This is admittedly quite hasty. Please, please, please tear it apart so I have a decent entry for the final ballot. I haven't looked at any preseason magazines, and I threw this together in just a few minutes from memory. I'd run down a few of the things I'm not sure about... but there are too many of them.
MGoBlog Ballot - Week 1
|1||Ohio St. Buckeyes||--|
|4||Alabama Crimson Tide||--|
|5||Boise St. Broncos||--|
|9||Florida St. Seminoles||--|
|10||Virginia Tech Hokies||--|
|15||North Carolina Tar Heels||--|
|16||Penn St. Nittany Lions||--|
|19||Nevada Wolf Pack||--|
|21||Oregon St. Beavers||--|
|23||TCU Horned Frogs||--|
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Michigan's 2010 recruiting class is now down a fourth member, as spring enrollee Austin White is no longer with the team. When he wasn't listed on the Media Day roster, I asked Michigan Football spokesman Dave Ablauf about it, and his answer was short and sweet: "That's permanent." Coach Rich Rodriguez expanded a bit in his statements to the media:
"Austin White is no longer in the program. So, we wish him well, we'll help him in that regard, but we're - he's no longer part of the Michigan football family.
From the tone of both Ablauf and Rodriguez's remarks, it sounds like the decision was more in the hands of the program than White himself.
Fortunately for me, I spent most of last fall following White around, so here are some highlights of his senior season of high school:
As for impact on the program, it shouldn't be a big factor. White was a lock to redshirt in 2010, and even then he was looking up at several players on the depth chart. Michigan can fill the void his departure creates in 2011 and 2012 recruiting.
Tuesday: In Your City, If It's New York. I'll be in NYC Tuesday to talk about the team and sheepishly admit what I thought the past two years. The event is supposed to be somewhere around this page, but I can't find it without a login. Details:
3rd Annual Football Season Kick-off Party with MGoBlog's Brian Cook
Date: Tuesday, August 24
Time: 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Location: Brother Jimmy's, 116 East 16th Street (between Irving & Park)
Cost: FREE for pre-registered AAUM members, and $20 for all others online through Tuesday, August 18. Day-of door pricing will be $25 for everyone. Register at http://alumni.umich.edu/event/?2262bf16-8fbe-4d22-befa-563be5d594ae
InformationDue to popular demand, the alumni club has once again invited sports blogger Brian Cook to return to NYC to spread his knowledge of all-things Michigan football and preview the 2010 season. Come out to meet and mix with your fellow Maize and Blue football fans!
Contact: Alex Trambitas, firstname.lastname@example.org
Yeah, I wouldn't pay 20 bucks to hear me talk either. Hope you're in the alumni club.
I find it sad*. I wish this didn't have an incongruous backing track—I actually checked my tabs in case some highlight reel was going in another—but here's Bo blowing up during the '89 Illinois game:
Woo ha! Michigan would win 24-10 en route to the Rose Bowl.
They're back except they're different and probably uglier. OSU will again wear wack Nike uniforms for The Game. Ohio State fans are suitably appalled:
Do you hate things that are good? Great, me too! We have so much in common. In fact, our friends at Nike have taken it upon themselves to market to folks just like us, people with (or without!) disposable income who enjoy kitsch, tasteless things.
As such, the university announced Tuesday that for a second straight year, the slow and steady commercialization of The Game will evidently proceed accordingly. This season, Ohio State is widely expected to take the field in a scarlet variety of the same faux-throwback-to-the-future-OMGboomstyle-backs the team rocked in conquering the rebel occupied forest moon of
EndorAnn-Arbor last November.
By 2015 The Game will be Rollerball. It will star LL Cool J, and TV people will love it.
But hey, at least that effort to have a terrible phone company be a title sponsor was swiftly demolished when fans revolted. I'm not sure why the same hasn't happened with this—think of what it will look like in Getty Images in 20 years!—but if there was any ever debate about which team had the more iconic uniforms, it's over now. If Michigan tried to wear anything other than the home blues they've worn since 1565, you'd find whoever made that decision strapped to a donkey with a sock in his mouth and GPS directions to Columbus the next day.
That is only a silver lining to a dark cloud of stupidity, though. Anyone who is still angry that Michigan decided to take way more money from Adidas: you are nuts.
Acceptable? Wha? Penn State fans have been complaining up a storm about the idea they'd get swapped into the Essentially West division of the Big Ten; I've been doing the same about the idea of getting Ohio State as a cross-divisional rival. Will we ever get along? Maybe. Slow States may have put together a division setup that works for everyone:
Division A: Penn State, Nebraska, Iowa, Michigan State, Purdue, Northwestern
Division B: Ohio State, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois
This necessitates the cross-division rivals, which bleah, but I look at it and think "not horrible," as do Penn State fans. The only problem is breaking up the Wisconsin-Iowa game (Iowa-Minnesota is the protected game) but they do get Nebraska instead. I don't think anyone would have a major problem with this arrangement except "TV people," who can go jump in a lake since their idea of thinking long term is next week.
Remain calm! Skepticism about Kevin Newsome is totally rooted in jealousy and bitterness instead of "repeating what Penn State sources say":
A source close to the program told The Patriot-News earlier in the week that Bolden, the true freshman from Michigan, is clearly the most talented of PSU's four quarterbacks.
Joe Paterno may still settle on former walk-on Matt McGloin as his starter for the Sept. 4 opener against Youngstown State because of McGloin's familiarity with the offense.
So that's a true freshman and a walk-on in front of Newsome, who "has not performed well" to date. It'll be interesting to see how Bolden does on multiple levels, since Michigan chose to pursue Gardner over him and Tim saw him a lot in high school and was resoundingly unimpressed.
They grow moohaha. Check out this bizarre hockey rink:
That's from the NHL's development camp, where they're testing out all kinds of weird stuff including giant cyclopean faceoff circles and—tingle—super-thick blue lines. Most comments about the latter (which I've been advocating for years in my oversigning-level campaign against hockey offsides) center on the expansion of the offensive zone:
Wider blue lines to increase the size of offensive zone -- I've always liked this idea. In widening the lines, there's more room to keep the puck in the zone when it goes out to the line, but the zone itself remains the same size and the neutral zone doesn't shrink. It's an idea whose time has come, but only if the linesmen is vigilant in getting into position to make the close calls.
This is a benefit, but it's an ancillary one. The major asset of XXL blue lines is a serious reduction in those nothing offsides calls where one team is trying to rush the puck into the zone and a guy is three inches off. A thicker blue line increases the demilitarized zone and should reduce the number of interesting rushes killed off in favor of a neutral-ice faceoff and inevitable dump-and-chase.
The guy above gives that rule change a slim chance of passing because it's "too radical," unfortunately.
Etc.: You can now mic bands. Will this matter? Probably not since last year's whinefest featured a bunch of audio engineers who described how difficult this was in detail. MATW fills in another "of the decade" blank with the top games.
A few updates from basketball, as I've had a couple chances to watch the team practice this week, and also talk to a few players and coach Beilein. (Images from Michigan Basketball on Facebook).
The team leaves for Europe today, and the rest of their schedule will be as follows:
- Saturday - Practice in Brussels.
- Sunday - Play Ghent at 4pm (local time).
- Monday - Play Charleroi at 7pm.
- Tuesday - Team trip to Paris.
- Wednesday - Tour Brugge in the morning, play Oostand at 8:30pm.
- Thursday - Play Mons at 7pm.
- Friday - Tour Amsterdam
- Saturday - Return to USA.
The Wolverines' administrative assistant, former Wolverine Travis Conlan, was responsible for setting up most of the games. He's recently played for Mons.
Conlan said the competition will be a little bit better than your average Big Ten team. Ghent is one of the worst teams in Belgium, but the other three squads are traditionally at the top of the table. The teams are mostly composed of guys who were the best player at a mid-major school but didn't make it into the NBA.
To follow the team in Europe, log on to MGoBlue.com, where there should be several manager/player diaries daily. If you become a fan of Michigan basketball on Facebook, they're also planning to post flipcam videos as well. Stats and game recaps will be published as well.
As for what they plan to get out of the trip, Beilein said "Just seeing where we are, as far as our conditioning, how tough we are, what we have. To give them a measuring stick and give us a measuring stick."
Prior to scheduling the trip, Beilein also wanted to make the trip the culmination of a for-credit summer class on European history or culture for the players, but everything happened so fast that there wasn't time to establish a curriculum.
Personnel and Tempo
The main lineups from Sunday's scrimmage, in order of appearance, were the following:
Jon Horford was mostly running with the scout team (otherwise composed of walkons), but he and McLimans switched at the very end of the scrimmage. Andy Beilein tweeted earlier that the first lineup listed above, except with Hardaway replacing Vogrich, was "Just a thought." Coach Beilein said yesterday that Vogrich was likely to start in Europe, however.
The most notable thing from the scrimmage was the tempo of the offense. There was a lot of fast break. Darius Morris looked pretty good running it - he looks a lot more confident in all phases of the game. There are some factors pushing the change that won't apply during the season (playing against walkons, playing with a 24-second clock), but when asked about it, Douglass and Novak both mentioned that pushing the tempo is a point of emphasis for the team this entire year. Douglass said, "We're trying to push the tempo throughout the year, the entire year." Novak added, "I mean, that's just an emphasis for the year that we've got."
Blake McLimans needs to improve his conditioning. In a running drill on Sunday, he was unable to finish in the time limit, and he missed a couple fast-break opportunities yesterday because he was slow getting up the court. Morris and Douglass were in the center of the line for sprints, and were far faster than everyone else. Corey Person was next-fastest, for what it's worth.
Tim Hardaway Jr. and Evan Smotrycz look like the real deal. Smotrycz seems to be one of the better shooters on the team, but it also able to play in the post quite a bit. Hardaway has a pure stroke and can pull up from a lot of different spots on the floor.
Jon Horford (at right) needs to add some weight, and he's a raw prospect. However, Beilein said "We have some sponges on this team, and I mean that really want to get better. Just watching, for example, Jon Horford today, that's all he wants to do," and it seemed like he had improved a bunch between Sunday and today. Colton Christian wasn't practicing full-court either day, as he re-injured his hamstring. He'll travel to Europe, but it's possible he doesn't see any court time.
For much more on individual players, check out UMHoops.
This is a very young team, with the entire upperclass contingent consisting of two juniors. However, they seem to be developing. Being able to get 10 extra practice days in the summer and actually play some competitive games in the pre-season will hopefully help the young guys be ready to contribute, almost like spring enrollees for football.
The chemistry, camaraderie, and leadership on this team should be an upgrade as well. Though DeShawn Sims and Manny Harris were great players, they weren't the vocal leaders that a young team needs, and on-court chemistry was lacking last season.
Is this an NCAA Tournament team? Probably not. Is it an NIT team? Probably not. But it should be a fun team to watch over the course of the season, as they grow individually and as a collective.
I have terrible news: David Brandon's pimp hand has badly malfunctioned and is now marching, Godzilla-style, on the greatest rivalry ever in the history of ever. This morning he showed up on WTKA to discuss Big Ten divisons and said this:
SAM WEBB: If you are making the decision, are Michigan and Ohio State in the same division?
[pregnant pause in which Brandon struggles valiantly against the malfunctioning pimp hand's electrosteam power source. "NO," he stammers. "MUST… NOT… SUBMIT." He feels like he's trapped in an episode of Star Trek, playing Kirk in any one of the dozens of episodes in which something in his brain compels him to evil. Sweat breaks out on his brow; he begins to tremble. The shaking increases in intensity, threatening to break out into violent convulsions! At any moment David Brandon's existential dilemma will come to a head! Things are afoot—
A twitch. Two twitches. Now a facial tic. All is silent. An unnatural calm descends.]
DAVID BRANDON: …No.
[Deep in a bunker underneath a Kenosha corn field, Barry Alvarez allows himself the deep rumbling bass laugh only the blackest hearts can muster. Yes. All according to plan.]
SAM WEBB: And why? [Ed: …GOD WHY?]
THE UNSPEAKABLE THING THAT POSSESSES THE BODY OF DAVID BRANDON: Because we're in a situation where one of the best things that could happen … would be the opportunity to play Ohio State twice.
He said he has received only a couple of e-mails from people worried about the possibility of moving the Michigan game to earlier in the season. Whether those – and other critical opinions expressed on the Internet – are reflective of the broad fan base is impossible to know, Smith said.
"I know one thing for sure - that we're going to play (Michigan) every year," Smith said. "We may end up playing the last game of the year, or not. I just don't know that yet."
The "not" scenario will only come to pass if the two teams can play again and the Big Ten is trying to avoid the farce of a best-last-one-out-of-two scenario. And with both ADs at Michigan and Ohio State trying to prepare the fans for a soft landing, it's clear which way this is going: the stupidest possible way.
ONE: It is extremely unlikely that Michigan and Ohio State would ever actually score a championship game rematch. Splitting the two teams is a pointless exercise in hoping that once every ten years you get another one. This is no longer the 1970s.
TWO: Michigan's year-end opponent: Michigan State? Boy, that will fire up everyone on Rivalry Week: "It's Michigan! It's some team that's been within a game of .500 every year since SEC schools started recruiting black kids! On ABC!"
THREE: Whatever damage the rivalry sustains because of the split is going to vastly outweigh the piddling slice of extra revenue Michigan and Ohio State will get from a 1/12th split of the incremental bump the Big Ten Championship Game gets because maybe once every ten years they'll get to pit Michigan against Ohio State.
FOUR: Dennis Dodd thinks this is the way to go. QED.
Not that this matters. Apparently it's done. Get ready for Michigan-Ohio State sometime in October, not even playing for a division or anything, because the "TV people" really want it. Do I need to remind you about Mark Shapiro?
Bullets from Rich Rod's post-practice press conference today.
Dealing With Troy Woolfolk's Injury
Troy is in great shape, and he was playing well. They don't know how long Woolfolk fill be out, "I think we're still waiting on some medical results... I'm confident we've got guys to step in."
Initially, everybody's concerned for their teammate. Once they know he's ok, they're able to bounce back. Everybody's down, but "once they see him getting around, they'll bounce back."
"We'll move guys around in the secondary" to compensate for Woolfolk's injury. Some safeties had already moved to corner, but there may be some more. "With our schemes, our free safeties and our corners are in the same meeting room, so I think they probably know each other's position anyway." Asked if any WRs would move to DB: "No. Strictly defensive guys." All the young guys at DB have a chance, and now they have a sense of urgency to prepare.
Other than Woolfolk, they only have "typical camp injuries" - guys missing a practice or two because they're banged up.
"I wish we had a better way to measure." Rodriguez wishes there was an inter-squad scrimmage, because now there's no way to test yourself against somebody else. Division 1-A is the only level of football without scrimmages.
RR will know after tomorrow's practice who will miss saturday scrimmage due to injury.
In the scrimmage, they're looking for overall competition. Coaches won't be on the field for the scrimmage. Players will have to see the signs from the sidelines, which is new for the freshmen. They'll scrimmage "at least most of" the special teams Saturday. It will be an opportunity to let the player get used to the new turf.
No firm first and second teams on either side of the ball. The scrimmage on Saturday will be mixed across groups. QBs won't be live in the scrimmage.
After the scrimmage Saturday, they'll have another, smaller one midweek next week. After that, the coaches will pretty much know who's on the two-deep, who's on the travel squad, etc. They'll only run practice with two groups getting the majority of the reps at that point.
At QB, Rodriguez always had at least two guys get almost the same number of reps - "even when I've had a clear-cut starter". All three guys are getting equal reps. That'll taper down after the scrimmage.
QBs probably won't be live all camp. As long as they are practicing with good fundamentals, and taking care of the ball, they won't go live.
Tate - He's had a pretty good camp. He's really gotten better. He's been challenged, so far he's responded well. He's a little bigger and stronger. Tate has worked. Some of the guys that have been challenged - guys who have ability and need it. Tate and "a couple other guys" have responded to the challenge. When they know there's competition, they're more motivated.
All three guys at QB are getting better. It's possible that Devin could win the job. Is it likely he could win the job? "Possible? Likely? Possible's a better word." He came in behind because of experience, but he's competing to win it.
There's an ongoing battle at running back. The top guy won't be settled, they're hoping for two or three guys ready for the UConn game.
Jon Bills has been with the team through camp, serving as a student assistant coach. His halo should be coming off in the next few days.
The competition at tackle is going well. "I've really been pleased with Perry Dorrestein, and Mark Huyge, they're veterans. They've come back and played pretty well. And the two young guys, Taylor Lewan and Mike Schofield are competing right there with them."
Craig Roh "is moving around well; he's in good shape... He's carrying the extra weight pretty well."
Mark Moundros is in contention for a starting linebacker spot. Obi Ezeh, Kenny Demens, JB Fitzgerald, Kevin Leach, and Moundros can all play multiple LB positions. Rodriguez has "really been pleased" with Obi Ezeh. Jonas Mouton has been a little banged up. "They're in really good shape."
Kickers have done better, and been pretty good last two days. Will Hagerup has punted well, as has Seth Broekhuizen. Justin Meram (the soccer player) says he can throw it, too. Rodriguez isn't excited to find out.
Leadership And Wings
"Our senior class is doing a great job with leadership." The team was shown a video the other day with the history of Michigan's program, then the seniors presented some team goals. Seniors came up with the goals, and Rodriguez gave a few tips to help them achieve those goals. The goals are pretty common, there are higher expectations at Michigan, and everyone should start the year competing for a championship. "We've got ambitious guys, and they're working toward that end."
It's critical for seniors to take a leadership role. Off the field, in the locker room, around campus, etc. "When a senior's getting on you about something, don't take it personal." They're doing it for your own good and the team's good. Fear of offending someone sometimes makes seniors afraid to speak out.
We've had good leadership each of the past couple years. Guys didn't really know what coaches wanted the first year. Last year's guys were good leaders (Zoltan, Brandon Graham), but they might not have been as vocal all the time.
Have to push to practice at a championship level during camp. The team has a good attitude. There are moments when practice goes well, at other times the team is ragged. The afternoon practices of two-a-days are when guys are really tired. Guys know when they're not practicing at a high level.
Does Tate have his wings back? "Yes, they got it back today. Yes they did. There's the story for you." Why now? "We wanted to see some consistency a few days in a row." This was the first time he's done something like this.
Most encouraged that the players like to work. Nobody's late for practice or meetings, everybody's attentive. "I Love their attitude, and I love their work ethic, and that's the start."
Ball security - really good so far. A couple interceptions, tipped passes or bad decisions, but there hasn't been a fumble in the past couple days. Throwing it well, good at taking care of the ball.
In the past, the coaches have tried to simplify the offense, has that changed this year? Haven't yet put more in this year. Installation really slowed down this week. We'll have to do more to get ready for UConn.
Summer school is mostly over, though a couple guys might be taking a final tomorrow. Freshmen finished, which is nice because school has been making them miss meetings. Rodriguez is anxious to see how they can progress when football is their only focus.
Grades will come out in a week or so, and we'll know the eligibility status of upperclassmen then (obvious Shaw leading question).
Rodriguez has certain things he puts on lists to get done, and they're right on track to meet those goals. "We've really made progress. I think we're right on track." The scrimmage will tell a lot about where they are.
Rodriguez got one of the first copies of Jon Falk's new book. He hasn't read the whole thing yet. "He's got a lot of stories to tell, and he's an icon, and everybody loves big Jon."