I GIVE UP ON HATING WISCONSIN
We have a future nemesis. This is going to be an edition of UV heavy on the backtracking, unfortunately, so we may as well get it out of the way right now. I've been dismissive of the idea that Michigan turned down Tory Jackson, but that was, uh, wrong:
The brashness didn't end there. He [Jackson] talked about:
Being snubbed by the University of Michigan: "I hope they regret their decision not to sign me."
Jackson got dissed; now Jackson is pissed. It says something when the South Bend Tribune has a massive story on a Notre Dame recruit that's headlined "Irish recruit could use serving of humble pie"(!) and filled with passages like so:
If Irish coach Mike Brey happens to have a muzzle laying around somewhere, he might want to have it fitted for Jackson....
Damn! The Free Press also has a snide article on Jackson's postgame outburst:
moments after his 24-point, nine-rebound performance led Buena Vista to a 57-52 win over Berrien Springs in the Class C state title game Saturday at the Breslin Center, Jackson was asked what it meant to finish his career a champion.
He must not have heard the question properly.
"The win today let all the Mr. Basketball voters know they were wrong," Jackson said. "They were wrong about me. They were against me. And now I'm on top, I have the last laugh, so I still feel like I'm Mr. Basketball. I feel like I'm the best in the state. Not to take anything away from the winner. I have respect for him, but I feel like I'm the best, and I showed it tonight."
(Emphasis mine.) Obviously Jackson's attitude made quite an impression on more than one media member. If -- and this seems like a moderately sized "if" -- Amaker picks up Patrick Beverly his decision to snub the mouthy, 5'9" Jackson looks like a good one.
Backtracking Part II: Right, in this space previously:
Meanwhile, on "Mondays With Myles" the critical subject of discussion: the dangers of rushing the court. Because that's the most pressing issue we've got right now. Yep. Nothing else to address. Save the childrens!
This week's Mondays with Miles:
On today's edition of Mondays With Myles, Dr. Brand and I discuss academic fraud and its effect on intercollegiate athletics.
We address the diploma mills that provide prospective student-athletes with meaningless degrees, how those students get past the NCAA Clearinghouse and the responsibility of institutions to admit individuals who are qualified to be there.
(BONUS Audiopalooza: EDSBS interviews Bruce Feldman, proprietor of the Feld-blog.)
Let the Jack Johnson Watch begin. The News & Observer probably had this ready to go moments after Michigan's season ended:
Jack Johnson's college season is over. The big question now is whether his college career is over.
Survey says "probably not"...
"I think the only way you're going to get me out of here is at gunpoint," Johnson told reporters after a win in the conference playoffs.
... but we've been here before.
Hey, baseball! BC&RS recently took in a Michigan baseball game and file a report heavy on the excellent pictures. Recommended for anyone inclined to find baseball players dreamy.
Etc.: The Georgia Sports Blog asks Buckeye Commentary about the 2006 Buckeyes; True Hoop says the author of the SI blog story "doesn't get it"; Sactown Royalty says Bill Simmons "doesn't get it"; Page 2's Patrick Hruby gets it with an excellent article cataloguing tired sports topics:
We're all guilty -- of pandering, of laziness, of covering the same old stories in the same reflexive ways, until we're no longer beating a dead horse, but rather throttling a bottle of glue produced from said dead horse. There's little new to say, few angles that haven't been strip-mined, no clichÃ© that can't be deployed, Delta Force-style, on a moment's notice.
What follows is a "tired sports story ban" that all members of the media are invited to read and sign. I'm on board. I will do my best as a member of the unwashed online masses (I don't even have a liberal arts degree):
Lo, it is done.
3/25/2006 - Michigan 1-5 North Dakota - EOYOIP
The hockey team did indeed go gentle into that good night. That was okay -- there wasn't much hope from the start and Michigan provided no reason for the fan to generate any once the puck dropped. A Chad Kolarik knuckleball that fluttered over Jordan Parise's shoulder had to pass for the rage, but since Michigan spent all of ten minutes in this game within two goals of the Sioux it was one of the meeker rages you'll see. Michigan hockey should be picking up a deed to the earth any time now.
No, no... rage here; light here. Didn't you guys take English in high school? Should I bust out the Gatsby?
Why was this okay? The overall effect of the North Dakota bombing was similar to the '03 Rose Bowl against USC. We knew we were dead meat going in and there was no point at which it looked like we could pull an upset. Warren St. John's law of fan pleasure ("the pleasure derived from a victory is inversely proportional to the expectation said victory would be acheived," to paraphrase) should have a corollary that states that psychic damage is minimized when you know you're going to lose to vastly superior competition and do. Then I could just say "Corollary I to the WSJ LOFP" instead of write all this and save everyone a signficant amount of time.
It would have been nice if the hockey team was half-competitive like Navarre & Co. They weren't. That's life. Resignation, frustration, and exasperation* all passed through my head, but it was mingled with relief. The 2005-06 trial by ordeal is over. Let's not dwell on it when we can overhype football players we've never seen. Onwards and upwards or something.
*(for comic hilarity, please read in the voice of Cajun Man)
So that's why no one cares about the NIT. Damn, that was some crazy stuff in the actual tournament, eh? Kind of puts that Dion Harris thing in perspective. That is, unless you're ESPN Classic and have decided to rebroadcast an NIT game as an "instant classic." That's right: you can see Michigan-ND at 5 PM today, immediately followed by a 1972 game of checkers featuring a guy who would later become the uncle of Corey Haim.
Anyway, during the Duke game I had a moment of epiphany as to why they bother me so: at some point in the midst of the Duke run in the second half they switched to a shot of the excited Duke faithful and I thought to myself: "fuckin' white people."
For a moment, I totally understood Huey P. Newton. Duke makes me want to punch myself, therefore I dislike Duke.
Also: more RBUAS NIT extravaganza, recruit Patrick Beverly is down to Michigan, Arkansas, and St. John's, and an apology from Maize 'n' Brew for turning yesterday's Cowherd comment thread into a minefield of copyright law is accepted.
Speaking of overwhelmingly white groups of people: hockey is tonight. I'm surprisingly nervous for someone who gave up on the season a month ago. The Sioux will be at full strength, as head coach Dave Hakstol has confirmed that leading scorer Drew Stafford will play. As you might expect, the Grand Forks Herald is all over the regional matchup. The Ann Arbor News also has some puff pastry on Jack Johnson.
TV clearances can be found here -- good news if you live in Alaska, Maine... and Memphis?
Some brave soul finally smuggled out Michigan's pro day results:
|Jason Avant||WR||Avant (6-0Â½, 209) twice ran the 40 in 4.80 seconds. He had a cast on his hand, which probably impeded his performance, and he will run again in the near future. He also ran the short shuttle in 4.19 and the three-cone drill in 7.02. In addition, he had a 35Â½-inch vertical jump and a 10-foot-4 broad jump.|
|Gabe Watson||DT||Watson (6-3Â½, 336) stood on mostly everything he did at the Combine. He had a 26Â½-inch vertical jump and an 8-foot-6 broad jump.|
|Tim Massaquoi||TE||Massaquoi (6-2Â½, 254) ran his 40s in 4.84 and 4.87 seconds. He also ran the short shuttle in 4.34 and the three-cone drill in 6.92. In addition, he had a 29-inch vertical jump and a 9-foot-2 broad jump.|
|Pierre Woods||DL||Woods (6-4 3/8, 249) ran his 40s in 4.78 and 4.73 seconds. He also ran the short shuttle in 4.19 and the three-cone drill in 6.87. In addition, he had a 32Â½-inch vertical jump, a 9-foot-11 broad jump and 15 lifts.|
|Adam Stanovich||OL||Stanovich (6-4 1/8, 309) ran his 40s in 5.61 and 5.62 seconds. He also ran the short shuttle in 4.82 and the three-cone drill in 7.91. In addition, he had a 24Â½-inch vertical jump and a 7-foot-9 broad jump.|
|Matt Lentz||OL||Lentz (6-5 7/8, 320) ran his 40s in 5.38 and 5.38 seconds. He also ran the short shuttle in 4.88 and the three-cone drill in 7.98. In addition, he had a 23-inch vertical jump, a 7-foot-8 broad jump and 36 lifts.|
|Pat Massey||DL||Massey (6-4 7/8, 290) ran his 40s in 5.09 and 5.11 seconds. He also ran the short shuttle in 4.60 and the three-cone drill in 7.40. In addition, he had a 25Â½-inch vertical jump, an 8-foot-7 broad jump and 25 lifts.|
Highlighted for your amazement are the heights of Massey and "Stanovich." The book on Michigan tackles has long been 6'6" at least, but Stenavich was extremely effective last year at just over 6'4" -- though that may equate to "listed at 6'6"." Food for thought as regards OL recruit Steve Schilling, who's supposed to be a bit short for tackle.
Also: isn't Massey supposed to be 6'8"? That has to be inaccurate -- I mean, are you going to believe a website that references Adam "Stanovich" or your own lying eyes?
So SI wrote this ginorbous set of articles on the web, blogs, etc, etc, etc, and how sports coverage is changing. (Apologies if this blog-MSM catfighting bores you, but it's a hot topic right now... and it's not like the OSU game is Saturday.) I haven't actually read the thing since I'm outside the velvet rope of SI Exclusive, but the author of the piece published a similarly ginorbous Simmons interview undertaken during the construction of the article. Ian will feel all tingly inside reading this:
BS: I think this is going to be it for me. I really want to move into scripts next. I'm ready to do it. I've been doing this since '97. At the spring of next year, my contract ends. That would be 10 years. I'm not saying I wouldn't come back. But I think 10 years is a nice run. Maybe keep my NFL column and that's it.
...but I think that once he's gone to the great Billy Zabka in the sky and we're all trying to decipher Scoop Jackson columns ("okay, okay... so carry the 'Crilla' and divide by this fawning one-sentence paragraph... take the square root... let's see... I get 'black people r kewl!!!' That's what I always get...") people will reconsider their enimity for the man. That's not to say that I didn't find certain bits of the interview grating -- Simmons goes on for a bit about how he doesn't understand the Internet rip brigades...
Also, I always wonder about those sites that really attack everybody. ... I definitely did a little of that on my own Web site, but I was still writing three columns a week, I was trying to back it up. I don't think you should criticize another writer unless you can back it up and be like, "I'm better." The proof is in the pudding. It's like being a bad chef and writing a restaurant review and criticizing another chef. But can you cook? I don't get it.
... and then five minutes later complains about not being able to rip on people:
BS: One of the worst things about my job is that there are so many people at ESPN I'd have so much fun making fun of. Berman, Stuart Scott, Stephen A. [Laughs]. This is when I start to get in trouble. As the alleged common sports fan, I'd like to go after them but I can't because we're all on the same team. I can't write about the WNBA because ESPN's covering it. I can't say Tim McCarver's an idiot, I have to dance around it. One time, I made fun of the Sklar brothers and they were furious. That's hilarious! And that's on the record. Oh, no, the Sklar brothers are angry! > The Sklar brothers being anything other than piteously grateful anyone acknowledges their existence is hilarious, but that line-drawing between bloggers who attack everyone and Simmons, who wants to attack essentially the same people, is specious reasoning from the mainstream side of Simmons' Janus-head. Mostly it seems like Simmons doesn't understand people who rip on him.
Anyway: Florida TV guy and blogger Whit Watson -- a brother Janus, if you will -- did read the full ginorbity and comes correct:
In my opinion - and it's ONLY my opinion - Sports Illustrated comes very, very close to calling the blogosphere "Hooterville."
"Hooterville" being the name that Boston public enemy #1 Dan Shaughnessy dubbed Orlando with during a '95 Celtics-Magic playoff series. The irony here is that given a major SI article on blogs, there was going to be a default "Hooterville?" section because all feature articles must follow this format:
Hot trendy thing! Trend trend thing! Trendy thing is hot like Paris Hilton! But adverse affects of trendy thing? Trendy thing cancer? Secondhand trendy thing?
Add in the "Dey took ur jobs" (audio... so, so worth it) effect going on and viola: article littered with ominous noises about irresponsibility, lack of decorum, and the like. The latter is especially grating given that the least decorous place in the universe is talk radio, which is not known for being run by maverick independents. But whatever.
Update 3/24: Added SC LB Scotty Cooper, who has an offer. Linked to SunshinePreps.com video on Darren Evans, Adrien Robinson, and Jerimy Finch. Removed SC CB Gary Gray (South Carolina). Linked to article on Darris Sawtelle and one on Greg Little.
Not credible enough to add to the board, but some UV2 on Saine from the Bucks indicates that they aren't confident at all and expect him to be a Wolverine soon. His BP thread also has similar pessimism.
Linked to a large roundup article on Fox Sports with information on WI RB John Clay (UW #1 right now, Texas would be with an offer, still interested in Michigan), CA CB Michael Williams (Michigan and ND are his leaders), MI DT Joseph Barksdale (nothing new), MI OL Darris Sawtelle (leaders are M, Tenn, USC -- probably decides early), NJ LB Manny Abreu (claiming an offer from M -- added to the board).
Editorial Opinion: There were a couple of other recruits mentioned in the Fox article who are on the board: Chris Forcier and Nick Sukay. Neither mention came with a reference to Michigan -- not particularly surprising with Forcier since Michigan focused on Ryan Mallet, but possibly an indication the level of mutual interest with Sukay is low. He may end up dropping off the board sooner rather than later. That won't be a tragedy if DB recruiting goes like it looks like it will. (No whammies.)
Though Clay was forthright about UW and Texas being ahead right now, his quote on Michigan was also positive:
"I like Michigan too," he said. "They are really close to my home. I like the fact that they like to run and are not afraid to start freshmen. So far, I really haven't talked to them that much yet though, but I plan on taking an unofficial (visit) there this summer."
Clay is short on offers for a player with the talent he's reputed to have -- Lemming (caution: Lemming reference) said he was the top back in the country or something. He won't make a decision until around signing day, so there's a long way to go.
A possible Saine commitment would probably dent our chances with Clay but would be totally worth it. The Saine video is remarkable -- the guy is crazy fast. He recently won the 60 meter event at a national meet. Saine's said he's been a Michigan fan since birth; he has an offer now. Hopefully that'll stick.
As you might know if you've been following these updates, Sawtelle's grandfather was an All-American at Tennessee, so he's widely expected to follow in his footsteps. However, he makes some noises in that article that make it seem like it's not a slam dunk:
"My grandfather obviously wants me to go to Tennessee but he doesn't push it on me." Sawtelle explained. "The only school my grandfather has forbid me from looking at is Alabama. He doesn't like them a whole lot.
"The perfect school for my parents would be a school that was across the street from my house. I don't think my parents want me to go to far from home but if I ended up at a USC, they would still support my decision."
Still seems unlikely, but stranger things have happened.
We got a mention in the latest Little article, but he still seems farfetched.
Holy crap. On occasion sportsbloggers will level tenuously-supported accusations of plagarism at members of the MSM. Usually these amount to hot air. Sure, it might be suspicious that some dude came up with the same article idea you had a week after you posted yours, but there's no proof. And if it's a list, well... lists are lists. They're going to be ubiquitous, largely identical, and contain the same basic information about the selections. That's why lists are the ultimate weapon for lazy sportswriters.
The end result is a lot of indignation over nothing, a blogospheric speciality. However, once ESPN radio hosts start reading your material word for word on-air... um... yeah, that's proof. This happened to The M Zone: Colin Cowherd read most of an extensive post on-air and attributed it to (wait for it... wait for it...) "The Internet." This causes EDSBS to query:
Did Cowherd Steal MZone Material?
...which isn't even a question in this case. It's verbatim; there's audio on the site; case closed. This isn't the first time this has happened, either, if you believe Free Darko and their fatwa against the latest Simmons intern. The question is: why does ESPN have to be such a douche about it? One simple sentence from Cowherd ("I found this at The MZone, which is located at michiganzone.blogspot.com") would have caused purring instead of a further run at Ann Arbor Torch & Pitchfork, Inc. The consequences for ESPN? Probably not catastrophic.
The word "intern" probably holds the key to this entire situation. Cowherd takes words fed to him from his handlers, packages it up in annoying dumbjockinese, and speaks into a microphone. He was handed a sheet of paper of uncertain provenance and read from it. Some communications major from Kansas State hopped on the interwebs, found something, and dutifully fetched it. This happens elsewhere too: check this word-for-word ripoff of the entire thing on a (gasp) blog. Source cited:
(Originally posted on: THE BOARD...if you don't know, you better ask somebody)
The point? The error here -- from both Cowherd and the disreputable blog -- is one of omission, not comission. Someone at Cowherd's show found the material in his email or some message board. They didn't lift and steal intentionally. However, the Worldwide Leader has the resources to, I dunno, cut and paste a key phrase into Google to see if there's someone who should be credited... but why? We're just "the Internet" to them.
Weis joke? Fulmer joke? I can't decide
Should I go with the Fremen (blogs) - House Harkonnen (MSM) comparison here? No? Geekiness at a credibility-shattering level? Possible grounds for sterilization? Okay. I'll skip it. But I will reiterate my belief that one day the Shield Wall will be breached and the hordes of desert savages will replace the kind of sportswriting deader than the trees it comes on with something, I dunno, readable and edifying. And people who actually like sports will write about it and Colin Cowherd will get the Jennifer Connelly treatment. And in between there will be kickass ninja fights and Sting.
Update: Cowherd's response:
WE WERE SENT IT....WE HAD NO IDEA..BUT THE INCESSANT WHINING...MEANS I WON'T GIVE YOU CREDIT NOW..GET OVER IT
So... check on the theory. Also proof that Cowherd, not me, is the one who needs sterilization right quick. OMG ALL CAPS LOL.
Update II: It took all of an hour for the proprietor of the blog cited above to say this:
I had no idea this was originally posted here. A freind of mine sent it to me; I just assumed he had typed it. Rest assured I will be posting an apology later in the day. Once again; I am sorry. I know it comes across as bush league, but I really didn't know.
You are invited to compare and contrast.
...everything looks like a hammer, to invert a common aphorism. Tomorrow Michigan meets a hammer in Grand Forks; the day after they may or may not meet a second. This disorienting year has come to its final act, and it has all the horrific confusion and desperation of Requiem for a Dream: is Jennifer Connelly really rocking a double-headed dildo for coke? Is Michigan hockey really going into a first-round NCAA game hoping for a miracle?
Yes. Yes. The ultimate accomplishment of Requiem -- other than making me fear those who voluntarily purchase the DVD -- was to divorce the noun "Jennifer Connelly" and verb phrase "rocking a double headed dildo" from the exclamation "I'm there with bells on!" And so it is with the
Season Year of Infinite Pain, the noun "Michigan hockey," and verb phrase "playing North Dakota in the NCAA tournament."
For the first time in memory, everyone from Red Berenson on down seems resigned to the fact that Michigan doesn't really have a chance. Sure, they could beat North Dakota. Hockey's a weird game sometimes. But beating North Dakota and Minnesota back-to-back is too tall a task for a team that can't go a weekend against Ferris State without blowing three points or crack 20 shots on goal against a resurgently repulsive Michigan State team of Masonic vintage.
Yes, this is the point at which I am contractually obligated to remind you that the last time Michigan entered the NCAA tournament as unthreateningly as this the year was 1998 and their second championship in three years was three weeks in the future. As Brendan Morrison accurately said in '97, sometimes the best team doesn't win. But the team with shaky goaltending, middling forwards, and spastic defensemen is not the presumptive favorite in their place.
Despite that, we're playing. Thus, a preview of the West regional, Wonk 360 style. Even if he's not saying anything about the NIT... though he is getting badgered about it(!). (Cough cough: keep it up (mailto)) :
Pretournament book: Oh, yaaaah, der real good, donchaknow? Boy howdy.
Stars: Ugh. The top pick in this year's NHL draft is going to be either Minnesota's Phil Kessel, North Dakota's Jonathan Toews, or Minnesota recruit Erik Johnson. Kessel -- regarded by many to be the best American hockey prospect since Mike Modano -- has 50 points in 38 games this year... and Ryan Potulny outscored him by thirteen points.
Strengths: The country's top offense by a country mile. Though they're second in goals per game with 4.15, the top team -- Mercyhurst -- plays in the college hockey equivalent of the MAC. Michigan is the closest major conference team to the Gophers and they're a full half-goal back. The Gophers have the nation's top powerplay, best record, largest scoring margin, and smuggest, most punchable fans -- unfortunately, for good reason.
Weaknesses: Minnesota's scoring has been more concentrated than is usual. An excellent checking line that can neutralize the Potulny-Kessel combo would make Minnesota awfully uncomfortable. The crowd will be out for blood, too. If Yost could turn CC-Wayne State into a game... naw.
Probable Fate: Is there a God? Well... yes, but this year has proven he doesn't like me. So national champions.
#4 Holy Cross
Pretournament book: Atlantic Hockey's sacrificial lamb this year. They may put a scare into Minnesota, but this is Duke-Southern territory.
Stars: Haggis-loving Tyler McGregor is the nation's seventh-leading scorer.
Strengths: Given Bill Simmons' grating insistence on belittling college sports and hockey at every available opportunity, if he decides to show up at his alma mater's opening round game he'll probably enrage those around him to the point where a giant, game-cancelling brawl breaks out, spawning a Deadspin poll:
Who Would Win In A Fight?
A. Bill Simmons
B. The State of Minnesota
I'm going with A on the assumption that Sprewell has left the building.
Weaknesses: Likely to be shell-shocked by the talent on display. There's no one in Atlantic Hockey comparable to... well, half the Gopher roster.
Probable Fate: A dismissive mention in a Simmons mailbag.
#2 North Dakota
Pretournament book: The Sioux... er... Anonymous, Inoffensive Indigenous Peoples are one of the hottest teams in the country. They've won the WCHA tournament and find themselves playing at their home rink in front of what promises to be a rabid, Yost-ian crowd of partisans out for blood after the infamous 1998 North Dakota-Michigan game.
Stars: Multitudinous. As mentioned, Toews is a candidate for the #1 pick in the draft, and he's the team's fourth leading scorer. Travis Zajac, TJ Oshie, and Drew Stafford are all outstanding players and first-rounders themselves. The defense is young but immensely talented. Junior goaltender Jordan Parise has a .932 save percentage... and a 2.12 goals against average.
Strengths: Playing at home, which is three times the size of Yost and made entirely out of gold the Nazis stole during the war or something. Almost as much talent as Minnesota, playing better than them recently, and with a much better goalie. The best defensive team in this regional by a solid margin -- eighth in the country.
Weaknesses: Much like Michigan, North Dakota is a young team. Freshmen occupy large swathes of the top two lines and defense pairings. Stafford, who missed the last couple of weeks for the Sioux, is still listed as day-to-day. He'll play but may not be effective -- not that Stafford's absence prevented North Dakota from winning the WCHA tournament. Only 1-3 against Minnesota this year. Late-season run may be a mirage: three games against Mankato, two against Tech, one against SCSU. Only a win over Wisconsin stands out.
Probable Fate: Will play pretty even against the Gophers, but people make too much of the last few games of a season. Minnesota was 20-5-3 in the WCHA. North Dakota was 16-12. The Gophers are the superior team and should win the regional despite the partisan atmosphere.
Pretournament book: Talented but erratic, Michigan is young... and fairly stupid. There's no dominant player outside of defenseman Jack Johnson, who's prone to poor decisions and unnecessary penalties.
Stars: Lacking. The aforementioned Johnson was the third pick in last year's draft. TJ Hensick is a slick, diminutive center in the mold of Cammalleri and C0mrie before him but his game has not progressed this season -- stripped of now-Islander Jeff Tambellini, Hensick has taken the scoring burden on himself and not been as effective. Seniors Andrew Ebbett and Brandon Kaleniecki have been the most consistent Wolverines, but neither is the kind of player you have to gameplan against.
Strengths: Well... there is talent. Hensick, Cogliano, Kolarik, and Porter can all burn you given time and space. Jack Johnson really is that good when he's not trying to axe your head off.
Weaknesses: If you can forecheck you will be rewarded with copious turnovers. The goaltending has been good for a soft one a game. They don't have the cohesion to crack a well-constructed trap. They take dumb penalties. The defense is alarmingly porous at inopportune times -- even (and perhaps especially) the putati
ve top pairing of Hunwick and Johnson. They're only playing five D.
Did I leave anything out?
Probable Fate: Ignominous defeat followed by many, many reassurances that everyone is returning. Two weeks before the season starts, the LA Kings are abducted by Hamas on an NHL publicity trip. Sean Avery gets everyone killed by saying something about camel jockeys. The entire Michigan team is signed to replace them.