Hello. If you have a blog that…
- has been active consistently since September,
- is either about a college football team, college football in general, or is a regional blog covering local teams including the local U, and
- gets some minimum level of traffic and interaction (maybe a hundred hits a day and comments that do not consistently read "zero")
…you are invited to apply for BlogPoll membership as long as you are willing to divulge what your favorite team is. What is the BlogPoll? It is a college football poll run by bloggers that is entering its fifth year of existence. Last year it turned into an excitingly useful thing that paid considerably more attention to Alabama's rise to power than the usual suspects and was rewarded by the events at the end of the season.
Poll membership requires you to do the following things:
- Pay attention to the explicitly stated poll philosophy.
- Enter a draft ballot by Monday at 11 AM and post this on your site.
- Request feedback from readers.
- Enter a final ballot by Wednesday at 10 AM with any modifications.
That's it. How much detail you'd like to go into is up to you; voters have ranged from the laconic to the very serious indeed. If you miss a lot of votes you probably won't be invited back but the occasional whiff is no big deal.
Email me to be put on the applicants list. If you're already in the poll or have already submitted an application there's no need to As the poll matures I am trying to achieve geographic and team balance, so if you want a quick ballpark on your chances check the voter list and figure out how many blogs already cover your team and conference. As far as teams go, zero or one is good, two is iffy, and three is not possible unless someone drops out (which does happen all the time). Conferences… let's just say there aren't a lot of Pac-10 blogs that will get turned down.
Decisions will come at the end of next week.
Correction. The recruiting profile of Richard Ash brought up Jason Kates because he's the canonical recent example of a guy whose weight problems prevented him from becoming a player. In that post, I mentioned that Rivals had 'won' that evaluation since they issued two stars to Scout's four. I got that backwards. It was Scout that was skeptical and thus won.
The underbelly of disaster(!). Tim is taking in the official media bit of the tour (lunch!) and is tweeting brooding photos of empty stuff. Full post coming up later today; for those who can't wait UM Tailgate got in way early and already has the first of what will be dozens of galleries posted today. Swanky:
Meanwhile, Michigan has released this year's box-engorged seating capacity: 109,901, which puts it back in its rightful place as the largest in the country. Wikipedia was updated in nanoseconds:
Michigan Stadium's capacity will drop next year when the seats and aisles are widened but should still check in #1.
Beam me up. I can't control when I get the weird photoshops of recently graduated players, but here's this:
His people are Patriots. Thanks to Corey Ray.
Also in graphic stuff, TRSaunders expands his library of MS Paint crazy photo stuff with Cam Gordon.
Raid your own stadium. Tickets for the Big Chill are all but officially sold out as Michigan holds back the last few blocks for incoming freshmen. Unless you head to Michigan State's ticket department, that is. Buy away. Plot in the message board thread.
In graphic form. A poster named BlueMonster threw this chart up on Rivals. It speaks for itself:
Steele can be wobbly on certain things but not wobbly enough to get Michigan out of the overall cellar when they're so far behind the nearest competitor, especially since Steele's evaluation of Michigan's starters is significantly more veteran than the actual lineup will be.
Interesting to note that UConn, which had a rep as a very veteran outfit, comes in towards the bottom of the list. Penn State, meanwhile, checked in next to Michigan at just below average on the Steele experience ranking but is well up the rankings here. Everything else looks to be about what you'd expect, with that Notre Dame game looming large as an opportunity to start off in a non-flailing fashion.
Expansion of the other variety. Everyone else has an opinion, so I should too: the NCAA has announced that the four play-in games will be contested in two groups: everyone who used to be a 16 seed plays for two spots and the last four at-large teams will play for the other two. So everyone gets slid down one more notch and the three teams that are added have to play for a spot with the team that would have been the last at-large in a 65-team tournament.
I was against any sort of expansion from the start and still think 68 is goofy, but if they're going to do it this is the best way. The 16 seeds are invariably weak opponents and bidding another one goodbye is not going to make anyone shed a tear. While the occasional interesting team finds itself a 15 seed, usually the worst 15 seed is no threat against the best 2. Meanwhile, having the last few at-large bids face off against each other will reduce the "what about X" complaining every year because X will have an opportunity to play Y, settling the argument on the court. More of those third place Mountain West or A-10 teams will get the opportunity to prove themselves better than Clemson or Minnesota.
The Artist Formerly Known As Big Ten Wonk dislikes this, calling it "dumb":
I realize many pundits are fine with this today, but wait until they see it in action with actual team names inserted into these brackets. Inevitably a five-seed will lose to a 12 that emerged from a play-in game and we’ll hear all the usual talk about the “advantage” and “momentum” the 12 had from playing already. And as for talk of 10-seeds being in play-in games, mark me down as absolutely terrified. I’m already on the record as thinking that tournament seeding has far too little to do with reality. (And note that today’s decision only raises the stakes that will be riding on a team’s seed.)
Now, if you’re talking about a team seeded as high as a 10, there’s a good chance that said team is way better than the selection committee could have realized. To require a team that good to win an extra game while every year the 64th-best team in the field is guaranteed a comparatively easy six-win path is antithetical to what’s made the NCAA tournament the best postseason spectacle in major American team sports. We’ve trusted the tournament’s outcomes precisely to the extent that the courts have been neutral, the brackets have been balanced, and the opportunities have been equal.
I think that's an anticipation about talking heads doing the thing where they have a fierce disagreement over a petty issue because of Stephen A Smith and not an actual argument that this will be a factor, but even so I must dissent from Gasaway's dissent. A case where the second to last at large spot is actually a 10 seed will be exceedingly rare. The equivalent would be the last at large in the current tourney being a 10, which I'm pretty sure has never happened. Meanwhile, the 64th-best team has earned something (the auto-bid) the last teams in have not. It's not entirely fair but if it keeps a bunch of small teams from getting shuffled to "TruTV" in favor of major conference mediocrities, I'm in favor of it. Seeds are mostly guesses and a small conference team that won its championship and avoided the play-in has proven itself better than a subset of college basketball; major conference teams that finish seventh have not done this.
The committee did the best possible job given they had to assemble a 68-team tournament and include a cable channel no one's even heard of.
Leader for real. Now that the World Cup is over it can be said: ESPN has shed its Mark Shapiro skin and has returned to something that people can both love and hate instead of just the latter. Not once during the 2010 tournament did I pine for the Univision that I had in HD in 2006 but not 2010, and this is despite the fact that Univision is such terrific fun that I would occasionally flip on replays of games I'd already watched just to hear someone's head explode because of Diego Forlan. Also, 30 for 30 is an unqualified success, the sort of original programming that ESPN always should have done instead of "I'd Do Anything" or literally everything else Shapiro ever came up with. (His latest trick: running Six Flags into the ground.)
Everything from the play by play to the studio crew was fantastic—even Alexi Lalas was genuinely fun when he ribbed the English. My only complaint was the time spent showing replays when action was going on, and that wasn't even ESPN's fault since FIFA controls the feed. There has never been a greater turnaround between consecutive broadcasts of a single event. Last year we were stuck with Dave O'Brien and Marcelo Balboa.
Why can't they do this for other sports? Well, if you took ESPN's top four college football announce teams (PBP: Musberger, McDonough, Franklin, ?) they would probably come close to the four excellent teams put together for the World Cup. When you get to #8 it's Pam Ward, and by #12 it's that awful Rod Gilmore/Trevor Matich color pairing that had a combined IQ approximately the equal of tapioca pudding that went 12-20 in 15 years as as boxer. Plus ESPN had the pick of any English announcers they wanted. If you could put together an All-Star roster of college football from ESPN, CBS, Fox, and, uh, NBC… well… you'd get Verne Lundquist. Never mind.
Initial NCAA impressions. If you're like me and have gotten tired of EA's consistently lame NCAA franchise, I suggest you check out GameShark folks Bill Abner and Todd Brakke's "Nut and Feisty Weasel," where they'll be posting their annual stream of consciousness reviews of the latest edition. These are always unvarnished and far more useful than any review ever is.
The first impression, as always, is promising. This is something that I don't know if an NCAA game has ever managed before:
John Clay had 88 yards on 20 carries. He was hard as hell to tackle. Michigan? I shut that team down with impunity. I had a chance late to get the ball back against Wisky and they marched 30 yards to nail the coffin shut.
Against UM my DE Cam Heyward was UNBLOCKABLE. He was KILLING whoever the Michigan RT is. 3 sacks, multiple pressures, etc. In years past this would raise a quick red flag. This is a potential pattern that could really kill the game because before--something like this simply meant...the AI blocking sucks.
Against Wisky? Heyward was as non factor. And believe me...I tried.
Abner is an OSU fan, unfortunately. Let's hope the game's projection for Mark Huyge is pessimistic.
Etc.: Pittsburgh and Philadelphia get the 2013 and 2014 Frozen Fours. Fine by me; at least Pittsburgh is drivable. Boston fans are complaining about the FF's long absence from their neck of the woods—by 2014 it will be a decade—and I would have some sympathy if the Detroit FF was the first time in forever that the perpetually-screwed CCHA had gotten to host one. Rivals ranks Michigan a job-saving #41.
Brad Labadie, football director of operations and person frequently talked to, but not heard from, in the sanctions document dump, has resigned:
"I wish Brad well," Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon said. "He has worked hard and worked incredible hours.
"He's been in a punishing job in terms of hours, and to get into a traditional position with more normal hours and a young family is what works for him now. He's moving out of athletics at this stage."
Brandon added: "I absolutely don't think people should" think his departure has anything to do with the NCAA investigation.
Everyone who's emailed me about Brad Labadie in the aftermath of the document release has started their message off with something about how he's a super nice guy, so let's take it easy on the grave dancing.
That said, Labadie's departure doesn't have anything to do with the NCAA investigation in the same way Jim Boccher's departure doesn't have anything to do with the spread punt fiasco of '03. Many many details can be found in the Heads Should Roll post from earlier this summer. If he wasn't outright axed he was encouraged to find a job elsewhere. You may resume your unbreakable faith in David Brandon's pimp hand.
Three days before Bill Martin exits the AD, Lloyd will:
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- After 30 years of distinguished service to the University of Michigan, associate athletic director and former U-M head football head coach Lloyd Carr will officially retire from the athletic department on Sept. 1.
"I am thankful for the wonderful opportunity to assist two great coaches here in Bo Schembechler and Gary Moeller and I will always appreciate Joe Roberson's decision to name me the head coach in 1995," said Carr. "I am also appreciative for those I worked with and for all the great friendships I have developed.
I kind of said all the stuff I had about Carr when he retired from the whole football coaching thing, and that remains true. Here's a lot of the long pieces touching on it:
- Luther Van Dammit. In which Lloyd Carr is outsmarted by Luther from Coach, and frustrations are expressed about staid consistency.
- At Least It Rained. In which I grapple with the Carr legacy immediately after that Ohio State game the picture of the offensive line blocking no one comes from.
- The Big Rodriguez. In which Carr shoves me into a limo where I am berated by Bill Martin.
- You Were Killed By A Bear And I Am Sad. In which staid consistency is wistfully considered on the eve of something else.
And then there is this:
He was and is a true oddity when it comes to football coaches and probably won't get the credit he deserves for the good parts of his tenure.
This will start the rumor mill about Carr's distaste for Rodriguez once more and conflict within the department and so forth and so on, but if there's anything we've learned about Carr the past five years it's that he's old and tired of doing stuff he doesn't really want to do. Once the valedictory spot in the department became annoying he wasn't long for it, I'm guessing, and it's been annoying for two solid years.
Michigan Stadium before renovations:
Cork boat enthusiast, political speechwriter, "Save the Big House" founder, Yale grad, and Hero of Tiananmen Square John Pollack on this transformation:
It’s a lot different and ironically it looks a lot bigger from the outside and it feels a lot smaller from the inside. Going to games there over the last couple years, as the boxes have risen–they are so out of scale with bowl itself that it makes the bowl seem small. And that’s not positive.
Before, as you approached the stadium there was this sense of anticipation whether you’d been there 100 times or never had been there. Because even if you knew what was coming, you walk in and this mighty bowl unfolds before you. Now you’re walking up to two corporate-looking structures and when you walk in the bowl is diminished because the proportions are all wrong. Those boxes are literally monuments to self-aggrandizement and unfortunately they diminish the stadium. …
The university has greatly diminished the iconic stadium in the United States of America.
That's from an MVictors interview of the HOTS himself. "Corporate-looking." What does this mean? It means Pollack is a certain kind of leftist. As the renovations have gone up the level of concerned emails in my inbox has dropped to zero, as the structures are both attractive and, with Newsterbaan, part of a unified look for the athletic campus based on Yost that cannot get to Crisler soon enough. The stadium now looks like something other than a hole in the ground. But if you're so invested you could see Michigan Stadium as "the iconic stadium in the United States of America" you clearly aren't going to ever back down.
This site's been over this before, making the case for luxury boxes when a reasonable questioner—of the variety that seems not to exist any more—wondered what that case was. In short, extracting exorbitant amounts of money from relatively few patrons is better for everyone because those people are funding the modernization of the stadium and making the place more intimidating than it was before because instead of their silence we get the fairly significant acoustic benefits of the structures. Also maybe they won't yell at me to sit down as much.
The case against the boxes as made by Pollack is a breathtaking combination of delusion ("One of the great things about college football, especially Michigan football, is that it is a great public space—a place where autoworkers and millionaires can come together to cheer on their team") and arrogance ("Michigan doesn't need to keep up with the Joneses. We are the Joneses") that rests largely on the idea that Bill Martin, who seemingly thought about nothing but money during his tenure at Michigan, is getting the money wrong. A source close to the project has convincingly debunked these ideas in a detailed post on the renovations and a response to a mailbag question. Michigan has to renovate the stadium after years and years of Duderstadt-inspired neglect. They can pay for this renovation by adding a surcharge to tickets for 20 years or by putting in boxes that will do more than pay for themselves and set Michigan up to compete with the likes of Ohio State and its massive spending.
Meanwhile, the "grass roots" effort to stop the renovations is as natural as the turf they just put in. Allow myself to quote myself:
There was one loud, PR-savvy group with no grassroots support that employed disingenuous political rhetoric in an attempt to stall a project that it seems like the vast bulk of the fanbase supports. Three guys with impressive names and a website do not a movement make, and when you are persistently, uselessly annoying you shouldn't expect perpetual fruitless audiences. Not once in this process did Pollack attempt to measure the sentiment of the fanbase, or if he did the results he got back were disconcerting and quickly buried; "but but but Fielding Yost" is not an argument that sways anyone with decision-making powers, no matter how many newspapers it appears in.
Unfortunately, no one has undertaken that measurement; in its absence all we have to go on are the constant "I was by the stadium so I took 20 pictures" posts that pop up on message boards across the Michigan internet and the almost-unanimous excitement about the addition on practical, aesthetic, and auditory grounds.
As for the sanctified tradition we're tossing aside, here's a quote from MVictors's HTTV 2010 (buy now!) piece on the construction of the stadium I wish I'd seen earlier so I could have put it in every post I've made on the subject. It's Yost speaking to Bennie Oosterbaan after the dedication game in 1927:
Bennie, do you know what the best thing about that new stadium is? Eighty-five thousand people paid five dollars apiece for their seats -- and Bennie, they had to leave the seats there!
This is a big week for visits but other than that it's pretty slow since coaches are on vacation. Here's a look at who's visiting with some updates elsewhere.
Visiting July 13th:
- Jake Fisher - Instate lineman is coming down from Traverse City to visit both MSU, and Michigan. I spoke with him about the visits and his timeline: he's visiting MSU first, then Michigan. Take from that what you will, other than that MSU happens to come first geographically on his trip. He is on commit watch.
Fisher: "I'd like to make my decision shortly after these visits. I might have a leader right now (laughing), but I don't want to say who."
- Cyrus Hobbi - As mentioned in last week's update, Hobbi is coming up to Michigan on his way to a family trip in New York. That is a huge break for Michigan. Without it, it's safe to say that Cyrus wouldn't have been able to get up to Michigan for an unofficial visit before the season. If Cyrus likes what he sees, it should give Michigan a serious shot at landing the big lineman. West coast schools are the main competition.
- Jordan Walsh - As it was noted in my interview with Jordan this past week, he is also making a trip to Ann Arbor on Tuesday. If you didn't read the article, here's how his mom feels about Michigan.
"She loved the junior day visit, too. When Coach Rodriguez offered me, she started crying."
All of these visits could be big for Michigan. I would be very happy with pulling two out of the three from this list.
5'8, 190 lbs.
Everyone's favorite recruit to discuss and one of the most important in this class. Hart was recently at the Nike 7 on 7 tournament in Oregon. ESPN gives you a synopsis of how he did and how he keeps the media guessing.
I spoke to Hart's teammate, Roderick Ryles, the other day. Ryles told me that he and LaQuentin Smith are going up to Arkansas, while Demetrius Hart and (2012 QB) Nick Patti are coming up to Michigan this week. I also spoke with Hart, and he wasn't 100% sure the visit is going to happen:
I'm not sure we're coming up yet. I still have to figure it out. I think we are, but it's not final.
Hart came up earlier this year and planned a second trip for the Spring Game but could not make it. Even if he can't scrape together the cash and time to get up to Michigan for a second unofficial, his interest in making one is genuine and he will visit officially in the fall.
5'8, 156 lbs.
Sicklerville, New Jersey
Byrd is a (very) speedy slot guy who already has offers from Florida, West Virginia, Iowa, Pitt, South Carolina, and Nebraska, amongst others. Michigan doesn't have much of a need for tiny slots in this class, but I had an interesting conversation with Byrd the other day. He recently narrowed down his list to 7 top schools. I asked him if Michigan were to offer, would they be able to get back in it.
Yeah, I would consider them again. I really liked it when I went up there, so they would still have a chance.
This doesn't really matter right now because he doesn't have an offer from the Wolverines. If they miss out on a few wide receiver targets down the road they might look to Byrd.
- [Ed.: LA CB Darren Kitchen has gotten an offer from recruiter Fred Jackson. This is not an official written offer and can't be committed to until Rodriguez gets back from vacation and issues it. If and when that does occur, Kitchen has said straight out he will commit.]