things go poorly
Why was I so feared, and you so loved? What was it? I was no less honorable. I wanted to do good. What betrayed me? My mind? My heart? Why do I condemn myself so? I swear, on the lives of my children: Give me a chance to redeem myself, and I will sin, no more.
If you have followed this series, you are now familiar with the message: light but focused recruiting plus really bad attrition equaled a defense with some really great players and some suicidal kittens.
Here's a question: based on recruiting and retention from 2006 to the present, how good will Michigan's defense be this year?
This diary will look at the talent on Michigan's roster in 2010 versus that of 2009, plus that of two rivals in that time, to try to get an idea of what kind of team we will be looking at this coming season.
In the first, we met the family.
In the second, we saw that family destroyed.
Today, I bring you Part III.
You know, the one that's chronologically incompatible with the other two, with the substantially lower production values, that rehashes old characters and plotlines from the previous flicks in order to squeeze more cachet out of the franchise.
In the third (and final?) installment of the Decimated Defense Trilogy, I will look to the future, comparing Michigan's 2010 defensive roster and attrition numbers against those of last year, and also against 2009 and 2010 for two relevant rivals: Ohio State and Michigan State.
Still interested? [ED: YES YOU ARE.]
Another week, another riot. We are all Greek. The cause of this one:
At the end of the book, Deren describes the scene with Lloyd Carr, the former Michigan head coach that recruited Trent to Ann Arbor, breaking the news to Trent that current head coach Rich Rodriguez did him no favors.
“Rodriguez had bad-mouthed him to every NFL scout he could,” Deren writes. “Rodriguez claimed that Morgan was lazy, he had an attitude problem and he was a big reason the Wolverines finished with a 3-9 record…”
Trent admits the words were “jarring,” and they were hard to understand given that he was so serious about his career that he actually moved in with his brother and sister-in-law and their two small children while going to Michigan. [ed: "Morgan Trent was so serious about football he decided to save on rent."]
But Trent was also worried about what Carr thought about his words showing up in the book. He talks to him, not Rodriguez. “I really like Coach Carr. He’s been very good to me,” Morgan says. “I think at first he was wondering, but I let him know it didn’t put him in a bad light. I would never do something like that to Lloyd. He’s great.” …
“I guess it was motivation,” Morgan says of the words that Deren estimates may have cost him $1 million. “(I) want to show people it was all false.”
Consider it done.
Here we go again, after one hell of a game of telephone from Rodriguez to NFL scout—at this point the story can get passed to and fro ad nauseum—to Carr to Trent to book author Deren. Rodriguez issued a denial…
“The comments attributed to me are inaccurate and absolutely ridiculous,” Rodriguez said in a statement. “I said just the opposite about Morgan Trent to NFL scouts and wish him well with the Bengals.”
…but even so, don't you kind of believe it anyway? Don't you sort of want to believe it? I believe Rodriguez told NFL scouts some version of what Deren says. I also believe that Trent was a lazy player with an attitude problem who was one of the main reasons Rodriguez's first team was a jumbled sack of cats attempting to claw in 20 different directions. Even if he didn't say it, I believe the words attributed to Rodriguez are accurate.
Trent's personal animosity towards Rodriguez has been made plain. We've previously established around here that football players are not compliance experts and the distinction between countable and non-countable hours befuddles even said experts. A former player's opinion on Michigan's we're-talking-about-stretching violations says more about his relationship with Rodriguez than anything about the violations. It's a Rorshach test. What Morgan Trent sees*:
"I'm not surprised because I know what happened, and I know what kind of rules were broken. I couldn't see how they were going to get out of that."
"Whatever steps need to be taken (to restore Michigan's winning tradition), I'm all for it. What is happening right now obviously is not working. I don't know how long they're going to let this last until changes are made."
"Coach Rod’s a good coach, and people are just trying to get him in trouble to me," Graham said.
So Morgan Trent is not disposed to give Rodriguez the benefit of the doubt when Lloyd Carr convenes a special meeting of the Anti-Rodriguez illuminati with the express purpose of revealing the dastardly secret carried about by Rich Rodriguez…
who controls the practice logs?
who puts Michigan Stadium in a bog?
weeeeee dooooooo… we do!
…that any Michigan fan could already have told you.
this happened like eight times in that game
He was not particularly good at football. He badly regressed after a promising junior season. Then when he went to the Shrine Bowl he "struggled," reinforcing the opinion of scouts "already down on him." The reason for this is now obvious: he hated the transition to Rodriguez, probably hated the coach himself, and spent a year half-assing it. The responsibility for this lies with Morgan Trent, even if he was so serious about football he lived with relatives(!). Attempts to deflect it only reinforce the very criticism (possibly) leveled by Rodriguez. It had nothing to do with the quality of the team, as Trent claims elsewhere in the article. A guy from Hillsdale went in the third round this year. The Bengals hadn't even talked to Rodriguez and still waited and waited and waited to take him.
During the very moments when Trent was doing whatever it was that made him a team cancer, Brandon Graham was turning himself into a first-round pick. We have not had any reports on what Rodriguez told NFL scouts about Brandon Graham, but dollars to donuts they were along the lines of "draft this man first overall and ask if he will adopt your kids." The reason Rich Rodriguez would say this is because of the things Brandon Graham did. You see, Rudy?
Now, there are a disturbing number of people who look at the Rich Rodriguez inkblot and see big pointy teeth. One major reason for this is that Rodriguez appears to be much harder on his players than Lloyd Carr. It's the very tippy top of the peak of hypocrisy for any Bo-venerating Michigan fan to look down on Rodriguez for this (his failure to resemble Bo in the win column is another matter). Part of that veneration is accepting the idea that being a coach often involves being very harsh to people who aren't living up to your expectations.
I wish that Rodriguez had managed to enter more smoothly but don't really blame him for the massive culture clash no one from fans to players to athletic director anticipated. He has a track record.
To be perfectly blunt and enraging to the denizens of the comments who get enraged when people pop on here and say dumb MLive-type things about departed players, I do blame Trent. Michigan is not going to be in good shape if Rich Rodriguez leaves after this year, and Trent would clearly like to see that happen and is operating either without a care as to how his inability to suck it up affects the program or with the express intent of getting rid of Rodriguez. Loyalty to the institution does not occur to him. It appears that correcting the record is so important to him that he's willing to sell out his alma mater to refute allegations that may not have actually happened and no one knew about. In doing so he's convinced me that the potentially fictional and definitely obscure allegations are true.
So… congratulations Morgan. You've invented a variant on the Streisand Effect.
As for Carr, he gave explicit permission to Trent to sell Rodriguez out in this book:
But Trent was also worried about what Carr thought about his words showing up in the book. He talks to him, not Rodriguez. “I really like Coach Carr. He’s been very good to me,” Morgan says. “I think at first he was wondering, but I let him know it didn’t put him in a bad light. I would never do something like that to Lloyd. He’s great.”
No, just Rodriguez. Any question as so whether or not there is a major rift between the two coaches is now gone. If there wasn't, Carr would have talked to Rodriguez about it. He would have gotten some clarification or a denial or something, and he wouldn't have presented it to Trent in the fashion he did. If he didn't do that, he would have told Trent to shut up when given the opportunity.
If there is really a New Era of Accountability in the athletic department, Carr and David Brandon should have a come-to-Jesus meeting in which Brandon does a lot of screaming. Trent is a pissed-off kid who was working for a scholarship. Carr is supposedly a program icon and an athletic department employee. Michigan shouldn't be paying someone who is actively working against the interests of the athletic department. It's obvious that Carr could have helped smooth things over with any number of players but chose not to, chose to exacerbate things in certain situations. He could have been of help during the transition; he was the opposite.
Through it all, Rodriguez just grits his teeth and asks if you've heard his Lion King joke. I shudder at the tell-all book that will inevitably follow a Rodriguez canning.
*(meta: I had to link to a mgoboard message board post instead of the News because the News shoved their story behind a paywall a month after they posted it. No one is ever going to pay for that article. Go newspapers.)
What a dump…
Michigan took it on the chin this weekend, dropping two games to open the series at Minnesota, but they battled back to win a close game three and keep pace with the Big Ten Joneses. Recaps, thoughts, and the opening stanza to a MICHIGAN STATE HATE mid-week series after the jump. And no, no pretty pictures as baseball can't be pretty in the Metrodome.
As I've noted previously, the Michigan Wolverines have earned the #1 overall seed in the MCLA National Tournament, another step on their quest for an unprecedented 3-peat National Championship.
The full MCLA bracket follows, with a preview of Michigan's first-round opponent, the Texas State Bobcats. A look at the whole bracket (with predictions!) is after the jump. One quick note: Though the semi-finals and finals will be broadcast on Fox College Sports, if you want to catch Michigan's early-round games, you can vote on the Collegelax.us forums for them to be webcast (and no, I don't feel guilty about encouraging you to vote, as there's already a fairly obvious BC ballot-stuffing initiative).
For an interactive-ish bracket (a phrase which here means "you can click to see individual teams' schedules and players), visit MCLA.us.
Texas State Preview
Tuesday May 11, 4PM MDT, Dick's Sporting Goods Park, Denver CO.
Record: 12-3 (4-1 Lone Star Alliance). LSA Tournament Champions.
Rankings: #18 MCLA LaxMag, #18 Prodigy, #23 LaxPower.
Common Opponents: None
Previous Meetings: None
Schedule. Playing in the Lone Star Alliance isn't any way to endear yourself to pollsters, and the Texas State Bobcats found that out the hard way. Thanks to a weak non-conference schedule, the only ranked team they faced all year was Texas. They split with the Longhorns, losing 12-10 in the regular season, but turning the tables for a 12-10 victory in the LSA tournament to earn a bid to the MCLA Tournament - and rob Texas of theirs.
Texas State picked up non-conference wins against the likes of LSU, Missouri, and Cal, while losing to Stanford and Loyola Marymount outside of the LSA. They finished 12-3 overall, with a 4-1 LSA record. They made the MCLA Tournament by winning the LSA Conference Tournament.
Personnel. As the #2-in-command in the LSA (think Michigan State in the CCLA), the Bobcats landed a number of players on the All-Conference teams. Making the first team were Attack Matt Malcolm and midfielder MIke Zdonczik. On the second team, midfielder Chad Henning, defenseman Jesse Herrmann and goalie Asa Spain represent Texas State. Attack Harrison Parr, midfield Robert Jones, and defense Raul Santiago were all-conference honorable mentions.
Coach Chris Park was the LSA Coach of the Year. Henning was the league's faceoff specialist of the year, and Malcolm shared player of the year honors with Texas's Johnny McKnight.
Analysis. Though the Bobcats ran up some impressive scores this year (23-5 against LSU, 15-7 against TCU), the competition in those games was very weak. Nearly every team that Texas State played this season outside of Texas would have been in the worst 3-4 squads that Michigan faced. Quality of competition is important.
The Wolverines have performed better than Texas State, and against much better competition. There's a reason this is a game between the 1-seed and the 16-seed. Michigan should get on the board early and often on the way to a big win.
There might be times that it seems like Texas State is having the best of Michigan, or that the Wolverines aren't running on all cylinders, but that shouldn't be the story of the game. When they need to turn it on, Michigan will do so, and get much more than they need on the way to a 22-6 victory.
Bracket Breakdown and Predictions after the jump.
It's a hockey kind of day today. Prompted by paywalled info at The Wolverine, I pinged my contact with the Cedar Rapids USHL team and he confirmed that Derek Deblois will enroll at Michigan this fall. Deblois was "not included in the discussion" of the Roughriders' upcoming USHL draft protected list because he's on his way to Ann Arbor.
As to what kind of player Deblois is, here's that scouting report referenced earlier:
Derek Deblois F 5’10” 177
Deblois projects as an offensive player and point producer. He has quick hands and is able to handle the puck in traffic. Deblois is equally adept at giving and receiving passes on his backhand. He is also very calm with the puck and will make the quick pass if needed or he can hold the puck and wait for the play to develop. Deblois has all shot types in his arsenal. I can’t say that he has a hard shot but he is able to get it on net with a good release. Deblois really impressed with his toughness and willingness to pay the price in front of the net. He has a knack for getting open but when a defenseman played the body, Deblois battled for position and got his stick free for deflections. Deblois was very disciplined and never rattled on those occasions. He continued to go about his business with a workman-like resolve.
Deblois weaknesses are that he lacked speed and explosiveness. He showed a willingness to backcheck but couldn’t get back quickly enough after some of the battles in front. His puck skills in traffic are a nice attribute but his inability to separate himself from defenders might inhibit him at the next level. Also, as much as he showed a willingness to take punishment in front, he was knocked off balance enough to notice that he could improve his lower body strength. Deblois will have to gain some muscle at Michigan but I’m not sure if that will improve his balance and quickness or slow him down.
Older scouting reports consistently cite soft hands but conflict with the above when it comes to his willingness to play in traffic; sounds like he may have added a dimension to his game over the past year. Deblois had an 11-23-34 line in 55 games with Cedar Rapids; he was +17 and had three goals in five playoff games.
Sounds like a guy who will start his career in the bottom six and move his way up in a year or two; power play time could be immediate. For more on Deblois, check out Yost Built's commit post, this site's version of the same, or the extensive take from James Stachowiak from the Always Next Year post from last week. His team's site also has a four-minute interview with the kid.
Apparently "we put a regional in St. Louis that four people will attend" is the 37-man Houston Nutt recruiting class of the NCAA hockey tournament: the rock bottom at which changes are made. From Grand Forks comes news that the hockey tournament is likely to go back to its roots:
Proposals were discussed at an annual college hockey national meeting in Florida last weekend and one gained the most traction.
Under the most popular proposal, the tournament would stay as a 16-team field, but the first round would be a best-of-three series played at the venue of the higher seed.
The eight teams advancing to the quarterfinals would play at one of two super regional sites. The quarterfinals would be one-game shots with a trip to the Frozen Four on the line. The Frozen Four would not change.
Before the regionals era, teams played best two-of-three series in the higher seed's building. That's how Michigan stole Cornell's cheers in 1992.
I'm dubious about these super-regionals. If you go back to a best two of three and leave the Frozen Four alone—with its Thursday semifinal—you're either adding a week to the tournament or playing on Tuesday. If it's a Tuesday game, you're jamming a lot of games into a short period of time and putting those short-notice weekday games anywhere other than a campus site is going to be an attendance disaster. [UPDATE: Yes, I'm an idiot. There is already a week off between the Frozen Four and the regionals.] If you're adding a week to the tournament, you might as well play another series on home ice for fairness and attendance reasons. A super regional is okay if you can day-trip it, which will be the case in the east, but will be problematic in the west when they put it in Minnesota and expect CCHA fans to make it out or vice versa.
But even a Frankenstein tournament like the one proposed above is vastly superior to the current system, which frequently rewards top seeds with road games in near-empty buildings. Fort Wayne was a nice arena but the exorbitant pricing and unwise scheduling kept people away, resulting in an embarrassing profusion of empty seats that did not reflect well on college hockey. Home games are the most likely way to keep the exorbitant pricing and actually fill an arena.
Surprisingly, there are some protests this could lose money:
There was some debate whether it would be good financially for the NCAA. If teams that play in large buildings like UND, Minnesota and Wisconsin hosted, it would certainly be more lucrative than the current format, which awards regionals to off-campus, neutral sites.
Money could be lost if teams that play in small buildings are the host.
That's almost impossible if the NCAA holds per-game pricing level at about 30 bucks a game. The regional rounds will go from three games to five, six, or seven. Average attendance would have to be about half what it currently is for the NCAA to lose money. Last year's attendance:
- Fort Wayne: 4,133 and 3,204
- Albany: 4,073 and 3,737
- Worchester: 6,572 and 6,054
- St. Paul: 7,281 and 7,182
The total attendance for first round-games: 22,059 paying double prices.
NCAA one and two seeds last year:
- Boston College (7,800)
- Wisconsin (15,200)
- North Dakota (11,600)
- St. Cloud (5,700)
- Denver (6,000)
- Cornell (4,200)
- Miami (4,000)
- Bemidji (currently 2.5k, will be 4,000)
Total capacity: 58,500.
Required capacity to at least match last year's attendance: 22,059. Required capacity per team: 2,700. Actual capacity: 7,300. Tiny RIT's rink: 2,100. There's no way going back to home playoff series can lose money, especially if the second round goes to best two-of-three.
Don't Forget The CCHA
The next year or two promises seismic change in NCAA hockey. First, the tournament is moving towards sanity. Second, realignment and the implosion of the CHA sees the WCHA and Atlantic Hockey go to twelve teams, the CCHA down to eleven, and Alabama Huntsville adrift.
The CCHA has already made the easy decision by tweaking their playoff format, but attempting to shoehorn 11 teams into a 28-game conference schedule is considerably more difficult. We might see a confusing one-off as the league tries to keep a robust number of conference games, but in the long term a move to 20 seems in the offing. With the Big Ten Network's voracious appetite for content looming and the demise of the College Hockey Showcase—a move Wisconsin explicitly made in an effort to get more Big Ten games on the schedule—some version of a Big Ten hockey conference is in the offing in the near future. It would probably be an out of conference round-robin unless Illinois or Penn State or Iowa starts up a program, in which case all bets are off.
(HT: MGoUser jcgary.)