Take it easy, man. An announcement: WTKA is moving towards a single drive-time host on the Big Show and it won't be me (obviously—I'm not a radio pro), so the Monday 4-6 window I've been holding down since August is kaput. I'll still be on from 9-10 on Thursdays with Ira and probably do intermittent call-ins when there's something to talk about.
Ira was worried he'd get crucified on the internets for this, so be gentle.
The switch. Cameron Gordon is officially a safety-type player:
“The coaches would always be like, ‘Come to the dark side, come to the dark side,” Gordon said.
A few weeks ago, he did.
Those were the defensive coaches, for what it's worth. Touch The Banner suggests it's not the last move for Gordon in a largely positive take:
I still think he's best suited for linebacker, particularly the weak inside linebacker position held tenuously by Jonas Mouton. Perhaps this is the next step in a slow transition to WILL, because I don't foresee Gordon having the speed to play weak safety, either. There are times in this defense where the strong safety has to roll over to play man coverage on the strong side, meaning the weak safety has to back up to play the deep middle or a deep half.
"Held tenuously" is this defense's equivalent of "magic" in the Winter Olympics. As far as the critique goes: I'm with him. If Gordon is 210 pounds now he'll probably be pushing 220 by fall, which is good for half that position's job but maybe not so good for the deep half bit. Michigan didn't have the ability to have the box safety drop into a deep zone last year and was forced to use Donovan Warren as the second guy in cover two. This exposed Michigan to those wide receiver screens that killed them all year.
I do disagree with TTB's assertion that Rodriguez hasn't shown a propensity for using the middle of the field in the passing game. Who's the number one receiver going into spring? Probably Roy Roundtree, right?
Demon Bear: the interview. Neal Rubin of the News was so moved by Demon Bear destroying everything in sight that he has a newspaper column and bonus Q&A with the developers. Unfortunately, the original video that pwned MSU, OSU, and Notre Dame has been replaced by one that obliterates Miami instead of ND, but that's life.
Anyway, the highlight from Rubin's opus is definitely this:
Jon Dorfman and Szymon Weglarski, partners in a computer animation studio called HiFi 3D, also say they've heard from other universities interested in a similar approach. "Rival mascots," explains Weglarski, "want revenge."
I thought the second bear video would be inevitably disappointing and I was wrong, so maybe Dorfman and Weglarski can continue to raise the bar with bulldog light saber fights and broncos that bore into the earth's core.
Rubin also gets an indirect answer to the question "where's Michigan?"
As a Michiganian, I felt a rush of pride when a polar bear obliterated Spartan Stadium. Any particular reason you chose MSU?
SZYMON: The rival schools were singled out by the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Apparently they're a big rival.
I get including MSU, a longtime power, and Miami and Notre Dame, the league's new hotness, but what's the deal with blowing up perpetually mediocre Ohio State? Actually, scratch that. The need to destroy Columbus is self-evident.
Save (for) us. Bob Miller of the Wolverine is running a new college hockey recruiting site and one of their recent articles is on Omaha Lancers goalie Jeff Teglia, who's currently second in the league in save percentage as a 19 year old and should be on Michigan's radar now:
"Once they landed Campbell, they lost interest, but again that's an awesome school and a great, great hockey program," Teglia said. "I'd love to go somewhere in the Midwest because that's where I'm from, but out east would work also.
Notre Dame is Teglia's "dream school," but we'll forgive him for that. ND doesn't have room for a scholarship goalie, FWIW.
Oh… right… the weekend. I didn't do a usual recap post for the petulant reason. Yost Built has one. The weekend was incredibly sloppy, with UNO provided a ton of scoring opportunities because Michigan players got excessively aggressive. My favorite was the goal Saturday night where two Michigan players checked a guy at center ice, creating one of UNO's many, many two-on-ones. Or the one on which Llewellyn turned a routine rush into a two-on-one by aggressively moving to check a guy on his partner's side of the ice and then shot the resulting cross-ice pass into his own goal. I'll just say I'm surprised Lee Moffie was a healthy scratch the last couple weekends. He drew into the lineup when Summers got knocked out for the Saturday game.
Michigan's done unless they win the CCHA tournament, which at this point means trudging through two best-of-three series, one on the road, and then beating Miami and someone else at the Joe. Chances of that: low. At least I won't spend a bunch of time figuring out all the crazy vagaries of the PWR this year.
"He made good saves, and he gave up goals he should’ve saved, simple as that," Michigan coach Red Berenson said. “There were times when he saved us, and there were times where he cost us. Four goals against is not good enough. And that’s a team thing too, but Hogie is the last line of defense." …
“There were times when he had no support and times he didn’t read the support,” Berenson said. “Like, if I know this guy (to my side) is wide open, and I’m focused on (the guy with the puck), and I’m convinced he’s going to shoot. And he passes it. I’m toast. I didn’t read it. Every time they got a two-on-one, they scored.”
That is blunt even for Red, and though I've repeatedly expressed the opinion that Hogan's save percentage is 1) bad and 2) deserved I'm surprised given the kinds of goals UNO scored, which were mostly off terrible defensive play.
Etc.: Charlie Davies is going to France to train. PSU basketball blog—good lord—Battle Does It Again has a UFR-type object for Penn State's game against the Spartans. Slate is tracking Olympic sap. I miss CBC's coverage so hard. Curling starts today, though. Michigan ice dancers go on the 19th.
Note. In case anyone hadn't noticed, the restrictions implemented Saturday were lifted yesterday, so things should be back to normal. I think it worked out pretty well; there were a number of threads that got deleted but overall things here were way less dumb than elsewhere, thanks in large part to turning off the ability for people to sign up to vent. That system will return in the aftermath of future HEAD ASPLODE type events.
There have been complaints about censorship, to which I say nuts. Example of a pulled thread:
F--- my life.
If football can't fill the void in my life, i'm just going to have to turn to booze and sluts.
This is noise, and things on the internet get ruined when the signal to noise ratio gets too low. The MGoBlog trend is ever-increasing levels of restriction as the blog grows to keep the ratio relatively high, and that won't change.
Also BONUS. I've turned on the ability for folks to use Windows Live Writer to put up diary posts. For now it's restricted to 500+ point folk; once I know it's up and running without incident anyone will be able to use it if you like. Complicated instructions will allow you to access much more convenient picture uploads and tagging and whatnot. It's just a better editor in all ways. (protip: the main column is 560 pixels wide.)
Mac/Linux people will have to pound sand. Sorry.
Fun fun fun until daddy's head explodes, leaving chunks spread across the county. So… was yesterday's appearance on WTKA fun or what? Yes, it was fun or what. If you'd like a hear a man attempting to hang on to the last shreds of his sanity, there are podcasts:
Sorry I can't embed them; WTKA's site is a little less than modern.
If you just want to get to the part where smoke comes out my ears, MVictors has helpfully clipped it out. Now I'm going to go put my head in a bucket of ice. Maybe I'll steam some broccoli at the same time.
Elsewhere in last weekend, This Week In Schadenfreude sticks Michigan—and yours truly!—above the fold. Peek into the terror that is my inbox.
Mary Sue got your back. President Coleman with the long-term vote of confidence:
"I don't think it's fair to coaches to bring them in and say, 'We're going to give you three years,'" she said in an interview on Friday, citing a recent example. "When [former men's basketball coach] Tommy Amaker came in, we stuck with him for six years. It just wasn't going to work; it wasn't the right fit. But it wasn't a rushed decision."
Note that the statement specifically implies not just next year but the year after for Rodriguez. Short of a major violation from the Freep jihad—which I will reiterate is not the expected outcome from anyone on the Michigan side of things—Rodriguez will get to 2011, at which point it's up to him.
Why the suck? We're living in an era of college football hyperbole thanks to the 12th game and bowl games now counting as official stats, but not retroactively. Every good multi-year starter is now breaking or threatening this record or that. There's no better example of this than Juice Williams approaching the top five in all time Big Ten passing yards. All these records mean nothing.
But there's one area of hyperbole that's not hyperbole at all: we are really living through an era of the worst calls in college football history. Before the advent of replay, bad calls were just bad calls and were relatively understandable since they were irreversible split-second decisions. Now, though, replay officials can commit the cardinal sin of screwing up an obviously correct call. Here's a touchdown from the Indiana-Iowa game:
This was ruled a touchdown on the field and overturned by the replay official. It is in the building when it comes to worst calls ever made because some guy saw indisputable evidence—watch the field turf change color as the IU receiver's foot rakes over it—of a touchdown and called it not a touchdown. (It's not very far in the building since I can think of two more egregious ones off the top of my head: Brandon Minor's pylon-aided touchdown against Michigan State last year and the onside kick Oregon was awarded despite never even recovering the ball.)
So, a question: why are confused goats allowed to run these things? Honestly. There is no other explanation for this stuff. A few years ago refs correctly called Antonio Bass down against Iowa and the replay official overturned it despite clear evidence that the reason the ball came out was Bass's elbow hitting the ground. They failed to overturn that ridiculous Domata Peko touchdown. On the Indiana call above it is so obvious that the PBP guy immediately says "oh he dragged that right foot" as the spray of fieldturf pellets goes up. Most replay calls are that obvious on a first viewing, and yet they take five minutes and there's a reasonable chance the guy in the booth can't see what's completely obvious to everyone watching the game.
I don't know what the fix is, but I think a major problem is that replay officials are often referees who have been put out to pasture. Therefore they are crazy and old. Putting crazy old people in charge leads to things like Florida State's defense. It is not a good idea.
You grow like a weed. Hope burgeons for your #15 Michigan Wolverine basketball team (who wants some FREE PPPPPIZZAAA) for a variety of reasons, mostly Manny Harris and Deshawn Sims. Big Ten Geeks has put together a great study that provides another reason for optimism:
The big, overarching conclusion is this: a player shows the most improvement between his freshman and sophomore seasons than he does any other offseason. In fact, the freshman offseason improvement is, on average, greater than the improvement between a player's sophomore season and his senior season.
Here's the o-rating chart:
How this applies to the Big Ten this year:
Schwing. Indiana is a runaway winner here but their goal is to go from one of the worst teams in a major conference to one of the worst teams in the Big Ten. Amongst actual contenders no team should see its players improve more than Michigan and the only team that's even somewhat close is Minnesota. The bounce Michigan gets should be significant.
I'll add in my default caution: past performance is a better predictor of future results than past results. Michigan's past performance lags behind their past results—they finished the year #50 in the Pomeroy rankings instead of the 40th-ish their tourney seeding suggested or the 32nd-ish their second-round status suggested. That's the baseline from which I'm measuring improvement, and from that perspective I've thought projecting a leap into the top 15 was optimistic. 25? Sure. 15? Probably not. The above chart is convincing enough to close some of that gap, IME.
You rang? There are three main questions going into the season. One: can Manny Harris reduce appearances of Evil Manny to a couple here and there? Two: will one of the wing players step up to be a true three-point gunner with an eFG percentage Salim Stoudemire would be proud of? And three: will we get anything from a big lumbering gumpy white guy?
BLGWG #1 is Zack Gibson, who can't shoot threes like he thinks he can and doesn't do much offensively but has erratic moments of OMGIBSON ownage. College bigs like him often take some time to get it together and find themselves blossoming into useful, even good players their senior year. Examples from recent Michigan vintage include Graham Brown and Chris Young. And late last year Gibson was a huge factor on defense, making a lot of plays that no one else on the roster can make for reasons of being 6'5" tops. I wouldn't be surprised if he had a quasi-breakout year that no one except Michigan fans notice.
BLGWG #2 is Ben Cronin, who Mike Rothstein hyped up a few days ago on AnnArbor.com:
“My legs are in the best shape they’ve been in in a long time,” Cronin said. “I’m sure it’s going to turn over on the court where I guarantee I’m going to be a little more explosive than I’ve ever been. And my endurance is going to be better because of the track, so I’m really excited about where I’m at.”
Cronin is what Beilein looks for in a big man. He’s intelligent. He has good passing skills, something demonstrated during Saturday’s open practice when he found cutting players from the high post.
He’s also demonstrated the ability to shoot three-pointers - something Beilein’s most well-known big man, former West Virginia center Kevin Pittsnogle, was known for.
There's no way Cronin is an effective or frequent three-point shooter and the conditioning/hip issues are probably going to limit him to 10-15 minutes a game—Beilein says Cronin "doesn't have his bounce back" in the article. But in his cameo last year before the injury redshirt he showed some skills to go with his hugeness. If he can spell Gibson effectively Michigan will be able to roll out a decently sized lineup against the big thumpers of the world, which would do wonders for Michigan's atrocious 2PT FG defense.
No. This guy attempts to defend Deadspin for the Phillips Incident, stating that the rumors weren't "unsourced" based on Daulerio's round of contrition interviews in which he repeatedly stated that they weren't just publishing random emails. I don't know if I believe that; given the way it was framed it was clear Daulerio didn't care either way, really.
And let's remember what the "news" is here: Deadspin has successfully ferreted out the very newsworthy information that one ESPN vice president is in a relationship with another ESPN vice president. Armed with this knowledge, we will defeat cancer and Marcelo Balboa. Daulerio's wandered around giving interview after interview in which he acknowledges he had a hissy fit, which he apparently thinks will earn him credit, before claiming that there was a noble purpose—exposing ESPN's inconsistent enforcement of sexual harassment rules—behind everything. The evidence marshaled for this consists of the following items:
- An ESPN radio host sexually harassed someone and was suspended for it.
- ESPN VP 1 is dating non-related ESPN VP 2.
Daulerio's attempts to explain his actions after the fact are feeble post-hoc justifications for a mean-spirited, purposeless expose on the private life of a non-public figure.
Etc.: I'm not sure why, but EDSBS has a photoshop of Gruden-as-M-coach on a post about Steve Kragthorpe. I noted that I didn't understand the blocking scheme on a particular run play that Penn State ran last week; Smart Football says it's a zone variant called the "pin and pull"
Right: on WTKA from 4-6. Which is now. TUNE IN RIGHT NOW FOR LINDA FROM GRAND BLANC YOU WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.