at least it's not just us?
Training day. AnnArbor.com talks with Brandon Graham about his prep for the NFL combine. Includes interview segments with Graham and a look inside what Barwis's program is like. Graham also makes a huge array of pained faces:
Graham's running 4.58 40s and doing linebacker drills. I feel a RBUAS piece referencing this video in the future.
In other NFL draft news, Zoltan Mesko is interviewed by the Boston Herald and references a name from the past you might be surprised is hanging around the program again:
“I thought he [Pats special teams coach Scott O'Brien] was very knowledgeable in the special teams game,” Mesko continued. “I know we have our own Michigan guy that takes special teams really seriously, Pierre Woods, and basically, I never knew… When Pierre came back this past month, he’s training up at Michigan again to stay in shape, the amount of knowledge he’s picked up from the special teams coach there is unbelievable. You can really make or break yourself as a linebacker… you’re going to play special teams at that level.”
Woods got in some trouble after a breakout sophomore year and barely hung on with the program after that; many people believe that's where Michigan's rift with the Glenville program that pumps out players year after year started.
Hunwick! After last night's hockey game I bet my friend a dollar that Shawn Hunwick would get the first star despite not facing much in the way of scoring chances, or even shots, from Notre Dame. Lo, it was so. That capped what was probably the best game at Yost all year, a 4-0 win over Notre Dame that saw loveable tiny walk-on get (split) a shutout and two of the four seniors score. Carl Hagelin even added the sort of pretty goals that have been sorely lacking all year when he danced around an ND defenseman and set up Matt Rust for a slam-dunk on a two on one.
Hogan, who has made 41 straight starts in net, is listed as doubtful for Saturday's regular-season finale at Notre Dame.
I know I've been pretty down on Hogan of late—so has Red—but Hunwick's a 5'7" walk-on. That's a major blow.
Michigan is now sixth in the league. Four and five are done with conference play and Michigan can pass them with a win Saturday. If Northern gets five points or more out of their weekend (ie: win both nights and win one in regulation) against Lake State, they'll pass Michigan. Anything less and M will sneak into the fourth spot and grab the first-round bye that comes with it.
Will it matter? Eh… probably not. Unless MSU or Ferris State is upset, Michigan would reach the Joe as the lowest remaining seed and have to take out #1 Miami, a team that's lost all of two conference games this year. Doing that full strength is difficult enough, and now with Hogan questionable it's even more doubtful.
Side note: excellent work by whoever slid this game to Thursday night. I assume it was to make sure the students were present for senior day, something that's been exceedingly rare for a long time. Usually the students are on break and senior night is a flat affair.
Recruiting cavalcade. This didn't get mentioned in Thursday Recruitin'—which we promise will return to Wednesday when things are less insane—but this weekend Michigan is hosting a massive "Showcase" for high school recruits at Oosterbaan and Newsterbaan. They're not officially involved because they can't be, but having what seems like half of the Midwest's big recruits take an unofficial visit to Michigan's shiny new practice facility can't hurt.
Scout has a couple lists of all the folk coming in. Prepare for the begats. Notable names include MI RB Justice Hayes, MI WR DeAnthony Arnett, commit Shawn Conway, OH WR AJ Jordan, MI LB Lawrence Thomas, OH LB Antonio Poole, 2012 MI LB James Ross, commit Greg Brown, commit Delonte Hollowell, MI WR Valdez Showers, MI OL Anthony Zettel, OH OL Chris Carter, OH OL Aundrey Walker, IL OL Chris Bryant, and many others. It's like a super-massive junior day on Michigan's campus, the equivalent of getting a NIKE camp. The difference: NIKE camps are rare appearances and this is going to happen every year.
I'll be most interested to see how the current Michigan commits do. Zettel's already torn up a lineman camp and seems like he'll be an easy four-star, but Hollowell, Brown, and Conway haven't been to a senior camp yet IIRC and this will be a first read on where they'll end up in the rankings.
Expansion dampening? Yes, another Big Ten expansion article. This one has a couple of interesting quotes about the issue of buying into the Big Ten Network. New members are probably going to have to operate at a lower revenue level to start:
"You just don't jump into the league and get a full share of what everyone else in this league has established over time," Alvarez said. "I think someone has to buy their way into the league." …
"We've created such an asset in the Big Ten channel," Outgoing Michigan athletic director Bill Martin said, echoing Alvarez. "I cannot see our 11 institutions simply saying we're going to divide our pie up into more pieces from Day 1."
That will dampen enthusiasm from potential additions, but it might not matter. This is the first time I've seen these numbers for the BTN's second year and holy crap:
But according to tax forms the nonprofit conference is required to make public, it generated $217.7 million and paid each school about $18.8 million in 2007, the most recent year for which tax forms are available.
The next year, according to the Sports Business Journal, the new TV network added another $66 million to the pot. That pushed the per-team payout to about $22 million each, a figure officials from several Big Ten schools confirm remains accurate.
The next most prosperous conference, the SEC, paid its member schools about $11 million each in 2007, according to tax documents.
I'm pretty sure that latter distribution is way up since the SEC's blockbuster ESPN contract kicked in, FWIW, but I also think the SEC is going to have a static amount of money for the next 15 years; the Big Ten is half-owner of its network and will see increasing revenue shares over the course of that time.
(HT: Get The Picture.)
Yes that again. The WLA has a piece similar to the one I just posted, but when I said "I cannot emphasize enough" I was not kidding. Money grafs:
They certainly didn’t know their statements were true either. Is strongly asserting something you know could theoretically be true but might also be false a lie? If you don’t offer up any qualifications to your assertions (I didn’t see any), then I say yes, especially in the case of Rosenberg.
I suppose the best we could say about Snyder is he was totally ignorant of the subject on which he was writing and he didn’t know he was uttering falsehoods. So yay for being a dumbass, Mr. Snyder. But with Rosenberg, we know from his opinion column that he disapproves of the job Rodriguez is doing. For him to write falsehoods that also denigrate someone he disapproves of is just a bit too much of a coincidence for me to believe. Rosenberg knew what he was doing, IMO.
They lied. In the days and months to come regarding the story about “Michigan Players Practice A Lot,” let us not forget the fact that Rosenberg and Snyder lied to their readers.
To aid you in your stalking. People tend to like the occasional mentions of my personal life, so they'll love this: my fiancée's food blog. In it you will find out what I have been eating, what food-related conventional wisdom has recently been enraging in my presence, and various other bizarre things that don't have anything to do with me.
Etc.: Delany has our back, I guess.
Talkin'. I'd actually scheduled this podcast appearance at The Solid Verbal last week and the kids over there just happened to hit the news cycle jackpot. So, yeah, there's a podcast of me talking to Ty and Dan about the shoe that just dropped, Tate Forcier, the future of the program, and Admiral Ackbar.
One clarification: I was just talking extemporaneously about a question I hadn't thought about before when I mentioned that I thought Rich Rodriguez probably had an idea of what was going on with the quality control assistants. After some more research, I think that's erroneous since one of the charges is a "failure to monitor" on Rodriguez's part. "Failure to monitor" appears to be something that precludes Rodriguez knowing about the violations.
Click for go:
The upshot. This is not changing until we know what happens in 2010:
At least no one will ask this until—aw, who am I kidding.
Obligatory item in which I offer an opinion about virtually everyone acting stupid. First, Brandon Graham:
Former Wolverine Brandon Graham said he didn't experience any of the alleged violations during his time at Michigan and that the NCAA report shouldn't sour anyone's view on Rodriguez.
"Coach Rod’s a good coach, and people are just trying to get him in trouble to me," Graham said.
The obvious contrast is with Morgan Trent, who sold out the program in a statement. One: now we have a pretty good explanation for why Trent is a successful NFL player but basically sucked at Michigan. He did not like the program change and didn't put in full effort. Two: while people going "lol Trent you suck" are not covering themselves in glory, you can dump Trent in with those guys in a barrel of people I don't want to get a beer with.
Trent is symptomatic of the problems resulting from the vast culture change Rodriguez brought with him, and each former Carr guy who just can't get over the change who goes out the door or transfers before their time is one more scholarship not being wasted. Trent doesn't know anything about the exact specifics of what GAs and QC assistants are allowed to do and didn't know that stretching time was CARA. He's just talking out of his ass because he dislikes RR, and I hereby excommunicate him.
Additional random takes. Some other takes I missed yesterday. ESPN's Adam Rittenberg:
Michigan will be hit with some penalties, and "major violations" are possible. But these allegations don't seem to be overly extreme, despite some harsh language in the report. Michigan could be hit with probation or scholarship losses, and it will need to be more careful on these issues going forward. I'll repeat what I've said all along: Rich Rodriguez's fate ultimately comes down to whether or not he wins games, not what the NCAA decides in August.
The Detroit News's John Niyo:
In the end, I'd guess a quality-control staffer probably will lose his job, and changes surely are in store for the compliance department. Beyond that, maybe not much more than institutional embarrassment, which is no small price to pay at Michigan.
But the real change better start with Rodriguez, who has to know the new athletic director, while offering his support privately and publicly, also is reserving final judgment.
The difference between the two papers is kind of amazing, isn't it?
Recent interviewee Compliance Guy also has a post at his home base. It's measured:
Many of Michigan’s violations involve slippery territory. Hire enough noncoaching staff members, give them enough coaching-like responsibilities, and leave them with student-athletes and these violations are bound to happen. It might sound incredulous that the coaches didn’t consider stretching and warm-up to be CARA, but other preventive measures like training room activities are not included. …
Michigan is likely not facing the same level of sanctions as USC. In addition to the absence of a lack of institutional control allegation, Michigan’s excess CARA was not the “two to three times” or “nine hour days” that the players originally alleged.
I would expect a hodgepodge of significant but not devastating penalties including reduced CARA limits (either through a shorter season or reduced hourly limits), reductions in coaching staff members, recruiting restrictions, and reductions in financial aid. That Michigan is a repeat violator might only mean a longer probation of three to four years rather than the minimum of two.
"Reductions in financial aid" means scholarship losses, but more on that in a bit.
Section With Nothing To Do With You-Know-What
So I've got all these tabs that have just… lingered since about Monday night when minor amounts of hell broke loose. Here they are.
Eeee Brandon? Dave Brandon gets a fairly massive profile in USA Today, complete with video. Random quote pulled out:
"This feels to me like just such an appropriate next step. It's leadership, but a different kind of leadership," said Brandon, 57, discussing the impending move during an interview at Domino's headquarters, a few miles from the university's main campus. "This has provided me with an opportunity to connect with a place that has been incredibly important to my life."
Seems to me that this type of progressive thought would suit a fan base like Duke’s — intelligent fans with a successful program — really well. Are you aware of any fan bases that are particularly attuned to it?
Well, it’s more anecdotal, and it’s drawing a distinction between bloggers and actual fans who I hear from. But obviously, I hear a lot from Duke and North Carolina, both because those are great combinations of A. successful programs and B. smart fan bases. I definitely hear a lot from that region of North Carolina. I think the key might be smart and impassioned fan bases, even more than successful programs, because I would also point to a community like Michigan, which has had next to nothing in the way of recent success. I hear a lot from Michigan fans — however improbably, they definitely are hip to this stuff.
Excellent work, Michigan internets. Say anything you want about us, but by God we know when to divide.
Justin Turner doom mitigation. AnnArbor.com article on Justin Turner got lost in the shuffle. In it are some reasons Turner didn't play last year that mitgate your (read: my) panic that he might not live up to his massive recruiting reputation, which would be a disaster:
“He wasn’t here in the summer lifting and going to class and doing all those things, so it’s really a few months,” Gibson said.
Once Turner got settled, he showed why he was such a well-regarded recruit.
Gibson said Turner split time between the scout team and regular defense by midseason, and coaches salivated at the thought of getting him in the rotation.
“If we’d have got him in earlier last year with the NCAA stuff, I think he’d have played a little bit,” Gibson said. “He’s a good-looking kid. There’s a lot of guys I’m anxious to see back there, but he’s one that sticks out.”
If Turner and Devin Gardner are on the field at the same time during the spring game, I'm watching Turner. That's how important he is for the program. The article mentions a possibility that Turner could end up at safety if that's the thing that seems to make the most sense, FWIW.
There is also praise for JT Floyd, but I tend to file that under the Johnny Sears rule: you talk up whoever you've got in the vague hope confidence can carry them despite your lyin' eyes.
Walkin' on. Good article in the Grand Rapids Press on walk-ons, though it misidentifies what a grayshirt is*. It highlights a physically imposing offensive tackle from Forest Hills Central who joins Baquer Sayed as Michigan preferred walk-ons who picked M over MAC offers. Meet Kristian Mateus:
It’s not the same because of the scholarship, but everybody is treated as the same player at Michigan,” said the 6-foot-8, 285-pound offensive lineman. “I feel good about that.”It’s not the same because of the scholarship, but everybody is treated as the same player at Michigan,” said the 6-foot-8, 285-pound offensive lineman. “I feel good about that.”
“Coach (Rich) Rodriguez was a walk-on himself, so he has made a commitment to make a walk-on feel as comfortable as possible,” Mateus said. “I was recruited by Michigan, took a visit there, went to camp there last summer, and it’s the place I want to be.”
Mateus had a Central Michigan offer and interest from Western Michigan and… Notre Dame? Probably not that latter but in any case sometimes you get weird breakout offensive linemen and having a MAC prospect walk-on is a non-trivial chance at a contributor.
*(Article erroneously states that a grayshirt is an early enrollee a la Devin Gardner, Ricardo Miller, and company. Those folk are usually termed early enrollees. Grayshirts are the opposite: instead of accelerating and skipping their last semester of high school, a grayshirt (usually) signs a LOI and then waits an extra semester to join the team. Sometimes they enroll, sometimes they don't. They're not on scholarship if they do.)
Etc.: I plan on front-paging these when all hell is not breaking loose, but here's FA's recap of baseball's first weekend. There is a research-heavy argument about recruiting rankings going on in the diaries. Do they matter? Not really, definitely at Michigan, only when five stars are around.
1,000 words on the basketball season. The Daily's Ariel Bond obviates the need for further comment:
For this service we thank her.
On Conway. There has been a huge e-gument in the aftermath of MI WR Shawn Conway's commitment. I'm kind of annoyed. I really hate it when a kid commits out of nowhere in February and people go nuts, pro or con. I think they go excessively negative in response to the school of mindless boosterism that regards every commitment as a victory, but often the end result is like the fights I had with my brother as a kid: I would hit him first, but not that hard. Then he would hit me back harder than was justified, so I would hit him as hard as he hit me. From there it would escalate until we were rolling around on the ground trying to bite each other's eye sockets.
In Conway's specific case, he is an in-state kid who they have seen extensively at their 7-on-7. He's 6'4" and has enormous hands. He won't turn 17 until June. His speed may be questionable—or his highlight tape might not be sped up like many are. There's a good reason he's under the radar: he didn't play until last year because of transfers and when he did get on the field it was for a poor team with a poor quarterback. This doesn't seem too similar to a Drew Dileo or Antonio Kinard because the things that held those guys back in the rankings were physical limitations. Conway has more upward mobility from a rankings perspective. Even cranky local fixture Magnus, an actual football coach, likes him.
And also: it's not like Dileo or Kinard has proven himself either way yet. Rodriguez built a good program with guys like them. At the very least it's clear they trust their own evaluations. That's a better state of affairs than this one:
"I used to go in the coaches' offices, and sometimes they would literally have Rivals.com up on their screen," said Matt Shodell, who covers UM and its recruiting for CaneSport.com. "I won't name the coaches, but they would be writing names down on pieces of paper. I don't know how much film they were looking at."
That was Miami under Coker.
This argument is a lot like people complaining in November that the class was going to have two defensive players in it.
No research necessary. Texas is apparently excluded from the short list of 15 schools the Big Ten is doing research on. Barry Alvarez:
"They basically broke down what they would bring to the table," Alvarez said at a meeting of the UW athletic board. "They talked about academics. They talked about size. They talked about size of their arenas. They talked about attendance. They talked about the populace in that specific area."
According to Alvarez that process will continue, and Big Ten Commissioner James E. Delany could make a recommendation to the university presidents this summer.
"I think it could be one (school), or I think it could be multiple." …
"In our initial study, there wasn't anything on Texas," Alvarez said.
Scale back your world domination plans where a 36-team Big Ten fights Mecha-Godzilla every January first, it seems. Alvarez also asserted that Notre Dame is not likely, though he didn't specifically mention their absence from the list of 15 teams.
On the other hand, researching Texas's suitability is a waste of time. Here is a million-dollar consultant's report on whether Texas joining the Big Ten would be a net benefit for the conference: hell yes.
Goalie acquisition. A few days ago I mentioned a potential Jack Campbell replacement, one Jeff Teglia of the USHL. Here's another kid down to Michigan and Minnesota. He is lanky Joel Vienneau of the OPJHL:
"[Michigan's] Mel Pearson saw me last weekend and he thought I played really well," the 6-3, 185-pound netminder said. "He likes my size. They haven't offered [officially] yet but they are very interested in me because they lost Jack Campbell to major juniors and have a big need."
Like Teglia, he's putting up excellent numbers. Unlike Teglia, he's playing in a league that provides questionable competition. Even so, a quick googling of both gives the impression Vienneau is the better prospect. There's the Minnesota offer, for one, and then there's a number of people on Hockey's Future insisting that the latest CSB rankings for Vienneau—29th NA goalie—are preposterous and the kid is an easy top ten prospect. While HF folk are easily mockable, there is some truth in the hive mind. The Hockey News featured him as a prospect to watch and guaranteed he'd be picked in the upcoming draft. The same guy called him out as a potential mid-round pick in an interview. A leap in the final CSBs seems assured.
Yost Built surfaced an earlier article in which Vienneau declared he was "95-99 percent likely" to end up a Gopher, but that was before Jack Campbell changed his mind and Michigan started looking around. Michigan has a big depth chart advantage. While Minnesota also has a junior starter with a questionable save percentage, Michigan's backups are walk-ons who are not threats to play. Minnesota has a sophomore who went in the fourth round of the NHL draft. Vienneau plans a visit to Michigan after his season ends and will decide then.
Elsewhere in hockey recruiting, the Cedar Rapids Gazette has a fluff piece on Roughriders teammates and Michigan commits Derek DeBlois and Mac Bennett, who have known each other since they were "tiny." They also surf. On the East Coast. So there you go. I'm curious as to whether DeBlois, currently slated for 2011, will move his enrollment up a year. There's a spot with the departure of Robbie Czarnik, and Michigan needs forwards who can put the puck in the net.
Star system… comes to hockey. College Hockey 24/7 has release a top 50 list that features a ton of incoming Michigan folk:
4. Jon Merrill
13. Mac Bennett
31. Kevin Clare
35. Luke Moffatt
37. Jacob Fallon
Michigan has the third-most names on the list with five. Minnesota has six, Notre Dame seven. Oddly, Miami is shut out and Michigan State has only one guy—goalie Willie Yanakeff is #50. Both schools are bringing in fairly hefty classes, too.
It appears that uncommitted recruits were not included, because Teglia and Vienneau are absent and it seems hard to justify Yanakeff over Teglia when Yanakeff has an .887 save percentage and Teglia has a .918 in the same league.
Etc.: UMHoops scouts Carlton Brundidge and Cody Zeller. Baseball won two against a good OVC team, lost two to Texas Tech, and lost Ryan Lamarre for "an extended period of time." I hate you so much, 2009-10. The final ice dancing competition goes down tonight; Davis and White are in second. Victor's Rally speeches from the Youtubes.
Moderate ado about nothing. So some guy sued the regents for that "informal" meeting that went down a couple weeks ago that discussed either earth-shaking sanctions or lopping off the heads of the people in compliance who screwed up the logging, depending on which probably-baseless internet speculation you prefer. Many internet lawyers have weighed in on the suit. The consensus appears to agree with this university spokesman:
University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald told the Daily the regents meeting didn't violate any regulations set forth in the Michigan Open Meetings Act.
Fitzgerald said at the time the meeting did not fall under the act because it was an “informal” meeting of the Board of Regents, not a “closed” meeting as set forth in the act.
Additionally, Fitzgerald said the meeting was not even classifiable as a meeting as defined in the act. The Michigan Open Meetings Act defines a meeting as “the convening of a public body at which a quorum is present for the purpose of deliberating toward or rendering a decision on a public policy.”
Fitzgerald said because the meeting was not subject to the act, no meeting minutes were kept.
There's also an interesting thread on the board from a guy who just had an in depth conversation with a newspaper editor who recently filed a similar suit:
a winner in this lawsuit would get access to the information and reimbursement for attorney fees. However, these cases can last months (my contact mentioned legal fees had exceeded $40k for one case) and the reason a singular person may not pursue this for the “freedom of information”. Also, it is possible a judge may not rule in your favor due to opinion on if the procedures where properly followed and you are simply out the money with no access to the meeting minutes. Again, if I have other litigation pending, maybe I take the chance. If not, I would be an idiot since, even if I believe I am 100% right, I risk that a judge does not see my side of the case. I am also either representing myself or have a lawyer doing some pro-bono work since I would not want to bankroll this.
Having just heard a significant amount of information on this type of lawsuit from my newspaper editor contact, I am curious to understand the real motivations here. I struggle with the idea that a random person who reportedly loves the program and is only motivated by that he “…hopes and prays the university officials follow the rules…”.
Even if the suit has merit, the results of the investigation are due to be announced in a month or so, long before the thing could wind its way through the courts, and the only thing it would turn up would be records of the meeting-type object that evidently don't exist.
Folk interested in who this Very Concerned Alum is need only hop in the super-stalky thread on the message board. He's a litigation-happy Granholm political appointee currently mulling a re-election bid. Media reports consistently mention his status as an "alum," but he's not really:
Education: Graduated 1997, Renaissance High School, Detroit; BA in political science, University of Michigan-Dearborn, 2002; nearly two years at Thomas Cooley Law School, Oakland University
No offense to any satellite campus alums out there, but that's like claiming you're an Illinois alum when you went to UIC.
Would this be fake? Dolphins beatwriter Armando Salguero is advocating that Miami snatch Brandon Graham at #12—something that could actually give me an NFL team to root for if Ted Ginn gets deported—and runs a quote or two from BG. This would shatter the FAKE scale if accomplished, even at a combine:
He expects to run in the 4.5s at the Indianapolis Combine next week. And he loves the idea of playing 3-4 outside linebacker.
"Oh yeah, I feel real good," Graham says about dropping in coverage. "I've been working on my hips, working on my drops every day in practice for Michigan ... With a little coaching from the NFL guys, I believe I can get it done."
Stephen Ross now owns the Fins, so if he's as terrible an owner as Daniel Snyder this is definitely happening. In other BG news, New Era scouting says the similarities between Graham and Lamarr Woodley are "almost scary."
Aw, come on now. I like Andy Staples a lot but re-ranking recruiting classes after a few years and trying to pass this off is ridiculous:
2. Boise State
Analysis: Want to know why the Broncos are such a trendy pick to bust into the BCS title game next season? …
So how did the evaluators at Rivals -- and Scout and SI and everywhere else -- so badly underestimate this class? Simple. Boise State doesn't have a huge fan base. There aren't as many potential subscribers, so, from a business perspective, it doesn't make sense to spend as much time evaluating Boise State recruits as Alabama or Texas recruits. That's probably the biggest flaw in recruiting rankings; the teams outside the traditional power structure can be vastly underestimated. Because if you look only at the teams that traditionally finish in the top 15, the rankings are usually pretty accurate.
While I agree that bigger schools get a fudge factor Boise State doesn't*, it's virtually impossible to compare this class of Bronco starters to any other because all it's shown is vast superiority to the rest of the WAC. Boise has played one BCS schools the last two years, and while the Broncos beat pretty good Oregon teams both years that is nowhere near the sort of baseline you'd need to make that sort of assertion. If Cincinnati had played TCU and Boise State played Florida, are we having this conversation?
*(If Jake Ryan had committed to Boise State does he have three stars today? Probably not.)
Going back to the inconsistent and inconveniently-located well? UMHoops and the Wolverine Blog have a two-part basketball recruiting Q&A session that's required reading if you're interested in the future of Michigan basketball. There's a lot of Zeigler talk, and most of it has the same understated foreboding I've got: I don't think he ends up at Michigan. Given that and the lack of an official offer to Jon Horford, I thought this part was the most interesting:
Would Beilein potentially look to dip into Europe for another prospect?
This is an idea that I have seen thrown around. It makes sense because Beilein has looked across the pond for talent before. At West Virginia he brought in German forward Johannes Herber, who started every game in his West Virginia career and graduated with a 4.0 GPA. A couple years back he tried to bring in Robin Benzing, a 6-foot-10 German wing but he came up one question short on the SAT.
If you were wondering, Benzing is playing well in the professional leagues in Germany and is a member of the senior German national team. His video might make you weep when you imagine him in a Michigan uniform but here’s some additional ESPN draft hype for you masochists.
Seriously: do not look into Robin Benzing if you have a hammer handy. Trust me when I say that after he couldn't get eligible at Michigan, he suffered a series of improbable injuries and is now a librarian. Under no circumstances type his name into Google. If you defy these proclamations, you are required to immediately watch this.
I might be wrong about this, but my recollection of Benzing's recruitment was that the holdup wasn't academics but his amateur standing. Though he himself had not signed a contract, he had played on teams with professionals. At the time this was a no-no in the eyes of the NCAA and a major problem for coaches looking to extract talent from Europe. By August, however, the NCAA will abolish this rule for most sports, including basketball. This will make it a lot easier to grab European kids, and since Europe specializes in 6'10" guys who play like small forwards it's a place where Beilein could make some hay. We might see Horford in limbo until Beilein takes a trip to Europe in early April.
Captain Renault. So let's say you're an unemployed Cleveland man who spends two months constructing an igloo instead of, you know, attempting to find a job. What would be totally bitchin' for the wall of your igloo?
Score one for baseless internet speculation. According to Greg Banks, the internet-wide speculation about a Ryan Van Bergen position move is on the nose:
Banks is one of a half dozen or so Wolverines who’ll play an expanded and slightly different role on Michigan’s defensive front this fall.
He said he expects Ryan Van Bergen to take over Graham’s pass-rushing defensive end spot - “I think that’s the plan,” he said - while he plays both end and tackle.
Birkett follows that up with an assertion that Mike Martin "could see time outside" if Will Campbell progresses. I assume that means three-tech DT, not defensive end, because that latter would be plain nuts. To reiterate: the move is the best bet for Michigan to have an excellent defensive line next year. RVB isn't going to be Brandon Graham but he's far better than the alternatives and moving Mike Martin to three-tech will get him one-on-one with guards he's faster than, potentially paving the way for a ton of TFLs. He'll be more effective there, and NT should be decent with the Sagesse/Campbell platoon.
For his part, Banks is up to 278 pounds, 15 or so up from last year. LaLota also comes in for some praise, but I'm betting serious playing time for him is another year off.
Vincent Smith, meanwhile, is already jogging and should have no problems returning in time for fall practice.
And then they do nothing. Internet speculation has gone from "maybe the Big Ten will add Pitt" to "in ten years only four conferences will exist and football will be played by sexy robots." I'm not sure whether this Barking Carnival post positing a 14-team Big Ten, here previously deemed completely infeasible and then met with a crazy semi-relegation proposal*, is genius or mad. Or possibly both. Check the rationale here:
Powers knows that the Big 10 universities compete individually and as a region for its fair share of the federal R&D pie and that, despite the greatness of its member universities, the Big 10 region has not faired nearly as well as the coasts. Compared to numerous universities in California and Massachusetts, several of which don’t give a second thought about college football (MIT, Cal-Davis, Cal Tech, U of San Francisco, etc), there is a rather dramatic concentration of academic R&D that is not favorable to the Midwest or Southwest. Point being, there is room for growth here, and adding two powerful Senators from Texas to the sixteen Senators representing Big 10 states is not an insignificant addition. Without Texas, the CIC universities represent the best of the rust belt. With Texas, the CIC represents the best of the middle of the country.
Wha? I'm not sure how much I buy the idea that heartland universities will have a bigger lobbying block if they're all in the same conference. The CIC happens to have all Big Ten schools and Chicago, but is it really necessary to bring along Texas's athletic programs—not like that would exactly be a downside, though—to invite them to join the CIC? It's not like the Big 12 has any leverage over the Longhorns.
Elsewhere, 14 teams i the new 11 teams. and people are coalescing around a 16-team uber conference that comes with NCAA secession. Andy Staples's version may or may not be sarcastic, but I've seen plenty of other speculation to that effect. Most of it is Bleacher Report quality and not worth linking or anything, but it's out there.
To reiterate my previously expressed stance: a college football "conference" that has more than 12 teams isn't really a conference unless it adds promotion and relegation. Static divisions are separate conferences with a weird scheduling agreement and a wildly unbalanced schedule. It would be logistically terrible.
At this point it would be fantastic if no one did anything. Too bad Tradesports imploded.
BONUS. I don't remember where I saw this, but I believe it was some random message board: if the Big Ten comes down from on high with an end result that seriously damages the Big East, isn't the Big East's best move booting Notre Dame in an attempt to force the Irish into the Big Ten? If ND was cut loose by the Big East all their other sports (save hockey) would be adrift with basically nowhere to go. At that point ND might have to swallow hard and join up.
*(Which a commenter pointed out is mathematically impossible for the same reason you can't play nine conference games in an eleven-team conference. Shame.)
Etc.: Help this pickle get more fans than Nickelback. The second half of the recruiting podcast in which I do my best Mel Kiper. Michigan's putting on a camp thing on the 28th at Newsterbaan, plugging the presence of Rivals and Scout. Seems like a clever move to get an early camp experience, maybe unearth an instate prospect or three.
Take it easy, man. An announcement: WTKA is moving towards a single drive-time host on the Big Show and it won't be me (obviously—I'm not a radio pro), so the Monday 4-6 window I've been holding down since August is kaput. I'll still be on from 9-10 on Thursdays with Ira and probably do intermittent call-ins when there's something to talk about.
Ira was worried he'd get crucified on the internets for this, so be gentle.
The switch. Cameron Gordon is officially a safety-type player:
“The coaches would always be like, ‘Come to the dark side, come to the dark side,” Gordon said.
A few weeks ago, he did.
Those were the defensive coaches, for what it's worth. Touch The Banner suggests it's not the last move for Gordon in a largely positive take:
I still think he's best suited for linebacker, particularly the weak inside linebacker position held tenuously by Jonas Mouton. Perhaps this is the next step in a slow transition to WILL, because I don't foresee Gordon having the speed to play weak safety, either. There are times in this defense where the strong safety has to roll over to play man coverage on the strong side, meaning the weak safety has to back up to play the deep middle or a deep half.
"Held tenuously" is this defense's equivalent of "magic" in the Winter Olympics. As far as the critique goes: I'm with him. If Gordon is 210 pounds now he'll probably be pushing 220 by fall, which is good for half that position's job but maybe not so good for the deep half bit. Michigan didn't have the ability to have the box safety drop into a deep zone last year and was forced to use Donovan Warren as the second guy in cover two. This exposed Michigan to those wide receiver screens that killed them all year.
I do disagree with TTB's assertion that Rodriguez hasn't shown a propensity for using the middle of the field in the passing game. Who's the number one receiver going into spring? Probably Roy Roundtree, right?
Demon Bear: the interview. Neal Rubin of the News was so moved by Demon Bear destroying everything in sight that he has a newspaper column and bonus Q&A with the developers. Unfortunately, the original video that pwned MSU, OSU, and Notre Dame has been replaced by one that obliterates Miami instead of ND, but that's life.
Anyway, the highlight from Rubin's opus is definitely this:
Jon Dorfman and Szymon Weglarski, partners in a computer animation studio called HiFi 3D, also say they've heard from other universities interested in a similar approach. "Rival mascots," explains Weglarski, "want revenge."
I thought the second bear video would be inevitably disappointing and I was wrong, so maybe Dorfman and Weglarski can continue to raise the bar with bulldog light saber fights and broncos that bore into the earth's core.
Rubin also gets an indirect answer to the question "where's Michigan?"
As a Michiganian, I felt a rush of pride when a polar bear obliterated Spartan Stadium. Any particular reason you chose MSU?
SZYMON: The rival schools were singled out by the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Apparently they're a big rival.
I get including MSU, a longtime power, and Miami and Notre Dame, the league's new hotness, but what's the deal with blowing up perpetually mediocre Ohio State? Actually, scratch that. The need to destroy Columbus is self-evident.
Save (for) us. Bob Miller of the Wolverine is running a new college hockey recruiting site and one of their recent articles is on Omaha Lancers goalie Jeff Teglia, who's currently second in the league in save percentage as a 19 year old and should be on Michigan's radar now:
"Once they landed Campbell, they lost interest, but again that's an awesome school and a great, great hockey program," Teglia said. "I'd love to go somewhere in the Midwest because that's where I'm from, but out east would work also.
Notre Dame is Teglia's "dream school," but we'll forgive him for that. ND doesn't have room for a scholarship goalie, FWIW.
Oh… right… the weekend. I didn't do a usual recap post for the petulant reason. Yost Built has one. The weekend was incredibly sloppy, with UNO provided a ton of scoring opportunities because Michigan players got excessively aggressive. My favorite was the goal Saturday night where two Michigan players checked a guy at center ice, creating one of UNO's many, many two-on-ones. Or the one on which Llewellyn turned a routine rush into a two-on-one by aggressively moving to check a guy on his partner's side of the ice and then shot the resulting cross-ice pass into his own goal. I'll just say I'm surprised Lee Moffie was a healthy scratch the last couple weekends. He drew into the lineup when Summers got knocked out for the Saturday game.
Michigan's done unless they win the CCHA tournament, which at this point means trudging through two best-of-three series, one on the road, and then beating Miami and someone else at the Joe. Chances of that: low. At least I won't spend a bunch of time figuring out all the crazy vagaries of the PWR this year.
"He made good saves, and he gave up goals he should’ve saved, simple as that," Michigan coach Red Berenson said. “There were times when he saved us, and there were times where he cost us. Four goals against is not good enough. And that’s a team thing too, but Hogie is the last line of defense." …
“There were times when he had no support and times he didn’t read the support,” Berenson said. “Like, if I know this guy (to my side) is wide open, and I’m focused on (the guy with the puck), and I’m convinced he’s going to shoot. And he passes it. I’m toast. I didn’t read it. Every time they got a two-on-one, they scored.”
That is blunt even for Red, and though I've repeatedly expressed the opinion that Hogan's save percentage is 1) bad and 2) deserved I'm surprised given the kinds of goals UNO scored, which were mostly off terrible defensive play.
Etc.: Charlie Davies is going to France to train. PSU basketball blog—good lord—Battle Does It Again has a UFR-type object for Penn State's game against the Spartans. Slate is tracking Olympic sap. I miss CBC's coverage so hard. Curling starts today, though. Michigan ice dancers go on the 19th.