this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
Goodbye Gateway. You probably have a vague familiarity with Gateway High School in Pennsylvania as that place that puts out a bunch of guys who Michigan recruits, occasionally secures, but more often go elsewhere in the Midwest, sometimes annoyingly. Justin King, one-time Michigan lock-type substance who ended up at Penn State, is the most frustrating loss in retrospect. While King's presence with PSU didn't help them win any games against Michigan…
…adding an All-Big Ten corner (even if a second team one) to the 2006 team had the potential to flip one or both of the OSU and USC games, in which you may remember Chris Graham and Morgan Trent getting torched repeatedly. In Graham's defense, he was a brick of muscle badly miscast as a nickel corner against OSU's passing spread that year, which is all the more reason King's presence could have been a game-hanging one.
You may also remember Gateway as the home of Shayne Hale and Cameron Saddler, two of the guys on the "Pittsburgh is basically Mississippi" list of players who inexplicably chose the local half-empty NFL stadium over, you know, Michigan. And others I suppose. I was pretty sure that Michigan had acquired at least a couple guys from that school (Marlin Jackson?) but Rivals shows none.
Anyway, this is an extremely long preamble to a surprising happening: due to severe budget cuts it looks like long-time Gateway coach Terry Smith may be forced out. The school district is dropping their athletic director position—also held by Smith—to part-time and the guy can get a regular gig somewhere else. Any impact this has on Michigan will be minimal since PA recruiting has been erratic at best since Teryl Austin departed, but apparently the mention of changes at Gateway are enough to prompt the fist-shaking realization of what could have been if Justin King had just gone where everyone expected him to. I still remember the post-it note I would scribble Michigan's hypothetical recruiting class on when in boring work meetings.
The comparison is inescapable. MGoFave-rave Brian Phillips spent the duration of Wimbledon at Wimbledon, returning with autism-spectrum-on-the-scene reports about a triumphant Roger Federer that frequently reference the capital-A "Apparatus" and find Phillips yelled at by a multicultural cornucopia of annoyed television people.
It's impossible to read them and not think about David Foster Wallace, and yet Phillips comes out looking pretty okay despite that inevitability. I enjoyed them… a lot. It turns out I like reading about tennis far more than I enjoy watching it. You might as well. Five parts!
- Part 1: finding a press pass and having a hallucinatory experience
- Part 2: Nadal loses to some guy!
- Part 3: People, toilets, things happening
- Part 4: Phillips's comically bloodshot eye, etc
- Part 5: Watching Murray lose to Federer in a room with a spasming Scottish lady
I love Grantland. Viva Bill Simmons.
But you're supposed to be an incorporeal floating voice. Fouad goes down the twitter rabbit hole and comes out with Carl Grapentine in the flesh:
He's got a radio show in Chicago and is not a ball of soothing energy, which is quite a surprise. Fouad finds this a little disturbing, and I'm with him. But I find this more disturbing:
I know there are some anti-Grapentine folks out there in the fan base
Who are these people? We must find them and give them, I don't know, Fort Wayne Mad Antz season tickets. Grapentine's voice is as integral to the Michigan Stadium experience as Bud Lynch's is at Joe Louis. He's the voice of the program. I find the idea people would dislike him—maybe prefer the FREEEEE PIZZZZAAA guy—alarming.
Good luck with that. If you're not a season ticket holder and you want to buy single-game tickets to the MSU game, you have to buy UMass plus two of Air Force, Illinois, Northwestern, and Iowa. Total charge for the four games is $380, $95 bucks a ticket… which seems about double what you could get from scalpers on gameday. I'm guessing they'll sell out since scalpers will try to make it work selling to people pathologically afraid of going to the stadium without a ticket in hand.
NCAA reviews coming out. Unlike myself, Ace is still a feverish devotee thanks to a band of friends who he plays with online. He'll have a review whenever he can pry himself away. While you're waiting, MJD says "just buy last year's," which he thought was a major leap forward in the series. Midnight Maize highlights the OCD approach—which was mine when I kept buying the thing—taken by the serious folks at Operation Sports. Some of these complaints are the same ones I had five years ago:
Apparently, Brent Venables taught the NCAA Football 13 team all about safety play because receivers run right past them into the open field. Vertical routes with fast receivers are nothing but money, it's horrendous. …
There aren't penalties in football except for the occasional holding and offsides!" - Anyone [whose] only experience with football was through NCAA Football 13. …
There are more plays than just screen plays and deep passes computer AI. Seriously. The A.I. Playcalling is absolutely atrocious from what I'm seeing in the early going. Or maybe it's just the AI's execution? Regardless, the AI seems way off this year when it comes to running an offense.
I'm glad I missed the era when four years into your dynasty nobody had a kicker who could hit an extra point.
On the Dantonio impression. Shane Morris deployed one:
What makes this funny to me is that this is clearly a conversation that actually happened almost word for word. Shane's clearly talking about Taybor Pepper, the longsnapper who was going to walk-on at Michigan before Dantonio tossed him a scholarship. Shane adds a "State" in there when he means just "Michigan," so it's a little confusing, but it's clear that at some camp Dantonio approached Shane Morris and had a little exchange about the importance of long-snapping.
Which is really important starting NOW. 2011: no one cares about long-snappers even a little. 2012: Auburn pays 180k for one.
The pointlessness of watch lists. It's watch list season, when every returning starter in America is named to their positionally-appropriate reminder that Award X exists. This will be the only time watch lists are mentioned on the blog, because this is how silly they are:
Brendan Gibbons converted 1-of-5 field-goal attempts as a freshman in 2010, which helped lead the Michigan football team to a last-place finish in placekicking -- nationally.
Two years later, he's one of 30 players to land on the watch list for the Lou Groza Award, which is presented annually to the nation's top kicker.
No offense to Keith Stone, but Gibbons's career long is 43 yards. Watch lists are inane.
Quality people. Kitchener has apparently filed a pointless lawsuit against the Daily because they said they offered Trouba money. Given the standards for libel prosecution on both sides of the border, the chances of success are 0% and the Rangers are threatening freedom of the press because they'd like to maintain the fiction that certain OHL players get dollars in excess of the $50-a-week stipend they haven't changed since the 80s.
Etc.: The free Blue Ribbon Big Ten preview this year is Michigan. The primary question it asks is "why would anyone pay for this"? Their prediction is… not made. Woo! Meanwhile, Phil Steele says M is one of 11 teams that fit the "national championship mold".
The Insight Bowl is now called the Valley of the Sun Bowl, not to be confused with that other Sun Bowl. It is now the only bowl game other than the Rose and Gator to have an actual non-sponsor name, which means it's probably not long for this world.
(Quick site note: Museday is moving back to Wednesdays. I know that makes a ridiculous name more ridiculous but "Musenesday" sounds like nasal congestion)
In the calm before the storm of spring football, the diarists and board took the week to honor the other pieces of M athletics.
The Wrestler. Now I know two things about wrestling: that horrible call a few months ago, and that winning TWO (!) national championships is like, well, winning two national championships. Michigan's 141-pound wrestler Kellen Russell has done this. He's the sixth wrestler to do so for Michigan. The rest: Norvard Nalen (1953-'54), Jarrett Hubbard (1973-'74), Mark Churella (three times! 1977-'79), and Ryan Bertin (2003 and '05).
The Hockey Players. This incomparable diary by stephenrjking is hands down one of the best and most well written articles I've ever read about Michigan sports. He takes us back to the 2002 NCAA Playoffs and I can't write a better introduction than this:
It was the weekend Jed Ortmeyer achieved greatness. It was the weekend a mascot was ejected. It was the weekend Ron Mason coached his last game, and Ryan Miller played his last game. It was the weekend the CCHA Humanitarian of the Year almost murdered a dog. It was the weekend Denver stole Michigan’s locker room. It was the weekend the NCAA reconsidered its regional hosting policy.
It was one of the greatest sports experiences of my life. And incredibly, it was ten years ago this Friday.
It was also the year of the Cold War, and when the university decided swearing at opposing players on their way to the penalty box wasn't very genteel. If the tourney weekend was the loudest Yost ever got, a few weeks earlier against Michigan State has got to be up there. SRJK won Diarist of the Week and got his points about 5 minutes after this was front-paged.
For the rest of you ice junkies, there's a Picture Pages from the BG game by CenterIce, including one where Brown shows us how a screen's set in Texas. Also if you give Michigan 5 minutes of powerplay the Wolverines actually may gain the zone and score.
The Basketball Players. Right before three and a half guys bolted from next year's team, AC1997 wrote a fantastic diary going over the 2012-'13 basketball roster and what he expects from the returners. It's still mostly useful if you can mentally replace Smot's minutes with what I'm guessing will be a rotation of Morgan and NBA heirs at the 4.
East Lansing is Burning. Of course. Of course.
Multiple reports of couch burnings, rowdy activity in E.L.
10:20 p.m. Police scanner traffic and eyewitness reports indicate that there are multiple reports of fires, fireworks and arrests in East Lansing. Staff reports indicate that there are fires in the the Cedar Village neighborhood, Harrison Road and Elm and Milford streets. Fireworks were reported near Abbot Road. Police officials reported that “there’s not a lot going on right now.”
10:30 p.m. Residents are gathering on Elm Street. Mechanical engineering senior John Lusczakoski said the East Lansing Fire Department is watering down couches on the street to prevent residents from burning them. “I saw a lot of broken alcohol bottles,” he said. “They were watering down couches so we could not burn them.”"
You were expecting general shrugging of shoulders, sanguinity, and hope for next season, son? Let me introduce you to your uncle. Image HT: Blue in South Bend.
The Tennis Players. Beat Michigan State 7-0. Evan King got to 6-0, 4-0 and a break point before dropping that point and the 6060.
The Softball Players. My mission to make everyone softball fans continues for realz starting this week. You know about the northern team problem by now: they play the first six weeks of the season in various southern tournaments. This time it meant having two games canceled for rain while Ann Arbor soaked in sun and 70. To stay warm, the team scheduled an impromptu match against Eastern Michigan (you can do that? You can do that!). As EMU warm-ups go, Michigan looked a little sloppy at first, then hit a grand slam and forced the Eagles to cry uncle in the fifth.
For those of you trying to wrack up Priority Points for better football seats this year (don't deny it – you're the same people with airline status in the lanthanides) the $70 for softball season tickets is by my calculations the cheapest way to jack up your number. They're cumulative too. Just sayin'. By the way, the most expensive way to earn Priority Points is to earn a 4-year degree from the University of Michigan.
The Big Ten season begins tomorrow as Michigan hosts Penn State. Forecast says rain for the doubleheader.
The Man Who Stares at Borges. You've met Heiko but have you really met Heiko? Six Zero's MGoProfile Series came back this week with one of the most interesting interviews, and interesting subjects, yet. Heiko answers questions about what it's like being a member of the Michigan media, from the press room experience and other members of the media, to asking Borges questions about the bubble screen and the underappreciated medical art of properly framing a question. See for yourself why we send a doctor instead of a journalist to press conferences.
The Men Who Embed Videos. Other than ruining the UFR backlog and other heinous crimes against fair use, T.E.M. has now killed off the great Brady Quinn for Heisman Video, but for now you can still have the other without the one. You can also have Denard's magical first snap at Michigan, Denard to Roundtree, Wangler to Carter, Grbac to Howard, Desmond Howard's return, Charles Woodson's return, and much more in a thread of all-time favorite Michigan videos. Watch them all before people I despise with the hatred of a thousand supernovae manage to register enough baseless complaints to trip YouTube's level of "it's not worth it."
Etc. ZooWolverine started a thread to discuss the outlook for Michigan maintaining the Winningest Program title (note: except for Yale and Notre Dame pre-2002 or whatever year that was when we took it for good nobody else really talks about this). MMB drum major tryouts has to be coming up real soon right?
Your Moment of Zen: