he grew a beard
The reputed lack of hottie in Michigan (the State) and at Michigan (the University) has never particularly bothered me. This is not the case for many people. The impression I get from reading the various blogs of the south is that walking around an area where the corn grows high and the women wide is something like being deprived of oxygen (EDSBS and their Holly Rowe/Generous Farmgirl fetishes excepted), but I guess I grew up at 15,000 feet. I'm used to walking into a bar and having my mental girl filing go something like "no, no, yeesh, no, if I'm drunk, no, maybe, no, no, yes." Since I don't know what it's like to live in a place where "even the fat girls are hot," as Doug of Hey Jenny Slater so elegantly put it, I've adapted to my surroundings. It's like the thing with the frog and the boiling water except without the survivalist/tinfoil hat connotations. I swear this is going to be relevant. Probably.
Anyway, about a month ago Mozilla released Firefox 1.5 and, like the good little code dork I am, I dutifully upgraded. A few weeks later it became evident that whenever ESPN.com was opened up the browser would start consuming vast quanitites of CPU time and eventually crash, though this process took up to five minutes. I apologize, but I find I must break into the dreaded Typical Hack Sportswriter One Sentence Paragraph for emphasis of the highest degree.
This did not particularly bother me.
A remarkable statement, that. There was a time back in the dusty past when I--then a student in the first flush of glorious dorm broadband--read nigh-literally every column published on ESPN.com, (then) CNNSI.com, (a then not useless) SportingNews.com, and CBS Sportsline. A combination of Michigan's magical '97 season and the Broncos' Super Bowl win increased my sports consumption to truly prodigous levels. In those times, a browser that caused any one of these sites to crash would have found itself escorted rudely to the recycle bin, which would have been emptied with a click defiantly supplied by my middle finger.
Now... eh, not so much. As noted above, I didn't even notice that Firefox's apparently random crashes had a definite cause until several weeks after my upgrade. When I did it served notice that my browsing habits had drastically shifted to the point that the only time I actually ended up on ESPN.com or SI.com was when one of the blogs in my ever-burgeoning list of subscribed feeds linked to them, usually to eviscerate someone for being retarded. And it is so: A series of computer crashes and replacements left me starting a new set of bookmarks from scratch. Months later, the only sports sites I've bookmarked? MGoBlog (yay narcissism!) and Yahoo's fantasy homepage. Yow. Everything else lives in Bloglines. (To be fair, I wander over to the Michigan recruiting sites and the local news via the blog sidebar on a regular basis, and Simmons and Feldman are amongst my subscriptions.)
Simultaneously, my increasing engagement with the sports blogosphere means that I'm actually consuming more content than I was during my previous "OMG We're Winning Everything" apex, and it isn't even close. And lo, it is good.
This is where it comes around to the farmgirls again. Before, during the Dark Times in the Long Long Ago, I was desperate enough for sports coverage to read Drew Sharp columns. I absorbed the multifaceted wisdom of Matt Hayes. I read Dennis Dodd. But when you scan the bar and there's nothing but mediocrity, what choice do you have? Before, I read the sporadic "yes," all the "maybes," and a good portion of the "nos," because a man has to get some action. Now... well, it's not that the proportions have changed for the better. Lowering publishing's barrier to entry to the point where anyone with a keyboard and a rock to bash it with can put his deeply insightful insights on the Internets hasn't exactly boosted the standing of the median article on the web. But it has increased the sheer quantity of material to the point where it doesn't matter if 95% of it is garbage, because I can only read 1% of it anyway.
As a result I've gradually shifted my attention to people who write things of interest. Dennis Dodd was replaced by EDSBS. Matt Hayes is gone; Sexy Results! stands in its stead. Detroit columnists not named "Wojo"? Gone; now I read the Michigan blogs linked at left and pine for a Pistons blog that writes about eight times more often than Detroit Bad Boys. Big Ten Wonk didn't even replace anyone; it created a new space in my reading day for a sport I previously only vaguely acknowledged. Hell, I know more about Leonard Pope and DJ Shockley than any SEC players to run through the conference in the past 20 years because there are approximately six quality Georgia blogs for every resident of the state.
To borrow a phrase from Dee Snider: We Don't Have To Read It Anymore. A significant majority of people still will, of course. Media conglomerates are experts at finding a tepid middle ground that a large number of people will find suitable. Blogs are not going to OMG obliterate "old media" any more than the general public is going decide that Britney Spears sux and move en masse to bizarre caterwauling elfin harpists. But now people who are bored with the same old song can find something else. It's indie, baby! Yeah!
Now where are my hot blog groupies?
Pocatello ahoy. The gem city (possibly... or is that Boise? Wait: I still don't care) of the gem state is abuzz with Matt Gutierrez Mania. Witness this epic brick longer than anything ever written about Gutz in his time at Michigan. The Idaho State Potatoes are pumped, baby!
It's a mystery to me why Jerame Tuman, Michigan's lone reliable offensive weapon in '97 and a primary reason Michigan became synonomous with the waggle, never had much of an NFL career. He's hung around with the Steelers since being drafted, but has a total of 35 catches in 7 years. That doesn't stop the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review from totally giving him a sloppy wet kiss in the wake of his totally awesome, er... tackle against Indianapolis.
While we're on the subject of 1997 (and why not, I say), thumping safety and SI cover-badass Marcus Ray is now coaching for Ohio Dominican University, though he looks more like an angry bowling ball of muscle than a safety now.
Also: Johnny gives Jason Avant a well-deserved paean; also compares Mike Hart to Galaga. Or maybe there was a different game called "Gallaga" that I missed.
Editorial Opinion: Woods' commit was expected once Michigan got interested in him. As previously mentioned, he focused mostly on basketball in high school before applying his 6'6" frame to the football field with excellent results as a senior--exactly the path freshman tight end Carson Butler took to Michigan. In fact, the coaches have apparently asked Woods about playing tight end if the DE thing doesn't work out: a veritable clone.
Woods is your quintessential sleeper--attended no camps or combines, didn't even play until his senior year--so there's almost no information on him out there. There's an article on a basketball game that mentions his football skills offhand, but that's it. In general, however, I prefer commits like Woods to guys who have been evaluated by the gurus and declared "meh." In this case, you have a player who's huge, fast, and totally raw. He has a high bust potential but a high ceiling. Woods is a mortal lock to redshirt.
Aaron Gant's commitment to OSU was surprising--he's the first OLSM kid with a commitable offer from Michigan to spurn it in a long time--but won't be damaging if Michigan secures California safety Jonas Mouton. Gant's like Woods, a sleeper, but has more experience and (reportedly) less crazy athleticism.
1/17/2005 - Hockey 0-2 Michigan State - 13-8-1, 8-5-1 CCHA
Michigan Hockey makes me a sad
I don't think I'll try to make a hilarious reference to Bette Midler beating the holy hell out of dozens of midgets with a Christmas ham, since the last time I tried that a couple people mentally envisioned Midler having batting practice with the little people, decided that checked out okay with their plausibility filters, and actually chastized me for having intimate knowledge of the inner workings of Beaches. But if you take Bette's pulsating anger in this totally fictional situation--something that would drive her to beat small cute things with otherwise useful foodstuffs--you'll have a good approximation of what it felt like to watch Michigan get bitched by Michigan State at Munn last night. And that's was just the first two periods, as my cable mercifully fritzed out after 2/3rds of that... whatever it was. So I didn't even see Jack Johnson get a game DQ for what was at worst a two-minute minor. (Charging? No. Left his feet? No. Check from behind? No, Howells brought that on himself by turning at the last possible moment. Elbows up? Okay, sure. DQ? Only if you're the inimitable, incompetent Steve McInchak.)
Obviously my eye towards the Michigan hockey team is jaundiced this morning, so you may want to take this with a slightly larger grain of salt than usual: I think it's clear that this particular edition of the Michigan hockey team is not, um, good. This isn't particularly surprising, what with the vast freshman class and thin roster wracked by offseason departure, but Michigan's 9-1-1 start had fans believing that maybe Red had pulled another rabbit out of his hat. We've been forcibly disabused of that notion: since that hot start, Michigan is 4-7. Ick.
The bothersome part is that the main culprits appear to be our supahstar hotshot defensemen. Jack Johnson and Matt Hunwick started the year on a tear, murdering people, scoring goals, and appearing for all the world like a couple of top four NHL defensemen who got gloriously lost on their way to Joe Louis. Now Johnson's taking bad penalties--even if they don't deserve DQs--and Hunwick is disturbingly difficult to tell apart from Tim Cook at times. It was Hunwick who stupidly crosschecked a Michigan State player after the whistle and turned a (questionable, natch) 5 on 4 into a 5 on 3 that MSU scored on. It was Johnson who let Bryan Lerg get five feet behind him and score on a shorthanded breakaway. The pair watched Wisconsin's winning goal from up close after getting split on a one-on-two, then nearly watched the same thing against UNO a week later. In short, their heads have been lodged snugly in their asses for going on two months. Michigan's record reflects it.
All is certainly not lost. Michigan's schedule to date has been difficult and they find themselves tournament-secure in in the RPI (6th) and PWR (8th) rankings. Though they're superficially 5th in the CCHA at this instant, they have at least two games in hand on everyone in front of them (and four on Lake State). An adequate performance relative to talent from here on out will easily net them a tournament bid. Unfortunately, Michigan has shown time and again this year they do not have the ability to break out of the zone when faced with serious pressure from a disciplined forechecking team. Defensive zone turnovers have led to goals seemingly every weekend, and Michigan has hardly been competitive in the games they've played against really good teams.
They'll keep their tourney streak intact, but it's increasingly clear that they'll keep another streak intact, too: missed Frozen Fours. Sad Panda!
Coming up in 30 minutes on Fox Sports Detroit: Good! Evil! Boring trap hockey! Exciting upbeat hockey! TONIGHT THEY GO HEAD TO HEAD! Join me for ridiculous spur of the moment overreaction(!)!
7:30 PM: Promo video points out the last three games have all been ties... super unsatisfying ties since Michigan managed to blow leads in all three. Fred Pletsch is rocking some hair product in a serious way. May as well use it while you got it, Fred. Hey, it's Shireen "Nude" Saski. Hi.
CCHA HOCKEY... WATCH IT. CCHA HOCKEY... WATCH IT. CCHA HOCKEY... WATCH IT.
7:38 PM: Holy crap, Ruden is playing. And it's Lerg instead of Vicari. What the hell? Motherf***er. It's McInchak: powerplay over under set at 18.
7:43 PM: First chance to Tim Miller, but it's shot directly into Lerg's pads. No reaction from MSU as a Mihcigan forward takes a whack at Lerg... odd. Ugly start to the game as neither team an string two passes together. I mean, seriously... it's ugly. A lot of passes between the teams' defensemen.
7:50 PM: Er... in fact, Kevin Porter was not the captain of the Canadian team at the WJC, because he's not Canadian, play by play dude. McInchak is letting a lot of stuff go thus far... there were about three half-penalties on Michigan, though the Munn crowd isn't reacting to them too much. Ugly play continues.
7:55 PM: Goddammit, a brutal Hunwick turnvoer forces Ruden to make a slick pokecheck against a Sparta in alone. For someoe who's supposed o be our best defensemen he sure looks like Tim Cook a lot.
Okay, we're getting our ass kicked in the defensive zone with the puck, again. We're having major issues getting the puck out of our zone again... and there's another turnover... and another... and an icing. Where art thou, Eric Werner?
7:57 PM: I AM WATCHING CCHA HOCKEY... LEAVE ME ALONE.
8:02 PM: Hey, there's a picture of a shirtless Booth and Hunwick in an embrace. Brokeback action!
This is ridiculous, by the way. We are totally incapable of clearing the zone, which is reason #1 that we are not a real national contender. In every game against quality opposition this year, about 50% of our breakouts end up in a turnover.
And, hey, Hunwick's going to the box. An excellent continuation of his stellar play htis far... oh, and are you freaking kidding me? Bailey freaking brushes a Michigan State player and gets a penalty, and Hunwick gets a retarded crosscheck. McInchak, you hack.
8:05 PM: Goddammit. Goal on the ensuing 5 on 3. Half Hunwick's retarded penalty, half McInchak's incompetence. Spectacular.
8:06 PM: They're reviewing the goal for some reason... I have no idea why. Replay at its worst: no reason to even look at this.
8:09 PM: Michigan kills the power play. It must be said: Hunwick has flipped out this year and gone from a solid player you generally forget about to a guy flying all over the ice, making things happen... often stupid things. He was better as a boring defensive defensemen.
8:15 PM: God, the replay of those penalties is brutal. McInchak lets everything go for a period then calls a tiny brush. Typical.
I know this is just a college hockey game, but I would appreciate if the announcers could actually talk about the game they're watching isntead of the conversations they had with the coaches, the NHL prospects of the players, and how this is a rivalry game so you can throw out the record books. Could I get the slightest hint of analysis, maybe? I'd like to know why it is that Michigan can't break out of the zone.
8:22 PM: 1-0 MSU after one on the 5 on 3 goal. Announcers: blah blah blah freshmen blah blah blah rivalry. Blah.
In summary: MOTS. The complete inability to exit the zone in an organized fashion condemns us to long periods running around in front of the goalie hoping something works itself out.
8:38 PM: Jesus... Hensick just got blowed up by a beautiful hip check. He jumped to try to avoid it and ended up doing a 360. Also: more ugly breakout attempts from Hunwick and Johnson lead to another MSU shot.
God... no wonder no one goes to Munn. MSU's still MSU even without Mason, playing brutal defensive hockey that's utterly unwatchable. This game has been about as enjoyable as a polar bear mauling. Oh... and another questionable call, this one a tripping call on MSU.
Power play is 1:20 of play in the offensive zone features one shot that actually reaches Lerg. Johnson then gets one on, but that's it. We now return to your regularly scheduled unwatchable even strength play.
8:50 PM: They're discussing Bailey leaving the game and mention that Hensick's skating with Fardig and Bailey tonight which is... er... insane. Hurray! Canned music at Munn! Your game experience sucks.
8:57 PM: Great, now the color guy is repeating the useless personal knowledge he dropped on us in the first period. God... this entire game is being played in the neutral zone. I'm just glad this crap doesn't work at all in the NCAA tournament.
Goalie interference penalty on Miller (MSU's version)... he was definitely helped along by Cook, though. Iffy.
8:57 PM: there's Hunwick and Johnson again getting beat, giving traitorous Bryan Lerg a breakaway and a goal. Totally unreliable defensively. Another MSU penalty.
9:02 PM: So, we've had two Michigan power plays and MSU has had three scoring chances to Michigan's zero. We seem content to pass it around until we're really sure that our shot is going to hit a Michigan State player before letting it go. I find this less than pleasing.
And now a Michigan penalty as the allow a 3 on 2. Is there something else I can watch? Hey, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy! Awesome! Now liveblogging gay guys making over straight guys.
9:07 Jack Johnson just gave the puck to the really, really gay guy. He loved it.
9:10 PM: Michigan manages to kill the penalty; then some guy on MSU's fourth line skates circles around Hunwick... what is going on?
Aaand another penalty, this one to Naurato. Okay... apparently this is no check all of a sudden.
Second period over, 2-0 MSU. Our essential crappiness as a team is coming to the forefront now... the one interesting thing the announcers said in the period is that Michigan has been outshot in 10 of its past 12 games. When was the last time that happened? 1986? The one constant you've always had with Michigan is that it would outshoot its opponents badly, even if they lost. Now they're spending most of their time feebling attempting to clear their own zone.
Er... Blogger is now giving me fits. I may not be able to continue, and what a shame that would be.
...and the cable's out. Whatever. I guess that's a sign: I'm out. Please don't kill yourselves. Unless you're a CCHA referee. Then go ahead.
Hail to the Victors of beer pong:
A pair of recent University of Michigan graduates are each $5,000 richer for being the best at a national tournament involving a campus drinking game popular among many college students.
Jason Coben and Nick Velissaris are the champions of the "World Series of Beer Pong," which took place earlier this month near Las Vegas. The two beat out more than 160 other competitors to split the $10,000 grand prize.
Yes, yes, it is getting misty up in here.
That's damn right and we'll do it again. Via Paul Westerdawg comes this little piece of history from the 1922 Michigan-Vanderbilt game:
In the locker room prior to the kickoff, Coach McGugin gave his hopeful pregame inspirational talk. Referring to the Michigan players, McGugin said, "You are going against Yankees, some of whose grandfathers killed your grandfathers in the Civil War." Unknown to the Commodore players was the fact that McGugin's father had been an officer in the Union army.
McGugin continued, "presumably not before said dead grandfathers had the opportunity to sire your fathers, obviously, since this is not a weird Back to the Future-esque incident wherein people screw up their own existence." At that point, one of his players asked "what's Back to the Future?" which cased McGugin to disappear in a puff of logic.*
And we'll conquer you, too. Mayor Kyle King wants Georgia to play Michigan in a titantic battle of... uh... titans. Intriuging. I know that Michigan is looking to play Notre Dame less frequently after the current contract expires in 2010 or whatever and is looking to line up at least one marquee non-conference opponent for years when the Irish are off the schedule, but neither school has shown a tendency to go play roadies anywhere near their prospective opponents: the last time Georgia ventured out of the south to play a game, Dick Clark was busy slaying the tyrannosaurs that threatened his humble fishing village; Michigan hasn't played a non-conference game in the sweltering ex-confederacy since... um? anyone? Bueller? Bueller? Reconstruction? The French and Indian War?
Suffice it to say that such an event is unlikely to occur without a serious kick in the pants from external forces... like a groundswell of public support? Sure! Kyle Wants You(!) to Email Your AD:
write to your athletic director and respectfully request that the two schools schedule one another as soon as possible. It is my hope that the two schools' fan bases will, through the weblogging community, begin a grassroots campaign to get this series on the schedule.
Hell, sounds better than an Eastern/Central/Western trifecta. Count me in. Visit Kyle's place, read his impassioned letter to the AD, and fire one off your ownself. Bill Martin (or at least someone who reads his angry fan mail by proxy) can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or mailed for real here:
William C. Martin
Donald R. Shepherd Director of Intercollegiate Athletics
University of Michigan
1000 South State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2201
...and they called it the Blog Bowl.
(Also, Kyle's Gameday Drinking Game is not to be missed:
Rule No. 6: Lou Holtz. Anytime Lou Holtz mentions Notre Dame while discussing a game in which Notre Dame is not playing, everyone takes one drink. If he does it twice in the same segment, everyone takes two drinks, and so on until the end of the segment. If you try to speak and you find that you sound like Lou Holtz, stop drinking and have someone call you a cab.
Skiier likes beer! Also, puppies cute! Bode Miller said something along the lines of "I drink excessively and once was still smashed from the previous night while attempting to ski; that's why I am bad at the slalom." This caused outrage for some reason... probably because of the children. It's always because of the children. Bill Gifford says "duh, and shut up about it" at Slate.
Miller was forced to apologize for his statements. Meanwhile, Joe Theisman remains unshot and free to roam the streets. What is this country coming to?
Mustache equilibrium? I don't actually suggest reading Tom Kubat's latest masterpiece for the West Lafayette Journal-Courier (single-sentence paragraph count: an astounding 26 of 33... and the seven that have more than one period have two), but in it he asserts that Purdue defensive coordinator Brock Spack has "received an offer to take over in the same capacity at a higher profile Big Ten Conference program."
Now, there are three higher profile Big Ten programs than Purdue: Michigan, Ohio State, and Penn State. (Okay, perhaps Iowa and Wisconsin are also higher profile of late, but Norm Parker isn't going anywhere and Brett Bielema just hired someone else.) Both Ohio State and Penn State are coming off years wherein their bone-crushing defenses led them to BCS bowl victories. Michigan... isn't. If this article is accurate, the inescapable conclusion is that Michigan is the source of the offer.
Spack then announced that he's staying at Purdue. Despite that, it's interesting in three ways:
- it hammers another nail in Herrmann's coffin,
- it's an indication that Michigan is looking outside the "Michigan Man" etc, etc, for a job as high profile as defensive coordinator, and
- it indicates that English-to-DC may not be the slam dunk everyone says it is.
Caveat: this may be bunk.
What he said. Big Ten Wonk on Michigan's performance against Illinois and what it means as regards that ever-elusive "back" thing:
The test for Michigan, as for any team, is this: they will have arrived when we know in advance how they expect to win. Look at Wisconsin. We say things like: "Wisconsin, as expected, played tough D and took care of the ball." The Wolverines will be "back" when we can finish this sentence in a non-pejorative fashion: "Michigan, as expected, (blank)."
...turned the ball over 25 times: pejorative; next question.
Etc: Dhani Jones reviews "Glory Road" on Page 2; Dave Sez that Jerry Bruckheimer basically made a bunch of stuff up; The OZone has some year end awards featuring our very own Tyler Ecker and his inability to think straight at the end of games.