"The face of the operation is Briatore (referred to exclusively in the film by his colleagues and angry, chanting detractors as "Flavio"), an anthropomorphic radish who spends most of his time at QPR plotting to fire all of the managers."
In the loosely adapted ways of Dante, I present to you the ninth canto of Formerly's Football Inferno. I promise nothing when it comes to grammar, punctuation, logical plots, or anything that normally goes into story writing.
For those of you unfamiliar, Dante walks through each region of hell to learn the sins and punishment by talking to those souls trapped. In this circle of Dante's version, those who would commit Heresy are punished in tombs of fire.
As we reach the 6th circle, there was a noticeable feeling of optimism in the air. The mood felt less heavy. The feeling was strange, one that I hadn't felt in quite a while. It didn't take me long to figure it out either. Michigan just defeated Minnesota, closing out a perfect record in the Metrodome.
The celebration didn't last long in my mind. I knew Michigan was still 3-7 and not going bowling for the first in ages. It was a hollow win.
The 6th Circle is a eerily quiet cemetery. Graves are aligned quite compactly, and there is little room to pass without nearly stepping on the hallowed ground. Each soul is in a grave marked with their name. Below the name is listed a saying one of two phrases, "Down in front!" or "You can stand!" As I start to see these two messages, I have already figured out what the sin of this circle is, embattled fans.
It seems strange that this is the only circle thus far that has it's damned in what seems like isolation. I guess that's because the fans here would rather fight with each other than focus on the game. In each case, standing or sitting and yelling at the standing, they ruin each other's game experience. Say what you will about the idiot message board posters, they at least bicker away from the game. These that fight during games, there is a problem there.
But despite my personal feelings about these besetting fans, I can't help but wonder what their take on their punishment is. About half way through the 6th Circle, I couldn't contain my curiosity, especially when my other option was watching Northwestern beat Michigan on a wet Ann Arbor afternoon. So I turned to Davy, "Davy, do you mind if I talk to one of these spirits of this domain?"
"Nah, partner, do as you wish. Just don't ask too many questions. The people in this circle get a bit testy."
"Yeah," I start. "I can tell by the headstones. Any suggestion on sitters or standers?"
"They're damned if you do, they're damned if you don't. Or, well, yeah. The sitters will moan that you're impeding their time. The standers will complain that your not a big enough fan to ask them questions. Pick your poison, kid."
"Great, I'll take the crab juice. Um, how about the standing guy? I don't want to have to sit down to perform this interview."
Davy replied, "That's a good point. Let me round up this feller over here." Feller? Really?
Davy began to wave his hands to open the grave, and as he did, flames burst through the opening as if the grave was pressured with fire. After the grave completely opened, a spirit leapt out as if he were gasping for air.
"Woooo does it feel good getting out of there!" the spirit exclaimed. "Now who do I owe thanks for getting me a break?"
Davy points over to me, "That'd be this here fella."
"Well, then thank you. My name is Super M. Fan. I had it legally changed to that back in '97, right after I caught every game of that National Championship season, at home and on the road. I had Charles Woodson's face tattooed on my ass after he won the Heisman. Wanna see?"
"No. Not at all," I replied as the guy went and pulled down his pants to moon me.
"KISS THE WOODSON!" he proclaimed.
"You're not a real fan if you can't appreciate Woodson in all his glory."
"How much can you tell me about Michigan's baseball history?"
"Michigan has a baseball team?" he asked.
"You're not real fan of the University."
"BURN!" said Davy, as flames reached up and scorched the wretched soul.
After letting his yells subside, I redirected the conversation. "So, how's hell treating you, I mean other than the burns?"
"Dude, it's horrible. Not only can I not get a decent drink down here, but I have to watch the Big Ten Network's Greatest Games for eternity."
"That doesn't sound so bad."
"They're all Michigan losses. And the only commercials are for Rotel and Barbasol."
"Ouch. I take that back. If it makes you feel any better, though, that's all they play even on Earth."
"The worst part, occasionally they tease us with a break in programming. It always ends up being campus programming from Purdue's campus. Have you ever seen how they inseminate a cow? Dude, least interesting semen related thing ever. This guy in a plastic glove sticks his hand up the cow's an—"
"Dude, stop it. I know where this is going, and I don't want you to go on any further."
"Hey, there's only so many ways to get your jollies down here."
"No. Enough. Stop."
"Fair enough, guy… Hey, Michigan's about to take on Northwestern on BTN in like 3 minutes. I think Michigan may finally win this one. I can't remember back to the '95 season, but jNWU has to be horrible, am I right?"
"You're not going to—" I start before interrupted by Davy.
"Formerly, let him have it. We must continue on. Super M. Fan, get back in the hole." The spirit sank slowly back into his crypt to go endure more pain and misery. Davy looked at me, "He hasn't even gotten to you're time on BTN's greatest games. Just wait until he has to watch the Horror. Yikes."
"I envy him not."
"Come on boy, let's move on. Trouble is on the horizon. Michigan is losing to Ohio State by 3 touchdowns. The gods will be angry." So hastily we set off.
Sorry this is late, I had a lot going on today. Here's the weekly update.
6'1", 210 lbs.
Jones is coming up to Ann Arbor with his father this weekend. This could be a huge visit for Michigan, as Kellen appears to moving towards a decision. I asked him about the visit and if an announcement might soon follow:
I can't wait for the trip. As far as a decision, I'm going to let God make it for me. If he tells me it's the right place, then it's right. I plan on making my decision in early August before my season.
I wouldn't expect a commitment on the spot, but I wouldn't rule it out either. A visit to his dad's favorite school could seal the deal for Michigan.
5'9", 160 lbs.
All Purpose Back/Cornerback
Los Angeles, California
While most of the recruiting sites list Thomas as an all purpose back, a lot of people think he'll move to corner in college. Currently committed to USC, Thomas has been open about possibly taking visits to other schools. Michigan was among that list of possible destinations.
I'm not decommitting from USC, I'm just looking around. I haven't planned anything yet, but Michigan is a school I'd like to see. If I do come out there it will be on an official.
I asked him where his interest came from, and what Michigan might have to do to get his attention:
They have great facilities and history with their defensive backs. They don't really have to do anything. I don't have an offer yet, but I want to see the facilities and everything.
He doesn't yet have an offer from Michigan, but if he tells the coaches he'll visit if they offer, they'll offer. This isn't a strong indicator yet if he's going to visit, so we'll have to see how this plays out. USC isn't doing themselves any favors right now.
6'2", 210 lbs.
I said this in another thread, but I'll say it here again: I spoke with Karlos Williams a few weeks ago about Michigan. For those that don't know, Karlos is currently committed to Florida State. He' also one of the top safeties in the country. I told Karlos that what we spoke about was off the record, so I didn't report anything, but now he's given some interviews at the Gridiron Kings that had the same information, so it's time to spill the beans.
Karlos said that he has interest in Michigan, and is looking at coming up for an official visit to the Iowa or MSU game. If he does come up he won't be by himself. He has been talking to a group of Florida kids, one of them being TE Brandon Fulse, about visiting Ann Arbor. If Michigan gets off to a good start, there's a real possibility this trip could happen.
At Gridiron Kings Karlos played on the Southeast team, which was the winning team and it also happened to be the same team as Demetrius Hart and Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix. I asked him if anyone was talking to him about any schools:
Dee (Hart) and Ha Ha (Clinton-Dix) are tremendous talents. We all actually talked about schools the entire time we were there. Everybody has their school and they're going to make their decisions. We've talked about playing together, and it's just one of those things where we can all play together, or go our own ways.
So… they could play together, or they could not play together. I then asked him if any Michigan talk down there had maybe helped their chances, or made him think a little more.
Of course it's always positive, but I am thinking of taking the official.
It sounds like some things said are helping him make his travel plans. A little side note: there has been a lot of scuttlebutt from around the Florida area about Michigan and growing interest from athletes down there. If Michigan starts off the season right, then we could see a big shift in the recruiting picture.
- OL Tony Posada will be making his announcement within the next couple weeks. I've heard it could be later this week, or it could be the middle of August. It seems to get moved every day, but it should be coming soon. As long as Florida doesn't offer Michigan is in front. Posada has publicly stated his decision has been made for a while.
- OL Chris Bryant just took a visit with his parents, and everyone loved it. He's going to talk things over with his parents before making any decisions. In my opinion Michigan is a clear leader, and will probably be hearing from him soon.
- RB Justice Hayes is announcing his decision on July 30th at 11am. Most people believe his choice to be Notre Dame. I am one of those most people. If he picks Notre Dame, it doesn't mean it's completely over. He is a similar case to DeAnthony Arnett. in that they are both Michigan fans. Again, if Michigan comes out hot it could pique his interest.
- As MGoShoe noted, RB Dee Hart had a great GK tournament himself.
To the front page, since Michigan got a commit.
Action since last rankings:
7-18-10 Michigan gains commitment from Jake Fisher. Iowa gains commitment from Mike Orloff. Purdue gains commitment from Taylor Richards.
7-21-10 Illinois gains commitment from Tony Durkin. Northwestern gains commitment from Jack Konopka.
7-22-10 Illinois gains commitment from Josh Ferguson.
|Big Ten+ Recruiting Class Rankings|
|Rank||School||# Commits||Rivals Avg||Scout Avg||ESPN Avg|
Rivals rankings have been converted to their "RR" scale, which is on a scale from about 5 to about 6.1. Unrated prospects are given a 5.1 rating, on par with the worst of any Big Ten commit last year. Scout is on the 5-star system, and ESPN uses grades out of 100.
|#1 Ohio State - 17 Commits|
No change for the Buckeyes.
|#2 Notre Dame - 12 Commits|
Long time, no commits for the Irish.
|#3 Nebraska - 13 Commits|
The Huskers are still awaiting rankings for a couple guys. I imagine all the kickers will be ranked at once in the next updates on the major site, but I'm not sure Stafford will ever be ranked by ESPN, since they list JuCo guys separately.
|#4 Michigan - 8 Commits|
Michigan picks up Jake Fisher. He had a strong camp season, so we'll see if he gets a rankings bump.
|#5 Michigan State - 9 Commits|
No change for MSU.
|#6 Indiana - 20 Commits|
Hoosiers quietly putting together a solid class. Will it be poached like last year's? The Hoosiers stand to fall and fall hard once some other schools reach comparable commit numbers.
|#7 Northwestern - 11 Commits|
The Wildcats pass the Hawkeyes with the same number of commits, and better average rankings on all but Rivals. Iowa stands to regain the lead, since they have more unranked guys at this time.
|#8 Iowa - 11 Commits|
Mike Orloff becomes the Hawkeye's lowest-rated recruit on Rivals and ESPN. Scout hasn't looked at him yet.
|#9 Minnesota - 11 Commits|
Devin Craford-Tufts grabs a 74 rating from ESPN. The Gophers pass up Purdue on the basis of similar-or-better average rankings and a much higher number of commits.
|#10 Wisconsin - 6 Commits|
Wisconsin passes Purdue on the basis of (much) higher averages from Rivals and ESPN with the same number of commits. Plus their class is funny because it only has two positions in it.
|#11 Purdue - 6 Commits|
Taylor Richards joins Purdue. ESPN really likes him, but Rivals hasn't even ranked the guy.
|#12 Illinois - 9 Commits|
Illini pick up a couple new prospects, pulling up their averages. They're close to passing Purdue because they have more commits with similar overall averages.
|#13 Penn State - 3 Commits|
In the loosely adapted ways of Dante, I present to you the eighth canto of Formerly's Football Inferno. I promise nothing when it comes to grammar, punctuation, logical plots, or anything that normally goes into story writing.
For those of you unfamiliar, Dante walks through each region of hell to learn the sins and punishment by talking to those souls trapped. In this canto, we enter the city of
Dis Columbus to see how the souls damned to hell are sorted.
As I pass through the underworld's city of Columbus, I really think they missed on naming it. The dark streets of deserted homes and what looks like certain crime reminds me more of certain areas of Detroit than it does of Columbus.
There are dilapidated buildings set in eternal flames. Souls that are awaiting their placement in the depths of hell are kept pinned in those flames. It is a sad place.
We walked through several blocks of the city before we reached a point where the city ended. At the edge of the city was a line of souls awaiting judgment. As I pass, I try to avoid eye contact, because, I mean, how am I supposed to look at them?
In my probably obvious attempt to ignore the souls around me, my eyes wandered back to godzillatron. Things are getting worse. Last week Michigan made a white, walk-on wide receiver look like an All-American against Michigan State in Ann Arbor. This week we're in a shoot out against a hapless Purdue. They've got some wide receiver in at quarterback. He's torching us right and left. I'd feel better about drudging through hell if Michigan could at least show signs of competency.
While staring in solace at the screen above, I noticed my vision went blurry, as if I was looking through a fog and flashes of light. I had accidentally walked right through one of the spirits who was on fire. Strangely, the fire didn't affect me. The spirit was a man, large in stature, sporting a really ugly mustache.
"Hey douchebag, get outta me!" exclaimed the spirit.
"Oh, so sorry, sir. I just –" I started before Davy Crockett interrupted me.
"Don't you apologize to that piece of slime. Don't you recognize what he is? That Buckstache doesn't give him away? That's the badge of the Ohio State fan. Everyone of them is cast into hell with one of those on their face, even the women," Crockett explained as he pointed toward the ugliest piece of trailer trash I've ever seen.
"That's harsh, but it's also so so awesome," I chuckle out as I realize just how ridiculous these people in line are. Most of the Buckeye fans are either pure trailer trash or dressed like they're heading to a Nickelback concert.
We keep walking, and instead of avoiding looking at the poor souls, I'm taking in some deep pleasure in seeing some of these opposing fans waiting in line to be sent to their circle of hell. A certain schadenfreude, if you will.
When we reach the head of the line, much to my surprise, I see the great fiery whip that I once saw pluck Rudyard Kipling from the first circle of hell. I couldn't yet see the master of the whip, but he was plucking out souls from the masses one at a time, flinging them down into the lower levels of hell. His precision was insane, plucking one person from the masses without even touching another. It was masterful.
As the the origin of the whip came into sight, I was both shocked, and, well, who am I kidding, at this point, not surprised to find that this minion of hell, the wielder of the whip was Goldy Gopher. If there was ever one mascot in the BigTen that would know something about being whipped, it'd be Goldy. Apparently all those football beat downs taught him something useful.
"Davy, you think I could talk to him?" I asked.
"You'll need me to translate. If you couldn't tell from Bucky, the mascots can't speak with Sparty being the lone exception. They can mumble, so it comes out kind of like Kenny in South Park."
So we made our way up to the boulder from which Goldy operated and Davy called him down. Goldy leaped down and made his way over to Davy and myself. He started shaking his head and making a muffled squeaky noise. It was like watching the old Chip and Dale cartoons where it's a high pitch squeak that makes no sense.
Crockett laughed at whatever it was that Goldy said, smiled, and replied, "Yeah, man, still going by Davy Crockett. They'll never catch me."
Goldy mumbled some more, pointing in what seems like random directions, moving his hands around more than Bill Clinton in a speech. Goldy continued to talk for a while with Davy just humming in agreement. After a couple of minutes, Goldy turned to me and mumbled something else to Davy.
Davy translated, "Goldy tells me there's good news that you'll probably want to hear. Your fortunes are going to look good by the time you reach the 6th circle."
"Well, that's, uh, good?" I mutter.
"Yeah. So, what do you want to ask him?" Davy asked.
"What is it that you're doing?" I ask. Goldy seems to laugh, then he starts to mumble to Davy, bobbing his head.
About thirty seconds into the mumbling, Davy plainly interrupted Goldy, "Do you really have to say 'Don'cha know' after everything you say?"
Goldy seemed a bit pissed off at this, bobbing his head much quicker and sounding a bit more stern in his mumble. Just like a Minnesotan.
So when Goldy finished, Davy turned back and translated the long mumbling, saying, "He says he whips a person, grabbing them and throwing them to their final destination."
"That was like 5 minutes of rambling, and that's all he said?" I ask.
Davy replied, "There was some talk about starting an hell ice hockey club, but I didn't think you'd really care."
"Yeah, you're right."
"But yeah," started Davy. "He said his whip goes around the person the same number of times as the circle he's destined to spend the rest of time in. So say that Buckeye fan you walked through earlier, he'll get wrapped up 8 times. Hey Goldy, why don't you show him how it's done?"
Goldy mumbled, leapt back up to the top of his boulder and gave his whip a spin. The tip made it all the way back to the Buckeye fan I walked through earlier, wrapping him eight times around. The spirit was lifted and thrown back and down into the far reaches of hell. It was awesome.
After feeling the satisfaction of watching a Buckeye being thrown deep into the depths of hell, we waved adieu to Goldy. He did that weird mascot salute that they tend to do when signaling goodbye. We were off, heading from Columbus down into the 6th circle.
I am not a man. I began as one, but now I am becoming more than a man, as you will witness.
– Francis Dolarhyde, Red Dragon
After the Iowa game last year, my nervous system instantaneously rushed to the precipice of meltdown every time Denard Robinson stepped onto the field. Mixing equal parts of anxiety and exhilaration yields a volatile cocktail. There were times when I couldn’t stand up because I was so nervous; only once or twice but, regardless of frequency, that ain’t right. Trembling calves, bated breath, dilated pupils, thumping heart. Then, a money Chewbacca impression; happy or sad, the reaction was the same. I can’t have been the only one.
There was good reason for such a strong pavlovian response. It seemed as though the outcome of a play with Robinson under center was the random result of the flip of a coin—tails: utter disaster, heads: spectacular success, on edge: just another play. Denard threw interceptions at a nauseating 13% rate on 31 passes. However, he also scored touchdowns 7% of the time on 100 total touches. Forcier only produced TDs a little over 3% of the time. Think about that for a second, Forcier had 399 touches last year and scored 13 TDs…Denard, theoretically, could’ve had 28. Those numbers are ridiculous to quote because Denard touched the ball so infrequently last year, but it isn’t fair to quote his turnovers without also quoting his TDs.
Anyway, eight months later we are faced with another batch of the cocktail, this time with a twist. A full offseason and a spring practice session have apparently yielded a thrilling prospect, Denard can throw. Maybe we can actually stomach the elixir and keep it down. That prospect sparks at least two questions. The first, how much could he have realistically improved? I mean, there’s improvement, and then there’s being good; the latter is not guaranteed. The second question is, who do you play, Tate or Denard? In this diary I hope to rigorously estimate an answer to the first question and hopelessly flail at the second.
The NCAA announced today that based upon the success of the pitch clock experiment at the SEC Tournament last year, they will be mandating the pitch clock be used league wide in an attempt to pick up the pace of games.
After allowing the use of a pitch and between innings clock experimentally last year, the committee voted to mandate the use of a timing device and implemented penalties for non-compliance. Current rules require pitchers to start their delivery in no more than 20 seconds without runners on base. This rule remains and an umpire will be required to monitor and enforce this time limit. Additionally, in non-televised games, umpires will enforce a 90 second limit between innings. The committee recommended a time limit for televised games of 108 seconds, which the Southeastern Conference used experimentally during the 2010 season. However, the committee acknowledged that the time between innings will continue to be a negotiable point in television agreements.
This isn't a huge game changer by any stretch. The rule for length between innings and between pitches has been part of baseball for several years. This new rule appears to only mandate a "play clock" like mechanism so the umpire can track the time without having to check his watch incessantly. There's enough other things for an umpire to watch closely other than his watch, and this makes it much easier for an umpire to enforce because the clock is in the open for all to see.
That said, this won't impact length of games more than 5-10 minutes for most teams. If anything, between innings will become a bit shorter, and that's it.
Obstruction While Making a Play
The NCAA had a vague obstruction rule regarding infielders making a play on a ball at a base while a runner was coming to the bag. For example, under the old set of rules, a batter grounds the ball to short stop. The short stop fields and throws an off line throw to first. The first baseman has to move up the line towards the batter-runnner. Before the first baseman can secure the ball, the runner and the first baseman hit each other with glancing blows. This would have lead to an obstruction call against the first baseman and the batter would be given first base, even if the first baseman was able to secure the ball, then tag him before reaching the bag.
Basically, you're punishing the first baseman for trying to make a play on the thrown ball way despite the fact that the runner could have gone around him in the running lane.
The committee also proposed a slight change to the obstruction rules, in an effort to provide fielders the ability to make a play on a thrown ball during a play at a base. Previously, any contact made between a fielder and runner could be called obstruction unless the fielder had possession of the ball. In the new proposal, a fielder that has established himself will be provided the opportunity to field the throw without penalty.
“This change is being made after careful consideration of our current rule and how this play was adjudicated previously,” said Overton. “The rules governing collisions and dangerous plays have not changed, but the committee believes the fielder must be allowed some room to make a play on a thrown ball.”
The rule change gives the fielder an opportunity to field a throw. This makes complete sense and should reduce unnecessary collisions as the runner has no incentive to go right through a fielder making a play.
Home Run Celebrations
The final rule change that should affect Division 1 is related to post-home run celebrations. The new rule limits the dugout from flooding home plate by restricting them to the warning track area, or 15 feet from the dug out. As an umpire, I'm a fan of this. This slightly speeds up the pace as you don't have to wait for the 25 guys on the team to clear the plate area and return to the dug out. The other major plus is not having 25 teammates that close to the opposing catcher, which is only asking for one of the young men to say something stupid and start a feud.