The November 20, 2010 game between Penn State and Indiana will switch locations from Indiana's campus in Bloomington, Indiana to [The Stadium Formerly Known As Jack Kent Cooke] in Landover, Maryland. [TSFKAJKC] is home of the NFL's Washington Redskins.
The stadium in question is about four hours from State College. It's eleven hours from Bloomington. Indiana just sold a home game for three million dollars. And Penn State got one for free.
This sort of thing has a long tradition in college football—Michigan State didn't play a home game in their series against Michigan until 1948 and didn't start equitable home and homes until a decade later—but died out at about the same time segregation did. And nobody wants to bring that back, hmmmm? [/sportstalkradio argument]
Let's stipulate that schools have the right to do whatever they want with their nonconference schedules. The effect on the rest of the conference is minimal there, mostly limited to "you scheduled who and they did what to you?" Feel free to insert your favorite recent humiliation there: The Horror, Iowa State, USC, Louisiana Tech, etc.
Once we start talking about conference schedules, though, people have a right to bitch. Every team is playing for a conference championship. The schedules need to be as equitable as possible. Yes, playing eight games against ten opponents naturally inserts some wobble in average schedule difficulty. Creating protected rivalries enhances that. (Would you rather be Michigan State (Penn State and
Ohio State Michigan [ed: whoops lol] every year) or Purdue (Northwestern and Indiana).) But in both cases everyone has agreed to the potential imbalance and decided that the alternative—years without The Game or I-AA snackycakes—is worse.
Not so with Indiana's decision to sell a home game, which benefits exactly one team, has been approved by no one, and compromises the integrity of the league schedule. It also sets a dangerous precedent. No Big Ten team has been so craven since balanced schedules became commonplace. A rundown:
- Michigan State, Penn State, Iowa, and Minnesota have never scheduled a neutral site conference game.
- A few teams did so back in the stone age but not since. Michigan hasn't played a neutral site conference game since they lost to Northwestern 2-3 in 1925, and that was in Chicago. Illinois played home games against Ohio State in Cleveland in 1944 and 1942. Purdue did the same in 1943.
- A few teams have moved games to neutral sites without giving up at least the appearance of a home game. Indiana played a neutral site game against Penn State in 2000 and against Illinois in 1984, both in Indianapolis. (They did sell a home game to Northwestern, also in 1925. Northwestern won 25-0, their only win of the season.) Ohio State moved a 1991 home game against Northwestern to Cleveland. Northwestern has a fair number of games listed as "@ Chicago, IL," which Evanston is basically a part of.
- Aaaand there's one bizarre outlier I didn't remember: Wisconsin gave up a home game to play Michigan State in Tokyo in 1993.
That's it. No modern-era Big Ten team has ever agreed to move a conference game to a location almost three times closer to the road team than the "home" team. No one has ever moved a conference game out of state with the freakish exception of that Tokyo game. Even that game was a decidedly neutral site, which TSFKAJKC will most definitely not be in 2010.
The Big Ten should shoot this down, and do it soon. This is the I-A equivalent of forfeiting a conference game so you can get paid by Michigan. Insert some bylaw that says any attempt to move a conference home game out of state or to a point that's closer to the nominal road team than the home team must be approved by the league first, and look very sternly at the Indiana administration when you do.
So one of the cool things about engulfing Varsity Blue is absorbing their technical know-how, and one of the products of this process are eggs. I mean podcasts. Forget I said anything about eggs, which I have definitely not implanted into your necks.
Anyway: MGoBlog plans a weekly podcast this fall and possibly into the spring. Our first show is now. Tim and I talked with Matt Hinton, AKA Doctor Saturday, nee Sunday Morning Quarterback, about Michigan's upcoming season, the Big Ten landscape, and then Tim and I just talk to each other about how skeptical we are about Obi Ezeh. Be sure to count the times I try to talk over Matt like a n00b.
The show checks in at around 30 minutes. We're looking for show and guest ideas in the comments or the ol' inbox; next week we'll talk with Ball State blog Over The Pylon about Western Michigan and probably the Cardinals' addiction to former Lloyd Carr assistants. I mean, I'm guessing it will come up, right?
Brian - I had two questions:
1) Come opening day, do you think the fans will boo Sheridan if and when he walks onto the field (assuming the game close)? Also, do you think RR will take this into account in his decision when allocating playing time among the QBs?
The second question is much easier to answer: no, Rodriguez isn't taking the opinion of random fans just asking for an empty water bottle to zing over their heads into account. If he is we have bigger problems than the potential a walk-on starts this year. As far as whether a hypothetical Nick Sheridan start will cause boos to rain down… I don't know. I wish I could dismiss that out of hand but after last year I can't. I don't think it would happen right away, but if Sheridan starts and they go three-and-out a few times Michigan Stadium will be 100% discontent and 30-40% booing vociferously.
However, I still think that's highly unlikely and made more so by the recent burst of Denard Robinson hype that sees folks tagging posts "not denard" when they aren't about Denard.
2) I'm not sure if this has been talked about in the blog at all but is there any concern that RR doesn't have much of a coaching tree underneath him despite being a HC for a decent amount of time? Meaning, is he just surrounding himself with friends who will remain loyal rather than talented coaches that aspire to move up the coaching ladder and can get the best out of their players. I say this because of the "fundamentals" issue you had with the Purdue UFR from last year when our corners were opening their hips towards the sidelines and basically giving up 15 yards at a clip when you mentioned that they were "coached" to do this.
I don't think Rodriguez has had much of an opportunity to grow a coaching tree. He spent seven years at West Virginia but the bulk of that time WVU was not the sort of power program that has its assistants picked off. Even when it was people were understandably waiting to see whether the spread 'n' shred was just a flash in the pan. There were only a couple years in which members of Rodriguez's staff were seriously considered for jobs. At that point Butch Jones did land the Central Michigan job. And I guess Bill Stewart is technically another branch, if one likely to be short-lived.
The circumstances conspired against Rodriguez: his teams ran an exotic base defense headed by a guy who liked West Virginia so much he stayed there when Rodriguez left. Calvin Magee is an offensive coordinator under a head coach who is widely known as an offensive innovator and playcaller. Also, he's only been an offensive coordinator for four years. If he got hired during his tenure at West Virginia whoever picked him up would be taking a huge chance on a guy without much of a track record.
Usually coaching trees sprout up from coaches in the midst of long tenures at power programs; Rodriguez will probably have one at some point. Just not yet.
I am FINALLY getting to travel up (yes I live in the horrible state below Michigan) for a game (the Indiana game to be exact) and I am wondering if you could give me any help on where would be my best bet for parking and/or what to expect in general. I have waited over 20 years to make it to a game at the Big House and instead of being completely stoked now I'm busy concerning myself with parking, the trip, etc. Any help you can offer would be extremely appreciated. I've googled it and found out that all the parking lots near the stadium are permit parking only so I'm just trying to figure out where my best option is.
I'm not the best person to ask because I just go to the same place I always go, but whenever I go on the road I find the best idea is to just suck it up and give someone some money. You'll find that every lawn within a mile of the stadium will allow you to park on it for a nominal fee, and usually this will provide ample tailgating space for your needs. If you're just a small group and don't mind shelling out $40, the golf course is widely regarded as one of the nicest tailgating spaces in the Big Ten.
Head to the stadium an hour before the game to catch the warmups and band; you can bring in bottled water; you are advised to hit the bathroom beforehand.
As for postgame activities: there's not much close to the stadium. If you've got your car somewhere you can leave it your best bet is to walk to main street and head north, whereupon you will strike the restaurant/bar heart of Ann Arbor. Suggestions: Prickly Pear and Middle Kingdom, which are just north of William. If you go to Prickly Pear be advised that though buffalo meat sounds like a good idea, it's not. If you're staying overnight go to Angelo's in the morning and get something with hollandaise on it.
A note on ads. Unfortunately, the ads on the sidebar are items I don't have a lot of control over. If I did I'd axe the increasingly booby Evony ads for a multitude of reasons. One is that the site is run by a Chinese gold farming company and does malware things to your computer. Don't click the Evony ads.
A note on diaries. We're pretty lax around here about the quality required to start a thread on the message board once you get to the magic 20 points. Diaries have no such restrictions because a lot of people who have never posted email me stuff that I say they should post as a diary, and that content is usually very good. The tradeoff is that some low-quality stuff ends up there. As the season kicks off and diary frequency increases, low quality ones will get bumped off the front page or deleted wholesale. FWIW. Note that any diary complaining about the fact that people around here don't like you is by definition low quality.
Photos! Paul took bunch of media day photos. Enjoy:
Fred Jackson watches a lot of ESPN. Yesterday this space noted Fred Jackson's tendency to say Player X is the MOST EVER SOMETHING when he followed up his McGuffie most evers with some directed at Denard Robinson*, noting that when someone is always going for the superlative it reduces the high. Ask Don Gately.
But Fred Jackson isn't done:
Jackson said he never has had a speedier group of tailbacks while at Michigan, and he never has had a more physical back than senior Brandon Minor. … "I've coached a lot of tough guys, but I'm going to say right now, (Minor's) probably the toughest back I've ever coached physically," Jackson said.
Fred Jackson uses the most mosts of anyone I've ever read a lot of quotes from, and I've been doing this for years. He would be outstanding on one of those shows where wizened old sports columnists yell inanities at each other.
This is the part where I talk about the content of the article but does it need to be said that Fred Jackson has nigh ludicrous praise for his charges?
"In this group right here, if you miss Carlos Brown on the 1-yard line, he'll go 99 yards; if you miss Shaw, he'll get it around the 20," Jackson said, trying to explain how to gauge their speed. "If you miss Vince, he'll get up to the other team's 40."
I would have pegged Shaw to get a bit farther, but maybe there are still lingering hernia effects.
(BONUS: Is Jackson imbibing blog terminology?
Jackson said he has a "play-selection type thing in my mind" and said specific backs will be used in certain situations.
*(Weird flow of information note: apparently Media Day was the official start time for Denard Robinson shoelace mania, despite the fact that people have known about this thing since he was an uncommitted recruit. All I want to know is "how do the shoes stay on?")
HA! Awwwww, hamburgers. Quick, enjoy a brief moment of schadenfreude that Comcast is having a nasty carriage fight with DirectTV over the status of Versus. DirectTV is talking tough about dropping it. Now stop as you remember where Stanford 24, USC 23 was broadcast. (Also hockey, Tour de France, and uh… rodeo?). Anything that removes the possibility you'll be able to see a ridiculous upset is bad, even if that ridiculous upset is broadcast by evil.
These things always sound worse than they are, though. Before the Big Ten Network came to an agreement with Comcast the two sides' rhetoric could have been confused with Ohio State fans talking about that guy who hit Tyler Moeller. It might not be so grim underneath the posturing.
Etc.: I have some quibbles with Wojo's latest—Rodriguez didn't exactly "drive away" Mallett or Mitchell or Ciulla—but it's a fair assessment of where Michigan stands and accurately diagnoses the subtext of "All In For Michigan." He's the Detroit area's best columnist. Also, FA interviews baseball/volleyball SID Matt Fancett for anyone interested in the PR side of things.
A pretty light week as most high school prospects are focusing on preparation for their senior season, rather than recruiting. Once official visits start rolling, it should get interesting again. All updates can be seen on the 2010 Recruiting Board.
Your Weekly Semi-Creepy Devin Gardner Update - Now with Co(r?)nelius Jones!
Fluff on MI QB Commit Devin Gardner. It's nothing you've never heard before, if you're more inclined to not click Free Press links.
Inkster has eight road games and three brutal trips to Ohio to play against Cleveland St. Edward, St. Ignatius and Steubenville High -- all powers.
With no home games and needing to win five games just to make the playoffs, Gardner's situation is different from any top-flight quarterback in the state.
I've yet to figure out why the Vikings have no home games. There's a pretty good photo gallery by the Free Press, as well. There was video floating around the interwebs of Gardner's performance at a scrimmage last week, but it appears to have been taken down.
Rivals AMP caught up with QB Commit Cornelius Jones. They're currently not allowing embedding of said video, but Jones says he's 100% solid with Michigan. He's open to switching positions once he gets to Ann Arbor, but will come in as a quarterback. Jones's high school season began on Friday, and you can see how it went in this week's Friday Night Lights feature.
By the way - there's still some confusion about whether Jones's first name is "Cornelius" or "Conelius" (no 'r'). Alas, I've been unable to definitively clear that issue up, so I'll continue with option A until it can be settled once and for all.
Officially Visitin' (Or Not)
Hopefully once the season gets underway, I'll be able to devote an entire section of each recruiting post to that week's docket of visitors. For now:
OH TE Alex Smith has started talking about his favorites, despite being "committed" to Cincinnati. I think at this time it's fair to say he's no longer a commit to the Bearcats, they just lead for him. Wisconsin and UNC are atop his list behind Cincy, with Kentucky shortly behind. Smith's only scheduled official visit thus far is to Wisconsin for the season opener, and a Michigan visit no longer sounds like a lock.
WI P Will Hagerup had named his official visit to Michigan for the Western game on September 5, those plans are changing. He'll now head to Ann Arbor for the Indiana game on September 26th. This will be his last official visit before deciding, which is a minor boost to Michigan's chances.
Michigan will get an official visit from VA LB Aramide Olaniyan, currently a Duke commit ($, info in header). He's taking all five visits, so the Wolverines may have a chance to pry him away with Duke if they really want him.
Though there was talk about who would be getting Sharrif Floyd's official visits in the last update, he intends to change his plans for those visits ($, info in header). Since Michigan was not under consideration in the previous list, any chage is good for the Wolverines. No word on whether they're in his newly-adjusted plans.
Scouting Reports? Scouting Reports
Rivals covered a couple scrimmages, and talks about a couple M prospects of note:
S- Latwan Anderson- Glenville- After turning in a great performance vs. Elyria Catholic from the safety spot, Anderson put on a show at wide receiver against Cardinal Mooney. He made a spectacular catch above his head along the sideline against Braylon Heard. He also made a circus one-handed catch out of bounds that drew loud applause from the crowd. At safety, he forced a fumble at the goal line on Braylon Heard.
WR- D.J. Williamson (Michigan commit)- Warren Harding- Speed will never be an issue with Williamson, he can really glide on the football field. He is still growing into a natural receiver, but should really benefit from having a solid passing quarterback take over at Harding, transfer Jordan Miller. Williamson also played some cornerback, and showed good ability to break on the football.
Williamson sounds like a potential sleeper; you can't teach speed. Ohio HS Sports.com also took a look at a few players, including WR Jerald Robinson:
Jerald Robinson, WR/DB , Canton South -- Michigan commit is always a big-play threat and also had 7 interceptions last year. His three-year QB has graduated and he'll face double and triple teams, but he'll still produce.
So, hooray for that, I guess. A lot more preview-type stuff on Michigan commits in Friday Night Lights.
OH S/WR Bobby Swigert has narrowed to a list of four suitors: M, Stanford, Nebraska, and BC.
If things go as planned, Cullen Christian may end up as the "Guy Everyone Took For Granted And Aren't Excited When He Commits" for the class of 2010. He's still saying good thing about Michigan, and will play multiple positions for Penn Hills this season:
"Michigan is No. 1, but I probably won't make my decision until sometime during the season. I don't know how close I am to pulling the trigger...
Teams didn't throw the ball to my side much last year. At safety, I can make plays."
He is taking official visits to UCLA, WVU, and Maryland in the first month of the football season. I would presume one more official visit, then hopefully a commitment to Michigan when he takes his final visit to Ann Arbor.
FL CB Tony Grimes has narrowed to a top 3 of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Ole Miss. He does not plan to make a final decision until Signing Day.
CA WR Kenny Stills is still nominally considering Michigan. I wouldn't get your hopes up, though he may be taking an official visit. OH DE Derrick Bryant once favored Michigan, but now it appears as though he doesn't want to play in the Big Ten ($, info in header). He currently favors UCLA, Oregon, Kentucky, and North Carolina. MD OL Arie Kouandjio has named 8 schools on top of his recruitment, and Michigan isn't among them. He's bumped down to a Nefarious Eduardo, and is soon to be removed. Removed FL CB Eric Mitchell, who committed to Ole Miss.
In the unorganized morass that is my non-Thunderbird inbox there is one email labeled “URGENT!” by its sender and it points to this article, specifically the headline:
Wolverines plan to play 3 QBs in opener, coach Rich Rodriguez says
Though this has since been changed to "Michigan Eyes Quarterback Shuffle" without any mention of the previous 50-point bowel-destroyer—as is the wont of media organizations whose OMG HITS editors go too far with their provocative headlines, see "Win at All Costs" and Detroit Free Press—you can see the remnants of the original in the title tag. (Unless this, too, has been altered without notice by the time you read this.)
Though Rodriguez dismisses the "if you've got two, you've got none" axiom about binary quarterbacks—ie, the only valid digits are 0 and 1—surely if you've got three you've got none. And that goes double when one of the three completed 16 of 49 in the last two games of last season and looks like Billy Bob Thornton just got done cutting his hair in The Man Who Wasn't There.
Doctor Saturday, however, points out that the headline does not match the quote in the article:
beware the extreeeeemely misleading headline hitting all the wires Sunday that suggests Rich Rodriguez may rotate three quarterbacks in the Wolverines' opener against Western Michigan. That header is based on a teasing throwaway line -- "Maybe we’ll have three starting quarterbacks," Rodriguez said. "That would be neat." -- from the bottom of an obligatory media day story whose first 23 paragraphs focus exclusively on freshman's Denard Robinson's totally quirky habit of playing with his shoelaces untied.
Rodriguez's statements, in fact, have a distinct air of noncommittal football coachspeak (which obviously):
"Until we play a game and see how they perform under game conditions we won’t know for sure if anybody solidifies the starting role," Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez declined to identify a frontrunner. Asked if he's seen separation from the three candidates, he said, "Some days, and some days I don't."
And the most recent post on this blog contains a full-fledged debunk from Tim Sullivan on the matter:
The "all 3 QBs will take snaps" AP article floating around is really disingenuous. The only time Rodriguez mentioned such a thing was a joke that all 3 would play at the same time. While it wouldn't surprise me if all three guys took some snaps against Western, this current talk is really much ado about nothing.
Okay, panic averted, especially given the AP guy's previous unreliability* and the half-retracted headline above.
When asked if for the opener, there’s a good chance each of the three quarterbacks (Sheridan, Forcier, Robinson) will take snaps, Rodriguez’s answer was, “Yes. Yeah. In what order and how many (snaps) I couldn’t tell you. Right now all three of them look like they’ll play in the opener.” I gasped.
I pinged Tim again and he recalled that quote as referring to the entire season, but he didn't want to call Greg a liar and neither do I. The totally reliable Angelique Chengelis also has the same quote but adds a disclaimer Greg left out: "Again, it's two weeks out. There is a lot that's going to happen in the next two weeks."
So what we have here is both an object lesson on the multifaceted nature of perception and awareness—yea, verily our lives are not that different from those of the common housefly even if we've evolved away from the compound eye—and what appears to be an admission by Rich Rodriguez that the freshmen are not clearly superior to a guy who was Not Good a year ago.
I still think this is complete horsecrap coachspeak and Nick Sheridan's time as a starter has expired, by the way, but the quote is the quote, unless it's not. Here's another quote, with the bold mine:
"We've gotten it out of some of the young quarterbacks, Denard and Tate (Forcier) and even Nick (Sheridan). Nick has improved his play, and some of the new guys (and) the new freshmen have come on."
"Even our redshirt junior." Compound eyes and all that. Could the official site please start posting full transcripts?
*(Assumption: unnamed AP reporter is Larry Lage since he's the local AP guy who covers Michigan stuff. 1) Lage got on the radio a couple weeks ago and claimed he "did not buy" Michigan's home-and-home with UConn was a real thing because it had only been reported by the UConn Rivals site. At that point it had made it into originally-sourced pieces in Connecticut newspapers, IIRC, and anyway anyone with their ear to the ground couldn't help but have heard from someone who it was. 2) Remember the "Get a life" kerfuffle towards the tail end of last year? It was Lage who sliced a detailed answer from Rodriguez on how he deals with fans into the most unflattering two sentences he could and thereby ignited Yet Another Dumb Media Firestorm. Moral: take AP stuff on Michigan with a grain of salt.)
Meanwhile in Denard Robinson. I am somewhat less certain that Tate Forcier is the once and forever starter than I was on Wednesday when I told a bar full of people "there are no people not named Tate Forcier" but it's not Sheridan that's caused the wobble. It's Denard Robinson, the real focus of the story that started the above hubbub and this year's "you may remember me from such Mountaineers as" target.
QB coach Rod Smith:
Offensive coordinator Calvin Magee said Robinson is bigger than Pat White was when he came to West Virginia as a freshman, and quarterbacks coach Rod Smith said Robinson's speed compares favorably to White's.
“I don’t want to blow him up, but he’s fast," Smith said. "He’s fast. It’s fun to watch because when he breaks through - and I love Pat to death, but I’m not so sure this kid - he’s fast. They’re close."
Indeed, the official site's "Letters from Camp" has a lot of stuff like this:
• Robinson scored on a 58-yard run around the left side of the offensive line.
• Quarterback Denard Robinson had a pair of plays over 40 yards, including a 45-yard TD pass to receiver Greg Mathews in the two minute drill.
• Quarterback Denard Robinson accounted for four touchdowns at practice, scoring a pair of rushing scores and tossing two TD strikes.
• During a third down drill, Robinson escaped from the pocket and had a long 72-yard touchdown run down the right sideline.
• The practice session ended as Robinson tossed a 78-yard touchdown pass to tight end Brandon Moore down the right hash mark.
And Fred Jackson's gotten all McGuffie on him, with bonus sad type of program under Carr quote:
"I promise you this, there ain't nobody in the country who can catch him," Jackson said. "In my 18 years here, I've never seen a kid that fast. Nowhere. And I've seen some fast kids on other teams, (but) I've never seen anybody that fast.
"I mean, it's scary. Every time you miss him in practice, strike the band up, it's a touchdown. He's going to shock a lot of people."
This time last year that hype was going to a kid now at Rice. Jackson might not have been totally wrong—since McGuffie had his moments and if he hadn't gotten his face crushed could have been a change-of-pace back or a slot receiver—but the "I've never seen a kid like this!" gambit doesn't work if you use it every year.
At the very least, Robinson will get a snap or a drive or a package from game one and will be given an opportunity to show whether or not "Denard Robinson is made of dilithium" translates to games.