the just released schedules were a flat-out statement that the B10 doesn't believe SOS will matter in playoff selection
Most Beilein quote ever. This MLive piece starts with the promise of a 'knock down, drag out party' celebrated by John Beilein in the aftermath of his team advancing to the Sweet 16. This invites questions about what Beilein considers a rager. Questions: answered.
"the (grandchildren) came over, we had a heck of a party -- pizza and chicken wings, it was crazy over there. … It was Patrick's (birthday on Sunday), we had subs. It was crazy."
I've been laughing at "We had subs, it was crazy" for 15 solid minutes.
WE HAD SUBS
IT WAS CRAZY
i can't breathe
I love this man.
I wish this was more relevant, but it's still a good counterpoint to Brady Hoke's lovely boringness. An already-thin 2012 Notre Dame recruiting class has been veritably gutted over the past few weeks, what with Gunner Kiel, Davonte Neal, and Justin Ferguson heading out of Dodge for various reasons ranging from insufficient chest to excessive baby to whatever Justin Ferguson has going on.
With Tee Shepard's instaflee last spring that hacks out the top four recruits from a 17-member class, something that might be useful if Michigan were to play any of these dinguses as upperclassmen—dollars to donuts Michigan buys out the 2014 game at the last second out of spite.
In any case, Neal's departure gave ESPN cause to recount his bizarre recruiting story:
The Chaparral (Ariz.) High School product waited until 20 days after national signing day to announce his college decision, setting up a morning ceremony at his former elementary school, Kyrene de la Esperanza.
With 600 schoolchildren, friends and family members on hand for the Feb. 21, 2012, announcement, Neal did not show. He made his announcement several hours later in front of a handful of reporters.
Six days later, Neal withdrew from Chaparral and enrolled at Phoenix Central.
In a universe where Michigan was in on this kid's recruitment:
NEAL: [describes setup]
HOKE: You want to do what?
NEAL: [re-describes setup, mentions he's not even going to show]
HOKE: You are under the mistaken impression that we are Tom Haverford. We are Ron Swanson. Enjoy wherever it is you end up, and wherever you end up after that, and wherever you end up after that. Send me your travel memoir.
/eats bacon-wrapped turkey leg
Q: Who is the most Swanson? RELATED THING I JUST THOUGHT OF: Brady Hoke has a quality claim to the throne of Most Swanson College Football Coach. Bronco Mendenhall is a contender solely because he is named Bronco, but with Pat Hill and Danny Hope trolling unemployment lines the mustache category is all but moot. Bacon, libertarianism, temperature endurance… a case can be made for Hoke. In retrospect it's surprising that there has not been a Parks and Recreation episode in which a shirt-sleeved Swanson scorns his coworkers during a brutal Pawnee Winterfest blizzard.
I mean, I'm srlsly. From the Pyramid of Greatness:
“Fish, for sport only, not for meat. Fish meat is practically a vegetable.”
“Honor: if you need it defined, you don’t have it.”
"Buffets: Whenever available. Choose quantity over quality."
"Torso: should be thick and impenetrable."
"Frankness: cut the BS"
I'm having difficulty envisioning potential competitors. Orson immediately thought Schnellenberg, who would be a landslide winner if he was still coaching. The only other guy we came up with was Paul Johnson, and while Johnson bests Hoke in certain categories (lack of GAF, old-timeyness, hair helmet) Hoke wins meat hands down.
Oh hello Cincinnati. By 2017 the Bearcats may be a glorified MAC team in a glorified CUSA, but it's still a more interesting matchup than a game against East Nowhere, and Michigan has acquired it for the not-that-princely sum of 1.2 million dollars, and they probably had to throw in a basketball home and home, but I like the idea of that home and home so bully for scheduling.
The UC game continues a new trend in M (and to a somewhat lesser extent OSU) nonconference scheduling where they move past the MAC teams and just buy games against Real Opponents. Michigan's lined up Colorado, Oregon State, and now Cincinnati without offering anything other than cold hard cash. In this case the cash isn't even much more than the going rate for a MAC game—nearing one million dollars at last check. The economics have changed to the point where I expect Michigan will have a one-off home game against a low-level power conference opponent annually.
I WANT TO BELIEVE. Frank Clark has not done all that much so far at Michigan other than get completely lost on basic zone reads and that one fluke interception in the Sugar Bowl, but he's frigging huge now and people are saying mean things about him:
Frank Clark called the 'F'-word, emerges as leader to enter Michigan starting lineup
I feel this is a good thing even if they're not breaking out the swearing. They are apparently not doing so.
Michigan offensive tackles Taylor Lewan and Michael Schofield combine for five years of starting experience. They've seen a lot of football, and can judge talent as well as anyone.
And both, asked open-endedly which defensive lineman provides the most difficult matchup in practice, offered the same answer: Frank Clark.
"He’s just so quick. He’s got such a quick step, it's hard to handle him. He's a freak," said Schofield, who wasn't the only Michigan player to invoke the F-word.
Added senior defensive lineman Jibreel Black: "Ever since Frank came in here, he's been a freak athlete. It's just a matter of putting it all together."
Yo man let's cut back on the freak talk until the dude accumulates some of those play-type things, but here's hoping. If Clark busts out that'll mitigate a lot of the issues that crop up without Jake Ryan.
Elsewhere in I WANT TO BELIEVE, Michigan is "raving" about Jehu Chesson and Amara Darboh:
Jehu, in one-on-ones, he’s just flying by people with his speed," Gallon said. "Doing all these amazing things. You can tell he’s learning."
Both are built more in the mold that coordinator Al Borges desires for his pro-style offense: Tall, long and capable of stretching the field.
"Those two have demonstrated in the first few days that they have some big-play ability," Borges said. "They've won a few jump balls -- lost a few, but we haven't lost them all.
"Both of them have really good straight-line speed, particularly Jehu. Amara is fast, too. Amara is feel-fast -- probably more feel-fast than he is time-fast. His time isn't terrible, either."
Well, that's odd. Rothstein has an article about the transition from tackle to guard that quotes Steve Schilling on the challenges:
“When you get in the NFL, you almost have to be able to play, unless you’re a starter, you have to be able to play guard and tackle on both sides and a lot of times center also if you want to make it as a backup on the team,” said former Michigan lineman Stephen Schilling, who played both guard and tackle. “For me, the switch from tackle to guard wasn’t as much as if you were playing the right side the whole time and you switch to left, because you muscle memory gets so used to doing things one way and you have to flip it.”
Schilling was on the right his entire career at Michigan. The Hoke regime, meanwhile, has elected to move projected RT Mike Schofield to LG and back and is repeating that progression with Ben Braden. This may be a zone versus power thing: Schilling probably didn't pull more than a handful of times during his playing career. Michigan went to an all-zone system in Carr's last two years; while Rodriguez was considerably less monomaniacal than Mike DeBord, pulling was still a rare occurrence.
Man, everybody is on our jock now. CBS's Matt Norlander previews the South Regional:
Rank the remaining four teams:
4) Florida Gulf Coast
Why Michigan will be going to Atlanta ... The Wolverines now have the second-best offense in the nation, scoring 120.9 points per 100 possessions, that number adjusted for tempo. It's really good, second only to Indiana. The Burke factor is huge. I am a sucker for really, undeniably good point guards at this time of the year. Burke doesn't make mistakes as often as Aaron Craft and he's got a better set of tools on his hip than Shane Larkin or Peyton Siva. He'll be huge. …. Overall, the team has as much balance and weaponry as anyone in this tournament. Play a little D, and Atlanta will be the next stop.
That last bit is kind of an issue. He also talks up Stauskas—a bit, anyway. I expect Stauskas to do little against the Jayhawks. While he is Not Just A Shooter™, his midrange game is extremely clunky right now and he won't have a size advantage over the guy checking him. This is a bad matchup for him.
The Michigan chatter has gotten to the point where Bill Self's getting asked about it. Being the sexy upset pick makes me nervous.
It's too bad there is no available solution for this. You may not have noticed but this year's NCAA tourney is heavily regionalized. It's hard to get incensed about this when the pairwise has so much jitter that Notre Dame could have been either a one seed or out of the tournament going into the CCHA championship weekend, but if you're looking for this…
Over the past year, the people that oversee ice hockey within the NCAA, has changed. Last April, Mark Lewis was named "executive vice president for championships and alliances." …
Lewis, among other things, set out to address issues with declining attendance across all NCAA events. Obviously, attendance is relative, but even in men's basketball, there have been more empty seats than there have been in decades.
Essentially, under Lewis, the message coming through is of an emphasis on maximizing attendance at the events. And it's under that atmosphere — whether directly or indirectly — that the men's ice hockey committee operated this year.
…I have one or two ideas about how to make this happen. One: don't put regionals in St. Louis, you twits. Two: home sites for top seeds, you twits. If you decide not to do this, put one (one) regional in or around Michigan every year instead of zero most years and two this one time.
Scoop Jackson still exists! Remember when everyone was so mad about him? Things have changed a lot since then. I know it's not cool to be happy people get fired, but can we make an exception for David Whitley? Not so awesome: congratulations on the soccer story of the year, Brian Straus! Your prize is this letter about COBRA benefits. : (
3/23/2013 – Michigan 6, Miami 2 – 18-18-3, reach CCHA final
3/24/2013 – Michigan 1, Notre Dame 3 – 18-19-3, season over, tourney streak over
In the end they were nowhere near good enough.
If you've followed Michigan hockey for a long period of time, you can point to a tourney game here or there Sunday's CCHA final against the Irish reminded you of. Smash together:
- that Maine game where a moment of brilliance from Mike Comrie couldn't cover up his short-handed defense's failing legs with…
- that Boston College game Michigan inexplicably led for most of that was over the moment the Eagles tied it after a nine-minute stretch without stoppages and…
- that North Dakota game when Michigan couldn't get out of its own zone but scratched out a shorthanded goal and made it stand up and…
…you get that Notre Dame game.
You know the general outline even if you have no idea what I'm talking about above. If it was soccer the announcers would instantly announce your goal as "against the run of play." Overwhelmed in the corners, fortunate to be in the game, goalie's arm hanging out over the abyss as he screams "DON'T. LET. GO." Fingers sweating, grip slipping, eyes widening, waiting for the buzzer or death.
I don't know about you but as soon as Notre Dame tied it, I was waiting for the end. Michigan had hardly put together a scoring chance. Notre Dame did them a favor by scoring early in the third and dialing back the throttle. At that point shots were 31-10, scoring chances at least that lopsided. By sitting back Notre Dame allowed Michigan to get a better handle on the game, but with 19:30 left I thought "Michigan will have two chances to tie it" and that was all they got.
Notre Dame ate Michigan's lunch. They took one penalty and gave up no odd-man rushes save the shorthanded goal. They won battles in the corner at a 3 to 1 rate. Michigan couldn't put together a rush for ten-minute blocks of time. Over the previous month they'd put something together and run roughshod over all comers, but finally they met a horse they couldn't catch up to. All that stuff Michigan did over their last ten games Notre Dame had been doing all year.
That's how a 21-year tourney streak ends: with Notre Dame showing men of will what will really is.
In the aftermath the word of the day is "redeem."
By the bitter end, Michigan hockey redeemed itself
NCAA streak ends, but Wolverines made Michigan proud
Michigan put themselves in this position with 2/3rds of a season of miserable, unwatchable hockey, and did not dig themselves out. Without the vagaries of single-game playoff hockey they would not have even come close in the end. They were 0-5 against the Irish this year, bombed in every game. Michigan was about as far away from winning that Notre Dame game as they were from getting an at large bid. They had a chance, and found out that running to catch up with someone who had been trying hard from day one isn't easy.
They got what they deserved. A team with as many NHL draft picks as anyone in the country was reduced to a "Cinderella run" in the CCHA playoffs. Divided, they lost game after game to sheer apathy. It got so bad Red tried the put-in-the-third-string-walk-on trick again. Hunwick's first team responded by flying through the slot to clear pucks like demons. This edition lost 4-0 to Michigan Tech and 5-1 to Bowling Green, the nadir. That listless debacle against Bowling Green is this season. What they did at the end was a preview of next year.
It's great that Andrew Copp emerged to take the team by the scruff of its neck and jam it towards an NCAA bid whether it wanted one or not, great that Steve Racine emerged into a viable starter once his defense ceased selling him out a dozen times a game, great that Guptill went from a wake-up scratch to pounding, skating power forward. The fact that this could happen is a ringing condemnation of the upperclassmen. By midseason the guys flanking Treais on the top line were Copp and Sinelli; by the end of the season Copp, a freshman no one had heard of before the year, was the undisputed leader of the forward corps. Because he tried real hard, full stop. This made him unique.
His leadership and the rest of the locker room pulling together is reason for hope. Lessons have clearly been learned, and if this year doesn't show the players the route to success goes through Jeff Jackson's relentless discipline, I'll be surprised.
But it doesn't redeem a damn thing. The preseason #2 team in the country finished under .500 and missed the tournament for the first time in 22 years. There is only one word for that: failure. The scarlet F is branded in this team. The only way up is to own that. Some of them have time to redeem themselves yet; that process starts now.
Michigan loses Moffie, Treais, Sparks, Rohrkemper, and Lynch the Elder to graduation. The early word on departures from Mike Spath at the Wolverine is as such:
- OUT: Kevin Clare, revealed to be indefinitely suspended as much as he was injured and implicated as a Problem, and—sigh—star-crossed Jon Merrill.
- FENCE: Trouba is declared 60-40 to return—an opinion more or less shared by Dave Starman. At least we will know quickly—he's expected to make a decision in a couple days.
- BACK (EXCEPT ONE OF THESE GUYS WILL NOT BE BACK BECAUSE THIS IS MICHIGAN HOCKEY): The three forwards likely to have NHL options are Guptill, Di Giuseppe, and Nieves. Spath projects all to be back, though Guptill "clashed" with the coaches earlier in the year—he was left at home for one series, IIRC. Mac Bennett is projected to return and wear the C.
Just looking at playing time, a couple other guys may also head for greener pastures. There's Rutledge, of course, who turned in an .856 and watched Racine establish a death grip on the job over the last ten games of the season. If he wants to play, a return to the USHL and transfer to a smaller school is probably the only way. Then there's Mike Chiasson, who was an apparently-healthy scratch for the ten-game run. Mike Szuma played in his stead; against Notre Dame Michigan refused to ice a sixth defenseman entirely. I don't think any of the recruits are threats to not show but never say never, mmm, Connor Carrick?
If Michigan does get Trouba back and somehow evades the inevitable unexpected departure, here's a hypothetical line chart:
- Di Giuseppe-Nieves-DeBlois
(Also: Kile, Sinelli, Cianfrone, Random New Walk-on who might be Max Shuart.)
- Bennett-De Jong
(Also: Szuma and probably Kevin Lohan, possibly Spencer Hyman.)
Michigan can sustain a forward departure without much dropoff. The guys I've projected as scratches are all capable of emerging into quality players. Sinelli gave Michigan good minutes late this year. Kile is a year older than the NTDP guys and has better than PPG with one of the USHL's best teams. While Cianfrone has struggled in the USHL, before that he was a midget minor demon and projected first-round OHL draft pick who still went in the third round despite telling teams he was headed to Michigan. Drawing one of those guys into the lineup will be fine. Only Shuart (who left his USHL club for the NAHL) looks particularly unlikely to be a contributor next year.
On defense, they need Trouba back badly. That third pairing is pretty sketch as it is, featuring one of two guys Michigan simply refused to ice against ND plus Serville, who still gives me hives quite a bit. The top two pairings feature two freshmen. There's not nearly as much confidence that any of the backup plans will come through. Lohan is a 6'5" late bloomer; Hyman is a guy who's piled up a lot of time in junior and seems like a third pairing type. If Trouba's gone Michigan is down to one solid pair and hope.
Copp will get an A, for sure, and then DeBlois seems like the most likely other captain. That lineup has no seniors save projected C Bennett and Luke Moffatt, who has never seemed like captain material. Juniors include Lynch, Hyman, Chiasson, and Serville. I could see Hyman getting a call, but DeBlois was on the top line while he toiled on the fourth.
I've been a little out of it the last few days. Not enough to not see every Manti Te'o fake dead girlfriend joke in the world come through my twitter feed, but out of it, more given to trying to keep various fluids in my nose than trying to figure out any deep takeaways from the fact that Notre Dame's star player had a fake internet girlfriend who fake internet died.
I had to get one in a hurry when I went on WTKA this morning, because everyone in the world is talking about it—I hopped into a minimart to grab something to eat and it was on, like, CNN. CNN 2012 is to CNN 1994 as TLC 2012 is to TLC 1994…
…but it's a big deal when your fake girlfriend turns out dead, I guess. So the brain went and processed and came out with these things.
THIS IS NOT SURPRISING, PART I. We are talking about a Mormon guy from Hawaii who turned down USC to attend a Catholic school in South Bend, Indiana, that had not ever been remotely competitive in a BCS game because of… nice grass or something. A mural on a building. Whatever causes people to go to Notre Dame minus the "I'm Catholic" angle. He left Hawaii for South Bend, Indiana. Clearly this is a gullible man.
THIS IS NOT SURPRISING, PART II. What percentage of massively credulous undergraduate population of Notre Dame do you think has an internet girlfriend? All of them. Every last person participating in the annual Dillon Hall tickle fight has an internet girlfriend they have never met.
She is a princess from Sub-Saharan Africa currently in boarding school, and she doesn't care that by even communicating with Wallace Anglerson The Third she risks her inheritance—her very place in society—as long as you keep talking about how bad the last season of Battlestar Galactica was. It's love. Her name is "Angel," except in one of those clicky languages. Here is a picture of her.
Te'o would tell his friends about his internet girlfriend, and they would say "my internet girlfriend is hotter." Jimmy Clausen had two, the cad. Six weeks after graduation it gradually dawns on them that some of the men they hung out with were actually girls.
It would be weird if Manti Te'o didn't have a fake internet girlfriend hailing from somewhere far away from South Bend. If Notre Dame's nickname had been updated to reflect changes in student demographics they would be the Fightin' Lonely Credulous Nerds.
THIS IS NOT SURPRISING, PART III. As Jonathan Chait points out, it wouldn't be an inspiring story about a Notre Dame hero if it wasn't fiction:
Fake, schmaltzy inspirational tales are the essence of the culture of the program. The inspirational story of Knute Rockne and his dying player, George Gipp, became a famous movie that helped enshrine Notre Dame football in the culture. In reality, Rockne was an ethically dubious sports gambler, Gipp a pool hustler, and the main events of the story — Gipp’s dying wish to “win one for the Gipper,” Rockne’s inspirational halftime speech —never happened.
Likewise, Rudy is the inspirational story of a walk-on who overcame the odds to play football at Notre Dame, but the story is also filled with falsehoods. Rudy, by the way, turned out to be a stock scammer.
The only thing that's strange about this is that Te'o's grandmother is not only hale and hearty today but also manipulating Vegas lines with his grandson's collusion.
THIS IS NOT SURPRISING, PART IV… ACTUALLY THIS IS A LITTLE SURPRISING. For a while now Deadspin has been a weird mélange of athlete dong pics, Drew Magary trying to one-up himself until his columns are just lists of insults followed by exclamation points, and the best dang investigative journalism around*. (They've cut down on the wantonly-screwing-people-no-one's-ever-heard-of-in-a-petulant-fit since the departure of AJ Daulerio.)
The best example: A couple years ago Tommy Craggs published internal MLB financial documents that revealed small market teams—including the Marlins, recipients of a new publicly-funded stadium—were simply pocketing revenue-sharing money instead of using it to improve the product they put in front of their fans. This pissed MLB off so much they tried to sue the insurance company they came from to find the person who leaked the documents so they could sue him. When's the last time something a newspaper wrote caused a major league to go on a suing vendetta? I can't recall.
Anyway, the jarring thing is this story comes immediately after the baseball writers refused to vote anyone into the hall of fame for using the PEDs they studiously ignored for a decade. Meanwhile the following Legitimate Media Organizations ran with Te'o's Fake Dead Girlfriend:
2. You (Jack Dickey and Timothy Burke excepted)
7. The Chicago Tribune
8. The Chicago Sun-Times
9. The Sporting News
10. USA Today
11. The Boston Globe
12. CBS Sports
13. The New York Post
16. The Associated Press
17. The Palm Beach Post
18. The Miami Herald
19. The Tampa Bay Times
21. The Los Angeles Times
Go home newspapers, you're drunk.
If you're not going to call, to confirm, to make sure someone actually exists, what do you have left? If Deadspin has you beat on the low end and the high end, what is your purpose?
“Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations.”
Remember when writers at regional Iowa papers looked down their nose at bloggers and their unverified voracity?
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]
I don't either. Long time ago, in a different media place. The only people still pretending sportswriters aren't PR are the baseball writers, long may they stew in their curly-haired uselessness.
I have met my wife.
*[With apologies to Charles Robinson.]
it worked out okay for everyone in the end
Position battles: exciting instead of terrifying?
Way too early 2013 depth charts are beginning to pop-up. It’s looking like the battle at linebacker this year will be a good one (and both lines in future years). What was the last position battle that got you excited? 2 plus players going for one spot or, like the LBs, 3 plus players going for 2 spots. There have been positional battles the last few years, but those have been between average, at best, players.
Mike in Ohio
I'm not sure if excited is the right word, but the last position battle I remember being pretty "whatever" about was Henne vs Richard vs Gutierrez at QB in 2004. In some order those were the #3, #4, and #5 QBs in their respective years, so I figured Michigan was going to be just fine no matter who ended up starting.
The Gutierrez injury threw that all out of whack, of course, and we had Henne starting as a freshman, but he had Braylon to throw to so that worked out just fine.
It's tough to remember any others. The age of roster hyper-awareness was just dawning in 2004*, and Michigan hasn't exactly had an embarrassment of riches since. The linebackers this year should be a preview of coming years when Michigan is choosing between something like Wormley/Hurst/Poggi/Godin at three-tech and I'm all like "confidence, it is something I have."
*[I remember Tim Biakabutuka's first carries of Michigan being met with general merriment at his last name. If that happened now, the extent to which it did would be greatly reduced since about 40% of the people in the stadium would be like "four star recruit out of Canada, tailback, 6'0", born in Zaire, did well at Army Bowl. BOOM KIPER'D."]
obligatory (The Wolverine/Tim Sullivan)
With Taylor Lewan returning for his 5th year, I've read quite a few message board commenters suggesting that Schofield move back to LG and Braden or Magnuson take over at RT.
My question is this: for sheer upside, wouldn't it make more sense to move Braden inside for 2013 than Schofield? Just looking at their body types, it seems to me that Braden is more suited to the power run blocking Michigan needs than Schofield is. I'd enjoy your perspective on what you would like to see happen with the OL and what you think will actually happen with the OL.
Thanks, and Go Blue!
It depends more on Braden's ability to pull than anything else. We've had some indication that Schofield is capable of it despite his tackle-like size, since he played guard effectively and Michigan spent chunks of the year pulling tackles on that sprint counter and an occasional sweep. In the event that Braden forces his way into the lineup, is he going to have that same ability? I don't know.
A point in your favor: with Lewan back Michigan gets plenty of power run blocking from one of their tackles. They can probably afford to have a non-devastating drive blocker at RT if he brings more pass protection to the table, and Schofield does bring a lot of pass pro. Remember that both of South Carolina's defensive ends are damn good and neither did that much in the bowl when they weren't ending Vincent Smith on a busted stunt pickup. By the end of the year, Schofield was pretty good.
What I think will happen and what I'd like to see happen are the same, and it's basically the five-guy lineup I posted yesterday: Lewan-Kalis-Miller-InsertGuardHere-Schofield. I assume Kalis and Miller are locks (though if you heard my segment on WTKA yesterday you heard Sam Webb rhapsodize about Patrick Kugler's ability to start early). The fifth guy is up in the air; I would prefer that guy to be a guard simply because it provides less uncertainty, and I worry less about guards getting the QB murdered.
As I'm sure we all were, I was quite pleasantly surprised by Lewan's decision to return next year. However, it seems like all non-Michigan sources (and I'm not talking about rival fan sites like 11W) have done nothing but trash his decision. Analysts at ESPN, some of the pay sites, Yahoo and others have all said he's making a terrible decision...given the insurance policy he will take out and other factors, what gives? Many of the sources are saying there's much more risk than Jake Long took, but given the new rookie pay scale, I actually think there's less. What say you?
Lewan didn't come back because it was the most profitable thing to do, so analyses of whether it's the most profitable thing to do miss the point. They do so very badly, so badly that I assume Darren Rovell has been cloned a thousand times and sent to draft chattering class.
Anyone trashing the decision doesn't understand that there things other than money that might be important.
"You'll never play for a team again. You'll play for a contract."
It's a risk. But it's an opportunity as well.
but but but oversigning
Throughout the lead-up and aftermath of the BCS National Championship Game, we have been subject to overwhelming Bama praise. “How much better are they than everybody else?” “Is this a dynasty?” “How many years until Michigan can compete on that level?” My constant mental response to this is: but, but, but…OVERSIGNING!
The morning following the Bama beatdown, there was an interesting blogger exchange on Twitter. Basically, a B1G blogger alludes to oversigning as a competitive advantage, then an SEC blogger trivializes oversigning’s competitive impact. Looking back, I see our friend Ramzy once called oversigning an “almost insurmountable competitive advantage.”
What say you? Are B1G fans making too much of oversigning by using it as an excuse for its poor brand of football? Are SEC fans ignoring it in order to maximize pride in their conference? What’s the best quantitative analysis out there that attempts to truly measure the impact?
It's an advantage, but it's only a small part of the reason that the Big Ten has fallen behind the college football world. Florida and Georgia don't do it, and they have been okay at playing football recently. Ole Miss seems to do nothing but, and they suck every year.
- Sucky management of the Big Ten's elite programs. Michigan has been wobbly at best since 2006 largely due to coaching and the program's remarkable ability to punch itself in the face. Penn State was operating essentially without a head coach for the past decade and has now been nuked by the NCAA. Ohio State has largely escaped these doldrums but was stripped of various key players last year en route to a .500 season and banned from postseason play this year. No other Big Ten team can really pick up the slack, except somewhat Nebraska, and this is only the second year they've been in the league. Of course the league is going to be bad when OSU and PSU can't play in bowl games and Michigan's sixth offensive lineman is a walk-on.
- Talent distribution. Not sure this is a huge-huge factor in the Big Ten's sudden decline since demographic trends are very gradual, but population shifts aren't helping. Notice that the powerhouse basketball conference is hugely dependent on basketball-mad Indiana. You have the in-state schools, of course, and then the best player on OSU (Thomas) and second-best on MSU (Gary Harris, and he may be better than Appling) are from Indiana along with the backbone of Michigan's resurgence—Novak, Douglass, Robinson, Albrecht, and incoming Irvin and Donnal. Michigan has one player from outside the Big Ten footprint—Hardaway. Indiana is the Florida of high school basketball. Wisconsin is a great program… for a bunch of guys from Wisconsin and Ohio leftovers.
- Sucky management of every Big Ten program. Bielema flees Wisconsin for an SEC also-ran. Why? I guess more resources. What's the difference between Wisconsin and Arkansas's revenue? Zero. Tim Brewster. Danny Hope. Ron Zook. Tim Beckman. Purdue just hired Darrell Hazell, a guy with two years of MAC head coaching experience. Again, compare that to basketball hires: Crean, Beilein, Tubby, and Matta had all run programs that established themselves perennial ranked teams in major conferences before getting snapped up by the Big Ten. That's not happening in football. Instead Bielema gets sucked away.
- Yeah, oversigning and whatnot. "Whatnot" == jamming a kid full of fake classes to get him eligible and keeping him eligible with the Tarheel curriculum. JUCOs and such. It's a factor. How much? It's not nearly as big a deal as the first bullet here.
That's good news. If Michigan can recruit at a level with Georgia and Florida and Stanford, they can play at that level. That's probably not enough to go up against an all-time dynasty like Alabama that cuts ALL THE CORNERS, but those things collapse eventually, and they can compete with just about anything else.
My thing with oversigning is not that it explains the gap between the conferences, but rather it's the ultimate dick move and should be stopped if the NCAA wants to consider themselves a snow-white organization with pure motives. The Big Ten has plenty of problems, most of which stem from the leadership of the conference (leaders and legends) and trickle their incompetence down from there.
I'm not even sure how you would be able to quantify the impact. But the fix is so, so easy: remove scholarship caps in favor of per-year caps. Move from a system that encourages attrition to keep costs down to one that isn't about athletes going pro in transferring to Kenesaw State.
Notre Dame == Michigan?
Is there any validity to an assertion that Michigan and Notre Dame were basically the same teams this year but for Notre Dame has an offensive coordinator that knows the spread and how to use a spread qb?
No. Notre Dame's defense was a significant cut above Michigan's until it got eviscerated by the Tide, and remains so: 7th in total D, second in scoring D. While their secondary was not good, neither was Michigan's, and while Michigan's front seven was surprisingly capable, Notre Dame's contains many highly touted recruits on their way to long NFL careers.
ND's offense was only slightly better than Michigan's. Moreover, it was much different. Gholson had just under 300 rushing yards on the year. It's a passing spread that keeps a little bit of QB run threat involved; it's not a spread 'n' shred. I could have given you partial credit if you'd said "an offensive coordinator more comfortable with his personnel," but again the ND line was nowhere near as problematic as Michigan's. Mark it zero, dude.
Now that Kovacs has graduated, we need a new #11. I say we give it to Desmond Morgan. That would leave us without somebody for #48, but the problem could be solved by giving BOTH numbers to Morgan. He could wear 11 on the front side and 48 on the back, or possibly reverse the order week to week.
This violates NCAA rules, you say? I have thought this objection through. The answer is to give him a special jersey where the numbers are the same color as the rest of the jersey -- dark blue numerals at home, white numerals on the road -- so the number is completely invisible. The officials will never find out.
Never let it be said that the Outback Bowl jerseys were a bad thing if ideas like this flow freely after seeing them.
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.
[NOTE: in transit to DC today for Q&A thing Thursday, so light day from me.]
We need some elephants with adamantium blades coming from their hands. This exists:
The enemy of my enemy is my friend, and I need some lambchop-possessing awful cartoon unholy wolverine-elephant combinations stat.
On your TV! Black and Blue, the Willis Ward documentary, will be on your television if you're in Detroit. Channel 7, 1 PM, Saturday. Yes, this is unfortunately timed with the Arkansas basketball game overlapping. Set your DVRs.
Where many coaches just show up from the MAC. The Big Ten has pants and pants of money. Leg-sleeves stuffed with cash. And…
Purdue Football Coaching Search: Butch Jones Leaning Towards Colorado
…that about says it all. I know that Purdue is maybe not the best example but the current Big Ten coaches are:
MAC OR MAC-ISH HEAD COACHES: Beckman, Kill, Hoke
NOT EVEN MAC: Hope (fired)
BIG EAST HEAD COACHES: Dantonio
COORDINATORS: Wilson, Bielema, O'Brien, Pelini
POSITION COACH: Fitzgerald (thrust into the job early by tragedy), Ferentz
URBAN MEYER: Urban Meyer
People, stop hiring MAC coaches who get hot for a couple seasons. Anyone can get good in the MAC (except Eastern why do you have football Eastern), and the MACtion nature of the league means that whoever is good is good because of chaos. Hoke at least had a couple years of turnaround at SDSU to his credit.
Also, there is one coach in the league who came in with BCS-level bonafides, Meyer, and he had extenuating circumstances that removed him from his previous job. This year is not a great example because I can't think of anyone who leaps off the page as an excellent coach Purdue should try to poach, but in the past five to ten years no midlevel Big Ten school has even approached a decent hire. I mean, yeah what about Sonny Dykes:
Sonny Dykes- Where art thou?
Sonny Dykes, my number one choice, seems to be staying pretty quiet during this whole process. I haven’t heard his name mentioned for Tennessee or Arksans or even NC State despite early murmurs those were his preferences. His team turned down a bowl game because they were hoping for a better offer. If that’s any indication of how Dykes negotiates someone may get a bargain of a coach. Cal seems to be the front runner for him at this point but with the coaching carousel you never know. I’d still like to see Burke take a shot at him and use the extra money for a hot shot defensive coordinator.
Is Cal going to outspend a Big Ten team for Dykes? Adding Rutgers and Maryland will change that. Sure.
Next up for Purdue: maybe Darrell Hazell because Hazell has one year in which his team came out on top of MACtion and two as a head coach. Conference, I roll my eyes at you.
Burnin' the shirt, burnin' the shirt. Well so much for Caris Levert the redshirting guy. Michigan put him out there against Bradley and will continue playing him. This means bad news for Matt Vogrich, who went from a starting, if minor, role to a few minutes late:
"(The plan is to play him) six to eight or six to 10 (minutes per game)," Beilein said Monday. "I don't know if that's always going to happen, it depends on what's going on late in the game.
"That was our intention, that's why we made the move to put him in the top eight -- we're still going to stay with a top eight or nine (guys in a rotation), and he's in there."
With Albrecht and McGary definitely part of that rotation, Levert's addition just about kicks Vogrich out of meaningful PT.
How do we feel about this? Vogrich was off to a poor start this season, but he has been able to provide sporadic gritty grit off the bench in past years and knows how to work a back-door cut. I'm less incensed about burning redshirts in basketball, where the really good players don't stick around four years, let alone five, and anyone on the floor is contributing in a way Sione Houma wasn't when he covered kickoffs that were going into the endzone anyway.
If Levert is worth a couple points a game, I'd say go for it. We haven't seen much to indicate that he is yet, but the buzz has been consistent. If they can really use him as a "defensive stopper," I'll be surprised but that's what Beilein says and Beilein draws a lot of water in this town.
Everyone was injured and now it can be told. Taylor Lewan's shoulder you didn't know was hurt is fine now, which hurrah because Clowney. Gardner's ankle you didn't know was hurt will be fine by the time bowl practice starts. Denard's elbow you knew was injured is still coming along:
Robinson was asked Monday if he's been throwing at all.
"I'm not throwing how I want to throw," he said. "I'll get there eventually."
He didn't indicate what has kept him from throwing the way he'd like.
"I don't know right now," he said. "Got to keep going, keep trying and keep getting treatment."
Nate Brink is not returning and this is apparently still news despite the fact that he walked on senior day. Stood, really, but you know what I mean.
The discussion: Which team is the nation's most talented?
Ford: …the team that may have the most talent in the country, in my book, is Michigan. The Wolverines currently have five players ranked in our Top 100. Kentucky is the only other team to have as many Top 100 players.
Right now, point guard Trey Burke is the only Michigan player ranked in our top 30, but Glenn Robinson III and Tim Hardaway Jr. both have the ability to crack the first round of the NBA draft. Freshmen Mitch McGary and Nik Stauskas are further down the list, but both have a real shot at getting drafted down the road.
That's in part why I believe Michigan is a Final Four team and may give Indiana a run for the No. 1 spot by the end of the season.
/spins in chair whistling strangely
Adopt-a-Bundesliga. I mentioned this on the podcast a few weeks ago and I am still kicking the idea around: I kind of want to adopt a Bundesliga team, because the Bundesliga is a place where people think like this:
Among Germany's well-organised supporter groups is Kein Zwanni (Not Twenty), a campaign to keep tickets cheap. Its spokesman, Dortmund fan Marc Quambusch, said: "You have to keep tickets affordable so poorer and young people can have the experience of being football supporters. German football has a special relationship with supporters because we are the owners of the clubs; people do feel that very emotional sense of belonging and the clubs do listen to the fans. I feel we need to really value what we have."
Watzke is a confirmed adherent to the Bundesliga rule that its clubs, with the historic exceptions of Bayer Leverkusen, Wolfsburg and more recently Hoffenheim, must be controlled "50% plus one" by their members. The other 33 of the 36 clubs, including Bayern Munich, which is 82% owned by its member-supporters, cannot be bought by a single person from outside, like the Premier League clubs, but instead are democratically answerable to their members.
An indication of an "emotional sense of belonging" is what the Big Ten's leadership got from fans once they announced they'd be adding Maryland and Rutgers, and is what they are busy throwing away right now in pursuit of ever-greater dollars without bothering to ask first. Ask anyone. They just did it.
That article is on Dortmund*. Dortmund fell in to debt and is coming off consecutive league championships by digging out and buying young players and building something. The entire league is organized like the Packers with exceptions grandfathered in; meanwhile the Packers setup is banned by the NFL with Green Bay grandfathered in. One gives you Dan Snyder. The other does not.
*[Dortmund pros: successful, opportunity to root against Jermaine Jones. Yellow overlaps with Michigan somewhat. Cons: somewhat of a carpetbagging thing to root for defending league champion, their yellow seems a little off. ]
The average household already spends about $90 a month for cable or satellite TV, and nearly half of that amount pays for the sports channels packaged into most services. [Emphasis added.] Massive deals for marquee sports franchises like the Dodgers and Lakers are driving those costs even higher. Over the next three years, monthly cable and satellite bills are expected to rise an average of nearly 40%, to $125, according to the market research company NPD Group.
So far, people seem willing to pay. But the escalating costs are triggering worries that, at some point, consumers will begin ditching their cable and satellite subscriptions.
“We’ve got runaway sports rights, runaway sports salaries and what is essentially a high tax on a lot of households that don’t have a lot of interest in sports,” said John Malone, the cable industry pioneer and chairman of Liberty Media. “The consumer is really getting squeezed, as is the cable operator.”
That is an unsustainable model that will erode. The Big Ten has hitched its entire wagon to that instead of things without an immediate return like, oh I don't know, an emotional sense of belonging. They are following the lead of newspapers, most of whom have abandoned any long-term strategy for slowly milking what profits can be made—except newspapers did not have a choice.
At this point I just don't care about the Big Ten expanding. I had my rage, and now I don't care what happens. That's where I am, and that's dangerous for the pointy-haired bosses. I'll watch, I'm committed to that, but there's a continuum here.
Here is a libertarian-flavored argument from Mother Jones's Kevin Drum about this whole business that GTP linked and I agree with, no polo.
No link just a thing I am thinking. The best example of the milking behavior is the Big Ten ruining things by making more of them. The two examples I'm thinking of:
- Splitting Michigan and Ohio State in the hopes of getting a rematch the next week.
- Cramming four Big Ten bowls onto New Year's Day, cheapening the accomplishment.
Instead of NYD being a litmus test for a good season it is now highly likely 8 and 7 win teams get there annually, and then who cares.
Yes, I am thinking about living under a highway overpass. Let's think about something happier.
Also other key plays. I love how on the last one you can hear the entire arena moan disgustedly before Stauskas even gets the ball. They know it's going in.
Etc.: Nebrasketball beats USC to give the Big Ten a little bit of a schedule bump. I watched the first 15 minutes or so and came away amazed at how bad the Trojans were. They have a guy with above-average usage (Jio Fontan) shooting 24% from 2!
Hagerup profiled. Baumgardner on the Bradley game, which I was fine with them playing. I'd rather have Michigan go to MVC schools for RPI and competitive purposes than beat up on the SWAC. Beard on the freshmen. MGoUser club_med looks at overtime games and eventually concludes that how you get to overtime—by blowing a lead or coming back—does not affect your chance of winning.
Late fades after being up big are the best problem to have but I would prefer it if they were fixed.