"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
With the Game of Year in the Mountain West Conference going on tonight, its as good a time as any to discuss the league and its tournament bid chances. Tonight, Utah travels to San Diego State and sole possession of first place is on the line. Apparently, you're missing something if you're not watching Mountain West hoops. The league is having a watershed season. At least, I assume it is. What other conclusion can I make considering that for most of the winter, bracketologists everywhere have been landing a boatload of MWC teams into their field. With 32 days until Selection Sunday, the MWC is seeing 4 of its team in plenty of mock brackets and just about everyone has no less than three teams in the field.
Bracketology 101 called out ESPN's Joe Lunardi last week for including four MWC teams (Utah, SDSU, BYU and UNLV) in his field last week. Lunardi still those four in his field, albeit with BYU and UNLV among the final four in his field. However, B101 is finding the league is hard to resist, admitting to caving in with his latest mock field and even he has three MWC on the board.
I concur with B101's original sentiment. Not to disrespect the fine, competitive hoops they play in the Rockies, but are you kidding me with four bids into the NCAA field? That's almost half their league! What is this, some sort extra credit for the impressive football season the league just completed? I guess its the Year of the MWC. Nobody told me that. Do I still have time to get all my Year of the MWC shopping in before its over?
Even with Michigan's loss to MSU last night, it does not take a PHD in argumentative logic to win a debate that Michigan has the better resume and team than most of the MWC clubs being considered at this point. Throwing Michigan out of the equation, however, I conted we can make a better case for several of the bubble teams left out of most fields today over the at large bids given to the MWC teams.
The league is seventh in the conference RPI rankings. Thats an excellent mark for them, but its just one measurable. The MWC deserves an at large based upon that, but I dont think that alone should warrant the inclusion of more than that.
What if we did conference challenges between the MWC and other comparable leagues and matched the top four MWC teams against the top four teams from either the Missouri Valley, Colonial, Atlantic 10 or West Coast leagues? I've watched enough hoops this year, where I would expect the MVC and CAA to come out on top and I'd be more than willing to put my money where my mouth is. None of these other leagues is in much contention to receive an at large bid, let alone multiple ones.
Browsing through the mocks that have loaded up on MWC teams reveals a sentiment that perhaps nobody else is buying this many MWC bids either. But the bulk of the bubble is so weak that its hard to bump any of them out right now. I can only buy part of that thought process. I agree the overall bubble is not that strong. But, I disagree that there aren't teams currently on the outside looking in that have better resumes and achieved as much, if not more, in better leagues than the MWC.
Enough of my hyperbolic opinion. As we get ready for tonight's showdown, lets do what is only natural this time of year: Breakdown and compare resumes.
SDSU 17-5, 7-2
W/L vs RPI top 50, 100:1-2, 3-4
Best 6 Wins:SD, at UNLV, BYU. TCU, Utah, at CSU
Key Losses: Arizona, ASU, St. Mary, at BYU at Wyoming
Our old friend Steve Fisher has a nice team in the Aztecs, and he is trying to coax them into a third tournament appearance since he arrived in town. I wonder how many of his SDSU players have phone numbers of local bookies in the cell phones?
Low blows aside, it's nice to see Fisher have some success this late in his career. I would encourage anyone to check out a few minutes of any televised Aztec game, if only to see the Haray Carey-esque eyeglasses look the Fish is rocking these days. It's unintentional comedy at its finest.
Anway, lets dive into their resume. Following his mentor Bill Freider's lead, Fisher's club loaded up on a lot of cupcakes, gobbling wins against the likes of UC-San Diego, Western Carolina, Hampton, Seattle (not the Sonics), Northern Colorado and Arkansas Pine Bluff. They had three notable OOC games, but lost all three.
The Aztecs only have three wins versus the RPI top 100. Compare to Michigan, which has more than twice as many. Or Cincy, Arizona, USC and Miami which has twice as many. But, its SDSU that's in all but 5 mock brackets that have been updated after last weekend's action, while the other schools are fighting for their spots.
My problem with SDSU's resume is that their best wins of the season are all in league play. Are we saying the MWC is so strong that a team with ziltch on their OOC resume can still net a bid on the back of home court wins in league play? If that's the case, why aren't we also talking about Northeastern of the CAA, Tulsa from CUSA or Creighton from the VC deserving at large bids. We aren't.
I dont think SDSU is a team that can win a game in the tournament, and isn't that a key factor in finally determining who gets into the field. The irony of Michigan and SDSU battling on the same bubble makes for a nice story line. But, if the Aztecs grab an at large bid and Michigan is one the final teams left out in the cold, my bitterness towards Fisher will only grow.
Utah 16-7, 7-2
W/L vs RPI top 50, 100: 2-4,6-5
Best 6 Wins: Ole Miss, Oregon, Gonzaga, LSU, BYU, New Mexico
Key Losses:SW Baptist, Idaho St, Utah St, Oklahoma, Cal, at SDSU, at UNLV
Way back in the 1990s, the Utah Utes were guaranteed spots in the NCAA field. Basketball season has not been as kind to Utah in recent years, but this year's Utes squad may finally have recaptured the magic of the peak Majerus years. A win tonight in their showdown with SDSU may officially prove the Utes are back.
Given their RPI, SOS and resume building OOC wins over LSU and Gonzaga, Utah has a much better case for an at large bid, even if they lose and get swept tonight by SDSU. Six wins against the RPI top 100 is not something you usually see from a mid major, so that's a nice feather in their cap.
You know what's not a nice feather in their cap? Those atrocious losses to SW Baptist and Idaho State. Yet, the Utes are 11 in the RPI. Are we sure the RPI formula is working? How can a team have those horrible losses, play in a quasi mid major league and yet still remain among the cream of thr RPI crop? Somebody over there may need a new math consultant.
On one hand, those losses were two months ago. However, I saw plenty of commentary this week regarding Kentucky's suddenly shaky bid, pointing out not only the Cats losing streak at the time, but also their embarrassing loss to VMI way back in the season opener. Utah's losses should be weighed accordingly. At least VMI is in first place of the Southern Conference and will likely end up in the tournament. Idaho State is in the bottom half of the Big Sky. As for SW Baptist, I dont even knoW what division of hoops they play, let alone their conference ranking.
If it comes down to Utah and others for one of the final spots, how do those losses not come back to haunt them? Miami, Michigan, Cincy and Penn St, just to name a few, play in tougher leagues, have marquee OOC wins, but dont have those pair of stinkers on their resume that the Utes do.
BYU 17-5, 5-3
W/L vs RPI top 50, 100: 2-3, 4-5
Best 6 Wins: Utah St, Tulsa, SDSU, TCU, Wyoming, at CSU
Key Losses: New Mexico, Utah, UNLV, Arizona St, Wake
The Cougars are the only team in the country to beat Utah State. And, they have a win over Tulsa, the second place team in Conference USA. I'm sold. Go ahead and put them in the field. Most folks have chugged the Cougar Koolaid (wait a minute....that sounds interesting.....perhaps the more perverted wing of the WLA can get to work on a recipe.....but, I digress). BYU finds itself in 30 out of 45 mock brackets that have been updated to include recent games.
I dont mean to knock that win over the Aggies. That's an elite mid major program. But, should Bracket Buster Day type wins pave the way for this kind of seemingly automatic inclusion into the field? I say no. There has to be more than that. Adding in a win over Tulsa and nice MWC record just does not scream at large invite.
When you think about it, isn't BYU's 5-3 MWC mark rather pedestrian? We're talking about leaving .500 teams from BCS leagues out of the field, yet we're blindly promoting a BYU club that's only two games above .500 in a lesser league. You know who else is within that same range record wise in comparable leagues? Try Houston, Temple and Illinois State. Those teams are nowhere near the bubble, but BYU has crashed the gates.
The Cougars are in with a 5-3 MC conference mark, but Cincy and Penn State are still fighting to get noticed with a 6-5 mark in the Big East and Big 10 respectively. Does that make sense?
The Cougars might need to worry that a fellow league member's slide may bode ill for them and other conference members on the bubble.
UNLV 18-6, 6-4
W/L vs RPI top 50, 100: 3-2, 3-2
Best 6 Wins: San Diego, Arizona, at Louisville, at BYU, Utah, TCU
Key Losses:Cal, Cincy, at TCU, at CSU, SDSU, at NM
Wow. Another MWC team that hasn't won more than 60 percent of their league games gets a majority of bracketologists on board with their resume. Typically that winning percentage is NIT material out of this sort of league. Yet, 60 percent of the mocks (27 out of 45) that have been updated since the weekend still place the Rebels in their field.
The Rebels have not been playing all that well of late. Early it looked like they might have been the best team in the league. But, they dropped winnable road games at TCU and CSU and more recently lost consecutive games to SDSU and New Mexico. Fans are expecting a roller coaster, with the strong chance of hell breaking loose, down the stretch.
UNLV has great wins over Arizona and Louisville. But, they also lost to fellow bubble mates Cincy and Cal. Seriously, how can you put UNLV in your field, but not the CU Bearcats. They basically have indentical league marks, but Cincy plays in a much tougher conference and they beat the Rebels head to head, in Vegas no less.
Compare the Rebels resume with Michigan's and tell me which one is better. UM has a better RPI, shatters them in the SOS department, play in a better league, have more marquee OOC wins and have twice as many wins over the RPI top 100. I dont feel that UM should be on too many bracket lines in the wake of last night's loss. Nor do I understand all the love I see UNLV getting in the mock brackets.
Here's where the rubber meets the road for me when it comes to UNLV. They lost to TCU. Now, the Horned Frogs are up and coming, but they still lost this year to Indiana. Anyone who loses to a team that lost to Indiana this year should be eliminated from consideration. That's just the rules.
Yesterday, as I watched Michigan's awful performance against Michigan State, I wondered about who is Michigan's worst rival, Ohio State or Michigan State.
I am precluding this by mentioning that football is the most important, basketball is great, but still just a distraction from football's dead period. Also, we can leave out Notre Dame and Minnesota, the fact that Notre Dame is non-conference, Minnesota has been owned by Michigan recently, and the fact that game is not even played annually.
Call it whatever you want, heresy, channeling Gary Moeller perhaps, but I believe Michigan State is Michigan's worst rival. Maybe I say that because I live in Grand Rapids, west side of the state, where there are almost two State fans per Michigan fans, and not many of those Michigan fans really care. Or perhaps, in light of State's win in football this past year, or the debacle last night, I have a newfound passion for hating MSU this year. Also, there are not really too many Ohio State fans, that I see at least, I do not really know of any that live around here. They might live in southeast Michigan or in the Toledo area where the rivalry is seemingly most heated, but I am not really aware that many Ohio State fans exist in most of the state of Michigan.
I think that the Michigan-Ohio State bloodbath (not that I've had much experience with the rivalry) really is a tremendous rivalry, but to be honest, I believe that it is a rivalry that is based loosely on mutual respect, or at least acknowledgement for the other's program. I did actually just say that. Michigan is a better program by far, more class, dignity, intelligence, etc. but I have to say that Ohio State is a decent program. Also, I think that the Ohio State rivalry is by far the best rivalry in the state of Ohio, with Michigan fans and Ohio State fans going at it constantly. However, in the state of Michigan, particularly in West, North, and Central Michigan, even around Ann Arbor, Michigan State is a bigger rival, not by much more than the Buckeyes, but still more. The Michigan-Michigan State rivalry is based purely on the inferiority complex set on MSU by Michigan (which is not without merit, frankly it's true). Michigan State hates Michigan so passionately that it is really amazing. Michigan however, feels that State is just another win, and never gives them any credit for anything; and Michigan State takes that as an insult which only adds to the rivalry. Add to the inferiority complex the annual recruiting battles (especially in Detroit, which Michigan typically wins), the success of michigan now and in the past, and the fact that Michigan State rally does not compare with Michigan in respects to tradition, talent, history, or even fan base. Also, I could say that Michigan-Ohio State is fueled by the ESPN, SI, etc. hype on the rivalry, which is really just an excuse to fill their telecast, magazine, web site, whatever. That really just adds to the perception that Michigan-Ohio State is a bigger rivalry than Michigan-Michigan State, it is still an excellent rivalry, but I'd finally give kudos to Michigan State for once and call them a bigger rival. ESPN in particular hypes rivalries way too much, and I've heard it a few times during the North Carolina-Duke game by Dickie V, how that fits in I do not know. Rivalries are a huge thing, but they are mainly a product of the fans which goes down to the players, coaches etc. but not a national thing, moreover a localized one.
Maybe I say this because I am incredulous that State won this past year, or that they chanted Go Green, Go White, (Can't Read, Can't Write) after winning said game, followed up with a "little sister" chant, at the Big House. Or, maybe I held on to hope that Michigan would upset them last night. Maybe it was recent frustration in most of the recruiting battles in-state as of late (except William Campbell, yes...), or perhaps that I am outnumbered by State fans here in GR. I guess that most of what I am saying is a matter of present circumstance, or maybe I haven't experienced the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry for real. (Note: I have gone to the past four or five Ohio State games at home, and go to almost every home game, so I have seen the fervor in person.)
I guess what I've tried to say is that, at least right now, and around here, Michigan State is a bigger rival than Ohio State. Not by much, but still a little bigger ( at the very least, around the same).
Agree? Disagree? A matter of opinion?
(I am bracing myself for the explosion, so try not to be too vicious here, I am a fellow Michigan diehard, so insults are really not too appropriate).
Go Blue, little brother.
Alright, finally, the winter of our discontent has a bright spring in sight!
The time of year coming up is one of the best -- Spring Training opens in a week or so, conference basketball tourneys are around the corner, CCHA and NCAA hockey playoffs coming up, the Masters, NCAA and NIT bball tourneys, opening day in MLB, spring football, Wimbledon, Premiership gets into the final stretch and the College World Series which, for me, punctuates the end of Spring.
Whoa -- for a sports fan, this upcoming time of year is really fine, exceeded only (perhaps) by fall,with college football, NFL, MLB playoffs and World Series, the PGA tournament (which sort of kicks off fall for me), hockey training camps and start of the season, NBA (meh), and the opening of the Premiership season.
The real low of the year is right now, after the NFL conference championship games and before the start of the spring seasons I already noted -- the Superbowl punctuates mid-season NHL, NBA, college bball, Premiership, all in sort of a lull at that point. This time of year is sort of buzzard's luck for sports fans -- can't kill nuthin' and nuthin's dead. No wonder the Auto Shows and Boat Shows and Fishing Shows at the conference centers get any attendees at all -- even walking around looking at things you can't afford beats watching January and February sports on TV!
Oh, yeah, life begins anew very soon.
The groundhog can just bugger off.
In one of the most vexing, muddled and up-in-the-air bubble situations the college hoops landscape has seen in recent years, Michigan split their games last week, but in the process elevated their overall profile.
A week after nearly unanimously falling out of most mock brackets, Michigan regained some footing by thumping everybody’s trendy dark horse Penn St by 20 and then going toe to toe on the road against top ranked Uconn. While the Wolverines upset bid fell oh so short, the game effort against the Huskies helped prove to most college hoop observers that UM can compete and beat tournament caliber teams. Also helping Michigan’s cause this week was the continuation of collapses at Notre Dame and Georgetown, several Big 12 bubble teams going winless on the week and fellow Big 10 bubble mates Penn St and Northwestern stepping back to the pack.
Despite ending the week with a loss, Michigan found itself in more mock brackets this week. After losing four of five games to close January, Michigan entered February in only a smattering of brackets, many of which had not been updated to even include Michigan’s more recent losses.
One week into the new month, Michigan finds itself in 18 of 52 mock brackets tracked by the Bracket Project. Nearly 40 percent of the accredited bracketologists label Michigan a tournament team, despite having just gone through its biggest slump of the season. That bodes well for Michigan’s chances, if they can close out strong and bang out a few more impressive wins.
If Michigan can pull out a winning record in their final seven games, a stretch that includes marquee home games against MSU (tonight), Minnesota (2/19) and Purdue (2/26), then a tourney bid is theirs for the taking. A 9-9 league mark ought to do the trick, so long as they do not have an embarrassing flame out in the Big 10 tournament and lose to Iowa or Indiana in a first round game.
The final two teams in the Amaker era broke even in the Big 10, but were denied a bid. Those teams failed to close strong. With a bid on the line in the season finale in both those seasons, Michigan failed to deliver a home win against Indiana and Ohio State respectively. Those Michigan teams did not have anything to brag about in the OOC slate either and, in fact, was routinely embarrassed in their big time non conference games.
This year’s squad is much different. To get to a .500 record in league play, they have to close strong. And, if they succeed, they will have beaten several tournament bound teams in February. And, unlike those Amaker squads, this year’s Michigan team boasts as strong a pair of OOC wins (Duke and UCLA) as anyone else in the country.
With less than five weeks until Selection Sunday, the Michigan Wolverines control their own destiny as far as earning a tournament bid. The path begins tonight with rival Michigan State in town. While awaiting tip off, here are some other observations about the latest round of mock brackets.
Blue Grass Blues
Is Kentucky in trouble? It’s hard to imagine a member of the college basketball royal family missing out on the tournament, but the Wildcats could not have picked a worse time to embark on a losing streak. The SEC has been maligned all winter with experts forecasting as few as four or three bids into the field. You don’t want to be an SEC team on the bubble right now—especially on a losing streak—as public perception will work against you.
Losers of three in a row, the Cats are already finding that public perception betraying them a bit. In the week since UK last played a game, more than one quarter (15 of 51) of the updated mock brackets have left them out of their field. Michigan, for example, is in 8 brackets which UK has been left out of, including such notables as the Bracket Project and collegehoopsnet.com.
The Wildcats are a team in need of win. Tonight’s home game with Florida (on ESPN after the MSU/UM) carries as much import for the home team as the showdown in Ann Arbor does. A win for UK really cures a lot of ills. However, a loss extends the losing streak for a team that plays four of its next five games on the road.
You know it’s bad in Lexington when fans are pining for the days of Eddie Sutton. While his tenure led to crippling probation, some folks wish the Gillespie had a bit of Old Man Sutton’s imagination as they try to fight their way out of a losing streak and off the bubble.
It was a boring week in the ACC, right? Landmark wins by Clemson over Duke and Miami over Wake during the week was followed by a weekend chalk full of dramatic comebacks. Duke, Florida State and Virginia Tech all climbed back from large halftime deficits to secure key wins. Ho hum, just another boring week in the ACC where it seems every game is not only close, but also played between final four contenders and/or good teams residing on the bubble.
It was a good week for the ACC as in some mock brackets, notably Lunardi’s at ESPN, the ACC now has 8 bids, the most of any other conference. The biggest team winner in all of this might have been Florida State. The Noles are one of five ACC bubble teams, but with all of them facing many hurdles between now and the end of the season, it’s really anybody’s guess how this whole thing will shake out. But, coming from behind to notch a road win at Clemson has the Noles, at least for now, standing out from the crowd. Most mock brackets have them securely in the field with a #7 seed or better. The Seminoles are close to being tournament locks and breaking their 10-year drought.
The rest of the ACC bubble still has work to do. Virginia Tech, Boston College and Miami are still in most fields, albeit as double digit seeds. Neither of those teams can afford a losing spell or other teams will surely pass them. Maryland, the only league bubble team not in any recently updated mock fields, needs to go a prolonged winning streak to nudge back into contention.
Obviously, it’s a marquee week for the league with Wednesday night’s Duke/UNC showdown, but be sure to keep an eye on these games as their outcomes will go a long way in determining the next round of mock brackets: Clemson at BC, 2/10; Georgia Tech at Virginia Tech, 2/11; FSU at WF, 2/14; VT at Maryland, 2/14; Duke at BC, 2/14; and UNC at Miami, 2/14.
Another week, another new contender in the Big 12
We’re in the process of a complete overhaul of the bubble picture in the Big 12. Spurred by preseason expectations, Oklahoma St, Baylor and Texas A/M was the conventional wisdom’s pecking order for the last few invites for a league that should be a 6-bid conference. However, those three schools are just a combined 9-17 in league play and had been ping-ponging between being in and out of the mock brackets for the last several weeks. Each school went 0-2 during the last week of play. All three have fallen off the radar of most bracketologists and will need to go on a major run from here on out just to finish break even in conference play.
What’s worse is they’ve been bypassed by new bubble teams right out of their own league. Kansas State burst onto the scene the final week of January with wins over Missouri and Texas. The Wildcats followed the act by winning two more games last week—including a gutsy road win in College Station over the Aggies—to run their winning streak to five games. After the win, it’s fair to ask if the balance of power in the league has shifted divisions. The Wildcats have a big week ahead of them. They host Texas Tech tomorrow and then welcome KU in a huge showdown Saturday afternoon. With a manageable slate down the stretch, it will be difficult to keep KSU out of the field if they notch another two wins this week.
Meanwhile a new contender for a bid also emerged in the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Nebraska followed the same model KSU did previously and used a marquee win over Texas over the weekend to jump into bubble discussion. Are they tournament ready just yet? One Nebraska bracketologist says not yet, but its just a blast to even include them into the discussion. Nebraska’s bubble situation is just like Michigan’s, in that they have plenty of big name marks on the schedule where wins could boost their resume right into the field. Unlike, Michigan, however, all those contests are on the road. In their final seven games, Big Red has to travel to Missouri, Kansas, KSU and Baylor. If they don’t get at least one win from that group of games, the Huskers will be a .500 team at best in league play. With an OOC resume devoid of any big time wins and marred with bad losses to Oregon St and Maryland Baltimore County, I doubt that will cut it come Selection Sunday.
Beware, Mock Bracket Darling
One of the more interesting trends this winter has been watching the rise—and subsequent fall—of the Mock Bracket Darling. I define this species as a team which nobody is even discussing, but after an impressive week suddenly shoots to the top of everyone’s bubble list. Two weeks ago, the Darling was Virginia Tech. After notching landmark road wins at Wake and Miami, the Hokies came out of nowhere and made appearances in just about everyone’s mock fields. Last week, bracketologists everywhere lauded Penn St, and 24 hours after their road win at Michigan St, the Nittany Lions made their own debut in the mocks.
Both teams found their new found status too much to bear. The Hokies immediately choked a big lead and lost at home to Clemson, followed by a buzzer beating loss to BC. While they won their only game last week, the Hokies place in any eventual field is far from secure. Penn St followed their appearance in the mocks by getting blown out at Michigan and losing at home to Wisconsin. After dropping a pair of bubble battles, the Nittany Lions find themselves out of most mock fields as quickly as they were placed inside them.
If you’ve become a Mock Bracket Darling, you had better watch your back.
If this trend holds up, that bears bad news for the Cincinnati Bearcats. Alleged to be a bottom half team from the Big East, the Bearcats have parlayed a recent hot run into an ‘in the field’ status by most accounts. The Bearcats run includes a win over Notre Dame and a sweep of Georgetown. With those programs cratering towards the NIT and Providence on a three-game losing streak, the Bearcats have found themselves as the last Big East team in the field. According the Bracket Matrix, 41 mock fields have posted since this weekend’s action and the Bearcats find themselves in 27 of those fields. In most of those mocks, CU is either an 11 or 12 seed and among the final teams overall placed on the board.
The Bearcats have one of the conference’s best scorers in Deonta Vaughn. They also have one the league’s top Diaper Dandies in Yancy Gates, who was just named Big Eat Rookie of the Week for the second time this season. Their coach highlights a down to the wire loss at Uconn as the season’s turning point. Hopefully, Michigan can follow suit after their near miss against the Huskies on Saturday.
Can they avoid the Mock Bracket Darling Hex? After a gimme at home against St John’s this week, the Bearcats still have games with Pittsburgh, Louisville, Syracuse and West Virginia between now and March 1. If they can come out of the stretch alive, we might need to find a permanent place in the field for them.
Un4gettable? You had to be there
Away from mock brackets, there was a dose of Michigan related hoops news over the weekend. Do you remember Chris Weber? He played on the Fab Five and advanced to a couple of Final Fours during his years at Michigan. Allegedly.
Anyway, the Sacramento Kings of the NBA retired good old #4’s number in a dramatic ceremony Friday night. All the luminaries that you would expect at such an event showed up. Like Scott Pollard and Doug Christie. Mateen Cleaves was even there and spoke to the crowd about C-Web.
There was a little problem, however, with the crowd that night. Apparently dozens of Wise Guys showed up to honor Weber as well. The Kings did not have enough seats for them, but I am sure Chris, good guy that he is, invited them all out to his post game celebration. It was touching moment, indeed.
So consider this my disclaimer...I am a wolverine since birth, some of my greatest memories are of me and family (grandfather alum) at some of the greatest UM games ever (Orange Bowl 2000, UM vs Nuts 100th game, UM vs PSU last second win, as well as numerous hockey and bball games ....and so on)..But it just so happens i am in my senior year at the REAL UT, home of the Vols. It seems that everyone is having a pretty good time with our young firecracker of a coach we got down here, and i couldnt be happier!!!! It's about damn time somebody grew some balls around here and awoke this monster...Take the stupid comments and make a nice collage or something cuz thats about all their good for....What you seem to be missing is the assembly of some of the finest coaches and recruiters in college football, with proven track records, which single handedly stole 5 star Janzen Jackson from LSU,as well as Nu'keese and Teague from UF, not to mention 4-5 star Darren Myles. Guaranteed KIffin will win more than three games his debut season, (i love RR..i promise) despite our QB situation, our D will be sick nasty along with a stable of running backs. And if the Vols and Wolves played on a neutral field, Eric Berry would have three picks and two touchdowns in a violent 21-20 slug fest..best DB in college since Woodson and should have won the Thorpe as a Soph..(fuckin Jenkins? what a joke)
Both teams are on their way....UT vs UM Nat Title 2011?
Alright... so some of you may or may not have been part of the discussion this weekend concerning the possibility of an away jersey re-design. Since Carr had already made the order long before RichRod was hired, he had no control... and in light of the abysmal season, the conversation was that he might want to revamp the away shirts. It then became an even bigger discussion about maize jerseys, blue pants, and white on white uniforms for the maize-and-blue (that sentence alone speaks volumes).
Of course, it was at that point that I went all Jerry Maguire and tore into a mission statement-esque rant about how we must adhere to tradition. At the end of my post (go into my recent blog entries if you missed it), I suggested that we go back to the Harbaugh 80's rendition of the away jersey, featuring one-color numbers and contrasting Northwestern stripes. For those not familiar with the term, NW striping refers to the pattern of thin-thick-thin originally worn by the Wildcats in the 50's, and most of you if you wore socks in the 80's. Here it is:
But I then offered the possibility that I might create some illustrations on how we could go back to that design as a sort of throwback, and I've done just that. My idea was to create a rendition of that same design on a current uniform template, complete with shorter sleeves, form-fitting fabric template, and of course, the Adidas logo. For the sake of updating, I used the #5 instead of 4 as recognition of Forcier's upcoming uniform-- quarterback of the future, etc. Note to any uniform design enthusiasts out there-- notice that I designed the uniform with both the pants and helmet together, since we're talking about a uniform design, not just a jersey design. Too often I think teams focus on the shirts too much, then when you pair it with the helmet it looks like crap. It's all about continuity.
So the first row here shows an updated throwback design, complete with an alternate version that incorporates a small block "M" in the stripe in blue. Of the two, I really like the first, without the block M. I'd be totally HAPPY with this on our boys-- the simplicity, the implied history. I also realized what I like the most about the 80's design is the single color number-- i.e. no maize stroke around the numbers. I think it looks clean and strong, and ties back to the home jersey. Ever bother anyone else that the home has one color numbers while the away has two?
I then went ahead and created a totally new design, as if my wildest professional dream came true and Bill Martin approached me to design Michigan's away jersey. After some deliberation, it made perfect sense to me to keep the same numbers, but the question was, "What about the sleeves?" I played around with a few ideas before ultimately settling on a wide navy stripe with curved maize perpendicular strokes... obviously a throwback to the helmet motif. I followed up this idea with an alternate that features a contrasting block M above the shoulders. Of these two, I'd probably still choose the one without the block 'M'. I love uniforms with logos on shoulders etc., because they leave no doubt about who the shirt belongs to-- but I just don't think the design needs it.
So keep in mind that none of this is official, no word has emerged that the uniforms will be changed in any way, and this is totally just for fun. But thought that you guys might get a kick out of these ideas, throwback or otherwise.
GO BLUE... as in MAIZE & BLUE.