B1G, if true
100% worst thing ever
I'm sure we all agree on a few things around here. To wit: USA #1. Love it or leave it. What makes America great, though? I think we'll all agree on this too: America derives 90% of its strength the NCAA men's basketball tournament. It's a fact. I read it on Bleacher Report. (The other ten percent comes from engineers on H1B visas.)
I was having a conversation with War Blog Eagle proprietor and NCAA tournament fanatic Jerry Hinnen yesterday in which we discussed the various and sundry ways in which expanding the NCAA tournament to 96 teams was an Al Qaeda plot to ruin America. In this conversation, Jerry expressed a hope that the "done deal" post Sports By Brooks threw up was a diabolical trial balloon to gauge reaction. It is then the patriotic duty of everyone with a platform via which to react to react.
This has been everyone's reaction. I haven't seen or heard one person, even in the depths of the contrarian internet or the murky fog of sports talk radio—where one guy suggested that Brandon Graham was a "second or third rounder" yesterday—who thinks the idea of expanding the NCAA tournament is anything other than evil. (I just found some on the Google now, which only goes to show that the Murray Chass was right about everything.) Some guy tweeted that the mere consideration of 96 teams is a harsh blow to this site's pet playoff proposal because it suggests the people in charge of things are soulless mercenaries who care about nothing but short-term dollars. It's hard to disagree.
Where are the crotchety old men? Rose Bowl curmudgeons, where are you in our hour of need? Oh. USA Today. Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott, formerly the WTA commissioner:
"In professional tennis," he says, "the temptation to increase playing opportunities and go for the short-term economic value in adding tournaments led to significant dilution of value long term and other problematic side effects for the sport. One day, you wake up and realize that, while each expansion decision sounded good at the time, you have lost what was once so special. Once you go down that route, it's exceedingly difficult to put the genie back in the bottle."
Big Ten commissioner and college football playoff bete noire Jim Delany:
"I think nobody would disagree that the 65-team, three-week event … has worked," says Delany, a former chairman of the NCAA committee that runs the men's tournament. "You have David vs. Goliath. You have all sorts of internal story lines year in and year out. It's compelling. It's one of the great sports properties in the world.
"I have no problem with looking at expansion, whether it's small or big. I only say that issue is one that must be managed openly and transparently, (and) I have concerns that it's not." …
"We know, in the first round, you have a lot of David and Goliath (matchups)," Delany says. "What happens when it becomes largely David vs. David?"
What say you now, Orson, that it's Jim Delany taking up cape and shield to defend the nation from enemies within?
Finally, the Onion:
America #1. Love it or leave it. That means get out, men pushing for 96 team tournament. Get out.
1/26/2010 – Michigan 56, Michigan State 57 – 10-10, 3-5 Big Ten
Compelled to chip in on that occurrence. Thunder not meant to spoil. Zack Novak versus Kalin Lucas mandatory representation of last night's game.
I spent like 20 minutes looking for this because South Park Studios doesn't let you start clips at arbitrary points. But it was worth it. I present last night:
It's not like a win would have done much except make it more likely Michigan gets to .500 and therefore snags an NIT bid, but the basketball program fell into the state where Beat Rival is your season long ago. It would have been some vague redemption for this cursed year. It wasn't, obviously, because that's just the way 09-10 works. When it's all over I'll burn something in commemoration. Possibly the world.
Warn't a foul. Or rather it probably was but it was never going to to get called. (See Tim's post for the image getting passed around.) Sims pushed off to get open and fouled the State player about as much as he got fouled anyway. Still almost went down.
1-3-1… bzzt. When Beilein went into the 1-3-1 on the last possession I thought that was a mistake. The 1-3-1 is an extremely high pressure defense that offers up a lot of easy two-point looks. You're up one and playing a team that doesn't have a lot of shooters or take a lot of threes. If you're going to go into a zone it should be a post-packing one that tends to allow open looks from three, like the 2-3 Michigan has played infrequently. Also, the last time Michigan went to the 1-3-1 MSU sliced it open for a layup and a foul.
MSU didn't get a great shot but it was an open one from reasonable distance.
Start carrying razors. It's too bad that Laval Lucas-Perry doesn't have enough grit to bleed like a hemophiliac after getting elbowed in the nose, because other than the pool of blood that foul he took was a carbon copy of the one that got Manny Harris ejected last year. It would have been equally outrageous if Kalin Lucas had gotten the boot, of course, but shouldn't it have at least been a flagrant? You can give someone a flagrant without ejecting them and that elbow was face level. LLP did not have his face in the Kramer position where he just begs you to turn his cartilage into soup.
Paging the ghost of Gavin Groninger. It is ugly when you bring in a guy who can do exactly one thing and that guy can't do the thing. This is Stu Douglass, who's got an eFG% of 43.9 with a 15.6 usage rate. He's making 34% of his twos and 31% of his threes. I still think he's the best passer on the team and would be useful if he could hit the broad side of a barn with a nuclear bomb. It doesn't look like he can. Maybe he's just not getting many good looks? Last year he was only 33% from three, though. There's a lot of evidence that he's just not the shooter he needs to be.
Novak's kind of in the same boat—his 3PT% is an ugly 29%—but brings more Eckstein with him. Thanks to his relatively frequent rebounds his 2PT% is a healthy 54%.
Roster management. It's not Beilein's fault that Robin Benzing got stuck in Germany one year before the NCAA passed legislation to make kids like him—amateurs who have played on pro teams—eligible or that Ben Cronin's hip imploded, but not getting a big with any ability to play this year is a major failing. If Jordan Morgan could play at all yet he would be out there, missed practice time from his injury or not. Same with Blake McLimans. Beilein has a lot of guys who develop over the course of their careers; the team really needed someone to contribute right away.
Also, I know Kelvin Grady was not very good defensively, but he did make 36% of his threes last year—second on the team to CJ Lee—and would be useful. Were extreme amounts of pine that influenced him to take up football necessary? Would Grady have stayed if Beilein suggested he stick with it?
Manny. It's annoying but it's accurate to append the "…being Manny," isn't it? He's indisputably the best player on the team. Without him the Purdue game was a writeoff. He scored sixteen points, led the team in assists, and had five steals.
But holy crap: he's a 28% three-point shooter this year. Last year he was a 32% shooter. So why is he taking three contested three-pointers on which he does nothing except hold the ball and jack it up? He did the same thing at the end of the Alabama game this year, too. He just jacks up shots he has no business taking. It's one thing if he gets an open look—he was one of two on those—but to just hold the ball and then launch a bad shot without even attempting to run the offense is supremely lazy. Michigan probably converts at least one of those possessions otherwise, which is slightly important in a one-point game. I find him really frustrating.
Kenpom oddity. Michigan is now 58th in the Kenpom rankings, hardly off their pace from last year when they were 50th.
How this? Well, Kenpom also has a "luck" measure, which is basically the difference between your record and what Kenpom would expect your record to be given your performance. This year Michigan is 337th of 347 in this metric. Last year they were 131st, which is slightly above average. Related UMHoops tweet:
If my calculations are correct. Michigan is 2-6 in games that are within 4 pts in the final 2 minutes.
One more way in which this year is like having tiny gremlins stretch your scrotum across two counties.
10/31/2009 – Michigan 13, Illinois 38 – 5-4, 1-4 Big Ten
To paint with broad strokes, I probably don't have much in common with 6'3", 290 pound black guys from Miami who think it's a good idea to play for Ron Zook. Our worlds are unlikely to intersect at a Lil Wayne show or the Ann Arbor Film Festival. Cory Liuget has probably never thought to himself "that reminds me of a Morrissey song." Of late, I think that all the time.
But at around 6:30 on October 31st, 2009, we both felt like we had been punched in the dong. In Liuget's case, this is because he had been punched in the dong:
In my case, and probably in yours, you had not actually been punched in the dong unless you had decided at some point that going outside with your buddies and punching each other in the dongs was preferable to watch the metaphorical dong-punching that started when Roy Roundtree's knee hit the ground at the one yard line and has not, to my knowledge, stopped. If you managed to miss this play and its aftermath because you were outside getting punched in the dong, congratulations: this is the one and only time when your decision-making skills will ever be regarded above average. Punch yourself in the dong in celebration.
Liuget got off easy. He was wearing a cup. My soul-dong has no cup, and it's taken a mighty battering in the last couple of years. Weary, bepunched, bruised, bepunched some more, the soul-dong cries out: why, gods who dictate which ghostly shadow genitalia get the full America's Funniest Home Videos treatment, have you chosen these dongs for maximum severe extreme punishment?
In the end, it doesn't matter. It just hurts when you don't move carefully.
You probably think I'm done with this riff on dong-punching. You get the dashes and the topic changes and then the topic comes back around to the previous item by the end of the column, with maybe some more dashes indicating where you should be prepared to shift thoughts. This, surely, is where a sentence can go by without the author mentioning someone getting punched in the dong.
No: the dongs. They are punched. This is what Michigan football has been since about the instant Drew Henson decided to take millions of dollars from the Yankees: the constant struggle to get your dong punched in new and interesting ways. Super-recruit quarterback leaves before senior year: kapow. New, wholly obscure Ohio State coach from I-AA is the anti-Cooper: tiger PUNCH. 2005: E. Honda hundred-hand-slaps your jibbly bits. 2006: more of a Tekken unblockable thunderfist with a huge-long windup that you think is going to be awesome until you fail to dodge the full testicle-crushing force of the blow and end up flat against the wall. 2007: Jack Bauer finds the bomb, finds it's a ridiculously tiny nuclear device, and decides to screw with you by placing it in the appropriate place before the Horror. 2008: A hundred E. Hondas hundred-hand-slapping your scrotum for three straight months.
2009 can be seen above: SURPRISE! You, Corey Liuget, think your dong is unthreatened late in a game you've turned into a blowout. You are wrong, and E. Honda shows up 75% through the damn thing just to give you dangly punishment.
As per usual.
Here we are, gingerly attempting to sit down without having any part of our anatomy brush up against other parts of our anatomy. Things just got raw, yo. Every place on the internet that didn't immediately repeal the first amendment(!!!) is burning.
I've been watching the same stuff everyone has for 1.5 years and here's where I am: it's blindingly obvious that some portion of the suck is Rodriguez's doing. After that huge reversal of fortune you have to back down from any previous stances you have about the program, its progress, and etc etc etc. That is a game-changing event. That game turned "Rich Rodriguez flames out in three years" at Michigan from a laughable notion to a possible one. Distantly possible, but possible.
I'm not sure what the suck is and how much can be laid on the current coaching staff. The Shafer hire was a poor one. Past that, the last couple years have featured four quarterbacks that were either freshmen or walk-ons, a disaster of an offensive line, and a defense that actually saw two walk-ons start against Illinois because they were preferable to the alternatives. I don't know if that's Jay Hopson's fault or just crappy luck that you're starting a guy who would never see the field because the options behind him are so poor.
I still think we aren't anywhere near the point at which we can chuck out Rodriguez's stellar previous track record. That is not an accident. The previous coaching staff was responsible for The Horror and was attempting to position Mike DeBord as a legitimate in-house candidate, so it's not like the vast program-killing screwup that is the defensive recruiting is an huge outlier in judgment.
On the 70-yard touchdown that put Illinois in the lead for good, two players were largely responsible: Leach got dragged out of position expecting a stretch and Kovacs took what he thought was a good angle but was not because he is a freshman walk-on. There are a lot of problems with the program that no one could deal with.
Rodriguez will be back next year with a mandate to get to a mediocre bowl, and he'll be under pressure to produce a serious team in year four. My confidence that he'll do that is waning. There's not much that would improve the situation; as we've seen the last two years, program continuity is a huge factor in any football team's success. Firing Rodriguez before he's thoroughly proven he can't make it work here is going to make the previous suffering in vain.
That's where I am. If you're elsewhere, fine, I can understand that after the huge reversal the past couple weeks. Before the 2008 season I dug out that picture of Bo and Canham and Bump Elliot and placed the fanbase in the center of it:
We are all Don Canham now. Rich Rodriguez comes in with a wildly successful pedigree but promises to finally tear down the culture of Bo’s program, to replace it with something uncertain. This has caused apprehension in some, joy in others, and disdain verging on hatred in a select group.
The program risks changing into something people drift away from because it has drifted from them, or, worse, something that you only wish you could drift away from. It also promises fireworks and fun and victory and a feeling that’s something other than that thing we’ve felt so much before. Other fanbases go through this every five or ten or fifteen years; for us it’s been 40.
I could welcome it, I guess, or celebrate it, or proclaim inevitable dominion over the land. But I don’t feel like it. Nor do I feel like fretting over imaginary scandals future. Like Canham, I just hope it works.
I still hope it works. It's getting harder to think it will. Next year will tell the tale.
- Michigan should prepare for an Ortmann suspension. Omameh is probably the guy who draws in, but he's been practicing at right tackle. Ricky Barnum is the nominal backup left tackle if the Baby Seal U game is an indication, but I don't think he's left tackle material; the real backups at tackle are redshirting.
- Michigan's losing their composure, yes, and it's clear there's a cultural divide on the team between guys like Odoms, who know from rough, and Carr holdovers who still seem pissed that this is what they got when it's not what they signed up for.
- Holy hell: turnovers. I'd mentioned this before but here's a useful diary post from Enjoy Life on Rodriguez's turnover history. It's ridiculous:
Aside from the ugly first year, West Virginia had a positive turnover margin every year of Rodriguez's reign, with double-digit years four out of six tries. It's not the system, and it's not the weather as it applies to the system—it gets cold and rainy in West Virginia, too. It's freshman quarterbacks and terrible defense.
- Also holy hell: what a disaster Mike Patrick is. One: if our starting center was actually named "Mossman" he would a superhero capable of enmeshing opponents in his velcro-like grasp and Michigan's offensive line wouldn't fail to pass block against a terrible team that had no pass rush coming into the game. This was not an error. He and equally idiotic Craig James called him "Mossman" at least six times.
Two: you just knew as soon as the goal line stand happened that the rest of the game would be Patrick and James going Favre on Terry Hawthorne tracking down Roundtree, and this they did, often failing to even describe the play in front of them in favor of yet more rapturous praise for Hawthorne. They should find whatever pasture they've put Maguire in and put Patrick in it, too. And then shoot it into space. It will be like the Little Prince!
Three: this is not Patrick's fault but after a couple games on ABC that were beautifully directed, this one missed a half-dozen plays.
- Mike Williams had edge responsibility time and again against Illinois and blew it when he wasn't getting blocked into the bench. He was spectacularly bad, just as he was against Iowa. I find it hard to believe Vlad Emilien is worse, and since he's played on special teams recently he's not getting a redshirt. Wonder if we see him a little bit more the rest of the season.
- It's really obvious why they moved Woolfolk to safety in spring now. What a terrible feeling it must have been to watch these guys play in spring practice and know you were going to die in the fall.
- Kovacs makes sense because there are literally no scholarship options at his spot other than Emilien and project true freshmen, but what is with Leach getting on the field in front of Fitzgerald or Demens? I'd say it's a failure to develop talent on the part of Hopson, but he's also the guy coaching Leach. All I know is that it's very bad when you have major recruits (Fitzgerald was just outside top 100 lists and Adam Patterson was a top-50 player) idling behind walk-ons.
- What happened to Shaw? Undisclosed injury?
- The offensive line's pass blocking is the biggest problem with the offense right now. Every week I go into UFR expecting that Forcier will have all these terrible scrambles and there's maybe one or two instances where it was optional. In all other cases, someone is bearing down on him. The line is getting crushed in the protection metric. I hope this is an effect of losing Molk more than anything else; also, Michigan doesn't have any options other than freshmen behind the starters now.
- I got emails from people asking why they couldn't post stuff on the blog. How do you attempt to post something on the blog without reading the single paragraph post at the top of it that says you can't post? And should this be taken as evidence that the people in question should not be allowed to post anyway?
- LVSC's initial opening line for the game: M –7. Vegas loled and set it at 3.5. But… hey… 3.5 point favorites! WOO MOTOR CITY.
For Brabbs, a former kicker for the University of Michigan who kicked one of the most famous field goals in Wolverines’ history, his next battle is on the horizon.
Diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma (a cancer of the plasma cell), Brabbs, a 1999 Dow High graduate who turned 29 on Aug. 7, is preparing for his treatment to start next month at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Treatment Center.
The cancer, specialists told Brabbs, has been growing. In a year’s time, it’s gone from being in 10 percent of his bones to 30 percent.
Vada Murray is horrible enough. Brabbs is younger than I am:
“This has been a long, drawn-out process. It started when I was 25 and living in North Carolina,” he said. “I would have a panic attack and this stabbing pain, and have no clue what was going on.
“Age is on our side,” Brabbs added. “The average age for a person getting this is 68. That’s why we want to be aggressive (with treatment).”
It sounds like he's going to have a difficult few months with chemo and radiation and a stem-cell transplant, but Brabbs is upbeat. He's even got a blog.
return to sender
Vada Murray's wife occasionally posts updates on his progress in his cancer treatment. The latest is not encouraging:
Unfortunately, we learned yesterday that the chemo is not working. There has been further growth of Vada's tumors. He begins a new form of chemotherapy on Monday.
Many people have asked how Vada is doing. He is tired. We are 24 hours into receiving the news that his chemo is not working. He is having a hard time.
As for me, I would say the same. I am very scared.
I've got nothing to add; I read her last couple entries and felt terrible. It does not sound like it's going well. That's all.
There's a guestbook you can sign that Murray's wife says they read. Unfortunately, that's about all you can do to help.
So I posted up a press release that was sent to me and various other folks by the AAGO, the entity that is in charge of the golf course and the parking therein. In it, the Powers That Be make some mumbles about listening to the protest and complaints from people who've been tailgating at the same spot since time began…
"We appreciate the time and effort that a number of people have taken to ask for reconsideration due to their desire to remain in private parking areas where they can be with the longtime friends and colleagues," said Larry Eiler, chairman of AAGO parking.
…and then immediately dispel any lingering hopes you might have that they actually gave a crap:
"We are disappointed at the decision of patrons to disagree with the new regulations, which were made for safety concerns."
Mmmm that's tasty public relations.
Before all this came down, I attempted to commit an act of journalism by reaching out to Eiler. We eventually settled on some emailed questions, the gist of which boiled down to "people have complained and we will make an announcement." The tone of the conversation was similar to the above:
It interests me that everyone just ignores the serious safety issue posed by people who place tents, cookers, tables, chairs, games in the manner shown in the photos attached from last year's M State game.
The following photos from second fairway 08 MSU game. They thus occupy ingress and egress routes for emergency vehicles and create an unsafe environment.
This is the "serious safety issue":
I guess if someone had a major medical issue it would be difficult for them to get out, and according to a commenter on the press release there have been some recent incidents:
Apparently, within the past couple years, there has been at least one heart attack and one broken leg on the course during football saturday tailgates. I guess some dude was tossing a football around and ran off the top side of a steep fairway bunker and fractured his leg. The emergency services took a long time to make it back to the scene due to the parking situation. If it had been a broken neck, the guy likely would have died.
Not sure about details on the heart attack, except the guy was closer to the front and managed to walk to the clubhouse.
The police, insurance company, worried board members, all felt that it was necessary to prevent any potential future disasters by ensuring that there are clear paths for emergency vehicles to enter.
So the canopy thing, whatever. Be stricter about clearing some aisleways, sure. It's a litigious country. I wish we lived in a place where you just sort of accepted "hey if I keel over on this golf course during a tailgate there's a slightly reduced chance I make it." We don't. I think the safety thing is a pretty silly mandate but silly mandates are par for the course (HA! I kill me!) when suin' looms.
However, I fail to see what this has to do with not reserving spots. Everyone ignores the serious safety issue posed by people who place tents and whatnot everywhere because they don't care about the rule change associated with it. No one has complained about the canopy thing. They do not care. They care an awful lot about having their tailgate disrupted.
A lot of people cared enough about it to raise a stink; if you just got over yourself and sat down with them there was an opportunity to work something out. One idea off the cuff: sell season passes in certain areas that can be revoked if the parking there ends up unsafe. Sell specific—specifically orderly—spots. Everyone wins.
Instead no one wins. There was an opportunity to make a little more money and keep the people who really care about this happy, and it was condescendingly rejected. The main reason appears to be that the tailgaters got too outraged and accused the AAGO of being money-grubbing so-and-sos. In response the AAGO said "well, I never" and lifted their noses skyward, refusing to… gah… parley with those ruffians.
The AAGO leadership failed spectacularly here. Kevin Werner on AnnArbor.com:
"It's a shame - a real shame that the traditions of hundreds and relationships of many and a special aspect of this community is giving way to stubbornness."
Postscript. The most unbelievable part of all this is that all of the emails from Eiler come from "Larry Eiler PR." The guy runs a public relations firm. PROTIP: you should not hire it any circumstances whatsoever.