I'VE HAD JUST ABOUT ENOUGH OF YOU SONNY
hockey alumni game
no sir I would not like to be your neighbor
you smell like deep-fried deep fryers
and you make the new big ten geographically incoherent
STOP LOOKING AT ME LIKE THAT AAAH
The Big Ten hockey conference is coming, bringing with it questions like "how do you structure the playoffs in a six-team conference?" Since this is America everyone gets their participation trophy berth, but then you have some options. Specifically these:
A single-elimination format at a neutral site in which all six teams are seeded according to regular-season performance. The lowest four seeds play for the right to face one of the top two seeds.
• A two-weekend model in which the four lowest-seeded schools play a best-of-three series for the right to advance to a final four, single-elimination set-up staged at the home of the top seed.
• A three-weekend arrangement in which the teams are seeded and the highest seeds host a best-of-three series. The four lowest seeds play for the right to face one of the top two seeds in a best-of-three series hosted by the highest seed. The highest seed hosts the championship series.
Wisconsin is supporting the first of these because formats other than the WCHA's Final Five confuse and frighten them. They probably saw a sixth team show up to the Final Five this year* and fled to the comforting bosom of the Big Ten.
If the rest of college hockey was in charge here they would permanently site in St. Paul because the Midwest doesn't exist. Fortunately, the Big Ten is apparently set on rotating the playoffs through Chicago, Detroit, and maybe Pittsburgh should a neutral site be required.
But… like… it shouldn't. The amount of money you can make from five games at a neutral site is way less than you can make from 10-15 games at campus sites unless you're expecting a Big Ten tournament to sell out, which it won't. (And even then it's probably about equal.) You have two sets of fans separated from each other by a lake. Ohio State and Michigan State fans will simply not show up. MSU fans don't show up to their own building, and didn't even when they were good. Penn State fans are undetermined but they are a very long way away from anything except Pittsburgh so banking on Nittany Lions to show up en masse is foolhardy, especially when they're probably not going to be very good for a while.
Meanwhile, the NCAA is not going to fork over extra games to the Big Ten for having an abbreviated playoff. So the advantages of a three-weekend series format are many:
- it is more hockey
- it is more money
- it is less random
- it is more important to finish well so you get home games
- it does not randomly assign home ice to whichever team happens to be closest to the playoff
The advantages of a single neutral site:
- it is good practice for playing an NCAA regional in an embarrassingly empty cavern of a building
- it is less frightening to Wisconsin
The Final Five works so well for the WCHA because they had eight fanbases within a few hours of Minneapolis. (They've got seven now since they traded BSU and UNO for Minnesota and Wisconsin.) Anyone who makes it can show up at the X with no trouble. That won't be the case in the Big Ten, which has only six fanbases, three of which are questionable. The three that aren't are separated by a lake and massive airfares since Minneapolis and Detroit are both Delta hubs, and the fans who would hypothetically go to them are facing down trips to randomly-selected regionals and the Frozen Four the next three weeks. A neutral site is not a good idea.
But this is college hockey, so they'll put it in the Sudan.
OTHER ITEM OF INTEREST: The article mentions that the displaced Big Ten teams "hope to" fill their schedule with eight games against WCHA and CCHA teams, leaving six (or eight if you go to Alaska) left for random nonconference series. Conveniently, eight games is how many it takes for this blog's State of Michigan-ish Championship idea to come to fruition.
OTHER END OF THE BENCH GUY: Via Michigan Hockey Net, a defenseman with 27 points in 122 games as the Omaha Lancers' captain has committed for next year. He's Mike Chiasson, and if that name sounds familiar: yes, he is former Red Wing Steve Chiasson's son. The elder Chiasson died in a car wreck 12 years ago, after which the family moved to Nevada.
Anyone committing this late is almost certainly a walk-on and Michigan has six guys slotted for playing time next year, but depth is depth and it's always good to add junior captains. Also here's Chiasson fighting some dude.
*[The WCHA added UNO and BSU, thus necessitating a sixth team. In a very Big Ten move, the WCHA refused to change the name. That turned out to be prescient.]
Get ur Falk on. We are under the 30 day mark, so it's time for you to get POINTED AT
Jack back; he will attack; you don't want that. Michigan's annual alumni hockey games are tomorrow, starting at 6:30 with the old folks with the kids going about an hour after that. Admission is, as always, free. Head out. Jack Johnson makes and appearance, and so does Mike Cammalleri. Is this a thaw between Cammalleri and Red? Not if Cammo suits up for the over 35 game and puts him through the boards, but otherwise… survey says yes.
Win. Also lecture. A marching band insider posts that the first halftime show of the season will be La Traviata, furthering Michigan's effort to bring opera back from the grave. Or not really:
You guys are going to absolutely love the first show. Your voices were heard, and the Blues Brothers will be the first show this upcoming 2010 season. Rejoice? I think so.
Yes. Electronic disco, defeated forever. We may commence feeling simultaneously vindicated and heelish for last year's extended whine-fest about the band, which I participated in extensively.
Lecture time: sweet hot Moses in a pickle jar, our MMB insider put an "OT" on the message board thread. Let me be explicit: anything about any Big Ten team or future opponent is on topic. This includes Michigan, which is sort of the subject of this blog. Anything tangentially related to a tangent of Michigan athletics, or the university itself, is on topic. This mincing fear of getting negged for on-topic posts will not stand.
Testing the 95% theory. West Virginia has been hit with an NCAA notice of allegations for doing what seems like the same stuff Michigan was:
…yesterday afternoon, West Virginia University received a Notice of Allegations from the NCAA, which we are providing to the public. The allegations focus primarily on the activities and roles of graduate assistants, student managers and other non-coaching staff in the football program -- from 2005 to 2009.
They haven't posted the notice yet, so the exact details aren't known but seems likely WVU was doing the same sort of 35 in a 30 Michigan was during the last two years of Rodriguez's tenure and the first two of Bill Stewart's. This will endear Rodriguez even further to his home state, no doubt. Whether the NCAA would actually do something that impacts Michigan because of it is unknown. It would be unprecedented, but the NCAA seems to be gearing up for a period of breaking precedent.
Now entering the DSM: quarterback derangement syndrome. I've been increasingly irritated at Black Shoe Diaries (the guy who posts as BSD, not the whole blog) for his insistence that having a redshirt freshman who couldn't hit Charlie Weis—miss you, big guy xoxo—in three tries neck-and-neck with a walk-on is a JUST FINE quarterback situation THANK YOU, but this has gone from standard-issue fan denial to plain old insanity right here:
At what point is Terrelle Pryor going to live up to his hype and actually, like, win something on the field? And no, beating Oregon in the Rose Bowl does not count.
Meanwhile, BSD is busy saying Kevin Newsome could totally work out:
Newsome showed in his limited playing time last year that he can be explosive in the running game. At the risk of drawing some other very poor comparisons, I see the Penn State offense looking a lot like the 2007 Illinois offense. A proven NFL-caliber running back (Mendenhall) and a young quarterback that can run like a race horse and also throw like one (Juice Williams). Putting aside comparisons to Bad Juice later in his career, the 2007 Illinois offense led the Big Ten in rushing and finished last in passing, yet they upset Ohio State and went to the Rose Bowl (where they got clobbered by USC, but that's beside the point).
Meanwhile, Michigan fans pointing out that even the house outlets like Penn State's scout site were politely saying Kevin Newsome is terrible is "bitterness" at the kid's decommit.
If Juice Williams 2007 (but definitely not 2006, 2008, or 2009) is your best-case scenario, run. Where? Doesn't matter. Just run. And then keep running. The evidence that Newsome can be "explosive in the running game" consists of 7 carries for 49 yards against Eastern Illinois and 3.5 YPC in 13 carries against Akron, Syracuse, Temple, Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan State. At least Denard scored a touchdown against Iowa and did slightly better than 5 of 12 for 50 yards and three sacks taken in Michigan's spring game.
But no, seriously, guys, Matt McGloin reminds me of Matt LoVecchio that one time he threw a touchdown. If he just throws a touchdown every time he passes, like Matt LoVecchio did that one time, Penn State's offense will score lots of touchdowns. No, I'm not chewing glass I think is crystal meth because I've been eating crystal meth for the last six hours. I'm chewing MORE AWESOME CRYSTAL METH.
Fiutakin' it. A few years ago when the blog was more of a helpless voice in the wilderness it was a lot fiskier, and one of the things I did one year was comb the CFN Michigan preview for the dozens of errors it would contain in an effort to show the world how little value there was in their content. That's pointless now, but damned if reader Matt Nolan didn't go to the trouble and come up with some doozies. For instance:
December 30, 2010 San Diego, CA
Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl 7:00 pm ESPN
Big Ten No. 5 vs. Pac 10 No. 3
Way Too Early Projection: Michigan vs. Oregon
WHY? How much would the bowl love to get Michigan? It would be a homecoming for Wolverine QB Tate Forcier (who's from the area), while Oregon could finish anywhere in the top three.
The Holiday Bowl might be delighted to get Michigan but they'd definitely be confused since it matches the Pac-10 against the Big 12 and hasn't had a Big 10 team since 1994.
Meanwhile, the Michigan preview itself spells Jordan Kovacs's last name "Kovacks" and "Kouvacs," and lists sophomore [sic] Obi Ezeh as one of Michigan's ten best players at the same time they decry his "shockingly disappointing" 2009, which was not shocking at all. At least they didn't talk up the prospects of hot freshman Tom Harmon after his tragic death from old age.
Etc.: Someone gave Mark Shapiro a job in TV again. The NFL Network is about to suck. Bonus Derek-Dooley-is-Lane-Kiffin ammo: a fight which saw a cop end up in the hospital after getting gang-beaten result in one dismissal and zero else. New M blog alert: Maize Wings. Eleven Warriors wonders what to do with The Game and settles on the same-division, last-game format. I'm with them.