ncaa: the game
Got a bunch of events and site business to go over today:
See you in this: We FINALLY got the J-Mo one done and approved and for sale:
— Seth M. Fisher (@Misopogon) July 31, 2015
You have no idea how many conversations can be had about a bracketed 's'. Take the biggest number you could think of, then think of more. In two years we should finally have approval on the Harbaugh Pyramid of Greatness, by which time all of humanity will have weighed in on whether parentheticals are necessary.
See you Friday: We're going to be at Literati at 7 this Friday, doing whatever they do at book readings except this one we talk about Michigan football. But you can totally omit that last bit and sound cultured to your Ann Arbor friends when you say you want to be at this book reading downtown. If they press, it's the story of a lonely and misunderstood middle aged man who returns to his hometown from years of rule by a company that didn't know how to use guards correctly.
Brian will see you in D.C.: Brian will be there next week, speaking at the alumni association's get-together on Tuesday, August 11. While we're on the capital's alumni association club, if you're going to the Maryland game, that will be the association's big annual away tailgate.
See you for homecoming. We've been invited to the big homecoming tailgate with the alumni association, noon to 3:30 before the Northwestern game (10/10). We talked it over and decided not to ever get company polos for it, but we do have plans to wear snarky t-shirts. And to put Brian on stage. You'll find David and me over by the TVs since there are at least three noon Big Ten games.
Football on the decline? Is this a stupid question?
I didn't open any of the threads where this popped up this week (I think somebody had a poll), but BlueBlood2991 was recovering from surgery so he tried to answer it by comparing population shifts and economic changes to high school football participation.
There is of course some correlation, but he explains population shift as the primary factor behind huge leaps in football participation in Georgia and North Carolina. This could be a fallacy: Ad hoc, ergo propter hoc. It could be an effect of money moving into new-build suburban communities, and parents using sports to put their kids in social situations, or the kids using sports to prove their worth to their new schoolmates. Football interest is hard to show in participation except over longer than a decade periods. But who's participating is interesting:
Again, correlation does not imply causation. Less educated families may be poorer, thus less able to afford sports, especially football which does get quite expensive even if your school provides most of the equipment (very few do).
Etc. Alum96 is on to M00N with his previews. MaizeJacket had a counterproposal to my "let's everyone join one conference then dictate terms" plan—I like his "Challenge" idea but like a lot of good ideas it won't happen because teams want to schedule as many games as possible way ahead of time.
Best of the Board:
They don't mention puking on the recruiting trips:
From a story by Bennie Joppru about practicing with Carr. This part comes after four puking sessions:
I went back to the dorms in south quad and started to pack my clothes. "I'm heading back home to Minnesota and I'll walk on and be a Gopher". I knew I couldn't walk out the front on the dorm with my clothes so I threw my bag out the 12 floor window and walk down the stairwell, avoiding the elevator. I got the first taxi I saw and said "take me to the bus station".
I got to the bus station only to find out I was 25 dollars short of a ticket. This was 1998 so CD's were as good as money then and I had plenty. I told the ticket guy if he gave me the 25 dollars I needed for a ticket he could have any 10 CD's he wanted.
Of course he picked all of my favorite CD's, but I had my ticket, no more puking I thought to myself.
Then a man tapped him on his shoulder. For those who don't know already, Joppru is basically what would happen if a blogger had football talent.
Back when they could still get away with selling me the opportunity to play as Denard without paying Denard, EA would make some minor tweak to its NCAA game, maybe add some stupid feature like emails from your mom or mascot teams, and basically sell you the updated roster pack as a new game every year.
Since they're still working out how to make this game while paying the people who make it so valuable, the internet has taken over and done a better job for free. The roster pack is basically going to be this year's game. I'll have a full post on it. All hail those of you who worked on it.
Preposterous Stolen Victories Over Northwestern Now Worth Half
|Not all 50/50s are created equal: @Maryland is looking like 60/40, BYU/Utah the opposite.|
Saturdayedge's annual Big Ten betting prospectus (it's free but only with an email signup – NOW with non-depressing cover!) came out last week. The writing is very cliché, and they seem to be too fixated on recruiting stars, but I always value the betters' perspectives because accuracy really is their prime motivation. That Michigan averaged 5.25 points under the spread (by far the worst in the conference) should come as no surprise, nor that the two rivals, even at home, are the two near-guaranteed losses.
This is something I haven't seen in a Michigan preview in a long time:
Strength – The Running Game: Running backs De’Veon Smith, Derrick Green, Drake Johnson and Ty Isaac can all produce if they get the chance.
He mentions the O-line should be decent and Harbaugh teams always run well, but unless this means "knows how to run into a gaping hole (sometimes)" that seems overoptimistic. He also joins Shane Morris on an extremely short list of people who think Shane Morris might start. Anyway for those who can't corner Jamie Mac on the regular, a free and at least fly-by informed gamblers' perspective on the conference is worth your time.
Unless you're drafting against me in Draftageddon in which case you should read only preseason award watch lists and ESPN's Top 25 list. Tommy Armstrong's still on the board, Adam!
Not a new pos-bang record:
WD is an internet obsessive, which as an internet obsessive who is friends with many internet obsessives I have great appreciation for. But then, that was a bit much:
The post that currently holds the pos record is 465/0 to the turn-based RPG gif by chunkums. Chunkums is LEGEND. Upvotes go away after a time but I made sure to catch that one when it did so a few years ago.
Etc. Liz, our podcast sponsor, made a Top 5 hottest college coaches, because Liz.
Your Moment of Zen:
This guy does hype videos well.
sometimes google image search is art
We are not worried about this frivolous lawsuit. NCAA Football is dead, you guys:
NCAA will not renew EA Sports contract
The NCAA has made the decision not to enter a new contract for the license of its name and logo for the EA Sports NCAA Football video game. The current contract expires in June 2014, but our timing is based on the need to provide EA notice for future planning. As a result, the NCAA Football 2014 video game will be the last to include the NCAA’s name and logo. We are confident in our legal position regarding the use of our trademarks in video games. But given the current business climate and costs of litigation, we determined participating in this game is not in the best interests of the NCAA.
Paired with the credit-rating downgrade the NCAA just received, that sounds like a team of lawyers running around in circles shouting "THINK OF SOMETHING" to each other. Most favored bomb-thrower Patrick Hruby:
What gives is lawyer-ese. The NCAA is never going to publicly say that the O’Bannon case has them scared, because that would imply they’ve done something wrong and therefore have reason to be afraid of adjudication. However, the current facts of the case don’t look good for it: O’Bannon’s claim is rooted allegations that the NCAA and co-defendants EA Sports and the Collegiate Licensing Company colluded to profit from the unauthorized use of former players’ NILs – price-fixing their value at zero – and documents uncovered by the plaintiffs’ lawyers during discovery strongly support said allegatioons.
The other tell? Check out the rest of the NCAA’s brief statement, which says that “given the current business climate and costs of litigation, we determined participating in this game is not in the best interests of the NCAA.” (Bold added.) In this case, current business climate and costs of litigation are lawyer-ese for ruh-roh.
Individual schools and conference can still license their trademarks to EA. Will they? I'm guessing yes, as Kotaku explains that most of the licensing is through the CLC, making the NCAA's decision "nearly a technicality."
If not get ready for EA Sports Football Type Substance And Incredibly Easy To Edit Thing 2015. Back in the day when I was playing the college version of Front Office Football I had to download a file to turn "South Bend" into "Notre Dame," and such, but it's a lot harder to import winged helmets than change names.
Shots fired. Will Muschamp is pretty cheesed off at Urbs, you guys. SEC Media days are ongoing, and Muschamp's turn at the tiller included this gem:
Muschamp, who succeeded Meyer as the Gators' coach, is even borrowing a page from Michigan coach Brady Hoke, who won't even call Ohio State by its full name.
"That's really a dead issue with me," Muschamp said Tuesday at SEC media days. "In both situations, we were turned in by Ohio. We didn't do anything wrong. The University of Florida didn't do anything wrong. And so we appreciated our friends from Ohio making sure we're compliant with NCAA rules. They certainly know a little bit about that subject."
That zing was followed up by a personal shot at Urban Meyer for fostering a murderer he is responsible for. No, seriously:
"You can’t expect a coach to know where all 125 players are all the time," Muschamp said. "But you also can’t stick your head in the sand and think everything is OK. You're 100 percent responsible."
Arrest Urban Meyer! Unless that would help his recruiting, which it might. Arrest Urban Meyer or take a picture of him checking out a Justin Beiber concert?
I hope you guys are better at real defense than computer defense. Ondre Pipkins played Dymonte Thomas in NCAA and came out with a screenshot that is just all kinds of wrong:
Are these 30 minute quarters? Why are you taking Ohio State? Why has Ohio State scored if that was the case? What is going on? IS URBS GOING TO FLIP DYMONTE?
Slive pushing. Self-interest, sure, but self interest in the name of providing a fig leaf of player compensation is better than the alternative:
"The NCAA has not been successful in meeting the full cost of attendance of our student athletes, whether through the so-called miscellaneous expense allowance or some other model that provides broad access to additional funds," said Slive, about to begin his 12th year as commissioner.
The issue, in a nutshell, is that some schools can afford to pay the stipend and some can't. Those that can't are able to keep the idea bottled up. Those that can, like schools in the SEC, are getting tired of it.
"Conferences and their member institutions must be allowed to meet the needs of their student-athletes," Slive said.
Slive followed up by saying that in meetings with other conference commissioners "there appears to be a willingness" to go through with a cost of attendance adjustment, at least until individual schools submarine it through the override process.
Mitch staying. SI spotlights Mitch McGary in a manner that'll get your salivary glands going:
When he submitted his name to the NBA's draft advisory board, McGary was told what he already suspected: He was a surefire first-round pick, and very possibly a lottery pick. The vast majority of college players would have jumped at that opportunity, but McGary defied convention and announced he would stay in school. "I want to prove to people that my potential is much greater than what I showed," McGary explained. "The way I look at it is, so far I've only cracked the glass. Next year I'm trying to break through it."
McGary is down to around 255 after starting last season twenty pounds heavier—too heavy—and you could see the increased stamina and athleticism late. That was the #2 recruit in the country, and Michigan figures to get that this year.
TSN's Mike DeCourcy, meanwhile, says McGary is still a load even at the lighter weight:
4. Jadeveon Clowney was a big topic of conversation at SEC Media Days. What current college hoops player could take your head off if he played football?
DeCourcy: Michigan’s Mitch McGary. Not messing with that dude. If Mitch had been the Wolverine in possession of that football instead of Vincent Smith back in the Outback Bowl, it might have been Clowney whose helmet went flying.
So much for that. If you were hoping that Fox Sports 1 would be an alternative to ESPN, it will, but not in the way you want:
…to differentiate FS1, to lend it personality and create a distinct brand, Fox is going with a concept that David Hill, chief executive officer of Fox Sports, calls “jockularity.” The plan is for FS1 to be the funny, irreverent, less serious sports channel.
Among other things, that involves hiring a couple of Canadian pranksters to anchor the network’s flagship program and building another show around Regis Philbin.
So much for that unless the Canadian is Norm Macdonald.
Never say die. The Big Ten has created a new bowl at Ford Field, but the Pizza Bowl guys won't let it die:
Ken Hoffman feels there’s no reason Ford Field can’t handle playing host to two bowl games starting in 2014.
Hoffman’s Little Caesars Pizza Bowl was on the outside looking in following the news Wednesday the Detroit Lions bowl game was official, starting Dec. 30, 2014, with a Big Ten team going up against a team from another power conference.
Guys. It's over.
Etc.: Eleven Warriors' guide to visiting Ann Arbor is seemingly designed to get you to dislike Ann Arbor, but I guess it's aimed at guys who get ATV catalogs. Pro sports attendance beginning to suffer in baseball and basketball. Average Boston Red Sox ticket cost: 88 dollars! FIFA can't sell the World Cup to pay-TV in the UK.
Music City Bowl will pit an SEC team versus an ACC/B10 team for the next five years. A la carte ESPN projected cost: 30 bucks. Thanks, people who don't care about sports but pay for ESPN anyway. Old man yells at cloud. Potential VCU rematch in the second round of Puerto Rico.
Previously on MGoBlog: Seth's review of the same.
NCAA 14 hits the shelves today, and EA Sports was kind enough to give us an advance copy to review — for the last four days, I've dutifully ignored the lure of sunlight, company, and basic hygiene in order to cram in as many hours as possible with the game. The things I do for you people.
My review of last year's edition eschewed the normal overview of gameplay and the various modes, instead focusing on how to make another underwhelming, mostly-redundant NCAA an enjoyable gaming experience. For the last several years, the basic debate surrounding NCAA has been whether to drop $60 for a couple gameplay tweaks (and, inevitably, a few new gameplay bugs) or save the money and hope for a good roster update.
This year, EA finally made enough changes that it truly feels like a new game in most aspects. Dynasty Mode got a much-needed overhaul, the gameplay adjustments are mostly positive, and the game as a whole feels more realistic. There are gripes, to be sure, but overall I think this is the strongest NCAA in a while.
There have been enough changes to the gameplay (I know, right?) that even experienced players will want some time to learn the new features and hone their skills. Before doing anything else, I'd highly recommend going through the "Nike Skills Trainer"* — a series of tutorials/drills that covers all aspects of the game. Doing those not only helps you get used to some new controls, especially with the overhauled option (more on that later), but the drills are fun on their own — I found myself hitting "try again" several times to see if I could earn a gold medal in each drill, which unlocks a player for the online-only Ultimate Team mode. The skills trainer replaced the mini-games (option dash, tug of war, etc.), which I miss dearly — while the skills trainer is fun, you can't play against anyone else, and the mini-games were great for quick round-robins with a few friends — but it's certainly a worthy addition.
The biggest change once you're ready to hit the field is in the running game, where EA has implemented the physics engine that made last year's Madden so enjoyable. Running looks and feels much more like real life than in the past — setting up blocks is paramount, size matters in collisions, and there's a bevy of new animations that mostly look great (there are still kinks — a few tackles I've seen defied physics). With a good offensive line, running between the tackles can actually be effective.
More importantly, the option — and spread option — has been completely revamped, and I'd guess most players will find that running it in some form is their favorite way to play on offense. The game now helpfully points out the defender to read at the mesh point (for the read option or triple-option dive) or for the pitch (traditional option) before the snap, and variations like the mid-line option and inverted veer are now in the playbook. Backs maintain proper pitch relationship — an issue in years past — and quarterbacks can take hits without consistently getting injured or fumbling (this varies depending on ratings, of course, but QBs used to be outrageously brittle). The CPU can finally run an effective option, as well, with no more inexplicable pitches landing three yards behind the back; defending the option is hard, as it should be.
The passing game is mostly unchanged. Ill-advised throws are going to get picked off more often than not, which is realistic but also tough for gamers who don't know how to read defenses. There are still a few money routes — thank me later for recommending TE Trail in short- to mid-yardage situations — but I've found I can't predetermine where I'm throwing the ball unless the defense is completely misaligned given my playcall. Linebackers no longer are supermen, which helps; I wish receivers would do a better job on their own of adjusting to the ball in the air, though.
Defense is, one again, pretty damn difficult, especially if you want to play in the back seven. CPU quarterbacks are ruthlessly accurate; on All-American difficulty, my best hope of stopping a pass was to blitz and hope for a sack or throwaway, which along with the occasional drop appear to be the only ways to force incompletions. There are little-to-no mistimed routes, passes just out of a receiver's reach, or panicked chucks under pressure; even with a stellar secondary, interceptions and incompletions were very hard to come by, and instead I had to sell out with the pass rush or play conservative zones to keep YAC to a minimum.
Run defense is largely about calling the right play; from there, unless you're quite adept at linebacker or safety, the way your CPU teammates react is the biggest determining factor in a run play's success — this isn't unrealistic, but it doesn't make for a particularly enjoyable defensive experience. I've mostly lined up as a DT and focused on getting a big push into the backfield, which is more fun than it sounds (at least for me) and can have a big effect on both the pass and run games — collapsing the pocket on a QB is by far the most effective way to stop a passing play, as they often slide right into an awaiting DE.
The good news here is that EA now allows you to set separate difficulties for offense and defense. If you find yourself turning the ball over on half your possessions, you can knock the offensive difficulty down a notch; same goes for defense if you can't get a stop. This is an imperfect solution to a major problem — defensive gameplay is still quite frustrating — but it's still appreciated.
Now here's where things get really fun. Dynasty Mode finally got an overhaul, and it's a good one. First and foremost is the addition of "Coach Skills" — as you progress through your dynasty, you'll earn points for both on-field and recruiting accomplishments, and those points earn upgrades (the details of which can be found here). This adds a RPG-like angle to dynasty that makes it feel like you're really building towards something, not just running through the same season over and over again. You'll have to decide early on if you want to focus on earning in-game boosts (like Coachstradamus, which at its highest level gives you a 25% chance of identifying the opponent's play type before the snap) or an edge in recruiting (Kitchen Sink, for example, raises the cap on points you can spend recruiting individual players). Other coaches earn these same boosts, so you don't just lap the field as your dynasty wears on.
The second major change is the streamlined recruiting process. You get a certain number of points each week to spend on scouting, offering scholarships, and pitching players — those points aren't separate, so you have to find the right balance of scouting and recruiting early on. The critical change is that you don't have to unlock pitches or reset the number of points spent on a recruit each week — you know from day one which pitches a recruit likes and how many bonus points you'll get each week from them, then choose how many additional points to add from your pool. Those points don't change from week to week unless you change them; if you want, you can set your board in Week 1 and then forget about it (though I wouldn't recommend it). Even if you decide to spend time recruiting each week, the process goes much faster — including in the offseason, where the recruiting process has been cut down from a bloated five-week ordeal into a one-shot bidding war (you get a pool of 10,000 points and all caps for individual player spending go away).
The points system adds much more clarity to recruiting; you know exactly how far ahead or behind you are with a recruit, the bonus points your competition is getting each week, and the baseline number of points you'll earn on a given visit. This allows you to be much more strategic when it comes to targeting recruits, especially the longshots. With the roster cap still at 75 (ugh) and yearly scholarship caps at 25, I've found that narrowing down my recruiting board early and bringing in classes of 15-20 recruits gives me the best chance at landing a top class. Other recruiting tips:
- If you can, max out the Scouting coach skill as quickly as possible. There are plenty of "gems" and "busts" in the prospect field, and identifying those guys early is an easy way to cut down your board and focus on the best prospects. This is especially useful in preseason, when you get 1,000 points to spend solely on scouting.
- DO THE MATH. You can figure out precisely how many points you need to give a recruit based on the bonus points other teams are receiving and the weekly changes on a prospect's top schools board. Sometimes, even if you max out a recruit's weekly points, it's impossible for you to catch another program (usually Alabama). Drop those recruits like they're hot.
- After a certain amount of time, a recruit "locks" into a certain number of schools, and the rest are eliminated from contention — the numbers of schools locked in and how early this happens depends on the recruit. It's worth searching the board on occasion for prospects who are still <25% locked in the latter half of the season; even if the prospect doesn't have initial interest, you can often swoop in and pick these guys up late. This is a great fallback if you miss out on a prospect at a position of need.
- Pay attention to pipelines. Having a certain number of prospects from a specific state makes that state a pipeline, and you earn bonus points with a prospect if they hail from that state. Again, it's all about maximizing your limited number of points, so any edge you can find is helpful.
- The game gives extra points for scheduling visits late in the season — your goal with most prospects should be to get their final visit, and the game encourages you to schedule everyone as late as possible. DON'T ALWAYS DO THIS. Visits can cause huge swings in points, so if you have a comfortable lead for a prospect early, bring them in ASAP and you'll probably lock everyone else out and earn his commitment. Scheduling an early visit can also save you from being locked out, though you'll then have to sweat out the recruit's subsequent visits.
Other than recruiting and coach skills, dynasty mode is mostly the same, which is good — that's always been my go-to mode. My biggest gripe is that there is no playoff starting in 2014 — you're stuck with the BCS in perpetuity, which is especially unfortunate since the game occasionally produces some wonky title games. Exempli gratia:
Even worse: Stanford beat Washington by 30 in their simulated matchup.
EA is probably waiting to unveil the playoff (sorry: cofopoff) as a new "feature" in next year's game. This is pretty lame, EA.
Overall, though, the changes to dynasty mode are a big step in the right direction, making an already enjoyable game mode even better. My only gripe with the coach skills is they can sometimes make things too easy — if Coachstradamus tells me the defense is in a Cover 2, I know enough to audible to a play that will gain 15 yards at worst — but you can set how difficult it is to level up, which helps mitigate that issue. The RPG aspect is something I very much enjoy; I found myself tempted to race through seasons so I could pick up more bonuses and build a true juggernaut.
OTHER GAME MODES
Road To Glory — in which you take a player from high school recruit through his college career — is still in the game and, as EA admitted, is essentially untouched. If you liked the mode in years past, you'll still enjoy it. If you didn't — or found it less compelling than Dynasty Mode — then it's not worth trying again.
EA imported their popular Ultimate Team feature — in which you unlock players through in-game accomplishments, then use them in games against online opponents — to NCAA. You can use these players, which include several all-time greats and (until yesterday) one "oh shit, get him out of here", in head-to-head online seasons or solo challenges. I haven't had the chance to delve into this mode in depth, so I won't comment on its merits except to say that it'd be nice if there was an offline option.
If you're the type who just wants to play the game but still want to play for something, there's a new "2013 Season" mode, which is exactly what it sounds like — you play (or sim, though that seems to defeat the purpose) your way through the 2013 season without having to worry about recruiting and the like. This won't be a feature I use but I'm sure some of you will appreciate it.
It's pretty clear at this stage that EA has maxed out what they can do on the PS3 (oh, hey, just in time for the PS4!). There are some minor graphics improvements — players' muscles are more defined, for one — but the atmosphere falls flat at times; players on the sideline look like they're imported from a PS2, the field and crowd often look flat and dull. This isn't a big deal for me as much as the actual gameplay, especially since it's clear that EA has to hold back on minute details to ensure the game runs smoothy (and I'll take that over picture-perfect fieldturf).
In a long-overdue move, NCAA has new in-game camera angles, including a wide-angle view that allows you to see all 22 players on the field. I haven't toyed around with them much — on the first try, I found the wide angle to be a little too zoomed out — but at least there are options now.
As for the sound, you're still getting the same generic commentary in games, and the same repetitive marching band music in the menus (my first move is always to turn off the menu music and sound FX so I can listen to whatever I want while moving through my dynasty). EA has tried to add to the atmosphere by including piped-in music — yes, "Seven Nation Army" is in the game — which you'll either slightly appreciate or hate with the fury of a thousand suns. (Hi, Brian.)
Aside from the BCS tomfoolery, I've found the game pleasantly devoid of glitches or major issues with simulation. The only real glitch I noticed occurred once, when my CPU opponent went into the hurry-up and, with the rest of the offense set, the center stood over the ball until the play clock ran out. That hasn't happened since and the CPU loves to run the hurry-up, so that's hopefully an easy fix when EA releases the inevitable patch.
This isn't a bug, but a new recruiting feature is "complimentary" visits — no, this doesn't mean your coach heaps an excessive amount of flattery on a recruit, but instead that the player is visiting along with recruits of compatible positions (e.g. having a QB and WR visit in the same week). As a writer, or at least a person with a decent command of the English language, this drives me nuts.
This is my favorite edition of NCAA since they moved to the PS3. The run game is a lot of fun, especially the option, and unlike many I think the passing game is enjoyably challenging. Defense still needs plenty of work, especially in defending CPU quarterbacks, but I'm holding out hope that messing with the sliders — or perhaps a major patch — will alleviate some of the issues. (I didn't touch the sliders for this review so I could give a fair impression of the game right out of the box; if you're a serious gamer, I highly recommend checking the Operation Sports forums for tips on setting sliders.) With the improvements to Dynasty Mode, this is the first time in a while I've felt confident in saying a new edition of NCAA is worth the price tag.
Now if EA could just add the playoff and bring back the mini-games, baby, we'd really have a stew goin'.
*Product placement and ads for in-game extras are both quite prevalent. I found this fairly annoying — and I'm sure Ed O'Bannon does, too — especially when it comes to EA suggesting you purchase booster packs for a game that already costs $60. Long live capitalism, I guess.
Dilemma: The HTTV proofs were delivered at the same time as the game.
First a confession: the last time I bought EA's college football game was 10 (the 2009 season) for PS2. I used to get it every year from the Woodson cover to the Desmond cover and play until it was taking more time than I could excuse because an exercise bike was involved. The exception was '05, which I played for four days before going back to 2004, still the gold standard of the series.
The versions I had were all great for power runs to set up bombs but in the summer of 2009 I was mostly interested in wrecking offensive rushing records with Rich Rod's offense. Like anybody with a touch of ASD, I cannot play until I've filled in and fiddled around with Michigan's rosters. Tate Forcier was like an 80 overall when I was done. Denard was probably set to move to cornerback—remember this was the 2009 offseason, when old men in conference hotels were dancing to Weapon of Choice:
Then I started playing and videogame Forcier would throw 8 interceptions per game because linebackers could leap 100 feet in the air. There was no such thing as an incomplete pass; you threw screens or you threw interceptions. It took just three games for my frustration to turn me off from the series and turn me into one of those people who delights in The Consumerist ripping on EA. Other than goofing around on my 2004 dynasty NCAA the game was dead to me.
Then they put Denard on the cover (and the wife let me get a PS3 once I proved how awesome it is at Netflix). And since I'd moved on from guy at convention hotels to guy who works for a college football blog, it turned out I could get an advance copy of the thing with Denard on the cover in return for telling people how I felt about it. A part of me finds it ridiculous that I can get away with this. Since I've been out of things for awhile (and Misopogal has grown skeptical over all this "work" I've been putting in) I'm gonna deliver the game to Ace after I post this, and next week you'll get a review from someone with a frame of reference within the current console generation. Here's the things you should know now:
1. IT HAS DENARD ON THE COVER. Truly it is the most beautiful thing to grace a cover since...NCAA 06? NCAA 99? A baby swimming toward a dollar on the album where music got its balls back? If Denard was smiling maybe.
I adore all of you!
He is actually the most appropriate cover athlete for a version of this game since they put Ricky Williams on the one with unstoppable running backs because…
2. OPTION OFFENSE is awesome. They completely redid that and now read options work the way they're supposed to. EA also gave the defense its option-crushing corner blitzes and scrape exchanges.
I keep forgetting to sub Green in at FB
However the counter to the counter sucks. They put bubble and PA split end screens in the playbook, but the defense reads these way too quickly on any difficulty worth playing. Also I've found my skill position guys tire so fast that when I go to it I keep getting Jeremy Jackson. Anyway the option stuff is the most fun, specifically the read and triple options. Too bad Michigan went back to the future on offense since...
[after the jump]
YOU'RE A TALLER. User Bombadil reports that Ian Bunting is still getting mail from Mississippi State, too.
This may be fake but probably not.
With men's swimming bringing home a title of their own plus the basketball team's run to the final, Michigan is actually threatening Stanford's Director's Cup hegemony. When the Director's Cup releases their updated standings tomorrow Michigan should be on top of the rankings with only a few sports left: golf, base/softball, track and field, women's water polo, women's lacrosse, and men's volleyball.
Michigan's pretty good at some of those… but, uh, unfortunately Stanford is better.
Top 25 Rankings for Stanford in spring sports, most rankings updated last weekend:
Softball - 16
Men's Golf - 8
Women's Golf - 12
Baseball - receiving votes
Women's T&F - 9
Women's Water Polo - 1
Men's Volleyball - 6
Women's Rowing - 9
Women's Tennis – 12
This is how you dominate the Director's Cup since a year after its inception. If you want even more details, the board has you covered.
Goodbye, 11 to 15 minutes. Draft Express's Trey Burke draft video is all kinds of fun. Even the five minutes dedicated to Burke drawbacks features a number of Kobe assists or shoulda-been Kobe assists:
What an awesome player.
YER A BALLERZ. The NCAA 14 cover:
Will I buy this crap-pile of a game from the worst company in America because it has Denard Robinson on the cover? Maybe. Have they fixed the kangaroo linebackers yet? Made any positive changes to gameplay since 2004?
- #34 JT Compher
- #49 Michael Downing
- #84 Tyler Motte
- #111 Nolan De Jong
- #136 Alex Kile
- #142 Andrew Copp
- #157 Evan Allen
2014 recruit Dexter Dancs fell out of the rankings after being 154th in the midterm. Everyone went up save Compher, who dropped from #20. Default reminder: the CSB has separate lists for goalies and Europeans, so add 30% to each guy's ranking to get a projected draft spot. FWIW, Compher and Downing have appeared in a lot of first round mock drafts I've seen.
So. Michigan's class may lack a Trouba-level dominant star, but it is extremely deep. Everyone who's coming in next year* save recent goalie pickup Zach Nagelvoort and Bryson Cianfrone is likely to get picked in the upcoming draft. Kile in particular is a bonus after being passed over a year ago. He nearly doubled his points in the USHL this year and gives Michigan another option for a scoring-line forward.
That helps make up for the fade from Cianfrone, who was headed for the first round of the OHL draft before his Michigan commitment. He's off NHL draft radars and has a 6-15-21 line in the USHL this year. He is a 5'8" kid who's coming in as an 18 year old, so you can construct a picture in which he still develops into what he was supposed to be a couple years ago.
Anyway: strong incoming class that hopefully sticks around long enough to be impact upperclassmen. And how about Andrew Copp?
*[Spencer Hyman and Max Shuart may also arrive, but neither signed a LOI so I assume they are walking on.]
And we're done. Show us what we've won. Oh, it's a wheezing dog and a dead iguana. Jim Delany on further Big Ten expansion:
"Given everything that has gone on, yes," Delany said when asked about the ACC’s deal cementing the current five major conferences to their respective lineups.
Although Delany said the 16-team superconference format was also "an arbitrary number" that he wasn’t part of, the Big Ten was open to further expansion. ... There still is the possibility that a team from the SEC (Missouri) could leave for the Big Ten -- the SEC has no grant of rights or exit fee -- but that’s a pipe dream, at best.
So here we are. Playing Rutgers and Maryland every year, and not Iowa and Wisconsin and Nebraska. It's hard not to see Delany as a giant middle finger to fans, just walkin' around. Mighty big hand you escaped from there. Tell us more about media markets. Please, yes, just like that. Yes. Like that. About media markets.
What is a name, anyway? The powers that be paid someone millions of dollars to tell them to call the college football playoff "College Football Playoff." Nice work if you can get it. Not quite as good as Bill Hancock's job, which is to say whatever the hell he wants at any time without bothering to pretend he believes it.
That is not actually a name. If you call your dog "dog" you have not named him but described him. It is bad when your "name" for a thing is in fact a description of a superset of what you are—there are already other, separate college football playoffs. Delany:
"I'll be happy with whatever. Obviously I'm not great with names."
Yes, but that's no reason to eschew the concept entirely. You can try again, Mr. Delany, as long as you float some trial balloons to see if the entire internet mocks you before you make a decision. You can love again.
Anyway. These folks trademarked their name-type substance. Can you even do that? I want to make shirts that say "COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF" to test this out. If Xerox is too generic to be a trademark, how can "college football playoff" be unique enough? Someone who likes being in lawsuits, please find this out.
Further confirmation. In not-quite-announced news that's pretty much announced, yeah, Desmond Morgan is permanently moving to MLB so James Ross can start at WLB:
“Playing in space is something I definitely had to adjust to my first two years here because I wasn’t used to that in high school. I was more of an in the box kind of guy,” Morgan said. “Going back over to MIKE, I kind of feel a little bit more comfortable in a sense because of that.
“During the spring, it’s been an adjustment but it was something I kind of grew up playing.”
Joe Bolden and Royce Jenkins-Stone will back up the MLB and WLB spots, respectively.
BONUS: James Ross named "most improved player" this spring. Hype rocket is entering stage two.
Ann Arbor is pretty all right. Click for big.
WE AGREE OH MY PANTS. Dave Brandon and I both think a ten game conference schedule is a good idea.
"I'm in favor of looking at it for the same reasons we went from eight to nine," Brandon told MLive.com. Those reasons include more competitive schedules, as well as greater ability for players to see each of the league's 13 other teams in their careers.
The money thing is an issue, but raise your hand if you'd willingly eat the extra costs from a hypothetical exhibition game in exchange for a tenth conference game. That's everybody, right?
25 memories of "college sports' dumbest goldrush." Blake McLimans taking his talents to Oxford. RIP, Toomer's oaks. Senior highlights from Mark Donnal. Stretch four, yo. Athletic directors are sad. David Thorpe really likes Trey Burke($).
Legolas is cooler than Treebeard. Brian's taking a short vacation and left me to write UV today. That's too bad because he's missing the party after Spath heard from Norfleet's mentor/7-on-7 coach ($) that the MGoFavorite little bugger's defensive foray was a temporary thing:
"He's supposedly going back to offense," Blackwell said. "They will use him in the slot and in the return game, and some as a running back. Coach [Greg] Mattison is saying he can still use him on defense and is making an argument to keep him there, but Dennis' passion is for the offense. That's where he wants to play, and from talking to Dennis it appears that's where he's going to play.
Putting him with the other elves made some sense when the cornerback two-deep was the starters, and what carries he could siphon last year from Toussaint, Rawls and Hayes would now have to be defended from Drake Johnson and three highly rated incoming freshman. The rooting for Norfleet to take over Smith's role comes from simple fan interest: it's way more fun to hold your breath and watch this guy scamper around like a maniac than to plunge a tree into the enemy lines and watch him fall forward for the same result.
Contempt for compliance, not photos of Donna Shalala. The Miami (of course THAT Miami) case was to be the Austerlitz of the new and improved NCAA enforcement empire; instead it's going to be a summer of Waterloo metaphors and Shalala vs. Emmert lead images. SBNation's Robert Wheel's afore-linked take calls for Emmert's resignation, while admitting that won't do anything to fix the underlying problem:
If the NCAA were enforcing rules that didn't require a lot of investigation, then this lack of power would not be a problem. But as long as college sports remain a big time moneymaker with rich guys who want to circumvent the rulebook to see their teams win, said rich guys will find ways to try to outfox the rules. Unless we want to give the NCAA subpoena power (we really don't) then this will always be a losing battle. The NCAA will never have the ability or the resources to catch up to people breaking its rules.
In a real legal system the Canes could discredit the prosecution's only witness and get the case thrown out. This isn't a real legal system: schools don't get in trouble for breaking NCAA rules, they get in trouble by publicly reminding everybody that the NCAA can't really enforce them. USC tried this and got slapped down despite the evidence in hand being too weak for any court. Meanwhile investigators with bees up their butts couldn't prove what every 4-year-old knows in re: Ohio State gives players cars, or really much of anything in the original Tatgate story until the NFL forced Pryor to talk. For stonewalling so politely the extent of the Buckeyes' punishment was to end a 12-0 season with Meyer on their sidelines and Tressel on their shoulders. The dumbest thing Shalala could do is comply.* The second-dumbest thing she could do is say na-na-na-boo-boo to an organization that only slightly cares if it turned up doo doo.
The obvious answer is pay the players (FoxSports in re: Clowney and the risk of injury) and end the shadow ring where guys like Shapiro are the only people who can perform the otherwise perfectly legal function of paying adult U.S. citizens for the services they provide.
* There are a select few schools like Michigan who don't have a choice because our whole thing is being the good guys, and because we're among those who would benefit the most if tradition, competitiveness and the quality of education were the only factors in recruiting and retaining college football talent. Kind of like how Great Britain would prefer to settle everything with a sea battle.
Basketball on verge of spread revolution. Weinreb dug up a budding Mike Leach from a D-II school in West Virginia to highlight a story about how pacing in basketball has slowed way down while the smart guys beating up the lower ranks are going the other way. That coach's motto is "Don't do it unless you can rationalize why you're doing it." He's too old to end up in Ann Arbor, but apparently the Yost alleles for engineering-minded coaches are still going strong in Appalachia. Beilein small ball isn't speed ball, but this…
When Crutchfield recruits, he looks for kids who react quickly — "You can make up for a lot of quickness and speed if you react mentally," he says — and play with high intensity: If they get beat on defense and they don't D up even harder the next time down the floor, he starts to wonder if they might not fit into his system.
That's part of a discussion on how road game success can be a strong predictor of postseason performance. I've used it for predicting NBA and NHL playoff results, and March Madness would be right there with them if it wasn't such a crapshoot in general. HT again from the board: SoFlaWolverine.
Assistant Coaches like money too. There's a rumor that Oklahoma may be going after Jerry Montgomery (Meinke via Footballscoop). Cam Cameron you may have heard just joined Les Miles's staff, further evidence to my theory that LSU is the In a Mirror, Darkly evil twin of Michigan from another dimension.
Dark universe Les Miles is in his 5th season as head coach at Michigan, where he's been slowly rebuilding the school's reputation shredded by win-at-all-costs Evil Lloyd Carr
Cameron will be making $3.4 million over 3 years, and this has made internet people start buzzing about top assistants commanding the kind of salary you give the school president. /mind blown. /thinks about the difference between GERG and Greg. /mind unblown.
It's right because the internet said so. The NCAA cover vote on Facebook has moved to a semifinals where the S-E-C!!! vote has been split (to Eddie Lacy's doom and random A&M guy's benefit) and Denard now leads. Every time this appears on the board cynical-me goes to erase it because it's playing to somebody's marketing ploy, and enchanted-me says "But Denard on the cover would be a wonderful thing!" I wish Denard would be on the cover because he is the living symbol of what is singularly spectacular about NCAA football; I also wish they could have come to that conclusion without somebody "developing an engaging social media campaign" that might only settle on Robinson because a cat playing guitar hero wasn't allowed in the race. #AIRBHG2014
Etc. People of the East Coast, check your DVR schedule or wind up recording a Virginia-BC game. UMHoops takes on Michigan's defense, scores a bazillion points (ha!). Zoltan's foundation update. FAU's marketing department derps stadium sponsor, double-derps wikipedia entry. MGoAndroid App is updated, report bugs here. NFL logos if they were designed by British people.