chance of bowl: 13.6%
Via the Shredder.
No worries, but you'll still worry. These days there are many emails I get that fit neatly into categories. One category: "oh noes Devin Gardner!" All I can tell folk concerned that Gardner might decommit is that he is asked about the strength of his commitment every ten seconds and has not yet deviated from strongly endorsing it. Two more examples, one from MGoBlog recruiting analyst Tom VanHaaren on the twitters:
QB Devin Gardner told me tonight that the Florida rumors going around are not true. Everyone take a collective sigh of relief.
Gardner says "I'm listening to what they have to say, but I'm still solidly with Michigan" in another article from The Sporting News that notes he has no plans to visit anywhere else. As long as that remains the case, you should not panic. If he does visit, panic.
This will not dissuade hardcore worriers, but there's literally nothing short of signing a LOI—it appears that Gardner will not enroll early, unfortunately—that will do that.
HE MUST BE PUNISHED SEVERELY. I'm normally pretty libertarian when it comes to arbitrary restrictions imposed because we must Think Of The Children and care zero percent about the various MIPs and assorted citations that football players pick up when they do what everyone else in college does. Live and let die, man.
However, in this case I recommend no less than a one-game suspension:
Terrelle Pryor! At a bar! He's 20! Someone arrest him at the state line. Do it for your country.
What's with the jerkery? At this point we're forced to confront the fact that Rich Rodriguez going bust after four—or even three—years is a real possibility, so the actions of one Jim Harbaugh at Stanford are of considerable interest. You're probably aware that Stanford has just finished beating Pete Carroll's head in, causing this terse postgame exchange to occur:
"What's your deal? What's your deal?" Carroll said, according to two sources near enough to hear.
"What's your deal?" Harbaugh retorted, and that was that.
Ah, the You Can't Do That On Television defense. Excellent work after thoroughly sliming the opponent. Carroll could have been referencing any number of things, but the "go for two up 48-21, miss it, get it back, and score again" sequence was probably the reason Carroll became verrrrry un-Dude in the aftermath. If Rodriguez does indeed flame out, Harbaugh will be the first name on many lips, and he will be a deeply strange candidate to consider.
On the one hand: Harbaugh turned around a non-scholarship I-AA program, took Stanford from the 1-11 Walt Harris debacle to 7-3 in year three with consecutive wins over Oregon and USC, and has a family coaching tree a mile long. His 2009 recruiting class finished 20th nationally according to Rivals, the first time in forever that Stanford has peeked into the top 25. Walt Harris's last class was #50. Assuming continued progress on the Farm—likely since his quarterback is a redshirt freshman—he's going to have a hell of a resume.
On the other hand, he's a kind of a big jerk. When he got to Stanford he immediately pissed off Pete Carroll by suggesting he was headed for the NFL—twice. He then trashed Michigan's academics and caused this site to pen a bombastically-titled post called "Destroy Harbaugh." He also picked up a DUI in 2005. Then there was the two-point stunt last weekend. These are not isolated incidents.
Are the items in the latter group enough to disqualify a guy who is almost certainly going to be a, if not the, grade A candidate? I don't know. Probably not something to consider seriously until we get a verdict on Rodriguez.
Warren departure? As expected, Donovan Warren is definitely going to look at his NFL options after the season:
“Definitely I’m going to look into it as far as where I stand,” Warren said. “If it’s the best thing to do for my family then I’ll just have to decide that. But if it’s not then I’ll definitely be here helping Michigan.”
Definitely. If Warren projects as a mid-round pick, as an NFL scout who talked to AnnArbor.com claimed, that would probably mean a return. Caveat: I think Warren's better than that and the scout did not break down his film, he just offered an off-the-cuff appraisal.
Let's get Denarded. Since it will be on the message board forever and ever amen and discussed until the weekend: e-reports say that Tate Forcier's facebook status yesterday was about having a bad day and somewhere in the comment thread spawned by that—probably made band fiasco look tame—Tate mentioned he would not be starting this weekend, and then hurriedly deleted that because duh. All of this is in the realm of quasi-fact that the efix* is so good at condescendingly mocking.
…but. But Forcier is probably going to miss a little bit of time against Wisconsin for an exceedingly minor violation of team rules. This is not for sure. It is probable.
*(see what I did there?)
Elsewhere in terrible diseases unfairly striking young ex-Wolverines, Vada Murray got some excellent news a few days ago:
We heard the word we long to hear......s
hrink...... from his recent ct. Both tumors are getting smaller and for the first time, his oncologist, who rarely shows emotion, was ecstatic.
The bus. You are under it. I can't believe we've gone this long without mentioning Troy Woolfolk gently depositing Scott Shafer in the wheel-wells of an AATA conveyance in the Monday press conference:
"Honestly, I feel way more comfortable in this system," Woolfolk said. "Last year, I think we had great execution, but just the defense wasn't working. Versus this year, the defense is working. ... It's just a matter of us being able to do it all the time."
In there is all you need to know about why Scott Shafer got cut loose. Everyone remembers that the staff's first instinct after Shafer was unofficially relieved of duties was to go to the disastrous 3-3-5 that Justin Siller will talk about when he is 65, but also remember what Michigan installed the next week: a dead simple 4-2-5 nickel with Brandon Harrison back in his old spot that shut down Minnesota and did well against Northwestern before getting overrun in the second half against Ohio State.
Yeah, pretty much. Orson's graphs touch on Michigan this week:
That is all.
What is with the cantankerous? Ex-Michigan folk in the coaching ranks are pre-disposed to mouthiness. Miles: "have a nice day." Harbaugh: "Pete Carroll, I bite my thumb at thee." Corwin Brown: "Navy is a dirty cut-blocking team that has no class."
Slightly touchy in South Bend these days.
Freshmen recast. It's typical that the LA Times put together a useful chart of freshman quarterback stats and then ordered them by yardage and didn't even bother to include completion percentage. The stats recast and ordered by YPA (asterisks denote redshirt freshmen):
|*Andrew Luck, Stanford||216||126||2076||11||3||58.3%||9.61|
|*B.J. Daniels, S. Florida||122||64||1096||10||6||52.5%||8.98|
|Matt Barkley, USC||221||125||1839||10||7||56.6%||8.32|
|Tom Savage, Rutgers||168||94||1341||8||1||56.0%||7.98|
|Tate Forcier, Michigan||217||122||1636||10||5||56.2%||7.54|
|*Kevin Prince, UCLA||184||105||1264||5||5||57.1%||6.87|
|*Landry Jones, Okla.||287||169||1902||17||11||58.9%||6.63|
|Jeff Tuel, Wash. State||121||71||789||6||5||58.7%||6.52|
|*Ryan Griffin, Tulane||135||89||838||4||3||65.9%||6.21|
|Cody Green, Nebraska||59||33||317||2||2||55.9%||5.37|
|Brock Osweiler, Ariz. St.||45||19||235||2||1||42.2%||5.22|
Forcier compares favorably to every true freshman on the list save maybe Tom Savage when you take rushing into account, and he didn't even get to play against Baby Seal U. Those are real numbers.
The culture of the thing. I've had this open in a tab for a while now and people keep emailing it to me, so it might be time to cite this post on Smart Football from a run-and-shoot devotee (and former Big 12 coach) about installing his offense and his culture. The key point from a Michigan perspective:
Before discussing the technical benefits, let me first say that operating exclusively out of a four-wide environment is the first step a coach makes towards acculturating his program to the offense. To run the run and shoot effectively, it is necessary to commit to it entirely. Coaches that retain the ability to use tight ends, h-backs, and multiple-back sets create a crutch upon which they can fall back on when things don’t go as well as they’d like in the early going. Inevitably, what happens then is that the team becomes a multiple-set team that uses some run and shoot packages on passing downs. What never happens, however, is that the team converts to the run and shoot culture. And without that, the coaches and the players never become fully comfortable in the system, and then when the team struggles more, they blame the system.
When you decide to run this offense you need to burn your bridges with the past. You have to declare, “This is what we will sink or swim with. We are a run and shoot team.”
If anyone is still cranky about Rodriguez installing his offense from day one—default link to "Golden Age Of Tin" here—there it is in black and white from someone who would know. Also you're asking a dancing bear to do your taxes, but whatever.
Quod erat demonstrandum. Deadspin runs anonymous email from asshat that claims Arizona State's baseball coach is a vile person and SHOCK SURPRISE ALARM it turns out the asshat's email was a complete fabrication. At no point does it occur to Deadspin that they are also acting like asshats. Meanwhile, Leitch returns to write an excellent column on Bill Simmons. Deadspin shark-jump QED.
Suggestion: write in totally fabricated stories to Deadspin and publicly retract them via this space when and if they get published. 1,000,000 mgopoints* to anyone who successfully executes this maneuver.
I stole this bit from Joe Posnanski.)
Em. Pahokee native, Michigan recruit, Florida decommit, Kiffin controversy source (who isn't), and current and possibly soon-to-be ex- Tennessee Vol Nu'Keese Richardson is in a spot of bother:
University of Tennessee freshman football players Janzen Jackson, Nu’Keese Richardson and Mike Edwards were arrested near campus this morning and charged in connection with an armed robbery, multiple sources confirmed to the Times Free Press.
That Mike Edwards kid was also nominally a Michigan recruit, as he's from Cleveland and went to "Glenville Academic Campus," the home of Ted Ginn Sr and a bunch of recruits who only list Michigan to screw with them.
Relevance to Michigan's program? Tangential at best. I guess it's good we dodged a bullet there.
Etc.: I can't believe Corey Tropp is playing against Michigan this weekend. Seriously: the hell. That kid should be in junior with his goon buddy, not facing off against Steve Kampfer.
Mike Cox is pretty. A reader who's way more familiar with the facial features of fifth-string running backs than even I am was taken aback by a Bivouac newsletter featuring a fellow who appears to be Mike Cox:
Cox's mgoblue mug shot:
That's the same dude, right?
Extremely important CORRECTION: The "death touch" cartoon referenced in the Monday column was not GI Joe but Batman: The Animated Series. A helpful reader provides details:
I believe this was the animated series of Batman. I very clearly remember an episode of this, but I think there was only one real "death touch", which Batman was able to find by feeling up the bad guy's sparring dummy. He then confronts the guy who hits him there!(!). BUT of course Batman is too smart for that and had armored that spot so he wouldn't die, and then pwns the fool.
Craig Flemingloss '07
I now remember this clear as day. Fools at the Ohio State game are going to get a swift jab that's a one-way ticket to hell. Or they're just going to get poked in the neck. 50-50.
CYA, chanter of CYA. I noticed this during the portion of the Saturday Miami game I didn't spend crossly drinking at home:
I was at the game for about 10 minutes, when after Miami (Ohio)’s first penalty, I participated in what has come to be known as the ‘C-Ya’ chant. …
Like usual, I said the same chant tons of times Friday night with thousands of other fans and nothing happened.
Saturday night, I got kicked out. Not cool, dude.
Two or three others in the immediate vicinity of one cranky usher also got the boot over the course of the game. I didn't see the guy the next section over executing similar justice, so I assume that these are the actions of one guy who's mad as hell and isn't going to take it anymore, not a Yost-wide thrust.
The uneven enforcement is annoying and will do nothing to stem the tide of that chant. That said, Michigan's been trying to erase or ease the cheer since I started attending games at Yost 11 years ago. In the long-long ago, Red Berenson even brought his adorable five-year old grandchild onto the ice to personally plead the student section to stop; no one did. They just added a sarcastic-seeming "we love you, Red" at the end of the thing. I thought that was pretty disgraceful: the only reason Yost is what it is today is Berenson, so if he wants you to stop doing something you should do it no questions asked.
Mostly, the chant's not clever. It's just a string of stuff that gets progressively further over the line every time something gets added. The things that used to get tacked on, like "Wildfong" in honor of a particularly annoying opponent or "Boren" for obvious reasons, are lost to history, replaced with generic swearing. I have been known to curse like a sailor from time to time; this is not mounting a high horse about vulgarity. The CYA chant is boring and embarrassing in the format currently served at Yost. It's not something worth fighting for when Red Berenson, who should be your God, wants it dead.
If the university actually wants traction on this, they should provide a carrot and stick to the entire student section in the form of ticket prices: higher if they continue, lower if they stop. Randomly tossing chickens* out of the game is just going to shame the Daily's editors even more than their humiliating defeat at the hands at a bunch of socially maladjusted engineers from the Every Three Weekly last weekend. It's not going to help, it's going to instill the Fight For Your Right To Party mentality that I saw after the Children of Red incident. The only thing that will work is a naked display of aggression on the part of the university. Either drop it or drop the bomb.
I will admit that I stood out from the other Children of Yost. I may or may not have had a megaphone. And I may or may not have been, ahem, dressed up — if you went to the game, you might have seen a six-foot chicken standing against the glass in section 18.
On a similar topic. I haven't ever heard Berenson tear his team a new orifice like he did in the aftermath of this weekend's pantsing at the hands of Miami. After the Redhawks scored to go up 4-1 on Saturday, the team started gooning at an alarming rate:
"I'm embarrassed," Berenson said. "We played like a bunch of spoiled brats, and we've gotta suck it up. When you're getting beat, you just keep working hard for the team. You don't take it out on the other team and take stupid penalties that are going to hurt your team even further. That's not the way we play hockey, and this team will learn that."
I wonder if this embarrassment extends to Tristin Llewellyn, whose spot on the depth chart opposite Chris Summers on what you assume is the #1 defensive pairing makes no sense to me. Llewellyn has been a dumb penalty factory ever since he arrived and makes a ton of chance-generating defensive mistakes. Putting him on the ice against top lines is asking for it; I don't get Berenson's faith in the guy when Kampfer is available.
On ice, but only metaphorically. Interesting bit from an AnnArbor.com piece on the freshmen getting redshirted:
Michigan has played 10 of 21 true freshmen this year, though linebacker Brandin Hawthorne has not seen the field since September and is in position to get his redshirt back.
…if Michigan has held him out because he is "injured," which I'm betting is the case. Michigan pulled medical redshirts for Adam Patterson, Junior Hemingway, and Kenny Demens last year and only Hemingway had injuries that were known to the public.
Mike Jones and Vlad Emilien continue to play on special teams but not on the defense, frustratingly, though I can understand why Emilien was put on the field given the situation at safety. Anything that can potentially get him ready sooner is more valuable than a hypothetical fifth year given Michigan's situation at the position.
The article also expands upon something Tim touched on in his press conference recap:
Rodriguez singled out cornerback J.T. Turner, safety Thomas Gordon and receivers Jeremy Gallon and Cam Gordon when asked what freshmen currently redshirting have caught his eye. He also said Michigan has "some really talented young offensive lineman" in Taylor Lewan, Quinton Washington and Michael Schofield.
I am terribly pleased that Gordon is one of the guys mentioned, just because of his position and his low recruiting profile. Gallon has a nice two-year gap between himself and Odoms now; if he lives up the recruiting hype Michigan should have a nice one-two punch at slot until Roundtree graduates. And one of the tackles—probably Lewan—stepping forward to claim a starting spot would be… well, probably not great. Next year's line is probably going to be something like Omameh-Schilling-Molk-Barnum-Dorrestein/Huyge, with Barnum potentially replaced by whoever's not the RT if he can't hack it yet. If one of the tackles is breaking through as a redshirt freshman that's probably a negative.
Advertisin' note. The M-Den, which is fantastic in all ways that an entity can be, has a holiday promotion running: orders over $100 come with a ten-dollar gift card.
Vote of confidence. Rote:
"He's not going anyplace," Martin said. "Rich is an outstanding coach. There is no question he's got my total support. I think the world of that guy. Is he perfect in every respect? Nobody is. But he works hard. He'll get it right."
Honey, I'm the AD. In the vein of "Let's FOIA 30-year-old grade records" and "Michigan coaches have loans from a bank the AD founded": Martin's embarrassment that was on all the premium sites yesterday afternoon appears to be shoving past some clueless DPS workers who don't know what the AD looks like. This never happens on sailboats. That's probably why he's retiring.
To me this is more interesting as an information-on-the-internet problem: I got a couple of freaked-out emails because premium sites were dropping dark hints about an "embarrassment" that was about to come out about Bill Martin. That embarrassment is stating "Honey, I'm the AD" and gently pushing someone out of his path. If anyone on the premium sites had just said that, or if the information was not locked behind a paywall and thus subject to wild speculation by people outside of it, the minor panic would not have happened. The perpetual non-information being purveyed on subscriber message boards is annoying both as a recipient and a competitor. My favorite part is when moderators elsewhere say "as we've been telling you for weeks (in one-way ciphered Navajo)" after this site says something newsworthy in explicit detail. You'll note that if this site has information it just tells you what the information is and the context it was received in.
Example! I've received some solid information that suggests Fred Jackson is probably going to move on after the season by his own choice. This should not affect the status of his son's commitment; Jackson's probably going to head to the NFL.
Given my opinion of how important a running backs coach is—not very—I don't think this is a big deal and hope the replacement is one of those young, energetic recruiter types. The first guy who leaps to mind is Ty Wheatley, now on Ron English's staff at EMU. With all the Rodriguez stuff—and the rumors as to where some of it is sourced—that may not be an option.
Etc.: Thanks to BWS I spent 20 minutes yesterday watching some guy play impossible Mario levels. Craig Roh's dad says recruits and their parents have the internet too. Big Ten Tour hits Michigan, runs into a guy who looks like Scott Steiner but says he's Hulk Hogan. Side note: I am 100% sure that I saw Scott Steiner wandering around before a game last year.
I… here. This is for you. Is there a thing that makes these things? If there is a thing that makes these things, this is slightly crazy. If there isn't I don't know what you can even say. Other than FTW. It came from the message boards.
This is where we are this week.
Thank God for Adidas. I know Michigan would never go for something like this…
…or do I? I mean, we are currently enduring hyper-loud blasts of Bob Seger and AC/DC on a regular basis. There is some possibility Special K, Michigan Marketing Droid, thinks "wicked sweet" when he sees things like this "tribute"…
…to Ohio State's championship team on their very special 55th anniversary. I think you're supposed to get her a wicker lawnchair. 54 is a tea set made from the bones of your enemies. Adidas may have put stupid piping* on the away jerseys and convinced a lot of players to wear weird stripey undershirts, but it's not Nike and their band of evil scientists.
Yes, yes, I know. There's a "get off my lawn" tag for a reason.
*(Nameplates on the back cover up the piping if the name is of any length—Smith works, Forcier does not—and look stupider than even regular stupid piping, which also looks stupid.)
I don't know the answer to this complicated question, let's ask someone else who doesn't know and be kind of a jerk about it yay. This is just another stock answer to a dumb press conference question that's sort of adversarial and makes the questioner feel fuzzy about asking truth to power, but it's more irksome than most because of MCalibur's extensive offseason research project on the matter:
Rodriguez disputed the notion that his spread-option offense puts quarterbacks more in harm’s way than other systems.
“I think when you’re a younger guy and you’re 180 pounds and you hadn’t had a chance to get a couple years in the weight room and a couple years of maturity and growth, I think you’re more likely to get banged around,” Rodriguez said. “But other quarterbacks when we were in the system played entire years without missing a snap. So I don’t think it’s the system.”
The MCalibur study has five years of numbers behind it now and has a clear outcome: quarterbacks who run the ball more often actually miss less time than quarterbacks that are exclusively passers. (They are slightly more likely to get injured, but tend to lose fewer games when they are.) You could ask the coach about something or you could do it yourself—in this case you could just look it up. Who cares what Rich Rodriguez—who might have a stake in this—thinks about this? You might as well ask Bobby Bowden if he thinks he is awesome.
While I'm on the kick. Michael Rothstein put out an article at AA.com disputing the notion that Michigan is a particularly young team:
On this week’s depth chart for Purdue (noon, Big Ten Network), Michigan will start eight players on offense who have been in college for three years or more, including redshirt years.
On defense, eight starters fall into the same classification.
So to point to the roster and say 60 freshmen and sophomores are on it, including walk-ons, as a youth excuse a false truth.
This has been picked apart on the message board already, but to echo: just because the starters have "experience" doesn't mean they are good options. To cite another extensive research project by a diarist here, Michigan has endured four years of terrible retention on defense, giving them few or no options beyond players who do not appear very good at football. Not every high-rated recruit works out, and not every "experienced" player—and Kevin Leach counts in this metric as an experienced player—is good when you have recruited Penn State-sized classes and experienced sub-Alabama level retention.
Arbitrarily drawing a line at redshirt sophomores and arguing that Michigan is plenty experienced enough to win without providing any context is not a good way to argue when there's an extensive study that shows Michigan has fewer, and much younger, options than its primary competitors. Youth does not exist in a vacuum. Michigan is vastly younger and thinner than its rivals, and that's a valid reason they are not very good at football.
This is why UFR exists. It's rip on people for not being engineers day, apparently. BTN analyst Chris Martin never says anything useful as a color guy so it's unsurprising he's dead wrong about Michigan's problems on defense this year:
Big Ten Network analyst Chris Martin, who’ll broadcast his third Michigan game Saturday against Purdue, said the secondary has played like “part of the hospital burn unit,” and its problems are compounded by issues up front.
Michigan ranks ninth in the Big Ten with 16 sacks and has one of the smallest defensive lines in the league.
“I think their inability to get pressure up front has kind of caused them to pressure a little bit, no pun intended,” Martin said. “Now it’s like they’re working so hard to get to the quarterback and get sacks, they’re getting gashed on run plays."
"Inability to get pressure" is something you'd say if you looked up those sack numbers and had no other context in which to judge Michigan. Other than the Notre Dame game, Michigan has gotten to the quarterback plenty, they just haven't ever covered anyone long enough for Graham to get his due.
That article cites the following people in a discussion of Michigan's defense: Martin, Lee Corso, Shawn King, Ray Bentley, and Matt Millen. Other than King that's a short list of people I wouldn't trust to count to five.
This unnamed "evaluator" is interesting, however:
According to one talent evaluator, defensive end Brandon Graham is Michigan’s only high-level NFL defensive prospect. Warren projects as a "later"-round draft pick, and Mike Martin is “a good college player” who “might have a chance at the next level,” the evaluator said.
Here's hoping Warren is indeed a "later" round pick and decides to help his stock by coming back, because Michigan needs him badly next year.
Run chart. The run chart from the Illinois game is up; I think it's a little less harsh on Brown than it should be and packs it in after the rage-inducing goal line stand. A reader emailed me a good point: if Minor wasn't available on the goal line, wouldn't a package of Moundros and Grady gotten the job done? What is with the marginalization of Moundros this year anyway?
Apologies for a moment of meta and self promotion, but we are the champions.. This is apparently the best college football blog in the universe according to Sports Media Challenge, a consulting/marketing firm that operates in the digital space and other such droidwords. It's a narrower field than it should be, though, with the exclusion of a subset of blogs that tend to be good ones:
We do not include blogs that are subscription based or backed by traditional media outlets. This is especially true of blogs that do not have full editorial control over their content.
That's the only reason Doctor Saturday isn't anywhere on the list, right? I get that they're trying to distinguish between blogs run by newspaper folk that are mostly extensions of beatwriting and fan-driven media, but DocSat is firmly One of Us.
A couple of notes on the list:
- The Big Ten lands five of the top ten slots, the SEC two, the ACC and Big 12 one each. Two general blogs (EDSBS and the Wizard of Odds) show; if you want to file EDSBS as a Florida blog I think you're wrong but whateva you do what you want.
- SBNation has either six or seven of the blogs on the list, depending on how you classify EDSBS. Hall gets his funding from SBN but has not converted over to the software monolith. This place, the Wiz, and Eleven Warriors are the only indies.
Etc.: We are on the spot this week, and how. Michigan has a huge hockey series against #1 Miami of Ohio this weekend; I would have said more but the only non-exhibition game I've seen this year was the Thursday night Niagara game so I don't have any smart opinions. Having this series so early is frustrating.
Note. In case anyone hadn't noticed, the restrictions implemented Saturday were lifted yesterday, so things should be back to normal. I think it worked out pretty well; there were a number of threads that got deleted but overall things here were way less dumb than elsewhere, thanks in large part to turning off the ability for people to sign up to vent. That system will return in the aftermath of future HEAD ASPLODE type events.
There have been complaints about censorship, to which I say nuts. Example of a pulled thread:
F--- my life.
If football can't fill the void in my life, i'm just going to have to turn to booze and sluts.
This is noise, and things on the internet get ruined when the signal to noise ratio gets too low. The MGoBlog trend is ever-increasing levels of restriction as the blog grows to keep the ratio relatively high, and that won't change.
Also BONUS. I've turned on the ability for folks to use Windows Live Writer to put up diary posts. For now it's restricted to 500+ point folk; once I know it's up and running without incident anyone will be able to use it if you like. Complicated instructions will allow you to access much more convenient picture uploads and tagging and whatnot. It's just a better editor in all ways. (protip: the main column is 560 pixels wide.)
Mac/Linux people will have to pound sand. Sorry.
Fun fun fun until daddy's head explodes, leaving chunks spread across the county. So… was yesterday's appearance on WTKA fun or what? Yes, it was fun or what. If you'd like a hear a man attempting to hang on to the last shreds of his sanity, there are podcasts:
Sorry I can't embed them; WTKA's site is a little less than modern.
If you just want to get to the part where smoke comes out my ears, MVictors has helpfully clipped it out. Now I'm going to go put my head in a bucket of ice. Maybe I'll steam some broccoli at the same time.
Elsewhere in last weekend, This Week In Schadenfreude sticks Michigan—and yours truly!—above the fold. Peek into the terror that is my inbox.
Mary Sue got your back. President Coleman with the long-term vote of confidence:
"I don't think it's fair to coaches to bring them in and say, 'We're going to give you three years,'" she said in an interview on Friday, citing a recent example. "When [former men's basketball coach] Tommy Amaker came in, we stuck with him for six years. It just wasn't going to work; it wasn't the right fit. But it wasn't a rushed decision."
Note that the statement specifically implies not just next year but the year after for Rodriguez. Short of a major violation from the Freep jihad—which I will reiterate is not the expected outcome from anyone on the Michigan side of things—Rodriguez will get to 2011, at which point it's up to him.
Why the suck? We're living in an era of college football hyperbole thanks to the 12th game and bowl games now counting as official stats, but not retroactively. Every good multi-year starter is now breaking or threatening this record or that. There's no better example of this than Juice Williams approaching the top five in all time Big Ten passing yards. All these records mean nothing.
But there's one area of hyperbole that's not hyperbole at all: we are really living through an era of the worst calls in college football history. Before the advent of replay, bad calls were just bad calls and were relatively understandable since they were irreversible split-second decisions. Now, though, replay officials can commit the cardinal sin of screwing up an obviously correct call. Here's a touchdown from the Indiana-Iowa game:
This was ruled a touchdown on the field and overturned by the replay official. It is in the building when it comes to worst calls ever made because some guy saw indisputable evidence—watch the field turf change color as the IU receiver's foot rakes over it—of a touchdown and called it not a touchdown. (It's not very far in the building since I can think of two more egregious ones off the top of my head: Brandon Minor's pylon-aided touchdown against Michigan State last year and the onside kick Oregon was awarded despite never even recovering the ball.)
So, a question: why are confused goats allowed to run these things? Honestly. There is no other explanation for this stuff. A few years ago refs correctly called Antonio Bass down against Iowa and the replay official overturned it despite clear evidence that the reason the ball came out was Bass's elbow hitting the ground. They failed to overturn that ridiculous Domata Peko touchdown. On the Indiana call above it is so obvious that the PBP guy immediately says "oh he dragged that right foot" as the spray of fieldturf pellets goes up. Most replay calls are that obvious on a first viewing, and yet they take five minutes and there's a reasonable chance the guy in the booth can't see what's completely obvious to everyone watching the game.
I don't know what the fix is, but I think a major problem is that replay officials are often referees who have been put out to pasture. Therefore they are crazy and old. Putting crazy old people in charge leads to things like Florida State's defense. It is not a good idea.
You grow like a weed. Hope burgeons for your #15 Michigan Wolverine basketball team (who wants some FREE PPPPPIZZAAA) for a variety of reasons, mostly Manny Harris and Deshawn Sims. Big Ten Geeks has put together a great study that provides another reason for optimism:
The big, overarching conclusion is this: a player shows the most improvement between his freshman and sophomore seasons than he does any other offseason. In fact, the freshman offseason improvement is, on average, greater than the improvement between a player's sophomore season and his senior season.
Here's the o-rating chart:
How this applies to the Big Ten this year:
Schwing. Indiana is a runaway winner here but their goal is to go from one of the worst teams in a major conference to one of the worst teams in the Big Ten. Amongst actual contenders no team should see its players improve more than Michigan and the only team that's even somewhat close is Minnesota. The bounce Michigan gets should be significant.
I'll add in my default caution: past performance is a better predictor of future results than past results. Michigan's past performance lags behind their past results—they finished the year #50 in the Pomeroy rankings instead of the 40th-ish their tourney seeding suggested or the 32nd-ish their second-round status suggested. That's the baseline from which I'm measuring improvement, and from that perspective I've thought projecting a leap into the top 15 was optimistic. 25? Sure. 15? Probably not. The above chart is convincing enough to close some of that gap, IME.
You rang? There are three main questions going into the season. One: can Manny Harris reduce appearances of Evil Manny to a couple here and there? Two: will one of the wing players step up to be a true three-point gunner with an eFG percentage Salim Stoudemire would be proud of? And three: will we get anything from a big lumbering gumpy white guy?
BLGWG #1 is Zack Gibson, who can't shoot threes like he thinks he can and doesn't do much offensively but has erratic moments of OMGIBSON ownage. College bigs like him often take some time to get it together and find themselves blossoming into useful, even good players their senior year. Examples from recent Michigan vintage include Graham Brown and Chris Young. And late last year Gibson was a huge factor on defense, making a lot of plays that no one else on the roster can make for reasons of being 6'5" tops. I wouldn't be surprised if he had a quasi-breakout year that no one except Michigan fans notice.
BLGWG #2 is Ben Cronin, who Mike Rothstein hyped up a few days ago on AnnArbor.com:
“My legs are in the best shape they’ve been in in a long time,” Cronin said. “I’m sure it’s going to turn over on the court where I guarantee I’m going to be a little more explosive than I’ve ever been. And my endurance is going to be better because of the track, so I’m really excited about where I’m at.”
Cronin is what Beilein looks for in a big man. He’s intelligent. He has good passing skills, something demonstrated during Saturday’s open practice when he found cutting players from the high post.
He’s also demonstrated the ability to shoot three-pointers - something Beilein’s most well-known big man, former West Virginia center Kevin Pittsnogle, was known for.
There's no way Cronin is an effective or frequent three-point shooter and the conditioning/hip issues are probably going to limit him to 10-15 minutes a game—Beilein says Cronin "doesn't have his bounce back" in the article. But in his cameo last year before the injury redshirt he showed some skills to go with his hugeness. If he can spell Gibson effectively Michigan will be able to roll out a decently sized lineup against the big thumpers of the world, which would do wonders for Michigan's atrocious 2PT FG defense.
No. This guy attempts to defend Deadspin for the Phillips Incident, stating that the rumors weren't "unsourced" based on Daulerio's round of contrition interviews in which he repeatedly stated that they weren't just publishing random emails. I don't know if I believe that; given the way it was framed it was clear Daulerio didn't care either way, really.
And let's remember what the "news" is here: Deadspin has successfully ferreted out the very newsworthy information that one ESPN vice president is in a relationship with another ESPN vice president. Armed with this knowledge, we will defeat cancer and Marcelo Balboa. Daulerio's wandered around giving interview after interview in which he acknowledges he had a hissy fit, which he apparently thinks will earn him credit, before claiming that there was a noble purpose—exposing ESPN's inconsistent enforcement of sexual harassment rules—behind everything. The evidence marshaled for this consists of the following items:
- An ESPN radio host sexually harassed someone and was suspended for it.
- ESPN VP 1 is dating non-related ESPN VP 2.
Daulerio's attempts to explain his actions after the fact are feeble post-hoc justifications for a mean-spirited, purposeless expose on the private life of a non-public figure.
Etc.: I'm not sure why, but EDSBS has a photoshop of Gruden-as-M-coach on a post about Steve Kragthorpe. I noted that I didn't understand the blocking scheme on a particular run play that Penn State ran last week; Smart Football says it's a zone variant called the "pin and pull"
Somewhat less than timely, but still good. Michigan softball player Bree Evans, who suffered a scary injury at the beginning of the month, is out of the hospital. She's been out for a good long while…
Evans was released from the hospital two weeks ago, according to Michigan sports information director Leah Howard. Howard declined to comment on details of Evans’ injury.
…but better to know late than never, I guess.
Well, let's be explicit about it. Deshawn Sims and Mann Harris talking to Fox Sports's Jeff Goodman for a Beilein fluff bit before the season:
ANN ARBOR, Mich. - DeShawn Sims had just finished up his freshman season at Michigan when he heard the news that John Beilein had been hired to replace Tommy Amaker. At the time, Manny Harris was the Wolverines' top signee, and the word quickly swirled that he would explore other options.
"People were saying Beilein's system was for white boys," Sims said.
"I heard he didn't even like players that dunk," added the athletic Harris.
Elsewhere in basketball, perhaps the most newsworthy thing to come out of Big Ten Media Day was Illinois coach Bruce Weber suggesting that the Big Ten will "probably" move to a full round robin "down the road." I got so excited about it that I retweeted it, so, yes, I am enthusiastic about the hypothetical change. It just makes sense, and now with the Big Ten Network it makes financial sense—in conversations I've had with them they have a strong preference for intraconference matchups.
And here's a Tim Hardaway Jr fluffy bit from ESPN, courtesy reader Woodson2Heisman:
Michigan checks in at #15 in both preseason polls, but this is slightly terrifying:
Junior guard Manny Harris - an All-Big Ten team selection Thursday - has battled pulled hamstrings since the start of practice and Beilein, himself a victim of the consistently tight hammys, has been extra cautious. …
“Now that it’s happened, it’s got to be a season-long therapy thing,” Beilein said. “We can’t let down. He’s always been tight in his hamstrings. I have tight hamstrings so I know what it’s like. It can lead to back problems.
“Stretching is not my favorite thing to do, it’s not his. Therapy isn’t, but he has to do it. “
Ugh. Season-long nagging injury for the unquestioned star of the team. This is not so good.
Because you're still on a Quest for Toronto. Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician, the fantastic Syracuse blog, asks "why isn't anyone talking about Scott Shafer?" Insert snark here. But then TNIAAM drops some year-to-year numbers that are a little bothersome since Michigan and Syracuse have essentially swapped defensive coordinators:
Syracuse Defense Rankings 2008 vs 2009 (through seven games)
|Statistic||2008 Defense||2009 Defense|
|Tackles For Loss||106th||49th|
|Opp. 3rd Down Conv.||117th||38th|
That's across-the-board improvement except in pass defense. So, okay, there's a lot of noise in these numbers and they'll probably fall with Cincinnati and Pittsburgh the next two games on the schedule. And Syracuse apparently returned a lot of people on defense, including all the good players. But it's at least an indication that Scott Shafer isn't a total git who lucked his way into the Michigan job and blew it all by himself.
On the other hand: the last time I offered a small complaint about Robinson, one of the guys from The Only Colors who does their version of UFR emailed me about a post he'd put up highlighting Robinson's halftime adjustments. That's pretty noisy, too, but in the offseason we'll take a thorough look at the two defenses.
Early signing. Don't know why this came up just now but Rodriguez is in favor of a couple changes to recruiting. One is an early signing day that this site has advocated before:
“I would be in favor of having an early signing day around the third week in December, when the junior-college signing date is, and then have another signing date like we do now on the first Wednesday in February," Rodriguez said on Tuesday's Big Ten coaches teleconference.
The other item he's mentioned is the past is allowing schools to offer official visits over the summer, something that makes sense for schools fairly distant from talent sources in Florida.
Adios, Ufer. Bob Ufer died this week in 1981, and a guy emailed me to let me know he'd been putting up some Ufer retrospective videos on the tubes:
I haven't spent a lot of time scouring youtube to confirm this, but I bet Michigan dominates it, what with Wolverine Historian and this poster ("Ghosts of Michigan") and now a zillion individual plays from UFR.
CONSPIRACY These are the items I was talking about Monday when I mentioned a number of questionable calls that went against Michigan. The illegal formation is on the right tackle here:
There was also the too-many-men call on the Robinson interception, or lack thereof:
You can see the ball has already been snapped.
Rodriguez is not happy about this stuff, nor is he happy about the ridiculous Schilling holding call—the second time in two Big Ten games that Schillling's crushed a guy and gotten a hold for his troubles. RR:
"Some of them I understand, when you twist and turn a guy, whatever," Rodriguez said. "But if you've got your hands inside in great position, you're drive blocking a guy and he falls down, because, one, he loses his balance or something, I don't think it should be called holding.
"There is more of a gray area, and there's more frustration, I think, in seeing some of the calls."
No doubt some Penn State fan will run back to his message board going "lol we won 35-10" so let's just be clear: this did not have an impact on the outcome of the game.
While I'm at it, here's Holly Rowe, Hoth Edition:
Etc.: College presidents complaining about how coaches' salaries are excessive. Adrian Witty is still planning to enroll in January. Beilein's top priority for AD is a guy who will renovate Crisler for serious. A package of reforms designed to make the money trail from shady college coaches to shady AAU coaches more illegal has passed in its entirety.