Niko Porikos grew up in an NTDP billet home. Cool story.
I've got no typical Scout disclaimer to begin with. You know, when a guy says, "Now don't get me wrong, I LOVE me some Rich Rodriguez. I think we're gonna win the next 14 national championships. I now drink 4 gallons of chocolate milk every day. I haven't washed my underwear since we beat the Minnesota Golden Goophers. Charlie Weis is fat. BUT..."
I simply question why people are giving Rich Rodriguez so much of the benefit of the doubt. You can call me negative. you can call me a "Closet Sparty," you can call me a "H8TER," but I don't care.
Charlie Weis, Jim Tressel, and Mark Dantonio--the coaches of Michigan's most hated rivals--all won with with another guy's players. They all came in and implemented different systems, brought all new assistants, all of them are assholes, and yet--they ALL won with players they did not recruit (but they did add some of their own). And all of them did even better in Year 2. You can argue that Notre Dame fell off over the last two years--but at least Charlie Weis is recruiting the hell out of (whatever you recruit the hell out of), and Ohio State is stockpiling talent in a big way. They also have this one guy named Terelle Pryor.
And Dantonio? All he is doing is winning over provincial Michigan and provincial, sniping, self-righteous Michigan Media members and the perception is that MSU is THE program in Michigan. Yeah, Michigan high school football may not put out tons of talent, but Michigan has benefitted from being the Big Dawg in our great state for 40 years, and many, MANY Michigan stars have come from My Michigan. But overnight, MSU has seemingly usurped UM in the hearts and minds of Michigan, and Dantonio has, to this point, won a sort of "culture war" with UM. He tutored under the all-time passive agrressive genius in Columbus, and he is indeed making the state of Michigan greener.
So where does that leave Rich Rodriguez, Michigan football, and Michigan football fans?
Well, in my opinion, this goes way deeper than just shouting "We'll be back!" "Wait'll Rich Rod gets his players!"
Let's look at it from strictly a football standpoint for this first "blog" of mine.
2008: Rich Rod is hired. UM implements some sort of "spread" for the Capital One Bowl and beats Florida. Everyone happy. Everyone clap. Everyone say: "Where has this been? See what we can do? Look at what Rich Rod did at West Virginia! Now, with MICHIGAN TALENT--LOOK OUT BEEYOTCHEZZ!" And when Rich Rodriguez holds Lloyd's last recruiting class pretty much intact (losing only a tight end and a drop back QB)--and adding SIX players to that class in the 11th hour--it was party time!
Let's fast forward past last football season to now.
The recruiting class from 2008, for those who care to notice, is not looking so great, expecially for a team so thin. We have seen five players leave the team. A sixth, Justin Feagin, may never see the field again. The horribly named Mike Cox is a huge question mark. Even Darryl Stonum causes people to wonder. People, that's over 25% of the class.
2009 saw a great class come in. Eligibility questions aside, it is a good mix of real talent, offense and defense, and diamonds in the rough. And Rodriguez again showed great 11th-hour prowess with the signings of Warshington, Robinson, Lewan, Roh and Lalota.
But with so many departures during the first-year transition, and the attrition already seen from the 2008 class, 2009 and 2010 have to be HOME RUNS for a team that is thin with defensive talent and depth.
When Scout posters began hating on star gazing, forty times, and Michigan high school talent, they all shouted in unison: "Look at the offer sheets!" Well I did--and it ain't pretty.
To wit: Four---FOUR of the verbals from this class have no other offers.
Outside of Christian Pace, MRob, Ricardo Miller, Jeremy Jackson, Kenny Wilkins, and Devin Gardner, the other schools offering UM recruits are these (according to Scout): Army, Bowling Green, Indiana, Stanford, Louisville, Vanderbilt, Duke, Wake Forest, Syracuse, Minnesota, and Tulane. I have to admit--that is an impressive list--if you are going after possible future Rhodes Scholars and guys who can go out on a date with a coed and not even think about buying a condom. But Big Time national championships? Not so much. And go ahead and color me not terribly awed by a 6'2, 256 lbs offensive lineman in Pace. Can you say, "Another turbulent offseason splattered with multiple decommits?" I hope so.
Now we stand on the precipice of the 2009 season with two true freshmen at the most important position in the world (yes, even more important than the head cheerleader for the Dallas Cowboys). We stand on the precipice of the 2009 season hoping that Brandon Graham and Mike Martin don't even get a hangnail. We stand on the precipice of a 2009 season which will see our beloved Wolverines go on the road to Iowa, Michigan State and Wisconsin. We stand on the fuck that. Notre Dame, Ohio State, and Penn State are all coming to town. We have our THIRD defensive coordinator in THREE years.
I know you all want to think that Rodriguez is "building something"--and so do I. But I'd like to know what it is, and I'd like to know if you really think he has the time.
2009 and 2010 have to be all-time recruiting classes. We need them for talent and depth. We can't have half this class being "flyers"--if 25% of the guys you really DO want wash out--what are the odds with guys that NOBODY wants? It is scary. Expecially if you are a guy who, like me, is a real loser with no other identity than to put on my Michigan jammies and go to the mall on Sunday with my chest all puffed out, just daring some fucking pathetic fucktard to give me some shit. Of course, if he does, I'll rear back and say, "Hey, I was just robbed and the police gave me this stuff to wear because the goddam robber even took my clothes and stuffed them in a basket he had attached to his iron lung."
At 11:49 am on September 4, 2010, Carl Grapetine's voice will ring throughout Michigan Stadium as it has for the past 39 years. "Ladies and gentlemen," comes the purr of Bearded Grapentine. 100,000 boring old people and 400 sober students preoccupied with applying their 200 SPF sunscreen squint into the sun towards the Michigan Stadium press box. "At punter, number 71, Burt Chuckberry." The students look at one another. "Who?" they ask aloud. "Dude," vomits Broham Brosephton of Farmington Hills, 18, "I've never even heard of that fag." Brosephton's friend and seat partner, Screechy Tanfastic, does not reply. She sits on the metal bleachers, sobbing for no discernible reason, just as she and every other Kappa does every fall Saturday.
As for young Chuckberry, he will punt four times that day against Michigan's feeble opponent Boise State for a total of 27 yards; one of the four punts will be for -17 yards after poor Burt drops the ball out of nervousness and attempts to salvage the play with his face. Michigan will win 478-0 despite Chuckberry's incompetence. "Tonight," growls manly starting quarterback Jack Kennedy, who threw for 1100 yards and 18 touchdowns against Boise State, "I will personally fix the US economy. Because Trojan stock is going through the roof. I'm bringing America back to where it should be--we're on top of the world, and Jack Kennedy is full of venereal diseases!" That night, Jack Kennedy will reinvent AIDS.
At the post-game press conference, Burt Chuckberry will be nowhere to be found, mostly because he is a punter, but also because he is terrible. "OUTRAGEOUS!" booms Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez in between large mouthfuls of sandwich. "As you all know, I only talk about guys who play for Michigan. Therefore, I will not be answering any questions about our punter today, as he was clearly playing for Heroin State University. I've already cut him. Literally. I carved my name into his flesh; he will hereafter be forever branded with the mark of RICH ROD so that all the world may know of his shitty punting."
The following Wednesday, a drunk and malodorous Burt Chuckberry will stumble into the newly-finished BooBerry Oosterbaan Olestra House for a football practice at which he is most unwelcome. As he nears his position coach, however, his mouth will slowly fall open in drunken amazement at what he sees.
A nine-foot man with a 270-pound left leg stands next to a basket of footballs. He removes one and drops it with precision upon his waiting foot. The resultant kick knocks Burt off his feet and sends the ball soaring into the air, where it catches fire. The smoldering corpse of the football lands dully 100 yards away on Tony Dews' shoulder. "Ouch," he says softly before bursting into flames himself.
"My God," Burt Chuckberry whispers aloud. The nine-foot punter turns toward Burt and smiles. "HELLO," he booms. His voice is half Barry White, half Gheorge Muresan. As he greets Burt and helps him to his feet, the giant turns his head and sees a beautiful Michigan cheerleader. He smiles. A strange look comes over her face. Nine months later, she will give birth to an 8-pound Hugh Jackman.
"Who....what are you?" gasps Burt. "MY NAME POLTAN ZESKO," booms the giant. "DO YOU SEE THIS BALL I KICK IT LEBANESE FOOD IS BEST." Before Burt can reply, Poltan laughs. "YOU POLTAN KNOWS," he shouts. "YOU KILL PRESIDENT KENNEDY GIVE HIM APE SEX PLAGUE." "I...what?" Burt asks meekly. "POLTAN SAY THIS BECAUSE YOU ARE LIKE WOMAN WHEN YOU PUNT AND JACK KENNEDY SEXES THE WOMEN. PLEASE LEAVE SO POLTAN CAN FOCUS ON BALL KICK AND WOMAN PUMPING."
Defeated and humiliated, Burt Chuckberry leaves practice, leaves Ann Arbor, and leaves the state of Michigan, never to be heard from again. 38-year-old freshman sensation Poltan Zesko will lead the nation in punting and become the first illegal immigrant to win the Ray Guy.
i think we have all been a bit spoiled over the past three years with zoltan as our punter. it seems very easy to overlook how important the position is to a teams success, and how invaluable zoltan has been for us. but to say that our current backups, who could potentially step in for mesko during the 2010 season, would be a downgrade is a rediculous understatement.
as of now i havent heard much in the way of punter recruitment. just today i saw an article on scout mentioning a MI kid named Mike Sadler, who they identified as one of the top punters in the nation. although he is entirely unrated, he does have offers from LSU and Alabama, which is enough to tell me that hes a hell of a kicker. my concern comes from the fact that he attended michigans kornblue camp yesterday, was said to have performed well, but still walked away without an offer. this is obviously a serious area of need for michigan. shouldnt we be all over this kid? hes expressed serious interest in michigan, declaring blue his "top choice right now." does anyone know if were looking at any other prospects? are we just looking to settle with a walk on? (in my opinion that would be a mistake.)
With it sounding like Fitz is going to qualify and his showing in tonight's game I still think he will need to be on the field this year if it comes down to him or V. Smith.
He is such a talent and seems like he can do it all, the announcer was comparing him to Brian Westbrook.
He has that extra gear and can dance in the phone both with the best and knock you down. I really hope he is able to show that he is one of the best RBs in his class.
I think he will be the best player in this class, yes better than Big Will and even Tate. He may not be that important at the time with the depth we have and need of a QB to run the spread, but I know he will make his mark at the Big House and move on to the NFL.
In the game, that he barely played, he had two TD's and gave a nice call out to RR and Barwis.
V. Smith looks amazing as well, but Fitz is at another level. Before the game you could see the intensity he has yelling at the players and getting hyped up like Ray Lewis.
BUT would a coach, at a position of depth, decide to red shirt a guy that he thought was more talented and play another he didn't?
You might have already seen this footage a few times before, but I find it fun to watch in this summer of relative inactivity.
I was at this game, and if you compare how Tate performed in the spring game with either of the two Qb's we trotted out there last year it's night and day. In the previous spring game there were a combination of 8 INT's, horrible completion percentage, and no down the field success. This kid hits recievers in stride, has great touch down field, and has some good wiggle moves in the open field. I also liked hearing about how RR noticed that Roy Roundtree was squinting often. He went to help him get his eyes checked, and it made all the difference. This year it seems like Roundtree could be the deep threat, Mathews is the possesion reciever, and who knows if Tay will win the slot battle.
My biggest concern for this season is still the special teams. It confuses me that we don't have a special teams coach, and if they weren't so awful at it last year I would say they have it under control. Obviously our punter is really good, but the roll out rugby style doesn't fit what Zoltan is best doing. None of our returners last year could catch a punt/kickoff. I hope they are working on that every day this summer. Odoms even dropped a punt in the spring game! Get that guy out of there! I know he returned one to the house last year, but if you fumble it half the time it's not worth it. By the end of the year last year I was screaming, "...just let it roll, and we'll take the ball where it stops.." This strategy would have won the ND game for us if you think about it.
Getting back to the topic at hand, Tate seems like a perfect fit for this offense. That side of the ball might end up being more of a passing attack this year because of his accuracy and decision making. However, our strength will be the offensive line & our senior running backs. In the beginning of the season IMO they should pound the ball and give Tate some easy reads/throws to build confidence and releive some of the pressure for him. At least his first four games are at home! Minor should have a great season, and only injuries stand in the way of 1,000 yards for him. Go Blue!!!
The Demo for NCAA 2010 dropped this morning on Xbox Live. Early review is that this looks a lot more like 09.5 then a clean new version, but hopefully the final copy will have more additions that make it worth the money. Two new features for this year that are already online are Team Builder and Season Showdown.
Team Builder is much like the standard build a school feature in past games, but the nice thing is you can build your teams online right now and then just move them to your PS3 or 360 when the game comes out. This also allows you to get real decals offline such as your high school graphics and utilize them to create a realistic field and helmet. It will be interesting to see if other ea games add this feature going forward, for example allowing you to customize your fighter online for the new Fight Night 4 coming out this month.
Season Showdown is about proving that our school (Michigan if you are reading this blog) is better than the rest. Essentially, you select one college to play in single-player Play Now, Dynasty, and online modes. You're then rewarded with credits in several different categories depending on your performance on and off the field. Already this mode is available online asking Trivia questions about college football to earn your favorite school credits.
Just a quick summary, to notify you the demo is available and some improvements available. Season Showdown appears like a cool new feature, but remains convoluted until we get to see the whole thing working together. For more info see the link below. July 14th can't get here soon enough so we can introduce electronic Tate to the world of College Sports.