Several large bright objects have been reported in the skies above Ann Arbor this week. One is almost certainly this "Sun" the ancients were always going on about. But before we declare spring and release the frisbee people from their hibernation deep inside North Face jackets, we should rule out several other possibilities, like:
A Tiny Running Back Who Blocks and Makes the World Better
We will be in Ypsi tomorrow afternoon with Vincent Smith to benefit #EATING's Flint Garden. Corner Brewerey, 4-8pm.
A Basketball Team That Looks Like Spike Albrecht
Surely after a stretch that looked thusly:
in LSAClassof2000's seasonal four factors table, and that before losing Walton and LeVert, this season wasn't likely to end in the dance. Once those guys were out too, the step-back year because the Year of the Albrecht.
He has another left, but I think this season will go down as, metaphorically, the Spike one. They are too short, overlooked, worse offensively than they look, prone to the mistakes one makes when trying to do things outside the realm of normal basketball, and once in awhile pull something outside the realm of normal basketball:
click for Ace's gif
The artistry of Albrecht is the ridiculousness of the feint. In the above Spike takes two steps like he's about to posterize Ravote Rice. Unless they installed a trampoline in Chicago, Spike's Michael Jordan imitation will fall several feet below the rim. But Rice's brain isn't prepared for Albrecht to attempt this, because Albrechts don't attempt this, so Ravonte's body automatically does the thing it's been taught to.
When Spike would dribble the baseline you'd have two posts watching him whiz by like "is he serious?" And yet their bodies have been taught to twitch angrily at such attacks from far more plausible people. Because Spike was a sideshow, it took a year of this before coaches finally taught the collapsing guy to go for the steal instead of challenging the front of the basket.
Spike's shtick is the basketball version of that time Gardner took an Ohio State defender off his feet with a pump fake to nobody. You take advantage of the fact that a defender is a tightly wound spring of muscle memory. But it's not sustainable. In today's game Spike feinted like he was coming off a double on Dekker, then popped back on him and forced a turnover to help Michigan claw back in it in the 2nd half.
A Meatball All Covered With Cheese
Specifically one off the bat of one Sierra Romero. She's hitting .545 with 30 RBI in 55 at bats. Meanwhile the pitchers went through the first half of the season—all spent on the road because that's life as a northern team these days—with a 1.62 ERA.
Michigan is ranked #4 in the country, with two losses to #1 Florida, and a loss to Arizona State. The home opener is a doubleheader tomorrow vs. Kent State, and some MGoCrew are trying to make it out there for Sunday afternoon.
If you're going to follow this season, you need to know about the pizza. No, this is not a Gittleson diet; it's the most charming thing in Michigan sports since that rainbow smiling Iowa safety ankle breaking dude. Via junior catcher Lauren Connell:
We began to call Lindsay Montemarano "Monte Pizza" after she went on and on about all the reasons why New York pizza is better than Midwest pizza, as she deems herself a pizza expert. Every time Monte Pizza got on base, we would "Sprinkle the cheese" in the dugout, and thus, a new Team 38 tradition was born. Soon, we were sprinkling the cheese for everybody after a nice hit. We then rediscovered our love for the greatest food item on Earth as it quickly became the topic of all jokes and Instagram captions. Throughout the course of the season, we have developed a system involving pizza for singles, doubles, triples and home runs
Single they roll out the dough. Double they sprinkle cheese. Triples they make it rain pepperonis. She who hits it out gets to come home to sprinklers, and…
she *CHOMP* eats the pizza.
Michigan has 44 pizzas this season, nine of which the work of Romero.
Most Harbaughs Since Harbaugh
|1985 quarterbacks, courtesy of John Kryk|
WD noticed that the roster this year will include more QBs (walk-ons too) than any season since 1985. It makes sense since the roster was pretty bare when Harbaugh assumed the starting job in 1984, so this was the reload. In the comments markusr2007 tracked the '84 depth issues to when Steve Smith was the apparent starter for the foreseeable future, putting a dent in recruiting behind him. I'm sure Harbaugh appreciated the situation then, and certainly appreciates the value of QB depth and competition now.
My friend is married to Kyle Anderson, who saw the post and said there weren't really that many guys competing for the job since a few of them were playing other positions that season, and he himself was on crutches. Cernak was the nominal backup to Harbaugh but he'd looked pretty overwhelmed at the end of '84. One guy not on WD's list was Mike Gillette, who was listed as "QB/P" on the official roster.
Etc. Hockey was in line to win the Big Ten and perhaps an at-large bid with a good tournament showing but bombed at Penn State: thanks Oops I Crapped My Pants. Dallas radio gave us a shoutout, got our numbers right. Passing game video. SEC recruiting isn't all dollars and sense.
Your Moment of Zen:
(by me. original image via Angelique)
But No That Blocked Punt Against CMU Was Totally Worth It.
Alum96 decided to go into excruciating detail on the upcoming cliff, and which spots will need to be addressed. Like “two OL recruits in two years” he also pinpointed the situation:
…we only recruited 9 defensive players in 2013 and 4 in 2014. That's a middling 13 players - of which one is already gone (Ferns). 12-ish defensive players is what you generally get in 1 class, not combined in 2.
Two years out you want to have more in the tank than:
- DEs: Poggi, Marshall, S.Johnson, R.Jones
- DTs: Hurst, Mone, Pallante (if he doesn’t stay at FB)
- LBs: McCray, Winovich, Furbush, Wangler
- CBs: Dawson, Watson, Washington
- S: Kinnel, Peppers if he isn’t in the NFL
Some of these guys are not going to work out. Attrition happens. And if by some miracle both are avoided this is a one-deep. There’s time to fill the gaps if Harbaugh can find in the 2016 class the kinds of guys who can ball like an All-Big Ten player before they can buy a beer. Of course he can do that because HARBAUGH.
Another way to mitigate this would be to get redshirts on some of the juniors or sophomores they don’t need as much this year. No way: Taco and Jourdan Lewis are starting, Dymonte is the current guy they roll in for the nickel (at safety; Peppers moves down to the slot). Probably no way: Gedeon is the first LB in after the starters (but if McCray…), Mone is currently 2nd on the NT depth chart (but if Pipkins…). So Michigan could maybe late-shirt Delano Hill and Channing Stribling, leaving six scholarship cornerbacks and four safeties available for 2015.
/shakes fist at 2013 special teams
Bring Back the Molly McGannon Memorial Children of Yost Section
Our official chronicler of the student section SaddestTailgateEver addressed the changes at Yost as the student section was shrunk, split, and shoved off to the (wrong) side, while prime property was roped off for the usually empty opponents’ parents section:
That is a full-blown, fully mapped DMZ that you better keep stepping through and not stop. So now we have students that don’t fit in Section 17, stuck above row 10 in Section 18, and a bunch of needlessly empty seats below them. And for what? So these parents can have some elbow room to look at their sons’ backs?
This also puts the parents right in front of the “c-ya” cheer, and has led to altercations, and staff stepping in on behalf of the parents who usually started it. To that I’ll add that the glare in the revamped old barn is like stepping onto the bridge of the J.J. Abrams Enterprise.
I don’t have the heart to tell him what that place was like when I had season tickets circa 2000. Yost would be best if it acknowledged what it is—a raucous throwback to 1920s-style sports fandom—but it’s hard to see the administration trying to re-engineer that feel since the Goss/Martin ADs barely tolerated the Children of Yost.
What they can do is cut the feed to the RAWK MUZAK they blare in your face, put the opponents’ families in the obstructed overhang seats (this is a compromise; I would prefer gibbets), and put the students front and center, then look away and let the atmosphere fill in organically.
[Hit the jump for people talking about bad calls and the 1997 Championship]
Tremendous Lloyd quote!
That's a young-looking Lloyd Carr from the 1990 recruiting pamphlet that Bauglieve found on Ebay. In case the photos come down from there eventually I put them on the MGoServer for posterity (click for each):
The comments have mined all sorts of nuggets from these. Count my vote with those who want to see Harbaugh bring back one-handed, shirtless pushups on the Diag. The football fans would feel more connected to the players, and I'm sure the student body would appreciate the peck show way more than the usual entertainment in that space.
Team 138 offers its sarcastic gratitude. Originally posted in the forums, I moved Qmatic's walk through the wasted redshirts on Michigan's roster to the diaries because this is something we're going to be referencing all too often for the next few years. Morris is on there although he had to play once Bellomy tore his ACL because Gardner's ribs were becoming…you know what, let's not get into what Hoke did with Gardner.
I can show you how Hoke's redshirting practices compared to his predecessors because it's tracked on my spreadsheet:
Circumstances played a role in this certainly, but by Hoke's third year the rate of redshirting should have shown a climb into the 70s that a healthy program has. I'll probably address this in a Jimmystats sometime this offseason.
How to Man Your Baughlls
Just a glance at his formations screams old-school, smash-mouth, 3-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust SPARTAAAA:
Thing is, these offenses are notorious for being predictable in an era of S&C parity. So why does it work?
Tell us, dragonchild.
Deep head trauma is bad. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy is a horrible, progressive, degenerative disease of the brain long known to the sports world as "punch drunk." The provable link between it and repetitive brain trauma (specifically deep trauma, i.e. not all concussions) is meaningful to football especially because there is a clear moral dilemma in rooting for people to do a thing that can do that to them.
Neurologists released a study awhile ago that linked the age of first exposure to football and cognitive impairment. As happens with released studies, a few people who read the peer reviewed journals pour over it, and media folk read the title, decided if it fit their favorite narrative, and either canonized it or ripped it.
TSS wrote a diary this week to walk you through the study and what it actually says, which is that the progression of CTE is suggestively linear from the point you started playing football.
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BUT IT DOESN'T HAVE ITS OWN LOGO
Over the last couple of weeks it came out that the extremity of the student body's distribution of doucheiness is trying to Create the Future™ of Michigan-themed game day music. What I mean by that:
My best friend was not being hyperbolic about his freshman roommate.
Wolverine Devotee decided to use this as a reminder that we have traditional songs beyond The Victors. Hot Time might have been relegated to history, but we still sing Varsity during the pre-game, and Let's Go Blue!, and the cowbell cheer, as well as several covers the band has adopted (Blues Brothers, Temptation, Hawaiian War Chant), and the alma mater. If, like me, you've been singing "Denard Robinson, Robinson oh Robinson" to Varsity since Brian suggested it, maybe it's time we all learn the lyrics. They are (music):
Men of Michigan onto victory, Ev'ry man in ev'ry play.
Michigan expects her Varsity to win today!
Rah! Rah! Rah-rah-rah! Win for Michigan!
Varsity, Down the field.
Never yield, Raise high our shield.
March on to victory for Michigan,
(And the Maize and Blue)
Oh Varsity, We're for you,
Here for you to cheer for you.
We have no fear for you. Oh Varsity! (repeat)
At the risk of moving myself incrementally rightward in the douchechart, I posit that Michigan's second fight song is a better composition than 90% of fight songs.
COYLE V. SCHEMBECHLER
Michigan House '75 has a brother in law who played from '69 to '73 with, among other legends, 1972 captain and right guard Tom Coyle, who passed away in 2012. This was how Coyle was recruited to Michigan:
He and Tommy had just gotten back from a job and were covered in paint. This and twelve other kids running around when Bo and Malony arrive. Old Man Coyle proceeds to pass beers around to everyone including Tommy. Bo is shocked, turns to Mrs. Coyle and says, "Excuse me Mrs. Coyle," and then turns to Tommy - "If you drink that beer, I'm going to kick your ass!"
Bo was no teetotaler, but he did refuse to do Michigan Replay if Budweiser was sponsoring it. So guess what happens then, or read on.
Your Moment of Zen:
via Dr. Sap
"I think we'll always run the option because what it can do to defenses." –Jim Harbaugh
On Wednesday morning, under pressure to do so in time to headline a Signing Day ceremony at his school, Cass Tech running back Mike Weber decided on Ohio State over Michigan by the slimmest of margins. On Thursday, Weber's position coach and lead recruiter for Ohio State left for the Chicago Bears. Weber:
He also removed all references to Ohio State from his profile.
Michigan fans jumped on this because it's in our interest that every recruit and coach of a recruit and parent of a recruit believe Urban Meyer a slimy salesman (he's not). Ohio State fans jumped to defend it by characterizing Drayton's departure as a surprise to everyone including Drayton, and equating it with signing a junior transfer quarterback after Gentry's LOI was in.
When Ohio State does something shady (or not shady but treated as such in the weird morality of college sports), Ohio State fans will be the first to tell you that everybody does it. They're right to a degree, but the degree is the difference between how much heat the Earth radiates into space, and the Sun. Regardless of whether Urban knew Stan Drayton was leaving beforehand, or if Drayton knew he'd get the job until then, what's clear is they didn't let Weber know the coach he was committing to was likely to walk away as soon as they had his signature on the dotted line.
Purposely fraudulent or unbelievably unfortunate timing, the real lesson here is that coaches are free to make the best decision for themselves, and players are manipulated into signing away that liberty.
And for nothing. Signing Day, really, is only the first day of a period that stretches through April that schools may receive official commitments, in the form of a "Letter of Intent." That letter is merely a non-compete agreement in which the school the player signs with provides nothing in return. The scholarship offer is a completely separate deal.
Since Weber already sent in his LOI, his choices are to stay at Ohio State, wait a year for the LOI to expire then transfer and wait another year, or ask Ohio State to release him, in which case
he still has to wait out a year under NCAA transfer rules CORRECTION: would be free to choose any school. Ohio State can hold him to the LOI, or release him only to schools they choose. They can also rip away his scholarship for just about any reason.
The recruits are finally starting to get wise. Roquan Smith is still unlikely to end up at "Michigan University," but he was moments from sending in his LOI when news (that reporters meant to embargo until after Signing Day) broke that his coaches might not be there. Because he waited, he can now take another week to consider his options.
A Florida commit's father yesterday explained why his son is holding off too, tweeting "…Florida making too many coaching changes this is not a game it's my son's life." He followed up in response to angry idiot-who-tweet-at-recruits fans with the central moral question:
It's not, except in the warped morality of the NCAA and its apologists who think "amateurism" means players shouldn't be entitled to the same rights as every other citizen.
Signing Day is a total boondoggle. Recruits who have any sort of leverage should never sign a LOI, and should never feel pressured to commit on Signing Day. They should ask to sign a financial aid agreement only.
Meanwhile the NCAA should look at allowing players to transfer and play immediately if their head coach or primary recruiter leaves the school. It would prevent players from getting bait and switched, give coaches more job security, and ultimately plateau coaching salaries as schools come to value longevity instead of flashiness in their hiring of them.
How Karan Came. Michigan did get a highly rated running back in the class. Brian already linked to it in yesterday's recruiting post but if you missed it, Karan Higdon's coach is a MUST READ for anyone interested in how this process plays out:
I immediately called the Michigan football office and spoke with a secretary. I told her that there was a running back in Sarasota that may be worth a late look and she advised me to send and email with his profile. I sent his recruit profile and his HUDL highlights. I was contacted almost immediately afterwards and spoke with Chris Singletary. The first thing he asked was what type of kid is Karan and what his grades were.
Meta: Cumong! Brian's eye dialect for "come on!" has an origin. That diary is way more investigative and thorough than you thought it was when you saw it floating on the sidebar all week.
It also got me thinking about just how old this site is, and some of the other characters from Brian's section to be immortalized in these pages. Like "UNACCEPTABLE!" guy. And the narratively adorable moppet from the first great MGoBlog game column. That kid is probably in an English lecture right now. Which reminds me: happy 10th birthday, MGoBlog, belatedly (it was December 4).
Softball is Fun and Has a Woodson.
Sierra's gloves are purely hypothetical by now. Photo: The Californian
Softball has been initialized. This year's team will have to overcome the graduation of a great class, but returns shortstop Sierra Romero and three candidates for best pitcher in the nation. South Bend Wolverine has your full preview, to which I'd like to add my take.
A great pitcher pretty much owns in softball, and Michigan is filthy rich in them. The lefty/righty combo of Haylie Wagner and Sara Driesenga could easily be the best duo in the country if both seniors regain their forms after somewhat disappointing (for them) 2014s. Sophomore Megan Betsa is due for a season on par with the best of the Wagner/Driesenga era. They also added the top pitching prospect in the nation in Tera Blanco out of California. Like Driesenga, Blanco is as dangerous at the plate as on the mound.
And there's Romero. As a sophomore, Sierra was one of three finalists for softball's version of the Heisman. Most of that is her Cabreraian bat, which is already bopping out national records. My favorite of those: Career Grand Slams—the NCAA record is nine; half-way through her Michigan career Romero already has seven (tied for third all time with 2005-'08 Wolverine Samantha Findlay).
Last year Sierra also finished tied for seventh all time for walks in a season with 67, 20 of which were intentional (the most you get is about 250 plate appearances so that's quite a lot of walking). Since Michigan graduated her protection and two top-of-the-order bats, we could end up seeing that number skyrocket if Coach Hutch doesn't find some hitters to fill the bases ahead of Romero and clear 'em behind her. If she does, this is a national championship team.
A Special Hell for Terrible Michigan Coaches
There is a place where they man-block with Patrick Omameh, run Denard Robinson under center, and never use counters. In this place they run a 3-3-5 defense that only ever rushes three and tells its middle linebacker to line up a foot in front of the guard whose job it is to put the middle linebacker in that spot. When they punt, and they punt quite often, they only use two gunners, because that's what NFL rules say.
No, this place isn't some nightmare mashup of the worst parts of the last six years of Michigan. It is called San Jose State.
- Offensive coordinator: Al Borges
- Defensive coordinator: Greg Robinson
- Special Teams coordinator: Dan Ferrigno
I know I shouldn't watch. But I have to.
Your Moment of Zen:
Some empty seats are emptier than others. Empty seats in Michigan Stadium can mean different things. The "This opponent isn't worth my time" seat and the "I do not enjoy standing in rain while an incompetent coaching staff criminally misuses Denard and Devin" seat are similar in their protest and non-physical occupancy by humans, but not in essence.
There is the empty seat at 11:58 a.m. because a college student got too drunk on Friday night, and the empty seat at 11:58 p.m. because the college student is on the field after a ridiculous 4th quarter under the lights. There's the empty seat in the 4th quarter of a blowout, the seat we leave empty in case Crisler should ever return, the empty seat about 2/3rds of the way up some corner whence sprouted a long flag pole, and the empty seat left by Lloyd Brady's graduation. Dave Brandon lost his job because he didn't know the difference between a "Why am I paying to see something I could watch on my 60-inch HDTV?" empty seat and a "This experience isn't why my family was in these seats for 40 years!" empty seat.
|Reserved for Fritz. [Marissa McClain/Daily]|
The emptiest seats in Michigan Stadium, however, are Seats 21 and 22 in Section 10, Row 70:
Mom and I held hands between the tailgate and the stadium entrance. I felt her tension and she told me she was thirsty and was going to buy a Coke and that I should go ahead and sit down. As I walked those last few steps to our seats I realized we were going to have to communicate Dad's passing to our stadium friends. Mom knew.
Mom passed away in 2003 after an inexplicably courageous battle with the bitch breast cancer. But before she died she watched many Michigan games with my daughter - her new best friend.
I still have the unused tickets Mom and Dad were going to use that Saturday in September of 1989. We beat Maryland that day.
The emptiness of a seat is proportional to the degree it was filled. Thank you, jmdblue, for sharing your research.
Other diaries: The recruiting board of alum96 is updated. LSA charts the four factors over the first half of the basketball season. Canadian with a weekly hockey update (Michigan is up to #12). Bet on a Super Bowl with Touchdown Tom coming down to the last drive.
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HARBAUGHS IN THE NFL
Chart of players Harbaugh recruited who are currently in the NFL, by Auerbach:
As a commenter pointed out, no Richard Sherman et al. if they were recruited under Harris or Teevens but played for Jim. I'm investigating but on quick glance about half of these guys were TE/DE types out of high school.
ULIZIO VIA UCONN STAFF:
Just gonna c&p from brewandbluesaturdays:
"A guy with NFL feet who has the body balance and flexibility to be a good player. He has long limbs and shows good toughness on tape. He is a quiet kid but all in all should turn out to be a good player."
In Harbaugh OL scouting we trust and all, but interesting to see what UConn saw in him.
YOU ALSO FORGOT SPACE
Jay Harbaugh sent a TE recruit a list of eight (the recruit's number) reasons to come to Michigan. Most were the standard Michigan selling points but one I hadn't thought of before was proximity to NFL teams (image via CBS Sports):
Jay is young enough I could have babysat him, but the one thing he does have on his resume is NFL scout coordinating, so if he's bringing this up as a thing maybe it's a thing? We'll have to teach him you always bring up the lunar alumni association.
Conboy's pro career looks like it will end the same way his college one did:
Andrew Conboy of the Elmira Jackals was suspended 20 games by the League for a cross-checking incident against Brampton. He was given a major penalty and a game misconduct for cross checking another player in the face, and a match penalty for deliberately attempting to injure an opponent.
As for Tropp, who's with Columbus (because go figure), earlier this season he avoided suspension for a cross-check to the back of the head of Ottawa's Mark Borowiecki in the 3rd period of a blowout. I hope it wasn't because he had no priors.
QUICK HITS: How JMFJ parents scammed him. Texas didn't get A&M's guy instead of Gentry after all [Don Draper was right about that one airline account dot gif]. Brian in the AA Observer. Should there be Wolverines on the logo? Your favorite dorm memories—if someone named Shannon brings up this time in the Mojo Dungeon when he was set up in the Stacks with grenade launchers and spent 10 minutes owning me, Corky and Sway, remind him who finally sniped him down from there…WITH A KLOBB!
Your Moment of Zen:
(A KLOBB!!! Shannon! From the next room, peeping around the corner, with a KLOBB.)