TO THE HOT TAKE CANNON
In our continuing pursuit to explain to outsiders "what is Big Ten football," and, more importantly, "why is the Big Ten football," we turn to the world of metaphor. Or simile. I forget.
We look now at the Big Ten through the prism of the characters of Breaking Bad. Minor spoiler alerts, of course, but the series has been over for almost a year, so if you haven't seen the series GET ON THAT. Totally worth the time
Self-assured to the point of arrogance, but his brash exterior belies a deep-seated insecurity. He's not used to losing, so when stuff starts blowing up around him, he gets rattled. Everything started to go wrong when this upstart “Heisenberg” fella started to upset the order of things. He proceeded to pour unprecedented resources into chasing Heisenberg, like tailing people for weeks on end or spending $850,000 on a new offensive coordinator. He experiences successes, and occasionally seemed set to take down his quarry, but in the final confrontation with Heisenberg (who is, it turns out, family) he ends up busted and bleeding.
Walter White (aka Heisenberg)
He spending years – nay, decades – as the doormat for those around him. But then through a series of unlikely events, Walter finally found himself on top of his world. He is suddenly the one who knocks. He IS the danger. Still, his inferiority complex shines through from time to time, and he spends as much time trying to prove he isn't the man he used to be as he does being Heisenberg.
Some would call them “sleazy. ” They would prefer to think of themselves as calculating. They have a very well-oiled system and the resources to make it work. He occasionally gets punched in the mouth by Walter, and is threatened by Hank, though Goodman always stays just out of reach of the law. Also, of everyone in the show, he's the guy you really want to see get punched in the face, and you'd be like, "yeah, he probably deserved that, if not for this then for other stuff."
Careful. Almost boringly careful. Nothing is unnecessarily flashy, which is what makes him effective. At the end of the day, you realize he’s probably a step ahead of you. He will run the zone stretch six times in a row until you think “I’ll jump the zone stretch and take over the drug empire,” which is when he goes play action for 36 yards. Then goes to the zone stretch.
I suppose I could have gone with "Badger," because, well, Badger. But Badger was a chubby white guy who somehow survives. Wait...
They were there at the beginning, and for a while they kinda fit with the whole scheme. It was full of fumes, had terrible accommodations, and was in the middle of nowhere. And usually there were only a couple of people there. If you get stuck there for a couple of days, it will probably turn into the worst weekend of your life unless you can figure out how to MacGyver a battery out of some brake fluid and pocket change to get the everloving hell out of there.
She used to be a major part of the drug empire until some turmoil threw that into doubt. Despite being marked for death a couple of times, and seemingly being on the cusp of being pushed to the side several times, she continues to find ways to be relevant. She's also conspiratorial as hell; she always thinks someone is out to get her. And while sometimes that's true, it's because she did some really, really bad things.
As soon as she shows up in an episode, your immediate reaction is "ugh, this is gonna suck." She's a somewhat major character, but she does absolutely nothing to drive the plot. Instead, you just get caught up in small and annoying side-plots that just make you hate that you're spending time watching this. There is no depth to her character; she's pretty much a one-note kind of gal. But all things considered, her character flaws are pretty minor, especially when compared to some of those around her, so it could be worse.
It isn't really his fault, per se, but his arrival signaled an epic shit-storm that made everyone around him not want to be there anymore. Plus, Tortuga means "tortoise" and a terrapin is a turtle. Which is like a tortoise. So it fits.
The plucky, scrappy little guy. Historically a f*ck-up, but occasionally pulls his act together enough to pull off a train heist or something. You root for him, largely because he's the lesser of however-many evils. His style is kind of refreshing, and often acts as a nice alternative to the heavy, dour roles played by everyone around him. Also, does a lot of meth.
No one likes you. We get that you are good at some (limited) things, but that doesn't mean we want to see you ever.
"Tio" Hector Salamanca
He seems like a pretty bright guy, and despite his quirkiness you find yourself rooting for him. But then one day, someone is like "you know, with the way things are going, YOU could run things in the West Division." And he starts to get all excited, and then BLAM.
In a way, he should have seen it coming. He isn't the type to lead. He's a born middle-of-the-pack type. Nevertheless, even though the natural progression of the plot needed him to... uh... exit the plot, we felt a little bit bad that it had to happen like it did. Also, tell me this pose doesn't look familiar:
A chubby, gumpy-looking white guy who somehow manages to survive the whole damn series. He's not really a protagonist or an antagonist. You find yourself happy when he wins, but in the same way you're happy for your dog when he finally finds where you put his water dish. Sure, his accomplishments might not be impressive in the objective sense, but give the little guy a pat on the head anyway.
What is this? Wait, this is it? This is what we're doing? WHYYYYYY?????
Site note: I mean, I was gonna do a Dear Diary today, but then the first item became this thing…
As you may have heard, Dr. Hamlet III has committed to the Michigan offensive line. Uninformative portion follows:
|Global Pork||247 Comp.|
|3*, 5.7, #29 C,
|5*, #1 pork belly,
|5*, #1 PB
|4*, 96, #6 PB,
|3*, #84 OL,
Those who ranked him as an offensive lineman are all "wait 'n see." Of those who classify him as a pig, only the National Pork Producers Council among the major sites lists Hamlet as anything but ELITE ELITE ELITE. He'll have a chance to change that in a couple weeks at their annual World Pork Expo.
It's worth mentioning that Global Pork lists every hog in its Top 25 as a 5-star, but will extend that to the Top 50 by the time it releases its final herd report.
Let's start with the negative stuff shall we? Simmons:
STRENGTHS Pad Level Hoofwork Toughness Drive Blocking Skills
AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT Hip Flexibility Bipedalism Arm length OUTSIDE! DO THAT OUTSIDE!!!
Total hog! If there is any type of weakness in Hamlet's game at this time, it would be in his pass protection. He is solid there, but his biggest strength is run blocking right now. He drives opponents off the ball, he is excellent on the hoof, and he has that nasty streak you love in offensive linemen. Arm length and lateral quickness will limit his effectiveness. - Chad Simmons
This is echoed by Rivals' Mike Farrell($):
Powerful blocker who can get low and beat you off the hoof. Eats just about anything. Didn't use his hands much in drills, probably because he doesn't need to. Thrilled onlookers with a pitch perfect rendition of soliloquy.
Plays so low to the ground it's impossible for defensive linemen to get any leverage on him. Definite inside prospect since he doesn't possess the height to play tackle. High intelligence and build suggest a possible move to center. Not having hands will make snapping the ball a constant adventure, though.
As David Moosman showed Michigan can get by with a behooved ungulate at center, though it's hardly optimal. Anyway you see the theme across the services: Hamlet plays with excellent leverage, but is about 6 million years behind the rest of the OL in bipedalism experience and proper hand technique. Funk is going to have to start from scratch there.
Though an MSU graduate, according to his interview with 247's Steve Lorenz, Hamlet remains intensely loyal to Michigan ($):
HAMLET: "I'm still true blue through and through! You could even say I was weaned on maize and blue. Because I literally was weaned on a mix of feed corn and Blue Seal swine pellets." Hamlet told 247.
Lorenz also asked about his expectations and, well, he's probably not gonna be a playing time transfer:
247: How do you see your Michigan career playing out?
HAMLET: Oh, that's not up to me to decide. I'm going to go out there and compete, but my number one goal is to help the team any way I can. I'm here to get a Michigan degree, and to do whatever I can to help Michigan win football games, pure and simple. We've got an excellent, excellent group of linemen coming in and some of the best all time on hand right now, so I know it's gonna be tough to earn snaps. I embrace the challenge, and I think it will make us all better the more guys we have competing—if I bust my piggly tail for four years and that just makes another guy try harder to keep his job, then that's what I came for.
Humble, this guy. As you've come to expect from like every recruit in the Brady Hoke era ever, he's a wild animal on the field yet the kind of person you want in your home:
Everyone I talk to says he's just a fantastic guy. Really wants to learn, does neat tricks.
Hoke recruits, man.
DOCTOR OF WHAT?
Despite being less than 3 years old, Hamlet already has a Ph.D./MD from the Van Andel Educational Institute, through Michigan State. He explains how he came by that doctorate:
"Coming out of high school Michigan was obviously my first choice, but State was really the only college accepting applications from farm animals. I was planning on getting my bachelor's degree in Agricultural Resource Economics but a professor there turned me on to Gastroenterology and it was love at first endoscopy.
"After one digestive performance they said I was a natural and put me in the doctoral program and I graduated in a few months. It was pretty easy, to be honest. "
Because he technically graduated from high school just a year ago, Hamlet still has all four years of eligibility remaining.
Dr. Hamlet III is a Vietnamese, better known as a "pot-bellied pig." As such he has the distinctive tall forehead, high ears and straight tail. He also appears to have the breed's distinctive swayed back (and corresponding pot belly that gives the species its name). His bloodlines suggest he can put on a LOT of weight, and his food intake will need to be closely monitored.
The sites agree that he's between 3'2" and 3'3", and between 90-100 lbs. That's about normal for his breed at this stage in life. He should be able to hang a good 20-30 more pounds on that frame.
MSU, Nebraska, Iowa State, and Thorn Apple Valley. Reported interest from Wisconsin but committed before an offer materialized. Pork bellies have been steady at record highs since 2011.
Pigs and offensive linemen don't have stats.
FAKE 40 TIME
247 lists a non-food-aided 40 time of 32.25 seconds, but he was reportedly clocked at 28.22 seconds when a can of creamed corn was placed at the finish line. Since I just completely made that up just now it receives five FAKES out of five.
A Vine of Hamlet eating out of Kyle Kalis's belly button has been taken down, but this screenshot still remains:
Also: Junior highlights.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Obvious redshirt as he gains weight, adjusts to real college life from the farm/East Lansing, and gains instruction on bipedal locomotion. From there, who knows. May never develop more than an okay pass protection game, or opposable thumbs. High character, non-academic risk, seems 100% committed to Michigan, so not going to hurt the APR even if he doesn't work out. Best guess is four-year Academic All-American who'll provide much-needed depth at center, with an outside shot at starting his senior year. Otherwise he'll be an important member of the position group and an expert on blocking assignments. Every team needs a third-generation doctoral pig center.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
(Mathlete goes into greater detail). Dr. Hamlet III turned down purely academic scholarships in order to walk on the Michigan team, so he won't count against the 85 limit (his life expectancy is several years shorter than the length of his FAFSA loan). Adding a hyperintelligent pig makes the entire position group more awesome. Michigan players have been warned not to leave any impermissible benefits out where he can get into them.
ETC. Children of Yost wonder if he can skate too.
Photoshop is a very dangerous tool if left in the wrong hands, which is why nobody should've ever let me get a copy of CS5. Seth's post this morning contained this nightmare-fuelish mashup of Jordan Kovacs and Ernest Shazor, his version of the Bill Walsh ideal strong safety:
Most people's instinct, upon seeing such a picture, is to turn and run and not stop running until they've reached a technological wilderness that makes it impossible to see said picture ever again. Because of my tenuous grasp on sanity, especially during the offseason, I decided instead to create a few more Frankenplayers. If these three rather horrifying creations ever donned the winged helmet, Michigan's offense would be unstoppable, albeit a bit strange-looking:
Denard Robinson and Tom Brady took wildly divergent paths to quarterback stardom. Denard's running exploits were the stuff of legend, while his passing left something to be desired, especially when he was out of the comfy confines of Rich Rodriguez's spread offense—one perfectly tailored to his strengths. Brady, meanwhile, was never fully appreciated during his time in Ann Arbor despite his pinpoint passing—only in retrospect, after multiple Super Bowls, was he fully acknowledged as an excellent college player. As a runner, though... he was a great pocket passer.
So what do you get when you jam Brady's upper body onto Denard's legs? (While, of course, still harnessing the power of the dreadlocks.) Only the most fearsome dual-threat quarterback in college football history, not to mention one charming franken-guy.
As a college running back, Mike Hart was just about everything you could ask for—productive and durable, coupling great vision and agility with surprising power and an inability to fumble. Despite lacking in top-end speed, Hart famously made the journey from three-star recruit to Michigan's all-time leading rusher.
Sam McGuffie, on the other hand, came in with a world of recruiting hype and plenty of athletic talent—his high school highlight tape featured him jumping over linebackers when he wasn't able to use his top-end speed to simply take the top off of the defense. Unlike Hart, McGuffie had the potential to be unstoppable in the open field. When it came to absorbing punishment, however, McGuffie fell short at Michigan, transferring to Rice after a disappointing and injury-plagued freshman season in 2008.
Stick McGuffie's legs (not pictured) onto Hart, though? Now we've got the production, durability, between-the-tackles running, and open field explosiveness no Michigan running back has possessed since Tyrone Wheatley. Do you want to claim Samichael McHart wouldn't front-flip over Will Gholston in the open field if given the chance? I thought not.
Jeremy Gallon emerged last season as Michigan's best wide receiver, proving especially productive when Devin Gardner took over at quarterback. The former high school option quarterback is both shifty and fast with good hands and explosive leaping ability. Unfortunately, he's also about 5'8", which limits his potential as a downfield threat.
Enter Tacopants, Jason Avant's 11-foot tall imaginary friend whose career high point was Chad Henne's inconsistent sophomore season. Combine him with Gallon, and, well—it's a giant wide receiver, guys, he's going to be pretty good.
In sum, it's barely May and I've already stooped to this for offseason content. I'm so sorry. Carry on.
As a youngster, I was lucky enough to be exposed early and often to the unparalleled experience of listening to Keith Jackson call a college football game. While I was too young to fully appreciate this before his first retirement in 1998, even as a shortsighted high school senior I knew well enough to savor every word when he called the classic 2006 USC-Texas title game, his last on the mic.
In the years since, his absence has become as tangible as his presence—while I enjoy, or at least respect, the likes of Brent Musburger, Verne Lundquist, Joe Tessitore, and Sean McDonough, none comes remotely close to capturing the essence of college football as eloquently or charmingly as Jackson. (This is no slight, of course. Legends are not legends if they're easily replaced.)
I thought about Keith Jackson today, oddly enough, after seeing this tweet from Spencer Hall, which on its face has absolutely nothing to do with Keith Jackson:
— edsbs (@edsbs) May 3, 2013
After the initial conniption fit over the existence of such a magnificent name, I actually got sad, because I imagined the possibility of Keith Jackson saying the words "Brodarious Hamm" in his understated, melodic Southern drawl. He'd say it just like any other name—enunciating flawlessly, elongating just the right syllables, leaving plenty of space for the words to breathe—accompanied with a typically Jacksonian turn of phrase: "Tackle made by 310-pound freshman Brooo-darious Hamm. If he keeps eating his cornbread, he'll be man-sized one day."*
This caused me to do three things. The first was to abandon whatever crappy post I was writing at the time. The second—compile a very incomplete list of 2014 recruit names that I wish I could hear Keith Jackson say during the course of a broadcast:
- Lorenzo Featherston
- Kentavius Street
- Bentley Spain
- Raekwon McMillian (and if Jackson called him "The Chef", I would immediately die the world's happiest death)
- Adarius Pickett
- T'Kevian Rockwell
- Malachi Dupre
- Dontavius Blair
- C'yontai Lewis
- Breeland Speaks
(Did I put together this list exclusively by scrolling through Alabama and LSU targets on the 247 database? Well, duh.)
The third, out of curiosity, was check Google to see if a Keith Jackson soundboard existed online, because certainly there must be one. Remarkably, there is not, at least that I can find. This is the first result:
I've never been more disappointed in the Internet.
*The cornbread line is something he said, verbatim (if memory serves), about a 300-pound freshman Texas defensive lineman during that final game. To the very end, Keith still had it, every bit of it. I imagine he still does.