to play football, not to play trumpet
"I will wear it with pride."
To a man, the seniors of Team 133 thanked the University of Michigan Club of Greater Detroit for the rings presented to them at last night's annual football bust. They may have been told to do so; the sincerity rang true, regardless.
To earn those rings, the seniors endured far more tumult than the average Wolverine class. A handful committed to Lloyd Carr's class of 2008, witnessing a coaching change before they ever set foot on campus. Every one made the jarring transition from Rich Rodriguez to Brady Hoke, who had the privilege of introducing each senior, charmingly butchering the more complicated majors—the sciences presented a particularly tricky articulative obstacle—and presenting their rings with the requisite bear hug.
Then came the stories, the laughter, and in one case, tears.
Ricky Barnum, heading to the School of Social Work next year after graduating with a degree in Afro-American and African Studies, implored the audience to "hit me up" if they ever need a grant or proposal written.
Will Campbell thanked the strength coaches for turning him "from a 346-pound slob to a 308-pound stud, as you can see."
Brady Hoke, before introducing fullback Paul Gyarmati, noted that Gyarmati's father played bass with Carlos Santana for several years. Gyarmati, off the cuff, thanked his father for "stealing my thunder."
While introducing Jack Kennedy, graduating with degrees in Mathematics and Physics, Hoke quipped, "it was tough, but I got him through."
Elliott Mealer, lumberjack beard intact, started his speech by saying, "I cleaned up for you tonight." He finished with a quote from his late father: "If you don't have good dreams, you have nightmares."
Patrick Omameh, Dr. Arthur D. Robinson Award winner for his academic accomplishments, sweat profusely during his improvised speech. "It's my trademark," he said, with no hint of shame.
Craig Roh thanked Jesus Christ for getting him through two-a-days and fall camp.
Roy Roundtree lit up while reliving his recruitment, recalling high school teammates Michael Shaw and Brandon Moore telling the then-Purdue commit that he might get a Michigan offer—"Man, I get that offer, I'm coming to Michigan," he said, noting how good he looked in a winged helmet.
Roundtree later broke down in tears while thanking Director of Academic Counseling Greg Harden, whom he credited for getting him through Michigan; his genuine thankfulness, even awe, at the prospect of going to grad school was heartwarming.
Floyd Simmons revealed that during games he liked to sit to J.T. Floyd's right on the bench, spelling out "Floyd" "Simmons" with their jersey nameplates, "but no one ever gets a picture of it."
Vincent Smith joked about chasing rabbits in Pahokee, and thanked the coaches for teaching him how to cut-block defensive ends—quite well, one might add.
Hoke called out Steve Wilson for getting into Michigan State's medical school. After mock boos from the crowd, Wilson noted that, yes, he got into State, but the only medical school he really wants to attend is Michigan.
Going last, of course, was Denard Robinson, who thanked virtually everyone associated with the program, including the academic staff that corralled the self-proclaimed "free spirit" and helped him become the first member of his family to graduate from a four-year college. He also apologized to Al Borges—and his wife—for sending him home with so many headaches before closing, aptly, with "this is Michigan, fergodsakes."
The MVP of the bust, however, was also voted Bo Schembechler MVP by the team. Jordan Kovacs, a late arrival after attending the Burlsworth Award ceremony for nation's top former walk-on, brought down the house with his opener:
“I’d first like to thank coach Rich Rodriguez for allowing a slow, unathletic and undersized kid to play at the University of Michigan. That was really nice of him to let Drew Dileo play football here.”
Kovacs, who also won the Bob Ufer Spirit Award, finished by saying he was proud to call himself many things, walk-on included, but most of all to be a Michigan Man.
On this night, as the seniors had their football graduation of sorts—a few with more football ahead, many more on their way to becoming doctors, lawyers, social workers, or teachers—it was a fitting close from the captain. All have earned the right to wear their rings with pride.
- The team will focus on fundamentals in practice over the next week or so.
- Team will leave for Tampa on the 23rd.
- The NFL discussion with Taylor Lewan will continue after the bowl.
- Devin Gardner had an ankle issue after the OSU game (was spotted walking around in a boot). Otherwise no new boo boos.
“You know, we’re obviously thrilled to be heaing to the Outback Bowl our fifth time. The bowl itself, the organization, the volunteers, they’ve always been gracious hosts. The city of Tampa and Clearwater do a tremendous job of embracing the bowl, making it a great event for both teams. It’s an opportunity to play a very good football team in South Carolina. 10-2, Coach Spurrier is one of the iconic coaches in this country. Laid a great foundation and has done a great job at South Carolina, really did a great job at Florida when he was the head ball coach down there. So it’s going to be a great football game, one that we’re excited to be a part of against a great opponent.”
How much do you know at this point about South Carolina?
“I know they have a really good front from a defensive perspective. I think they gave up 17 points a game. Very athletic. Lost at Florida and at LSU, so their two losses were on the road against two very good football teams. I think offensively the quarterback has done a nice job. I think the coach is a hard guy to please at that position. Lattimore won’t play obviously, and that’s a shame, because he’s one of the great football players in the country, but from that standpoint, you just start breaking them down.”
Your brother coached with Steve Spurrier. Were you able to get to know him and form a relationship as a result?
“You know, a little bit. Not a huge one, but Jon was there, my brother was there three years, Steve’s last three, as his defensive coordinator. Steve and his wife are really nice people. They treated my brother well. Him and Jon talk back and forth, but it’ll be a fun football game to be a part of.”
How much will the time off help Denard recover and do more than he was doing at the end of the regular season?
“Well, I think we hope for all of them -- they go through the grind. It’s good for all of them to heal up a little bit. We’ll start practicing at the end of the week on Friday and Saturday. They’ll do some lifting and running this week. But to get them away from the pounding a little bit helps them all.”
Any injuries resulting from the OSU game?
“No. Not really. Devin had a little bit of an ankle, but he’ll be fine by the time we get started on Friday.”
How do you improve your ability to run the ball and limiting turnovers for this game?
“Well I think we always work hard on running the football. That’s not going to change. We always preach and teach the mindset of running the football and finishing at the line of scrimmage and backs finishing on safeties and the ninth man or eighth man that people want to get in the box. But I think you just keep plowing through it going forward, and your demands and your expectations have to be met.”
How much emphasis will be put on developing younger players?
“Yeah, we’ll start going Friday, Saturday this weekend, and then Friday, Saturday next weekend. We have finals coming up and all those kinds of things, so those will be more of just the fundamentals and the basics, kind of getting back to it for everyone. We’ll use a lot of that time to help develop the young guys. And then as we go through the bowl practices, we’ll devote some time to those young guys and what we want to get accomplished.”
When do you leave for Tampa? And what’s your philosophy on working your players too hard vs. not enough?
“That’s always the fine line, to be honest with you. We’re going to leave on the 23rd and practice when we get down there, kind of get acclimated to where we’ll be and all those things, which I don’t completely know yet. Mike Vollmer and Bob Lopez are down there now securing the sites, but we’ll go down the 23rd. Most game planning should be all done by the time we leave, so that’s always a positive. We’ll kind of judge where we’re at from health, from the mindset of where we are and what we’ll do.”
Why has Hopkins left the team?
“You’d have to ask him. I know we already discussed it.”
When did he let you know?
“He let me know.”
The Big Ten has struggled against the SEC. Do you feel like you’re playing for the conference?
“I think you always are. I think you’re playing for Michigan and your seniors first, but we’re proud to be in the Big Ten. Why we wouldn’t want to represent and have that be part of our focus, it’d be really bad for us not to feel that way about the Big Ten.”
What do you want to see from Devin?
“Continued growth as a quarterback. His development is just like some of those guys, you know, Willie Henry’s growth -- only it’s a little different because he’s a quarterback. Willie Henry’s a nose tackle or a three-technique. So Willie’s not touching the ball a whole lot, right? So I think his continued growth to playing in big football games and environments not in Michigan Stadium.”
How has playing a tough schedule prepared you for the level of talent you’ll face in the bowl game?
“I think there’s always a benefit. When you play good football teams, and whether you win or lose, you learn how you have to play. You learn that you have to do a better job taking care of the football. You have to run the football better. You have to get the ball back for your offense at the end of the game to give them the opportunity to score. Those are all the things you take out of the last game that we didn’t do.”
How important is it to win this bowl game?
“I think as we would look at it, for our seniors, that ninth win -- you always want 10 when you’re here. It’s kind of an expectation. But sending them out in a real positive fashion and I think you build some momentum going into winter conditioning.”
Is it harder to vote in the coaches’ poll knowing that your choices are made public?
“Yeah, I don’t know if it’s -- you know, I think you vote your conscience. I don’t know if I would have voted any differently than I did.”
Why did you have Michigan 15th?
“Becaue I think we’re a good team. You look at the opponents that we played compared to other schedules that are out there. It would be easy to play a lesser schedule, but I think this has helped us grow as a program and as a team.”
You met with Taylor this last week?
Any words of wisdom?
“You know that I don’t have a whole lot of words of wisdom, but we’ll talk after the bowl game. We’ll do our due diligence and trying to get him as much information as we can.”
When do you expect to hear back from the advisory committee?
“I don’t know.”
What kind of a test will it be for him to go up against Jadaveon Clowney?
“Well I haven’t talked to him since we found out who we were playing. But if you’re truly a competitor, I think it would be a tremendous, fun opportunity.”
What are the tangible rewards of playing a tough schedule? Seems like teams aren’t really rewarded for it.
“Well I don’t think you are, but I think for us and this program and the future of the program, I think it’s a real positive. Playing in a kickoff classic in Arlington, everything that goes along with it and how you prepare, it’s kind of a big stage. So I think that all helps.”
Is there anyone you’ve coached or coached against that you can compare to Jadaveon Clowney?
“Mm mm. He’s pretty good.”
What’s your feeling about Te’O and the Heisman? Brian Kelly said if Te’O doesn’t win it, why not just make it an offensive award?
“I think if I were Brian Kelly, I’d say the same thing. You know, my thoughts on it? I think everyone’s going to have an opinion, every voter’s going to have an opinion on does he do enough? But no one really knows what he does for that team. I think he’s worthy of it. But I don’t know if Johnny Manziel’s not worthy of it. And I don’t know if it’s just Johnny Manziel. I don’t even know who’s up for it. But Te’O, being a defensive guy, I’m kind of in his corner.”
Thoughts on the MAC getting their first BCS bowl?
“I think it’s great for that league. The MAC’s a great league.”
Why did you invite Hagerup to camp even though he was suspended for four games? He said it meant a lot to him.
“Well I thought it was important for him to be around his teammates. There were some mistakes that were made that we’ve all made -- some of you maybe haven’t -- but it’s nice for a kid to be around his teammates.”
Members of the younger generation find this appealing.
Over the weekend BTN released an online survey (still alive) that let the fans opine on the divisions and their stupid names and how they ought to be reorganized and stuff. Online poll is online poll but I was ready to leap the second DIABEETUS posted it on the board because a.) Who Michigan plays and what is at stake for those games is important to me, and b.) There's been a growing sense since "Leaders and Legends," that sense emphatically underlined with the addition of Rutgers and Maryland, that general fan-think matters diddly to Delany and co.; opportunities to put an opinion where they might see it don't come along every day.
One of the questions in the survey asked us to rate the importance of three divisional considerations: geography, parity, and keeping traditional rivals together. They're all kinda important, and if there's any silver lining to adding two broke schools from the east coast it's that 7-team divisions are a better fit than 6-teams for an alignment that doesn't sacrifice any of those ideals.
The reason is because our conference is clustered in groups of three or four. Minnesota-Iowa-Wisconsin always had their circle of hate that has just enough room to add Nebraska. Illinois-Northwestern and Purdue-Indiana are an intermingled Chicagoland group that shouldn't be separated. Our block is the Michigan schools and Ohio State. Penn State could attach to that except it throws parity off, their awful thing be damned. Maryland and Rutgers turn the eastern part of the conference into two groups of three to match the west's groups of four:
The thick dark blue lines are the rivalries that ought to be protected within divisions and played every year. The light blue are old trophies and close non-trophy rivalries you keep if you can. The little green ones are those with the recent derived trophies or a proximity thing that isn't yet a full thing. Divisions then ought to pair one of the threesomes with one of the foursomes. Since one of the foursomes has Nebraska and Wisconsin in it and the other doesn't, the divisions ought to be obvious:
|In the Weight Room Division||In the Community Division|
|Ohio State||Penn State|
Don't care about the division names just yet. Let's check this against the three considerations.
Geography: Well Michigan, Ohio, Illinois and Indiana make a nice little Great Lakes grouping. Here's a table of distances written in driving hours (HT Google). The upper left quadrant is our division; lower-right is the other one:
You'll note the other division has some very long drives. Minnesota to anywhere starts at four hours and goes to 18 (to Rutgers). Lincoln and New Brunswick are literally half the country away. How can Rutgers be in a division with Nebraska that's a 20-hour drive away? Well…
You know what I was thinking? I was thinking "I wish someone would give me a college basketball schedule overview/viewing guide so that I would know what interesting games were coming up." Then I was thinking "I wish I had a platform—oh right."
Michigan is oh so pretty right now with wins over three quality programs headed to the tournament and a shortage of games against terrible opposition. They're second in the RPI to Duke, which is obvious because Duke has run a killer gauntlet so far. RPIforecast.com projects that Michigan will finish 11th, which is actually eighth-best nationally because that's how math works. He uses the Sagarin PREDICTOR ratings to project how the games will turn out; those currently have Michigan 7th.
This week's Michigan seed projection: 2.
The Rock. Tray Woodall confronts the 1-3-1. And there is a large CJ Leslie over there.
With many more opponents it's not practical to go through each in detail, so let's group them.
Dreck (that doesn't impact RPI)
Slippery Rock. Well done, Rock. You are not D-I, which Michigan's RPI will appreciate.
Any hopes that IUPUI might be a decent low-major to have on the schedule (they were 118th in RPI last year) are out the window. After beating up on BG in their consolation game in the preseason NIT, the unholy combination of Indiana and Purdue lost their next five games against D-I competition. They lost to South Dakota by 20. That's not good. Their single victory is over something called Indiana East, with Indiana Northwest and Indiana State on the docket.
Filler that's not painful
On the other hand, Cleveland State is 6-2 and hanging around the Kenpom top 100. He projects CSU to go 19-11 and have a winning Horizon League record. Consistently okay teams like CSU are the sort of folks Michigan should be scheduling.
Bradley may or may not fit here as well. Pro: they are 5-2 with their only other loss against USF. Con: their best win is against… IUPUI. A Tuesday game against GW will be an interesting test.
After Michigan beat them in MSG the Panthers blew the doors off Delaware, Howard, and Detroit. They still don't have a quality nonconference win and won't get one—a Wednesday matchup against Duquesne is the closest they'll come to an opportunity left. Kenpom has them 11th and projects a 25-6 season—beating them at MSG was a potential look at a Sweet 16 matchup.
K-State's schedule has been sparse so far and is about to get heavy. They beat up on South Carolina Upstate to move to 6-1; they have big neutral-ish-court matchups with Gonzaga in Seattle and Florida in Kansas City before the Big 12 schedule. Kenpom has them going 22-9, 11-7 in the Big 12—that's probably good for a 5-7 seed.
North Carolina State
Has not played since losing at Crisler. Plays Connecticut Tuesday in a game Michigan fans will be keeping a close eye on. Has fallen to 29th in Kenpom and is in the same range K-State is, though they clearly have more upside if they can just figure out how to play some defense.
The Future (Nonconference)
at least we won this coaching switch derby
Dreck. Three of Michigan's seven remaining nonconference games are solidly in the dreck category: Binghamton, CMU, and EMU. EMU's actually 5-1 so far but the best win in there is against IUPU Fort Wayne and they're about to lose a billion straight. Upcoming: Syracuse, Purdue, UIC, Michigan, Oakland, Kentucky, UMass. Have fun storming the castle. Binghamton is a disaster. Central Michigan lost to Bradley at home by 17.
Filler, not painful.On the bright side, Western Michigan has rebounded from a season-opening loss at Cornell to run off six straight wins, two of which were against quality opponents USF and Oakland. They're now projected to be above .500 in the MAC; they were 6-10 a year ago.
Arkansas is not good but they weren't last year and Michigan still lost. They've got 3 wins over teams in the 300 club, a 15 point loss to Arizona State, a 7 point loss to Wisconsin, and a 9 point loss to Syracuse. At Crisler it shouldn't be a huge problem, you wouldn't think—especially with some extra ballhandlers to relieve pressure on Burke.
By the by, BJ Young has one of the weirdest statlines I've ever seen: incredible usage (39% of Arkansas shots, 33% of their possessions), incredibly few turnovers (he's 14th nationally), good assists and shooting and… he plays 58% of Arkansas minutes. That just about leads the team, but I'm just like man:
That is bizarre. The guy is 3 from 19 from three after being a 41% shooter last year, so that ORtg is artificially depressed and the guy is playing fewer minutes than he did last year. If I was Mike Anderson I'd tell Young to take it easy on the pressing, but I guess it doesn't work like that.
Sitting at 2-3 with wins over Marist and VMI, WVU is headed for the NIT according to Kenpom. They opened the season by getting blown out by Gonzaga and then lost narrowly to Davidson and Oklahoma. They've got shots at Marshall, VT, and Duquense to establish some bonafides before the matchup in Brooklyn. Hopefully they sweep those to establish themselves potential bubble team.
The Future (Conference)
this is not your older brother's Big Ten
Well, it's pretty good you guys. The top four (M, OSU, IU, Minnesota) teams have two losses between them, both to Duke. Michigan State beat Kansas; while they've lost a couple times we're talking a fifth-best team here. Illinois is undefeated, albeit against largely shaky competition, and Kenpom loves Wisconsin because Wisconsin annihilates bad teams. They did just smoke previously-undefeated Cal, so there's that.
Iowa has disappointed—no D—and Northwestern is set to take a step back, but the only real "what happened there" going on is at Purdue, which is entirely too dependent on DJ Byrd jacking up threes and guys named Johnson who can't shoot. The three Johnsons who start for the Boilers are collectively 24% from three—freshman Ronnie has a Jan Jagla-like 2 of 22 line, except that was usually a season for Jagla. As a team, Purdue is shooting 25% from three. That does not win you many games. Beilein is in ur base, Matt Painter.
Tourney locks sans Illinois-2011-style implosion
projected seeds included
#1 Indiana, #2 Ohio State, #2 MICHIGAN, #4 Minnesota, #4 Michigan State
Bubble no matter what Kenpom says
Northwestern Memorial wrong side of the bubble award
Rutgers Memorial what's a bubble award
Penn State, Nebraska, Purdue
Games relevant to your interest that are on the TV and may be worth watching after the first ten minutes.
Nebraska vs USC, BTN, 8 PM
Arkansas vs Oklahoma, ESPN2, 6PM
Northwestern at Baylor, ESPN2, 8PM
NC State vs Connecticut, ESPN, 9 PM
MICHIGAN vs Western Michigan, BTN, 8:30 PM
Pitt vs Duquesne, ESPN3, 7 PM
Nebraska vs Creighton, ESPN3, 8 PM
Iowa vs Iowa State, BTN, 8 PM
MICHIGAN vs Arkansas, CBS, noon
NC State vs Cleveland State, Fox Sports South, 1PM
Kansas State vs George Washington, CBS Sports Network, 2:30 PM
West Virginia vs Virginia Tech, ESPN2, 4PM
Wisconsin at Marquette, ESPN2, 6PM
Butler at Northwestern, BTN, 8PM
Illinois at Gonzaga, ESPN2, 10PM
Fullback Stephen Hopkins has left the team, according to all of twitter. That's unexpected. Hopkins had some injury issues early this season and was on the verge of getting Wally Pipped by Joe Kerridge but had seemingly fought his way back to starting before a pretty terrible outing against Ohio State. Seems like that was a breaking point but that's just speculation.
With Paul Gyarmati graduating, that leaves Kerridge and freshman Sione Houma the main options at fullback, which is fine. Kerridge seemed to be a better blocker than Hopkins anyway. Houma has played on special teams for whatever reason and seems like more of a run/catch threat from the spot if and when he sees playing time. In addition to those two guys Michigan is also bringing in Khalid Hill and Wyatt Shallman as H-back sorts*, so they're fine at the spot.
Hopkins leaving opens up a 24th scholarship in the class, with more attrition pending. Given the flurry of offers Michigan has issued in the past few weeks it's clear they're looking for another linebacker, preferably a SAM type**, and I would guess they go above 25 if they find enough players they like.
*[FWIW I bet a dollar Shallman is on defense by the end of his freshman year.]
**[I don't think this has anything to do with Cam Gordon or Jake Ryan. It's more about the freshman class. If Royce Jenkins-Stone isn't going to be a SAM, and it doesn't look like he will, then there is no one younger than Ryan on the roster who can play the spot. Even if they make the logical move and slide Mario Ojemudia over, they could still use another guy there before Michael Ferns arrives in 2014.]
Today's recruiting roundup covers the latest on David Dawson and Gareon Conley, new candidates to round out the 2013 class, the latest wave of 2014 offers, and more.
Guess Who's Back
Talk to me man
Yes, Brian stole my thunder on Friday, but here it is again: David Dawson was re-offered last week after having a "heart to heart"($) with Brady Hoke and will take an official visit to Ann Arbor on December 14th. This is, unequivocally, a good thing; Michigan needs one more offensive lineman in the class and Dawson is easily the best among the available options.
It's also a strike against critics of Hoke's nebulous "Policy"—one that's never been explicitly stated, mind you—as it's clear he deals with these matters on a case-by-case basis, as he should. A commitment taking visits doesn't necessarily mean he's gone from the class forever; it does mean he hold a spot while looking around. This ensures, as much as one can ensure with these things, that members of the class show the same level of commitment given to them by the school.
On that note: Gareon Conley will also take an official visit to Michigan on December 14th, according to ESPN's Brad Bournival ($). He'll also visit Ohio State this Thursday, and all indications are this is a two-horse race between the Wolverines and Buckeyes—Conley wanted an Oregon offer before he took a visit to Eugene and one has yet to materialize.
It seems very possible that both Dawson and Conley could end up back in the class when all is said and done. Dawson seems to regret parting ways with Michigan—there were rumors he tried to talk his way back into the fold shortly after the coaches dropped him—and I'd be surprised if Hoke would re-offer without a pretty good idea of where Dawson is headed. Conley looks to be more of a toss-up, but Michigan has his father in their corner.
[Hit THE JUMP for new 2013 and 2014 offers, the updated 2013 Rivals100, and BAYLE WOLF.]