Not the Onion. News headline:
MSU challenges officials to take control of game vs. Michigan
Are you man enough to call another 100 yards in personal fouls on Michigan State, refs?
Also, Tyler Hoover is supposed to return to the lineup at DT. Not sure how much impact that will have.
Also not the Onion. This is where the rivalry is at the moment:
Michigan prepping for a 'figurative fist fight' in physical tilt vs. Michigan State
More like LITERAL KNIFE FIGHT AMIRITE.
Also also not the Onion. We have a formidable secondary?
Michigan's formidable secondary 'looking to get after it' against MSU
I'm going to go away and hope this is true forever.
YOU DON'T KNOW HOW THINGS ARE CAUSED. Winner?
Former Michigan star Mike Hart's infamous comment sparked Michigan State's resurgence in series
Worst article is easy. Matt Charboneau's flufftastic puff piece on Gholston, which does the same thing all attempts to defend Gholston do: focus on the meaningless punch that brought a suspension while ignoring the Denard helmet twist and the Lewan arm bar. No one cares about hitting a guy in a helmet with your fist in the heat of whatever. It's unfortunate that the Big Ten focused on that instead of the truly dirty stuff.
He's just misunderstood, you see, and he has kid, so he must be an awesome dude. They don't just hand out kids to anyone. You have to be licensed.
Maybe he just went crazy that one time but if you're going to write an article about it at least have the honesty to detail the things that happened.
Uniformz? A photo of a chrome-tastic MSU helmet is floating around the internets and the rumor is they will be deployed Saturday:
Hopefully Michigan doesn't respond in kind as they did last year, if this is actually a thing that is being worn. I worry that someone somewhere is saying "we have to bridge the chrome gap!" and not being shot.
MSU scouting bits. Highly recommended are Ross Fulton's breakdowns of what Ohio State did against MSU. The MSU defense:
MICHIGAN STATE: LOADED FOR BEAR
As expected, Michigan State adopted an aggressive style that focused upon attacking Ohio State's inside zone read. Michigan State generally operated from their 40 over defense with their Will linebacker walked over the slot receiver.
The Spartan Will linebacker's role was not to cover the slot receiver, however. Instead, he was tasked with accounting for Braxton Miller on the zone read, allowing the defensive end to crash the zone play. In essence, the Spartans ran a constant scrape exchange.
In response, OSU shot their H-back outside the defensive end and hit the edge or used him to block the crashing DE and read the slot-oriented LB, or they used outside runs that used the aggression of that DE to open up the corner. Expect Michigan's inside zone to be a maintenance play that picks up a few yards, allowing other runs to bust for larger gains.
Tremendous also has a breakdown, one that focuses on the defensive tackles—who are not good, thus the Kittredge switch this week. Included are many amazing displays of Spartan DTs put on skates by the OSU OL. I'm with Mr. Larson: block Gholston, option someone else, screw rollouts, especially naked ones.
Fulton's item on the MSU offense vs the OSU defense is a little less relevant because Michigan is mostly a one-high cover three defense and OSU is transitioning to cover four. Hankins did clobberate the MSU run game as a three tech—Will Campbell pad level versus bad guard play come on down?
BONUS: Fulton breaks down what the hell happened to OSU's defense against Indiana.
OH BOY. Hopefully this is Brandon not ruling out anything when someone brings up the idea of a neutral site game in a Q&A and not actually wanting to continue college football's worst trend:
But he did say Wednesday that he remains open to all possibilities for the newly-created void on the Wolverines' schedule beginning in 2015.
Whether it's a home-and-home with a big-name opponent, or another possible neutral site game, similar to this year's Cowboys Classic against Alabama in Arlington, Texas.
"We're looking at both," Brandon said. "The key thing for us is to try and make sure we're playing in a venue that gives our fans access, and economically, provides us the best opportunity that justifies going on the road.
"We put 110 or 112,000 people every game in our venue, it's hard to go play in front of 35,000 people."
Ugh, ugh, ugh. A neutral site game gives fans less access than a home and home because it's a game in the middle of nowhere in a smaller stadium. No more neutral site games—we renovated the stadium for a reason, I assume, and not "so Slippery Rock can play there."
This isn't that hard: see MSU and OSU, currently loading up with quality nonconference home and homes not against opponents with 35k seat stadiums… because those don't exist in BCS conferences. Brandon must wake up at night tossing and turning at the agony of having to go to UConn next year. We get it. We also don't care. No more neutral sites.
Oh, man. Don't listen to them, Dylan Larkin.
While perusing my Twitter feed, I came across this tweet from U.S. NTDP Under-18 Team goalie Thatcher Demko and reply by Michigan commit Evan Allen:
“@thatcher_hockey: Larkin is Screetch” hahahha omg he IS screetch
via Michigan Hockey Net
Kids in high school still know who Screech is?
Mac Bennett stepping up. If Michigan can ever ice their full-strength defensive corps it will be a thing to behold($):
"Our guys liked his poise out there, his ability to handle and move the puck," said Trevor Timmins, Montreal's Director of Amateur Scouting. "He's a gifted skater. That's the one thing that he can rely on to get him to the NHL. He's not a big guy so he's had to add some size and strength, but he's in a great situation at Michigan, with some outstanding coaching, and we're seeing that development there.
"Similarly to Greg Pateryn last season, this season Mac is being leaned on to log a lot of ice time, and to play in all situations - be a leader on the team - and that provides Mac with greater confidence in his ability."
Wojo zings. Wojo zings:
This annual clash has turned into a nasty affair, which can happen when brothers scrap and egos fray. It wouldn't be this way if the Spartans had quietly gone about their business, winning two or three times a decade. But then Mark Dantonio showed up with his deep playbook of scowls, much deeper than his offense's playbook, and started ticking people off.
The Wolverines don't appreciate the Spartans' audacity to physically manhandle them. And the Spartans don't appreciate the Wolverines' continuing attempt to pretend their Ohio-based rival is more important.
Common Michigan State plea: "Heeyyyy, we're right heeeeere! Try to beat us! At least look at us!"
Penn State's "fourth down bravery" may have something to do with the fact they have the worst punting and kicking in the country. The Bylaw Blog advocates athletics majors. The new NHL CBA might be better for college programs than the old one. Still waiting on the massive imbalance in AHL eligibility to get sorted out. Genuinely Sarcastic back from the grave. DIAMOND STONE is visiting this weekend. He's a five-star 2015 basketball post.
anything you can charge I can charge at almost equal efficiency
A cherry-picked statistic from Michigan's worst home schedule in a long time and an eyebrow-cocking assertion caught my attention yesterday:
Michigan increased football ticket prices for this fall's six home games, but could another increase be in the works?
It certainly seems that's the direction.
Dave Brandon, Michigan's athletic director who spoke to the Wolverines Caucus on Tuesday, said 43 percent of the athletic department revenue comes from ticket sales.
"We're woefully under-market," Brandon said.
Michigan earlier this spring announced what it called a "modest" increase in football ticket prices. The six home-game package is $390, or an average $65 per game. Ohio State charges $75 a game, and Brandon said that gives the Buckeyes more money to put back into their athletic program and makes them more competitive.
This claim probably catches anyone who writes a check to the university by surprise so I thought I'd check it. It's hard to do so since the documents you can FOIA from the two schools list things a lot differently. They also do things differently: OSU has no mandatory annual PSLs. Instead they have a "Buckeye Fund" you donate to which gets you points that gets you priority, etc.
But the bottom line is I don't think Michigan fans are getting off easy. In 2010 OSU's eight-game home schedule netted them a total of $42.1 million. Michigan's seven games that year brought in 33.1 million. In 2011 OSU's seven home games were projected to bring in $36.4 million; Michigan's eight were projected to bring in 41.3 million. Over those two years that's a deficit for Michigan of about 270k per game, or about $2.45 a ticket.
It's hard to get a grip on exactly what the comparable numbers are in donationland but Michigan seems to have an advantage. In 2010 Buckeye Fund donations were around 10 million. Michigan's PSDs were $8.9 million plus another three million in "other gifts." Their nascent club seats and suites brought in $7.8; the year after things got in full swing and the fancy seat donations brought in $13 million. In 2011 OSU brought in $11 million from its fancy seats and another 3.5 from a "stadium ticket surcharge".
Add it all up and…
|Regular ticket sales||78.5||74.4|
|Suites and club*||22||26|
*[I used the 2011 numbers twice here since it was clear Michigan expected the 2011 number to be closer to accuracy going forward.]
…the gap is essentially nonexistent, the equivalent of $1.70 a ticket over those two years. Without the temporary surcharge Michigan would have an advantage. It's not clear what market Brandon's looking at. If it's the one in Columbus he's wrong.
The Big Ten meetings are currently underway in Chicago, and the big story is the Big Ten
bowing to their SEC overlords respecting the sanctity of the Rose Bowl by abandoning the desire for on-campus playoff semifinals. Of course, the stated reason for such a stance can't be "we're hopelessly in the pockets of the bowl system, so we'll sacrifice a competitive advantage for the sake of preserving some bastardized ideal of tradition," so this is now about... fairness?
DB: Admitted playing northern sites outside simply isn't fair even though Big Ten could have competitive advantage...
— Freep Wolverines (@freepwolverines) May 16, 2012
Sure, USC or UCLA playing in the Rose Bowl, LSU playing in the Sugar Bowl, Florida or Miami in the Orange Bowl, that's all fine. God forbid Big Ten fans actually get to drive to a postseason game while their SEC counterparts don coats (gasp!) and get on an airplane for what amounts to a road game! No, this can't happen because the kids want a nice trip and their bowl swag:
DB: Many UM FB players in favor of traveling to warm weather sites for bowl experience but could be tough in multiple weeks w B10 title game
— Freep Wolverines (@freepwolverines) May 16, 2012
Fair enough, I guess. I'm assuming, if the question was framed differently, the players would be in support of hosting a semifinal—and evening the playing field—instead of playing a "home" semi in Pasadena before a warm neutral-site final, though I could be wrong. Escaping Michigan in January is always high on my list of things to do in Michigan in January. This, however, is not my ideal destination:
Delany said he will "have conversations" about adding Big Ten bowl tie-in to New York City.
— Kyle Meinke (@kmeinke) May 16, 2012
Just so everyone has this straight: B1G concerned about cold weather for playoff, but would like to play bowl games in NYC in January.
— Kyle Meinke (@kmeinke) May 16, 2012
I present Yankee Stadium, home of the Pinstripe Bowl, one day before the 2010 game:
What's really remarkable is that the Big Ten is so brazen in its hypocricy that these ideas are presented within mere minutes of each other. The sooner the bowl system dies a fiery (icy?) death, at least when it comes to determining a national champion, the better.
A few weeks back, Ira from WTKA sent me an If I Was King article from a Penn State blog. Naturally, this got me thinking about what I would do if I woke up tomorrow and someone told me that due to a quantum something or other I was athletic director.
There are of course many things. I would let that hashtag guy go since he's supposed to be a public relations person but talks like a robot instead of a person, etc. But no one would see these changes. They may hear a deep rumbling basso laugh of evil. See it in their gameday experience they won't. So here are my top five-ish things I'd do in this alternate universe.
1. Start taking attendance, for both stick and carrot
three minutes to kickoff, check the packed endzone next to the students
One thing Dave Brandon and I are of one mind on is how gross it is for the student section to be half-empty at kickoff on certain gamedays. Since they're now scanning tickets they know who's coming early and who's coming late. They should start using this trove of data to reward behaviors they like and discourage ones they don't.
All season ticket holders, student or not, should start having an attendance score tracked. Max points are scored by being in the stadium 20 minutes prior to kickoff—bands—and something like 90% are scored by being there at kickoff, with a steep dropoff afterwards. For the first couple years Michigan does nothing with these except inform everyone of their score and their percentile range within their group (each different PSL level is a group w/ students separate) and within the entire fanbase.
Once they have a handle on the numbers they start making some use of this data with the students. Seating priority and away ticket and bowl lotteries are based on the score instead of straight seniority. Figure out the bottom 10% and set a threshold below which you can buy tickets but only at a full-cost rate. Take some of your pots of money and reward the most dedicated fans with reduced prices and special bonuses. What we're building is a religion, not a company.
For the folks paying full price there's not much Michigan can do. They're stretching everybody to the maximum dollar and at some point getting snooty about who you want on the list is going to result in no one showing up when you call out "next." But at the very least these scores should start adding to Victors point levels in some way, so that the guy who sat through the Ellerbe era at Crisler gets some credit for it.
Theme: Michigan's too focused on money as the end result of everything; they should make an effort to make the experience of being at a game better for everyone involved.
2. Stop playing the Penn State alma mater at every game
ignore the content of the song, project as 15 second clip
That would be "Seven Nation Army." I stole that joke from twitter.
Anyway. If Special K is going to run our lives for four hours every fall Saturday, the least he can do is not play the same six stadium anthems every other arena on the planet does. It is possible to both play music and build tradition if you pick something that you make yours.
Michigan accidentally did this when they picked a funky instrumental from a blaxploitation movie to lead Michigan Replay for 30 years. That worked because it was weird and ours and now I can't imagine our podcast without it; losing Across 110th Street was a traumatic experience that killed most of my interest in watching the Michigan Replay replacement (that and the internet making it a quaint relic). Special K should play that.
That should also serve as a lesson for any other in-game stuff. Make it weird, make it yours, stop playing "Sweet Caroline." Dump the overplayed Seven Nation Army and replace it with any of a dozen other White Stripes songs that would be equally or better suited. Make people think "Michigan" when they hear a song.
Michigan may have already tried this with "In The Big House," but the lesson there is never let a middle-aged white dude make a decision about music. Everrrrr. For it to be a beloved tradition people can't largely loathe it:
if anything this is kind since MGoReadership skews very young
Anyway. Figure out some stuff other people don't play that doesn't suck, play it at specific times so people get familiar with it, wait, and down the road you have a tradition.
Theme: By being different you can be loved.
3. Ask season ticket holders what they would like the schedule to look like, and ask them to pay for it
A corollary to this whole Alabama money debate is this: if it's going to cost extra to schedule a real opponent in a home and home, fine. When season ticket renewals are processed ask the people signing up if they would approve a surcharge for X games in X years against a BCS-level opponent in a home and home. Again, don't do anything with this information for a couple years as you gauge where you're at, then if you have a strong base of support for a more interesting schedule in those ND/OSU away years, announce that you're playing Team X and there will be a surcharge Y—or just price the ticket appropriately—for that year only.
You get permission to charge more in exchange for an exciting opponent; you bridge that gap between what a season ticket costs and what it's worth to scalpers.
Theme: Fans are more than teats to milk. We all participate in the decisions, and thereby become more invested.
4. Ask the Old Hat guys to do historical stuff for breaks
The one unqualified success in the modernization of the stadium experience has been the introductory videos produced by Old Hat Creative. Instead of filling dead air with Special K stuff it would be nice if Old Hat was tasked with producing 1-3 minute videos on Michigan history: Anthony Carter, the Virginia Kickoff Classic, Braylonfest, Tom Harmon, etc.
Basically MVictors: The Movie: The Short. The goal here is to do a little bit more than the occasional old highlight they've put on the board. Think little five-minute mini-documentaries about, say, the 1997 OSU game and what have you. You could play them in the nothing at the end of half time or split them across a couple commercial breaks.
Bonus: These can also be repurposed for Inside Michigan Football.
5. Think Carl Grapentine
This is more of a long-term feel than a specifically actionable thing one can do. If you don't know, Carl Grapentine is the PA guy at Michigan Stadium. If you've been to road games (or Michigan basketball ever) you know that he's a rare bird. Even Notre Dame's announcer burst out with something about how a rainbow had just appeared over the stadium—which was at least true—when Cam Gordon got torched for that billion-yard touchdown at the end of Denard's coming-out party a couple years ago.
Grapentine ain't havin' that. He's a just the facts ma'am kind of guy who brings boatloads of gravitas. He would easily win a presidential election contested between PA announcers. The Wings' Bud Lynch is another in that mold.
Many people have joked about The Brand The Brand The Brand in the past couple years as Brandon does whatever the hell he's doing with it. Mostly he's making it clear why we can't be Oregon. Say what you want about the Ducks' outlandishness, but damn if they don't communicate OREGON:
Even if the uniforms are incoherent, that is a coherent brand, one that supplanted a history of suck with success. Michigan has the opposite situation but they're just wobblin' around out there, claiming to be the home of tradition and coming out in no fewer than five different uniforms over the course of a season. That's not The Brand. That's the sad spectacle of a man going through a mid-life crisis getting "clunk" at da club.
Grapentine's the brand. Hoke is the brand. Refocus on that.
Theme: know who you are, instead of who the Knicks are.
An apparently continuing series on Dave Brandon's remarkably malleable opinions.
Dave Brandon, January 16th($):
"This whole notion of a playoff is ridiculous because I don't care what you come up with, it's not going to be a fair playoff. You've got a bunch of teams that don't play one another and play different competition and in different time zones in different conferences in different stadiums in front of different crowds and different weather and suddenly at some point in the year you are trying to arbitrarily decide which one is better and which one deserves to be in a four-team playoff or a six-team playoff."
Dave Brandon, May 3rd:
"I'm not opposed to 1 vs. 4, 2 vs. 3, plus-one concept," Brandon said. "I don't see it as a true playoff system. It's a clever way to come up with one more football game. I'm not sure I call that a playoff, but if it makes everybody feel better, call it a playoff."
Mmmm, bendy. Dave Brandon's line between playoff and not playoff is 5.87 teams, no fewer, no more.
Ann Arbor Torch and Pitchfork gets it done:
Michigan marching band received a letter today from Dave Brandon informing them that they will be heading to Dallas for the 2012 FB opener
Also some well-heeled donor or six dropping benjamins. Nickel and dime, nickel and dime.
Meanwhile, David Brandon on the financial realities of Jerryworld($):
Brandon acknowledged that the athletic department would have made more money had it just hosted a game at Michigan Stadium. "If it was just about the money," he said, "we would have hosted a game here."
But the exposure, the primetime slot and the opponent will do wonders for the program. Brandon said there was no way he could have gotten Alabama or a similarly high-profile opponent to do a one-off game in Ann Arbor. And with the Wolverines' 2013 schedule already full, a home-and-home series would not have worked, either.
…says an athletic director looking at a 2013 return game with UConn for a game scheduled in 2010, in a department that waited half a decade to get a return game from Oregon.
Whatever. Even if it's a grim idea financially for both the department and Michigan fans it's better than a MAC game until we're down two touchdowns. I'll be extremely disappointed if this sort of thing happens again, though. Price marquee games appropriately and there's no reason Michigan can't make it work financially with home and homes. No more middlemen, sterile NFL arenas, etc.
Speaking of, Brandon mentioned that Michigan is pursuing a home and home with a Pac-12 team that should launch in before the 2017, when the conferences will play annual games against each other. Hopefully that means a home game in 2014, when Nebraska/OSU/Notre Dame are again on the road. (Michigan at least adds Penn State to the home schedule that year.)
If that's the case, possibilities are:
- Cal. Cal has already scheduled a game at Northwestern, however, and probably wants a couple of bodybag home games to fill things out.
- Oregon. Home date with MSU in 2014 and on the road in 2015. Probably does not want to double up with the state of Michigan, but the schedule seems to work out.
- Stanford. Similar issue to Cal's: Already @ ND in 2014.
- USC. USC ain't scurred of filling up its schedule with BCS teams and has a home game with ND in 2014 plus a game at BC(?!?). They'd probably be willing to take on a challenge since BC is going to roll over and die. Complication: this would be smack in the middle of the period sanctions should bite them and they might want to ease up on the scheduling.
- Utah. Hasn't scheduled anything.
- Washington State. Has a home game against Wisconsin in 2014 and a road game against Nevada. Unlikely they'd want to go on the road that year.
Everyone else is full in 2014. Utah or USC seem like the most likely options. A home and home with a Utah team that has twice come out for one-offs in the past decade would be something of a letdown.
BONUS RANDOM NOTE: It looks like the prophesied resurrection of multiple interesting nonconference games is coming to pass. Body-bags guarantees and rising ticket prices have finally created an environment where it makes sense to keep people on the hook with games against actual opponents. At least there's that.