I did not make this headline up
MGoBlue announced the release of the 2010 volleyball schedule today and while it's a bit disappointing compared to last season, this schedule may set up well for Michigan to make a run to return the the volleyball version of the Elite 8.
|8/27||Loyola (MD)||Toledo, OH|
Oregon State Invitational
|9/4||Florida Gulf Coast||Corvallis, OR|
|9/4||Oregon State||Corvallis, OR|
|9/10||Youngstown State||Cliff Keen Arena|
|9/11||Chicago State||Cliff Keen Arena|
|9/11||Miami (OH)||Cliff Keen Arena|
Arizona State Invitational
|9/18||@Arizona State||Phoenix, AZ|
Big Ten Season
|9/24||Iowa||Cliff Keen Arena|
|9/25||Minnesota||Cliff Keen Arena|
|10/1||@Ohio State||Columbus, OH|
|10/2||@Penn State||State College, PA|
|10/8||Wisconsin||Cliff Keen Arena|
|10/9||Illinois||Cliff Keen Arena|
|10/13||Michigan State||Cliff Keen Arena|
|10/15||Northwestern||Cliff Keen Arena|
|10/23||@Purdue||West Lafayette, IN|
|11/5||Penn State||Cliff Keen Arena|
|11/6||Ohio State||Cliff Keen Arena|
|11/13||@Iowa||Iowa City, IA|
|11/19||Purdue||Cliff Keen Arena|
|11/20||Indiana||Cliff Keen Arena|
|11/24||@Michigan State||East Lansing, MI|
Unfortunately, we weren't picked for the AVCA Invitational in Omaha, but we did pick up two quality tournaments in PAC-10 country. Michigan will face only one tournament team from 2009 in the non-conference, that being Binghamton. So compared to last season's schedule is quite a bit weaker.
The Oregon State trip is a return for last year's game, a 0-3 Michigan loss in Ann Arbor, and should be the marquee game of the non-conference. OSU does lose their best player in Rachel Rourke, but they do return a lot of players that should see them competing for a slot in the top of the PAC-10.
In conference season, Penn State and Ohio State remained paired on our schedule, with Michigan headed to State College and Columbus early in the season and getting the two at home early in the 2nd round of games. Michigan starts out the season with a home heavy schedule, which just means they have to end the season with a lot of tough road games.
Michigan should be poised for a very high winning percentage as it returns Lexi Zimmerman for her 4th year as well as junior defensive specialist/libero Sloan Donhoff, junior middle Karlee Bruck, leading kill returner, junior left side Alex Hunt (pictured right from MGoBlue), and junior middle Courtney Fletcher. Maybe this year will be the one where Penn State finally gets knocked off by Michigan.
Michigan took two games against a weak opponent that is still looking to wake the echoes and return to glory from their days when Paul Mainieri, current coach at LSU, was still in South Bend. In Notre Dame's first visit to Ann Arbor since 1977, Michigan won a closely contested game, and the next night, the Wolverines pounded out a huge win.
Abbreviated midweek recaps and thoughts after the jump.
So I just finished watching the Spring Game for a 5th time, and I will admit that watching it that many times has changed the opinion that I had after the first time that I watched the game. First of all, thanks to MgoVideo for posting the 720p torrent so that I could watch the game as often as possible!
So, I only concentrated on Tate's and Denard's drives. This was because I don't see Devin making huge strides this year to supplant both of these QB's. His plays reminded me of Denard's last year, except Devin can run the Zone Read a bit better than Denard at this point of his career (# of practices, that is, since Denard didn't enroll early). That may seem like something that shouldn't just be glossed over, but Devin's inability to read the defenses in the passing game, along with his penchant to revert to his shotput throw under durress causes me to be a bit dismissive. He IS the future, and the future looks bright, but why rush it?
So, after watching the two QB's, I have to say that I do not see Tate and the inevitable #2 nor do I see Denard as the inevitable #1. I'll share what I have, and see if maybe it gives some people a different perspective. I guess I should say that I don't personally care who starts for this team. I don't think a single person is ever bigger than the team.
So, I counted the number of pass plays called, run plays called, and put a check mark next to pass plays that I would consider those that forced the QB to "read the defense". So, WR Screens, HB Screens, etc. wouldn't get a check mark.
Tate: 35 plays, 19 pass plays, 16 run plays
Out of the 19 pass plays, Tate suffered 2 "sacks" due to the pressure from the #1 defense. So, unlike the official box score I actually have 17 passes that Tate threw (completing 10), not 16. Out of the 19 pass plays that have Tate as the QB, 5 required looking downfield and disecting the defense. 1 of these resulted in an Incomplete and 1 resulted in a "Sack". So, 14 pass plays were screens or rollouts to one side of the field where Tate looked for a WR or TE on the play side sideline.
Denard: 30 plays, 16 pass plays, 14 run plays
Here I also have Denard going 9 for 12. Even though there were 16 pass plays, 4 of those had Denard tucking the ball and running for positive yards. Out of the 16 pass plays, though, only 2 required a reading of the defense, and both went to Roundtree. I did not include the 97-yard pass or the pass to T-Rob because both pass plays were a 4 Verticals route with the inside receiver slanting towards the opposite hash (thanks Mark Campbell!). The 2 I gave him included the PA Rollout left to Roundtree (he wasn't primary receiver, FB was, and Roy looked like he played a hitch or dig route) and the 2nd TD pass to Roundtree (was an all curls pattern, but Denard had to direct traffic and wait for a hole in the defense to thread it in there).
My conclusion was that we can win with either of these QBs and that we need to stop using the old-school mentality that you HAVE to have a #1 guy. The playcalling will be totally different based on who is in, but even if the same plays are called, they will have totally different packages depending on who is QB. With Tate, the Zone Read and Belly plays could be successful if they keep a TE in as a pulling H-Back type. That way the line could be used for the RB and the TE could pull in a trap-style block in case Tate wants to keep it (since he is Dilithium-deficient). With Denard, I think the passing game becomes more simplified with more 4- or 5-WR sets so that he has the gaps to take off or be powerful in the Zone Read scheme.
I just think that if you only saw the game in attendance or once or twice, take another look. I was much more excited for both QBs after the last time I watched.
As a sidenote, I bombarded everyone with a lot on the QBs, but I did have other observations:
1. Will Campbell was destroying Centers and Guards all day, but the Michael Cox TD was due in large part because Will pushed himself right out of the play. If he kept his head up he would've eaten....no wait, that would be inappropriate...
2. Love the nuances of the new defense, and can't wait to see who ends up at Spur, since Kovacs seems to have that Bandit positon locked up.
3. I think Brian was the one that pointed out that the weakness of having guys like Mike Williams and Kovacs as the SS's was that the 4 Verticals route would expose their lack of speed, yet RichRod ran that play several times. Maybe film or GERG?
Since we are blowing the whole thing up, why don’t we look at what a truly consolidated power structure in which all the big boys stay at the table, invite a few of the little guys that have been chirping the loudest and push everyone else out of the picture. The result is 5 conferences, 15 teams each and a 75 team SugerMegaUltraDivision1BowlPlayoffChampionshipDivision.
My rules, 15 teams per conference, Big East disappears, no members poached from within the 5 remaining conferences. 65 teams from the Big Six Conferences, Notre Dame and 9 other teams survive.
The conferences would each be split into 3 divisions, 5 teams each. Four inter-division games are obvious and from there we have two options, option one is 3 cross division games per division and 2 non conference games and option 2 is 2 cross division games per division and 4 non conference games. Personally, I like the first option because if you mix any match-ups for rivalries you still play all the teams every other year as opposed to once every four years. I think if you are consolidating like this, non-conference games are less of a necessity.
Since I have already blatantly stolen some of the ideas from UMFootballCrazy’s Big 16, why stop now. Besides the 3 division format, I also liked the 4 team conference playoff at the end. 3 Division winners plus a wildcard face off in a four team conference championship. The 5 conference winners plus 3 wild cards could then face off in an 8 team playoff for the national championship.
10 11 12 14 15
|Ohio St||Notre Dame||Iowa|
New teams: ND, Pitt, Rutgers and Syracuse
2009 projected playoffs: MSU @ OSU, PSU @ Iowa
Michigan could preserve rivalries with Ohio St and Minnesota and under the 3 game scenario, rotate among the other 4 in each division every other year.
New teams: Memphis, Cincinnati, Louisville
2009 projected playoffs: LSU @ Florida, Cincinnati @ Alabama
Big 12 Bible Belt Conference
|Texas A&M||Oklahoma St||Missouri|
|Texas Tech||Colorado||Iowa St|
New teams: TCU, Colorado St, Houston
2009 projected playoffs: Nebraska @ Texas, TCU @ Oklahoma St
|Virginia||NC St||Georgia Tech|
|Virginia Tech||Wake Forest||Florida St|
|Conn||West Virginia||South Florida|
New teams: UConn, West Virginia, South Florida
2009 projected playoffs: WVU @ Georgia Tech, Clemson @Virginia Tech
|Washington St||USC||Arizona St|
New teams: Boise St, San Diego St or Fresno St, Utah, BYU, UNLV
2009 projected playoffs: Arizona @ Boise, BYU @ Stanford
Conference champions are then seeded 1-5 with the three at large selections going 6-8. Seeding are adjusted so that conference opponents can’t meet until the championship game. To make this work #7 TCU is switched with #8 Iowa.
Personally I like some of the ideas brought in from international soccer better than this, but that radical of a change isn’t likely to happen anytime soon or ever for that matter. National championship participants would probably be playing 17 games in a season which does seem like a bit of a stretch. Basketball scheduling would be an 18 game conference schedule with 4 opponents (probably division) getting a home and home and the other 10 teams getting one match-up each during the regular season. Conference tournaments could either be 1st round bye for 1st place team or Big East style bracket where 1-9 get a first round bye and then 1-4 get a second round bye. I didn’t have much trouble making up the conferences or the divisions, but a couple teams could probably move around. West Virginia could fit better in the Big 10 and switch with Syracuse or Rutgers. As far as teams in or out of these conferences, the hardest calls where which California team to take, San Diego St or Fresno St and which teams to add to the former Big 12, could potentially bring in Tulsa instead of Houston or Colorado St.
Since we are willing to now consider Big 10 (11) expansion beyond 12 teams to any and all possibilities, and Brian encouraged this sort of wild speculation, it seems to me that some configuration of 18 teams makes the most sense. We become the Big 18. The solution is actually quite simple. The base schedule is 11 games + conference playoffs. You create three six team divisions, based on geography. Within the division, you play each team once per season (5 games). You allow one non-conference creampuff/tune up game at the beginning of the schedule. The rest of the games must be arranged exclusively with other conference members (5 games) at the discretion of the schools. This would allow certain teams to arrange rivalry games every year. It would also increase the conference strength of schedule. (If the Big 10 gets out in front of this, if college football evolves into three, or perhaps four, 18 team super-conferences, it means we get first choice of available schools and thus assuring no current or former mid-majors end up in the Big 18). It will also encourage more home and home non-divisional series.
Big 18 Western Division
Big 18 Central Division
Big 18 Eastern Division
(I picked the schools with an eye to football and basketball, especially the Eastern Division, which would be the weakest football division but likely will be the strongest basketball division).
When all 10 Big 18 conference games are done, the winner of each division moves on to the conference playoffs and there is one wildcard team (some formula would have to be worked out to resolve wildcard ties if two divisional winners have the same record, but that would be a small problem. The NFL manages it every year). Then there is a two game playoff:
Best Record vs. Widcard
2nd Best Record vs. 3rd Best Record
The winner of those two games play each other and is crowned Big 18 champion, and will be a strong candidate to play in the national championship game every year.
The carrot that would induce teams to give up one regular season game each year would be a TV revenue sharing agreement so that all teams would benefit equally from the playoffs in terms of revenue. The downside is that you do not get as much opportunity to play other big conference schools, as that one non-conference game will be used as a pre-season tune up game, like played against a baby seal team. Bowl games could make up for that a little.
If this were to induce a move to three or perhaps four mega conferences, you could then follow the conference schedule with one of two playoff structures:
Best Team – Bye Week
Number 2 vs. Number 3
Winner of 2vs.3 plays number 1 for the national championship.
Best Team vs. Number 4
Number 2 vs. Number 3
Winners of those games play for the national championship.
The national championship is played at the Rose Bowl in the evening of New Year’s Day.
The teams would be seeded according to wins and if the conference winners have an equal number of wins that some formula (to be determined) is used to seed the three or four teams. The upside of this is that football is decided on the field and leaves voting out of the equation. The downside is that college football starts to look like the NFL.
You could still allow schools to arrange bowl games as consolations, and to sort out some of the conference strength nonsense (perhaps you could base seeding in next year’s national championship, in the event that two conference winners have the same record, on the respective record of the conferences in the bowl games. This would give a little more meaning to the bowl games). If people want to watch bowl games, why not put them on TV.
Florida tight end Jeff Heuerman just left Ann Arbor, after an unofficial visit with his father. Heuerman was hoping to leave today with an offer from the Wolverines, and he got his wish.
“We just got out of a meeting with coach Rodriguez, and he gave me the offer,” said Jeff. “They told me that they’re going to come after me really hard, and they definitely want me at Michigan. I’m one of only three tight ends they’ve offered, so I know they like me, too.”
Heuerman’s father was a former academic All American on the Michigan basketball team, but isn’t trying to persuade him to choose his alma mater.
“My dad is pretty excited, but he’s not telling me to choose Michigan. He tells me what he thinks, but that’s about it,” Jeff told me.
Jeff doesn’t have a top list, and is actually on his way to Notre Dame today. He’ll be stopping by Purdue on Thursday, and Ohio State on Friday and Saturday. Despite his excitement about the Michigan offer, Heuerman hasn't sorted the schools out, yet.
“I don’t have any favorites yet, because I want to visit these other schools, too. I loved it up at Michigan, though. I will tell you that,” said Heuerman. “I’m graduating early, so I will be deciding sometime in the summer, and Michigan is in there. These coaches are really impressive. They’re not negative recruiting at all, and being honest with me about where I fit in the offense. I was very impressed, and I loved it up there.”
Jeff now holds offers from Michigan, Boston College, Maryland, Memphis, Purdue, Rutgers, South Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Wisconsin, among others.