This weekend is a big home weekend for many of the Michigan sports. Volleyball is hosting their first game as this diary is being posted, field hockey hosts a pair of teams, and men's soccer also plays host to a pair of opponents. Golf also opens this weekend on the road, while women's soccer and cross country also hit the road. Paul is also looking to make a few appearances to games this weekend. Hopefully we'll get another solid post from him.
- Friday 12:30p vs Fairfield,
- Friday 7:30p vs Morehead State,
- Saturday 12:30 vs VCU,
- Saturday 7:30p vs Missouri
Volleyball is hosting the Michigan Challenge this weekend (full schedule here), and there will be games starting from 10am to 7:30p both today Friday and tomorrow Saturday. Michigan faces off with the above mentioned teams, none of which are ranked.
Michigan played a bit sloppy against EMU earlier in the week, playing down to the Eagles level. Michigan did allow the subs to finally get in some quality PT during the match, and did well to fight back when behind. That said, they should never have let EMU get ahead. Photo on the right by Eastern Michigan Athletics
#26 ranking (also receiving votes section), 2-1-0 record
- Friday 7:30p vs
- Sunday 2:30p vs
Michigan soccer is also hosting an invitational this weekend. Neither opponent is expected to give Michigan many problems.
#20 ranking, 1-3 record
- Saturday 12p vs #5 Connecticut
- Sunday 1p vs Ball State
Connecticut will be a tough game for Michigan, but it is the home opener, so hopefully Michigan can use a bump from the home football crowd who may show up a bit early and give some extra home field advantage (hint hint). Connecticut is coming off a weekend where they defeated #11 Penn State in State College. They will be tough. Ball State is 2-2 with a loss to #30 Villanova.
Unranked, 3-3-0 record
- Friday 5p (ET) at Cal State-Fullerton
- Sunday 3p (ET) at Southern California
Cal State-Fullerton is winless thus far in the season (0-4) but will be an interesting road test for Michigan. USC also hasn't been that strong this season, posting a 1-3-0 record, with that one win coming over Cal State-Fullerton.
- Men's: Friday 5:30p @ State College, Pa
Michigan is sending 10 runners for the 5.2 mile race. This race is being hosted by Penn State, and the course will approximate the the Nov. 1st BigTen Conference Championship course. Picture on right by Mark Vloet, posted at MGoBlue.
- Women's: Saturday/Sunday @ East Lansing, MI
- Men's: Saturday/Sunday @ Zionsville, IN
The women are facing a par 72 and 6,237 yards on the Forest Akers West Golf Course. The match is 54 holes, 36 on day one, 18 on day two. Five players per team will play, with the lowest four scores per round counting. This will be the first tournament for Coach Cheryl Stacy, who was promoted from assistant coach to head coach this year.
- The #21 ranked men's team also faces a par 72, but at 7,465 yards at the Wolf Run Country Club. They too face 54 holes, 36 on day one and 18 on day two. Michigan has had success at Wolf Run, winning the team title last year, and having a now-alumnus medaling as an individual two years ago.
Friday 1:45p: Volleyball Won 3-0, 25-9(!), 25-17, 25-16. Subs and freshmen made it into this game as it was all Michigan, all game. Zimmerman (.727 hitting percentage! on 11 attempts) and Paz each had 8 kills to lead the team. Hunt had plenty of attempts, but just wasn't landing the points. We held Fairfield to a .066 hitting percentage, which is just absolutely ridiculous. They were definitely overmatched.
Friday 11:30p: Everything is done for the night, and the only game Michigan lost was in women's soccer. Michigan lost 0-2 to Cal State-Fullerton, but the game was closer than what it appeared. Michigan put two balls into net, one being called back by an off sides call and another by a foul call.
The game was particularly rough (21 total fouls), leading to a pair of red cards (one per team) and a pair of penalty kicks (also one per team). Amanda Bowery was the red card for Michigan, as she and a CSF player were both ejected at the same time, making me guess there was a women's soccer fight.
Men's soccer went much better with a 3-0 win over
Lipscomb Wright State. Mauro Fettuzi doubled his goal total tonight from 2 to 4 with a pair of set play goals. He converted a penalty kick and a free kick for goals. Freshman Kofi Opare had the game winner.
Men's cross country also saw a Michigan victory in less than favorable conditions of mud and wetness. Michigan came in with a final score of 25, with the next closest teams coming in at 40, 81 and 126 (just for perspective). Michigan had five players finish in the top ten, including Bobby Aprill in second place with a time of 26 minutes, 27 seconds.
Correction: I had the men's soccer schedule backwards. It has been corrected there and in the Friday 11:30p update.
Saturday 5:30p: Volleyball won 3-0 over VCU in the early afternoon. Michigan won by scores of 25-11, 25-17, and 26-24. Juliana Paz had a ridiculous 8 service aces. She and Alex Hunt shared the lead with 14 kills a piece. The VCU coach received a yellow card for being a bit too animated.
Field hockey was last seen being down 5-1 with Bryn Bain netting the only goal. Christi Barwick saw some time in goal after Paige Pickett gave up 4 goals on 4 shots on goal against in just the first 28 minutes of play. Barwick only had 2 shots on goal against her, but she also gave up a goal.
last week on these very pages, THE KNOWLEDGE predicted that M will easily beat WMU 31-17
some people emailed THE KNOWLEDGE and said there is no way M will win that easily, and some gave negative points for THE KNOWLEDGE
where are those people now?
THE KNOWLEDGE has basked in glory the last week, getting the prediction correct as usual - even down to M's exact score
this, week THE KNOWLEDGE shall predict the outcome of the ND game. THE KNOWLEDGE shall not post again in the next couple of weeks because EMU and Indiana are not worth posting about
but, THE KNOWLEDGE shall return before the MSU game
after last week's performance, THE KNOWLEDGE is somewhat worried about his original season prediction of 12-1 (with a Rose Bowl win over an overmatched USC
but, THE KNOWLEDGE shall not go back on his word
you see, THE KNOWLEDGE has more integrity in his finger nail than Rosenberg and Snyder have put together
onto this week's prediction
M will handily defeat the domers 34-21
the doubters may doubt, but after today's game
THE KNOWLEDGE shall be proven right once again
THE KNOWLEDGE shall soar and bask in glory again
In 2007 and 2008, Notre Dame played 15 of such teams and went 2-13 (13%) against them: 1-8 and 1-5 in each respective year. Contrast this with an 8-2 (80%) record against teams in the bottom third of PED. Free advice, ND: you might consider scheduling less "Club Decent" teams in the future.
Almost no victories come against "Club Decent" teams.
The Irish had 10 wins combined the last 2 seasons. In 2007, 2/3 of those wins were against bad PED teams (#32, #101, and #84), and 6/7 were last year (#112, #79, #33, #83, #115, #103, and #87). This means opponents in Irish wins in the past 2 years average out to #83 in PED -- worse than 70% of all teams.
What do you call an exception that's not really an exception?
The only wins against decent pass defenses (#32, #33) in the past two years came against two below average teams: UCLA (6-7) in 2007 and Purdue (4-8) in 2008. Due to injury, UCLA had to play a third-string freshman walk-on qb, and were also without their starting RB. The turnover differential ended up +7 for the Irish. This sounds familiar for Michigan fans. The victory against a very poor, 4-8 Purdue team was in South Bend, where the Boilermakers rarely win (1-15 in their last 16 games). The turnover differential was +1 for the Irish, with the only turnover coming as a pick 6.
What did we learn from Nevada? We don't yet know where Nevada will stack up in PED for 2009, but we do know that last year they were #85, and an oft-cited #119/119 in pass defense, crushing #118 by 25 yards/game. I wouldn't expect that unit sans 1 free safety to be much better. Statistically, even the 3-9 2007 team would very likely have beaten Nevada.
Will Notre Dame break the trend this year and be able to beat "Club Decent" teams? I'm not sure how optimistic I would be as an Irish fan. While 2008 seemed to be an improvement over 2007, how much of that was the schedule? Their record was no better against the "Club"; they simply played fewer teams. 3 wins (2007) - 4 "Club Decent" opponents = 7 wins (2008). Yes, they have another year of experience, and Jon Tenuta is calling the shots on D now, but is that enough to significantly buck a trend that went seemingly unchanged from year 1 to year 2?
Is Michigan a "Club Decent" team this year?
Michigan was a poor PED team (#79) last year, suggesting that ND would beat them -- and they did. Is there reason to believe the Wolverines will change that this year, thus suggesting a different result? There are many positive signs. New DC Greg Robinson has brought a new, attacking defensive scheme, which is designed to put constant pressure on the QB. This was very effective against a large (very similar in size to ND), veteran line for WMU. Stevie Brown's move to SLB should also help, bringing his speed and athleticism up in pass coverage instead of a larger, slower LB attempting to guard receivers in space.
Tim and Brian, I think we can finally put this name issue to rest. His name is Conelius (no "r"). It's that way under his profile in the Spartan High program and the home announcer (who has no southern accent) says Conelius. I think that's as good as we're going to get until he signs a LOI or someone actually asks him. I'll be glad to scan and send his profile to either (or both) of you, if you aren't willing to just take my word for it, if you can get me your email address. I'd post it as an attachment/image here, but I don't have a scanner at home and I wanted to get this update posted. Also, MGoObes, you owe me an apology for what you said during my week one Jones update. It's not just because I live in the south that I hear Conelius; it's because it's his friggin' name. Just because I live in the south doesn't mean we are all hillbilly's who talk with the stereotypical southern drawl. What you said was just ignorant.
A comment about last week's game:
Sorry, I missed it. I was up north for the holiday weekend. They won. Tim posted some comments on it with links to local news stories here: http://mgoblog.com/content/friday-night-lights-2009-9-8#comments.
Bad officiating and bad coaching equals handing a victory to the jaws of defeat. Spartan High should have won this game. It was 7-7 at the half and Spartanburg actually lead 14-7 through the third quarter. Then it went all down hill from there. Two horribly blown calls lead to two Sumter scores as the defense seemed to totally lose focus and that was pretty much all she wrote, despite a pretty good night from Conelius Jones. The bad coaching comes in from allowing the lack of discipline to occur, but also some extremely questionable play-calling. Someone needs to really tell this coach what is blatantly obvious: Conelius Jones is a much better passer than the play-calling gives him credit for. Designed runs on second and third and long completely disrespects this kid's ability. Oh yeah, the game... Sumter 34, Spartanburg 21. The end.
Conelius Jones continues to impress me with his arm, decision-making, and excellent play-action skills. As I've said consistently now, Jones is not all that fast (he's not slow, but he's more quick and shifty than fast), but what has become obvious is that this kid really has the potential to develop as a passer. He shows good presence in the pocket and makes good decisions with where to go with the ball (usually). However, he does tend to bail out and run sooner than he should sometimes, which indicates that he's not processing multiple reads consistently. I'm pretty sure this is normal for quarterbacks who are known to be more mobile, at least at this point in their career. His arm strength continues to impress as does his accuracy. His two interceptions weren't indicative of accuracy issues. The first one was a good play by the corner on a slightly under thrown ball and the second one appeared to be a case where he just didn't see the defender. Interestingly, both picks came at the goal line. The first one was at a rather key time (it would have tied the game at 28 in the 4th quarter, but the second one really wasn't (it was 34-21 Sumter with about 30 seconds left in the game). These were his first two interceptions of the season, so I'm not really thinking there's much to take away from it other than interceptions happen sometimes. He also seemed to hold onto the ball a little two long even when he hung in the pocket (as evidenced by his 3 sacks). I'll keep this on the list to re-evaluate in future games. Overall, Jones was very effective through the air and put up his highest passing yard total of the season. In fact, he's increased his yardage each week this season. He was also effective on the ground putting up his highest rushing yardage total of the season. My favorite Jones play of the game also happened to come on the ground when on 4th and 7 in the 4th quarter he absolutely trucked a Sumter defender at the sticks to get the first down to keep a drive alive that resulted in a touchdown with about 4 minutes left to cut the deficit to 7 points. Unfortunately the defense couldn't stop Sumter on their next possession (see aforementioned defensive meltdown), so it was ultimately for naught. Jones put up about 70 yards on the ground (72 by my count, but I'll wait until the official numbers tomorrow) which is pretty impressive considering that Sumter played almost the entire first quarter with all eleven guys within 8 yards of the line of scrimmage. This changed when Jones torched them through the air on their third possession (5 for 5, 53 yards, TD (19 yards)). It was obvious that they decided to dare Jones to pass. He did. They paid for it. After that they played it much more traditionally. The one thing that I can say is that Jones isn't putting up his passing numbers by big plays. Rather, he's been very effective at making good decisions and finding receivers on underneath or quick routes and putting the ball in the right place at the right time. All-in-all a good personal performance by Jones, but unfortunately it was not a total team effort tonight.
(1) Started at own 29 / punt / rush: 4 (15 yards)
(2) Started at own 35 / punt / pass: 0-1
(3) Started at own 32 / TD / rush: 4 (4 yards) / pass: 5/5 (53 yards), TD (19 yards)
(4) Started at own 34 / punt / pass: 1/2 (14 yards)
(5) Started at own 47 / punt / pass: 0/1 / sack: 2 (-13 yards)
(6) Started at own 31 / punt / rush: 3 (15 yards) / pass: 2/2 (5 yards)
(7) Started at own 28 / punt / rush: 3 (22 yards)
(8) Started at own 31 / INT / rush: 2 (-6 yards) / pass: 2/3 (52 yards), INT
(9) Started at own 35 / TD / rush: 3 (16 yards), TD / pass: 5/8 (41 yards)
(10) Started at own 48 / INT / rush: 1 (12 yards / pass: 2/5 (22 yards), INT / sack: 1 (-2 yards)
Passing: 17/27, 187 yards, TD, 2 INT
Rushing: 20 carries, 72 yards, TD
Sacks: 3, -15 yards
Note - obviously these are not official stats, but should be in the ballpark
The following are the comments that I wrote down throughout the game:
- Name is Conelius in the program and as pronounced by the PA announcer
- Lofted two short passes - kind of scary
- Bootleg with nice touch and accuracy under pressure
- 11 in box - dare to pass
- Nice accuracy on 17 yard TD pass / nice loft
- Excellent play action fakes (this will be key for running Michigan's offense)
- Nice placement on pass to flat to running back
- Took big hit on run and sprung right back up quickly
- DB undercut ball on INT at goal line
- More athletic and shifty than fast
- Long on deep flag
- 7 yard 4th down fist down - trucked defender for first down
- Really seems to make good decisions despite terrible play-calling
Questions asked last time:
David - What were your impressions on his running ability? Can he be effective carrying the ball 15+ times a game?
Shouldn't be a problem. He carried 20 times tonight and showed very little fatigue (i.e. just as effective later in the game). Took some big hits, but took them well. Even gave a couple good shots to would be defenders. He's not a small guy.
MGoObes - a solution for the name thing. his nickname is trill, perhaps we can use that in quotation marks until the home opener? just throwing that out there
Unable to verify the nickname, but his real name has been verified.
Spartan High hosts Greenwood High. I should be there, but we also close on our house that day, so there's an outside chance that I won't be there. Greenwood is 2-1 after getting thumped by Dorman tonight 35-14. Greenwood is regarded as a tough opponent, so it should be a good test.
Again, as always, if anyone has any questions I will obviously be glad to try to answer them to the best of my ability. Also, if anyone has anything they would like for me to evaluate in the coming weeks please let me know and I will add them to my list.
When I see tomorrow's college football schedule as it pertains to the Big 10 conference, I cant help but flashback to the second week of the 2005 season. That might have been the last time the conference was given any street cred by the college football fashionistas. Recall, the league had three teams--Ohio State, Michigan and Iowa--all ranked in the top 10, and, if you can believe it, there were many whispers that the Big 10 was biggest and baddest group in the land. That day all three heavyweights faced critical tests against brand names and bigtime rivals.
It was supposed to be a day of statements for the Big 10. Instead, the league spent the day telling everyone that the preseason hype was as fake as a Lou Holtz pep talk. Third-ranked Michigan listed their way through their match with Notre Dame, stumbling around like a Dave Wannstedt coached team in the red zone in a 17-10 loss. Iowa netted just a field goal in a 20-point beatdown in Ames against Iowa State. And, Ohio State, at home, did not have the fourth quarter chops to beat Texas, in a ballyhooed showdown that seemed to have had about ten times more the offseason hype than tomorrow's game with the Trojans does. The day began with the Big 10 owning the college football world. By the end, the Emperor had no clothes and the league proved itself a fraud, nothing more than a summer preview magazine creation.
The league has not been the same since. And, rather than securing its footing in the college football world, the conference has seen its stock continue to plummet since that late summer day of football four years ago. Sure, Michigan and Ohio State teased us with thrilling 2006 seasons leading to a #1 vs #2 matchup in The Game, but both teams were steamrolled in their BCS Bowl games, again bringing out the cries of fraud and mockery. We know whats happened since. Just about every outcome of the last two football seasons has further buried midwestern college football.
Michigan losses to an FCS school and then has their worst season in decades the following year. Ohio State keeps getting pantsed on the biggest stage. Iowa loses it mojo. Wisconsin hires Brett Bielema. Purdue's basketball on grass is figured out over night. Minnesota is no longer a darkhorse team with a stable of NFL ready tailbacks. Penn State has has been resurgent during this time, but they dont have a single OOC win that resonates among the masses and were completely outclassed in last season's Rose Bowl by USC. Michigan State has had two nice seasons in a row, but have lost to ACC and SEC teams in bowl games, looking like a stodgy, archaic Big 10 in the process. I think you get the picture.
I bring this up because this weekend's slate looks strikingling similar to that 2005 docket. Not only are the rivalries between Iowa and Iowa State and Michigan and Notre Dame renewed, but the Buckeyes are hosting a premier team, this time USC, under the lights at the Shoe. Unlike 2005, there are several other games on the docket important to the Big 10. Four years ago, the Big 10 was the top dog heading into a showdown weekend. Today, they're a weak link in a strong college football landscape. Saturday, the Big 10 has a chance to take a big step up the ladder in the climb back to respectively. If things break right, the Sunday morning storyline could be about a Big 10 Renaissance. Of course, league teams could again take the gas pipe, the conference will continue to take public perception hits and there will be viable discussion about the Mountain West Conference surpassing it.
Which way will it go? 50/50. I do hope, however, that the alley cat return of Big 10 picks is better than a 50/50 proposition.
First, two caveats: I am not playing all these games. If you'd like to see my card for the day, stroll over to the JCB as I'll have the card up by 9 tomorrow morning. And, as always, blindly following my picks can be hazardous to your wallet. Here goes:
Iowa State +7 vs Iowa (noon, FSN) Ames has become Waterloo for the Iowa Hawkeyes with the with four losses in five game at ISU, avering just 16 points per game in those contests and topping the 14-point mark just once. Iowa did not look good in last week's near miss against Northern Iowa. The culprit, as I saw it, was an offensive line, expected to be a major strength, that played poorly. Combined with the Hawks lack of a big time tailback the running game, this led to enough choppy offensive football to allow the Panthers to hang around. The line has been wrecked by injuries and suspension, but some of that was supposed to get ironed out this week. Think again. The news got worse for the Hawks up front with the announcement that Bryan Bugala has been felled with an illness and has been ruled out tomorrow. The prospects of more offensive line shuffling do not sound good. The Hawks are going to be what we saw last weekend all season until they get things ironed out up front. Also: the Cyclones are 10-1 ATS in this series. I have to ride those numbers.
Central Michigan +14.5 at Michigan State (noon BTN). This is not so much a pick against MSU as it is a pick on CMU. I have believed in this CHIPS! team for the last several years. And while they excell much better against the number in league games, than when they step out of conference, I like their chances of hanging with their, uh, big brother in East Lansing. I was impressed with CMU's defensive effort next week. When they have the ball, Central will face an easier defense in the Spartans than they did with Arizona last week. I dont think the Spartans lose, but I'll take CMU and LeFevour catching a two TD head start against most of the Big 10.
Fresno State +8 at Wisconsin (noon ESPN). The Great Fu Manchu arrives in Madison for another stop on his 'anyone, anytime, anywhere' tour. You cant say Fresno State is not afraid of challenges and September college football this decade has been marked in part by Pat Hill's Bulldogs taking on and scaring the hives out of bigger named foes. I am not sold on what Wisconsin is doing with their lineup right now. I cant shake the feeling that Bielema would have been better off going with Curt Phillips at QB. It took half a season for him to realize who his best QB was last year, and it looks like the same thing might happen this year. And, I know limiting Jon Clay's touches by making him second string means you're putting a less talented team on the field. I am fascinated to see how these decisions play out tomorrow against a real live team thats going to come at them with as much speed and talent as they have. Here is the killer number to keep in mind: In his Fresno State career, Pat Hill is 20-6-1 ATS as underdogs against BCS conference foes.
Michigan +3 at Notre Dame (3:30 ABC). The underdog in this series is 20-5 ATS. I'm interested and I'm already in. The dog is also 12-12-1 straight up, so the history in this series says the team catching points is as likely to win the game as the favorite. Speaking of the Wolverines, I dont think any other team in the country saw odds shift as much in their favor based on opening week. Consider the line movements trending towards the Wolverines in their games later this year against Illinois and Ohio State. Michigan was catching a full touchdown against both teams, but the impressive Michigan win and poor performances by the Illini and the Bucks caused a significant line drop. Michigan is just +3 at Illinois and +4 against Ohio State as of this morning. If they put another good performance in the books tomorrow, I wonder if those lines will move again?
Northwestern -21 vs Eastern Michigan (noon BTN). Obviously Ron Jonathon English will have his team looking ahead to his return next week to Michigan Stadium. More than likely, its Northwestern's defense, which you can make a case is one of the top three in the Big 10, will shut the Eagles down cold. They could barely score against Army. They wont reach double digits against the Cats as Northwestern rolls to its largest margin of victory of the season. We've proved that English's defenses struggle against mobile QBs, right? Kafka for NW is going to have a big day running the QB keepers.
Minnesota -3 over Air Force (7:00, BTN). I expect the Gophers to come out on fire in the opener for their brand new stadium. I like the overall talent Minnesota has in spots of its roster. I just wish Tim Brewster was known more for his coaching than tweeting. Dont look to much into the Gophers struggles against the Cuse. At least they won. But past bowl teams from West Virginia and Virginia have struggled in recent season openers at the Carrier Dome against eventually awful Orange teams and still had enough to rally for good seasons. Its a tricky place to play, especially early in the year when the Orange haven ot been totally demoralized by a long losing streak. This game will be close and entertaining, but I like the Gophers to win by at least a touchdown. Expect this game to be turned by the opportunistic Gopher defense creating a pair of momentum changing turnovers.
Penn State -28 over Syracuse (noon, BTN). Big step up for Syracuse in their second game. Playing at home against Minnesota is the opposite of playing Joe Pa's boys in Happy Valley. Greg Paulus will learn that tomorrow. There is a chance he can exploit the green PSU secondary, but I dont think he'll have any time to set up back in the pocket. Sometime in the third quarter, he will be planted by Navarro Bowman and come up begging for a charging call. Last week against the Zips, the Lions closed it down at the half. I expect them to jump out to another big early lead, but in the Game Two, Paterno will let them stretch their legs more in the second half. This will be a rout. Penn State is 14-9 ATS as a home favorite, 8-3 against non conference foes. They didn't cover in either role last week. Its called playing the percentages, Strawberry.
Indiana -1 over Western Michigan (noon, BTN). Here it is, the one time of the year I blindly take my Alma Mater without putting any thought into it. Neither club looked great last week. While WMU QB Tim Hiller wont be facing the speed and athletes he saw last week in Ann Arbor, the Hoosiers do bring a good pash rush and enough secondary playmakers to give Hiller and the Broncos the same type of fits. I also think this Pistol offense will break out a bit more in their second go around of the season. Dont you have to take the Big 10 team at home against a MAC team in a pick 'em game? Thats what I keep telling myself, anyway.
Purdue +13 over Oregon (10:15 FSN). I'm not sure the Ducks have the defense, especially in the back four, to trust laying a baker's dozen of points in chalk to anyone. And this anyone is the Boilermakers, who looked very good on offense last week and played the Ducks into overtime one year ago. I think some of that momentum can carry over. I'd think about the Over in this one, that is if I hadnt sworn off totals in the offseason. Want proof that I find a stat anywhere to support my play? The Ducks are 1-5 ATS as home favorites against a team playing with revenge of a straight up, against the spread win. Want proof that I can torpedo any stat the goes against my play? Even though Oregon has covered their last four home openers, the last time they didn't is when a second rate Big 1o came to town and the Ducks slept walked through the whole affair. That was in 2004 when Indiana remarkably took the Ducks down 30-24. And if you guessed that I only brought that up to highlight one of the five great moments of IU football in the last 20 years in a paragraph about Purdue, then what can I say? You know me well.
USC -7 over Ohio State (8:00, ESPN). I honestly cant believe I am not taking Ohio State in their own house with a touchdown headstart. In fact, I'm not. I am hiding this pick within the prose in hopes those goons I hired to beat me down if I ever picked against USC dont see it. Barkley will struggle on this stage and I think a strong possiblity exists that this game plays out a bit like the 2006 Texas game when the Bucks, on the road, stymied redshirt freshmen Colt McCoy in his first big game start. Here's why I am taking this chance: The line was -3 all summer, but leapt to -7 when it re-opened Sunday, in large part because of public reaction to Ohio State's close call against Navy. When it comes to football games, I just dont trust the volatile sways of the public opinion. Not even when it looks obvious. Or when the hired muscle men are wearing brass knuckles. But make no mistake: I'm not putting a single dollar or cent on it.
…or, A Call to Arms for All Chicagoland U-M Alumni (and Fans)
[Warning: this is long. But adequately documenting a gross injustice is rarely trivial. It’s also intended to be somewhat amusing (and dry, and perhaps even infuriating), so please consume appropriately.]
With all of the ND-bashing going on around here, there may never be a better opportunity to pile on with my own ND-related gripe (strike while the iron is hot, and all). And who knows, maybe this could be the start of a glorious grassroots effort by Chicagoland-based MGoBlogFaithful to right yet another ND-inspired wrong (one can dream). As if the NBC contract weren’t insulting enough. Read on.
I lived in MD for 12 years, where the DC chapter of the U-M Alumni Club has smartly taken the opportunity to have U-M alumni specialty license plates fashioned for MD (and I believe they were attempting to do the same for VA). This is clearly allowed under MD Motor Vehicle Administration policy (pretty much any school can do it), and I was thrilled to have such a plate for six years.
Upon moving to IL and faced with the prospect of new plates, I naturally wanted to know if a U-M alumni plate was available. Chicago is closer in proximity to U-M than MD (and has a large/established alumni chapter and base) and I’d seen a number of Fighting Illini plates around (among others), so I figured my chances were good.
If only it were that simple.
My initial visit to the Secretary of State’s website made it apparent that collegiate specialty plates available in IL were limited to state institutions. At the time (April 2008), all of the plates on the page were in-state schools. I was bummed, but all was not lost. If there was a policy/law that provided for the creation of collegiate plates, due diligence would require verification that it specifically excludes out-state schools. So I continued my research.
Before locating the state law that provides for the creation of collegiate plates, I discovered that ND (in South Bend, IN, for the geographically disinclined) had very recently been approved for collegiate plates in IL. This was an encouraging sign! Perhaps ND was blazing a trail that U-M could follow, being the first out-state schools to have collegiate plates in IL. I was invigorated! And there was NO way that ND was going to be the only out-state school to have a collegiate plate! They’re only the second winningest football program!
Sec. 3-629(b) of Illinois General Assembly Public Act 095-0444 states:
The design, color, and format of the plates shall be wholly within the discretion of the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State may, at his or her discretion, issue the plates for any public college or university located in this State or for any degree-granting, not-for-profit private college or university located in this State or a contiguous state. If the college or university is located in a contiguous state, there must be not less than 10,000 alumni of the college or university residing in this State.
I call your attention to the underlined passages – underlined in the Act itself – which signify changes that were adopted in August 2007. Prior to the revision, the law only allowed plates for in-state public or private institutions. But the revision effectively allows plates for…we’ll get to that in a minute.
Problem is, I got excited, went off half-cocked, and overlooked the “private” criterion. Does U-M have 10,000 alumni in the state? Easily (confirmed by the Alumni Association). Is U-M located in a contiguous state? That begs some interpretation. Definition? Definition:
1. touching; in contact.
2. in close proximity without actually touching; near.
Michigan doesn’t meet #1, but certainly meets #2. I initially argued that the two states are separated only by a useless swath of IN (“Da Region!") and are therefore “near.” But a friend noted that the two states are only separated by a lake, necessitating a border. I was concerned about bureaucratic resistance to this interpretation, so I e-mailed and called the SoS to discuss. After checking with the legal-types in his department, the polite gentleman from the plate division still wasn’t sure how that would go. Then he dropped the bombshell (paraquote):
“This is known [around here] as the ‘Notre Dame law.’”
Excuse me? Shock turned to confusion, which later yielded to outrage. I wish I could tell you that my first thought was, “our politicians don’t have more important matters to attend to?” Sadly, that didn’t arrive until later.
The nice gentleman proceeded to explain how the law was effectively amended for the sole purpose of allowing ND to be the only out-state school to have a collegiate license plate in IL. Re-reading the law, the critical placement of “private” then became clear to me.
Who, as I understand it, pushed the law through the state legislature? None other than the Speaker of the Illinois House, Michael J. Madigan, an esteemed graduate of the University of Notre Dame.
(I would say that now I’ve seen it all, but that would be patently untrue.)
I was dejected, but I refused to be defeated so easily and in such an underhanded fashion. Since that time, I’ve scoured the IL General Assembly website (on three occaions) to identify State Senators and Representatives who are graduates of our beloved U-M, in hopes that a modest letter-writing campaign would persuade them to eventually pursue a similarly covert change to the law that would open a loophole for a U-M alumni plate. I can’t say that such a change wouldn’t open the door for other out-state schools, but the 10,000-resident alumni requirement should effectively limit them to a handful, at most (and likely Big Ten schools).
So I floated this crusade-like idea, without as much detail or direction, to the Chicago alumni chapter leadership, and the response was "Good luck, let us know how it goes!" Needless to say, one letter isn't likely to have much effect.
Friends, I haven’t yet continued the fight, but I haven’t given up hope. Perhaps my account of this injustice, along with the renewed interest in a nationally-relevant UM-ND rivalry, will serve as a call to action for my fellow IL-based alumni. If you feel so inclined (and can envision the pride-swell of having your own U-M license plate), please consider writing a letter to one or both of the following “Blue” state reps, encouraging them to consider introducing legislation to appropriately modify Public Act 095-0444 and allow for a U-M collegiate license plate:
(I would encourage non-Illinoisians (?) to write, but I suspect letters from non-residents don’t carry as much weight with legislators.)
Other suggestions are, of course, welcomed.
(And please, spare me any pessimistic, douchey “you’re silly if you think this’ll really work, like an e-mail petition to get Rosenberg fired” comments. I say to that: The Speaker of the Illinois House didn’t think it was all that silly. Nevertheless, I’m realistic about the prospect of success.)
Go Blue! Crush the Irish!