Hoke was top notch at this aspect of his job.
Liveblog update. I think we've found a much more reasonably-priced liveblog solution. We're taking a test drive at around noon Monday if you want to stop in, check it out, and ask a question about Will Campbell I can't really answer.
Hopefully this works out better than the last one. Denard is one of SI's 62 regional covers:
Hey, I wonder how Michigan did the last time they featured on one of SI's 64 regional covers?
Yipes. At least if they lose their opener this time no one is going to set the world on fire.
The Burzynski hypothesis. Joey Burzynski on his developing all-time beard:
"Facial hair goes in 150-year cycles," he says. "This was popular in the Civil War, and it should be coming back right about now I think."
And Mealer talking about… well, I'm going to pretend he's talking about their beard rivalry instead of their competition for starting LG:
"Joey's great," Mealer said. "He pushes me to get better and I hope I push him to get better."
Yeah, man, yeah. Follicles.
Wormley ACL bits. Chris Wormley's torn ACL is suboptimal but I don't think it'll be much of an issue either this year or down the road. Wormley was behind definitely Roh and probably Nate Brink, and Tom Strobel is a pretty big dude himself. If Wormley ended up being the #2 three-tech—vaguely possible—then Michigan has picked up a downgrade, but again, Matt Godin is already big enough to be an okay rotation player if Washington or Wilkins don't step up.
As for the injury itself, it's reportedly just a plain ACL tear with none of the assorted meniscus/PCL issues that are not fun. It just so happens I had a plain ol' ACL tear and am coming through rehab as we speak. Wormley will be on crutches for a month and then will start rebuilding his strength; he'll probably be limited or out for spring practice but by this time next year he should be good as new.
Meanwhile in Lansing injuries. Aaron Burbridge's rumored knee thing is now just a knee thing; he's out six weeks and will likely redshirt as a result. Meanwhile, starting LG Blake Treadwell has a stress fracture and will be out four or five weeks at least—hairline leg fractures can linger, especially when you're an unnaturally large human.
Hype that Bellomy. Russell Bellomy is coming in for a wide sampling of hype now, which makes sense what with Devin Gardner looking more and more like a wide receiver. Do you buy it? I dunno, man. Bellomy looked better than Gardner in the spring game but he was mostly dinking and dunking.
It doesn't really matter, does it? I mean, we're boned if Robinson goes down for an extended period of time either way. Carry on.
How did this happen? Tom Crean pulled a Les Miles yesterday as Indiana told 2012 recruit Ron Patterson that he wouldn't actually be enrolling at Indiana… after he had already enrolled at Indiana. He is eligible to transfer to another four year school immediately—he's eligible in the NCAA's eyes. Indiana had 14 players for 13 scholarships.
Q: isn't that against Big Ten rules? IIRC, if you don't have a spot for a player you have to explain where you're getting it before the Big Ten will allow you to go over. That reason could not have been "we will let this guy take some classes and then tell him to talk to the hand halfway through August despite being through the NCAA clearinghouse." How did Crean get this through?
Anyway, that's some dirt Indiana just did. They took a guy who was eligible, put him in classes, and then dumped him two weeks before fall classes start most places. Dwight Schrute, I am disappoint.
Etc.: Yahoo ranks Michigan #6; Pre-Snap Read goes with #18. I like reading previews just to see how many fanciful assertions each makes as someone with only a passing familiarity with the team in question tries to say stuff about guys on the line. Steve Sapardanis on Billy Taylor's shoes. Yeah, Pro Combat's a pretty dumb name for amateur non-combat. Maize and Go Blue breaks down some of Denard's mechanical issues.
Brief vacation note. I'll be limited Friday and Monday as I visit some friends. I don't think it'll be that noticeable Friday but it's likely there aren't going to be any major columns Monday or Tuesday. I won't be able to catch the hockey game since they're not on TV, but I will write something up on the Purdue game whenever I get a chance.
Northwestern. Via mgovideo:
Podcast. I guested on The Solid Verbal. They asked me if I could think of anything wrong with Brady Hoke and I came up empty. It's been a good 13 months.
Beilein recruiting vs. development. I'm not entirely clear on whether Dan Hanner's recruiting and coaching rankings have methodology gaps that would particularly affect John Beilien but the general idea is to evaluate a coach's recruiting on the ORtg of his freshmen and his development of players on the movement of that ORtg as the players age. Survey says:
|Thad Matta||Ohio St.||8||10||3rd||12th||2nd|
There are some obvious holes in the evaluations here since they only take offense into account, they assume a guy like Burke's performance is all recruiting and no development when he's had on average a half-year of development by the end of his freshman year, etc. But they do make the case that Beilein's recruiting at Michigan has been horrendously underrated, especially since the defense is more than holding its own in this year's Big Ten. Throw it on the pile of evidence indicating Beilein has a great eye for players.
See also: Trey Burke, nation's #3 freshman according to CBS.
It might behoove us to move to a less three-mad offense. Emphasis on "might"—obviously there is something going on with Beilein's offense that works. But in Ken Pomeroy's ongoing quest to discredit defensive three point efficiency, he's doing collateral damage to offensive three point efficiency:
Oh dear. The defensive plot is just a random scattering of data, as has been discussed previously, but the offensive version isn’t much better. If you shot 45% in the first half of the 2011 conference season, you’d be expected to shoot about 35% in the second half. If you shot 25% in the first half, you’d be expected to shoot 33% in the second half. A difference you couldn’t notice with your eyes. I don’t know exactly what implications this has on strategy, but when evenly-matched teams get together, action happening beyond the 3-point line is like a lottery. You take a shot and a third of the time you have success.
In contrast, two-point shooting correlates well. Pomeroy admits he doesn't know what the impact on strategy is, and neither do I. This could be an argument for Michigan to move its game inside the line, but it's not hard to see Michigan's #6 two-point shooting as a number that benefits greatly from Michigan's long-range bombing. As long as Michigan is going four-out, one-in they're going to have to take a lot of threes to stretch opponents into giving them decent opportunities from two.
Thirty-eight is way too many, though. Right now the Wildcats are obviously right with Michigan; in the future when McGary, Horford, Glenn Robinson, and Stauskas give M a huge size and athleticism advantage bombing it from the outside is asking to get upset. I wonder if we see Michigan cut back on the bombs in their new era of talent superiority.
Meet the new GERG? Iowa's new offensive coordinator:
If you were hoping that the Greg Davis rumors were nothing but smoke and disinformation, well, today is not your day. Kirk Bohls of the Austin American-Statesman, a gentleman who is about as well-connected to the Texas football program as Mack Brown himself, reported today that Greg Davis had accepted the Iowa offensive coordinator position.
Davis was run out of Texas on a rail after Colt McCoy graduated and the offense collapsed. Before that he'd told Vince Young to run around out there to good effect and transitioned to a pretty good McCoy-led passing spread, so this is not exactly hiring a guy whose only success in the past ten years was a one-year blip (Greg Robinson).
Still, a 61-year-old retread who cratered that much talent has Iowa fans shrugging. The consensus at BHGP is "decent"; if things go south this fall they'll turn quickly. Looks like Jacobi had to rewrite his headline after his initial take:
Also on the url of the above Prevail and Ride cartoon as uploaded to SBN:
Mattison is probably not quaking at the hire.
Elsewhere in Iowa blogging. The High Porch Picnic evaluates Michigan's recent recruiting from an Iowa POV and is a bit bothered that Hoke and Ferentz seem to have a lot more overlap than the Hawkeyes did with the previous Michigan regime. If I was Iowa I'd be more concerned with Michigan's sudden relevance in Illinois, a place they've struggled in for the past five years.
This reminds me to elaborate on something I mentioned in passing on the Solid Verbal: the current configuration of offenses in the Big Ten footprint is advantage Michigan recruiting. The two schools who do the best job of competing on the trail, Notre Dame and Ohio State, are now spread offenses. The second tier run pro-styles. Michigan looks like it's in a phase where it's rarely going to lose a battle against the second tier; meanwhile they should have an advantage with certain recruits in hostile territory simply because their opponents won't have a good place to put them.
Michigan's in a good position to starve Michigan State and, to a lesser extent, Iowa of offensive talent while bolstering their class with a guy like Jake Butt who Ohio State might have been pursuing hotly if they were still running a Tressel offense.
Side note: the impressive thing about Hoke's progress in Illinois is beating out ND. Remember when going up against Notre Dame was totally pointless, especially in Illinois? Yeah. We'll see what happens with Ty Isaac and LaQuon Treadwell; if Michigan lands them that will be a huge statement.
List o' jerkos. CBS's Eye on College Football lists the 30 BCS schools who voted to override the multi-year scholarship legislation and points out that their real desire is to avoid giving out multi-year scholarships themselves:
The motivation in Austin, Baton Rouge, Knoxville and Norman isn't that they can't hand out four-year scholarships, it's that they simply don't want to.
Of course, the legislation doesn't mean any school -- BCS, mid-major, or otherwise -- is required to offer multiple-year scholarships. But since that might put the schools that don't at a recruiting disadvantage against schools that do, the Texases (and USCs, and Alabamas) have tried to prevent anyone from offering them.
In short: because these schools don't want to promise their athletes a full four-year college education, they've decided the athletes at other schools shouldn't have the benefit of that promise, either.
But whatever, they failed. Wisconsin was the only Big Ten school to ask for an override. Their football team signed up with most of the rest of the conference in offering four-year rides, though, so why is unknown. IIRC, their hockey team has a bit of reputation for cutting kids loose. That might be it.
Now the Free Press won't exist for anyone else, either. Gannett hastens its own decline:
“We will begin to restrict some access to non-subscribers,” said Bob Dickey, [Gannett] president of community publishing. The model is similar to the metered system adopted by The New York Times a year ago, in which online readers are able to view a limited number of pages for free each month. That quota will be between five and 15 articles, depending on the paper, said Dickey. Six Gannett papers already have a digital pay regimen in place.
The Free Press is a Gannett paper, so to get your Drew Sharp fix you'll have to start kicking in subscription dollars. I'm sure the line will be lengthy: Gannett projects they'll increase subscription revenues by 25%—$100 million per year. Think of all the press conference rehashes, trolling, and Mitch Albom columns about angels you'll be missing out on.
HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! I'm not going to steal Ace's recruiting roundup thunder entirely but just… holy hopping ham sandwiches:
The Levenberry family is looking for a paternal figure to guide son E.J.'s career. It's found him in Ann Arbor.
E.J. Levenberry Jr. said this week that Michigan is the lead school for his services. The ESPNU 150 Watch List linebacker prospect from Woodbridge (Va.) C.D. Hylton referenced Wolverines coach Brady Hoke as one of the primary reasons why.
"He kind of reminds me of my dad, the way he carries himself," Levenberry said.
Add Levenberry, Isaac, Treadwell, and O'Daniel—all players who Michigan reputedly leads for now—and that's nine Rivals 100 recruits, three guys who would be consensus five-stars if rankings hold, and a class that will compete for the best in the country. They'll probably lose at least one of those guys and rankings do not hold*; even so… good God.
*[Because there's not many places to go but down and as the year goes along recruiting analysts will turn up top flight talent they missed the first time around. See: Ondre Pipkins. Even if Rivals's opinion of Jake Butt doesn't change at all he's likely to slide 20-30 spots by Signing Day.]
Briefly. Ohio State fans are now the ones annoyed by the "spread can't work in B10 lol" meme propagated by hobos, people who think wrestling is real, and newspaper columnists—all the same people. They get bonus annoyance because Rich Rodriguez just "proved" this by having a quarterback run for 1700 yards. As I said: people who think wrestling is real.
So they're trying to dispel the Rodriguez stink:
Rodriguez largely failed to evolve his offense past the spread's origins. Chris Brown, for instance, prophetically predicated at the beginning of Rodriguez's Michigan tenure that Rodriguez's passing game lacked the conceptual nature necessary to succeed as teams adapted to the spread's basic tenets. Nor did Rodriguez (for the most part) diversiify his offense in the way an Oregon has to counteract things such as scrape exchanges. Michigan never embraced plays such as the midline option, inverted veer, power or counter trey like others. The upshot is that, while Michigan's offense was largely succesful once Denard Robinson was in place, it never hummed in the way Oregon's offense did (particularly against better teams) to overcome Michigan's defense or special team liabilities.
That's not really true. Rodriguez adapted his system to use Lloyd's collection of tight ends, burned many defenses with plays specifically designed to blow up scrape exchanges, and eventually shelved large sections of the old playbook in favor of having Denard Robinson run QB isos and stretches, pairing those with "aigh he's open" moments when a Robinson run turned out to be a pass. The reason 31 points against Penn State and 28 with a missed chip shot field goal against Wisconsin were bad performances didn't have much to do with the offense.
Rodriguez's offense never reached the high-pitched hum of Oregon's because he never had a returning starter at quarterback and the only non-freshman was a breathtakingly green Denard Robinson. Also his tailbacks were pretty bad. If OSU fans are looking for narratives to combat hobos, "we'll have an assload of talent relative to Rodriguez" is your best bet.
Etc.: Tremendous has an even more detailed breakdown of Hoke's appearance at the Glazier Clinic. Rodger Sherman narrowly survived the Michigan-Northwestern game but the prognosis is grim. Michigan's off to a healthy lead in the name-based recruiting class derby but there's a "Zanquanarious Washington" out there—they will not win. Blue wall! You've already seen Luke Winn's decision to put us in SI's "magic eight" teams from which a national champion will come. That seems like a bad bet to me, but whatever. TTB interviews Jehu Chesson, who I will probably call "Jehuu Caulcrick" at some point during his career.
Great goalies past. An emailer brings up a name before my time:
As an alum who graduated in 1979, I would nominate Robbie Moore as a great UM goalie. If you think Hunwick is tiny, just check out the vitals and (lack of) padding on Moore. Robbie was one of the first entertainers at Michigan, earning cheers from the student section when he would hop atop the goal during timeouts and just sit there, swinging his legs back and forth.
His pro career appears to just be incredibly unlucky. I'm guessing he might have had a significant NHL stay if his rookie experience in the playoffs for the Flyers had gone just a bit better. The Flyers had to replace Parent, and Robbie just got on the wrong side of Pete Peeters and Pelle Lindbergh.
Yost wasn't tricked out in those days and UM was a solid program (made the frozen four in 76, I believe) but not a consistently great one. But Moore was a blast.
I think Hunwick should do the sit-on-the-goal thing. Probably tougher these days when the thing can come out from underneath you.
Besides stating the obvious, could you please explain the difference between four-year scholarships and one-year renewable scholarships? I have never heard of a coach just flat out cutting a guy for performance (publicly anyway). Even Saban gives his kids "medical" hardships instead of sending them on their merry way. Also, what happens in disciplinary cases? Do coaches still have the power to kick an athlete off the team for violating rules? And what would happen in cases like Tony Posada's last year (coming in out of shape)? Thanks in advance.
While you haven't heard about players getting flat-out cut for performance, they do in ways subtle and not. Certain transfers in search of playing time are undertaken with the understanding that not only playing time but a scholarship will be scarce in future years if the kid chooses to stick it out. St. Saban Memorial Hospital can only be pushed so far before it becomes ludicrous…
…and at some point after it becomes ludicrous the NCAA notices. Every year Saban has to shuffle some kids out the door. We never know who they are because they have no leverage and they don't want to rock the boat in case South Alabama is turned off. If those players suddenly have leverage we'll find out who they are (or more likely Saban will just continue to offer one year deals; at least then people going into their Alabama experience are explicitly warned).
As to what the functional differences are between one- and four-year scholarships, that is an implementation issue I haven't seen details about. Clearly there has to be some ability for coaches to cut players who fail out or sucker-punch a hockey player somewhere other than Michigan State. What those are have not been made clear. Given this post on the Bylaw Blog, I don't think that's a problem with publicity. It seems like no one is certain of the enforcement mechanism:
Key to the Big Ten’s oversigning limit is evaluating why scholarships are ending and judging whether schools should be able to replace that student-athlete with a new recruit. The stability and homogeneousness of the Big Ten’s membership has made this workable. Whether it remains workable in a larger conference with more fluid and diverse membership is questionable. And the idea of the NCAA running such an office sounds like a trap for the Association.
Without this evaluation, the oversigning limit is meaningless because a coach can simply clear out enough scholarships for whatever size class he wants by nonrenewing more current players before signing day.
This is the current situation. In the future, John Infante suggests multi-year scholarships would reduce the need for such an office. This would be the way things play out:
To clear roster space, a coach would have to find a permissible reason to cancel a scholarship during the period of award and complete the appeal process all prior to signing day. Adding in an exception if a coach grants permission to contact every Division I institution (an “unconditional release”) or pairing this oversigning limit with a transfer rule that granted a great deal of freedom to a student-athlete whose scholarship was cancelled would complicate matters, but would also discourage more roster turnover.
That transfer bit is a great idea—when a school voluntarily terminates a player's scholarship he should be able to transfer anywhere he wants and play immediately—but the definition of "permissible reason" is left unaddressed. Presumably academic washouts are amongst those. What level of legal trouble would be? MIPs? Traffic tickets? Minor possession beefs leading to probation?
As far as Posada goes, he left of his own volition and Michigan would likely be able to get his scholarship back. If he decided to stay and take advantage of his four-year scholarship he would have to participate in team activities, something he may not want to or be capable of doing. At that point the mutually beneficial solution would be to find a medical reason he should not participate. Like "I am very heavy."
Is that a satisfactory answer? No, not really. The NCAA has a lot of issues to hammer out. Again, virtually all of this would be solved by replacing the roster maximum with a yearly cap on new scholarship players.
Personal relationship with bowls.
With Michigan getting back to a BCS bowl this past season, I found
myself wondering about your personal stance on attending bowl games.
Considering your (justified) disdain for rich old dudes in yellow
blazers, I guess I always assumed that you avoided giving your
hard-earned cash to such operations. I certainly could have
overlooked it, but I don't recall you discussing your attendance at
the Sugar Bowl or any other bowl game since mgoblog's inception.
Then, in a recent UV column, you stated: "I'm probably not going to Dallas this year because I can get a generic NFL stadium experience at many bowl games."
I assume this was a tongue-in-cheek comment, but I figured the long
and boring football offseason is a good time to discuss this stuff:
(1) Which bowl games (Michigan or non-Michigan) have you attended?
The only bowl I have been to is the 2007 Rose Bowl. (The one against USC that was 3-3 at halftime and then ended 32-18.)
(2) Under what circumstances, if any, would you attend a Michigan
"bowl" game? National Championship game only (maybe only at the Rose
Bowl)? National Semi-Final right next door at Ford Field in Detroit
(assuming the system evolves/devolves that way)? Insight Bowl in
Tempe vs. Oklahoma (assuming you're already stuck in the desert on an
ill-fated family vacation, and tickets are $10)?
I'll be interested to hear you discuss some scenarios and your
rationale. I assume you attended, or at least really wanted to
attend, the 1998 Rose Bowl - but if you tell us you've attended every
bowl game since the mid-'90s there might be a collective "head
asplode" moment. Thanks for your work on the blog.
I strongly considered going to the Sugar Bowl but the timing did not work out well. The people I usually do these things with had work issues, my wife couldn't go because she is currently an adjunct at Michigan and classes started the day after. I had the option of flying down for one full day and thought that was not a good expenditure of money and time, especially because I'm expected to put out a ton of content in the vicinity of a football game. Without those annoying restrictions I probably would have taken the opportunity to hit up New Orleans.
The Rose Bowl moves the needle. I haven't gone to many in the past because I was an idiot ('98), a child (pre-'98) or being frugal (2004, 2005) just after exiting college. In the future I'll probably go to most Rose Bowls.
I can't imagine wanting to go to any other bowl. The problem is the locations. I have created a diagram to demonstrate.
(Los Angeles is debatable but the Rose Bowl is the Rose Bowl.) I'm not the kind of person who finds happiness wandering around somewhere screaming "OH MY GOD IT'S WARM." I would go to a bowl game in Denver or Santa Fe because I could pack in some skiing around it—the Frozen Four in Denver was fantastic—but there aren't any Big Ten bowls in ski destinations. Northern California is the closest place that actually has a game. Unfortunately, the Big Ten's relentless insistence on making the cities the least appealing ones possible means the bonus parts of your trip are going to Epcot Center or… uh… whatever they do in Tampa. Orson says that's do meth and strip. Tampa, Jacksonville, Orlando, and Scottsdale are the Applebees of American cities. I can't think of any reason on earth to go to Houston or Dallas. It's bad when you lose San Antonio and your bowl destinations get worse.
My ideal bowl locations are in order: Denver, San Francisco, New York, Santa Fe, [NARRATOR CONTINUES FOR HOURS], a Vietnam WAR POW prison, a Honduran prison, Guantanamo Bay, Orlando. Since available destinations will forever be non-overlapping Venn diagram circles, it's the Rose or nothing unless Michigan makes a title game or gets sucked into the Sugar Bowl again.
Am I wrong about this? Is Orlando a fun place to go? Please advise.
Retro lingo revival.
I was reading this article about a "cyclorama" of the Battle of Gettysburg, and something caught my attention. Basically, a "cyclorama" was a giant painting (this one was four hundred feet long) displayed on the interior of a rotunda. The Gettysburg one was considered a masterpiece of the form and was hugely popular. Naturally, that success inspired copycats:
These pirated works were known as "buckeyes," a pejorative commonly applied to things of inferior quality and, in the art world, used for painters and their works aimed at the commercial market.
Surely this excellent 19th century definition could use a 21st century revival. For example, say you got a new phone that wasn't as good as your old phone. Instead of saying "It's a real piece of crap", you'd say "It's a real buckeye". Or instead of saying "my cheap sandals broke", you'd say "my buckeye sandals broke". Bing is a buckeye, as is ESPN the Magazine, examples abound. It'll take some getting used to, but I think we can bring this back.
As I was saying, the Big Ten's bowl destinations are all buckeyed up.
Bounce back begins. Harbaugh's back and you're gonna be in trouble.
Hey na, hey na.
Ufershirt part 2. We have a new Ufer shirt in the store:
Tooley. Derek Dooley goes on the offensive in the AJC to defend oversigning. He makes one cogent point: the SEC rule doesn't really end the practice since 25 x 4 = 100. Well struck.
Unfortunately, using that point to call out the SEC for putting a fig leaf on a PR problem falls flat after asserting two Immense Benefits Of Oversigning. The First Immense Benefit Of Oversigning:
I think over-signing is good for the student-athlete. Let me give you some hypotheticals: Let’s say a a guy gets hurt his senior year, and there’s a good chance he won’t play his freshman year of college. He has got to do surgery and rehab. What could we do in the past? In the past, we could sign him, grayshirt him and put him in next year’s class. That allowed him to come to the type of school he wanted to come to, whereas now those kind of guys have to go to a different school.
The kind explanation here is that Dooley doesn't know NCAA rules. The letter of intent is not required to give a student athlete a scholarship, as dozens of early enrollees prove every January. Brandon Knight never bothered with a LOI before he showed up for his single season at Kentucky.
The only thing the LOI does is lock the athlete into a school. It gets the athlete very little. If you're eligible and have signed a letter of intent and Les Miles has an oopsie and has 86 scholarship players, someone's getting screwed. Hint: it is not Les Miles.
The above scenario can still take place. It's just that the player you're benevolently grayshirting can still take a better offer if one comes along. He can go to the type of school he wanted to go to because he's not locked in. Dooley is protesting that not restricting athletes' choices prevents them from choosing.
The second scenario is let’s take a guy who academically not eligible. … You look at their mid-year grades and you see that they’re going to be an academic risk, or there’s a good chance that they won’t qualify. Well, then you have to make a decision. Because in the past, you could sign them and if he didn’t qualify, place him in a junior college, help him get into a junior college and give him the motivation to come back to your school one day. Now you can’t sign him, or you’re not willing to take that risk because you can’t be short on your roster. So now they’re more on their own, and they don’t get to sign with the school that they want to go to.
If they do qualify, they can still attend your school. Thus the Second Immense Benefit Of Oversigning is that players who aren't going to make it get to sign a meaningless piece of paper so they can pretend they are not going to JUCO.
So there’s a lot of good things about over-signing that gives more opportunities for good players. When you eliminate that, now you’re providing less opportunities for them.
"Opportunity" is a zero-sum game. To give a player an opportunity you have to take one away from someone else.
In conclusion, Derek Dooley is getting fired next year.
Did we invent the sweatervest? Rick Santorum* apparently wears them, which has prompted Slate to write about them. They attempt to trace the origins of the thing and think it originated in Ann Arbor of all places:
The Oxford English Dictionary lists the first use of “sweater” in 1882, in reference to the sleeve-having woolens used by rowers to encourage profuse sweating, and consequently, weight loss. By the turn of the century, the sweater, though still considered sportsman’s garb, had lost its perspiratory function and become a more standard jacket substitute. It seems to be at this point, or shortly thereafter, that the idea was first had to lop off the sleeves. In 1907, 14 members of Michigan’s football team were rewarded with an embroidered “M” sewn, for the first time, onto not regular sweaters, but sweater vests.
Like script Ohio, an Ohio State tradition comes from that school up north.
*[NO POLITICS REMINDER]
Origins and breakdowns. Our Helmets Have Wings—another Michigan blog that made a bad investment in a Rodriguez-themed title—provides a thorough breakdown of Michigan's most recent class. Michigan's percentage of recruits from the local area has been increasing:
Michigan's last three years are the most Midwest-heavy in a while. Whether that's increasing local talent or a decline in Michigan's ability to sell itself nationally is in the eye of the beholder. The most recent class appears to be the former. The previous ones maybe not so much.
Let's build narratives from them. Kenpom is irritated at the insistent narrative surrounding Murray State's first loss of the year:
It’s the manufactured stories that attempt to explain the often-unexplainable variability in a team’s performance that I take issue with. Some team salvages its season by going on a late winning-streak and the origins of the streak are explained by a players-only meeting or the team captain stepping up and being a leader, or a renewed emphasis on defense, etc. When in reality, the causes of the change may have been more complicated that anyone could truly understand. (Naturally, this xkcd comic comes to mind.)
Murray State’s loss last week provided one of the clearest such examples of this method of analysis. The general assumption after the loss was that the Racers cracked under the pressure [(1), (2), (3)] of their unbeaten record. Even the coach said so! The thing is, Murray never reached a point during the season where they were better than a 50% proposition to go unbeaten in conference. You play enough games in which you are heavily favored, and you are going to lose eventually. Put more precisely, a team that plays ten games as a 90% favorite is expected to lose once during that span, and the Racers have played a lot of such games this season, including the game against Tennessee State.
The average deviation from the Vegas line is an impressively large 8.4 points. A lot of random stuff happens in a college basketball game.
Short-sighted next-quarter revenue is everywhere. Mike Slive inexplicably adding two mediocre Big 12 schools to the SEC now threatens the annual protected crossover game in the SEC and rivalries like Auburn-Georgia because the league refuses to add a ninth conference game. This is good for the immediate bottom line but long-term it threatens to erode fandom. Braves & Birds:
the SEC has been so thoroughly sucked into the vortex of being a quasi-pro sport that short-term revenue maximization is now the name of the game. The changes to the conference in the 90s - splitting into divisions and joining a two-team playoff - proved to be beneficial in getting the league where it is today, but the decision in the works to jettison two of the SEC's best rivalries is unlikely to have any such upsides. Aside from the facts that the decision has angered the league's core consumers and could turn them against the new arrivals ("thanks, Mizzou, you cost us the Deep South's oldest rivalry and the Third Saturday in October"), the change will upset the rhythm of the season and ever so slightly diminish the quality of the TV product. The SEC is losing a little of its soul with this decision, and its soul is part of what makes the conference so profitable.
The Alabama-Tennessee game is so deeply part of the identities of the two schools that their reflexive response to "third Saturday in October" is the opponent they've played every year on that date since proto-Bear trudged out of the ocean. The SEC is dumping that tradition for 1) the opportunity to renegotiate a bad TV contract and 2) the sanctity of games against Furman and the Citadel.
An excellent idea. The long-rumored M-OSU lacrosse game in Michigan Stadium is official:
Team 133 will take the field for its annual spring scrimmage at noon EST on Saturday, April 14. Prior to the football team's debut, the Victors Classic Alumni Flag Football Game will be held at 10 a.m. inside the Big House.
Following the football scrimmage at 2:30 p.m. will be the "Battle in the Big House," which pits Michigan's first-year varsity men's lacrosse team against Ohio State.
I look forward to taking in a live lacrosse game for the first time.
Etc.: Michigan's goals against MSU broken down in the diaries; good discussion in the comments as well. The Joe sold out for the MSU game on Saturday. Odd timing for the first sellout in a while there. The Daily reminds us of Hunwick's Wildcat uppercut earlier in the year. If you want to know why everyone in the world is running him, that's why. Also because they get away with it. MHN interviews 2013 commit Evan Allen.
In today's recruiting roundup, Sam Webb goes in-depth with Logan Tuley-Tillman and Laquon Treadwell, discusses new offers and visits, and takes a look ahead at a couple of 2014 prospects. Also, Derek Dooley whines about not being able to oversign. You stay classy, SEC.
ALEX KOZAN UPDATE
There is no Alex Kozan update. Please stop asking. When he makes a decision, you'll know. Do not disturb the tao of the vision quest.
Other 2012 stuff: Joe Bolden is already hitting the weights hard after enrolling early ($):
[Preparing for spring practice] includes making every voluntary workout session, hitting the books hard and preparing for Big Ten football. He and strength coach Aaron Wellman aren't best friends yet, but "getting there," Bolden said with a chuckle.
"It's strenuous, but good," he said. "That's one of the reasons I came in early, to get in and get my body in shape to play Big Ten football. I've gained three pounds (in a month), and I don't think it's fat."
Bolden came in at 225 pounds, so it sounds like he's well on his way to being physically ready to see the field this fall.
Touch the Banner posts Allen Gant's senior highlight tape.
Tennessee coach Derek Dooley rants against the SEC's new restrictions on oversigning over at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. I really don't even know where to start; he thinks oversigning is "good for the student-athlete," complains that he can no longer greyshirt recruits who were injured as seniors—claiming that they could get just as good medical care at home as they would with the professional medical staff at Tennessee—and is mad he's no longer able to take guys who aren't academically eligible. I guess I shouldn't be surprised that such idiotic scumbaggery is coming from a guy who regularly wears orange pants and has a history of blocking legitimate transfer requests, but man... if he disappears in the near future, it's because Nick Saban decided Dooley wasn't a suitable spokesman for the SEC way of doing things.
Teach Me How To Logie
Peoria (IL) Manual OT Logan Tuley-Tillman and Crete (IL) Monee WR Laquon Treadwell both visited Ann Arbor last weekend—and, perhaps more importantly, brought along their mothers—getting a chance to take in the basketball game against Illinois and check out the Big House when it's not packed with 110,000+ people. After the visit, Sam Webb interviewed the recruits and their moms on WTKA, and video of the interviews is posted on Scout. Tuley-Tillman's is broken into three parts; part one is free, and parts two and three are behind a paywall. Logan confirmed that Michigan is definitely his top school—it was his "sixth or seventh" visit, and he's looking to come up again this weekend—followed by Alabama and Florida State. MGoUser WolverineInABag had a summary of the rest of the interview, which I'm reprinting below [emphasis mine]:
-Michigan remains his outright leader, by a long shot
-This was LTT's 6th visit to Michigan, 1st with his mother
-Has developed a great relationship with Coach Funk
-His Aunt living close to Ann Arbor is VERY important to him
-His Mother wants him to go to UM, and she seemingly stressed that several times in the interview
-His Mother calls him "Logie"
-He will take all of his official visits
-Loves the family atmosphere at Michigan
This was his mother's first trip to Ann Arbor with Logan, and she came away very impressed with the school and the coaches. While Logan plans on taking his time and seeing other schools, at this point it's difficult to see him not ending up at Michigan—he's already been inside Nick Saban's office and come out with the Wolverines as his leader.
Treadwell's interview is spread over two parts, again with the first part up for free and the second paywalled. Though Treadwell is also slowing it down and won't name a leader at this time, he did say that Michigan at one point held a big lead and they're now in his top group with Michigan State—where he also visited last weekend, and enjoyed it—and Notre Dame. He's been impressed with his recruiters at Michigan, Coach Montgomery and Coach Hecklinski, and so was his mother. One very interesting development is that Treadwell, Tuley-Tillman, and Joliet (IL) Academy RB Ty Isaac are in regular communication about their recruitments; they're considering all going to the same school and would like to visit Ann Arbor together. That would be one heck of a package deal.
Speaking of Isaac, Webb posted an excerpt from a full magazine feature in which he interviews the junior's father, Tyrone, and they discussed Isaac's visit to Ann Arbor in January. It appears that Fred Jackson is pretty keen on coaching Isaac in the future:
Sam Webb: What were some other things, aside from the genuineness, that kind of stuck out to you during your time on campus?
Tyrone Isaac: “One of the things that really stuck out was Coach Jackson. When we walked in there, he had a plan for him. No other place that we went had a plan. He had dates written down, and he had, ‘if you commit, you know, I want you to know all the plays before you ever get on campus’, you know? For me, you have to have a game plan. You know? Seriously, you have to have a game plan.”
Wyatt Shallman—another running back recruit, and that has been reiterated to him several times—visited this past weekend as well, and he reported that he enjoyed the visit and his talk with Jackson ($). Shallman is in no hurry to commit and won't name any leaders; right now he's focused on working out with his Catholic Central teammates after being hampered by a hamstring injury for most of his junior year (he says he's now back to 100%).
Offers, Visits, and Lists (Oh My)
A few new offers for class of 2013 prospects came in over the weekend. Jersey City (NJ) St. Peter's Prep CB Tre Bell received his offer from Curt Mallory on Sunday; I interviewed him yesterday and will have that transcribed and posted in the near future. The offers have been pouring in for Bell—a three-star to 24/7—over the last couple weeks, including ones from Florida, Nebraska, South Carolina, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
The Wolverines also offered 6'5", 295-pound tackle John Montelus, who hails from Everett (MA). He recently was named the #214 overall prospect in the Rivals250. Tremendous has a quick rundown of their interview with him (linked above), and I should be talking to him within the next day or so.
One of the top running backs in the country, Cypress (TX) CyRanch's Keith Ford earned his offer over the weekend. He's a highly-sought prospect with a current top five of Oklahoma, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Florida State and Alabama, and he holds offers from all five of those schools. It could be very tough to bring him in, though potentially not as tough as many Texas prospects—he's originally from Jacksonville, though that also makes Florida State a more intriguing destination.
Michigan also offered another running back, Cordova (TN) St. Benedict's Jordan Wilkins, who also holds offers from Tennessee, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, Purdue, Arkansas and Memphis ($, info in header). Wilkins is still waiting to hear from some big-names schools, as well as visit the places he's been offered from, but he did name a preliminary top five:
"Right now I don't have a top list, but it was Arkansas, Vanderbilt, Alabama, Ohio State and now that Michigan popped in there that's probably my top five," [Wilkins] said.
Meanwhile, several top prospects have stated intentions to visit Ann Arbor. Four-star Pickerington (OH) Central DE Taco Charlton will be in Ann Arbor this weekend, and he mentioned the possibility of an early commitment to Scout ($, info in header) [emphasis mine]:
"It'll just be great to get a chance to talk to all of the coaches you know Mattison, Hoke," said Charlton. "I got a chance to talk to Singletary and Montgomery and Coach Smith just them right there was great, especially that they came all the way down to Ohio to see me. That just shows that they're showing love to me already."
The question now is how much of that love will Charlton reciprocate when he is in Ann Arbor next weekend. Might a commitment take place while he is on campus?
"It might be a little slight chance," Charlton said with a smile. "We'll see how things go after the visit, then we'll talk after that. I definitely want to enjoy the visit first."
Charlton has maintained throughout the process that Michigan getting in on him early was a big point in their favor. We'll have to see if he decides that's enough of a factor—along with potential early playing time, another priority—to end his recruitment early.
Running through the other players who plan on visiting and don't have set dates yet: Richmond (VA) RB Derrick Green, who wants to visit this summer and said Fred Jackson is "one of the coaches that’s going to keep it 100 with me," which is just a fantastic quote ($); Good Counsel (MD) CB Kendall Fuller, one of the top prospects in the country ($, info in header); Shaker Heights (OH) DL Donovan Munger, who's hoping for an offer soon and "definitely" plans on visiting ($); Cleveland Glenville S Christopher Worley—confusing, I know—who currently holds just a Bowling Green offer but has several big-name schools, including Ohio State, interested ($); Avon (OH) athlete Ross Douglas would "love to have that [Michigan] offer," and he's talking to Greg Mattison about taking a visit ($).
There are a couple happy trails: Tyrone (GA) Sandy Creek CB Shaq Wiggins committed to Georgia, while Austintown (OH) Fitch DL Billy Price chose the Buckeyes this past week. Also, four-star NJ CB Eli Woodard has set a decision date for Thursday afternoon, and—after coming off a three-day visit to Columbus—Ohio State is the presumed destination ($).
A couple of rising sophomore defensive linemen have expressed interest in Michigan recently. Allen Trieu has a free article on Detroit Loyola DE Malik McDowell, who's coming off a fantastic performance at last weekend's Elite Big Man camp ($). McDowell plans to camp at Michigan, MSU, and LSU, but he had a one-word answer when asked which school he rooted for growing up: "Michigan." Look for the Wolverines to be heavily involved in his recruitment, and also for him to be one of the top prospects in the 2014 class.
Another player who could earn that distinction is Thiensville (WI) Homestead DT Brandon Hines, who's recently spoke to Greg Mattison and has expressed interest in Michigan, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Boston College, and Arkansas early ($). I should be talking to Brandon this week as well, so you'll be hearing more from him soon.
The glory of signing with Alabama. Three-star DT Darius Philon announced he'd be going to Alabama on Signing Day. He did it like this:
If that seems unusual, it's because Philon had probably just been told that he wasn't actually going to Alabama. Alabama swung a decommit and pulled his offer; Philon ended up signing with Arkansas, a school he hadn't so much as visited. The actual video is… weird:
The AJC says the "moral of the story" is…
If you commit to Alabama, it’s safe unless you get injured or Alabama has the opportunity to upgrade at your position before you officially sign the paperwork.
Horford redshirt update: happening. Jon Horford's injury redshirt has been increasingly likely with every game he misses and now seems all but certain. Horford himself says as much:
"If coach said, 'We absolutely need you to come back,' I could come back," Horford said Sunday following Michigan's 64-54 loss to Michigan State. "But other than that, I've missed so many games that I feel like coming back at this point would almost be a waste of a season."
In the long run that's probably a good thing for the program as it will move Horford out of Jordan Morgan's class and give the team a fifth-year senior to rely on after he departs (and who knows what Mitch McGary's going to do). That will help bridge the gap between this generation of posts and the Bielfeldt/Donnal setup. Speaking of Bielfeldt…
Bielfeldt hype. Beilein talked up the redshirting freshman in a conference call recently:
He came in here with really bad tendonitis in his knees and was not nearly as athletic as he (had shown in the past)," Beilein said during the Big Ten coaches teleconference. "He was really just struggling. But he's young, with a young birthday, and given the fact that we were still evolving with some positions here, it did not make sense for him or for us to burn a redshirt."
The tendons have gotten better and allowed him to play scout-team center:
"He's a big man with good hands, and those aren't a dime a dozen," Beilein said. "He's a tremendous rebounder. Where he's not gifted vertically, he's really good in small spaces."
It'll be interesting to see what he plays like… and where. He doesn't seem like either a four or a five at 6'7", 240. Presumably he'll be a backup at both spots for his first couple seasons.
The move. I'm not in agreement that Belichick's decision to let New York score in the waning moments of the Super Bowl was "the ballsiest call in Super Bowl History." It was obvious. The choices there are between watching an NFL kicker attempt a virtual extra point with no time on the clock or giving Tom Brady a minute with which to attempt the comeback.
It would have been ballsy if Belichick had come out of the two-minute warning with a red carpet and instructed his defense to bodily carry any Giant with the ball into the endzone. It also would have been correct:
The smartest play of all would've been for Belichick to have allowed the touchdown even earlier. The Patriots certainly could have done so on the play prior to Bradshaw's touchdown run, when he was stopped for a one-yard gain, forcing New England to burn its second timeout. In fact, they probably should have allowed a touchdown as early as the two-minute warning.That's the point at which the Win Probability of receiving a kickoff down by four or six points (0.23) exceeds the Win Probability of trying to stop the Giants from bleeding the clock dry (0.2). The Patriots would have had almost two minutes, two timeouts, and all four downs available to get a touchdown and steal the win. The lesson: New England didn't lie down soon enough.
Always quit, son.
The difference. There are many reasons I couldn't give two craps about the NFL. Many derive from the fact that merely contemplating Tom Coughlin's staid, fun-murdering face seriously damages my quality of life.
Many others are summarized by the Lombardi trophy presentation. Michael from Braves & Birds contrasts Barca's celebrations after winning the Champions League with the ceremony last night:
Instead of a football icon handing the trophy over, we get Roger Goodell, a life-long NFL suit who is most noted for giving himself the power to suspend players for any reason he sees fit and for persuading Peter King to write the most sycophantic cover story that I can recall reading in Sports Illustrated. Instead of a [Barcelona FC] totem like Puyol or a cancer-survivor like Abidal accepting the trophy, we had the New York Giants' owners getting the honor. Puyol and Abidal got the right to hold the trophy aloft because they established themselves as some of the best players in the world at their positions; John Mara and Steve Tisch got the right to hoist the Lombardi Trophy because they inherited the team from their parents.
The Michigan equivalent would be handing the Sugar Bowl trophy to Dave Brandon. This, thankfully, does not happen. Instead we get Junior Hemingway breaking down.
Juxtaposing a Michigan-MSU game at Breslin with the Super Bowl on the same day really drove the point home.
I am much more invested in the stories of people who have reasons to do what they are doing other than "I have a contract."
Tooley. Derek Dooley is amazingly hypocritical:
“I’m still trying to figure out what I’m missing,” he said. “You have these contracts. It’s called quid pro quo. We give you this. You give us that. But if they don’t give us that and we decide not to give them this, then it’s the worst thing you can do. I’m still struggling to understand that issue…”
This verges on "I'm not even mad, I'm impressed" territory.
Etc.: Jim Herrmann might be coming back to be Iowa's DC, which would be the most Kirk Ferentz move ever. NCAA president urges school presidents to support multi-year scholarship offers. 2012 hockey recruit Justin Selman's stock seems to be on the rise.