"He's a hard worker, and he watched me and Tim (Hardaway Jr.) and Nik (Stauksas) put work in to become (first-round picks), and I'm just happy he's getting better," Burke said. "It's great for the program, too. It shows what type of program the University of Michigan is and the direction it continues to go in."
(Some have left notes saying that you're getting around to it... do it posthaste and I'll modify the roundup to note these things.)
Okay. Feedback was received on Roundtable #5, but there are still swaths of uncharted lands. Most of the ACC: dunno. Pac-10 teams not named "USC": dunno. SEC? Dunno. Any chipping in on the mysteries of Auburn, Georgia, Miami (Florida), Virginia Tech, Arizona State, Cal, etc., would be appreciated. A second opinion on the Big Ten would also be fantastic.
Anyway. On with the show.
No one bothered to attack my ranking of Purdue in the top ten. I provide a link to my thoughts on the matter here. In summary:
Michigan: I said #5, but given everyone else's input I actually put them #3 in my first poll by default. The offense: mauling OL, Mike Hart and Kevin Grady and Max Martin, Chad Henne, Avant and Breaston. At first blush the most talent of anyone outside USC. The defense: well... there's a lot of talent on the defensive line, and the linebackers should rebound. Leon Hall is one really good corner. The safeties, meh.
Purdue: #7. They almost had a really good season a year ago but were undone by untimely fumbles, a spate of short missed field goals, and an 80-yard, 31 second scoring drive in the Sun Bowl. Every defensive starter returns, and Brandon Kirsch and Kory Sheets should improve the run game. Ingraham, Bryant, and TE Charles Davis are a good 1-2-3 receiving combination.
Ohio State: Troy Smith is not that good. They can't run. Their pass defense is questionable. I try not to dwell on the linebackers and receivers. I had them #10, but in a fit of pissiness dropped them to #11. The djl Zone also says that "ranking them much higher than tenth is being exceptionally generous," but he doesn't like Ohio State any more than I do.
Iowa: Drew Tate, Ed Hinkel, and Clinton Solomon will make a fearsome pass-throwing-and-receiving trio this year but there are significant questions at OL, especially the tackles, and RB. The defensive back seven is formidable but the front four is all new and totally green. The projected starters are all either sophomores or freshmen, and while I believe in Kirk Ferentz, I don't believe that much. I've got them from #12 to #14.
Minnesota: I have them #22. Laurence Maroney is good, and so are three of their offensive line starters. Like "whoah did three Gopher offensive linemen go on the first day of the NFL draft" good. They have a huge, rangy wide receiver in Ernest Wheelwright who is the next Braylon Edwards if he just gets those hand things working right. Brian Cupito is pretty okay. The offense: muy good. The defense? Uh... that's why they're #22.
Texas got hammered in the first edition of the roundtable for being the most overrated team going into the season, but damn if a couple of the Big Twelve blogpollers didn't peg them second anyway. TAMBINPO is sadly permalink-free, but I promise if you scroll down extensively you'll come across a thoughtful rundown of the various Big Twelve teams. He, citing AAARGH Vince Young, like, a lot, says that there's as good a choice as anyone for #2. Not so fast, my friend, says Struggling Joe, who admits that the Longhorns are a top-10 team but certainly not #2. Texas Tech blogger RD Baker has them #7.
There's much conflict of opinion on Oklahoma. The Bruce says they're due for a fall (as does ESPN Bruce, by the way) and has them #13. So does TAMBINPO. Joe says... #5? RD Baker says #5, too, but both Bruce and TAMBINPO bring copious nasty facts to the table, like OU will be breaking in new starters at seven defensive spots, quarterback, three offensive line slots, and wide receiver. Oy vey!
Texas A&M, at least, seems to be well-pegged by voters. Joe says #17. TAMBINPO says #16. RD says #11. Year three of Reggie McNeal and the promise of the Year 3 Franchione liftoff has various persons buzzing.
Texas Tech returns a lot this year and seems to have a defense that can keep up with the Joneses in the Big Twelve for a change. RD Baker has them at #20; TAMBINPO says the Red Raiders are #23.
Colorado was mentioned a couple times. TAMBINPO has them #25, but actionBERG specifically calls them out as a team that shouldn't be ranked.
Nebraska shouldn't be ranked according to Husker partisan Joe, but could "almost stumble to a 7-4 record" this year. So they've got that going for them.
Section Six reiterates his belief that NC State is a likely surprise (oxymoron?) team this year. Most of a defense that was really good a season ago returns and NC State was on the implausibly short end of the turnover stick in 2004. If Jay Davis doesn't suck the Wolfpack could be a really good team. As it is, he says they're worth a ranking from 20-25.
He's also down on Florida State, although not as down as I thought he'd be. Citing the mere 9 returning starters and big gaps at DB, DL, and QB, he has them from 14-16.
Eagle In Atlanta offers his educated opinion on Boston College: "At this point I think Tom O'Â’Brien can squeak out seven wins in any conference in the country. I also think we'Â’ll win a crappy bowl. So starting the season at No. 22 seems right." Feel the excitement! EIA also takes some time to wonder about a "Mackovic-like mutiny" against Chan Gailey. Uh, now that you mention it, Georgia Tech is not ranked by EIA.
Pittsburgh is sneaking onto the end of a lot of lists, but EIA says nyet. SportsBiz, on the other hand, says da, #23.
SportsBiz is listed as an NU partisan but also has a strong Louisville affiliation, so listen up when he says they are for real. #8 for real.
No one covered anyone in the Pac-10. MDG did note that he thought USC should be #1 and Cal #21 but rightfully spent most of his time covering the two WAC powers (more on them later).
Section Six also addresses
Alabama in his post, saying that the Tide should indeed be ranked coming off a 6-6 year. Brodie Croyle, who's like MSU QB Drew Stanton in that his last name may as well be "Ifhealthy," should be good, er, if healthy, and nine starters return from one of the best defenses in college football last year. S6 has them at 18-20.
EDSBS is content with Florida's just-outside-the-top-ten ranking of 11. Ditto for Auburn's modest expectations at #15.
The Bruce attempts to get in EDSBS's good graces by knocking Tennessee, placing them #10 instead of the coaches' poll-anointed #3, citing Ainge's late-season tendency to throw copious interceptions, a dearth of talent at wide receiver, and that 22.7-ppg yielding defense, which is all back. Good thing or bad thing? Bruce says the latter. No pooftahs.
Eagle in Atlanta is veeery skeptical of Georgia's chances this year, rating them from 23-25. But here's Wacky RD again. He's got Georgia #2! Go go gadget Tee Martin Hypothesis, I guess.
Both the djl Zone and Have You Met Tony? make cases for the Falcons in the top 25. Omar Jacobs is real good, but Tony points out that the other dudes around him have pretty nice credentials, too. Both Falcon partisans are extremely worried about the defense, which was crapulent in traditional Explosively Offensed Mid-Major fashion, but neither pegs BGSU a top-ten team either. DJL says 17-23. Tony says 15-20. Non-Falcon The Bruce also pegs BG at 20. Sounds like something of a consensus.
Our lone WAC pollster, MDG, weighs in on both Fresno State and Boise State only to find them (slightly) lacking. MDG notes something that EDSBS is on, too: the Bulldogs have a really undersized defense that leaves them susceptible to plowing by teams like, say, maybe Georgia that makes it somewhat difficult to take them super seriously. Like say, #4 seriously. He's torn as a Fresno fan. The talent is there, he says, but who knows how they'll hold up mentally? He wouldn't object to you placing them anywhere from 15 on up, but says for the record he won't be voting them in the top 25 to start. Ditto for Boise.
Hurray, that's the poll hurray. If you're interested, you can see all the individual ballots here. Now on to the extracurriculars. First up are the teams which spur the most and least disagreement between voters as measured by standard deviation. Note that the standard deviation charts halt at #25 when looking for the lowest, otherwise teams that everyone agreed were terrible (say, Eastern Michigan) would all be at the top.
Now on to the blog-specific rankings. First up are "Mr. Bold" and "Mr. Numb Existence." The former goes to the voter with the ballot most divergent from the poll at large. The number you see is the average difference between a person's opinion of a team and the poll's opinion.
Next we have the Coulter/Krugman Award and the Straight Bangin' Award, which are again different sides of the same coin. The CKA and SBA go to the blogs with the highest and lowest bias rating, respectively. Bias rating is calculated by subtracting the blogger's vote for his own team from the poll-wide average. A high number indicates you are shameless homer. A low number indicates that you suffer from an abusive relationship with your football team.
Swing is essentially the total change in each ballot from last week to this week (obviously voters who didn't submit a ballot last week are not included). A high number means you are easily distracted by shiny things. A low number means that you're damn sure you're right no matter what reality says.
Okay. Previewing the Football Team Loosely Affiliated With The Ohio State University (FTLAWTOSU) has necessitated actually going to the website of FTLAWTOSU and reading
We are slaughtering the Northwestern Wildcats
things that are on it, which makes me feel dirtier than that one time with the midget porn and an unwelcome early return of my grandmother*, especially because every word on the site sounds like it's coming straight from the mouth of the Iraqi Minister of Information. It serves as an interesting counterpoint between the two schools. Michigan: understated, subtle, classy. The classic elegance of the deep blue hues it wears on Saturdays. Ohio State: all the subtlety of a hepatitis-ridden hooker. The intelligence and volume level of Stephen A. Smith.
See for yourself. Here's the introductory section on Gabe Watson, probable NFL first-round pick:
At Michigan... three-year letterman ... returning starter at defensive tackle ... has played in 33 career games and made 11 starts ... has 52 tackles, eight tackles for loss and two sacks during career ... 2004 All-Big Ten first team (coaches).
Here is the introductory section on Buckeye DT Quinn Pitcock, probable football player:
A terrific football player who started for the first time last year and had a sensational season ... is big, strong, tough and makes plays at crunch time ... comes-to-play every game and is a blue collar guy who thrives on competition ... [ETC ETC ETC]
If you're wondering to yourself "I wonder, self, does the tOSU SID cream himself when discussing every player on the roster," the answer to that question is "AAAAARGH YES AAAAAAAARGH." Any opportunity to insert a puffy, meaningless adjective is taken. Journeymen with little playing time and fewer NFL prospects than Rudy are made to seem like SuperJesus. (A side note: what Estonian pickle farmer did they hire to do this? "comes-to-play" hyphenated? I don't understand how that even crossed someone's mind.)
The worst part of the whole thing is the season prospectus. Now, these things are always mindless propaganda but holy crap, OSU has next-levelled this puppy. Believe me, I am probably the person most qualified to determine these things, having actually read 10 of them (why would I read Michigan's?). Just... just... Christ on a pogostick:
But the Buckeyes, who won the national championship in 2002, won't get caught looking too far ahead. Tressel will see to that. The skillful Buckeye mentor is a believer in staying focused and taking one game at a time. His first four teams at Ohio State have dined on that recipe and the result has been a sumptuous overall record of 40-11, two BCS victories, a perfect 14-0 season and a national championship. It is a proven formula for success, one that the players have readily adapted as their own mantra.
We are slaughtering the infidels. They die by the thousands. I write short ridiculous Hemingwayesque sentences and then launch into long ridiculous metaphors that imply that people are consuming little cards that say things like "2 cups sugar, 1 scraped vanilla bean." I can't decide if I am amused or deeply angered. Apparently both. I mean, when you see sentences like this:
Additionally, Roy Hall, Devon Lyons and Devin Jordan are talented receivers who will see playing time. The latter three would start for most teams.
You have to marvel at what a strange world we live in... but you also have to wonder how people in Ohio manage to not punch themselves to death accidentally, you know, in case I'msa oneothem queers or sumptin'. The whole thing finishes with this handy definition of the word "hubris":
Pollsters will rate this team high
The Buckeyes appear to be talented on both sides of the ball. The offense is explosive and versatile, capable of long drives and quick strikes. The defense is physical, deep and can run. The schedule is challenging, but the Buckeyes have gone 33-6 the past three years and know how to win. Many of the preseason pollsters will have this team rated in their top five. All will have it their top 10.
Yeah, I ranked OSU 10th to start the season... until I saw that! Say hello to #11, bitches!
PS: Carr and Tressel are generally as different as your gruff but deeply good grandfather and that sweater-vest-wearing uncle who molests you but gets away with it because you have no proof, but they have one thing in common:
The Buckeye coach calls the punt, "the most important play in football."
*(ha ha, just kidding, Mom.)
I guess Ron English can get bent. Oh well. At least it wasn't Washington--Michigan is recruiting both Jonas Mouton and Antwine Perez, safeties with identical three-team lists: USC, Michigan, and LSU. Probably helps some with them.
Now that Mays has decided I can finally reveal that I thought he was terribly, terribly overrated based on my extensive lack of knowledge about his playing abilities. Also he probably eats babies.
Okay, okay. I promise that I'm not going to make this post more than two, maybe three more times at the outside: Jack Johnson has made it very clear he's attending Michigan. JJ Defcon should head to five and remain there once you peruse Justin Spiro's interview with Johnson over at... the Detroit Sports Rag?
Holy crap. Yes, the home of Jordan Acker--the dumbest semi-literate person in the Western Hemisphere--has come through with an interview which is really good but poorly copyedited. The key sequence for the paranoid:
Spiro: It was reported in the Ann Arbor newspapers that you have opted to attend the University of Michigan for at least 1 season, though you have not publicly confirmed this yet. Is the report true, and why did you make the decision that you did?
Johnson: The report is true. I simply do not feel ready at this point in time to make the jump to the professional level. I committed to Michigan at age 14, and I've been looking forward to wearing the UM sweater ever since. Plus, I want to win a National Championship.
Spiro: So if Michigan wins the National Championship your freshman season, will that mark the end of your career in the collegiate ranks?
Johnson:Not necessarily. Why stop at 1 if I can get another? It really boils down to my progression as a player. I will go when I feel prepared.
The door to a second year... open? Quick, Yost Built, we need a JJ Defcon 2006! In any case, the whole thing is worth reading. (Thanks to reader Y2K for the heads up.)
Bonus! Johnson also conversed with McKeen's. The mound-charging incident is covered in bizarre detail.
Further football article wrap: Carty says he can't see Carr retiring until he's "content," which presumably means that either A) Michigan has a big year or B) Drew Sharp is jailed. Rivals has some photos up and a video interview with freshman cornerback Brandon Harrison, who, uh, wants to win the Heisman. (He said that on the radio, not in this interview.) Good luck with that; I guarantee that I'll be a generally happy, contented person if that were to happen. Scout has articles on Leon Hall and Tim Massaquoi.
Larry Harrison is really, officially gone now, having enrolled at North Carolina A&T, much to the surprise of the Ann Arbor police:
"I was surprised to hear he was playing football somewhere," said Ann Arbor police detective Chris Fitzpatrick, who was involved in Harrison's cases. "Nobody from that college has contacted anybody in our department that I know of."
Harrison's lawyer appears to be attempting to claim that this whole thing is just a case of mistaken identity. He takes the mgoblog prize for "worst defensive strategy EVER (non-Jim Herrmann division)." How many muscular 300-pound black guys are running around Ann Arbor? Probably about ten, and they're all on the football team.
Opponent stuff: Northern Illinois is not your typical MAC pushover. They're gunning for the title this year behind a grinding ground game, which is sort of a "yes, but" situation when confronting Michigan. Yes, you can plow the MAC, but Gabe Watson is a bird of an entirely different, much more nacho-friendly feather. Northwestern is probably going to lose DE Loren Howard for the entire season. That's a devastating loss should it come to pass. Howard is the team's best player and the Northwestern DL is proverbially paper thin. Not to mention that Wildcat running back Terrell Jordan, the probable starter, partially tore his hamstring. Things are looking very grim in Evanston.
The heat is on Tommy Amaker this year. You can tell by examining ESPN's offseason Big Ten feature and noting that the team they focus on was 13-18 last year, 4-12 in conference. Also, the headline reads "It's time for Amaker to deliver in Ann Arbor." The power of deduction!
New commit Deshawn Sims is goin' to work on 7 foot Michigan C Tom Herzog. He called him immediately after committing and "lobbied" Herzog to join him. The expectation is that this will happen sooner or later.
It's the end of an era. Terry Foster's blog is moving to MLive. I'm somewhere between heartbroken and despairing. MLive: I beg you, do not copy edit his blog. I... I don't think I could take it.