Mike Lantry, 1972
Downside: I am no longer able to objectively evaluate his performance.
Woman with Cat|Pierre Bonnard
True Genius is Getting Away With It. Before I get into my self-indulgent emo crap about the Penn State game, go read consecutive Diarist of the Week Ron Utah's conclusion to the two-parter (Part I here) on Hoke vs. Saban recruiting and whether Michigan's at least following Bama's recruiting pattern toward future success. Money chart shows contributions from Saban recruits of various rivals ratings, with 1 (blue) the washouts, 2 (orange) the spot starters/useable depth, and 3 (maize) the starters & stars:
Yes, chartnazis he should have labeled that better. As I've mentioned before a lot of those sub-four stars (5.7 and lower) were down-rated against their apparent talent by Rivals and other sites because the kids were high-risk to meet NCAA academic requirements. Saban's strategy for tapping all of that talent was to oversign like a mother and let that the risk work to his benefit. Hoke's smaller classes have very few academic risks.
Diaries Etc.: LSAClassof2000 found the Big Ten has rushed for enough yards since 2000 to make two trips to the moon. I'll let GOLBOGM update his charts before diving too far into his comparison of the best NCAA hoops coaches. Here's his latest remaining schedule update. The Blockhams have a power outage and this is a metaphor for something. Marching On (the wallpaper by jonvalk). Marching on…
Best of the Board
So this week we learned a few hard truths. Like this basketball team isn't a 1 seed. And according to this thread there's a lot of people who come to MGoBlog for something other than cleverness and cats.
The "I only come for Brian" crowd got an inadvertent taste of that yesterday. Thursday content on the front page after a game with Penn State is supposed to be Ace's gifs, Brian's game column, the video highlights thing that keeps promising me they're upgrading their servers, UV, and This Week in Twitterverse. Instead you got Brian talking to cats and then nothing, because—raise of hands—after THAT who really wants gifs and highlights and links and tweets of Michigan defenders standing around while PSU's floppy walk-on drives for easy layups? If you weren't around for the game thread, or the postgame thread, I'll save you the trouble: it's 1200 comments alternating between calling our defense pathetic and the refs awful.
So cats. This isn't solely an internet phenomenon. The ancient Egyptians worshipped cats for their irreverence in the face of massive upsets to Hittites. The ancient Michigan fans used pictures of adorable kittens to make it through the aftermath of The Horror.
Since the late '90s the nittany variety has been that cathartic release for Michigan. Whenever it looked like our program was about to atrophy, a kitten in a scarf would appear, dressed all up nice like a real national program of consequence and culture, and lose in a fashion that let us regain at least some plausible measure of being Michigan fergodsakes. It was their apparent strength that catapulted the 1997 team to a #1 ranking we'd never relinquish. My freshman year a theretofore underwhelming squad blanked a top ten Penn State team in what's still one of the most memorable games I've ever been to. Minnesota tripped up their title-bound team in '99 but Michigan traveled to Happy Valley the following week, went nose to nose with Arrington and Brown, and sealed Tom Brady as the comeback kid. There's 2002. 2005 when is seemed all we could do was lose 4th quarters. 2007.
I discovered MGoBlog during that whole '07 Comcast/Big Ten Network spat. The Midwest's least favorite company was having a hissy fit over putting another Fox channel on a basic tier, because the way cable works is you have to buy 150 channels you don't want before getting to the ones you do, and nothing drives the masses to move up like sticking the Michigan game just out of reach.
As a result I had to go to a local bar to watch the Northwestern game. Amidst a classic DeBordian display of zone left that made that game way too close I ran into my old fraternity brother Dave Malak, who informed me there's a website that responded to Appalachian State by turning pink and posting lots of cats. Phones didn't yet have the internet they have today so it wasn't until that evening that I got home, searched for "michigan blog cats the horror" and got the September archives starting with the newest on top. The first MGo article I ever read began thus…
9/22/2007 - Michigan 14, Penn State 9 - 2-2, 1-0 Big Ten
Adrift on a sea of bodies, legs gone, head yanked back, enemies all around and pawing, Mike Hart stretches for the inch he needs and gets it. When Hart is gone and I am old and my mind flips through the rolodex of players past, this will be the image that lingers. It's his career writ microscopic. He takes his natural ability, and stretches it to its breaking point, and Michigan has a season again.
Somehow Mike Hart still feels like a secret. In some extremely obvious ways he is not: one of Michigan's vaunted triplets going into this season, he is widely acclaimed as the best back in the Big Ten and one of the best in the country. Anyone claiming the "no respect" card for Hart is going to have to make a strong case indeed. Everyone knows he is good. Maybe even great. But they don't know.
You can maybe forgive me and the other front-pagers if we try to sound like that sometimes. Writing is an impressionable craft; consciously or unconsciously we all imitate what we admire. I read Cook long before Foster-Wallace whom I've since devoured; prior to that my major sportswriting influences were Mitch Albom and Craig Ross. I adopted Brian's cheekiness because levity is the key to his genius for brevity and that's something I've always lacked; in turn he has little use for my themography or acoustic sensibilities. The advent of blogging sparked a new age of Impressionism in sports journalism, and I ask your patience as those of us who came after the vanguard fill in the white space of d'Orsay with our mimicry; we're all here for the Monets.
Contractually obligated highlight video
Board etc.: Denard catches footballs. MJ14 culled Twitter for some recruiting updates. Michael Scarn put together a handicapped 2014 recruiting board. M1817 explains Tom Brady's restructured contract so you can explain to people who question how/whether Tom could take less money.
Krzychawe Kryzewefski Coach K comments spark an interesting discussion on when it's appropriate to rush the court, situationally and in a "give the other team a second to get off the court" kind of way. The M's in the center of Crisler and Yost are "UNACCEPTABLE" according to M. Discover posters' super-secret double identities. Blackhawks fan tries to solicit mourning from Red Wings fans over the potential loss of that rivalry if Detroit moves East, receives a chorus full of "Yeah we'll miss you when we play Florida, maybe."
Your Moment of Zen:
From Marley Nowell.
As of this week for the first time in my adult life I have a front yard. I'm stoked for gardening and tossing various balls back and forth and stuff, but so far this is all I've done with it.
Hi. I would have packed this into yesterday's UV but internet problems + rehab equaled no. So here's the other stuff.
Local news, 1986. Wolverine Historian digs up a gem:
Five dollar parking and the hair, man. The hair. Check out the defector at around 2 minutes. We need a clip of that guy.
Position clarity and dang. In an interview with Touch the Banner, James Ross says he'll start off at the weakside linebacker spot. With Bolden ticketed for the center, I'm guessing Royce Jenkins-Stone is eventually slid to SAM. Where Kaleb Ringer goes is also probably in the middle.
I played hockey for a long time, and just being in that fast-paced environment helped, being able to see things. Hockey is really fast; you have to be able to move, and I think that really translates well to the football field.
Ross is 6'1", 225, and fast. If he could skate at all he would have been a crunching bodycheck factory had he stuck with the hockey. Video at TTB suggests he could not skate much as of early high school, but leave me to my lethal bodycheck fantasies.
More playoff stuff. I can't find this [freep] anywhere else, nor does this have a direct quote, but um… as far as reason not to have campus playoffs go this is even better than Bill Hancock's:
[Dave] Brandon understands the advantage a Big Ten team would gain from a playoff game on its campus but also realizes it’s not fair for schools across the country to play in the cold weather. Brandon also said he polled U-M players, who said they like to go to warm-weather bowl sites.
It's not fair. My brain stopped working. This is where I say something snarky or something about how this is not a good argument. I can't. Logic has been suspended. Get The Picture:
And just to show you how absurd this gets, rather than stand his ground on the more fan-friendly on-campus sites, Michigan State’s athletic director hopes instead that the NCAA will help families pay for the travel expense of going to an additional postseason game.
I give up. The rest of this column will be written by my wife's cat.
THE LARGE HAIRY ONE SAYS THIS NEXT. You're probably expecting this to be in hilarious broken English lolcatese. Typical. I quit.
I do say this is next. Cats: cannot get them to do anything. Anyway, blogosphere old timers may remember Vijay, who ran one of the ur-blogs back in the day. He still hangs out on some message boards and put together a picture of the distance traveled by fans to get to bowl sites last year:
Avg distance traveled for the bowl
Big 10: 1261
Pac 10: 775
Big XII: 701
Big 10 travels MUCH further than anyone else. SEC travels much less. No surprise.
Avg miles differential (how far a team had to travel, compared to their opponent: + = traveling further)
Big 10: +812
Big XII: -137
Pac 10: -470
Big 10 is the only major conference that is generally playing further from home than their opponents.
# of games within 500 miles of home
Big 10: 1/10
Big XII: 3/8
Pac 10: 3/7
EVERY SINGLE SEC TEAM played within 500 miles of home.
Guess which SEC team was the only one to travel further for their bowl than their opponent. Answer below.
Meanwhile, every single Big 10 team traveled further than their opponent. Even Purdue, which got to play in Michigan, ended up playing Western Michigan.
Trivia answer: Alabama, who played LSU in New Orleans.
Use of the word fair in relation to this makes me want to wear around a horse. I'll say "I'm actually a slide rule, call me the King of Albania." I'll wear a sock on my hand I call Prince Knight who speaks only in riddles. His only riddle is "how are these people in charge?"
The cat does not find this amusing. I'm going to shake him until he does.
HELP I'M STUCK IN BLADERUNNER
ALSO BONUS BONUS BONUS BONUS. Uniform hijinks are going to be an annual thing now From the above-linked article.
He discussed the heightened attention on U-M's jerseys, particularly in football. He said the school might have done too much with changing them last season and plans to quiet the speculation this fall by having a single rollout of all the game jerseys they’ll wear throughout the season. He said coaches, players and recruits enjoy variety.
"School" should be read as "Dave Brandon" and "speculation" should be read as "lack of speculation."
So at least there won't be any horrible, horrible surprises this year, and five different outfits seems off the table. Regular alternate whatnots are here to stay. Embrace it. I want wings on the pants. And the jerseys. I want a uniform that's just one giant wing. Like, when the offense lines up the unit should look like one winged helmet. With claws!
A note on something that happened last week. You know that child-porn-havin' OSU-recruit-creepin' twitter guy from last week? One: if you asked me to draw a composite of all OSU fans it would be him. Two: when you are in photos, keep your head straight.
WHY DOESN'T YOUR NECK WORK, MEDIAN OF ALL OHIO STATE FANS EMBODIED?
Seriously, you should get that checked out or something. Also, thank you for existing.
Better at being in photos than OSU median guy. Jehu Chesson on the track:
Head: straight up and down.
Chesson won the 300 M hurdles at a regionals meet and is working on his 110M skills.