Peppers at 10, which seems low.
Same. [Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog]
Surprise! Getting four cracks at a fourth top-100 victory only to fall short in all of them is bad for a team's NCAA Tournament chances. Michigan was already in a precarious spot heading into the weekend; after falling to Iowa, they need at least two wins in the Big Ten Tournament to avoid missing the dance for the second straight season.
Michigan's resumé as it currently stands:
Record: 20-11 (19-11 vs. D-I), 10-8 Big Ten
RPI Strength of Schedule: 69
KP SOS: 54
RPI Top-50: 3-9
RPI 51-100: 0-2
RPI 101+: 16-0
Unless Penn State (#114) pulls some upsets in the BTT—they draw Ohio State in the second round for the right to play Michigan State—Michigan isn't going to pick up any more RPI top-100 victories without an upset over Indiana; that, of course, would require the Wolverines to beat Northwestern on Thursday, which KenPom projects has a 57% chance of happening.
Of the 89 brackets currently comprising the Bracket Matrix, Michigan makes only 46 of them, and the more recently updated brackets almost all omit the Wolverines; they're the second team left out of the field in the consensus. After updating his bracket last night, CBS's Jerry Palm placed M as one of the first four teams out, citing the lack of quality wins as the primary reason they're not in:
Michigan has fallen off the bracket for now. The Wolverines lost at home to Iowa 71-61 on Saturday to fall to 3-9 against the top 50, 3-11 against the top 100 and 10-11 against the top 200.
Those are all bad numbers. Michigan will have a lot of work to do in Indianapolis at the Big Ten tournament.
Michigan fell off the Yahoo big board. They're the fourth team out to ESPN's Joe Lunardi. Notably, Michigan is projected to miss the tourney before accounting for the inevitable bid-stealers that will arise from the conference tournaments this week. Even if the Wolverines get a lot of help from other bubble teams, it's difficult to see a path to the tournament that doesn't involve a victory against Indiana.
I guess I'll post a rooting guide anyway. Teams you want are in bold, bubble teams are in italics.
- Monmouth vs. Iona (MAAC championship) (tonight, 7 pm, ESPN)
- Green Bay vs. Valparaiso (Horizon semifinal) (tonight, 7 pm, ESPNU)
- Pepperdine vs. St. Mary's (WCC semifinal) (tonight, 9 pm, ESPN)
- BYU vs. Gonzaga (WCC semifinal) (tonight, 11:30 pm, ESPN2)*
- Syracuse vs. Pittsburgh (ACC 2nd round) (Wednesday, noon, ESPN)
- Washington State vs. Colorado (Pac-12 1st round) (Wednesday, 5:30, Pac-12 Network)
- UCLA vs. USC (Pac-12 1st round) (Wednesday, 9 pm, Pac-12 Network)
- Arizona State vs. Oregon State (Pac-12 1st round) (Wednesday, 11:30 pm, Pac-12 Network)
- Arkansas vs. Florida (SEC 2nd round) (Thursday, 1 pm, SEC Network)
- Butler vs. Providence (Big East quarterfinal) (Thursday, 2:30 pm, FS1)
- Penn State vs. Ohio State (Big Ten 2nd round) (Thursday, 6:30 pm, ESPN2)
*You want St. Mary's to beat the winner in the title game; both BYU and Gonzaga are on the bubble but the Zags are closer to getting in.
I don't know man. I literally don't know about Sunday's game, which was not televised. I also do not know about the Friday game, during which Michigan gave back all of their defensive gains over the past month and then some. It sounds like that continued Sunday:
Glad we got those D issues ironed out
RT @umichhockey: 19:02 1st |Racine makes a great save as 2 OSU players broke into the zone all alone
— Yost Built (@YostBuilt) March 6, 2016
After giving up a 2-on-0 breakaway a minute into the game, Michigan fell down 5-1, tied the game up, had a go-ahead goal waved off, and then lost in OT. I did not see this game, but I've seen this game.
What I did see on Friday was the same kind of stomach-churning frustration on one end and joyous awesome goal-scoring on the other end I imagine Sunday was. The reason people started watching hockey in the first place is so they could see the kind of tic-tac-toe goals the CCM line bangs in with regularity; the reason they got really angry and burned down the White House in 1812 is an inability to adjust to forechecking.
Michigan looks really really talented and not too bright, same story as always post-Mel. This year they've put together one of the best lines in Red Berenson history and it's keeping them above water. Except when it doesn't. Since Berenson is almost certainly retiring there's not much to do at this point but get to the tournament and hope things bounce the right way. Change is coming either way.
But at least they gave themselves enough breathing room. We can put away the RPI calculators and fancy graphs. Per College Hockey News, Michigan is 100% in the field and highly unlikely to end up outside the 7-10 range. At that point your seeding is unimportant. We'll be hoping the ping-pong balls come up in the right way to send Michigan to Cincinnati, where a 20% capacity crowd will provide an advantage to nobody. That means Michigan wants to get bracketed with whichever NCHC team ends up third or fourth, but it's impossible to figure out how to do that.
Michigan really just wants to go three periods without having Mad Max break out.
Speaking of "not televised." You know, I'm not as down on Big Ten hockey as everybody else seems to be. It was necessary for the growth of the sport to go from two Western conferences to three. Does Arizona State exist today if it's looking at two absolutely full conferences and the prospect of a long and lonely road as an independent? I doubt it.
But I do kind of expect that a game on Sunday between blood rivals is on TV. The only basketball game between 4 and 7:30 was on CBS. To not even have a streaming option is ridiculous.
Hockey is, or at least can be, a revenue sport. It should be treated as such. I see zero evidence the Big Ten is doing this. The BTN didn't bother televising a nonconference series against BU even though they certainly could have bought rights to televise an NESN broadcast of the Friday game; Saturday wasn't televised by anyone at all.
On the next coach. The fact that Berenson is retiring after this year has entered worst-kept secret territory. It is very like Red to not tell anyone publicly, but you can expect this weekend's Penn State series to be Red's last at Yost. His legacy is such that someone's going to put his name on something important; I'm not going to handle it in a random bullet point.
No, this bullet is for looking towards the next guy. Since Michael Spath is more or less the entirety of the Michigan hockey beat he's the only person with a list of candidates, which is in some order:
- Michigan assistant Brian Wiseman
- Michigan Tech head coach Mel Pearson
- Providence head coach Nate Leaman
- U18 NTDP head coach Danton Cole
- Springfield Falcons head coach Ron Rolston
Spath's been issuing lists for a couple months now and there isn't a ton of commonality between them except for the obvious guys connected to Red. I get the feeling that nobody really knows because Red keeps his own counsel and Michigan just imported a new athletic director. The names other than Pearson and Wiseman on that list are probably educated guesses.
Set aside Pearson for a moment. I would be fine with Leaman, who turned Union into an excellent program and then turned around and did it again at Providence. Providence is in the running for a one seed this year; they are they defending national champs. I'm listening.
He would be in for some major culture shock, though: he's one of those guys importing 20 and 21 year old freshmen. Michigan doesn't recruit like that and will not recruit like that through the next, oh, three or four recruiting classes since those are all but wrapped up already. I'm pretty sure he'd be able to cope with extremely talented younger guys, but you never know. And would he be able to recruit going forward?
The other guys on the list are all major risks. Wiseman has never been a head coach and is a current assistant on a team that can't find its ass in two tries on defense. (It's in the net.) Danton Cole is a Spartan whose only college job was a dismal three-year run at UAH. Rolston does have about a decade of college coaching under his belt plus a long spell with the NTDP and a couple years as the Sabres' head coach; he hasn't been in college for a decade.
A couple of those guys might be good if you end up moving to fallback options. But then there's Mel.
I was going to put a vertical line on the chart when Mel left for Tech and then I realized it was already more or less there. It's the blue uptick and red downtick in 2012. Pearson got Tech in the tourney for the first time since 1981 last year. This year the Huskies won their first conference title since 1976. (I realize this WCHA is not the old WCHA but when you're Tech hockey any hardware is a miracle.) They've currently scrapped their way onto the bubble again. Pearson immediately made Tech much better and now that it's his program they're at a level they haven been at since Pearson was playing in Houghton.
Yes, he's a bit older than is ideal at 57. On the other hand, Red was 57 in 1997. He won a national title the year before and the year after. Michigan has the raw tools to win a national title every year; there need be no building phase. Even if Pearson does retire at around 65, you get almost a decade out of him. That decade is immediately productive. He is obviously a top-level coach who was a linchpin of Michigan's success under Red.
This isn't hiring Brady Hoke; it's more like hiring Harbaugh, insofar as hiring anyone other than Harbaugh is like hiring Harbaugh. Knowing the culture is an asset; it just can't be the only asset. Pearson was clearly a major reason Berenson succeeded and is currently in the midst of the most impressive rebuild job in college hockey.
Hire Mel Pearson.
That about sums it up. [Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog]
As Spike Albrecht thanked the fans in a pre-recorded video, many of them were already headed for the exits.
No seniors played on Senior Night; Albrecht and Caris LeVert, dressed in suits, took their familiar places on the bench after an understated pregame ceremony. The Crisler Center crowd then watched the same old team play the same old game.
Jarrod Uthoff obliterated Michigan's defense to the tune of 29 points, finding his range with ease against the smaller Zak Irvin. The Wolverines struggled to stay in front of their marks, stuggled to hit shots, struggled to do so much as put the ball in play—at one point, a wayward Irvin inbounds pass turned into a perfect outlet for a Mike Gesell breakway dunk. Mike Gesell plays for Iowa.
To be frank, deconstructing this game feels like a waste of time. We've seen this before, against Wisconsin and Ohio State and Michigan State and Indiana and Iowa again. Any one of those games could've given Michigan the final quality win they so desperately needed to secure a spot in the NCAA Tournament before the end of the regular season. Instead, the Wolverines fell well short in all of them, and in all likelihood they'll not only need a victory in the 8/9 game of the Big Ten Tournament—against either Northwestern or Penn State—but an upset over top-seeded Indiana to make the field.
If you feel good about that scenario, you're far more optimistic than me, not to mention the steady stream of fans who high-tailed it to the parking lot with a few minutes left on the clock. They'd already seen this before. No need to prolong the inevitable.
Michigan (20-10, 10-7 B1G) vs
Iowa (20-9, 11-6)
Ann Arbor, Michigan
|WHEN||8 pm ET, Saturday|
|LINE||Iowa -1 (KenPom)|
PBP: Joe Davis
Analyst: John Crispin
Right: Sadly fitting that our best picture of Caris LeVert and Spike Albrecht together doesn't feature them in uniform. [Patrick Barron/MGoBlog]
Tomorrow is Senior Day, an even more bittersweet experience than usual this year because both seniors, Caris LeVert and Spike Albrecht, have season-ending injuries. For those attending the game, you're encouraged to show up early; the pregame ceremony starts at 7:45.
While LeVert is going to prepare for the NBA when he's healthy again, Albrecht could conceivably get a medical redshirt and play another year if there's a scholarship available. That's on the table, though it doesn't sound too likely:
On a conversation with Coach Beilein about a potential return: “I haven’t really had a conversation with him about it, just because I know like you guys know with the scholarship situation and things like that, but I know at this time that I’m not feeling good and I’m not ready to play. I always told him that I’m not going to use up a scholarship if I don’t think I can play and help. I won’t be making that decision until after the season, I don’t want to distract him more than anyone else.
Michigan is clinging to one of the final at-large bids in most NCAA Tournament projections. A victory over Iowa—even this patented late-season collapse version—should secure a place in the field. A loss and it'll be a nerve-wracking conference tournament; speaking of which, M is locked into the BTT eight-seed.
THE LAST TIME
Back when the Hawkeyes looked like a candidate for a one-seed, they beat Michigan by 11 in Iowa City, led by Jarrod Uthoff (23 points) and Peter Jok (16). While the Wolverines put up a strong 1.13 points per possesion, they allowed 1.30 to Iowa—the Hawkeyes lit it up from the field and only committed four turnovers.
THE LINEUP CARD
Projected starters are in bold. Hover over headers for stat explanations. The "Should I Be Mad If He Hits A Three" methodology: we're mad if a guy who's not good at shooting somehow hits one. Yes, you're still allowed to be unhappy if a proven shooter is left open. It's a free country.
|G||10||Mike Gesell||Sr.||6'2, 190||74||19||No|
|#30 assist rate nationally, low-volume but effective shooter, high FT rate.|
|G||5||Anthony Clemmons||Sr.||6'2, 200||74||18||Kinda|
|Solid passer, decent finisher, outside shot is iffy (31% 3P).|
|G||14||Peter Jok||Jr.||6'6, 205||65||25||No|
|Good athlete with solid jumper, getting to line more. 2nd in B1G in steal rate.|
|F||20||Jarrod Uthoff||Sr.||6'9, 221||77||26||No|
|8th in KPOY standings. 47/39/81 shooting splits, excellent shot-blocker.|
|C||34||Adam Woodbury||Sr.||7'1, 250||62||17||Very|
|Plus rebounder, skilled around the basket, might poke you in the eye.|
|F||25||Dom Uhl||So.||6'9, 215||44||19||No|
|Backup big hits 47% of threes, hits offensive boards. Not a good finisher.|
|F||51||Nicholas Baer||R-Fr.||6'7, 200||36||14||No|
|Efficient gunner (61% 2P, 43% 3P) also a decent shot-blocker.|
|F||0||Ahmad Wagner||Fr.||6'7, 225||24||14||Very|
|Shoots 69% on twos, good rebounder and shot-blocker.|
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the preview.]
— Michigan Football (@umichfootball) March 1, 2016
I enjoy the guy yelling in the background.
Harbaugh has thrown the doors open down in Florida. There is a pile of stuff. So much stuff. Even before the open practice at 5PM today, there is so much stuff. Let's talk things and stuff.
First: yes, this is just technique work and mostly unpadded at that. Takes have largely been about throwing, catching, and defending said throws—there's not much you can take away on either line thus far. Oh and one other thing.
Jabrill Peppers, Linebacker
After @JabrillPeppers' heat in 30 yard speed drills he said , "your SAM backer is the fastest guy on the team! How does that feel?!" Lol
— Sam Webb (@SamWebb77) March 1, 2016
The most meaningful thing from the first few spring practices is the apparent move of Jabrill Peppers to strongside linebacker. Or, as they called it last year, "hybrid linebacker." While the nomenclature has changed it doesn't seem like a whole lot else has:
Through the first two days of camp, Peppers has played in the box almost exclusively. He's spent most of his time blitzing, supporting the run and covering tight ends underneath during 11 on 11 drills. In 7 on 7 workouts, he's drifted out to cover slot receivers, but he's never far away from the line of scrimmage.
That's more or less what Michigan did with him a year ago. The exception: against certain two-WR sets Peppers would slide out to boundary cornerback. Last year Don Brown rode with 6'1", 218-pound Matt Milano as his SAM, and all that dude did was lead the team in TFLs with 17.5 and add 6.5 sacks. Peppers is likely to be around that size, if a hair shorter, and obviously brings much more athleticism to the table. (I have no idea how athletic Matt Milano is. I am still comfortable making that assumption.)
Wolverine Devotee put together an every snap video from the BC-FSU game last year; Milano is 28. You'll see him lined up as an actual linebacker against heavier formations and often over the slot in lighter ones:
How does this change what everyone else does? One thing it likely signals is that the days where Michigan lined up a safety 15 yards back are over. To get away with the kind of light linebackers Brown favors you need to have all eleven guys potentially involved in the run game. You can expect Michigan to run "over" fronts most of the time, but that's not a change.
It also puts more pressure on the safeties to be able to defend man to man. Ian Boyd noted that the "ability of [BC] safeties to play deep overage is probably the strongest point" of Don Brown's most recent defense. I'm a bit leery of that given what we saw from Michigan last year—neither Delano Hill or Dymonte Thomas did a great job in those situations—but at least Thomas is fast enough to prevent a quick six points if he gets soloed up on a slot and things go badly for M.
Going forward, Tyree Kinnel will be very important. He entered Michigan with a reputation as a CB/S hybrid and that's exactly what Brown wants from his safeties.
The other SAM
we only have one Furbush picture so you might want to settle in with this shot [Patrick Barron]
Don Brown mentioned Noah Furbush as Michigan's other option at SAM linebacker:
Peppers finished last season with 45 tackles and 10 pass break ups. But this year, along with Noah Furbush, Peppers will be focusing more on playing SAM linebacker says Brown.
“Between Furbush and (Peppers), I think we can put those two guys together and create some dynamic ability out of that position. That’s what you are searching for,” said Brown.
Furbush is obviously a very different player than Peppers, and that might give you an indication of what Michigan is going to do when they do catch an Iowa or a Wisconsin. If Furbush fills out this year—his weight has been an ongoing mystery—he brings a lot more in the tight-end-whacking category than Peppers; meanwhile Michigan can move Peppers to CB or safety… or save some snaps in an effort to use him more on offense.
Also in "other SAM," Chase Winovich was recruited as Jake Ryan 2.0 and now sounds kind of like Jake Ryan 2.0:
He is all of 240 pounds and can still move as well as he did when he was 215. … If things go according to what looks to be the plan, expect to see Winovich playing standing up at times, and with his hand in the dirt at others. His non-stop motor and reckless abandon should help him when it comes to getting after opposing quarterbacks.
I'm not sure where Jake Ryan 2.0 fits in a Don Brown defense but am willing to find out.
While nobody is tipping their hand I continue to believe that Zach Gentry moving to tight end is a dead giveaway that John O'Korn is the guy and authoritatively so. Baumgardner:
When forced to throw the ball in traffic, O'Korn's accuracy was just more consistent. It wasn't perfect, but his touch was better and his ability to deliver throws on time looked superior to what we saw from Wilton Speight or Shane Morris.
That's probably not a shocker to anyone. But it was notable. The deep ball will be a work in progress for O'Korn and his wideouts, and it's still important to note that Jehu Chesson is still rehabbing an injury. But Jake Butt still catches everything underneath, and Amara Darboh can still haul in most anything thrown in his area. O'Korn is figuring that out.
Webb noted that O'Korn is "unquestionably the most athletic" of the QBs, which is a nice physical
intangible to have at 6'4". Speight and Malzone come in for mentions as well; Morris was probably at the other split squad practice so don't run to the hills with the news that he gone.
The hyped recruit has impressed as well. Brandon Peters was singled out by Harbaugh in a press conference after day two. Baumgardner made an effort to check him out during the brief time the media got to see him—he's been practicing mostly during the closed bit of Michigan's practices:
The main thing here: He's smooth and natural. When I spoke with a few scouts and analysts about Peters last summer, the first thing they all raved about was how he's nowhere near his potential. …
I've seen a lot of freshmen quarterbacks enter a program over the years and just look absolutely lost or panicked. Their feet are all over the place. They're throwing the thing as hard as they can on every rep. They're overwhelmed, basically.
Peters is far from a finished product, but he's not overwhelmed. That much is clear.
Here's hoping for two years of this kind of chatter before an epic showdown between Peters, McCaffrey, and whoever else survives the winnowing.
Recommend you hit up that Baumgardner article as he describes Harbaugh going through drills with the QBs; some excellent insight into what makes Harbaugh one of the best QB coaches in football.
Bunting has been impressing:
Ian Bunting didn’t have as good a day as Jake Butt, but he was close. The redshirt sophomore has terrific hands and showed trait on the play of the day. Bunting ran a skinny post. Coverage was decent, giving Alex Malzone a tight window to throw in. He fired a rope a little out front of his intended target where only Bunting had a shot. The ball was on him so quick that he only had time to extend one hand, but that was all he need to haul in the pass. He did so in stride and sprinted to the endzone to a series of oohs and aahs. It was his best play but definitely not the only one.
Also in there are takes on Wheatley (looking promising in the AJ Williams role, probably still needs to drop a little weight) and Gentry (upside, but needs time). Webb revisited Bunting after practice yesterday, asserting that he "looks like a guy poised to have a breakout season" because he is now blasting through linebackers on his routes and boxing them out. Here's to Ol' Skillet Hands making good on ridiculous MGoBlog hype.
Jake Butt is Jake Butt: he should win the dang Mackey this year.
Ty Wheatley hopes to be senior AJ Williams plus some athleticism:
"He's a big-bodied guy who can move people off the ball and when he goes out to run a pattern, he can work a guy," Michigan offensive coordinator Tim Drevno said Thursday. "Those short routes by the tight ends are kind of like (playing underneath) in basketball. He's a big target, put the ball (wherever) and he can run with it."
Michigan has an obvious hole to fill at inline tight end with Williams's departure and Hill's move to fullback. Wheatley is unusually well suited to fill that hole despite being a redshirt freshman. Meanwhile, Michigan "never seriously considered moving him" over the offseason despite rumors to that effect.
Zach Gentry "needs to add weight… a lot of it" per Webb; I think everyone's expectation is that he'll have to spend a year getting used to the position before issuing a serious challenge for playing time.
With Chesson sidelined, there is Amara Darboh and then there is everyone else.
There's been some chatter about Ahmir Mitchell's physical physicalness, and one creepy super slow mo video:
Good battle between Ahmir Mitchell and Reon Dawson pic.twitter.com/4oOrV8h8DE
— Michigan Football (@umichfootball) March 1, 2016
It's a creepy super slow mo video in which he loses a slant route to Reon Dawson, so maybe he won't break through immediately. Baumgardner says he's "pretty raw" and that was indeed his reputation as a recruit. He's likely to sit on the shelf a bit as he matures.
I kind of expected Channing Stribling to fade a bit as Jeremy Clark continued familiarizing himself with corner, but Webb's talked him up a few times:
Stribling continues to make plays against everyone except Amara darboh. Darboh having his way all week
— Sam Webb (@SamWebb77) March 3, 2016
Webb elaborated a bit later:
He has made some really acrobatic plays. At the same time he has given up a few plays. Darboh has been particularly troublesome due to his superior strength and great route technique. Stribling also gave up the aforementioned deep ball to Harris, but again, he made many more plays than he gave up during the time the media was at practice.
Jourdan Lewis remains good at football:
Jourdan Lewis was his vintage self. I noticed one ball caught on him (a comeback route by Amara Darboh. He seemed to bait John O’Korn into a bad throw on one occasion. After taking away his man on a short route he began drifting back into the secondary and picked off O’Korn’s attempt to complete an out cut (sounded like Jedd Fisch said he should’ve thrown it sooner).
Not much more than the occasional mention of Clark and others. Still expect Clark to contribute extensively.
Ryan Glasgow and Jehu Chesson are still working out on the sidelines, as injuries are slowing them down. Neither is much of a surprise, but one name amongst the guys who aren't full go does worry: Wyatt Shallman was once again on the side after being full-go in the first practice. Guy cannot get healthy.
In happier news, both Bryan Mone and Mike McCray have been full-go. McCray's status is of particular note since last year he made some ominous noises about his long-term future. Also he is a linebacker, and Michigan needs some of those. Here is a positive noise about McCray that we will all dearly wish is true despite the fact they aren't in pads yet:
“He looks really good out here,” said Lewis. “He is probably one of the guys we look up to as the guy that should step up this year at that linebacker position. I’m excited for Mike. He has great upside.”
Getting a healthy McCray back is huge for Michigan.
Nick Baumgardner with the depth chart nerd assist:
Second-team OL (best I can figure): LT Bushell-Beatty, LG Dawson, C Kugler, RG Runyan, RT Ulizio
— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) March 1, 2016
That is more or less as expected without Blake Bars. Those guys are in fact the only other scholarship OL on the roster until this year's class arrives in fall.
Baumgardner also caught the fact that in the second half of practice, after the third and fourth stringers left, the only OL to remain other than the starters was Kugler. Given Cole's versatility I would expect Kugler to be the guy who enters on any injury, and if there's going to be a shakeup to the expected starting five it would be Kugler pushing through at C such that Cole displaces a returning starter.
It'll be a 4-3 defense that's fairly similar to what Michigan did a year ago.
in 2015 U-M ran a 4-3 defense that played a ton of man coverage on the outside.
That’s still the plan in 2016, however, with a little twist says Brown.
“We’ll start with the four down (lineman) scheme, but we are not exclusively that,” Brown said. “We’ll do it all. We’ll play a lot of man (coverage) tight. But we will also play some other things. That’s the new piece. And that’s the learning piece.”
There will be more linebacker blitzing. Probably a lot more—Durkin had a five-man pressure he liked to run a lot but instances of true maniacal blitzing were very rare.
Harbaugh also elaborated on the split squad stuff:
“That was new,” Harbaugh said. “More one on one coaching for reps for each guy. The rule is no player can practice more than four hours, which every player practiced for four hours and had a nice little overlap there. Coaches had a six-hour day, but it just flew by. Just felt like it flew by. Logic is pretty simple there to understand. More coaching and more football for everybody.”
Indeed it is but it's also another example of Harbaugh figuring out ways to get maximum efficiency from the allotted rules.
And we have a first name for Pratt Just Pratt:
Another player that has been working out on the side is 6-5, 268 lb. sophomore offensive lineman Logan Pratt. This is noteworthy only because Pratt is one of the most impressive looking walk-ons I’ve ever seen.
Pratt will remain Just Pratt, I think.
— Purdue University (@LifeAtPurdue) March 3, 2016
WELL NOW I CAN'T CLOSE MY EYES AND RELAX EVER AGAIN ARE YOU HAPPY PURDUE
you probably are
damn you purdue
More work for Chief Enunciator Ace Anbender. Michigan's hired former Hawaii and Cleveland Browns coach Tony Tuioti as Chris Partridge's replacement. Michigan seems to be consciously trying to have one guy who is super-connected with every fertile recruiting ground they can find. While Hawaii might not be a likely spot for recruits, Tuioti is Polynesian. Polynesia is kind of a location you can get recruits, sometimes ukelele-playing recruits with massive manes of awesome hair who can play fullback and tailback. These are good recruits to get.
Greg Sankey has lost in the court of public opinion. He'll probably win in the court that matters, but it's nice to see that the portions of the media not completely dependent on the SEC for food and shelter* aren't buying what Sankey's selling one bit. Dan Wetzel:
College players can't negotiate the time off that NFLers have – organized team activities for the pros don't begin until late April and often not until late May. That's four or five months off for most players. Somehow the sport thrives. In college you get less than two – which doesn't even count crack-of-dawn "voluntary" weight training sessions just a week or so after a bowl game.
No one seems too concerned about that.
To focus solely on the issue of a handful of off-campus spring practices by one school, however, is to engage in absurd selectivity. The idea that players need spring break to themselves is a nice concept, but not some irrefutable argument.
Many players, just like most regular college students, can't afford to go away for spring break, no matter what the old movies claim. The majority of cash strapped "normal" students probably use the time to work.
A breeze floated in off the Gulf of Mexico a few miles west. The temperature had just dropped into the 60s following the sun’s plunge into the pink horizon. As darkness fell and palm trees swayed, Michigan tight end Jake Butt discussed getting his spring break ripped away by his taskmaster coach.
“We don’t have to worry about classes now. All we can focus on is football, and then we’re out on the beach relaxing. It’s unbelievable,” Butt said Tuesday. “Not everyone on our team is going to be able to take a spring break to get away. We’re away. We’re down here in Florida. Beautiful territory. Sun shining. Not too hot. Nice breeze. Eating great food with our brothers. I don’t have anything negative to say about it.”
What, you thought he was going to complain?
Are college sports power brokers actually concerned that Michigan's football players will be working on out patterns instead of holding down the business end of beer bongs? I doubt it. To the contrary, I think their supposed reservations are basically a tell—you know, the subtle tip-off a bad gambler does when he's bluffing—that lets the rest of us know just what actually matters in major college sports.
Hint: it isn't making sure football players have a relaxing Spring Break.
Bob Wojnowski caught up with a local high school coach who had a couple of insightful quotes:
“Because I also coached in college for years, I realize the value of what these kids are experiencing,” Gerber said. “Most of these kids aren’t gonna afford a spring break. And if you watch the tempo and demeanor of the practice, it’s purposeful, but they’re not bludgeoning them. It’s a learning environment. This has been very well thought out.”
I has occurred to me that the local media probably doesn't mind a working vacation in early March.
*[Or, like Michael Weinreb, have a contract with the devil requiring a concern troll about Michigan every six months.]
Hello: Jerry Kill? Per Sid Hartman, Jerry Kill might end up with a job in Ann Arbor if he wants it:
This week Kill spent time with his close friend, TCU coach Gary Patterson, and could wind up on his staff. Kill has always been close to Jack Harbaugh, father of Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh, and rumors around the Big Ten are that a job on the Wolverines staff is his if he wants it.
With Michigan's full assistant roster complete that would be one of those analyst positions that's come open as those gents move up the ladder. Everybody loves Kill and he has an impressive track record of dragging maximum performance out of iffy recruits, so that would be an excellent move.
A Fanhouse oral history. The Comeback has an enormous oral history of Fanhouse which is an excellent insight into how the first corporate sports blog rose and fall. I was a part of it from the beginning and faded away towards the end; only one of my completely fire takes made it in the story:
Brian Cook, college football blogger, FanHouse: I think hiring Mariotti was the most tone-deaf ridiculous thing they could have possibly done. Because he was just a blowhard, right? One of the things Spencer Hall says about SB Nation is [it's] the [internet's] the only sports appreciation machine. We weren’t lecturing from the top of a mountain like a lot of newspaper people tend to do. We were just fans being fans. And when you bring in the guys that do talk at you from the top of the mountain, do the Mariotti stuff, it’s completely antithetical [to] what the whole point of the enterprise was.
Fanhouse was an important bridge for me personally, as it allowed me to focus on MGoBlog without digging into savings. But this here site remained my focus because it wasn't tough to predict that AOL would not be in the content game long term. As a #content factory Fanhouse produced almost exclusively disposable content. Meanwhile it was difficult for it to have any specific voice when so many different people were contributing to it. The structure of the compensation—pay per post with a monthly on top of it—lent itself to lots of posts that took little time. The results were what you might expect.
Spencer's take on it is correct:
Spencer Hall, college football blogger, FanHouse, now editorial director of SB Nation:FanHouse was pretty good, but I don’t get sentimental over it. And honestly I don’t remember, I couldn’t name a thing that was written on FanHouse 10 years later. I could not name one piece that neither I nor anyone else wrote on FanHouse. I think it was a happy accident that I don’t want people to sanctify, which I would pretty much say about anything. I’d just like you to remember it accurately. It gave a lot of really cool people their first high-profile chance. I think in terms of mistakes, a lot of mistakes that the people running FanHouse made led to good things down the road.
Fanhouse was an early adopter and as such doomed to the same fate early adopters usually meet. It was housed in a large corporation that didn't really know how do to anything except its declining legacy business. It had some smart people in upper management; they were smart enough to know that they should get out while the getting was good. Those who remained thought Jay Mariotti was a good idea, and the story writes itself from there.
Fetch Tony Barnhart's fainting couch. If the man with Greg Sankey's hand up his back thinks it's "inappropriate" to issue barbs at another conference's commissioner there's no way he'll manage to stay upright after this:
Suggestion to my Rocky Top colleague, rather than lunch in Florida you might spend your time and focus attending to your present team.
— Coach Harbaugh (@CoachJim4UM) March 3, 2016
Tennessee is of course facing a Title IX lawsuit focused on Butch Jones's program, one that featured an explosive affidavit from a former player in which he asserted that Jones called him a "traitor" for helping a victimized woman.
Get The Picture deconstructed an earlier Barnhart article if you're still fisk-inclined.
Graham Glasgow on Harbaugh. Ain't no time for feelings around these parts any more:
"He's treated everyone in our program essentially, not like a child, but he treated them like an adult -- like, as a man," Glasgow said. "And every talk he had with you would be man-to-man. He was brutally honest about everything."
This is probably the least surprising quote about Harbaugh I've ever heard. It is interesting that it seems like a departure from Hoke.
This is a good interview. The Daily catches up with an outraged Joe Cecconi:
TMD: Who is messier, you or Cooper?
Cecconi: Cooper. I always clean up. His side of the room is disgusting. He’s got all his guitars and his amps and all that crap everywhere.
TMD: Is it annoying living with somebody who makes so much noise making music?
Cecconi: He actually goes downstairs, to be honest. Sometimes he’ll give me a performance, and I’ll be tired and it helps me fall asleep, so it’s good.
TMD: Why weren’t you featured in his recent song?
Cecconi: I don’t know. I got to talk to him about that. I’m not too happy.
Tension in the locker room.
Etc.: Eliminating pro-rel in soccer would be terrible for everyone except the elite few, but some Brandon figure named Charlie Stillitano thinks it's a great idea. All five of Michigan's current 2019 hockey recruits have been invited to the NTDP evaluation camp. Kirby Smart spent more on plane travel than Harbaugh did. Jim Harbaugh's son might accidentally get elected to student government.