Tyrod Taylor -- are still in place. This Johnston guy is a former West Branch coach and Newsome is transferring to Hargrave Military, which seems to say a lot about the influence this guy wields: not much. Hargrave, by the way, is a prep school that hosts a wide array of guys who didn't make it academically every year. It's kind of a football Oak Hill. Newsome will play on their "post graduate" team.
His father, Kevin Sr., confirmed the move this afternoon, saying his son wanted to "continue to improve at quarterback so he'll be in a better position to step in and help somebody as soon as possible when he gets to college."
Help somebody? Er. That article also floats Newsome's potential attendance at a VT one-day camp; he does that and he's instantly a soft commit.
The Hargrave move is good in multiple ways for Michigan: it gets him to a school well-known for coaching kids up, it provides a tough level of competition, and it should smooth Newsome's path to an early enrollment. If Newsome enrolls early, Michigan won't have to wait until signing day to find out how solid he is, and if he ends up decommitting hopefully Forcier or Smith is still out there. (And even if they're not... snake oil, baby.)
I think Tate Forcier wants to go to Michigan. This is just speculation, mind you, but Forcier continues to speak highly of Michigan long after that stopped making any sense, and dumping a grand or so to come out to the camp a couple weeks ago speaks volumes. IIRC, he hasn't made it out to Penn State, Florida, or Oregon in a while. Throw in those myspace comments when Newsome committed and the preference seems clear. IMO, a Newsome decommit will either be preceded or quicky followed by a Forcier commit.
Eugene Smith might also be a possibility if he intends to wait, which I believe he does.
Who do I want? I like 'em all.
This is a big, huge, bighuge big week for Michigan basketball. If you've been following UMHoops.com you are probably aware of all of this, but in short:
- Beilein is hosting a wide array '09, '10, and '11 prospects this week at various camps.
- California point guard Darius Morris is making a visit.
Morris, a point guard who's #64 in the Rivals 100 and upwardly mobile, has been saying all the right things for going on six months now; this is the big week. The LA Times:
Michigan has had to be considered one of the favorites to land a verbal commitment from Darius Morris of Windward for quite sometime now, especially since his father had so many good things to say about the Wolverines and what they had to offer his son in this blog, back toward the end of April.
That said, it shouldn't come as a big surprise to learn there's a plan for Morris to visit Ann Arbor on June 29-30, according to quotes. The 6-foot-3 junior point guard has offers from Oregon St., Washington St. and USC. Other programs expressing interest include Arizona, Kentucky and Texas.
Morris is a huge recruit for Michigan basketball. He's a top-50-ish PG from across the country and would be the biggest recruit John Beilein has ever landed. He's Daniel Horton, except this time he'd be committing to the guy widely believed to be the best strategic coach in the country. Landing him would go a long way towards dispelling the perception that Beilein will only recruit six-foot white guys with peanut allergies.
If Morris commits, Michigan will be looking for a high profile wing to round out the class. UMHoops provides the lowdown.
Also, anyone got 40 million lying around?
According to a Crisler Arena infrastructure report recently completed for the university by architectural firm Jicking Lyman Powell Associates, renovating Crisler Arena could cost more than $46.7 million.
The report estimates the cost of a new practice facility at $20.5 million, bringing the cost of overhauling and building to approximately $67.2 million.
Indiana linebacker Jordan Barnes has committed to Michigan. Informative update coming... eventually. Probably tomorrow.
The NHL drafted dudes this weekend, and all four Michigan recruits were picked:
- D Brandon Burlon went in the late second round (#52) to New Jersey.
- Robbie Czarnik went at the top of the third (#63) to the Kings
- Greg Pateryn went in the fifth (#128) to Toronto
- David Wohlberg went in the sixth to New Jersey (#172)
Draft-eligible freshmen Scooter Vaughn and Tristin Llewellyn were passed over, as was 2009 D recruit Lee Moffie. This is the first time since 2000 Michigan didn't have a player picked in the first round. The program is a machine.
Upshot? It's nice to have top-end picks, but a bunch of second to fourth rounders are almost as good since NHL teams are less likely to pick them off after a year or two but they still have excellent talent. See: Porter, Kevin and Kolarik, Chad.
Czarnik going to LA is a little unfortunate. The Kings have a history with Michigan hockey, and by "have a history" I mean "you hate them." Mike Cammalleri, now a (yech) Flame, was pressed and pressed by the Kings until he finally signed right before the season started, pissing Red off something fierce and causing one of his regular diatribes against early signing. Two years ago, USHL player of the year Trevor Lewis never got to Michigan after being picked by the Kings at the tail end of the first round. LA signed him and shuffled him off to the OHL. (Jack Johnson also signed with the Kings early, but he went right into the NHL; can't blame anyone for that.) Czarnik's not going to pull a Lewis, knock on wood, but if he turns into a star he might get signed prematurely.
Other than that, it's nice to see the Devils pick a couple Michigan players. New Jersey's one of the best-run organizations in the league and they get a ton out of the draft, which speaks well of Burlon and Wohlberg's talent relative to their draft positions. They also tend to leave guys in college longer (IMO). Pateryn getting drafted is a major bonus since he's not on much scholarship money.
CCHA Note: Highly-touted Ohio State recruit Zac Dalpe may never see Columbus. He went high-ish in the OHL draft to Plymouth and was just taken by the Carolina Hurricanes. Both franchises are owned by Peter Karmanos. Dalpe was reportedly considering the OHL route but wanted to see what the team who drafted him preferred; Carolina is obviously going to push for the Whalers.
Outside of Michigan, it was a meh year for the CCHA in the draft. MSU recruit Daultan Leveille went 29th; he and Dalpe were the only two players selected before the fourth round, when a couple ND recruits and another MSU player went.
The MZone is dead, so someone's gotta do it.
There's only one man in the Big Ten Network footprint who's upset at the recent BTN-Comcast accord, and you get zero guesses as to his name. You didn't even guess, but you're right: Drew Sharp.
If you have a memory longer than two days you remember the minor scare that the BTN would agree to an eight-month preview only to be shuffled off onto a sports tier afterwards. It turns out said scare was caused by 1) sloppy media members not being careful with their words and 2) the exceptional paranoia of yrs truly. You probably remember every one of the hundred articles from every paper from Minnesota to Pennsylvania being very clear that this was not a possibility, that any move would be to a "broadly distributed" digital sports tier that 80% of Comcast subscribers already get.
Sharp either didn't read a single article on the deal or couldn't figure out what "broadly distributed" meant:
The Big Ten finally agreed to an arrangement ensuring that 94% percent of Comcast's subscribers within the eight-state Big Ten footprint would get BTN over an expanded basic cable package that, from Comcast's standpoint, basically amounts to an eight-month "free preview" to the network before Comcast can switch BTN to a special digital sports tier package in those pockets, not including local Big Ten home cities such as like Ann Arbor and East Lansing, where it believes the demand is highest.
This underpins the entirety of what passes for his argument: the Big Ten completely caved and should have done this a year ago. It is completely false. Drew Sharp doesn't even read his own goddamn newspaper:
The BTN and the cable carrier announced a multiyear agreement today that puts programming on expanded basic on Aug. 15 in states with Big Ten schools. After the 2008-09 basketball season ends, Comcast has the option to shift the network to its digital service.
Comcast has about 5 million customers with basic cable and 4 million with digital in Big Ten states.
Sharp's entire column is based on a misunderstanding of the situation that reading 600-word article could have cleared up. He cannot be bothered to even understand the deal before doing his Drew Sharp thing, which is to trash anything that does not win a championship.
And so, the eternal question: why? I'm not asking this in your standard "lolmsm" fashion. I am genuinely puzzled. Every sports fan I've ever come across in this town loathes Sharp. He is inextricably linked with two things: hatred and the Detroit Free Press. Why would the Free Press intentionally antagonize readers that now have a vast multitude of other options? Sharp's a dinosaur from the days when readers had a choice of Paper A or Paper B, the prime numero-uno example of why lazy-ass columnists rage against the internet: it exposes how very much they suck and provides alternative sources of attention.
Every column he writes pisses away more subscriber goodwill and drives consumers to less annoying sources. Even if he gets attention, it's the wrong kind of attention in a hotly competitive media environment.
Update: A Free Press minion has corrected Sharp's error to this...
to the network before Comcast can switch BTN to a digital package, which is more expensive than expanded basis.
...which is a nice try but only makes the column even more transparently nonsensical.