The nutty Michigan coverage isn't so much about Harbaugh as it is a signal to the Big Ten that Fox wants to party.
How are you coming together?
"We're coming together. We are coming together. You know, every day is a work in progress because I think we're so critical and emphatic about doing everything right that when something gets corrected or something gets finally taught to these young guys, now you might spring a leak somewhere else. I guess what I'm saying is we're not ready to play today. I am really excited and really impressed with how, for the most part, we've come out every day and had energy and tried to get better. We've played with some physicality. i don't know that there's a position or a guy that you're looking to count on and say, 'Oh boy, that was bad.' You probably say, 'you've got to step this way' or 'your hands aren't here.' The next play they're going to do it right. That's what keeps you really excited about this group of kids."
"First one of the year, huh? Here we go."
Here we go.
"Well it seems like we've been practicing for two months already and we've only had three. I don't know if that's a sign of old age or just the intensity of how we're going, but it's really good to be out here. It's good to be practicing again."
There hasn't been a whole lot of yelling. It's a lot more instructing. Do the kids seem to be on message?
"Well our style of coaching is teaching. And I think if you compare our staff -- I don't think a lot of times you have to do a lot of yelling. This team that we have right now is trying to do it right in every way. When a team's trying to do that, whether they're really young or making mistakes because they're young, as long as they're showing the effort that they are, there's really no reason to yell at them. You just have to correct them. When you have a young team, you have to be a great teacher. That's what our staff is really working hard to do."
So the effort is there?
"Yes. I've been really pleased. Now we don't have pads on yet obviously, and a lot of times what happens with programs, when pads come on, sometimes some programs slow down. I don't think that's going to happen with this team. This team seems to really really embrace and has bought into 'we must play as hard as we can on every play, and we have to get 11 bodies to the football.' When you watch practice with not pads on, we're getting 11 bodies to the football. We're getting really really good effort, so that's been positive."
<No pads. Nothing to see after the jump.>
The great coach smackdown of 2013. Sound Mind, Sound Body—an offseason camp that is set up such that college coaches can go—is too good to be true and will flame out in the near future when sixty other camps imitate it and the NCAA closes the loophole. But for now, we get things like Michigan coaches doing drills right next to Ohio State coaches that can be bothered to show up.
This is the setup for an uncomfortably hilarious moment. Mike Vrabel gets done with his drill segment early, badgers Mattison about finishing his bit when there's still time on the clock before the next rotation, and Mattison Is Not Having That. Via Sam Webb($):
“How about you coach them as hard as you can for as long as you have them?” Mattison yelled back tersely. “YOU GIVE THEM EVERYTHING YOU’VE GOT!!”
Mattison then donned his swag glasses and told Lawrence Marshall "that's why you don't go to Ohio State, Lawrence."
There's a great Greg Robinson story behind that paywall still.
Run, don't walk. Outside of paywall is a terrific article by Mike Rothstein on the basketball program's unique approach to recruiting, in which Michigan offers only after June 15th of a prospect's junior year and maintains a sedulous respect for the process of getting to know kids.
“I’ll throw this at people,” Jordan said. “‘What’s your mom’s name?’ Because there’s a curiosity of why haven’t you offered. ‘How many brothers? How many sisters? What’s your family like? Have you considered the fact that we don’t really know each other, but there is a desire for a scholarship offer?’
“So now it’s like, ‘OK.’ It’s the education.”
It does seem like the Michigan offer is now something that means something, unlike a number of other schools.
There’s another, almost unintentional, byproduct. By having prospects wait for an offer and go through myriad steps, Michigan has created more perceived value around an offer from the school. Instead of just another scholarship offer on a list, it is one the player had to work for.
“To see that they still wanted to offer me, it meant a lot after recruiting me for a year and seeing how well I developed and saw how much potential I had,” Irvin said. “That was really special to me.”
Rothstein noticed that Beilein often goes after kids who are young for their grade—Caris LeVert is a recent prominent example—and got shot down when he asked the coaches about it. So he's on to something there.
Brady Hoke problems. ESPN gives Maurice Ways a fourth star, which means the list of current commits eligible for this site's Sleeper of the Year designation reads:
- Michigan State commits
If I have to I'll open it up to kids who got just one four-star ranking, which opens the door to a whopping three guys at the moment: Ways, Chase Winovich, and Wilton Speight.
ESPN also moved Drake Harris up 25 spots to 71st; the rest of Michigan's commits had insignificant drops of a spot or two.
Sense. And sensibility. And zombies. This bowl news is trickling out so gradually it begins to remind me of the Big Ten's realignment, which was announced weekly for two months. But I think one of the priorities fans had was being able to you know, watch the Big Ten's bowl lineup and Delany has confirmed that is something on the docket:
"I think what you'll see is a truly national slate of bowls," Delany said. "I think you'll see us probably stronger on the West Coast than we've been. You'll see us as strong in Florida as we've been, but probably not as much on New Year's [Day]. I think you'll see us in Texas, and you'll see us with some games in our region, some games on the East Coast. I think it's going to be a great slate. We've made a lot of progress."
Also, the league is about to force bowls to take at least five different teams over the next six years, so no Yet Another Orlando Trip. I'm a little leery of that. The impulse behind the idea is a good one but that threatens to screw with bowl matchups.
Finally, a chorus of angels sounds from above!
"We've been trying to create a model that's more realistic," Delany said. "We'll take fewer, better tickets. If that means the payouts have to come down some, that's OK. Because it makes no sense to overpay on tickets, over-commit and find out you're really subsidizing the bowls, financing your own game."
I'm going on six years of bitching about this. No more. Freedom! (Have I told you how terrible the scholarship model is?).
Could make the West more… nahhh. Tim Beckman picks up Oklahoma State transfer Wes Lunt, who started six games as a true freshman for the Cowboys. Michigan won't see him unless Illinois rotates onto the schedule in 2016, but the addition of a quality quarterback could make the Illini the scariest 4-8 team in college football.
The one time when a coach really could claim to block a player's transfer for their own good, and Gundy doesn't. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ –edsbs
Just once, Illinois, you could try looking at a photograph of the guy you're hiring before doing so. Then you would not hire the people you hire. I challenge anyone to find a picture of Tim Beckmann that does not beg to be captioned "derp" or "hurrrr durrrr" or "is what how can do?"
NOPE NOPE NOPE
Okay guy. It must be brutal to write something for a newspaper in June, but uh.
Freep Guest Column: Alternate jerseys and helmets continue to impress recruits
I don't think it's working. Next time put actual fireworks in the helmets?
Gant move confirmed. Brady Hoke confirmed that Allen Gant was now at SAM, stating thusly:
"He's a rangy guy and he's got length to him," Hoke said last week. "His body has the opportunity to put weight on, the structure and the genetics of the body.
"I think that's the biggest part of it."
If he tops out at 230, think Stevie Brown rather than Jake Ryan.
We missed this, but it's a little explosion-y so let's just do it now. Sam Webb puts out a Da'Shawn Hand article about two seconds after I do a final scan through my RSS feed for the recruiting roundup. Well played.
Most of it is stuff you've heard before about Professor Needs A Raise and how the Michigan staff is his favorite staff. But while I think a version of this quote was in a video somewhere this is the first time it's in text:
"My goal is try to make a decision before December,” Hand reported. “At first I was going to stretch it out, but then after talking with my pop -- we kind of had a heart to heart -- I kind of have to make up my mind. It’s a big decision, but at the same time I kind of have a gist of knowing where I’m going, but I ain’t gonna say that.”
GO LITTLE GUY GO. RUN IN CIRCLES. YES. GO.
MORE LIKE AMBEARCROMBIE AND BEARFITCH, AMIRITE. Offensive linemen Kyle Kalis and Erik Magnuson as models of a certain variety:
Slight difference? Naw. Yes I am going to take this opportunity to note that Kalis seems closer to the field than Magnuson solely based on resemblance to Soda Popinski.
You are victorious. Savor your victory. Spencer will eat cheese, and refugees will be settled, and if any of them look like they might have a double-digit block percentage we're sitting pretty well.
Behold the eye lasers of Brady Hoke.
They are looking. Michigan's got a couple scholarships open and Hoke got locked into a luncheon where fans pepper him with questions so the first one everyone goes with is about the backup QB—could be worse, could be the starter. Answer:
"Yeah, we are (still looking)," coach Brady Hoke said Monday before the West Michigan Sports Commission Annual Luncheon at the J.W. Marriott in Grand Rapids. "But, it's one of those things where there's a lot of I's to dot and T's to cross to make sure it's the right fit."
Michigan's got a month and a half before their summer semester starts, and hopefully they'll be able to reel in someone by then.
The double troll. Hoke got a two-for-one in at the same event:
"The Notre Dame game, that rivalry, which they're chickening out of," Hoke said Monday ….
The remark drew thunderous applause from the crowd.
"They're still gonna play Michigan State, they're gonna play Purdue, but they don't want to play Michigan," Hoke continued. "I don't know how they made that decision."
Tell it like it is, man. Kicker JJ McGrath approves.
U MAD? Also on twitter (shut up Bry):
— Jeff Hecklinski (@JeffHecklinski) May 11, 2013
#inthecommunity #intheweightroom #inurbasesteelingurdudes
Um, okay then. I guess if Michigan's going to have a nonconference game at a neutral site New York isn't the worst place:
"The reception we've had in New York every year we've played there has been tremendous," Beilein said. "I think it's the plan to get there often. How often, I don't know.
"Is it every year? Every other year? I don't know. Right now, it'll be two years in a row and there's a tournament down the line we're obligated to as well. We're going to get there often."
I would prefer games on campus in all situations, but it's less of a big deal when you have Arizona and Iowa State coming in. Michigan is generally going to be the defacto home team against anyone they play there.
Regional: acquired. Also: Super Regional. Michigan got knocked out of the Big Ten softball tournament in the semis, a disappointing result for team with a 91% win rate in conference play. Despite that, Michigan did get a seed, specifically the eighth and last. That means that not only does Michigan host an NCAA regional this weekend, but if they advance they will host the super-regional.
Central Michigan vs Cal kicks things off at 4:30 PM Friday; Michigan hosts Valpo at 7PM. Unlike the Big Ten tourney, NCAA regionals are double-elimination. Valpo is 34-25 and was 11-9 in the Horizon League; they should be a pushover. Cal had a good overall record but was 10-14 in the Pac-12; Michigan mowed CMU down 11-0 in a mercy-rule game about three weeks ago.
Moar replays, fewer charges. The NCAA basketball rules committee didn't do much. They allowed some late-game replays—just what the game needs, more stoppages—and changed the charge rule so that a defender need to be set before an offensive player "starts his upward motion" to pass or shoot to not get called for a block.
I am not a fan. The game's problems stem from a refusal to call obvious fouls, as anyone who's flipped on the NBA playoffs after immersing themselves in this year's Big Ten schedule has been shocked to find out. All that hand-checking? Yeah, gone.
Tightening up the charge rule in that manner just seems unfair to the defender, who can get there in plenty of time and still get nailed because he didn't anticipate that by the time he was getting plowed in the chest the offensive player would put his arms up.
I am vaguely hopeful the proverbial crackdown will be more effective. From Andy Glockner:
The other changes, which really are just a re-emphasis of existing rules on the book, will require officials to consistently and, perhaps exhaustively, crack down on handchecking, armbars, and other techniques used both on a primary ballhandler and on cutters moving through the lane. If the officials do call this regularly, we’ll end up with a lot of fouls and free throws early in the season, and then hopefully teams will adjust and we’ll see better, more free-flowing offense later in the campaign. The off-ball contact in the lane is an especially big problem in the college game, and it will again challenge coaches who teach this as part of their defensive approach to find another way to successfully guard.
If that actually gets called like the NBA, the game is going to get a lot cleaner once we get past the section of time when all games are horrible foul-fests. That would be great for Michigan, which is historically a low-foul team that uses a crapton of cuts.
I AGREE WITH NICK SABAN. I've been agreeing with Dave Brandon lately about things like "how many conference games should we have?" and "should we schedule Virginia Tech," so I may as well just agree with everyone about everything. Here we go:
“I’m for five conferences – everybody playing everybody in those five conferences,” theAlabama coach said Thursday night before speaking at a Crimson Caravan stop. “That’s what I’m for, so it might be 70 teams, and everybody’s got to play ’em. …”
Saban reiterated his desire for the SEC to expand from eight conference games to nine per year for each team.
I… I'm with Napoleon.
Hockey commits. Michigan picked up a commit from OJHL goalie Hayden Lavigne for either next year or the year after. So while the door for Rutledge is hypothetically still open, he's just picked up two competitors for the rest of his career. I don't think he's coming back. Lavigne started 18 games last year, posting a .922 and being named "second team All-Prospect" in his league. He was a third round pick in the most recent USHL draft even though his OJHL team expects him back this year.
The addition of Lavigne signals a sea change in the way Michigan is acquiring goalies. Used to be they'd plug and play a top prospect every 3-4 years. Now they're adding a third contender to the mix, and instead of first-round draft picks they're random guys. This can work. It's clearly not the best way to go about things, but Jeff Jakatis and various Miami goalies have proven that goalies are weird and can come from anywhere.
Michigan also picked up a commit from a USHL defenseman named Cutler Martin. He's a '94 (ie, he'll be 20 when he comes in next year) and has very little internet profile out there. Seems like he'll be a third pairing guy to fill out roster depth.
At what point does something become and out-and-out lie? Here's NBC Irish blogger Keith Arnold claiming "Michigan asked to stop ND series first" because Bill Martin wanted to put in one of the occasional two-year hiatuses that the series has seen since its resurrection. Is this merely dishonest or a flat out lie? I think it's actually the latter, since of course "stopping" the ND series is something you do when you, say, cancel all future games. Michigan never had any intention of doing that.
Etc.: More than you needed to know about the all-time-wins chase from the perspective of a Texas fan. Women's tennis hits the sweet 16, their fourth straight. Men go down to a first-round upset. Soccer brings in the #6 class in the country(!). More things you wouldn't buy on eBay. It's Mott Takeover week at WTKA.
“You guys get me McGary yet?”
Isn’t that your job?
“Heh, no. I’m done with recruiting.”
How consistent was your four-man rush this spring and what’s the potential?
“Well we worked very very hard on it. We made a definite [goal]: ‘We’re going to do that.’ We worked hard all spring on it. The thing about pass rush that makes it something that you can achieve is that’s a phase of football you can work on all summer. That’s something like catching passes, like throwing passes. You can’t go out and hit a guy one on one, you can’t do all that in a summer, but you can improve pass rush technique better than anything else. And with our belief of that being important and our kids believing that, I think that’s something we’ll just continue. They did show some signs in there, but they also showed why you have to be a technician when you do it, and everybody’s got to be on the same page. We’re kind of in the growing stages of it, but we’re growing in the right direction.”
“We’re so proud of those guys. We’re so proud of that basketball program. I mean, what they’ve done with that young team is so special. We’re pulling for them just like everybody else.”
What do you see from Jarrod Wilson?
“I’ve seen him since the day he got here, and he’s one of the first we brought in at semester. He’s very mature. He’s a young man that studies the books, studies exactly what he’s supposed to do by position, has great pride in the way he plays, and he’s a very good athlete. All he needs now is just continued reps in game-like situations, and that’s what we do in practice a lot. He’s a very consistent football player, too. A lot of times young guys will show flashes of why you recruited them, and then you say ‘Aw man’ when you step back.”