to play football, not to play trumpet
Not bad for year one. Michigan finishes tenth in Matt Hinton's final rankings.
But for an all-time fluke you can swap M and MSU. Jim Harbaugh can coach a bit.
Embrace expectations in year two. Michigan will not start next year outside the polls. It may start it inside the top five, if post-season top X lists are any indicator:
- Stewart Mandel ranks Michigan 4th.
- PFF predicts Michigan will make the playoff, also ranking M 4th.
- Mark Schablach ranks Michigan… yep, 4th.
With a pile of starters returning and Jim freakin' Harbaugh as Michigan's coach, this is not a huge surprise. Michigan demolished Florida in the bowl game and that kind of thing tends to get you a big perception bump headed into next season. Half the time that's a mirage; Michigan will hope that theirs is legit.
The number one gentleman who needs to come through for Michigan to deliver. That would be one John O'Korn, likely starting quarterback. For months I've mentioned a steady drumbeat of chatter from inside the program that O'Korn was the best QB on the roster. Here's another manifestation of that from Ron Bellamy:
He said from his discussions with the Michigan coaches and the people in the program, John O'Korn "just lit up" the first team defense as the scout team QB everyday in practice. He said he was doing it against Lewis, Peppers, etc and the Michigan defensive coaches told him that O'Korn was going to be a flat out stud.
I'll try to stay calm and reasonable about these reports for the next eight months. And fail.
Let's go wherever, whenever. Harbaugh wants to have a week of spring practice in Florida. Specifically, at IMG, which has started a football program that attracts top recruits from around the country. A solid idea that will infuriate many: welcome to the offseason.
(Harbaugh wants to do it over spring break, naturally, to assuage any academics concerns you might have.)
I might watch it on mute just to see. Harbaugh is going to the state of the union thanks to a couple of congresspersons:
"For me he's the best of what the country should be and is," Dingell told MLive Monday night, pointing to his track record of hard work and teamwork.
Dingell, a Democrat, represents the 12th Congressional District, which includes the University of Michigan. She and U.S. Rep. Justin Amash, a Republican from West Michigan, together agreed to bring Harbaugh and his wife Sarah as guests to the State of the Union on Tuesday.
Each congressperson can invite one guest, so Amash invited Harbaugh and Dingell invited Sarah Harbaugh. Dingell said Amash's office approached hers about hosting the Harbaughs, and she'd have invited him in the first place if she knew he was interested.
Well done… people… in congress?
Seriously, do I have to watch the State of the Union now? I mean, any of these things could happen:
- President shouts out Michigan's football coach
- Harbaugh is invited to give speech
- Harbaugh is not invited to give speech, gives speech anyway
- Harbaugh wears cleats
- Harbaugh nails Joe Biden on a post route
- Harbaugh signs Declaration of Independence, is told that is unnecessary these days, says he has improved document all the same
- camera cuts to Harbaugh gobbling stadium foodstuffs not apparently on sale anywhere in the building
Gentry location. Zach Gentry could be a tight end. He could also be a quarterback. He did a little of the former in the bowl practices but he is not a tight end. Yet.
Gentry was one player who Harbaugh experimented with during bowl practices last month, moving the 6-foot-7, 230-pound true freshman from quarterback to tight end.
An athletic quarterback in high school, Gentry was asked by Harbaugh to give it a shot after the regular season ended. Gentry says he didn't hesitate.
"It was their (idea), but I've been flexible with it," Gentry said last week in Orlando. "Coach Harbaugh and (Jay Harbaugh) wanted to use my athleticism and see what happens. I've been doing it in practice, I think I've done a nice job with it.
"But I'm not sure, exactly, what's going on with my future (and what position I'll play)."
I imagine he'll compete in spring as a quarterback, because Michigan's got an open job. If he ends up clearly behind at least two other guys, tight end becomes a real long-term option. (As does a transfer, unfortunately.) If he's in the running, or even in the top three, you have let him stay at QB. The athleticism that makes him a good tight end prospect is something Harbaugh wants from his QBs—and last night Deshaun Watson made Alabama's defense look silly thanks in large part to his legs.
Rats, what is your opinion of this ship? Penn State lost DC John Shoop to Tennessee. Related: John Shoop ain't got no shame.
Less than two weeks after Bob Shoop told reporters he hoped Penn State would have him "forever and ever and ever," the Nittany Lions' defensive coordinator is leaving the program for the same position at Tennessee.
PSU nearly lost him last year to LSU, whereupon Shoop was given a three-year, near-seven-figure deal. This year Tennessee offers 1.15 million and he's gone. All this further confirms that we should just pay the f-ing players before people in college football start literally drowning in money.
Anyway, the bleeding was and is not over: a few days later Penn State loses OL coach Herb Hand to the same position at Auburn. Today linebacker Troy Reeder announced he's transferring to Delaware after starting 11 games as a redshirt freshman. (Geno Lewis also grad-transferred to Oklahoma but that looks like a garden-variety playing time transfer.)
This all seems less than ideal for James Franklin, who has escaped serious scrutiny so far as Penn State digs out from under NCAA sanctions. Hand was dealt a… nevermind. Hand was put in an enormously difficult spot by those sanctions, which forced him to start two converted defensive linemen at guard. Then he lost the one good lineman he had to the draft last year; getting out makes sense for him.
I just wonder how hot seats get if Penn State's offense struggles again next year and their defense takes a half-step back without most of that defensive line. I'm guessing pretty hot.
Meanwhile in Big Ten teams losing defensive coordinators to SEC teams. Wisconsin's Dave Aranda headed down to LSU, causing Barry Alvarez to grouse about funding.
“The reason they can go up higher (in the SEC) is they’re not supporting as many sports,” Alvarez said. “It’s a difference in philosophy. The Big Ten is known for being more broad-based in its sports offerings. We are committed to supporting a broad-based athletic program. People may dismiss that, but it’s a real thing. They can sink more of their money into football."
At Get The Picture, a commenter points out the differences between Wisconsin and Georgia aren't significant:
What they have that we don’t: 3 rowing teams, wrestling, 2 hockey teams and men’s soccer.
What we have they they don’t (w/o looking to confirm): baseball, equestrian and gymnastics.
LSU is similar. They sponsor gymnastics, beach volleyball, and baseball; Wisconsin does not. Wisconsin sponsors hockey for both genders, wrestling, men's soccer, and rowing. Men's hockey makes money. Wisconsin's added expense for extra teams is more or less rowing—which mostly exists to be a cheap Title IX makeweight. Alvarez is full of it.
At least he's not alone?
…look at where some of the many other Big Ten coordinator hires came from this offseason: Louisiana-Lafayette (Minnesota, offense), Fordham (Penn State, offense), internally (Purdue and Illinois, offense), Northern Illinois (Rutgers, defense), Arkansas State (Maryland, offense) and even a coach who was out of football for a year (Purdue, defense). Maybe those moves will work out brilliantly, but they hardly bring the sizzle that Tennessee and LSU acquired.
On the other hand, Mike Debord.
Meanwhile in literally drowning in money. Hoo boy this makes me furious:
Jim Delany wrecked the Big Ten by adding two makeweight east coast programs that make no sense, destroyed the basketball schedule, made it so Michigan plays half the league once in a decade, and gets rewarded for it because some dillweed in the league office figured out a way to exploit the dying cable monopoly for short-term gain. I mean, I guess that's how things go in a business, but then they turn around and try to justify amateurism.
Meanwhile, the bubble creaks ominously:
Old Dominion and the other 13 Conference USA schools will have to make do with about $500,000 less in television revenue next season.
League TV revenue is likely to fall by about half when new contracts with Fox Sports and the CBS Sports Network take effect on July 1, according to sources at three schools familiar with C-USA’s TV contract negotiations.
The Big Ten is up in a few years. They've got a lot more pull than CUSA, but this might not be the best time for a contract negotiation.
In other news, I now have massive respect for Dane Brugler. CBS analyst Dane Brugler tells Michael Spath that Jake Butt had a shot to be the top tight end in the draft and a second round pick if he came out and picks out—yep—DESMOND MORGAN as Michigan's top eligible player:
:…he was all over the field,” Brugler said. “He was a blitzer, a guy that could play in the middle but play in space. He has lateral range, played sideline to sideline, quick reactions, strings runs out to the perimeter.
“Morgan is a physical player, aggressive but also at the same time, smart. I think he has the best shot to go a bit higher than his teammates. As long as the medicals check out.”
Thank you, Dane Brugler. You and I can ride on the Desmond Morgan bandwagon all the way to the, er, fifth round. Saddle up.
Don Brown defensive resources I haven't had the time to look at yet but will revisit when I do. Ditto Ian Boyd on running your slot receiver down the gut of the MSU defense or Smart Football touching on the same topic.
They said it couldn't be done. As first reported by mgouser Canadian, hockey tickets are actually declining(!) in price this year:
Just got an email informing me that this seasons prices have been reduced. Endzone seats see a 15% drop, sideline 12% and centre ice 10%.
Also I noticed at the bottom of the email that season ticket holders will receive a 20% concession discount before the start of the game (for every home game). This is great news for myself as that's the only time i visit the concession stands (grabbing a bite to eat as I have to rush over right after work).
Wags immediately assert not to click on any links as this email must be written by a Nigerian prince, but no seriously I got it too:
I wonder when the last price drop in one of the big three sports happened. I certainly can't remember one, but you have to figure that basketball was walking back prices at some point during the dark period. Ticket demand for hockey must be very soft, what with two years out of the tournament and basketball going like gangbusters.
There's also an assortment of season ticket holder benefits. While none of them are particularly significant, it is a step in the right direction for a department that has basically laughed at the idea of loyalty since Brandon was installed.
Ty Wheatley tribute. Wolverine Historian releases a new version that's five minutes longer because why not:
A sizeable nerve hit. John U Bacon's article about Michigan's season ticket situation was so popular his server imploded under the pressure, and now Yahoo has asked him to consolidate and refine it for their site. I don't think the headline guy did him any favors by invoking "greed", but if you liked the original you'll find plenty to agree with in the sequel. It also gives me the opportunity to pull another money quote, so here goes:
Yes, advertising in the Big House does matter. Americans are bombarded by ads, about 5,000 a day. Michigan Stadium used to be a sanctuary from modern marketing, an urban version of a National Park. Now it's just another stop on the sales train.
Everything the ticket holders spend hundreds of dollars to wait for and pay for, they can get at home for next to nothing – including the ads -- plus better replays. They can only get the marching band at the Big House.
John might be attempting to set a record for "number of times single piece gets emailed to me," and I think he's just about caught that piece about Gibbons that every MSU/OSU troll in the world sent me.
Just when your life was running low on gravel trucks. Mike Barwis has a reality TV series coming up from the Funny or Die guys, who happen to be fanatical Michigan fans. Barwis is a natural for this, of course.
Well done, Jim. Jim Delany took the stand as an NCAA witness. For the umpteenth time, an NCAA witness went over a bunch of stuff the judge said she wouldn't be considering like the impact on non-revenue sports. Delany also issued more College Is Good statements that make legal analysts rend their garments at their irrelevancy.
That was par for the course. Then Delany firebombed his side's cause:
Delany is tired of athletes being asked to spend all year on voluntary -- read: mandatory -- workouts. He'd like to see athletes get a chance to spend a semester abroad if they chose. He believes they are supposed to be students first. As he said all this, he admitted he remains very much in the minority among the policymakers in college sports on those issues. (Case in point: The schools have recently passed rules allowing football and basketball coaches to spend more time with their players in the offseason.)
That admission from Delany hacked several questions off his cross examination.
The plaintiffs have spent the entire trial trying to prove that in today's NCAA, players are athletes first and students second. The NCAA's attorneys and most of its witnesses have insisted that isn't the case. They say the athletes are students who just happen to play sports. They say allowing football and men's basketball players to sell their name, image and likeness rights would drive a wedge between the athletes and the student body. The plaintiffs contend the wedge was driven long ago and extra money in the pockets of the athletes won't change that. Delany helped them make that case Friday by explaining the reforms he'd like to see that actually would make the players feel more like regular students and then by explaining that they'd get steamrolled if they came up for a vote.
I only have one problem with Andy Staples's article:
Outside of the Big Ten, Delany is massively unpopular. He continually stood in the way of a college football playoff. He essentially claimed an SEC team beat a Big Ten team for a football national title because the SEC team was faster and dumber. He created a cash cow of a cable network while still banging the drum for amateurism.
He is massively unpopular to Big Ten fans as well after adding Rutgers and Maryland.
Meanwhile, in Emmertland. Staples covers Emmert's testimony:
Emmert discussed the "commercial pressures" to use athletes in a variety of ways. "One has to make sure, in an amateur context, that it doesn't go to a place where the student-athletes are in fact being used as nothing more than shills for a product," Emmert said.
Staples got a little snarky. I understand. It's hard not to be. As I've noted before, taking the NCAA's model and trying to justify it in a courtroom leads to progressively increasing levels of cognitive dissonance that end with you going ACK and snarking.
Oh no, what would that be like. Upside to the NCAA enforcement department ceasing to exist, from the NCAA's perspective:
Banowsky (NCAA): It would be "highly-corruptive" if big money boosters, tied to AAU coaches and "South Beach parties", negotiated IP rights.
— Michael McCann (@McCannSportsLaw) June 23, 2014
Dinosaur hit by Google meteor. It must have been grand to be a sportswriter in the days when the collective memory of your readers was about six months long, tops, an you could just recycle your bits ad nauseum in between three-martini lunches. Unfortunately, these days you can just plug "out of touch sportswriter name" and "topic" and verily, thou art exposed.
So when Dan Shaughnessy wrote a "but I don't want to like soccer" piece that seemed 25 years old, it was quickly discovered that the reason it seemed 25 years old is that it actually was. Deadspin:
Hands are what separate man from beast
June 22, 2014
Soccer takes away our hands. This makes the game incredibly skillful and exhausting, but also robs fans of much of the beauty of sport. Hands and opposable thumbs separate us from creatures of the wild.
June 17, 1994
And what's with the hands? How good can any game be when you can't use your hands? Hands are what separate us from the animal kingdom.
July 5, 1990
Finally, there is the hands problem. Hands and thumbs, that's what separates us from the beasts of the jungle.
I'm terrified that I repeat myself too much when I go on about how punting is evil or the NCAA should keel over and die posthaste, because I came of age shaking my head at dudes like Shaugnessy and Rick Reilly who phoned in the same four columns for 20 years.
I used to be really mad at these guys because they were wasting the greatest job in the world. Nowadays it's more contempt than anger. Y'all are still doing this in 2014?
Hockey scouting. Over The Boards collects a bunch of scouting on college-hockey bound gentlemen, touching on a number of Michigan recruits. Zach Werenski, who may be on campus this fall:
He’s deliberate and doesn’t put himself in situations to fail. He doesn’t pick his battles, he just battles smart. His natural abilities, what he’s worked on, continuing to improve, I think the debate is what part of what he does is going to persist to the pro level, but his being well-rounded I don’t think makes him undefined like some toolsy kids that can’t figure out where they put their skills in the toolbox and when to pull them out, you know? He knows what he can do and plays to it: situational awareness.
2016 D Griffin Luce:
“Luce is arguably the best ’98 defenseman in the country. He has great size at 6’3, 200 and plays with an edge, throwing his body around in the corners and in-front of the net in his own end and is a presence on the offensive blueline. Luce moves very well for his size and age and handles the puck effortlessly with hard, crisp, tape to tape passes up ice. He can run the powerplay and with his reach and hockey IQ is an ideal penalty killer as his head is always on swivel and getting his stick out to take away passing lanes."
Luce is projected as a potential first-rounder. 2015 F Kyle Connor gets a brief mention as a kid who has really come on this year. That is understating it a bit. Connor was second in the USHL in scoring this year, highly unusual for a kid his age, and is one of three 2015-ish recruits at the WJC evaluation camp this year. I know Yost Built has been fretting about whether he'll follow through on his commitment, so hopefully this reassures somewhat:
“Growing up, that was my dream school,” said Connor. “I’m a Michigan football fan and Michigan everything, even my parents are big Michigan fans. When I heard they offered me the scholarship it was a no brainer.”
Saginaw drafted him in the 14th round, and they're not known for swooping in on college commits.
I will also take this opportunity to note that UNO has a kid named "Luc Snuggerud" coming in this year. That has to go high up on the list of most hockey names.
Etc.: EMU to install a gray field, start calling Rynearson "the Factory." "Why isn't EMU I-AA?" you ask, because that's what you always ask about EMU.
Harris had ten points on four shot equivalents in last year's matchup.
Open the floodgates. As you've probably heard, WVU transfer Eron Harris got his paperwork and immediately spoke to a gentleman of distinction:
West Virginia transfer Eron Harris has finally received his release. Told ESPN that Michigan's John Beilein has already contacted him today.
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) May 7, 2014
That is quite interesting. Harris, a DO WANT shooter, is essentially a class of 2015 guy who will be super-ready to play with two years of eligibility. But after taking MAAR and Aubrey Dawkins, there's no question that grabbing him seriously impinges on Michigan's ability to promise 2015 kids like Jalen Brunson and Jalen Coleman playing time—and their ability to offer scholarships. (Maybe less so Brunson since he is more of a PG, but with Walton likely still around Michigan's pitch has to center around the two of them playing at the same time.)
Do you grab that guy? Since Michigan's having a hard time holding onto guards for more than a couple years, I would say yup. Harris is also less of a deterrent to the 2016 kids Michigan seems to be doing very well with since he'll be around a maximum of one year after their arrival.
In the flurry of articles following that tweet two things became clear. One, being closer to home is not as much of a priority as the right fit…
"The fit is more important that the location (of the school)," Harris said. "Eron is used to seeing his brothers and family more than he has the past couple years. But if he has to go to New York or California to find the right fit, then that's what he'll do."
…and two, Michigan's going to have to put on its prettiest dress and bat its eyes:
Within two hours of getting his release, Harris had already been contacted by Butler, Indiana and Purdue as well as Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Michigan State, New Mexico, Notre Dame, Ohio State and UCLA.
Harris is a terrific get-your-own-shot shooter who would have an apprenticeship before seeing the floor. If he's fleeing Huggy Bear because of fit, Beilein is pretty much the opposite… and this quote all but begs you to read between the lines:
“It is going to be the place that I can be myself,” said Harris. “I want to be myself. I want to go out there and play basketball and love playing basketball. I am a competitor first, and I want to play instinctively. That is it. I want my coach to respect me and I will respect him."
The art of shade, man.
OPEN THE PRETZEL. One WI SG Brevin Pritzl, a shooting guard out of Wisconsin, blew up over the past couple of weeks of AAU tourneys. This has intrigued Michigan, who's bringing him in for a visit this weekend. An offer is probably not in the offing unless they're really serious about moving on from the dawdling Jalen Coleman, but he's a guy to keep an eye on down the road.
2016 priorities. MI PG Cassius Winston is a highly-rated gentleman in his own right, one who Michigan has a lot of interest in. He's waiting for an offer this summer, but not in June:
“I’m pretty sure, if I know correctly, that I’ll be offered by the end of the summer,” Winston said on Saturday at the Spiece Memorial Run-n-Slam.
To me that says Michigan is going to give Derryck Thornton the first crack before they expand their PG POV. That expresses a level of confidence that Michigan didn't have when they went after Derrick Walton; they offered the other instate PG, Monte Morris, at the same time.
In other Thornton news, current main competitor Arizona picked up their second 2015 commit from a highly-rated PG, which can't hurt.
Hibbity hooblah! It's NFL draft time, hooray. Taylor Lewan will go in the first 15 picks tonight; Jeremy Gallon and Michael Schofield are likely to follow in the next two days. Baumgardner profiles Gallon:
"We've had dozens of guys go off to college and (not make it)) that had circumstances a lot better than Jeremy's," said Rick Darlington, Gallon's former coach at Apopka High School. "He had to fight to get into college. Then he had to fight to stay in college. Then he had to fight to get on the field.
"You look at him now, and it's easy to say he was a great college player in the end. But it was never as easy for him as it was for others. He always had to struggle ... it didn't come easy."
Gallon had to take three classes after his graduation just to get to Ann Arbor, which I know is something that was a problem with admissions. Not in Gallon's specific case, necessarily, but in the sheer numbers of guys Rodriguez recruited that needed serious help. Michigan would not look at Gallon today even if he was 6'4" because hypothetical rising senior Gallon's grades would make them move on.
On the one hand, some guys come through and become Jeremy Gallon. On the other, attrition watch.
In other news, Hoke defends Taylor Lewan again.
I didn't expect anything different, but wow. Various NCAA personages are appearing in front of a congressional committee today to talk about unionization. There is a lot of ludicrous stonewalling like the Stanford AD refusing to state how much his coaches make when you can google it in five seconds—the answer is three million dollars—but nothing quite so faceplam inducing as congressmen taking up irrelevant talking points that have already been eviscerated and left for dead while waving his iPad around:
Congressman Roe: "I just pulled up on my iPad (holds up iPad) that most schools lose money." …
— Kevin Trahan (@k_trahan) May 8, 2014
Congressman Roe then resumed playing Candy Crush Saga before a brief nap, so he missed this riposte:
— Kevin Trahan (@k_trahan) May 8, 2014
People in congress are just in congress for no reason.
Anger bit. Jim Delany talked to USA Today for two extensive pieces, one of which makes me involuntarily shake my fist at nothing in particular when Delany has the balls to make this assertion:
Q: Eight games vs. nine is a hot topic right now. What was the driving force behind the Big Ten going to nine conference games?
A: For us, it's a combination of things. One is the Playoff. Another thing is we're going to get larger (as a conference), we're going to play each other more. We want to be a conference.
Well, you were, Jim. And then somebody had to chase money in a nonsensical way, thanks to the faulty assumption that the current setup wherein sports leagues can involuntarily tax non-fans is going to last in an era of streaming.
This is not a "conference":
What I really like is that every athlete in the Big Ten who plays football will play every opponent inside the four-year period. That's what I like.
That is more of a conference than the SEC's setup where crossover teams without protected rivalries see each other once every six years, but Michigan hasn't played Wisconsin in four years. They may as well be in the Big 12. Going forward they will play the other division less than half the time.
I feel that this has to be intentional trolling. I mean I just…
Michigan's new "historic traditions" football page features an Adidas uniform they wore once. http://t.co/8nwffdIzZi
— Ben Mathis-Lilley (@BenMathisLilley) May 6, 2014
There is subset of MBAs who have their own opposite-day dialect of the English language.
Simplify : offense :: aggressive : defense. "Seven ways that Lane Kiffin will change Alabama's offense" unfortunately doesn't include "make it squintier" but does include this familiar refrain:
3. Playbook simplified
One change won't be too obvious from the seats or living rooms. After playing with in an offense known for complicated terminology, players see a difference in Kiffin's style.
"Some coaches and quarterbacks over-analyze things at times," receiver Amari Cooper said. "Sometimes it can be pitch and catch, let the play-makers make plays."
Cooper, the leading receiver each of the past two years, also likes the in-game adjustments he saw from game film.
"Coach Kiffin calls plays based on matchups and what he sees," Cooper said. "Like I said before, it's a simple offense. If he sees they are in man-to-man coverage and I have a hitch route, it converts if he's close to me, we are going to throw a little fade route and make something out of it."
I really need Al Borges to get hired somewhere so there can be an article about how he's going to simplify offense X.
That article includes obvious balderdash like "finding the playmakers" as if that's a huge overlooked priority for an outfit that saw AJ McCarron throw for 9.1 yards a pop with a 28:7 TD:INT ratio and rushed for 5.8 yards a carry without even removing sacks. But it also gives you some insight into what Nussmeier does:
2. Fullback added
Alabama's been primarily a one-back running team during the Saban era. They used an H-back to help clear the way, but it sounds like the Tide will be using a more traditional fullback in 2014.
Michigan's picked up a one-back offensive coordinator just in time for their four-man fullback crop to ripen. To H-back you go, gentlemen.
Etc.: NFL.com scouting reports are creepy. Remember when John Beilein was not a golden colossus? Why Nick Saban hates the hurry up. Former MI SF AJ Turner is now prepping in NH and might be a guy to keep an eye on if Coleman doesn't work out.
Duke: creating future generations of people who will crush the economy for their personal benefit
WELP. Ace will have a fuller postmortem shortly, but the short version of what happened at Duke: Michigan spent the first half playing offense like the football team not against ND or OSU and dug themselves a hole they could not extract themselves from.
Very frustrating that Duke can extend their defense so aggressively and not give up backdoor cuts, of which I don't think Michigan had a single one all night. I don't get it. A few bullets:
- GRIII is the same guy and has to be seeing his NBA draft stock crumble as teams get a longer look at him and see someone who can stand in the corner and make threes at an acceptable rate and throw down some dunks but do little else, especially as an NBA three.
- LeVert was pretty much the only guy willing to and capable of driving at a set Duke defense to generate shot opportunities.
- Michigan's defense was actually all right, but flattered by a poor shooting night for Duke in the first half. Duke didn't put Michigan in too many situations where they switched, which previously led to a lot of confusion and things like LeVert trying to cover a power forward. This happened maybe once or twice.
- Everyone in the Duke student section looks like the villain from a 1980s teen comedy.
- Sports! Hate you, sports.
Yeah, pretty much. Ross Fulton breaks down what happened in the OSU game on both sides of the ball, noting that OSU often didn't align well and seemed unprepared for some things that Michigan had shown plenty of:
Like Iowa this year or Cal two years ago, Michigan was able to get easy yards by aligning their blocking strength to the boundary and running to the edge. By aligning to the defensive front to the field and failing to adjust, the Buckeyes are outflanked before the snap. For instance, Michigan picked up easy yards by putting their tight end and wing to the boundary and running touch passes to Jeremy Gallon.
In fact, Michigan went so far as to put their tackle to the boundary to run speed option and the Buckeyes still did not adjust. Michigan has previously shown this look (with limited success) this season, but the Buckeyes did not seem to expect it.
I don't know if that's good news or bad news. OSU's defense doesn't seem particularly well-organized (compare throwback/tunnel screens in this game to Michigan's attempt against MSU), which is a good thing in one game per year as long as OSU doesn't make changes. But some of their success being the stuff they'd already put on film that OSU was inexplicably unprepared for is less good than Michigan having a bunch of wizbang.
The proper way to have a vote of confidence. There is exactly one correct way to tell the universe that your embattled head coach isn't going anywhere. It is three sentences of boilerplate in which you strongly endorse the man in charge and say nothing else, because saying anything else is not useful.
For example: "Coach Hoke will be at the University of Michigan next year and for several years after. While this season has been a trying one, Michigan barely had a non-freshman interior offensive lineman on the roster and has to-date retained 51 of 52 recruits in Hoke's first two full classes, providing needed stability after years of turmoil on and off the field. He is the man for the job."
This is short, and crucially does not
MAKE IDIOTIC COMPARISONS TO NICK SABAN
Many don't remember that Alabama finished fourth in its division during Nick Saban's fourth year with the Crimson Tide. At present, Alabama seems to be doing pretty well!!
Nick Saban won a national title in his third year.
USE MULTIPLE EXCLAMATION POINTS LIKE A HIGH SCHOOL GIRL
I imagine the editorial meeting about this spent 15 minutes talking about whether "pretty well" needed two or three exclamation points, with the third getting axed because This Is Michigan and three exclamation points is just not done for anything other than the many and varied accomplishments of the University of Michigan.
BRING UP THE GUY MICHIGAN—***YOU***—WHIFFED ON BECAUSE OF THE PROCESS
Stanford had 4-8, 5-7 and 8-5 records under Jim Harbaugh before reaching its current string of consecutive BCS appearances
ALSO STANFORD WAS 1-11.
THROW A FORMER COACH UNDER THE BUS FOR NO REASON
The senior class was recruited by Coach Carr and had some terrific talent that had simply been underperforming.
Football is simple, says the BTN commercial.
NOT AT ALL INCIDENTALLY THROW DENARD ROBINSON, MIKE MARTIN, JORDAN KOVACS, DESMOND MORGAN, TAYLOR LEWAN AND JAKE RYAN UNDER THE BUS
Seriously, seniors recruited by Lloyd Carr had about 20% to do with that Sugar Bowl season, because his last class was horrendous.
MAKE UNJUSTIFIABLE ASSERTIONS ABOUT THE MOTIVATIONS OF PEOPLE WHO THINK THIS SEASON PUTS BRADY HOKE'S JOB AT RISK
Anyone making efforts to stir up a coaching controversy at Michigan is ill-informed and is likely promoting a personal agenda that is not in the best interest of Michigan Football.
They will be taken to our new Go Blue Gulag in the upper peninsula.
MENTION THE DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR BUT NOT MENTION THE OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR
The transformation and improvement of our defense under the leadership of coach Greg Mattison has been outstanding.
This was taken as a sure sign Borges was getting axed when there has been very little indication that would happen from inside the program. This was not mentioned in the editorial meeting because of the exclamation point discussion.
But, hey, why say what you have to say in 100 words when you can take a thousand?
I HAVE JUST THE SOLUTION. From the NYT's repulsive tongue-bath of Jim Delany:
After the Southeastern Conference expanded to include the University of Missouri and after the Atlantic Coast Conference added the University of Notre Dame (the school’s football program remained independent) and the University of Pittsburgh — both schools within the Big Ten’s geographic footprint — Mr. Delany concluded that the Big Ten was in danger of ceding strategic ground. “We felt threatened,” he said.
The solution was clear.
Mr. Delany countered with the invitations to Rutgers, then of the Big East, and Maryland of the A.C.C.
YOUR MOVE, SEC.
wait youre just going to not do anything
UT San Antonio is out there man
make a move
Speaking of Rutgers…
So much for that theory. I'd ventured that Rutgers might actually become a good program in the Big Ten since New Jersey puts out quite a bit of talent and they would be able to flag down a lot more of it now that they were in a power conference. That prediction was looking pretty good as Rutgers locked down an array of quality local recruits en route to what looked like the best Big Ten recruiting class of the year, non-M-OSU division.
That's now in shambles as Rutgers deals with yet another coach-abuse fallout scandal. Recruits are decommiting in droves after this, which happened a week or two ago:
The incident -- which Jevon Tyree said occurred in April with the Rice fallout still fresh -- happened in front of approximately 10 teammates and a tutor, Jevon Tyree said, and it led to the 19-year-old's escalating ostracization, eventually driving him to quit.
Clarice Tyree called it "an outright bullying episode," and Mark Tyree said the behavior soon "transferred to the other coaches." Jevon Tyree, a redshirt freshman on scholarship, said that after the frightening incident, his standing on the team plummeted, along with practice repetitions and any shot at playing time. He said there were team meetings from which he was excluded.
Four of Rutgers's top recruits have decommited in the aftermath of this going public, including MI QB Tyler Wiegers.
Rutgers is just months removed from firing their basketball coach for flinging basketballs at players' heads and hired an athletic director who had been a coach so hated that most of her last team banded together to release a statement about what a horrible person she was. And no one got the football coaches together and said "hey, let's maybe not call people bitches two inches from their faces." The athletic director in the aftermath:
Look: I don’t know if Hermann is lying. I only know that her response, when I asked her on Saturday morning if she had indeed talked to Mark Tyree, was less than convincing.
This was the answer: “Yeah. Somebody – if it’s not him, who calls me and informs me of it? Otherwise I wouldn’t know about it. So I’m not trying to call – I’m not trying to use big words like the words he’s using, but I’m informed by him, to my knowledge. If it’s not him, who’s calling me?”
People in charge of things are just in charge of them, possibly for no reason. In Rutgers's case, definitely for no reason.
Hockey commits. Michigan picked up a couple of future hockey players over the last few days. Cooper Marody is a '96 forward who is probably a 2015 recruit in his first USHL season; he's got 5-11-16 in 23 games and is second in the USHL for his age cohort in that department. SBN College Hockey notes he's a "blazingly fast skater" at six-foot-even. And I think this commitment is going to stick, you guys.
— Cooper Marody (@MarodShow12) December 1, 2013
-- Griffin Luce, the son of Florida Panthers (NHL) director of scouting Scott Luce, has decided on Salisbury. The St. Thomas, Ontario native, a top ‘98 defenseman who could be selected in the 1st round of the OHL draft next year, played for the Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs this past season. Will be joined at Salisbury by his brother, Harrison Luce, who will be a PG.
The elder Luce played at Colgate, and they obviously know all about Griffin's options, so this is also a commitment that's relatively OHL-proof. Google knows nothing else about Luce, as is often the case for super-young hockey commits, especially defensemen.
Etc.: Charles Pierce on The Game.
Bo. Via MGoVideo:
Playoff bits. So now the Big Ten is saying "screw playoffs altogether." Jim Delany is advocating for the four best teams in any playoff that does occur, and everyone hates the system of voting we have in place now. Delany:
“Everybody recognizes that the present poll system is not a good proxy,” he said. “It’s flawed, it’s not transparent, it has people who have a stake in the outcome voting, it measures teams before they play a game.”
I hope Bill Hancock has a fainting couch.
At this point it's clear that most fans don't have the same priorities in mind as the people in charge of the leagues they're fans of—see SEC expansion—and arguing with them on the internet is pointless. It's like trying to communicate with sentient mushrooms. Their desires are so alien that attempting to comprehend them leads to you shooting railguns at a distant planet for no reason other than fear.
Whatever happens, we can be assured that everyone was in favor of it at some point. Even the generally sober folks employed by actual newsgathering organizations are getting peeved at this point. Adam Rittenberg:
"A computer doesn't have an eye," Delany said. "So an eye test is missing if there is an injury" or other issues with a contender. Delany also said the impetus for change is that the BCS "has been battered and criticized" and treated "like a piñata" for the past 15 years. So to reiterate: The Big Ten's No. 1 preference would be to keep a current system that everybody hates and which uses a totally bankrupt formula to select its teams. Gotcha.
Sentient mushrooms, man.
IRONY EXPLODE. Dave Brandon, one of the Big Ten's most prominent complainers about a playoff:
"Every change I have ever proposed has been met with resistance," Brandon told the crowd… "I don't care what it is, any change that's been proposed, this has been a culture that wants to resist it, because we all want to go back to the way it was when we were there because that's friendly and that's comfortable."
Notice how he switches back to "I" from "we" when he's talking about all the great stuff he does and not the fact that six different uniforms in a season may have been a tiny bit excessive.
No move. UConn's AD has restated that the Huskies will not move their return game scheduled for next year from their home field. That's fine by me but now the UConn bloggers are looking at the $2 million buyout clause and wondering if the game will ever be played. I'd guess it will since there's not a whole lot of time to find a suitable replacement, but Brandon's had occasional grumbles about the indignity of playing at such a place since he arrived.
UConn's ace in the hole may be their athletic director. They hired Michigan alum Warde Manuel away from Buffalo, so Michigan may be more willing to go through with things.
Incoming pointage. Those Indiana junior/senior All-Star scrimmages have kicked off and the first one featured a lot of the above-pictured activities. Glenn Robinson III was 9 of 10 from the field en route to leading his team in scoring. He also added seven rebounds in 22 minutes. Junior rep Zak Irvin was his team's leading scorer as well, though he didn't shoot as well as GRIII.
Pee and flee. A couple of OSU players are suspended indefinitely—or at least until they pick up their whatever misdemeanor plea bargains—for urinating on the side of a building, then taking off when the cops arrived:
Police in Shawnee Hills, Ohio, a Columbus suburb, spotted the two players and a third man not connected to the football team early Saturday urinating outside a restaurant near Stoneburner’s house, located just off the course at Muirfield Village Golf Club.
Collins said the men dashed away when they saw a spotlight, unknowing it belonged to police. He said Mewhort and Stoneburner stopped about 40 yards away from the restaurant and did not attempt to hide.
This is not interesting—it's no defensive tackle Dukes of Hazzard attempt. I just wanted to call it "pee and flee." BONUS: these guys were peeing on the side of a building mere feet from a thicket dense enough to hide in. Sounds like they need to take OSU's Andy Katzenmoyer Memorial Drunken Decisionmaking 101.
Kind of good. A re-rank of the top 100 basketball prospects from last year finds Trey Burke in rarefied air:
5. Trey Burke, Michigan (84)
Along with Cody Zeller, Burke was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year and second team All-Conference. He and Zeller are also, comfortably, the top two freshmen returning to school this fall. Burke came out of nowhere (or, at least, the "obscurity" of the non-McDonald's All-American section of the ESPNU Top 100) to be a superstar do-it-all point guard for an NCAA tournament No. 4 seed. He scored often, he scored efficiently, he passed, and he took care of the basketball. The Wolverines' round of 64 loss to Ohio shouldn't alter the fact that Burke had a fabulous season. Michigan returns their three key players from 2012 and adds a pair of recruits capable of making an immediate impact. There's a reason expectations for 2013 are high.
Cody Zeller is the only guy higher than him who will be in college next year.
Like Coke, but fast. Drake Johnson tells a delightfully weird story about Fred Jackson to Kyle Meinke:
"I'm sitting in his office, and there was a fridge right over there, and he's like, 'You hungry?'" Johnson said. "I'm like, 'No man, I'm not hungry.' So he's like, 'OK, I'm going to grab myself a Coke.' So he grabs himself a Coke and he sits down.
"He takes maybe two sips, and he's like, 'Hey Drake, you want something to drink?' And I'm like, 'No, I'm still good.' He's like, 'I think I'm going to get myself an orange juice.' I'm like, 'Dude, you have a Coke in front of you.' He says, 'It's fine.'
"So I'm sitting there, and maybe two minutes later, he's like, 'I think I'm going to get myself a drink,' and I'm like, 'Coach, you already got two drinks in front of you, man! Your thirst can be quenched by what's in front of you.'
"He says, 'I'm just going to grab myself some water. You want some water?' And I'm like, "Nooo, I have Gatorade in my hand, guy. It's fine.'"
My thirst cannot be quenched by what's in front of me, Drake. What is satiation? THE MOMENT BEFORE YOU'RE THIRSTY AGAIN. Now let me tell you about how you are a taller, quicker version of Jim Brown. /dondraper'd
Suggestion box. Cover It Live has decided to charge out the nose for use of its product. Running Signing Day liveblog alone would now cost $300. It would have cost the site almost a thousand dollars last November. All this for a moderated chat system. This is clearly not a good use of funds, so I'll be looking for alternatives. Let me know if you know of any.
Etc.: Will Campbell's hood-crumpling registers in the Fulmer Cup. Pro Combat uniforms for Northwestern. More on Big Ten baseball's tough spot. NHL draft roundup from MHN. Holdin' The Rope on the Denard play. The first one. You know, that one. We need a nickname for it. Shoelace in the dirt or something. Mark Donnal invited to the NBPA camp. Can we stop giving credit to Jim Delany's amazing foresight when the conference he's piloting has won two national titles in fifty years?
Please don't take offense at clearly manufactured Queensbury-style smack-talk emanating from real journalists at ESPN. None of the journalists cares one whit about anything that is not the relevance of the serial comma in today's fast-paced society.
Brady Hoke's Pet Viking mgoshirt? Yes, at the WTKA Mott Takeover.
be like Steve Everitt without killing a moose with your bare hands
Steve Everitt forever.
Also, Everitt described bounties surfacing during his long NFL career.
Super-regional ho. Congratulations to the softball team, which dramatically came from behind in their tournament opener, then shut the door on top seed Louisville to win their first road regional in a long, long time. The dramatic finisher in Michigan's second consecutive walk-off win… a hit by pitch. The win that finished the weekend off was a more comfortable 4-0 affair.
They'll initiate what appears to be a series of Michigan-Alabama bragging rights contests in a super-regional in Tuscaloosa next weekend. Winner hits the WCWS.
Yes. Do you believe in improbable sporting outcomes. Go. Go. USA. Pam Ward, deadener of Big Ten noon games since time began, is no longer doing college football on ESPN. This will result in marginal improvement, and probably fewer nasty comments about injured players.
Since ESPN started shoehorning Beth Mowins into college football games she didn't seem to know much about last year, the emphasis is on marginal. Insanely fun things were happening in the Northwestern-Illinois game last year and she busted out "it's a Persa party in Champaign!" I'm pretty sure this is not plain ol' misogyny and I have good reason to think both of the female announcers put on Big Ten games are not so good.
He's pretty fast. That would be Jehu Chesson, the lanky 6'3" wide receiver from Missouri who signed in February. The main knock on Chesson was his speed, something his recent track exploits are bringing into question. Chesson won the 300M hurdles (37.73), 110M hurdles (14.55), and 100M dash (10.79) at his sectionals. As mentioned, he also wears cool sunglasses doing this.
According to the recruiting rankings, Michigan hasn't done as well at wide receiver as they have at just about every other spot on the field, but I wouldn't be surprised if that was not a problem during the careers of Chesson and Amarah Darboh.
Yes, do it. The plausible deniability that saw Butch Davis emerge from the UNC NCAA scandal without a show-cause penalty despite the fact that one of his assistant coaches was operating as a runner for an agent may go away in the near future:
Under the current NCAA bylaw, a head coach is "presumed" to have knowledge of what is occurring in his program and "can be responsible" for the actions of his assistants.
The proposed change would do away with presumption. It would make the head coach responsible for his assistants' actions regardless of his knowledge of them. The penalties would range from 5 to 100 percent of competition in a season.
The NCAA included in the discussion material some examples of behavior for which a head coach would be held accountable, such as in-person, off-campus contacts with a recruit during a dead period, providing team gear to a recruit, or multiple phone calls or contacts when they are not allowed.
This is part of a larger overhaul mentioned a few months ago in this space that could see penalties become predictable and massive, but right now that's a long, long way from becoming reality. It's in the "special committee" stage—ie, a spitballing group throwing stuff at the wall without considering how feasible passing it is.
Not enough data, so everyone makes big. Ex-NFL players are dying at a rate half that of the general population after they retire and are 59 percent less likely to commit suicide. May want to slow down on the concussion panic. Small sample size disclaimers apply to that study, but they apply just as much to the panic side of the equation:
We don't need the CDC numbers to tell us that the national debate over head trauma and suicide has long since outpaced the scientific evidence. Just a handful of cases so far support the notion that repeated head injuries (concussive or otherwise) can lead to drug abuse, aggression, and self-harm. No one knows the baseline rate of chronic traumatic encephalopathy among athletes, let alone the general population. No one knows whether the pathological signs of CTE—microscopic spots in the brain, found after death—relate to behavioral symptoms like dementia and depression. And no one can explain how repeated knocks to the head might produce CTE, or how CTE might produce suicidal thoughts. Yet in spite of our near-total ignorance, a moral panic has taken hold: Elaborate explanations are concocted when simple ones will do. Faced with the regrettable facts—a troubled man dies a lonely death—we resort to hocus-pocus theorizing about tau proteins and fibrillary tangles. It's a form of denial: By obsessing over hidden trauma, we ignore what's right in front of us. Many ex-NFL players have sad and difficult lives.
The concern over concussions is taking the usual route of a moral panic, where some stuff happens and some tenuous data connects things to stuff so things are condemned because stuff is bad. Then some more people look at other data and say things might not be that connected to stuff after all, and everyone moves on to the next thing. See: alar, fat people, etc. This is the phase where the noise overtakes the signal and Something Is Done that may or may not affect a problem that may or may not exist.
BONUS: ex-NFL players are really good at not getting tuberculosis.
We have a second challenger. Patrick Vint of Black Heart Gold Pants takes a swing at defending the Big Ten's retreat from home playoff sites. The argument boils down to "remember the last time we all taunted Jim Delany?"
Everything Jim Delany has done as commissioner of the Big Ten -- especially since the summer of 2007 -- has been in pursuit of long-term advantage to the conference as a whole, and its individual teams only by way of that. The Big Ten Network was supposed to be a money-losing catastrophe that nobody would watch and even fewer would pay to see. After a year and a half of publicly negotiating/ridiculing/screaming at Comcast and Mediacom, Delany had transformed it into a massive cash cow, making the Big Ten schools richer than those in the SEC, the Big 12, the Pac-10, and every other conference. When the SEC responded by signing a big new TV deal with ESPN, it still didn't make the Southern schools as much money as their Northern rivals.
Delany used his newfound financial leverage, and a not-so-subtle call for expanding the conference, to bring the biggest collegiate sports programs in the country to his door. He damn near disemboweled the Big 12 in the process, causing an insurrection that fired Dan Beebe and landed Nebraska within his conference's ranks, all while we were all losing our minds over Rutgers and Pitt. When the Nebraska regents voted unanimously to cut ties with 100 years of tradition because the financial pull of Big Ten membership was too great to deny, Delany was there, emerging from behind the curtain and shaking hands with Osborne and Perlman like Hollywood Hogan joining the Outsiders. A year later, Delany's SEC rival was picking up Big Ten reject Missouri to fill out his own expansion process, an expansion that made his conference exactly zero more dollars and done solely because the Big Ten had done it first.
It's a good point. Vint also notes that the difference here is four Big Ten home games since the inception of the BCS, which is not a big huge deal.
Where he loses me is with the assertion that the Big 12-SEC Never Happening Bowl is the revelation of the master plan:
Delany gave up on four home games in fourteen years, but what he got was hard to understand -- we already had the Rose Bowl, after all -- until the SEC and Big 12 announced their own end-of-season bowl game Friday. With that, Delany's plan became evident. With the conferences poised to create a four-team tournament (as Delany and his athletic directors repeatedly stated this week, the four-team maximum is a deal-breaker) within the confines of the bowl system, Delany, Slive, Larry Scott, and whoever's running the Big 12 now, as heads of the four premiere football conferences, had just effectively locked themselves into the final four. More importantly, Delany had locked out the ACC and Big East (and Notre Dame, for that matter), the other two BCS bowl games, and the distinct possibility of two teams from the same conference making the tournament. There will be four champions in the playoffs, and with the two semifinal bowls effectively set as the Rose and (presumably) SEC-Big 12 Sugar, Delany has ensured that a Big Ten champ will be one of them. That's fourteen spots in fourteen years, with none of them in an opponent's stadium (unless UCLA makes it to the Rose Bowl) (LOL).
Um. The Big 12-SEC game is specifically around in the event that the champions of those conferences aren't in the playoff. There is no bracketed final four that cuts out the ACC or Big East. So… what we're left with is the Big Ten giving up the idea because the… because it's… because the Rose Bowl. There is no way the BCS cuts out smaller conferences, because they'll get sued. Virginia Tech, Miami, and Florida State? Forget it. Notre Dame, if Notre Dame is ever relevant again? Come on.
Protecting the Rose Bowl at all costs is just another example of why the Big Ten finds itself where it is relative to other conferences: richer, but unable to leverage that wealth into on-field success.
Etc.: Get the Picture notes that the Ed O'Bannon lawsuit survived a motion to dismiss and seemingly got some support from the judge for the larger trial in the process. Expect more Gardner this fall. Other Big Ten ADs think playing at home is a good idea. Rob Bolden may finally be exiting Penn State.