Site note: A UMHoops/MGoBlog joint CIL is tentatively on for tonight's Illinois game. Tip is at 8:30, game is on BTN, CIL gets going about 15-30 minutes before.
Correction: Dennis Franklin wore #9, not #6 as claimed yesterday, in case you were looking for him in the afro-tastic team picture.
- Mobile MGoBlog was the big winner in the "new feature" category and will be implemented ASAP. Better integration with MGoVideo was also popular. A unified ticket search came in third.
- About 50% are registered (FYI: even if you aren't interested in posting, logged in users can customize how they see the blog. You can turn some blocks on and off, change the way comments appear, etc.)
- About 10% of people who tried to register never get a response. (If this happens to you, email me.)
- Most people read the board and diaries, with about half participating on the message board and a small number posting diaries, which is about right, IMO.
- Page speed was mostly "good."
- People seem to think the level of self-policing in the comments is about right, but they'd like to see better organization of the user-produced content.
- Advertising is at a tolerable level.
Sorry if you got locked out; I dislike Wufoo's pricing schemes. (I don't want to sign up for something monthly and have to cancel, but I'd pay ten bucks to have a single unlimited survey.)
Clone wars. UMHoops digs out some Kenpom stats and compares this year's basketball team to the 2005 West Virginia team that introduced the world to Gansey and Pittsnogle, et al. The key chart:
The offenses are eerily similar and can quickly be compared: Michigan doesn't shoot as well—though they're not bad—but values the ball more than anyone else in the country; they don't get offensive rebounds or free throws, as they are an extreme POT, which you can see by the percentage of three pointers chucked skyward.
Defensively it's a bit tougher. Michigan looks superior in just about every number up there except turnover percentage, but WVU's defense went up against a lot of good offenses. Michigan not so much.
One thing I did find interesting: Michigan isn't actually that bad on the defensive boards: 33.8 is just about the national average. That's still not good, as an average power conference team with 60+% of its schedule to date against mid- and low-majors should have above-average rebounding. I feel like that sentence was very confusing, but am at a loss to fix it. Rephrase: Michigan's probably a poor defensive rebounding team but not a disastrous one.
A side note: there's been some discussion of Kenpom's grim forecast for Michigan—8-10 in conference and 18-13 overall before the Iowa game, now up to 9-9 and 19-12—and what this says and etc. While I think the Kenpom ratings are worth looking at, keep in mind that they can't account for the absence of Laval Lucas-Perry—currently the team's most efficient offensive player—for about 60% of the season. That's probably worth a game or two (or three!) in Kenpom's projections.
Dylan has an array of interesting observations as well; check his post out.
Elsewhere. The Wall Street Journal takes note of the Big Ten's basketball revival, and does so with heavy deployment of tempo-free statistics.
Is it just me or have mainstream basketball writers taken to advanced stats much more quickly than writers covering any other sport? Baseball writers often take pride in their ignorance. Football broadcasts still propose that 3=7 whenever they mention redzone efficiency. Advanced hockey stats aren't yet important enough to sneer at. Basketball guys, on the other hand, took one look at Kenpom and said "hey, that makes sense." Wonder why that is.
Etc.: Rick Reilly declares beer pong the "next great American pastime," causing reader Jeremy Hekhuis to ask "if reilly is calling something the next great pastime, hasn't its time come and gone?" and causing me to respond "yes."
picture via Philly.com
This past weekend was huge for the final push in Michigan recruiting class. The next couple weekends could be equally big for the Wolverines. One of the big names taking a visit is PA WR Je'ron Stokes. Stokes is committed to Tennessee but looking around in the wake of the Vols coaching change. I spoke with Je'Ron Stokes about the upcoming visit, here's what he had to say...
TOM: What are the main reasons that made you decide to start taking visits?
JE’RON: My main reason was that I just wanted to be sure about the decision I make. I’ve been committed for so long, and so early. I’ve only gotten to see one place. Things changed, and this is a business decision. The quarterback situation, I thought was wrong, but the coach has a lot on his plate, and he wants to do what he feels is best for the team. It was kind of a 50/50 thing, after awhile it didn’t bother me how he handled it.
TOM: What is your official status with Tennessee?
JE’RON: I really don’t know. I’m still committed, I just want to take some visits and make sure I’m making the best decision.
TOM: Has Lane Kiffin done anything to try and keep you at Tennessee?
JE’RON: Oh yea, he’s spoken with my family. He’s making some good efforts; I’ve met a few of his staff and everything. It’s kind of like starting a new relationship
TOM: You’re visiting Michigan this weekend, what are you looking to get out of the visit? What other schools do you plan on visiting?
JE’RON: Everybody’s going to have good academics; this is the highest level of college football you could play in. So I’m looking for relationships with the people, players, and coaches. The town, just how the overall atmosphere. I’m going to visit Illinois, Penn State, and maybe Georgia. I probably will take a visit to Penn State; I’m not 100% on that yet.
TOM: Is there anything specifically that you’re excited to see, or that you want the coaches to focus on?
JE’RON: Not really, just want to see everything. Just kind of see the whole package.
TOM: Are there any other recruits that you’ve developed a friendship with recently?
JE’RON: I met some people at the All American Game, Jeremy Jackson, and a lot of people. Too many to name. Will Campbell too, he’s a funny guy.
TOM: Since you were concerned about Tennessee’s lack of a quarterback, have you spoken to any of the QB’s from the schools you’re visiting? Have you talked to Tate Forcier at all?
JE’RON: I haven’t. I know the new quarterback at Penn State, Kevin Newsome, but other than that no. We worked together a few times. I’m going to talk to the quarterbacks at the visit, and get a feel for them just as players and people.
TOM: The schools that are left rank them in order of who excites you the most, or who you are most curious about.
JE’RON: Honestly I don’t even know, I’m curious about all of them. I really can’t do that right now.
TOM: When do you think you’ll make your decision?
JE’RON: Most likely not until signing day.
TOM: If any of these visits blow you away, do you think you’ll commit on the spot?
JE’RON: No, I’m going to take my time. I’ll talk to my family about everything, and make sure it’s right.
TOM: With your recruiting, are you kind of blazing the trail for your brother Malik? Do you think he’ll follow, or do his own thing?
JE’RON: Where ever God leads him. He’s going to make the best decision for him, where ever he wants to go. We played together in high school so it’d be nice, but I want him to do what’s right for him.
The novelty of the national championship game in 3-D drew in a couple bloggers whose opinions I respect, and their reviews were pretty much the same: the 3-D effect is cool but most prominent when you're on a sideline shot, which is a crappy angle to watch a game from. Both Dr. Saturday and Bill Harris of Dubious Quality seemed disappointed with the direction, which is to be expected when you're testing out a system FROM THE FUTURE.
But what struck me was the way in which the spare production values seemed a benefit, not a drawback. Dr. Saturday:
I don't know that the "feel" had as much to do with the 3-D, though, as it did with the shockingly spare production. The broadcast usually lingered on the field during TV timeouts, stealing shots of players huddling on the sideline, cheerleaders (who look great, although they kept showing the Florida cheerleaders in much longer takes than necessary, and never made it around to Oklahoma's squad) and the crowd. Sometimes they caught coaches arguing with the refs or doing something interesting. You can see 3-D Tim Tebow hovering at the edge of the offensive huddle, waiting until the last possible second to take his headset off. There were no wooshing graphics or promos to fill empty space, only the announcers, Kenny Albert and Tim Ryan, who were often silent for long stretches during these timeouts. The feeling was exactly what you'd experience during a TV timeout if you were actually in the stadium, which may not sound like much fun. But compared to the usual cacophony of commercials, I really appreciated the broadcast remaining almost entirely on the scene without the usual bells and whistles.
(Also, that post's comments have one of the best descriptions of a blog I've ever seen: EDSBS is "college football smashed through a Decemberists song.")
And Bill Harris:
The biggest difference, and this is what surprised me most, was in the presentation. No scoreboard overlay. Almost no statistical overlays. In other words, we didn't see a bunch of useless crap and network pimping on the screen. No American Idol overlays. No website whoring. No stupid-ass, giant arrows on the field telling us down and distance, just like the scoreboard overlay is already telling us. All we saw was football.
That was absolutely great.
Harris sums up pithily: "there is zero respect for content these days."
Maybe the revolutionary aspect of this 3D experience isn't Captain EO in helmets but an alternative broadcast that diehards can access in exchange for money. If you were a Florida or Oklahoma fan, how much would you have paid to exchange the Fox broadcast with something pitched at your interests instead of people who watch college football once a year?
I've mentioned this before: the problem with sports broadcasting is that people who already care have to watch. They have no alternative. So broadcasters are free to wholly ignore their wishes and cater their coverage to people who don't care, with a heavy slice of corporate whoredom. QED: Monday Night Football's weekly 15-minute interview with a celebrity totally unrelated to football.
But we're entering an age where virtually anyone can broadcast in real time over the internet, when television bandwidth and sophistication can easily provide for alternative views on the game. How long will it take before someone creates an alternative broadcast a little more sophisticated than "Orson and Peter get drunk during a bowl game"? (Which is great but probably not something you can monetize.)
I hope the answer to this is "not long." Someone, anyone, create a pilot program, a PPV version of a game available for free except with, like, Sean McDonough and Chris Spielman and no ads and no Tebotheosis and no impulse for me to put the TV on mute. This equals cash money for you.
Tom Deinhart is hanging out at the coaching convention and says:
Michigan's search for a defensive coordinator continues. Two names making the rounds: former Michigan defensive coordinator Jim Herrmann, who coached linebackers for the New York Jets this season, and Florida safeties coach Chuck Heater.
Of course, everyone's first reaction to Jim Herrmann is "aigh!" Then everyone thinks about the 2005 season and doubles down on "aigh!" And then, no doubt, this will all be put behind us shortly. Herrmann makes no sense in a number of ways. After Rodriguez took a gamble on Scott Shafer that ended in dissention and disaster, he's repeatedly stressed fit and comfort as primary criteria in the DC search. AFAIK, he's never interacted with Herrmann. Also, Michigan fans were ready to run Herrmann out of town on a rail in 2005. A return would be awkward, to say the least.
Heater, on the other hand, is an interesting guy. He's an alum, the starting wingback on the 1974 team (he's sitting next to Dennis Franklin in the front row wearing #28 in this afro-tastic team photo). Since graduation he's been an assistant at a thousand different schools: Northern Arizona, Toledo, Wisconsin, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Colorado State, Colorado, Washington, Utah, and Florida. Aside from a couple brief stints as a RB coach and one year as a DC at Toledo he's been a secondary coach for the entirety of his career; he's also held the title "recruiting coordinator" for the past ten years, a span that covers jobs at four different schools. Much has been made of the close relationship between Meyer and Rodriguez and their respective staffs; chances are Rodriguez knows Heater pretty well.
The pro column: Heater's a career college assistant and alum who's been a key part of the Meyer recruiting machine for the past five years. He'll help out Michigan's Florida recruiting significantly, and he's been a part of what's normally a vicious Florida defense.
The con column: no DC experience, obviously, and it's questionable how much impact he's had on a coaching staff with Charlie Strong and Greg Mattison and so forth and so on.
Accidental news. Buried in a local-kid-does-good article on Junior Hemingway was this significant piece of news:
Hemingway, who was red-shirted this past season after suffering an acromioclavicular (AC) joint sprain in his shoulder and then getting sick is looking forward to helping Michigan overcome a dismal 3-9 campaign this past season.
A month or so ago I noted a change in the redshirting rules that would allow Hemingway to claim a his; without that change he would have been SOL.
Yes, please. Rich Rodriguez is probably in favor of this piece of legislation coming to college football conferences around the country:
The American Football Coaches Association has forwarded a proposal for an early signing day for college football recruits and it wil [sic] be reviewed by conference commissioners this Thursday.
"We're looking for an early signing day in the third week of December," Rob Ianello, Notre Dame assistant and head of the AFCA FBS Assistant Coaches Committee, said at the coaches convention in Nashville. "There are more than 1,000 verbal committments [sic] right now, and about 15 per school. Why not sign them? Is it a reservation or a committment [sic]? What we're seeing is oversigning and late switches. An earlier signing day would also be cost effective."
Not sure what an early signing period would do to stem oversigning, which South Carolina and North Carolina are now enthusiastically participating in, but Ianello's point on some "commitments" being more like reservations and not, you know, mutual is well made. I don't think there can be a whole lot of complaint about the date proposed, as it's not all that early: virtually all coaching switches will have taken place by that time.
Also, Joe Schad needs one of those red-squiggly spell-check things.
Mid-CSB. The NHL Central Scouting Bureau's midseason rankings are out and a number of future Wolverines are listed:
- NTDP forward Chris Brown is #29
- NTDP forward Kevin Lynch is #83
- NTDP forward AJ Treais is #205
- USHL defenseman Lee Moffie is #210 (last).
The CSB produces separate lists for North American and European skaters, so mentally add about 50% to everyone's ranking for their projected draft slot. Brown looks like a solid second-rounder, Lynch should go in the middle rounds, and Treais and Moffie are likely to go undrafted.
Departures of note. A host of early departures and transfers have gone down; these have been noted on the sidebar, but a recap of the departed:
- Draft: Wisconsin RB PJ Hill, Ohio State RB Beanie Wells, PSU DE Aaron Maybin (maybe)
- Transfer: Iowa QB Jake Christensen
A few more Penn State and Ohio State players are expected to declare before the January 15th deadline.
There is also everyone's favorite: a Notre Dame player leaving school for "personal reasons" but expected to return after those personal reasons get some flimsy grades at a JUCO. This time it's sophomore CB Gary Gray.
Juxtaposition. I've always thought of Gregg Doyel as a Christopher Hitchens for sports, except with severe brain damage where Hitchens keeps his cigarettes and vast hatred of the Catholic church. This is a pretty awesome demonstration of that idea:
This game will be sensational, that’s all I know. But the arrogant assumption that Florida’s defense will be the difference makes me giggle.
Because the truth is, the difference really could be Florida’s defense.
After it gets its ass kicked by the best offense in college football history.
Florida, of course, got its ass kicked to the tune of 14 points.
Is Doyel stupid enough deploy those one-sentence paragraphs following that shot at an "arrogant assumption" without it being an attention-getting schtick? Eh… no. Doyel, more than any other sportswriter I've had the misfortune to stumble across, seems to glory in the hatred of all things.
So, yeah, Boston College fans should cower at this bad boy:
So stop the bellyaching about civil liberties and Boston College's intolerance and poor little Jagodzinski's rights and boo and hoo. Stop it right now. If you've already bitched to someone, you sound ridiculous. Shut your mouth and don't make that mistake again. If you've not bitched about it, consider yourself fortunate. It's not too late to change your mind, or in lieu of that, it's not too late to just sit this one out. Shut up. Keep your opinion to yourself.
Because you're wrong.
Jagodzinski was wrong.
This is the problem with legacy media on the internet: when you attack a ridiculous strawman like "people are whining about Jeff Jagodzinski's civil rights" without so much as a single link an example, you look like an idiot. You confirm that by following your ridiculous strawman with those two beauty one-sentence paragraphs, and you chisel it in stone if you marshal these two examples as evidence:
Florida bent over while Billy Donovan flirted with NBA jobs, took the Orlando Magic job, and then changed his mind and came back to school. Apparently he had it pretty good in a beautiful college town where he had won back-to-back national championships. Who knew?
Florida is… uh… 14-2 at the moment.
Louisville bent over while Bobby Petrino batted eyes at every school that could find his phone number -- and then, after redoing his contract and giving him every little thing his heart could desire, Louisville watched him leave for the Atlanta Falcons.
…and Agrokrag, his replacement, is 11-13. In Petrino's final season at Louisville—which AD Gregg Doyel would never have given him—the Cardinals were… uh… 12-1 and won the Orange Bowl. Not so much on the good examples there.