Ace: When do you expect Michigan to get on level footing with Michigan State and Ohio State? Do you expect them to, in the latter case?
Dave Nasternak: Well, those are 2 different levels, especially after the last year.
As far as reaching Michigan State's level, I'm thinking (hoping?) Harbaugh will get them to that level in the next 2-3 years. I actually think that the talent differential is not huge, outside of a couple of obvious positions. The coaching differential, however...has been quite large. One of the interesting things about Michigan State has been their recruiting. They have not had stand-out, elite level recruiting during their stretch of dominance over Michigan (and kinda the Big Ten). But they have developed their roster as well as anyone has...which is coaching. It has also not hurt Michigan State that Michigan and Penn State have not been at program expectations over the past 5+ years. However, with Harbaugh in Ann Arbor, now -and a competitively talented roster to work with- I think that gap has already shrunk a bit...and will presumably do so in the next couple of years.
|You will NOT take away the year of Fickell. [Upchurch]|
Since the end of the 2004 season, Ohio State is 110-21. 104-14 if you take away the Year of Fickell. That's...uh...I don't even know. I definitely think this past 10 or so years has not been the Big Ten's best -definitely some under-performing teams and questionable hiring decisions by a few of the schools- but...yikes, man. There were a few years where its felt like Michigan has lost 14 games...just in that year, alone! I'm not sure anyone is going to THAT level, any time soon. If anyone can give Michigan a chance to do so, it would be Jim Harbaugh, though. Anyway...my next point, haha. One of the things that Ohio State has that has eluded most of the Big Ten teams (at least lately) is a game-changer. And they have had many. Going back to Troy Smith, Terrelle Pryor and now Miller/Barrett/Jones and Elliott. These are guys that can score every time they touch the ball...and always seem to make a play to keep a drive alive or score when OSU needs points. They are Heisman trophy winners...or at least candidates. That is level of recruit AND development that Michigan is going to need in order to compete at the OSU level. Can and will Harbaugh take Michigan there? I think he can. I hope he will. When? It will be years before he will be able to make a mark like OSU has been able to over the last decade or so. But I do think that once Harbaugh gets Top 100/300/whatever recruits flowing into his system, Michigan will be able to go toe-to-toe with Ohio State and at least beat them at a competitive rate...instead of the 1(Fickell) and 10 it has been over the past 11 years.
[After the jump: projections on a sophomore roster]
"This week, and we talked about it earlier on Monday, is always a different week. We had two very good sessions. You always start early it seems like for this game, but in preparation we were outside yesterday. Had a really good practice. Team’s working hard with the preparation. We got a lot that we've got to correct from a week ago but there's a lot to build off from a week ago also. The big thing is you always, listening to coach Schembechler and coach Moeller and coach Carr throughout the years, you want to play your best at the end of November. That's what we're trying to do, have our best performance on Saturday. Great rivalry. We've talked about it and it’s special. Unless you've coached in it and played in it I think sometimes it's hard to explain, but the intensity in this game is like no other you'll play."
Do you bring in special speakers? You mentioned Mo and those guys. Do you bring those guys in? I know Mo’s around here a lot. Does he come in and talk?
"At times you do. We have in the past. It hasn't been every year but yeah, we've had people come in. We do a lot of that in August during camp because you've got those days and you’ve got each other so you refer back to some of those if you're not bringing somebody in."
Bo was famous for every practice they did something for Ohio State. Is that how you handle that?
"Not every practice. We talk about it. It's visually up here in this building all the time [the countdown clock], and we talk about it weekly if not daily about the rivalry and the extent of it."
But you don't do something specific and practice for Ohio State every week?
"Not every week."
For a player like Mason Cole or Bryan Mone, what is this first experience like? How do you bring them into the rivalry and what is it like for them to go into it?
"I think a couple things. Number one, you bring up those two true freshmen. Playing at South Bend this year and then at Michigan State and now going to Columbus, which we've never done that, and we've never done that with those two teams [on the road] in the same year so playing in those venues, and Michigan State playing a night game on national television – er, Notre Dame, I think that's part of it. I think the passion in Spartan Stadium is hopefully something they can refer to but as I said earlier this is even a louder environment. It'll be a test but they've been playing football a long time and that's, at the end of the day, what it is is playing football."
[After THE JUMP: So about last year…]
I hope you're all familiar with Ross Fulton of Eleven Warriors, who does an excellent job of breaking down the X's and O's for Ohio State and their opponents week in and week out. Ross was kind enough to answer a few scheme-centric questions about The Game, and he did so in more detail than I could've possibly asked for—his take on Michigan's offense alone is well worth your time.
Michigan's defense was surprisingly successful against OSU last year, give or take some pounding runs by Carlos Hyde and the bomb to Devin Smith. How do you see the Buckeyes attacking Michigan on Saturday, and do you expect to see any new wrinkles in the offense that we didn't see last year?
First, thanks for the opportunity to collaborate with MGoBlog, a site I have long read and enjoyed.
As to your question, Ohio State was able to gain yards against Michigan last season (the Buckeyes had nearly 400) but Michigan did a really nice job holding the Buckeyes to field goals in the red zone.
The new “wrinkles” you will see Saturday are the primary difference between the Ohio State offense of 2012 and 2013. Last season Braxton Miller was inconsistent as a passer and a decision maker on read/packaged games. As a result, the offense would devolve at times to the Miller and Carlos Hyde run show, even when defenses were cheating slot defenders or safeties against the run.
Fast forward to this year. Miller and Hyde are still Urban Meyer and Tom Herman’s primary weapons. But Ohio State is far more effective at constraining the defense with the screen and pass game. This reflects Miller’s development, as well as the improvement in the wide receiver corps, led by Corey Brown.
Meyer and Herman’s preferred method of operating is coming out in the First Quarter and hitting the edge with screens and packaged hitches to Devin Smith (above), and then taking downfield shots off play action. For instance, one play I expect to see Saturday (and one that will probably get under Michigan fans’ craw) is a deep crossing route off inverted veer. It is very difficult for the play side safety to stay home when they see a pulling guard and the possibility of Miller or Hyde running the football. Also look for Ohio State to use Dontre Wilson as a decoy in the flat to open vertical routes.
Then, once they establish a lead Meyer and Herman like to return to the base run game. Assuming the weather cooperates, I would expect some variation of that formula Saturday.
Are there any personnel matchups when OSU is on offense that particularly delight/concern you?
To me, there is one schematic and one personnel matchup that will be interesting to watch. The first is between Meyer and Greg Mattison in the wide side flat. Against spread teams, Mattison generally walks his Sam linebacker out to the field and plays him in the gray area inside the slot receiver.
Meyer and Herman love attacking the wide side field when a team does this. They will do so not only with wide receiver screens, but also the outside run game. For instance, one method they use is to run jet sweep away from the play side blocking. Miller will read that backside linebacker and if he bites down, Miller gives on the jet sweep. The Buckeyes’ slot receiver simply has to seal the linebacker inside and the Buckeyes can get easy yards, either with Hyde or Wilson.
As a result, playing that role is a lot to ask of any defender, but I was very impressed with how Jake Ryan handled it last fall. But this is a chess match I will be watching.
In terms of personnel, I think that Ohio State has an advantage inside against Michigan’s undersized interior. The strongest part of the Buckeyes as a team is their offensive line. Look for Ohio State to run inside zone and power at the 3-technique bubble.
[Hit THE JUMP to read how Ross thinks OSU will attack Michigan defensively, his thoughts on what plagues the Michigan offense, and his prediction for The Game.]
So there was a new Bacon book this year. We need to review this book. I'm going to do this with the expectation that you have either read it already or are going to. You should. It is a Bacon book. You are reading MGoBlog; either you are a person who appreciates Bacon or else a visiting Sparty looking for more trolling fodder, in which case help yourself to the board where I promise you there's plenty. Or better yet, read some Bacon—you're in the Big Ten; this concerns you too. And he says the Red Cedar is nice.
This is not a negative review, even though I have a tendency to focus on the "needs work" aspects—I'm the guy who walked out of The Return of the King after five years of unmitigated Peter Jackson man-crushing and complained that there were too many endings. So apologies to John U., who's higher in my esteem than Mr. Jackson and just about everyone whose quotes aren't emblazoned on a wall somewhere, for the plurality of minuses below.
More Bacon. Ever since Bo's Lasting Lessons, the chance to devour a new Bacon book has been somewhat of an event around these parts. As a Michigan fan it would be tough to follow the unparalleled access and insight into the Rich Rod program accomplished with Three and Out, specifically because that unvarnished snapshot was so starkly antithetical to Dave Brandon's meticulous staging of his Michigan show: You knew at the time that no true journalist would be allowed to see behind the bunting again, so it should only come as a mild disappointment that there is little about the Michigan program in this book that you didn't already know.
Fourth and Long: the Fight for the Soul of College Football is four unequal looks at four 2012 Big Ten programs, or four and a half if you count a mini-treatment that Michigan State and Mark Hollis receive as host of an Ohio State road game. In order of detail:
- Penn State from the point of view of its players, former players, coaches, and equipment managers as they find themselves taking the brunt of the Penn State Awful Thing, and the NCAA's and PSU brass's callow responses to it.
- Michigan from Bacon's own point of view of its fans, as those fans interact with Brandon's corporate-itude.
- Ohio State from the P.O.V. of Urban Meyer as he goes from win to win trying to get Zach Boren to like him, and
- Northwestern as the paragon of virtue.
Bacon set out, as is evident from the title and made clear throughout the book, to examine these four schools from different points of view (players, AD, head coach, and president, respectively), and use the findings to determine if any of the Big Ten's current models for college football are sustainable for college football in general. In it he consistently finds players and fans who "get it" while the people in control seek new and better ways to milk it.
But he could only use what he got from each school. With Ohio State the access was mostly restricted to Urban on game days. He brushes against tatgate but doesn't get into the cars or any other "everybody knows, nobody can prove" things—you have to appreciate that Bacon will never accuse somebody without proof (especially considering he's an avowed Michigan fan talking about Ohio State) but it's really hard to talk about college sports and the competitive problems therein without admitting there are relative bad guys. The Gee quote—"I hope he doesn't fire me!"—is in there in reference to the bloated role of college football head coach in America. The closest he comes to pointing out OSU's exceptionalism in this regard is when addressing the carrying off of Tressel after last year's Game:
"The Buckeyes do not run a renegade program, but they once again demonstrated they don't seem to care if their actions make others think they do."
This isn't a complaint; Bacon handled a sticky situation about as well as he could. With Northwestern he got some key interviews, particularly with Pat Fitzgerald, but no warts (this could be because they don't have any).
With Michigan Bacon was outside looking in, so he used some of the Bacon-usual suspects—Carty, the dueling barbershops, the public comments of James Duderstadt and Don Canham, Brian Cook of MGoBlog, etc. There's also an inside look at the Mud Bowl, and most interestingly, a candid interview with Michigan's band director about Send-the-Band-to-Dallas-gate. I was more intrigued by the comments made by Bill Martin on the corporatization of NCAA football, which I'll come back to. The whole Notre Dame saga is covered. Except for the band's comments most of this is old news to you.
The result is a book that's 52% about Penn State trying to survive 2012, with a bunch of stuff thrown in about some other schools and corporations to underscore a point made clear without leaving Happy Valley.
[After the jump: it's just, like, my opinion man.]
sometimes google image search is art
We are not worried about this frivolous lawsuit. NCAA Football is dead, you guys:
NCAA will not renew EA Sports contract
The NCAA has made the decision not to enter a new contract for the license of its name and logo for the EA Sports NCAA Football video game. The current contract expires in June 2014, but our timing is based on the need to provide EA notice for future planning. As a result, the NCAA Football 2014 video game will be the last to include the NCAA’s name and logo. We are confident in our legal position regarding the use of our trademarks in video games. But given the current business climate and costs of litigation, we determined participating in this game is not in the best interests of the NCAA.
Paired with the credit-rating downgrade the NCAA just received, that sounds like a team of lawyers running around in circles shouting "THINK OF SOMETHING" to each other. Most favored bomb-thrower Patrick Hruby:
What gives is lawyer-ese. The NCAA is never going to publicly say that the O’Bannon case has them scared, because that would imply they’ve done something wrong and therefore have reason to be afraid of adjudication. However, the current facts of the case don’t look good for it: O’Bannon’s claim is rooted allegations that the NCAA and co-defendants EA Sports and the Collegiate Licensing Company colluded to profit from the unauthorized use of former players’ NILs – price-fixing their value at zero – and documents uncovered by the plaintiffs’ lawyers during discovery strongly support said allegatioons.
The other tell? Check out the rest of the NCAA’s brief statement, which says that “given the current business climate and costs of litigation, we determined participating in this game is not in the best interests of the NCAA.” (Bold added.) In this case, current business climate and costs of litigation are lawyer-ese for ruh-roh.
Individual schools and conference can still license their trademarks to EA. Will they? I'm guessing yes, as Kotaku explains that most of the licensing is through the CLC, making the NCAA's decision "nearly a technicality."
If not get ready for EA Sports Football Type Substance And Incredibly Easy To Edit Thing 2015. Back in the day when I was playing the college version of Front Office Football I had to download a file to turn "South Bend" into "Notre Dame," and such, but it's a lot harder to import winged helmets than change names.
Shots fired. Will Muschamp is pretty cheesed off at Urbs, you guys. SEC Media days are ongoing, and Muschamp's turn at the tiller included this gem:
Muschamp, who succeeded Meyer as the Gators' coach, is even borrowing a page from Michigan coach Brady Hoke, who won't even call Ohio State by its full name.
"That's really a dead issue with me," Muschamp said Tuesday at SEC media days. "In both situations, we were turned in by Ohio. We didn't do anything wrong. The University of Florida didn't do anything wrong. And so we appreciated our friends from Ohio making sure we're compliant with NCAA rules. They certainly know a little bit about that subject."
That zing was followed up by a personal shot at Urban Meyer for fostering a murderer he is responsible for. No, seriously:
"You can’t expect a coach to know where all 125 players are all the time," Muschamp said. "But you also can’t stick your head in the sand and think everything is OK. You're 100 percent responsible."
Arrest Urban Meyer! Unless that would help his recruiting, which it might. Arrest Urban Meyer or take a picture of him checking out a Justin Beiber concert?
I hope you guys are better at real defense than computer defense. Ondre Pipkins played Dymonte Thomas in NCAA and came out with a screenshot that is just all kinds of wrong:
Are these 30 minute quarters? Why are you taking Ohio State? Why has Ohio State scored if that was the case? What is going on? IS URBS GOING TO FLIP DYMONTE?
Slive pushing. Self-interest, sure, but self interest in the name of providing a fig leaf of player compensation is better than the alternative:
"The NCAA has not been successful in meeting the full cost of attendance of our student athletes, whether through the so-called miscellaneous expense allowance or some other model that provides broad access to additional funds," said Slive, about to begin his 12th year as commissioner.
The issue, in a nutshell, is that some schools can afford to pay the stipend and some can't. Those that can't are able to keep the idea bottled up. Those that can, like schools in the SEC, are getting tired of it.
"Conferences and their member institutions must be allowed to meet the needs of their student-athletes," Slive said.
Slive followed up by saying that in meetings with other conference commissioners "there appears to be a willingness" to go through with a cost of attendance adjustment, at least until individual schools submarine it through the override process.
Mitch staying. SI spotlights Mitch McGary in a manner that'll get your salivary glands going:
When he submitted his name to the NBA's draft advisory board, McGary was told what he already suspected: He was a surefire first-round pick, and very possibly a lottery pick. The vast majority of college players would have jumped at that opportunity, but McGary defied convention and announced he would stay in school. "I want to prove to people that my potential is much greater than what I showed," McGary explained. "The way I look at it is, so far I've only cracked the glass. Next year I'm trying to break through it."
McGary is down to around 255 after starting last season twenty pounds heavier—too heavy—and you could see the increased stamina and athleticism late. That was the #2 recruit in the country, and Michigan figures to get that this year.
TSN's Mike DeCourcy, meanwhile, says McGary is still a load even at the lighter weight:
4. Jadeveon Clowney was a big topic of conversation at SEC Media Days. What current college hoops player could take your head off if he played football?
DeCourcy: Michigan’s Mitch McGary. Not messing with that dude. If Mitch had been the Wolverine in possession of that football instead of Vincent Smith back in the Outback Bowl, it might have been Clowney whose helmet went flying.
So much for that. If you were hoping that Fox Sports 1 would be an alternative to ESPN, it will, but not in the way you want:
…to differentiate FS1, to lend it personality and create a distinct brand, Fox is going with a concept that David Hill, chief executive officer of Fox Sports, calls “jockularity.” The plan is for FS1 to be the funny, irreverent, less serious sports channel.
Among other things, that involves hiring a couple of Canadian pranksters to anchor the network’s flagship program and building another show around Regis Philbin.
So much for that unless the Canadian is Norm Macdonald.
Never say die. The Big Ten has created a new bowl at Ford Field, but the Pizza Bowl guys won't let it die:
Ken Hoffman feels there’s no reason Ford Field can’t handle playing host to two bowl games starting in 2014.
Hoffman’s Little Caesars Pizza Bowl was on the outside looking in following the news Wednesday the Detroit Lions bowl game was official, starting Dec. 30, 2014, with a Big Ten team going up against a team from another power conference.
Guys. It's over.
Etc.: Eleven Warriors' guide to visiting Ann Arbor is seemingly designed to get you to dislike Ann Arbor, but I guess it's aimed at guys who get ATV catalogs. Pro sports attendance beginning to suffer in baseball and basketball. Average Boston Red Sox ticket cost: 88 dollars! FIFA can't sell the World Cup to pay-TV in the UK.
Music City Bowl will pit an SEC team versus an ACC/B10 team for the next five years. A la carte ESPN projected cost: 30 bucks. Thanks, people who don't care about sports but pay for ESPN anyway. Old man yells at cloud. Potential VCU rematch in the second round of Puerto Rico.
Minor crisis averted. Butler went with the other guy, not Lavall Jordan. Why is unclear—comfort level I guess since Jordan hasn't been at Butler in a while. And I don't care. Guy who molded Darius Morris and Trey Burke and is going to be a head coach someday soon is still at Michigan. Keep these guys together a couple more years and this thing is established big-time. After that happens I'd actually be in favor of some current assistants heading out to establish themselves an obvious pick when Beilein retires.
Meanwhile, the critical 2014 recruiting class (in which Michigan is actually slugging out high-profile recruitments instead of acquiring stars like Burke, GRIII, and Zak Irvin who were either under the radar or snatched so quickly no one else could get involved) may get a bump from the turnover in Indy.
Butler was widely assumed to be the leader for Indianapolis SF Trevon Bluiett, a top-50-ish player who's been tearing up the AAU circuit this summer. Scout's Brian Snow recently told GBW that he'd be "beyond shocked" if Bluiett didn't end up at Michigan or Butler, and there were a couple of different reports that the Bulldogs had been dropped. Immediately refuted reports…
Scout's Sam Webb, citing Bluiett's father -- Reynardo -- said his son had yet to speak with Miller, claiming Butler was still a player for his son.
…but I'd rather be the team that reports are not being refuted about.
I want one. The Michigan version is… uh… Bo punching out a tree? Fielding Yost riding roughshod over the Vatican? Whatever it is, Brady Hoke should get on the phone with Kliff Kingsbury and get an equivalent in Schembechler Hall:
BUT DOES IT COME IN VELVET
Now I'm envisioning a whole lineup of offensive murals, Pawnee City Hall style. The possibilities. The possibilities.
(Yes, that's Texas trying to Man Up Crab in the background.)
CAP HIM NOW. Messi's doing some sort of thing where he goes around playing charity matches. The most recent was in Chicago, had a Northwestern alum—their all-time leading scorer—on the other team, and, well:
That guy works in finance now. IE: he is not a professional. He's probably just happy he's not playing with a howling wind coming directly off Lake Michigan.
For health and other such items. Taboos now != taboos then.
NUKE URBAN MEYER. I'm a little unclear what's going on with this Aaron Hernandez thing but from what I can make out, Hernandez arrived at Florida straight from an ESPN laboratory in their hometown of Bristol, massive and unformed. After three years at Florida he was a combination of Dexter and Jeffery Dahmer, because Urban Meyer. Therefore Urban Meyer is basically Skynet creating the Terminator and should be bombed from space?
I think I have this straight. It fuzzy, though, because my brain keeps trying to drown itself when it tackles sentences like these:
At Florida, Meyer was the best in the business at winning.
At all costs.
Sadly, though, Aaron Hernandez now stands alongside Tim Tebow as a symbol of his UF program.
At Florida, Tebow was not only a great Gator.
He was Urban Meyer's greatest fumi-Gator.
Can the FCC force Mike Bianchi to change his twitter handle from @BianchiWrites to something that is not a flat-out lie? No? What about the elusive and abstract concept of justice?
If you want a fisk of this abomination, it has been fisked.
On the two for one. Kenpom looks at an array of statistics and concludes that yes, a two-for-one is generally the right move, but I should probably stop shouting "two for one!" at the end of the first half:
The two-for-one is a complicated issue, and it generally doesn’t provide as much benefit as one might think. Like the fouling-up-3 conundrum, if the strategy is executed perfectly, a large benefit is likely. But players aren’t robots, and all of the imperfect acts that can disrupt the strategy eat away at the potential benefit. Assuming the average gain is a fifth of a point, that’s worth slightly less than one percent in terms of win probability at the end of a half. A coach implementing this strategy will win one extra game out of 100 - and that’s out of 100 games where a two-for-one opportunity exists!
I will try to remember to never bring this up again as something that is important. Contrast that effect with the assertion Romer made about going for it on fourth down: you'd win an extra game every other year. Much larger effect there.
Never played the game. As you might imagine, I'm rather sensitive to assertions that you have to have Been In The Arena to comment on sports. This doesn't happen much these days, but a few months I checked my twitter mentions to find a dozen-tweet-long conversation between two BITA meatheads taunting me for not being an athlete and laughing at my assertion that Jordan Kovacs was a better safety than Ernest Shazor. I'm not sure what part of Being In The Arena makes you incapable of watching things and coming to obvious conclusions…
REMEMBER WHEN THIS ISH HAPPENED ALL THE TIME
…but this isn't rocket science, it's just paying attention systematically. Being In The Arena doesn't mean you do that. I mean. Matt Millen.
So yes I found Bill Barnwell's takedown of the player-generated NFL 100 list, which purports to be a ranking of the best guys in the game, delightful:
Only nerds and losers care about statistics, right? If anyone should know about the impact that the league's mauling guards and run-stuffing nose tackles have on the game, it's the guys who play alongside them in the trenches. You win from the lines out!
And yet, somehow, despite there being about three times as many offensive linemen on NFL rosters as there are running backs, there are 12 running backs against just six offensive linemen in the Top 100 Players list. Put it this way: 37.5 percent of the starting running backs in football are considered to be one of the top 100 players in football. That's better than one out of every three. Only 3.75 percent of the starting offensive linemen in football are considered to be one of the top 100 players in football.
That is just one of many, many problems that arise when you ask people unprepared to do something to do it. The Been In The Arena argument is 90% a request to take your thoughtless blather uncritically. NOPE
Etc.: Excellent Bryan Curtis piece on former Michigan baseballer Mike Cervenak, who is in his 15th year(!) in the minors with Toledo. Michigan voted the best uniforms in the Big Ten, which duh. Presumably this is a ranking of the actual uniforms, not the ghost unis from the bowl game. Burke in Utah, is betting favorite to be Rookie of the Year.
Meanwhile in Joe Dumars, signs power forward who can't shoot to play small forward, duplicating strengths, ignoring weaknesses, and setting the Pistons up as—at best—an easy first-round victim. DBB's Mike Payne brings a flamethrower; do not get him mad at you.