In a little over two seasons of Michigan baseball coverage, I've seen highs and I've seen lows. In 2008, Michigan had an outstanding class of upperclassmen, perhaps their best since the 1980s. When they left, some to graduation, others who left early to the draft, Michigan was left with a huge void. In one year, Michigan went from a first place team in the Big Ten to one of the worst teams in the conference.
The 2010 season was supposed to be the first step to rebuilding. Michigan had two powerful senior captains. They had Ryan LaMarre, a guy now looking at being drafted in the first two rounds of the MLB draft. The pitching depth was there. They may have lacked the big star on the mound, but they were going to be good.
On Saturday, Michigan faced Iowa in a chance to make the Big Ten Tournament Championship. The game went much like the rest of the season. Michigan opened with a bang. The offense exploded. After it went quiet, the pitching held strong. But when the pitching left, so did much of Michigan's hopes for the NCAA.
Recap, and a look back at the big picture… or excel graph. However you want to look at it…, and a look forward after the jump.
Desimon Green, out of Clairton High School in Pennsylvania, recently got some exciting news from the Michigan coaching staff. Coach Gibson and Coach Robinson told Green that he would have an offer once Rich Rodriguez gives the thumbs up after the holiday weekend. Desimon is calling the Michigan coaches back tomorrow, and is expecting the offer to be extended.
Green is a 6-foot-5, 215-pound athlete, that plays defensive end, quarterback, wide receiver, and even linebacker. "Whatever the team needs me at, that's what I play. You don't usually see a teams quarterback turn around and line up at the defensive end spot, but I can do it all," said Desimon. The Wolverines are recruiting Green for either the defensive end spot, or the hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker position. "That's kind of what I play now, for our team, so that fits me pretty well," Green said.
Desimon told me he was a fan of Michigan growing up, but being a fan and a recruit are two different things. "They're not my favorite just because I was a fan. Those are two different things. They have a good chance, but they're not my leader," said Desimon. Michigan isn't the leader, but they are among his top five. "Texas Tech, Michigan State, West Virginia, Cincinnati, and Michigan are the top schools so far," he told me.
For what it's worth, Michigan State is recruiting him for tight end, which is ok with him. Desimon is hoping to have a decision made by September, and November at the latest. He's looking for a certain comfort level, and the opportunity to play early. He doesn't plan on camping at Michigan, because he doesn't want to camp anywhere he already has an offer with.
The 2010 Michigan Defense will be quite young and inexperienced. But how do they compare to the rest of the Big Ten? Finding depth charts was more difficult that I imagined and I was not able to find all of them. [The only one I could not find was for Minnesota. If someone finds a link I"ll add the Gophers in.]
Obviously depth charts change constantly but these are all finalized after the team's respective spring game, so its the best we got. I did a simple breakdown between upperclassman (Jr. - Rs Sr.) and underclassman.
Teams are listed from weakest to strongest based on 2009 Total Defense.
(courtesy of Scout)
(courtesy of Rivals)
(courtesy of The Only Colors)
(courtesy of Northwestern Football Blog)
(courtesy of Bing)
(courtesy of Rivals)
(courtesy of The Penn State Examiner)
(courtesy of National Champs)
(courtesy of Brutus Report)
On first glance these breakdowns make sense. Penn State, Iowa, and Ohio State usually field excellent defenses year after year. These programs have (obviously) been able to build up depth allowing them to field experinced players. Wisconsin and Northwestern also return mostly upperclassman and were ranked higher last year than I intially thought.
Michigan State and Purdue are more evenly split. Both schools field relatively new coaches compared to these other schools.
Big Ten Averages
Clearly the Wolverines are short on experience in the starting lineup, but they are not far off from the other B10 schools. However these numbers could tip even younger if Obi Ezeh loses his spot and Will Campbell becomes a starter.
The two-deep is even more skewed toward younger players. In a word: brutal.
Not All B10 Defenses Are Created Equal
After looking at the B10 Total Defense rankings from 2009 there appeared to be 3 fairly seperate categories of defensive quailty.
Craptastic: 404.0 yds/game (Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, MSU, Minnesota)
Decent: 354.1 yds/game (Purdue & Northwestern)
Great: 295.3 yds/game (Wisconsin, PSU, Iowa, OSU)
Which category most closely matches one of the above?
I don't think any further analysis is needed here. Michigan is significantly inexperienced compared to their BIg Ten foes, especiallly when compared to the good and elite teams. The two-deep is just scary to look at and there is no surgarcoating that situation. Michigan needs health as much (if not more) than any other B10 team this year.
The silver lining here is Michigan matches up fairly closely to Purdue, ranked 5th in Total Big Ten Defense. Hopefully our superior talent will also allow Michigan to finish as somewhat of an outliner in 2010.
Michigan Defense: 2009 vs 2010
What does this all mean?
Looking at the Michigan Two-Deep I am surprised that we field the same experience-level defense. This gives me more hope that the 2010 Defense as an overall unit can be better than the one we saw in 2009.
Just a little bit of change since last week, but ESPN did tweak their ratings a bit. Action since last rankings:
5-25-10 Wisconsin gains commitment from Austin Maly.
5-26-10 Penn State gains commitment from Kyle Carter. Wisconsin gains commitment from Eric Steffes.
5-28-10 Michigan gains commitment from Chris Rock.
|Big Ten Recruiting Class Rankings|
|Rank||School||# of Commits||Rivals 250||Scout Average||ESPN 150|
I'll only make charts for the teams that currently have commits. Rivals 250 means that a given prospect is on the Rivals 250 to Watch, and ESPN 150 means that a prospect is on the Watch List for the ESPNU 150. Scout ratings are on the 5-star scale.
|#1 Ohio State - 11 Commits|
|#2 Notre Dame - 9 Commits|
Irish have been stagnating for quite some time now.
|#3 Michigan - 5 Commits|
Michigan picks up Chris Rock, and a couple more commits may be on the way.
|#4 Michigan State - 5 Commits|
No change for Sparty.
|#5 Indiana - 8 Commits|
Nothing new for the Hoosiers.
|#6 Wisconsin - 4 Commits|
Wisconsin is forming a recruiting class composed entirely of tight ends.
|#7 Iowa - 3 Commits|
Iowa passed by Wisconsin.
|#8 Minnesota - 2 Commits|
Still no change for the Gophers.
|#9 Northwestern - 2 Commits|
|#10 Illinois - 2 Commits|
|#11 Purdue - 1 Commit|
Nothing new for Purdue.
|#12 Penn State - 1 Commit|
Nittany Lions! Welcome to the show.
GBW is reporting a commitment from Andrews, South Carolina comedian Chris Rock. Rock was not able to make the BBQ and this commitment is completely out of the blue. He had no other offers at the time of his commitment.
|Comedy Central's 100 Greatest Comedians||EntertainmentRankings.com||faqs.org|
|#5 Stand-Up||#3 Stand-Up||#52 Stand-Up|
Chris Rock, to me, now that Carlin and Pryor have both passed, is the greatest living stand-up and the funniest comedian over the last 20 years.
Faqs.org, begins by talking about one of Rock's negatives:
...he's known predominantly for racial humor...
but then follows up with praise almost on par with EntertainmentRankings.com:
...funny is funny and Chris Rock is one of the funniest human beings on the planet.
And then finishes off with an assessment of one of his strengths:
Perhaps the greatest testament to his skill is how mainstream he's become: despite talking about controversial topics such as race and sex and working very "Blue" he's loved by inner city minorities, white suburban dads, and elderly WWII vets.
Rock is listed consistently at 5-11 and 45 years old. He has appeared in several movies, such as Beverly Hills Cop II, Boomerang, and Dogma. He also attended the Academy Awards in 2005 as the host, to mixed reviews.
Chris Rock has reported no other offers at this time. Probably because he's a 45 year old comedian and not a football player. Presumably Rodriguez and his staff intended to offer Columbus DeSales defensive end Chris Rock rather than the comedian and there was just a clerical error.
Chris Rock spent 3 years on Saturday Night Live and was on 60 different episodes. He has also been the director, writer, actor, or producer on several movies.
FAKE 40 TIME
Comedians do not have 40 times, hence they can not be fake.
Highlights (NSFW audio):
You can also see a video of Chris Rock talking about drugs (more NSFW audio).
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Being a 45-year old comedian and not a football player, Chris Rock seems like a lock for a redshirt while they get him in shape for football. After that, he may be moved to punter or holder, where the chance of him being injured will be minimized.
Following his redshirt season, Rock likely still will not see playing time, unless we're facing Delaware State again. He will probably be used as a motivational tool for the team.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Chris Rock is the first comedian in the 2011 class and likely the last. Unfortunately, this leaves one fewer scholarship spot for the 2011 class. This offer seems like a reach, at best. They really should have offered the defensive end from Columbus instead.
I am approximately 30 years old and have been a dedicated and observant Michigan fan since I was 15 or so. I cheer on the Michigan Wolverines, the Maize and Blue (or the Yellow and Blue), and the Victors. I am Jonny and I Go Blue. At no point, in my 15 years of rooting for the Wolverines have I cheered for Big Blue. Why? Wikipedia never lies: Big Blue is NOT a nickname for the Michigan Wolverines.
However, I have lately been witnessing its use increase at an alarming rate, most recently today in MGoUser CaliWolverine78’s signature: http://mgoblog.com/mgoboard/time-rock-and-roh#comment-498539
This got me to thinking, when did this infiltration of Big Blue begin? The first time I recall having heard it was on ESPN College Gameday out of the mouth of Lee Corso. I let it slide that day thinking “Oh well, it’s just Lee Corso, he’s generally accepted as a nincompoop. Moving on…”. However, after what I had hoped was a simple brain fart on Corso’s part, I soon heard other folks on ESPN using the term and of course thereafter on ABC as well. I die a little on the inside every time I hear someone say it. It hurts my ears just like nails on a chalkboard.
In an attempt to prove myself wrong and find that the “Big Blue” nickname had indeed been used by Michigan and I just hadn’t noticed it, I went to everyone’s favorite research site: Google. Looking through the results for Big Blue Michigan and Big Blue Wolverines, there is very, very, very little use in reference to our Maize and Blue. Here’s a small sample of the few results I found:
(2010) A gotickets.com advertisement http://www.umhoops.com/
(2009) A Michigan “fan” in his comments on an annarbor.com article http://www.annarbor.com/sports/michigan-could-benefit-from-muddy-big-ten...
(2007) Some CNBC business guy talking about the switch from Nike to Adidas http://www.cnbc.com/id/19710056/Michigan_Goes_Adidas_As_Nike_Runs_Out_On...
(2006 or later) A Michigan related Twitter site http://www.bigbluetweets.com/
(?) A “website” calling for Michigan fans to save Lloyd Carr http://www.nd.edu/~dcieslak/savellloydcarr.html
(1999) A 32 page children’s book (they’re poisoning our children!) http://www.amazon.com/Go-Big-Blue-Michigan-Wolverines/dp/0886829798
Three things worth noting: 1) lack of volume 2) no official use of the term 3) with the exception of the 1999 children’s book (whose author I now blame for this more than Corso as it is probably safe to assume it's one of his favorite books) no uses of the term prior to 2006-ish, which is about when I remember hearing Corso say it for the first time.
I followed this up with searches for Big Blue Kentucky, Big Blue Giants, and Big Blue IBM. The sheer volume of relevant results, both official and otherwise, was enough to tell me that the lack of results for Michigan WAS significant. It is not a widely accepted nickname for the Wolverines.
Now the question remains, can it be an accepted nickname? Are we okay with calling ourselves Big Blue? If it were up to just me, I’d ship everyone who says “yes” to a far away country (like maybe Kentucky). Of course it’s perfectly acceptable to give someone or something a nickname of your own. For instance, I call my younger brother “Pencilneck”. However, when you begin expecting others to use that same nickname I think you’re asking for trouble.
Just think of the troubles the acceptance this particular nickname would cause. The football cheerleaders would need a 3rd sign for the “Go Big Blue” chants across the stadium. Mgoblue.com would go missing only to be replaced with Mgobigblue.com. Worst of all, my head would explode. Please don’t allow this to happen.
Take a stand with me and put an end to “Crazy Michigan Fan’s” use of Big Blue.