Well, damn. BREAKING NEWS(!!!): Brian Kelly is indeed the guy at Notre Dame. Notre Dame fans of the insane variety are hilariously opposed to the move on the grounds that Kelly isn't Bob Stoops, Bill Belichick, or one of the ND Nation moderators; everyone else is terrified that Notre Dame has now acquired a coach with a track record of doing anything at all.
This is probably going to go poorly. Kelly is the most competent coach Notre Dame has hired since Holtz and at the very least should turn Weis's excellent recruiting classes into a genuinely good team in short order. Smart Football says so.
Next year might be meh since his one option at quarterback is going to miss spring practice and large chunks of summer conditioning with an ACL tear, but expecting an implosion similar to the Michigan one is foolhardy: for one he'll have a five-star quarterback throwing to Michael Floyd and plenty of talent on defense if he can get a defensive coordinator to manage it. Something thematically similar to Michigan's 2004 Rose Bowl season might go down. Michigan had to get clutch drives from a freshman quarterback and an onside kick to get to 9-4 that year. A Gator Bowl or something with incredible expectations in 2011 seems the most likely outcome.
This makes the next two years against Notre Dame pivotal for Rich Rodriguez. If Michigan loses to Notre Dame next year against Kelly when he's finally got a quarterback experience edge over someone, anyone, it'll look like a rough year and possibly the end of everything.
There are some minor plusses in the hire: I assume Kelly won't keep Corwin Brown around, which should help Michigan recruit against ND. Also for whatever reason Weis just killed Michigan head-to-head and Kelly can't possibly do better. I've heard conflicting things about what high school coaches in the state think about him, FWIW. I imagine that's something you could say about any coach.
We are so terrible. The basketball… it is not good anymore. I don't really know why, but holy crap:
- Michigan’s defensive rebounding percentage of 60.7% ranks last among all Division 1 major conference teams.
- Michigan’s three point percentage of 28.3% is better than only two major conference teams (Oregon St. and UCLA) yet only two major conference teams (Iowa and Northwestern) shoot more threes than Michigan (3FGA/FGA).
- Michigan is allowing opponents to shoot 52.2% on 2 point field goal attempts, the worst percentage allowed by any major conference program.
Dylan has a few more numbers that look more like Indiana last year than a team with any tourney aspirations. They add up to "ugh."
This season is even worse than what went down in football. Everyone knew this wasn't the #15 team in the country but it shouldn't be a team that will be lucky to make the NIT. (No, seriously. You have to get to .500 and Michigan is going to come out of the nonconference 6-6 unless they beat UConn or Kansas, so then they have to go 9-9 in the Big Ten despite showing no ability to hang with mediocre teams from mid-major-ish conferences.) This is stunning underachievement. And what happens next year when Manny is gone and the only big guys on the roster are Ben Cronin, who may or may not still be broken, Blake McLimans, and Jordan Morgan? Morgan and McLimans are redshirting; Cronin almost literally can't jump.
I know I shouldn't be surprised about anything nasty happening to Michigan sports these days, but seriously… what the hell. There can be no place underachieving expectations across the board like Michigan is these days.
PREWB! Also BREAKING(!!!) is that nine MSU players got tagged with multiple misdemeanor charges based on the video evidence of the frat beat-down. Three more kids ended up suspended, including the other Chris Rucker on the team. Don't recruit guys named Chris Rucker no matter what their middle initial is.
I only mention was seems like a formality because the crack MSU reporters at the Free Press immediately came out with an article arguing that most of the charges would get dropped as various members of the team agree to testify against the ex-members of the team.
Meanwhile, the News gets clarification from Winston's initial victim on what, exactly, happened…
Montgomery, a student at Schoolcraft College, was hanging with friends near the Michigan State campus on Oct. 19, 2008, when Winston approached him and MSU hockey player A.J. Sturges and dropped them both, each with one punch, police said. Montgomery's fractured jaw was wired for six weeks, and Sturges' skull was fractured. …
"I was attacked for no reason. I was not in a fight. I was with a friend, and Glenn Winston came and hit me for no reason at all."
…in a story that has the fantastic lead "Ian Montgomery has an intimate familiarity with Glenn Winston's fist." They also reveal that Jenrette's mysterious redshirt was because of a robbery that happened August 1st of 2008, literally days before Jenrette arrived on Michigan State's campus. Jenrette was already sporting a 2005 offense. Michael Rosenberg's column awaits him.
Again, this is not really about Dantonio, whose public image has taken a hit but will recover in time as long as these things don't keep happening, but the rampant bias at the Free Press that would be funnier every day if it wasn't having a material impact on the local/national perception of Michigan.
Etc.: WVU fans, prompted by bubble pipe professor Matt Zemek's assertion that he'd rather have "integrity and humanity" in the form of Bill Stewart instead of whatever Rodriguez is, debate whether they'd rather have their current coach or our current coach. Opinion is split. CATS 4 GOLD. Sun-Times asserts that Harbaugh actually met with ND officials; tomorrow they announce that Bob Stoops is back in the picture!
The is a sports blog version of the Heisman again, which I'm participating in because goddammit Ndamukong Suh needs something.
3. CJ Spiller, Clemson
I followed Spiller's recruitment as Michigan was briefly involved because Spiller's apparently one and only criteria for choosing a school was immediate playing time. This eventually sent him to Clemson in a shock upset over local favorite Florida State.
Spiller immediately proved that his criteria were silly. Here is a list of schools at which CJ Spiller would not have found immediate playing time:
The end. Clemson over the last few years has been intermittent top-ten brilliance from Spiller interspersed with the overwhelming Clemson-ness of the whole thing. Why Spiller instead of Ingram or Gerhart? Spiller was also a special teams destroyer—a preposterous five return touchdowns on the year—and threat in the passing game. Those guys are both close; I tend to value guys who regularly turn in huge plays over those who grind out gains by running over opponents.
2. Brandon Graham, Michigan
Okay, okay, since this is the only vote I'm sure Graham will receive this is by definition a homer vote, but I did watch every snap of his year about four times and have done so with NFL beast Lamarr Woodley, too, and Graham graded out better than Woodley despite being the only player on the defense more intimidating than a six-year-old girl.
He hits harder than Glen Winston:
He did this a lot:
On that last one he turned Brian Bulaga, projected first rounder, into horsemeat.
He's the most impressive defensive lineman I've seen since…
1. Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska
Last weekend. This award shouldn't be about stats, it should be about the most ridiculously good player to play college football in any given year. But if it is about stats, uh… 82 tackles (leading the team), 25 TFLs, 12 sacks, and ten(!!!) PBUs from a defensive tackle. I had this crazy idea to promote Brandon Graham for the Heisman that I dropped about a quarter into the Big 12 championship game. Tim's got a whole diary on this, though he's way harsh on Rittenberg IME. I'm going to be so pissed when Suh comes in second because 10% of the voters turned in their ballots before the games were over.
Michigan 4-4 (0-0 Big Ten)
Perhaps the most frustrating part of the game against Utah is that the team looked, at times, as competent as it's been all year. The rest of the game though, not so much. The shooting woes continued, with the team shooting a collective 34% from the field and a horrendous 55% from the free throw line.
Zack Novak didn't play against the Utes, missing the game with the flu. It's impossible to know whether he would have been the difference in the game, especially since a 6-5 power forward is probably unlikely to see tons of success guarding guys a half-foot taller than him.
The depth is so bad that Ben Cronin actually got first-half minutes, as did walk-on Eso Akunne... and the team might have played better with them in the game than it did without. This whole post is turning out to be really bullet-y, and the heart's not in it, so I might as well get right to the...
- This might sound like a pretty mean-spirited thing to say, but at one point Paul said to me "Why didn't Anthony Wright go on paternity leave or something?" I totally agree. I fail to see why he continues getting minutes, when he's such a liability on both ends of the court. I'm sure he's a great guy, but he's not producing for this team.
- Manny and Deshawn both got going in this game, though they were the only two Wolverines in double digits. Sims only scored 10, but that's not too bad against such a tall lineup. You'd like to see him get enough to keep the defense afraid and open up the outside for the shooters, but...
- AAARGH SHOOTING. It has to get better sometime, right?
- I don't intend to accuse the referees of bias, because I would even guess that Michigan got the better end of more calls last night. Still, holy crap is the officiating in NCAA basketball horrible. Seriously, make me the head of officiating and it will get better in a snap.
- Hats off to Eso Akunne. Dude's a freshman walk-on and he played his ass off.
- I kept waiting for Gibby to break out and do a couple awesome things, but he never did. I guess more playing time wasn't what he needed, one-game sample against a very tall team noted.
- Michigan actually seemed to be forcing a good number of turnovers, both from man and the zone. Unfortunately, they were pretty generous with the ball themselves, and didn't come down with many rebounds.
Detroit comes to Crisler Arena at Noon ET on Sunday. The game will be available on the Big Ten Network. After that, the Wolverines will sacrifice themselves to Kansas the following Saturday.
It is a grim, cold morning in December of 2009, and Michigan's basketball team has essentially closed the door on its tournament chances by losing to a 4-4 WAC team consisting entirely of guys who got to the game via beanstalk. The hockey team languishes at .500 and escaped the basement of the CCHA by squeezing by a bad Ohio State team last weekend; they're not out of things entirely but it's looking grim for them as well. And the football team's promising start spun into a 1-7 Big Ten tailspin that had half a state reaching for whiskey, a gun, or both.
We are low. My main thought this morning was "how far back to you have to go to find Michigan fans as miserable as we are?" 1984 was the only plausible candidate that popped into my mind: the football team limped to 6-6 and the hockey team was still struggling through the first few years of the Red era. This was my guess on WTKA this morning, but Craig Ross emailed to remind/inform us that in '84-'85 the basketball team was 26-4 and Bill Frieder was the national coach of the year. That football team was also hamstrung by one obvious deficiency caused by injury, and it made a bowl. So that's out.
It was pointless to even look at other years in the Bo/Mo/Llo era, so it was back to the 60s we went, and after a couple of false positives (1967 featured a hockey team that was pretty good and made the tournament) I found it. The last year of equal misery. (Requirements: no tournaments for hockey and basketball and football goes under .500.)
Ladies and gentlemen, 1962-63:
|Choose the game you want to display|
|1||Ball State||December 1, 1962||Yost Field House||W-68-58||3,800|
|2||Creighton||December 3, 1962||Yost Field House||W-81-62||3,700|
|3||Butler||December 7, 1962||Yost Field House||L-69-70||5,500|
|4||TCU||December 13, 1962||Yost Field House||W-82-60||3,600|
|5||at Evansville||December 15, 1962||W-73-64||8,419|
|6||San Jose State||December 19, 1962||W-66-52||0|
|7||Houston||December 21, 1962||W-90-88||4,600|
|8||at Texas A&M||December 22, 1962||W-82-79||4,000|
|9||Yale||December 29, 1962||Yost Field House||W-82-71||2,600|
|10||Northwestern||January 5, 1963||Yost Field House||W-78-75||6,600|
|11||Iowa||January 7, 1963||W-88-67||7,500|
|12||at Ohio State||January 12, 1963||L-66-68||13,497|
|13||Minnesota||January 14, 1963||Yost Field House||L-63-66||6,700|
|14||at Detroit||January 30, 1963||Detroit, Michigan||L-70-83||7,134|
|15||at Michigan State||February 2, 1963||East Lansing, Michigan||W-72-71||10,577|
|16||Wisconsin||February 4, 1963||Yost Field House||L-78-81||9,100|
|17||Indiana||February 9, 1963||Yost Field House||W-90-86||8,600|
|18||Ohio State||February 16, 1963||Yost Field House||L-68-75||9,775|
|19||at Northwestern||February 18, 1963||L-62-63||4,000|
|20||at Purdue||February 23, 1963||Lafayette, Indiana||W-71-53||7,841|
|21||Iowa||February 25, 1963||Yost Field House||W-78-70||4,600|
|22||Illinois||March 2, 1963||Yost Field House||W-84-81||9,450|
|23||at Indiana||March 4, 1963||L-96-104||5,351|
|24||at Wisconsin||March 9, 1963||W-82-80||7,835|
Record 16-8 (8-6)
That's not terrible but it wasn't enough to make the 25(!) member NCAA field.
|10/13||@||*Michigan State (5-4)||L||0||28|
|11/24||@||*Ohio State (6-3)||L||0||28|
So there you go: anyone under about 57 has never experienced anything like what it looks like is going to go down this year. The last time this happened Don Draper's wife loved him.
For what it's worth, hockey won the national title the next year, basketball would make the Final Four with Cazzie Russell at the helm, and football would… uh… go 3-4-2. Two out of three ain't bad.
|WHAT||Michigan v. Utah|
|WHERE||Salt Lake City, UT|
December 9th, 2009
|THE LINE||Michigan –1*|
|TELEVISION||CBS College Sports|
*Line provided by online sports betting site Sportsbetting.com.
Despite coming away with a victory over Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Michigan's shooting woes continued on Saturday. Coach Beilein joked at the beginning of his Monday press conference "Believe it or not, we're trying to get some extra shooting in." Beilein noted that the shooting problems have not been consistent from game-to-game, and even in practices. There could be mental or physical reasons, or simply a lack of good practice reps (the Wolverines' travel schedule to Orlando prevented them from getting adequate practice prior to the BC game).
Teams have slumped shooting like this before and recovered under Beilein. Michigan struggled midway through last season, and the 2005 West Virginia team lost to Villanova by 38 points to open the conference season - then still managed to make the Elite 8. While Michigan's slump is definitely frustrating, it's a salvageable situation.
Manny's hamstring issue is still ongoing. "He's gonna be limited a little bit," said Beilein. Harris has had trouble with his offensive explosion, and getting a little rest might help. Ben Cronin is still suffering through his injuries, and his lateral motion is still not where it should be to play at this level. Beilein didn't rule out a medical waiver for a 6th-year for Ben.
To acclimate to altitude (Salt Lake City is more than 4,000 feet above sea level), the Wolverines headed out West on Tuesday to get a full practice under their belts instead of than their usual shootaround in the arena. "It's a long way to go, and I just wanted to practice there one time," said Beilein.
Utah is typically a very tall team, and this year is no exception. "It's just what you always expect from Utah: they're huge," said Beilein. 7-footers Jason Washburn and David Foster have played nearly every minute between the two of them, and Kim Tillie isn't much shorter at 6-11. The rest of the Utes are pretty big as well, with starting guards Carlon Brown and Luka Drca—not a typo—standing 6-5. Point guard Marshall Henderson is the runt of the bunch at 6-2. This should be a tough matchup for the Wolverines height-wise, though Utah doesn't rebound very well, despite their size. Michigan has to decide whether to match their height, or play small. "You can mismatch them and hope for the best, or you can match them and hope for the best," said Beilein.
The Utes have struggled so far this year, dropping home games to Idaho and Seattle. They've also fallen to Oklahoma State and Weber State away from home. Seemingly the lone bright spot on their resume so far is a 2-point tournament win over Illinois (disregard that the Illini fell to Bradley the very next day, of course). A win over Michigan would be big for the Utes in righting the ship. Of course, the same could be said for Michigan.
If you need an explanation of the stats, check out Ken Pomeroy.
|Michigan v. Utah: National Ranks|
|Category||Michigan Rank||Pine Bluff Rank||Advantage|
|Mich eFG% v. Utah Def eFG%||251||111||UU|
|Mich Def eFG% v. Utah eFG%||211||171||U|
|Mich TO% v. Utah Def TO%||2||311||MMMM|
|Mich Def TO% v. Utah TO%||19||33||M|
|Mich OReb% v. Utah DReb%||264||194||U|
|Mich DReb% v. Utah OReb%||300||238||U|
|Mich FTR v. Utah Opp FTR||304||175||UU|
|Mich Opp FTR v. Utah FTR||8||116||MM|
|Mich AdjO v. Utah AdjD||176||156||U|
|Mich AdjD v. Utah AdjO||81||143||M|
Difference of more than 10 places in the national rankings get a 1-letter advantage, more than 100 gets a 2-letter advantage, more than 200 gets a 3-letter advantage, etc.
This Utah team, despite dropping a few winnable contests, is not truly bad in any way except for forcing turnovers. Fortunately, that gives Michigan a huge advantage in holding onto the rock. Other than that, the game is fairly even.
The only categories in which one team has an advantage of more than 100 places in the national rankings are Michigan's shooting against Utah's defense, and each team's ability to keep the opponent off the free throw line. The Wolverines' shooting woes, however, seem to be defense-independent, and merely a product of a shooting slump for Michigan snipers like Zack Novak and Stu Douglass.
Getting to the line is something that Utah doesn't excel at, surprising given their size. Michigan, for all their troubles defending in the paint, hasn't sent opponents to the stripe a lot. With a team the size of Utah, the Wolverines might have to foul a lot more to keep them from getting easy points. It's tough to know though, given that the Utes haven't forced fouls from much smaller teams. Michigan hasn't gotten to the line much this year themselves, and a big team like Utah should be able to defend without fouling.
This is a very close matchup, and it could swing one way or the other on any number of seemingly small factors. Unfortunately, it's the first true road game for the Wolverines, and it's unlikely that the shooting slump comes to an end in the Hunstman Center. This looks like a game that the Utes pull out, as the lead widens in the final minutes to make the game look more one-sided that it truly was.
So… yeah: someone in Michigan's compliance department got the idea that there had been a rule change and that Michigan would not be able to cram more than the NCAA-mandated maximum of 25 players into this recruiting class, and from this person the idea spread to Sam Webb and Rivals and Tom VanHaaren, all of whom talked to similar folk in compliance and got the same answer: rule change, 25 is a hard maximum, no funny stuff with the early enrollers.
This made no sense when combined with recent events. Michigan offered sleeper safety Ray Vinopal and instate NT Jonathan Hankins and got back involved with a half-dozen other prospects, including Pahokee DT Richard Ash and a bunch of Californians. The numbers weren't going to add up.
Further probing has finally revealed the hypothetical rule change to be inaccurate. Probably. An email from the Big Ten's director of compliance indicates there has been no rule change. A small snippet of a longer reply from this official posted on the Rivals premium board:
Nothing has changed, although you’ve never been able to “backdate” and count a student-athlete (SA) in a year in which they weren’t in attendance. What I suspect you’re thinking of is the fact that mid-year enrollees (except SAs receiving aid under the “mid-year replacement” rule?described below) count against the overall limit of 85, but may count against the initial limit of 25 in either the year of initial enrollment (if there’s room) or in the year immediately following.
I guess there's some chance that this is not definitive, but it is this guy's job to know these things and he has explicitly shot down the idea that anything has changed. And it was always very strange that this fairly important change to recruiting rules would go without a single mention in a newspaper, or get brought up by any other fanbase. I'm guessing a few people got confused in compliance for some reason and started this whole thing. It's the simplest explanation.
Anyway: since the Big Ten is not imposing a 25-per-class limit—Penn State enrolled 27 freshmen last year—Michigan should be able to go to 28. This makes Michigan's recruiting binge of late seem much saner from the outside. With Donovan Warren probably off to the NFL and Brandon Smith probably off to some other school, Michigan is obviously planning to take a full 28.
Take the current commits, add in expected commits from MD LB Josh Furman, FL CB Tony Grimes, and FL DE Clarence Murphy, and plan for an inevitable decommit or guy who doesn't look like he'll qualify and finds his offer withdrawn*, and you're looking at two or three more guys in this class. If Michigan can go to 28, that works out just fine. If they can't, Michigan's already at –1 slots and is steaming full speed ahead into an uncomfortable first couple months of 2009. Occam's Razor says it's 28, and Michigan intends to get there.
*(Which, BTW, seems okay by me. If a player isn't eligible by the time his first-semester senior grades are in I think a school is within its rights to say "sorry, but we can't take the chance." I'd rather not see Michigan in a spot where they took a marginal guy with marginal grades, but offers are contingent on grades.)