“On the offense last year, they had great spacing. That’s what I remember. Great spacing, great shooters, like Nik Stauskas, who’s not there right now. But they always have someone to fill the roles. They have a cutting offense, kind of hard to guard.”
The previous mailbag was, uh, abbreviated. And caused great discussion about whether I should call people who send in emails dicks, to which I respond: probably not.
Anyway. This is a good question I don't have an answer to:
After Spring practice, exactly what do the players do (supervised or unsupervised) until official fall practice begins? I know there must be some restrictions on coaching but I'm very interested to know exactly what does go on.
Thanks, Marc ' 71
I am pretty sure S&C programs can continue being S&C programs year-round, so players will get a faceful of Barwis this summer. As far as what technically-not-but-actually mandatory, organized-but-not-technically summer sessions are and what, exactly, are the things prohibited… I have no idea. Anyone out there know the details on what college programs do when practice is officially verboten? What is Tate Forcier going to be doing in June related to his football pursuits? What about Will Campbell?
I saw that you thought Forcier will only get about half a dozen carries or so/game.
Do you think the QB/Forcier will be less involved in the running game this year? Sheridan and Threet combined for 118 carries last year - about 10 a game (I didn't include Feagin's runs cause I'm assuming the reason the coaches put him in was for him to run). A lot of complaints I read about Threet was that he didn't make the correct read on the handoff and should have kept the ball some more (to keep the defensive end honest and stop him from crashing in hard on the play).
I honestly don't care how much the QB carries the ball, it just seems that Forcier only getting a half dozen carries a game would a good decrease (assuming Threet should have carried the ball more).
Well, by half a dozen carries I mean voluntary carries. A significant number of those Sheridan/Threet carries from a year ago were sacks or scrambles, which should rightly be considered passing plays.
Also, the effectiveness equation is considerably different with Forcier. Forcier who presumably can throw better than the two guys from last year and Minor—now the undisputed #1 tailback—is way more effective than McGuffie was. So it'll make more sense to throw and run tailbacks than have Forcier keep the ball.
Reading between the lines, I sense some concern that Michigan's reluctance to run their only hope will make the offense less diverse and correspondingly less effective, and I agree. Last year teams ignored the quarterback on zone read handoffs to the point where I was typing "KEEP THE BALL DAMMIT" into the Purdue liveblog after every play. Michigan's fear of the great murky unknown behind Forcier will make their offense less effective. But that's a necessary tradeoff given the cliff Michigan steps off if Forcier is injured.
I do think you'll see Michigan try to make up that decrease with Feagin/Robinson packages. Those may be completely ineffective because of their predictability, but for some reason this wildcat thing seems to work well so maybe it'll do ok.
Speaking of Robinson:
I think we’re generally missing the boat on D Rob when we compare him with TF. I’ve watched all of the highlight films and I actually think D Rob has some very good skills as a QB. I think where we’ll see a separation between the two is the run game. TF is not built to run it 10-15 a game, but he could be enough of a scrambler to constantly keep a defender assigned to him, which opens up some underneath stuff for slot ninjas, TEs, and RBs out of the backfield. D Rob does have some excellent mechanics for a guy not highly touted as a QB.
I get blasted for this, but his foot work and release remind me of Peyton Manning when he’s pressured in the pocket. No, I’m not saying he is the second coming of PM, as some said when they read my post in the diaries, but there is some good things happening with D Rob in the pocket. He sets a good base and delivers the ball with a high and crisp release. The one thing they both did consistently in their highlight films was throw balls into tight coverage, lock onto one receiver, and hold the ball way too long. I think you’ll still see that this year no matter how much they get coached up. It’s just a lot to learn when it comes to reading defenses and then being able to process that information quickly enough to be able to make the correct decision. Again, I am going to the Spring Game to see how the team looks in person, but I think we’re realistically going to be a .500 team, plus or minus a game.
All in all, by the 4th game, I think D Rob gets some significant snaps because he brings the run dimension that RR so badly needs to make this offense work.
Steve's not alone in his assessment of Robinson. ESPN also thought his QB skills were underrated:
Robinson is just a flat out playmaker in every sense of the word and he will surprise you with his production in the passing game. If he were taller, there is no doubt he would be a serious QB prospect, but his overall skills will likely land him somewhere else. Has a quick, live arm and is very effective in the short and intermediate areas of the field. Can throw the ball vertically with touch and lay the ball in, but does not have the powerful arm to drive the ball 50 yards on a consistent basis.
Add that to his rushing stats—85 carries for 462 yards, which is actually less than Forcier rushed for—and it is possible we've got a completely incorrect idea about what sort of player Robinson is going to be. But then you've got the passing stats:
Key Statistics... completed 100-of-231 passes for 1,809 yards and 15 touchdowns as a senior ...
There's a big, big gap between those numbers and Forcier's. That's a 43% completion rate. I know that high school passing is often a whole lot of bombing downfield (18 yards per completion!), but those numbers say "project" to me.
I'm noticing a disturbing trend with the '07 recruits transferring at a much more alarming rate than the usual fourth-string running back bolting for a D-2 school. How do you think this will impact the team in two years or so, when most of these players like Mallett, Boren, Clemons, Horn and others would have been seniors?
For the record, transfers out of the 2007 recruiting class; Mallett, Horn, Clemons, Babb and Chambers. (JUCO Austin Panter has also departed; Boren was part of the 2006 class.) Five guys gone in two years is somewhat alarming, but you can file Horn and Babb under the "fourth string player bolting for D-II." Mallett's departure is obviously a huge negative; Clemons was highly rated but ill-suited for the spread 'n' shred; Chambers was kind of an eh recruit but was getting a significant amount of practice buzz.
But I don't think the problem with the 2007 class is the transfers as much as that it just wasn't very good. Once you got past the two five stars there were a ton of reaches: Horn, Babb, Watson, Huyge, Sagesse, Evans, Herron, Panter, Woolfolk, and Rogers were low-rated players with virtually no offers comparable to the Michigan one. Watson was pursued by Colorado and Minnesota, Herron had a Nebraska offer, Sagesse was initially ticketed for Illinois, and that's it. Picking up the occasional sleeper isn't a bad thing, but this was class with really poor depth masked by the two big stars at the top of it. And now one of those guys is gone.
Combine that with a complete change in offensive philosophy and you're going to be looking at a lot of guys who are noncontributors. Michigan's already moved Watson and Helmuth to the other side of the ball.
So, yeah, I agree with you. Michigan's 2007 class is well on its way to bust status, one of a number of factors that will see Michigan struggle to put together an elite program until probably 2011. Fortunately, it appears both offensive linemen are panning out and most of the other guys who look to be contributors (Hemingway, RVB, Webb) have redshirted, so they've got some time.
Is there any hope of Michigan capitalizing on its NCAA appearance, where it could possible snag a decent current senior or a quality junior recruit?
I'm so tired of 2-3 star white guys from out of state. It's getting old. Darius Morris is a rivals 4-star (minor miracle), but it burns me to see a PSL junior like Keith Appling already fitted for green and white. Does Beilein even care about the PSL? Sure he recruited the 2-star stick-figure tall kid out of U-D Jesuit for next year, but that doesn't remotely count.
I guess my question boils down to, can he recruit?
Beilein can obviously recruit at some level. He's taken four separate programs to the NCAA tourney, unearthed Gansey and Pittsnogle and Joe Alexander and so forth and so on and has generally taken the Gonzaga-Butler route of finding under the radar kids who can play in his system. He can obviously do that, and that should be good for tourney bids most years.
But given the hostility above—way to enjoy the season, dude—I don't think that's the question. The question appears to be "can Beilein recruit like Izzo/Matta/whoever," and the answer is very probably not. That's what Michigan signed up for when they hired Beilein: low downside, low upside. Beilein's not the sort of coach to upset the instate balance of power or hire some random AAU guy for the privilege of getting your one-and-done kid. He's not that guy. He is a guy who will bring guaranteed respectability, likeable teams, and a host of tourney bids with some fun runs to the Sweet 16 or whatever. Michigan basically abdicated on being a powerhouse when they hired Beilein.
David Komer, who seems like a dick, might not like this. After Ellerbe and Amaker I'm fine with it. Michigan will build up a program over Beilein's career and then be in a position to swing for the fences afterwards. Fine.
That said, Beilein didn't leave West Virginia because he wanted to build Michigan into West Virginia. WVU is the kind of place only someone thoroughly down and dirty like Huggins can recruit to. As we saw with Rodriguez, there is virtually no instate talent and people from outside the state aren't exactly dying to go to Morgantown. Morgan's higher rated than any recruit Beilein's ever gotten. So is Matt Vogrich. Beilein probably disagrees 100% with the abdication stuff above and is going to go for bigger, better recruits than he ever landed at WVU. You can see the uptick from his first class to his second; 2010 promises to be another step forward.
As far as specifics: Michigan's 2009 class is done. They were looking at Aussie center Angus Brandt, but he committed to Oregon State. There are few recruits left and no one on Michigan's radar.
As far as 2010: we'll see. Michigan is in on a number of highly rated recruits, the most prominent being MI SF Trey Ziegler. Ziegler is ranked slightly lower than Manny was by the time his senior season ended and keeps listing Michigan strongly. There have been erratic rumors Michigan leads but nothing solid; he's a keystone recruit for Beilein. Michigan's also in on a few guys who either aren't quite as highly rated or don't seem like strong possibilities:
- Tim Hardaway Jr. and Morgan Moses are both 2/3 sorts who have visited and are strongly considering Michigan. Moses is a top 100 kid to Rivals but not Scout; Hardaway is a high three star and the son of that other guy named Tim Hardaway. Neither is white. This is probably not a surprise about Hardaway.
- Casey Prather is a mondo recruit listing Michigan who will visit but seems ticketed elsewhere.
- Will Regan is a skilled post guy hanging on the bottom of top 150 lists who's getting interest and offers from some pretty big schools now. He's from Buffalo, Beilein's old stomping grounds, and Michigan's supposed to be in excellent position.
- There's also this Evan Smotrycz guy, but he's an under the radar tall white guy who can shoot and will probably only serve to enrage you.
Getting Zeigler and another talented, non-role-player wing is extremely important in 2010. Michigan is (probably) going to have to replace Sims and Harris and no one they've recruited so far is going to be the sort of guy to get his own shot or draw the focus of the defense save maybe Morris. But let's see how things fall out before we shoot ourselves in the head.
Also: Appling? We're seriously complaining about Beilein losing recruits to Michigan State? Izzo has been to the Final Four five times! When Appling committed Michigan was still in the midst of a decade-long tourney drought and Beilein was just a new guy with no connections in state. If you insist on comparing Michigan's program to MSU you're going to be very disappointed, and that was obvious from the first day Beilein was hired. MSU is going to remain the dominant instate program until Izzo retires or gets hired by Alabama (which lol). Period. Michigan is going to have to build slowly; let's not be State football fans here.
Saw that Rich Rod has an official facebook account, and has william gholston as a friend. Are there any issues with non-contact periods for recruiting and how facebook fits into that? I mean what happens if he posts on his wall? Does that count?
Well, one: there's a major misconception about dead periods. Even in the deadest of dead periods, limited phone contact (the standard once per week) is permitted. And mail, electronic or otherwise, is basically unregulated. Instant messaging, though is considered a phone call.
As for Facebook and Twitter… those are gray areas. They aren't illegal as of yet—obviously—and enterprising coaches always looking to increase their profile amongst potential recruits. Since Facebook and Twitter have broadcast characteristics—anyone can follow Rodriguez—I think they'll probably be okay.
On our forum, we have had a discussion regarding the physical size of Tate Forcier. Some people feel that due to his lack of weight and height, not to mention the size of his arms, he will not be able to withstand the hits in the Big Ten. What are your thoughts on this?
Any speculation on how injury-prone Tate Forcier might be because of his little toothpick arms would be just that: speculation. Some little guys seem to get injured all the time, like McGuffie and Hart. Others just keep on trucking without issue.
The coaches are obviously aware they've got a nasty combination of youth and lack of depth; indications are they'll protect Forcier as much as possible. Feagin's been running at quarterback in spring quite a bit and I think you'll see him and Robinson see duty in a quasi-wildcat* formation when they want to get QB carries.
Meanwhile, reports on Forcier say he's 1) elusive in the pocket and 2) effective throwing on the move. We might see a lot of moving pockets, and even when Forcier does bust out he's probably going to look to chuck it deep instead of take off. I meant those Drew Tate comparisons when I made them: smallish moxie-fied mobile passer.
Compare that to Threet, who was pretty fast in a straight line—see Wisconsin ramble—but had no change of direction and took a lot of ugly-looking hits simply because he wasn't agile enough to shield himself when it came time to meet a linebacker. When Forcier does run, which will be maybe a half-dozen times a game, he'll probably be at less risk than the ponderous Threet.
(Quasi-wildcat because, yes, they're QBs. But no, you shouldn't expect them to throw much or at all.)
What are the chances that Michigan will play one night game at home over the next 2-3 years? I would love to see Michigan Stadium all lit up for a home game v ND, MSU, or PSU. I don’t support the idea of playing “the Game” at night. Can you please tell me what your thoughts are on this subject.
I'll probably answer this every six months until I die, but there was hullaballoo about this on the message board a while back so my take, again: Michigan should pick one Big Ten opponent and always play night games against them, but never against anyone else. That would be a nice tradition that would hype up what might be just another conference game, and it wouldn't be too much of a strain on the AD or the police department or whatever.
My primary candidates were Iowa and Wisconsin, since they're both respectable programs and there's usually something to play for when they arrive in town. I would prefer Iowa, as Michigan and Iowa have a long history of friendly rivalry and cooperation dating from Bump's tenure as Iowa AD.
I was wondering, any reason why U-M under RR is now issuing the same number to two different players one on offense and one on defense. OSU did this last year with Pryor and Jenkins. Last year there were two # 3s on U-M with Feagin and Brown. This year's roster has two different #5s (Forcier and I forget who on defense it was) as well as twin #3s. Is this because coaches are promising numbers to players in recruiting now?
Love the site (and yes I know I have too much time on my hands),
Colleges often carry over 100 players, so it's impossible to have a roster without some overlap. The NCAA allows you to play as many guys as you want with the same number as long as only one of them takes the field at the same time, so it doesn't come up often, and if you switch positions midseason, like Carson Butler did, you can just change your number. So, yeah, it doesn't matter.
As far as why, I don't really know. Michigan's #1 is off limits now unless you're a supadupastar, which reduces the number of available (and always popular) single digit jerseys. And maybe the kids these days are pickier. I don't think it's a Carr-vs-Rodriguez trend, though.
Side note: My favorite number share in recent years was a couple years ago when Kevin Grady and one of the kickers shared #3, which was good for a special-teams doubletake a game.
I was just reading your early recruiting analysis on 2010, and I was curious how we are allowed to offer so many scholarships. You noted that we had 17-20 to give, yet we have offered 46 by my rough count on your board.
Are there rules by the NCAA or conferences on how many scholarships a school can offer over their limit? If we receive our 17-20 commits and we do not have any more available scholarships, do we simply have to say, "No thank you" to anyone else who is considering their previously offered scholarship? (As opposed to Alabama's method)
Scholarship offers have no legal or NCAA standing until a school faxes a letter of intent to the player on signing day. Until that time, they're just fancy letters indicating a school would like you to play for them… if they don't change their mind by the time you make up yours, and you don't throw a cherry bomb at a six-year-old, and you don't flunk out.
Usually offer letters have some language indicating this. The relevant paragraph from Michigan's offer to Tate Forcier:
This award is contingent upon the satisfactory conclusion of your junior and senior years, both academically and athletically. NCAA minimum academic standards must be satisfied and internal admissions requirements must be met. This letter remains viable until such time as NCAA rule 15.5.5 regarding squad limits (85 total) would appear to be compromised. Therefore, as a necessary consequence, grants may only be awarded based on availability.
Basically: don't flunk out and don't wait for someone else to take your spot… oh, and don't suck at sports. Until a letter of intent is signed, the school has zero obligation to the player. Which, yes, can suck for the player.
Offers get pulled all the time, and when this happens to an uncommitted prospect for whatever reason it's always uncontroversial, as it should be. The player in question hasn't promised you anything and hasn't accepted your promise. Sometimes players try to commit only to be told they can't, and sometimes this causes bad feelings. Legendary Michigan cases involve Tennessee OL Brent Trott, who never had a Michigan offer, and a Florida linebacker named Justice whose first name escapes me who tried to commit and was told the inn was full. Both of those players had time to go elsewhere, and did, but were noisily displeased for a brief time.
Where it gets touchy sometimes is when players who have issued a verbal commitment are told they no longer have an offer. Sometimes this is due to academics or extra-curricular issues: in 2008 Ohio State pulled Devoe Torrence's offer when he got in some nasty legal trouble and this year OSU safety commit Bradley McDougald was told to head elsewhere after he was caught with weed. (He ended up at Kansas.) That's legit. But sometimes kids just get their offer pulled through no fault of their own. This happened at South Carolina last year and caused a minor stink.
In those cases there are no official repercussions but the PR hit is usually enough to keep schools in line. For one, South Carolina is never getting a kid from that high school again.
As to Michigan: if three quarterback recruits decide they want to commit tomorrow… well, Michigan will take them. Bad example. But if hypothetical eager QB #4 rings up Rich Rodriguez, Rodriguez is going to have to say "sorry." A commitment is a mutual thing, albeit one with no legal standing whatsoever.
I'm originally from Minnesota, and I still listen to the MN local radio. One morning show is a big fan of Denard Span, an up an coming player for the Twins. They created this bit, which also seems appropriate for the Michigan faithful who are excited for Denard Robinson. Enjoy!
Download, if you are so inclined (right click and "save as")
1) I predict that song makes an appearance during football liveblogging at some point this year.
2) When that song went to to the Betty Ford Center and came out the other end "Let's Get It Started" and was deployed as the theme song of the NBA Playoffs, was it the most impressive/ridiculous corporate rehab ever? I, being of sound mind and distance from preteens, had never heard the original ("Let's Get Retarded," an ode to pot*/alcohol) and it seemed like a perfect prefab song from a major label crapband. Then I find it's about basically the opposite of starting anything, it's about killing your brain. The mind boggles.
2a) Who would have thought that three or so years later that song would stand out as clearly the best and most appropriate NBA Playoffs theme song yet? Tom Petty? What?
*(Windows Live Writer has an auto-substitute list you can set up. IE: whenever I type recruiting board it points at the recruiting board automatically, or Varsity Blue or MVictors or, uh, Threetsheridammit chart. So that's why that. I would have deleted it but for the lulz.)
And how about an update on the last mailbag:
The Shegoses are from Flint. Matt and Duke ( I think) are the referees, I can't remember if Duke is the nickname for Mark Shegos or if Mark is a separate 3rd Shegos. For what it's worth, my uncle knows them and they are all very nice. They've been involved with hockey for time out of mind, although in my humble opinion, nice though they may be, they've never been the best officials. I think I heard the Shegos chant for the first time in the early 90's- anyway, it is definitely tongue in cheek. We did NOT actually want Shegos. Here's some fun Shegos opinions from a Sparty blog a few years back, where they also assert that "You can't drink all day if you don't start in the morning."
The North Dakota playoff game at Yost in 1998 saw two Michigan goals waved off (I think both in the second period), inciting the crowd to a state of near-riotousness. They were not as bad as the ones which happened this year because at least they were judgment calls, but they did bring the crowd into a frenzied state. By the way, I was sitting right behind the Michigan penalty box for that game and Bobby Hayes used words I did not know when describing the officials- and I was living in South Quad at the time, I knew LOTS of fun words.
For people who don't mind being adventurous about Frozen Four tickets, I was one of those who bought way too many a few years back when all those WCHA teams played in Columbus. Ok, I get it, WCHA in Columbus, but demand was none. At least for that event, I can confirm that they were much less than face value. I stood outside trying to sell the tickets for like 3 hours and eventually was trying to give them away and couldn't. I think those willing to be patient can get tickets for a few dollars each, especially if your game is the late game.
On the Frozen Four thing, which I promise is advice for the entire universe and not an implication that Michigan will make it to DC, or, for that matter, not sack the program tomorrow: an excellent strategy if you're the late game is to camp outside the building after the early game ends; disgusted fans of the losing team will be exiting and selling at cheapo prices. Problem: last year there was no opportunity to do this because the semifinals were one ticket.
As to the Shegos brothers, the response received about them was totally outstanding. Some, like Jack, thought it was a sarcastic Shegos-oriented insult. Some thought there was one Shegos who was definitively better than the other Shegos and he was the one being chanted for at all times. And some thought it was an actual desire for a referee who wasn't Mark Wilkins (or, more cynically, attended Michigan, which at least one Shegos did). All of which adds up to a cheer that thousands of people are doing over a decade with completely different ideas of why they're chanting it.
What's the best option for acquiring Frozen Four tickets? Just wait until there's a glut of tickets from fans of non-tourney teams, wait 'til the FF is settled that week? At this point (after moving to NY) I'd be willing to go just to see the games.
Every year, the Frozen Four sells out over a year before the actual event transpires. As a result, thousands of fans end up not going because they can't be bothered or just bought the tickets to maintain their priority, and tickets are beyond plentiful. Unless you're dead set on getting the best seat in the house there's no reason to buy them until you arrive on site. I've gone when it was in Buffalo and Denver and both times acquiring seats for face value was a snap. If I really care to push it I probably could have got them for less. This year it's in DC, which cares about college hockey not at all, and if Michigan gets there I'm planning on buying on-site.
The only exception to this is if a Frozen Four happens to be in Minneapolis or Boston and a local team makes it; in that case tickets can be tough.
Brandon Smith, from Jersey in last years haul. He was Army, solidly recruited by some other bigs (FLA), he has disappeared off the map. Even with a red-shirt, should I have been less optimistic in that his name seems to only come up with trepidation, as in, "oh my god not Stevie and a Frosh". What do you percieve as his main challenges to getting on the field?
Smith was a pretty big recruit but was also more of an athlete than a solid player at any particular position. He played QB, KR, PR, S, and some LB for his high school team because he was one of those guys you use as much as possible; this speaks well to his athletic ability but also means he wasn't quite as ready to play as someone who was a safety all the way. So Smith started the year looking like a likely redshirt, then had an appendectomy which sealed it.
I haven't heard the trepidation you have, though. What practice mentions I've read have been very positive on his ability and optimistic he can be a solid player. That's no guarantee—Grady Brooks, Kevin Grady, etc etc etc—but he's not a guy who's fallen off the map during his redshirt year. I think he'll play, and challenge Mike Williams for a starting spot.
It is interesting that the Big Ten is again considering a nine-game schedule. I can remember the Big Ten race back in 1982. That year Michigan played nine Big Ten games (back when there were only 10 teams) but Ohio State played only eight. This actually decided the title because Ohio State beat Michigan in Columbus, had a better overall record, but finished 1/2 game back in the standings. (Searchable Big Ten standings database if you want to poke around.)
Michigan was 8-1 in the conference (losing to OSU). Ohio State finished 7-1 and beat Michigan. Michigan went to the Rose Bowl to lose to UCLA for a second time in just over 4 months. For some reason, only Iowa and OSU played 8 BT games while the rest of the conference played 9.
I was only 12 or 13 years old at the time. Imagine the chaos if that happened in the age of the internet!!
Keith in Northville
Holy cow: Keith is right. In 1982, the entire Big Ten played nine league games except for Iowa and OSU. This also happened in 1981, when those two schools tied for the title at 6-2. OSU and Iowa were co-champs in a year when the only Big Ten game that didn't get played was Iowa-OSU!
In 1979 and 1980, Northwestern and Minnesota played an extraneous ninth game against each other; the rest of the league stuck with eight conference games. In 1977 and 1978 it was Wisconsin and Northwestern playing a full round-robin. It appears that in the late 70s and early 80s Northwestern was so concerned about its ability to schedule nonconference games that it just struck up a deal with whoever had rotated off their schedule to play a game anyway. Opponents were happy to oblige, as Northwestern won just one conference game from '77 to '81. (They beat Illinois 21-7 in '77.)
In '83 the league stopped its experiment with wacky unbalanced schedules, playing a full round-robin for two years before settling back into its traditional eight-game schedule.
Does anyone know what the heck happened in 1981 and 1982? I get full round-robin schedules. I get Northwestern running around, hat in hand, to whichever conference mate was denied the opportunity to blast them into the stone age. I don't get "everyone plays except Iowa and Ohio State."
I've been a UM hockey fan for a long time, but I used to be the type that was a score-watcher until the weather got warm, then I would pay strict attention for the stretch run. My first UM hockey memory was the Mike Legg goal and I was hooked (boom, pun) since. The last few years I have taken a more consistent interest despite living outside of Michigan, mostly thanks to MGoBlog. It's been a lot of fun and I must say that I couldn't believe the surly mood I was in after the Notre Dame Frozen Four game last year.
That being said, my somewhat uninformed question is: do the refs really screw everyone like this in the CCHA? Trust me, I know they're bad. Like, The Mentalist bad. I'm just saying, it seems like the Wolverines have been on the receiving end of this as of late. I know that it goes with the territory of being an obsessive fan that you will think your team is being screwed, but when puck hits skate and goes in, it's hard to shrug off being called a homer. When's the last time UM has been handed a game a-la Notre Dame and Ohio State? And you know, aaarrrgggh and stuff.
I've long been of the opinion that CCHA refs not named Shegos* or Piotrowski were uniformly awful. Any new recruits quickly proved themselves about as incompetent as the rest of the bunch. Though a couple of the promoted linesmen have struck me as okay so far this year, it's too early to tell with them.
HOWEVA, I have never seen a team get so completely hosed on two separate occasions. Two obviously blown goals in two separate one-goal games is a truly enormous effect, one that can't be matched by a demonstrative Ed Hightower charge call, or anything at all, really. I've never seen anything like it.
In the decade I've been following Michigan hockey, these are the controversial (non-) goals that stand out:
- Some nonconference game against BC: Michigan is up 3-2 with about two minutes left in the game. There's a late scramble for the puck, which ends up lying in the crease for a BC player to roof a nanosecond after the ref blew it dead. Michigan goes on to secure an important nonconference game.
- Some game against State: I think this was the one Michigan ended up tying when Jason Ryznar scored with a second left. Anyway, a State defenseman blasted the puck… somewhere. A goal light went on, but the puck wasn't in the net. Replays showed very little, but there was a telltale net bulge—it looked like the State defenseman had actually shot the puck through the net. Not quite as impressive as beheading a goalie a la Jack Johnson, but still. They checked the net for a hole, didn't find one, and declared no goal.
- The NCAA regional game against Colgate: This, I believe, was the year Michigan played after the beyond epic St Lawrence-BU game that went into four overtimes. (They played Maine with four defensemen and collapsed late.) I watched an entire game of hockey and the feed only picked up when the OT started. Anyway, that was the second round.
In the first round, Michigan went to overtime with Colgate. At some point there was another goalmouth scramble in front of the Michigan net that was eventually blown dead. When Josh Blackburn, who had ended up partially in the net, moved the puck was revealed to be well over the line. It was not entirely clear when the puck had crossed the line, however, and after a lengthy review it was called no goal.
- The Buffalo Frozen Four against Minnesota: it's tied late in the third period, and by this time you know the drill: goalmouth scramble, puck loose that the referee can't find, and a whistle that goes just as Jason Ryznar pokes it through the fivehole.
Most of these are controversial early whistles from the referee, something that's inescapably part of hockey. None of them are the inability to see a puck obviously kicked in the net, or goals inexplicably waved off for absolutely no reason. I've never seen Michigan handed the equivalent of two goals via sheer blind incompetence.
The Colgate thing was probably the luckiest Michigan's ever gotten: it was like those plays in football where you're sure the call on the ice is wrong but there just isn't enough evidence to overturn it. It was a game-losing goal that Blackburn luckily obscured until it was too late.
Side note: the CCHA should obviously incorporate every available camera angle into its reviews, and the NCAA should repeal the inane rule about kicked goals. Anything that's not thrown or high-sticked into the net should count.
*(This knowledge appears to be disappearing into the ether, but there used to be two Shegoses (Shegii?) in the league. They were brothers. When displeased with refs who were not Shegoses, Yost would chant "we want Shegos." When displeased with refs who were Shegoses, Yost would chant "other Shegos."
The origins of this were never clear. Did the chant get started out of genuine respect, or the belief that Shegos was beyond horrible and preferring Shegos to anyone was the worst insult imaginable? Given what we know about Yost, probably the latter. This would be ironic, since the closest thing I have to a "thank God he's reffing" moment now is when I see Shegos on the ice.
Yes, like he was against Ohio State. He can't do anything about Langseth randomly awarding/disallowing goals.)
I was back visiting Michigan last weekend, and I was able to catch the hockey game on Saturday against Miami (of Ohio). I haven't seen any hockey games this season since I'm at a grad school where hockey doesn't exist. I was wondering about the addition of a second referee on the ice. My friend pointed that out to me at the beginning of the game, and I asked him if he felt more calls were made this season since there is another pair or eyes on the ice. He said that it didn't seem so, and someone around me said that it may actually make the game flow better(!?). Well, that didn't seem to happen as Michigan ended up with like 11 penalties.
So I was wondering if you could drag up the penalty minutes from the last couple of seasons and compare them to this season so far, and see if the extra ref has significantly impacted the number of calls or has changed the game somehow.
Via collegehockeystats.net, per-team penalty minutes per game the last three years:
|Year Before That||19.01|
Survey says… eh, not so much. While teams are taking most of an extra penalty a game this year the numbers are actually down from the two years previous. Of course, the NCAA's overreaction to the Robbie Bina hit, which led to virtually any hit along the boards being an automatic major for a year, and their intermittent obstruction crackdowns play a role in the numbers. The moral of the story appears to be "do not expect remotely consistent enforcement," which isn't surprising to anyone familiar with the travails of college hockey refereeing.
Recently, Sports Illustrated had a series of articles on recruiting and how Florida is a gold mine for D1 recruits. In one of those articles, Jimbo Fisher had this to say about recruiting:
Florida State's Fisher doesn't deny that he offers a chilly warning to southern skill-position players thinking of crossing the Mason-Dixon line. "I don't know if we ever said, 'You'll freeze.' But the landscape of playing, especially if you're a skill guy, is not as conducive as it is in The South," Fisher said. "The weather can prohibit you from using all your skills at times and prevent you from getting the numbers and recognition and things you want. I think it is a significant difference."
I have been a big fan of Rich Rod since the Clemson days and thought he was a top 5 coach in the country at WV. I even picked them to win the National Championship in 2007. Good ole' Wannstache…
During Rich Rod's top years at WV (05-07), I remember a few late season games where the Mountaineers couldn't hold on to the football and it cost them. I had a feeling that this was attributed to his recruits being from the Deep South and not being accustomed to playing in cold weather conditions. And then this year Odoms couldn't hold on to the ball for his life during that nasty NW game. So after Jimbo's quote, I thought that there may be some serious truth to this argument.
So I went back and looked at the stats from WV's 2007 November games (I didn't look up game time temperature but they were all November games in cold weather locations including three night games) and found that WV had put the ball on the ground 13 times in those four games while losing 8. Twice (including the infamous Pitt game that most likely led to our hire of Rich Rod instead of Les Miles) they had 5 fumbles, losing 3.
Would you review the games from 2005-2007 and see if there is any correlation between the late season colder temperatures and putting the ball on the ground. With RR ravaging Florida for recruits and Michigan being a colder place than WV, I am worried that this could be an issue for us in late season games.
First: the Jimbo Fisher stuff is just talk. If you can play, you can play. Even if it's cold. The parade of Michigan receivers in the pros (Toomer, Alexander, Edwards, Avant, Breaston, Streets, uh… Terrell nevermind) in recent years suggests that Fisher's statement is more snake oil than anything. The NFL will find your ass if you can play football.
As far as the fumble theory, it's going to be extremely tough to prove either way. We don't know how cold was for all these games. We're looking at extremely random events in just a few games. Statistical significance laughs at us from afar. But here you go:
No, wait, sorry. I tried, but the NCAA doesn't have the relevant 2005 games' boxscores up. Sorry. I did find that in 2006 WVU had 8 fumbles in 4 (possibly) cold weather games, but four of those game in a game against Cincinnati during which the Bearcats also fumbled four times so I dunno, maybe they didn't kill the ball properly and it was running around squealing all night or something.
Does this help your troubled heart any?
That's West Virginia's turnover margin in the last three years of the Rodriguez era, when Pat White was the quarterback and WVU was goooooood. Even when WVU coughed up the ball 15 times in 2007 they were still top-10 in TO margin because they ran so much and had so few interceptions.
I think people are attempting to come up for an explanation for last year's epic, defiant-Pharaoh-style plague of fumbles when the most likely explanation is that there just isn't one. It was mostly randomness combined with youth and poor talent level at certain positions like tackle and quarterback. There is no grand pattern of Rodriguez teams coughing up the ball a ton. In fact, the numbers above suggest the opposite*.
*(Although, again, TOs are rare and even the seemingly wow numbers above are by no means definitive.)