"The face of the operation is Briatore (referred to exclusively in the film by his colleagues and angry, chanting detractors as "Flavio"), an anthropomorphic radish who spends most of his time at QPR plotting to fire all of the managers."
We'll have much more Signing Day video from the early enrollees down the road on MGoBlog. For now, enjoy each of them talking about what it was like to enroll early at Michigan.
...and onto the assistant coaches:
- In last year's recruiting class, there wasn't as much need for defensive tackles, but striking out on the guys last year meant there was a big need this year.
- The team has good depth at nose tackle right now. It's much easier for guys to learn a 3-tech position, then slide inside later in their careers.
- Recruiting in Ohio is important, because Michigan needs to maintain its standing there. It's also a talent-rich state that is very close, which makes it a little easier to recruit.
- There's no problem with only taking one offensive lineman in the class of 2010, because there were more immediate needs that Coach Rodriguez had to fill.
- Christian Pace is a good kid who loves to play football, and plays with a high motor. He is exceptionally quick for an offensive lineman.
- There was an emphasis in this recruiting class on recruiting guys who can play in space, and do so with toughness and quickness. Marvin robinson and Josh Furman are "space players," and their position doesn't need to be defined until the coaches get them in practice.
- Robinson was already coaching the Quick and Spinner linebacker last season, so he'll take over the duties of coaching all linebackers, and they'll pick up a safety coach to complete the class. "Whoever Rich hires, it'll work well."
- Robinson is very happy for Coach Hopson being able to land a coordinator role.
- Most of the other schools trying to recruit Jeremy Jackson tried to get to him by going through Fred's wife. Jeremy was born and raised in Ann Arbor, and he wanted to be a Wolverine.
- Michigan's offer might have put Carvin Johnson on the radar in the first place. He's a great player, and Coach Jackson had to fight off two SEC programs the night before Signing Day to keep him committed to Michigan.
- It's not the most important factor, but picking up kids who were winners in high school is always a plus, because they know what it's like to win, and they wouldn't have been winners in high school if it wasn't for their work ethic. You don't need to teach them how to work hard to win.
- Both Stephen Hopkins and Austin White will have a chance to contribute in the fall.
- Jeremy Jackson and Ricardo Miller are both big outside receivers who play a physical game. The plan is to leave them at wideout, but if either of them grows into a tight end, they would be willing to make the switch if the team needs it.
- Jerald Robinson is a potential KR/PR down the road, as is DJ Williamson, whose speed rivals Darryl Stonum's.
Michigan 11-11 (4-6 Big Ten)
Yes, it's come to the point in the season where I've run out of pithy, depressing titles to put on basketball posts. "Northwestern 67, Michigan 52" describes it more succinctly than some lame 2-word phrase probably could. I wanted this basketball team to be good, and as an optimist, I am among the last to give up hope. I am constantly looking for evidence that the football team will improve from year to year, evidence that the basketball team is better than their record shows, some sign that good times are coming.
However, it comes to a point where the optimism just runs out. Dylan from UMHoops probably sums it up best in his game recap:
The last month or so has been littered with games where Michigan reminds you how good they could have been. In this one, Michigan reminded us how bad they really are.
So, through all the smoke and mirrors of false hope, we now have a pretty good idea what this basketball team is: a bad one. How that happened over the course of one off-season while only losing two walkons and a Canadian is beyond me, but it happened.
At the end of the first half against Northwestern, the team had looked mediocre, but not yet bad. The second half was a carbon-copy of the previous time the Wolverines faced the Wildcats: the defense didn't show up to play, the offense couldn't get a good look (though at least this time it wasn't due to a load of turnovers), and the Wolverines' stars disappeared. Michigan went from down just 5 points at the break, to down by 21 with under 5 minutes to go, and the 15-point margin only looks marginally better.
It comes to a point where there's no explanation besides a complete lack of heart and leadership. It's not like DeShawn Sims and Manny Harris don't want to win. But wanting to win isn't enough. That desire has to turn into effort and smart play (including shot selection - ugh) for victories to go up on the board.
- DeShawn Sims's tweet summed up his game: "I Didn't put in work today. Gotta do better than 4pts with a Lost. Amnesia though Badgers nexts." Hopefully, he can indeed put this game behind him and come out with a fire against Wisconsin.
- Many Harris and... Darius Morris(?!?) were the only Wolverines in double figures, both with 11 points. When Morris gets time to work on his shot in the offseason, he could develop into one hell of a basketball player.
- As noted above, turnovers weren't a serious problem in this game, as the team only committed nine (four of those came from Manny Harris). However, they were jacking up some awful shots. Some of it was freaking out in the face of defensive pressure, but some of it was just mental weakness, and not staying disciplined in picking when to shoot.
- If I had asked you before the game, would you have guessed Stu Douglass would be the team's #3 rebounder? Didn't think so.
- On that note, where was Zack Novak? After he gave up that awful foul at the beginning of the game (on what was an inexcusable missed over-and-back call), he didn't do a whole lot in the game. Part of it may be looking back after a couple days with only a scoreboard to look at, but it didn't seem like he achieved his usual GRIT ratings.
Michigan tries to avenge a road loss to Wisconsin Saturday at 4PM in Crisler Arena. We've moved beyond the point of "must-wins" for the sake of the NCAA tournament, and have moved along to being eligible for the NIT (gulp). The 1984-85 team, which earned a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament, will be honored at halftime.
A little background on Michigan and Demar Dorsey from a reliable source: Dorsey started seriously looking around after Urban Meyer had his momentary retirement and both Charlie Strong, his future defensive coordinator, and Vance Bedford, his primary recruiter and future position coach, left for Louisville. Bedford, of course, had two stints as Michigan's defensive backs coach under Lloyd Carr.
Michigan got involved with Dorsey when Bedford called up Rich Rodriguez and told him to look at the kid; Bedford personally vouched for his character.
In my years writing this thing, the red mist has descended and I've lit up an unsuspecting dullard quite a lot. Here's a tempo-free aerial of various college football blogs measuring crankiness versus verbosity:
As you can see in this highly scientific study, the combination of crankiness and verbosity here is virtually unmatched. If you write something dumb about Michigan sports, chances are I've called you horseface or fitted you for a Darth Vader mask or stated my surprise no one has tazed you, bro. This is either an asset or a detriment to the site, depending on who you are and the topic at hand. I'm not sure which myself.
But one guy I've mostly ignored has been Drew Sharp. Other than one incident where Sharp suggested that the Big Ten had totally caved in their Comcast negotiations because Comcast could switch the channel to a digital sports tier when his own paper was reporting that this was complete bunk, he's only drawn mention in UVs when his book reviews are hilariously negative or he doesn't understand the First Amendment. This is because criticizing Sharp for being an incompetent bomb-thrower is like criticizing Kim Jong-Il for creating a backwards nation of racist dwarves: yeah, you're right, but that's the goal. Drew Sharp is North Korea on paper. What's new?
But a man must draw a line somewhere. Here's my line: when Drew Sharp uses Demar Dorsey as a piece of meat for his own personal gain.
A selection of things Sharp said yesterday while pushing his contention that Michigan shouldn't have signed Dorsey:
MATT SHEPARD: "He was timed with a 4.4—"
SHARP: "Avoiding police."
SHEPARD: "That happened when he was 16 and he was acquitted.
SHARP: "I wonder if that was because he was a high profile recruit. Hmm. I wonder. … OJ got acquitted. Being acquitted doesn't mean you're innocent."
"If this was any other 16 year old facing charges on buglary [ed: of an unoccupied building; dropped], armed robbery, and assault [ed: fictional charge], that kid might be serving probation. He probably thought 'I have to go to trial so I can get this off my record.'"
"I'm done with second chances. I have a hard time believing this kid Dorsey's learned one damn thing through his close calls with the criminal justice system."
SHEPARD: "It's been a couple years… has he gotten into any trouble since?"
SHARP: "Not that we know of! … It's naive for for people to automatically assume that you have to give these guys another chance."
SHEPARD: "Why take a chance?"
SHARP: "It's desperation."
He's also got a column but since it starts "It's not National Signing Day. It's National Sighing Day," I refuse to expose anyone else to its toxic brain-killing funk. It's basically the same premise, except on paper and written by a third grader.
Drew Sharp doesn't know anything about Demar Dorsey except that when you search for his name in a Broward County database it comes up with a traffic violation and two felony charges, one of which was dropped and the other he was acquitted on. He only knows that because someone on the internet did it for him. The amount of research he has done to make these statements is exactly zero.
This is not enough information to make sweeping assertions that Dorsey probably wasn't innocent, doesn't deserve a "second chance"—in this case a first chance, but whateva—, that it's desperation to take a kid Florida*, USC, and Florida State were after, and that you have to be naive to think Dorsey hasn't gotten in trouble since. He defamed the character of a high school kid he's never met, and the point is that it's a "risk" for Rodriguez and Michigan.
A risk of what? A risk Dorsey does something dumb in college and doesn't make it? That's a risk for Dorsey wherever he goes, and since one of the reasons Dorsey cited for leaving Florida is that being farther from home will help him "concentrate on football" coming to Michigan makes it less likely that happens. And dumb stuff is a risk for Michigan no matter who they sign.
The risk appears to be that Sharp and his fellow hard-hitting journalists will follow up with articles when and if Dorsey messes up. Articles like this:
There's more drama down the road at the other school, but Michigan State doesn't mind the boredom.
Rich Rodriguez dismisses a wannabe drug dealer from Michigan and immediately there are suspicions regarding the tautness of his program -- procedural questions that were once mostly asked of Michigan State head coaches.
Yet on the same day, Mark Dantonio welcomed back a running back freshly released from a four-month jail term for hospitalizing a hockey player during a campus fight last fall. Dantonio placed unspecified restrictions on the player's return, reminiscent of Lloyd Carr's private penal policy at Michigan, and the actions barely raised a public ripple.
Roles are reversing. Perceptions are changing.
How did that work out again?
As I wrote at the time:
I'm not even mad. I'm impressed. Here Sharp acknowledges the double standard—at his own newspaper, in his own column—and uses it to criticize Rodriguez and praise Dantonio. He sits at A, takes a good hard look at B, and then leaps to Q. I hope he donates his brain to science.
So because twits like Sharp will misrepresent hypothetical Dorsey misbehavior it represents a risk that Rodriguez shouldn't take no matter how long Vance Bedford has known the kid—over a year—and how flimsy the sketchy past angle is.
For this he spends two days dragging an innocent—literally—kid's name through the mud. So he can have attention.
Here's the thing: Rich Rodriguez cares about his players. When he left West Virginia, they were the only people in the state to defend him. When the NCAA stuff came down and Rich Rodriguez had his press conference about it, he hit his shakiest, teariest point when he was talking about the effects this had on his players. When you listen to Mike Barwis talk about Pacman Jones, the pain is evident—they just couldn't straighten him out enough. He has a good track record. He was right about Pat Lazear, and his disciplinary record over the past five years is considerably above average. Every time he picks up a guy with a rough past and puts him in college he's trying to make the kid's life better.
And yet he gets painted as a bad guy by people who don't care about anything but themselves. Drew Sharp is a selfish, cynical bastard. He's made a career out of making people angry with his half-assed, research-free opinions. He's a disgrace to journalism. If the Free Press had any scruples whatsoever, rampantly bashing a kid with no evidence, or even an effort to collect any, would be so far beyond the journalistic pale that no combination of weasel words could save him.
As part of the segment, Sharp read an email from a current Michigan student than finished "You are a classless, insignificant human being. I am glad that regional newspapers like the one you work for have become obsolete." In response, Sharp said if the kid read the regional newspapers he'd have a better idea of what's being reported—something Sharp could work on himself—and about how blinkered fans were.
I'll let Sharp condemn himself:
Until you get your heads out of your back pockets and look at everything, don't stand up and pass judgment. Because you make yourself look like an ass.
Indeed. In four years, Demar Dorsey is likely to be in the NFL or graduating from Michigan. Drew Sharp is likely to be unemployed.
*(The story that Florida dropped the kid because of his quote-unquote "checkered legal past" is obviously crap. Dorsey had been a Florida commit for over a year. If Florida dropped him it's because he was wishy-washy about his commit and they didn't want to get ditched by him at the last second when they could go out and get an nearly equal recruit who wouldn't jet.)
A final note on Dave Birkett. The AnnArbor.com reporter was also part of the stir by repeatedly pounding Rodriguez on the Dorsey "point." He didn't make any criminally insane and cynical assertions afterwards, so there's that. It is a valid question to ask.
Note the plurality, or lack thereof, of "question." Rodriguez provided the nothing answer he was going to, and when the followup met a nothing answer it's clear that's all you're going to get. Not like that's a surprise, anyway. Birkett would not let it go, though, and dragged it out until Rodriguez got slightly steamed and Dave Ablauf had to step in. This did nothing except waste time. You're not Woodward and Bernstein, you're a freaking entertainment reporter. It's disrespectful to the rest of the room and everyone trying to find out information that Rodriguez would actually communicate if asked about to harp on one topic.
Not even convicted? Next question, coach--we don't even want to finish this one, since clearly Demar Dorsey has no problems whatsoever and will be a fine addition to the football team. That, Michigan fans, is what it would be like if you were anywhere else in the nation and had a recruit with a couple of nasty juvenile arrests, but the Freep is on the scene for this extremely overblown story like the WITI TV 6 news crew. DURR HURR WHY DOES RICH ROD RECRUIT THUGZ OUTRAGE HURR. Because some of them are fast, can play football, and can be kept out of trouble for four years while they win football games? The Michigan press is the polar opposite of SEC press corps, and we mean that in the good and bad way: not fawning, but also convinced there's a potential Watergate beneath that Gatorade bucket over there.
Updated. The depth chart by class has been updated. Let me know if there are errors. I believe Brandin Hawthorne is gunning for a medical redshirt and that Nick Sheridan is going the GA route this year. I put Baquer Sayed on it since he seems like he has a chance to contribute. By my count, Michigan has 13 to give right now, so a class of 18 or so is probably in the cards next year.
Jalen winners. The four winners of signed Jalen Rose t-shirts: Lauren Leb, Brandon Cox, Nathan McFeters, and Brooks Dunn. Congrats. As a bonus, Jalen roped in Jimmy King so your shirts have bonus signatures.
This happened, technically. There was a meeting about the NCAA thing:
The University of Michigan Board of Regents discussed the NCAA investigation into the football program on Wednesday, The Associated Press has learned.
A person familiar with the session confirmed the probe was part of the discussion. The person spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because the school is not disclosing any details of what it calls an informal meeting.
Really? Fascinating. Details?
The person did not discuss any details with the AP.
Outstanding. Obviously, if I hear anything that qualifies as information I will relay it.
Antonio Bass, in repose. Outstanding article in the Daily on Antonio Bass, a man with cojones:
Late that night, Carr’s phone rang.
“Coach, I just wanted to tell you,” Bass said in a slow, deliberate voice. “I’ve made my decision. I’m going to Michigan State.”
Bass today says he could feel Carr’s normally warm, welcoming personality, the one Carr reserved for all his players, stiffening up. His voice became cold, formal.
“Well, Antonio, I wish you luck up there,” Carr said.
Silence. Bass held in a chuckle as long as he could before blurting out, “Nah, coach, I’m just playing. I’m ready to be a Wolverine.”
If deadly silences could kill, eh? Bass is walking in May with a communications degree.
CONEOFF. The Coner has graduated, but there must be another goofy fan favorite backup quarterback who pwns Michigan's I-AA opponent. Candidate #1 is obvious: Conelius Jones. His name is Cone from the future.
Candidate #2 has the flow, though, and support from spectacularly named walk-on Ohene Opong-Owusu. Here's Jack Kennedy:
It's… kind of good. Isn't it? I mean, given your expectations going in it vastly exceeded them, right?
In the Times. Two(!) relevant items, one of them with a big honking picture of Michigan's new athletic director and quotes from Mary Sue Coleman. It, unsurprisingly, is a trend piece on athletic departments hiring corporate CEOs:
“That business experience is almost essential,” said Mary Sue Coleman, the Michigan president, who said she also hired Brandon because he had strong ties to the university, having played football for the Wolverines and served as a university regent.
Still, she said, “It’s hard for me to imagine a successful athletic director these days that doesn’t have a deep understanding and skills for the financial side of an athletic department.”
The other is an analysis of the possible ripple effects from Big Ten expansion. OSU's president is the guy most heavily quoted. This is the most disturbing quote:
“I do think the Big Ten holds a key, maybe the key, in terms of what is going to be the next phase of college athletics,” Ohio State’s Gee said. “We need to explore this carefully. The law of unintended consequences applies most specifically to college athletics.”
I hope that this does not imply one of those super conference things that ends up with 30-team Big Ten facing off with 30-team SEC.
(Brandon HT: The Ann Arbor Chronicle.)
In the year 2000. Mike Hart's ambition remains the same:
Hart has been through a lot in his first two NFL seasons, from a torn ACL as a rookie last year to being waived and re-signed by the Colts twice this season. And he admits he contemplated calling it a career last fall and getting started on "my real life."
And just what might that be?
"I want to coach," Hart said. "And hopefully I'll be the head coach at Michigan one day. That's my goal."
"No joke," Hart said, smiling. "That's ultimately what I want to do. I love Michigan. That's a big part of me."
When Fred Jackson retires (in four years?), every Michigan fan on the planet will want one guy. No matter if it makes any sense, which it might not.
That article also contains a by now standard response to the standard "so… Rich Rodriguez?" question posed all former Michigan football players kicking around the NFL: I support Rodriguez, but he has to win.
Update: Parker to Washington, Dorsey to Michigan, no decommits. Bumping this to the top.
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