at least it's not just us?
EDIT: Pictures should be fixed... sorry for that.
So on September 4th while Michigan was breaking in its brand new digs in Ann Arbor and breaking the record for largest audience to ever watch a football game in America at 113,090, I was halfway across the world making my visit to one of the two (non-racing) stadiums that can claim a bigger capacity than The Big House in Ann Arbor - Rungrado May Day Stadium in Pyongyang, North Korea. With a seating capacity of 150,000 it is the largest stadium in the world. You may have heard Sean McDonough mention it during the beginning of the game as he noted the two stadiums larger than Michigan Stadium.
The stadium, located in the heart of the North Korean capital, dwarfs any stadium I have ever seen (and I consider myself pretty well sports-traveled). The thing was massive.
Myself outside of May Day Stadium w/ my Michigan Season T-Shirt
May Day Stadium from the top of Juche Tower
The stadium is primarily used for the Arirang Mass Games, which take place three times per week from the Months of August to October (usually...). The mass games are one of the largest gymnastics displays in the world, which also feature a human-mosaic backdrop made up of 30,000 students, which essentially becomes the world's largest LED screen - sure to make Jerry Jones envious. If you managed to catch the opening ceremony for the Beijing Olympics in 2008, imagine that but about 100 times grander and more awe-inspiring.
The 'gymnastics' display is much less about the actual sport and more of a narrative opus which tells the story of the Founding of the DPRK (North Korea) and highlights certain Korean cultural aspects as well. It was, easily, the most amazing thing I have ever witnessed in person (and I was at the Big House for UM-MSU in 2004, and at the Capital One Bowl in 2008 to put things in perspective...). Over 100,000 people participated in the display, and just the sheer numbers alone were breathtaking. Not to mention the synchronization and transitions were absolutely flawless. I normally could care less for gymnastics, but this was stunning and unlike anything I had ever experienced before. I was sitting on the edge of my seat the entire performance and did not want it to end. Here are a few more highlight pictures from the event -
Opening act of the Mass Games... the mosaic with the Korean text is made up of 30,000 students holding books with pages of different colors that they change on order from a flag captain. I don't know how they managed to synchronize everything so perfectly. It makes the block M in the student section during a Maize-out look like child's play....
The students were also able to animate the mosaic, as the Korean script was "written" across the mosaic. It was crazy.
Mosaic of Kim Il Sung, North Korea's 'Fatherly Leader'. Even though he died in 1994, he is still the President of North Korea
Although the mosaic was the coolest part of the performance in my opnion, some of the gymnastics displays were superb. My favorite was this Tae Kwon Do, which culminated in two fighters taking on over 80 'bad guys'. It was epic.
The performance lasted around 1.5 hours but I did not want it to end. While stepping into the Big House on football saturdays is still one of the most humbling experiences for me. May Day Stadium took the cake. It's size was unlike anything I have ever seen. Another American who was on the tour with me (and also a die-hard Purdue fan) joked that we should talk to our respective schools about staging a football game over here in the future.
Outside of the mass games, North Korea was one of the most fascinating countries i have ever been too. It really was like traveling to another planet. If you are interested in Korea or enjoy traveling to unique locations, I would highly recommend a trip to the DPRK. It is not cheap by any means, but it is the experience of a life time and is completely safe.
I attend Bowling Green, and although I don't work directly with the team I've seen them a few times so I thought I'd like to share with you guys all I think I know about the Bowling Green football team so you'll be prepared for this upcoming weekend.
- Known to most people as the offensive coordinator at Tennessee that helped put an end to Phillip Fulmer's tenure as Tennessee's head coach a few years back, Dave Clawson is the current head coach at BG. He has a pretty darn good track record other than that one horrible year in Knoxville and will get a BCS-level job in the next few years. My guess would be Virginia Tech once Beamer is done, just because he's a prominant name in the Virginia-area, where he took the Richmond Spiders to the 1-AA semi-finals back in 2007 before losing to... well... uh... that one team with the really good quarterback... 55-37.
- The defense for BG has one hope, turn the ball over. There's not much after that because they are the standard bend but don't break team. They returned three interceptions for touchdowns last night (one was called back for block in the back). They play super soft coverage though. They've given up 30, 33, and 28 points this season and could struggle this weekend.
- The offense is what I imagine the 49ers west coast offense was like in the 80's, at least from what my Dad always described. Short passes to whoever is open within first two steps. That's how Freddie Barnes amassed 155 catches last season in 13 games(!!!) and how Jr. Kamar Jordan leads the nation this year with 34 receptions in three games this season.
- Despite the gaudy numbers by the recievers, Bowling Green has a redshirt freshman as starting quarterback, #7 Matt Schilz, who is smart with the ball but lacks serious arm strength, at least that's according to rivals. He was knocked out of last night's game in the third quarter with an injury. Backup quarter back is a sophomore, #14 Aaron Pankratz. Has more arm strength, a little bigger in the pocket, not quite as mobile. Think a 2-star version of John Navarre.
- The running back Willie Geter has dreads(!). The 5'7" running back has seriously quick acceleration but has been questioned on his top speed.
- BG has a starting freshman defensive back* (I stand corrected, he's not a cornerback) named... Booboo Gates. He's a little bigger than Michigan's Booboo was and he plays pretty well on the defensive side and returned an interception for a touchdown last night.
- Anybody else wish Michigan had an extra kicker on hand? Well, Bryan Wright could've been that guy, except he decided to take his talents down US 23 about 50 miles and spend his last year of eligibility kicking, punting, and kicking off. He's three for six on field goal attempts this season and surely could've been of at least some use for the winged helmets this year.
- Completely OT but Bowling Green has one of the sweetest rivalry trophy histories in the history of rivalry trophies. The "Peace Pipe" is the trophy and between 1947 and 1969 the basketball teams from Toledo and Bowling Green would smoke a substance from the pipe at halftime as a offering of peace to the other school! What was actually being smoked has never really been officially said... but it was the 60's... so take that for what you will. It's now just a trophy that is played for by the football teams each year.
So, to wrap this up for now, if you can't watch the game this weekend and can only read the box score with the stats sheet, do not be alarmed if Bowling Green has a reciever with 15 catches on Saturday and a player named "Booboo" with an interception. This game will not be Toledo 08', although BG has beaten them, including in 08', the last few years in the battle for I-75.
EDIT: I said Booboo was a cornerback, well, I just pretty much said that to compare him to Michigan's Booboo. He's a nickel back, but the comparison is there. He makes plays, and he's a freshman, and his name is Booboo. And so I love him for that.
I went to Bowling Green because I wanted quality education and BGSU provides that for me. I don't think there's much of a problem with me prepping Michigan fans on this upcoming weekend.
So to sum it up, I gave the Michigan fans my own personal thoughts on Bowling Green's football team without degrading the University in anyway possible. I'm going to the game as a fan Saturday, and I'm not wearing apparel of either school as to still be a professional.
The Denard Robinson Action Figure was created digitally. I thought it would be funny to fake a realistic-looking action figure of college football's brightest new star. Legal representation from the University of Michigan and the Heisman Trust didn't carefully read my explanation and therefore did not see the humor in what they assumed to be a production-ready toy meant for sale. I think I have that cleared up now. Anyway, you can read more below if you want a little information about how this artwork was created.
I had planned to release this during the bye week but couldn't wait...
When I started this weekly wallpaper project I decided that I would not design any wallpapers that show players or that focus on conventional Michigan imagery. There are several really nice wallpaper collections of that variety on this site already (see the awesome Wallpaper Denard-aganza by shorts) and I wanted to try something a little different.
In spite of my best efforts, I managed to get swept up in the excitement about Denard Robinson after last week's game. As an outlet for my excess fan energy, I started last Sunday on a concept for a new take on the "wallpaper as hero worship" phenomena.
So, I offer the Denard Robinson action figure "Heisman Candidate Edition" with "New! Rocket Arm Throwing Action" and lifelike, "Laces Untied."
The image below is a preview only. You can get this week's widescreen, 4:3, iPad and mobile wallpapers at The Art. The Art. The Art!.
How it was made
I'm pretty tired from several late nights obsessing over every little detail (Exactly how much tape shows over Denard's left sock? Is his left or right wristband blue? How many little holes are in his chin strap?) so I don't have time now for a full behind-the-scenes feature but I can tell those of you who are interested that the action figure is a store-bought and modified Tom Brady, that the dreads came from a Troy Palamalu action figure, that all of the modifications were done in Photoshop and that someday (probably the bye week) I will be publishing a step-by-step blog post that shows the makeover in unnecessarily and obsessively fine detail.
All of the 2010 Schedule Wallpapers
It's been no big secret that Denard Robinson is the hottest topic of conversation in college football these first two weeks. Game Day sent Erin Andrews to do a story on him. USA today is talking about the Heisman. Hell the Wall Street Journal did a story on him. Of course you all know what he did to UConn and Notre Dame.
Denard Robinson is flash dilithium!
There really is no argument about his awesomeness, everyone agrees on that. Like many awesome things there always has to be a "But". The big "but" everyone keeps throwing out there about Denard, is that he's going to get killed running the ball that much when Big 10 season starts.
Now look, I agree that carrying the ball 28.5 times per game will be a huge load to carry for an entire year. But that's not going to happen. It's just not. Let's make a couple assumptions about the year for him: the likelihood is that over the next three games or so, Shoelace, will see probably half that load. So let's be generous and say he has 15 carries per game for them. And then let's assume during those three games, the running backs get it going and you begin to see a balance. Again we'll be generous and say Denard carries 20 times per game over the remaining seven games. That puts him at 242 carries for the year or 22 carries per game.
Yes that is still high for a quarterback leading this style of attack (I still believe it will be lower as the defenses get tougher and DC's figure out that they need to take away his legs). But that average isn't crazy. Let's look at some similar QBs:
Pat White - 6'0" 197 his highest total was 15.92 per game his senior year (and that was missing a game).
Josh Nesbitt - 6'1" 217 his highest average was 19.9/game.
Tim Tebow - 6'2" 236 his highest average was 16.15 as a sophomore. But Tebow was a horse so I'm not sure he counts.
Eric Crouch - 6'0" 195 his highest was 16.91 his Heisman year.
Crouch and White are obviously the closest. So Denard will have 66 more carries if the above scenario comes to fruition. But neither of these guys got killed or couldn't hack it carrying the ball the majority of the time.
"But, the Big Ten!" you say. Yeah maybe the bruisers in the Big Ten are more dangerous than the Big East and Big 12 (ten years ago). I don't know, hard to say. So let's assume they are for argument sake.
To that I would like to submit, one, Antwaan Randle El.
Yeah remember him?
Let's see: 5'10" 190. Averaged 19.8 carries per game in 2000. Oh and by the way he freaking returned punts for Indiana! Punts! I think it's also fair to mention that Indiana's offensive line was pretty horrible so who knows how many times he had to take off running when protection wore down. And we should throw in that yeah he plays wide receiver in the NFL.
Ok, I'll give you that El is a really tough dude. He's a freak of an athlete (remember he played hoops and baseball at Indiana). And maybe he's a caliber of athlete above Denard. But I doubt it. I'm pretty sure Denard is very similar in athleticism as our friend Antwaan.
So the next time some hater decides to throw in the "yeah but Denard is going to get killed in the Big Ten", sit back, smile, take a drink and whisper: "Antwaan Randle El".
[Ed: Bumped for the line change info on Michigan's major step forward in Vegas. Since Vegas lines are year-in, year-out the most accurate prediction mechanisms available, this is heartening. Perhaps too heartening. BTW: Jamie and his merry band of degenerate gamblers cover all manner of things at Just Cover.]
Before getting into the meat of what will be a quick hitting MGoDiary, let's clean some things up from last week.
I might make a decent oddsmaker after all. Those four prop bets I came up with for the ND/Michigan game sure did confound people. Only one person did better than 2-2 and that was MGoTim, who checked in a 3-1. I guess it pays to be an insider. Not sure what his prize should be. Maybe a day off from cat chasing duties? Or a day where his posts get to breathe for two hours without a post on top of it? He certainly doesnt need the MGoPoints. In that same diary, I listed all the actual props that sports books had up for the Notre Dame game. A few brave souls put their necks out on the line and picked each one. And, you know what? They did pretty well, considering the number of props out there. Special kudos goes to Clarence Beeks who went 10-2-1 on his prop selections. Somebody get that man to Vegas, STAT. But, it's really no surprise. He's a Pittsburgh Steeler fan, so you know he is sharp as a tack. Nice work, Mr Beeks. Now, how are those Orange futures looking? Please advice.
Also, over at the JCB, the Pick-4 game for the week is up. Check it out. If you havent played yet, no worries. Jump on in. Once Ocotber rolls around there will be more points available to allow you to catch up, so dont worry if you're behind and just starting the contest this week. We'vre having a fun time with this and the more, the merrier.
On to the UMASS game. A lot of folks dont realize that the oddsmakers do release lines for FCS vs FBS teams. Some places will even have full betting boards for the FCS vs FCS games throughout the year. Just about everyone of them will have lines for all the levels of college football playoffs, too. That comes in handy every year when I wake up shaking that second Saturday of December with no bigtime college football to bet on anymore. Dont think for a second that that's the deepest we can go into depravity. I've noticed that 5dimes is also offering high school football lines for the bigger games across the country. No way, will I ever bet those. That's just being a degenerate. No way. Well, maybe if its the only game on TV. Or if there's some value in the line, maybe. But, you have to be a pretty dark soul to go this route. Completely unrelated, does anyone know who is starting for Hoover, Alabama at quarterback?
As of now, Michigan is favored tomorrow by 28.5 points. It's been a weird week tracking this line. At the start of the week, 5dimes listed it as just Michigan -21. That must have been a misprint, or they got hammered with so much Michigan money, because they took the line off the board for several hours and by Tuesday afternoon the line had ballooned up to 29.5 points. It crept to 30.5 by that evening. The line has been steadily coming down ever since. It was lodged at Michigan -27.5 for a couple of days before settling in at the 28.5 number this morning, with an Over/Under total of 51.5. THAT looks enticing. Two out of every three games in the Rodriguez Era have gone over the total, but none have this year. Should we play the percentages and expect an Over? With that out of the way, let me quickly rattle of the mock props for tomorrow.
Tate Forcier/Devin Gardner, total combined yards: O/U 250.5
Ray Vinopal, total combined tackles, INTs, PBUs: O/U 5.5
Fiztgerald Toussiant, total rushing yards: O/U 80.5
Will A Michigan Freshman Intercept A Pass: Yes/No
Jeremy Gallon, total yards, including returns: O/U 120.5
Try your hand at those.
I intended on waxing philosophical all the Denard Show, but what more can I really add at this point? For the second straight week, he produced a game and some plays I've never really seen from a Michigan QB before in the 30+ years I've been watching. Damn impressive so far. I say we sit back and enjoy the show. And work on our own dreads.
His emergence has also had a major impact on the odds for Michigan. The most notable being the fact that Denard is now one of the betting favorites to win the Heisman Trophy. Terrelle Pryor is technically the chalk at 3.5 to 1, but Denard is the second favorite bet at 4.5 to 1. Not bad for somebody who wasnt even on the board ten days ago. Kellen Moore is 8/1 and a series of players including Cam Newton, Mark Ingram and Ryan Mallett are at 10/1. Tate Forcier, by the way, remains on the board as a 30/1 shot to win the trophy. FACT: THAT MIGHT BE A SUCKER BET.
Michigan has also shifted from a 100/1 shot to win the BCS National Title all the way down to 30/1. That's a pretty big swing. We've also seen the pointspreads for Michigan's Big 10 showdowns start moving in the Wolverine's favor, some rather significantly. Here are where the Big 10 lines stand right now.
- Michigan -5.5 vs MSU (Line was UM -3 over the summer)
- Michigan pick 'em vs Iowa (Line was UM +3 over the summer)
- Michigan +3 at Penn State (Line was +10 over the summer.......oh, to have a +10 ticket in our pockets right now)
- Michigan -1 vs Wisconsin (Line was Michigan +3 over the summer)
- Michigan +13.5 at OSU (Line was Michigan +15.5 over the summer)
Denard is having an impact. The public wants to bet Michigan again. The average line movement since the season started is 3.7 points in Michigan's favor. I fully expect the MSU line to be -7 come game day. The others will continue to move towards Michigan. If you want to play the Homer card and bet Michigan, get these lines now before more value gets sucked out of it. For the the first time in the Rodirguez Era in Ann Arbor, bookies are adjusting lines to stem the amount of money rolling in on the Wolverines. That's progress, babby! And, it's a great thing to see.
[Ed: I cannot believe Michigan is actually a favorite against Wisconsin. The betting public now has Michigan at 8-2-1 on the season, which will be a neat trick.]
Many of us bemoaned the lack of coverage of Brock's story and walk on ABC's broadcast of the UConn game. Now the BTN is rectifyng that to some degree with its own 8-min feature that will air before the Michigan - UMass game on Saturday, 18 Sep.
In addition, as has been discussed on the MGoBoard, Erin Andrews was in town this week to interview DRob and others for a College Gameday feature on the new CFB It Player.
Details for both features are available in the official release from MGoBlue.com which is lifted in its entirety below.
Brock Mealer Story to Air Saturday on Big Ten Network
Sept. 17, 2010
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The Big Ten Network will air its feature on Brock Mealer this Saturday (Sept. 18) prior to its broadcast of the University of Michigan football team's game against Massachusetts. The eight-minute feature chronicles the path that Mealer took to lead the Wolverines down the tunnel in the season opener against Connecticut on Sept. 4.
Mealer, given less than a one percent chance to walk again after a tragic car accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down, worked with the Michigan football strength and conditioning staff over the last nine months.
The Big Ten Football Saturday Pregame Show airs from 10:30 a.m. until noon EDT.
Media Contact: David Ablauf (734) 763-4423