MGoBlog's community is like a bear crossed with a piranha crossed with, naturally, a wolverine: noble, powerful, mean, vicious, and capable of turning an unwise traveler into bone within 15 seconds. Perhaps the most common interaction on the message board is this:
n00b: I say something n00by. Maybe I've been infected by Rome or Bayless or whatever and I have a "take" which I "bring strong", i.e. overreact to something.
Old Guard: You are wrong in these seven ways, which I will explain to you in a fashion 150% as condescending as you deserve.
At this point there's a fork. Some people take it personally and resolve to hate the "cool kids" or whatever. Other demonstrate coachability.
Examples of this process often concern recruiting, because recruiting is something you can get really worked up about without having any information whatsoever. The latest came in the aftermath of LA WR Drew Dileo's commitment, about which I was lukewarm. Others were somewhere between lukewarm and hysterical, which annoyed people less prone to questioning, which caused arguments to erupt, which caused everyone slightly on one side to become very much on one side or the other for purposes of the argument, which led to this diary from ShockFX…
Question 1: How do I deal with Michigan recruits dropping places in the rankings?
A) Bitch about them dropping for being already committed.
B) Fret about not having any top 100 recruits in May.
C) Get enraged that Rivals sucks at ranking players and isn't fair, then shamefully realize my last post was demeaning Rich Rod for offering 'middle of road' WRs, where middle of the road is determined using rankings like Rivals. Oops.
D) Point out RR track record in excelling with recruits that are low ranked, and hell, it's only fucking May, these kids are juniors in high school and this addiction is borderline pedophilia even to the greeks/spartans (the ancient ones, not the rollerbladin' brahs in the EL).
E) Just D.
…which led to this message board thread…
so I wonder, in light of the diary that is the self test, what is okay for us fans to pay attention to recruiting wise that isnt crossing "The Line?" What do you consider crossing the line?
But how much is too much? Because when I read things like this, a WLA post from our friend ShockFX, and others like it, it's clear that people think a line exists. This is a recent mgoblog thread about recruiting and "the line."
…which led to this post you are reading right now. Here we are. I liked the bear/piranha/wolverine metaphor. Did you?
There are two separate lines of questioning I'd like to address and will do so separately. Line one:
At what point do you cross the line from being a passionate fan who follows recruiting to being a creepy guy?
A hilariously/awfully outdated post on the general ethics of following recruiting still holds true even if it chose literally the worst possible example:
2. Do not disparage recruits except in extraordinary circumstances.
This goes quadruple for uncommitted recruits--a recent flagrant example on Rivals occurred when someone posted some idiocy about how he doubted Justin Boren's "love for Michigan" because he hadn't committed yet. Boren committed soon after and then expressed his love for Michigan. How do you feel now, anonymous internet moron?
Except for that, though, the post stands up remarkably well for something I wrote four years ago. Just don't do anything that you wouldn't do if the 300 pound heaving mass of mobile death was standing in front of you. I don't think many people come anywhere near that, but there are some.
Speaking of Facebook: whenever a recruit or player post something that seems newsworthy as his status, people immediately report it on message boards across the internet. This is followed by a round of recriminations by people who don't like the idea because it's a violation of privacy or something*. The above-cited thread has an example of this:
I refuse to look up recruits on facebook/myspace because that is just over the top, i do wonder sometimes why we are allowing for so many wr recruits to commit, and i do pay attention to the stars on rivals but i dont complain about it here at mgoblog.
Which… uh. Either you're the kind of person who has 2000 friends because you're a football player (or blogger) and auto-approves anyone who adds you, or you're the kind of person who has 200 friends because you add that guy you met at that party one time. Either way, you don't have an expectation of privacy when you post "GOING TO COMMIT TO MICHIGAN WOO" as your status, or when you trash talk a goat.
If it's on the internet, it's public. There is undoubtedly someone employed by the Michigan athletic department right now whose main task is to beat this fact into athlete's heads.
What you absolutely should not do is annoy someone. Back to Maize 'n' Brew:
Some people obviously think it's not crossing any line to post on a recruit's facebook page. A recent post on Anthony Lalota's page says "Good luck tomorrow - from Tony in Columbus - Go Blue." Does this seemingly innocent wall-post cross this mythical line? What if that wall post had said "Yer gonna suck for 4 years, go blow - ha. buckeyes4lyfe"?
Wall Post A: No. I think it's a little weird that you're seeking out the ability to toss meaningless yay go yay words at someone you don't know, but whatever. That's probably the kind of interaction you'd have with LaLota if you met him IRL. Wall Post B: Yes. Obviously.
From a media standpoint, I regard anything directly relevant to a player's football career as fair game but won't report on irrelevant things unless they're harmlessly awesome like the above goat trash-talk. I like Facebook's ability to humanize football players like that. Johnny's posts at RBUAS were greatly improved by the addition of various slice-of-life photos gathered from Facebook. It's a delicate balance best undertaken with a sense of respect for the subject, and I'm sure there will be various incidents that make it seem like a bad thing. It can be a powerfully good one, too.
*(This is mostly a feature of premium message boards, since people on those message boards take their cues from the moderators and the moderators want to discourage people getting information straight from the source for obvious reasons.)
Why do people keep crushing my face on the message board?
Because you're annoying. (Not you, specifically, guy who posted the thread.) In an information surplus economy people want things that are clear, to the point, informative, original, and/or entertaining. If you're posting in a near-illiterate pidgin or continually overreacting to minor news events people are going to get their dander up. You're wasting their time, and on the internet that time could be spent watching keyboard cat play someone off.
This is valuable time.
I get the frustration when someone posts something that has none of the above positive qualities, but I also get the frustration of the n00b when everything that does not meet exacting standards of netiquette gets the piranha treatment.
The answer is probably for everyone to just take it easy, man. This will probably not happen.
MONDAY MONDAY MONDAY! This is probably going to be way less blood-spattered than the average person who might care about this would like, but it should be entertaining anyway: I'll be on Bacon's show on WTKA this afternoon… with Jim Carty! Carty's on at the beginning of the 4PM hour and I'll be joining him midway through. You can probably guess the topic: the dissolution of the Ann Arbor News. No, I'm not planning on getting into a really complicated discussion about the academics investigation that 15 minutes on a radio show can't do justice.
(One of these days, I promise, I will be on the radio to talk about football. Again, it's April.)
Christening. It looks like Michigan's going to open up their spectacular new renovated stadium next year with a terrific game against traditional power Massachusetts:
According to a source, it was Michigan that approached UMass about the game, which would be played at Michigan Stadium, which holds 106,201 for football.
“We’d like to, we want to, and we’re looking into it,” said UMass spokesman Jason Yellin.
Lame. Might as well get the yearly complaint out of the way: this is the worst thing about college football. Bill Martin's decision to extend the ND series until the sun expands was fine as long as Michigan would occasionally schedule an interesting second game, but that looks like it's never going to happen. When is Michigan going to agree to any series against an opponent respectable enough to demand a return game, even if it's a 2-for-1 situation? It doesn't have to be USC, but this is awful.
Two changes that will never get made that would improve things immeasurably: banning I-AA games and instituting a maximum of seven home games (or a minimum of five true road games, which would prevent things like Michigan vs New Mexico State at Ford Field from evading the directive). Since exactly zero people in the NCAA's hierarchy care about the people who pay for the entire enterprise, this will never happen.
Leaving as fast as possible in as many ways as possible. Lane Kiffin caused defections at Tennessee are up to a spectacular nine now, which is a lot more folk a lot faster than Rodriguez "ran off," to use the parlance of people who don't know what they're talking about. The latest is QB BJ Coleman, who actually appears to have gotten run off:
“It’s the best move for me,” Coleman told The Free-Press. “What changed my mind is, after this spring, I don’t see myself getting a fair shake. Based on conversations with coaches and things that happened this spring, I feel the staff has goals that do not include me."
This brings Tennessee down to two scholarship quarterbacks, one of whom is terrible senior Jonathan Crompton. And yet Kiffin said no thanks to the two committed quarterbacks he inherited from Fulmer, including top-100 guy Tajh Boyd. Relevance to Michigan? Slight. I guess he's taking a lot of heat that might otherwise be directed at Rodriguez.
Despite the irrelevance, the mention is because he's instantly the most fascinating head coach in college football. He committed yet another stupid, minor recruiting violation recently, by the way. Of course he did. This could go towards Spurrier direction or John L Smith; I have no idea which it will be.
Smotcyz! Smotycrz! Smotycz! Smotrycz! There's an inside view into my Smotrycz spelling process for you. I plan on charging 9.95 a month for things like that soon*, so soak it up now while it's free.
Anyway, Michigan's most recent commit had another AAU weekend and there were a couple reports. This is from NBE:
Good height, but needs to get physically stronger before the Big 10. His size and skill away from the basket makes it look like he was made for John Beilein’s system and he should get the most of his strengths at Michigan. Showed ability to slash to the basket, but needs to finish more often once in the paint, as evidenced by failing to convert on an easy lay-up. Added strength will help.
Kind of sounds like Deshawn Sims, no? Smotrycz is taller but probably not as athletic. Meanwhile at NERR:
Evan Smotrycz was the catalyst as the Michigan bound forward really brought his game to another level. Not only was he making shots from the perimeter, but he also showed a much improved dribble drive game, as he was able to break his man down with a right to left cross-over on more than one occasion. But it wasn’t just his ability to score off the dribble that was so impressive as he also passed the ball tremendously well, acting as a facilitator in the second half with his ability to create open looks for his teammates.
Evan Smotrycz picked up right where he left off a day earlier as he was outstanding for the second consecutive day, making shots, breaking people down off the dribble, and passing the ball very well. It was his consistent excellence throughout the course of the weekend that helped propel the Rivals all the way to the finals before finally losing to a New Jersey Celtics team that featured top 50 junior Kyrie Irving and the nation’s top sophomore Michael Gilchrist.
I'm getting a little skeptical of these reports from NERR because identical ones are showing up at Scott Hazelton's site. Hazelton runs a basketball school/camp sort of business and Smotrycz is a protégé. The glowing reports might not be 100% fair and balanced, then. Might want to scale those down to places where Smotrycz is not a titan astride basketball.
That's not to say the last two weeks haven't been very good for public perception of Smotrycz's game: every national pundit who's offered an opinion has been extremely positive, and most have brought him up apropos of nothing except his ability to ball.
In other basketball recruiting. UMHoops has a wider roundup for those interested, with the most important development being the apparent cooling off between NY PF Will Regan and Michigan. Regan's latest top five doesn't include Michigan. With Michigan still hot on the heels of Trey Zeigler and in need of another point guard after Kelvin Grady's transfer, both open slots in this class are probably going to guards or wings, which Regan is not.
Grady's transfer brings the 2010 class to at least three spots. I've suggested in the past that Michigan might take four depending on the NBA status of Manny Harris and the fifth year status of Anthony Wright, but it's been pointed out to me that Michigan would then be approaching the loaded instate class of 2011 with just one open slot unless there was unexpected attrition. That's something they probably won't want to do unless the hypothetical 2010 player they're taking is freakin' awesome.
More media machinating. So: a kind mention from John Bacon on his weekly NPR commentary (transcript here) amidst his take on the Ann Arbor News is going kaput. Carty takes issue with some of the numbers:
I'm a little skeptical that, as John claims, more people read MGoBlog during football season than purchase the Ann Arbor News (this is a metrics issue, not a shot at MGoBlog, but a question about the difficulty of measuring individual Internet visitors, vs. the 250,000-plus people a week who you know bought the News, because you have their money).
Carty's right as to the difficulty of measuring the relative readership across mediums. My stats are public in two flavors:
- Sitemeter, which measures pageviews and visits, and
- Quantcast, which does an awful lot of complicated stuff to come up with some demographic numbers.
The upshot, as far as I can tell: the blog does about 2 million pageviews a month now. By traditional internet accounting these hits come from about 110,000 monthly uniques, but Quantcast thinks that's about 2x too generous as far as the number of actual people who check the site. The Ann Arbor News has a circulation of about 45k, which by standard industry math corresponds to sixty trillion readers. So… draw your own conclusions. The mere fact that it's plausible is probably more interesting than the current winner.
More JMFC, and friends. To hockey recruiting now: Jack Campbell was interviewed by the Wolverine, and certainly sounds like a guy who will end up on campus by his scouting reports on teammates current and future:
Merrill - absolute stud. Enough said. Next JMFJ.
This is a man who is into Michigan hockey. The second, premium section of the interview($) contains another statement similar to the one discussed earlier, where Campbell professes his loyalty for Michigan before mentioning the dark possibility that the team that drafts him will be really into Sutter brothers and want him elsewhere. Chances of a defection remain slim but nonzero.
Elsewhere, 2010 D Kevin Clare was the subject of an extensive Red Line Report profile. After JMFJ2.0 and Adam Clendening were called up to the U18 team, Clare was handed increased responsibility on both ends of the ice and responded:
“With the departure of those two skilled players, Kevin has completely stepped up his game and shown to everybody that he has a lot more to his game than just being a hard-nosed, tough defenseman,” remarked U-17 assistant coach John Wroblewski. “He is exceptional with the puck, cool under pressure and can handle the power play very well.” …
“We look at him to be one of the harder players, to set the tone physically and to make sure that the opponent knew when he was on the ice,” Wroblewski said. “The biggest thing with Kevin is lately he has shown such a great ability to go back for pucks and just read the situation on the breakout. As a defenseman, it is invaluable to have that knowledge and presence back there.
“On the opposite end of the puck, he has shown an absolute knack for knowing when to step up into the play and delivering pucks to the net. That has made him a great asset on the power play as well as 5-on-5.”
Cool biographical tidbit: Clare's father is Irish, as in from-Ireland Irish, and played Gaelic football, but didn't want Clare to get into it because there's no professional opportunities.
I actually do get asked these questions, especially about the obscure terms, frequently.
Did you even go to Michigan?
Twice, receiving computer engineering degrees in 2001 and 2003. I am approximately 30, depending on how recently this has been updated.
Computer engineering? Well... yeah. This might be an odd avocation for a guy who learned all about bits in college, but if it makes you feel better some friends and I founded the Every Three Weekly, a Michigan ripoff of the Onion that was actually fairly good for a few years there. I cannot vouch for their current competence because they stopped updating the website. And, yes, now I'm a sportsblogger, which is a lot like being an engineer when it comes to impressing chicks except without the sizeable paycheck. For my next act, I plan on becoming something even less appealing to the opposite sex, like... uh... I actually can't think of anything. Dustin Diamond?
This is your job?
Yes! More precisely, this plus my duties at
AOL's Fanhouse The Sporting Blog SBNation, are my jobs. Money comes from the blog in the form of merchandising, donations, and advertising, plus the Hail to the Victors annuals. If you are looking for a freelance writer, I am available. Drop me an email.
Why should I donate?
The more money that MGoBlog actually generates, the more it becomes a viable long-term option for funding and the more time I can afford to put into it at some point down the road when the need to actually make money becomes important because I have
squalling brats adorable children.
Who are these other people intruding on your front page?
Seth Fisher is the business manager (ie he sells the ads), copy editor, and the guy who makes the Hail to the Victors books happen. Ace Anbender is our full-time recruiting analyst, senior basketball correspondent, and staff writer. We sometimes make up other titles as they're needed.
Among people who help but have real jobs, Heiko Yang is our official press correspondent and is currently pursuing an MD/PhD at UM Med School. Brandon Brown (Coach Brown) is our recruiting correspondent. BiSB (Blue in South Bend) writes opponent watch and this week in Twitterverse. Eric Upchurch and Bryan Fuller are our photographers (Fuller is freelance; other freelancers we use are Bill Rapai and Adam Glanzman). Chris Cook sleeps with the servers.
What's the deal with...
- "The New Math"? Nickname for Mario Manningham. Comes from post conveniently titled "The New Math" after the 2005 Penn State game. General implication is that 86 == 1 and Manningham is unpossible.
"Unverified Voracity"? Voracity is a weird word to come after "unverified," especially when dealing with a sports blog and not, say, a blog about rumored hunger. The deal: back when the sporadic link-filled posts were untitled, some Iowa sportswriter penned what was to the the first in a long line of intemperate columns ragging on blogs for having the audacity to not be written by sportswriters. Unfortunately for that sportswriter, she inserted the following sentence:
In the new "journalism of assertion," as the report calls it, information is offered with little time and little attempt to independently verify its voracity. [sic]
Sarcasm being what it is, UV was born shortly after.
- "OMG Shirtless"? Sometime during the 2005 recruiting year I received a number of hits for "Tim Tebow shirtless." At that point Tebow was a heavily pursued quarterback recruit and not Chris Leak's china-destroying sidekick. I endeavored to help this lonely, lonely person but could only find a picture of Tebow in a basketball jersey. Thus was born the Shirt Scale of recruiting rankings; these days it's about 50-50 as to whether or not a panting reference to a five-star freakystud gets tagged as shirtless, depending on whim.
- "Tacopants"? Tacopants is Jason Avant's eleven-foot tall imaginary friend. Chad Henne spent much of 2005 hitting him between the numbers, which are unfortunately eight feet off the ground and made of dreams. Blessed with infinite eligibility and the ability to sneak on and off the field without alerting the referees -- made of dreams, remember -- Tacopants has taken a lesser role in the offense as Henne matures but still pops up at inopportune times. The term has its genesis in this post.
"Manbearfreak"? Carson Butler. A commenter or two still refers to Butler as "manbearfreak" or "MBF," which was confusing even to me until I looked it up. A conflation of "Manbearpig" from South Park and "freak," generally used to describe any unusually athletic specimen who plays football. Appears exactly once in the vast and multifarious MGoBlog archives:
Carson Butler. Manbearfreak.
- "Mr. Plow"? Justin Boren, who was incensed that Rich Rodriguez wouldn't let him go back home on the weekends to help out with his dad's snowplow business. His whereabouts are currently unknown.
- "HOWEVA"? Stephen A. Smith reference; if you don't know, be thankful.
- "The Horror"? Think of something so horrifying that could happen to Michigan football that it would thereafter only be referred to as "The Horror." Think of the first thing that an enemy fan will use when they want to give a Michigan fan a taste of what hell must be like. That's "The Horror." Now stop thinking about that and think about how adorable kittens can be. Soooo adorable!
- "The Year of Infinite Pain"? Is 2005, a time before we knew what pain was.
- "Negbang" or "Posbang"? Refers to a large number of MGoVotes in one direction or another. A person who posts an unpopular comment on the board and receives 50 negative votes or more can be said to be "Negbanged."
- "Special K"? Kenny Fisher from "Can't Hardly Wait." Graduated with a degree in having sex from U.C.L.A. and now makes music selections to pump out at Michigan home games, with consultation from Pepsi.
- "Bolivia"? Board jargon, from "negged to bolivian," meaning oblivion.
- "Manpanda, Crimes Against"? Running MANBALL ISOs from the I-formation to no or negative effect when you have the world's greatest running QB on your roster. Origin: 2011 disaster vs. Iowa.
- "Fusion Cuisine"? Specifically Borges-Denard. Imagine they are chefs from different planets and must create the most delectible offense ever, but they only have so many practices to get it right...
"Muppets" The MGoBlog version of the "You can't have one without the other" pair that MMB plays after victories.
What do all those abbreviations mean?
- IANAJTTP: "I am not a journalist, that's the point."
- Hennechart abbreviation explanations can be found here.
- NSFMF: "Not so fast, my friend."
- NT[variable]: "Not THAT," examples: Miami (NTM) to refer to the Ohio one, or Chris Rock (NTCR), etc.
- NTTAWWT: Not that there's anything wrong with that.
- RPS: Rock, Paper, Scissors. UFR phrasing for what coordinators do against each other with playcalling.
- UFR: "Upon Further Review," the painstaking play-by-play analysis of offensive and defensive performance after football games. A database of past UFRs is available in the User HoF.
- YMRMFSPA: "You may remember me from such players as." Used in recruiting profiles to say what kind of player a recruit may turn out to be if he works out.
Will you write a ripjob about X?
Maybe? I feel dirty after each one ("why can't I be more like John Hollinger? Why can't I be more like John Hollinger! Stupid, stupid, stupid!") and silently resolve never to write one again until the next time. What can I say? It's rageohol. Rageohol is gooooood. One general principle is that once I have eviscerated someone for excessive stupidity I institute a ban on further ripping unless something really egregious comes up. A partial list of these people:
- Tom Dienhart
- Matt Hayes
- Dennis Dodd
- Anyone associated with College Football News
- Drew Sharp
- Terry Foster
- Rob Parker
Unless you've got something that cries out to be slaughtered I'll probably bite my tongue and pass.
How can I start up a blog and have it be successful?
Create something that does not exist elsewhere. As a nobody, you have to go above and beyond the normal stuff people can read every day in the newspaper or on other blogs. A picks column is a waste of time. You can do this any number of ways. Johnny posts erratically and infrequently but since there's no one who writes quite like him he has a following. Vijay posts equally erratically and infrequently but drops a lot of original research and has a following. This blog's calling card, IMO, is UFR.
What's inescapable is that unless you have some wild talent like Johnny, you will have to put in a lot of work. You will probably get discouraged or bored and quit, but if you don't you too can have a hitcount in the triple or even quadruple digits and forget what the sun looks like. Current suggestions for Michigan fans:
- someone with an extensive video library of old Michigan games who splices together highlight reels and analysis on a regular basis.
- A blog that really focuses on basketball (hey, buy low, sell high) [UPDATE: complete.]
- A truly obsessive recruiting blog.
Just make sure that whatever you're doing can reasonably be called the best whatever it is, and people who are interested in whatever will read you.
How can I express my deep and abiding fondness for MGoBlog?
Certainly incomplete. Any suggestions for additions can be left in the comments.
AT 12:30 AM on December 4th, 2004, MGoBlog was born thusly:
A computer dork from the very first. A few weeks later, Michigan lost the a heartbreaking Rose Bowl, baptizing the blog in disappointment.Â
So what is this place? It's a somewhat comprehensive Michigan sports blog that promises to cover football, hockey, basketball, baseball, and all other Michigan sports in various levels of detail. These levels are:
- football: exhaustive, extreme, and debilitating
- hockey: considerable
- basketball: considerable
- baseball: minimal, edging towards moderate when they're good
- all others: mentions whenever they threaten to win a national title
Your host is a 30-ish Michigan true believer whose grandfather ushered at Ferry Field and bought season tickets in the 1950s, when not even the player's parents bothered to show up except for Ohio State. Those tickets have stayed in the family since and, yes, they are frickin' sweet.
When it came time to pick a college, I applied to Michigan and MIT; MIT said no. Six years later, I had two computer engineering degrees from Michigan, one a masters. In between, I played Rumble Racing, lived in a filthy house with six other dudes, and did all the other things that make everyone think their particular college is the best college ever. I also helped found the Every Three Weekly, a Michigan analogue to (read: ripoff of) the Onion, with a few friends, editing the paper my final four years at Michigan.
After college I worked a couple of programming jobs until such time as the second company realized I spent most of my time blogging and decided they shouldn't be paying me for that. The rest, as they say, is history.
So, right, the game was on my hard drive... the external one that I left in Ann Arbor. I have re-downloaded and will get crackin', but bump back everything a day if you please.
UFR coming ASAP, but it will be 5 or 6.