Why? Because it's the World Cup. Leave me alone.
The World Cup draw is Friday, and FIFA has finally ditched its really unbelievably complicated seeding scheme for straight FIFA rankings, which screw you Sepp Blatter. In 2006 the USA would have received a seed if they'd gone with that.
Anyway, here's a hypothetically totally fair draw with each team given a seed corresponding to its FIFA ranking, with the team's Soccer Power Index (a Nate Silver joint) in parens afterwards:
|Seed||Team A||SPI||Seed||Team B||SPI||Seed||Team C||SPI||Seed||Team D||SPI||Avg|
|3||Holland||4||14||Ivory Coast||9||19||Australia||22||30||New Zealand||91||38.5|
The USA is in the second-worst group but even that group seems far more doable and balanced than what they got in '06 and what they're staring down on Friday. The Silver average reveals everyone's main desire: get drawn in the same group as South Africa, New Zealand, and/or North Korea. Those teams are all horrendous relative to the field.
Unfortunately, That's not happening unless the USA pulls the 1-in-8 longshot and slips into the South Africa group:
Pot 1 will consist of the eight seeded teams and will be drawn into groups at the outset of the Friday's event.
Pot 2 consists of CONCACAF, Asia and Oceania and will be drawn, next with no restrictions as to where those eight teams can be drawn.
The USA cannot draw in with Australia, North Korea, New Zealand, or South Korea, the #19, 28, 29, 30, and 31 teams in the tournament according to FIFA. Nor can they get in with #27 Honduras, but we knew that already. In sum: YAY. There is one team in its pot that the US wouldn't want to get drawn with: Mexico. The other six teams are the weakest in the field with the exception of Australia. The CONCACAF powers are worse off than any other team with a chance of advancing to the second round.
Why don't the World Cup doyens do it like this anyway? There's only one group that has an overload of one federation—Group 8 has three UEFA teams—and that can be fixed by flipping Ghana and Slovakia. If you want to separate Chile and Brazil you can just flip Chile with the Ivory Coast. You get geographical dispersion, seriously reduced chances at Groups of Death, and a fairer tournament all around.
AUGUSTA, Ga. – ESPN and The Augusta Sports Council announced today (Monday, Nov. 23) that University of Michigan fifth-year senior punter Zoltan Mesko (Twinsburg, Ohio/Twinsburg HS) is one of three finalists for the 2009 Ray Guy Award, presented annually to the nation’s top collegiate punter. Mesko is joined as a finalist by Georgia’s Drew Butler and Florida’s Chaz Henry.
Mesko is the second Wolverine to be named a finalist for the award. Hayden Epstein was a finalist during the award’s inaugural season (2000). Mesko was a semifinalist last season. He looks to become the fourth punter in Big Ten history to win the award, joining Wisconsin’s Kevin Stemke (2000), Purdue’s Travis Dorsch (2001) and Ohio State’s B.J. Sanders (2003).
A preseason first-team All-American, Mesko is sixth nationally in punting with a U-M season record 44.5-yard average. He has helped the Wolverines list second nationally in net punting with a 40.9-yard average. Mesko has been extremely proficient in all phases, with 17 punts over 50 yards, 18 fair caught, three touchbacks and 15 downed inside the opposition’s 20-yard line. He has punted 52 times for 2,312 yards, including a 66-yard season-long punt against Western Michigan.
Mesko has already been named to the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team and is a finalist for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award and the Danny Wuerffel Trophy. He was a semifinalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy, presented by the National Football Foundation, and is a candidate for Academic All-America honors after being selected CoSIDA Academic All-District IV first team earlier this month.
The 10th annual award will be announced live on ESPN during the Home Depot ESPNU College Football Awards Show on Thursday, Dec. 10. The 2009 winner of the Ray Guy Award will be honored at a banquet by the Augusta Sports Council and The Augusta Chronicle in late January 2010.
AUGUSTA, Ga. –The Augusta Sports Council announced today that University of Michigan fifth-year senior punter Zoltan Mesko (Twinsburg, Ohio/Twinsburg HS) is one of 10 semifinalists for the 2009 Ray Guy Award, presented annually to the nation’s top collegiate punter. This is the second straight season that Mesko has been selected as a semifinalist for the award.
Mesko and Iowa’s Ryan Donahue are the only representatives from the Big Ten Conference. Following are the other semifinalists: Drew Butler (Georgia), Peter Caldwell (Utah State), Desi Cullen (Connecticut), Johnny Hekker (Oregon State), Chas Henry (Florida), Jeff Locke (UCLA), Rob Long (Syracuse) and Matt Reagan (Memphis). Mesko, Donahue and Henry are the only returning semifinalists from last season.
Mesko leads the Big Ten and is sixth nationally in punting with a U-M season record 45-yard average. He has helped the Wolverines lead the conference and list second nationally in net punting (42.4 avg.). Mesko has been extremely proficient in all phases, with 15 punts over 50 yards, 15 fair caught and 13 downed inside the opposition’s 20-yard line. He has punted 43 times for 1,934 yards, including a 66-yard season long punt against Western Michigan.
Mesko has already been named to the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team and is a finalist for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award and the Danny Wuerffel Trophy. He was a semifinalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy, presented by the National Football Foundation, and is a candidate for Academic All-America honors after being selected CoSIDA Academic All-District IV first team last week.
A national voting panel will trim the list to three finalists, who will be named on Nov. 23. The 10th annual award will be presented live on ESPN during the Home Depot ESPNU College Football Awards Show on Thursday, Dec. 10. The winner will be honored at a banquet by the Augusta Sports Council and The Augusta Chronicle in late January 2010.
New safety recruit Carvin Johnson has a coach, and he stopped by the Rivals free board to post some stuff about the newest Wolverine. Since Rivals deletes posts after a while I've reproduced his comments here for posterity. Original thread will be here for a while.
Hey guy's. Just wanted to stop by and give you a little info on Carvin. I'm a coach on his team, and just wanted to throw a few things out there.
First and foremost, he is a football player. Bottom line. He is the kind of kid you want on your team. He is a good kid, with good grades who does the right thing. His 40 yard dash time won't dazzle you, but everything else about him will.
He is a tremendous athlete. Catches anything thrown around him. Whenever we get in trouble on offense, we put him in at WR and just throw him jump balls. 9 out of 10 he will come down with. Hits very hard for only weighing 185, and is always in the right place at the right time.
Just wanted to stop by and let you know that you are getting a tremendous football player. Don't let the ratings fool you. Your head coach got a phone call from PacMan Jones in the offseason telling him he needs to see this kid (Carvin). Carvin works with a well-known personal trainer here in the little bit of offseason we have, and he also happened to be training PacMan. They worked together, and PacMan absolutely loved him.
Anyway, just wanted to give you a little info on him. Best of luck the rest of the season, and if you have any questions at all about Carvin let me know.
Responding to a question about LSU:
LSU is weird about offering kids who haven't attended their camps. In fact, the LSU recruiting coordinator called school today asking if he dropped the ball on this to which our head coach replied "yes".
I understand your worries about offering a kid with no other big time offers. I too scratch my head over some of the guys LSU offers.
Like I said previously. Carvin is a very good player, playing against the highest classification in Louisiana High School football. He is a huge reason we are 9-0 and ranked 2nd in the state.
Re: Can he actually make plays on the ball as a DB?
Yes he can make plays. Has made some amazing INT's in his time at our school.
I canceled my Rivals subscription over a year ago so I can't tell, does he have any highlights out? If not, I'll make sure and send his highlights out by the end of the week.
Re: thanks for posting here, couple questions
Yes, the LSU recruiting coordinator called today asking if he dropped the ball on this one. I honestly believe that if LSU were to offer, it would be too late. Plus their class is filling up.
I'll talk to him tomorrow and find out what position he projects at, etc. because I honestly have no clue. I'll make sure to post more as soon as I find out.
Re: Thanks HHH, one ?...
In a lot of ways he reminds me of Craig Steltz(LSU) who also played for our high school. Craig had more size and speed, but they play the same way. They were both leaders and always in the right spot.
I'll make sure and tell him. IMO Miles has really gotten lazy in recruiting our area. You need to camp at LSU to get looked at. Ah well. Anyway, we'll be pumping out some new film on him shortly that you should enjoy.
I'm absolutely pumped that he chose Michigan because I personally have a lot of respect for what Michigan football is all about. The tradition, etc. That to go along with Rich Rodriguez being my favorite coach in the college game, and I'm excited. Our coaching staff used to go to WVU when he coached there, and hopefully we'll be making a trip up to Ann Arbor soon.
Best of luck this weekend and for the rest of the season. I'll be sure to drop by from time to time and let you know how Carvin is doing.
And on Rodriguez:
Re: RR being my favorite coach in the college game
The thing I like most about him is him as a person. When other coaches and myself made the trips to WVU in the past to see them practice, etc. he treated everyone of us with nothing but respect. This is rare in big time college football.
I also LOVE the offense he brings with him. All you need is a few key players, and this offense is damn near unstoppable.
As for his future with Michigan, its hard to say. I think if given until year 3 or 4, he will be winning the Big 10 consistently. It's such night and day under what you were used to with Carr, it's just gonna take a little while imo.
Press release below; I've replaced the headline with my own snark.
Key takeaway: #6 Big Ten team gets either the #7 Big 12 Team or a CUSA team in a really terrible NYD bowl game. Another game in which the Big Ten has a theoretical matchup advantage. I don't like playing CUSA. I'd rather play a mediocre B12 team than some random CUSA team. Kansas State or Texas A&M is more interesting than Houston to me.
COTTON BOWL STADIUM TO SORT OF CONTINUE NEW YEAR’S DAY BOWL TRADITION
DALLAS, TEXAS – Cotton Bowl Stadium, second only to the famed Rose Bowl Stadium in hosting [sic] more college bowl games than any other football arena in history, will once again be the home to a New Year’s Day intercollegiate post-season football game – the Dallas Football Classic [sic] -- following next year’s regular season.
“The promise of a new bowl game helps ensure that the Cotton Bowl remains a premier [sic] venue for college football,” said Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert. “The renovated stadium is a great site for games, as well as an affordable and accessible [sic] option for teams and fans. We are excited to continue the bowl tradition at the Cotton Bowl and Fair Park.”
The nation’s newest bowl, the Dallas Football Classic will utilize a unique rotation system involving three major conferences. The Big 12 Conference, the Big Ten Conference, and Conference USA have all added the Dallas Football Classic to their future bowl line-ups, with all three agreements running through the 2013 regular season.
Following is the four-year schedule (selection placement shown for the Big Ten and Big 12 excludes BCS selections):
January 1, 2011 – Big 12 (#7) vs. Big Ten (#6)
January 1, 2012 – Conference USA vs. Big Ten (#6)
January 1, 2013 – Big 12 (#7) vs. Big Ten (#6)
January 1, 2014 – Conference USA vs. Big Ten (#6)
(Should an “at-large” selection be required, Conference USA will provide a back-up team in years 2011 and 2013, and the Big 12 will provide a back-up team in years 2012 and 2014.)
“Obviously we are honored that the Big 12, Big Ten, and Conference USA had the confidence to sign with us as we head into our inaugural season next year; they provide the key ingredients,” said bowl President Tom Starr. “In addition, we felt it was very important to land the New Year’s Day berth, because that has always been the traditional date for college bowl games [that weren't terrible]. We have outstanding conferences, the best game date possible, and a beautifully refurbished stadium filled with heritage and tradition; I couldn’t be more pleased.”
The game will become official after receiving its licensing from the NCAA at the annual post-season bowl meetings next April.
Big 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe: “The Big 12 is pleased to have finalized its partnership with the Dallas Football Classic. This is a great location for our players, coaches, and fans. We also are excited about the match-up with a quality opponent from the Big Ten.”
Big Ten Commissioner James Delany: “The Big Ten looks forward to taking part in the inaugural Dallas Football Classic on New Year’s Day in 2011, the start of a four-year agreement to play in historic Cotton Bowl Stadium against a team from the Big 12 or Conference USA. The Big Ten has played at least one post-season game in the state of Texas in every season since 1995. With the number of Big Ten alumni in Texas, playing a post-season game in the City of Dallas is a natural fit and should provide an outstanding experience for our student-athletes, coaches, and fans.”
Conference USA Commissioner Britton Banowsky: “For decades, college football fans have gathered at historic Cotton Bowl Stadium on New Year’s Day. We are so pleased that the tradition will continue. It is a special venue in a dynamic city. We are excited to be a part of it.”
THE MODERATOR: Next up, Michigan head coach John Beilein. He welcomes back four starters from last year's squad, including Pre-Season All-Big Ten selection Manny Harris. Coach, we'll start with an opening statement and then open the floor for questions.
COACH BEILEIN: We're excited to get the season going. I think we're really playing an attractive schedule that will be demanding out of conference, and then when we have the 18 Big Ten games now and the depth of talent in returning players in the Big Ten, it may be one of the most challenging schedules I personally have ever played and maybe Michigan's ever played in a long time.
But we're going after it. And we're excited about it.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. You've been able to rebuild the program just by letting the guys know they can trust in you. They talk about your influence on them and several Michigan high school coaches have talked about that. Would you talk about the trust factor that you've built back at Michigan?
COACH BEILEIN: I think it's the way we've tried to coach for a long time that really if you have a relationship, really strong relationships with your players, that they will, they'll usually -- adds a lot of credibility.
You use those old adages. I hate to use the cliches, but they don't care how much they know until they know how much you care. Rules without relationships equals rebellion. Those are two that we use all the time. But you have to build those relationships and then you have that trust. So it's just the thing that we've always done as a coach. And hopefully it's one of the things that can make our program special. And I don't think we're alone in this. I think a lot of coaches, successful coaches do the same thing.
Q. One of the kids on your team, Zack Novak, could you talk about his development from when he came on campus. He was suspended one game and all that just talk about how he's developed not only on the court but as a person.
COACH BEILEIN: First of all, he's in the business school. He's been admitted to the business school at the University of Michigan, which is a great honor to him.
He is a wonderful kid whose body has really changed from probably being a 225-pound probably just slightly overweight, small forward, whatever position is, he's sort of a hybrid of doing a lot of things. He played the two-man and four-man for us last year. Not too many people get to do those two tasks.
And he's really just -- he's done a great job of being a leader. As a sophomore I would say he's one of our leaders, and it gives us a great combination of a kid who can shoot and a kid who can really do a lot of the glue-type of things to keep a team going.
He dives on the floor probably more than anybody. Takes charges as much as anybody. Those are winning plays that win games. Everybody looks at the scores and the rebounds and all those type of things. Sometimes there's a lot of winning plays in there that separate us from the other team.
Q. You obviously have this program turning in the right direction. There's a lot of positives, a lot of high expectations this year. Because of the recent past and the struggles this program went through to get to this point, have you told the kids: You know, let's not get too high on this thing, let's be a little cautious going into this season?
COACH BEILEIN: You know, I wrote them a letter at the beginning of the year or just before we got here about how this was -- we're still hunting. Until we can get Michigan to point where they're in the NCAA tournament, this is normal to be in the NCAA tournament, we haven't turned anything around yet. I think that's where Michigan belongs. If you're in the tournament every year, dang it, you've got a chance of winning it.
That's where we want to go, sustain the program. So this is the second year with a very aggressive schedule, that's what we have to do. So I don't think we've lost that hunger or anybody's thinking about last year as much as saying, hey, hopefully we have a good team and we're going to be playing with the big boys all year long and let's see what we can do.
Q. With the ethics committee stuff and the board of directors voting today, kind of what's your take on what has initially been proposed?
COACH BEILEIN: Boy, there's so many things. Overall, I was in favor of many of the things that they're going to vote about today, but I can't be too specific. But I think we're making progress in some pretty significant areas, I think, according to what we'll see what happens to that.
Q. You played a tough schedule last year with UCLA and Duke. Could you just talk about the value of playing some of those tough teams in the non conference portion of the schedule?
COACH BEILEIN: I think when you have the right team, there's great value in it. When you don't have the right team, it can really ruin the confidence of your team. I think teams have to be very careful about when they do schedule like this.
And it usually comes down to the last couple of games who you're going to play. Are you going to bring in a guaranteed game or are you going to take on another difficult team? And really one of the reasons we do it to make sure that we get -- we've had UCLA at Crisler. Duke at Crisler. Now it's UConn at Crisler and the following year it will be Kansas at Crisler.
That's the back end of things. And in the meantime you have to go to Allen Fieldhouse and try to get a W. But I think we have enough of those games that it gives our kids a great taste. It's just difficult that we've had to space one in the second semester.
It looks like we may continue to do that. But we've got to be very careful of that because of how tough the Big Ten schedule is in the second semester.
Q. Do you worry about the NBA talk with Manny Harris and a little bit with DeShawn Sims being a distraction? Or have those guys handled that stuff well?
COACH BEILEIN: I think if you frame that correctly it could be a great motivator for them that you want to -- we want our guys, if they're going to be going to the NBA want to have careers in the NBA. In order to have careers in the NBA there's a lot of things that you need to be able to do, whether it's getting all your assignments in on time and doing all the tests that you have to do off the court of handling your personal business is a big thing.
So you use that as part of this. This is going to help you if you're fortunate enough to have that opportunity. So we try to use it as a positive there. And some days you want them to practice like there's NBA scouts all over your practice. But, then again, in games you may want them to play like there is no NBA.
This is your only opportunity to play basketball, make the most of it because it's right here and right now is really what's most important.
Q. Can you talk about what you feel the conference schedule is like right now? Is there too many games? Too few games with the 18-game schedule?
COACH BEILEIN: It's been difficult for us, because we have -- the opportunity to be on CBS TV with a big game in the second semester has really cramped ours together. I particularly am not in favor of the times where you play. I think this year we have -- let me see how does it go again.
It starts on a Sunday and then it's a Wednesday, then it's a Saturday, and then it's a Tuesday. There's like five games in a row. And it's very difficult to go through those stretches with the amount of travel that we have to do.
At the same time, everybody's doing it. And everybody has -- you know sometimes when you're playing somebody, it's not who you're playing, it's where you're playing them and when you're playing them that really will make a difference in some games.
So it is difficult. But thank goodness we have -- I was with Gene Keady last night and they're talking about playing a Thursday-Saturday game, leaving on Wednesday and coming back Sunday. So those are tough days, too.
It's part of this league with the footprint that we have that there's a lot of travel involved. We're very fortunate to be able to do it mostly with charter planes and quick bus trips.