Well, five weeks from today, the college football season begins. We're all chomping at the bit to see and discuss some actual action. Speaking of action, lets get some discussion rolling on these Big 10 out of conference games that are already on the Big Board in Vegas and other odds sites.
Got any best bets among this group? Let's hear them. Here are the games:
Missouri +6 over Illinois (neutral site), Week One.
Iowa -10 at Iowa State, Week Two.
USC -3 at Ohio State, Week Two.
Notre Dame -3 at Michigan, Week Two.
Michigan State +7 at Notre Dame, Week Three.
Illinois -3 at Cincinnati, Week 12.
Wiso -11 at Hawaii, Week 14.
I know, not a lot to choose from.
A couple of points:
1.) We have seen some big movements in the Mizz/Illini and USC/OSU lines. At the Golden Nugget in downtown Las Vegas, the Illini opened at -2.5. It did not stay that way for too long. Very quickly it got bet up to six and when online books finally released lines, that is the number it opened at. The same thing happened with the USC/OSU line, but in the oppositie direction. That line opened at 6 at the Nugget. But all sorts of early money came in on the Bucks and the price fell to -3.
2.) The Michigan/Notre Dame line opened at 3.5, fell to 2.5 and is now holding steady a 3.The ND line is weighed at -120, while Michigan is at even money. That tells us that more recent money is coming in on ND and in order to stem that, the oddsmakers not only boosted the lines, but made the bet more expensive to make as well. Is it worth pointing out the underdog in thise series is 20-5 ATS with a 12-12-1 straight up record? I love seeing the Wolverines catching points in this rivalry. The public can keep pouring money in on the Irish for all I care. I'll fade them and go with the Book everytime.
3.) By matter of principle, I always take the Dog in the UM/ND series. In addition to that, I love, I mean flat out adore the Spartans catching a full TD against the Irish. MSU has won 10 of the 13 games on the scoreboard and really own ND Stadium having won six a row there. Among this small menu of games, it is my BEST BET. Book It!
Any thoughts on these games? Hell, I dont care, lets talk about other games. Whatever. Let's get this season rolling!
In fact, it seems we are planning to either (a) move DEs to DT from among our current players, or (b) only use one traditional DT at most times. One cannot be sure--it is not that we don't have the bodies to play a pair of DTs with backups. However, if we expect to be playing two DTs with sufficient backups--comprised of players recruited as high school DTs--our numbers would seem low and our recruiting at the position more lackadaisical than one would expect from this otherwise highly motivated staff.
As a case study, it is interesting to observe the recruitment of Hankins and Talbott. Hankins (Scout: 28 DT, Rivals: 5.5, ESPN: 77) is higher rated than Talbott (Scout: 50 DT, Rivals 5.5, ESPN: 73). More importantly for the MSU-insecure among us, he hails from within the borders of Michigan. But we were not crazy about Hankins. We are pursuing Talbott. The difference?
The most immediate one is body type. Talbott has tall, rangy, DE build. As ESPN begins, and ends, its assessment:
Talbott plays a little out of position in high school as a defensive tackle. In college he could be looking at a move to defensive end...a bit of 'tweener position wise right now.
Indeed. He looks like a DE. But we are recruiting him to play on the inside. I think what DT recruiting this year suggests is we no longer are shopping for Terrance Taylors, i.e. stout 4* gap-stuffing fire hydrants. Or jelly roll behemoths. We will take an athletic behemoth like Will Campbell (or any 5* in our backyard, probably), but on the inside now we want guys who are fast and active. I like this approach.
It is interesting to observe that many pundits have deep doubts about the ability of Michigan's speed defense approach to withstand the power running teams of the Big Ten (nevermind the parallel stories on how the whole league has gone to the spread). I agree it will be interesting, but I have more confidence than most. If teams truly are gashing us within the tackles we can always send more bodies crashing into the box. At least we can do that more easily than scattering our stout bodies across a wide field to cover spread sets (see Ohio State 2006, App St./Oregon 2007, etc.)
Terry Talbott is not a win in the recruiting war in terms of quantified ratings, but I think he is a terrific fit for a scheme that can be implemented to terrorize opposing offenses from sideline to sideline. I am voting "yes" for Terry. I hope you will too.
These are a few things that I have experienced playing the up-in-coming season out a few times in the NCAA 2010 game. I thought that some of you will would find this interesting. If you think that this game has no bearing whatsoever on real life, you should save yourself a few minutes and go on to something else.
In the game, both Carlos Brown and Brandon Minor are really good and injury prone at the same time. This kind of follows what's happened in real life, and in every version of the up-in-coming season, neither of them played all the games. In most instances one or the other was hurt and not both. However, you need at least a couple guys during the course of a game, and the 2nd string guy will get some good looks. This makes me wonder who will be the #3 running back this year, and it really highlights the important role he will play for Michigan. Who do you think the #3 guy will be?
Tate vs. Denard -- I went to the spring game, and as a result I am all about Tate. When I started playing the video game, I started Tate without hesitation. He is a more accurate passer in the game (probably in real life as well) but a considerably slower runner. The thing is, when you are playing a really tough defense you need some big plays to sway the outcome. I found myself putting in Denard on some key plays to run the option, or just buy some extra time to get someone open. Denard seems to get himself into some big collisions while scrambling, and if I run out of bounds and try to slide he's ok. All in all both QB's are great for true freshman, and I am happy to be able to cheer for both this year. I am now confused about who should really start in real life. Tate offers better throwing skills, but Denard has a much better ability to make really big plays in the air and on the ground. RR has got his work cut out for him deciding who will start. Who do you think will start the majority of games this year?
Tay Odoms is a pimp. I came away last year feeling like all Tay did was fumble and get blasted, and every once in a while he showed flashes of brilliance. In the game, it is extremely apparent that he is the biggest playmaker on the team. Out of every weapon that Michigan has to use this year, Tay is head and shoulders above the rest. He needs to get his hands on the ball as much as possible, and any play can become a big one when he's involved. I still don't know if he should return punts, but my confidence in him has grown as a result of really getting into this year's roster. Do you see a bigger playmaker in this offense?
The defense will be fine. I spent some time playing the 4-3 under with Stevie at the WLB, and he makes plays on the backside because he is so fast. However, when a team lines up and runs right at him he gets blown back, and so I ended up using Evans, Mouton and Ezeh at the LB spots. I actually like to play with Craig Roh at the "quick" - he is a playmaker. Brandon Smith (how many Brandons are there on this team?) is really good in the game, and I hope he is half as good in real life. Donnavan Warren will break out this year. He will have multiple INT's this year, and I bet he will return one for 6 as well. Every game I play Donnavan makes big plays that change things. Obi Ezeh still has trouble with intermediate routes, but scheming can help support that. I really think GERG has a bettter idea of how to hide weakness and play to the guys' strengths. Will Campbell should start from day one. He is big and inexperienced, but playing him beside Mike Martin is deadly. He might as well get thrown right in and learn quickly, because he is really athletic for his ginormousness. (like that word?) Do you think the defense will show improvement from last year, or will they struggle with a 3rd scheme in as many years?
The schedule - The opener is a tough game, but WMU ends up not being able to keep up after a half of close play. Notre Dame is really good, but if we can shut down the run and double Golden Tate we can win this one handily. It really helps that this game is in Ann Arbor. MSU is easily defeated, and I don't think they will be half as good as the media portends. Really, there are only three games that are tough as nails to win. Illinois, Penn State, OSU. I really think that Michigan will go 9-3 this year. I think that they will win one of the three tough games, and lose one of the easier 9 games. I think that Tate&Denard will both start, get nicked up, make it through the season, and win games for us. Call me crazy, but I'm sticking to it until I see the team in person on Sept. 5th. I Can't wait, and at least this game is helping me deal with the time as it passes. Go Blue!!!!!!!
This is a drastic departure from my previous diary entry (thanks for the all the love btw) but an item on the message board this evening piqued my interest and sent some of my right-brain synapses firing.
The answer to MMBhorn's question is Big Boutros' suggestion: The Ecstasy of Gold.
While it's not a "jump around" type song, it's perfect for specific situations such as second half kick off or key second half defensive series (ala Iowa '97). The song has a mountain of intensity behind it for fans to get amped up and scream their asses off and for players to get hocked up on adrenaline and unleash some Barwis-esque fury at some poor unfortunate on the opposition.
There's also actually a football tie-in for this song. It was featured in a Nike Football commercial a year or two ago with Troy Polamalu and LaDainian Tomlinson:
Additionally, there's a hip-hop connection; Jay-Z used it in a track on 2002's Blueprint 2. The track was also called Blueprint 2 and was on the second disc (hmmm, the number 2 comes up again and again weird...). While this isn't a reason for consideration per se, it does at least provide something current for the student section and players alike to relate to.
Finally and most importantly, while the lyrics and song aren't Jay-Z's finest there are many lyrics that could be forged into descriptors and anthems for the past/current/future state of Michigan Football once you absract the subjects and/or objects in the phrases. Gems like:
"Y'all and your articles, hard to spit at Jay
Y'all from afar threw darts my way
What you thought, I would naught have nothing to say? Nope!
"And now you'se can't leave
You opened the door dog, I'm at you annually"
"It's time to wake up the dead
You sound a little naive in them articles that I read"
"I've been real all my life, they confuse it with conceit
Since I will not lose, they try to help him cheat
But I will not lose, for even in defeat
There's a valuable lesson learned, so it evens it up for me"
"When the grass is cut, the snakes will show..."
"I'm back before you had a chance to miss me
ma' can't save you this time, n***** is history..."
"I won't rest till you on one knee
You want war then war's gonna be..."
Not to mention the many overtones of the title: Blueprint 2. C'mon, it's too perfect...
Now, obviously an all out rap song (a dis no less) will have many stone cold traditionalists in the Michigan community all up in a tizzy. That's what makes 'The Ecstasy of Gold' such a perfect basis: it provides a link from the old to the new. It has passion; It has swagger; and the music provides a perfect fit for the musicianship and sound of the Michigan Marching Band. This must happen.
(God I'm so ready for some Michigan football)
[EDIT: I removed the $ from the O$U title on the diary link after I realized the negative implications of such an oversight on my part.]
I only post this to give an idea of what the bucknuts are up to down south. In no way do I approve of their institution.
The Wall Street Journal did an Expo on the buckeyes a couple of years back. This is a direct cut and paste from that article: (hope this doesn't offend any blog rules. If it does, I apologize and will remove this content immediately).
The Wall Street Journal Online - By Jon Weinbach
At $109,382,222 for the current year [ed: 2007-2008], Ohio State's athletic budget is the largest in the nation and the biggest in the history of college sports. It allows the school to field 36 varsity teams in everything from baseball and soccer to riflery and synchronized swimming. The school spends about $110,000 on each of its 980 athletes, which is triple the amount the university spends per undergraduate on education.
The budget for this academic year allots $65,000 in private jet time, or roughly 11 hours, to men's basketball coach Thad Matta for recruiting trips over 200 miles -- and a further 15 hours of jet time for the coach's personal travel. A just-completed $19.5 million renovation of the football team's practice facility, funded with a large donation from Limited Brands Chief Executive Leslie Wexner, added a players-only entrance, a lounge that has six flat-panel TVs, three videogame systems and a juice bar. "There's always a race to get up there after practice," says Jake Ballard, a sophomore tight end for the football team that enters this weekend ranked No. 1 in the country.
The men's and women's ice-hockey teams train on a $75,000 hockey treadmill that features a lubricated, ice-like surface that tilts at sharp angles and goes as fast as 16 miles per hour. Men's hockey coach John Markell solicited a donor to buy the equipment, which he says has become a key part of players' workouts. It's a machine most college teams -- and even many National Hockey League clubs -- haven't purchased. "We don't have the space or resources for that," says a spokesman for the Anaheim Ducks, last season's Stanley Cup champions.
Here in Columbus, the OSU athletic department is a gold-plated island in a region getting roiled by harsh economic forces. The lavish program is the most vivid example of how college sports have turned into a humongous business and created a parallel universe of high-living in the world of academia. OSU's athletic budget, which has grown 46% in five years, has expanded despite a prolonged downturn in the Ohio economy and several rounds of public-funding cuts to higher education. The state's median household income fell 9.3% between 2000 and 2005, one of the worst declines for any state during that span.
Foreclosures and Poverty
Ohio has the nation's highest rates for foreclosures and delinquent mortgages, and during the second quarter of 2007, 22.9% of Ohio homeowners with subprime loans were over 90 days late -- almost twice the national average, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association in Washington, D.C. The state is home to two of the five poorest cities in America -- Cleveland and Cincinnati, both of which had more than 25% of residents living below the poverty line in 2006, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Ohio has been ravaged by the struggling U.S. auto industry and the forces of globalization. From 2000 to 2006, the state lost about 200,000 manufacturing jobs and added just 40,000 new positions to offset the decline. Companies such as Mr. Coffee, Rubbermaid and Hoover closed plants and shifted production abroad.
From 2002 to 2005, the Ohio Legislature decreased annual support for the state's universities. In response, OSU instituted its highest annual tuition increases in nearly 40 years, boosting rates nearly 60% from 2002 to 2006.
Ohio State was one of just 19 schools to turn a profit on athletics in 2006, according to data collected by the NCAA. OSU says its athletic department is self-sufficient -- it uses sports revenues to pay for its teams and operations. It doesn't draw from the same budget that's used to fund academic departments. How much the athletic department spends is determined by how much it brings in, not by how much the university decides to give it. A 2005 economic-impact study, commissioned by OSU, estimated that the school's sports program pumps over $100 million a year into the local economy, with more than a third coming from Buckeyes fans' spending on hotels, food, parking and shopping.
In a sports-mad country, why Columbus? The alma mater of track star Jesse Owens, golfer Jack Nicklaus and basketball Hall of Famer John Havlicek, Ohio State has a long history of passionately supporting its athletes. OSU's teams are the premier sports attraction in Columbus, Ohio's state capital and biggest city, and the school has the largest enrollment in the country, with more than 52,000 students. TV broadcasts of OSU games routinely attract 60% of all local viewers, and in Columbus, the OSU football coach's Sunday-morning chat show gets better ratings than "Meet the Press."
Supporting the program is seen as a civic virtue. Over the past five years, giving to the Buckeye Club has increased an average of 12%. The booster club's membership of nearly 3,700 is up 32% from 2003. In addition to Mr. Wexner, a 1959 OSU graduate, prominent donors include Robert Schottenstein, CEO of M/I Homes Inc., one of the country's largest home builders.
The enormous financial rewards for successful programs have fueled an arms race among schools to build larger, more lavish venues that can ring up millions from luxury suites and sponsors. Over the past five years, schools in the NCAA's top six sports conferences raised more than $3.9 billion for new sports facilities, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.
At Oklahoma State, oil and hedge-fund mogul T. Boone Pickens gave $30 million to renovate the football stadium, and put his name on it. He has also committed $165 million more to build an "athletics village" on campus. Nike founder Phil Knight recently donated $100 million to Oregon's athletic department, which plans to use the money as a safety net to cover potential operating losses. The department still plans to ask for public funds to build a $200 million basketball arena.
Other big spenders include the University of Texas-Austin, which has the nation's second largest sports budget at $107.6 million, although it fields 16 fewer teams than Ohio State. Last year, the Longhorns' athletic department paid $152,585 for nutritional supplements like Gatorade and PowerBars.
The football and men's basketball programs at OSU are the only sports there that turn a profit -- and their revenues support teams other universities have eliminated for lack of funding. "We never want to get into the business of taking opportunities away from students," says Gene Smith, OSU's athletic director.
Ohio State's varsity synchronized swimming team competes in a two-year-old, $20 million facility, nicknamed the "Taj Mahal," that features seven bodies of water and two whirlpools for athletes to relax in during competitions. A multimillion-dollar renovation of the school's "Scarlet" golf course, completed last year and overseen by Mr. Nicklaus, added a short-game practice area and enlarged the course to over 7,400 yards. OSU's pistol team maintains a supply of about 30 firearms for the team's 11 members, and all shooters receive an array of free Nike gear, including polo shirts, a jacket and shoes. "We're a good-looking team," says James Sweeney, OSU's pistol coach since 1999. This year, for the first time ever, OSU's rifle and pistol teams received scholarship money to recruit top competitors.
At other schools, there is a more Darwinian approach to smaller sports. Last year, Rutgers cited budget shortfalls for its decision to cancel six sports, including swimming, men's tennis and fencing. But the athletic department still gave assistant football coaches a sizable raise, completed a $12.5 million renovation of football's training complex, and is in the midst of a stadium renovation that will add nearly 10,000 seats.
At Ohio State, "nonrevenue" sports such as men's lacrosse and women's track don't have to worry about earning their funding. Excluding football and basketball, OSU's other 34 teams generate about $1.5 million in revenue. Last year, for example, expenses for the women's hockey team totaled a little over $1.2 million while the sport brought in just $1,642, all of it from arena concessions. Many sports, including rifle, pistol, and women's fencing, don't contribute any revenue at all. "I'm sure my scholarship is possible because of the football team," says Lindsay Quintiliani, a sophomore goalie on the field hockey team.
Last season, Ohio State's football program generated about $57 million in revenue. The sum included a $4.75 million payment from the NCAA for advancing to the national championship game and $31.65 million in ticket sales from home games at Ohio State's 105,000-seat stadium. Team expenses, which include nearly $2 million for meals and travel, as well as debt payments to cover stadium renovations, subtracted about $21 million. Still, football supplied nearly $36 million in profit to the athletic department's coffers. The University of Florida, which beat OSU for the national championship in January, made about $34 million on football last year.)
OSU's men's basketball team, which moved into a new, 19,500-seat arena in 1998, advanced to last year's national championship game and turned a record $9 million profit.
A significant chunk of the athletic department's budget is spent in ways that benefit the school's general fund. This year, the athletic department will spend $12 million on scholarships or "Grantin- Aid" to pay for athletes' tuitions. A few years ago, the department contributed $5 million to help fund renovations to the campus's main library. OSU's sports program is also among the few that pays for all maintenance, security and operating costs at its facilities. (The utilities bill at the football stadium last year: $731,309.) In addition, the athletic department transfers about $1.7 million to the school's academic-support center to pay for tutors and "life skills" workshops for athletes. "I think we're paying somebody $25 an hour to tutor physics," says Mr. Smith.
Last year, the issue of swelling athletic-department budgets was taken up in Washington by the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee. In a strongly worded letter to NCAA President Myles Brand, former Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas criticized "highly paid coaches with no academic duties," and wrote that Division I football and men's basketball "more closely resemble professional sports than amateur sports."
Judy Bunting oversees OSU's 46 cheerleaders and four student mascots. Her team gets about $169,000 from the athletic department, and supplements it with interest income from a special endowment established by a donor a few years go. "We probably have more scholarship money than most," says Ms. Bunting. In contrast to the spirit squads at Notre Dame and UCLA, OSU's cheerleaders get seats on the football's team's chartered jets. "That's a big plus," she says. "We used to drive vans and fly commercial."
cheerleaders get seats on the football's team's chartered jets. "That's a big plus," she says. "We used to drive vans and fly commercial."
I have to admit that I am starting to get a little annoyed with seeing players out of Cass Tech considering Sparty and others ahead of Michigan. I hope this doesn't start happening too consistently. I understand that we are a national recruiting power, but it just annoys me when you start hearing Sparty fans get cocky because they think they own the state of Michigan when they get a few top recruits out of the state. If Mathis does go elsewhere, we are really going to need to reel in some big recruits in the secondary to fill out the roster.
Also, it has been quite a while since I have posted anything on here, so I was not sure why I was not allowed to post this on the message board. Sorry I made it a diary entry, but I didn't know if there had been some changes made or not.
Anyway, any information on Mathis? I hope he is trying to throw everybody off like Big Will was doing last year.