national champs baby
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Yay recruits! I have no idea who these people are! /Upchurch
It's ours again, the title they don't give you for having the best recruiting class three months before the previous season begins. Yes, other classes are going to finish strong once a lot of five-stars make their decisions, you know, eight months from now. But like Notre Dame's September Heismans and OSU's November national champs, being in the top spot is better than not being there.
You know those Big Ten recruiting roundups Ace does? EGD did the same for our non-conference opponents in the years to come. Hello again Notre Dame…
|247 Rk||Team||Guys||5*||4*||3*||Scout Avg.||Rivals Avg.||ESPN Avg.||247 Avg.||Overall Avg.|
He's keeping it updated. Make it a weekly, guy with the Hail to the Thief logo. No Virginia Tech because even if the 2014 guys redshirt they won't be around for 2020. Good to see Bielema is still recruiting the Wisconsin way despite the move to the SEC.
Blueheron took a look at recruiting over the back end, in how many NFL draft picks Michigan contributed over X period. This was always going to be the case once we went to a spread offense but yeah 2009-'13 wasn't our best period. Relatedly Chris Brown of Smart Football asked for crowd-sourced data on conference contribution to NFL rosters and whether there's a difference for guys in the league less than 5 years. I responded with a chart (click it for full size)…
…and put the Excel doc in the public realm for anyone whose idea of a relaxing Memorial Day weekend is pivot tables. Meantime I saved the Big Ten comparison just for you:
So we've got more old dudes (even with Hutchinson and Backus retiring) left from the middle Carr years, but since Rich Rod we've had a Sparty-like contribution. I expect this will change with the NFL types now working their way up the roster, and in five years you'll look at this chart and see Michigan next to OSU (with maybe a residually small yellow portion). Really, Michigan is the difference between the B1G being just as much an NFL factory as the SEC, and being something between that and the Pac12.
In other people who probably love Pivot Tables, The Mathlete looked into the recruiting of Maryland and Rutgers to see where they get their players and if getting into those markets might help Michigan and co., kinda like how we went into Pennsylvania in the '90s and snatched up Rob Swett, Damon Denson, Will Peterson, Dave Armstrong, Marlin Jackson*, Scott McClintock, Tim Massaqoui, Steve Breaston, Ryan Mundy, Chad Henne, Marques Slocum, and Marques Slocum's pet Fuck Lion.
*[Marlin could count for Ohio, since Sharon is just the Pennsylvania suburb of Youngstown, but then PSU still felt that one sharply. Speaking of PSU fans, if you know any tell them to get the Penn State version of HTTV (3 days left on the kickstarter).]
Getting Nebraska didn't come with the same windfall, rather the Huskers and their Ohioan of a coach are probably damaging Michigan State and Iowa and Illinois rather than opening up new territory. On the other hand D.C. and environs have a lot of talent which, unlike Nebraska, concentrates in a certain geographic area. Nudging Virginia Tech out of there would be nice. As a follow-up maizeonblueaction looked at how the SEC has fared in the Midlands since adding Texas and Missouri. Answer: very small uptick, but I disagree that you can tell from 2012 numbers since those kids were mostly at the "down to five schools" phase when A&M was announced. If there's an effect, it's probably the opportunity to play close to home sometimes, and to be on TV at home, which means kids in the Dallas region aren't going to go to Mississippi now because they'll get to travel to A&M, but Houston kids might.
And finally LSAClassof2000 downloaded the Rivals database and WENT. TO. TOWN. on charts of average star rating for B1G teams and comparisons to Michigan. I take two:
Arrested development. Speaking of recruits who didn't necessary pan out as well as we thought, hey did you see this year's hockey team? MGoBlueline did a comparison of the stats between the beloved 2011-'12 squad and the begrudged 2012-'13 guys. There's a mass exodus of defensemen from here and, guh, the streak. By the way his inspiration was Ron Utah's thing back in January that I know you didn't click on in January because I track those links – his does the same thing with the last two football teams.
And since the board's been pretty calm in these OT days, a quick…
Best of the Board
COMPANY CHEATS, GOOD GUY CHICKENS OUT, MUST BE TRESSEL-RELATED
yUP. mGrowOld had that dinner with Tressel he won for his company winning an award and him being a good employee who never posts pictures of his hot wife on the internet or spends time during the work day on message boards. But they pulled the bait 'n switch at the last minute and stuck the big sponsors instead of the promised winners at the keynote's table. GrowOld also chickened out about asking Tressel whether he was embarrassed, like at all, AND chickened out about the tie. Still a good read.
LIKE LITTLE YOU PEOPLE
MGoParents saw an opening when we didn't moderate an "OT: I Just had TWINS!" post and made an MGobaby thread, which became an all your kids thread. All the Aunt points in the world to julesh for crocheting a winged helmet for her brother's kid. But victor of the thread goes to ems78, who produced this:
Three weeks old and already has the song down.
ETC. Urban's secret: telling recruits he likes big butts, and he cannot lie—okay the other brothers are calling on the lying thing and say they deny—completely and utterly deny. And in the thread about the Penn State thing that SI was trying to make a thing but really wasn't a thing at all, this appeared and I wow'ed:
Origin? Previous thread? Is there a photoshop thread somewhere of Branch going on a destructive binge? Can we have one?
Your Moment of Zen:
Don't. Step. On. Our. Banner.
THE IMPORTANT THING: What Time Do I Need To Take A Break From Watching Arrested Development on Sunday?
Jabrill Peppers announces his college decision on Sunday at 5:15 pm ET on ESPNU. Everything we've seen and heard for the last several weeks—Gerry Hamilton's contrarianism notwithstanding—points to a Michigan commitment. While Peppers is declining to take interviews until his announcement, his coach is making the media rounds and claims that his star athlete isn't quite sure of his decision yet:
Representatives from the University of Michigan visited Paramus Catholic last week and spent much of the day there, inquiring about the Garden State's top athlete. The Wolverines are thought to take a commanding lead for his services into the weekend, although the star athlete has yet to officially solidify which school he will be selecting, Sunday.
"He doesn't know, just yet," [Paramus Catholic coach Chris] Partridge told NJ.com. "He's still visiting schools this week."
Although Partridge was reluctant to release the list of schools Peppers will be taking a look at during the final days of his recruiting process, there has been speculation that he will make a stop at Rutgers some time this week.
I'm not saying Peppers' coach is just doing his best to add some suspense—and there's nothing wrong with that—but I'll just leave this quote here:
“I know and feel very confident in the decision I’m going to make,” said Peppers.
Okay, I'm saying Peppers' coach is just doing his best to add some suspense. That's my last word on Peppers until Sunday, when there will either be many more words or we'll be attempting to salvage the flaming wreckage of the MGoBoard.
Chase Winovich Update: More Of The Same
PA LB Chase Winovich still has Michigan in his top three (with Ohio State and Pitt), is still contemplating visits (definitely to Pitt, unsure of others), and, yes, is still giving really confusing quotes to reporters, per Sam Webb ($):
That consistent focus that trio of favorites combined with his aforementioned decision timeline was fodder for speculation about a commitment being forthcoming. One recent report went a step beyond speculating and indicated that a decision next week was imminent, a claim that Winovich denies.
"I think the question (from the reporter) was 'is it possible that I could commit to a school after my Pitt visit?'," he recalled. "I think I said, 'yeah, anything is possible.' He said, 'could you let me know so I could put you on a commit watch?' So I said, 'yeah, anything is possible.'" (Laughter).
For the record, Winovich is still in deliberation mode with no definite decision date in sight.
I've said previously that I've heard optimism from both the Michigan and Ohio State sides regarding their chances with Winovich; the above may give a hint as to why. I claim no insider info here, but I switched my prediction for him from U-M to OSU yesterday, because it appears the Wolverines are picking up interest in other OLB prospects—something I doubt they would do if they were confident Winovich would take the final linebacker spot.
[Late-Breaking NOTE: Ohio State just added a commitment from linebacker Dante Booker, but according to 247's Steve Wiltfong the Buckeyes would still accept a commitment from Winovich($). Bad news for Michigan, good news for me not having to rewrite this entire section.]
After a period in which they'd fallen out of contact, Michigan and Crete (IL) Monee four-star LB Nyles Morgan have reconnected, and Morgan told GBW's Josh Newkirk that he's still interested in the Wolverines ($):
“Coach (Curt) Mallory came by,’ [Morgan] said. “I also talked with (defensive coordinator) Greg Mattison on the phone last week. He said he would be by this week.”
With the Wolverine coaching staff accelerating their efforts to connect with Morgan, he said he would like to build a better relationship with Mattison.
“I just want to have a good conversation with him,” he said. “I had previously good conversations with him before. At Michigan we had real good conversation. That was pretty nice, too. I just want to get to know him a little better and have him get to know me.”
Morgan mentioned the possibility of visiting either for July's BBQ at the Big House or a game this fall; he's not in any hurry to decide, so Michigan could still become a contender for his signature.
According to 247's Clint Brewster($), linebackers coach Roy Manning spent seven hours(!!) with Florida prospect Darrion Owens and claimed he is their "top target" at linebacker. Owens received an offer a month ago and—at 6'3", 225 pounds—has the frame to play on the strong side.
Four-star LA LB Kenny Young—who claims a very strong list of offers—hasn't been mentioned as a major possibility for the Wolverines, but he has them on a list of schools he'd like to see, per Rivals' Jason Howell ($):
What schools does he plan to check out?
"Like the Florida schools - Florida, Florida State, Miami," Young said. "Those three, I'll also try to visit Arkansas, Tennessee, Michigan… Arizona State."
Michigan still has a very real chance with Winovich; that said, it's clear that they're also exploring other options in case they need one.
[Hit THE JUMP for updates on four top 2014 targets—including one discussing a possible commitment—as well as news on Michigan's 2015 QB offeree and much more.]
Would You Like A Commitment Watch With Your Commitment Watch?
HEY 2014 RECRUITS THIS IS GREAT AND ALL BUT I'D LOVE TO RELAX A LITTLE THIS SUMMER IF THAT'S OKAY WITH YOU GUYS aww hell I give up ($):
Smack dab in the middle of spring football practice at Liberty, [coach John] Truby and [four-star PA WR K.J.] Williams aren’t spending too much time mulling over a potential college commitment. Coach and star did manage to spend a few minutes discussing his recent phone conversations with coach Ferrigno and the Wolverines, conversations indicating a decision might not be far off for Williams.
“They just went over what the next steps are in the cycle as K.J. does give a verbal and things that will be expected of him,” said Truby. “From what I hear, K.J. said it went pretty good.”
“With K.J., you’re just trying to give him some tips, what to look for -- I know he does like Michigan, he had a great time up on his visit. But as far as is he close or is he not close -- I’m not quite sure. Honestly, he could give his verbal tomorrow and it wouldn’t surprise me.”
Michigan's biggest competition for Williams, at the moment, appears to be Syracuse. That's a head-to-head battle the Wolverines are going to win more times than not.
Four-star NJ DE/TE Garrett Dickerson has had Michigan in his final five for the last month, but subsequent commitments at both of his potential positions had some questioning if he was still an option; per Sam Webb, Dickerson is still interested and the Wolverines are now recruiting him as a defensive end ($). He's been to Ann Arbor once before and is looking to make a return visit either this summer or during the season; right now, he claims no favorites.
Four-star PA S Montae Nicholson is still taking the recruting process at a deliberate pace, but that hasn't stopped Michigan from being in frequent contact, per Sam Webb ($). Nicholson's coach, for one, appears to be in Michigan's corner:
“Coach Funk has been wonderful,” Nicholson’s coach, Don Smith said. ["]Coach Funk has been really really wonderful. He has shown tremendous interest in (Montae) consistently. Let me just say this… his first official visit is supposed to be to the Notre Dame/Michigan game, so that ought to tell you something right there.”
Per TomVH, Michigan coaches stopped by to visit four-star IL OL Jamarco Jones this week. With Alex Bars off the board to Notre Dame, Jones is one of the team's top targets to fill the third, and likely final, offensive line spot in the class.
2015 QB Target: Acquired
Michigan's coaches have made it clear that they plan to take one quarterback in each recruiting cycle, and for the 2014 class they took plenty of time before settling on a top target: Wilton Speight didn't receive his offer until this February and pounced on it almost immediately.
The 2015 class appears to be different, as the Wolverines offered CA QB Josh Rosen on Tuesday, per multiple outlets. Rosen told Steve Lorenz that Michigan's willingness to jump in early adds some weight to their offer ($):
"My coach told me earlier this afternoon that Michigan was going to offer, but that he wanted me to keep it quiet until I actually got it," Rosen said. "It's awesome in the sense that more and more big traditional programs are looking at me. Michigan even more because their process is usually very slow with quarterbacks so that's an honor in itself."
247's newly-released 2015 rankings give insight into why the Wolverines are throwing their hat in the ring this quickly—he's their #5 overall prospect, with a scouting report that suggests he's the ideal fit for Michigan's offense:
“Rosen, a strong-armed righty with more than a handful of verbal offers can make every throw required on the next level. He rips the ball down the field to the sidelines and up the seams with equal accuracy and possesses plus arm power. Rosen, who stands tall in the pocket, does a very good job of making accurate throws with balance and natural weight transfer that hits wide receivers in stride and provides the chance to maximize run after the catch yards. He also features a quick arm, but not necessarily as compact of a action as some others. While he isn't a dual-threat prospect, and shouldn't considered that, he is a pro-style signal caller with the ability to move with body quickness in the pocket, buy time and deliver the ball to second and third reads. As physically gifted as Rosen is, in terms of his arm strength and size combo, he is also sharp with the ability to understand scheme and process. He's more than just a strong right arm." -Gerry Hamilton, National Scouting Director, 247Sports
The highlights above lend plenty of credence to that scouting report; aside from some minor mechanical issues (his delivery is a touch long, but we're talking about a high school sophomore here), the worst thing you can say about Rosen's film is that his receivers are largely incapable of catching his perfectly on-target lasers. Yes, DO WANT.
Being from California, Rosen said he may have a tough time visiting Michigan this summer, but interest in the school is definitely there; he'll wait to get his offers, play his junior season, and start the recruiting process in earnest after that.
If the Wolverines need a more local backup plan, it appears they've got a couple. IL QB Jack Beneventi doesn't have an offer but still holds the Wolverines in very high regard, per GBW's Josh Newkirk ($):
While Michigan is currently not on Beneventi’s offer list, the Wolverines’ have shown some interest, as they were in his school recently to talk with his head coach.
“They came and talked my coach,” Beneventi said. “They told him they would be recruiting me hard and keeping in touch. I’m excited about that, it’s Michigan, you know. It’s a huge school. My favorite quarterback is Tom Brady. He went there. I am very interested in Michigan. I also know they are going back to the pro-style now.”
Beneventi is an early four-star (#195 overall) on 247 and already holds a Notre Dame offer, so he looks like a quality option if Rosen—who'll be recruited by everyone—decides to go elsewhere. He's not the only 2015 Illinois quarterback who's got his eyes on Michigan, either; Newkirk also caught up with David Edwards, who... well it sounds like he'd be open to being a Wolverine, that's for sure ($):
“Michigan has always been my favorite school,” Edwards exclaimed. “I love the tradition there. My dad played at Indiana and was a big, big Michigan fan (growing up). He ended up going to Indiana. So, love, love Michigan. Love the Blue.”
Edwards said both coach Curt Mallory and coach Jeff Hecklinski have been by his school to talk to his head coach.
“They just want me to visit at the end of July for the BBQ at the Big House,” Edwards said. “Coach Mallory actually, his father recruited my dad and he recruited my cousin to go to Illinois, and now he is recruiting me to go to Michigan. I think it’s awesome. I feel like I am destined to go to Michigan.”
Edwards doesn't hold any offers yet, but claims "considerable" interest from Michigan, MSU, Ohio State, Stanford, and Florida State; he's tentatively planning to attend Michigan's camp in June. If an offer comes... well, you can read, presumably.
Big Day For Swen Swenson And Swen's Son And No This Isn't Confusing In The Slightest
I'm still very much on board with it being way too early to talk about 2016 recruits, but exceptions must be made. In this case, Michigan offered rising sophomore lineman Erik Swenson of Downers Grove, Illinois, and it's safe to say he's an early Wolverine lean, per TomVH ($):
As Swenson’s father, Swen, discussed the offer over the phone, a neighbor in a Michigan jersey yelled Go Blue. Swenson returned the favor and proudly exclaimed that his son received an offer from the Wolverines.
“We’re ecstatic. This is a huge day for all of us,” Swenson said. “If you’re an elite left tackle it’s kind of hard not to look at Michigan. You have Jake Long, who needs no introduction, and now you have Taylor Lewan.”
Swen Swenson—yes, Swen Swenson—confirmed to GBW that Michigan is at the top of his son's early list ($):
“I think he will really make his choice until after his senior year of football,” said Swen Swenson. “It could change, but I don’t think so. I think he is going to look at all his options and learn about the different academic programs at all the schools. I got to be honest, Michigan is such an awesome academic school and Erik is either interested in becoming a coach or sports management, I know with the Ross school there and Steve Ross being the owner of the Dolphins. And I know with current and former NFL guys that come in and learn business and things like that—it is very exciting for Erik.”
But his father did admit Michigan is pretty high on his sons current school list.
“Well if I had to pick Erik’s top-five schools. It would be Michigan No.1 without a doubt. Notre Dame probably No. 2. Northwestern No. 3., and I would say Ohio State No.4. and maybe Stanford at (No. 5).”
Michigan is the second school to offer Swenson, following Illinois. Oh, and Erik is a 6'6", 280-pound high school sophomore, so presumably many more are to come unless other schools see the above quotes and give in to the seemingly inevitable.
Commit Updates: Speight, Bunting, Rivals250 Rankings
Wilton Speight discussed his Elite11 performance (with highlights), being a part of the #1-ranked class—on ESPN, at least—and his goals for next season:
This week's must-read is Chantel Jennings' feature on tight end commit Ian Bunting—it's unfortunately paywalled, but I had to include this line ($):
But there was one last thing about Michigan that seemed kind of perfect for Ian, and that was his grandmother’s connection there [U-M graduate].
She had been ill for quite a while by the time Ian was in the thick of his recruitment, and when Ian visited her he generally did most of the talking during the conversation. But his grandmother always managed to ask if Michigan had offered yet.
“No,” he always had to tell her.
They had interest, but they had yet to offer the scholarship.
Just three days after she passed away, the call and offer came from Michigan.
“I think she might have had a chat with Bo Schembechler up in heaven,” Bunting joked.
If you have Insider, the whole article is well worth your time.
Rivals unveiled their complete, updated Rivals250 this week. Michael Ferns had a big drop, falling from #84 to #128; Michigan's other commits moved down slightly, and TTB has the whole rundown of Wolverine targets to crack the list.
TTB's overview of the new 247 2015 rankings, which features plenty of players with early Michigan interest.
New 2015 offers went out to TX OLB Anthony Wheeler, FL DB Kevin Toliver (LSU commit), and FL ATH Jeffrey Holland, per multiple outlets. All three made the aforementioned Top247, with Toliver and Holland—high school teammates at Jacksonville Trinity Christian—both in the top 40.
2015 Cincinnati (OH) St. Xavier OLB Justin Hilliard—who holds early offers from the likes of Arkansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Penn State—wants to camp at Michigan and Notre Dame this summer, per Scout's Dave Berk ($).
|Detroit, MI – 5'10", 159|
|Scout||4*, #80 overall,
#9 CB, #3 MI
|Rivals||4*, #131 overall
#10 CB, #3 MI
|ESPN||4*, #88 overall
#13 CB, #1 MI
|24/7||4*, NR overall
#25 CB, #7 MI
|Other Suitors||Uh… Toledo?|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post from Ace. Ace interview.|
|Notes||Cass Tech (everyone). Listed as "Lewis Jordan" on Cass Tech roster for duration of his junior year. : /|
This camp video from Maize and Blue News is pretty useful:
Welcome to Annual Cass Tech Corner. This year's edition is named Jourdan Lewis and is a bit bigger than most—taller, anyway—and is also a pretty good wide receiver. In all other ways he's Cass Tech corner, what with the foregone commitment (a couple weeks after his offer in February, before anyone other than Toledo could pull the trigger) and the being less than six foot tall and being super quick and such.
Yeah, you're probably thinking about all the Annual Cass Tech corners that don't seem to be doing much. What can I say? I know. It's not your fault.
Anyway, all those Cass kids hit a ton of camps and give you a solid view of their talents. Examples follow. Like, say, from the Opening, where Scout named him one of the top ten defensive players in attendance($):
Lewis was one of the top cornerbacks at The Opening in 2012. He broke on the ball very well, he locked up his man much of the time, and he showed the ability to open up his hips and run with the wide receivers. He had some picks and those were nice, but his coverage stood out the most.
Assorted camp takes:
Columbus NTFC (247): "can run with any receiver in the country, and broke up several passes on Sunday … really good ball skills and was one of the quickest through cone drills."
IMG 7on7 (247): "a blanket on receivers throughout the two-day competition … played press coverage and lived in the back pocket of whoever he was checking. When needed, he also provided a boost offensively at receiver for the Maximum Exposure team."
Sound Mind, Sound Body (Scout): "one of the premier cover corners in the country … showed the Wolverine coaching staff what he could do and was even able to make believers out of the opposition. … With the Michigan coaching staff playfully fighting over which side of the ball he’ll play in Ann Arbor, Lewis was matched up with several of the camp’s top wide receivers/defensive backs. and more times than not was able to come up with a reception, deflection or interception."
Opening (Rivals): …has proven time and again that he is fast and instinctual and the Michigan commit proved it again Sunday when he stepped in front of another pass and picked it off and had a great pass breakup in the title game. … He takes chances sometimes too often but they usually work out and his closing speed is off the charts."
An Only Incompetent Germans Showcase (247): "outstanding at both wide receiver and defensive back at the combine. Lewis is a lot more physical than he gets credit for. At cornerback, Lewis does an fantastic job of reading wide receiver tendencies and jumping on a route. Lewis showed good physicality when playing up in bump-man coverage, re-routing receivers at the line of scrimmage and fighting for the ball in the air on deep patterns."
- He was also at the Army Bowl, where he was "very impressive($)" on the second day, where he "blanketed the big receivers deep and used his speed to keep up with the faster ones." Rivals's take:
Lewis is the smallest of the West cornerbacks, but he doesn't play like it. He has great hops, elevates well against bigger receivers and is very consistent getting his head around and playing the ball. His work against guys such as Seals-Jones and Derrick Griffin was especially impressive given how many inches he's giving away.
- /scratches Todd Howard off of potential YMRMFSPAs
Since Lewis was an early commit, Ace took in a number of his games. (He did the same with Delano Hill but since Hill was an Iowa commit he didn't pay close attention to him.) Lewis was named his "boom or bust" player of the year. Ace took in the Cass-OLSM showdown and came back with a mixed review:
On defense, he showed off his signature recovery skills in making a nice pass breakup on a deep hitch, and was only beaten once in man coverage all night.
There are a couple major concerns I have with Lewis, however, that were on display on Friday night. He does rely on that recovery speed far too much in man coverage … Then there's run support, where Lewis is very limited by his small frame; at his size, he has to be completely committed to throwing his weight around and tackling with proper technique, and I don't see that at this point. He tends to dive for an ankle-tackle and shies away from major contact—there's a stark contrast between him and [2013 OSU commit Damon] Webb, who's both bigger and more willing to lay a hit.
In an earlier game Ace caught against Renaissance Lewis mostly played wide receiver, and well. Other in-game takes echo that evaluation, with Scout's Allen Trieu praising Lewis's quickness, feet and ability to contest passes against a 6'3" guy while being polite about the hitting bit:
He did come up and get in on some tackles, but being physical and getting stronger are the parts of his game he needs to continue to improve on. As a pure cover guy though, he's very good and could pay slot receiver in college as well.
Non-camp-specific reports are Cass Tech Corner all the way. ESPN($)'s eval is generally positive before mentioning the run support:
Lean with more than adequate height and good arm length. … Flashes very good speed, but great recovery quickness. He shows good awareness and anticipation skills in coverage. Transitions with clean footwork and is crisp out of his breaks with good burst. He shows great timing and quickness jumping routes. Lewis has sudden change-of-direction skill to mirror receivers tightly off the line or out of their breaks. Flips his hips to run fluidly and retains proper inside positioning staying between the ball and receiver. Will go up and high-point the jump ball with great leaping skills and body control. He plucks it away from taller receivers. …will be challenged when trying to set the edge on run support and limit run after catch from bigger college receivers until he adds bulk, strength and physically develops.
Scout's profile lists body control, hands, and instincts as positives while noting his (all together now) size is an issue.
Great all around athlete who made plays at both corner and receiver. Excellent hands and ball skills, as well as playmaking instincts. Seems to have a knack for big plays. Size makes matchups with bigger receivers tough, but he has shown a willingness to come up and hit in run support.
They do have a point. This series just profiled Ross Douglas, who will compete with Lewis and others to back up Blake Countess. Douglas is 20 pounds heavier than Lewis, and the main issue people have with his ability is his size. Tim Sullivan just told it like it is($) after the Rivals Challenge last year: "Lewis is a tiny dude." (He still said his stock had gone up.)
So. Tackling is a major issue and this limits Lewis to field corner only. He's not going to take away a job from Dymonte Thomas at nickel and the boundary corner is always going to be a bigger guy. That restricts his potential impact, and may free him up for a jack of all trades role as he auditions for the punt return job—a consistent strength of his at Cass—and maybe tries his hand at wide receiver, where his frame doesn't matter much. I mean:
The 5-foot-11, 170-pound Lewis is going to Michigan to play cornerback, but he is also a BCS-caliber wide receiver prospect. Lewis is so quick with his cuts that he creates instant separation from defensive backs, and he also has great hands.
It sounds like less of a backup plan and more of a 50/50 shot, especially since when Michigan was planning Jourdan Lewis's career at Michigan they didn't know it would (PROBABLY) overlap with that of Jabrill Peppers.
Why Terry Richardson? Richardson is a highly athletic cover corner who is extraordinarily slight and is still working through that as he tries to get on the field. Also is from Cass Tech, yeah.
Lewis is taller and gets praise for playing larger than he seems; I still suspect that as he moves up a level of competition the result when he tries to tackle a guy is going to look a lot like Courtney Avery as a freshman: dive and pray. If he can overcome that he can be a Countess heir apparent. This will take time and luck.
Guru Reliability: Exacting. Cass, healthy, on the radar forever, every possible camp.
Variance: High. Despite being high rated by just about everyone Lewis could bust if he never puts on weight and can't tackle anyone. Also, until a Cass corner actually plays well in a college football game that's skepticism-inducing.
Ceiling: Moderate-plus. Never going to be a thumper, a little size deficient, could be a really good cover guy.
General Excitement Level: Moderate. The variance is somewhat balanced by an apparent ability to play WR. He could put on enough weight to be an effective player in college, but whenever you're asking someone to do that you risk robbing them of their stand-out talent.
Projection: Redshirt. If Michigan wants to play Cass Tech Corner they have two other options who know the defense better and have put on some weight; in year one Lewis is likely to get bowled over by anyone who wanders in his direction.
Post redshirt he's in the same boat as Ross Douglas, biding time for (probably) two more years of Blake Countess and hoping for a break. If he stays at corner, waits until his redshirt junior year to seriously compete for a starting job, whereupon the other three corners in this class will provide competition along with anybody in the previous classes looking feisty.
Yeah, "if" he stays at corner. Michigan has an idea as to what they want at WR that does not include 5'10" guys but there's a reasonable chance the need is greater there than at corner and he slides over to play slot. If Michigan gets Peppers and both Stribling and Dawson work out, it would be a waste to let Lewis idle behind those guys.
Cracks in Fort Schembechler
This week we got a couple of very short glimpses into the otherwise locked-down existence of Michigan football. Normally under the current regime, we don't hear or see much of anything between the end of Spring ball and the beginning of fall practice unless a player is hit by a meteor (i.e. "suffered some off-season setbacks"), gets arrested ("has some learning to do"), or gets frozen in carbonite ("has struggled to get in game shape"). So when you get six seconds of live-action footage, YOU TAKE IT.
Enter: Devin Gardner's Vine account.
THINGS WE LEARNED:
- Fitz still has two legs. Those legs can support the weight of a human being as that human being does various physical activities. MEDICAL SCIENCE: HOW DOES IT WORK?
- Fitz has some dance moves. I have no idea what kind of moves, mind you... but they are moves nonetheless.
- Jeremy Gallon hates shirts
- Gallon's cloaking device still works, and is so now effective that the coaches have insisted that he carry a bell around with him so he can't sneak up on people anymore.
THINGS WE LEARNED:
- If you hang around on State Street long enough, Blake Countess and Devin Gardner will entertain you.
- Countess can do a standing back-handspring back-tuck.
- When Countess does a standing back-handspring back-tuck, I try to spot him through the computer screen so he won’t get hurt.
- Most urgently, the only logical explanation for this video is that the surgeons must have botched Blake Countess's surgery. It's kinda like Rookie of the Year, except instead of gaining a wicked fastball, Countess has lost the ability to backpedal. The only way he can move backwards is through some combination of back handsprings and back tucks. And sure, that might work on short and intermediate routes, but what of the deep ball? Even if he gets back there, he'll be too dizzy to make a play on the ball. No, no, no, this is all wrong.
[Side note: Countess is not the first Michigan football player with some gymnastics skillz. Brandon Graham was once a guest judge for the UofM Women's Gymnastics team's intra-squad scrimmage, and as part of that event he put together a video of himself doing some legitimate tumbling. If anyone has this video, you are needed at the Youtube. Also, it confirms Bo's lesser-known mantra that Those Who Do Gymnastics Will Be Really Good Defensive Players]
[ED: Ace has located additional backflip footage of Kenny Demens and Brandon Graham from Mock Rock 2009, starting at 2:00
But then of course Yellow Jackets are non-migratory
…and Oregon State:
/writes hilarious #BeaverBarrage joke
/deletes joke for being inappropriate
/repeats many, many times
But then a GA at Georgia Tech…. well, see for yourself.
There are many, many more. Like, a disturbing amount. Click the link if you want, but be warned that it will make you more than a little concerned for humanity.
If you’re wondering what “The Migration” is, his theory is that so many people should want to move from the northern states to Georgia, it should qualify as a migration. And he tried to turn the thing into a viral meme that encompassed other memes. A metameme, if you will.
But there are a couple of TEEEEENSY problems with this idea. The first is that as we have been told every day for the last decade, all of the talent EVER CREATED comes from the south. Slow people with no coordination and tiny hands (the better to stickhandle you with, my dear) come from the north. The second problem is that if you want recruits to mentally associate your school with this fancy new meme you created, your school should actually be mentioned IN the meme. No one commits to "Migration." This is your classic talk-up-the-Funke-name-and-then-announce-yourself-as-Tobias scenario, but without David Cross it just doesn't work. And third, and most important, your stuff is ridiculous and you should feel ridiculous.
Emojis for all
Marlon Humphries is a very highly rated corner in the '13 class. As such, he's probably used to getting bombarded with tweets exhorting him to "OMG COME TO OUR SCHOOL." So when a Mississippi State fan named Sarah Jackson tweeted him a message saying, "I can't wait to see you at #HailState [winky-face emoji] [heart-eyes emoji]," he might not have thought anything of it. But for whatever reason (possibly because the accompanying avatar of a couple of young ladies) he opened her page. And, well...
I'm sorry, Ms. Jackson, but are you for real? If you don't recognize the recipients (and good for you for not being a crazy stalker who tweets a bunch of recruits at the same time), they are all highly ranked recruits from the
'13 '14 [ED: thanks, Shoe] class. The scary part is that this was just a sampling. There were more. MANY more. Jackson has since deleted her profile, which is probably a wise move.
The real mystery here, though, is the heart eye emojis. Humphries got one. Jamarco Jones didn't. About half got the heart eyes, but half didn't. I guess she ACTUALLY wanted to see some of them at #HailState, but didn't much care about the rest. But she still wanted do her recruiting duty. She had a job to do, ya know? Otherwise how would recruits know where they were wanted?
[Ed-S: Alternate theory: heart glasses cost extra recruiting points.]
'Crootin, man. 'Crootin.
Who could have seen that coming?
Have you ever heard any sports talk radio? And do you remember that scene in Good Will Hunting where Ben Affleck goes to the job interview pretending to be Matt Damon? The good people at the LA Kings apparently answered those questions with a resounding "nope," and "was that the one where they were the angels and Alanis Morissette was God?" They allowed a morning radio host to take over their Twitter account for the second period of the Kings' playoff game against the Sharks. The results were duh:
If you were wondering, “what’s the worst that could happen,” Mr. Ryder opened the bidding at ‘rape joke.’ Now, in the Kings defense... uh... I've got nothing. This was the most obviously dumb thing ever.
A Sad, Final Jose Canseco Update
Regular readers to this column know my love of the exploits of Jose Canseco. His zany, carefree, tin-foil hat wearing, megalomaniacal attitude brought some amusing moments. In hindsight, those same traits, and indeed those same amusing tweets, hinted at a darker side to Canseco’s unstable psyche.
Yesterday, Canseco tweeted that he was being accused of rape. He named his alleged victim. He listed her phone number. He tweeted her address and place of work. He tweeted her picture. I don’t feel like going to deeply into the sordid details, but you can read a (details redacted) summary here and here. Needless to say that we will no longer be tracking what Mr. Canseco has to say, either in real life or on Twitter.
[In part 1, Michigan offensive coordinator Al Borges describes a typical game week and talks about the process of game preparation. In part 2, Borges talks about game day, calling plays, the infamous Ohio State game, and bubble screens. There is no part 3. =( ]
Okay it’s game day. I’m guessing the first thing you do is meet with all the coaches.
“Yeah. What we do is we’ll -- we don’t actually meet. We’ve already got that pretty much out of our system, although I’ve been at places where we did. I’ve been at places where the head coach wanted to meet on game day and talk about everything. But we’ve already hashed all that out. There’s no reason to bother with that at that point.
“But you know, we get up and have a little walk-through usually down at the church -- by the church across the street from the Campus Inn.”
I think I’ve seen you guys.
“Yeah. We’ll have a little walk-through, which is great. It gets the guys thinking about football. We started doing that about the middle of our first year. And then there’s a pre-game [meeting], depending on when the game is.
“Something that’s worthy of mention is that we go through a call-sheet rehearsal with all the interns and everybody that puts that together. You have to understand that I’m a bit of a technological moron. I don’t do --
[Borges gestures to his computer]
“-- All this stuff. I’m too old. I’m not real computer savvy and all that. I mean I can open a computer and find stuff for the most part if you want anything … I let the GAs kind of do that. But what we do is we go through sometimes as many as two or three games with those guys, and one with the quarterbacks where we’ll put a game on, and I’ll call the game practicing off -- say we’re playing Notre Dame and Notre Dame played USC. I’ll put the USC game on, put my call sheet in front of me, and whatever SC did, if they gained three yards [to get to] a second and seven, I will practice the call in that area that I would call in that situation. And maybe Notre Dame played Purdue, SC, and whoever. With those three games I’ll go through a whole call sheet of three games just practicing calling the plays. And we’ll do that on Friday so that, just like the players, I’ve rehearsed what I’m going to call and what I’m going to do. That Friday the quarterbacks will come in and I’ll do it with the quarterbacks.”
So they know what you’re thinking.
“See, what you’re trying to do with a game plan is you’re trying to present as few surprises as possible to them. The more surprises you get, the more likely you’ll have an error.”
I see. So you do the walk-through, pre-game stuff, and you’re super prepared. A couple hours before the game, you make it down to the Stadium and go up to the box. Then what?
“I watch the band.”
“I watch the band!”
Oh okay …
“I’m done! There’s nothing else to do. There’s no build-up to a crescendo. I just watch the band. Put the call sheet in front of me. Get everything in order. Have a little note sheet. My intern up there, he will pass me errors as the game progresses -- Stephen Weins. He’ll write things down, and every series he’ll give them to me, and then I’ll get Devin or whoever the quarterback is on the phone and go over the errors so that everything’s being addressed as it’s screwed up.”
Ah. I’m kind of interested in how communication works between the box and the field.
You’re on the phone with --
“I’m on the phone with Steno (?), who sends the play and everybody can hear the play. The group guy can hear the play so he can send the correct personnel in the game. And we document as we go.”
So you send the call down to the field and the offense lines up. But then the defense comes out in their formation. What if they show you something you weren’t expecting?
“Well, you have built-in … Certain plays you run and you don’t really care. You run and you don’t worry about what the defense is doing because they can handle pretty much anything. Other plays are what we call ‘must-audible’ situations, where the play is not conducive to what you’re seeing and your likelihood for success is not good. So the quarterback should get you out of the play. And then we have what we call ‘advantage’ audibles where the defense maybe lined up giving you something you didn’t anticipate and the quarterback will get you into an advantage situation. And then you have ‘check’ plays where you’ll have two plays called in the huddle: one versus a certain look, another versus another look.
"You know, you’ve got so many ways [to call] a play -- the game’s become very sophisticated that way where you can use a lot of on-the-line-of-scrimmage plays. We’re not a team that peeks to the sideline to get a lot of plays and stuff. The pro quarterback is programmed to do -- if he sees this, do that, and if he sees this, do that, and so on.”
How is Devin doing in that respect?
“Oh he’s good. Yeah. But he’s been in the system for a few years. Plus he played wide receiver, which didn’t hurt any. He’s seen it from both perspectives, which you don’t really have with most quarterbacks. They don’t really understand. So he does pretty good. The more the quarterback plays, the more he’s afforded the lattitude of changing the plays and doing whatever. The newer the quarterback, the less you get into a chess game on the line of scrimmage.”
Gotcha. I want to ask you about something you’ve said in the past, about how the success of your offense later in the game is often dependent on your success earlier in the game --
“Right -- turns."
"Your issues with play-calling are what I call ‘turns.’ How many turns do you get? How many chances do you get? How many first downs do you get so that you can call more plays? And this is where you become a victim of execution to a degree.
“There’s a lot of criticism, I know, from the Ohio State game, which the plan was very similar [to the Iowa game] and there was a lot of the lauding or praises for the Iowa game. A lot of the [Ohio State] plan was in the Iowa game. There was a lot of the same stuff. There was a little more nuance that we actually ended up running in the bowl game -- I’m telling you something I haven’t told anyone before -- but the second half of the Ohio State game we didn’t get to a lot of those calls because we failed on third-down-and-short situations several times. We failed, we turned the ball over a couple times. A lot of those calls don’t get out of your mouth. You see what I mean?
“I told you guys this in the press conference, and I remember saying this: everybody’s going to complain about the play-calling and who’s touching the ball, you know? Getting carries? If you’re not getting first downs, you’re not getting calls out. You don’t get that turn. You lost that turn, because something went wrong and you didn’t move the chains. You turn the ball over. And now everybody’s going to think you screwed it up, which, at the end of the day, maybe you did. It’s not all the players; it’s the coaches, too, now. We don’t always make the perfect call. But the bottom line is at the end of the day, if you don’t get a lot of chances to call plays, you’ll always be short. You won’t rush the ball very well. Nobody will rush for 100 yards. You won’t have a receiver catching over 100 yards. Your quarterback won’t have good numbers. You have to keep the chains moving so the play-caller can get more calls off. You’re in a constant situation where you’re trying to set plays up, but if you don’t get to those plays, you never get to the counterpunch.”
I see. So for your offense to be successful, you need the opportunity to run plays so you can set up other plays.
There were plays that you ran in the bowl game that you didn’t run against Ohio State because you weren’t able to set them up?
What would happen if -- let’s say there’s a run play that has pass component as the counter punch. If the run wasn’t successful, could you still call the pass?
“Doesn’t work that way. Because you have to understand the residual effect of football plays. This is very difficult for fans to understand. And I’m not being condescending, because it would be for me if I were [a fan].
"People sometimes don’t understand the value of a failed play. Sometimes the defense overdefends a play and gives you another play by doing so. So you may run a run in there and it doesn’t gain anything, and obviously people say, ‘Quit running the ball up the middle!’ How many times do you hear that? ‘Don’t run the ball up the middle!’ Well sometimes running up the ball up the middle will afford you the opportunity to pull the ball out and throw the ball down the field, because people are so aggressive with playing that play up the middle. I call it the residual effect of football plays. What’s the leftover effect of what we just did?
"If both plays don’t work, then you probably have a problem. Either the plan wasn’t good or your execution’s off. There’s only two ways plays fail. The plan isn’t good or your execution is lousy. Overdefended, underexecuted. That’s why plays fail. But you have to understand that a play, just because it fails, doesn’t mean it’s a bad play. It may give you something down the line. For example, if you ran the ball into the line of scrimmage and gained a half a yard. But the play-action pass off that play gained 35 yards. What’s the average of the two plays?”
“Would you take that?”
I’d take that.
“Not a man in the world wouldn’t. And that’s why you have to understand, that’s how it works sometimes. It costs something at times to get to that 35-yard gain.”
How does having a head coach like Brady Hoke who goes for fourth downs and hates settling for field goals change the way you call plays?
“You just have to be prepared for those situations, you know? When he says, ‘I’m going for it on fourth-and-one,’ just make sure you have a play ready. Sometimes he’ll ask, ‘How do you feel about it?’ and he’ll get on the headset.
“Now the one thing that people don’t understand -- they think that because he doesn’t wear a headset he’s not communicative. That’s insane. You have to be on my end of it. Any time something’s crucial, he does have a headset on and he is communicative. Two-minute drills, fourth-and-one. He makes sure that all that stuff’s in. I’ve never been up there not knowing what to do based on his decision right away.”
Do you like his aggressiveness?
“Oh yeah. Hell yes. Sends a great message to everybody. The offense, the defense, to the whole team. We’re not playing this thing to tie to game. We’re playing this thing to win the game, which means … sometimes Babe Ruth struck out, right? A lot. More than anybody I think, for a while. You’re going to swing and miss at times, but if you don’t swing hard, you ain’t gonna hit a home run. You have to go out there and you have to play.”
And it probably helps knowing that on third down, you have two chances to convert.
“Yeah, and he’ll keep you informed when he’s going to do that generally. He’ll say, ‘You have two to do that.’ Again, he does a great job of communicating. He’ll say, ‘Al, you have two plays to make this first down.’ Unless something blows up, he’ll stick to that. Like if you get sacked for a seven-yard loss, he’ll say, ‘All bets are off. We’re kicking a field goal now.’
“He’s awesome because coach Hoke never loses his composure. While other coaches are screaming in skulls or yelling at the officials or yelling at their own team or they’re doing whatever, he’s always composed. He’s doing whatever gives you a chance -- we’ve come back in a lot of games since I’ve been here. Several games we’ve been behind. And [the fact that we win] is generally the head coach. The head coach sends that message more than anybody. He doesn’t lose it, so nobody loses it.”
What do you do at halftime?
“Just go down and look at what they’ve done defensively, you know? Take all the data that I’ve been given from in the box and from the guys downstairs and then put together a new script of plays. Maybe it’s not 15-17 plays. Maybe eight or nine plays. But put together a new script of plays that we think were overdefended or underdefended and start the second half and put some plays in that maybe we didn’t run in the first half, maybe we didn’t get a chance to call it.”
Okay. Time is almost up, so let’s talk some philosophy. What do you think is the most efficient way to move the ball?
“Oh. Through balance. It’s the ability to run and pass with balance. Because that’s what the defense doesn’t want to see. Most of the time, why we fail offensively is our inability to do one or the other. Run or a pass. When you’re the most effective in playcalling … I can go like this, Heiko.”
[Borges pulls out the Ohio State call sheet. Without looking, he points to a random play.]
“Read 64 --”
(I am not sure what this means.)
“-- And it works. You want to know why? Because we threw a pass out of read 64 and now they have to defend [the pass] and pray you [pass]. It doesn’t make any difference. When they’re forced to defend both dimensions, the safeties have to play softer, which allows you to run. You understand?”
“If they’re playing too aggressively on the run, the outside becomes more vulnerable. It’s hard to defend everything unless you’re imposing.”
So you call the formation and the play, but the quarterback ultimately decides run or pass?
“Right, but not with every play. It just depends on the play. Certain times, yes, exactly. And the decision within the passing game, too. Once you’ve called a pass play, the decision-making’s huge. It’s not forcing the ball into coverage knowing that certain times they take certain throws away. And you have to have a contingency plan for every single play. I learned this from Bill Walsh. This is the first thing I learned in pass offense. When everything’s not perfect, what’s your contingency plan? Who’s the next guy? And then who’s the next guy after that? And then if nobody’s open, what’s the quarterback do? You have to have a plan after that that’s not helter-skelter. You can’t go out there willy-nilly and say ‘This didn’t work, let’s turn this into backyard football.’ There has to be structure within your improv.”
Speaking of Bill Walsh, what’s the endpoint in the evolution of the Michigan offense?
“What do you mean?”
Well, you and Brady have talked about changing the look of the offense for the last three years. Obviously you’re not there yet, but is there an endpoint to the evolution, and what does that offense look like?
“Oh, it won’t stop evolving. We can’t stop evolving. If you look at the way college football changes over the years -- I mean, what it looks like now doesn’t look the like it did in 1986. Players are getting faster and stronger … What defenses are doing with their coverages and zone blitzing is a lot more sophisticated. If you look at what Michigan was doing back in 1940 with [Tom] Harmon carrying the ball, even the uniforms weren’t the same. You can’t stop evolving. That’s why we do so much time studying what other people are doing. Now, we may not use all of it, but we have to keep up.”
Do you see Michigan as having a niche in college football as far as offense goes?
“Hmm. I don’t know about that … What I can tell you is that we are always going to be balanced. We are going to run and pass with balance, and we’re going to do it in a way that helps our defense, even if that’s not the direction a lot of teams are going.”
What do you mean exactly?
“Well, I’m not going to get into that discussion too much, but so many guys want to run 80 plays a game these days and then they wonder, ‘Gee, why isn’t the defense playing well?’ If I thought we would be more successful going 100 miles an hour all the time, I’d do it.”
Could you do it if you wanted to?
“Oh definitely. We have what we call Nascar, and we could run it all day if I thought it would give us the best chance of winning. But it doesn’t. Over the last three years I’ve done a lot of research, and it shows that you play better as a team when you play to all three phases of the game. Offense, defense, and special teams. It’s a team sport. I’d be more than happy if the offense doesn’t put up a ton of points as long as at the end of the day, we win, because I hate -- I HATE being in that meeting room after a loss. It’s the worst feeling.”
All right. Well thanks so much for your time. Do you mind if I take a photo of you?
“No, go right ahead.”
How about next to your white board. Okay, act like I just asked you about bubble screens.
“Heh. You had to turn this into a [farfergnugen] circus, didn’t you.”
Sorry ... What is your deal with bubble screens anyway?
“I don’t have a problem with them! I just don’t like calling them as much as -- what most people don’t understand is that the bubble screen is an [alternative] to a run play. Here, let me show you.”
[Borges begins scribbling madly on his white board. He has the offense in I-formation and the defense with the defensive back over the slot rolled up in the box as a run defender.]
“The bubble screen is a play designed to take advantage of the fact that this guy --”
[Borges points to the defensive back.]
“Has moved up and inside to defend the run. When you see this, most guys want to throw a weak-[butt] bubble screen and run around it. I would rather --”
[Borges draws an emphatic arrow from the running back to the defensive back.]
“Run right into it and knock the [poop] out of this guy.”
“So it’s not that I’m against calling a bubble screen. I just wouldn’t want to do it and sacrifice five running plays a game. Once or twice? maybe.”
For the record, I don’t actually count the number of bubble screens you call.
“You can do whatever the [heck] you want.”
Not in Ohio. Via Bo Dever's twitter account, Michigan's footballs have taken to redundancy:
I kid, I kid. Ohio is our most special state.
No words. I take that back Plaxico Burress is our most special state.
Where are the exit wounds? Are you telling me Burress is going to be a sock magnate and does not have a sock with exit wounds on it? Life! What a waste!
Batten the hatches. So those hockey games against BC and BU that were rumored but unconfirmed? Yeah, they're at Yost. Michigan has dropped the full hockey schedule and it's a doozy. In addition to the home-and-away against all the Big Ten teams, Michigan's signed up for this nonconference schedule:
HOME: BC, BU, Lowell, Michigan Tech (2x), Niagara, Ferris State
AWAY: RIT, UNH(2x), UNO(2x)
NEUTRAL: WMU, Tech or State
If you stopped paying attention to college hockey out of self defense last year, Lowell was a one-seed, BC and UNH twos, Niagara a three. BU was third behind Lowell and BU in HE last year and got squeezed out of the field. UNO was a middling WCHA team, Tech not so good. There are no Bentley-level patsies at all, as both RIT and Niagara have reached the NCAA tourney in recent years.
Combine that with Minnesota/Wisconsin/MSU/OSU/PSU and that is the opposite of football's 2014 schedule. Michigan chose to thin out its fall schedule with the extra two weeks the Big Ten's hockey-spiting playoff system provided, taking a bye the week of the Nebraska game and playing only once the week of the Iowa game.
I'll take it. ESPN's reporting that the Pizza bowl is dead and will be replaced by another event at Ford Field matching a Big Ten team against an ACC team, which everyone is going to hate except M and MSU fans. But I'm one of them so woo.
George Perles isn't phased. I mean, what's better than Detroit in December? Detroit outside in December.
Keep up with the Joneses, plz. One of pleasant surprises from a couple of trips to the SEC has been the presence of both bands at the game even for non-rivalry matchups like (mediocre) Auburn versus LSU. The second time I asked around to see if I had gotten a fluke, and southerners looked at me with horror and pity once they realized Big Ten football usually has one band involved.
Ohio State's going to change that, mostly:
Gordon Gee, Gene Smith and the powers that be at Ohio State got together and determined that the College of Arts and Sciences and athletic department would continue financing the band. But one key change would be the addition of the Development Office of the President. Instead of a miniscule $220,000 operating budget – ninth in the Big Ten – the Buckeyes will have $1 million, which vaults them to first. With it comes more travel.
The band will attend road games at California, Purdue, Illinois and Michigan.
Meanwhile Michigan scrounges for pennies to send the MMB to a game against friggin' Alabama and the Uber Alles subset of the fanbase praises that decision as sly money-grubbing genius instead of a slap in the face to the band and fans. If only this was true:
When Michigan’s band traveled to the Cowboys Classic in Dallas last season for the Wolverines’ game with Alabama, it cost the university an estimated $400,000. The decision to send the band came after heavy criticism when it was announced they would not make the trip. Less than a year later, it appears two of the nation’s premier marching bands have earned a spot near the top of their university’s hierarchy.
The MMB is the same as it ever was. They will travel probably once this year, the free trip to East Lansing. State College, Evanston, Iowa City not so much, let alone UConn.
Pay attention to Mike Hart, plz. Hart on his quick ascension to the top of the depth chart and what Derrick Green can do to replicate that feat:
"The biggest thing I tell my guys is I didn't get all the reps (when I was a freshman), but I made sure I watched every rep," Hart said. "There's freshmen on my team over there talking, and they don't know the playcall or what's going on.
"You can process these things without getting a physical rep. I think that's kind of what helped me transition, is I was only getting a couple reps, but I was really getting 15 reps per period. A new playcall, I was thinking about what I had to do and how I had to do it."
Draft order set, now we can wince at what will happen. SI has Trey Burke going to New Orleans at #6 while the Pistons get the flashing red light that is Shabazz Muhammad. Hardaway does not appear. Glen Rice Jr. does, though, and a year after he got booted from GT's team.
Hated Chad Ford($) has Burke #2 to Orlando, has the Pistons taking walking red flag Anthony Bennett—LOSE GAMES AT THE END OF THE SEASON FOR PANTS SAKE—and puts Hardaway at the tail end of his first round, going to Denver after "one of the best performances of anyone at the combine." He brought "an intensity with him that few players could match"?!?!?
Do we think Mitch McGary and Hardaway pulled a Derrick Rose-SAT-swap here maybe? I do. I think Hardaway convinced Mitch McGary to pretend he was Hardaway at the NBA combine. This is a thing that happened.
UMHoops breaks things down in more detail.
Etc.: Michigan has two Parade All Americans, equalling the rest of the conference combined. MSU has two quarterbacks. Uh oh? Softball ace Sara Driesenga profiled. The News on Patrick Biondi's stellar senior season. Denard Robinson is not exactly a trekkie. Michigan State fans looking for love.