spoiler alert: i linked this
Early entry tea leaves. In a welcome change, Michigan has a number of underclassmen good enough to consider entering the NFL draft. This, unfortunately, brings with it the possibility that some of these folks will actually enter said draft. A brief rundown:
- Jake Butt said he would definitely come back if he wasn't projected to go in the top three rounds. Mel Kiper has him the second tight end available and NFL Draft Scout just posted a mock in which he is a third rounder, which seems low. Butt told reporters that "it's 50/50" yesterday. More encouragingly, he listed many reasons for a return and a desire to talk to Harbaugh about what he should do. [UPDATE: Butt tweeted he'd be back.]
- After a confusing interval in which Chris Wormley deflected questions about not returning for a fifth year, he apparently told reporters he would "definitely" be back.
- Jourdan Lewis offered up another tweet indicating he would return next year. He is doing his homework. QED. And another after some radio person urged him to go—said radio person, Mike Sullivan, is the producer of Michigan's IMG pregame show. Excellent career move, Mike.
- Willie Henry has not been heard from on this front. He is currently under the radar to NFL draft sites but if he wants to go he will get drafted at some point. There have been some rumblings that he would look to go if he met a certain threshold in his draft projections.
Michigan has several other draft-eligible players with remaining eligibility but none seem like serious threats to leave. The O/U on departures is set at 1.
In other Jourdan Lewis news. He is a first-team All-American to USA Today, which I now like better than the Thorpe committee until the next time I have to evaluate my relative preference for things based on my pre-existing opinions.
We are hungry for things. Michigan sold out its bowl allotment in hours.
Our bowl tickets allotment is officially sold out. Thank YOU, fans, for doing your part! Can’t wait to see you down in Orlando! #GoBlue
— Michigan Football (@umichfootball) December 8, 2015
This is why they always get the top spot they could possibly get picked for. Michigan also implemented a system where fans could reserve bowl tickets for specific games and not others earlier this year, so they probably had a big head start on moving through those tickets. Even so… dang. I didn't know that was even a possibility any more.
Let's check in on Rutgers. The New York Times notices that Rutgers exists for a brief moment:
With the coach went the university’s athletic director, who never entirely recovered from suspicions that Rutgers had failed to vet her hiring two years ago. That was to replace the previous athletic director, who was fired along with the basketball coach after a video, looped repeatedly on national television, backed up allegations that the coach verbally and physically abused players — and that Rutgers had known about it.
And the bad news may not be over: The university is investigating whether the athletic department ignored its own policy requiring the dismissal of players who fail drug tests, as one told prosecutors after his arrest.
What a good organization to admit to the Big Ten. Rutgers doesn't get a full cut until 2021, which will be just in time for the league to kick them out in a world where the cable bundle has evaporated into countless disparate streams. Is there another article about that now?
No amount of wishing upon a star at the Disney offices in Burbank or the ESPN offices in Bristol, Connecticut, can hold back the forces of consumer choice that the Internet has unleashed. As a cable industry executive put it to Sports Business Daily recently, “The cost of goods is going up and sales are going down…that’s not a good trend.”
Every participant in the sports economy—franchise owners, athletes, programming networks, cable companies, and even the fans themselves—have benefitted from this broadband version of the hide-the-ball trick. That big fat $100 average household cable bill that everyone pays has served as a siphoning conduit of cash forcibly flowing from fan and uninterested non-fan alike.
The brazen economics of modern sports are being revealed and dismantled by the Internet, and the coming fumble-pile of desperate industry participants should make for some great viewing. That’ll be bad news for $30 million-a-year over-the-hill third basemen, the greater fools who pay them, and the unknowingly subsidized superfans who love them.
This is probably a good joke. I don't understand econ jargon, but those of you who do may enjoy this tweet.
(Ryan marrying our Econ stats teacher) Priest: Do you take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife? Ryan: I fail to reject
— Graham Glasgow (@gglasgow61) December 8, 2015
I hope this was a good tweet.
I was going to put this in the mailbag but it took so long to read this that I had to go have a lie down. A reader asked for an opinion on a very long meditation on "access" going the way of the passenger pigeon by John Herrmann of the Awl.
If you're unfamiliar with Herrmann, I mostly come across him when he writes exhaustingly nihilist pieces about the changes the internet is forcing on content providers. (He recognizes this: "The Content Wars is an occasional column intended to keep a majority of Content coverage in one easily avoidable place.") They are full of bloopers from robotics competitions repurposed into depressing metaphor gifs. Each accurately diagnoses something going on and collapses, like the robots, into a pile of loathing at the end. This one is no exception.
But, yes, access. It's difficult to find the summarizing quote to pull in a piece that's seemingly UFR length. I guess here's this bit on sports:
A world in which the NFL doesn’t need TV would be a world in which the NFL really doesn’t need a traditional outside press corps. To that end, perhaps, ACE is a new media company created by the NFL Players’ Association that hopes to succeed by “leveraging… exclusive group player rights and access to more than 1,800 active players to produce compelling sports-lifestyle content focused on athletes.” This month, a player for the Jets is suggesting to reporters, apropos of not very much, that reporters have too much access to players in the NFL, which is arguably the most restrictive league in professional sports. Also this month, when Kobe Bryant announced his retirement, he didn’t give an exclusive to a reporter who had covered him for years, or to Sports Illustrated, or to anyone. He published it as a personal post on the Player’s Tribune, a first-person platform for athletes founded by Derek Jeter and open to all major sports. (NASCAR? Sure!) The rest of the sports media, again, wrote its stories anyway.
A lot of the handwringing over loss of access strikes me as ludicrous. What's being removed is not really access but "access," that fiction in which a person of interest pretends to give something so a writer can pretend to critically evaluate the thing the person of interest said. When Rasheed Wallace blew that fiction up a lot of people got really mad:
And I guess if your job consists of surrounding the things that other people said with some sentences to link them together that would be a… actually, wait. "Both teams played hard" makes your job easy. Getting mad at that is not about whether your ability to do your job has been compromised, it's getting mad at Rasheed Wallace for yanking away the curtain on the City Animals presser you've been having for decades.
Back when MGoBlog stuck its toe into the access pool it felt like a trap. It still feels like a trap, because if someone gives you something they can take it away. Relying on access is like relying on Twitter's API—you can make the best third-party client in the world but Twitter's going to pick a winner and then you're going to die if you're not that winner. Then Twitter's going to buy that winner because if they're picking a winner, Twitter seems like a pretty good one.
So we have access, but we don't rely on it. Of late Adam's gotten some one on one time at media availabilities and used it to get some interesting stuff. We'd miss it if it was gone. But it wouldn't kill us.
If you are in business with someone who can kill you with no repercussions to themselves, you are on death row. Some people figure this out and go become lawyers. Some don't.
Michigan, and colleges in general, are less likely to cut people off like the NFL is definitely, definitely going to do in the near future. They are (mostly) public institutions with a point of view on press freedoms (sort of) subject to FOIA. But that doesn't change the fundamental law content in the internet age: be the quote, not the quoter.
Etc.: A list of all the weird and unfortunate things that happened while Cody Kessler was at USC is a very long list. Chad Catt looked pretty good in the second half of the Saturday Wisconsin game. Doyle is sweaty.
Happy Thanksgiving. Merry Thanksgiving? I'm trying not to accidentally have a war on Christmas here. Whichever Thanksgiving greeting you feel is appropriate appears in this space along with a reminder that Matt's good at making mortgages happen and a solid all-around dude, so if you're in the market you could do a lot worse.
FORMATION NOTES: Standard stuff from Michigan to the point where I forgot to take a screenshot. Here is a picture of Hackenberg getting swarmed instead.
SUBSTITUTION NOTES: Charlton moved to buck/WDE. With him there it's WDE. RJS backed him up an got a healthy number of snaps. Hurst, Henry, and Wormley got the vast bulk of the remaining DL snaps. Strobel got in for a few. Godin had a little bit more playing time than Strobel but maybe a dozen snaps total.
Gedeon rotated in for both Morgan and Bolden periodically. Bolden seemed to get more rest than Morgan. Gedeon might have been in there a quarter of the time. Ross played a reasonable amount as a SAM in 4-3 sets.
Secondary was as per usual now, with Hill the dime back behind Thomas. Stribling got scattered snaps. In the 4-3 Peppers and Lewis were the corners.
[After THE JUMP: diatribe! Three plays that went poorly! And then good stuff!]
Bo with children. Bo passed away nine years ago today. Spurred by a classic old-timey photo posted by Steve Lorenz, a couple of readers passed along adorable pictures of Bo not yelling at them about their pad level despite his constant desire to do so:
— LTA2891 (@LTA2891) November 17, 2015
— Ryan Schreiber (@Ryan_Schreiber) November 17, 2015
Meanwhile, the legend lives on.
Wow. Feel like we've seen this live... https://t.co/qJJBRKVMFZ
— Wilton Speight (@WiltonSpeight) November 17, 2015
If any school can do it, it's Michigan. PFF lists Jourdan Lewis as one of their alternate-universe-where-everyone-pays-close-attention-to-tape Heisman candidates:
Jourdan Lewis, CB, Michigan: +21.7
Key stat: Only three cornerbacks have been targeted more, and he has still only allowed 274 yards in his coverage.
Like Bosa, Lewis is hurt by playing on defense, particularly when he doesn’t have any game breaking returns to catch your attention. That being said, you won’t find a better cover corner in all of college football, and he is right up there with the other four players listed as one of the best players in the country. Lewis has been targeted 72 times in coverage, which seems foolish for opposing quarterbacks, especially when you consider he has given up just 26 receptions for 274 yards and one touchdown over the course of the year. He’s allowed more than 40 receiving yards in a single game just once all year, and has come away with two interceptions and 14 pass breakups. There was a three-game span against UNLV, BYU and Maryland where he allowed just three receptions for six yards while picking off one pass and breaking up five more.
Those numbers are bonkers. Michigan's inability to generate turnovers has got to be mostly luck when they're getting so many hands on opposition passes. Those translate to INTs at a fairly consistent rate and Michigan is way below par there; meanwhile they've recovered one opposition fumble all year. I can't imagine what their numbers would be like if they had the same level of fortune that Hoke's first team did.
In other grading things. PFF did the Indiana game, giving Jake Rudock a monster +9.2. Certain defenders didn't do so hot:
Michigan’s run defense was exposed for the first time this season, but it wasn’t because they were overpowered on the line. No, the Wolverine’s defense looked completely lost trying to maintain gap control against the Hoosier’s stretch plays. Michigan’s defensive line likes to fire off straight upfield at the snap. This works great against downhill runs like inside zone where they had great success Saturday. But versus outside zone firing upfield creates very wide running lanes when one defensive tackle flows down the line of scrimmage and another one doesn’t. The poor discipline made the job extremely difficult on Michigan’s linebackers. Matthew Godin (-5.3) and Joe Bolden (-3.6) were the two that struggled the most.
I'm through the first half-zillion Indiana plays and that is very much on point. Michigan is slanting with a backside blitz a ton and still not getting their guys to the correct gaps way way too often. Michigan quickly adapted to all the stretch plays tactically but the backup DTs were unable to execute, and Hurst suffered quite a bit as well.
Bolden… Bolden is not getting a good UFR number. I do not understand why Ben Gedeon isn't getting way more time.
Scoring is up 7% over the first weekend last season. Pace is up 5% and efficiency is up 2%. It’s not 1975-style basketball, but for at least one weekend we turned the clock back to 1995 when it wasn’t unusual to see a team crack 100 on the daily scoreboard.
Fouls are up slightly, as are threes (with no decrease in shooting percentage). Twos are more accurate. The main caveat I would suggest is that years with rules changes that include "call the game like the rulebook says" often start out with a bunch more fouls and then refs swallow their whistles as the stakes rise. The last attempt to crack down on obstruction of movement petered out by midseason. Hopefully this one sticks, but I'm not getting out my victory epaulettes just yet.
FWIW, the NCAA put out a video about what the rules entail:
It's nice that the official voice of the NCAA is decrying MSU's brand of footsketball, at least. John Gasaway on the new regime:
One paradox or spiritual kinship shared by basketball and baseball alike is that invariably many of the sports’ most consequential “reforms” consist of nothing more than a renewed commitment to enforcing the rules as already written. Screens really do have to be stationary, and bumping a cutter or displacing a player off the block really is a violation. So it is that in the coming days it will be said that it’s precisely this newfound strict constructionist attitude that’s resulted in all these darn fouls that are suddenly being called. Indeed the NCAA itself is already sounding this alarm. In its video the organization channels its inner Clubber Lang and says its prediction is pain: “At times the fans and media will not like the number of fouls being called, but we must stay the course and call the rules as written in the rule book.”
I don’t doubt for a moment that officials will signal their seriousness in November by minting free throws left and right, but it bears repeating that justice can be furthered by a no-call just as it can be by a whistle. Enlarging the charge circle could, one hopes, increase the prevalence of swallowed whistles, while the NCAA’s professed wish to stop rewarding “offense-initiated contact” will be nothing less than a no-call godsend if it comes to pass. I don’t want to see a foul called on Melo Trimble (just to pick a name purely at random), but a no-call the next time he flings himself like a horizontal missile into the chest of the nearest vertical-cylinder-inhabiting defender would most definitely be a just result.
One note from the Elon game: the refs appeared to blow one egregious example of offense-initiated contact when a Fightin' Christian jumped unnaturally into Walton to draw a foul.Otherwise I thought that game was well officiated aside from the usual slate of block/charge calls that nobody can ever figure out.
Is this how you do it? "Not quite." How about now? "Still not really there." Surely now? "For chrissakes can you stop looking like a serial killer experiencing afterglow for like 30 seconds?"
Henson. Via WH:
Willie Taggart has had a nice turnaround year at USF. If he were to be let go at any point, Taggart would be very much on Harbaugh's radar to fill hypothetical holes on his staff, but better to see him succeed.
Charlie Strong to Miami rumors get their first credible support as Bruce Feldman says he's heard it is a possibility. Michigan is competing with Texas for a number of recruits including Jordan Elliott and Jean Delance.
The remarkable laziness of the Baylor offense. Steve Smith storytime from Sap. IU fans are sick of being #CHAOSTEAM, but what choice do they have? Five Factors from Punt John Punt. Grandson of Gerald Ford coming to play lacrosse. CFB is slightly slower than it was last year. Vincent Smith gardening in Flint. "I think it’s the bear, and I think Houma comes in second with tattoos.”
Matt says the Fed may raise rates pretty soon here, and a cursory googling confirms that some dude says there is a "very strong case" to do so. Lifehacker says this will make the "notoriously low rates" of recent years less notoriously low. If you're on the fence and hate pants, Matt can help. I need one more sentence to get past the logo.
FORMATION NOTES: A few new things. I'm using "heavy" to denote lineups on which Michigan plays four true DL. Without Godin those are almost always both NTs with Henry and Wormley. This was 6-2 heavy:
For a period late in the first half Michigan ran a dime package on which the NT split out. This was a pass rush package without much pass rush and didn't return; I called it "3-2-6 dime split":
And Michigan has been running this one-high nickel package with eight guys in the box enough that I thought I should note it. This is "nickel even 8":
It is frequent on passing downs that feature some run threat.
SUBSTITUTION NOTES: Injuries biting into the DL a bit now. Michigan was rotating Hurst and Glasgow until Glasgow went out, at which point Hurst had to go the rest of the way himself. I do think they bought him a little rest by inserting Henry at the nose. Wormley and Henry played most of the game as well; Godin got one snap shortly after Glasgow exited. He must be close, but not close enough.
RJS returned to buck. Ross spotted him in passing downs. I called those dime packages; YMMV. With Gedeon out Morgan and Bolden got all the ILB snaps.
Secondary saw a shift as Dymonte Thomas got significantly more time than he has before; I would say he displaced Delano Hill as the starter. Hill played a fair share as well, both in nickel and dime. Second corner rotation was as per usual with an edge to Clark in snaps. Brandon Watson saw maybe a half dozen snaps at nickelback as Michigan tried to save Peppers a bit.
[After THE JUMP: are you disappointed yeah kinda is that rational nah]
Are there three more angles of this play after the jump? I guess you'll just have to click and find out.