somehow we're only 124th
Site business. Two things:
- I am getting married this Saturday in a top-secret location far away from any images of Fielding Yost. I am taking Friday and Monday off; Tom and Tim will produce content as per usual. If you've got a diary you want front-paged this would be an opportune time to post it. Content from me will be light this week because a bunch of friends I don't get to see will be in town, etc.
- I'm warning you about this a month ahead of time: honeymoon is in late July for about ten days and I am probably not even going to take my computer.
Your understanding is appreciated.
I'm partial to the rally pickle myself.
Mascot business. I took a rage day so that I wouldn't say anything regrettable in the aftermath of the mascot trial balloon, leaving the rest of the world to offer Dave Brandon a raspberry and Brandon to quickly clarify that while he is all seeing and all knowing he is very very wily and no mascot is pending. Even while doing so he leaves himself an out, saying it "may never happen."
Q: In retrospect do you believe that Brandon announcing the OSU game would be moving to midseason was really a super-clever way to get everyone outraged about it and therefore ensure it doesn't happen?
The M-Zone makes a compelling case that we should not. After that fan explosion we've had the uniform business and the mascot business and at about the same time we've had the night game business. (While I don't care that much about having a night game, it is a departure from tradition.) The evidence points towards Dave Brandon being so intent on "creating the future" that he has absolutely no grasp on what's important to the fanbase until everyone's freaking out about it.
Worse, he spends time belittling the kind of people who do really care. From the inbox:
Below response to my (very short and very respectful) email to Dave Brandon today asking him to reconsider a Michigan mascot. I actually responded to this, against my better judgment, and said that if there's a man in a furry wolverine costume on the sideline than it'll wind up being more life-changing for him than for me.
Please don’t be too concerned over this life-changing topic!
All will be OK…
Have a great weekend!
I'm not sure how this happened since Dave Brandon was actually on the team under Bo, but the current athletic director appears to have no more connection to Michigan's traditions than—wait for it—Rich Rodriguez.
I really care about what goes on inside Michigan Stadium; Brandon thinks this makes me a sap.
At least he's not alone.
Convenient timing. Meanwhile, one of the main counter-arguments against Old Testament kind of guys who like their coffee black, parole denied, and Michigan Stadium old-timey is that if we don't get that cheddar Michigan will be left in the dust by its rivals.
Presenting Michigan's 2012 budget:
For the proposed FY 2012 Operating Budget (described in detail on the following pages), we project an operating surplus of $11.4 million based on operating revenues of $121.2 million and operating expenses of $109.8 million. The budgeted operating surplus will be will be used to fund our ongoing capital needs and facility renewal projects.
Bill Martin's great accomplishment was killing the immediate cheddar issue dead without compromising the brand that packs the largest stadium in the country. Further squeezing starts to impact the uniqueness of the Michigan experience and erodes the reasons people shell out as much as they do.
Unfair and true and BERGKAMP. Here is Denard Robinson's 87-yard touchdown against Notre Dame last year, first narrated by Tom Hammond, then your inner monologue:
It's not fair comparing Tom Hammond to whoever the BERGKAMP guy is, but he does have a point. Maybe Americans get more confused about whether sports is serious business worthy of objectivity or not.
For a counterpoint EDSBS immediately goes to Sean McDonough, who's the first guy I thought of, too:
Q: Franklin is retired and Nessler is now on the NFL network, so is McDonough now the undisputed #1 college football announcer? I can't think of anyone I'd rather have doing a Michigan game.
Welcome to the field. The O-Zone reports on the latest edition of the Big 33 PA-OH All-Star game, in which Ohio annihilated Pennsylvania. Featured amongst the players of interest is WLB signee Antonio Poole:
Antonio Poole, LB Cincinnati Winton Woods 6'0” 195 (Michigan)
I think Poole may have been the most impressive defensive player on the field. He's only listed at 6'0” 195 pounds, but he sticks ball-carriers right between the numbers and they stay stuck. When he's in pursuit, he looks much bigger than he is. He certainly hits much bigger than he is. He may not be big enough to play linebacker in the Big Ten right now, but the Wolverines may not be able to wait.
That's true—WLB is currently Mike Jones and maybe Brandin Hawthorne.
Goalie zen part XVI. Red Line Report is down on this year's crop of goalies but they do have a solid #1. Prepare for the same scouting report you've heard several times before:
The clear-cut No. 1 guy is John Gibson, who combines excellent size and a calm demeanor in the most important games. He plays economically and is strong in the butterfly, using his long legs to take away the bottom half of the net. Gibson is a big netminder who plays big, challenging well and not leaving much space for shooters to look at. He's also calm and patient and allows the play to come to him. We like his mental strength and focus in clutch situations.
They don't like the other Gibson, so John is the only goalie they give a first round grade.
Etc.: Penn State blog Linebacker U interviews Tom for his perspective on Michigan and Penn State recruiting.
no sir I would not like to be your neighbor
you smell like deep-fried deep fryers
and you make the new big ten geographically incoherent
STOP LOOKING AT ME LIKE THAT AAAH
The Big Ten hockey conference is coming, bringing with it questions like "how do you structure the playoffs in a six-team conference?" Since this is America everyone gets their participation trophy berth, but then you have some options. Specifically these:
A single-elimination format at a neutral site in which all six teams are seeded according to regular-season performance. The lowest four seeds play for the right to face one of the top two seeds.
• A two-weekend model in which the four lowest-seeded schools play a best-of-three series for the right to advance to a final four, single-elimination set-up staged at the home of the top seed.
• A three-weekend arrangement in which the teams are seeded and the highest seeds host a best-of-three series. The four lowest seeds play for the right to face one of the top two seeds in a best-of-three series hosted by the highest seed. The highest seed hosts the championship series.
Wisconsin is supporting the first of these because formats other than the WCHA's Final Five confuse and frighten them. They probably saw a sixth team show up to the Final Five this year* and fled to the comforting bosom of the Big Ten.
If the rest of college hockey was in charge here they would permanently site in St. Paul because the Midwest doesn't exist. Fortunately, the Big Ten is apparently set on rotating the playoffs through Chicago, Detroit, and maybe Pittsburgh should a neutral site be required.
But… like… it shouldn't. The amount of money you can make from five games at a neutral site is way less than you can make from 10-15 games at campus sites unless you're expecting a Big Ten tournament to sell out, which it won't. (And even then it's probably about equal.) You have two sets of fans separated from each other by a lake. Ohio State and Michigan State fans will simply not show up. MSU fans don't show up to their own building, and didn't even when they were good. Penn State fans are undetermined but they are a very long way away from anything except Pittsburgh so banking on Nittany Lions to show up en masse is foolhardy, especially when they're probably not going to be very good for a while.
Meanwhile, the NCAA is not going to fork over extra games to the Big Ten for having an abbreviated playoff. So the advantages of a three-weekend series format are many:
- it is more hockey
- it is more money
- it is less random
- it is more important to finish well so you get home games
- it does not randomly assign home ice to whichever team happens to be closest to the playoff
The advantages of a single neutral site:
- it is good practice for playing an NCAA regional in an embarrassingly empty cavern of a building
- it is less frightening to Wisconsin
The Final Five works so well for the WCHA because they had eight fanbases within a few hours of Minneapolis. (They've got seven now since they traded BSU and UNO for Minnesota and Wisconsin.) Anyone who makes it can show up at the X with no trouble. That won't be the case in the Big Ten, which has only six fanbases, three of which are questionable. The three that aren't are separated by a lake and massive airfares since Minneapolis and Detroit are both Delta hubs, and the fans who would hypothetically go to them are facing down trips to randomly-selected regionals and the Frozen Four the next three weeks. A neutral site is not a good idea.
But this is college hockey, so they'll put it in the Sudan.
OTHER ITEM OF INTEREST: The article mentions that the displaced Big Ten teams "hope to" fill their schedule with eight games against WCHA and CCHA teams, leaving six (or eight if you go to Alaska) left for random nonconference series. Conveniently, eight games is how many it takes for this blog's State of Michigan-ish Championship idea to come to fruition.
OTHER END OF THE BENCH GUY: Via Michigan Hockey Net, a defenseman with 27 points in 122 games as the Omaha Lancers' captain has committed for next year. He's Mike Chiasson, and if that name sounds familiar: yes, he is former Red Wing Steve Chiasson's son. The elder Chiasson died in a car wreck 12 years ago, after which the family moved to Nevada.
Anyone committing this late is almost certainly a walk-on and Michigan has six guys slotted for playing time next year, but depth is depth and it's always good to add junior captains. Also here's Chiasson fighting some dude.
*[The WCHA added UNO and BSU, thus necessitating a sixth team. In a very Big Ten move, the WCHA refused to change the name. That turned out to be prescient.]
RAM JAM! RAM JAM! also more video at Yost Built.
[Ed-M: A scoring forward? This is a mechayeh!]
I don't usually do full-blown "this guy just committed" posts for hockey players because the way hockey works right now they're either committing for way down the road and may not actually show up or are not that exciting. Either way there's a paucity of information.
This one's a little different, though, because Princeton decommit and badly-needed top-six forward Zach Hyman chose Michigan yesterday. Then his brother Spencer ju, a 2012 defenseman, committed today. Zach will be on campus this fall propping up Michigan's wonky offense.
While that might be a bit much to ask from a freshman, Hyman's not your ordinary freshman. A 6'2" forward, he was drafted in the fifth round by the Panthers last year and then proceeded to trash his league to the tune of 42-60-102 in 43 games. Like Mike Comrie and Mike Cammalleri before him, he subsequently won the CJHL player of the year award. Yost Built looked at the last decade of CJHL POYs, finding that seven of the ten put up 30 points as a freshman. (Okay, one did it at Sacred Heart.) One of the three to miss was eventual Hobey winner Junior Lessard; the other two both had 30+ point seasons as juniors before collapsing as seniors. If the award isn't necessarily a guarantee combined with getting drafted it seems to be a pretty good indicator. That goes double when the main competition for Hyman was UMD, BU, and BC. (If UMD seems like an odd suitor for a player committed to Princeton and looking at BU/M/BC, he probably considered them because he likes dyeing his hair a ridiculous blond from time to time, too.)
Hyman's decision to play in the OJHL may have depressed his draft stock:
when I go back in my records, it would seem that from Peewee hockey all the way up to Minor Midget, Hyman was right on par with Tyler Seguin, Jeff Skinner, Tyler Toffoli and just a notch behind John McFarland.
However, when I look at our rankings for this year’s NHL Draft, everyone but Hyman is slotted as a first-round choice. Hyman is listed as a third or fourth-round selection.
…to have a kid who was right there with Seguin, Skinner and Toffoli 20 months ago and now is separated by at least 200-plus spots seems a little outrageous. The only other rationale is that we, as scouts, consciously or sub-consciously hold a bias against a kid who pursues his dream of a degree from a U.S. college and for my money, that doesn’t seem right. This kid is the youngest captain in the league and put up 75 points as a sophomore and has coaches and teammates raving about his character and commitment but none of that seems to matter because he is playing at a lower level.
(No prizes for guessing the first comment is a caveman complaining about the lack of fighting in college.) Michigan fans more than anyone else believe a prospect can fade over the course of two years. Luke Moffatt and Tristin Llewellyn were supposed to be five-star type guys when they committed, for example. But in those cases the two weren't performing against USHL competition; Moffatt in particular was directly compared against the top forwards in his age group every night because they were his teammates.
Hyman's annihilated not very good competition and remains a question mark. These biased people think he's great:
“Zach would be the best Christmas present a lot of high-end Division 1 programs could ever get in May,” said Scott Luce, the Panthers’ director of scouting. “He’s in hot demand.” …
Said Anthony Miele, [ed: not Miami star Andy's dad, FWIW] the vice president of Hamilton’s rival Burlington Cougars: “Zach Hyman is one of the best goal scorers this league has ever seen.”
Added Marty Savoy, commissioner of the Ontario Junior Hockey League: “He’s one of those kids who keeps getting better every time you watch him play ... He carries himself like a pro.”
And so does this guy who's either unbiased or biased against him:
I recently took in a workout and this kid has devoted a lot of time in the gym to compete against the men of the Ivy League, but along with being an impressive physical specimen, he showed that he could really play this year as well by putting up 75 points on a decent Tier 2 team while showing he understands the game as well as any in the draft. His dad owns my chief competitor, ISS, so it pains me to say, but this kid may become the steal of the draft. Last year Riley Smith put up 75 points on a powerful St. Michaels Buzzer team and was a third-round pick of the Dallas Stars, and for our money, Smith isn’t even close to this kid in terms of upside.
Also the Sports Rabbi calls him a "true mensch," which I swear is not something I just made up.
Hyman's brother, Spencer, is a 6-foot defenseman who will come in next year. Apparently he decked Lucas Lessio with a single punch at some point and is nicknamed "the bus." With a 4-16-20 line in 49 games, he's not an offensive defenseman. That's about all there is on him; the most notable thing from the Yost Built post is that Tim didn't know "berserker" was a word. No fantasy RPGs for that guy.
Given the below BONUS it's possible Spencer is going to be a preferred walk-on. That's total speculation.
BONUS FOR MEMBERS OF THE TEAM: Zach Hyman's dad has a couple nickels to rub together. Once I went to a Pistons playoff game back when they went to the playoffs, got into the elevator with my crutch-bearing friend, and was joined by a bunch of fit, averaged sized-college dudes headed for a suite. I eventually realized they were Jeff Tambellini and a few other current players. (Bizarrely, the first guy I recognized was then career-backup Noah Ruden.) So that'll probably happen.
BONUS FOR HYMAN'S MOM: Zach was named the most gentlemanly player in the OJHL.
2014? Yeah, that's what Michael Spath is saying at the Wolverine: Allen and Alex Talcott are supposed to be 2014 commits right now. Dollars to donuts Allen will end up a 2013 recruit. I can't remember the last NTDP player with NHL prospects to do a post-grad year.
The other major outrage type thing going on. That would be the bowl system's ticket guarantees that turn bowls from a guaranteed profit to a guaranteed deficit for many. The Wizard of Odds put together a lot of numbers about what's going on with that. Unfortunately he quoted perpetually silly Andrew Zimbalist saying something about a cartel, but whatever. Numbers:
Supporters of the 35-game bowl system argue that the postseason turns a profit. Technically, this is correct, but only because of the BCS, which this season distributed a reported $174.07 million from its five games. Of that amount, 83.4 percent went to the automatic qualifier conferences — the Atlantic Coast, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pacific 10 and Southeastern conferences.
The 30 non-BCS bowl games are, at best, a break-even venture. Without the ticket guarantee, it is likely that half the bowls would not exist.
The Fiesta Bowl's massive chunk of unsold seats is actually economically justifiable since the BCS bowls are a net input into the system. That's not the case when you're UCF, and you're eating nearly a million dollars in unsold Liberty Bowl tickets.
This isn't a playoff argument. The bowl system can continue, but the NCAA is currently transferring money from college students (student fees make up a large portion of the revenue for programs that typically go to rinky-dink bowls) to this guy:
Not literally that guy, but versions of that guy in a different blazer. It's a neat trick to transfer the risk your bowl will be a dud from the organizers to the schools, though.
File Under The Gets It Files, Part XI. You know who Amani Toomer hates? Everybody. If he was going to have a sitcom it would be titled "Amani Toomer Hates Everybody." Amani Toomer does not like anyone. He hadn't been back to Ann Arbor in 15 years. He came back for one of the thousands of Hoke Hand-holding Socials and…
“It was good to be back, good to see some players and people, and I saw coach (Gary) Moeller, which was special,” Toomer said. “I just really felt like a part of the whole Michigan family, more so than I did in the past couple of years.
“I feel more connected than I did before, so that’s always a good step forward.”
Amani Toomer likes Gary Moeller! And Brady Hoke!
This is the point at which I make a very silly assertion about this proving how excellent of a recruiter Brady Hoke is, which may be silly but is also 1000% true.
Requirement. I will join the horde, as required by law. This is Jalen Rose's General Lee:
Readers are advised not to attempt a reconciliation between Rose's comments about Duke and what appears to be a massive Dukes of Hazzard fandom. Smoke will come out of your ears.
Readers are advised to bid on the car, though, which is being auctioned off to help fund Rose's charter school in Detroit. Buy it now for 100 grand. Do it now.
Hockey in the boat. As you can see on the sidebar, Michigan hockey officially announced its recruiting class today. The official site's article has stats and a quote from Berenson on each of the signees; Michigan Hockey Net also points out that two guys weren't listed. That's not because they've decommited but because they're preferred walk-ons. Those two are D Mike Szuma and F Andrew Sinelli. Sinelli not counting as a scholarship guy (except when there are extras, which there usually are since someone always leaves the team) helps explain where they're going to get the room to sign these guys the next few years.
Meta but wow. I can't recall how I got to this article from The Daily (not that Daily: the Rupert Murdoch one) on Lloyd Carr being a nice dude who's in the Hall of Fame hurrah. In thirty seconds the generic newspaperese will fade from my brain, but I'll always remember the time I went to that site to read an article that was a half-meg 768x3072 image and marveled at how random the selection process for executives is. I know it's an iPad app and all but raising a giant middle finger to Google is maybe not the best policy.
How do you short this enterprise?
Etc.: Michigan is two-thirds of the way through its practice reduction. Must have been fairly significant if they could stack it like that. Insert joke about how it all came out of the defense here. Jim Tressel's lawyer, Gene Marsh, was Michigan's lawyer. This time around he's banking on Tressel's body language saving the day. That's the ticket. Ramzy at 11 Warriors appears more enthusiastic about Brady Hoke than most Michigan fans. Also he is also unforgiving of past MGoBlog statements that are now ridiculous. Optimism from Holding The Rope.
This afternoon was last weekend all over again as far as the hockey team is concerned. Max Domi's NCAA dreams turn out to be the usual fiction designed to evade the OHL draft:
- Rumors that Domi is going to be traded to prospect-pirating London are rampant. Deals are always bad news since OHL teams essentially always have the kid they're trading for locked up.
- These rumors are immediately shot down by Kingston, with Doug Gilmour calling them "garbage." Apparently Domi is not allowed to talk to other teams until camp, but OHL rules are flouted so frequently they may as well not exist.
- People more knowledgeable about the ins and outs of the OHL laugh at this as a technicality to make it look like something other than Kingston drafting Domi specifically to trade him to London, apparently the only place he'll report. Kingston has to wait until September for their camp to open, whereupon Domi will fail to report. This will get them a compensatory pick next year, at which point London will trade them some stuff and Domi will go there.
- Michigan Hockey Net noticed that Domi's post-draft tweets about going to Michigan have been erased.
So scratch that. Domi's not coming to Ann Arbor.
In better news, Bob Miller is reporting that Bryson Cianfrone is indeed a Michigan commit and Michael Spath is reporting that Brandon Burlon might not be headed for the pros quite yet. His decision to bolt, even if temporary leaves him with some work to do in class and with the stern glare of Red Berenson, but I'll take some chance of Burlon and a commitment from an otherwise top-ten OHL draft pick over no chance and no Cianfrone.
Now we can all fret about Cianfrone actually showing up, and when that would be. Most likely it he would join the Compher/Motte/Allen class in 2013.
Bryson Cianfrone, Max Domi
If you're a Michigan fan, Saturday's OHL draft was the Best OHL Draft Ever. This isn't exactly a high bar to leap, but not only did Michigan commits plummet well into the "what the hell, why not" range* but Bob Miller of The Wolverine reports Michigan may have actually picked up(!) a commitment instead of lost one:
A very valued source reports this morning that Bryson Cianfrone's selection in the third round of yesterday's OHL draft instead of the first round position he should have held may be due to a commitment to the University of Michigan. Cianfrone is smaller in stature and large in talent. Seen by many as a lock for the first round, he fell to hometown (Toronto area) Brampton in the third round.
The third round is not quite what-the-hell territory but that drop is significant. I poked around some OHL mock drafts published before Saturday, and all had him in the top ten because he is "explosive." Yost Built has more details. As a small, skilled Italian center from Toronto the comparisons to Cammalleri are inevitable, but Miller says he's more of a Shouneyia—a playmaker. I'm not sure how reliable this site is but it says Cianfrone will graduate in 2012, which means he could be a very young freshman next year if he so desired.
The other possibility is that Cianfrone really wanted to go to Brampton for some reason and he'll sign. We'll see. If Cianfrone is really ready to go in 2012 that means one fewer year cooling his heels and indicates he's the kind of student who puts a priority on his education.
Meanwhile, while Max Domi did go to Kingston like everyone figured he would, the second thing everyone thought he'd do—reconsider the college thing for the OHL and his dad's old teammates—hasn't happened yet. In fact, the younger Domi tweeted he'd be at Michigan yesterday:
@jjmarks16 naw man im not playing for kingston... heading down to the ushl and playing for inde i think
@jjmarks16 ya man im heading down to michigan u in 2 years
Doug Gilmour also said his first round pick wasn't going to report:
“I spoke to Tie and his ex-wife Leanne (recently) and their decision is to go elsewhere right now,” Gilmour said. “But this is junior hockey and there could be changes. If he wants to play in this league, it's kind of up to us. I'd love to have him.”
If that seems insane to you, remember that the OHL now gives you a compensatory draft pick one slot lower if you don't get your first-rounder signed. They may think it's worth the flier that Max doesn't take to the USHL since the cost isn't that steep.
So is that, like, a commitment? We're past the OHL draft and so there's no reason to say you're going to Michigan unless you're… like… going to Michigan. If so that would put Domi in the 2013 class with Compher, et al. (Note: I had erroneously assumed Domi was a 2012 prospect earlier.) If only hockey had developed an intricate hat dance rite that marked a prospect's passage into commitmenthood. Then we would know and pester Chris Heisenberg to update his spreadsheet.
In any case, the possible additions of Cianfrone and Domi in 2012/2013 would create a huge logjam at forward. Those two would bulge Michigan's forward corps to 17 in 2013, and while you have to expect some attrition there aren't a whole lot of early departure types on that list save Boo Nieves (who would be a sophomore) and maybe Alex Guptill (a junior). Two years is a long time to keep 17 kids in the boat, though, and Domi and Cianfrone are still liable to wriggle out.
Bonus Random Scouting
Since the world gets scouted for the OHL draft it provides an opportunity for Michigan fans to figure out just what kind of player they can expect at Yost in a couple years. A few bits on Evan Allen:
Silverstick MVP. Absolutely punishing hitter that plays with a mean streak. Did a great job of overwhelming the Marlies in their lone meeting this season. Very solid skill set, and obvious point producer. Most likely going to be a part of the USNDP team.
“Speedy forward who competes at a very high level. Possesses a very good shot with a pro-style release.”
“Reads the play in the offensive zone well. Extremely dangerous in the goal scoring area. If my team needed a goal, this is the guy I want with the puck on his stick.”
“Good north/south skating prospect with excellent acceleration. Not afraid to go to the tough areas of the ice to score. Another player that improved his overall game by playing Major Midget this season.”
Miller also reproduced the OHL media guide descriptions of Domi, Compher, Cianfrone, and Guertler. Save Compher, They're all small, skilled, and explosive.
*[Motte, Compher, Allen, and Talcott were all drafted after the tenth round and only Allen went to a team (Windsor) with any rep for picking off Americans with college commitments. Michigan target Gabe Guertler went in the sixth but if Michigan really has commitments from Cianfrone and Domi I can't see how they can cram him onto the roster, too.]