I don't know if you've noticed, I know it snuck up on me, but the Michigan football season is only nine days away. Nine days isn't that long, but it depends on how you look at it I suppose. Using simple math, Usain Bolt could run approximately 9,000 kilometers in that amount of time (neglecting fatigue). Maybe ten days is an eternity.
It seems there must be a single word in the English language that completely describes the feeling in my, and every other Michigan fan's gut leading up to this first gameday of the 2009 season, but maybe not. If it does exist, it could be found by way of triangulation from the words anticipation, desperation, and ecstasy. I'm sure Horatio Caine could run that through some sort of futuristic literary tracking system and come up with the term.
This season isn't like the others I've experienced though. While I've been a fan since the first time I watched my normally reserved father scream like a little girl after a touchdown in our basement, dancing as well as any pale skinny dutch man can, it has never meant as much to me as it does this time around. The Wolverine faithful have been forced into the undesirable position of being apologists for a team that most love to hate. There has been conflict. Fans argue with other fans. Boos still echo within the Big House, rattling restlessly among the bleachers. Michigan has been brought to a knee, and now it gazes at us with a proposal.
All that is asked of us is our undying commitment. We are not asked to follow blindly and unquestioningly, but we must be patient.
I haven't decided where I'll be next Saturday yet. If some ticket options pan out I may be sitting on a bleacher seat in the Big House, otherwise I may watch the game with family, or by myself. Wherever I am, I'll be nervous. My knees will bounce, and my teeth will serve as an interim nail-clipper. I'll be silent, mostly. Breaths will be short and seldom, and I wouldn't have it any other way. I will cheer in the same way I have always cheered: without words, except for the occasional "GO GO GO GO GO!" (I'm a Wolverine Shia LeBouf, obviously...) Beyond that, it's all going to be guttural noises signifying disgust and yelps of pleasure, sprinkled with a (hopefully more than) occasional joyful scream.
I wouldn't have it any other way. Each and every week during the season, we collectively remove our hearts and offer them to the team for protection. Occasionally they are dropped and trodden over, but we do not pull them back to ourselves even in the event of cardiac arrest because we know there will always be one play, one moment, one image that will rub the paddles together and scream "CLEAR!" bringing our pulse back in a single adrenaline fueled instant.
So stand by me Michigan fans, and bravely sing The Victors in the face of our adversaries. More importantly, stand by our team, as they attempt to bring back what we have all fallen in love with using only their bare hands and fatigued bodies. Join me as I pound the air with my fist, proclaiming on behalf of these players, the keepers of our dreams, "HAIL! HAIL! To Michigan, the Leaders and the Best."
The McBean Definitions discussion was lively.
Only minor changes resulted from the debate:
- I removed the reference to a “five year starter.” Amazing that so many different sets of eyes (except cali4uofm) could miss that, although it was referenced elsewhere.
- I clarified the McBean four-star rating a little bit. The 2002 class has two guys who I initially rated as four stars – Mark Bihl and Rueben Riley – that I have dropped to three stars given that they were undrafted.
Three other issues were discussed:
- brad voiced a concern that if all starters at Michigan get three stars, there is no differentiation between a weak starter and a solid three-star guy like Chris Graham, for example. This is a reasonable observation, because I had Mark Bihl and Rueben Riley rated as four-star starters but backed them down to three (as I considered them borderline four-stars) because they were undrafted. So are both Mark Bihl and Darnell Hood three-star players? That needs to be further debated in this thread.
- There was some debate about punters and kickers, but I think the exception to a punter or kicker as a lower rated player can be handled in the rare event a Space Emperor decides to play ball on our planet.
- The dominant concern was using the NFL to assign career star ratings. SanDiegoWolverine voices this concern:
I don't think the NFL is that relevant in the sense that how our players perform in the NFL shouldn't change our perception of their value/production when they were at Michigan. I'd rather have Rod recruit players that dominate while they are at Michigan and underperform at the NFL than vice versa.
The draft is a national comparison, a national measure of the athletes.
And summarizes, I think correctly:
I agree with BlueBulls that ONLY the draft can inform a McBean rating, and only as a tie-breaker. Steve Breaston is a classic example. Four-star or five? He seems to be on the cusp – look at all the Michigan records and his current value to Arizona – but in the end, he is a four and the draft – 5th round – gives us a valuable assessment tool of his potential (developed at Michigan) at the time his career in college ended. So the NFL draft stays as a tie-breaker, and the final McBean Definitions will be:
"Elite" = 5*
"Significant Impact" = 4*
"Solid" = 3*
I think that you will find that, barring a few exceptions, most of those that get that fifth star will be first-rounders or high second-rounders; the second group will get drafted; and the third group will make up the bulk of the rest of the starters.
Let's begin with the 2002 class. There are some interesting borderline cases in this class. Given the currently assigned career ratings, this class underperformed significantly.
"The wolverine will hunt and kill whenever the opportunity presents itself and they are tireless and persistent in their hunting activities. They will take a wide variety of foods, including hares, mice, lemmings, ground squirrels, chipmunks, marmots and beaver. When food is scarce, the wolverine will attempt to kill big game animals and there are authentic records of attacks upon mountain goats, moose, deer and elk. The wolverine is a courageous animal which is respected and avoided by other predators. Even cougar and grizzly bear have been known to abandon a kill on the approach of a wolverine."
This is the fifteenth and final entry of the 2009 MGoShirt Alert, a design project that will enable MgoBlog readers to vote for upcoming designs in the new MGoBlogStore. Tomorrow we'll unveil a non-BCS final elimination vote of the top four finalists .
The last entry. I've designed over forty separate shirt designs for this contest, and spent a lot of time, usually while mowing my steroid-ridden lawn, trying to think of what to do with the next shirt. Some shirts were an assumption of what I thought people wanted, and others were more carefully researched ideas of what would make a good MGoBlog shirt. Some of these appealed to me very little, but that doesn't mean they did not perform well in the MGoShirt voting.
Well, you know what-- this last one is for me. I designed THIS ONE because I wanted to.
IMPLICIT WARNING-- FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO SAID MY STUFF WAS TOO BUSY AND NOT SIMPLE ENOUGH, YOU ARE ABOUT TO EXPLODE WITH SEETHING HATE AND/OR DISAPPROVAL. IT IS BUSIER THAN THE ALABAMA ADMISSIONS OFFICE ON SIGNING DAY, SO IF THAT'S NOT YOUR THING THEN PLEASE LOOK AWAY. YOU HAVE BEEN NOTIFIED.
YES, I KNOW IT'S NOT GOING TO SHOW UP FROM A DISTANCE
AND I DON'T CARE, SO CLICK HERE FOR THE DETAIL
More than any other design, I enjoyed drawing this one the most. I also spent far and away the most time drawing this one. I enjoyed drawing a wolverine maim, eat, disembowel and otherwise destroy the mascots of our opponents. I feel no sorrow or shame or regret for doing so, regardless of what I'm sure some of you will say about it. I understand and appreciate your perspective and whatever backlash I'll hear for it I fully accept. I also am fully aware that the legal ramifications of this shirt could be just south of Ragnarok. But from the beginning of this contest I wanted-- no, I needed-- to create the sight of a ferocious carcajou shredding Brutus to pieces, and the rest just kind came together around that. (And no, this is not the shirt that Dex now hates me for by not showing).
More than anything, I wanted to create a shirt to set the tone for the year...
THE BIG TEN IS OUR PREY. It's time to put last season to bed. It's time to get out there and kick the ass of anyone who dares enter our stadium. GO BLUE.
Time to vote. What do you guys think?
|pollcode.com free polls|
|What do you think of MgoShirt #15?|
|Five Stars Four Stars Three Stars Two Stars One Star|
***** Five Stars: I hate Brutus. Period. The sky is blue. Water is wet.
**** Four Stars: Sparty is a big puffy bastard and I can't stand him.
*** Three Stars: The ND leprechaun-- real person or not, I just wish for him to trip.
** Two Stars: Damn that Penn State lion-- leave your damn ears alone already!!
* One Star: Herky the Hawkeye is a loser. Yes, Iowa has a mascot.
So there you have it-- fifteen shirt designs over the last three weeks. You loved some, you hated others... if anyone wants to go back and look through them all, click here. Without gettin' all soft and squishy, I'd like to thank everyone for getting involved and sharing your comments and just taking part in the whole thing. More than anything I feel like I got to really know some new faces/icons around here, and was re-acquainted with a few I hadn't seen since the end of the 3-9 nightmare. Either way I hope you had fun and I hope the MGoShirt Alert helped get you excited about the upcoming season.
BUT WAIT!! Where do you think you're going??? Tomorrow is the most important part of the entire project... Check back tomorrow morning when we unveil the MGOSHIRT ALERT DEATHMATCH ELIMINATION ROUND!! The top four shirts, as voted on by you, the readers-- facing off in one last vote to see which design will show up in the store!! This is your last chance to contribute to democracy, to have your say, to-- ah, hell, man, just vote tomorrow. I'll see you then!
Continuing our preseason looks at Olympic sports, aka non-revenue, today we look at the #16 ranked* women's volleyball team. The volleyball team tips off on CBS College Sports later this week, as they face off in the Runza/AVCA Showcase, the premiere early season tournament in NCAA volleyball. Michigan opens with #3 Nebraska, who is virtually hosting event in one hour from campus in Omaha, NE, at 9:30pm (EDT). The second game for the Wolverines will be against #22 Kansas State on Saturday at 7pm (EDT), yet again on CBS College Sports. Tune in and cheer on your Wolverines. And yes, there is a hype video. And it is awesome.
If you're in the Omaha area, you can get tickets for individual matches for $16.50 (plus whatever surcharges ticketmaster adds on if you go that route), or $28 (again, possible extra ticketmaster charges) for a two day pass. And yes, they can charge that amount that close to Lincoln, where volleyball is almost as big as football.
The volleyball team became a varsity sport in 1973 as part of the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW), the women's sports association prior to the NCAA sanctioning women's sports. As the NCAA pretends AIAW and all it's statistics don't exist, Michigan volleyball's overall record is broken down into different categories. In the AIAW, Michigan compiled a record of 148-120-7 (.553) including games against 2 year schools and Canadian schools. Since joining the NCAA, Michigan has compiled a record of 412-417 (.497) against 4-year US schools only. If you throw in the smaller schools, Michigan has a 574-552-7 (.510) record.
Michigan has 11 post season appearances, including 9 NCAA tournaments in the last 12 seasons. Eight of those NCAA appearances came under the direction of current coach Mark Rosen(pictured below and right). Rosen is starting his 11th year at Michigan, which ties him with Sandy Vong (pictured above), Michigan's first ever volleyball coach, for the longest tenure among Michigan volleyball coaches. In Rosen's time, he's amassed a 189-132 (.589), but has never had a team finish higher than 5th in conference. Despite the conference record, Michigan has made it to the Sweet 16 in the past season the last two years.
The 2008 season was expected to be a rebuilding year for the Wolverines. They lost the Michigan all time leader in kills Katie Bruzdzinski, all time blocks leader Lyndsay Miller, and all time digs leader Stesha Selsky. That's some considerable loses. Despite the loss of such all time greats, Michigan also returned a few very strong players in setting Lexi Zimmerman, middle blocker Beth Karpiak, defensive specialist turned libero Kerry Hance, right side hitter Megan Bower, and outside hitter Veronica Rood. Karpiak was as dominant as they come out of the BigTen and Zimmerman came into the season as one of the conferences best setters.
Michigan would start the season hot with a 13-0 run including the BigTen opener at Ohio State. Things were going well – then, the reality of the BigTen season kicked in. Michigan went 12-8 over the conference season tied for the second highest in Wolverine BigTen history. In individual games, Michigan went 44-15 on the year, which is damn impressive. Michigan went 9-3 in matches going 3 sets, 11-6 in matches lasting 4 sets, and 0-3 in full five set matches. This was a big step forward in BigTen volleyball for program as Michigan finished 5th in conference.
Michigan ultimately went on to the NCAA tournament to upset Kentucky and Saint Louis to reach the Sweet 16 where they ran into perennial power Nebraska. Michigan finished the year 27-9, the best season record (by percentage) in the history of the program.
This Season's Players
The Wolverines only lose two players from last year's squad in Kerry Hance and Beth Karpiak. Expectations are high and rightfully so. Michigan returns the league's top setting Lexi Zimmerman. Zimmerman made the Honorable Mention list for All American as a freshman in 2007 and made the Second Team All American in 2008. She is the unsung star of the team. Her 2008 season saw her garner 11.37 assists, 1.37 kills and 2.65 digs per set. Her assist rate was second in the conference to only Penn State's Alisha Glass.
Zimmerman's two top targets will be outside hitter Juliana Paz and left side hitter Alex Hunt. Paz, a senior, lead the the team with 3.31 kills last year with some outstanding power in her hits. The native Brazilian also ranked second on the team in service aces last season with 33. Hunt is a left handed sophomore. As a freshman, she registered 243 kills, good for fourth on the team. Hunt was named to the Freshman All-BigTen team for her efforts and joined the US Junior National team.
On the right side, Megan Bower will be returning after finishing last season with 282 kills – third most on the team. Bower offers both power and a little bit of extra height at 6"-1' to help with blocking. Also returning on the right side is Cassie Petoskey. Petoskey is a native of Ann Arbor, going to Pioneer High School and comes from a long line of Michigan athletes. Her father lettered in wrestling, her grandfather in football, and her great uncle in 3 different sports. Even her brother plays for the lacrosse team. Cassie is as tough as they come, she even wrestled in middle school. She'll see more playing time this year than the last couple.
In the middle, the loss of Beth Karpiak is huge, but we have a couple good options returning. Red shirt sophomore Karlee Bruck really came on strong last year as the second middle blocker in Michigan's rotation. Last year, she finished with 13 solo blocks, second only to Karpiak, but she also lead the team with 90 block assists. Her hitting percentage was also pretty good at .278, but there is definitely room for improvement. Middle blockers generally have the highest hitting percentages on the team as they are generally a misdirection play.
Also rotating into the middle this year will be Veronica Rood. Rood is a converted outside hitter. As a junior, she didn't see that much time on the court, but her height at 6-1 should give her a little bit of an edge on blocking. I also wouldn't be surprised to see her being a bit more of a free swinger in the middle as compared to Bruck.
In the back court, Michigan returns Sloane Donhoff and Maggie Busch. Donhoff will be making the move to libero to start the season. Last year, as a freshman, Sloane was immediately put into a position to become the primary defensive specialist on the team. She finished the year with 321 digs, tied for third most on the team. Donhoff was also a very productive server, knocking in 43 service aces, the most on the team and second most in the BigTen. Busch, a junior, saw time in 120 different sets last season, but never for very long. She registered only 42 digs and 28 service aces over the whole season.
Michigan faces a tough schedule right out of the gate this year. Michigan faces the #3 and #22 teams in the nation this weekend in the American Volleyball Coaches Association tournament in Omaha, NE. This will be the eighth time in fifteen years that Michigan opens with a top 15 opponent. In all, Michigan will play 6 different teams ranked in the AVCA preseason poll and another three also receiving votes.
After the first weekend, the rest of Michigan's non-conference schedule shouldn't be too difficult. Tennessee is the biggest name on the list, but they are only in the receiving votes category of the current preseason poll. Heading into BigTen play, one would expect Michigan to have at least a 10-3 record, but even that might be a slight disappointment.
The conference season will be a bit tougher. The BigTen is a big volleyball conference. Penn State is the obvious favorite as they have not lost a game since September of 2007. They also return 4 All Americans and 10 letter winners. Illinois, Purdue, and Minnesota are also projected to be strong this year. Michigan has not won a game in Madison, WI in over 16 years. Even Michigan State has a strong team.
Looking at the schedule, I think Michigan could start the BigTen season 4-4. Each week has one very winnable game and one that could be extremely tough. In Michigan's favor, though, is the 4 game home stand from November 13th to November 20th. This stretch will help Michigan lessen any possible gaps that may form in the standings, setting up a season finale with Penn State that could potentially mean something. That might be a pretty lofty goal (challenging Penn State for the conference title), but it's not totally out of the idea either.
If you haven't been out to Cliff Keen Arena for a volleyball game, you are really missing out. Volleyball has some of the loudest and most loyal fans at the university, averaging just over 900 per match. Even the old blue hairs get up and cheer on the maize and blue. Just ask anyone about the super old guy that used to always be in the front row dancing along. I'm not sure if he makes it out to every game, but he was always one of my favorite UM personalities. Even "The Zone" is one of the strongest student sections on campus. It's its own mini-Maize Rage.
As mentioned, the team starts the season off against Nebraska in Nebraska's own back yard. The tournament is being hosted in Omaha, NE, just over an hour from Lincoln and the University of Nebraska. The CornHuskers take volleyball very seriously and will easily fill up 15,000 seats or more. The crowd will be hostile, but Michigan will be hoping to do the same thing they did to #10 Hawaii in 2007 by going up early and taking the crowd out of the game. A win over Nebraska isn't very likely, but if it would, it would be one heck of a statement to start the year. The game against Kansas State on Saturday will be a much bigger litmus test on just how ready this team is to compete past the Sweet 16 this year. If the Wolverines handle KSU, they will be serious contenders not only for the BigTen conference, but in the NCAA as well.
And behold, I saw another rider on a blue horse, and his name was
Brian, and he unleashed unverified voracity upon a third of the earth."
This is the fourteenth entry of the 2009 MGoShirt Alert, a design project that will enable MgoBlog readers to vote for upcoming designs in the new MGoBlogStore.
I've been working on a general MGoBlog shirt since the very beginning, and have had varying degrees of success. This single design pretty much sums up my experience with this project altogether-- it's just really really hard to please a large group of people. Everyone has different expectations, and it's inevitable that nothing can make everyone happy. Even more so, trying to consciously please a specific portion of the crowd means that another portion of the group feels ignored or rejected.
MGoBlog itself means a lot of different things to a lot of different people, and trying to put together an identity for it is a delicate and near-impossible act of trying to please as many people while alienating as few as possible. I tried several different approaches. I branched one off of the logo I created for this contest itself, and some people rejected it, which is their right (I have no right to tell someone not to react to my art a certain way). I listened to many people asking for a logo based on the MGoPoints arrows, which several people then disagreed with. I even played around with the menu bar icon as a logo, but nothing really seemed right.
CLICK HERE FOR DETAIL
So in the end, I went back to the source, and created this shirt from Brian's own avatar. And no, that doesn't mean Brian's creating his own 3-D IMAX CGI sci-fi space opera about ten-foot tall blue aliens-- Although BOY would I love to see THAT opus of sarcasm. No, this design is his own profile image, tweaked a bit for single color reproduction. There might be some licensing issues but it's really not a true block M, so I'm hoping this isn't a big deal, but if need be we can jump this hurdle when the time comes.
I'd like to think of this shirt as a celebration of the mythical half-man, half-hair creature that makes this place possible. Here's to Brian! HUZZAH!!
Time to vote. What do you guys think?
|pollcode.com free polls|
|What do you think of MgoShirt #14?|
|Five Stars Four Stars Three Stars Two Stars One Star|
***** Five Stars: Avatar will be the greatest cinematic moment since Strange Brew.
**** Four Stars: Avatar will be a kick ass sci-fi movie, but will re-invent nothing.
*** Three Stars: Pretty cool-- but there's no zombies, or Megan Fox. Fail.
** Two Stars: The plot seems slow, tedious. I'll stay home and read instead.
* One Star: Avatar will suck. Movies are for losers who can't afford an XBox.
As I discussed earlier today, Brian and I decided to switch things up a bit-- we're showcasing two designs today so that the initial 15 shirts can be wrapped up tomorrow. THEN, on Friday, you can look forward to the final MGOSHIRT ALERT DEATHMATCH ELIMINATION ROUND, where the top 4 shirts as voted by the MGoCommunity will be voted on again to decide which design will make its way into the MGoBlogStore. Voting begins Friday, with the final tally being taken on Sunday night.
Tomorrow will then mark the fifteenth and last entry in this shirt design project... It's time for this designer to stop being so damn productive so I can properly engage myself in the upcoming season. So look tomorrow for the final preliminary edition of-- MGoShirt Alert!
PS - NO, I will not unveil the OSU shirt, at least not for now. Perhaps I'll keep it until a very bitter loss has us all in the dumps, and not even Brian's damn kittens can make anyone smile. Perhaps then, my offensive apparel will... That is all.
Speculation ranges from added band participation to full blown RAWK music being pumped into the stadium, a la Wisconsin and Michigan State.
This, I fear.
Not sure if any of you follow Michigan Football on Facebook but yesterday they posted a video to "fire you up" before the start of the season. Set to the dulcet tones of AC/DC's "For Those About To Rock," the video showed clips from throughout Michigan's football history. (Sadly, there were not many from 2008.)
It's actually a great video and it DID fire me up even more -- seeing Desmond talk about "Should I do the pose? Should I not do it? ... F*** it" was interesting and the video, for what it was, was well done.
I am really just hoping this isn't the kind of thing they start blasting before or during games. Living in DC, I only made it up to one game last year and don't remember if this is something that is already happening, so if it is I apologize for my lack of awareness.