Apologies if someone has already pointed this out, but I believe Minor's fumbling problems were due at least in part to a busted (I believe that's the exact medical term) right wrist.
Unverified Voracity In Bed
The fortune cookie of articles. Does it seem like this description of Shaun Alexander's recruitment should end with "…in bed"?
Alexander drove through a snowstorm to Michigan, where the school’s recruiting hostesses greeted him in their standard-issued khaki pants and golf shirts.
A week later, Alabama representatives picked him up in a private jet. On the way to Tuscaloosa, the pilot slid over and let Alexander fly. Once on campus he was greeted by a group of sundress-wearing co-eds named the ’Bama Belles. The young lady assigned to Alexander was the reigning Miss Alabama runner-up.
I'm pretty sure I know what that infamous golf shirt outfit looks like (right):
Michigan has since replaced those shapeless… items with something more appealing. Maybe they allow the hostesses to wear something other than cotton garbage bags these days.
Michigan would get the last laugh when Ryan Pfluger shanked an extra point in the first overtime of the 2000 Orange Bowl, and in 2004 the NCAA would significantly restrict the ability of schools like Alabama to fete their recruits Paris Hilton-style.
Show me your jets. There's been a lot of scuttlebutt about how Michael Shaw's injuries saw his abilities decrease in his intermittently-impressive freshman year, but I believe this is the first confirmation of such a thing from the man himself:
"I remember the Minnesota game, and nine times out of 10 that's a touchdown," Shaw said, referring to his 48-yard run, which led to his season-best 71-yard day. "I broke a long run and got dragged from behind. It was then that I was like, 'I'm really hurting. I've never not been able to run, not been able to explode.' " …
"I had significant playing time last year," Shaw said. "With those two guys (Minor and Brown) in front of me, it's up for grabs, and camp is a great platform for me to show I can still play and I'm ready. ... I'm about 90%. I'll be 100% by camp."
Yes. Remember that Mike Shaw is also made of dilithium. Last year he fumbled and disastrously tried to bounce it outside a few times each, but when he wasn't forcing facepalms out of the fanbase he was slashing into the secondary and picking up 20 or so yards a couple times per game.
Shaw's unlikely to wrest the starting job away from the two seniors unless both succumb to injuries. A good sophomore year would see Shaw remain healthy, rip off the occasional long run whilst spotting the two co-starters, and throw down the gauntlet for anyone who presumes to challenge him in 2010.
More for the great leap forward. The latest effort of Football Outsiders' college guru Bill Conolly tackles tailbacks and has a number of data points relevant to Michigan. The stat in question is "Points Over Expectation." The brief summary: it's a metric that rewards you for rushing for lots of yards over many carries. It's something midway between YPC and yardage. (You can get a longer explanation at the link above.)
The notes of interest:
- Sam McGuffie checked in with the seventh-worst POE number in the country last year.
- Brandon Minor had the 12th-best POE number, and is the tenth-best returning tailback.
- Javon Ringer ran a lot, but to little effect:
Ringer was fourth in the country in rushing yards last year, but where did he stack up in POE? A whopping 137th, between Ball State backup Cory Sykes and Colorado backup Demetrius Sumler. Ringer's 390 carries merited a POE of -0.3, meaning an average college running back would have put up exactly what he did in 390 carries. While there is certainly skill (or at least good genes) involved in managing 30 carries per game without breaking down, it is unlikely that the skills Ringer possesses will in any way translate to pro success
In football numbers always require interpretation. Mine: the difference between McGuffie and Minor is partially, maybe even mostly, due to the radical improvement of Michigan's offensive line as the season progressed. The vast bulk of Minor's carries came in the second, effective half of the season. McGuffie was stuck running behind some super-confused guys.
But, man, the size of that gap is epic. Minor was more effective by leaps and bounds. This may something anyone who watched the two could tell you anecdotally, but if last year's Michigan's running game was the 12th-most effective in the country when Minor got the ball that's an accomplishment nearing magnificence. I've been making the case here that we should expect the rushing offense to take a considerable step forward this year; these numbers support that, possibly even to an extent I haven't dared suggest.
On Ringer: I think most people who saw a lot of Ringer would disagree with Connolly's conclusion at least somewhat. Ringer's lack of per-carry production was a product of extreme overuse, predictable playcalling, and being backed by the "threat" of Brian Hoyer*. I've also heard from a couple of educated Michigan State fans that the reason last year's Michigan State team had about one run play—power off tackle—was the ineptness of the offensive line. That's all they could do. He was not put in a position where he could succeed, and he managed to get drafted despite Dantonio treating him like a pack mule. Ringer has talent—probably not NFL-level, but you could say that about a lot of tailbacks with much better POE numbers.
It'll be interesting to see whether the repertoire expands next year or if they're the new Rock, Rock, Rock of the Big Ten. I lean towards the latter. Dantonio may have herded the cats at State into something resembling a competent defense, but offensive creativity does not seem like a specialty.
*(Brandon Minor gets to deploy all these excuses as well since Michigan ran two-thirds of the time when he was the feature tailback, largely because the alternative was having Threet or Sheridan throw. And yet… the numbers. I'm going to go breathe into a paper bag for a while and then write "I will NOT predict 9-3" on a chalkboard 500 times.)
Ah, Doyel. I've previously called Gregg Doyel a junior-high version of Christopher Hitchens and that he remains, but goddamn if it isn't satisfying to read a Christopher Hitchens piece when his strident personal morality happens to intersect with yours. So, yeah, Doyel's latest is a rip job on the inane Meyer-to-ND meme personally started by professional provocateur Paul Finebaum, and I like it.
I want to highlight this bit:
Finebaum's source? He doesn't mention one. Because he doesn't have one. His source is either Spurrier's "rumor down there," or that vast empty space Finebaum calls his skull. …
the Meyer rumor won't leave. Newspapers in Gainesville, Fla., Nashville, Tenn., and Orlando, Fla., have written about it, all in the past six days. Why? Because of Spurrier. And Finebaum.
This is pretty much the exact thing newspaper partisans get upset about when a baseless rumor flies about the blogosphere, reproducing willy-nilly despite a total lack of evidence or credibility. This is not a bug unique to the internet. Like everything else, it just happens much more slowly in newspapers.
In a way it's even more likely to result in untruthiness. Scratch the right sort of Notre Dame, Michigan State, or Ohio State fan and eventually he'll say something along the lines of "lol, Shredriguez" because last year a West Virginia newspaper published an embarrassingly credulous story about Rodriguez invading the Sacred Single Hardcopy Room and destroying all evidence that West Virginia even had a football program. The thing in question takes on a patina of reality due to the institutional momentum behind such a meme—it in a newspaper, it must be true—even if it's purest crap.
Etc.: Terrific UMHoops post on the three-point line move and Michigan's bombing ways.
You are correct, sir. Mr. Minor suffered what we call a "busted whuppin' bone" on the right, or "pimp" hand.
Trust me. I'm not a doctor, but I play one at home.
"Minor was more effective by leaps and bounds."
The irony of this turn of phrase is too great to ignore when comparing Minor to McGuffie. McGuffie is known for his leaping ability and Minor is known for his steamrolling ability. One had a good amount of success, the other, well, meh. McGuffie's upright running style put him in danger of getting the shit knocked out of him, which he did with great success. Minor rarely went down on 1st contact, McGuffie seemed to do so much more often. I am not trying to bash McGuffie, with an overhaul in his style he will be successful. Just saying that I was much happier last year to finally have Minor as the go-to-guy, and I am just as happy to have him this year.
I don't know how many concussions McGuffie really had, but I am pretty sure it was more than what we were told. I am quite sure he kept "re-concussing" himself by telling coaches he was "OK" and getting back in too soon. Anyone could see how he lost valuable fractions of a second on his reflexes the last half of the 2008 season.
It was enough to turn him from elusive prey to a sitting duck. And once you have had even one concussion, they come a lot quicker the next time. I hope McGuffie goes to class, warms the bench, gets a nice degree from Rice, and has a nice career when he gets out of school. Sadly, I think he is going to continue to compete in a compromised state and get the crap beaten out of him. I hope he isn't a "shot fighter" at 23.
Keep in mind, B, that We the Sheeple would believe a baseless rumor in a heartbeat if it was published on this blog, and that's only after several years of you building cred.
Newspapers make sure their 3-figure years of this is printed right on top. Newspaper cred didn't just appear out of the nether -- it was culled from a century of figuring out and implementing rigid, medium-wide standards of excellence. That a number of journalists along the way decided to take the medium's cred vehicle out for a ride is a matter of indisputable record. But they still earned it.
I understand your frustration: here's a blog that takes journalistic integrity more seriously than the local papers, or at least it does on the blog's official topic. And therefore you are more than justified when someone questions your credibility because you are "just a blog," to lash out.
Just keep some perspective: you function in the same medium as Drudge, and Drudge is still the mass-perceived median of blogging integrity. You are, for the moment, at best, an evolutionarily more advanced species during the early stages of an evolutionary shift in mass media, which will likely take at least another generation to complete. You are a specimen of bloggus credibilus antecessor, in an period that later generations will still consider the age of bloggus vitriolis. Or so I would like to believe -- you may end up a pleasant anachronism, the proverbial ancestor who was genetically impervious to cancer but was stung by a scorpion at six.
In other words, I understand why a blanket distrust of blogging is unfair to you (and a number of other trustworthy bloggers who have made the dissemination of information their livelihoods). But neither your blog, nor the blogging medium in general have the institutional megalith of quality control behind them to compare with any daily rag. Have patience, it takes an awful long time for a medium to earn the kind of trust that newspapers enjoy (and abuse).
Newspapers advertise their centenarian status atop every issue for the same rhetorical purpose that Plochman's proudly informs us on every bottle that they have delivered mustardy goodness since 1852: consumers equate brand longevity with quality, and, in the case of newspapers, credibility. Newspapers neither deserve this positive association nor the reverence your post affords them.
In their infancy newspapers were essentially unilateral mouthpieces of the opinionated elite, each with its own agenda and literary stylings. (If it cost a lot of money and/or nepotism to operate a blog, would bloggers inherently have stronger ethos?) That blogs are populist and bilateral does not hinder the medium's credibility as traditional newspaper folk assert. Perhaps counterintuitively, I'd argue these very qualities lend themselves to an even higher degree of accountability and integrity.
Without deconstructing the entire history of journalism, complete with endless examples of newspapers' “institutional monolith of quality control” failing to actually control quality, suffice it to say that newspapers don't enjoy the credibility you perceive them to have as a result of a century's devotion to rigidity and excellence. Rather, newspapers since their inception have routinely violated every principal of ethical journalism-- all while under the pretense of delivering news that is factual, objective, balanced, important, etc.-- usually without repercussion because of a lack of competition from other news outlets. News organs and consumers alike should celebrate the alternative medium that the internet provides. If a pre-internet reporter fabricated baseless stories such as Meyer-to-ND, the publication for which he wrote might publish a clarification, reiterate its commitment to fact-checking, and resume its pompous post as the only source of local news. Today, its reasonable to assume the guilty paper would fear losing some readership to the competent and increasingly popular network of blogs who actually report real stories.
Where your argument that longstanding tradition makes newspapers a more credible medium holds water is that legal precedence exists that outlines traditional reporters' rights and privileges, their relationships with government and public figures and sources. Blogs, conversely, represent the Wild West of news media- a lawless, disorganized band of news gatherers with various degrees of talent and accessibility. A former newspaper purist who rejected the informality of the blogosphere, I'm quickly learning thanks to sites like Brian's that blogs can be successful without giving way to hyperbole, fabrication, or links to hot, naked chicks. And much of this success is dependent on a self-politicking, inquisitive and keen readership whose collective and continuous commentary serves as a singular editorial staff.
It's curious that you recognize on one hand how quickly Brian effectively (“We the Sheeple” lol) established credibility, yet on the other hand you seem to believe that the blogging medium is generations away from achieving the trust that newspapers enjoy. Consider this: If Brian fabricated stories on MGoBlog, he would put at risk his entire reputation and would have to explain to his readers, who, through visiting his site, are ostensibly his employers, why the inaccuracies occurred. When a MSM-enabled solipsist like Finebaum fabricates stories, his indiscretion will only be justly punished if the publication in which he misled readers stands to monetarily suffer. Now ask yourself: which person is held more accountable to the high-minded journalistic principle of writing for the readers? This structural difference suggests it might not be a very long time before blogs achieve the same trust you view newspapers having, and as privy bloggers continue to monitor MSM, the shift in credibility might happen sooner rather than later.
Thank you for that well-reasoned, well-supported rebuttal. One thing we both forgot to mention about blogs is that the "editorial" section is more reflective of the readership, because it actually IS the readership. I don't think I've ever been so pleased to have my arguments so thoroughly taken apart, and while I must give most of the credit to you, sir, I thank Brian, too, for providing a medium of such exquisite quality as to attract conversations such as this.
Imagine such a discourse in a newspaper.
Actually, do -- imagine an opposing discourse that goes on for thousands of words without one instance of fallacy or ad hominem. It happened, you know. There used to be a lot more newspapers, and they ran the gamut from so high-minded that Henry Adams would think it pedantic, to so low and vitriolic it would shame Ann Coulter. They were, 250 years or so ago, much more like blogs than the thick, 2-per-city broadsheet behemoths we came to know. Oh, sure, it was the elites who were writing them, but if you look at the demographic of who owns blogs today, it's the same folks -- the hoi polloi boys still lag behind those exposed from an early age to high language and high ideals.
Fast forward to the megalith publications of today. What I was speaking of, for the most part, is the perception of the public, and the utter futility of defending a medium in transition. If you went back to 1767 and decried the broadsheets because they couldn't match the quality of pamphlets, you'd hear 30 cheers for your name, because broadsheets were trash (and in the 1500s the same could be said for pamphlets). It took hundreds of years of refinement, through Yellow Journalism, etc. of improving to obtain their status. As you and I both pointed out, they are hardly perfect, but it's a gross over exaggeration to say they "routinely violated every principal of ethical journalism-- all while under the pretense of delivering news that is factual, objective, balanced, important, etc.-- usually without repercussion because of a lack of competition from other news outlets." Because they competed with each other. It wasn't until TV started replacing them that the market shrank and those left became practitioners of 'churnalism.'
I see the same potential for blogging that you do. But as a medium, blogs are still in their juvenile phase, with 30 purely puerile sites for every Brian Cook, Matt Hinton, et al. Only in the last year has big business really started to take notice. So like the early rags, a typical blog's credibility is tied to the unimpeachable integrity of one man (or woman). And the trouble with this is once you lose Ben Franklin, you lose the Pennsylvania Gazette. It takes so much more to build a brand, and few blogs have even thought that far ahead. What if we lost Brian today?* Is this blog repeatable enough for someone else to pick up the mantle?
I think it will take a generation -- 30 years lets say. And this has nothing to do with blogs' capabilities, or the quality of the best blogs or even the quality of the worst blogs. It's just that's how long it takes for the public to tire of vitriol and titties, and get over its initial excitement over the "new" way of doing things, to tell the bottom feeders to take a hike.
Thank you again for your reply. I regret that I have only but one +1 to give.
*sorry Brian -- I wish I could promise this was the last hypothetical in which you get rubbed out (not to give away the uni bracket's surprise ending or anything...)
First, cheers to pleasant discourse! We all know how difficult it is to find a forum for such debate on the internet.
Some quick thoughts follow.
I did (try to) mention that a blog's readership IS its de facto editorial section when I wrote that "... much of (a blog's) success is dependent on a self-politicking, inquisitive and keen readership whose collective and continuous commentary serves as a singular editorial staff." And, yes, all credit goes to Brian for conducting his blog in a manner that discourages dolts. Or most dolts, at least.
We're on the same page concerning the argument that early newspapers were like blogs in many regards. And it sounds like we both agree that over time the cream will rise to the top. You pose an interesting question when asking what happens when the "cream" finally curdles. (Brian, I realize you're still young, but have you considered shaping an apprentice? Or does MGoBlog die when you very well please?)
As for transitional media, let's just say I'm still mad that the printing press put honest movable clay typists out of work. But seriously, you make a good point here that the anti-blog sentiment is less of a personal attack than it is a reflection of many peoples reluctance to change. I don't think it will take 30 years, however, but maybe that's a sensitive response to the shrinking, expediting globe that Thomas Friedman types paint.
I've tried not to consult any old mass media textbooks, and I'm still not going to, but are you saying that the era of Yellow Journalism was a necessary evil on the way to a refined press? Please clarify...
I'll stand by my "over exaggerated" assertion that newspapers have sinned without consequence for as long as they've existed, but will clarify that I'm speaking about newspapers as a whole. Although I would be interested to see how many pre-TV papers went out of press because they lost credibility as a result of violating journalism ethics. Today, we'll both agree, that the strongest brands in print media (WSJ, NYT, WP, The New Yorker) can break rules without losing readership to other papers. Their watchdog, and increasingly their competition is blogs. And to tie back to the original point, Brian does his job by highlighting the follies of lolmsm.
*Did I just hear correctly that Phil Eck was on Price is Right today? Somebody please confirm.