I did not make this headline up
Last year, Glenn Winston put a hockey player in the hospital, costing him a whole year, and injured a second bystander. Neither victim did anything to provoke the violence, and Winston was fortunate to plea-bargain himself down to a misdemeanor and six months in jail. Mike Rosenberg on that:
Plus, people forget this: Winston was convicted of a misdemeanor. If anything, his sentence (six months in jail) was excessive for a misdemeanor. So I understood why Dantonio reinstated Winston this summer. Yes, it looks awful now. But it made some sense this summer.
"Excessive for a misdemeanor." Rosenberg is downplaying a scary, dangerously violent incident because he doesn't understand that a misdemeanor basically means the jail sentence can't be longer than a year. Six months in jail might be excessive for pot possession. It doesn't seem excessive for endangering someone's playing career.
Remember that Rosenberg wrote an "I'm just sayin'" column after Justin Feagin's situation, citing Rodriguez's decision to recruit linebacker Pat Lazear as evidence Rodriguez doesn't care about the character of his players:
The fact that Rodriguez was recruiting Feagin to West Virginia is telling because Rodriguez took considerable heat for some of his recruiting choices in Morgantown. Most noteworthy: Rodriguez signed linebacker Pat Lazear to a letter of intent even though Lazear had been accused of orchestrating an armed robbery of a Smoothie King store.
"That was a situation that was cleared up before he left high school," Rodriguez said Monday.
Well, that depends on your definition of "cleared up." Lazear pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit robbery. He was sentenced to 10 days in jail and received a 10-year suspended sentence for his part in the robbery. He also was sentenced to 30 days of house arrest and 150 hours of community service. And in a previous incident, Lazear had been found guilty of using a stolen credit card.
I guess you could say his situation was "cleared up."
Lazear has not been in trouble at West Virginia and is on the academic honor roll. That same column cites Feagin's high school coach saying that Feagin hadn't been in trouble there only to dismiss that. Rosenberg's thrust is that Rodriguez should have known better than to recruit Justin Feagin, and should never have gone near a guy with nothing on his record other than a dropped misdemeanor and some traffic tickets. If Rodriguez didn't know Feagin was a bad guy, it was because he didn't care to know. The upshot: Rodriguez is unethical.
Here's a similar conversation in the Winston case:
MARK DANTONIO: Are there any issues with this Winston guy?
MARK DANTONIO: Well, he beat up two innocent people, putting one of them in the hospital.
MARK DANTONIO: What's that? I can't hear you. You must be breaking up.
MARK DANTONIO: We're not talking on a cell phone. I am you. We're having a schizophrenic episode. You're talking to yourself.
MARK DANTONIO: I am very public about my faith!
And yet reinstating this guy "makes some sense." The double standard could not be clearer.
Is there any question that Rosenberg would be calling for Rodriguez's job if 15-20 Michigan players had beaten the hell out of innocent bystanders for the second time in two years? Michigan State has had 20% of its entire team involved in unprovoked violence against other students for two consecutive years.
Rosenberg can couch his eminently reasonable opinion in eminently reasonable columnist terms, but the bias is screaming. Mark Dantonio's got a hell of a jaw and a bible on his desk. He's also in charge of a bunch of thugs, and got a Michigan State student injured and, likely, his university sued. This is enough for Rosenberg to gently suggest that Dantonio might need to get his team under control—oh, really? Meanwhile, Rodriguez correctly judging the character of Pat Lazear and immediately dealing with the Feagin situation is enough for the "win at all costs" headline.
This is the fair and balanced person the Free Press thought they'd have investigate the Michigan football program.
More about this on the message board.
The ACC/Big Ten Challenge has been a one-sided affair in its 10 years of existence, with the Atlantic Coast conference emerging victorious in each of the first 10 years. With the Big Ten poised for a great year throughout the conference, there has been talk that this is the year for the midwesterners to emerge victorious.
The First Decade
|Year||ACC Wins||Big Ten Wins|
* Michigan State v. UVA was cancelled in progress in 2001.
The ACC's fluctuating membership is to blame for the different numbers of games played during different years. Still, that conference came out on top each year, regardless of how many games were played. So, that's how the Big Ten did in the first 10 years of the Challenge, but how did Michigan do?
|1999||@Georgia Tech||W 80-77|
|2000||Wake Forest||L 60-71|
|2003||NC State||W 68-61|
|2004||@Georgia Tech||L 68-99|
|2006||@NC State||L 67-74|
|2007||Boston College||L 64-77|
Before you lament the Wolverines' losing record (3-5) in the event, it's important to note that every single Big Ten team except Michigan State has a losing record in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. In fact, the Wolverines are tied for 3rd-best record in the event among Big Ten teams.
So, is the Big Ten a strong contender to finally break through in 2009? Let's take a look at the matchups (home teams bolded):
|Big Ten Team||ACC Team||Date & TV|
|Penn State||Virginia||Tonight, 7PM, ESPN2|
|Purdue||Wake Forest||Tues, 7PM, ESPN|
|Northwestern||NC State||Tues, 7PM, ESPNU|
|Indiana||Maryland||Tues, 7:30PM, ESPN2|
|Michigan State||North Carolina||Tues, 9PM, ESPN|
|Iowa||Virginia Tech||Tues, 9:30PM, ESPN2|
|Illinois||Clemson||Wed, 7:15PM, ESPN|
|Minnesota||Miami||Wed, 7:15PM, ESPNU|
|Michigan||Boston College||Wed, 7:30PM, ESPN2|
|Wisconsin||Duke||Wed, 9:15PM, ESPN|
|Ohio State||Florida State||Wed, 9:30PM, ESPN2|
Georgia Tech does not play for the ACC this year.
The Big Ten has home-court advantage this year, and strangely, the only two games that won't air on basic cable both take place in ACC arenas.
The ACC and Big Ten have already squared off a few times this year, with North Carolina topping Ohio State and Wisconsin beating Maryland. Things looked a whole lot rosier for the Big Ten prior to the weekend, where Michigan, MInnesota, and Michigan State all suffered unexpected losses. The Only Colors gave the odds for all the games, and it ain't pretty, with only Michigan, Purdue, and Ohio State favored to win. Still, with 11 games left to play, and the Big Ten as strong as ever, there's no reason to give up hope quite yet.
Preview of Michigan's opponent, the Eagles of Boston College, will be coming later in the week.
No, you don't get a pony. This Notre Dame coaching search is going to go exactly like the last three: everyone is going to get all hyped up about a wide variety of downright laughable names and they'll settle for someone not coaching at a power program. Unfortunately, the guy they "settle" for might be Brian Kelly—who ND Nation is hilariously opposed to—since there are exactly zero other major jobs opening up this year and Kelly has no buyout.
But, still, come on people:
Will Bob Stoops be Notre Dame's next head coach?
No. Brian Hanley of the Chicago Sun-Times, I will bet you any amount of money that he will not.
On Nov. 15, the Sun-Times first reported Stoops' interest in the job that will be vacated when Charlie Weis is fired after the Irish's regular-season finale today at Stanford.
The South Bend Tribune, citing a ''university source,'' reported Friday that Stoops is the first choice of ND athletic director Jack Swarbrick.
That goes for you, too, David Haugh of the Tribune. Stoops can be ND's first choice all they want. They won't get him. Is Notre Dame going to pay Weis's huge buyout and somehow raise Stoops's already enormous salary beyond Oklahoma's ability to match it? I mean, look at this contract Stoops just signed:
Football coach Bob Stoops had his contract extended through the 2015 season and will make $3.675 million this coming season. His new contract includes an annual raise of $250,000, a $700,000 stay bonus each July and an additional one-time $800,000 bonus in 2011. If Stoops remains through all seven years, he will make more than $4 million a year in the final five years of the contract and make nearly $5 million in the the 2011 season.
Stoops is second only to Pete Carroll in total compensation and has a six-year contract that makes him virtually impossible to fire. And is Stoops going to be more successful at Notre Dame than he is at a place he's already turned into a national power? You'd have to be a lunatic hung up on the idea that Notre Dame being good 20 years ago is somehow relevant.
Stoops, for the record, has no past connection to Notre Dame, has never described it as his "dream job" and has no apparent reason to leave the lucrative juggernaut he's built in Norman for a gig that's eventually swallowed up three straight coaches with winning records and January bowl games on their resumés.
By my count, Stoops has only publicly denied his interest in ND twice so far -- only eight or nine denials short of Urban Meyer's tally, meaning Stoops will remain in the mix for no good reason for at least another week before Cincinnati's Brian Kelly emerges as the clear frontrunner.
Stoops taking less money—not necessarily a cut, but you have to believe Oklahoma will have the wherewithal to match or better any ND offer—to move from a national power to a program that hasn't contended for a title in over 15 years would be, to say the least, unprecedented.
Teams farther to the right are more effective passing the ball. Teams towards the top pass more. The line is a simple linear regression. The graph takes sacks into account, but not interceptions. This makes Michigan's reticence to throw as much as you might expect given the yardage spread more understandable. I wonder what this would have looked like with David Molk available all year?
Inking David. Here's David Terrell talking about his tattoos:
They hate you! Donovan Warren sort of announced he'd return for his senior season but will apply to the draft, and new cornerback commitment Cullen Christian has a mildly stomach-churning take on that:
Christian said junior Donovan Warren, Michigan's best corner and his host during his official visit last week, spoke of exploring his NFL options this offseason.
"I honestly think that Donovan's going to try to mess around and go to the league," Christian said. "He told me personally he might mess around."
"Mess around" is an odd way to put it, but the upshot: Warren's senior season will hang in the balance until the draft deadline passes. If he gets a second-day grade, he's probably back.
How it went down. Jimmah's black eye, revealed:
Harbaugh. Well… yeah… hopefully this won't be relevant. If Michigan's in the market for a coach in the next few years, though, the #1 topic will be Jim Harbaugh and his stupid, stupid mouth. For what it's worth, Harbaugh's father:
“I think he’s very, very happy at Stanford and Stanford is where he wants it to be,” Jack Harbaugh said. “But I would say this that still Michigan is the place that he loves, the place that for him was his foundation. It’s where, the five years he spent there, his education there at Michigan and his associations with Bo and the other coaches on the staff, that’s the place that he will always call home.”
I'm willing to forgive and forget, should it come to that.
Showcase seeya. Last weekend's College Hockey Showcase is the last one that Michigan will host. Next year's edition will be the last, period. However, this is not the end of Michigan's series against Minnesota and Wisconsin. In fact, there appears to be some sort of official(?) Big Ten conference-type substance on the horizon, as was suggested by Lake State's coach before the season started:
"We have one more year after this and that's it,'' MSU coach Rick Comley said. "I think it's run it's course. Wisconsin did not want to extend the Showcase. They want to get Ohio State involved and they prefer a Big Ten Conference.'' …
"My preference would be to play (Minnesota and Wisconsin) twice (each season),'' said Comley, who is not in favor of a Big Ten league at this point. "I think we could declare a Big Ten champion. It would require a reduced number of CCHA games, which I'm in favor of.''
If that comes about, good. The Showcase has always been a missed opportunity. I've hardly ever attended it because of Thanksgiving, and having virtually no student section for two of the biggest games of the year always struck me as dumb. More games against Minnesota and Wisconsin at less inconvenient times = win. Moving OSU-Michigan to the Saturday after Thanksgiving, on the other hand, is a personal disaster.
The most logical way to make an unofficial Big Ten conference would be to drop WCHA/CCHA conference schedules down to 22/20 games—enough to play everyone twice—and use the extra six games for the Big Ten. Michigan would play 20 games in the (hypothetically 11-team) CCHA, 10 against Big Ten opponents (MSU/OSU games would be either Big Ten or CCHA, not both), the GLI, and get two random nonconference games. That would be it except in years in which Michigan goes to Alaska, when they'd have an opportunity to play another two games. Maybe that's too steep a cost in nonconference scheduling. The other option is to not play Michigan State or Ohio State four times and just count those games in both sets of standings, but that would cut out two games against State every year, something that no one wants.
Gladwell bits. So last week I referenced Malcolm Gladwell's disappointing ad hominem directed at a critic of his recent book and, by proxy, a few well-meaning bloggers. Along the way I mentioned David Berri, the doctor of economics who's the best argument going for meathead anti-statheads who want to dismiss the whole enterprise of refining the statistics meathead anti-statheads use constantly.
I bring it up again because—surprise—a bunch of serious sport statisticians have taken a look at Berri's latest work and found it full of holes. By age 24, QB playing time is largely based on performance. Though there is some preference for highly-drafted quarterbacks, it's small relative to performance. I'll let Pro Football Reference provide the requisite sarcasm:
What is clear to me, though, is that performance matters. A lot. I know this is a shocking finding in a performance driven business like the NFL.
Also a shocking finding: David Berri has vastly overstated his case in an effort to get attention. This is catnip for someone like Gladwell who loves pointing out "Outliers" or "The Tipping Point." Sports statistics would be far better off if Berri took an interest in misrepresenting crocheting, and if Gladwell would accept the idea that sometimes people paid huge amounts of money to determine something aren't totally wrong.
(HT: Football Outsiders.)
Etc.: I like Clay Travis, really I do, but his take on the Rodriguez situation—the thesis is Michigan should manipulate the NCAA investigation so that it results in major sanctions, allowing them to fire Rodriguez—is literally the dumbest thing I have ever read about Michigan. Gregg Doyel just wrote something! Drew Sharp exists! This is a meaningful statement! I leave the destruction to Braves & Birds.
In Belichick-related stuffs: John Harbaugh went for a fourth and five with his team trailing that both announcers thought was a must-punt situation, got it, and won the game. Sometimes the right call works out, eh?
Doctor Saturday surveys the latest ham-handed attempt by the BCS to convince you that the BCS isn't stupid. It is amazing how tone-deaf public relations firms are.
A few days ago, Chris Brown of Smart Football posted an anonymous high school coach's negative opinion on Charlie Weis's recruiting mojo. It's interesting, if slightly preposterous from the Michigan fan's perspective. Weis spent his first three recruiting classes punching Lloyd Carr in the face, beating Michigan for large sections of his team en route to racking up the highly-rated recruiting classes that had Notre Dame fans making giddy little charts about how much they would own once the stench of Willingham passed.
When Rodriguez came in, Michigan's recruiting moved away from Weis's in geographical, cultural, and tiny-bastard terms, but what head-to-head battles did go down were still slanted in Notre Dame's favor. This year, Michigan lost out on cornerbacks Lo Wood—once a heavy Michigan lean—and Spencer Boyd. There were no other head-to-head battles. Last year Michigan managed to pick up OT Michael Schofield, but a variety of other recruiting battles went Notre Dame's way. Weis consistently recruited out of all proportion to his achievements.
So this seems a little funky…
Notre Dame has officially offered one of my linebackers, but no one from Notre Dame has ever spoken to the kid nor has anyone from Notre Dame ever returned any of my calls. …. Geewhiz Charlie, that’s not exactly the way to get a kid to choose ND over other BCS schools — and then you offer him blind without so much as making contact with any coach? No. That’s not the way to go about the business.
…and then Rich Rodriguez gets thrown in at the end…
Ohio State, Alabama, Virginia Tech, and others all recruit about the same way as Cincinnati. Pittsburgh, West Virginia, Michigan . . . they recruit like Notre Dame.
…and everybody gets ornery.
I don't know about the interpersonal relationships Rich Rodriguez has with every coach from sea to shining sea. I do know that Rodriguez reeled in a class that was nearly top five after his first year at Michigan and a number of parents from that class have taken to the internets to defend the beleaguered coach from accusations that he makes his players work too hard. I also know that Rodriguez and company fired off a thousand "offers" this spring, and those offers may or may not mean anything.
These things are in the eye of the beholder. I'm guessing the coaches at Trotwood-Madison and Chaparral don't share that opinion. And I know "Coach Ox," the Louisiana high school coach who emailed the blog in the aftermath of Carvin Johnson's commitment to tell us that we had a good player on our hands, sent another email about Rodriguez, unprompted. Here it is:
My feelings for RRod are exactly the same as Carvin's coach said on Rivals - if you are a real high school coach (i.e. you know football) from a real program (i.e. you coach players who will go on to college) and you need help or anything, RRod will bend over backwards for you. Not everybody likes HOW he coaches, but he loves coaches who coach HOW he does.
And here's Carvin Johnson's coach from that Rivals thread Ox references:
The thing I like most about him is him as a person. When other coaches and myself made the trips to WVU in the past to see them practice, etc. he treated everyone of us with nothing but respect. This is rare in big time college football.
So… some coaches like other coaches, and some don't. It's about the numbers. I wouldn't take an anecdotal aside too seriously. Michigan pays attention to the players they are seriously interested in, and offers a bunch more beside. The results were fine when Michigan wasn't dealing with the aftermath of a 3-9 season and a whole lot else besides.
|Last week's ballot|
Hastily compiled for the second week in a row, so be constructive with your feedback.
Florida finally beat the hell out of somebody, which had been holding them back with a schedule comparable to the others around them. That (annoyingly) sets up a 1v2 battle in the SEC championship game.
Everything else is pretty straightforward. Penn State and Oklahoma State are basically the same, resume-wise, having lost convincingly to their toughest opposition, but Oklahoma State also dropped a game to Houston, dropping them more.
The end of the poll is muddled as always, so help me out down there.
Marquette 79, Michigan 65
Alabama 68, Michigan 66
Michigan (3-2, 0-0)
Michigan fans hoping to lean on the success of the basketball team to fill the void left by a subpar football season might have to re-think things. The Wolverines, favored to win the Old Spice Classic, went just 1-2 in the event, falling to Marquette and Alabama after beating Creighton in round 1. Time for everyone to adjust some expectations.
When the 3-point shots aren't falling, this team is going to have some difficulty beating teams with comparable talent. Even when Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims both have decent performances, a third player will have to step up with a good game in support. Against Alabama, it looked like Manny was the only one who had any interest in winning the game. Though they may not have the talent of this year's players, CJ Lee and David Merritt were able to pull the team up by its bootstraps and gut out some wins. Somebody needs to step up for this Michigan team and fill a much-needed leadership role.
Of course, this is basketball, not football. Simply losing a couple games isn't going to mean that the Wolverines are removed from national contention. However, it's a pain to see such glaring weaknesses exposed this early in the season. John Beilein is known as one of the best coaches in America for a reason, and he should be able to help the team bounce back. Hopefully, that can come sooner rather than later, since Boston College definitely won't be an easy out on Wednesday.
- Darius Morris really seemed to struggle in the past two games. Hopefully, he can learn quickly how to adapt to the mental requirements of this level of basketball. Playing LLP more at the 1 and easing Morris in a bit might help... except for the fact the 2-guard has no depth. Stu Douglass can shoot the hell out of the ball, but Marquette exposed his lack of quickness on Friday.
- Anthony Wright continued to show why he shouldn't get as much playing time as he does. Every time he gets the ball, he wants to shoot. Most of those times, he misses.
- DeShawn Sims is lacking consistency at this point in the year, but he shows flashes of why he has potential to break out and become a major NBA prospect. I don't think much more needs to be said about what the other superstar, Manny Harris, means to this team.
- The free throw shooting wasn't particularly bad against 'Bama, but it was a horrorshow earlier in the weekend. Michigan was a great free throw shooting team last year, so hopefully this is just a speed bump that the team can get through.
- Not a ton of bench players, beyond Douglass, Gibson, and Wright (grumble grumble) got much playing time. Even Matt Vogrich only got a few minutes in the last two games. Michigan's bench needs to be able to bring out a couple contributors if this team is going to have any success.
- On that note, Michigan was pretty bad last year coming of short rest. Part of that was likely due to lack of depth. Hopefully, the weak efforts against Marquette and Alabama were partially related to a lack of game shape, with no practice time in between to recover. That would give Michigan much more upside.
Michigan will take on Boston College on Wednesday in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Previews of the Challenge and the Eagles coming up later this week.