At press time, Harbaugh had sent Michigan’s athletic department an envelope containing a heavily annotated seating chart, a list of the 63,000 seat views he had found unsatisfactory, and a glowing 70-page report on section 25, row 12, seat 9, which he claimed is “exactly what the great sport of football is all about.”
Events! Two preseason events are booked for yours truly:
- I'll be in New York on August 15th with the Alumni Club of NYC. 7 PM, Professor Thom's.
- I'll be a part of the UM Club of Greater Detroit's kickoff dinner panel with Angelique Chengelis of the News and Greg Dooley of MVictors. Details here.
Yes, lol. Here's Todd Graham's motivational tactic at Arizona State:
This is lol. It is even more lol when you bring last year's edition into play:
Yes: I AM HERE TO THE END. I get that Graham is Todd Graham. What I can't understand is what the hell Arizona State's athletic director was thinking when he decided to grab a guy who already had a reputation as a job-hopper after one 6-6 year in the Big East. That's like hiring Brady Hoke… if Brady Hoke had no connection with your university and was widely regarded as not the best dude ever.
Oh, right, that. The Devin Gardner cat was released from the bag but never mentioned in this space. Here is the cat:
How much will backup quarterback Devin Gardner play at receiver this fall?
"I'll think we'll have a chance to get Devin on the field some at receiver," Hoke said.
But, legitimately, how much?
"We'll see," Hoke said, smirking. "I'm being coy, but we'll see as fall camp goes through what he can handle, ball security after the catch, all kinds of things like that."
Go for broke, man.
Does a quarter of the MSU football team have an alibi? Star Wisconsin tailback Montee Ball was the victim of an "unprovoked attack" last night:
Ball suffered head injuries after being attacked by five men near Wisconsin's campus around 2:15 a.m. Wednesday. Witnesses told police the men knocked Ball to the ground and began kicking him. Ball, a 2011 Heisman Trophy finalist, was taken to a hospital and released later Wednesday morning.
You'd think shouting "I RAN FOR 1,923 YARDS LAST YEAR" would be an excellent way to get people to stop kicking you in the head. Or "my best friends are 6'6", 320 pounds." But these guys are probably hopped up on PCP.
Bullet: dodged. Remember when Zeke Pike was probably going to be in Michigan's most recent recruiting class and was supposed to be really good at football? He's taken quite a dive since:
Freshman quarterback Zeke Pike is not expected to be part of the Auburn football team that opens preseason practice on Wednesday afternoon, but knowledgeable sources say the possibility remains that he could rejoin the team, perhaps after the 2012 season. …
Pike was sent home after his arrest on a public intoxication charge in June.
That's after a series of camp performances that saw his stock dip from top-100 type to generic three star.
New era: nevermind. UCF's athletic director got a show cause for working with a street agent, the NCAA concluded thusly…
The NCAA Committee on Infractions ruled that Central Florida officials, including former athletics director Keith Tribble, had knowledge of the involvement of Ken Caldwell, a Chicago man with ties to a sports agency, and his associate Brandon Bender, to recruit players. The NCAA said both men used cash inducements in an effort to steer nearly a dozen football and men's basketball prospects to Central Florida.
…and the Golden Knights got a one-year postseason ban that they have the chutzpah to appeal. (Because they sucked at cheating.) Tentative conclusion: Penn State was an aberration and PSU fans should probably be mad and stuff.
I guess the UCF punishment had been in the works long before Penn State got the instant banhammer and the two things have little to do with each other. But… seriously, what does it take short of enabling a pedophile to get seriously hammered? Head coach knows stuff, does nothing: one year postseason ban and flimsy scholarship penalties. Athletic director pays street agent to acquire recruits: one year postseason ban and flimsy scholarship penalties. The equation seems heavily stacked in favor of rolling the dice.
Lewan was even asked if he was sad that Gholston wasn't part of the Michigan State contingent at the Big Ten's media days.
"I don't know," Lewan said bluntly. "That's kind of an odd question to ask."
Lewan repeatedly deflected specific questions about Gholston and Michigan State throughout his two hour roundtable session, but did admit to one thing.
Gholston is one heck of a player, and regardless of what happened last season, Lewan certainly respects his talent on the field.
"Will's a good player," Lewan said. "He's been very successful since he's been at Michigan State, and it's going to be exciting to play against him."
What's the point? Maybe the first question, sure, but once Lewan has revealed he is going to give you the boilerplate, move on.
Side note: Gholston hype is out of all proportion to reality, man. Marcus Rush is the better MSU DE, but Gholston and his five sacks are… uh, tall. And good when not blocked.
Air Force 1,000 foot view. Via Pre-Snap Read, a fine preview of the Falcons:
It could be worse: Air Force’s offense could have to replace nine starters, as on defense, instead of just eight starters. Then again, it’s probably fair to make one point in regards to the Falcons’ overwhelming lack of experience heading into September: Air Force is not like other programs in the country. Elsewhere, you see five returning starters and point towards a downturn; Air Force, like its fellow service academies, deals with roster overturn every season – perhaps not to this degree, but without redshirt seasons and with most teams very senior-heavy, this sort of retooling is not new to Calhoun and this staff.
The Falcons also return just two starters on defense; the "dream season" section still includes a loss in Ann Arbor.
Etc.: Merrill named Devils' top prospect by NHL.com. Burlon third after spending entirety of last year in AHL. Argh. Alabama concern-type substances. Online poker to return soon? Meinke compiles Will Campbell hype. Chengelis does the same for Kovacs. Restoring the Old Man.
The local beat reporter in Colorado Springs has tweeted that Michigan will fill in one of its holes in the 2012 schedule with Air Force. That's a one-off at Michigan Stadium, obviously, and a higher-quality one than usual. Given the way these things go Michigan is probably going to be shelling out a cool million bucks to the Falcons.
Why? Well, that year's home schedule is awful—OSU, Nebraska, and Notre Dame are all on the road with Alabama in Dallas—and whatever small cachet Air Force brings to the schedule it's better than Eastern Michigan or Baby Seal U. I'd expect the last nonconference opponent to be a MAC team.
3/27/2009 – Michigan 0, Air Force 2 – End of Season
Naurato (left) and Lebler; Ariel Bond from the Daily.
Well, at least I don't have to make a tedious case that the way the NCAA hockey championship is determined is close to a random number generator. Reality has done that for me. Yost Built summarizes the chaos over the weekend:
-3 #1 seeds are out.
-3 #2 seeds are out.
-The only remaining #2 was down 4-2 with 40 seconds left in regulation. They scored with .8 seconds left to send the game into overtime.
-That wasn't even the latest a goal was scored to send a game to OT as UNH popped one in against North Dakota with .1 second left and won in OT.
-Cornell scored with 18 seconds left in regulation to beat Northeastern.
-A game was won in double OT on a shot that went through the net.
Hell, Michigan's loss against Air Force wasn't even the craziest thing to happen. Notre Dame got behind Bemidji State 4-0 and ended up losing 5-1. Literally the only team that adhered to expectation was BU, the sole one-seed to make the Frozen Four.
Today we stand at the edge of history, with Bemidji State—a team whose conference will cease to exist as soon as it is eliminated, if, you know, anyone bothers to do so before they win a national title—ticketed for the Frozen Four. Michigan outshot Air Force 44-13 and lost. In their next game, the Falcons were denied in double overtime by the above-mentioned shot that went through the net and was subject to a tortuous ten-minute review before it was declared a game-ending goal.
If ever there was a time for this particular youtube embed, this is it:
Does all this make me feel better? Well, yeah, kinda. When the misery was all Michigan's, it was weekend ruining. When Jeff Jackson (and the rest of the favored planet) can empathize, eh… that's single-elimination playoff hockey.
Travis Turnbull, who was this close to murdering a half-dozen people over the past couple months, probably disagrees.
I was actually planning on doing something else on Friday but the looming possibility of knife-twisting overwhelmed all. At this point I care about the hockey team as much as I care about football—for which you can blame/credit the back-to-back Yost regionals earlier this decade—and there is no point at which a football team finds itself at the mercy of the fates like college hockey teams do during the tournament.
Maybe this is an effect of the limited information we have in football. There are so few games that teams become their results; "deserved" doesn't enter into it. Teams become legendary because they win all their games, or in some cases win all but one and get lucky, and then that it. They exist as their body of work.
Hockey teams have a body of work, which is thrown into the pairwise blender and spat out somewhere else and then they show up and hope. I've mentioned this before: pucks bounce. And sometimes a seemingly harmless shot from the half-boards finds the millimeter of space the opposing goalie provides, and sometimes your first-round draft pick defenseman and senior captain gets walked and sometimes the team you're rooting for seems bound and determined not to score any goals that don't bore a hole through the opposing goalie and then you scream profanities and go mope until you fall asleep.
So ends Michigan's 2008-09 hockey season, and dude: lame. I wish I had something more enlightening to say about it, but when you outshoot the opponent by more than 3-1 and lose there's not much you can say except "goddammit."
Berenson himself drops the strange results from 97 (when Michigan had one of the great college hockey teams of all time and got bounced) and 98 (when a shell of the 97 team got hot in the tourney and won a national title) whenever someone puts a microphone in his face and asks him about his chances. I can almost rattle off his speech verbatim by this point: "the best team doesn't always win" etc, etc, etc.
But even if the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune are old hat by now, this one had to be incredibly disappointing. Michigan was up 2-0 in the CCHA championship game, looking to extend their streak in non-controversial games to 21-1. Ninety minutes later the scoreboard reads Michigan 1, Opponent 7 and the season is over without anything to mark its passage.
The picture above says it all: what the hell was that?
- Man, that second goal was a killer. It's two-on-two coming into the defensive zone and Mitera steps up in a completely insane way, creating an unnecessary two-on-one. If he's been on the ice a month you have to play him and hope; I don't think that play happens if Mitera has another season of experience behind him instead of rehab.
- Well… next year. Primary flight risks are Summers, Palushaj, and Caprusso. If you made me guess I'd say Palushaj is gone and the others return. Seniors are Mitera, Turnbull, Miller, Fardig, and Naurato. (Also Sauer.) No offense to any of those guys, but that's two fourth-liners and two third-liners who occasionally got sucked up into scoring lines for physical presence along the boards and so forth and so on. Lebler and Winnett should be able to step into those roles, and then you've got a probable second-round NHL draft pick at power forward plus the U18 team's leading scorer.
The team should be very good again.
- Turnbull spent his last couple months in a Michigan uniform seriously pissed off (which was not entirely outside the bounds of reason), from the misconducts in the Ferris game to a wide variety of incidents with referees. I don't know why or anything, but it's worth noting.