I GIVE UP ON HATING WISCONSIN
dave brandon creates the future
I've got this dresser I'm painting to go with our bedroom furniture. A few weekends ago I got one coat on it. Then it rained and ruined half the second coat. So I took it out there again but it started to rain on and off and I had to hide it under the garage overhang. Every day I check to see if there will be six good hours of sunlight somewhere to stick the last coat on it, and every time there's a dollop of drizzle here, a sprinkle there, and at least one good pour per day.
It is as hopeless and infuriating as being a Michigan fan. I know we can't complain too hard because there are places like West Lafayette where it just rains all the time, or Champaign where the weatherman predicts sun so you'll be outside when the softball-sized hail comes.
Your April shower was Urban Meyer coming to piss on your attempt to add a grad-year transfer to the OL, and now May flowers with a boatload of puritan crap.
I'm still livid. For a second there it looked like at least one of Michigan's major sports was going to be sustainably great, so of course that's when the most insane decision yet by an organization best known for blithering stupid decisions knocks basketball from a likely 1-seed to something way less than that. McGary's mad too, but the NBA's not a terrible fallback plan. Michigan got screwed the most.
The last guy I could find to get the one-year ban was a role player at UNLV who lost his 5th year to it in 2010. We've been scouring Google to turn up polls and quotes to give you some idea of how ubiquitous pot-smoking is among college athletes. The NCAA's own study came back at 1 in 5:
I'm suddenly liking lacrosse more
So how is it, even if the draconian rule only applies to the playoffs, that the merciless league can only manage to tag one guy every four years? There's a synthetic version that regular pot-smoking athletes will use during the season to beat the tests. So when they do catch a guy with good ol'fashioned THC in his system, it's usually only because he's a total amateur. No pun intended.
Whence the leapers?
I know Jones is 10, but I keep getting Dukes (83) and York (81) confused.
The 2012 receiver class had a pair of high 4-star types with similar I-saved-my-family-from-a-terrible-place-in-Africa stories. The 2014 class had the guy who rewrote the in-state record books and what already looks like a gem in Freddy Canteen. Lost in the narrative have been the three large-and-leapy 2013 guys. What do we expect from C'sonte, Jaron and Da'Mario? That's a good question.
This year I expect depth. In addition to Gallon we also graduated Dileo and Jackson and Reynolds. If Nussmeier indeed goes 3-wide a lot more as we hope, then at least one of them ought to figure on the two-deep in 2014.
Jones is more "slot-like", i.e. thin, though he's not at all short. I think his upside is Roy Roundtree, and so long as they leave him in the slot that'll be just fine. Dukes and York represent a specific type of receiver who can simply muscle past the type of legal-unless-they-call-it press coverage en vogue these days, and simply out-leap the 5'8 buggers who won't have any trouble staying with them. They're development projects: it takes years to perfect off-the-snap and route techniques to make this work. Unfortunately, Michigan only bothered to get a redshirt on Dukes last year, which, given Mathlete's finding that receiver experience is a big deal, is infuriating. Mo Ways is in this vein too, FWIW.
Etc. Hoops previews of Illinois, Maryland, and…Iowa? Hmm. Prediction for the remainder: Michigan (we should be below Iowa), Ohio State, Michigan State, Wisconsin. Photos from the Go Blue Bowl. The 2013-'14 cagers' contributions to the season's gifs. Lacrosse potentially could go green…I mean more green.
[After the jump: why 2014 offense isn't 2011 defense, I enter the ranks of MGoBloggers who rant about Brandon]
WELL FINE THEN. Apparently Michigan earned the animosity of Jimi Hendrix.
This was the Rose Bowl immediately following the legendary '69 OSU game that put Bo on the map, FWIW. Hendrix seems uncertain of the team that beat Michigan, he just wants Michigan to lose. Join the club. The very happy club.
I admit it. I find Wisconsin basketball tolerable these days. I still kinda hate Bo Ryan for being an alien from another planet sent here to prep us for invasion, but once they reached the Final Four I wanted Wisconsin to win the national title last year. And now Frank Kaminsky explains why he passed on the NBA draft:
"I am at the pinnacle of my basketball playing career, at least in my eyes. I know the NBA has their crazy fans and all, but if you look at all of their games, there are games when teams like the Bobcats get hardly any fans, and it looks flat out boring,” he wrote.
“At the Kohl Center, we play in front of nearly 17,000 fans every single time we step onto the court. When we travel, we play in front of sell out crowds who absolutely hate us. Not because of who is on the team, but because of where we go to school. Who could leave that?”
Frank Kaminsky Gets It™. Frank Kaminsky for athletic director. Where? Anywhere. Texas. Definitely Texas.
Oh, Texas twit, we are going to have an unrequited hate. Via Get The Picture, Texas Guy Just In Charge Of Things For No Reason on the A&M series:
UT AD Steve Patterson told us ``unless there is a compelling reason,'' the football series between Texas and Texas A&M is dead.
— Paul Finebaum (@finebaum) April 25, 2014
I wonder what would qualify as a compelling reason other than 111(!) games dating back to 1902.
But go ahead and play a game in Shanghai. That'll get your brand synergized.
Dude you're never going to get a girl like that. Move on to the next one. This is stalker behavior:
After extending the Season Ticket Holder renewal deadline, and a total of (15) emails delivered starting on March 14 as well as a voicemail left by Jim Brandstatter, the Michigan Athletic Department wanted to provide you one final opportunity to renew your 2014 Michigan Football season tickets to ensure you are once again a part of one of the most exclusive groups in all of sports.
One of the most exclusive groups in all of sports that begs you 15 times plus leaves a voicemail by Jim Brandstatter in the desperate hope you will renew your tickets. Oh and lets you have ONE LAST CHANCE to renew. All right. One more chance.
Seriously, this is your last chance.
Despite it being 2016, it's not too late to renew your 2014 season tickets!
At least I'm not alone? When Phil Di Guiseppe and Alex Guptill signed NHL contracts, I wrote rather bitter posts about their exits that garnered a number of sarcastic "tell us how you really feel" responses. Tell us how you really feel, Red Berenson:
"We were going good in the first half and then some issues started cropping up and we thought we had dealt with them, but there was an underlying current of animosity, and a division between certain factions. You'd like to think the leadership is strong enough - and we had good captains - that you can just bring guys together, but you have to have total buy-in and no matter how much guys like Mac Bennett, Derek DeBlois and Andrew Copp tried, they just couldn't get that."
I'm expecting hockey to have a refreshing season next year.
Hello, defenseman of the future. Hockey adds a commitment from Joe Cecconi, a kid currently in the USHL after a mid-season callup last year from a U16 junior outfit. Cecconi had nearly a PPG with his junior team before moving to the big (USA junior) leagues. Already 6'2" and nearly 200 pounds, the OHL fired an eighth-round pick at him despite considerable uncertainty about whether he would report. He doesn't appear to be on NHL draft radar.
As a mid-year '97, Cecconi is likely to come in next year unless Michigan has one of those "if X happens, this year, if Y happens, next year" deals. This is about all I could Google up on him.
Hockey rule changes. It sounds like college hockey is serious about going to three-quarter shields next year, which has been framed as a safety issue in the past and now apparently has USHL data to back it up. I continue to think it's at least partially driven by a desire to look more like the NHL and therefore help the never-ending blood war with the CHL, but if they've got data they've got data.
Other potential changes:
- Death to ties. The NCAA wants to explore way to get more W/L decisions, seemingly without resorting to shootouts. There's no solid proposition on the table; 4-on-4 and longer OTs are possibilities, as are—ugh—shootouts.
- More reviews. There's a proposal to expand the ways reviews can be used to check if goals are legit and if penalties warrant five-and-a-game. Hockey reviews are generally less odious than basketball ones since they're infrequent and about things that have a huge impact on the game, but it seems like they've got all the critical stuff right now and expanding it is reaching the point of diminishing returns.
- All neutral zone faceoffs at center ice. Faceoffs at the offside dots are kind of stupid for the attacking team if they win them. This is more a product of the fact that hockey offsides is clumsily implemented.
- Penalties for delay when you can't change. In favor.
- Fewer hand-pass whistles. Apparently there were too many inadvertent deflections called hand-passes last year.
- No leaving your feet to block a shot. Linked article says that's unlikely to pass, FWIW, but that's an effort to create more offense "in a time where goals are already at a premium." I'm pro-offense but that seems like it takes a hustle play out of the game for debatable returns.
There are a couple other extremely minor proposals.
As always when hockey rule changes come up, I rant against how restrictive offsides is and proclaim it's time to admit goalies have won and expand the nets. There are a hundred ways to make offsides better; my current proposal is to triple the width of the line (the line is both part of the neutral zone and the offensive zone) and create a passive offsides rule like there is in soccer. A guy can be offsides without a whistle as long as 1) he is not impacting the play and 2) he immediately moves to exit and re-enter the zone.
As far as goal size goes, with modern butterfly goalies the only way to change the paradigm is to make sitting back and waiting for a shot to come in a worse play than it is right now. Teams like MSU play a six-goalie style in the defensive zone these days, because it makes sense. Dropping save percentages three or four points would swing things back towards aggression. Expand the nets by the width of the goalposts to get 2-3 more goals per game. It sounds dramatic, but really it's the least dramatic option to get scoring up. Everything else proposed is either a weak measure that won't do anything or a radical overhaul. Expanding the nets is just hockey with slightly different equations.
Etc.: Talking with DJ Wilson. Women's tennis has lost in the BTT final for the fifth straight year. Ouch. Instead of tweeting out your outrage about people saying "furst amundmunt," just tweet this XKCD. Jordan Morgan's suddenly the belle of the ball.
Hey MGoBlog team,
Thought it might be fun to list what would reasonably need to happen on order for Michigan to have a B1G division championship season. I've got: dramatically improved interior OL play, inferior outside OL replacements that still perform above expectations, better QB decision making (fewer interceptions), adequate WR replacements for graduating seniors, improved DL play, and status quo the rest of the way. Follow up question is, what are the odds of these things happening and can we see any historic examples of these sorts of improvements in just one year? Or are we just screwed and should hibernate until basketball season?
Uh. Let me blow the dust off my optimism beanie, place it upon my pate, and spin the propellor.
I feel… marginally better. All right, let's tackle this. If Michigan's going to win the division they have to at least split their dual road games against MSU and OSU and then hope misfortune befalls the one they lose to a couple times. Oh, and beat Penn State and Northwestern and not, like, blow it against Rutgers and Minnesota.
How do they do that? Probably the same way they beat Notre Dame and nearly beat Ohio State last year: Devin Gardner playing like the baby of Denard and Tom Brady. The run game is just not going to be good enough to rely upon. Things that need to happen:
Magnuson and Braden are at least okay. Or Cole or whoever ends up playing tackle.
The interior line is not a complete shamocracy, and someone can pick up a blitz. Reducing bad decisions from the quarterback is at least 50% on reducing the number of opportunities to make bad decisions under pressure.
Gardner increments. 8.6 YPA, 450 yards against OSU, 60% completions… Gardner does not have to go particularly far to be B10 championship quality even if he has a heavy burden.
The defensive line can hold up against mean ol' OLs. The DL wasn't an enormous problem until Ondre Pipkins went down and Ohio State's terrible matchup came to town. With Henry back and still on an improvement kick and the losses eminently sustainable (Washington inexplicably did not play as much as he did as a junior and Black was way, way out of position by year's end) plus Michigan's initial DL rush starting to bear fruit, improvement here is likely.
Pass rush has to exist, in a serious fashion. I'd be more comfortable about this if Ryan was still your edge threat and Clark was bookending him. As it is, increments from Beyer and Clark plus added aggression also seem to bode well here.
A competent safety has to be found opposite Wilson. Your guess as good as mine.
Probabilities: dodgy, very dodgy, likely, likely, 50/50. If you told me the OL would be like a C+ I'd actually be pretty positive about this season… but man, that's a long way to go from an F-, down Lewan and Schofield.
Wait you think this was on purpose?
Dave Brandon isn't a terrible negotiator, he seems to get what he wants, so presumably he wanted this home schedule. Is the point so that we alternate between having all of our difficult games away one year, then having them all at home the next? That way every other year we presumably have a great run that gets us to the B1G championship? The easy early games are obvious schedule padding...
Dave [ed: not Brandon]
I am taken aback by the idea Dave Brandon is a sly fox who always gets his way. It's true the first thing he had to tackle—stretchgate—was seemingly done with aplomb, but in retrospect since the USC case the NCAA hasn't done anything to anybody of note that didn't involve 1) multiple lies from the head coach about NCAA violations or 2) horrible horrible felonies. You or I could have piloted Michigan to a slap on the wrist once the various improprieties turned out to be 15 minutes of extra stretching and grad assistants looking in on summer practices.
- Michigan hired Brady Hoke, possibly because negotiations with Jim Harbaugh went poorly. That "all that glitters is not gold" line from the press conference lingers as bitterness over those negotiations breaking down.
- Michigan gave Brady Hoke a top ten contract when he was not in demand anywhere else and said he'd walk to Michigan.
- Michigan and Ohio State got stuck in opposite divisions with a crossover game, thus guaranteeing that Michigan would have the hardest schedule in their division over time had they lasted.
- Michigan played Alabama for less than they would get for a home game. The head-staving by Alabama made no financial sense, as Michigan traded a huge TV event and a game with ticket prices that were 50-100% higher than home game tickets for an outlay parsimonious enough that bringing the band was a big problem.
- Michigan wore a series of clowniforms. Fan pushback was so severe on this that they have dialed it back out of necessity. Meanwhile, Michigan can't even get uniforms that are, you know, uniform from Adidas.
- Notre Dame cancelled the Michigan series. They punked Brandon along the way, blindsiding him and getting themselves the last home game in the series after getting the first when the teams resumed.
- Michigan gave Al Borges a 300k raise. I mean. Gotta retain that guy.
- Michigan replaced Notre Dame with Arkansas. Look at future MSU and OSU schedules, which feature Oregon and Alabama and Oklahoma and Texas, for comparison.
- Michigan got stuck with MSU and OSU away in the same year. Not only that, they get to travel to MSU twice in a row.
- Michigan couldn't get Mitch McGary's suspension reduced. OSU DE Noah Spence is going to miss three games for testing positive for X or something like it, this after an appeal that reduced the punishment from a whole year. Meanwhile, the NCAA reduced the penalty for McGary's transgression two weeks after he received it. Michigan still got rejected by the NCAA.
With rights fees negotiated by the league, Brandon's main accomplishment as AD has been to raise ticket prices. Any bro in a suit could have done this. Any time he's had to interact with another human in an effort to protect Michigan's best interest or bottom line he's either lost or not even tried. (Night games are not an accomplishment. Networks aren't like "Michigan at night… pshaw." Michigan had been actively resisting them for years.)
His biggest negotiation wins are things that are nice for the bottom line but don't actually have any impact long term. And they're probably attributable more to the capacity of Michigan Stadium than anything else: the Winter Classic and this upcoming Man U-Real Madrid friendly.
So. While it's possible Dave Brandon wanted this home schedule—after all, he is personally responsible for the Horror II—it's more likely he just got run over by the Big Ten, because that's how things go. Things make much more sense if you think of Dave Brandon as Lucille Ball than as Gordon Gekko.
Has Michigan been the victim of B.S. penalties by the NCAA more than any other program?
...at least for the last decade? Specifically, I am thinking about the two obvious instances, which are 'Practicegate' and the recent McGary clusterf---. Both of these seems ludicrously disproportional in the severity of punishment compared to the actual crime. To compound matters, you don't need to look very far to see far more egregious punishment (e.g. Jameis Winston, Johnny Manziel, etc) go completely unchecked.
Of course, the other nuance to this is that Michigan seems to be doing it to themselves. If they didn't so willingly 'play ball' and try to be as open and transparent as possible, would they even be in some of these messes? It seems to me the days of trying to play by the rules is long gone, and if the NCAA isn't even going to attempt to maintain an ounce of consistency, why would Michigan continue to get hammered while most others skate by?
But in all seriousness, has Michigan been the most unlucky/attacked program by the NCAA compared to the actual transgressions that have occurred?
In terms of proven allegations versus what appears to be the standard, USC would have an excellent case just on the strength of a recent NCAA punishment docket that looks like this:
1. Penn State, pre-softening
3. Penn State, post-softening
1,000,005. Jim Tressel lying to the NCAA at least four times about illegal Terrelle Pryor benefits
1,000,006. North Carolina not even really being a college for its students.
Michigan's stretch-gate crap was essentially nothing but bad PR. Given the way that went down and how the Freep creeps knew exactly what to FOIA it is extremely likely that was an inside job. By the time the NCAA got done with that they were specifically calling out the original article as sensationalized and inaccurate. The punishment was something like a 2% reduction in practice time and the loss of a grad assistant or two. I have no problem with the results of that investigation. It was a joke that turned up some technical malfeasance and was treated as such.
The McGary thing is just terrible luck and the NCAA being the dumbest organization on the planet. Plenty of other athletes have gotten nailed for Violating The Special Spirit Of Sport.
As to your point about not playing ball and just cheating your ass off because you'll get away with it… well, yeah. That is obviously the move. When the best team in the country is going into every year knowing they have to cut like ten guys before fall and it doesn't impact their recruiting, the way to the top is obvious: ruthlessness and lawlessness. By the book, USC probably got what they deserved. They feel aggrieved because almost literally everyone else is doing it and getting away with either nothing or minor penalties.
90% of the crap Michigan goes through they do to themselves. The NCAA is not the problem.
I suppose that it is in fact internally consistent that you would be dumb enough to say the things you are saying and also dumb enough to keep saying things. NCAA president Mark Emmert has escaped his holding pen and is making the most of it before he is tasered back into serene acceptance of fifty-dollar cucumber sandwich lunches. He's making the most of it by getting into rap battles with strawmen in front of microphones… and losing.
#AskEmmert would have descended into farce if there was anywhere to descend to, with one particularly stupid argument about CFL players getting the most attention. Most recently, as part of an interview with Dan Patrick recently Emmert claimed that if he was on a football scholarship he wouldn't want anything on top of that:
He's just the kind of guy who doesn't need that much money, you see. He's barely aware that he made 1.7 million last year. Never asked for a raise in his life. Miracle of compound interest. Still drives the same 1978 Ford Pinto to and from the office. Weaves his own suits on a loom he built himself from plastic bags and floss. Has not eaten anything but multivitamins and rice since 1884.
Also from that interview:
Emmert just said athletes shouldn't be able to capitalize on their own likenesses because of "competitive fairness." Yes. He really did.
— SI_DougFarrar (@SI_DougFarrar) April 21, 2014
Nonsense, obviously. As Andy Staples points out, it's lawyer nonsense—to escape anti-trust laws leagues have to demonstrate that their rules keep things balanced and thus increase the overall popularity of sport X and league X. So he has to make his nonsense arguments so the NCAA's lawyers can make their nonsense arguments that a judge will hopefully fart on.
The "people in charge of things are just in charge of them for no reason" tag is getting a workout these days. Speaking of, Texas's new AD is opening his mouth again.
Meanwhile. Michael Bird provides an excellent explanation of why the whole "you're getting a FREE EDUCATION" line of argument is flimsy: when you put people who wouldn't get into a school in it and give them a 40-50 hour a week job on top of that the free education is usually just an education in how to stay eligible to play. Like philosophy, the only thing you can do after is teach people how to do the thing you just did.
You've got a nice lack of union there. Wouldn't want anything to happen to it. While CAPA won their first round matchup with the NCAA at the regional NLRB level, they've only won the right to vote on union. First they've got to vote to form one. While that seems like it would be a slam dunk since Colter and company had to have overwhelming support to even take their case to the board, Northwestern is pushing back as hard as they can with all means at their disposal:
[Former NW player Kevin] Brown said he and others recently met with coach Pat Fitzgerald for two and a half hours to address some alumni concerns, such as the treatment of former quarterback Kain Colter and threats made to current players.
The former defensive back said former players have contacted current players, saying if they vote “yes” for the union on April 25 they will lose out on employment opportunities and other benefits of the football alumni network.
CBS has obtained a document from Northwestern itself with the usual scaremongering. If you vote for a union, you might miss out on your dying grandma's last hours, it says. Seriously.
Northwestern tells a player that the current benefit of going home for a family emergency might not be available after a majority vote because "that would be subject to negotiation with the union." "The union's agenda, which is set by the union leaders, may not take into account the specific things that are important to you as an individual," Northwestern states Fitzgerald later adds, "I don't think I have EVER denied or discouraged any player from taking the time they need for important personal matters."
Seems likely. Also likely:
Northwestern tells parents change will happen faster through NCAA reform than through unionizing, which could "take several years before the issue whether our players are employees entitled to unionize finally is resolved."
You desire changes, but let us make the changes without any input from you.
One thing's clear, anyway: Northwestern is terrified about CAPA.
Next year Michigan's promotional poster will read "WHAT ARE YOU DOING ON THE SCHEDULE AND WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH IOWA"
Michigan: Rutgers: NIGHT: explosions: invasion: New York: money. Speaking of people just in charge of things, Michigan's game at Rutgers will be at 7 PM. Mark your calendars. Mine says "Michigan versus nonstop pursuit of dollars."
Number based awards. Beilein is the best in the country after a timeout, which probably just means Michigan has a real good offense. Boston College was next, which just goes to show that anyone making a big deal about performance after timeouts probably shouldn't. Also: Michigan unsurprisingly had the best offensive tourney.
That doesn't seem good. Another guy heads for the lifeboats at Indiana, and this one is kind of a big deal:
Assistant men's basketball coach Kenny Johnson has accepted a job offer from Louisville, leaving Indiana one coach short of a full staff. Whether Tom Crean can find another assistant capable of the same impact Johnson made in just two years in Bloomington remains to be seen.
Who is this guy you probably haven't even heard of? Well…
Kenny Johnson was the lead man at IU for Noah Vonleh, Rob Johnson, Troy Williams, Stan Robinson & played role in James Blackmon recommitting
— Evan Daniels (@EvanDaniels) April 22, 2014
That is a lot of guys to bring in in two years, and now he will be attempting to get those guys to Louisville.
Dagnabit. Maryland was trying to get social momentum around a #hashtag promoting their November 15th night game against MSU…
— Chris Vannini (@ChrisVannini) April 22, 2014
…but someone caught on and Maryland deleted that tweet before I could replicate the image.
Why college kickers suck. According to Chris Kluwe, they don't get coached. Literally.
In my five years of college ball, and eight years in the NFL, I did not have a single special teams coach or head coach who had the faintest idea how it is that I did my job, and that is how it is EVERYWHERE. (I was lucky that early on in high school, I found a couple coaches who did know a thing or two so I could teach myself later).
Kluwe was a punter, but chances are that ignorance extends to the other kicky-footy guys around. I assume Dan Ferrigno is also in that boat and Matt Wile is going to sink or swim based on his own ability and what I assume are witheringly expensive visits to Chris Sailer and the like.
It's kind of weird that Michigan's going with that same setup at corner. Shhh, shhh, it looked good in the spring practice-like substance, I know.
Western Civilization died yesterday. I will miss it.
Just saw someone on Facebook congratulate someone else by saying "Ur whole lifestyle is coming together as a brand. Good work bro."
— Roar of the Tigers (@RoarTigers) April 22, 2014
Do you now. Great Leader on Great Leader:
"I have a little experience with branding," Brandon said.
"In the world of branding, you build what's called brand equity. If you look at the Big Ten Conference, you've got brand equity that's been built over decades and decades. The Big Ten means something."
I love the image of Dave Brandon explaining the concept of the Big Ten meaning something other than the number of team in the conference like he is talking to a room full of five-year-olds. As he does this he's standing next to Jim Delany, and they're talking about the fact that they've just added Rutgers and Maryland.
Brandon saying "I have a little experience with branding" is like Walter White saying "I have a little experience with supporting my family."
Etc.: I do not regularly watch Craig Ferguson but I appreciate his bizzaro-world take on late night when I have occasion to. Jordan Morgan's throwing out the first pitch at tomorrow's Tiger's game. Kenpom is now trying to estimate weights, which sounds like an episode of Kenpom The Sitcom. This week: Kenpom comes up with a new zany stat!
It's been three years, time for more Izzo to the NBA rumors. Minnesota joins the Pistons amongst the ranks of NBA teams who will throw Izzo's name out but not hire him.
You probably shouldn't call Derrick Green fat. Or anything other than "sir." Jane on Jameis Winston and the total lack of investigation in re: the rape charges filed against him.
File under: I'll believe it when I see it.
Hoke says Michigan really didn't find its top five offensive linemen this spring. And really isn't close to finding them either.
— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) April 5, 2014
WELP. In a word, Michigan's offense was ominous. It was ominous—worse than that—in Hoke's first year, though, and that worked out okay as long as Al Borges wasn't trying to make Denard Robinson into a pocket passer. Standard disclaimer about information value of spring.
That stated, yeesh. We knew the situation at tackle was going to be iffy, especially with Magnuson out. Having Mason Cole as the first option at the most important spot on the line was beyond those expectations. Meanwhile, Michigan is prepping the only remaining guy who started every game last year (Graham Glasgow) at right tackle, which they'll say is just precautionary but speaks of some trepidation about Ben Braden. I do not want there to be trepidation about Ben Braden.
Hoke did not mince words when asked if they thought they'd found their best five:
"I don't know if we can say that, honestly," Hoke said. "I know I can't.
"So, I guess the answer is no."
Are the Wolverines even close, really, to identifying the best five?
"No," Hoke said. "Not yet."
That was apparent on the field, where runs generally got to the line of scrimmage (hooray!) and no further (mutter). Pass protection was close to nonexistent. It was what everyone expected, which was bad. They've got five months to figure it out, whereupon they probably won't figure it out. Digging out of a hole as big as Michigan dug last year is a two-year operation.
Quarterbacking. Gardner was just two of ten, but Morris was hardly better. Gardner's interception was at least at his receiver; Morris threw one directly into Lewis's chest. In the aftermath there were the usual quotes about how it's an open competition, but, yeah, when the Big Ten Network's main Morris highlight is a pass thrown behind the line of scrimmage that guy isn't displacing a quarterback who averaged 8.6 YPA last year and can run.
Neither quarterback was helped by the pass protection, which forced them to move around and let Michigan's secondary recover. Gardner's move and re-set on one throw allowed Jarrod Wilson to get over to Canteen on a corner route, for example. We have a ton of Gardner data from a year and a half as the starting quarterback. One spring outing isn't going to move the needle.
Speight didn't do much; Bellomy didn't look better than he did against Nebraska.
Hayes should be a legit option. [Fuller]
Tailbacking. On the few runs on which tailbacks had an opportunity to do something notable it was usually Justice Hayes doing the notable thing. He had a couple of quality cuts in tight areas that got him a nice chunk. Derrick Green had one bounce outside on which he seemed quicker than last year but still not particularly quick; De'Veon Smith also turned in a leg-churning run.
They're all about even, it seems. Michigan will cycle through them looking for one to break out. That's a tough ask given the line. It's platoon time. Michigan still seems to insist that anyone who does not resemble a moose must be relegated to third downs:
"Right now, if we're not in a third down situation, it's De'Veon and Derrick. And then Justice if we get into third down."
There's no reason that Hayes shouldn't be given a look as the feature back after last year's lack of production all around and his evident ability. He was no slouch as a recruit, and being able to pick through traffic is a nice skill to have. You get the impression that Hoke would ride David Underwood for years before even considering Mike Hart. Size isn't everything. Ask the Kansas State team that just eviscerated you with a 5'8" tailback and 5'11" wide receiver.
It's also time for Fred Jackson to preach the simplicity line and throw shade on Al Borges:
"Guys are more consistent now with their reads, going from point A to point B with protections," Michigan running backs coach Fred Jackson said last week on WTKA-AM in Ann Arbor. "By not having a ton of protections and a ton of different runs, it allows the guys to be more consistent in what they're doing."
/waves tiny flag
Of course, the main problem with the blitz pickups last year was not so much the tailback going to the wrong spot but what happened when he met the blitzer. That's on Jackson, not Borges. The thing about not doing every possible thing is great—I've heard that Michigan had 13 different protection schemes last year. 13!
MOS EISLEY FTW [Eric Upchurch]
Something about a wretched hive of scum and villainy I can't quite figure out. Freddy Canteen went from freshman to Manningham in the space of 15 practices, starting the day opposite Devin Funchess, making the one deep catch of the scrimmage session, and smoking Blake Countess over the top on another pass that Gardner threw short. Countess caught up; it was still reminiscent of 86.
Also reminiscent of 86, at least as a freshman: people screaming at Canteen about where to line up pre-snap. There was one memorable play in Manningham's freshman year where Fred Jackson was having a conniption fit on the sideline trying to get Manningham to relocate himself; Manningham did not and scored a touchdown anyway. Canteen dredged that memory up on Saturday.
Spring depth etc., but passing Jehu Chesson after a promising freshman year from him is a real thing. The tea leaves here suggest Canteen is the real deal—Michigan does not need a WR savior and has a veritable avalanche of bodies they can put on the outside. Canteen rocketed past last year's WR class and Chesson in 15 practices. It would be easy for Michigan to talk him up and throw him in the slot; instead they appear to be prepping him for a major role on the outside.
"I've been at slot and outside receiver, (I'm comfortable) at both, but I'll play probably more outside," Canteen said. "(I want to be a playmaker), to be honest. I just want to make plays."
Darboh and Chesson will also figure in; with Funchess that gives Michigan four guys with production or hype or both to their name. They're suddenly flush. With York and Dukes—who made a nice diving catch—also available, it seems like Drake Harris and Moe Ways should redshirt.
Let's think about the guy like a football player instead of a traveling circus. I can only assume the light deployment of Dennis Norfleet was for cackling-about-your-mad-plan-in-your-underground-lair reasons. It was encouraging to see them throw an actual route his way, a wheel on which Jourdan Lewis took an unnecessary pass interference flag on an overthrown ball. I support the integration of Dennis Norfleet into the base offense instead of having a completely separate Norfleet offense that always results in him getting the ball going laterally.
Hooray for efficiency. One of the most disconcerting things about Michigan's spring activity is how much standing around there is. For many, they're setting a countable hour on fire. This is apparently not how it works behind closed doors:
"Practices are really fast, we get a lot of reps," Gardner said. "This was probably the fastest practice I've ever been a part of."
There's been plenty of talk about the overall pace Nussmeier -- Michigan's first-year offensive coordinator -- works with in practice, and the overall level of tempo he chooses to play with during games.
Practices are quick. When a play ends, the next group -- according to players -- is expected to be out of the huddle and ready to snap the ball for the next rep. That concept is a simple one: It creates more reps, and for a young team, the more reps the better.
For any team, really. And that should serve Michigan well when they want to change the tempo, something Borges teams were mind-bendingly awful at. Here's a manna from heaven quote:
"I think the biggest thing, you always want to be able to control the tempo on offense -- whether that's to speed the game up or slow the game down," Nussmeier said during an interview with WTKA-AM 1050 in Ann Arbor on Thursday. "We practice at a fast tempo for a lot of reasons. One, it forces our guys to play fast and focus and always concentrate.
"And it also allows us to pick the tempo of the game up (if we need to)."
Random Mone quote I missed yesterday. This is an epic nonquote.
"I'm just having fun, being blessed," he said. "Just having fun playing the game is what I think my teammates have noticed. My enthusiasm is the main thing I bring to the field."
Our THREE weapons are having fun, being blessed, and having enthusiasm!
WE MUST MAN THE BARRICADES OR OUR FATE IS SEALED
The experience of being at the spring game was not a pleasant one. Brandon further pushed the limits of his promise not to put advertising in Michigan Stadium (a promise he's already broken in a dozen different ways) with large videoboard ads for Comcast and Allstate. There was also some dude kicking a field goal sponsored by PNC. Dude is just itching to turn Michigan's gameday experience into OSU or MSU where the scoreboard looks like a NASCAR driver's jumpsuit and each play is brought to you by Depends Adult Undergarments.
More maddening was the constant—and I mean constant—wedding DJ music, which only dropped out for brief periods in which the band was suffered to play. By the end of the day it appeared like the band just said "screw it, we're playing" and went about fifteen minutes straight. This was a merciful relief.
The music combined with the punting drill section of the day was typical Michigan at this point: we'll be shitty to you, fans, but here is this awesome guitar riff! Hunter Lochmann apparently believes that any deficit can be obscured by music. If things go poorly this season expect them to try two songs at once for the entirety of the Penn State game. One of them will be Phil Collins, because that's the soul of football.
The contrast between the NCAA tournament regional the week before and the spring game could not have been greater. The tournament is a great event the NCAA gets out of the way of. Michigan has a crappy event they try to dress up. Hoke's disregard for the fanbase hurts their ability to make it a non-crappy event, of course. Michigan remain focused on one thing and one thing only: strip-mining revenue from the banks of fan loyalty like it is an infinite resource.
Any things they do that are actually fan-friendly, like bringing in a slightly less rank standard of nonconference opponent, are because they have reached the limit of their ability to strip-mine. Michigan reminded fans in attendance to renew their season tickets—an announcement that never needed to be made before.
It would be one thing if the people making these decisions did anything but ape whoever their counterparts are in the ECHL. They have no concept of forming an identity to rally around. They just have spreadsheets.
"MICHIGAN HAMPERED BY STARS' NBA CONTRACTS"
They did show McGary with like two minutes left, so I guess we're even?
Kind of good. Tim Hardaway's assertion about a week-long break is just true.
With yesterday's win, John Beilein now is 14-2 in games for which he has a week to prep since 2008. 10 of those vs. high-major teams.
— Drew Hallett (@DrewCHallett) February 24, 2014
Seeding and location things. Seems like Michigan has a decent shot at Milwaukee. Lunardi's got them there and has for a while; Palm has them relegated to Orlando, but he's got them a #4 seed, not a 3. Lunardi has Creighton in San Antonio instead, which is a bit farther away for them but not immensely so. I'm hoping the committee realizes that Buffalo is just as close for Michigan. Syracuse is locked into one spot there; the other one is up for grabs.
Unfortunately, there's no slam dunk site this year that would be an obvious spot to put Michigan, so they may figure Milwaukee or Orlando is a who cares kind of situation.
Compare and contrast. I might have known this but I forgot it and now spring practice is starting immediately and I am reminded, so here is some possibly-old news. this week's Athletic Department Outrage Of The Century: undeterred by the miserable weather at the last 100 spring games, Michigan has actually moved it up, so that it's on April 5th. Which is also the date of the national semifinals in the NCAA tournament. Is Michigan actively trying to suppress turnout?
Not quite the worst scouting report ever. That is still Aaron Schatz on Mike Martin, but whoever's putting up the anonymous scouting reports for NFL.com is… well… he's definitely not Heiko. Jeremy Gallon's weaknesses:
Short with a limited catching radius.
Lacks top-end speed to separate vertically or run away from a crowd (consistently tracked down from behind).
Maybe on an NFL level?
Not a natural hands catcher and will often body the ball.
Okay now you're just making things up.
Lacks dynamic run skills for an undersized receiver.
Much of his production results from schemed bubble screens and lateral tosses.
OH COME ON
Hide yo kids. Both Michigan and Michigan State are being investigated by the Feds for not doing enough to deal with sexual assault on campus, with your favorite online and offline crank spearheading the charge:
[Doug] Smith filed a complaint last year with the Office of Civil Rights, saying that U-M refused to investigate the case and that the university’s grievance procedure does not fully comply with Title IX, the federal law that prohibits discrimination based on gender.
Funny how the suddenly-legitimized Smith is now getting profiled by the News and used as a primary source when everyone was perfectly happy to ignore him this summer. It's terrible that this guy actually has a point about the insular, opaque, CYA way the university does everything. When you are going up against Doug Smith and losing, you are so bad at PR Dave Brandon is interested in hiring you.
Meanwhile in East Lansing, other suits in charge of things are caught lying to make themselves look good:
Near the bottom of the letter was a single sentence stating that the university is “collaborating” with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, or OCR, to “give members of the campus community an opportunity” to meet with representatives from the department.
But on Monday, Department of Education spokesman Jim Bradshaw told The State News the planned visit to campus is directly related to an official investigation into sexual harassment and violence complaints pending against the university.
Doug Smith might be behind this as well, as Michigan State seniors Keith Appling and Adriean Payne would be on the Island Of Expelled Athletes if MSU was operating with the same standards Michigan is. Seems like a short leap of logic there.
Elsewhere in legal procedures. Suffice it to say that the preliminary hearing in the O'Bannon case did not go well for the NCAA.
One of the NCAA's other justifications is protecting amateurism. Wilken largely skipped past the topic with a dismissive line: "I don't think amateurism is going to be a useful word here."
Dagger. One thing to love about the legal system is cock-eyed judges who blow through decades of smoke and mirrors with one withering sentence.
Nobody knows about soccer. That rumored Manchester United/Real Madrid game slated for Michigan Stadium in one URL:
The organizers were set to announce their final two sites recently and did announce one: Gopher Stadium in Minneapolis. It would make sense if another Midwestern football venue was the other thing they were waiting on, but still no announcement. A spokesperson for the group organizing this preseason tourney thing confirms that they are in "serious discussions" but can't announce anything.
The hold up may be about the playing field. When Michigan Stadium was being considered for the USA's most recent World Cup bid it became clear that any soccer match at the stadium would have to be on a temporary elevated platform.
Oh good. Michigan and Michigan State will have two games about one-third of the time going forward as the Big Ten adopts the least creative way to jam a 14-team conference into 18 games they can come up with: play five teams twice and eight once. Boooooo.
What they should have done: first 13 games are a round robin. Top seven and bottom seven are then grouped, final 6 games are round-robin within groups. Big Ten title: amazingly important. Conference stretch run: amazing. Downsides: schedule uncertainty and tough on bubble teams. But, man, just think of those three weeks at the end of the year. Would be must see.
Etc.: Five key plays. Zach Helfand on the differences between Izzo and Beilein. Tweeting at players is A FELONY. 300 pound man runs 40 yard dash twice as fast as you would. Then he talks to people about it. He will likely go in the top ten.