Site business. Two things:
- I am getting married this Saturday in a top-secret location far away from any images of Fielding Yost. I am taking Friday and Monday off; Tom and Tim will produce content as per usual. If you've got a diary you want front-paged this would be an opportune time to post it. Content from me will be light this week because a bunch of friends I don't get to see will be in town, etc.
- I'm warning you about this a month ahead of time: honeymoon is in late July for about ten days and I am probably not even going to take my computer.
Your understanding is appreciated.
I'm partial to the rally pickle myself.
Mascot business. I took a rage day so that I wouldn't say anything regrettable in the aftermath of the mascot trial balloon, leaving the rest of the world to offer Dave Brandon a raspberry and Brandon to quickly clarify that while he is all seeing and all knowing he is very very wily and no mascot is pending. Even while doing so he leaves himself an out, saying it "may never happen."
Q: In retrospect do you believe that Brandon announcing the OSU game would be moving to midseason was really a super-clever way to get everyone outraged about it and therefore ensure it doesn't happen?
The M-Zone makes a compelling case that we should not. After that fan explosion we've had the uniform business and the mascot business and at about the same time we've had the night game business. (While I don't care that much about having a night game, it is a departure from tradition.) The evidence points towards Dave Brandon being so intent on "creating the future" that he has absolutely no grasp on what's important to the fanbase until everyone's freaking out about it.
Worse, he spends time belittling the kind of people who do really care. From the inbox:
Below response to my (very short and very respectful) email to Dave Brandon today asking him to reconsider a Michigan mascot. I actually responded to this, against my better judgment, and said that if there's a man in a furry wolverine costume on the sideline than it'll wind up being more life-changing for him than for me.
Please don’t be too concerned over this life-changing topic!
All will be OK…
Have a great weekend!
I'm not sure how this happened since Dave Brandon was actually on the team under Bo, but the current athletic director appears to have no more connection to Michigan's traditions than—wait for it—Rich Rodriguez.
I really care about what goes on inside Michigan Stadium; Brandon thinks this makes me a sap.
At least he's not alone.
Convenient timing. Meanwhile, one of the main counter-arguments against Old Testament kind of guys who like their coffee black, parole denied, and Michigan Stadium old-timey is that if we don't get that cheddar Michigan will be left in the dust by its rivals.
Presenting Michigan's 2012 budget:
For the proposed FY 2012 Operating Budget (described in detail on the following pages), we project an operating surplus of $11.4 million based on operating revenues of $121.2 million and operating expenses of $109.8 million. The budgeted operating surplus will be will be used to fund our ongoing capital needs and facility renewal projects.
Bill Martin's great accomplishment was killing the immediate cheddar issue dead without compromising the brand that packs the largest stadium in the country. Further squeezing starts to impact the uniqueness of the Michigan experience and erodes the reasons people shell out as much as they do.
Unfair and true and BERGKAMP. Here is Denard Robinson's 87-yard touchdown against Notre Dame last year, first narrated by Tom Hammond, then your inner monologue:
It's not fair comparing Tom Hammond to whoever the BERGKAMP guy is, but he does have a point. Maybe Americans get more confused about whether sports is serious business worthy of objectivity or not.
For a counterpoint EDSBS immediately goes to Sean McDonough, who's the first guy I thought of, too:
Q: Franklin is retired and Nessler is now on the NFL network, so is McDonough now the undisputed #1 college football announcer? I can't think of anyone I'd rather have doing a Michigan game.
Welcome to the field. The O-Zone reports on the latest edition of the Big 33 PA-OH All-Star game, in which Ohio annihilated Pennsylvania. Featured amongst the players of interest is WLB signee Antonio Poole:
Antonio Poole, LB Cincinnati Winton Woods 6'0” 195 (Michigan)
I think Poole may have been the most impressive defensive player on the field. He's only listed at 6'0” 195 pounds, but he sticks ball-carriers right between the numbers and they stay stuck. When he's in pursuit, he looks much bigger than he is. He certainly hits much bigger than he is. He may not be big enough to play linebacker in the Big Ten right now, but the Wolverines may not be able to wait.
That's true—WLB is currently Mike Jones and maybe Brandin Hawthorne.
Goalie zen part XVI. Red Line Report is down on this year's crop of goalies but they do have a solid #1. Prepare for the same scouting report you've heard several times before:
The clear-cut No. 1 guy is John Gibson, who combines excellent size and a calm demeanor in the most important games. He plays economically and is strong in the butterfly, using his long legs to take away the bottom half of the net. Gibson is a big netminder who plays big, challenging well and not leaving much space for shooters to look at. He's also calm and patient and allows the play to come to him. We like his mental strength and focus in clutch situations.
They don't like the other Gibson, so John is the only goalie they give a first round grade.
Etc.: Penn State blog Linebacker U interviews Tom for his perspective on Michigan and Penn State recruiting.
kitten does not like
David Brandon was on WTKA discussing the new(!) varsity lacrosse programs, which you know all about, when he was asked about your favorite newspaper's purported stripey Michigan night game uniform thing:
Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon was asked during an interview on WTKA-AM (1050) this morning if that was an accurate representation of U-M's uniform.
"No," Brandon said.
Brandon said Michigan's uniform would combine "elements of a couple different eras," but emphasized that the final product has not been revealed.
Before you point and laugh at the Free Press, a good source indicates the mockups everyone's gnashing their teeth about are "one of many possibilities," one that ended up "in the top two or three." The final result is not going to be like the "1960s look" Brian Kelly said Michigan was going to bust out in his press conference. That was never on the table because, as mentioned, the uniforms of the 1960s are hardly different than today's. The end result is going to be spiritually similar to the above: a throwback that attempts to go way, way back—source says "foot-ball yore"—and in doing so discards any pretense of historical accuracy.
This or something like it got so far down the pipe that the biggest holdup is the lack of a number on the front. Brian Kelly hates that because it makes it harder to track the opposition's substitutions. (As the kind of person who obsessively tracks his own team's substitutions and gets irritated at teams who don't put names on their jerseys*, I get that.) Michigan is hoping they can get away with a small number like a C or A on a hockey jersey above the block M or that numbers on the helmets will suffice.
So while it's possible the giant raspberry emitted by the public sees Michigan change direction on this specific design, the end result here is going to be an ungainly Frankenstein that no Michigan player has ever worn before. As Eleven Warriors' Ramzy said: "here, have some of our Pro Combat nightmare juice." The only thing that can rescue it is if all the players have Fielding Yost-level lip brooms by kickoff.
But… hey, new scoreboards, right?
*[Penn State excepted for reasons of tradition.]
Slick. You have to give Dave Brandon this: when he says he's going to "create the future," he's not kidding. The future is very, very corporate, which means that while we have to deal with retro-futuristic horror gimmicks we also get a Crisler Arena that isn't a dank cave:
That's the key artist's rendering from the just-approved $52 million renovation of Crisler: a concourse that looks… like… nice. There's a bunch of other stills you can check out at UMHoops; the overall result should be an arena on par with the rest of the Big Ten. The program is already headed that way without recruits being able to talk into the swanky new digs.
While hiring Brady Hoke seemed questionable, it was nowhere near the level of bumbling required to give Brian Ellerbe the job or let the department fall into a situation where compliance reports simply weren't being generated. Hopefully that's part of the past even if Brandon continually refers to the Michigan athletic department as "I".
Reverse lockout. I was trying to will Darius Morris back to campus next year and therefore thought his decision to go this year wasn't a good one. In retrospect that's obviously wrong. Morris's strong pre-draft workouts have him solidly in the first round and even if that wasn't the case now was the time to strike with a lottery-scaring lockout keeping a half-dozen kids obviously in front of him in school:
Even though many felt another year at Michigan would improve his stock, Morris took the leap when players such North Carolina forward Harrison Barnes and Ohio State forward/center Jared Sullinger decided to stay in school.
That upped Morris' stock.
"That definitely played a part in my decision," Morris said.
Morris could get a lot better and not see his stock increase in a post-lockout draft featuring 1.5 years of lottery picks.
Of course, Morris could be having strong pre-draft workouts and still have the option to come back if the NCAA hadn't done away with that to make coaches feel better, or something. If Morris's strong pre-draft workouts were in fact crappy pre-draft workouts that locked him into the second round, boy would we be shaking our fists at the sky even harder now.
Also. Not that anyone who needs to be told this is amongst the people who can be reasoned with, but:
Once Morris declared, though, he experienced some backlash from fans who felt Michigan was primed to take a huge leap in 2011-12. But, he felt he was prepared for the criticism. He saw it happen with former teammate Manny Harris, who left last year after his junior season.
"It didn't get to me, I experienced it all my life," Morris said. "You do think about it, when your biggest fans instantly turn on you. It comes with the territory with the Michigan fan base."
That's probably not the best reputation for the school to acquire. I'm talking to you, 14-year-olds on twitter.
1889! Doctor Saturday was wandering along the Bentley's pages looking for anything that could conceivably be a precedent for Michigan's throwback-type uniforms when he discovered the raw sex that is Michigan 1889:
The dude in the middle claims to be a Ben Boutwell but is obviously time-travelling Devandra Barnhart. Also the guy on the bottom right is supposedly named "Horace Prettyman," which come on.
Nine games. BHGP has an excellent post on the pros and cons of the move to a nine-game conference schedule. One objection:
It still wouldn't eliminate the bodybag games. For all the lip service that's been paid to the notion that adding a ninth conference game would eliminate the games against the likes of Bumblefuck Tech that everyone hates -- no one has yet been able to offer up any clear examples of just how they would make the new system work. They want nine conference games AND seven home games (which is a non-negotiable point, according to multiple sources) AND they want to reduce the number of cupcake opponents that (most) teams play from two to one.
One man's objection to that objection via The Sporting News:
Ladies and gentlemen, we give you the Big Ten’s best attempt yet at following the SEC: Of 48 possible nonconference games, the Big Ten has 14 games against BCS schools — only five of which are road games (10 total road games among the 48). And we’re not done yet.
Most teams play three bodybag games right now. The Big Ten averages of just over one BCS opponent per team. Are those going to go away if a nonconference game is removed? Maybe somewhat but probably not much. Several of the games are perennials, anyone aiming for a national title is going to have to have a reasonable nonconference opponent just for the look of things, and these days the financial advantages of body-bag games and lower-tier bowls are nonexistent for teams on the bottom of the totem pole. The overall number of games worth caring about will increase. Maybe not on a 1:1 ratio, but significantly.
Machiavellian. Jim Delany sort of offhandedly mentioned he'd like to give football and basketball players—maybe even more than that—scholarships that cover the full "cost of attendance," which apparently they don't at the moment. Eyebrow Mount Doom speaks:
"Forty years ago, you had a scholarship plus $15 a month laundry money," Delany said. "Today, you have the same scholarship, but not with the $15 laundry money.
"How do we get back more toward the collegiate model and a regulatory system that is based more on student-athlete welfare than it is on a level playing field, where everything is about a cost issue and whether or not everybody can afford to do everything everybody else can do?" Delany asked.
That's estimated to be another 2-5k per year per scholarship, which you can ballpark around 300k. That's chump change for big schools and a big problem for smaller ones. The usual hue and cry about a "level playing field" has been anticipated and argued with even though no one takes it seriously. (Right? I mean, find me a recruit who picked Conference USA over the SEC or the MAC over the Big Ten*.) This would no more upset the balance of power than having teams that pack 100k fans into a stadium play South Alabama.
Meanwhile, at big schools that's money that's going to coaches right now instead of guys putting their future health at risk (at least to some extent). They should totally do it, not because it's good for power conferences—it's exactly the same for power conferences—but because it's Justice(!).
*[Yes, I know some guys ended up at UCF or something. When the percentage of guys who end up at smaller conferences with legit options at a BCS conferences creeps over 1% then you can badger me. Imaginary pedant is so into pedantry.]
This is fun when it's not happening to you. Yes, it is.
Etc.: Mets Maize asks "is that my boner or yours?" about Brady Hoke's recruiting spree. Zach Hyman says he wants to stay four years, which everyone says. He was headed to Princeton, though, so maybe take that a bit more seriously than you would otherwise.
Mott stuff. Get thee to WTKA Friday for an opportunity to participate in their "radio-a-thon" in support of Mott Children's Hospital, where you can Donate For Stuff. This stuff:
Donations are accepted at any level but fans will receive giveaways for donating at the following levels:
$20 donation: a Fathead Teammate Block M (roughly 12”x7”)
$50 donation: a limited-edition Charles Woodson t-shirt made exclusively for this event
$120 donation: a Fathead Junior Big House Mural (17”x30”) autographed by Charles Woodson
$250 donation: four passes to a pre-season scrimmage
$500 donation: two pre-game sideline passes (does not include game tickets) to ONE of the following four games: Western Michigan, Eastern Michigan, San Diego State or Minnesota.
If you are a strange, obsessive person—and you are reading this site so you probably are—you might actually find the $250 donation to be value for money on top of the heart-warming altruism. I went to the pre-season scrimmage last year; it was at least as interesting as an actual game against EMU and depending on where you sit it's actually cheaper. Last year featured the quarterback battle; this year will feature an early opportunity to reassure yourself the spring game didn't mean anything about Denard's role in the new offense. You can donate online at WTKA.com.
Over the weekend a bunch of players will return for a swank gala dinner and a golf outing, too, but the press release doesn't have any information about how to crash that. Best bet: show up at the golf course and say you're Alijah Bradley by way of explaining why you're not huge. AnnArbor.com does have details on the big baller packages they're putting up at the gala dinner, but they'll just make you sad you're not rich, unless you are.
That car totally wasn't zero dollars. Thaddeus Gibson did not get a year-old 300M for zero dollars:
BMV records show that former linebacker Thaddeus Gibson paid $13,700 for a 2007 Chrysler 300C that he bought from former Jack Maxton salesman Aaron Kniffin in June 2007.
Why the Dispatch couldn't figure this out before they ran their story is unknown but definitely the internet's fault.
Unfortunately for Ohio State, if you've been on a Michigan internet this morning you've run across three different people running Kelly Blue Book values for a 300M and coming out with a number about ten grand more than the 14k Gibson paid four years after the fact. At the time of purchase the discount relative to KBB value was probably closer to 20k. Again, this Kniffin dude has a choice between declaring the number correct—hello extra benefit—and declaring it incorrect—hello tax evasion. Hopefully we'll get to see whether the inevitable claim about a trade-in is on the up-and-up. If they were 1) giving players sweetheart deals and 2) not idiots, taking rusted out junkers as trade-ins worth 20k would provide some additional level of deniability.
Meanwhile, Chris Spielman is bracing for more:
“I’d be surprised if he’s coaching next year (2011). Why I say that is I think there is more stuff coming out,” the Ohio State legend said.
Spielman also said a bunch of other things, some very touching about his deceased wife, but everyone's focusing on that bit. I wonder if Charles Robinson's "ten of ten" Yahoo is supposedly launching in August is a pile-on? Probably not. Keep it reasonable. This section brought to you by my internal monologue FERRETS
Even if he's a Buckeye, not loving Spielman is a sin. (Via Doctor Saturday.)
Camp: back? When Rodriguez arrived he substantially revamped Michigan's camp, focusing more on individual high-level prospects in a one-day setting instead of just rounding up every football player in Michigan with a few bucks to spare. More than one emailer with connections to the local coaching community has cited that as one of the ways in which Rodriguez shoveled his own grave: while increased focus on college-level recruits may have helped land them individually the coaches who lost camp opportunities were pissed off, downward spiral, etc.
Hoke appears to be bringing back the whole shebang:
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- University of Michigan head football coach Brady Hoke and his coaching staff will host Wolverine Technique Schools this June for high school students (entering grades 9-12) and youth (grades 6-8).
The Wolverine Technique School for high school students will be held from June 19-23, while the youth camp will be held June 24-26 at the University of Michigan. It will mark the 37th year of the high school football camp and third youth camp.
Brady Hoke Gets It. Of course, now when you say Brady Hoke Gets It your withering sarcasm percentage is under 100% and dropping with every instate MAC recruit suddenly hearing from Michigan State.
From a fan's perspective this is probably good. While Rodriguez generally opened up the program the shift in camp philosophy meant there were a lot fewer high school coaches wandering around watching various Michigan recruits and relating impressions back to the peanut gallery. Useful information from camp dropped off considerably the last three years.
I'm not sure how much it will matter this year since it looks like Michigan is going to be well on its way to filling its class a month from now. Normally a few sleepers emerge and get offered, but if Michigan is sitting on 15 commits in June they might start swinging for the fences instead. It'll probably be more meaningful for the class of 2013—presumably Shane Morris will be on hand to make an impression on every junior in the state.
He matured into more of a guard role during his sophomore season and was labeled a “point-forward” because he brought the ball up the floor on most possessions. Definitely an unorthodox type of player with his long loopy dribbles and slow pump fakes but he gets the job the done and finds different ways to score. He has good range but is a better asset when he’s driving to the basket.
More at the link. Dylan also points out that adding Hancock would put him in the Morgan/McLimans/Horford/everybody class, swelling it to seven players. Without attrition that would see more than half the team graduate in 2014. It would also leave just one scholarship in the class of 2013 for Michigan to play with. So it's a bit more complicated than "here's this guy."
Random AD items. MGoShoe rounds up things Dave Brandon said at some sort of appearance associated with the AP. There's not a whole lot of actual new things but this is something to note:
Brandon believes it will be "several years" before the Big Ten goes to a nine-game conference schedule. He said several teams are booked through 2015-2016 and it would be "expensive and problematic" to unwind those schedules.
“I will sell more seats at Yost Arena knowing that we are going to tee it up against our big competitors in the Big Ten,” Brandon said. “We’ll still have a robust nonconference schedule … but at the end of the day, student-athletes that come to Michigan come to win Big Ten championships.”
He might sell a few more seats but it won't be many—Yost already drew capacity last year, and while anyone who's been to Michigan Stadium is familiar with the various tricks used to up attendance figures the additional sales might add up to a couple hundred seats. Also also, don't blame Rodriguez etc etc let's talk about something else.
Officially unofficial. Michigan moving its dominant club lacrosse program to varsity has been the worst kept secret on South Campus for going on a year now, but now the secret is even a little more poorly concealed. A portion of Tim's CCLA recap/MCLA preview:
First, when presenting Michigan Coach John Paul with the conference championship trophy, the announcer said something along the lines of: "probably for the last time ever, Michigan wins the CCLA Trophy." JP played it cool when accepting the trophy, but certainly wasn't in a hurry to deny anything. Following the game, the official @UMichLacrosse twitter account dropped the following:
"Michigan finishes FINAL MCLA regular season with a 103-2 all-time record in CCLA competition."
While it may seem (or ultimately be) inconsequential, it is the first public statement from any official, on-record source that something is definitely going to happen for next season.
Tim's side joint has more.
Site update. It took a little longer than we thought it would but we have restored commenting abilities for IE users. This serves as your regular reminder that you should switch to Chrome or Firefox. Also, users should be able to upload avatars again. Also I updated the "MGoElsewhere" menu a bit so it contains links to twitter feeds for both Tim and Tom.
The destruction of the innocents. Basketball beat Northwestern 75-66 yesterday as Jordan Morgan went ham (11 of 13, 27 points) against the Phantom of the Opera and John Shurna failed to exist. Shurna's been limited much of the season and apparently picked something new up recently. His last three games are a DNP against OSU and two games in which he played around 25 minutes but only attempted 5 field goals. Michigan may have gotten a little fortunate there.
I don't have a ton to say that UMHoops didn't cover in the link above but some praise is in order for Morris, Hardaway, and Douglass for setting up Morgan's monster night. Almost all of Morgan's baskets were assisted and even on the ones that weren't his teammates were setting him up in excellent position. Example: Douglass had an excellent post feed—in a year when any post feed is a rarity—that allowed Morgan to immediately spin baseline for a layup. Northwestern's D is terrible so this may stand as a career game for Morgan but it was good to see him be so efficient after that Ohio State game where going up soft cost Michigan badly. Morgan started the game off in similar fashion before becoming ruthless.
Meanwhile, at one point I exclaimed "shoot that!" when Hardaway passed up an open three. Progress all around. I wasn't even that mad about the terrifying Northwestern run because it was four straight three pointers, two of them challenged to the point where there could have been a foul.
Kenpom moved a bit afterwards. Not losing a game Michigan was only mildly favored in pushed the season prediction to almost exactly 17.5-13.5 and increased the chance of reaching 9-9 and therefore the bubble to 16%. Slightly beating the prediction moved Michigan up to 52nd, one spot behind Michigan State.
More fodder for next year's optimism. The Only Colors tracks an individual stat called PORPAG that sort of mimics baseball's VORP. (The usual caveats that basketball is a team game and you don't know about defense, etc., apply.) A quick glance at their top 15 shows Darius Morris sixth. That's excellent. More excellent still is that only four players in the top 15 are going to be around next year: UW's Jordan Taylor, Morris, Shurna, and IU's Jordan Hulls. The rest are seniors or Jared Sullinger. So not only is Michigan returning everyone but the rest of the Big Ten is getting hammered by graduation.
This is not a throwdown. So one part of the now confusingly diverse Maize 'n' Brew crew got sick of my repeated assertions that The Process was the worst way to acquire any new head coach, Brady Hoke or not. The result was this very long post that asserts Michigan's most recent recruiting class is "awesome" and makes other arguments that I don't even know what to do with. Since that post's been disputed by another of that site's contributors and effectively countered by a long message board thread here that's surprisingly light on snark and image macros. I'll forgo a response (other than, you know, this) because Mets Maize made it pointless:
One Small Step for Hoke, One Giant Leap for Hokeamania
There you go: the events of the last month delivered with maximum pith. Nothing has changed the fact Michigan had a candidate pool of one in their coaching search that started in January that they were probably going to start no matter the result of the bowl game.
Hopefully we'll start seeing some reason for optimism other than Mattison soon. Nothing in the intervening weeks qualifies, not even Jason Whitlock's endorsement.
Wasted effort. The Sporting News's Dave Curtis went to some trouble to find out that converting third downs is a good idea. It's gotten play a few places because it's February 10th and the long hard college football offseason has started. I don't like this because I am all mathy and stuff and this…
All five BCS bowl winners ranked among the nation’s top 13 teams in third-down differential. The differential statistic, not officially computed by the NCAA, takes a team’s third-down conversion rate on offense and subtracts its opponents’ third-down conversion rate.
…is not useful at all. "Drives are good," it says.
Worse, it places undue emphasis on third down itself when first and second down are equally, if not more, important. This has unfortunately succumbed to linkrot but back in the day I did an analysis of third downs by distance and frequency, coming to the unsurprising conclusion that short was good and great third down conversion rates are often more indicative of what you did before third down than anything else. Just looking at third down rates is goofy because first and second down contribute to the distance you have to go—you're really looking at "first and second and third down conversion rate," which is fine if you want to look at that. Just don't make it seem like third down is really really important when your number doesn't control for the effects of first and second.
Old news. I got distracted writing posts on the 4-3 and Tim Hardaway that ballooned into way longer thing than I thought they'd end up being, so some items fell through the cracks. You've seen these already if you read anything other than the front page here.
One: Wojo interviewing Brady Hoke. Amongst the increasingly familiar Passion For Michigan, Denard As NFL Vick, and Tremendous Toughness segments were a couple of things that are not familiar. One was Hoke saying he was "pissed off" at Michigan's factionalism the past three years, which is a refreshingly blunt way for a coach to say anything. The other was the admission that beer had a role in shaping Hoke's physique:
Q. Did you just drop a hint you were a bit wild back in your college days?
A. Uh, yeah, for two years I really didn't have the best goals in mind. I wanted to play football and try to drink every beer in Muncie, Ind. And I tell parents that on visits.
I'm trying to ignore the bit that follows wherein "funnest" gets deployed. Football coaches and grammar, man.
Hoke comes off as likeable, down to earth, etc. Even if you're of the opinion that ADs tweeting out old Jason Whitlock articles as evidence in favor of anything is awful, at least the guy he hired has a solidly positive rootability factor.
Q. How often do you chew a kid's tail?
A. Oh, usually daily.
Do yourself a massive favor by taking that out of context.
Two: De-emphasizing Denard, a little bit. This is almost a week old and has the freshness of Abe Vigoda but:
"To a degree … we're blowing a lot of it up," new Michigan offensive coordinator Al Borges said. "In our offense, I don't see Denard rushing for 1,700 yards, and I told him that. But I could see him rushing for 1,000 yards, and I could see him throwing for that 700 or 800 he didn't rush for."
Hives hives hives hives hives… mmm smaller, treatable hives. Borges later praises Denard's completion percentage as a couple other coaches make noises about a running game that looks "a little different" and emphasizes more "downhill" running. It then throws this in at the end:
Michigan was eighth nationally in total offense, averaging 488.69 yards, 13th in rushing (234.54), 25th in scoring (32.77) and 36th in passing (250.15).
…and returns ten starters. I'll come around on Al Borges after he's got a tall strapping fellow bombing it for 10 YPA but the chances I don't spend next year bitching about the misapplication of Denard Robinson are slim. I'm not even sure how you get him 1,000 yards if he's taking snaps from center. You can only run so many waggles and Incredibly Surprising QB Draws. As always, I hope to be pleasantly surprised. Hoke uber alles.
Etc.: Michigan picks up a 2013 hockey commit; JT Compher is a forward from Illinois who seems high-end, like first-round OHL pick and easy NTDP pick high-end. We'll see if that holds up as he ages. Mets Maize on the Northwestern game. More justified hockey grumbling. Spring game will be April 16th. Michigan football documentary series planned. The Wolverine Blog points out that the guys who "couldn't shoot ever" now can and that's probably another thing we can add to the list of reasons Darius Morris is awesome. Scot Loeffler becomes Temple's OC.
Is this inane or brilliant? Like all the best newspaper headlines, I can't tell if this News editor is serious or making a terribly sly joke:
New names add flair to Big Ten for next season
Flair you say?
The awful periwinkle logo does look like it belongs on a button that says "my other car is the incorrect belief I have a sense of humor."
Oddly, multiple readers have emailed to inform that the agency who put together this debacle is "highly respected." I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around a marketing firm named "Pentagram," which seems deliberately mom-terrifying and reminds me of Dan Akroyd in goat leggings and generally seems like a thing you should avoid if you don't want to give off the wrong impression.
Meanwhile, the public loves it:
According to an unscientific poll on ChicagoTribune.com, 6 percent believe Legends and Leaders "represent what the Big Ten is all about," and 94 percent say, "You have to be kidding … is this the best they can do?"
Similarly, 93 percent of those responding to a midwestsportsfans.com poll voted for either "terrible" or "it makes me want to gouge my eyes out with a spoon." Others opted for "awesome" (2 percent) or "indifferent" (5 percent).
94%! You can't get 94% of people to condemn murdering six year olds these days. In two weeks all FAIL pictures on the internet will have been mysteriously replaced by images of Jim Delany.
The count. They announced 113,411 at the Big Chill by adding up every single person who was there and counting Red Berenson as six because obviously, but when Guinness sits down to actually put a number in the book it will be considerably smaller than that because they take a more restrictive view on what counts as a spectator:
The school counts players, media and others at the game to work. Guinness doesn’t count any of those people.
"It's a combination of scans with the barcodes on tickets," Janela said, explaining how Guinness reaches its number. "It's not for tickets sold but for people who actually show up. People who weren’t ticketed, marching band for instance, or people who were given special passes."
Media and players, he said, do not count in the numbers because they are not actually spectators of the game.
UPDATE: Wow. Guinness says the actual count was 85,451, which seems low.
Also from that article, a ref skated over to the Michigan bench after the Wohlberg extra-point celebration and said any more funny business would result in a penalty and Rick Comley said it was "uncalled for." The NFL infects all.
Speaking of. A reader emails that the XP is not lost to history:
I also broke a cardinal rule of game columns by not checking my feed before posting, so I missed an extensive WH highlight package:
Casteel Watch. Jeff Casteel remains the most plausible defensive coordinator candidate out there, having established a level of performance with the 3-3-5 that's become as impressive as Rodriguez's WVU offenses were. That level is "really impressive… for the Big East." Even with that BE caveat, WVU's defense is #1 in FEI this year and equally impressive in conventional metrics. The three years before this they were 33rd, 28th, and 8th. I'd be willing to roll with Rodriguez again if the band got back together.
Unfortunately, after two swings and misses the chances of that are miniscule unless Bill Stewart whittles on down that road. Fortunately, there are machinations afoot in Morgantown, with Oklahoma State OC Dana Holgorsen heavily rumored to be taking the job after Stewart coaches the bowl game*. Though a Smoking Musket rumor that Stewart was out was refuted on the twitters by multiple players, actual newspapers are saying that may be a matter of timing:
Sources confirmed today that a high-ranking official from West Virginia's athletic department has been in contact with Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen about the head coaching position at West Virginia, even as there is no vacancy. …
A source confirmed it is probable Stewart will be fired if West Virginia does not win that bowl game, and could happen regardless of the outcome. A win in the bowl game would give the Mountaineers a 10-win season.
It's possible Holgorsen would look at the defensive side of the ball and decide that he shouldn't fix what isn't broken but the chances of landing Casteel go from zero to non-zero if Stewart gets the boot. Let's hope NC State wins 3-0.
UDPATE: Newspaper type folk are reporting that Holgorsen is in as OC/coach in waiting and will replace Stewart after next year without touching the defensive coaching staff. Dangit.
*(Is it just me or are there an inordinate number of coaches in limbo this year? Usually it's fire and forget immediately after the regular season, but this year the coaching carousel has a number of schools half in, half out.)
Darius as mini-Denard part two. Way back on Friday Michigan dismantled Utah in an 11-point game that wasn't really as close as that, and people are beginning to pick up on Darius Morris's leap forward. Someone was asking about surprise teams on the most recent Big Ten conference call and both Tom Crean and Matt Painter cited Michigan, with Painter specficially mentioning Morris as the reason. Big Ten Geeks:
Darius Morris led the way with 19 points to go with 10 assists, and it’s hard to ignore his play so far this season. A role player last year, Morris has become much more assertive in running the offense. This is actually somewhat of an exception--role players don’t suddenly start consuming possessions over an offseason in general--but one should keep in mind that with Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims monopolizing the offense last season, there wasn’t much of an opportunity for Morris. It’s been a different story in his sophomore season, as Morris is quickly becoming one of the Big Ten’s best floor generals. He’s shooting an amazing (for a 6-4 guard) 61 percent from 2-point range, along with one of the best assist rates in the country.
At times in the Utah game the problem with the offense seemed to be Morris's lack of assertiveness—most of Michigan's worst possessions saw him with limited time on the ball.
If Morris is shooting 61% from two he's probably not shooting enough, which is an interesting problem to have. Last year Manny Harris was sucking up 30% of Michigan's possessions while shooting 48% inside the three-point line. The rest of the team shot at a higher clip, and while that was because Harris drew so much attention I often felt like the team would have been better if the shots were more evenly distributed.
This year Morris is killing people; the rest of the team is doing well but can't keep up. Major SOS caveats apply, but I think I'd like to see Morris try to get a few more shots off per game. A complicating factor is Morris's assist rate, which is fifth nationally—a major reason he's not getting off more shots is he's turning Jordan Morgan into a 61% shooter, too.
Speaking of Morgan, he bounced back from a couple of rough outings with solid, annoying post defense against Utah's bigs, who are very big indeed. UMHoops grabbed a sequence in which he took a couple offensive fouls:
I wish they'd also clipped the possession before that, in which Morgan went to war with Foster for the duration of the possession and eventually got an elbow to the head for his troubles. The ref let that go but was looking for any funny stuff on the next trip and got it when a pissed-off Foster barged into him. Foster's not any good offensively—his usage rate is an amazing 8.9%—but he also did a good job on Washburn, and this year I think all we're looking for out of Morgan is holding his own against the mediocre and beating the bad.
Morgan drew a third charge with help defense later, but since he was 1) moving and 2) directly underneath the basket in the pretend no-charge circle the NCAA instituted last year that was positive reinforcement of a negative play Michigan got lucky on.
OH SO TINGLY. I may not be a fan of Michigan Stadium hosting dancing curly fries but some of the things Dave Brandon is plotting are major compensations:
Q: You also have talked about new scoreboards for Michigan Stadium. Your vision is not Cowboys Stadium huge, but pretty huge?
A: Pretty huge. If you picture the size of those (current) scoreboards and maybe something that's 30 percent larger, 40 percent larger, but then the entire surface or at least the vast majority of the surface would be video screen. I think those scoreboards look wimpy now with this structure and then the fact the HD video portion is only about a third of the surface. We can't do what our fans want us to do in terms of showing them really high-resolution replays, game action and even a lot of the marketing stuff we're doing with videos and pre-game and halftime shows — these screens are just not acceptable. This is very old technology, and they don't look very good, either. Think 30 or 40 percent larger and think big-image area for high-definition resolution screens. I think our fans will love it.
If you have never been to a stadium with video boards that size, it's a massive difference. It is Brandon's "hope" they are in for 2011. Brandon also re-iterates that advertising for the Big Chill does not presage advertising during football games. That's part of an extensive interview with Angelique Chengelis, BTW, that you should check out.
Time to go. The Only Colors takes an unprecedented step for them and calls for the replacement of Rick Comley as Michigan State's head coach. Despite how much I've been enjoying this stretch in MSU hockey, I'm with them. This is the third straight year they'll miss the tourney and the second time in three years they're virtually indistinguishable from Bowling Green, a school that's considering dropping their program. This year is like Rich Rodriguez having another 3-9 year two years after his first, and while Comley does have a fluke national title that sort of thing shouldn't be survivable at a program like MSU.
Etc.: Doc Sat points out how weird it is that awards lists are featuring Denard Robinson as something other than a quarterback when they were fine with Eric Crouch, et al, as QBs. Robinson completed 60% of his passes… what more do you need? Basketball takes on North Carolina Central at 7 this evening.