I'VE HAD JUST ABOUT ENOUGH OF YOU SONNY
Goodbye Gateway. You probably have a vague familiarity with Gateway High School in Pennsylvania as that place that puts out a bunch of guys who Michigan recruits, occasionally secures, but more often go elsewhere in the Midwest, sometimes annoyingly. Justin King, one-time Michigan lock-type substance who ended up at Penn State, is the most frustrating loss in retrospect. While King's presence with PSU didn't help them win any games against Michigan…
…adding an All-Big Ten corner (even if a second team one) to the 2006 team had the potential to flip one or both of the OSU and USC games, in which you may remember Chris Graham and Morgan Trent getting torched repeatedly. In Graham's defense, he was a brick of muscle badly miscast as a nickel corner against OSU's passing spread that year, which is all the more reason King's presence could have been a game-hanging one.
You may also remember Gateway as the home of Shayne Hale and Cameron Saddler, two of the guys on the "Pittsburgh is basically Mississippi" list of players who inexplicably chose the local half-empty NFL stadium over, you know, Michigan. And others I suppose. I was pretty sure that Michigan had acquired at least a couple guys from that school (Marlin Jackson?) but Rivals shows none.
Anyway, this is an extremely long preamble to a surprising happening: due to severe budget cuts it looks like long-time Gateway coach Terry Smith may be forced out. The school district is dropping their athletic director position—also held by Smith—to part-time and the guy can get a regular gig somewhere else. Any impact this has on Michigan will be minimal since PA recruiting has been erratic at best since Teryl Austin departed, but apparently the mention of changes at Gateway are enough to prompt the fist-shaking realization of what could have been if Justin King had just gone where everyone expected him to. I still remember the post-it note I would scribble Michigan's hypothetical recruiting class on when in boring work meetings.
The comparison is inescapable. MGoFave-rave Brian Phillips spent the duration of Wimbledon at Wimbledon, returning with autism-spectrum-on-the-scene reports about a triumphant Roger Federer that frequently reference the capital-A "Apparatus" and find Phillips yelled at by a multicultural cornucopia of annoyed television people.
It's impossible to read them and not think about David Foster Wallace, and yet Phillips comes out looking pretty okay despite that inevitability. I enjoyed them… a lot. It turns out I like reading about tennis far more than I enjoy watching it. You might as well. Five parts!
- Part 1: finding a press pass and having a hallucinatory experience
- Part 2: Nadal loses to some guy!
- Part 3: People, toilets, things happening
- Part 4: Phillips's comically bloodshot eye, etc
- Part 5: Watching Murray lose to Federer in a room with a spasming Scottish lady
I love Grantland. Viva Bill Simmons.
But you're supposed to be an incorporeal floating voice. Fouad goes down the twitter rabbit hole and comes out with Carl Grapentine in the flesh:
He's got a radio show in Chicago and is not a ball of soothing energy, which is quite a surprise. Fouad finds this a little disturbing, and I'm with him. But I find this more disturbing:
I know there are some anti-Grapentine folks out there in the fan base
Who are these people? We must find them and give them, I don't know, Fort Wayne Mad Antz season tickets. Grapentine's voice is as integral to the Michigan Stadium experience as Bud Lynch's is at Joe Louis. He's the voice of the program. I find the idea people would dislike him—maybe prefer the FREEEEE PIZZZZAAA guy—alarming.
Good luck with that. If you're not a season ticket holder and you want to buy single-game tickets to the MSU game, you have to buy UMass plus two of Air Force, Illinois, Northwestern, and Iowa. Total charge for the four games is $380, $95 bucks a ticket… which seems about double what you could get from scalpers on gameday. I'm guessing they'll sell out since scalpers will try to make it work selling to people pathologically afraid of going to the stadium without a ticket in hand.
NCAA reviews coming out. Unlike myself, Ace is still a feverish devotee thanks to a band of friends who he plays with online. He'll have a review whenever he can pry himself away. While you're waiting, MJD says "just buy last year's," which he thought was a major leap forward in the series. Midnight Maize highlights the OCD approach—which was mine when I kept buying the thing—taken by the serious folks at Operation Sports. Some of these complaints are the same ones I had five years ago:
Apparently, Brent Venables taught the NCAA Football 13 team all about safety play because receivers run right past them into the open field. Vertical routes with fast receivers are nothing but money, it's horrendous. …
There aren't penalties in football except for the occasional holding and offsides!" - Anyone [whose] only experience with football was through NCAA Football 13. …
There are more plays than just screen plays and deep passes computer AI. Seriously. The A.I. Playcalling is absolutely atrocious from what I'm seeing in the early going. Or maybe it's just the AI's execution? Regardless, the AI seems way off this year when it comes to running an offense.
I'm glad I missed the era when four years into your dynasty nobody had a kicker who could hit an extra point.
On the Dantonio impression. Shane Morris deployed one:
What makes this funny to me is that this is clearly a conversation that actually happened almost word for word. Shane's clearly talking about Taybor Pepper, the longsnapper who was going to walk-on at Michigan before Dantonio tossed him a scholarship. Shane adds a "State" in there when he means just "Michigan," so it's a little confusing, but it's clear that at some camp Dantonio approached Shane Morris and had a little exchange about the importance of long-snapping.
Which is really important starting NOW. 2011: no one cares about long-snappers even a little. 2012: Auburn pays 180k for one.
The pointlessness of watch lists. It's watch list season, when every returning starter in America is named to their positionally-appropriate reminder that Award X exists. This will be the only time watch lists are mentioned on the blog, because this is how silly they are:
Brendan Gibbons converted 1-of-5 field-goal attempts as a freshman in 2010, which helped lead the Michigan football team to a last-place finish in placekicking -- nationally.
Two years later, he's one of 30 players to land on the watch list for the Lou Groza Award, which is presented annually to the nation's top kicker.
No offense to Keith Stone, but Gibbons's career long is 43 yards. Watch lists are inane.
Quality people. Kitchener has apparently filed a pointless lawsuit against the Daily because they said they offered Trouba money. Given the standards for libel prosecution on both sides of the border, the chances of success are 0% and the Rangers are threatening freedom of the press because they'd like to maintain the fiction that certain OHL players get dollars in excess of the $50-a-week stipend they haven't changed since the 80s.
Etc.: The free Blue Ribbon Big Ten preview this year is Michigan. The primary question it asks is "why would anyone pay for this"? Their prediction is… not made. Woo! Meanwhile, Phil Steele says M is one of 11 teams that fit the "national championship mold".
The Insight Bowl is now called the Valley of the Sun Bowl, not to be confused with that other Sun Bowl. It is now the only bowl game other than the Rose and Gator to have an actual non-sponsor name, which means it's probably not long for this world.
Ribs. Meyer and Hoke ate them.
also via Mike Rothstein. For whatever reason, pictures of football coaches eating == MONEY
Those dudes look like they know what they're doing in re: making ribs. That's from the Sound Mind, Sound Body camp, which Ace attended and will have a report on later. One of the main themes of the day was "I can't believe this is legal":
Because the Sound Mind, Sound Body event is a charitable camp, college coaches are able to attend and provide instruction to the campers -- something that's outlawed at most public camps throughout the country.
As a result, Borges spent most the of the day giving pointers to Shane Morris. If that's legal, expect one of two things to happen: it's quickly outlawed or similar camps multiply like weeds.
Meanwhile, this seems cute given Michigan's lockdown on state of Michigan prospects whose fathers didn't play at State:
Michigan, especially under Hoke, has developed a reputation of having recruiting success in Ohio over the years. Now, Meyer says, it’s his aim to return the favor.
“I know this area real well," said Meyer, who once coached at nearby Bowling Green State University. "As for Ohio State ... we have some very good players from this area.
“If we have not, we will."
Not ribs. Via Blake Countess, poor Pee Wee and his grim salad of raw-looking broccoli and stuff:
It will all be worth it when you're ragdolling Alabama OL in fall. (Please.)
KYLE MEINKE IS GRIM. The AnnArbor.com reporter got screencapped by the youtubes looking like he's about to heroically tackle a terrorist or Mark Dantonio:
Cue the crack Free Press investigatory teams. Michigan has again claimed that unspecified academic performance is good and stuff:
Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon said last week the Wolverines registered the best "academic performance" in their history under first-year coach Brady Hoke last year. He didn't cite specific numbers.
The last time this happened the Free Press hammered at Michigan with FOIA requests until they scuttled the claim. Here's guessing that doesn't happen this time around.
UMass reinforced. You probably already know that Mike Cox transferred home to UMass for his final year. They've also added former touted ND recruits Deion Walker and Hafis Williams, a wideout and a DT. They still shouldn't be a problem now that Michigan has one of those defensive coordinator things.
Longsnapper rabble rabble 'Bama what? If you're still slightly peeved that Michigan expended a precious scholarship slot on a longsnapper this might make you feel better:
According to BamaOnline, Saban did something at last week's special teams camp in Tuscaloosa that he's never done in his 17-year career -- offered a scholarship to a long snapper.
"I snapped really good during the camp and Coach Saban told me in his office that they were going to offer a long snapper within the next two days after a staff meeting," Mazza told BamaOnline. "The next day I called him and he told me he was going to offer me."
I'm confused about how these guys are suddenly valuable enough to warrant scholarship slots, but apparently they are.
[HT: Holdin' the Rope.]
How can you do the divide. This from Orson's introductory course on bad sports rhetoric is a truly amazing screenshot from the World Wide Leader in having no idea what that slash thing under the question mark is for:
Cram the data into your meme. The data doesn't fit? Yes it does.
NFL draft stuff. Michigan recruits feature in the United States Of Hockey's American top ten. Defenseman Jacob Trouba:
Michigan-commit Jacob Trouba is a bruising defenseman who showed what he can do with his big frame at the National Team Development Program. He also proved he can play above his head by his performance at the World Junior Championship. Some are considered Trouba relies on his physicality too much and that there might not be much offensive upside. However, for a physical defenseman, Trouba can skate well and has good agility. His hockey sense has vastly improved, even though he’s still prone to the bad decision now and again.
Sounds more like a Komisarek type than another Merrill-style puck mover.
Forward Boo Nieves:
…a 13-game stint in the USHL confirmed some of the concerns that Nieves struggles with the physical aspects of the game. The thing is, he has some filthy puck skills and a really nice 6-2, 185 frame. Nieves could have calmed concerns in a long USHL playoff run, but he had to return to Kent to finish his schooling so he could get into Michigan for next year. Still, those puck skills allude to some nice potential, but he’s still a likely mid- to late-second round choice.
Michigan's going to need scoring punch from him right away; hopefully he can deliver despite his issues in a short USHL stint.
In other hockey recruiting news, Michigan picked up a 2014 commit from Dexter Dancs, a BCHL kid from the same team that provided Michigan with Brendan Morrison, amongst others. Michigan used to make a habit of grabbing high-scoring forwards out of that league but hasn't taken a BCHL player in a while. College Hockey Prospective got a quote out of his coach that provides some insight into what kind of player Michigan's getting:
“Dexter Dancs is a big, young, raw power forward with an excellent skating stride and an equally as good set of hands and shot,” said Hengen. “Dexter will as easily take the puck hard to the net, set up a play or drop his gloves to stand up for a teammate. Dexter will be another one of many Michigan Wolverines that they will develop to have a chance of playing pro hockey.”
Don't get too excited if Dancs puts up video game numbers next fall, as the BCHL is a notoriously high-scoring league.
Irish secondaries are thin. After recruiting defections and plenty of graduation, Notre Dame's secondary is a major concern this fall. It's one that just got more concern-y after Austin Collinsworth's availability next fall has resolved itself:
Notre Dame junior safety Austin Collinsworth has undergone shoulder surgery and is expected to miss a significant portion of -- if not the entire -- 2012 football season, ND director of football sports information Brian Hardin confirmed Wednesday.
Collinsworth suffered a torn labrum in his left shoulder during ND’s wrap-up to spring practice, the Blue-Gold Game, on April 21. When the condition didn’t improve with rest, surgery was scheduled. Recovery time is projected to be four to six months.
Collinsworth was probably going to be the nickelback, possibly the starter if Jamoris Slaughter was forced to move to corner.
Etc.: MGoUser informs world that Michigan has acquired walk-on WR/TE Michael Jocz. Will Campbell takes the misdemeanor plea, obviously. Surprise: football recruit who commits without ever visiting is just using you as a placeholder. What everyone wants from a playoff.
I missed you. John L Smith, never leave us again. We have gone too long without a college football coach organizing "etiquette team dinners."
College football should institute a rule: every year one team who fires their head coach is randomly chosen, and John L Smith coaches that team on an interim basis for a year. It's for the good of everyone. Yes.
Across this line you DO NOT… Hoke restating the obvious:
"The in-state rivalry is always something that's important to us," Hoke told sports editors and reporters at Weber's Inn. "We have not done our job the last four years if you're on the Michigan side of things. That's coaching, and that has to be better.
"But the Ohio game is the Ohio game. I don't think (that importance is) going to change," Hoke said. "And that doesn't lessen anything on the Michigan State game at all, because we realize in this state, you draw a line in the sand."
Obviously this was in response to some question about whether people respond to stimuli—
Hoke was asked if the Michigan State game carries even more importance for Michigan now than when he was here as an assistant under former coach Lloyd Carr, in part because of the improved Spartans under coach Mark Dantonio and also because of the Big Ten title game.
"Brady Hoke, can you be accurately defined as a life form?"
"Well, Lansing-based reporter, I can tell you I do respond to stimuli. Here, look. I shine a light in my eye. The pupil contracts. I hope this has been informative."
Hoke is also in favor of keeping the Ohio State game at the end of the season.
BREAKING EXCLUSIVE. Hearing that Connecticut offensive tackle Harry Poggins will commit to Michigan by Tuesday at the latest, or may have already done so. EXCLUSIVE DO NOT REPORT.
So… the long snapper. I don't get it either, man. In case you missed it, Michigan picked up a longsnapper with much fanfare yesterday. The fanfare comes because Scott Sypniewski says he's got a full ride, and this makes people confused. I am among you. Michigan picked up a walk-on who seemed pretty good last year (not the one MSU poached) and has a couple years of Sugar Bowl receiving MVP runner-up Jareth Glanda left. You'd think Michigan would wait and see if they could turn that slot into an excellent prospect before spending it on a guy whose main goal will be total anonymity.
Sometimes these things are confused. Lloyd Carr's last act as Michigan head coach was to bring George Morales aboard, but I don't think he ever factored into scholarship discussions. We'll see if Sypniewski signs a letter of intent. He may have been offered a conditional scholarship in the event Michigan has one at the end of the year, that sort of thing. If it's an out and out scholarship offer to a long snapper in early June that would be… odd.
Goodnight noon. Air Force and UMass are both 3:30 kickoffs, UMass on BTN and Air Force an ABC/ESPN2 reverse mirror. If those games aren't at noon it's hard to imagine Michigan will play more than one or two games then all year.
If you go to the games and care a lot about college football, that sucks. Most of the interesting games are on at the same time as yours and you can't watch the end of the noon games. Then you miss a chunk of the evening games. I feel like I've been getting less informed about everything going on in CFB, and that's a main reason why. Also, do we understand how many humiliating Notre Dame losses we're not seeing because of overlapping game times? THIS IS SERIOUS.
This is admittedly less of a problem during lame nonconference weeks in which Air Force-Michigan is worthy of ABC. The games we'll be missing in that window include Syracuse-USC, Purdue-Notre Dame, and… uh… UNC-Wake Forest. Songs will not be sung about September 8th, 2012.
Side note: a while back I was told that BTN could not show 3:30 games because of the ABC contract. Clearly there are some exceptions to that. Maybe it's just conference games?
The lines? Jamiemac promises a full evaluation of the hypothetical lines put out by Beyond The Bets on this here site a bit later. I'll be interested to hear his take on their assumptions. The conference schedule, with games Michigan is an underdog in bolded:
- @ Purdue: M –7
- Illinois: M –18
- MSU: M –6.5
- @ Nebraska: M +3.5
- @ Minnesota: M –14.5
- Northwestern: M –17.5
- Iowa: M –14(!!!)
- @ OSU: M +4
Those are not real lines. I assume a line with Michigan favored by two touchdowns over Iowa would be obliterated in ten minutes. But I don't bet. That's Jamie's area of expertise. For his part, Jamie wants to jump on MSU with the point.
Anyway, if those assumptions are anywhere near accurate that's about equal to a prediction of a 6.5-1.5 record. That feels a half-game high to me.
Position paper: Chick Fil'A. As the Big Ten-SEC blogger fight drags on into a sixth decade, positions must be taken. Here is one on Chick Fil'A: it's not as good as Southerners claim, especially displaced Southerners, but it is a cut above competing chicken sandwiches from other fast food joints. I'm sorry if this has caused anyone to snap in disappointment in either direction.
Big Two, Little Ten update. ESPN revamps/expands its rankings. No significant moves except a bit of a fall for Mike McCray and the addition of Dukes, Butt, and Gedeon to the specifically ranked. Michigan has 16 guys in their 300, OSU 12, the rest of the Big Ten combined: 9.
This is their list of the top 17 players in the midwest:
Hokemon, yo. Note that the two linemen not committed to Michigan on the list didn't have a chance to pull the trigger. Also, damn you Lane Kiffin.
Weekly Glenn Robinson III hype. From the Indy Star:
"Every time I see him play," said Indiana All-Stars coach Craig Teagle, "his stock goes up with me."
The 6-6 Robinson, who goes by "Tre," has earned rave reviews with his All-Star teammates this week. On a team filled with talent from the immediate area -- nine of the 13 players on the roster are from either Marion County or a neighboring county -- there was a bit of unfamiliarity with Robinson, who played at Lake Central High School in the extreme northwest corner of the state.
It didn't take long for the Michigan recruit to make an impression with his above-the-rim style, dunking nearly everything he touched in a scrimmage on Sunday.
"Wow," said North Central guard Patrick Ingram. "I've seen him play before, but didn't really know him that well. I like his game a lot. He can dunk from anywhere."
This basketball season promises to be fun.
Etc.: Wisconsin kerfuffler Jared Uthoff transfers to Iowa, ensuring that Bo Ryan goes out the Woody Hayes way. Ohio State gave back its Sugar Bowl profit for tatgate, but Gene Smith kept a 60k bonus for reaching the game. Hockey recruit Alex Kile profiled. Michigan pays their assistants money.