Hello: Dave Brandon. Another media flurry with Dave Brandon's official ascension to the top job in the Michigan athletic department. Here's a jerko on Fox business acting all jerky:
I feel like that fat X-Wing pilot… "stay on messsage. Stay on message. Roghbaobahraraha"
Anyway, there were a ton of articles mostly rehashing what we already know about Brandon or reflecting on Bill Martin's tenure. There are a few relevant new quotes. The first is undoubtedly a response to a "what does Rodriguez have to do to not get fired?" question:
“Much like your boss, there’s a lot of different things you look at,” he told AnnArbor.com last month. “Certainly you need to see progress and some of that’s measured by wins and losses, but it’s also measured a lot of other ways. And when I’m in a position where I can evaluate as closely as I need to and I want to, all those metrics and all those measures will be clear between the coach and me.”
Brandon backed his coach then and on Monday reiterated his support for Rodriguez.
"He's our coach for this season," Brandon said. "There's nothing within the framework of the NCAA allegations that led me to believe that it should change his status as our coach."
Some people are making a deal out of Brandon explicitly stating "this season," interpreting it as an implicit threat. FWIW, I interpreted it as a way to avoid questions about Rodriguez getting fired in August or October or whatever. No one can scurry off to write an article about Rodriguez getting canned once Michigan goes in front of the committee.
Birkett asked some excellent questions that got stuck in a sidebar-type object. Advertising in Michigan Stadium? Very likely not:
"When I was a regent and this subject came up, we went out and did pretty qualified, professional, third-party research on the views of our fans, our season-ticket holders, the people who are the most important to us in terms of paying customers of the game-day experience at Michigan Stadium. And the research I saw at that time caused me to conclude that the thing that was the most objectionable, the thing that turned off the fan the most, was the idea that they would come to a football game and they would be blasted with advertising. ... I think it was Sam Walton who said if you don’t know what to do ask your customer. I asked my customers a lot before I make these kinds of decisions, and at least the last time I looked at the data our customers would tell us that they really didn’t want to go there and so I think we should be very, very careful and sensitive to that."
Unfortunately, Brandon is an anti-playoff luddite, but no one's perfect.
The city that time forgot. It's Toledo! I have no idea what the header is supposed to mean. Fearless Leader headed across the border into Toledo to speak at the National Football Foundation dinner, and he brought his zingers. Don't take my word for it, listen to the Blade's Ryan Autullo:
“It's good to be invited anywhere,” Rodriguez said, in the first of several zingers that drew laughter from the crowd.
Zingers. You see, Rudy? Part of that article is an interview with Rodriguez that hints at some maturity issues with Tate Forcier last year:
"I've told Tate as you get older I'm going to expect more out of you. I really think he's done a great job in the weight room the last six or seven weeks, but that's not an issue for him as far as commitment to football. It's everything that's encompasses being a UM athlete. Tate went through some freshmen trials with that and now it's time for him to grow up and go.”
"With that?" I could just be imagining things but that seems to be an indication that Forcier was somewhat less than dedicated at points last year. Supporting evidence: the Facebook explosion that led to the gut-churning week of transfer rumors. There's not a whole lot else that's new, but this is… odd to contemplate:
How would you describe your relationship with Ohio State coach Jim Tressel?
“We've got a great relationship. We got to know each other a few years back at various functions. Apparel companies will send you on a little week's vacation — the coaches and their spouses — so we got to know each other there."
Also, Orson responds to a Rodriguez quote on the media coverage of his program. First, Rodriguez being diplomatic:
The media coverage of your program has been tough. In your opinion, has it been fair?
"That's an interesting question. I've never really thought about it much. You understand it's part of the job. A lot of people say there's so much more media coverage [at UM] but really, at West Virginia, we had quite a bit of media coverage, and good media coverage.
Orson then brings down the thunder:
"Did RichRod just not grant us superiority over the West Virginia media?" Ann Arbor Media Scrutiny Force, assemble and strike for the Fourth Estate! <---most inflated sense of self-importance in any small media market ever and that includes Alabama football media oh yeah bitch you read that right. Rich Rodriguez has been appropriating office supplies at a breakneck, reckless pace AND WE HAVE FILM!
Final aerial. I really think these tempo-free aerials should be centered on the league average instead of 1.00, because this sort of looks like Michigan is totally average at everything:
They're not. Remarkably, Michigan's actually much better on defense than offense in the Kenpom numbers and I assume that a conference-only Kenpom would be even better since Michigan's early attempts to roll out the 1-3-1 were totally disastrous and the thing was scrapped entirely by the time conference play rolled around. The offense did not undergo any similar improvement, though Minnesota fans will be forgiven for thinking otherwise. I bet a dollar Michigan's two inexplicable outbursts against the Gophers are a major reason they're underwater defensively, and headed for the NIT despite checking in at a strong-for-the-bubble 35 in the Kenpom rankings. I'd feel bad for them except that "eeeeeh Gophers" cheer is irritating.
The next 2010, for now. Yost Built summarizes some recent recruiting news. The biggest item is news that spectacularly-named Ontario forward Matia Marcantuoni will definitely end up at Michigan if he heads to college. Marcantuoni is a potential #1 OHL draft pick and would team with Boo Nieves to make Michigan' early 2012 recruting class a spectacular one both on the ice and the back of the jersey. That goes double since Michigan is apparently hot after goalie Dalton Izyk in the same class. Izyk is a Nieves teammate and was the #1 goalie at the Select 15 camp this fall.
In re: Izyk and a couple other goalie names for down the road, Yost Built asks this question:
Izyk is an early-94 as well. Assuming he'd be scheduled to come in in 2012, that brings up an interesting issue: Would you go for a goalie for 2010, have him compete with Hogan as a freshman, start as a sophomore, and then compete with your youngster as a junior and senior, or would you roll with what we've got again next year and hope to get the kid to accelerate and come in as the starter in 2011?
That answer seems totally obvious to me: get a goalie this year and leave Hypothetical 2012 Goalie in the class of 2012. Goalies are erratic, tough to predict, and develop slowly. The last guy Michigan brought in early was Billy Sauer, who was flat bad his first two years (.898 and .896) before dropping a damn good junior year (.924) that ended with Nickelback and Creed in the Frozen Four. Hogan won the job as a sophomore, but even so Sauer's save percentage in 13 games as a senior was 0.921. Hogan had a .914.
Instead of going the Sauer route again, I'd much rather bring in a guy right now and have two viable goalies on the roster next year in case Hogan does not rebound from his poor play, have a sophomore in 2011, and then real competition past that. There are two good to excellent prospects out there in Jeff Teglia, the save percentage leader in the USHL, and probable mid-round NHL draft pick Joel Vienneau of the OPJHL. Neither is Jack Campbell but both have better pedigrees than Hogan, who had a save percentage of .889 on a good USHL team (they were 27-13-3 with Hogan in net and only gave up 25 shots per game; Teglia's team gives up 29) and did not get drafted. If Michigan can get either one of them, they definitely should.
Oy. Really? We divert you from your regularly-scheduled Free Press bashing for this from the News's Terry Foster:
Wolverine fans were thrilled that Beilein finally got Michigan into the tournament and acted like that was some major accomplishment. It isn't. If you are in the Big Ten you should have at least a 50 percent chance of making the tournament.
Meanwhile Western Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Central Michigan, Oakland University and of course Michigan State have all played in NCAA tournament games since Michigan last did.
That's true for one of those schools, actually, and is something you mentioned in the previous paragraph. But thanks for playing. BONUS:
Sims will probably leave after this season and it will be interested to see what a frustrated Harris does.
What say you, page 25 of a Google image search for "fail"?
There's tossed off nonsense and there's a total ignorance of many things, including Michigan basketball and time.
(HT: Maize n Brew.)
The Postseason Before The Postseason
The Big Ten Tournament walks a weird line between being the end of the regular season and the start of the postseason. It also happens to be Michigan's only chance to, like, make the postseason (they do not plan to accept a CBI bid if they don't make the NIT). In Round 1, Michigan faces off against the Iowa Hawkeyes in the 8/9 game, with a rubber match against Ohio State lurking if they should advance. Your full bracket, from the Big Ten:
To make the NCAA Tournament, the tall order of defeating Iowa, Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Purdue or Michigan State seems to be necessary. Basically what I'm saying is that there are only a couple basketball games left this season, so try to enjoy them.
Lists: We Is On Them
"We" being only DeShawn Sims and Manny Harris, of course. The Official Big Ten All-Conference honorees include DeShawn Sims as a Second-Team selection and Manny Harris as a Third-Team nod. Manny was named to the official First-Team squad in the preseason. Ohio State's Evan Turner was named the conference POTY.
Other outlets making lists include the Big Ten Network's Big Ten Geeks, whose squad (first team only, plus freshman of the year) includes no Wolverines (HT: UMHoops). The outstanding Michigan State (durr: oxymoron, durr) blog The Only Colors determines the Big Ten players who are most valuable based on PORPAG, whatever that means. Points Over Replacement Player Per Adjusted Game decrees that DeShawn Sims is worthy of his Second-Team consideration, and Manny Harris was one of the great disappointments in the Big Ten this year. Players of note:
|Big Ten PORPAG|
|1||John Shurna (NU)||4.41|
|2||Jason Bohannon (UW)||3.96|
|3||Robbie Hummel (Pur)||3.75|
|4||Evan Turner (OSU)||3.59|
|5||Demetri McCamey (Ill)||3.23|
The stat is imperfect - it only covers offense, and defensive rebounding is one of Manny's great strengths - but it indicates that he has a lot of offensive work to do, and would probably be better-served by staying in college for his final season.
You'll notice that the search box has migrated down from the header to the right sidebar, where it slightly displaces the diaries and board. I've moved the site over to a Google-powered search that is a thousand times more useful than Drupal's defaults.
You'll also note a "Refine" section right under your results. Right now there's just one option that will provide you only message board posts. If anyone has suggestions for other potentially useful refinements, let me know and I'll try to implement them.
Previously: S Carvin Johnson.
|Youngstown, Ohio - 5'10" 178
|Scout||3*, #103 S|
|ESPN||2*, 68, #270 ATH|
|Other Suitors||Wisconsin, Kent State, Bowling Green, Air Force|
|Commitment post. Brief interview with Tom.|
|Notes||Cardinal Mooney puts out a lot of talent every year.|
Ray Vinopal is the second member of Michigan's Rodney Dangerfield duo at safety, a two-star who was a surprise commitment at a time when Michigan had considerably higher-rated prospects on the board. Rich Rodriguez took some time to defend his new deep safety on signing day:
I hope people don't get too hung up in stars. I don't know what Ray's star rating was. Ray Vinopal I think is -- you know, valuable a recruit as anybody we have, because of what we've seen and what we think he's going to bring to the table. And I'm very excited about Ray. He's a guy, again, that kind of came out of nowhere in some people's minds, but not in ours. Tony Gibson did an outstanding job of reciting Ray.
It's more of the same when it comes to gurus and the players and the quotes and the laven:
Vinopal said he doesn’t put much stock in Internet evaluations of his play, either.
“I use it as motivation,” he said. “I know what I can do, the coaches obviously know what I can do, that’s why they offered me. I mean, it’s Michigan and the Big Ten, they’re not throwing out offers because they want to be nice. There’s a reason behind it.”
There is also a reason that the internet folks are down on Johnson. The common thread running through Vinopal's evaluations is a lack of athleticism. ESPN's mostly negative take:
Lacks desired length and height as a high-point safety as well. He is an active run defender who will come down and fill hard; provides good secondary support. Shows adequate closing burst and makes solid contact as a tackler with better-than-adequate pop. Overall underneath range and speed is good but he does not fill with great downhill burst and sharp angles; loses outside leverage on the ball at times. … Lacks quick diagnosing and reaction skills which is a concern. Not a guy who projects well playing down over the top of slots in man coverage schemes and feel he could struggle mirroring/breaking down on quicker skill players in space.
At the time of his commitment I compared him to Jordan Kovacs; Touch The Banner also referenced Kovacs in its scouting report. Again with the small/slow bits:
And that's the problem I have with the Vinopal offer and commitment. When I watch him, I don't see a whole lot to fix. He's pretty technically sound. He reads plays well, he accelerates well, and you can see that he goes full-speed. He goes all out . . . and I'm still not impressed. He's not a great tackler. He's not extremely fast. He's going to get overpowered in the run game, outrun in open space, and outjumped in the passing game. When he gets to full speed, his running form goes completely out of whack, although that's something that may be able to be fixed.
Even folks who are trying to talk up Vinopal's potential tend to mention his general failure to be Adrian Peterson:
"Ray's a kid that when you look at him, he's always going to be underestimated because he's not as athletic as most of the Division I safeties probably are. But Cardinal Mooney guys are pretty darn successful. If you look at a guy like Kyle McCarthy at Notre Dame, he's probably not as big, as fast or as athletic as any other defensive back there [at ND] but he led them in tackles each of the past two seasons.
"Ray Vinopal could be similarly productive, and he has more speed than McCarthy."
I'm on the record as a big Kyle McCarthy fan—he and David Bruton were everything Michigan safeties were not the last couple years—but while McCarthy just put up a 4.65 at the NFL combine he also finished second amongst safeties in the bench press, three-cone drill, and shuttle. McCarthy is a big, athletic guy who happens to be a little slow. Vinopal is a considerably smaller player who many people knock for his lack of athleticism.
On the other hand, there are some indicators that Vinopal is actually pretty fast. He is a member of Mooney's state championship 4x100m relay that has won back-to-back state titles and will go for a third this spring. As a freshman in a (no doubt hand-timed and still probably FAKE) 4.5 40 at an underclass camp. He claimed a 4.41 electronic time to Sam Webb on signing day.
Afterwards, Vinopal was getting a ton of letters from all over, but none of them materialized into offers save for scattered MAC teams and service academies until Michigan stepped in. Wisconsin said he was "definitely an offer guy" after he hit their summer camp, and on Signing Day Vinopal did claim a late Badger offer. Other than that, the BCS was indifferent. Notre Dame brought him in for a visit and was considering an offer, as were BC and Pitt, but Michigan short-circuited that by picking up his commitment.
So. Previously I explained my bullishness on Carvin Johnson despite his who-dat status. Vinopal doesn't have any of those same indicators except maybe the late offers, and Vinopal's only got the one from Wisconsin. That doesn't match Johnson's three or four from programs like Tennessee. Vinopal got a small bump from Scout after committing to Michigan but actually lost ground at Scout. Rivals was unmoved. And there's no one out there other than Vinopal's coach…
“He is extremely physical, extremely explosive,” Fecko said. “He did some things where there were some balls, fades thrown up along the sideline, and it looked like they were going to be a completion and he was coming across just smacking people, dislodging footballs. A great run-stopper that was a sure tackler, and when he had his chance to lay a lick on you he definitely did.”
…saying the kid is someone who should have grabbed more attention.
Now… I feel bad, right? I read articles in which Vinopal or Johnson says stuff about people not liking them or needing to prove people wrong and I think that I am a person who they believe needs to be proven wrong—needed to, in Johnson's case. But the goal of this series is to assemble information and guess, and the information assembled doesn't paint a picture of a major contributor.
However, it is just a guess, and Michigan's long, inglorious history at safety is significantly crappier than, say, Wisconsin's. Or Iowa's. Or a whole section of Big Ten teams that put out good defenses with guys you've never even heard of. So maybe Rodriguez and company found a guy who can be Tyler jimmer-jammin' Sash. It's possible. McCarthy, an extremely successful college safety from Mooney, was a meh 5.5 three star to Rivals. These things are not stone.
Why Brandent Englemon? Small two-star safety who had poor other offers and average athleticism. Englemon is sort of a default comparison. And it should be noted that Englemon's presence in the program was a positive. He was an off-and-on starter.
Guru Reliability: High. Cardinal Mooney never lacks for attention and this year they had a big time running back in Braylon Heard, who ended up going to Nebraska, so Vinopal was thoroughly scouted. He was healthy throughout high school, too.
General Excitement Level: Low. If there's ever going to be a low, it's got to be a guy with Vinopal's offers and rankings.
Projection: Well. If Vinopal is ready he will play from day one. I don't think anyone expects that to happen since everyone on the roster will have more experience or better rankings. A redshirt seems likely and then a couple years of special teams time, at which point he'll have an opportunity to start as an upperclassman if he develops.
While North Carolina isn't quite the Goliath they have been in the past, Michigan did have to go into Chapel Hill and face the #12 team in the nation with what's been a suspect offense at best. It didn't turn out all that well. Michigan was swept on the weekend, losing two extremely close games on Friday and Saturday, and was blown out on Sunday to fall to 4-7 on the season.
Starting pitching on Saturday and Sunday just wasn't good enough to compete with the Tarheels, but there was some life shown by the offense.
Full Recaps and Series Thoughts after the jump
(photo to right from minervacat's photo stream)
I remember when this guy was not just a photoshop creation but a
representation of the state of the athletic programs.
At this time it may be appropriate to purchase flowers. As it tends to do, getting obliterated by Michigan State has caused no end of soul-searching about the basketball program. Example: Genuinely Sarcastic is moved to write something featuring a Dire Straits song.
I don't know. I started fast-forwarding after about ten minutes and turned the thing off entirely once Michigan ended up down 34-14, invoking a personal rule from back in the Amaker days where any game that Michigan was 20 points down was no longer something I had to pay attention to. I wasn't exactly surprised. I know why people are leaping off e-buildings in the aftermath, but that seems like a willful lack of attention paid to results to date.
Now: since this is the 2009-10 season and we are talking about a team in maize and blue, evaluating the "when can we fire this guy?" question is inevitable. Proof: some idiot on the Rivals hockey board even asked it about Red. With Beilein, I don't think he can or should be axed any time in the next two years and that a sixth year is likely almost irrespective of Michigan's performance on the court.
However, I also don't have a lot of hope that things will change for the better. This year, exactly zero players showed any improvement as Michigan backslid. The offense looked positively Amakerian for much of the year. Aimless passing around the perimeter was a major feature. Outside of a game roleplayer in Zack Novak and a possibly useful point guard (albeit one who can't shoot) in Darius Morris, Beilein's first two recruiting classes look like anchors:
- The post recruits are basically Justin Turner minus the recruiting hype: how terrible do you have to be to 1) be a post and 2) get zero minutes on a team with two guys taller than 6'5"?
- Matt Vogrich was 5/5 from three against D-II Northern Michigan and then looked like a slightly larger version of Reed Baker the rest of the year.
- Laval Lucas Perry was on the bench behind…
- …Stu Douglass, who had an eFG of 42.7 and an offensive rating of 93.9 with a 15% usage rate. If Stu Douglass was a team, he would be Southern, a 5-25 SWAC team with the same overall eFG%. And those guys have to average 20% usage. In non-tempo-free numbers: made a third of his twos and 30 percent of his threes.
It's really hard to see how this team gets better next year with or without Manny unless Evan Smotrycz is Dirk Nowitzki. I am writing this right now and I think that's irrational because Michigan will return everyone other than Sims and will finally have enough size to play a proper 1-3-1 and etc etc, but if zero players on the team improved from year one to year two, why will they improve next year? Players are supposed to have their biggest leaps between their freshman and sophomore years, and Michigan's sophomores went backwards.
Votin'. I don't know if a Facebook page attempting to get Brandon Graham on the cover of NCAA Football 11 is going to overcome the fact that Graham didn't play in a bowl, but they make weird choices sometimes and it can't hurt. I bet a dollar it's Tebow.
Talkin'. I presented a talk called 'Building the World's Most Popular College Football Blog"—which, excluding large corporate conglomerations like Fanhouse, is troof—at Ignite 3 on Thursday. The title's sort of misleading, as they often are when you come up with them before coming up with what you're going to say. It's more about what I think is a generally applicable approach to becoming the head of your own nation of racist dwarves no matter what the topic area is.
Please excuse the various ums and ahs, as I didn't get to practice as much as I wanted, and the shirt I didn't realize could have been in the "Evenflow" video until a local wag brought it up. I didn't wear totally awesome cargo shorts, at least.
I'm the first guy in the second half, but you'll have to skip to 1:20 for the part that is not the emcee.
Everyone moves. The NHL trade deadline was devoid of blockbusters but ridiculously heavy on Michigan movement:
Anaheim: traded G Justin Pogge and Boston's fourth-round pick in the 2010 or 2011 draft (previously acquired) to Carolina Hurricanes for D Aaron Ward.
Colorado: traded LW Wojtek Wolski to Phoenix Coyotes for RW Peter Mueller and C Kevin Porter. …
Columbus: traded D Mathieu Roy to Florida Panthers for C Matt Rust. Traded LW Alexandre Picard to Phoenix Coyotes for C Chad Kolarik.
Montreal: traded RW Matt D'Agostini to St. Louis Blues for RW Aaron Palushaj.
Add in Steve Kampfer getting sent to the Bruins for a fourth-round pick—totally weird trade since Kampfer was a fourth-rounder—and that's six Michigan products moving teams in two days. Los Angeles, unsurprisingly, didn't pick any of them up.
Well, okay. I spent a large chunk of the last offseason blasting anyone who dropped Rich Rodriguez on a "hot seat" list as he entered year two. Even a crappy, bowl-free season would not result in Rodriguez's termination, and that has proved to be the case. Now, though, Rodriguez is. No protests when Tom Dienhart and that coaches hot seat whatever throw him on the list.
(One item of protest: throwing Ralph Friedgen in the "inferno" section is pointless when Maryland is already planning a transition to its offensive coordinator.)
Default Big Ten expansion talk. Gary Pinkel interviewed by a few locals, topic inevitably comes up, Pinkel responds with the usual:
one of the really big problems with this league is the TV contract. Two areas of the TV contract, really. First of all, the TV contract itself. In the next five years, per year Illinois will get about $12 million more (from the Big Ten’s TV contract) for their athletic budget. Multiply that by four years for the four years we have left in our contract. So, the University of Illinois is getting $48 million more. That’s hard to understand. I think it’s about $14 million more in the Southeastern Conference. It’s hard to explain that to anybody.
Another issue we have in this league is you look at the SEC and the Big Ten, and they have revenue-sharing. They understand you’re as strong as your weakest link and that the strength of your league is important. So, you share TV revenue. Even though we’ve been on the upper side of that ourselves, it’s not the right thing, in my opinion, for the Big 12. So, there’s some issues here. Those things are out there, and that’s kind of disappointing. Other than that, they’re not going to let me make decisions anyway.
It can be a great league, but there are things financially that are absurd. I can’t even explain it.
That's not much different from the president of the university or the governor's take; Missouri is going to make noise until such point as they cannot make noise because the Big Ten picked someone else or don't have to because it picked them.