"Northwestern fans can be both heartened and disheartened by the loss to Minnesota just like how nineteenth-century resurrectionists were heartened when they pried a heart from a freshly-buried corpse and then disheartened it when they sold it to a disreputable anatomist."
In a little over two seasons of Michigan baseball coverage, I've seen highs and I've seen lows. In 2008, Michigan had an outstanding class of upperclassmen, perhaps their best since the 1980s. When they left, some to graduation, others who left early to the draft, Michigan was left with a huge void. In one year, Michigan went from a first place team in the Big Ten to one of the worst teams in the conference.
The 2010 season was supposed to be the first step to rebuilding. Michigan had two powerful senior captains. They had Ryan LaMarre, a guy now looking at being drafted in the first two rounds of the MLB draft. The pitching depth was there. They may have lacked the big star on the mound, but they were going to be good.
On Saturday, Michigan faced Iowa in a chance to make the Big Ten Tournament Championship. The game went much like the rest of the season. Michigan opened with a bang. The offense exploded. After it went quiet, the pitching held strong. But when the pitching left, so did much of Michigan's hopes for the NCAA.
Recap, and a look back at the big picture… or excel graph. However you want to look at it…, and a look forward after the jump.
Saturday 3:35pm ET
Notes: Michigan is 102-45 all time.
Iowa is 2-1 in the tourney, 0-1 vs UM.
Michigan lost to Minnesota 4-3 in 11 innings in one of the most thrilling Big Ten Baseball games in this writer's recent memory. The loss was pretty tough to take, but at the same time, Michigan doesn't seem to be stunned. The Wolverines will face Iowa in the loser's bracket for a chance to face Minnesota again in the Championship rounds.
Follow the jump for extremely abbreviated preview.
GBW is reporting a commitment($) from Columbus DeSales defensive end Chris Rock. Rock visited for the BBQ and was widely regarded a possible commit going in; it took a little longer but he did indeed sign up. Rock has the offer list of a solid four star, with Nebraska, Michigan, Oregon, Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Pitt, and West Virginia among his suitors.
More later after we sift through a thousand links about that other guy named Chris Rock. This is going to be worse than Michael Schofield's commitment.
[Ed: Tim's update below.]
Michigan has gained a commitment from OH DE Chris Rock. Not that Chris Rock.
|3*, #49 DE||250 Watchlist DE||46, NR DE|
Scout says that, although he's a talented DE/TE in high school, there's a chance he could play defensive tackle at the next level:
Rock had another fine season at DeSales. He plays defensive end and tight end currently, but could possibly be a defensive tackle at the next level. Needs to continue to add strength, but has good size and plays with intensity...
As a sophomore he projects as a TE/DE but he's got the physical build to become a OT/DT in the coming years. Very good player who will have played and started at the varsity level for four seasons.
They list his strengths as "Body Control and Balance" and "Intensity/Effort," while saying he needs to improve "Lateral Range" and "Strength." He also describes his own game:
“I work really hard and have a great motor. I’m not the strongest kid, so I use my quickness to my advantage. I’m very disciplined.
“I definitely want to get stronger. I’m also working on my passing rushing moves and learn more moves.”
He's listed consistently at 6-5, and reports on his weight fall in the 235-260 range. GBMW took in a DeSales game, and gave a quick rundown of his physical appearance:
Chris stated his size at 6”5 and 250 pounds. His father appears to be marginally taller than Chris, leading to the possibility that Chris may not be finished in his vertical ascension. There is clear room for Chris to put 20 plus pounds on his frame. Chris does not appear to have much interest in the usual measurements of 40 time and bench press figures. But around 4.9 seemed to be the likely 40-time number.
The usual groaning about the quality of writing on that site applies, but it's still informative. From his next game:
Chris does not mind mixing it up, a trait that is an absolute necessity for a college defensive lineman, where the environment is one of survival of the fittest with no mercy asked or given. Chris contained pretty well all night and several times tackled guys outside the pocket area. He did not get locked up often. Chris also applied good pressure and used those long arms to knock down several passes. Chris rushes the pocket reasonably well, but as of yet is not the rare lightning fast edge rusher every university craves.
So: he's a pass rusher, but not an elite physical specimen like, say Brandon Graham or Craig Roh. That hasn't stopped him from being the most disruptive player on a DeSales defense that has featured several D-1 recruits.
Ohio State recruiting guru Duane Long has had him pegged as high as the third best player in Ohio(!). In any class, that position would be a lock for 4-star status, and potential for 5-star. Not sure where Long currently slots Rock, though certainly lower than he did before. How much of that is on the basis of reduced production due to illness or injury his senior year?OFFERS
At the beginning of his junior season, he already held offers from the likes of Notre Dame, Pitt, Cincinnati, and Duke. He followed up with most of the non-Ohio State Big Ten, Nebraska, Stanford, West Virginia, and others. He wasn't getting the attention of the USC/Florida/Alabamas of the world, but a solid BCS-level offer sheet is nothing to sneeze at. Nebraska's offer, given Bo Pelini's eye for talent, is also a big deal.
Michigan and Notre Dame were his long-standing top two, until the Irish filled up at defensive end and pulled his offer. He recently told Tom he would be deciding soon, and the BBQ at the Big House may have help push him even closer. A late Oregon offer slowed down the decision process very slightly, but he chose the Wolverines this afternoon.
His ESPN profile says he notched 64 tackles and 15 sacks as a sophomore. As a junior, he was fighting through either illness or injury through most of his football season, and his production dropped off considerably. My estimates based on game articles are in the 50-tackle range, and he had 11.5 sacks including a three-sack outing against Cincinnati Wyoming and future teammate Jibreel Black:
"We definitely harp about our defense being the heart of the team," [Rock] said. "All week, our coaches kept telling me to stay low and get pressure on the quarterback. I knew their quarterback was quite a runner. We had to control him..."
"Chris was sort of in a zone," coach Ryan Wiggins said.
In his next game, DeSales lost to Youngstown Cardinal Mooney and another of Rock's future teammates, Ray Vinopal. That ended DeSales's playoff run.
He showed off some athleticism with a 55-yard interception return against New Albany, and a punt block against Findlay. There's significantly less talk about his performances on offense, but a 33-yard TD catch in a playoff game was notable. From the sounds of things, DeSales had a ground-oriented attack.
He was named 2nd-Team All-State on the defensive line, the only 2011 prospect so honored.
FAKE 40 TIME
JJHuddle provides a nice FAKE 40 time:
The 6-foot-5 and 255-pound Rock is a talented athlete in a big body. Rock runs the 40-yard dash in 4.8 seconds and is also a key reserve on a very good DeSales basketball team.
That's slightly FAKE for a guy whose scouting reports unanimously indicate he doesn't have great speed - even for a defensive end. I'll give it four FAKEs out of five.
Junior year highlights from ScoutingOhio:
You can also see a highlight video of DeSales's loss to Cincinnati Anderson, in which Rock alternates good pressure with giving up contain. There are a couple more individual game and highlight videos available on Youtube.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
From the sounds of things, Rock is something of a tweener between a big strongside defensive end, and a potential defensive tackle down the line. That'll actually work out well at Michigan, where he can play defensive end in a 3-man front, or tackle on passing downs. His athleticism and size combination probably means he won't be an elite pass rusher, but can still get into the backfield a little bit.
He can be penciled in at Ryan Van Bergen's defensive end position. When Rock arrives on campus, Van Bergen will be a redshirt senior, with a number of prospects from the classes of 2010 (Jibreel Black and Terry Talbott) and 2009 (Anthony LaLota) littering the roster, he's a near-lock to redshirt to add weight and strength under Mike Barwis's program.
Following his redshirt season, it will probably take Rock a couple years to earn significant playing time in the rotation, considering all the guys ahead of him. By the time he's a redshirt junior and senior, he could become a starter, with potential All-Conference (but not likely All-American) potential in his final season.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Rock is the first true big guy in a 2011 class that should be pretty heavy on them. At least one more defensive lineman, a nose tackle, is guaranteed to end up in this class, and there's potential for even more than that. Either another nose tackle, or potentially another big-ish defensive end could join the fold as well.
Michigan continues to pick up commitments from prospects who play positions other than those considered to the most important: offensive line and linebacker. With each commitment at a different position, it reduces the number of spots available for non-OL/LBs. A couple more spots will go to offensive skill players and defensive backs, but expect the focus to be on those two positions of need.
Hopefully Rock's commitment is a sign that Michigan is going back in the "defenders with badass names" direction, peaking in the mid-90s with the likes of Foote, Steele, Sword, et al.
St. Francis DeSales pumps out talent each year, including Travis Jackson of Michigan State, Chi Chi Ariguzo of Northwestern, and Adam Griffin of Ohio state in last year's class alone. The class of 2008 brought Patrick Omameh to Michigan, and it never hurts to develop pipelines at talent factories.
I was wondering if you could give me some insight on why we haven't taken the leap in going Varsity with our lacrosse programs. We appear to have one more women's sport than men's at the varsity level (women's rowing is varsity, men's rowing is club), so would that make it easier to add a men's sport under Title IX? If Lacrosse were the next sport to go varsity, would we also take the women's program?
Title IX compliance isn't based on the number of sports but the number of participants, which gives football a big overhang and usually forces everyone to carry at least one more women's sport than they do men's. For some reason, even rostered walk-ons count in Title IX calculations. Here's an ESPN article about K-State's 124-member football team that takes the stance that the problem in this scenario is lots of walk-ons and not the stupidity of counting a player who's not adding anything more than the cost of his pads to the athletic department's expenses.
Adding lacrosse as a varsity sport will necessitate the addition of a women's sport. I am not aware of any that have the organization or success that lax does, but some club team is going to get lucky.
Title IX, at least as it applies to college athletics, seems outdated to me. When 57% of college students are women the gender to be concerned about has switched, and when a sport like football takes in millions of dollars it seems like it shouldn't count at all. It's supposed to be about equal support, and football doesn't require support in many places.
Have you ever determined, if it's even possible to determine, how many national championship games Bo would have coached, if the BCS system existed while he was a coach?
It will depend on what crazy mixed up BCS system you want to adopt. Since the Harris Poll didn't exist when Bo was around, you can't replicate the current system. Since that current system is the final expression of "the voters are always right," though, we can just use the AP poll as a proxy. If we're going by that, Bo would have played in the national title game in 1976, when Michigan was #2 and had eight first-place votes. They would have played #1 Pitt.
There were a ton of close calls, though: 1989 (#3), 1986 (#4), 1985 (#5), 1978 (#5), 1977 (#4), 1974(#4), 1973 (#5), 1971 (#4 despite being 11-0). With many of those votes close and between teams will wildly varying schedules, the computers might have been able to swing Michigan into a title game in one of those years.
this thought was spurred by your mention of Boise St potentially being included in the Mtn West. Do you think that if Big 10 expansion steals Missouri & Nebraska away from the Big 12, it might lay the groundwork for TCU & Utah (maybe Boise, as well?) to step in to fill those vacated spots? Given these recent bits I've read about the Pac 10 and Big 12 working together to seal the deal on TV contracts west of the Mississippi, it seems to make sense that both leagues might be up for welcoming in the hot non-BCS schools out there. In fact, maybe the PAC-10 opens it's doors to Boise??
I know you've been critical of teams like Boise rising into the spotlight, due to strength of schedule issues. I definitely see where you're coming from, but I think it's great for the game to have teams like that step up. I do think this kind of seismic shift/realignment/expansion is an opportunity for these non-BCS teams to come to the table with the big boys and really prove their worth. Funneling teams like Boise, Utah & TCU into the 2 major conferences on the left side of the country really would make things pretty interesting, and, IMO, ends the possibility of BCS-busters, at least for awhile. Boise St joining the MWC really just continues the problems that already exist, even if the conference moves toward an automatic bcs bid. I think I'd rather have the good teams from the MWC sucked out into the BCS conferences, and have the remainder of the WAC & MWC relegated into a B-league with little chance of bursting the BCS bubble. What do you think?
Will be interesting to follow, for sure.
The way the current system is set up there is almost nothing a team like Boise State can do to actually deserve placement in the national title game. Any team from a BCS conference with one loss and a decent nonconference game or two is going to vastly exceed Boise's worthiness. One or two games against Pac-10 teams a year does not make a viable candidate when the chances of you, or any other serious national title contender, losing against the remainder of the WAC is close to zero. That's my only problem with Boise. Move them to the Mountain West and now maybe we're talking.
If we're talking about my ideal version of college football, it would be seven setups like the Pac-10 has now: ten team conferences that play a round robin. This would never happen, of course. Personally, I'd rather have the MWC as a second Big East than jamming more and more teams into big conferences with no clear winners.
Attached is a spreadsheet showing our redzone efficiency since 2003. I have tracked various stats from the 2003 season forward and this happened to be one of them. This is % of points scored based on 7 pts per trip. Before the Illinois game we were right about average on offense and much better on defense (about the only thing the defense had consistently done well, thank God, otherwise things could really be ugly). I couldn’t find the national numbers prior to 2007 so I used an average of 2007-2009 (to date). The national numbers are assuming no 2 pt conversion and no missed xps. At that sample size I can’t imagine the other years straying too far from this figure.
National average: 69%
|Offense||RZ Trips||RZ pts||RZ efficiency||Defense||RZ Trips||RZ pts||RZ efficiency|
|2009 (wo/ Ill)||31||153||71%||2009 (wo/ Ill)||30||120||57%|
What does this say? I'm not really sure other than maybe Red Zone efficiency isn't incredibly important. The horrible 2008 offense was not that far off the average and actually better than the 2004 and 2005 teams; the beyond horrible 2009 defense was actually considerably above average.
BONUS Dead Horse Beatin' during Dead Horse Beatin' Week on MGoBlog! A promise: this is the very last thing written about the Free Press in this space.
On the Day of Slight Reckoning I mentioned that the epic seven-page Free Press article addressing it failed to even mention the U's assertion that the initial reports were "greatly exaggerated if not flatly incorrect." I should point out that Rosenberg's follow up article which, like all of these articles, quotes some guy named Michael Buckner—the News, Free Press, and AA.com have all quoted this guy in the last couple days in multiple articles for each—touches briefly on the University's pointed shot:
"When the media reports painted a picture of serious student-athlete abuse, the university immediately investigated these claims, as its primary concern has always been the welfare of its student athletes. ... The university is satisfied that the initial media reports were greatly exaggerated if not flatly incorrect."
Numerous former players, current players and parents of players told the Free Press that the football team violated NCAA rules that govern practice and workout sessions during the season and off-season. The players also described quality-control staff members handling voluntary seven-on-seven scrimmages.
In any event, the infractions committee is unlikely to spend much, if any, time on media reports.
Obviously, this is a response that completely fails to address the criticism leveled by the university: the picture painted by the initial article made it seem like Rodriguez was an uncaring task-master violating NCAA regs willy-nilly in a demonstration of his will to power. It then dismisses the importance of "media reports" to the committee. As defenses go it's… well, it meets the exacting standards of the Free Press. Jon Chait demolished the original piece (again) a couple days ago and I'll just quote him:
The paper reported that "the Wolverines were expected to spend two to three times more than the eight hours allowed for required workouts each week." It further alleged, "Players spent at least nine hours on football activities on Sundays after games last fall. NCAA rules mandate a daily 4-hour limit." And it further portrayed this alleged epidemic of rule-flouting as the product of Rich Rodriguez's obsession with conditioning, and the near-mania of his prized assistant Mike Barwis - a natural conclusion from the article's anonymous sourcing from players and parents of players disgruntled with the new coaching regime. The Free Press article breaking the allegations is entitled, "A look inside Rodriguez's rigorous program."
Chait has also addressed the infuriating Free Press editorial, for which I thank him because now I can just close it and not write and delete several paragraphs with a curse density immense enough to make a Scotsman blush.
If you want a truly comprehensive breakdown of all the ways in which the article was sensationalized, this site will wear out even the most dedicated torch-bearer. The best high-level view from me is probably the Words on Agenda And Bias in the aftermath of the Great Albom What-Is-Your-Job Debacle. If you're looking for something shorter and in a very narrow column, that guy who still reads the Free Press because he wonders "how was Rosenberg supposed to determine what was true and what was not?"—guh—received a number of responses, the best from Section 1 and M-stache, in a thread that oscillated from dismissive flaming to patient explanation from better men than I.
After all of it poor neg-bombed MgoMatt, the poster of that thread, returned to edit his original post like so:
EDIT: Based on the responses below, I suppose my standards for responsible journalism are pretty low. I blame 24 hour cable news.
True. But Matt's standards are also the exact same ones Rosenberg and the rest of the Free Press hold themselves to. Note the defense above: "players told us this." How were they to know different? People said things, the Free Press reported them. Asking for anything else is madness, and anyone questioning the framing of the story… well, we're objective. We just happen to find it "sad" that Rich Rodriguez is Michigan's coach, you know, objective-like.
ESPN's dealt with a number of screwed up recent stories featuring anonymous sourcing, leading to an apropos column from ESPN ombudsman Don Ohlmeyer:
In theory, anonymous sources are a last resort. Reporters are challenged to get people to speak on the record, but sometimes that's just not possible. If the source remains unnamed, it must be a trade-off for candor and quality of information. Of course, there are times when information a source ardently believes to be true … turns out to be false. That's why independent corroboration by a reporter is key. Bad sourcing or lax oversight can result in the equivalent of a journalistic drive-by shooting, aided and abetted by information cloaked in a shroud of anonymity.
Check, check, check, straight outta Compton. So it goes.
[ed: bumped despite deployment of worst photo of yrs truly ever.]
“…if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.” –Nietzsche
Son of a bitch. It’s happening. Quit lookin’ at me, abyss.
In 1960 JFK referred to himself as “…a graduate of the Michigan of the East, Harvard University.” I’ve always thought of that as a high compliment towards Michigan. Now, however, I also recognize the glint of the hex that was unwittingly cast upon us on that day. Upon uttering those words, the 35th P.O.T.U.S not only saluted the University of Michigan’s academic excellence, but he also set our crown jewel onto a collision course with gridiron suckitude. Allow me to explain.
I recently came across an article from 1949 in The Harvard Crimson. The article is over 3000 words long, but the first shiver slithered up my spine before I had even reached the byline: “Alumni, Doing Nothing, Scream for Blood After Worst Season Ever.” By the time I had finished reading the article—A Clockwork Orange style—my spine was a full blown electric eel in the throes of a nervous breakdown.
It’s hard to resist full verse recitation of the whole article but, here some highlights:
There are references to Harvard’s recruiting footprint and the need for MOAR
- The authors bitch about being charged “$4.20 or even $3.60 to see Harvard play an obviously poor football opponent.” Oh, the humanity! It’s weird though because throughout the article they vacillate their complaints between playing cannon fodder and actually being cannon fodder.
- There are reports of familiar alumni complaints a la, “Hurr, hurr…get off my lawn with that new fangled, Crisler-style, single-wing offense and two-platoon system; you…you Michigander, you. Gimme back my Power T.”
And two choice excerpts from the article
“[Current coach] ought to adapt his system to fit his players, the way ‘good old [retired coach] used to do.’ "
But the crucial concern right now is that no attempt to change the situation involve the firing of [Current coach], who may not be the genius he was hailed as last year but who is certainly doing his best--and a definitely competent best--with what material he has.
Go ahead and do whatever it takes to rid yourself of those heebie-jeebies; I’ll wait. Seriously, it’s like Brian himself had been warped to 1949 via the way back machine to write that article. It’s impossibly eerie; much like this ancient statue of
Michael Jackson an anonymous Egyptian woman and this authentic picture of Brian some bespectacled dude with long hair in a block M tee shirt.
[ed: more disturbing parallels between Harvard circa 1950 and present-day M after the jump.]
Friday 7:00pm ET
|Bobby Brosnahan||vs||TJ Oakes|
Notes: Michigan is 85-86 all time.
Minnesota is 1-0 in the tourney.
Michigan defeated Iowa in an absolutely dominating performance, winning 18-4. With the win, Michigan moves on in the winner's bracket to face the #1 seed Minnesota Golden Gophers. For Iowa recap and a look at Minnesota, follow the jump.
Published reaction to the Day of Slight Reckoning has mostly fallen into two camps. One focuses on how the prideful block M has been brought low; addressing that is left for another post. The second shrugs at the end result, adds it to the ever-growing pile to strikes against Rodriguez, and quickly segues into a discussion of Rodriguez's presence on the proverbial hot seat, which is deemed hot indeed. Unlike last year, when a smattering of dips said Rodriguez was in danger of losing his job, there's no denying the reality of it: there are 2010 football seasons that end with Rodriguez getting run out of town on a rail.
How many are there? It will come as no surprise to anyone who's read this blog for a long time that I believe there are (and should be) considerably fewer than the popular conception does. Heck, I (and Dave from Maize 'n' Brew) just managed to convince Doug Gillett of this. For the last year and a half this space has been advocating radical patience.
For an example what seems to be the conventional wisdom, Bruce Feldman has a piece($) in which he repeatedly asks for much more than I think is reasonable for RR to deliver next year:
This is still Michigan, growing pains or not. This isn't a normal rebuilding job. Going 8-4 may not even be a strong enough sign that Michigan is rocketing back to the top and all of this tumult in the previous two years were worth it. …
Again, 8-4 might not be enough. Michigan needs to go back to winning like Michigan used to. Now.
Similarly, Dan Wetzel declares that setting the bar at a return to a bowl game is "incredibly low."
I had a twitter conversation with Feldman about this assertion a couple days ago. During that one of the tweets hit my main account—forgot the "d"—and thus the Facebooks, where it drew a chorus of raspberries because I asserted that going from 5-7 to 7-5 whilst replacing Baby Seal U with UConn would be "significant" progress. (It's since been pointed out that Michigan is playing a I-AA team next year so they're replacing with Eastern Michigan with UConn, but it's not like there's much difference between EMU and a horrible HBCU except when it comes to the entertainment provided by the marching band.) Patience is running low.
I know it's my role as the crazy fan blogger to demand the head of the coach when he fails to live up to my crazy expectations, but if we're seriously talking about an 8-4 regular season "not being enough" for Rodriguez to get a year four Michigan should have just fired him already. If this ends up being an 8-4 team the Mathlete's luck chart will have Michigan considerably on the happy side of the ledger.
- Aforementioned schedule upgrade.
- In games against non-baby-seals last year, Michigan was outgained 410-353 on average. They did not outgain any BCS opponent other than Purdue.
- The two-deep at safety, which covers three spots, has two walk-ons and zero upperclassmen. The corner depth is horrifying, as well.
- The quarterback depth chart also features zero upperclassmen.
- The scholarship breakdown looks like so: 11 seniors, 13 juniors, 20 sophomores, and 39 freshmen. The defense as a whole remains extremely young relative to competition:
The 2009 and 2010 classes make up about half of each unit for our rivals; for us it's about 75 percent..
- Only four seniors project as starters.
"This is still Michigan" is demonstrably false. Even in year three this remains a desperately young team with major holes in the secondary and no upperclass quarterbacks. Rodriguez's responsibility for the state of the state of the roster is limited to the absence of Terrelle Pryor, or any marginally acceptable option at quarterback from his first two months on the job, and a couple of would-be-sophomores Rodriguez did not add to the end of his first full recruiting class. You can wave your hands and say "Michigan! Rabble rabble rabble!" all you want but if you dressed these guys up like Generic State University people would expect them to go .500.
Progress is mandatory, but firing a guy because he's not healing lepers is unwise. This is a team that deserved to go 3-9 in 2008 and had four non-freshman defensive backs on the roster last year. Rebuilding from that is not a short-term operation. We've been through why this happened many times before; suffice it to say Rodriguez's margin of error to prevent a wholesale cratering was infinitesimal.
Later in Feldman's piece he says Rodriguez is an "excellent coach" and "proven winner" who "knows how to develop talent and motivate players." If this is the case—and everything in his coaching tenure before Michigan suggests so—why shouldn't Michigan give him the benefit of the doubt? They are not going to hire a coach with two BCS wins to his name next offseason. Patience is warranted. One year now (to be clear: 2011) has the potential to pay off with a 20-year stretch of success. While recruiting has suffered Michigan's classes are well within the range where Michigan can expect to compete for Big Ten championships when it is not operating with literally half the upperclassmen of its primary rivals.
My personal measuring stick for Rodriguez: yardage parity and a winning record. I would be displeased with 7-6 but willing to grit my teeth and give Rodriguez a shot in 2011, when he will return both specialists, every starter on offense save Steve Schilling and all but three starters on defense. That will seem exceptionally kind to many, I know, but literally no coach in the country could take the leftovers after Mallett's transfer and do anything other than flail as Rodriguez has.
2008 was a complete waste. To me, this is year two for Rodriguez, and 2011 is when I expect rubber to meet road.
Softball go. Reminder: tonight and tomorrow Michigan takes on Tennessee at Alumni Field for the right to advance to the Women's College World Series. Tomorrow's game is at 7:30 and is on ESPN (just plain ESPN); the Friday games are at 4:30 on ESPNU and (if necessary) 7:30 on ESPN2. Tickets are 5-10 bucks. Actual athletic competition between people! No documents at all!
For the billionth time. I linked this on the sidebar but I think it's worth posting up. Dave Brandon on Rodriguez and whatnot:
Insert the usual hosannas about Brandon and his ability to act as the face of the athletic department in tough times.
Be attractive in private, thanks. Remember Mike Cox doing a bit of modeling for Bivouac? Yeah, that was a secondary violation:
Nov. 11, 2009
The violation: A football player engaged in impermissible modeling for two local stores.
The punishment: The stores were issued cease-and-desist letters to remove all images of the player from their websites, and the athlete was declared temporarily ineligible. His eligibility was later restated.
That was one of nine Michigan football secondary violations since 2005 revealed in the document dump. The rest are pedestrian stuff involving a phone call here, 60 bucks there, etc. Birkett does point out that Michigan's had a relative paucity of secondary violations in comparison to Lane Kiffin, or Ohio State, which has averaged almost 42 per year for its athletic department over the last decade.
Oversigning ramps up.
The single dumbest thing written about the Day Of Slight Reckoning, non Hat Guy Edition. Yes, Hat Guy wrote something, and it exists in its own Hat Guy category, impervious to logic, reason, and the American Way. Outside of Hat Guy territory, the crown goes to Lynn Henning:
Once upon a time it was Michigan State that got into all the trouble. It was East Lansing where there were stability problems. …
Michigan State is now the regional example for how a Big Ten athletic program should be run. There was a bad mess with November's dormitory fracas. But between Mark Dantonio's reconstructed football program and Tom Izzo's spotless work in making MSU basketball an elite and ongoing force, MSU has become the Michigan of 20 and 30 years ago, while Michigan has taken MSU's unenviable place as the campus where too much bad sports news originates.
"Fracas"? The number of kids kicked off the team reached double digits! It was the second consecutive year a large group of Michigan State football players descended upon a group of innocent bystanders and heard the lamentation of the women! Just the most recent incident has outstripped the entire Rodriguez era when it comes to player arrests… by a factor of five! Dantonio was directly responsible for the second incident because he let Glenn Winston walk out of jail and directly on to a practice field! This is brushed off in a single sentence!
You think you could let six months pass without 20% of the Spartan team beating down some engineers before declaring it a paragon of righteousness and virtue. Apparently not. People on the board have mentioned that when you contact Henning he seems like a nice guy—one willing to listen—so there's that, but good Lord that's dumb.
Also, Mark Dantonio's "reconstructed" football program won one (one) more game than Michigan last year, losing to a MAC team along the way. If not for the fact that MSU was the second-luckiest team in the nation in 2008, Dantonio's first three years at Michigan State would look exactly like his three years at Cincinnati and the last 30 years of Spartan football.
Just when you think you're a hardened observer of sportswriters, incapable of being stunned into a series of italics-laced exclamations at the sheer stupidity of an argument, they go and prove you wrong. Hat Guy, by the way, made fun of Michigan for firing Herron for lying to the NCAA.
Maybe we can have something resembling competition? The American Needle decision handed down by the Supreme Court seems like the prelude to something instead of actually something—all they said is the lawsuit can go ahead—but the most relevant outcome may be a weakening of EA's iron grasp on sports games ever since 2K got uppity and EA started shoveling money at the leagues for exclusive licenses. This can only be good, as some of the 2K games were pushing, or far better than, EA's editions of the same.
In other video game news. Hot on the heels of the announcement that CHL teams will appear in NHL 2011, Paul Kelly of College Hockey, Inc. announces that colleges will appear as well:
"We've actually been in discussions with EA for a couple of weeks," Kelly began, "and while we don't have a formal announcement to make at this moment, we are certainly in discussions with EA Sports and they are very interested in having a college component to their game. We, the colleges, are very interested in having that happen and we are just currently in the process of figuring out what dimensions that ought to take."
Hockey players will be under the same restrictions as football and basketball players, but you'll be able to figure out who C #12 is. This might be short lived if the Ed O'Bannon case ends up going in favor of the plaintiffs: while EA will probably have to figure out a way to license likenesses for football and basketball, hockey will just get dropped.
Hockey destinations. Chris Dilks of Western College Hockey has a brief correction on Boo Nieves's plans:
Nieves was drafted by Indiana, but he's actually going to be attending Kent School in Connecticut next year, where he'll be coached by former Michigan captain Matt Herr, and then probably playing in the USHL for his senior year.
FWIW. The OHL is not a threat here.
As far as 2011 question mark Lucas Lessio goes, Waterloo's GM thinks they've got an excellent shot. They're also bringing in Alex Guptill (now Michigan's only other 2011 commit with Derek Deblois arriving this fall) and hope that will suffice as enticement:
We're taking a calculated risk," O'Handley said of Lessio. "We know he has options. Nick Ebert (current Black Hawk) has options, so it is no different. If you get him, to some degree you win the lottery.
"We wouldn't have done it if there was absolutely no way. We wouldn't have done it if it was 50-50. And, we're going to have to work hard to get him."
Note that the USHL has two drafts, the Futures Draft Nieves went in earlier, where players are not eligible this year but you can maintain their rights, and the Entry Draft, in which you get the guy's rights for a year and if you don't sign him you get nothing. Lessio was picked in the Entry Draft, so Waterloo's put a lot on the line to acquire him.
Speaking of that 2011 class, Michigan might need to get cracking on it. They lose Rust, Hagelin, Caporusso, Vaughn, Winnett, Llewellyn, Langlais, and Hogan after the season. They've got two forwards committed, leaving them to find another three forwards, two defenders, and a goalie if they're going to keep the same levels of roster depth. (Joel Vienneau, the Canadian goalie they were looking at for this year, committed to Minnesota for 2011.) They likely aren't—this fall's Michigan team will be the deepest I can ever remember—but they need at least another forward, defenseman, and goalie to feel comfortable going into '11, especially since there will be a number of flight risks next offseason.
Hockey lack of destinations. The buzz around the hockey program is that they would not lose anyone early to the NHL this year, and here's further confirmation of that from Mike Spath:
There is no rumored candidate expected to bolt for the NHL. In fact, the Wolverines seem to be taking a cue from forwards Louie Caporusso, Matt Rust and Carl Hagelin, who all declared their intentions to return for their senior seasons.
Also I must have missed this, but in April Michigan named captains: Hagelin gets the C (obvs), Glendening is the ultra-rare second captain as an ultra-rare junior (was the last one Ortmeyer? I think I'm missing one), and Rust and Caporusso get As.
Etc.: New Michigan blog Holdin' The Rope takes a page out of the OSU playbook and analyzes the development of Terrelle Pryor in the Rose Bowl. If you're wondering, no, Michigan's baseball team can't swing an at-large bid to the tournament.
Wetzel & Co at Yahoo break a major story about parts of the Kansas athletic department being complicit in Final Four ticket scalping, providing both a major story to blow Michigan's off the front page nationally and an example of how an investigative piece can be scrupulously fair. One complaint: late in the piece Yahoo cites "published reports" about complaints primo seats at Allen Fieldhouse are going to scalpers without even bothering to mention where the report was published.
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