Don't tell the SEC, but Charles Woodson has been on something of a satellite camp tour of his own lately, crossing the country to meet fans and talk wine. Woodson's the proprietor of Charles Woodson Wines, and he and director of operations Rick Ruiz have been holding events where fans get a chance to taste some of the company's offerings (like the 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, which made Wine Spectator's 2014 Top 100 list) and purchase autographed bottles of said wine. Woodson and Ruiz were in Ann Arbor for an event at the new Plum Market near North Campus yesterday, and I had the opportunity to sit down with Woodson for a few minutes to talk about some of his memories of Michigan.
If you're beating yourself up because you missed the event yesterday you should stop, but you're going to need to cancel your plans for this afternoon: Charles will be at the Plum Market in West Bloomfield (6565 Orchard Lake Rd.) from 4-6PM; there's no tasting event today, but you can purchase a bottle of the 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, get it autographed by Woodson at no additional cost, and ask that burning question you've had since '97.
What are some of your favorite memories from your time at Michigan?
"My favorite memories? I don't know. I mean, of course it all revolves around football, you know. [laughs] But really it was, let's say memories of dorm rooms all of us stayed in, because most of us were in West Quad or South Quad. So it was just the times that we all spent together in the dorms. We were all kind of close knit, especially your class. The times we spent together in our rooms, whether we were partying or whatever it was, it was always great."
The [annual West Quad v. South Quad] snowball fight?
"Snowball fight, mmhmm. And then of course the games. My first time running out in '95, running onto the field and kind of losing my breath that first game because I had been in the Big House before but never as a player, and all of a sudden I'm a player and it's like 'oh, wow.' Kind of the magnitude of it hit me. Then of course the Ohio State game with a chance to go to the Rose Bowl, winning that game, the punt return, and the rose in the mouth. I'd say that's five things right there."
In that game, did you allow that receiver a free inside release to bait Stanley Jackson into throwing an interception in the endzone?
"Well, it wasn't deliberate to let him inside, but it was deliberate to undercut him because it was in the endzone and you're always taught, you know, in the endzone the guy's not running a deep route- there's nowhere to go. So you undercut the route and the quarterback threw it right to me, so it worked out."
Did you have a favorite defensive play call or coverage that you guys ran when you were in college?
"No, I didn't. I mean, it was pretty simple what we did. Either I was in man-to-man or it was Cover 3 for the most part. But I played on the wide side of the field most of the time so no, I didn't have a favorite call."
Was there any receiver you had a bigger rivalry with in college than David Boston?
"Uh, no. Yeah, he was the biggest. He was the one that talked the most noise, you know, on that team. He was their star receiver and of course me being on defense, it was kind of a natural thing. So yeah, he would have been my biggest competition."
How did you get into wine and winemaking?
"So I spent a lot time in Napa Valley as a result of being picked there. The Oakland Raiders' training camp was in Napa Valley, and so as a result of being there three and a half-four weeks every training camp I used to spend a lot of time in the Valley at different restaurants just kind of watching people interact with wine, and I became very interested in it. I decided a few years after that that I would get into it."
As always, click the links/stills to open each GIF in a lightbox.
I attended my first Michigan game in 1994, at the tender age of six. One year later, Charles Woodson made his debut in Maize and Blue.
Yesterday, Woodson announced his impending retirement. In the interim, he put together arguably the greatest career by a defensive player in football history. Those of us lucky enough to watch him at Michigan are hardly surprised.
I could talk about how Woodson changed the game of football at the college and NFL level, how he became the archetype and the prototype of a spread-killing defensive back. Today, though, I'd rather remember how he changed the games in my backyard. In my first couple years in Michigan, I'd run through the yard as Tyrone Wheatley or Tim Biakabutuka, scoring touchdowns against imaginary defenders. After seeing so many athletic feats of this ilk, however...
...I spent much more time crouching down, backpedaling, and jumping imaginary hitch routes. Woodson made defense cool. How could you not want to be this guy?
As Woodson's Michigan career wore on, imitating his greatest moments required an increasingly versatile imagination. Doing so also had some unintended consequences. My mother always wondered why we had so much trouble growing a patch-free lawn in the backyard. My attempts to replicate cuts like this didn't help the cause.
Then, of course, there was his most famous moment as a Wolverine.
Throw the ball as high as you can, catch it clean, take off towards the fence, cut up towards the house, cut back to the fence, then make sure not to trample the garden/bench while sprinting up the imaginary sideline. I did that more times than I could count.
With Woodson, though, some moments transcended imitation even by the most imaginative of grade-schoolers. I could not fly 15 feet in the air, so I didn't attempt his Michigan State interception. I could not float for an eternity, so I was content to leave his final collegiate pick as a memory.
20 years after he first arrived in Ann Arbor, Woodson is still making awe-inspiring plays. Just two days ago, the 39-year-old met 220-pound James Starks—ten years his junior—in the open field; while Starks had a full head of steam, Woodson's perfectly placed shoulder jarred the ball loose. I watched the play unfold on my television, and while I didn't head to the nearest park to replay it, the thought crossed my mind.
As I write this, I'm sitting on the couch in my parents' house, the same I house from which I walked to the Big House with my dad on so many football Saturdays growing up, with the very backyard in which I tried with all my might to be Charles Woodson. We're sitting down to dinner soon. While sports are rarely the foremost topic of conversation in the Anbender household, there's no doubt Woodson's retirement will come up; the only question is how long we'll swap stories once it does.
Perhaps, once the food has settled, I'll sprint aside that fence one more time.
Jabrill Peppers was constantly surrounded by cameras and sound recorders, but he answered every question with candor typically reserved for one-on-one interviews. Below he addresses the Woodson comparison, playing offense, defense, and special teams, and critics of the program. Note: the following questions were from a media scrum and aren’t MGoQuestions.
On deleting his Twitter:
“Camp, I don’t want any distractions. I don’t want any distractions from camp.”
Where’d you get the idea? Someone else do it and you said ‘I should do this’?
“No, it’s just for me, man. These past couple months I’ve noticed that they look at my Twitter a lot.”
You’ve been vocal on lots of issues.
“Yeah, so for me it was just a kind of thing where I don’t want anything that can put a negative connotation on or anything that they can spin or do anything with. We just as a whole are going to go complete darkness. Let them speculate what they want- how good we are, how good we aren’t. We don’t really care what anyone else thinks. We care what the guy next to us thinks. We care what our coaches think, what our family thinks. All of the outside outliers, you know, we could really care less about. We just want to put the ball down and play football, you know. That’s it.
“We didn’t come here to worry about the media or how good they think we are. The only thing that I would tell people is this is Michigan and this is always going to be Michigan. That’s it.”
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest]
We didn't see Mundy coming either
"People tell you who they are, but we ignore it because we want them to be who we want them to be."
Ace: Which Michigan alum—aside from Tom Brady—most surprised you with his NFL/NBA/NHL success, and which most surprised you by not panning out?
David Nasternak: Jamal Crawford. This is probably a controversial choice for several reasons. A). He only played about half a year at M. 2). His M career ended rather notoriously. C). He's kinda the forgotten man, associated with M, that just keeps churning out respectable NBA years.
|The thing I remember most about Jamal Crawford is the way the NCAA handled him was the moment that separated me from the NCAA party line on extra benefits, as it was so obvious the NCAA was way more the bad guys than the players they went after.|
Never known for his defense, Crawford has found his niche coming off the bench and providing instant offense, over the last half-decade or so. He's a career 35% 3PT shooter, hits 86% of his FTs, and has never averaged less than 13.9 ppg since 02-03, his third year in the NBA. Crawford has been a little hard to keep track of because of the six different uniforms that he's worn. He reinvented himself with his stellar bench play in 09-10 with Atlanta, winning the 6th Man of the Year. He also won it again in 13-14 and was highly considered two other times (10-11 and 12-13). Crawford also passed Reggie Miller for most career 4 point plays...he is sitting at 44, currently. Until 2010, he had the record for longest tenured player to never make the playoffs. Once breaking into the postseason, Crawford showed he belonged, averaging 15.0 ppg off the bench in 42 games.
I don't think that Jamal Crawford is/was one of the best players in the NBA at any time during his career. He was never an elite shooter. But he could always find a way to score the ball. After embracing his 6th man role, Crawford became a very credible asset. His numbers have continued to remain steady with the Clippers in his 16th (!!!) year in the NBA (only one significantly shortened to 11 games). Jamal Crawford has been M's longest presence in the NBA since Juwan Howard (who somehow managed to play 19 years??? Although, the last 7 years of Howard's career didn't touch any of Crawford's stats, including Games Played). Watching him play, I still think Crawford has a couple solid years left...even at the young age of 35. Love him or hate him, Dude just keeps contributing.
Ace: Mundy isn't a star by any means, but he's started 28 games over the last three seasons, including all 16 last year for Chicago. Anyone who remembers Mundy's much-maligned stint as a starting safety—before he played his fifth year at West Virginia—is probably surprised by this. While the Bears defense was bad last year, Mundy managed to be something of a bright spot with over 100 tackles and four interceptions. Just by remaining in the league this long, he's surpassed most expectations; not many undrafted players get starts at age 30.
[After the jump: what's a safety, and Don Draper]
Not literally a comic book. 28 minutes of Charles Woodson highlights from high school do not quite feature him bounding over a tall building:
Full go minus one decision. John Beilein doesn't see anyone transferring this offseason:
"Everybody seems to be all onboard 100 percent," Beilein said Monday after attending a USBWA Final Four luncheon honoring freshman Austin Hatch. "Obviously, we're not with them 24 hours a day, but I love their attitude right now."
That does not include Caris LeVert, who is deciding on the NBA draft. It seems that people around the program are cautiously optimistic he will stay for his senior year, but we won't have certainty until the early entry deadline, April 26th.
That would leave Michigan with zero scholarships this year and two plus any attrition after next season in 2016. Unless Hatch goes on a medical scholarship that would cut out Mike Edwards, the various transfers looking at Michigan, and Jaylen Brown.
In related news, it looks like Max Bielfeldt will spend his grad transfer year at Bradley.
Meanwhile, another one bites the dust at Indiana. The Hoosiers get a commitment from prep post Thomas Bryant, bringing the number of Indiana players guaranteed to get run off this offseason to three. Someone please fire Tom Crean.
Spike surgery. Spike Albrecht will have surgery on both hips to eliminate the pain he played through this season. His projected return is in four or five months, which cuts him out of all the summer stuff but should have him back on the court a couple months before the season. That should be enough time to knock off the rust.
Soon, a fully healthy Spike will also be dunking on fools.
Out go the successories posters. Harbaugh on the weight room:
"It was shiny, like somebody from Chicago came in [from a ] P.R. firm," Harbaugh said. ""This isn't a slide show.
"This is work."
Don't get a DUI and then fail your probation. Harbaugh on Glasgow:
"The legal system has got as much hanging over his head as anybody else could possibly put on him," Harbaugh said. "There's nothing more that I, or the football program or the university could have on Graham right now than what (the courts) have.
"This is somebody who is taking a breathalyzer every morning and every night. He's got to be clean, 100 percent clean, not a drop of alcohol. And he'll either do it, or he won't. I believe in him, I believe he will. But we'll all know, there will be no secrets on that. Whether he does it or he doesn't, it'll be for public consumption."
He will have to do this through January, so he will either be clean as a whistle or you'll know he wasn't.
This is a lovely shot chart. Aubrey Dawkins did two things last year:
Threes and throwdowns. He was excellent at the threes, average at the throwdowns, which still means he was extremely efficient. Next year's project is getting some of those hexagons to be larger without changing their distribution. Oh, and doing the defense and rebounding stuff.
Adjusting for the matchups and expected points in each game, scoring in the smaller tournaments has been about 5.6 ppg more than the NCAA tournament. This is 2.4 ppg higher than the typical difference in these events. That's not something that will transform the game, but if you assume that boost applies to the entire 2015-16 season, it would take the sport to scoring levels not seen since 2003. (That statement excludes last season, when scoring increased dramatically, partly because a bunch of fouls were called.)
Not surprisingly, most of the scoring increase can be attributed to an increase in pace. Accounting for the teams involved and the increase in tempo normally seen in lower-level events, there have been two additional possessions per 40 minutes than we'd expect under normal rules. This is a more modest change compared to scoring and only turns the clock back to 2011 in terms of pace. This suggests simply reducing the shot clock to 30 won't produce significantly more up-and-down basketball. A surprising finding here is that slow-paced teams were affected as much as fast-paced teams were.
One of the concerns of the 30-second clock is that it may make offenses less efficient, but the postseason experiment isn't providing much evidence of that. Accounting for the quality of the teams and the usual increase in efficiency seen in the lower-level events, efficiency was actually up, though by a miniscule 0.6 points per 100 possessions.
The efficiency thing is almost certainly noise, but it looks like any effects are going to be minimal in that department. I don't think there's much wrong with college basketball other than the fact that block/charge is impossible to call and the refs are hilariously bad in general—but that's not something you can wave a wand and fix.
Final CSS rankings out. Minor movement for most players. Zach Werenski is 9th, down from 6th. Kyle Connor moves up a spot to 13th. 2016 recruit Cooper Marody moves up ten spots to 53rd. There were some more significant moves:
NTDP forward Brendan Warren dropped from 34th to 66th, which is an early third round pick to the fifth or sixth. He had an okay year only with the U18s.
Incoming defenders Joe Cecconi and Nick Boka went in opposite directions; Cecconi dropped from 70 to 88 and Boka shot up from 176 to 117.
Given Michigan's needs next year I'm happy that Boka's stock has apparently surged, even if Warren is less of a prospect than you think he might be. I wonder if Michigan will try to bring Marody or another 2016 recruit in now given Copp's departure.
The Hockey Writers have an extensive breakdown of Werenski that compares him to Trouba. I know I'm seeing Werenski a year younger, but he is not Trouba. Trouba was a commanding defenseman at both ends of the ice. Werenski really came on in the offensive zone late in the year but was a significant source of defensive problems.
Etc.: 1914 All-American ring for "Maully," which is either John Maulbetsch's nickname or a cartoon hammer. Bacari Alexander is up for the UW-Green Bay job, which is a pretty good mid-major posting. Various OMG Harbaugh stories on spring from ESPN, MLive, MVictors, etc.
So that happened. This was a spoof off of Michael Irvin and Warren Sapp's "U Know It"—the U meaning what you think it means. Relevant information to recruits:
They also point out that Ohio State has never had a quarterback play in the Super Bowl. This got me wondering which schools produced the most SB starters. Results are in a Google Sheet.
The two tied at the top are Stanford (two Plunketts, five Elways) and Notre Dame (Montana's four, Theismann twice, and Daryle Lamonica). Brady now has Michigan at six, tied for second with "the Cradle of Quarterbacks" (Purdue, in that needs to be pointed out now). I didn't count schools that guys transferred from—if you do, Russell Wilson gives NC State two, Vince Ferragamo credits UCLA as well as Nebraska, Jeff Hostetler gives Penn State another, and Troy Aikman puts Oklahoma on the board—still no Bucks. All hail Touchdown Tom!
Filling the Class
This year's diary rock star alum96 kind of collated the knowns and unknowns and think we knowns and Sam Webb hinted at knowns regarding the 2015 class as Michigan races to fill at least six and maybe as many as 11 more spots. He's updated the diary so it's fresh, and also added a profile of Zach Gentry, who seems to be trending very blue.
Versus a Bivouac Wolverine? I've met a lot of different groups of Michigan fans, enough to start finding slight differences in what they like to talk about. Western Michigan fans have to deal with a greater number of Domers, East Coasters tend to care a lot more about Penn State, Southern transplants need constant ammunition against SEC der. Ohioans have a Bo-like loyalty that can only come from a fandom borne under siege. Ann Arborites don't need arguments for what's good about the program; they want to know what's wrong and how do we fix it right now!
In Metro Detroit we have to deal with Sparties. When I was growing up Michigan went to Rose Bowl after Rose Bowl, all the while going on about values and academics. From the perspective of the Perles-era Sparties, whose own program was basically a despicable version of Brady Hoke's, we were insufferable. The Spartan fanbase as a result got VERY sensitive to things like non-alum Michigan fans telling the old "they both got into Michigan State" joke and came up with "Walmart Wolverine."
No good Michigan fan uses that term. The whole concept is ridiculous: Across America, college football programs are the biggest sports team in the state and what outsiders identity it with. Nobody in Ohio would question if it's alright to root for the Bucks if you actually went to truck driving school. The Cornhuskers without the support of the entire state of Nebraska would be in the Mountain West. Notre Dame would have a national following of 150,000 lapse Catholics who came from money. The SEC would be in Division II. The only people who care if you went to the school whose colors you wear are either uber-pretentious, or more likely went to an "other" school that nobody would root for if they didn't have to.
Etc. National college hockey general update.
Best of the Board
CAN I GET A SHIRT IN HERE?
One of our constant complaints under Hoke was the number of redshirt opportunities he missed. Marley Nowell speculated whether Michigan might try to get some shirts on some guys (you don't have to be a freshman to redshirt). I think it's a good question, especially since Michigan could end up graduating more players than we can replace in a couple of years (the roster currently has 26 juniors).
Of course when you get into the candidates there's always reason not to. Gedeon, Canteen, Jenkins-Stone and Dymonte are already on the two-deep; Taco, Lewis and Cole, the running backs and Morris are already starting. That leaves Houma, DaMario, Ways, Watson, and Stribling. If the staff gets a late shirt on any of them it's at least a good sign that they value the future of the program. Doubt it happens.
WHO IS GOLDEN ARM?
A trip back through Bo's Lasting Lessons turned up Bo-bits on Brad Bates, Jim Hackett, Jerry Hanlon, and of course this about Jim Harbaugh:
"Jim ended up being twice as good, in my book, as the Golden Arm- Harbaugh was the Big Ten MVP his senior year, beating the other guy by a mile- and Jim's teammates liked him. Maybe Harbaugh didn't have half the arm of the Golden Boy, but he had twice the brains and ten times the heart. Give me those specs, anyday."
This sparked a long thread about who this "Golden Boy" was that Bo was talking about. Testaverde? Jeff George? A guy who was on that team said Jim Everitt.
ETC. Slate calls us nerdy. Gary Anderson was frustrated by core requirements. UNC players pushed into paper classes suing for the educations they were supposed to get. Jay Harbaugh asks Twitter if you can own a pet wolverine. Rosenberg gets fisked for inflating deflategate. Bubba Paris' heartfelt call to Michigan fans reposted from Facebook.
Your Moment of Zen:
I remember Charles.