10/1/2011 – Michigan 58, Minnesota 0 – 5-0, 1-0 Big Ten
In the depths of Michigan's worst season ever (if you can't divide) or in a damn long time (if you can) they travelled to the Metrodome to take on the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Michigan was 2-7 and without the services of their starting quarterback. Minnesota was 7-2 and in possession of a functional offense. I was posting pictures of Death because Nick Sheridan was going to play the entire game. We were going to hit rock bottom when the Gophers picked up the jug they see once a decade, if that. "Henry Kissinger" was amongst the things projected to be more fun than the Jug game.
Because football is strange, Michigan waltzed into Minneapolis and annihilated the Gophers. The final score was 29-6; total yardage was 435-188. Nick Sheridan completed 60% of his passes and almost eclipsed 7 YPA. Justin Feagin averaged 7 yards a carry.
It was a crazy exception to the nigh-unrelenting misery of 2008. Yeah, they fluked their way into a win over Wisconsin despite getting outgained by 100 yards. Minnesota was different. If you had no knowledge of the context you would have thought it was a year like any other, a Michigan team like any other. Michigan did what they do to Minnesota: beat them without a second thought.
This week multiple newspaper folk took the time to tell people the Jug doesn't matter, but when that awful Michigan team locked arms and walked over to Jon Falk to lift up the only thing they'd held onto, it mattered. Paul Bunyan, the bowl streak, most people's sanity, all of the street cred, and huge chunks of the dignity were gone. The Jug remained.
Martin, Koger, Molk, and Van Bergen were freshmen on that team. Molk started. Koger, Van Bergen, and Martin played but didn't acquire stats. Recruited by Carr, they stuck it out under Rodriguez. Many of their teammates didn't.
As a reward the four above started down a path towards the least rewarding Michigan careers in decades, through little or no fault of their own. You can win Big Ten championships with those four guys as prominent starters. You have to have other people to play football around them, though, and maybe a coach or two who can tell the difference between a stuffed beaver and a 4-3 under. Michigan didn't.
In 2008 they had little on the field and even less off it. According to John Bacon's Three and Out, Lloyd Carr signed off on Justin Boren's transfer to Ohio State and upstanding citizen Jim Tressel. Morgan Trent half-assed his way through the season and tossed bombs at Rodriguez afterwards. Toney Clemons and Greg Mathews would act as sources for the Free Press jihad shortly after the season. Given the result of that investigation it's clear they did so entirely out of spite. Brandon Minor would rail on about how leadership was going to happen in 2009 as people whispered that he was a major source of its lack in 2008. There's probably never been a more dysfunctional Michigan team, and it started from the top.
Freshmen learn from seniors. This is the way of the world. Usually they learn how to be, how to maintain the standards of the program they walked into. The four guys above did it a different way: they learned what not to do. When it came time to meet for the first time in the Hoke era, they decided not to repeat the recent past. Mike Martin:
"‘What are we going to do as a team? Where are we now? We can either not be all in and do what we need to do, or we can work hard together and make sure we’re successful.’ ”
Hoke was also in the room. He remembered Robinson being upset at the media speculating his departure. He remembered fifth-year senior center David Molk getting up in that same meeting and telling everybody the team was going to stick together. …
“When (Robinson) came to us, he was addressing that we as a group — including him — need to make sure that none of the younger guys have doubtful thoughts or might want to stray away,” Martin said. “We didn't want there to be a repeat of last time there was a transfer of a coach.”
Meanwhile, Van Bergen called out the program alums who'd drifted away when times got tough. The message was clear: this is our program. We've been here for four years and gotten nothing but crap. We've paid more dues than anyone in the last 40 years of Michigan football, and now we'd like some payoff.
That payoff was going to be an Alamo Bowl at best. But the seniors' effort, Greg Mattison's expertise, Denard Robinson's existence, the Big Ten's complete horribleness, and Brady Hoke's rectal horseshoe now tempt hope.
Michigan State can't run or stay within three scores of Notre Dame. Nebraska can't throw or keep a good running offense under 30 points. Iowa can't beat Iowa State. It may be a division race on par with one of those years Wake Forest won the ACC, but by God there is a tinny flimsy division championship there to be acquired. Even if it wouldn't be much—in all likelihood it would be a historical footnote after a curbstomping at the hands of Wisconsin—it would at least somewhat fulfill a promise Bo made when he arrived in 1969.
No one's deserved it more than the four guys above. It's relatively easy to be a "Michigan Man" when it's handed down to you. Koger, Martin, Molk, and Van Bergen had to figure it out on their own. They stayed, and figured it out when available evidence suggested being a Michigan Man was endorsing transfers to Free Tattoo University, telling recruits to go to Michigan State, and selling out your own program to a couple of hacks.
A few years ago on the eve of the Ohio State game that ended to that miserable 2008 season I wrote a thing about being an anchorless mid-20s person who is uncertain of where to go or who to be and is sad as a result. In that piece I envisioned Michigan's coaches telling their charges how to get out of this hole:
Some of you will stay. And you will go insane. You will work, and you will work, and we will build something here from nothing. Because, make no mistake, this is nothing. You will build something out of this. If you're a senior next year and you teach some freshman something, you will build something. If you're a freshman and you refuse to quit on your stupid decision, you will build something.
What you build will be yours. Few in the great history of his university have had that opportunity. Everything came based on what came before. They were part of a great chain, now broken.
Those of you who stay will forge a new one, starting today. When we are done we will fix the last link to the broken chain, and break the first link, and tell those who come after us to live up to it.
Whether or not Michigan manages a championship, flimsy or real, Michigan's seniors have done this. This Is Michigan again because they stayed.
Non-Bullets Of Domination
Photogallery. Via the Ann Arbor Observer and Eric Upchurch:
The two QB formation thing. So that was something. That and the double pass touchdown reminded me of that Indiana game prior to Football Armageddon (IIRC) when Michigan dumped out a zillion trick plays to force the opponent to prepare for extra stuff. I didn't like it then and hope that's not the case now, not least because after the first play the thing seemed pretty effective. Gardner implied that was not the case:
“It’s really, really dangerous. We’ve also got Fitzgerald Toussaint back there and Vincent Smith," he said. "You’re going to have to wait and see. It’s going to be pretty dangerous.”
What to call it? Hoke refused to answer a direct question about what we should call it, so it's up to us. Vincent Smith suggests "two," which is a little bland. Ace got a "diamond of doom" suggestion on Twitter; while that's catchy it's also long and jinxtastic. Naturally, Ace wants to extend it to "Denard and Devin's Diamond of Doom" because it abbreviates to DDDD and if there's one thing Ace likes it's repetitive hexadecimal numbers.
But that's long and a bit awkward. Since it's a goofy, misdirection-heavy everyone's-a-QB thing that reminds people of the Mad Magicians I propose calling it "Fritz." It's not exactly what Crisler used to do…
…but what "Fritz" lacks in outright accuracy it makes up for in Getting-Itness.
[BONUS extreme history nerd BONUS: This has set frequent correspondent John Kryk alight with references to not Crisler but Notre Dame's Frank Leahy, who deployed a T formation with a close resemblance to Fritz.
Michigan sort of ran the above. Kryk actually has a diagram in which the T looks identical to Fritz:
I'm pretty sure we'll all way too abuzz about a formation we'll see maybe a half-dozen times the rest of the season, but old-timey football is always cool to see in the flesh. It's why Georgia Tech games remain an abiding fascination.]
Why does the outside pitch not bother me so much in that formation? When we run the I-form fake-dive-to-pitch it's just asking the opposition to key on the running back flying out to the corner because Michigan never runs the dive, and even if they did defenses are like "BFD." When we ran it from Fritz it played off the earlier speed option.
Is it a tenable package against real opposition? If the wildcat can work I don't see why this can't.
Triple option? May be on the way.
Records. Some happened. Smith's touchdown cycle had not been accomplished in the modern era:
It was the first time a player has ran, thrown and passed for a score in modern Michigan football history (post-World War II).
That seemed like a given. I'm waiting for MVictors to dig up the dude who managed it in 1923, because I know it's happened and I know he will.
via Eric Upchurch and the Ann Arbor Observer.
Our helmets have wings… and numbers! Let's avoid the inevitable Rodriguez tradition rehash. It's already been done. Personal opinion of them: whateva. On a scale from 10 to –10 where 10 is Denard, –10 is Pop Evil, and 0 is total indifference I'm a –0.1. I'd rather not have the uniforms futzed with but the numbers have some history to them, don't look terrible, and are a minor adjustment.
I think Hoke should say he'll yank 'em if they lose, though.
On-field takeaways. Minnesota is very not good—we were playing a pretend game where the Gophers got a touchdown every time they crossed midfield and a point every time they succesfully fielded a kickoff and they still lost by 30. So disclaimers apply.
That said: Denard throwing to his receivers—and getting the opportunity to hit some short, confidence-building throws—was encouraging, as was the almost total lack of I-form even deep into the third quarter. That seems like an abandonment. If they were still working on it they would have pulled it out just to practice it, no?
Short stuff. AnnArbor.com's Kyle Mienke notes that of Michigan's first 11 passes, eight were five yards or less. He categorizes that crazy seam to Hopkins as "another was over the top to a leaking fullback," which is a goofy thing to try to lump into easy passes for Denard confidence. That was pure DO.
Patrick Omameh. Some evidence he might be struggling in the new offense: he was left on the field much longer than any of the other starters save Schofield, who was forced into the starting lineup by the Barnum injury and was granted time at tackle late.
Possible liberation society addendum. I'm so over the rollouts. It seems like the only way to get Denard Robinson pressured is to roll him out into unblocked contain defenders, which Michigan does plenty. If you leave him in the pocket people are terrified to get out of their lanes and he usually has a lot of time. If you put him on the edge against defenses keying on him he doesn't get outside and he has to make rushed throws on the move that seem to be more inaccurate than his usual ones.
I guess the rollouts do open up the throwback stuff, which has been very successful. And they did insert a heavy dose of sprint draw (AKA That Goddamned Counter Draw), something I've been pleading for since Rodriguez's arrival. So they might be developing a package there. They've got to figure out how to block it.
FWIW, I wasn't a fan of showing the sprint draw against an incompetent opponent. I'd rather Michigan's future opponents not prepare for a potentially game-breaking play. But I've got no evidence behind that.
Field goals. We haz them?
Hoke for tomorrow is getting a little ahead of itself:
It is not hard to see the qualities of Bo in Brady Hoke. At first I cringed at his seeming overconfidence, at his seeming overuse of Bo-isms, and wondered if he was trying too hard to win Michigan fans' hearts with his bravado. I don't doubt the man any longer. Brady Hoke has a Bo-like level of expectations for those he leads. He has expectations of effort, execution, and yes "toughness" that no coach since Bo has required from both his players and his staff. Hoke isn't making Michigan great again by being an innovator on either side of the ball; he is acquiring the best available parts, constructing a beast-machine, and driving the thing to eventual domination.
These feelings must be fought until the Michigan State game. ST3 goes inside the box score:
This is the section where I discuss turnovers and other momentum changing plays. There was one burst of impetus in this game. Minnesota kicked off to start the game. That's it. They were never in it. I bet that "adjusted winning percentage" diary shows us pegged at 100% for the duration.
Lloyd Brady is unstoppable.
Media as in files. Melanie Maxwell's Ann Arbor.com gallery.
WHY DID YOU GIVE ME CANCER GOLDY
i… I was just trying to field a kickoff
I think he may have altered that shot but will check. Greg also has a bunch of jug pictures. Troy Woolfolk posted this on his twitter:
The explanation: "My girl is always experimenting on me." I have no idea? I have no idea.
And finally, eagle-eyed mgouser M Fanfare caught an epic double point from Hoke:
In other Brady Hoke Points At Stuff news, Brady Hoke points at stuff.
Media, as in unwashed internet rabble. I have no idea what "Everybody pants now" means, but if you watch Parks and Rec you probably do. Amongst Adam Jacobi's things he learned in the conference this week:
So while it's easy to just say "But 2010" whenever someone mentions the fact that Michigan is still undefeated, there's one difference that's crucial to point out: the defense is showing up too. Last season, Michigan gave up over 25 points per game in its first five games. This year? 10.2. Yes, it's relevant that 31 points came against Notre Dame in a game the Wolverines had zero business winning and 20 came against tomato cans like Eastern Michigan and Minnesota, but consider that Michigan also spanked Western Michigan 34-10, and that's a Broncos team that came up just shy in a 23-20 loss at Illinois and just took a 38-31 win at Connecticut. So yes, given the context we've got, Michigan is not just pulling a 2010.
Jacobi's still not banking on Michigan "surviving" our "brutal November," but if not surviving means not winning the division instead of collapsing to 7-5 I don't think Michigan fans are going to be too peeved.
Blake Countess is the next Leon Hall. Yep, I said it. Minnesota doesn't have the greatest talent in the world, but Countess has looked pretty darn good for two weeks in a row. Courtney Avery had a nice 83-yard fumble return for a touchdown, but Avery has been getting beaten more regularly than any of Michigan's other corners this year. He's still not bad, but it looks like Countess will grab a starting spot sooner rather than later.
The Hoover Street Rag notes it was appropriate that Michigan tried a transcontinental-type play on the same day they honored John Navarre, though in that case they were attempting a double pass, not a run. Was anyone else OUTRAGED that the Navarre highlight package didn't include the Buffalo Stampede? That's like having an Alan Branch highlight package without the Morelli elimination.
That was an old school Michigan blowout, like the ones you'd watch on ESPN Plus (memory lane, you are there now) back in the day, where nothing was ever in doubt and The Law was that Michigan would average a billion yards a carry under a grumpy Michigan sky. It's always the ideal of overindulgence, and if anything it's a reminder of how far we've come since 2008 when beating Minnesota on the road was considered an upset.
Media as in newspaper type things. Brian Bennett's take from the ESPN Big Ten blog:
f and when Minnesota can get back to being competitive in the Big Ten, the Gophers can use Saturday's game as a motivational tool.
Hopefully for them, they'll remember this as rock bottom. Because Michigan blew the doors off Jerry Kill's team in a 58-0 humiliation at the Big House. The Wolverines have dominated this Little Brown Jug series for the last 40 years, but Saturday's margin of victory was the largest in the long-running semi-rivalry. It was the fifth-largest win in Michigan history, and that's a lot of history there.
Are we seriously declaring a knee to end the game as a failed redzone opportunity, News?
For Michigan, this game was a chance to flex its muscles offensively and defensively, add a few wrinkles and give as many players as possible — in this case, 71 — an opportunity to play. Michigan was 8-of-9 in the red zone against the Gophers and is now 21-of-22 for the season (17 touchdowns and four field goals).
No, we are not.
Via the Daily, some facts that sum up last year's field goal kicking:
The three field goals were each career longs [for Gibbons] at the time, starting from 25 yards and going to 32 yards and to 38 yards. In five games this season he’s missed just one field goal — a 40-yard try against San Diego State.
Let's all not panic. Uni-watch reports that the piping is dead:
(As per usual, do not be alarmed at the white pants.) I was never a piping fan—too West Virginia—so its removal is welcome.
(HT: the board's JeepinBen.)
Quote of win. Patrick Omameh on Denard Robinson speech patterns:
“He just has to do everything fast, and I don’t know why,” Omameh said. “I think we’ve kind of adapted to his … I guess, uh … method of speaking. We say he be speaking Florida.”
Yes, I'm a sucker for ungrammatical uses of "be." Also I find it hard to believe why Omameh thinks Denard Robinson doesn't have to do everything fast. He completed a Rubik's Cube before it was invented. He can't eat eggs. When he gets in a Ferrari the car tries to shift him. He's too fast for eggs! What does that even mean HE'S TOO FAST TO FIND OUT
“It’s just real fast,” Omameh said. “Everything is just super sped up. I’m like, ‘You know, you can slow down a little bit if you want us to run the play right. But, you don’t have to.’"
Even better quote. Manny Diaz on BYU's fullbacks:
They've got fullbacks that want to block your soul.
That is all.
More McGary. Sam Webb's latest article in the News is on Mitch McGary with more from McGary's (and Glenn Robinson's) tough-talking AAU coach Wayne Brumm:
"The post player is intimately and intricately involved in John Beilein's system," Brumm explained. "I don't know anybody who runs a better offensive system for a post player than Michigan. So I have to say, why not (Michigan as a possible destination)? Everybody else is (analyzing McGary's recruitment) like they're a friggin fan. We're trying to pick a school that is in Mitch's best interest."
Brumm added: "John Beilein can flat-out coach. The people I talk to and the coaches I talk to, I'll flat-out tell you — they are scared of John Beilein. They are worried about the day he starts getting the talent that they've got (at their schools). He's been at a bunch of places that he couldn't recruit high-major talent. Now he's at Michigan and it looks like he is making some headway there. When he starts with an even slate in terms of talent, look out! Look what he did last year. Look what he did with Darius Morris, Timmy Hardaway, and look what he has done with Jordan Morgan. My goodness, isn't anybody paying attention?"
That sounds like a guy who would like McGary to hit up Ann Arbor. On this morning's WTKA recruiting roundup, Webb delivered the "gut feeling" on McGary's top three: Michigan, Maryland, and Florida. No disrespect to those programs but that's a lot less of a mountain to hurdle than UK, UNC, and Duke, the other schools he plans to visit. I'm kind of thinking this is going well. Listen to the roundup—Webb won't say it (specifically disclaims it, actually) but it sounds like he believes this is happening.
Brumm also literally states that Bacari Alexander "gets it." WOO!
Mattison on the trail. Wolverine Nation—how is that URL even available?—has launched. They've put Tom behind a paywall and don't have an RSS feed, but here's this excellent article from Mike Rothstein on Greg Mattison's recruiting style:
"He didn't realize at the time just how expensive they were," former Texas A&M defensive coordinator Bob Davie said. "The business manager brought him in and they could have bought a new car with how much he spent on that mobile phone. I'll never forget that.
"That's just how he does it. He's going to work harder than anybody."
Rothstein hits up Mattison's head coach from back in the day when he was a D-line coach at Northwestern and various players from his Notre Dame days.
The other guy. ND DC Bob Diaco on Denard:
"Unfortunately it just is what it is," defensive coordinator Bob Diaco said. "We need to be perfect, because any little crease and it's over, he's gone. It's not like, somebody hits a crease and he rattles for eight, 10 yards and you get him on the ground. This guy hits the crease and he can punch a hole in the top of the defense like that." …
"It's just a monumental task defending a runner at quarterback in particular, that it almost gives you the feeling like they're playing with 12," Diaco said. "It's a problem."
This game will not only be the first real opportunity to see what Borges does with Denard, it will be a major hype-check on Diaco. After his defense gave up 35 in a humiliating loss to Navy that had option-savvy Middies in disbelief that anyone could be so incompetent:
Navy wasn’t doing anything out of the ordinary. Kelly and Diaco just have absolutely no clue how the Navy offense works. …
If Diaco and Kelly hadn’t seen it before, then I have no idea what film they’ve been watching, or if they even watched any at all. That isn’t even hyperbole; they thought that Navy’s fullback ran through the A gap. And that was their plan– to send the inside linebackers crashing into the A gap that nobody was running through. That just made those LBs easier to block as either the fullback or quarterback ran right by them and into the secondary. …
What’s almost as incredible as this horrible game plan is the fact that despite Kelly’s assertion to the contrary, Notre Dame never adjusted. Those ILBs kept running into the A gap for the entire game. Once or twice Te’o scraped outside to make a play in the backfield, and I’d think,”OK, now we’ll see something else.” But we didn’t. Notre Dame would go right back to the same old thing on the next play, and the Mids would pick up a big gain.
Diaco appeared clueless in a media interview soon after. The next week his D gave up almost 400 yards and 28 points in a loss to Tulsa and people were screaming for his head. The next four games were all wins in which ND game up 17 or fewer points.
- Three points ceded to Utah, a mediocre offense.
- Three against Army, whatever.
- 16 against USC in a driving rainstorm slopfest in which the Trojans were helmed by Mitch Mustain.
- 17 against Miami in a game where Jacory Harris threw three picks on seven attempts and was yanked for Stephen Morris, who averaged 8.5 YPA but threw a pick of his own.
Last week USF only got 250 yards but BJ Daniels is horrible. Is the improvement real or a mirage? No idea.
I'm like what? Your game programs for ND are going to be electronical:
Each gameday program includes an audio file of "The Catch," Desmond Howard's famous touchdown against Notre Dame twenty years ago.
But it's not just the audio of the call, from the announcers that day — Frank Beckmann for the Michigan Sports Network and Brent Musburger for ABC — it also includes the play call from Michigan's head football coach at the time Gary Moeller and sound from Michigan quarterback Elvis Grbac in the huddle.
That's kind of cool. Fifteen bucks cool? I'll listen to yours.
BONUS: Darren Rovell suggests there is a person in this world whose "dream" was to "embed the audio file of a famous play into a gameday program." Reach for the stars.
Blog content. NKOTB From Hope There Is Glory is not a Notre Dame blog, but a Michigan blog sporting statistical breakdowns of the WMU game. Here's a section:
Passes attempted against
Passes completed against
Etc.: WMU stunt blitz picture pagin' from BWS. Vincent Smith picks it up. MVictors on Michigan's first night game. Jerry Palm projects us in the… Fiesta Bowl? Good lord. Very cool Mike Leach interview from a technically oriented football site. HT: Smart Football.
Sippin on Purple breaks down a That Goddamned Counter Draw the Wildcats ran against BC. Why don't we use this for good? Denard rollout will make this enormously successful.
The beard of the wolf. Troy Woolfolk is inspired by Lloyd Carr:
Yea, and in the year two thousand and eleven the Michigan Wolverines perceived the New Orleans Bowl and said amongst themselves "shall we not take for ourselves what Troy's punter has shown to be good?"
The mouth of the horse. Ohio State fans have suddenly found that it's not nice when your opposition says mean things about you and takes your recruits. Or they've learned to complain about the former instead of the latter no matter the facts on the ground, anyway. Kyle Kalis:
"…[Hoke] has never said anything even remotely close to (negative) about Ohio State.
“People think that he does all of this negative recruiting, but he does no such thing. Any time my dad brought up anything about Ohio State, coach would actually stop him and say ‘I’m not going to say anything about that situation. It’s unfortunate and I hope they can get over this hump.’ ”
Kalis has been manipulated. Keep that in mind. Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom!
It was tough to pass up Calvin peeing on John Hamm. Jerel Worthy is trolling us with his arm:
Or he's been trolled. Click for a bigger view of a Wolverine-type object wearing a Missouri helmet being stepped upon. QED: Jerel Worthy drives a truck with fake testicles.
I wonder how these percentages break down:
% of OSU themed tattoos that involve Michigan symbols being peed on/crushed/anally penetrated
% of MSU themed tattoos w/ same
% of ND themed tattoos w/ same
% of M themed tattoos w/ same broken out by rival.
Somebody should do a survey. I'm guessing ND is in last by a considerable margin and that 90% of all redneck-tastic Michigan tattoos focus on OSU.
Your lying eyes. I usually forward along all history-related questions to MVictors, as they are specialists. This edition of mailbag by proxy involves the colors on Michigan's uniform and is actually double-proxied since Greg pinged uniform maven Steve Sapardanis for a comprehensive answer:
Let’s get this out of the way first: never, ever, ever go by the color you see of pics online, in mags/programs or even in photos – see these Harbaugh photos as reference:
These two pics are from the same game, maybe even the same play, maybe even the same photographer (probably not), but notice the difference in colors.
Everything you wanted to know about Michigan's maize and more at the link.
Understatement. Rod Beard sat down with the entire basketball coaching staff for an extensive interview. Here's John Beilein doing his best George Clooney:
Q: I know you can't talk about specific recruits — even ones who have verbally committed — but how do you feel about your recruiting efforts this summer?
Beilein: I'll just say we're getting very positive feedback.
Indeed. I'm not sure just how up to date Beard is on Michigan's recent efforts, though:
Q: Is it a philosophical choice to go after unrated recruits and help make them a better players?
Beilein: As you're building a program, there's a plan that you gradually go in that direction, but you have to get solid first. In the recruiting wars, if you go after only the top-50 guys and you aren't successful, the No. 51-150 guys are long gone when you turn back. It's better to set your sights and then build a program so you get guys who have a high ceiling and in time will develop. Tim Hardaway Jr. is a great example of a guy who barely makes the top 100 — but now, he's one of the top 10 in the country out of that class. We're never going to say that we don't want to recruit a top-50 guy. If he fits what we're looking for, we'll recruit him.
The last unrated guy to commit to Michigan was Max Bielfeldt; right now the 2012 and 2013 classes are all four-star sorts. Hit the link for Bacari Alexander praising Beilein's "ability to be human." Good job, lizard coach from the fifth dimension!
BONUS BIT: Michigan may have offered another 2012 big. Marshall Wood is unrated but is attracting high-major interest. He can get up, yo:
Certainly looks like a Beilein big what with the driving to the bucket from the perimeter. Usually Michigan won't offer-offer until you get to campus-campus, which Wood hasn't yet. Michigan probably gave him the nudge-nudge wink-wink about it and they reported it as an offer, but Mitch McGary is supposedly planning another visit to Ann Arbor on or around Labor Day.
So: Michigan is definitely trying to fill their 2012 spot.
Movement. Sense? It seems this edition of the periodic NCAA let's-fix-everything tribunals may actually create a significant change in the organization, at least as it pertains to basketball recruiting. "Consensus was reached on some aspects of a new recruiting model," those being:
- A start date for official visits beginning after the men’s basketball championship in April of the junior year.
- Deregulating the type of communication between coaches and prospects (including text messaging and other forms of electronic communication).
- Allowing unlimited communication after Aug. 1 before the junior year in high school.
- Permitting evaluations at certified nonscholastic events on two weekends in April, with some restrictions.
- Permitting some contact at a prospect’s educational institution in conjunction with an evaluation, with some restrictions and requirements.
Somewhere, Kelvin Sampson is weeping into a Western omelet.
Both Eamonn Brennan and The Bylaw Blog rush to heap praise on this hypothetical model where coaches and recruits can approach each other like people instead of anonymous partners in a secretive arranged marriage. Brennan:
The NCAA might not be ready to let coaches talk to recruits year-round. Nor is it ready to totally reconsider its system. But it is beginning to make some serious progress, and that progress continued with the Leadership Council Friday. Incremental though it might be, at least it's a step in the right direction, right?
So for the Leadership Council’s top-to-bottom review of the men’s basketball recruiting model to wrap up within a year is a small victory for Division I’s governance structure. The results of that review are even more encouraging.
Infante also mentions a new provision for "on campus evaluations"—tryouts—as the most important change. Beneficiaries of this hypothetical new system:
The model, with the NABC’s limited tryout rule, would greatly favor coaching staffs who can make good evaluations during the spring and summer before a prospect’s junior year.
Sounds good if John Beilein's your coach, yes?
Meanwhile, 50 superfriends gather… The NCAA is also collecting its presidents together today and tomorrow to have one of those serious discussions that usually don't lead anywhere. Everyone Gregg Krupa tried to talk to said "NCAA? Never heard of it" except Mary Sue Coleman:
"This intertwining of intercollegiate athletics with universities in the United States is unique in the world, but we risk losing it if it is not done with transparency and integrity and if people believe it is not being done by the rules," said Coleman, who can not attend the retreat because of prior commitments. "I am very hopeful we'll stay on course with this, and the meeting in Indianapolis is an important part of that."
College football's scandal epidemic and rattling from the Big Ten and SEC about upping scholarship rewards, increasing academic standards, and maybe not booting kids to South Alabama after a season do provide a background in which Actual Reform is possible. The new, far less restrictive basketball recruiting model is an indication things might get done.
They'd be in these areas:
Establishing the success of athletes in the classroom as an expectation, rather than a goal. [Ed: A toothier APR?]
Protecting integrity by retaining amateurism, evaluating and improving the behavior of athletes and enhancing enforcement.
Strengthening the fiscal viability of sports by reducing disparities in revenues, spending and subsidies.
I'm not sure how the hell they propose to do anything about the third.
And now for no reason at all. Presenting Louisville's quarterbacks in their new uniforms:
At least Adidas didn't make us look like Taylor Twellman.
Etc.: This year's edition of "Les Miles doesn't count so good." Via Smart Football, treating your goal line package like special teams. The guy behind Mets Maize has figured out he never writes about the Mets. Up next: figuring out that white text on a dark background is so 1995. Houston Nutt's been busy with his copy of Word 97. HSR on the Stonum suspension. Pre-Snap Read previews Michigan.
That is MGoUser11's artist's impression of OSU "legacy*" jerseys and it is spectacular. Must be nice to have Halloween taken care of for the rest of your college career.
*[grumble grumble abuse of the language by marketers grumble.]
A momentous event. Ohio State's situation, already pushing known boundaries of realness, just broke through into uncharted territory with the return of Michigan ur-blogger iBlog for Cookies. Roused from a nearly two-year absence, Vijay lays out the case for trouble:
the OSU fan belief that the school's compliance department is top notch is non-starter at this point. We have found out that they weren't monitoring athlete's vehicles, that they never really investigated Terrelle Pryor's loaner cars, that they never looked into Aaron Kniffin's relationships with players, that they never acted on information about Dennis Talbott, et al. …
The second line of defense, that this is all about Jim Tressel and 5 players, is also a non-starter, as this now appears to involve the compliance office and at least one assistant coach (one of the people who was notified directly about NCAA violations involving Talbott in 2009).
A third line of defense, or deflection, is the belief of some Ohio State fans that no program could withstand the scrutiny they have been subjected to without such problems surfacing. But a widely believed to be extremely corrupt Southern Cal program was subjected to just such scrutiny, and 3 major violations were found (2 involving Reggie Bush, one involving basketball player OJ Mayo). Michigan faced a hostile local media that first spent months investigating the academics of our football program (and found no academic fraud, no eligibility problems and no NCAA violations), and then our practice habits. Combined with the scrutiny of the NCAA, they turned up evidence of practices that ran 15 minutes over and of Quality Control assistant coaches exceeding their allowed job descriptions.
No scandals. No players suspended. No coaches forced to resign. No covers of Sports Illustrated.
There is plenty more; IBFC's strength was always laying out the facts in pursuit of a conclusion inescapable by the end of the post.
yeah, this is happening for free
Oh and that Talbott thing. So when it came about that Pryor was playing golf with the memorabilia dude I was kind of like "bah, who cares," but out of that story comes this image:
As gifts go, walking into your young son's birthday party in Columbus, Ohio, with the star quarterback of the Ohio State football team and a linebacker is the stuff of dreams. Getting that quarterback, Terrelle Pryor, at the birthday party two years in a row with a teammate seems almost incomprehensible.
Yet there was Pryor in successive December parties with different teammates for Dennis J. Talbott's son -- sights that left even partygoers wondering about what they were seeing.
"We all thought it was crazy," said one 2010 partygoer who spoke to ESPN's "Outside the Lines" on the condition of anonymity. "It was a Saturday night, and I remember sitting there watching them watch the SEC championship game [on TV]."
Terrelle Pryor. At a kid's birthday party. With some guy who drives around in a car with a "TPRYOR" license plate. Eating cake. Playing pin the tail on the donkey. Signing stuff. Listening to the Wiggles.
That in and of itself is iron-clad proof Talbott (not either of those Talbotts) was paying Pryor. Terrelle Pryor does not go to children's birthday parties for free. If anything, the 40k cited by ESPN is low. Terrelle Pryor wearing a festive hat is only happening for low six digits. That's the price—children's birthday parties are awful.
The rest of that OTL story is the usual tale of a creepy middle-aged guy who couldn't stay enrolled at OSU with massive tax debt ingratiating himself with Ohio State football players thanks to nothing more than a sizeable quantity of derring-do (according to him) and fat stacks of cash (according to everyone else). This one has some added flair: Talbott once told the Plain Dealer he'd spent five years in the minors as pitching prospect, and a business rival actually fired this quote off:
"I have been waiting 20 years for somebody to get him," Godwin said of Talbott. "I am a born-again Christian and wish no ill will. I just want him to stop hurting people."
As IBFC alludes to above, the way it makes OSU's situation worse is it adds another data point to the pile of Buckeye compliance aintgiveadamn and implicates another OSU coach, the unnamed assistant who concerned golf club employees talked to about Pryor's free rounds. If you want the whole picture I'll again refer you to IBFC but it's even harder to see OSU not getting the hammer after the latest bit.
This isn't even hard for reporters. They are heading down to Columbus and people are falling out of helicopters screaming about NCAA violations. They must feel like a guy who sits down at a poker table with a 20 grand minimum buy-in and finds the rest of the table arguing about whether a flush beats a straight. When the Free Press launched the Jihad they had to resort to misrepresenting stuff freshmen said and anonymous quotes from people who had no idea what the rules were, and follow-up stories were nonexistent. This is a feeding frenzy.
[RANDOM AWESOME COMMENT ON PLAIN DEALER STORY:
blah, blah, blah. If the rules are so utterly ridiculous and are ignored by almost everyone, then when you investigate any successful organization you will find minor errors. YOu act like Tressel is the devil or something. He was not actively endorsing this type of activity but you want to feed him to the wolves just the same. How do you follow him around a golf course even if you do know who he is playing with is an evil type? He does have to coach all the other kids plus teach classes, run practices, and I am sure many other things. I am sure he would have been awake 24/7 he would have dealt with it. Just stop making a hard working, successful American out to be something that is not warranted.
Jersey take. I retweeted some guy who mentioned that Adidas's stripe fetish made it awfully convenient that Michigan deployed "legacy" jerseys that looked nothing like anything anyone has ever worn at M but did have stripes out the wazoo. (Also stripey: the Big Chill jersey, but at least that had a breathtakingly ugly historical precedent.) Another guy said "give it a rest," so maybe this is a played out topic. The other option is the guy doesn't know how twitter works—who's following who, buddy?
In any case, the HSR has a structurally ambivalent take. The thing that worries me:
Pro: It's just one game.
Con: Unless the jerseys sell like crazy, in which case it becomes another jersey next year, and so on and so forth. I wonder if in 2012, it will be a retro Schembechler era white jersey for the game at Notre Dame or the game against Alabama.
Pro: Wait, that would be cool.
Con: Yeah, that's the problem. You let your guard down on one thing, and the next thing you know, maize jerseys.
Why would this stop? Ohio State is doing this pro combat thing every year now, and always for the Michigan game. We've taken the first step down a slippery clownslope. "It's not that bad" is the first move towards Idiocracy Stadium.
If only people made rational decisions. The Bylaw Blog suggests the Big Ten get even more militantly anti-oversigning in their own conference so they can tell recruits they won't get cut:
This disconnect between theory and practice is better legislated at the conference level. Far from ensuring the SEC maintains a competitive advantage, it offers a chance for conferences to create their own competitive advantages. While some may call it negative recruiting, there’s nothing morally wrong or impermissible about informing prospects and their parents/guardians that one conference offers more protections to student-athletes than another.
If that idea gained traction, it could turn around the race to the bottom. Imagine if conferences got creative:
- A rule that allowed for an appeal to the conference office when a scholarship is cancelled or not renewed.
- A rule requiring conference schools to renew scholarships within the first week of school, almost creating two-year scholarships.
- A rule limiting the ability of conference schools to refuse permission to contact other schools under certain conditions
If every change is quickly reduced to a national rule, there is no way for conferences to differentiate themselves.
Well, for one, competitive advantage is just one part of why oversigning is annoying/outrageous. Turning the Big Ten into the land of the ironclad offer may help swing a recruit here and there but it doesn't do much to prevent "nefarious" things from happening. For two, for every hockey player who picks college there are four third-round-or-worse draft picks plying their trade in the OHL, unlikely to make the NHL or access the nebulous scholarship packages offered therein (approximately a quarter of OHL players actually use any portion of those packages). Kids and families striving for the brass ring often don't make contingency plans because It Can't Happen To Them. The impact of the policies above would be minimal on the recruiting trail.
Stonum. Stonum got sentenced for his second DUI. He's won:
- two years probation
- a one-year suspended sentence
- mandatory enrollment in a "strict sobriety program"
- a condescending but justified lecture from the judge
The suspended license violation he picked up is dropped if he completes the sobriety program, which includes daily breathalyzer tests. I'd guess that if Stonum doesn't follow every letter of the court decree (he spent three days in jail last summer for not doing so) he's gone; if he does manage to not slip up before fall the ball will be in Hoke's court. He and Michael Floyd can have a chagrin-off.
Etc.: UMHoops scouts Michigan's elite camp. Red at one of those alumni things. Brian Kelly can coach a bit. I have no idea if this SBB post means anything but it's long and may mean OSU is lying about something else, or just that Brooks is confused, or that Ohio State can't figure out what's going on in their own department. Via Eleven Warriors, yes that's a sweatervest on a crucifix. Way to go, cooler poopers.
Tomorrow at 8 PM Adidas and Michigan and Notre Dame will have an under-the-lights unveiling of the uniforms both will wear when the first night game in Michigan Stadium history goes down. That's odd: marketing 101 is "when you have bad news, release it on Friday at 5 PM." Michigan is treating their great unveiling like they're firing their coach for massive NCAA violations.
On the other hand, maybe it's not so odd. Yesterday the M-Den momentarily posted what looked like the official thing:
If that's what you're deploying, 8 PM isn't late enough. Broadcast the announcement from the Chinese factory where they'll be made at 4 AM Eastern.
The M-Den twitter feed later posted a three-part item expressing regret for the "mistake" that obviously failed to address whether or not those were the real McCoy. They likely are. Tom pointed out the close-up teaser image has the exact same M the mistakenly posted jersey does. If they're different, they're not much different.
Tomorrow we'll enter the ranks of schools that dress up like clowns for a little bit of money from a shoe company. Notre Dame will as well. I'll make some sarcastic comments, privately think anyone I see wearing one of the jerseys is a total sellout, and move on. This September we'll watch Clownz Faceoff 2011 and life will go on. It's not really a big deal. Everyone does it, and traditionalists sigh, and recruits say they're excited.
So why does this make me want to buy a shotgun, rocking chair, and lifetime supply of lawn fertilizer?
Well, there was a way to do this that would not give people hives. It did not require the assistance of a crack team of uniform designers, and it didn't have stripes conjured from one of their fever-dreams.
The numbers on the helmets (and the different wing pattern on them), block Ms on the socks and shoulders, and overall retro stylings of the mid-60s (like gray face-masks) would have provided a distinctive, historically accurate look. (Doctor Saturday pointed out that it would have been a look from an era when Michigan and Notre Dame were in one of their periodic snits, but whatever.)
It wouldn't have been much different. It would have been cool, though:
It would have been a genuine callback to another era of Michigan football. They could have brought out some former players, celebrated a Rose Bowl win, whatever. If they're going to do that in the Franken-uniforms they'll have to bring out a nighmarish assemblage of Horace Prettyman's arms and shoulders stapled to Bill Yearby's torso and head; the lower body will be a cyborg entity from 2211 that shoots postgame celebration laserz. The legs will stop at the knees because bony undead horror robots of 2211 come hovering or they don't come at all.
This bothers me because it makes it obvious that honoring the program's past doesn't crack the top several reasons they'll put the stripes on this fall, falling behind at least "money," "making Adidas happy," and "allowing Dave Brandon to 'create the future'." My money teat is easy to milk, but not that easy. I won't put on a Big Chill shirt with an Arby's logo on it and I'm not buying whatever that is above.
This makes me an old man but it also strikes me how stupid the corporate culture Dave Brandon comes from is. At a consumer-facing, mid-sized, publicly-traded corporation it's all about three months from now when you report your numbers and the stock price goes up or down and you're a hero or an idiot. Once companies go public they slowly lose the distinctive characteristics that made them successful in the first place and become a collection of generic suits*. The suits get paid exorbitant amounts of money to trade long-term goodwill for numbers that will allow another set of suits to increase the exorbitant amount of money they are getting paid.
The best example of how this doesn't have to happen is privately-owned Chik-Fil-A, which is still closed every Sunday for religious reasons and is so loved by Southerners that when the corporation bought the naming rights to the Peach Bowl it was generally regarded as an improvement. These are correlated factors.
These days a lot of tech companies are remaining private longer than they would have in the past—Facebook is the best example—in order to avoid the relentless make-your-numbers effect of being a public company. It seems like Michigan is announcing its IPO Friday night.
*[Once you get to the behemoth side of the scale you can maintain identity via monopoly: Google and Apple are distinctive entities that appear to have ethoses (ethii?) other than making money hand over fist; they can probably have these because they are making money hand over fist.]
(HT on the 60s uniform picks to "cutter," denizen of Michigan messageboards everywhere.)