in town for free camps
Previously: S Jeremy Clark.
|Sylvania, OH - 6'2" 210|
|Scout||3*, #30 S|
|Rivals||3*, #45 S, #57 OH|
|ESPN||3*, 75, #150 WR(!), #72 OH|
|24/7||3*, #66 ATH, #42 OH|
|Other Suitors||Cincinnati, BC, Illinois, Stanford|
|Previously On MGoBlog||The wayback machine. Hello post from Tim.|
|Notes||Son of former Michigan DB Tony, cousin (by marriage) of Charles Woodson. Twitter.|
Note a crap ton of great catches and a lot of Gant lining up as an off-the-line TE. This will be relevant later.
Allen Gant was supposed to be the subject of a fierce Michigan-Ohio State recruiting battle that had the potential to go national as teams across the country threw their hat in the ring for a highly-touted athlete. There's a post about him on this very site dating back to 2008(!) posted by a guy with the username "InRodWeTrust33" hyping him up as a major prospect after his freshman year. The Buckeye Planet thread on Gant fired up a week before that. Even after an injury-plagued 2009 season, Scout was still asking "Is Gant Ohio's top sophomore?($)"
As you can see by the rankings above, it didn't quite work out like that. Gant was a BCS recruit but not a national one, and Ohio State's persistent lack of interest quickly flipped Gant from a kid who only wanted to hear from the Buckeyes to one committing to Michigan in March. Gant's best offer other than Michigan was Stanford—none too shabby—but it dropped off rapidly after that, with Illinois, BC, and Cincinnati his other BCS offers.
What happened? Injury was part of it. Gant racked 'em up like Junior Hemingway; even when he was on the field he was usually nursing two or three different athletcism-sapping highlights.
The rest is probably what you get when a kid is far ahead of the work ethic curve (and therefore closer to his ceiling) early in his high school career. A long time Ohio scout erratically updates his blog MSR OHIO—which I perpetually misread as "Mrs. Ohio"—and has some thoughts on the relative lack of hype after Gant's touted debut:
Gant was so good as a freshman that it may have hurt him. He has continued to improve, but recruiters seem to expect a faster climb. A possible four letter winner in three sports. Sometimes athletes get close to being maxed out too early, but this is not the case with Allen.
Last fall I was impressed with his toughness on the football field. Stood out as a free safety. Excellent open field tackler. Good ball skills. Anticipated well. Most of all, when he had a chance to "strike" he did. Covered sideline to sideline. …
Just something that I like about Allen Gant. The challenge to keep improving every year must be tough. Expectations for three years have been high. Being mentioned in recruiting news as one of the top Ohio guys in 2012 class could get into a kid's head. My answer - Too good too early, but he has worked hard to keep getting better, but improvement is not as evident as with other athletes. Regardless, he just does his thing - play hard and compete.
Some coach tell Allen that he is not a free safety on the next level. Maybe a strong safety who plays in the box. Some coach tell Allen that he will grow into a Will linebacker. And be very good. Simple as that!
Well, let's hope so.
We have an uncommonly large pile of Gant video that isn't highlights. If you hit up this Rivals video of a scrimmage between Sylvania Southview and Chris Wormley's Whitmer team, Gant doesn't really do much except fall down once in man coverage on a slot receiver and get burnt to the outside by a tailback. In the best-case scenario (the tailback was the starter), that is a two-star headed to Toledo. ESPN put up a clip reel that appears to be from one game that features Gant looking pretty much like the rest of the kids on the field.
He has trouble tackling, doesn't seem at another level athletically from the rest of the guys, and… shows some crazy good hands on a TE corner route he runs on offense, getting leveled but hanging on. Then he scores a touchdown on a post route. This may be why ESPN didn't even bother considering his potential on defense($), instead concentrating on his ability at wideout:
Gant is a reliable and productive short-to-intermediate range receiver that appears to be at his best when working from the slot against zone coverage. He is lean and wiry with adequate height and he shows very quick feet. He is decisive in his cuts as a route runner with good quickness off the line. He is one of those guys that knows how to work the seams, settle into open areas and make himself open. … He has very good, soft hands and has no problem extending away from his frame in traffic over the middle. Catches the ball in a crowd, hauls in passes quickly and secures the catch. Has enough quickness and burst to be an effective underneath route runner and create separation.
The big downside is speed. They doubt he can be a BCS-level vertical threat and say they don't "see him explosively run by people or separate in the open field."
There is a little disagreement about that. See Allen Trieu…
Allen Gant | S | Sylvania-Southview
Gant has been on the radar since his freshman season. He has great size (6'1, 210-lbs) and runs well for a kid with that stature. Some feel he can grow into an outside linebacker. We think he can be a strong safety or a rover in certain systems, but either way, he's a great football player.
…and Duane Long…
Allen Gant, 6-2, 200, Sylvania
Gant is such a smart football player and I see a better athlete than I first thought he was. Versatility is the name of the game with Gant. He is best at free safety but he could play strong safety, and he could play receiver if things get ugly at that position for whatever school he chooses. Looked really good at the Buckeye camp last year.
…but looking at those non-highlights I'm with ESPN. Guy is not a burner. For what it's worth, the initial plan($) is safety but contains a hint of a potential move:
"They see me as kind of a hybrid-type," he said. "They said I have an advantage because I'm versatile and I can play both free and strong [safety], or I can even line up as an outside linebacker in a nickel package. That's what I have going for me which will allow me to get on the field quickly."
I think I might get the heebie jeebies if Gant lined up as a one-high free safety, certainly moreso than if he found a role as a nickel OLB*.
[TIRESOMELY REPETITIVE SIDE NOTE: this quote provides some evidence that Michigan is considering such a role in their defense. Insert usual Just Sayin' Brandin Hawthorne Should Be A Nickel LB here.]
He does seem like an excellent program guy. His coach:
"The best thing about him is how good a kid he is," Southview football coach Jim Mayzes said. "Since he came in here as a freshman he's always had the right attitude. He doesn't let anybody outwork him. Even during basketball season he's full go in the weight room."
His dad and a guy named Chet:
"The drive really comes from Allen," Tony Gant said. "I had a certain type of drive, but what he does -- lifting weights and eating healthy and drinking a gallon of water a day -- I never did that.
"I was a 6-foot, 185-pound kid who never lifted a weight in my life until I got to Michigan. He's in the weight room six days a week on his own. He motivates himself."
"Allen's always had a good work ethic, even as a youngster," Chet Trail said. "You never had to do too much to get him to practice. I wish I could take some credit for [his motivation], but Allen is a self-starter."
His dad again, from Tom:
They're going to get a student athlete who's full of character and leadership. You have to look at those qualities, he has to be smart, be a student athlete, and be a leader. From the football aspect he reminds me of [former Wolverine] Keith Bostic, as far as his aggressiveness. He loves to hit, he's a big safety. An analyst asked me why he's not nationally known, and it's because we knew it would probably come down to Michigan and Ohio State. We never went to any combines or camps, so his name wasn't really out there that much.
His dad one more time:
"I was talking to (Michigan equipment manager) Jonny Falk and Coach Rodriguez and I told them that if Bo had one scholarship to give, he would choose Allen over me," the elder Gant said. "He is almost 6-2, and weighs in the 205- to 210-pound range. He runs a 4.6, he's got a nose for the ball, he's physical, and he is smart.
"Having that type of football intelligence, it just makes his job that much easier because you want to react instead of think out on the football field. Plus he's coachable. His football intelligence and coachability are his two greatest assets along with his physical capabilities."
In the above you can see a path to the field for Gant in defiance of some skepticism I'll drop below: be Jordan Kovacs. It sounds like that's not entirely out of the question. I won't believe anyone can consistently chop down opponents like Kovacs until I see it, though. That'll have to be it for Gant, though: always being in the right place because his brain is ahead of the pack.
TVH +5/6, looks like. 6'2" probably accurate. Another coach quote:
“Allen’s been a legend in our town since elementary school,” Sylvania Southview coach Jim Mayzes said. “He could leap tall buildings, all that stuff. He had records in track all over in everything, all the way through school.
“I first heard about him when a P.E. teacher at one of the elementary schools would tell me about him.”
Gant played receiver and safety for the Cougars and finished with 21 receptions for 404 yards and a score. He rushed the ball three times for 35 yards and threw a 42-yard touchdown pass in the playoff loss. Defensively, he finished with 56 tackles, three interceptions and a fumble recovery.
“Most schools are looking at me more on the defensive side of the ball,” said Gant. “I do love hitting and I love playing on the defensive side of the ball, but after this year, I’m willing to play anything.”
Gant carries a 3.1 and should be fine academically. Caused user Chuck Norris to hurt himself. Brief Q&A with "Big House Report." Remember Howard Chen? Old Friend Howard Chen. Magnus is sad. Cheer up, Magnus!
Why Cam Gordon? Gordon's listed at 6'3", 222 on the current roster after a few years on campus, which is where Gant will end up, give or take an inch and five pounds. Gordon came in as a WR, ended up moving to free safety in an ill-fated 3-3-5, and then slid all the way down to spur halfway through the 2010 season; he now mans an analogous position for Greg Mattison at SAM.
As a 3/4-star tweener Gordon was a little bit better regarded than Gant, and he's a little bigger. Both are thick guys who don't seem to have the speed to play WR or S despite being ticketed for those slots and might eventually find themselves somewhere else after a period of positional vagabondage.
Guru Reliability: Moderate plus. Heavily scouted, but injuries complicate things a bit. Also no camps make it hard to get a clear picture of his athleticism. Still, four different scouting services were like "eh." Maybe Scout is a half-grade more chipper on him, but that's a lot of consensus.
Variance: Low. Seeming lack of explosive explosion(!) will limit him, but legacy status and self-driven high work ethic make it unlikely he'll explosively explode his way off the roster. Will contribute in some way shape or form by the time he's done.
Ceiling: Low. Seems to lack the speed to be a high-level WR or S.
General Excitement Level: I hate these. Low. Yeah, I know, it's mean. I don't mean it to be mean, but someone's got to be low or I shouldn't even bother with this bit. Caveat: it is possible that the nagging injuries have given us an excessively dim view of his athleticism. When those are shed there's some chance he reminds everyone of what he was supposed to be as an underclassman.
Projection: There are three safeties in this class and at least Dymonte Thomas coming in the next one. Someone has to lose out. With Jarrod Wilson on campus and performing well and this blog's sunny outlook on Jeremy Clark's future, that vaguely points to Gant as the odd man out.
A redshirt is certain. From there I assume he does get a shot at Kovacs's vacated strong safety spot. I expect he'll lose that battle to someone whether it's Wilson or Marvin Robinson. From there safety depth will dictate whether he's a two-deep guy there or if it makes more sense for him to move positions.
With his frame I think the place that might make the most sense for him long term is the U-back or "move" tight end that Khalid Hill is destined for. Michigan doesn't have many other U/H-back sorts on the roster and a Gant with 20 pounds of extra mass will be in that 6'2"-6'3", 230-250 pound range that it seems Michigan wants there. Weakside LB is another possibility but given Michigan's linebacker recruiting that move is the equivalent of putting Gant on a slow boat to China.
Dave Brandon, Jerry Jones, and two weird old guys. Unless I've got that wrong.
A lot of people are pretty mad that Michigan's band is not going to Alabama. So many people are mad that there is a backlash against the mad people. The strength of the reaction is a combination of a number of things, amongst them the sudden reversal, how bush-league we look in comparison to Alabama, and the growing feeling that maybe this wasn't such a coup after all.
Remember back when this thing was scheduled and we were assured that the take from this was going to be epic? Back then, I thought it was a good idea because it seemed impossible for Michigan to schedule a real nonconference opponent in any other way. This came paired with rending of garments about that fact, how college football is broken, etc., but the fact remained that 2012 would be the first season in a long time in which two nonconference games would be against truly interesting opponents. It was the only way.
That assumption has steadily eroded as we find out more and more details and observe Big Ten scheduling trends in general. The conference announced a scheduling alliance with the Pac-12 that will force every league member to undertake regular home-and-home matchups against comparable opponents, no neutral site funny stuff (or at least not much). Michigan State jumped the gun on that agreement to schedule Oregon to a home-and-home. The year after that series finishes, the Spartans will take on Alabama in a home-and-home, in years when they also play Notre Dame. It can be done. Michigan just didn't do it.
As for our Alabama game, Michigan's announced take, $4.7 million, is so low it seems impossible it's correct. If that's all Michigan's getting from the game that's at best equivalent to playing a body-bag game at Michigan Stadium. Assuming random one-off opponent cost a million bucks, Michigan would match 4.7 million in gate receipts alone by charging an average of 52 bucks a ticket.
Michigan's 2011 budget shows $41.3 million for last year's eight-game home season in pure ticket costs minus guarantees, $8.7 million in PSDs, and $13 million in premium seating donations. Everything included, the average price paid for a seat at a Michigan game last year was about 72 dollars. Without all the donations, it was $49 last year; ticket prices increased by an average of $4.64 this year. $4.7 million is about 300k less than they'd get from a home game on ticket face value alone.
Add in Michigan's expenses for getting down to Dallas and the ancillary benefits of having a home game (parking and concessions seem to be around 300k per game and there would be some level of increased donations required to get a season ticket) and either $4.7 million is undershooting it by a lot or Dave Brandon sold a home game to Dallas for no financial benefit whatsoever. Meanwhile, tickets for Dallas start at $125. At that price Michigan could easily afford a home and home with a high-quality opponent.
Surely this can't be right. Dave Brandon didn't send Michigan down to Dallas for no reason whatsoever, right? My previous belief was that there was something we were missing in the numbers. But the sudden about-face about the band—and it was an about face given the contract and the conspicuous "Michigan band" sections on seating charts—suggests that the financial picture could be as grim as that: $400k is a significant chunk when you're already getting hosed backwards and forwards.
I finally took a close look at the contract. We are getting hosed backwards and forwards. Check it:
CSLP will … pay $4,700,000 to Michigan. The team acknowledges that the Team Guarantee constitutes the sole financial compensation for the Team for playing the Game, and that no other compensation will be due or owed to the Team under this Agreement in connection with the Game. … The parties acknowledge that the Team may be entitled to compensation from its conference related to broadcast of the game. CSLP … will … retain all other revenues from the game. CSLP and ESPN acknowledge and agree that (a) all rights to telecast of distribute the programs of the Games have been assigned by Michigan to the Big Ten (b) Michigan has no ability to grant to ESPN any rights for telecast or distribution of Games played pursuant to this agreement and c) as between Michigan and ESPN, ESPN is responsible for obtaining such rights from the Big Ten. Notwithstanding the forgoing, if ESPN has the broadcast rights [they can get a title sponsor, etc.]
The TV point is important: my Big Theory for why this makes sense is that the teams would get the TV rights to themselves because the game is outside of their conference footprints. That's not the case. The money Michigan gets from television will be split twelve ways—every extra dollar they make for playing a big time opponent also goes to OSU.
Michigan gets a couple hundred tickets, a couple suites, seating for the band, a field-level "party suite" and right to purchase 500 tickets near it, and 100 parking passes. Cheerleaders get in free. They get one "official retailer" in the stadium that CSLP takes a 22% of the gross of. So that's nothing. An addendum makes it clear that "hotel rooms, and other costs of transportation and lodging, shall be at the cost and expense of the individual institutions." Even the police escorts are at the respective teams' expense.
The only thing that could possibly redeem this is if the Michigan got the revenue from the uber-expensive tickets, but the contract makes it clear they don't:
CSLP shall also provide a minimum of 25,000 tickets for Michgian to re-sell to its fans as specified on the stadium map as an addendum to this document.
Michigan got no more money than they would for an average regular season game and is charging their fans 60% more (at a minimum!) to attend it. There is no way to read the contract other than this: Dave Brandon got ripped off.
So when Dave Ablauf tells AnnArbor.com that they're treating Dallas like "any other road game," it's because they have to. This supposed financial windfall simply does not exist. At best it's a break-even proposition even without the band. They will probably make more against Air Force the next week. Michigan gets a "bowl game experience" in an NFL stadium without its band at "neutral site" Michigan is twice as far away from as Alabama. Meanwhile, Mark Hollis gets Alabama at home. Michigan got owned by Mark "people u is" Hollis.
You can consider the future created, yo.
BONUS: I hope this came from Brandon.
Several years ago a board member came up with the idea of introducing some of the more prominent personalities in the pages of MGoBlog; thus was born the MGoProfile Series. He's interviewed everyone from Lloyd Brady to WolverineHistorian, to Magnus, Shredder, TomVH, and Brian Cook, as well as plenty others, but there's one important member of the MGoBlogosphere he's still missing.
You've read his comic. You've seen his designs that litter every corner of this site. You're probably wearing a t-shirt designed by him right now, and if you're not well you should get on that. He even once ended WWII with vector graphics. Today the writers of MGoBlog turn the microphone around so you can meet the MGoArtist, MGoCartoonist, MGoProfiler, and MGoLegend himself. It's time to set your Maize-and-Bluephoria Hype-o-Meter to six as we proudly introduce the one, the only (…person who can write a more hyped introduction than this one):
Question from Seth:
There's the profiles, the logos, the banners, the t-shirts, and now the Blockhams…just how much art do you do around here, and how did all of these projects come about?
Hard for me to answer, since I’m not entirely sure how much art is really put forth at MGoBlog. I guess only Brian could answer that.
I can say that I’ve done a whole mess of t-shirts, the logo that was originally born out of the first ‘MGoShirt Alert’ series, the masthead and its entire 2010 coaching search shtick, a few Hello player graphics for Tom and Tim, an occasional ad or graphic for Brian, and yes, the Blockhams. Oh, and the Marvin Robinson with the three on his chest, for Shoe, haha.
As for HOW they all came about… it’s a pretty lengthy story to tell. I guess I proposed the t-shirt poll/promotion to Brian in the summer of ’09(?), and I’m sure many can remember how not-so-smoothly the whole thing began. But after the mascot shirt was declared the winner I was basically contacted by the powers that be about developing several other shirts and continuing where they left off. I do a lot of shirts, and not all of them show up in the catalog, obviously, but it’s been fun partnering with some pretty great people to make them happen, and the real payoff is when you see heroes like Desmond and Woodley wearing things that were born on my living room floor on a laptop with my dog on my feet.
Everything else has evolved from the partnership and trust built from those endeavors, really. The Blockhams came together pretty quickly in November of ’11… I had done a comic before when I worked in the newspaper industry, so I had some experience with the process. As for the characters, I just sketched ‘em up as representatives of the fan base, and bounced them off of a few famous names like Tom and Rishi and MGoShoe to see what they thought of it. And it blossomed pretty fast.
When I got my first MGoShirts they were Zoltan: Space Emperor (of Space), the Woodson-Heisman shadow, and an original-run "Strike a Pose" for the wife, making her one of the first people to have one. This is how she came to tell Desmond Howard "you're wearing my shirt" that one time. Anyway as you read this see if you can guess which shirts of the ones pictured below were Six's and which were "Six Zero Style."
Question from Seth:
We've seen it in the little "60" logo you put on your art, but just what does "Six Zero" mean?
I’ve been a hockey player for pretty much all of my life, and in the nineties I was getting pretty respectable—not Jim Lahey good, but one of the stars of the various leagues I played in. My whole life I had worn #6, but being that it was the nineties, and everyone from Rick Tocchet to Radek Bonk was wearing high circus numbers, I wanted something that’d be uniquely mine, that no one else in the entire league would ever wear. Stupid, I know.
I remember bouncing back and forth between 46, 64, and 60 before settling on the latter. I’ve since gone back to the single #6, which looks pretty good on a left winger crashing the boards, if I do say so.
Anyways, a decade later, when I finally decided to stop becoming a reader and an actual member of the community, it just sounded right. It was also around the same time that I wished to create a brand name for my freelance pursuits, and so I slapped it on there as well.
Not gonna lie; we were kind of hoping you were a mini-mite blessed with endless guts, puckhandling skills and eligibility, who's devastatingly effective on the power play.
Question from Brian:
Why isn't there a shaggy haired dog with glasses that speaks only MGoBlog quotes in the Blockhams? I mean, seriously.
The dog. Brian has no idea how ironic this actually is… I was gonna make the dog shaggy with black ears and have him constantly working on his ‘blog.’ Subtle, right? But there’s some show called Family Something with a dog named Brian, and I’m not a big fan of feeling unoriginal, so I backed off.
This doesn't matter! I am nothing like Family Guy! NOTHING!
Question from Brian's bolded subconscious:
All of your interviewees had to answer so now it's your turn: How did you become a Michigan fan, and how did you find MGoBlog? (Please answer in Haiku and/or a CHART!!!)
It’s hard for me explain exactly what made me the Michigan fan I am today, but I can recall a few very specific events that made it happen. First of all, I remember being a boy some Saturday, and scrolling through the channels to find some football on. I don’t know what the date was, or even where it was being played, but I can very clearly remember seeing Jim Harbaugh roll out of the pocket in that crisp white jersey with the single-color numbered #4 and the Northwestern stripes, and that brilliant high-contrast helmet with the weird design and the stripes… and it just spoke to me. For a while I even thought it was Pittsburgh or something, because those are the kind of presumptions a kid makes growing up in Pennsylvania. But there was something about that image, that moment that I identified with, and although it would be years before anything came of it, a seed was planted.
Growing up in a Penn State family, we watched a lot of football, mostly NFL and the Nittany Lions. And I sort of saw myself as the black sheep or something, because I just didn’t want to be a Penn State fan. I remember shocking the world one night in ’86 when I announced I did NOT want to watch PSU play for the national title against Miami. As time went on, I felt this need to start watching college football more closely, because there was something about the fans and their devotion, something mythic and deeper than pro ball that piqued my curiosity. And I would need my own team to do that, and Penn State would not be it.
From there it was easy. As I learned about the sport, I learned—on my own, as a kid, mind you-- about the tradition of Michigan, the reputation of Schembechler football, the uniforms, the songs. It all spiked from there, and they were my de facto college team. But, I also became a ridiculous hockey junkie around the same time, so everything sort of took a back seat to the NHL. It wasn’t until college that I REALLY began to gorge myself on Michigan football.
In the late 90’s I became totally devoted to Michigan, culminating in that amazing season in 1997. By then my demand for relevant information became insatiable, and so I took to the Information Super.. something, mostly in the form of the official site and MLive.com. For several years MLive and The Wolverine became daily staples for me, and eventually each failed to quench my thirst for info on the team and its various efforts on and off the field.
One day I found this site called MGoBlog, and was amazed by the depths of fanaticism and loyalty. It was like I found some inner circle of UM addicts, and I was intimidated by them. Them and their vulture-like attacks on wrongly cited stats, their passionate soap-box rants, and their bizarre and exclusive humor. And I wanted to be like them.
For a year or two I perused the site occasionally, mystified and threatened and envious of people like ChiTownBlue, Dex and some guy named Brian. I remember the first time Brian actually recognized my presence during an online chat or something, and I felt like Tom Cruise buying into a higher level of Scientology or something. By the time Henne finished rubber-arming his way through a sloppy OSU game, I was reading the blog just about every day. And by the opening week of the Rich Rod era, I couldn’t stand it anymore. I signed up and the rest is history.
Helmet wings to Six Zero: "Join us, and together we will rule the Big Ten with pants that cover our ankles!"
Question from Ace:
Which schools have offered you? Which are going after you the hardest right now?
Funny you should say that… in the process of shopping for my MFA in design. SCAD is the early frontrunner, but unless they offer me a full scholarship for t-shirt production it may not happen.
Question from Heiko:
I have never once seen you run a bubble screen. Do you have something against this particular play?
I do not want to talk about that play. EVER. And that’s it.
Question from Ace:
Talking about Michigan specifically, which coach has been in contact with you, and what's your impression of the coaching staff and the school?
Dude, it’s kinda crazy. The coaches pretend like I don’t even exist sometimes….?
Question from Seth:
When I type in "Six Zero" in Google I get some weird stuff like ladies scarf retailers, a London-based music management group, hockey jersey concepts, NSFW sexy Korean comedy, and the score of whatever crappy, defense-tastic SEC game happens to be on. Which of these are you, and which are someone trying to cash in on your hard-earned fame?
I can definitely say, at least in terms of my freelance ventures, I kinda wish I didn’t use ‘Six Zero.’ There’s a lot of Six Zero’s out there, even and especially in the design world. I actually have a custom logo that I often use for myself, and I’ve been thinking about re-branding my branding business under a new name. To be continued…
As for your above list, I’m the hockey jersey concepts. Done a lot of work for Icethetics.info and Puckdrawn.com. I even was a finalist for the Pensacola Ice Flyers logo a few years back, but lost out on what I think was some kind of backdoor deal between friends. I say that smugly because I think their logo is garbage.
I agree. This is sweet!
Question from Brian's bolded subconscious:
Can you describe just what MGoBlog has meant to you? Please submit your answer in table or chart format (and supply Excel spreadsheet).
MGoBlog isn’t the official page of Michigan football. But it’s essentially the official page of the fan base, or at least its hardcore contingent, as far as I’m concerned. There are times it feels like an empire, and there are other times where it feels like an animal that has yet to fully mature. But when you look at how it has evolved in even the last few years, and how self-sufficient it has become, it’s very easy to believe that MGoBlog will become a part of Michigan sports culture and the fan experience for years to come.
Obviously our generation(s) has been afforded the means to follow Michigan sports in ways that previous fan bases could never imagine, and that’s changed the entire experience of being a fan in general for both good and bad. The blog community makes the experience more individualistic, more single-player than ever before. Our father probably sat at the bar or in a pre-man cave arrangement, watching the game with his closest, most trusted friends on antenna cable or just shooting breeze on a two-week old victory. Men. Talking. (shudders)
Fast forward to now and the average MGoBlog user is tuning out his wife or his prof or whatever to log into the site and rant about team events that happened less than five minutes ago with people he doesn’t even know. It amazes me sometimes—I have friends here, people that I know—how they will react to things, what they will say and what they like and dislike—people that are good to me and watch my back and vice versa. And I’ve never even met them!! For some, I don’t even know their name—and most of them could walk right past me and I wouldn’t even know. And that’s a good thing, because we connect with people we’d otherwise never have access to.
Obviously it’s not all exclusive to MGoBlog. We’re moving more and more to a society where people thrive as anonymous, online-driven personalities, and the actual carbon-based life-forms we meet on a day-to-day basis are more like, I don’t know, alter egos. Our kids could conceivably live in a world of Clark Kents who don’t really show their true self until they log into their online community of choice.
Wait, what was the question??
Also, Excel is the second worst application ever. Ask the Shredder about what I think is worse.
Not touching that.
Question from Ace:
If you had to scout yourself, what are your biggest strengths as a
player blogger, and what are you looking to improve for your senior year and beyond?
Aha, knew this was coming—I always put this on everyone else, and now I have to take my own medicine. I have some say on what the site looks like and all that, but not in some maniacal take-over-the world way. It’s more like a client-freelance relationship, and I’m just trying to give Brian what he wants and help him realize that visually, or at least give him ideas. I’d like to think MGoBlog is more of a brand than it was before I got my hands on it, if that makes any sense. I’m not really on staff, but I kinda feel like I am. Sure, I can admit I’d like to be recognized as a part-timer or something, but things are working well the way it is, so whatever.
I also think I’ve found my voice in terms of posting, and I try to keep things lighthearted and optimistic. We all have unique perspectives on team events and wins and losses, and I enjoy getting philosophical on them from time to time. I remember the night after Tate-to-Mathews vs. ND ’09, and writing a small post about how, after the game, I went out to the back yard with my dog and, in the chilly autumn air, watched the sun set over the mountains in the West. I talked about the special magic that took place that day, and that despite being a couple hundred miles away, I felt like I was a part of it.
I’m settled down with all of the blessings and trappings of work and home and a young family, so I just don’t make it out very often anymore. But yeah, I feel a part of what happens in that football stadium, and I’d like to think that comes through in what I contribute to the blog.
We don't have jackets or anything so if you get a check… But don't tell Heiko that because we have him convinced there's a hazing process.
Question from Brian:
Let's come back to the be-speckled, shaggy haired dog question. You do realize this would be hilarious right?
Yes, I do. I’ve kind of dropped the ball with the dog, Fielding—he’s long overdue for the spotlight. I planned on at least having the baby maul him and stuff, but neither of them are starring roles, unfortunately. Maybe I could kill the dog and replace him with Brian?
Question from Seth:
After an epic game in 2010, Wife Day dropped off the Michigan schedule. Any truth to the rumor that Dave Brandon canceled this in favor of playing a Division II Mahjong Team at a neutral site?
Wife Day. Insanity.
It started out innocent enough, just a play on Brian’s previews and having a little fun at my own expense. But then it BLEW UP, which was kinda cool at first, reading some of the responses and then getting email from my inner circle of MGoFriends. But then, sometime the next day it got a little out of control, these dudes telling me what I need to do to score with my wife or just plain up talking about her. I didn’t care at all what anyone said about me, but I went out of my way to reinforce that the blog was not welcome to make jokes about my amazing spouse. Especially because our family got some bad news that very same day, and none of us really felt like laughing anymore.
Last year I got all kinds of questions about Wife Day II, and it was obvious that there’d be no topping it. So why try.
Brandon and I almost cut a deal for Wife Day, but only if I agreed to be followed around by a mascot all afternoon. And a man standing beside the dressing rooms playing 80’s arcade games on my phone is already too conspicuous for the management of Ann Taylor Loft the way it is, so it’s not likely to happen.
Brandon is altering the deal; pray he doesn't alter it any further.
Question from Seth:
If you had just one chance to write the best diary ever or else the entire world would be vanquished by an intergalactic army of laser-wielding monkeys with wings, what would you choose for a lead graphic?
I’d draw, in vector format of course, Denard riding in on a dolphin with that cool unicorn-fart-gun with Lloyd Brady over one shoulder and Charlie Blockham on the other. He’d be wearing my banned Mike Martin Hulk Smash shirt. He wouldn’t use reins to guide the dolphin, he’d just punch it to get it to follow his wishes. And the dolphin would actually be riding LaMarr Woodley. And all of them would be mauling laser-wielding donkeys like an angry Jake Long.
I'm sorry, the correct answer was Denard riding a dolphin with a unicorn fart gun and Lloyd Brady on the LEFT shoulder and Charlie Blockham on the right. We salute our new winged monkey overlords.
Question from Brian:
I mean seriously, the dog. You could have him look like me and bark out things like "I am a spread zealot no foolies!" This is not a question.
I’ve done talking dogs before. Funny thing is, it gives them too much presence. Like, when they’re NOT talking, you’re wondering why they’re NOT talking, or what they’re thinking. And besides, the temptation to draw Brian Cook the dog doing dog things, like sniffing his butt or humping furniture, would be VERY tempting.
I do not understand why you would be tempted to do this.
This comes from a user who asked to remain anonymous:
"Why haven't you profiled me yet?"
MGoProfile has been a big hit, much bigger than I originally anticipated it would be. The first profile and the entire concept was born literally in about twenty minutes in an email exchange between me and TomVH.
As for why I haven’t profiled XXXX yet… well, I think we set the bar pretty high early on with regards to who is profiled and how well they could turn it into something uniquely their own. Jamie Mac killed his, and Blue in South Bend’s was epic as well. So I feel a certain responsibility of who gets selected... I'm fairly certain my own will fail to live up, haha. It’s also extra work and I don’t always have time for it. In the summer of 2010 I did one every week, and it was really big, but then last year there was just a whole lot of changes in my family life that clearly made MGoProfile a low-priority affair. This year I’ve resigned myself to at least doing one per month during the offseason, which is still more work than you might think. As such, that’s not a lot of profiles, and so the slots fill up very quickly.
As for who gets the nods and when, it’s not really my choice anymore. I just try to fill the loudest demands. (Looks at Aquaman tellingly).
Actually this went pretty quickly except for the part where the profile-ee wants to micromanage the responses and format because it's his…heheheh
Question from Heiko:
There's been a lot of talk on this site about pooping impossible things. Could you tell us what one should consume in order to excrete gold, rainbows, and/or magic? We don't cover that in med school.
I hate to say this… I recently grew up, and now fart jokes just don’t work anymore. I’m sorry. Be careful, kids, or this will happen to you too. Hopefully this helps, and thanks for taking the time to put all this together.
In all seriousness Six Zero has done an amazing job in helping MGoBlog establish a professional look and identity. Anywhere you find Michigan fans you'll see one of his shirts. From the page that loads with the iPhone app to the shirt store to the imagery inside Hail to the Victors and on so many pages of the blog itself, his artistic talent and skills make him an important part of our operation.
Today's recruiting roundup discusses E.J. Levenberry's impending announcement, the status of Su'a Cravens, a big-time new 2014 offer, and much more.
Levenberry Announcement Set for Tuesday
VA LB E.J. Levenberry has long been one of the top targets on Michigan's board, with the coaching staff holding open a spot for him despite turning away several top-flight linebackers recently. Come Tuesday at 3 pm, we'll find out if he's using that spot, as Levenberry will make his choice between Michigan and Florida State. The tea leaves are difficult to read on this one. Rivals national analyst Mike Farrell has long maintained that the Seminoles held the lead, but after Levenberry's visit for the Spring Game weekend, he's backing off a bit from that stance. Scout's Kristen Kenney caught up this week with E.J.'s father ($), who says it's currently "dead even" between the two schools. The latest Michigan visit did make a big impact, however:
"Brady Hoke is building something special at Michigan. The coaching staff there is like regular people. It's a family place, and that stood out to us. Put it this way, we were at the spring game and 400 or more guys who used to play for the school came back to the game. That speaks volumes as to what that program means to people."
By all accounts, this will be a toss-up. We'll find out next week if Michigan can add another four-star linebacker to the fold.
Another blue-chip defender also set an announcement date this week, though Michigan's chances look less strong in this case. CA S Su'a Cravens posted on Twitter that he'll make his choice on June 6th, his mom's birthday (awww). After entire minutes of fretting that Cravens has yet to visit Michigan, the five-star safety also posted that he'll take unofficial visits before his decision; though he's declined to name the schools he'll visit, the Wolverines presumably would get a trip. Still, given that he's already got a date in mind, it's logical to think that he's also got a school in mind; the general consensus is that school is USC. Cravens recently told Scout's Brandon Huffman($) about interest in Alabama and intended trips to Michigan, Nebraska, and Ohio State, so those schools appear to comprise his final group along with the Trojans and UCLA. Unless he has a game-changing visit to Ann Arbor—not out of the question with this staff—I'd presume Cravens will stay in-state.
Xxplosive/West Coast... Er, Receiver
Sam Webb's latest DetNews profile is on CA WR Sebastian Larue, who's emerged as one of the team's top targets at wideout. Larue states in the article that he currently has no favorites, but would "definitely" like to visit Michigan; he also has family from Flint, which gives the Wolverines a nice in. Brandon Huffman also provides a scouting report:
"He very well could be the most explosive pass catcher in the region," said Scout.com West regional manager Brandon Huffman. "He's a true game-breaker at receiver and kick and punt returns, and is electric in the open field. He's the kind of athlete capable of catching a little 5-yard hitch, making five or six guys miss, and taking it to the house. He has strong hands and is not just a deep threat; he's a polished and smooth route runner who knows how to get open."
Speaking of receivers, IL WR Laquon Treadwell spoke with Webb about his Spring Game visit ($), and while most presumed this was the case, it's always nice to get confirmation:
To date Treadwell hasn’t settled on a list of favorites nor has he determined which schools he plans to officially with possible exception. Will Ann Arbor be one of his destinations?
“Yeah, I think so,” he replied.
Meanwhile, five-star MD CB Kendall Fuller told Scout's Kristen Kenney($) that Michigan "felt like a second home," in large part because of his relationship with former Good Counsel teammate Blake Countess. It's still an uphill battle for Fuller with his two older brothers having played at Virginia Tech, but it looks like the Wolverines have a realistic shot, which I wouldn't have said two weeks ago.
247's Steve Wiltfong tweeted that IL RB Ty Isaac will not visit any more schools this spring. I'd take that as a positive, since Isaac has visited Michigan multiple times and seems to be growing weary of the recruiting process. If he were to decide without taking any more visits, the Wolverines would be the prohibitive favorites.
In 2014 news, Michigan offered 6'2", 225-pound SC ATH K.C. Crosby, who already holds over 20 BCS offers and projects to be one of the top recruits in his class. Crosby projects to either linebacker or tight end, and 247's Clint Brewster reports that Michigan hasn't stated which position they're recruiting Crosby to play ($).
Shane Morris Feature and MOAR Four-Stars
ESPN released this Elite11 video feature on Shane Morris:
Yes, Shane can dunk (a football in this case, though he says he can dunk a basketball as well); we also get some good insight from the Elite11 coaches, who love Morris's arm strength but want to see him dial it back a bit on the shorter routes.
ESPN wasn't the only recruiting service to update their rankings recently, as both Scout and 247 did a little reshuffling of their top lists. The Scout 300 barely changed, as you can see on TTB, though three players—Jourdan Lewis, Gareon Conley, and Jaron Dukes—got bumped up to four stars.
247 made some changes to their Top247, and while most were relatively minor, five Ohio prospects entered the list. Three of those five are Michigan commits: Ben Gedeon (#171), DeVeon Smith (#230), and Conley (#236). Smith and Conley both seem to be rising in the eyes of scouts, especially Conley, who's picked up four-star ratings from the last three services to update (Scout, ESPN, and now 247, with Rivals being the lone holdout).
After those updates, 15 of Michigan's 17 commits now are four-star or higher on at least three of the four recruiting services. Khalid Hill is now the only commit you can justifiably categorize as a sleeper now that Dukes is a four-star on two sites.
Two things. One: I feel bad today in about three ways. I'm taking a day off. Apologies. I'll have everything you ever wanted to know about Allen Gant on Monday.
Two: I assume the box you see at the right hand side will turn into kitten fireworks around 4:30, when the Kickstarter funds, and funds spectacularly. Given our numbers there's a fair chance everyone reading this has already participated.
For that we thank you. This is a massive humblebrag opportunity, so here goes: it boggles the mind that we could raise almost 50k for our preview magazine.
On the odd chance that someone reading this hasn't signed up: you've got about four hours to get in on the festivities. We've added a launch party in June that everyone who signs up will get invited to, and there is of course the massively bad idea that is the Brian Photobomb t-shirt. Primarily, you will receive a magazine full of fancy thoughts about your 2012 Michigan Wolverines.
Go Blue, and thanks.
In 1961 IBM Labs made the first computer talk. What it said was "Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do. I'm half crazy, all for the love of you! It won't be a stylish marriage, I can't afford a carriage. But you'll look sweet upon the seat of a bicycle built for two!"
My grandpa loved that song to the point he would be constantly finding socially acceptable excuses to show off he knew the verses. That this song has been trapped in my and every person in Ann Arbor's heads this week would tickle him to no end. This is your fault Taylor Lewan.
Twosie Mania struck Ann Arbor this week when Lewan parked his bicycle built for two in front of Lamda Lamda Lamda.* User morepete the Great kindly did the cropping and released the PhotoshopGiMPCracken. Taylor promptly appeared at Iwo Jima and Tiananmen Square, Gettysburg, and V-Day parades. He crossed the moon with E.T., crossed Abbey Road, served as centerpiece for a
Michelangelo [some other ninja turtle's] masterpiece, and kindly shuttled Amira Gulch around Kansas. He's in ur Windows XP, playing as ur paperboy, and much much more. Then Chunkums put him in Punch Out and won the internet:
You have no idea how close this came to being front-paged twice, complete with music bars. Keep training, Denard: next up is Saban Popinski.
* I know it's Chi Psi, and that they don't like being called "Chipsy." They were the likeable-nerdy frat in my day and from the looks of the photo that hasn't changed.
How did Devin really do? My "football hmmm" series was partly inspired and in some part informed by Space Coyote's football fundamentals course offering from a few years ago. I was ready to wistfully mention him among the MCaliburs of yesteryear when suddenly a Spring Game Breakdown of Devin's pass plays appeared in the diaries. Sample? Sample.
DG’s footwork is pretty good here. It’s a 3 step drop and he gains depth with his first step. His next two steps are shorter and more compact to gather his body. His shoulder look good and his eyes are down field. He steps into the pocket, but seems to relax and doesn’t use his legs in his throw (even though he steps into it a little). This is why it looks like he is just playing catch in the back yard. The ball goes where his shoulders are pointing, and thus the result. Let’s break it down a bit further.
I'll have it front-paged sometime this week but you can read it now. Professor Space Coyote (of Space!) is your Diarist of the Week.
The icers you really really really missed. Maybe not to the degree of the program-redefining seniors of the 132nd football team, but there was something special about last year's hockey seniors, from Hagelin's flag to Louie's love expertise to Rust's checking, etc., even before a goddamn early whistle stole the national championship from them. Your hockey man CenterIce took the opportunity of the NHL playoffs to catch up with last year's seniors in their rookie seasons. Hagelin obviously has made his mark with the Rangers as another non-Gaborik Gaborik, most recently drawing a three-game suspension from confirmed Swede-hating Gary Bettman. Rust's AHL line doesn't do justice to the force he was on the ice for the Scranton Baby Pens
a misnomered Columbus affiliate (ed-S: wow that was stupid). Love Expert Louie had a good season in the minors, two thirds of that in the ECHL. Scooter, Burlon, Langlais, Hogan, Winnett, Llewellyn, and even Fallon are found.
Etc. Video of the Spring Game is broken up by QBs by Thorin. Go16blue created estimate rankings for unranked guys and added them to Ace's Big Ten recruiting roundup. Tennis update. Blockhams discover how Twitter works in an information vacuum.
Best of the Board:
WE'D TAKE THEM TO WAR, BUT NOT FORT WORTH
So the Michigan Marching Band was notified they would not be going to Dallas, because there's the barest justification for not doing so, and because no matter how much you're making, the quoted $400,000 or the actual $200,000 it would cost to fly to band down and bus them around and put them up in some halogenated Radisson in that soulless outlet mall of a city is a lot of money that could be flipped to profit if those seats are sold to alumni. MMB is pissed, fans are pissed, and the internet is all "Don't Stop Us Now!" Obligatory MMB pantomime of Queen:
To MMB: srsly, there are worse things in life than missing a chance to see a city whose top cultural attractions are "the largest collection of Spanish art outside of Spain" and SMU. If you guys can parlay the outrage into a deal to travel to ANY Big Ten town this year instead, my advice is to take it, unless you're really into investigating the Kennedy assassination and/or seeing what a city looks like if it was designed by the same people who came up with cubicles and think goal-oriented dolphins are inspiring.
Obviously Dave Brandon is one of those people. He probably thinks Dallas is awesome. Dallas thinks Dave Brandon is awesome. I think Michigan football is awesome so I can't boycott it on TV even if they come out in maize helmets and white pants and bumblebee jerseys, and I wasn't going to the game anyway. Giving your customers less for the same price is a tried and true business strategy, as is offsetting expenditures by cutting something else, in this case Borges's raise. We're in favor of paying coordinators SEC coordinator prices (though when you realize they could cover 10 more starting annual salaries or five really good jobs for the same cost it's a little jarring) and DB is in favor of running Michigan with business acumen. I guess what I'm saying is I can only criticize so much when I benefit from Michigan being flush with cash. It's galling, but it's part of the bargain that got us a stylish carriage instead of a twosie.
THE ALL-2000s TEAM
Archived from MGoBlue.com
Brian did something like this in 2010 but Wolverine Devotee took the concept to a three-deep, which means you get to argue whether Zach Kaufman or Lawrence Reid gets that last LB spot instead of whether Brandon Graham or Woodley was the best DE. His has Mallett, Jerome Jackson, Carson Butler, Carl Tabb, Calvin Bell, Alex Mitchell, Pat Massey, Chris Graham, Scott McClintock, Markus Curry, Grant Mason and Jeremy LeSeuer, all of whom I'd drop in favor of Tate Forcier, Kevin Dudley, Martavious Odoms, Greg Mathews, Martell Webb, Dave Pearson, Stevie Brown (as a SAM), Lawrence Reid, Donovan Warren, Troy Woolfolk, and Jamar Adams, respectively. I'd also lose Ron Bellamy to give me Adam Finley, who could kick or punt if either Rivas or Zoltan go down.
PUNKED BY WOODLEY
Don't miss this opportunity to see Breaston back in maize and blue. No not that maize and blue, I mean the one George Washington would have worn if he had fabulous pecs.
This is go16blue's response to Dantonio offering our long snapper a scholarship:
Guh, another head to head recruiting loss to MSU. When will it end? And don't give me any of that "It's because MSU is desperate enough to spend a scholarship on a long snapper" bullshit, we all know it's because Dantonio is a master recruiter.
Two threads on RCMB completely agree. Coming soon: a list of the top 30 recruits in Michigan in 2013 and how MSU has way more guys from that list than Michigan.
Edit: I forgot your moment of zen.
It's this again, of course.