Officiating that even closely approximated what could plausibly described as normal, a breeze from a passing mosquito on a rim-balancing rock, a half-court prayer by the last guys you'd expect to get one of those answered…pick any two things that should or could have happened this year and that's the difference between the 1 seed in the Big Ten Tourney and the 5th.
As I lay in the middle of the B1G's final season standings, trying to will my defense out of entropy, I could see the faces of the weasels that did this to me and the hair cream aficionados responsible. When fortune smiles on something as violent and ugly as revenge, it seems proof like no other, that not only does God exist, you're doing His will.
Michigan shouldn't by all rights be taking the long way through the Big Ten Tournament. But fortune has seen fit to at least make that path go right through those whose ledgers with us are most in the red: Penn State yesterday, Wisconsin today, and pending survival there, almost certainly Indiana. That's our worst loss and then the only two teams who finished with winning records against us. In Indiana's case that won't change unless we meet in the NCAAs.
Can Wisconsin beat us again? I mean it's basketball: weird things happen even without the increased chaos of fewer possessions. Like for example sometimes the stripes inexplicably side with the harbingers of Rigelian swamp ball:
I felt paranoid watching all of this. It was a temporary window into the world of a 9/11 truther, seeing what looked like an insane conspiracy by Big Ten refs to keep Bo Ryan in their ears, screaming unprintable things about their mothers. A full half-dozen of the calls they made seemed literally impossible, from the two mentioned above to another breakaway layup that Burke missed because a dude hit him on the head and the charge Burke took on Berggren late that went the other way for a critical three-point play. Am I sane? I thought we got a fair whistle at Indiana. I did think that.
At this point a clunky start and a million defensive breakdowns by the freshmen and THJ wouldn't even be filed as weird things. Another weird thing would be an an outfit as attuned to profit margins as this Big Ten allowing a Rigelian sympathizer any kind of access to a whistle. If you need more than "it wouldn't fit the Kill Bill narrative" for reasons to be optimistic, Wisconsin in their own building needed probably the worst complete ref job in the conference's history and an impossible half-court buzzer shot to fall to beat us the first time. Those are thoughts. Here are diaries:
History lessons. Remember the funny Year in Review (with pics) things that saveferris used to write? Here he goes back to 1989, a time when the Simpsons was that new cartoon your mom didn't want you to watch, lest you turn into a spiky-haired scamp child who tells people to not have a cow, man. Most hilarious thing in the world in 1989 according to 1989 me: a nose tackle named Teeter. Teeter you all! Bad memories: the Tigers, kicking it to Rocket Ismail, and Phil Collins. Good memories: Berenson was just beginning to turn the hockey program around. Yzerman scored 155 points for the Wings, who won the Norris Division. The Pistons were at the peak of the Bad Boys period. Bo's last squad (and one of his best) with that backfield of Tony Boles, Leroy Hoard, Jarrod Bunch and Burnie Legette. And Glenn Rice, obvs.
Speaking of Bunch, he just popped up on the blog this week after someone noticed he was in the latest Tarantino film…
[After the jump]
Today's recruiting roundup covers the latest on Drake Harris and Da'Shawn Hand, the potential Tarpon Springs package deal of Cole-Scott-Campbell, an offer to the son of a Michigan legend, and more.
In Our Base, Possibly Stealin Ur Dudes Anyway
Devin Gardner, Drake Harris, and Shane Morris, via Harris' Instagram
Grand Rapids Christian WR Drake Harris may be a Michigan State commit, but it's becoming clearer and clearer that he's a commit only by the loosest possible definition of the term. Harris admitted as much to 247's Steve Lorenz($) after taking in yesterday's game while sitting between Devin Gardner and Shane Morris:
"My commitment to Michigan State is a soft verbal right now and say that Michigan is up at the top as well," Harris said. "I really like being there a lot."
Reports flew around Twitter last night that Harris was spotted singing "The Victors" after the game, with some suggesting that Michigan has even opened up a big lead in his recruitment. While that may be going too far at this stage, it's clear that the Wolverines have made up a lot of ground, and they'll have the chance to continue that soon—Harris will be at the Indiana game on Sunday for his third visit in a matter of weeks. If Michigan isn't already in command, that trip could put them there.
A couple 2015 prospects were also on campus last week. Cass Tech quarterback Jayru Campbell was at yesterday's game; he told Scout's Josh Newkirk that the visit went well, and while Michigan isn't likely to offer him any time soon* it sounds like they'll be a contender if that does happen ($):
“They just told me they weren’t in a rush to offer me,” he said. “They told me to make sure I come to camp this summer and will sit down and talk again. But they’re really not in a rush to offer me. I guess they’re waiting to see my development…I like Michigan, so it would definitely be a school that I would want an offer from. I think it would be pretty interesting to get a Michigan offer.”
Campbell is a long way from making a decision—he mentioned a desire to play the hat game at the Under Armour All-American Game, which recently sent him an invite—so there's plenty of time for the Wolverines to evaluate him.
2015 Westerville (OH) OL Rob Dowdy made a mid-week visit, which gave him a chance to get some one-on-one time with Coaches Hoke, Borges, and Funk. After the visit, he told The M Block that Michigan is his top school despite growing up an Ohio State fan, though that's likely because the Buckeyes have yet to show much interest.
*I don't think this is a sign that they're not very interested in Campbell—keep in mind how long it took for the coaches to offer a 2014 quarterback.
[Hit THE JUMP for the latest on Artavis Scott and George Campbell, plus much more.]
Today's recruiting roundup covers a huge visit weekend, new offers, and more.
Big February Visit Weekend Is An Annual Thing, Apparently
It's that time of the year again, when Michigan rounds up a large group of highly-touted recruits, shows off their program with the coaches and current commits in full-on recruiting mode, and renders me unable to leave my laptop for the weekend. Those hoping for a repeat of last year's eight-man commitapalooza should temper their expectations, but there's nothing wrong with getting excited about the talent that will be on campus ($). Here's a rundown of this weekend's visitors (all are 2014 prospects unless otherwise noted):
- OH LB Michael Ferns and VA QB Wilton Speight — Two of Michigan's three commits—and the two that have been most active in recruiting other prospects—will be on campus doing their best Shane Morris impressions. Both have been mentioned by other prospects as doing an impressive job of selling Michigan.
- OH LB Kyle Berger — Berger hails from the same Cleveland St. Ignatius program that produced Jake Ryan, and it could come down to a Michigan/OSU battle for the four-star linebacker.
- FL OL Mason Cole — If a player is going to commit this weekend, it's probably Cole, a four-star guard who's already made multiple trips up from Florida. Getting Cole would be big in its own right, and it would also give Michigan the inside track at his high school teammates, four-star WR Artavis Scott and 2015 blue-chip ATH George Campbell—both have offers, and Campbell will accompany Cole on this weekend's visit.
- MI WR Drake Harris — This will be the first visit for Harris since his commitment to Michigan State; he's since opened up his recruitment after deciding he'll focus exclusively on football at the next level, though he still remains a soft Spartan verbal. Wilton Speight told Sam Webb he's been talking with Harris on a daily basis and convinced him to spend two days on campus this weekend. While Harris doesn't seem close to making a final decision, a productive visit could move him closer to making a change in his commitment.
- NC RB Elijah Hood — The four-star back had Michigan tied for fifth in his recruitment as of last week, but he's since updated that list and now has the Wolverines in fourth, per ESPN's Kipp Adams ($). This weekend will be key if Michigan hopes to make up ground on Notre Dame, Hood's leader, especially since he plans to make a decision before his senior season.
- MI DE Lawrence Marshall — Marshall briefly committed to Ohio State a couple weeks ago before opening up his recruitment after visits to Michigan State and Michigan forced him to reconsider. I'd expect the Southfield four-star end will take a little longer before making another pledge.
- MI DE Malik McDowell — While McDowell has been a familiar face around Ann Arbor, he's yet to spend a lot of time with the coaches—that should change this weekend, obviously. McDowell has been mum about his leaderboard, but it's believed that Michigan and Notre Dame hold an edge over Ohio State and Michigan State, and this will be a chance for the Wolverines to separate themselves from the pack.
- 2015 FL ATH George Campbell — As said above, Campbell is teammates at Tarpon Springs (FL) East Lake with Mason Cole and Artavis Scott, and he appears ticketed for five-star status when the 2015 rankings eventually come out. This will be his first visit to Ann Arbor.
- 2015 MI ATH Brian Cole — Cole projects to be one of the top athletes in Michigan's rising junior class and could end up at receiver or defensive back at the next level. The 6'2" product of Saginaw Heritage already holds offers from both Michigan and MSU. This will be his first visit to Ann Arbor.
- 2015 OH CB Shaun Crawford — Crawford doesn't yet hold a Michigan offer, but that didn't stop him from pegging the Wolverines as his favorites in an interview with Scout's Bill Greene ($). He already holds offers from Illinois and Tennessee and ran an electronic 4.52 40-yard dash at a Nike SPARQ combine last week, so don't be surprised if Michigan comes through with an offer sooner or later.
The only player on this list that can be reasonably expected to commit this weekend is Mason Cole, and that's by no means a guarantee. As we've seen in the past, however, strange things can happen when this many prospects get on campus at the same time.
[Hit THE JUMP for the early leading candidate for dumbest rumor of the 2014 cycle, a couple of new offers, and more.]
Today's recruiting roundup covers #Project135, reactions from last weekend's unofficial visitors, and much more.
2014 commit Michael Ferns unwittingly incited mass speculation last week when he teased a recruiting-related "big surprise" on Twitter that he dubbed "#Project135". Fans hoping for a new commit were disappointed, but what Ferns revealed on Friday was actually a pretty cool idea:
Kids pick the darndest fonts
Even before this, Ferns had been very active in recruiting his 2014 classmates—it's clear that Shane Morris and his tireless efforts to bring in commits for Team 134 have influenced the next wave.
One of Michigan's other 2014 commits, Wilton Speight, got the profile treatment from MLive's Kyle Meinke; in the piece, Speight talks about flying 2,000 miles to train, and also why he felt comfortable with Michigan's coaching staff:
"Michigan's staff was the first staff to be 100 percent honest with me throughout the whole process, and that meant a huge amount to me," Speight said. "There's lots of coaches from all over the country who will come in and say, 'You're our guy, you're our guy. Just wait, you're going to get an offer.' And then they go out and find someone who's better.
"Michigan, they didn't necessarily tell me I was their guy. They said, 'We're looking at two other guys too.' The thing is, I already knew that, because the quarterback recruits, we're a tight circle. We're all pretty close, and I knew who else they were looking at. And the fact they were up front with me about that meant a lot.
"It was just a perfect fit for me. It was a no-brainer."
It seems like every time Michigan pulls in a commit, one of the top two or three reasons they give for their choice is the level of honesty and openness they experience with the coaches. That's a very good thing, of course, especially in today's recruiting echo chamber—gone are the days when a coach could tell three players at the same position that they're all the school's number one priority and get away with it, not with the pervasiveness of recruiting news and recruits staying in close contact with each other.
[Hit THE JUMP for visit reactions from Parrker Westphal and Daniel Helm, the latest top schools for several recruits, and more.]
The recruiting roundup returns to cover... the dead period. Oh well.
While You Wait For The Others
I'm back from a vacation totally not spent playing an unhealthy amount of FIFA in my pajamas, but recruiting is still in a holding pattern—the holiday dead period continues through Thursday. It's the week for All-American games, however, so recruiting reporters have descended upon San Antonio and St. Petersburg to catch up with the nation's top prospects.
The latest on FL S Leon McQuay III does not sound promising. ESPN's Derek Tyson reports he'll announce his decision on Friday from three as-yet-unnamed schools, and the Wolverines may be on the outside looking in ($):
The four-star athlete has a top five of USC, Michigan, Oregon, Vanderbilt and FSU, but McQuay said he won't have all five hats for his selection on Friday.
"Yeah ... I don't know [if Michigan still in consideration]. I don't know how many hats I'll have up there," he said. "My dad said he wasn't paying for five hats. I'll probably only have three hats up there.
McQuay, who will enroll in January, said Florida State is the only school that has accepted him for admittance so far, but he is working with other schools to gain acceptance.
Sam Webb confirms he'll visit a Michigan bowl practice, so the coaches will get one last shot to sway McQuay, though with mere hours remaining until the Outback Bowl their priorities likely lie elsewhere. Insider rumblings haven't been particularly positive regarding McQuay and a choice for the Wolverines would surprise.
VA RB Derrick Green reiterated to Mike Farrell that Michigan is his favorite, with the rest of the picture murky—Florida State recently offered and could get an unofficial visit, while Oregon is now out of the picture ($). If a school is going to pass the Wolverines, it will have to be soon, as Green said "I definitely know [a decision is] going to be in January."
Let's just say there's more reason for optimism surrounding Green than McQuay.
One new 2013 name emerged in the last couple weeks: PA OT Jaryd Jones-Smith, a three-star lineman who could take an official visit on January 18th ($). He doesn't hold an offer yet, and it seems like he could be a backup plan for guys like Dan Samuelson and Cameron Hunt.
[Hit THE JUMP for an important hair-related bulletin, All-American week primer, and more.]