this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
Brown, a sophomore from Franklin, Ga., broke his hand in practice this week and is expected to have surgery today.
"He's really disappointed," said Tim Barron, Brown's high school coach at Franklin Heard County. "But he's very upbeat."
There's no timetable given for his return, but a broken hand doesn't seem like a season-ending injury if past experiences -- like Tim Massaquoi's -- are any indication. (Hopefully the coaches won't start Brown and throw him three balls a game he understandably drops.) He might be okay for a midseason return.
As far as impact: Michigan is now frighteningly thin at tailback. Hart and Minor are one and two; true freshman Avery Horn is now the only other healthy tailback on the roster. Hart's been an adamantium workhorse two of his three seasons but was a frustrated observer for large sections of the Year of Infinite Pain. He's not indestructible. Also damaged: Michigan's prospects for an interesting return game. Brown was thought to be the frontrunner at KR and possibly PR; now Doug Dutch, Greg Mathews, and an array of true freshmen will duke it out. Hopefully Dutch can grab the job -- no offense to Mathews, but I didn't want to see Jason Avant return punts either.
There is the possibility of a redshirt here, which would probably be good for class balance purposes. Grady's enforced redshirt with his own medical issue has created a knot of three backs who will have junior eligibility next year. It would be good to get Brown an extra year so that the turnover isn't so great after '08. A lack of depth could nix that, however. Kevin Grady's rehab also becomes more important in case there are late-season injuries to Minor and/or Hart.
James McKinney's medical issue that had him off the roster but not necessarily off the team permanently has turned into a transfer:
James McKinney, a former U.S. Army All-American who starred at Louisville Central, has received his release from Michigan and is looking for a new home.
He's transferring to Louisville, which is odd since McKinney's trip to UL was perhaps the worst official visit in the history of official visits. He was kicked off campus after a night, supposedly because he was flaunting his desire to go to Michigan or some such thing. Carr refused to communicate any information about his "medical issue," but chances are it's not physical if McKinney's transferring away, especially back home.
Come on, you've got to be kidding me:
Two University of Michigan football players are facing trial next month, one of them for allegedly exposing himself to a female acquaintance inside Michigan Stadium.
Wide receiver LaTerryal Savoy was arraigned Wednesday on one count of indecent exposure, a misdemeanor that carries a maximum penalty of one year in jail and/or a $1,000 fine. His pretrial hearing was held today in Ann Arbor's 15th District Court, where a trial date was set for Sept. 21.
I... just keep your pants on. Meanwhile, we have a DUI:
Another player, linebacker Obi Ezeh, is charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated, a misdemeanor with a maximum penalty 93 days in jail and/or a $500 fine and/or 360 hours of community service.
Savoy, a redshirt sophomore, is at best the fourth wide receiver depending on how well the freshmen play, but Ezeh had been impressing many after a freshman year when he redshirted and had been moved to middle linebacker to compete for the starting job. Assuming Savoy hasn't made a Larry Harrison-esque habit of displaying his package, both are likely to receiver minor suspensions. The main on-field effect: Ezeh's chances of overtaking Johnny Thompson take a hit.
The most notable thing that came out of Mike Hart's mouth, and there were many of them, seems to have gone completely unnoticed by the media at large, who bunkered down and relayed Carr's traditional answer to questions of retirement:
"To the best of my knowledge, I'm healthy," said Carr, entering his 13th season as Michigan's head coach. "I don't think there's anything to that. At some point, we're going to all retire and there's always an appropriate time to speak to that issue." ...
"I heard that three or four years ago," Carr said. "I did have a birthday Monday. The older you get, the tougher it gets. Or the tougher you get. One or the other."
This led to a flurry of articles titled much like the above-cited Detroit News piece:
Carr again tackles rumors
Michigan coach, 62, disputes health concerns, says he has no timetable for when he'll retire.
The Free Press put up a Rosenberg column from before the Rose Bowl: "Carr Enjoying Himself Too Much To Retire." The AP had a more neutral article, but one that still focused on Carr's non-denials. But Hart let something slip in the process of demolishing Jim Harbaugh:
I meant to clip it shorter, but the Forcier slam is so relevant I let it go. Anyway, nestled in there: "He could of went... coached at San Diego State [sic], coached at Stanford for a year, and come here." Emphasis mine; [sic] because it was plain old San Diego, not SDSU. Hart tacitly acknowledges Carr's likely retirement in an unguarded moment that's probably more accurate than the vague lack of plans suggested above. Carr may not be retiring for sure, but he's leaning towards it.
(Sidenote: The AP article citing Hart's comments changes his quote!
"There's always a coaching ladder. He coached at San Diego and could have spent a (few) years at Stanford and maybe come to Michigan."
That "year" wasn't plural, you filthy press liars.)
Whenever this stuff comes up I cast my mind back to an interview I saw on local TV before the Ohio State game. I don't remember precisely who it was... maybe Eli Zaret, maybe that guy named "Bernie" whose last name I don't remember, but whoever the sportscaster was apparently managed to get an exclusive heart-to-heart interview with Carr by agreeing that said interview would take place on a golf course. And in this interview he was asked about the prospect of impending retirement. Carr was vague, but said he had a plan, and smiled, and seemed like a man ready to ride off into the sunset. Certain events could change his plan, but if there's an opportunity for him to go out on a good note -- beat OSU, win a BCS game -- I am confident he'll take it.
And then there's the rest of it. Pure smackdown. I addressed this earlier, when it came out; a brief recap:
- When Harbaugh asserts that the football players at Michigan don't end up in astrophysics, he's right.
- I don't have a problem with this. When your school is harder than Notre Dame, football players tend to cluster in the easier majors. This is because they are working a full-time year-round job in addition to being in school: duh. In addition, many football players come from bad high schools and are not admitted for their intelligence but rather their physical ability. Can we stop pretending that a random liberal arts degree is more useful to these players than their status as Michigan football players? We all want them to graduate, to show that they can function in the world well enough to get a degree, but they're learning more about how to succeed in the world by participating in a highly regimented athletics program than by writing a paper on Foucault.
- When Harbaugh followed that up with:
They're adulated when they're playing, but when they get out, the people who adulated them won't hire them.
...he crossed the line. Anyone who went to or watched the Bo memorial knows that there's a tremendous bond between Bo's players, the university itself, and its massive alumni community. Implying that Michigan just discards these guys to fend for themselves after screwing them for four years is obviously, patently untrue.
So, yeah, Hart and Carr were right to respond to Harbaugh's assertions harshly. Maybe "I wish he never went to Michigan" goes a bit too far, but, whatever. Harbaugh's shown himself a hypocrite with the Forcier transfer and is either ripping on his teammates from 20 years ago or the current players at Michigan, who he has no knowledge of. As soon as those words came out of his mouth every Notre Dame and Ohio State recruiter had forwarded them to every recruit considering Michigan. He clearly cares nothing for the fate of the program after being passed over for the quarterback coaching job, and more damning yet he's sticking to his guns. From the Jamie Morris article:
"I said, 'Jim, here's my question for you -- do you really believe the comments y
ou said, or are you saying them to make you look good?'â€‚" said Morris, who works in the Michigan athletic development department.
"He said, 'I believe them.' And I said, 'Would you have said it if (former Michigan coach) Bo (Schembechler) was alive?' He said, 'That's not the point.' And I said, 'That's exactly the point. You didn't hurt Michigan, you hurt your coach, and you hurt the guys you played with. These are the teammates you turned your back on.'â€‚"
Morris said Harbaugh became upset.
"We said, 'We're not friends anymore,'â€‚" Morris said. "â€‚'You lose my number, I lose yours.'â€‚"
Harbaugh also stuck to his assertion that Pete Carroll would be in the NFL next year. We'll see how that works out.
So, for the record, I have no respect left for Harbaugh either. The only person he's looking out for is himself, and in doing so he's harming the program that put him in a position to lose by 80 to USC this fall. I assume the reason is that he's just not that bright and doesn't realize how offensive his comments are -- he continues to poke the grizzly bear of college football with a stick despite being armed only with a pocket knife, albeit one with a really friggin' great SAT score -- and that he might come around and apologize at some future date. If so, fine. We're okay. But he's teetering on the edge. He's...
Elsewhere: MVictors says "over the line"; marks it zero. Autumn Thunder does its inimitable thing. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, where I stole the audio from, has 6 full minutes of Hart speaking plus Henne and
Carr Long interviews.
Everyone loves talking about conference realignment, it appears, but some really hate the idea of a conference championship game taking away some of the luster of Michigan-Ohio State or, worse, regularly pitting the Michigan-OSU winner against some goofy school in the Western half of the conference that may or may not be worth the bid.
I do agree with them, partially: there's no reason to go to divisions. Divisions will either split Michigan and Ohio State, leading to a lot of Michigan-Ohio State title games the week after Michigan-Ohio State non-title games, or keep them together, leading to a lot of Big 12-style title games that aren't fair fights or compelling matchups. Ideally, an expanded Big Ten will add a ninth conference game and continue with the single table for standings. This would make a title game a dodgy, sometimes unnecessary possibility. But since Penn State joined the conference there have been co-championships galore, sometimes without the co-champions even meeting, seemingly random Rose Bowl decisions, and a general feeling of being zo... unsatysfyed about half the time. Let's survey the years since Penn State joined to see if a championship game would be net benefit or detriment.
|Ohio State and Wisconsin are co-champions at 6-1-1 in conference; the two tie 14-14. Wisconsin goes to the Rose Bowl because Ohio State has been more recently.|
|Verdict: Obviously a championship game to break this deadlock is desirable, but this situation will never come up again with the introduction of overtime. Not relevant.|
|Undefeated Penn State is the outright champion. Nobody else finishes the regular season with fewer than four losses.|
|Verdict: A championship game would be unnecessary and, worse, would open up the possibility of a K-State-esque fall from glory from a team that had already proven its worth. No.|
|Northwestern's miracle year. They beat Notre Dame, then lose to Miami (Ohio) and sweep the rest of their schedule. They miss second place Ohio State, whose only regular season loss is to Michigan in the finale.|
|Verdict: Ohio State missed out on an opportunity to beat Northwestern head to head and claim the title. Yes, they lost in conference and Northwestern did not but in a hypothetical world where OSU got a ninth conference game against the Wildcats, if they won they would have the same record and a head-to-head tiebreaker. It would have been fairer to have the two play. Yes.|
|Northwestern's second miracle year; this time they tie for the conference championship with Ohio State, who again blow an undefeated season by losing to Michigan. Both teams are 7-1 this year, and the two don't play each other.|
|Verdict: Obvious benefit here. This, along with the coming Iowa-OSU shared title, are the platonic ideal when it comes to title games. Yes.|
|Michigan's national championship season. The Wolverines are undefeated. Penn State and Ohio State tie for second at 6-2. Michigan defeats both of them during the course of the year.|
|Verdict: Two contenders two games back who have already lost to the champion don't deserve a rematch. No.|
|A three-way tie between Michigan, Ohio State, and Wisconsin. All are 7-1. Wisconsin and Ohio State do not play. OSU's loss is to Michigan State, Michigan's is to Ohio State, and Wisconsin's is to Michigan. Wisconsin is chosen as the Rose Bowl representative for no apparent reason.|
|Verdict: This is an unfulfilling result. Wisconsin plays an easier schedule than Michigan, loses to them, and still goes to the Rose Bowl. Meanwhile, Ohio State beats the team that beat Wisconsin and still misses out. But how do you unravel the three-way-tie here? If both teams had beaten the other it's easy to excise the loser, but here we have an incomplete round-robin. If you go by overall record, 11-1 Wisconsin and 11-1 Ohio State win out but that just increases the incentive to fluff your schedule: Wisconsin played SDSU, Ohio, and UNLV out of conference while Michigan played Syracuse, ND, and EMU. Let's just throw up our hands and say maybe.|
|Wisconsin finally earns a Rose Bowl berth instead of having one handed to them by archaic bylaws by finishing 7-1. Their loss is to 6-2 Michigan, which ties for second with Michigan State. Wisconsin beats Michigan State, Michigan State beats Michigan.|
|Verdict: We have an outright champion that played the runners-up. Even if it lost to one of them, a championship game here is not necessary. No.|
|Another three-way-tie, this one between Michigan, Northwestern, and Purdue. All are 6-2. Michigan's losses are to Northwestern and Purdue; Purdue loses to under .500 Penn State and Michigan State; Northwestern loses to Purdue and Iowa.|
|Verdict: This three-way is easy to untangle: Michigan gets booted because it lost to both other co-champions. Then we're left with Purdue and Northwestern, who tied in the standings but also met on the field with Purdue winning. This one is a matter of taste. Personally, it wouldn't be a tragedy if the two had a rematch. Maybe.|
|Illinois is the outright champion. Their only loss is to second place Michigan; Michigan drops games against Ohio State and Michigan State.|
|Verdict: Odd situation, this, with an outright champion who lost to a second place team a game behind. A rematch wouldn't be a terrible thing. Maybe. Do you change your mind if reminded that the 2001 Michigan State game was the infamous "clockgate" game? Note than any State fans wishing to make their weak case that they are not filthy cheaters should consider the horrible vengance Angry Michigan Safety Hating God has wreaked on the Spartans: the next year, of course, was the 49-3 meltdown that got Bobby Williams fired and they hired the only guy they could find who was a bigger laughingstock than Williams, who proceeded to lose four straight to Michigan, two of them in excruciating fashion. Yea, you reap what you sow.|
|Iowa and Ohio State are both undefeated. They don't play each other.|
|Verdict: Obviously yes.|
|Michigan is the outright champion. Their only conference loss is to Iowa, but the Hawkeyes end up 5-3. Michigan defeats second place, 6-2 Ohio State on the final day of the season.|
|Verdict: An outright champion that beat the second-place team. No.|
|Iowa and Michigan are co-champs. Michigan's only loss is to Ohio State; Iowa loses to Michigan in the Big Ten opener.|
|Verdict: A matter of personal preference like a few previous years. Maybe.|
|Ohio State and Penn State are co-champs. Both are 7-1. Penn State's loss is to Michigan. Ohio State's loss is to Penn State.|
|Verdict: Repeat of last year. Maybe.|
|Ohio State burns a swath of destruction through the Big Ten, skipping Wisconsin. Second place is a 7-1 tie between the Badgers and Michigan. Michgan loses to OSU; Wisconsin loses to Michigan.|
|Verdict: Another sticky wicket. We have an outright champ who missed one of the second place teams but puttin
g Wisconsin in the title game over Michigan seems to stupidly reward an easier schedule and ignore head-to-head. But what's the point of replaying a game you just saw? No.
We have one not applicable, five no, three yes, and a whopping five maybes. Your personal opinion on the maybes will influence your stand considerably. Personally, I don't mind if we get a rematch when two teams are tied in the standings.
I have a suggestion that may be logistically impossible, but here goes: the Big Ten should have an optional title game. Outright champion? No title game. But if two (or more) teams end up tied at the end of the year, put a game on in Chicago or Indianapolis between the co-champs. If three teams are tied, break ties like so:
- If one team has lost to both others, they're out.
- Eliminate the team with the weakest conference schedule.
- If one team has lost to another co-champion and didn't play the second, they're out.
- I dunno, overall record?
The Big Ten will be wasting some money on preparations on years there is no title game but there would obviously be a net profit, and the Big Ten championship would end up more satisfying overall. Year by year, this system would result in the following games:
1996: Northwestern vs. Ohio State.
1998: Michigan vs. Ohio State.
2000: Northwestern vs. Purdue.
2002: Iowa vs Ohio State.
2004: Iowa vs Michigan.
2005: Ohio State vs Penn State.
Six games in 13 years, only one of them a weird "let's play a doubleheader" Michigan-OSU game, and no more stupid co-championships or undeserved Wisconsin Rose Bowls. In this scenario a hypothetical twelfth team has been added; if the number of games does not expand there will be significantly more Iowa-OSU 2002 situations and a title game will happen more often.
Yes, this is all pretty stupid speculation when I really should be previewing Big Ten teams. I'm on it.
I pulled the numbers of the freshmen from the roster just released on the official site but did not mention the big, obvious pieces of news: FB/LB Quintin Patilla, DE/DT James McKinney, and OL Justin Schifano aren't on it. This, in all probability, means that they are no longer on the team. If the roster still includes Antonio Bass but not those three... they are very probably done. Don't know if it's academics or playing time or what, but an attempted assessment follows.
Patilla. A blow to fullback depth, as Patilla got moved over to the offensive side of the ball in the spring, but he was probably third behind Helmuth and Moundros. It's always a bad sign for someone's career when they get moved to fullback, so he was unlikely to contribute anywhere and may have decided to pack it in or transfer.
McKinney. McKinney was a fringe top-100 recruit a couple years ago who came in as a defensive end, got injured, moved to defensive tackle, got injured again, and was obviously not going to start either of the next two years -- three juniors and a sophomore on this year's defensive line. He could have provided some interior depth but had been passed by John Ferrara and would have had a tough battle with Marques Slocum coming up. Maybe a playing time departure.
Schifano. The most disappointing departure, Schifano was offered as a junior at camp and picked up a Miami offer soon thereafter; he was a solid four-star offensive guard recruit on signing day. Boren passed him the moment he hit campus, but he should have been a strong candidate to replace Adam Kraus next year. He was probably third when it came to interior line depth behind Ciulla and Moosman, so it'll take a spate of injuries to make his departure relevant, but with iffy OL classes back to back the last two years his departure exacerbates what will probably be a scary year or two on the OL in the near future.
Overall: our four-strong linebacker class from 2006 is now down to two. Mixon transferred, Patilla is likely gone, and Graham is a defensive end. Mouton (who moved down from safety) and Ezeh are both drawing very positive reviews and are odds-on favorites to start next year, but past that we have only the two freshmen, one of whom was a two-star and the other a three-star regarded as a combine freak who needs a lot of work. Depth is also going to be an issue at linebacker going forward; we need at least three in this class.
Update: Commenters suggest that Patilla and McKinney may not be as gone as the above implies; Schifano is apparently giving up football entirely.