Mike Lantry, 1972
Since I've discovered there isn't a whole lot to actually, like, learn at Big Ten Media Days ("I think every team is great/we're the only people who can beat ourselves/etc." are the most common things heard), here's a look at the impressions that each Big Ten coach gives either in press conference or 1-on-1 (more often, 5-on-1) format:
Pat Fitzgerald - Fitzgerald is super-enthusiastic (especially for a Northwestern coach), and he seems genuinely excited to be the coach at his alma mater. Of more interest to NU blogger Lake The Posts, he's a staunch advocate of the "Since 1995" propaganda metric. He used it 3 or 4 times during his stand at the podium.
Ron Zook - With a reputation for being intense and often hilarious, Zook was disappointingly low-key. He talked about his excitement for the upcoming season, having high expectations, and the unconventional schedule the Illini face this year. Not interesting stuff from a guy who's typically among the more quotable Big Ten coaches.
Bret Bielema - Wisconsin is on the opposite side of the trend that Northwestern is seeing, going downhill in each of Bielema's 3 seasons. Seeing the way he talks , it's not too tough to see why. He comes off as the same meathead in person that he appears to be on TV.
Rich Rodriguez - Michigan fans are well-aware of how their coach acts towards the media. He was his standard "aw, shucks" self, though his confidence about the upcoming season was refreshing.
Danny Hope - Hope is known as a near-clone of his predecessor, Joe Tiller. For my money, though, he looks more like ex-Lions GM Matt Millen. Having never heard Hope speak, I was surprised to hear a weird accent (understandable considering his Eastern Kentucky background) that brought to mind Randy Moss.
Tim Brewster - GO FIGHT Brewster is understandably excited to be the WIN Gophers' head football coach, though ROSE BOWL like Ron Zook, he was a little less excitable than FIGHT his reputation holds. Still, he GO TEAM was visibly excited by the Gophers' prospects in 2009.
Jim Tressel - Tressel was as boring as expected, which is to say very. His talking style is pretty bland (though not as unlistenable as Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany). He's sort of the opposite of Brewster, in that he can talk about how ridiculously excited he is about something, while sounding like he's boring even himself to tears.
Bill Lynch - He is a pretty anonymous guy, and he seems nice enough, I guess. It's hard to tell anything about him just from a press conference, which is probably not great at an anonymous football program like Indiana.
Mark Dantonio - Ive figured out who he reminds me of. Obviously, he's his own person, but he seems a lot like a version of Nick Saban that's not deliciously evil, and instead just kinda a dickhead. He of course has the Tressel act going as well, but he's tries to be more Saban-like I think, though he is pretty clearly obsessed with Michigan.
Joe Paterno - Everyone knows about JoePa. He's like the senile-but-fun grandparent, and he's always going to give a couple good quotes. Given his propensity for talking down on good Penn State teams, and building up mediocre ones, it seems like Penn State might be pretty good this year.
Kirk Ferentz - Ferentz is like the master of coachspeak and the meaningless quote (which might be one of the reasons he was one of the favorites to be picked as the successor to Lloyd Carr). He, like Carr, almost seems to be annoyed that talking to the media is part of his job.
The point of the diaries! Leading off: a fantastic diary from MCalibur on the increased vulnerability of spread option quarterbacks, or, apparently, the lack thereof. "Do spread quarterbacks get injured more?" is a question I've abdicated on before, citing the lack of a reliable injury database that could provide a comprehensive answer without good old fashioned grunt work. MCalibur grunted his way to a money graf after splitting quarterbacks into four quartiles based on run/pass ratio, with group 3 your Pat White sorts and group 0* your John Navarre sorts:
On a percentage basis the only group that suffered an out of norm injury percentage were level 2 QBs which I think of as QBs that are used like running backs (Juice Williams) or QBs that are too slow to be running in the first place (Steven Threet). All other groups suffered injuries at about a 23% clip. Meaning about 1 out of every 4 QBs in a given category lost playing time due to injury in 2008.
Though I don't agree with totally dismissing the increased injury rate of "group 2" QBs, the numbers here are small enough that it seems like an outlier. The Pat Whites got injured at at the same rate as groups 1 and 2, and group one was by far the hardest hit in terms of man-games lost. There is definitely no clear correlation between lots of runs and injury.
Caveat: as noted, the sample size here is small. The numbers are suggestive but not definitive. It's not impossible a larger study would show a better correlation between runs and injury. It is, however, pretty unlikely. Outstanding work; I have bestowed a bonus 100 (meaningless!) points. Misopogon also picked up the bonus for the numbers post front-paged last night. At some point these will be useful, I swear.
*(Dollars to donuts this means MCalibur is a coder. He's zero-indexing his arrays.)
Meanwhile on the roster. Michigan applied for three medical redshirts last year and news reports had confirmed that two of them—Adam Patterson, now a redshirt junior, and Junior Hemingway, now a redshirt sophomore—had been approved. The third was Kenny Demens, who the roster now lists as a redshirt freshman. Obviously inference: Demens, too, got his redshirt.
The whole enchilada from Rich Rodriguez's appearance at Big Ten media days:
Transcript here if you don't want to bother with the video. I read it and decided against it; there is zero of value in there. There is also creepy dark cell-phone video from The Big Ten Network talking to Mark Ortmann and Stevie Brown:
Mesko doesn't talk, he just saves the planet. There is also more of Rodriguez talking.
Can we get in on that? Yankee Stadium is poised to host outstandingly competitive games between Notre Dame and Army—why do you hate America, Notre Dame?—starting in 2010. This has caused Army to sign up a half-dozen future Yankee Stadium games against other East Coast schools and Yankee Stadium to start thinking bigger and possibly more competitive:
The Daily News has learned that there have been discussions between the NCAA and high-ranking Yankee officials, including managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner, about the possibility of establishing a postseason bowl game at Yankee Stadium, beginning in 2011.
And… hey… can we get in on that? And in a meaningful way, not a goofy Motor City Bowl sort of way? I would love the opportunity to watch some other Big Ten team freeze its ass off in New York against some warm-weather team and caveman their way to astounding victories. Hell, if Michigan ended up in it I might even go depending on just how Christmas-impinging the thing is. Why don't we boot the Alamo Bowl to the curb—cold or not, there is no comparison between San Antonio and New York—and take on any comers in the frozen northlands?
(HT: Doctor Saturday.)
Erm? I've never had the Erin Andrews-level obsession that much of the rest of the college football blogosphere has with stat ninja Phil Steele, but I do respect his research-mad ways and how he eschews the sort of punditry that can best be summed up with the word "Cowherd."
So, um, Phil, what?
7. Rich Rodriguez, Michigan – The Wolverines could be an underdog in as many as 7 games this year and they really must have a winning season. I think Rodriguez will get them to a decent bowl and make major strides just like he did in his 2nd year at West Virginia. Amazingly there are a lot of Michigan alumni who think Rodriguez runs a pass-happy spread offense! In his last 6 years at West Virginia his teams averaged 270 ypg rushing the football (148 ypg pass) while Michigan in that same span had 229 ypg PASSING and just 163 ypg rush.
Not only does that "7" represent Phil Steele's placement of Rich Rodriguez on his top 13 "hot seat" list—ahead of Charlie Freakin' Weis!—but I would like to meet the Michigan fan not in a coma that believes Rich Rodriguez piloted a pass-happy spread offense featuring Pat White.
Never fear, though. Sensing a threat to their hard-earned possession of 2009's Dumbest Statement About Michigan Football, CFN strikes back:
2009 Preseason All-Big Ten Defense
DB - Stevie Brown, Sr., Michigan
DB - Kurt Coleman, Sr., Ohio State
DB - Donsay Hardeman, Sr., Illinois
DB - Torri Williams, Sr., Purdue
That's right. Stevie Brown, who isn't a defensive back anymore, and oh by the way was mindbogglingly awful last year, is first-team All Big Ten. You win, CFN, you win.
(CFN HT: MattC87 around these parts. What, you think I read it?)
More scheduling bits. I have no idea about the veracity of any of these rumors, but the following five schools have been kicked about the internet in the wake of Rodriguez's announcement that Michigan would likely find a BCS school to have a home-and-home with. In ascending order of plausibility:
5. Duke. In a word: no. Michigan could get a Duke-level opponent without a return game, and has in the recent past when they scheduled Vandy. Duke's existence in the list of four teams batted about (all listed save UConn) reduces the plausibility of the rest of them.
4. UConn. UConn isn't Duke but they aren't a ton better from a program perspective. (They're obviously better on the field.) It's hard to envision Michigan playing at 40,000 seat Rentschler field. And it's hard to envision UConn agreeing to another neutral site game after their sellout series with Notre Dame was met with resistance from the state legislature and brokered down to six games from the original ten with a provision that the Huskies play at least six true home games each year. Also, they'd have to move or cancel a game with Northeastern. Also also, the recruiting exposure would be nil.
3. Pitt. This was addressed yesterday: in 2010 Pitt already has Miami and Notre Dame scheduled, with ND on the road. Even though they've got an extra nonconference game because they're in the Big East, that would be a foolishly challenging setup for either Wannstedt battling for his job or the new guy looking to get off on the right foot.
2. Oregon State. Oregon State is a plausible opponent, but they'd have to accept a nonconference schedule of @ M, Louisville, and @ Boise State to go with their nine-game conference schedule. Has any college football team not named USC (or Troy, I guess) been that ballsy since the adoption of the 12th game?
1. Virginia. Virginia is a plausible opponent and was #3 on my list from yesterday.
An attempt to schedule Michigan "fell through." Not sure if that would have been for this year, and that's why we had to scramble to get Eastern Washington. Tedford did say that he doesn't want to play too many good teams and prefers A, B, C scheduling. He stressed he always wants a home-home series, and that they're "not interested" in playing somebody without a return game. In regards to a suggestion that we play Notre Dame, Sandy Barbour, who used to work for Notre Dame, added, "The Irish are afraid."
Downgrade Cal in your betting pools.
Blunt. I was taken aback by a Rittenberg headline that read "Rodriguez sees chemistry built, entitlement vanish," but did indeed Rodriguez drop "entitlement" more than once:
"Are you hungry to prove yourself and not have a sense of entitlement? We talked quite a bit about not having the sense of entitlement," Rodriguez said. "It's good to have pride, but when that pride becomes too much, you're going to get humbled pretty quick. I think, in a sense, that happened to us."
There have been gigabytes spilled about this very topic on Michigan message boards from one end of the internet to the other: had Michigan fallen into complacency as Carr aged and the spittle ceased to fleck? What is this program, who does it belong to, and what is "being Michigan"? At what point do people start to kick ass again? And by "people" we mean "us"? That's not a question.
Right: This is Barwis culture shock in a couple sentences from the head man, and speaks to the difficulty Rodriguez had adapting Carr's culture to his. This has to be better now; anyone who hasn't transferred should be in for the long haul.
Etc.: Three people emailed me this so it must be important: Kirk Herbstreit had someone burn down his house for a tax break. It was the fire department. It didn't work. AAU remains so far beyond sketchy it strains believability.
Editor's note: bumped from the diaries for general usefulness and excellent formatting.
EDIT: About an hour into putting this together, Germany Schultz posted a notice in the forums about the same basic thing. Good discussion, with similar info followed before I noticed it. I hope my diary will still be useful, i.e., you didn't already spend a Monday evening culling the new rosters.
So I sat down to put together the Women's Bracket for the Sweet 16 round of the ongoing M Uniform Tournament (which hopefully will continue tomorrow), and as usual with those things, began by opening up the Athletic Department's site.
On there, bright, fresh and new, were the 2009 football rosters, including the numbers assigned to incoming freshmen. NCAA 2010 players rejoice. As for the rest of us, what follows are the new men in maize and blue. As you imagine the Class of '09 winning Big Ten Titles, Heismans, and National Championships, may your imaginations now have proper numeric associations.
|16||Denard||Robinson||QB||Deerfield Beach, Fla. (Deerfield Beach)||David Cone moved to 17|
|5||Tate||Forcier||QB||San Diego, Calif. (Scripps Ranch)||Spring|
|2||Vincent||Smith||RB||Pahokee, Fla. (Pahokee)||Spring|
|28||Fitzgerald||Toussaint||RB||Youngstown, Ohio (Liberty)|
|84||Cameron||Gordon||WR||Detroit, Mich. (Inkster)||Listed as a receiver, has a receiver number. For the moment, Gordon's not a safety|
|6||Je'Ron||Stokes||WR||Philadelphia, Pa. (Northeast)||Update: changed from 4 to 6 (typo or fastest # change ever?)|
|14||Teric||Jones||SR||Detroit, Mich. (Cass Technical)|
|29||Jeremy||Gallon||SR||Apopka, Fla. (Apopka)|
|77||Taylor||Lewan||OL||Scottsdale, Ariz. (Chaparral)||Can hopefully fill Jake Long's jersey. His shoes are another matter.|
|75||Michael||Schofield||OL||Orland Park, Ill. (Carl Sandburg)|
|76||Quinton||Washington||OL||St. Stephen, S.C. (Timberland)|
|90||Anthony||LaLota||DE||Princeton, N.J. (The Hun School)|
|88||Craig||Roh||DE||Scottsdale, Ariz. (Chaparral)||Listed as an "OLB" -- ?|
|73||William||Campbell||DT||Detroit, Mich. (Cass Technical)||Spring|
|7||Brandin||Hawthorne||LB||Pahokee, Fla. (Pahokee)||Spring. Norman Griffith, the Pahokee player who was killed last year, wore 7.|
|26||Isaiah||Bell||LB||Youngstown, Ohio (Liberty)|
|27||Mike||Jones||LB||Orlando, Fla. (Edgewater)||
|5||Vladimir||Emilien||S||Lauderhill, Fla. (Plantation)||Spring|
|15||Thomas||Gordon||S||Detroit, Mich. (Cass Technical)||Listed as a safety, has same number as RB Mike Cox (sic). For the moment, Gordon's a safety.|
|2||J.T.||Turner||CB||Massillon, Ohio (Washington)|
|13||Adrian||Witty||CB||Deerfield Beach, Fla. (Deerfield Beach)|
|34||Brendan||Gibbons||PK||West Plam Beach, Fla. (Cardinal Newman)|
|14||Nadar||Furrha||QB||Ann Arbor, Mich. (Pioneer)||Same # as Teric Jones, in same class, also on offense.|
|32||O'Neil||Swanson||RB||West Bloomfield, Mich. (Detroit Country Day)|
|42||Al||Backey||RB||Ypsilanti, Mich. (Ypsilanti)|
|36||Jonny||Childers||FB||Muskegon, Mich. (Mona Shores)||Requisite Rich-Rod fullback walk-on|
|27||Jordan||Owens||SR||Alpharetta, Ga. (Alpharetta)||Slot receiver from Georgia with an open number? Huh?|
|85||Joe||Reynolds||WR||Rochester, Mich. (Rochester Adams)|
|54||Jareth||Glanda||OL||Rochester Hills, Mich. (Brother Rice)|
|59||Tom||Lindley||OL||Shirley, N.Y. (William Floyd)|
|66||Christian||Brandt||OL||West Bloomfield, Mich. (Saint Mary's Prep)|
|67||Adam||Barker||OL||Adrian, Mich. (Adrian)|
|69||Erik||Gunderson||OL||Milan, Mich. (Milan)|
|94||Curt||Graman||LS||Cincinnati, Ohio (Elder)||Because Turner Booth doesn't last forever|
|67||Nathan||Brink||DE||Holland, Mich. (Holland Christian)|
|39||Eddie||Murray||PK||Royal Oak, Mich. (Royal Oak)|
|46||Seth||Broekhuizen||PK||Holland, Mich. (Holland)|
|93||Kris||Pauloski||PK||Indianapolis, Ind. (Pike)|
Also of Interest:
|19||Kelvin||Grady||SR||Grand Rapids, Mich. (East Grand Rapids)|
Things I'd like to say:
- I love that Hawthorne is gonna wear the number of his teammate (and fellow linebacker), Norman Griffith. He's taking on an awful load. I'm so rooting for this kid!
- Also, note what's happened with No. 7 through the years. Under Bo, it's Option QBs like Rick Leach and the first "Wolf" DE/LB hybrid, Mark Jacoby. Under Moeller it's hard-nosed runner Chris Floyd. Under Carr it's 5-star "stud" QBs Chad Henne and Drew Henson (or Spencer Brinton when you can't get one). And now: a tiny slot receiver (Robinson) and a linebacker from Pahokee, Florida, who wears the digit of his late friend. Could these be any more representative?
- Taylor Lewan: YMRMFSP...we get it.
- Denard Robinson in John Navarre's number: I like my irony served in 16's.
- Why is Craig Roh listed as an outside linebacker? Are they trying to give any fan who reads the DL depth chart a heart attack?
- If wearing No. 2 will make Turner into Woodson, does that mean Vlad Emilien and Thomas Gordon are gonna be Charles Stewart and DeWayne Patmon? NTTAWWT
Ooooh: dateline. Tim's not quite set up to post as Tim yet, but this is Tim from Chicago.
CHICAGO, IL - If "OMG who didn't vote for Tebow?" was the annoying meme at the SEC Media Days last week, the theme for the Big Ten's edition is "What the hell is wrong with your conference, and what are you going to do to fix it?" Every head coach was bombarded with some version of that question, and there were three general ways it was asked:
- Illinois and Wisconsin are scheduling games after the traditional end of the conference season. Do you see this as a positive for the perception of the conference as a whole?
- What other ways of toughening up the schedule (such as playing tough teams OOC, such as USC and Texas, or by extending the conference schedule to a full round robin) are you in favor of?
- Why do you suck so much more than the SEC?
Ron Zook thinks that not only is the ability of the Illini to stay on TV later in the year a positive thing, but also the bye weeks that they open up during the season will help the team stay healthier overall, and stronger down the stretch.
Rich Rodriguez, though he didn't play in a bowl last year with the Wolverines, thought that West Virginia's season extending to December helped his team when bowl season rolled around, because the execution and rhythm of the team aren't interrupted. Still, Rodriguez (along with a couple other coaches), thinks that it will only take big wins in one or two big non-conference/bowl games for the Big Ten to be back in the media's good graces. Michigan returning to power can only help that change. The only thing that really matters is winning, and that will come as long as Big Ten teams are as good as their opponents.
Tim Brewster thinks that playing the toughest competition can only help the team improve overall, and he looks forward to the day when the Big Ten conference adds a 12th team, and can play in a conference championship game.
Pat Fitzgerald, before his thoughts wandered to Rose Bowl dreams, talked about how he doesn't want to expand the conference schedule, because the Big Ten is pretty tough as it is. Like everyone else, though, he wants to change the perception of the league in a positive manner.
Jim Tressel said any time you challenge your team, not only do you find out where you stack up, but also that you grow as a team, and improve. As far as altering scheduling, he doesn't think that the difference between 40-some days off of football before the bowl season isn't significant to a team's performance, despite how the Buckeyes have looked in the past few BCS bowl games. The conference is concerned about its image, and even rival coaches cheer for each others' teams in the non-conference schedule.
Bill Lynch, who probably has the least vested interest in the topic, thinks it's a positive if teams can have a bye week, even if it means extending the season slightly. It allows for mental and physical rejuvenation.
Mark Dantonio thinks the difference between conferences is negligible, and the only way to determine who is the best is by a theoretical game between the all-conference teams of various conferences.
As for other (somewhat) interesting things paraphrased from the mouth of Rich Rodriguez:
The Big East and Big Ten are somewhat similar conferences, and though he spent a lot of time in the Big East, he thinks that the Big Ten has a bit more quality depth among its teams. Though the Big Ten might not have the most pristine reputation right now, once the teams are able to play and win in big games against important opponents, the perception of the league will improve.
The idea that a scheme is unique or unbeatable is a little overrated. Schemes are what they are. Michigan isn't going to win games just because of "the spread." It's plays and players that win games. Defenses may have caught up with the spread because it's not foreign to them anymore, but what you do from the spread is what's important. Defensively, Greg Robinson did bring in some slightly different schemes, though most defensive coordinators have a bunch of the same X-and-O stuff, and it's how you utilize them that's important. The bigger contribution by GERG has been the chemistry he's helped develop among the coaching staff and the players on the defensive side of the ball. Though the team lost some players from 2008, the new staff and players are communicating well, and that should help.
In other terms of improvement from year one to year two, there's the matter of experience. Not only were most of Michigan's players inexperienced, the experience that they did have was in a completely different system, so having a year of not only college football, but also the Rich Rodriguez system, will help the team a lot. Especially along the offensive line, the players will now know how to react when a new situation is thrown at them in live action. Once the players are familiar with game experience—and the coaches are familiar with the players—there are more available answers to problems.
Tomorrow, I'll have the chance to talk to the players, and hopefully there'll be some news to report from that.
I've dissed on Big Ten Media Days today, but here's something of major import:
He said U-M is close to signing an opening opponent for 2010. He said it's a BCS school for a home-and-home series.
Michigan would not be lining up a home-and-home with Duke or whoever, so this is an opponent ranging from decent to excellent. When Boise State popped up as a potential opponent, I scoured the schedules and came up with a list of potential opponents. Those opponents, once more:
NOT HAPPENING WITHOUT AN UNLIKELY RETURN GAME
- Oklahoma State
- Kansas State
- Mississippi State
- Washington State
- Maryland (would have to move Navy game)
- NC State
- Oregon State
- South Carolina (would have to move Troy game)
- TCU (they'd have to move their Baylor game)
TCU and all the "why bother" schools are out since it's a home-and-home. Georgia is not a candidate. Also, Maryland's game against Navy is in Baltimore and thus not moveable. They're out. What about the rest?
Alabama: has already filled out its 2010 schedule, and Penn State is on it.
LSU: Though they need a 12th game they would have to move Tulane and already have West Virginia lined up.
NC State: Open date, but has a real game (Cincinnati) scheduled on 9/4.
Pitt: No conflicts but already has Notre Dame and Miami on the nonconference, with ND on the road.
Oregon State: open date but already have UL and Boise lined up, with Boise on the road.
Arkansas: has only announced their now-annual neutral-site game against A&M.
Cal: Would have to move the Louisiana Tech game but has an open date and no scheduled road games. They do have Colorado lined up.
Oklahoma State: only Tulsa and Troy on the docket right now and nothing on 9/4.
Virginia: already lined up to die at USC, but do they really care about adding a game? No conflicts.
South Carolina: Would have to move a game against Troy and has North Carolina already lined up, but all of their noncon are currently at home.
My bets in order:
- Oklahoma State, which has a schedule that can accommodate Michigan with ease and is a nouveau riche school looking for a big scalp.
- Cal. Michigan loves scheduling Pac-10 schools and they can go on the road in 2010.
- Virginia. They'd have to be nuts, but maybe they are.
Also: Rodriguez confirmed that all the freshmen are ready to go, making Gallon and Turner's status officially official.
I've spent the morning a little freaked out because Big Ten Media days, despite having zero items of actual interest, certainly feels like something I should be covering the crap out of. And then you flip on the Big Ten Network and Mike Hall says "Michigan will get into a bowl because it's Michigan" at 6-6 when there are rules stating any eligible 7-5 team has to be picked ahead of a 6-6 team and, well… it's not so great.
But here it is if you want to marvel at… it. Enjoy the debt reduction and Michael J Fox Parkinson's commercials, and try not to pass out when Tressel takes the mic.
UPDATE: Whoever the analyst guy is just said Tate Forcier was an "unguided missile," which is… what? And now Greg Robinson is a "beautiful mind." Aaaaargh? I'm so confused.
UPDATE II: I'm done with this now except for a quote from Danny Hope: "having a winning season in 2009 would be one way for this year to be special."
PA S Brandon Ifill is Cullen Christian's less-discussed teammate, if only because near five-star Christian has been publicly claiming a large Michigan lead for months now and Ifill's been more reserved about his plans. He recently announced a top two of Michigan and Maryland, though, and plans on finding out more about Michigan this week. Tom VanHaaren caught up with Ifill a couple days ago.
TOM: Thanks for taking my call, how’s your recruitment been going so far?
BRANDON: Yes sir, no problem. It’s been going pretty good. I’ve visited 4 different schools right now, and taking one more up to Michigan on the 31st.
TOM: That was going to be my next question. Can you tell me a little about what you expect to see, and what you hope to hear as well?
BRANDON: I just hope to see a nice atmosphere, a great place to play football, a great program, and the great Michigan tradition.
TOM: What coaches have been recruiting you from Michigan?
BRANDON: Tony Gibson.
TOM: You’re teammates, and good friends with Cullen Christian. What has he told you about Michigan, and what to look for on your visit?
BRANDON: He’s told me everything; everything possible. He says everything is great; the academics, the program, the facilities, coaches, and players, everything.
TOM: Since you haven’t been out to Michigan yet, is it important for you to meet with all the coaches, and try to bond with them? Try to figure out how they coach.
BRANDON: Yea, I want to build a good relationship with them after this visit. I’ve talked to coach Gibson, but I haven’t met the whole staff yet. I want to get to know them, and see how they do things at Michigan.
TOM: Let’s say you go to Michigan, and it blows you away. Is there a chance you would commit on the spot, or are you going to be more strategic about it?
BRANDON: I’m going to come home and be strategic about it, that’s for sure. I really don’t want to rush through anything. I do want to take some official visits come fall, because we have plenty of time.
TOM: What official visits do you think you’ll take?
BRANDON: More than likely, maybe 3 or 4. I’ll probably go back up to Michigan for an official, and then Maryland, and maybe Rutgers.
TOM: I know you said that Michigan and Maryland are your top two right now. How did it come down to those two?
BRANDON: Michigan, I’ve known coach Gibson for awhile, even when he was at West Virginia. Maryland, I’ve been there the most, and I just really like everything about the school.
TOM: You said you want to take an official to Michigan. Do you think that would be with Cullen (Christian), or do you want to go on your own?
BRANDON: I’m not sure, it depends on if the coaches want us to do that. We tried to come up together before, but they wanted us to come up individually, so they could focus on us as one family rather than together.
TOM: That makes sense. Michigan is recruiting you more for the safety position. Is that the same with other schools? Maryland for example, are they also recruiting you for wide receiver?
BRANDON: Yea, Michigan is recruiting me for safety and corner. Maryland is also recruiting me for wide receiver.
TOM: Which do you prefer?
BRANDON: I really don’t prefer. I didn’t think it was going to be like this. I’ve been playing everything my whole career, so it’s nothing new to me.
TOM: After you take all your visits, and sit down with your family, do you think you and Cullen will make the decision and announcement together, or will it just be on your own?
BRANDON: We’ll talk about it, and see if we want to do it together. I’ll definitely talk to him before I make a decision, and he’ll do the same. When we first started all this, we banked on the fact that we would be a package deal, but now it’s kind of, if it happens it happens. We have seen the process, and what goes into it. We see different things, and want to enjoy that ourselves.
Hi. I'm formerlyanonymous. You may recognize me from other Michigan sports blogs as Maize 'n Brew and Varsity Blue. For those of you not familiar with my posts, my primary topic has been Michigan baseball. Obviously the season is a well over, but I'm also following our players through their summer leagues. There are plans on the table to include more non-revenue sports in the future, and info on that will come after the dust of MGoMerger settles.
Also, for those with concerns about "non-revenue sports clogging your mgoblog internet tubes," the current plan is for my posts to be presented on Sundays. Brian's previous football season schedules have generally left Sunday open for reflection on the previous days game with the column like post on Monday. I'm hoping these non-revenue posts will take up that open space and not interfere too much with your football dependency – at least during the football season.
To see the previous summer baseball update, visit Varsity Blue (July 4th Edition). Also, those of you familiar with the team or my previous posts, I'll try to remember to include some information on who these players are in this post, but I'll go ahead and apologize up front. You're basically walking into the last line before the credits of a movie. You've missed all of the introductions, action, climax, and a majority of the falling action. I promise there will be less parentheses in future posts.
Honors – Several players have received honorable mention for Pitcher and Hitter of the Nights, as well as Team Players of the Week. Hitter and Pitcher of the Night are named by SummerBall. Charts:
|7/9||Tyler Mills||Northwoods||Hitter of the Night Honorable Mention||2/4, HR, 3 RBI, R|
|7/11||Tyler Burgoon||Cape Cod||Pitcher of the Night Honorable Mention||1 IP, 3 K|
|7/16||Kevin Vangheluwe||Northwoods||Pitcher of the Night Honorable Mention||1 IP, K|
|7/17||Matt Miller||Northwoods||Pitcher of the Night Honorable Mention||2 IP, BB, 4 K|
|7/24||Mike Dufek||Leesburg||Player of the Week||On Sunday,went 3/5 with HR, and a walk of single|
The Cape Cod League (the most respected league) – Tyler Burgoon (Michigan's sophomore closer) has continued to be the best Michigan player this summer and ergo making the most news. As of the 20th, he’s racked up 17.1 innings of work with a 1-1 record and a 0.00 ERA. His 9 saves lead the league and his 27 strikeouts (14.2 per 9 innings) is ridiculous. He made the Cape Cod All Star Game at Fenway, but alas, the rain ended the game in just the 4th inning. He was slated to throw the 9th (or as necessary). Meanwhile, Ryan LaMarre (Michigan's starting left fielder and 3-hole hitter) still struggles, but less badly by comparison. He’s now got his average up to .243, good for third on the Gateman team. He’s also second on the team in RBIs with 12.
Prospect League – Garrett Stephens (back up 1st baseman who sees time when Dufek pitches) represented UM and the Richmond RiverRats at the Prospect League All Star game. He’s currently 8th in the league with 21 RBIs. John Lorenz hasn’t seen much playing time since the last update.
Lima Locos – Lots of good has been coming out of Lima lately. Kolby Wood (occasional 4th starter) has his ERA down to 0.66 in 11 relief appearances stretching 13.2 innings. His three saves are good for second on the team, which makes me contemplate his role next season for Michigan. Could we see another attempt at moving Burgoon to starter and put Kolby Wood as the closer? Looks good on paper right now.
Meanwhile, Bobby Brosnahan (redshirted last year as a freshman) is cruising right along with a 2.35 ERA over 15 innings pitched thus far. He’s making his case to be a middle inning or set up guy next season as a redshirt freshman. The last Michigan player with the Locos is short stop Anthony Toth (starter) has raised his average from .215 to .281 and has played solid defense.
Also, Toth was interviewed in a piece about baseball gloves by the LimaOhio.com. To give you a small sample of why baseball budgets are fairly large:
“We have a contract at Michigan with Louisville Slugger. The rep just came, had a bunch of models out and we got to pick out whichever one felt best. I went with that one and it worked out pretty well. … I think this is a $320 glove.”
That’s just one glove for one player. Not multiply that by the 20 or so on the roster, plus backup gloves each player probably has, you’ve got yourself quite the bill just for fielding gloves.
Alexandria Beetles – Again with the closers Michigan’s been developing, Matt Miller (one of our setup men) has 7 on the season, 4 in the last three weeks. He’s dropped his ERA a full run over that time. Kevin Vanghelwue (saw very limited time during the season and what he did wasn't good) also is pitching better and has lowered his ERA almost 2 runs. Tyler Mills (redshirted as a freshman this year) isn’t playing much. The freshman is just 6/36 hitting in limited playing time.
Valley League – At Fort Royal, Jeff DeCarlo (left handed reliever who saw little time) is pitching so far above his normal level I’m just perplexed. The guy has a 2.35 ERA now, and since the last update he’s thrown 5 appearances (9.2 IP) and only given up one earned run. He hasn’t even hit a batter in that stretch. He got a save? Who is this guy? His teammate Kevin Krantz (redshirted as a freshman this year) has tailed off and seems to be seeing less and less playing time. Krantz's defense has been spotty at best at third/shortstop. His batting average has also fallen .050 points to .239.
At Winchester, Brandon Sinnery’s (another occasional fourth starter) had a rough 3 starts, but his team has bailed him out each time. His ERA jumped from 2.00 to 4.31, but he has kept his 9 K’s-per-9-IP. Teammate Matt Gerbe (one of our setup men) continues to watch his ERA fall, this time from 9.69 to 6.29. It’s good to see he’s doing better since moving back to the bullpen.
Mike Dufek for the Lightning
Leesburg Lightning – Alan Oaks (right fielder and pitcher) went 1-1 over three starts in the last 3 weeks. His ERA has dropped to only 3.89, but his strikeout to walk ratio over the last 3 starts is 9:7 which isn’t good. Those walks have to go down. Eric Katzman (left handed pitcher) has just one relief inning in three weeks. He’s become buried in the pitching depth it looks like.
Mike Dufek (first base and sometime closer) has held down the closer role for the most part, recording 2 saves in 3 outings in the last three weeks. Not much playing time, but he’s made the most of it to a 0.93 ERA. At the plate, Dufek is only hitting .268, but he has cut down his K’s per At-Bat to just about 1-in-5. During the season he was closer to 1-in-4 at bats. It became crippling at times. I think our strategy for next season should mimic the MLB All Star Game. Let’s just throw 5 closers to shut down every game.
Travis Smith – Looks like Smith (3rd or 4th starter) has lost his spot in the rotation. After a few tough luck losses of the 1-0 variety, he lost two ugly starts over the last 3 weeks and was then used out of the bullpen. He’s currently 0-5 with a 4.58 ERA. Not good my friends.
Coley Crank – Crank’s (backup catcher or designated hitter) struggling. He’s still the everyday catcher, but his average is down to .198, third lowest on the team and lowest regular starter.
Matt Broder – Despite Broder's (redshirted as a freshman this season) team’s horrible website, I ran by an article in The Observer. Broder went the full 7 innings complete game, facing only 24 batters in the effort. Great job Matt.
So I got an email yesterday predicting the departure of a quarterback from Florida and thought to myself "oh God, not Denard Robinson."
Well, it wasn't Denard Robinson. Sophomore-to-be slot receiver Justin Feagin is no more:
"Justin Feagin was dismissed from the team for a violation of team rules Thursday evening," head coach Rich Rodriguez said in a statement.
That's ambiguous as to whether the dismissal or the violation came Thursday, but I'm guessing it's the former.
I'm of two minds about the departure. On the one hand, it would be hard to pick out a player on the roster whose departure would be less likely to impact Michigan's performance on-field both this year and going forward. Feagin was a late flier Michigan took on the off chance he might be a viable quarterback. He was not and got bounced to slot receiver, where he wasn't a factor. With the spring emergence of Roy Roundtree and availability of freshmen Terrance Robinson (a redshirt), Jeremy Gallon, and Je'Ron Stokes, he didn't figure to be a factor in the fall. And it's not like slot receiver looks like a thin spot going forward; enough bits have been spilled about Michigan's receiver-mad recruiting class to fill all the tubes of the internets.
On the other hand, Feagin is the first Rodriguez recruit to leave [UPDATE: forgot about Taylor Hill, who left almost before he arrived] and did so in inauspicious circumstances. The email yesterday provided some murky detail on the violation of team rules and it's the sort of thing that is a no-BS immediate seeya type of thing. I'll let the actual journalists ferret out the details, as one anonymous, if prescient email does not a solid story make. I'd be surprised if it didn't end up in the papers eventually.
Though this kind of thing happens at a certain rate to all programs, it's another opportunity for evil bad PR gnomes to stroke their beards and mutter sagely about What Is Going On In Ann Arbor. And I (baselessly) liked the kid. How could you not, given the picture at right?
Also: you can subtract at least one additional point from Michigan's APR, which isn't going to be fatal or anything but it ain't good. Also also: I have Michigan at 20 scholarships for 2010 now, assuming that Cone and Wright don't get fifth years.
Hi. MGoBlog was a one man show, and then a guy I didn't know emailed me a bunch of stuff about how he was pretty sure Bryce McNeal was going to decommit given his Facebook status updates and wall posts. As per standard policy, I noted the information and didn't say anything about it since the tipster in question hadn't proven his mettle. Bryce McNeal proceeded to decommit, and Tom VanHaaren proposed he function as an MGoBlog recruiting correspondent using the magic of the internets (and, soon after, his phone).
I'd been thinking that social media was an untapped source of information and agreed, and soon started posting things like Anthony Fera chillin' with JoePa based on Tom's sleuthin' and talkin'. Tom set to providing a ton of valuable content and being the main force behind much of the news this site has managed to break in the last seven or eight months. It's surpassed all my expectations, and just goes to show that if you find someone with the right skill set and put them in the right spot, Good Things result.
MGoBlog is absorbing Varsity Blue, and intends to deploy Tim Sullivan as an internet-aware beat writer this fall. We've talked with the athletic department—which has been shockingly open and helpful with all this—and Tim is good to go. Paul will also join up in a capacity we'll work out as we go along—he's got a "job" that requires him to "go to work". Formerly Anonymous' outstanding baseball content will be imported 99% untouched. Important: I will not be writing any less.
This represents quite a reversal from MGoBlog's previous position on being a primary source and requires some explanation. So:
I don't plan on being the guy. One: I'm bad at it. Two: I'm good at other stuff. I've spent four years developing an expertise that has nothing to do with the tasks commonly associated with sports journalism. That expertise has propelled this blog to a living and represents a nigh-insurmountable hurdle for any other organization to clear. Spending my time doing something other than that's pretty dumb. So I won't.
I'd like to remain insulated from the corrupting influences of access*, and this arrangement will allow me to do that, mostly. The threat of losing access for your content is unavoidable once you start to benefit from it, but this site has already positioned itself as a site that's usually in Michigan's corner. I know they monitor this site and others, closely. They have not mentioned any issues.
The Varsity Blue guys all bring valuable expertise to the table. Paul and Tim were longtime WOLV stalwarts and have a four-plus-years head start on me in the stuff I'm bad at. As you might imagine, they also can do stuff with video that is extremely helpful on the web. And FA has encyclopedic knowledge of Michigan baseball, again something I lack. They all can use bigger platforms, and by joining up they can use some of the institutional cred I've accumulated over the past four years.
I think it can work. I'm not sure if twentysomething beatwriter with an internet orientation who might ask questions like "what's the deal with that formation where Greg Mathews is covered up in the slot?" will bring a ton of value to the table but it's at least worth an experiment. I'm going into this with the expectation it will be a two-year trial on both the part of the AD and MGoBlog, one that might not work. But think it will be valuable.
Offloading a portion of the daily burden should allow me to focus on some other stuff. Mostly this refers to recruiting, which VB already covers with aplomb. I plan on handing off a significant chunk of it to them, which will give me some extra time to work on research-heavy posts and more columns and whatnot.
This will also necessitate some changes as far as the presentation of information goes. Right now there's just a front page that gets updated 1-4 times daily and then the diaries and message board. More stuff will be hitting the front page now and we'll have to work to make that make sense for readers. I've always tried to avoid bombarding readers with way too much stuff to grok; that's going to be tougher now.
As always, try to bear with us—and it's now an actual us!—as we feel our way through this… undiscovered country. Spock.
Tim's first foray here is a trip to the Big Ten Media Days, where he will hopefully end up less pwned than I did.
*(I don't want to write something critical in UFR and have to worry about whether the player in question will give me the evil eye. And I don't want to get all friendly with another guy and pull my punches. Sportswriter bravado about facing down the subjects of your pieces is just testosterone.)