The glory of signing with Alabama. Three-star DT Darius Philon announced he'd be going to Alabama on Signing Day. He did it like this:
If that seems unusual, it's because Philon had probably just been told that he wasn't actually going to Alabama. Alabama swung a decommit and pulled his offer; Philon ended up signing with Arkansas, a school he hadn't so much as visited. The actual video is… weird:
The AJC says the "moral of the story" is…
If you commit to Alabama, it’s safe unless you get injured or Alabama has the opportunity to upgrade at your position before you officially sign the paperwork.
Horford redshirt update: happening. Jon Horford's injury redshirt has been increasingly likely with every game he misses and now seems all but certain. Horford himself says as much:
"If coach said, 'We absolutely need you to come back,' I could come back," Horford said Sunday following Michigan's 64-54 loss to Michigan State. "But other than that, I've missed so many games that I feel like coming back at this point would almost be a waste of a season."
In the long run that's probably a good thing for the program as it will move Horford out of Jordan Morgan's class and give the team a fifth-year senior to rely on after he departs (and who knows what Mitch McGary's going to do). That will help bridge the gap between this generation of posts and the Bielfeldt/Donnal setup. Speaking of Bielfeldt…
Bielfeldt hype. Beilein talked up the redshirting freshman in a conference call recently:
He came in here with really bad tendonitis in his knees and was not nearly as athletic as he (had shown in the past)," Beilein said during the Big Ten coaches teleconference. "He was really just struggling. But he's young, with a young birthday, and given the fact that we were still evolving with some positions here, it did not make sense for him or for us to burn a redshirt."
The tendons have gotten better and allowed him to play scout-team center:
"He's a big man with good hands, and those aren't a dime a dozen," Beilein said. "He's a tremendous rebounder. Where he's not gifted vertically, he's really good in small spaces."
It'll be interesting to see what he plays like… and where. He doesn't seem like either a four or a five at 6'7", 240. Presumably he'll be a backup at both spots for his first couple seasons.
The move. I'm not in agreement that Belichick's decision to let New York score in the waning moments of the Super Bowl was "the ballsiest call in Super Bowl History." It was obvious. The choices there are between watching an NFL kicker attempt a virtual extra point with no time on the clock or giving Tom Brady a minute with which to attempt the comeback.
It would have been ballsy if Belichick had come out of the two-minute warning with a red carpet and instructed his defense to bodily carry any Giant with the ball into the endzone. It also would have been correct:
The smartest play of all would've been for Belichick to have allowed the touchdown even earlier. The Patriots certainly could have done so on the play prior to Bradshaw's touchdown run, when he was stopped for a one-yard gain, forcing New England to burn its second timeout. In fact, they probably should have allowed a touchdown as early as the two-minute warning.That's the point at which the Win Probability of receiving a kickoff down by four or six points (0.23) exceeds the Win Probability of trying to stop the Giants from bleeding the clock dry (0.2). The Patriots would have had almost two minutes, two timeouts, and all four downs available to get a touchdown and steal the win. The lesson: New England didn't lie down soon enough.
Always quit, son.
The difference. There are many reasons I couldn't give two craps about the NFL. Many derive from the fact that merely contemplating Tom Coughlin's staid, fun-murdering face seriously damages my quality of life.
Many others are summarized by the Lombardi trophy presentation. Michael from Braves & Birds contrasts Barca's celebrations after winning the Champions League with the ceremony last night:
Instead of a football icon handing the trophy over, we get Roger Goodell, a life-long NFL suit who is most noted for giving himself the power to suspend players for any reason he sees fit and for persuading Peter King to write the most sycophantic cover story that I can recall reading in Sports Illustrated. Instead of a [Barcelona FC] totem like Puyol or a cancer-survivor like Abidal accepting the trophy, we had the New York Giants' owners getting the honor. Puyol and Abidal got the right to hold the trophy aloft because they established themselves as some of the best players in the world at their positions; John Mara and Steve Tisch got the right to hoist the Lombardi Trophy because they inherited the team from their parents.
The Michigan equivalent would be handing the Sugar Bowl trophy to Dave Brandon. This, thankfully, does not happen. Instead we get Junior Hemingway breaking down.
Juxtaposing a Michigan-MSU game at Breslin with the Super Bowl on the same day really drove the point home.
I am much more invested in the stories of people who have reasons to do what they are doing other than "I have a contract."
Tooley. Derek Dooley is amazingly hypocritical:
“I’m still trying to figure out what I’m missing,” he said. “You have these contracts. It’s called quid pro quo. We give you this. You give us that. But if they don’t give us that and we decide not to give them this, then it’s the worst thing you can do. I’m still struggling to understand that issue…”
This verges on "I'm not even mad, I'm impressed" territory.
Etc.: Jim Herrmann might be coming back to be Iowa's DC, which would be the most Kirk Ferentz move ever. NCAA president urges school presidents to support multi-year scholarship offers. 2012 hockey recruit Justin Selman's stock seems to be on the rise.
[Tardy thanks to MRI, about which more later, and Stonum going poof. Please excuse any datedness that may appear.]
Some progress. Over the summer the SEC further clamped down on oversigning by reducing a Houston Nutt-induced cap of 28 signees in any particular year—a fig leaf—to an actually impactful 25. You only have to look at Michigan's projected 2012 class of 27 or 28 to know there's at least some teeth in the SEC's latest cap, but if you want more direct evidence, Georgia running back Justin Taylor provides it:
One of Georgia’s top running backs said that was told by Alabama’s Nick Saban this weekend that he will have to wait until next year to sign with the Crimson Tide. …
Coach Saban just said I’m the 26th commitment. I would be the 26th signee. I guess he went and picked up somebody else. He said I make 26 and they only get 25. They talked about bringing me in next January.” [Note: Alabama has 27 commitments]
That somebody else was Auburn decommit and five-star TJ Yeldon. Taylor, a generic three star who lost his senior year to a knee injury, is now adrift two weeks before signing day after spending almost a year committed to the Tide.
In a hilarious effort to create a binding commitment between a party with no power and College Football Stalin, Saban proposed they deploy a +5 Napkin of Ultimate Bonding:
"He said he was going to sign me with the next class. But he also said he would sign a piece of paper to show that they are keeping their word – they are going to sign it and they want me to sign it to make sure I know I still have my scholarship"
You have to hand it to Saban. That is weaselry worthy of Magnetar. The HSR suggests a T-shirt:
So Saban is still a disingenuous weasel. Here he does exactly what Sevon Pittman did to MSU, except he's a millionaire adult instead of an addled 18-year old with two dollars to his name. He is still committed but looking at options, which means he's trying to find a landing place as fast as possible.
At least Taylor found that out before he signed a document that committed him to Alabama but not vice-versa. This is still not ideal since 25 x 4 = 100 and it seems like a reasonable number to average on a yearly basis is 22, but it does forcibly hack the worst oversigning offenders' practices in half.
To repeat the brilliant suggestion of an Oversigning.com commenter, the best way to fix the problem is to do away with an 85 player limit entirely in favor of a yearly limit on letters of intent somewhere between 22 and 26. This removes any incentive to take kids off the team. Unfortunately, Title IX probably makes this impossible.
Indiana State could not be reached for comment.
Decline and fall. Virginia Tech's special teams looked surprisingly weak in the metrics tracked by the NCAA, but that fails to account for blocks and whatnot that were a large portion of the "Beamerball" free touchdowns. I wondered if that had evaporated recently. Survey says:
One blocked kick with major upside per year each of the last three, with a couple of blocked PATs thrown in there. Foster's defense is keeping them afloat these days. Not that there's anything wrong with that. I just thought it was interesting.
We're really mad now, you guys. The NCAA is going to get serious… just in time for Ohio State to get off mad easy. I'll believe this when I see it:
"We were damn mad and not going to take it anymore," Ed Ray, Oregon State president and chair of the Enforcement Working Group, said.
Given Miami AD Paul Dee's comeuppance after the "high profile compliance" shot against Reggie Bush, expect Oregon State to be swallowed whole within the year. The working group has created a penalty matrix that provides two different violation levels with a total of eight tiers between them. No one seems to know what goes in those categories but hoo boy, getting hit with a Significant Level I violation would net you a 2-3 year postseason ban and a loss of 38-50% of your scholarships. Dang.
Apparently even Michigan's piddling violations would have netted a four-scholarship loss "per year"—not sure how many years we're talking about here—which is more than OSU's massive year long head-coach-lying carnivale got them. Again, believe it when I see some athletic department burned to the ground.
At least they didn't take dumb action. The totally outrageous proposal to hack down scholarship numbers in an era when TV networks can't throw enough money at schools was voted down. Also it sounds like the 2,000 stipend may return in some other form and the board of the directors is going to make schools who want to override the multi-year scholarship proposal get a 5/8ths majority to vote it down.
So okay. The Indiana States of the world can stew.
Guh. A portion of a paywalled interview with Brandon on playoffs brings up an old canard that's annoying when bloggers deploy it and doubly so when it's your athletic director($):
"This whole notion of a playoff is ridiculous because I don't care what you come up with, it's not going to be a fair playoff. You've got a bunch of teams that don't play one another and play different competition and in different time zones in different conferences in different stadiums in front of different crowds and different weather and suddenly at some point in the year you are trying to arbitrarily decide which one is better and which one deserves to be in a four-team playoff or a six-team playoff."
This is a downside of a playoff that the current system doesn't have? Except infinitely worse because you can literally win all your games and still get passed over? Are these even questions? No?
Rothstein challenges Brandon on his arguments, to his credit, but you'll have to have Insider to see the result. Spoiler: it's the usual pastiche of academics and wear and tear that apparently only applies to I-A, with an added bonus of "kids love bowl games." CBS surveyed players on the four teams in the Fiesta Bowl and SEC West Division Championship Game. They found 19% favored a bowl game and 43% a playoff with 38% abstaining.
The thing that bothers is not the opposition to a playoff, which is a somewhat tenable position as someone who believes the current system benefits his schools. It's that the arguments put forth are all logically inconsistent.
BONUS: Weird that he went from four teams to six instead of eight, eh? MGoPlayoff's tentacles extend.
Winter Classic: official? Not officially official but someone is now saying it is a done deal instead of something discussed in nonbinding chats over tea:
The NHL, the Detroit Red Wings and the University of Michigan have finalized a deal to hold next season’s Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium, a source told MLive.com.
They're going to build a rink at Not Tiger Stadium as well to "appease Mike Ilitch." Maybe the GLI will be there. Or something. I don't know. It's weird.
Michigan may now lose its own record for hockey attendance and force a bunch of people to choose between that and the inevitable New Year's Day bowl Michigan will find itself in unless it manages the same at-large BCS trick it did this year or makes the MNC game. But, hey: incremental revenue.
Star turn. CBS's Jeff Goodman was in the house yesterday; he profiles Trey Burke:
"I knew pretty quick in the summer," Novak said. "Trey was doing things right away that it had taken me four years to pick up. He has such a high skill level -- and you can tell he wasn't fazed by anything."
Speaking of things it took Novak four years to pick up, how about the shots he's generating off the dribble now? Needs more usage.
Head: removed. Entertaining board thread on Hardaway's emotive pictures notices that… uh… he has opted out this time.
Photos via UMHoops
I don't like the socks either, trueblueintexas.
If you'd like to revisit the old bad thing, BHGP has put up their Fran Graphs on the Michigan-Iowa game.
Recommended. It was interesting hearing Beilein talk about the five games in thirteen days thing as a major factor… but in retrospect Michigan has shot like total crap from the outside lately. Hopefully they can get their legs before facing down the all-press all-the-time Arkansas runs (even when it's just giving Anthony Davis dunks).
Personal note that may affect you at some point. If you follow the mgotwitter account you may know that Michigan is bad at scheduling MRIs. This is because I had one. I had one because ten months ago a guy put his spikes into my knee when I was playing indoor soccer. I went to the doctor; the doctor said "walk it off," basically. I tried that but the knee was obviously unstable even after the swelling and whatnot had gone away.
Since I was getting married, going on a honeymoon, and not missing football games there wasn't much point in finding out until now. I'm in the process as we speak. In all probability I'm going to find out my ACL is no longer extant and get the surgery, which means there is going to be a period of time I'll be taking an involuntary vacation.
Yes, the "Michigan Difference" commercials are currently making me peevish. BONUS: I am passionately arguing for red cards whenever I watch anything, especially NASCAR.
Etc.: New soccer coach Chaka Daley on WTKA. Michigan lax is taking on Detroit-Mercy in Warren if you're from around there. Van Bergen's Sugar Bowl foot injury was a lisfranc sprain. I would bet on Van Bergen in a fight with a bear.
YES. You may have already seen this, but if you have you are probably eager to see it again. It is DT commit Ondre Pipkins's Brady Hoke impression.
The guy has memorized the "THIS IS MICHIGAN" press conference. I give him six stars and a moon. Rivals may be giving him five soon, FWIW. Your one sentence All Star wrap up is: expect Bolden and Pipkins to move up significantly; Magnuson may drop a little.
The silver lining of last night. You know, that thing you had on in the background on mute because whenever you looked up Jordan Jefferson was being attacked by 300 pound piranhas. There are actually two silver linings:
- Alabama winning has the potential to push anyone on the fence about an early NFL draft entry into the "go" category. Trent Richardson, Dre Kirkpatrick, and Donta Hightower are probably not going to Jerryworld unless the Cowboys draft them.
- ND Nation is once again suggesting the Irish should go after Nick Saban.
It is only on the nation that something like this can be said with a straight face:
However, I actually believe that Saban might listen and that the sales pitch would be very simple and fairly effective: "Nick, you've done everything you can accomplish in college football. You've won three NC's, including two at Alabama. There's only one thing left: Dare to bring Notre Dame back to the top of the heap. Take on the challenge, including the supposed limitations that have scared off lesser coaches, men who consider themselves your rivals. Even one crown at Notre Dame would cement you as a legend who deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Rockne and Bryant." Etc.
The nation suggests Saban should leave Alabama so he can be regarded as a college football legend on the same level as Bear Bryant. Increment your personal odds as to whether ND Nation is a brilliant, long-running piece of performance art as you will.
Top ten! Sort of, anyway. Michigan slides in front of MSU and Wisconsin in the coaches' poll and finishes ninth. The AP puts M behind both the Badgers and Spartans and has them 12th (USC's presence in the AP accounts for the other spot).
THE VENGANCE OF DOYLE WILL BE ABRUPT AND HAVE A SILLY NICKNAME. John Beilein just made himself a terrible enemy:
"A note to you guys, I got a chance to see (2012 signee) Glenn Robinson III play in Milwaukee this past weekend, and holy cow is that kid good," Doyle said on the program. "And I've got a prediction next year: I think Michigan is a Final Four team next year."
"What happy hour are you at right now?" he said in jest.
I like that the newspaper clarified that Beilein was joking. Better safe than sorry.
Speaking of Robinson III, he faced off with UNC commit and secret Mortal Kombat character JP Tokoto in a touted matchup; Robinson got the better of it on the scoreboard with 33 to Tokoto's 28 and posterized some dude:
Rivals was impressed:
Already a four-star prospect who ranks #34 nationally in the class of 2012, Robinson continues to take his game to new heights. With near 6-foot-7 size, a great frame, deep range and plenty of athleticism, Robinson is one of the most efficient wings in the country.
Capable of operating as a jump shooter, Robinson also has a high post game, scores at the rim and finishes on the break. While he doesn’t rely on his athleticism, he has the ability to attack and put people in the rim when he needs to just like his father used to do.
Sounds like the second coming of Hardaway with an extra inch or two. I bet he sees some time at the 4 when Michigan goes small; take whatever minutes Novak gets down there and hand them to Robinson. Or maybe McGary if he has the quicks to guard other fours.
Rivals is not super reliable—remember that they moved Burke down after his senior year in HS—but GRIII (and McGary, and now Stauskas) has consensus.
Q: could we see the return of the 1-3-1 at times next year? Length is a key if you're going to run it and Michigan has not had much of that in Beilein's tenure at M. When the 2012 class hits the floor that will change. Many lineups will have just one player—Burke or Brundidge—shorter than 6'5". Right now it's a once-in-a-while way to give up an open three and not get an offensive rebound; with that length it could be the turnover machine it needs to be if it's going to be effective.
Bill O'Brien upshot. It may have some positive impact for Michigan:
…if reports are true, O'Brien won't be on Penn State's campus immediately -- and the wait could potentially extend past a very important deadline. According to Boston Herald Patriots beat reporter Ian Rapoport, O'Brien will remain the Patriots' offensive coordinator throughout the playoffs. And while the NFL playoffs start this weekend, the Patriots' season won't be ending so soon. New England is the top seed in the AFC, meaning the Patriots have a bye week this week, and are the favorite to make it to Super Bowl XLVI.
That would take O'Brien's tenure as Pats OC out past signing day. O'Brien has less than a month to assemble a staff and get those guy out on the recruiting trail, and he'll be trying to do that while also watching Tom Brady call all his own plays on the field. This version of The Process is sure to shake some additional recruits free.
Michigan would dearly like it if one of them was MA CB Armani Reeves. Reeves just saw his recruiting contact axed, which has Ohio State fans yo-ho-hoing about pirating Camren Williams and Reeves. If Williams shakes free that would remove a big point in PSU's favor… and move it wherever he goes. Like maybe Ohio State. Hurrah.
Reeves is planning on a visit to Michigan this weekend, though.
Yes, you absolutely are. LIES from ESPN executive Burke Magnus:
"I sense that people who run college football and run the conferences obviously are not tone-deaf, and Mike's comments I think were reflective of where this group is," Magnus said. "They intend to give thoughtful consideration and discussion to every possible format consideration that there is. That's encouraging."
Legends and leaders. QED. Burke Magnus was grown in a vat, by the way. An executive vat. I'm disappointed the interviewer here didn't take the opportunity to ask if ESPN was comfortable forcing colleges to lose money on bowl games they own.
This is is unalloyed good news, though:
"We like the concept of a meaningful New Year's Day, not that it's not meaningful now," Magnus said.
Anything that breaks up the parade of Big Ten mediocrity on NYD is welcome. For one, I'd watch those games if they weren't on at the same time. For two, it destroys the concept of New Year's Day as a thing to aspire for when 6-6 teams regularly wander in from their mandated eight-day Cristal turbo-massages to poop all over tradition. In their Quest For Marketing programs have taken formerly meaningful metrics (bowl game, NYD bowl game) and bastardized them so they say "went .500" and "finished in the top six Big Ten teams." Any pushback on that is welcome.
Truth beyond parody. The Onion attempts to satirize punting, instead creates alternate reality:
In a league-wide poll, head coaches from all 32 teams were asked if they enjoyed punting, and to describe how much enjoyment it made them feel. All 32 answered "no" to the first question, and either "none at all" or "very little" to the second.
Only two respondents answered "very little" instead of "none at all": Cowboys coach Jason Garrett, who admitted he may have been confused by the question, and Denver coach John Fox, who said he took some comfort in the fact that punting meant he was voluntarily relinquishing possession of the ball and that his quarterback, Tim Tebow, hadn't done anything stupid with it.
There are 10-15 NFL coaches who would have answered "love it more than my children."
Etc.: Auburn running back Michael Dyer bizarrely transfers to Arkansas State to follow Gus Mahlzahn, who bizarrely took the Arkansas State job for a massive paycut. Should we check for a supervillian mind control ray in the vicinity of wherever the hell Arkansas State is?
Other burning questions: is it official Daily policy to follow the initials CCHA with "gongshow" at every opportunity? How is Michigan going to sort out their linebackers next year? Is this bracketologist intentionally pairing five-seed Michigan with potential second round opponent West Virginia for storyline appeal or is it just coincidence? What is with Jon Horford's foot?
File under "Phil Knight is an immature wheel of cheese." Since you are not related to someone on West Virginia's football team you did not see the Orange Bowl postgame—or the second half—and thus could not boggle at Nike's latest foray into puns a six-year-old thinks are played out:
I'm just like… man. Man. Democracy is over. When can we be ruled by machines? Is it soon? I hope it's soon.
The mind further reels at the notion that there's another one of these things left and Nike has already used their finest Def Leppard reference. What's left? "SHOW ME YOUR TITTLES" is left. Search your heart. You know it to be true.
BONUS: how about that dynamic offense in Morgantown winning a BCS game? We should hire that Holgorsen chap, I think. What could go wrong?
Just one more time, six more times. Hinton's sworn off shooting the rapidly cooling corpse of the BCS but can't help pointing out that no matter the outcome of the game I probably won't bother to watch, Alabama cannot have a better season than LSU:
With a win in the title game, the Crimson Tide will finish the year 12-1 with two wins over teams ranked in the final polls, none of them from outside of the SEC. With a loss, LSU will finish 13-1 with four or five wins over teams ranked in the final polls (give or take West Virginia [ED: that would be take]), four of them coming outside of Baton Rouge and two of them coming against fellow conference champions (West Virginia and Oregon) who are also playing in BCS bowls. The Tigers and Tide would be be 1-1 against one another, with LSU's win coming at Alabama. LSU will still be the champion of the division and the conference.
In a system that continues to defer to polls and resumés, there is virtually nothing Alabama can do short of ritually sacrificing the Tigers to the sun that can make its season better than LSU's season.
Every game counts except the national title game. Whenever you think the BCS has reached its maximum cockup level, just wait two years. I can't wait to see what 2014 has in store. Possibilities:
- Alabama versus LSU
- LSU versus Alabama
- Alabama versus Alabama
- Alabama versus the entire Pac-12 with assault rifles
- Alabama versus crippling ennui
- The Los Angeles Angels of Alabama versus Giant Catfish
- Tiny Alabama versus Ditka
- The 1996 Olympics' rhythmic gymnastics competition versus the Large Hadron Collider
- Just, like, Harvey Updyke wanking it for three hours
I have Updyke –3 over the Higgs Boson. Elsewhere in controversy needlessly barged into, Jacobi wonders what's to be done about "rogue" AP voters in an article with one of those jarring in-post links to another column. This is from Doyel:
That's settled. AP voters who will not vote for Alabama under any circumstances are to be given a cookie and a certificate vouching for their cognitive abilities. This is essentially Jacobi's conclusion as well.
Flantastic. Darryl Stonum, this is not so good:
Michigan wide receiver Darryl Stonum… was ticketed this morning in Ann Arbor for driving on a revoked license, 15th District Court records show.
Stonum, 21, was stopped by Ann Arbor police after he checked in with probation at 7:03 a.m., said Steve Hill, Stonum's probation officer. Hill said Stonum was not taken into custody.
A probation violation form is being completed, but so far Stonum has not been charged with violating probation.
Reading between the lines it seems like the court is not hugely peeved by this, but thin ice and all that. I don't think this should have an impact on his availability next year as long as he successfully jumps through all his hoops. This probably adds another half-dozen. Stonum needs an understanding brunette to wake up at 6 with him.
Turnover in Madison. Bielema got raided pretty good this month:
Wisconsin lost two assistant coaches Wednesday -- wide receivers coach DelVaughn Alexander and linebackers coach Dave Huxtable -- bringing the total number of departures to four. Huxtable will join former Badgers aides Paul Chryst and Bob Bostad in Pittsburgh as the Panthers' defensive coordinator. Chryst is Pitt's new head coach, while Bostad will serve as his offensive coordinator. Alexander is joining Arizona State's staff.
Bielema initially thought Bostad would be the only assistant joining Chryst at Pitt. It appears as though Huxtable will be the last departure.
It'll be interesting to see how Wisconsin copes. Their offense went from decent to lethal with Chryst's arrival. Losing him is kind of a deal. The hot name right now is Oklahoma "co-OC" Jay Norvell, which sounds like a good idea. Why does Wisconsin consistently have good ideas that no one else in the Big Ten does?
Longhorn fail. A major opportunity for ESPN to strongarm the Longhorn Network onto someone, anyone's cable has come and gone:
Comcast and the Walt Disney Company announced a 10-year, multiplatform distribution deal Wednesday that brings the “TV Everywhere” concept one step closer to reality. The Longhorn Network however, is not a part of the ESPN channels included in the agreement.
I'm rooting for the LHN to be an ignominious failure for many reasons: irritation at Texas for being one of two main parties that screwed up the structure of college football, a desire for the Big Ten's model to remain cromulent, etc. If the LHN doesn't get on cable by this fall it probably won't ever. At least it got a commenter on the above article to call Texas "the Ted DiBiase of college football."
No, not so much. From a Daily article on Molk:
“How we came in and how my first four seasons went, I thought we were the stain on Michigan tradition,” Molk said, walking slowly toward the winner’s podium on the turf. “But the reality is that we came back from everything and we’re back to where Michigan is.”
A big game. Basketball takes on Indiana tonight in Bloomington. Vegas and Kenpom both have them 8 point underdogs against the resurgent Hoosiers, which makes this a gravy outing. Win and that's a major bonus; lose and eh, we're okay.
Rumors be rumoring. There was some recent chatter from the OSU side of the rivalry that moving The Game was inevitable and had a good chance of happening when the new set of schedules came out. Dave Brandon says this is not so:
"That's just Internet rumor that has no factual basis," he said. "It's not going to happen."
Etc.: more postgame react from the Key Play. Getting a bit ornery (justifiably in cases that are not the overturned TD) as the shock fades. Shakin' the Southland reacts to the Orange Bowl fallout. Via On The Banks, a NYT report on Penn State documents unveiled by FOIA requests shows the institutional reaction to the media firestorm. I'm surprised the NYT can manage this since Pennsylvania has somehow exempted Penn State from transparency laws.
Wallpaper from the MZone.
Two pretty much unrelated things in one post. I blame everything.
Vince Young; Garrett Gilbert
A Braves and Birds post on the recent downfalls of Texas and Florida spurred responses from Blutarsky and Smart Football about the role of various schemes as your talent level waxes and wanes. The B&B theory:
…we can criticize [Texas] for not learning the lesson of the Vince Young era. Apparently, the lesson that Brown took was “recruit five-star quarterbacks from Texas,” when he should have concluded “recruit quarterbacks who can run.” In short, Texas was seduced by the prospect of a local five-star pocket passer and shifted their offense away from what worked for them when they were upsetting USC in the game of the decade.*
One can look at Florida and see the same mistake. Urban Meyer has always won with mobile quarterbacks. … Nevertheless, Meyer was seduced by the same siren that causes Mack Brown to jump off the deck of his ship and swim to his doom. He had a five-star pocket passer – John Brantley – living one hour from campus, so Meyer committed his post-Tebow Gators to Brantley. Meanwhile, Meyer did not offer Denard Robinson a chance to play quarterback in Gainesville.
Brantley and Gilbert imploded, the team went with them, and the guys coordinating them left. Michael goes on to say this is a "cautionary tale" for Brady Hoke, whose most successful prior year was with Nate Davis. Davis is claimed to be mobile.
I'm not in agreement with his police work there. Hoke's offensive coordinator at Ball State was Stan Parrish, not Al Borges, and dubbing Nate Davis "mobile" is stretching the term. Davis averaged 3.7 non-sack carries per game in 2008, i.e. he had some scrambles and QB draws. For his part, Borges had great success with statue Ryan Lindley* (-57 rushing yards this year) at SDSU, Davis-ish scrambler Cade McNown (a couple hundred yards per year) at UCLA, and only-secretly-athletic Jason Campbell (30 rushing yards in 2004) at Auburn.
Michigan's long-term trajectory on offense should not expose them to the same problems Texas and Florida experienced. Hoke is a defensive guy who famously goes sans headset and Borges's successes have come with throwers at QB. That some of the throwers have been able to move a little doesn't make a difference. The offense is still not predicated on the QB's legs; instead the legs are a bonus that keeps some plays alive and gets you some yards on scrambles. In Michigan's case they are moving towards their OC's expertise, not away from it. (At least insofar as Greg Davis had any expertise. He and GERG should start a cover band.)
Variance: super teams hate it.
After passing through Get The Picture's digestive system the above post spurred Smart Football to offer some thoughts on the difference between a pro-style offense that is intent on putting up points and one that's intent on not blowing it:
For the truly elite-level recruiting teams, I think the agnosticism of pro-style treats them well because they basically recruit incredible players and then figure out the system and scheme later. Moreover, spread offenses, option offenses, and really any pass-first offense (including West Coast attacks of which I’d put Georgia in the category) require very good quarterback play. Alabama and LSU are basically designed to win in spite of their quarterbacks; Nick Saban does not want to return an all world defense with a bunch of five-star playmakers and lose because his QB was a junior and had some “growing pains”, which absolutely happens at every level. …
For everyone else having an identity and being somewhat contrarian helps a lot because it allows you to focus your recruiting on guys that can help you, and in many cases it means you don’t have to compete with some other teams for those guys. … Moreover, because you have a system with specific skills required, you can develop those skills. There are many examples, but think about how those Texas Tech teams under Leach always had four guys who could contribute and were open, even against the best Big 12 teams, because they’d worked on those skills every day for two years before they got in the game and had countless reps.
The former is what Ohio State did for years under Tressel, managing games with Krenzel and Boeckman and Zwick and Belissari and even most of the time with Troy Smith and Terrelle Pryor. They massaged enough safe points out of their offense to let the reliably crushing D win games. Sometimes—usually against Michigan—they went full-throttle. This happened when they feared the opponent more than variance.
The latter is why hiring Paul Johnson was a good idea for Georgia Tech but would be a bad one for Georgia, why Leach is a great hire at Washington State, and how Rodriguez made West Virginia into a power with rag-tag recruiting classes and some duct tape.
Michigan was in the former camp, but after Bo they accomplished their goals less successfully than OSU. This goes back to the Mo era, when Michigan would show up for the game with three or four losses and inexplicably beat—often thump—John Cooper's national title contenders. To me, Michigan-OSU in the 90s will forever be a fourth quarter exchange between some ranting Buckeye fan and a snot-nosed teen version of yrs truly:
MAN ADVERTISING BEER ON HAT: You have four losses! We're ranked in the top five! We're a national title contender!
FUTURE BLOGGER: You were.
That was fun as far as it went but playing spoiler ain't no way to live. For Michigan to not be a second banana in the league they either had to
- recruit and execute better
- get an identity that allowed them to perform better than their recruiting rankings
Rodriguez was an attempt to do the latter. Hoke is an attempt to do the former, or at least he seems like it. Borges is a wildcard. Maybe he's content to ramp his offense down into Tressel/Lloydball territory once the defense is truly locked in, but maybe Michigan will morph into a team with an identity on offense, even if that identity is the Boise State and Stanford have used lately.
When to put the toys in the box
There is a point at which it makes sense to trundle through games as safely as possible. That point is when you have the LSU/Alabama/OSU massive talent advantage over all comers. If Hoke's recruiting continues at the level it has, Michigan may achieve that. More realistically, a lack of oversigning and/or culture of rampant barely-punished extra benefits will leave them short of that, leave them in the same 8-10 range they usually inhabited under Carr.
That will mean they'll have to have something to rely on on offense other than don't-screw-it-up-ball if they're going to be nationally relevant more often than they have been in the past 20 years.
The early returns here are inconclusive since Borges is biding his time with Denard while recruiting Shane Morris. But they are encouraging, both when it comes to Hoke's game theory aggression and Borges's tendency to keep the pedal depressed when it makes sense to. Buried deep in his own territory up 17 against a Nebraska team that has struggled to move the ball, he'll run-run-punt; staked to a three point lead against Ohio State second down is for moving chains.
*[Lindley's implosion this year—he's now 80th in passer rating—suggests Borges is a plus playcaller/schemer. SDSU returned much of their offensive line and has Ronnie Hillman; while their WR situation was bound to drag the numbers down it shouldn't have been that severe.]
Black Heart Gold Pod. I guest on the BHGP podcast this week. About a half hour, and if you haven't listened to a BHGP podcast yet you have to listen to the theme music at the very least.
Listen to the rest of it to hear me lose my mind when Patrick suggests we should be grateful we missed out on Ferentz three years ago, plus me talking Jacobi down from his 45-14 Michigan prediction. These are some depressed gentlemen.
Die Wayne State. Basketball tips off tonight with their first of two exhibitions. If you're not local you can check out the stream for free with the code BTDN3FR33. (Anyone know if I can get a replay of the game online? I'm headed to hockey.)
Surprisingly, Horford is slated to start over Morgan. Read into that what you will; I think there's something in there. Possibly "if we play both of them neither will foul out in ten minutes." I'm not reading much into Douglass over Burke until the team goes to Maui.
Meanwhile, the McGary afterglow continues at UMHoops with a look at Michigan's top recruits of the last 20 years. Man, are there some conflicted feelings on that list. I didn't remember Horton being that touted. AnnArbor.com surveys big time recruits as freshmen to see what they managed.
SIDE NOTE: People are talking about maybe getting two years out of McGary if he doesn't blow up upon entry. I've seen some hopes that the NBA mandates a second year in college, as has been rumored, but that would actually hurt Michigan's chances of keeping him around. As a kid who prepped he would probably be eligible anyway, and with a huge swath of talent suddenly off limits he'd be a major attraction in a weak draft. In the long term Michigan should hope for a setup closer to baseball's, where a big chunk of Calipari's recruits don't even get their cup of coffee in the NCAA before heading to the league.
The pump up. Jeff Goodman has moved to CBS and uses his new gray platform to pump up one John Beilein:
McGary is heading to a Michigan program that is dangerous this season -- and could be downright scary in the next couple of years with the addition of a monster in the middle.
Even without Morris, Michigan should still be a factor in the Big Ten race this season.
There's Novak -- one of those guys who every coach regrets passing over when he came out of high school -- and fellow senior Stu Douglass.
Much is expected of Tim Hardaway Jr., the son of the former NBA guard with the same name who is coming off a strong freshman season. The same can be said of skilled forward Evan Smotrycz, who has a year under his belt.
Freshman Trey Burke, who was a teammate of Ohio State star Jared Sullinger in high school, will likely share the point guard duties with Douglass.
And while he isn't overly intimidating from a physical standpoint, Burke is a guy who makes quality decisions -- and can really shoot the ball (something Morris was unable to do).
"He can do it all," Sullinger said of Burke. "He's fast and knows how to get his teammates the ball. There's a lot of pressure having to fill the role of Darius Morris, but he'll be able to do it."
What are we thinking here? Six seed? I think maybe a six seed.
Oversigning Bowl gets some attention. Cribbing from Eleven Warrior's previous post, the WSJ points out this weekend's 1-vs-2 matchup is pretty close to a 1-vs-2 matchup in a more dubious department:
Alabama has signed 137 players over the past five years, for an average of 27.4 per year. It signed 32 in 2008—a class that included nine starters on this year's team, plus Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram. This total places Alabama among the top five nationally in oversigning.
LSU has signed 126 players over the same period, which works out to 25.2 per year. That number is considerably lower than Alabama's but higher than many other top teams.
Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds, whose football team has signed just 112 players over five years (25 fewer than Alabama) said oversigning is "certainly an advantage."
LSU says that the Tigers have signed "at the NCAA limit of permitteed enrollees or one or two above," which is reassuring since 25 times 4 is probably less than 85. LSU doesn't know. They're not in the business of knowing.
Molk in the NFL. NFP's Wes Bunting on one of Michigan's NFL candidates this year:
A shorter, compact lineman who looks nearly maxed out physically, despite weighing 288-pounds. Looks a little tight hipped trying to sit into his stance, but has a quick first step, and snaps and steps very quickly. Creates leverage for himself consistently, extends his arms and can easily reach and seal on plays off his frame. Displays a compact, sturdy punch and can stun defenders at the point. Looks really natural when asked to quickly reach block on runs to the perimeter, as he's coordinated getting his feet around and can seal the edge routinely. Displays natural range/balance getting into blocks at the second level as well. Breakdowns well showcasing the ability to routinely seal on contact.
The rest of it is about how he lacks the power to win in-line or create push, with some dings on his pass protection. Generally positive about his ability to be an NFL player in a zone (cough cough) system.
The Merrill situation. Mike Spath has an update on what's going on with Jon Merrill:
"The initial suspension was in concrete - it was a dedicated suspension to so many games and so much time - and in further discussions, we changed that to an indefinite suspension, which means it's going to be longer," head coach Red Berenson said.
"There is no game we can point at and say he'll be back. But what we have done is we've put him back on the ice and he's practicing with the team."
It sounds like he's passed his OHL flirtation and will stick at Michigan unless something untoward happens in the near future. Spath also floats the potential return of Merrill for his junior year—if he's only playing half of this year the usually-patient Devils probably won't be pressing him to sign.
Meanwhile, it seems like Phil Di Giuseppe's recent trade to Windsor isn't something to worry about. Windsor just blew up their team by shipping out Jack Campbell and one of their top scorers for a bucket of picks and speculative assets like the rights to PDG; if Di Giuseppe wanted to bolt he'd be walking into a crappy team after he'd already reached a college campus. When defections like that happen they're usually players struggling with the level of play (Jason Bailey: 0-0-0, –11; Robbie Czarnik: 3-3-6) who want to take it down a notch or people who just hate their coach (Duncan Keith). PDG is obviously not in the first boat and it would be a surprise if he was in the second.
Even the scenario in which Di Giuseppe is drafted by the college-phobic Kings and signs doesn't get him to the OHL—he is AHL eligible already because pro teams don't prohibit college kids from playing in the A before 20. (Why don't they, by the way? Shouldn't College Hockey Inc be all over the NHL about this double standard? Sure could have used Max Pacioretty a second year, no?)
Etc.: The Willis Ward documentary is live and in the wild. Jacob Trouba in a skirt. Meet all the people who won't be filling wherever the Hurricanes are playing in 30 years. Hockey preview from MLive. We are less of a fraud than PSU. A Nebraska zone read wrinkle that gets the QB outside. Would love to see this—have been wanting this for three years, actually.