national champs baby
Tuesday: In Your City, If It's New York. I'll be in NYC Tuesday to talk about the team and sheepishly admit what I thought the past two years. The event is supposed to be somewhere around this page, but I can't find it without a login. Details:
3rd Annual Football Season Kick-off Party with MGoBlog's Brian Cook
Date: Tuesday, August 24
Time: 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Location: Brother Jimmy's, 116 East 16th Street (between Irving & Park)
Cost: FREE for pre-registered AAUM members, and $20 for all others online through Tuesday, August 18. Day-of door pricing will be $25 for everyone. Register at http://alumni.umich.edu/event/?2262bf16-8fbe-4d22-befa-563be5d594ae
InformationDue to popular demand, the alumni club has once again invited sports blogger Brian Cook to return to NYC to spread his knowledge of all-things Michigan football and preview the 2010 season. Come out to meet and mix with your fellow Maize and Blue football fans!
Contact: Alex Trambitas, firstname.lastname@example.org
Yeah, I wouldn't pay 20 bucks to hear me talk either. Hope you're in the alumni club.
I find it sad*. I wish this didn't have an incongruous backing track—I actually checked my tabs in case some highlight reel was going in another—but here's Bo blowing up during the '89 Illinois game:
Woo ha! Michigan would win 24-10 en route to the Rose Bowl.
They're back except they're different and probably uglier. OSU will again wear wack Nike uniforms for The Game. Ohio State fans are suitably appalled:
Do you hate things that are good? Great, me too! We have so much in common. In fact, our friends at Nike have taken it upon themselves to market to folks just like us, people with (or without!) disposable income who enjoy kitsch, tasteless things.
As such, the university announced Tuesday that for a second straight year, the slow and steady commercialization of The Game will evidently proceed accordingly. This season, Ohio State is widely expected to take the field in a scarlet variety of the same faux-throwback-to-the-future-OMGboomstyle-backs the team rocked in conquering the rebel occupied forest moon of
EndorAnn-Arbor last November.
By 2015 The Game will be Rollerball. It will star LL Cool J, and TV people will love it.
But hey, at least that effort to have a terrible phone company be a title sponsor was swiftly demolished when fans revolted. I'm not sure why the same hasn't happened with this—think of what it will look like in Getty Images in 20 years!—but if there was any ever debate about which team had the more iconic uniforms, it's over now. If Michigan tried to wear anything other than the home blues they've worn since 1565, you'd find whoever made that decision strapped to a donkey with a sock in his mouth and GPS directions to Columbus the next day.
That is only a silver lining to a dark cloud of stupidity, though. Anyone who is still angry that Michigan decided to take way more money from Adidas: you are nuts.
Acceptable? Wha? Penn State fans have been complaining up a storm about the idea they'd get swapped into the Essentially West division of the Big Ten; I've been doing the same about the idea of getting Ohio State as a cross-divisional rival. Will we ever get along? Maybe. Slow States may have put together a division setup that works for everyone:
Division A: Penn State, Nebraska, Iowa, Michigan State, Purdue, Northwestern
Division B: Ohio State, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois
This necessitates the cross-division rivals, which bleah, but I look at it and think "not horrible," as do Penn State fans. The only problem is breaking up the Wisconsin-Iowa game (Iowa-Minnesota is the protected game) but they do get Nebraska instead. I don't think anyone would have a major problem with this arrangement except "TV people," who can go jump in a lake since their idea of thinking long term is next week.
Remain calm! Skepticism about Kevin Newsome is totally rooted in jealousy and bitterness instead of "repeating what Penn State sources say":
A source close to the program told The Patriot-News earlier in the week that Bolden, the true freshman from Michigan, is clearly the most talented of PSU's four quarterbacks.
Joe Paterno may still settle on former walk-on Matt McGloin as his starter for the Sept. 4 opener against Youngstown State because of McGloin's familiarity with the offense.
So that's a true freshman and a walk-on in front of Newsome, who "has not performed well" to date. It'll be interesting to see how Bolden does on multiple levels, since Michigan chose to pursue Gardner over him and Tim saw him a lot in high school and was resoundingly unimpressed.
They grow moohaha. Check out this bizarre hockey rink:
That's from the NHL's development camp, where they're testing out all kinds of weird stuff including giant cyclopean faceoff circles and—tingle—super-thick blue lines. Most comments about the latter (which I've been advocating for years in my oversigning-level campaign against hockey offsides) center on the expansion of the offensive zone:
Wider blue lines to increase the size of offensive zone -- I've always liked this idea. In widening the lines, there's more room to keep the puck in the zone when it goes out to the line, but the zone itself remains the same size and the neutral zone doesn't shrink. It's an idea whose time has come, but only if the linesmen is vigilant in getting into position to make the close calls.
This is a benefit, but it's an ancillary one. The major asset of XXL blue lines is a serious reduction in those nothing offsides calls where one team is trying to rush the puck into the zone and a guy is three inches off. A thicker blue line increases the demilitarized zone and should reduce the number of interesting rushes killed off in favor of a neutral-ice faceoff and inevitable dump-and-chase.
The guy above gives that rule change a slim chance of passing because it's "too radical," unfortunately.
Etc.: You can now mic bands. Will this matter? Probably not since last year's whinefest featured a bunch of audio engineers who described how difficult this was in detail. MATW fills in another "of the decade" blank with the top games.
Check the klaxon wiring, will you? The absence of Tate Forcier from the most recent Countdown to Kickoff video has been noticed and is causing consternation. Also it is spawning somewhat sad hypotheses that this is a brilliant tactic to confuse and alarm our enemies. My guess is either that they didn't want to put a guy with a solid blue helmet in the clips, thus spawning yet more speculation about solid blue helmets, or that Tate's minor injury (as reported by the BTN when they were at practice) had him down with the third team and they didn't want to spawn speculation about Tate as a third string option. They spawned the exact same speculation in a different way instead.
A couple of other bits Burgeoning Wolverine Star has gleaned from minute analysis of the countdown to kickoff videos:
- Mark Moundros has been running with the ones a lot in practice. His presence on the starting defense is really beginning to worry me. Then again Obi Ezeh has always worried me.
- Vincent Smith appears to be running with the twos and Fitzgerald Toussaint appears to be taking a lot of snaps with the starting offense.
I'm not sure how much either of those means, but Moundros winning the MLB job would be concerning, not so much because of what it says about Ezeh but what it might say about Kenny Demens, JB Fitzgerald, and the rest of the scholarship linebackers who have disappointed thus far in their careers.
Meanwhile in countdown to kickoff, here's Taylor Lewan and Craig Roh working on their vaudville routine:
Team, team, team. A debate settled: Bo Schembechler deployed the famous "The Team, The Team, The Team" speech prior to the 1984 season.
Bar bets resolved all around. Now: if Rodriguez is going to deploy "The Team" in his tweets can we get him to say "those who stay will be champions"? I have literally been waiting for this since he was introduced at halftime of the Ohio State game.
Ve vant the money. Great graph from the Daily Cardinal showing the television money (Lebowksi) landscape as of now:
Though tiny now, the Pac-10 is going to vastly increase those tiny circles when their contract expires in 2011. In a realm of ever-expanding cable options even the ACC was able to leverage their free agency into a massive increase in revenues. A Pac-10 plus Colorado and Utah is going to see their raw numbers shoot up. Same with the Big 12 when their contracts expire. That's one reason the much-hyped SEC ESPN contract was overblown: when you're locked in that long the contract is shiny up front but by the end of it looks ragged. The BTN is excepted because the conference owns half of it and gets a revenue share, so that 112 million now won't be 112 in 2031. The SEC's deals will still be 150 and 55 in 2023. Not to imply that's terrible or anything.
Conveniently for the Big Ten fan, the Machiavellian point of view lines up with the one that's good for the players: you want D-I football to be as expensive as possible for the participants, with an emphasis on required spending on student-athletes.
While we're talking money. The Sports Business Journal has a paywalled article on what the Big Ten will do with its contracts now that Nebraska's on the way, but they put some interesting numbers in the intro…
The Big Ten Conference is preparing to auction the TV rights to its new football championship game, a move that industry insiders say could fetch $15 million to $20 million a year. The conference also plans to reopen its current deal with ESPN to account for the addition of Nebraska…
…which will push them even farther into the lead. Maybe Minnesota and Illinois will actually hire some one real this time around? Gary Pinkel, Gary Patterson, Charlie Strong, etc?
Swing low, Iowa. I've been thinking this for a while and now I'll dare mention it because a couple other outlets have broached the same thing: isn't Iowa due for a recession after their debt-fueled 2009? The lasting image of Iowa's Orange Bowl-winning season isn't Adrian Clayborn turning something into a damp red smear* but an Indiana pass pinging off four separate players before landing Charmin-soft in the hands of Tyler Sash.
Now it can be told on a list of teams most likely to regress this year:
The Hawkeyes had a great record last year, but they weren't dominant. They beat Northern Iowa and Arkansas State by a combined four points. They nearly lost to Michigan and Michigan State. In 2010, they get every tough team in the Big Ten while missing Illinois and Purdue. Iowa State usually plays them tough regardless, and they go to Arizona. It's not going to be an explosive team, and the schedule is tough.
That's Team Speed Kills and it's admittedly hazy, but the point about NIU, Arkansas State, Michigan (guh), Michigan State, and that omitted Indiana game is well-taken: Iowa was 89th in total offense last year. That is not often the recipe for a top-ten team, especially when the top-ten defense lost about half its starters and is still deploying a walk-on at safety.
In 2008, Iowa had the best running back in the nation and the best defense in the Big Ten, but lost four of five games decided by three points or less and had to settle for a nice consolation prize in the Outback Bowl. In 2009, a less impressive team on paper turned those close games, winning four of five by three points or less and landing the program's highest AP poll finish since 1960.
That was despite dropping from second in the conference in scoring offense in '08 to tenth in '09, as well as dropping to tenth in rushing and total offense, and from ninth nationally to 34th against the run on defense. The only difference was the uncanny knack for rallying the troops when tied or trailing going into the fourth quarter, which Stanzi and Co. pulled off five times in as many attempts against Northern Iowa (down 13-10 at the start of the fourth), Penn State (down 10-5), Wisconsin (10-10), Michigan State (down 6-3) and Indiana (down 24-14).
…but only after pointing out his 56% completion rate and meh efficiency ratings. Meanwhile, those fourth quarter comebacks scream regression unless you think Stanzi is some Rick Six** prone version of John Elway chafing under Dan Reeves. I don't think Iowa will be bad, exactly, but I'd be less surprised by the Hawkeyes finishing fifth in the Big Ten than second.
*(Adrian Clayborn: I say this with the utmost respect possible OH GOD NO—)
**(I see you, stpaulhawkeye. "Rick Six" is brilliant.)
Wha? Sid Hartman is like a billion years old and whenever I read something from him he seems confused so take this stuff FWIW:
Delany didn't see the Big Ten going to nine conference games in football in the near future, but one thing that might force that move is the big-money schools having to pay to attract nonconference opponents.
Since Delany just gave the first day of Big Ten Media Days whatever slight usefulness it had by bluntly declaring a nine-game conference schedule on the way, by "near future" Hartman probably means 2013. Then again, he's old enough where that does seem like a far off place. I wouldn't pay it any mind given Delany's previous statements.
Falk never stops. Falk.
I'd look suspicious, too, kid. Via the SI vault, Desmond Howard dealing with the world's least enthusiastic autograph-seeker:
"Why don't you get out of that bucket of ice," I says, and he says "because you're wearing a Bulls jersey, a Phillies hat, and asking me to sign a Jaguars pennant. Also because I'm in crippling pain."
Score-o. Thanks to the largess of some guy who sold his company to Shell for just under five billion-with-a-b dollars, Penn State's perennial powerhouse club hockey team appears on the verge of moving on up to the big time:
Rumors and speculation have existed for more than a decade, but it finally appears Penn State is on the verge of building a new ice hockey arena near the Bryce Jordan Center and adding Division I men’s and women’s hockey programs.
“We’re close,” a source close to the situation told the Mirror on Thursday. “It won’t be long before we’ll be able to potentially make some kind of announcement. But it’s not a done deal yet.”
Close means within two months. Score. Penn State adding hockey would be the biggest positive development in college hockey since… uh… the shuttering of Division II gave D-I enough teams to expand the tournament to sixteen teams? I guess. If you even see that as a positive.
The existence of the Nittany Lions would bring Big Ten hockey into play—you need six teams to have an official Big Ten league—but extracting Minnesota and Wisconsin from their rich history in the WCHA is problematic. (No offense to the teams in the CCHA but I assume M, MSU, and OSU would leave in a hot second.)
There is the possibility that ripping flagship teams out of the CCHA and WCHA would see several weaker schools in those leagues fold, but it doesn't seem like a strong one. A WCHA anchored by North Dakota, Denver, and Colorado College is still a powerhouse full of good games. A few CCHA schools might be on shakier ground but the emergence of Notre Dame and Miami as powers with shiny new rinks would give the smaller conference a couple of anchors. Also, even if Big Ten teams play each other four times each they'll still have 12-14 nonconference dates to fill and will be able to keep up local rivalries.
Negotiating all that will take time; as it stands Penn State will be a member of the CCHA as soon as it fields a team. I'm betting the powers that be in the league had been informed that Penn State was laying groundwork when they rejected Huntsville's application.
(HT: Slow States. If you miss BSD's content from Kevin HD and RUTS, that's where they've relocated.)
Except with more Coastal Carolina. Slow States—which I don't think I'll be abbreviating, thanks, why don't you just name your blog Not Another Zimmerman Impersonator*—also looks at what a Penn State schedule might look like after the Big Ten goes to nine conference games by pretending ND is part of the Big Ten and looking at Michigan's schedules during the 12-game era. BCS opponents are bolded:
2002 – Washington (return trip), W. Michigan, ND, Utah
2003 – C. Michigan, Houston, ND, @Oregon (H-H)
2004 – Miami OH, ND, SDSU (11 games)
2005 – N. Ill, ND, E. Michigan (11 games)
2006 – Vandy, C. Michigan, ND, Ball State
2007 – [The Horror], Oregon (H-H), ND, E. Michigan
2008 – Utah, Miami OH, ND, Toledo
2009 – W. Michigan, ND, E. Michigan, Delaware State
2010 – UConn (H-H), ND, UMass, Bowling Green
Vandy isn't much but a couple of games against Utah were against vaguely(2002) to extremely(2008) BCS-caliber opposition
The assumption is that the best looking out of conference game gets the bump and Penn State's OOC schedule is going to look pretty sad. Thoughts related to this:
- Penn State's OOC schedule is already pretty sad.
- Michigan won't be able to dump ND and replace it with a tomato can without sparking a riot, so at least in their case they'll be upping the minimum number of BCS games they play over a span like this by four or five. Similarly, MSU and Purdue can't get away with three tomato cans, Ohio State is going to play at least one legit OOC opponent yearly, Illinois will likely continue its series with Missouri, and Minnesota will cast about looking for ways to fill Not The Metrodome. Indiana won't be able to replicate this year's mockery of college football.
- The net result will be more competitive games…
- …and probably fewer competitive games between conferences…
- …which is worth it if I don't have to sit through three MAC/I-AA games a year…
- …but Penn State fans will.
Solution: man up. Or have the legislature threaten terrible things unless you play Pitt every year like you goddamn well should.
*(Which is actually a great blog name for a technically-inclined fellow. Except for the acronym.)
Optimism is a disease. The readership of this here blog has predicted an 8-4 regular season according to the recent survey conducted by MGoUser "tpilews", with 84% predicting a win over UConn, 71% predicting one over Notre Dame, and so forth and so on. Despite being a home game, Wisconsin was declared the most terrifying opponent at 14%; other hypothetical losses come against Ohio State (31%), Iowa (35%), and Penn State (49%—a margin one vote VOTE OR DIE). As these things always are, it's too optimistic but that's life in August.
Divisions. None of this means anything, but:
- Joe Schad says the Big Ten will split into divisions with PSU and OSU on one side and Michigan and Nebraska on the other with a guaranteed M-OSU game, which is absolutely the worst-case scenario for M assuming the rest of that division is the Iowa/Minnesota/Wisconsin triumvirate of hate and Michigan State: Michigan is the only team in the league with guaranteed games against four of the six powers. Woo.
- Teddy Greenstein, who I'll remind you works for a newspaper in Chicago and is therefore about as accurate as the Bleacher Report (the latest crack reporting is random anonymous sourcing that Kentucky's top recruit took 200k), suggests they'll go straight geography.
Dorsey difficulty. Premium article, but the bit that's relevant($) is small:
If Louisville is having a hard time getting him through, all conspiracy theories about admissions doing anything other than what they had do can go out the window. RR should never have gone after Dorsey; hopefully Michigan's pursuit of him didn't cost them Tony Grimes or Sean Parker.
Etc.: Via the MB, UConn has lost linebacker/DE Greg Lloyd for the season. Lloyd was UConn's second-leading tackler last year and possibly their best defensive player. If you don't know this already, the Big Ten Championship Game will be played in Indianapolis, as was ordained by geography.