"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
Caption this baby. Caption contests are sometimes compulsory. This is one of those times.
Have at it. Side note: could those two guys look more like Notre Dame graduates? I submit they could not.
Walking on? I had been under the assumption that Kelvin Grady was going to be on scholarship with the football team, but this AA News article suggests otherwise:
Grady met recently with Michigan football coach Rich Rodriguez and received permission to try and walk on with the Wolverines, a university spokesman said Wednesday.
So… Grady might not occupy a scholarship slot. This isn't relevant this year—when he's likely to pick a scholarship up anyway because of low numbers—but provides some additional flexibility in future years. I would assume if Grady becomes a contributor he'll get a scholarship.
How likely is that? Well, his high school coach thinks it's a possibility:
“He’s been training at a very high level in basketball,” Stuursma said. “He has the ability to catch a ball, and learning to run routes comes in a very short time. He is a student of the game and has a very high level of intelligence.” …
“Kelvin on the football field is one of those guys where you kind of hold your breath,” said Stuursma, who also watched Grady change games with explosive kick returns. “He has the opportunity to take it to the house at any time. He’s electrifying and can take over the game with one play, a natural ability you can’t coach.”
Michigan's offense is well suited for zippy small guys, and with Terrance Robinson having some issues catching the ball there's an opportunity for playing time there. His hands must be good, right? And when he fumbles kickoffs he'll be really good at fielding them on the bounce.
Wait… what? After a brief period of about three posts where Adam Rittenberg, ESPN's Big Ten quasi-blogger, linked out to non-mainstream content, he settled down into a familiar pattern: newspaper person links only to newspaper stuff. I don't really blame him, what with corporate monolith considerations and all that. That's just life. But why has he broken this policy to link to an inane list of the "most overrated coaches" at Heisman Pundit?
That content has literally zero value. It could have been farted out by a monkey. Sample insight on Tressel, citing his conservative offensive tendencies: "It's almost as if he is satisfied to lose, as long as it is his way." Did I merely imagine Troy Smith throwing 30 touchdowns and winning the Heisman in 2006? Because if I did, that would be awesome. I pray someone is about to smack me into consciousness on the morning of the 2006 Ohio State game with Tressel poised to run 70% of the time.
There's a ton of funny or interesting content that actually takes time and research being published in the blogosphere. Here's some great stuff on underdog strategies from Smart Football. Here's an in-depth look at Rodriguez offenses past and what makes them good from When Carcajous Attack(!). Here's MVictors talking with Minnesota's AD about whether a 2010 Michigan-Minnesota nonconference game was actually a possibility. All contain far more value than yet another offseason list put together by some guy BRINGING IT STRONG.
There's a disconnect here, isn't there? I actually feel bad for Rittenberg, who has to put out a mountain of ephemeral content like "Top 30 Players In The Big Ten" that serves no other purpose than to generate a tiny burst of link traffic instead of getting to concentrate on pieces with lasting value. But he shouldn't mistake the insistent demands of the page view god for quality content elsewhere.
Speaking of all those posts. Yes, MVictors got the scoop on this weird possibility of a Michigan-Minnesota nonconference game. It won't happen, but it was discussed:
MVictors: Were you interested?
Maturi: There are different kinds of scheduling. When you’re Minnesota and you’re trying to improve your program and to be successful, I’m really thankful to coach Brewster for his willingness to play a tougher schedule. Saying that, we had already scheduled Southern Cal for next year . I’m not a real brilliant guy, but I’m not so sure it’s in the best interest of Minnesota football to play Southern Cal and Michigan in back-to-back weeks. Non-conference, so-to-speak. As a result, if we had not scheduled Southern Cal I would have been very interested.
That's sort of encouraging, I guess, for folks who would like to see another interesting 2010 nonconference game—ie, everyone—but discouraging if an oddity like that is Michigan's best hope. More over there, including Bill Martin writing a check to Minnesota for a new stadium in a huff.
Meanwhile, this When Carcajous Attack(!) post is extensive and hard to really blockquote from, so let's just hit the outline:
Under what circumstances does Rodriguez’s spread-option offense really start hitting on all cylinders?
When certain key ingredients were present and well-mixed into the offensive game plan, Rodriguez showed a tremendous yield of both offensive firepower (yards gained, points scored) and victories. All of Rich Rodriguez’s most powerful offensive units featured three key components.
I.) Quarterbacks With Wheels
II.) Tailback Tandems from Hell
III.) Slot Machines (and Quarterbacks That Crank The Handle)
There are many examples of Rodriguez's past combined with Michigan's; take a gander.
(Sidenote II: hey, kids and doctors! I see you taking your tables and posting them in image format, which is subpar because 1) the google can't see you, 2) the page loads slower, and 3) no one can C&P your work easily and build on it. Instead of screen-grabbing your spreadsheet program, try Tableizer.)
Save the MSU game, the Wolverines beat the opponent’s average in each game over the second half of the season.
It's true: Michigan was an outstanding rush offense in three games, average in two others, and poor against MSU. That replicated over the course of the season would shoot Michigan into territory not quite as lofty as that experienced by Rodriguez at West Virginia, but close. And if you remember Michigan State's snap-jumping excess in last year's game…
As we now know, there weren't really variable pauses between the hand clap and the snap, which allowed Michigan State to jump the snap count time and again to mostly good effect. They picked up a few offsides calls, but they also got incompletions, stuffed runs, and sacks because their guys were moving before Michigan's OL could even get out of their stances.
…you know that there was a significant mitigating factor in Michigan's single subpar rushing effort in the season's second half, one that's unlikely to be repeated with a more experienced center and line.
And what's more, Michigan returns literally everyone relevant to that performance with another year of experience and Barwis under their belts. This is your major reason for hope in 2009.
Loeffler Jr.? Loeffler on his younger doppelganger:
Q:Was it exciting to see Nick Sheridan get playing time last fall?
A:Nick Sheridan, I love like a son. He loves Michigan and is going to do everything that's asked of his coaches and is an impeccable young man, and one day he'll be one heck of a football coach.
Nihilism factor EXTREME operative principle engage embed engage emb—
Oh my God. Make it stop. The Greg Paulus story has blossomed into the largest, most annoying complete non-story I've ever had the privilege to follow on the internet. I intended to fire and forget the post on his possible transfer with maybe an update along the lines of "hey, we might not have to play Nick Sheridan at any point this year, but then again he's actually played football sometime in the last four years so maybe he'll still be in front of Paulus."
No such luck. My feed reader over the past few days has been updated with a million breathless updates about The Man Who Will Compete With Sheridan. It's been heavily featured on Sportscenter, PTI, and every other show where people yammer about sports. And for what?
Again: we are talking about a person who is not obviously better than Sheridan and hasn't played football seriously in the last four years. People are digging up breathless scouting reports about what a freakin' incredible quarterback he is, but this isn't like LeBron James suddenly had an epiphany and decided he'd play football. Paulus is a 6'2" pocket passer who hasn't read a defense in four years. He doesn't fit the offense. He has no long term future. He will be at least six months behind Tate Forcier when he steps on campus.
Barring injury, what are the chances Paulus ever sees a meaningful snap at Michigan? There are none. What is the downside of allowing Paulus to walk-on and play at quarterback? There is none. You cannot bar injury, after all.
When Nick Sheridan went down with an injury, I'm sure Tate Forcier took on the mentality of a starting quarterback and began to take command of the huddle and build trust with the first team offense almost immediately. Now he has to look over and see a guy with a huge reputation and the immediate support of the Wolverine nation (as Mike said, they're already selling "Paulus for Heisman" shirts).
You too, gibbering Matt Hayes:
The guy who played point guard for Duke the past four seasons, who hadn't picked up a football in four years before, you know, getting his arm loose recently, could be the starting quarterback at Michigan this fall.
Maybe it's not really a red flag.
Maybe it's time to panic.
Hayes later name checks "walk-on" David Cone. Argh. Someone stop this man from having opinions. Offering Greg Paulus a walk-on spot is a perfectly sensible thing to do when you have three scholarship quarterbacks on campus and one of them is the Coner. It means nothing.
So why are we talking about this? Because Paulus was an annoying, bad point guard at Duke. This has no relevance to his football career except insofar as it's barred him from having one. But it's engaged the dread gears of the sports pundit noise machine because it's weird and everyone kind of hates Paulus for being a privileged white kid at Duke. And then people start talking about the noise itself and everything builds and I become very, very cross, and it all gets very meta and even dumber.
GREG PAULUS HAS WHAT PLANTS CRAVE. GREG PAULUS MAKES YOU WIN AT YELLING. GREIFNEFISSHSFIGHSING ISNEGH ISFIVN IWEWJNFIWN!!!
Whoah, nellie. The basketball teams is popping up on a number of early top 25 lists, which seems justifiable with only walk-ons and noncontributors on the way out and someone, anyone taller than 6'4" on the way in. I'd slot them just outside, but I can see sticking them in towards the end. Or, if you're Andy Katz, the beginning:
11. Michigan: John Beilein has made the Wolverines relevant again. He got the Wolverines to the NCAA tournament and won a game. Expect even more from Michigan with a true Michigan State-Michigan rivalry in hoops. These should be the two top teams in the league. Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims might flirt with the NBA draft, but both are unlikely to stay in it. If they return with sharp-shooting guard Stu Douglass and quickly developing players Zack Novak and Laval Lucas-Perry, the Wolverines will be a good watch.
!?!?! Uh… Purdue? Illinois? Pending NBA departures, no Big Ten team that picked up a bid loses more than a couple spare parts except Wisconsin and maybe the Illini, who lose a lot of minutes but from low-usage guys who can't be that hard to replace. State loses Suton but they'll live; BJ Mullens is in the draft but was a major disappointment last year and Ohio State gets David Lighty back anyway. Minnesota returns everyone of note.
If Michigan finishes second in the Big Ten next year I'll be ecstatic.
Moving on up, mostly. The final CSB rankings are out. F Chris Brown remains Michigan's top-ranked player eligible for the draft, dropping one slot to #30. Others:
- 2010 D Mac Bennett moved up from 63 to 40.
- F Kevin Lynch slid from 83 to 100, though his smokin' hot international tourney(pdf; Lynch leads the USA team in scoring) may reverse that trend.
- D Lee Moffie moved way up from 210 to 135.
- F AJ Treais moved up from 205 to 170.
That's a significant uptick in the draft stock of Michigan's incoming class (and a small chunk of 2010). Moffie is now in an area where he'll definitely get drafted; Treais is the only incoming recruit likely to slip through the cracks.
"We talked about all that as a family, and we felt that we didn't want to leave that way," Weis said during a recent 35-minute interview with the Tribune. "That would have been the easy way out. That's not why we came here."
What was that conversation like?
WEIS: I'm thinking about quitting, 5'3", 78 pound son of mine with a 3.7 GPA and 20/80 vision.
SON: Isn't that--
WEIS: Also you were born at 1:18 AM on February 17th.
SON: Isn't that--
WEIS: In a hospital. With doctors. Who had heads and legs and arms.
SON: –the easy way out?
WIFE: That's not why we came here. Also you would be walking away from enough money to buy Slovenia, whereupon we could deport simple goatherd Drew Sharp to a far more unpalatable nation.
WEIS: By jove, you're right.
SON: Speaking of easy ways out, I'm going to skip the next three days of school because you couldn't beat Greg Robinson.
WEIS: That sounds totally reasonable. Do you want to be the offensive line coach?
This has been picked up by College Game Balls and Dr. Saturday as something to note. They forget the #1 rule of Charlie Weis: everything that comes out of Weis' mouth is designed for the self-aggrandization of Charlie Weis. The "easy way out" involves forfeiting some fifteen million dollars; the hard way involves Weis being paid more than the GDP of Sri Lanka to lead Notre Dame to a ill-gotten BCS blowouts every few years. Weis' decided schematic advantage here is with the millions of dollars.
Elsewhere in Notre Dame: Dallas is trying to steal away the College Football Hall of Fame from South Bend, which pays the organization for the privilege of hosting. Yes, it's so perfectly Notre Dame to pay the CFHOF to stay in your decrepit one-moose town just for the vague prestige it brings in your own mind.
If you're like me, the only time the CFHOF has ever crossed your mind (other than articles about its potential move, which come out seemingly every year) was during this blessed event:
So, yeah, I'm onboard with moving it anywhere else. Dallas kind of sucks as a destination, but it's just wrong for the thing to be in the worst college town on the planet.
Seconded. Interesting proposal put forth by a member of Michigan's compliance staff in re: coaches' phone calls:
Judy Van Horn, the associate athletics director and senior woman administrator at Michigan, wants to abolish rules about phone calls she feels are unenforceable. “If you have a coach who is intent on cheating, all they have to do is not give you all the phone numbers,” said Van Horn, who is also president of the National Association for Athletics Compliance.
Van Horn’s idea is to put the power into the hands of the student-athletes. Athletes who are inundated by calls or have coaches contacting them from universities they are not interested in attending would be able to go to the N.C.A.A.’s online eligibility center and pull up a list and click on those programs with which they no longer wanted to be associated. An e-mail message would be sent to compliance officers at those universities and the coaches would be told to stop calling. If the calls continued, the recruit could report it to the N.C.A.A.
Van Horn then raises the specter of unscrupulous coaches using disposable phones to avoid detection, which is like… really? Is this The Wire? Who is Ron Zook's Stringer Bell? Is Juice Williams going to get sick of going to every convenience store in a two-state radius and just buy a bunch from one store at the prodding of his annoying girlfriend?
Anyway, this is a limited version of the idea that recruits should be able to sign non-binding letters of intent. This got a fuller discussion before, but the general idea:
- Allow kids to sign LOIs before signing day.
- Anyone who's signed a LOI can't be called by opposing coaches.
- Kids can't take officials.
- Players can withdraw the LOI at any point until signing day.
Either would be a good idea; the NBLOI would allow kids to opt out of a potentially annoying recruiting process and provide some meaning to the idea of a "commitment" without locking kids in any earlier than they already are.
(HT: The Ann Arbor Chronicle.)
Aaaargh. My relationship with Tom Deinhart is a rocky and foreboding one. Despite being apparently subliterate when asked to give an opinion, any opinion, he pwned me like whoah during my attempt to play journalist at last year's Big Ten Media Days. So I had to consider the possibility that Deinhart could dress himself, drive a car, etc etc etc.
…he just released a ranking of the Big Ten coaches, and it was so ridiculous we planned on ignoring it until multiple people sent it to us. Here's how he ranked them:
- Kirk Ferentz, Iowa
- Rich Rodriguez, Michigan
- Jim Tressel, Ohio State
That's Iowa blog Black Heart, Gold Pants in the midst of tearing Deinhart a new one for his obviously stupid opinion. Various Ohio State blogs have ceased feeding on the souls of little children long enough to lol, too, but none so entertainingly. And here's a Michigan blog chiming in: dude, wrong.
BHGP settles on the idea that Deinhart doesn't have severe brain damage, is just being a provocateur for attention, and quotes Fire Joe Morgan in superior fashion, all of which is excellent. Read it. All of it is good. But I mostly want to highlight the words that should go on Pete Fiutak's gravestone:
This puts Dienhart in a different league than, say, CollegeFootballNews.com, who just plain never know what the fuck they're talking about. CFN is to actual analysis what ramming two GI Joes together is to MMA. It's only the same to 7-year-olds.
Etc.: Weird goings-on at the Freep's story on Paulus. Someone fooled them into thinking the Paulus report was an April Fool's joke. Someone get them a calendar. Also: a spring game boxscore; SMQB considers the "Rodriguez Leap" and its achievability this year; Brandon Smith is now a linebacker.
Hockey summer. The hockey season is over, and that means one thing: months and months of waiting for the other shoe to drop and for someone to sign an NHL contract. There's always at least one, so let's run down the possibilities:
- Aaron Palushaj. Palushaj was heavily rumored to be out the door last year and is even more heavily rumored to be out the door this year. The Wolverine's Michael Spath is basically saying "he gone," as is (ugh) Hockey Buzz.
- Chris Summers. A first round pick entering his senior year is always a flight risk, but Spath says a projected second depature "isn't Summers." Also, when Jerry of the Joe Cribbs Car Wash was a Saline Reporter… uh… reporter he interviewed Summers and got the distinct impression he was in for the long haul. About that second projected departure…
- Scooter Vaughn. By the end of the year Vaughn was Michigan's eighth defenseman and was being tried out as a fourth-line forward. On the blue line the only graduation loss is Mitera. With Summers returning, no other defensemen seeming like huge flight risks (Kampfer, I guess, but there haven't been any rumblings to that effect), and freshman Lee Moffie arriving in the fall, Michigan will again have eight defensemen and Vaughn is staring at an uphill battle for playing time. Unsurprisingly, he might look elsewhere.
- Caporusso, Hagelin, and Rust. There hasn't been any buzz on these guys either way because none are expected to leave. Caporusso and his shiny point totals are the biggest threat, but he was a late third round pick and Ottawa is not a team with a rep for signing kids just for the hell of it. That said, this is Michigan hockey so someone will kill us with an unexpected departure.
If the only departures are Vaughn, who is probably going to spend most of next year in a suit, and Palushaj, who everyone had already written off, that would be a win.
Spot on. Joe Posnanski's blog post on what ails sportswriting is a version of my usual complaint, except much less snotty about the whole thing:
There is still great, great sportswriting being done in newspapers, I believe this with all my heart. But that professional thing — maybe in places, there is a lack of joy. Maybe in places, there is an honorable distance. Maybe in places, the professional skepticism that we have built up through the years turns our coverage of games into hard-nosed city hall reporting. And last I checked, nobody wears jerseys that say “City Hall” on them.
That's at least part of it, with a large section of the other part being blithering stupidity. (Of which the internet has none.) Elsewhere in the post, Posnanski—who is an Actual Journalist for the KC Star and SI, if you don't know who he is—relates a formative anecdote in which he won a team-sponsored raffle and had to give it all (cooler! golf trip!) back when his hard-nosed city hall editor took the stogie out of his mouth and muttered something dark and deflating. It's an excellent example of the culture that was installed way back when, and how it turns young bucks into bitter donut-inhaling old men.
Not that Posnanski is one; he's my favorite Actual Journalist because he's the kind of person who maintains a personal blog and gets it in a way people who think typing a gamer your browser window is being "internet savvy" don't.
For a section dubbed the "toy department," there isn't a whole lot of fun on the sports pages. The erratic attempts at it only serve to confirm that the worst thing in the world is someone with an inflated impression of how hilarious they are; they're more sad than anything else. The exceptions (Wojo at the News, for one) only serve to reinforce the dull stentorian grumbling of the rest of it.
Thank you. Y'all can stick little needles in your Jim Carty voodoo dolls as you read this, but the man has done us (or at least me) a service:
Kirk Bohls is a very good columnist for the Austin American-Statesman newspaper in Texas. We've been fortunate to meet and interact a little at the Rose Bowl. He's used Kentucky's recent firing of Billy Gillispie to compile a list of the 10 toughest jobs in college sports.Here's the excerpt for No. 8:
8. MICHIGAN FOOTBALL: Wolverines chased off proven winner Lloyd Carr for Rich Rodriguez, but the 108,500 fans who crowd the Big House won’t tolerate losses to Toledo — much less Ohio State — for long.We'll deal with why the contention Carr was changed off in a minute, but even more amusingly, Bohls lists the Texas football job behind Michigan at No. 10. The only problem with that suggestion, of course is ... well ... actual historical record. Michigan has had four coaches since 1968. None of them were fired. The only one who resigned under pressure did so for reasons that had nothing to do with football.
The news about the News:
The Ann Arbor News will close in July and will be replaced by a Web-based, media company called AnnArbor.com, Laurel Champion, publisher of The News, announced in a 9 a.m. meeting with staff.
Ah but not so fast: the "web based company" will be run by the same people, hire some of the same people, and put out print editions twice a week plus print a "total market coverage" thing, whatever that means, once a week. This is basically a rehash of the Free Press/News changes with some extra frippery I assume is a way of avoiding Booth Newspaper's longstanding no-layoffs pledge. Or something else that has to do with financial wizardry. In any case, the way the story is framed—by the newspaper itself!—is a little dramatic.
If you're interested in some serious back and forth sniping, check out Jim Carty's blog. Journo commenters can't just call you a d-bag, they have to write an article-length comment to do it. Fun for the whole family.
As for the Michigan sports upshot… eh. Chances are the new web-based company will focus about as much on Michigan sports as the existing newspaper; they'll actually have more motivation to do so as an online-oriented product.
I did love that mere days after interviewing Dylan of UMHoops for a story that mentioned he authored a Michigan basketball blog but didn't link to or even name it, the News managed to cram no fewer than eight links to their new URL in the story announcing the News' demise. Dips. I'm nofollowing links to the Ann Arbor News for the next week, starting with the above.
The above amply demonstrates that the current leadership of the News is extraordinarily ill-prepared to make this transition. They fail to understand the currency of the internet, that linking out spurs linking in. Trying to trap readers in a box made of a million holes is archaic; I wonder how long it will take for someone to thwack Unfrozen Caveman Newspaper Exec in the back of the head and stage a coup.
(Sorry if the tag seems insensitive; it's just what media discussion goes under around these parts.)
Programming note: I'm jammed up, as I'm headed to the hockey game tonight and that will take up a big hunk of time. I plan on getting another numbers-centric preview up for the Oklahoma game tomorrow, hopefully by 2-ish.
via the Fairbanks News-Miner
Also the other team. The hockey team—which is very, very good—takes on Alaska tonight at 8 in the CCHA semifinals. Yost Built has your ten things; this one gives the best picture of what Michigan is up against tonight:
Weird team. They've shut out their opponent on eight occasions this year. They've been shut out ten times. You want to know why Ocho Cinco [Alaska goalie Chad Johnson -ed] won CCHA Player of the Year? They scored 54 goals in CCHA play and still finished fourth. That's 1.93 goals per game. The only team that scored fewer was FYS with 43 (43??!!!). The saving grace for them was that they only gave up 51, tying them with Michigan for the fictional "Jennings Trophy" of the conference, and finishing one ahead of Notre Dame.
First goal will be very important because there don't figure to be many of them. FWIW, KRACH says Michigan has a 73% chance of victory; Michigan and Alaska split in Fairbanks with Alaska winning 4-1 Friday and Michigan taking the Saturday game 3-2.
The latest from practice has Robbie Czarnik definitely available and Ben Winnett questionable; Scooter Vaughn is also practicing as a fourth-line forward.
Northern and Notre Dame are in the other semi; you are rooting for Northern, but without any real hope it will matter.
Good news from elsewhere: Minnesota ended its regular season last night with a loss to Minnesota-Duluth in the WCHA Final Five. The Gophers are currently the last team in the tournament at #14, but most of the possible results from the weekend knock them out. They're in if all favorites win, but all it takes is one more Duluth win or one unexpected autobid and they're at home. Patman's latest tourney update has the Gophers with only a 23% shot at making it in.
Minnesota missing the tourney makes a potential Michigan game in Minneapolis far less likely to be a defacto road game. Duluth can still make it, but 1) Duluth is far away and their fanbase is considerably smaller, and 2) Duluth can get shipped; Minnesota, as a host, cannot.
And hardware. Michigan took home a couple awards at the CCHA banquet: Tim Miller was the best defensive forward and David Wohlberg was rookie of the year. Alaska's Johnson was the POY, as you might expect.
Also, Louie Caporusso is a Hobey finalist. This is a really weak year for the award, so it's not out of the question he wins. However, he's a sophomore without a commanding resume and Kevin Porter just won last year, so it's not likely.
Cooper, a Saline High School graduate, and Burkhardt, a Pioneer grad who runs his own Michigan basketball blog, enjoyed every minute of it smack-dab in the middle of Section 117, where most of the 2,000 or so Michigan fans were gathered.
No link provided, obviously. Eyerolling goes here.
Uh? Far be it from me to harp on typos excessively, as they get through here on a daily basis. But… uh… MLive article on the dynamite Rust-Hagelin-Palushaj line, excerpt of which is sic:
Matt Rust couldn't recall the game and Aaron Palushaj wasn't sure about details, butthere is no comma here Carl Hagelin got the memories going.
Well, copy editor guy, if you're going 100% by the book there isn't, but commas are often a stylistic device used to make a sentence flow differently. Some are optional. Also optional: leaving your corrections in the finished copy.