"Jim's a tough guy and you can see his personality is all over this football team," Fitzgerald said.
perform above expectation:
van bergen - my reasoning here is somewhat limited. for some reason i just like his potential, and i think he will be overlooked as a large portion of attention will be on graham and martin
stevie brown - (unless ur expecting first team all big ten at db) a lot of people have predicted this and i tend to agree. coaches have always been very high on this kid, and his skill level is superb. i think the position switch will really pay off.
troy woolfolk - he performed relatively well in his time in at corner. i think he will perform very well for us at safety
junior hemingway - i think hell bounce back from injury very strongly
stonum - he still wont block worth shit, but i think he will have flashes of the brilliance that many expected when he was recruited. maybe its just wishful thinking but stonum could be the downfield threat that our offense desperately needs in order to spread the field for our speedsters (althou iv heard some rumblings about roundtree being that guy for us, i just dont think his upside is as high as stonum)
schilling and the O-line in general - i think schilling will finally live up to his initial 5* hype now that he is in a position that better fits his abilities. i think all across the board our oline will be vastly improved from last yr. my only concern is at LT but i have faith
donovan warren - i think he will revert to his freshman form after a seriously disappointing season
performs below expectation:
mike martin - simply put i think the bar has just been put way too high for this kid and expectations will ultimately come back down to earth now that he wont be lining up next to will johnson and terrence taylor
brandon graham - i dont think he will have a bad season by normal standards, but i do think there will be a significant drop off from last yr as he will almost certainly be facing constant double team
will campbell - if he even plays, i think he will be less than stellar. but i still think his upside is incredible.
obie ezeh - i hope to god im wrong, because this will have a serious impact on the overall effectiveness of our defense, but his season last yr was simply unimpressive. i think he will prove to be no better than the 3rd best lb on the team, behind stevie brown (if considered a lb) and mouton
booboo - i really love the kids game and he sticks like a wet tshirt in coverage (it killed me to watch morgan trent and his 15 yard cushions.) but i fear that due to his vertical limitations he might be abused by bigger recievers.
tate - i really think that his deadly accuracy and his ability to scramble make him nearly ideal for this type of offense. he can throw on the run, spread the ball to our electrons, hit recievers on the slant routes, thrown the long ball...my only concern is that he had the reputation of being a bit of a gun slinger, and his decision making might be an issue. if he can minimize the turnovers i think he will solidify his starting role and really shock people with his ability to manage this offense
odoms - he, or whoever is in at slot, will be vital to the flow of our offense. odoms, afterall, was our leading reciever last yr (in terms of receptions.) he played pretty solidly last yr, but i still have concerns about his hands.
Last year we saw two highly touted QB recruits opt out of their verbal commitments to the Wolverines. But the circumstances around Beaver’s de-commitment were rather shocking, I mean the kid decided to go to Tulsa?
In his recruitment he listed that Tulsa and TCU were the first to offer, followed by a slew of higher rated programs: Nebraska, Arizona, Clemson, Texas Tech, and Michigan. However, it does seem the prestige of the Wolverines offer won him over because within about 2 months of his first contact with the Michigan coaches he committed.
However, Beaver’s early commitment didn’t seem that strong by the fall and Beaver’s recruitment as a whole seemed to stop after he suffered a season ending shoulder injury. However, he took an official to Tulsa on Dec. 12, an in-home visit by their coaches the next week, and by the 19th, he decided to leave the bright lights of the Big Ten for C-USA.
Beaver is on record as saying:
- "It's about family, faith and friends," said Beaver. "I needed to go to Tulsa. Tulsa is all about family. They have great support there with the coaches, team and university. Picking a school is not all about the logo."
- "Now my mom can come to all the games to watch me."
- "My goal is Tulsa's goal. Tulsa believes in winning, and I'm going to just go out and win."
- "I was impressed with how (the Tulsa coaches) carried themselves. They told me everything that was offered, and everything they said made sense."
We can sort through these quickly: Tulsa is a faith based private school (smallest in I-A and affiliated with the Presbyterian Church USA), that might remind some of a high school and is certainly more conservative than Michigan’s more liberal atmosphere.
The school is certainly much closer for his mom to visit. Ann Arbor is about 1,158 miles from Wichita Falls, TX (Walking about 15 days, 17hrs…), whereas Tulsa, OK and Wichita Falls, TX are under 4 hours by car.
As for education (which I saw him highlight on some other quotes), though it is not up to Michigan’s World Class standards, Tulsa is no slouch – with high rankings from US News and others.
And as for the winning? Well clearly the football program does not have Michigan’s history, and C-USA is not on the same level as the Big Ten…but the school has a few famous alums including NFL Hall of Fame member Steve Largent. And, if Beaver was referring to last year in particular, then he would be right since the Golden Hurricane football team did win 11 games, including the GMAC bowl against Ball State.
Where Is Beaver Now?
He joins a team that has won the West in C-USA the last two years and had the best offense in the country in 2007 (second best in 2008). He will be joining the team as it sees its Sr. QB exit after throwing for over 4,000 yards and 46 TDs last season.
The offense they run is a pass happy aerial attack that emphasizes lengthening the game and being very aggressive/almost never punting (punting sucks without the space emperor).
Tulsa plays its first three games on the road @Tulane, @New Mexico, @Oklahoma (September 19th). So Beaver should get quite an eclectic experience playing the Tulsa schedule each year… (They also play Sam Houston State and Boise State).
Overall, the opportunity is there for Beaver to start immediately and though he will likely experience growing pains, he should have a productive career in C-USA. And, hopefully he finds that right combination of faith+family+winning+academics+geographical proximity to Wichita Falls that he desires.
Not everything makes perfect sense in the world of College Football, and everyone has heard of a star student opting for a small college or a local university… Why can’t the star QB?
Maybe this is where Beaver was meant to go? Without his de-commitment Michigan likely wouldn’t have landed D-Rob. So maybe this works out best for everyone…
In the doldrums of the offseason, a lot of interest was generated over the prospect of adding another team to the Big Ten. Recently, the SEC and the Big XII have experienced success after picking apart the old SWC, and the ACC raided the Big East for some of the top teams of the conference. The Big Ten experienced more success after adding Penn State, and the question was ultimately raised whether a new member would be wanted in the conference, and whether or not this would help shore up the Big Ten's image and if it would help the conference in the long run. Delany has said "no thanks," but it seems that most coaches want the expansion.
What teams would there be is the critical question pertaining to this discussion. A few basic parameters should be set:
The university must be in a BCS conference. There are no teams in the region with the success that the western mid-majors had.
The university should be within reasonable geographic location.
This leaves the only candidates (alphabetically): Boston College, Cincinnati, Iowa State, Louisville, Maryland, Missouri, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Syracuse, and West Virginia.
We can eliminate Notre Dame because it has not expressed desire to be in the Big Ten. It would be a lateral move for Missouri from the Big XII (maybe even a step down) and they'd lose all of their history and rivalries nonetheless (no, Illinois does not contribute.) We can eliminate Iowa State because they historically have been a bottom-dweller in football and basketball. Maryland can be eliminated as well for similar reasons to Missouri. Boston College moved conferences just recently so a pretty nonsensical situation. Cincinnati would not add a larger T.V. market, and this move is not big enough move for the conference to make. Louisville is similar.
That leaves: Pitt, Rutgers, Syracuse and West Virginia.
This would be a great move for the conference to make, it's a school with good academics, it brings in a good media market for the T.V. network, they have a traditional rivalry with Penn State, and they'd help the Big Ten in football and basketball prestige. Step up for them.
Also a pretty popular choice. it would give a pipeline to the New York/New Jersey viewing area, it’s a big school, and the school is up-and-coming in football. Basketball is another matter, but this would be a huge move for them and the conference, as it would move them into the big time.
A decent choice, they'd be an instant credibility boost in basketball, and football would be... iffy. Big market, good tradition compared to the nouveau riche Rutgers, and very similar to Pitt. They'd also be rivals with Penn State should the move happen. It is a good choice academically.
They'd be an instant rival with Michigan... kind of. Not a phenomenal school or a very large one, but they've had success lately on the playing field (thanks to Rodriguez). Basketball is fine, but the media market would not be great.
Overall, I'd choose Pitt; the move is the best for the school and the conference.
Financially, expansion would help the Big Ten Network gain a much larger viewing area, generate more interest and revenue with a conference championship game (Detroit and Indianapolis would be perfect locations geographically, as well as top-notch stadiums.) The new team would potentially bring in more revenue into the conference with bowl game appearances; and the money would definitely help the conference. Really, there is not a financial reason that would seriously inhibit the Big Ten from adding a twelfth member.
A major question arose over the divisional setup or even if there shouldn't be any divisions and keep the current round robin system that misses two teams per year and add another conference game. 9 conference games in a year has really hurt the PAC-10; the teams lose revenue with the loss of a 1-AA (MAC, mid-major whatever) and a home game every two years, replacing this with a conference road game (which makes it harder to become bowl-eligible too.) A round-robin would not be the smartest idea; it hasn't worked out well for most of the teams in the PAC-10 (who all have to play USC every year) and it probably would not benefit anyone in the Big Ten either, the middling to lower-echelon teams would possibly get another loss making it harder to become bowl eligible, and the powers that be would lose tons of revenue by playing a maximum of 7 games at home every other year.
No clear-cut conference divisional alignment makes total sense if it is just a clear-cut round-robin. The major rivalries in-state and out west cannot be kept this way. I’ve worked out the solution and a geographical divisional alignment is easily produced (avoiding the messy ACC.) The caveat is a SEC-type ‘permanent rival’ from the other division so one team plays a team in the other division every year to uphold historic rivalries.
It would look like:
Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State, and Pittsburgh
Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Northwestern, Purdue, and Wisconsin
The permanent rivals would be: Indiana-Purdue (obviously), Michigan-Minnesota (Little Brown Jug), Ohio State-Illinois (Illibuck), and Michigan State-Wisconsin, Penn Sate-Iowa, and Pittsburgh-Northwestern (the final three may be rearranged).
A sample schedule for Michigan would be all of their divisional teams (Indiana home, MSU away, OSU home, PSU away, and Pitt home), Minnesota away, and Wisconsin at home and Northwestern away. The next year would be the same but all of the games would be flipped home/away. Then Wisconsin would be replaced with Purdue and Northwestern with Iowa or something.
EDIT: In response to those who seem to want Missouri for whatever reason, the division alignment would look something like this:
Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State, and Purdue
Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Northwestern, and Wisconsin
Permanent rivals: Michigan-Minnesota, Ohio State-Illinois, Northwestern-Indiana, Penn State-Missouri, Michigan State-Wisconsin, and Purdue-Iowa.
Yes, the dual title is a shout-out to “Rocky and Bowinkle”.
Although this post should be totally unnecessary, idiocy abounds and the madness must be stopped. Short of writing personal checks to players (or some equivalently massive set of rule violations), Rich Rodriguez WILL NOT BE FIRED by season’s end. He will live to fight another day and to coach another year in Ann Arbor no matter what happens on the field this season.
I was listening to WTKA recently and they had some airhead running his mouth about how RR is on the “hot seat” this year, that he needs to have a winning record, etc. I got ticked by his obvious ignorance of what exactly constitutes the “hot seat” and his general lack of analysis, betraying a lack of understanding of the state of M Football. But I dismissed it for what it was: talk radio. They’ve gotta talk about something to justify their existence. And the more simplistic, inane, and agitating, the better.
Then Brian linked a Phil Steele article from the Orlando Sentinel in which Phil lists RR as the #7 coach in I-A (FBS) on the “hot seat” and I couldn’t take it anymore.
FIRST of all, let’s start with the definition of the euphemism “hot seat”. In sports, “on the hot seat” means “you’re about to get fired unless you produce like now.” The last word in that sentence is where Phil (and others) must be getting confused. It’s not “yesterday” or “last year”, because that’s “you WERE fired.” It’s not “in the next 3-5 years”, because that’s a seat that’s just not hot. Hot Seat = NOW … or else.
SECOND, let’s look at what Phil said about RR.
· Phil expects M to be an underdog in 7 games. By implication, that means Michigan would be a favorite in 5 games. No one in Wolverine Nation would be thrilled by a 5-7 finish. But RR won’t get fired over it either. Why? Because Michigan AD, Bill Martin, is a patient man. Bill knows that his football coach is only in his second year of getting his players and his system in place. Bill waited through 5 years of Tommy Amaker, he’ll certainly wait through 3-5 years of RR.
· Phil thinks RR will get us to a decent bowl and make major strides just like he did in his 2nd year at West Virginia. We would need to go 6-6 to go to any kind of bowl, 8-4 to go to a “decent bowl”, as Phil says. Why would that get RR fired? That sounds like the kind of progress everyone is hoping for.
· Phil thinks that a lot Michigan alumni mistakenly assume that RR’s spread offense is a pass-first, run-second scheme (like, who exactly, Phil?). Even if that were true, it would have exactly ZERO effect on RR being fired this season.
I'm sorry, Phil. Why exactly is RR in your "hot seat"?
THIRD, even a major catastrophe on the field this season would not result in RR being fired. Hypothetically, let’s envision Michigan going 0-12 this year. That means we lose to Western Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Indiana, and Delaware State all at home. Let’s just focus on those four games. Imagine the plausible scenarios by which we would accomplish this level of devastation. Here’s what comes to mind:
· Injuries to every starter AND Nick Sheridan and David Cone and … (Zoltan can play QB and we still beat Delaware State)
· Everyone who returns kicks/punts fumbling the ball (cf. the 2008 Wisconsin game)
· Coaches using a Ouija board to decide what plays to call
· Opponents discovering kryptonite to neutralize Zoltan’s super powers
· Pre-game F-16’s piloted by Bucknuts crashing into the Michigan bench kamikaze-style
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Last year, we beat Miami Ohio, the moral equivalent of Delaware State. Last year, we beat Wisconsin after turning the ball over 5 times in the first half. Last year, Nick Sheridan (bless his heart) led us to victory ON THE ROAD against Minnesota. Last year, we had the worst football team I’ve ever seen, and we still won 3 games.
There’s no way we do any worse than last year. Everyone on the roster has as much (true freshmen) or more (everyone else) experience as last year’s team. Which means we make some (or “significant” according to Phil Steele) improvement this year (somewhere between 4-8 and 8-4). Which means RR will not be fired this year. Which means RR is in no way on “the hot seat” this year.
So give it a rest, folks.
And don’t start talking about those Michigan fans who blindly defend RR at all costs. I’m not saying he’s the second-coming. Heck, we’re probably looking at a 6-6 season. I’m just saying there’s no plausible on-the-field scenario by which he gets fired by season’s end. Get used to the idea that RR will be our coach for 2009, 2010, and probably at least 2011 before he’s at risk of being fired. Like I said, Bill Martin is a patient man, even if you’re not. Use your heads and cool your jets.
And GO BLUE!
Well, I've heard talk of early season momentum and early season letdowns so often over the years, I wanted to see if there was anything at all to this thing. As such, I visited the NCAA football website and got some stats. I had originally planned to map this over many years, but as I got looking, I saw that this was one statistic that was really quite consistent year in and year out, so I've only got the data points for last season. Should equate fairly well to any year.
The first thing I needed to establish was how many games made up the "start" of the season. I hung that one up at 4 games, because by that point, the kinks should be worked out and pretty much every team should have played at least one conference game, or one or more highly challenging OOC games. I then divided the teams by total games won (Regardless of bowl games/longer seasons), and figured the respective group's records in the first four games of the season. Results below:
Group A: 10 - 13 Wins Group B: 8-9 Wins
20 Teams 31 Teams
4-0: 13 Teams, 65% 4-0: 5 Teams, 16%
3-1: 6 Teams, 30% 3-1: 16 Teams, 52%
2-2: 1 Team, 5% 2-2: 8 Teams, 26%
1-3: 2 Teams, 6%
Group C: 7 Wins Group D: 6 Wins
14 Teams 7 Teams
4-0: 3 Teams, 21% 4-0: 0 Teams
3-1: 4 Teams, 29% 3-1: 1 Team, 14%
2-2: 5 teams, 35% 2-2: 4 Teams, 57%
1-3: 2 Teams, 14% 1-3: 2 Teams, 29%
Group E: 5 Wins Group F: 4-3 Wins
16 Teams 20 Teams
4-0: 0 Teams 4-0: 0 Teams
3-1: 4 Teams, 25% 3-1: 1 Team, 5%
2-2: 6 Teams, 38% 2-2: 7 Teams, 35%
1-3: 6 Teams, 38% 1-3: 11 Teams, 55%
0-4: 1 Team, 5%
Group G: 0-2 Wins
4-0: 0 Teams
3-1: 0 Teams
2-2: 2 Teams, 22%
1-3: 5 Teams, 56%
0-4: 2 Teams, 22%
Now, taking this data, we can make some projections. If Michigan were to have a "Fast Start", as the experts are saying is necessary, and we assume "Fast Start" to be 3-1 or better, then we can see where the chips are most likely to fall.
Excluding a 10-13 Win season, startin 3-1 or better makes 8-9 wins the most likely. That seems obvious. You have to win a lot of games to get 8-9 wins. However, it seems interesting that a team winning their first four is more likely to win only 7 than 8-9 total. Similarly, it's odd tht those going 3-1 in their first 4 are more likely to fall to 5 wins overall than reach 6, by a substantial percentage margin. And as can be seen from the 2-2 mark, this is not because those teams are winning more.
I also wondered if the Big 10, with a penchant for scheduling weak non-conference games in the early season, might be less than reflective of the sport as a whole. As such, I checked that out.
2 Big 10 Teams, 4-0&3-1
3 Big 10 Teams, 4-0, 3-1, 3-1
2 Big 10 Teams, 4-0, 3-1
1 Big 10 Team, 2-2
3 Big 10 Teams, 2-2, 2-2, 2-2
Big 10 Teams fell into the 4-0 Win total 27% of the time. Average over all groups containing 4-0 Teams was 34%.
Big 10 Teams fell into the 3-1 Win total 36% of the time. Average over all groups is 26%.
Big 10 Teams fell into the 2-2 Win total 36% of the time. Average over all groups is 31%
The Big 10 lands a little below average in one win category, a little above in another, and just about dead on in the third. The total falls slightly over the national average in wins for the first four games, but not substantiantially. As such, Michigan's expected final win total shouldn't be grossly inflated or deflated because of OOC strength. Big ten teams don't perform noticably better than other conference teams during the OOC portion of the schedule, and so Michigan shouldn't get noticably worse (in wins and losses) during the conference season.
What conclusions can we draw from this? It looks like Michigan does indeed need to win as many early season games as possible, but only in that it bolsters their win total overall. About half of all 7 win teams did not have a "fast start" (3-1 or 4-0) record, and likewise, a quarter of all 5 win teams had a fast start (and 2/3rds had at least an even record after 4), and failed to put forth a winning season.
So if Michigan loses 2 or 3 of their first 4 (I hope not) and somebody tells you their toast, tell them the stats only say, "Eh... maybe". Likewise, if they go 4-0 and somebody tells you the've got it made, tell them that 21% of 4-0 teams last year barely made a bowl game.
Just take the season one game at a time, and take a "W" for what it is. A "W".
However, I'm wondering whether a more compelling split would be if the conference divided along North/South lines, a la the Big 12. In this scenario, Michigan, Minnesota, Northwestern, MSU, Wisconsin, and Iowa would comprise the Big Ten North, and (possibly) the new team along with tOSU, Indiana, Purdue, Penn State, and Illinois would make up the south. This would probably require the Big Ten expansion to involve a team that was more definitively south (like remember when we thought Texas might be interested? or Notre Dame if they ever come to their senses...). Rutgers would in this instance become a more desirable scenario as well, and Syracuse less so.
In the Big Ten's current state this split seems to carry the more intriguing power structure: Michigan, if and when it returns to its expected strength, would be the flagship program of the Big Ten North. Battling with UM for Big Ten North titles would be any one of Iowa/Wisconsin/MSU/Northwestern/Minnesota (all of whom appear to be, if not competitive, then on the verge of being competitive post-2008). In the south, Penn State and Ohio State would be like the Texas/Oklahoma tandem in the Big 12 South, routinely sparring for supremacy (possibly with the new school), occasionally with Illinois as a legitimate challenger and Purdue and Indiana bringing up the rear.
It seems to me that it is in Michigan's interest to have the Big Ten divide North/South. What do all of you think?
Thanks to http://statsheet.com/cfb/conferences/big-ten/map for providing a good visual of where the Big Ten teams are situated geographically.