This is maaaaybe premature there, ESPN. Maryland #1 FWIW.
Happy anniversary. Today is one year out from Harbaugh.
A year ago today, Jim Harbaugh was officially introduced as Michigan's head football coach. pic.twitter.com/G8vhtCZ1lw
— Alejandro Zúñiga (@ByAZuniga) December 30, 2015
Max Harbaugh. To commemorate the event, Harbaugh had a radio appearance on Stoney and Bill. He completed that radio appearance and then CALLED BACK IN to advocate having Wrestlemania at Michigan Stadium, where he could referee a match between Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan:
“Why not the Big House?” he said. “Why not? 140,000 – I bet we could get in there for Wrestlemania. They’re trying to break the attendance record at Jerry Jones’ stadium in Dallas. (There’s) a great Canadian presence in wrestling. Why not Michigan and the Big House?”
When a producer on the show suggested that Harbaugh participate as a referee in a Flair vs Hulk Hogan matchup, Harbaugh didn’t hesitate.
“I’m in,” he said.
The chances of that match are not great since Flair and Hogan are a combined billion years old and Hogan was dropped by WWE after tapes of him being racist-uncle-level racist were released as part of a lawsuit he's embroiled in. With Gawker, because of course.
But other than that, yeah, sure. Unfortunately it's too late for Michigan Stadium to get it this year, since last year it was in the 49ers' stadium and that symmetry would have been perfect. Screw you, Jed York! (Actually, thank you, Jed York. Thank you so much for all that you have done for Michigan athletics.)
Either way, AJ Williams is in.
— Aj Williams (@ajthejuicy84) December 30, 2015
And now let us reflect on the previous gentleman. The Washington Post has an article on ballooning costs for athletic department administrators. If that sounds like an article in which Dave Brandon features, you would be correct:
Last December, at a conference on the business of college sports, a panel discussion involving Michigan athletics executive Hunter Lochmann turned to the topic of paying players. Lochmann, according to media reports, expressed skepticism about whether players deserved any of the millions sponsors paid to have their logos seen during Michigan games.
“Those are fleeting, four-year relationships,” he said of the careers of Michigan athletes. “At Michigan, it’s the block ‘M’ that has the affinity and power globally, not [former Michigan quarterback] Denard Robinson.”
The response was interesting coming from Lochmann, a former longtime National Basketball Association marketing executive who himself had just a four-year relationship with college sports at that point. In 2014, Lochmann made $225,000 performing a job — chief marketing officer at Michigan athletics — that didn’t exist before 2010, when then-Michigan athletic director Brandon created the position, luring Lochmann from the New York Knicks.
Lochmann was not the only new face in Michigan athletics. Between 2004 and 2014, records show, the department added 77 new full-time positions, contributing to an administrative payroll surge from $14.7 million to $27.7 million.
That 89% increase considerably outpaces the national average of 69%—this is national trend that Brandon managed to beat out. The returns on those additional staff were nil, as by the end of Brandon's tenure the Big House was three-quarters full and the athletic department had suffered a never-ending series of PR gaffes culminating in the concussion fiasco. The article revisits Lochdogg a bit later:
Michigan’s front office has gotten a bit smaller since last year, however. A few weeks after Lochmann’s controversial comments about Michigan athletes — which sparked backlash from university alums, including some NFL players — the university announced that Lochmann had resigned to “pursue other opportunities.”
In the year since, Michigan athletics has not needed to fill the vacant chief marketing officer job.
Except insofar as Harbaugh fills that role.
Anyway. The article ably details the flood of money going somewhere. That is an increasing army of administrators and higher salaries for extant ones, because, and I quote this quote "We’re no different than any other corporation that wants its business to be successful.”
I can think of one way it is different.
Bobby Bowden and IU athletic director Fred Glass come off well, FWIW.
Florida things. Suspensions and early NFL draft announcements may indicate a Gators program that is not fully checked in at the moment. Four players have already announced they're out the door for the draft after the game. DE Alex McCalister was dismissed from the team a couple weeks ago. Three players, including a starting OT, have been suspended. That starting OT projects to be replaced by a true freshman, which would bring the number of first-year players starting along Florida's lines to four.
That's all good news for a Michigan team that ended the year with a bit of a thud.
Brian Cole mystery, resolved. If you follow the premium sites you've noticed a hard split on the first year of Brian Cole at Michigan. Cole disappeared from the field after a few games thanks to an injury and never returned. Rivals repeatedly asserted that he was deep in the doghouse and unlikely to ever emerge; Scout said he'd moved to safety and was doing well after an early Internal Matter. RJS helps clarify:
"B-Cole's at safety, he's been coming down and bringing a lot of havoc," senior linebacker Royce Jenkins-Stone said Monday. "He's been good." …
"Everybody's getting some time to play, we've been doing a lot of scrimmaging with younger guys," Jenkins-Stone said. "Coach Harbaugh's putting people where he feels like they'll be best for the team.
"Coach Harbaugh feels like (Cole) can make that happen, and I'm pretty sure he'll be able to fill a void next year at safety."
0% chance Cole plays in the bowl game since he's got a medical redshirt coming, but good to hear that Michigan's top athlete from the 2015 class is not in the same boat Derrick Green is.
The boat Derrick Green is in. A fast one, going anywhere but Ann Arbor. Ty Isaac will stick around; multiple reports had him taking most of the first team reps before the OSU game.
A less dangerous Indiana. #CHAOSTEAM may be a bit less chaos-y next year thanks to departures. RB Jordan Howard and DT Darius Latham have declared for the draft. IU loses most of their OL and Nate Sudfeld. I find it hard to believe that Zander Diamont is going to replace Sudfeld's production. Kevin Wilson is pretty great at offense but all they have to do is take a half-step back and the chaos turns into something like the LSU-Texas Tech bowl game where it's close for a while and then whoops it's 42-20.
Etc.: Chris Wormley reiterates that he will return next year. At this point I think the only person we're waiting on is Willie Henry. IU guard James Blackmon has a knee injury of undisclosed severity. This is a good vine. Holy crap, Baylor. Three pointers are suddenly easy. Harbaugh Christmas.
Mattison has been around the block [Eric Upchurch]
Defensive coordinator bits. Michigan isn't in any rush to fill the spot since they know what they're doing for the bowl game (it'll be Mattison) and they don't have any urgent recruiting to do (Chris Partridge is on the road temporarily and it's a dead period through the New Year).
For a while it seemed like the main guy was Stanford DC Lance Anderson, who admitted contact with both BYU and Michigan early last week. BYU is currently looking for a Mormon to coach their team after the departure of Bronco Mendenhall, and Anderson fits the bill. So does Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo (a name I will force Ace to pronounce if it ever comes up on the podcast), but that flirtation apparently came to an end yesterday. Anderson would be a guy on the ensuing shortlist. And even if he's not:
Lance Anderson: "I'm not leaving #Stanford for another coordinator position. I'm very happy here, love this."
— Andy Drukarev (@StanfordRivals) December 17, 2015
Anderson's track record is short and Michigan's flirtation with Harbaugh's former Stanford personnel mostly serves to get them raises. Moving on, then… to… people? I guess?
I haven't gotten any intel on the search, sadly, and so much of what others have said has mutated so quickly or proven to be false that I don't think anyone has a good read. Sam Webb brought up Wisconsin DC Dave Aranda as a possibility. Aranda has a very good track record save for a certain game against Ohio State last year, so that's a mixed blessing right there.
Colorado DC Jim Leavitt is working his way back into college coaching after an Incident that got him fired from his post as the USF head coach. An Oklahoma fan laid out the case for Leavitt in January, when the Sooners were looking for coaches on D:
Everywhere coach Leavitt has been, he’s been successful. He was the co-defensive coordinator with Bob Stoops at Kansas State, where they managed to take a pitiful defense and turn it into, statistically, one of the nation’s best. He then went on to the University of South Florida and built the program from it’s infancy as an FCS program to a Big East conference FBS program. The success he had at South Florida, including at one point being ranked number two nationally, has not been anywhere close to repeated since his departure.
Leavitt was offered the Alabama job multiple times before Nick Saban eventually landed in Tuscaloosa. He was offered head coaching positions at multiple major FBS programs and turned them all down to stay at South Florida.
Leavitt landed with Harbaugh in San Francisco after the Incident, and is a quality coach.
And I'll continue to advocate for Houston DC Todd Orlando*, a former Wisconsin linebacker who has been very successful in stints at Utah State and Houston. That he was Tom Herman's top choice to be DC is also very appealing—this is a gentleman selected by a top spread guy.
Todd Orlando is not pictured at right. But if he was, oh man.
*[Oddly, Orlando and Aranda were at Utah State consecutively. Someone hire that guy to be a head coach. Oh right Wisconsin tried that and he ran away.]
Thanking ushers with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind. Jim Harbaugh doing Harbaugh things:
Jim Harbaugh made a surprise appearance at a dinner yesterday simply to thank Michigan Stadium ushers for their work pic.twitter.com/Uloc5xNv8P
— Alejandro Zúñiga (@ByAZuniga) December 16, 2015
They got the people who stand on the seats in the IMG section to not do so for the OSU game this year, so I would also like to thank the kind lady who did that.
Filling in a LTT-shaped hole. Michigan has offered Texas grad transfer Jake Raulerson. Raulerson got his degree in three years and has two to play, so he would help fill in one of the gaps left by the six-man 2012 OL recruiting class dwindling to two. Raulerson has seen a fair bit of time:
He started five games on the offensive line for Texas as a redshirt freshman and played twelve total games in 2014 for the Longhorns. He was a four-star prospect out of high school and was the 116th ranked overall player in the 2013 class coming out of high school. Alabama and UCLA are among the other programs he is believed to be considering.
At 6-4, 295 he is most likely a center but could play either guard spot as well. He is (obviously) a high-academic kid, and would immediately compete to fill the spot Glasgow is vacating. He would also be around in 2017, when Michigan loses Magnuson, Kalis, and Braden.
Raulerson would not count against the cap of 28 players the Big Ten imposes on recruiting classes, so if Michigan thinks they'll have a spot there's no downside.
RichRodding in progress. Meanwhile, poor damn Charlie Strong. Strong is two-thirds of the way to the full RichRod. Strong:
- is probably a good coach, possibly a very good one
- got a primo college job despite no previous connections to it
- inherited a brutally bad roster thanks to the previous coach staying on a couple years too long
- attempted to install a culture radically different from the existing one
- lost a lot of games his first two years
- lost whatever questionable support there was for him in the first place thanks to the previous bullet
- made a bunch of panicked coaching moves after some bad decisions on the side of the ball opposite his specialty
- died a thousand recruiting deaths as a result.
In related news, Texas offered TX DT Chris Daniels yesterday. Daniels commits… tonight. Probably not to Texas. As of right now the Longhorns have zero (ZERO) of the top 20 recruits in the state committed, and two of the top 50*. That is a long way away from the Mack Brown days when Texas would lock up 15 of the top 20 before the previous year's signing day.
*[They are crystal ball favorites for four of the remaining six uncommitted players but much of that feels like the same kind of momentum that saw Jordan Elliott a Texas CB favorite weeks after he publicly announced Michigan was his leader. Michigan is in on two of those players, OL Jean Delance and LB Dontavious Jackson.]
Etc.: Congresspersons acquire free tickets to college sporting events. Jabrill Peppers is Naughty By Nature's nephew? Did we know this? Ann Arbor best college town, put it on the mantle next to all the other ones. Illinois promotes Ryan Cubit, son of Bill Cubit, to OC. Michigan pays its assistants a lot. Smart Football back and popping. Citrus advanced stats tale of the tape.
Early entry tea leaves. In a welcome change, Michigan has a number of underclassmen good enough to consider entering the NFL draft. This, unfortunately, brings with it the possibility that some of these folks will actually enter said draft. A brief rundown:
- Jake Butt said he would definitely come back if he wasn't projected to go in the top three rounds. Mel Kiper has him the second tight end available and NFL Draft Scout just posted a mock in which he is a third rounder, which seems low. Butt told reporters that "it's 50/50" yesterday. More encouragingly, he listed many reasons for a return and a desire to talk to Harbaugh about what he should do. [UPDATE: Butt tweeted he'd be back.]
- After a confusing interval in which Chris Wormley deflected questions about not returning for a fifth year, he apparently told reporters he would "definitely" be back.
- Jourdan Lewis offered up another tweet indicating he would return next year. He is doing his homework. QED. And another after some radio person urged him to go—said radio person, Mike Sullivan, is the producer of Michigan's IMG pregame show. Excellent career move, Mike.
- Willie Henry has not been heard from on this front. He is currently under the radar to NFL draft sites but if he wants to go he will get drafted at some point. There have been some rumblings that he would look to go if he met a certain threshold in his draft projections.
Michigan has several other draft-eligible players with remaining eligibility but none seem like serious threats to leave. The O/U on departures is set at 1.
In other Jourdan Lewis news. He is a first-team All-American to USA Today, which I now like better than the Thorpe committee until the next time I have to evaluate my relative preference for things based on my pre-existing opinions.
We are hungry for things. Michigan sold out its bowl allotment in hours.
Our bowl tickets allotment is officially sold out. Thank YOU, fans, for doing your part! Can’t wait to see you down in Orlando! #GoBlue
— Michigan Football (@umichfootball) December 8, 2015
This is why they always get the top spot they could possibly get picked for. Michigan also implemented a system where fans could reserve bowl tickets for specific games and not others earlier this year, so they probably had a big head start on moving through those tickets. Even so… dang. I didn't know that was even a possibility any more.
Let's check in on Rutgers. The New York Times notices that Rutgers exists for a brief moment:
With the coach went the university’s athletic director, who never entirely recovered from suspicions that Rutgers had failed to vet her hiring two years ago. That was to replace the previous athletic director, who was fired along with the basketball coach after a video, looped repeatedly on national television, backed up allegations that the coach verbally and physically abused players — and that Rutgers had known about it.
And the bad news may not be over: The university is investigating whether the athletic department ignored its own policy requiring the dismissal of players who fail drug tests, as one told prosecutors after his arrest.
What a good organization to admit to the Big Ten. Rutgers doesn't get a full cut until 2021, which will be just in time for the league to kick them out in a world where the cable bundle has evaporated into countless disparate streams. Is there another article about that now?
No amount of wishing upon a star at the Disney offices in Burbank or the ESPN offices in Bristol, Connecticut, can hold back the forces of consumer choice that the Internet has unleashed. As a cable industry executive put it to Sports Business Daily recently, “The cost of goods is going up and sales are going down…that’s not a good trend.”
Every participant in the sports economy—franchise owners, athletes, programming networks, cable companies, and even the fans themselves—have benefitted from this broadband version of the hide-the-ball trick. That big fat $100 average household cable bill that everyone pays has served as a siphoning conduit of cash forcibly flowing from fan and uninterested non-fan alike.
The brazen economics of modern sports are being revealed and dismantled by the Internet, and the coming fumble-pile of desperate industry participants should make for some great viewing. That’ll be bad news for $30 million-a-year over-the-hill third basemen, the greater fools who pay them, and the unknowingly subsidized superfans who love them.
This is probably a good joke. I don't understand econ jargon, but those of you who do may enjoy this tweet.
(Ryan marrying our Econ stats teacher) Priest: Do you take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife? Ryan: I fail to reject
— Graham Glasgow (@gglasgow61) December 8, 2015
I hope this was a good tweet.
I was going to put this in the mailbag but it took so long to read this that I had to go have a lie down. A reader asked for an opinion on a very long meditation on "access" going the way of the passenger pigeon by John Herrmann of the Awl.
If you're unfamiliar with Herrmann, I mostly come across him when he writes exhaustingly nihilist pieces about the changes the internet is forcing on content providers. (He recognizes this: "The Content Wars is an occasional column intended to keep a majority of Content coverage in one easily avoidable place.") They are full of bloopers from robotics competitions repurposed into depressing metaphor gifs. Each accurately diagnoses something going on and collapses, like the robots, into a pile of loathing at the end. This one is no exception.
But, yes, access. It's difficult to find the summarizing quote to pull in a piece that's seemingly UFR length. I guess here's this bit on sports:
A world in which the NFL doesn’t need TV would be a world in which the NFL really doesn’t need a traditional outside press corps. To that end, perhaps, ACE is a new media company created by the NFL Players’ Association that hopes to succeed by “leveraging… exclusive group player rights and access to more than 1,800 active players to produce compelling sports-lifestyle content focused on athletes.” This month, a player for the Jets is suggesting to reporters, apropos of not very much, that reporters have too much access to players in the NFL, which is arguably the most restrictive league in professional sports. Also this month, when Kobe Bryant announced his retirement, he didn’t give an exclusive to a reporter who had covered him for years, or to Sports Illustrated, or to anyone. He published it as a personal post on the Player’s Tribune, a first-person platform for athletes founded by Derek Jeter and open to all major sports. (NASCAR? Sure!) The rest of the sports media, again, wrote its stories anyway.
A lot of the handwringing over loss of access strikes me as ludicrous. What's being removed is not really access but "access," that fiction in which a person of interest pretends to give something so a writer can pretend to critically evaluate the thing the person of interest said. When Rasheed Wallace blew that fiction up a lot of people got really mad:
And I guess if your job consists of surrounding the things that other people said with some sentences to link them together that would be a… actually, wait. "Both teams played hard" makes your job easy. Getting mad at that is not about whether your ability to do your job has been compromised, it's getting mad at Rasheed Wallace for yanking away the curtain on the City Animals presser you've been having for decades.
Back when MGoBlog stuck its toe into the access pool it felt like a trap. It still feels like a trap, because if someone gives you something they can take it away. Relying on access is like relying on Twitter's API—you can make the best third-party client in the world but Twitter's going to pick a winner and then you're going to die if you're not that winner. Then Twitter's going to buy that winner because if they're picking a winner, Twitter seems like a pretty good one.
So we have access, but we don't rely on it. Of late Adam's gotten some one on one time at media availabilities and used it to get some interesting stuff. We'd miss it if it was gone. But it wouldn't kill us.
If you are in business with someone who can kill you with no repercussions to themselves, you are on death row. Some people figure this out and go become lawyers. Some don't.
Michigan, and colleges in general, are less likely to cut people off like the NFL is definitely, definitely going to do in the near future. They are (mostly) public institutions with a point of view on press freedoms (sort of) subject to FOIA. But that doesn't change the fundamental law content in the internet age: be the quote, not the quoter.
Etc.: A list of all the weird and unfortunate things that happened while Cody Kessler was at USC is a very long list. Chad Catt looked pretty good in the second half of the Saturday Wisconsin game. Doyle is sweaty.
Heiko sings the hits! Remember Heiko? Used to badger Al Borges about bubble screens, was Adam before Adam was Adam. Currently turning in his Punt/Counterpunt column about sixty seconds before I want to post it. Draftageddon chaos agent. That guy. Doctor guy.
Well, if you'd like to see him sing(?), that is now a thing you can do. The med students have this charity, you see:
Every winter, Galens members don red ponchos, grab metal buckets, and take to the streets of greater Ann Arbor to collect monetary donations for the children of Washtenaw County. Held on the first weekend of December since 1927, Tag Days has become an important Ann Arbor tradition and occupies a central role in Galens' mission to support local children's charities. Galens members annually raise tens of thousands of dollars, with 100% of the collected money donated directly to local organizations and charities.
Last year they raised over 75k via various methods including people throwing coins at med students for singing*, and you can do this by THROWING COINS at HEIKO in front of Gratzi from about FOUR O'CLOCK TODAY to MIDNIGHT.
Or you could just donate here if you don't want to throw quarters at Heiko for some reason. Weirdo.
*[This is an assumption, but I'm sure you'll agree it is a good one.]
Things that happened. Ross Fulton breaks down events that transpired on Saturday.
Meyer and Warinner borrowed a page from Utah and Indiana. Both offenses had success outside against Michigan's cover 1-man defense by forcing Wolverine defenders with contain responsibilities to cover receivers while the offense runs outside, and by using spread read principles to outnumber a Michigan defense with a deep safety.
Meyer's staff used a similar strategy. Frequently using two tight ends - with one aligned as a blocking slot receiver - the Buckeyes' success began with power read. On power read the offensive line blocks power, but - rather than kicking out the defensive end - the quarterback reads the end. If he crashes, the quarterback gives on the sweep. If the end stays wide the quarterback runs power following the pulling guard.
With Michigan using a common opponent tactic - slanting towards Ezekiel Elliott to limit tight zone - Ohio State ran outside opposite the slant, providing Elliott a running lane beyond the crashing end.
When Michigan prevented this from happening again it opened up JT Barrett on the inverted veer, because Michigan took a basic and completely predictable approach to dealing with the OSU run game. Michigan changed nothing except occasionally running a 3-3-5. It was incredibly frustrating to see inverted veer gash Michigan over and over again as if the Wolverines had no idea it would be coming. On the above play they have not one but two 100% irrelevant players, as the backside corner and safety aren't blocked but can't do anything about the gain.
Durkin spent the entire year running the same defense predicated on decisively winning DL matchups, and when that was not true his answers were miserably bad. The final drive of regulation for Indiana saw Michigan passively eat run after run without reacting; this game was as if the last 15 years of football had never happened.
Let's not change anything. Iowa is 12-0, which is not something even Kirk Ferentz's family saw coming. Spencer on the power of doing nothing at all:
Iowa football never changed, and needed to badly, at least from the perspective of someone looking at the long decline of the program into a 7-6 stasis interrupted by bumps into 11-2 and drops into 4-8 territory. The Hawkeyes had become an EKG of a drunk man falling into a deep and dreamless sleep. This drunk man was also hypothermic and sleeping under a bridge.
Then in 2015, that drunk man woke up, found a flawlessly tailored suit under a concrete overhang beneath that bridge, downed a bottle of Steel Reserve, and walked into the nearest investment bank and become a confident, beaming tycoon overnight.
Iowa should have changed everything, and didn't. They're undefeated despite doing few things they haven't done for years. You didn't think they could do it, but they did. Iowa, the laziest hard-working team in America, wore the same shirt until it came back into style.
So if DJ Durkin runs that defense against OSU for the next 12 years it might work the 12th time. That's the ticket.
Veni, vici, Harbaugh. Jim Hackett is stepping down as Michigan's athletic director. He never did get the Notre Dame series back, but other than that probably impossible thing he hit 1.000 in a brief tenure as Michigan's athletic director.
Hackett decided he should hire Jim Harbaugh. Also he got Harbaugh. This seems like a rather obvious thing to do. But as we saw with the previous athletic director, sometimes people in charge of things are just in charge of them for no reason. Hackett, above all, was a solid dude acting sensibly.
I have heard that Hackett was close to exclusively focused on the big-ticket items, which was the right move for him and Michigan. Unfortunately that did mean that the department's Brandon-imparted momentum continued in various ways. The hockey schedule, accepting the worst possible basketball tournament for fans, and lingering Special K issues, particularly at Yost, irked me over the past 12 months. Hackett also paid virtually no attention to non-revenue sports. This is again fine for someone who is trying to get a few big-picture things right, but none of it is great for the long term.
Baumgardner wrote a column with a pithy headline:
Jim Hackett steadied Michigan's ship, but next AD must be able to steer it
Steering the ship. Michigan should be properly chagrined by their decision to pass on the actual athletic directors their department had spawned last time. Anyone other than the four sitting ADs that came from the pre-Brandon department would be an enormous upset. Those gentlemen:
- Warde Manuel, AD, UConn. Previously the AD at Buffalo, where he hired Turner Gill for those two years where Buffalo was not terrible. At UConn hired Kevin Ollie, which was a given after a national title, and Bob Diaco after taking a swing at Pat Narduzzi.
- Jeff Long, AD, Arkansas. Hired Bert out from under Wisconsin, which is pretty impressive. Also hired Bobby Petrino away from the Falcons, which was a good idea until it really really wasn't. Cofopoff chair.
- Brad Bates, AD, Boston College. Is, uh, at Boston College? Before he was at Miami and helped acquire Enrico Blasi and a new arena for the Redhawks. BC Interruption take here if you're inclined.
- Joe Parker, AD, Colorado State. The favorite candidate of many people who worked in the department when he was around. Recommended by most of the Brandon-initiated Michigan Athletic Department Diaspora. Only one year as an AD but has held posts just below that level for a decade.
Former Oregon State AD Bob De Carolis was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 2011 and resigned from his post in 2015. While Hackett brought him on as a consultant that probably doesn't indicate he's a serious candidate for the job.
Oh, and Tom Lewand's free! Anybody? Anybody other than Mark Snyder? Nobody? That appears to be nobody signing up for a guy with zero AD experience, but plenty of hiring Jim Caldwell experience. (Other staffers say he's the Lions' coach, and that the Lions are a local professional football franchise with a star-crossed reputation.)
I haven't heard much buzz on the search yet but a few months ago I did get a note that Manuel was probably the favorite.
Linebackers to be coached. Chris Partridge will pick up linebacker duties for the bowl game. This allows him to go on the road in the absence of Durkin, which is a good thing.
Given the way the release is phrased it doesn't seem like he's getting a position coaching slot permanently—or at least that's not the plan right now. Keeping Partridge for another year or two before he does move onward and upward is a good thing, especially with Michigan having most of New Jersey on lock.
Stats to be goggled at. Michigan features twice in a PFF column on crazy stats, and this is the craziest:
Even though [Jake] Rudock has had an underwhelming season, he has one thing going for him. He leads the country in accuracy under pressure at 71.4 percent. That’s especially surprising considering he was ranked 40th last year in the same category at 56.8 percent. It’s not a small sample size either. Only nine quarterbacks have had more snaps under pressure than Rudock.
I guess "underwhelming" is a thing you could say about Rudock's 2015 if you are not a Michigan fan. If you are a Michigan fan he's the guy holding onto your hand as you reach for the Holy Grail in a crevasse. Also, his first half was indeed very underwhelming. His finish not so much.
Related: I thought Michigan's pass protection was more or less good this year, what's the deal with all the pressures?
Chris Wormley (DT, Michigan) is having the best pass-rushing season by a defensive tackle in the last two years.
Wormley is the definition of a pass rushing specialist. On every one of the 269 plays that he has lined up as a defensive tackle the opposing offense has passed the ball. On every pass play, Wormley has rushed the passer. … Wormley currently leads the country in PFF’s signature stat, pressure percentage (PRP) at 12.3. … The senior from Ohio has improved tremendously from last season. His current grade of +35.8 is over 25 points higher than is 2014 grade. He has graded positively in every game except last week’s game against Ohio State where he struggled with his run defense.
When I saw that I thought to myself "he's a defensive end, not a DT," but they cover that in the paragraph on him.
I think the way PFF is crediting rushes here is generous to Wormley. He benefited from the pile of stunts Michigan ran—without question the best thing Durkin did this year is base his pass rush on constant stunting—and in UFR I've started splitting credit between the guy who drives the lane open and guy who loops around for the glory. Wormley did have a major breakout season, don't get me wrong, but Michigan's ability to pressure was a team thing in which all three DT/DE types contributed about equally.
Etc.: NC State highlights. Holdin' The Rope on the game. Texas key plays. UT take on that game. Walton's issue a "slight ankle sprain"; exhale. Kansas still has a student athletics fee. Love Moritz McGary. The Big Ten has a big rights package coming up.
Peppers Peppers Peppers Peppers. Nick Baumgardner about one of the pressing issues of The Game:
Paging Mr. Peppers
It's officially time to empty the tank. Michigan can't afford to save anyone's legs for a potential game next week, because, well, there may not be a game next week. And that means any type of Jabrill Peppers pitch count likely gets tossed out the window. Harbaugh dropped a little nugget in passing Monday about Peppers' ability as a running back, going so far to say he's going to have to think rather hard about how Michigan's multi-faceted athlete is best used on the roster. Maybe Harbaugh's actually talking about next season, or maybe he's planting another seed in Ohio State's head.
We had a caller on MGoRadio ask a similar question about Peppers's deployment. Neither Ace or I thought you could sacrifice him on defense in either the short or long term. In the short term, Michigan's about to face a team that has a heavy QB run game and will test the edge in various ways. In the long term, Peppers is going to figure out coverage and be an all-around terror.
But: I might be inclined to steal some snaps on D with Peppers out of the lineup if that meant he could get more action on offense. They've already offloaded kick returns to Jourdan Lewis with great success; I might be amenable to Peppers leaving on passing downs against OSU as Michigan plays Stribling/Clark/Lewis on the corner. Anything else and I think you have to have him in there.
HYPE VIDEO. This is A+ work here.
The Banner Incident. Can you imagine the reaction if this was to happen today?
It was on this day (November 24) in 1973 the Ohio State Buckeyes performed one of the most heinous acts in any rivalry, in any sport – they went after the sacred GO BLUE M CLUB SUPPORTS YOU banner.
If you aren’t aware of this, or have been living under a rock, I have created a YouTube Video that documents this act, one which legendary broadcaster Bob Ufer decried that the Buckeyes “will meet a dastardly fate here for that!”
The the Buckeyes returned in 1975 word was that Woody wanted to do it again, but this time the Michigan Students were ready. The Buckeyes decided that discretion was the better part of valor, so no dastardly shenanigans ensued.
Twitter would roll over and die. Apparently they tried it again in 1977! We do have some spicy rival business of recent vintage thanks to Marcus Hall, so there's that. I appreciate OSU's willingness to come out and be dastardly before or during a game. Really adds something to the proceedings, unlike MSU's current student-taunting tradition.
An oral history of The Guarantee. Featuring this much more effective way to ice the kicker:
Frantz: In my mind, if I make that field goal, I'm the governor of Ohio. That's how big it would have been. When I was teaching myself to kick in the backyard, my father would literally say, "This is to win the Michigan game." I had no doubt in my mind that I wanted a chance to make the field goal.
I trotted out on the field, set my tee on the ground and looked at my holder, Scott Powell. Then I heard the referee blow his whistle for a timeout. It was a TV timeout, which meant it was an extended timeout. I looked around and saw a hundred thousand people and realized they were focused on me.
Just before the timeout was over, I looked over and saw Bo Schembechler about three-quarters of the way out on the field. He was screaming, "Frantz, you little s---, you're going to miss this kick!" He was going nuts, and his coaches were trying to hold him back. People ask me all the time if icing the kicker works. I tell them, "Well, in my case it did." It was a perfect snap and a perfect hold, but I hooked it a couple of feet left. There's no explanation and no excuse.
This is why I want to fight anyone who brings up whether a coach is "classy" or not. Hypocrisy, malfeasance, punting in plus territory: I'm listening. Whether a guy drops too many f-bombs or, in Woody's case, is constantly plotting ways to assassinate someone does not register.
Never has a mascot fight video been more accurate. I like the hat, too.
A man who remembers his promises. Posted to reddit, Jim Harbaugh gets a letter from a Michigan fan, Harbaugh asks her to meet for the PSU game, and kapow:
It's not surprising, but it's a little surprising even so.
Exit Les. Les Miles is about to be out of a job at LSU:
Les Miles' tenure at LSU may be coming to an end, according to a highly ranked source involved with the decision-making process.
A decision on his future is likely to come in the very near future, with many Tiger Athletic Foundation (TAF) members ready to move on and start a new era in Baton Rouge. The $15 million-dollar buyout clause that is in Les Miles' contract is what many perceive as one of the bigger hang-ups in making a move.
However, TAF, the athletic program's booster club that funds a lot of the athletic programs for LSU, will not allow the buyout issue to thwart its plans, according to a high-ranking source.
Even before LSU's dispiriting loss to Ole Miss, their equivalent of a regent actually said to an actual newspaper actually on the record that if Miles won out "that complicates it." Now that he's lost one of them he's a dead man walking. At this point there are multiple independently-sourced reports from just about everyone that covers LSU; despite a 15 million dollar buyout Les's demise is imminent.
On the one hand, that's a quick trigger finger. Miles is just one year removed from a string of 10-win seasons. On the other, he went 8-5 last year and is currently 4-3 in the SEC. He is a CEO head coach who lost John Chavis. He's never hired an OC who has done much other than run a basic set of plays and waste prodigious WR talent. He's a Cooper-esque 2-7 against Saban. LSU fans assume they'll just sweep up most of the massive talent base LSU sits on no matter who the coach is. Miles is 62; things probably don't get better from here.
I'd can him if I was magically placed in charge of LSU, but I'd can just about anybody short of Harbaugh if I thought I could get Tom Herman.
None of this really impacts Michigan—I don't think M was even peripherally involved with anyone LSU is recruiting this year—but Miles will be an interesting name for a lot of mid-level schools. He'll be cheap for the same reason Jedd Fisch is cheap for Michigan this year (a big buyout), and he's got a long and mostly successful track record. While I think hiring him would be a bad idea, a lot of bad ideas are brought to life. Could he end up at, say, Illinois?
On the other hand, if LSU is actually targeting these guys… Names for the LSU job include the Usual Suspect and lolwut:
"Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher is the main target for many foundation members; with names like Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney, TCU head coach Gary Patterson and even former NFL coach Jon Gruden being tossed around as well."
"Jimbo, Dabo: you have both proven that the winner of the FSU-Clemson game will easily be a playoff entrant should the rest of the season break correctly. You are paid exorbitantly well. But forget all that and play Alabama every year just to get out of your division. Sound good?
"Jimbo Fisher to LSU" is going to be this year's "Saban to Texas," a coaching rumor that will never do anything except line Jimmy Sexton's pockets.
Taco Charlton self-portrait. Via the Players' Tribune:
I don't have anything clever to say. I just wanted you to see it.
This isn't a great way to do it. The Big Ten wants to reduce the age at which you can start college hockey without burning years of eligibility from 21 to 20, and they've taken the matter direct to the NCAA without even stopping by college hockey to check. The obvious reason why:
In a memo obtained by College Hockey News, college hockey coaches voted 49-11 in a straw poll against the legislation. That poll has no bearing on the NCAA vote, but it demonstrates the mindset of the college hockey community as a whole. The specific 11 to vote for it is unclear, though six are presumed to be the Big Ten coaches.
Everybody except the Big Ten and a smattering of bluebloods (dollars to donuts "yes" voters outside the Big Ten include North Dakota, BC, Notre Dame, and BU) hates the idea. The rest of that article is everyone arguing self-interested positions that are obvious.
The Big Ten's hope is that by taking it direct to the NCAA the larger body will look at an outlying sport and try to bring it closer to the line all other sports take. With the league looking like hot butt—just one program, Michigan, is even on the NCAA bubble a third of the way through the season—this looks like an attempt to not be hot butt that doesn't involve firing the various terrible coaches in the league.
Special demerit to NMU head coach Walt Kyle for this take:
"A lot of these schools right now, and I'm not naming names, are doing everything in their power to push the scales in their favor," Northern Michigan coach Walt Kyle said. "A lot of these guys should be embarrassed. They want NCAA (tournament) games on home campus sites. Why is that?"
Because neutral sites have been a financial and public relations disaster that holds back all of college hockey. Because single-elimination playoff hockey is inherently ridiculous and even more so when it's been played in an empty AHL building. It's unclear why Kyle even cares about this at all since he's managed to acquire one tourney bid in the thirteen years he's been head coach.
This isn't a good look by the Big Ten but if Kyle's opinion is representative it's the main reason college hockey has the worst playoff in sports. In that case, all these guys can get bent.
Happily ever after. I think it all worked out for the best, really.
— Alex Cook (@_ac616) November 24, 2015
Everyone ended up where they should be.
Doubtful. MSU will try to get Ed Davis a sixth year, which will require some proof that Davis was legitimately injured as a freshman. Survey says not likely since he was the scout team player of the week twice:
2011 SEASON: Redshirted . . . named Scout Team Defensive Player of the Week vs. Minnesota . . . selected Scout Team Special Teams Player of the Week vs. Central Michigan.
Coaches try but the NCAA is usually pretty strict in these departments. Michigan is apparently going to try to get a redshirt for Mario Ojemudia, but I very much doubt that will come off either.
Etc.: Spencer on deceased rugby force of nature Jonah Lomu is worth your time. Not looking so hot at Penn State right now. Jake Rudock is Jarrod Wilson? Basketball will change its starting lineup, no doubt starting at the five. Charlie Strong is about two-thirds of the way down the RichRod road. Steve Everitt's bandana.
Bo with children. Bo passed away nine years ago today. Spurred by a classic old-timey photo posted by Steve Lorenz, a couple of readers passed along adorable pictures of Bo not yelling at them about their pad level despite his constant desire to do so:
— LTA2891 (@LTA2891) November 17, 2015
— Ryan Schreiber (@Ryan_Schreiber) November 17, 2015
Meanwhile, the legend lives on.
Wow. Feel like we've seen this live... https://t.co/qJJBRKVMFZ
— Wilton Speight (@WiltonSpeight) November 17, 2015
If any school can do it, it's Michigan. PFF lists Jourdan Lewis as one of their alternate-universe-where-everyone-pays-close-attention-to-tape Heisman candidates:
Jourdan Lewis, CB, Michigan: +21.7
Key stat: Only three cornerbacks have been targeted more, and he has still only allowed 274 yards in his coverage.
Like Bosa, Lewis is hurt by playing on defense, particularly when he doesn’t have any game breaking returns to catch your attention. That being said, you won’t find a better cover corner in all of college football, and he is right up there with the other four players listed as one of the best players in the country. Lewis has been targeted 72 times in coverage, which seems foolish for opposing quarterbacks, especially when you consider he has given up just 26 receptions for 274 yards and one touchdown over the course of the year. He’s allowed more than 40 receiving yards in a single game just once all year, and has come away with two interceptions and 14 pass breakups. There was a three-game span against UNLV, BYU and Maryland where he allowed just three receptions for six yards while picking off one pass and breaking up five more.
Those numbers are bonkers. Michigan's inability to generate turnovers has got to be mostly luck when they're getting so many hands on opposition passes. Those translate to INTs at a fairly consistent rate and Michigan is way below par there; meanwhile they've recovered one opposition fumble all year. I can't imagine what their numbers would be like if they had the same level of fortune that Hoke's first team did.
In other grading things. PFF did the Indiana game, giving Jake Rudock a monster +9.2. Certain defenders didn't do so hot:
Michigan’s run defense was exposed for the first time this season, but it wasn’t because they were overpowered on the line. No, the Wolverine’s defense looked completely lost trying to maintain gap control against the Hoosier’s stretch plays. Michigan’s defensive line likes to fire off straight upfield at the snap. This works great against downhill runs like inside zone where they had great success Saturday. But versus outside zone firing upfield creates very wide running lanes when one defensive tackle flows down the line of scrimmage and another one doesn’t. The poor discipline made the job extremely difficult on Michigan’s linebackers. Matthew Godin (-5.3) and Joe Bolden (-3.6) were the two that struggled the most.
I'm through the first half-zillion Indiana plays and that is very much on point. Michigan is slanting with a backside blitz a ton and still not getting their guys to the correct gaps way way too often. Michigan quickly adapted to all the stretch plays tactically but the backup DTs were unable to execute, and Hurst suffered quite a bit as well.
Bolden… Bolden is not getting a good UFR number. I do not understand why Ben Gedeon isn't getting way more time.
Scoring is up 7% over the first weekend last season. Pace is up 5% and efficiency is up 2%. It’s not 1975-style basketball, but for at least one weekend we turned the clock back to 1995 when it wasn’t unusual to see a team crack 100 on the daily scoreboard.
Fouls are up slightly, as are threes (with no decrease in shooting percentage). Twos are more accurate. The main caveat I would suggest is that years with rules changes that include "call the game like the rulebook says" often start out with a bunch more fouls and then refs swallow their whistles as the stakes rise. The last attempt to crack down on obstruction of movement petered out by midseason. Hopefully this one sticks, but I'm not getting out my victory epaulettes just yet.
FWIW, the NCAA put out a video about what the rules entail:
It's nice that the official voice of the NCAA is decrying MSU's brand of footsketball, at least. John Gasaway on the new regime:
One paradox or spiritual kinship shared by basketball and baseball alike is that invariably many of the sports’ most consequential “reforms” consist of nothing more than a renewed commitment to enforcing the rules as already written. Screens really do have to be stationary, and bumping a cutter or displacing a player off the block really is a violation. So it is that in the coming days it will be said that it’s precisely this newfound strict constructionist attitude that’s resulted in all these darn fouls that are suddenly being called. Indeed the NCAA itself is already sounding this alarm. In its video the organization channels its inner Clubber Lang and says its prediction is pain: “At times the fans and media will not like the number of fouls being called, but we must stay the course and call the rules as written in the rule book.”
I don’t doubt for a moment that officials will signal their seriousness in November by minting free throws left and right, but it bears repeating that justice can be furthered by a no-call just as it can be by a whistle. Enlarging the charge circle could, one hopes, increase the prevalence of swallowed whistles, while the NCAA’s professed wish to stop rewarding “offense-initiated contact” will be nothing less than a no-call godsend if it comes to pass. I don’t want to see a foul called on Melo Trimble (just to pick a name purely at random), but a no-call the next time he flings himself like a horizontal missile into the chest of the nearest vertical-cylinder-inhabiting defender would most definitely be a just result.
One note from the Elon game: the refs appeared to blow one egregious example of offense-initiated contact when a Fightin' Christian jumped unnaturally into Walton to draw a foul.Otherwise I thought that game was well officiated aside from the usual slate of block/charge calls that nobody can ever figure out.
Is this how you do it? "Not quite." How about now? "Still not really there." Surely now? "For chrissakes can you stop looking like a serial killer experiencing afterglow for like 30 seconds?"
Henson. Via WH:
Willie Taggart has had a nice turnaround year at USF. If he were to be let go at any point, Taggart would be very much on Harbaugh's radar to fill hypothetical holes on his staff, but better to see him succeed.
Charlie Strong to Miami rumors get their first credible support as Bruce Feldman says he's heard it is a possibility. Michigan is competing with Texas for a number of recruits including Jordan Elliott and Jean Delance.
The remarkable laziness of the Baylor offense. Steve Smith storytime from Sap. IU fans are sick of being #CHAOSTEAM, but what choice do they have? Five Factors from Punt John Punt. Grandson of Gerald Ford coming to play lacrosse. CFB is slightly slower than it was last year. Vincent Smith gardening in Flint. "I think it’s the bear, and I think Houma comes in second with tattoos.”