"Rodrick Williams Jr.'s 10-month old, 2-foot-long savannah monitor named "Kill" gets the RB some strange looks when they go for walks together."
WCWS Update: The SEC walked into the WCWS in full ESS-EEE-SEE mode. You saw the 6th seed Bama last night; there's an entire bracket of SEC teams (#1 Florida, #5 LSU, #4 Auburn, and #8 Tennessee) opposite us. Last year Bama lost to Florida in the national championship series, and Florida is a favorite to repeat. In a sport dominated by pitching the Gators have the best, Lauren Haeger, who just narrowly defeated Michigan's Sierra Romero for the college softball version of the Heisman.
The rest of Michigan's side of the bracket is UCLA, which owns a third of the national championships ever, not including the 1995 one that the NCAA vacated, demonstrating a dedication to the sport most D-I teams athletic departments can't afford for football.
This is the dispersal (bigger dot = more national championships) of softball titles since 1982:
Some of these things are only somewhat like the others; one is definitively not.
The last member of our bracket is fully owned Nike™ subsidiary the Oregon Nikes, who wear spacey backpacks everywhere they go so Nike™ can convince a demographic of schoolgirls who wear stupid-looking athletic gear to school to get Nike™ backpacks. The Oregon Nikes also have a great pitcher who finished third in the PoY running.
A distant third. Really the competition was between the senior pitcher with 194 K's who held a league that hits .330 to .183, and our own Sierra Romero.
Romero. Yes I am making this whole column about softball this week. ROMERO! Here's what a hitter who challenges for the PoY in a pitching sport looks like: Romero hit .472 with 21 home runs, 80 RBI, 55 walks, and set the NCAA career grand slam record. She also had 20 steals on 24 attempts. She plays shortstop with a Jeter smoothness (or second base because Abby Ramirez is such a good infielder).
The thing about Michigan is Romero isn't the only star. Kelly Christner hit .407 this year and matched Romero for home runs. Sierra Lawrence had a .484 OBP from the leadoff spot, plus 14 dingers. Kelsey Susalla matched Sierra2's power numbers while hitting .379. Lauren Sweet, the catcher, hit .324 with 12 homers. Michigan too has great pitchers—sophomore Megan Betsa and senior Haylie Wagner are Ace 1 and Ace 2, with senior Sara Driesenga (.078 ERA) still around as a luxury, and the future, freshman Tera Blanco, waiting over at 1st base.
Theory: Jim Harbaugh has spent all of his free time since he graduated pretending to be a softball coach. Michigan softball isn't a monster program from the heart of baseball country, isn't a golem assembled from overcharging for shoes made by underpaid slaves, and certainly is not from the conference that believes Pat Forde columns about its greatness should fulfill writing requirements.
The thing it's best known for across the softball world is it has a pinata-smashing softball Harbaugh if Harbaugh was more successful coaching it. Betsa said she gets her mental toughness from competitions like who can balance heavy logs on their hands while doing workouts. Last night Hutch literally fell over while trying to put the breaks on Romero at 3rd base; Romero ran through it but scampered back safely to leave the bases loaded for Sweet to turn a 1-0 game into the 5-0 game.
Present 1999 1986
Harbuagh/Hutch through the years
It had a .461 on base percentage this year, and outscored its opponents by an average of 9 to 1.5. It made making pizza into a theme, complete with complicated hand gestures and fan signage. It won a map-contradicting national championship ten years ago, and dances more often than that one. It led the country with 171 homers this year, and sprinkled every one of them with cheese.
Etc. The South didn't like Michigan camping there—and couldn't do anything about it—in the mid-1860s either. SEC rules changes troll Tom Brady and Brady Hoke, plus Notre Dame's faces and Dantonio's favorite tackling strategy. What a blue shirt is. Terry Frei on the Rob Lytle book. Michigan Stadium Movie Night opted for Disney fantasy flick (Remember the Titans) over a documentary on Scandinavian economics (Frozen).
Last Push. We have the weekend and then HTTV's kickstarter closes. If you just want a book this is fastest and least expensive route (not counting going to an MGoEvent or tracking me down when there's a box in my car). If you want the Fingerguns shirt…
…this is your opportunity. If you want your annual purchase of HTTV stuff to go to a good cause, get in on the kickstarter, because a dollar of book orders and $5 of your t-shirt orders go to Vincent Smith's #EATING charity, which will be starting an urban garden in Flint. Pass along to friends, family, family friends, and anyone you have knowingly shared a "Harbaugh? Harbaugh." with this past year.
A lineman reviews Jake Rudock. Spath came up with a really cool idea for analysis videos: watch some Rudock film with a former player. The player he dug up was Doug Skene. The game was Iowa-Wisconsin. I plan to draw up a couple of them—would like an end analysis. One thing that stood out is he uncharacteristically went deep a lot—against Sojourn Shelton(!) #KirkFerentzTrollsIowaFans
This should be a video. Wolverine Devotee found all the Michigan punt and kick returns since 1948; unfortunately he put them in a chart instead of going down to Bentley, pouring through reels of film, and creating a Youtube of them. We'll just have to watch this one again:
Raindrops on roses and Katzenmoyer missin's. Dez in the pose and that punter needs mittens. 46 falling and sadface Germaine; that's why I watch this again and again.
Is it really that weird that Michigan hasn't had a kick or punt return touchdown in years? No.
Give Norfleet back two of three TDs he's had called back by insano refs calling ticky tack things that had no bearing on those plays and this is like any other era. The rich times were the early '90s, when Dwyane Ware blocked two within weeks, and Derrick Alexander co-existed with the guy who literally won a Heisman for being so good at returns. With return TDs such a rarity across history, two in a season is good, and more than three would be a record. Add the spread punt, which turned half of would-be punt return attempts into fair catches, and I'd bet you a lot of teams are on similar droughts.
WD also did a turf/grass/field turf study if you're nerdy enough to care about that. The only part that really interested me was dates for the different types of surfaces at the Big House:
|Tartan Turf (artificial turf)||1969-1981||73-8-3 (.887)|
|All-Pro Turf (artificial turf)||1982-1990||46-10-0 (.821)|
|Prescription Athletic Turf (grass)||1991-2002||63-12-1 (.836)|
|FieldTurf (artificial turf)||2003-2009||36-14 (.720)|
|Duraspine (artificial turf)||2010-present||27-8 (.771)|
Etc. All you need to know to start paying attention to lacrosse. Jake Butt as James Bond wallpaper. There's only one player (and neither coach) left from the hybrid RR/Hoke Class of 2011. Ugliest Michigan gear. Couldn't get tickets for softball? Go see AFC Ann Arbor in their first-ever league game.
Your Moment of Zen:
Coaches on the road recruiting equals Northwest Airlines video:
Michigan State recruits China.
Stuffing the Passer, accidentally ironic for once.
You SERIOUSLY cannot be telling me we have to entrust our lives to--- So Everett Golson is leaving Notre Dame, and Harbaugh is all take ALL THE QUARTERBACKS so this is now a thing. I doubt it happens now that Rudock is committed—why walk into anything like the same situation he's walking out of?
But do we even have to have the "would you take him?" conversation? The cost to Michigan is zero (the cost to one walk-on is one year of college), and the upside is perhaps a redshirt on Morris and one more bullet in the chamber at the most important position. Worst case scenario is still the current scenario, except with 100% more Sockface.
"All the World's a Stage. Except that Couch. That Couch is not a Proper Stage. Do not perform on that couch!" –Shakespeare, full quote.
In 2011 a Theater student named A.J. Holmes arranged a choral performance of the Victors and the chants everybody knows, and last weekend the Theater students performed it for their parents at a graduation party. This got recorded on someone's dad's phone, posted on Facebook, and was instantly adored by everyone except the UM Theater Dept version of Dave Brandon (Orr is the dad):
Orr said the post was taken down at the request of the Chair of the Musical Theatre Department, Brent Wagner.
"The chair of our department is interested in preserving the department and he just wanted to make sure that whenever it's performed it's done so in a professional manner and we completely respect that," Orr said.
Despite such ruinous production value, over half a million people shared it, generating more positive comments about the department in a day than 100,000 performances of Equus ever got them. To his credit, in face of righteous blowback, Wagner relented and let the dad re-post it. I suggest you watch the hell out of this:
Listen to this! What happens when 22 talented UMich musical theatre grads sing their version of the University of Michigan fight song at their graduation party. An amazing arrangement by Michigan MT alum A.J. Holmes (who we just saw starring as Cunningham in the Book of Mormon Broadway National Tour). Awesome!
Posted by Scott Orr on Sunday, May 3, 2015
Marvel at the talent of those singers. Also marvel at Scott Orr, who not only just paid for four years of Theater education at the University of Michigan, but can also use a camera phone, and manipulate the privacy settings of Facebook. I hereby award Scott Orr the inaugural Jim Harbaugh Heroic Dad of the Year Trophy.
[After the jump: what % of Michigan's 3-/4-/5-stars were NFL draftees]
Our resident young obsessive WD found a list of all of Michigan's night games, dating back to—wait, 1944? That's right—in 2010 Greg Dooley of MVictors and Greg Kinney, one of the unsung heroes of HTTV (he finds us all those amazing old photos), pulled out details on one of the most unremarked remarkable events in American history.
It's remarkable for the context. This is World War II, remember. The invasion of Europe was stalled while waiting to see if Market Garden could get them into Germany via Holland, and otherwise the lines were about where they'd been entrenched in WWI. On September 6, with decreasing threat of invasion, the United States lifted the blackout rules, to a dim-out. Certainly any meaning of "dim" did not include shining stadium lights on a facility in a coastal city (Milwaukee) with 20,000 live targets in it. Regardless, Marquette apparently played several night games that year and throughout the war—I'd be interested if any historians know why this was cool when so much else in college football was subsided for the war (e.g. 1944 Michigan had to give up its spinning fullback—the QB of the unbalanced single wing—before the Ohio State game because he was called to duty).
The Michigan game being one of them was even weirder, and had to do with Michigan participating in a navy officer cadet program called V-12, and siphoning off V-12s, who couldn't leave the base for more than 48 hours, as football recruits. The time crunch meant an afternoon or night game, so they went night. They also used a highlighter yellow football (you can see it in the photos) that didn't work out so well: one ensuing newspaper article is the first known use of the term "fumbilitis."
BACK TO THE CORNER
Vincent Smith got so sick of MGoBloggers at the last event at Corner Brewery he decided to do it again at the end of the month:
WE WENT TO THE FINALS; WHERE'S THE RECRUITS?
This could be moot in a week (signs are good but when Kentucky's involved I halve all hope) but it does seem Michigan ought to be feeling the effects now of the championship run in the 2014-2016 classes. Walton, Irvin and Chatman were all pretty heralded recruits but their recruitments happened primarily when Zak and Stu were playing, and Michigan was making decisions on whom to pursue for 2015 before the having subs was crazy.
|Things were going great until Kentucky whiffed on their top guys and Calipari started fishing in our waters with bait we won't touch because of rules based in 19th century class ideals.|
Michigan appeared to be in pole position for Devin Booker, Luke Kennard, James Blackmon, and Keita Bates-Diop at various points in those recruitments. In most of those cases, we lost out to a program that could promise as much in the tournament run department and not living like a pauper in the interim.
It sucks that none of those guys were Mitch McGary but McGary is a rare bird. Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, etc. can offer the same or better shot at a national championship, and don't have Michigan's squeamishness about paying them. Remember when Beilein was initially targeting those guys they were 100-250 dudes he saw more than that in.
Once you've blown up into a one-and-done, or at least the one-and-done schools are offering you the one-and-done package, the prestige of your degree matters way less than the degree to which your school is willing to accept the fact that you're there to try out for an NBA contract, and act accordingly. Blame the NBA's rule—created to prevent their teams from investing in busts before they've played against higher competition—for turning an age-old hypocrisy into a blatant thing.
It's not a sure thing—did you think we'd be here with Brown?—and once you're past the NBA locks Michigan can play ball. The difference between a top ten pick and, say, Caleb Swanigan, is an important one for the relatively clean programs. MSU got a top-20 post player because Tom Izzo has a long record of developing post players, and if you're starting at #20 your coaching is the difference between 1st or 2nd round grade in one or two (or four) years. If you watched that saga, you saw Purdue start in good shape and get strung along as the cute local school by the end. Beilein looks pretty good for any NBA wing or point guard—we'll never be Kentucky but we're probably not losing guys to Purdue, and that's something.
Etc. Update on 2015 non-conf opponents' springs. VT's secret to beating Ohio State' with 46 Bear concepts is cool, but outdated; Alabama tried that and got Vince Lombardi'd in the face. Worst damn band in the land. If you wanna meet the MGoDog he'll be at softball this weekend.
Your Moment of Zen:
How you like me now?
Ten nanoseconds after Saban and Swinney cried that high schoolers might get exposed to football programs that actually care what happens to their kids after it, Emmert moved to quickly fix the loophole that allows a football coach from Michigan to ply his trade across state lines.
Harbaugh is already one step ahead:
— Coach Harbaugh (@CoachJim4UM) April 24, 2015
World: Wait, you can't create a national college football trade fair at your school.
Harbaugh: Just did.
Jim Harbaugh is legend.
FOR WANT OF GLENDENING
Luke Glendening blocked a shot into the neutral zone to seal his own spin-o-rama shorthanded goal as a game-winner to steal Game 1. Red_Lee was so inspired that he created this:
Last night Glendening's Red Wings were cruising to a 2-0 victory (that should have been 4-0 given the play) and a 3-1 series lead when Luke ill-advisedly decided to check a guy near enough to the boards to trip the sensitivities of hockey players towards that sort of thing. While everyone else scrummed about them some Lightning players were able to mess up Luke's hand (Aside: amputating a guy's hand when you're trying to recruit him is some seriously Urban Meyer sh--, Darth).
Without Glendening shadowing one of the top-scoring lines in the country, that line put up two quick goals and a third in overtime. Detroit didn't backcheck properly, and just looked, I don't know, unfocused. The parallels to Star Wars are there, but the parallels to Michigan since Luke graduated are eerie.
IF YOU'VE NEVER HEARD OF MERCYHURST YOU'RE NOT A FAN (OR YOU'RE NORMAL)
Via Spath, Michigan's been having a hard time getting sexy programs to come to Yost unless they're small schools with Utah football-quality hockey programs. Of these, next year's schedule will host Mercyhurst, Robert Morris and Niagara. I bet you two petty Notre Dame administrators that the Domers were one of the "of note"s here:
Michigan wants to schedule top-tier programs but they couldn't get anyone to come to Ann Arbor this year. Everyone of note wanted U-M to come to their venue. And Michigan couldn't do that or it would have ended up with two non-conference home games. They agreed to Union and BU so that they could get those two teams in 2016-17 at home but then they HAD to have home games, and so some of these teams were more willing.
The sooner somebody puts this intra-state round robin thing together the better.
WORDS HAVE MEANINGS
It's offseason alright, evidenced by the feely threads (and one diary) popping up to define words that already mean specific things. To wit:
- A fan is someone who roots for that team. To date there is only one remotely worthwhile adjective that's ever been applied to "fan" to distinguish levels of fanhood: "Loud."
- An alumnus is someone who attended that school; graduation is not required.
- A graduate is someone who graduated from that school.
Last word for today: if you are a graduate or alum who thinks this distinction makes you more of fan, you are an "asshole."
WIFI NAMES ARE 21ST CENTURY NEIGHBORLINESS
Good ideas for Michigan-themed WiFi names? thread is how I learned about the Linden Street Flamingo Heist of 2011:
Shout out to the guy with "HARBAUGH" in a Columbus complex.
Etc. The Royals are the new Sparties of Major League Baseball.
Your Moment of Zen:
MORE THAN 8 YEARS IN THE NFL IS A LONG TIME
Boom: chart! by LSA on how long an NFL draftee is expected to last.
The blip is explainable by what's been going on with NFL rookie contracts. The maximum contract for a rookie used to be seven years (hence the peak), but since 2011 every rookie contract has been four years with a team option for a fifth on 1st rounders.
|Click for big|
That CBA made rookie contracts way less complicated and appreciably more team-friendly. An unintended side effect of this has been teams trying to rid themselves of those pre-2011 agreements while holding onto more recent draftees longer than they would otherwise.
Since the rough years in Ann Arbor have now stretched longer than what's typical for any NFL career, the Michigan guys still playing are particularly old. I remember making all-Michigan teams in early Playstation versions of Madden. Try that now and you can squeeze together a one-deep plus Henne, Fitz, Will Campbell, and Cam Gordon on the bench (I 'm using Mundy for now but if you figure Stevie Brown will sign somewhere you can swap them out).
SMART FOOTBALL ON HARBAUGH
It's scheme month on the Solid Verbal Podcast so Smart Football (Chris Brown) has been on. This already is relevant to your interests. But this week's show was on Harbaugh so…
Go to the 47 minute mark to get to the Harbaugh. Dnak at the link provided the bullets for "Bo Schembechler football with Jon Gruden's playbook." Dnak also questioned the suggestion that Fisch is going to be running the offense, a prospect Chris is down on. I do think Jedd's "passing game coordinator" title is legit but Drevno is calling plays, as he did well enough in San Diego, and it's still Harbaugh's scheme and Harbaugh's plans, and Harbaugh's metaphorical nose in the huddle.
Earlier they're talking about Mariota vs. Winston and Chris is asked "In 2015 what's a Pro Style offense and what's a Spread?" and he just rips apart the labels, before using them anyway because we still don't have better to describe two slider setting extremities.
Speaking to what you do with a quarterback, until you've got a Tom Brady/Peyton Manning who in Chris's words is "seeing the Matrix", you design a passing game you can teach and your quarterback can operate. Dials include footwork (shotgun, 3-, 5- and 7-step drops), pre-snap reads, post-snap decision trees, and of course whether his feet are going to be part of the offense. Start with the knobs he's good at, and slowly turn up others as the QB adjusts.
The biggest point is "it all works" as long as your offense puts stress on the defense. The classic example of exactly what you shouldn't do then hangs in the air like a wet Borges fart. It is annoying that Brown excitedly brings up our two chief rivals as examples of cutting edge while the commentary on Michigan's offense is "this stuff may be old but it still works." May it kick ass so the smart coach-y people have to explain why.
[After jump: Austin Davis, night games and the Freekbass Quotient of invitees, why we're all A's fans now]