Is this inane or brilliant? Like all the best newspaper headlines, I can't tell if this News editor is serious or making a terribly sly joke:
New names add flair to Big Ten for next season
Flair you say?
The awful periwinkle logo does look like it belongs on a button that says "my other car is the incorrect belief I have a sense of humor."
Oddly, multiple readers have emailed to inform that the agency who put together this debacle is "highly respected." I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around a marketing firm named "Pentagram," which seems deliberately mom-terrifying and reminds me of Dan Akroyd in goat leggings and generally seems like a thing you should avoid if you don't want to give off the wrong impression.
Meanwhile, the public loves it:
According to an unscientific poll on ChicagoTribune.com, 6 percent believe Legends and Leaders "represent what the Big Ten is all about," and 94 percent say, "You have to be kidding … is this the best they can do?"
Similarly, 93 percent of those responding to a midwestsportsfans.com poll voted for either "terrible" or "it makes me want to gouge my eyes out with a spoon." Others opted for "awesome" (2 percent) or "indifferent" (5 percent).
94%! You can't get 94% of people to condemn murdering six year olds these days. In two weeks all FAIL pictures on the internet will have been mysteriously replaced by images of Jim Delany.
The count. They announced 113,411 at the Big Chill by adding up every single person who was there and counting Red Berenson as six because obviously, but when Guinness sits down to actually put a number in the book it will be considerably smaller than that because they take a more restrictive view on what counts as a spectator:
The school counts players, media and others at the game to work. Guinness doesn’t count any of those people.
"It's a combination of scans with the barcodes on tickets," Janela said, explaining how Guinness reaches its number. "It's not for tickets sold but for people who actually show up. People who weren’t ticketed, marching band for instance, or people who were given special passes."
Media and players, he said, do not count in the numbers because they are not actually spectators of the game.
UPDATE: Wow. Guinness says the actual count was 85,451, which seems low.
Also from that article, a ref skated over to the Michigan bench after the Wohlberg extra-point celebration and said any more funny business would result in a penalty and Rick Comley said it was "uncalled for." The NFL infects all.
Speaking of. A reader emails that the XP is not lost to history:
I also broke a cardinal rule of game columns by not checking my feed before posting, so I missed an extensive WH highlight package:
Casteel Watch. Jeff Casteel remains the most plausible defensive coordinator candidate out there, having established a level of performance with the 3-3-5 that's become as impressive as Rodriguez's WVU offenses were. That level is "really impressive… for the Big East." Even with that BE caveat, WVU's defense is #1 in FEI this year and equally impressive in conventional metrics. The three years before this they were 33rd, 28th, and 8th. I'd be willing to roll with Rodriguez again if the band got back together.
Unfortunately, after two swings and misses the chances of that are miniscule unless Bill Stewart whittles on down that road. Fortunately, there are machinations afoot in Morgantown, with Oklahoma State OC Dana Holgorsen heavily rumored to be taking the job after Stewart coaches the bowl game*. Though a Smoking Musket rumor that Stewart was out was refuted on the twitters by multiple players, actual newspapers are saying that may be a matter of timing:
Sources confirmed today that a high-ranking official from West Virginia's athletic department has been in contact with Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen about the head coaching position at West Virginia, even as there is no vacancy. …
A source confirmed it is probable Stewart will be fired if West Virginia does not win that bowl game, and could happen regardless of the outcome. A win in the bowl game would give the Mountaineers a 10-win season.
It's possible Holgorsen would look at the defensive side of the ball and decide that he shouldn't fix what isn't broken but the chances of landing Casteel go from zero to non-zero if Stewart gets the boot. Let's hope NC State wins 3-0.
UDPATE: Newspaper type folk are reporting that Holgorsen is in as OC/coach in waiting and will replace Stewart after next year without touching the defensive coaching staff. Dangit.
*(Is it just me or are there an inordinate number of coaches in limbo this year? Usually it's fire and forget immediately after the regular season, but this year the coaching carousel has a number of schools half in, half out.)
Darius as mini-Denard part two. Way back on Friday Michigan dismantled Utah in an 11-point game that wasn't really as close as that, and people are beginning to pick up on Darius Morris's leap forward. Someone was asking about surprise teams on the most recent Big Ten conference call and both Tom Crean and Matt Painter cited Michigan, with Painter specficially mentioning Morris as the reason. Big Ten Geeks:
Darius Morris led the way with 19 points to go with 10 assists, and it’s hard to ignore his play so far this season. A role player last year, Morris has become much more assertive in running the offense. This is actually somewhat of an exception--role players don’t suddenly start consuming possessions over an offseason in general--but one should keep in mind that with Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims monopolizing the offense last season, there wasn’t much of an opportunity for Morris. It’s been a different story in his sophomore season, as Morris is quickly becoming one of the Big Ten’s best floor generals. He’s shooting an amazing (for a 6-4 guard) 61 percent from 2-point range, along with one of the best assist rates in the country.
At times in the Utah game the problem with the offense seemed to be Morris's lack of assertiveness—most of Michigan's worst possessions saw him with limited time on the ball.
If Morris is shooting 61% from two he's probably not shooting enough, which is an interesting problem to have. Last year Manny Harris was sucking up 30% of Michigan's possessions while shooting 48% inside the three-point line. The rest of the team shot at a higher clip, and while that was because Harris drew so much attention I often felt like the team would have been better if the shots were more evenly distributed.
This year Morris is killing people; the rest of the team is doing well but can't keep up. Major SOS caveats apply, but I think I'd like to see Morris try to get a few more shots off per game. A complicating factor is Morris's assist rate, which is fifth nationally—a major reason he's not getting off more shots is he's turning Jordan Morgan into a 61% shooter, too.
Speaking of Morgan, he bounced back from a couple of rough outings with solid, annoying post defense against Utah's bigs, who are very big indeed. UMHoops grabbed a sequence in which he took a couple offensive fouls:
I wish they'd also clipped the possession before that, in which Morgan went to war with Foster for the duration of the possession and eventually got an elbow to the head for his troubles. The ref let that go but was looking for any funny stuff on the next trip and got it when a pissed-off Foster barged into him. Foster's not any good offensively—his usage rate is an amazing 8.9%—but he also did a good job on Washburn, and this year I think all we're looking for out of Morgan is holding his own against the mediocre and beating the bad.
Morgan drew a third charge with help defense later, but since he was 1) moving and 2) directly underneath the basket in the pretend no-charge circle the NCAA instituted last year that was positive reinforcement of a negative play Michigan got lucky on.
OH SO TINGLY. I may not be a fan of Michigan Stadium hosting dancing curly fries but some of the things Dave Brandon is plotting are major compensations:
Q: You also have talked about new scoreboards for Michigan Stadium. Your vision is not Cowboys Stadium huge, but pretty huge?
A: Pretty huge. If you picture the size of those (current) scoreboards and maybe something that's 30 percent larger, 40 percent larger, but then the entire surface or at least the vast majority of the surface would be video screen. I think those scoreboards look wimpy now with this structure and then the fact the HD video portion is only about a third of the surface. We can't do what our fans want us to do in terms of showing them really high-resolution replays, game action and even a lot of the marketing stuff we're doing with videos and pre-game and halftime shows — these screens are just not acceptable. This is very old technology, and they don't look very good, either. Think 30 or 40 percent larger and think big-image area for high-definition resolution screens. I think our fans will love it.
If you have never been to a stadium with video boards that size, it's a massive difference. It is Brandon's "hope" they are in for 2011. Brandon also re-iterates that advertising for the Big Chill does not presage advertising during football games. That's part of an extensive interview with Angelique Chengelis, BTW, that you should check out.
Time to go. The Only Colors takes an unprecedented step for them and calls for the replacement of Rick Comley as Michigan State's head coach. Despite how much I've been enjoying this stretch in MSU hockey, I'm with them. This is the third straight year they'll miss the tourney and the second time in three years they're virtually indistinguishable from Bowling Green, a school that's considering dropping their program. This year is like Rich Rodriguez having another 3-9 year two years after his first, and while Comley does have a fluke national title that sort of thing shouldn't be survivable at a program like MSU.
Etc.: Doc Sat points out how weird it is that awards lists are featuring Denard Robinson as something other than a quarterback when they were fine with Eric Crouch, et al, as QBs. Robinson completed 60% of his passes… what more do you need? Basketball takes on North Carolina Central at 7 this evening.
For live updates of the games I'm attending, follow me on Twitter @varsityblue. If you can help out finding articles on any of the commits, @reply me on Twitter or e-mail me, and I'll try to include your contribution.
New Commit MI LB Desmond Morgan
Game 1. West Ottawa defeated Jackson 45-9. Video (Desmond is QB/LB #3 in White):
The Grand Rapids Press has a very brief rundown of his stats:
Desmond Morgan added 57 rushing yards and a touchdown.
Game 2. West Ottawa pasted Holland Christian 54-0. Stats:
Zac Boersema and Desmond Morgan scored two rushing touchdowns for West Ottawa.
Game 3. West Ottawa beat Grand Haven 29-15. Morgan features heavily in the article:
Desmond Morgan wasn't worried about his team's sloppy start. He knew his West Ottawa football team had the fight in it to claw its way back against Grand Haven...
"We believe in ourselves," said Morgan, West Ottawa's senior quarterback and linebacker. "We never got down on ourselves, and that helped us a lot. Everybody stayed positive, and that really impressed me." ...
But West Ottawa blocked a punt that led to a 1-yard touchdown run by Morgan near the end of the first quarter and got the Panthers going.
From there, Morgan hit sophomore wide receiver Ryan Verhelst on a 23-yard touchdown pass, then hit senior running back Zac Boersema on a 4-yard scoring strike that gave West Ottawa a 21-15 lead just before the half...
Morgan finished the game with 79 yards on 20 carries, and Boersema had 73 rushing yards on 22 carries.
"Our goal this year is to have everybody's back and make sure we stay together as a team no matter what happens," Morgan said. "I thought we did that tonight."
Badass picture above courtesy of the Holland Sentinel.
Game 4. West Ottawa beat Jenison 31-14.
Desmond Morgan threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to Josh Wisbang and later ran in a 3-yard score of his own. Morgan finished with 196 total yards.
Game 5. Desmond missed the game with injury as West Ottawa fell to Rockford, 7-14.
Game 6. West Ottawa defeated Grandville 23-13.
West Ottawa is 5-1 for the first time since 2003. The Panthers bounced back from last week's loss to Rockford, and Morgan returned to West Ottawa's lineup after missing that game with an ankle injury. Morgan engineered scoring drives on West Ottawa's first two possessions Friday. Zac Boersema capped both drives with short touchdown runs...
Quarterback Desmond Morgan's 3-yard run capped the game's scoring.
Game 7. West Ottawa beat Hudsonville 38-20, clinching a playoff berth:
"It has been a letdown the past few years, but our goal at the beginning of the season was to make the playoffs," said senior quarterback Desmond Morgan, who threw a pair of touchdown passes. "And to get that sixth win feels great." ...
West Ottawa answered at the end of the first quarter as Morgan pushed his way over the goal line on third down and inches. Morgan hit Josh Wisbang with a 17-yard touchdown pass on third and long to put the Panthers ahead 14-7 in the second quarter.
Per the video, Morgan didn't play on defense, as he was coming off a shoulder injury and the team needed their quarterback too much to risk it.
Morgan finished with 55 yards rushing on nine attempts and Boersema had 57 on 16 carries...
[Muskegon Coach Shane] Fairfield was impressed with one West Ottawa slugger in particular — Morgan, who started his first game at middle linebacker in three weeks. “That kid can play at any college right now, and I’ve admired that kid,” he said. “That kid has inspired our defense, just watching him on film.”
He also had 22 tackles.
Game 9. West Ottawa pasted East Kentwood 50-14. Desmond ran for 34-, 15-, and 7-yard touchdowns.
Facing a third-and-10 from their own 32-yard line, coach Jim Caserta reached into his bag of tricks and dialed up a reverse to Spencer Olson, who then turned and threw the ball back to Morgan, who was wide open on the sideline. He rumbled 22 yards for a momentum-changing first down.
Morgan later hit receiver Josh Wisbang on a big third-down conversion to the Bucs' 26-yard line. The Panthers got as far as Grand Haven's 14, but could get no farther, setting up Holmes' game-winning kick...
Grand Haven actually did a solid job slowing down Morgan, holding him to just 47 yards [and one TD] on 22 carries. He was more effective through the air, completing 7-of-13 passes for 73 yards.
"Both teams had their opportunities to win the game," [Grand Haven Coach Mike] Farley said. "Desmond Morgan is a great football player. These were two great football teams battling it out."
Article 2 is responsible for the Baby Rhino photo above.
Game 11. Pregame fluff on Desmond's presence in the lineup, after missing the first game against Rockford:
“Sometimes you’ve just got to take doc’s orders and take one on the chin on the sideline and root your guys on,” Morgan said of missing just his third game in four years as a varsity starter. “I had full confidence that they (could) win that game, and I have full confidence in them this time. It’s not about one guy, it takes the whole team.”
West Ottawa fell to Rockford, 13-35, ending their season in the second round of the playoffs.
FL RB Demetrius Hart
Last Week: Local fluff about Hart's prolific season. He entered Friday one touchdown short of the single-season state record. Game preview. Opponent gameplan and vice versa . Dr. Phillips beat Sanford Seminole 37-13.
Demetrius Hart became the leading scorer in state history with two touchdowns as undefeated Dr. Phillips unleashed its high-powered offense again and won 37-13 over host Seminole in a Class 6A football semifinal Friday night... Hart, a 5-9, 185-pound all-purpose running back, carried 17 times for 159 yards.
Hart spent most of the second half resting on the sidelines without pads, as the Panthers were in no risk of losing the game. Defensive fluff. Official stats below come from the Dr. Phillips website. Video:
|Demetrius Hart 2010|
|Cypress Creek||W 52-0||14||168||4||12.00||1||7||0||7.00||3||24||0||8.00|
|Oak Ridge||W 56-28||21||126||3||6.00||4||37||1||9.25||1||5||0||5.00|
|West Orange||W 49-6||11||121||4||11.00||4||24||0||6.00||2||69||1||34.50|
|Oak Ridge||W 45-0||18||129||4||7.17||2||71||1||35.50||2||86||1||43.00|
|Seminole Ridge||W 38-28||21||218||2||10.38||2||40||0||20.00||3||66||0||22.00|
This week: Dr. Phillips will face Miami Central in the 6A State Championship game Saturday at 7 in the Citrus Bowl.
FL OL Tony Posada
This week: Plant will face St. Thomas Aquinas in the 5A State Championship game Friday at 7 in the Citrus Bowl.
FL CB Dallas Crawford
Crawford, the Wolfpack quarterback who is Lee County’s all-time leading passer, struggled under pressure from Norland’s athletic defense. Crawford entered Friday completing 73 percent of his passes on the season but was 12-of-26 for 196 yards and a touchdown against the Vikings.
“That kid — Sammy Watkins is a beast. Dallas Crawford is a beast,” said Norland defensive back Quincy Casimir. “They’ve got a great team. It was a great game.”
Based on the photos and video, Crawford wasn't helped by his wideouts, who dropped at least a couple passes (one of which was intercepted), and committed a pair of fumbles.
|Dallas Crawford 2010|
|Cypress Lake||W 39-0||9||10||90.00||118||11.80||1||0||6||24||4.00||2||0||0|
|Bishop Verot||W 35-3||18||23||78.26||299||13.00||4||0||9||12||1.33||1||0||0|
|Gulf Coast||W 49-7||12||16||75.00||277||17.31||3||1||11||34||3.09||1||0||0|
|North Fort Myers||W 34-0||7||13||53.85||88||6.77||2||0||5||38||7.60||0||2||1|
|Fort Myers||W 43-10||10||13||76.92||144||11.08||1||0||12||38||3.17||2||0||0|
|Barron Collier||W 33-2||11||14||78.57||163||11.64||1||0||7||-21||-3.00||0||0||0|
|Bradenton Southeast||W 28-21||12||17||70.59||219||12.88||3||1||8||2||0.25||0||0||0|
This week: South Fort Myers's season ends in the 3A State Semifinals.
Seasons Complete After the Jump
Instate linebacker burst onto the scene near the end of October, receiving an official offer from the Wolverines. Just a couple months later, he's committed to wearing the winged helmet next fall. Tom has some commitment quotes from the kid.
|3*, #43 MLB||3*, 5.5, NR ILB||3*, 78, #24 ILB|
The three sites are unanimous in Morgan's 6-1, 225-pound size, and his mid-level ranking as an overall prospect. ESPN is the outlier, ranking him in the top 25 of inside linebackers, whereas he's outside the top 40 on the other two sites (Rivals stops ranking them at #45). For a breakdown of his game, let's start with ESPN's evaluation:
Morgan is a very tough run stopper; displays dominant playing strength at the point of attack. Has the size and athleticism for the inside linebacker position at the major level of competition... We like his hand use, showing the physical playing strength to take on and defeat blockers at the point; demonstrates the ability to play low and keep his feet free when moving laterally vs. the outside run.
So, excellent run-stopper, something that Michigan has lacked since David Harris left town (though, in fairness, Kenny Demens seems to be performing well in that role).
Flashes good underneath screen recognition ability however all area of coverage will need refinement; man coverage assignments must be carefully evaluated. This guy plays with the intensity and motor we look for when evaluating the ILB position... Morgan may need some time to polish coverage skills. If a red shirt year is not deemed necessary he could see early playing time on special teams.
A little weak in coverage, as you'd expect from most linebackers at the high school level. Tom interviewed him shortly after he received the Michigan offer, and Desmond divulged what the coaches like about his game:
They said they're looking for kids that knew how to hit, and that aren't afraid to get after it. They want guys that have a nose for the ball, and smart kids. I learn from my coaches, and I give 110% no matter what. Even if I'm doing something wrong, I'm going to go 100 MPH doing it.
That sounds like an "effort guy" - and the last part sounds so much like Jonas Mouton that it's not even funny.
One thing that's important to note - especially given that ESPN questions his physical ability to play in coverage at an elite level - is that he's a high school quarterback, in addition to his responsibilities on the other side of the ball. That may help his instincts and reads in pass coverage, helping cover for any physical limitations.
The Holland Sentinel says he's "fast enough to help the U-M defense now," though that should obviously be taken with a grain of salt. An opposing coach says he's "a great football player," but that's not terribly descriptive.
As mentioned above, Morgan's recruitment really took off a bit later in the fall, unsurprising for a guy whose primary job in high school is as a Tebow-style (or Chris Relf-style, if you require a more timely reference) Rhinoback. Only a host of MAC schools had offered him in the summer.
Northwestern and Michigan were his final two.
Scout's very brief blurb:
Recorded 120 tackles as a junior.
That earned him 1st-team All-Area and All-State Honorable Mention. I couldn't find exact senior-season stats on the internet. I'll scour the tubes once more, and hopefully have more detail for tomorrow's Friday Night Lights post.
FAKE 40 TIME
Rivals: 4.7. Scout: 4.65. Those are pretty darn good times for a middle linebacker, especially one that ESPN basically calls "slow." I'll give it three FAKES out of five.
Here's his junior year:
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Part of ESPN's breakdown says that he looks like a spectacular special teamer, as he loves to hit and has good athleticism. That ability may help Desmond get onto the field as a true freshman. However, with kenny Demens and Mike Jones seemingly solid at linebacker spots for the next couple years (assuming a full recovery from Jones's broken leg), Michigan will more likely try to redshirt him, then give him that redshirt freshman year on special teams before being thrown strongly into the mix.
He probably wouldn't become a full-time starter until redshirt junior or redshirt senior seasons, and with Kellen Jones also in the class, there's some flexibility as to where each of them will play. If you held a gun to my head, I'd say Jones is more able to play inside and outside, whereas Morgan is more of a true inside 'backer.
He seems like an instinctual player, even if his physical attributes aren't the greatest. That's the sort of guy that Iowa and Wisconsin regularly turn into All-conference performers, and I think that's also the ceiling for Desmond.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
What is... defensive... recruit?
Michigan is starting to fill in the defensive side of the ball a little bit. There's still a need for more bodies there (safeties and defensive tackles, please), but Morgan shores up a big area of need in linebacker.
I hesitate to predict too far into the future of this recruiting class, as several commits and interested prospects are likely to look elsewhere should Rich Rodriguez be dismissed as Michigan's head coach. That said, another offensive lineman, a wide receiver or two, possibly a quarterback, and a host of defensive linemen and safeties will fill out the class.
12/11/2010 – Michigan 1, Akron 2 – 17-5-3, season over
Because my one true soccer allegiance is to the USMNT, Friday's game against Akron was familiar. It followed the same script that Nats games against world powers do: show up, try really hard, get a lot of quality defending in emergencies, take advantage of one opportunity to score, spend most of the game trying to get the ball, and eventually lose.
At some point in the second half John Harkes said Akron "looked like a professional team" and the crowd gathered to watch couldn't even muster up a Cam Newton joke. We could only sigh in agreement and wait for the inevitable. If an Akron player had broken someone's foot it would have been the spiritual successor of last year's USA-Holland friendly in every way. Instead it was just 90%.
When the Yanks haven't followed that script it's been because they nicked an early goal, survived an avalanche of pressure thanks in large part to heroic goaltending, and maybe grabbed another on a counter. Michigan got only the first, and go out to superior competition. The Zips won the national title against an undefeated Louisville team and I bet there's some Zip fan out there thinking "how did we only put in three goals this weekend?" The road from MAC fan with MAC perspective to Brazilian is short indeed.
As for Michigan, no one can be disappointed with the run that saw them rip off an undefeated streak that took them to the Big Ten title and the final four after taking a 7-1 beating from this Akron team midseason. Michigan loses only a few players here and there and actually looked better after they took off senior Alex Wood for freshman Fabio Pereira; with the Saads returning and what I'm told are top-notch recruiting classes the last two years forming the bulk of the team this edition of "new Michigan sport to care about" should go better than the baseball team, which is still okay but failed to maintain its Fetter/Putnam/Abraham era national relevance and is now just another good mid-major.
That's for later, though. Right now I know why I got so annoyed with all the "be our kicker" jokes unleashed at Justin Meram throughout the year: he's got a little bit of magic in him, the kind of thing that Denard Robinson brought to the football team and has been frustratingly absent at Yost for a couple seasons. When the ball is at his feet, something awesome is or could or will and has happened.
That should mean something other than "I wonder if that guy can hit a 35-yarder." I hope that in ten years I remember him like I do Mike Comrie, as the guy who cemented a fandom. He opened a door; here's to Saads and Brazilians and Basically Eckstein and Steve Burns walking through it.
Blame-y section. So Akron really, really deserved to win that game but the frustrating part is that since Michigan did an excellent job limiting their opportunities, if not their time on the ball, they only had a few truly quality chances. They put most of them directly into Blais's chest.
With the Meram zinger that game was there for the taking, and the main reason they didn't take it was Blais. Getting beat near post on a shot as far out as Kitchen's equalizer is on the goalie, and while the second goal was a massive marking failure a ball that lands well within the six yard box is one that Blais has to come for. He made a good diving stop on a deflected ball late but when you can plausibly take the heat on both opponent goals you've had a bad day.
Additional impressions. It was hard to get a ton out of the game with the liveblog—I always forget how splitting your attention makes it hard to remember anything—but I thought Opare was a close second to Meram as Michigan's MOTM. He was clearly the smoother of the two central defenders and by the end of the game I had begun to have some confidence he could deal with even the rampaging Akron offense.
I think Michigan's failings largely laid with the other three defenders and Shaw, who were all okay to good defensively but could not cope with the Akron pressure and ended up chucking long balls or just giving the ball away. Michigan's offensive players are not large and against a top-quality opponent they're going to have to play through the midfield, but the linking play was extremely poor. Wood probably had a hand in that since they went away from him and to Pereira, as well.
The lady doth. Presented without comment:
Defender Zarek Valentin, who also played for the Bucks, said the Zips' victory should counter the losing image of Northeast Ohio.
"People think about Akron, they think about LeBron James and that whole fiasco," Valentin said. "This provides a good spirit on our campus."
The future. The only starters Michigan loses are the two outside backs, Wood, and Meram. It seems clear they'll go with Pereira to replace Wood. Tennant seemed like JAG to me and Michigan should find someone okay to replace him. Quijano and especially Meram are major losses; Michigan maintaining their current level will be a matter of finding reasonable replacements and having the rest of the team step forward as they enter sophomore and junior years. I'm not up on soccer recruiting enough to know how likely either of those things is—I tried, but I couldn't find much of anything.
aaargh unnecessary comma
When Twitter blew up at noon I figured something inane involving Jim Delany had just happened—this is my default assumption whenever Twitter blows up and has always been right, even when Michael Jackson died—and good lord, inane doesn't even begin to cover it. You know this by now but to remind you that the people in charge of marketing the Big Ten are either very stupid or think you are very stupid, the Big Ten Divisions are called "Legends" and "Leaders."
So. A group of people responsible for turning the Big Ten Network into a spigot of filthy lucre so gushing it can afford to employ Chris Martin is also responsible for making the Big Ten the Successories Conference. They've created division names that signify nothing about the teams inside of them—the only way I can remember that Michigan is in the "Legends" division is that "Leaders" is part of the friggin' fight song and we're not in that division. Their inane names don't just start with the same letter, they start with the same two letters. They are unusable.
And they've done this with 15 minutes in photoshop:
Note the use of negative space. Also note how stupid it looks.
By comparison, the new Pac-10 logo would look badass on any soccer shirt in the world:
How can the same group of people responsible for creating the BTN be responsible for this? Obviously the visionary bits of the BTN arrangement come from Fox, with Delany and company the lucky nomads who parked their camels in the right bit of desert and now get to call themselves an emirate.
These division names do not exist. I'm not using them. Michigan is in the West. Ohio State is in the East. Wisconsin has to deal. It is immediately obvious which teams are in the West—the ones mostly in the west. Michigan can be Champions of the West, and no one has to think about how leadership is more about character than authority.
Can we make this a blogosphere-wide insurrection? Please? Everyone just use "East" and "West."
Remember when you'd go in your room and imagine that instead of a broken down tricycle you had a flying unicorn that could take you away from mommy and daddy's screaming? Yeah, this will be like that.
BONUS: someone on the twitters said "I'm pretty sure an ordinary @MGoBlog thread could have produced better logo options," which is true. So do it either in the comments or by email and I'll pull up the best five and we can vote on the Unofficial Big Ten Logo; I hope I can work out a deal with the winner so we can offer it to the conference for free, if only to shame them.
12/11/2010 – Michigan 5, Michigan State 0 – 10-5-4, 9-3-1 CCHA
Michigan State is bad at hockey.
12/10/2010 – Michigan 1, Ak—
Oh, all right.
Michigan State is really bad at hockey, bad to the point where it seems like the next time their program is anything better than decent it will be under their next coach. While I find this 80% delightful the other 20% is depressed that the grand terror of a game against Ryan Miller* has been replaced by the usual mild discomfort when a crappy CCHA team comes to town against a Michigan team capable of blowing it against a crappy CCHA team.
So the only differences between this game and Michigan's series against BG earlier in the year are the size of the crowd, my annoyance at the State band, and my lingering antipathy for Rick Comley for his non-handling of the Kampfer incident. I have a sense of how Ohio State fans must feel about Michigan football's struggles now.
As a result the Big Chill lacked the grandeur of the Cold War despite being bigger and having more fireworks and an equal amount of appalling pregame musical guest. The thing on the ice was no longer #1 versus #4. Ryan Miller was not there, nor was Mike Cammalleri or a half-dozen other guys currently plying their trade in the NHL. Midway through the second I wished Michigan had scheduled Notre Dame or Miami, because if Michigan State's going to return a big chunk of their allotment anyway we should at least have a hockey game worthy of 113,000.
If you're going to schedule a team that's hanging out with Bowling Green in the conference slums, though, you should at least chop them up into tiny bits and serve them as hors d'oeuvres to the assembled throng. Michigan did, leaving the crowd's biggest reaction to come at the tail end of a 5-0 game when the most important thing was holding on to the shutout. This year it appears symbolic acts will be the only important ones, and in ten years when this happens again and they dig out the record books for outdoor games past that zero will read "Comley" to me, and I'll remember that weird period when Michigan State was horrible.
Non-bullets got very cold towards the end
A lovely touch. This is the opposite of Cal playing Chariots of Fire on their scoreboards after Washington pulls off a last-second win: event organizers forced Michigan State to sit through the fireworks in the cold after losing 5-0; when they tried to leave halfway through they were prevented.
A fishy number. The stands were almost full, but with the top end of one endzone was sparsely populated I'm a little dubious about the Guinness-endorsed 113k since it seems like a football game would have hit that this year. I've assumed Michigan counts every last person in the building for football, but maybe not.
Hey, that looked intentional. First, highlights:
The Rust-to-Merrill goal was a two-on-two rush that resulted in a pretty goal, something Michigan fans haven't seen much of this year. The rest of the goals were also intentional but born more of hard work finding rebounds or just shooting—the slick passing to get someone open has not been a regular feature.
Celebrations. On the reel above you can see Carl Hagelin either attempt to saw off his arm at the elbow or play the world's least tiny violin after his first goal, but they missed a celebration in the third wherein the team assembled to kick an extra point. This has apparently been lost to history.
The road ahead. Notre Dame and Miami split two weeks ago, leaving the three-way race at the top of the league very tight. Michigan would be ahead in hypothetical baseball standings as they're a point back of Notre Dame with a game in hand and one clear of Miami with two in hand, and their schedule is looking pretty easy down the stretch:
- The GLI features State, an MTU team that's lost ten straight, and a 7-5 Colorado College team. Michigan should meet CC in the final.
- Games against very bad CCHA teams: Three more against MSU.
- Games against mediocre CCHA teams: two against Ferris (home and home), two against OSU (home), two against WMU (home), two against NMU (away)
- Games against good CCHA teams: two against Alaska (home)
- Series of the year: two against Miami (away)
The CCHA is the three teams at the top, LSSU, MSU, and BG at the bottom, and then a mass of five teams that are tough to differentiate. Miami has to play both ND and Michigan again, but Michigan has already gotten its series with ND out of the way—advantage teams that aren't Miami. Michigan also has a ton of home games. They'll have to get a bit better in goal and score more goals they mean to if they're going to win the league, but they've put themselves in good position.
Unfortunately, without tearing through the back end of the schedule Michigan is probably locked out of a one seed with their mediocre OOC performance. Hockey puts inordinate emphasis on OOC.
A rule not so good. Michigan State did score, though. They put in a power play goal when a puck deflected high off Hunwick and fluttered to the goal line to be batted in, but a nanosecond before that happened Hunwick fell into the net and knocked it off. While the refs got the call right, it was totally unfair: you definitely scored, you didn't do anything to get the net off, and you still get nothing. They should probably change it so that if your goal is imminent when the defense knocks the net off you still get it.
Merrill actually doesn’t remember the first goal. He closed his eyes when he shot it and the next thing he knew, he was mobbed by teammates. Everything else is a happy blur.
Not recommended for drivers, as your blur will not be happy.
*(I have superficially hated many opposing athletes but Miller stands out as the guy I hated only because he was so unbelievably good. He did nothing but save everything.)
The Big Chill was a success both on the ice and as a recruiting event for the football team. There were no commitments, but the overall feeling from the recruits was favorable for Michigan. Here's a few reactions from the visitors and some extras.
6'5", 320 lbs.
Chris has been on campus a few times now, but wanted to take an official visit to experience more of the social side of Michigan. He was hoping to get closer with the players and coaches, and see what it's like to be around them.
The visit was great. I got a chance to meet a lot of the players and really be around the coaches. Overall it was awesome. What stuck out the most to me was how cool the players were, and how highly they speak of the university.
Taylor Lewan and Patrick Omameh were Chris's hosts, and yes, Lewan did show off his mustache tattoo. Bryant brought along a few members of his family. They came away with the same impressions that he did.
My family liked the visit a lot, too. They really liked all the coaches and all the players.
Bryant is still unsure if he will take any more visits and hasn't planned out when he will make his final decision. It might be safe to say that he's just waiting to see what happens with the coaching situation to make those moves.
5'11", 180 lbs.
Richardson's name is a new one in Michigan recruiting. Though he's currently committed to SMU he wanted to check out what the Wolverines had to offer.
Overall the visit was great; they really laid out the red carpet for me. The coaching staff really stuck out to me. They seemed genuine when they were talking to me. They told me that playing time isn't guaranteed, but if I worked hard and did what I'm supposed to I could play. The hockey game was great. I've never been in an environment like that, and they said the football games get louder, so that's crazy.
James was accompanied by his mom and stepdad for the visit. While his stepdad wasn't worried about the distance, his Mom had some initial doubts about her son going to school so far away.
My mom was kind of nervous about it, but she fell in love with the place. She was worried about me being so far away, but she thinks the coaches would really take care of me up there. We were kind of worried about the weather too, because everyone told me to pack a bunch of layers of clothes. I wore five layers of clothes and I was sweating out there. It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, so that's fine too.
James is a three star corner with some smaller offers, but he's being compared to last year's sleeper from Louisiana—Carvin Johnson. It's probably not a coincidence that Carvin was the player host for James this past weekend. The players were a big part of why he enjoyed his trip.
I had so much fun with the players. I was with Carvin (Johnson), Denard (Robinson), and the corner they call Buc (Cullen Christian). I watched Denard all year, I thought he was going to win the Heisman, so it was cool to be around him like that. He's a really cool guy, really humble.
James plans to wait until after Michigan's bowl game to make his final decision, sometime in early January. He said he'll weigh out his options for SMU and Michigan, and also noted that Michigan has a better chance if Rich Rodriguez is still the head coach.
5'10", 170 lbs.
It was kind of a surprising when slot receiver Darius Patton said he would be going up to Ann Arbor this weekend. He does fit with Michigan's offense, but with Justice Hayes now in the class it doesn't seem like there's room for another slot receiver. Patton did come away impressed with Michigan, but maintains that everyone is equal.
There isn't too much you can't say about Michigan. Everybody knows that they pack the Big House, and their academic prestige. We all know what Michigan is about when it comes to academics and athletics, and their tradition. It was a great visit, they fit me offensively just like my other schools do. Everyone is equal right now with Michigan, West Virginia, and Cincinnati.
I got the impression from Darius that he was impressed, but may realize the depth chart at Michigan isn't in his favor. He may not have a commitable offer at the moment.
- JUCO DB Anthony Baskin will be at Michigan's practice this Friday. Originally from South Lyon high school in Michigan, Baskin said, "It's always been a dream to play in the Big House." Baskin has offers from Cincinnati, MSU, Texas A&M, NIU, Illinois, and Bowling Green.
- DT Darian Cooper told me yesterday that he has scheduled his official visit to Michigan on January 7th. I get the feeling from Darian that Michigan may be behind right now with his other schools. He will also visit Penn State and Iowa.
- S Roderick Ryles had his offer pulled from Arkansas, where he was committed. There's conflicting reports as to why the offer was pulled. I mentioned it in this thread, but I spoke with Chris Hayes from the Orlando Sentinel about this last night. Ryles told Hayes that it had nothing to do with grades, but he also said that Michigan is not in the running for him. I haven't confirmed this with Roderick myself, and this could change once the coaches talk to him about everything, so we'll see how that plays out.
I remember my first outdoor hockey game. It was some fellow 2nd grader's birthday party, I had to borrow skates from the kid across the street (all my equipment was for roller hockey), and we spent the first half hour freezing on the banks of Quarton Lake while paranoid parents checked the ice. By the time it was deemed game-safe the snow had grown thick enough to drown out sounds and generate enough fog so that parents and annoying little sisters sitting lakeside were totally ignorable. I remember the clack of sticks and skates, and shouts of hustling 2nd graders pillowed by the snow and cold gray. I remember sweating through layers of sweaters and the neighbor's well-used gloves, and my first whiff of the scent I would forever thereafter call "hockey."
I remember my first game at Yost. When I got to Michigan the hockey team was coming off of a national championship season and the basketball team was in the midst of the Webber scandal so: hockey. It was Michigan vs. Michigan State, and at the time M and MSU were to the CCHA what M and Ohio State used to be to the Big Ten and Miami (YTM) and FSU were supposed to be to the ACC. Hockey was that rivalry in its extreme: Michigan in its classic barn belting out cheers that said more about the cleverness of the fans than the game on the ice, the dour MSU fans from sterile Munn countering with a bevy of sub-pith about how overrated they found Yost. Michigan was famous for Brendan Morrison, and like B-Mo, Comrie and co. played like a pack of lost boys who'd just discovered faerie dust; State was Ron Mason's band of pirates (Adam Hall, Shawn Horcuff), terrestrial, slow-witted, and not much for good form, but holding a distinct size advantage.
I remember late-season Michigan football games. I remember being bundled up and trying to warm fingers by rubbing them against my jeans, which had the bonus effect of itching the long-johns beneath them (the jeans). I remember the line for Krazy Jim's Blimpy Burger, the warming effect of getting bustled along by the thick throngs of Greene Street and chanting "It's Great! To Be! A Michigan Wolverine!" I remember stripping off layers of sweatshirts that had begun to take on the unmistakable scent of hockey, throwing them into the corner of a booth at Arbor Brewing Company, and talking about whatever the hell felt like the most fun to talk about, feeling like the only bitterness in the world was the type that's on draft.
I remember because I had forgotten. The greatest moment I've had in Michigan Stadium over the last…what is it 7 years?…was being jubilantly relieved the 2010 team isn't really bad enough to lose to Illinois. Before that it was 2003, when it was cold, and there were roses.
Covering hockey, blogging about football, these things are fun, but they have also changed the experience of my two of my most favorite forms of entertainment, allowing adult cynicism to penetrate. The Big Chill was a pitch perfect combination: the entire Game Day experience mixed with just the right amount of Yost Ice Arena and Quarton Lake. Like Hook, it shouldn't be taken as a serious football game, or even a representative hockey game – larger surface, strange conditions, and all that – just familiar material brought back together for a few hours of raucously good show. I was enjoying it like a kid, and I wasn't the only one. Said Michigan State's Torey Krug:
“Ten years from now, I’m probably going to remember the most fun I’ve ever had on the ice,” Michigan State’s Torey Krug said. “Look at these 22-year-old men and they’re like little kids.”
For what was probably the 3rd but felt like the 20th time, Michigan forward Matt Rust made some Datsyukian pass that Merrill or Hagelin buried, the band blared "The Victors" into the December night, and then I was doing the Goal Count! cheer…in Michigan Stadium! For the first time since becoming a grownup and discovering I'm actually really good at cynical in-game quipping the only response I could think of was to put my big, potchy, grownup nose in Tink's clockhouse and say "I like this game!"
I figured porting Yost into the House that Yost Built would lose something in the translation, that the clever cheers and the likelihood that the person sitting in front of you is a player's relative would be perceptively absent. Except when we changed seats to get away from the increasingly souring Spartan fans, I then found myself right back on the shore of Quarton Lake, listening to pillowed hockey sounds beside the players' parents, and Matt Rust's sister,* hooting away the end of the waning moments of the third period and checking the time so I wouldn't miss (again) the "how much time is left?" thing, just as if I was back in a barn with 6,000 close friends.
In these few dark years of defenseless football and hoops meh-laise, hockey has provided the in-state rivalry's sweetest moments. One was last year's Usual Suspects twist, the second was inviting an irritatingly uppity-as-of-late Spartan fanbase over to our house, and then getting to ignore their un-clever attempts at sourpuss-ing** the moment while our pretty good team of passing stars utterly demoralized their hopelessly mediocre band of towering thugs. The best part of last night was the return to Never Never Land. It's not going to re-set any counters, but the second-best part of last night was taking Little Brother back to grade school.
Other MGoReactions to the game are in this thread.
* She reads MGoBlog and Yost Built
** Big Schadenfreude thank-you to the State fan behind me for hating everything from the word "sieve," to Blues Brothers, to the theme song to Rocky & Bullwinkle. He didn't stay, but I'm pretty sure he hates fireworks too.
Lewd, Crude, Rude Bag of Pre-Chewed Food Dude
I missed the morning of tailgating, since Misopogal's sister was graduating from MSU, but I did manage to catch some career advice from Michigan State's latest doctor of business:
Yes, that is MSU's 2010 Winter graduating class being told by Magic Johnson that it should be their goal to be named Employee of the Month and achieve mention in their companies' newsletters, fitting advice if your future's at McDonalds. Bonus: guess what the second "S" in "Spartans" stands for?
"And then 's' stands for 'Special.' Because everybody that comes from this campus, that goes to Michigan State University, they're special."
In case you're wondering, the person rudely giggling his ass off in the background is me. As Misopogal summarily compared:
"President Obama….Magic Johnson."
Double bonus: their gift to the school is $19,000 to get Sparty a new uniform because "the old one has been starting to smell," presumably from all the Axe body spray and burned upholstery.
The above is a play from Mississippi State's game against Georgia, where MSU ran its triple-option to the left and Georgia's version of Jonas Mouton Obi Ezeh is yelling for mushrooms when he sees three potential ball carriers and a downfield blocker have all gotten playside of him. The scene is taken from BlueSeoul's ongoing series of scouting Michigan's Gator Bowl opponent.
Part 1: Memphis
Part 2: Auburn
Part 3: LSU
Part 4: Georgia (with pics).
This much is obvious: Mullen is a great offensive coach, and BlueSeoul is a fantastic diarist, a Diarist of the Week, even.
Also in bowl games, I did a few comparisons using (now outdated) FEI ratings to determine things like how to fill in my confidence office bowl squares, which bowl games are likely to be close or blowouts, which will be high-scoring affairs, and which really have the most talent on the field, using all three to figure out a bowl watchability index for spending my precious 2.4 wife-allocated football games per week over vacation. Plus some other stuff.
The data gave up some other interesting bowl tidbits:
- USC (28th, with an FEI of 0.113) is the best team that's not going to a bowl game.
- The best team not going due to things other than NCAA sanctions: Arizona State (41st, 0.061), those unlucky bastards.
- Miami (Not THAT Miami) is the worst team going to a bowl; their -0.198 is 110th out of 120.
I meant to update this today, but spent the day doing anti-Virus and anti-snow activities. Look for it this week.
Erik_in_Dayton took on a very relevant question: does the 3-3-5 have a structural deficiency against power running teams? To answer this he used WVU's numbers against the run from 2005 to 2009 (this year's left out because WVU was far better than average defensively).
Lost, lost, lost, lost.
Lost what? Your marbles again?
No, no. My offensive possessions. Lost, lost, lost.
Found: Enjoy Life's turnover margin year in review.
Conclusion #4: Positive TOMs Helped Michigan Win As Many Games This Year As Negative TOMs Contributed To M Losing Games. M had 2 games with a positive TOM and the TOs helped win both games (UConn & ND). Michigan had 6 games with a TOM of –0- and won 4 of those games (UMass, BGSU, Indiana, Purdue) while losing 2 (Penn State, Wisconsin). M had 4 games with a negative TOM and actually won one of those (Illinois with a TOM of –4). Of the other 3, TOs were a primary factor in 2 losses (MSU and Iowa) but in one (osu) it is doubtful TOs were a significant factor in the loss. Therefore, if all games had ended with a TOM of –0-, it is likely M would still be 7-5 but with losses to UConn & ND and wins against MSU and Iowa. (And, yeah, that would be a lot better.)
Also found: how Michigan fans in general feel about Rich Rodriguez from Public Policy Polling. I gif:
There's a lot of other neat graphics in there that break down the results. The poll results even break it down by political, age, and ethnic groups.
Lastly in statistication, NOLA Blue asked the question that
everyone some guy on a TCU blog is asking: "were Sagarin's rankings rigged to keep TCU out of the BCS Championship?" No, Wimple.
Two-Toned Zebra-Headed, Slime-Coated, Pimple-Farmin' Paramecium Brain, Munchin' On Your Own Mucus, Suffering From Peter Pan Envy
Your new wallpaper, courtesy of monuMental. I'm starting to doubt my decision to use the Peter/Rufio duel of schoolbus insults for section heads here; alas we forge on.
Substitute Chemistry Teacher
Last week I told you about user jhackney, who exploded onto the board scene of late by responding to coaching change speculation with atomic irreverence. Our resident iconoclast this week stepped out of the boards to take us on a savage journey to the heart of the Wolverine dream. His Fear and Loathing in Ann Arbor series (Part I, Part II) is a Thomson-esque retelling of the 2010 season:
They were all laughing at me. I grabbed some whiskey off my leather-covered icebox and went outside to be alone with my thoughts and humiliation. My worst fears came true. I was a public Dupe, soon to be jailed for crimes of cruelty to myself for investing so much damn emotion and confidence into a game that ended with me stone drunk and stone naked on my porch. How had it happened? Had I finally loved Michigan too much?
For the uninitiated, or those who only know HST's work as a bit of cult film for drug users, his Gonzo style journalism was the spirit predecessor of sports blogging, particularly in that the author makes himself part of the story. J sticks a bit too closely to the movie script but such magnificent highs and crashes of modern Michigan football fandom can perhaps only be told by someone used to riding these types of roller coasters.
In Your Face, Camel Cake!
In etc., stubob's Ugly Game of the Week: Bowl Edition.
And you know probably how Section 1 (the blogger, not the blue hair brigade of the 50 yard line) feels about the Freep, but that shouldn't discredit his comparison of Rosenberg's speech to Dave Brandon's a year later to the same suburban Detroit alumni group.
Till next week, diarists, you know that place between sleep and staying awake to write stuff on the internet? That's where we'll be waiting. Bangarang!
Reminder. Soccer liveblog starts at around 10:30.
Other soccer bits. AnnArbor.com has another story on Jeff Quijano and his journey from starter to backup and back. Quijano's the first Michigan athlete to cite Michigan Stadium's elaborate wave as a reason he came to Michigan:
“I know it sounds weird, but I saw the wave, all those people…it was like nothing I’d ever seen before,” Quijano recalls. “I was hooked.”
Everyone in the student section who does the arm-wave motion to cross the streams feels a tiny bit of pride about this. The Ultras have picked Buffalo Wild Wings as the gathering place of choice for those in the mood for compatriots. That's where I watched the USA-Algeria game, so hopefully we score the winner a minute into stoppage except stoppage doesn't exist in college.
The Daily actually makes a fairly good Miracle on Ice comparison; the US got blasted 10-3 by the Soviets before the Olympics, not unlike what happened to Michigan earlier this year. Like all Miracle on Ice comparisons it's still stretched.
Heisman back in the day. The Woodson presentation:
I still remember the dorm-wide "YEAH" that erupted. People who didn't care about football must have been mystified.
Blunt Brandon brandishes bludgeon. A brief interview excerpt from Sports Business Daily has some real talk about the NCAA investigation:
Q: What is more challenging, complying with NCAA rules or SEC [ed: Security Exchange Commission] rules?
Brandon: NCAA. I spent less time with lawyers doing a billion dollar transaction than I did with the recent NCAA case. The amount of resources and effort we used from something that started as a newspaper article was huge. If you aggregate the cost, it was between 1.5 and 2 million dollars in internal costs. My understanding is there are north of 80 to 90 cases currently in the NCAA queue. We’ve created a cottage industry that is stripping resources out of the athletic departments. It’s a broken system and needs reform.
That's to the point. I'm not sure what the reform would be, but we're heading towards an era with more enforcement, not less. He also says one of the things he's learned in the first nine months is "don't read blogs," which ouch. Pimp hand don't hurt me no more.
More maniacal bits. The Mississippi State defense against LSU:
I'm not sure how relevant that is against Denard, but it sure looks like they're going to damn the torpedoes and come after him when he throws. When Jefferson breaks contain early he's got acres of space.
Consider the following: our universities are flagships - meaning that they're the oldest, most well endowed, widely recognized, most highly publicized, and most readily associated with the famous and influential sons and daughters within our respective states. Our universities are liberal arts oriented institutions nestled in unique, quirky, and revered college towns. We revere and contribute to the arts and humanities. A significant portion of our alumni associations are attorneys who hate their jobs. Et cetera.
Undying loyalty is offered in exchange for victory, which I'll gladly take anyway.
Etc.: Bacon's latest is on the journey Red took from handing out tickets on State Street to playing in front of 100k. More on Mississippi State from BWS, with a season overview and analysis of how they held Auburn under 20 points. UMHoops previews the Utah game, starting in 1.5 hours. The HSR says Denard's melted bag of snow was a metaphor for the season.