- Brandon Minor is doubtful for Saturday. His ankle is healed, but now the shoulder is a problem. He didn't practice at all yesterday, and they're hoping he can do a little today.
- Martavious Odoms should be healthy enough to play on Saturday.
- Carlos Brown should be full-go.
- Last week's Tate/Denard issue was overplayed. Tate and Rodriguez never "argued," but the coach was giving a coachly lecture. The two QBs split snaps with the first team last week (contrary to rumors), and Tate will likely start this week, though both will play.
- Carlos Brown, Mike Shaw, and Vincent Smith are considered co-starters for Saturday at this point. Kevin Grady will get some carries as well.
- Woolfolk is at corner because there were concerns with that position. Brown's position is almost like a nickel safety, rather than a linebacker, so that's a natural fit for him.
- Brandon Smith and Mike Williams are competing in practice this week for the starting safety spot.
- Obi Ezeh and Kevin Leach are still competing for the starting linebacker spot.
- Brandon Graham and MIke Martin are the only defensive players who graded out high in the Wisconsin game.
- The season's permanent captains have been decided, but they won't be announced until tomorrow afternoon - even to the players.
- If you can't get fired up to practice and play this week, something is wrong with you. The players still need to focus that energy towards improving to win the game, not worrying about the implications of the game.
- Rodriguez has not talked to Terrelle Pryor. Still, he's a talented player, and it will be tough to simulate him in practice.
- They'll run more more 1st team v. 1st team this week, in order to practice against the best in preparation for OSU.
- The CARA reporting issue was taken care of as soon as Rodriguez found out about it. He can't say anything else about it, however, as the NCAA investigation is ongoing.
- The team had higher goals this season than scraping into a bowl game, so regardless of the outcome on Saturday, the season will be a disappointment. However, it's not discouraging for the program, and the groundwork has been laid for future success.
- Taking the ball off the coin toss against Wisconsin was one of the few times Rich has ever done it. He wanted to get on the scoreboard early, and Wisconsin's students still hadn't made it into the stadium, so he thought it would give them an advantage.
On UFR. Yes, it's coming, but not today. I'm trudging through it as fast as Henri will let me, and plan to get both up tomorrow.
This. This is the greatest thing in the history of creation.
Via the WLA. Of course.
Hype video. You might have noticed that this space is not very hyped about the football game on Saturday what with all the depressed otters hanging out around these parts. But still, hype video exists:
Not a Paul hype video, FTR. Would have more Explosions in the Sky or whatever that pretentious indie band is. [/hypocrisy]
Hey now. Many points to Rittenberg for having the same reaction Rich Rodriguez did when he was asked the same stupid question about "getting the rivalry" for the 100th time:
"Just because I did not coach here before, I did not play here, I'm not from the state of Michigan, doesn't mean I don't understand the rivalry," Rodriguez said. "I understand it as well as any coach can understand it. I've only [coached] in it in one game. Trust me, I understand the importance of the rivalry."
The fact that Rodriguez has to keep defending himself on this issue is ridiculous…
…and it perpetuates the argument that Michigan will always be skeptical of anyone outside the fraternity.
Wait, what? Doesn't it perpetuate the argument that press conferences are useless things and many reporters have never had an original thought in their lives? I don't see how a meme propagating itself across a group of people that basically asks the same dumb stuff every week/year reflects on anything except newspapers.
I mean, in the same press conference someone asked Rich Rodriguez if he thought there was something to the idea he didn't "fit" at Michigan. Rodriguez spluttered out similarly incredulous answer that did everything except directly call the questioner a dip.
Irrelevant but must happen. The Silverdome just got sold to some Canadians who want to renovate the thing to turn it into a soccer stadium for use by an MLS team. This will never work. The Silverdome was too big for an NFL team. Soccer-specific stadiums in this country seat about a quarter of the dome's capacity. And the MLS commissioner just shot down the idea.
HOWEVA, I feel compelled to bring up the greatest idea I've ever had: if and when Detroit gets an MLS team, it should be called "Detroit City" and the crest should have a big rock in the middle. They can call the team "the Rock" and it can be sponsored by Prudential. This must happen.
Is this a shark? I haven't read Malcolm Gladwell's latest book or the slam job the New York Times executed it, but I find Gladwell's counterargument disappointingly shallow:
In one of my essays, I wrote that the position a quarterback is taken in the college draft is not a reliable indicator of his performance as a professional. That was based on the work of the academic economists David Berri and Rob Simmons, who, in a paper published the Journal of Productivity Analysis, analyze forty years of National Football League data. … I found this analysis fascinating. Pinker did not. This quarterback argument, he wrote, “is simply not true.”
I wondered about the basis of Pinker’s conclusion, so I e-mailed him … He had three sources, he said. The first was Steve Sailer. Sailer, for the uninitiated, is a California blogger with a marketing background who is best known for his belief that black people are intellectually inferior to white people. … Pinker’s second source was a blog post, based on four years of data, written by someone who runs a pre-employment testing company, who also failed to appreciate—as far as I can tell (the key part of the blog post is only a paragraph long)—the distinction between aggregate and per-play performance. Pinker’s third source was an article in the Columbia Journalism Review, prompted by my essay, that made an argument partly based on a link to a blog called “Niners Nation."
Spot the fallacy: ad hominem. Berri and Simmons may be "academic economists" but they're also the people who wrote a whole damn book attempting to justify Dennis Rodman as one of the greatest players of all time and basically fudged their way to an arbitrary metric or two that the basketball statistics community very politely ripped to shreds. I'm inherently skeptical of their work since Wages of Wins was those guys applying a lot of advanced statistics to reach an obviously dumb conclusion. (Presenting: a very complicated mathy explosion of the idea that Rodman was particularly valuable.) If there was going to be a brilliantly written fisk blog dedicated to tearing statistical zealots a new orifice it would be called "Fire David Berri."
So… yeah. Just because two guys have a lot of complicated metrics that say one thing doesn't mean much to me when they've got the track record they do.
Don't re-write history plz. This site's had a love-hate relationship with Jay Bilas ever since Tommy Amaker started flailing about towards the end of his tenure at Michigan. Bilas is one of the best color guys in college basketball, a genuinely smart guy who adds a lot of value to the games he broadcasts. He was also totally insane about Michigan's supposed lack of support for Amaker, and when Manny Harris made a basketball move that no one on the opposing team said was dirty, he went off on him. Why? I don't know. It sounds like Bilas doesn't even know:
There are times in dealing with coaches and players you have a relationship with and dealing with comments you get off the record. That's where you hope your best judgment comes in. I worked with Manny Harris of Michigan two summers ago. I have not worked with or been around a better kid. Last year, he was involved in an elbowing incident and I was pretty hard on him. I could have sat there and said, 'Great kid, let's dismiss it,' but I didn't. I said what I thought and I had a lot of critical comments from Michigan fans. But I didn't know any other way to handle it. I worked with Manny again this summer and we joked about it. Adults don't handle that situation better than he handled it. I wish I had the poise that kid has.
Bilas got a lot of critical comments from Michigan fans—including in this space—because he absolutely deserved every last one for misrepresenting his play, especially given his reaction to a far more flagrantly unsportsmanlike act committed by his alma mater:
Bilas on his relationship with Duke:
"If I criticize Duke when I think it's warranted, I don't particular care whether they like it or not. As long as I am confident in what I say and the judgment I made, I will stick up for what I say. If I am wrong, I will say I'm wrong, and I am wrong on occasion."
That's… well… tough to defend. Bilas was wrong about Manny Harris…
"I respect his right to protect his kid and stand up for him, and I respect that, but that doesn't mean I have to buy it. I don't buy it. I saw (the play) 100 times. That's not a basketball play. That's not the way the game is played. How many games are played every day, high school, college or pro, and players execute rip-through moves, and how many noses are broken?"
…and has yet to say so.
Etc.: I think I had beef with "Cold Hard Football Facts" at some point in the past—maybe they repeated the Brady-didn't-start myth?—but their breakdown of the disparate reactions to the Belichick forth-and-two between the mainstream media and the blogosphere is awesome. Well known national sportswriters actually think "fourth and jackass" is funny and on point. From the MB: every OSU torrent in the universe that you'd want to download. Smart Football has thoughts on people's thinking about Belichick.
Out of Town Guests
Wow, this would be an awesome recruiting weekend if it weren't for a game in which Michigan is likely going to get taken to the woodshed (plz don't, guys). Looking at past recruiting updates, we have the following list:
- FL CB Tony Grimes
- FL DE Clarence Murphy
- CA LB Tony Jefferson (pictured at right, courtesy of the Detroit News).
- PA CB Cullen Christian
- FL RB Cassius McDowell
- FL S Rashad Knight (leaving for Ann Arbor at 6:45 AM Saturday)
- FL S Commit Marvin Robinson
- 2009 FL CB Adrian Witty
- MI CB Dior Mathis
Jefferson came in for the Sam Webb treatment in the Detroit News last week:
"They said they are in need of a player like me," Jefferson said in April after he received his Michigan offer. "They said I could play early at whatever position they think I could play -- outside linebacker, safety, or even offense. They liked my (physicality). That's what Michigan recruits."
He's a 4-star to both sites. MGo-Recruiting Guru Tom Van Haaren adds that Jefferson will not be the only California prospect in attendance. CA WR Kenny Stills will be in town along with CA Ath (and USC Commit) Dillon Baxter. Tom talked to Baxter yesterday. CA RB Brennan Clay, an Oklahoma commit and high school teammate of Tate Forcier, might also make it in. Or not.
SoFlaFootball says FL DT Richard Ash will visit for the Ohio State game as well. Ash comes from the familiar Pahokee pipeline, so Michigan might have a good chance to land him.
Add to that TX DT Jatashun "Big Tex" Beachum.
FL WR Kenny Shaw will be in the house as well. Remember, he's a former teammate of Ricardo Miller and current teammate of 2011 FL RB (and heavy Michigan lean) Demetrius Hart. Speaking of whom...
Expect a bunch of juniors as well, including Hart. Demetrius may be in the "good visit = commitment" category. 2011 OH S Ron Tanner will also be in attendance ($, info in header).
As previously discussed, GA teammates DT Michael Thornton and LB Tyrone Cornelius will take a fall visit. I wouldn't be surprised if it's for this game, though that's certainly not confirmed.
Added OH S Ray Vinopal, who has received a Michigan offer. Vinopal had been on the radar much, much earlier in the process, but it didn't seem like he'd ever receive an offer. With that offer in hand, expect a winter visit from him. Here's his highlight video, courtesy of ScoutingOhio:
I honestly don't intend to reinforce racial stereotypes, but just from the highlight film, he looks like a guy who is always in position because he plays smart, not because he has elite speed. Vinopal also looks to be a big hitter. Cardinal Mooney is a traditionally strong program, and it couldn't hurt Michigan to have an in there.
For those concerned about his low recruiting profile, it appears that Vinopal's strong senior year is drawing interest from Notre Dame, Pitt, and a number of other local BCS programs. If a couple of those inquiries are followed up with offers, it'll be clear he's a Lewan sort of late bloomer, not a reach.
Cullen Near the End
PA CB Cullen Christian, as noted above, is visiting Ann Arbor this weekend. He had also planned to visit Ohio State last weekend, but that apparently didn't happen. The Buckeyes were one of the prime challengers for his commitment, so not visiting the Buckeyes can only hurt them. He still plans to decide on November 24th, so as long as his Michigan visit doesn't go poorly, he could be the next addition to the 2010 recruiting class.
Christian has made several unofficial visits to Ann Arbor, most recently in June. He is comfortable with what the program has to offer, but wants to spend a few days around the players, coaches and students before rendering his decision.
"I want to get everyone's opinion about Michigan before I make a choice,” Christian said.
Definitely sounds like his mind is all but made up. Michigan has been eliminated from contention for his teammate, S/WR Brandon Ifill, so don't expect a package deal.
VA LB Aramide Olaniyan, who had previously named Michigan near the top of his list, has committed to UCLA. He visited the Bruins a week ago, whereafter he named them his favorite. I'd accept a trade of Olaniyan for Jefferson (a UCLA commit), if it's possible. Olaniyan's off the board.
CA CB Joshua Shaw, who I removed in the last update, picked Florida yesterday.
Permanently removed TX DT Jay Guy, who has switched his soft Cal commitment to a hard Nebraska one.
Spurned commit Holmes Onwukaife may be back in the picture for the Wolverines. Michigan and VT are the leaders for MD LB Josh Furman ($, info in header). MI QB Commit Devin Gardner isn't wavering, which is good because he does things like this. 2011 DL Donte Phillips was "wowed" by his Michigan visit a couple weeks ago ($, info in header). OH TE Alex Smith has parted ways with Cincinnati. He'll make a final decision within a couple weeks.
Probably, but unconfirmed.
So Rodriguez was asked about the audit stuff that came out yesterday on Columbus radio and was explicit about his inability to go into it much:
"The only thing, because the investigation is still under process, the NCAA won't let us comment about it other than the fact that the practice-log process, that thing was corrected as soon as I learned of the issue," Rodriguez told hosts Bruce Hooley and Chris Spielman. "As soon as this whole thing is over, I'll be happy to discuss all the other details."
Rodriguez wasn’t asked and did not specify when he corrected the problem.
This goes to the heart of the matter: was this a minor administrative issue quickly corrected when the papers went from one desk to another, or is this a major, embarrassing documentation gap? Yesterday I speculated that these forms probably didn't exist, otherwise someone would bring it up to turn this mountain-type object into a molehill. The Rodriguez appearance makes it clear that the reticence to go into detail not a smokescreen but widespread caution.
And then there's this: a contact close to the team has told me that the 2008 forms do exist, were found shortly after the audit, and have been turned in to the university and NCAA. I'm trying to confirm that with the AD itself, but I'm betting they won't say anything official about it. If that's the case, this is a minor administrative goof and not a potentially damaging development worthy of Free Press quotes like…
“The enforcement staff is going to be looking at whether the institution failed to monitor,” Buckner said. That could be “a major violation. It’s one step below lack of institutional control.”
…but, hey, that's just someone else making a statement in response to an unpublished, possibly leading question and an objective reporter can't be held responsible for framing that.
A. If that's the case, various Free Press staffers are going to have to explain just how that closet is full of dead hookers.
Before this turns into a huge Ron Burgundy parody, let's just get everything out of the way now: BAXTER! You ate a whole wheel of cheese? San Diaaagooo. It's German for a whale's va....ok, that's enough.
Dillon Baxter is a four star running back prospect from San Diego, CA. Though he's currently a USC commit he will be visiting this week along with CA WR Kenny Stills and CA LB/S Tony Jefferson. Yes, he plays offense. No he doesn't play defense. He's really good, though, and his highlight video is jazzy.
On with the interview.
TOM: This visit kind of popped up out of nowhere; how did it come about, and what piqued your interest in Michigan?
DILLON: Michigan was one of my first places I wanted to look, but I never really got a chance to. I just want to make sure USC was the right place. I have an opportunity to go see it, so I wanted to do it now.
TOM: What made Michigan a place that you liked in the beginning?
DILLON: I like the crowd, and I’ve always liked them since I was little. They were kind of my team growing up, so I’ve just always liked them.
TOM: Have you made any other visits besides USC?
DILLON: USC is really only the main place. I’ve been to UCLA a little bit, but not really for that long.
TOM: You, Tony Jefferson, and Kenny Stills will be on the visit, are you all friends? Are you all friends with Tate?
DILLON: Yeah, we’re all friends; Kenny’s going to spend the night at my house before the flight. We all know Tate (Forcier) from high school, so that should be fun to all be together again.
TOM: Have you guys every thought about all playing together, or talked about it?
DILLON: We talked about playing together all last year, so we’re all kind of looking around to find a cool place. It didn’t work out that we’d all play for USC, so we’re going to see if there’s maybe anywhere else we all like.
TOM: Can this trip change your mind? A lot of people think kids that are committed sometimes take trips just to have fun, is that the case here?
DILLON: No, if this is better than USC then yeah. I’m pretty serious about USC, but who knows. The coaching staff at USC are all hype, and always happy to see you and teach you. I just want to find out how the Michigan coaches are, too.
TOM: What are you most excited for at Michigan?
DILLON: I can’t wait for that game; I’m excited. I don’t really know if I’ve been in front of that many people. I just want to see how the game is, the crowd is, just everything. Coach Dews is who’s recruiting me. We’ve been talking the last couple days. So, I want to build on that relationship more and meet the rest of the coaching staff. The offense is exciting, and I hope I can fit in that offense. I want to stay at running back and slot, so that would be right for their offense.
TOM: If this visit does change your mind, or make you think, when will your ultimate decision be?
DILLON: This is the first week of playoffs for us, so probably once our season is over.
The Great Oregon-Southern Cal Debate lasted all of one week and ended in a highly satisfactory fashion for bloggers who did not automatically look at the Trojan on the helmet and slot them in ahead of a team that had just steamrolled them: the same team that handed Oregon a two-score loss then opened up the proverbial can on USC.
There does remain one blog win versus the mainstream folks: bloggers remember that 1) Penn State's best win is over Northwestern and 2) Iowa's is over Penn State. Yes, at this point the Blogpoll should be part of the BCS. I give up. The only worse idea is the current one.
Rest of it at CBS Sports. Tim's final ballot after the jump.