So, inspired by Seth's scheduling proposal earlier this week, I decided to take a pen and paper and sit down and see if I could, under the current 14-team Big Ten (yes, I'm leaving in Maryland and Rutgers, it's what we got, let's face reality and make the best of it), create a scheduling alignment that allowed every team in the conference to face every other team in the conference, home and away, within four seasons.
It can be done. In short, there would be "floating" divisions that would reset every two years, in two groups of four, and two groups of three. In long, well, keep reading!
The first order of business is that it's necessary to ditch the permanent 7-team divisions. In order to create "fluid" divisions, we need two groups of four, and two groups of three, as stated above, in which each team in a given group would play every other team in that group every season. Those groups are below. I grouped based on proximity and traditional matchups.
|Hate Quad Group|
|East Coast Group|
|Toledo Strip Group|
|Ohio St*||Michigan**||Michigan St***|
The asterisk represents teams that are in the same column in "small" groups, and are each team's permanent crossover opponents. Crossover opponents in "small" groups are for schedule balancing purposes only and may or may not reflect historical "rivalries". Yes, Michigan gets a blah opponent to play every year, in addition to Ohio State and Michigan State, but it's necessary for schedule balancing, and I couldn't think of a better way to do it.
Now, all we have to do is take each team's group and, where necessary, small group crossover opponents, and combine them with those from other divisions to form our 4-year schedules, which I have done tabularly below.
|Hate Quad Group|
|Year 1||Year 2||Year 3||Year 4|
|HQG||at HQG||HQG||at HQG|
|at HQG||HQG||at HQG||HQG|
|HQG||at HQG||HQG||at HQG|
|at ECG1||ECG1||at TSG1||TSG1|
|ECG2||at ECG2||TSG2||at TSG2|
|at ECG3||ECG3||at TSG3||TSG3|
|IG1||at IG1||IG3||at IG3|
|at IG2||IG2||at IG4||IG4|
|Year 1||Year 2||Year 3||Year 4|
|IG||at IG||IG||at IG|
|at IG||IG||at IG||IG|
|IG||at IG||IG||at IG|
|at TSG1||TSG1||at ECG1||ECG1|
|TSG2||at TSG2||ECG2||at ECG2|
|at TSG3||TSG3||at ECG3||ECG3|
|HQG3||at HQG3||HQG1||at HQG1|
|at HQG4||HQG4||at HQG2||HQG2|
|East Coast Group|
|Year 1||Year 2||Year 3||Year 4|
|ECG||at ECG||ECG||at ECG|
|at ECG||ECG||at ECG||ECG|
|HQG1||at HQG1||IG1||at IG1|
|at HQG2||HQG2||at IG2||IG2|
|HQG3||at HQG3||IG3||at IG3|
|at HQG4||HQG4||at IG4||IG4|
|TSGp||at TSGp||TSGp||at TSGp|
|at TSG1||TSG1||at TSG2||TSG2|
|Toledo Strip Group|
|Year 1||Year 2||Year 3||Year 4|
|TSG||at TSG||TSG||at TSG|
|at TSG||TSG||at TSG||TSG|
|IG1||at IG1||HQG1||at HQG1|
|at IG2||IG2||at HQG2||HQG2|
|IG3||at IG3||HQG3||at HQG3|
|at IG4||IG4||at HQG4||HQG4|
|ECGp||at ECGp||ECGp||at ECGp|
|at ECG1||ECG1||at ECG2||ECG2|
This all checks out. For visualization's sake. I've created 4-year schedules for Nebraska, who is in a 4-team group, and Michigan, who is in a 3-team group, to show that the math and rotations do check out. Please note that these are simply lists of opponents and not a chronological order of when the actual games would be played.
(Hate Quad Group)
|Year 1||Year 2||Year 3||Year 4|
|Wisconsin||at Wisconsin||Wisconsin||at Wisconsin|
|at Minnesota||Minnesota||at Minnesota||Minnesota|
|Iowa||at Iowa||Iowa||at Iowa|
|at Rutgers||Rutgers||at Michigan||Michigan|
|Penn St||at Penn St||Michigan St||at Michigan St|
|at Maryland||Maryland||at Ohio St||Ohio St|
|Illinois||at Illinois||Indiana||at Indiana|
|at Northwestern||Northwestern||at Purdue||Purdue|
(Toledo Strip Group)
|Year 1||Year 2||Year 3||Year 4|
|Ohio St||at Ohio St||Ohio St||at Ohio St|
|at Michigan St||Michigan St||at Michigan St||Michigan St|
|Illinois||at Illinois||Wisconsin||at Wisconsin|
|at Northwestern||Northwestern||at Minnesota||Minnesota|
|Indiana||at Indiana||Nebraska||at Nebraska|
|at Purdue||Purdue||at Iowa||Iowa|
|Maryland||at Maryland||Maryland||at Maryland|
|at Penn St||Penn St||at Rutgers||Rutgers|
I won't go through the 4-year schedules for every team, but I think it's clear that this algorithm works. It wouldn't be perfect, and undoubtedly wouldn't satisfy everyone, especially if a strength of schedule discrepancy arose during a conference title run, but at least you're only going four years max between conference opponents.
I'm a big fan of the movie Jackie Brown. It’s one of those flicks I just have to watch whenever I see it on the cable guide. As a matter of fact, it was on Tuesday night and I couldn’t turn it off even though the basketball game had started.
Do you remember that scene where Odell Robbie (Samuel L Jackson) discusses the virtues of his favorite long rifle, the AK-47? While I was piecing this story together, I imagined Odell reciting those lines, only, instead of the AK47, he was talking about this guy running down on kickoffs.
“Dog 99. The very best there is. When you absolutely, positively got to smash every m*****f***** in the wedge, accept no substitute.”
This dude was created to play football. At 6’2” 235lbs with athleticism, strength, speed, and a relentless desire to implode would-be blockers, Dog was someone you kept your eye on on kickoffs. He wore #99. You couldn’t miss him. And he was just as unforgettable off the field, too. He had this booming voice, an ever-present smile, and always with something positive to say. He was tough physically and mentally, and as you’ll read later on, he never EVER stops challenging himself.
Carlitos Bostic grew up just down the road from the Big House, in Ypsilanti. He was widely recruited because he brought speed and athleticism to the outside linebacker position. At the time, we ran a 3-5 and our OLBs were usually taller, stronger guys who could take on tight ends and fight the hook blocks. Lawrence Taylor had just exploded onto the NFL scene, and college coaches wanted a guy like that on the edge of their defense. That’s the kind of player coaches saw in Carlitos.
Just about every school in the Big 10 recruited him, as did West Virginia, a couple SEC teams, and UCLA. Well….UCLA recruited him until Carlitos innocently informed the Bruins coaches that his high school teammate Eric Ball was interested in heading to Westwood. Terry Donahue focused on Ball who ended up having a stellar career in California while Michigan would get their LT.
Before he pledged to Michigan, Carlitos took a trip to Columbus Ohio where he was hosted by Pepper Johnson, Keith Byers, and Rory Graves. The Buckeyes wanted Bostic bad and they pulled out all the stops, including fancy meals at the best restaurants in town. This was a new experience for the young kid from working class Ypsi. He wasn’t exactly accustomed to the fine dining scene. When you’re a teenager being wined and dined on a recruiting trip, you cut loose a little. For Carlitos, that meant an appetizer of shrimp cocktail. Hey, if they’re paying….. /shrug emoji
What the hell, make it two.
The waiter barely had time to put the first one down before Dog dug in. He plowed down a couple shrimp and quickly noticed everyone at the table was sitting there staring at him. Slack jawed and silent, they gazed at this kid from Michigan mowing down his shrimp…..peel and all.
“I have never seen anyone eat like that before” said Graves. “Dog, you GOTTA come to Ohio State. You’re a beast.”
Carlitos was a little embarrassed but he and Coach Earl Bruce shared a laugh about it the next day. The Buckeyes (and Michigan State, for that matter) really made him feel like a priority and gave him non-stop attention. Truth be told, he was pretty close to signing with the Buckeyes. Close. Not close enough, thankfully.
On his Michigan visit, Bo and Coach Moeller were straight to the point and made no bones about wanting Carlitos’ aggressive style of play on the edge of their defense. For his hosts, they paired him up with fullbacks Eddie Garrett and Dan Rice. These two were imposing figures; big, strong, tough guys who were built like brick shithouses. They were the exact kind of football player Carlitos wanted to be. And they also had a hell of a sense of humor.
As much as Ohio State tried, they couldn’t overcome A) proximity to family, B) playing in the Big House for Bo, and C) legendary Outside Linebackers coach Milo Vooletich.
Milo was a special coach and man, God rest his soul. He stood out from all the other coaches. He was tough, direct, and intimidating. He didn't put up with any BS, but he loved his players. If you sat in a meeting room with Coach Milo, you paid attention and did your job. And then you’d get a story. Let me tell you, the man could tell some damn funny stories. I’ll never forget the way he eloquently described the job of a tight end.
“When that son of a bitch is trying to block you, what he’s really trying to do is shit in your yard. The line of scrimmage is the property line and that guy is trying to SHIT. IN. YOUR. YARD. Don’t let him shit in your yard. Push him back. Make him shit in his own goddamn yard.”
That description stuck with me for years and I used it on my OLBs when I coached.
Milo was a coach, mentor, professor, and sometime father figure. You might not have liked the ass chewing you inevitably got, but you knew two things: you probably deserved it, and you weren’t gonna do whatever it was you did, again.
Carlitos’ first game action was, of course, on special teams. He was amped up and ready to bust some heads. When the Kickoff team huddled up, Carlitos couldn’t contain his excitement. He brought enthusiasm to kickoff coverage that hadn’t been seen before. He was jumping up and down, cheering, and chomping at the bit. It was infectious. Soon, others were sharing his enthusiasm to make a play. They set goals as a unit to make the tackle inside the 15 yard line. He and Allen Bishop would have friendly competitions about who would make the bigger play on kick coverage. Bo always emphasized special teams, but Carlitos brought it up a couple notches. When we kicked off, you kept your eye on 99.
Carlitos went on to have a very successful career. Usually, this next section is where I would normally go into greater detail about the player’s career, but this time, I want to focus on what Carlitos did AFTER Michigan. That's not to diminish his career, by any means, but in my opinion, what he did after his 5 years at Michigan is much more impressive.
Upon graduation, he gave the NFL a shot, starting with the Detroit Lions, where he camped with guys like Chris Spielman, his brother Rick, and Benny Blades. Carlitos and Chris would go at it almost every day. You can imagine the chirping that went on, each play, every day, day after day after day. The last time Bostic and Spielman met in The Game, Ohio State came back from 13-0 deficit to beat the Wolverines in the Big House for Earle Bruce’s final game as the Buckeye’s coach. I'm sure Speilman was a gracious winner.
When his shot at the NFL was over, he played for the Toronto Argonauts, spent time in Europe playing for Finland, and then semi-pro for the LA Quakes, where he took part in their "Super Bowl". When his playing career was finally complete, he coached for a season at Trinity College in Hartford Connecticut.
Carlitos returned to Ypsilanti and worked as an “In-School Detention Monitor”, while serving as an assistant coach on the Ypsi High School football staff. He enjoyed his work and liked helping kids, but there was something missing. It wasn’t what he dreamed of doing. As a kid, he and his dad would watch football games and war movies and talk about things fathers and sons talk about. Carlitos dreamed about playing football, but he had another dream, too - one that not many were aware of.
One day, a Marine Corp recruiter walked into Ypsilanti High to talk to the students about life in the Corps. Carlitos stood in the back of the room as the Marine gave his presentation. Carlitos listened intently. He heard things like honor, service, challenge, and commitment. The same things that attracted him to Michigan were now striking a familiar chord. After it was over, he stuck around to ask more questions. I imagine he started to get that feeling like he did before his first time down on kickoff. Heart pumping, eyes wide open, and that unforgettable smile on his face. He was sold on what the recruiter said the Marines could offer. Carlitos found his passion again.
He trained for his physical exam and ADSVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) like he was preparing for the NFL draft. He got stronger and a whole lot bigger – up to 275lbs! After completing Officer Candidate School, he went onto The Basic School which, according to ‘Litos, is college for the Marine Corps Officers-in-training. He struggled some because he wasn’t prepared for all the running. At 275lbs, he weighed as much as some of our starting linemen back then. The physical stress affected his ability to handle the mental side and the required disciplinary aspects of military training. Let’s face it, this stuff is hard as hell, and it’s supposed to be. There’s a reason they are a proud FEW. He busted his ass, but it simply wasn’t enough. He didn’t pass. He’d have to repeat the cycle. Disappointed but not discouraged, he got back in line and did it all over again. Another chance was all it took. Dog99 busted through on his second try with flying colors. Outside of football, it was the best experience he ever had.
His initial Military Occupation School was artillery, because of course a guy known for flying down the field and launching himself through enemy lines would be in artillery. From there he worked in Transportation. His first unit participated in “Operation Restore Hope” in Somalia from December 1992 to May 1993. This US-led coalition was there to provide a safe environment for humanitarian operations.
His next unit was with 1/5 – 1st Battallion/5th Marine Regiment based out of Camp Pendleton. Nicknamed “Geronimo”, this battalion has been involved in every conflict the United States has ever been involved in. (cite Wikipedia)
While stationed at Camp Pendleton, he also played for the Marine football team as a player/coach, earing a spot on the Corps All-Star team.
Said Carlitos, “My experience in the Marine Corps training was unbelievably amazing. Learning and performing 'call to fire’ which is spotting and communicating enemy positions or vital targets for either air strikes or heavy artillery support operations. Land navigation training and exercises was an activity I appreciated the most, and a skill I have retained until this day. Discipline and Leadership are the qualities that have benefitted me the most in my career. I truly loved being a part of another team, and that team was focused on mission completion and war fighting skills. I wish I could’ve served in the military first, before my football playing experience. It would’ve been a sure advantage. Oh, and I loved the weapons that I had the chance to train, utilize, and become an expert in using.”
I think everyone who has read these stories of former players gets a sense of how tough it is to play football at Michigan and excel at an elite level. There’s 100-something guys on the team. The majority of them were all-state in high school. A good many were All-American. But to go from 5 years playing football for Bo to the United States Marine Corps as an Officer? I find that to be the most impressive feat of all. There were a few guys I’m aware of that did it: Bob Popowski, Geoff Bissell, and Jim Sinclair, who actually served his time BEFORE walking on at Michigan. These guys were my heroes when it comes to Michigan football players.
Carlitos left the Corps having attained the rank of Captain. It was a vital part of his growth as a man and a person. He says he learned a lot about himself as a leader of young men and women who chose to place their lives on the line to serve our country.
He now works for Aramco Oil & Gas Company in Saudi Arabia as a safety supervisor and project manager. Prior to that, he worked with ITS 1/Gilbaine in Afghanistan and Williams Energy in West Virginia, Texas, and Louisiana.
He has 3 children: a 25 year old daughter who lives in Germany, a 19 year old daughter who runs track and field at Michigan, and a 7th grade son who has a lot of Dog99 in him.
Carlitos added some things at the end of his email that he wanted to share with “anyone who cared to read it”. I want to include it because I have so much respect for him and what he’s done and the experiences he’s had.
- Enjoy and make the most of every day.
- Use wisdom to help you in this journey
- (For any present day athletes reading this) make the most of the opportunities the University of Michigan provides. It is truly an experience you’ll remember for the rest of your life.
- Also, as athletes, take time to meet classmates that aren’t athletes. You’ll be amazed at the interesting students and professors on campus.
- Be passionate regarding your sport and teammates.
- Never finish practice or a game not having given your ALL.
- Cherish the relationships and memories of your time in Ann Arbor.
- Love like every day is your last.
- Take time to realize that quality of life is totally based on how you choose to live it.
- God loves you.
Those Who Stay….
I arrived just into the second period. So, analysis for the first two periods will be short and just numbers-based.
(James Coller) Oh look, he's uncovered in the crease
FIRST: Michigan tallied 27 even strength attempts, including 8 from the home plate area. That's slightly less than a third coming from the dangerous area...which about their average this season. They also generated two goals from even strength. Both of these are welcome continuations from the first couple periods of last night's game. Looks like I missed a good offensive period.
SECOND: Michigan was only able to generate 12 even strength attempts on net, which included 5 from the home plate area. They did score twice from the dangerous area, though. I would like more attempts on net from even strength but there were eight penalties called, so that does limit 5v5 time.
- THIRD: It's like a carbon copy of last night's game. Michigan took 13 attempts on net with 4 coming form the home plate area. And only 2 were remotely near the crease. Pretty much everything was from the perimter. Like last night, Michigan came out with a ton of energy and firepower in the first and just kept fading as the game continued. After OSU tied it at 5, I was just waiting for overtime...or the OSU game-winner. Michigan ended up with 52 (18)...35%. However, that number kept dropping as the game dragged on.
FIRST: Michigan allowed 14 even strength attempts in the first period, including 6 from the home plate area. Ohio State tallied one even strength goal and it also came from inside the dangerous area. Allowing 14 (6) has been a lot better than may of the periods this year, though. Progress?
SECOND: Michigan's defense took a step back in the second period, allowing 18 even strength attempts (8 of which came from the dangerous area). Now, we're pushing close to 50%. That's way too high. Most of OSU's best looks came from the power play, but still...too many attempts are still coming from way too close to the net.
- THIRD: Michigan allowed 16 even strength attempts and 7 from inside the home plate area. OSU's offense was stimulated by their power play, but they still had a too many good looks close to Lavigne (who made multiple bail-out saves). In the end, Michigan allowed 48 even strength attempts with 21 coming from the home plate area. That's 44%. Woof.
FIRST: Michigan drew one power play, took a shot, and scored on it. Hooray! Apparently, Dancs had a sick backhanded pass to Slaker who earned the tally. Michigan did allow two power plays against them and OSU was able to convert on one of them. I've heard it was quite a snipe. OSU's power play is living up to its billing.
SECOND: Michigan got one power play and did not convert. It did not look super threatening, either. They did allow three more power plays and OSU scored on two of them Michigan's penalty has been less than stellar in this series, but OSU has moved the puck well and generated nice looks on both of their special teams goals. If M is going to hang on in the third, they will definitely need ot stay out of the box.
- THIRD: Michigan took another penalty (two actually for a 5v3) and gave up another goal. I talk more about it later. They just took way too many penalties for the quality of their PK (poor, lately anyway) and OSU's PP (very, very good). Michigan did not draw a penalty in the third period. OSU finished 4/7 and Michigan finished 1/2.
FIRST: Hayden Lavigne started in net again and saved 8/10 shots. My fellow colleagues say that neither goal was his fault and that one goal was quite impressive. I really cannot add anything to this.
SECOND: Once again, from what I was able to see, Lavigne played fine, I think. He made 12 more saves and both goals came on the power play, one of which was a slick high-low pass to an unchecked attacker (surprise!) outside the crease.
- THIRD: Two more goals beat Lavigne in the third period. The first was a 3v2 break that was tipped off a great pass. The second was a centering pass from below the goal line to an uncovered guy in the high slot and he one-timed it past Lavigne who...there's no way he saw it. Unmarked guys, man. Not much goalies can do with them. Also, he made about 3-4 crazy saves just to keep Michigan around.
ODD MAN RUSHES
FIRST: I had none, obviously. But, the consensus up here is that there weren't any.
SECOND: I saw one that looked like a semi-breakaway on which the attacker was interfered with and lead to a penalty.
- THIRD: On a 5v3 PK, Slaker tries to go short-handed and gets caught up ice. Easy 3v2 and a great centering pass and tip beat Lavigne. I think that way it...but again, very eggregious. Blah.
FINAL CORSI SCORE
I had: Michigan 52, Ohio State 48
www.collegehockeynews.com had: Michigan 56, Ohio State 49
Ryan McLoughlin (Hat Trick Hero)
FIRST: So, that was really good. Michigan had a Corsi of 29 (!!!) in the first period. Maybe their best offensive period of the season? They also generated 13 looks from inside home plate. Spoiler: that's more than OSU had from anywhere on the ice in the first. Allen's goal came off a roofed shot after a faceoff scrum. Winborg had Michigan's second goal. Luce ripped a pass (in the press box, we're debating if it was a shot or a pass) off the boards from the point and Winborg posted up at the left post, pivoted nicely and beat Frey. This was a very impressive period.
SECOND: Michigan backs up their uber-strong first period with a 16 in Corsi in the second. Six of their sixteen came from the home plate. Marody ran a beautiful play action fake with Sanchez to free himself near the top of the circle and rifled a shot past Frey. Chad Pennington would be proud. Michigan has gotten great looks all game and are finishing their chances. This has been their best first couple of periods I have seen them play offensively so far this season.
- THIRD: Back to normal. Ten even strength attempts and one from the home plate. And it was barely inside the top end of the home plate. Half of their attempts came from outside the dot on the right attacking circle. The remaining four were literally in different corners. OSU's defense was A LOT better and there was little M did about it. Good thing they banked early in the first two periods. But, unfortunately, I think this is more of what we see tomorrow night. It just took OSU a couple periods to wake up. Hopefully, I am wrong. Michigan ended with 55 total even strength attempts with 21 coming from the home plate area. That's 38% when they average getting 33% on the season.
FIRST: Ohio State's 2nd ranked attack generated three attempts inside home plate and just 12 overall in the first period. Lavigne made some fantastic stops, but the defense did a good job of limiting chances. /looks around /quietly backs away SHHHHHHHHH!!!!
SECOND: The second wasn't QUITE as good as the first, but they still held OSU's powerful offense to 15 even strength attempts and 7 from home plate. This is better than the usual. The majority of their attempts came from Lavigne's left and far enough away. There are still some gaffes and awkward breakdowns, but they look a little more contained...or they are just not paying for them as badly. We will see...
- THIRD: Also, more back to normal. As I was writing the bit about the second period, OSU's goal rush was occuring. In the end, they attempted 19 even strength shots and 8 from the home plate. That's about 42% of their period attempts coming from the dangerous area. Lavigne may have flubbed one of them, but he also robbed quite a few others in previous periods. This was more of what I expected. 37% of their 46 attempts came from the home plate area. M averages giving up 32% on the year.
FIRST: Michigan drew their penalty very early but could not score. Ohio State has a Bottom Ten penalty kill, so if M can continue to get more opportunities, I like their chances of connecting. Michigan ended up taking two penalties in the first. Ohio State has the 4th ranked power play at 25% but could not score. They did generate a few good looks but missed the net on a could and Lavigne tracked the ones on frame. Their second penalty will carry over into the second. Marody took it at the offensive blue line. No more of those, please.
SECOND: Michigan draws three more penalties in the second and converts on two of them. The first goal was a scramble in the crease that Marody poked in. The second was a beautiful cross-ice one-timer from Piazza to Marody who beat Frey across the crease. Michigan set their power play up nicely all period and was rewarded for it. They did take three more penalties but killed the first couple (the third will carry over). Again, OSU with a few good chances, but Lavigne was there for all but the one he lost track of off the crazy bounce.
- THIRD: Michigan draws two more penalties but does not convert on either. They also did not register an attempt on net. They took two more penalties, in addition to the carryover penalty. Technically, OSU went 2/3 in that period. The first goal was a harmless shot that Lavigne whiffed. The 2nd was a deflection from the slot. Joshua was credited with the goal, but it easily could have gone off of Cecconi's stick, as well. On top of those, they created a ton of other missed chances, too. I can definitely believe that power play is a college elite one.
- FIRST: Hayden Lavigne didn't have to face as many shots, but the ones he did see were some great opportunities. He shut them all down. Lavigne looks absolutely fantastic. JLF might be higher touted, Nagelvoort might be more experienced, but I am completely comfortable with Lavigne in net, right now. He made seven good stops.
SECOND: Once again, Lavigne has a tremendous period. He saved another 8 shots and always seemed to be in the correct position. The only goal was off a funky bounce in the slot that he lost track of, turning to his right when it went to his left. Easy tap-in. I don't really blame him for that one. OSU has also hit the post a couple of times. Overall, he's been strong as usual.
- THIRD: Well, as I write this, the PA system is blaring "I Will Survive" and that's about right. After two great periods, the first 30 seconds really did Lavigne in hard. He faced a visible shot from the top of the circle and just completely whiffed on it...6 seconds into the start of the period. That was bad. Then, 30 seconds later, there is a bit of a scramble in front of him and the poke gets poked between his legs. I did not see this goal at all (as about 40 things are transpiring) but that is the consensus of those around me. The 4th goal was not on him as a shot going wide hits a stick a few feet in front of him and hits the back of his net. So, maybe not a bad period but not a great first minute. That completely changed the tone of the third period. He was strong for the rest, stopping about 10ish more shots.
ODD MAN RUSHES
FIRST: There was one OMR in the first. Piazza turned the puck over entering the zone on the power play and OSU had a breakaway. Lavigne shut it down for his first save of the game. That's all. Not many, but a big one.
SECOND: OSU came in on a 3v1 and Cecconi tied up one guy, flailed around on the ice, and the shot ended up hitting the crossbar. Valiant effort by Cecconi, but the bar bails everyone out. That's it.
- THIRD: OSU ended up getting a tic-tac-toe connection to get a guy in alone on Lavigne but he made the save. That's 3 OMRs which isn't a ton...but they were all pretty bad. Michigan was lucky to not give up a goal on any of them.
FINAL CORSI SCORE
I had: Michigan 55, Ohio State 46
www.collegehockeynews.com had: Michigan 48, Ohio State 35
I will be coming from Crisler tomorrow night, so we the first couple periods will be purely numbers based. Hopefully, more insight during the 3rd period.
Michigan lacrosse starts the season tomorrow night in Cleveland and our boys come into 2017 with a lot to prove. The Wolverines badly need to reverse the trajectory of program that is headed in the wrong direction. After going 5-11 in 2014 and 5-8 in 2015, the boys took a step back last year and finished 3-10, leaving many people to question whether they belong.
Michigan’s schedule features five teams ranked in the Maverik pre-season poll (ND, Hopkins, Maryland, Penn State and Rutgers) but the out-of-conference schedule is a veritable tray of cupcakes. The OOC slate features six teams (Lafayette, Detroit, Bellarmine, Mercer, Furman and UMBC) who won six games or fewer in 2016 and one new program (Cleveland State). ESPN analyst Quint Kessenich noted this in a season preview and predicted that Michigan could “sport a gaudy record”. If Michigan is for real they should enter conference play 7-2. Judging from last year, however, that’s a tall order.
For a detailed look at the roster check out this preview (it also features a glimpse of the new Nike unis which look pretty sweet).
Here’s a quick breakdown of every game on the schedule. I borrowed the “Desperate Need to Win Level” and “Win/loss will cause me to…” bits from Brian’s previews. Those numbers are based on an unscientific combination of the quality of the opponent and my assessment of whether Michigan should win or not. I’ll try to post each preview on the game day threads as well.
Game 1: @ Cleveland State: Saturday, February 4, 7 PM.
The Super Bowl still hasn’t been played and pitchers and catchers don’t report for another two weeks and yet Michigan is playing its first game this Saturday. At night. In Cleveland. In February. I’m excited it’s here already but damn they have to do something about the scheduling. Cleveland State is a new program and this is the Vikings’ inaugural contest so Michigan should take care of business. I don’t know anything about these Cleveland State characters but you gotta think that Michigan should be able to handle them and come away with a nice warm-up W. I like the idea they’re on the schedule though- I would love to see Michigan start a tradition in which they always play a new program in their first year.
Desperate Need to Win Level: 10
Win will cause me to: Breathe a sigh of relief that they beat someone they're supposed to.
Loss will cause me to...actually call for JP to be fired.
Game 2: vs. Lafayette, Saturday, February 11, Oosterbaan Fieldhouse, 4 PM.
Lafayette was straight up bad last year, going 3-11 with their only wins coming against lowly Wagner, and new programs Monmouth and NJIT. The Leopards were not particularly competitive in any of their losses either. It’s Michigan's home opener and Lafayette's season opener so our boys will have a game under their belt which should give them an edge. Oosterbaan Effect could also play a factor. Advantage: Michigan.
Desperate Need to Win Level: 8
Win will cause me to: Say “OK, good.”
Lose will cause to: Say “Damn it.”
Game 3: vs. Detroit, Wednesday February 15, @ Pontiac, Michigan, 7 PM
Last year’s game against Detroit was canceled due to heinous weather conditions and it was scheduled to be played inside. For a while there, Detroit looked like a program on the up-and-up. In 2013, the Titans somehow blundered their way to an NCAA tournament berth but then proceeded to put the fear of God into #1 Notre Dame who barely escaped with a victory. The next few years weren’t as fortuitous for Detroit, however and they couldn’t replicate that success. They won only two games in 2016. These teams played a tight one in 2014 but Michigan waxed them in 2015. Detroit will force a lot of turnovers.
Desperate Need to Win Level: 9
Win will cause me to: tell the good news to my girlfriend who doesn’t care.
Lose will cause me to: complain to my girlfriend who doesn’t care.
Game 4: @ Bellarmine, Saturday February 18, 6 PM
Bellarmine (which is in Kentucky- I had to look it up) went 6-9 last year but suffered close losses to tournament teams Marquette and Air Force and a good Richmond team. Michigan didn’t play them last year but our boys beat the Knights in 2014 and 2015. I would say that Bellarmine is probably more talented than Michigan and should have the edge at home. But, I really have no idea what to expect - this one will be a coin toss.
Desperate Need to Win Level: 6.5(?)
Win will cause me to: say “OK, heads”
Loss will cause me to: say “Ok, tails”
Game 5: @ Notre Dame, Sunday February 26, 2 PM
It would be nice to beat the tar out of ND because that’s the favorite pastime of any Michigan Wolverine. But - nah they’re not gonna win this one.
Desperate Need to Win Level: 6 (higher than it should be because its ND and Michigan needs a W over a premiere program, would love that to be against the Irish)
Win will cause me to: eat my hat
Loss will cause me to: shrug.
Game 6: @ Mercer, Thursday March 2, 7 PM
Mercer is another young program but they’ve fared OK in recent years going 7-7 in 2014 and 5-8 the last two seasons. This game is the first stop on Michigan’s spring break trip and looks like another toss-up. Mercer seems to be in the boat Michigan was in last year. Will they break out like Marquette or Richmond? Or will they continue to struggle? If I recall correctly, Mercer was Michigan’s first program win at the Division 1 level back in the day. They are not a formidable opponent and these are the kinds of games you want Michigan to win in a drama-free fashion.
Desperate Need to Win Level: 7
Win will cause me to: wonder what type of team Michigan is
Loss will cause me to: wonder what type of team Michigan is
Game 7: @ Furman, Saturday March 4, 1 PM
As in most years, the spring break trip represents the focal point of the season. These games can make or break the season. Furman, 2-11 in 2016, represents another winnable game for Michigan. Coming away 2-0 in the spring break games would be huge. The Paladins are coached by legendary former Navy head coach Richie Meade, so they got that going for them.
Desperate Need to Win Level: 9
Win will cause me to: start to believe
Loss will cause me to: continue to doubt
Game 8: vs. Penn, Saturday March 11, 1 PM, Big House
I was at this game last year at Franklin Field and came away incredibly frustrated after Michigan fell 12-10. Michigan outplayed the Quakers but found themselves playing catch-up most of the game due to lots of mistakes and missed opportunities among them surrendering multiple goals while MAN-UP. Penn had some young talent last year but underperformed. Kessenich sees big things for them in 2017 and has them ranked 10th(!) in his preseason poll. The Fightin’ Trumps will have the edge in this game.
Desperate Need to Win Level: 6 (likely a loss but it would be nice to steal a win from a good team they could’ve beaten last year)
Win will cause me to: try to keep my excitement and expectations in check
Loss will cause me to: gripe about how they should’ve won
Game 9: vs UMBC Saturday March 25, 1 PM, Big House
After the Penn game, Michigan’s schedule has a weird two week gap before they play UMBC. It should give them plenty of time to rest, recover and ready themselves for a beatable opponent. The Terriers have made the NCAA tournament a number of times over the years and they’ve even knocked on the door of the Final 4 but the program has fallen on hard times of late. They went 4-10 in 2016 and are breaking in a new coach.
Desperate Need to Win Level: 9 (given the lead-up time to prepare for such a low-caliber opponent, Michigan better come correct in this game)
Win will cause me to: be glad they won
Loss will cause me to: renew those calls for a new coach
Game 10: @ Maryland, Saturday April 1, 2 PM ***on ESPNU***
Maryland should’ve won the national championship last year but blew it in very Maryland fashion. Even though the Terps were one of the best teams in the country in 2016, Michigan took them to the brink in a snowy dogfight in Michigan Stadium. They’ll be nasty again this year. John Tillman is one of the best coaches in the country and it’s unlikely Michigan will get by the Terps’ perennially stout D and goalkeeping. Maryland boasts preseason All-Americans at pretty much every position including a one-man killing machine named Matt Rambo who scored 43 goals last year.
Desperate Need to Win Level: 3
Win will cause me to: drink beers in celebration
Loss will cause me to: go about my business as usual
Game 11: vs Rutgers, Saturday April 8, 1 PM, Big House
Rutgers got straight up screwed by the tournament committee last year. After a 5-10 campaign in 2015 (including a loss to M), Rutgers executed a complete turnaround in 2016 and racked up 11 wins including two against Hopkins (who did make the tournament). The Scarlet Knights won’t sneak up on anybody this year though - they’re ranked #19 to start the season and return some great offensive players. Michigan will likely be outmatched in this one.
Desperate Need to Win Level: 5
Win will cause me to: think Michigan can win the Big Ten?
Loss will cause me to: be bummed
Game 12: vs. Ohio State, Saturday April 15, 10:30 AM, ***Big House before Spring Football Game - go early!!! Also airing on Big Ten Network!!!***
F*** Ohio State. That’s it.
Desperate Need to Win Level: 11 (it’s Ohio State)
Win will cause me to: celebrate and boo random Buckeyes on the street
Loss will cause me to: push my anger down deeper.
Game 13: @ Johns Hopkins, Saturday April 22, 1 PM ***on ESPNU***
Hopkins, sort of the snobby lacrosse step-father of the Big Ten, won the league in 2015 but got bounced by Rutgers in the first round of the conference tourney last year. They finished 8-6 and got immediately run off the field by Brown in the NCAAs. While the Jays’ dominant spot in the lacrosse world may be slipping they are still a powerhouse (ranked #9, plenty of pre-season AAs). Michigan won’t beat them. Also - Hopkins is Hopkins so they have a roster full of insufferable dudes with terrible first names like Brock and Brinton and Chanler. They also have Gerald Logan who made his way to Baltimore via a grad transfer.
Desperate Need to Win Level: 3
Win will cause me to: talk shit to the Hopkins guy in my office
Loss will cause me to: long for the day that Michigan will be able to beat teams like Hopkins
Game 14: vs. Penn State, Sunday April 30, 1PM, Big House
So if the season goes well and by that I mean Michigan gets through the OOC 7-2 or 6-3 (which is possible) and poaches games from Ohio State and/or Rutgers (also possible), this could be a crucial game. But that’s a lot to ask from a squad that went 3-10 last year. The Nittany Lions disappointed last seaon but start 2017 ranked #14 in the country and are helmed by one of the best young minds in the game in Jeff Tambroni. Michigan has wrapped up the season against Penn State the last two years but has yet to beat them. Here’s to hoping the last game of 2017 will be a meaningful one.
Desperate Need to Win Level: Possibly 0. Possibly 1 million.
Win will cause me to: toast to finishing 2017 on a high note
Loss will cause me to: be bummed that the season is over and pine for 2018.
So in conclusion: I don’t know what to think. They couldn’t be much worse than last year but who knows if and how much they’ve improved. The worst case, 0-14, is a slim possibility but I doubt they’ll be that bad. Best case scenario- 9-5 with two conference wins. The reality will be somewhere between those two extremes but who knows what will happen. Six or seven wins would be a big step in the right direction for this program. Go Blue!
Since we're on the topic of recruiting classes - and because I didn't have a story written on another player this week - I thought I'd revisit the recruiting class that I was (marginally) a part of.
I may be getting older and more forgetful, but I've always prided myself on remembering teammates and their numbers. I looked at the photo below from the Bentley Library and was able to name almost all of them from memory, sans 1 or 2 guys who didn't make it much past picture day.
I think the headliner of the class was QB Bob Cernak out of Chicago. He was a strong lefthander who was considered by a few to be a threat to Harbaugh for the starting job. At the time, nobody really knew what Harbaugh could do (1984 was his first year starting) and Cerno was supposed to be a big timer. He even made the travel team for a game as a true freshman. But Bob broke his arm his freshman year and ultimately moved to Tight End. Today, he lives in Madison Wisconsin, is an avid fisherman, and a super good guy.
Bud Gereg was the number 1 recruit in Michigan. He was a defensive tackle out of Warren DeLaSalle. When he got to Michigan, football sorta took a backseat to playing guitar and a few other activities, and Bud left the program, unfortunately.
Bud's high school teammate was John Vitale, a big, gritty, no bullshit Italian from Detroit who was loved by everybody. He had such a big personality and was great football player. He started for us for a few years and became a consensus All-America his senior year. He played in the World League of American Football and the Arena League. Sadly, in 2000, he passed away from cancer of the spinal cord. He beat the cancer once before, but it returned shortly after he married his wife, Lynn. When his dad informed him that the cancer spread to his brain this time, John replied, "Well that sucks." That was John. It makes me tear up just typing this.
You're all familiar with Mark Messner out of Detroit Catholic Central. If you saw the guy walking on campus, you might not know he played football by looking at him. He wasn't overly big or bulky, but dude could play. He went on to have a pretty good career.
Ernie Holloway came from St. Martin DePorres and joined his brother Dan at Michigan. I played against Ernie and his St. Martin DePorres team back in high school. They pretty much kicked our ass every year. Our senior year, Ernie spent the first few games on the sideline with an ankle injury. His game against us was his first of the season. We held them to no gain on the first 3 plays but that would be the highlight of our day. In came Ernie, and on 4th and 15, he ripped off about a 75 yard TD run. That was it. Thanks for coming out, folks. Drive home safely.
Dave Chester - aka Sexy C. He came from Titusville Florida as a defensive tackle but eventually moved to offensive guard. The most vivid memory I have of him on defense was during a practice, him and Jumbo Elliott started mixing it up and throwing haymakers. Bo broke it up, then proceeded to explain how dumb those two were for throwing punches at another man wearing a facemask. Smart guy, that Bo.
Dave Herrick was an offensive lineman who started as long snapper his freshman year, and might have also got time on the line. His career was cut short by injuries but he continued to help with the video and taping department. One time during a practice, a wicked storm kicked up while Dave was up in the scissor lift. We all stood there and watched as this thing was listing hard from the wind. It was a pretty scary moment....but at the time, we laughed.
Keith Evans was a defensive back out of Florida. He wasn't very big but he could bring the lumber. I remember he had a bridge in his mouth for a set of fake front teeth. He removed the appliance while he played of course, and it made him look like a total badass. (I thought, anyway). Keith transferred after a year or two.
Big Mike Husar. This guy was great: excellent football player, nice guy, funny as hell. He's rumored to have set some sort of unofficial record for beers consumed in a single evening. I don't know about all that but I do know the smile he wore that night still hasn't come off his face yet. He's a big ole Teddy bear living in Chicago.
Erik "Soup" Campbell played both offense and defense, and earned time as a true freshman. One thing that I'll always remember is him calling Coach Carr "Lloyd". I don't know why that sticks out, but there it is. After graduation, E got into coaching, including a couple stints at Michigan. Today, he's the receiver's coach at UConn.
Chris D'Espisito was an offensive lineman from Toledo. His career was cut short by a pretty serious injury, if I recall. He helped out in the weight room as part of Gittleson's staff until graduation. It would be 25 years or so later before I heard from him again. When I posted on FB that my daughter would be attending Alabama, he reached out and told me he was the supervisor for Transportation/Parking on the UA campus. All 3 of his daughters attended Bama.
Dave Dever was a defensive tackle from Chicago. He lived down the hall in South Quad with a guy who would later be in my wedding. Dave's son Bo was a walk-on during Hoke's years, and continues to help with the program. The one memory that sticks out about Dave was he had this hand-carved wood duck in his dorm room. Everytime I went into their room, I'd pick up that damn duck and play with it. He kept telling me, "put it down. You're gonna drop it." I insisted I wouldn't. Until one day I did. I still feel pretty shitty about that.
John Willingham was an outside linebacker who went on to be a police officer with the LAPD.
Rick Masters was a guard but he ended up transferring out of the program.
Jamie Morris was a great teammate and continues to be a big part of Michigan football. The guy was 5 foot nothin, a hundred nothin but he out-punched his weight more than any player on the team. I remember watching him from the sidelines against Washington (I think) and seeing these giant defensive linemen and linebackers trying to rip his head off ever time they tackled him. He just popped right up and jogged back to the huddle.
Mark Hill was a scholarship linemen who transferrered to Michigan fucking State after one season. Boooo this man (although, I suppose if that's what he felt was best for him..... whatever. Booo.) Every Sunday, we'd gather for film study and talk about the game we just played. We also handed out the scouting reports for the next week's opponent. Bo would go through each starting player of the other team and give a quick opinion. When we played State the following year and got to Hill, Bo said, ".....and there's our boy." The room busted out laughing.
Big Mike Dames from Florida. You can read about him in one of my TBT stories from last year. Great great guy.
Bob Tait was an OLB from Pennsylvania. I think his footall career was cut short from injury, but he ended up walking on to the basketball team. I remember going to a game at Crisler and seeing him get some playing time at the end of a blowout.
Chuck Adams was a tight end from Detroit Country Day. The only memory I have of him was when he and Vitale threw down in the freshman lockerroom. It was a pretty good tussle, if I remember right. Adams ended up transferring to UCLA.
Mike Kovacs was a tight end but he also transferred out.
Mark Earhardt was big offensive lineman, and a super nice guy.
Don Lessner* - son of a MSHAA Hall of Fame coach and a good friend of mine. He works for the government (If I tell ya what he does, I have to kill ya), and loves him some free pop. He was in my wedding.
Trey McNeil* was a QB from Texas who went back there after 1 year in Ann Arbor
Brad Burrows* linebacker.
Kyle Anderson* was a QB who blew out his knee his freshman year. He rehabbed it and returned his sophomore year as a fullback, then promptly blew out his knee again. He's now the Lions orthopedic surgeon. He was in my wedding.
Ernie Bock*, a DB out of Northville, who was my roommate for two years.
Mike DeBoer* was a punter from Grand Rapids.
Rick Sutkeiwicz* was a barefoot kicker who started for us. His kids went to the same high school as mine (although I think they're slightly younger)
Dave* and Scott* Mandel - tight ends from Ann Arbor.
Bob* and Rick* Stites came from Ann Arbor Pioneer and were as tough as any players on the team. Bob is now the president of the Letterwinners M Club. They were ushers in my wedding.
Pat Fitzgerald* was a wide receiver and a pretty damn smart guy.
Me*. I mentioned the guys in my wedding because it's my 28th anniversary tomorrow. My poor wife.
* - denotes walk on. LOL.
There you have it. The freshman class of 1984. Hopefully I didn't forget anyone.
The guys I named are all in the the last couple rows.