well that's just, like, your opinion, man
So this happened, and it's kind of a big deal if you like hockey:
— Big Ten Hockey (@B1GHockey) March 23, 2016
Assorted takes to follow.
Yes, it's a good idea
There's been a ton of bitching about this move on both sides, which I expect from NDNationers literally still upset about something that happened in 1910. I expected less of that from the Michigan side of things but our thread here is about 80% "f*** Notre Dame." I wish Bo had never said "to hell with Notre Dame." It is the crying Jordan of things Bo said.
I downvote all of you metaphorically. Michigan and Notre Dame should play. In hockey, in football, in whatever. Curling. Sure, curling. They have a strong AD and quality revenue programs, they are a historical rival, they are a geographic fit. Not playing them—not wanting to play them—is juvenile.
This goes double for hockey given the situation the Big Ten finds itself in. Simply put, the schedule is much better off with four games against the Irish than it is without those games. (Especially because those will be home-and-home weekends.) The league is much better off with Jeff Jackson in it than outside of it.
The downside is… what, exactly? Notre Dame will feel less pressure to join the Big Ten in all sports? If you think hockey factors into that decision one iota I have news for you.
No, don't add Arizona State
A seven team conference is a bit odd but is doable. The league schedule expands to 24 games, one team is on a bye they can fill with a nonconference series every week, it's fine. FWIW, Brad Traviola says an eighth team is not currently on the table:
Notre Dame makes seven, and Big Ten deputy commissioner Brad Traviolia said there are no current plans to expand to eight. Some Illinois and Nebraska fans wish their club team would upgrade to varsity, but such a move requires major funding and proper facilities.
Moving to eight gets tricky. Options:
- 28 game conference schedule. With 28 conference games your nonconference gets very restricted. Michigan and MSU are in the GLI every year and the cap is 34, leaving just four slots for new teams. This was the worst thing about the 12-team CCHA.
- 14 game conference schedule. Opposite problem, nowhere near enough.
- Two divisions of four, 20 game conference schedule. This was more or less the CCHA's solution after they went to 12. They rotated pairs of teams through groups of four so the schedule did change up.
- Play everyone three times, 21 game conference schedule. Logistically difficult. Some of the odd games could be taken care of in switch weekends like the old College Hockey Showcase. M would travel to Minnesota for Friday and head to Wisconsin on Saturday while MSU did the opposite, that sort of thing. The eighth team would probably have to be a geographic pair for Penn State, though, and there isn't one that makes sense. I mean, Robert Morris is in Pittsburgh but do we want to add Robert Morris?
All of these have costs in a way that adding team #7 does not, and so the hypothetical eighth team had better be worth it. A team in freakin' Arizona with zero history is not worth it, especially when the Big Ten does not need another RPI anchor. Arizona State doesn't have a name brand in any sport, let alone hockey.
Yes maybe add someone else
There are teams that would be worth it if they were amenable. Foremost is North Dakota, a fierce rival of Minnesota and Wisconsin who Michigan also has a ton of history with. North Dakota is an incredibly well-supported program that would bring a buzz to Yost every time they showed up.
As a Midwest-ish state flagship school, North Dakota fits the Big Ten reasonably well. Bringing them in would mitigate some of the Minnesota hate for the new arrangement. It would improve the overall quality of play. It avoids some of the optics problems with adding a school with a bunch of other D-I programs—North Dakota is D-II in everything else. [Update: this is no longer true.] If they want in the Big Ten would be dumb to say no.
Would they? I think they probably would. Despite being perennially one of college hockey's best teams, just four North Dakota games were on national TV this year. From the Big Ten's perspective you do get a small bump by adding North Dakota, the state, to the footprint. And as mentioned, UND-Minnesota was the fiercest rivalry in college hockey once Michigan State went into the crapper. (And probably before that.) NoDak is the easy #1 choice.
If the Artists Formerly Known As Sioux don't want to come, there are other programs that would be worth it:
- Miami. Quality program with a new rink. Hating on Enrico Blasi is great fun. Geographic fit makes three-game league configuration feasible.
- Whichever Minnesota program the Gophers want. St. Cloud, UMD, whatever. Good programs that will be good in the future. Mitigates Gopher hatred of new league. Geographic fit.
- Western or Ferris. Neither team is going to knock your socks off with their on-ice performance but they are a geographic fit and old CCHA rivals.
Let's Play Hockey suggested Miami along with Arizona State, UConn, and UNO. Only Miami should be a viable contender amongst those schools. UConn has most of the baggage ASU does and is already in Hockey East. The only reason they would join the Big Ten is in the faint hope that would be a prelude to joining in all sports, and see Notre-Dame-to-the-Big-Ten-in-all-sports above for my take on that. UNO is a good program vaguely in the footprint but it's not much better or worse than a lot of schools a lot closer.
Notre Dame keeping its NBC contract is good
This is not the right take at all:
Keeping the TV contract is what actually surprises me the most about Notre Dame to B1G in hockey. B1G flinched. https://t.co/cQ4i3ifJwG
— Matt Wellens (@mattwellens) March 22, 2016
This isn't basketball or football. The BTN cannot televise all of its hockey. Other channels pick up games for the rest of the league all the time; there is no reason not to allow Notre Dame to do the same. Meanwhile now I know two road games will definitely be on a channel I get. From a fan's perspective anything that gets a game on TV is good; the NBC contract takes pressure off the Big Ten Network's limited programming space.
Now we can definitely do the State Championship thing
Trophies are good [Patrick Barron]
Notre Dame now becomes an obvious choice to fill out the field for the Michigan hockey championship I've been advocating since the dissolution of the CCHA. There are seven hockey programs in Michigan spread across three conferences now; they should play each other, and they should give someone a trophy for it.
Add Notre Dame in now and divide the eight teams into groups of four that switch annually. Michigan and MSU are never in the same group. Two WCHA teams are in each group. Hypothetical groups:
|Group A||Group B|
|Ferris State||Michigan Tech|
|Northern Michigan||Notre Dame|
Each team plays the others twice. Teams in the same conference have an early-season conference series that counts towards the standings without adding additional nonconference commitments. The top two in each group advance to the GLI. The bottom two play a consolation round at the Joe either a couple days before or at the same time. Hand out a big ass trophy to the winner.
This is a:
- Six-game commitment for the WCHA teams, ND, and one of M/MSU.
- Eight-game commitment for M/MSU every other year and WMU.
Michigan, MSU, and MTU have already committed two of those games with their annual participation in the GLI. With a 24 game conference schedule Michigan would have 2-4 dates to play with annually and could still go out to Boston, play a tomato can, that sort of thing.
It is doable, and it would make the GLI a bigger event. It would provide a semblance of the old CCHA and amp up early season nonconference games. It's more or less adding an FA Cup to the college hockey schedule. The state of Minnesota would probably follow suit in short order.
Maybe things can start making sense now
ND to the Big Ten makes sense. Could this be a new era of not shooting yourself in the foot in college hockey? Please Tiny Jesus make it so:
No regional sites have been selected past 2017. And, according to Kristin Fasbender, the NCAA’s director of championships and alliances, the committee and the college hockey body as a whole will explore whether a new structure to the regional portion of the tournament, which could include playing games at campus sites, is a more viable option.
“I think there is continued conversation about [changing the regionals],” said Fasbender. “The committee keeps talking about what [the tournament] looks like when we go forward.
“We’re in a year here where at our four regional sites, none of our host institutions are in them. So I think we’ll continue to have this conversation as we get into the championship in Tampa and at the coaches’ association meetings in April and the [NCAA Division I men's ice hockey] committee meetings in June and trying to talk more about what we want to continue to look at globally for the whole tournament as we go forward.”
It's long past time to move to campus sites. North Dakota earned the opportunity to host a regional. Instead they're in Cincinnati, playing in front of nobody. But I'm a broken record about neutral site college hockey.
Don't overlook this sick Rutgers burn
Red on the move:
“Expansion is brought up every time the Big Ten is mentioned so (the move) is a good step in the right direction,” Berenson said. “It makes sense geographically. It’s not like we’re going out to play Rutgers or something. We’re playing a team that is in the Big Ten footprint.”
Oh snap, Delany.
The Question: How does Kyle Connor compare vs. the Michigan forwards you've seen?
David: So, my first year of season tickets at Yost was my junior year in college, 05-06. I vaguely watched Michigan hockey in the previous years before, but I made a concerted effort to follow the team, game-by-game, during that 05-06 campaign. I went to a couple of games (and watched a few more on tv) during my first couple years and I remember them losing to BC in '04 and the Colorado College Collapse in '05, but my serious Michigan Hockey fandom began the following season. I just looked up a ton of stats from that 04-05 team and they scored A TON. Eight skaters had double digit goals and thirteen (!!) had 20+ points. Unfortunately, I'll have to let our resident old dudes talk about Tambellini, Hilbert, and Cammalleri.
From what I've seen, I think Connor has to be the best. Not only does his pedigree match up (torched the USHL), but his exquisite skill (see the GTG on Saturday) and sheer volume of production -69 points in only 36 games- exceed anyone else in the last decade (Hensick took 41 games to get 69 points).
My quick Top 5:
5. Carl Hagelin. Our favorite Swede never quite got to 20 goals and only once to 50 points. Hagelin was a terrific skater, a terror on the PK, and maybe the fastest I've seen at Yost. Just never hit Elite in terms of production. He's carving out a nice NHL career, though.
[After the JUMP: Comrie, Cam, Ort, Hagelin, Larkin, Porter, Hensick, Tambo…?]
Orchard Lake St. Mary's linebacker Josh Ross followed in his brother James' footsteps when he announced his commitment to Michigan yesterday morning. The younger Ross showed strong interest in the Wolverines since he emerged as a freshman starter at OLSM; such strong interest, in fact, that according to Steve Lorenz other coaches saw his commitment as a foregone conclusion:
Well over two seasons ago, a coach on another staff offered Ross. When I asked them about their belief in their chances, the answer was pretty simple.
"He's going to Michigan," they said. "We just really like him and his family, so we offered so I could keep in contact with them."
With Ross, it was never really a matter of who he was going to choose, it was when.
In spite of this, Ross put together one of the more impressive offer sheets in the Midwest. He's Michigan's sixth commit in the 2017 class, the first at linebacker, and the third from in-state, joining Oak Park OT JaRaymond Hall and Brother Rice TE Carter Dunaway.
4*, #10 ILB,
4*, #9 OLB,
4*, 81, #11 OLB,
4*, 92, #6 ILB,
4*, #7 ILB,
While the four sites are split as to whether Ross is an inside or outside linebacker, they're generally in concordance on his ability—all have him in the 150-250 range overall. Ross is a good prospect who's not quite in the elite tier.
There's most disparity regarding his size. Rivals lists him at 6'0", 219 pounds; ESPN at 6'1", 220; Scout and 247 at 6'2, 225.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the post.]
[Huge thanks to Steve Sharik for getting a lot of this for me]
He's got nickel down. Also Sam, Rover, Money, Jaguar, Tractor, Dog, Pup, Cat, Bandit, Greyhound, and Aardvark. Read on to find out which two of those are not actually Don Brown positions that Peppers will play. [Bryan Fuller]
We had some bona fide MGoDudes attend the coaching clinic and the open practice in Florida, and they've reported back with a wealth of information about the new Michigan defense.
Coach Steve Sharik is writing up a full feature on it for HTTV, and in the course of editing that we went through all of the standard (and some of the non-standard) positions and terminology. I thought that would be extremely valuable to those of us trying to parse the coachspeak all spring, and figure out exactly what position various Guys and Dudes and whatnot are playing.
This week I thought I'd tackle the 4-man fronts that Michigan will run as their base defense. Brown also has myriad 3-man fronts (whence Winovich) that I'll get into next week.
Here are the two basic 4-man, or as Brown calls 'em, "70" fronts: 71 and 72.
These two alignments we'll see most of the time on standard downs, with personnel changing based on what the offense has in there. If you didn't spot the difference between 71 and 72, it's how the nose and end are aligned. In the first the nose is over the center (a 1-technique) and the end is in a 5-technique off the weakside OT. In 72 those guys have shifted over some, putting the nose over the guard (2-technique) so the end can split out wider. The first is stronger against inside runs, the second gives the end an easier path to pass rush or play a zone read.
And here are the base positions:
Let's meet them.
[After the jump: What's an "A", what's the difference between a Sam, a Jaguar, and a Money, and what the hell is Peppers?]
So Jay, how’s your new house? I saw you bought a house on Twitter.
“Uh, I have no heat. Gas got shut off even though I tried to not have it shut off, so I haven’t slept there yet. No heat. It’s about 35 degrees in there. Not great.”
MGoQuestion: Are you guys still going to use the shield punt formation this year?
“We’re going to have a bunch of different things. Shield will be one of the things that we do. I think we’re going to be kind of hybrid—a little bit of everything.”
MGoFollowUp: What led to that decision?
“To basically change it up?”
MGoWe’reOnTheSamePage: To switch it up, yeah.
“I think when you look at what teams are doing nationally I think out of 120 teams probably 75 or so, maybe 65-75 that are some variation of hybrid, meaning they’re not really pro-style, they’re not really shield, they kind of go back and forth; it’s a little harder to identify. Those are the teams that generally have the most success, so probably go that route.”
We saw a lot of Wheatley working with Butt and that first group when we were in Florida. How has that evolved? Is he still among those fighting for that other spot?
“Yeah. I mean, we traveled six guys to all the games so there’s really no other spot to be won. There’s certain jobs to be won, maybe, in terms of, ‘Hey, you’re going to do this role on this play’ but I wouldn’t think of it like that in terms of ‘Hey, this guy’s fighting for that third tight end spot.’
“We want to put guys in positions to do things that they’re good at anyway, but he is doing well and he’s one of that group of guys that kind of rotates with the ones. There’s really four or five of them, though.”
With a guy like Jake, as good as he is and experienced, how much of a comfort is he for whoever emerges at quarterback to know that Jake’s probably going to be open and he’s probably going to catch the ball?
“I would imagine it’s pretty nice. I don’t know for sure but I’d imagine that’s a pretty great thing to have him and Amara and then eventually Jehu out there. That’s got to make you feel really good throwing the ball.”
Can Kenny [Allen] punt and kick field goals if needed?
“Certainly. Yeah, Kenny’s very good and he has a very good sense of how much he can handle physically and he’s not going to wear himself out, so he can certainly do it all.”
Doesn’t seem like an ideal situation though, is it?
“Mm, no. Ideally yeah, you’d have a different person for everything but the really ideal thing is to have the best guy at each spot. If he happens to be the best guy at each spot then we’re good with that, but there’s still a long ways to go. And those guys, that’s one position where you can really develop quite a bit in the offseason more so than some other spots where it’s more just strength and conditioning. Specialists can actually improve their craft more than some other spots, I think.”
Have you had a chance to do many returns yet, and are there any different guys mixing in than what we saw last fall?
“I wouldn’t say different expect for new guys like Kareem [Walker]. But Jehu and Jourdan Lewis, Jabrill, Dymonte [Thomas], Kareem. I mean, I think that group as a whole is really, really good. I’d be surprised if there’s a better group as a whole in the country. All those guys are pretty dangerous.”
You mentioned four or five other tight ends. Who’s in that group, and is it a little deeper than it was last year, would you say?
“Umm, it probably is. I mean, at one point or another this spring we’ve had Jake [Butt], Ian [Bunting], TJ [Wheatley], and Sean McKeon and Gentry with the ones obviously doing different things. I’d like to put everyone in a position to succeed. TJ can do things different than Gentry; just naturally they’re very different body types and they have different strengths and weaknesses at this point. But yeah, at one point or another each of those guys has been with the ones.”
[After THE JUMP: Jake Butt, best tight end in America; recruiting a dominant trait; why Gentry moved to TE; Ol’ Skillet Hands hype]
Donovan Peoples-Jones is ridiculous
Love the guy in the background who loses it:
— Chris Huff (@Performance80FS) March 21, 2016
Yes, that is Devin Gardner in the background, and he has some box jumping skill himself:
— Donovan P. Jones (@dpeoplesjones) March 22, 2016
No update on his recruitment but hanging out with Gardner can't hurt now that Al Borges is gone.
— Zach Shaw (@_ZachShaw) March 22, 2016
Michigan picked up commits from MI LB Josh Ross and 2018 OH LB Antwaun Johnson over the past couple days; Johnson's hello post was updated earlier today; Ross gets his turn tomorrow. Both are four-star types. Ross cited Don Brown's defense as a major attraction:
“Just based on what he showed me with that defense, it fits me perfectly. I just can’t pass the opportunity up. I just had to take it. He really blitzes his linebackers. I know last year there was a couple of plays where I got right through on blitzes, and I’m getting better and better at blitzing. That’s a lot of what he does and I can see myself in his system.”
Older brother James was born four years too early. Would have been a Don Brown dude for sure.
The potato door opens in 2018
Ross was always likely to follow his brother to Ann Arbor, but Johnson is an alpaca out of nowhere. His commit is a significant one for Michigan since Jim Harbaugh hadn't exactly emphasized a nearby state with a lot of talent (and Michigan's main rival) in it. Since Harbaugh's arrival only Nolan Ulizio, a late flier Michigan flipped from UConn, has fled the potato state for the friendly confines of Ann Arbor.
So. Johnson is not only a very good player in his own right but also a thorn in OSU's side. He is also the teammate of OH DE/DT Leonard Taylor, an early five-star in the 2018 class. Taylor visited along with Johnson and came back making positive noises:
"It was an A+ visit," he said. "Definitely an A+. It was really an eye-opening visit for me to see Michigan in person. It definitely had an at-home feeling to it. I didn't feel out of place there."
More significantly, he immediately scheduled a return trip for the Spring Game. Two visits in a month and a teammate committed should give Michigan a very real shot at landing Taylor. Lorenz has a "hunch" that Taylor pulls the trigger in the near future in Michigan's favor, which is… rather something, that.
every recruit gets their Peppers photo, including Jaelen Gill.
In addition to the Springfield duo, Michigan also hosted 247's early #1 in the state, OH RB Jaelen Gill. He returned from that visit downright effusive:
"Academics, the atmosphere, the campus life, and great football," he said of the Wolverines. "The people at Michigan are wonderful."
That's a really short article but there are a couple more very encouraging quotes in it all the same. Lorenz followed up with an Inside Michigan Recruiting in which he states the visit "couldn't have gone much better"… but that he's still guessing OSU. Even so the vibe is great, man.
Per a guy on Bucknuts, Gill is not a native Ohioan and is in fact from New Jersey originally. So… all of a sudden it's not too far fetched that Michigan gets three of the top five in the 2018 Ohio class. Harbaugh? Harbaugh.
AJ Harris may or may not be on commit watch
AL S AJ Harris also came up for a visit and was momentarily expected to commit yesterday. That did not happen, obviously. Harris remains very high on Michigan, naming them his outright leader after the visit:
“They are my top school,” said Harris. “They are just from the academic standpoint. One of the best out of any school I have visited and by far the best coaching staff that you will get at the college level."
Lorenz fired off a crystal ball, and it sounds like Harris is just letting things marinate before pulling the trigger. If there is a complication it would be on Michigan's end, as they have guys like MI S Jaylen Kelly-Powell high on their board.
Hansard announces announcement
— Fred Hansard (@Fred_Hansard56) March 18, 2016
NJ DT Fred Hansard will announce his destination on May 14th, his birthday. Michigan is amongst his seven finalists and his destination is very much am mystery. His crystal ball has a couple Rutgers picks from Guys Who Hilariously Pick Rutgers For Every High Profile NJ Recruit, a couple Penn State picks from Guy Who Fires Off A Guess At Every Recruit In The Country, and then the Temple 247 guy goes with M.
Bill Kurelic notes that in his tweet he "appears to be wearing an Ohio State helmet" and let's see if there might be a reason for that…
Sullivan thinks it's Penn State, FWIW.
Spring practice visitors
AJ Dillon, a LB/RB out of Massachusetts, is on campus right now. Early yet; Michigan is in a top five with Wisconsin, ND, FSU, and Virginia. Meanwhile Sam Webb reports a bunch of guys came in for practice on Monday. One, Ross, already committed, and AJ Harris may be next.
Another interesting name is PA OL CJ Thorpe, who told Brice March that he is "extremely interested" and will pare his list down after a couple more unofficials. Thorpe told Lorenz he had a "sense of comfort" in Ann Arbor and that he would like to return for a fuller experience. This one would be a brutal blow to Penn State if Michigan can pull it off… he's a legacy.
Top X lists, tentative visits, you know the drill
- PA RB D'Andre Swift has Michigan amongst a long list of schools that he intends to visit. That list includes anyone who's anyone. Also Penn State. He does not tip his hand in any particular direction in the above article.
- AL WR Nico Collins doesn't have a top four but his top four is Michigan, Georgia, Bama, and Clemson. Bud Elliott also lists his height at a Funchess-esque 6'5". Collins just impressed at a regional Opening camp ("precise in his routes, caught everything with his hands and did it all on a 200-plus pound frame") and will visit for the Spring Game.
- CN by way of FL WR Josh Palmer got his first offer from Michigan and has been on campus; he tells Tim Sullivan that he wants to see a few other Big Ten schools like Illinois and Maryland and sure let's just put Syracuse in the Big Ten because they're a mediocre program that might have some television subscribers attached. Uh. Then he will fire off a commit after spring. Michigan could be the choice but I'd be surprised if they took a three-star early when they aren't going to have big numbers at the spot and they are after Collins and Peoples-Jones.
- Three star NJ OL Joshua Fedd-Jackson has a top three of UNC, Rutgers, and Michigan. He plans an early April visit to M… but probably not for the spring game since he'll be at UNC that weekend.
- Three star CA WR/TE Grant Calcaterra will drop by Michigan on a seven-school Midwest tour. Calcaterra is a former teammate of 2016 signee Dylan Crawford and his list is academically-oriented, so if Michigan decides they've got room for him they'll likely be in it to the end.
- Michigan offered TX CB Kary Vincent Jr, wants to visit, no definite plan, no top list. "Loves" Harbaugh, FWIW.
- NV CB Alex Perry didn't want to leave the West before a Michigan offer came in; now he wants to get out for Unspecified Visit. He's got an odd list for a four star guy: he decommitted from Arizona State, visited TCU, and talks up Colorado some. As always, wait to see if he actually sets foot on campus.
- FL CB Randall Haynie has a top five of M, Duke, Vandy, Wisconsin, and WVU. Grew up watching Denard, knows O'Korn, academic-oriented top five… if Michigan pursues they'll be in it.
Grudging 2018 mentions of the week
— Brice Marich (@BriceMarich) March 21, 2016
NV QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson visited and put Michigan high on his list, as you can see above. He seems, uh, enthused:
— DorianThompsonRob... (@DoriansTweets) March 21, 2016
Thompson-Robinson has that Harbaugh Let's Capitalize Every Word thing going on, and his twitter handle was carefully curated by Jon Bois.
Significantly, that tweet follows visits to Florida State, Michigan State and Ohio State. He hasn't gotten a flood of offers yet; if Michigan does send one out he's likely to be in the 2018 class.
IN LB Pete Werner fired off a commitment to ND shortly after visiting both ND and Michigan. Indiana Catholic school kid was always an uphill battle. Lorenz notes that KS TE Trevor Kent is trending to Oklahoma on the crystal ball and could commit this weekend on a trip to Norman.