mesmerism! presidential assassinations! circuses on fire!
Support this cause. A bunch of alumni are getting together to help raise money:
On December 26, 2014 Evelyn Grace Spytek - daughter of former Wolverine John Spytek - passed away due to complications following a CMV (Cytomegalovirus) related surgery. In her memory and in support of the National CMV Foundation, a team of eleven former Michigan Football student athletes - John Spytek, Dave Pearson, John Navarre, Grant Bowman, Andy Mignery, Tony Pape, Phil Brackins, Brent Cummings, Jeff Rich, Steve Baker and Eric Rosel - will be running the Columbus, Ohio Capital City Half Marathon on May 2, 2015 to raise money for the cause.
As causes go this is one of the best. Hit it up here to help out.
Har-bonus. Additional items that didn't make the cut for the Real Sports thing:
As for the piece itself, I thought it was fine. Alex Boone's statements were self-contradictory, which made me feel like maybe the full conversation would help reconcile that into something where context makes the first bits less harsh.
Harbaugh himself came off as a guy who is aware that his personality is to the best of his ability but had no plans on changing it; the moment where Visser asks him about the "wear out his welcome" thing and he just says "that must be true" given the evidence was charmingly without artifice or defensiveness. There was some regret in there, but nothing to the point where Harbaugh would consider changing. Even if it meant he spent his childhood playing baseball with himself in the strip mall nearest to my home.
(Does he still do this? Can I buy tickets if that is the case?)
Gumbel's bit at the end was predictably smug, but whatever.
Hilarious aside. Remember when NFL reporters were swearing up and down that Harbaugh would never leave the NFL because he hates recruiting? Nobody asked his wife.
THE LAST BASTION OF zzzz. Don't care, is football coach, must have mandatory football coach opinions unless he's Lloyd Carr. The position is self-selecting gentlemen who value toughness above just about everything else and can't find that value elsewhere.
no I don't want to talk about it
the problem with politics from the perspective of a sports fan is that there is no difference between the two activities
The Houston Nutt of satellite camps. Michigan's camp schedule in June, via Sam Webb:
June 4th - Midwest stop
June 5th - Prattville, Alabama
June 6th - Tampa, Fla.
June 7th - Pennsylvania
June 8th - Houston, Tex
June 9th - Dallas, Tex
June 10th - California
June 11th -12th - Sound Mind / Sound Body (Michigan)
This is the satellite camp equivalent of Houston Nutt signing 37 guys one year at Arkansas: the thing that gets people up in arms enough to bring down the NCAA hammer. SEC coaches are complaining, the commissioner is bringing it up to the rules committee, even Urban Meyer's against it, another avenue in the arms race threatens to open up, and soon there will be a bylaw saying NOPE. Because when it comes down to it, NCAA laws are for the coaches, not the players.
False alarm? ESPN's Paul Biancardi momentarily had hearts a-flutter yesterday when he asserted, citing sources "close to his family," that national #1 player Jaylen Brown had a top two of Cal and Michigan. That's Cal the school, not Cal the coach who thinks shot clock violations are the way to go in the late stages of a Final Four game.
No offense to Cal the school, but competing against them versus the blue-bloods of college basketball seems like a highly tractable position—no doubt Cal was thinking the same thing.
Alas, Brown shot that down:
Jaylen Brown has not cut his list, he told SNY.tv by text on Wednesday.
“No,” he said when asked if he was down to Cal and Michigan.
Now, that is not quite a response to what Biancardi said. He made no assertion that Brown had dropped anyone—they in fact also mention Kansas and Kentucky in the segment—just that those two schools were the names they were hearing. Biancardi can be correct and Brown can answer that question like he did. And that would be very nice.
Cal, now the home of bizarrely-deposed former Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin, does have a commit from top-ten Ivan Rabb. Despite going 7-9 in the Pac-12 last year they will have some surrounding pieces to entice with.
Brown's recruitment is currently very mysterious, but as we were talking about this on the WTKA roundtable today Sam re-iterated that he was confident that Michigan was in Brown's top two and that the other school seems to keep changing—always a good sign for the constant. I'm still in believe-it-when-I-see-it mode when Michigan goes head to head for the big dogs, but they did get Mitch.
In other big boy news. 2016 SF Tyus Battle is coming off a visit to Louisville that his father rather gushed over($) to Louisville's Scout site…
The elder Battle said all of the pre-visit information with the day and a half spent with the staff on the official visit made for an "awesome" time in Louisville.
"We got a lot out of it," he said. "A whole lot."
The father said the campus tour and atmosphere around the program led him to believe he would be turning his son over to "someone who really cared about him," if Tyus Battle were to pick Louisville down the road.
…and is winding down his recruitment. A lot of people are talking about Duke, which is natural. Though he and Derryck Thornton are not a package since Thornton reclassified to 2015, they are friends. Unless Thornton's going to become the equivalent of a none-and-done, that could be a factor.
But Michigan does have another shot:
"He's probably just going to go through the process and just pick a school," the father said. "It's not that we don't like the recruiting process, but there are some other things that he needs to get along with.
"He will visit Michigan on May 8 and after that we will see."
Michigan will have openings after the departures of LeVert and DEFINITELY JAYLEN BROWN*.
*[Unless Brown sticks to his statements he might stay two years.]
This is not your job. FSU's trustees are complaining that Florida State, which was bombed by Oregon in the CoFoPoff, was disrespected so thoroughly as to be placed third in the final rankings:
"I think the perceived bias of the ACC in general, [with] Florida State falling to No. 4 in the rankings and still being undefeated and being [No.] 3 at the end of the season … a one-loss ACC team or two-loss ACC team is going to have a hard time breaking that top four," Gruters said. "I think the top ACC team over the next four or five years, we're going to be in that [No.] 5 to 8 category. And we're going to be on the outside looking in."
You are. And it will be justified. Florida State's season was a series of high-wire escapes indicating that it was nowhere near the team that steamrolled to a national title the previous year. Voters and the committee reacted appropriately. In a sport like college football there is not enough data to just exclaim "just win baby"; FSU drop was not about bias but performance.
I did not know that #talkinboutthenoles extended to the trustee level. In retrospect I'm not surprised, though.
All right. Michigan gets a home game with Xavier in the new Gavitt Tipoff, which is basically a Big East/Big Ten challenge with less overall oomph since the Big East is short on teams. Unfortunately, the Stain Train is out of eligibility. Michigan does get to match up against Trevon Bluiett, who was quite good as a freshman.
Xavier was a six-seed this year, reaching the Sweet 16 before losing to Arizona in a tight game. They lose two starters but return a large group of experienced players; they appear to have an excellent replacement for Stainbrook in junior-to-be Jalen Reynolds, who had a virtually identical shooting percentage (62%) on a similar number of shots.
Hope you like night games. Minnesota joins Maryland and Utah as night games on the road—though Utah was always going to be at night since it is on Thursday. Add in rumors that PSU could be at night and Michigan searching for one at home and noon kicks are dead, man.
MORE THAN 8 YEARS IN THE NFL IS A LONG TIME
Boom: chart! by LSA on how long an NFL draftee is expected to last.
The blip is explainable by what's been going on with NFL rookie contracts. The maximum contract for a rookie used to be seven years (hence the peak), but since 2011 every rookie contract has been four years with a team option for a fifth on 1st rounders.
|Click for big|
That CBA made rookie contracts way less complicated and appreciably more team-friendly. An unintended side effect of this has been teams trying to rid themselves of those pre-2011 agreements while holding onto more recent draftees longer than they would otherwise.
Since the rough years in Ann Arbor have now stretched longer than what's typical for any NFL career, the Michigan guys still playing are particularly old. I remember making all-Michigan teams in early Playstation versions of Madden. Try that now and you can squeeze together a one-deep plus Henne, Fitz, Will Campbell, and Cam Gordon on the bench (I 'm using Mundy for now but if you figure Stevie Brown will sign somewhere you can swap them out).
SMART FOOTBALL ON HARBAUGH
It's scheme month on the Solid Verbal Podcast so Smart Football (Chris Brown) has been on. This already is relevant to your interests. But this week's show was on Harbaugh so…
Go to the 47 minute mark to get to the Harbaugh. Dnak at the link provided the bullets for "Bo Schembechler football with Jon Gruden's playbook." Dnak also questioned the suggestion that Fisch is going to be running the offense, a prospect Chris is down on. I do think Jedd's "passing game coordinator" title is legit but Drevno is calling plays, as he did well enough in San Diego, and it's still Harbaugh's scheme and Harbaugh's plans, and Harbaugh's metaphorical nose in the huddle.
Earlier they're talking about Mariota vs. Winston and Chris is asked "In 2015 what's a Pro Style offense and what's a Spread?" and he just rips apart the labels, before using them anyway because we still don't have better to describe two slider setting extremities.
Speaking to what you do with a quarterback, until you've got a Tom Brady/Peyton Manning who in Chris's words is "seeing the Matrix", you design a passing game you can teach and your quarterback can operate. Dials include footwork (shotgun, 3-, 5- and 7-step drops), pre-snap reads, post-snap decision trees, and of course whether his feet are going to be part of the offense. Start with the knobs he's good at, and slowly turn up others as the QB adjusts.
The biggest point is "it all works" as long as your offense puts stress on the defense. The classic example of exactly what you shouldn't do then hangs in the air like a wet Borges fart. It is annoying that Brown excitedly brings up our two chief rivals as examples of cutting edge while the commentary on Michigan's offense is "this stuff may be old but it still works." May it kick ass so the smart coach-y people have to explain why.
[After jump: Austin Davis, night games and the Freekbass Quotient of invitees, why we're all A's fans now]
Hype video. Summing up the last two years in the tourney:
Paperwork. Michigan's three NBA draft candidates have submitted their paperwork for evaluation. This is a non-event, as they were always going to see what the NBA says. Unless they come back saying something different than expectation (yes Stauskas, maybe GRIII, probably not McGary). Which they probably won't.
SCOUR THE STREETS OF TIMBUKTU. Block/charge is broken but danged if Michigan wouldn't do well with one of those extreme defensive centers whose main job is to intimidate and throw down dunks. John Beilein may agree:
Beilein tells @michiganinsider he may look for a bigger shotblocker to place on the back line due to changes in block/charge call
— Brendan F. Quinn (@BFQuinn) April 9, 2014
Oh really. The Penn State game will be at night, as anyone who had looked at the 2014 home schedule could have told you. Prediction: I mutter about pom-poms in the aftermath.
Oh really, but in a good way. Hockey has already named its captains for next year and I bet you can get the C and one A without even thinking a little and the other A after a brief pause.
Copp will join Jed Ortmeyer and Carl Hagelin as two-year captains since I've been aware of Michigan hockey, and if he drives Michigan back to the tournament with authority he'll end up on my personal Michigan hockey Mount Rushmore with those two gentlemen. (Shawn Hunwick is the fourth.) I don't mean for this to turn into another discussion of Mount Rushmores like twitter was inexplicably doing a month back. Just let it go. No Rushmores.
OHL draft update. It was not a dramatic year for Michigan in the OHL draft, as every one of their commitments was picked in the late flier range. With James Sanchez's commitment to the NTDP, three of their four commits will be on the U17s next year. The NTDP contract has a financial penalty for early departure, so the window OHL teams have will be very small. It's not impossible, but generally NTDP guys who defect are staring down top-ten draft picks and decided they don't have to play school or are terrified by the prospect of competing with Shawn Hunwick.
Michigan's three gentlemen are highly regarded, but not in that range. They're probably safe, except for the whole looming Berenson retirement thing. But there's nothing you can do about that.
Simple, but more complicated. Morris on the differences between Nussmeier and Borges:
"We have to know a lot more this year. We have to know what lineman do on every play, who the back blocks on every play so we know who our (hot routes) are; stuff like that. It's definitely helping us out and making us more aware of the defense."
Morris, who completed 5-of-11 passes for 73 yards on Saturday, summed up the changes as "having to study defenses more" and knowing "the ins and outs of every play."
As long as there is less stuff this can work out, and it sounds like there's less stuff. Hopefully more stuff than Morris claims, though:
What's hoped for is improvement via simplification. Under Borges, the Wolverines struggled in an intricate, extensive offense.
Nussmeier's offense is the converse.
"That's how every coach should be," Morris said. "The stuff we run, we want to be perfect. I think Vince Lombardi, when he was coaching the Packers, they ran about three plays, but they ran them perfectly. That's why they won. That's what we're trying to do this year."
I want my amount of stuff porridge to be just right. Last year was too hot, and that would be too cold. But after last year we might have to settle for dully banging face for uninspiring yardage.
/rolls eyes, makes wanking gesture. If that's bolded I must be talking about Jason Whitlock.
"I'm not a big Shane Morris guy, Devin Gardner struggles during adversity," Whitlock said. "Devin Gardner handles adversity worse than others, in my opinion. …
"I don't want to beat the kid up, but that play against Michigan State when he's one yard away from a first down and he fell down," Whitlock recalled. "When you're a competitor and the leader of the team, that doesn't happen."
…which is probably why he threw for 451 yards on a broken foot against Ohio State. We could extrapolate from one play on which he made a mental error, or we could look at a season in which he was massacred weekly and still came out until—in fact after—his body literally would not let him.
It's a miracle Whitlock's made it as far as he has in the world without ever being even on the same planet as correctness.
Okay? Jeff Goodman flings Caris LeVert on his Way Too Early First-Team All-American list($). There's not much content and Goodman claims LeVert is a "terrific defender," which he's not yet…
G Caris LeVert, 6-6, Jr., Michigan
Stats: 12.9 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 2.9 apg
Nik Stauskas made the huge jump last season, and look for LeVert to do it next year. He's long, can score in a variety of ways and is also a terrific defender.
…but we have officially reached the point where people in the media point at a random Michigan player and expect him to morph into a beast because John Beilein. Michigan's actually got three candidates to make this morph—LeVert, Walton, and Irvin—who are sorta kinda making freshman to sophomore leaps. (LeVert is not but is very young for his grade.)
Yes please. The Northwestern union ruling is far from final but if things go like it looks like they're going to go—every time the NCAA runs up a judge these days the judge goes LOL NO—major changes are coming. If it does go the CAPA route, things will get interesting because public schools are going to be beholden to state law, not the NLRB. Ohio seeks to disadvantage itself:
COLUMBUS, Ohio — College athletes in Ohio would not be considered employees under state law, under changes to the state’s budget review made by a legislative committee on Monday.
Michigan, meanwhile, has what I'm pretty sure are strong grad student and lecturer unions. They are emphatically extant, at the least. It'll probably take Ohio one look at the stuff Michigan is handing their athletes to reverse course here, but never underestimate human stupidity.
Why bother with an early signing period? The entire concept of the "signing period" is uselessly anachronistic, but people keep trying to fix it by introducing early signing or late signing or whatever. Bylaw Blog's John Infante is the latest:
An early signing period should be in early December. It should be as close to the end of the regular season as possible to minimize the effect on bowl preparation. That means the Wednesday after conference championship games are played. This is one week earlier than the current initial signing date for midyear junior college transfers. The signing period would be open for one week; it would include prospects enrolling that January and the following fall.
There's no reason to have a signing day at all, but it's now a TV event so it will persist forever and ever amen. There is a way to both ease the burden on coaches and players who have come to an agreement: provide a non-binding letter of intent. Players can sign it at any time and withdraw it at any time. Once they sign it other coaches can't contact them and they can't take officials except to the school they signed with. They have to make it official on signing day.
That system would provide players a way to opt out of the recruiting process whenever they wanted without locking them in if their coach gets whacked. Importantly for its chances of passage, it reduces workload for coaches, who no longer have to babysit their commits so hard and have a more limited range of poaching options.
People are just in charge of things, part LXVII. You may remember Rutgers AD Julie Hermann from such events as "it is revealed that Rutgers, reeling from a scandal in which it was revealed that their basketball coach was a violent psychopath, hires person claimed to be violent psychopath by former players, then experiences mass football decommitment spree after football coach is claimed to be violent psychopath." And then nothing else because Rutgers.
Hermann is now back in the news, which can't be good.
“If they’re not writing headlines that are getting our attention, they’re not selling ads – and they die,” Hermann told the Media Ethics and Law class. “And the Ledger almost died in June, right?”
“They might die again next month,” a student said.
“That would be great,” she replied. “I’m going to do all I can to not give them a headline to keep them alive.”
Good job, good effort, Hermann.
I'd say the stink of Rutgers would harm the image of the Big Ten, but… hey, yeah we're a basketball conference now. The stink of Rutgers will harm the image of the Big Ten.
AND STAY OUT. The greatest collapse in NBA GM history is complete, as Joe Dumars will resign after creating the unlikeliest NBA champion in recent history, a team that was a bounce or two away from a second title. Then he traded Chauncey Billups for a broken-down Allen Iverson and spent the money saved on Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva, at which point it was over.
Eventually Dumars started making decisions seemingly to spite Pistons fans; aside from the fortune of having a franchise center slide to him in the draft there is literally no good thing Dumars has done since he broke bad with Iverson. The Pistons have been stuck in NBA purgatory, never any good but never bad enough to secure one of the top picks in the draft. This year's desperate attempt to get into the playoffs secured them the worst three point shooter in NBA history on a team with two promising young bigs. And of course, Trey Burke. Though Burke's not shooting well this year the difference made by his presence in Utah's lineup is obvious in their record. The guy Dumars picked over him picked up three consecutive trillions.
But you know what they always say: when you can draft a guy who dragged his team to a .500 SEC record you gotta do it.
Anyway, Dumars dug his own grave and I'm mad at him for… uh… being the dumbest person. But at one point he was a genius, so thanks for that.
No he's not facepalming; he just can't see. [monuMental's classic]
Once more under the lights, dear friends. To the surprise of exactly nobody the final Michigan-Notre Dame meeting will be at night. Via MGoBlue:
The University of Michigan football team will face Notre Dame in a night game for the fourth consecutive season. Notre Dame and NBC Sports announced Thursday (Feb. 20) the Wolverines and Fighting Irish will play at 7:30 p.m. EDT on Saturday, Sept. 6, at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Ind.
The primetime game will be televised nationally on NBC, and is the last scheduled meeting between the two rivals.
I don't think we can avoid it: we're going to have to have an official MGoBlog tailgate now. Yes, probably with at least one former player. Yes, I've been talking to Jared.
Committed tailgaters (and people with incomes tied to ratings) are asked to do their rejoicing away from the MGoshutterbugs, since it's ND's policy to make the away team's photographers stand on the sideline opposite the press box and shoot directly into the lights.
Upchurch—let it not be said I'm looking out for you man.
The helmets are made extra shiny for maximum glare.
Here is a section of the press release:
Michigan to Face Notre Dame in Primetime, Honor Tom Harmon as Michigan Football Legend
Ann Arbor, Mich. – The University of Michigan football team will face the University of Notre Dame in a nationally-televised primetime game at Michigan Stadium, it was announced Tuesday (Dec. 11) in a joint announcement with ESPN. The athletic department will honor 1940 Heisman Trophy winner Tom Harmon, installing him as a Michigan Football Legend during a pre-game ceremony.
“Our athletic department is looking forward to recreating the night game magic from two years ago,” said Dave Brandon, the Donald R. Shepherd Director of Athletics. “We have more in store for this game than the initial night game and will work hard to create many WOW moments. One of those magical moments will be the honoring of Tom Harmon. He is one of the greatest athletes in school history and we are excited to celebrate all that he accomplished at Michigan. Having Tom’s ‘Old 98’ back on the field will be special. This will be a memorable evening for everyone at Michigan Stadium or watching the game on TV. This will be the final match-up with Notre Dame at the Big House for the foreseeable future.”
Rumor is they will retroactively change Denard's number to 98.
A couple of not-very-important bits of information I've gotten from sources I consider reliable follow.
the last one ended well
Night night night night. I'm hearing next year's game at Notre Dame will be at night. Given Michigan's stated desire for a night game per year and the Big Ten's prohibition against having them in November, we could see a large number of M-ND matchups from here on out in primetime.
Maize is not BRIGHT BRIGHT yellow.
An increased focus on making things look reasonable. A reader who would know and I trust when talking about these matters tells me the athletic department is placing an increased focus on making maize actually, you know, maize.
This comes after years of increasing highlighter-yellow creep. Anyone who's surveyed a student section and been able to pick out the 10% who still wear shirts that would not blind a donkey knows how alarming the color drift has become in recent years.
This will "take years to happen." Even so, it's a welcome development. Uniform guru Steve Sapardanis liked the brighter yellow last August, FWIW. I prefer the darker shade.
BONUS: If you care and know what the Pantone colors are, they are Blue 282 and Maize 116. If someone can convert those into hexadecimal I will move the primary colors here to Officially Official colors until such point as copyright-drunk lawyers sue me. I confess that I eyeballed them way back when.
[Note for superheroes with the power of pedantry: there will have to be a few different shades of whatever I use for internet purposes.]