national champs baby
We haven't had a good uniform PANIC for a while, so… yeah… here's… this:
That, according to your favorite newspaper, resembles the "throwback" uniforms Michigan will don this fall. You'll note a few things:
your eyeballs are melting out of your sockets
…unless they were day-glo orange or something. I think MVictors would have notified us if this was the case by now.
there is a distinct resemblance between these monstrosities and the Big Chill stripey-bucktooth-weasel thing…
…in that both were obviously designed by Joad Cressbeckler. Doctor Saturday pointed me to this image of Michigan's uniforms down the years in which the only vague resemblance between the above and something from history is Michigan's 1891 uniforms.
we must have no taste if the Big Chill jerseys sold well enough for this to seem like a good idea.
Let's hope this a practical joke played on the Free Press as revenge, I guess. Get off my lawn.
Probably not this throwback
Three days later we can say this is probably not an April Fools joke. If you're like me you thought the announcement Michigan and Notre Dame would wear throwback uniforms for their upcoming night game (with lasers!) was a cleverly plausible April Fools joke. It is not so:
"We're going to have throwback uniforms. As they will," Kelly told the Tribune. "I can tell you what theirs look like -- They have a block 'M' on them, and a number, and a number on their helmet. How's that? The adidas [Ed:* (this means footnote)] people at Michigan are going to be (ticked) at me."
Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon told The Detroit News on Friday that while Michigan is working on a special uniform project for the night game with Adidas and is excited about it, nothing has yet been determined.
If I was the AD I'd tell people Michigan was going to come out in throwbacks, then make a derisive wanking motion in their direction when Michigan hit the field in the same classic uniforms they've been wearing since time began. This is one of infinite reasons why I'm not the AD.
The immediate worry is that Michigan's "throwbacks" will be throwbacks in the Ohio State sense—"this stupid-looking stormtrooper outfit has nothing at all to do with whatever we claim it does"—instead of the Lions sense—"they should wear these all the time." If we were still with Nike this would not even be a question. Our throwbacks would come with futuristic lizard scales—mascot appropriate!—and they'd make the wings on the helmet wings of flame because that's rad. Adidas might actually produce a throwback that looks reasonably like what players wore in the long long ago.
As you might expect, MVictors has a list of changes since Bo's arrival. If there's a number on the helmet we're going back to at least 1968—and who wouldn't want to commemorate 1968? BONUS: Doctor Saturday pointed out on twitter that Michigan and Notre Dame were in one of their periodic snits during the 60s and never played.
*[Back in the day when I was editing everyone's Every Three Weekly stories I bought a few usage/copyediting books. My favorite was Lapsing Into A Comma, the one written by a longtime Washington Post grammar curmudgeon. One of the things that stuck is that you are not obligated to comply with the marketing department's wishes when you are trying to write understandable English sentences. Yahoo does not have an exclamation point because that's punctuation in the middle of a fricking sentence(!). E-Trade is not E*Trade because we are not multiplying trade by 2.71 etc etc etc. Adidas is Adidas, not adidas, because it is a proper noun. Do not let marketers define the acceptable limits of language because obviously.]
Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia’s new offensive coordinator and head coach in waiting, has frequently said that his entire record breaking offense can be installed “in three days.” And, now that his three days of spring practice are up, he said on day four his team will simply “start over,” and will run through this install period three or four times during the spring. Wait, what? Hasn’t Holgorsen been a part of record breaking offenses for more than a decade, including the last three (at Houston and then Oklahoma State) as head orchestrator? Doesn’t saying you can install your entire top tier Division-I men’s college football offense in three lousy days seem a little bit like, I don’t know, bullshit?
Yeah, kind of, but Chris Brown (not that Chris Brown (or that other Chris Brown inexplicably wearing a Jalen jersey)) goes on to explain that if you were going to boil down Holgorsen's philosophy in one word it would be "specialization." No one plays, or even thinks of playing, multiple positions in his offense. Receivers are X or Y or Z from the day they show up until the day they leave.
This may go against "getting the ball to your playmakers," but Holgorsen argues the ball will find them anyway. Brown:
The idea is a simple one: with limited practice time and, to be honest, limited skills, kids need to focus on a few things and to get better at them — the jack of all trades is incredibly overrated. While Urban Meyer’s Florida offense thrived for a time with Tebow and his omnipositional teammate, Percy Harvin, I’d argue that this reliance on a “Percy Position” — a guy that can play most every skill position on offense — eventually does more harm than good. I’m all for getting the ball to playmakers in different ways, but I am not — and neither is Holgorsen — a fan of doing it to the detriment of repetitions and becoming a master at your given position.
Michigan did this pretty well on offense, something best exemplified by Roy Roundtree becoming the second-leading receiver in the league as a slot receiver without a ton of wiggle. Michigan also avoided the widespread position-flopping on the offensive line that was characteristic of the late Carr era when someone went down injured.
They were beyond horrible at this on defense. A quick list of players who switched positions just last year: Cam Gordon, Thomas Gordon, Marvin Robinson, Craig Roh, Renaldo Sagesse, Adam Patterson, Ryan Van Bergen, JB Fitzgerald, Jordan Kovacs, and in one sense or another every damn player. Michigan moved from a fairly straight 4-3 under with an "okie" blitz package to a 3-3-5 to a 4-2-5 nickel back to a fairly straight 4-3 under to a 3-3-5 again, except they ran everything too and went from primarily 4-3/3-4 against MSU and Iowa to a straight 3-3-5 against PSU. It was a complete disaster that eventually undermined even what looked like an offense ready to put the throttle all the way down and probably justified Rodriguez's quick firing.
Random mental exercise: boil down other coaches' philosophy into single word.
- Lloyd Carr, Jim Tressel, Mark Dantonio: execute
- Rich Rodriguez: numbers
- Chip Kelly: pace
- Gus Mahlzahn: bewilder
- Bret Bielema: hampeople
- Danny Hope: whimper
- Pat Fitzgerald: MacGuyver
- Jerry Kill: kill (this should be Jerry Kill's philosophy in all things)
- Mike DeBord: waste
Restate position on trash talk. Good. Draymond Green:
And then to lose twice, it still bothers me. Because it’s Michigan and I hate, just, it makes them feel like they’re better than us. After them not winning at the Breslin for like 13 years, however long it was. And now they feel like this is their state. And this is Michigan State’s state. We own this state, it’s our state. And it gives them the hope and a crazy reason to think this is their state. And I completely disagree with that 100 percent.
A BRIEF LIST OF REASONS MICHIGAN'S BASKETBALL TEAM BELIEVES THEY ARE BETTER THAN MICHIGAN STATE'S BASKETBALL TEAM:
- Beat Michigan State 61-57 at Breslin
- Beat Michigan State 70-63 at Crisler
- Finished with better overall record
- Finished with better KenPom ranking
- Advanced to second round of NCAA tournament
- Came up three points short of Sweet 16 bid
- Did not start elf who bakes cookies
- Is better than Michigan State's basketball team
These reasons probably do not qualify as crazy, especially when there are zero seniors departing. (Via UMHoops)
Rankings that may or may not mean anything. Scout is the first off the mark with a top 100—actually, a top 300. Blue In Cleveland compiled players of interest. I'll whittle his whittling down to guys Michigan seems to be in the top three for:
Stefon Diggs is listed as #2 at SAFETY!, 5*,- 16th overall
Zeke Pike #3 QB, 5*, 25th overall
Jordan Diamond #9 OT, 4*, 40th overall
Sheldon Day #9 DT, 4*, 64th overall
James Ross #2 MLB, 4*, 72nd overall
Royce Jenkins-Stone #7 OLB, 4*, 105th overall
Chris Wormley #13 DE, 4*, 112th overall
Danny O'Brien #14 DT, 4*, 131st overall
Ron Thompson #5 TE, 4*, 137th overall
Terry Richardson #8 CB, 4*, 139th overall
Kaleb Ringer #8 MLB, 4*, 206th overall
The two OL commits picked up three-star rankings, which whatever. They're OL. Even final rankings for them are wobbly; these are hardly extant. Matt Godin landed just outside the top 300, FWIW.
As I said when Hoke was hired, he's got a combination of a great in-state class, several out-of-state guys who were Michigan leans from birth (Diamond, Wormley, Day), and a strong Ohio class in a year where OSU is light on scholarships. That was before all this Tressel whatnot went down. Hop out to a good start and hold on to it and he could bring in a much-needed shot in the arm.
It just keeps going until the day it stops. More Ohio State WTF:
Ohio State officials were aware Jim Tressel had forwarded sensitive emails to quarterback Terrelle Pryor's mentor in Jeanette, Pa. during an initial March 8 press conference ….
During that original press conference, Tressel was asked by Yahoo! Sports' Dan Wetzel specifically if the coach had forwarded the emails to anyone else. Tressel seemed to answer yes but he was interrupted by AD Gene Smith who said that information was part of the investigation. It is not clear how far back that Ohio State officials knew about the additional concealment of the Sarniak information.
Smug popcorn consumption image macro goes here.
Etc.: Also in that UMHoops post: Glenn Robinson III picks up a couple positive reviews in early AAU action and Michigan is still getting mentioned for 6'6" German PG(!) Patrick Heckmann. Now we get to speculate about Max Bielfeldt's loaded family paying his way instead of Illinois fans. More realistically, he would be an option if Darius Morris enters the draft. MGoBlue practice videos up the music drama. Zoltan's working at a private equity firm during this whole lockout business. Hockey commits Tyler Motte and Evan Allen score all three goals in a Honeybaked win over Shattuck for a U16 national tourney title. Charlie Sheen's Detroit appearance… not so good.
This is real? Um, so, this is apparently what Michigan is wearing for the Big Chill:
That is hideous. It's going to be the worst thing I ever see a Michigan team wear live. That's not a Wolverine. It's a ferret or something, and the day-glo yellow is something Oregon would be comfortable with, and I can see the 1980s Vancouver Canucks think the shoulder striping is wicked.
Other people like it, I guess, but man… put me in the "no" column.
Maybe yes, maybe no. Depending on how you define luck, Michigan has either been lucky or unlucky. The lucky part: Michigan is 4-0 in close games, though I think defining the UMass game as "close" is a stretch since onside kicks are recovered about 10% of the time when the opponent knows it's coming. If the UMass game was close than Michigan's games against Penn State and Iowa were close since Michigan had ample opportunity to get a stop that would give them a chance to tie.
Anyway, so they're 3-0 in close games but they're also hammering opponents in total yards and have been undone by yet another ugly turnover margin and terrible special teams. Braves and Birds puts together a chart with various interesting numbers:
To the chart we go!
YPP Off. YPP Def. YPP Mar. Sagarin SRS Ohio State 6.1 4.2 +1.9 88.22 15.36 Iowa 6.2 4.9 +1.3 86.17 15.29 Mich. State 6.0 5.2 +.8 79.56 12.16 Wisconsin 5.9 5.4 +.5 79.37 11.59 Illinois 5.1 5.2 -.1 79.29 9.06 Michigan 6.9 6.3 +.6 74.48 5.21 Penn State 5.5 5.9 -.4 73.84 5.02 NW 5.4 5.8 -.4 66.94 -0.63 Indiana 4.7 7.3 -2.6 63.63 -0.08 Purdue 4.2 5.3 -1.1 59.62 -6.07 Minn. 5.0 6.4 -1.4 58.57 -9.43
(Note: the yardage numbers come only from games against BCS conference opponents. This includes games against Notre Dame.)
Michigan's yards per play margin is on par with the weaker teams challenging for the conference title and well clear of the conference rabble, even with a defense far worse than anyone save Indiana and Minnesota. Where Michigan falls apart are the places not found on the chart, in turnovers and special teams. At least this year there's a clear reason for the turnover margin: the defense. Michigan's lost 17 turnovers this year; the NCAA average is 15.75. The defense has only acquired ten. Assuming Denard can lower his interception rate like most quarterbacks do, next year Michigan can finally approach turnover parity if the defense takes the significant step forward it could.
Anyway, B&B pulled out this chart because he'd created one for the SEC as a vehicle to discuss whether Georgia had been unlucky (conclusion: yes) and tried to figure out if the same was true for Michigan. He concludes it's a mixed bag and I agree; Michigan may have been unlucky to suffer scads of turnovers against MSU and Iowa but since a lot of those TOs resulted from Denard's now-established tendency to throw behind his receiver that's more an effect of talent limitations than bloody fate.
There's significantly more wobble in the TO numbers than most anything else year to year but certain things do reliably cause turnovers: quarterback inexperience and pressure. Michigan's had a lot of inexperience, little pressure on the opponent, and little pressure on Michigan. Results are average TO numbers against and terrible for.
Arithmetic, yo. The fundamental flaw with Spread Is Dead rhetoric is a fundamental change in the nature of offense when the quarterback can both run and throw. In an article for the Wolverine, Jon Chait gets the point across:
It's worth keeping all this in mind when you hear sports commentators announce that defenses have "caught up to the spread." It's partially true, but only partially… The part they haven't caught up to is having a quarterback in the shotgun who can read an un-blocked defender and keep the ball on almost any running play. That is the real game-changer in the spread system. It alters the entire arithmetic of the game, allowing the offense to always have enough blockers to account for the defenders in the box, while also forcing defenses into stripped-down pass coverages. Defenses can't catch up to this dynamic because you can't "catch up to" arithmetic.
The most striking thing about the Rodriguez videos everyone pored over in the aftermath of his hire was his assumption about the number of safeties he would face: one… or zero? That's the arithmetic that sees Michigan averaging over six yards a carry along with two other true spread 'n' shreds (Oregon and Auburn) and two other teams whose quarterbacks average just under 100 yards a game (Nevada and Nebraska). At the same time Michigan averages 9.2(!) YPA, because the safety question is now one or zero instead of one or two*.
*(With some limited exceptions, like Iowa. Iowa gave up over 500 yards only to see Michigan thwart itself spectacularly; since the 28 they gave up there was only exceeded by Wisconsin—Arizona got a ton of points on ST—that's kinda sorta a reason the question about safeties has changed.)
Gapping it. Given the first two bullets this table from Doctor Saturday won't be a surprise:
The Mathete's been tracking this disparity too and by his numbers, which go back to 2002, Michigan has a bigger gap between O and D performance than anyone. In my eyes this is a reason to keep Rodriguez around since it should be easier to find an average defense with an established elite offensive mind in place than revamp the program considerably.
Ballin' out of control. If you didn't see this happen you are like me but I can appreciate it in retrospect:
Your offense has the ball on its own 12-yard line with a 30-28 lead and 3:39 to play in the fourth quarter. The defense has just used the first of three timeouts. Your quarterback, who you've already tried to bench on two separate occasions this season before injuries forced him back into the lineup, completes an eight-yard pass on 3rd-and-9. You let the clock run down to 2:50, then call your first timeout. Now facing a 4th-and-1 from your own 19-yard line with a two-point lead and less than three minutes to play, do you:
a) Punt and play defense;
b) Line up like you're going for it in an effort to draw the defense offsides, then use your second timeout and punt if the defense doesn't jump;
c) Seriously, anything other than a punt risks a turnover with the ball already in prime position for the game-winning field goal. Just kick it already;
d) Are we really still debating this?
e) Spit as hard as you can and actually go for it.
Randy Edsall and mansome Jordan Todman went for it, got four yards, and got to kneel out the game after another couple first downs. This is spectacular for the following reasons:
- Todman finished with 37 carries for 220 yards and had already established he was capable of running down Pitt's throat
- Tino Sunseri had completed 20 of 28 passes for 220 yards and had just brought Pitt within two two minutes ago.
- If you don't make it you sell out to stop them from getting a first down and get the ball back with a shot at the win, but…
- It's fourth and one and your tailback has 200 yards. You're going to make it.
You could tell Zook wanted to go for it on several fourth and ones Michigan forced, but the closest he came to pulling the trigger was taking a delay of game on one. A tip of the cap to Edsall for overcoming his dread and getting a well-deserved win. People invariably call this "guts" or "balls" and while it is gutsy it's also the right call. God, I just thought about Lloyd Carr punting from the OSU 34 in 2005.
NEW TOPIC: no Big East team now has fewer than three losses and 8-4 looks like the best case scenario for the conference champion. Fire the Big East.
Scrub is a guy who can't get no love from me. Pro bowl cornerback supposed height chart from Touch The Banner:
Not much to tell except once you start getting shorter than 5'10" your shot at the super big time gets dim. I'd like to see an equivalent of this with All Conference teams to see what the breakdown is there. I bet it's shorter.
Four verts. Remember that second and twenty two Illinois converted easily? Yeah, that was four verticals against cover three, I think, and that didn't work so well. Here's a primer on what to do about it—mostly get those linebackers ten yards deep as soon as they read pass. In that down and distance that should have been "before the snap," but Michigan had them all tight and they didn't get sufficient distance, or a chuck, and Vinopal was way too deep, and bang.
Etc.: Soony Saad shot Michigan past MSU in the Big Ten soccer tournament yesterday despite Justin Meram getting a second yellow for celebration after he tied the game. They play Wisconsin today for a shot at the final. The bagpipe rendition of Amazing Grace from last weekend. Holdin' the Rope reminisces about childhood visits to West Lafayette. An interview with Jon Falk.
Tuesday: In Your City, If It's New York. I'll be in NYC Tuesday to talk about the team and sheepishly admit what I thought the past two years. The event is supposed to be somewhere around this page, but I can't find it without a login. Details:
3rd Annual Football Season Kick-off Party with MGoBlog's Brian Cook
Date: Tuesday, August 24
Time: 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Location: Brother Jimmy's, 116 East 16th Street (between Irving & Park)
Cost: FREE for pre-registered AAUM members, and $20 for all others online through Tuesday, August 18. Day-of door pricing will be $25 for everyone. Register at http://alumni.umich.edu/event/?2262bf16-8fbe-4d22-befa-563be5d594ae
InformationDue to popular demand, the alumni club has once again invited sports blogger Brian Cook to return to NYC to spread his knowledge of all-things Michigan football and preview the 2010 season. Come out to meet and mix with your fellow Maize and Blue football fans!
Contact: Alex Trambitas, email@example.com
Yeah, I wouldn't pay 20 bucks to hear me talk either. Hope you're in the alumni club.
I find it sad*. I wish this didn't have an incongruous backing track—I actually checked my tabs in case some highlight reel was going in another—but here's Bo blowing up during the '89 Illinois game:
Woo ha! Michigan would win 24-10 en route to the Rose Bowl.
They're back except they're different and probably uglier. OSU will again wear wack Nike uniforms for The Game. Ohio State fans are suitably appalled:
Do you hate things that are good? Great, me too! We have so much in common. In fact, our friends at Nike have taken it upon themselves to market to folks just like us, people with (or without!) disposable income who enjoy kitsch, tasteless things.
As such, the university announced Tuesday that for a second straight year, the slow and steady commercialization of The Game will evidently proceed accordingly. This season, Ohio State is widely expected to take the field in a scarlet variety of the same faux-throwback-to-the-future-OMGboomstyle-backs the team rocked in conquering the rebel occupied forest moon of
EndorAnn-Arbor last November.
By 2015 The Game will be Rollerball. It will star LL Cool J, and TV people will love it.
But hey, at least that effort to have a terrible phone company be a title sponsor was swiftly demolished when fans revolted. I'm not sure why the same hasn't happened with this—think of what it will look like in Getty Images in 20 years!—but if there was any ever debate about which team had the more iconic uniforms, it's over now. If Michigan tried to wear anything other than the home blues they've worn since 1565, you'd find whoever made that decision strapped to a donkey with a sock in his mouth and GPS directions to Columbus the next day.
That is only a silver lining to a dark cloud of stupidity, though. Anyone who is still angry that Michigan decided to take way more money from Adidas: you are nuts.
Acceptable? Wha? Penn State fans have been complaining up a storm about the idea they'd get swapped into the Essentially West division of the Big Ten; I've been doing the same about the idea of getting Ohio State as a cross-divisional rival. Will we ever get along? Maybe. Slow States may have put together a division setup that works for everyone:
Division A: Penn State, Nebraska, Iowa, Michigan State, Purdue, Northwestern
Division B: Ohio State, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois
This necessitates the cross-division rivals, which bleah, but I look at it and think "not horrible," as do Penn State fans. The only problem is breaking up the Wisconsin-Iowa game (Iowa-Minnesota is the protected game) but they do get Nebraska instead. I don't think anyone would have a major problem with this arrangement except "TV people," who can go jump in a lake since their idea of thinking long term is next week.
Remain calm! Skepticism about Kevin Newsome is totally rooted in jealousy and bitterness instead of "repeating what Penn State sources say":
A source close to the program told The Patriot-News earlier in the week that Bolden, the true freshman from Michigan, is clearly the most talented of PSU's four quarterbacks.
Joe Paterno may still settle on former walk-on Matt McGloin as his starter for the Sept. 4 opener against Youngstown State because of McGloin's familiarity with the offense.
So that's a true freshman and a walk-on in front of Newsome, who "has not performed well" to date. It'll be interesting to see how Bolden does on multiple levels, since Michigan chose to pursue Gardner over him and Tim saw him a lot in high school and was resoundingly unimpressed.
They grow moohaha. Check out this bizarre hockey rink:
That's from the NHL's development camp, where they're testing out all kinds of weird stuff including giant cyclopean faceoff circles and—tingle—super-thick blue lines. Most comments about the latter (which I've been advocating for years in my oversigning-level campaign against hockey offsides) center on the expansion of the offensive zone:
Wider blue lines to increase the size of offensive zone -- I've always liked this idea. In widening the lines, there's more room to keep the puck in the zone when it goes out to the line, but the zone itself remains the same size and the neutral zone doesn't shrink. It's an idea whose time has come, but only if the linesmen is vigilant in getting into position to make the close calls.
This is a benefit, but it's an ancillary one. The major asset of XXL blue lines is a serious reduction in those nothing offsides calls where one team is trying to rush the puck into the zone and a guy is three inches off. A thicker blue line increases the demilitarized zone and should reduce the number of interesting rushes killed off in favor of a neutral-ice faceoff and inevitable dump-and-chase.
The guy above gives that rule change a slim chance of passing because it's "too radical," unfortunately.
Etc.: You can now mic bands. Will this matter? Probably not since last year's whinefest featured a bunch of audio engineers who described how difficult this was in detail. MATW fills in another "of the decade" blank with the top games.