Jason Avant, you are Jason Avant. Be Jason Avant for us.
"I liked having him around." –everybody
Biannual obvious thing. PSDs go up 75-100 bucks for everyone, effectively raising ticket prices 10-15 bucks depending on the number of home games in any particular year.
At least as more and more of the ticket money gets shifted to annual donations not dependent on beating up small teams the financial window to bring in real opponents goes up. And Stubhub remains a ruthless final word as to pricing. I'm shining it as fast as I can over here, you guys.
Ominously included in the press release is something about Yost:
With the renovations to Yost Ice Arena, the athletic department has expanded offerings for fans interested in premium seats for ice hockey. In addition to the upper level club, the newest offerings are 14 Champions Boxes on the west side and Ice Level Seating in three of the four corners of the rink. There is no PSD for bleacher seating in Yost.
I have been able to walk in and get seats on the blue line twice in the past five years and Michigan has put their miserable early-season schedule up on deal sites the last two, so I don't think the threat is severe. But you never know.
Meanwhile. Attendance is down somewhat across college football, though the Big Ten remains largely immune. As always, announced numbers are thin fictions anyway. Here is a picture of the Orange Bowl as per contractual agreement.
Draft bits. Denard's stock will depend on how well he catches—surprise—and could be a second-rounder, while Lewan is in the same place he's been most of the year:
"It's Eric Fisher or Lewan to be the second tackle off the board," Kiper said. "In the Ohio State game, (Lewan) was beaten that one time, but overall he's been pretty solid this year, got better as the year went along."
Fisher goes to CMU, BTW. Michigan's other prospects are late-round sorts. I'd guess that Kenny Demens has the best shot.
Do it. Er, not that. The seven Big East basketball-only schools have finally had enough with the ever-shifting crap fountain that has been the Big East since expansion got underway seriously and are considering a splinter league with these folks and probably a few others:
The group of 7 schools includes: Marquette, St. John’s, Providence, Georgetown, Villanova, DePaul and Seton Hall. Those schools are concerned about the defection of the core of the Big East basketball conference–Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Louisville and Notre Dame as well as the expansion of the conference in football to 12 teams and the inclusion of schools such as Central Florida, Memphis, SMU, Houston and Temple in basketball.
Or, like, all of the others:
The Atlantic 10 has discussed the possibility of a 21-team basketball league in the event that the changing conference landscape makes high-profile Big East schools available, a source with direct knowledge of the situation told ESPN.com Tuesday.
I guess you could play a 20-game round robin and have a real league champion, but that's just weird. Not as weird as 14 team football conferences, but weird. If I was a Catholic School in this window I'd jump at the prospect of being the A-10 part two, adding Xavier and a couple others to form a solid, stable league instead of messing about with Tulane. The attraction of the Big East exited with the latest round of expansion. But money, etc.
Ratings. Here are all of the ratings for college football on networks. Michigan by weekend:
- Alabama: 4.8, #1 (#2: GT-VT on Monday, 2.8)
- Air Force: was a split with USC-Syracuse that averaged 3.3, also #1 but that's not quite fair.
- UMass: N/A
- Notre Dame: 4.0, #1 (#2: Clemson-FSU drew a 2.9 at the same time on ABC)
- Purdue: N/A
- Illinois: Michigan was in a 3-way window that averaged 3.1 on ABC and picked up 0.7 via reverse mirroring. So no idea. LSU-South Carolina did 3.7 and Stanford-ND 3.3.
- Michigan State: N/A
- Nebraska: 1.2, an ESPN2 way off ND-Oklahoma on ABC, a 5.2, and also off ESPN games MSU-Alabama (2.1) and OSU-PSU(2.3) despite the latter game being essentially a nonentity.
- Minnesota: N/A
- Northwestern: a 1.8 on ESPN in the noon window.
- Iowa: also a 1.8 on ESPN in the noon window.
- OSU: 5.8, noon ABC, #5 game of the year. Let's move it to October or make it a meaningless prelude to a rematch. Erosion, baby.
That Nebraska number is shockingly low. The Huskers drew a 2.8 for a game against Oklahoma, a 2.7 for their first game against Wisconsin, and a 3.1 against OSU. I guess ND-Oklahoma sucked everyone away.
Well yeah. GRIII has been playing at the four for Michigan, obviating preseason concerns about a potentially awkward fit between Michigan's personnel and the offense John Beilein has run in the past.
I don't think that preseason meme was a good one. Since arriving at Michigan, Beilein has ditched the 1-3-1 and an entire coaching staff and incorporated a ton of ball screens into an offense previously devoid of them. If it was a good idea, Beilein would probably do it. Playing two posts has not really been a good idea when you've got a 6'6" guy who can get up and shoot threes at the four, so he hasn't done it. Instead it's Izzo trying to shoehorn Nix and Payne into the same lineups before throwing in the towel on it.
Speaking of the 1-3-1. It doesn't really exist. Seth Davis is catching on you guys:
SI.com: Is it me, or are you not using the 1-3-1 zone as much as you used to?
JB: We've done it in spots, but we haven't done it at length for a while. We used it in the NCAA tournament and that was all people wanted to talk about. One of my assistants calls it Big Foot. Everybody talks about it, but nobody sees it anymore.
But conversation about it will not die thanks to quotes like this:
It's either you use it as a gimmick a couple times, or you either learn it," Beilein said. "We're not trying to be a gimmick team.
"We're trying to learn it."
Baumgardner highlights another portion of that presser in re: Caris LeVert:
"(When we saw that [a turnover] on film), we smiled," Beilein said. "It seems (LeVert's) his arms go forever. His quickness just adds to that. ... You remember in the past even when it was effective, mostly ineffective, Stu Douglass would be (out front) but he's not really long. Zack Novak would be out there.
"When Manny (Harris) played the one year he was more comfortable on the wing. (The front spot) is the most important position. We feel between Nik (Stauskas, at 6-foot-6) and Caris, those two guys are long enough and have the energy to do that."
They're not really there yet despite the success against Pitt—the 1-3-1 has resulted in a lot of open looks and dunks despite the addition of the proverbial length. It's been worth a spin to see; the answer is "not yet."
Andy Glockner sees warning signs in Michigan's defense to date:
Defensively, there's some room for concern, though. Michigan currently is living off a totally unsustainable combination of defensive rebounding rate (currently No. 4 in Division I at 77 percent) and not putting opponents on the line (No. 3 in free throw rate). Even with that combo, the Wolverines are "only" 25th in the country in overall adjusted defensive efficiency. In laymen's terms, that means they're not stopping people all that well on initial shot attempts.
Those numbers will come down a bit, sure, but Michigan outrebounded (in a tempo-free sense) OREB powerhouses Pitt (21st) and KState (5th) already this year. A decline to last year's poor conference DREB does not seem to be in the cards. I do agree that a defense without much shot blocking or forced turnovers has a ceiling on it that is considerably below Michigan's lights-out offense.
Batten down the hatches. Michigan gets to play the GLI without Trouba or Merrill. How do you feel about that, Red?
Losing Jacob Trouba for the GLI is a good problem to have says Michigan hockey coach Red Berenson
“We’ve taken a firm stance as a program that we support the World Juniors program,” Berenson said. “On the flipside, we miss them during the GLI. That’s a big hole on our team, but I’m not going to hold a kid back.”
Not the way the headline implied.
Etc.: Consensus: Taylor Lewan adds AP All-American status to those of Walter Camp, Athlon, ESPN, and CBS. Cincinnati's unsuccessful scramble to exit the Big East. Practices are intense man. Jay Bilas says Trey Burke is the top point guard in the country, does not mention anything about how Michigan should have kept Tommy Amaker. Volleyball makes the final four.
RIP Jim Mandich. Jim Mandich passed away last night. As with Vada Murray I don't have any of my own memories about Mandich, so I'll just offer condolences to all who do. MVictors republished a post containing a Sam and Ira interview of Mandich from a couple years ago.
An eagle-eyed poster on the board noted that TE Brandon Moore just tweeted he'll be switching from 88 to 89 this fall. While that's just because he's playing special teams with Roh, if they could get Mike Jones to switch away from 27 they might be able to do something with those jerseys this fall.
The resounding chorus. Everywhere you turn these days there's a guy flogging NBA draft analysis telling Darius Morris to GTFO of the draft. Mike Rothstein flags down anonymous scouts:
“If somebody is in good academic standing and still needs to improve his game, which I think he is in both of those categories, then it only makes sense to come out if you’re going to be in the first round.
“And I don’t think he would be.”
So does Luke Winn:
"I can't see him getting picked in the first round," one scout said. "He has a good feel, especially in transition, but there are still some issues with shooting [25.0 percent on threes] and athleticism that leave a lot to be desired."
And Chad Ford($):
Morris is on the first-round bubble. Most scouts believe he should return to Michigan for at least one more year.
Despite that, the vibe out there is Morris will enter the draft anyway, thus thoroughly depressing everyone. Ford does say he's "very much on the fence," for what it's worth. The deadline to withdraw is May 8th.
The definition of gamut. Ohio State fans have spent the last few days reacting to the widespread reaction to the NCAA's Notice of Allegations. Responses include:
- Hey, wait a minute, nothing happened and everyone still talking about how terrible we are. Yes. This is something to get used to. It's going to happen at least twice more before anything is resolved. To be fair to the general alarm sent up earlier this week, the NOA came out at the same time the Dispatch's news side got FOIAs back that revealed a more extensive correspondence about the Cicero emails—we did learn some new stuff, and it was not new stuff helpful to Tressel or OSU.
- Everyone does it. "In Big-Time College Football Nobody Is Innocent." This may be true. Michigan fans certainly said it during the Jihad, but in that case we had a lot of anonymous and non-anonymous coaches saying the same thing. Here not so much. Certainly there are degrees of innocence and Tressel appears to have lost all of them.
- NA NA NA NA NA CAN'T HEAR YOU. "Jim Tressel Is Safe and Bruce Feldman Is Wrong" about Jim Tressel not being safe.
- Heads should roll. "Jim Tressel should resign or be fired." Self explanatory. Author does not get crucified in the comments.
Meanwhile, an Eleven Warriors poll showed OSU fans split right down the middle:
One of those ESPN polls that people drag out when Idaho stands alone shows only Ohio believes Tressel should be retained but it's close: 60-40 in favor. This is kind of like when Michigan fans were 33% fire RR, 33% keep RR, 33% don't know. It's not a fun spot. This is fine by me—OSU fans have had vastly more than their fair share of fun since Tressel showed up.
The comfy chair. MVictors has his season ticket renewals in hand and relates you can now rent your seat cushion if you are fed up with the onerous task of carrying it into the stadium:
Just 32 dollars. Greg frets about what this will do the aesthetics of the empty stadium. I'm not sure it's a big deal but it will be awkward if people in the seats painted yellow hit these up. Maybe they have an inverted version for those?
I won't be partaking because the last three OSU games have featured our section not just standing but standing on the benches for the first quarter or so. That may be comfy but it's probably not great to stand on.
Further adventures in eking out marginal revenue. The Big Ten is considering changing their game times to noon, 3:30, and 7. If those seem like the current game times, they are, but that's like this "central" time zone thing:
If you're one of those Big Ten football fans who despised the frequent 11 a.m. starting times for games, take heart. They might be a thing of the past.
Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany reportedly is lobbying hard in negotiations with the television networks to do away with them. If Delany has his way, all Big Ten games next season will start at either noon, 3:30 p.m. or 7 p.m.
Big Ten noon games are now mostly in the hands of the BTN but it's hard to imagine ABC/ESPN moving their traditional 3:30 afternoon game to 4:30 just because some Iowans want to get drunk. Also this only furthers the conspiracy against fans who would like to see something, anything other than their game before the night games start. Also also that makes 4:30/7 games freakin' cold.
If the BTN wants to show games in the central time zone at 1 the only thing stopping them is their contract with ESPN, so fine. These days the average number of CST Big Ten 11 AM starts that show up anywhere else seems very small. I'm not sure why they have to mess with everyone else's start times to do that.
Etc.: Herbstreit bombs OSU. Spielman is less mean but clearly thinks this is srs. Herbstreit has been excommunicated. DocSat assesses the potential damage. PSU fans wonder how OSU evaded a "lack of institutional control" charge when one of the examples is "The institution fails to make clear that any individual involved in its intercollegiate athletics program has a duty to report any perceived violations of NCAA rules and can do so without fear of reprisals of any kind." Sports By Brooks rounds up additional funny stuff.
Hey, how about that labrum? File under "Lincoln hunts dinosaurs," probably, but yeah Tate Forcier's shoulder was a bit more exploded than anyone let on last year:
The shoulder injury Michigan quarterback Tate Forcier played through last season was a slightly torn right labrum, a person familiar with the injury said Friday.
Forcier was diagnosed with the injury when he underwent an MRI while home for Christmas break. He’s rehabbing the shoulder now and doesn’t need surgery, and he’s also recovering from a staph infection in his right knee, the person said.
Tate's older brother Jason said something to the effect of "Tate is hurt more than people let on," and this is evidently what he meant. Not that he knew that at the time. Tate did have good games against Purdue and Wisconsin late—even his Ohio State game was physically capable, if interception fraught—so it was probably healed up enough as November progressed.
Optimistic take: he should be better when healthy. Pessimistic take: what do you mean "when"?
Good decisions are for people taller than 5'6". Boubacar Cissoko got caught with pot and admitted to police he intended to sell the stuff. This closes the door on Cissoko's vaguely possible return to the team; Cass Tech coach Thomas Wilcher said said door is now "bolted on both sides."
Meanwhile… man, if you are going to make the life choice that finds you arrested for possession of marijuana you should probably make the life choice to tell the police it is for your personal consumption. Or better yet don't consent to a search of your car when it has pot in it. I don't get people sometimes.
Hopefully moot. So… yeah, Jim Harbaugh turned down overtures from the Raiders and Bills. Unless Mike Garrett is insane he also shot down USC before they went with Kiffin. (Other people Garrett called before placing his bets on Hello Kiffin: Chan Gailey, Shamwow Vince, myself, and the skeleton of a paleolithic deer.) Meanwhile around these parts, Rich Rodriguez is going to be under serious pressure to get to a bowl and have a winning record.
I have a Sporting Blog take on these developments, but in short: turning down the Raiders job merely means you have the will to live; turning down a functional, if somewhat moribund, Bills franchise kind of implies you're sticking around to see what opens up in the next couple years. If Rodriguez doesn't make it—which seems like a 50-50 proposition nowadays—there are going to be some hellacious internet fights about the forgivability of Harbaugh's shots at Michigan's academics.
We are very watched. The Big Ten's lasting television appeal—enough to have its own damn network—is something of a mystery. If the population drain in the Midwest is so severe and 94% (or whatever it actually is) of Alabamans identify themselves as foamingly rabid college football fans, how this?
Seriously: how this? I guess the SEC is hauled down by the fact that they managed to horn ten freakin' teams into bowls and they've got more lame games where Kentucky takes on East Albania State, but still. Also, DETROIT = RATINGS:
The most unusual rating may belong to the Little Caesars Bowl, previously known as the Motor City. Played the day after Christmas, Marshall-Ohio drew a 2.6. That beat four bowls featuring two BCS-conference teams: Independence (Georgia-Texas A&M), Music City (Kentucky-Clemson), [PizzaWebsite.com] (South Carolina-Connecticut) and Insight (Iowa State-Minnesota).
That's kind of what I'm saying, I guess: Kentucky Clemson and UConn-South Carolina should outdraw Marshall-Ohio. (Iowa State and Minnesota… not so much.)
Hockey recruiting news of a decidedly weird variety. So Michigan's got a boatload of kids coming in from the NTDP next year, except one of them isn't with the program any more and two are currently suspended. The suspended guys are Kevin Clare and John Merrill, both highly touted defensemen. The departure is Jacob Fallon, a forward, and it's unclear as to whether he's involved in the thing with the suspensions or not:
Jacob Fallon, a 5.10 forward who had committed to Michigan for next season has left the program. According to a USA Hockey official Fallon left the team and program voluntarily. I've read some scouting reports that have compared him to Patrick Kane, however most rankings I've seen have him as a mid 3rd rounder right now. Fallon, who hails from Texas, was listed by the Seattle Thunderbirds. Fallon was reportedly not suspended, but chose to leave the program after speaking with the coaching staff. I'm just guessing here but it sounds like this could be the Seattle Thunderbirds gain.
Ugh. Options here are either this guy is wrong and Fallon's departure from the program was less than voluntary—which was , in which case he's mixed up in seemingly serious team rules violations, or he's just taking off for the CHL. A later post says Seattle has been in contact with him but have not gotten a response.
Mike Spath of The Wolverine says that Michigan will not stop recruiting any of the kids; the issue for Fallon will be his patience. He can either sit out the rest of the season or play with Seattle right now.
In slightly more positive news, Mac Bennett is in the USHL All-Star game.
Etc.: Matt Hayes, yes, a man I once called "Horseface," has a sympathetic piece on Rodriguez with reference to stupid pills. Phil Brabbs talked with the football team a couple days ago. If you ever wanted an up-to-date breakdown of where NFL players come from, Drill provides a wall of text for you. This NSFW recounting of one guy's trip to the national championship-type game glories in paint and is awesome. MVictors interviews Sam Webb. UMHoops goes in depth on Zack Novak.
For all of you abroad or
just in need of Big Ten Network stream [UPDATE: service available outside US and Canada only], your dreams have been answered. The BigTen Network has announced the beginning of The Big Ten Ticket, a streaming video service of all BTN football and basketball games. From their press release:
Fans will be able to select from three service options: the "Single-Game Pass," the "School Pass," which covers every Big Ten Network football and men's basketball telecast for one school and the "Conference" pass, which covers every Big Ten Network football and men's basketball telecast for every Big Ten school during the 2009-10 season. Fans will be able to make their selections at www.BigTenTicket.com beginning in late August.
Pricing has yet to be announced, but I have to assume it will be comparable to CBSSports XXL, which is $15 a month and $120 per year. During the baseball season, the Atlantic Sun conference (ASun.tv) carried individual games for $6, monthly subscriptions for $10, and yearly subscriptions for $70. I imagine for a conference-wide package, you'll pay a little over this, as the Big Ten has a little more monetary value than the Atlantic Sun (that said, they show EVERY home game and not just the few that make it on BTN).
I have had it confirmed from the Network that the Big Ten Ticket will only cover those football and basketball games and nothing else. This means the women's basketball games streamed last year will most likely continue for free. The lack of other Olympic sports coverage is a big disappointment.
I assume this will work like an ESPN360, showing every game and allowing you to replay it later in a TIVO style. with the ability to skip most commercials. For those of you who watched any of the streamed games, the new system will also use the same computer detection software that became available at the end of last season:
The video player automatically detects the optimal settings that your computer will allow, and automatically adjusts for any change in capacity and connectivity. Simply use your computer as you need, and the player will do the rest.
The service will become available in the next few weeks on www.BigTenTicket.com, which currently takes you only BTN.com.