Wisconsin Coach Barry Alvarez will very probably announce his retirement at 1 PM today. He'll remain AD. Defensive Coordinator Brett Bielema is expected to be Wisconsin's next coach.
Shocking timing on this. You'd think that something like this would happen soon after Signing Day. Bielema produced an excellent defense last year but it remains to be seen whether he can duplicate his success with an almost all-new defense.
Update: Alvarez has announced his retirement... after this year. One more go-around for Alvarez, although it doesn't exactly look like it will be a banner year.
The fourth installment of the BlogPoll Roundtable is humming at Blue Gray Sky. Lou Holtz is not mentioned. I plan to keep it that way.
Here we go:
1. Who are your rival(s)?
Traditionally Michigan has one "rival": whoever they're playing that week. Due to a tendency to lose to teams made up of guys who have to wear helmets both on and off the field on a semi-regular basis despite being, like, totally the best team except for those losses, everyone in the Big Ten has been given the erroneous impression that Michigan is still smarting over that Halcyon Year We Beat Them. Even teams that Michigan owns--Penn State, Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota--believe themselves to be rivals.
And honestly, given recent events up to five frigging teams could be considered rivals: ND, Michigan State, Ohio State, Iowa, and Penn State. Notre Dame has managed to beat Michigan regularly despite being completely crappy. Michigan State loses two of three but cheats so unbelievably heinously to win the ones they do that all Michigan fans preserve a burning hatred for them and their clock stopping ways. Ohio State... well, duh. Iowa is the new Big Ten power and have beaten us two of the last three years. Penn State, well, they're just freaking flipping out about getting totally 0WNZ0R3D. It's not much of a stretch to say that the 34-8 waxing Michigan put on the #1 Lions in '97 started the downward spiral they remain on to this very day. Michigan beat them every year after that until the last two, when they didn't play. This has driven most Penn State fans who post on the Internet completely freaking insane.
But, really. It's OSU, ND, and MSU. In that order.
2. Size up your chances in your rival games this year.
Don't listen to Joey, man, we be killin' em this year. Killing them. Eh... maybe. Notre Dame and Ohio State are at home. ND's defense is mostly new and has only one guy that I'm particularly concerned about, DE Victor Abiamiri, and a secondary that looks very exploitable. Michigan should move the ball well. On the other side of the ball... well, Quinn is pretty good but I'm underwhelmed by their receivers. Walker managed to rack up a lot of yards last year but took a ton of carries to do it. His average was under four yards a carry. The Irish will score but I think Michigan wins. Call it Rather Good.
in the house.
Michigan State... ugh. Historic incompetence in East Lansing, a crazy-ass offense with Drew Stanton poised to make our linebackers (and linebacker coach) look like idiots again, and sort of a "State's due" feeling. On the other hand, State will have no defense whatsoever, Stanton may crush vital body parts against Kent State, and at this rate every running back on the roster will be sitting in the same jail cell by October. Also we've got Sergeant Slaughter to teach us how to not screw up. Call it a Meh.
Ohio State... well, it's at home. They have major issues at cornerback past Youbouty and I am still fervent in my belief that Troy Smith is a really crappy quarterback. They have no running backs. But Ginn, linebackers, etc. Meh, again.
3. If you could start up a new rivalry with another team, who would it be?
USC. Michigan has a history with the Trojans; unfortunately it largely consists of losing Rose Bowls. I would like a regular shot at redemption and the occasional visit from the Trojans. No other set of helmets walking into Michigan Stadium would have the same historical relevance.
4. Overall, what do you think the best rivalry in college football is?
I have been advised to avoid the homer pick here. But the best rivalry must have a boatload of tradition, teams that are consistently among the nation's best, a competitive furor that hamstrings the national aspirations of both teams, and a huge heaping helping of some good old-fashioned hatred.
There is no other.
5. Lastly, game trophies. What are the best and worst rivalry trophies out there?
- Does it have a grandiose name resembling that of a medieval knight? Check.
- Would it look natural on the mantle of the crazy old lady in the neighborhood with 100 cats? Check.
- Is it absolutely, completely ridiculous in every way? Check.
- Does it remind you of bratwurst, tailgate food of the gods? Check.
Ladies and gentlemen, I present Minnesota and Iowa's Floyd of Rosedale to you:
- Is it a totally meaningless trophy based on a fictitious non-rivalry created by conference realignment that has never, ever been significant to either school? Check.
I give you the PSU-MSU Land Grant Trophy, sort of:
So irrelevant this was the best picture I could find.
Michigan needs safeties in the 2006 recruiting class and the Internet rumblings indicate that their need may be filled in the near future. IN S Steve Brown will choose between Notre Dame and Michigan on Monday. Internet buzz suggests that Michigan is expected to win this particular battle--lucky for us that Brown is, like, brown. We haven't had a white safety for decades.
Washington SS/LB/WR... er, ATH Taylor Mays was thought to be favoring USC. Now people are saying he's down to USC and Michigan or UW and Michigan and perhaps favoring the Wolverines:
Just to follow up on the recruitment of Mays. Taylor visited Michigan over the weekend and really had a great visit. At this point, Michigan is easily his favorite in what increasingly appears a two horse race between UM and USC. However, Taylor visited USC in February and is going to referesh himself by possibly visiting a practice early in August. He loved the college town feel of Ann Arbor and really has a great rapport with DB Coach Ron English. It really looks like he has a strong lean to UM with USC behind them. There is really a big fall off after that and everyone else seems to be wasting their time. Look for his decision following his 2nd look down at SC.
The guy claims to know Mays... take it with a grain of salt, as you should all totally unsubstantiated Internet rumors. I think he might be right, given the buzz. UW fans shoot that particular messenger quite a lot but he's not the only guy saying these things. Mays will decide in late August.
Getting commitments from both would fill Michigan's safety need (only one, Jamar Adams, in the past two years) in authoritative fashion. Both Brown and Mays are top-100 players according to Scout and Rivals. Mays is rated in the top 10 by them. That's certainly not a sure thing but chances are we'll get at least one. Antwine Perez is also out there, down to LSU, USC, and UM, as is Jonas Mouton, who will take an official. Both are 4.5 star prospects in the bastardized average I post on the recruiting board. Even if both Mays and Brown commit Michigan still figures to pursue Mouton and Perez heavily. Brown could play corner and Mays could play linebacker or wide receiver.
Speaking (at least on a tangent) about ND recruiting, more fuel for the "Charlie Weis is a nut" fire:
Folks are still buzzing over a recruiting visit new Notre Dame football head coach Charlie Weis made recently with a top area high-school lineman, who clearly expected to be wooed, flattered and praised by Weis. Instead, Weis slapped a copy of the recruit's grade transcripts down on the table, chastised him for being an obviously lazy student and told him that unless things changed, Notre Dame wouldn't waste another minute recruiting him. Word is the shocked lineman is now vowing to take his classes much more seriously this school year. Weis has already received commitments from two St. Ignatius High standouts, receiver Robby Parris and defensive end John Ryan, for 2006.
Yet to be seen whether this is as effective as the legendary John L. Smith slap of Lamarr Woodley. Spotted by EDSBS.
Al Montoya will sign with the Rangers in the very near future. So says the New York Daily News:
The Rangers are nearing agreements on three-year contracts with Al Montoya and Hugh Jessiman that will enable the 2004 and 2003 first-round picks to turn pro and join the organization this season.
So says the New York Post:
Al Montoya, the 20-year-old Michigan goaltender whom the Rangers selected sixth overall in 2004, is closing in on a contract agreement with the club, The Post has learned.
So says Michael Spath:
Very succinct, Mr. Spath.
It's telling that when I read the "uh-oh" from Spath my immediate thought was "ohgodnotTambellini". I am totally nonchalant about Montoya's departure. As I've noted before, Montoya was terrible last year (I promise this is not sour grapes, I've annoyingly harped on this before) and would likely have been just as bored and soft-goal prone this year. Good luck in the NHL, Al. I suggest keeping the black thing out of the net, though I know you love the red flashy sound.
So. Sauer or Jakiel? Dunno. Do know that whoever is Michigan's goalie next year will have some wickedly skilled players coming in with him. Jack Johnson is the subject of an article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in which he compares himself to Vladimir Konstantinov. Yes please.
And sometimes controversial Red Line Report guru Kyle Woodlief had this to say about Andrew Cogliano:
Ajax, Ont.: When will Andrew Cogliano go?
Kyle Woodlief: I've been waiting for someone to ask this. I think he'll go right around #20 overall, despite the fact he's only 5-9, 173 pounds (which tells you a bit about how good he is). He is, bar none, the fastest skater in this entire draft class, and has loads of skill with the puck. He is exactly the type of player who will be helped if the NHL clamps down on obstruction and opens up the game. In fact, if a team were absolutely convinced that the NHL will truly become a more wide-open, offensive league, I would not consider it far-fetched to see someone jump up and grab him in the top 10, though it's not likely.
A player of Cogliano's make and model being a first round pick in the size-valuing NHL translates to a hell of a lot of goals in college. I cannot wait to see either of these guys.
(HT: Michigan Hockey Net.)
Update: More on Johnson from the Ottawa Citizen.
Update 7/26: Linked to Sam Young article. Removed S Pha'Terrell Washington (Maryland), CB Brian Brighton (we aren't recruiting him), OL Matt Carufel (dropped us), S Stephon Hampton (we shan't be needing sleeper safeties), CB Jovani Chappel (not listing us). Removed QBs Mike Hartline and Sean Hakes. The chances of us offering a quarterback without a current offer are very low. Removed RB Anthony Elzy and added FB Obi Ezeh.
Editorial Opinion: Mostly culling of guys who I put on a while ago after reading a single article somewhere and never heard about again or are real longshots to get an offer. Link here.