i find certain things very important indeed
Dear Diary was going to be in this spot this morning, but the site was 504-ing and I couldn't get at all my precious tabs. So instead you get Esther McCleery.
My good friend Nate is certainly the most interesting person I've ever met. He's one of those diamonds from the middle of nowhere that the University of Michigan goes out of its way to collect, the nowhere in this case being Eastern Kentucky and the middle being a small town called Grayson. I'll save you his list of accomplishments because he'll be famous enough one day for all of them to end up in a book.
In a town like Grayson hoarding is one of the things that register on a list of pastimes. While sorting through one trove Nate found a stack of old copies of Life magazine and brought them with him to our college reunion last weekend. Inside he found and framed enough ads for bourbon to keep Kentucky bars well-tchotchke'd for a decade.
This he was doing at the breakfast table on Saturday morning while another friend and I were trying to justify to our wives why we're blowing what could have been a Europe trip on a few upcoming Saturdays.
That's when Nate serendipitously discovered an article on Homecoming in the November 1959 issue. Hey it's our band:
That's the only photo in the article that's pointed at the field. Life's photographer instead spent the 4th quarter with his camera turned toward Class of '34 alumna Esther McCleery. I'll reproduce that for you now:
HOMECOMING SPIRIT at game is shown in the mobile face of Mrs. Esther McCleery, class of '34 at Michigan. Above Mrs. McCleery screams, "Go, Team, Go, this is it!" as Michigan, behind 16-10 in final quarter, intercepts pass deep in Wisconsin territory. "All right, Blue," Mrs. McCleery bellows. "This is it, we've got 'em now."
But a moment later Michigan fumbles and Mrs. McCleery's face falls (below)
In the final minutes of the game, she dejectedly watches Wisconsin wrap it up with a field goal. "We've had it but good," she mutters.
But she brightened. "Next year we'll get 'em," she says.
Everyone ought to see Notre Dame du Paris (NOTE-rruh Dahm) one time in their life just to appreciate the feats of art and engineering that mankind can accomplish when we feel like it. To understand why we'd ever build such things, first you ought to experience something like Notre Dame at Michigan, since there are few other things in the world—other than gaining or losing another human being—that can make you truly appreciate the depths of emotions that make being a human animal quite worthwhile.
29 days, Esther.
This was sent to me from HTTV volunteer copy editor Becky Long, who in 1998 was on the sidelines as UM cheerleader Becky Long. The wide-angle:
Click gets you full size, which is just 300kb or so (to a 1998 hard drive that's huge) but plenty for your need. That need is to cast this image in your head until the most Brady Hoke thing ever has claimed its rightful place next to Don't Make Lloyd Angry, and the Bo-Canham-Bump Press Conference in the Hall of Before-He-Was…
To my knowledge, until now the best Hokepoint from the Before-Time known to the internet was that overused thing with the uncharacteristic headset. Bonus: We now have a photo to use when we talk about Rob Renes and genetic nose tackles.
That is all.
Dilemma: The HTTV proofs were delivered at the same time as the game.
First a confession: the last time I bought EA's college football game was 10 (the 2009 season) for PS2. I used to get it every year from the Woodson cover to the Desmond cover and play until it was taking more time than I could excuse because an exercise bike was involved. The exception was '05, which I played for four days before going back to 2004, still the gold standard of the series.
The versions I had were all great for power runs to set up bombs but in the summer of 2009 I was mostly interested in wrecking offensive rushing records with Rich Rod's offense. Like anybody with a touch of ASD, I cannot play until I've filled in and fiddled around with Michigan's rosters. Tate Forcier was like an 80 overall when I was done. Denard was probably set to move to cornerback—remember this was the 2009 offseason, when old men in conference hotels were dancing to Weapon of Choice:
Then I started playing and videogame Forcier would throw 8 interceptions per game because linebackers could leap 100 feet in the air. There was no such thing as an incomplete pass; you threw screens or you threw interceptions. It took just three games for my frustration to turn me off from the series and turn me into one of those people who delights in The Consumerist ripping on EA. Other than goofing around on my 2004 dynasty NCAA the game was dead to me.
Then they put Denard on the cover (and the wife let me get a PS3 once I proved how awesome it is at Netflix). And since I'd moved on from guy at convention hotels to guy who works for a college football blog, it turned out I could get an advance copy of the thing with Denard on the cover in return for telling people how I felt about it. A part of me finds it ridiculous that I can get away with this. Since I've been out of things for awhile (and Misopogal has grown skeptical over all this "work" I've been putting in) I'm gonna deliver the game to Ace after I post this, and next week you'll get a review from someone with a frame of reference within the current console generation. Here's the things you should know now:
1. IT HAS DENARD ON THE COVER. Truly it is the most beautiful thing to grace a cover since...NCAA 06? NCAA 99? A baby swimming toward a dollar on the album where music got its balls back? If Denard was smiling maybe.
I adore all of you!
He is actually the most appropriate cover athlete for a version of this game since they put Ricky Williams on the one with unstoppable running backs because…
2. OPTION OFFENSE is awesome. They completely redid that and now read options work the way they're supposed to. EA also gave the defense its option-crushing corner blitzes and scrape exchanges.
I keep forgetting to sub Green in at FB
However the counter to the counter sucks. They put bubble and PA split end screens in the playbook, but the defense reads these way too quickly on any difficulty worth playing. Also I've found my skill position guys tire so fast that when I go to it I keep getting Jeremy Jackson. Anyway the option stuff is the most fun, specifically the read and triple options. Too bad Michigan went back to the future on offense since...
[after the jump]
MORE LIKE COME PLAY WITHDRAWN FORWARD FOR JURGEN KLINSMANN
O reader, I bring to you a topic of great significance. The blogosphere has been riven by controversy after a horse tried to play football on twitter. Should horses play football on twitter? Should horses not play football on twitter? This is the great modern give-and-take of discourse. This is the First Amendment. This is America.
The Anti-Horse Alliance is led by one Adam Jacobi, an Iowan who loathes all hooved mammals you cannot eat. I must agree that a thousand pounds of lovely-seeming meat just, like, composted or whatever is a waste and is hateful. In addition, he says the idea of horses playing football is anathema. He has many fine reasons for this take.
Horses can't understand football. Horses aren't completely stupid, and their skills at dressage lead me to believe that an end zone celebration involving a horse hot-steppingcould be PHENOMENAL, but football is a very complicated sport with rules and regulations governing virtually everything, and I just can't imagine that a horse would be able to abide by the rules of the line of scrimmage and the snap. False start penalties everywhere, even for just a twitch of the tail. "Set" means "set," horsie.
And so forth and so on.
The Coalition of the Horse Willing counts the esteemed Spencer Hall in their ranks.
Horses can qualify academically in the NCAA. Provided they get a learning disabled qualification, a horse should be able to stay eligible at several SEC schools. Auburn and Ole Miss come to mind first, but let's not single out those schools alone, but yes, mainly Auburn and Ole Miss. Horses may also succeed--neigh! even thrive!--at the C-USA, Sun Belt, and MAC level.
I fear that both these men have missed the mark on the original question so badly that they have embarrassed themselves in the manner of a 50-year-old white Christian male who demands credit for such, also on twitter. They will live down their shame in time.
That shame: by debating whether or not horses should play football they fail to ask the question "what sport should horses play?" Football is an ill fit. Basketball is preposterous, hockey promising but problematic, track and field faintly ridiculous, and horse racing completely out of the question. It's obvious, though. It's right in front of your face, and thus two or three feet below a horse's face.
Horses should play soccer.
THEY HAVE MORE FEET. More feet equals more skill. Leo Messi in fact has a foot that branches just below the ankle into ten toe-sized feet. Horses cannot match this, but with four feet they have double that of the average American, and are therefore twice as good at soccer than said average American, four times better than many World War I veterans, and eight times better than Robbie Findley.
PREHENSILE LIMBS NOT REQUIRED HERE. The McDonalds inside of which horses play soccer beautifully has a sign outside that says "NO SHIRT NO SHOES NO FINGERS NO PROBLEM."
HORSES CAN UNDERSTAND SOCCER. It's mostly a matter of booting a ball around without whistles and the like. Much simpler than football. Also, horses came from Europe! QED.
While I think a horse hockey team would be pretty good since the goalie would occupy the entire net, you'd probably have to shoot it. I digress.
TURNING HORSE ANKLES INTO A MIST OF TENDONS AND DEATH IS SANCTIONED IN SOCCER. In football, exploding someone's ankle is not a penalizable offense except in certain situations. Anyone turning a leg into a spray of horror gristle in soccer is generally shown a red card. The tendency of horse legs to fall off with little provocation is an asset to the team, if not the horse in particular. Go team.
SOCCER DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESS GENERALLY AVOIDS THE NCAA. Horses do not have to take tests to sign with Liverpool or whatever.
POOPING ON THE FIELD IS PROBABLY STILL NOT GOOD. But they do play on actual grass. The cost savings. Think of them.
AMERICA CAN USE THEIR ATHLETES ON AMERICAN SPORTS. Horses are a great untapped resource in our race to dominate the globe's favorite sport, allowing us to both have LeBron James and LeHorse Soccer.
This is the First Amendment, that I can say that horses playing football is a terrible idea… unless it's the other football.
"Don't tread on me"
See you at the World Cup final. Bring carbonated oats, baby.
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™.
Using our one-of-a-kind, industry-leading, low-fat, blogger-approved line of sponsor-free bowl names and logos, you too will be able to immediately convey accurate information to other humans. Using special shared experiences technology and our copyrighted, non-ambiguous terminology, our scientific logos and bowl names are precisely calibrated to provide you with information-sharing vehicles that are recognizable, representative, and syllabically economical. Just look at our happy customers:
- : "I told my friend I'm thinking of attending the 'Citrus Bowl' this year and he knew exactly what I meant! Thanks, MGOBLOG!"
- : "My readers kept asking why I'm so excited over some fast food joint. Then I switched to MGOBLOG's Peach Bowl logo; now they all immediately register that I'm talking about a crazy-off between Dabo and Les Miles!"
- : "People at my office thought I was going around saying a crappy buffalo wings chain will be a 'real defensive snoozer.' But as soon as I showed them MGOBLOG's 'Copper Bowl' logo our shared experiences helped me convey I was really talking about MSU-TCU in Arizona!"
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.
Trey Burke does not approve
I made some disapproving noises last year around tourney time about Michigan's nonconference schedule, not because it was easy but because it was decent to good but RPI and Kenpom didn't think so:
Each of these teams went 9-3 in the twelve games listed. Losses are in italics. Tourney teams are in bold with their seed in parens after:
26 Virginia (10) 24 Purdue (10) 9 Memphis (8) 65 Saint Joseph's 65 Saint Joseph's 17 Duke (2) 82 Cleveland St. 74 Marshall 26 Virginia (10) 89 Princeton 78 Denver 30 Iowa St. (8) 104 Fairfield 105 Richmond 48 UCLA 202 Rider 112 Nevada 133 Arkansas 213 Norfolk St. (15) 120 Vermont 156 Oakland 237 Niagara 124 Maryland 174 Western Illinois 257 Winthrop 165 Long Island 268 Bradley 268 Bradley 181 Western Michigan 327 Arkansas Pine Bluff 308 St. Francis PA 221 Hofstra 338 Towson 343 Binghamton 287 William & Mary 340 Alabama A&M
Which of these teams has by far the strongest nonconference schedule? Michigan. Drexel and Iona played one team capable of acquiring an at-large bid each; Michigan played four plus a middling Pac-12 team and not so good SEC team. From the perspective of the good teams that expect to get in the tournament, any differences at the bottom are meaningless.
Is Michigan's nonconference SOS a lot better than both these teams? No.
Is it better than Drexel's atrocious number? Barely. Michigan has the #181 nonconference strength of schedule to Kenpom, #173 to the NCAA($).
From the perspective of a tourney aspirant, that schedule was much more difficult than either Drexel or Iona—last year's big "team X got screwed" controversy—but was judged far worse than Iona and barely better than Drexel. The reason for this was the end of the schedule. Michigan played five teams in the Kenpom top 50 and five in the bottom 100; Iona played one and one. In both Kenpom and RPI the results were bad.
I thought of this Friday when Luke Winn posted an analysis of the folks doing the best job of exploiting the RPI's quirks. Because the RPI overvalues teams with excellent records against iffy competition, teams like Pitt have been able to get nice seeds even when their resumes are lacking:
But in 2010, when Pitt earned a No. 3 seed despite having zero marquee wins outside the Big East, it was in part due to Dixon's manipulation of the 158th-best efficiency NCSOS into the 49th-best RPI NCSOS.
What Dixon likes to do for his home guarantee games, he says, "is play the teams that we think are the best picks to win the non-BCS conferences." These are the best "gap" teams, because they're beatable despite having high RPI returns. In 2010, Dixon beat five of them in Wofford (69 RPI), Wichita State (43), Kent State (47), Ohio (95) and Robert Morris (129). He only had one 250-plus RPI opponent (Youngstown State, at 271), either, and so it didn't matter that he played just one marquee game (against Texas) and lost it; the Panthers were in good standing due to their choices of non-BCS opponents. Despite their efficiency profile suggesting they were the quality of a 7-8 seed, they were a No. 3 on the strength of their RPI.
How does Michigan's schedule stack up?
Not D-I so is essentially another exhibition.
IUPUI was a 14-18 Summit team that loses a guy who took almost 35% of their shots. Thumbs down. The second round against Cleveland State or Bowling Green will probably be much the same. CSU was pretty good last year(22-9, 12-6 Horizon, NIT bid) but loses their three most important players and is projected sixth in the league by SBN. BG was 16-16 last year, 9-7 in the MAC. They do return their top two usage guys.
Michigan of course had little control over who their initial opponents were going to be in a preseason tournament.
If Michigan reaches the finals at MSG, they are likely to play Pitt in the semi followed by either Kansas State or Virginia. Pitt was terrible last year; they add a couple of big recruits. K-State and Virginia are probably going to be middling members of their Big Six conferences. Those games should be properly evaluated by RPI.
If NC State lives up to their elite billing this is a necessary showcase game for any team hoping to get a one or two seed.
Arkansas, WVU @ Brooklyn
Arkansas is poised for a major leap forward as they were extremely young last year—316th of 345 in experience—and return everyone except a backup post. It's hard to predict what will happen with WVU after they lost efficient minute vacuums in Darrly Bryant and Kevin Jones, but they'll at least be a bubble team. You might get a slight RPI boost from Arkansas relative to their quality since the SEC is not too good at basketball.
A terrible idea from a competition standpoint as the Braves were 7-25 last year and 12-20 before that, but this is a favor Beilein is paying Geno Ford for hiring his son. Also it's a road game, which helps mitigate the RPI hit.
These are the wrong MAC teams and the wrong Michigan teams. Western loses their top three usage guys from a team that went 6-10 in the league; Central just fired Ernie Zeigler and lost the star player off a 5-11 MAC team. Eastern managed a winning MAC record at 9-7 but was 14-18 overall.
To maximize the return from playing these guarantee games, Michigan should be squaring up against Oakland and Detroit, who will be pursuing bids in their leagues and figure to have relatively shiny overall records.
At least these games are better than last year's double SWAC/Towson binge. There's only one team on the docket this year like that…
The one really bad idea on the schedule. Binghamton was 2-29 last year, the third-worst team in the country according to Kenpom. They are one of the anchors that kept Drexel out of the tournament last year. Michigan would be much better off playing a D-II team instead of this collection of Tony Kornheisers. (They are literally all clones of Tony Kornheiser grown in a lab.)
It's an improvement. Michigan's not going to look at their schedule at the end of the year and see three teams in the 300s of the Kenpom rankings, and I doubt any of their major opponents end up 6-10 in their league like Arkansas was last year. Their Preseason NIT opponents are probably out of their hands.
Downers: You'd still like to see them schedule some of the local small schools that project to be good and the Bradley thing is pretty weird. There is absolutely no upside to scheduling a Binghamton.
Michigan's nonconference schedule should be more helpful to them than last year's as long as they make the NIT final. Five power teams is a lot to go with an 18-game league schedule, and they don't have as many anchors as last year.