to play football, not to play trumpet
1/3/2012 – Michigan 23, Virginia Tech 20 (OT) – 11-2, 6-2 Big Ten
Michigan got outgained better than two to one and probably squeezed the last bits of magic out of Brady Hoke's rectal horseshoe, but it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter until the Very Serious bullets that have no time for sentiment, the Very Serious bullets that didn't feel deeply guilty for not including Junior "Junior Megatron" Hemingway amongst the hallowed group of seniors who maybe could have sort of made Michigan itself again… except insofar as "again" is inappropriate to apply to a program that has not exactly made a habit out of winning BCS games doing so. The Very Serious Bullets were not ready to declare war on God for smiting David Molk—OF ALL PEOPLE DAVID MOLK—in the moments before the culmination of his career. And screw that. Screw a Very Serious bullet. Also logic, and reason, and causality, and all the other things that had no bearing on which team walked off the Superdome field happy.
This is what matters: Molk standing on the sideline watching the first offensive series and the feeling in his gut as he watched the last 60 minutes he'd wear the uniform evaporate. Logan Thomas saying something like "damn I'm tired" or "damn you're tired" to Ryan Van Bergen in the second half after yet another play on which a broken Van Bergen harassed—but did not sack—the brobdingnagian Tech quarterback. Mike Martin slicing his way into the backfield to put Tech into another third and long. Hemingway's hands finding the three inches of space needed for a touchdown. Confetti, the right confetti, and ugly shirts, and Chris Fowler talking to Junior Megatron, and people smiling.
What matters is that when Brendan Gibbons was asked what he thought about before the winning kick, he said "brunette girls" because Brady Hoke told him that's what he should think about.
This is not the best Michigan team ever assembled. It's not the most dominant. You know a lot of it was assembled by smoke and mirrors and Jon Falk's super-secret loose-fumble-magnet gloves. You're not eyeing that Alabama game next year and thinking "those rednecks are in for an… education. [YEAAAAAAAA]."
You, cold-eyed realist who gravitates to this place, are going to tell work colleagues who went to universities other than your own that Michigan deserved to win this game in no way whatsoever. And then your shit-eating grin is going to drive them from you.
I haven't watched the NFL in going on a decade now except in somnambulant Thanksgiving not-give-a-craps, but this holiday season happened to coincide with weekends and I was a guest without remote privileges. I caught a few last week. Amongst other exercises in vacuous non-speech, I ended up watching Aaron Rodgers make his publicist very proud after he respectfully dispatched Generic Opponent and then said things about his teammates.
The things he said were not so very different from what we usually get in college—like the game itself, public relations in the NFL is metal refined from NCAA ore—but in college things are rawer, emotions felt instead of managed. The brutal look on Danny Coale's face after his redemption was overturned is evidence enough of that.
The stakes in these games come from the stories of the players, and we get a relatively honest look at them over the course of their four years. After what must have been a crushing loss, The Key Play took to the internet not to light up coaching decisions or instant replay or VT's offensive line but to do this:
That team made me proud.
No we didn't win. I'm sure a lot of y'all are pissed about some play calls. I am. More carries for Logan. More carries for Logan. More carries for Logan. More carries for Logan, especially on short yardage situations. But this wasn't the Orange Bowl last year. We didn't get our balls beat in. We didn't get throttled. We didn't get out-coached. We didn't get out-played. No one punched us in the throat... And that's why it hurts.
I have an ache in my chest right now too painful for words to describe. We came sooooooooo close, but failed. That's a strong word, but it's accurate--we failed. We came to play. We came to fucking play this game.
That comes from Coale, a guy pressed into service as a punter who was asked to make a weighty decision and failed. A guy who was a centimeter away from redeeming himself by staking Virginia Tech to a seven-point lead as tall as Everest who then had his anguish revisited time and again by ESPN as Michigan positioned themselves for the identical field goal Tech had just missed.
VT fans love Danny Coale even if they hate the way his last game played out. He is why they care, even if their memories are bittersweet. God, have we been there. Entire generations of Michigan seniors came and went without beating Ohio State.
For the first time in a long time, we don't have to eulogize. Michigan beat OSU and won a
bowl BCS game for the first time since the 1999 season. Martin Van Buren was president of East Rhodesia and logic gates were chiseled onto rocks the last time a group of Michigan seniors went out like this:
Or a season ended like this:
Yeah, the game was the definition of a "yes, but…" experience. In the cold-eyed light of the offseason it will dampen expectations for next year. So what? Virginia Tech fans are thinking of Danny Coale this morning.
I'm thinking of Martin and Koger and Hemingway and Molk and Van Bergen and how there is no thought of what could have been, no thought of opportunities missed or goals fallen short of. Just that they stayed, and they made a BCS bowl, and they were champions of it. In the end, the seniors of Team 132 got what they came for. Now they will break the last link on the chain and tell those who follow they can make it anew.
NOT VERY SERIOUS BULLETS
Smooth. In the same fashion friend of blog Jerry Hinnen said "yes, thank you, finally" to someone dubbing Oregon's shinybits in the Rose Bowl "Destro helmets," I welcome the comparison of brunette-loving, Scott-Van-Pelt*-.38-Special-comparison-inspiring, suddenly-nails kicker Brendan Gibbons to Keith Stone:
Psyching himself up for NAILS
hangin' w/ Mister Cooper
Well done, unknown Iowa fan who knows iawolve, well done. After a season in which Gibbons has been sarcastically exhorted to put the ball through the uprights in all caps and with question marks, it is only right to break out some H tags in tribute:
GIBBONS: YOU PUT IT THROUGH THE UPRIGHTS!
Yea, and it came to pass that the season preview gave the kicker spot at least a 3 next year. Now please stop probably deserving false start penalties.
*[SVP is reminiscent of the Dan & Keith ESPN heyday. He is capable of making me enjoy an hour of Sportscenter. Like Gus Johnson and Alton Brown, he is a rare being of pure awesomeness that can exist in a lowest-common-denominator setting. SVP for president.]
Further evidence. Via BWS:
Nike shirts: making you glad your school is Adidas even if they did dress the team like the bumblebee girl from "No Rain" this year. If you thought copping a Def Leppard lyric was gauche, you did not see the Fiesta postgame.
Nike is now run by the immature cheese from Cheez-It commercials.
Stop complaining about being passed over. Mathlete:
For all the K St fans upset about the Sugar Bowl snub, Michigan won this one in honor of you, can't imagine winning 10 games like that
Kansas State did play in the Sugar Bowl. They were wearing Michigan's uniforms.
This is why you're Sparty. LeVeon Bell:
UofM proud that they had 8 home games, didn't play Wisconsin OR Penn St, AND lost to us? Yall can beat a average VA Tech team, be proud then
Sparty being Sparty. Just like this guy wearing green and white in the endzone where Gibbons nailed the winner:
I hope you enjoyed the last few years, guys.
VERY SERIOUS BULLETS
ALL RIGHT NOW WE HAVE A TALK. Holy pants the offense. This was the third time this year Michigan's offense was just beyond terrible; they lost the other two but horseshoed themselves the Sugar Bowl.
It was imperative that Michigan establish something VT had to react to, but they never did. Their big tactical innovation for this game was a not-very-spread formation with a TE, a tailback, and Odoms in motion for a jet sweep fake. That worked on the first play of the game when Odoms got the edge and then hardly ever again. I don't understand Michigan's emphasis on running to the perimeter against a defense like VT's that thrives on getting their safeties to tackle in space.
Meanwhile, Michigan receivers got zero separation all night, allowing VT to tee off on the run with impunity. Michigan needs an athleticism upgrade there.
It's apparent Borges wants to put guys in the box instead of spreading them out, forcing the opponent to respect the horizontal aspects of the defense, and then making you tackle and fill one on one; maybe that will work against a VT when Shane Morris is throwing to LaQuon Treadwell. It did not here.
Robinson likely shares some responsibility but it's hard to tell since the Sugar Bowl shorted replays for more commercials. I did notice a late third down and medium on which Robinson tried to fit it in a nonexistent window to Koger when Gallon was breaking open underneath. But mostly it just seemed like there was never anything there. It's one thing if the opponent is beating a block. Against VT it seemed like there was always an unblocked guy fitting the run and no one was ever open. Hard to move the ball like that.
Interior DL FTW. We in the M blogosphere may have been excessively optimistic about the offense but man did we peg the other side of that matchup: VT's crappy interior line pass protected well but could not get RVB or Martin blocked to save their lives. Wilson got hacked down at the line time and again, got some yardage outside when Michigan's run support on the edges was missing. Logan Thomas was not pressured much and picked Michigan's secondary apart with lethal accuracy.
This is kind of why I am worried about next year: taking away Martin and Van Bergen is going to be huge, and the rest of the defense is short of guys who seem like certainties to be players at their level next year. I've got Ryan and Kovacs and then…
Mattison's going to earn his money next year if Michigan treads water defensively despite returning eight starters.
Holy Van Bergen. Not only did RVB play every snap, and play well, he was injured early in the game and ended up like this:
"My foot just feels like rubber,” Van Bergen said after the game. “I couldn’t plant on it or anything like that.
“It actually went down, like parallel to my chin when I was in a pile. The next time I was trying to plant, I was trying to overcompensate for it, and I put it the other way and got chopped, so my toe was coming up to like the top of my ankle.”
Can we retroactively make him a captain? I'm serious. If the Bentley doesn't list RVB as a captain I might have to hack their site so it does.
Richt'd… right? Hoke game theory bits were a mixed bag. By decision:
- Fake FG near end of first half. Yes, it was a called fake. The problem was that a big chunk of the team didn't get the call, including Dileo's intended receiver, thus resulting in the Yakety Sex that was the deflected long-snapper reception. Hoke's verging on the territory where all go/kick situations on which there's a reasonable debate seemingly decided in favor of the kick will be expected to be fakes, thus depressing the EV of faking. At this point he's going to have to kick some dumb field goals if he's going to get that back.
- FG at end of first half. I was okay with it. A fair chunk of the reason it's a good idea to go for it on fourth down in those situations is the crappy negative-value field position it leaves your opponent in if you fail. When the half is ending that's not a factor, and given the way that half played out I was not super confident Michigan would punch the ball in from the two.
- Sending out the punt safe team on the fake punt. Obvious move given the situation and one that paid off when Coale pulled a Zoltan-vs-MSU miscalculation on the rugby option. If you're going to go there you should put it in the hands of your huge QB, not rely on a converted WR to make a high-pressure decision he's never made in a game before. This bullet is more about Beamer than Hoke.
- Not calling TO in an effort to get the ball back at the end of regulation. Also okay with that. Immediate TO sees you get around 35 seconds when the ball is kicked off; given Michigan's offense to that point in the game and season-long crap kickoff returns that did not seem like it had much value. Calling TO has a slight chance of flipping the opposing coach's thinking towards going for it, or at least it might if this wasn't Frank Beamer.
Richt-ing it in OT. It wasn't a full-on Richt. Richt idiotically threw away two downs to attempt a 42 yard field goal with a kicker who had been 6 of 16(!!!) from 40+ that range this year. Hoke/Borges at least shaved a meaningful five yards* off the attempt and went with a guy who was at that point 11/15 on the season. Given the way Michigan's offense had been moving the ball (not at all with plenty of OH SHI— near-INTs), the equation is significantly different than when you've got Aaron Murray. While I was a little annoyed they didn't flip it out to the WR and his massive cushion, I wasn't livid at the thought process.
Still, man… let Denard run the ball with the extra blocker in a spread formation and instructions to keep both hands on the ball. Upside is greater there.
The theme here is when your offense can't pick up two yards to save its life, old-timey decisions are correct. When the game is going to end with a score worthy of 1950, playing 1950s-era football is the move.
*[The Mathlete's preview post contains an apropos FG success graph showing a whopping 15% difference in success rate between a 42 yard field goal (around 55%) and a 37-yarder (around 70%) for an average D-I kicker, which I'd say Gibbons is. Same difference for a bad one, FWIW. It's only when you've got a Kaeding or the like that playing as conservatively as Richt did makes even the slightest amount of sense.]
The not quite catch. Someone on the twitters put it best:
Here it is:
It's incomplete because the tip of the ball hits the ground and it shifts in his arms when it happens. The ball has the potential to slide through his upper arms when it impacts the ground; ground aids catch; not a catch.
VT fans and players are pissed off and I can understand why. Again, they should remove the uncertainty here and say the ball hitting the ground equals no catch until you have made the proverbial "football move." That is a bright line rule that removes the controversy from plays like this and the 49% Hemingway touchdown against Iowa and the 48% Coale TD above. If it swings the game a bit towards defense that may not be a terrible idea these days.
More on the fake FG. I thought surely the refs had missed an illegal man downfield, but it does appear that when the pass is thrown Michigan linemen are within three yards of the LOS:
Whatever the screwup was it looked like VT had that well covered. Hoke's going to have to shelve the fakes for a while.
Countess. Hoo boy was that a rough ride for him. I hope you caught that first bubble screen of the second half—after Countess let his guy get to the sideline Mallory lit him up. He got burned on a double move that Thomas overthrew, generally could not match up with the extremely talented Jarrett Boykin*, and was a problem on both outside Wilson runs and a variety of 7-8 yard bubble screens.
*[Another way in which Beamer handed this game to M was continuing to run the ball when your QB is completing 70% of his passes for almost 8 YPA. M loses if Beamer pulls the Carroll and tells his OC to call no runs in the second half.]
Bubble screens. Ain't saying nothin'.
Woolfolk took a short video in the locker room and posted it to the twitter:
It's not 90 degrees off, it's artistic.
Comment of the week from beenplumb:
Go back to last year and tell us that our defense and kicker would win us a BCS bowl and try not to get punched in the face for lying.
Diarists are too hungover to chip in just yet. Seth did excellent work on the no catch in OT, but that's on the front page so you probably know about it already.
Players. Ryan tweets some photos from the field. Roh with the dudes I promised to name my firstborn after*:
Roundtree and… uh… I don't know.
This is a disturbing moment. Who is that dude?
Blog substances, local. BWS bullets:
Mike Martin and Ryan Van Bergen, and perhaps more importantly, the Virginia Tech offensive line, were as advertised. The interior of that offensive line is dysfunctional. Martin and Van Bergen were three yards into the backfield on basically every running play. The only reason they can pass block is that they keep retreating into Logan Thomas, at least long enough for him to zip a pass to one of his many wide receivers. I have no idea how a team with an offensive line that bad can win 11 games.
In a way, this is how the 2011 season had to end for Michigan. At the end of the Rich Rodriguez era, Michigan was a great offfense and then a smoking heap of wreckage. The defense was unconscionably bad. The special teams were barely above that level, most notably because the Wolverines could not kick a field goal. Michigan did dumb things like not knowing that a blocked field goal is a live ball. The turnover rate was terrible. This year was a palate cleanser in every way. In the end, Michigan won a game despite the offense being completely stymied. The Wolverines won by being good on defense, very good on special teams, and smart enough to avoid the mistakes that killed their otherwise superior opponent.
Blog substances, national. EDSBS:
It was a complete mess in so many ways, and in so many different ways than the other BCS games thus far. the numbers were appalling in their own unique way: Michigan had 184 yards of total offense, got doubled up by VT in terms of total production, had 12 first downs to Virginia Tech's 22, and still ended up covered in maize and blue confetti watching Junior Hemingway losing his shit gloriously when Chris Fowler asked him about the long path to getting here. This is not a very good Michigan team, but they are a very good Michigan team.
That should make sense if you've watched this team dodge bullets and narrowly avoid putting the car in the ditch on so many occasions this year, or come back against Notre Dame, or hold on despite doing almost everything they could to lose a late lead to Ohio State, or in this game scratch, claw, and somehow hold a more productive Hokies team in check until the final and inevitable kicking mistakes. This team was more fun than any other team Brady Hoke will ever have because they were not supposed to have eleven wins, and could not conceivably have piled them up like this. This team is the pound dog that saved your family from the fire. They are the college car that would not die no matter what you put in its gas tank. They are the party that came out of nowhere on a Tuesday night, and resulted in no hangovers.
Easily one of our favorite teams of 2011, and not just because we like calling Brady Hoke "Ol' Pizzafarts."
Bill Connolly breaks down the numbers:
4: Tackles for loss by Michigan's Jake Ryan. Michigan's defense played the bend-don't-break routine to perfection. They allowed five yards per play and seven trips inside their 40, but they forced five field goals and a turnover on downs at their four. Part of the reason for the success was that Ryan (must not make Sixteen Candles reference and reveal that it is one of my favorite movies of all-time ... must not make Sixteen Candles reference and reveal that it is one of my favorite movies of all-time ... must not make Sixteen Candles reference and reveal that it is one of my favorite movies of all-time...) was always around to make a big play. Ryan, Jordan Kovacs and Desmond Morgan combined for 22.5 tackles and 5.5 tackles for loss, and Michigan as a whole severely limited Tech's big plays. Just force them to keep inching down the field and eventually force a fourth down.
All of that sentimental bunk about Brady Hoke returning Michigan to its meat-eating essence or whatever, well, it actually worked out that way. It worked out far beyond the expectations of the most observant pilgrims of Oosterbaanian lore. No one in August was going out on a limb for a 7-6 outfit with no defense transitioning to a new coaching staff. As collapse-prone as the Wolverines were after fast starts under Rodriguez, no one was going out on a limb for them in early November, after losses at Michigan State and Iowa seemed to leave them back at square one. Since then, Michigan is 4-0 with wins over Nebraska, Ohio State and now Virginia Tech and abides in a state of Bo-like balance. Those who stayed fended off a fourth quarter Hokie rally to complete the circle.
I enjoyed this comment after the post:
This game proved that there is no pride or character in the big ten. When the only way you can win a game is by cheating and you are proud of it . I guess no one should surprised by the level of scandal in the conference. the attitude of the only real harm in disgusting behavior is being held accountable and the ends always justify the means is as base as it gets. to be beaten on the field as thoroughly as Michigan was on the field and be proud of a win that was a gift from whomever controlled that officiating crew is banal. That kid caught the ball everyone who has seen the replay from the angles available knows it including the replay officials and all of the Michigan coaching staff. ESPN made the staement that the only thing that matters is the final score. They and their Mid east Ohio valley values may be the real problem here.
Tom Fornelli has a format that demands he put words after the bullet HOW MICHIGAN WON. He begins "This is not an easy question to answer."
This was beyond weird, and exhausting to decipher. The Hokies controlled play, and had an apparent 20-yard touchdown pass in overtime overruled by replay. That gave the Wolverines their shot, and they took a BCS bowl victory and improbable 11-2 record with it.
I'm just… all. Terrifying HSR photoshop:
Now you're going to have "Push It To The Limit" stuck in your head all day. Q: how did that gem escape Special K's playlist this year?
Staying with usually illegal things. Lines. They are out. The Wynn opened VT a 2.5 point favorite; my go-to-line aggregation site says Michigan actually opened –1.5. Unsurprisingly, there's a lot of wiggle: right now it's ranging a full three points from M –2 to VT –1. The Mathlete's numbers have Michigan a two-point favorite.
For all the Herbstreitian complaints about the matchup here at least it seems competitive. I'd ballpark a Michigan-Kansas State line around M -10. The Wildcats are 96th in total offense and 74th in total defense; 90th in sacks, 106th in TFLs, 111th in sacks allowed. They kind of suck hard. Massive TO margin saves them. Virginia Tech is a much better team.
Silver lining to the dumbest edition of the BCS yet: at least this year it isn't serving up two woofers like they usually do. Oregon is favored by just under a touchdown. The lines for WVU-Clemson and Stanford-Okie State are around three points, and the Sugar Bowl and Cox Communications's 2AM replay of last month's LSU-Alabama game are basically pick 'ems. No Georgia-Hawaii or Louisville-Anyone.
Oof. I bet you're tired of Sparty schadenfreude. Can't stand it anymore. You are in the wrong place, sir.
Via the board. Someone with access to the Detroit News's ad manager is getting reamed in a conference room right now.
BONUS: Michigan State's complaints are laughable in many ways.
One: they are not even eligible to be selected. This isn't Michigan getting in over MSU.
Two: it's not like MSU had a slam-dunk better season than Michigan even before the Big Ten title game. If all you focus on is head to head they did, but Michigan beat ND and Nebraska. MSU got hammered by both. The computers aren't thinking about butts in seats and they give Michigan almost a six-spot advantage over MSU. And they can't take MOV into account.
Three: they are playing the exact same team Michigan is. Georgia rode a soft schedule to a conference title game in which they were destroyed. They have a tough defense and an iffy offense. Their best offensive asset is a tailback. The only difference between VT and Georgia is Georgia's decision to schedule Boise State. The only difference between the Sugar and the Outback is a day on the calendar.
I'm just going to put this here. Kork Coupons:
"Michigan sat home tonight on the couch and watched us," the senior said shortly after the game's conclusion. "We played our hearts out — you saw it. I don't see how you get punished for playing and someone else gets to sit on the couch and get what they want. "If this is the way the system is, I guess it's a broken system."
Gary Danielson, devil. Braves and Birds on the SEC's chief propagandist:
In 2006, Danielson and the SEC on CBS team spent the fourth quarter of Florida’s win over Arkansas lobbying for the Gators to play for the national title over Michigan. Their argument was based on the fact that Florida had played a tougher schedule, which they demonstrated with a graphic comparing the teams that the Gators and Wolverines had beaten. Guess what metric CBS did not use yesterday? You guessed it, the one that favored the SEC team in 2006, but cut against the SEC team in 2011. … At times during the fourth quarter yesterday, I felt like I was at a mediation, watching one side make a PowerPoint presentation as to their strengths of their case and the weaknesses of mine.
… CBS apparently has the sports equivalent of Roger Ailes doing its SEC games and they think that no one remembers their convention speech in 2006.
How's "the spread is dead" working out for you, Danielson? Since he has no memory of the spread vs spread title game last year he probably thinks the answer is "really well!"
Gary Danielson, angel. Danielson advocated a playoff system nearly identical to the MGoPlayoff in the fourth quarter of the SEC Championship game. I don't care if he eats babies as long as he's spreading the gospel of a restricted-field playoff.
Heisman. In other hopelessly broken college football institutions, Feldman makes the RGIII for Heisman case, which can be stated thusly: Baylor and their 114th-ranked defense (yardage) beat OU and Texas in the same year. BAYLOR. BAAAAAAAYLORRRRRRRRRR. Feldman has Mathieu second, which I also agree with. Bruce Feldman for king of college football.
This week in "Drew Sharp should be fired." Another blah blah trolling column has this gem in it:
Drew Sharp thinks the Big 12 still has a championship game and that 9-3 Oklahoma has played 13 games.
Etc.: Carvin Johnson talks personal style. It's on the internet! Sugar Bowl's contract with OSU on scribd indicates that Michigan will probably be the away team since they are lower-ranked. Sugar wallpaper.
[The Athletic Department made Ryan Van Bergen and Kevin Koger available for short interviews following the BCS bowl announcement. Brady Hoke was not available because he is currently in New York for the Football Hall of Fame Inductions. Hoke will be back for a Wednesday presser, and bowl practice will commence at the end of the week.]
Ryan Van Bergen
How does it feel to be going to the Sugar Bowl and playing Virginia Tech?
“It’s huge for us to be in the Sugar Bowl. It’s a great opportunity for us to this season off strong. We felt like we earned a spot in the BCS with our performance this year. We’re really excited to get one more chance to play as a group. It’s been a special year for us and we get one last chance to make a statement.”
Were you keeping track of all the games yesterday and which teams to root for?
“No I actually stayed off twitter and everything, honestly. I was just sick of hearing the different things and the different scenarios how it all could play out. Just figure let the chips fall where they may. Like I said, we feel like we deserve this spot and we’re really excited about the opportunity to play a good team like Virginia Tech.”
What does this change or add to your legacy?
“It gives us another opportunity. It’s been since 2006 since we’ve been in a BCS game, and I just think it kind of reestablishes what this team has been able to do and how we’ve come, especially with the expectations we had coming into this season. It’s a tremendous opportunity to put a final stamp on this year.”
This is the first time Michigan’s ever played Virginia Tech. How familiar are you with them?
“I can’t lie. I’m not very familiar with them at all. Obviously I’ve only had about two minutes to watch their game film. From the clips on ESPN, they looked pretty good. We didn’t get a chance to watch them too much this season, but obviously we’ll take them very seriously. They’re a very good team, a very talented team. Unfortuantely they’re going to be motivated off their loss to clemson, but they’ve got plenty of athletes, I know that.”
Did you hear what Kirk Cousins said last night about you guys?
“I didn’t catch it. What did he say?”
In a nutshell, that Michigan got to stay home and watch the game on a couch and Michigan State shouldn’t be penalized.
“I mean, if he wants to be able to sit on the couch and watch us play in the Big Ten championship game, then he can do that. We would have loved to trade places and have that chance and have that opportunity. All complaints aside, they had an opportunity to the Rose Bowl sitting right in front of them to grab, and they didn’t seize the opportunity. I think they’ll do well in the Outback Bowl, but best of luck, best wishes -- we’re going to the Sugar Bowl, and we’re excited about it.”
What does the January 3rd spotlight do for this program?
“It’s huge! It’s huge. It kind of establishes national relevance for Michigan as a program. It puts us back on the map, so to speak, as a national powerhouse. It will be great for recruiting, it will be great for the alumni and the fans, but the biggest thing for us: team 132 wants to play again. We’ve really grown close. We have great team chemistry, and the opportunity to play one more game on a stage as big as the Sugar Bowl is huge for us.”
Have you ever been to New Orleans?
“Never been to New Orleans, but I hear Bourbon Street’s pretty cool, so I’ll have to check it out.”
Hoke’s emphasizes winning the conference and rivalry games. Do you expect the same kind of emphasis for a bowl game?
“I know he’s going to emphasize the Big Ten conference and representing the Big Ten conference. It’s more than just about Michigan. It’s about representing the Big Ten conference on the biggest stage as possible. Obviously this is one of the biggest stages you can represent the Big Ten conference in, and we want the Big Ten conference to receive national attention as one of the best conferences in the country. We want to be able to beat out of conference opponents, and then kind of get respect nationally as a conference, and that’s something that we get an opportunity to do representing the Big Ten in the Sugar Bowl.”
How might this bowl game help erase your poor showing in the Gator Bowl last year?
“I think that that’s exactly what it is. It provides an opporunity for the guys who played last year and fell so short in that bowl game -- it provides us a chance to redeem ourselves and show that we can put forth a championship effort in a championship game, because that’s what this is. That’s why I think everyone’s going to be so well motivated and so excited for it.”
What was the reaction like in that room when the bowl game was announced?
“It was huge. It was something, like I said -- we all thought we were going to get it, but we weren’t sure if it was something that was going to happen, but we felt we deserved it. To have it finally and not on some kind of rumor or headline or something like that, having it on good authority that you’re going to that bowl game was huge for everybody I think on that team.”
How did you find out originally?
“We found out upstairs, a couple of us, and then through interviews and stuff like this, we’ve been kind of just notified. It’s been very recent, though …”
Has your roommate David Molk been insufferable since winning Offensive Lineman of the Year?
“Oh you know Molk. He’s such a jabberjaw that he’s so hard to keep contained. That’s all he does is run around the house and talk about how he’s a better O-lineman than me, and I told him, ‘I don’t even play O-line.’ No, I mean, I couldn’t be more happy for Dave Molk and what he’s accomplished. He works so hard, and he’s a tremendous worker, and as far as national accolades go, the sky’s the limit for him. I know that there’s still the Rimington to be announced, and I think he’s the prime candidate for that because he is the best center in the country hands down. I wish him all the best, and I have confidence in the fact that he’s going to be reward for the work that he’s put in.”
Your reaction to Michigan going to the Sugar Bowl?
“I mean, it’s really exciting. It’s a testament to how hard the team worked this year. It’s really good for the senior class. We’ve been through a lot, so it’s good to end on a high note.”
What do you see when you look at Virginia Tech?
“I mean, I can’t say them I followed them a lot this year. They always have good athletes, and I know Marell Evans has a couple friends on their team.”
Van Bergen said he stayed away from everything yesterday to avoid overanalyzing the BCS scenarios. What did you do?
“Oh yeah, I was actually the opposite. I was with a couple of teammates. We were over at Kenny Demens’s house, a few of us. We watched probably every game we could possibly watch throughout the day, and we were going over scenarios and all that. It was a lot of fun, though.”
Who did you think was going to be your opponent?
“We really didn’t know. We kept hearing different stuff. I distinctly remember JB Fitzgerald was so negative the whole day, but I mean we were just going through every scenario possible, googling all the scenarios as each game went on. Like I said, it was a lot of fun.”
What kind of stuff did JB say?
“Just being so negative. He said, ‘Oop, we’re going to the Little Ceasar Bowl in Detroit.’ He was being really sarcastic, and he was basically cheering for every team he should have cheered for. Yesterday if you were following him on twitter you would see that.”
When, where, and how did you find out tonight?
“Actually before our meeting -- Justin Dickens told us earlier, but I wasn’t supposed to say anything, so I kind of had to act surprised. Yeah I found out probably about an hour and a half ago, 7:30.”
What are your plans the rest of the night? Is there a team meeting?
“Yeah we have a team meeting. I guess we’re going to go over all the logistics and all that for about a half hour, 45 minutes. And after that probably just bask in the ambience.”
Ever been to New Orleans?
“Never. Never, but my roommate JB, he has a lot of family down there, so he says it’s a good time.”
What kind of spotlight will the Sugar Bowl provide your team after the season you’ve had and the struggles you had before this season?
“It’ll be a great atmosphere. It’d be great for the team, but it’ll just show everybody Michigan’s back, and we’re serious.”
Did you see Kirk Cousins’s comments after the Michigan State?
“Nah. I didn’t see anything.”
He basically said that Michigan shouldn’t go to a BCS bowl because you guys sat home and watched the Big Ten championship game.
“Yeah. I mean, we did get to recover a little bit, but I’d rather play in the Big Ten championship game. I mean, the inaugural Big Ten championship -- that says a lot of about the teams that played in it. We’d be happy to trade places, but it is what it is.”
Will you make this more of a business trip as a senior and a captain? Do you want this to be very focused?
“Definitely. We went down to Jacksonville and didn’t put on our best performance. It was embarrassing to say the least. We can learn from our mistakes. I mean, we’ll definitely have a little bit of fun, but the main thing is to go down there and win the football game.”
Do you think the focus will be different this time with a different coaching staff?
“No I think the focus is always to win the football game, but I mean it was just disappointing to put all that work into a game and have the outcome we did last year.”
What do you make of the prestige of the BCS games?
“I mean, it’s definitely exciting. One thing that people don’t realize -- I think we’re going to be playing indoors, and a lot of people on the team haven’t played indoors. I have freshman year against Minnesota, but it’s a lot different playing indoors as opposed to playing in Glick. It’ll be a different experience. The lights are a little bit different, but it’s going to be a great stage with a lot of people watching.”
You have no idea how long it took to find a Sugar Bowl image without a corporate logo. Thanks to the Bentley Library.
After last night's events one thing is clear: nothing is clear. Oklahoma State's case for the national title game will come down to winning 40% of the hearts and minds out there and Michigan's destination hinges on that decision. That Sugar vs Houston thing is ancient history.
But we can make some educated guesses. Everyone expects Michigan to crack the top 14. Oklahoma and Houston are projected to drop behind Michigan and according to Palm, MSU's awful computer rankings (average of 20.75) mean they'd have to stay two spots in front of M in the polls to stay in front of them in the BCS. That's not happening. So don't worry. M is in.
[UPDATE: Michigan is 12th in the coaches poll, ahead of MSU. They are in. Oklahoma State got only 13 of 59 second place votes—insane—and it looks like the
Fiesta Sugar vs. Somebody.]
Nobody expects TCU to crack the top 16 and earn the non-AQ autobid available to a conference champion ranked above the BE winner. They're out; the available pool of teams once Oregon, LSU, and Clemson are removed from the equation:
- Maybe Alabama
- Boise State
- Kansas State/Baylor/OU
- Virginia Tech
There are two worlds. One in which the rematch happens and one in which it doesn't. Those worlds should be addressed separately.
Alabama in title game
This is the scenario we've been dealing with so far. The Sugar loses the SEC champ. Okie State is locked into the Fiesta. The Sugar picks Michigan first from the motley crew above. The Fiesta grabs the next-most attractive team, which everyone thinks is Stanford, and then it's the Sugar's turn again.
The Sugar Bowl spends several minutes punching itself in the face and then… uh. Mandel says they pick Kansas State. So does Jerry Palm. Other possibilities are matching up RGIII against Denard (ay yai yai!), the Rodriguez Bowl versus WVU, or Boise State getting in because they're actually the best team available.
Your opinion of this will vary with your confidence Michigan can take out a Boise or a Stanford. If you think the chances of that are low, you love taking on a KSU team that can't pass and is in the BCS picture because they beat Texas with 120 yards of total offense. If you think Michigan's got a shot at one of the aforementioned teams, KSU is just Houston except a better matchup.
Oklahoma State in title game
Should sanity prevail—don't bet on it—the conventional wisdom assumes the Sugar takes two nanoseconds to snap up Alabama. The Fiesta then has the next two picks. From this The "BCS Guru" somehow arrives at… Michigan-Kansas State. We can't quit you, Manhattan.
I think that's an error on his part and we will see a Michigan-Stanford matchup in the scenario where the BCS does not condemn college football to a divisional rematch for the "national" title game. That's what some random other website about the BCS has.
If you like ads, there is a two hour block of programming on ESPN in which there is one piece of information requiring ten seconds to relay you care about tonight, starting at 8:15.
EVERYBODY ELSE: 'YOU ARE NOT ELIGIBLE FOR A BCS BOWL'
All of that is classic, but "Spartans strengthen brand despite loss" is uber.
The beard of the wolf. Troy Woolfolk is inspired by Lloyd Carr:
Yea, and in the year two thousand and eleven the Michigan Wolverines perceived the New Orleans Bowl and said amongst themselves "shall we not take for ourselves what Troy's punter has shown to be good?"
The mouth of the horse. Ohio State fans have suddenly found that it's not nice when your opposition says mean things about you and takes your recruits. Or they've learned to complain about the former instead of the latter no matter the facts on the ground, anyway. Kyle Kalis:
"…[Hoke] has never said anything even remotely close to (negative) about Ohio State.
“People think that he does all of this negative recruiting, but he does no such thing. Any time my dad brought up anything about Ohio State, coach would actually stop him and say ‘I’m not going to say anything about that situation. It’s unfortunate and I hope they can get over this hump.’ ”
Kalis has been manipulated. Keep that in mind. Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom!
It was tough to pass up Calvin peeing on John Hamm. Jerel Worthy is trolling us with his arm:
Or he's been trolled. Click for a bigger view of a Wolverine-type object wearing a Missouri helmet being stepped upon. QED: Jerel Worthy drives a truck with fake testicles.
I wonder how these percentages break down:
% of OSU themed tattoos that involve Michigan symbols being peed on/crushed/anally penetrated
% of MSU themed tattoos w/ same
% of ND themed tattoos w/ same
% of M themed tattoos w/ same broken out by rival.
Somebody should do a survey. I'm guessing ND is in last by a considerable margin and that 90% of all redneck-tastic Michigan tattoos focus on OSU.
Your lying eyes. I usually forward along all history-related questions to MVictors, as they are specialists. This edition of mailbag by proxy involves the colors on Michigan's uniform and is actually double-proxied since Greg pinged uniform maven Steve Sapardanis for a comprehensive answer:
Let’s get this out of the way first: never, ever, ever go by the color you see of pics online, in mags/programs or even in photos – see these Harbaugh photos as reference:
These two pics are from the same game, maybe even the same play, maybe even the same photographer (probably not), but notice the difference in colors.
Everything you wanted to know about Michigan's maize and more at the link.
Understatement. Rod Beard sat down with the entire basketball coaching staff for an extensive interview. Here's John Beilein doing his best George Clooney:
Q: I know you can't talk about specific recruits — even ones who have verbally committed — but how do you feel about your recruiting efforts this summer?
Beilein: I'll just say we're getting very positive feedback.
Indeed. I'm not sure just how up to date Beard is on Michigan's recent efforts, though:
Q: Is it a philosophical choice to go after unrated recruits and help make them a better players?
Beilein: As you're building a program, there's a plan that you gradually go in that direction, but you have to get solid first. In the recruiting wars, if you go after only the top-50 guys and you aren't successful, the No. 51-150 guys are long gone when you turn back. It's better to set your sights and then build a program so you get guys who have a high ceiling and in time will develop. Tim Hardaway Jr. is a great example of a guy who barely makes the top 100 — but now, he's one of the top 10 in the country out of that class. We're never going to say that we don't want to recruit a top-50 guy. If he fits what we're looking for, we'll recruit him.
The last unrated guy to commit to Michigan was Max Bielfeldt; right now the 2012 and 2013 classes are all four-star sorts. Hit the link for Bacari Alexander praising Beilein's "ability to be human." Good job, lizard coach from the fifth dimension!
BONUS BIT: Michigan may have offered another 2012 big. Marshall Wood is unrated but is attracting high-major interest. He can get up, yo:
Certainly looks like a Beilein big what with the driving to the bucket from the perimeter. Usually Michigan won't offer-offer until you get to campus-campus, which Wood hasn't yet. Michigan probably gave him the nudge-nudge wink-wink about it and they reported it as an offer, but Mitch McGary is supposedly planning another visit to Ann Arbor on or around Labor Day.
So: Michigan is definitely trying to fill their 2012 spot.
Movement. Sense? It seems this edition of the periodic NCAA let's-fix-everything tribunals may actually create a significant change in the organization, at least as it pertains to basketball recruiting. "Consensus was reached on some aspects of a new recruiting model," those being:
- A start date for official visits beginning after the men’s basketball championship in April of the junior year.
- Deregulating the type of communication between coaches and prospects (including text messaging and other forms of electronic communication).
- Allowing unlimited communication after Aug. 1 before the junior year in high school.
- Permitting evaluations at certified nonscholastic events on two weekends in April, with some restrictions.
- Permitting some contact at a prospect’s educational institution in conjunction with an evaluation, with some restrictions and requirements.
Somewhere, Kelvin Sampson is weeping into a Western omelet.
Both Eamonn Brennan and The Bylaw Blog rush to heap praise on this hypothetical model where coaches and recruits can approach each other like people instead of anonymous partners in a secretive arranged marriage. Brennan:
The NCAA might not be ready to let coaches talk to recruits year-round. Nor is it ready to totally reconsider its system. But it is beginning to make some serious progress, and that progress continued with the Leadership Council Friday. Incremental though it might be, at least it's a step in the right direction, right?
So for the Leadership Council’s top-to-bottom review of the men’s basketball recruiting model to wrap up within a year is a small victory for Division I’s governance structure. The results of that review are even more encouraging.
Infante also mentions a new provision for "on campus evaluations"—tryouts—as the most important change. Beneficiaries of this hypothetical new system:
The model, with the NABC’s limited tryout rule, would greatly favor coaching staffs who can make good evaluations during the spring and summer before a prospect’s junior year.
Sounds good if John Beilein's your coach, yes?
Meanwhile, 50 superfriends gather… The NCAA is also collecting its presidents together today and tomorrow to have one of those serious discussions that usually don't lead anywhere. Everyone Gregg Krupa tried to talk to said "NCAA? Never heard of it" except Mary Sue Coleman:
"This intertwining of intercollegiate athletics with universities in the United States is unique in the world, but we risk losing it if it is not done with transparency and integrity and if people believe it is not being done by the rules," said Coleman, who can not attend the retreat because of prior commitments. "I am very hopeful we'll stay on course with this, and the meeting in Indianapolis is an important part of that."
College football's scandal epidemic and rattling from the Big Ten and SEC about upping scholarship rewards, increasing academic standards, and maybe not booting kids to South Alabama after a season do provide a background in which Actual Reform is possible. The new, far less restrictive basketball recruiting model is an indication things might get done.
They'd be in these areas:
Establishing the success of athletes in the classroom as an expectation, rather than a goal. [Ed: A toothier APR?]
Protecting integrity by retaining amateurism, evaluating and improving the behavior of athletes and enhancing enforcement.
Strengthening the fiscal viability of sports by reducing disparities in revenues, spending and subsidies.
I'm not sure how the hell they propose to do anything about the third.
And now for no reason at all. Presenting Louisville's quarterbacks in their new uniforms:
At least Adidas didn't make us look like Taylor Twellman.
Etc.: This year's edition of "Les Miles doesn't count so good." Via Smart Football, treating your goal line package like special teams. The guy behind Mets Maize has figured out he never writes about the Mets. Up next: figuring out that white text on a dark background is so 1995. Houston Nutt's been busy with his copy of Word 97. HSR on the Stonum suspension. Pre-Snap Read previews Michigan.
First, now-ceremonial photo of some dude very far away rocking colors he probably knows not wot of:
I was in… France. We had a free apartment to stay at and my mom turned in a bunch of airline miles, so it seemed like a one-time opportunity. It rained most of the time and the food was pretty disappointing but it sounds like everyone in the United States melted while we were gone so that's cool. Also if you ever get a chance go to a calanque, you should probably do it:
That is a real place, not the scene from Contact where the alien is all like "yo I'm your dad what up Jodie Foster."
The guy above was checking out a very serious bocce tournament we stumbled across in Marseille whilst trying to figure out how to get back to the bus. I'll probably throw up a trip report in the diaries if there is further interest, or even if there isn't.
Now presenting Things That Happened When I Was Going "Meh" At Escargot:
A large chunk of next year's attrition got resolved. Kellen Jones, Teric Jones, and Christian Pace are not on the fall roster and therefore not on the team. Kellen Jones reportedly got in some legal trouble that must be serious given the repercussions on his team status. Pace and Teric Jones got sent to St. Saban Memorial. Meanwhile, Terry Talbott is also expected to miss the season but it's unclear whether or not he has made the same journey. Rivals says Hoke confirmed he was medicaled($) in the hallway scrum following his media day time, so that's probably that for one Talbott. UPDATE: Misopogon reports that Ablauf also confirmed Talbott is done.
Three of the four are obviously not sketchy. Michigan needs linebackers and DTs like Mark Dantonio needs the collected Sophocles and Pace was the only(!) offensive lineman in his class. Teric Jones's departure is one you can question given his place on the depth chart, but since there's an entire football season between now and crunch time it's probably legit. In the Big Ten, sketchy medical scholarships are something to look for in January.
As for on-field impact, Teric found it impossible to contribute even in an offense suited to his scatback skills; his absence won't impact Michigan going forward. Pace removes one bullet from the chamber at center, but they'll still have Khoury and Miller once Molk graduates. That should be okay. Talbott's absence is bad. Now instead of a shaky three-star-ish redshirt freshman behind Will Campbell there are walk-ons and air and maybe Kenny Wilkins. Kellen Jones's absence will be felt keenly as well. My excellently-timed recruiting profile of him hyped him up as an immediate contributor and possible four-year starter due to his talent and the glaring hole at WLB. Now he's gone and WLB next year is the untested Mike Jones and two really small guys.
With those four off the roster the path to 26 is considerably less eyebrow-cocking. Michigan will have to shed another two or three players before signing day. A natural level of attrition should get Michigan to their projections without fuss.
Michigan got a fullback. Tim profiled Sione Houma, who is it. I hate giving scholarships to fullbacks because the difference between a walk-on fullback and a scholarship fullback is usually indistinguishable. Michigan's best in the last 15 years was walk-on Kevin Dudley. If they really take one DT it's going to be weird, doubly so with the uncertain status of Talbott.
Michigan got Chris Wormley. A foregone conclusion, that, but it's another head to head win for Hoke against the Bobcats. SDE is set in a major way and someone—possibly two someones—are moving to three-tech as soon as they hit campus.
San Diego State got a little less scary. Two of their receivers are out for the year with knee injuries, including presumed #1 Dominique Sandifer. Their new leading guy is the equivalent of Kovacs—walk-on made good. Ryan Lindley's good but he might not have anyone to throw to.
Something vaguely ominous happened with Devin Gardner's redshirt. Brady Hoke has been unusually wishy-washy about what Devin Gardner's eligibility status is after he saw a few snaps here and there as the designated Guy Who Replaces Denard For Three Plays Guy during the nonconference schedule. This is unusual. In the past the NCAA has just issued a ruling and been done with it.
The eligibility status of Alabama receiver Darius Hanks—still on the team and everything after five years!—may provide some insight into why:
… Hanks appeared in one game as a true freshman in 2007, hauling in one pass for six yards in a 52-6 win over Western Carolina. Accordingly, his fifth season required a waiver from the NCAA, which apparently attached the two-game breather to offset Hanks' contribution to that hard-earned victory four years ago.
Gardner appeared in three of Michigan's first four games. Against UConn and ND his box score totaled one rush for –4 yards but against BGSU he had 6 rushes for 25 yards and went 7 of 10 for 85 yards and a TD in the air. If I'm Dave Brandon I'm making the first couple of games of 2015 walkovers. Which Dave Brandon is going to do anyway because…
Dave Brandon does not Get It. This is awful:
"I don't believe we can or should go on the road for nonconference games when we can put 113,000 people in our stadium. It's, financially, the right thing to do. It's the right thing to do for our fans, in terms of their ticket packages. And we're going to alternate with Notre Dame, so we're going to have one game on the road every other year. So the rest of those games, I would like to have at Michigan Stadium."
Kiss ever seeing an interesting non-ND nonconference opponent goodbye. This is another symptom of the AD's descent into full-blown corporate ninnydom: we get to play Alabama in Dallas because it makes incrementally more money than having an exciting home game. Brandon fails to understand that the point of an athletic department is not to accumulate the biggest Scrooge McDuck vault. (See also: renting the Big House for your special event, though that's far less offensive since I don't have to buy a 70 dollar ticket to the Jones-Wilson wedding. Unless I do. Do I?) Even if it was, the marginal difference between one home game against a real opponent and two body-bag games from schools charging a million each is not that much. People will suck up the difference on the ticket cost: a Clemson ticket that costs $80 will make people happier than an EMU one that costs $70.
At least we won't have to endure three pointless games against non-BCS opponents yearly for too long. Schools have been told to clear the decks in 2017. Presumably that's when the Big Ten will go to nine conference games. That's is not as cool as actually seeing teams from other conferences but better than our yearly battle for county pride.
Ohio State didn't get anything extra handed them by the NCAA. Time for a homer check. Matt Hinton:
Is it really possible for the people in charge to have that little interest in enforcing their own rules, as long as the paperwork is in order? …
The Ohio State and USC cases are similar in the sense that they both involve a star accepting a lot of money from shady characters on the fringes of the program, but the the case against OSU is on a different level. Where USC's violations (as chronicled by the NCAA's final verdict) involved a single player, Ohio State's involve at least six. Where USC consistently disputed that anyone affiliated with the program knew what was going on with Bush — as well as the sketchy evidence the NCAA used to reach that conclusion — the paper trail leading from Jim Tressel's hard drive is an indisputable smoking gun. Which he intentionally concealed as the offending players led the Buckeyes to another conference championship. Ohio State's star player(s) and its head coach did the crime, and no one denies it. Tressel's silence after being tipped to the investigation is the definition of a program failing to cooperate. He's the head coach: He is the program.
At this point, any athletic director with half a brain is going to set up a firewall between himself and the head coach. Oh, sure, there will be any number of compliance people who will be sent around wagging fingers at coaches about following regulations. But there will also be plenty of blind eyes turned to what those coaches are doing when the compliance folks aren’t in the room with them. So when the shit inevitably hits the fan, those ADs and the presidents they work for can blink their eyes vapidly at the NCAA investigators, claim they had no idea what was going on and swear they’ll get rid of the rogue bad apple. And it’ll work.
Nice system you got there, NCAA.
Mark Emmert, you have lost our confidence in your ability to do the job.
The next time you speak, we won't be able to take you seriously thanks to news that Ohio State would not face additional charges of failure to monitor or lack of institutional control in the school's infraction case.
'It's all about what the NCAA can prove, not what we've read' is the company line. Well, you had a chance to prove things but you said you weren't going to try.
It’s pathetic, really. The rats see a ship sailing to probation, and it’s every dirty, cheating program for itself.
Ohio State got out first, and now North Carolina sees the opening. Soon enough, Oregon will too.
Here’s the best part of this growing, sordid tale: The NCAA is standing with open arms on the other side.
Want to blame someone for North Carolina’s utterly bizarre firing of coach Butch Davis, who was never mentioned once in the program’s lengthy NCAA Notice of Allegations? Blame Ohio State.
Better yet, blame the NCAA – and more specifically, president Mark Emmert.
Meanwhile Mandel, the guy who was predicting this would happen, hasn't taken up a position on whether it's good or bad. I haven't found anyone who doesn't have a framed Andy Katzenmoyer jersey who thinks this is anything other than total horseshit. Homer check tenuously passed.
Meanwhile, OSU confirms that Terrelle Pryor was ineligible for the entirety of last year and bans him from contact with the program without explaining why. Where is the extra violation that gets Pryor that treatment while the other five players remain on the team, associated with the program. Is the NCAA interested in this? Apparently not.
There is a recent precedent for a team not getting failure to monitor or LOIC (which come on) and still getting hammered: Alabama got 21 scholarships docked and a two-year bowl ban for various boosters paying dudes to go to Alabama. If Ohio State gets something similar, fine. The NCAA's two-eyes-for-an-eye policy could see at least 12 scholarships obliterated and two years of bowl ban even without LOIC if the committee is like "hey, your head coach lying to keep a half-dozen players eligible and hoodwinking us to let them play in a bowl game… that's bad."
loldantonio. Mark Dantonio called Jim Tressel a "tragic hero."
Then Jim Brandstatter was all like "loldantonio" and Dantonio was all like "paraphrase of insanely misused Teddy Roosevelt quote about being in the arena," because that's what people who say stupid things do when they are criticized for saying stupid things.
The Big Ten Network made itself into a feed. Press release:
BTN2Go features a live feed of all BTN linear network programming, including more than 40 football games, over 100 men’s basketball games and hundreds of other live events, as well as Extra Football Game Channels, on-demand programming and archived content.
BTN2Go will be offered exclusively through BTN’s participating cable, satellite and telco distribution partners as an authenticated digital service to subscribers who already receive BTN as part of their video subscription.
If the authenticated bit lets you watch the BTN if you're in Alabama despite the locals not giving a damn, that's great as long as it works better than the streaming service did a year ago when I tried it for an hockey game. If it's ESPN3 quality, lovely.
Desmond Howard had a good idea. Via Get The Picture:
“But if you want to play the education game, then check this out. If they get my likeness for life, then they should be committed to my education for life. So if Mark Ingram 20 years from now, when they’re still selling his jerseys in Tuscaloosa, says ‘You know what? I want to get my Ph.D.’ Guess who should pay for that? They should be committed to his education for life. They’re still selling his jerseys.”
If a school is still profiting off a guy who had a few years in the NFL and now has some messed up knees and maybe wants a more saleable degree, he should be able to get it.
Wolverine Historian posted a bunch of games. Bo becomes the winningest coach in school history with a victory in The Game:
John Gibson defects to the OHL, Michigan picks up Michael Downing. Let's not mince words: dropping a college commitment less than a month before classes start is a dick move. I get that he'll get more games next year because he probably won't be splitting time, but exactly no information has changed since he committed and signed a LOI. Blah blah blah about "doing what's best for me" is what they say on Jerry Springer, too.
Michigan now has zero backup to Hunwick and is in a desperate search for his replacement next year. At least whoever they pick up—they likely need two goalies—won't have a midget dynamo blocking their path.
In happier news, Michigan's somewhat glaring hole on D going forward is smaller thanks to Downing's commitment for 2013. Downing was the third pick and first defenseman in the USHL Futures Draft. He's coming off a strong showing at the U16 Festival. OHL defection risk currently seems low: he's from CC, has an older brother already in the USHL, and was drafted in the flyer area of the OHL draft (8th round) by Sarnia, a team not known for picking up off college-bound folk.
People discussed ways to prevent "Jerry, Jerry, Jerry" events. Gibson's very very late decision spurred a round of "what can we do" from Yost Built and The United States of Hockey. Yost Built wonders about making a hockey LOI binding in the same way an NTDP commitment is. Someone will have to ping The Bylaw Blog for confirmation but that would redefine the LOI in such a comprehensive fashion it wouldn't be a LOI anymore. It's currently a non-legal agreement enforced by a non-NCAA organization of schools interested in reducing chaos.
The United States of Hockey discusses whether or not it's a good idea to allow CHL players to play NCAA. He says no, and he's right. CHL teams have no incentive to keep athletes NCAA eligible even now; removing that restriction would provide an incentive to actually discourage players from keeping up with their books. The number of players headed the other way would be few. Meanwhile, the USHL has established itself a high quality league designed to get kids to college. This would hurt it as some players choose the CHL over it.
It's a moot point anyway: the NCAA just relaxed regulations on foreign players playing with pros. Hockey specifically requested and acquired an exemption.
So there's not much the NCAA can do. The one thing I'd suggest is prohibiting American 16 and 17 year olds from playing CHL hockey in Canada. As we learned during the Max Domi song and dance, Hockey Canada currently prohibits Canadians from leaving the country to play junior. Domi's dad would have had to "move to" Indiana to get his kid eligible for the USHL, a major hurdle for anyone who didn't have a long NHL career.
USA hockey should adopt the same policy, limiting American high-schoolers who want to play in the CHL to the small number of American teams in the WHL and OHL*.
*[The Q just shut down their only American team, the ridiculously-named Lewiston MAINEacs.]
Austin Hatch is still in a coma a month after the plane crash. At least that's what his local paper says. Depressing.
Zak Irvin picked Michigan. Covered yesterday, but dang if Beilein's recruiting hasn't been on a steady upward trajectory since his first class. It's got to plateau soon, but that plateau looks like a Sweet 16 team.
Also, UMHoops has uncovered the first grainy videos of the camera-shy Irvin.
People covered ADs golfing like it was news. I don't care if it's July. A story about an athletic director playing golf against another athletic director is time that could have been spent on something more socially productive like spitting off a balcony. I'm not linking to any of this stuff. Sports editors across the state: you have suffered the mother of all eye-rollings.
Baseball made its RPI more Northern friendly. By acknowledging that—surprise!—having to spent the first month or two of the season on the road is a significant handicap, Big Ten teams that are actually kind of good will stand a better shot of making the tournament. They also eliminated some bonuses/penalties for teams at the extreme ends of the the range.
Getting those kind of good B10 teams remains a chore. As long as this is true…
Some schools are able to play 35-40 of their 56 allowable games at home, while other teams, due to factors such as weather, may play only 20 home games.
…the playing field will never be anywhere close to level, but good luck trying to change that.
In related news, Jonathan Bornstein moves to Honduras. Bob Bradley was fired and replaced by Jurgen Klinsmann as the head of the USMNT. I get people's reservations about Klinsmann's reputation, which is largely based on one World Cup with Germany and a flameout with Bayern Munich, but if there's one thing the US needs now it's a holistic look at how they develop talent and how it can be improved. The talent gap with Mexico won't be huge for the rest of this WC cycle, but it's hard to see the US not taking a back seat once the Dempsey/Donovan/Dolo/Boca generation ages out after Brazil. There are 100x fewer Uruguayans than Americans, man: there's no reason the US shouldn't be able to produce a few world class players.
Also! PSU QB Paul Jones is academically ineligible, leaving the QB competition there just Bolden and McGloin. The Big Ten further proved that putting their athletic directors in charge of naming anything just leads to a successories poster. BTN revenues increase 21(!) percent over last year. A Michigan undergrad built the largest solar array in the state. Basketball agreed to a home and home with Arkansas. Doctor Saturday predicts 7-5 again, but adding up the "likely win/tossup/likely loss" bits seems to point to 8-4. Gameday likely for the ND game.