I spoke with Travis Hawkins last night, and got him to tell me it was down to Penn State, Oregon, and Maryland. Further looks say it was really down to Oregon and Maryland. He chose to stay home. If you read my interview, he said his Mom really wanted him to stay home, and he listened. He also said he wants Jason Ankrah to go where he does, so keep an eye on him as well. In my opinion, I think the distance was the ultimate factor. He really seems to be attached to his family and community, and in the end, that might have been the deciding factor. Although he said he wanted to set up a visit to Penn State, it never happened. I'm still not sure if Jason Ankrah will end up there either, because I think it would've already happened. With his teammate now heading to Maryland, it could be a possibility that they land him. Either way, I think Michigan is out of the picture for him as well. With the addition of the "book end" defensive ends we already have, I'm not too worried. If we've all learned anything through out this, it's that anything can happen. We'll find out more as the day goes on, and I will keep you updated.
Tom VanHaaren interviews FL S Vlad Emilien, who visited last weekend.
We're starting to get down to crunch time with the recruiting process, and Michigan has a need at safety. Vlad Emilien is a hard hitting safety from, you guessed it, Florida. There's been a lot of hype about the 6' 1" safety despite a torn his ACL. The injury might have sidelined him for this season, but it hasn't changed his goal of playing for a big time college program.
TOM:How was your trip to Michigan this weekend?
VLAD: It was pretty good, I really enjoyed it. Everybody asked how I compared it to Wisconsin, and I like Wisconsin and Michigan the same. I try to put pros and cons about each of them, and there’s no leader yet. Both schools have strong coach to player relationships, which is what I really like.
TOM:Who was your player host? Did you get along with him?
VLAD:Brandon Smith and Kenny Demens. They’re good freshman, we got along real well. They’re young, and they were telling me how competitive it really is. Everybody gets a chance to play, no matter how old.
TOM:Do you have a top 3?
VLAD:If I had to name a leader today it’s Wisconsin and Michigan.
TOM:What do you think will be the deciding factor?
VLAD:Just how the school is academic wise, and atmosphere wise. How I feel around the team and players. I like the little details of the schools. I’m trying to look at the things that would be beneficial after 4 years.
TOM: I read that you have a 3.8 GPA, so academics must be important to you. How will that play in?
VLAD: Yea I’ve been weighing the pros and cons again. Michigan has a very good business school, and Wisconsin has a good school too. Those schools ranked very high in the country. It hasn’t been hard in that aspect, because either way I’ll have a good degree from a good school.
TOM:On your visit, did the coaches talk about early playing time? Is that important to you?
VLAD:It’s very important. I’m always going to have to battle, I love competition. But I like that there’s a better opportunity to play early and battle out freshman rather than juniors or seniors at Michigan. I’m going to be pretty smart about the depth charts and deciding.
TOM:How many more visits are you planning?
VLAD:I plan to visit Stanford November 16th, and I’m still scheduling the Ohio State vs. Michigan Game, I still haven’t officially done it yet.
TOM:What happened with Ohio State? Does it bother you?
VLAD:They just started talking to me the last couple months. There was a misunderstanding with the recruiting. They were trying to take in two safeties, because of a mishap with one of their safeties. I’m very interested. I felt kind of like I was the second choice, but business is business. I would love a chance to go that school. It just didn’t happen the way I wanted to happen, I just have to move on from that.
TOM:When do you think you’ll make your decision public?
VLAD:I’m going to make it public November 23rd. I’m not sure where yet.
TOM:Wherever you go, do you plan on graduating early?
VLAD:Yes I do. I want to get to college as soon as possible.
TOM:You missed this year with a torn ACL, are you excited to get back out there? Have any of the schools shown concern about the injury?
VLAD:I’m just training right now. It’s very exciting, the thought of getting back out there. I didn’t have a chance to prove to these colleges and recruiting sites that I should have been an all American. They’re not concerned, because I’m going to play spring ball, and I’m very anxious to get out there.
TOM:So what are your strengths, and what are your weaknesses?
VLAD:My personality is a strength. I am like an extra coach on the field, very vocal, and try to be a leader.One of my weaknesses is I’ve been working on my tackling, and getting my technique better. I want to be more of a dynamic player. I still have a lot to learn. When I learn what’s needed for college, I’ll be an explosive player. I want to learn as much as I can right away.
TOM:Have you analyzed what defense you think you would fit into the best?
VLAD:I focus on everything; I like a two back safety type of defense. I can play anything as long as they let me roam, and just make plays.
TOM:Was there a dream school growing up that you always wanted to go to?
VLAD:University of Miami. As I got older I realized that’s not going to be the right place. I didn’t even really have a dream school that much; I just focused on doing the best I can, so everybody considered me the best.
TOM:Now that you’ve had the chance to see all these schools recruiting you, how do you make sure you make the right decision?
VLAD:I feel like I’m going to follow my gut. This is a very important decision, it’s my future. I’m looking at what school will help me be the kind of person I want to be. A lot of the schools offer the same thing, so I’m trying to weigh the options.
TOM:Was there one thing about any school that has really stuck out to you? Something that you still think about?
VLAD:There are a lot of similarities, both Michigan and Wisconsin coaches treat their players like their sons. I think that’s what stuck out the most, I really like that.
Few sports fans would argue that we needed yet another book about
the "Ten Year War" - the intense rivalry between the University of
Michigan and Ohio State football teams and their iconic coaches Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler. The subject has been covered voluminously in books, magazines, newspapers, and videos (I have reviewed a few myself).
So I have to credit Michael Rosenberg for coming up with a new angle to approach this classic subject. His book, War As They Knew It: Woody Hayes, Bo Schembechler, and America in a Time of Unrest,
uses the backdrop of the protest movement in the era of Vietnam and
Watergate to situate this sports rivalry within the culture and history
of the time.
This allows him to portray the players and coaches as human beings
with opinions and emotions beyond the football field while reminding
the reader that the university, and the surrounding community,
obviously had to deal with a lot more than just the success of the
But while this background is interesting - the different levels of
political agitation on the Ohio State versus Michigan campus for
example - what really makes the book shine is Rosenberg's portrait of
By placing Hayes in this historical context and by connecting his
work as a coach with his unique personality and background - his
inspirations, dreams and deep seated beliefs - Rosenberg captures Hayes
as a multidimensional person rather than simply as an icon or
Rosenberg highlights two figures, among others, who made an impact on Hayes life: General George S. Patton and Ralph Waldo Emerson.
And at key moments in the story we see how these influences made Hayes
the man he was. Military history and tactics were never far from
Woody's mind and he regularly used the language of war to describe
football. This is interesting but not shocking or hard to understand.
But Rosenberg's use of Emerson quotes to flush out why Hayes might
have acted the way he did or had the attitude he did jump out at the
reader. It is hard to believe that a Transcendentalist poet/essayist
would best capture the mindset of the famous coach but Rosenberg makes
a strong case that this is one of the most effective windows into
understanding Hayes' life.
Rosenberg also helps show how Hayes was a traditionalist in an age
of upheaval and conflict. He frequently visited the troops in Vietnam
and supported the war until the bitter end. He became friends with
Richard Nixon and was upset when the president resigned; l seeing that
act as cowardice in the face of your enemies.
Of course Hayes is most known for his temper on and off the football
field. Rosenberg discusses the theatrical nature of his temper when
trying to reach his team - and how this seemed to decrease in
usefulness over time. He also makes note of the role diabetes may have
played in his temper; including the actions that led to his being fired.
Hayes, however, always saw himself as a teacher. He was deeply read
in history (particularly military history) and was engaged with
politics and current events. Even in the era of student protests and
anti-war demonstrations he continued to reach out to young people and
he was always ready to decry what he saw as an assault on the
traditional values that made America great. Hayes may have been
increasingly at odds with the spirit of his age but he never stopped
wrestling with it and attempting to make an impact. His competitive
drive and energy drove him to never quit trying.
Hayes was clearly an incredibly unique individual who burst onto the
college football scene and left an indelible imprint. But he was also
a product of his time and time eventually passed him by; or caught up
with him depending on your perspective. There seem to be some
parallels with his friend Richard Nixon in this. Both men built
impressive careers before being brought down by poor judgment. And
both men attempted to live out the remainder of their lives so as to
not be defined by those infamous acts; with mixed success.
Rosenberg covers the other side of the field as well, but Bo
Schembechler doesn't stand out quite like Hayes. The iconic Bo really
develops after this "Ten Year War" period. Sure, the personality is
there but it doesn't quite blossom until after Hayes recedes. But this
history is a neccesary foundation for understanding the events that
were to come.
The other character who stands out in the book is Michigan athletic
director Dan Canham. Canham was a critical figure in the development
of modern college sports and in many ways made Michigan football the
marketing giant that it is. It seems off that this influential figure
is not better known outside of sports historians.
War As They Knew It is much more than a sports book. Sure,
it is a fascinating story about one of college football's greatest
rivalries and the coaches who put it on the map. But it is also a
valuable look into the time period through the lens of college
athletics. You don't have to be a fan of Michigan or Ohio state
football to enjoy the story because the characters and events involved
Of course, if you are a fan of either program and their legendary
coaches this is a must read. And really anyone interested in the
history and development of college football would do well to check it
out. You will come away with a better understanding of how the schools
became the dominant programs in the conference and even the nation at
times. And you will understand better the men behind these programs as
they faced each other in intense competition on the field and dealt
with the tumultuous times outside the stadium and practice field
This season has been hard. Most reasonable people expected struggles. New system, few returning offensive starters--all the usual (and valid) reasons have been listed. I think, however, few expected it to be this bad. And even if you did, the despair of actually witnessing the end of so many streaks-bowls, winning seasons, MAC domination, etc. has been painful. So as you leave the stadium Saturday or disgustedly turn off your TV, try not to feel too sorry for yourself. You will be surrounded by your loved ones today. You will sleep in your own bed. You may be blue for the next few days, but your life will return to normal. But if you do find the malaise too much to bear, snap out of it. You have it easy. Think about Paul.
Paul Bunyan has been with us since Spartan Bob fell asleep at the clock. In fact, Ann Arbor is his home. He likes it here. Except for an occasional short stay in (shudder) East Lansing, he has a pretty good life. He likes political discourse. He enjoys trips to the museum. He's not comfortable ending his sentences with "Brah".
Imagine his first terrifying moments. "What? I have to leave? Go with who--them?" Remember the gut wrenching scene from Kramer vs. Kramer? At least that was the kid's mom. His little wooden fingernails could not claw hard enough. "Wait, I've got an axe!"--useless. I can see him staring helplessly like that little boy being driven away by pedophiles in Mystic River. Packed up and carted away by mouth breathing barbarians with lower SAT scores than his old illiterate buddy, Pecos Bill.
Think of the first night. Imagine The Shawshank Redemption except with more sodomy. The tribal tattoos. The acrid smell of burning couches. His self loathing over his wooden arousal at being stroked by skanky, beer swilling harlots who managed to cobble together enough sentences on their admission applications to avoid LCC. Would he ever be able to look at a beer commercial again without a flashback? "My God, is that a mullet? What IS a Brah? Are they going to watch 300 again?"
He tries to turn his thoughts elsewhere, but this only makes matters worse. He thinks of his old pal, Babe. But the blue ox is over at the vet school. From 9-5 she undergoes painful, Mengele-esque experiments in which the researchers search for answers already discovered at places like Iowa and Indiana decades ago. At night, she endures unspeakable violations by drunken Spartans who are too hideous to even coax an MSU coed into bed. Can an ox have a pretty mouth?
So quit feeling sorry for yourself. Paul and Babe have to endure this horror for a year. Support RR. Get behind the team. Muster the resolve of Mel Gibson in Ransom--"Give me back my Bunyan!" Next year we must bring him home and keep him here. I only hope he can forgive us.
So, I was confused as the rest of you when Brandon Minor's apparently incomplete pass was ruled a Touchdown after a video review. I bought the ESPN commentary during the play, but thought I'd look into it more. The article mentioned by Bryan does look at the Rule Book, but only at one part. I decided to kill way to much time and read the whole thing.
I'll start with my conclusion, to spare you the reading: Minor's catch was in fact a Touchdown. Now, to the evidence.
We start with the basics (all quotes are from the NCAA Rulebook, downloadable in PDF here http://www.ncaa.org/wps/ncaa?ContentID=387):
"Field of Play
ARTICLE 2. The field of play is the area within the boundary lines other
than the end zones.
ARTICLE 3. The end zones are the 10-yard areas at both ends of the field
between the end lines and the goal lines. The goal lines and goal line pylons
are in the end zone, and a team’s end zone is the one it is defending (A.R.
8-5-1-X and A.R. 8-6-1-I)."
Based on this rather simple explanation, we come to the understanding that the End Zones are special areas on the Field considered separate from the rest of the Field of Play. Additionally, the pylons on the goal lines are in the end zone.
Now, let's take a look at passing:
"ARTICLE 6. Any forward pass is completed when caught by a player of the
passing team who is inbounds, and the ball continues in play unless completed
in the opponent’s end zone or the pass has been caught simultaneously
by opposing players. If a forward pass is caught simultaneously by opposing
players inbounds, the ball becomes dead and belongs to the passing team (Rule
2-2-7) (A.R. 2-2-7-III and A.R. 7-3-6-I-IX)."
This rule specifically makes a difference between catches in the end zone and catches in the rest of the field of play. Minor was inbounds when he caught the ball, having left the ground from the Field of Play; when he landed out of bounds, the play was already over, because he touched the end zone first.
"ARTICLE 7. a. Any forward pass is incomplete if the ball is out of bounds by
rule or if it touches the ground when not firmly controlled by a player. It also is
incomplete when a player leaves his feet and receives the pass but first lands on
or outside a boundary line, unless his progress has been stopped in the field of
play or end zone (Rule 4-1-3-p) (A.R. 2-2-7-III and A.R. 7-3-7-I)."
Further evidence: the ball was firmly in control by Brandon Minor; his progress was stopped when he hit the goal line pylon; the goal line pylon is considered part of the end zone. Thusly, Brandon Minor scored a Touchdown to confuse us all.
This makes sense, right?
Thomas VanHaaren interviews MD CB Travis Hawkins.
One of the top cornerback recruits on Michigan's board is Travis Hawkins. Travis is 5' 11" 180 pounds, and he runs a 4.42 40. He's considered a 4 star by the recruiting sites, and has only been playing at that position for this year. He's a talented kid, that has a lot of upside on both sides of the ball. Take a look at what he had to say.
TOM: How has your recruitment been so far?
TRAVIS: It’s been going well. I’ve been to Michigan and Oregon on my officials. I was supposed to take one to Penn State this past weekend, but our game was cancelled because of a power outage so I couldn’t go. I’m going to Maryland and Florida State also.
TOM: What's your favorite part?
TRAVIS: Just knowing that I’m wanted by the top colleges. Some of the calls from the coaches are pretty cool, to talk to guys that are famous. The stuff you have to go through is a lot, but it’ll be worth it.
TOM: Are you down to a top 5 or top 3? Who are they?
TRAVIS: I have a top 5. Maryland, Penn State, Michigan, Oregon, and WVU and Central Florida are in the mix too.
TOM: When narrowing it down to a top 5, what factors in to that?
TRAVIS: Academics are a big part, the environment on game day, my recruiting class is important to me, if I develop a bond with the other recruits. I’m a people person; I want to get along with my future team mates.
TOM: Is everyone recruiting you at cornerback?
TRAVIS: Most schools feel like I can play both sides of the ball, Central Florida will let me decide. Michigan said I can play both sides. Most likely it will be corner; I’m still deciding what I want to play.
TOM: I read that you liked Michigan and Oregon; they seem to be who you talk about most. What stands out with them, and what are the differences?
TRAVIS: Michigan’s academic advisors were the best of any visits. They are really glued to their success. Coach Rodriguez is really relevant, he’s a good coach. Maryland is up there too, and my mom wants me to go there, and stay close to home. The coaches are cool and I really get along with the players too. Oregon is my dream school. I took a visit, and I like the coaches. Their facilities are ridiculous man, and the players are real cool too.
TOM: Do you think that you and Jason Ankrah will be a package deal? Are you both looking at different schools?
TRAVIS: We’d like to be a package deal, but some schools he’s looking at and I’m not. Where ever I go I hope he goes, but it’s not a make or break thing.
TOM: What happened with Penn State? He tried to commit and then didn’t?
TRAVIS: It was a miscommunication between the two; they’ll take him whenever he’s ready. Penn State is everything I’m looking for in a school. We both like it a lot; I’m going to set up another official there soon.
TOM: Is playing early a factor in deciding where you go?
TRAVIS: Yea it is. Most likely I’m going to graduate early; anywhere I go I feel like I could compete, either on offense or defense.
TOM: Has anyone put out any offers with conditions? If we don't get this guy, then we want you?
TRAVIS: No, I haven’t heard any of that. No coaches have put that out there for me, which is good.
TOM: When do you plan on committing?
TRAVIS: My date was November 3rd, but I’m pushing it back to the first week in December, or if I take a couple more officials, I might just commit where ever I feel comfortable.
TOM: Is it hard to stay grounded, and stay focused with your newfound celebrity?
TRAVIS: Not really, I try to put it in the back of my mind. There are a lot of people in my community that look up to me, so it’s good to be known. But you got to know how to handle it. I’m handling it well. The all American stuff, I’ll be playing in the Army All American game. Where ever I go, I’m still going to stay close with the people in my community.
TOM: What do you bring to the table? What are your strengths and weaknesses?
TRAVIS: My aggressiveness is definitely a strength, the way I play both the pass/run, and this is my first year playing corner so they don’t look at my last year’s film. They look more at my potential. They see me playing corner, even though I played safety my junior year.
TOM: What are other coaches saying about Michigan this year?
TRAVIS: Nothing really, they’re having a down year and coaches bring that up. There’s nothing really negative that they say.
TOM: It seems like you've got a good training program for yourself, and you run a 4.42, is there anything you want to improve on for College?
TRAVIS: I want to work on my backpedal, if I work on my start on my 40 I think I could get it faster. I want to learn the skills a little better, since I haven’t played corner too long. Mike Barwis at Michigan was ridiculous. He was saying stuff I’ve never heard of. He had me doing some stuff in the weight room, I couldn’t believe it.
TOM: I can't be too biased, but Michigan will have some of the best facilities in 2010, there’s 110,000 fans at every game, good national TV exposure, the players consistently go to the NFL. Is there anywhere else that compares with what Michigan brings to the table?
TRAVIS: I mean just knowing it’s Michigan, the tradition is crazy. I really like the academics part and the coaches. I talked to Coach Rodriguez a lot he was real cool. So yea it’s a good place to be.