Your top ten:
First place votes spread out like weeds in the wake of unimpressive performances from the two SEC powerhouses, though the TCU folk don't bother justifying their rationale because it's pretty hard to justify TCU #1. The rest of the poll at CBS Sports.
|Last week's ballot|
Changes from draft:
I looked at moving Texas or Florida past Iowa, or moving Texas ahead of Florida, but I couldn't justify it. There was a lot of hand-wringing about Iowa in the comments, but their whole body of work is more impressive than the other two, IME. Penn State, Wisconsin, and Arizona are definitely all high-quality wins, especially considering they were all 10ish-point margins of victory. The Arkansas State and Northern Iowa games are slight demerits, but Florida and Texas haven't been without their scares this year, either. Add in the fact that Iowa State is respectable(!!!), and the Hawkeyes have put together a heck of a season so far.
I knocked BYU out of the poll in favor of West Virginia, and moved Utah down to the last spot. LSU moves ahead of Boise State on a deeper set of wins. That puts Oregon adjacent to the Boise State team that beat them. If the Ducks can beat USC this week, I think we can justify moving them past the team with the head-to-head win and better record.
I still feel a little weird having Houston in the top 15, seeing as how they got blasted by UTEP, but their set of wins is surprisingly impressive (a little less so with Texas Tech losing to A&M in embarrassing fashion).
I considered Central Michigan, but they have beaten absolutely nobody outside of MIchigan State, and they do have a loss on the year (albeit a quality one to Arizona).
The writing was on the wall for this one, but some playing time against Penn State made it seem like Cissoko had come through his recent issues and would rejoin the team in good standing. Not the case, unfortunately:
Michigan sophomore cornerback Boubacar Cissoko has been kicked off the team.
Coach Rich Rodriguez, through a team official, confirmed Tuesday he dismissed Cissoko for a "violation of team rules."
That's obviously a severe blow to Michigan's already paper-thin secondary, both for this year and going forward.
UPDATE: Details from Wilcher:
Cissoko's high school coach, Thomas Wilcher of Detroit Cass Tech, said Cissoko was dismissed from the team for missing class, missing workouts and missing study table.
"That's what he was suspended for in the first place," Wilcher told The Detroit News. "He's upset. He's going to transfer as long as he can meet the requirements."
Wilcher said Cissoko had a difficult time handling the "social structure" at Michigan.
"He couldn't handle it," Wilcher said. "He's always been a quiet kid. (But) he needs to do what needs to be done as a student-athlete. Nobody is bigger than the program."
He was probably on zero-tolerance and missed something, or somethings, yesterday and or today. I really hope he does manage to transfer somewhere; if he doesn't and he leaves ineligible that's another double-blow to Michigan's APR.
Hello Dave Brandon?
OH SNAP FUTURE AD (POSSIBLY)
In the initial post on the topic, I lumped Dave Brandon in with a few folks who had been mentioned for the job but weren't likely to be strong candidates for one reason or another. Brandon's reason: his political aspirations. If the guy is going to run for governor or the Senate or something, he can't be Michigan's AD.
Since then I've acquired the following pieces of information from a source close to the situation, as they say:
- His political aspirations are real but have been put on the backburner because the state GOP doesn't want him to run for governor.
- Assuming politics are out of the equation—not 100%, but likely—Brandon would jump at the job.
- Brandon worked very closely with both Martin and Coleman on the stadium renovations and during the football coaching search. He's a known quantity in the AD and a guy the people at the top of the pyramid are comfortable with.
- The tinfoil-hat wing of the internet that's suggested Brandon is a part of the shadowy anti-RR cabal hypothetically headed by Lloyd Carr could not be more wrong. Brandon was a key supporter of Rodriguez's candidacy. He and RR have dinner regularly. 3-9 engenders some frustration, but one of the items cited was Rodriguez getting "too friendly with the media".
This is not someone who has anything but the program's best interests in mind. Brandon would represent an RR faction* win.
If Brandon wants the job I'm betting he's the front-runner. While the two BCS ADs have more direct experience running a department, Brandon is more familiar with the main folks at Michigan. He's been a regent and a CEO of a major corporation; he's worked with Martin on important projects within the department. And he was a walk-on at Michigan. Contrary to the previous post, I think Brandon is the most likely choice until I hear specific contradictory information.
PRE-CLARIFICATION: None of this information comes from the Michigan side of things; I don't know what they're thinking. I'm thinking I know what they're thinking.
*(Assuming that there is any actual anti-RR faction within the athletic department.)
On De Carolis And Long
So there are some complicating factors with the guy who seems like an easy #1 choice. A couple tipsters indicated that his departure from the Michigan athletic department was less than amicable. A former Daily writer explains:
I had a chance to interview Don Canham in 1991 when I was on the staff at the Michigan Daily. He was quite pissed with Bob DeCarolis then about quotes DeCarolis had given which showed up in a book by Murray Sperber on college athletics about how Canham put the athletic department in the red in having the Canham Natatorium built. DeCarolis thought it was a money-wasting project to feed Canham's ego. Doubt that would be held against him given that he stayed in the athletic department until 1996 and it wasn't like he pissed on Bo's grave as Harbaugh essentially did when he said he was steered into Mickey Mouse classes while playing football at Michigan. But, from what I just read in The Wolverine that feud with Canham is certainly not a distant memory.
Same guy also had some interaction with Jeff Long:
I think Jeff Long was probably the athletic department's first "Director of Football Operations." (akin to the position Scott Draper has today). Probably the job was essentially created after Long's GA tenure expired but he was liked by Bo and his staff to keep him around. He obviously made the most of the opportunity given where he is today. As student managers, our orders and assignments mainly came from Jeff Long and Jon Falk. Overall, Long was a decent, hard-working, straightforward guy back then who was easy to deal with and didn't have any hidden agendas.
If folks are over the Sperber incident from almost 20 years ago and De Carolis gets offered the job, he'll likely take the job. He's frustrated with Oregon State's inability to fill its 45k stadium:
"There's still uncertainty," De Carolis said Wednesday, expressing frustration in particular over attendance at football games, "no doubt about it. The free fall has stopped but I think it's going to be a challenge."
De Carolis did not intend to call out Oregon State fans, but he came very close when discussing the school's inability to fill 45,674-seat Reser Stadium.
"I've never seen a state like this, where it's one or the other, you're a Duck or you're a Beaver," De Carolis said. "Well, if (OSU alumni) are so proud of that, why is it so hard to keep this thing going? We have a hell of a football product -- a hell of a football product -- and we can't sell out the stadium?"
"Where are all the Beaver fans?"
The same Oregon-based reader who sent that link also mentions that local sports talk radio has discussed the possibility and they think an offer means De Carolis is gone.
On MAC Folk
At this point I'm pretty sure the two guys in the MAC are going to have to wait.
The rotate. Illinois will look to the future on Saturday by rotating in redshirt freshman Jacob Charest, who you can see making sweet love to your whole body with his mind to the right. Hey, baby, Jacob Charest would like to know if you like emo bangs and nonchalant poses from his trip to North Korea. Yeah, baby, Jacob Charest wore his Illini uniform to Pyongyang Stadium. Because Illini up, that's why.
Charest is a 6'4" pro-style QB out of North Carolina who was a middling three star a couple years back. When Juice got pulled (again) against Purdue, Charest came in and did this:
Charest made his debut Saturday, playing in three series while going 4 of 8 for 52 yards. Zook said he was impressed with the way Charest threw downfield.
Read: "Zook said he was impressed that Charest had better accuracy than a random number generator."
So… good or bad? I guess you'd always rather be going against a team that's trying to find a quarterback and is on their third attempt—Eddie McGee is now working at wide receiver—of the season. And Williams was beyond terrifying last year against Michigan. On the other hand: Michigan's clear weakness this year is the secondary, and anyone more capable of taking advantage of that secondary than Williams is bad.
It probably won't matter since Illinois's line is so terrible: the Illini are #112 in sacks allowed despite a below-average number of passes. (212; NCAA average is 228. So it's not a huge outlier or anything; the point is that their stats aren't distorted by a lot of late-game passing because they're bad.)
Bonus: Arrelious Benn has been fighting an ankle sprain since the first game of the year and played with a shoulder sprain against Purdue. He'll play this weekend but is not 100%.
Ortmann carries around a phonebooth on his back. Via Rittenberg, this table of woe from before the Penn State game:
Suboptimal, and probably worse after Forcier got little help from his receivers. The pocket stuff isn't quite that grim as the table implies since this only accounts for throw of over ten yards—I was in the midst of firing off an email suggesting those numbers had to be wrong when I finally understood the qualifier—but, yeah, pretty grim.
This is a confirmation of a number of this: Forcier's bad in the pocket, the receivers aren't helping out much, and so forth and so on. Michigan should really slant its playcalling towards Lloyd-style conservatism, which only maddens when you're running around with a senior Tom Brady, not sophomore John Navarre.
Mumble mumble bands thing. Michigan State may have lost Saturday, but they won the halftime show:
The Numa Numa song is kind of awesome arranged for marching band, isn't it?
I'm still not sure what the MMB played, as I couldn't hear 3/4ths of it. Was it supposed to be four different thematic versions of the Victors? The one I heard had some vague Victors-y parts but it didn't sound like the fight song itself. I was confused by it.
He descended on a cloud and grumbled out some grumbles for us, we used it to season the tacos. Lloyd Carr, perhaps prompted by Rick Leach's intemperate outburst on WTKA a week or two ago, has emerged from the Fortress of Solitude to deliver his benediction:
"Rich is a young guy, (and) he's got a great background for such a young guy," Carr said during his interview with Frank Beckmann and Jim Brandstatter. "What we're seeing here offensively throughout this season is a great thing for the future of Michigan football.
"The transition a year ago you could expect (the struggles) because what they were looking for in a quarterback. Certainly what we have here is exciting. I'm excited for the future." …
"I've had a lot of conversations with Rich Rodriguez down through the last 18, 20 months, and I told him from the beginning if he needed me for any reason, just call me," Carr said. "I did not want to be a coach who's at practice and hanging around and answering questions from the media about what I saw. I didn't think that was good for Rich or our program."
This will slightly staunch the internet paranoia, but only slightly. As always, I wish to avoid this topic as thoroughly as possible. I have zero credible information about it, and learned during the coaching search that different factions can have incredibly different versions of reality.
On the notice. Chengelis's article on the import of this notice Michigan received from the NCAA starts off by broaching the possibility of major infractions but the end of it puts the event that just transpired in context:
Experts said that might well not be a major development.
"I think this is just a natural sequence of events that should occur when you have numerous former and current players making allegations that there have been rule violations, in this case, practices too long," said Rick Karcher, a sports law expert at the Florida Coastal School of Law.
"It's just a first step."
The next step would either be a determination by the NCAA that the accusations are baseless, or a formal "Notice of Allegations" detailing precisely what is supported by evidence.
It appears this is something that was obviously going to happen, and since NCAA investigators have been working with Michigan the past couple months it seems like this is a letter telling Michigan what it already knows. Basically status quo.
Just 40 more years and they'll get the hang of it.
Charts. A diarist at Black Shoe Diaries diarist is rivaling Misopogon with his charts and interesting research. His focus is on Big Ten passer efficiency over the last decade, with a special focus on Penn State that won't be surprising to anyone who's watched PSU play over the last decade. PSU QBs were consistently horrible except for that one year Mills had before his arm fell off until Darryl Clark broke all of our preconceived notions about JayPa. A couple more general takeaways:
- The last few years Big Ten QBs have dropped off a cliff, with this year a bounce-back.
- Passer efficiency continues to skyrocket. Check out some meh QBs of recent and not-so-recent vintage:
Approximately same rank, 12 extra passer efficiency points for the guy slightly worse.
That latter one is a reason to relax pass interference rules, I think. Another reason: right now they are arbitrary.
Etc.: Tempo-free stats make the NBA bigtime. Florida is the current possessor of a hypothetical college football title belt dating back to the first game ever played; Michigan is an eight-time hypothetical champ, most recently in 2004 when they beat… Purdue?
First, a request for assistance:
I don't know if you or any of your readers might be able to help, but I'm trying to find a recording of a song. I saw a poster for some sheet music at Mr. Stadium Laundry that contained a song called "The Michigan Drinking Song." From what I've been able to find from my Google searches, it was written around the turn of the century and was voted "Favorite College Song" in the 1905 Michiganesian and included in "The Michigan University Songbook" published in 1904. It was written by M.B. Cooper.
My friends and I find it hard to believe that there's no recorded version of this song, and if it's not too much trouble, we'd really like to find it. Thanks for any help you can provide.
I don't know if I can help, but may be a reader can?
Moving on to other matters:
Have you considered year-end awards for the best diaries, board posts, or other community contributions? If so, and if it happens this year, I’d like to nominate Misopogon’s “How Tate Stacks Up Against M QBs of 2005-2008” for best diary – because, you know, holy crap. In fact, maybe the award should be called the Misopogon?
That would be something the community should do, as it's community content. I'm not sure anything can be derived from the board since it moves so fast and has so many tiny posts, but some recognition for the fine diarists who provide a lot of value to the site is in order. After the season I'm planning to implement a subscription option where for a nominal monthly fee you can get rid of the ads, and if there's some sort of user-generated awards thing I'll throw some freebies out to the winners.
Are Roh and Kovacs outside linebackers in disguise? I know they aren't perfect fits, but given our lack of depth and GERG's willingness to move people around, do you think that the coaching staff is at least thinking about this a little?
Also, in the other football, will/should Dempsey start at forward now?
Roh: no. Roh is 230, maybe 240 right now and will add 10-30 pounds over the course of his Michigan career. He's a defensive end all the way and will probably be a four-year starter at deathbacker if he doesn't end up moving to Graham's spot. Kovacs: maybe. I don't know if I've kicked this around on the blog yet, but I have mentioned it on WTKA: I think Kovacs might move to the Stevie Brown SLB/nickelback/spinner position next year if they can find any freakin' safeties. I think that's unlikely given the depth chart at safety and the recruitment of Hawthorne/Jones to play the Brown spot, but if they move a couple guys and someone steps up it's at least a vague possibility. I think Kovacs's skills are well suited for what Brown's currently doing. They're better suited to that than they are the deep centerfield he's been playing; moving Woolfolk to corner has just sprung a different leak in the secondary.
Shameless answer to the irrelevant Dempsey question: absolutely. Dempsey is mostly a striker in the EPL and has done his best work with the Nats after late-game moves up top. The alternative is… um… Conor Casey? I'd rather see Holden or Torres on the field. Maybe that's because I missed the brace against Honduras. But, no, probably not.
After the 3-9 debacle last year, obviously recruiting wasn't going to be as impressive this year. But what do you think about the defensive recruiting (or lack there of) at key positions?
I know Michigan is in on a number of good cornerbacks including Cullen Christian, Tony Grimes, and Rashad Knight (Though Christian could play safety and Knight is being recruited as one), but it seems like the staff is recruiting too many "project" players who will switch positions in the coming years before they settle in. The fact of the matter is this team has no real free safety type (Woofolk moved to CB), and the primary safety commit, Marvin Robinson, is headed to the Stevie Brown/SAM linebacker position.
Also, the defensive line has a number of players who fit the Craig Roh mold (Wilkins for sure, Paskorz maybe?), but a lack of a real Graham-like DE. Talbott is a very explosive player who I think will be underrated. Couple that with Antonio Kinard as the only LB commit (have you seen our LB play?) does this concern you at all? I think it's important that the mgobloggers realize this staff is far from perfect and not every recruiting choice they make is perfect.
Moving players from one high school position to another is a fact of life, as high schools will often throw their best players at crazy positions in an attempt to take advantage of their athleticism. The craziest position to date is Brandin Hawthorne's existence as a high school defensive end. Ideally you'd like to see guys coming in who have experience at their chosen position, but it's not like those guys get a ton of great coaching in high school anyway, or have any idea what they can get away with when everyone around them is about as athletic as they are. Michigan is clearly not in an ideal situation.
I think you'll see (PA DE Ken) Wilkins end up at Graham's spot down the road. Graham is currently 270 pounds and Wilkins is already 240 in high school; he'll end up putting at least 20 pounds in his first couple years here, at which point the move will be obvious, and what you'll see is Michigan pick up a bunch of defensive backs—5 or 6—with the intent of putting everyone in a blender and figuring out where they fit later. Some position moves are scary; safety-to-corner isn't. The linebackers are a concern; if Michigan doesn't pick up both Furman and Olaniyan the class will be disappointing there. And I don't think they'll get both.
Obviously the staff is not "perfect," but neither is the opposite extreme accurate: Rodriguez is not going to bring in classes like this year every time out. When he had a full year to recruit and didn't have a 3-9 anchor around his neck, Michigan brought in the #6 recruiting class, one laden with four-star guys. Almost every one of the recruits Rodriguez picked up in the brief window he had to finish Carr's last class was highly rated by one service or the other. This year's an anomaly, and the class will probably finish at the tail end of the top 20, not coincidentally the same area Notre Dame's post-crater class ended up.
Some background on FBS teams being allowed to play FCS opponents.
Until 2005, schools could count only one I-AA game every 4 years toward becoming bowl eligible. Obviously, this only applies to schools that go 6-5, and has no effect at all on schools with any other record from 11-0 to 0-11.
Here is an October 2004 article about this issue that includes begging from the Southern Conference commissioner to allow one counter every year. Here is the decision in April 2005 where the NCAA decides to allow one I-AA game every year to count towards bowl eligibility, tied into an increase to 12 games.
It really seems like that 12th game was intended to be a game against a I-AA school. Unless I am mistaken, I recall some I-AA schools were threatening the NCAA with a lawsuit for limiting their scheduling options. I could not find a record of this, unfortunately. Maybe I am confusing this with the "exempt games" issue.
I don't think the NCAA has the power to say "only play other FBS opponents." They don't have that much control over in-season scheduling. The conferences can mandate this, but not the NCAA. The NCAA can only say "these games don't count toward bowl eligibility," but the FCS schools would fight that, and they would probably win.
I don't know if you find this interesting, but there has been a good deal of discussion of this point on mgoblog, and there seems to be some misunderstanding of what the NCAA can and can not do.
Mostly included for the interesting background. I disagree that the NCAA doesn't have the power to do what it wants here, as the two sets of schools exist in different divisions sponsored by the NCAA. You might as well say the NCAA doesn't have any power to regulate that D-I and D-II schools can't play each other. The NCAA sets limits on the number of games that can be played in all sports, provides exemptions for various things it would like to promote, and actually organizes the different divisions. I'm sure some I-AA teams could sue, but I find it hard to believe they'd win.
I posted a thread on this topic but wondered about your thoughts. Is it too early IYHO to classify the 2008 defensive recruiting class a disappointment? Although they are only in their second year, ideally (apart from Martin) some would be pushing the upperclassmen for playing time, and as we know they are not, in some cases falling behind walk ons. Thoughts?
IMHE, it is too early to classify the 2008 defensive recruiting class a disappointment. But it is not too early to look at it with trepidation because it seems like we'll be thoroughly concerned about it midway through next year. A brief dossier:
- Beasts: Mike Martin
- Contributors: Boubacar Cissoko, JT Floyd
- Idling away: Brandon Smith, Kenny Demens. UPDATE: Also JB Fitzgerald.
- Gone: Taylor Hill, Marcus Witherspoon
So… first of all, it was only seven guys in a class of 24, and two of them were gone about two weeks after class started. Two more are linebackers stuck behind a walk-on, two more are backup defensive backs in a very poor secondary basically behind a walk-on since their poor play necessitated the Woolfolk move, and Mike Martin is a beast. These guys are going to be juniors or redshirt sophomores next year and it looks like Michigan isn't going to get a whole lot out of them. Cissoko's come back from the brink and may yet develop into something, and maybe we can expect one of the linebackers to pick it up after Ezeh and Mouton leave, but the early returns aren't great outside of Martin.
UPDATE: Forgot about Fitzgerald, who's had a reasonable career path so far given that he was behind a couple of starters; he rotated in for Ezeh a bit last week.