i may have altered the title
See what I did there?
The Zeiglering. According to Trey Zeigler, Trey Zeigler will announce his college destination on ESPNU tomorrow. A guy named Drew Ellis said he was delaying his decision, but on matters related to Trey Zeigler my number one source is Trey Zeigler. His destination is unknown but Michigan and Central Michigan, where his dad just picked up a four-year extension, are usually the teams mentioned as having the best shot. UCLA doesn't think it's part of the festival and Arizona State didn't get a visit and is almost definitely out of the picture. Michigan State is the other team in Ziegler's top five. They have a logjam at the three with Keith Appling and others, though.
ESPNU's signing day special kicks off at 4 PM, which means we'll be waiting anxiously for an hour before Zeigler shows up. No one has anything approaching solid information. I think it's Central but I am biased to believe nothing good will happen with Michigan basketball recruiting.
Fun. I don't know if this means anything other than the NCAA doing its due diligence:
"The NCAA has met with individuals involved with the West Virginia football program to identify any potential rules violations," school officials said in a statement, released on Tuesday. "The university has fully cooperated with the NCAA during this process. West Virginia University and its department of intercollegiate athletics is committed to operating its athletics department in conformance with the legislation and policies of the NCAA and the Big East Conference."
We'll see if anything comes of it. Right now it's just a phone call and another opportunity for people to restate their opinions about how Rodriguez should or should not be fired.
Epic Red. The Daily continues its series of articles that have no-foolies established it as probably the best newspaper of any variety covering Michigan sports. Seriously. the sort of long-form profile/investigative pieces that are the main thing people point to when they lament the coming end of newspapers have been almost exclusively the province of the Daily this year. There was the Pahokee article, the Antonio Bass profile, and now a look at Red Berenson 26 years into his career as Michigan's head coach. Here's Red recruiting Chris Fox:
“If you want to be a Michigan Man, you should know in the next week,” the coach said to the recruit, who looked and felt much more like a kid than he did when he walked into the office just minutes before. “It will just become clear.”
It became clear.
Quarterback. Rapper. Auteur. David Cone has a short film in the Statesboro Film Festival. Seriously.
/in before lame freep joke based on ending.
A "these are my readers" moment. So a junior clarinet major at Michigan sends me this Microsoft paint reimagining of Tom Harmon:
It's a revamp of a Terran Marine:
By his account, this took Andrew Kobalka seven hours. He asked I not retouch it before posting.
Yeah… these are my readers. I am a privileged man.
Vada update. It kind of sucks that I'm tracking the progress of three separate former Michigan players battling cancer, but at least the news on all three has been encouraging of late. Vada Murray's wife has just updated their caringbridge site and the news in it seems positive:
We needed more tissue in order for the tissue to be tested to get Vada into a very promising clinical trial. In order to get into this trial, Vada's cancer needed to carry a particular mutation. After lots of waiting for the trial to be approved, a screw up at the lab, and many sleepless nights, we learned recently that Vada's cancer does carry this mutation. The presence of the mutation is significant. Only 7% of non-smoking adenocarcinoma patients carry this mutation. We haven't felt recently like the odds have been in our favor, but now they are. We plan to head to Karmanos shortly for some tests & his official "start" of the trial.
Vada has felt great physically but emotionally has been out of gas, especially for the last two months.
So there's that. Phil Brabbs just underwent a bone marrow transpant and seems in good spirits.
We cheer and cheer again. Touch The Banner brings a reveal and a story. The reveal: epic MGoCommenter Magnus was in the glee club. The story comes from the GC's 150th anniversary celebration, which featured one Lloyd Carr:
Coach Carr told a story about former UMMGC director Willis Patterson, who directed the group from 1969 to 1975. When Carr was head coach, he invited Patterson to teach his players how to sing "The Victors," Michigan's fight song. After ten years of teaching the team the song, Patterson once said to Carr, "You know, those players just aren't very good at singing that song."
Carr responded, "Well, who's teaching them?"
Etc.: BHGP's latest linkdump post notes that Angry Iowa Running Back Hating God has stricken all three of Iowa's potential starters for their upcoming spring game, documents the annual refugee camp forming outside Carver-Hawkeye, and embeds a truly epic redneck video. WLA propaganda posters ho.
Updated. The depth chart by class has been updated. Let me know if there are errors. I believe Brandin Hawthorne is gunning for a medical redshirt and that Nick Sheridan is going the GA route this year. I put Baquer Sayed on it since he seems like he has a chance to contribute. By my count, Michigan has 13 to give right now, so a class of 18 or so is probably in the cards next year.
Jalen winners. The four winners of signed Jalen Rose t-shirts: Lauren Leb, Brandon Cox, Nathan McFeters, and Brooks Dunn. Congrats. As a bonus, Jalen roped in Jimmy King so your shirts have bonus signatures.
This happened, technically. There was a meeting about the NCAA thing:
The University of Michigan Board of Regents discussed the NCAA investigation into the football program on Wednesday, The Associated Press has learned.
A person familiar with the session confirmed the probe was part of the discussion. The person spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because the school is not disclosing any details of what it calls an informal meeting.
Really? Fascinating. Details?
The person did not discuss any details with the AP.
Outstanding. Obviously, if I hear anything that qualifies as information I will relay it.
Antonio Bass, in repose. Outstanding article in the Daily on Antonio Bass, a man with cojones:
Late that night, Carr’s phone rang.
“Coach, I just wanted to tell you,” Bass said in a slow, deliberate voice. “I’ve made my decision. I’m going to Michigan State.”
Bass today says he could feel Carr’s normally warm, welcoming personality, the one Carr reserved for all his players, stiffening up. His voice became cold, formal.
“Well, Antonio, I wish you luck up there,” Carr said.
Silence. Bass held in a chuckle as long as he could before blurting out, “Nah, coach, I’m just playing. I’m ready to be a Wolverine.”
If deadly silences could kill, eh? Bass is walking in May with a communications degree.
CONEOFF. The Coner has graduated, but there must be another goofy fan favorite backup quarterback who pwns Michigan's I-AA opponent. Candidate #1 is obvious: Conelius Jones. His name is Cone from the future.
Candidate #2 has the flow, though, and support from spectacularly named walk-on Ohene Opong-Owusu. Here's Jack Kennedy:
It's… kind of good. Isn't it? I mean, given your expectations going in it vastly exceeded them, right?
In the Times. Two(!) relevant items, one of them with a big honking picture of Michigan's new athletic director and quotes from Mary Sue Coleman. It, unsurprisingly, is a trend piece on athletic departments hiring corporate CEOs:
“That business experience is almost essential,” said Mary Sue Coleman, the Michigan president, who said she also hired Brandon because he had strong ties to the university, having played football for the Wolverines and served as a university regent.
Still, she said, “It’s hard for me to imagine a successful athletic director these days that doesn’t have a deep understanding and skills for the financial side of an athletic department.”
The other is an analysis of the possible ripple effects from Big Ten expansion. OSU's president is the guy most heavily quoted. This is the most disturbing quote:
“I do think the Big Ten holds a key, maybe the key, in terms of what is going to be the next phase of college athletics,” Ohio State’s Gee said. “We need to explore this carefully. The law of unintended consequences applies most specifically to college athletics.”
I hope that this does not imply one of those super conference things that ends up with 30-team Big Ten facing off with 30-team SEC.
(Brandon HT: The Ann Arbor Chronicle.)
In the year 2000. Mike Hart's ambition remains the same:
Hart has been through a lot in his first two NFL seasons, from a torn ACL as a rookie last year to being waived and re-signed by the Colts twice this season. And he admits he contemplated calling it a career last fall and getting started on "my real life."
And just what might that be?
"I want to coach," Hart said. "And hopefully I'll be the head coach at Michigan one day. That's my goal."
"No joke," Hart said, smiling. "That's ultimately what I want to do. I love Michigan. That's a big part of me."
When Fred Jackson retires (in four years?), every Michigan fan on the planet will want one guy. No matter if it makes any sense, which it might not.
That article also contains a by now standard response to the standard "so… Rich Rodriguez?" question posed all former Michigan football players kicking around the NFL: I support Rodriguez, but he has to win.
So this happened. Will MS Paint ever go too far? If it hasn't already, it won't ever get there:
If you think that's impressive or, more likely, disturbing you should see user LongLiveBo's collection of these that now goes six deep. "Barwis Beach" is a favorite. I hope LLB is a hobo or student, because if he's not his job is really, really boring.
Bzzzt. Mark Snyder got the defensive coordinator job at South Florida, which takes him off Michigan's list for their linebackers opening. He also talked to reporters, including this here site's Tim Sullivan, about the position at halftime of the UConn game. Birkett has a quote currently open in my tabs so we'll go with that:
“Still talking to guys,” Rodriguez said Sunday at halftime of the Michigan-UConn basketball game. “I may do it in a week or 2, I may do it after signing day.”
Hiring a guy right now does not seem like a huge priority. If it was going to get done before signing day it probably would have gotten done at the coaches meetings.
The new name. And since all Michigan coaching news involves the Bulls in some way, the new name on the list is recently departed USF linebackers coach David Blackwell. He's talked with Michigan about the job:
Linebackers coach and co-defensive coordinator David Blackwell has had contact with Michigan about its linebackers job.
Blackwell was officially given his walking papers and is looking for a new gig. As you can see in the table below, Blackwell has extensive experience as a linebackers coach.
That's twelve straight years Blackwell's been coaching the position, eight years as a recruiting coordinator, and one year as the increasingly popular "co-defensive coordinator." His bio has a bunch of accomplishments that are debatably his—it's hard to assign credit or blame to a single position coach, but it is true that Clemson was a consistently excellent defensive team with Blackwell coaching and his departure was because Tommy Bowden got axed, not because he just wasn't hacking it.
Also, if some people are concerned that this might be a sort of crony hire, that's hard to see. Rodriguez was long gone from Clemson by the time Blackwell showed up and whatever weird USF connection he's got going appears totally coincidental since Blackwell only got one year with the Bulls before Jim Leavitt had to choke a walk-on. Rodriguez's familiarity with Blackwell is limited to coaching against his Pitt team for three years early in his tenure at West Virginia and whatever contact he maintained with Tommy Bowden's staff at Clemson. This is not a guy Rodriguez goes way back with.
In Blackwell's single season at USF the Bulls finished 49th in rushing defense, 25th in pass defense, 24th in total defense, and 19th in scoring D. However, some of USF hilariously weak non-conference opponents had something to do with that. Wofford, Western Kentucky, Charleston Southern are two I-AA teams and a team (WKU) that was a I-AA three years ago. Also, those numbers are a slight step back from the previous year, when USF was 10th in rushing D and 11th in total D against a tougher slate of opponents.
In games against actual competition, USF gave up 7 to an explosive Florida State outfit and 19 to West Virginia but 34 to Cincinnati, 41 to Pitt, 31 to Rutgers, 31 to Miami, and 29 to UConn in losses. Not all of those numbers are as bad as that, though. Like Michigan in 2008, USF's defense was crushed once Matt Grothe went out and ridiculously erratic BJ Daniels came in. Daniels seemingly went three-and-out or threw a 70-yard touchdown on every drive, so there were a lot of opportunities for opponents to score.
Also, one year is not a good sample size.
Blackwell also has a twitter. It tends towards multiple exclamation points and was last updated in August.
Brief, unavoidably homoerotic interlude. So this picture of Denard Robinson at his track meet—which MGoBlog covered in detail—has been floating around the internets:
1. Daaaaang. I bet he can punch through a cow.
2. It looks like Denard got a temporary case of Greg Oden disease there, eh? (The one that makes you look old, not the one that makes you have a series of increasingly terrible injuries that cause people to compare you to Sam Bowie.)
3. Pretty sure the big bald white dude in the background is OL coach Greg Frey.
As long as we're talking about Robinson, Devin Gardner finally getting the piece of paper he needed from Inkster and enrolling at Michigan for spring practice opens up a world of possibilities at quarterback. Everyone's got their opinion on this—I've been getting emails about it since Gardner committed—and here's mine. Assumptions:
- Gardner will almost certainly not be better than Tate Forcier this fall. If Michigan gives a freshman quarterback extensive playing time for a third straight year it is bad, Rodriguez-firin' type news.
- Redshirting Gardner is best for both him and the program unless Gardner plays a lot better than he did at the UA game and in the state finals. That throwing motion degraded over the course of the year to the point where he was really pushing the ball; he needs probably a solid year of coaching to go back to the zippy delivery he developed over the summer.
- Robinson didn't even run the zone read last year and is so far behind Tate that once there are other options at quarterback it makes sense to get Robinson's athleticism on the field in any way possible.
So. Tate starts, Gardner is groomed as the backup quarterback but not put on the field unless circumstances demand it. I just can't see a few plays late in blowouts being more helpful for Gardner and the program than a fifth year. If Tate gets dinged for a series or two, Robinson is the guy. If he's out for an extended period, it's time to put in Gardner (and pray). Robinson evolves into a slash player that takes some wildcat-type snaps at quarterback and also functions as a slot receiver/tailback. Michigan should also look at having him return kicks.
Cone, mad flow, nothing new here. Via TomVH, David "Febreze" Cone's latest masterpiece:
(Someone needs to unescape their text.)
This is why you don't hire your head coach as an assistant. I think most people thought West Virginia was in a little bit of trouble when Doc Holliday got snatched up by Marshall, but probably not this much trouble:
Didn't he say that he would not go after Florida commits when he came here as an assistant?
After his "racist" comments while at NC State I never thought I could forgive him. I got over it and accepted him with open arms. After this, I hope he is never welcomed back at WVU.
Hide the trash cans if he comes to the Civic Center on Wednesday.
That was after Holliday swooped in and snake oiled two West Virginia commits away from the 'Eers, so West Virginia fans are probably even more pissed off now that WR Darius Millines pulled the same trick. Add in Richard Ash and Davion Rogers defecting to Michigan and it's been a suboptimal recruiting year in WVU. They're losing recruits like Tennessee did in the aftermath of the Kiffin fiasco… so who's the head coach there anyway?
The other angle: dude, Doc Holliday is some sort of ninja snake charmer if he can get recruits to bail on a consistently top 25 team in a BCS conference for a mediocre CUSA team in the same state.
Etc. Underground Printing is featured at AnnArbor.com. I'm quoted about our relationship, which is working out great. Baseball picked up a commitment from the top player in Illinois. Teric Jones is moving back to offense for spring. Orson goes curling and loves it. In three months he will be Canadian. West Virginians search for Rich Rodriguez vastly more often than people in Ann Arbor.
The lamentation of your women.
via user chunkums
He loves it. The lamentation.
All American. I'm pleasantly surprised that both recruiting networks named Brandon Graham to their All-America teams after he was snubbed by the first of the infinite lists that came out—FWAA or something. Graham and Zoltan the Inconceivable also feature on the AP's second team, which is nice. Zoltan got the second team nod at Scout, too.
This Drew Butler kid who stole first team honors and the Ray Guy award… well… probably deserved it. Before you stone me to death—a fate I willingly accept for such heresy—please let me note that Butler averaged almost 49(!) yards a kick and Georgia led the country with a 42.8 yard net average.
Expansion bits. Various notes and errata on possible expansion:
- Sentiment is running strongly against a move to the Big Ten at Syracuse blog Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician with 56% opposed to a move versus just 19% in favor. In the comments the most commonly cited reason is John Boeheim, who is credited with assembling the Big East with his bare hands and would instantly quit if he had to play in a different sandbox.
- BHGP points out that the BFD with the CIC is post-grad Research I stuff, not necessarily undergraduate education, which Big Ten schools are supposed to look at as a necessary evil.
- Missouri's chancellor said MU would "listen" to the Big Ten should it come calling, so they will at least flirt with a Big 12 departure.
The useful comment thread from the Grid of Judgment has these additional bits of information:
- Pitt's got a monster endowment: $2.334 billion, according to unnecessarily precise poster Don. That's more than anyone in the league except Northwestern and Michigan.
- Multiple posters suggest that Nebraska is seriously pissed off you guys about Texas's reign as supreme unquestioned ruler of the Big 12 and could really give a crap about the rest of the league save for Colorado. Oklahoma already rotates off their schedule.
- Rutgers is apparently a mediocre school on the decline, which explains why there are so many kids from Jersey at Michigan.
And any thread on expansion comes with an increasingly preposterous series of candidate schools that make sense in no way whatsoever: Texas A&M, TCU, Toronto, Vanderbilt, Virginia, Auburn, Rice—seriously, someone suggested Rice—etc.
Virginia Tech seems plausible at first blush but after UVA fought tooth and nail to get them into the ACC lest the governor get out his pimp hand a jump to the Big Ten seems wildly improbable. They would probably be more willing to jump than any other ACC team since they could give a crap about basketball and don't have longstanding rivalries with anyone in the league. Last time I brought this up I mentioned Boston College as a crazy off-board option, and I guess they remain one. They bring a huge market with them but one that is slightly busy with other things, and they don't fit the Big Ten's huge public research university model. They would get tripped up by the Research One thing.
Pitt still looks like the strongest candidate by far. For people wondering about money, remember that Pitt can be slightly less marketable than the Big Ten average—which I don't think they are given their currently monstrous basketball program—and still be a major asset because of the championship game and increased profitability from the Big Ten Network.
As far as divisions go, there's no way to make them work geographically without turning into a version of the Big 12 on steroids by chucking Penn State, Michigan, and Ohio State into the same division. You also can't keep all the rivalries together if Pitt is indeed the pick. You try to split this into six team divisions:
Can't be done without murdering one traditional rivalry or the entire point of putting Pitt in the conference. Missouri is much easier, since you just throw them in with Illinois and Northwestern and put them in the Michigan pod.
I'd prefer an expanded status quo with a ninth conference game, guaranteed rivalry pairs, and a couple byes but apparently you have to have two divisions to have a title game, which is inane but true.
Heismens of all varieties. So the actual Heisman went to a good running back on an undefeated team instead of, you know, the best player in the country. Or even the best running back. A lot of this can be ascribed to the Heisman's bloated list of voters and their lack of accountability. I mean, seriously, here's a guy with a Heisman vote whose ballot read Ingram, Tebow, McCoy:
I never saw Gerhart play an entire game (we work all day Saturday and Saturday night) and only saw a few minutes of Suh’s game against Texas. I refused to vote for somebody based on highlights.
I'm impressed that this guy managed to spin his ignorance into a principled stance against voting "based on highlights" instead of taking a principled stand against voting based on the three football games he saw this year.
So hurrah for the Sports Blog Heisman coming out approximately correct by handing Toby Gerhart the trophy over Ndamukong Suh by one point. Here's guessing that everyone who voted saw Gerhart and Suh for at least one game. Not that bloggers are perfect. A few years ago when Rakes of Mallow was running its now-defunct version of the same thing, the winner was Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan, which ugh.
Of course. Here's Fielding Yost curling in a silly hat:
Etc.: Corwin Brown is out at Notre Dame. If there is an opening on the coaching staff, could he fill it? He doesn't coach LBs, unfortunately, but has slayed on the recruiting trail. Wonk asks "What Happened to Michigan?"