[Ed-S: written at our request.]
Big Ten Champions
|WHAT||NCAA Softball Regional|
|WHERE||Wilpon Complex/Alumni Field|
|WHEN||Friday-Sunday, May 15-17|
|TV||ESPN2 & ESPNU|
The NCAA regional is a double-elimination tournament, so the only team Michigan is guaranteed to play is Oakland; if all goes chalk, Michigan would play Cal in Game 3 and go from there.
|Friday, May 15|
|3:30 p.m.||Game 1 -- #2 seed California vs. #3 seed Pittsburgh (ESPNU)|
|6:30 p.m.||Game 2 -- #1 seed Michigan vs. #4 seed Oakland (ESPNU)|
|Saturday, May 16|
|4 p.m.||Game 3 -- Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner (ESPN2)|
|6:30 p.m.||Game 4 -- Game 1 loser vs. Game 2 loser (ESPN2)|
|9 p.m.||Game 5 -- Game 3 loser vs. Game 4 winner (ESPNU)|
|Sunday, May 17|
|3:30 p.m.||Game 6 -- Game 3 winner vs. Game 5 winner (ESPNU)|
|6 p.m.||Game 7 -- Game 6 winner vs. Game 6 loser (if necessary) (ESPNU)|
Big Ten Review
For the first time since 2005, Michigan softball swept the Big Ten championships, taking home the regular season crown after a tightly contested race with Minnesota and the tournament crown after downing PSU, Northwestern, and Nebraska in dominant fashion.
The Wolverines came into Big Ten play slightly chastened by a home loss to Kent State and their brilliant pitcher, but nevertheless riding a brilliant non-conference performance. MGoSoftball has already ably reviewed that portion of the season (http://mgoblog.com/diaries/softball-mid-season-report).
After exacting revenge against KSU and pounding Bowling Green, the Wolverines charged into Big Ten play with a three game set at Ohio State, racking up double-digit wins in all three games. Two games into the Iowa series, things were looking on track for continued success. Halfway through the final game of the series, though, the Wolverines defense collapsed, blowing a 4-run lead and handing the lowly Hawkeyes an unlikely upset at Alumni Field. There wasn't much time to recover, either, as Michigan had to travel up to Minneosta for a 3-game set against the nationally-ranked Golden Gophers, headlined by star pitcher Sara Groenewegen. After a 9-1 run rule drubbing and a blown 3-run lead early in the second game, it looked like Michigan's magical season was unravelling all too quickly.
Fortunately, something clicked in those Maize & Blue minds after that bad 2nd inning in Minnesota, and the Wolverines bounced back. They tied the game in the 3rd, and went on to win 9-4, following up that performance with an Easter Sunday run-rule blowout, returning the 9-1 favor that Minnesota had handed out that Friday.
From that point on, Michigan has not looked back. Since the loss to Minnesota, Michigan has won 20 straight games, including 13 via the run-rule and 2 no-hitters from sophomore stand-out Megan Betsa.
The end of the Big Ten season found the Wolverines in possession of an array of awards, headlined by Megan Betsa as the conference pitcher of the year and Carol Hutchins as the coach of the year. Multiple Wolverines found their way onto the 1st, 2nd, and defensive teams. Sierra Romero won the tournament MVP award and also the inaugural ESPNW national player of the year award as well (she is a finalist for the more prestigious player of the year award, which will be announced later). The brilliance of the team's performance earned Michigan the #3 overall seed in the NCAA tournament and the right to host a regional and, if they win through, a super-regional as well.
Three teams will be coming to Ann Arbor this weekend with their eyes on a trip to the super-regionals. We'll look at Oakland, the #4 seed in the region, first, since they're our Friday opponent, then at #2 seed California and #3 seed Pittsburgh after that.
[After the jump.]
Winston On Campus
2016 U of D Jesuit point guard Cassius Winston, the #23 overall prospect on the 247 Composite, is expected to be on campus today for an unofficial visit, per The Michigan Insider's* Kyle Bogenschutz ($). With two bigs already in the fold—albeit with rumblings that Austin Davis could reclassify to 2017—and Tyus Battle adding a dynamic wing to the class, getting a point guard will be the main focus going forward, and there's little question Winston is at the top of Michigan's wish list.
Winston's father told Bogenschutz that this is still a battle between the Wolverines and Michigan State. Winston will have a little more time to focus on recruiting in the near future, as a broken wrist suffered last weekend will sideline him the next 6-8 weeks.
Step Into The Octagon. For Football. I Think.
ExposureU teams w NFL QBs & trainers for a 1 day Aerial Assault. First ever 2016, 2017, 2018, & 2019 QB Cage Match! pic.twitter.com/Kw93lkmjlQ
— Coach Harbaugh (@CoachJim4UM) May 13, 2015
Jim Harbaugh announced a quarterback camp to coincide with Michigan's Exposure U Presented By Troll God camp. The available details are limited to the above for now. Colin Kaepernick! Jay Cutler! Denard Robinson! Jameis Winston! Uh... Zac Robinson! A F****** FIGHTER JET! CAAAAAAAAAAAGE MAAAAAAAATCH!
You know what? The fewer details we add to the above, the better. Stay tuned for an indeterminate time until QB ARMAGEDDON.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup]
high-rez sticker courtesy Dr. Sap's Archives
[Ed (Seth) note: This article appeared in the 2010 edition of Hail to the Victors. Because they're bringing the stickers back, we thought to bring this article back.
Author John Kryk is all over the latest HTTV, with an original piece on the 1985 football team and an excerpt from his latest book Stagg vs. Yost: The Birth of Cutthroat Football, wherein Yost used horizontal offensive attacks and fast tempo to bewilder our chief rivals.
If you'd like to get our book, you have 4 days to get in on the Kickstarter.
If you'd like to get Kryk's book, it is scheduled to go on sale in mid-July and can be pre-ordered direct from the publisher.
A huge thanks to Dr. Sap and readers who sent in their pics of stickers.
Wolverines On Your Head
|Back of Derrick Walker's helmet from 1989, now in possession of reader Rob Graham.|
By John Kryk
When Jim Mandich, Dan Dierdorf and the '69 Wolverines dumped Woody Hayes' dream team, they sported reward stickers on the backs of their famous winged helmets.
So did Rick Leach when he led Michigan to two Big Ten championship victories in Ohio Stadium. And Anthony Carter when he caught that 45-yard lightning bolt from John Wangler against Indiana. And Jim Harbaugh when he crushed the Buckeyes back-to-back. And Leroy Hoard and Tyrone Wheatley when they ran roughshod in different Rose Bowl wins. And Desmond Howard when he made The Catch against Notre Dame, and when he struck The Pose against OSU. And Remy Hamilton when he gut-kicked Lou Holtz and the Irish.
But Michigan players' helmets haven't featured those maize, football-shaped reward stickers since Lloyd Carr took over for Gary Moeller in 1995.
It was a tradition begun at Michigan by Bo Schembechler in 1969. And, no, Bo wasn't copying Woody Hayes—as almost everyone today believes, especially the mouth-readers south of Lake Erie. The accepted story today is that Hayes’s 1968 Ohio State Buckeyes inaugurated the college football tradition of placing reward stickers on their helmets after each game. An ESPN.com feature story in 2008 reiterated that it “all started with those buckeye leaves.”
Only it didn’t. Guess who beat Woody to the punch, even within the state of Ohio? Why, none other than Bo. It was Schembechler, Hayes’s most famous pupil and eventual arch-rival, who’d begun the practice in 1965 at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.
courtesy Miami University Libraries
[At the Jump: how the bird poo got on the Buckeye helmets, right before the guy who invented the stickers brought them to Ann Arbor]
Via his instagram:
My past four years here at the University of Michigan have been great! Nothing but love and appreciation for Ann Arbor, the faculty, the coaches, the support staff and the great fans but after many sleepless nights and much prayer I have decided to play my final year of eligibility elsewhere. I truly thank those that have been there for me and hope you would continue to do so. #ForeverGoBlue
That is a blow to Michigan's secondary. Countess was the leading candidate to start opposite Jourdan Lewis, give or take a Wayne Lyons, and even in the event he lost the job he figured to see considerable playing time spotting various guys in the secondary.
Countess struggled mightily last year as Michigan transitioned to a man press style, but was an All Big Ten performer as a sophomore in a zone system. It is possible that Michigan apparently rededicating themselves to the aggressive system they had to ditch midseason last year may have precipitated a transfer. Either that or the usual transition stuff compounded by the availability of immediate eligibility elsewhere.
Other than Lyons, the main beneficiaries of Countess's departure figure to be Brandon Watson and Channing Stribling. Watson was impressive in the spring game and has a ton of experience as a press corner; Stribling was promising as a freshman before a relatively anonymous sophomore year.
Countess was set to be a fifth year senior so this doesn't impact recruiting classes going forward; it does end any questions about if any contributing walk-ons would get stiffed. If anyone else leaves Michigan would have a spot to add another fifth year transfer.
Godspeed, Mr. Countess.
It's apparently that arbitrary down time in the offseason when I take a look back at Brian's recruiting profiles for the class that just finished their time at Michigan. In this case, that class is the infamous 2010 group, the last full class brought in by Rich Rodriguez during his time at Michigan.
So, uh, you've been forewarned.
I'll start with the nine offensive players in the class, five of whom were wide receivers. If that sounds like a strange and dangerous way to contruct a roster, you may be a longtime reader of this here blog. Or maybe you just watched the offensive line the last few years. Either/or, really.
We're Really Sorry About The Coaching Thing
As a Pioneer grad, I have no idea how Pioneer won this game.
By the time Brian wrote up Devin Gardner's profile, he'd already enrolled at Michigan and participated in the spring game. The comparison that came up the most in his profile—and, really, the most reasonable one to make at the time—is a pretty good indication of the level of expectation for Gardner's college career:
Why Vince Young? The combination of size, speed, a wonky throwing motion, and the multiple comparisons from gurus tips the balance over to Young, who redshirted despite being the top prospect in the country and didn't come into his own as a passer until he played Michigan in the Rose Bowl—awesome timing!
Guru Reliability: High. Ton of exposure to him. Elite 11 camp, UA game, all that stuff.
General Excitement Level: Towering. Vast. Expansive.
Gardner, of course, stayed on track—except for the cameo at wide receiver—by looking like a future star when he took the reins after Denard Robinson's injury in 2012, and while he had some disappointing outings in 2013, those were largely chalked up to the O-line and playcalling. It came off the rails last year for a host of reasons covered so thoroughly they're not worth bringing up again. Needless to say, reading through his profile leaves one with serious what-could've-been feels.
[Hit THE JUMP for Dramatic Cupcake Hopkins and, well, mostly disappointment.]