I did not make this headline up
outdoor hockey is all the rage
all these people would have fit in Yost [Patrick Barron]
After a near-fiasco with the ice at Soldier Field that caused Michigan and Michigan State to drop the puck at 9:40 PM Eastern, scattered pockets of people and eighty thousand empty seats took in an ugly hockey game marred by ice closer to a dirt road than a smooth sheet.
And with that Michigan's participation in outdoor college hockey should be over, with a single exception.
Yeah, there's no much you can do if your opponent decides to move one of their home games, as Ohio State did a couple years back for a slightly better-attended outing in Cleveland's baseball stadium. There's no much you can do if the GLI is outside in conjunction with the Winter Classic. But Michigan can look at this fiasco of an event and choose to never do it again.
The lone exception should be occasional reprises of The Cold War and Big Chill*. Both were great events featuring packed houses, and will be again if they are sufficiently rare. What's sufficiently rare? I'd say one game at Spartan Stadium or Michigan Stadium every four years. You can tell each recruiting class that if you stay for four years you will play a packed outdoor game, and you are doing it rarely enough that the "packed" part of that proposition is likely to remain true.
Other than that, let's drop it. Outdoor hockey is
- COLD. Obviously.
- BAD HOCKEY. Strange lighting and bad ice make these games hard to watch. Pucks bounce over sticks. Skill's importance is muted in favor of luck.
- LITERALLY HARD TO WATCH. You're far away and the sightlines make no sense. (Any modern NHL building goes up as vertically as possible; most football stadiums are much less steeply pitched.)
Those are not fixable. Taking two teams from Michigan and having them play in Illinois is, but I'm just over it. I would rather watch an outdoor game on TV these days because the environment is the definition of antiseptic and I'll have a much better grasp on what's going on if I don't have to squint from a half-mile away.
I mean, it was cool. It will remain cool if it's rare enough. Remember when the television people were trying to expand the NCAA tournament to 128 teams because they're willing to wreck anything if they can point to a bigger number in the spreadsheet they're responsible for? College hockey is in the process of doing this to outdoor games. Outdoor games should be magnificent events. These days they're too often ghost towns full of monuments to hubris instead of people.
Meanwhile, even the watered-down modern-day Yost is one of the best environments college sports has to offer. Taking a game out of there to play in front of approximately as many people outdoors is the definition of madness. We can be done with that; we fired that guy.
*[they should drop the Big Chill nomenclature and just go with Cold War [roman numeral], in my opinion]
Bill Rapai [set]
I went to the second (consolation) game of the Great Lakes Invitational at Comerica Park. Michigan lost 3-0. Brian said I must write this up, which is just as well since I'm too depressed to write about the football team right now. So.
As a Detroiter (err…Metro-) I appreciate Mike Ilitch. He may be a king of the Sicilian Square people while I'm a firm Foldedsliceitarian, but he's the daddy who won't say no to a Brett Hull or a Prince Fielder even if he just got you a Robitaille/Cabrera. He also funds a third of Detroit charities, renovated FoxTown, and realized the United States needed a Canadian-like hockey development program 30 years before USA Hockey itself got serious about it.
For this, that, and the other thing, nobody in this town can begrudge him anything. Not for weirdly refusing to put Larry Aurie's number (6) in the rafters, or for putting Tiger Stadium in the ground, or for not paying his taxes, because Ilitch is the guy who bought the Dead Things, then stole the GM who built that Islanders dynasty, then drafted Yzerman, then began a postseason streak which has outlasted both of Michigan's.
So when they told him they wanted to have his Red Wings host the Winter Classic (and once the stakeholders could decide on which pizza to order)* nobody could begrudge Mike his demand that Detroit, as opposed to Ann Arbor, should play host city, and that his downtown, bank-monikered ballpark should get a carnival and an ice rink too.
When you got down there and saw the Hockey Hall of Fame tent in the middle of the stadium lot, you could be for this in a rah-rah-good-for-Detroit kind of way. But, like handing that long-term deal to Franzen instead of Hossa, Comerica Park as hockey rink was a contemporarily questionable decision which in hindsight appears to be an awful one.
* [My vote would have been Supino's**]
**[Yes, we are all about superfluous possessives in Detroit. What of it?]
The thing about outdoor hockey is it's supposed to call to mind "pure" hockey, i.e. the game you played with friends under a gunmetal sky after spending twice that long shoveling, until the half-frozen parent you left on the shore decided everybody's going to fall in/catch a cold. I realize not everyone knows what this experience is, and there are myriad social/cultural/class reasons why this is, including SE Michigan geography:
[Jump: CoPa makes for a bad hockey rink, Michigan makes like a bad hockey team, and a hockey stick serves as a passable bat]
…or "install a 3-4 defense," or "hedge on screens," or "replace Martin & Van Bergen," or "excuse bad threads with 'OT:'," or "take a bus to North Campus," or "find parking on 4th street." But starting a Facebook meme page for your school? Oh man, there is evil there that does not sleep. Not with a 100 memes could you do this. More best of the board:
NO TIMEOUTS IN CRISLER (WE'RE JUST GONNA COME OUT IN ZONE ANYWAY)
Also peasy is identifying the Maize Rage shirts from Amaker's first season because they said "No timeouts in Crisler!" on the backs. The fronts said "Pass around the perimeter, have Bernard or LaVell take a bad shot, give up a layup, repeat until Avery Queen turns it over!" Then we'd all turn around in shame and Amaker would see "No timeouts in Crisler!" and oblige as his former team scored 104 points on his current one. If you still have your Maize Rage t-shirts from any era, Wolverine Devotee could use your help for his project. Tell the story of that season when you post and this thread will get either good, or really bad but easy to root for.
RIVALS 100/250 ARE OUT
Tremendous, who goes by aquaman2342 on MGo, posted the relevant folk to Michigan, and Hill.FootballRecruits did la même chose for the Rivals 250. Shane Morris is No. 16 overall, the third QB, and well within the range that eventually becomes 5-stars for Rivals, so of course the board is putting out conspiracy theories for why he's so low. Dymonte is 77th. Bluestreak points out that the in-state crop isn't as deep as it was this year, but 2012 was just a really deep year.
DON'T YOU ALL HAVE HOMES?
The Red Wings and Maple Leafs are coming to Michigan Stadium to break the Big Chill's hockey attendance record, the GLI is moving to Comerica Park, and if you're wondering why it seemed the negotiations were so edgy just imagine both Dave Brandon and Mike Ilitch in a room when it comes time to order lunch. Actually they negotiated this from different rooms. Pizza is srs business. I love outdoor hockey, and love anything that brings back the Wings-Leafs rivalry, and I love love love the Red Wings. But srsly January 1st? I don't care about the record; that "backup date of Jan. 2" clause had better have something in there about roses is all I'm saying (it doesn't, but it oughtta).
JOIN THE BOOK CLUB
Only you. User aiglick wants to start an MGoBookClub this offseason, starting with Bo's Lasting Lessons. I'm in so long as you all promise that the June book is Hail to the Victors.
HIPSTER, BRO, OR LATE-AUGHTS MICHIGAN OFFENSIVE LINEMAN?
'Pre-Gaming with' Pat Stansik made a movie that I think takes place on Ann Street about a new roommate who defies his friends' attempts to place him in social categories. I bet the dude has a stache-tat on his finger. But if avant-garde is more your style I put up a … thing discovered by Orson where … oh hell screen caps:
Fair warning: if you get past a thread title that says "Un film dérangeant" and "Catlab" in it, plus the images above and the nonsensical introduction, and you still watch all 2:37 of this video, I am not responsible for any amount of your life you can't get back.
Hutch's softball program—shout-out to the ones at the airport Wendy's last evening—may be nearing its apex with three players on the pre-season All-America watch list . They also picked up a shortstop recruit from Georgia who's hitting .568 in an area not known for softball. Wrestling recently was on the short end of what numerous people who know wrestling have now assured me was the worst call in the history of wrestling. Oh, and we got a diary on Men's Tennis.
Diaries Play Five
Hey look at Moffie. See your glorious forward playing an unhindered Holmstrom spot—this is very bad for Miami by the way. CenterIce is your diarist of the week for his new regularish feature he calls "Special Teams Breakdown" and your alliteration-loving editors would rather he call "Picture Paging Power Plays." The theme for this week's is Miami is bad at the penalty kill.
High Five, Fab Five. In the basketballs, buddhafrog put up a heart-warming story about when the Fab Five showed up to a hospital for mentally disabled kids—the kind of kids it's hard to face because you start mentally shaking your fist at deities who would do such things to kids—which makes this kind of remarkable:
Weber and Rose saw through their disabilities; they saw through the wall that makes most people much more comfortable by just turning away. They treated the boys as real boys, as real people. It meant the world to my boys at the Center and was probably the highlight of their year.
The raison d'être for this blog was because Beilein wants to get $100,000 in charity to the same center, and is in a tight race on ESPN with Motta and the Columbus Ronald McDonald House.
Demi-sabermetric Alabama fans don't exist, but if they did… Maize_in_spartyland investigated that turnover margin last year equals wins/losses this year metric on its face and finds that yes it works in his too-easy-to-work definition. Notable exceptions were Alabama and Oklahoma State; this means somewhere out there is an Alabama fan who is saying Bama's +12 turnover margin in 2010 was…okay yeah you are never going to have that conversation with anyone, because once you start down the path of analyzing turnover margin to predict next year's win totals you're not going to stop half-way.
Well, we're going to do stuff anyway. The number of Michigan prospects who will commit on signing day: zero. This makes our annual signing day chat spectacular kind of pointless, but we'll do it anyway. It'll boot up an hour or two before Brady Hoke's 1 PM press conference and wind down after that. Also scheduled: a podcast, a 2013 reset, and a look at what other teams in the conference did (spoiler: not much). I look forward to answering the same question about whether there will be any surprise recruits two dozen times.
Ace has an ill-timed but unavoidable absence the next couple days and will by around as much as possible but not constantly.
McGary, Robinson, Stauskas
I'm not even mad. Scout updates its 2012 basketball rankings in much the same way Rivals did, dropping McGary to #20, raising GRIII to #27, and inserting Stauskas at #83. I don't mind McGary falling like that since it seemed like he was not quite on the same level as various other centers this fall.
Even better from the "keep McGary around some" POV: there are a whopping eight centers in front of him in the Scout rankings. He might want to cool his heels a little to clear out that logjam. Meanwhile, Robinson is two spots off a fifth star and Stauskas has converted just about everyone into a believer at this point.
- Record: 15-6 (6-3 Big Ten) [Div. 1 Only]
- RPI: 16
- SOS: 14
- Home Record: 11-0
- Away Record: 2-5
- Neutral Record: 2-1
- vs. RPI Top 50: 6-4
- vs. RPI Top 100: 7-5
That Wisconsin win is rounding into form, giving Michigan two victories over elite-ish competition. I'm pleasantly surprised the RPI is that high; I would have guessed they were ten or so spots lower. Michigan's lack of blowouts does not hurt them here, though. Thus that.
Also thus: Michigan is homing in on a 5 seed according to bracketology folks. Lunardi has us a 4, Crashing the Dance a 6, and three other sources say 5. Michigan is tracking slightly better than my expectation at the beginning of the season, which was a 6.
All the outdoor games. The outside GLI thing is steadily moving from rumor to reality. A Windsor Star columnist is now saying that it will be officially official "next week." By the time that tourney's done Michigan will have played 5 outdoor games in four years. The novelty is officially worn off.
Loons. The SEC version of Thought Equity Motion is blowing out the youtube accounts of anyone with the temerity to post clips of decade-old games. Keep your old projects handy, WH.
The correct solution here is the same one that some music companies have started executing when they find their audio on youtube: leave it and take the ad revenue. No one who's putting these games up is doing so for the money. They just want to share the history of their programs with the world at large. And no one's going to pay to see the 1999 Wisconsin game, no matter how much you want to try:
I can no longer share my clips with the Bulldog Nation, but am forced to watch them by my lonesome (and I mean all alone -- strangely, my wife doesn't enjoy reliving the 1976 Florida game with me). However, if the Bulldogs were a member of the Big Ten, for example, the videos would remain on my blog and up at YouTube for the few viewers that actually wanted to watch them. …
One quick look at the SEC's site and I notice it has one of my favorite old Bulldog classics "on demand" -- the 1980 Georgia-South Carolina game. Before you could go to YouTube, or my blog, and view clips from this game. Now, you still can view the clips from the very same game via the SEC Digital Network, but it's gonna cost you: $3.99 to rent, $6.99 to own.
I bet the 1980 UGA-South Carolina game has brought in far less revenue than XOS has spent DMCAing clips of it. Work out a deal where you get the ad revenue and leave the old games alone.
These people are actually doing free work for you. They are not your enemies.
“If a player signs, he counts without regard to whether or not he actually enrolls,” SEC spokesman Charles Bloom said in an e-mail Monday. “ ‘Back counting’ is only permitted for mid-year enrollees who are able to be included as an initial counter for the academic year in which they enroll. ‘Back counting’ is an artificial term for this discussion and not accurate as the question is about the signing limit.”
So a team that signed 22 last year could still sign 28 this year as long as three were in early. A team that signed 25 (or 28) last year is limited to 25. Signees that don't make it in still count.
I wonder if we'll see certain SEC schools hold off on signing prospects until it is clear they're in. Despite all the hoopla a LOI is totally unnecessary. If a school wanted they could just enroll a kid and give him a scholarship. The current SEC rule will go national next year, affecting Big Ten schools not one whit.
BONUS: Here's an unintended side effect: these make JUCOs more expensive since you have a limited number of LOIs and they usually have just half the available eligibility. Taking those guys reduces your margin of error with high school kids. Since that margin is still roomy I don't think it'll have a major impact.
Etc.: ESPN's NHL insider projects($) Trouba #21, Di Giuseppe #30, and Boo Nieves #41 in his draft rankings. That is significantly lower on Trouba than most. UMHoops looks at Michigan halfway through the conference. Tight ends are becoming more important everywhere. Beilein hops on the "Ohio" train, further infuriating OSU fans who use "TSUN" reflexively.
Release the offer kraken. Today is the first day 2013 basketball recruits can be offered, and since John Beilein is king of the rules he sticks to this date religiously. He's also more than a little crafty by doing this since Michigan just got a first-hand look at most of its top targets at Michigan's elite camp. UMHoops reports it was the most talented of Beilein's tenure and there was one potential offeree who stood out:
Monte Morris won the day
Michigan’s top point guard prospects were all in attendance and everyone in the gym, including the players themselves, knew it.
The guard targets all played pretty well but it was Monte Morris who was most impressive. Morris was very good during drills, took a couple tough losses in 3-on-3 play and then exploded during 5-on-5 play to finish the night. He had a string of great games on the main floor, in front of the Michigan coaches, controlling the tempo and dominating the game as a great point guard should. He didn’t force shots, but scored with ease slicing to the basket, and also ran the pick-and-roll very well. Most of the games on the main floor came down to the final possession, or were even decided by sudden death free throw shooting contests. When Morris’s squad started clicking on the main floor they cruised to a couple comfortable victories.
Michigan is presumably interested in Morris, then. Yesterday GBW published this headline, from which you can extraopolate who the #1 is:
A Clear #1 for Morris
Michigan’s Elite Camp managed to attract several top prospects including four of the c/o 2013’s best point guards. The top performer of group on the day was Flint (MI) Beecher standout, Monte Morris. GBW caught up with the talented floor general to get his thoughts on the camp, his recent unofficial visit to Ann Arbor, his decision timeline, and the school he currently has at the top of his list.
Unfortunately for Obviously Extrapolated Leader, when UMHoops interviewed Morris he was planning to take his recruitment until the end of his junior year. As anyone who's followed Brady Hoke's recruiting can tell you, timelines can move up. Keep your ears perked for one of Sam's gut feelings.
Hockey indoors and out. A smattering of news items on the hockey team have come down the pipe.
One: they'll be replacing the College Hockey Showcase with game against Northeastern. You can count so you know that's one game too few to replace the CHS; in the past what this has meant is that two Eastern teams head out and switch off against Michigan and MSU. Oddly, NU (not that NU) released its entire schedule and their game against M is just a one-off.
Two: Michigan and Ohio State are apparently going to play an outdoor game in Cleveland this January. That seems to be a questionable way to create the future. Ohio State does draw better for Michigan games, but not well enough to fill their basketball arena. A football stadium in Cleveland is going to be a tough sell, especially one year after Michigan fans nearly packed the Big House. When they did so they found out that outdoor hockey is pretty cool but kind of a gimmick—sightlines are suboptimal. I think I'd rather watch it on TV, and if I want to watch it on TV that stadium is going to be half-full. If it's part of a Winter Classic featuring the Wings and Blue Jackets, on the other hand… that could work.
Three: the new scoreboard in the flesh is so sexy.
This is creating the future I can get behind.
Four: In addition to placing goal replays directly into your brain, Brandon is creating a $14 million renovation of the old barn. The future includes completely replaced seating, the conversion of the current media level into "loge boxes," a new media level above that, and some additional "corner and platform seating." Seems like they might squeeze another 500 seats or so out of the old barn.
Not mentioned was the top priority of the blogosphere—returning the old man to his rightful place:
But they did mention "concourse improvements" so those are probably putting Yost's head on everything.
There can be no UV without tatgate. AnnArbor.com catches up with a local memorabilia dealer to find the state of his business with college guys:
“We would never touch a college guy,” said Newhouse, a 38-year-old Ann Arbor man who operates AllAmericanSportsHouse.com. “We know that’s the ultimate taboo thing.”
…“That’s just stupid,” Newhouse said. “It makes no sense, and people should know better, especially if it’s a team you like. These are Buckeyes fans who ruined their team for years. It just doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.”
I don't know, man, if I had the ability to make Terrelle Pryor show up at Chuck E. Cheese I might mortgage my program's future for one shining moment.
Taylor Lewan's golf swi—DUCK
Taylor Lewan’s first tee shot Monday at the David Mealer Memorial Golf Classic went screaming off of his undersized iron, traveling in a straight line into a wooden area located right of the tee box on hole 17 at Brandywine Country Club. A subsequent loud thud was Lewan’s ball hitting what everyone could only hope was a tree.
“Let’s get this day started!” Lewan yelled, sarcastically, in response to his regrettable shot.
IS EVERYONE OK
(Thirty-two Michigan players and a coach, Brock still working out with Barwis at his new Plymouth digs, Kevin Koger not playing because he's worse than that, general impression they should have done this at the swankiest putt-putt place they could find.)
Sharps hate us. The Wolverine Blog asks "why not us?" at a convenient time. Here's why not us: Just Cover notes some huge line movement at the Golden Nugget, which annually releases a set of "game of the year" lines early. In each case, Michigan got hammered:
…everybody is betting against the Michigan Wolverines. Along with Auburn, Florida, Mississippi State and TCU, the Wolverines were a popular bet against team among the betting professionals. And, hey, why not? Until further notice, the defense still sucks, the potent offense from a year ago is undergoing a makeover and, well, did you see last year? The Wolverines went 0-8 against the number in Big 10 play and have been one of the best teams to bet against during the ill-fated, three-year Rodriguez tenure. The coaching change isn't enough to inspire betting confidence.
The Golden Nugget released lines on five Michigan games and in four of them, after a crazy initial weekend of betting, have moved significantly against the Wolverines. Nobody is betting them, at least nobody among the crowd of sharps and wiseguys who do this for a living, so much so that they pack the Golden Nugget in early June in to get bets down before most of the college football betting public has even bought a preseason annual. The critiques are that Michigan remains a soft team, the Golden Nugget overrated a typically public program and sharp bettors love betting against first year head coaches installing a new system. The Nugget is going to take a bath unless the Wolverines, as my old bookie once urged them more than a decade, can just cover the spread.
Notre Dame moving from M –2 to ND –3 with reports that is up to ND –6, Northwestern moving from M –4 to a pick'em, and MSU going from a 3.5 point favorite to 7.5. Sharps are betting Al Borges Denard Fusion Cuisine does not go well.
Meanwhile, our neighbors to the south had no lines posted for obvious reasons.
The young people. This, from one of those alumni tour things, is all your fault:
Finally, for all you MMB fans out there, I was able to speak with DB about the piped in music at the stadium. DB said that there was some resistance in the Big 10, but that they have been able to change the rule and now can mike the band. They expect this to make a big difference. He cautioned that they will keep some piped in music because the 'young people' like it, but is hoping for about 65% MMB and 35% recorded.
Let the bodies hit the floor, yo.
Etc.: Pitt and Penn State miraculously sign a two year contract to play in 2016 and 2017. Article subtitle "new coaching staff stresses accountability" makes inevitable appearance as dictated by the laws of man and God. Mets Maize on fanbase 180.