a terrible blight on our fine country
Well, damn. BREAKING NEWS(!!!): Brian Kelly is indeed the guy at Notre Dame. Notre Dame fans of the insane variety are hilariously opposed to the move on the grounds that Kelly isn't Bob Stoops, Bill Belichick, or one of the ND Nation moderators; everyone else is terrified that Notre Dame has now acquired a coach with a track record of doing anything at all.
This is probably going to go poorly. Kelly is the most competent coach Notre Dame has hired since Holtz and at the very least should turn Weis's excellent recruiting classes into a genuinely good team in short order. Smart Football says so.
Next year might be meh since his one option at quarterback is going to miss spring practice and large chunks of summer conditioning with an ACL tear, but expecting an implosion similar to the Michigan one is foolhardy: for one he'll have a five-star quarterback throwing to Michael Floyd and plenty of talent on defense if he can get a defensive coordinator to manage it. Something thematically similar to Michigan's 2004 Rose Bowl season might go down. Michigan had to get clutch drives from a freshman quarterback and an onside kick to get to 9-4 that year. A Gator Bowl or something with incredible expectations in 2011 seems the most likely outcome.
This makes the next two years against Notre Dame pivotal for Rich Rodriguez. If Michigan loses to Notre Dame next year against Kelly when he's finally got a quarterback experience edge over someone, anyone, it'll look like a rough year and possibly the end of everything.
There are some minor plusses in the hire: I assume Kelly won't keep Corwin Brown around, which should help Michigan recruit against ND. Also for whatever reason Weis just killed Michigan head-to-head and Kelly can't possibly do better. I've heard conflicting things about what high school coaches in the state think about him, FWIW. I imagine that's something you could say about any coach.
We are so terrible. The basketball… it is not good anymore. I don't really know why, but holy crap:
- Michigan’s defensive rebounding percentage of 60.7% ranks last among all Division 1 major conference teams.
- Michigan’s three point percentage of 28.3% is better than only two major conference teams (Oregon St. and UCLA) yet only two major conference teams (Iowa and Northwestern) shoot more threes than Michigan (3FGA/FGA).
- Michigan is allowing opponents to shoot 52.2% on 2 point field goal attempts, the worst percentage allowed by any major conference program.
Dylan has a few more numbers that look more like Indiana last year than a team with any tourney aspirations. They add up to "ugh."
This season is even worse than what went down in football. Everyone knew this wasn't the #15 team in the country but it shouldn't be a team that will be lucky to make the NIT. (No, seriously. You have to get to .500 and Michigan is going to come out of the nonconference 6-6 unless they beat UConn or Kansas, so then they have to go 9-9 in the Big Ten despite showing no ability to hang with mediocre teams from mid-major-ish conferences.) This is stunning underachievement. And what happens next year when Manny is gone and the only big guys on the roster are Ben Cronin, who may or may not still be broken, Blake McLimans, and Jordan Morgan? Morgan and McLimans are redshirting; Cronin almost literally can't jump.
I know I shouldn't be surprised about anything nasty happening to Michigan sports these days, but seriously… what the hell. There can be no place underachieving expectations across the board like Michigan is these days.
PREWB! Also BREAKING(!!!) is that nine MSU players got tagged with multiple misdemeanor charges based on the video evidence of the frat beat-down. Three more kids ended up suspended, including the other Chris Rucker on the team. Don't recruit guys named Chris Rucker no matter what their middle initial is.
I only mention was seems like a formality because the crack MSU reporters at the Free Press immediately came out with an article arguing that most of the charges would get dropped as various members of the team agree to testify against the ex-members of the team.
Meanwhile, the News gets clarification from Winston's initial victim on what, exactly, happened…
Montgomery, a student at Schoolcraft College, was hanging with friends near the Michigan State campus on Oct. 19, 2008, when Winston approached him and MSU hockey player A.J. Sturges and dropped them both, each with one punch, police said. Montgomery's fractured jaw was wired for six weeks, and Sturges' skull was fractured. …
"I was attacked for no reason. I was not in a fight. I was with a friend, and Glenn Winston came and hit me for no reason at all."
…in a story that has the fantastic lead "Ian Montgomery has an intimate familiarity with Glenn Winston's fist." They also reveal that Jenrette's mysterious redshirt was because of a robbery that happened August 1st of 2008, literally days before Jenrette arrived on Michigan State's campus. Jenrette was already sporting a 2005 offense. Michael Rosenberg's column awaits him.
Again, this is not really about Dantonio, whose public image has taken a hit but will recover in time as long as these things don't keep happening, but the rampant bias at the Free Press that would be funnier every day if it wasn't having a material impact on the local/national perception of Michigan.
Etc.: WVU fans, prompted by bubble pipe professor Matt Zemek's assertion that he'd rather have "integrity and humanity" in the form of Bill Stewart instead of whatever Rodriguez is, debate whether they'd rather have their current coach or our current coach. Opinion is split. CATS 4 GOLD. Sun-Times asserts that Harbaugh actually met with ND officials; tomorrow they announce that Bob Stoops is back in the picture!
Last year, Glenn Winston put a hockey player in the hospital, costing him a whole year, and injured a second bystander. Neither victim did anything to provoke the violence, and Winston was fortunate to plea-bargain himself down to a misdemeanor and six months in jail. Mike Rosenberg on that:
Plus, people forget this: Winston was convicted of a misdemeanor. If anything, his sentence (six months in jail) was excessive for a misdemeanor. So I understood why Dantonio reinstated Winston this summer. Yes, it looks awful now. But it made some sense this summer.
"Excessive for a misdemeanor." Rosenberg is downplaying a scary, dangerously violent incident because he doesn't understand that a misdemeanor basically means the jail sentence can't be longer than a year. Six months in jail might be excessive for pot possession. It doesn't seem excessive for endangering someone's playing career.
Remember that Rosenberg wrote an "I'm just sayin'" column after Justin Feagin's situation, citing Rodriguez's decision to recruit linebacker Pat Lazear as evidence Rodriguez doesn't care about the character of his players:
The fact that Rodriguez was recruiting Feagin to West Virginia is telling because Rodriguez took considerable heat for some of his recruiting choices in Morgantown. Most noteworthy: Rodriguez signed linebacker Pat Lazear to a letter of intent even though Lazear had been accused of orchestrating an armed robbery of a Smoothie King store.
"That was a situation that was cleared up before he left high school," Rodriguez said Monday.
Well, that depends on your definition of "cleared up." Lazear pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit robbery. He was sentenced to 10 days in jail and received a 10-year suspended sentence for his part in the robbery. He also was sentenced to 30 days of house arrest and 150 hours of community service. And in a previous incident, Lazear had been found guilty of using a stolen credit card.
I guess you could say his situation was "cleared up."
Lazear has not been in trouble at West Virginia and is on the academic honor roll. That same column cites Feagin's high school coach saying that Feagin hadn't been in trouble there only to dismiss that. Rosenberg's thrust is that Rodriguez should have known better than to recruit Justin Feagin, and should never have gone near a guy with nothing on his record other than a dropped misdemeanor and some traffic tickets. If Rodriguez didn't know Feagin was a bad guy, it was because he didn't care to know. The upshot: Rodriguez is unethical.
Here's a similar conversation in the Winston case:
MARK DANTONIO: Are there any issues with this Winston guy?
MARK DANTONIO: Well, he beat up two innocent people, putting one of them in the hospital.
MARK DANTONIO: What's that? I can't hear you. You must be breaking up.
MARK DANTONIO: We're not talking on a cell phone. I am you. We're having a schizophrenic episode. You're talking to yourself.
MARK DANTONIO: I am very public about my faith!
And yet reinstating this guy "makes some sense." The double standard could not be clearer.
Is there any question that Rosenberg would be calling for Rodriguez's job if 15-20 Michigan players had beaten the hell out of innocent bystanders for the second time in two years? Michigan State has had 20% of its entire team involved in unprovoked violence against other students for two consecutive years.
Rosenberg can couch his eminently reasonable opinion in eminently reasonable columnist terms, but the bias is screaming. Mark Dantonio's got a hell of a jaw and a bible on his desk. He's also in charge of a bunch of thugs, and got a Michigan State student injured and, likely, his university sued. This is enough for Rosenberg to gently suggest that Dantonio might need to get his team under control—oh, really? Meanwhile, Rodriguez correctly judging the character of Pat Lazear and immediately dealing with the Feagin situation is enough for the "win at all costs" headline.
This is the fair and balanced person the Free Press thought they'd have investigate the Michigan football program.
More about this on the message board.
Another podcast. In case you just cannot get enough of listening to me talk, I was on the FanSided Friday Tailgate podcast. Starts off with a considerable amount of meta talk before moving on to the State game and some other general college football picks.
HYPE VIDEO. The rest of the internet has gone crazy for this UAF hype video and it's obvious why:
EXPLODING POLAR BEAR DOOM. Michigan plays Fairbanks next weekend. Further evidence that university administrators hate life:
Hockey open w/ Polar Bear from Fairbanks, Alaska for the UAF Nanooks AKA "The Alaska Nanooks". This is the intended directors cut with the original music choice, rejected by the UAF people for being "too 80's" as if there is such a thing.
Yes, Paul will be directed to insert an exploding polar bear into next year's hype video. Or wolverine. Whatever. Maybe both. We'll give the wolverine a lacrosse stick.
Maybe we should actually explode all non-blog polls. First Stewart Mandel note: he picks Michigan State, 3.5-point favorites, as his "upset special" this week. Maybe this is why his straight up prediction record this year is 20-20.
Second: AAAARGGGGH. Here's Mandel on the possibility that Boise State might end up in the national championship game:
Should they keep winning late into the season and start knocking on the title-game doorstep, we'll witness something else: significant outcry from those who feel the Broncos are undeserving.
However, there's very little precedent for voters suddenly downgrading a team without cause. And contrary to what you might believe, the BCS computers aren't likely to cause the Broncos' undoing. For one thing, they only account for one-third of the overall standings, not to mention an unblemished record goes a long way in the computers' eyes. Last season, both Utah and Boise State actually finished the regular season ranked higher by the computers than the voters. The Broncos may get docked a couple of "style points" should they endure an undue scare against a San Jose State or Idaho, but realistically, the only way they could fail to make up three spots in 10 weeks is if the voters start vaulting other, more "deserving" teams above them following a big win or two.
Argh! Boise has done exactly one thing to warrant the #5 spot they're in this year: beat Oregon. At the end of the year they will have done exactly one thing to warrant whatever spot they finish in: beat Oregon. The scare quotes around "deserving" are amongst the most idiotic in the history of the rhetorical device. They prioritize the uninformed opinions of writers and people who don't even watch Boise play over things that happen on the field. Boise has no right to the national championship game and if they make it there it will be a travesty that will further convince everyone else to never schedule anyone in the nonconference. Braves and Birds has more on this travesty.
Mandel's the same guy who used to vote WVU up high specifically because he thought the 'Eers had an easy schedule, and now he's justifying the placement of Boise high up as if that's some sort of birthright. This man had an AP ballot. ARGH!
This is not going in the hype video. Rumeal Robinson is in some legal trouble of a horrifying variety:
Helen Ford has been known in the Cambridge community as a woman with a big heart and open arms for numerous foster children. But she never expected that one of her adopted sons, former NBA basketball player Rumeal Robinson, would play a part in evicting her from the place she called home for more than 30 years.
Robinson was arrested by the FBI for bank fraud, bank bribery, wire fraud, and a lot of other nasty stuff. Sounds like things went sour for him after his… NBA career. Insert typical middle-aged white sportswriter 600 words about how the young folk can't keep their money on their mind. I'm at a loss; the NBA should just hire someone to show up at every player's house every two months to slap them and scream "FIRE YOUR ENTOURAGE AND GET A SAVINGS ACCOUNT." Probably Charles Oakley if the NBA would like their guy to remain alive.
Side note: the picture of this woman painted in the comments is vastly different than the one painted by the article, with multiple commenters offering up various serious-seeming stories about her Not Being Very Nice. Not that that would excuse anything that's been alleged here, obviously.
Spot on. We had a photoshop of Mark Dantonio as Rodney Dangerfield, and I feel another coming on in the event of a Michigan win on Saturday:
#22 Michigan at Michigan State
Holly: Rich Rodriguez IS White Goodman IN Dodgeball. Say, did you know Sparty’s chestplate contains actual kevlar? Nice moves, although it won’t save them. RichRod is a smug, entitled bastard, but shoo-law does he have a lot of projectiles in his smug, entitled arsenal. Sometimes the lovable losers win, and sometimes they get their front teeth broken at the gym. (And sometimes the losers ain’t all that lovable. Dantonio, you never call.)
Orson: Michigan State IS Khan IN Star Trek 2: Wrath of Khan. Khan had to have a “XX Years XXX Days XX Hours” clock in his bunker on Ceti Alpha V. You know this to be true, just as you know we could have just as easily cast Dantonio as the flower pot falling from the sky in Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, the reincarnated object killed again and again by Arthur Dent’s unending carelessness. Khan, though, has the right ring in terms of attitude. Michigan State is all effort and survival, but ultimately the lack of experience in three-dimensional combat that Rich Rodriguez’s offense has will doom the Spartans (though like the Enterprise in the film, Michigan will suffer significant damage due to lack of shields.)
I think those are W predictions for M, FWIW, which is nothing. As Orson says, THIS MEANS BET ON THE OTHER TEAM UNLESS THAT TEAM IS COLORADO.
Get to campus get to campus get to campus. The first indication that the 2010 hockey recruiting class is as dirty as previous suggested is a Hockey News list of the top 50 prospects for the 2010 NHL draft that features three Wolverines in first-round spots:
|11||Jon Merrill||6'3||205||D||U.S. Under-18||Feb-92||Ryan Suter|
|15||Jack Campbell||6'1||171||G||U.S. Under-18||Jan-92||Rick DiPietro|
|23||Luke Moffatt||6'0||190||RW||U.S. Under-18||Jun-92|
In addition, D-man Mac Bennett has already gone in the second round of this year's draft.
Bzzzt. UMHoops reports that Casey Prather's choice is Florida. Sorry for my incorrect earlier speculation/enthusiasm. Michigan is still pursuing MI SF Trey Ziegler, who won't decide until the spring. If they don't get him it'll be on to the class of 2011.
Old School. The 1957 Michigan-Indiana game via home video:
That comes from Uni Watch, which also notes via a reader that Michigan has some weird inconsistencies in the way they name players on their uniforms:
As you might know, Michigan football has a freshman QB, Tate Forcier. He’s the younger brother of Jason Forcier, who was once a third-string QB on the team (about five years ago or so) and then transferred to Stanford. When Tate started practicing in the spring, there was a thought that Jason would transfer back to Michigan and both brothers would be on the team at the same time. This never happened, but Tate still wears a ‘T. Forcier’ nameplate, as if Jason were on the team.
Meanwhile, we have Kevin Grady at FB and his brother Kelvin Grady at WR (who had been on the basketball team last year and then moved to football this summer). They’re both K. Grady — in fact, they’re both Ke. Grady — but they both wear just ‘Grady,’ even though they’re sometimes on the field at the same time. I sorta wish they did FNOB, which I love, or else ‘Kel. Grady’ and ‘Kev. Grady,’ but alas, they just wear their surname.
I’m surprised this would happen at Michigan, where they take the home uniforms so seriously.
FNOB = "first name on back." You can probably extrapolate what NOB means. Uni Watch has a weird insider lingo that fosters some community or something.
Let me take this opportunity to denounce a spreading scourge: nameless jerseys. If you're Notre Dame or Penn State, okay, whatever. But it seems like everyone is doing it now in an attempt to emphasize team unity or other such sportwritery nonsense. When Eastern Michigan is doing it, things have gone too far. I want to know who is who as a fan.
Baby's first Michigan-Michigan State game. The universe isn't quite back in order—Michigan State opened a slim underdog but is now a 1- to 1.5-point favorite—but it's getting there:
Michigan-Michigan State is big for both football teams, but for the Spartans, it could be their season
That's Mike Rothstein penning a headline that could have been written at any point in the last 40 years, though probably not with as much truth behind it as this time around. This is Rothstein's first exposure to Michigan State's particular mania…
The anger came in every syllable flying out of Kirk Cousins’ mouth. The disgust was evident on his face, the frustration obvious in his mannerisms.
Michigan may have multiple rivals and already pocketed a rivalry victory against Notre Dame this year, but an hour northwest, at Michigan State, there is only one rival. And there is only one game.
“This game is personal,” said Cousins, the Michigan State quarterback. “And we need to win it, and we’d better win it.”
"The lack of respect they have, period," defensive end Trevor Anderson responded when asked about his dislike for the Wolverines. "It's sickening."
The Spartans' offensive line is hurting and hasn't helped produce a single 200-yard rushing game this season.
But that didn't stop left tackle Rocco Cironi from chiming in.
"I think everybody has a hatred for Michigan," he said.
…I wonder if he thinks State is acting a little odd, in his experience? It would be interesting to get an outsider's perspective.
Win at all costs. Dantonio on Glen Winston:
One move that appears certain is additional carries for Glenn Winston, a sophomore running back from Detroit.
Winston is considered one of the team's top three running backs along with freshmen Caulton Ray and Larry Caper.
"You can't starve the horse that pulls the cart," said Dantonio of Winston's status.
Students going to game: "AJ Sturges" chant plz.
Um… really? My first instinct is that this is insane:
That's registered BlogPoll voter Dan Shanoff touting the poll in relation to the Coaches' and Harris polls, which are run by old men who haven't watched a football game since nineteen dickety-two. But the list of grievances presented by Doctor Saturday a month into the season is compelling:
• LSU is No. 4. Because ... ?
• Oklahoma is No. 8. Because ... ?
• The coaches rank Oklahoma State ahead of Houston.
• The coaches and Harris polls rank Penn State ahead of Iowa.
• The coaches and Harris rank Cal ahead of Oregon.
• All three polls rank Ole Miss ahead of South Carolina.
Each of these has explanation over at DocSat, though in many cases the explanation could be "duh." The blogpoll is far from perfect but the ever-expanding cadre of voters who are basing their ballots strictly on what's gone on between the sidelines—something the poll guidelines suggest should be implemented by week five and demand by week eight—makes for a poll that escapes most of those inanities. LSU and Oklahoma are still too high but lower. Houston, Oregon and Iowa are ahead of the teams they beat handily. And while South Carolina isn't ahead of Ole Miss, it's because neither features in the top 25. That's just the draft ballots, but historically what movement there is between Monday and Wednesday is of the variety that sees the final poll move more towards onfield events.
I still think it's insane. The BlogPoll contains a number of motley blogs that put "sucks" after every mention of Michigan or vote their team way higher than it deserves only to be struck down by malevolent forces. But a bunch of guys in their pajamas are transparently doing a better job of paying attention than the people actually in charge of making BCS decisions. So if it's insane, the only thing more insane is the current system.
Nice plane. I'd like to meet the man who owns this baby:
Wheeeeeee. Jonas Mouton Suspension Fiasco will not die:
The Big Ten Conference office announced today that Ohio State University football student-athlete Kurt Coleman has been suspended for one game as a result of initiating helmet-to-helmet contact and targeting a defenseless opponent in the fourth quarter of Ohio State's game against Illinois on Sept. 26, 2009.
This actually seems like it might not be directly related to the JMSF, as the BTN's article cites a new rule for 2009 that mandates post-game review and possible suspensions for helmet-to-helmet hits. I can't embed the actual incident, but here it is. I'm torn on this one. That was basically flinging your brain at a defenseless player's brain, and while it's less obviously unsportsmanlike than either the Mouton or Recknagle incidents it's far more dangerous.
Why? We're 3-9 and have no bowl game, that's why. But also because I just found the stats interesting.
Michigan State played Georgia in the Citrus Bowl, prompting dual Georgia/Michigan fan Michael at Braves & Birds to ponder World War II (most things cause him to ponder World War II):
Michigan State came into the Citrus Bowl (I refuse to use the new name) in a position not unlike the one that Japan in 1940-41. MSU was opposed by a slumbering giant, an opponent that was complacent and unprepared for war at the outset, but an opponent with far greater talent and capacity for a long-term fight.
Long story short: the giant woke up in the second half and dropped bombs. Only Georgia's disinterest in the game kept Michigan State's 2008 from being a mirror image of Notre Dame's 2006 minus the undeserved BCS bid, a superficially pretty record marred by epic beatings at the hands of the few top ten teams on the schedule.
Here's a table.
|Team||Total Offense||Total Defense||Margin||Total Offense||Total Defense||Margin|
|Team A||352.4 (67th)||357.9 (40th)||-5.5||339.5 (8th)||375.4 (8th)||-35.9|
|Team B||416.8 (42nd)||345.5 (32nd)||71.3||431.1 (1st)||394.1 (7th)||37|
Which team went 9-4 and which team went 7-6? It's obvious. If team B went 9-4 I wouldn't be posting about it. Michigan State's offense fell off a cliff and the defense basically stayed level and the end result was a significant improvement. As a bonus, the real numbers are actually worse than what you see above since they don't include the Citrus loss in which State was outgained by about 100 yards.
Anyone who's read this blog for more than a couple months knows the a-ha moment that's coming up: turnover margin! Except the 7-6 team was slightly better than the 9-4 team that critical, near-random category. No dice there. Neither can the explanation be found on special teams. Punting was about a yard better this year, and while the punt returns got a lot better the kick returns got a lot worse. There's nothing in the stats that offers an easy explanation as to why Michigan State seemingly got much worse but won more games.
The nearest thing to an explanation I can come up with is the distribution of turnovers. MSU was in -7 in turnover margin against Ohio State and Penn State, both epic losses; in all other games they were +9. Since a large chunk of that yardage gap also came in those aforementioned epic losses, State played a large number of games in which they were on the whole equal with their opponents and won the turnover battle and therefore the game. State won three games in which they were outgained, sometimes badly:
|Opponent||Yards For||Yards Allowed||Margin||TO Margin||Final Score|
State had no games that went the other way; they had their crappy days against teams they were highly unlikely to beat anyway. The Spartans were a 6-6 or 7-5 team—again—that had the breaks fall in the right way for them to leap up a couple spots in the weakest Big Ten in memory.
This is the long way of saying I'm not particularly afeared of Dantonio. While he seems like a better coach than the last two jokers at State (an honor also shared by Clay Aiken and jars of peanuts), Braves and Birds nails his ceiling:
Mark Dantonio is Jim Tressel without the talent base. Exhibit A: punting in the first quarter on 4th and 1 from the Georgia 39. Exhibit B: an offense built around running the same guy over and over between the tackles. (At least Tressel came out of the dark ages with Troy Smith.) Exhibit C: a kicker who attempted 25 field goals this year. Exhibit D: an on-field persona that makes Ben Stein's character in Ferris Bueller's Day Off look like Sam Kinison. With the way Dantonio's team approaches offense, I'm constantly reminded of the Japanese officer who said in 1944 that Japan didn't need radar because its soldiers could see perfectly well.
World War II analogies are appropriate because the last time Dantonio updated his thinking was during the Battle of Midway. At best he makes Michigan State into a Wisconsin or Iowa level program, and even that seems pretty doubtful.