Dear Coach Saban,
Congratulations on your recent College Football National Championship. Your Defense was truly inspiring, if not your television ratings. We hope all is well with you and your staff. We trust that you are enjoying a well deserved break before spring practice starts in earnest.
We, the Michigan faithful, are writing to you to ask you for your wisdom and guidance in an area where you are the undisputed master of the college football world. You see, we at Michigan suddenly find ourselves in a position that, quite frankly, bewilders and confuses us.
No doubt you've heard about the recent recruiting tear that we are on. It's only March, and we've already signed 11 4-star recruits, 8 of them in one weekend! That's more than the rest of the B1G teams . . . combined. But now it is starting to get out of hand. We are on the verge of having to turn away elite recruits in March because all of our slots are filling up. Worse, we are in a position where many of the players we may have to turn away are 5-stars. It's true. We have 5-stars lined up waiting to replace the 4-stars that we just recruited.
It's just not funny any more. We can't keep up with this madness. And with Coach Hoke on board at Michigan, it's likely to become an annual problem.
Coach, it has become clear to us that there is only one answer: Oversigning.
Yes, we know we are on record as being vigorously opposed to Oversigning. It's true we have looked down our noses on the SEC in general, and on this topic in particular. But that was when it was only a theoretical concept. Now that it's a real issue for us, well you know, we can kind of see the appeal. Perhaps we were a bit too harsh. Perhaps we were a bit too judgmental. There are lots of new innovative concepts out there being tried by true pioneers such as yourself, Coach Saban. Maybe it's time for us to quit being so insular, and get caught up to modern times.
The problem is, we're babes in the woods. We're Oversigning virgins. We don't understand any of this stuff . . . Greyshirting . . . Medical Hardships . . . and don't even get us started on how you can get to a roster of 85 players by signing 25 a year for 4 years. Our heads just hurt. So we ask ourselves: "What would Nick Saban do?” As the undisputed master of Oversigning, we humbly ask for your sage advice.
Coach Saban: Please teach us how to Oversign.
We have watched in awe all these years your expertise in Oversigning. We have watched you essentially recruit 5 classes to everyone else’s 4. We have watched you masterfully clear up roster space of, shall we say, "disposable players" to keep the recruiting pipeline flowing. We have even watched you clear up space within a recruiting class for better players, before any of those players even stepped foot on campus. Now that's Oversigning mastery.
Nick, please teach us the tricks of the trade. A skill-set such as yours should not be locked away. It needs to be shared where it will do the most good.
We at Michigan are ready for your lessons. We are willing to be your loyal apprentice. We will be the Luke Skywalker to your Yoda of Oversigning.
Thank You for your consideration,
The Michigan Faithful. Go Blue!
P.S. We are truly sorry for all the grief we caused you when you were at Michigan State. We were just doing what comes natural to us. It turns out your observations about MSU always being second fiddle to Michigan were on the money. In fact, they even came up with a name for it: "Little Brother". The current regime up there can certainly relate to your plight. But it all worked out OK for you. You moved on to "greener" pastures (sorry, lame joke). I hope we can let bygones be bygones and put this unfortunate history behind us, okay?
Since the men’s basketball team is still in the hunt for the Big 10 Conference crown, I feel inspired to look back at the year when Michigan last saw it’s hoopsters as the top of the conference heap. Let’s journey back to 1986…
Ronald Reagan is president and disarmament talks with Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev are in full swing. It is the time of Perestroika and Russia is less scary than it used to be as the Cold War continues its denouement.
Reagan’s popularity takes a hit as the details of the Iran-Contra scandal begin to come to light. Ferdinand Marcos is ousted from power in the Philippines and his wife’s shoe collection becomes an enduring punch line. We learn about Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi for the first time…and after we bomb Tripoli, we don’t hear from him all that much until the Arab Spring.
It is the year of the Challenger tragedy and the Chernobyl disaster. Halleys Comet paid the Earth a visit, the Dow Jones was approaching 2000 and we were joining Hands Across America. It is the year the Bears did the Super Bowl Shuffle, Buckner doesn’t get his glove to the ground, and Larry Bird tastes champagne for the final time. Jack Nicklaus wins his last major at 46, Argentina wins the World Cup in Mexico, and Mike Tyson becomes the heavyweight champion of the world.
If you were a teenager, like myself, then you probably had a crush on Alyssa Milano, and lusted after Kathy Ireland or Elle Macpherson. You learned that Tom Cruise had a “need for speed” and Ferris Bueller explained to you that ‘life moves pretty fast”. You still wanted your MTV, you watched movies on VHS, listened to music on cassettes, and didn’t know that television or music should be played in HD. Aerosmith and Run DMC told us to “Walk This Way” while The Bangles wanted us to “Walk Like An Egyptian” and Bon Jovi just liked things “Slippery When Wet”.
1986 was also a pretty good time to be a Michigan Wolverine. Men’s basketball finished 28-5, 14-4 in the Big 10 and repeating as Big 10 Champions. That’s right, there was a time when the basketball team was a repeat conference champion. Bill Frieder’s Wolverines were lead by stars Roy Tarpley, Antoine Joubert and Gary Grant. Despite their conference title, Michigan continued their frustrating trend under Frieder of falling short of expectations in the NCAA tournament. In 1986, Michigan entered as a 2 seed but lost in the 2ndround to Iowa State by 3. Louisville, lead by “Never Nervous” Pervis Ellison would go on to win the tournament (the first tournament to feature a shot clock FWIW) over Duke, who were making their first Final Four appearance under Mike Krzyzewski (and featuring future Michigan coach Tommy Amaker).
On the football front, Bo Schembechler fielded one of his greatest teams lead by senior All-American Jim Harbaugh and Jamie Morris and featuring All-Americans Garland Rivers and John Elliot. The Wolverines looked like a strong contender for the national championship, climbing to as high as second in the polls before losing on a last second field goal to Minnesota on the 2ndto last game of the season. Of course the enduring memory of the season now is the Jim Harbaugh guarantee to beat Ohio on the heels of that loss and making good on that promise in Columbus, downing the Bucks 26-24 and winning a share of the Big 10 title and a trip to the Rose Bowl.
Michigan would go on to lose the Rose Bowl to John Cooper’s Arizona State Sun Devils, and finish 11-2 and ranked 7th. Michigan would get the last laugh on John Cooper…or the last dozen laughs when Ohio hired him as their head coach 2 years later and inaugurating 13 years that Buckeye fans now refuse to acknowledge as happening.
The other dominant athletic program on campus was the baseball team, lead by Coach Bud Middaugh. Having featured future MLB players such as Barry Larkin and Chris Sabo and incoming players such as Jim Abbott, Michigan was winning the 5thof the 6 Big 10 titles they picked up during the 1980’s. Middaugh’s record would later be tarnished as Michigan would be placed on probation by the NCAA for violations incurred during Middaugh’s tenure.
Other Michigan sports were on the rise. Two men who now lay legitimate claims to a spot on the Michigan Coaching Mount Rushmore were early into their tenures in Ann Arbor. John Urbanchek was leading the mens swim team to the first of what would be 13 Big 10 titles over the course of his 22 years at Michigan. The Michigan hockey program under Red Berenson was only in Year 2-3 of rebuilding in 1986. Our helmets had no wings, Yost had few fans, and Tiny Jesus was a year away from even being born. Glory seemed remote and fanciful as we were mostly suffering the indignity of living in the shadow of a Michigan State team that was winning the National Championship.
I hope you enjoyed this little stroll through “recent” history, especially since a lot of you probably weren’t even born yet. Just remember that while 1986 may be nostalgia for a lot of you, for some of us it was a time where a guy could wear pastels without being looked at funny, cell phones were something found in prison, and news was disseminated on paper. Here’s to hoping that should Michigan earn a share of the Big 10 title this year, we won’t have to wait another 26 years for the next one. Go Blue!
I figured this would be the easiest way to compile a list of potential inagural class candidates. The 190 comment thread would be a difficult place to keep track, so here we can be a little more organized. Make suggestions and I'll add them to the lists. Since this is just a way to keep track of potential candidates, feel free to throw out some "maybes." Mods, feel free to edit the OP accordingly.
This may also help keep that initial thread focused on the manner in which people are elected, etc. Without further adieu...
|Van Bergen, Ryan||2011|
|Van Bergen, Ryan||Football|
At first I was like...
That's what an extreme, come-from-behind, in-your-face gritty road win will do for your demeanor. #30 Michigan slipped to a dreadful 0-3 deficit on the road against #40 Vanderbilt before a rally led by 3 court Alex Petrone and sealed by 6 court Alex Buzzi won the match for the Wolverines. Buzzi has now won two straight matches on court 6 for Michigan.
It was another slightly schizophrenic day for No. 8 Evan King at 1 court, who prevailed in three sets over No. 66 Charles Jones, 6-2, 1-6, 6-3. I have trouble understanding how one's quality of play can swing so dramatically from set to set. Regardless, King's record has improved to 7-2 in singles matches this season.
Michigan's woes on 2 court continued as Shaun Bernstein was defeated 6-2, 7-6. 4 court Michael Zhu also went down in straight sets, 6-4, 6-2.
Two more matches remain before Big Ten play opens against MSU March 17: at Hawaii March 1, and at Wake Forest March 10. A split would leave Michigan at 6-5 and needing 7 wins out of 11 Big Ten games to match their season record from last year and qualify for the NCAAs. It's doable with this gritty, tenacious team but a sweep would make life easier.
BRAND NEW CHARLIE
When we last left our story, Charlie Blockham awoke to the sounds of
his mother telling him to get ready for school. She also pointed out his hair,
which has grown to monumental proportions in the two months since the
strip has began. What's a full-headed boy to do?
(Click the image to view full size)
I'm very proud to announce that we're doing something very different and
special this week over at the Blockhams.com and @TheBlockhams on Twitter,
affectionately and not-so-eloquently titled...
That's right-- The Blockhams Goes Temporarily Daily!!
For one week only we'll be honoring the hair and style of Ryan Van Bergen and others with AN ENTIRE WEEK OF BLOCKHAMS STRIPS!! The young Blockham has embraced his new identity and the changes that have arrived with it... but what will happen when the new and imrpoved Charlie takes the act to East Pneumonia Elementary???
Join Michigan's only illustrated family as they explore the follicular exploits of Team 132 and beyond! Visit www.theblockhams.com every day to follow the story and celebrate the phenomenon known throughout Schembechler Hall as #Flow.
THE BLOCKHAMS™ runs every Tuesday here at MGoBlog, and at least every
Thursday on its official home page. Also, don't forget to check out our newest
feature, Friday Roughs, a spontaneous low-end comic based on trending
Michigan events, available on Twitter and Facebook every Friday.
Follow THE BLOCKHAMS™ on Twitter at @theblockhams.
And do not forget to LIKE THE BLOCKHAMS™ on Facebook at www.facebook.com/theblockhams. Hurry up, because new exclusive
Blockhams content is coming to Facebook and ONLY Facebook-- Visit now!
Finally, follow the one and only Ryan Van Bergen on Twitter at @VanBergen53.
[Ed-S: Bumped on a light day]
For a few different reasons I decided not to use a grade scale because each player is given different responsibilities by line. Brian Lebler deserved an A because he exceeded expectations, but how do you differentiate his A and Carl Hagelin's? It also helps avoid any kind of backlash I might receive from a player who decides to take a look at what I wrote.
Pre-Season Expectations: Moderate/Low
Coming into the year Guptill was one of six freshman, his role was supposed to be checking for the next four years and here he is as your teams leading scorer.
Big Gup really came up big for the Wolverines as the season went along, becoming a balanced scorer and a huge presence in front of the net. He did not fall into the freshman slump like the others mostly because opponents refused to acknowledge that he was standing in front of the goal by himself, he was given as much space as he needed to tip and redirect pucks all season long.
Coming in labeled as a big man, Guptill showed that he also had college level stick skills from the start. A big man who can lead the rush is more than valuable to a team who loves to run the transition game.
Best Moment: The overtime goal that snapped a 7 game winless streak for Michigan against Alaska, the team would finish the season on a 12-3-3 run.
Pre-Season Expectations: High
The first diary I wrote about hockey was a pre-season preview, I thought that the hardest thing to replace from last years class was going to be the leadership of Matt Rust. We lost a gritty, hard working, team player but Chris Brown has stepped in and done a great job to fill the void.
Brownie provided the best defensive option of our forwards and was a well balanced player. He has great offensive skills, defensive ability, checking and leadership. He provided the anchor for a line that carried the Wolverines through the second half of the season and into the NCAA tournament.
Best Moment: Brown pulling the string on Miami defensemen Will Weber.
Pre-Season Expectations: Moderate
Looking deeper into the stats Wohlberg had a pretty good season statistically, he cut down penalty minutes drastically, improved his +/- by double digits and needs three points to match his career high. Posted a 194-192 record in the faceoff dot (.503%).
The contributions David brings to the team are invaluable, but they get a little overlooked being behind Brown and Guptill. His passing definitely was a major asset for the top line, as his 16 assists tied for team lead among forwards.
Best Moment: Named to the All-GLI team for his tourney preformance.
Pre-Season Expectations: High
It was an interesting season for Treais, who ended the season red hot but spent the first half shying away from the plays and not making much of an impact.
The Daily did a great article on A.J. and he talked about how much being over his playing weight effected his game. When he got himself back into shape he became a completely different player and the talk started to flow in about Treais finally becoming what Red always thought he could be.
After shifting the lines for the first half of the season, Treais fell into place with Di Giuseppe and Glendening to provide a reliable scoring option. He has passed his previous career highs in goals with 15 and points with 26, also improved his +/- by +15.
Best Moment: One timer snipe in overtime to send the Seniors out with a victory.
[After jump: The rest of the team]