I'VE HAD JUST ABOUT ENOUGH OF YOU SONNY
Signed stuff by the bucket. Note for memorabilia-seekers: The From The Heart charity auction is up and going and has a ton of stuff for the man with an empty basement. As per usual, proceed go to charity.
Bombed, but not enough. USC has gotten a severe punishment, with two-year bowl ban and serious scholarship penalties. Woo! Question, though: how does the basketball program get off with nothing more than the self-imposed penalties they've already taken when the USC compliance department explicitly told Tim Floyd to drop OJ Mayo because there was a 100% chance he was on the take. I think they got the football punishments about right—they should have voided all of USCs LOIs and dumped transfer restrictions for the duration of the probation—but their basketball program should have gotten the same treatment.
“As I read the decision by the NCAA, all I could get out of all of this was … I read between the lines and there was nothing but a lot of envy, and they wish they all were Trojans,” Garrett said to cheers Thursday night at the San Francisco Airport Marriott.
Comparing and contrasting USC's response with Michigan's is too obvious to even undertake. The NCAA should retroactively give them the death penalty, and then do it again. How much do you think it would cost to hire a private investigator to go after USC full-time? Surely there are enough people in the country willing to chip in that we could get this done for five bucks each, right?
And don't get me started on women's tennis.
UPDATE: It is officially open season on USC juniors and seniors:
Juniors and seniors to-be on the USC Trojans' football team, hit with a two-year postseason ban among other punishments, will be allowed to transfer to other FBS programs without having to sit out a season, the NCAA clarified to ESPN on Friday.
"The second school would have to submit a waiver asking to waive the year in residence, but NCAA rules allow for this waiver to be granted if a student-athlete's first school has a postseason ban in their sport," NCAA spokeswoman Stacey Osburn said in an e-mail to ESPN's Joe Schad.
A glance at the roster reveals that four of USC's top five corners are eligible to GTFO. I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'. We are down one corner, after all.
Izzout? After Tom Izzo spent 9.5 hours in Cleveland yesterday—far more time than anyone who is not Serious About Cleveland would spend—the tenor of the Izzo chatter in East Lansing is trending towards grim resignation. Jim Comparoni, the nut who runs Michigan State's Rivals site and in my experience has never once said anything remotely negative about anything related to State, says it is a "very bad sign" that Izzo's scheduled golf appearance has been canceled and that football coaches say it "doesn't look good." There may be a 4PM press conference coming up today. There may not.
At The Only Colors they're simultaneously convincing themselves that Izzo's statement is not bad news and evaluating the coaching tree for possible replacements. Insert your preferred Kubler-Ross interpretation here.
Don the tinfoil hats. If Dave Brandon is willing to bluntly state that he had nothing to do with Dorsey's failure to be admitted, I believe him:
"This is a decision that is owned by the admissions department, our admissions office," Brandon said. "It's always been owned by the admissions office. It is not unusual for a letter of intent to be signed with a prospective student-athlete where there's far more that needs to be done for the student-athlete to be admitted. It involves course work, it involves test scores, and a variety of criteria some of which is fact-based and where and how they went about improving their test scores."
You'd have to be foolhardy to make such a statement in a FOIA-laden environment, and Brandon doesn't seem foolhardy. As discussed yesterday, this had everything to do with grades.
Expansion-o-rama again. The to-date accurate Chip Brown has declared the interest level between Texas and A&M to be "NONE!!!!!!" which doesn't make a ton of sense given the very real benefits available to Texas and A&M if they were to join the CIC—financial benefits that dwarf the amount of money athletics makes, causing the Big Ten partisans in the expansion game to declare him a useful stooge for athletic directors wishing to get a message out, which kind of does make sense.
Meanwhile a report that OU is headed to the SEC has been quickly and widely repudiated. I guess we'll find out.
World Cup linkage. One: GOLAZO! More footie strategy at Zonal Marking, which has tackled the US side "good, but need tactical tweaks" the Slovenians, a typical hardworking, honest, boring 4-4-2, and the Algerians, who were mainly 3-5-2 but are apparently going 4-4-2 for the WC, possibly because of a run of poor recent results. The Algerian goaltender is described as "very, very dodgy," something that takes doing at the African Cup of Nations.
Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon has made it clear that today is the day Michigan will send a hundred or so practice hours onto the beaches of Normandy, where they will be cut down by the relentless pillbox gunners of the NCAA. We'll find out what the results were tomorrow. This does not count as Godwinning myself because I am attempting to make a D-Day reference and not angry enough at the infractions committee to compare them to Nazis. Promise.
Anyway: there will be other sacrifices as well. I've been unable to figure out exactly what those will be, but the word is "an eye for an eye." Since we are talking about practice, in the words of the Great Iverson, this will mean giving back the excess hours two for one and possibly putting some restrictions on quality control assistants or giving up the use of a coach for some period of time.
Back in February when the university announced the Notice of Allegations, message board folk scoured the NCAA archives for similar infractions and came up with two recent examples at San Diego State and Florida International; this blog then attempted to figure out what tomorrow would look like. Both gave up a bunch of practice hours over three years and imposed some additional coaching restrictions. San Diego State then took six total years of scholarship reductions. The Bylaw Blog's proprietor did not think that was something Michigan would see done to them:
Based on the difference between these two cases [SDSU and M], I would say reduced scholarships are still on the table, but are most likely to be self-imposed. Michigan might give up scholarships if they believe scholarships are worth less than practice and they can reduce the practice penalties somewhat by giving up something else.
IE: San Diego State probably had a chronically under-supplied roster then and the scholarship penalties were giving away things they didn't need. Michigan won't want to follow that path, though I've been pushing the idea that Michigan might take one this year because they won't be able to get up to 85 scholarship players anyway. On the other hand, the practice penalties won't be severe. Michigan's total hour overages come to 66. If they give back two for one (132 total) and they're allowed to spread that over three years Michigan will have to give up 44 practice hours this year. That's not a whole lot, especially if some of them take the form of conditioning sessions that go from mandatory to "voluntary," which seems like a reasonable thing to do since the practice overages were conditioning sessions.
Potential Complicating Factors
There are two things in Michigan's naughty file that do not have clear precedents. One is the "Failure to monitor" accusation leveled at Rodriguez. (The separate failure to monitor accusation against the university was something SDSU and FIU got hit with, so the penalties they took include that.) The NCAA took a poke at WVU to see if they were sitting on any records of malfeasance as part of their new effort to tag coaches with stronger consequences—see also the proposal to track coach-specific APRs—but the chance of that turning up anything other than a chagrin-inducing lack of records at WVU is slim. Still, it is possible the NCAA could levy a sanction against RR. Since this is a new initiative what that might be is unknown.
The second is exactly how bad the Quality Control staffer excesses were. It is one thing if they were helping out with stretching; entirely another if they were basically operating 7-on-7 drills supposed to be voluntary. That has not been made clear.
Once On The Beach
Once that's announced Michigan is basically done. In both of the similar cases above, the Committee on Infractions didn't impose any additional punishments except short probationary periods of two (the minimum) and three years. Michigan has those precedents to work off of and has hired the former head of the COI to prepare the response. The announced sanctions will be accepted by the COI basically as-is in August, and then it will start to recede into the past.
I'm actually looking forward to the word coming down tomorrow, as the distant possibility the NCAA sets fire to everything should be removed. This is especially relevant for recruits, as Michigan should be able to point to the self-imposed sanctions and declare the ability of the program to compete will not be compromised. After tomorrow, we can start talking about the important thing: wins and losses.
Yesss. Ace's burgeoning tradition of releasing exciting Spring Game footage of a hot new quarterback comes in two steps. Step 1: video. Step 2: video with Christopher Walken. This one even has the 97-yard touchdown inexplicably omitted from the first video:
The new Shazor. So… yeah, Donovan Warren did not get picked in the NFL draft this year, causing Maize 'n' Brew to dissect his decision. I'm all like "what the hell?" I don't think anyone thought Warren was going in the first round, but to fall out of the draft entirely is a Shazor-like collapse. It's actually worse. Shazor's fall was obvious in retrospect: the guy imploded over the second half of his junior season, failed drug tests, and got tagged with major character issues. All Warren did was run a couple of crappy 40s on gimpy ankles. I'm not sure if you can blame Warren when he was told he'd be a mid-round pick at worst. The advisory board did both Warren and Michigan a major disservice here.
BONUS: Donovan Warren tweets like… um… like there's a cat on his keyboard.
(Side note: Greg Easterbrook fulminating about the advisory board:
This year, the advisory board told Michigan cornerback Donovan Warren he'd be a first-round choice, and told Mississippi quarterback Jevan Snead he'd be no lower than a third.
Warren said in announcing his decision to turn pro Sunday that the committee gave him "a broad range, rounds 1 to 3."
"Rounds one to three" is way different than round one. Don't let those facts prevent you from getting your furrow on, yo. The actual facts are pretty damning in this case… why exaggerate?)
Exeunt Morris. Jamie Morris's departure from the athletic department hit the papers yesterday, drawing terse statements from the athletic department and no comment from the people who knew about this a week ago but decided not to tell you.
I don't want to air dirty laundry without cause, but Morris is being tossed around as THE MOLE or held up as a representation of Dave Brandon cleaning house against the Rodriguez resistance. So: Morris was dismissed as a result of some bad decisions about use of an athletic department car and a subsequent attempt to conceal those bad decisions. It doesn't have anything to do with Rodriguez.
If you think it's possible that someone could have skated for a similar offense under Martin (maybe) or Goss (definitely), this is an improvement. Personally, I'm waiting to hear exactly what happened with Michigan's CARA forms—and what happens to the people who failed to file them—before proclaiming the New Era of Accountability nigh.
Morris still plans to be on WTKA this fall with John U Bacon; his takes promise to get more interesting now that he's not employed by the AD.
Auburntron will be ours. Michigan's scoreboards are increasingly outdated in a world of advertising-plastered Godzilla-trons. I would like one Tron, sans advertising, please. Dave Brandon, what say you?
"The reality is those scoreboards are old. They're old technology and they're old."
This is a man who will bring crazy HD replay boards to Michigan stadium, all the better to see Armando Allen stepping out of bounds. The last thing on the hit list: video replay at Yost.
(Catch from mgouser Rush N Attack.)
Somewhat thunderous. We have a final number on the effect of Michigan's boxes on the noise level. Somewhat oddly, it comes from an article on the noise level at Beaver Stadium:
A similar reflected-sound effect was measured at the University of Michigan stadium by architecture professor Mojtaba Navvab. He found that the recent addition of skyboxes there created a wall that reflected sound from lower seats onto the field. That meant an increase of 4 to 5 decibels in on-field noise.
DBs are logarithmic (and base ten) so a 4-5 decibel increase is actually something close to triple(!) the volume. Sort of. A fruitless journey through wikipedia indicates that loudness is a fuzzy concept and an increase in sound pressure does not have a one to one correspondence with the perceived loudness. Until such point as we can blow out the opposing quarterback's eardrums on a critical third down, perception is where it's at. As best I can figure, the luxury box-spurred increase is significant but not game-changing.
Implosion continues apace. Both Detroit papers got hammered over the past six months, with the News falling 10.1 percent and the Free Press 13.3, both considerably in excess of national averages. The web numbers are even more slanted towards the News:
Web traffic has been strong as well. Unique traffic to detnews.com increased 26.4 percent to 4.3 million readers in March compared with a year earlier. Unique visitors to freep.com increased 2.2 percent to 4.7 million, Harshbarger said.
Losing 13 percent of your circulation and gaining two percent on the web is a nasty blow. Extracting a moral from the story is an exercise left to the reader.
(Side note for Mitch Albom: "Uniques" are a wildly varying metric, but in case you're curious Quantcast's guesstimate as to the number of people who visit the Free Press monthly is about 1.3 million. This blog is currently at 10% of that.)
Etc.: Michigan had 23 players in the NHL this year, more than any other college hockey team. College hockey players comprise a third of the league. (HT: Michigan Hockey Net.) Marques Slocum takes his Sprint/Nextel fandom to the Redskins. Fake John Calipari is very convincing. Space Emperor (of Space) gets some pub in Boston.
Baraka Obama-a. Remember Kelly Baraka? Unless you're an old-school M recruitnik probably not. If you don't: he was supposed to be a total ninja RB before a number of high school pot arrests saw him lose his shot at an M scholarship. He never made it anywhere else and has regularly featured in "where are they now?" features end up with the Kalamazoo Xplosion, a minor league football team. Not that you needed me to tell you that with a name like "Xplosion."
Yeah… anyway. About that ninja bit:
LeGarrette Blount ain't got nothing on Kelly Baraka.
Video revamp. Inside Michigan Football sans browser-crippling software:
Schilling's beard is a confidence-building one.
Slings and arrows. The Mathlete takes a look at luck over the past two years in the Big Ten and nationally, re-running last season based on performance-adjusted PPG metrics and slicing out some of the huge swings from random plays like fumbles (he leaves in interceptions). Unsurprisingly, Michigan hasn't been on the kind end of things:
I had some questions about whether this "luck" factor was really luck, but there doesn't appear to be any correlation between excellent teams and good fortune. OSU and Penn State average out to be basically even. Iowa nets out around –2. Michigan State's 9-3 2008 team was the second most-fortunate in the country that year, something that checks out in the statistics. It passes a cursory sanity check.
So, then: Northwestern is your official Big Ten lucksack with Minnesota a distant second. If I'm reading the graph right, the Wildcats have been the luckiest team in the country two years running. The negative outlier for 2009—that dot sitting right at –3.0 on the y axis—is Oklahoma, by the way. Not that you needed to be told that a seven-win Stoops outfit suffered its share of outrageous fortune even beyond the Bradford injury.
One stop scouting. The NTDP moved to the USHL this year, which the NHL scouting community loves. Previously, the development team had puttered along in the NAHL, in which draftable prospects are few and far between. Now they're in the USA's premiere junior league and scouts are going "eeee":
"The whole design of the program has given us the selfish benefactor of comparing the Under-18 team on one weekend against the University of Michigan and older players, and then watching them against their group peers the following weekend. But because this is such a select team, an elite team, we think that the elite 18-year-olds should be able to compete against the 21- and 22-year-olds who were not selected in the draft. Those players are older and more savvy but for some reason were passed over."
This should help the NTDP hold on to some of the elite Americans they've lost in recent years. (Example: Stefan Matteau, son of longtime NHLer Stephane Matteau, has accepted a slot according to Michigan Hockey Net.) The 2011 NTDP is a relatively motley bunch. Michigan hasn't recruited anyone from it, a rarity these days. That will change for 2012, as Michigan will have at least two on next years U17s. Boo Nieves is a holy lock for the team and Heisenberg says Connor Carrick has already accepted an invite.
More Brandon panting. David Brandon loves America:
“Expanding the tournament, I believe is a bad idea … there are certain things that if they are not broke, don’t try to fix ‘em. If there is a better, more outstanding platform out there than the NCAA Final Four and basketball tournament, you have to tell me what that is.”
Not that this matters as the 96-team tournament becomes a foregone conclusion. I can't wait for that 9-24 matchup that will determine who has the right to face at eight seed. Guh.
While I'm on Brandon, contrast Michigan's hiring process with the fiasco that went down in Eugene after Mike Bellotti was presented a $2.3 million going-away present after accepting a job with ESPN:
[Oregon president Richard] Lariviere made two things clear: that he initiated the change in leadership and that university officials made missteps in dealing with Bellotti’s contract that no longer will be tolerated.
“This institution did not follow acceptable business practices in the past,” Lariviere said. “That will not be repeated by my administration.”
Makes the hundred grand or whatever Michigan spent vetting candidates seem like the chump change it is.
Lariviere fired Bellotti because of an "increasing need for strong financial and business management"; the ESPN job was a late development that seemed to allow all parties to save face. (Then it blew up in their face, but it was a nice try.) The trend in athletic directors is clear: CEO types.
Walk it back. Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick has read enough livid emails about Notre Dame's national cachet and the potential damage to Catholicism that would result from Our Lady joining up with those secular hooligans and is now changing tack on Notre Dame's role in Big Ten expansion:
That, Swarbrick insists now, was not a signal that Notre Dame is more open to finding a home for football in the Big Ten or any other league.
"The only things that could make it happen are the sorts of radical change in the industry that would cause upheaval and impact a lot more (schools) than Notre Dame," he says. "You wind up with only three conferences. You wind up with two tiers of conferences. Now, all of a sudden, it's not three divisions in college; it's four. It's the big change.
"I don't see that happening."
Please reduce your ND-to-B10 DEFCON to 85. Swarbrick adds:
"I really do believe strongly that we're sort of uniquely positioned to continue to chart our own course."
Sort of uniquely positioned? DEFCON back to 84!
In other Big Ten expansion news, Barnhardt writes about a 16 team Big Ten, spurring another round of PANIC duly shot down by DocSat, resurrected by the St Louis Post-Dispatch and OSU athletic director Gene Smith:
"I believe that if we expand, you probably ought to look at more than (just adding a 12th school)," Ohio State athletics director Gene Smith said.
Stressing that was his opinion and may not be shared by some colleagues, Smith added that he believed the impact "would be pretty massive."
A sixteen team Big Ten is stupid. I complained earlier that an expansion to 14 would see Michigan play Penn State 29% of the time; going to 16 would drop that to 12% (eight conference games) or 25% (nine). That's not a conference any more. The only way it could work would be to adopt promotion and relegation. Whenever I bring this up people point out that the radical swings in team quality characteristic of college football could doom very good teams to irrelevance, and they're right. But it makes more sense than pretending to be in a conference with a team you play once every eight years.
If you're going to expand like that, I think 15 is the number. My completely bats proposal for a 14-team Big Ten is mathematically unworkable, but if you add a 15th team you can break the conference into three divisions of five that play each other and two (or possibly three) opponents in each of the other divisions, and then you can have relegation/promotion crazytimes at the end of the season. This will never, ever happen.
I'm hoping this is all a game of chicken to convince Notre Dame to sign on the dotted line. Expansion of the Big Ten past twelve teams is an idea on par with a 96 team NCAA tournament.
Reviews of a mixed variety. Local scouting service "Best of the Best" returns from the MSHAA playoffs with impressions of a number of players, three of them relevant to your interests. Isaiah Sykes:
He doesn't have a jump shot to save his life, but you'd be hard pressed to find a better finisher and slasher in the 2010 class statewide. Also drop dimes like a 5'9 PG. Terrific rebounder, and is great at getting the defensive board and starting the fast break and making something positive happen with the basketball. High majors are recruiting him, and it's warranted, would be a good late pick up for any up-tempo college team.
He's already committed to Michigan, but I don't know if he'll be successful in that system. In order to succeed at the highest level, picking the right system will be a absolute necessity for him. At the end of the day, he's a SG, and that's the bottom line. He produces and gets the job done, at that's what every team needs. He's a very good finisher for his size at the high school level and he can score in bunches when he gets rolling. All in all, his upside is limited in my opinion.
Decidedly negative, that. Hopefully he can develop a jumper over the next year and a half. Finally, Amir Williams:
A defensive phenom no matter the game because of his length, size, and timing, his effect on the game will be felt no matter what. He is also a hungry rebounder, who attacks the glass. Those are two big positives that you'd like every big man to have in their game, once the offensive part of his game becomes more consistent, we could be looking at another McDonald's All American out of the Country Day program.
More meta UFR stuff. Biological fun fact: because of Chris Chelios, Mike Comrie, and my loose affiliation with the Wings due to a childhood spent in then hockey-free Colorado, I migrated my NHL fandom to the Edmonton Oilers a while back. How's that working out? Just fantastic, thanks.
One of the compensations of following the sort of team that would sign 70-year-old Nikolai Khabibulin to a four-year deal without giving him a physical is that the blogging community around the team is spectacularly good. I've read Lowetide and MC79 for years and have just stumbled on the SBNation Oilers blog. It has a post called "Groupthink, Confirmation Bias, Hockey Fans And Microstats." I put in in the feed reader three times.
Anyway, here's UFR motivation in a nutshell:
In the world of sports fans, confirmation biases abound. It's impossible for individual fans to record, catalog, process, analyze and interpret the results of hundreds of independent events occurring constantly throughout a game, but it's much easier to pick out those events and sequences of events that support their conclusions. Any hockey fan that has sat silently shaking their head while the crowd piles on an undeserving player recognizes this immediately. It's a powerful psychological force, especially in a setting like sports. Fans can confirm their biases for themselves and immediately fall back on thousands, sometimes hundreds of thousands of fellow fans to confirm what they already know.
It seems that the Michigan fan's groupthink these days has been pretty accurate. Most of the people who have come in for internet horsewhippings have subsequently fluttered in and out of the lineup (Mike Williams, JT Floyd, Obi Ezeh, Jonas Mouton, Dorrestein/Huyge platoon) or been moved to less terrifying spots for their athleticism (Kovacs). Even so, it's nice to have UFRs around for when it's unjustified, like when Steve Breaston was getting killed for dropping about the same number of balls as any other receiver on the team.
And yes, I will UFR the Ohio State game, probably about a week after spring practice finishes up.
Right, I forgot about the pablum. So Da'Sean Butler suffered an ugly ACL tear in his Final Four game against Duke and then had that uncomfortable moment with Huggins.
But before that he said a bunch of nice things about Beilein:
"Everybody has to buy in, and you have to get the right people," Butler said, referring to Beilein's offense, which requires discipline and precise shooting. "You've got to get the absolute right people for that system, because if you have even one person that doesn't understand or doesn't care to understand, a cancer on the team of some sort, then it can throw everything off, honestly.
"The system works. That's the best system I've ever been part of in my life as far as just running an offense. It suited me so well. I think everybody kind of gets into, you've got to get all these five-star and whatever recruits, and for him, you just need to find the right players who can obviously make shots, but who will work hard. And if you find that right group, and not like prima donnas, it could be a very good system."
I guess that's nice but I bet the "whole lot of nothing" quote Butler dropped a few days ago resulted in a sharp thwack on the head and a reminder to never say anything that could be construed as not wildly positive. On the other hand, Huggins is still running Beilein's 1-3-1 regularly. That does seem meaningful.
Might be time for another "eeee" tag. Yes, more David Brandon hype ahoy:
“I don’t put a disproportionate amount of emphasis on any one year, but clearly this year was a year we hoped for better and certainly lost a little bit of momentum in terms of our improvement,” Brandon said. “But that doesn’t detract from my belief that going forward we can regain that momentum, and our program is going to get bigger and better and stronger when we get those practice facilities in, and we do some things that will afford us to be able to recruit a little more aggressively. It’s going to help both those programs a lot."
He manages to strike a balance between acknowledging things have been disappointing and offer public support of his coaches in response to the machine-gunned "when can we fire this guy?" questions he appears to field 24/7.
That comes from an article that focuses on the future of the basketball program with a couple of Brandon quotes that give an indication of what the U has planned for Crisler:
“We need wider concourses, we need more restrooms, we need better amenities in terms of food service and service opportunities for our fans,” Brandon said. “We need to re-seat the bowl, think differently about the kind of seating that we use and probably put in some kind of club-seating opportunities to give special experiences to people who are willing to take advantage of those.
“Probably come up with a different game plan as to where we put the media and just how we professionalize that arena.”
Emphasis mine. That sort of talk would be an anethma about Michigan Stadium—though it is basically undergoing the same process—but is welcome in reference to Crisler, which is what you'd get if you took Joe Louis Arena and turned off half the lights. If Brandon can fulfill his goal of having the broadcaster who declared Crisler one of the worst in the country return to eat crow*, Michigan's facilities renovations will be essentially complete. The last thing to do would be another Yost renovation that brought in video boards and some other things.
*(This has to be Bilas, right? I imagine this happened during one of his many defenses of Tommy Amaker.)
This was a Malcolm in the Middle plot. MVictors has detailed Michigan's tumultuous 1909 on his blog and in HTTV, and now we have a postscript thanks to mgouser and extremely unusual person Alaska Hokie. Michigan QB Joy Miller was the Demar Dorsey of his day, except with academic laziness (the classes: he had none) substituting for juvenile robberies. He was eventually booted from the team and ended up cleaning pots for a horrible woman in Alaska. Or something close to that:
QUARTER BACK LOSES HIS MIND
Famous Football Player on the Wolverine Team is Located at Walla Walla Working as Laborer.
HIS MIND IS TOTAL BLANK
Disappeared Months Ago From His Home and All Trace of Him Has Up to the Present Been Lost.
WALLA WALLA, March 19.—James Miller, the famous quarterback of the Michigan team last year, who has been missing from his home for several months, was located in this city yesterday working as a laborer. His mind is a total blank and he is quite unable to recognize his friends. He was elected to the captaincy of the Wolverine team for next season.
The end. It was Washington, but same difference.
Man-for-man, his isn't the most talented offense in the conference, but given the close-to-the-sweatervest approach at Ohio State and widespread inexperience at Penn State, I'd put my money on MSU leading the conference in scoring at a little over 30 points per game. Just like last year, though, part of that will be out of necessity, to overcome the growing pains of a pair of new and/or ineffective cornerbacks, specifically, and a back seven in general that just doesn't have the horses to seriously contend for the conference title or one of the floating BCS slots. Assuming the offensive line holds up, though, the passing game will have a few eye-popping afternoons, and a Gator or Outback Bowl bid likely awaits after a borderline top-25 finish in the neighborhood of 8-4.
That is not within a game or two of .500, which will be its undoing. Spartan .500 gravity is one of the universe's most powerful forces.
Etc.: Devin Gardner is walking around campus in a sling. He's still practicing, though. Canadian hockey writer/broadcaster person Bob McKenzie sent his son to St. Lawrence to play college hockey. The younger McKenzie has just played out his eligibility, causing the elder to post on his experience with college hockey. Browser-crippling version of Inside Michigan Football #3 up.
Last year you had a post on why Penn State wouldn't go varsity in hockey, and why a Big Ten Hockey conference would not happen. While the economics have gotten harder, one of the central tenets was all the conferences were full - but the CCHA will have an open spot that they didn't want to give to Alabama-Huntsville after UNO's departure. Would the CCHA welcome in Penn State (and why not)? How much does this improve the likelihood that Penn State's hockey program goes varsity?
On a related track, if Notre Dame joined the Big Ten, would it spell doom for the CCHA?
The main reason Huntsville was rejected from the CCHA application is that the small schools in the league are already in a financially precarious position and adding a trip to Alabama would have been a net loss. At least, that's my reading of the boilerplate:
“The CCHA will remain focused on maintaining and strengthening our existing members to ensure the conference’s continued success and long-term viability.”
Penn State is closer—about four hours by car for most CCHA sites—but not close enough that anyone is going to drive, so the financial drain is about the same. However, it's bleeding obvious that PSU brings a lot more cachet to the league than UAH. Would Ferris sell out for a game against Penn State even if PSU was terrible, as they likely would be for the first few years? Maybe or maybe not, but they'd probably draw better than any other mediocre-to-bad CCHA team. The Big Ten Network would televise more games and maybe the smaller CCHA schools could extract some money from that in exchange. Financially, it seems feasible for the existing members.
I assume Penn State's varsity hockey outlook is considerably improved by the opening, but that just means it goes from "no way in hell" to "very small chance."
Your Notre Dame question is sort of a question about a Big Ten hockey conference, which I don't think we'll see in the near future even if ND joins. You have to have six schools to call your conference the Big Ten, but you don't have to play in a Big Ten conference once you get to six.
HOWEVA, this offseason is going to be the most interesting one in a long time for college hockey. Some sort of Big Ten quasi-conference has moved past the realm of rumor and into things coaches are talking about directly. The announcement that the College Hockey Showcase was kaput actually came with the notion that Michigan and Michigan State would end up playing their WCHA Big Ten brethren more often, not less:
"We have one more year after this and that's it,'' MSU coach Rick Comley said. "I think it's run it's course. Wisconsin did not want to extend the Showcase. They want to get Ohio State involved and they prefer a Big Ten Conference.'' …
"My preference would be to play (Minnesota and Wisconsin) twice (each season),'' said Comley, who is not in favor of a Big Ten league at this point. "I think we could declare a Big Ten champion. It would require a reduced number of CCHA games, which I'm in favor of.''
Whenever I talk to the Big Ten Network people, which has been a few times now, I ping them about hockey and their response always is "we are interested in televising games between Big Ten schools." The network needs content but doesn't want Lake Superior; the BTN money then gives the big schools a huge incentive to play each other.
With the CCHA headed to 11 teams and the WCHA to 12, both conferences are going to have to adjust their schedules. I don't know how you could possibly make an 11 team conference work with the unbalanced schedule the CCHA has been running since they went to twelve, so a reduction to 22 conference games seems inevitable. If Michigan is going to play Wisconsin twice and Minnesota twice and maintain their four games per year against State, they might as well throw in a bonus series with Ohio State and call that a Big Ten schedule, right? If the WCHA goes down to 24, UW and Minnesota can do this too, but that will eat up every nonconference game in years they don't travel to Alaska or manage an exempt tournament.
How come our band goes to so few road games? It seems like the MMB only goes to MSU, ND, and OSU. The Purdue band and their big drum managed to make it to the big house. It seems like at every SEC game the visiting band is always there. How come our band never travels to non-rivals games?
I pinged someone formerly in the band and they pinged someone closer to the situation and this is what I got back:
More than money, I think it's logistics. It's hard to convince schools to give up 230-280 seats so that Michigan can have more of a presence in their stadium; that was the deal with PSU before. They'll give us like 90 tickets, or enough for a big pep band, but not enough for pregame or a meaningful halftime performance. At the time, the directors decided that it was better not to go than to send a group too small to really represent the MMB, and nothing's changed, more or less.
This seems sort of unlikely to me since Northwestern and Indiana aren't going to sell out when Michigan comes to down, and if opponents were unwilling to fork over seats for the MMB Michigan could retaliate by not allowing opposing bands to come. That's not the case: there might be one home game a year where the opponent band does not show, and that's homecoming. Virtually every band in the Big Ten shows at Michigan Stadium.
I’ll go on the record as being opposed to our new AD making comments that RR will be the coach for this season insomuch as it could be construed that RR could be done if they do not improve this season. With the sharks already circling the program, I see this as an unwise move by Brandon. Why give legs to the notion that RR is on the hot seat? If Brandon does not see the impending doom and downward spiral that awaits us if we push out RR too fast, then shame on him for not learning from the Notre Dames and Nebraskas of the world.
Thoughts? I am really concerned that we’ll jump the shark on this one. I don’t see a scenario out there that does not put us into a tailspin. Hire Les Miles/Harbaugh and you’ve got the revamp the offense to more of a traditional attack and we’re looking at least another year or two of development and recruiting. Yes, a Miles hire would be an uptick on your recruiting trail, but would it be enough to overcome the current perception of the program? Hire another spread guy and you’re limited to a crop of guys who are descendant from the guy who wrote the book and that you just got rid of. Where is the win in that scenario. Our best bet is to go on the offensive in support of our guy. Let’s not lay out there for interpretation anymore lame-ass ambiguous quotes for the Sharp’s, Snyder’s, and Rosenberg’s of the world to run wild with. Let’s go on the offensive with the media and boot the Free Press and their Guerilla journalism tactics out in to the cold and make an example out of them. Let’s go get these supposed Old Guard or Moles or whatever the message boards are calling them today and let it be none that you’re either on-board or off the ship, even if it means returning checks to donors.
I think leadership like that is what we need now and not the comments I read this morning, which are not the comments of someone convinced we’re headed in the right direction.
I mentioned this in UV yesterday about Brandon's stay on message moments in the press conference and with Generic Fox Business Jerko, but to reiterate: I think the explicit "Rich Rodriguez will be our coach next year" is not so much a threat that Rich Rodriguez won't be the coach in 2011 as a way to remove any ambiguity about Rodriguez's job security right this moment.
Unfortunately, Brandon has to live in reality, and in reality there is a chance that Rodriguez doesn't make it to 2011. If Michigan doesn't make a bowl this year it may be impossible to keep him even if you think he is a good coach just because of the brand damage. I sort of kind of felt that way about Tommy Amaker: even if he'd been extremely unlucky to barely whiff on NCAA tourney bids and suffer through that one year where the team was so injury-wracked that Dani Wohl started against Michigan State, after six years you can't really justify keeping him on. I was way less enthused about Amaker in general since his history was one Sweet 16 season followed by an implosion.
"Going on the offensive" with the media never works out. The hive mind perceives a threat and releases single-sentence pheromones that scurry to their defense. Why do you hate freedom, Mr. University of Michigan? Censorship, Mr. University of Michigan? For shame. Etc. The best thing is to be as explicit and boring as possible. And from what I've seen elsewhere, outside of the shrill yelpers in the local media the end result here is regarded as nothing. Self-imposed sanctions will be announced and then everyone will forget about it unless they're creating a spittle-flecked case to fire Rodriguez.
As far as a hypothetical new coach in 2011 resulting in a tailspin, I actually think there could be something of a Ron English effect going on here. After years of clamoring for Jim Herrmann's head, Michigan fans finally got it in the 2006 offseason. Ron English walked into Lamarr Woodley, Alan Branch, David Harris, Leon Hall, Shawn Crable, Prescott Burgess, Terrance Taylor, and so on and so forth, and promptly went on an all-crushing tear until Ohio State and USC realized that Morgan Trent was Michigan's second-best corner and linebacker Chris Graham was their third-best. English seemed like a frickin' genius… and then promptly went out the next year and got nuked in The Horror and the Post-Apocalyptic Oregon game.
It's evident now that English is not a frickin' genius, but getting back a huge number of excellent players disguised that. Jim Herrmann probably would have had a lights-out year, too.
This is what Hypothetical New Coach is going to walk into in 2011: 20 returning starters (including specialists). Everyone except Steve Schilling, Obi Ezeh, Jonas Mouton, and Troy Woolfolk will be back. If there is a hypothetical new coach, Michigan will probably have had six or fewer wins in 2010. Bouncing up to 9-3 or whatever is going to be child's play, and Hypothetical New Coach will get carried around on a palanquin.
I'd much, much rather Rodriguez stick around because the last thing the program needs is another bowlless season, round of transfers and decommitments, and general inefficiency where square parts meet round holes. Obviously. But the roster agony Michigan suffered through the past two years (Nick Sheridan! Four scholarship defensive backs!) is not coming back in anything approximating that level of pain.
And now some Terry Foster pile-on:
wondering if you had heard this rumor that i just read on terry fosters facebook page:
Terry Foster I heard a rumor Michigan coach John Beilein was looking to leave for Rutgers or North Carolina State. The Michigan mafia swears it is not true. He still has their support.
i wanted to ask you first about this before i even thought about posting it on the site. but i wanted to put it on there before 2pm when his radio show starts and he leads off with it.
one more question, how the hell is this "michigan mafia"??? foster always references them when he talks about michigan.
Everything you need to know about Terry Foster's totally awesome rumor skillz can be found in this old post. Key graph from 16-year-old (who is now 21!):
Jayborne23 posted on 8/23/2005 9:53:28 PM
HOLY S***, WAS I RIGHT?
Is Sheed for Chandler and Nocioni a real deal? Cause I sincerely made that s*** up. That hoopsworld article mentioned it. WHAT THE F***?