"He makes it really easy on you as a coach because he has tremendous football instincts," Michigan tight ends coach Jay Harbaugh said. "Things come really naturally to him. He doesn't have to see things too many times. He has a good sense for how things should look and feel, and he's a tough, physical guy."
Note: some of this is very old, because last week was not good for UVing things.
AHHHHHHH AHHHHHHHHH AHHHHHHHHHHHH
Anybody in the world who had anything to do with this stopping: I hate you.
Other hype video. Old Hat put the new one up.
As mentioned in the game column, a large improvement on last year's. Old Hat's videos have been the one consistently good thing about the Stadium Atmosphere Buzzword Utilization Reframing.
Fig things. Just figgin' my things. You've probably seen this, but if not:
Now you have.
Well is it or isn't it. Brian Kelly adopts AD's talking points, calls Michigan a "regional" rivalry, makes ND Nation squee, gets so much pushback from people pretending that Michigan-Notre Dame has been going on since the Dark Ages that he recants at his next press conference.
A stupid media kerfuffle but one that indicates how central Michigan-Notre Dame is to college football and how wrong it is that the series is ending.
Northwestern corner Dwight White
A major loss for nerds. Northwestern starting corner Daniel Jones is out for the season with an injury suffered in the Cal game. This is Northwestern, which is always putting together its secondary out of remaindered Hello Kitty plush toys, so the result was about what you'd expect:
Next up for the Wildcats is Dwight White, a redshirt freshman who got more or less torched by Cal's Jared Goff in his first game as a Wildcat, allowing a 52-yard touchdown grab to Cal's Chris Harper as well as several other big plays. He'll have to learn on the job, and fast, if Northwestern wants to avoid further 450-plus yard passing performances as the year goes on.
Looks like it'll be another haywire season for the Wildcats. Say what you want about Northwestern, but gotdayum they play some fun games. They can even make MSU watchable. Maybe.
At least watch it for the intro. MGoVideo has unearthed a copy of the 1994 Purdue game, which apparently wasn't televised but was available on something called the "Michigan Video Ticket," which cut out all the huddles but did include a play by play guy who can't pronounce Remy Hamilton's name:
You are probably thinking "Wheatley and Biakabutuka at the same time. /drool" I am too.
In even more vintage recordings, a 1927 newsreel from the Detroit News detailing the graduation losses suffered:
More in a similar vein: Oosterbaan honored by Muskegon, Michigan beats Chicago in front of 57,000 road fans (both teams apparently wore the same uniforms), Michigan beats Navy, and Michigan goes down to Minnesota, "Giants of the North." Last one contains an aerial shot of Michigan Stadium back in the day. Michigan had a player named "Pucklewartz" at the time.
Speaking of Oosterbaan, here's Jake Ryan with his godson:
Just don't yank around seniors' numbers and we'll be cool, legacy jerseys. Not that you are actually sentient, legacy jerseys. And don't think about getting sentient, either. I've seen Terminator.
Cutting the cord, part 60 or something. ESPN is negotiating with Apple and others to provide the whole package to internet providers, no cable or satellite required. That would be an enormous shift. I wonder how much it would cost? Some cable analyst said 30 bucks a month, but that was under a basic assumption that 80% of cable viewers would drop it—dubious, to say the least. The mothership is six bucks a pop, but the rest of the package has minimal value outside of ESPN2.
Stauskas throwing down. Game, blouses:
Wow, this is old. Yeah. I told you.
Combo forward search continues. Michigan target Devin Robinson released a top five that does not include the Wolverines. He was probably Michigan's top target after Looney dropped them, so now the field opens up. Ypsi's Jaylen Johnson visited recently and is improving his offensive game; Aussie import Jonah Bolden just popped up on the radar and claims to be a Michigan fan from way back.
Meanwhile, if you're still holding out hope for Luke Kennard, I wouldn't. He just made another visit to Lexington on a "spur of the moment decision."
The Process. A decision-making flowchart:
- Decide to do something for a tiny amount of short-term revenue without regard to your brand.
- Wait until the decision reaches the internet.
- Panic as half of internet rolls its eyes at the stupid decision and the other half invades Ann Arbor Torch and Pitchfork, rants at you.
- Hastily reverse decision.
- Blame the internet for overreacting, make nonsensical argument that it leapt to conclusions.
This has happened three times in the last month. First it was the field goal nets, then the seat cushions, then the giant noodle. I'm not sure what's more worrisome: the lack of foresight in the decisions themselves or the open contempt for people who don't like those decisions. The seat cushion thing was especially rich, as the department blamed the internet for thinking that a policy stated in bold on the official site was the official policy of the University of Michigan. That is not leaping to conclusions. There is not even a conclusion to draw. It is a fact.
Etc.: Here's Notre Dame-Temple if you want to check out Saturday's enemy. Bruce Feldman interviews Devin Gardner. Expanding Tom Hammond head. Every Play videos seem dead but here's some other guy putting together everything Gardner did from Saturday. Michigan Monday. Brabbs on his kick to beat Washington.
Important. Notre Dame is good at football.
"Sign that apparatus up to play football," says Football Coach. "Okay," says assistant football coach. "Now I am a player," says apparatus.
There is no waiting list. Michigan has finally burned out the fanbase to the point that you can get tickets just by ponying up the five hundred bucks it takes to get on the "interest list":
Michigan officials say that everyone on "interest list" who paid $500 got season tickets. No pay, not on list.
And that's a year with Ohio State, Nebraska, and a Notre Dame night game on the schedule! I wonder what will happen next year, when 1) the schedule sucks and 2) it starts off with a slap in the face I don't even want to go to.
"This game is as hot, if not hotter, than two years ago," Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon told The Detroit News. "There's enormous demand. Hopefully, that's because the fans who saw the first night game want to come back for more, and also because it's the last Michigan-Notre Dame game at Michigan Stadium for a long, long time makes it really special."
Congrats on your short-term achievement.
At least they're willing to show penalties and such now?
CTK. Schofield's up. Do not stand between him and ham:
Forgotten man? What? He's a three-year starter!
There is also Courtney Avery, who plans on going to law school. No mention of the safety move that he's apparently flirting with right now, which is no surprise. The "no mention" thing, not the hypothetical safety move. I chalk that up to experimentation, FWIW.
Here is a long thing. Here's the 1992 Michigan-Notre Dame game, all of it:
Should I not spoil it? Is that an insane thing to do for a 21-year-old game? I guess I'm not going to say anything about the outcome. (Except it involves a berserk alpaca and ten tons of rubber cement.)
Fourth And Long. We'll have a Michigan-relevant excerpt from the book on the site on the 23rd that will be of local interest, but the most compelling parts of Fourth And Long—John Bacon's new book—are easily the Penn State stuff:
Privately, the staff joked that the less the 84-year-old Paterno got involved, the better things usually went. When Paterno did weigh in, he often confused the situation, got players' names wrong or just yelled at them by their numbers.
Still, his assistants clung to certain symbols of the Paterno Way. "Shave your face, cut your hair," Mauti said, recalling the mantra. "If we weren't shaved for a practice, we would have to work out on Saturdays in the off-season. It got almost to the point where that's all that mattered."
Few programs in college football at the time could have claimed a richer tradition than Penn State's. It looked like Camelot—but only from the outside. Almost every Penn State senior I talked to last season repeated some version of the following: "We felt like we were protecting an image. And only we knew it."
Mike Mauti and Mike Zordich are never going to buy drinks in State College again. BONUS: There's a great story about Jay Paterno almost being eaten by the defensive line that I hope makes it out in the wild that's worth the price of admission by itself.
Oh, for Flansburgh's sake. It is 2013 and are we STILL having Lloyd Carr on lists like these?
Here are some notable Big Ten (and Nebraska) coaching force-outs ...
LLOYD CARR, Michigan (1995-2007)
Lloyd Carr retired by his own choice. The athletic director was surprised by this. That he was surprised was completely insane because everyone around the program new Carr was going to hang it up quite soon. I just… Lloyd Carr was not forced out. Repeat this one thousand times, Adam Rittenberg, and feel bad about yourself briefly.
Previewing basketball. ESPN does it for the conference at large:
Best case: The Wolverines were a dominant Louisville second half from winning the national title in 2012-13, and, while losing the national player of the year is never easy, the combination of Beilein's returning studs and his incoming talent could put Michigan right back where it was in April.
Worst case: There are questions, though. Can McGary produce over a whole season without Burke on the ball? Can Robinson evolve into a more perimeter-oriented, versatile scorer? Can Nik Stauskas be a multifaceted threat? Can Spike Albrecht and Zak Irvin keep all these gears in motion? Most of all -- can the Wolverines defend?
Not really, yes, yes, maybe? Meanwhile, Seth Greenberg puts Michigan and State 1-2 in his conference power rankings.
It remains to be seen whether Robinson can be as effective at the small forward position as he was last season at power forward, playing off Burke's penetration. If Robinson concentrates on being a basketball player as opposed to a position player, it will be in the best interest of the Wolverines.
He drops Indiana down to sixth(!), behind Iowa(!). Related: this will be the 65th straight season where I say "watch out for Iowa basketball, they look good" in November only for the Hawkeyes to top out as an NIT team.
I want this to happen just so I can see Jeff Meyer's face the next time he meets Tom Crean. Indiana decommit James Blackmon Jr. is planning a visit to Michigan, whereupon he'll presumably be offered. Why this is delicious:
Blackmon has been to Ann Arbor before, he was sitting next to Austin Hatch this March when Indiana played at Michigan. Blackmon was committed to Indiana at the time and the visit was thought to be at least part of the reason for the rift between Tom Crean and Michigan assistant coach Jeff Meyer after the game.
Blackmon is a Kentucky legacy with a Kentucky offer, so file under extreme long shot. He would fill the SG slot Michigan currently would like Devin Booker to fill, FWIW.
The worst case scenario. Actually this is Iowa we're talking about, so this should rightly be renamed "thing we expect to happen":
GAME 6, MICHIGAN STATE
Spartan coach Mark Dantonio refuses to bring his team to Iowa City, saying "I'm competitive, but I'm not insane." Offensive coordinator Greg Davis calls out Dantonio in a press conference, saying "Mark ... just ... looking out for ... players. Doesn't want our boys ... to hurt 'em ... too bad. Let's ... give him ... a hand."
The government has turned Minneapolis into a quarantine zone. Chicago residents have erected hasty barricades to separate themselves from the outer suburbs. IOWA WINS BY FORFEIT
Needs more alligators.
Also in worst case scenarios, the NCAA's in the Ed O'Bannon case is "severely damages Iowa State and no one else."
Etc.: ND game is at eight on ESPN, because ABC has NASCAR. What is wrong with you ABC? Christian Hackenberg pulls even with another first-year guy (a JUCO transfer) in the Penn State QB race. Gardner Heisman hype. DOES ADAM JACOBI THINK ANYTHING SHOULD PLAY FOOTBALL?
Illinois assistant gets a two-game ban for tryna murder him some officials after the end of the Miami-Illinois tourney game last year. Guy had a case, though. SI ranks M 18th, hates on their special teams without explanation.
The Omen. Trey Burke had a crazy-good final high school season, and so did Derrick Walton. Then Trey Burke started putting videos of his summer workout regime on youtube. Derrick Walton's doing that too:
That step-back makes 'em say uhn. Michigan's going to be just fine at the point this year.
Reiterating. Brady Hoke was on Rich Eisen's podcast, wherein he reiterated Jake Ryan's timetable and said some other things:
On incoming freshman tailback Derrick Green being in the mix this fall: "Oh, he'll be in the mix, and Fitz (Toussaint) is healthy now. (Toussaint) is unbelievable how he works (coming off a broken leg). We'll find out (about Green). Like Michigan, you earn it, you earn it every day. You're evaluated every day. We're excited about Derrick, we're excited about that whole class."
Hoke says there won't be another Ten Year War, which lies. Also, only incompetent germans:
On some good things coming out of Ohio: "There's a guy named Schembechler who was from Ohio. We have Charles Woodson, Desmond Howard from Ohio, and the head football coach at Michigan is from Ohio."
We're #1, locally. Nebraska paper averages everyone's finish in Big Ten sports, comes out with Michigan on top by a significant margin:
If there is a Big Ten sport, Michigan has a team for it.
And it's likely a pretty good team.
The Wolverines' average Big Ten finish for 2012-13, among their 25 men's and women's teams, was 4.04, tops in the conference.
Nebraska's 21 teams had an average finish of 5.57, good for sixth place -- the same spot the Huskers occupied in 2011-12.
Minnesota was second with 4.43, Ohio State third. MSU was 10th, Iowa last.
Surprise. The 2015 Big Ten schedule is an inverse of the 2014 one, except I guess in terms of order. Michigan's docket:
- OCTOBER 3: @ Maryland
- OCTOBER 10: Northwestern
- OCTOBER 17: MSU
- OCTOBER 31: @ Minnesota
- NOVEMBER 7: Rutgers
- NOVEMBER 14: @ Indiana
- NOVEMBER 21: @ PSU
- NOVEMBER 28: OSU
Unfortunate bye timing. Not too worried about that @ PSU/OSU double bill since Penn State will still be in the meat of their sanctions at that point.
Peppers peppers peppers peppers peppers. If Jabrill Peppers's last name was Buffalo, that would be a sentence. Instead it is just a lead-in to Sam Webb profiling Mr. Peppers in the Detroit News. Peppers had a rough background—as you probably know, his dad has been in prison for going on ten years—and came through it:
"My brother (Don Curtis) was actually in (the street life), but that was the main person who sheltered me from it," Peppers explained. "He was my role model even though he was not doing what he was supposed to do. He kept me from doing the things that he was doing. I actually wanted to be out there with him. I didn't have a male role model in my life, so he was the closest thing to one. I was looking up to him so I was fighting every day, but every time he saw me out there in the street he would tighten me up and tell me to go home. He would tell me, 'This is not how (you're) going to do it! This is not how (you're) going to live (your) life.'"
His brother was murdered in 2010. The whole piece is highly recommended; it's going to be easy to root for him. Not that I have problems rooting for bionic supermen anyway.
Hello Hopkins. The Big Ten adds Johns Hopkins, which conveniently gets them to six lacrosse teams (M, OSU, PSU plus the two new additions). That's the minimum for an autobid and, like hockey, lacrosse is a minor but burgeoning sport that can fill airtime on the BTN. Hopkins is one of the sport's all-time great powers with a ludicrous 44 national titles, but once they missed the tourney this year for the first time since 1971 they decided something needed to change.
Hopkins is an academic powerhouse, of course, and since its only DI sport is lacrosse their addition doesn't do anything except set the Big Ten up as a power conference. The Big Ten wanted JHU pretty badly, as they allowed them to keep their current deal with ESPNU.
Hope. Brian Kelly on the M-ND series:
"We'd like to play each other," Kelly said. "I don't think it's ending. Give us some time to make it work."
I have my doubts since Notre Dame is stuck with five ACC games year—but they're not in a conference—and now that Michigan has MSU and OSU on the road at the same time they no longer want but in fact desperately need a sexy nonconference game in even years, when ND is away to USC and would prefer a home game against a marquee opponent themselves.
The dumbest thing Gordon Gee said. I know, I know, but where does your head have to be at when Rutgers is doing what Rutgers does right now and you drop this:
The blocking strategy is that we simply have now put the ACC in an almost no-win position. So who do they immediately go to? Louisville.
Yes. A no-win position in which they bring in the defending national champions in basketball and a BCS-bowl-winning football team with a fevered fanbase. Calling Bret Bielema a thug who was going to get fired after three straight Rose Bowl appearances is a strong #2, I'll grant.
Etc.: Yes in fact the Denard injury does hurt your heart. Indiana game at 3:30. The CJHL is coming down hard on teams in their purview that damage the NCAA eligibility of their players. Denard in Jacksonville. Free shirts for everyone. Scouting Tim Hardaway in preparation for the NBA draft. Lol rutgers.
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.]