mesmerism! presidential assassinations! circuses on fire!
Not the Onion. News headline:
MSU challenges officials to take control of game vs. Michigan
Are you man enough to call another 100 yards in personal fouls on Michigan State, refs?
Also, Tyler Hoover is supposed to return to the lineup at DT. Not sure how much impact that will have.
Also not the Onion. This is where the rivalry is at the moment:
Michigan prepping for a 'figurative fist fight' in physical tilt vs. Michigan State
More like LITERAL KNIFE FIGHT AMIRITE.
Also also not the Onion. We have a formidable secondary?
Michigan's formidable secondary 'looking to get after it' against MSU
I'm going to go away and hope this is true forever.
YOU DON'T KNOW HOW THINGS ARE CAUSED. Winner?
Former Michigan star Mike Hart's infamous comment sparked Michigan State's resurgence in series
Worst article is easy. Matt Charboneau's flufftastic puff piece on Gholston, which does the same thing all attempts to defend Gholston do: focus on the meaningless punch that brought a suspension while ignoring the Denard helmet twist and the Lewan arm bar. No one cares about hitting a guy in a helmet with your fist in the heat of whatever. It's unfortunate that the Big Ten focused on that instead of the truly dirty stuff.
He's just misunderstood, you see, and he has kid, so he must be an awesome dude. They don't just hand out kids to anyone. You have to be licensed.
Maybe he just went crazy that one time but if you're going to write an article about it at least have the honesty to detail the things that happened.
Uniformz? A photo of a chrome-tastic MSU helmet is floating around the internets and the rumor is they will be deployed Saturday:
Hopefully Michigan doesn't respond in kind as they did last year, if this is actually a thing that is being worn. I worry that someone somewhere is saying "we have to bridge the chrome gap!" and not being shot.
MSU scouting bits. Highly recommended are Ross Fulton's breakdowns of what Ohio State did against MSU. The MSU defense:
MICHIGAN STATE: LOADED FOR BEAR
As expected, Michigan State adopted an aggressive style that focused upon attacking Ohio State's inside zone read. Michigan State generally operated from their 40 over defense with their Will linebacker walked over the slot receiver.
The Spartan Will linebacker's role was not to cover the slot receiver, however. Instead, he was tasked with accounting for Braxton Miller on the zone read, allowing the defensive end to crash the zone play. In essence, the Spartans ran a constant scrape exchange.
In response, OSU shot their H-back outside the defensive end and hit the edge or used him to block the crashing DE and read the slot-oriented LB, or they used outside runs that used the aggression of that DE to open up the corner. Expect Michigan's inside zone to be a maintenance play that picks up a few yards, allowing other runs to bust for larger gains.
Tremendous also has a breakdown, one that focuses on the defensive tackles—who are not good, thus the Kittredge switch this week. Included are many amazing displays of Spartan DTs put on skates by the OSU OL. I'm with Mr. Larson: block Gholston, option someone else, screw rollouts, especially naked ones.
Fulton's item on the MSU offense vs the OSU defense is a little less relevant because Michigan is mostly a one-high cover three defense and OSU is transitioning to cover four. Hankins did clobberate the MSU run game as a three tech—Will Campbell pad level versus bad guard play come on down?
BONUS: Fulton breaks down what the hell happened to OSU's defense against Indiana.
OH BOY. Hopefully this is Brandon not ruling out anything when someone brings up the idea of a neutral site game in a Q&A and not actually wanting to continue college football's worst trend:
But he did say Wednesday that he remains open to all possibilities for the newly-created void on the Wolverines' schedule beginning in 2015.
Whether it's a home-and-home with a big-name opponent, or another possible neutral site game, similar to this year's Cowboys Classic against Alabama in Arlington, Texas.
"We're looking at both," Brandon said. "The key thing for us is to try and make sure we're playing in a venue that gives our fans access, and economically, provides us the best opportunity that justifies going on the road.
"We put 110 or 112,000 people every game in our venue, it's hard to go play in front of 35,000 people."
Ugh, ugh, ugh. A neutral site game gives fans less access than a home and home because it's a game in the middle of nowhere in a smaller stadium. No more neutral site games—we renovated the stadium for a reason, I assume, and not "so Slippery Rock can play there."
This isn't that hard: see MSU and OSU, currently loading up with quality nonconference home and homes not against opponents with 35k seat stadiums… because those don't exist in BCS conferences. Brandon must wake up at night tossing and turning at the agony of having to go to UConn next year. We get it. We also don't care. No more neutral sites.
Oh, man. Don't listen to them, Dylan Larkin.
While perusing my Twitter feed, I came across this tweet from U.S. NTDP Under-18 Team goalie Thatcher Demko and reply by Michigan commit Evan Allen:
“@thatcher_hockey: Larkin is Screetch” hahahha omg he IS screetch
via Michigan Hockey Net
Kids in high school still know who Screech is?
Mac Bennett stepping up. If Michigan can ever ice their full-strength defensive corps it will be a thing to behold($):
"Our guys liked his poise out there, his ability to handle and move the puck," said Trevor Timmins, Montreal's Director of Amateur Scouting. "He's a gifted skater. That's the one thing that he can rely on to get him to the NHL. He's not a big guy so he's had to add some size and strength, but he's in a great situation at Michigan, with some outstanding coaching, and we're seeing that development there.
"Similarly to Greg Pateryn last season, this season Mac is being leaned on to log a lot of ice time, and to play in all situations - be a leader on the team - and that provides Mac with greater confidence in his ability."
Wojo zings. Wojo zings:
This annual clash has turned into a nasty affair, which can happen when brothers scrap and egos fray. It wouldn't be this way if the Spartans had quietly gone about their business, winning two or three times a decade. But then Mark Dantonio showed up with his deep playbook of scowls, much deeper than his offense's playbook, and started ticking people off.
The Wolverines don't appreciate the Spartans' audacity to physically manhandle them. And the Spartans don't appreciate the Wolverines' continuing attempt to pretend their Ohio-based rival is more important.
Common Michigan State plea: "Heeyyyy, we're right heeeeere! Try to beat us! At least look at us!"
Penn State's "fourth down bravery" may have something to do with the fact they have the worst punting and kicking in the country. The Bylaw Blog advocates athletics majors. The new NHL CBA might be better for college programs than the old one. Still waiting on the massive imbalance in AHL eligibility to get sorted out. Genuinely Sarcastic back from the grave. DIAMOND STONE is visiting this weekend. He's a five-star 2015 basketball post.
I missed you. John L Smith, never leave us again. We have gone too long without a college football coach organizing "etiquette team dinners."
College football should institute a rule: every year one team who fires their head coach is randomly chosen, and John L Smith coaches that team on an interim basis for a year. It's for the good of everyone. Yes.
Across this line you DO NOT… Hoke restating the obvious:
"The in-state rivalry is always something that's important to us," Hoke told sports editors and reporters at Weber's Inn. "We have not done our job the last four years if you're on the Michigan side of things. That's coaching, and that has to be better.
"But the Ohio game is the Ohio game. I don't think (that importance is) going to change," Hoke said. "And that doesn't lessen anything on the Michigan State game at all, because we realize in this state, you draw a line in the sand."
Obviously this was in response to some question about whether people respond to stimuli—
Hoke was asked if the Michigan State game carries even more importance for Michigan now than when he was here as an assistant under former coach Lloyd Carr, in part because of the improved Spartans under coach Mark Dantonio and also because of the Big Ten title game.
"Brady Hoke, can you be accurately defined as a life form?"
"Well, Lansing-based reporter, I can tell you I do respond to stimuli. Here, look. I shine a light in my eye. The pupil contracts. I hope this has been informative."
Hoke is also in favor of keeping the Ohio State game at the end of the season.
BREAKING EXCLUSIVE. Hearing that Connecticut offensive tackle Harry Poggins will commit to Michigan by Tuesday at the latest, or may have already done so. EXCLUSIVE DO NOT REPORT.
So… the long snapper. I don't get it either, man. In case you missed it, Michigan picked up a longsnapper with much fanfare yesterday. The fanfare comes because Scott Sypniewski says he's got a full ride, and this makes people confused. I am among you. Michigan picked up a walk-on who seemed pretty good last year (not the one MSU poached) and has a couple years of Sugar Bowl receiving MVP runner-up Jareth Glanda left. You'd think Michigan would wait and see if they could turn that slot into an excellent prospect before spending it on a guy whose main goal will be total anonymity.
Sometimes these things are confused. Lloyd Carr's last act as Michigan head coach was to bring George Morales aboard, but I don't think he ever factored into scholarship discussions. We'll see if Sypniewski signs a letter of intent. He may have been offered a conditional scholarship in the event Michigan has one at the end of the year, that sort of thing. If it's an out and out scholarship offer to a long snapper in early June that would be… odd.
Goodnight noon. Air Force and UMass are both 3:30 kickoffs, UMass on BTN and Air Force an ABC/ESPN2 reverse mirror. If those games aren't at noon it's hard to imagine Michigan will play more than one or two games then all year.
If you go to the games and care a lot about college football, that sucks. Most of the interesting games are on at the same time as yours and you can't watch the end of the noon games. Then you miss a chunk of the evening games. I feel like I've been getting less informed about everything going on in CFB, and that's a main reason why. Also, do we understand how many humiliating Notre Dame losses we're not seeing because of overlapping game times? THIS IS SERIOUS.
This is admittedly less of a problem during lame nonconference weeks in which Air Force-Michigan is worthy of ABC. The games we'll be missing in that window include Syracuse-USC, Purdue-Notre Dame, and… uh… UNC-Wake Forest. Songs will not be sung about September 8th, 2012.
Side note: a while back I was told that BTN could not show 3:30 games because of the ABC contract. Clearly there are some exceptions to that. Maybe it's just conference games?
The lines? Jamiemac promises a full evaluation of the hypothetical lines put out by Beyond The Bets on this here site a bit later. I'll be interested to hear his take on their assumptions. The conference schedule, with games Michigan is an underdog in bolded:
- @ Purdue: M –7
- Illinois: M –18
- MSU: M –6.5
- @ Nebraska: M +3.5
- @ Minnesota: M –14.5
- Northwestern: M –17.5
- Iowa: M –14(!!!)
- @ OSU: M +4
Those are not real lines. I assume a line with Michigan favored by two touchdowns over Iowa would be obliterated in ten minutes. But I don't bet. That's Jamie's area of expertise. For his part, Jamie wants to jump on MSU with the point.
Anyway, if those assumptions are anywhere near accurate that's about equal to a prediction of a 6.5-1.5 record. That feels a half-game high to me.
Position paper: Chick Fil'A. As the Big Ten-SEC blogger fight drags on into a sixth decade, positions must be taken. Here is one on Chick Fil'A: it's not as good as Southerners claim, especially displaced Southerners, but it is a cut above competing chicken sandwiches from other fast food joints. I'm sorry if this has caused anyone to snap in disappointment in either direction.
Big Two, Little Ten update. ESPN revamps/expands its rankings. No significant moves except a bit of a fall for Mike McCray and the addition of Dukes, Butt, and Gedeon to the specifically ranked. Michigan has 16 guys in their 300, OSU 12, the rest of the Big Ten combined: 9.
This is their list of the top 17 players in the midwest:
Hokemon, yo. Note that the two linemen not committed to Michigan on the list didn't have a chance to pull the trigger. Also, damn you Lane Kiffin.
Weekly Glenn Robinson III hype. From the Indy Star:
"Every time I see him play," said Indiana All-Stars coach Craig Teagle, "his stock goes up with me."
The 6-6 Robinson, who goes by "Tre," has earned rave reviews with his All-Star teammates this week. On a team filled with talent from the immediate area -- nine of the 13 players on the roster are from either Marion County or a neighboring county -- there was a bit of unfamiliarity with Robinson, who played at Lake Central High School in the extreme northwest corner of the state.
It didn't take long for the Michigan recruit to make an impression with his above-the-rim style, dunking nearly everything he touched in a scrimmage on Sunday.
"Wow," said North Central guard Patrick Ingram. "I've seen him play before, but didn't really know him that well. I like his game a lot. He can dunk from anywhere."
This basketball season promises to be fun.
Etc.: Wisconsin kerfuffler Jared Uthoff transfers to Iowa, ensuring that Bo Ryan goes out the Woody Hayes way. Ohio State gave back its Sugar Bowl profit for tatgate, but Gene Smith kept a 60k bonus for reaching the game. Hockey recruit Alex Kile profiled. Michigan pays their assistants money.
Bounce back begins. Harbaugh's back and you're gonna be in trouble.
Hey na, hey na.
Ufershirt part 2. We have a new Ufer shirt in the store:
Tooley. Derek Dooley goes on the offensive in the AJC to defend oversigning. He makes one cogent point: the SEC rule doesn't really end the practice since 25 x 4 = 100. Well struck.
Unfortunately, using that point to call out the SEC for putting a fig leaf on a PR problem falls flat after asserting two Immense Benefits Of Oversigning. The First Immense Benefit Of Oversigning:
I think over-signing is good for the student-athlete. Let me give you some hypotheticals: Let’s say a a guy gets hurt his senior year, and there’s a good chance he won’t play his freshman year of college. He has got to do surgery and rehab. What could we do in the past? In the past, we could sign him, grayshirt him and put him in next year’s class. That allowed him to come to the type of school he wanted to come to, whereas now those kind of guys have to go to a different school.
The kind explanation here is that Dooley doesn't know NCAA rules. The letter of intent is not required to give a student athlete a scholarship, as dozens of early enrollees prove every January. Brandon Knight never bothered with a LOI before he showed up for his single season at Kentucky.
The only thing the LOI does is lock the athlete into a school. It gets the athlete very little. If you're eligible and have signed a letter of intent and Les Miles has an oopsie and has 86 scholarship players, someone's getting screwed. Hint: it is not Les Miles.
The above scenario can still take place. It's just that the player you're benevolently grayshirting can still take a better offer if one comes along. He can go to the type of school he wanted to go to because he's not locked in. Dooley is protesting that not restricting athletes' choices prevents them from choosing.
The second scenario is let’s take a guy who academically not eligible. … You look at their mid-year grades and you see that they’re going to be an academic risk, or there’s a good chance that they won’t qualify. Well, then you have to make a decision. Because in the past, you could sign them and if he didn’t qualify, place him in a junior college, help him get into a junior college and give him the motivation to come back to your school one day. Now you can’t sign him, or you’re not willing to take that risk because you can’t be short on your roster. So now they’re more on their own, and they don’t get to sign with the school that they want to go to.
If they do qualify, they can still attend your school. Thus the Second Immense Benefit Of Oversigning is that players who aren't going to make it get to sign a meaningless piece of paper so they can pretend they are not going to JUCO.
So there’s a lot of good things about over-signing that gives more opportunities for good players. When you eliminate that, now you’re providing less opportunities for them.
"Opportunity" is a zero-sum game. To give a player an opportunity you have to take one away from someone else.
In conclusion, Derek Dooley is getting fired next year.
Did we invent the sweatervest? Rick Santorum* apparently wears them, which has prompted Slate to write about them. They attempt to trace the origins of the thing and think it originated in Ann Arbor of all places:
The Oxford English Dictionary lists the first use of “sweater” in 1882, in reference to the sleeve-having woolens used by rowers to encourage profuse sweating, and consequently, weight loss. By the turn of the century, the sweater, though still considered sportsman’s garb, had lost its perspiratory function and become a more standard jacket substitute. It seems to be at this point, or shortly thereafter, that the idea was first had to lop off the sleeves. In 1907, 14 members of Michigan’s football team were rewarded with an embroidered “M” sewn, for the first time, onto not regular sweaters, but sweater vests.
Like script Ohio, an Ohio State tradition comes from that school up north.
*[NO POLITICS REMINDER]
Origins and breakdowns. Our Helmets Have Wings—another Michigan blog that made a bad investment in a Rodriguez-themed title—provides a thorough breakdown of Michigan's most recent class. Michigan's percentage of recruits from the local area has been increasing:
Michigan's last three years are the most Midwest-heavy in a while. Whether that's increasing local talent or a decline in Michigan's ability to sell itself nationally is in the eye of the beholder. The most recent class appears to be the former. The previous ones maybe not so much.
Let's build narratives from them. Kenpom is irritated at the insistent narrative surrounding Murray State's first loss of the year:
It’s the manufactured stories that attempt to explain the often-unexplainable variability in a team’s performance that I take issue with. Some team salvages its season by going on a late winning-streak and the origins of the streak are explained by a players-only meeting or the team captain stepping up and being a leader, or a renewed emphasis on defense, etc. When in reality, the causes of the change may have been more complicated that anyone could truly understand. (Naturally, this xkcd comic comes to mind.)
Murray State’s loss last week provided one of the clearest such examples of this method of analysis. The general assumption after the loss was that the Racers cracked under the pressure [(1), (2), (3)] of their unbeaten record. Even the coach said so! The thing is, Murray never reached a point during the season where they were better than a 50% proposition to go unbeaten in conference. You play enough games in which you are heavily favored, and you are going to lose eventually. Put more precisely, a team that plays ten games as a 90% favorite is expected to lose once during that span, and the Racers have played a lot of such games this season, including the game against Tennessee State.
The average deviation from the Vegas line is an impressively large 8.4 points. A lot of random stuff happens in a college basketball game.
Short-sighted next-quarter revenue is everywhere. Mike Slive inexplicably adding two mediocre Big 12 schools to the SEC now threatens the annual protected crossover game in the SEC and rivalries like Auburn-Georgia because the league refuses to add a ninth conference game. This is good for the immediate bottom line but long-term it threatens to erode fandom. Braves & Birds:
the SEC has been so thoroughly sucked into the vortex of being a quasi-pro sport that short-term revenue maximization is now the name of the game. The changes to the conference in the 90s - splitting into divisions and joining a two-team playoff - proved to be beneficial in getting the league where it is today, but the decision in the works to jettison two of the SEC's best rivalries is unlikely to have any such upsides. Aside from the facts that the decision has angered the league's core consumers and could turn them against the new arrivals ("thanks, Mizzou, you cost us the Deep South's oldest rivalry and the Third Saturday in October"), the change will upset the rhythm of the season and ever so slightly diminish the quality of the TV product. The SEC is losing a little of its soul with this decision, and its soul is part of what makes the conference so profitable.
The Alabama-Tennessee game is so deeply part of the identities of the two schools that their reflexive response to "third Saturday in October" is the opponent they've played every year on that date since proto-Bear trudged out of the ocean. The SEC is dumping that tradition for 1) the opportunity to renegotiate a bad TV contract and 2) the sanctity of games against Furman and the Citadel.
An excellent idea. The long-rumored M-OSU lacrosse game in Michigan Stadium is official:
Team 133 will take the field for its annual spring scrimmage at noon EST on Saturday, April 14. Prior to the football team's debut, the Victors Classic Alumni Flag Football Game will be held at 10 a.m. inside the Big House.
Following the football scrimmage at 2:30 p.m. will be the "Battle in the Big House," which pits Michigan's first-year varsity men's lacrosse team against Ohio State.
I look forward to taking in a live lacrosse game for the first time.
Etc.: Michigan's goals against MSU broken down in the diaries; good discussion in the comments as well. The Joe sold out for the MSU game on Saturday. Odd timing for the first sellout in a while there. The Daily reminds us of Hunwick's Wildcat uppercut earlier in the year. If you want to know why everyone in the world is running him, that's why. Also because they get away with it. MHN interviews 2013 commit Evan Allen.
pictured: the NCAA's ideal crowd for a regional
College hockey is currently infected with two things that exacerbate the general meaninglessness of the regular season and often make tournament venues sterile, embarrassingly empty events. They are a fetish for neutral sites and a general agreement to ignore the Michigan/Ohio/Indiana nexus of college hockey in favor of putting everything out West. Only the miraculously blinkered Wisconsin athletic department and their press apparatchiks manage to combine both.
Neutral sites are stupid. They lead to things like sixty people in an NHL building in St. Louis hundreds of miles from any college hockey program. They should be viciously abolished wherever they don't obviously work already. This is something we can all agree on. Except Wisconsin. After months of reporting about how Wisconsin was unhappy with the way the Big Ten hockey conference was shaking out, Andy Baggot's back with a helpful suggestion.
Shifting Big Ten hockey to neutral site would eliminate WIAA conflict
Argh. Baggot is under the mistaken impression that anyone outside the state of Wisconsin gives sixth thousandths of a damn about some high school tournaments. This is the enormous problem that must be fixed:
UW officials wisely voted against this format for two reasons: One, it would create the current scheduling problems with the WIAA state tournaments for wrestling and boys' and girls' basketball; and two, there's a more sensible option.
There is not one person associated with the Big Ten who cares about option one. If the state of Wisconsin had a second arena, it wouldn't even be an issue. Hey, wait… THAT'S ANDREW BOGUT'S MUSIC
Milwaukee's Bradley Center
If the Bradley Center's too busy, Milwaukee has a 10,000 seat backup currently occupied by nothing at all. We have saved the children of Wisconsin from having to compete for state championships on Lake Michigan. Time to party.
As for two, the "more sensible option" is <drumroll>…
The Big Ten should revisit the idea of a neutral site tournament, which would bring all six teams to one location in a one-and-done format over three days. There are several possible venues and a future rotation could be devised, but the best for now is the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn.
Not only is it a fantastic NHL facility, it's in the middle of a great hockey culture with a genuine appreciation for the college game. The building also has experience handling such an event given its work with the Western Collegiate Hockey Association Final Five.
…blithering idiocy. There are six Big Ten hockey schools. They are:
- Minnesota: zero hours from Minneapolis
- Wisconsin: five hours from Minneapolis
- MSU: 11 hours from Minneapolis
- Michigan: 12 hours from Minneapolis
- Ohio State: 14 hours from Minneapolis
- Penn State: 16 hours from Minneapolis
Only an idiot would suggest the fairest "neutral site" that could be proposed is the home city of the westernmost school in the conference, one that only two of the six schools could reasonably drive to. Arenas in Chicago, Grand Rapids, Detroit, Fort Wayne, Columbus, Toledo and Indianapolis would be better geographically and could probably handle the enormous strain of putting on three games over a weekend. Only an idiot would suggest throwing away the money four to six opening round games would generate*.
Instead, the Big Ten has decided to put the finals at the home rink of the top seed, something that both gives the conference winner a needed edge in the barely-weighted plinko that is single elimination playoff hockey and guarantees attendance between decent and sellout. This is "unwieldy at best and, at worst, irresponsible." No, seriously, dude said it was irresponsible.
This is the rationale:
Regardless of location, you're asking an awful lot of the six teams and their fans in terms of time and travel logistics. That's especially true of the four lowest seeds, which meet the week before the semifinals in a best-of-three series at the home of the higher seed. The survivors advance to the next round.
In a nutshell, the Big Ten is giving its members two weeks to ready an arena, sell tickets, secure hotel space, line up ground and/or air transportation and make sure its teams are ready to play.
Meanwhile, fans of those teams are being asked to be flexible and keep a credit card handy.
This is something literally every hockey arena in the country has to be ready for because they may host a first or second round playoff series. Unless I missed a spate of unprepared zamboni deaths, they've managed. The argument here is a campus site is just impossibly daunting to prepare on short notice, which is why every NCAA sport other than D-I football, basketball, and hockey uses such things for their playoffs.
If there's a cost analysis between the campus site and neutral site, I'll bet the difference is significant and it favors the neutral site.
If you're an idiot who thinks anyone cares about WIAA playoffs and believes that four Big Ten teams are going to vote to have the Big Ten finals at least eleven hours away, next door to Minnesota's campus. How about this: if Wisconsin wins the league they can hire the X. Problem no one cares about solved.
*[The problem with the Big Ten's format is it does not adopt the actually logical playoff structure: three weeks of best-of-three series at the higher-seeded-team's rink. That's more money, more games (always nice when you're competing against OHL teams that point out a relative lack of games in the NCAA), and avoids the strangeness of the current format wherein the second-place team gets no home games.]