|WHAT||Michigan (19-11, 11-5 B10)
PSU (16-12-4, 8-7-1 B10)
|WHERE||Pegula Ice Arena,
State College PA
|WHEN||7 PM Friday
3 PM Saturday
|TV||BTN plus (ie: no)|
[@ right: Bill Rapai]
It says something that Penn State's farm-fresh program has become instantly competitive in the Big Ten. Half of that is Penn State, which is regularly selling out and has an attractive hockey-specific arena to offer.
The other half is the worrisome state of the league.
Things seemed a bit more worrisome three weeks ago, when Penn State was 7-2-1 in the Big Ten and had vague at-large hopes. Since they've been in a tailspin, losing five of their last six.
THE GENTLEMEN OF NOTE
Taylor Holstrom, Casey Bailey, and David Goodwin. Addressed as a group because they are a group. Penn State has a very legit top line. You can see it in the plus-minus: these guys range from +12 to +14; there's a second-ish line that's just above even, and then you get into minuses.
Bailey leads PSU in scoring with a 21-16-37 line. 1) that production has continued in the Big Ten (10-10-20), and 2) a lot of that production is even strength, with just 4 PP goals.
Holstrom is the setup man with a 7-22-33 line.
Goodwin is a highly productive third wheel at 13-16-29.
PSU has another three or four guys who are somewhat productive depending on whether you're looking at the season as a whole or just the Big Ten. Scoring threat drops off relatively swiftly after that.
Michigan would be advised to try to line-match the Copp line against the Penn State gunners, but that'll be more difficult on the road.
All three Penn State goalies have seen significant time this year. Over the last month the competition has narrowed to juniors Matthew Skoff and PJ Musico. Musico has a solid .923 save percentage but has struggled somewhat lately; Skoff is at .905. Despite that disparity, Skoff has seen twice as much time as Musico.
Skoff and Musico both gave up five goals last weekend to Ohio State, so your guess is as good as any. Whoever gets the Friday start will see playing time Saturday contingent on his performance.
THE SPECIAL TEAMS
Penn State's power play is effective at 22%; their penalty kill is weak at 80%. Similar to Michigan except slightly worse in both categories.
THE LAST TIME
PSU and Michigan split a series at Yost back in November. Penn State scraped out a frustrating-for-M 3-2 win in a game they got outshot 40-28. The next night Michigan bombed 'em 8-1 in a game where shots were a lot closer. Hockey is weird.
Michigan has a three point (ie: one game) lead on Minnesota for the Big Ten title, with MSU and PSU lurking around .500 further back. A sweep guarantees Michigan a piece of the title if they get at least a split from the MSU home and home finale; drop points, as Michigan has been wont to do of late, and they'll be relying on Meh Minnesota to help 'em out. (They've done that, splitting their last two series.)
Even more importantly, Michigan is the definition of a bubble team in the pairwise. They have four games left against .500-ish teams, and three are on the road—going 3-1 in this stretch should see them enter the Big Ten Tourney with a good shot at an at-large bid even if they don't get the auto. Anything worse and things start to look dicey.
If Michigan does end up hunting an auto-bid they would very much like to do so from one of the bye spots in the Big Ten tournament. Two games in two days is much easier than three in three.
Penn State's got a decent record but they've got a very bad SOS number so they're definitely on the outside looking in when it comes to an at-large. They are five points back of second place in the league and the second bye, so that's likely their goal.
If Michigan can keep the top line contained with the Copp line and use Hyman and Larkin to strike at the relatively soft underbelly of the Penn State roster… they could still be undone by randos unchecked in the slot and bad goaltending. But this does look like a relatively good matchup for Michigan: a team that's been scuffling that doesn't punish mistakes much save for the guys everyone needs to be alert for.
Here's hoping they can get 1-0-1 or better.
a more pleasant item to lead the blog
When I write a thing of that length that I figure will stand as one of the things people think about when they think about MGoBlog, I like to talk about the aftermath.
WHY. A number of protests were lodged about why I wouldn't just leave the past in the past and move on. There are multiple reasons that post needed to happen.
- I needed an elucidation of the argument I couldn't quite make when I was on with Dan Dakich in the aftermath of the email article. The way in which Brandon screwed up so hard with Morris was a natural result of the way he approached every petty problem he met previously, an indication that he was a terrible leader for reasons both private and public.
- This is a space that tries to document what happens to Michigan. I got the same complaints about my Rich Rodriguez obit. We mostly look backwards here, talking about what has happened. Not having a summary of the Brandon era would have been a glaring omission. I do these for players annually, usually in the magazine. Hoke will get a (much less incendiary) recap as well.
- Never forget. For this to not happen again we must identify the problem and remain vigilant against its recurrence. Those who forget history, etc.
Now that I've said my piece we can move on. Harbaugh excelsior.
WHY NOW. A variant on the previous bullet:
Brian's post has no new information or even new feelings or analysis of information he compiled. It doesn't even have information or ideas new to his own previous posts on this blog. Why did he do this? I'm genuinely curious. It's like a political post mortem in The New Republic or Investor's Business Daily against a vanquished foe, but an untimely one. Has the piece been on his desktop for the last several months awaiting completion? Was he waiting for additional DB shoes to drop that would need inclusion? Was it an incredible stream-of-consciouness thing that just kinda poured out of him over a few very intense hours? I don't know, but I'd like to. Brian?
I will say that it is very clearly grave dancing, but it's Baryshnikov or Shakira cutting the rug, or dirt or whatever (apologies to dance fans if these examples are crap, but you get the picture).
Brandon was canned during football season, when time for a 5k word piece was not available. Then we had the coaching search, which sucked up all available oxygen—I barely thought about this piece until Harbaugh was in the boat. After that was the recruiting sprint to Signing Day. All of these things took precedence; now that we're past all that it was time.
FWIW, the piece was assembled in bursts, with a slim majority of it coming together in the last couple days.
On calling someone a piece of shit human being. Some protests about that phrasing. This seems like different borders for a term. Complaints about it tended to invoke physical violence against innocents, ISIS, Boko Haram, assertions verging on Godwin and occasionally directly invoking it. I would file such things under "evil," "monstrous," etc. Being a shitty person doesn't rise to that level.
I did get a very long, well-argued email from a walk-on who had been around for a portion of the Brandon era asking me to separate out my critiques of the man from critiques of the athletic director. It cited a number of positive personal interactions with Brandon, and it's true that the one group of people universally in his corner are student-athletes. John U Bacon invited me to present a guest lecture to one of his classes this fall; as fate would have it that date landed about ten days after the Morris incident. Bacon's class was split about down the middle between athletes and regular students, and when I expressed my opinion about Brandon bluntly I got equally blunt pushback from a couple of the athletes.
I appreciate that point of view. I reject it all the same. Brandon was clearly not an asshole to all people. That does not excuse the careers he shattered for little or no reason or the condescension to people trying to talk to him politely. I still can't get over the guy taking shots at some emailer's marriage when he was being painfully polite whilst trying to explain why Brandon had caused him an issue by telling his wife to find a new team. It doesn't excuse the relentless strip-mining of Michigan's primary asset, fan goodwill, in order to make the spreadsheet numbers go in the right direction. It doesn't excuse the constant litany of untruths culminating in a five-day firestorm based on the fact that Brandon's first reaction to any crisis was to lie.
I believe his interactions with the student-athletes were genuine and positive. I don't judge people based on how they treat their most favored class of person. Nixon had a dog, after all.
On giving money to Mott. There's a parable about this.
On cancer kid. It's easy to be nice to kids with cancer, especially when you trumpet it from the mountain. It's standard practice to be open to Make-a-Wish; not doing so results in major backlash and Brandon's not a literal psychopath. When these arguments are made I always think of the Chris Rock bit about how you're not SUPPOSED to go to jail, you low-expectations-havin' mofo.
On the civility of the previous bullet point. Not very civil, I agree. I did weigh that, but I felt that pulling punches in any way here was 1) not going to be credible and 2) did a disservice to the lesson learned. I often write swears in first drafts that get edited out later, sometimes to my regret. There is something about the well-placed expletive that gets a point across in a way I cannot seem to replicate with less naughty language, and this was a full-auto post.
On the shittiness of those emails. From user Evenyoubrutus:
What convinced me of how clueless he really was was his email that said "I suggest you find a new team to support." This was clear proof that he was still trying to sell pizzas instead of honoring the tradition of Michigan Football. Yes, if you don't like Domino's, try Pizza Hut. But I don't have over two decades of memories of sitting down at Domino's with my dad since I was a fucking CHILD eating the pizza, and memorobilia of Domino's items and memories in my house, and I don't dream of sharing the same experiences eating Domino's with my young boys, or memories of watching Domino's win championships and feeling some of the happiest moments of my life because Domino's! "Find a new team to support" Okay. Ass.
On things I missed. Inevitably there were going to be issues and problems with the Brandon era I missed, even in a post pushing 5k words. A selection:
- BursleyHall82 reminds us that it was only a sustained campaign from MVictors that finally got Brandon to relent and allow Willis Ward to be honored and his story told.
- I did not mention "The Process" via which Rodriguez was fired. That two-day dog and pony show was a quintessential example of doing something ostentatious to look impressive instead of just getting it over with quickly. Hackett fired Hoke and announced it in about 10 minutes, because he is not concerned with looking impressive. (Hackett occasionally dresses like Seinfeld's dad because he gets things done instead of picking out clothes.)
- JeepinBen points out I didn't mention the press blitz after the Morris incident or the infamous "my personality is to the best of my ability and I have to fix that" statement. That was triply odious: Brandon hired a PR firm only after he'd burned the house down and then spent Michigan's money trying to prop himself up instead of repairing the damage he'd done. Add in the content of said blitz and you've got a triple. Oh, and he invoked his family as a shield. Home run.
- I missed the giant Brandontron next to the stadium.
- And of course whenever I bring it up more people add their stories to the list, including this gentleman who was dismayed because the athletic department tried to charge the hospital a licensing fee for sick babies in winged helmets.
- There are many, many stories of people in the department being treated shabbily from Jon Falk on down. I didn't mention most of them because I hear most of them indirectly. Bacon's upcoming book on all this should shed a lot of light in this department; he reports that he has never seen people more eager to talk to him.
On revenues as a measuring stick. A common defense of Brandon is to point at the budget. I've repeatedly stated why I don't buy that argument but I've never stated it as eloquently as Blue Durham did in a comment on the post:
Increased revenues from sources like the Big Ten Channel can't be attributed to anything that he had done, and others, like Brian refers to, like the sale of water or the hoped-for rental of seat cushions(!), bring in little but have a great, negative impact in PR. So where is Brandon's biggest contribution in increasing revenues?
As far as I can tell, it was by increasing ticket prices. But all that did was to sell off an asset built up by preceding ADs, the waiting list and goodwill of fans, alumni, and students. When I was an undergraduate and graduate student at UM in the 1980's, everyone knew that the AD could have easily charged more for tickets.
But I think this was part of a policy to try to treat current students as future donors, and for the alumni, as a way to stay connected to the University in order to have more generous donors. Obviously this worked given all of the alumni events that occur every fall that revolve around a home football game.
All Brandon did was sell this asset off, to the University's detriment. This is akin to a kid selling is father's car and taking credit for all of the money he made doing it without taking into account the value of the car.
The damage he wrought in that department will be felt for years, or at least until HARBAUGH
On solutions. User Njia protests that the post was an unconstructive bombing. Guilty as charged. I'll put together something about the direction to go in an effort to rebuild ground zero.
The unedited post is available as an e-book for 50 bucks. To buy one, just go to this video of Rick Astley singing "Never Gonna Give You Up."
And now let's never talk about… that again.
The Best Players In Michigan...
...well, at the very least, they're getting offers from Michigan.
Tuesday's MSU game gave Michigan the opportunity to host several in-state prospects and dole out some offers. 2016 four-star Southfield RB Matt Falcon received one, though with Tennessee as his stated leader it'll be an uphill climb to gain his commitment, per MichiganPreps.com's Branden Hunter ($):
"It was pretty sweet seeing two quarterbacks on their way to the league. Something special," said Falcon. "I really enjoyed spending time with the coaching staff, and getting to know everyone and how they operate. I think Coach Harbaugh has his team headed in the right direction. He will do big things with the Wolverines. I could see myself playing there, but I don't know if that will happen. I still have to enjoy the process."
While there's plenty of time to catch up to Tennessee, the Vols are in strong position right now. Michigan should get more traction with a couple more offers from the evening. Three-star Farmington WR Desmond Fitzpatrick, a Louisville commit, grew up a Michigan fan, and his father told Allen Trieu that the offer meant a lot to him ($):
"As he got older," Fitzpatrick continued, "and watched the program struggle, it appeared those childhood feelings faded. When he received the offer last night, his reaction surprised me. He was a little emotional."
Fitzpatrick remains committed to Louisville, but it sounds like he's quite open to the possibility of playing closer to home. So is four-star Cass Tech DB Demetric Vance, who also added an offer Tuesday night, per GBW's Josh Newkirk ($):
“I was real excited,” Vance said of Michigan offer. “I really liked the coaching staff. They made really think I want to go there. It was just a good experience. For me to meet the new coaching staff, it seem liked I already knew them for so long. It feels good.”
Vance plans to decide after the summer. Michigan's main competition should be MSU, though Pitt and Tennessee are also involved. Vance's teammate, elite 2017 WR Donovan Peoples-Jones, could hardly talk when Harbaugh offered him, per The Wolverine's Brandon Brown ($):
"It happened at halftime of the basketball game," Peoples-Jones explained. "Coach [Jim] Harbaugh came and talked to me one on one and told me that I had a scholarship offer from the University of Michigan.
"I was honestly at a loss for words. I managed to say, 'Thank you coach, I really appreciate it.' It felt great to know that I could possibly be coached under a man with so much success."
Peoples-Jones is a national-level prospect and his recruitment could very well come down to a Michigan-OSU battle.
M also hosted a couple prospects already holding offers. 2016 Farmington Hills Harrison four-star DE Khalid Kareem is now seriously considering the Wolverines, his father told 247's Steve Wiltfong ($):
“It was amazing. It was a good atmosphere. It was my first time going up there with the new staff, and to be honest with you it was probably one of our best visits. We had the opportunity to get a lot of 1-on-1 time with Coach (Greg) Mattison and Coach (D.J.) Durkin. When we got there they kind of immediately gravitated towards us, ate with us, took us in the meeting room, watched film, saw how Khalid fit in their defense, different body types, things like that.
“It opened up his mind to the idea of playing for Michigan.”
Kareem previously committed to MSU for all of two days before his parents helped convince him it was too early to make a commitment. Let's hope this goes the way of Lawrence Marshall.
Rounding out the Cass Tech contingent was 2016 four-star OG/DT Michael Onwenu, who told 247's Steve Lorenz that the coaches were jokingly fighting over which side of the ball he'd play in Ann Arbor ($).
2016 Southfield LB Will Small self-reported an offer, but that's been refuted by multiple outlets.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
Do you think we should take both? So Bryce Petty and Jameis Winston stopped by Schembechler yesterday to hang with Mr. Harbaugh.
QBs Jameis Winston (FSU) & Bryce Petty (Baylor) are preparing for the NFL Combine at Schembechler Hall. pic.twitter.com/2ICM9XMVrc
— Michigan Football (@umichfootball) February 17, 2015
"These guys don't know how blessed they are to have this kind of facility. I mean, Florida State, we're a very prestigious school, we have nice stuff, but we don't have this. I'm sorry, I love Florida State. Go 'Noles till the day I die, but they're so much [more] advanced than us."
"This is bar none the best one that I've seen. We've got great ones in Waco, you know I love what we had at Baylor, and so it's cool to kind of see other places, and this is definitely by far one of the best I've seen."
"It was a blessing to meet a guy like that. It was an honor to meet him. All of his accomplishments, and the type of coach that he is, I wish I could have played for him."
"If there's anybody that you want to play for as a player, it's a coach like him. Just a fan, energetic guy, passionate about football. From the second he came over here he was sizing up Jameis and wanted to see his grip. He's just a quarterback. And that's the coolest part about playing the position and being coached by somebody that's been there and done that."
Ndamukong Suh showed up today, because why not.
— MGoJen (@MGoJen) February 19, 2015
Can't hurt recruiting, that. Unless people think those pants are mandatory.
Doing what needs to be done. Note that this kind of thing did not happen under Hoke, who didn't have twitter at all. Harbaugh's firing off shade tweets at OSU and putting his mug on the internet with NFL stars, to wide publicity.
Michigan is—ugh no way around it—Leveraging Social Media much better than they did under the previous regime, during which they rarely did anything anyone would pay attention. Brandon (or rather his ghost-tweeter) tended to send out the kind of #hashtag tweets that make you sound like a broken robot. Hoke was invisible, and nothing that was interesting enough to pass around was constructed. The Winston/Petty stuff had some viral quality to it. That serves the program well.
Good to see goals other than incremental revenue being advanced these days.
“You’re Iggy Pop, man. I love your stuff. I’m from Michigan too,” I rambled on, sounding as moronic as the Pop is accused of being by some of his critics.
Iggy pointed to my t-shirt with the word Michigan splayed across my chest. “Meeschigan,” he said, holding his right arm in front of his slight chest in a 90-degree angle. “Meeschigan.”
After a minute or so of gushing and trying to open up a conversation with the man who’s music, with the Stooges anyway, was the soundtrack to much of my late adolescence and early adulthood, all I could get out of the guy was “Meeschigan.” As I turned to go back to the boys, I decided Iggy was either too burned out by the adulation of the years and hero worshiping kids like me or the critics were right. He was so sort of junkie savant. Either way, I was utterly confused by our meeting. …
Half an hour later, AMC had gone through a series of ballads that failed to alter the weird, contained rage from the mosh pit. I felt a tug at my shirt and turned around. I looked down right at Iggy Pop.
“Meeschigan,” he said, his arm cocked at that 90-degree angle.
“Meeschigan,” I answered him, my arm at the same angle. He turned and walked out with his Ginger look alike on his arm.
Iggy Pop, spreading the Ufer gospel wherever he goes. Confusingly. Demanding that people imbibe the spirit of Ufer before departing with his girlfriend. Following them around.
The best restaurant he's ever been to: "Cracker Barrel ... you can't beat the bacon."
Harbaugh then put his twitter where his mouth is.
Enjoying dinner with Addie at the Cracker Barrel: Life is Good! pic.twitter.com/pCV6pYHhGA
— Coach Harbaugh (@CoachJim4UM) February 17, 2015
FWIW, my wife used to work at Cracker Barrel in high school. When I told her this, she expelled a sad, hurt sigh. The kind of sigh you expel when someone has told you something horrible. "Cracker Barrel isn't supposed to be anyone's favorite restaurant," she relates, "but if your main priority is getting out of the restaurant as fast as possible, Cracker Barrel is great at that."
I think we have found a reason.
(Also they make all their stuff from scratch instead of taking it off the SYSCO truck, so there's that.)
Miss you big guy XOXO. Charlie Weis is taking the slow boat to Shoney's:
For the first time since 1978, Weis will spend a football offseason as a bystander and not a coach. And it might very well be for good.
“I think it’s highly doubtful that I will ever coach again,” said the 58-year-old former Notre Dame head coach whose five-year regime in South Bend, punctuated by extremes, launched 10 seasons ago.
"…because I will still be paid to coach until the sun engulfs the earth and would rather follow Bon Jovi around than deal with people who don't understand my schematic genius."
Weis was a bad football coach and a good enemy, and for that I thank him.
(By the way, never go to Shoney's. Never ever.)
The ineligibility gambit. This will never happen but hopefully the NCAA folk pushing it know that and are trying to leverage the NBA:
7. Address the “one and done” phenomenon in men's basketball. If the National Basketball Association and its Players Association are unable to agree on raising the age limit for players, consider restoring the freshman ineligibility rule in men's basketball.
In today's lawsuit-rich environment that would be the equivalent of slapping a "SUE ME" sign on your own back, but anything that fixes one and done is a good idea. Increasing the age limit is the wrong direction, but anything is better than the current system.
Normally I would believe that this is just a leverage play but you never know with the NCAA. Bob Bowlsby, the Big 12 commisioner, makes a somewhat self-contradictory case for it:
Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said there is “almost a uniform acknowledgment that there's kids in college that don't have any interest in an education and don't have the proper education to take advantage of an education.” Bowlsby said freshman ineligibility would have a “profoundly positive effect” on football and men's basketball by easing the transition from high school without the distractions of competition.
“I think there's a growing interest in a robust debate, and I think we ought to drag it to the ground and consider it any way we can,” Bowlsby said. “I think it is the one change that could make an absolutely dramatic difference in college athletics.”
Kids who don't have interest in education aren't going to find it because they can't play. I don't think that helps much of anything. Maybe it sends more Mudiay types overseas as they cool their heels. It may help the guys who are behind educationally, but how much when they're participating in all the team activities anyway? They don't have more time. They will be prepped to play just as much as any freshman.
It's impractical for a ton of reasons and won't happen, but go ahead rattle that sword just in case you knock a concession loose. The NBA draft is the worst system out there. The NHL or MLB models would be much preferable.
Des updated. Wolverine Historian has released a revised Desmond Howard tribute video. Up to 20 minutes(!).
"In the world of branding, you build what's called brand equity"
-Dave Brandon, Michigan Athletic Director, 2010-2014
I'm pretty mad about Dave Brandon on the internet, but in real life social cues prevent you from ranting for two thousand words at a time; mostly they argue for nodding silence. I kept the wild-eyed revolutionary on the internet. So it was crazy how Brandon angst followed me around.
One day during my ACL rehab, I was doing my various stretching things when one of the therapists came in steamed. He started relating to one of his buddies that he'd been booted from his position with Michigan football in favor of a kid who had literally just graduated from college, because that kid would worship Brandon as a god.
When we bought our house, one of the seemingly infinite signing ceremony things involved a conversation with someone who had been an assistant with a nonrevenue sport. My job came up, she had never heard of MGoBlog, she proceeded to sigh and say that the department was really something and then… not that any more.
A woman who Brandon tried to get fired from the alumni association because she had the temerity to disagree with him. Her friendship with Jamie Morris was demonstration enough that she "had no character."
One day, two staffers sent home for insufficiently ironed khakis, and then berated because their blazers were "from JC Penney."
Report after report that the regents couldn't stand him and he had a year, tops, left. For three years.
And of course, email after email in my inbox, all from the same insulting man prone to exclamation points and misused ellipses.
As a kid I was really good at memorizing things and had no friends. A large part of why, I would find out in retrospect, is that I was an annoying person. I was convinced I was the smartest person in the room, something that was often true for a given definition of smartest that stopped once the tests were turned in. It was never true when it came to interacting with something other than a piece of paper.
My attempt to be an adult centers around that fact: I'm an idiot when it comes to a lot of things. Faltering progress has been made. I hired Tom VanHaaren back in the day when he was just a guy with an idea to use social media to get information about recruits (this was controversial at the time). Tom proceeded to get his own bat signal. To this day he gets requests from people on the internet to hold him.
Tom's prose was rough at the time, prone to sentence after sentence with the same structure. A lot of adverbs. (I measure my progress as a writer by how many adverbs I edit out of my own stuff.) Twelve year old me would have been too annoying about it to deal. But by the time I made that decision I had realized that there were a lot of skills. zTalking to people you don't know and making them come out of that experience feeling like something good had just happened was emphatically not one I possessed. Tom is now at ESPN because of that skill.
Everyone has peaks and valleys in their intelligences, which is why I can do this for a job and still get pwned by Tom Dienhart whenever I try to act like an Actual Journalist.
That is how a guy can be in charge of three different things and still be an idiot: Dave Brandon's skill is for creating personal leverage for Dave Brandon. And there end the skills. There is that sub-genre of successful person that achieves seemingly without any reason to. They are nature's bullshitters. Charlie Weis is their treasurer. Dave Brandon is their king.
[After THE JUMP: a sordid history and the lessons learned: none]
Ace: When do you expect Michigan to get on level footing with Michigan State and Ohio State? Do you expect them to, in the latter case?
Dave Nasternak: Well, those are 2 different levels, especially after the last year.
As far as reaching Michigan State's level, I'm thinking (hoping?) Harbaugh will get them to that level in the next 2-3 years. I actually think that the talent differential is not huge, outside of a couple of obvious positions. The coaching differential, however...has been quite large. One of the interesting things about Michigan State has been their recruiting. They have not had stand-out, elite level recruiting during their stretch of dominance over Michigan (and kinda the Big Ten). But they have developed their roster as well as anyone has...which is coaching. It has also not hurt Michigan State that Michigan and Penn State have not been at program expectations over the past 5+ years. However, with Harbaugh in Ann Arbor, now -and a competitively talented roster to work with- I think that gap has already shrunk a bit...and will presumably do so in the next couple of years.
|You will NOT take away the year of Fickell. [Upchurch]|
Since the end of the 2004 season, Ohio State is 110-21. 104-14 if you take away the Year of Fickell. That's...uh...I don't even know. I definitely think this past 10 or so years has not been the Big Ten's best -definitely some under-performing teams and questionable hiring decisions by a few of the schools- but...yikes, man. There were a few years where its felt like Michigan has lost 14 games...just in that year, alone! I'm not sure anyone is going to THAT level, any time soon. If anyone can give Michigan a chance to do so, it would be Jim Harbaugh, though. Anyway...my next point, haha. One of the things that Ohio State has that has eluded most of the Big Ten teams (at least lately) is a game-changer. And they have had many. Going back to Troy Smith, Terrelle Pryor and now Miller/Barrett/Jones and Elliott. These are guys that can score every time they touch the ball...and always seem to make a play to keep a drive alive or score when OSU needs points. They are Heisman trophy winners...or at least candidates. That is level of recruit AND development that Michigan is going to need in order to compete at the OSU level. Can and will Harbaugh take Michigan there? I think he can. I hope he will. When? It will be years before he will be able to make a mark like OSU has been able to over the last decade or so. But I do think that once Harbaugh gets Top 100/300/whatever recruits flowing into his system, Michigan will be able to go toe-to-toe with Ohio State and at least beat them at a competitive rate...instead of the 1(Fickell) and 10 it has been over the past 11 years.
[After the jump: projections on a sophomore roster]