I apologize in advance, but I’m not feeling very funny this week. Some weeks the world just feels really heavy, and it’s tough to pick yourself up, let alone to be amusing for others. Some weeks you just want to sit very still, as if the bad things of the world will quietly move along. You can only hear so much about bombings and fertilizer factory explosions and ricin and shootouts and sinkholes and flooding before you want to just shut the world out just so you don’t have to deal with it anymore.
Martin Richard was 8 years old. Come on. If that alone doesn’t put a damper on your Universe, then I don’t know what to tell you.
Since Monday’s horrors, people have tried to articulate what, other than the obvious, made Boston affect us on such a deep and personal level. In my mind, it is because this tragedy invaded something we foolishly believed to be beyond the reach of such evil. Sports often serve as a welcome escape from the “real world” with all its highs and lows. We prefer the fiction we create that our favorite teams and pursuits are really life-and-death matters. We feel like at the end of the day, there is a floor to how much we can lose. I love Michigan sports, but no matter how devastating a loss might seem (PITCH THE BALL TO STEVE BREASTON), I know that at the end of the day my child is healthy, I have a home and a job, and my dogs will still be happy to see me. We have a presumption of the ‘worst thing that can happen’ in the athletic arena.
So when the “real world” seeps into our cozy little athletic realm, it strikes a special chord with sports fans. I think the reason people reacted so viscerally to Kevin Ware’s injury wasn’t because it was such a devastating long-term injury (he’ll be back playing by next season). It was because it was such a graphic injury that it reminded us that while we like to imagine our athletic world as a comfy bubble that separates us from the dangers of our everyday lives, that bubble is and has always been a fleeting figment of our imaginations.
The Boston Marathon bombings were terrible in so many ways, beyond the obvious horror, fear, death and devastation. This one struck close to home for many people because the Boston Marathon lies at the intersection of our sports world, our national psyche, and our own lives. They attacked a major sporting event. They attacked an iconic American event. And they reminded us all that there, but for the grace of God goes any of us. My wife is running a half-marathon in Indianapolis in a couple of weeks, and if you don’t think Boston will be on my mind, you’re crazy.
Boston itself will be fine. I mean…
Yeah. I’m not worried about Boston. I’m a little bit worried about us. I feel like as much as we need to face our problems, trying to do so every day gets to be too much. We need a few hours every week where our biggest worry is the ability to pick up that A-gap blitz. The horror of Boston reminds us that in the grand scheme of things sports really aren’t that important, but they also remind us why we need sports in the first place.
I guess what I’m saying is that after stuff like this, don’t judge people for jumping back into what they know. After all, there is no wrong way to cope.
Okay, strike what I said. THIS IS THE WRONG WAY TO COPE:
This was the afternoon of the bombing. He’s talking about a number of people who have lost limbs. Would it be nice if the Boston Marathon gave the victims an exemption to run the race? Sure. Would it be nice if they bought everyone a pony? Of course. But Jeebus, man.
On a related note, this may be my last Darren Rovell update. We had a disagreement over my assertion that his request that people tweet him pictures of the Boston bombing was (in the words I would have used had I known he was going to block me anyway) un-f*cking-believably opportunistic and voyeuristic and vulturific and dongish. He responded by deleting our conversation, and becoming the second person to block me. So if anything Rovell-related needs to be featured in this here column, someone let me know.
Worst Ace Ever
You know how I said Rovell was the second person (that I know of) to block me? I’m sure that you, as one who hates unresolved plot points, were saying to yourself, “I must know who the other one was.” Wonder no more. It was, of course, Ace Williams. You all undoubtedly remember Williams as the guy who broke the story that John Navarre was Keyser Soze, and that Michigan Basketball was secretly the Monstars in Space Jam. But I’ve got some bad news for everyone: Ace is no more.
This is what used to be Ace Williams’s feed. His history is Ace’s history. But alas, as is fitting of this Week in Which We Can’t Have Nice Things, this wealth of Michigan knowledge has departed for… something? The icing on the cake is that Ace’s old account, @ChatSportsACE, has already been taken over by a parody account (“Parody Ace Williams”).
Before he left, though, Ace fired off one last hilariously fabricated story (redacted above), the details of which will not be repeated here because it is hilariously fabricated. His “story” has also been parroted by his former employer’s Twitter account, which I will also not link because see above. But for those who are wondering, “BiSB, how can I tell if one of these stories is fake?” It can be hard to tell, but here’s a protip: no one tweets specifics about an “exclusive” story and then waits more than three days to publish the actual story. If you have a scoop, you don’t say, “hey, CBS Sports/ESPN/ABC Sports/Deadspin/MGoBlog, there’s a really awesome story out there. Here’s exactly where to look. I only hope you don’t publish your story before I finish writing mine four days from now.”
Fortunately, no one will ever, EVER mistake Ace Williams for Ace Anbender.
Never Saw THAT Coming
I’m sure you all remember Mike Rice, the disgraced former Rutgers coach who was fired because we’re all a bunch of wusses. Also because he whipped basketballs at players’ heads and called them f*ggots. But mostly the wuss thing. In any case, Mike Rice is back where he belongs: yelling at kids.
Sometimes in history a bold visionary will look at two things that don’t belong together, put them together, and become a genius. Sour cream and onion chips, for example, sound like a terrible idea, but are pretty tasty. Likewise, combining Mike Rice, coaching, and 12-year-old girls may SOUND like a terrible idea… yeah its actually an even worse idea than it would appear.
This came from @bryan_starke, and I can’t make much sense of it.
The disconcerting possibility is that the Spartans and Buckeyes are combining forces, but I don’t know. If anyone can explain this I will sleep much better.
Jose Canseco UpdaOMG OMG OMG
Oh. Oh my. Jose Canseco did a Reddit AMA. I REPEAT: Jose Canseco did a Reddit AMA.
WHY ARE YOU STILL HERE CLICK THE LINK: http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/1clw9o/i_am_jose_canseco_famed_steroid_user_and_former/
I'm ignoring this Boston business. Should I have to mention this? Probably not. Rest assured that when the zombie apocalypse comes I'll be here speculating about how it affects Michigan's roster when the starting quarterback bites his center.
Fritz Crisler's advice to Walter. Eat plenty of ruffage, young man.
This is apparently a new find from user Messenger Puppet. The message board sleuths have identified "Walter" as a
missing Brown student Walter Freihofer, who had quite a life. The timing fits: he graduated high school in 1940 and died about a year ago; the letter was probably uncovered as someone was going through his things.
Yes, Wilton. Wilton Speight provides MLive with a picture of him hellaciously stiffarming a hapless fool who dares approach Speight's aura:
That's in an article about Speight's high ranking on ESPN. I was not aware that he'd reclassified after a serious collarbone injury in the first game of his junior season. In general that's a good thing—experience is everything for quarterbacks, who don't approach their ceilings until they're 35.
I should mention that I missed MO LB Kyron Watson in my rundown of Michigan targets in the ESPN 150. He's 100th.
Hated Chad Ford, man, you just don't get it. Hated Chad Ford is mostly a joke about how Chad Ford is all like taking my peoples from me, but come on man:
"His decision to return, considering his age (he turns 21 before the draft) and high draft stock at the moment, is a puzzling one -- I'm not sure his draft stock will ever be higher. A potential first-round pick in 2014."
There are things other than draft stock in life, like being the man on a very good college basketball team.
2014 looms. It appears that Michigan's got a one-year reprieve here from GRIII and McGary. Paste these two items together…
"We're like brothers," McGary said. "Coach says we're joined at the hip, I don't think it's that serious. But (part of my decision relied on) what he was doing.
"We just kind of wanted to come back together, make a run at it and play the way we play."
"It was 50-50," McGary said. "I might have been leaning a little bit toward (leaving at first), but I talked it over with my family, and I thought this was what was best.
"I kind of want to be a kid for one more year."
...and you get both guys planning on leaving after next year. This is fine. It gives Michigan time to replace them. It does mean that the 2014 recruiting class will burgeon to at least 5 players, more if there is a transfer or Stauskas blows up into a lottery pick. Or Spike, I guess.
In any case, Michigan's next basketball recruiting class is huge for the continued program upswing. It currently consists of Florida big man Ricky Doyle and Indiana wing Austin Hatch, if Hatch can get back on the court. That's kind of a big if; it seems likely Michigan signs the guy and puts him on a medical scholarship. They'll probably add four additional players: another post-ish guy who will be around (Michigan will have just Doyle, Donnal, and Bielfeldt in 2015), a couple wings, and then a wild card.
Michigan's caught the eye of Milwaukee five-star Kevon Looney:
In an interview with ChicagoHoops.com earlier this week, Looney listed Michigan as one of a handful of schools firmly on his radar.
Looney, who said his recruitment was still "pretty wide open," also listed Michigan State, Tennessee, Florida, Duke, Georgetown and Wisconsin as schools he's hearing the most from.
At 6'9", Looney is a Kevin Durant-style wing with range.
Putting him at the four in Beilein's system would be almost unfair. Let's hope that "Michigan" coming out of his mouth first means something down the road. One and done? Uh… probably. Don't tell Beilein.
Meanwhile, Sam Webb told his WTKA audience this morning that if Trevon Bluiett and Vincent Edwards were to pick today, they would both be headed elsewhere. (I'd guess those destinations would be Butler and Purdue.) That wasn't a lock or anything, but just a feeling from a connected guy. They seem to be leading for Devin Booker despite heavy attention from powers, but Booker isn't rushing towards a decision.
Michigan's going to see their options expand; this AAU circuit will see a half-dozen new prospects on the radar. The three guys mentioned in the previous paragraph are their only current offerees right now. That'll change in the next few months. UMHoops has some additional information on who they might offer.
While Beilein wasn't gung-ho about the possibility after Trey's departure…
"I don’t think we’re in a position where we have to use (Trey’s scholarship)," Beilein said. "But if there’s the right situation – last year Caris was more of a redshirt, was going to be."
…they could take a swing at a 2013 kid if one they like pops up. They've got two scholarships available. Assuming GRIII and McGary are gone after this year, if you can get a guy who you think you can be a four-year contributor more along the lines of Caris LeVert than Colton Christian that's a move you may want to make. There's a shaky rumor about Michigan reaching out to former Hofstra commitment Gabe Levin, so they're poking around a bit.
Okay, not just me. I was wondering if what I saw from Delonte Hollowell in the spring game was a hallucination or wishful thinking. Apparently not:
Defensive coordinator Greg Mattison indicated there's more to it than that -- that Hollowell had a terrific spring, and could force his way into the rotation come fall.
“I think you probably thought it was rhetoric when we first got here and you heard me say it before -- you’re evaluated every day in practice," Mattison said when asked about Hollowell's start. "The thing that Brady (Hoke) does such a good job of is that we have competitions in practice. Competition means it’s a game.
"How you react in that competition is going to decide who’s going to earn the right to play the next day and be where they are the next day in the depth chart. So that depth chart can change day to day."
Hollowell played in 11 games last season, but mostly on special teams. He played in three games as a reserve defensive back, recording one tackle.
I brought this up on 'TKA yesterday tentatively and got the same vibe from Sam. While Hollowell isn't going to start over Taylor or Countess, hopefully they'll be comfortable enough to put a third cornerback on the field this fall if someone goes down. Now someone get him tweeting again.
Amara to the rescue. Another guy pushing his way up the depth chart is a key one for Michigan's next couple years, what with the receiver depth looking shaky. He's Amara Darboh:
"I knew Darboh was going to catch the ball," Gardner said. "We knew what was going to happen. We were planning to call that play (the day before the game), and Coach Borges just said get it up and give him a chance.
"That's what I did. He performed." …
"He can do everything well," Gardner said. "He can shake guys in the short-range game, and he can go deep."
That bomb was quality: Darboh got a release that gave him space to the outside and adjusted to a less than perfect ball comfortably. That takes skill.
We're Texas. That means our administrators specialize in sounding like twits. Multi-year scholarships are now legal, but the baton is being picked up slowly despite those press conferences in the immediate aftermath of that rule's passage where every coach in the country said they would offer four-year rides. Full numbers are hidden behind a paywall, but the Chronicle of Higher Ed reports that multi-year deals are rare:
Nearly two-thirds of the 56 most powerful Division I public universities now offer multiyear awards, according to a Chronicle review of public records. Yet few of those institutions do so for more than a handful of athletes.
Among the holdouts are some of the wealthiest programs, including the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Oregon, and Texas A&M. At the University of Arizona, Georgia Tech, and the University of Louisville, this year's NCAA men's basketball champions, you can count the multiyear beneficiaries on one hand.
Here's the bit where someone from Texas sounds like a twit:
"Who gets a four-year, $120K deal guaranteed at age 17?" Christine A. Plonsky, women's athletic director at the University of Texas, wrote in an e-mail to The Chronicle. "The last thing young people need right now is more entitlement."
This is an athletic department that has an entirely separate athletic director for their womens' teams talking about how young people are entitled. I wish I had a magic poverty wand I could wave at people.
Christine A. Plonsky finds herself in the kitchen of Taco Bell. She somehow knows her car is now a 1979 Yugo, her home a double-wide, her husband a machinist. She still makes more than 30k a damn year.
Sing to me, o fate, a tale of entitlement—
Shut up and make me 12 soft tacos.
Anyway. John Infante argues that this sort of inconsistent application of the new multi-year rule is actually a good thing. First, a few numbers he pulled out:
But even colleges that have moved toward the longer agreements have done so modestly. Six institutions signed at least two dozen multiyear agreements this academic year. They include the University of Florida (60), Ohio State University (47), North Carolina State University (40), Michigan State University (30), Arizona State University (27), and Auburn University (27).
But multiyear awards still account for less than one-tenth of all athletic scholarships at most of those institutions.
IIRC OSU and MSU were amongst the schools that promised all of their football folks would be on multi-year scholarships, which clearly isn't happening. Meanwhile, Michigan doesn't even appear on this list of moderate adopters. On the other hand, Infante mentions that Illinois is giving out multi-year deals to virtually everybody.
Recruits are beginning to understand their power in the negotiation as well as the tools they can use to get the best deal. Hopefully as the market in recruiting and athletic scholarships continues to mature, more recruits and schools will understand their bargaining positions. This encourages the best situation for athletes: when the agreement they sign is the same one that both they and their coach intend and understand.
Contrast this with setting scholarships at any one length. Under the old one-year maximum, coaches were flat out lying to prospects and their families. They would say that a one-year agreement was really for four years, and that as long as the athlete stayed eligible and out of trouble, the scholarship would be renewed. Then when the athlete was injured or did not live up to expectations, the grant-in-aid would be nonrenewed.
Requiring four- or five-year scholarships creates a similar situation. The coach assures the athlete that they have a four-year agreement, because look, there it is in a written contract. Then when the athlete does not pan out, the coach begins looking for ways to get out from under the commitment. That leads to deliberately confusing scholarship agreements and team/department rules which are inconsistently enforced.
As long as the guarantee remains in place—and the roster spot occupied—even when a guy is booted, that's about all they can do. But it'll be interesting to see if recruiting reporters start asking kids about the details of their "offers." Is Illinois explicitly using a longer-term promise as an incentive? Is, say, Western Michigan guaranteeing four-star commit Chance Stewart four years, and is that why he's headed for the MAC instead of the Illini? Shouldn't Da'Shawn Hand demand any school he signs with guarantee him four years?
It feels like a lot of stakeholders in the recruiting game are trying to downplay the existence of the multi-year rule. That can't last, and then things get interesting.
Brian mentioned this in his spring recap but here again is the play Michael Scarn picture-paged:
He points out several things that happened here. One is James Ross moving so fast toward the hole he actually cuts off Desmond Morgan. Another is the wholesale disaster that was the interior blocking, as Miller got nobody, Braden didn't peel off to intercept the Will, and Kalis ran right by James Ross. Here's your money shot:
sorry for low quality—if you can find the play on here I'll make new.
Morgan was the playside LB but Ross is already past him and gunning toward the hole. Miller is looking the wrong way. Kalis is pulling and looking outside Lewan's and Braden's block. If you ever wondered what coaches mean by "head on a swivel" this is the opposite: his head is facing where his body is, and because of that he doesn't see the MLBs racing in. Braden too needs to recognize that his combo block on the playside DT has done its job; the Hutchinson thing to do here would be to find Ross and Morgan charging into the same hole, and using a block on the first to wall off the second.
These are things learned by experience, and are reasons you usually don't expect linemen to be very good until they're upperclassmen.
As for Ross, that millisecond diagnosis was so incredible people are arguing if it was actually a blitz (that stunts the MLBs? Coach-types, thoughts?). Michael Scarn, obvious Diarist of the Week, submitted a supplement on this diary covering Ross and how he compares to onetime-Cane, now-Steeler Sean Spence. I stand by my comparison to another safety-sized Steeler who made a career out of avoiding blocks by simply getting to the ball-carrier first, Larry Foote. Either way, here's betting when Brian sends us the roundtable questions for HTTV the annual 'breakout player?' wording starts with "Other than…"
Best of the Board
THE FRITZ METHOD:
Spring Practice is over and it's a long few months of coach-less physical training before fall stuff. To give you an idea of the things our players will be working on from now until then, here's a letter from Fritz Crisler circa 1941 dug up by Messenger Puppet.
Apparently the Michigan Method includes:
- Sleeping from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., 10:30 to 6:30 if you absolutely have to.
- Rolling on the ground
- Cut out stimulants such as alcohol and nicotine in order to do better justice to yourself in a football way.
- 10 to 15 minutes of "setting up exercises," followed by a cold bath.
- Eating plenty of ruffage to keep your digestive system normal at all times.
This is the video shown at the basketball banquet. It starts with Novak and Stu after winning the B1G last year then goes to the freshman class and then…
TOM STROBEL: A THREE TECH FOR NOW
For the tiny subsection of the fanbase for whom heuristics on the interior DL three-deep is news, little shreds of such news have trickled out that could be read as Godin and Heitzman are awesome but probably mean Strobel is still far from playing time (and is a redshirt freshman GAWD U GUYz!)
This sparked a thread led off by Blazefire on Tom Strobel's (below: Fuller) move to 3-tech, apparently because of an injury to somebody in that group. Which injury? Could be Ryan Glasgow, or it could have to do with Wormley being unavailable for most contact this spring. Don't know, guessing Glasgow.
Tom's coming in for a little bit "oh no not LaLota" fear since of that ridiculous interior d-line class he's the highest rated to not yet push for serious playing time: Wormley was mentioned as a potential competition for Roh's job last year before his injury, Pipkins played, and Godin and Henry were 3-stars and your 2nd string 5-tech and 3-tech respectively in the Spring Game.
From Mattison's quote it sounds like it's mostly a convenience thing. They need depth at three, and at the five—which is pretty interchangeable—there's a pecking order emerging of Heitzman the starter, Godin the backup, and Wormley the nominal third string with a lot of upward mobility. Speculation centers on why Strobel was moved and not Godin, who's 10 pounds heavier.
On one hand GAWD U GUYz he's a redshirt freshman who always needed to put on weight and for whom "on track" would mean pushing to play by 2014. On the other Godin is now almost certainly ahead of him and the Godin hype hasn't hit anything like Jake Ryan levels where you figure we just found a diamond. Waaaaaaaaay too early for this: absolutely. Irrational fan voice squeaking this anyway: yeah. Impact if true: small. They can't ALL become next-RVBs (4-star DE are about 25% to become NFL draft picks).
The NCAA has put in the time these last few years to establish itself as the most incompetent group of people since they invented Comcast customer service, and as a consequence opened themselves to ALL THE zing.
"You're wrong there. The NCAA is sick and tired of being looked at as an impotent and largely powerless organization incapable of meting out justice to offenders.
"This time they are mad. This time they mean business. I predict that the NCAA is SO upset at what Oregon's been doing that South Florida's going to get their scholly's cut again." –mGrowOld
When reports surfaced that Ohio State's bow-tied president was trotted out to recruit Drake Harris, the thread began wondering if that's, you know, crossing some sort of line and ZING!
"When presidents are involved in recruiting, it's usually dead ones like Grant, Jackson, et al. See Auburn, University of." –Victor Hale II
People in the thread have a bunch of stories of how beloved Gee is on campus because he goes to bars (!) and sometimes remembers people had crutches (!). He's also the former lawyer who instigated Ohio State's lawyerly defense of itself for Tressel's tenure, thereby undermining the NCAA's self-regulatory compliance system and exposing the organization's true impotence. I don't really have a problem with a school president meeting a recruit; I do have a problem with this president who sees his job as head of Buckeye Phi, until such time as Jim Tressel decides to fire him.
People who agree: Brown University calls its spring game port-a-potties the "E. Gordon Gee Lavatory Complex" in honor of his short and generally disastrous tenure there. There's a reason this guy and Emmert are best buddies.
Ohio State made rings for their Year of Shame.
Hey, surprise, the school that couldn't find honor if you put it around a Clemson player's neck doesn't do contrition very well. On the last ring they posted the Game's score from last year, calling us "TUN" beneath a horseshoe so detailed you can see them carrying Tressel off on their shoulders. Mr. Yost suggested they should just wear asterisks. ZING!
IS GRIII A THREE OR A FOUR?
CaliUMfan pulled some tweets from people who spoke to Beilein after the "they're back" presser that suggest Michigan plans to move Glenn Robinson to small forward and play McGary at the four, creating a crunch at the two/three of GRIII, Stauskas, LeVert and Irvin. This can be taken in many ways, most of which come back to "yeah you tell Morgan he's the expected starter again."
The guy who played the cynic on the Imperial board of directors in the original Star Wars has passed away; for this site, this absolutely constitutes a board thread. If you can't appreciate Richard LeParmentier's acting ability, I suggest you imagine how you'd do if George Lucas handed you a script that read:
"Don't try to frighten us with your sorcerer's ways, Lord Vader. Your sad devotion to that ancient religion has not helped you conjure up the stolen data tapes, or given you clairvoyance enough to find the Rebels' hidden fort—[NOW PRETEND LIKE HE'S CHOKING YOU!]"
And yes I claim the Star Wars geeks as mine. When Brian can go three references in a row without flubbing a quote or acknowledging the prequels exist he can have you back. Also when he learns to moderate the board like this:
ETC. If recruiting his son means Dakich can't do Michigan games anymore, or even if it makes him stop trolling us, it is SO worth a scholarship. Jonvalk suggests a new MGobanner. Novak profiled in local paper, mentions MGoShirt. Will basketball or football end up ranked higher next year?
Your Moment of Zen:
Forty-two not 16 'cause it was Other-Robinson Day.
Hey we're gonna have a real good time with basketball next year, too.
And you can't have one without the other…
Let's get that third straight banner.
Michigan freshmen Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III will return to school, sources told CBSSports.com.
We'll hold off on any celebration type activities until it is official.
Michigan's called a 4:30 presser at which GRIII and McGary will announce whether they're returning for year two or entering the NBA draft. Three quick items:
- M had pressers for Burke and Lewan; could easily return.
- Joint presser means decisions are probably the same, and seems like a good sign to this super-biased mind.
- There were leaks hours before the Burke and Hardaway pressers, likely from agents who didn't get Burke and Hardaway's business. If we get to 4:30 without someone saying they're in, I bet they're out.
Cross all available digits.
UPDATE NOT FIVE SECONDS AFTER I POST THIS: A man named Dan Hasty says they're back. He's apparently on 97.1 and WWJ, so not a random. But also no track record. FWIW.