that makes one of us
I guess I can't be mad at the Dispatch any more. Because we're doing it to ourselves:
If it motivates the players, great. I never want to see it again.
That's one way to put it. How are things on the Michigan State offensive line? Deep. Peachy. Deeply peachy:
Spartans depth sparks offensive line competition
This is their depth:
Converted defensive tackle Dan France has emerged as the leading candidate at left tackle, but the battle at center and right tackle are far from decided.
Redshirt freshman Travis Jackson and junior Blake Treadwell, another converted defensive tackle, are running neck-and-neck at center, while redshirt freshman Skyler Burkland and junior college transfer Fou Fonoti are fighting for the top spot at right tackle.
Er. France was flipped from OT to DT last year despite being 6'6" and now returns to be the starting left tackle. That is a hell of a position switch starter. This was his status in January:
"But in the bowl practice, I was struggling," he said. "I didn’t know the (blocking) techniques and footwork. I never had done pass blocking before. I mean, I sort of did (at tight end) in high school, but I didn’t have any technique or really know what I was doing."
Kirk Cousins might be under siege this year. Let's hope so, because if someone were to bold Michigan's secondary it wouldn't be much prettier.
Hey, here's a Michigan football coach talking. I wonder if he's going to talk about "violence," "toughness," "being physical," and "being consistent":
No, he mostly talked about cheese. Cheese and Will Campbell's pad level.
Of course not. Some news organization I can't be bothered to look up—oh this article says it's the Seattle Times—posted the shocking news there was a Pac-10/Big 10 "consensus" in favor of a plus one game. This was shocking for a little while until it was debunked. Or at least sort of debunked. Check out Jim Delany's reply to that:
"To describe the ADs as supportive, I would call that erroneous," Delany said.
Masterful weaseling right there. This on further expansion, at least, is a straightforward declaration they're not interested:
"No, we're about as comfortable as we can be with where we are," Delany said. "We've said we will continue to monitor the landscape, but we have closed down active expansion. Every period you look at it, but we don't expect anything the SEC does to affect us."
I'm increasingly irritated at the media reports predicting Superconferenceageddon without bothering to figure out whether adding teams like Pitt and Missouri helps or hurts the bottom line. The burden of proof is on people predicting unwieldy, tradition-hurting behemoths but all we get is "this is totally happening because it's an arms race!"
Yes, yes, TV markets blah blah. At times like these I think about Lloyd Carr in his last couple years sighing disgustedly whenever the subject of money came up in press conferences. He believed placing it above all other goals was destructive, he's looking prophetic at the moment.
Zing. I was just hoping Jerry Hinnen would drop some more twitter bombs on the SEC so I could post them up, and then he did:
Gotten the feeling that if Scott and Delany jumped off a bridge, SEC fans would gripe that Slive should have been the one jumping first. "We can't afford to react. You have to be proactive when it comes to bridge-jumping!"
Adding Nebraska had a purpose. Adding A&M to the SEC just dilutes it.
Downing disagreement. Retweets coming from Michigan Hockey Net and Yost Built over the course of the recent Five Nations tournament were rapturous about 2013 D commit (and team captain) Michael Downing. Examples from tourney observer @twharry:
The difference between Downing and DeAngelo is vast. I had no idea Downing was this good. He plays like a vet.
Michael Downing is having another very strong two-way game. Comparing him to Merrill may be unfairly lofty, but they are strikingly similar.
Breakaway going the other way. DeAngelo was way out of position. Luckily Downing was there to cover and Demko made the stop.
FWIW, talked to an ex-teammate of Downing today from CC - said he's the real deal, nat. skill set but little rough around the edges at times
When one of my friends checked out the Friday game he compared Downing to Nick Lidstrom. Apparently the US team was so confident in his positioning they would often send the other defenseman up the ice to pressure the Swiss. A local diary praised his game as well.
So of course a couple scouting reports are mixed at best, contradict the above, and contradict each other. WCH:
Michael Downing has had a very good summer--including locking down a scholarship to Michigan--which has helped turn him into one of the top defensive prospects in the US for his age group. He appears to have loads of potential with a big frame and nice skating, but still has a pretty long ways to go when it comes to decision-making and handling the puck. The pace of play here looked a little faster than what he was used to, which took him out of his comfort zone and forced him to make some bad turnovers. Not many players have things completely figured out by age 16 though, and with a little more experience, he has a chance to develop into a very nice player.
And the United States of Hockey:
Michael Downing - Canton, Mich. — The big defenseman served as the captain for this U.S. outfit. He’s pushing 6-foot-3, but has some good mobility and offensive instincts. Despite the size, however, Downing was getting out muscled and hit hard by smaller players. The more muscle he can tack on, the better in the coming years. He’ll also need to do a better job in his own end, but he appeared to improve defensively as the tournament went on. Despite the defensive deficiencies, I really liked his offensive game. If he can develop defensively, he could be a. pretty solid blueliner down the road. Draft eligible in 2013
Another Burns tweet did mention Downing needs to fill out quite a bit, so at least there's some consistency there. Downing maintains he's 110% committed to Michigan and is not a goalie, so he'll probably show up. I'm actually drawing a blank on the last Michigan D commit to skip out for the OHL before he hit campus. Seems like it's a F/G thing.
The Blip …is what I called the 2008 Wisconsin game in last year's Plays of the Decade feature. It was a briefly intoxicating lie about how good that team could be that presaged the less brief but no less deceitful starts the next two years; as such it's both an emblem and an enormous outlier.
Holdin' the Rope takes us way back when:
I sat and wondered how we could spring a comeback from so much flailing incompetence. I had faith, but it was that kind of belief that eats at itself if exposed to the light.. It's propped up by rubber bands and paper clips and a little bit of measured delusion and naivete.
Somehow, Michigan pulled itself together and willed themselves through a halfway decent touchdown drive in the third quarter, capped by Kevin Koger's first touchdown reception. A promise of a bright future. Michigan went down the field on the arm of Steven Threet, the legs of Sam McGuffie and Kevin Grady, and the hands of Martavious Odoms and Greg Mathews. Greg's last name only had one "t," but people managed to always get it wrong, and they probably still do. This wasn't Henson, Terrell, Walker, and A-Train. It wasn't Henne, Manningham, Arrington, and Hart. It wasn't Navarre, Braylon, Avant.
Etc.: Notre Dame is taking its sweet time figuring out where its hockey team is going to hang out. MGoMix is going with songs 1-5 and 6-10. Trailer for the Willis Ward movie is good. Shakin' the Southland's DrB talks 3-4, 4-3 under, and multiple fronts. Money quote:
In the one-gap 3-4, you have a blend of the 4-3 and the older two-gap system. You can take a guy that is a ‘tweener’ and put him at DE or OLB. You can take heavy interior linemen that are skilled at pass rushing, and put them at DE positions even if they don’t run 4.6-4.7 in the 40. The fact that it is a one-gap system and easier to teach means they can rush the passer without regard for the linebackers and put what talent they do have to good use.
I do not advocate the one-gap 3-4 over the 4-3, each has its uses. I do prefer the one-gap over the 2-gap version because it disguises the bubbles in the front better, and is simpler to teach. I'm all for adding fronts that simply teach guys new places to stand without actually changing everything they're doing. In most cases, the fronts are exactly the same, but with different personnel.
Great. Let's never do this again. Because it's June and someone had a pretty good idea for June, the Big Ten Network had its own awards show. They named Denard Robinson the breakout player and possessor of the "most dominant performance," that his 500+ yards against Notre Dame. Michigan 67, Illinois 65 was Game of the Year:
There wasn't much competition—the other candidates were Wisconsin's 13-point win over OSU and a basketball game.
Something interesting might happen next time. The NCAA hockey rules committee didn't do much other than the bi-annual point of emphasis about this or that (this time around it's hits to unsuspecting players and diving), but there are four interesting things under consideration for the next cycle:
- Four-on-four OT. This is "strongly" under consideration along with other methods to get a winner including a lengthened OT period. Shootouts will continue to be allowed, but support for mandating them is "limited."
- Awarding obviously imminent goals if the net is dislodged by the defense. This may be in direct response to an event at the Big Chill:
Michigan State did score, though. They put in a power play goal when a puck deflected high off Hunwick and fluttered to the goal line to be batted in, but a nanosecond before that happened Hunwick fell into the net and knocked it off. While the refs got the call right, it was totally unfair: you definitely scored, you didn't do anything to get the net off, and you still get nothing. They should probably change it so that if your goal is imminent when the defense knocks the net off you still get it.
I'm in favor, obviously.
- Dumping cages for visors. This is mostly to look as cool as CHL players. Red was in favor of this, IIRC, but I have a hard time seeing it pass in the safety-first NCAA.
- Allowing hand passes everywhere or disallowing them entirely. At first blush allowing hand-passes in the defensive zone only does look weird but I think this is one of those rules that evolved over time to be the least annoying option. Allowing a guy on the ground to slide a puck to a teammate for a goal seems ridiculous to me; banning defensive-zone hand passes will just mean more whistles since players will do it anyway. The alternative—an ugly turnover by a guy not in position to recover—is worse.
Sadly, the hockey rules committee remains ignorant to the existential threat posed by too many offsides whistles.
Hockey now plz. That exhibition against a Canadian team is going to be the most exciting exhibition against a Canadian team ever:
Brandon uber alles. I hope to yell "I CAN SEE YOUR PORES, WHICH ARE CALM AND EXCELLENT PORES, LET ME TELL YOU" at Jon Merrill next year.
Yost yesterday, Yost today, Yost tomorrow, Yost forever. It's kind of a duh statement to make after Yost has just had its fifth renovation since the mid-90s approved, this one a 14-million-dollar one, but Yost Ice Arena is not going anywhere. Red:
“I think Michigan has been really happy with our building and our program for the most part and they’d like to maintain that at this point,” Berenson added. “I think they like Yost so much that they don’t see a reason to build another building. And so, if we like Yost that much, well then why don’t we fix it up?”
This renovation costs twice as much as the other four combined and with the new scoreboard is a definitive statement Yost is the future for the hockey program for at least the next 20 years.
This might be surprising coming from a guy who is militantly pro-tradition, but I have some mixed feelings about that. A lot of Yost's sightlines are sub-optimal and the weird overhang from the club seats/press box means the last few rows are surprisingly bad places to see a game in a 7,000 seat arena. That'll be even more true next year when people stuck in those seats are peering at the 90's-vintage tube TVs used as a substitute for the scoreboards. Whenever I go to Munn I think "this is a nice building even if it is filled with zombie monks" because there are many fewer bad seats.
I'm not sure if this is even possible but if they want to maintain the building as is without it being so cramped they might want to think about lowering the ice surface ten feet or so, which would allow them to reclaim those rows at the back of the arena and make the seating steeper to provide better viewing angles.
Let's destroy college baseball to save it. Man, Jim Delany has some crazy ideas about college baseball:
Perception says the Big Ten doesn't care about baseball. But no administrator in America has pressed harder to revamp the system. Delany's biggest ideas:
• Adopt a national start date in March or April and move the season deeper into summer.
• Devalue the RPI, which favors Sun Belt schools.
• Ditch the current method of national seeding and return to regional qualification for the College World Series.
College baseball's answer: No. No. No.
Then, last summer, Delany formally proposed the CWS move from eight teams to 10, with the two new slots reserved for cold-weather schools. Cold shoulder again.
“I've got no more proposals,” Delany told the World-Herald. “I'm out of ideas. What else can we possibly do?”
There is one alternative. Delany expresses interest — though he hasn't officially proposed it — in an even bolder plan: Secede from the South. Form a new college baseball division. Compete for a different national championship.
"Hey, guys, I know you think this is insane and want to spit on my grave, which is in Transylvania next to Joe Paterno's, but wait until you hear these proposed Division names…
wait for it…
wait for it…
this is so exciting…
Leotards and Leopards."
The article linked above follows that list of wacky ideas up with a lot of Southerners laughing at Jim Delany and telling him he's killing his conference by not allowing oversigning. Southerners reading this post may have just involuntarily done the "just like football clapclaplclap" chant.
BONUS WEIRD ITEM: Jim Delany's first presentation to the NCAA about equity in baseball was made one day before 9/11. #coincidenceithinknot
(HT: The Bylaw Blog.)
Etc.: TSN's final NHL draft rankings are a little more down on John Gibson than most—he's 37th, one spot in front of OHL defector Lucas Lessio—but surprisingly include D commit Brennan Serville at #60. They don't have a picture or explanation for this, but that's quite a rise from Canisius commitment to fringe second rounder.
Doctor Saturday profiles Nathan Scheelhaase, the main reason Illinois is a potentially frightening opponent next year. Eamonn Brennan on Michigan basketball's sudden turnaround. The Daily profiles Zach Hyman.
Slick. You have to give Dave Brandon this: when he says he's going to "create the future," he's not kidding. The future is very, very corporate, which means that while we have to deal with retro-futuristic horror gimmicks we also get a Crisler Arena that isn't a dank cave:
That's the key artist's rendering from the just-approved $52 million renovation of Crisler: a concourse that looks… like… nice. There's a bunch of other stills you can check out at UMHoops; the overall result should be an arena on par with the rest of the Big Ten. The program is already headed that way without recruits being able to talk into the swanky new digs.
While hiring Brady Hoke seemed questionable, it was nowhere near the level of bumbling required to give Brian Ellerbe the job or let the department fall into a situation where compliance reports simply weren't being generated. Hopefully that's part of the past even if Brandon continually refers to the Michigan athletic department as "I".
Reverse lockout. I was trying to will Darius Morris back to campus next year and therefore thought his decision to go this year wasn't a good one. In retrospect that's obviously wrong. Morris's strong pre-draft workouts have him solidly in the first round and even if that wasn't the case now was the time to strike with a lottery-scaring lockout keeping a half-dozen kids obviously in front of him in school:
Even though many felt another year at Michigan would improve his stock, Morris took the leap when players such North Carolina forward Harrison Barnes and Ohio State forward/center Jared Sullinger decided to stay in school.
That upped Morris' stock.
"That definitely played a part in my decision," Morris said.
Morris could get a lot better and not see his stock increase in a post-lockout draft featuring 1.5 years of lottery picks.
Of course, Morris could be having strong pre-draft workouts and still have the option to come back if the NCAA hadn't done away with that to make coaches feel better, or something. If Morris's strong pre-draft workouts were in fact crappy pre-draft workouts that locked him into the second round, boy would we be shaking our fists at the sky even harder now.
Also. Not that anyone who needs to be told this is amongst the people who can be reasoned with, but:
Once Morris declared, though, he experienced some backlash from fans who felt Michigan was primed to take a huge leap in 2011-12. But, he felt he was prepared for the criticism. He saw it happen with former teammate Manny Harris, who left last year after his junior season.
"It didn't get to me, I experienced it all my life," Morris said. "You do think about it, when your biggest fans instantly turn on you. It comes with the territory with the Michigan fan base."
That's probably not the best reputation for the school to acquire. I'm talking to you, 14-year-olds on twitter.
1889! Doctor Saturday was wandering along the Bentley's pages looking for anything that could conceivably be a precedent for Michigan's throwback-type uniforms when he discovered the raw sex that is Michigan 1889:
The dude in the middle claims to be a Ben Boutwell but is obviously time-travelling Devandra Barnhart. Also the guy on the bottom right is supposedly named "Horace Prettyman," which come on.
Nine games. BHGP has an excellent post on the pros and cons of the move to a nine-game conference schedule. One objection:
It still wouldn't eliminate the bodybag games. For all the lip service that's been paid to the notion that adding a ninth conference game would eliminate the games against the likes of Bumblefuck Tech that everyone hates -- no one has yet been able to offer up any clear examples of just how they would make the new system work. They want nine conference games AND seven home games (which is a non-negotiable point, according to multiple sources) AND they want to reduce the number of cupcake opponents that (most) teams play from two to one.
One man's objection to that objection via The Sporting News:
Ladies and gentlemen, we give you the Big Ten’s best attempt yet at following the SEC: Of 48 possible nonconference games, the Big Ten has 14 games against BCS schools — only five of which are road games (10 total road games among the 48). And we’re not done yet.
Most teams play three bodybag games right now. The Big Ten averages of just over one BCS opponent per team. Are those going to go away if a nonconference game is removed? Maybe somewhat but probably not much. Several of the games are perennials, anyone aiming for a national title is going to have to have a reasonable nonconference opponent just for the look of things, and these days the financial advantages of body-bag games and lower-tier bowls are nonexistent for teams on the bottom of the totem pole. The overall number of games worth caring about will increase. Maybe not on a 1:1 ratio, but significantly.
Machiavellian. Jim Delany sort of offhandedly mentioned he'd like to give football and basketball players—maybe even more than that—scholarships that cover the full "cost of attendance," which apparently they don't at the moment. Eyebrow Mount Doom speaks:
"Forty years ago, you had a scholarship plus $15 a month laundry money," Delany said. "Today, you have the same scholarship, but not with the $15 laundry money.
"How do we get back more toward the collegiate model and a regulatory system that is based more on student-athlete welfare than it is on a level playing field, where everything is about a cost issue and whether or not everybody can afford to do everything everybody else can do?" Delany asked.
That's estimated to be another 2-5k per year per scholarship, which you can ballpark around 300k. That's chump change for big schools and a big problem for smaller ones. The usual hue and cry about a "level playing field" has been anticipated and argued with even though no one takes it seriously. (Right? I mean, find me a recruit who picked Conference USA over the SEC or the MAC over the Big Ten*.) This would no more upset the balance of power than having teams that pack 100k fans into a stadium play South Alabama.
Meanwhile, at big schools that's money that's going to coaches right now instead of guys putting their future health at risk (at least to some extent). They should totally do it, not because it's good for power conferences—it's exactly the same for power conferences—but because it's Justice(!).
*[Yes, I know some guys ended up at UCF or something. When the percentage of guys who end up at smaller conferences with legit options at a BCS conferences creeps over 1% then you can badger me. Imaginary pedant is so into pedantry.]
This is fun when it's not happening to you. Yes, it is.
Etc.: Mets Maize asks "is that my boner or yours?" about Brady Hoke's recruiting spree. Zach Hyman says he wants to stay four years, which everyone says. He was headed to Princeton, though, so maybe take that a bit more seriously than you would otherwise.
aaargh unnecessary comma
When Twitter blew up at noon I figured something inane involving Jim Delany had just happened—this is my default assumption whenever Twitter blows up and has always been right, even when Michael Jackson died—and good lord, inane doesn't even begin to cover it. You know this by now but to remind you that the people in charge of marketing the Big Ten are either very stupid or think you are very stupid, the Big Ten Divisions are called "Legends" and "Leaders."
So. A group of people responsible for turning the Big Ten Network into a spigot of filthy lucre so gushing it can afford to employ Chris Martin is also responsible for making the Big Ten the Successories Conference. They've created division names that signify nothing about the teams inside of them—the only way I can remember that Michigan is in the "Legends" division is that "Leaders" is part of the friggin' fight song and we're not in that division. Their inane names don't just start with the same letter, they start with the same two letters. They are unusable.
And they've done this with 15 minutes in photoshop:
Note the use of negative space. Also note how stupid it looks.
By comparison, the new Pac-10 logo would look badass on any soccer shirt in the world:
How can the same group of people responsible for creating the BTN be responsible for this? Obviously the visionary bits of the BTN arrangement come from Fox, with Delany and company the lucky nomads who parked their camels in the right bit of desert and now get to call themselves an emirate.
These division names do not exist. I'm not using them. Michigan is in the West. Ohio State is in the East. Wisconsin has to deal. It is immediately obvious which teams are in the West—the ones mostly in the west. Michigan can be Champions of the West, and no one has to think about how leadership is more about character than authority.
Can we make this a blogosphere-wide insurrection? Please? Everyone just use "East" and "West."
Remember when you'd go in your room and imagine that instead of a broken down tricycle you had a flying unicorn that could take you away from mommy and daddy's screaming? Yeah, this will be like that.
BONUS: someone on the twitters said "I'm pretty sure an ordinary @MGoBlog thread could have produced better logo options," which is true. So do it either in the comments or by email and I'll pull up the best five and we can vote on the Unofficial Big Ten Logo; I hope I can work out a deal with the winner so we can offer it to the conference for free, if only to shame them.