I'VE HAD JUST ABOUT ENOUGH OF YOU SONNY
HTTV delivery schedule. I've gotten a lot of emails about when your hands can wrap around a copy of Hail To The Victors, and the answer is "soon." The launch party was the first I'd seen of the magazines myself and we're having some teething problems when it comes to getting them in the mail in a cost-effective way. (Kickstarter's reporting mechanisms are not complicated enough to handle what we wanted to do so we did quite a bit of shoehorning.) I'm expecting this will happen very soon. If you filled out a kickstarter survey, you're good. (If you haven't: do so ASAP.)
UPDATE: Unless we don't have your shipping info, everything that doesnt get a specialty t-shirt will be going out this week. Everything with specialty shirts will be going out mid next week.
Van Bergen 2.0. That's DT commit Henry Poggi, man:
Tremendous: OK, so I have to ask if you've ever seen a picture of Ryan Van Bergen. You can't deny the resemblance.
Henry (laughs): Yes, yes I have seen a few. Actually, when my brother Jim heard that I was looking at Michigan and sent me a picture of Van Bergen on Facebook and told me I looked exactly like this guy.
Tremendous: When we first started doing the site, we did a breakdown on you and I remember Keith calling me going off about how much you looked like Van Bergen, especially with the long hair. What are the long term flow plans?
Henry: I will definitely be staying with the long hair.
Mascot model. He's got a bike, he's in a suit, he's a mascot apart.
Yeah, he's a jaguar, not a wolverine. If he's willing to be environmentally friendly and stand on the sideling clapping disinterestedly while talking about real estate, he's Michigan's man. Jaguar. Whatever.
That's all that's left. It's testament to the work Wolverine Historian has put in that he's just posted highlights of the 1995 Memphis game:
He notes you should keep an eye out for Charles Woodson's hair around the 2 minute mark.
New bowl order. In the long term, John Junker's Fiesta Bowl plunder may be a benefit for college football since it seems like it was a wakeup call to college football conferences. Slapped with a torrent of bad publicity, various commissioners descended to the war room to plan strategy, found that they had all the power, and proceeded using it. First the SEC and Big 12 decided they'd co-own a bowl, now the ACC(!) has made a power play with the Orange Bowl:
If there was any doubt that the bowls are the biggest losers in the new postseason arrangement, the new ACC-Orange Bowl deal should put that to rest. That’s because the most significant part of it is this:
Along with the announcement that it will be aligned with the Orange Bowl, the ACC also told ESPN that it now controls the broadcast rights to the bowl, meaning that it will be taking bids on who broadcasts it, and will be taking at least 50 percent of those broadcast rights for itself.
It’s evidence of a sea change in who’s calling the shots.
“It’s a de-centralization,” one BCS source said. “Conferences taking control of their bowl games and determining who participates in the games. It’s the conferences really loaning their bowl games to us to have semifinals.”
I wonder if the Big Ten and Pac 12 are exerting the same leverage under the table with the Rose Bowl. That seems 50-50: Delany has been pretty ruthless at acquiring the money but Grandaddy don't hear too well these days, sonny, lean in so I can hear you better…
What was that again?
In other bowl rejiggeration news, we've found out what happens when the Rose or whoever loses a team to the playoff:
So when you hear the term “contract bowl” to describe the Rose, Champions and Orange bowls, it literally means those games have their own contracts with individual conferences. Hence, if they lose one of their contracted champions to the playoff, they can replace that team with any other team from that partner conference, minimum ranking be damned. The BCS is not dictating which conferences get these contracts. There’s nothing stopping one of those bowls from signing the Big East or Mountain West, but realistically it’s not going to happen.
That's Stewart Mandel, who also says that this AQ/non-AQ business that was supposed to be going away actually isn't: if the Rose is hosting a semi and the Big Ten champ doesn't make it, they have a guaranteed slot in one of the three "access" bowls that will fill out the new six-bowl red carpet lineup. No such luck for the Big East, let alone anyone else. In practice, expanding the number to 12 and going strictly on the selection committee's rankings of who are the best teams will get remotely deserving minor conference champs in most of the time.
We must protect the Rose Bowl from the horror of hosting the Pac 12 and Big Ten champions. Meanwhile… what the hell?
At least? Big 12 consultant Chuck Neinas and BCS executive director Bill Hancock have told CBSSports.com it remains uncertain how many times the Rose and Champions bowls will host semifinals. Both bowls have reasons to host less than four semifinals each over the course of the 12-year agreement. (24 semifinals in 12 years divided by six bowls = four each.)
We all know the Rose would prefer to have its Big Ten-Pac-12 matchup as often as possible. A little known codicil at the end of the current BCS deal required the Rose to take a non-BCS school only once in an eight-year period. (That was TCU in 2011).
The Big 12 and SEC own the Champions Bowl, essentially a start-up whose valuation grows by the day. The two leagues could find more money playing outside the semifinal (more often than not) with a separate rightsholder.
Protecting the Rose Bowl was priority one for the Big Ten, but this system is not the "if you're in, Rose hosts" system. It's a random rotation that will expose the Rose Bowl to potentially non-sanctified games in some years and has the potential to make the Rose the Grandaddy of Conference Runners-Up when the semifinals rotate away.
That's nuts. By handing away semifinals the Big Ten and Pac 12 are putting their faith in the Rose Bowl's brand over the cachet of the national championship… which, okay, I guess isn't surprising since that's been the MO here since home games were abandoned.
I thought the plan then was to put any game featuring a #1 or #2 ranked Big Ten/Pac-12 team in the Rose, which would have preserved its importance. Now it's mostly a consolation prize in the same way it would have been if there were home games—and the powers that be are trying to make it even more so. We must destroy this tradition in order to save it.
Walton something something. Wiggle? Rod Beard profiles 2013 PG commit Derrick Walton in the News:
"He's a point guard in the pure sense," said Scout.com recruiting analyst Sam Webb. "He had always been a pass-first point guard, but he was a pass-first, pass-second and pass-third point guard. He really had the ability to take over games offensively but was overly concerned with getting his teammates involved.
"There were times when his dad would say to him, 'I need you to go out and get it done offensively.' On the AAU circuit, they told him the same thing with the (Michigan) Mustangs. I remember he responded with seven 3-pointers in a game after he had deferred a little too much."
He probably won't have the immediate impact of Trey Burke because that's a once-in-a-decade kind of thing for anyone outside the realm of obvious one-and-done sorts, but Michigan should be able to survive a Burke departure after this year.
Sure, why not? EDSBS posts "We Are ND" for no apparent reason, which is enough of a reason for me to post it.
This serves as a reminder that we are We Are ND until such time as a pile of "In The Big House" records are burned at midfield.
Brief EA NCAA rant. Their latest gimmick is putting former stars in the uniforms of top rivals—sorry, putting people wearing certain numbers who may or may not be Tebowing but certainly aren't representations of current or former college players—and putting it on the internet to horrify people. They started with Desmond Howard in an OSU jersey and have now put Tim Tebow in a Georgia uniform.
In a nutshell, this is why I quit buying NCAA a few years ago. Instead of making an edition of the game in which receivers catch a realistic number of balls instead of dropping half of them or making a 50-yard pass actually difficult to complete, EA has spent the last decade working on stupid gimmicks and letting their franchise stagnate on a treadmill. Damn you, exclusive licensing.
Etc.: John L Smith declares bankruptcy, confirming that he is the Most Interesting Coach In The World. Purdue blog Hammer and Rails previews Michigan, asserts Boilers will lose 31-20. Notre Dame would like to beat Michigan this year. Jerry Hinnen profiles Betsey Armstrong, who will start in goal for the women's water polo team and could probably tear your arm out of its socket. Apply to be an assistant cheerleading coach. This is where your money is going.
MHN runs down hockey players who never showed up. Amazing how Jack Campbell worked out for Michigan: they get the statistically-best goalie in program history, Campbell puts up a sub-.900 save percentage in the OHL. Western College Hockey blows up Kitchener's libel threat at Slovin.
Lima (OH) Central Catholic DB Darius West has hit the camp circuit hard over the summer with standout performances at Michigan, Michigan State, and Ohio State. Despite growing up as an Ohio State fan, West has since found room for Michigan alongside the Buckeyes in his top two. I caught up with Darius earlier this week to talk about his recruitment, camp performances, preferred position, and more:
ACE: How's everything going with your recruitment and which schools are in contact with you right now?
DARIUS: Everything is going real good. I've got Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Louisville, West Virginia, Indiana, Wisconsin, a lot of MAC schools, Arkansas, Vanderbilt, and Kentucky.
ACE: Out of those schools, which ones have extended you an offer so far?
DARIUS: Illinois, Cincinnati, Bowling Green, Akron, and Toledo.
ACE: Do you have any favorites?
DARIUS: My two favorites are Michigan and Ohio State.
ACE: You've been to Michigan, Michigan State, and Ohio State camps recently. How did those go for you and what was your impression of each of the three schools?
DARIUS: The camps went really good. The Michigan State camp, I got there late, so I was only able to do one session with them. At Ohio State, the coaches were really nice, they worked me real hard, and the camp was organized with a lot of competition out there. Michigan, I really enjoyed the environment, the facilities, and the coaches taught me a lot. The Michigan State camp, I wasn't getting too much out of that camp because I got there late.
ACE: Talking about Michigan a little bit more, which coaches were you working with at the camp and what did they have to say to you both about their recruitment of you and what they thought about your game?
DARIUS: I had the cornerbacks coach and the safeties coach [Ed.-Ace: I'm assuming he's referring to Curt Mallory and a grad assistant, since Mallory coaches the whole secondary], and then I talked to the defensive coordinator [Greg Mattison] after the camp. The defensive coordinator, he told me everything, he said, "just give us a little chance, I know you're from Ohio, but keep it in mind and you'll like it if you ever come in to visit here." He was saying they're going to be all over me in the recruiting process and basically they said they would like to have me. They're recruiting me as a cornerback, so... I don't know.
ACE: Do you have a preference in terms of position? Would you rather play safety versus corner or the other way around?
DARIUS: Yeah, I want to play safety, but if they want me to play corner I'll do that too.
ACE: Do you think that would factor into a decision at all?
DARIUS: Nah, not really.
ACE: You mentioned the defensive coordinator saying you're from Ohio and asking you to give Michigan a chance. Did you grow up as an Ohio State fan and will that be a factor at all?
DARIUS: Yeah, I grew up as an Ohio State fan, but not at all [will it be a factor].
ACE: Talking about your game a little bit, what would you say are your biggest strengths on the football field and what are you trying to work on to improve both in the summer at these camps and for next season?
DARIUS: My strength is my strength, how strong I am, and my explosiveness. What I really need to work on is my hip movement because my hips are a little stiff; that's what Ohio State told me. They told me if I can get that down I can be a good player. I mean, my hips aren't bad, but they aren't where they should be to play the position I want to play.
ACE: Looking ahead to the rest of the summer, do you have any other plans in terms of camps you're attending or any visits you'd like to take, both through the summer and into the fall?
DARIUS: I would like to go back to Michigan and take a tour, because I didn't get to take the tour there, so I'd like to go there. I'm going up to Cincinnati soon. I've got one more camp in Dallas for the Underclassmen Showcase, the All-Star Camp; I'm going July 7th through the 9th.
ACE: What are the biggest factors that you're going to be looking at when you start visiting these schools and ultimately making a decision?
DARIUS: The coaching staff, that's my first impression right there. Then the facilities, the atmosphere that I'm going to be around, the players I'm going to be around, when would I get a chance to play, things like that.
In CONGRESS, July 4, 2013
The unanimous Declaration of the five united Conferences of America (and the mid-majors and stuff)
When in the course of football events it becomes necessary for one league to dissolve the postseason selection systems which have bound them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, or field turf, or grass, or whatever-you-know-the-blue-stuff-from-Idaho, a separate and more equal system to which the Laws of Nature and of Walter Camp entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all D-I programs start the season equal, that team sports are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are a postseason which is entertaining, properly rewards regular season achievement, is respectful to the cherished traditions of man and Providence, and above all may declare among the nations an unequivocal champion whose commemorative season review may be included unto mankind's Sports Illustrated subscriptions…
From here Jefferson goes on to excoriate George III for a laundry list of tyrannical acts like dissolving elected champions and repeatedly screwing over Kansas State, but you get the gist: we are free!
Prudence, indeed, will dictate that postseason systems long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that the BCS disposed mankind to suffer by constantly abolishing the forms to which we were accustomed. Having undertaken just such an endeavor, it be our duty to provide new guards for our system's security, seeking out the potential injuries and usurpations within the playoff before we go ahead and pledge to it our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred trophies.
A new playoff thus established, allow me to submit to a candid world the entirety of the BCS era revisited as if it were governed by this gallant new postseason.
Precedents. This is 1998 through 2011 as if determined by the new playoff system as Brian was federally mandated to describe last week. I put together a similar post to check various postseason ideas last December and again in May to check if home or bowl sites would be more compelling, but the system proposed is so radically different than the 4-teamers I was checking it's worth another go-round. Hinton did a four-teamer study for 2006-'11, and Connolly did one too, but both left out the hand-crafted, top-tiered, fat-free, non-playoff bowls, which are the best new idea to come out of these discussions.
The Reason I'm Doing it Again: I'm looking for potential points of controversy that would best be smoothed over or at least anticipated, so we don't have a Whiskey Rebellion.
Articles of Revisitation (the method part you don't have to read unless you're going to comment on the method). This is a seven-game postseason consisting of a four-team playoff whose semifinal round is played within the "Big Six" bowls (the seventh game being the championship). Theoretically the top 12 teams get in but I have a feeling before the money guys affix their John Hancocks there will be plenty of room to put a 14th ranked Michigan in a marquee bowl over a hypothetical 1-loss Won't Sell Out State.
Obviously much of the stuff we’ll run into by going back to 1998 has already been taken care of by realignment and conference championships. However with mega-conferences and uneven divisional splits we have not seen the last of two conference foes and rematches.
To fill in the details they're still working out, I added the Cotton and Citrus to the Rose-Orange-Sugar-Fiesta lineup in order to get six. They're the two oldest non-BCS bowls and have the next-highest payouts already. Both SEC affiliates, if they maintain their traditional conference loyalties, the result could create a bias in favor of the SEC and against the ACC and Pac 12. I’ll be watching to see how this works out.
Nobody cares who won a mid-major (sorry Big East) championship. This makes the years before the Miami-VT-BC defection a bit weird-looking. Tougher non-conference schedules and conference championship games should help to clarify the top in years going forward.
Bowl precedence (ie better matchups) is decided by an unwritten understanding of each bowl’s historical importance, and their historical tie-ins. Close or intriguing matchups are preferable to “fair” matchups, and where possible I’ve shown a preference for teams to play close to home because that helps sell tickets. Where possible, Rose gets B1G and Pac champs, Orange gets ACC, Sugar gets SEC, and the Cotton has first dibs on any former Southwestern Conference team. If there’s a mid-major nobody wants, it goes to the Fiesta Bowl because somebody has to, and they're in the NCAA's doghouse at the wrong time. The Semis rotate but the new guys can get pushed aside for the old affiliations.
Numbers in parentheses are AP rankings so don't treat them like they're meaningful. Rematches are avoided if possible, though I did have one because of context. On with the shew!
1:00 pm: Cotton Bowl: Florida (7) vs. Texas A&M (10)
4:30 pm: Fiesta Bowl: Arizona (5) vs. Tulane (9)
8:00 pm: Sugar Bowl (SEMI): Tennessee (1) vs. Kansas State (4)
1:00 pm: Citrus Bowl: Arkansas (11) vs. Michigan (15)
4:30 pm: Rose Bowl: UCLA (6) vs. Wisconsin (8)
8:00 pm: Orange Bowl (SEMI): Florida State (2) vs. Ohio State (3)
Champs: Ohio State/Wisconsin/Michigan (B1G), FSU (ACC), Kansas St (BXII), UCLA (P12), Tennessee (SEC)
Left out: Georgia Tech (12), Nebraska (13), Virginia (14), Air Force (16), Notre Dame (17), Syracuse (8-3)
The new controversy: Right away we have Michigan getting in despite being ranked (by the AP) below three relatively equal candidates, a 1-loss team (AF), and two teams who beat us. The selection committee is going to take heat every year for picking an 11th and 12th team out of a pile of 9-win major conference teams and 1-loss mid-majors. Schedule strength was the main quality I used to choose here (and supreme bias).
1:00 pm: Citrus Bowl: Michigan State (9) vs. Florida (10)
4:30 pm: Rose Bowl (SEMI): Florida State (1) vs. Wisconsin (4)
8:00 pm: Orange Bowl: Marshall (11) vs. Penn State (13)
Champs: Wisconsin (B1G), Florida State (ACC), Nebraska (BXII), Stanford (P12), Alabama (SEC)
Left out: Minnesota (12), Texas (13), Mississippi St (14), Southern Miss (15), Pac Ten champion Stanford (22).
The new controversy: The Pac Champ isn't even invited? I'm sure a semifinal and the #1 overall Seminoles are enough of a consolation prize for the Rose Bowl. But I have to wonder if the conferences will sign on to something that could possibly leave their 3-loss champion out of it entirely. There are years in packed mega-conferences when a handful of great teams all beat each other up. Do the Big Five get auto-bids then?
1:00 pm: Fiesta Bowl: Nebraska (9) vs. TCU (13)
4:30 pm: Sugar Bowl: Florida (7) vs. Oregon (8)
8:00 pm: Cotton Bowl (SEMI): Oklahoma (1) vs. Washington (4)
1:00 pm: Citrus Bowl: Virginia Tech (6) vs. Notre Dame (10)
4:30 pm: Rose Bowl: Oregon St (5) vs. Purdue (14)
8:00 pm: Orange Bowl (SEMI): Miami (2) vs. Florida State (3)
Champs: Purdue/Michigan/Northwestern (B1G), Florida State (ACC), Oklahoma (BXII), Washington (P12)/Oregon State, Florida (SEC)
Left out: Kansas State (11), Texas (12), Georgia Tech (15).
The new controversy: The rematch or fairness problem arrives. Miami beat FSU, but lost to Washington, who lost to 2-loss Oregon, who lost to Wisconsin and Oregon State, who lost to Washington. With that inbred mess of 1-loss teams, who plays Oklahoma in the first round, then? Do we avoid the rematch or try to rank them?
1:00 pm: Cotton Bowl: Oklahoma (10) vs. Tennessee (8)
4:30 pm: Sugar Bowl: Texas (9) vs. LSU (12)
8:00 pm: Fiesta Bowl (SEMI): Oregon (2) vs. Colorado (3)
1:00 pm: Citrus Bowl: Florida (5) vs. Maryland (6)
4:30 pm: Rose Bowl: Illinois (7) vs. Stanford (11)
8:00 pm: Orange Bowl (SEMI): Miami (1) vs. Nebraska (4)
Champs: Illinois (B1G), Maryland (ACC), Colorado (BXII), Oregon (P12), LSU (SEC)
Left out: Washington State (13), South Carolina (14), Virginia Tech (15).
The new controversy: The question of who gets to die by Hurricane is neatly dispatched, aye, but if the selection committee is supposed to be fair, why are we seeing LSU and Florida and Miami all hosting at (basically) home? Because that guarantees more ticket sales. You knew this would happen when they eschewed home sites so that southerners could go on pretending snow is just a myth; now see it in action.
1:00 pm: Cotton Bowl : Texas (9) vs. Michigan (12)
4:30 pm: Fiesta Bowl: USC (5) vs. Oklahoma (8)
8:00 pm: Sugar Bowl (SEMI): Miami (1) vs. Georgia (4)
1:00 pm: Citrus Bowl: Penn State (10) vs. Washington St (6)
4:30 pm: Rose Bowl (SEMI): Ohio State (2) vs. Iowa (3)
8:00 pm: Orange Bowl: Kansas State (6) vs. Notre Dame (11)
Champs: Ohio State/Iowa (B1G), Florida State (ACC),Oklahoma (BXII), Washington St/USC (P12), Georgia (SEC)
Left out: Alabama (13 but ineligible due to NCAA violations), Colorado (14), West Virginia (15), Florida State (16).
The new controversies: The Rose Bowl features a pair of Big Six Bowl-eligible teams from the same conference who didn't play each other in the season, a situation that repeated itself with MSU-OSU in 2010 and with Michigan and Wisconsin in 2011. Can you do that? Does BTN then have first dibs on the friggin' Rose Bowl The second controversy is the inclusion of so many teams from one conference. Indiscernible teams with head-to-head wins tend to get bunched in polls, and selection committees are liable to do the same thing. What happens when on conference has the 10-11-12 and the next the 13-14-15? Here the B1G has four representatives, five if you count ND.
1:00 pm: Citrus Bowl: Tennessee (6) vs. Ohio State (7)
4:30 pm: Orange Bowl: Kansas St (8) vs. Florida State (9)
8:00 pm: Rose Bowl (SEMI): USC (1) vs. Michigan (4)
Champs: Michigan (B1G), Florida State (ACC), Kansas St (BXII), USC (P12), LSU (SEC)
Left out: Purdue (12), Iowa (13), Washington State (15)
The new controversy: By this point certain bowls are getting to host way more often than others. Should they rotate? Among the old BCS or include Cotton/Citrus in that rotation? The count so far is Rose and Orange 3, Fiesta, Sugar, and Cotton 2, Citrus zero.
1:00 pm: Cotton Bowl: Texas (6) vs. Georgia (8)
4:30 pm: Fiesta Bowl: Louisville (7) vs. Boise State (10)
8:00 pm: Sugar Bowl (SEMI): Oklahoma (2) vs. Auburn (3)
1:00 pm: Citrus Bowl: Iowa (11) vs. LSU (12)
4:30 pm: Rose Bowl: Cal (5) vs. Michigan (13)
8:00 pm: Orange Bowl (SEMI): USC (1) vs. Utah (4)
Champs: Michigan/Iowa (B1G), Virginia Tech (ACC), Oklahoma (BXII), USC (P12), Auburn (SEC)
Left out: Miami (13), Tennessee (14), Wisconsin (15)
The new controversy: Undefeated Utah is given the nod over the warring Texas/Cal factions; undefeated Boise State is (boo hoo) left out. The Fiesta Bowl gets stuck with them and Petrino's 1-loss Louisville (a game previously played at the Liberty Bowl), but this keeps everything else aligned nicely. To make it interesting the Big XII should offer a two-year trial membership to the victor.
1:00 pm: Sugar Bowl*: Georgia (8) vs. West Virginia (11)
4:30 pm: Fiesta Bowl: Oregon (6) vs. Auburn (7)
8:00 pm: Cotton Bowl (SEMI): Texas (2) vs. Ohio State (4)
1:00 pm: Citrus Bowl: LSU (10) vs. Virginia Tech (12)
4:30 pm: Rose Bowl (SEMI): USC (1) vs. Penn State (3)
8:00 pm: Orange Bowl: Notre Dame (5) vs. Miami (9)
Champs: Penn State/Ohio State (B1G), Florida State (ACC), Texas (BXII), USC (P12), Georgia (SEC)
Left out: Alabama (13), TCU (14), Louisville (15)
The new controversy: Man can't we just have Texas play USC? But this is a Rose controversy really, since by nature of winning their head-to-head Penn State is now the 3rd seed and places out of the Rose Bowl. Wait…how can a Big Ten team win its way out of Pasadena? Or do you say the hell with seeds and put the Big Ten champ and the Pac Ten champ in the Rose Bowl. My solution: put OSU against Texas in the Cotton Bowl, and now both undefeated teams are essentially playing home games.
*Note the Sugar Bowl that year was moved to the Georgia Dome for Hurricane Katrina--hindsight says the WVa.-Georgia game was a hit so let’s keep it.
1:00 pm: Fiesta Bowl: USC (8) vs. Boise State (9)
4:30 pm: Cotton Bowl: Oklahoma (7) vs. Auburn (10)
8:00 pm: Sugar Bowl (SEMI): Ohio State (1) vs. LSU (4)
1:00 pm: Citrus Bowl: Wisconsin (6) vs. Arkansas (12)
4:30 pm: Rose Bowl (SEMI): Michigan (2) vs. Florida (3)
8:00 pm: Orange Bowl: Louisville (5) vs. Notre Dame (11)
Champs: Ohio State (B1G), Wake Forest (ACC), Oklahoma (BXII), USC/Cal (P12), Florida (SEC)
Left out: West Virginia (13), Virginia Tech (14), Wake Forest (15)
The new controversy: Notre Dame started the season ranked #2, beat no teams that ended up ranked except #25 Penn State. But what do you do with a 2-loss Notre Dame team? The question is moot so long as they're scheduling like 2012, though many of their regular opponents are very up-and-downy. Also I guess Wisconsin and ND could flip games—the question here is are we honoring the Citrus's affiliation or is that gone now?
Poetry to be replaced by Mizzou
1:00 pm: Cotton Bowl: Missouri (7) vs. Florida (9)
4:30 pm: Fiesta Bowl: Kansas (8) vs. Hawaii (10)
8:00 pm: Sugar Bowl (SEMI): LSU (2) vs. Oklahoma (3)
1:00 pm: Citrus Bowl: Virginia Tech (5) vs. West Virginia (11)
4:30 pm: Rose Bowl: USC (6) vs. Illinois (13)
8:00 pm: Orange Bowl (SEMI): Ohio State (1) vs. Georgia (4)
Champs: Ohio State (B1G), Virginia Tech (ACC), Oklahoma (BXII), USC/Arizona State (P12), LSU (SEC)
Left out: Arizona State (12), Boston College (14), Clemson (15)
The new controversy: That 4/5 split can get down to razor thin—do you favor a Pac12 co-champ (relevant now only for Big XII) or a clearly better non-champ and end up with two conference foes in final four?
Selfishly, this robs us of Lloyd's last stand against Tebow.
1:00 pm: Cotton Bowl: Texas Tech (8) vs. TCU (11)
4:30 pm: Fiesta Bowl: Alabama (4) vs. Utah (7)
8:00 pm: Sugar Bowl (SEMI): Florida (1) vs. Texas (3)
1:00 pm: Citrus Bowl: Ohio State (10) vs. Cincinnati (12)
4:30 pm: Rose Bowl (SEMI): Oklahoma (2) vs. USC (5)
8:00 pm: Orange Bowl: Penn State (6) vs. Boise State (9)
Champs: Penn State/Ohio State (B1G), Virginia Tech (ACC), Oklahoma (BXII), USC (P12), Florida (SEC)
Left out: Oklahoma State (13), Georgia Tech (14), Oregon (15), Virginia Tech (22)
The new controversy: Some years simply conspire to ruin any hope of a cut-off. Said Hinton:
Valid Complaints. This was a year of torches and pitchforks under the BCS, and would have been under anything short of at least a six-team field; really, you can make a compelling argument here for at least eight teams, maybe nine. There is no tidy, fair or convincing way to solve that kind of logjam with a four-team bracket.
Undefeated mid-major, or any of a million compelling one-loss top programs? Bama gets left out of the playoff in favor of Pac Ten champ USC (who then gets to play near home—oh the unfairness!) and those two play each other so at least only one can be bitching at the end of the season.
1:00 pm: Orange Bowl: Georgia Tech (9) vs. Penn State (11)
4:30 pm: Rose Bowl: Oregon (7) vs. Ohio State (8)
8:00 pm: Citrus Bowl (SEMI): Alabama (1) vs. Cincinnati (4)
Champs: Ohio State (B1G), Georgia Tech (ACC), Texas (BXII), Oregon (P12), Alabama (SEC)
Left out: Virginia Tech (12), Miami (14), BYU (15)
The new controversy: Boise State's best season ever just happens to fall at the same time as two other mid-majors' which means they're punched out of the playoffs like LaGarrette Blount (OH SNAP!). After two seasons in a row of this, fans are declaring the new playoff system a disaster and call for an expansion to six teams. NCAA officials declare a six-team playoff would bring ruin to college football, and swear on their souls it will never happen so long as they're in charge.
1:00 pm: Cotton Bowl: LSU (11) vs. Virginia Tech (12)
4:30 pm: Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma (9) vs. Boise State (10)
8:00 pm: Sugar Bowl (SEMI): Auburn (1) vs. TCU (4)
1:00 pm: Citrus Bowl: Ohio State (6) vs. Michigan State (7)
4:30 pm: Rose Bowl (SEMI): Oregon (2) vs. Wisconsin (3)
8:00 pm: Orange Bowl: Stanford (5) vs. Arkansas (8)
Champs: Ohio State/Michigan State/Wisconsin (B1G), Virginia Tech (ACC), Oklahoma (BXII), Oregon (P12), Auburn (SEC)
Left out: Nevada (13), Missouri (14), Alabama (15)
The new controversy: We get to see that Michigan State/Ohio State game we missed in the Big Ten season in the "Bitching that we're just as deserving as Wisconsin" bowl.
Will the committee try to get the Michigans of the world into prime bowls,
or are they there to prevent that from happening? (Upchurch)
1:00 pm: Cotton Bowl: South Carolina (10) vs. Kansas State (11)
4:30 pm: Sugar Bowl: Arkansas (7) vs. Boise State (8)
8:00 pm: Fiesta Bowl : Alabama (2) vs. Oklahoma State (3)
1:00 pm: Citrus Bowl: Michigan (13) vs. Clemson (14)
4:30 pm: Rose Bowl: Stanford (4) vs. Wisconsin (9)
8:00 pm: Orange Bowl (SEMI): LSU (1) vs. Oregon (6)
Champs: Wisconsin (B1G), Clemson (ACC), Oklahoma State (BXII), Oregon (P12), LSU (SEC)
Left out: USC (5 but ineligible), Michigan State (12), Baylor (15)
The new controversy: Michigan State beat Michigan but lost to Wisconsin (their 2nd loss on the season) in the Big Ten Championship and dropped out of the Top 12, thereby no longer being eligible for the…yeah this doesn't get "fixed." A similar argument in reverse is over the Stanford/Oregon thing, where Oregon won their head-to-head and a there-but-for-the-grace Pac12 championship game, but Stanford was ranked several spots higher. However the Citrus Bowl is a more likely destination. The difference is Oregon won their conference; Michigan State won their division because their blowout loss to Notre Dame wasn't counted in the division standings while Michigan's close loss to Iowa counted the same as MSU's blowout loss to Nebraska. N.E.way long story short the Spartans are still korking coupons about the whole biz, even if it's a Citrus Bowl bid now.
Things to discuss at the next Constitutional Convention:
- Rate the relative importance of SOS, conference champion, head-to-head, total wins.
- Will proximity to the bowl site be a consideration for the committee's hand-picking?
- Will the NCAA leave room for them to put major draws in places to up the takings at the risk of favoring those programs?
- Conference foes who haven't played each other—can they play in bowls?
- What's more important: a fair seeding system or better/more traditional matchups?
- Which bowl gets the semi each year? Should they rotate, favor certain ones, function on a system (preferably no—anytime you hamstring the committee you're lessening the good a committee can do)
- Can it be expanded to six teams? Perhaps this is something to be constantly reviewing and if it proves necessary after, say, 10 years, do it.
- At least the BCS had a hard number (and pollsters with obvious agendas/incompetency) to blame. How will the committee justify its razor-thin decisions between 4 and 5, and 12 and 13? I vote for lengthy, judge-like written "opinions" made public to publish. Minority can write opinions too.
- Auto-bids for major conference champions?
- Backbone? Sparties are gonna Spart, even when they're not justified. Can they agree not to make sweeping changes in response to last year's slights?
- Billeting troops—this should not be allowed. If any of our lawyers want to create a 4th Amendment case against bowls having power to choose hotels for the schools (aren't they technically billeting government-subsidized "troops?" You can use Kellen Winslow's testimony…) you will win a cookie. Or two cookies if it goes to trial.
Happy 4th of July.
Sponsors with benefits. Hotels: there are none on gameday unless you want to stay in Canada or Ohio. These places are inconvenient. Few people even speak English. Houses: Ann Arbor has many, lots of them right across the street from Michigan Stadium. Money: can be used to convince people in these houses to let you borrow the houses. Thus your crew of 8+ people can stay in the same, convenient place.
You are probably entering URLs that seem likely candidates to host such a service as we speak. Your fingers ache, your keyboard smokes. Well, enter nonexistent website URLs no longer. You can use Money to avoid Hotels at Gameday Housing, which not only benefits you but also the site. A bonus: mention MGoBlog when you sign up (in the "you heard about us from" box) and they'll take 50 bucks off your first rental*. You can lock down accommodations for Michigan State for about what a hotel would run you, except instead of a hotel room you get a house. Doing so also supports the site.
*[Fine print: only valid until the end of 2012, can't combine with another promotion, one per user.]
2011 photo spectacular. Max starts an excellent thread of favorite pictures from last year:
No sources are listed, unfortunately. Everyone should be shoving the metadata in their files so people can credit back if so inclined.
Troubaaaargh. The Daily's Matt Slovin reports that Jacob Trouba has a 200k offer from the OHL sitting on the table and that this is a source of OHL-related optimism in re: guy breaking his commitment to leave. Again. Kitchener denies this because kids in the OHL get 45 bucks a week only. It's not a professional league, man. You have to believe us.
We'll see how that goes. It's a chunk of cash, but for a guy who's likely to sign a max rookie contract in a year or two it's not a life changing amount. Insert usual bits about how Something Must Be Done, but what? It's clear the OHL doesn't care about its own rules, and the NHL is never going to step in, so what can be done?
UPDATE: Trouba has again reiterated he will play at Michigan.
Werner something. You're probably aware that Joe Paterno's legacy is even further tattered after the release of emails that imply the university administration was about to go to some sort of police-type organization that would have put Jerry Sandusky's crimes to an end until Joe intervened on Sandusky's behalf. But are you aware of the contortions many on the Penn State rivals board are willing to undertake to maintain their worship?
I Would Like to Pose a Question to the Board
Let's see who can answer this question. Bear with me -- I have a point to make. Here it is:
The human body consists of 99.9% of something. What is it?
[several posts in which people respond.]
Congratulations! Three of You Got It.
The answer is empty space. Now, on the face of it, the answer is absurd. How can the body be empty space? Well, because atoms are empty space. Vibrating energy (I think) is what gives things solidity (this is a quantum physics deal, so I can't elaborate). But, here's the point. It is absolutely PREPOSTEROUS to claim that the human body is empty space, just as it is preposterous to claim that Joe Paterno was not involved in covering up Jerry Sandusky's child abuse. Yet, the human body really is empty space; so why can't Joe Paterno not be involved in a cover-up, particularly since no one yet has forwarded any evidence of such? It is a supposition that Paterno was involved, just as it is a common supposition that the human body is not empty space.
This guy has a future as a noir defense attorney.
Meanwhile, Vijay comes out of retirement to re-evaluate the "Grand Experiment."
If this really happens… If Wisconsin's nonconference scheduling goes from sad to decent, yes, Virginia, strength of schedule will be a big deal in the new playoff world. Alvarez is talking about it, at least:
“If you want to be a player (in the national championship equation) and strength of schedule is going to be a part of it, then you really have to consider (a different approach),” UW athletic director Barry Alvarez said.
That might explain why UW football coach Bret Bielema disclosed on his Twitter account this week that he’s reached out to his Notre Dame counterpart Brian Kelly about a possible series with the high-profile independent. Bielema is targeting openings for 2018 and ’19 when Michigan drops off the Irish’s schedule.
It might also explain why Alvarez disclosed this week that there were recent discussions, orchestrated by ESPN, about matching the Badgers against defending national champion and Southeastern Conference power Alabama at a neutral site.
Alvarez, who handled scheduling when he coached the Badgers from 1990 to ’05, said Bielema countered with an offer to play a home-and-home series with the Crimson Tide — no specific years were discussed — but that Alabama coach Nick Saban declined.
That's all talk now. I have a hard time seeing SOS becoming important enough to overrule our current how-many-losses ranking system except in intraconference instances like last year's Oregon-Stanford hypothetical controversy, and if that's the case Wisconsin will continue its steady diet of cupcakes. Something to keep an eye on, at least.
Mario. He got suspended that one game and was kind of frustrating at other times, but Mario Manningham could play, yo:
In other Wolverine Historian bits, he captures the 1994 Minnesota game.
Big Ten Network programming breakdown. A poster on BSD totaled up a month's worth of BTN programming this summer and came out with these numbers:
A quick breakdown of school and how many hours of programming they have, in order from least to greatest:
Nebraska 27.5 hours Minnesota 32 hours Northwestern 40.5 hours Penn State 47.5 hours Purdue 49 hours Illinois 73.5 hours Iowa 82.5 hours Indiana 85 hours Michigan 106 hours Michigan St 108 hours Wisconsin 127.5 hours Ohio State 153 hours
Wisconsin and MSU benefited from frequent replays of the inaugural champinship game. OSU's edge on the rest of the field is a combination of football and basketball prowess that no one else is matching at the moment. The jump from Purdue to Illinois is… odd.
Left tackles can't stand normal bikes. Via a TTB interview with Erik Magnuson:
That is a 6'6", 300 pound man on a unicycle. Maybe we'll see him performing during halftime at Crisler next year.
Etc.: Hardaway, Burke, McGary all second-round-ish NBA prospects at the moment, with Burke in that gray area between the first and second round. The 2013 class rankings are rejiggered: Walton, Donnal up, Irvin down a little.
Sam Mikulak makes the Olympic team. Jeff Porter makes it in the 110M hurdles. Michigan alum Richard Kaplan is mayor of a small Florida town that is way into cricket. Brady Hoke returns to his old stomping grounds to out MANBALL Ball State's new coach.
Today's recruiting roundup discusses Maximum Exposure's performance in the IMG 7-on-7 nationals, the latest on Laquon Treadwell, upcoming 2014 visits, and more.
Morris, MaxEx Fall Short Of Recapturing 7-on-7 Title
Detroit-based Maximum Exposure took the trip to Bradenton, Florida, to defend their title in the IMG 7-on-7 National Championships over the weekend, with commits Shane Morris, Khalid Hill, and Csont'e York in tow. The event drew a star-studded field, and not just among high school recruits—Cam Newton coached a team from Georgia, appearing in a T-shirt that read "CAM GOES H.A.M."* MaxEx struggled in pool play but returned to form during the knockout stage, making it to the finals before losing for a second time to Team Tampa, which featured Michigan targets Alvin Bailey and Leon McQuay III, as well as the nation's top cornerback, Vernon Hargreaves III (in Tampa, top recruits come in IIIs, apparently).
Scout's Scott Kennedy lauded Morris's performance in the tournament—calling him "the prototypical gunslinger"—and provided video highlights of the future Michigan quarterback ($):
Elsewhere, 247's Steve Wiltfong ranked Morris as the event's third-best performer, trailing only Hargreaves and Notre Dame commit Jaylon Smith:
The nation’s No. 2 pro-style signal-caller and No. 22 prospect overall got off to a slow start, but when tournament play began, Morris quickly heated up. The velocity and touch was there for the future Michigan Wolverine, as the 6-foot-3, 201-pound Morris fit the football in several tight windows. He spread the ball around to his top targets, fellow Michigan commits Csont’e York and Khalid Hill, along with Teo Redding and Jack Wangler. Morris hit several big plays downfield, and other than a couple of tough throws against a swarming Team Tampa squad, he was close to perfect on the tournament’s second day.
SBNation's Bud Elliott had Morris atop his list of standout quarterbacks, noting his ability to throw on the run.
York and Hill missed out on any mentions from the recruiting sites, but that doesn't mean they didn't perform; as you can see in the above video, York (#17) and Hill (#20) were Morris's favorite targets. I managed to tune in to a live stream of the event for the final, and while MaxEx's offense had difficulty moving the ball against a star-studded Tampa secondary, Hill presented a serious matchup problem for defensive backs unaccustomed to handling a player with his combination of size and athleticism. Hill runs crisp routes and has soft hands, so while he doesn't wow you with his frame or speed, he finds a way to get open and has developed a great rapport with his future college quarterback.
While Jourdan Lewis wasn't able to make the trip, 2014 Cass Tech teammate Damon Webb played cornerback for MaxEx, though he understandably struggled to defend 6'4", 230-pound Miami (YTM) tight end commit Travis Johnson. On the Tampa side, both Bailey and McQuay impressed; Bailey showed off his top-flight speed and McQuay had the play of the day with a leaping interception (pictured above) on a Morris overthrow.
*Not a shock from a guy who recently self-applied the nickname "Ace Boogie," then referred to himself in the third person using said self-applied nickname during a radio interview.
Must-Read Of The Week
ESPN's Christopher Parish details the story of commit David Dawson, whose father was stuck and killed while working as an MDOT employee just days before David participated in the Columbus NFTC:
Nobody would have blamed the Cass Tech (Detroit) junior and Michigan commit for skipping the camp. But Dawson went anyway, the pain from the funeral still fresh in his mind.
"It played a big role in Columbus," Dawson said. "That was all I was thinking about. I knew I had to get that Opening invite."
Not only did Dawson land the invite to The Opening, he also earned offensive lineman MVP honors, and he'll be one of the headliners for the Elite Lineman Challenge at the event in Beaverton, Ore., from July 5-8.
You're strongly encouraged to click through for the whole article, which also discusses Dawson's competitive nature and his move from Houston back to Detroit.
All Of The Treadwell Coverage
IL WR Laquon Treadwell remains Michigan's top target at wide receiver, even as he continues to consider several other schools (how dare he!) and maintains that he'll take official visits (the nerve!). Before getting into the current landscape of his recruitment, let's remind ourselves why he's the top receiver on the board with Treadwell's newly-released junior highlights:
Yes, please. Treadwell traveled all the way to California for the B2G Elite Camp over the weekend, and ESPN's Erik McKinney saved his highest praise for the Illinois product ($):
In a high-scoring affair that was eventually secured for the offense with a leaping touchdown grab from wide receiver Laquon Treadwell (Crete, Ill./Crete-Monee), both sides had players step up and contribute.
But it began and ended with Treadwell, who hauled in three touchdown passes and was awarded the offensive MVP of camp. The nation's No. 38 player and No. 4 wide receiver had two long catch-and-run touchdowns, then made his mark on the final drive with a tough catch in traffic along the sideline to set up the final score.
Rivals's Adam Gorney caught up with Treadwell at the event and got him to name a leader ($). You get zero guesses because the MGoBoard isn't on fire. (Okay, it's Michigan. There.) He also told 247's Barton Simmons that he intends to take official visits($) to USC, Auburn, Oklahoma State, and Oklahoma. With a list of that caliber, Treadwell's recruitment is far from over, but the Wolverines remain in the driver's seat. With no obvious candidate for an upcoming commitment, he should have time to mull over his options before making a decision.
TN RB Jordan Wilkins narrowed his list to a final five of Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Michigan, Ole Miss, and Auburn, according to Scout's Yancy Porter ($). It doesn't appear that Michigan has much of a shot, however, as even after Wilkins's visit to Ann Arbor he lists Auburn and Vandy as his leaders.
Multiple outlets have reported that Michigan offered TX DE Gaius Vaenuku, but I've confirmed with a source in the know that he does NOT currently hold an offer.
Happy trails go out this week to CA ATH Elijah Qualls and CA WR Demorea Stringfellow,—both part of Washington's impressive eight commits in one day—SC DT Michael Hill (Ohio State), CA LB Michael Hutchings (USC), and MD WR/LB Zach Bradshaw (Penn State). Also committing this week was OH OL/DL Matt Miller, younger brother of Michigan center Jack Miller, who will head to Wisconsin; a Michigan offer wasn't in the cards. Meanwhile, PA LB Alex Anzalone will decide this week($) between Florida, Notre Dame, and Penn State.
Quick 2014 Updates
Scout's Allen Trieu released free articles on the top camp risers in the Midwest in both the 2013 and 2014 classes. Unsurprisingly, Damon Webb features prominently among the rising juniors:
Always considered more of a wide receiver, Webb has proven to be a big time cornerback over the summer and that has lead to several big time offers. With his size, ball skills and recent performances, locking down a few touted receivers, Webb earned offers from Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin and West Virginia. He's still a BCS level receiver, but he's one of the very best corners in the 2014 class.
Also listed are several targets, including MI OL Tommy Doles (offer), OH WR Thaddeus Snodgrass, IL DL Enoch Smith Jr., and WI DE Conor Sheehy. 2013 commit Channing Stribling is listed with the top senior sleepers.
Michigan will get a summer visit from four-star NC OT Bentley Spain, possibly for this month's BBQ at the Big House ($).
Tremendous caught up with FL ATH Artavis Scott—a member of Team Tampa—who said he'll be in Ann Arbor for the BBQ with four-star lineman teammate Mason Cole.
Four-star KY QB Drew Barker also plans to be in attendance at the BBQ, according to 247 ($).
a place Michigan won't be going
Do you think the recent schedule announcements that have us playing more quality non conference opponents are in anticipation of the selection committee favoring teams with a quality strength of schedule?
To me it seems more like an economic thing than an attempt to gain a competitive advantage. One of the benefits of being squeezed hard—or at least having a subsection of the fanbase that is now dumping millions of dollars into club seats and suites—is those fans are now expecting more for their money. As the price you're asked to pay for tickets approaches its value to you, improvements in the product matter. Eight years ago it didn't matter who Michigan scheduled as long as it was a home game. That's no longer the case, or at least it's close enough that the AD doesn't want to take chances.
Combine that with rising rates for tomato cans and the importance of television and college football's economics are moving back towards having more real games.
That said, I do think a schedule like the 2015 slate is a good one if you're good enough to be in the playoff discussion. If that's the case you should be beating the two Pac-12 teams you've signed up, and that may give you the edge over a team from another conference that played East Nowhere. Brandon is due credit for the way he's set up the next few years of nonconference games. Hopefully he secures a home and home worth interrupting the Notre Dame series for in the near future.
Money gap == performance?
I’ve seen several of your entries over the months talk about the growing financial disparity between the B1G and the rest of the BCS conferences. By all accounts the BTN has been a success and helped put the B1G on very sound financial footing, and has kept the other BCS conferences scrambling to find a way to match revenue (realignment, renegotiated TV contracts, etc.)
I don’t have any numbers, but I’m guessing that the B1G is about to enter a brief period where their revenues will outshine everyone in the BCS conferences and that gap will grow. Do you think this financial advantage will ever lead to a competitive advantage in football? Could more revenues, funneled down to the league members, create some national championships?
FWIW, I spoke with my brother (U-M grad and fan) about this and his opinion is that this might show up more in the middle and bottom of the league than at the top. Basically he says that seedy coaches, even seedier alumni boosters, regional talent bases and an obsessive focus on football can trump the money advantage.
What’s your take?
If we're talking about the will to power here, don't you think we would have already seen some of that impact? Minnesota and Illinois aren't reaching deep into their pockets to hire a Mahlzahn or similar, they're making the same hires they always have when they're not hiring patently unqualified nutcases: guys who've done well in the MAC. Northwestern's married to Fitzgerald for a long time, Iowa's going with Ferentz, Bill O'Brien was not exactly a power move by Penn State (though he is recruiting well out of the gate in trying circumstances)… the easiest and most legal way to flex your dollars is by hiring big time coaches, and the middle and bottom of the Big Ten aren't doing that.
It's actually at the top where we're seeing that money spent in buckets. Michigan hired a did-well-at-lower-level type coach but paid him handsomely, and now they're giving both coordinators SEC-type money. Ohio State paid Urban Meyer a ton of money to rescue them from tatgate. The only middle-of-the-road program that is using money to its benefit is Michigan State, which is managing to hold onto its DC for another year or two by paying him mad money. And even the Spartans have seen big chunks of their coaching staff leave—it's one reason MSU hasn't been able to get a high profile instate guy without huge grade question marks since Hoke arrived.
Part of this is just the attractiveness of the job. Is Sexy Coach X confident he can make waves at Minnesota? Probably not. He's worried that his front teeth will start growing… and that he'll end up like Glen Mason in the best case scenario. There's only so much dollars can buy you when the alternative is almost as many dollars and a better shot at long term-dollars (and success).
I don't think the Big Ten's lead in money is going to make for a noticeable competitive advantage. The margins aren't that high. The SEC dumped $18.3 million on its member schools last year, the Big Ten $22.6. That gap narrows once third-tier rights—which Big Ten schools have signed over to the BTN and SEC schools do get some money out of—are considered, and narrows even further when you spread that bounty over two dozen sports that are all clamoring for something. The money advantage is washed away by having more local talent and more dudes willing to ply that local talent with other local talent.
My long term Big Ten dominance hope: global warming.
But seriously folks, the Big Ten is going to be better in the future. Penn State no longer has the Paterno millstone around their neck, OSU isn't going anywhere, and Michigan will in short order be This Is Michigan again. A large part of the conference's reduced standing in recent years has been because the big powers weren't pulling their weight, and it looks like that's coming to a close. Add in Nebraska and more equal footing is coming. Perfectly equal? Probably not.
Yes, I'm going to keep answering this until people stop asking me about it.
I was wondering if you could explain the advantages to using the 4-3 over the 3-4 this year. Although I understand the theory behind the different systems, it seems like Michigan's depth and more proven talent is at linebacker. Instead of having two unproven guys up the middle in Black/Washington and Campbell/Ash/Pipkins, why not line up with the best space-filler of the DT's, and then have Morgan, Demens, Bolden/Hawthorne/Gordon (the best of the three), and Ryan all lining up at LB. This would give us an option with fewer question marks and would allow Mattison to have some more fun with his blitz packages, which can generally be far more varied in 3-4 systems than in 4-3.
There are three main reasons Michigan's going with the 4-3 under this year.
ONE: IT IS GREG MATTISON'S DEAL, MAN. When I checked out Mattison's presentation at a Glazier Clinic earlier this year, he briefly paused at one point and said something along the lines of "if you think you can defend with three linemen, God bless you, but at Michigan we're using four. We'll be here for hours if you want to debate with me." Mattison's a 4-3 guy, especially on the college level. Asking him to run a 3-4 is not playing to his strengths. See: GERG 3-3-5.
TWO: IT IS THE SAME THING AS LAST YEAR. The last time Michigan went into a season with the same defensive coordinator running the same defense he ran the year before was 2007. That was forever ago, and we have felt the pain since. With most of the defense returning it makes sense to tell them to do the same things they were doing last year. Remember how much better Jake Ryan got at not screwing up as the year progressed? You're tossing some of that away by changing defenses.
THREE: IT DOESN'T ACTUALLY SOLVE ANY PERSONNEL PROBLEMS. The most obvious difference between the two systems is in what they ask the linemen to do. Michigan's one-gap 4-3 under generally asks defensive linemen to pick one spot between two linemen and attack it. Traditional 3-4s want all three defensive linemen to control the blocker opposite them and be able to come off on either side of the guy when the ballcarrier gets to them.
If that latter task sounds like it requires a big strong guy, yeah. The best example is Alabama's Jesse Williams, the Australian swamp beast who is moving to nose this year. This guy played DE for Alabama:
That is the kind of guy who occupies all three line slots in a 3-4.
Craig Roh is not a swamp beast. Nor is Jibreel Black. In a 3-4, those guys are either moving to outside linebacker or wandering Europe like a stateless refugee in WWII. They don't really have a role. Meanwhile, the WDEs all get drafted at OLB, leaving you with three spots to fill with tanks instead of one and a half.
The 3-4 is kind of an all or nothing setup, with 300+ pound guys who can squat dump trucks on the DL, Lamarr Woodley sorts at OLB, and traditional ILBs. In contrast the 4-3 under has a smooth size gradation from nose to three-tech to SDE to WDE to SLB to MLB to WLB. In a year when Michigan's not even sure if they've got one nose tackle, a 3-4 essentially asks them to have three.