this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
YOU TOO CAN OPEN YOUR MOUTH IN PUBLIC WITHOUT GETTING PEOPLE MAD
Don't. This is the easiest and best way to go about it. What does everyone think of David Baas? Exactly. We think David Baas won the Rimington award. We do not think he has some weird grudge against his younger doppleganger or is Joe Morgan.
If you have to, do not say anything about Denard. Nothing you can say about Denard will meet the standards of the Michigan fanbase, which thinks he is made of rainbows and sweetness and light and will brook not even the slightest criticism. For instance, saying…
You looked fantastic for five games against nobody. That's what you did.
…as a way to "blast college athletes' sense of entitlement" is taking a cheapshot at a guy playing opposite the worst defense in the history of man. Many people will make the internet annoying for a day until the next outrage.
More importantly, it's inane because Denard is the least entitled athlete at Michigan in a very long time. We get it: you hated Rich Rodriguez to the point where you'll roll your eyes at Denard Robinson. You can stop it now.
If you do say something about Denard, at least own up to it. Desmond Howard's response to this was to claim his comment was about "fans and the media," and while the fuller context of the quote does soften it somewhat it mostly emphasizes how bizarrely inappropriate it is to grab Denard Robinson of all people as a "perfect example" of entitled kids.
I mean, it's not like there's anyone else in Michigan's recent past that fits that bill slightly better—
If you have successfully piloted your speaking away from Denard, don't imply the kids currently on the team are lazy and soft. This is called "projection," a malady that often befalls middle-aged men past their glory days. The people on the team have worked very hard for little reward because there are a lot of people who aren't on the team for various reasons. So when you say the effort was "lacking" or Michigan "toughness" is back you are telling Ryan Van Bergen, who can stuff your desk-job-having ass in a can, that he's failing you.
This isn't very nice. Also, the opposite is in fact the case.
If you have managed to not talk crap about the players, you are most of the way home. Congratulations! Now you've only got three topics left:
- Rich Rodriguez is the devil. Accurate! So very accurate. But also played out. Everyone in the room will be envisioning you beating on a dead man. How did that go in the last season of The Wire? You didn't watch The Wire? You only read Rudyard Kipling books? Well, let me tell you: not so good. Also it was biting dead people but telling you that is pointless until David Simon writes a book of illustrated allegories featuring animals. How hard would I buy this book? So, so hard. I digress.
- Shuffling the fullback so you can run a power play at a defense that knows what's coming but is powerless to stop you is the only way to play football. Also very, very true but so obvious in the aftermath of Rodriguez being the devil that it hardly bears mentioning. You are trying to bring the Wisdom Of The Michigan Program to the public, but the public already knows that part in its bones. Fooling people is for communists. The wages of spread are turnovers.
- Brady Hoke is a cuddly bear-god who you, 6'9" high school tackle Zach Banner, should definitely play for. Now we are talking. This is a matter that the public is uncertain about—just look around here a few months ago—and Zach Banner is definitely uncertain about, being one of the few high school players in the country who has not leapt to play for our magic-poopin' cuddly bear-god. This is a topic of major interest amongst laymen and scholars and may result in honorary degrees from prestigious institutions if expounded upon at sufficiently withering, recruit-ensnaring length. Bonus points(!) awarded for pointed contrasts with Jim Tressel.
Escuche y repita. Like last year's Ohio State season, the last three years never happened. They are the Godfather III, the lying-newspaper-guy plot from The Wire, the Brian Ellerbe era… right… forgot. Kipling. Forget this bit.
Remember: the last three years never happened and therefore cannot be commented on BRADY HOKE MAGIC POOPING BEAR GOD SAY IT DO IT NOTHING ELSE
SPECIAL BO-ERA DUDE ADDENDUM: it is not racist that Corwin Brown was not hired by Michigan and you should stop saying that because it's not helping Corwin Brown any.
Apparently it's ND Nation week on MGoBlog. Eh.
This is, without question, a first:
I was there too, with a UM friend of mine. He was at the UM game against WMU the weekend before, and he said the music was not played that weekend. In fact, he said he's never heard music played at any Michigan home game. Yesterday was his first ND/Michigan game in the Big House. Maybe it's just something they do for us. Wouldn't surprise me.
We both thought it was bulls---. With those new press box/fan suite things they've built at the top of the stadium, that place got really loud. The Eminem songs only made it worse.
I guess that's why they call it home field advantage.
Leaving aside this guy's probably-fictional Michigan friend who went to the Western game and didn't notice the RAWK MUSIC, this is an opposing fan complaining about the noise level in the stadium. Even if this is just more complaining to complain, it's still a 180 from the usual laughter at the 110,000 quietest people in America or whatever. As a group of people naturally inclined to laugh at all things Michigan, statements like this are as close to proof as you're ever going to get about the effect of the new boxes:
I thought the place seemed so much more intimidating
by BigEND (2009-09-13 21:09:28)
with the skyboxes there. It was louder and felt like you were really in a "big house". I still can't understand why so many people complained when the plan was originally announced. That stadium will be 10 times better with those boxes finished.
You and me both, BigEND. Meanwhile, email from people who would know confirms the third-party impressions:
I attended the WMU game with siblings who are recent graduates and former band members. The word they got from contacts still in the band is that the on-the-field noise is significantly louder, even if it doesn't seem so to the layman sitting in the 67th row.
Without having any sort of technical knowledge, my guess is that the new structures are aiming sound back into the bowl. Clearly not all of it, but enough to make it louder the deeper you are inside. (That's what she said?)
So, it might not seem much louder to us, but clearly LOUDER FIELD > LOUDER STANDS from a competitive standpoint. In other words, my screaming is more directly helping Brandon Graham to murderfy Jimmah this weekend.
And this was just for Western. The initial take, then, appears to be that the optimistic projections this blog's scoffed at more than once are basically accurate. The luxury boxes are a huge aid to the noise on the field to the point where complaint-inclined opposing fans focus on it. This is a major win.
So, then, the other matter at hand. Last week everyone had a little conniption fit and I posted a poll about whether piped-in music should be slain out of hand or not. The results:
Of the 75% who care, respondents were evenly split between pro-and-con, but the con side was more strongly opposed. This was shocking to me, but I guess this blog's readership skews away from bluehairs. I also have one main explanation: it's the band's fault. Multiple band members have sent in emails about the shift in the MMB's focus over the last ten or so years, and 90% are along these lines:
I was in the band for the last few years of Professor Nix's turn at the helm, from 2003-2007*, and I would say that there was plenty of "blame" to spread around for the quieter band. During my years, we frowned upon bands like Notre Dame's that would sacrifice precision for loudness. I believe most of us felt this way, and while it's reasonable to say this mentality started at the top, which would mean Professor Haithcock, I think Professor Nix and his appreciation for the newer, drum corp influenced style of a marching ensemble was the biggest factor. And now, with Director Boerma, who also has strong drum corp ties, I'm sure that influence is just as strong or stronger. But, Haithcock did hire them, so we can just blame him.
I've got other emails claiming Nix was a huge proponent of loud and that Haithcock asked about making the band louder and etc etc etc and I don't care about who is at fault for what, all I know is that the main reason that poll above came out the way it did is because the band is not doing its job. Saturday I could barely make out the Victors on any of Michigan's touchdowns. About the only thing I heard at halftime was the drum corps. I've gotten plenty of complaints from kids in the student section who say they can barely hear the band and it's 30 rows away from them.
This does not have to be the case. I vividly remember going down to Auburn last year. I sat in the upper deck on the 40; the LSU band was stuck in the corner of the opposite endzone, and I could hear them loud and clear. They were blasting it. Auburn's band was also louder than the MMB. Click the link and see where we were, man… we were in orbit around a football game.
And then there's the SWAC:
That's Southern University making a strong argument for Michigan scheduling a SWAC school, any SWAC school, the next time it reaches into the I-AA ranks for an opponent.
What's the point of a marching band? To be audible outside in a stadium of 110,000. If you want musicality, there are a dozen other bands on campus you can join. Scott Boerma and his superiors are completely missing the point, and if the band is being marginalized on gameday it is entirely their fault. Personally, I hate it. I want the band to be awesome and wish piped-in music would die a fiery death. But when "Lose Yourself" gets vastly more reaction than anything you do and large sections of the stadium can't hear you at all, that's on you. What the hell is the point of a piccolo when the only people who can hear it are the ones playing it? Have you ever thought about the poor schmucks in section 16 who have never once heard The Victors after a touchdown? Think of the children, and do this:
On the band: I used to play clarinet in the Ann Arbor Huron marching band. (Why? Beats me. I should have learned how to play guitar like Slash instead.) Clarinet, while fine inside, is a waste of time outside. It cannot be heard. Ditto the flute and the piccolo.
What the MMB needs to do is (1) get rid of all the clarinets, flutes and piccolos, and (2) add 150-200 more trumpets and trombones. Made the band bigger, and sacrifice a measure of technical proficiency (which 98% of the crowd wouldn't notice) in exchange for a big ol' Wall of Sound.
Or something. Your prime directive should be loud; if it's not no one can help you fight your slide into irrelevance.
PS: and dammit the hockey band director should dance, you communists.
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.
John Calipari, folks:
UK announced Tuesday that three scholarship players will not be back on the team next season.
The three were A.J. Stewart, Donald Williams and Jared Carter.
Each of them has been told to play nice or else and has quotes thanking everyone for the opportunities, but privately they must be seething. By the numbers this is vastly worse than the Alabama stuff, as Calipari signed the class in the full knowledge he'd have to boot almost a quarter of his team to do it, without the luxury of medical redshirts. And he's not even done: if Jodie Meeks comes back and there are no academic issues, two more guys will have to get show the door. It's indefensible. Kentucky should be ashamed they allowed it to happen.
Meanwhile, a walk-on was taking about a scholarship with Gillespie and then got the cold shoulder. This doesn't come close to the level of the departed above since the player didn't come to UK under the impression he could spend four years there and end up with a degree, but the manner in which it was handled is revealing. The JCCW on that:
Time for tweeting? Check. Time to give a good kid, a lifetime Kentucky fan and Kentucky native, the common courtesy of telling him he's not needed in person? Or even over the phone? No dice.
These guys got cut so Calipari could cram his five-member recruiting class, which will no doubt feature a number of one-and-dones, on campus, and the idea of the "student-athlete" dies a little more. Calipari's now two for two on abandoning schools just as they get nailed with major sanctions for activities that—like Steve Fisher—the headman didn't know about because he didn't want to. Add in his record as an assistant at Kansas and Pittsburgh and Calipari has been at four schools, all of which have been hit with major infractions stemming from his time there. (Here's the NCAA database for these things; unfortunately it's impervious to links.)
Yeah, John Calipari had no knowledge of (probably) Derrick Rose's fraudulent test score, but that's sort of the point: he didn't know. And he didn't know Marcus Camby and the agent blah blah blah. He's not an idiot and neither are the people at Kentucky. And neither is the public. We're all terribly cynical now.
I find this stuff hugely depressing. Calipari can't take his two recruits and coach the guys he's got and wait a single year to graduate some kids, he's got to boot upstanding players off the team now so he can win now because that's just what he does, and the Kentucky administration just watches. All Kentucky has to do is wait and they'll have their full compliment of NBA-focused players who regard school as a nuisance and Kentucky as a marginally preferable alternative to Europe. Not even that's good enough.
I wonder about people who don't care about anything past the final score, don't care how that stuff goes down. I'd hate to be the guy behind A Sea of Blue right now, as he's not one of these people:
What he has done is effectively turn UK into an NBA franchise, and while that might be good for wins and losses and national championships, it isn't going to be welcomed everywhere. Some people are going to be very upset with how this is going down, and they have every right to be. UK has historically honored its scholarships, and has only rarely (if ever) done what is going on right now -- forcing players to transfer in order to make room under the "scholarship cap."
He excuses this behavior in two ways: blaming the athletic director for letting it happen and citing the massive contract Calipari signed, which "demands immediate results."
Why? It doesn't, of course. It demands eventual results, or at least it would if anyone at Kentucky gave a tenth of a crap about the players currently on the team.
I look at the rest of that guy's post, which is filled with halfhearted defenses of Calipari's long and checkered past and just cringe. I'd hate to wake up and see my basketball team filled with mercenaries and the country's biggest asshole on the sideline, winning the hollow victories of the morally bankrupt. What's the point of pretending Kentucky's basketball team is wing of the university anymore?
A long email about scheduling in parts:
1. Martin maintains that they need the revenue from the home games to help out with the budget. Seems to me Martin is running the department like a business. That being the case, if you own a business that has a number of different departments and some of those departments are not producing revenue, aren't there three options? 1. Try to increase revenue in the revenue producing departments, which he's trying to do. 2. Try to increase revenue/cut costs in those departments that are not producing revenue. 3. Ax those departments that are not producing revenue.
The third option is rather severe since it is college athletics we're talking about. So I'd be interested to see/know what Martin is doing to try and increase revenues in the other sports as well as reduce costs in the other sports. Hopefully, if Beilien keeps the basketball moving in the right direction that will help the revenue stream coming in from bball.
Michigan doesn't have much leverage via which to increase revenues in other sports. When you're trying to fill Crisler by selling five-dollar seats to nonconference games there's not much you can do to milk the season ticket holders without risking rebellion. And those home nonconference games aren't raking it in like a football game would. Hockey's about break-even now and stuck there; everything else, well… revenue is sparse.
As far as reducing costs in other sports: Michigan fancies itself to be Stanford of the East when it comes to its athletic department and wants each and every one of its programs to be competitive, many of them nationally. Mike Bottom, the swim coach, is probably making bank relative to his peers. Same with the women's soccer coach, who is late of the national team. For most Michigan fans the only benefit this produces is a ceremony wherein a bunch of teams you've never seen walk across the Michigan Stadium turf after winning the conference.
But they're not really the problem. This is a situation analogous to pro sports, where people complain about how much money the players are making as if it has an impact on ticket prices when in reality the relationship is reversed. Michigan has been very good at extracting revenue and that money goes somewhere. In 2003, Michigan paid athletic department employees a total of 19 million dollars. They budgeted 27 million for 2008. That's twice the revenue of one home game.
Would life be vastly different at major college athletic programs without the 12th game? No. Coaches would have slightly less spectacular salaries. The end.
2. The thing that gets me with the scheduling is why does he feel the need to schedule 1-AA schools? If he'd do the schedule a few years in advance, he probably wouldn't have to. With the ND contract, ND will be on the schedule for a while as well as a couple MAC schools. Why not look to the some of the other lower level D1 conferences for games? The lower level Conference USA schools, some lower level WAC schools and maybe some Sunbelt schools. I'm guessing a good amount of those schools wouldn't mind having a visit to Ann Arbor on their schedule to use it as a recruiting tool.
I understand the reasoning for wanting as many home games as possible, but waiting until there's less then a year away from the start of the season to finalize your schedule really leaves you with limited options. It's poor planning on Martin's part imo.
To the average fan there isn't much difference between UMass and Middle Tennessee or Memphis or San Jose State, and, honestly there isn't much of one to me. They're just teams Michigan should crush no matter what. They'll have a tepid crowd with plenty of no-shows, be televised on the BTN, and be immediately forgotten unless something terrible happens.
In that context, I understand reaching for I-AA teams. They're cheaper and the chance you get upset is lower. The issue here isn't really which overmatched team you bring in, it's the entire concept. People would be rolling their eyes just as fervently if it was Louisiana-Monroe or Idaho being kicked around as a potential opponent.
I can't speak to the poor planning, as I don't know the specifics of what's going on.
p.s. - If RR continues to be successful in promoting the spring game, could that help with freeing up money for home and homes? Even if you're only charging $10, if you get 60-70,000 people through the gate by the time you add on concessions, parking, etc. that's probably over a million dollars in revenue.
Probably not. Michigan got 50k this year for free… how many would they get if they ticked people off by charging?
I thought the big fix to the nonconference problem would come from television revenues, but Bruce Madej says that all revenues, including nonconference ones, are split evenly with conference members. So Indiana is making just as much from Texas-OSU as Ohio State. This is obviously a huge disincentive to schedule a real opponent.
This question is another question and not an insane leap from Scott above:
First, what differentiates an OL recruit/player from tackle/guard/center? Right or left side? Certainly some players can handle multiple positions, but how is their ideal position determined?
Second, why are slot receivers typically short? Isn't the key attribute being fast? Would an equally fast but tall player work just as well or better?
One: Mostly height. Ideal tackle height is from 6'6" to 6'9". Interior linemen can be much shorter: David Molk is listed at 6'2" and may be even smaller.
Why should tackles be so tall? Height usually brings long arms with it, and long arms help contain outside pass rushers and generally do wonders in pass protection. Michael Lewis tackles (ha!) the subject in The Blind Side:
The ideal left tackle was big, but a lot of people were big. What set him apart was his more subtle specifications. He was wide in the ass and massive in the thighs: the girth of his lower body lessened the likelihood that Lawrence Taylor, or his successors, would run right over him. He had long arms: pass rushers tried to get in tight to the blocker's body, then spin off of it, and long arms helped to keep them at bay. He had giant hands, so that when he grabbed ahold of you, it meant something.
But size along couldn't cope with the threat to the quarterback's blind side, because that threat was also fast. The ideal left tackle also had great feet. Incredibly nimble and quick feet. Quick enough feet, ideally, that the the idea of racing him in a five-yard dash made the team's running backs uneasy. He had the body control of a ballerina and the agility of a basketball player. The combination was incredibly rare. And so, ultimately, very expensive.
I've seen Jake Long, perhaps the ideal left tackle, in action and at no point did he remind me of a ballerina but set aside that bit of fluffery and there you go.
On the other hand, in the interior space is restricted. Unless something strange happens no one is going to run right by you, and therefore you can put guys who are just about as nimble but squatter and more powerful there. In a traditional running game* guards and centers would like very much to take a defensive lineman and blow him off the ball. That requires leverage: the #1 line cliché of all time is "low man wins". Being (sort of) short is a head start on being low. Think of Pat Massey, and then think of Terrance Taylor.
As far as right or left side: at tackle the guy on the left is the star because he's protecting the quarterback's blindside (unless that QB is left handed). So the best pass protection guys go there, the guys with the most experience and most ideal tackle physique. The guy on the right has a lot of responsibility there too but usually ends up being less slanted towards pass protection just because most teams don't have two Jake Longs.
*(What about Michigan? Michigan's more about cutting linemen off and getting guys in space against one guy who's not quick enough to cut up with you. Rather than driving the defender backwards your main priority is to either 1) get on the right side of him and prevent yourself from getting plowed into the tailback or 2) take your man's existing motion to the ball and shove him right past the action. Guards are still shorter because it's a lot easier to find a 6'3" guy with the requisite agility than a 6'6" guy.)
Two: The key attribute in a slot receiver is not raw speed but quickness. While a slot receiver is rarely going to get his tiny little legs moving at full cartoon speed, he is going to have 210-pound linebackers attempting to put their helmets through his ribcage plenty. Once you catch that swing pass or bubble screen, the ability to juke the first guy out of his jock is way more important than what your velocity is after ten yards in a straight line.
I'm sure Rodriguez wouldn't mind a 6-foot slot a la Peter Warrick, but those guys are rare. 5'8" guys with dreads who can teleport short distances are in better supply and less demand. So it's considerably easier to get the best or second-best 5'8" guy in the country, as Michigan did with Jeremy Gallon, than the best 6-foot one.