I'VE HAD JUST ABOUT ENOUGH OF YOU SONNY
This week Michigan pulled in a commitment from another offensive lineman. That makes six for the 2013 class, with the possibility of a seventh, on top of four in 2012, on top of…well that's the point isn't it?
It's easy to point fingers […in the general direction of Tucson] for the dilapidation of M's o-line depth. Rodriguez did knowingly and willfully get too picky with his 2009 and 2010 recruiting, perhaps figuring the massive 2008 haul would tide him over until he was winning championships and could offer playing time and non-ridiculous uniforms to Oregon targets. The result was two great tackles in '09, just a center in 2010, and then much striking out in what was supposed to be the year of many Hobbis and Yruretagoyenas, the wanton whiffing exacerbated five times over by [the bad timing of…] The Process.™
A man cannot be faulted for the circumstances of his creation, and certainly Brady Hoke and co. have since done a bang-up job of finding large and talented young gentlemen willing to stand between us and the ill-begotten creatures that plague Big Ten defenses. That's not to say they'll be any good at it…yet. Like a basement full of wedding gifts without a house to fit them all, our future of wealth and comfort is all but promised but we wonder how long must we wait?
Answer: some time yet, sorry. I hate to bury the lede, so here's a great big spoiler. We're gonna have a little history lesson, and then you're going to find this:
Year in Program:
|Not on team||1||6||13||16||28|
|% Solid +||1.4%||9.5%||21.5%||33.8%||37.3%|
What the hell this is: It's me tracking the development of Michigan offensive linemen over the last 20 years based on how many years each has been in the program. It is subjective on the top and a bit accusatory in the middle and perhaps only a little bit useful on the bottom where I show things like just 1 in 5 of all the great centers and guards and tackles in two decades of Michigan recruiting end up ever becoming All Big Ten-level players. It seems to say that there's a lot that can go wrong between the gathering of the linemen and the deployment of the linemen.
It also says it takes time: in 20 years of OL recruiting just seven guys (Lewan, Molk, Long, Backus, Hutchinson, Jansen and Boren) were even ready to be okay starters by their second years in the program. If one guy from the 2012 class starts this year and is proficient, that's beating the odds; the chances of the 2012-'13 classes forming a proficient unit by 2014 are the chances of finding five NFL linemen in ten recruits.
A History of Michigan OL Recruiting, 1993-2011
I wanted to go back far enough to get a relatively large enough sample of Michigan offensive linemen and some idea of how a class of recruits matures into a line. Because this involved a lot of memory and subjectivity, I included my written impressions of all of these linemen below. That information was put into chart form to produce the above money chart.
For the years before Rivals-Scout these are general senses gleaned from Lemming, Prep Football Report, and one blogger's admittedly bad memory. They should not be trusted. From 2002 on it's an average of star rankings from Rivals, Scout, and after 2006, ESPN – positional rankings are composites of those available.
Also I'm going to ignore dudes who were defensive linemen for the majority and end of their careers because there's no way to say how good they would have turned out. They are: Will Campbell, Marques Slocum, Alan Branch, and Quinton Washington.
1993: Damon Denson (★★★★★) was Maurice Williams before it was cool, riding in on a wave of hype then wasting effectively two years (including burned redshirt) playing defensive line, having his eligibility run out just as soon as he was getting really good at donkey abuse. Unlike Williams he had a short and uneventful pro career. Zach Adami (★★★½) was a smallish three-year starter you could plug in anywhere who came in for one of those "your team won, here's some extra all-conference pins for your longtime starters" awards his senior year in '97. John Partchenko (★★★), and Joe Ries (★★½) never saw the field that I recall and neither made it to 5th years.
1994: Jon Jansen (right) (★★★★ as a TE) was also a great linebacker for Clawson. That athleticism plus his massiveness led to three years of starting, two All-B1G selections, and a long and productive NFL career. Noah Parker (★★★) was a small Floridian career backup at guard.
1995: Steve Frazier (★★★½) and Chris Ziemann (★★★★) were constant presences as injury starters on the '97 to '99 lines, both ending up okay-ish (Frazier's infamous snap over Brady's head in the '99 Illinois game notwithstanding) as 5th year seniors. Eric Moltane (★★★★) was an early medical loss, Jeff Potts (★★★) was buried on the depth chart.
[Pics of different dudes wearing 77, after THE JUMP…]
PREVIOUSLY in this vehicle where we draft Big Ten players and make fun of each other:
Rounds 1-3: We are summoned by Brian and duly take all the quarterbacks before he can draft one.
Rounds 4-7: Suddenly Heiko goes full Millen with the receivers
Rounds 8-12: Seth nabs Kovacs, Brian gets revenge.
Rounds 13-17: We all start reaching for Wolverines HARD.
Rounds 18-22: Doctor Vorax is revealed.
Your bloggers are rejoined at the conclusion of the 2012-'13 season in the conference room of a fictional paper company in Scranton, Pa., the "Electric City." A man in a brown suit enters, smelling of beets…
Good morning, [makes quote fingers] M-Go [/fingers] Editorial Team,
It's a new year, which means it's time for your annual performance reviews. Since your office manager is not here at this moment, I Dwight Schrute, have taken it upon myself to uphold and undertake this most sacred of office rites.
Who am I? Well I'm the assistant manager of MGoBlog. I've been Brian's #2 man since 2005. We’re like one of those classic famous teams. He’s like a cross between Mozart and Greg Mattison. And I’m like…um…Mattison's friend. No. I’m like Butch Cassidy and Brian is like Wolfgang Amadeus Greg Mattison Beilein Iron Man Schembechler. You try and hurt Brian? You’re gonna get a bullet in your head courtesy of Butch Cassidy.
Unfortunately you bloggers were too incompetent to keep any records, thus I was sadly left with only one comparative metric by which to base any raises or bonuses. You see it seems earlier this year you all picked fantasy teams of Big Ten players as a way of getting out of writing a real pre-season all-conference article. You called it the "Draft-o-Snark," and thought it was pretty funny. Well who's. laughing. now?
Oohh didn't take it seriously? Greg Davis was coaching some of your players? A med student ran off with all the other quarterbacks before you thought take one? Boo. Frickin. Hoo. FACT: if a bear is attacking you and the only way you can defeat it is by driving 80 yards for a touchdown, the bear doesn't care if your only QB was turned into a tailback by an ulnar nerve compression. Because he's a bear.
* Player out of position (e.g. half of Heiko's team). Bolded dudes = consensus All Big Ten picks from us. † = All-B1G tie.
Question number…the first. Pick a player nobody drafted whom you should have. Any Wolverines? [we split these up so we don't all shout "ROBINSON…NOT THAT ROBINSON!"]
Never heard of him.
: I would have made up a rule to prevent Heiko from taking Taylor Martinez with his second pick. And... um. Oh God. I would take Matt McGloin instead of Scheelaase. BIG TENNN. Penn State's Kyle Carter was instantly the best TE in the league, though I blame Greg Davis for assassinating Iowa's passing game for part of that, and Venric Mark was both an All-American punt returner and an incredibly dangerous plain ol' running back.
: We also managed to overlook an impact defensive lineman from an unlikely source—Minnesota's D.L. Wilhite, who tallied 8.5 sacks this year, just 0.5 off the conference lead. Quinton Washington is the clear candidate for overlooked Wolverine.
I made Heiko cover Allen Robinson so he could stew over all the useless receivers he drafted early. Also so I could cover Nebraska's senior DE Eric Martin, whom his teammates call "Caveman" because he burrows under offensive like he does bloggers' metaphorical radars. The senior had 56 tackles, 16 for loss, and 8.5 sacks and an additional 14 hurries, not to mention batting down a bunch of passes (amazing since he's only 6'2) and once hitting Russell Bellomy so hard it crushed my soul. I wish to Denard I'd decided to draft him instead of...
Now you jump, when I say.
I have just spent the last six hours watching SEC football. I feel filthy. I need a shower. But you need content so here's a little bit of stuff I've learned about Michigan's Outback opponent.
The Most SEC Team Ever
South Carolina is not just an SEC team, they are the most SEC team ever, so SEC in fact that they're coached by one Steve Spurrier. They're major over-signers, massively talented, and minimally sane. A third came from a JUCO or prep school—Fork Union Military Academy is Spurrier's
rubber-stamping [EDIT: I can't support this, see comments] prep of choice though Georgia Military or Hargrave it's all the same. They're the reason you can't just say "SEC West" when describing the epicenter of NCAA rot with any kind of geographic specificity. In good-guy/bad-guy cartoon world, they're evil's comic relief henchman who starts every sentence with "Duuuhhhh, hey boss…"
Arkansas is Bebop, SC is Rocksteady.
The Most SEC Recruiting Ever:
SC has had a lot of attrition, to put it mildly. Of the 127 players to commit to Spurrier from 2008 through this season, 39 percent (50 players) are not on today's roster. Another five came back after a year of prep school. That's two dismissals, three early NFL entries, eight graduates (six JUCOs, two 2008 non-redshirts), four quits, two medicals, two unrenewed fifths, 14 transfers, and 15 non-qualifiers (one of whom made it back to FBS w/ Arizona).
Most of the transfers, as you might have expected, conveniently occurred under an over-signing scholarship crunch. Their 127 commits is just nine more than Michigan took over the same period, however M had a lot more scholarships available with massive attrition from small classes preceding the relevant years while SC's most egregious class was the 31 taken in '06. On the other hand the attrition wasn't so evenly managed as to not cause problems; as recently as 2011 their boards have had 'Never Forget'-levels of depth chart freaking out at cornerback. Their 2009 class is down to 11 from 29. With the new scholarship limits and attrition remaining very high (seven of those transfers happened this year), Spurrier has been doing it more with JUCOs lately, offering them scholarships on an availability basis. Things like grayshirting Matt Coffee because too many kids qualified seem to have been replaced with problems like "oh god we're out of linebackers!"
That said they've pulled in a lot of talent. Star chart (Rivals) of their current roster vs. Michigan's:
The five-stars are Lattimore and Clowney, and both were considered among the best overall recruits those years. Lattimore's season is over after one of those leg injuries you cannot unsee after seeing (case example: Tyrell Dortch vs. Wisconsin). Clowney is a freak.
Because he's hard not to watch I spent a good couple of drives focusing on Clowney, who of all the great DEs Lewan has gone up against is probably still the best. Clowney is really quick off the snap, as slippery as a defensive back, and so quick with his hands it is rare to see anybody get inside on him. Added this year, his swim move made every tackle he faced look ridiculous. Georgia held him like whoa, Florida optioned him off most of the game, and Arkansas mostly ran away from him or planned quick patterns. One time Florida tried to block down on him on a sweep and Clowney shot into the backfield so fast he arrived with the pitch.
SC tried to counter by doing some funny things, stunting Clowney around the formation or dropping him into coverage. At the latter he wasn't very effective; a couple of screens he should have blown up ended up going right by him. Optioning wasn't all that effective either, since Clowney often showed the agility to reroute and make the play anyway. Only teams with fast running backs made that work, and with Toussaint out this doesn't bode so well for Michigan barring a sudden emergence from Hayes or something.
You can try to put a tight end out there to double him but then this happens:
Neither is he an awesome tackler—more often he would just get to the quarterback so fast or break the pocket so badly that another guy got to clean up. Even our pair of escape artists is small solace; Michigan's best hope is that Lewan and Schofield can handle him. What worries me here is that Gardner was most effective against Northwestern and Minnesota thanks to long, leisurely days in the pocket; those won't exist unless we solve Clowney.
The Most SEC Offense Ever:
The first thing you notice while watching non-professional SEC football is the stupid. I went in expecting to blow up every stereotype about SEC speed versus Big Ten brains only to keep having those same stereotypes confirmed, especially with their offensive line.
Mattison is going to have some fun here guys. If you come at them straight up South Carolina's line can stand in the way as well as anybody; they've got quick feet, large bodies, and don't seem to be asked to do many non-simple things. As soon as things do get not-simple it's quarterback sacky hour. Stunts work, delayed blitzes work better, and I can't wait to see them try to react to Michigan's Okie package. The tackles Corey Robinson (6'8/337 lbs./RS So) and Brandon Shell (6'6/331 lbs/RS Fr) are big and young. Robinson has good footwork and is massive but I also saw him take a lot of plays off. The freshman right tackle will be really good one day; for now he's prone to lots of mistakes. The interior OL is older, smaller, and yet even more prone to mistakes—the right guard Ronald Patrick (#67) in particular seemed to miss a heck of a lot of blitzes.
The dumb very much does not extend to the coaches. Spurrier's old "Fun and Gun" offense is mostly gone, replaced with a base shotgun, spread stuff, options, zone reads, and wide receiver screens. What hasn't changed is all the cheating that Spurrier opponents have long complained about. SC has a tendency to come out in a wedge formation (I never saw them get called for it, though the tackles are clearly lining up a yard or more off the LOS) on passing downs. I also can't remember ever seeing so many pick routes and offensive holds to get their receivers open. When they get going Spurrier will speed up the tempo however they usually get set with about 17 or so seconds on the clock.
Quarterback Stephen Garcia is gone, but his hometown is Tampa and that's plenty of excuse to dig up every Stephen Garcia thing this week. Actual Gamecocks QB Conner Shaw was out (sprained foot) for the Clemson game but is expected to be back under center for the Outback bowl. The junior doesn't have the breakaway speed of Braxton Miller or Taylor Martinez, but Shaw definitely qualifies as a dual-threat by matching either for acceleration, and usually his third read is to scramble. The leaky line has made Shaw overly jittery in the pocket; he will move around a lot and get 10 yards if you break contain; if you don't he'll hold onto it too long and drive SC fans nuts. When he's got time to set and throw Shaw will put it on the money, however he's plenty liable to run around and toss something off his back foot even when he doesn't have to, and at this he's less accurate than he thinks he is.
The effective play of Dylan Thompson (more of a drop-back) against Clemson has started a bit of QB controversy, though nobody outside of South Carolina seems to think this is a thing (see: Denard vs. Gardner).
The blitzes they mostly minimized before with play action to Lattimore (no longer an option) and a dangerous QB draw it seems Shaw is allowed to call at the line:
The receivers are like our receivers—short but capable of whoa. Ace Sanders (#1) is the slot "weapon" who we'll come back to when talking about special teams. Nick Jones, an even tinier dude, is nominally the 2nd receiver. The deep threat is Damiere Byrd (#3); at 5'9 a giant among these men, Byrd is a Gallon-like player who made a ridiculous catch against Georgia. Bruce Ellington is the Dileo of the bunch. Dudes over 6 feet are extant but mostly freshmen; when bigosity is called for they go to the tight ends. The senior and better blocker is #87 Justice Cunningham (6'4/264), though Cunningham's been a receiver option plenty (22 catches for 287 yards this season). Sophomore Rory "Buster" Anderson (6'5/218/#81) caught 21 passes for 452 yards and 8 TDs in his first two seasons. There's a freshman they use sometimes here too.
The Most SEC Defense Ever
They're a base 4-3 that goes to a nickel against spread-ish teams. That nickel ends up looking a lot like a 3-3-5 because they'll split Clowney off into a 9-tech:
If you line up in a I-form on an obvious running down they will stack the line and creep up like woah—expect to want to kill Borges at least once when he runs Vincent Smith into that.
Clowney you've heard of, but he's not all they've got. The rest of the defensive front are eh—the other end is a Pat Massey-ian 6'8 except more athletic than Massey—but the DTs are active and vicious. They're big dudes with active hands who don't provide much in the way of pass rush except to shove your center back a few yards and make things even messier once Clowney begins breaking things.
The swing player is DeVonte Holloman, who plays Spur, the roving LB-safety spot that Michigan had during our 3-3-5 days—in SC's defense it's basically strong safety or nickel back depending on formation, though Holloman is liable to line up anywhere. Free safety D.J. Swearinger is a Kovacsian dude who seems to get to the ball quickly—I'm not sure why there isn't more hype for him. It's kind of hard to get a read on anyone else since Clowney forces the play so often that the linebackers are making tackles on dumpoffs more than anything.
The senior middle linebacker Reggie Bowens (#47) is good; he doesn't read plays that quickly but he's great at staying off of blocks and picking through trash to get to a ball carrier, and Bowens is big enough that when he arrives the RB's momentum immediately stops. The other guys tend to stand around a lot. Cooper just tore his ACL and SC blogs seem to agree that one or two 2013 recruits will start (if they can recruit any—that so far has been a disaster); backups are nonexistent.
At corner I got to see why Jimmy Legree lost his job when Akeem Auguste returned (Legree turned several plays into major gainers by going for a strip), but not much else. Everything just pivots around Clowney all the time.
The recipe here seems to be creativity. If you play them straight-up it's going to be just another Clowney show but Florida did a whole bunch of interesting things and ended up moving the ball enough to win by a lot. If Michigan can utilize our talent in the backfield to probe the weakside behind Clowney there's space here to put up points.
The Most SEC Special Teams Ever
Ace Sanders averages a bazillion per return, is described as "nifty" and never ever calls for a fair catch. Too bad we can't take advantage of that. Their punters seem to have little in the way of leg, which is scary if you imagine Gallon having to run up 20 yards to make a fair catch amongst a sea of coverage all the time. This would be a good time to deploy Dileo as short returner.
Shown: players recruited 2009-2013. Blue=expected to be on 2013 team.
When you change coaches there's always a transition cost. Some programs pay more of it than others of course but in general players across college football are less likely to stick it out through the bad times if playing for a coach who didn't recruit them. I've covered how attrition to the 2005 and 2006 classes had profound effects on later defenses. This time I thought I'd zoom out and show what we might expect from the latest round.
How bad was it really?
(Now with Teric Jones and Tamani Carter)
Surprisingly bad. I have recruiting data going back to 1993 but can only really start gauging the quality of each class back to '96.* What I did is look at attrition not just from who didn't make it to their senior years but how much of their careers were missed. Figuring four years of eligibility per recruit, here's attrition from each class expressed in percentage of lost years.
|Class||Players||Graduated or On Team
|Retention Expressed in Seasons||Key Losses|
|1993||22||6 (27%)||60/88 (68%)||Biakabutuka to NFL, lots of playing time transfers|
|1994||19||15 (79%)||65/76 (86%)||T. Laws went to MSU after a yr|
|1995||19||12 (63%)||63/76 (83%)||Woodson (NFL), Daydrion and Moltane to injury, Bowens transferred|
|1996||18||9 (50%)||51/72 (71%)||Depth transfers.|
|1997||18||12 (67%)||59/72 (82%)||McCall (lost to A-Train). Four guys kicked off the team|
|1998||18||14 (78%)||68/72 (94%)||Terrell to NFL, Henson to AAA, Fargas to USC|
|1999||23||17 (74%)||80/92 (87%)||Ryan Beard transfer, Shantee Orr to NFL, unrenewed Brackins|
|2000||18||13 (72%)||62/72 (86%)||Zia Combs, Kolby Wells injuries. Benton DNQ.|
|2001||21||12 (57%)||66/84 (79%)||Shazor/Ofili to NFL, Reid/Simelis injuries. Sanderson and Baraka dismissals.|
|2002||20||15 (75%)||74/80 (93%)||Rembert & Gutierrez for PT. Berishaj medical. Harrison that whole thing.|
|2003||16||9 (56%)||47/64 (73%)||Sharrow/Zuttah medicals. Mundy transfer. Presley dismissed. McCoy DNQ. C.Richard to MLB.|
|2004||22||11 (50%)||66/88 (75%)||Branch/Arrington to NFL, Allison injury, PT transfers and lots of unrenewed 5ths in '08|
|2005||22||8 (36%)||63/88 (72%)||Mario and Manbearfreak to NFL. Sears, Richards, McKinney, Germany, & FCK LION dismissed. Schifano, Zirbel, Criswell, McLaurin and Bass to injury|
|2006||18||12 (67%)||58/72 (81%)||Boren. Also Cobrani Mixon.|
|2007||21||12 (57%)||63/84 (75%)||Warren to NFL. Mallett, Clemons, Babb, guys transferred.|
|2008||24||12 (50%)||65/96 (68%)||B.Smith, Wermers, O'Neill, Hill, McGuffie transferred; Cissoko, Feagin, Stonum dismissed; Spoon DNQ; Khoury, T-Rob, Cox no 5th.|
|2009||21||13 (68%)||61/84 (73%)||Forcier, I.Bell dismissed; Witty DNQ; T.Jones medicaled; Stokes, Turner, LaLota, Emilien transfers|
|2010||26||11 (42%)||56/104 (54%)||[Takes breath] DNQ: D.Rogers, Kinard, Conelius, Dorsey. Transfers: Cullen, Vinopal, Talbot22, Carvin, J-Rob, R.Miller, Hopkins. Dismissed: A.White. Injuries: Talbott, Pace. Tried football, didn't like it: Williamson|
|2011||19||13 (68%)||53/76 (70%)||T.Posada, K.Jones, C.Barnett, G.Brown, C.Rock, T.Carter|
|2012||25||25 (100%)||C/C (100%)||--so far so good--|
|Average||410||251 (61%)||1,280 yrs of eligibility out of 1,640 yrs recruited (78%)|
(Specialists & walk-ons removed, redshirting accounted for)
That high attrition from the RR classes is worrisome and kind, since it doesn't include things like All-American tackles likely headed to the NFL, or an expected unrenewed 5th next year, or the fate of several injured and/or not highly recruited guys looking up at increasingly un-scalable depth charts in the defensive front seven, or a punter on his fourth strike.
It's also appreciably different from the kind of stuff Michigan weathered okay in the early Carr years, which was mostly playing time transfers of guys later in their careers who weren't going to contribute much and wanted a shot to play college football before they couldn't anymore. When Michigan got into depth chart trouble prior to the defensive back crisis of 2009-'10, it was because Henson took off leaving sophomore Navarre to man it too early, and because a generation of offensive linemen were wiped out by injuries in the early aughts.
Losing a star to the NFL hurts but it means having a star for a few years first. This is why I didn't want to just show the finish line stat that DeSimone keeps updated on his site, because it makes what happened to the 1993 class look like what happened to the 2010 class.
[After the jump it's a lineup of the usual attrition suspects, also verbs.]
Hokepoints of the Yushityu 2007 Mimetic-Resolution-Cartridge-View-Motherboard-Easy-To-Install-Upgrade For Infernatron/InterLace TP Systems For Home, Office Or Mobile (sic)
We're just a few days away from the start of bowl season, which means I get make my annual appeal against subsidized hell. But first a short message from Billy…
Tired of being an unwitting accomplice to some company's branding campaign every time you mention a bowl? Are you constantly struggling to get readers and listeners to know which the hell game you're talking about? Then let me tell you about the latest in idea-exchanging technology from MGoBlog: THE COMMUNICATION COLLECTION™.
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See for yourself what your friends are buzzing about (click on each logo to get at the full-sized, sponsor-free versions):
I'm not against branding. We do plenty of it, and I plan to do more. Sponsoring a nice thing so people can have it for free is one of the most polite ways folks have yet found to introduce themselves to customers. Marketing is subject to the same rules of propriety as all other intra-species communication. Polite: Your banner over the entrance to the guest lecture you're sponsoring. Impolite: making the lecturer interrupt his spiel to talk about the fantastic deals you're currently offering. Polite: Leaving your business card on the restaurant's bulletin board. Impolite: Renaming all the meats in the sandwiches after your products. Also impolite: naming your kid "Need School Supplies? Call 1-800-555-PENS and We'll Deliver!" so that every time the teacher does roll call you're drumming up business.
So yeah, my real beef is with naming rights that become a barrier to communication. The Rose Bowl doesn't need to remind anybody where it takes place or who's supposed to be in it because years of tradition have made it apparent. Outback Steakhouse annoyed me at first, but over a decade of having the name plus the smart decision to leave out the second half of their name (thus actually being easier to say than "Hall of Fame") allowed it to settle. Plus the Outback is a place on Earth; it is conceivable in the imagination that a bowl might be played amidst the gumnuts and wallabies. Bowls for causes annoy me less if they're nouns (Liberty, Independence) than adjectives (Humanitarian), which in turn is better than sentence fragments (Fight Hunger). Synonyms (Military*/Armed Forces) shouldn't be allowed. I'd prefer if newer bowls include the city name for the first five to ten years (e.g. San Francisco Fight Hunger Bowl). Anyway these are all things people might name an event without obviously having to get paid to do so.
That's where I draw the line. Adding "presented by ___" as part of the name makes it easier to ignore but still as disingenuous as if I changed my blogging handle to "Seth Presented by Iowa Corngrowers Association of America." Calling a young event the "Brelk" or "Breef-o-Ladies" means we'll never figure out where the hell it is. Letting that tire company with a name that sounds like a German salute name a second bowl after themselves when they lost the naming rights to the first is borderline criminal. Even more criminal is allowing a terribly named company to take over a well-established brand. The Copper Bowl can't claim the history of the Copper Bowl if it's no longer called the Copper Bowl. And here's where I bring up how the chicken people want to get rid of peaches:
I am guessing this is what the protests were about earlier this year.
*Since the one in D.C. is newer it should be told to change to something that differentiates it from the Fort Worth bowl. How about "The Great Big U.S.O. Show" since it's the U.S.O. that sponsors it anyway.
Half the bowls need to die. This year's lineup will feature 70 teams in 35 bowl games. For reference, the 71st-best team according to FEI this year is 3-8 Arkansas. Teams much worse than John L. Smith'd Arkansas are in bowl games. East Carolina and Louisiana-Lafayette will have a bowl game for a $500,000 payout provided by the title sponsor, who is a trucking company from Wilmington, Ohio. Somebody will broadcast it, and TV crews will show that one ECU fan dressed like a pirate and a few Cajun fans while studiously avoiding angles that show the 90% of Superdome currently unoccupied. And ultimately many people—especially those schools who'll be shelling out way more than 500k to settle their entourage in bowl-approved New Orleans hotels—will ask "why are we even having this?" And the only answers are "because to somebody this is still profitable," and "we need the practices and the swag and the recruit invitations so we can remain competitive."
No I don't think it'll change anything. If someone was going to have a conversation about diluting the concept it would have been had 20 years ago. I am resigned to a future in which the Enterprise Products Partners Bowl matches the 9th Big Ten team vs. the No. 5 Sun Belt team (you are not sure if I just made that one up just now). A win here is if people on this site and others adopt the non-subsidized logos and terminology.
Members of the younger generation find this appealing.
Over the weekend BTN released an online survey (still alive) that let the fans opine on the divisions and their stupid names and how they ought to be reorganized and stuff. Online poll is online poll but I was ready to leap the second DIABEETUS posted it on the board because a.) Who Michigan plays and what is at stake for those games is important to me, and b.) There's been a growing sense since "Leaders and Legends," that sense emphatically underlined with the addition of Rutgers and Maryland, that general fan-think matters diddly to Delany and co.; opportunities to put an opinion where they might see it don't come along every day.
One of the questions in the survey asked us to rate the importance of three divisional considerations: geography, parity, and keeping traditional rivals together. They're all kinda important, and if there's any silver lining to adding two broke schools from the east coast it's that 7-team divisions are a better fit than 6-teams for an alignment that doesn't sacrifice any of those ideals.
The reason is because our conference is clustered in groups of three or four. Minnesota-Iowa-Wisconsin always had their circle of hate that has just enough room to add Nebraska. Illinois-Northwestern and Purdue-Indiana are an intermingled Chicagoland group that shouldn't be separated. Our block is the Michigan schools and Ohio State. Penn State could attach to that except it throws parity off, their awful thing be damned. Maryland and Rutgers turn the eastern part of the conference into two groups of three to match the west's groups of four:
The thick dark blue lines are the rivalries that ought to be protected within divisions and played every year. The light blue are old trophies and close non-trophy rivalries you keep if you can. The little green ones are those with the recent derived trophies or a proximity thing that isn't yet a full thing. Divisions then ought to pair one of the threesomes with one of the foursomes. Since one of the foursomes has Nebraska and Wisconsin in it and the other doesn't, the divisions ought to be obvious:
|In the Weight Room Division||In the Community Division|
|Ohio State||Penn State|
Don't care about the division names just yet. Let's check this against the three considerations.
Geography: Well Michigan, Ohio, Illinois and Indiana make a nice little Great Lakes grouping. Here's a table of distances written in driving hours (HT Google). The upper left quadrant is our division; lower-right is the other one:
You'll note the other division has some very long drives. Minnesota to anywhere starts at four hours and goes to 18 (to Rutgers). Lincoln and New Brunswick are literally half the country away. How can Rutgers be in a division with Nebraska that's a 20-hour drive away? Well…