a terrible blight on our fine country
I may or may not do something like this again, but UMHoops does 'em and they seem like a good idea. Since I've mentioned my general dissatisfaction with the way things have been going around here in a couple of different formats, I figure a fuller explanation is due to everyone who doesn't listen to the podcast or care about Twitter, and Twitter was about six sentences anyway.
I've gotten a lot of emails and tweets in support and while I appreciate them a great deal, I feel like it's not really all that bad and perhaps I haven't expressed any of this clearly enough. So here's an attempt.
THE BAD THING
We moved servers just before the season, and for some reason this imploded the Drupal module we were using that did the voting/comment-graying. Don't get me started on that unless you want the animated gif above to be my fate.
The new server is a champ, and was direly needed. We only blew up during the Hand commitment aftermath, and I guarantee you that the blog would have been crushed four or five other times during the year if we had not moved. At times this has been a mixed blessing—it probably would have been nice to be down after Penn State—but having your internet site on the internet is a goal.
The cost was steep, as without the obvious disapproval provided by your comment shrinking into a gray box, dumb comments multiplied and fights about those comments multiplied since there was not an obvious indicator that other people had already dismissed it. I felt this would happen but had very little time to do anything about it since this event happened smack-dab in the middle of me pounding out the 50k-word season preview.
Flaming went up, signal got obscured, and things veritably roiled.
We brought Brandon on board to be a recruiting reporter and he posted an interview with a 2016 kid; he gave us a picture in which he looked pretty young. I thought nothing of it because I follow hockey closely and there kids who don't have to shave commit all the time. (A kid born in 1998(!) just committed. The OHL speeds up their timelines.) Michigan just took a 2016 commit in football, and has a half-dozen offers out. But this resulted in a comment thread in which a lot of people made jokes about the kid not having to shave; others put on their Serious Issue faces and wondered if this was ethical. Then the prospect posted a screenshot of people making fun of him on twitter. SMH, man.
By this point we'd had a lot of crap on the board and this was a seeing-red moment. I posted a thread about how this was unacceptable, etc., whereupon there was a huge comment thread in which concern trolling featured heavily. The ethics of talking to high school kids about where they might go to college was frequent topic.
This was and is ridiculous. We're not about to Rosenberg these kids, both because we're not [REDACTED] 5'2" [REDACTED] goobers who'll do someone dirty to get ahead in the world and that going Rosenberg on someone would completely crush us with our readers, deservedly.
We're going to ask them softball questions and publish them after correcting any spelling mistakes, and you, the reader, are going to post comments like "Good luck wherever you go!" because that's the social contract we have here. That's how this works. You are going to assume that high school kids are going to read anything they can about themselves online, and we're going to throw Charmin at them in slow motion. This is not hard-hitting journalism here.
Anyway. The primary concern troll was a guy who'd been around since the very beginning of the site, chitownblue. He quit in a huff once, then came back as chitownblue2, and almost never appeared except to chide someone about something. At some point virtually everyone who writes for the site complained to me about him. The rest of the people who had posted things that broke the social contract in that thread quickly apologized; he dug in to fight the battle of the Somme. Another complaint about him happened in the midst of that thread, during which my dander was up and finger already hovering over the button. So I banned him, and various compatriots. And I've had an itchy trigger finger since.
They'd been around forever. I regret nothing, except that I waited so long. I hated that guy.
A friend sent me this post from 4chan's founder in response to similar issues he'd had, in which he cites another post from Steve Pavlina about why he shut his popular forums down. Pavlina talks a lot about entitlement of longtime users and standards that he felt weren't being met, both of which I kind of feel. But moot's thing is the thing:
Something that’s always surprised me is how often people seem to forget how large the overall 4chan community is outside of their own respective interaction with it. Some simply don’t care, but I think others plain don’t realize they’re just one of millions of people who post and browse 4chan on a monthly basis. …
My view is that it simply isn’t possible nor prudent to attempt to please everyone, and so I don’t. This can be misinterpreted as not caring, but it’s far from it—it’s just a reflection of my belief that the needs of the community outweigh the needs of individuals. Which is an ideal I think most would agree with, but when emotions run wild and tensions run high, we often lose sight of it.
The general rule of thumb is that 10% of your readers will read the comments/forums and 1% will leave most of them. I believe our numbers are quite a bit higher than that, but even so that the the primary thing that happens in the comments is lurkers reading them. From the perspective of the commenters these people do not exist. From my perspective, they're the majority of the readerbase.
Most of these people seem to like the site. They visit it. That majority has not been reflected in the comments. Of late when people recognize me I wince a bit, because I'm not sure how this interaction is going to go. I'm kind of waiting for someone to unload on me. This never happens.
As the season's gone along this disconnect has become apparent. And I'm finding the complaints harder to deal with because with the demise of voting so many of them have become personal attacks hardly sheathed in anything resembling logic. Brandon just took a lot of crap for posting that usually when recruits are open with him that means they're excited about Michigan and Malik McDowell was tight-lipped, which may not bode well. This exploded into controversy for some reason: that reason is there are a bunch of people who just complain about everything about the site.
IT'S NOT YOU, IT'S ME
Why these people can't let go and do something else, I don't know. They're locked in a prison of their own devising, being miserable about the state of the blog while they make it worse by constantly complaining about it.
I am going to help both these folks and myself escape from purgatory by hitting the eject button on them. Like this guy who has 41,000 points, most of which seem to be accumulated complaining about the site. And this guy. Great news for everyone: they're banned. Now they are free to explore the rest of the internet, perhaps to find something they don't hate.
This represents a policy change. In short, that is: if the people who write for this site hate you we will ban you. That is the upshot of the twitter burst and the podcast thing. This is not really a change for most people since we did that for anyone with a few points who came in guns blazing. This mostly applies to folks like guy I just banned who'd accumulated the third-most points on the site. I hated that guy! For three years! And out of some idea about respecting the community I let him fart all over it.
To respect the community, we should ban jerks, even if they've been around so long that it seems that there must be some redeeming value in having them around.
If you don't like the way the comments are laid out, or you think there should be more jumps, or fewer jumps, or have a substantive disagreement with what I think, or even have argument-free opinions I roll my eyes at every six months or so, fine. I have to get to know you to loathe you. All you people are good. In fact, here are protips to not get banned under this new regime:
- Don't have an avatar. You're less likely to get noticed.
- Don't be a jerk to people who write for the site. Much more difficult that #1, but still doable if you try.
- Don't constantly complain about the people I hire. If you want to send me an email, fine. Publicly crapping on the other guys who write for us is filed under jerk.
- Don't get mad at me for having a particular emotional state. This happened constantly throughout the season, as if the internet tough guys who were taking the bullets the season threw at them could somehow improve my mood by berating me.
I can understand how the last few years have put people in a place where they find me irritating after once enjoying the site, but all the comments in the world aren't going to be able to change what is primarily a sports blog about what it feels like to be a Michigan fan. If you feel differently, okay! I accept that you feel differently. If you want me to feel like you, that is an argument you are welcome to have anywhere else.
It's been a trying year for everyone, and I'm about to go figure out how to get the damned voting back on comments, so hopefully things will recede from this, their irritating zenith. Thank you to everyone who did not expect me to be an emotional clone of themselves this year, which is like 99% of you. I enjoy you.
This isn't a stage of grief but it is a stage of life: at some point during the long process of disintegrating into a grotesque version of yourself, you stop asking rhetorically when the kids will visit, stop being horrified at the exponential indignities, stop trying to convince everybody you're still just as capable as ever, and just decide to be tickled to death at anything good. You're past caring what ol' so-and-so thinks, and save your opinion that Alabama is something to be ashamed of, not commit to, for the people at your bridge game.* When the doorbell rings you expect it to be Death; if it's the grandkids, we'll order subs and won't that just be grand!
MGoBlog, you've reached the Appreciation stage. Right now on the board you can see a thread for appreciation of Jabrill Peppers, and appreciation itself, and one for Al Borges, and I even made one for you, dear readers. Where are the rest? Where did they come from? I'll allow you this peek behind the curtain:
Poor Ace. We'll put that one with Treadwell's and Levenberry's. And Armani Reeves and Sam Grant and Josh Garnett and Bri'onte Dunn and Anthony Standifer (the second time) and all of Tim's 2011 opponent previews, and some weirdness Brian puts up every once in awhile. Okay ONE example:
<) )> ooohh
I don't know. But that's your user content this week: people admitting our program feels every year of 134. Next time we have Ohio State over let's wear our ratty sweatpants and make fun of their latest girlfriend. What is she 25? Really.
* [The Big Ten is analogously a bridge game.]
The Diary to Read if You Still Care is the one about how experience seems to matter a lot on the interior of the offensive line but not so much on the exterior. Get ready for Michigan and Purdue to be extreme examples of a gentle trend:
Having two 5th year senior tackles don't seem to matter at all. Having an average of 1 year in the program among the three interior guys is not good, but it's not death either: the second star to the left over Michigan is UCLA. Gandalf the Maize, you are the Diarist of the Week. Also I like your wizard hat.
You probably already saw the incredibly detailed one by Space Coyote where he disagrees with Brian over whether Kerridge should be able to make that one block. I have a unifying theory: the part of the brain that has the ability to release the enzymes with which to formulate excuses is often destroyed in the process of playing or coaching football. Ask a coach sometime about the Alabama game last year; he'll probably tell you that was on execution too.
The Other Diary to Read if You Still Care is by a former D3 fullback who went over three complaints we've had about the offensive coaching:
- Don't know their personnel/strengths
- Stubbornly sticking to an offense their players can't run.
- Tipping calls
The anecdotal approach both addresses where our expectations are too high (they can't run simple stuff AND not be predictable) but mostly confirms the general complaints about stubbornness and misusing the personnel.
Etc. I think Brian linked to the weeklies in previous posts, but if you missed it here's parallels between Michigan and the Soviet Space Program. Dragonchild wants to bring helpful signs for the other team that say "WE'RE RUNNING" or "WE'RE PASSING" that our fans can use to prove just how predictable they're being. Has nobody considered what would happen if Borges just starts calling whatever's on the signs?
IN JUG NEWS
I was right about where they'd put the new jug scores:
There are five lines up here, and room for six under each M—seven if they don't have header rows beneath. So that's maybe 26 years before we have to worry about how to fit more scores on the jug gain. How did we beat them 42-13 this year?
Your Moment of Zen:
Sedate me fast 'cause I don't want to think about this. /beats Alabama
It would seem obvious
Event reminder: MGoBlog is coming to Chicago next Friday. Moe's Cantina, River North, 6-9 p.m.
The coping mechanisms kicked in about Tuesday, and the diaries flowed. The best, I thought, was by Ron Utah, who took this base alignment
…from the UFR and pointed out why it's hard to attack this in myriad ways because MSU's defense is good. That is true, but it doesn't invalidate the primary complaints: it isn't cohesive. Indiana faced the same defense and their OL isn't all that great, but they have committed themselves to running option routes and tempo, and it works because it puts the offense mostly on the shoulders of three really good receivers to execute. A short list of some of the hands Michigan gambled on:
- Toussaint's pass blocking vs. Denicos Allen blitz
- Funchess's threat as an inline blocker vs. MSU having watched Funchess this season at all
- Half-hearted play-action on 2nd and 15 when Michigan hasn't shown a run out of that formation in ever vs. MSU safeties' ability to read play-action.
State's defense is great, and that gives teams limited options for beating them. But the offensive coaching was awful independent of that, on the game level more so on a macro level: They haven't been able to figure out from week to week what the hell kind of offense they are, let alone who's going to be playing it. Eventually they want to be a TE-mismatch outfit but right now there isn't a single TE or RB on the roster who can block. I get it, but it's not getting better because in three years nobody on that staff has been able to answer "what are we going to do about it?"
The OL can't block either. Well the freshmen can't and hey, they're freshmen. But since OL coaches are particularly difficult to judge (especially when their oldest recruits are all redshirt freshmen this year) Erik_in_Dayton went over all of Funk's previous OL charges going back to Ball State. No conclusions—almost everybody was a 2-star recruit—but interesting read.
Meanwhile Gameboy has been trying all sorts of ways of assessing Michigan's O-line experience versus that of other teams. In three attempts he's got a bunch of data and no sense to make of it still because Michigan has two extremes and the coaches don't do things to cover up for their weak points. The chart at right shows O-line starts and game experience. His big mistake I think is averaging: Team One has a tackle with thirty starts and a left guard with none; Team Two has a tackle and guard who've started next to each other for fifteen games. Both average fifteen starts, but Team Two has a big advantage that is hidden by your method.
Chunkums put up a survey to ask if you want to fire which coaches, but your feelings are irrelevant since this staff won't be budged unless there's wholesale failure the rest of the year and Dave Brandon's pimp hand has to step in. Even then, what are the chances Michigan grabs the soon-to-be-unemployed Nebraska OC we're pining over? What's that guy going to do with Morris and Speight? It's clear now that Borges should never have been brought here in the first place, but then a world where Michigan hung on to Calvin Magee for a few years (as OSU did with Fickell) comes with its own negatives. Either way the future is what matters now; if we're going to advocate anything maybe it's a consultant who can teach Borges constraint theory.
While you're assessing, here's a handy chart of Michigan's games under Hoke by dnak438, with the betting lines included. I think jamiemac once told me that Michigan's final lines, like ND's and other power programs, are worse predictors because they're responsive to the huge number of people who bet knowing nothing more than that Michigan is traditionally pretty good. Early lines are more accurate. By the way dnak took my suggestion of rotating the chart 45 degrees. This week I'm suggesting overlaying last week's to see progression:
[Jump to find out how Brian got banned, and you can too!]
On Monday I tweeted there would be some interesting Meta announcements on here. The first: indie HTTV shall return, depending on how that looks----------------------->
The second is we're finally having an in-person event that's not in the middle of July:
On Mount Blogmore the beards are made of bacon
When? The Michigan Spring Game event will be at 12:30 at Michigan Stadium. Whenever that's over, wander your way over to R.U.B. We'll be wandering at the same pace so probably won't really be underway until an hour or so after the game ends.
Where? Make your way to R.U.B. BBQ Pub at that corner (State & Packard) that was the Packard Pub, or the Artisan Bistro, or the Southside Grill, or the Atlanta Bread Company, or the Delta Restaurant, or Espresso Royale, or somebody's farm, depending on when you were last in Ann Arbor.
Who? You know, the guys. Brian Cook. Ace Anbender. Heiko Yang after Borges says he can leave the presser. Eric Upchurch. A two-time All-American defensive back. Tacopants. That tubby yutz with a beard…
Wait, you said… Marlin Jackson will be there to join our Q&A session, and will also talk a little about his Fight for Life Foundation, which sponsors programs to give kids some of the opportunities that Marlin himself didn't have in Sharon, Pa. I'll let him explain:
I had to fight against never knowing my father, having a drug addicted mother, being neglected, moving from home to home, and not having any positive role models. I had to fight for my life, the life that I wanted, the life that was just above the horizon of the ghetto that I could not see. The more I experienced beyond the confines of my childhood, the more I became encouraged to fight for all that is right and just in the world. My hope is to give kids who grow up as I did a fighting chance to make it in the world and to let them know that their environment does not have to dictate who they are in a negative way.
Some of the programs he runs are Field of Dreams, which provides incentives for kids to "gain yards" through scholastic achievement and community service; Seal the Deal football camps; and R.A.P. which uses music and the arts to help kids stabilize their lives.
How? This was all made possible thanks to Jared of Sports Power Weekends, who's so good at putting stuff together he does it for a living (he's the guy who organizes those hotel+bus+ticket+tailgate+tshirt trips to away games). Jared will be there for you to thank in person, or if you want to sign up for his packages. At the moment he's planning trips to Iowa on 11/23, Northwestern on 11/16, and for out-of-towners, some in-Ann Arbor programs for Notre Dame and Michigan State.
Need help with this? Yeah. We're going to have some computers set up so we can liveblog the event for those who can't be in Ann Arbor, and kinda help us field questions and whatnot. Moderators: that's the ticket! We need mods. Live mods. Mod mods.
Cost? No cover or anything. We'll order when we get there and split the bill, though a few people offered to get some rounds. If you feel especially privileged to be there and want to put money somewhere, Marlin's Foundation has a Kickstarter-like system of donation levels via paypal.
Why R.U.B. The consensus was that we like beer and ribs. A lought.
RSVP? In the comments I guess. Just trying to get an estimate within +/-15 to give Omar, who's kindly letting us use his place.
Wait no Dear Diary? Where's my Moment of Zen?
Fruits of the photoshop thread
The weekend respite from blasé hockey brought back a sorely missed tradition: goal-by-goal analysis. MGoBlueline picked up where Center Ice left off, and collects the Diarist of the Week; 200 points to Gryffindor. A sampling:
Copp makes a truly spectacular pass through Guptill that ends up right on the tape of Lynch's stick. Lynch is now all alone in the high slot facing a goaltender who is going to have to move side-to-side to stop a shot.
Lynch doesn't hesitate, roofing a shot over the goaltender's glove that makes his Gatorade bottle jump.
By now, yes, everybody knows that Ferris got a free breakaway when they put a 7th man on the ice and nobody noticed. I remind you that the Penguins once spent over 90 important seconds of an NHL Finals elimination game with too many men on the ice and didn't get flagged. I can only surmise that this is legal to do against teams I root for.
LSAClassof2000 has continued to put together short stats-based diaries with cats at the bottom. This week he went into Big Ten scoring offense since 2000. Since so many different coaches and systems have come through during this time, I'm not sure what aggregating by school really does—scoring offense is probably the most 'duh' statistic available to fans, and having Nebraska in a percent of total calculation is just fruitless. Break it up by seasons and tempo-free stats and we're talking—I'd like to know how good, say, 2010 was compared to 2012 Ohio State.
The Blockhams this week tried a little genetic experiment, which as an amateur evolutionary biologist I should warn you that you'd better isolate a lot of genes or else you're as likely to get a too-small, powerless, nerve-pinch-susceptible swimmer with the power to make Tennessee fans deranged by mere mention of his name.
Etc. A sense of entitlement fails you at Penn State and undersells beating MSU, however I caution not to underrate the benefits of that feeling like you can just trust your team will win because that is a low simmering awesome feeling that can make entire weeks happy, and expecting too little will just make you numb. THE LAST FINAL REMAINING SCHEDULES FINAL FINAL by GOLBOGM. Wallpaper by jonvalk.
Best of the Board
IT’S ALMOST LIKE THE SEC CAN ONLY WIN WHEN THEY BLATANTLY CHEAT
A decade ago ESPN realized the power of fan polls to drive passions and traffic when its Page 2 ran a sports-wide uniform contest. One by one the greats—Red Wings red, Tigers white, and finally the maize and blue went down to the ugliest Broncos uniform in history. How? Some fans found a way to game the system. Now a guy whose claim to fame is he’s the Heisman winner’s favorite receiver is doing the same through the college ranks, and again Michigan ends up the finalist they’re trying to screw. Video of how they do it? Actually yeah.
Credit mgouser dmoo4u for uncovering the plot in time. It seems if you create a new group that group gets to vote again. Much of this was going on in the wee hours of last night. I suspect they’ve been doing this all the way up the ranks.
Spring football at least but we are starving fans and we’ll take that. Before there was the Brian article on things to look for this spring, there was the thread of things to look for this spring. Eyes are on, in order, the offensive line, the receivers after Gallon, and the young defensive ends. Ojemudia gif appears:
While on the subject of the foosballs YoBoMoLloRoHo (name complaint: I get that Kipke, Crisler and Bump don’t have easily accessible o’s but what’s your excuse for leaving out Oosterbaan?) takes us down to Georgia to see how they’re developing football talent. I appreciate the effort but having followed high school football in the State of Michigan for some time, I think you’re overrating the difference. I felt that certain schools in the past didn’t do what they could to get their players into BCS programs, but year-long S&C training happens here and on better equipment. Take a tour of Farmington Hills Harrison’s program sometime. The biggest difference between the north and the south in the programs themselves is coach longevity, and I don’t see how that’s a bonus. The biggest difference between Midwest HS football and the South is they have more talent there.
STAUSKAS VS LEVERT:
Bryan Fuller | MGoBlog
Following the Penn State disaster the board starting asking whether a Stauskas who isn’t shooting 80% from behind the arc (and wasn’t defending so well) really ought to be starting over the LeVert sensation. Then we immediately got a chance to put this theory to the test when Stauskas was knocked out against MSU. Minutes in the last five games:
LeVert played well, Michigan beat its rival at home, and successful message recipient Stauskas’s defense was much better against Purdue. He drew Byrd and I don’t think that guy made a field goal until finally getting in on the parade of preposterous treys late. Competition is good. If LeVert establishes himself as a guy worth 15 minutes a game and the sum effect is to get Stauskas to play better I take. We’ll be watching what they do against Oladipo and Indiana.
The other question being mulled is whether B1G teams other than Michigan might struggle in the NCAAs when they don’t have Valentine et al. and the conference’s notoriously poop-flavored whistles protecting them. The theory goes that when Aaron Craft can’t mug people and MSU can’t send man-beasts with active elbows into the paint and Wisconsin can’t Wisconsin that those teams will lose a big part of their winning strategies. Answer 1: The rest of the NCAA isn’t the NBA. Answer 2: I don’t give a damn, because B1G officiating is a huge disadvantage for a team like Michigan, which hardly ever fouls and which often has a quicker undersized guy taking non-called charges. Michigan State has been going to Final Fours for over a decade with teams just like the one they have this year. Getting away from awful Big Ten refs won’t matter nearly as much as getting away from ridiculous Big Ten home court advantages.
BASKETBALL RECRUITING: LADIES EDITION
This would be a diary if it wasn’t for a demand by the OP that it remain on the board. Raoul put together an epic review of current recruiting targets for women’s basketball in the 2014, 2015, and yes even 2016. As in current high school freshmen. I’ve mentioned before that it’s quite common for the non-main sports to fill their classes years in advance (they have full and partial scholarships to give out so the athletes race to grab the few full rides available), so there’s a lot of pressure on the kids to commit before they can, you know, drive cars.
META: HELLO NEW MODS, NOT LIKE THE OLD MODS
Profitgoblue is stepping down from his longtime moderator chair in order to pursue his lifelong dream of getting a newborn to sleep through the night. Stepping into his place is LSAClassof2000. Better have some good, minable data in your posts from now on.
YOU MIGHT BE A THING IF YOU GET TAKEN IN BY THAT THING’S YOU MIGHT BE… LISTS
Buzzfeed is to Reddit as Flounder is to a group of fraternity brothers playing cards. That said, when Michigan fandom comes in for the “You might be a _____ if…” treatment anywhere, we bite. Here’s all the things from the Buzzfeed list you need to care about:
- Chipatis. Pizza House takes all the credit but Pizza Bob invented the thing, which makes sense when you consider the whole trick is to make the salad on a paper plate first and then stuff it into a pita, and Bob’s is the place that 1) serves everything on paper plates, and 2) uses pita dough for its pizzas because it’s cheaper.
- Not a Blimpy virgin. If you haven’t heard, it’s not going to be there much longer.
- “Constant Buzz” and Casa Dominicks.
I guess you need to at least have taken the orientation tour to know not to step on the M on the Diag, that the UGLI exists, and the stacks are for scandalous trysts (I only ever went there to do research and found other people doing research). The other 29 things are generic, stupid, or things you would discover if you’re from Los Angeles and Googled “Things to do in Ann Arbor.” DON’T BE TAKEN IN BY STUPID BUZZFEED LISTS.
The comments at least mentioned the first day of spring, when the North Face jackets disappear and everyone is outside in shorts throwing frisbees because it’s blessedly 49 degrees. And while the Fishbowl is known to all, the c. 2001 Fishbowl RIsing movement and the Brabbs for Heisman campaign that originated there shall ne’er be forgot.
ETC. Softball has Wagner back. Also back: mercies. Possibly leaked Illinois alternate helmet that doesn’t seem to jive with the school’s attempts to get away from 1950s-‘how, white man’ Native American imagery [insert my usual spiel about how this is peanuts when there’s pro teams called Redskins and Indians].
Your Moment of Zen: