in town for free camps
special k make michigan stadium wicked sweet dawg
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.
Droid app. The MGoDroid app has been tested and has hit the store. That link probably isn't very useful but just search for "MGoDroid" on the app store and lo, it will be there.
PRESS CONFERENCE. Is this the first college football hype video to ever prominently feature a press conference?
I'm thinking yes.
Everybody get a face tattoo. So… Mike Tyson thinks he is you but wants to be Marques Slocum:
Other than his pigeons, he’s had pet tigers over the years. I ask Tyson if he were an animal, what animal would he be?
He looks up at the tinseled ceiling. He scratches his thick neck. “I’d like to be a lion, but I think I’m a wolverine,” he says.
Wolverines: “They’re like big giant rats. They’re about 50 pounds and fearless. They fight to the death. They don’t move fast. They walk slow because they’re not afraid of nothing. That’s how I think. And they can be a little reckless.” But also, he says, “I’d like to be a lion and have lion status: to make other people do my work and get the credit for it.”
This does not qualify as one of the top thousand crazy things Mike Tyson has said, but it does qualify in the top one of weird things he's said about your favorite school's mascot. Mike Tyson, man.
We were like whatever. Denard talking about staying, talking about what his teammates said, talking about oh come on—PREPARE THE FACEPALM:
"They took me in and said, 'Man, look, we're not trying to have the team break up like it did our freshman year,'" Robinson said. "They said, 'We kind of rebelled and it was like whatever.' My teammates, they're like brothers to me, and they were like, 'Stick around. We need you to stay.'"
I hope we learned our lesson about it was like whatever, because the lesson is then you get like whatevered by Toledo argh argh argh.
E-fact: Jerry Kill is a BHGP plant. E-fact for real:
In 28 years as a football coach, Minnesota's Jerry Kill has developed an extreme dislike for unforced errors…. So the first-year Gophers coach set the accountability theme quickly.
Some players have been forced to wear brown jerseys in spring practice with the words “Minnesota Lophers” on the front and “I let my teammates down” on the back.
If that doesn't work he's going to show them Courage Wolf.
This week in the near future of Michigan Stadium. Penn State blog LBU on the PSU facebook page soliciting suggestions for piped in-music:
How about letting the Blue Band play on a more regular basis? You know, because part of what makes a college football atmosphere better than the NFL is that live marching bands provide the soundtrack with their unique fight songs. Words cannot describe how frustrating it is to listen to other college football broadcasts, hear the band play consistently, and then listen to a PSU broadcast and constantly hear Blur's "Song 2" played after every defensive play and "Zombie Nation" after every touchdown while the Blue Band is virtually non-existent. Not that Guido D'Elia or anyone in the Beaver Stadium brass seems to give two shits, though.
This is the inevitable end state once piped in music is permitted. We have already heard "Let the Bodies hit the Floor" like Michigan Stadium is the site of a very special Smackdown taping; Special K will not stop until your spirit is dead. Constant vigilance is required.
This week in the semi-distant future of anywhere but Michigan Stadium. Not that I'm arguing David Brandon should schedule Miami (Not That Miami) instead of doing this…
"We've had some preliminary discussions with Stephen Ross about whether or not it would be possible to come down here [Miami's Generic Corporate Stadium] and play a game," Brandon told the Naples Daily News. "We don't have anything scheduled, but that's something we'd consider because this is an important recruiting area for us, as well."
…but it's frustrating we've devolved college football scheduling to the point that the only things that make sense for big nonconference games are neutral sites. I don't care who or what Michigan hypothetically plays in Florida, it would be a thousand times better to have a home-and-home. I mean, how much more awesome would this upcoming Alabama game be if it was a two-game campus series? Like 250%, easy. I'm insane but I'm not flying to Miami to watch Michigan play a nonconference game.
Orson tattoo suggestions. One: refugees need your help and if Michigan helps the most Orson will write things about how Michigan is awesome. Two: if everyone puts up 50k, Orson gets a tattoo. This should obviously be a portrait of Adrien Karsten doing a black-power salute, his defiant fist gripping a 1040. With like guns and bloody roses ringing it. Now that you've envisioned this you must make it happen.
Of course Manny Diaz likes advanced stats. Bruce Feldman has an Insider article on Manny Diaz($), the former Mississippi State DC who pwned Michigan and hopped to Texas this offseason. I've mentioned more than a few times that Diaz's D does very well in advanced stats, and Diaz himself knows this:
"It is really cool to see how many people who are a lot more intelligent than I am, and who obviously have a fair amount of spare time, are starting to take the game of football and try to really break it down and get under the hood in terms of their analysis," Diaz said. "You see this with college basketball, too. They're not settling for whatever they've been force-fed, either, through mainstream stats or through mainstream media analysis. They're looking to find the story behind the story, and there's really some quality stuff out there. When I have some time, I enjoy looking for this stuff. It's not always some 'A-ha!' like you're at the oracle moment, but it is interesting. There is a lot to this game, and I am constantly fascinated by it."
He pointed Feldman to a post on Bill Connolly's new SBN blog that ranks MSU's D 12th nationally—considerably better than they did in total yardage (49th). He also mentions that red zone percentage is a dumb stat, complains about sacks counting as rush yards, and references the Bulldogs' tremendous luck when it came to fumble recoveries last year. All these things are regular hobby-horses of the stat focused. He's an internet nerd.
There's a lot more that goes into Diaz's success, but I think he's the first coordinator at a major school to advocate advanced stats. College football isn't exactly basketball and their growing Kenpom obsession, but that's a start.
Currently, the NCAA bars companies from using an athlete’s name, image or likeness in advertisements, promotions or other ventures. That would change if the legislation gets passed.
The initial proposal, for instance, would allow game footage of current athletes to appear in TV ads, as long as the ads mention the name of the athlete’s institution. Companies could publicize sales events by saying athletes would be present to sign autographs.
In both cases, the sponsor would benefit from the athlete’s image or presence. The school would benefit with money from the sponsor. The athlete would remain unpaid.
Sam Keller and Ed O'Bannon are currently suing the NCAA for unpaid videogame representations of themselves; this would make the currently wink-wink nudge-nudge system explicit. That can't be legal, right? I mean, you can make guys sign whatever you want but at some point you can't just demand unpaid publicity rights get handed over. Do the guys on the NCAA cover even get paid? Why can they throw Tebow on the front of a box after he's out of eligibility? Amateurism make law explode.
Had some issues this morning; apologies for the late content.
Ambivalence at maximum. Michigan now has a Chief Marketing Officer, which is a development I meet with trepidation. On the one hand, maybe he'll think that Michigan's main asset is not being a pro sports team and he'll put a replica of Special K's head on a pike outside Michigan Stadium and we will never hear "Let The Bodies Hit The Floor" at a Michigan sporting event ever again. On the other hand, he used to work for the Knicks and might think the thing that's missing from Yost is Saliva.
I have to say the guy's quotes do not fill me with joy:
"Digital marketing is a huge emphasis in the social media world," he said. "How do you take that to the next level?"
WHAT DOES THAT MEAN I LIVE ON THE INTERNET AND THOSE ARE NOT WORDS OF SENSE
There's more like that. Hopefully the guy does more to fill Crisler than to explore "revenue opportunities."
As a side note: There's been some chatter on message boards from people who saw Brandon speak at one of those alumni things about Michigan charging for admission to the spring game and plastering ads all over Michigan Stadium for the event. We'll see if that actually comes to fruition or if it's just idle talk but it sounded convincing, and it was on the internet. So definitely true.
Impending largeness. Michigan's got five games left in the regular season, one against a Minnesota team that escaped Crisler with a narrow win earlier this season. There was a hockey game at the same time so I have no idea what transpired in that game but if it was anything like what happened against Iowa, it was large and lumbering:
That's the zone they played; 45, 50, and 32 are Colton Iverson, Ralph Sampson III, and Trevor Mbakwe, who are all at least 6'8". With 6'7" Rodney Williams getting a bunch of time and Al Nolen out for the rest of the regular season, Minnesota is just an enormous basketball team. They're 7th nationally in Kenpom's "effective height" metric. But wait, there's more: Michigan plays #1 Illinois next. Outside shooting is going to be important, as will the ball movement to exploit some plodders.
This film does not exist. The Fab Five beatiing Illinois in 1993:
The striking thing how Michigan just forces stuff up that goes down, but that might be an effect of Wolverine Historian clipping out possessions that don't end in scores. Also: remember when Chris Webber could jump?
They were totally voluntary, for real. Houston Nutt Roster Katana UPDATE:
Ole Miss releases scholarship numbers; Nutt says departures were voluntary
Houston Nutt Roster Katana UPDATE UPDATE [same article]:
[Nutt] encouraged me to try to talk to the players and ask them if he ran them off. I have tried, of course. Haynes wouldn’t comment when reached on Thursday. And attempts to contact the other players have been unsuccessful.
Houston Nutt Roster Katana UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE:
But soon after losing the competition for the starting job in late August, Bailey was approached by Nutt and (then-Arkansas special teams coach James) Shibest, who told the kicker he would have to pay his own way if he wanted to play football. As they explained at the time, they didn’t realize that Bailey’s partial academic grant would count toward the team’s 85-scholarship limit. …
Bailey and his family couldn’t afford the out-of-state tuition, room and board. His father, Gary, is a production technician at Metal Container Corp. who suffers from chronic rheumatoid arthritis. His mother is a wedding coordinator. So Bailey returned home before Arkansas’ 2006 opener and stayed there for several months. Here was the class valedictorian at Yukon Southwest Covenant, just hanging around doing nothing.
Etc.: Adorable child sings The Victors. I elaborated on the Fanhouse/Bleacher Report post for Dave Kindred, who published an article about sports media remaining relevant in the internet era. In a nutshell, I think guys like Luke Winn doing stuff so good ESPN steals it is the route forward for official journalists. Urban Meyer blasts NCAA corruption, provides no details. Darius Morris numbers: sexy.
Obvious. As part of his annual defense of the recruiting-industrial complex, Doctor Saturday has surveyed many things. Now he has struck upon the most over- and under-achieving teams as seen through the lens of recruiting classes. The overachieving list has a variety of causes:
- Oregon. Spread genius.
- Oregon State. JUCO/grayshirt addiction.
- Virginia Tech. FSU, Miami, UNC, and Clemson all recruit like demons and suck on the field. The methodology here prioritizes wins over teams with good classes no matter their results on the field. The ACC champion is set up to do well here.
- Iowa. Own Penn State, greatly benefit from Michigan's implosion.
- Stanford. Harbaugh. Sigh.
The underachieving list… well, you don't even have to look, really. Guess which big time rivalry finishes 1-2? You get zero opportunities. You got it anyway:
Hurray! In Michigan's case the underachieving is due to massive attrition, a change in program philosophy, the program delightfully eating itself alive, and the dumbest hiring decision in the history of the world. Notre Dame had a decided schematic advantage.
The rest of the lame are UCLA, Texas A&M, Miami, and FSU. Unsurprisingly four of these teams have changed coaches in the last two years. UCLA is going to have a hard time not firing Neuheisel next year, leaving A&M the only school that may be able to dig out under the current leadership.
Special K is a disease. He infects the world. I could help but think about Special K when I read about UConn's spelling cheer. It's the generic spelling cheer wherein you spell out the thing you like and repeat it three times. Example: "B-A-C-O-N bacon bacon bacon!" In this case it's U-C-O-N-N. It would be better if it was bacon, but it's UConn.
UConn's version is actually a cool tradition, however, because of this guy:
His name is Kenny, and the reason UConn has a cheer almost as good as B-A-C-O-N is because this lone nut created it via force of personality. People love this:
The reason Big Red's cheer has caught on and become a marker of UConn's success for the past 20 years is because, unlike so many things at UConn games, it is organic. There is no sponsor. It is not forced. It is not pre-packaged. No, instead it is a reflection of pure joy at the success of the young men who step out on the court wearing the jerseys that say "UConn." It is beautiful, and cheering along with Big Red is one of my favorite parts of being a UConn fan.
Unfortunately this year the cheer has been pirated by the PA guy and is deployed at times completely irrelevant to the game situation. It's basically WHO WANTS SOME FREE UCONN CHEER. In two years it will be WHO WANTS SOME FREE UCONN CHEER BROUGHT TO YOU BY CORPORATION. It is in this way that genuine things are co-opted and destroyed by marketers.
Also: bacon, bacon, bacon.
Filling in another hockey blank or two. Hockey gets a 2012(?) commit from Max Shuart, a nephew of former Wolverine captain Alex Roberts. Shuart's playing for major midget—unusual for a Michigan recruit at this stage in his career—and has filled in with the U17 team this year. He's got no points in three games with the U17s.
Michigan also just picked up an Alex Kile from Compuware for 2013. Kyle leads his team with 18-19-37 in 32 games, and is ninth in the league in scoring. He was a 14th round pick of London in the OHL draft—it's always hard to tell how much of that seeming lack of respect is talent and how much is signability.
MHN points out that Kile and Shuart were born only ten days apart, so Shuart may be ticketed for 2013 instead of 2012. That would make more sense since a guy who's doing well, but not amazingly, in midget doesn't seem like a guy who's going to make an impact in two years. I couldn't find anything on the internets indicating either guy was getting early hype, FWIW.
Random two year old sings fight song. Aww.
Is there a way to avoid this pun? Rumors of Soony Saad's departure for Europe are no longer rumors. Michigan's going to have to replace basically all of their scoring next year, which totally sucks because with Saad they were probably Big Ten favorites and in position to establish the sort of success that sustains itself over years. Now I'm not sure who the hell is going to be probably better than Robbie Findley.
Yes, dolla bill. The number for Michigan's guarantee game against Air Force: 1.1 million, which tops Ohio State's million-dollar payout to Navy by a few thousand dollars but not their $2 million guarantee to Colorado. It's a little scary that we just went back to a mid-90s Michigan DC and we're going up against the triple option, no?
Bug status. Items fixed:
- The iPhone app.
- IE bug where content would show up way down the screen. (Inline CSS wasn't getting used on pages other than the homepage, for some reason.)
- Up/down voting has returned. It's a bit different, as an update in the software brought a new widget that tracks up and down votes separately and more obviously. There's also a setting to "dim" comments that fail to meet a certain threshold; I picked –5. No idea what that will do yet. [It appears the answer is "nothing," but maybe it puts classes on these items that I'm not doing anything with yet.]
- Have restored image upload facilities for trusted users using WLW. There is new login information that can be found in the post that explains how to use WLW with MGoBlog.
List of known issues in approximate order of importance:
- IE 7 users (and I think just IE 7 users) are having issues seeing the box wherein comments are composed. Note: I don't even try to support IE 6, so if your company hasn't updated its browser in ten years I cannot help you.
- The message board is ugly and uses space inefficiently again (but at least there are permalinks).
- Voting is not applying points to user accounts.
- mgolicious is not automatically updating.
- Sidebar pagers are goofy.
- The message board homepage is also in an undesirable state.
If there's something else wrong email me about it, please.
Etc.: There was a very silly AnnArbor.com article that chalked up Forcier's departure to the "impossible expectations" placed on his shoulders, such as going to class and not taking incompletes. It cried out to be fisked; The Wolverine Blog has fisked it. Tom Harmon is the #5 Big Ten Icon, so 1-4 better have dominated jungles, too. Braves & Birds explores why commentary is so dumb. Wrestling takes out OSU and Indiana; I stumbled across the OSU dual on BTN and decided "what the hell" since Michigan was ahead. It was surprisingly entertaining.
Bust happening one. There was one piece of a news-type thing that transpired at last night's football bust. It was Dave Brandon saying this:
LIVONIA - When emcee Frank Beckmann made an off-hand quip about the Michigan football team headed west for its upcoming bowl game, athletic director Dave Brandon corrected him.
“I think we’re going in a different direction,” Brandon said Thursday at the podium during the team's annual football banquet at the Laurel Manor.
That direction would be south to Florida, whereupon Michigan would play an SEC team of some variety. An eagle-eyed reader with a strange method of surfing Michigan's ticket website stumbled across two "hidden" items and sent them along. They are tickets for the Insight and Gator bowls. If Michigan isn't going west and isn't preparing to sell Outback tickets, this means Michigan would play Florida in the Gator. The Gator Bowl has just publicly declared it doesn't give two dangs about anything but "heads in beds, fannies in seats and big TV ratings," so that sounds like they're going for Dread Ferrari sex appeal over the Americanzi*.
This avoids the ten-win-opponent gauntlet on either side and sets up a fascinating matchup between Florida's offense and Michigan's defense, except it probably won't be that fascinating because as soon as they step on the field against Michigan, Florida will look like MC 900 Foot Tebow is at the helm again. If form holds they'll still lose because Michigan puts up 40.
*(Note to self: try very hard not to misspell this by transposing the final A and N.)
Bust happening two. The other thing the newspapers are reporting today is an "emotional" or "emotional" Rich Rodriguez making a case for his job, which probably shouldn't affect anyone's decision but will make everyone feel worse if the plug gets pulled:
“My name is Rich Rodriguez,” he said. “I’m honored to be the football coach at Michigan. I hope you realize I want to be a Michigan man.”
Guh. That Michigan's head coach would have to say something like that in year three is a depressing summary of the state of things.
Apparently something by someone named Josh Groban was referenced, horrifying the Michigan twittersphere and thrilling those of rivals. I don't know who that is, and where I'd normally set about fixing my old-manness in this department it sounds like ignorance is bliss here. I will take the opportunity to remind you that Special K is the center of all evil in this universe and his power is only growing. INCREDIBLY DORKY AND OVERWROUGHT ANALOGY HO: Michigan Stadium feels like one of the Elven havens after the destruction of the one ring, its ancient power slowly leaching from it, permitting intruders like men and Saliva to breach its hallowed ground.
In other verklemptness. Denard accepting his MVP:
Lon Hordowel/Ann Arbor.com
Bust bit of information that is not really a happening but is interesting. Michigan's share of the pie for their game in Jerryworld is a whopping 4.7 million dollars. The News says this is "roughly" what Michigan gets for a home game, so Michigan gets to play a real opponent in one-off without sacrificing any dollars. Insert usual complaint about how the Big Ten's excessive revenue sharing encourages big games played thousands of miles from campus over home-and-home series that are more convenient and authentic than preseason bowl games in generic corporate stadia. I would much rather go to a game in Tuscaloosa than Dallas.
Football of the other variety. This weekend Michigan will attempt to do one better than its best-ever finish in soccer by beating #2 seed Maryland and advancing to the College Cup in Santa Barbara, whereupon their games will actually be on television. Getting past the Terps will be a tall order. They're 19-2-1, have won 15 straight, and are seeded higher than the Akron team that crushed Michigan 7-1 a month and a half ago.
There's no TV but I am pretty sure this will be a web stream of the game, which is Sunday at 1.
As a side note, I think it would help soccer's attendance considerably if they started having more consistent scheduling. Football's something you should probably avoid, but why not play on Sunday at a consistent time as often as possible? Michigan's home games were on Saturday(3), Wednesday(6), and Friday(2), with just one on Sunday. I get that you're going to have a lot of Wednesday night games because of scheduling issues but it seems like they should make an effort to get a consistent date and time going for weekend games.
It's all about the pants. ESPN Rise has a slightly hyperbolic profile of Carlton Brundidge, who "combines drive of a beast, dad's instilled military discipline." Biographical tidbit: Brundige's older sister was a Michigan swimmer named Clinique, which is a brand name for makeup and reminds me of Idiocracy.
But the real reason I'm bringing this to your attention is awesome pants:
We need warmups like that so hard.
Etc.: The Big Chill rink is extant and "perfect" according to Berenson. AA.com has a video interview. Tom Brady in ugg boots. Justice Hayes is staying local even if Rodriguez leaves because Fred Jackson is a permanent fixture. Mets Maize on Rodriguez the person.
11/6/2010 – Michigan 67, Illinois 65 (3OT) – 6-3, 2-3 Big Ten
At the risk of convincing everyone that the first impossibly apropos moppet was fiction, let me tell you about this impossibly apropos moppet a few rows in front of me.
He was about ten. He was wearing a number seven jersey and when he took his hat off for the national anthem his hair was staticky. Before the game he was hopping up in down in an attempt to burn off nervous energy, and when Michigan ran out to touch the banner his mind was blown. He exclaimed "this is so AWESOME" as only a ten-year-old boy can. The words forced themselves out in self defense—if they hadn't the pressure would have given him an aneurysm. I know what that excitement is like. I remember getting a Nintendo.
I can't imagine what his mind is like four fighter jets, three overtimes, 132 points, and one last-play win later. He's probably sitting at his desk right now, mouth slightly ajar and drooling, involuntarily twitching out the words "so" and "awesome" as the rest of the class learns to count to 15 in Spanish. Plans to put him on ritalin have been temporarily shelved. His father has been asked "what did you do to the boy?"
The father can only shrug and say "talk to Ron Zook, Rich Rodriguez, and Greg Robinson."
What can you say about a game like that? You can say it was entirely appropriate for Special K to play the Bed Intruder song. Yes. Michigan and Illinois just went Rasputin on that barn. They burned it, then they napalmed it, then they nuked it, then they shot up the radioactive wasteland for the hell of it, then they poisoned a flat expanse of glass with holes in it, then they dug it up and threw it into the river for it to drown. And then it was halftime.
While the kid was getting the football equivalent of heroin in his eyeballs it seemed like the rest of the stadium was strangely muted once it became clear that touchdowns were more like baskets than goals. Any individual event was far less important in a game that would last until mid-day Sunday.
I was with them. I still remember thinking "that's 30% of the points we need to win" after Michigan's first touchdown in the 2006 Ohio State game. I was raised on three yards and a cloud of dust, and while I could not be more grateful that Michigan's offense now has run plays beyond "zone left" and "zone right," this style of football is all frisson. It piles up and up and up. It's amazing, but when you're not ten your mind only has so much to give before it gets complacent. Things don't build up, they just happen. So when Roy Roundtree scores on the first play of the game you're happy but you're also wondering how they're going to blow it.
The answer was "in all ways possible with a special emphasis on running back wheel routes." But they kept setting things right until Jonas Mouton leapt over a cut block and Craig Roh stunted inside and Nathan Scheelhaase finally had nowhere to go but down. My reaction to this was very strange. After feeling dampened most of the day I cracked and hugged my fiancée—making her annual pilgrimage—long and hard and relieved. So relieved.
This team isn't good at all but I love it. If Craig Roh gets to class early he runs up and down steps in his spare time. Roy Roundtree does a Donald Duck impression and wakes up hungry. Tate Forcier's gone from sulking on the bench and "out" to leaping around like a madman after leading a comeback win over Illinois and coming somewhat close to the same against Iowa. And then there's Denard, and the most put-upon man on the planet, and I just want them to succeed because it will make them happy.
A lot of sports fandom does degenerate into rooting for you in that sad Nick Hornby way. While I'm not anywhere near sports Buddhism, more and more prominent among the millions of reasons I want Michigan to win is because of how it will validate all this crap they have to put up with.
Even if that goes with the territory at Michigan, what's gone on the last three years long ago crossed the line from disappointed and upset to nastily personal, on everyone's part.
Almost everyone, anyway. After the game we're walking up the bleachers and the kid's right in front of us, trying to show his father his hand. His father seems to acknowledge the hand, but not enough for the kid's taste. "I'm never washing this hand again," he says. "Denard gave me a high five." He wears an Adidas wristband like the players. He doesn't care about anything other than Michigan won and I touched Denard and this is awesome. I think about White Noise, a Don DeLillo book I don't actually like that much* about the paralyzing fear of death driving middle aged academics literally insane, and how the only moments of respite in the book are thanks to the presence of an infant named Wayne or Warren or something.
So Saturday was awesome, and this is my favorite bad team ever, and goddammit I'm going to their nondescript bowl.
*(The moment in American literature when ironically capitalizing marketing messages to assert that the background radiation of advertising has become our national discourse has mercifully passed—David Foster Wallace got away with it a few times but only just, and not always.)
Non-Bullets, Amazingly Long
Head injuries. Michigan's bombing Illinois with Denard and pulls him because of a headache and some concussion-like symptoms in a game that is almost make or break for Rich Rodriguez's career. And he could even see:
"Certainly for his safety, you're not going to put him back out there," Rodriguez said. "I'm not a doctor, so I can't tell you where he is, but he had a smile on his face and he was talking, but obviously, you're going to be precautionary.
"Anytime you get hit there and you've got some headaches, you're going to watch that."
Is there anyone who's been unfairly demonized more than him? "Win at all costs." Right.
(HT: the Wolverine Blog.)
Skill position contributions. My takeaway from the offense other than "duuurrrr" was that's what it looks like when the skill position players are adding yards of their own. Vincent Smith made a lot of great glide cuts on the zone stretch, spun through a couple tackles, and had his best day as a runner at Michigan. Junior Hemingway's sideline rain dance created another touchdown from 15-20 yards, and Roy Roundtree was finding epic YAC. That's something we've been missing most of the year save for Stonum's screen touchdown against UMass, which is UMass and was not the #15 defense in the country entering the game.
Stretching it. Speaking of the stretch: it came back. Michigan had gone almost exclusively to an inside run game earlier in the year, and that worked well enough, but I think part of the issue with getting Denard some zone keepers has been that move away. The stretch makes it tough on the backside defensive end because if he's going to tackle the tailback on a cutback he has to flow down the line hard. On all the inside zone stuff Michigan's been running he can hang out and do whatever and still have a decent chance of making a play. That's why Michigan has been blocking the backside guy all year and probably why I'm always a little frustrated by Denard never keeping the ball.
They brought it back for Illinois and I'm pretty sure what I'll see in the UFR is an ass-kicking day from David Molk. On Michigan's last touchdown they went to the stretch on second and goal from the five. Corey Liuget, who is an all-conference type of player, shot into the backfield; Molk walled him off and eventually sent him to the ground. There wasn't a hint of a hold on the play, but a frustrated Liuget did the flag motion thing to the referee and just stood there exasperated as Michigan celebrated a touchdown that came on a gaping hole from the five because Liuget had just gotten owned.
The stretch also seemed to revitalize Vincent Smith, who had the opportunity to make darting cuts past traffic and find the creases as they developed. I'll be interested to see how it holds up on film.
End of half game theory stuff. Reverse on the kickoff was a beautiful playcall because in that situation if you get hammered for a loss you can probably just run the clock out. A perfect time for that call and one that got Michigan in scoring position with a minute on the clock. That's a win.
In retrospect, the decision to kick was not so much. I didn't think about this at the time so I'm not blaming anyone else for not thinking about it either, but with Michigan's defense and 42 seconds (IIRC) on the clock the argument for going for it is a lot stronger than it would be with 12, because if you get it you're robbing Illinois of the opportunity to get that last possession in. Even if you don't get it, most coaches will just head to the locker room if they get the ball on their own 15.
Defensive moves. While the defense remained horrendous, it wasn't nearly as horrendous as it was against Penn State (and Matt McGloin did just bomb Northwestern for 35 points despite Robert Bolden playing the first two series, so that performance was only 90% completely awful). PSU had 41 points on nine real drives; Illinois had 45 in regulation on 16, many of which started in advantageous field position after Michigan turnovers and one Hagerup punt from his endzone.
Moving Craig Roh back to defensive end seemed to pay immediate dues, but Michigan kept flipping between three and four man lines with the fourth guy on the line either Obi Ezeh or JB Fitzgerald. Illinois ran right at that and had good success—that was the setup on the first and twenty option that went the distance, though I'm pretty sure the culpable party there was Mouton. Anyway, Cam Gordon looked a lot better in his second game at spur and you can tell the difference in tackling technique between him and Ray Vinopal—Vinopal uses his arms. Sweet.
Gordon looks like a much better fit as his current position. He was surprisingly adept at blitzing—he'd get the edge on the Illinios tackle and come around to flush Scheelhaase a few times.
Demens, yo. Another thing that will have to wait for the tape but: I'm pretty sure Kenny Demens had a great game unless he blew a lot of coverage (which is possible). The number of runs that were heading outside the tackles for what looked like big gains until they were suddenly cut down by Demens after he cut through a block seemed like it was around a half dozen.
Not a controversy but not a clear cut thing either. I was thinking this myself but Adam Jacobi already wrote it and blockquoting is easy:
Forcier is clearly not Denard, but the fact remains that Forcier is good enough that he should be spelling Robinson periodically throughout Michigan's game regardless of Robinson's health. Michigan has two starting-quality quarterbacks, and as Robinson's accumulation of minor injuries demonstrates, they clearly need to use them! It's just up to Rich Rodriguez to use both on his own terms, rather than waiting for Robinson to get knocked out of the game first.
The frequency of Denard Robinson dings has seen Forcier enter most games this year, with extended relief appearances in the fourth quarter of the Iowa and Illinois games. When Forcier comes in Michigan generally punts quickly (or Forcier yakety saxes an unforced fumble). Forcier gets his feet under him a bit later and things are fine. It may be time to put Forcier in on the regular, say two or three drives a game. This would reduce wear on Robinson, have Forcier ready to play each week, throw defenses a curveball, and lessen the chances a desperately-needed Forcier lights out for somewhere else after the season. The offense doesn't seem quite as good when Tate's in there but the difference isn't vast and the benefits are tangible.
Special K, I hate you. The level of odiousness from Special K was exceeded by a factor of 100 on Saturday when he played "Let the Bodies Hit the Floor" and "Down with the Sickness." We've gone from minor league hockey to WWE. Thanks, Special K. This is the no-BS one thing that makes me think the Brandon era will be something other than a success: he hasn't taken this guy and put him in stocks on the diag.
Some photos from an Illinois guy. AnnArbor.com has an extensive collection as well.. Purdue blogger guarantees victory over Michigan. The Hoover Street Rag riffs on A Better Son/Daughter. Doc Sat's take:
If for some reason you were kidnapped by maniac who forced you at gunpoint to make sense of Michigan's roller-coaster season in 12 words or less, you'd probably settle for something like this: The offense is unstoppable. The defense is horrible. Denard Robinson got hurt.
If you hadn't seen a single one of the Wolverines' first eight games, that would pretty much bring you up to speed coming into today, except for one minor detail: Against a string of respectable competition over the last month, you could also add "Wolverines lose."
And a random video of the Michigan drumline:
There's another one on the tubes as well.
An finally, Maize n Brew headline:
Hallelujah!!!! Holy S@#%