There has been a crap-ton of commentary about the scheduling of UConn. This Diary attempts to address the issues most people aren't grasping regarding Michigan's future schedule.
For those thinking we need a (currently) elite team (eg, UF, OU, USC etc.) b/c of the new stadium reno and we're the 'leaders&best':
On Oct. 1, 1927, Michigan played Ohio Wesleyan in the first game at Michigan Stadium. The game was a success as Michigan started the scoring on a 28-yard pass from Louis Gilbert to tight end Kip Taylor and prevailed easily, 33-0. The new stadium was dedicated three weeks later against Ohio State on Oct. 22, 1927.in 2010, I imagine the dedication will be against MSU. A UConn level opponent is not out of character for an opening game.
For those thinking that we need to schedule like we did in the 80s and 90s:
I don't know what else to tell you besides, welcome to 2009. PSU is a member of the B10. The BCS exists. We have ND as our opponent every year. The AD budget is about $90M per year. UCONN is a D1A team and in fact has shared a BEast title and gone to bowl games. They have been D1A since 2000 and a BEast football member since 2004. All these facts describe the current climate of college football: teams are scheduling weaker. For money reasons, EVERY D1A team wants to have as many home games as possible. So, even if M wanted to schedule a decent team, they would require a return trip, *IF* that other team doesn't already have a good OOC opponent and would want to play M in addition to any other big game they scheduled for year X.
- b/c of money issues, EVERY BCS conf. team is demanding home games. Whether or not you think of UConn as a BCS team, based on the definition of "is," it is.
- b/c of the BCS MNC format, teams who schedule 2-3-4 BCS opponents in the OOC are jeopardizing their chances at playing in the BCS MNC game. The notable exceptions reside in the Pac10 where they only play 3 OOC games in most cases. This is commendable, and I'd love to explore this further in the comments. Note, however, that most of the Pac10 teams look for mostly low-mid level BCS OOC opponents. Just. like. UConn.
For those thinking that the schedule is easy in 2010:
We play ND, PSU and OSU on the road in 2010. @ND is the 2nd game of the season, IIRC. UConn is a solid BCS team. Not great, but not terrible. They have been a better team than Vandy, Wazzu, Washington (!), Iowa State, Duke, North Carolina... I'll let others make a bigger list.
For those complaining that the HOME schedule is crappy in 2010:
I don't hear you bitching about the home schedule in odd numbered years when you get ND, PSU and OSU all at home. There are 2 sides to the coin. The AD is under no obligation to give you a better home schedule in even years. If you think you they should charge you less for season tickets in even years, then volunteer to pay MORE in odd years.
This all isn't to say that I want a weak schedule. I'd love to play CU, ND, BC, FSU and Miami (YTM) like back in the day. But, it's 2009. Things have changed in CFB (e.g., UConn is as good if not better than CU) and it's not Bill Martins' fault for any of this. People just need to recognize the reality of the situation.
Boise State has supposedly inked a deal with Virginia Tech to play the Hokies on September 4 next year.
Kind of a bummer. I had my hopes up for this one. I hope that we will still get a big name for the opener. Next year's home schedule is in serious need of a great home game other than Michigan State. The other two out-of-conference home games are Bowling Green and UMass.
We can debate all we want how much we like our non-conference schedule, but today ESPN called us out, calling us part of the "Little Five," and labeling us the easiest schedules in the nation this year. Along with Michigan, Indiana, Northwestern, Wisconsin, and Penn State get named. Illinois gets complimented for having a top 10 schedule. You can read more in the link.
I understand the revenue flow, but we have to split it with 11 teams anyway, Lets go get our one big game back, especially with Notre Dame being a power ranking drag every year.
With 10 games down, I figured I’d take a look at where we are, what we’ve done and where we’re going. Instead of waiting until after non-conference is over, I figured now would be a good time to take a look at the team, especially since we essentially have two tune up games before Wisco, providing a nice spot in the schedule to analyze where we stand prior to Big Ten season. First looking back at the first 10. Resume? We’re 8-2 with wins over #4 UCLA (who looks to be more of a 15ish team) and #4 Duke (who looks to be every bit of their ranking after destroying Xavier today). Losses to Duke on a neutral court and at Maryland. After several Top 25 teams losing this week, we’re almost for sure ranked come Monday. Minnesota and Miami are likely to join us. Instead of taking a game-by-game look at the first third of the season, I’m going to point out some stuff about the players. We’ll start at the top with Manny Harris.
Manny has simply been amazing thus far. He’s really been an All-American player through 10 games. He started the season with a career high 30-point effort, however today may have been his best game in his collegiate career: 15pts, 13 asts, 0 turns. Let me type that again: Thirteen assists, zero turnovers. Excellent. Manny has one of the quickest first steps I’ve seen at Michigan and there isn’t much he hasn’t done well this season.
DeShawn Sims is a man-child that can score at will. Okay, that may be a stretch. However, Peedie has been great in the last several games. He had another 20-point game today (he’s averaging 20.2 in the last 5 games). He also continues to rebound well. Nobody this season has been able to check him and his continued production will be huge when teams collapse on Manny.
Javohn Shephard has finally found a role (or JB has found a role for him) and he’s really beginning to excel in it. We’re clearly a small team, but having Javohn in the starting lineup takes some rebounding pressure off of Sims. Also, he’s our best OTB defender so when we are playing man he is pivotal in locking up the other team’s 2/3.
Douglass/Novak: These two have found excellent roles on this team. Stu struggled for a few games but has re-found his shooting touch, which IMO is crucial for this team’s success. Novak may be the better all-around player, but I think that bringing Novak off the bench is a great weapon – he’s the quintessential energy man. He rebounds, plays D, and hits big 3s. In order to be able to do that we need Douglass to be playing well, and he had a very nice game today. We saw the two on the floor together today, for I believe the first time. Oakland dropped to a zone so JB spread the floor with Stu and Zack, which allowed Manny to drive and dish. The result? Thirteen assists, zero turnovers.
Merritt/Lee/Grady/LLP: As a unit the PGs continue to improve with each game. That’s been pivotal in the team’s success. No matter who’s out there it seems that they can get their job done. Merritt runs the offense well, Lee plays strong D when called upon, and Grady has shown the ability to break down defenses off the dribble and hit some big shots (although he still takes some ill-advised deep treys). LLP showed today (4-6 from distance) that he’s going to be a factor and we can expect him to continue to improve and contribute.
Gibson/Wright: The only down point of the season has been the play of these two. Wright lost his starting gig to Shep and his minutes have dwindled since (he didn’t see the floor today). Gibson continues to disappoint on the defensive end, struggling to get rebounds. There’s going to be points in the B10 season where we need these guys on the defensive end.
So after 10 games we’re looking far better than anyone expected. The thing I love most about this team is that everyone, for the most part, has seemed to find a role on the team and they seem to relish it. We need that selflessness to continue and the obvious improvement to keep coming once we start B10 play. And the best thing is that we have 2 fairly cupcake opponents to getting some things straightened out before Wisconsin. Here’s what I’m looking for in addition to the Wolverines improving their “Eagle Mark” (EMU, FGC, and NCC) to 3-0 on the season:
1. Manny’s minutes down. He’s averaging over 32 mpg. It would be nice to get Manny some rest and at the same time get LLP up to game speed. If LLP is going to be as good as everyone has predicted (and so far, so good) we need to get him some minutes and get him ready before a big game against Wisco.
2. Defense, specifically, man. The 1-3-1 has looked fairly consistent, but today our man defense left much to be desired. It’s got to improve. Oakland’s big man dropped 23 on us. We’re small and we’re going to struggle down low at times, there's no avoiding that. In these next two games I’d like to see Sims, Harris, Shephard, Wright, and Gibson dominate the paint and the boards. That shouldn't be asking much against the Eagles (x2), but still, domination requested. Which leads me to...
3. Zack Gibson. My homework for Zack is to watch 48 hours of Michigan legend Graham “Hambone” Brown. Get mad, get physical, and get on the boards. We are going to need Zack in the Big Ten to be physical and rebound much better than he has so far. Let’s see some of it in these next two games.
4. The other guys continue to do what you’re doing. Keep up working within your roles and keep getting better. It’s been fun to watch guys like Grady relish their roles and begin to learn how to best help the team win a game without trying to go beyond their roles. That’s the kind of teamwork that will win big games.
Quick aside: The Big Ten is really, really deep. Minnesota (after upsetting #9 Louisville and staying undefeated) could be ranked come Monday, as well as Wisco. MSU, Purdue, and OSU are all very good teams, and Illinois and NW are off to good starts. This leads me to the following standard schedule evaluation...
So, taking a look at our next 10 games:
12/22 – Florida Gulf Coast
12/29 – North Carolina Central
12/31 – Wisconsin
1/4 – Illinois
1/7 - @ Indiana
1/11 – Iowa
1/14 - @ Illinois
1/17 – Ohio State
1/20 - @ Penn State
1/24 – Northwestern
Looking at these games, I see a ton of opportunity. I don’t want to get cocky or look past anyone, but these are all winnable games. All games would expect us to win. There are three, possibly four toss-ups: Wisco, @ Ill, OSU, and @ PSU. The others we should be expected to win. Those four I still see us as favorites, even if just barely. The Big Ten is very deep this year though. Wisconsin may be ranked when we play them. OSU could be up around #15 as well. Illinois has also got off to a great start. It’s essential that we get off to a great start. Wisco will be a big challenge to start the Big 10 season. If we get past them, I like our odds to go atleast 8-2 in this stretch. And it is very important that we go somewhere around 8-2 in this stretch. This is certainly the easy stretch of our conference schedule. No Purdue, no MSU, no Minnesota, and OSU/Wisco at home. We need to do well in this stretch because the second half of the B10 season is pretty brutal:
That’s a tough finish to the season, specifically those first two games and the last three. So again, it is essential that we go atleast 7-3 in the next 10. Anything worse and we could be looking at an uphill battle for a tourney spot. BUT! I have confidence that we WILL go atleast 7-3. Like I said all of our next 10 games are winnable and we are likely the favorites, even if barely, in each game!
As long as we take care of these next two games and get some quality preperation in for Wisco and take care of business on New Year’s eve, I’m liking where we’re at. Go Blue!
Anybody more ambitious than I that can look up teams with open dates on Oct 17, 2009?
So ESPN compiled a list of nonconference games and ranked the BCS teams based on percentage. I'd just like to note that the SEC sucks.
The Big ten teams are ranked 6, 7, 9, 14, 17, 23, 24, 24, 41, 47, 60. northwestern and minnesota suck so you can't blame them, but wisconsin is embarrising. this is not news to anyone here.
The SEC teams are 18, 24, 33, 33, 33, 37, 43, 51, 52, 52, 56, 58.
What a fricken joke.
Half of the big ten is ranked higher than the highest sec team.
8 big ten teams are in the top half.
10 sec teams are in the bottom half.