I'VE HAD JUST ABOUT ENOUGH OF YOU SONNY
The Michigan Daily reports this doozy of a rumor:
Some sources tell me that the Athletic Department is looking into a home game against the University of Georgia in 2010, one that would also bring the Wolverines to Athens in 2011.
Whaaaa? A quick check of Georgia's future schedules reveals an open date in 2010 but the opening week of the season is currently filled by Louisiana Lafayette. UGA's other nonconference games that year are @ Colorado and @ Georgia Tech. In 2011, Georgia's schedule is already complete, with home games against Louisville, GT and a couple of cupcakes lined up.
To add Michigan, Georgia would have to…
- accept three nonconference road games against legit opponents in 2010,
- accept three nonconference home games against legit opponents in 2011,
- move the Louisiana Lafayette game, and
- cancel an existing 2011 game.
The former two would be unusual for any college football team not named USC. The latter two cost money. The athletic department can "look into" a home-and-home with Georgia all they want, but UGA is an poor fit for a home-and-home over the next couple years. They are not likely to go for it; if they do they're likely to demand exorbitant terms that Michigan will balk at.
Light day today due to Spain-USA. May we die with honor. Braves and Birds previews it for you.
Times and dates. A press release containing every exciting Big Ten matchup against Towson has been C&Ped into the diaries. Michigan games listed:
- Western Michigan at MICHIGAN, ABC, 3:30 p.m. ET
- Notre Dame at Michigan, ABC, 3:30 p.m. ET
- Eastern Michigan at MICHIGAN, Big Ten Network, Noon ET
- MICHIGAN at ILLINOIS, ABC, 2:30 p.m. CT
Yes, Western Michigan at Michigan is a 3:30 ABC game. Woo! It's not like there's anything else going on but Jebus. If the rest of the schedule wasn't dire enough to get WMU @ M on ABC I'd put in my usual complaint about a home 3:30 start really impinging on my ability to see games around the country.
Also: was it widely known that the Illinois game would be a 3:30 ABC affair?
We were good except for the eighty yard touchdown we gave up six times. I couldn't dig up a specific instance of this concept in the archives, but I'm pretty sure at various times last year I described the defense as doing pretty well except for the four long touchdowns. Michigan wasn't a team you drove the field on, it was a team you mostly failed against until someone in the secondary or one of the linebackers screwed up and then you ran for a long time and got seven points. Sometimes this happened most of the day (Illinois), sometimes it didn't.
It turns out there are numbers to support this idea:
The most interesting name on this list is Michigan. They were seventh in Success Rates+ but 62nd in PPP+ [Points Per Play]. That suggests that they played pretty efficient defense overall, not giving up consistent gains, but the breakdowns they did suffer were large ones, and they gave up far too many big plays.
There aren't any helpful glossary links that explain exactly what goes into these metrics, unfortunately, so I can't tell you if they attempt to account for the terrible field position Michigan found itself in time and again, but even that can't explain all of this discrepancy.
So: the stats point a finger squarely at last year's safeties, with some bonus points accruing to the sloppy linebacking.
More metrics for good. The Free Press summarizes Steele's metrics on Michigan, all of which point in the right direction. Many of them will be familiar to readers of this blog:
- Teams coming off extremely negative turnover years improve 80% of the time.
- Teams who lose three or more close games than they win improve basically 80% of the time.
- Michigan returns many starters.
- And holy hell the offense has to be way better.
Steele predicts an improved season for the Wolverines, the fourth-most improved season nationally, trailing only Illinois, Ohio and UCLA. He also sees them in the Champs Sports Bowl against Miami (Fla.).
Raise your hand if you'd take that right now. That appears to be everyone.
Another bullet in the head. Man, this coaches poll thing… eh… not so good:
the Coaches poll is a different story. Only 5 of the 18 non-BCS teams have a positive average, meaning that the overwhelming majority of non-BCS teams drop further in the Coaches poll after a loss than the average team does. (It’s true that in general, the Coaches drop teams further for a loss than the AP, but not by that much – it’s a difference of 0.2 spots.) In fact, the Coaches dropped non-BCS teams more than the average in nearly 2/3’s of their losses. Looking at it one final way, all of the BCS teams combine for the average 0.0 in the Coaches poll – non-BCS teams combine for a -1.6 average, losing a spot and a half more per game than BCS teams.
And Carson went forth amongst the Hittites, and slew many, and gloried in the destruction, whereupon he was released from the football team to the annoyance of his high school coach. Minor PR fire at Detroit Renaissance arising from an interview with its head coach. First, the facts: Ren's Antonio Watts is being interviewed by "Hondo," who's a Spartan-slanted (and apparently unemployed now) TV guy the RCMB mocks.
First he references Carson Butler—"now with the Green Bay Packers"—as one of the major athletes in Renaissance's past, at which point Hondo asks why everyone loves Dantonio, at which point Watts says, in effect, "Dantonio shows up."
Then there's some garbled ungrammatical stuff from Hondo about the current Ren kids at State; Watts launches into this apropos of nothing—Hondo never mentions Michigan:
"I had two kids who went to the University of Michigan with Lloyd Carr and when Rodriguez took over last year, in my opinion they weren't done well. They weren't treated well. Carson had to leave early… to the NFL, and Andre Criswell, who's still up there, he's a graduate assistant who's not doing anything. And that hurt my heart. And I have a kid at West Virginia who's not very happy there. And I feel that."
Well, then. One: don't expect anyone out of Ren to go to Michigan in the near future. But let's not confuse this coach's slant with reality. Criswell is a great guy but he was the last guy in his recruiting class, a guy Carr offered on signing day because he had an extra scholarship. He came in as a fullback, never played under Carr in three years, and never played under Rodriguez. As mentioned, he's currently a grad assistant. I'm finding it difficult to see how that can be spun as anything negative. I'm even assuming his withdrawal from the program was entirely his decision: Michigan has extra scholarships this year. So what the hell?
And Carson Butler… well. Carson Butler is the most embarrassing program alum in the last decade. He punched a Notre Dame player last year. The year before that he participated in the St. Patrick's Day Nerd Massacre, was kicked off the team by Carr, and only let back on after he managed to evade legal consequences. At the time it seemed clear that Carr would have rather washed his hands of him then and there but couldn't justify it since he was acquitted. On the field the guy was a false-start prone headcase whose interest in blocking was nil.
And the stories that have hit my inbox about him have been either hilarious or disturbing, or both. There's a typical Carson Butler story in that thread linked above; I've heard three or four others of similar vintage. Unless this is an amazing hoax, the guy is a sociopath who got far more consideration than he deserved from Michigan.
So over it. A couple of weeks ago, Rich Rodriguez called up a couple of guys in West Virginia in an attempt to bury the hatchet. Here's how that went:
My wife is not a sports fan.
Recently, though, she read the front page article by the Daily Mail's Jake Stump about Rich Rodriguez, the one where the former West Virginia University coach said how much he loved West Virginia and hoped the tension between him and hard-core Mountaineer football fans was fading.
Her observation after reading the article was, "Who is this man? What a pitiful, whiny, self-serving creature."
You, sir, have a very dramatic wife. Who likes adjectives.
Teeny tinies are the trend. Some of the roiling sea of consternation about Michigan's future is about the tiny wide receivers and their unsuitability for the NFL and that sort of thing. Maybe this helps?
Though there were no wide receivers taken in the first round in 2008, 10 went in Round 2, and a quick look at their first-year statistics paints an interesting picture. The success among the smaller guys was led by 5-10, 182-pound Eddie Royal of Denver, who embarrassed then-Oakland cornerback DeAngelo Hall in the season opener on Monday Night Football to the tune of nine catches for 146 yards and a touchdown. That was just the opening salvo in a season that saw Royal finish with 91 catches for 980 yards in 15 games.
Philadelphia's DeSean Jackson is another example of a small receiver having a big impact as a rookie. At 5-10, 175, he finished with 62 catches for 912 yards, but only two touchdowns. Even the surprise first receiver taken in 2008, 5-11, 184-pound Donnie Avery of St. Louis, had a stellar debut. He had 53 catches for 674 yards and three touchdowns, not too shabby for a 'rook.'
Meanwhile, all the big guys from that draft haven't done anything. Now, none of these guys are 5'2" or whatever Jeremy Gallon is, but they are in the range that of a Je'Ron Stokes. And if you're one of these guys you're probably going to go to the school that can best deploy your tiny windmilling legs, right?
In 2010 Michigan has an open slot on its schedule September 4th and a spanking new set of luxury boxes and club seats to fill. Boise State has an open slot the same date and an athletic director who's looking for benjamins above all:
"Right now, I'd go where I can make the most money," Boise State athletic director Gene Bleymaier said. "If I can play at home and make that much money, then I'm going to play at home. But it's difficult to make that much money in our stadium size. ... I've tried to avoid those [guarantee games]. Now they're much more of a reality going forward."
Boise State isn't USC but neither are they Delaware State. If not Boise, that post above has a useful list of other teams with a free date, and NationalChamps.net has a compilation of future schedules.
Teams with open dates are in groups below, with existing opponents and teams that appear to have been listed erroneously in the Boise post (GT and Miami are full, for two) excised:
NOT HAPPENING WITHOUT AN UNLIKELY RETURN GAME
- Oklahoma State
- Kansas State
- Mississippi State
- Washington State
- Maryland (would have to move Navy game)
- NC State
- Oregon State
- South Carolina (would have to move Troy game)
- TCU (they'd have to move their Baylor game)
Would any of the teams in the last category go for a pure guarantee game? I kind of doubt it, especially the teams that would have to futz with their existing schedules to open up a slot. Would Michigan or any of those teams go for a 2-for-1? That I also doubt given Michigan's scheduling practices of late.
Boise State looks like the only program out there with the right open date who would accept a guarantee game and build any pregame hype.
Caption this baby. Caption contests are sometimes compulsory. This is one of those times.
Have at it. Side note: could those two guys look more like Notre Dame graduates? I submit they could not.
Walking on? I had been under the assumption that Kelvin Grady was going to be on scholarship with the football team, but this AA News article suggests otherwise:
Grady met recently with Michigan football coach Rich Rodriguez and received permission to try and walk on with the Wolverines, a university spokesman said Wednesday.
So… Grady might not occupy a scholarship slot. This isn't relevant this year—when he's likely to pick a scholarship up anyway because of low numbers—but provides some additional flexibility in future years. I would assume if Grady becomes a contributor he'll get a scholarship.
How likely is that? Well, his high school coach thinks it's a possibility:
“He’s been training at a very high level in basketball,” Stuursma said. “He has the ability to catch a ball, and learning to run routes comes in a very short time. He is a student of the game and has a very high level of intelligence.” …
“Kelvin on the football field is one of those guys where you kind of hold your breath,” said Stuursma, who also watched Grady change games with explosive kick returns. “He has the opportunity to take it to the house at any time. He’s electrifying and can take over the game with one play, a natural ability you can’t coach.”
Michigan's offense is well suited for zippy small guys, and with Terrance Robinson having some issues catching the ball there's an opportunity for playing time there. His hands must be good, right? And when he fumbles kickoffs he'll be really good at fielding them on the bounce.
Wait… what? After a brief period of about three posts where Adam Rittenberg, ESPN's Big Ten quasi-blogger, linked out to non-mainstream content, he settled down into a familiar pattern: newspaper person links only to newspaper stuff. I don't really blame him, what with corporate monolith considerations and all that. That's just life. But why has he broken this policy to link to an inane list of the "most overrated coaches" at Heisman Pundit?
That content has literally zero value. It could have been farted out by a monkey. Sample insight on Tressel, citing his conservative offensive tendencies: "It's almost as if he is satisfied to lose, as long as it is his way." Did I merely imagine Troy Smith throwing 30 touchdowns and winning the Heisman in 2006? Because if I did, that would be awesome. I pray someone is about to smack me into consciousness on the morning of the 2006 Ohio State game with Tressel poised to run 70% of the time.
There's a ton of funny or interesting content that actually takes time and research being published in the blogosphere. Here's some great stuff on underdog strategies from Smart Football. Here's an in-depth look at Rodriguez offenses past and what makes them good from When Carcajous Attack(!). Here's MVictors talking with Minnesota's AD about whether a 2010 Michigan-Minnesota nonconference game was actually a possibility. All contain far more value than yet another offseason list put together by some guy BRINGING IT STRONG.
There's a disconnect here, isn't there? I actually feel bad for Rittenberg, who has to put out a mountain of ephemeral content like "Top 30 Players In The Big Ten" that serves no other purpose than to generate a tiny burst of link traffic instead of getting to concentrate on pieces with lasting value. But he shouldn't mistake the insistent demands of the page view god for quality content elsewhere.
Speaking of all those posts. Yes, MVictors got the scoop on this weird possibility of a Michigan-Minnesota nonconference game. It won't happen, but it was discussed:
MVictors: Were you interested?
Maturi: There are different kinds of scheduling. When you’re Minnesota and you’re trying to improve your program and to be successful, I’m really thankful to coach Brewster for his willingness to play a tougher schedule. Saying that, we had already scheduled Southern Cal for next year . I’m not a real brilliant guy, but I’m not so sure it’s in the best interest of Minnesota football to play Southern Cal and Michigan in back-to-back weeks. Non-conference, so-to-speak. As a result, if we had not scheduled Southern Cal I would have been very interested.
That's sort of encouraging, I guess, for folks who would like to see another interesting 2010 nonconference game—ie, everyone—but discouraging if an oddity like that is Michigan's best hope. More over there, including Bill Martin writing a check to Minnesota for a new stadium in a huff.
Meanwhile, this When Carcajous Attack(!) post is extensive and hard to really blockquote from, so let's just hit the outline:
Under what circumstances does Rodriguez’s spread-option offense really start hitting on all cylinders?
When certain key ingredients were present and well-mixed into the offensive game plan, Rodriguez showed a tremendous yield of both offensive firepower (yards gained, points scored) and victories. All of Rich Rodriguez’s most powerful offensive units featured three key components.
I.) Quarterbacks With Wheels
II.) Tailback Tandems from Hell
III.) Slot Machines (and Quarterbacks That Crank The Handle)
There are many examples of Rodriguez's past combined with Michigan's; take a gander.
(Sidenote II: hey, kids and doctors! I see you taking your tables and posting them in image format, which is subpar because 1) the google can't see you, 2) the page loads slower, and 3) no one can C&P your work easily and build on it. Instead of screen-grabbing your spreadsheet program, try Tableizer.)
Save the MSU game, the Wolverines beat the opponent’s average in each game over the second half of the season.
It's true: Michigan was an outstanding rush offense in three games, average in two others, and poor against MSU. That replicated over the course of the season would shoot Michigan into territory not quite as lofty as that experienced by Rodriguez at West Virginia, but close. And if you remember Michigan State's snap-jumping excess in last year's game…
As we now know, there weren't really variable pauses between the hand clap and the snap, which allowed Michigan State to jump the snap count time and again to mostly good effect. They picked up a few offsides calls, but they also got incompletions, stuffed runs, and sacks because their guys were moving before Michigan's OL could even get out of their stances.
…you know that there was a significant mitigating factor in Michigan's single subpar rushing effort in the season's second half, one that's unlikely to be repeated with a more experienced center and line.
And what's more, Michigan returns literally everyone relevant to that performance with another year of experience and Barwis under their belts. This is your major reason for hope in 2009.
Loeffler Jr.? Loeffler on his younger doppelganger:
Q:Was it exciting to see Nick Sheridan get playing time last fall?
A:Nick Sheridan, I love like a son. He loves Michigan and is going to do everything that's asked of his coaches and is an impeccable young man, and one day he'll be one heck of a football coach.
"We appreciate the efforts made by both UMass and Bowling Green to accept one-year contracts to play at The Big House," Athletic Director Bill Martin said in a statement issued by U-M. "The scheduling landscape is becoming more difficult and we discussed the open dates with a number of institutions and want to thank them for their time and effort during this process."
The Wolverines will welcome UMass to Michigan Stadium Sept. 18, a week after traveling to Notre Dame. U-M will then host Bowling Green Sept. 25 before opening Big Ten play Oct. 2 at Indiana. The Maize and Blue still have yet to fill the final open date (Sept. 4) on their schedule.
As you might remember, UMass was rumored to be the newly-renovated Michigan Stadium opener, but this will not happen. Martin on that date:
"We are working hard to line up an opponent for the opening game in renovated Michigan Stadium," Martin said. "We hope to have an announcement in the near future."
The implication behind Michigan's strenuous denials that UMass would be the opener was that they'd try to find an opponent that was appealing, or at least moderately interesting. We'll see if that comes to pass.
It will not die. Big Ten meetings have just gone down, causing a minor deluge of weird content. It's time for the annual fruitless discussion of a ninth conference game:
"We talk about that at every meeting," said Michigan athletic director Bill Martin, who added that the drive for nine is getting more support. "As the guarantees [for nonconference games] go up and up and up and the fans want to play our sister institutions in the conference, to me it's a no-brainer. Play 'em."
Martin has been leading the charge on this since it came up, FWIW, which is an indication the athletic department is not happy with the current state nonconference scheduling. So there's that.
This discussion is such a zombie that I mentioned it "would not die" the last time it came up; I still fail to see how the league can get away with having one team play only eight conference games while everyone else has nine. This haphazard system was the best I could do in February:
All league schedules are set just like they are now with the exception of one particular week. This week is kept clear until the previous season ends. The last place team in the league gets matched with a pre-arranged MAC opponent. They probably wouldn't mind, as they would have an easier path to bowl eligibility.
At this point you have ten teams in two groups:
- 2 teams not scheduled to play the last-place team.
- 8 teams with the last place team on the schedule.
The group of two have one and only one available option for their ninth game and get matched up with that option. The other six (or eight) teams get randomly matched up with one of the two teams they miss, with an emphasis on 1) variety and 2) fairly balancing home and away.
At that point you're hoping there are no worst-to-first miracles, which is an uncomfortable spot to be in. Would that work? I kind of think it might. I have doubts you could get enough schools on board to get it approved.
More interesting and more plausible. The Big Ten has talked about moving up the window during which you can go on official visits:
Zook and several of his Big Ten colleagues are discussing whether football recruits should be allowed to take official visits during June or even May of their junior years. Recruits currently cannot make official visits until after the first day of classes during their senior year.
"What's happening is these kids are making a lot of unofficial visits, which they're having to pay for," Zook said Wednesday. "Some of them quite frankly can't afford it. So you're helping that way as well."
I'm on board with this; who cares when an official visit is, within reason? It would help the Big Ten recruit distant prospects: last year LA WR Kenny Bell seemed interested in Michigan and planned a visit that fell through because his family couldn't afford it. He ended up signing with LSU. Also, I'd rather bring a kid from sweltering August mosquito death into a pleasant Michigan summer than go from pleasant southern winter to 20 and snowy.
Maybe that's why Rittenberg mentions other conferences' desire to shove officials all the way back to December, which what?
Yes, they can read. Unless you're a South Florida fan, and even then most of them can read. Wisconsin just got hit with a decommit from spectacularly-named safety Vander Blue. The predictable result:
“Just to see how these so-called Wisconsin fans, what they had to say on those blogs,” he said, “it really made me second-guess: Do people really want me here?
“Because I know if I was a fan and I heard about a recruit I’d be more like: ‘What can we do to help him? And not: ‘Let’s make him feel like the worst person in Madison right now.’"
Point for Blue. Also I'm willing to bet 99% of the flaming came from Scout/Rivals/newspaper message boards and not blogs simply because there is no Wisconsin blog of note. The SBNation blog—which I guess is the closest thing—has a grand total of zero comments on three Blue stories.
Originally Posted: Sun, 1 Mar 03:26 EST
The Streaker Tripper - m4w
Date: 2009-03-01, 3:26AM EST
I was streaking through the Diag Friday night at 2:15 am. Coming around the corner of State and Liberty, fast as a naked blur, I bumped into you and we both fell to the ground. I was a little upset with you at first, cuz I scratched my right butt cheek pretty bad, but I knew it was my fault. You said, "Nice New Balances," And all I could say was, "Thanks," with the adrenaline still rushing. In less awkward circumstances, I would have liked to talk to you. I had never run into a girl that fast or naked before... I didn't know how to respond so I helped you up quickly and kept running. Since my friends paid me $100 for making it to Kerrytown with just my socks, shoes, and a big smile, I'd like to take you on a date. You looked pretty fit so maybe you'd like to go for a run sometime. Hit me up! Bye!
* Location: Corner State+Lib
* it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests
As the OP states: please, no discussion of current or former defensive linemen.