Big Ten referees all own Snuggies
Note. In case anyone hadn't noticed, the restrictions implemented Saturday were lifted yesterday, so things should be back to normal. I think it worked out pretty well; there were a number of threads that got deleted but overall things here were way less dumb than elsewhere, thanks in large part to turning off the ability for people to sign up to vent. That system will return in the aftermath of future HEAD ASPLODE type events.
There have been complaints about censorship, to which I say nuts. Example of a pulled thread:
F--- my life.
If football can't fill the void in my life, i'm just going to have to turn to booze and sluts.
This is noise, and things on the internet get ruined when the signal to noise ratio gets too low. The MGoBlog trend is ever-increasing levels of restriction as the blog grows to keep the ratio relatively high, and that won't change.
Also BONUS. I've turned on the ability for folks to use Windows Live Writer to put up diary posts. For now it's restricted to 500+ point folk; once I know it's up and running without incident anyone will be able to use it if you like. Complicated instructions will allow you to access much more convenient picture uploads and tagging and whatnot. It's just a better editor in all ways. (protip: the main column is 560 pixels wide.)
Mac/Linux people will have to pound sand. Sorry.
Fun fun fun until daddy's head explodes, leaving chunks spread across the county. So… was yesterday's appearance on WTKA fun or what? Yes, it was fun or what. If you'd like a hear a man attempting to hang on to the last shreds of his sanity, there are podcasts:
Sorry I can't embed them; WTKA's site is a little less than modern.
If you just want to get to the part where smoke comes out my ears, MVictors has helpfully clipped it out. Now I'm going to go put my head in a bucket of ice. Maybe I'll steam some broccoli at the same time.
Elsewhere in last weekend, This Week In Schadenfreude sticks Michigan—and yours truly!—above the fold. Peek into the terror that is my inbox.
Mary Sue got your back. President Coleman with the long-term vote of confidence:
"I don't think it's fair to coaches to bring them in and say, 'We're going to give you three years,'" she said in an interview on Friday, citing a recent example. "When [former men's basketball coach] Tommy Amaker came in, we stuck with him for six years. It just wasn't going to work; it wasn't the right fit. But it wasn't a rushed decision."
Note that the statement specifically implies not just next year but the year after for Rodriguez. Short of a major violation from the Freep jihad—which I will reiterate is not the expected outcome from anyone on the Michigan side of things—Rodriguez will get to 2011, at which point it's up to him.
Why the suck? We're living in an era of college football hyperbole thanks to the 12th game and bowl games now counting as official stats, but not retroactively. Every good multi-year starter is now breaking or threatening this record or that. There's no better example of this than Juice Williams approaching the top five in all time Big Ten passing yards. All these records mean nothing.
But there's one area of hyperbole that's not hyperbole at all: we are really living through an era of the worst calls in college football history. Before the advent of replay, bad calls were just bad calls and were relatively understandable since they were irreversible split-second decisions. Now, though, replay officials can commit the cardinal sin of screwing up an obviously correct call. Here's a touchdown from the Indiana-Iowa game:
This was ruled a touchdown on the field and overturned by the replay official. It is in the building when it comes to worst calls ever made because some guy saw indisputable evidence—watch the field turf change color as the IU receiver's foot rakes over it—of a touchdown and called it not a touchdown. (It's not very far in the building since I can think of two more egregious ones off the top of my head: Brandon Minor's pylon-aided touchdown against Michigan State last year and the onside kick Oregon was awarded despite never even recovering the ball.)
So, a question: why are confused goats allowed to run these things? Honestly. There is no other explanation for this stuff. A few years ago refs correctly called Antonio Bass down against Iowa and the replay official overturned it despite clear evidence that the reason the ball came out was Bass's elbow hitting the ground. They failed to overturn that ridiculous Domata Peko touchdown. On the Indiana call above it is so obvious that the PBP guy immediately says "oh he dragged that right foot" as the spray of fieldturf pellets goes up. Most replay calls are that obvious on a first viewing, and yet they take five minutes and there's a reasonable chance the guy in the booth can't see what's completely obvious to everyone watching the game.
I don't know what the fix is, but I think a major problem is that replay officials are often referees who have been put out to pasture. Therefore they are crazy and old. Putting crazy old people in charge leads to things like Florida State's defense. It is not a good idea.
You grow like a weed. Hope burgeons for your #15 Michigan Wolverine basketball team (who wants some FREE PPPPPIZZAAA) for a variety of reasons, mostly Manny Harris and Deshawn Sims. Big Ten Geeks has put together a great study that provides another reason for optimism:
The big, overarching conclusion is this: a player shows the most improvement between his freshman and sophomore seasons than he does any other offseason. In fact, the freshman offseason improvement is, on average, greater than the improvement between a player's sophomore season and his senior season.
Here's the o-rating chart:
How this applies to the Big Ten this year:
Schwing. Indiana is a runaway winner here but their goal is to go from one of the worst teams in a major conference to one of the worst teams in the Big Ten. Amongst actual contenders no team should see its players improve more than Michigan and the only team that's even somewhat close is Minnesota. The bounce Michigan gets should be significant.
I'll add in my default caution: past performance is a better predictor of future results than past results. Michigan's past performance lags behind their past results—they finished the year #50 in the Pomeroy rankings instead of the 40th-ish their tourney seeding suggested or the 32nd-ish their second-round status suggested. That's the baseline from which I'm measuring improvement, and from that perspective I've thought projecting a leap into the top 15 was optimistic. 25? Sure. 15? Probably not. The above chart is convincing enough to close some of that gap, IME.
You rang? There are three main questions going into the season. One: can Manny Harris reduce appearances of Evil Manny to a couple here and there? Two: will one of the wing players step up to be a true three-point gunner with an eFG percentage Salim Stoudemire would be proud of? And three: will we get anything from a big lumbering gumpy white guy?
BLGWG #1 is Zack Gibson, who can't shoot threes like he thinks he can and doesn't do much offensively but has erratic moments of OMGIBSON ownage. College bigs like him often take some time to get it together and find themselves blossoming into useful, even good players their senior year. Examples from recent Michigan vintage include Graham Brown and Chris Young. And late last year Gibson was a huge factor on defense, making a lot of plays that no one else on the roster can make for reasons of being 6'5" tops. I wouldn't be surprised if he had a quasi-breakout year that no one except Michigan fans notice.
BLGWG #2 is Ben Cronin, who Mike Rothstein hyped up a few days ago on AnnArbor.com:
“My legs are in the best shape they’ve been in in a long time,” Cronin said. “I’m sure it’s going to turn over on the court where I guarantee I’m going to be a little more explosive than I’ve ever been. And my endurance is going to be better because of the track, so I’m really excited about where I’m at.”
Cronin is what Beilein looks for in a big man. He’s intelligent. He has good passing skills, something demonstrated during Saturday’s open practice when he found cutting players from the high post.
He’s also demonstrated the ability to shoot three-pointers - something Beilein’s most well-known big man, former West Virginia center Kevin Pittsnogle, was known for.
There's no way Cronin is an effective or frequent three-point shooter and the conditioning/hip issues are probably going to limit him to 10-15 minutes a game—Beilein says Cronin "doesn't have his bounce back" in the article. But in his cameo last year before the injury redshirt he showed some skills to go with his hugeness. If he can spell Gibson effectively Michigan will be able to roll out a decently sized lineup against the big thumpers of the world, which would do wonders for Michigan's atrocious 2PT FG defense.
No. This guy attempts to defend Deadspin for the Phillips Incident, stating that the rumors weren't "unsourced" based on Daulerio's round of contrition interviews in which he repeatedly stated that they weren't just publishing random emails. I don't know if I believe that; given the way it was framed it was clear Daulerio didn't care either way, really.
And let's remember what the "news" is here: Deadspin has successfully ferreted out the very newsworthy information that one ESPN vice president is in a relationship with another ESPN vice president. Armed with this knowledge, we will defeat cancer and Marcelo Balboa. Daulerio's wandered around giving interview after interview in which he acknowledges he had a hissy fit, which he apparently thinks will earn him credit, before claiming that there was a noble purpose—exposing ESPN's inconsistent enforcement of sexual harassment rules—behind everything. The evidence marshaled for this consists of the following items:
- An ESPN radio host sexually harassed someone and was suspended for it.
- ESPN VP 1 is dating non-related ESPN VP 2.
Daulerio's attempts to explain his actions after the fact are feeble post-hoc justifications for a mean-spirited, purposeless expose on the private life of a non-public figure.
Etc.: I'm not sure why, but EDSBS has a photoshop of Gruden-as-M-coach on a post about Steve Kragthorpe. I noted that I didn't understand the blocking scheme on a particular run play that Penn State ran last week; Smart Football says it's a zone variant called the "pin and pull"
Somewhat less than timely, but still good. Michigan softball player Bree Evans, who suffered a scary injury at the beginning of the month, is out of the hospital. She's been out for a good long while…
Evans was released from the hospital two weeks ago, according to Michigan sports information director Leah Howard. Howard declined to comment on details of Evans’ injury.
…but better to know late than never, I guess.
Well, let's be explicit about it. Deshawn Sims and Mann Harris talking to Fox Sports's Jeff Goodman for a Beilein fluff bit before the season:
ANN ARBOR, Mich. - DeShawn Sims had just finished up his freshman season at Michigan when he heard the news that John Beilein had been hired to replace Tommy Amaker. At the time, Manny Harris was the Wolverines' top signee, and the word quickly swirled that he would explore other options.
"People were saying Beilein's system was for white boys," Sims said.
"I heard he didn't even like players that dunk," added the athletic Harris.
Elsewhere in basketball, perhaps the most newsworthy thing to come out of Big Ten Media Day was Illinois coach Bruce Weber suggesting that the Big Ten will "probably" move to a full round robin "down the road." I got so excited about it that I retweeted it, so, yes, I am enthusiastic about the hypothetical change. It just makes sense, and now with the Big Ten Network it makes financial sense—in conversations I've had with them they have a strong preference for intraconference matchups.
And here's a Tim Hardaway Jr fluffy bit from ESPN, courtesy reader Woodson2Heisman:
Michigan checks in at #15 in both preseason polls, but this is slightly terrifying:
Junior guard Manny Harris - an All-Big Ten team selection Thursday - has battled pulled hamstrings since the start of practice and Beilein, himself a victim of the consistently tight hammys, has been extra cautious. …
“Now that it’s happened, it’s got to be a season-long therapy thing,” Beilein said. “We can’t let down. He’s always been tight in his hamstrings. I have tight hamstrings so I know what it’s like. It can lead to back problems.
“Stretching is not my favorite thing to do, it’s not his. Therapy isn’t, but he has to do it. “
Ugh. Season-long nagging injury for the unquestioned star of the team. This is not so good.
Because you're still on a Quest for Toronto. Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician, the fantastic Syracuse blog, asks "why isn't anyone talking about Scott Shafer?" Insert snark here. But then TNIAAM drops some year-to-year numbers that are a little bothersome since Michigan and Syracuse have essentially swapped defensive coordinators:
Syracuse Defense Rankings 2008 vs 2009 (through seven games)
|Statistic||2008 Defense||2009 Defense|
|Tackles For Loss||106th||49th|
|Opp. 3rd Down Conv.||117th||38th|
That's across-the-board improvement except in pass defense. So, okay, there's a lot of noise in these numbers and they'll probably fall with Cincinnati and Pittsburgh the next two games on the schedule. And Syracuse apparently returned a lot of people on defense, including all the good players. But it's at least an indication that Scott Shafer isn't a total git who lucked his way into the Michigan job and blew it all by himself.
On the other hand: the last time I offered a small complaint about Robinson, one of the guys from The Only Colors who does their version of UFR emailed me about a post he'd put up highlighting Robinson's halftime adjustments. That's pretty noisy, too, but in the offseason we'll take a thorough look at the two defenses.
Early signing. Don't know why this came up just now but Rodriguez is in favor of a couple changes to recruiting. One is an early signing day that this site has advocated before:
“I would be in favor of having an early signing day around the third week in December, when the junior-college signing date is, and then have another signing date like we do now on the first Wednesday in February," Rodriguez said on Tuesday's Big Ten coaches teleconference.
The other item he's mentioned is the past is allowing schools to offer official visits over the summer, something that makes sense for schools fairly distant from talent sources in Florida.
Adios, Ufer. Bob Ufer died this week in 1981, and a guy emailed me to let me know he'd been putting up some Ufer retrospective videos on the tubes:
I haven't spent a lot of time scouring youtube to confirm this, but I bet Michigan dominates it, what with Wolverine Historian and this poster ("Ghosts of Michigan") and now a zillion individual plays from UFR.
CONSPIRACY These are the items I was talking about Monday when I mentioned a number of questionable calls that went against Michigan. The illegal formation is on the right tackle here:
There was also the too-many-men call on the Robinson interception, or lack thereof:
You can see the ball has already been snapped.
Rodriguez is not happy about this stuff, nor is he happy about the ridiculous Schilling holding call—the second time in two Big Ten games that Schillling's crushed a guy and gotten a hold for his troubles. RR:
"Some of them I understand, when you twist and turn a guy, whatever," Rodriguez said. "But if you've got your hands inside in great position, you're drive blocking a guy and he falls down, because, one, he loses his balance or something, I don't think it should be called holding.
"There is more of a gray area, and there's more frustration, I think, in seeing some of the calls."
No doubt some Penn State fan will run back to his message board going "lol we won 35-10" so let's just be clear: this did not have an impact on the outcome of the game.
While I'm at it, here's Holly Rowe, Hoth Edition:
Etc.: College presidents complaining about how coaches' salaries are excessive. Adrian Witty is still planning to enroll in January. Beilein's top priority for AD is a guy who will renovate Crisler for serious. A package of reforms designed to make the money trail from shady college coaches to shady AAU coaches more illegal has passed in its entirety.
The Mealer item. E:60's report on Mealer:
Return of the FORK. Troy Woolfolk is at least getting a tryout at cornerback:
Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez did not address the possible position switch in his pre-practice meeting with the media, and it’s unclear where Woolfolk will play Saturday against Iowa.
I'm not sure if I like that or not. Woolfolk might allow the corners to press up more, but can Williams play deep centerfield?
The Ill-Fated Punt. MVictors has an excellent clip from Rodriguez's press conference in which he explains what happened on that punt. It is as suggested: Michigan has a rugby call, which they made, that always has a read element, which Mesko botched. A couple emailers suggested that Rodriguez's honesty about the call constituted throwing Zoltan under the bus, but if you listen to the clip it's clear that he's doing nothing of the sort. He does sound pretty baffled by the whole thing, as was everyone.
Get on the bus. A hockey version of the Maize Rage has/is forming and intends to use its power for invasion:
According to co-founders of the group, juniors Jamie Fogel and Chuck Boyer, organized trips to games in East Lansing, Madison, Sault Ste. Marie and Toledo are in the works. The group also plans to have buses available for the Great Lakes Invitational tournament at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit on Dec. 29.
"Some of this will obviously depend on how involved people get and whether or not people want to take the initiative," Fogel said. "But this is also something that will eventually grow, because it’s only the first year."
The Madison game is the outdoor one. I'm all for Michigan becoming a team that travels to reasonably nearby places and takes over. Munn should be deliciously empty this year, ripe for someone to come in and make any noise whatsoever, shocking all in attendance.
It will always be in Florida. It will always be against the SEC. When the bowl realignments were tentatively announced in late August, the Gator Bowl entered our lives. The Big Ten #4 was supposed to get the ACC #3, and everyone kind of shrugged. Everyone above .500 in the conference plays on New Year's Day, the Big Ten plays up, annoyingly, everything's the same lalala.
OH NO LEE CORSO!
WHAT'S GOING ON LEE CORSO?
The Konica Minolta Gator Bowl is on the verge of announcing a deal that will bring a Southeastern Conference team vs. a Big Ten team to the New Year's Day bowl game at the Jacksonville Municipal Stadium, from 2010-2013.
Out goes the ACC. In comes the SEC, and everyone groans at Yet Another Big Ten-SEC New Year's Day In Florida matchup. One twist: the Gator still gets the Big Ten #4, but it's stooping all the way to the SEC #6(!), which means that for the first time the Big Ten is playing down in a bowl game instead of up. So there's that. Last year Northwestern would have taken on Vanderbilt, which sounds like a horrendous New Year's game but a fantastic opportunity to buff up the ol' bowl record.
(HT: Doc Sat.)
Breakin' ankles. Via UMHoops, some tantalizing highlights of Darius Morris:
He is now Angerererererererery. Starting Iowa linebacker and obviously fake person who only exists in a movie script Pat Angerer has torn ligaments in his thumb and will wear a cast on Saturday. This (very) marginally increases Michigan's chances of victory. If Tate Forcier throws a ball at Angerer or Robinson darts into him, the folk in question may escape with their lives. But really I'm just mentioning it for this:
"You don't need thumbs,'' he said. "My best friend is my brother's dog. He doesn't have any thumbs and he's doing fine.''
That is all.
"Watch out, Sydney Crosby" is a bit much but daaaang.
Etc.: Daily notes that Michigan's hockey game at Camp Randall is actually exempt by the NCAA(!). Michigan will get in 37 regular season games this year with the trip to Alaska. Do you need bizarrely swarthy Forcier-as-Link wallpaper? Sure you do.
In a word: ugh. You probably know the story: Michigan led by four with a minute left, then Iowa got back to back trips to the line, one of which was a 50-50 play on a drive, the other a loose ball foul on Sims after Manny Harris didn't get the exact same call Iowa just got. The number of calls Manny Harris doesn't get continually astounds me. My favorite in this game was the charging call he got when some Iowa guy planted himself under the basket.
Then Michigan's attempt at a buzzer-beater degenerates into Harris launching an off-balance three from four feet behind the line, Harris is benched for the entirety of overtime, Iowa hits a wide array of circus shots, and Michigan's bid is on serious life support. I blame myself for hosting a liveblog.
Beilein in the aftermath:
"I didn't think (Harris) was really playing well. He didn't look fresh, he wasn't himself, and so we decided to go in another direction," Beilein said. "We really thought it would help us, but (Iowa) went on a run just like they did at the beginning of the game when he was in there.
"I wouldn't be too concerned about (Harris not playing in overtime). We needed to score some points and Manny wasn't in a good rhythm at that time."
That might make sense if the guy you stuck in the lineup in Harris' stead wasn't David Merritt, with whom I am developing the exact same relationship I had with Pat Massey: though he must be a tremendous individual I want his eligibility to expire immediately so the coach can't keep throwing him out there and causing me psychic distress. (I will never understand this year's rotation, specifically the inability of Jevohn Shepherd to get minutes over the two tiny walkons despite playing pretty well when he gets on the floor. Lord knows if he was closing out three-point shooters in the corner that Iowa guy named Bullwinkle would have had more difficulties.)
But setting aside the choice of replacement, was Beilein 100% wrong? I don't think so. Harris takes terrible shots in every game when he gets frustrated or complacent or feels he won't get a call (which he won't, but eh) and has moments of defensive laxness and is just generally a really frustrating player. Having Harris out there wouldn't have helped that much, anyway. Iowa couldn't miss in overtime, and Harris was not going to bring Michigan's offensive efficiency up to a level at which it could compete.
Beilein's obviously not 100% right, either. If he thought Michigan had a better chance to win with David Merritt on the floor, he's nuts. More likely he had about reached his limit and sat him in what appears to be a fit of pique. I get that: Harris at the moment is a basketball doppelganger of Braylon Edwards in his afro phase, when he was benched because he and Carr weren't "on the same page" despite his clear superiority to Michigan's other receiving options. Edwards wised up and blew up. Harris? We'll see.
I would have preferred the teachable moment had not come in overtime of a crucial road game, though. You know.
Okay. What now? The prevailing assumption was that Michigan had to split its final four games and then not die against Indiana or, uh, Iowa in the Big Ten Tournament to assure itself a bid. That still holds, but winning two of Purdue, @ Wisconsin, and @ Minnesota is a vastly tougher proposition than winning one. Kenpom has us at 32% against Purdue, 18% against Wisconsin, and 25% against Minnesota. 8-10 isn't going to do it without an improbable Big Ten Tourney run, especially because the committee has been de-emphasizing conference tourneys in recent years.
In short: we're screwed.
First and foremost, Big Ten officiating is a joke. As someone mentioned, all those moving screens called on us, but when Merritt is running the baseline in the 1-3-1 and the Iowa post player is in the middle of turning his back and knocks Merritt completely off his route to the shooter, there’s no call. The last foul that they called on Sims to put Gatens to the line was just flat terrible. And Manny still isn’t getting calls in the lane. The charge they called on him early was pretty bad; he was already in the air by the time the Iowa player slid over and got set.