national champs baby
angry michigan BLANK hating god
Rodriguez's latest press conference has revealed that Angry Michigan Offensive-Line-Hating God has seen fit to dislocate Mark Ortmann's elbow. He's out for about three weeks. Cue the skull-heavy, foreboding painting:
Mmmm, undead beef jerky. Also: now what?
Bryant Nowicki isn’t Belgium’s famous painter but he is Michigan’s soon-to-be famous planet-sized walk-on starter at left tackle. When he came off the bench to replace Ortmann I deeply regretted the demise of the free programs that were so essential for figuring out which obscure player just made a special teams gaffe or, like, is our freakin’ left tackle. Then I saw Nowicki talking to David Molk and it was weird that one of our OL made another of our OL look like Martavious Odoms. Then I deeply regretted Michigan’s offensive line recruiting over the past five years. Then Nowicki played pretty decently.
So what’s the deal?
Nowicki was a recruit who drew interest from a bunch of schools early because he was 6’9” and football-sized but didn’t pick up a D-I offer. Some local I-AA and D-II schools did offer, but Nowicki picked a preferred walk-on spot at Michigan over toiling at SVSU or wherever.
This is his third year against Michigan, during which time he’s lost around 40 pounds and learned not to squint in photographs:
He saw action in two blowouts—Notre Dame and Minnesota—last year. ESPN, surprisingly, scouted him. Upshot:
He can be a dominant blocker in a restricted area. He has dropped weight between his junior and senior year, and is more effective dealing with moving targets. He is able to more consistently get a piece, but will still struggle in space. As a pass protector he struggles to reset his feet and has difficulty handling speed, but can mirror rushers in a short area. Nowicki is interesting because of his size, but he may not move well enough to play guard and may struggle with speed rushers at the tackle position.
He’s dropped 40 pounds, so maybe the movement has improved? I’ll attend to him closely in UFR. Chances he’s good are low, but he wasn’t an obvious sieve in the way Courtney Morgan was. That may be an effect of opponent and relative competence of the gentlemen around him.
No in-out since it’s the first one in a while, but a dossier of those in trouble:
MY FATHER has a shirt that says he’s my dad and points me out to various passers-by who notice it. This is not cool.
ANTONIO BASS’ TRAITOROUS KNEE. Bass was a high school quarterback who made Incredibly Surprising Quarterback Draws work with some regularity during his freshman season. He’d be a redshirt junior who couldn’t throw worth a lick but could be Pat White if his knee hadn’t exploded in a contact warmup drill. Preposterously, the injury was the worst knee injury Michigan football’s ever experienced and Bass’s career is over.
EAGLES FANS IN MAIZE. There was a smattering of boos at halftime, which is only barely acceptable when a team is clearly playing under its capabilities and even then it’s pretty dickish since no one’s getting paid. When no one from the fans to the coaches to the players knows what they can do, booing can only be the province of people who should exit the stadium like stray extra points.
(THE) GENERAL BLOODYMINDEDNESS OF (THE) UNIVERSE. The Year of Infinite Pain, The Horror, Josh Moore, the Bass thing above, the transfer of Jason Forcier just in time for him to watch Tavita Pritchard beat Oregon State, Mr. Plow’s departure to the maw of the Great Satan… I mean, come on.
WEST VIRGINIA. Make one funny move and we’ll hire Huggins to coach Grand Valley State.
THE SUN. By the time the game was over half the people in the stadium looked deep-fried and the other half had evaporated. Also it got in my eyes. Stupid sun.
THE 4-3 AGAINST A SPREAD. I thought we ditched this at the same time we ditched Jim Herrmann? At least Shafer got wise relatively quick and junked in in favor of nickel packages galore in the second half; though most credit the defensive line with the carnage wrought it was the secondary actually covering Johnson’s first and sometimes second reads that allowed the defensive line to exercise their constitutional right of assembly at the quarterback.
Not a great day to be out of pocket, as Rich Rodriguez’s brief media-talking time at the Brock Mealer charity bowling thing was unpleasantly newsy:
- Cory Zirbel’s knee injury is severe and he may miss the season.
- Terrence Robinson “tweaked” his knee and will be out “several weeks.”
As mentioned before, Zirbel’s injury strips the interior line of its one reasonable backup, as David Molk steps into the starting lineup. The next guy off the bench will be either a true freshman—probably Rocko Khoury—or a guy who was a defensive tackle until Zirbel went down. There’s zero margin for error here.
Robinson’s injury isn’t as bad with Martavious Odoms, Sam McGuffie, and Michael Shaw all impressing. It is still not fun times.
Angry Michigan Safety Hating God is wroth at the hockey team for some reason. First, Kolarik went down, then Scooter Vaughn (in one of the all-time stupid Michigan hockey injuries, up there with Josh Blackburn slipping on a nut when carrying a fridge), and now Eric Elmblad may have broken Matt Rust. Yost Built:
Rivals reported yesterday that he went knee-to-knee with Eric Elmblad and apparently Red will update his status after practice today. Keep your fingers crossed on this one, because rumors are swirling that he has a broken leg.
There is a chunk of good news:
Senior Chad Kolarik, who has been sidelined since suffering a hamstring injury against Lake Superior State Feb. 16, is "99-percent sure" he'll play in Friday's game. He resumed skating with the team last Tuesday.
"I'm just getting my hands back, getting my endurance back," he said yesterday. "I'm feeling a lot better today. I was pretty excited out there, having a good time and joking around."
That article has some noises by Vaughn about trying to go this weekend, too, but those are shot down by Red. He might be back for the Joe, though. Also mentioned: the possibility of moving Hagelin to center in Rust's absence. I've been idly thinking about the composition of next year's top line: Pacioretty is obviously on it, and since Palushaj seemed much more effective with Porter and Patch than Turnbull he's probably next. But who centers? Bork? Bork. Either him or Caporusso, who seems wasted playing with Turnbull and Miller and Fardig and such on the third line, no offense to those fine penalty-killing wingers.
Anyway, the Nebraska-Omaha series opens tomorrow at Yost.
Victory! Michigan's road to San Antonio began today with a thrilling 6-4 victory over Iowa that featuerd a 12-minute field goal drought for both teams combined. Prediction for tomorrow's game against Wisconsin (noon, ESPN): Michigan 7,000, Wisconsin 5. Suck on that, BAD-gers. Zing! (UMHoops on the win-like substance.)
Also, confirmed white guy Kyle Cassity has been offered. You'll love this bit:
In addition to Michigan, Cassity has indicated that he also plans to visit both St. Louis and Evansville, with the possibility of a couple other visits being worked out after that. Nevertheless, a school that we believe is also very much in the picture for Cassity and cannot be counted out is Southern Illinois (Carbondale), as both head coach Chris Lowery and assistant coach Rodney Watson have been in frequent contact with Cassity and have expressed a high level of interest. While the Salukis are currently out of scholarships for the class of 2008, Cassity is without question Southern Illinois' #1 recruiting priority should something open up in that class. Even if it does not, there is still a strong possibility that Cassity could receive preferred walk-on status at SIU next season with the understanding that a scholarship would be available for him for the three years following that.
Why go to Michigan when you can be a preferred walk-on at Southern Illinois? In Soviet Russia, walk-on recruits you! What a country!
There's some speculation that Cassity hasn't actually actually been offered offered and that Michigan still prefers Georgia's Ebuka Anyaorah (given Beilein's tendencies and that guy's name, I should clarify that we're talking about Georgia the state, not Georgia the country), even though Anyaorah couldn't come on a scheduled visit.
And hey, that guy who was the crown jewel of Harvard's recruiting class decided he didn't want to spend four years thinking "for God's sake, put on a tie" and decommitted. Apparently West Virginia was on this guy previously, and we could use another post, no? For those doubting his ability to play at a Big Ten level, 1) alternative: Zack Gibson, 2)
Jackson said that in the past day, he had received calls from Connecticut, Boston College, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, DePaul and Rutgers about Ben-Eze's availability.
A final note in picture form:
That's from Spartans Weblog and is a game-by-game plot of Michigan's offensive and defensive efficency with a corresponding trendline. Is there improvement here? Defensively, it appears so. Offensively... no. And you should keep in mind that Michigan's schedule was heavily frontloaded; this does not appear to be the trajectory of a team on the upswing.
Etc.: Junior day is today; Varsity Blue has it covered.
OSU fans are, as you might expect, displeased with the Pryor items over the last couple days:
Leading the charge in trying to unravel something is MGoBlog, which is really a shame, because Brian has spent the better part of the past two weeks railing against the "jihad" WVU has launched against Rodriguez.
Two major differences: I am not a member of the Michigan athletic department with a credulous reporter in hand, and I am not making obviously false statements like "it's like nothing ever existed." I am making a fairly logical leap from "OSU fans are basically Alabamans" and "OSU coaches are having dinner with a guy who lets Pryor borrow his Corvette" to "something fishy is going on." Point the second has been covered over the past couple days and has been confirmed by Jeanette locals, OSU's Scout site, and Scout guru Bob Lichtenfels.
Point the first: Basically Alabama. Ohio State boosters are awesome. Local dealerships are exceptionally generous with their test-drive programs:
Clarett sat out the 2003 season after he was charged with misdemeanor falsification for filing a police report claiming that more than $10,000 in clothing, CDs, cash and stereo equipment was stolen from a car he borrowed from a local dealership. He later pleaded guilty to a lesser charge.
Ohio State suspended Clarett for misleading investigators, and for receiving special benefits worth thousands of dollars from a family friend.
"Family friend" indeed. A poor kid from Youngstown in his first year in Columbus just happens to have a close personal friend who owns a car dealership.
You can find super-awesome jobs:
During his sophomore season, after he claimed the starting quarterback job and beat Michigan â€” a feat that cinches your celebrity in Columbus â€” he walked into a local health-care provider looking for a summer job and came out carrying an envelope with $500 in it. The cash was given to him by an Ohio State season-ticket holder named Robert Q. Baker, who bragged to co-workers that he owned Smith.
You can find a place to live:
Salyers claims the Roslovics reneged on a verbal agreement, allegedly orchestrated by then Ohio State assistant coach Paul Biancardi, to pay her $1,000 a month plus reimburse expenses if she would provide for Savovic during his time at Ohio State. In depositions, Salyers describes how over a four-year period she became a surrogate mother to Savovic, giving him food, shelter, clothing, transportation, spending money and other expenses.
(It should be noted, given the OSU denials later in that article, that Savovic was later declared ineligible and OSU was forced to vacate the games he played.)
There's a pattern of behavior here even if you don't include the documentation of widespread academic fraud in the New York Times, the Maurice Clarett ESPN the Magazine story, and the $3000 AJ Hawk just happened to have lying around. (I know Hawk looks like a caveman, but he's probably heard of a bank.) It involves Ohio State fans with lots of money ignoring NCAA regulations. Sure, all these things could be a completely innocent athletic department beset on all sides by those who would destroy it without cause. Occam's razor says otherwise.
(No doubt this assertion will draw "OMG Ed Martin" responses from the yokel crowd. 1) Ed Martin is not a pattern, he's a dead guy. 2) Martin was a Detroit numbers-runner looking to ingratiate himself with local basketball talent and maybe launder a few hundred grand or so, not a super-enthusiastic booster. Until Martin was provided gratis Final Four tickets he had no connection with the program. You are comparing one outlier with no real interest in Michigan's athletic program except as the most conveniently local source of potential NBA players to a pattern of malfeasance; you are stupid.)
Ohio State fans saying "I'm shocked, shocked!" when the pristine reputation of their athletic department is brought into question is somewhere between comical and infuriating. Please. Just because you've managed to rationalize it away doesn't mean everyone else has to.
Does it matter in the long run? Likely no. The NCAA has all the investigative might of Inspector Clouseau. The appearance of funny stuff will remain but an appearance.
The bigger issue here is Pryor's eligibility. Michigan fans remember the glorious three-month period when Kevin Gaines wasn't a psychopath, Jamal Crawford was eligible, and Michigan basketball looked like it was on the upswing under Brian Ellerbe of all people, and cringe. This is what happened to young Jamal:
Jamal Crawford is a rookie with the Chicago Bulls and making a lot of money. But Crawford still wishes he was playing basketball at Michigan.
"I miss college a lot," he said. "I live in a college area now because I like to be around college kids."
Crawford felt trapped last year when he decided to leave Michigan following his freshman season.
He already had served an eight-game suspension for one mistake -- sending the NBA a letter that said he intended to enter the 1999 draft before he enrolled in college. He had missed six other games and was ordered to repay $15,000 in benefits to a Seattle businessman, whom he had lived with for three years during high school. The NCAA later said he could give $11,300 to the charity of his choice. If he didn't pay, Crawford would lose his eligibility.
The infinite kindness of the NCAA: instead of paying the Seattle businessman 15 grand you don't have, you can give Jerry's Kids 11 grand you don't have. Crawford entered the draft, blew up at a pre-draft camp, and was picked 8th overall as Michigan fans clutched their head between their knees in a futile attempt to keep it from exploding.
Crawford was a nice kid with a lack of foresight who got offered stuff and, as most people would, accepted. Pryor's been offered stuff and has evidently accepted. How much stuff and how much of a paper trail there is will determine if the NCAA comes knocking.
It would be just like Angry Michigan Safety Hating God to allow Pryor to commit to Michigan, start six games his freshman year, and then have the NCAA pull a Crawford; this is kind of what I expect to happen because recent experience has taught me that this is what I should expect.
Status. There is an idea floating around that Michigan should sit Henne and/or Hart since Michigan is guaranteed a BCS slot with a win over Ohio State no matter what the outcome is against Wisconsin. This is, IMO, crazy, since the outcome of the Wisconsin game is important either way -- is the difference between 9-3 and 8-4 a big deal? 10-2 and 9-3? -- and the chances either's preparation for the Ohio State game is adversely affected are extremely low. FWIW, Carr on the duo:
Asked about the injured players' status on "Michigan Replay," Carr had few doubts about Hart.
"I don't think you're going to keep him out of this one," Carr said of the Wisconsin game.
When cohost Jim Brandstatter asked about Henne, Carr hesitated but endorsed him too, saying, "Absolutely. He finished the game, didn't he?"
Henne reiterated that stance at yesterday's press conference:
Two days after self-diagnosing his health at 80 percent in East Lansing, Michigan quarterback Chad Henne said his separated throwing shoulder from the Illinois game is almost back to full strength.
Henne added at yesterday's press conference that he'll "definitely" play this weekend against Wisconsin.
"It feels really good," Henne said. "I got treatment this morning, and everything has definitely gotten a lot tighter, and it feels a lot better. Obviously it's going to move around a little bit, but right now, it's not really moving around at all and it's back to normal."
Hart, for his part:
"It's the last two games of my career... I'm not missing anything."
McGuffie aaah. Seven minutes of video fluff on Sam McGuffie:
Several of those runs are new even for those who have memorized the mixtape.
Badgerhawk down. Wisconsin CB Allen Langford and DT Jason Chapman are definitely out for the game Saturday; another key Badger may join them:
University of Wisconsin Head Football Coach Bret Bielema is not sure if running back P.J. Hill can play in Saturday's home finale against Michigan. The sophomore starter missed last weekend's loss at Ohio State with a bruised left leg. Bielema said Hill's condition got worse late last week and he has no idea how things will progress.
Hill got progressively more concerning as Jehuu Caulcrick pounded through the Michigan line time and again; if he's gimpy that will help.
Oh, so stupid. I'll keep it brief since this is football season and you probably don't care about this stuff: that McCosky guy with the inadvisable mustache wrote an anti-blog screed in the Free Press. Thunderous accusation leveled:
A lot of times these bloggers use the work of legitimate reporters. They will lift facts and segments of stories and cut and paste them onto their blog. Rarely, if ever, though, do they bother to credit the source.
Second thunderous accusation leveled:
Bloggers are having a field day speculating on how Joel Zumaya really injured his shoulder. Nobody believes a heavy box fell on him. So the Internet is rife with stories about how he fell off his dirt bike.
Links to blogs (or even mentions of specific offending blogs) provided: zero. Why is this? Um... because no Tigers bloggers even so much as mentioned the dirtbike rumor:
I also wonder where in the world he got this idea that blogs were all over pushing some random dirt bike story. Like I said, he wouldn't have got the idea here. He wouldn't have got it from Billfer or from Ian or from Kurt or from Lee or my main man Matt or from any of the major Tigers blogs. I haven't been keeping up on them lately but I don't even think Deadspin reported anything about dirt bikes.
I checked Motown Sports which is, let's admit it, the only Tigers message board worth looking at, and sure enough I found this thread talking about it. Two seconds of reading made it clear that the dirt bike rumor originated from the COMMENTS SECTION of something posted at ESPN.com.
McCosky's title: "bloggers just aren't journalists." Yes. That's the point.