Michigan announced its non-conference schedule today, and while there are certainly better home games than last season they may not do much to bolster Michigan's tournament resume when March rolls around.
Michigan's two marquee matchups are two-game home series against Michigan Tech, which finished 15th in RPI, near the end of October and Boston University, which finished ninth in RPI, in early November. BU is a young team that returns three of their top five scorers and managed to finish as high as they did in RPI despite a rash of injuries. Meanwhile, what Mel Pearson's done in Houghton has been nothing short of remarkable:
A one-off November road tilt against Arizona State, which finished 59th in RPI (out of 60), and a two-game home series against Lake Superior State are the real anchors of the non-conference schedule. It's nice to keep some of the old CCHA connections, but two games against a team that finished 44th in RPI makes that a series that Michigan has to sweep; if they do they stay put in RPI/PairWise, and if they lose a game or two they're in trouble.
Meanwhile, a two-game home series against Union and one-off road game at Ferris State are roughly comparable to games against Ohio State. An east coast road trip in late October has Michigan take on Vermont, which finished three spots below OSU in RPI at 35th, and Dartmouth, whose 22nd-place finish in RPI puts them one spot below Penn State. In other words, the only possible RPI boost in that portion of the schedule would come from Darmouth moving up two spots in RPI in 2016-17, and that's not likely to happen considering they lose three of their top six scorers and their top two goaltenders.
The Great Lakes Invitational features a guaranteed game against Michigan Tech and then a game against either Michigan State or Western Michigan; both finished in the mid-forties in RPI and are uninspiring second-round opponents.
at least there's still bubble hockey? [Bill Rapai]
I don't know if there was anything Jim Hackett could have done about this in the short time he's been athletic director, but man, for the second straight year the hockey schedule is deeply unappealing to me as a season-ticket holder. Worse, it doesn't set Michigan up well for an attempt to make the tourney in Red Berenson's final year. Let's run down the problems.
The nonconference schedule sucks
Here's the nonconference schedule, with last year's RPI out of 59 in parentheses after. Home games bolded.
- Mercyhurst x 2 (39)
- @ Union (30)
- @ RPI (46)
- Robert Morris x 2 (25)
- Niagara (58)
- @ BU x 2 (3)
- Dartmouth x 2 (22)
- NMU (GLI) (35)
- Tech or State (GLI) (8 or 32)
- Ferris State (34)
The best nonconference home game is none. The only team that made the tournament last year (other than Tech, which is in the GLI with Michigan every year) is BU. BU has been thoroughly mediocre for the past five years when Jack Eichel wasn't around. He and his +51(!!!) are no longer around.
The opponents aren't even interesting from a historical standpoint: other than Ferris State and NMU in the GLI, none of these teams are old CCHA teams. They are just random Eastern teams that aren't good and want a paycheck.
This is especially grim because the Big Ten was so bad last year. In a tough, or even reasonable, league a 22-15 record is a good shot at the tournament. Michigan had none because the Big Ten was a disaster. Even if the league gets off the mat somewhat this year (doubtful since MSU and Wisconsin both inexplicably retained their coaches), Michigan is going to need some help from a solid nonconference schedule. This is emphatically not it.
And that goes double since the home/road split is 9/5. The current iteration of the RPI irrationally overrates road wins and irrationally underrates home wins, so any team that is willing to scrimp for guarantee games like Michigan clearly has is putting itself even further behind an already rather large eight ball.
There are infinite football conflicts
It's like this was intentional:
- There are only four road games before the Christmas break.
- Two of them come during football's bye week.
- One of the Robert Morris games is on October 31st. Michigan plays Minnesota that day. That game has already been announced for 8 PM.
- There is a home game on the day of a home OSU game that's at least 50/50 to be at 3:30.
- In the unlikely event Michigan makes the Big Ten Championship game, there is a home game against Wisconsin probably at the same time.
I understand that some conflicts are inevitable. This is close to maximum hypothetical conflict. Michigan has scheduled games that no Michigan fan is going to want to attend that hurt their chances to make the tournament.
There are way too many games early and way too few late
As mentioned, the season ticket has 12 of its games before the break and just 7 after, one of which is the NTDP exhibition. There is another month-long gap between home games. (At least this time it's not because Michigan sold a game against MSU so Chicago could ignore it.)
- And Michigan inserted the Ferris game into a weird mid-February bye week. They go six weeks(!) between home league games, from Ohio State on January 17th to Ohio State on March 4th.
There are still no playoffs
Maybe I'll fly to Minneapolis, though. It could happen.
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:
We found out why the first Michigan State hockey series was "TBA" yesterday, when it was announced that the two teams would play an outdoor game in Chicago. There are about 50,000 reasons that's a questionable decision—as in the number of people who won't be at this who would if it was on either campus.
Michigan is due to get two home games against State this year, Michigan and MSU have a contract to play at the Joe annually, and the other MSU game is still ominously "TBA":
I just called the ticket office, and they said they were told that the January 30th game is at the Joe.
I, like a lot of season ticket holders, have already renewed my season tickets, and now I am informed that a game against Michigan's biggest rival is going to be in Chicago. This is how you lose people forever, Dave Brandon. But I'm sure the one-time benefit from playing in Chicago is more important than not making your season ticket holders feel like saps. Clueless. This athletic department is clueless.
FIRE EVERYONE! Naw man this ain't relevant to your interests. I but I mean cumong man.
Cumong woman, I guess. Either way, y'all shouldn't have laid off the common sense editor a couple years back. "Picks Barbour" instead of "Selects Woman" would have fit and passed the "will people be irate on twitter about this?" test.
I WILL LAY A PATH OF DESTRUCTION ACROSS THE LAND. CBS Sports scouts Michigan's upcoming team for the next NFL draft, starting with one Devin Funchess:
He has excellent initial burst off the line to get vertical in a hurry with long, full strides, flashing flexible and easy movement skills rare for a player his size. Funchess tracks well with smooth body control to make natural adjustments on the ball, but has WAY too many drops on his resume and needs to improve his reliability and finishing ability through the catch point. The effort is there for him as a blocker, but his technique needs work as he's often caught off guard with his blocking assignments. Funchess is a mismatch nightmare against linebackers and smaller defensive backs and with improved consistency, he has all the makings of a future first round pick, reminiscent of a younger Jermichael Finley at Texas.
I'm not entirely sure the effort is there as a blocker after watching him opposite Jeremy Gallon, but he should be at least adequate as a wide option. The drops were a bit unfortunate but he's not in the Braylon category, at least not yet, and his ability to reach up and pluck things out of the air with one hand gives him a circus catch upside that few players have.
Also featured are Ryan ("possible top-50 draft pick"), Clark ("One of the more underrated pass rushers for the 2015 class"), Gardner("upper and lower body mechanics are a mess and he often releases while off-balance," thanks Mr. Borges and your hatred of QB coaches), and various others. Special nod to Raymon Taylor for being average at everything:
His size, speed and strength are all considered average, but he has the competitive mentality and awareness needed for the position.
The center of the bell curve, that Raymon Taylor.
OKAY YOU HAVE MY ATTENTION. Patrick Beilein is doing something his old man never did: becoming an assistant coach.
Patrick Beilein is leaving West Virginia Wesleyan to take a job on coach Quin Snyder's staff with the Utah Jazz, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
That is a 29-year-old NBA assistant coach whose dad is John Beilein, just kinda hanging out. At this point it would be an upset if LaVall Jordan didn't get the job when it is time for Beilein to hang it up, but things change and it's nice to have attractive options.
Meanwhile: wait, Quin Snyder is now an NBA coach? Specifically Trey Burke's NBA coach? When do I get a job?
WELL THAT SEEMS REASONABLE. THIS PROBABLY SHOULDN'T BE ALL CAPS. Michigan picked third the East in a poll of 29 media voters that somehow came up with 33 first place votes:
Big Ten East
1. Ohio State, 195 points (23 first-place votes)
2. Michigan State, 180 points (10)
3. Michigan, 136 points
4. Penn State, 105.5 points
5. Maryland, 84 points
6. Indiana, 78.5 points
7. Rutgers, 33 points
That is zero votes that have anything other than Rutgers dead last.
I AM TERRIBLY OLD AND HAVE CHOSEN POORLY. Defensman Kenny Johnson, who I remember wandering around Yost as, like, a zero-year-old, has committed to Michigan. Kenny is of course Jack Johnson's little brother.
“It wasn’t very hard to make a choice, I’ve always wanted to go there since I was a little kid,” the ’98 birth-year defenseman said. “I went to every game of my brother’s, I was always running around the rink. I guess the hardest part was making the call and going to do it because I couldn’t believe it was real.”
I in fact remember a nine-or-ten year old Kenny wearing a "JMFJ" shirt at the Joe during Jack's sophomore year. I hoped he had no idea why he was wearing that shirt. Now he's KMFJ, which is an amazing abbreviation right there.
Kenny isn't the incredible prospect his brother was—he's more of a stay-at-home guy—but he's no slouch.
Newest Michigan 98 D recruit Kenny Johnson, 19 pts, 171 PIMs, 47 games. Made that SSM team hard to play with a few other huge D on back end.
— Over The Boards (@OTBPuckWatch) July 24, 2014
While we're talking about hockey recruiting, further evidence that recent commit Mike Pastujov is currently a big deal comes from the recent U15 select camp at which he was named the best forward:
1. Michael Pastujov (#11 Black) 6-0/186 Honeybaked U16 (Michigan) - A strong and powerful skater who committed to the Wolverines along with his brother Nick, a '98, less than a week after the camp ended. He's a flight risk to the OHL, but he's a strong skater who drives the net well. He made plays happen from all over the ice, really dishes the puck well to his linemates and he wins one-on-one battles. He's a complete package offensively.
When you're so far away from matriculating these evaluations are shaky, but there's no better place to start than from the top.
HOW WOULD YOU LIKE A TRIP TO BIG RAPIDS. Hockey's released their schedule and it is bizarre. They go to Ferris State to open the season—like before the Canadian exhibition game—and then they have a brutal nonconference road schedule after that test: Lowell, BU, BC, two against Tech. They do get UNH at Yost for what should be an entertaining series.
Unfortunately they again do that bit where they have a ton of home games during the meat of the football schedule and then a massive gap when people really want to go to hockey games. Michigan will go 41 days between home games after a home series against Minnesota on January 10th. The TBA MSU games will be at Munn and the Joe, so the next time you'll have a ticket at Yost is February 21st.
Meanwhile four straight weeks from Friday November 14th to December 5th feature Michigan hockey, and that's after another month-long break, one that features a bye week November 6th and 7th. The planning is not so good. This is the second straight year the second half of the home schedule has been really sparse.
The other thing of note is that there's a bunch of games with "possible" next to them as the Big Ten moves towards Sunday games in an effort to get more of them on the BTN. Hopefully they get that settled before tickets are issued. Moving a game time is one thing; moving entire days is not reasonable.
ENGULFED BY BLACKNESS. A sixth grade girl was at Michigan's football camp, which I guess is cute.
Ann Arbor hasn’t seen a burst of speed like this since Denard Robinson wore the Maize and Blue
Ha ha! That's not true.
[reminds self of last year's running game]
Blackness is everything.
[fades to nothing made of sadness]
[Death Cab For Cutie writes song about this experience]
ENTER THE LUMBERG. Man Dave Brandon I really don't want to talk about you constantly but then you're just like
Organizations that have a strong and healthy culture make sure the guiding principles and aspirational vision are integrated into everything that is done -- hiring decisions, communication, recognition, celebration, and the way they create positive energy.
and I'm just like why don't you speak English like a human does and then you're just like
To further our guiding principle of being a "great place to work," an important -- and descriptive -- Smile Committee was created. The committee's job is to draw on the skills and interests of a broad cross-section of the U-M Athletic Department to create activities of fun and importance.
and I'm just like oh that's because you ceased being a part of our species some time ago and you're now homo executivus. Which is fine and all that but I'm just saying that I would go watch RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE EXECUTIVES in a hot second.
"War or war-related activities integral to our aspirational vision… has or have, depending on which antecedent you prefer in the previous phrase, and by "has or have" I mean 'is occurring in a timeframe consistent with that commonly referred to as "now"'… been initiated after consulting with a diverse array of focus groups, consultants, and best-in-class operational specialists including but not limited to—"
/executive shot in face
That's Oscar stuff right there. Hollywood, get on it.
To further our guiding principle of being a "great place to work"
I'M ON THE COMMITTEE FORMING COMMITTEE. Instead of just working with the student government, which did great work surveying students and getting the athletic department to change their seating policy to something they would actually enjoy—#MikeProppeforAD—the athletic department is assembling a student advisory committee. We'll see how that works out; I am skeptical it'll be anything nearly as useful as what the unconnected student government managed last year.
Michigan is also confident they'll get past the 100k attendance number, because they just make those up anyway.
"(Some numbers may) potentially be lower than normal in the past, sure," Lochmann said. "I know there's a lot of eyeballs talking about the 100,000 -- we're not going to go below 100,000."
There could be no one in the stadium except the teams and they would announce 102,309. Ask anyone who was at the '95 Purdue doom-weather game if there were 100k in attendance.
Etc.: Stephen A Smith is just in charge of saying things for no reason. Ray Rice's suspension is ridiculous. Terrell Pryor got five games for tatgate! Rice got two for knocking his wife unconscious. Okay.
In lighter news, Detnews really excited about Alex Cook's tweetin'. Bacon on fireworks fireworks. It's probably not a coincidence that right after fireworks fireworks, Brandon gave an interview to Wojo.
ATTENTION TENNESSEE BIGS: stay away from Rome.
Not in Ohio. Via Bo Dever's twitter account, Michigan's footballs have taken to redundancy:
I kid, I kid. Ohio is our most special state.
No words. I take that back Plaxico Burress is our most special state.
Where are the exit wounds? Are you telling me Burress is going to be a sock magnate and does not have a sock with exit wounds on it? Life! What a waste!
Batten the hatches. So those hockey games against BC and BU that were rumored but unconfirmed? Yeah, they're at Yost. Michigan has dropped the full hockey schedule and it's a doozy. In addition to the home-and-away against all the Big Ten teams, Michigan's signed up for this nonconference schedule:
HOME: BC, BU, Lowell, Michigan Tech (2x), Niagara, Ferris State
AWAY: RIT, UNH(2x), UNO(2x)
NEUTRAL: WMU, Tech or State
If you stopped paying attention to college hockey out of self defense last year, Lowell was a one-seed, BC and UNH twos, Niagara a three. BU was third behind Lowell and BU in HE last year and got squeezed out of the field. UNO was a middling WCHA team, Tech not so good. There are no Bentley-level patsies at all, as both RIT and Niagara have reached the NCAA tourney in recent years.
Combine that with Minnesota/Wisconsin/MSU/OSU/PSU and that is the opposite of football's 2014 schedule. Michigan chose to thin out its fall schedule with the extra two weeks the Big Ten's hockey-spiting playoff system provided, taking a bye the week of the Nebraska game and playing only once the week of the Iowa game.
I'll take it. ESPN's reporting that the Pizza bowl is dead and will be replaced by another event at Ford Field matching a Big Ten team against an ACC team, which everyone is going to hate except M and MSU fans. But I'm one of them so woo.
George Perles isn't phased. I mean, what's better than Detroit in December? Detroit outside in December.
Keep up with the Joneses, plz. One of pleasant surprises from a couple of trips to the SEC has been the presence of both bands at the game even for non-rivalry matchups like (mediocre) Auburn versus LSU. The second time I asked around to see if I had gotten a fluke, and southerners looked at me with horror and pity once they realized Big Ten football usually has one band involved.
Ohio State's going to change that, mostly:
Gordon Gee, Gene Smith and the powers that be at Ohio State got together and determined that the College of Arts and Sciences and athletic department would continue financing the band. But one key change would be the addition of the Development Office of the President. Instead of a miniscule $220,000 operating budget – ninth in the Big Ten – the Buckeyes will have $1 million, which vaults them to first. With it comes more travel.
The band will attend road games at California, Purdue, Illinois and Michigan.
Meanwhile Michigan scrounges for pennies to send the MMB to a game against friggin' Alabama and the Uber Alles subset of the fanbase praises that decision as sly money-grubbing genius instead of a slap in the face to the band and fans. If only this was true:
When Michigan’s band traveled to the Cowboys Classic in Dallas last season for the Wolverines’ game with Alabama, it cost the university an estimated $400,000. The decision to send the band came after heavy criticism when it was announced they would not make the trip. Less than a year later, it appears two of the nation’s premier marching bands have earned a spot near the top of their university’s hierarchy.
The MMB is the same as it ever was. They will travel probably once this year, the free trip to East Lansing. State College, Evanston, Iowa City not so much, let alone UConn.
Pay attention to Mike Hart, plz. Hart on his quick ascension to the top of the depth chart and what Derrick Green can do to replicate that feat:
"The biggest thing I tell my guys is I didn't get all the reps (when I was a freshman), but I made sure I watched every rep," Hart said. "There's freshmen on my team over there talking, and they don't know the playcall or what's going on.
"You can process these things without getting a physical rep. I think that's kind of what helped me transition, is I was only getting a couple reps, but I was really getting 15 reps per period. A new playcall, I was thinking about what I had to do and how I had to do it."
Draft order set, now we can wince at what will happen. SI has Trey Burke going to New Orleans at #6 while the Pistons get the flashing red light that is Shabazz Muhammad. Hardaway does not appear. Glen Rice Jr. does, though, and a year after he got booted from GT's team.
Hated Chad Ford($) has Burke #2 to Orlando, has the Pistons taking walking red flag Anthony Bennett—LOSE GAMES AT THE END OF THE SEASON FOR PANTS SAKE—and puts Hardaway at the tail end of his first round, going to Denver after "one of the best performances of anyone at the combine." He brought "an intensity with him that few players could match"?!?!?
Do we think Mitch McGary and Hardaway pulled a Derrick Rose-SAT-swap here maybe? I do. I think Hardaway convinced Mitch McGary to pretend he was Hardaway at the NBA combine. This is a thing that happened.
UMHoops breaks things down in more detail.
Etc.: Michigan has two Parade All Americans, equalling the rest of the conference combined. MSU has two quarterbacks. Uh oh? Softball ace Sara Driesenga profiled. The News on Patrick Biondi's stellar senior season. Denard Robinson is not exactly a trekkie. Michigan State fans looking for love.