chance of bowl: 13.6%
You've Got To Be Kidding
Rocket Ismail (Did this guy legally change his name or something?)
The average age of the voters who aren't ex-players I wouldn't trust to add two and two together appears to be 145. mgoblog's projected top five:
- Notre Dame
- Colonial Williamsburg
- Jamestown University
- Tippecanoe and Tyler too!
Watch out for the Williamsburgians. Only half of them died from smallpox last winter.
Hell full of frozen flying pigs: Lloyd Carr opened up practice to the media on Friday, sending local media into a tizzy. The stated reason:
"I want to be popular with all of you," Carr joked Friday.
Good luck with that, Lloyd. Information coming out of the Fort indicates that Brandent Engelmon does appear to be the guy who will start the year at SS. Smart and in the right place at the right time is the rep on Engelmon, music so beautiful to my ears that I wonder if I've died and gone to heaven (quick check: Tressel around? Yep. Okay. Not heaven). Adrian Arrington is the surprising name being thrown out as the #3 wide receiver, though in retrospect he was the guy chosen to not redshirt. Fullback sounds like a bit of a mess. Hopefully Malone will look at the copious non-fullback talent on the roster and decide that lead-blocking is for sissies.
Fifth-year senior Leo Henige appears to have the upper hand at LG. If healthy.
IBFC unverified some voracity of its own in a roundup post that covers a lot of ground that I won't duplicate here. More warranted Matt Hayes bashing can be found. Also a defense of CFN, which I would like to respond to:
But I just love that they believe there is no team, no player and no position that is so irrelevant it isn't worth writing a full-page article about it. Looking for info on the Memphis offensive line? Here you go. How is the North Texas linebacking corps shaping up? Keep an eye on Maurice Holman.
Because this is exactly the kind of thing I hate about CFN. They cover all 100-whatever teams, sure, but the depth of said coverage is strictly kiddie-pool. I try to be a Marinas Trench of Michigan information, an authority in a specialized field. Given what I read at CFN I have my doubts that they know anything not directly listed in a press release. They write one blurb on every starter in the country and then recycle it a hundred different times in various incredibly retarded lists of top this and top that. In the previews I saw not one unit was ranked anything less than a 6 of 10. Literally every unit in the nation is above average. They rank and discuss everything and thus condemn themselves to never really talking about anything.
We're number #4 (again) in the AP Top 25, which has a total of five Boi From Troy-infuriating non-USC first place votes, four for Texas and one for... Louisville? Sweet mother of mercy. And get the rationale behind that first place vote:
Joe Giglio of The News & Observer of Raleigh, N.C., voted Louisville No. 1 after examining the schedules for all BCS conference teams. The Cardinals moved to the Big East this season.
"Â“Louisville was the only one that I came up with as going undefeated,"Â” he said.
I was going to thoroughly smite this person's logic, but Section Six beat me to it... and, quite frankly (HATE YOU HATE YOU HATE YOU), we've got a couple guys in the blogpoll voting Auburn #2 because they "deserve it," so we should attend to our own house before throwing rocks into those of others, no matter how brittle their glass walls. Though I will hurl a couple of well placed ones at ESPN for posting a poll minus two teams but in full possession of not one but two "TEXAS AM"s, as Struggling Joe pointed out.
Speaking of dumb Louisville-related stuff, the Courier-Journal of said city has, uh, let's say jumped the gun:
Bigger than Michigan now?
[Former UM lineman Doug] James wanted no part of Louisville. He signed with Michigan. You could play in Rose Bowls and play for national titles at Michigan. Today you don't have to make many calls to find experts predicting U of L will have a better season than Michigan.
Cute. Call us in, like, 120 years. (And did this guy not check the recruiting out of his own state last year? Top three guys will all don winged helmets this fall.)
What is with Penn State and really, really weird ways to get suspended? First you had the whole EZ Smith shooting hundreds of arrows into a wall thing. Now comes word that three Lions, most prominently sophomore linebacker Dan Connor, are suspended for making prank phone calls to a retired PSU assistant coach. Fanblogs has all the details. Connor's suspension is "indefinite" which is usually code for "until we play someone we can lose to." Since it's Penn State we're talking about here, look for Connor to go against South Florida. (Sorry, 50YL, cheap shot.)
Fanblogs also has a hard hitting expose on Purdue's recent practice popsicle break.
Several players said the day [new OK State Coach] Gundy replaced Les Miles as head coach he established guidelines that players attend class, be on time for team meetings, adhere to workout routines, represent the program well and play hard."
Example #3,890 of "Blogs Will Change The World" can be found over at Blog Maverick, which is Mavs owner Mark Cuban's pale mgoblog imitation (just kidding, Mark, please don't put a hit out on me). He's wrapped up in some boring business thing and was interviewed over email about it. The resulting New York Times headline:
Mark Cuban Is Mad (Again). But Why?
The article portrays Cuban as really, really mad. Cuban responds by reprinting the entire email exchange he had with this NYT guy on Blog Maverick. The verdict? Busted. Totally. Here's a representative sample of Cuban's responses:
1) Clearly the sale price of register.com was lower than you and many other investors - some who may have followed your lead into the stock - believed the company would be sold for. Why did you expect it to be sold for so much more?
Its worth much more. A simple analysis to compare it to comparable companies show the expenses clearly out of whack.
2) Are you surprised the Yahoos and Googles of the world never bid?
Not at all. Its not their business. Register.com has a legacy business to build on and cash flow to return to investors if it gets its expenses in line. Thats not the type of business they go after.
3) If you think it's such an undervalued business, why didn't you make
a bid yourself?
Im not in a position to run the company. My
goal was to work with the new board that would have been voted in during the next shareholder meeting in a couple weeks to help the company
4) Do you think the auction was somehow rigged?
Rigged ? I dont know if it was rigged, but i think the board definitely incented themselves to sell the company. There is so little board and management ownership( the only board member with substantial ownership filed a proxy leaning against the deal ) that their greatest reward came from change of control bonuses they gave themselves. Plus I think much of the board just wants out.
Thats not conducive for doing whats best for the company.
And here's the intro to the article:
MARK CUBAN, the entrepreneur and owner of the Dallas Mavericks basketball team, has a reputation for screaming like a deranged fan from the sidelines during games. He has been fined more than $1 million by the National Basketball Association for his antics since he bought the team five years ago.
Now, Mr. Cuban, who became a billionaire by selling Broadcasting.com to Yahoo in 1999, has focused his infamous bark on a corporate boardroom. The target of his anger is the board of a small Internet company called Register.com, which sells domain names (for example, yourcompany.com) to people and small businesses. He may deserve the Wall Street equivalent of a technical foul for his latest outburst.
SWEET FANCY MOSES! I was literally LOL at that. OMG. O. M. G.
The moral: keep your magic spinny device at home when you're dealing with a public figure with his own media platform.
And, finally... There's a new Soonerfark Internet hero. Check him out with the Ambiguously Gay Ohio State Linebacking Corps:
This is, for all intents and purposes, TJ Hensick's senior year. He will not be back in 2006 unless he sustains a severe injury. And while I could have said this about any Michigan scoring machine at any time in the past, oh, six or seven years and been mind-meltingly correct, the new CBA virtually guarantees that no player with a potential NHL future ever sees a senior year of college hockey. The Boston Globe explains:
The collective bargaining agreement mandates that college players, if unsigned by Aug. 15 of their graduation year, are rendered unrestricted free agents. With that kind of leverage looming out there, NHL clubs, rather than getting backed into a negotiating corner with 22- and 23-year-olds, will be far more motivated to turn kids pro a year or two ahead of that strike date.
Pro teams will do everything they can to avoid losing their draft picks to free agency. They will try to sign players immediately. Players have powerful incentives to sign, too: the NHL-mandated rookie cap expires three years after a player signs, and the free agency clock starts ticking soon after that player arrives in the NHL. Previously it was largely based on age. That's how Jeff Tambellini went from 100% staying to 100% gone over the course of two weeks--there really were powerful economic forces pushing him out the door.
I expect a lot more Andy Hilberts in the future. Remember when Boston had Hilbert "pencilled in" their opening day lineup four years ago? Well, pencils have orange rubbery things on them:
Four years into his tenure with the Bruins (most of it in Providence), Andy Hilbert has asked for a trade. ''He's asked to be moved," confirmed Boston GM Mike O'Connell, ''and I've told him we'll do our best to accommodate him." Hilbert had 79 points in 79 games with the Baby B's last season, and has played only 43 games with the varsity since leaving Michigan early for his shot at the show.
Would Hilbert's career have been any less spectacular had he stayed another season or two at Michigan? Probably not. It would be hard to do less in the NHL than Andy Hilbert. But he wanted to go and Boston wanted him to come, and there you have it. Four years in Providence, Rhode Island, getting paid a fraction of his contract (they're two-way, dontcha know) to play in the AHL. That's where I suggest getting season tickets if you want to see Michigan seniors in action: the AHL.
Bonus depression note! Junior forward Mike Brown is probably gone. Mysterious USCHO poster "woogie," who correctly forecast the unexpected departure of Dwight Helminen, has resurfaced and claimed that Vancouver has signed Brown. Given the track record of both Woogie and rumors of Michigan hockey departures in general, I figure that there's a 99% chance Brown is the new Hilbert.
Impact? Let's just say I won't be mailing Jeff Tambellini's dad more than one or two dead cats. Brown was a penalty magnet last year in the new no-obstruction (and sometimes no-check) NCAA, and the same people who always say dumb things about muckers like Brown and how the NCAA game is "not suited" to their skills are saying them again. Given that Michigan has an abundance of similar forwards coming in, his loss isn't extensively painful. The third line probably got marginally worse.
The Brown signing does presage really nasty things in the future. Brown is a mid-level prospect coming off a terrible year. The reaction? Sign that kid up! Great. Can we get those Jenks and Czarnik kids on campus, like, now?
Michigan article etc: Pitts on Max Martin. Michigan is QB U. No doubt about it. The djl Zone talks some Northern Illinois in the course of previewing the MAC. I don't expect the Huskies to seriously challenge Michigan--their power running attack is basically the exact wrong offense to run against Jim Herrmann--but they aren't going to roll over and die like Notre Dame or Eastern Michigan.
Thank God we have a 12th game so that we can squeeze that third MAC team on the schedule. CSTV has an article that slams major colleges for playing way too many games against teams without a chance that I agree wholeheartedly with. I'm completely depressed by the mad dash for cash being undertaken by athletic departments across the country. Part of that is undoubtedly due to Title IX mandating a vast array of nonrevenue women's sports that the football programs of successful schools inevitably end up supporting. But a far greater drive for revenue is created by a frankly repellent tendency to skirt the letter of the NCAA law by building lavish palaces reserved largely for athletes that further obliterate the quainter-by-the-second "student" part of "student-athlete." (Though ND, UGA, Texas, and Oregon are cited by the links above, there's no school in the country with big-time aspirations that is not guilty of the same thing, including Michigan.) At what point to you step back and say this is excessive? About ten years ago would have been good.
I'd love for the NCAA to step in with a hammer, mandate six home games maximum, outlaw megadorms and athlete-exclusive palaces, and generally take an evil socialist approach to the whole thing. But they have neither the jurisdiction nor the inclination to do any such thing, so I get to spend hundreds of dollars a year on tickets for games against various directional Michigan schools and the kids playing the game seem less like students and more like loosely affiliated mercenaries every day. Yay.
Warren St. John pointed out an article from across the Atlantic on that other sort of football that's blunt in its assessment: "Football fans are idiots." That's hard to dispute when this fall I will be looking at an $80 ticket that says "Eastern Michigan" on it.
Big Ten turmoil continues at Michigan State and Iowa. MSU redshirt freshman RB Tony Howard has been granted his release and will transfer. Impact is near nil. With Jason Teague and Jehuu Caulcrick 1-2 on the depth chart and incoming freshmen AJ Jimmerson and Javon Ringer expected to contribute, Howard was probably no better than fifth on the depth chart.
The 22-year-old was convicted of hitting a man on the side of the head, knocking him unconscious, and breaking his jaw. The victim, Maurice Payne, is a City High School graduate and current Iowa State University student.
As a result it's likely he will be suspended for part of the year. How much is up to the University and Kirk Ferentz.
Faithful Rivals posters dug up a little bit on the Children's Hockey Crusade that signed up yesterday. As expected, they're amongst the top players their age.
CNNSI's John Walters outed himself as a Domer in his latest Campus Blitz. He also makes an impressive leap from "David Givens caught five passes in a Super Bowl" to "Weis E. Coyote is 31337." Not to be missed is this textbook example of setting yourself up for massive disappointment:
Last year Notre Dame scored as many points as its opposition over the course of the season, 289. Although they were only 81st nationally in total offense and 72nd in scoring offense, anyone who watched the first 20 minutes of the Southern California game witnessed what this offense can do when it's in sync.
Uh... 20 minutes of a game you lost by 31 or an entire season? Which of these things is more indicative of reality... hmmm.
I, of course, plan on doing this exact same thing when discussing the Michigan defense.
Elsewhere in the MSM, the Sporting News preview with the incendiary quote about Michigan from an opposing coach has finally been posted on the Interwebs. FTR, the quote:
Michigan doesn't show up every week. I think they're pompous, over-recruited, arrogant-type kids. Who has better players: Michigan or Ohio State? Michigan. The Michigan kid has more talent, but the Ohio State kid plays harder. ...
Everyone assumes that this was Tiller or JLS, but I note that the article makes no mention of "head" coach. It's probably some assistant somewhere. More notable is how dumb Matt Hayes comes off, regurgitating every piece of conventional wisdom he can get his hands on:
Ron Zook, meet the physical and punishing Big Ten. Now ditch that sissy offense, and recruit some tough linebackers at Illinois. ...
Why can't Purdue win close games? It's not a mental hurdle or bad breaks that have caused the Boilers to lose 14 games by a touchdown or less over the past three years. It's the lack of a consistent running game. You close out games by jamming the ball down a defense's throat -- not with a five-wide offense. ...
And then topping himself with total incoherence:
How hard will Glen Mason kick himself when Minnesota RB Laurence Maroney runs for 2,000 yards this season? Maroney was misused for two straight seasons -- having to share time with Marion Barber -- and still reached 1,000 yards each year. ...
Uh... yes, let's rip on one of the country's best rushing attacks for not rushing well enough and then imply that Glen Mason's going to be pissed if Maroney cracks 2,000 yards this year all whilst pretending that Minnesota's struggles have anything to do with letting a very effective Marion Barber III carry the ball and keep both backs fresh. Hayes deserves every mouthbreathing email he receives and responds to condescendingly.
I approach all news about ESPN with the same attitude Joey has towards Michigan football: "I am a puppy about to get kicked." Even so, I don't think the fact that AC Slater's new "ESPN Hollywood" show gathered 0.08% of the viewing public can possibly be construed as bad news. EDSBS is on the case. This thing will probably last as long as "The Magic Hour." Yet another failure in the cap of one Mark Shapiro, the dude in charge of ruining ESPN.
10 bucks to anyone who gives
this guy a wedgie.
Rhetorical question: How many disasters does this guy have to greenlight before he's put out of his misery? Did anyone other than Warren St. John watch The Junction Boys? How about 3? (Daddy, I just wanna race!) Tilt: one season and gone. Playmakers: one season and gone. I'd Do Anything: are you serious? The final nail in Shapiro's coffin: petulant boy billionare Dan Synder, the man with the worst personnel judgement in the universe, has hired him, which is clear evidence of his complete insuitability for anything other than F-16 target practice. (Side note: Thanks Dan Snyder! You may be driving the Redskins directly into the ground, but you sucked Shapiro away from ESPN and are indirectly responsible for putting Spurrier at South Carolina. KUTGW.)
Perhaps sensing the growing discontent with ESPN, Comcast appears to be preparing to position OLN, home of the Tour De France, as a direct competitor to the Worldwide Leader in Suck. They scooped up the NHL (Off Wing Opinion has all you need on that) and may be preparing to bid for a new Thursday/Saturday night NFL package.
Hallelujah, especially if Brit TDF announcers Paul Sherwin and Phil Liggett are the canonical idea of a broadcast team to the OLN honchos. Even designated clown Bob Roll appears more knowledgeable and articulate in his field than any ESPN talking head outside of the Edge NFL Matchup set. Hopefully OLN will understand that even a hardcore sports fan such as myself can be wooed. There are games I have to watch--Michigan football, Pistons and Oilers playoff games--games I want to watch--any college football, regular season Pistons and Oilers, Michigan basketball--and games I can be convinced to watch if they somehow involve Gary Thorne, Marv Albert, and Steve Kerr--most things. I don't watch anything on ESPN except things I have to watch (and as much college football as I can cram into my head), because ESPN acts as an active detriment to the game at hand. Given the choice between an ESPN Pistons broadcast and George Blaha or Fred McCloud, I go with the local guy every time, even though every time Blaha says "2 and 25 left in the quarter" I cringe. Essentially the only reason I like the Tour De France is because it's presented spectacularly.
OLN: I don't watch random hockey games unless it's Hockey Night In Canada. But I'll start if you do it right. There's an opportunity to make some fiercely loyal viewers. Don't choose the screamy dark side. This I do humbly beseech thou.
Your traditional "unresolved questions" column from an untraditional source:
Will the safeties play safe? The answer here is historically "no." Last year was an especially egregious year for the Michigan safeties. Ernest Shazor's rapid descent after the Purdue game has been hashed and rehashed here and elsewhere repeatedly, but Ryan Mundy also bears his share of blame for the problems. Mundy and Shazor (in occasional conspiracy with the linebackers) were largely responsible for the inordinate number of long plays the defense gave up last year. Shazor's now taken his million-dollar-body and ten-cent-head to the NFL. Mundy returns. Brandent Engelmon and Jamar Adams are competing for the vacant spot.
Michigan safety play has been horrendous since Marcus Ray got hammered for dealing with an agent. A parade of tackle-missing, angle-blowing, play-action-biting, mgoblog-anger-generating straight-up-lowdown hardcore wack injured guys playing out of position have been the personal bane of my existence for going on eight years now. Ron English has shown no indication that he's interested in changing this. Ryan Mundy probably played corner as a freshman for a reason. The guy opposite him is unknown at this late point in the preseason. I expect nothing but disaster. all I want are guys who I don't notice at all, guys who play deep zones effectively, tackle opponents who get into the secondary, and never, ever make a big play. Is that too much to ask?
Relative Confidence Level: Yes, it's too much to ask. DOA.
Who's the left guard? Or "who's the center," but probably left guard. Three of the five offensive line positions are set: LT Adam Stenavich, RG Matt Lentz, and RT Jake Long. Ruben Riley will start at either center or left guard. The other starter will come from this pool of players:
- Fifth year senior Leo Henige, Jr. Henige has started on and off for a couple years now during the brief stretches of time that his knees allow him to. He was slightly injured late in the summer and had minor surgery.
- Redshirt sophomore Adam Kraus. A converted tight end, Kraus would probably have locked the job up already if he had been healthy during spring practice. Unfortunately, that wasn't possible. Worth noting: if it's Kraus, Riley will probably remain at left guard and Kraus will step in at center.
- Redshirt freshman Alex Mitchell. Mitchell is definitely the most advanced of the redshirt freshman and is probably in line for a starting job next year when Matt Lentz graduates.
It may take a few games to work the kinks out here, but with three strong candidates someone should step into the void vacated by David Baas. My bet is that it's Kraus, who has a year over Mitchell and is not a walking time bomb like Henige. Better to get Kraus significant experience going into the Big Ten season than stick a possibly-still-wounded Henige in there only to see him go down, thrusting a green player into a potentially tough situation. Be like Red: go with youth.
Relative Confidence Level: Very high.
Do we have any linebackers at all? If you had turned to a knowledgable Michigan fan during last year's season opener and asked him to name the 2005 starting linebacker corps he would have said "Lawrence Reid, Scott McClintock, and Pierre Woods" and been wrong, wrong, and wrong. Reid was forced to retire because of an injury. McClintock got beat out. Woods took the express train to Lloyd Carr's doghouse. The starters appear to be Chris Graham, David Harris, and Prescott Burgess.
The situation should improve. Last year was the low ebb of Michigan linebacker play in living memory; things can't be that bad again. Defensive ends were playing out of position. Actual linebackers were confused/out of their gourd/playing hurt. Dissent reigned. Burgess (but just Burgess) was very good in the Rose Bowl and Graham has been generating buzz for a solid year now. Woods may bounce back. On the other hand, that same guy who was coaching the disaster last year is still coaching them this year. He seems hell-bent on playing both the 3-4 and the 4-3, running people on and off the field uselessly, and generally confusing the hell out of his own players.
Relative Confidence Level: Surprisingly moderate.
Can the defensive line dominate? If it does, the pressure on the back seven will be greatly relieved. Three starters return: Watson, Massey, and Woodley. Woodley should see much more time at his more natural defensive end spot and has the power and speed to become a double-digit sacker under the tutelage of new defensive line coach Steve Stripling. Stripling, in marked contrast to former coach Mike Sheridan, has extensive experience coaching defensive lines and is regarded highly by all who know him. Though he couldn't do much with a severely hampered MSU line last year, in 2003 he coached a moderately talented line very well and helped the Spartans exceed expectations significantly.
The key to the line will be getting more production from the guys who aren't Watson and Woodley. Watson, being a Ticonderoga-class defensive tackle (HT: TMQ), can only be effective for so many plays a game. Backup DTs Alan Branch and Will Johnson will see playing time early and often. Both are the sort of jumbo athletes who move too fast than anyone their size has a right to, Branch in particular. If they can effectively spell Watson and Massey for stretches at a time, there will be some pissed off interior linemen being eaten in fourth quarters all season long. Someone will have to function as an effective pass rusher opposite Woodley. There are a lot of options here: natural DEs Jeremy Van Alstyne and Tim Jamison plus DE/OLB hybrids Pierre Woods and Shawn Crable. Van Alstyne will probably start the season as the all-purpose DE but Jamison, Woods, and Crable will all get cracks at the quarterback in passing situations.
There is much depth. The players on the line should improve naturally by aging and were already quite good a year ago. If Stripling has a noticeable effect on the line, well, the sky is the limit and all that jazz.
Relative Confidence Level: High, but not amazingly so. Michigan's never been a team for explosive pass rush. Fighting a lot of history.
Is Chad Henne the new Tom Brady? Chad Henne must improve. Last year bad reads, occasional wild throws, and a problem putting proper touch on short balls prevented him from being an efficient, consistent quarterback. The Braylon Edwards long ball was a major feature of the UM passing game that will not return in 2005. Henne will be blessed with an abundance of targets, but with YAC specialist Steve Breaston, possesion receiver par excellence Jason Avant, two capable tight ends, and Michigan's historic reliance on the screen and flare, it will be on Henne's shoulders to lead an effective short passing game by making quick, accurate reads and placing balls where they can be caught without breaking stride. Sort of like that Brady dude in New England.
It's a lot for a true sophomore to absorb. But let's review: statistically most proficient freshman quarterback in Big Ten history. Only freshman quarterback to ever start Rose Bowl. In said game threw four touchdowns and no interceptions. A freshman year almost identical to the year fifth year senior John Navarre had in 2003 throwing to essentially the same set of receivers. And about that Navarre guy: He was bad as a sophomore. Frighteningly bad. Single-handedly-lose-the-OSU-game bad. A year later he was the whole Michigan offense against Ohio State. In the Shoe, against a 12-0 team with a great defense, Michigan's offense went:
- First down run, one yard gain.
- Second down run, no gain.
- Laser accurate pass from Navarre, f
The point? Scot Loeffler is even more of a supergenius than Charlie Weis. Navarre went from a no-hoper to an All Big Ten quarterback. Loeffler got everything he could out of him. This is why Henne will be better:
- a year of experience
- knowledge of the whole playbook
- a whole slew of additional bowl practices and spring practices
- Scot Loeffler
- the return (or addition) of all this: Breaston, Breaston's explosiveness, Avant, Massaquoi, Ecker, Hart, Grady, Martin, Manningham, Dutch
this is why he'll be worse:
- no Braylon
Y'all can think what you want. I know what I think.
Relative Confidence Level: I see your Ron Powlus and raise you six Heismans.