this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
Get ur Falk on. We are under the 30 day mark, so it's time for you to get POINTED AT
Jack back; he will attack; you don't want that. Michigan's annual alumni hockey games are tomorrow, starting at 6:30 with the old folks with the kids going about an hour after that. Admission is, as always, free. Head out. Jack Johnson makes and appearance, and so does Mike Cammalleri. Is this a thaw between Cammalleri and Red? Not if Cammo suits up for the over 35 game and puts him through the boards, but otherwise… survey says yes.
Win. Also lecture. A marching band insider posts that the first halftime show of the season will be La Traviata, furthering Michigan's effort to bring opera back from the grave. Or not really:
You guys are going to absolutely love the first show. Your voices were heard, and the Blues Brothers will be the first show this upcoming 2010 season. Rejoice? I think so.
Yes. Electronic disco, defeated forever. We may commence feeling simultaneously vindicated and heelish for last year's extended whine-fest about the band, which I participated in extensively.
Lecture time: sweet hot Moses in a pickle jar, our MMB insider put an "OT" on the message board thread. Let me be explicit: anything about any Big Ten team or future opponent is on topic. This includes Michigan, which is sort of the subject of this blog. Anything tangentially related to a tangent of Michigan athletics, or the university itself, is on topic. This mincing fear of getting negged for on-topic posts will not stand.
Testing the 95% theory. West Virginia has been hit with an NCAA notice of allegations for doing what seems like the same stuff Michigan was:
…yesterday afternoon, West Virginia University received a Notice of Allegations from the NCAA, which we are providing to the public. The allegations focus primarily on the activities and roles of graduate assistants, student managers and other non-coaching staff in the football program -- from 2005 to 2009.
They haven't posted the notice yet, so the exact details aren't known but seems likely WVU was doing the same sort of 35 in a 30 Michigan was during the last two years of Rodriguez's tenure and the first two of Bill Stewart's. This will endear Rodriguez even further to his home state, no doubt. Whether the NCAA would actually do something that impacts Michigan because of it is unknown. It would be unprecedented, but the NCAA seems to be gearing up for a period of breaking precedent.
Now entering the DSM: quarterback derangement syndrome. I've been increasingly irritated at Black Shoe Diaries (the guy who posts as BSD, not the whole blog) for his insistence that having a redshirt freshman who couldn't hit Charlie Weis—miss you, big guy xoxo—in three tries neck-and-neck with a walk-on is a JUST FINE quarterback situation THANK YOU, but this has gone from standard-issue fan denial to plain old insanity right here:
At what point is Terrelle Pryor going to live up to his hype and actually, like, win something on the field? And no, beating Oregon in the Rose Bowl does not count.
Meanwhile, BSD is busy saying Kevin Newsome could totally work out:
Newsome showed in his limited playing time last year that he can be explosive in the running game. At the risk of drawing some other very poor comparisons, I see the Penn State offense looking a lot like the 2007 Illinois offense. A proven NFL-caliber running back (Mendenhall) and a young quarterback that can run like a race horse and also throw like one (Juice Williams). Putting aside comparisons to Bad Juice later in his career, the 2007 Illinois offense led the Big Ten in rushing and finished last in passing, yet they upset Ohio State and went to the Rose Bowl (where they got clobbered by USC, but that's beside the point).
Meanwhile, Michigan fans pointing out that even the house outlets like Penn State's scout site were politely saying Kevin Newsome is terrible is "bitterness" at the kid's decommit.
If Juice Williams 2007 (but definitely not 2006, 2008, or 2009) is your best-case scenario, run. Where? Doesn't matter. Just run. And then keep running. The evidence that Newsome can be "explosive in the running game" consists of 7 carries for 49 yards against Eastern Illinois and 3.5 YPC in 13 carries against Akron, Syracuse, Temple, Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan State. At least Denard scored a touchdown against Iowa and did slightly better than 5 of 12 for 50 yards and three sacks taken in Michigan's spring game.
But no, seriously, guys, Matt McGloin reminds me of Matt LoVecchio that one time he threw a touchdown. If he just throws a touchdown every time he passes, like Matt LoVecchio did that one time, Penn State's offense will score lots of touchdowns. No, I'm not chewing glass I think is crystal meth because I've been eating crystal meth for the last six hours. I'm chewing MORE AWESOME CRYSTAL METH.
Fiutakin' it. A few years ago when the blog was more of a helpless voice in the wilderness it was a lot fiskier, and one of the things I did one year was comb the CFN Michigan preview for the dozens of errors it would contain in an effort to show the world how little value there was in their content. That's pointless now, but damned if reader Matt Nolan didn't go to the trouble and come up with some doozies. For instance:
December 30, 2010 San Diego, CA
Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl 7:00 pm ESPN
Big Ten No. 5 vs. Pac 10 No. 3
Way Too Early Projection: Michigan vs. Oregon
WHY? How much would the bowl love to get Michigan? It would be a homecoming for Wolverine QB Tate Forcier (who's from the area), while Oregon could finish anywhere in the top three.
The Holiday Bowl might be delighted to get Michigan but they'd definitely be confused since it matches the Pac-10 against the Big 12 and hasn't had a Big 10 team since 1994.
Meanwhile, the Michigan preview itself spells Jordan Kovacs's last name "Kovacks" and "Kouvacs," and lists sophomore [sic] Obi Ezeh as one of Michigan's ten best players at the same time they decry his "shockingly disappointing" 2009, which was not shocking at all. At least they didn't talk up the prospects of hot freshman Tom Harmon after his tragic death from old age.
Etc.: Someone gave Mark Shapiro a job in TV again. The NFL Network is about to suck. Bonus Derek-Dooley-is-Lane-Kiffin ammo: a fight which saw a cop end up in the hospital after getting gang-beaten result in one dismissal and zero else. New M blog alert: Maize Wings. Eleven Warriors wonders what to do with The Game and settles on the same-division, last-game format. I'm with them.
Open house fluff. If you couldn't make it here are moving pictures that describe the goings-on:
There's also the version of Tim's post yesterday at all media outlets. MVictors has the best one because it has a picture of a fire hydrant wearing a hat. The Daily, meanwhile, provides a noise increase estimate that's more reasonable than the doubling that was initially proposed:
A 30-percent noise increase on the field level was also promised, which will be tested by a sound engineer early in the season.
I'm not sure why they couldn't have tested that last season when the structures were up.
If you just can't get enough, AnnArbor.com has a slideshow and a couple stories that have the same content in a slightly different package. The latter does have this entertaining quote about the 3k+ club seats:
"I came in here, and I was like, 'Wow,'" Neumann said during Wednesday's public open house. "Then they told me how much it cost, and I was like, 'Wow.' "
FWIW, nary a crab was to be found in the articles. With newspapers typically straining to get "both sides of the story" that's one more indicator that the Save the Big House folks are slightly out of touch. Speaking of…
I am so glad I already have a lolcfn tag. Outrage(!) spans the internets today after CFN's Pete Fiutak talked up Matt James as a promising incoming recruit. Matt James is no longer alive after falling from a hotel balcony during spring break festivities, so this is a very bad idea.
I can only say that I'm not surprised at all. Way back in the day I took a swing at finding all the errors in that year's edition of the Michigan preview and came up with a solid two dozen, and while I can't find that post from before time began here's something they wrote just last year about the relative strength of the Michigan defense:
The real strength will be at safety where some superstar prospects will combine with some established playmakers. That means veteran safety Steve Brown can be part linebacker and part safety in the new system.
That was ridiculous even before the season, when this blog proposed it as "the most incorrect statement ever uttered by a college football preview ever"; now it stands as monument to the magnificent pointlessness of human cognition. Also they declared Obi Ezeh's the team's second best player.
It was just a matter of time before they incorrectly identified someone who is not alive as someone who is. In CFN House, it's always lupus and the patient dies because it's not lupus.
Other things that are not true about Notre Dame. Via Orson, here's a breathless bit of frippery on Brian Kelly:
"Coach Kelly and the entire Notre Dame staff has been very aggressive in recruiting," said Mike Frank, the publisher of IrishSportsDaily.com. "They are getting the offers quickly out the door. They are organized and they grind it and work very hard. This staff is much more aggressive than the previous one."
This is not true at all. Legend has it that Corwin Brown once camped out in front of Martez Wilson's door after being booted from the interior, refusing to leave until Wilson agreed to sign with the Irish. It didn't work—never in the long history of that move has it been successful—but by God it was aggressive. Seriously, the one thing Weis did well was recruit. At least give him that.
Charles Woodson Called “A Hero” In Aftermath Of House Fire
…suggests Woodson just became hero yesterday. Pete Fiutak probably wrote it.
Anyway, Woodson and his business partner were just doing what any average Michigan fan might have done on a lazy Friday night: watch highlight videos of Charles Woodson and doze off. As per usual, doing this saved lives:
“The Charles Woodson 1997 highlight tape saved our lives, because that’s what kept us up so late,” said Ruiz. “Seriously, we were up late watching that tape, and that’s what made us stay up so late to find that smoke in the beginning. Otherwise we probably would have been passed out. I don’t know.”
They made a movie of the Todd Howard version of this, by the way.
Old Man Yells At Cloud. John Pollack's got one convert: Chicago columnist Rick Telander. His crotchety old man column complains about the amount of money spent on the renovations, says "you can't go 5-7" and "sure as heck can't go 3-9" if you're going to do that, and then pulls out more evidence for this blog's theory that everything written about sports in a Chicago newspaper is false:
In that 2008 season, Michigan got crushed at home, 33-10, by Toledo.
That's not a typo—crushed—and is only 20 points off on a game that happened two years ago. A bonus Fiutak follows:
Is it a coincidence that Brad Labadie, Michigan's director of football operations, just resigned?
Don't think so.
Rabble rabble rabble, and so it goes.
The usual array of losers. Generic complaint about college football scheduling that sees Michigan named the bravest Big Ten team because it's the one team taking on two BCS schools if we don't count Iowa State, which we shouldn't. Standard whining about faking your way to bowl eligibility by taking on Akron and three schools Akron would kill, as Indiana will attempt to do this fall. Hopeful muttering about rising prices for tomato cans spurring some actual scheduling from Big Ten teams, delivered more in hope than expectation. Continued calls for Eastern Michigan to drop its football program entirely.
Etc.: Ace follows up on his Bo team picture slideshows with one showing the team MVPs from 1926 on. Penn State fans survey their schedule and unanimously (though tentatively) pick Michigan as a potential landmine. I'll take it. An analysis of Nebraska's dominating front, which switched between over and under, last year.
The point of the diaries! Leading off: a fantastic diary from MCalibur on the increased vulnerability of spread option quarterbacks, or, apparently, the lack thereof. "Do spread quarterbacks get injured more?" is a question I've abdicated on before, citing the lack of a reliable injury database that could provide a comprehensive answer without good old fashioned grunt work. MCalibur grunted his way to a money graf after splitting quarterbacks into four quartiles based on run/pass ratio, with group 3 your Pat White sorts and group 0* your John Navarre sorts:
On a percentage basis the only group that suffered an out of norm injury percentage were level 2 QBs which I think of as QBs that are used like running backs (Juice Williams) or QBs that are too slow to be running in the first place (Steven Threet). All other groups suffered injuries at about a 23% clip. Meaning about 1 out of every 4 QBs in a given category lost playing time due to injury in 2008.
Though I don't agree with totally dismissing the increased injury rate of "group 2" QBs, the numbers here are small enough that it seems like an outlier. The Pat Whites got injured at at the same rate as groups 1 and 2, and group one was by far the hardest hit in terms of man-games lost. There is definitely no clear correlation between lots of runs and injury.
Caveat: as noted, the sample size here is small. The numbers are suggestive but not definitive. It's not impossible a larger study would show a better correlation between runs and injury. It is, however, pretty unlikely. Outstanding work; I have bestowed a bonus 100 (meaningless!) points. Misopogon also picked up the bonus for the numbers post front-paged last night. At some point these will be useful, I swear.
*(Dollars to donuts this means MCalibur is a coder. He's zero-indexing his arrays.)
Meanwhile on the roster. Michigan applied for three medical redshirts last year and news reports had confirmed that two of them—Adam Patterson, now a redshirt junior, and Junior Hemingway, now a redshirt sophomore—had been approved. The third was Kenny Demens, who the roster now lists as a redshirt freshman. Obviously inference: Demens, too, got his redshirt.
The whole enchilada from Rich Rodriguez's appearance at Big Ten media days:
Transcript here if you don't want to bother with the video. I read it and decided against it; there is zero of value in there. There is also creepy dark cell-phone video from The Big Ten Network talking to Mark Ortmann and Stevie Brown:
Mesko doesn't talk, he just saves the planet. There is also more of Rodriguez talking.
Can we get in on that? Yankee Stadium is poised to host outstandingly competitive games between Notre Dame and Army—why do you hate America, Notre Dame?—starting in 2010. This has caused Army to sign up a half-dozen future Yankee Stadium games against other East Coast schools and Yankee Stadium to start thinking bigger and possibly more competitive:
The Daily News has learned that there have been discussions between the NCAA and high-ranking Yankee officials, including managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner, about the possibility of establishing a postseason bowl game at Yankee Stadium, beginning in 2011.
And… hey… can we get in on that? And in a meaningful way, not a goofy Motor City Bowl sort of way? I would love the opportunity to watch some other Big Ten team freeze its ass off in New York against some warm-weather team and caveman their way to astounding victories. Hell, if Michigan ended up in it I might even go depending on just how Christmas-impinging the thing is. Why don't we boot the Alamo Bowl to the curb—cold or not, there is no comparison between San Antonio and New York—and take on any comers in the frozen northlands?
(HT: Doctor Saturday.)
Erm? I've never had the Erin Andrews-level obsession that much of the rest of the college football blogosphere has with stat ninja Phil Steele, but I do respect his research-mad ways and how he eschews the sort of punditry that can best be summed up with the word "Cowherd."
So, um, Phil, what?
7. Rich Rodriguez, Michigan – The Wolverines could be an underdog in as many as 7 games this year and they really must have a winning season. I think Rodriguez will get them to a decent bowl and make major strides just like he did in his 2nd year at West Virginia. Amazingly there are a lot of Michigan alumni who think Rodriguez runs a pass-happy spread offense! In his last 6 years at West Virginia his teams averaged 270 ypg rushing the football (148 ypg pass) while Michigan in that same span had 229 ypg PASSING and just 163 ypg rush.
Not only does that "7" represent Phil Steele's placement of Rich Rodriguez on his top 13 "hot seat" list—ahead of Charlie Freakin' Weis!—but I would like to meet the Michigan fan not in a coma that believes Rich Rodriguez piloted a pass-happy spread offense featuring Pat White.
Never fear, though. Sensing a threat to their hard-earned possession of 2009's Dumbest Statement About Michigan Football, CFN strikes back:
2009 Preseason All-Big Ten Defense
DB - Stevie Brown, Sr., Michigan
DB - Kurt Coleman, Sr., Ohio State
DB - Donsay Hardeman, Sr., Illinois
DB - Torri Williams, Sr., Purdue
That's right. Stevie Brown, who isn't a defensive back anymore, and oh by the way was mindbogglingly awful last year, is first-team All Big Ten. You win, CFN, you win.
(CFN HT: MattC87 around these parts. What, you think I read it?)
More scheduling bits. I have no idea about the veracity of any of these rumors, but the following five schools have been kicked about the internet in the wake of Rodriguez's announcement that Michigan would likely find a BCS school to have a home-and-home with. In ascending order of plausibility:
5. Duke. In a word: no. Michigan could get a Duke-level opponent without a return game, and has in the recent past when they scheduled Vandy. Duke's existence in the list of four teams batted about (all listed save UConn) reduces the plausibility of the rest of them.
4. UConn. UConn isn't Duke but they aren't a ton better from a program perspective. (They're obviously better on the field.) It's hard to envision Michigan playing at 40,000 seat Rentschler field. And it's hard to envision UConn agreeing to another neutral site game after their sellout series with Notre Dame was met with resistance from the state legislature and brokered down to six games from the original ten with a provision that the Huskies play at least six true home games each year. Also, they'd have to move or cancel a game with Northeastern. Also also, the recruiting exposure would be nil.
3. Pitt. This was addressed yesterday: in 2010 Pitt already has Miami and Notre Dame scheduled, with ND on the road. Even though they've got an extra nonconference game because they're in the Big East, that would be a foolishly challenging setup for either Wannstedt battling for his job or the new guy looking to get off on the right foot.
2. Oregon State. Oregon State is a plausible opponent, but they'd have to accept a nonconference schedule of @ M, Louisville, and @ Boise State to go with their nine-game conference schedule. Has any college football team not named USC (or Troy, I guess) been that ballsy since the adoption of the 12th game?
1. Virginia. Virginia is a plausible opponent and was #3 on my list from yesterday.
An attempt to schedule Michigan "fell through." Not sure if that would have been for this year, and that's why we had to scramble to get Eastern Washington. Tedford did say that he doesn't want to play too many good teams and prefers A, B, C scheduling. He stressed he always wants a home-home series, and that they're "not interested" in playing somebody without a return game. In regards to a suggestion that we play Notre Dame, Sandy Barbour, who used to work for Notre Dame, added, "The Irish are afraid."
Downgrade Cal in your betting pools.
Blunt. I was taken aback by a Rittenberg headline that read "Rodriguez sees chemistry built, entitlement vanish," but did indeed Rodriguez drop "entitlement" more than once:
"Are you hungry to prove yourself and not have a sense of entitlement? We talked quite a bit about not having the sense of entitlement," Rodriguez said. "It's good to have pride, but when that pride becomes too much, you're going to get humbled pretty quick. I think, in a sense, that happened to us."
There have been gigabytes spilled about this very topic on Michigan message boards from one end of the internet to the other: had Michigan fallen into complacency as Carr aged and the spittle ceased to fleck? What is this program, who does it belong to, and what is "being Michigan"? At what point do people start to kick ass again? And by "people" we mean "us"? That's not a question.
Right: This is Barwis culture shock in a couple sentences from the head man, and speaks to the difficulty Rodriguez had adapting Carr's culture to his. This has to be better now; anyone who hasn't transferred should be in for the long haul.
Etc.: Three people emailed me this so it must be important: Kirk Herbstreit had someone burn down his house for a tax break. It was the fire department. It didn't work. AAU remains so far beyond sketchy it strains believability.
Ten minutes. Of electric alumni schmoozin'. Go.
Why, in a sentence. The Orlando Sentinel talked with Urban Meyer about many things, amongst them frequent sharing of information between coaches in the offseason. Meyer's begun to cut things down, and Rodriguez is one of the guys who they're no longer exchanging with. The reason:
We always do it. Rich Rodriguez? We used to do it all the time [when he was at West Virginia], but now he's at Michigan and a competitor in recruiting so we don't anymore.
Not a particularly strong competitor in recruiting after a 3-9 year, but enough of one to yoink Denard Robinson and Marvin Robinson, something that would not have happened at West Virginia.
The rest of the interview is worth a read, too, as it touches on a lot of the issues anyone who is a spread-first sort of coach has to deal with:
…Heading into the draft people were wondering if Percy Harvin's three years of running bubble screens meant he couldn't run a simple dig and the rest of the routes on the passing tree.
MEYER: He can run it better than most; and if someone is paying him $20 million, he'll run a great dig route. It's interesting that you say that. I don't hear it a lot, maybe in recruiting once in a while, but I did hear a NFL coach saying something about that. I like to do my homework. I went and checked the record of that coach and the guy barely had a .500 record. There are certain people I'll have a discussions with. And if I hear something like that, that's not a person I want to have a discussion with. That's nonsense. That's someone putting too much value on scheme rather than personnel."
FTR, I will run a great dig route for far less. It will be half as fast, but it will be awesome. I will bring a vuvuzela and those shoes with LEDs in the heels. Bidding starts at a measly one million dollars.
NO THIS ISN'T EXCESSIVELY DRAMATIC: it's Iran on the golf course. Ann Arbor Golf & Outing runs the golf course next to the stadium which has been primo tailgating territory since the dawn of time. Over the years, folk have congregated in bunches with their friends and—well, you're probably familiar with the logistics here. But now you will submit to order, tailgaters, or you will be thrown out of the garden:
• Canopies are allowed at no extra charge but must be no larger than 10' by 12' and must be placed at the front or back of your vehicle. Charges for canopies may be levied in 2010.
• For safety and efficiency, vehicles will be directed to specific spaces as they enter the grounds. Group parking at a favorite spot will no longer be allowed.
This has caused a lot of consternation, as you might imagine, on message boards and the like. A typical example can be found at MATW:
So long, sand trap. Goodbye
pine urinalshady pine tree. So long, large, enjoyable group tailgate where everyone meets at the same spot every week, every year. Instead, hello parking garage-like cash grab where cars are packed in closer than can be imagined and the AAGO lines their pockets with a few extra G's. … This policy was implemented because the AAGO continues to expand on their unofficial policy of greed and hypocrisy. Instead of thinking about how to raise revenue without alienating customers, the AAGO jumped to the easiest solution.
MATW has a suggestion: allow the hardcore to purchase a pre-paid season ticket for a little bit more—taking the risk of a golf course rainout—and congregate wherever they please a little early. I don't have a personal stake in this, as my tailgate from the Paleozoic is elsewhere, but I hate to see Michigan traditions erased in the pursuit of a buck. If you're pissed off at the change I'd take the opportunity to let them know: email@example.com.
Also, a Downfall parody seems in order.
Oh argh oh argh argh oh. I've been trying to call out stupid people for being stupid less frequently of late—part of being respectable and all that—but holy God I've reached my limit on CFN again and it's time empty both barrels.
Two straws floated down onto my hump recently. The first: a thing about which coaches are "on the hotseat." The hotseat is not a nebulous concept. In all cases its usage is meant to indicate a coach who is in serious danger of losing his job unless he performs this year. So, since this is CFN and Rich Rodriguez is in zero danger of being fired in just his second year at Michigan it will surprise you not at all to find out that virtually every responder cites Rodriguez because CFN is written by howler monkeys.
Fiutak, chief of this short bus, manages to explain this away by redefining the "hotseat" to mean a coach who needs to perform well this year or he'll be on the hotseat next year, which what? Why even use language at this point? My #1 coach on the hotseat this year is Ty Willingham, because when I use "hotseat" what I mean is the coach who was most authoritatively fired last year. Tomorrow I think I'll redefine hotseat to mean "pancake."
But at least Fiutak avoids suggesting Rodriguez is in serious danger of getting axed this year. Not so the rest of these serious observers:
Michigan’s Rich Rodriguez comes to mind as someone, who will undergo intense scrutiny in Ann Arbor if his Wolverines don’t start showing immediate signs of life. …Have Rich Rodriguez and Charlie Weis flip a coin. No one else is even remotely close…. . I would also throw Rich Rodriquez in the mix from Michigan.
In fact, the only person who doesn't mention Rodriguez specifically mentions why he's not mentioning Rodriguez by claiming "Michigan has a high profile head man who is at least brining attention to the program," which somehow manages to refute something stupid but contribute to it simultaneously.
Here's how bad the article is: this Bleacher Report article (BLEACHER REPORT!) that lists Weis, Kragthorpe, O'Leary, Hawkins, and Groh—you know, coaches who are actually in danger of losing their jobs next year—is 100% less retarded than it.
Then Fiutak has to blow his semi-reprieve by making what I propose is the most incorrect statement ever uttered in a college football preview ever:
The real strength will be at safety where some superstar prospects will combine with some established playmakers. That means veteran safety Steve Brown can be part linebacker and part safety in the new system.
Michigan's depth chart at safety reads: decent true freshman prospect, guy who was cornerback midway through spring practice, guy who got beat out by freshman and cornerback, meh true freshman prospect, walk-ons. Safety is, bar none, the most frightening position on the team, with neither returning starters or highly-touted recruits. The weird thing is that the preview is decently well-researched, mentioning moves for Brown and Brandon Smith and the installation of Woolfolk, but the conclusions drawn are preposterous.
It's time to drag up the definitive word on CFN once more. Via BHGP:
CFN is to actual analysis what ramming two GI Joes together is to MMA. It's only the same to 7-year-olds.
Fin. For about a year or two.
Oh, and MGoMichaeltribute: